Saturday, January 09, 2021

If only our heroes were nimble instead of plodding. Not just good, but agile.

So many things happening all at once. I am juggling ten projects, reviving old favorites like the Uplift Series, plus my great old YA series and a nonfiction book about science fiction and Hollywood... and more! Stay tuned for news... 

...that is, after we save the Earth and a human civilization that may become worthy of the stars. That's all. No more than that is at stake, teetering these very weeks.

And yes, I have proposals for how to run forward, toward that better future. I'll be offering many... without any hope or expectation that any of them will be noted even slightly by those leading the Good Side in this battle to save the Enlightenment Experiment. We have many decent/skilled folks -- and not one apparently has the imagination of a squirrel.

Expect that I'll opine on...

SHORT TERM - you all know I've been yammering about methods to expedite either impeachment or the 25th Amendment that appeared in Polemical Judo, methods that still could be valid and useful, even now...

...along with a way for the three Americans who should not stand near each other till all this poisonous dust settles -- Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi -- to nonetheless put on an Inauguration that's both spectacularly memorable and hugely safe. 

...along with a dozen super-quick actions Pelosi-Schumer could push through the new Congress in a day... even next week... some of them quick bills taking up one page... or even one sentence(!)... that would demonstrate grit, determination, common sense and utterly devastating repudiation of Trumpism. (Example: a one-sentence bill clarifying that Secret Service agents are not personal servants - an implicit, devastating, eviscerating rebuke of Trump that also would make friends where Joe needs them, ASAP. There are other zinger bills like that, that few Republicans would dare to oppose or even delay.)

...plus my warning to any incoming reps or administration officials to watch the damn Borat movie and heed its clearest lesson, not to get snared into blackmail traps! Seriously, there is no other explanation for what's happened in DC, and you can bet the KGB lures are out, right now, seeking to sink hooks into naïve new Washingtonian power folk. So warn any pols or civil servants you know. Especially... well... the male ones, or the ones who have male relatives.)

MEDIUM TERM - I have offered a great way to hold together the Coalition for National (and world) Salvation, by presenting 31 consensus goals that all democrats and even some sane republicans (they exist!) can share

Dear liberals, look over the list and tell us you can keep some discipline and stay with the program till these 31 things get done... or else that we all (especially you) won't be better off and better able to make progress from that new level!

LONGER TERM - Yes I will return with many of the proposals I've made in the past, including this 2008 version of things that could likely have prevented Trumpism altogether. (He asserts, arrogantly.) 

Expect repetition. Because I just don't know what else to do. How else to get through.


== Pertinent Miscellany! ==

"Many patients who are hospitalized for COVID-19 are discharged with symptoms such as those associated with a brain injury.... For many affected patients, brain function improves as they recover. But some are likely to face long-term disability... the infection can lead to blood clots that may cause a stroke." And yes, this can happen to the otherwise asymptomatic.
On the other hand, wearing a mask and treating your neighbors with courtesy and science with respect will turn you into a shambling liberal freedom-hating zombie. So... weigh the alternatives.

The silver lining is that we're much readier than before for what's next. If the transition goes well. My Hugo-nominated story “The Giving Plague” explores our complex relationships with viruses. Get it free.

Stepping back, I am surprised by one Biden cabinet choice... a democratic governor for Commerce Secretary, a position Dem presidents usually give to a simpatico Republican, as GOP presidents used to always have a Democrat as Labor Secretary, as a tacit nod to bipartisanship. Back when some degree of consensus was a shared goal. Yes, reliably sane/competent and honest Republicans of high level are very rare, these days. But there must be some? I know one, exiting NASA Director Bridenstine shocked all by coming in and zealously administering with curiosity, respect, competence and enthusiasm. Not NASA's best/brightest or most inspiring, by far, but far from worst, especially in light of the pressures from insane superiors. He could do nothing vs. the Trumpian Moon Footprints Fetishism, a terrible waste of US space talent and resources aimed at repeating what we did 50 years ago. But he defended science and long term investments surprisingly well.

A fascinating study of interrogation methods finds that the technique used by the WWII Luftwaffe’s top interrogator – of relentless (though carefully tactical) friendliness – appears to deliver best results. Think “Good cop, bad cop” but with the bad cop toned way down.  “The Scharff Technique was defined by four key components: 1) a friendly approach, 2) not pressing for information, 3) the illusion of knowing it all, and 4) the confirmation/disconfirmation tactic. (The latter strategy is when an interrogator presents a claim in the hope that the prisoner will confirm or disconfirm it.”

== And NON-political palate-cleaners! ==

An inspiring tale about the first Asian-American woman naval officer who taught air combat during WWII. 

This app Gigwalk lets you earn nano-pay for nano-jobs in your area. I just a couple of months blurbed an SF novel about something like this, see the works of Karl Schroeder!

Now a suggestion for all! The last-quarter-hour vow. Swear off all e- communications during the last quarter of each hour.  If you’re hard core, swear off all ”e” for that quarter hour. But at minimum put down the phone.


153 comments:

Tony Fisk said...

"Example: a one-sentence bill clarifying that Secret Service agents are not personal servants - an implicit, devastating, eviscerating rebuke of Trump that also would make friends where Joe needs them, ASAP."

Along those lines, Joe did recently tweet that he was not intending to regard his newly appointed AG (a certain Mr. Merrick Garland) as his personal lawyer. It would be nice to see a signed version in the statutes, though.

Larry Hart said...

My wife, bless her, who has put up remarkably well with being quarantined with me for close to a year, may be having her patience sorely tested. Tonight, watching the announcement on the news that a new impeachment is near fruition, I remarked that it was too bad we can't go back in time and retroactively impeach him four years ago. Then, after a moment's musing, I continued, "If we had all six Infinity Stones, we could."

She looked at me with a mixture of pity and exasperation.

Russ Abbott said...

Your first reform is "Electoral reform: end gerrymandering, rigged voting machines, voter suppression, and other cheats." Great idea. How do you expect to bring it about? I don't see a path other than to win political control of states that need reform. Of course, that's not easy given that those states are wildly gerrymandered. What is your plan for this?

duncan cairncross said...

Russ Abbot
This is a wonderful opportunity to do the "electoral reform"

The GOP is endlessly crying out about "Election Fraud" - and need an investigation

Biden should respond and set up a big very open investigation into the elections in ALL of the US states with the intention of publishing (and the Federal government paying for) the reforms that are needed to get the USA to catch up with the other Western Democracies

the GOP spent $400 million investigating Hillary so that should be the initial funding for the investigation

I mean THAT is what they are asking for - isn't it?

Der Oger said...

Re: Interrogation techniques:

Perhaps the more direct forms of interrogation play well into the street warrior - cop culture. Also, when I still worked in mental health, I often observed colleagues who had a cold and unfeeling approach when interviewing clients, and got frustrated at their luck of results (to the point of outright envy and interpersonal conflicts.)

Building stable relationships but keeping a professional distance is an art, but it can be taught. For starters, I recommend to train active listening skills.

Tony Fisk said...

That black officer being chased up the stairs?
He confronted the mob briefly at the top, before leading them *away* from the open doors to the Senate chamber (they were closed a minute later)

Quick thinking!

TruePath said...

Didn't Bridenstein get in trouble for violating bidding rules and helping Boeing or something? I think he had good motives but still might be an image concern.

Peter Gerdes said...

Also these studies of interpratation mechanisms really should be clear on the type of info being sought.

It's a very different situation when you are seeking info you can confirm (password/encryption key/checkable deployment info) then she. you are seeking open ended information.

Larry Hart said...

There is all sorts of outrage out there that platforms like Twitter and Facebook are (belatedly) censoring one political side unfairly. Maybe what we need is some kind of formal declaration of war. If, say, Hitler had had his own show on an American radio station in the 1930s, there would be no ambiguity or First Amendment issue in kicking his ass off the air after we were officially at war with Germany in 1941. A 1940s version of FOX or OANN broadcasting Nazi propaganda would have been shut down for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The First Amendment would not prevent that, because that's what a declaration of war implies.

I understand that, in this case, there is no state or country to formally declare war on. But the fact is, we are at war with a faction of people whose aim is armed overthrow of the government and who have already taken violent action toward that end. There has to be a method by which We The People as a nation can forcefully oppose such treason without being bound to treat both sides--attackers and defenders of the United States--as having equal standing.

What that method might look like--that's an exercise for smart people to figure out. Low hanging fruit (which unfortunately would be easy for them to hide) is that we're at war with anyone in an enemy uniform, which includes Nazi symbols, and the Confederate flag.* The point isn't to shoot them on sight (though that might come--see Holnists) but to legally treat them with prejudice when it comes to their rights to say and do whatever they want.

* I'd personally include MAGA hats in that list, but it could be argued that 70 million Americans believe those to be pro-American symbols. The others are actual emblems of actual enemies of the actual United States.

Larry Hart said...

Russ Abbott:

I don't see a path other than to win political control of states that need reform.


That's why I had to laugh (pitiably) when...Was it the state or federal supreme court?...overturned an anti-gerrymandering law in Wisconsin, declaring that the remedy was at the ballot box.

Larry Hart said...

Sundays at electoral-vote.com have recently been reserved for letters from readers. The first one today is way too long to post even a representative sample, but I feel as if I could have written every word (though I did not), and it's well worth the time for anyone who cares to read the whole thing. Here's the concluding paragraph, for a taste:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Pres/Maps/Jan10.html#item-1

...
The only good thing to come of this whole sorry incident is that Sen. Josh Hawley's (R-MO) political dreams are in ruins. His name will lie on the trash heap of American history along with Benedict Arnold, Trump, Aldrich Ames, Robert Hansen, John Wilkes Booth, and Lee Harvey Oswald, where it belongs. As Romney responded to Hawley, "The best way we could show respect for the voters who were upset is by telling them the truth. That's the burden. That's the duty of leadership." With that in mind, I hope after the immediate concerns of getting Trump out of office, expelling or censuring Hawley, Cruz, Gaetz, Greene and Gohmert, and arresting all the insurrectionists are all take care of, a serious look is given to how Fox News and other conservative media peddle disinformation and conspiracy theories to their viewers. They need to be held accountable for giving these insurrectionists a place to thrive. As we have laws that make sure we know what is in our food (in other words, that a company can't take rat meat and label it as beef), we need cable and Internet news to clearly differentiate between reporting and opinion. Way too much opinion is masquerading as news, and while everyone is entitled to an opinion, they are not entitled to have their nonsense be given the sheen of authenticity. These things might seen harsh to some, but harshness is what is needed right now to convince those that can be redeemed that Trumpism should go the way of fascism in Germany after World War II. These might seem to all be one-sided against the Republicans, but there wasn't a single Democrat, liberal, socialist, Antifa, or progressive breaking windows, stealing lecterns or tracking their barnyard bathroom habits across the rotunda. Some in the Republican party, and all in the alt-right movement need to grow up, clean their rooms and get their sh*t together. And that's not harsher than they deserve. Stop acting like the two year olds and join the adults at the table, where you will always be welcome, but your howls of rage and self-pity now fall on deaf ears.

Dennis M Davidson said...

@Russ Abbott

Biden Next Steps: Gerrymandering
Appoint former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Attorney General Eric Holder to head a bipartisan working group to coordinate state-level efforts in bringing about an end to the practice of gerrymandering congressional & state legislative districts. No need to reinvent the wheel with this issue vis-à-vis another ‘Commission’ or ‘War on XYZ’. This can build on Schwarzenegger’s prior efforts in getting support for independent redistricting in CA, MI, OH, CO and elsewhere.

Robert said...

A question.

I was reading that Moscow Mitch will only consider impeachment articles in the Senate after Biden's inauguration.

Does that mean that Trump would then be, legally, a "former president" even if he's convicted and so entitled to the pension, SS protection, office expenses, etc? As opposed to considering them before, which would mean that he wouldn't be?

Could this be what made Trump agree to concede? That if he didn't he would be taken down while he was still president and so lose his million dollar a year bodyguard, etc?

scidata said...

In response to continued threats of violence, Silicon Gulch finally stirs from its slumber and starts to issue permanent bans.
Begun, the Transistor Wars have.

Larry Hart said...

Another (shorter) letter from the same electoral-vote.com page above...


D.Y. in Windsor, UK, writes: You and many others have correctly pointed out that the mob's invasion of the Capitol is an example of white privilege. There is little doubt that if most of the mob were black or Muslim, as Joe Scarborough said, police would have used deadly force instead of opening the doors.

But I would suggest that there's something else at work too: Republican privilege.

As a historian, I recognize the limited value of counterfactuals, but it's not too hard to imagine what would have happened if the situation in 2000 were reversed, with Al Gore ahead by hundreds of votes in Florida but thousands of potential Republican ballots uncounted. If Democrats had perpetrated the Brooks Brothers riot and deprived George W. Bush of victory rather than the other way around, the right wing would have blown a gasket.

