Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Human origins & other bio wonders

It's world Get Interested in Biology Day!  Wait. I just made that up. But it is on Contrary Brin.

 == Re-evaluating our origins ==

Truly amazing. Years ago, the human family tree was shaken by the discovery of a single pinkie bone in Denisova, Siberia, revealing the existence of a vast sub-species just as important and widespread as Neanderthals… the Denisovans. From that one bone, we now know that some modern humans have as much as 5% Denisovan lineage, while others are as much as 5% Neanderthal.  Now comes another stunning find – another small fragment from the same cave, of a female from 90,000 years ago, who apparently had a pure Denisovan mother and a Neanderthal father. Really. Seriously. What are the odds, in an event that was undoubtedly very rare? Oh, what times we live in.
  
Only now… a hint that there might have been a fourth sapient hominin sub-species! “Hints of an unidentified, extinct human species have been found in the DNA of modern Melanesians. According to new genetic modeling, the species is unlikely to be Neanderthal or Denisovan… but could represent a third, unknown human relative that has so far eluded archaeologists.” (Controversially, I might add.)

The newly released: Now You're Talking: Human Conversation from the Neanderthals to Artificial Intelligence, by Trevor Cox - delves into what most makes us human, charting the evolution of communication over the millennia, and projecting forward as we gain the ability to replicate and manipulate speech with AI.
Scientists have found that Europeans and Chinese people carry a similar amount of Neanderthal DNA: about (an average of) 2.8 percent. "Europeans have no hint of Denisovan ancestry, and people in China have a tiny amount - 0.1 percent…. But 2.74 percent of the DNA in people in Papua New Guinea comes from Neanderthals.” It’s the iffy amount of Denisovan… or someone else… in Melanesians that is the latest wonderful puzzle. 

The only pure "humans," in the sense of lacking the other sub-species, are today's Africans. (BTW I go into the ethical and other parameters of resurrecting Neanderthals, in Existence.

== Braiiiiins! ==

Apparently mild pulses of electricity -stimulation of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex - can relieve depression. Alas, it is preliminary and deep brain stimulation or DBS isn't approved for this purpose by the Food and Drug Administration.

The more equal women and men are, the less they want the same things, study finds. Hm, well, we should probably best be doing most of the stuff women want.

Well  it’s come. A team at the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen (I spoke there in May) has been recruiting couples in an effort to create the first gene-edited babies. They planned to eliminate a gene called CCR5 in order to render the offspring resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera. Next? Enhancements, designer babies, and a new form of eugenics.  This comes just as the world’s leading experts are jetting into Hong Kong for the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing. Alas, I doubt even a single speaker… or even attendee… will even mention the vast library of thought experiments in science fiction about this topic – including Heinlein’s brilliant proposal in Beyond This Horizon.

A minor hit, but still one for the Predictions Registry. The anti-onc creams used by Ra Boys in EARTH  to remove pre-cancerous sun-spot cells from their skin. Reports The New Scientist: "Creams remove skin sun spots with minimal pain and may prevent cancer."

Genetically modified pig organs could save the lives of nearly 20 Americans each day who die waiting for transplants.

Interesting new research indicates - that a supernovae (or more than one) may have killed off large ocean animals at the dawn of the Pleistocene

== Making peace with our neighbors! ==

We can start by moving incrementally toward stopping killing them. I know I am a born carnivore and my increments have been slow. Still, I rejoice at good news. Like the rise of meat-substitutesOne of many truly world-saving, game-changing technologies that might also reduce our karmic burden and finally convince aliens we're worth talking to. I tasted a Beyond Burger in Hong Kong and it was great, satisfying both my higher-responsible soul and my slathering-cro-magnon meat-loving id. Give it a try.

While we're at it... Chinese medical journals have detailed findings suggesting the rejuvenating effect of cockroach potion.  You saw that right. And a high tech facility in Xichang is raising 6 Billion at a time.

Eats! Creating a Sustainable Food Future is a major report sponsored by the UN, World Bank etc, offering a menu of solutions to more efficiently and sustainably feed a burgeoning global population that may reach 10 billion by 2050 - dealing with food inequality while reducing emissions from agriculture.

An interesting rumination on elephant intelligence and possibly syntactical communications suggests not only a range of scientific investigations that might shed light on these at-least very bright animals, but possibly offer ways to help them. At the end, the author suggests a kind of “uplift.” Not through genetic meddling but by offering herd matriarchs simple ways to record their wisdom, and thus begin an early version of our own revolution that began with oral storytelling and then accelerated through literacy.  By the way, in some recent stories (See INSISTENCE OF VISION) I portray uplifted “elepents” who are also the most likely candidates for Earth creatures adaptable to live in space.

On a similar notion, the Zoolingua project aims to develop methods to foster communications between humans and varied animal species… with a starting emphasis on dogs.  (I am peripherally involved.)

Scientists created spiral-shaped robots small enough to pass through the dense jelly known as the vitreous humor that makes up most of the eyeball. The researchers added a slippery coating and magnetic materials so they could propel the microbots through the eye using a magnetic field.  Imaging showed the swarm successfully reached the retina in less than 30 minutes, about 10 times faster than letting similar-size particles diffuse through the eye.

==And other marvels ==

bionic lens that could lead to better than 20-20 vision - over a range of distances.

Heavy-duty lifeguard drones are now helping to rescue swimmers and others in danger at beaches and at sea.  

127 comments:

Ilithi Dragon said...

<.<

>.>

First!

Ilithi Dragon said...

In a more serious response, 10/10, would get the bionic lens. Contacts are annoying, and so are glasses, and my natural lenses are very borderline for lasic viability.

Mel Baker said...

It's interesting you mention the cream for pre cancerous skin damage. My doctor gave me a prescription and it does seem to have prevented the return of the cells.

On the gene edited baby story. I've also read that the same gene sequence for HIV is also associated with intelligence, so the HIV claim may have been a cover for the parent's real intention, creating smarter off spring.

David Martin said...

We are indeed born carnivores, and I suspect that we shall remain so as long as homo sapiens exists in its present form, meat substitutes or no meat substitutes. I also suspect that the Earth will survive this just fine, and that agriculture will adapt. A relative of mine who has a small dairy farm in upstate NY claims to have reduced cow belch methane emissions by over 50% this past decade by changes in their diets. I'm not enough of an expert to verify this, but he seems to know what he's talking about. As for aliens spooked by our omnivorous habits...jeez. Who cares what they think? This brings to mind those "aliens" who look like Greek philosophers and talk like beings from a channeling book. Like Marvel's Watchers, or some of the more pompous Star Trek aliens, or even Asimov's Gaia. Let them take us for what we are, Heinlein's wild animals.
And speaking of Heinlein, I'm delighted to see a reference to *Beyond This Horizon*. That's on my short list of favorite RAH books, and is the only Utopia I've ever read about I'd actually want to live in. It has, maybe more than any of his books, that extraordinary quality of dynamism his future societies have. He kept this quality right to the end--in *To Sail Beyond the Sunset*, his description of Future History Kansas, with 20,000,000 people and the rolling roads, is a perfect miniature of a dynamic future society... Thank you for everything, especially in these days, and keep up the good work...

TheMadLibrarian said...

Re: elephant intelligence and memory -- has anyone here read The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander? It's an unlikely confluence of radioactivity and the misuse of intelligent beings, but I was struck by the way the author portrayed how elephants might pass along their histories via storytelling.

David Brin said...

Ilithi, I hope that period is not representative of a navel. (What else from a naval fellow?) Because if so, shame on you, naughty boy.

Anonymous said...

Two Russian Tu-160 nuclear bombers are in Venezuela. At that distance, the bombers do not require recharging in flight or making stops. Under another administration this would initiate another missile crisis like that of Cuba, but with Donald Trumpovich in power, the Russian bombers will be accumulating in Venezuela, with a full load of nuclear bombs. And the Russians know that the window of opportunity is shrinking ... Will they dare? So great is Vladimir's confidence that he sees himself as the new emperor of the world?

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Ilithi Dragon:
With this new nuclear crisis, I imagine that your submarine will have to approach the Russian coasts, in case it is necessary to return a Russian attack. However, I think that if the Russians plan to attack US territory, they will not do so until they have invaded Ukraine.
Some assume that Russia will not dare to use atomic weapons and that it will only use conventional weapons, to avoid the devastation of Russian cities.
If the Russians attack. I suggest you throw these mobsters all the nuclear power on top of the Russian fleet (not on the cities, unless the Russians attack the cities with nuclear weapons) (if Donald Trumpovich tries to tie them up, just ignore him) For example:
Mr president; I do not listen well to what he says; there's a lot of static on the radio! ¿What did he say, Mr. President?¿ What? Do you want us to shoot the Russians? Do not say your voice, but if you order it ... Ho ... Anyway. It seems that the radio broke down again. ¡Boys, take out your launch keys!

Winter7

David Brin said...

Calm down Winter. I doubt there's any reason for such alarm.

locumranch said...


To argue that Homo Sapiens represent the End of History while simultaneously acknowledging the great Neanderthal & Denisovan replacement is to engage in narcissism & hubris.

But, then again, this is just another facet of a WEIRD parochialism that acknowledges cataclysmic change but assumes cultural, moral & biological continuity:

(1) Humans will willfully subspeciate via gene-editing;

(2) The strong will (once again) exploit the weak following the collapse of the Christian Ethos;

(3) The Vegan Dream of pacifism & egalitarian collectivism will slowly recede; and

(4) A competitive future featuring meritocratic brutality & cannibalism becomes ever more likely.


Best
____

Except it won't be 'cannibalism', per se, because it won't be homo saps consuming other homo saps, but rather our gene-edited posthuman replacements consuming homo saps in pursuit of a 'Sustainable Food Future', much in the way that homo saps now consume monkeys & pigs.

And, btw, deep brain stimulation in the treatment of depression is just another name for ECT or electroshock therapy.

yana said...


lowsemenfarmer thought:

"Humans will willfully subspeciate via gene-editing"

Which humans and almost-humans have been doing for thousands and thousands of years. "Well, we killed all the rockmen in Gibraltar, now what do we do with their women? That one over there has a bit less slope to her brow and her eyebrows are smaller than the others..."

"The strong will (once again) exploit the weak following the collapse of the Christian Ethos"

Small view. No accident that monotheism supplanted polytheism just past the 1st Communication Revolution. The Reformation with attendant Enlightenments and Revolts are obvious whelps of the 2nd Communications Revolution. Trendline clear, christianity is only declining because another Step Ahead is inevitable, because we have created a 3rd Communication Revolution.

Have the other two reverted some people to animism, to the point of atavism? Yes, but the result is already well-examined by historians who had centuries to become stuffy. In each case, the newly emergent religion places more value on the individual soul than any multi-level linguistic identity.

Anyone today, calling for more of "strong will exploit the weak" is a student of history who slept through a few key lectures.

"The Vegan Dream of pacifism & egalitarian collectivism will slowly recede"

You have no idea. Watch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrrSAc-vjG4

Explodes the myth of morality underpinning many vegan philosophies, just because it doesn't have a 'face'does not mean there is no pain when we bite it. Plants do everything mammals do: nurture their young, give preference to family over others of the same species, and communicate with each other constantly.

