Wednesday, April 10, 2019

North Korea, China and other concerns

Before turning to Asia, let me remind you that efforts to spark a US-Iran war continue apace, with the (squeaker) re-election if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump's saber rattling at the Persian militias. There are so many reasons for certain forces to want this distraction, whose only conceivable net-winner would be ring-master Vladimir Putin. Again, I urge folks to be familiar with the terms "Tonkin Incident," "Gleiwitz Incident," and Reichstag Fire." Know them, even if you figure I am a kook.

==  The North Korean Potemkin fa├žade ==

Having waited a while after the absurd sham-meeting between a .U.S. president with a murderous communist tyrant, in another communist state -- a debriefing without a single U.S. official present -- before launching into this "emperor has no clothes" jeremiad.

I find it astonishing almost everyone accepts the potemkin farce-facade of North Korean autonomy from China, without ever pondering - even briefly, in passing - the obvious alternative. Well, it’s my job to consider “unconventional plausibilities” so mull over this one.

As recently as 1958, China had half a million troops on the Korean peninsula. Kim Il Sung was entirely their creature. So, bBy what logic does everyone assume they'd let go of such control, even when most troops were withdrawn? History shows innumerable ways that a ruthless empire can keep reins on a puppet regime, right next door. How does this alternative not merit primacy, under Occam's Razor?

Now consider the elephant question. How could North Korea develop – simultaneously – compact H-Bombs and triggers plus ICBM delivery systems, while its people starve and luxury goods pout into the Pyongyang elites? Do not yatter about Iranian complicity or ex-Soviet techies-for-hire. Not only is it all implausible, but it takes a special kind of delusion to imagine the PRC leaders would let it happen, a crazed, murderous clan stockpiling nukes practically next door to Beijing, without some pretty tight nooses and leashes.

Suppose – just as a mind-teaser – that I’m right and the conventional notion of NK autonomy is a put-up job. From Beijing's perspective, there are no disadvantages to this farce. They get a finger puppet who can be used to poke us in the eye at any time, or serve as "bad cop," while the PRC maintains "who me?" deniability. A few NK-delivered EMP pulses over North America could cripple our economy, while our fierce retaliation would be limited to an expendable peninsula downwind from anything Beijing cares about, but upwind from Japan and California. And note that deniability war is exactly what Putin expertly wages against Georgia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and the entire west. 

Okay, I may be crazy. But I am paid to poke at the edges of pat assumptions. Moreover, for this scenario not to be at least on your horizon, considered as a plausibility, is far crazier.

== And on to China ==

China published a report on the United States that “exposes human rights violations.” As reported by Bill Bishop at Sinocism, these include: severe infringement on citizens' civil rights, the prevalence of money politics, rising income inequality, worsening racial discrimination, and growing threats against children, women and immigrants, as well as rights violations caused by unilateral America First policies." At surface, it is a blatant propaganda response to Congressionally mandated (since Jimmy Carter) U.S. reports on human rights violations around the world. And while it’s ludicrous to compare, it certainly is our way to welcome the corrective influence of criticism. Zero sum minds cannot comprehend that positive-sum strength.

This matter is actually fantastically important on a practical level. We need to recall that agents in Col. Vladimir Putin’s KGB had advantages in attempting to undermine America, e.g. being able to operate and move freely about our open society. During the overtly Marxist era, they also tried to use western self-critical guilt-trip mentalities to suborn the U.S. left into assisting them - something that absolutely never worked on any large or middle scale. 

In fact the U.S. labor movement, while “socialist” in a Canadian sort of way, was also the most vigorously anti-communist force in American life. This relentless failure to win via the left forced the Kremlin to consider alternatives. They always had good fortune with western plutocratic families like the Kochs and Trumps. An idea began to simmer.

Consider their problem. The KGB etc. had damn good spycraft, but it was always hampered by a fatal flaw… defections.  On occasion a major agent or official would jump the fence, bringing along troves of information that devastated Kremlin plans. Putin and others studied this flaw, and realized it was based upon three conditions, the West’s ability to offer:

1. Safety - often via new identities in a secure relocation program.

2. Good prospects - new employment and a chance to live the dream.

3. The moral high ground. A sense that, for all our faults, we were at least trying to keep a higher ratio of good to bad actions than past empires. A reputation for correcting flaws and moving forward, amid some degree of good intentions.

Now consider carefully. All three of these defection lures have been systematically wrecked by Putin’s New KGB, as defectors are systematically hunted down and killed, without much interference.

Moreover you can see the context for China’s human rights report, now. Though it does far less to rob our moral high ground than any single day or hour of the Trump Administration.

All of it — China’s assertive diplomacy, Putin’s machinations and Trump’s spectacularly deliberate demolition of American alliances and prestige — have had effects. As Bishop points out: The U.S. approval rating for 2018 stands at 31%, only a 1% increase from the "new record low" seen during the first year of Donald Trump's presidency, per Gallup. 2018 also marks the first time that the global approval rating of Russia — currently at 30% — has been on equal ground with the U.S.

At long last, look at how this all fits with what has happened since we supposedly “won the Cold War.” All communist or socialist symbols and creeds have been dropped and Soviet state companies were converted into zaibatsus owned by cartels of oligarchs — most of them Lenin-raised former commissars(!) — who now schmooze with billionaires in the west. The KGB has converted to mafia styles, allowing it to adapt western criminal practices to evade our accountability systems and laws. Putin is resurrecting czarist symbolism and protocols and thus winning over royal tyrants like the Saudis.

