Saturday, November 04, 2017

More cool science, especially space!

Before plunging into space... In an extensive interview, posted on Philstockworld and The Huffington Post, I am grilled on a wide variety of topics, from Artificial Intelligence to human history, from the secret magic of fair-competition to the honey-pot trap of symbolism, from our poisonous politics to the prospect of a 20 hour work week and the looming Age of Amateurs… all the way to our fast-changing notions of a “singularity.”

== Out There! ==

I was in Denver attending the annual symposium of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program. (I'm on NIAC's advisory council.) The talks were fascinating, re potential breakthrough projects that are just barely this side of plausible. The Symposium is available via Livestream.  

See a cool video about the Planetary Society's Project Lightsail, that will expand from a mere bread loaf cube-sat to 32 square meters and launch humanity (at last!) into the era of interplanetary sailing.

A trip down memory lane.  Back in the 1960s, some Brits perpetrated one of the best UFO hoaxes, ever.  The whole point of the hoax was for it to be taken seriously. "We thought the government should have some sort of plan if aliens did land. So we gave them a chance to try out whatever plan they had - but they didn't have one."

== Solar System Marvels! ==

Empty lava tubes on the moon are real, and could form a perfect place for early habitats… if anyone would want to stay for long on that sterile, resource-poor, dusty plain. Still, NASA’s NIAC program has funded interesting studies of how to get robots down there, exploring these tubes as potential habitats. Prove me wrong!

Breathtaking panoramas from Mars, taken by our loyal robot explorer as Curiosity rises ever higher along the flanks of Mount Sharp.


When the InSight lander launches to the Red Planet next year, it will contain the names of members of the public, and you can submit your name for it to be included. And I support this!  Still, read my story “Mars Opposition, - in my collection Insistence of Vision - to see a conceivable drawback!

I’ve long deemed Phobos, the largest moon of Mars, to be extremely valuable territory, an ideal staging and infrastructure base, even more-so if there are recoverable volatiles below the surface. Only now, news that its surface may carry intense static charge. Argh. Nothing is easy. 

Planetary Radio podcasts Science Fiction Greats at the Mars Society — Gregory Benford, David Brin, Geoffrey Landis and Larry Niven — about terraforming Mars, the origin of life, the drive to explore and more. The conference was held September 13, 2017 at UC Irvine.

What would happen if there were an accident on the moon? The Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competitions "… imagine realistic problems that could happen in the future, and how liability is apportioned and decided and who's responsible," explains Boggs. "Here on earth, obviously, different countries have different laws about what happens if I crash into your car or if I ruin your fence," she explains. "Well, what happens if I do that to you in space?"

This should not have been a partisan issue. Making a new space station in lunar orbit makes so much sense for the U.S.  And sure enough, because the Obama Administration (and nearly all space scientists) favored it, the Republican dogma became “to heck with lunar orbit!  Let’s do Apollo again!’ 

In fact, there are half a dozen great reasons to do a lunar orbit station; 

(1) test deep space expedition capabilities, 

(2) bring in asteroidal samples for examination, 

(3) lunar science from orbit… plus 

(4) a national defense use I won’t go into here. Plus 

(5) charge lots of $ for services to wannabe groups who are desperate to plant dusty footprints on a lunar surface that appears (at least for now) to be of no near term use to adults. (Which explains why Republicans want to join the silly rush to go back down there.) 

Now comes news that the Republican Trump Administration appears to have backed off its determination to cancel the cis-lunar station — because suddenly there’s an agreement with the Russians to share this station, like we share the ISS.  Sound good? Naw. It’s just more evidence of betrayal, because it will eradicate possibilities # 4 &5, while forcing us to share #2.  Let me reiterate: sharing the lunar orbit station is at-minimum stupid and possibly another sign of something much worse.
  
== And beyond… ==

Terrific discovery, sleuthing the missing baryonic matter (normal, not “dark”) and tracing much of it to hot, diffuse filaments between galaxies.

Voyage through the depths of the cosmos with the beautifully illustrated The Zoomable Universe: An Epic Tour Through Cosmic Scale from Almost Everything to Nearly Nothing, by astrobiologist Caleb Scharf, incorporating the latest scientific observations, theories and speculations.

Wow, ever-weirder planets. Astronomers report the discovery of a new ultra-short-period planet and summarize the properties of all such planets for which the mass and radius have been measured. The new planet, EPIC~228732031b, was discovered in K2 Campaign 10. It has a radius of1.81 +0.16/-0.12 R and orbits a G dwarf with a period of 8.9 hours.

So far, we have managed to spectrally measure the albedos of two super-Jupiter planets that orbit their stars incredibly close.  One appears to be deep blue in color while the other is blacker than asphalt.  Well, its sunward face is about 4700 degrees, tearing apart molecular hydrogen.  Wow.

Speaking of which, ah well. The secular and occasional dimming of Tabby’s Star appears to likely be due to a ring or rings of dust, not alien megastructures. Aw shucks. (Though part of me is glad.)

The U.S. Naval Academy has reinstated brief lessons in celestial navigation this year, nearly two decades after the full class was determined outdated and cut from the curriculum. “It's the escalating threat of cyber attacks that has led the Navy to dust off its tools to measure the angles of stars. After all, you can't hack a sextant.” 


== Wow. You are a member of a civilization that does stuff like this! ==

Now, for the first time, scientists have detected gravitational waves from merging neutron stars, using LIGO and Virgo. All of the gravitational waves that LIGO and other detectors previously discovered were from the mergers of black holes. When a star goes supernova, its material collapses to form a dense core. If this core is massive enough, it may form a black hole, which has such a powerful gravitational pull that not even light can escape. A less massive core will form a neutron star.

Black holes are denser than neutron stars, so the signals from their mergers are relatively brief. "Previously detected black-hole mergers lasted for a second, maybe two seconds. This latest event lasted nearly a whole minute."

By working quickly, astronomers used both conventional and gravitational-wave observatories to watch the same event: the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational-wave source. In contrast, black-hole mergers are not expected to produce any light, which means conventional telescopes cannot detect them. Here's a fascinating description of the science learned so far - and in the near future - from the recent gravitational wave detections.

Now... something small, for the record. Next time I see Kip Thorne, I mean to ask him: does LIGO ever detect "events" that seem too narrow in frequency and too brief or lacking in lateral beadth to be noteworthy? Maybe strangely weaker at one LIGO station than the other? See my novel EARTH for a weird explanation!  Just sayin'...

== The METI cult keeps rearing its silly head ==

My friend Douglas Vakoch is a great guy… with an unfortunate obsession. Not his passion to search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) but his eagerness to beam “messages” (METI) without pausing to address the concerns of colleagues and the public.  Alas METI has taken on many of the traits of a cult, including utter dismissal of all criticism and contemptuous dismissal of smart colleagues, or any duty to the public. In this case, Doug shrugs off Stephen Hawking’s concerns with a blithe paragraph-incantation — one that has been refuted decisively over and over again.

“It’s the fact that every civilization that does have the ability to travel to Earth could already pick up I Love Lucy. So we have been sending our existence into space with radio signals for 78 years. Even before that, two and a half billion years, we have been telling the Universe that there is life on here because of the oxygen in our atmosphere. So if there’s any alien out there paranoid about competition, it could have already come and wipe us out. If they’re on their way, it’s a lot better strategy to say we’re interested in being conversational partners. Let’s strike up a new conversation.”