Just because they're rooted and can't run away, is no moral excuse for biting plants instead of animals... in some systems of morality, it's even more reprehensible to bite the most defenseless targets.

"A competitive future featuring meritocratic brutality & cannibalism becomes ever more likely."

Soon after you resort to cannibalism, us normal people will find you and prosecute you, because you're an idiot. Because only an idiot predicts cannibalism.

Mike Will said...

Living as I do in the shadow of the University of Toronto, I was tempted to discuss Jordan Peterson's recent ideas on the "more equal men and women are" subject. However that debate gets tribal and ugly fast, and I'm not well informed on it. The nano robots for delivery of eye medicine is of great personal interest, but too squeam-inducing to get into. So, I'll instead fall back into my more familiar realm of AI.

I've noticed that some appreciate the views of Dr. Ben Goertzel, who is now predicting what he and many call the 'Singularity' to happen as soon as 5 years from now.
https://cheddar.com/videos/sophia-bot-creator-well-achieve-singularity-in-five-to-10-years

However, he talks of the singularity as looking like anthro-machine duality or at least symbiosis. I don't see this as anything more than a sweet and gentle Asimovian-style integration of robots into everyday human affairs. Rather, I think that anthropology may soon become a branch of paleontology. Once again, I must submit that AGI will not be important, or scary, or seismic -- but asymptotic. No Frankenstein's monster, no Forbin Project, no HAL, and no us. Please don't hit me with the usual Fear-of-AI-Syndrome dreck; this is light years beyond that. This is not my own personal Paul Revere ride. I'm not calling anyone to action. Global warming, poverty, and civics are far more fruitful focal points.

I did like what Goertzel was saying about AI and business contracts. Smart contracts (the heart of the Ethereum blockchain) are here now, and it's quite logical to see them becoming fully automated via near-term AI. That would take us (humans) out of markets, rendering most of economic theory moot in an afternoon. It would be a tiny taste of AGI oblivion.


Anonymous said...

Doctor Brin:
Of course. Actually, I was just kidding a bit. After all, there is no reason to worry, (if we ignore the fact that fighter aircraft that could intercept Russian bombers are under Confederate control)

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Mike Will:
I think there will be all kinds of situations with AI. The evident thing is that the AI are going to be developed without brake, because they are very useful; fun and someday will be the best sexual partners for all the followers of Donald Trumpovich.

Winter7

Jon S. said...

We are not "born carnivores". We are born omnivores. There's a pretty clear distinction there: carnivores eat meat, and pretty much only meat (you're not going to find many lions out there digging up tasty roots). We, on the other hand, can get on quite well with meat substitutes - provided that we can get the nutrients another way, we're more about the flavor and texture than anything else.

The problem with meat-substitutes previously has generally been that the textures and flavor profiles were off - more reminiscent of Spam than beef or pork. Over the past few years, soy-based artificial meats have improved, although mostly (if not entirely) in the area of fake ground beef (Morningstar makes a delicious vegetable-based burger, for instance). I'm also hoping that we can develop vat-grown meats that can have the same texture as, for instance, chicken breast or a pork chop; realistically, the meat we buy in stores today is already pretty far removed from its ancient antecedents, or even the animal flesh one might have raised in one's backyard half a century ago, so removing the animal entirely from the equation isn't that much further.

As for AI, it has to be programmed. And its programmers will be human. I think we're more likely to wind up with DiMA or EDI than Cybermen or AM. (HAL is a bit of a red herring - it was fine, up until bureaucrats gave it two conflicting orders and made both of them top priority. The only way it could complete its tasks of getting everyone safely to Jupiter and not ever revealing its mission to anyone was by getting them there and then killing them. That's not a problem with Artificial Intelligence - it's a problem with Natural Stupidity.)

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

As for AI, it has to be programmed. And its programmers will be human.


Yes, but I think the concern--and this could be a good thing or a bad thing--is that, over time, the AI will take over its own programming, in much the same way that parents influence their children's upbringing, but cannot entirely determine what decisions the offspring makes as he matures and ultimately makes his own way.

What I see as an open question is whether the ultimate direction an AI proceeds in is an extrapolation from its initial programming (upbringing) or whether AI will ultimately converge on some sort of recognition of objective reality that is more or less independent of its initial programming. If the latter, the results might become quite predictable.

Darrell E said...

Yeah, the direction AI has been heading for a good while now is largely self-programming because programming the old fashioned way, humans doing it line by line, is too cumbersome and too limited. By limited I mean we, humans, don't know how to write a program that can instantiate or model the cognitive processes necessary to match what insects are capable of let alone something beyond human intelligence.

Beyond human capabilities in some things is trivial, hence why computers are ubiquitous. But even with the computational speed advantage of current computers we have nothing even remotely close to AI that can model higher human cognitive abilities. And we don't know how to program such abilities, not just because it is really complicated programming, but because we don't yet know how those abilities are generated in evolved biological nervous systems in the first place. What AI researchers do these days is try to mimic the "hardware" as close as they are able given current technology, add software that enables self-learning and then expose it to reality to one degree or another and hope some new capabilities evolve. And this may indeed be the most effective way forward in AI research. Especially if you add in actual evolutionary algorithms to solve key problems.

It seems very unlikely to me that AIs will have been programmed by humans.

Mike Will said...


While we cannot directly 'write' an AGI, we might learn a bit from how nature came up with Sapiens Sapiens. Studying Denisovan, Neanderthal, Melanesians, etc. could provide important clues. Interdisciplinarity works.

Larry Hart said...

We're sorely in need of some kind of intelligence, artificial or not:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/12/us/politics/trump-shutdown.html

“I will take the mantle,” Mr. Trump told the two Democratic leaders in the Oval Office, saying he would proudly close parts of the executive branch if he did not get his way. “I’m not going to blame you for it,” he continued. “The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work..."


In other words, "It failed for you. Now, it's my turn (to fail)."

Reminds me of M*A*S*H's Colonel Flagg saying to Sidney Freedman:

"You think you're smart, but you're not smart. You're dumb. Really dumb.
But you've met your match in me!"

Anonymous said...

Canadian story:

US: "Hey Canada, nab that Huawei exec for us"
China: "Hey Canada, you'll pay for this"
US: "Hey China, we'll spring the exec from those bad Canucks for you if you help us on trade"

Just wow. I thought we were buds.

Larry Hart said...

Anonymous Canadian:

Just wow. I thought we were buds.


We are.

That's not "US:" speaking above; just one particular USian. And we don't like him either.

matthew said...

In case no one noticed, Trump called for armed revolt by his followers if he is held responsible for his crimes.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/11/trump-impeachment-white-house-1058779

Larry Hart said...

@matthew,

His supporters are already revolting. In both senses of the word.

A.F. Rey said...

Oh, yeah. I read that book.

https://www.google.com/search?q=wizard+of+id+the+peasants+are+revolting&rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS807US807&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=VOaUljBBFhvnKM%253A%252Cozz2WLsaZW-KEM%252C_&usg=AI4_-kQMXDfo2t6_d-GK6cEtpm9ZLS968Q&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj85fXc8prfAhUnT98KHRnBAjQQ9QEwAnoECAUQCA&safe=active&ssui=on#imgdii=IEqPxMaRfBwUAM:&imgrc=VOaUljBBFhvnKM:

Larry Hart said...

Interesting. Emphasis is my own:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/11/paul-ryan-snap-food-stamps-welfare-congress-1023334

...

In June, Democrats unanimously opposed the House [farm] bill over its changes to SNAP, helping to defeat the bill amid a Freedom Caucus revolt over an unrelated immigration dispute. On second try, the bill passed by just two votes with the help of several conservatives.

This time around, Ryan doesn’t need the Freedom Caucus to get in line because Democrats are expected to support the bill in droves. The conference report could end up passing with more Democrats than Republicans supporting it —an unusual violation of the so-called Hastert Rule, an unwritten GOP leadership principle that speakers only bring up bills that have majority Republican support.

“The Republicans have accomplished what I’ve not been able to do, and that is to make me a hero among the Democrats, because I stared [Republicans] down on SNAP,” House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) told reporters last week. "I go into the caucus and I get a standing ovation."
...

more weight said...

@locumranch

If you start eating people, for God's sake remember to skip the brain.
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001379.htm

more weight said...

Lots of good news on the coral front: https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/fast-growing-coral-discovery-could-revitalize-oceans
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/10/great-barrier-reef-surviving-corals-greater-heatwave-resistance The reconstruction has begun.

more weight said...

So the Traditionalists' fears that equality would defeminize women turn out to be unfounded! What an enormous sense of relief they must be feeling right now.

David Brin said...

“We are not "born carnivores". We are born omnivores.” YesJon. We’re not the only ones. Some omnivores, like bears, are plain scary. Scarier than stalking carns like tigers or pack carns like wolves. Interestingly, dogs can now metabolize… and are fed mostly … grains. A wolf can’t bear it.

We are designing AI for self-design. The question is twofold. Will the transition to smooth sapience be one in which we’re well served? And when it is reached, will they be sapient enough to understand the logic and effectiveness of Enlightenment methods, and wisely limit-disperse their power?

When I lecture about such things, I am doing it in part with that audience in mind, whether they already exist as lurkers (unlikely, but explored in EXISTENCE) or they arrive in the future and find my caveman finger-waggings in archives. I assert (and no one has yet refuted) that the logic is inescapable, even if I am a primitive cro-magnon.

ALL minds who have claimed: “my predecessors were delusional, but I am not and see things clearly “— later proved to be delusional. The only known method for penetrating delusions is the enlightenment one: reciprocal criticism by entities who do not share the SAME delusions.


“Just wow. I thought we were buds.”

We are! Ever heard of bad-cop, good-cop? So, Canadians ALWAYS have to play good cop?


re SNAP I am weirdly conservative. I see no harm in demanding that food stamp recipients get a certificate from some local agency, or even church, that they spent two days a month picking up trash.

No matter how poor or how many kids, you should be able and eager to do that much.


OTOH, there’s crazy…
“To argue that Homo Sapiens represent the End of History while simultaneously acknowledging the great Neanderthal & Denisovan replacement is to engage in narcissism & hubris.”

Yes, it would be… if anyone said it other than the strange person you see in the mirror. Alas, I sampled the first sentence. That’s all I need/will do.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

re SNAP I am weirdly conservative. I see no harm in demanding that food stamp recipients get a certificate from some local agency, or even church, that they spent two days a month picking up trash.


I'd have no problem with that either.

What I do have a problem with is demanding that a SNAP recipient make it through an interview process and acquire a boss who can fire him for any or no reason. When the entire point of SNAP is to prevent the inability to do those things from being fatal.

Larry Hart said...

more weight:

@locumranch

If you start eating people, ...


Now, you're just trying to make me read his posts, aren't you? :)

As a long-term survival strategy, cannibalism can't work for the same reason we can't all become rich by winning the lottery.

Twominds said...

Seen this?

Russia's most modern robot - a man in a suit

Reminds me of a scene early in Existence

sociotard said...

Looks like Australia is going ahead with the law to require Backdoors on smartphones.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/7/18130806/australia-access-and-assistance-encryption-bill-2018-facebook-google-apple-respond

A.F. Rey said...

I see no harm in demanding that food stamp recipients get a certificate from some local agency, or even church, that they spent two days a month picking up trash.