Where western socialists had been almost impossible to suborn, the same cannot be said of world billionaires, despots and organized crime (e.g. casino moguls), all of whom now share the very same agenda — to wreck enlightenment accountability systems.

Did anyone see BLAST FROM THE PAST? At the end, Christopher Walken's character shakes his head, upon hearing the "Politburo just gave up one day.” 

He sighs and comments only: "You've got to hand it to them.

Never was a film more prophetic!

==  Don’t Eat, Don ==

We’ve all seen reasons to oppose any further Trump private meetings with communist or ex-communist or mafia foreign leaders. First, nothing good ever came of it — at all, even slightly — and they stink of being blatant de-briefing sessions, issuing fresh orders to Putin’s agent. Indeed, the House should present the Senate with a simple bill requiring any such meetings to be in the presence of State and Intel officials, and dare Mitch McConnell to oppose it! 

But there’s an added reason now, why Two Scoops should give up this filthy habit. Self-preservation.

He still views himself (delusionally) as a mighty Adonis. But Putin sees damaged goods and an asset turning into a liability, serving to unify the Union side of this civil war that Vlad cleverly helped Rupert to re-ignite. There comes a point where the mafia dons start thinking of cement overshoes… about how much more useful their raving “asset” would be, as a martyr

Close your eyes and think about it. The field day that silky-smooth President Pence would have, both reassuring and luring-back some of the officer corps, while riling 33% of Americans into confederate fury over martyred dear-leader Trump.

Fer crying out loud Donald, when you are alone with these tyrant pals DON’T EAT ANYTHING! Yes, you imagine it is only liberals and western-civilization types and smartypants who have it in for you, and that the despots are your pals. But remember how rapacious you were, in business, and consider that you may have outlasted your usefulness to your best pals.

 (God bless the U.S. Secret Service! Which -- noteworthy in recent news, is suffering morale problems for... reasons.)

Now consider how stupid this plausible scenario actually makes Don AND the dons. He won’t be careful, thinking he’s still valuable to them. And they won’t consider the long range, lethal consequences. One fact in particular should worry any sane, thoughtful person who cares for future generations...

... that there is nothing Mike Pence prays for, daily, more fervently than - absolutely literally - the End of the World.


Mike Will said...

In high school, we laughed at every Shakespearean tragedy we studied for being so over-the-top and unbelievable. Real life could never be that absurd. I miss those innocent, blissful days. I now fully understand the Chinese curse about living in interesting times.

yana said...

[previously] Mike Will thought:

"Back to states of matter for a sec. I was shot down pretty quick when I suggested that our states of matter definitions are iffy at best. We basically know the surface of the Earth plus a few exotic experiments - that's it. Soliquid Potassium"

Who would drag you down for that? Matter is only one expression of the same thing we call energy, not half of a duality of matter/energy because there's no such thing as a duality. And there's much more of it floating around which we'd call 'energy' anyway. Who told you there is only solid, liquid, and gas? There are hundreds of ways the substrate can express as matter.

Alfred Differ said...

Stories expressing character traits are exaggerated for clarity. That's how I usually listen to Shakespeare now. Make it clear to the audience. No confusion, thus over the top.

Reminds me of how stage makeup is done too. Can't see subtle from the back of the theater.

yana said...

David Brin thought:

"North Korea ... PRC ... KGB ... American alliances and prestige ... the Saudis ... Mike Pence prays"

On the hole, this post is cogent analysis. A couple stray things come to mind. In 2019 Italy is booed for remaking the Silk Road. But in 1979, the completion of this road was deemed both imminent and satanic by fundamentalist christians. 10 years ago, a shrill advertiser decried low interest rates and 'global turmoil' to exhort "you must buy gold now!!"

Last week saw the same advertiser bewailing rising interest rates and 'global turmoil' because, of course, "you must buy gold now!!!" The explanation is simple, give people a new thing to worry about every few years. Was prostitution really the first profession? Or was it politics? Are all similarities coincidences?

The reason i'm not worried is the most subversive idea ever to come out of compsci, proven true every single day: "data wants to be free." What is data? It is us. The speed and reach of data hoists us upwards, gleefully or kicking and screaming just the same.

The ideal of the oppressor is that each person is equivalent. In practice much messier, so oppression is always thrown off. The chance that it is replaced by new oppression or new freedom is merely a question of how much data is available, and how fast it moves. In the past dozen years we solved both those questions.

Eerie, how the more we accept people as equal, the less equivalent they are, the greater the range of expression, both theirs and ours.
If The Postman was written today, he'd be a cableguy who conned his way into a job reactivating old cell towers, telling scattered Oregonian survivors that he needed their turbines and panels on the authority of some mythical Minneapolitan Mussolini.

I don't know what will be the first one, but eventually and maybe soon, an idea will emerge on the web that grabs a lot of people's attention with simple human truth, the kind of thing we all know deep-down to be true but nobody said it aloud in that way, some idea which puts small squabbles into a new-normal perspective. That's called politics, no matter if it's local or global.

At the top of this reply are a bunch of ellipses, but between them are a trove of things inherently absurd. Data in the print revolution exposed the absurdity of monarchy. I expect no less from this revolution, only quicker.

yana said...

What will we be left with, once the absurdity of nationalism is laid out in memes oh so sharp? This revolution will be much more peaceful than others. The only thing left, which can unite us is species survival, which by nature discourages person-on-person violence.