“Sometimes people talk about this interstellar communication as an effort to join the galactic club. What I find so strange is no one ever talks about paying our dues or even submitting an application. And that’s what METI does,” Vakoch said. “It’s actually contributing something to the galaxy instead of saying gimme gimme gimme me. What can we do for someone else.”

What malarkey! Many of us have discussed every single one of these issues. In EXISTENCE I cover... let's see... all of them. Indeed, Alan Tough's "Invitation to ETI" site did this long ago, as Doug well knows. As does my own contribution to that "invitation." The reason Doug and his colleagues so strenuously avoid thorough, open, public and collegial vetting of their cult project is simple: they know these rationalizations would not survive.

Finally....

John Michael Godier’s well-researched YouTube channel podcasts about a wide range of science and science fictional concepts. For example, this two parter about the concept of “uplift” done in conjunction with Isaac Arthur.

89 comments:

David Brin said...

I did answer TCB briefly, under the previous posting, before saying onward.

TCB said...

"I’ve long deemed Phobos, the largest moon of Mars, to be extremely valuable territory, an ideal staging and infrastructure base, even more-so if there are recoverable volatiles below the surface. Only now, news that its surface may carry intense static charge. Argh. Nothing is easy."

Welp, I guess that means no angora-wool spacesuits.

TCB said...

By the by, thank you, Dr. Brin, for providing one of the warmer campfires in the internet. I acknowledge that I had a brief hissy fit last thread. All I can say about that is that hissy fits (in my experience) are good cleansers in moderation, and serve to let one's fellows know that you're a human with a nervous system and clear boundaries. The now-former President should have thrown a few of them! (Imagine Barack Obama teeing off on Fox News in a presser, calling it out for being "a GOP propaganda arm run by a man who only sought American citizenship so he could own US media and use them to undermine US politics and civil society, and whose ill-gotten citizenship I would revoke immediately if the Constitution did not forbid it!"

That would have been salutary, I think. I like what Aristotle said:

"Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy."

Having a hissy fit every day, now, that IS unhealthy.

LarryHart said...

@Paul SB,

In case you're interested, I also answered you about moral absolutes in the previous thread.
The response ended up just below Dr Brin's "onward!" (which I then reposted).

David Brin said...

Not hissy at all, TCB.It is legitimate to question why I pay too much attention to our psychologically impaired zero-summer.

Paul SB said...

Hello Larry,

"That there are immutable laws of morality which have nothing to do with whether a culture or an individual believes or accepts them. Just as you are subject to the law of gravity whether you believe in it or not, so donzelion would have it that "slavery is always wrong" is a fact whether you believe it or not."
- I get that, but it's kind of nonsensical, isn't it? Morals are the creation of conscious beings. Unless you can demonstrate that the universe is a living, conscious entity, and that its moral concepts permeate through its entirety, then the idea of moral laws that are in any sense equivalent to physical laws is absurd. Of course it is an article of faith to those who believe that their personal presumptions about the nature of the Creator exactly match the real thing, which has in no way even been shown to exist. And he accuses others of hubris...

"Worse, he says things that are different, in fact opposite, from reality."
- That has always been the case. I was pointing out the double standard he is holding up - no absolutes for us, but his values are exactly those absolute morals that we all must be forced to believe by him and his god (who seems to just be his own ego). When he wants to argue that his bigotry should be tolerated he goes with relativism, but then turns around and argues against fairness for all humankind as against absolute morals.

And he slanders pretty much everyone, though you seem to be his second favorite target after twisting Dr. Brin's words to mean absolutely nothing like what he said. I am sure he grins wickedly every time you point out his slanders, because he knows he is getting under your collar. That is why I think it would be best not to feed this troll. It's not that he ever says anything that can't easily be batted away by fact and logic. How long do you want to play Whack-a-Mole? He'll keep going until his hatred sends him off to that great keyboard in the sky.

You kind of said it yourself, here:

"Why not ask me if populations who lie at higher rates **should** be disbelieved or ignored at higher rates. No exceptions necessary."

The whole bit about incarceration at higher or lower rates is one of those complex questions that stupid people oversimplify. To a moron, it's about which "race" is inherently more given to crime. It doesn't matter if it is the guilty or the innocent who are incarcerated, as long as you throw enough of those "darkies" in jail so good, upstanding Caucasian criminals don't have to interact with them. Stupid people on the other side of the ledger think it's all about racism, which is true to some extent, but there's more to it than that. Studies of sentencing has shown time and time again that judges tend to be much more lenient on Caucasian criminals than other social groups. But they are also much more lenient on upper-class criminals than lower class criminals, so the confound of poverty rears its head. Then consider the extent to which financial stress and the stresses of living in poverty-stricken areas drive more people to desperate acts. By blaming individuals (either for being criminals or for being racists) we neatly avoid addressing the underlying causes, which have less to do with race and more to do with social inequality. But it's much easier to throw some people in jail than to fix social inequality. It's inequality that drives the glorious competition that makes high-born, smart people like our blessed president the powerful people they are, so they can shepherd the rest of us wisely and with care.

TCB said...

Re: the lunar lava tubes (at least one of which is damn big!) Is there any good reason why Gerard K. O'Neill's proposal for mining lunar soil and using mass drivers to lob it into space for use in colony construction is any less a good idea than it sounded back in the 1970's?

As O'Neill described it, the lunar base needed to be hardly more than some robot bulldozers, the mass driver, and a basement full of frozen Sam Rockwells.

O wait, that last part is Moon. Oh, and the robot got fired after some scandals leaked out. Why is the future so complicated?

David Brin said...

Hurling lunar regolith and dust into orbit only helps if you have metals, polymers, composites and volatiles and binders out there to make frameworks the fill with such bulk materials. In other words, yeah, you could fill backs with sand. Maybe even use solar to sinter or fuse it into chunks. But the useful stuff will come from somewhere else... in the near term.

LarryHart said...

BTW, now that there is no news of antifa activists starting a civil war or (as one caller to Norman Goldman yesterday had it) setting off EMP devices in 40 American cities, does that discredit any of the right-wing rumor mongers?

I didn't think so.

SNL's fake "Lester Holt" had it right. Nothing matters.

Paul SB said...

TCB,

If that was a hissy fit, I'm okay with it. Your hissy fits are fretting compared to the barks of our small pack of trolls here.

If I were to set up shop on Phobos I would worry less about angora and more about waking up to find that every day is a bad hair day. Well, if I had hair ...

Then there's the issues it could cause for electronic equipment.

Paul SB said...

Fretting? I meant to say "refreshing," though I wouldn't mind getting my hands on a good fret saw again.

I, King of Autocorrect Error, so declare.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"BTW, now that there is no news of antifa activists starting a civil war or (as one caller to Norman Goldman yesterday had it) setting off EMP devices in 40 American cities, does that discredit any of the right-wing rumor mongers?"

Well, somebody did punch out Rand Paul today. Does that count?

True to his libertarian leanings, he promptly called the police to have the fellow arrested. Did just pull a piece and stand his ground. tch, tch.

Good article in the Guardian today about the Karlsruhe Tritium Neutrino Experiment. Written by someone who actually understands what they're trying to do.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/nov/04/neutrino-ghost-particle-of-the-universe

Zepp Jamieson said...