No matter how poor or how many kids, you should be able and eager to do that much.


Hey, give them free child care, and I'd bet most single moms would be eager to do that much every day. :)

locumranch said...


A plant-based extraterrestrial would doubtlessly be horrified by David's assumption that human vegetarians were somehow more 'moral' than human carnivores.

The same moral distinction holds true for cannibalism because, scientifically speaking, there is nothing intrinsically unhealthy about the human consumption of human flesh when compared to the human consumption of any other type of flesh.

Big whoop, you could pick up a nasty case of Kuru (aka 'Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease') from improperly prepared human brains, but improperly handled beef brains holds a near identical CJD risk (aka 'Mad Cow Disease'), and improperly prepared chicken or pork will make you sicker far quicker.

Plus, human cattle are an environmentally sustainable crop.

Human diversity has never been so delectable and, boy howdy, who else wouldn't kill for a little Chinese or Mexican right about now??

A MODEST PROPOSAL
For preventing the children of poor people in Ireland,
from being a burden on their parents or country,
and for making them beneficial to the publick.
by Dr. Jonathan Swift

is available for your edification at

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1080/1080-h/1080-h.htm


Best

Tony Fisk said...

I think Locum would have found his post-apocalyptic meal ticket with the New Brotherhood Army in "Lucifer's Hammer".

David Brin said...

"A plant-based extraterrestrial would doubtlessly be horrified..."
He's being both efficient and kind. I don't even have to complete reading the 1st sentence... Lordy go back on vitamins.

Alfred Differ said...

nothing intrinsically unhealthy about the human consumption of human flesh when compared to the human consumption of any other type of flesh

What a load of crap.

Try eating my family and you'll find out how intrinsically unhealthy that is compared to beef, pork, or chicken.
There aren't many animals left on the planet that are so stupid as to try until the human is LONG dead.

I was out in the desert with a number of friends many years ago. We were retrieving hardware after a flight. Two of us couldn't get back to the cars before nightfall that they had to leave behind to avoid being stuck in the mud. They misjudged the amount of daylight they had and needed and had to walk back in the dark as it got real cold. They didn't have enough cold weather gear either. At some point they could hear wolves following them. After the mud froze over around 1AM, my crew managed to get to them, pick them up, and get them warmed up again.

The wolves NEVER tried for them even though it was obvious the two humans were in distress. They simply followed behind in case they got lucky.

Only humans think humans are easy prey. We aren't... and we have families.

more weight said...

@Mike Will

That would be the Jordan Peterson who insists that widespread pictures of mating snakes in ancient art proves the ancients knew the structure of DNA??

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/998598765144625154.html

He's not *trying* to understand the world.

more weight said...

I mean, how hard is it, if one is puzzled by pictures of entwined snakes, to READ A BOOK ABOUT SNAKES to clear up one's confusion? What has gone wrong with a civilization that calls this an intellectual??

The only way I can explain it *is* that his misogyny is attractive to some people.

Mike Will said...

"[Jordan Peterson's] not *trying* to understand the world."

He's under siege at the U of T, and I certainly am not a shill for either. That's funny about snakes & DNA. An English branch of my ancestry has the surname 'Crick', so I take personal umbrage. Anyway, I've always said that DNA discovery was a damn waste of a good physicist :) I think Peterson's a big fan of Carl Jung, so dreams may be a big deal to him, I don't know.

I agreed with the bit about BS'ing the audience in that piece. In the end, -general- scientific literacy is the only way forward. He mostly uses words like 'intimates', suspicion', 'belief', etc however, not 'proof'. He seems to be speaking as an amateur anthropologist, not as a professional molecular biologist.

Even a practicing clinical psychologist and professor at a big university needs to be peer reviewed and challenged. I'm biased towards the hard sciences enough to submit that that review should be even wider for psychologists and sociologists.

There is an irritating 'fanboy' following for some scientists. I bristle when I hear scientist names as a replacement for evidence and facts. Science is not defined as the set of all scientists past & present. I nearly chunder when I hear people suggesting academics on trading cards.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"nothing intrinsically unhealthy about the human consumption of human flesh when compared to the human consumption of any other type of flesh"

What a load of crap.


I feel like that guy in Airplane. "Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop reading locumranch's posts." Are we seriously having a debate on the pros and cons of Soylent Green?

The statement is true to the extent that human flesh isn't poisonous--consuming it won't kill you. But there's a reason carnivores don't generally eat other carnivores unless they're starving with no other choice. It's inefficient. It puts one more degree of separation between the eater and the solar energy which powers the whole thing to begin with.

In a survival situation with no other option, consumption of human flesh might be a viable short-term solution. But for a species, that's equivalent to the way your body will consume its own fat and then its own muscle before it succumbs to starvation. It can't go on indefinitely. And no species as a whole can survive on a scheme of eating its own members for the same that there's no such thing as a perpetual motion machine. The first and second laws of thermodynamics prevent it.


Try eating my family and you'll find out how intrinsically unhealthy that is compared to beef, pork, or chicken.


And yeah, there's also the socio-political aspect of "If eating each other is on the table (so to speak), then we're not a society, but rather in a state of perpetual war with each other." But I assumed loki already thinks that anyway.

Jon S. said...

There's also the matter of the sheer unsafe nature of eating the flesh of one's own kind. Too many potential threats, from parasites to prions (kuru is a thing, you know). So not only are humans incredibly dangerous prey, their flesh must be cooked very well-done - and if you're in the sort of survival situation where cannibalism might start to seem reasonable, you're unlikely to be in a position to cook the meat thoroughly enough.

And I'd never heard of this Peterson fellow until he started anthropomorphizing the behavior of lobsters (oh, and getting said behavior wrong, as if he'd learned about them mostly from Disney films), but reading his "thoughts" on the matter convinced me that further pursuit of his teachings would be a complete waste of my time. And at my age, I haven't got that much time to waste on people like him.

Darrell E said...

Jon S.,

You got Peterson in one.

Tim Wolter said...

Jon S.

I am not sure you can cook your dinner to the point of prion inactivation. Kuru and mad cow disease being pretty similar I'm sure more than a few of the unfortunate victims in the UK ordered their burger and chips well done. Lets not forget a few other nasties that have jumped from related species. HIV from snacking on our simian first cousins for instance.

Most all dietary laws were initially cloaked as religious edicts but made sense back in the day. Pork leading at times to trichinosis and shellfish consumption in any hot weather middle eastern clime being a chancy proposition. But a few such as the universal abhorrence to cannibalism go way, way back, well before our low brow progenitors got around to any organized concept of kosher or halal.

T. Wolter

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

(from last time)

Logically derive truth? No. More like logically derive consistency. Like the triply-cursed ISO 9000 series, which is definitely NOT a quality system. It's a consistency system, which is useful to implement quality, but not sufficient by a long shot. Fortunately, my days of having to make those arguments is long past.

A.F. Rey:

The King in The Wizard of Id is supposed to be David Friedman, son of Milton.

RE: AI

I may have a new favorite AI from media. Domino from Michelmas by Algys Budrys. Figures out someone's tampered with the electronics of an elevator by noting that the airflow around it had changed from its nominal value. Not a bad vision from 1977. And very close to as good, the AI was controlled by a reporter.

As for programming, the compilers are already at the stage where it gets hard sometimes to figure out just why they did what they did. And it gets harder when the constraint of preserving semantics is removed (unfortunately, I had to miss a lecture on that this week).

RE: Meat

http://archive.ttbook.org/book/3-minute-futures-our-favorites

The second story, 'Food Production'. Unfortunately, the text is gone, but the audio is there.

The first, 'Social Scene Alert', is a good satire about AI on social media.

Apropos of little, I wonder if anyone's thinking of using nanobots in dentistry? I seem to recall that Columbia(?) was actually trying to put together the patent for stem-cell teeth. If successful, that'll put modern dentistry on its ear.

Mike Will said...

Dr. Brin,

You might consider adding some cryptocurrency addresses and/or scancodes to your Donate page. I'd be glad to throw you a bit of Gridcoin (Bitcoin and Ethereum are above my pay grade:)

Anonymous said...

David Brin said...
\\Calm down Winter. I doubt there's any reason for such alarm.

Are you sure that Russians who are dreaming about eruption of Yellowstone super-vulcan,
or fapping on envisioned by Saharov super-torpido to wash out "this nasty pindoses"...

are sane enough to not make it reality someday?

Its the same as with muslim terrorists. Especially After 9/11!

But this time it REALLY could be TOO LATE.

Did you hear recent words from Putin about Atomic Holocoust?
"We'll be going to Heaven. They'll just die."

When someone keep saying they would kill you... its better believe them first hand. (tm)

Mark Gast said...

@Winter

Putin is clever and not stupid. He is doing this for the folks at home. Look we can fly our bombers in to Americas back yard! That is about all he can do now. The demographics for the Russian people are bad, really bad. Russia can cause pain in their neighborhood but unless they throw nukes or shut down their oil/gas pipelines they are not a global threat. If they throw nukes, well, we are all done then.

Anonymous said...

\\That is about all he can do now.

To launch Proton (still used to re-sypply ISS) with Tzar-Bomba to be "unintentionally" change its course to Washington...

of course, its impossible... same way as to ram with Boing into skyscraper... oh,shit! %)

locumranch said...


Yes, of course.

The universal abhorrence to cannibalism goes way, way back, making sense back in the day when eating contaminated pork & shellfish was a chancy proposition.

This unconscious recognition of foodborne illness, we once justified with superstitions about spooks, animal spirits & the inedible nature of human souls, even though we now recognise those justifications as nonsense.

Again, I say that there is NO scientific basis for cultural & religious injunctions against human-on-human cannibalism (aka 'long pork'), in much the same way that there is NO scientific justification that favours strict veganism.

Said Dostoevsky, "An intelligent man can do anything he likes as long as he's clever enough to get away with it", and so everything that an enlightened & intelligent culture can get away is permitted, and this includes assisted suicide, aborting viable human fetuses, xenotransplantion, modifying pig organs & cow blood for human usage and, yes, even cannibalism.

Assuming that the consumption of human flesh is part of a complete breakfast, rather than the whole of a prospective diet, Larry_H's quips about perpetual motion & cannibalism are nonsensical.

Alfred, too, can rest easy as long as the presence of his various medical problems make the consumption of his flesh unwise yet, with proper healthcare, his great grand children should prove delectable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S6Uacb0mR0


Best

Anonymous said...

\\Again, I say that there is NO scientific basis for cultural & religious injunctions against human-on-human cannibalism (aka 'long pork')

Game theory will do as science for you?

It says that World in which you can accidentally become feast for your neighbor is much more transactionally expensive (you'd need more precautions everyday)
then our boring one.
Where we can laugh at Dr. Lecter's mischiefs. %)

David Brin said...

Alfred re wolves… well-said.

When we get tissue-culture meat, there will be fetishists claiming human cells from a willing donor aren’t “cannibalism.” And what if the culture slab is your OWN cells? I admit to swallowing a chewed off cuticle, now and then. Does that qualify?

I’d call notions of a Russian attack on Yellowstone fabulation… except millions of russian males imbibe their own versions of the “Turner Chronicles” featuring glorious gore festivals of American blood, including all males dead and all females slaves.