Duh, the rise of eco-enviro for going on 50 years now. And that was when they just had phones, like wired solitary phones. The ecology thing will work just fine for uniting some people, but others will need a more threatening threat to strive against. Bring on the Space Force. A sense of security can only encourage a couple thousand people moving to the moon, and that's all we need. As a species, that's all we need to 'ugely increase our chances of survival.

If we get to the moon, we counter one more of nature's extinction traps, so we're pretty lucky to have such a large moon fairly close. Next extinction trap is solar spitting so we need spun-web Faraday cages, but the next one is placing 1AU-wide lattices between Sol system and soon-to-pop stars, at a distance of 20,000 AU's.

It's not about profit and loss, it's not about private vs gov't, it's the same thing which drives every animal, humans included: "how can I make this life better for the kids?" Species survival. You can get traction with that message, in all demographic groups. Since quicker is better and closer is quicker, we use the moon.

If you wish, your grad schoolers and putative Nippon partners can do the far stuff on the side, your profit stuff, the cost easily absorbed, the capital easily raised, once a generation of people are comfortable being off earth. Where do you think the labor for 'roid raiding was going to come from, earth? With each and every astroperson having their own personal hell for 18 months until either adjusting or washing out?

Obviously, the people who go out prospecting the Belt and various other moons will be native lunars. The sooner we put them there, the faster your dreams of natural economics spurring expansion will happen. And the quicker we will have a hedge, against the only planet-killer event we can do anything about: a big rock on the wrong rollercoaster track.

Howard Brazee said...

One weird thing is that Trump is trying to get Kim Jung-un to get rid of its nukes and trust the U.S.—while simultaneously telling Iran that getting rid of its nukes during the Obama administration didn't matter.

Does he really believe Kim is that dumb?

raito said...

Mike Will:

So you never studied history? Some historical accounts make old Bill look tame.

In other news, it looks like the Uplift is starting. Though I wonder at using our genes to do it...

It also looks like Pierre Boulle is more popular than David Brin for name-dropping on these sorts of things.

A.F. Rey said...

A cute comic showing who believes in climate change and who doesn't:

David Brin said...

yana, I hear all your points. And the costs of sustaining even just 100 humans on the moon, without any economic driver but tourism, will kill your colony. See the hugely optimistic novel ARTEMIS.

AFR cute graphic! But the cartoon is so unfair. The Denialist Cult also includes Info_Wars screechers and Kochs and most of Fox News.

Alfred Differ said...

Are any of the meteorology organizations still on the denier side? I remember them being over there too.
Maybe I'm just remembering some of their outlier members, though.

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...


It's not about profit and loss, it's not about private vs gov't...

Yes and No. Mostly you are missing the point. I agree that it isn't about profit and loss, but that's because that is an economics explanation for what humans do. We do it whether we think in terms of profits and losses, private and public, and so on. We do it because we think in terms of yours and mine or your way and my way.

You are over-thinking species survival. We know a thing or two about species survival, but the main way we do it is not to agree on how to do it. If your band of a couple hundred humans can't really agree on what approach is best to survive, they'll likely try every approach. The 'winners' get to help feed the losers. Since we aren't stupid, losers eventually learn to imitate winners if they survive to try. If separate bands can't agree, they try what they think will work. Again, winners get to have babies and people who imitate them.

It isn't about profits and losses unless some clade decides it is... for them. If we win, y'all will be imitating us later. If we lose and manage to survive, we will be imitating you later.

That's what humans do even when the sky is falling. We gamble ourselves and our children that we are right instead of those other folks who are doing that crazy thing over there OR we conform. Usually, we can find N+1 approaches being tried in a group of N people since conformity is never perfect either.

Think your approach is better? Okay. I get it.
However, I think my approach is better. Now what? 8)

yana said...

Alfred Differ thought:

"You are over-thinking species survival."

I don't think that's possible. It's what we do, we do all of it for that.

"Usually, we can find N+1 approaches being tried in a group of N people since conformity is never perfect either."

That's a universal, similar aphorisms in every language, and the basis for a lot of good jokes about mammals walking into bars. Oh wait, there's that one with the duck, so let's just say fauna walking into bars. We don't have a hive mind but we're still social animals. Every idea can be an N+1 but the better ideas eventually tally up N-1.

"Think your approach is better? Okay. I get it.
However, I think my approach is better. Now what? 8)

Just rank 'em. The potential extinction events, plus probability and plus our ability.

It's plain as a nose, a big impact is at the top of the list, over CME's and gamma bursts, and losing the moon and the expanding sun, and the moot "heat death" theory. A neighbor star is starting to encroach on our fuzz of rocks, Andromeda might someday crash into the Milky Way.

We can only fight what we can fight, later on we can fight more, and the clearest way to beat a big impact is to spread out as soon as possible. Luckily, we are social animals, and we will unite warmly around only one thing, species survival. People, in general, globally, are quite ready for something to build towards instead of looking for something to tear down. I hope we can use the memory of Tunguska to point the webbed mind in the right way, rather than having to wait for the Ruhr Impact of 2026 to get our asses motivated.

duncan cairncross said...


Just think about it
For the same cost as ONE incredibly vulnerable colony on the moon we could have thousands of reinforced survival refuges on the earth

The odds of one of thousands of refuges on a habitable planet surviving are millions of times better than the odds of one colony on the moon surviving

*bot said...

>> Tim Wolter said...