"I’ve long deemed Phobos, the largest moon of Mars, to be extremely valuable territory, an ideal staging and infrastructure base, even more-so if there are recoverable volatiles below the surface. Only now, news that its surface may carry intense static charge. Argh. Nothing is easy."

Populate Phobos with long haired cats. Problem solved.

Populate the other moon with New Dealers. "Say buddy, can you spare a Deimos?"

Alfred Differ said...

Hurling bags of dust into lunar orbit probably isn't the idea. They could be refined somewhat on the ground where there is enough gravity to help the process. They could also be sintered there if the desired shapes make sense for use in orbit and would survive launch. I imagine little Lego blocks fashioned on the ground and then sent up. Anything worth extracting is done on the ground and sent up separate.

Yah... other useful stuff will have to come from somewhere else, but I'm not down on the Moon. Look at mineral extraction industries on Earth and you'll find gravel and sand are profitable to a point. No one builds cars with the stuff, but we do build infrastructure with them.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp | I'll bet you Rand Paul isn't in a position to contract private security forces for himself. Only some libertarians would pull a piece. Shortly after that, the rest of us would point to the oath and start talking about excessive use of force.

Most of us are more inclined to contract for security than provide it ourselves. 8)

Zepp Jamieson said...

I was mocking Rand Paul in particular and not libertarians in general. He's what we call a "Big Mouth Libertarian." The more neighbourly (and sane) ones are "Small Mouth Libertarians".

Zepp Jamieson said...

Thinking about Phobos some more (not more cat jokes, I promise): it's large enough that an object could be put in close orbit. Could it not be used as a power source?

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Well, somebody did punch out Rand Paul today. Does that count?


Weeeeeell, it's not like I don't fantasize about punching Rand Paul, but I don't think he counts as a fascist. He's actually one of the few Republican Senators voting against the party line.

LarryHart said...

@Zepp,

Rand Paul's reputation is that of a libertarian, probably more because of his father than himself. His voting record is more "corporatarian".

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

I think before you float proposals for using any lunar lava tubes discovered, shouldn't we consult the Selenites first?

Paul SB said...

And those rings of dust around Tabby's Star - are we sure they aren't dust bunnies being chased by a ring of space cats? Caitians, or maybe Kzinti?

TCB said...

Paul SB, we have known for more than a century that Selenites are easily dispatched with an umbrella.

Paul SB said...

TCB,

Yes, but isn't that a little rude?

I like the article about the filaments. It always seemed to me that there might be ordinary matter that could account for some of the gravitational effects that prompted hypothesizing dark matter, since not everything out there glows. As old as the Universe is, I figured there might be a whole lot of black dwarf remnants and black holes that could account for at least some of the missing mass, though that does not suggest I am skeptical about the existence of dark matter in general.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Paradise Papers
The latest financial "leak"

Dr Brin is right these secrets WILL come out

Tony Fisk said...

I'd be interested in knowing what's currently going down in Saudi Arabia, as well.

A game is afoot.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I've heard one report that the new strongman in the Kingdom has an extreme antipathy to Trump.

David Brin said...

My prediction from EARTH (1989) and The Transparent Society (1997) long overdue, but inevitable. The we would start to see the seamy underbelly of the oligarchy that is trying to topple our nation and civilization back into feudalism.

https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/paradise-papers-exposes-donald-trump-russia-links-and-piggy-banks-of-the-wealthiest-1-percent/

David Brin said...

Hey donzelion! Wasn't Prince Alaweed a major founding partner of Murdoch's News Corp and Fox? Or was that another guy?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Good eye, Doctor. Alaweed is the minority shareholder in Fox News.
He is noted for saying "A strong American government is bad for us." although it's not clear who the "us" is, or what the context might be.

TCB said...

All the same, just to be safe, I am all for smacking Prince Alwaleed with an umbrella. Just to make sure "us" is not the Selenites.

Actually, he and an number of others are said to be "under house arrest in 5-star hotels" in Riyadh or something to that effect.

And AND he owns a piece of Twitter, and new stories are emerging about Russian oligarchs having invested years ago in Twitter and Facebook.

I mean, jeez, should we just burn our smartphones?

Paul SB said...

I think if we burned our smartphones there are a lot of people who wouldn't survive the withdrawal effects. It's worse than delirium tremens.

Alfred Differ said...

meh. We out-number them and can out-innovate them.

This is a short lived thing like particular viruses.
They will find new ways, we will find new defenses, and we will co-evolve.
In the meantime, there people will be exposed to OUR viral messages.

Marino said...

"Say buddy, can you spare a Deimos"

such stuff deserves serving for life in a supermax pun-itentiary...:-)

Paul SB said...

Marino,

Back in my Pleistocene college days I had a group of buddies who would come to my place two or three nights a week to play cards or role play (it amazes me some times that I managed to graduate). The puns would fly so thick that I made a Pun Tax jar. How much money the violator had to put in depended on how many groans. It was small change in those days - nickel, dime or quarter - as we were all either in college and up to our necks in debt, or didn't go to college and had very low earnings. I would use the money for chips and soda for the next session.

I would rather not have the pun-itentiary (great work for a non-native speaker, BTW), because even humor that makes us groan is better than endless bickering with turds we can't vanquish because we don't know where they are. But perhaps Dr. Brin could start up his own Pun Tax. Anyone caught pun-ishing the rest of us will have to give to the charity of their choice.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

We may outnumber them and have the potential to out innovate them, but they have a much more communal focus than most of us. We believe so much in Freedom here that we are all busy exercising our individual freedoms, caring way too much about showing off status symbols and eating whatever junk food hits of hypothalamus that they can get together and short-circuit our system while we are still trying to show off how rich we are. The 2016 election came out of the blue for most Americans because most Americans are so sure they are invincible they aren't looking.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"such stuff deserves serving for life in a supermax pun-itentiary...:-) "

Don't. You'll only encourage me...

Jon S. said...

What's wrong, Zepp? Shouldn't you become a pundit? Making these things just makes you pungry for more, you know. I don't see why a trained punslinger should face punishment.

(Spider Robinson once said that the value of a pun was in the "oy!" of the beholder.)

Zepp Jamieson said...

We had a similar tax back in my RenFaire days. I was in Clan McCullan, and anyone who made a pun in earshot of the chief had to fork over twenty-five cents.

I once had to fork over $8, because I told one that caused him to bite through the stem of his pipe.

Zepp Jamieson said...

As I recall, both Spider and our host have a penchant for puns.
Pun is the loneliest number that you'll ever veer...

Anonymous said...

A fine line 'twixt pun and punishment...

A.F. Rey said...

BTW, now that there is no news of antifa activists starting a civil war or (as one caller to Norman Goldman yesterday had it) setting off EMP devices in 40 American cities, does that discredit any of the right-wing rumor mongers?

I didn't think so.


Well that's because they changed their target to a small church in a tiny community in Texas instead. You know, it's just the same... ;)

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/conspiracy-theorists-blame-texas-church-shooting-on-antifa-after-civil-war-hype-falls-flat/

A.F. Rey said...

I was in Clan McCullan, and anyone who made a pun in earshot of the chief had to fork over twenty-five cents.

Isn't that those crazy Irishmen in the Ren Faire circuit? I had a friend, Rune, who once played Irish fiddle with them, back in the day. Good days...

LarryHart said...