Could you imagine what Tucker Carlson would have said if a Democratic senator objected to Florida's Electoral College votes in 2000? If Democratic members of county election boards refused to certify a Republican victory? If Democrat-controlled state legislatures considered appointing their own slate of electors? If a Democratic candidate filed over 60 lawsuits to change the vote counts? If a Democratic president kept insisting that he'd won against all evidence? If a mob of Democrats swarmed the Capitol? And if Democratic politicians then claimed that the mob was infiltrated by right-wing insurgents?

Trump supporters in 2016 called Democrats "snowflakes" and told them to get over it. Seems to me that in addition to often being hypocrites and white supremacists, many are themselves snowflakes, unable to cope with loss and unwilling to accept facts they don't like. Trump supporters seem to believe that Democrats cannot legitimately exercise power. This week proves that it's actually Republicans who cannot be trusted to legitimately exercise power. Trump supporters also said that if Democrats won elections again, America would become unrecognizable. Well, given this week's events, I might have to agree on this point—but it's the Trump supporters who made it so.

TCB said...

One of the smarter things the Democrats could do is invite their supporters, in their millions, to come and camp out in downtown Washington in their millions for the next ten days.

What then could a few thousand fascists do?

matthew said...

Robert Reich agrees that 1/6 was an attempted coup. And calls names on who should never hold power again.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/10/trump-coup-capitol-attack-pence-giuliani-fox-news-twitter-facebook-impeachment

Jon S. said...

"Tonight, watching the announcement on the news that a new impeachment is near fruition, I remarked that it was too bad we can't go back in time and retroactively impeach him four years ago. Then, after a moment's musing, I continued, 'If we had all six Infinity Stones, we could.'"

All you'd need for that would be the Time Stone. With all six Stones, you could snap your fingers and cause half the MAGATs to disappear...

matthew said...

Dr. Brin, starting every political post saying that no one listens to you is a good way to ensure that no one listens to you.
I suggest that you instead try to reinforce the message that you have an audience, that your audience includes other people with reach beyond your audience, that you are a trusted adviser, etc. Show some message discipline instead of self-sabotage.

David Brin said...

matthew thank you for perfectly illustrating today's reflexive judgementalism of style vs substance. Not one word about your own potential role in picking some concepts and helping to solve the problem. You talk like a high school gossip.

TCB I'm trying to point out that Dem crowds are coming anyway, Biden doesn't have to put out the call. And spreading out the crowd is more important than saying 'don't come.'

TCB said...

I said "in their millions" twice in a very short comment. Jiminy Christmas I'm getting senile.

If Trump can pardon himself, his friends, and all the Capitol thugs on the 19th, Joe Biden could (but won't) Gitmo the whole lot of them as 'enemy combatants' just like al Qaeda and then pardon himself for doing so, and then announce something to the effect of "Nyah nyah, if you don't like it, let's eliminate or sharply limit the presidential pardon!"

Anyhoo, Dem crowds are indeed coming anyway, but what I do NOT see is anyone organizing a "people tsunami" by asking the Dem supporting public to come and peacefully outnumber the fash a hundred to one. I'd do it myself if anyone listened to me...

... I saw someone describe the Capitol attack as an attempted "auto-golpe" or self-coup. My minor objection is that a golpe is a perfectly respectable flamenco guitar technique. Why do the far right have to steal all the nice things? Also, if you do not punish attempted coups, you won't punish any coups, because you sure won't be punishing the successful ones.

Trump himself has been added to the wiki page for this term. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-coup

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

All you'd need for that would be the Time Stone. With all six Stones, you could snap your fingers and cause half the MAGATs to disappear..


Half the country disappear. About right, actually. :)

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

If Trump can pardon himself, his friends, and all the Capitol thugs on the 19th, Joe Biden could (but won't) Gitmo the whole lot of them as 'enemy combatants' just like al Qaeda and then pardon himself for doing so, and then announce something to the effect of "Nyah nyah, if you don't like it, let's eliminate or sharply limit the presidential pardon!"


As you note, Biden won't do that, but that's exactly the sort of thing he needs to do. He mustn't abuse the powers of the presidency for obvious personal or partisan gain, because that just leads to proof of bothsiderism. But he can and should purposely abuse the power of the presidency in comical ways that force the Republicans to join in on limiting those powers.

"I used the stones to destroy the stones." Damn straight!

Der Oger said...

@Larry Hart: "If, say, Hitler had had his own show on an American radio station in the 1930s, there would be no ambiguity or First Amendment issue in kicking his ass off the air after we were officially at war with Germany in 1941. A 1940s version of FOX or OANN broadcasting Nazi propaganda would have been shut down for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The First Amendment would not prevent that, because that's what a declaration of war implies."

I believe the Smith Act would have applied. From what I could discern, it has been mostly killed by the Supreme Court, and now exists in some form of legal limbo.

Also, there is at least one precedence from the Nuremberg trials: Julius Streicher, the publisher of the Stürmer. (No, I don't say "Hang Hannity, Jones & Carlson". 10.000 hours of social work for each of them might do, too.)

"Low hanging fruit (which unfortunately would be easy for them to hide) is that we're at war with anyone in an enemy uniform, which includes Nazi symbols, and the Confederate flag.* The point isn't to shoot them on sight (though that might come--see Holnists) but to legally treat them with prejudice when it comes to their rights to say and do whatever they want."

Exactly because of days like these, we have forbidden them*. They are not free speech for us, they are a declaration of war against our constitutional order. The Confederate Flag is still allowed, I believe, but the KKK symbols are already forbidden.

https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_stgb/englisch_stgb.html#p0917
https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_stgb/englisch_stgb.html#p0927

* Not just right wing symbols, but also those of various islamic terror groups and the Kurdish Workers Party.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

matthew thank you for perfectly illustrating today's reflexive judgementalism of style vs substance.


With all due respect, I think matthew's suggestion is worth noting, without taking away from your other suggestions of what we ourselves should be doing. He wasn't scoring points by criticizing you; he was trying to help.

Larry Hart said...

I saw that Dr Brin had posted a link on LinkedIn, so I went to view my notifications. Underneath OGS's post was one by Arnold Schwartzenegger, explaining what life was like growing up in postwar Austria when his father and their neighbors lived with the memory of their complicity with Naziism. Worth watching if you're so inclined.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz3zFsTp2Pk

David Brin said...

LH: noted. Though I reiterate, he does nothing, only carps.

If Trump pardons his family, Biden should publicly sign a document, seal it in an envelope and hand it to Chief Justice Roberts, saying "I have just pardoned members of MY family! Then let the right-o-sphere erupt...hypocritically... then ask Roberts to read that Biden pardoned ancestors long dead.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

.. then ask Roberts to read that Biden pardoned ancestors long dead.


Cute, but I'd rather he actually pardon Hunter. Hunter in particular, because he's become emblematic of the bad things they're trying to complain about concerning the Biden criime [sic] family.

Show them that they can get what they wanted--an unaccountable presidency--and still not be very happy.

See, your way, the right howls and makes themselves look hypocritical, but nothing really comes of it. My way, they either have to do something about the pardon power, or else understand that any further bellyaching about Hunter is futile--a situation they made possible.

Larry Hart said...

An example from the other side's beloved Ayn Rand novel, Atlas Shrugged. There's a scene in which Hank Rearden's...brother? cousin? I forget exactly...realizes that there are dozens of ways in which Rearden could use the dangerous equipment in the factory to kill the relative with impunity, and that his only protection is that it would never occur to Hank Rearden to do such a thing. That sort of thing only occurs to people like himself.

By pardoning accomplices for perjury and contempt of court on his own behalf, and by bringing up the possibility of pardoning his own family and himself, Trump has done something that would never have occurred to Democrats to actually do. If he gets away with it, then Democrats can do so as well.

The downside of lowering ourselves to his level is that the political process becomes something it never was before--that the party in the White House is above the law, and so presidential elections become about which party you want to be above the law. But there's also a downside to not lowering ourselves to his level. That way, only Republicans are above the law. The only good way forward is to close some loopholes. And the only way that will ever be done is if Republicans are made to fear Democrats wielding the powers they claim for their own presidency.

duncan cairncross said...

Re- the crowds for Biden's inaugural

Crowds would be nice - but a bad bad idea - one last huge superspreader event is NOT what America needs
A few thousand could socially distance

If millions come that is going to be impossible

the hanged man said...

I don’t believe the ceremony should be outdoors, and definitely no crowds should be allowed.

After the even desecration of life and of the building itself, I think it could be more meaningful to see a tour of the building and its artifacts, along with a brief retelling of the story of our founders and our Constitution, prior to the inauguration being held inside the building itself.

TCB said...

So, in addition to getting shut down by its web hosts, Parler has been hacked for its copious user data. (Didja know you had to upload both sides of your driver's license to join?) People are pawing through the users' personal data as we speak.

https://www.reddit.com/r/ParlerWatch/comments/kuqvs3/all_parler_user_data_is_being_downloaded_as_we/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

Parler may, no proof but MAY, have been started as a Russian ploy... Dave Troy thinks so...

Also, a preliminary analysis of the first several thousand accounts on Parler shows that it is the usual Russia aligned operatives that we in this space have tracked for years. This is a large scale op aligned with Russian interests.

https://twitter.com/davetroy/status/1327257161739677697

... right after Troy posted that Twitter thread, Rebekah Mercer of Cambridge Analytica admitted to being a co-founder.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/15/media/rebekah-mercer-parler/index.html

Lest we forget, Trump's actions must surely have reflected advice he got from Putin.

P.S. Rebekah Mercer has a Mars Attacks forehead.

Robert said...

Crowds would be nice - but a bad bad idea - one last huge superspreader event is NOT what America needs

Outside, wearing masks, fairly low risk factor. Higher than in summer (dry cold air, so more virus spread) but still not too bad.

A bigger risk the the transportation to/from Washington. Crowds at the airport and in hotels, rather than the inauguration itself.

Larry Hart said...

Emphasis mine.

Visi-sonor. Just sayin'

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/10/us/politics/trump-impeachment.html

...
More details emerged on Sunday about Mr. Trump’s role, which could shape the debate about impeachment. The president was deeply involved in the planning of the rally on Wednesday where he exhorted thousands of followers to march to the Capitol and demonstrate strength. He personally helped select who would speak and what music would play, according to people briefed on how the event came together.
...

Robert said...

If you haven't seen it, you'll like the Governator's video:

https://www.thestar.com/news/world/us/2021/01/10/watch-arnold-schwarzenegger-campares-us-capitol-riots-to-kristallnacht-demands-accountability.html

Robert said...

He personally helped select who would speak and what music would play

And did he, as usual, ignore copyright and licensing requirements for the music?

Larry Hart said...

Without further comment...

https://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2021/01/random-observations-on-insurrection.html

...
And, in the future, listen to us on the left when we say that someone is a goddamned danger. We were right about George W. Bush. We were right about Trump. We knew the former was a vile dunderhead; we knew the latter was a maniac who couldn't handle the job and couldn't give a shit about learning it and whose followers were going to turn violent. We were right. Everyone who said not to worry was wrong. Everyone who said that there's no difference between Democratic and Republican candidates was wrong. Everyone who told us that Trump didn't mean what he said was wrong. Every media outlet that thought Trump was a joke was wrong. We were right, all of us sad Cassandras. And we'll be right in the future.
...

Acacia H. said...

Dr. Brin, I disagree with your continued sentiments that this was not a failed coup attempt.

https://www.npr.org/2021/01/11/955513539/how-online-sleuths-identified-rioters-at-the-capitol

This article discusses how crowdsourcing is being used to track and identify specific agents that appear to have had an actual mission. These individuals had body armor, restraints, and attempted to disguise their faces in some cases to avoid identification. They were using the chaos in the Capitol Building to take hostages and likely force Democrats to renounce Biden and elect Donald Trump as President. If they had succeeded in their mission, this would not be "disorganized idiots" but "controlled chaos" leading to their coup succeeding.

On a side note, Larry Hart? You were right. I was wrong. Pence would have been far better to be President than Trump. Pence would not have pulled this level of bullshit to remain in power. I apologize for allowing my fear of Pence blind me to the clear and present danger that Donald Trump was and still is.

Acacia H.

David Brin said...

1. Pence wants the world to end. He prays for it. And he is smoother. So no, I don't prefer him.
2. An effective coup would have aimed to seize nexii of power and communications.
3. Leftists claiming that only they opposed or denounced Trump are pure drivel-liars.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Pence wants the world to end. He prays for it. And he is smoother. So no, I don't prefer him.