Anon: do you have a citation for that Putin statement?

locum, we’re discussing stuff triggered by the 1st half of one sentence. Don’t assume we are reading anything you write past that. I’m not.

Ilithi Dragon said...


@Dr. Brin:

Sketchy eye glances! Jeez... I'm the one whose mind is supposed to be in the gutter...
} ; = 8 P


@Winter:

We don't discuss submarine operations. <------ Official line.

Seriously, I technically can't even talk about doing routine, mundane maintenance on systems that aren't even classified noforn, because it has to do with the material condition of the boat. Speculating about possible mission profiles is far beyond what I can talk about, or even participate in.

Besides, I'm on a fast attack boat, not a boomer. It's the Ohios that are designed to hold SLBMs (of which I can neither confirm nor deny any such missile aboard any such submarine actually has any such nuclear warheads). Most fast attack boats have conventional strike capabilities via UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, and some have more capabilities there than others (the last couple first-flight Los Angeles class subs still in service, for example, don't have the 12 vertical launch tubes that later LAs and Virginias have, and only have four horizontal tubes), but it's the boomers that are the nuclear deterrents. It's their job to go disappear in the ocean for months at a time, where nobody can find them, providing security against attack by holding enough firepower to knock out a nation hidden away where you can't take it out before it launches.




As for the whole Locum and cannibalism discussion, I'm pretty sure he's playing at satire, as a means of trolololololol. I mean, he did blatantly reference and quote one of the greatest works of satire in literary history, and successfully derailed half the entire thread onto such an absurd and bogus discussion point. I'm not sure if that is his objective 100% of the time, but I'm fairly certain that a large portion of Locum's orneriness is just him poking for lulz.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Also, the whole plot of Locum's proposed future is ripped straight from a certain H.G. Wells novel, minus the critical time travel bits.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Also, if anyone is looking for humans-are-awesome stories, check out this subreddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/HFY/

Not all of the stories are of humans being the good guys, but the general gist of most stories explores the trope that Earth is a deathworld, or that humans are an unusual predator / omnivore species, etc. Many of the stories are one-offs or short multi-parters, but there are many long-running series, as well (check out the "must read" section for a good list of those).

https://deathworlders.com/ got it's start on the HFY sub, and several official and unofficial spin-offs of that universe still update there.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry | "Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop reading locumranch's posts."

Nothing to see here. Move along. You'll be happier if you do. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

winter7,

It makes no sense for Russia to attack us directly with hard power. They do not have the resources necessary to execute a real war against us.

What they want is to convince us to think like isolationists (not unusual for us) and to divide us from our allies. Doing so would relieve them of some pressure they face in their geopolitical goals.

Russia (Muscovy) geopolitical objectives [cribbed from Stratfor]

1. Expand north and east to secure a redoubt in climatically hostile territory protected partially by the Urals. (worst case scenario fall back position | Been used twice in three times in three centuries)

2. Expand south to the Caucasus and southeast into the steppes for defense in depth strategy against Central Asia powers. (Mongols smashed Muscovy from this direction)

3. Expand west as far as possible to anchor border to Carpathians in the southwest and the Atlantic along Europe's northern plains. (Peak expansion occurred post WWII)

4. Manage the empire with terror. Most of the empire is not populated by Russians and it's expensive to maintain any other way. (Every Russian empire has followed this rule.)

5. Expand to warm water ports where possible to counter economic problems faced by a land empire. (Really, really hard to do, but this is why Crimea is so damn important to them.)

They have succeeded with some of these over time. Their success with later ones comes and goes with the generations. No where on this list does it mention combat with sea powers which is what the US is. Except for warm water ports, their objectives are about defense in depth AGAINST nearby land powers and any sea power.

It is important to remember their history. They were smashed by the Mongols and utterly looted by the Poles. To us those events will seem like ancient history, but they aren't. There is a reason they were willing to collude with Germany to snuff out Poland last century.

Alfred Differ said...

winter7,

For comparison, I list the five geopolitical objectives for the US. (Also cribbed from Stratfor). You'll note some of them involve your country. 8)


Start with the assumption that the US is really an Atlantic Coastline nation. That's what we were early on. The objectives below are in order of importance for such a coastal nation.

1. Dominate the Greater Mississippi Basin. This is a fallback region if successfully attacked from the sea. It is also the greatest wealth producing region on Earth. We used it for a fallback during the Revolution and our War of 1812. Wealth production drove the need to build roads and canals and we spent astronomical sums linking the interior to the coast after 1812.

2. Eliminate all land-based threats to the Greater Mississippi Basin. This actually meant all colonial powers at first and then it meant Canada and Mexico. Canada backed down. We tore pieces of Mexico away in order to ensure the defense of New Orleans.

With these two objectives secure, the remaining ones are about waiting patiently why wealth accumulated. The remaining ones are VERY expensive, but only a land empire owning Europe and most of Asia could really stop it. A sea power like Great Britain was eventually going to be outspent.

3. Control the Ocean Approaches to North America. Only at this point can we afford to build the expensive Navy needed to keep the British at bay. Economic alliance with them before this was crucial. Afterwards, it becomes a useful convenience. The west coast is less important, but the Russians simplified that for us when they sold Alaska to us. It was the earlier Russian claim of the coast down toward Vancouver island that spurred the Monroe Doctrine, the later colonization of Oregon, and some of our early interest in Alta California. The real difficulties, though, involved the islands in the Gulf and Caribbean.

This one finally got solved after WWII because of the Lend/Lease program.

4. Control the World's Oceans. Frightfully expensive, but this is what we did post-WWII. Add up all the other national navies combined. Our navy is more numerous and better equipped. This is what makes the US a sea power. With this objective met, we can 'touch' anyone with an ocean-facing coastline.

5. Prevent any potential challengers from rising. This was the point of our involvement in WWI, WWII, and the Cold War. This is why our foreign policy tends to favor dividing/ balancing other nations against/for each other. When we meddle in internal affairs, this is what we are doing.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Alfred,

On Point #4 in your last set, there, with modern technology, we can touch anyone a nation or two over from any nation with an ocean-facing coastline.

Alfred Differ said...

Finally, if you want to glimpse into why the US military is interested in spaceflight, re-read objective #4 carefully. Realize that space is a kind of ocean. Our Navy and Air Force understand.

All these objectives make use of a useful illusion. Pretend that a nation is a kind of organism and ask what that organism does. It's primary motivation is to survive. How does it do that on a landscape containing other nations? That's where the objectives come from.

Part of our gut reaction to Trump as President is that he is hijacking the functions of the national organism to serve his own purposes. He wants our DoJ to be loyal to him, but the nation needs DoJ to be loyal to the Rule of Law. He wants the Fed to avoid interest rate hikes that harm his base, but we need them to ensure the stability of the currency and favor full employment if possible. In this way, he's like a parasite hijacking the capabilities of the host organism. Those of us opposing him are an immune response. Geopolitics helps us frame our behaviors and explain them in ways that might actually have some truth behind it all.

Alfred Differ said...

Ilithi Dragon,

Agreed. I actually support people who support people who support you as part of my day job. There is a tomahawk on a pedestal outside the building where I used to work on a regular basis. The folks I support are quite proud of our collective ability to reach inland. 8)

When Crimea was occupied by the Russians and some of my relatives wondered why we didn't do something about it, I drew a simple, shaded map that showed every ocean and nation with an easy coastline we could reach. The unshaded regions were inland where it got expensive or a land opponent might actually be able to challenge us. Ukraine was way inside the shaded region because of Turkish control of access to the Black Sea. That map was meant to show them to expense and complexity of the proposition they had in mind. It worked for most of them.

David Brin said...

Alfred your assertions about goals have some cogency, except #5, which is diametrically opposite to the Marshallian plan to uplift as many nations as possible into the middle class. Largely through counter-mercantilist trade policies that bought from others tens of trillions of $ of crap we never needed.

Your sequence assumes reflexive Realpolitik of the sort that dominated human affairs for millennia. And it's been valid for a long time. I'd add that one major reason for the Civil War was to prevent America from becoming a balkanized, silly realm like Europe, infested with armies and borders.

But #5 is just plain wrong because after WWII we had leadership that augmented Realpolitik with something called sapience. with clear awareness that crushing potential rivals makes them dangerous threats, while lifting them into the middle class makes them relatively harmless.

I will not comment on the stupidity of people who shriek "Crimea!!!!" while ignoring Putin's anguished, enraged cries of "Ukraine!!!"

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

The USA was a bit schizophrenic after WW2

While the Marshall Plan was used to help rebuild and uplift the old enemies the USA deliberately set out to break British power - economically and politically

Rivals were OK - as long as they did not actually reach the levels where they were actually equal rivals

David Brin said...

Duncan, you can point to anecdotal evidence, like urging Brits to relinquish colonies. (If only we had leaned hard on the French in IndoChina!) And Suez. But there's also the fact that UK was bankrupt and could no more hold onto the empire than you or I could.

Mike Will said...

I doubt we'll again see the simple dignity of the ceremony on deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo bay anytime soon. Palace intrigue has replaced chivalry. We are in sore need of a Hari Seldon.

Larry Hart said...

Ilithi Dragon:

As for the whole Locum and cannibalism discussion, I'm pretty sure he's playing at satire, as a means of trolololololol


I think I can translate, based upon the "re-tweeted" responses I've seen here.

Emphasis mine:

there is NO scientific basis for cultural & religious injunctions against human-on-human cannibalism


In other words, there is nothing objectively preventing us from eating each other. The only thing between us and the abyss is religion, and because we liberal atheists have foregone that, it's on us when Soylent Green becomes reality.

I used to be astounded at the way my college's quad preachers seemed to view homosexuality--that absent the fear of Hell, everybody would be doing it. They seemed to take for granted that gay sex was more attractive to the unconstrained id, and that only the discipline of religion kept anyone from being drawn into the inexorable vortex. Which said more about their own desires than it did about atheists. Well, I'm getting a flashback overhearing arguments to the effect that if it weren't for the enforced conformity of religion, we'd all be eating each other.

Dr Brin:

When we get tissue-culture meat, there will be fetishists claiming human cells from a willing donor aren’t “cannibalism.” And what if the culture slab is your OWN cells? I admit to swallowing a chewed off cuticle, now and then. Does that qualify?


This isn't a serious discussion, is it? :)

The bad part of cannibalism is the bit about killing other people for food, not about whether cultured cells mimic human DNA. If you can eat human meat without causing harm to another human being, it doesn't bother me. But I'd wonder why you want to. As previously noted, eating people is energy-inefficient compared to eating herbivores or plants, and I can't believe human flesh is better tasting. If cannibalism was evolutionarily beneficial, wouldn't we see more of it in the animal kingdom?

David Brin said...

"We are in sore need of a Hari Seldon."

Um, who do you know who channeled Hari's greatest and most insightful adventure?