The RightWingWatch post linked above by A.F. Rey:

Alex Jones, the architect of the conspiracy theory outlet Infowars, hyped the November 4 protests incessantly last week, but the day after protests proved to be nonviolent, he spread unproven allegations that the man who shot and killed 26 people at a Texas church over the weekend was connected to Antifa and questioned whether the shooting was a “part of the Antifa revolution against Christians and conservatives” or involved ISIS.


Remember when the likes of ISIS were "Islamofascists"?

Now, they've switched sides?

matthew said...

Note that Prince Alwaleed famously does not like Trump, to the point of trolling him on Twitter in 2016. After Trump was POTUS-elect, Alwaleed did utter some words of reconciliation.

I've heard it seriously suggested that his arrest is not so much about corruption (official charge) or to limit his ability to rival the Crown Prince (what most experts are thinking), but as a favor to Trump to make up for the earlier insults.

matthew said...

David, I'm guessing the next post will be about the Paradise Papers, yes? You *are* going to give your thoughts on them?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Actually we were the crazy Scots. Although we borrowed lavishly from Irish culture when it suited us. I suspect if I was Rune's picture I would recognise him--the name rings a bell. I was clan lay minister, an officious pecksniff who counted heads at Sunday worship. And a noisy drunk.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: Snopes puts it best; if you believe Prince Alwaleed's 'founded' Fox, then you have to say he also founded Citibank, Twitter, and Apple (his holdings in the three latter are actually larger now by latest reports). He founded none of them, but has long been a shareholder for special, noncirculating shares in Fox's parent company. There's a lot more to the story than meets the eye (e.g., Fox calling him a 'terrorist' - multiple times - when he tried to finance the 'Ground Zero Mosque' should have been a hint that all is not as it seems in the simplistic-verse - my interpretation is the Murdochs wanted to buy him out).

Matthew: Note Alwaleed's very specific form of trolling Trump - "I bailed you out, twice!" There's no way to validate that claim, but it is quite plausible (if only one could follow chain of title to a Trump yacht in the '90s...).

As for your theory: unlikely. Higher probability is that because Alwaleed has financial heft significantly beyond that conferred by his station relative to the other central cadre of princes - he could exploit this much larger development - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-04/trump-calls-for-saudi-aramco-to-list-on-new-york-stock-exchange

(No, not whether or not Aramco lists on NYSE, but the fact that its IPO is proceeding at all.) The arrest, as with the others, was almost certainly timed to shut down that angle of corruption in what may be the largest single financial transaction of the year.

TCB said...

The Paradise Papers and our host's comments on openness and sousveillance remind me of the bit from Illuminatus! which I have probably quoted multiple times here already, but it's sooo good...

Appendix Zain: Property and Privilege

Property is theft. –P.J. Proudhon
Property is Liberty. –P.J. Proudhon
Property is impossible. –P.J. Proudhon
Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Proudhon, by piling up his contradictions this way, was not merely being French; he was trying to indicate that the abstraction “property” covers a variety of phenomena, some pernicious and some beneficial. Let us borrow a device from the semanticists and examine his triad with subscripts attached for maximum clarity.

“Property1 is theft” means that property1, created by the artificial laws of feudal, capitalist, and other authoritarian societies, is based on armed robbery. Land titles, for instance, are clear examples of property1; swords and shot were the original coins of transaction.

“Property2 is liberty” means that property2 that which will be voluntarily honored in a voluntary (anarchist) society, is the foundation of the liberty in that society. The more people’s interests are comingled and confused, as in collectivism, the more they will be stepping on each other’s toes; only when rules of the game declare clearly “This is mine and this is thine,” and the game is voluntarily accepted as worthwhile by all parties to it, can true independence be achieved.

“Property3 is impossible” means that property3 (= property1) creates so much conflict of interest that society is in perpetual undeclared civil war and must eventually devour itself (and properties1 and properties3 as well). In short, Proudhon, in his own way, foresaw the Snafu Principle*. He also forsaw that communism would only perpetuate and aggravate the conflicts, and that anarchy is the only viable alternative to this chaos.

It is not averred, of course, that property2 will come into existence only in a totally voluntary society; many forms of it already exist. The error of most libertarians – especially the followers (!) of the egregious Ayn Rand – is to assume that all property1 is property2. The distinction can be made by any IQ above 70 and is absurdly simple. The test is to ask, of any title of ownership you are asked to accept or which you ask others to accept, “Would this be honored in a free society of rationalists, or does it require the armed might of a State to force people to honor it?” If it be the former, it is property2 and represents liberty; if it be the latter, it is property1 and represents theft.

Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, The Illuminatus! Trilogy (New York: Dell, 1975) pp. 767-68


This harkens back to the Magnitsky Act sanctions, and even to the story of Aladdin's cave: the only way the forty thieves could keep their stolen loot was to keep it secret. As soon as Aladdin (or the people from whom it was stolen) could find it, the thieves lost their power to keep it.

Jon S. said...

Reminds me of an exchange from Douglas Adams' The Restaurant At the End of the Universe, after Our Heroes have stolen what turned out to be the stuntship of megarock star Hotblack Desiato (which was due to crash into the sun of the planet Kakrafoon, starting a solar flare that would mark the climax of one of the songs of his band Disaster Area):

"I wonder who this ship belongs to anyway," said Arthur.

"Me," said Zaphod.

"No. Who it really belongs to."

"Really me," insisted Zaphod. "Look, property is theft, right? Therefore theft is property. Therefore this ship is mine, okay?"

"Tell the ship that," said Arthur.

David Brin said...

Ah how typical! donzelion said: “Dr. Brin: Snopes puts it best; if you believe Prince Alwaleed's 'founded' Fox, then you have to say he also founded…”

Argh! I never used the word “founded.” Have YOU stopped beating your wife sir?

Also, who cares if Fox dissed him now and then. Do you think he cared? They likely asked for his okay. Did they divest from this "terrorist?" Fact: he was there with capital every single time Murdoch needed deep pockets to underwrite another media purchase. He was the friendliest banker and backer and a principal reason why Saudi interests were never touched, even after they attacked us, on 9/11.

Frankly, I don’t care about their internal power struggles. What I fear is that this is clearing decks for the US-Iran War.

For months I have been listing those who are anxious to start a US-Iran War.
See:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2017/07/triumph-of-trump-be-afraid-of-manic-will.html

But summarizing:


All the world's despots and fanatics want a US-Iran war:
Putin,
the Saudis,
the Breitbart-Fox-Trumpists,
Some of the dumber factions in Israel,
and the Iranian Mullahs, themselves.

But not sane/sober members of the US military who would be sent to fight it. "The nation’s top military leaders stated unequivocally on Tuesday that they believe the United States should stay in the Iran nuclear deal, staking out a position at odds with President Trump’s only days before he decides whether to certify that Tehran is in compliance with the deal."

Who benefits? Trump would get a distraction from his troubles and GOP presidents love ordering troops forward. The Mullahs get an excuse to crush their own modernist population. The Saudis and Putin get high oil prices and Russia will gain a new, Persian dependency under Kremlin "protection." (That simple fact was so blatant, I used it to get several officers to flip on this issue.)

And others will benefit, too! But not us. And not the U.S. or the West or civilization.

donzelion said...

At 2:08, David Brin wrote:
Hey donzelion! Wasn't Prince Alaweed a major founding partner of Murdoch's News Corp and Fox?

At 8:34PM, David Brin wrote:
"Argh! I never used the word “founded.” Have YOU stopped beating your wife sir?"