You seem to judge the comparison between Trump and Pence based upon what they'd like to do. I judge them on what they actually can do. Pence is preferable to Trump (a very low bar) precisely because he could not have accomplished the amount of harm that Trump was able to.


An effective coup would have aimed to seize nexii of power and communications.


This self-evidently was not an effective coup. People are calling it a coup attempt. And I believe that a more sinister mission was attempted under cover of the crowd of clowns.


Leftists claiming that only they opposed or denounced Trump are pure drivel-liars.


I assume you're referring to the Rude Pundit blog I posted above. He didn't say that leftists were the only ones who knew what Trump was. He said that those who shouted from the start what Trump was were right and that the mass of the mainstream which pooh-poohed such alarms as overblown "Trump derangement syndrome" were wrong.

I suspect that he feels he was easily dismissed because he's "on he left". The rest of his paragraph holds true irrespective of that unfortunate phrase.

Do you remember the scene in Sundiver when (I think it was) Captain Alvarez is talking with Bubbacub, and the realization hits her that "This sophont is dangerous"? I had that same moment concerning Donald Trump more than four years ago, and it's gratifying (in a Pyrrhic sort of way) to be demonstrated correct, or at least a Homer Simpson "Not Insane".

TCB said...

Well, the coup plotter-in-chief already HAS many nexii of control and communication. He remains a threat until he has none.

And I don't see a lot of leftists silly enough to claim "only" they opposed or denounced Trump. It's fair to call the more aware leftists an early warning line for fascism in high places. They tend to be, if not the only people raising the alarm, generally the first.

Why, I recall during the Reagan years, while Ollie North and friends were trying to maintain or install far right regimes in Central and South America, the FBI would be busy investigating, spying on and infiltrating peaceful non-conservative groups as "threats".

https://www.foodnotbombs.net/spy_2.html

Food Not Bombs organized a peace march to Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1981. Draper Laboratory was in the process of designing systems for nuclear missiles. The march was co-sponsored by Food Not Bombs and the Cambridge City Council. Food Not Bombs first realized that Food Not Bombs was under government surveillance when the secretary of the City Council told the volunteers that a man from the CIA had stopped by and was looking for someone from Food Not Bombs just prior the protest. A photographer came to the protest with a very unusual camera. He didn t introduce himself and when we approched him believing he was a member of the media he disappered into the Polaroid Building next to Draper Lab. We discovered that the C.I.A. rented office space in that same building.

Hahaaa! It's entirely possible I am in some of those photos with my peacenik friends. I lived in a hippie coop house about a mile away at this time.

At around this time I was captured during a Seabrook protest by New Hampshire National Guard, along with another guy named Eddie. We were both in full clown makeup (Eddie was with Ringling, and he had made me up as an Emmett Kelly sad-faced clown, very nice!) We had been doing a bit of mood-lightening at the gates, but had returned to the camp and were wandering in the woods because of a rumor that the Guardsmen were going to raid the camp. Instead, they were keeping people out of the woods and made us go back to the camp.

It was a more civilized time... people like the Trumps and the Proud Boys existed, but they could not yet go mask-off. They wouldn't have dared. However, people like Nixon (AND Ford!) and Reagan and George H.W. Bush laid the groundwork for people like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Rupert Murdoch and Rush Limbaugh, and those people laid the groundwork for Trump, the Mercers, Hannity and Facebook and Parler and the sack of the Capitol.

...you can trash talk the smelly hippies, dirt worshipping tree huggers and drum-circling pacifists all you like, but the world would be a far far safer place if they were running it, just sayin'.

matthew said...

Dr. Brin says of me, "I reiterate, he does nothing, only carps." Hopefully, I misunderstand your intent with this statement. I will try to paraphrase you, in an effort of clearing up a misunderstanding - You are saying that I do not contribute to your discussion, is that correct?

But just to remind (if the paraphrasing above is correct), I have taken long-term assignments from suggestions given by you to this group (Forecasting World Events, 3D Printing Emergency Response to COVID). I spent many hundreds of hours over four years on the FWE project that you asked someone to try and report back on. I was an active member of the 3D printing COVID supplies group until it was clear that they did not need my manufacturing capabilities.

I post news or opinions germane to your postings, sometimes news that bolster your arguments, sometimes contrary to them. If this is not what you have in mind for involvement here, please let me know, and I'll quit commenting.

I treat this space like I treat the NGO's that I support - I give time and effort, money (I buy nice physical copies of your stuff), and I give feedback.

If that is not what you want, I'll stop. I've invested 20+ years in this community that you have built, but I'm not the owner.

David Brin said...

matthew I was intemperate and I apologize.

Der Oger said...

The Schwarzenegger video hinted at how people tried to get along with what happened, what they were responsible for during the years directly after the war. In many cases, they swept it under the rug, the society concentrated on rebuilding and surviving in the early years of the Cold War. The early republic was very authoritarian; that changed with the Spiegel affair, the upheaval in the sixties, the Frankfurt Ausschwitz trials, and Willy Brandt's years as a chancellor.

I recommend the movie "The People vs. Fritz Bauer".

When I saw this video, I just remembered how many sayings, excuses and justifications we have from this era ... that still somehow are used today.

-"They hang the small ones, and free the big ones."
-"I just followed orders"
-"I didn't know what the Nazis did to the Jews." (Most could have known.)
-"But Hitler has done so many good things, too." (Usually followed by recounting the Autobahn myths.)
-"We hid Jews in our cellar."
-"We have to get over it. We cannot feel guilty for eternity. We have to move forward."
-"What was lawful then, cannot be unlawful now." (Hans Filbinger)
-"I opposed them from the inside."
-"I/He never was a real Nazi ... I/he joined because of (insert any opportunistic reason)".

I'd bet that, until the elections in 2022, the majority of these (or a variant of them) will be uttered by high ranking republicans and then-former MAGAts.

TCB said...

As more Capitol seditionists are arrested, I note that Air Force personnel seem overrepresented. Some have been Army. None Navy yet that I hear of.

Let it be reverted to the United States Army Air Force, as it was when it was bombing Nazis and not training them.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Everyone: Saw a good saying over on the Charlie Stross blog:
"Reasons are for reasonable people."

@ Dr. Brin: IMHO, you don't need to convince people if you have control over them, and the only people you should try to convince are "reasonable people" who have indicated they're open to changing their minds. That's not a viable option now- the seditionists and their supporters need to be controlled and prevented from doing more harm.

@ Everyone: there seems a reasonable possibility that "they" will try again, probably before 1/20. but I see no reason why they would stop after the inauguration. How can this be stopped?

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

I'd bet that, until the elections in 2022, the majority of these (or a variant of them) will be uttered by high ranking republicans and then-former MAGAts.


That would be the best option. It means they're trying to distance themselves from Trumpism and fascism (pardon the repetition). I'm afraid that they'll be running on their loyalty to Trump in the next elections.

* * *

TCB:

I note that Air Force personnel seem overrepresented.


No surprise there. Colorado Springs might as well be called Jonestown.

* * *

Keith Halperin:

How can this be stopped?


The most humane option would be guillotines.

David Brin said...

"I note that Air Force personnel seem overrepresented. Some have been Army. None Navy yet that I hear of."

I would have bet my house on that outcome. Exactly that.


Larry Hart said...

Donald Trump's mistake was that he fashioned himself as Vito Corleone, but he incorrectly believed that Don Corleone rules through violence and fear. As made clear in Godfather II moreso than the first movie, young Vito rose to a position of power by being a good friend, amassing loyalty by giving loyalty. Trump doesn't know the meaning of the word.

He's more Norma Desmond than Don Corleone now.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Who's ready for a spot of humour in these grim times?
One of Randy Rainbow's best!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT5kafhG3Qw

Zepp Jamieson said...

"I would have bet my house on that outcome. Exactly that."

Sucker's bet, Doctor. The AF has been hagridden with fundies and other whacks for years.

TCB said...

Should we call it a coup? Bill Moyers says yes.
https://billmoyers.com/story/call-a-coup-a-coup/


Fiona Hill explains why.
https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/11/capitol-riot-self-coup-trump-fiona-hill-457549

The truth is that for the past four years, Trump has been stress testing the U.S. democratic system to see if anyone will rein him in. [...]

So, what thwarted Trump’s slow motion, in-plain-sight attempt at a self-coup? Fortunately, there was pushback from all the key institutions you need for a coup. First, the military and other parts of the government resisted Trump’s efforts to personalize their power. Second, major media outlets reported the facts truthfully. Social media outlets flagged the president’s lies about the election—albeit belatedly—and Twitter and Facebook ultimately cut off his accounts. Third, the judiciary and courts held firm. “Trump judges,” all the way up to the Supreme Court, respected their oath of office and rejected the president’s appeals to overturn legitimate election results. Fourth, state and local government officials refused to be swayed. They repeatedly called out the lie that Trump had won the election. Finally, in the legislature, the vice president performed his constitutional role, as did the Republican Senate majority leader and most of the Senate. The only two elements that rallied behind the president’s coup attempt were the handful of senators and the majority of House Republicans and his popular support, in the form of an insurgency—the mob that stormed the Capitol.

[...] The good news for the United States is that Trump’s self-coup failed. The bad news is that his supporters still believe the false narrative, the Big Lie that he won the election.

David Brin said...

Fiona Hill makes good points. Still. Alas she sets aside the bigger picture... that this is a major phase of an American Civil War that's recurred 8 times since the 1770s, this time exacerbated by an all-out war wages against us by every force on the planet that fears where the Enlightenment Experiment was heading - toward an absolute end to oligarchy.

It's not just Putin and his gang of 100+ "ex" commissars - now relabeled 'billionaires' to hoodwink a gullible US right. Nor the media and gambling moguls and inheritance brats who are our US quislings, nor those other world autocrats who likewise fret what will happen, if Hollywood values take hold in their own young.

This is fundamentally about a human schism. On the one hand are those capable of the science fictional worldview, that the future is a navigable realm, filled with dangers to warn against and opportunities to relish... and opposing us are those clinging to a past of desperate certainties and macho 'leaders' - a past ridden with errors that went uncriticized till nations toppled in fire, rife with hatred and above all awash in fear.

Forget 'left' and 'right.' It is about the prefrontal lobes. Our capacity to peer ahead and feel we can and must try - together - to navigate this undiscovered country. And those so terrified of change that they actually, actually can convince themselves that the past - any of it - was better.

David Brin said...

For 80 years, Hollywood has been (in fits and starts) at the forefront of promoting tolerance and enlightenment values... and empathy, hilarity and joy. All of which mix in this, one of the greatest scences from the black and white era. From the Our Gang series.

(Which was boycotted by racists because it showed play among interracial friends, and in this case a black child sitting at the FRONT of a mixed race classroom. Note that character Buckwheat was satirized brilliantly on SNL by Eddie Murphy. But that's another story. And do NOT judge such scenes by our current standards! It's just not fair. They did more incremental good in a dark era than you or I have done, standing on the shoulders of what they wrought.)

No seriously -- I men NOT seriously! - if you've never seen this... it is pure joy. We need some.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ6IDYjgLSI

Der Oger said...

@Larry Hart: "That would be the best option. It means they're trying to distance themselves from Trumpism and fascism (pardon the repetition). I'm afraid that they'll be running on their loyalty to Trump in the next elections."

Yes, I fear you might be right. The Dem's overall victory probably was too narrow, the level of shame of the atrocities committed may not have been not crushing enough.


@Keith Halperin:"there seems a reasonable possibility that "they" will try again, probably before 1/20. but I see no reason why they would stop after the inauguration. How can this be stopped?"

I ask myself if it is possibly at all. Larger uprisings may be contained more easily, but actions by lone wolf type terrorists are usually not predictable. Maybe it would be more beneficial in the long run to actually use the outrage that these events create to propel forward certain measures in administration and legislature and weaken the electoral base of those who support these actions. This is cynical thinking, yes, but I would prefer to let them to dig their own grave.

@Everybody: In 6 months, US intelligence agencies must share what they know about UFOs due to a special provision in the Covid relief bill.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/10/us/ufo-report-emergency-relief-bill-trnd/index.html


Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

Eddie Murphy wasn't making fun of the Buckwheat character so much as making fun of the fact that black characters were required to be portrayed like that in Buckwheat's time.

And "The Little Rascals" as a beacon of multicultural cooperation was given a prominent mention at the conclusion of the novel (and the musical) Ragtime.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Forget 'left' and 'right.' It is about the prefrontal lobes. Our capacity to peer ahead and feel we can and must try - together - to navigate this undiscovered country. And those so terrified of change that they actually, actually can convince themselves that the past - any of it - was better.