You have Trump, also Trudeau and Macron... Chicholina in Italy.
So, our elections proved to be in democratic trends of the world. Heh.
Before first tour was fear (or hope? for someone) that RFia would commit something reckless.
That's all important diffs.
Hardly you'd be interested in more details.

>> David Brin said...

\\And note that deniability war is exactly what Putin expertly wages against Georgia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and the entire west.

At last, some to the core questions. Glad if it become possible due to my "stupid rants" too. Kudos!

\\most of them Lenin-raised former commissars(!)

Perhaps you wanted to say Stalin-raised? Because, some USSR history trivia -- all "Lenin-raised" was killed in Great Purge.

Well, even that not exactly true... current generation of KG... now it called FSB... like your FBI in direct translation. Raised by Andropov -- do you know such name?

And they no more communists in any way, only power hungry cynics -- product of Great Stalls.

And. Thank you for showing me how ignorance can be evolutionary successful.

>> Mike Will said...
\\Of course, an ELE, verified SETI signal, or the arrival of strong AI would change all this calculus overnight.

That kinda pink swans. Real black swans and tech advances... much less predictable. Like, who was able to predict iPhone?

>> Alfred Differ said...
\\However, I think my approach is better. Now what? 8)

Beware of commissars in dusty helmets... like yana. ;)

>> Howard Brazee said...
\\Does he really believe Kim is that dumb?

Yep. Because. He is genius. (sarcasm) :)))

>> yana said...
\\If The Postman was written today, he'd be a cableguy who conned his way into a job reactivating old cell towers

Sorry yana. But that impossible to fix with mere screwdriver.
That same is the whole point in impossibility of your idea "to refuge to the Moon, Just Now".

>> duncan cairncross said...
\\...we could have thousands of reinforced survival refuges on the earth

and in the ocean deeps. ;)

David Brin said...

Welcome back, bot-man. I hope things go better now.

“Perhaps you wanted to say Stalin-raised? Because, some USSR history trivia -- all "Lenin-raised" was killed in Great Purge.”

Good point. But I meant raised by Leninism, which is only somewhat related to Marxism.

Now please make shorter postings.

*bot said...

\\But I meant raised by Leninism, which is only somewhat related to Marxism.

Leninism become extinct with Lenin's death. Stalinism existed till death of Stalin.
Then it swiftly become Khruschevism, than Brejnevism... and all was ended with Gorbachev tried to "change something without changing anything" -- Perestroika.

What are important for our topic -- its short epoch of Andropovism... as it is exact ideology of current Putinism.
With his "peace with West... through showing strength". As it was with Afgan War.

Jon S. said...

"The odds of one of thousands of refuges on a habitable planet surviving are millions of times better than the odds of one colony on the moon surviving"

True, as long as Vault-Tec isn't involved in building them, meanwhile repurposing most of them as experiments on their inhabitants (a moment of silence, please, for Vaults 22 and 94, victims of biological experimentation so virulent they corrupted the entire surrounding region after breaking the Vault doors...).

Darrell E said...

It seems very unlikely that having a small presence on the moon, a few hundred or thousand people, will save our species in the event that we are wiped off the Earth. I think it will take much more than that. A few hundred or thousand people on the moon will simply die a little bit later. What would be needed is an entire self sustaining infrastructure off Earth. Access to all necessary resources, the tools to extract and process the resources, the tools to turn those resources into food, air, all those tools and equipment and a diverse and large enough population to contain all of the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to do all the things that would be required to maintain a society that is absolutely dependent on technology.

I do think it is important that we get started on developing that capability. Well, I suppose we have. In any case it isn't something that we can accomplish in a few years or likely even decades. Perhaps if there were an ELE that was both undeniably evident and gave us 30 years warning a planet-wide all out effort might achieve a self-sustaining off Earth colony with some chance of staying alive and reconstituting a thriving civilization. Maybe. Otherwise, it will take a lot longer. But by all means let's get started in a serious way. Go SpaceX!

Tacitus said...


You seem to be addressing a reply to me, but for something said by someone else.

Please try to keep focus here. And if this is going to be your ongoing screen name, keep that consistent also.

There is by the way no need to comment on every thread. Some will be in areas specific to the expertise of some individuals and not others. Some threads are, I'll be honest here, just not worth the time.

But to suggest a topic where you may have insights we would enjoy, tell us about the electoral process in the Ukraine these days. It looks very interesting.


Mike Will said...

It's not just the bucolic serenity of high school I miss. I also long for the distant past when diversity wasn't a political discussion, it was a biological reality.
Homo luzonensis

Larry Hart said...

Even Republicans can't pretend to believe that Benedict Donald has "no idea what Wikileaks is". It's a little strange that this would be a hill to die on, since it doesn't really compare in severity to many other lies that the lickspittle Republicans dutifully defend. However, I think what this one might have that others don't is that it is so "We've always been at war with Eastasia" in contradicting still-recent memory that being asked to believe it feels to much like an insult to accept.

Most Republicans are expressing much satisfaction that Assange will be held accountable for his crimes. Whether they really believe that, given how much harm he did to Hillary Clinton and the DNC, is another matter, but that's what they're saying. One Republican who did not express satisfaction, however, is Donald Trump, who surely knows that the sudden availability of such an important material witness is not good news for him. So, when asked about the arrest on Thursday, the President said he has no idea what Wikileaks is. That's what is known as a "baldfaced lie," since Trump regularly praised the site on the campaign trail, and "We love Wikileaks" was one of the main applause lines at his rallies. Other prominent members of the GOP, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC), Sen. Lindsey "Chameleon" Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) pretty much threw the President under the bus, telling reporters that they were mystified by his past support for Wikileaks and his current "ignorance" of the site. More trouble in GOP paradise?