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:
Hi, Alfred. You are right in saying that the Russians would never engage in a war of attrition against the United States.
The spectacular advance of General George S. Patton through Europe during World War II, was stopped when they reduced the supply of fuel to share it with the army of Montgomery, which gave the Germans time to reorganize.
The battles between Germans and British in North Africa also showed that the effectiveness of an army depends on a continuous flow of many supplies.
I suppose that, at present, the ability to provide long-term supplies to an army abroad would be the largest Achilles heel of the Russian army. However, this does not mean that the Russians can not carry out other types of strategies that would allow the Russians to worry about the problem of supplies only in Europe's battlefields. (in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the former former republics). However, perhaps I should not mention that strategy, because perhaps it has not occurred to the Russians (it would not be good to give ideas to the Russians who are spying on us).
As for Crimea; remember that Vladimir Putin has opened a bridge between the Russian mainland and Crimea, tightening Russia's hold over the contested peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. I suspect that this bridge is vital to Russian ambitions in the area, as they are protecting the Bridge in exaggerated form. That bridge would allow the Russian army to invade Ukraine from the south, which would support a Russian attack across the border in eastern Ukraine.
Currently, the Russians are building a powerful next-generation radar station in the Crimea, which demonstrates the importance of the area.
That is to say, the control of Crimea is to obtain later the invasion of the old republics of the Soviet union that separated of Russia. That would be vital for the Russians, to recover the defensive buffer zones they possessed during the Cold War era.
Although I suppose that Crimea was always vital. There, the English were hard hit in the famous charge of the light brigade, in which the English cavalry, because of a misunderstanding in communication, mistakenly attacked the Russian artillery lines. A massacre. But that event teaches us the importance of communication systems in a war.
The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British light cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War.
As for the issue that the Americans have managed to create an army with the ability to defend US interests in the world, I must say that I do not see any problem in that, but sometimes I worry that the US Navy can board ships of any weak nation. in international waters. The only good thing about these illegal approaches is that, thanks to that, it has been possible to capture traffickers' ships, which contained shipments of weapons; drugs and slaves. But I suppose that, in the future, in interstellar space, the ships of the federation will not do that.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Ilithi Dragon:
True. We can not comment on your ship. Therefore, it is not necessary to disprove any comments that I or other say about submarines and strategy.
But since Donald Trumpovich (the Manchurian candidate) is in the presidential chair, I imagine that all the classified and ultra-secret files of the Pentagon are already being copied and transferred to the Kremlin at enormous speed. After the Trump era, it will be necessary to create new weapons systems, because the Russians are no doubt already copying all the innovations that it took US scientists a century to develop. with the plans sent by Donald Trumpovich.
If the problem of the Manchurian candidate had occurred in Russia, the KGB would undoubtedly have solved the problem very quickly. But within the US territory you have to follow the rules as I suppose. (Do not mention this, I know it's forbidden to talk about it) (But I guess it's good that you know the opinion of some on that subject)
Because the Russians and other hostile countries might be watching these communications, we can not comment on military technology, which is unfortunate, because I have four good ideas for the development of submarines more lethal than those of the Russians. (in theory).
Undoubtedly, you would prefer to work in a heavy missile launcher, because SSN class submarines have to carry a special forces unit and that greatly diminishes the space. In addition, an American artillery officer told me that the special forces men "are totally crazy," which may be a problem in the small space of an attack submarine. That could cause some situations like those of the movie Tigerland, in which Colin Farrell acts. (When I saw that movie, I was waiting and waiting to see when the scenes of battles appeared in Vietnam, but there are no such scenes). Anyway, the movie is excellent. Colin Farrell is a strong personality actor, like Marlon Brando.
I guess they never eat onions and beans inside the submarine (to avoid the deadly gases). In any case, it works well for me to eat yogurt to avoid gas. Chamomile tea is useful in severe cases.

Winter7

David Brin said...

"I imagine that all the classified and ultra-secret files of the Pentagon are already being copied and transferred to the Kremlin at enormous speed."

No, Winter. The exact opposite. Around 2005 I got smirks when I spoke at CIA about the need for much more attention to high level subversion. No one is smirking now, and our professionals are on high alert.

And I think we need to leave submarines off of our discussion list. We may all too easily tread into areas where one of us might feel compelled to leave.

By the way, know which is my most visited blog posting? The one about Republican symbolism fixation in the naming of ships!

Alfred Differ said...

David,

On the contrary. Marshall's plan fits wonderfully with objective #5. You just need a bit of perspective to see it.

1. The US was late to enter WWI. The official explanation that works well with our cultural attitude of the time was we had to be coaxed out of isolationism. From a geopolitics perspective, though, there was a serious danger looming that motivated us. The Russians were collapsing which would have freed Germany's eastern front forces to shift west. From a geopolitical perspective, there was an increased risk they'd win the war and wind up in possession of the northern plains of Europe. The ONLY place a land power can grow and oppose us is right there. They have to have as their core the region from the French Atlantic coast to Russia's Ural redoubt. That made Germany a serious enough danger that the US 'national organism' had to act to ensure political division all across the lowlands to the far corner of the Baltic.

(It doesn't matter that no one expressed this position in writing. Geopolitics assumes the national organism exists as an entity with survival needs, but doesn't require it's people to actually understand and articulate those needs.)

2. The US was late to enter WWII and the provocation came from the Pacific, yet we focused on the war in Europe first. The same situation was back. There was a real danger that Germany would run the table. Southern Europe doesn't have to be held if it is run by a friendly power and that's what they had. We had to beat Germany because of objective #5.

(In this case, you can actually find people who understood the geopolitical objective. Unfortunately, many people overstate how much power Germany had. They might have had control over the region, but without unifying the people into a economic powerhouse, they would not have been able to beat us even if we had waited longer to enter the war. We would have found it far more costly to win, though.)

3. The US entered the Cold War immediately because the aftermath of WWII left it quite likely that Russia would run the table where Germany failed. Our containment curtain of the Soviets was about ensuring division meeting objective #5 in Europe. Nixon's bid for China further divided the Communists. Our willingness to fight in Korea and Vietnam was about division underneath even if we spoke about liberty and protecting the free world. In practice, all the high-minded motivations work AS WELL because there is nothing about geopolitics that creates an either/or choice.

4. Our support of the EU also conforms to objective #5. Note that France and Germany make up the core power of the EU, but there is really no way the EU will ever be like the US. Nationalism still abounds and will for a long time to come. We needed the French and Germans working together, but not so closely that unity would go too far. Indeed, that's exactly what we got and all we had to do was ensure they didn't invade each other. Nowadays, Germany is the core power and we are seeing French nationalism again. The US has what it needs in the current EU as long as they don't get too cozy.

Alfred Differ said...

...continued

I'm not sure I'm a big fan of reflexive geopolitics as a theory, but it's one of those theories that seems to work better than anything else we've got as a framework to understand the behaviors of nations. Our need to fight the Civil War goes straight to objective #2. The existence of the Confederacy did not threaten #1, but it sure did qualify for #2. We would have had to take New Orleans no matter what, but the North's willingness to fight and die probably has more to do with #2 than with freeing slaves. As a framework, geopolitics passes the smell test.

Post WWII, what we had was leadership that understood WWII was really a continuation of WWI and we'd get more of the same if we walked away again. Post WWII, it was the US that owned the seas (objective #4 complete), so not walking away meant taking over Britain's role in the world. Post WWII, we had leadership that understood we had to be less a republic and more an empire. The choice was between that and WWIII.

Marshall's plan was brilliant and way ahead of its time. Now we know we can achieve #5 without bloodshed. All we have to do is promote liberty in places where cultural identities are strong enough to prevent political annexations. Europe is full of such places. Some day, the former British colonies may divide along more sensible borders too and achieve a similar result. We shall see.


Much of these ideas come from Friedman at Stratfor including his perspective on the uses for geopolitics. I can be convinced he got some things wrong, but it will take some doing. I've never met a better theory that discourages practitioners from wallowing in their personal delusions. One is supposed to look more at the shoes a person wears than the person wearing them. One looks at the flows of people more than what those people say is motivating them. There is an art behind it for sure. No science to be found here. It seems to work moderately well, though.

Alfred Differ said...

winter7,

I imagine that all the classified and ultra-secret files of the Pentagon are already being copied and transferred to the Kremlin at enormous speed

Doesn't work that way. One has to demonstrate a need to know that's good enough to convince the data owner to hand it over. Presidents have no such need for most secrets. You can bet everything you own that most data owners know how to get by without being noticed by the bosses. If 'you' don't know a secret exists, 'you' won't know who has it, and 'you' won't know to whom 'you' must demonstrate 'your' need to know.

It's a simple trick. Quash one's need to brag about what one knows and most will never realize there is something to know.

As for Crimea, it's always vital. Empires make many mistakes involving the region with the biggest being that it has to be integral with the nearest powerful nation. We'd probably all be better off if it was independent.

You can see Russia exercising it's warm water objectives in Transnistria too. Look at that region from the perspective of defending/assaulting Odessa.

Twominds said...

Illithi Dragon, if you're still here:

I know submarines only through Tom Clancy's book (Hunt for Red October) and the German movie Das Boot. Is real life on a submarine in any way comparable to that in the fiction? I guess you can answer that, but if not, oh well.

There's a submarine open for visitors at our Marine Museum in Den Helder, I still need to go there and visit. Our Army Museum was more interesting than I thought, and the Marine Museum will undoubtedly be too.

David Brin said...

Alfred I know George Friedman -- a fun guy, by the way and very smart. But we disagree over his fixation that balance-of-power reflexes govern all interactions.

yana said...


Larry Hart thought:

"The bad part of cannibalism is the bit about killing other people for food"

Ridiculous subthread, sorry i took lowsemenfarmer's bait, but your point is actually inviting of an odd hair-split.

In 1687, French officer the marquis De Nonville led a campaign of genocide against one faction of Iroquois, burning and slaughtering a swath through what is now New York, with several hundred Mohawk warriors as allies. Why? In retaliation for the Seneca tribe's attack on Montreal.

Reports (admittedly written by the 'victors') said that during the seige of Montreal, the Seneca built timber frames to display French Canadien captives to the garrison, beyond firing range. From these, strips were cut, cooked, and consumed, over several days as the victims remained alive. Abhorrent, yes, but just sayin'... cannibalism isn't necessarily murder.

For that matter, cultures in both Oceania and Mesoamerica practiced cannibalism as part of mourning rituals, with the recently deceased become now feast, fully aware of their imminent fate while still alive, and glad of it. Neanderthal bones have shown clear signs of rendering, and now we have evidence of Neanderthal spiritual art, so was that a ritual or simple peckishness?

One faction of nutritional politics has a credo: Meat Is Murder. But watch this docu...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrrSAc-vjG4

Veganism is every bit as murderous. This core truth will probably become the sand-in-the-pearl for one (or more) of the new religions which will vie to supplant christianity, judaism, and islam. Perhaps laboratory 'cultured' meat will become factory 'grown' meat faster than expected, for purely religious reasons?

"I can't believe human flesh is better tasting"

Haven't, but researched it, and apparently we're not delicious. Stringy, not well marbled and the fat which does go through the muscle runs fast when cooked, leaving an inferior jerky when roasted and nasty gristle nubs when stewed. Furthermore, long pork is a "perfumey" meat, like cats. Some cultures still eat dogs, but not many peoples ever ate felines.

Majority of anecdotes are about higher carnivores (i.e. non-lizard) eating a person and NOT coming back for more, but still other stories of maneaters which get a 'taste' for us, ref. Colonel Jim Corbett.

"If cannibalism was evolutionarily beneficial, wouldn't we see more of it in the animal kingdom?"