I said something similar, though more crudely, a few days ago. The divide in this country is between the reality-based and the fantasy-based. I suppose the signs were there when bookstore "science fiction" sections became overrun with Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, and Game of Thrones.

Larry Hart said...

The obvious...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/11/opinion/twitter-facebook-trump-ban.html

“I’ve lost 50k-plus followers this week,” an indignant Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote on Twitter on Saturday, after the platform banned Trump and purged accounts that promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory. Complaining of “radical left” censorship, Sanders, Trump’s former press secretary, wrote, “This is not China, this is United States of America, and we are a free country.”

In fact, Twitter and Facebook’s ejection of Trump is pretty much the opposite of what happens in China; it would be inconceivable for the Chinese social media giant Weibo to block President Xi Jinping. Trump’s social media exile represents, in some ways, a libertarian dream of a wholly privatized public sphere, in which corporations, not government, get to define the bounds of permissible speech.


This is almost an exact replaying of Yakov Smirnov's gag in the mid 80s about how Russians are just as free as Americans to say "I don't like Ronald Reagan".

Parody-phrasing:

In America, you are free to ban Donald Trump from social media.

In China, you are also free to ban Donald Trump from social media.

In China, you can also ban Xi Jinping from social media, but this, you only do once.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/11/opinion/republicans-democracy.html

Not incidentally, white supremacy has always been sustained in large part through voter suppression. So it shouldn’t be surprising to see right-wingers howling about a rigged election — after all, rigging elections is what their side is accustomed to doing. And it’s not clear to what extent they actually believe that this election was rigged, as opposed to being enraged that this time the usual vote-rigging didn’t work.


Actually, that's what Republicans mean by "rigged". The election was rigged against their being able to rig it. They might as well quote Robert Shaw's character in The Sting, "What was I supposed to do? Accuse him of cheatin' better than me in front of the others?" Except that they are unashamed to do exactly that.

Larry Hart said...

Sheldon Adelson is dead! May he rot in Hell.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/business/sheldon-adelson-dead.html

Larry Hart said...

A few days back, someone asked how we stop the insurrectionists.

Here's one way.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/democrats-briefed-plot-overthrow-government_n_5ffd29a4c5b691806c4bf199

Democrats were told that the Capitol Police and the National Guard were preparing for potentially tens of thousands of armed protesters coming to Washington and were establishing rules of engagement for warfare. In general, the military and police don’t plan to shoot anyone until one of the rioters fires, but there could be exceptions.

jim said...

Does anyone know much about targeted online advertising?

I am curious if a non profit organization could put together a campaign to

Defund The Polarization – Cut The Cable Cord

A portion of cable bill goes to companies like Fox News (or MSNBC) who’s business model promotes political polarization. Stop funding that bad behavior by cutting the cable service. It is simple and saves you money (and wasted time) and will help the ease the divisions in America today.

For Liberals focus on Fox’s bad behavior, for Conservatives focus on their issues with channels like MSNBC. But for both the message is the same – Stop funding the Bad Guys and help bring America together.

If a movement like that starts to gain a lot of momentum I think we might actually start to see real change in the news media.

(The Appleseed Foundation – You can help plant the seeds of change for a better America)

scidata said...

Re: "I’ve lost 50k-plus followers this week"

It's not so much fun anymore when the other side starts firing back.

Transistor Wars - an epic battle between lead and silicon.

God created men.
Sam Colt made them equal.
Bell Labs outdid them both.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

Defund The Polarization – Cut The Cable Cord

A portion of cable bill goes to companies like Fox News (or MSNBC) who’s business model promotes political polarization. Stop funding that bad behavior by cutting the cable service.


Here in Chicago, after a symbiotic relationship with local tv station WGN going back to 1948, the Chicago Cubs have gone to having their games televised exclusively on a new Sinclair-owned station. Furthermore, it is not a pay-if-you-want-it station like HBO, but rather all of the local cable carriers have added $5 to $10 surcharges on all customers now that they carry the station. The assumption, of course, is that Chicago viewers would demand access to the Cubs at any price, and that is probably mostly correct.

I've been a lifelong Cubs fan--came of age around their 1969 season and was ecstatic in 2016--but I will not watch them on Sinclair, and am looking for an alternative to cable for the specific purpose of not giving Sinclair any of my money.

Alfred Differ said...

For the record...

I AM going to use the term 'attempted coup' for what happened on 1/6.

I thought about this for the last few days and waffled back and forth, but the decision is made.

Michael Beschloss has a running gag on Twitter where he mocks the current administration (not just Trump) using Three Stooges clips. The attempted coup on 1/6 fits perfectly with that theme. It was as if the Stooges tried to overturn the election except the slapstick comedy got people killed.

It was a lame attempted coup because it lacked organization. If there is one lesson we've learned form this administration, though, it is that they are NOT organized. Trump himself has been very rich, but he runs a family sized business at most and relies heavily on others to do all the thinking/planning/strategizing. For large sums of $$$ they would do that, right? He carried his assumptions a step too far this time, though. No amount of $$$ appeases an angry electorate and his strategizing team is the shrinking portion of the GOP. So... oops.

I AM going to call this an attempted coup from now on. It fits even though it was lamely done.

That means Trump has accomplished yet another first in our nation's history. He has proven out one of the fears the Founders documented as a danger to us. That's where we are now, but I think we will manage to grow from this experience. Now we KNOW overthrows can be attempted here... and that they can fail. Next time the planners will have to be less Stooge-like.

matthew said...

Thank you for the apology and the Little Rascals clip, Dr. Brin.
I watched a *ton* of Little Rascals once I got a television (and electricity) at about age 10. Memories of that specific clip are very strong since it is comedy genius.

Der Oger said...

What is this thing about the US Air Force? Are they especially trumpist?

(Over here, it used to be the other way round when I served ... the Air Force was considered less brown than the Army, especially our equivalent of the Airborne Rangers, and now, the Special Forces Command with it's deeply troubling networks.)

David Brin said...

Oh, great. Count on yours-truly to see silver linings on storm clouds and dark shadows in beams of daylight. This statement by the Joint Chiefs is everything I've been telling you to expect! Though we already knew 95% of the senior officer corps was on the side of our Great Experiment...
Meanwhile though, they have just TORCHED the best part of my "wager gambit" which defies MAGA jibbering yammerers to offer wager stakes on their favorite lunatic assertions "to be judged by neutral panels of retired senior military officers." Now the cretins'll just yowl "deep state!" and run away confident that shouted incantation cancels out the last set of fact-checkers who can ever decisively demolish their masturbatory chants.
To those officers I say: "Thanks fellows. Now... eyes in back of your heads, for a while. Keep noncoms near you who you can trust."

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/12/politics/joint-chiefs-condemn-sedition/index.html

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Now we KNOW overthrows can be attempted here... and that they can fail.


Overthrows can be attempted here, but it would take a lot of buy-in from members of the branches of government for one to succeed. I've heard the FBI has warned that right-wingers plan to surround the Capitol and kill Democrats (and RINOs) "so that the Republicans can take over". But even were the murderers could succeed, what Republican (other than Hawley, Meadows, and Cruz) is going to participate in such a scheme, knowing full well that they'd be telling Democrats, liberals, and other real Americans that killing one's opponents is an acceptable and winning strategy? I'd be richer than Elon Musk when my guillotine futures go through the roof!

A few weeks ago, the electoral-vote.com site suggested an argument against the supreme court ok-ing self-pardons. I'm paraphrasing, but it was along the line of, "So the president could barge into this room and shoot all nine of you dead, and pardon himself for the crime. And as long as his party controlled the Senate, he could not only avoid impeachment, but appoint nine new justices and probably get them confirmed. You people ok with that?"

Our system is kind of like the internet, in that it navigates around obstructions. A coup isn't as simple as storming the palace and chopping the king's head off. I'm not saying that domestic terrorists can't cause a lot of harm--they obviously can. But at the end of the day, that harm doesn't get them control of the government.

* * *

matthew:

I watched a *ton* of Little Rascals once I got a television (and electricity) at about age 10.


I watched them on local tv all through high school age. My absolute favorite, which I unfortunately can't find a working link to, is "Our Gang Follies of 1936".

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

What is this thing about the US Air Force? Are they especially trumpist?


It's not specific to Trump, but the Air Force academy has long been suborned by evangelical Christianity. Politically, in this country, that means right-wing authoritarianism.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Meanwhile though, they have just TORCHED the best part of my "wager gambit" which defies MAGA jibbering yammerers to offer wager stakes on their favorite lunatic assertions "to be judged by neutral panels of retired senior military officers." Now the cretins'll just yowl "deep state!" and run away confident that shouted incantation cancels out the last set of fact-checkers who can ever decisively demolish their masturbatory chants.


That would always have been the case. You could have said "to be judged by Republican Senators and Trump-appointed judges", and we've already seen how much credibility the bad guys give those people as soon as one of them says something they don't want to hear.

The whole argument that the election was rigged rests on the assumption that (everyone knows) Trump was supposed to win, so any argument or evidence that he lost is "fake" by definition. The same goes for any impartial panel you could imagine to adjudicate wagers. The stormTrumpsers will never acknowledge losing a bet, because anyone who might rule against them is automatically "biased". The conclusive "evidence" of that bias is the fact that they ruled against them.

TCB said...

@ Der Oger, yes, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been a hotbed of Christian far right indoctrination for at least fifteen years. I described it to a friend as "They want to turn the Academy into a Baptist church with airplanes."

If you google "Air Force academy Christian indoctrination" you will see plenty of articles dating as far back as 2005 when this problem became public knowledge.

And one of the results is from today! At Daily Kos, this article: OPEN LETTER TO THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE ACADEMY: “We told you so.”

We warned you that this radical, right-wing influence found not only at USAFA, but tolerated or even endorsed by senior officers throughout the Air Force, caused a toxic leadership environment and eroded unit cohesion, good order, morale, and discipline. We constantly worried and warned that these seemingly (to some) innocuous events would lead to embarrassment for our Air Force Academy or worse — and that’s exactly what’s happened.

Mr. Larry R. Brock, Class of ’89 and a retired USAF Lt. Col./pilot presumptively drawing full military retirement pay and benefits, has now been arrested for his well-publicized participation in one of the darkest chapters of our nation’s history—identified as a USAFA graduate in virtually every major media outlet in America and around the world. The simplest search of his social media presence shows him to be an adherent of exactly the kind of religious/political extremism mentioned above. Indeed, the avatar for his now-deleted Twitter handle was a Christian Crusader warrior.

Moreover, we know of at least three other graduates, all members of one of the USAFA Classes in the 1990s (one being a former Cadet Wing Commander), who attended the failed coup d’etat, posing for smiling selfies in Air Force Academy garb.

That woman who was shot dead by police trying to breach the Senate hallway? Air Force veteran. Brock, mentioned above, was one of the zip tie men.

Army personnel are represented in the lists of shame also. Navy and Marines? None yet that I know.

matthew said...

When I was young, I tried to wrangle an appointment to the Naval Academy (Coast Guard too but that is another story). I had an academy grad mentor, retired, that was helping me with the process. He knew that I wanted to be a metallurgist and eventually a mission specialist astronaut doing materials research in space. He warned me in no uncertain terms about trying to go to the Air Force Academy. He knew that I was not an evangelical and he warned me that USAFA was not a friendly place for anyone like me. In 1985. The problems at Colorado Springs have been well-known for close to 40 years.

He was a great mentor in other ways too. Helped me get a scholarship to a traditional tech school after I decided against Annapolis at the last minute, pissing off a very powerful US Senator, who was stuck trying to find a replacement for my slot, especially as I was a replacement for another student who bailed at the last minute.

Thank goodness for good mentors.

Larry Hart said...

matthew:

I decided against Annapolis at the last minute, pissing off a very powerful US Senator, who was stuck trying to find a replacement for my slot, especially as I was a replacement for another student who bailed at the last minute.


I'll avoid the obvious--asking you who the Senator was--but I am curious as to the reason for the cascading withdrawals. It sounds as if you potential recruits became aware of some danger at the last minute that was previously kept secret. Any details you care to divulge?

Kal Kallevig said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/11/opinion/josh-hawley-religion-democracy.html?auth=link-dismiss-google1tap

Behind a paywall, but explains why Josh Hawley. Seems to have a lot in common with Mike Pence and Bill Barr.


In a 2019 commencement address at The King’s College, a small conservative Christian college devoted to “a biblical worldview,” Mr. Hawley denounced Pelagius for teaching that human beings have the freedom to choose how they live their lives and that grace comes to those who do good things, as opposed to those who believe the right doctrines.

