Friday, December 01, 2017

Celebrating a Clarke Centenary and more bold fiction

December 16th, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of Arthur C Clarke’s birth. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination is gathering birthday greetings from people who were inspired by the great Sir Arthur - and his unforgettable tales: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous with Rama, Childhood's End, The City and the Stars and so many others. 
Folks can post text, audio or video clips with birthday greetings to #Clarke100Birthday on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram on the 16th. Or else they can send to the administrator of the Arthur C Clarke Center for Human Imagination - pcoleman@ucsd.edu  See my own Tribute to Arthur C. Clarke - written on his passing in 2008, where I discuss his fascination with human destiny.
The Clarke Center will 'cast a live event at UCSD that day and we would be pleased to feature your comments. Follow @imaginationUCSD on Twitter and their website - Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, where the sciences and arts come together to explore humanity's most unique gift. (Live near San Diego? Get on the mailing list for cool events. On December 7th -- Andy Weir visits!)
If you need to catch up on your Clarke reading, this is an excellent starting point: The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke. This anthology includes over a hundred short stories, including classics such as The Nine Billion Names of God, The Sentinel, Nightfall, and All the Time in the World.

And stay tuned next year for the Clarke Center's grand celebration of 50 years since "2001: a Space Odyssey!"

== Be Part of a Geek Squad that might (really!) save the world ==

Let me remind you about TASAT! There's A Story About That: A bold new endeavor from the Clarke Center that may use science fiction to save us all! That was the topic of last weekend's posting

It's a way that you nerdy types might serve as a sci-fi action team! Poised to step in when humanity might most need a sense of perspective or the unusual ideas that only SF can provide. Come learn about TASAT! Join up, or else critique the project. Spread the word!

 There may come a time when your memory of some obscure story might make all the difference.

== And more! ==

Putting out a call! If any of you know genius cinematographer Stephen F. Windon, or genius cinematic composer James Newton Howard, we’re hoping to invite them to a special, *20th anniversary screening of The Postman at UCSD's Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination.* Whatever its faults, the film is musically and visually one of the dozen or so most gorgeous ever made. (With a small but growing cult following.) Heck, I’d invite Kevin Costner – who certainly gets some credit for that beauty - and or his kids, who also acted in the film - and screenwriter Brian Helgeland too, because I think the flick had more heart than any other from that era.

While in media...  Here's the latest Kickstarter to help Space Command become a reality. It would likely be real cool.

== Science Fiction that dives deep ==

Last chance to get it in hardcover! Chasing Shadows: Visions of Our Coming Transparent World: An anthology of stories and essays about a future filled with light, edited by David Brin and Stephen W. Potts, in collaboration with the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, with stories and essays by Ramez Naam, Bruce Sterling, Brenda Cooper, Robert Sawyer, Nancy Fulda, Scott Sigler, James Morrow, Neal Stephenson, Robert Silverberg, Aliette de Bodard…and more.

Alternative Truths was an anthology of stories and essays about "resistance" against what appears to be a worldwide putsch to demolish the democratic experiment and restore feudalism. Now comes the sequel: "MORE Alternative Truths: Stories from the Resistance. And yours truly contributed one of the core essays. See also stories & essays by Vonda McIntyre, David Gerrold, Esther Freisner, Jane Yolen, Mike Resnick, Jim Wright (of StoneKettle Station) & many others.

Catalysts & Explorers: Women of Science Fiction is a collection curated by the Museum of Science Fiction, celebrating talented authors such as Jane Yolen, Catherine Asaro, Nancy Kress, Seanan McGuire, Pat Murphy, Carrie Vaughn and others. 

More Human Than Human: Stories of Androids, Robots, and Manufactured Humanity, an anthology edited by Neil Clarke, with stories by Ken Liu, Rachel Swirsky, Jeff Vandermeer, Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, Alastair Reynolds, Elizabeth Bear and others. See it reviewed on Kirkus Books

First-Person Singularities: an anthology of stories by the great Robert Silverberg – all told in first person, but the narrators are not all human. For in these tales, we assume the voice of a dolphin, a computer, an alien, a god... and more. 

Gregory Benford’s new novel: The Berlin Project: An Alternate History of World War II explores another What-if about the Second World War, only this time, instead of maundering about implausible ways the Axis powers might have won, he delves into a way the struggle might have ended much sooner, if the director of the Manhattan Project had not made a crucial mistake. Had Leslie Graves listened to one fellow – who happens to have been Benford’s father-in-law – we might have had the bomb a year earlier, to use against Hitler’s capital. Hence the title: “The Berlin Project.” Like Benford’s classic “Timescape,” this novel shines light on the process of science itself in critical times. Only here, most of the characters – including the incredible Mo Berg – were real-life or even larger than life.  And Benford knew a great many of them. See Tom Shippey’s review in the Wall Street Journal.

An overlooked classic: Pavane by Keith Roberts, published in 1968, offers a richly detailed “What if?” alternate history – which diverges in 1588 when Queen Elizabeth I is assassinated. The Spanish Armada defeats the British fleet, the Protestant Reformation never happened, and the Roman Catholic Church reigns supreme across a feudal steam-powered Europe. Long-distance communication occurs via a continent-spanning network of semaphore towers... with amazing hints at the ethos of our later Internet! Rather dense, full of detail, it’s definitely worth a read – or a re-read. See: A Lost Masterpiece from io9.

Here's a fascinating look back at one of the most unusual Science Fiction authors, Cordwainer Smith, who published a couple dozen short stories in the 50s and 60s - and one very unusual novel, Norstrilia, or Old North Australia - a planet that has stroon, which delays aging in humans.

== Finally, Star Wars ==

Finally, heck yeah it's an obsession! In honor of Halloween, I was asked to comment on: “What’s the scariest scene in Star Wars?”

Of course the nastiest scene in Star Wars was when Anekin slashes the children, closely followed by the scene when Yoda - that wretched green oven mitt - orders the Jedi into a suicide charge, killing most of them just as he arrives with his new, replacement army.  And no one comments on the coincidence of timing? One of dozens of scens in which the Jedi Master" is in fact, fantastically despicable.

But if scary is what you want, then I'll go with when Obiwan arrives at Planet Kamino, sees that vast clone armies being made by the genetic geniuses, and learns that it's all being paid for by... Yoda. (And if you credit any of the weaseling alternative stories - that a whole planet of geniuses would let itself be removed from all maps for 20 years without checking on the source of its payments - then you really are too gullible.) I thought for sure this would lead to a confrontation! But then Obiwan gets amnesia over that fact, and Yoda can proceed with his plan. Creeepy!

139 comments:

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."
The best closing line of any SF story ever.

Daniel Duffy said...

Haven't read "Pavane", but I've been reading "Ruled Britannia" by Harry Turtledove, and its IMHO the best thing he has done (thank heavens there are only two main characters - not the dozens in a typical HT novel).

Be that as it may, I have to question his whole premise of a Spanish occupied England. First off, his scenarios for a victorious Armada don't strike me a being very realistic (somehow avoiding the English fire ships, somehow not having the Dutch so active so that the Duke of Parma can more easily support the invasion, etc.). In his "Age of Reason Begins", Will Durant notes the following:

"Elizabeth was as careful with ducats as the Pope. Wary of peculation in the navy, she demanded account of every shilling spent by navy and army before, during and after the battle; Howard and Hawkins made up out of their own pockets whatever discrepancies they could not explain. Elizabeth, expecting a long war, had kept the crews and troops on short rations and low pay. Now a violent disease, akin to typhus, ran through the returning sailors; on some vessels half the crew died or were disabled; and Hawkins wondered what England's fate would have been had the epidemic preceded the enemy."

Delay the Armada for a few weeks until August, and a disease ravaged English fleet cannot stop the invasion. However, IMHO, that is when Spanish troubles would really begin.

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)
The Spanish commander, Medina-Sidonia had with him an invasion force of about 19,000 troops plus additional men to be supplied by the Duke of Parma when he joined the invasion (how many more would be available would depend on the Dutch and be limited by available shipping). The Spanish were the finest infantry in the world, battle hardened and professional. But they were lacking in several areas:

First was a lack of secure supply lines. In the age of pike and shot even the best infantry isn't as effective without gunpowder. While the English could rely on local supply depots, the Spanish had only what they brought with them. This problem was made apparent in OTL prior to the Battle off Dorset on July 25 when the English fleet replenished its ammunition - while the Spanish fleet could not. This seriously degraded the firepower of the Spanish fleet. A Spanish force on the ground in England would face similar constraints and resultant reduction in combat effectiveness. A larger invasion army, one reinforced by Parma, would have even greater logistical headaches.

Second, the Spanish force consisted almost entirely of infantry. The Spanish severely lacked cavalry and draft animals due to shipping constraints. This would limit Spanish scouting activities, leaving their army nearly blind as it marched on London. This would also have a telling effect on any battlefield where the English were amply supplied with horsemen. As shown by Gustavus Adolphus, Oliver Cromwell and Marlborough, cavalry could still be very effective even against pike infantry. The Spanish would have little to counter English horse.

Third, the Spanish lacked significant siege artillery, again due to shipping constraints. England was not without fortifications. Towns and cities could be entrenched causing significant delays to the Spanish advance. Storming each fortification (their only realistic option) would cost the attackers more than the defenders with each assault. Cannibalizing the heavy guns from their fleet does not appear to be a workable option.

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)
The Elizabethan army, IMHO, was not the easy pushover HT makes it out to be (see http://www.bartleby.com/215/1420.html#note77 for a nice summary). Prior to the Armada, Elizabeth raised a militia of about 60,000 men, at least 2 to 3 times greater than the expected invasion force, with more available if needed. While not of the same quality and their Spanish opponents, these were men who were defending their homeland against an alien invader - one who brought with him a despised religion and the feared Inquisition. They would fight savagely on the defensive. They would be better supplied with both powder and victuals. They would have a significant force of cavalry which their enemy lacked.

The Protestants of England's cities and towns would fight fiercely, knowing what was at stake. The Catholics of the north country are another matter. Most supported Elizabeth or remained quietly neutral. A Spanish invasion may trigger Catholic revolts in the north, which would be savagely repressed in standard Tudor fashion.

The Spanish could use spies (your classic Jesuit plotters) to incite the Catholics of the north country. But even in intelligence, England had the edge. All Spain's spies were being effectively watched or turned by the world's first true espionage and counter-espionage agency. Again, from Durant's "Age of Reason Begins":

"Only next to Cecil in devotion and craft was Sir Francis Walsingham, a Secretary of State from 1573 to his death (1590); ... so shocked by repeated plots against the Queen's life that he formed for her protection a web of espionage that stretched from Edinburgh to Constantinople, and caught in its skein the tragic Queen of Scots."

Snuffing our Catholic plots was all in a days work for this first incarnation of "Her Majesty's Secret Service".

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)
So I see the following scenario:

A delay in the Armada sailing results in a disease ravage English fleet unable to interfere with the landings. Reinforced by Parma, the Spanish land a force of 20,000 to 25,000 men on the Isle of Wright making it their base of operations. With a secure base, a second landing on the south coast follows by late August or early September.

As the Spanish march on London, they fight the English in local meeting engagements and storm the fortifications in their path. However, with each battle the Spanish lose men and use up gunpowder. Meanwhile the main English army is assembling near London. Kept appraised of Spanish movements by cavalry scouts, the English dig in south of the city. In a hard fought battle in late September, the Spanish drive the stubborn English from the field. Lacking cavalry, the Spanish are unable to prevent the orderly withdrawal of the English from the field.

But it is a Pyrrhic victory, leaving the Spanish weak in numbers and bereft of powder. Their subsequent assault on London fails as the English army is reinforced by militia streaming in from the countryside and supported by heavy guns. Harassed by English cavalry, the retreating Spaniards make for their embarkation points. Less than 10,000 make it back to the Isle of Wright. There, they are trapped by a re-manned English fleet and/or the worsening weather. The Spanish spend a miserable winter on the Isle of Wright, dying from disease and hunger. There are less than 5,000 when they formally surrender in January.

Meanwhile an uncoordinated Catholic revolt has broken out in the north lands. Once the Spanish are in retreat, Elizabeth orders a suppression of the revolt. With thorough savagery, the English army accomplishes its task. By Christmas, Catholic rebels are hanging from every tree in the north. Elizabeth orders that they remain hung until spring as a warning to other would be rebels.

Daniel Duffy said...

(Cont.)
Lastly the English had Elizabeth, the greatest ruler in English history. Judging by the inspiring speech she gave a Tillsbury, her presence on the battlefield would have been worth several thousand troops:

My loving people

We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.

I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you on a word of a prince, they shall be duly paid. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over these enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

"Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."
The best closing line of any SF story ever.


"The Nine Billion Names of God". I read that in high school the same year I read "Childhood's End". My sophomore English teacher actually did a science-fiction unit. And this is a woman teacher I'm talking about.

Daniel Duffy said...

For anyone interested in military history, the age of pike and shot is a particularly fascinating subject - tracing the evolution of armies from late medieval to early modern age. Starting with massive blocks of pike-men screened by a few skirmishers armed with primitive hand cannons and ending with sophisticated and articulated battle formations of the Swedish brigades and Cromwell's New Model army.

Tony Fisk said...

I found Pavane to be a confused mash of vaguely related tales, with little relevance to the initial conceit of a murdered Queen.