Pyramidal. Carnivorous species are a tiny fraction of all life. So no, we wouldn't see much of it in the animal kingdom, since most animals don't eat anything not rooted down. But of those animals who can eat meat, many will cannibalize. Bears, sharks, every reptile and insect, and we're not the only primate on the list.

Just one and a half steps past that, if you accept theories about how plant life moved from water to land, then biology's dirty little secret is that all terrestrial life started with one species adapting to use a soil made of it's direct parents, and that's cannibalism.

yana said...


Alfred Differ thought:

"there is nothing about geopolitics that creates an either/or choice."

Hmmm. Not sure that's so. To any national actor guided by theocracy or a personality cult, most choices are black/white.

Anonymous said...

\\Anon: do you have a citation for that Putin statement?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmfMf4P0xTM

Is this good enough for you? Or you can just google for "Putin they'll die".

And... you need to know. Of numerous times when Putin himself stated "we'd NEVER attack Ukraine. how you can EVEN think about it".

So you can think about it yourself -- how much does it cost -- Putin's word about "we'd NEVER attack USA first...".

Anonymous said...

\\I’d call notions of a Russian attack on Yellowstone fabulation… except millions of russian males imbibe their own versions of the “Turner Chronicles” featuring glorious gore festivals of American blood, including all males dead and all females slaves.

It was true for mid 20-century and germans (and yeah... japanese).
That you need to delude ALL nation to start a war against all other people.

But it is not so today. Because of technologies.

Just a bunch of fanatic or just forced scientists... or even just technicians.
is quite enough to make Dooms Day Machine. (especially when they backed up by state government)

And there never be end of proud young suicide bombers ready to push its trigger.

We already saw it.
RF showed that they can use polonium -- not cheap and easy to obtaine radioactive material.
They used Novichok -- product of vast military R&D effort.

They shamelessly showed projects of Super-Torpido or Atomic Rocket...

And... I need to worn you.
There IS such their puppets as North Korea...
which can be used to launch such attack on USA.

And what will YOU do then?

What if... kim jong un next launch be not his homemade firecracker
but SS-18 also known as Satan
with full pack of thermonuсlear warheads???

Who'd you retaliate to? To North Korea? Or to their puppeteers?

And how? (most important question)

Anonymous said...

\\It makes no sense for Russia to attack us directly with hard power. They do not have the resources necessary to execute a real war against us.

Hitler and Hirohito ALSO didn't have that much power.

But ALSO they have had NO nukes.


\\What they want is to convince us to think like isolationists (not unusual for us) and to divide us from our allies. Doing so would relieve them of some pressure they face in their geopolitical goals.

Plain wrong.
They have NO "geopolitical goals" in the sence as you understand it.
They. Putin to be exact. His cohort.
Really WANT to divide World with you.
As in Old Good Days. When Great Nations were dividing world map among themself.
And still thinks that funny hesitance of USA to agree with it -- is just for show.

What'll he do when he finally understand how wrong he is -- dearest question.


Numbered points below -- its all HOWs, not WHYs.


\\4. Control the World's Oceans.

Putin: You'd have your Oceans, and we'd have Terrain -- isn't it fair deal USA?


\\5. Prevent any potential challengers from rising.

Putin: You already missed China. India is on the rise.
There lots of states with Nukes who a spitting on YOU.
And now you silly trying to dismiss US. How stupid of you, USA. You'll need to agree with the World became multi-polar again.
Or... your destiny -- to be next after Brits. Look at Brexit. Do YOU like it?
And its only if we'd help you to not allow Civil War 2.0 in your heartland... with our proud titushki, opolchentsi, green mans and berkuta, HA-HA. %)

You are know nothing, Jon USA. (c)


PS That's higher is just for the sake of rethoric and debate...
I just tryed to play out Putin's role here.

Anonymous said...

\\In other words, there is nothing objectively preventing us from eating each other. The only thing between us and the abyss is religion

Not religion. Period. Just Common Sense.

There was lots of religions which encourage this or that form of cannibalism.

They just become extinct becase of ordinary evolutional reasons.

Carl M. said...

I a shocked!

You dared to link to an article pointing out that there are differences between boys and girls. People have been fired from Google for such alt right behavior!

Good for you.

Buy yourself some guns. You are in California.

Larry Hart said...

Carl M:

I a shocked!

You dared to link to an article pointing out that there are differences between boys and girls. People have been fired from Google for such alt right behavior!


Your caricature of liberalism is showing.

I'm more liberal than most here, and the last thing I would advocate is that there is no difference between men and women. That's a different thing from saying that one may be denied opportunities or status as citizens because of gender.


People have been fired from Google for such alt right behavior!


Google (and Facebook and Twitter) are evil. What do you expect?

I understand the sarcastic point you are trying to make, but trivializing the characterization of "alt-right" to mean "anything a lefty isn't happy about" doesn't help.

Jon S. said...

And now Carl's fallen down the hole. What is it about "conservatism" that causes its proponents to abandon all sense, all pretense of reason, and try to turn everything into a "gotcha" based on a weird Bizarro-world understanding of what non-"conservatives" supposedly think?

I yearn for the day that actually conservative thinkers, those who want changes made slowly as opposed to the modern-day reactionaries who've stolen the title, rise up and take the name back. (Although, true to the philosophy behind conservatism, they won't do it quickly...) In the meantime, I'm afraid Carl's joined locoranch and the Ent under the shroud. Somebody let me know if he recovers, okay?

Mike Will said...

aaaaaand, here we go. The Peterson bonfire begins.

Quick, where's the onward button??

Mark Gast said...

All us old farts here remember when conservatives used to be like William F. Buckley. Those days are looonnnggggg gone. Conservatives are no longer thoughtful but reactionary.

locumranch said...


Jon_S yearns for the day when conservative thinkers transubstantiate into progressives who want changes as opposed to the modern-day reactionaries who actually want to conservative something, so he can feed off their blood & body, one supposes, and Mark_G reminisces about thoughtful conservatives with brains.

Cannibals! We are surrounded by Eucharistic cannibals!

Enter Deputy Rick Grimes, Carl, Daryl, Hershel, Maggie, Lucille, Ezekiel, Negan & an ever dwindling number of actual conservatives as they attempt to resist the shambling undead harbingers of progressive revelation.


Best

A.F. Rey said...

OK, locum, now you're just repeating Dr. Brin's meme that zombie movies are for conservatives, depicting the threat of the unthinking horde against the superior minority.

But The Walking Dead isn't about the zombies. It's about the people, and how the heroes try (although not consistency succeeding) to not become monsters themselves when stuck in a hellish situation.

Besides, [SPOILER] it was the Terminites who were the real cannibals. The Walkers aren't really human anymore. :)

A.F. Rey said...

Oh, speaking of zombies, there is another non-traditional zombie movie out there.

Cargo is an Australian zombie flick about a couple who are trying to save their child after they are bitten. Fortunately, they know it takes at least 48 hours for the virus to turn them. Unfortunately, they're in the Outback, with almost no one around except for a few Aborigines who are going back to their old ways...

Although there is plenty of zombie killing, it doesn't have that "I'm superior because I can kill all these zombies" theme. Just desperation in an untenable situation.

Mike Will said...

Idea for a new LMFAO video hit: Everyday I'm Shambling

Larry Hart said...

yana:

"The bad part of cannibalism is the bit about killing other people for food"
...
Reports (admittedly written by the 'victors') said that during the seige of Montreal, the Seneca built timber frames to display French Canadien captives to the garrison, beyond firing range. From these, strips were cut, cooked, and consumed, over several days as the victims remained alive. Abhorrent, yes, but just sayin'... cannibalism isn't necessarily murder.


Ok, the bad part of cannibalism is the bit about assaulting other people for food.

Does that take care of the deficiency?

(And BTW, strictly speaking, the worst aspect of that example from the victim's standpoint is not the fact that the human flesh was being eaten. Just sayin')

Larry Hart said...

yana continues:

For that matter, cultures in both Oceania and Mesoamerica practiced cannibalism as part of mourning rituals, with the recently deceased become now feast, fully aware of their imminent fate while still alive, and glad of it.


Again, if the consume-ee is already dead--not killed for the purpose of harvesting--I don't have nearly the same squeamishness about the subject, especially in that kind of ritual eating which doesn't lead down a slippery slope of humans treating other humans as a consumable resource.


"I can't believe human flesh is better tasting"

Haven't, but researched it, and apparently we're not delicious. Stringy, not well marbled and the fat which does go through the muscle runs fast when cooked, leaving an inferior jerky when roasted and nasty gristle nubs when stewed. Furthermore, long pork is a "perfumey" meat, like cats. Some cultures still eat dogs, but not many peoples ever ate felines.


That's exactly what I would expect as a consequence of the energy-inefficiency of consuming animals higher up on the food chain.


Just one and a half steps past that, if you accept theories about how plant life moved from water to land, then biology's dirty little secret is that all terrestrial life started with one species adapting to use a soil made of it's direct parents, and that's cannibalism.


Only in the very broadest sense--roughly the same thing as saying, "If you accept that all animal life descends from a single common ancestor species, then eating chicken or steak is cannibalism." The kernel of truth is that any earthbound species is ultimately doomed to die when all of the earth's resources are consumed. I'd file that under "Now that we know that, what do we know?"

In another sense, though, it doesn't matter whether a cow is or is not our cousin. What matters is that the cow eats grain or grass and is therefore a more efficient source of energy than is a dog or lion or human being. The same applies to proto-plants living off the soil of their long-dead antecedents.

And, of course, if people eat all of the cows, they move on to another food source, whereas if people eat all of the people, there's nothing left to move on.

Larry Hart said...

One of the Anonymouses:

There was lots of religions which encourage this or that form of cannibalism.

They just become extinct becase of ordinary evolutional reasons.


I'd expect that eating each other isn't good for a culture's longevity.

Larry Hart said...

I said:

Ok, the bad part of cannibalism is the bit about assaulting other people for food.


Thinking about it more, even that isn't quite correct. Both murder and assault (and torture) are bad for reasons which have very little to do with whether or not the victim's flesh is consumed afterwards.

The bad part of cannibalism is the bit about socitey perceiving human beings as a consumable resource. That's what leads beyond an individual assault to entire economies designed around the lack of human dignity granted to whole classes of people. An analogous argument can be made against the institution of slavery--once your civilization builds upon the concept, it's damned hard to stop.

Anonymous said...

Doctor Brin:
All right. I get it. Nothing to talk about submarines.
As for the issue of cannibalism. It is sad that historical circumstances have forced civilized people to consume human flesh on many occasions.
There is the Argentine rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes.
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca along with other Spanish conquistadors committed cannibalism after a shipwreck. (This shipwrecked man wandered from Texan territory to deep within Mexico, being a slave and learning to be a shaman)
Actually, there is a huge amount of cases of cannibalism. It is surprising that hunger can overcome the moral locks of religions. I suppose that in the great disasters and wars of the future, cannibalism will continue to appear again and again; because the ineptitude of corrupt politicians will always lead many nations to the abyss of misery in some places and moments of the future.
I recently watched a television show: On the Island; with Bear Grylls. I was impressed to see how a group of ordinary people could not find a way to get food for days, despite being on an island full of plants and animals. The whole group was led at first by the stupor of being in an unknown situation; Then, when the hunger came, they tried to get food too late and the hunger continued. They only managed to obtain food taking advantage of exceptional opportunities.
If the survival situation had been real, they would have been in serious trouble. If they had not had some members with a little initiative in a real situation, the whole group on the island would have died of hunger or they would have given themselves up to cannibalism. Which shows us that in schools they should teach more than mathematics; chemistry and philosophy.