The most eloquent summary of the Pelagian vision, Mr. Hawley went on to say, can be found in the Supreme Court’s 1992 opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Mr. Hawley specifically cited Justice Anthony Kennedy’s words reprovingly: “At the heart of liberty,” Kennedy wrote, “is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The fifth century church fathers were right to condemn this terrifying variety of heresy, Mr. Hawley argued: “Replacing it and repairing the harm it has caused is one of the challenges of our day.”

In other words, Mr. Hawley’s idea of freedom is the freedom to conform to what he and his preferred religious authorities know to be right. Mr. Hawley is not shy about making the point explicit. In a 2017 speech to the American Renewal Project, he declared — paraphrasing the Dutch Reformed theologian and onetime prime minister Abraham Kuyper — “There is not one square inch of all creation over which Jesus Christ is not Lord.” Mr. Kuyper is perhaps best known for his claim that Christianity has sole legitimate authority over all aspects of human life.

Robert said...

I decided against Annapolis at the last minute, pissing off a very powerful US Senator, who was stuck trying to find a replacement for my slot, especially as I was a replacement for another student who bailed at the last minute.

I confess I'm confused why a politician would be involved in deciding who gets into a military academy, to the extent of having slots that need filling. Would it be possible to get an explanation?

David Brin said...

Robert, used to be that most Academy slots were allocated to Senators and reps, as a way to dipserse the privilege evenly, though not evenly by justice or merit.

Merit cranked up over the years, with the academies refusing appointments who weren't minimally qualified... then qualified... then very qualified. Nowadays, a Senator might be given a list of home state brilliant youths to pick from for just a slot or two... I'm not sure how it works, in fact. But I do know the services won't put up with morons. Though the USAF puts up with fanaticism. Alas.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

it would take a lot of buy-in

That's just one of the possibilities. It would suffice for many to choose to do nothing as well.

Think about WWII history a bit. Some in German leadership positions thought the US rather weak. Some thought us disinclined to get involved. Some thought us too divided making inaction our most likely choice. To some extend, similar things happened in Japan too. There are stories on both sides of people whose estimates proved to be more accurate, but some of the other options aren't entirely unreasonable estimates of what we might have done… except for the notion that we were weak and easily pushed aside. By mid-20th century, no one should have been thinking that.

Now imagine an alt-universe where you and your friends were the ones who challenged the certification of the 2016 election. No doubt y'all would not have gotten far, but popular opinion would have been split different than it is now. Whether Trump's win in 2016 was legit or not, he proved in 2020 that winning at any price is his objective. It was as if he stepped up in Court and confessed. He still has millions who side with him, but no where near the number of millions he would have had in that alt-universe. It's not that he had more supporters back then, though. He would have had those Americans the Germans thought wouldn't fight them when those Americans chose NOT to side with y'all in a certification battle… or whatever form the fight took.

In 2016, they could accuse you of being a sore loser. Not this time.
In 2016, the US Military would have stayed on the fence at best or sided against you.
In 2016, the social media companies would have de-platformed you.

My suspicion is there was more buy-in to this attempted coup than we currently know.

My suspicion is there is a lot more willingness to have blood flow in the streets caused by his supporters than we currently know.

I'm beginning to see people pouring over social media content looking for indicators of violent intent. All platforms. Initial data suggests we are in denial when we think many did NOT intend a coup. Whether their enthusiasm for blood keeps up remains to be seen, but I'm inclined to take them seriously for now.

Alfred Differ said...

Der Oger,

What is this thing about the US Air Force?

Religious Zealotry is our primary barbarism, but we wouldn't be the nation we are today without them. They are both good and bad at the same time.

Our 19th century Abolitionists were usually religious zealots. The helped ignite our Civil War, but also sustained the Union through dark times to see it though. By the end of that war, they had what they felt was a very reasonable expectation for their support. They wanted a Constitutional amendment declaring the US a Christian nation. What they got instead was the motto on our coinage.

It is an old barbarism that survives over here in the form of influence on institutions of higher learning. USAF Academy in Colorado is just one example, but with a military twist. This triggers many of us who prefer colleges and universities to be secular, but for most of history quite the opposite was true. [Heh. No one needs to tell a German citizen that, though.]

Tony Fisk said...

USAF may have the biggest concentration of seditionists, but a few naval types have been cropping up in my twitter feed.

... as have Capitol LEOs, and GOP congressmen, not just tweeting situational information, but actively conspiring to giving external parties a preliminary tour of the place. The hints being dropped suggest that disaster was very narrowly averted, and not a few careers are about to burn.
(Thank goodness, when the path to the Senate chamber was open, the mob preferred to chase Officer Goodman's proferred black ass on the day!)

TCB said...

@ Kal Kallevig, I remember a passage in a Robert Anton Wilson book where he mentioned Pelagius, deemed a heretic by his contemporary St. Augustine for the notion that we could ever build 'heaven on Earth.' Heresy or not, Wilson said, this idea is "precisely the modern (Enlightenment) attitude."

The Josh Hawleys of this world are medievalists. They really, really do want to return to a society where the Church has the power to punish heretics, even unto death. This is why we call them things like Y'all Qaeda and Vanilla ISIS.

..................................................................

These 63 Billionaires Who Bankrolled Trump All the Way to Insurrection Have 'No Right to Feel Shocked'

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/01/12/these-63-billionaires-who-bankrolled-trump-all-way-insurrection-have-no-right-feel

The Devil collected the soul of one of them, Sheldon Adelson, just a day ago.

john fremont said...

@TCB

The only Navy veteran I've seen so far is former Navy SEAL Adam Newbold. He put up a video boasting of how he participated in the Capitol siege.
I'm not sure of what it is about the SEAL community in the Navy that produces these self promoters. There's been the late Chris Kyle who other SEALS have stated he's probably inflated his exploits as well another SEAL who bragged about not wearing a mask on a commercial flight.I rarely see the other communities in the Navy go in on this self promotion be it aviation AKA Airdales, small watercraft/amphibious AKA Gators, submariners, etc. Even with the other services special ops units, except for Army Special Forces, I don't see as much of this attitude IMHO.

Anecdotal, but a relative of mine who is active duty Marine Corps was pretty angry about seeing the vets there wearing the Eagle Globe and Anchor on their biker jackets and such taking part in the riot.


Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) Tweeted:
SEALs are apparently so used to getting away with crimes that they’re filming themselves confessing... https://t.co/syAu5lCMXN https://twitter.com/attackerman/status/1349339616940322816?s=20

Robert said...

Um, why? Other than tradition? Seems like an excellent way to only let those with privilege (ie. political pull) in to the academy.

Honestly, seems like it would create more problems than it solves.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Think about WWII history a bit. Some in German leadership positions thought the US rather weak. Some thought us disinclined to get involved. Some thought us too divided making inaction our most likely choice. To some extend, similar things happened in Japan too. There are stories on both sides of people whose estimates proved to be more accurate, but some of the other options aren't entirely unreasonable estimates of what we might have done…


Malcolm Nance made a WWII reference this morning as well. He invoked Yamamoto. "All we have done is awaken a sleeping giant."

Up until now, we've heard how angry and armed and willing to fight the stormTrumpers are. How we need to dance around their feelings lest they do something worse* in response. How "uniting the country" means giving in to their demands, because they will not compromise.

Well, the insurrectionists did what Twitter Trump never could by himself--roused us to righteous anger. Proof of that is that even Republicans are sitting up and taking notice. Corprate donors are sitting up and taking notice! You're right that Trump's deplatforming from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube would not have happened before, no matter what he said. Now it's happening, and with barely more than a smirk at the notion that both sides need to be treated equally and fairly. Everyone has to pick a side--white supremacist terrorist insurrectionists or American democracy. There's no overlap in the Venn diagram. "You're either with us, or with the terrorists."

"Uniting the country" now is not about reconciling Democrats and Republicans. It's about reconciling Democrats with the sane Republicans, and together defeating/marginalizing/neutering the insurrectionist Republicans. Fuck the king! Fuck Trump and the feelings of his followers. And fuck his little dog, too.**

* "Make it worse? How could it be worse? Jehovah! Jehovah!"

** Assuredly the first time ever that I have used that word three times in a single post.



Kal Kallevig said...

@TCB
Dr Brin has more than once discussed the danger of Dominionist officials, especially Mike Pence. Pence seems likely to be sidelined in the next round, but Hawley is a leading candidate for 2024, or at least he wants to be.

Until I saw that article, I had no idea that something more than naked ambition is motivating him. Seems likely Cruz has the same motivations.

A Christian ayatollah is likely to govern a lot like the Iranian one.

David Brin said...

What LH said: "Uniting the country" now is not about reconciling Democrats and Republicans. It's about reconciling Democrats with the sane Republicans, and together defeating/marginalizing/neutering the insurrectionist Republicans."

Dennis M Davidson said...

There are several ways to obtain admission to the service academies.

I was accepted to the US Air Force Academy via an athletic admission. That was in 1973. Most admissions are via Congressional appointments. Each Senator and Representative can nominate a handful of students. Other admission routes include active-duty military NCOs, academy prep schools, and via unofficial sports placements. Apparently, high profile sports like football get most of the athletic admissions. Google Annapolis English professor Bruce Fleming for critiques on this practice at the Naval Academy.

I chose not to go to the Air Force Academy. Pissed off everyone. Parents, friends, lacrosse coach. For context, I come from a working class, military family. Both parents served (dad 28 years Air Force. Mom WAVEs in WW2). Older brothers were Army pilots. Sisters married into the military. I was the first of 13 siblings to go to college. No one understood why I was turning down this opportunity. Getting into a service academy was like winning the lottery.

What could go wrong?

A lot. I wasn’t prepared mentally or socially for the high-stress military/academic learning system at the AFA. My GPA and SAT scores were not outstanding. I wasn’t even that good of an athlete. I avoided school sports and did poorly on the academy’s required entrance physical fitness test. Also, I was a naïve, young, closeted gay man. I had no idea what I was getting into.

Luckily for me I followed my intuition and avoided personal disaster.

Instead, I went to UC San Diego. Stumbled through undergraduate studies in the life sciences. Crossed paths with our host at Cal Space seminars held down at Scripps by the Pacific Ocean. Then found my way into a career visualizing astronomy and astrophysics for museums and planetariums.

What does this have to do with ContraryBrin’s comment stream? Nothing, really. A few days ago, Dr. Brin suggested that we step away from our screens and social media for a few minutes. So, in that spirit, I offer my comment as a temporary distraction from the brewing civil unrest unfolding in Washington DC and elsewhere. Besides, if locum could hog the bandwidth of the comments here, then I could add some nonsense now and then.

Stay well. Stay rested. The future needs us.

matthew said...

tl:dr - I talk about my experience trying to get into a service academy in the 80s. Feel free to skip.

Appointments to the service academies in my day went as thus: you took the Armed Forces aptitude test and applied to the Academy you wished to attend. You took a rigorous physical fitness test and wrote a *bunch* of essays on why you wanted to attend, what it meant to be an officer, etc. as part of the application. I got bonus points for being a National Merit Semi-Finalist, and for my physical scores. I turned in a very fast mile time on the physical test, which is a big deal. A local retired academy grad was assigned to be a mentor through the rest of the process at this time.

Then you needed to find a sponsoring Rep or Senator, who each had (iirc) two slots to fill for each academy (other than the Coasties, which is a very small place). In my case, our Rep had two candidates picked out already (one was a blood relative, the other the child of a very large donor. The junior Senator had already promised his slots (one to the child of a large donor, the other to the son of the sitting Governor). My academy mentor told me not to bother with either and the reasons.

The senior senator from my state went for a merit appointment, and his staff interviewed ~20 applicants on the day I interviewed. I knew some of them, and they were top-notch. From that pool, four of us got to interview with the senator a few weeks later. He was the Minority Leader of the Senate at the time, the number three GOP in Washington behind Reagan and Bush. I was second on his list, and I was told that I did not get the Senator's slot, but to keep myself ready in case something happened, and that there were a certain number of at-large slots that went to either ROTC / active duty / highly qualified students like me.

At the last minute, the Senator's #1 choice had some problem. I do not know what it was. I was called and asked if I wanted the slot, and I turned it down, causing a minor uproar with the Senator and his office since this was within a week of when the cadets needed to ship out.

At the Academy, the cadets were expected to meet socially with their sponsoring Senator or Rep about once a month. The dollar costs of that social meeting are *high*. The cadet pays for dinner, etc. I was told to expect to spend most of my cadet salary on entertaining my sponsor each month. In return, the sponsor was supposed to act as a political mentor to the cadet throughout their career.

Why did I turn down a slot at the last minute? Two things: 1) The man who later became my stepdad was a decorated vet, and he had advised me against going into the service. 2) I saw the movie Platoon a couple of nights before I made my decision and Oliver Stone made a big impression on me. In hindsight, I think my #2 is kinda funny, but that is the power of propaganda.