Technically, the term 'founding partner' implies well, 'having founded' something.

"Do you think he cared?"
He was apoplectic.

"They likely asked for his okay."
You have no data whatsoever on this; your claim is both wildly inaccurate and based entirely on prejudice. If you knew anything about finance (or bothered to ask someone who knew), you'd know how that little accusation expressed publicly complicates transactions cleared through US Treasury.

Having demonstrated your ignorance so conclusively, one questions any analysis derived from that ignorance. You have no data here whatsoever save other blogs and news analysis (yes, I probably know the analysts who wrote what you are reading, at least if they've been in this field more than a decade), so your third hand views on this subject are the trite musings of an amateur who is hurting the cause he claims to believe in by waxing at length on terms way out of your field.

Anonymous said...

Dr Brin re Lava Tubes (and moon bases in general),

(Sorry for posting this as "anonymous". It appears I can't get my OpenID credentials to work.)

Anyway, I have for many years had idle thoughts about the possible utility of moonbases coming from Systems Theory. When I worked in IT, one thing we were told was to always attempt to break a problem down so the individual pieces were more easily comprehensible and hence solvable.

How does this relate? Well, I have read that two (amongst many others??) major issues with long-term Space inhabitation are;
1. Absence of atmosphere, with effects such as vacuum welding and lack of automatic radiation shielding.
2. Absence of gravity. As well as effects such as needing specially designed tools and processes for things as simple as tightening a nut, and having to take inertia into account when moving items, I believe there are problems for multi-cellular organisms whose internal processes assume gravity. Didn't some of the Space Station personnel have trouble with their bones?

It seems to me at first glance that a moon base would allow a focus on vacuum issues, without having to worry about micro-gravity issues at the same time.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"For months I have been listing those who are anxious to start a US-Iran War."

And I suspect that's the impetus for the purge in KSA this past week. Seems two days before the purge began, Jared Kushner made a secret trip to the Kingdom, and it's believed he met with the crown prince.

FFS. These idiot Republicans wound up leaving Iraq with their tail between their legs, can barely hold on to a third of Afghanistan, a basket case of a nation. What make them think they can hold Iran, a much stronger and defensible country?

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Donald Trump praises Saudi Arabia’s corruption purge"

Trump being against corruption is like a fish being against water.

LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

(Sorry for posting this as "anonymous". It appears I can't get my OpenID credentials to work.)


For future reference, you can type anything you want in the "Name/URL" option, and you don't even need a URL.


LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

These idiot Republicans wound up leaving Iraq with their tail between their legs, can barely hold on to a third of Afghanistan, a basket case of a nation. What make them think they can hold Iran, a much stronger and defensible country?


I didn't believe it when I read "1984" as a teenager, but I've come to believe it in the interim--they don't care about winning a war; they just want to have one. In fact, an endless war is better than a win.


"Donald Trump praises Saudi Arabia’s corruption purge"

Trump being against corruption is like a fish being against water.


Or Melania being against cyber bullying.

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com :

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) wants another term. John Adams (R) would like the job as well. There hasn't been much polling on this race, but it is important because if Donald Trump pardons Paul Manafort for any and all federal crimes he has committed, Herring—if he wins—could indict Manafort for evading Virginia's income tax. Adams is unlikely to do so.


My brother pointed out the well-DUH! obvious other aspect of today's Virginia race that hadn't occurred to me. If Republican Gillespie wins the governor's race (and it's sounding like he might well do so), he could pardon Trump and company for state crimes. And Virginia is one of the states where they are vulnerable to such charges. The entire Northam campaign should have been "Elect me or Trump will be pardoned!"

David Brin said...

donzel: “"Do you think he cared?"
He was apoplectic. “

Har… you’ve already proved that you will believe anything.

Dig it fellah, YOU are the one facign a burden of proof. Their textbooks openly declare death to infidels, a wish to genocide Israel and confidence that the West will collapse and be replaced by Caliphate. It is in the textbooks fed to children and the advanced courses at madrassas. ISIS imported Saudi textbooks and then just blacked out pages extolling the Royals.

All but two of the 9/11 hijackers - and all their leaders — were Saudis. They were at-minimum very helpful to Murdoch in creating the Great Fox Lobotomizer and re-starting the US Civil War. They were the ones who declared 70 years of torment for the Palestinians by refusing to allow those in refugee camps to resettle anywhere else in the Arab World, not even in the homes of departing Jews.

Nothing in that paragraph is even controversial. It’s all fact. And when you START with stuff like that, then the burden of proof falls on their defenders, not on me for extrapolating plausibly.


Anon. I freely admit that there may be uses for Lunar bases at some point. We should continue robotic studies and the Chinese etc will be bringing back lots of samples from their wannabe lander missions. But even the uses you give are SUPPORTIVE of the real wealth… which is asteroids. And only the US can go after it,

——
Zepp: “Seems two days before the purge began, Jared Kushner made a secret trip to the Kingdom, and it's believed he met with the crown prince.”

Can you confirm or cite this???

“Trump being against corruption is like a fish being against water.”
—> “The water that my opponents breathe is Eeevil water!”

Tim H. said...

"Eeeevil water!" What, "Herr Drumph!" blew bubbles in it?

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'm happy to confirm it, but I suspect a cite might be more useful.
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/jared-kushner-made-unannounced-trip-saudi-arabia/story?id=50801198

Rumours that he went because he feared indictment in the Mueller probe, however, appear to be false.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Tim H wrote: " "Herr Drumph!" blew bubbles in it?"

All part of Pruitt's new EPA program: "Anything that's transparent ain't worth drinking!"

Tony Fisk said...

"Breathing particulates strengthens the lungs."
"Black lung makes a man o' ye"
"Mesothelioma is for losers."
"Avoid the queues and get shot in Church."

... Yeah, OK.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, some folk have been setting up a solar powered mesh wifi.

(in related news, Arecibo is about to resume work.)

Catfish N. Cod said...

The cultural response to mass shootings these days terrifies me. Texas state officials now advocate for churches to select or hire armed guards, rather than act in the slightest to forestall mental hospital escapee domestic abusers with non-honorable discharges from massacring citizens. If we require weapons merely to hold a regularly scheduled assembly, if we must live in fear of each other every moment of the day, how are we free?

It's not the actual death rate; as we have seen, even ninety deaths a day is considered tolerable to our society. It's the implied attitude towards society that scares me: we are making the choice that only individual, personal actions, and not collective enforcements, are considered effective means to defend the peace. Everyone must personally wield violent power -- or else live with danger. The state must surrender its monopoly of violence in favor of those who choose violence; and defenseless citizens, stripped of a common means to seek safety, must flee under private protection.

A constant threat of violence, an environment of fear, encourages the choice to trade liberty for security. Make society dangerous enough, remove the ability of the res publica to address the issue, and it becomes a rational choice to sell your freedom to private contractors for guarantees of life and health. Only those with warrior skills can have independence of action in such a world; everyone else must sell themselves to a warrior.

One word for this is anarcho-libertarianism.
I have a shorter one: feudalism.

People forget that feudalism was fundamentally about contracts. A king was simply someone who held a local monopoly on private security contracts (and enforced that monopoly in blood). Barons and knights were levels of his subcontractors. And peasants were those who paid the dues -- with harsh and binding debt terms to ensure profits at every level of the system. If you broke your contract, you were outlaw and unprotected; you could act freely, but no one would prevent any harm to you, or redress any grievance you had. You either groveled, risked annihilation, or became part of the corrupt system.