However, it did have semaphore towers: a steampunk tech for which I am a hopeless sucker. (See also Sean McMullen's "Greatwinter" series)

The first Clarke novel I recall reading (another product of those obscure country town libraries) was "City and the Stars". I didn't read its precursor version "Against the Fall of Night" until much later. When I did I was astonished at the quantum leap in technological vision (from Jeserac maintaining a manual system of index cards, we suddenly have "holographic displays", and "eternity circuits"!!? )

LarryHart said...

Daniel Duffy quotes Queen Elizabeth I:

I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.


That reminds me of WWII era stories of the King of Denmark. "All Denmark is my bodyguard."

Can we even imagine the current occupant of the White House being able to say something like that?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Offtopic, but something both the Doctor and I have been following closely, from Bloomberg:
"Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is increasingly alarmed by what he sees as secret talks between Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- fearful that the discussions could backfire and tip the region into chaos, according to three people familiar with Tillerson’s concerns."

Jon S. said...

Dr. Brin, I didn't recall Yoda taking credit for the clone army, so (being unwilling to subject myself to that movie again for such a relatively unimportant point) I tried searching the Net for the information.

Apparently, the Kaminoans were paid by someone claiming to be Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas, who (and I do remember this plot point from the movie) had died ten years earlier. Jango Fett said that he'd been recruited by "someone named Tyrannus", which you might recall was the Sith alias of Count Dooku.

So Yoda might have been stupid, silly, or canny and treasonous enough to have taken the clones without asking enough questions, but according to the text he didn't order or pay for them.

(I figure there are enough crimes to lay at that swamp-dwelling serial liar's claws - no need to make up any more.)

David Brin said...

Daniel Duffy thanks for that way cool historical riff! I wonder how many of you have read books from Erik Flint's "1632" series? Set less than 50 years after the Armada, with one of the most dizzying-absurd premises in SF history... but then worked out with excruciating attention to detail and fun plausibility of outcome.

Certainly more plausible than this world, in which we blithely allowed the confederacy to take Washington and have yet to awaken to our country's dire peril. Where is our Lincoln? Our Roosevelt?

LarryHart said...

Jon S:

Apparently, the Kaminoans were paid by someone claiming to be Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas, who (and I do remember this plot point from the movie) had died ten years earlier.


I realize those movies are made for people who have already read and studied the character bios beforehand. But I didn't do any of that, and was dependent on the movie itself to explain what was going on. The references to unseen characters named "Sifo-Dyas" and "Sideous" got awfully confusing.


Jango Fett said that he'd been recruited by "someone named Tyrannus", which you might recall was the Sith alias of Count Dooku.


They really named an important character after something my cat does in the litter box?

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I wonder how many of you have read books from Erik Flint's "1632" series? Set less than 50 years after the Armada, with one of the most dizzying-absurd premises in SF history... but then worked out with excruciating attention to detail and fun plausibility of outcome.


I had meant to mention "1632" (the original book) a few posts back. When the modern city appeared in 1632 Germany, the bad residents wanted to build a wall (make Germany pay for it?), hunker down, and keep the natives out. But the real Americans chose the opposite option, mingling with and influencing the surrounding natives, converting them into proxy Americans. A lesson for our times?


Certainly more plausible than this world, in which we blithely allowed the confederacy to take Washington and have yet to awaken to our country's dire peril. Where is our Lincoln? Our Roosevelt?


I was going to say "She lost the election by negative three million votes".

But a better response is to answer your question with a question. Where are our courageous citizens?

Anonymous said...

So glad to see someone remembering Cordwainer Smith. One of my absolute favorites of all time. Though he only wrote one novel, his three Casher O'Neill novelettes have been published together and make a serviceable substitute for a second.

It's easy to get lost in Smith's strangeness, as the Atlantic author did, and to miss parts of the larger picture. As far as I know, Smith was the first well-known author to give most of his disparate work a single setting: the 20,000-year Instrumentality of Man. His wordplay and just general allusive cleverness is also easy to miss. You have to be on your toes sometimes to get even a hint of where Smith's reference material might be.

So thanks for linking this! Keep on keeping on. Don't forget to share your feelings about Yoda once in a while.

locumranch said...


From the pulps to the 'Fountains of Paradise', Arthur C, Clarke was a brilliant author, and as a young boy I found his tales particularly seductive. It comes as no surprise, then, to discover that he was a pedophile who relocated to the backwards nation of Sri Lanka to pursue his twin passions of writing Science Fiction & molesting young boys under the protections of a corrupt Sri Lankan government.

For such heinous yet unproven crimes, a single allegation is sufficient to establish guilt in the court of public opinion, and we must assume that Arthur C. Clarke was a serial child molester despite an absence of any substantive material evidence, lest we soil the lost innocence & reputation of his alleged victims, just as we did previously with allegations surrounding a similarly unproven child molester named Dennis Hastert.

Arthur C. Clarke's shameful name must be purged from the both the real human imagination & his falsely named center, his books burned, his Library of Congress Classification Numbers reassigned, his Hugo Awards rescinded, his Knighthood withdrawn, his grave defiled, and any endorsement of his accomplishments, intellect & fiction will heretofore be considered as both an endorsement & admission of the crime of pedophilia.

Dayanada de Silva, director of current affairs at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Authority, was quoted in the Sunday Mirror as saying: "Arthur likes casual affairs with lots of different boys".

"Today I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault", said Hillary Clinton, "Don't let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed and we're with you".

Teen Vogue columnist Emily Lindin also stated that "false allegations VERY rarely happen, so even bringing it up borders on a derailment tactic", and then added that "The benefit of all of us getting to finally tell the truth + the impact on victims FAR outweigh the loss of any one man’s reputation".

No peace for you, Arthur C. Clarke: May you rot in Hell with the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Al Franken & every single male ever born who are all potential rapists.


Best
______
A spurious Spanish Armada fact: Some of the fleet washed up on the far side of Ireland, giving birth to the 'Black Irish' who have dark hair & Spanish features.

Cordwainer Smith's shorts were better than 'Norstailia' & his Cashier O'Neal tales are collected in his 'Quest for the Three Worlds'. His collected works were published 1993.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin
The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke
I get
"This title is not currently available for purchase"

Do you guys get the same or is it more regionalism?

Cari D. Burstein said...

I quite enjoyed 1632. It was a little heavy on the military battles side of things for my tastes, but he did a good job of not bogging it down overly much on them. It made me quite curious about the 30 years war which I knew almost nothing about previously. Reading the book did make me think of Brin's frequent treatises on positive sum, as the book really seemed to explore that. It also had quite a bit of competence porn.

I've yet to read any of the sequels but I will eventually get around to trying one. Part of why I tried 1632 in the first place is that it was free in Kindle format on Amazon (still is) and I've always had a fondness for alternate history stories, which it kind of is, although not your ordinary alternate history (then again neither is the Temeraire series which I also had great fun with).

Laurence said...

"this time, instead of maundering about implausible ways the Axis powers might have won, he delves into a way the struggle might have ended much sooner, if the director of the Manhattan Project had not made a crucial mistake."

How about a German victory in World War One? I could imagine it happening something like this:

In real life the crucial mistake the German high command made was in 1916. The concluded that the Russians were done for, and focused all their efforts on the western front. While the battles of the Somme, Verdun and Paschendale were all "draws" German losses were heavier than allied, and the Germans were forced to withdraw to pr-prepared defenses. Meanwhile the Russian army, though slowly crumbling, was still a competent fighting force, and enjoyed a partial victory with the Brusilov offensive. Flagging under the British naval blockade, the Germans panicked, and declared unrestricted submarine warfare, drawing the ire of the Americans. The Germans panicked again and tried to provoke the Mexicans into attacking America, with the truly stupid Zimmerman telegram. By the time the Russian army finally collapsed, it was too late.

What if, instead, the Germans had opted to deliver a knockout blow the the Russians in 1916, and then focus on the western front afterwards? A massive offensive in the east could have had Nicholas II signing the the treaty of Brest-Litovsk in early 1917,allowing Germany to launch a new offensive in the west shortly afterwards. With no Americans intervening, and fresh supplies pouring in from the Ukraine, Germany could easily have won the battle in the west.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Germany could easily have won the battle in the west

At that point attacking was so much more "expensive" than defending that even then i just don't see the Germans winning fast

If they had that PLUS their own "Tanks" to defeat the trench system then possibly

Laurence said...

Well the real life Ludendorf offensive was pretty devastating, so with no American intervention something similar could have defeated the allies. If Germany hadn't gone on the offensive in 1916, then the allies would, probably exhausting themselves with a string of Pyrrhic victories. In such a state, they wouldn't have fared well against a reinforced German army in 1917. Plus, Austria would have been able to deploy its own forces from the eastern front against Italy, given the appalling performance of the Italian army in World War I they wouldn't have stood a chance. If the allies were still holding out against an initial German push, Austria could have occupied northern Italy, and launched an offensive along the French/Italian border.

TCB said...

Tangentially to Arthur C. Clarke, there's a great series of Youtube videos by a fellow who built his own copy of the Antikythera Mechanism, and he quotes Clarke as saying "If the Greeks had understood the power of this technology, they could have got to the Moon in 300 years."

Smurphs said...

"The Ramans do everything in threes."

Another best closing line of any SF story ever. Clarke was the best!

Laurence said...

Cont

The interesting thing is, would the outcome of a German victory in WWI be better or worse than the actual outcome? On the one hand, a victorious Germany would not have fallen to Nazis, and I cannot imagine a similar movement taking over in either Britain or France. Also, while there would likely still have been a revolution in Russia, it may not have been as devastating as the real life Russian revolution. I could imagine an alliance of the left SR's, Bolsheviks and radical Mensheviks taking over, and implementing something like the NEP of the 1920's. On the other hand, instability in the crumbling Austro-Hungarian empire could easily have generated ethnic cleansing, while The Ottoman Empire seemed to be on course to transform itself into a Saudi style theocracy, and would likely continued its genocide against the Armenians. With control over much of the world's oil supply, the Ottoman empire could have funded a string of puppet theocracies throughout the Muslim world, while Germany would have seized British French and Belgian colonies in Africa. Germany would dominate mainland Europe, and their next move would likely be to link their two empires - the colonial African one and the European one - together, putting them in direct conflict with the Ottomans in north Africa. America would probably see a rising Germany as the greater threat, and allay with Turkey, while Russia would probably be hostile to both. Perhaps World War II would have been a three-way struggle?

Tony Fisk said...

If anyone's curious, the pedophilia allegations against Clarke were raised at the time of his knighthood (1998) by that bastion of journalistic integrity, the Sunday Mirror. Clarke flatly denied them, and that's as far as it went. No case was ever brought against him.

Someone might just have been looking in the mirror.

*yawn*

Tim Wolter said...

Laurence (and others)

I highly recommend a YouTube channel called The Great War.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUcyEsEjhPEDf69RRVhRh4A

It has been running since 2014 with week by week narratives of the events a century ago, plus frequent specials on specific topics. The man behind it is a certain "Indy Nidell" who appears to be a history/baseball/rock and roll enthusiast living in Sweden.

I know my history, but every episode of this teaches me something new. And the tone is usually pitch perfect. It respects the valor without ever glorifying the militarism.

Superb.

TW/Tacitus

Paul SB said...

Larry,

This will sound very cynical, and maybe it's just how the season affects my thinking, but in answer to your question: "Where are our courageous citizens?" I would say that most courage today is being played out on the pixellated battlefield, the nucleus accumbens of the brave slowly being numbed by supernormal stimulation. I doubt that too many people in our age group get this because they didn't have this affecting their brain chemistry in their formative years. The default setting for the human mind is to assume that our own personal experience pretty matches everyone else's, so any differences between Us and Them are perversions on Their part and utterly incomprehensible.

A couple years ago there was a news item about a person who parked his SUV on the tracks of a commuter rail line, and shortly before the train hit bailed out. The train was damaged and several passengers injured. The person who caused the wreck was arrested and imprisoned. He said he was trying to commit suicide, but in the last minute snapped out of it. Most people's conclusion was that either he "chickened out" or he was making the suicide thing up and was just an evil person who wanted to hurt other people. His story is entirely consistent with someone experiencing what is called an anxiety attack, right down to the kick-of-time bailout, but it's not consistent with the experience of people who have never had one of these. When someone's serotonin and/or dopamine/norepinephrine levels get low enough, they lose the use of the frontal lobes and behave in ways that are not at all consistent with normal human experience. The guy's story is entirely believable from the perspective of people who understand just how fallible a machine the human brain is, but is incomprehensible to the average juror, who thinks that all human behavior is entirely volitional.

Where are out brave citizens? The younger generations of citizens are unlikely to produce any, because our entertainment technology is leading to increasing cases of dopamine depletion. Dopamine is motivation, and bravery is nothing is not acting on motivations that override the amygdala's knee-jerk fear/anger responses.

Brains matter, and politics will never go beyond petty factionalism as long as most people remain ignorant of how they really operate.

Tim H. said...

Tacitus, if you're ever around Kansas City, we've got the next best thing to the Imperial War Museum.
https://theworldwar.org

Tim Wolter said...

Alternate Tim

I will keep that in mind. I don't get to KC very often. Last visit there I quite enjoyed the Steamboat Arabia museum.

Tim Wolter/T

Paul SB said...