It was the correct choice for me in retrospect, but I certainly look back and wonder "what if?" I do very well under the command of authority I respect and rather poorly under authority I do not respect. I would have had problems in the Navy, I am sure. Could I have navigated them to a successful career? Also, probably yes. No, I was never going to be an astronaut, though. I'm smart, but I'm not *that* smart.

It would have been interesting to have that certain Senator as a mentor. He is the last GOP'er I have ever voted for, a big champion of science as well as industry. We need more like him today. I still carry a lot of respect for him and the questions he and his staff asked. Smart People. The GOP has since needed his voice. He was quite conservative but he listened to experts, and was a massive patron to the National Lab system and technical universities. He did not put up with fools, for certain.

David Brin said...

Dennis and Matthew thanks for fascinating (and well-written!) insights. I had heard that the services in recent decades demanded more ephasis on merit and less on politician appointment, but haven't time to look it up. We are all on tenterhooks. Waiting.

Larry Hart said...

One NY Times commentator on the page showing the live impeachment blogs thusly:

In some respects, Democrats could be better off if Trump is allowed to run again and continue tormenting the Republican Party for the next few years.


That is true. Democrats are probably acting against political interest by disqualifying Trump from running in 2024. He'd probably shred the Republican Party between now and then. But they're acting in the country's interest, demonstrating that there's a price to be paid for an attempted fascist coup. And the possibility of clawing back his pension and lifetime Secret Service protection is icing on the (delicious) cake.

Keith Halperin said...

@Everyone: as of a few minutes ago (according to my source) 10 House Republicans voted to impeach President Trump.
I regard those 10 as "sane," any House Republicans that didn't vote to impeach but also didn't challenge the electoral certification as "may be able to respond to therapy and/or medication," and the remaining House Republicans as "insane"- at best collaborators and at worst seditionists.

#NoGoodRepublicans, #10OkayRepublicans, #BringDowntheHammer

Robert said...

Proof of that is that even Republicans are sitting up and taking notice.

Some Republicans. 10 voted for impeachment, 197 against — so that's 95% of Republicans still, in some manner, support Trump — or are worried enough about the SturmTrumpers to not oppose him.

Robert said...

In my case, our Rep had two candidates picked out already (one was a blood relative, the other the child of a very large donor. The junior Senator had already promised his slots (one to the child of a large donor, the other to the son of the sitting Governor).

Is that usual? because looking from the outside, it looks like patronage is baked into the system…

At the Academy, the cadets were expected to meet socially with their sponsoring Senator or Rep about once a month. The dollar costs of that social meeting are *high*. The cadet pays for dinner, etc. I was told to expect to spend most of my cadet salary on entertaining my sponsor each month. In return, the sponsor was supposed to act as a political mentor to the cadet throughout their career.

Young people training to serve their country are expected to spend almost all their official income on the person who's help is necessary to get into the academy in the first place?

Forgive an outsider's criticism, but that system is just plain screwed up.

Gator said...

Don't know if this has been mentioned, but one of the "zinger" things Biden can do immediately is direct the DOJ to redo and reject their internal memo that says a sitting president cannot be prosecuted for breaking the law. He could make a clear statement that no one in America is above the law.

Der Oger said...

@Community: Thanks for your answers about the US Air Force! As said, around here, it used to be the other way round. I believe it has something to do with the school education of recruits as well as political orientation, at least until the suspension of the draft in 2011.


David Brin said...

Gator see my list of 31 consensus immediate goals that both left & center ought to share.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

Some Republicans. 10 voted for impeachment, 197 against — so that's 95% of Republicans still, in some manner, support Trump — or are worried enough about the SturmTrumpers to not oppose him.


Well, that's in the House. In the Senate, there might actually be enough Republican support to convict.

And the House members are more worried about primary challenges in very red districts. So yes, I think "worried about the SturmTrumpers" is accurate. But they created the monster, so I don't have much sympathy.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: Re: 31 Goals, "Polemical Judo," etc:
You frequently mention that for some reason politicos and pundits ignore your suggestions. You also (and IMHO, rightly) inveigh against "splitters" and those who demand 100% of their agenda being supported/fulfilled or nothing. Along such lines, have you considered *working with groups such as "Our Common Purpose" and individuals such as the Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore Kimberly Wehle, author of this Atlantic article (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/01/how-remove-danger-period-american-law/617651/) whose recommendations seem to bear much in common with yours as I understand them? In other words: if people won't jump on your bandwagon, why don't you jump on somebody else's similar one? (You see why I'm not a writer.)



*Perhaps you already do and keep it on the "down low" here.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Yeah. I was thinking of Yamamoto too, but I don't think this sleeping giant is actually awake yet. I suspect he's rolled over in his sleep and swatted a pest while remaining just below the surface of consciousness. I suspect we are all better off if the giant does NOT awaken right now as his reflexive response might be disproportionally gruesome.

It won't be done with guillotines.
It won't be done with AR-15's.
It won't be devoid of consequences for the entire world including Russian puppet masters.

Modern Confederates like to think they are tough with their auto and semi-automatic weapons and hordes of ammunition, but those are the horror weapons of the early 20th century. Hmpf. What they neglect to remember is that the US Civil War was one of the first 'modern' wars were generals learned the stupidity of frontal mass assaults no matter the size of the assaulting force. However, that was quite some time ago. Those weapons are the weapons of previous wars. The next one will be a newer war fought with weapons few imagine just yet. I don't intend to help anyone imagine what they'll be, but new horror lessons will be learned if we are so stupid.

I also don't intend to imply that we need to dance around their feelings anymore. I'm suggesting they'd better be damn careful and dance around ours.

There's a line near the end of Amistad when John Quincy Adams is arguing the case before the SCOTUS where he calls upon his ancestors. It finishes with a 'let it come' statement regarding Civil War. I do NOT think we are that divided today, but if violence is necessary to defend the nation we've built from these modern Confederates… let it come. It won't be a proportional response, though. We ARE barbarians.

that word three times in a single post

Heh. My Christmas bottle of tequila is already 1/4 emptied. I might use that word a few times myself.

David Brin said...

Keith the number of things I have tried... and wasted hours, weeks and books... is beyond reckoning. Even on the 'good' side, the petty jealousy and redusal of any voice Not Invented Here is depressing. Sure, it's human nature. But I tend nowe to shrug off "you oughta talk to" entreaties.

No one ever, ever answers. No matter how I vary the approaches. I never get even the courtesy they give regular folks or fans. Ever.

Alfred Differ said...

Well… since people are talking about narrowly avoiding joining the US military…

My father was a career USAF NCO. Finished at E8 and would have been given that last promotion, but they stationed him in ND where he honestly worried about his kids freezing to death. No exaggeration. [There was also a small, brewing problem with my younger brother running up against law enforcement as a young teenager, so getting out when he did was multiply motivated.]

I went from a HS system that expected kids to pass six classes a year (24 units) in ND to one in Las Vegas that expected about five (19.5 units). You could outright flunk one a year and still get out with a diploma. That meant I arrived in my junior year knowing I'd be 1.5 short of skipping my senior year in a school designed for babysitting. I pretended I needed a make-up class and enrolled for seven. Part way through I challenged half a unit that didn't transfer between schools right and walked across that stage in June after battles with school administration. In that last year, I took every aptitude test I could take ensuring they had no argument for holding me. The entire district changed their unit requirements to 21 that summer whereupon my sister entered HS and took 7 each year without them catching on until too late. We both found that very amusing. They changed requirements again.

I remember the Armed Forces aptitude test. I smoked it and got the attention of Navy nuke sub recruiters. I talked to them once as well. When my father heard, though, he pulled me aside with a look of strong concern. He asked me why I talked to them. I informed him I was a little worried about money. I wasn't, though. I really hadn't thought things through and thought of the first response I could imagine. I was recently turned 17. The first thing I thought about was actually the recruiters line. 'We can help cover costs.' Heh. My father knew recruiters FAR better than I did and likely saw right through me, but he just gave me a level look and told me not to worry about money. That response and his calm but very serious look spoke volumes. He obviously didn't want me going that direction.

So… I didn't.

Our host speaks occasionally of how some parents desire for their children to surpass them. In this particular civilization, it is often an unstated desire. I certainly could have gone into one of the branches of the military as an officer, but that was NOT surpassing him. He knew officers. He knew me. What he wanted was to clear the deck of all hurdles that blocked me from going to college and then grad school. That was all said with that level look and a few words.

So… I did.

I was about 23 before I finally started setting my own course consciously. By then, I was just mature enough to realize it really WAS mine to set. By then, I was in grad school and failing at it. It took me another year to pull out of that tailspin and a couple more to establish a path that led to graduation, which I eventually did.

For me… and him.

My brother's kids joined as NCO's, though, with one USAF, one USNR, and for essentially the same kind of reasons my father did. My brother married a 'very motivated' immigrant and his kids likely will surpass both their father and mother. My late brother was no slouch, though. He grew up quicker and surpassed my father at his own pace in a way of his own choosing. His kids will manage the same, I'm sure.

David Brin said...

Way kewl story, Alfred. You sound as if your dad was proud. And that you got along.

I'm glad we have Ilithi Dragon as (occasionally) part of our crew.If we ever make Contact with aliens, I'll swap three SETI scientists for two USN senior noncoms and one carrier group admiral.

TCB said...

My post office was never intended for delivery, but as a sorting facility (the machines were moved out of it years ago). So at day's end we back up to a dock that is about the height of my collar bone to unload our LLV's. We are supposed to lift boxes onto flat carts next to the dock edge. The carts look like this and weigh four or five hundred pounds. The bed of the cart is about level with my chin. There is nothing to prevent a cart from rolling off the dock, and it could pin and kill the person trying to load it.

One day we had safety inspectors touring the building, observing us on the street, and making mostly-pointless suggestions. I showed them the carts on the loading dock, expressed the view that these were the biggest safety hazard in the building, and offered the simple, foolproof solution. Just get pieces of 1 inch angle iron to lay on the floor at the edge of the dock, a foot or so wider than the door. Not permanently fixed, just laying there and stopping any cart that got too close to the edge. That's all it would take.

The one fellow, probably the head of the group, replied: "Hmmm. Maybe we should use chock blocks." A stupid alternative, but his ego couldn't simply accept the one I'd already offered on a silver platter.

Nothing was done. The carts are still a threat.

Der Oger said...


@Dr. Brin: "No one ever, ever answers. No matter how I vary the approaches. I never get even the courtesy they give regular folks or fans. Ever."

Did you ever run for an office?
Did you ever partner up with others for a grassroots initiative?
Would you give both it a try? If not, why, if, what would you try (in terms of specific, measurable, attractive, realistic goals) to achieve?

Darrell E said...

Alfred said . . .

"I remember the Armed Forces aptitude test. I smoked it and got the attention of Navy nuke sub recruiters."

Same here. Got offered the Navy's 7 years of school + 7(?) year minimum commitment nuclear program, and scholarships from every branch of the service and the DOD. I put some time in with recruiters and had pretty much decided to take one of the offers when someone actually noticed my birthday. "Terribly sorry but you're too young to enter the program when you graduate. You'll have to wait until the year after you graduate to enter the program." That pissed me off and I basically said "fuck you, I'll do it myself (get an education)." I still think of that as likely one of the worst mistakes of my life. Teenagers can be very smart, but still very stupid in some ways.

Larry Hart said...

Interesting sidebar...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Pres/Maps/Jan14.html#item-1

t has been reported—and is very believable—that the one thing Trump likes about being president is the fringe benefits. There are also fringe benefits of being an ex-president, including Secret Service protection, a pension (200K/year), and a generous travel allowance (up to $1M/year). These privileges are granted by congressional statute, and can be taken away by congressional statute. Indeed, if he's convicted by the Senate, everything except the USSS protection goes away automatically by the terms of the Former Presidents Act (well, probably, because the act specifically refers to removing benefits for "presidents" who are impeached and convicted, not "ex-presidents").


So an argument could be made that Trump keeps his benefits on a technicality if he is convicted as an ex-president, not as a president.

But in order to press that argument in court, he or Rudy Giuliani would have to assert for the record that Donald J Trump lost the election. That alone might be worthwhile.

Keith Halperin said...

@Dr. Brin. Thank you. I can understand that other people and organizations may not wish or be able to help you- it has happened frequently with my own modest endeavors. What does surprise me is that they don't want YOUR help with THEIR (mutually-compatible) goals...GOALWARD!

Larry Hart said...

Seriously? No, really, SERIOUSLY???

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/13/opinion/trump-impeachment-morality.html

Don’t get distracted. Officials have a history of looking in the wrong direction for threats, always suspecting “the other,” and that may be why the white Republican establishment fortified the Capitol during Black Lives Matter protests but left it poorly protected from pro-Trump rioters. As the Capitol attack was unfolding, Senator Susan Collins’s “first thought,” she said later, was that the Iranians were attacking.