This was the world that we escaped, in favor of a common State that could operate on anyone's and everyone's behalf without fear or favor. I like impersonal bureaucracy: I much prefer it to debasing myself before a personal autocrat who can reward or punish me according to private whim. Incredibly, in the most advanced and wealthiest nation on Earth, we must make the case all over again for rule of Law and not of Man.

Other words for such a system include mafiya and gang rule. And now I am thankful beyond words for knowing that the FBI, decades ago, developed the means to use Rule of Law to meticulously disassemble mafias.

For what else should we call the conspiracies to rule by wealth, stealth, and lordship?

(Note that conservatives fear autocracy-by-bureaucrat. I will not question their fear; but a bureaucrat is bound by the very red tape that grants them power. I can use that to constrain them. Freely grant the power of violence, and what surety against abuse have I?)

To sum up: a world of perfect public gun liberty is a world of private tyranny.

Berial said...

Living each day where you asses threats and are ready to act in case of attack isn't freedom. It's PTSD.

We are being told to live this way?

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

If you broke your contract, you were outlaw and unprotected; you could act freely, but no one would prevent any harm to you, or redress any grievance you had.


Berial:

Living each day where you asses threats and are ready to act in case of attack isn't freedom. It's PTSD.

We are being told to live this way?


Think about a certain right-wing apologist who frequents this list. He starts from the presumption that society will not protect you--prevent harm or redress grievances--and that therefore we do live in a situation where we must personally assess threats and be ready to act at all times. If we are presumed to live in a jungle, then the law of the jungle makes a certain amount of sense.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

This line: "...they don't care about winning a war; they just want to have one. In fact, an endless war is better than a win." is really pretty old hat. have you ever heard of the Flowery Wars? The war between the Aztec Triple Alliance and Tlaxcala lasted for well over 100 years. The Aztecs had Tlaxcala completely surrounded and could have smushed them at any time, but keeping the war going eternally kept the economy going, and, more important, created a convenient focus for local anger to be redirected to. Why blame your inept leadership when you can point to a foreign power at war with us? This is just the most blatant example I can think of.

Berial,

"Living each day where you asses threats and are ready to act in case of attack isn't freedom. It's PTSD."
- This causes PTSD. PTSD is piles more common than most people understand. You don't just get it from being a soldier in a war. Growing up in some blasted ghetto full of gangs will do it to you, having a drunk, abusive parent or spouse will do it to you, there are all sorts of things that Make America Disordered Again. Next comment goes to Larry, but you might appreciate it, too.

Larry (again),

"If we are presumed to live in a jungle, then the law of the jungle makes a certain amount of sense."
I'm sure you can see how the very presumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people assume that everyone around them is hostile, they treat them that way. That makes people become hostile, then the paranoiac can point to how some people act toward him and say, "See! I was right all along!" These are people who create their own hell through their presumption that they are "smart" and the rest of us are "gullible." They jack the whole world up for all of us, including themselves.

Our nation needs a mental health check-up.

Paul SB said...

Catfish,

That was some good analysis, there. Can I quote you on this?

Come to think of it, if I quote somebody called "Catfish" I might not be taken very seriously... ;]

TCB said...

Quoth Paul SB:
""If we are presumed to live in a jungle, then the law of the jungle makes a certain amount of sense."
I'm sure you can see how the very presumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people assume that everyone around them is hostile, they treat them that way. That makes people become hostile, then the paranoiac can point to how some people act toward him and say, "See! I was right all along!" These are people who create their own hell through their presumption that they are "smart" and the rest of us are "gullible." They jack the whole world up for all of us, including themselves."

This is precisely the mechanism Prof. Bob Altemeyer says lies beind authoritarian thinking. "The world is a dangerous place." If you ever, ever hear someone say this, it strongly suggests their thing is infected with authoritarian tendencies.

(Does that mean I'm saying the world is NOT a dangerous place? Not exactly... of course, life ends up killing everybody eventually. But we have a choice! We can choose to interpret the same situation in a more authoritarian way, or a very much less. And whichever we choose tends to self-fulfill, for good or for bad.)

I have been recommending his book for years, and you can read it online for free!

TCB said...

Egad, what a typo. should read

"it strongly suggests their thinking is infected with authoritarian tendencies."

Tony Fisk said...

@TCB: your typo is a classic example of an 'eggcorn' (a typo that reveals a deeper meaning)

At least, it explains the relationship between male dominance and authoritarianism.

David Brin said...


Good stuff Catfish. Of course a world with universal access to CAMERAS can get the individual empowerment and freedom of guns without the many downsides.

LarryHart said...

Busy night...haven't had time to post...or even to check on the Virginia elections until now.

Holy crap! (In a good sense)

I was expecting Northam to pull a "Hillary", but he pulled out the governor's race. Dems also won the lieutenant governor's race and the AG. And if I remember correctly, Virginia's legislature had been gerrymandered to the point of a 2/3 Republican majority, but now it looks as if it's split more 50/50.

Why does a Chicagoan care so much about what happens in Virginia? Because that's one of the states which might prosecute Paul Manafort on state level charges. A Democratic AG means that office will probably cooperate with Meuller, and a Democratic governor is not likely to issue pardons.

raito said...

Catfish N. Cod,

I've been pointing out the part that contracts play in feudalism for some time. But the peasants were not within that contractual system, in either of the 2 cultures I'd actually call feudal. In Europe, I think the peasants were part of the manorial system (which is NOT identical to the feudal system). That's the part that paid for those very expensive fighting men. Japanese peasantry had a very different arrangement. I thin you could have a feudal system without the manorial system, and a manorial system without a feudal system (come to think of it, the Norse very nearly did).

And it seems that the 2 books I most recently finished reading are Poul Anderson's Trader To The Stars and Heinlein's Expended Universe. Such a combination to have finished nearly together!

I'd read a bunch of the Polesotechnic stuff before, but not that one. And Expended Universe is one that I just hadn't gotten around to. And nearly all of it germane to the discussions here.

Who wouldn't love to have van Rijn as a negotiator? Well, anyone who insists that you have to change someone's essential character instead of using what character they have to get them to do as they ought. He'll figure out their motivations, then rig it up so that they do what the righteous wanted and everyone profits! He's about as positive sum as it gets. And knows war is bad for business.

Some of the Heinlein is a bit less applicable 37 years later in its particulars. And from what I hear, travel in Russia is a bit less restricted than portrayed. But the section on the profits here from the rockets that go there is dead on, and what I've been telling all those who say that we should instead spend money inf 'real' problems here on the planet.

Alfred Differ said...

Well... I suppose I had better defend a few of my friends. I'm not one of the anarcho-libertarians, but I do know some of them. While I disagree with the equality between anarcho-libertianism and feudalism, I do appreciate that the first can lead to the latter through the mechanism TCB describes. Of course, pretty much ANY inclination by ANY group toward what TCB described will wind up with authoritarians, so I don't think it is fair to pick on my friends for that particular risk. Maybe they take more risk than we should, but they haven't cornered the market for that.

The problem with Catfish's point about private contracts is his assumption that our police are actually tasked with protecting us. They aren't. The protection they provide is usually indirect. If a violent criminal is arrested, the rest of us are protected while that criminal is off the streets. If a fraudulent white-collar criminal is arrested, the rest of us are protected from their new schemes while they are off the street. These arrests and the possible punishments that follow aren't eternal, though, unless capital punishment is involved which is pretty rare. The police DO occasionally protect people directly, but most of their actions in this regard are related to trying to make an arrest.