*bot said...

>> Tim Wolter said...

You asked me about our Ukraine elections. And I have had time to think how to answer. And that is what i honestly was able to come up with... without knowing what exactly could be interesting/understandable to you.
Well, it seems you forgot your question. Sorry.

About threads. Engine of this blog is just old, and doesn't support such everywhere present today feature as tree-view comments...

>> Darrell E said...

Problem is... we are part of our Earth biosphere. But our techs too. Like, we need coal to burn to produce iron. And for that we depend badly from oxygen produced by all creatures with chloroplasts here on Earth.
So, to be able to live in Space we either... need to take our biosphere with us or... know how to produce new biospheres.

Tacitus said...


I see. Thanks for the answer, brief though it was. I was thrown off a bit by your seeming to "quote" me. Tim Wolter said..., followed by marching lines of text is not communicating well.

You do me a disservice in assuming I am not interested in more detail. The front runner being a TV comic? The various crises going on in the Donets region? How much power does the president have as opposed to other factions? The Ukraine is an important country these days. Heck, I'd even be interested in the latest odd news, the former Prosecutor who claims to have important information but is only willing to share it with US officials in person...

So you see, I do pay attention. This is all fascinating stuff. Please give us your insights.


*bot said...

\\The front runner being a TV comic?

And your Trump TV person too.
Well, here is example of his show, you can try to watch, with auto-translated subs. That show exist for more than ten years now. And all the time it was quite (anti?)political.

\\The various crises going on in the Donets region?

Well, it occupied. By RFia. What else could it be, the results of the occupation?
Crimea have "various crises" too. As well as Georgia's occupied territories Abhasia and Osetia.
Syria, to boot.
You see a pattern, isn't it?

\\How much power does the president have as opposed to other factions?

You mean current one (and I hope future too -- yes)? Poroshenko?
Well, he have coalition in our Parliament -- Rada (meaning "consult committee"). And I hope will give a good fight on next parliaments. Which are This year too.

\\The Ukraine is an important country these days.

Thank you. Though I understand its not a praise. :(

\\Heck, I'd even be interested in the latest odd news.

Well, most recent odd news... its that our first tour winner and wanna be president, that comic... could not agree to came on debates he firstly proposed. And cannot give his blood for drugs tests properly, though he was one who proposed it too.

But it is not so differ from your POTUS behavior, isn't it?

Treebeard said...

Yana, nothing survives in this universe, so you are fighting a losing battle. Making animal survival your highest motivator is, I would suggest, never gonna fly. Survival is the lowest common denominator motivator; try aiming higher. You need symbolism, myth and metaphor to really motivate people, not a war on rocks. In any case, there's no need to unite humanity around anything; where do you get that crazy idea? It's much more likely to be breakaway factions of crazies, pirates, pariahs and cultists who settle space, as they did the earth (see the USA). This fantasy of humanity uniting in some global Federation and going into space in some rational and orderly fashion is just that; it's not how we operate, outside of TV shows and socialist central plans. Do you live in an ivory tower and read science fiction all day or something?

Tacitus said...


You keep bending your answers back to US politics. This is distracting, but see below.

A few more questions if I may.

Would the comic make a reasonable president? Perhaps we should call him an actor. Ronald Reagan appeared in some comedies and is held by many, although of course not all, to have been a decent president at least in his first term.

What is the plan regards the Donets basin? Does the Ukraine appeal to the United Nations?

There have been all sorts of odd US/Ukraine stories of late. Yesterday a former Obama White House counsel (Greg Craig) was charged with being an unregistered lobbyist for Ukrainian interests.


This really is interesting to me. But if others here tell me to get back on topic I of course will do so.


*bot said...

I just trying to refer to examples that known to you.

1. Who knows? I already shown examples.
But for now biggest question is -- is her independent actor... or marionette?

2. Its all in hands of RFia... and gun of USA pointed at Rfia, to make em move their hands. ;)

3. About that Greg... dunno, Its not important for in-UA, obviously.

Kal Kallevig said...


This came in a newsletter yesterday. It confirms your comments regarding solar panel return on energy invested. But building enough of these to replace fossil fuels remains a challenge that may not be met.

A study in the journal Sustainable Energy & Fuels from Stanford researchers finds “the energy produced over the lifetime of typical rooftop solar panels more than makes up for the energy it takes to make, mount and then eventually recycle them,” as succinctly summarized by Stanford’s news service.

Examining solar output in five different states — Alaska, Arizona, Florida, New York, and Washington — researchers found the energy return on investment is even higher than previously believed. Previous studies vary, but some estimate that energy output from solar panels is around nine times the energy invested.

This new study found solar’s energy payout ratio could reach all the way up to 27 in Arizona, and even hit 14 in Alaska when homeowners can send surplus power to the grid.
The EROI decreases more than 20 percent when adding a 12 kWh Lithium-ion battery, the researchers said. The abstract notes that:

"Installing PV systems in locations with good solar resources and a grid that can accept excess production is desirable for maximizing the net energy return from distributed PV systems. Batteries have a benefit when excess electricity generation cannot be fed into the grid. Oversizing batteries has the effect of significantly reducing the EROI of the PV system."