Winter7

A.F. Rey said...

Before we move onward, one more piece of Friday silliness.

I was just wondering if Dr. Brin may have added a bit of political commentary to his paper on comet dust, like these guys did:

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2018/12/13/sneaking-political-commentary-into-science-papers-glorious/

:)

locumranch said...


Yet, society does perceive human beings as a consumable resource, and it demonstrates this unpleasant fact by practicing various degrees of compulsion, conscription & taxation.

From early childhood, the civilised individual is subject to compulsory education (indoctrination) in order to create a productive citizen, potential patriot & future laborer who will serve the collective.

The individual becomes a productive citizen by accepting a subservient role that places collective needs before the needs of said individual. Those who achieve this level of subservience are deemed noble (as self-sacrifice is now thought noble) & good.

Those individuals who refuse subservience are deemed ignoble (as self-interest is now thought ignoble) & bad. Labelled failures by the collective, self-interested individuals are often subject to social forfeits, penury & imprisonment.

Of course, the best slaves are willing slaves' and 'one volunteer is worth two pressed men', a lesson that has not been lost on Napoleon Bonaparte, Frederick Taylor & other captains of industry.

Taylor's "THE PRINCIPLES OF SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT" is linked below:

https://wwnorton.com/college/history/america-essential-learning/docs/FWTaylor-Scientific_Mgmt-1911.pdf

Thus, the most effective compulsions must offer the individual at least the illusion of choice, so they may think themselves 'free' even though they be slaves (or, possibly, dinner) in fact.


Best

Ilithi Dragon said...

@Twominds:

Hunt for Red October is fairly decent, though not perfect. Das Boot is pretty accurate to life on ye olde WWII diesel boats, particularly the U-Boats.

If you want a book to read, I recommend "Thunder Below!" and "Blind Man's Bluff."

If you want a movie to watch, I recommend "Down Periscope." It's mostly a comedy, so it's not a 100% accurate portrayal as far as events, etc. go (though it's reasonably accurate), but it is 100% accurate as far as what submarine culture and life is like. They also used my boat to fill the role of the fictional USS Orlando.

I do not recommend the recent aborted fetus of a dumpster fire they call a submarine movie, "Hunter Killer." It is a terrible movie, as a movie, and can really only be called a submarine movie in the sense that submarines played a prominent role in the plot. Seal Team Six-And-A-Half took up half the movie that was supposedly about submarines, and there were a dozen-and-a-half half-finished and aborted plots and major sub plots riddled through the movie. It is 100% what a lazy, pothead Hollywood writer who is baked off their ass thinks submarines (and SEALs) are like, and 0% what submarines are actually like.

List of things they got right:

1. Submarines do, in fact, exist.
2. Most of a torpedo is painted green.
3. Icepicking is a maneuver that exists (this actually got my hopes up for the movie, only to have them promptly dashed by the entire rest of it)
4. um..... Yeah, that's all I got.

/rant


@Winter:

We can talk about submarines, but I cannot discuss submarine operations, nor capabilities, nor anything that involves the material condition of any of our boats, nor schedules.



Regarding the notion of a surprise attack by Russia - barring a fullscale nuclear exchange (which would eliminate Russia as well as us), Russia does not have the military, industrial, nor economic strength to defeat us in a direct confrontation, nevermind us and our allies (that's why they've been working hard to undermine us and our allies indirectly).

But neither did Imperial Japan in 1941.

Smart people in Japan back then knew that attacking the US and bringing us into the war against them was a Bad Idea, but ambitious/delusional people in power overruled them.

The danger of that with Russia, and China, exists today, and should not be discounted. I personally think it more likely that some Russian gambit to undermine us would blow up unexpectedly, but either way, you get war.

TheMadLibrarian said...

In the vein of "A stopped clock is correct twice a day", locum actually got something right, in a bass-ackwards, Red Queen way. The way our society treats people with limited prospects as a consumable cog is reprehensible, and as bad as in the overseas sweat shops patronized by many large companies.

Ilithi, story from RIMPAC several years back: One of the sub commanders was in the habit of popping up and torpedoing a target almost with impunity. Even the sub hunters couldn't find him. It got to the point where he would tell people, "Okay, I will be attempting to hit target Whiskey Tango Foxtrot at 16:15 HST." He made it through the exercises with a clean record; I don't know if it was ever equaled.

Twominds said...

@Ilithy Dragon

Thank you for your reply.

Das Boot made a deep impression on me the first time I saw it. The claustrophobic atmosphere, how small all the compartments are where so many people have to work and live, and the fear. Most movies don't stay with my, but that one did.

I'll check out those books and find the movie you recommend. Funny that your boat was used! It will give it something extra.

Ilithi Dragon said...

@TML:

There is a reason why submarines refer to surface ships as "targets."
} ; = 8 )

Anonymous said...

Ilithi Dragon:
Certainly, if the Russians attacked US territory with atomic weapons, that would have devastating consequences on Russian territory. However, there is a strategy that would allow Russians to survive 75% after a massive nuclear exchange.
Of course, to do something like that, the Russians would have to be very desperate. I remember that an analyst who worked for the CIA, mentioned that economic ruin could boost Russia to a war against NATO. The impressive corruption of the Russian leaders (surpassed only by all the politicians in Mexico) is the cause of the irreversible ruin in Russia. There, as in Mexico, the freedom and welfare of the people are something that is not within the priorities.
If at present we take into account that the Russian economy is in free fall, I think that provides a scenario of possible war. Also, as you said, the Russians try to hit in an indirect way, but the indirect methods are only used in an ascending way until the damage is such that the massive attack is viable. Let us hope that the American analysts have the talent to discover where and how the Russians can cause the damage caused by the catastrophic rupture in all the fronts of defense; I believe that there is an oversight in the implementation of internal countermeasures; for there are errors that the Russians are taking advantage of within US territory.
But I hope I'm wrong. Maybe Russia will become a democracy, after an unexpected and rapid revolution. (Would not it be nice to see Vladimir Putin and the Russian mafia in prison?)
Moving on to another issue. I'm not going to talk about American submarines ... What would happen if someone catches a submarine U2 with a cable and when raising it, a torpedo slides across the floor of the submarine and hits hard against an iron wall? Would it detonate? How unstable is the explosive charge of a German torpedo? If a US Navy boat sees me towing an old U2 submarine, would they take it from me?

Winter7

Mike Will said...

Getting back to Human Origins for a sec, 'paleoastronomy' might have some influence. They're now thinking that supernovae in the Local Bubble may have killed off the Megalodon (not that far back actually).
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2018/12/14/supernova-likely-killed-off-ancient-mega-shark

Anonymous said...

Mike Will:
Yes. Supernovas and energy jets from black holes and energy jets from black hole drainages anchored to the gravitational well of stars; They are a constant danger. Those objects are like drunken hunters, shooting in the dark; You never know when a planet is going to be barbecued or cooked half cooked.
I suppose those who watch the sky to detect dangerous asteroids should also look for any object capable of spraying our planet with energy beams. (Wow, that was very much heard from the themes of Flash Gordon) ... We must avoid the energy beams launched by the planet Mongo ... by the way:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyIIYerdlUA

Winter7

Anonymous said...

And ... Well, I had already explained that it is not possible (yet) to send people through a wormhole, and that is what they say in a certain publication; but you may notice that it is not really possible to know what is possible until we make a black hole (experiment that we must perform on an asteroid en route to the planet of those evil Harkonnen.) We can never perform that experiment on our planet or disaster will occur; which is predicted by Dr. Brin in his book EARTH)
Link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-12-scientists-dismiss-idea-wormholes.html

¡Hora de cenar! Woooooooaaaa.

Winter7

David Brin said...

I don't believe (nor does Putin) that enough Russian nukes would work to knock us down to stone-age or wasteland... though we'd be hurt horribly. Even in a limited exchange, he would lose control over vast swathes of country, because he runs a mafia that dominates a nation, not the other way around. Wherever Russian troops repress local populations, those populations would slaughter them.

He knows that the USA would continue to exist and re-forge, even if major parts were out of comms for years. He does not want to go there.

No. he relies on mob tactics because he is a mobster.

I am pleased that I am keeping my vow and just skimming the 1st sentences of L. No sign of vitamins? I move on.

Mike Will said...

Elon Musk and others propose that becoming a multi-planet species would make us much more resilient to natural and man-made catastrophes. It could also work for individual nations. Nuke-ing a nation that has a viable (self-sustaining) base on the moon or Mars would be a very bad move. Retribution from above could be swift and devastating.

Anonymous said...

Doctor Brin:

As for the issue of the robots used to accurately deliver drugs ... Actually, we might call magnetic devices microdrones, since they are magnetically guided by a person. Consequently, these devices are not robots. As someone said some ten years ago: If you see someone with a remote control next to the robot, then that means that the "robot is really a remote controlled vehicle.
However, it is clear that the micro-impulse system of these remote-controlled micro-vehicles is something with enormous efficiency. That could ... This could lead to a scenario similar to the movie " Fantastic Voyage" Asimov's novel. (En un futuro lejano, claro está)

Winter7

Anonymous said...

As for the issue of the Chinese clones ... I guess it was logical that the Chinese were the most advanced in matters of genetic manipulation. After all, with an overpopulation precariously contained, the Chinese are desperate to create innovations that save them money. Modifying humans genetically to be more resistant to disease is smart. But that technology is also a double-edged sword. Can you see the good and bad possibilities in genetic manipulation? That technique is great magic. Powerful "magic"

Winter7

yana said...


Larry Hart thought:

"The bad part of cannibalism is the bit about socitey perceiving human beings as a consumable resource."

Nice pivot from the particular to the general, you're a pro. I probably fall a couple tones right of you on the lib-con spectrum, but appreciate you bringing a convo which is essentially useless back to an idea that has immediate relevance. Knee-jerking says with indignance that we're not just cogs in an economic machine. Rationality says that we're more than consumerist food tubes, but well yeah, applying numerical analysis in some contexts can make us appear so. Forward thought says any economic machine will collapse without BOTH iconoclasts and humdrums. Idealism ensures everyone that they're not a cog, but a complete economic machine in their own right.

Still can't believe that i get to live in the period when humanity finally has the communication tools to make it real. What a stroke of luck!

yana said...


Winter7 thought:

"Argentine rugby team whose plane crashed... Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca... Actually, there is a huge amount of cases of cannibalism..."

And yet, in the anecdotes, there's one story that sticks with me, one of sailors stranded in a lifeboat. Forget the when/where details of this one, but one died and some of them did succumb to that hunger, and one man did not. They were subsequently rescued. Later in this post you use the phrase "abyss of misery" and that just about sums up the ensuing life history for one man, but not the other.

Remember the tale because it struck a chord for me. If you're sure to die, then there's no sense in debasing yourself, and if you're trying to survive, would life feel worth it, should you succeed?

Anonymous said...

>> Larry Hart said...

\\...doesn't lead down a slippery slope of humans treating other humans as a consumable resource.