David Brin said...

der Oger I have helped in many campaigns and was chair of several.

As for Collins... OMG… PLEASE. Someone finance a recount of votes in 3 random precincts in Maine. I strongly suspect there was cheating, all right. In places like that. If we found major cheats in just a few Maine precincts, who might be able to get rid of this awful person… and it would lead to recounts in every ES&S -counted ‘anomalous’ victory e.g. by Graham and McConnell.

Alfred Differ said...

Darrell E,

I remember clearly when I finally got smart enough to 'argue' with my mother logically for something I wanted to do... and win. I was 14 and it involved a Boy Scout campout in the dead of winter in Minnesota. She was concerned for my safety. Couldn't imagine why. I made the case that I wasn't dumb AND there were other adults there watching out for us.

She was right.

I didn't get hurt, but I DID recognize a little later that I'd placed myself in a stupid situation by winning that argument. My mother couldn't really protect me from my own stupidity anymore. 8)

Walked out into the desert at age 16 without enough water too. Survived it, but never did it again. It's astonishing how teen boys manage to survive while their brains are still completing their 'foresight' circuits.

Fortunately for the sake of my education, I did not go-it alone until I was 21. I knew what I wanted and both parents helped a great deal. Financially, my parents could have contributed more, but I wanted to work for some of it and they went along with that choice for a small fraction of my costs. Living at home while going to UNLV made it pretty cheap by modern standards. I covered fuel and food expenses and worked on campus. Worked out to my benefit because I got to meet my teachers/professors outside the classroom setting. Nothing makes for more personal recommendation letters than personal interactions.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Der Oger, Dr. Brin:
From Der Oger: "Did you ever partner up with others for a grassroots initiative?"
From Dr. Brin: "I have helped in many campaigns and was chair of several."

Dr. Brin, assuming the answer to the former is "yes" and you derived some satisfaction/success from those and your campaigns, why isn't that (sort of thing) enough?
To paraphrase Stoicism: "Do what you can with what you've got where you are." and to misquote The Divine Miss M: "F*** 'em if they won't take your call!"



scidata said...

Increasingly huge numbers
- grains of sand on all the beaches in the world
- stars in all the heavens
- cameras in DC

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/us/politics/trump-republicans.html

“Those who hold sway in Congress today look out on much of the country with disdain. Trump has never done that,” said State Representative David Eastman of Alaska, who attended the protest.


I guess disdain for cities and blue states doesn't count, huh?

TCB said...

@ Keith Halperin, it's easy to be Stoic when you're @MarcusAureliusImperator and everyone you know carries out your orders to the letter. Just sayin'.

David Brin said...

LH their disdain for cities and such... and races and women... is far exceeded by their bilious HATRED of smartypants type who know stuff.

Anonymous said...


https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/13/us/politics/biden-inauguration-national-guard-protests.html

Fully armed military embedded in a disarmed US Capital like a fox defending a tasty chicken. What could go wrong?


Best

David Brin said...

Locumranch I guess I can go easy on the banishment period. Just watch the all-out nastiness.

As for his attack on the integrity and loyalty of the National Guard and military, well, it's understandable. Since they realized the military is loyal first to the Constitution and democracy and also to fact-based reality, the mad right has been turning hard against them, as they smashed the faced of police protecting our capitol.

duncan cairncross said...

I would say that Locobranch and Dr Brin are both correct

The US Military, the Police and the National Guard all have significant numbers of Trump Cultists in their ranks

The question is just who is going to select the actual members of those forces that are going to guard the inauguration??

Is it one of Trumps very very recent appointees??

Is he just now busy examining the records and the Facebook pages of the next level officers that he can put in charge??

If Trump was a competent leader then IMHO the USA would be in deep shit

Keith Halperin said...

@ TCB: Re: Stoicism:
All I've actually read of stoicism is Mark's "Meditations".
I like the IDEA of stoicism, but am not not a Stoic- I moan and groan about EVERYTHING and do not accept and welcome all experiences with equanimity.
However, I like what I call the secondary aspects of Stoicism:
Most of the commonly-thought things many people say they want (fame, fortune, fancy/expensive things) are bullshit and at the "end of the day" (aka, "the end of one's life") you should be able to say, "I did what I could to make things better." and BTW: "When you're dead, it won't matter anyway..."
I do frequently say to people (and believe): "Any day I'm above ground is a good day, and any day I'm below ground I don't care."
When the "current situation" (the "'Rona") arose I thought, "Well, it probably won't get me but if it does, I've had a pretty good run- saw some pretty and interesting things, had some good experiences, wasn't the worst husband/father/friend, and helped some folks (and the world) be a little better off than they were without me. Not too shabby- could've been worse."
Hope I continue on that way for a bit longer and still feel that way at the end, knowing I've made things a little better and being content with that.
I think THAT'S what Stoicism is really trying to encourage, but what do I know?

@Dr. Brin:
On a less thoughtful note, over on the Charlie Stross blog, someone praised you by saying:
"...he uses a larger vocabulary than most people, yet makes it possible to understand what the obscure words mean from context."
I'll check with them and see if I can let you know who they are.

David Brin said...

KH yeah. a trait I indulged especially in THE UPLIFT WAR. Phew.

Tony Fisk said...

@duncan I am inclined to believe competent dictators think their bread's buttered on the same side as everyone else (even if they do want more).

Not a belief to peg all hope on, however, and there are quite enough incompetent dictators floating around at the moment.

Stoicism could be viewed as the grace to accept what cannot be changed (but possibly omits the courage to change what cannot be accepted.)

Larry Hart said...

How many times can we be reminded of the Monty Python bit with the Piranha Brothers?

"In a fit of pique, he napalmed Chelsea. Even the police had to stand up and take notice."

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/15/opinion/trump-second-impeachment.html

When a mob incited by the president ransacked the Capitol, killing one policeman and pummeling others, it also tore down a veil. Suddenly, all but the most fanatical partisans admitted that Trump was exactly who his fiercest critics have always said he was.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/opinion/mike-pompeo-state-department.html

On Tuesday Mr. Pompeo declared that Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization behind the Sept. 11 attacks, had found a new home base in Iran. “They are partners in terrorism, partners in hate,” he declared without offering any evidence.


Because, you know, Shi'a and Sunnis play so well together.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Tony: re Stoicism: Again, I'm no expert (and as indicated not really a Stoic in the formal sense), but my impression is that there ISN"T that passive element that you mentioned. Rather, it stresses working toward the "good" when possible, as this is the only meaningful reward we have in life.

@ SciData: Maybe psycho-history could develop a evidence-based ethics for humanity?

David Brin said...

"Because, you know, Shi'a and Sunnis play so well together." Yeah I thought that. Yet the ability of fanatics to rationalize is huge.

Today's MAGAs claim to be anti-ccommunists! While they suck up to an "ex" KGB agent and 100 ruling Russian former commissars but now 'oligarchs" who dropped the hammers and sickles they were raised saluting. Riiiight.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

the ability of fanatics to rationalize is huge.


Middle Eastern terrorists used to claim that 9/11 was perpetrated by 4000 Jews at the same time they praised Osama Bin Laden for hurting America.

MAGAts claim that the Capitol violence was a false flag perpetrated by BLM and "antifa" while their own internet celebrities post their own crimes on social media.

So nothing surprises me.


Today's MAGAs claim to be anti-ccommunists! While they suck up to an "ex" KGB agent and 100 ruling Russian former commissars


Notice how all of a sudden, every description of how we're turning communist references China rather than the Soviet Union. Even though China's mix of authoritarianism and state capitalism used to be an aspirational model for Republicans.

jim said...

Larry
The two most famous Stoics are an emperor (Markus Aurelius) and a slave (Seneca) so it is a massive misunderstanding to think you need a bunch of minions to be a stoic.

Here is what I would consider to be a Stoic version of the Prayer for Serenity

Please grant me the serenity to accept the wisdom that most of the world is far beyond by ability to control. Grant me the wisdom, determination and courage to focus on the thing that I can actually change: myself – my actions, my reactions, my thoughts, my desires and my outlook on life.

(mastering yourself is the lifelong goal for stoics)

David Brin said...

No doubt Seneca has slaves of his own.

Duncan Ocel said...

It seems like if he takes a few more steps toward Wu Wei he'll be a Daoist.

jim said...

That was an odd reaction to Stoicism, David.


"“They are slaves.”
No, they are human beings.
“They are slaves.”
No, they are housemates.
“They are slaves.”
No, they are lowborn friends.
“They are slaves.”
Fellow slaves, rather, if you keep in mind that fortune has its way with you just as much as with them.
(Letters, XLVII.1)
This is the stunning beginning of Seneca’s 47th letter to his friend Lucilius."

Keith Halperin said...

@ Jim:
Thanks. I believe that someone can control their actions and outlook on life (within brain chemical limits); I'm not sure about the thoughts and reactions. That goes to my brief discussion to SciData- I'd like to see if over the next several decades we can develop an approach to living (ethics + whatever type of philosophy we're talking about here, with Stoicism as an example) based on an evidence-based understanding of human behavior- neuro-science, cognitive science, behavioral economics, applied sociology aka, "psycho-history," etc.
If we can't determine how people and societies should act (within a very broad range) to encourage "human flourishing" (however defined), perhaps we can clearly learn how they shouldn't act, or at least gauge the parameters of what we CAN'T learn. (This goes to an extension of my belief that debates should be only between people who have given examples of when they've changed their minds. The extension is that actually, we should only debate with people on non-empirical subjects, because if there is an answer that can be found and agreed upon- there's no point in arguing about it.)

Der Oger said...

@Larry Hart:"I said something similar, though more crudely, a few days ago. The divide in this country is between the reality-based and the fantasy-based. I suppose the signs were there when bookstore "science fiction" sections became overrun with Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, and Game of Thrones."

What I find noteworthy is that many fantasy authors - from JRR Tolkien to George Martin - built worlds that were basically post-apocalyptic. Human hybris, dangerous sorcery, the wrath of the gods led to the destruction of the much-lamented "Good old world", and to the current age of darkness wherein the respective heroes must prevail, and perhaps usher in a new golden era. In a way, the expulsion from paradise and the revelation are re-narrated again and again.

That might have an appeal to certain people.

Also, the mentioned works are also successful because they appear in several categories of media - books, movies, tabletop games, computer games. (Yes, there are D&D movies, but do not make me responsible for sudden losses of sanity by me mentioning it.) There are only some Sci Fi works crossing all lines - Dune, The Expanse, Blade Runner, Star Trek (if these are Science Fiction for you). And some of these crossovers are already really old.

Designing believable fantasy worlds is, in a way, easier than designing believable science fiction settings, perhaps somehow the word "lazy" can be applied to the former. Or the latter requires more work, more background knowledge and dedication to succeed. The same goes for consuming these products, I assume.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

Also, the mentioned works are also successful because they appear in several categories of media - books, movies, tabletop games, computer games.


They can appeal to whoever likes them, but I hate to see the science fiction sections overrun with them. Even Star Wars--of which I was a huge fan in 1977--is not really science fiction, although it has many sci-fi trappings.

A comics writer/artist named Scott McCloud did a book called Understanding Comics back in the early 90s. His thesis was that what makes comics "comics" is the juxtaposition of images--that space on the page does for comics what time does for movies. Then, he pointed out that by his definition, single-panel newspaper strips like "Family Circus" or "The Far Side" don't count as comics. Even though they make use of the same "language", such as drawings of characters and word balloons.

In that same vein, I'd say Star Wars makes use of the same "language" as science fiction, but is not itself science fiction.

TCB said...

Serious answer @ duncan cairncross, I have read that the FBI have been doing background checks on the National Guard who are deployed in Washington this week. Anyone who seems fishy can stay home and make sure the toilets are so clean you could eat off 'em.

Keith Halperin said...

@Der Oger: This brings back a question I posed awhile back:
Should a work of science fiction turn be considered fantasy when an element of it is (or becomes) counter-factual?
Is fantasy where old science fiction goes to die?
(I wish my former professor Jack Williamson were around to join this discussion...)

scidata said...

@Keith Halperin

Just to clarify, I know very little about 'deep' psychohistory. I'm pretty good at soldering simplistic circuits and writing snippets of cognition in Forth - that's all. Shortly after I wrote that 2011 article, a researcher at Rutgers asked me if I'd be interested in exploring the concept in actuality. I politely declined as someone who knows their own limitations. I keep my comments in CB parsimonious for the same reason. Also to be honest, I do have doubts about polemics, sociology, and most especially doctrine. When you mix politics and science, you get politics. If you want the deep stuff, read (or re-read) "Foundation's Triumph" or even go way back to Ampère and Laplace.