The study is chiefly concerned with EROI, rather than any other benefits of batteries. In the end, the researchers concluded:
"Our results highlight the value of placing PV generation systems in geographical locations with high insolation, policies that encourage sales of excess generation back to the grid, and judicious use of battery storage to avoid curtailment."

Darrell E said...


One obvious criticism of that study is the reliance on a grid that can accept excess production in order to achieve the high EROI numbers they estimate. They seem to be showing that it's good for early adopters but only as long as the energy storage buck can be passed down the line. At some point, for solar to be widely adopted energy storage will have to be included and accounted for.

Also, what of total carbon footprint? And are their numbers based on actual measured production and use over a year or more?

Kal Kallevig said...


I have not analyzed the Stanford report to see if their methodology is reasonable, it is a reasonable question, but I can not see how any other method would have been reasonable for a study. Perhaps you can find the study and do that analysis?

As long as a system is grid connected there is no need for storage, at least not until renewables are so pervasive as to eliminate the need for back up grid power. At some point the grid may need storage, depending on how it is designed and constructed. If it covers a wide enough area none might be needed.

But I prefer the idea of widely distributed small grids and these would indeed need storage.

David Brin said...

“Leninism become extinct with Lenin's death. Stalinism existed till death of Stalin.”

No. The official doctrine of state planning, Five Year Plans, Gulags and using class warfare to justify tyranny, these were all standard Leninism. Stalin modified the PRACTICE to include mass murder and elimination of all argument. But the “ism” remained Leninism.

The Afghan War was Breszhnev. Andropov was scary. But he laid the seeds of reform. And Yeltsin was helped by Bush Senior to throw it all away.

Treebeard starts with what might be the confederate-troglodyte-romantic-tribalist anthrm: “You need symbolism, myth and metaphor to really motivate people, not a war on rocks.”

Yes! That exactly describes the essence of the Confederacy/fascism. Objective reality sucks! Facts sometimes contradict some of my catechisms and comfortable incantations! So make everything about symbolism! So what if you wallow hypocritically in ten thousand comforts lavished upon ingrates by a civilization that’s more successful in every desideratum (including a cornucopia of symbolisms) that all others combined. Smart people keep seeing through YOUR clutched symbolisms, so death to all smart people!

And he accuses us of living in an ivory tower? Har. But still, this one was better than usual.

Strange. *bot was terse and efficient answering Tim, when Tim asked for specifics about Ukraine.

Tacitus said...


Efficient but either evasive or perhaps in the instance of yet another variation on "bot" a different individual.

Actually very little in the way of details.

And the command of idiom remains all over the map.

Strange. With that I concur.


duncan cairncross said...


As we get more EV's then the cost of storage will drop - this includes the energy cost

As cars have a relatively short life (20 years) there will be a continual flow of storage batteries that have already "paid for themselves" - these effectively give "free" storage

Over the long term - (50 years) we will have an abundance of "already paid for" storage to go with solar panels that are over 30 years old but still operating at usable efficiencies

The future looks good

It's the next 40 years that look problematic

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Treebeard starts with what might be the confederate-troglodyte-romantic-tribalist anthrm: “You need symbolism, myth and metaphor to really motivate people, not a war on rocks.”

Yes! That exactly describes the essence of the Confederacy/fascism. Objective reality sucks! Facts sometimes contradict some of my catechisms and comfortable incantations! So make everything about symbolism! ...

Treebeard isn't wrong that a particular subset of people has values exactly as he describes. His fallacy seems to be ascribing that to the general population, presuming that humans in general are like that, and that liberalism violates human nature instead of just Confederate nature.

David Brin said...

It is the quinessesnce of zero-sum thinking. Which leads to genocide.

Mike Will said...

Facts over symbols, I like it. Maybe math isn't just anthropomorphic, maybe it's fascistic.

*bot said...

Mike, please place emo-monikers with such claims. "Poe's law" you know.

>> David Brin said...

Here is an example of "lost in translation" effect. Ivan the Terrible. Wiki trying to mitigate it by proposing Ivan Grozny; "Ivan the Formidable" or "Ivan the Fearsome".
But more correct translation would be "dangerous". As root word for Grozny is the same as in groza/rainsorm or ugroza/danger.

John The Dangerous -- isn't it look differ and sounds another way?

\\Stalin modified the PRACTICE to include mass murder and elimination of all argument. But the “ism” remained Leninism.

I do not understand where and how you draw line of divide here... I showed just above how differences even with mere spelling/translation can be missleading.

\\The Afghan War was Breszhnev. Andropov was scary. But he laid the seeds of reform. And Yeltsin was helped by Bush Senior to throw it all away.

Breszhnev become more and more senile, while staying on his post. Because, its how USSR system was working.
And anyway, who do you think prepared plans and provided info for him about Afgan?

What reforms you are talking bout? What "help from Bush"? WAT???

\\Strange. *bot was terse and efficient answering Tim, when Tim asked for specifics about Ukraine.

Well. I positively don't get it.As well as the reason behind your ban activities.Its something in between lost in translation and/or cultural differences.

In russian speaking Inet I never saw demands like "write more terse". More often it's like "too much to read" self-excuse.And jokes about "generation of twitter".

Well, it can be named as reason for ban, but in a bunch with or to masquarade more subtle reason "I don't like you".And reason for "I don't like you" is "hamstvo", real or pretended -- foul-mouthing/trolling or just speaking something across prevalent opinion.

David Brin said...