So... I don't actually have a contract with the State for my protection. What I have is an expectation that the police will do what they can indirectly within limits created by the rest of us to help ensure police powers do not grow too large. The moment I ask them to move into protecting us I'm caught in exactly the same trap Catfish described with private security. Why? Because the police are not magically distinct from private security forces. They are people paid to do a job and as such they can be equally flawed.

What an anarcho-libertarian really wants is the ability to CHANGE the people with whom they contract without needing anyone's approval to do so. They want to use the private contract mechanism instead of the public contract mechanism. It isn't a matter of voting for them anymore than it is for us to vote over what people get to eat for dinner tomorrow. They see it as a private choice that they are being deprived of making by the rest of us who intrude in their lives.

TCB's issue isn't hard to avoid, though, even for the anarcho-libertarians. The secret to it is found in the virtue of Justice. What can we reasonably expect of others and what can they reasonably expect of us when it comes to social behaviors? If everyone agrees that the expectations of the jungle are appropriate, then we all will become or serve authoritarians. If most everyone agrees to a more civilized form of justice, we get a more civilized society. By and large, most of us DO agree to be civilized most of the time. The problem is what to do about the outliers... and who counts as an outlier. My friends want to be able to deal with them by private contract. If that is all it takes for some of you to see THEM as outliers, we have a serious problem with YOU being authoritarians.

Alfred Differ said...

@Berial | It's not PTSD. It's situational awareness. Y'all can live in a tuned out state if you like, but you'll miss the chance to protect yourself and your loved ones if the need should ever arrive. Live tuned-out and you might very well BECOME part of the danger when real danger arrives.

Situational Awareness Stages (paraphrased from an author who posted them at Stratfor)

1. Tuned-out
2. Loose attention, but no expectation of threats.
3. Possible Threat Warning.
4. Immediate Threat Perceived.
5. Panic. Fight or Flight

If you have your nose in a book or are engrossed with your cell phone, you are tuned out. State 1.

If you are looking about in a calm way and seeing the people around you, but have no reason to be concerned you are in state #2. Most of us can do this most of the day with no dire consequences, but our work often requires being tuned out or focused.

If you are looking about and have that itchy feeling that there might be danger around, you are in state #3. Maybe you are in a bad neighborhood. Maybe you are in thick, crazy traffic on the highway. Maybe you see angry faces in a party, but they aren't looking at you. Most of us can sit in this state for a few minutes without trouble. If it stretches past 10 or 15 minutes, we become exhausted and want to do whatever it takes to shift down one stage. Is it any wonder people become enraged during rush hour when they can't get away?

If you are looking right AT an immediate threat and acting to cope with it, you are in state #4. Maybe someone is pointing a gun at you. Maybe you are about to crash into someone on the highway. Maybe you are about to get thwacked by an enraged spouse. Most of us can handle this state for a few seconds to do what must be done, but if it stretches for 15 or 20 seconds, we become too exhausted to maintain it. We WILL do something to change the situation so we can shift down. Hollywood movies with fight scenes that last longer are garbage. Your brain won't stay in state #4 that long.

If you get to state #5, you aren't thinking much with your higher brain. If you've been in this state, no explanation is needed.


The problem with being tuned-out too much is that we miss the opportunities to make steady upward transitions as the situation requires. Instead, we snap from #1 to something way too high too quickly and are very inclined to do the wrong thing. Try it on a crowded highway and you'll die or kill someone. Try it on the job and you might not do anything worse than kill your career.

Living in each of these states has its advantages and disadvantages. Humans are well built to make transitions as needed, but we don't have to do it from ignorance of our potentials in each state. We like to live tuned-out and in our own heads often, but living in another state is NOT equivalent to PTSD. It's just being human if you know how.

Twominds said...

@Dr.Brin
Of course a world with universal access to CAMERAS can get the individual empowerment and freedom of guns without the many downsides.

In the UK, at least in England proper, there's on average one camera for every eleven people. That could make it an experiment to test your idea. Will cameras work the way you say, or will other things happen?

I haven't got numbers on public crime and violence in the UK, but I have the impression it's at a similar rate as in the rest of the EU, where fewer cameras are.

Is this ratio not high enough yet, are they in the hands of the wrong people (not interested in using them that way) or would another issue play here? I would love your thoughts on this.

I'm in two minds about ubiquitous cameras. I see the advantages, but I can also picture some drawbacks.

Twominds said...

@Catfish 'n Cod

Some threads ago, you pointed me to the developments in Polywell fusion. I read a bit about it now, and I do see promising developments.

I do think that scaling them up to economic levels is still some time away, and so I go back to my rooting for fission, as that is here and available.

But thank you for expanding my horizon on this subject!

Jon S. said...

Alfred, my roommate and best friend, Jason, used to be able to live in stage 1 or 2.

Then he went to Iraq. Made it through a tour and a half.

Now, six years later, his most relaxed stage is 3. Sure, he's ready in case of an attack - but he's also constantly on a hair trigger when there isn't an attack. That's because the entire time he was there, he had to live in stage 3. In a war zone, that's a healthy coping mechanism.

THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES SHOULD NOT BE A WAR ZONE. Living in stage 3 when you're at home is PTSD. That's literally part of the definition - they call it "hyperalertness". And while it's exhausting, one of the fun side effects is that you can't sleep much, because you're too busy being hyperalert. It's not working too well for the rest of the people in the house, either. (Fortunately, we're focused on getting him the help he needs, and not letting his family become another postwar divorce statistic, but it's not often easy.)

greg byshenk said...

Alfred Differ wrote:

What an anarcho-libertarian really wants is the ability to CHANGE the people with whom they contract without needing anyone's approval to do so. They want to use the private contract mechanism instead of the public contract mechanism. It isn't a matter of voting for them anymore than it is for us to vote over what people get to eat for dinner tomorrow. They see it as a private choice that they are being deprived of making by the rest of us who intrude in their lives.

The problem is that this can mean (at least) three different things. On the one hand, one may merely choose to contract with private security. But this is something that anyone can do right now -- and indeed many persons (corporate and otherwise) do so.

On the other hand, what many anarcho-libertarians seem to mean is that they want to be able to remove themselves from the public contract. Of course, if this just means "not be dependent upon", then we are in the first case. But what it seems to mean for some is "freedom from the constraints of", and this is a very different sort of thing. This is very much not a purely "private choice".

And on the gripping hand, what at least some anarcho-libertarians seem to desire is the complete removal of the public contract. As this means actually removing an option for others, it is yet again a very different sort of thing. And obviously, this is something much more than a "private choice".

TCB said...

@ Alfred Differ, who says:

"The problem is what to do about the outliers... and who counts as an outlier. My friends want to be able to deal with them by private contract. If that is all it takes for some of you to see THEM as outliers, we have a serious problem with YOU being authoritarians."

Dude, really, read that book! What Prof. ALtemeyer calls authoritarianism has NOTHING to do with preferring contractual relationships versus statist structures. NOTHING. Communists can be authoritarians too. Read the book. Just read it. Then we can discuss that topic intelligently.

M L Clark said...