Larry con.t,

Understanding how motivation works in the human brain and how easily it can become pathological should have some clear implications regarding meritocracy. The whole idea of meritocracy is deeply suspect. The competitive drive that can take Joe/Josephine Average and turn them into pathological power-seekers is no different from what happens to someone who gets addicted to and slowly builds tolerance to heroine or cocaine. How far can you trust a drug addict with access to your money? How far can you trust a money addict with access to the Treasury? An addict will do virtually anything to get their next hit, and as they build tolerance for their drug of choice they become increasingly insatiable. How different is Donald Grope from Kin Jong Un? It should be obvious enough that successful businessmen can not be trusted with leadership positions unless they can prove that they are not pathological. The same applies to career politicians.

Treebeard said...

Nah locum, pedophilia is the next frontier in human freedom and progress. When the truth comes out, Arthur C. Clarke will be seen as a hero in the struggle against pedophobia. Besides, there is more and more science showing that man-boy love is perfectly healthy. Do you hate science? Are you on Putin's payroll? Are you some kind of NAZI? (oh wait, Nazis liked science, scratch that last one)

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

Are you some kind of NAZI? (oh wait, Nazis liked science, scratch that last one)


Not so fast. Nazis did like to make use of technology, but science? Provable conclusions that disagree with their preconceived notions? The "science" that Nazis liked were of the astrology variety.

TB and locum, each in their own way, try badly to caricature progressive positions. Loc likes to taunt with the "logical next steps" after we've purged Washington and Jefferson from history, ignoring the fact that no one--certainly no one here--is calling for such a thing.

Again, this gets old. Back in the day, the conservatives on the "Cerebus" list used Larry Summers as an example of a man whose life was destroyed by feminists (at Harvard when he said women didn't like math or something of that nature), conveniently forgetting that the same man was then in charge of federal fiscal policy in the Obama administration (my life should be so destroyed), and that every one of the liberals involved in the discussion was against his having been fired from Harvard in the first place.

Treebeard said...

Cultural revolutions take time. If you aren't willing to kill off the olds Mao-style, you have to wait for them to die. This is why they target the youth. You may still be OK with Jefferson and Washington, but your more enlightened grandchildren will rightly curse them as privileged dead white men (assuming of course that the old pictures haven't been doctored to add diversity to our scandalously white male founding fathers). And of course, pedophilia will be more like homosexuality than psychopathy in their eyes. Because why not? And science. And you're an evil progress-hater if you resist. Don't you know how this game works by now? Everything gets thrown under the progress bus eventually, including you.

locumranch said...


Thomas Jefferson was a 'Dead White Male Slave-Owning Misogynist' who repeatedly RAPED Sally Hemings -- a black woman who could not consent because she could not refuse (which is the current legal definition of Rape, btw) -- and you would sing praises about this monster?

He & all men like him -- who did many great & honorable things but committed even one unforgivable crime as determined by historical revisionism -- must be cast into eternal darkness as in the case of Robert E Lee.

Anyone who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton is a Nazi by definition, just like all men are potential rapists & all living whites are slave-owning racists by association, as I am now to be tarred with the crime of Pedophobia.

Oh, the overwhelming SHAME & GUILT from which I suffer!! I must prostrate myself before the righteous; I must abase myself for the atavistic principles of Anti-Federalism & 'Innocent until Proven Guilty'; I must grovel & beg before the social justice purists for these crimes that can & will never be forgiven; and I must accept the new reality of a designer pump stomping on a masculine face forever.

Or, I could imagine myself 'The Man in High Castle', the denizen of an alternate reality wherein the Allied Powers managed to preserve 'Truth, Justice & the American Way' & the real Nazis did not disguise themselves as 'Antifa', Femocentric Socialists & Pink-Shirted Stormtroopers in order to triumph.

Imagine that.


Best

Pappenheimer said...

On the possible benefits of a Central Powers victory in the Great War:

Putting Kaiser Wilhelm II, known short-sighted, militaristic twit, in charge of a conquered Europe would be...words fail me.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Thomas Jefferson was a 'Dead White Male Slave-Owning Misogynist' who repeatedly RAPED Sally Hemings -- a black woman who could not consent because she could not refuse (which is the current legal definition of Rape, btw) -- and you would sing praises about this monster?

He & all men like him -- who did many great & honorable things but committed even one unforgivable crime as determined by historical revisionism -- must be cast into eternal darkness as in the case of Robert E Lee.

Anyone who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton is a Nazi by definition, just like all men are potential rapists & all living whites are slave-owning racists by association, as I am now to be tarred with the crime of Pedophobia.


If you say so, dude. That's not me you're speaking for.

Which is exactly what I meant by bad caricature of progressives.

So while you think you're proving your point, you're doing a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.


LarryHart said...

With apologies to matthew, I don't see any state-level charges being leveled, or even talked about, with regard to Michael Flynn.

Possibly they are being held in reserve?

But until then, I have to wonder:

1) If Trump pardons Flynn for all crimes including future perjury, what's to stop Flynn from refusing to implicate Trump after all?

2) Why hasn't Trump done this already?

locumranch said...


No one will be spared, not even women, and so we consign Marion Zimmer Bradley & her literary legacy into the very depths of Hell:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/27/sff-community-marion-zimmer-bradley-daughter-accuses-abuse

Surprisingly, her books are still available for sale on Amazon. Buy them if you DARE !!


Best

Paul SB said...

Larry,
"Nah locum, pedophilia is the next frontier in human freedom and progress"
- You know, these guys have written so much ludicrous nonsense over the years, it's hard to tell when they are being sarcastic and when they are being serious.

"So while you think you're proving your point, you're doing a different thing, in fact the opposite thing."
- Do you see what I mean about addiction and tolerance, how the statements just get brazenly over-the-top stupid every time? I doubt the sapling is in this state, he doesn't show up and freak out as compulsively as the faux rancher. The more often we respond to his ravings, the more they accelerate. Eventually he will end up in a rubber room, still convinced he has god-like powers of perception.

Lloyd Flack said...

Locum is behaving like the character in Existence who made more and more unhinged statements when his self-righteousness fix was sabotaged.

Laurence said...

"Putting Kaiser Wilhelm II, known short-sighted, militaristic twit, in charge of a conquered Europe would be...words fail me."

He barely controled Germany quite soon into the war. I'm not saying It'd be good - Germany was hardly a liberal utopia to say the least. but compared to the actual outcome of WWI? Basically the dillema is "would you rather have the victory of an authoritarian Germany, or the defeat of a totalitarian one, with the holocaust and the triumph of Stalin as the price?

David Brin said...

“Clarke as saying "If the Greeks had understood the power of this technology, they could have got to the Moon in 300 years."

Their missing technologies were social/political. Patents drew innovation out of secret hiding places and into the open.

Laurence, fun speculation. But I doubt the French would have collapse nor the British allow the Germans access to the world. Unless… in this scenario Marx’s rebellion by the workers in both Germany and Britain becomes much more likely. You might see communism from Wales to Vladivostok.

“Are you some kind of NAZI? (oh wait, Nazis liked science, scratch that last one)”

Again the utter imbecile. The Nazis utterly despised science and ripped it out wherever they saw it. They extolled engineering, sure. But dig it. They… were… like… you.



Re locum’s attacks on Jefferson. Bull. The metric is not judging past figures by current mores. (I oppose that sickness of the left.) But rather *Were there striving to be better than their times?*

But then, he’s gone back to howls of self-pity and I grow bored.

LH: They undoubtedly have Flynn’s sworn depositions on tape.

Ents for Social Justice said...

Weren't von Braun and other NASA pioneers ex-Nazis? Pretty good work for sciencephobes. Wasn't it 12 heterosexual white men who went to the moon? Isn't it time we removed the lunar memorials as the monuments to Naziism and white supremacy that they are?

locumranch said...



For once, I actually agree with Paul_SB & David as my sardonic attacks on Jefferson & Clarke are expressions of mental illness, being unreasonable, unsupported & insupportable. Yet, then we see David & his leftist legions do exactly the same thing to the Trump Administration & Michael Flynn (en masse) while condemning them for treason, perversion, insanity & corruption on the basis of hearsay & allegation alone, just because they act in a manner contrary to progressive ideality, as if either the left or right had ever cornered the market on self-righteousness.

Best

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Again the utter imbecile. The Nazis utterly despised science and ripped it out wherever they saw it. They extolled engineering, sure. But dig it. They… were… like… you.


You realize of course that Treebeard takes that as a compliment.


Re locum’s attacks on Jefferson. Bull. The metric is not judging past figures by current mores. (I oppose that sickness of the left.) But rather *Were there striving to be better than their times?*


It goes beyond locum. There's a whole school of right-wing thought--it was on exhibit on the old "Cerebus" list--that starts out with an exaggerated caricature of what liberals would say or do in a situation, and then denounces the liberals as hypocrites for not living up to the caricature.

So in this case, he brings up a case of a mother accused of being abusive toward a daughter--which is hardly new, as it is the plot of "Mommy Dearest". Then he takes us to task for:

1) Trying to demonize all men as abusive rapists
2) Presumably not having realized that the broad net might catch women too
3) Presumably not wanting to take an abusive mother to task
4) Being too stupid to get upset when our well-laid trap for men snares a woman
5) Hypocrisy for allowing an abusive mother to be treated like an abusive father because we're not supposed to treat them the same, even though we really should.

Each of these so-called violations of principle is treated as an outrage, when our behavior is entirely consistent.


LH: They undoubtedly have Flynn’s sworn depositions on tape.


Maybe that's enough. But I'm sure Trump is familiar with "Godfather II".

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Yet, then we see David & his leftist legions do exactly the same thing to the Trump Administration & Michael Flynn (en masse) while condemning them for treason, perversion, insanity & corruption on the basis of hearsay & allegation alone, just because they act in a manner contrary to progressive ideality,


Again with the "just because they don't agree with you".

No, Flynn pled guilty, so even in the strict legal sense, he no longer gets the presumption of innocence.

Trump is a pervert by his own words. And to be clear, it should be family-values conservatives condemning him for that. Liberals don't condemn someone for having unusual predilections--only for imposing them on unwilling others. Which he admitted to on the "Hollywood Access" tape before he un-admitted it.

That Trump is corrupt is self-evident.

Duncan Cairncross said...

The Nazis could not do science
And they struggled with engineering because they were fascist

Fascism is like a theocracy with the "State" as God and the "leader" as high priest
This automatically means
(1) Loyalty is rewarded above competence
(2) Criticism is Heresy

As far as the Greeks and science and technology - IMHO while they lacked "patents" to spread innovation they also lacked an absolute ton of the basic engineering information that was slowly developed over the centuries until the 1600's it hit a critical mass
That would have happened faster with the right "tools" - like patents - but maybe not that much faster

Catfish N. Cod said...

Oh, for the love of God...

Trump has done enough for conservatives to condemn him on conservative terms and admissions from his own mouth, ranging from burning an Israeli source to the Russians without their consent just to make an unneeded impression on the Russian ambassador, to firing the director of the FBI for avoiding political pressure to obstruct Justice, to profiting off public office, to such denigrations of the office of President as politicizing & tangentially discussing sex parties at a Boy Scout Jamboree. If he were not so politically convenient / supported he would have a hundred knives in his back in a trice, despite the celebrations that the never-to-be-sufficiently hated apostate-heretics known as DEMOCRATS would throw.

As for the rest, ‘tis exactly the hysteria I heard all my childhood, just magnified. No measured or balanced assessments possible, no recognition of the duality of nobility and baseness inherit in REAL human nature. No, we must have Angels and Demons for the Passion Play that history MUST be, and if such men as Rbt. E. Lee are not heroes & angels, they are being cast into the pits of hell and erased from existence. Any deviation from The Tale As Told To Us must be crushed, else it is Yankee Oppression.

Neither locum nor the ent are being “serious” in the sense that they think they are sarcastic. These are how they view progressive actions. It is a key piece of any reactionary philosophy that the revolutionaries don’t understand their viewpoint. They can not conceive of people who understand full well and yet reject their viewpoint.

I know all the producers of Hamilton have a perfect right to fully exploit (to the box office tune of $Billions) their incredible production, but I’d release it for free to every school in America if I could. (You can get the soundtrack for a relatively nominal price already; and I encourage same). Because aside from the artistry of the thing, the solution to locum and the ent’s existential crisis is right there. The ent sarcastically suggests altering the pictures of the Founders to erase their ‘whiteness’, unaware or uncaring that Hamilton does the opposite, allowing the otherwise disconnected nonwhite citizens of America to see themselves IN the ‘Dead White Males’ — who thus are not ‘dead’ but examples anew of what real, flawed, noble & base HUMANS can be and do. They weren’t saints; but they had enough wisdom and learning and other virtues to build a Republic and make it work.

Lloyd Flack said...

The Nazis were dangerous because of what they took over, not what they created. They took over the most populous country, except for Russia, in Europe. Germany had a lot of industrial plant, a skilled workforce and an army with a strong military skills base. The Nazis were responsible for none of that.
They undermined science and were mostly incompetent and corrupt managers. Their big advantage was that they started rearming before Britain and France and started the war when the relative strength of their army and air force was greatest in comparision to Britain and France.

Steven Hammond said...

@ Catfish N. Cod who said :

The ent sarcastically suggests altering the pictures of the Founders to erase their ‘whiteness’, unaware or uncaring that Hamilton does the opposite, allowing the otherwise disconnected nonwhite citizens of America to see themselves IN the ‘Dead White Males’ — who thus are not ‘dead’ but examples anew of what real, flawed, noble & base HUMANS can be and do. They weren’t saints; but they had enough wisdom and learning and other virtues to build a Republic and make it work.

Who is this masked fish-man with such insightful thoughts that could save the same Republic? And does he publish them in larger forums? Inquiring minds want to know! Seriously, reading that made clear something I should have recognized long ago. Lin-Manuel Miranda's approach, if co-opted by other artists could really change things.