Surviving Seldon crises and seeing humanity grow into the trillions as a galactic entity is a beautiful dream, too beautiful to be sullied by ideology or doctrine.

Calculemus!

Duncan Ocel said...

@Keith Halperin
A definition for scifi I have enjoyed is that it uses its superreal setting to force reflection about real-life society, whereas the setting for fantasy is arbitrary and not used for introspection.
This may be an unfavorable definition as far as fantasy is concerned, but Star Wars earned it. The Lord of the Rings not so much, perhaps.

duncan cairncross said...

TCB - I hope you are right!

But I wonder if the FBI has the power to do that?? -

Tony Fisk said...

By Keith's measure, any story that involves ftl travel would become fantasy. ST did occasionally dabble with the fantastic, but really?

The line can get blurred, which is why I prefer SF= Speculative fiction. If a line is needed, I think the author's intention is a better measure of whether a story is sf or fantasy. Anne McCaffrey argued that her tales of teleporting, fire breathing dragons were sf. Vance's Dying Earth and Wolfe's New Sun tales are fantasy, even though both authors had a fair grasp of scientific principles. Anderson's 'Three Hearts and Three Lions', and 'The Broken Sword' may both be considered fantasy, although the first is anchored in scientific principles, while the latter is in the Edda.

Speaking of such matters, is anyone here interested in a clifi story writing contest? (they want basically optimistic tales about how we somehow made it over the line to 2200*. No need for sugar coating, but post-apocalyptic scenarios are discouraged.)

* coincidentally(?) around the time of first contact in the Uplift tales.

Tony Fisk said...

@Duncan I don't think a Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) fits the arbitrary non-introspective definition of fantasy, and the Discworld novels are nearly pure introspection. Exceptions are the rule on this topic!

Larry Hart said...

Keith Halperin:

Should a work of science fiction turn be considered fantasy when an element of it is (or becomes) counter-factual?
Is fantasy where old science fiction goes to die?


I don't think this is accurate, but don't have time to go into the subject right now. Will ruminate later.

Duncan Ocel:

A definition for scifi I have enjoyed is that it uses its superreal setting to force reflection about real-life society, whereas the setting for fantasy is arbitrary and not used for introspection.


Hmmmm, that doesn't seem quite right either. Game of Thrones for example is fantasy, but seems to have a lot to say about human nature and society. Whereas Iron Man for example is more like a cotton candy plot (though it looks great which was the early appeal of Star Wars too) and yet seems more sci-fi than fantasy.

@Anyone:
Here might be a clue. Star Wars can be comfortably called fantasy because of mystical elements like The Force. Battlestar Galactica (the first incarnation anyway) didn't have those elements, so it feels weird to call it fantasy. Yet it is no more about the impact of technology on society than Star Wars or Iron Man are. Do we need a third category for such stories? I'm starting to lean toward "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it" as a definition of science-fiction. :)

Der Oger said...

@Keith Halperin: No, I don't think so. Past Sci Fi should get their own category - if their predictions have become obsolete at all. Consider Jules Verne's works, for example, which were not so much about the technology itself, but it's possible abuse and I think they are still relevant today.

I don't know if my observation is right, but imho, Sci Fi reached it's height in the decades directly following WWII and the start of the cold war, and declined in the nineties, whereas Fantasy (including Star Wars) rose in popularity. Perhaps we will see a new surge when these troublesome times are over. (Or it helps to overcome them? Making science and reason attractive again?)

David Brin said...

In VIVID TOMORROWS: SF&Hollywood, (soon from McFarlard) I maintain that SF differs from Fantasy much more re the possibility of dealing with CHANGE.

Daniel Duffy said...

BTW, did you hear that we don't have vaccine reserve after all?

I'm shocked to find out that Warp Speed was an abject failure and that Donald Trump is a liar.

Shocked.

However it does explain why America has only 4% of the world's population but 25% of the covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile new mutations like the more highly contagious British version are spreading unchecked.

Don't like lockdowns? Don't like disrupting the economy?

Well then, you all better hope and pray that the vaccine roll out stays ahead of the rapidly spreading mutation and Biden can fix Trump's fuck up.

You see, one of the the things people don't think about is truckers.

If the pandemic was just slightly more deadly and slightly more contagious truckers would have refused to drive their trucks.

America's internal supply chain is crazy efficient - and very, very brittle.

If trucks stop moving we are all about 3 days away from empty store shelves.

There are emergency plans (seriously) in place to transfer shipment of vital goods by the military with soldiers and national guard taking over the driving of trucks hauling food and other essentials.

So how many weeks/months do you thing it will be until such a program runs smoothly?

My advice: if you see any news blurb about truckers refusing to roll their rigs I suggest you make tracks to your nearest Costco and/or Sam's Club with both automobiles (or rent a U-haul truck) and load up on everything you can dump into your shopping carts as you race through the aisles (just like those grocery game show contestants, only with a lot more aggressive intent).

Daniel Duffy said...

Hey, about that rapidly spreading mutation..

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/12/virus-mutation-catastrophe/617531/?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits&fbclid=IwAR3NwL32H-ou9rzZAcDAqqmpYqIQ7ZrqXDvf6xGWWIOtR2Rx4bKIamF8ItU

The Mutated Virus Is a Ticking Time Bomb
There is much we don’t know about the new COVID-19 variant—but everything we know so far suggests a huge danger.


Take a virus reproduction rate of about 1.1 and an infection fatality risk of 0.8 percent and imagine 10,000 active infections—a plausible scenario for many European cities, as Kucharski notes. As things stand, with those numbers, we’d expect 129 deaths in a month. If the fatality rate increased by 50 percent, that would lead to 193 deaths. In contrast, a 50 percent increase in transmissibility would lead to a whopping 978 deaths in just one month—assuming, in both scenarios, a six-day infection-generation time.

You see, an increase in death rates is linear while increases in infection rates are exponential.

I recall trying to explain the difference to certain people who downplayed this pandemic almost a year.

Hopefully some of that lesson has sunk in by now.

You see, the new mutation is now about where the original covid-19 was a year ago.

P.S. Should we call this new mutation Covid-20?

Duncan Ocel said...

I should have phrased it better. The definition I was trying to convey is that the setting/universe is crucial in generating introspection in sci fi, and in fantasy the setting is arbitrary. The story could happen in a different setting without compromising on substance, and introspection is generated by nonsetting elements.

Game of Thrones generates its introspection through interactions between characters and power structures. These could easily be translocated to another setting with power dynamics and without magic: yakuza, factions in the Russian revolution, space miners, etc. The story and themes are arbitrarily placed into their setting.
Earthsea is all about introspection, but its setting is arbitrary as well; it could just as well take place in the nonmagical Canadian forest with woodcutters and a bright, university-bound child. Ursula could find introspection anywhere.

But Frankenstein requires an aspect of its universe for success: a human has to create another human. Stranger in a Strange Land requires for a human to be able to perform extraordinary feats using willpower.

How does that suit you?

Also, has anyone made a better version of this yet?
http://www.wardshelley.com/paintings/pages/fullpics/HistSciFi2.jpg

Larry Hart said...

Ok, here are my ruminations on trying to define science fiction, fantasy, and whatever else pretends to those categories without actually being them. Caveats--I speak only as a fan with a decent command of the English language, not as any kind of expert on the subject. Also, I will probably not be entirely in line with what our host thinks. So be it.

No, science-fiction doesn't become something else just because its premises are disproven later by science or history. Good examples: In the late 80s, I read (for the first time) Asimov's pre-Foundation Empire novels The Stars Like Dust, The Currents of Space, and Pebble in the Sky. These were new printings, and each one had a short forward by the author describing how a particular bit of scientific speculation that had seemed plausible in the 50s no longer seemed so after the intervening 30 years. I give him credit that he didn't retcon the stories, but rather simply implored his readers to take the stories for what they were. My point is, the science or technology or prediction coming to be seen as false does not move the book from science fiction to fantasy.

So what is the difference? Again caveat--a lot of this is "I know it when I see it." Why is Time After Time science fiction, but Somewhere in Time fantasy? See previous sentence.

There seem to be three distinct types of stories which get bundled together as science fiction--those about advanced technology, those about space aliens, and those predicting the future. I have a hard time thinking of any of these types of stories as "fantasy", no matter how outlandish or disproven the story elements are. Those that one might not consider true science fiction would be something else, not fantasy.


When I hear "fantasy", I think "magic", or "supernatural", or at least some sort of wish fulfilment in defiance of our knowledge of how the world works. I'm not saying that's an absolute, but it seems to have bearing to me. Science fiction, OTOH, is about advancements within the parameters of reality. New ways of building stuff. New frontiers barely imagined. "Where does this lead?". A speculation proven wrong does not change the way the story uses its elements. Wizardry nudges a story toward fantasy in a way that reliance on Unobtanium (tm) does not.

Comics writer Steven Grant once wrote a column in which he defined science fiction as a story in which technology affects the characters in some profound way. He claimed that the movie Singing in the Rain was a science fiction movie, because the conflict was driven by an advance in technology--in that case, sound in movies.

Star Wars is my big example of something that pretends to be sci-fi, but in reality is more appropriately called "space opera". The setting involves planets and spaceships and ray guns, but the plot is more like a pirate movie or a western than anything about science or technology. The SW saga could reasonably be called fantasy, but not because the science isn't real or is irrelevant to the plot. It's because of magical elements such as The Force. Battlestar Galactica was absent the supernatural elements, and I can't think of it as fantasy, even though it lacks sci-fi cred in the same way Star Wars does.

I'll leave the rant at that for now until something meaningful occurs to me.

Robert said...

The SW saga could reasonably be called fantasy

I've seen the term "science fantasy" used to describe fiction where the science-fictional elements are just window-dressing. A lot of Golden Age SF falls into that category as well.

Tony Fisk said...

By Steven Grant's definition, 'The Great Dictator' could be science fiction (the end speech, at least)

"The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all."
(Although Herr erm... Hinkler's been using these inventions otherwise.)

Daniel Duffy said...

RE: Science Fiction.

It's never about the future.

Daniel Duffy said...

It is well known that Dr. Is not fond of Star Wars with its anti-democratic, elitists Jedi elevated by superior midichlorians blood lines.

I agree with him, except for the recent Mandalorian series. Baby Yoda is just too damn cute to hate. And Mando is totally bad ass. It's the best Western on TV today.

However, if Dr. Brin dislikes Star Wars, he must really hate all things Tolkien with heroes born of superior Numenorian blood and those oh so perfect Elves who think they are so freaking special.

It's enough to make you want to puke and/or join up with Sauron.

Which is why I would love to see a movie adaption of "The Last Ring Bearer", a Tolkien parody by Kirill Eskov, where the Orcs are the good guys. From the Wikipedia article:

Eskov bases his novel on the premise that the Tolkien account is a "history written by the victors".[2][3] Eskov's version of the story describes Mordor as a peaceful constitutional monarchy on the verge of an industrial revolution, that poses a threat to the war-mongering and imperialistic faction represented by Gandalf (whose attitude has been described by Saruman as "crafting the Final Solution to the Mordorian problem") and the racist elves.[2] For example, Barad-dûr, Sauron's citadel, appears in chapter 2 as

...that amazing city of alchemists and poets, mechanics and astronomers, philosophers and physicians, the heart of the only civilization in Middle-earth to bet on rational knowledge and bravely pitch its barely adolescent technology against ancient magic. The shining tower of the Barad-dûr citadel rose over the plains of Mordor almost as high as Orodruin like a monument to Man – free Man who had politely but firmly declined the guardianship of the Dwellers on High and started living by his own reason. It was a challenge to the bone-headed aggressive West, which was still picking lice in its log ‘castles’ to the monotonous chanting of scalds extolling the wonders of never-existing Númenor.

P.S. After the return of the King, did King Aragorn send his new prime minister Faramir eastward to complete genocide (or at least ethnic cleansing) of the Orcs?

TheMadLibrarian said...

Daniel -- Hawaii already sees runs on Costco whenever a hurricane approaches. Unfortunately, although we had our obligatory shelves emptied of bumwipe and hand sanitizer, no one seems to have extrapolated to what happens when the cargo ships stop moving for longer than a couple of weeks. My pantry is currently full, and will probably remain so until much of the population is vaccinated. Unfortunately, the current methods of distribution are hamfisted and disjoint at best.
Have you read "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality"? It's available online at http://www.hpmor.com/ I believe Dr. Brin (and most of the regulars here) would enjoy the dissection and inversion of the wizarding world.

David Brin said...

Yeah I know Methods of Rationality. Loved it! Though I offered my own alternative ending.


Now

onward
onward