Hey, in my novel I put the space station in a halo orbit around the Earth-Moon L1-L2 point. The colonists launch vehicles into the interplanetary space highway from there. Good to hear that's a good place for a space station.

M L Clark said...

You can burn aluminum and oxygen for rocket fuel, both of which are present on the moon. Use a mass driver or space elevator to lift it to the users in orbit.

Paul SB said...

Oh Alfred!

Your reflex to always defend the atrocities of peace is not serving you well, here. Berial is right on this one, and I would think with the Sapolsky you have been reading you would have gotten it already. I can quote chapter and verse from people who have spent their careers studying this stuff as well as toss out reams of anecdotes from personal experience on this one. Jon has given you a personal example and some discussion of the dire consequences. Fortunately you are open-minded enough to be susceptible to persuasion, which is not so common in your age group.

What you described is the normal ability of the human brain to adapt to external threats by ratcheting the sympathetic nervous system up or down, depending on the level of threat perceived. This is perfectly normal plasticity and served the ancestors of humans very well back in the Pleistocene when threats were sporadic and brief. You stumble into a saber-tooth and you automatically jump from whatever stage you were at (probably 1 or 2) up to 5 in microseconds, fight or run away, and in a matter of minutes our prehistoric pal is out of danger and ramping back down or being converted into lunch.

But you are missing one of the most important aspects of how human brains work - they adapt not just to the conditions of any particular instant, but to the overall, most common conditions they encounter on a regular basis. It works exactly the same way as building a drug tolerance. If you start smoking weed at the age of 11, you only need one joint a day to put you on top of the world. After a year or two you need a couple joints a day and they don't get you as high as one joint used to, and so on. But in the amygdala it goes the other way. Now imagine you are stuck in traffic for 2 hours a day, five days a week. That's a frog pile of cortisol running through your veins! You are getting more cortisol each day than Joe/Josephine the cave person got in an average month. Signal in the brain is all about contrast. If pumping out cortisol for 2 hours a day becomes normal in your life, then getting on the highway and stressing out for 2 hours a day isn't telling your brain anything different. Brain responds by up-regulating cortisol receptors in the amygdala. This makes your amygdala much easier to trigger. Add a toxic manager, and angry spouse, surly teen-aged spawn and a 30-year mortgage and the amygdala keeps growing more and more receptors.

Over the years people become increasingly jittery, get less and less sleep, and slowly become more and more susceptible to mood disorders like PTSD, clinical depression, anxiety disorder, etc. Of course there are genetic variables at play here, making some people more susceptible than others. In the case of Jon's buddy Jason, being trapped in an extreme state of stress can produce what they call flash-bulb memory, where the hippocampus goes into overdrive and the amygdala up-regulates its cortisol receptors much faster than normal. That's the mechanism of PTSD, and why its victims have such vivid and intrusive flashbacks. Pretty much anything that puts you in mortal terror can cause PTSD. Grow up in Compton or inner city Detroit - I'm sure Larry could name the neighborhoods in Chicago where the shootings happen like clockwork, and there goes your cortisol receptors.

That damage is reversible, but where a truly terrifying situation can cause you to triple your receptors overnight, down regulating them back to "normal" takes years of living in a stress-free environment. America is not a stress-free environment. We worship competition, which is stress almost by definition.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

What an anarcho-libertarian really wants is the ability to CHANGE the people with whom they contract without needing anyone's approval to do so. They want to use the private contract mechanism instead of the public contract mechanism. It isn't a matter of voting for them anymore than it is for us to vote over what people get to eat for dinner tomorrow. They see it as a private choice that they are being deprived of making by the rest of us who intrude in their lives.


How does this not lead to the law of the jungle, where whoever's security thugs can outfight other security thugs gets to do whatever they want?

The prevailing theory at least is that society reserves the use of force to itself as manifested through police and military forces. This falls apart of course when society itself becomes a threat to freedom, such as Nazi Germany or Trump's America. But rather than mitigating that problem, your way seems to reduce society to a permanent state of war with no constraint over the baddest-ass bad asses among us.


If you have your nose in a book or are engrossed with your cell phone, you are tuned out. State 1.


Not if you're viewing Infowars or FOX News. Their entire raison-d'etre seems to be keeping their viewers continuously in State 3 if not State 4.


LarryHart said...

Twominds:

I'm in two minds about ubiquitous cameras. I see the advantages, but I can also picture some drawbacks.


A record of "what really happened" in dispute situations is likely a good thing. OTOH, being under continual surveillance at all times as in "1984" is not.

The more recent book "The Circle" is a kind of caricature of the bad side of things, and it addresses the matter clumsily, but I'm not in disagreement with the warning it tries to present.

David Brin said...

Two minds, I lived in the Uk in the 1980s and that’s what germinated my ideas for The Transparent Society. In Britain, the cameras are mostly owned by the police. The US city has as many cameras, mostly privately owned and the police come to you with a request… or a a warrant. When the people WANT to help (e.g. after the Boston Bombing) the results are the same. When they are offended by police conduct (e.g. the Seattle pepper spraying) the results are very different.

It’s a rare day when Alfred beats Catfish for post-of-the-day, but he did it with his libertarian missives.

ML Clark, thanks, but do you have any idea the energetics of separating-refining aluminum?


now onward

onward

Twominds said...

@LarryHart

I read the Circle, and the main reason I found it unconvincing, is that in a real society, there would be counter forces and resistance from large groups. And much more inertia from bureaucracy (the voting per Circle account for instance). The book and the warning both could have been much stronger than they are.

I see the use of records in dispute situations. What I do wonder is the deterrent effect of cameras if it's starting to become clear that most records will never be used. The equivalent of CCTV in elevators that keep being vandalized.

I find I move less 'loosely' when I know a camera is pointed at me. I can live with that if the advantages are clear and big enough, but not when I only get the drawbacks.

I think that's the source of my ambivalence towards Dr. Brins' insistence on transparency. We'll have to do something with it, because it will come anyway, but I think we (society's ordinary people) will have to work much harder than we do, to make sure it will benefit us too.

David Brin said...

Twominds, the hypocrisy of The Circle is that it VERY skillfully maligns transparency-accountability by having ludicrously exaggerated versions of the arguments pour in tsunami gushers from blatant villains and sickos.

Then it turns out the system is corrupt precisely because reciprocal accountability does not shine on the Masters.

Then the problem is resolved and the day is saved BECAUSE light shines on the masters. Indeed, almost every abuse shown in the flick, like people hounding the shy fellow, can be solved if hounding a shy fellow is deemed to be bad and others hound the hounders. Which would have happened! And is illustrated in a story in CHASING SHADOWS.

It will take heroes and geniuses to make light shine upward.

Now onward.

MLClark said...

No, I do not know the energetics of separating/refining aluminum. Appendix E of "The Moon-Resources, Future Development, and Settlement" by Schrunk, D, et al. gives several methods of producing oxygen and metals of lunar regolith. Most methods aren't completely worked out and have issues, but the papers cited are from the late 1980s. Hopefully, they've figured out something with solar furnaces or solar power, or will figure out something when they can experiment on site. Yes, they could only work 12-14 days per month, but they could work 24-7 when they did have sunlight.

Here is a promising development in solar power that would aid lunar settlement: http://www.science.tamu.edu/news/story.php?story_ID=1885#.WgHJrfdlCEc

Although. with 95% solar power conversion, I'm not sure we would need solar power satellites to beam energy to Earth.