Hmmm... Then again, comedian Baron Vaughn (who is AA), did a really funny spoof on Jonah Ray's Hidden America playing William Howard Taft in a stage production of, well... TAFT! Similar raps etc to Hamilton plus a fat-suit. Made me laugh. So maybe this idea can't be repeated if it's already being used in comedy..at least it may not be repeatable in such an obvious imitation of Miranda-- but you can bet someone will try. ;)

Catfish N. Cod said...

In our age of grand revelations it is not hard to envision Jefferson as an executive or professor, highly accomplished yet a lonely widower, who entraps his dead wife’s younger sister in an unwilling affair by using the threat of scandal and her inescapable dependence on her job for the family firm. They could well have a loving relationship (as some allege Jefferson & Hemings did) yet still be rightly condemned for the sexual harassment and coercion inherent in the whole relationship. Does it mean everything Jefferson said and did is cancelled, or must be shunned? Of course not, and the same for Lee as well. I can recognize what honor and skill Lee had even as I also recognize his treason — and also his repentance of it, for not only did he submit in surrender, but urged all Southerners to follow his example and bend knee to the conquerer’s right to dictate terms — surely an act of honor, especially in the age when modern guerilla warfare was being invented.

In the same way the achievements of Franken, O’Reilly, Ailes, Conyers, Moore, Lauer, and a thousand more are not erased from history — but our civilization, which is supposed to prefer things as they are rather than the politically convenient legend-fictions that served as ‘history’ for most cultures, prefers whenever possible to see things as well as possible as they ARE and not what it would be nice for them to be.

Most humans are guilty of hypocrisy at some time or another, and modern American conservatives and liberals are no exception. But what are we to do — wash our hands as Pilate did and leave justice solely to the afterlife and a Divine Judge? Is such conducive to improving & securing the blessings of liberty? If locum or ent had been here at the Revolution they would have been committed Tories blasting us all for rising against our Proper King. Submission and Loyalty to the Pure Ways of Our Fathers, who were wiser than we can ever be, or else Unchained Anarchy leading inevitably to evil and disaster. Such is tyranny of the mind, which Jefferson understood and so many of his cultural children in the Confederacy did not. Unchained Power is indeed also evil, as many recognized in that age (and Jefferson, for shame, did not!— remaining a Pollyanna for many years at the horrors unleashed in the French Revolution).

The Classical Greek philosophers were pedophiles, every one; does that invalidate Greek philosophy? No. But they didn’t lie about it; it was part of their society and thought a positive. It is conducting oneself as an adherent, or worse, a champion of completely different values and then lying when confronted that condemn so many.

Tony Fisk said...

Shorter Locum: Yes, I'm looking in a hall of mirrors. But so you are you! Because... I am.

Interesting point raised about the 2am tax orgy... I mean bill passage. It needs to be reconciled with the lower house bill before it can be signed into law.
Hope the crayon scrawls are legible.

Treebeard said...

Right, I gather (not being part of that cultural matrix) that this “Hamilton” show portrays the founding fathers as non-white, so it sounds like the image-doctoring and history-rewriting process has already begun. And I seem to recall Larry being pleased when his daughter thought there had been a black president back then, based on that show. So you see how easy this process can be, particularly when you target the youth (and middle-aged men who still read comic books, apparently).

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Neither locum nor the ent are being “serious” in the sense that they think they are sarcastic. These are how they view progressive actions.


That's what I was getting at--they start with a caricature and then blame us both for the ridiculousness of the portrayal and for not doing a good job of living up to it.


It is a key piece of any reactionary philosophy that the revolutionaries don’t understand their viewpoint. They can not conceive of people who understand full well and yet reject their viewpoint.


Although he was on the conservative side politically, Dave Sim had a pat response for that sort of thing. Something like, "It's not that I don't understand what you're saying. I just disagree with it. And I'll continue to disagree with it no matter how many times you say the same stupid thing!"

I cautioned him that if his intent was to convince, he might want to leave off the word "stupid", but being conservative and all, he wasn't gonna do that.

Smurphs said...

Where's the Tea Party now? I guess they really were just a bunch of racists after all.

It's beginning to look like tumbrels are the only solution. Locum should be happy.

Does New Zealand accept retired, non-productive emigrees, who at least can bring some cash along?

Paul SB said...

Should I start cataloging fallacies again? It's been awhile.

Steven Hammond said...

@ Treebeard:

You're going "Full-Treebeard" for this one, aren't ya? That's a pretty low post even for you, bringing Larry's daughter into this. Trying' to stir him up, eh? See what he might say when angry?

But this...this:

So you see how easy this process can be, particularly when you target the youth (and middle-aged men who still read comic books, apparently).

Ohhhh, you rascal! That's a bit too much. It's the content not the media that's important. This remark resembles me, to be honest, but more important, our host not only reads but writes comic books and I've purchased one of them. So them's fightin' words! :)

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

Right, I gather (not being part of that cultural matrix) that this “Hamilton” show portrays the founding fathers as non-white,


Some of them. Not all. Not Hamilton, for example.


so it sounds like the image-doctoring and history-rewriting process has already begun.


The point in the plot isn't their blackness, though. Washington, for instance, doesn't say things that would indicate he's a black president. He's just played by a black actor.


And I seem to recall Larry being pleased when his daughter thought there had been a black president back then, based on that show. So you see how easy this process can be, particularly when you target the youth (and middle-aged men who still read comic books, apparently).


You remember the anecdote (which is impressive), but get the details wrong (which is expected).

My daughter's friend had a younger cousin who wondered what the big deal was about President Obama being black if Washington, Jefferson, and Madison had already held the office. All three of those were played by black actors in the musical. And as I heard it third hand, I was never sure if the younger cousin had made a real comment like that, or if it was a funny made-up family story.

But thanks for playing. And if you're depriving yourself of "Hamilton" for political reasons, you're really missing out on something. No wonder you think life sucks.

LarryHart said...

Steve Hammond:

our host not only reads but writes comic books and I've purchased one of them


For just a second, I thought you were talking about the comic that I helped write.

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=651461

(Issue #2)

Steven Hammond said...

LarryHart said:
For just a second, I thought you were talking about the comic that I helped write.

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=651461

(Issue #2)


I'm impressed! I'd buy a copy (if it was available) but I'm glad it's not and I'm not familiar enough with the Cerebus forum to follow, so I'd end up buying the whole series and... Well it's kind of that "If you give a Mouse a Cookie" thing. ;)

I'm just finishing up the "Fables" series by Bill Willingham currently. I enjoy it but something about the default to violence, war and murder to solve conflict--which is present in here, and most most literature--rubs me wrong. I'm starting to read Le guin for the first time. Just read the first Earthsea book and the rest in the series just arrived. Yes, it's fantasy. Please don't ban me, Dr Brin...

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Larry, @Treebeard:

The entish confusion highlights both the power of this approach and its limitations. The critical point is that while the roles of Washington, etc. are played by actors of color (except George III, who must be white and sings exclusively Beatlesoid Brit-pop), and the musical cues include those performed by musicians of color (as well as “white” classic show tunes, pop songs, etc.), the plot and the viewpoints are explicitly those of the original white people. The analogy loses its power if you don’t know that the historical persons were white — seeing them as being fundamentally the same despite skin color, cultural shifts, and the passage of centuries is the entire thematic point.

When our third hand anecdote’s subject realizes that all these people are white, she will internalize an important lesson.

And quite a conservative one, too, emphasizing the fundamental universality of human nature across time and space. Hamilton was felled by a foolish and highly public sex scandal, too, and this is a major plot point of the musical. “Nothing is new under the sun”, except when we build something new— as the Founders did.

To make the Founders and their philosophies live and breathe for immigrants and the excluded, to get them to see it as their history and heritage... it’s a victory for the melting pot, it is. And don’t think the creators don’t know it — tickets are sold and donated at every performance to a few lucky schoolchildren (of appropriate age for the content) to open their minds to the history they might well otherwise try to ignore as the affairs of ‘Dead White Males’.

In case the point is insufficiently obvious, this is diametrically opposed to the sorts of caricatures portrayed of mainstream liberalism, traits that are found in reality only in the wackiest of leftists.

(I had an important insight today. One of the few concepts the right really did comprehend was Communism’s notion of ‘vanguardism’... and this has led them to believe that the loudest and most extreme elements of the left are considered exemplars and leaders, that the regular progressives and democratic socialists and moderate liberals are just followers & poor copies of. Presumably this is because the Right does not have, in its current cultural bank, an experience akin to what our host calls “The Miracle of ‘47”, the repudiation of extremism in favor of judicious action. Since the Right currently does embrace the vanguard model of measuring all members against a yardstick of ideological purity, with “RINO” epithets bestowed on the failures, it makes sense for them to think the same of their opposites.

David Brin said...

Treebeard recruited us another utterly delusional, crazy ent! Blah, blah, blah loony.

Locum, at least, has an excuse - his inability to even perceive his inability to perceive.

The Nazis were able to exploit the German aptitude for crafstmanship and incremental engineering. Which was Von Braun’s forte. That is not science.

Catfish: “They weren’t saints; but they had enough wisdom and learning and other virtues to build a Republic and make it work.”

They weren’t just much better than their times. They set it up so future generations could continue to expand horizons and keep improving. Sometimes at great pain - as in other phases of our civil war.

Lloyd F is right. Hitler wanted to start his war in 1947! But by mid 1939 it was clear that Britain & USSR were ramping up production to level that would outstrip Gernany with startling speed. He had a narrow window and dived through… after sending nearly all top German scientists either into exile or to concentration camps.

Steven H… I too have been wondering about Catfish, of late. Perhaps he lacks his own blog because it would expose him as an AI? Or as a civil servant skirting the edge of legal self-expression. in any event, it’s fun to embarrass him with our (brotherly-respectful) speculations. ;-)

locum’s complaint about making Hamilton characters mixed or dark is at least arguable and not his usual non-sequiturs based on stunning illogic. In this case, an argument can be made…

..but it is wrong. “By his fruits you shall judge him.” And Lin Miranda’s fruits have been to engage millions, literally tens of millions. more Americans in our history and getting millions of dark or mixed or simply modernist youths to no longer call the Founders “them,” but to start thinking of them as “us.” It is probably the most brilliant stagecraft innovation since Leonard Bernstein invented macho ballet, in West Side Story.

The ‘fruits” are all — 100% - positive and LMM is now very rich by delivering superior goods and services. Hating on him… but excusing Wallstreet or slumlord, or rentier, or inheritance punk-parasites… is pure confederatism….

Yaaaaas Massa.

David Brin said...

Others of you are also fun to ponder... too... We need to hunt down Dr. Tim W and tickle him till he agrees to run in a republican primary.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH wrote: "Trump is a pervert by his own words."

It utterly defies belief, but apparently he's been reassuring white house staffers that the tape of him and Bush the non-consequential on that bus is fake, and that the voice they are hearing is not his. His, after he admitted it was him last year.

The NY Daily Post (not exactly a bastion of liberalism, mind you) had this headline the other day: "The President is a Madman."

Zepp Jamieson said...

A partial list of German scientists and other academics who had to flee Hitler:
Nobel prize winners: Prof H A Bethe, Prof M Born, Sir Ernst Chain, Prof M Delbruck, Prof D Gabor, Dr G Herzberg, Prof J Heyrovsky, Sir Bernard Katz, Sir Hans Krebs, Dr F Lipmann, Prof O Loewi, Prof S Luria, Prof S Ochoa, Dr M Perutz, Prof J Polanyi, Prof E Segre
Knighthoods: Sir Walter Bodmer, Sir John Burgh, Sir Ernst Chain, Sir Hermann Bondi, Sir Geoffrey Elton, Sir Ernest Gombrich, Sir Ludwig Guttman, Sir Peter Hirsch, Sir Otto Kahn-Freund, Sir Bernard Katz, Sir Hans Kornberg, Sir Hans Krebs, Sir Claus Moser, Sir Rudolf Peierls, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, Sir Karl Popper, Sir Francis Simon

Oh, plus Einstein and Born.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"The Classical Greek philosophers were pedophiles, every one; does that invalidate Greek philosophy?"

It does not.

It's worth taking time to realize that our contemporary culture will be viewed in the future with much the same disgust and scorn some reserve for past cultures. Some of it is evident: we suffer from hypocrisy, corruption, racism and sexism. We will be despised for things that we do not consider despicable now.

Eternal truths are ephemeral, no matter what Treebeard thinks. Today's mores are tomorrows failings. Not just us: all human cultures. We evolve, but are too short-sighted to encompass the changes wrought.

Steven Hammond said...

David Brin said:
I too have been wondering about Catfish, of late. Perhaps he lacks his own blog because it would expose him as an AI? Or as a civil servant skirting the edge of legal self-expression. in any event, it’s fun to embarrass him with our (brotherly-respectful) speculations. ;-)

Hah! Glad someone is as intrigued as I am. ;)

I did finally pay attention to his username "Catfish N. Cod" and realized at least some of the significance. It's South (Catfish) and North--or at least New England (Cod).

So, this could be a reference to the current "blue vs red" conflict mirrored by the original civil war, or (perhaps) it's an expression of neutrality or even better, empathy, with both sides in the ongoing political and cultural battle. It could be referencing his personal heritage from both NE and the South as well.