It's too bad pBot did not understand my reasons. That means he will do it again. Insisting that HE knows what *I* meant to say, and screaming at me that I have said things that I never said. Sometimes the OPPOSITE of what I said.

When I complain that "I did not say that" he insists on repeating that I did. When I explain in detail what I actually said, he ignores my explanations.

When I cite 150 years of Marxist thought he first declares that he never heard of it, so it can't be true.
Then he says that millions of Marxists who studied and deeply believed the literature could never have believed a word. And even if Marx said it, there is no way that anyone ever believed it. And he accused me of many sis and character flaws for citing things that HE COULD JUST LOOK UP... if he showed the admirable trait called curiosity.

I am tired of this process. I had hoped that Pbot would understand the problem and change his reflex to immediately make accusations. He could instead say: "Did you mean this___?

It is what mature people do, when they argue. It is called paraphrasing. LOOK UP THE TERM! If you try it, you might like it. If you refuse, then you will do the same thing again. Perhaps tomorrow. And the next ban will be for a week.

Too bad. I actually think you are a pretty smart guy.


*bot said...

Well. I really don't get it.

Isn't my words like "What reforms you are talking bout? What "help from Bush"?" *is* correct form of paraphrazing in English?

Do I need to repeat "Do you mean" every time?

It's not like against it, I just didn't see use of such rules anywhere...

If topics about Marx is so emotional to you... maybe its better for me to not answer on it at all?

*bot said...

\\When I cite 150 years of Marxist thought he first declares that he never heard of it, so it can't be true.

150 years of history... and there was numerous versions and flavours of "Marxist thought".
So countless, that even experts could not know ALL... and I'm not expert and see no merit in trying to became one. Not for the sake of "knowing the thoughts of the Marx".

Well, because I already know about it... more than I'd want... too.

\\Then he says that millions of Marxists who studied and deeply believed the literature could never have believed a word.

Which exactly "millions of Marxists"? There is billion of Chinese, some Cuba folk, etc. I cannot claim I know about and never tried to claim it.

I can tell only about late USSR and post-soviet Ukraine. And here, for sure. I'm the witness. Virtually nobody "studied and deeply believed the literature"... marxist books was only standing on farthest dustiest shelves. Nobody come close, out of own free will and interest.

And most used, readed to tear-off books... was relatively rare rough-printed books of western scifi... well, ams mostly.

\\And even if Marx said it, there is no way that anyone ever believed it.

The same as Church monopolized right to read and to explain Bible. The same was in USSR with reading Marx.
And double as it, with trying to use quotes from his writings in disputes. Directly.
Only from currently prevailed and Allowed, Edited by State Power Version. Stalin's version. Khruschov's. Breznev's...

And even that, was allowed only to "clergy" -- higher ranked members of The Party.
Ordinary people could win tourist's tour into Gulag for just try.

\\And he accused me of many sis and character flaws for citing things that HE COULD JUST LOOK UP... if he showed the admirable trait called curiosity.

My curiosity is about Your Understanding and interest in Marx...
because there hardly can be something new, yet more something interesting to me, about Marx himself. By obvious reason. That I already quite fed up of him, as person born in USSR.

It's like I'd complaint -- why you do not want to try McDonald's MacMenu... :)))))))) that's so new, so delicious. For me. But hardly to you, isn't it?

Jon S. said...

Bot, "Marxist" means a philosophy derived from the works of Karl Marx. Lenin and Stalin based their ideas (in some cases quite loosely) on Marxism, and thus created Stalinism. Stalinist thought continued to dominate Soviet actions until after Gorbachev took office.

The philosophy is not named for whichever person is administering it at the moment - North Korea is a Stalinist state, even though Kim Jong Un couldn't be mistaken for Josef Stalin by a nearsighted man at midnight.

*bot said...

Well... that's western meaning, for sure. Well, not exactly western. American flavour of thought.

I'm sure if we'd have someone from France, or Britain, or Germany. Our talk could become even more controversial. Like real InterNational. ;)

\\North Korea is a Stalinist state, even though Kim Jong Un

I more then sure that NKorean would not agree with you on that. ;)

Alfred Differ said...


Just rank 'em.

Not really needed here. Of all the ways we could check out that involve us sitting around essentially doing nothing about cosmic risks, I already agree with you that having the sky fall on us is the most likely one. I DO remember one of my profs pointing out that the heat death has already occurred if you try to account for all the energy in the universe and not just the baryonic component, but that's a different point. Falling rocks are why the dinosaurs needed a space program.

My concern is there are many other ways for us to check out that are more immediately likely and a single-minded focus on establishing a colony on Luna will bring about one of them. Of all the ways we could die out, I think the most likely would be a self-inflicted return to feudalism. No space rock would be needed because the world would erupt with high tech weaponry when billions of us began to starve. By the time we were done poisoning ourselves almost to oblivion and returning to living with the pigs in our own filth, we wouldn't have the wherewithal to occupy other worlds. If we survived the self-inflicted wound, your space rock could arrive any time in the next few thousand years and finish us off.

This civilization being what it is and doing what it does is your best bet for those off-world colonies. That means you need us to be ornery (because we already are), disinclined to single-minded goals (because of SOA), and selfish thinkers lead by Smith's invisible hand (because we already do that and it has lifted us out of our filth, saved our babies, and educated the masses.)

Alfred Differ said...


Relax my friend. Our host actually reads you. That's an accomplishment. 8)
You don't have to convince him on every point you have to make.
That would probably take God-like powers... and maybe more.