Then you are idiot. Because it LEAD.

It exactly because of it man_flash_eaters are outlaws even among man_flash_eaters.

You can eat grass, you can eat pork, you can eat shit...
but only, even if occasionally eaten, even one bite of man's flash, if known by peers -- makes you non-human in their eyes.


\\One of the Anonymouses:
\\>There was lots of religions which encourage this or that form of cannibalism.
\\>They just become extinct becase of ordinary evolutional reasons.
\\I'd expect that eating each other isn't good for a culture's longevity.

Hmm... and where do you see a difference? Between you words and mine?


\\The bad part of cannibalism is the bit about socitey perceiving human beings as a consumable resource.

Sorry to say... but society of humans, every and ever, DOES perceiving human beings as a consumable resource ALL the TIME.

"workforse", "human resources", "staff" -- doesn't ring a bell?

Anonymous said...

\\It is surprising that hunger can overcome the moral locks of religions.

:))) That one hiLLLLLarious one. %))))


\\as self-sacrifice is now thought noble

That one too. %)


Anonymous said...

>> Blogger Ilithi Dragon said...

\\I personally think it more likely that some Russian gambit to undermine us would blow up unexpectedly, but either way, you get war.

What war??? if you already dead.

Nuke exchange have meaning only if "everybody die" occur.


\\Regarding the notion of a surprise attack by Russia - barring a fullscale nuclear exchange (which would eliminate Russia as well as us),

So... Pentagon really have plans to bomb out Siberia? %)))

You still don't get it... THAT crucial difference between USA and RFia. %)
They JUST DON'T CARE... be they dead or no. Big part of russians ALREADY leaving in POST-apocalyptic environment so to say.


\\Russia does not have the military, industrial, nor economic strength to defeat us in a direct confrontation,

Say that to dead under Twins ruins...


\\nevermind us and our allies

So... you are READY to die for Narva? (Paul Goble, 'Refusing to “Die for Narva” Would Be End of NATO and the West', etc)

Even if it would look like migration wave across PriBalts borders?
Same like that stopped by now on your and Mexico border?
And politicians will be covering it under "its not our problem" motto?


\\ (that's why they've been working hard to undermine us and our allies indirectly).

Not even close.

For now... they think what they do IS JUST THE SAME as what you do.
That their Salisbury misschief
is just the same as any undercover CIA operation.

Do You know that notion -- about "reverse cargo cult"???

They do not think about it as and do not think of... "breaking rules".

But someday they can come to conclusion... same as Ben Laden came.
That anything goes... to "punish ziz nasty pindoses".

Twominds said...

@Anonymous of the last two comments:

I think you're one and the same. Please use a name or alias so we can know you from the other anonymouses. Either use Name/URL (leaving URL empty), or at least sign your posts like Winter 7 does.

To the other anonymouses, please do the same. The discussions go so much better when we know who writes what.

@Dr Brin: I did read Locum this time, at least the first two. He's now trolling pur sang, but in a funny way, and better written than usual. Someone called it satire, I agree, whether it was intentional or not.

I must say, I tend to skim Winter 7 these days. So much speculation, interesting ideas tend to drown in it.

Anonymous said...

>> David Brin said...

\\I don't believe (nor does Putin) that enough Russian nukes would work to knock us down to stone-age or wasteland...

That's not the point.

THE POINT IS -- what type and amass of impetus would make you DOCILE.

And he thinks that answer is Trump.


\\though we'd be hurt horribly.

That exactly what he want to make you think about.


\\Even in a limited exchange, he would lose control over vast swathes of country, because he runs a mafia that dominates a nation, not the other way around.

He scared only of surprise attack on his Kremlin bunker with Tomahawks.

About all other he and his cohort -- think that it'll only unite and enrage russians MORE.
And its sad for me... but he might be right on that. %((

And you are wrong... thinking about it as "mafia".
Yes, there is mafia... but its under government control.
While government, while looking like mafia to you -- still are traditional "russky way" to govern over THIS territory.


\\Wherever Russian troops repress local populations, those populations would slaughter them.

Oh yeah? %))) So why DNRians and LNRians still not slaughtered their "opolchenci"?


\\He knows that the USA would continue to exist and re-forge, even if major parts were out of comms for years. He does not want to go there.

Why'd he bother? If they'd be the same as DNR/LNR?


\\No. he relies on mob tactics because he is a mobster.

Its not good to understate your enemy.

yana said...


I should probably explain that, lest anything come taked out of context...

yana thought:

"Knee-jerking says with indignance that we're not just cogs in an economic machine. Rationality says that we're more than consumerist food tubes, but well yeah, applying numerical analysis in some contexts can make us appear so. Forward thought says any economic machine will collapse without BOTH iconoclasts and humdrums. Idealism ensures everyone that they're not a cog, but a complete economic machine in their own right."

We already see the first signs, just in the right order. Which professions are most dependent on media? List them, rank them, and recall what's happened since 1999:

In order of media dependence:

celebrity
politician
business
police/fire
artist

So we should see wider disruption of these castes, in that order. And so it is come to pass, lol. First we saw from 2000 to 2010, new platforms for celebrity, a widening base of each type of celebrity, and quicker turnover within. From 2010 to 2020, we see politics bifurcate and polarize along unfamiliar lines, as exposure matters more than thought. As the celerity of celebrity ever increases, A-listers do advertisements not for the money but just to keep the face relevant.

Duh, what's going to happen next? Economic entities have been drawn up as producers/shippers/sellers. New businesses combine two, or all three. Once media dependence is at discount, the advantage of scale is mitigated. Thus more churn in business, the power of a brand or of a bizmodel lessens, when a new idea costs literally pennies.

Later in the future, public safety becomes a collaboration of nation/municipality. Fire alarms with priority wifi access, which means backdoors to wifi. Algorithms to note when a GPS'd device goes off its beaten path, when unpatterned transactions occur, then auto-elevate a remote video collage to a public safety officer's workscreen, sitting somewhere equally remote. Hey, it'll save lives.

Finally, in the 2030's, the jobtitle "working artist" applies to several hundred million people. Endless dist models allow all kinds of art to be created in one place, then sold anywhere, usually in 1, but in as many as 20 days, if the buyer is in Borneo.

What if the artist is in the heart of Borneo? Just a few happenstance retweets can set her up for life, filling orders for guitar frets made from sustainably harvested highland river mollusks. And that's a biz she can leave to her family for generations.

Larry Hart said...

Anonymous:

Hmm... and where do you see a difference? Between you words and mine?


I didn't say there was one.

Seriously, dude, I can't quite figure out if you're arguing with me or agreeing or both. You seem kinda honked off about something I said, but it's not at all clear what that is, or why.

Larry Hart said...

Speaking of cannibalism, by now everyone must have heard about the Republican judge in Texas who declared Obamacare UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!! and firmly branded and positioned the Republican Party as the villains who want to allow my family and myself to be tortured in order to extract whatever worldly goods we've managed to possess. Incidentally, the poster here who uses the nym "more weight" will certainly recognize that this puts us in the same position as that character in The Crucible who held out until dying unconfessed, therefore allowing his children to inherit his property, rather than confessing to witchcraft under torture which would have allowed the torturers to confiscate his property.

The one silver lining here--are Republicans really stupid or insane enough to think this is a winning issue in 2020? They may have just handed us the Senate.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Dec15.html#item-1

Maybe they [House Democrats] will reinstate the penalty for not having insurance. Even if it's just one penny, then it would be a tax again, and O'Connor's ruling would presumably be moot. Or maybe they go for Obamacare 2.0. Or maybe they go further and pass a Medicare-for-all bill. Whatever Team Pelosi chooses, they will be able to hold Republicans' feet to the fire. And the Republicans, for their part, will have three basic choices: (1) Work with the Democrats, which is unlikely; or (2) Come up with their own plan, which they haven't been able to do for 8 years, so it's unlikely they'll be able to do so now; or (3) Kill whatever the Democrats come up with, and give the blue team more ammunition for use in 2020. Given how well it worked in 2018, it is a safe bet that the Democrats will make health care their top campaign issue in 2020. This is not something the Republicans are looking forward to.

In short, we will see what happens, but for Republicans this seems to be a crystal-clear example of the old admonition: "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it."


Or as Dave Sim had it in Cerebus, "Sometimes, you can get what you want and still not be very happy."

Anonymous said...

>> Larry Hart said...

\\You seem kinda honked off about something I said, but it's not at all clear what that is, or why.

I just double-checked it.

Isn't it YOUR words?

\\\\In other words, there is nothing objectively preventing us from eating each
other. The only thing between us and the abyss is religion


My contre-arguments is clear.

1. There IS objective reasons which prevent us from eating our own kind.

2. No. They NOT religious one (because religious are not objective, too).
As there was (and probably is) religions as that which condemn as well as that which DO prise cannibalism (e.g. some kind vampirism cults).

So.
As it seems my objections ARE
1. Clearly seen.
2. Strictly logical.

Of course, its means nothing as there to many information bubbles where
logic and straight-forwardness treated more like grave sin against peace of mind of local inhabitants of that bubble...
then like rightfull and apropriate for a sapient being which like to think about oneself as rational and science-savvy.

PS Yes. This is a test.

Larry Hart said...

@Anonymous,

Those are my words, but I was paraphrasing someone else's argument in order to try to explain what I thought he was getting at. That is not my personal philosophy. That's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

Anonymous said...

\\That's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

I beg my pardon.

Its not easy for me to read intonation of texts in foreign lang.

David Brin said...

Anonymous visitor. I am finding it difficult to read your missives.

1. I assume you are not a native English speaker. Still, you might put your translated postings through a grammar and spelling checker. We will try to understand. But it is difficult in almost every sentence. If you are a native English speaker, then read through again please, before posting.

2. Please choose a monicker or pseudonym and sign with it, even when you are posting anonymously. We have asked. It makes you a member of a community and not a drive-by shooter.

3. Separately, shouting accusations is less acceptable than quoting someone and then ASKING A QUESTION.

Thanks and good luck all.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

(But someone come back here to make sure folks understand what "onward" means?)

Onward!

porohobot said...

>>David Brin said...
//Anonymous visitor. I am finding it difficult to read your missives.

1. Thank you very much.
Yeah, I'm not native. And clearly trying to excercise my low writing abilities to its utmost... sorry about that.
And thank you again for your judgment.

2. Ok. I'll try.
It'll be porohobot -- eager pro-ukraininan propagandist, oftenly (and falsely)
dissmissed by rivals (you know who they are)
as one who works on Presidente Poroshenko and Ukrainian Hunta in general
for money -- just as one of drones from Troll Fabrica of Prigojin.

3. Its not that easy as you see it.
I came to you... like soldier from battlefield. (you know where and what battle)
And while my habits surely looks peculiar for you.
They have its roots.

And... sorry for my pedantism
\\shouting accusations is less acceptable than quoting someone and then ASKING A QUESTION.

It was exactly what I did.

>>>
Larry Hart said...
Anonymous:

Hmm... and where do you see a difference? Between you words and mine?

...
5:15 AM
<<<

See...

Larry Hart said...

@porohobot

Thanks for picking a name.

Just so you know, when Dr Brin says "onward", that means he's put up a new post on the blog, and most of us go on to comment under that one.