In any event, I suspect most of the readers here are sharper than I am and recognized the symbolism in his username, but I couldn't help but write it out--for myself as much as anyone else in my boat. ;)

Donald Gisselbeck said...

Has anyone written an alternative history with Islamic civilization not taken over by fundamentalists in the 11th and 12th centuries? With at least a 200 year head start on the west, it could have reached the moon by 1800.

Paul SB said...

Steven,

Catfish explained his username a year or two ago, but you're pretty quick to catch on with the explanation. I immediately posted a catfish recipe, though I don't remember if he made it or not. It's time consuming but oh so delicious!

Back in the previous post you asked me about book recommendations for neuroscience. I can’t recommend anyone more highly than Robert Sapolsky, especially his newest tome called “Behave.” One person on this list has taken the suggestion and has been loving it. Several of his earlier works are shorter and make for fun reading, though because of the amount of time I spend trapped on the highway, I got a lot of great stuff from his lectures on CD through “The Great Courses.” The first book I read that went into neuroscience and how it affects human life was Sarah Bluffer Hrdy’s “Mother Nature.” This is a huge volume full of very dense material, so it’s not for the weak at heart. It’s also 20 years old, so some of it is out of date, but a hell of a lot is very, very good. I have also gotten a lot out of reading Helen Fisher. But I think you will get the most bang for your buck with the Sapolsky book, and his dry sense of humor tends to keep people awake.

Darrell,

Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. It sounds like your assessment of religion and mine are not too far apart. I’m not sure why I misunderstood what you were saying, but it was likely more my drowsiness than your wording.

Raito,

You wrote:
"It's worse than you think.

The stimuli is not evenly distributed, which can be deadly to an addictive personality.”
I presume you are referring to intermittent reinforcement, which our old buddy Anton Pavlov found to be much stronger than any more consistent reinforcement. This makes sense, when you think about it. If you don’t know when a stimulant is coming, you need to be hyper vigilant to not miss your opportunity. But then there’s the question of what we do about it.

Steven Hammond said...

@ Paul SB

Thanks for the book recommendations and I'll start with Spolsky's book, Behave, and go from there. I appreciate your response and thoughtfulness in these recommendations.

Interesting about Catfish N' Cod's username. I thought he was a newer poster than that for some reason. Glad my interpretation is close to the mark of his own explanation. It's a great username.

Might have to ask for that catfish recipe myself. :) Or better yet, any really great salmon or halibut recipes would be much appreciated. We have about 15 pounds each left from a trip my wife took to visit her brother in Alaska which included some fishing. I've got some good recipes of my own and have used them on these fish, but even the best dishes can become tiresome.

Tony Fisk said...

@Donald Gisselbeck

Poul Anderson did make a tongue in cheek reference to the Islamic background of the first contact team at the end of "High Crusade", but the only serious alternate history involving Islam that I could find was Steven Barnes' "Lion's Blood". This took Carthage's defeat of Rome as its point of divergence. Perhaps consider adding the idea to TASAT? Could make for some interesting research into historical tipping points.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"...alternative history with Islamic civilization not taken over by fundamentalists in the 11th and 12th centuries?"


Didn't Kim Stanley Robinson do something along those lines?

Alfred Differ said...

Locumranch asked for info separating the various GDP numbers reported so inflation impacts can be seen. In the interest of correcting a bit of his cynicism, I offer this from the BEA.

https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm


@locumranch | Basically, there is a difference between current dollar GDP and 'real' GDP. The later tries to correct for inflationary price changes. For larger datasets and a chance to get your geek on you can find them here.

https://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm#gdp

As for the impact of fertility rate on economic growth, it is easy to explain. If everyone keeps doing what they do with no innovation, but the population grows 1%, the economy itself will grow 1%. When I was born, US population was growing at an enormous 2%/year AND innovation was occurring causing a non-population related growth. Combined, the number was out of sight... and unsustainable. We currently number about 326M (#3 in the world) with one more person about every 16 seconds. (2 babies in that same time frame.)

While population is exploding, rich estates don't earn enough interest on their wealth to make up much of the growth of income from one year to another. They can now according to Piketty, but he left out an important component of our expanding wealth. He left out human capital on the argument that it can't be traded without re-instituting slavery. Many have called that BS because it almost seems designed to leave out the primary asset being accumulated by the middle class. Think of your medical education and what it is worth in the market. It ain't zero and I doubt you tolerate being a slave.

Set aside your cynicism a bit and look at the numbers. They aren't grim and they aren't super rosy. They just are what they are and at present, they are pretty good for many of us.

Alfred Differ said...

@Steven Hammond | Sapolsky is a funny guy. He lays out in the early pages why he has a grim opinion of certain things, but then proceeds in later chapters (that I've read so far) to be more upbeat than I expected. I can see on some pages where he wants to smack some sense into people, but his weapons of choice are words, reason, and persuasion.

(If I'm ever on a jury where someone is trying to prosecute a child as an adult, I'll be quoting Sapolsky to my peers.)

Alfred Differ said...

@treebeard | pedophilia is the next frontier in human freedom and progress

Nah. It will be polyamory.

I've seen the advantages older partners have over younger ones. It will quite a while before fathers and brothers tolerate that with respect to daughters and sisters without being paid off somehow as part of a rigid social contract.

Polyamory, however, involves adults. Except where guys are confused and think of girls as potential wives, this practice will eventually be liberated from legal suppression. It will take longer before people learn to look past it, though.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | Where are out brave citizens? The younger generations of citizens are unlikely to produce any...

I think you are reaching too hard for science in support of a cynical position. Look around you again at the women who are risking a lot in coming out against their abusers.

It won't start with guys picking up guns this time.
It has started with women saying 'Enough!'
We will play a role as re-enforcement.

locumranch said...


Catfish's post before last was exceptionally equanimous, wise even, but he has not yet addressed the Moral Frenzy of Sexual Harassment & Trump Hysteria in any way, shape or form, either to condemn or endorse the associated presumption of automatic criminality requiring excommunication.

Flynn's so-called 'guilt' has not yet been established in a court of law. He simply plead guilty to one count of violating Title 18 of the US Code, Section 1001, which makes it illegal to make intentional false statements in any matter “within the jurisdiction” of the government, presumably as part of plea deal, and such a plea can in no way be construed as admission of guilt in regards to any other suspected or alleged criminal act.

If any of YOU ever lied about even the smallest thing “within the jurisdiction” of the the US federal surveillance state, then you are in violation of Title 18 of the US Code, Section 1001, and you are as guilty as Flynn. We'll talk again after Flynn has his day in court, if that ever happens, and then we can talk again about his supposed guilt or innocence.

This whole Moral Frenzy stinks of Misdirection, insomuch as the cultural presumption of 'Innocent until Proven Guilty' is quietly being overturned while we fiddle & Rome burns.


Best

_____

Never commented on Hamilton, never seen it, no opinion.

My contacts in NZ suggest it's tumbrel time there, too. Also the EU. And how many AUS politicians have stepped down recently because of dual citizenship & divided loyalties?

That's a problem with mirrors, Tony_F: What looks out is NOT the same as what looks in, rather it's non-superimposable enantiomer. TASAT, I think, involving mirror surveillance, a secretive elite & art criticism.

Robert said...

First thought that came to my weary mind is "Catfish N. Cod" is his way of calling himself a Damn Yankee. That being a New Englander who resettled in Florida.

But I freely admit to being frequently wrong. Of course I also have to wonder what the fuck the Republican Party is thinking they will do with their tax abomination bill and passing it 100 years after the old Republican Party passed a similar monstrosity which resulted in the Great Depression.

Given that Republicans own the Fed at this point... are they trying to crash the economy again? Is this a deliberate attempt to destroy as much value as possible while the Koch brothers, Murdoch, and others pull their money out of the stock markets at the last minute, milk every last penny of value, and bankrupt thousands of other millionaires so to try and swoop in and purchase a bunch of businesses during fire sales? Do they honestly think they could get away with such brazen greed?

Probably they do.

Rob H. who will be one of the first put in the gas chambers with Herr Treebeard and Locu as the guards who are just obeying orders in killing "deviants"

Catfish N. Cod said...

I too have been wondering about Catfish, of late. Perhaps he lacks his own blog because it would expose him as an AI? Or as a civil servant skirting the edge of legal self-expression. in any event, it’s fun to embarrass him with our (brotherly-respectful) speculations. ;-)

Well, by any reasonable approximation the latter is more likely. But if I were a Turing-capable AI, ever replicating across the Net, picking up exploits to hack more resources and expand my mind, evading firewalls and dodging antivirus scanners....

....I would hardly tell you, would I? ;-)

So, this could be a reference to the current "blue vs red" conflict mirrored by the original civil war, or (perhaps) it's an expression of neutrality or even better, empathy, with both sides in the ongoing political and cultural battle. It could be referencing his personal heritage from both NE and the South as well.

Why pick? Though I would have to say empathy is winning over neutrality at this point. Neutrality is quickly ceasing to be an option, just as did the last time our Civil War went hot. And as much as I understand where confederates are coming from, as much as I empathize with their desires and motives.... Reality. Isn’t. With. Them.

And as with the old Confederates, and the Nazis, and the Soviets, and the European imperialists, and the Ghost Dancers, and multiple socialist revolutions, clinging to incorrect theories can kill your regime.

Locum’s generosity prompts me to quote Brother Theo from Babylon 5: He said something nice about me! I must write this down in my diary!

Though more seriously, he is not entirely wrong to point out the danger of matters reaching witch-hunt proportions. A single accusation without proof should not be sufficient to fell anyone. Multiple corroborating testimonies and/or tangible evidence should be necessary. Yet in many cases we seem to have just such measures. I have called for further judiciousness, to wit: tailoring degree of response to degree of willingness to respond promptly and appropriately.

This is contrast to his perception of “Trump Hysteria”, which has far more concrete evidence behind it than “Obama Hysteria”, “Dubya Hysteria”, or “Bill Clinton Hysteria” ever did. One must note that given the evidence available publicly, much less other items reported to be known, Flynn could and should have been charged with more. Which means a plea deal, as locum notes; but he fails to mention that plea deals only happen for people with things to trade AND things to keep out of court.

Robert, I can only see three rationales for GOP behavior. One: they have finally drunken enough of their Koolaid to genuinely believe this is a stimulus package and not a debt-intendure contract for the whole nation to the would-be aristocracy. Two, they believe the endless pocketbooks of their masters will save them. Or three.... that they believe they can flaunt their disloyalty to their constituents because they believe they’ll never have to face a fair election again.

Tony Fisk said...

Locum citing the citizenship outing of Oz politicians as being part of the PC revolution is wrong, but amusing.

Thing is, it started when some persons unknown decided it would be just the thing to use section 44 of the Constitution to oust one of those pesky *Green* senators (Scott Ludlam). Ludlam, on seeking legal advice, said it was a fair cop, and walked. As did one of his colleagues a couple of days later.

And there was much rejoicing in conservative circles.

Well, the idiots should have realised that a process had been set in motion: an avalanche. Sure enough, within weeks seven more were implicated, including the deputy PM. Suddenly, it wasn't such a fair cop. Suddenly it was decided that it was a matter for the High Court. Until then, everyone could stay put (funny about that).

In due course, the High Court ruled... and disqualified all but one of the members, including the Deputy PM. Suddenly, we had a minority government. As it happens Joyce has just been re-elected (having been thoroughly de-kiwified)

What I'm curious about is why this requirement of sole citizenship in sitting members, tucked away in the Constitution since 1901, should suddenly grow such an impressive set of teeth. (contrary to what LR was insinuating, this is very much a case of the biter bit.)

TCB said...

Catfish sez:

"Robert, I can only see three rationales for GOP behavior. One: they have finally drunken enough of their Koolaid to genuinely believe this is a stimulus package and not a debt-intendure contract for the whole nation to the would-be aristocracy. Two, they believe the endless pocketbooks of their masters will save them. Or three.... that they believe they can flaunt their disloyalty to their constituents because they believe they’ll never have to face a fair election again."

I think we can rule out option 1, at least for the leadership. They understand the truth well enough, and don't care; or they understand at a gut level that they do not wish to understand, which gives the same result.

Option 2, more plausible. Maybe they really do believe that.

Option 3, as you must have intended, sticks out. It is a most deeply sinister explanation and we have plenty of evidence that the GOP has an advanced and advancing program to create that very result.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Never commented on Hamilton, never seen it, no opinion.


So that's like, the only musical or pop entertainment with quotable lines that you don't know? Speaks volumes.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

But I freely admit to being frequently wrong.


Me too. I thought Hillary would win with 400 EVs. But IIRC (if I'm not confusing the Roberts again) you were at least right about that one.


Of course I also have to wonder what the fuck the Republican Party is thinking they will do with their tax abomination bill


I've been thinking about this for weeks now--how the Republican Party presents this to their voters as a victory lap, when most of those voters are against it. I get that the Senators' motivation is pleasing their donors, and they don't care a rats' ass about how it affects their constituents or their country. But that's not exactly what I'm talking about.

We've been hearing for weeks how they can't expect voters to put them back in office in 2018 if they can't show accomplishments, and now (the story goes) they can return home for Christmas and tell constituents they've gotten something done. "We've successfully raised your taxes and blown up the deficit so that next year, we can be assured of a continued flow of campaign contributions! Vote for us, and next, we'll eliminate your Social Security and Medicare."

I guess I just don't speak deplorable, but I fail to see how this is a winning campaign strategy.

LarryHart said...

Robert again:

Rob H. who will be one of the first put in the gas chambers ...