You are talking to a lot of westerners here and can bring your unique perspective to help us.
What you won't get us to do, though, is alter the terms of the language we use.
What you CAN get us to do is expand the terms if you make a good case for doing so.

For example, we see a strong difference between Marx, Marxism, Followers of Marx claiming to be Marxists, Followers of those followers claiming to be Marxists, and so on. The same expanding web of variation and inconsistency applies to Adam Smith too. Pretty much everyone gets misunderstood, misapplied, intentionally misapplied, and taught to a future generation by the ignorant. I encountered this recently trying to wrap my mind around what Aristotle meant by 'motion.' It's not the term for him that we use today. I had to accept my ignorance and face up to the fact that I didn't care enough to figure it out.

*bot said...

Well, Alfred, that much I know myself. As even dr.Brin admitted, I am smart enough.

But sadly, I really have *no* god-powers what so ever. Or even lots of experience with foreigners from USA. Especially smart ones.

So, the sole possibility for me to try to understand is in trying to talk, with all honesty and knowledge I have, and in trying to analyze your answers...

As for Marx... all even worse, because his "thoughts" have no real world correlations (as it is with Smith), so it is more akin to discussing any religious, theological doctrines. And I do not understand behavior, cannot read emotions of dr.Brin. As it seems he know it, that "Marx thought" is religious-like scam. He have written it himself here. But still, taking it too close to his heart... my revelations as a witness of it.

duncan cairncross said...

If you read Marx you will find that his diagnosis of the problems with capitalism is right on the money
His predictions about what would happen next - not so good - even useless
But his diagnosis was very good

Smith is even better - if you read what the man actually wrote you will find that he was right almost all of the time

*bot said...

Mike Will said...

Re: Poe's Law
I did use two maybes, so I'm at least partially covered. I also didn't expand on it, it was just an idea that flashed across my brain like a proverbial ghost in the machine. Of course I love math, it's an old and trusted friend. I must note this however. Some civilizations have used symbols, myth, metaphor, and language as tools to travel beyond the horizon. But some have allowed these servants to become their masters, following them into inhumanity. Most of those 'civilizations' burned out quickly and horribly. Still others have wandered in the desert of ignorance for centuries, mistaking utility for truth, not knowing the map from the territory (see: Ptolemy). Dogma is the mind-killer.

Alfred Differ: Pretty much everyone gets misunderstood...

Amen. In a very real way and tragic sense, every man is an island.
“People understand me so poorly that they don't even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.” - Soren Kierkegaard

*bot said...

Well, while here/there(not sure what word to use here) is Reality,
we always can find a way to communicate about it... like that Laputa Scientists. ;)
That is the pleasure of physics and materialism in general...

But... if only one of opponents starting to commit detours into idealism...
it all become hopeless, and fast. Space of idealistic thought is just Omega Infinity. :)))

Though it is just in circling endlessly around "strange attractor" of Reality. :P

David Brin said...

"because his "thoughts" have no real world correlations"

This is absurd. Almost any page of Marx is about such correlations. There were thousands. He was very smart and knowledgable. It was proof of the scientific truth that many correlations do not prove a theory. It is predictions that make a theory useful. And Marx's prediuctions were wrong.

Bush sent advisors to "help" Yeltsin transform soviet state enterprises into working companies. They helped societ commissars to steal the companies and become oligarch billionaires.

*bot said...

Well, you said it yourself "prediuctions were wrong".

You really think KGB needed such help so badly.

Jon S. said...

"I more then sure that NKorean would not agree with you on that."

Probably not, no. After all, that could be seen as a criticism of Dear Leader, and criticism of Dear Leader is unthinkable, at least if one wishes one's family to survive. (Also, it's not like North Korea is famous for its wide-ranging educational system, nor its thorough analysis of history.)

Mike Will said...

Stratolaunch takes flight. RIP Paul Allen (one of my heroes).

I was hoping for an outside loop, but no.

TCB said...

Hell's bells, I still think Nixon's Opening to China (TM) was a bad, bad idea.

Everybody else in this collective political bedlam seems to want to list it as one of his top "accomplishments".

David Brin said...

Argh! The chief deviation of Leninism from Marxism was to attempt to explain why everything Lenin was doing fit into Marxism, despite its failure to predict the Russian Revolution.

The chief deviation of Stalinism from Marxism was to attempt to explain why everything Stalin was doing fit into Marxism, despite its failure to predict the Stalin's murderous despotism.

Deng Xiao Peng did the same thing. And Xi's politburo issues new interpretations of Marxism every few months.

Any attempt to claim that I am being inconsistent does not reflect on me, but on poor pBot's lack of knowledge about any of these things and his near total lack of curiosity.

Larry Hart said...

This thought popped unbidden into my head, so I thought I'd share it here...

I wonder when we'll see our first incident of road rage by a driverless car.

You know it will happen. :)

David Brin said...

Just watched the Black Mirror episode where a driverless pizza van hits a guy.

David Brin said...



Alfred Differ said...

A billion formerly starving Chinese angry at us for not doing what we could do to prevent that future as compared to the future we got? I'll take that trade and give Nixon some credit for it if it helps. Anyone else deserve credit for it too? Let's share it around.

I think the world is far better off without a large fraction of humanity starving and slaughtering each other. Way better off. 8)

duncan cairncross said...

I agree with Alfred - Nixon opening China was one of the best thing that he did

The fact that the 0.01% then used that as an opportunity to kill the unions by outsourcing manufacturing jobs was not inherent in that decision