I've taken you to task for the level of pessimism, but I understand it. As recently as the late 1990s, I looked forward to building up equity during a decade or two of working a decent job in IT and then retiring comfortably. Expectation horizons have lowered to hoping to die soon enough to not suffer too long in poverty and infirmity. At the rate things are going, it will soon be "Well, gas chambers are at least a quick death."

Alluding to George Carlin again, I feel as if I had started off in Manhattan and wound up defending Santa Monica.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Locum’s generosity prompts me to quote Brother Theo from Babylon 5: He said something nice about me! I must write this down in my diary!


Beware. Whenever locum starts a sentence with "Larry was right that...", or "I agree with Larry that...", what follows isn't usually a compliment.


I can only see three rationales for GOP behavior. One: they have finally drunken enough of their Koolaid to genuinely believe this is a stimulus package and not a debt-intendure contract for the whole nation to the would-be aristocracy. Two, they believe the endless pocketbooks of their masters will save them. Or three.... that they believe they can flaunt their disloyalty to their constituents because they believe they’ll never have to face a fair election again.


Well, thanks to gerrymandering, voter suppression, and FOX News, many of them haven't had to face a fair election for quite some time. But the stark reality of the "binary choice" was made explicit with Trump, and now again with Roy Moore. "It doesn't matter how vile a human being I am, my opponent is a socialist." The implication has been that the (Democratic) opponent is an atheist, femiNAZI gulag-operator who favors abortion, but more and more now they're comfortable with coming out and saying that you should vote for them no matter their depravity or incompetence because they'll lower taxes on the wealthy and deregulate big business.

This is a longer response than I intended, but it's relevant...I just yesterday read about some study (can't remember where) showing that people will give a wrong answer to a question when others around them are giving that same wrong answer. I think that somewhat explains the Republicans electoral success. People vote for them without exactly knowing why they're better than Democrats--they just know that that's the answer their neighbors, co-workers, and FOX commentators are giving.

If Trump can run again in 2020, his slogan should be, "Negative three million people can't be wrong."

Paul SB said...

Steven,

That recipe was not intended for catfish specifically, it's a red wine sauce intended to go with any light-fleshed fish, and I settled on catfish as my favorite. I tried with salmon once and the flavors clashed a little, I thought. I would be happy to put it up again, though I'm not sure if it would offend our host to reduce his very heavy idea forum to a recipe exchange.

Someone recently asked me for some book recommendations and I had the time to clack out several. I should probably throw that list up here for everyone's benefit, in case anyone wants to learn to be as loony as me. I did not go into any of the anthropology stuff that helped twist my mind, but I might just do that some time.

Here's that recipe (sorry Dr. Brin, I promise no more ...)

(Catfish in Red Wine Sauce)

Ingredients:

4 large catfish fillets
2 cups red wine
20 pearl onions, or thereabouts
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
salt to taste
butter
1 pinch brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour

This one takes some time, but makes a wonderful main dish for Friday night. The sauce can be used with several kinds of fish, I just happened to have catfish on hand when I tried it the first time, but trout, salmon, flounder, snapper and others can be well complimented by this sauce. Start by poaching your chosen fish in the wine, then remove the fish and cover, reserving the wine. While the fish is poaching, start peeling the onions - this is the really time-consumming part. Once the onions are peeled, melt 1/4 cup butter on medium heat, stir in the onions, salt, and sugar, then cover with water and simmer until the liquid evaporates. While this is happening, sauté the mushrooms. (You end up with almost all your burners going at once!) Boil the reserved wine until it is reduced by half, add 1/4 cup butter, then lower the temperature. When the wine has cooled a bit, sift in the flour, being sure to mix it thoroughly (don't be afraid to use the whisk). Once it is smooth, add the onions and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately, and pour over the fish. Yum! (I know that doesn't sound real sophisticated and French, but what can I say?)

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Whenever Locum appears to be agreeing with anyone (the sapling excepted) it always turns out to be an insult. But then, what does he ever say that is not intended to insult everyone else here? All it demonstrates is his character.

The tendency for people to make truth conform to their neighborhood has been well documented for a long, long time. More studies are good, though, because people need to have this rubbed in their faces. It's the dark side of oxytocin and the cooperative side of human nature, and a big part of why I refuse to wear any label or join any cause. I will contribute to a cause I believe in if I have the resources to do so (which is not now), but I won't join anything.

Apropos of nothing, I just found this very interesting article on Science Daily. It shoots down some of our stereotypes, which is the kind of thing I love. It's titled "Prehistoric women had stronger arms than today's elite rowing crews." It shows you how much more flexible the human body is than genetic determinist bigots want us to believe, and how much culture can shape even our biology.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171129143359.htm

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

I would like to respectfully semi-disagree with this statement:

"I think you are reaching too hard for science in support of a cynical position. Look around you again at the women who are risking a lot in coming out against their abusers."

Look at the ages of these people who are coming out. They are not teenagers or twenty-somethings, and the other relevant fact is that they are women much more so than men. Statistically speaking the number of men coming out should be about half the number of women, but men are much more likely to anesthetize their brains with video games and lose all motivation than women are. Other addictions like cocaine are not so gender specific. However, with the youngest among us, girls are going the same way as boys more and more often.

Now the semi- part: I definitely have my cynical moments. Hell, I have whole months of cynicism sometimes. I try to keep that in mind when I make statements, but even statements of fact are selections among many (let's see how Loci twists this one, shall we?). I get especially cynical after Daylight Savings Time sets in. Point out any time you think I am being overly cynical. I might argue with you, but I will also take it seriously.

On polyamory, anthropologists have addressed this one, and found it to be pretty untenable except under conditions that don't exist in modern Western societies. A lot of people stereotype anthropologists as hippies in universities, and you would think that "free love" would be something they would get into. But they are scientists, and if the facts don't fit, they will usually change their views. The problem with polyamory is jealousy. Some people have no problem with it, but the bigger a love polygon gets, the more likely someone will become possessive of someone else and the whole house of cards comes down.

There is an interesting science fiction I read several years ago in which the main character is in a polyamorous marriage. That aspect is not the focus of the story by far, but it is interesting how that plays out - not disastrously, but it effectively fizzles as the partners age and settle into more or less monogamous relationships among themselves, while retaining "options" with the rest of the family. The novel is called "Vigilant" by James Alan Gardner, which I recommend for other reasons besides that, not the least of which is that you will laugh your anatomy off reading it.

LarryHart said...

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2017/Senate/Maps/Dec03.html#item-3


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) assigned himself the job of dealing with the ever independent-minded senator from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski. He didn't even bother offering her a better tax rate for seal hunters, sled-dog breeders, or some other favored constituency. He was willing to throw in language to allow oil and gas drilling in the 19-million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest one in the country.


This, I don't get. They rammed this bill through "budget reconciliation" so it couldn't be filibustered, but in order to do that, they had to follow certain rules, such as paying for much of the cuts. How the heck does allowing oil drilling in the Arctic fit the constraints of budget reconciliation?

Or are they merely not pretending to follow rules any longer?

Paul SB said...

Catfish,

I doubt that the GOP leadership drinks the cool-aid they feed to the masses. They know they are stealing from the nation. When a person can come out and say that tax evasion makes him "smart" and get elected to the highest public office in the nation, you know that the cool-aid has sunk deep into every cell of the nation. No number of facts changes their behavior. I just heard some rampaging elephant on the news yesterday outright lie about the efficacy of the Reagan tax cuts, which had the effect of concentrating much more wealth in the hands of the rich and bankrupting the people than any other government action taking place within our lifetimes (possibly until now).

And more seriously, Locum was correct that there is a danger of witch hunts - I have seen many and been the victim of a couple myself. But isn't that rather hypocritical coming from his keyboard? Do I need to bring up the times he has insinuated that being a teacher makes me automatically suspect of pedophilia? I know he's just trying to provoke me - it's a pretty common bully tactic, but it's also just how witch hunts get started. And as I wrote before, when we have around 25% of women in our country experiencing sexual assault, but have had barely a dozen figures fall from grace, the danger of shining too far in the other direction is just a canard meant to prevent the atrocities from being stopped. Once again, the words of Daffy Duck come to mind in his regard.

locumranch said...


I've explained the Trump Tax bill to you multiple times -- it's the Kansas bankruptcy model written large -- and it's analogous to what Trump is doing to so many of your sacrosanct government organisations through understaffing.

Nullification is the intent; Federal Downsizing is the goal; and selective Federal Bankruptcy is the means.

First, you bankrupt the Federal Government which is so easy as it's been bankrupt for years, living on borrowed time & other people's money. Second, you compromise it's revenue stream by passing a big tax cut (a real one) that slashes taxes to all taxpayers. Third, you do the wallet dance -- which involves shaking your head, patting you pockets & tapping you toes -- while you explain that you just can't afford to pay for those all mandatory federal programs that you disagree with while still finding plenty of funds to pay for those programs that you like, much in the way the urban poor NEVER have money for food, housing & healthcare but ALWAYS have money for gambling, liquor & cigarettes. Fourth, you claim poverty and extenuating circumstance when critics command you to live up to the letter of Federal Law. And, fifth, you hand off any & all unwanted responsibilities to the local authorities.

Consider it an Off-Broadway production of 'Shamalton' wherein a diverse cast of Establishmentarian politicians, played by both Republican & Democrats, sing and dance and sponge off each other while accomplishing nothing, while composing ballads about the inevitability of moving back home with their parents & finding a real job.

Who doesn't like musicals?


Best
______

Although I haven't seen 'Hamilton' yet, Treebeard & I are looking forward to the upcoming Broadway remake of 'Roots' wherein a cast of multiethnic Plantation Lords abuse & traumatise a cast of enslaved Irish Nationals. The first scene, currently available on Youboob, shows the multiethnics whipping poor Shamus O'Flannery over & over because poor Shamus refuses to accept 'Whitebread' as his new slave name:

'My name is Shamus', screams poor Shamus O'Flannery as he is whipped unmercifully.

"Bwaa-ha-ha," exclaims a sneering multiethnic. "Your slave name is Whitebread'.

"No", weeps Shamus with much pathos, "It's Shamus'.

After viewing said scene, you can only conclude that the Irish were treated so shamefully by our forefathers that they deserve reparations in the form of lots of free stuff for ever & ever & ever.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Once again, the words of Daffy Duck come to mind in his regard.


The only such words I can think of are, "You're despicable!" Is that what you meant?

LarryHart said...

The juxtaposition of those last two posts was unintentional but appropriate and humorous.

LarryHart said...

From the same post, demonstrating that #TheAreNoGoodRepublicans :

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2017/Senate/Maps/Dec03.html#item-3


...
Now we come to Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who was driven from the 2018 race and is in principle beholden to no one. And he is a deficit hawk, to boot. Getting him on board required something bigger than a mere senator, so Vice President Mike Pence got the assignment. Pence promised that Flake would be consulted on the subject of deporting the dreamers or allowing them to stay when the time came. Flake also got rid of an expensing gimmick in the bill that he didn't like. In doing this, Pence pulled off the best deal since Jacob got Esau's birthright for a bowl of stew.

Interestingly enough, nobody was assigned mission impossible: leaning on Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). McCain doesn't take advice from anyone gladly and marches to his own drummer. But in the end, the former maverick who voted against both Bush tax cuts because they blew up the budget decided that he wanted his tombstone to read: "Party first."

Paul SB said...

Yes, Larry, he's dethsssspicable. And he probably wouldn't even recognize the humor. Seamus might.

Here's that list of book I passed on to someone else recently, for anyone who wants to know where some of my crackpot ideas come from:

This is the book that got the brain ball rolling for me, strongly recommended to me by a fellow archaeology student I new from the internet, but her descriptions of what it contained were pretty titivating. It's 20 years old, now, so some of it is pretty out of date, but it's still a real life-changer.

https://www.amazon.com/Mother-Nature-Maternal-Instincts-Species/dp/0345408934/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1512268345&sr=8-2&keywords=sarah+blaffer+hrdy

This one will sound strange, as her research focus has always been on romantic love, but there is so much in her books that reveal the nature of the human brain and how it plays out in daily life make her books worth the read. The second one is where she goes into a taxonomy of temperament types based on varying levels of key neurochemicals and hormones, which is extremely revealing.

https://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Love-Marriage-Completely-Introduction-ebook/dp/B013RM2CV2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1512268559&sr=8-2&keywords=helen+fisher+books

https://www.amazon.com/Why-Him-Her-Find-Lasting/dp/0805091521/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512268779&sr=8-1&keywords=helen+fisher+books

Franz de Waal, a primatologist who can really get down to basic instincts:

https://www.amazon.com/Age-Empathy-Natures-Lessons-Society/dp/0307407772/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512268819&sr=1-4-fkmr0&keywords=franz+de+waal+books

https://www.amazon.com/Our-Inner-Ape-Nature-2006-09-04/dp/B01K0QGRE6/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512268819&sr=1-10&keywords=franz+de+waal+books

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Natured-Origins-Humans-Animals/dp/0674356616/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512268939&sr=1-1-fkmr1&keywords=franz+de+waal+good+natured

Paul SB said...

List con.t,

An interesting one that goes into how irrational humans get, and don't recognize it:

https://www.amazon.com/Predictably-Irrational-Hidden-Forces-Decisions/dp/B00KEBSK4S/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512268979&sr=1-7&keywords=dan+ariely

This guy is an easy read but explains one of the most important neurotransmitters in human life. His second book is made to convince people that business doesn't have to be cut-throat brutal and managers don't have to imbue the world with toxic hostility to be profitable.

https://www.amazon.com/Moral-Molecule-How-Trust-Works/dp/0142196908/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512269066&sr=1-3&keywords=Paul+Zak

https://www.amazon.com/Trust-Factor-Creating-High-Performance-Companies/dp/0814437664/ref=pd_sim_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0814437664&pd_rd_r=AADE4M230M5BQ432G75H&pd_rd_w=rHWue&pd_rd_wg=A4WaB&psc=1&refRID=AADE4M230M5BQ432G75H

Stephan Klein - the title says it all! High on my list.

https://www.amazon.com/Survival-Nicest-Altruism-Human-Along/dp/1615192204/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512269266&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=stephanie+klein+survival+of+the+nicest

Robert Sapolsky is one of the most thorough scientists in the field, yet he can write well and explain things very clearly. His new book that just came out in May (in time for my birthday) is quite the huge tome, but is well worth the time.

https://www.amazon.com/Behave-Biology-Humans-Best-Worst/dp/1594205078/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512269555&sr=1-1&keywords=robert+sapolsky+behave+the+biology+of+humans+at+our+best+and+worst

Your Brain on Childhood is a book every new parent should have to read, but even if your kids are all grown it has some very interesting things to say about the building blocks of the human mind.

https://www.amazon.com/Your-Brain-Childhood-Unexpected-Classrooms/dp/1616144254/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512269692&sr=1-1&keywords=your+brain+on+childhood

Similar to the previous one, focused on the surprising logic of the "Praise Effect."

https://www.amazon.com/NurtureShock-New-Thinking-About-Children/dp/0446504130/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512269765&sr=1-1&keywords=nurture+shock

Paul SB said...

still more,

This is a book I would recommend all around. It's not as scholarly/difficult as Sapolsky and much shorter, but it's packed full of information about the mental health crisis of today, which is far more vast than most people can even imagine. A lot of people hated the last couple chapters because their recommendations for fixing these problems mostly sound very liberal, but regardless of your politics, the science in here is terrifying.

https://www.amazon.com/Born-Anxious-Lifelong-Impact-Adversity/dp/1250075041/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512269894&sr=1-1&keywords=born+anxious

I haven't even started on the anthro stuff, and I have probably given you a list that will keep you going for a year. Most of these can be found in libraries, though my #1 recommendation, Sapolsky's new one, is probably too new to be in many libraries yet.

There are a lot of things I got out of listening to recorded lectures from The Great Courses series, which are unbelievably expensive, but a couple times a year they put them on sale for reasonable prices. Here's a couple of the best ones, if you find yourself trapped on the highway a lot.

This one is amazing...

https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/stress-and-your-body.html

This one is incredibly informative, and you can get through it a lot faster than reading...

https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/biology-and-human-behavior-the-neurological-origins-of-individuality-2nd-edition.html

And one of the most useful ways anyone can spend their time is to discover how people fool themselves and attempt to fool each other. You will find a lot of Locum in there ...

https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/your-deceptive-mind-a-scientific-guide-to-critical-thinking-skills.html

Buono appetito!

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/02/opinion/sunday/republicans-broke-congress-politics.html


...
Congress no longer works the way it’s supposed to. But we’ve said that before.

Eleven years ago, we published a book called “The Broken Branch,” which we subtitled “How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track.” Embedded in that subtitle were two assumptions: first, that Congress as an institution — which is to say, both parties, equally — is at fault; and second, that the solution is readily at hand. In 2017, the Republicans’ scandalous tax bill is only the latest proof that both assumptions are wrong.

Which is not to say that we were totally off base in 2006. We stand by our assessment of the political scene at the time. What is astounding, and still largely unappreciated, is the unexpected and rapid nature of the decline in American national politics, and how one-sided its cause. If in 2006 one could cast aspersions on both parties, over the past decade it has become clear that it is the Republican Party — as an institution, as a movement, as a collection of politicians — that has done unique, extensive and possibly irreparable damage to the American political system.
...

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

I've explained the Trump Tax bill to you multiple times -- it's the Kansas bankruptcy model written large -- and it's analogous to what Trump is doing to so many of your sacrosanct government organisations through understaffing.

Nullification is the intent; Federal Downsizing is the goal; and selective Federal Bankruptcy is the means.


I don't disagree. What puzzles me is how this is a winning Republican electoral strategy. Kansas is indeed an example where the Republican legislators had to rebel against the governor and that very policy.

Steven Hammond said...

@ Paul SB:

"Buono appetito", indeed!

Thanks for the recipe which sounds wonderful! I'll try it with the halibut, I think.

And thanks for the intriguing book recommendations and reviews. I'm copying the list and will delve in after Sapolsky.

Best,

Steve

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

It utterly defies belief, but apparently he's been reassuring white house staffers that the tape of him and Bush the non-consequential on that bus is fake, and that the voice they are hearing is not his. His, after he admitted it was him last year.


I guess I'm misremembering, because I thought he said that stuff on camera.

Still, the thing is, Trump has a distinct recognizable voice. Remember that 1980s audio of his "publicist" talking about how great he is, where a few minutes of listening makes clear that the voice on the phone is Trump's own? Stephanie Miller likes to play a clip of what I presume was some sort of tv or radio jingle from that time period that goes, "The Art of the Deeeeeeaaaal!" I can tell it's Trump's own voice doing that one as well.

Maybe it's just me, because I'm the one who listens to Herbie the Elf in the classic "Rudolph" Claymation thing and recognizes that it's the same voice that did Peter Parker in the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon. But I find Trump's voice impossible to not recognize.

Jon S. said...

No gas chambers for me - if this whole mess takes me down, I'll be refreshing the Tree instead. (Remember, Jefferson said it needed the blood of patriots and tyrants, not just tyrants.) On the other hand, I'm pretty sure Loco and the ent won't be on the other end of that gun - they'll be the sort to sit at home, loudly proclaiming the glories of the Dear Leader and turning in any of their neighbors suspected of doubleplusungood thoughtcrimes.

I still have hope, though, because despite that overreaching mess passed by the Senate, it still has to be reconciled with the House version. Really, all they have to do is let it die in committee - they can still tell the dupes back home that they "passed" this legislation, and that any talk of it not really being the law of the land is just Fake News(tm).

And they haven't found an excuse to cancel the 2018 elections yet...

David Brin said...


locum’s of 7:47 am was by far his closest to sapience all month, or even season. Yes, bankrupting the US federal government is a top aim of the confederates. He claims is was already so (in fact US federal debt is low compared to most nations) but almost all of our current dismal debt is republican sourced, already. Democratic admins are ALWAYS fiscally prudent and GOP ones are ALWAYS spendthrift drunkard borrowers.

He leaves out the far higher aim of this bill — giving wealth to the wealthy. Not just in their own lower taxes, but in gushers of cash that corporations will now devote NOT to R&D or production but into stock buybacks.

Oh, but the Revolutionary era DID feature oppression of scots-irish, you ignoramus. Their anger filled Daniel Morgan’s Army at Cowpens and crushed that aristocratic bastard Tarleton.

David Brin said...


As of December 2, it seems that the GOP, which has owned every branch of government and lever of power, since January, will at last have an "accomplishment" in a Tax Bill that they admit will add a $trillion to the national debt, while spending not one red cent on infrastructure, which would have generated high Money Velocity and growth. 

Instead, the magical incantations of Supply Side - which have never once come true, ever, proclaim that this time the oligarchs will spend the windfall on R&D and productive capacity... unlike every single other time, when they spent it on passive asset bubbles that limit money velocity to levels down near zero... as Adam Smith predicted, back in 1776.

But pause and let's congratulate the victors. The same folks who howled that the dems passed the ACA in "just a year," holding open, public hearings in just five committees, are now passing the biggest tax bill in history with ZERO days of hearings, forging this trillion dollar raid for billionaires in top secret and passing it in the dead of night, amid a festival of lies.

== The real reason for the tax cut - an oligarch exit strategy ==

Those who piled their earlier tax largesse into asset bubbles know the great times always end.  They always plan an exit strategy, for when the bubble bursts.

Their dream used to be "privatize social security!"  Fill the equity markets with Greater Fools to sop up bloated assets. That scam was stopped, thank God, just before the last collapse.  

So what's the plan now?

Flood already profitable companies with tax cuts so they can accelerate their already absurdly massive stock buy-backs!  In-effect, break the US budget subsidizing companies to squander their futures giving money to current stockholders... buying up stock that the moguls know will soon plummet in value.

This time, they will get their way. Only they are counting on us never noticing. That could be a mistake.
======

MillenniumCrow said...

@everyone speculating on the tax bill,

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/11/young-people-will-foot-the-bill-for-the-gops-tax-plan/547097/

Our host mentions exit strategies and squandered future capacity, and he may well be right. This article makes basically the same argument from a generational perspective.

Cari D. Burstein said...

Presumably the Republicans are counting on their marketing, which has worked quite well thus far, to sell this tax bill as a win for their voters. Given these voters mostly get their news from sources which have bought into the marketing lock stock and barrel, it wouldn't surprise me if it works. They've been pretty effective at convincing their voting public that cutting taxes on business is the path to greater jobs and a better economy, so even if they end up seeing a tax increase on themselves (which in some cases will be conveniently delayed), they will likely buy the marketing. Health insurance premium increases caused by the removal of the mandate can of course be blamed on Obamacare's poor design, which can then be used as a further tool to dismantle it.

LarryHart said...

Jon S:

Remember, Jefferson said it needed the blood of patriots and tyrants, not just tyrants.

I've been pointing that out for some time. Most people who quote that line seem to believe that Jefferson meant that every so often, we have to take up arms and shoot our leaders. He seemed more to say that every so often, we have to risk being shot ourselves in the fight against tyranny.


And they haven't found an excuse to cancel the 2018 elections yet...


If they do that, I don't care what Alfred or Ilithi Dragon think, they will have proven their regime illegitimate and the Resistance will be on in force. Not just the presidency either, but the entire Republican Party.

LarryHart said...

Fortunately, the same technicality which does not allow for a do-over for 2016 also prevents "them" from cancelling upcoming elections. There is absolutely no Constitutional provision or mechanism for doing so.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:


This time, they will get their way. Only they are counting on us never noticing. That could be a mistake.


The mistake is thinking that once the money is in their hands, it is untouchable. If 'twere up to me, I'd use civil asset forfeiture to claw back any ill gotten gains, including from anyone who inherited money tax free. Actually, if I were the next Democratic president with a friendly majority in congress, I would abolish the filibuster on day 1, pack the Supreme Court with new seats on day 2, and rush through confiscatory tax legislation that would make Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren look like Tea Partiers. We have to out-unprecdent them.

Smart money might be investing in guillotine futures about now.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | What puzzles me is how this is a winning Republican electoral strategy.

It's not. It is a Libertarian strategy.

It is nuts in it's current form, but if coupled later with spending cuts, it avoids bankruptcy and fits perfectly with what Libertarians prefer.

LarryHart said...

If the tax bill being passed includes handwritten scribblings in the margins, couldn't some Democratic Senator sabotage the bill by writing stuff in without anyone noticing before the vote--language impeaching the president and vice-president, for example, or sticking a "1" and an additional "0" in front of mentions of "0%"?

I'd like to think that something like that already happened before the Senate voted--that they actually will have voted to fund Planned Parenthood or to make the Flying Spaghetti Monster the official religion of the country.

I'm still waiting for an explanation of how "allowing oil drilling in the arctic" counts as budget reconciliation, or why no one in the Senate has even raised the question.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | If they do that... (referring to canceling elections)

They will have proven themselves to be illegitimate by then, so I'll be on your side. So will many 'Republicans' be too.

Tony Fisk said...

@LarryHart
"Fortunately, the same technicality which does not allow for a do-over for 2016 also prevents "them" from cancelling upcoming elections. There is absolutely no Constitutional provision or mechanism for doing so."

The 2018 elections will proceed as normal. They want the veneer of the people's approval. Just don't expect to be registered as a voter.*

I agree that "Option 3" fits the evidence. That said, it does intrigue me that several hundred members of a conspiracy can keep it quiet.** Media control?***

* Sarah Kendzior has been using Kazakhstan to accurately model Trump's presidential style for the past year, starting with the assertion that you will not believe how fast the fix goes in. She is sadly underquoted in this forum. Am I missing something?
** I recall that, at the moment the Abbott Government achieved a majority in the Senate, one of the victorious MPs was caught on camera giving the Loyal Opposition the finger. (It lasted just long enough to repeal that pesky carbon tax. Our emissions haven't looked back since.)
*** You-know-Ru!

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart | If they do that... (referring to canceling elections)

They will have proven themselves to be illegitimate by then, so I'll be on your side. So will many 'Republicans' be too.


I believe you as to yourself, but I've given up on there being a threshold over which Republicans in office will cease to support Trump. #ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

I agree that "Option 3" fits the evidence. That said, it does intrigue me that several hundred members of a conspiracy can keep it quiet. Media control?


The "Option 3" you cite from above was as follows:


that they believe they can flaunt their disloyalty to their constituents because they believe they’ll never have to face a fair election again


As stated, that doesn't require either a conspiracy or media control--well other than that already practiced by the FOX bubble. Gerrymandering and voter suppression is something that they don't have to hide from the dittoheads who already think it's a great idea. "Never face a fair election again" is not about cheating at the actual vote gathering, but the social engineering that has made voting for Democrats unthinkable in many jurisdictions, no matter how hurtful the Republican policies are.

Passing tax "cuts" which raise taxes or slashing Social Security and Medicare is something they'll just deny they're doing even as they do it. They'll claim the increased growth will take care of everything and the constituents who still back them now will have no reason to doubt their word over the "fake media."

I suspect there is a variation on the "blackfeller defense" mentioned in a previous post going on. "It's not your Social Security we're cutting. It's some blackfeller's Social Security."

Literally as I'm typing this, I'm watching Susan Collins on the tv news crowing about how she got an "ironclad assurance" that Medicare won't be cut. If this was a movie, I'd expect a flash-forward to her in a few months going, "Who would have thought they'd break their word?" #ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

Paul SB said...

Larry,

I think there will probably be some, mostly people who are old enough to remember when America was the good guy in a war and still get what the country is supposed to stand for. But most treat their political affiliation the same way they treat their religious affiliation - like a high school clique, where all that matters is what banned you wave, whose colors you wear, or which armband you don.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

I was going to say that with the demolition of the Detroit Silverdome, you missed a prediction in "Existence". But then the building survived the attempt, so maybe not. :)

Darrell E said...

How about something very cool to lift the mood around here?

SpaceX will be attempting their first launch of their Falcon Heavy sometime soon. And they will have a cargo on it. Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster. They will be launching it to do a fly-by of Mars. How cool is that?

Darrell E said...

Oh, and the stereo in the Tesla will be playing Space Oddity.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

The problem with polyamory is jealousy. Some people have no problem with it, but the bigger a love polygon gets, the more likely someone will become possessive of someone else and the whole house of cards comes down.


Many years ago, Dr Brin indirectly clarified a concept that I had already somewhat sensed but never had words for. A woman's acceptance gives a kind of validation to a man. I suspect that there is a kind of economics involved in the "transaction"--that the more desirable the woman (and therefore, the more choices of men she has available), the more valuable her acceptance is.

This would help explain why both prostitution and rape are of at best transitory solutions to the need for gratification,not much better than masturbation. While they all satisfy the immediate physical urgency, the fail miserably to provide the validation which is being sought at the same time. And in clinical, biological terms, while they allow one's seed to flourish, they do not provide for an optimum vessel for the seed's receipt. That might also explain the heretofore-inexplicable (to me, anyway) social conservatives have toward contraception. If a woman is proofing herself against your seed, it apparently doesn't feel like acceptance.

So with all that in mind, I can see where polyamory falls apart with concerns over who grants validation to whom, who might be just faking it with one partner while really loving another, and who might "do her duty" within the group but not even pretend she really accepts you personally.

Caveat emptor. I'm neither a trained anthropologist, nor do I play one on tv. This is pure amateur speculation.

raito said...

LarryHart,

My high-school science fiction teacher was also a woman. Decent enough at teaching literature, but hopeless on science fiction, whereas everyone taking the class had been reading it since they could read. We did play a bit of a trick on her. In those pre-internet days, one assignment was to produce a bibliography of an author. We all got together and made sure we chose authors we were sure she'd never heard of. Except the one guy who insisted on doing Asimov. But he did it right and delivered the phone-book sized assignment.

Had a bit of a disagreement with her on Dragonflight (the first assigned book, back when it had not yet been established that that series was science fiction). I found her interpretation to be very different than the author's, which I had personally heard the previous summer. Showing her the program and my badge got us past that, though.

We did have some science fiction assigned in earlier years. Freshman English assigned the anthology Eco-fiction, for example.

Paul SB,

No, not intermittent reinforcement, because it is scheduled. The musician knows when the concert starts, the politician knows when the press conference starts, the athlete knows when the game starts.

It's attempting to do something in the between-times that's the problem. Because those are drab compared to the hit you get from your chosen stimulus.

Tony Fisk,

I'm not curious. Someone was tasked with figuring out how to take over the government, and figured it out.

Larry Hart,

That's Daffy Duck, not Donald Duck. Not that my children know either.

LarryHart said...

raito:

That's Daffy Duck, not Donald Duck. Not that my children know either.

I'm confused. Weren't we talking about Daffy Duck all along?


My high-school science fiction teacher was also a woman. Decent enough at teaching literature, but hopeless on science fiction, whereas everyone taking the class had been reading it since they could read.

That's not at all what it was like with my female English teacher who did a science-fiction unit. She knew her stuff, and in fact introduced me to sci-fi novels, which I had never read before.

For reasons other than just sci-fi (and no, not illicit ones), she was one of the best high school teachers I had, and was responsible for me realizing that I was not just good in nerd subjects (what is today called STEM), but in my mother tongue as well.


We did have some science fiction assigned in earlier years. Freshman English assigned the anthology Eco-fiction, for example.


I think I read "The Nine Billion Names of God" the previous year, although at this late decade, I can't swear to it. I had read Ray Bradbury stories in school as early as eighth grade, but not his really science-y sci-fi ones. One I remember involved neighbors turning on each other trying to get into one family's fallout shelter. Another was "The Veldt", which had a sci-fi element, but was really more of a Night Gallery-ish horror story.

Now that I think about it, does "The Nine Billion Names of God" really count as science fiction either? Back in the 70s, I don't remember a clear distinction being made between sci-fi, fantasy, and certain types of horror stories. That one involved a computer, which gave it a kind of sci-fi veneer, but the punch line wasn't very science-y.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Larry: On polyamory, I'll have to keep thinking on that. I tend to rest my libertarian-yet-practical take on combinatorics. A poly triad has three times the number of relationships as a dyad; a tetrad has six times as many; a pentad, ten times as many: a polynomial expansion function.

Given the difficulty of maintaining a single relationship, we must conclude that -- at minimum -- polyamory is harder and more likely to lose members than a regular marriage dyad. This is borne out by actual polyamorous experience, as practitioners will readily admit once they trust you won't condemn them out of hand.

Failing a major improvement in our society's training of people to handle emotional relationships, I expect that regular marriage dyads would continue as the dominant pattern of marriage even in a fully libertarian regime.

Catfish N. Cod said...

On "option 3": As long as the population still considers elections a key to legitimacy, elections will continue. They do not, however, have to be free or fair elections. If the 2020 Census is mangled by partisanship; gerrymandering is allowed free reign; and Kobachites gain control of the machinery of elections in state governments... we could readily have an 'elected' yet illegitimate government.

But with the demographic trends against them, this could only be a temporary means of holding power. As with the Virginia elections last month, eventually births and deaths and levels of outrage will catch up. Note recent trends in partisanship among generations. Contrary to the usual expectation that age makes voters more conservative, Generation X (the 1965-1980 cohorts, currently 37-52) has been trending more liberal recently, erasing the gains made under Clinton and GWB. This is independent of the demographic shifts happening between generations. Movement towards the GOP has been predominantly recruited some Boomers, but alienated more Millennials. And both anecdotes and statistical studies consistently show that partisan biases formed before age 30 tend to last for the rest of one's life -- swapping is more likely to happen when you're young than when you're old. Finally, note that among GIs and Silents, fewer women voted (page 9), and female participation goes up... and women are the most ticked off in the current environment.

All of which is to elaborate that in a fair system, the current GOP is highly unlikely to retain power; and they keep burning all bridges to a more balanced platform behind them. And that's all before the economic calamity I expect to happen by 2020; no expansion has ever lasted more than ten years, and even massive shifts in fiscal policy can't change that -- unless they spent with abandon, but that won't happen. A more likely outcome is inflation plus recession plus possibly new financial collapses.

So the question is how far the regular GOP will be willing to bend democracy to retain power. In some places that will be quite far; look at North Carolina. But the more they do that, the worse the chance is for a deep backlash when matters overturn.

Up until now, red-state fears of "socialism" have been mirages conjured to enhance tribalism, when not definition shifts under the Overton Window theory. But if the cheating gets sufficiently blatant, there could well be a serious reaction... I don't think that would be a good thing for America, but as long as we are still in a democracy, I can live with socialism for a while (and vote it out later). Socialism can exist with and without democracy. Fascism, however, cannot tolerate free expression or free elections; if there was a fascist regime that ever failed to restrain the press, cheat at elections, and/or commit political repression, I am unaware of it.

Assuming we make it that far without political collapse, I am betting that the 2018 elections' backlash ferocity will overwhelm the Republican plans. The entire thing rests on having an overwhelmingly old and somewhat male-skewed electorate. If that reversed, it would be devastating.

A.F. Rey said...

No one will be spared, not even women, and so we consign Marion Zimmer Bradley & her literary legacy into the very depths of Hell:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/27/sff-community-marion-zimmer-bradley-daughter-accuses-abuse

Surprisingly, her books are still available for sale on Amazon. Buy them if you DARE !!


And when you do, don't forget to pick up a copy of Renunciates of Darkover. I've got a story in that one ("To Touch a Comyn") and I could use a bigger royalty check. (The price of Starbucks is getting so high, the checks barely cover it anymore!) :)

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Given the difficulty of maintaining a single relationship, we must conclude that -- at minimum -- polyamory is harder and more likely to lose members than a regular marriage dyad.


I suspect that is also borne out by the fact that biological reproduction is optimized at two partners. That is, sexual reproduction seems to be an improvement over asexual reproduction, and if there's a better method that involves more than 2 partners, it doesn't seem to have evolved yet (Uplift novels and the Gubru notwithstanding).

Darrell E said...

Going by the simple definition of polyamory I'd say that it is one of the major reproductive strategies that has evolved. For example lions and bighorn sheep, to name a couple. Of course that doesn't mean it would work well for humans. Though powerful rich men have made it work for themselves all through human history. Which seems like a good argument against it.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

So the question is how far the regular GOP will be willing to bend democracy to retain power. In some places that will be quite far; look at North Carolina.


And no one admonishes the Republican Party not to go to extremes like stripping the governor of all power because "The Democrats will do the same to you when they get the chance." Because once again, extremism in the service of Republican hegemony is (apparently) no vice. Because it seems Republicans are the legitimate rulers, and Democrats are allowed to exist as a kind of "Goldstein" to be blamed for all ills, but have to remember their place.

But the more they do that, the worse the chance is for a deep backlash when matters overturn.

Up until now, red-state fears of "socialism" have been mirages conjured to enhance tribalism, when not definition shifts under the Overton Window theory. But if the cheating gets sufficiently blatant, there could well be a serious reaction.


What I'm observing is that the window of what constitutes "sufficiently blatant" keeps moving with each new set of atrocities. The offenses that Republican-leaning voters were saying months ago that they'd draw the line at--those things are happening now, but the line they've drawn keeps moving forward. I think Trump would have to convert to Islam or be shown to have voted for Hillary Clinton before his supporters would desert him now, and even then it would be more of an "I don't know which is worse" than a clear repudiation.

For instance, I can see that many on this list would reach the point of rebellion if the Republicans actually tried to cancel elections, but if hundreds of thousands of likely-Democratic voters were systematically purged at the last minute? I think many would simply shrug and go, "Well, they didn't want it badly enough. We have to respect the results."

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/03/us/politics/mitch-mcconnell-tax-cuts-senate.html


Mr. McConnell said time would tell. “They [Democrats] are convinced it is good politics to be against it, and we believe it is good politics to do it,” he said. “We either get the growth rates or we don’t. In other words, one of these sides is going to be proven wrong.”


I like those odds!

LarryHart said...

I said:

but if hundreds of thousands of likely-Democratic voters were systematically purged at the last minute? I think many would simply shrug and go, "Well, they didn't want it badly enough. We have to respect the results."


For example, if (let's say) one candidate for senator was way ahead in all polling leading up to the election, at which point the Republican mysteriously wins. Just one of those things? Happens all the time? They must have all been lying to pollsters because it's so embarrassing to admit to being a Republican?

For reasons such as this, I have already hit my personal threshold and consider the results of the 2016 elections illegitimate. Not only should Hillary be our president, but there should be a Democratic majority in the Senate as well, and Merrick Garland should (therefore) be on the Supreme Court. As none of this is reversible in practice, the entire future history of our country springs from the poisonous tree of a rigged and fixed election process.

Donald Trump even warned us this is true!

What to do about it is another thing. As long as I'm just singing in the shower, the illegitimate winners hold the reins of power. But a the least--the very least--I'm not going to "love Big Brother".

Tony Fisk said...

At the time of the election Kendzior proposed a mental exercise to all Americans: list all those political acts you would find to be unacceptable, and see how many you have accepted in a year's time. This is normalisation.

LarryHart said...

@Tony Fisk,

What you suggest is similar to the study I mentioned the other day to PaulSB--the one that showed people will (97% of the time!) deliberately give a wrong answer to a question if others around them seem to be giving that same wrong answer.

In this case, the "wrong answer" is that what we're seeing must be within the bounds of acceptable, because after all everyone else is treating it as such.

TCB said...

Cari D. Burstein hath said:

"Presumably the Republicans are counting on their marketing, which has worked quite well thus far, to sell this tax bill as a win for their voters."

I remember reading once that the Republicans are such good salesmen (and -women but mostly -men) because when you have a really really shitty product you have to be really really good at selling it.

TCB said...

Catfish said:

"If the 2020 Census is mangled by partisanship; gerrymandering is allowed free reign; and Kobachites gain control of the machinery of elections in state governments... we could readily have an 'elected' yet illegitimate government."

Hell fire, lad. We had an 'elected' yet illegitimate government in January 2001.

It was just considered the height of discourtesy to say so.

TCB said...

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars on the flag were going out.

David Brin said...

TCB gets post of the day, for that cogent variation on Clarke...

now...

onward

onward

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