Sunday, January 17, 2021

World: please celebrate for us! (But not Vlad.)

Many factors are at work in the drama that’s unfolding this week, and maybe the least important player is a whining toddler who will rant at at Joint Base Andrews, Wednesday morning, screaming for attention after running around the White House prying the letter “J” off keyboards and leaving doobies in the ventilation ducts. There will be worse.* And just-in-case, I’ve urged that Biden, Harris and Pelosi keep distant (social and precautionary) from each other, while offering us all words of hope that America is back, baby.

Three groups will matter a lot, now and for weeks to come: foreign friends, foreign and domestic enemies… and nerds. I’ll get to Vladimir Putin and his fear of renewed western skill, in a bit. but first, here’s a call for our friends around the world to celebrate for us.

== Dancing in the Streets ==

To our allies around the world and to all friends of freedom, enlightenment, science and progress -- please turn out, the Wednesday.  Our domestic, home-grown enemies of progress -- many of them dear neighbors lured into furious madness by Fox/Sinclair/Goebbels liars, far more than by that pathetic toddler -- have triggered immune response by our protective services, locking down the American Capital and other cities when Joe Biden takes the oath of office, even more than we're compelled by a Trump-amplified pandemic.  

As  a result, Americans won't be pouring into the streets to celebrate nearly as much as we want to. But YOU, our allies in wanting an enlightened, forward-looking, fact-seeing and decently-just world, YOU can celebrate for us!

We ask that you fill your most famous streets with flags and balloons and signs that congratulate not just Joe Biden but all of us, including you fellow members of the Great Enlightenment Experiment!  Oh, stay safely masked and distanced! But please, make a good show of welcoming America back.

Because we need encouragement, right now! It truly would help Joe & Kamala, a lot. And also because, well, a dynamic and forward-looking, scientific-creative and generous USA is still necessary, if we want a civilization worthy of the stars. 

Certainly our enemies think so, given how hard they have striven to bring us down. Which brings us to...

== I wouldn’t be in Vlad’s shoes ==

I hope I’m wrong. I pray that I am wrong. But given the nearly 100% perfect record of Trumpian Republicans betraying the West and giving the Kremlin everything is wants (offer me large wager stakes on that: I will own your house), tearing down our sciences and alliances, weakening US entrepreneurship, waging war against all fact-using professions and instigating civil war, I have to worry whether the quarter million men and women in our security and intel agencies are even ready to teach Vladimir Putin that it’s time to back off.

1. For four years the top political-appointee slots atop those agencies have been people of at-best questionable qualification or loyalty. I have no doubt that skilled professionals isolated/cauterized the worst of them. But it is quite possible that an evisceration or rot-from-above has plunged deep into the ranks of those whose skill and professionalism won the Cold War and the War on terror, while treasonous, Sinclair agitprop demoralized them with slanders like “deep state.”

2. Putin is desperately getting in final licks. Yesterday he pulled out of the Open Skies Treaty that Trump formally exited a couple of months ago.  I expected (and obviously so did Vlad) that Biden would rejoin almost instantly (along with the Paris Accords on climate) since the Open Skies Treaty VASTLY favored Europe and the West and Putin long chafed over allowing NATO planes to crisscross Russia. Giving Putin an excuse to quick-exit that treaty - and the Intermediate Forces Agreement and others - was among the countless favors performed for him by the Kremlin’s White House agent. 

ALAS, not a single news report (that I’ve seen) has looked at this matter of timing. But watch. Don’t be distracted by Trump’s sudden tsunami of pardons! Vlad will do as many last-minute sabotages as Trump, these last few days.

3. On the other hand, Vlad’s got to be nervous. Surely some corner of our ‘deep state’ has been un-suborned, preparing options to offer the new president. Ways to - in some measured degree - at least smack the relabeled (but almost identical in staff, goals and methods) Soviet KGB across the snoot and say “back off!”  Oh, how wonderful - for example - if the Russian people were suddenly to see how much of their nation is now owned by “ex” Soviet commissars, now relabeled as billionaire oligarch mafia dons.

Okay. Revenge doesn’t interest the mature… and we count on Joe to be mature and judicious. So I expect to be frustrated and angry at his levels of restraint! Because… well… I am not ‘mature.’

4. I’ve spoken relentlessly about what simply has to be the elephant in the room, in DC. What I expect will be revealed as a mountain of blackmail.  We all saw in the recent Borat movie how trivially easy it is to lure many males into kompromat traps, and Russian spy services are much more adept at it than Sacha Baron Cohen. They have been doing it since the 1800s.  Elsewhere I warn those newly arriving in DC to be wary! 

If I’m right, then no event would so dramatically reverse our current troubles than a tidal wave of light. Some of the most blatant examples, for whom there is no other conceivable explanation than blackmail - Graham, Cruz, Rubio, Collins and Anthony Kennedy - could at any moment turn their legacy from zero to hero, by helping turn the tables on their tormentors. But don’t expect that. At least not till Biden establishes a Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

5. Extending that more generally, Putin knows his edifice will collapse if the West gets good intel. It's hard to retaliate or deter the current wave of relentless Muscovite attacks when we are blind! Part of that blindness will be solved when our defenders are no longer hampered by the quislings who were appointed over them by a Putin-blackmailed shill. 

But that leaves out an even more significant factor. That HALF of our good intel during the Cold War came from defectors, who would regularly even the playing field by bringing over vast floods of information, counterbalancing excellent KGB spycraft and our disadvantages as an open society.

==The vital importance of the moral high ground ==

During the Cold War, defectors were attracted by three things. We offered:

1) Safety

2) Good prospects

3) The moral high ground.

I’ve tried to explain this - repeatedly - to large audiences at CIA, fer gosh sakes!** - how the patterns of FSB/Putin actions all fit an overall aim of demolishing western alliances (Trump accomplishment #1) plus systematically toppling all three pillars that brought us recurring waves of defectors from the USSR. 

To that end, 'botched' assassinations of Russian dissidents were actually perfectly executed, achieving terror in potential defectors. 

Above all, the Trumpian campaign to crush and despoil the US moral high ground has been Putin's greatest accomplishment….

…but that victory can be reversed if our friends around the world do that one thing - both for us and for themselves and the planet and their children and the future:

Celebrate for us! 

Show the world that you know Donald Trump was an aberration! That the confederate side of our recurring American fever is and always has been a minority of fervid lunacy and when the blue is back, we can resume being a scientific, progress-seeking, problem-solving, egalitarian beacon and partner in making a better world.

And the forces of evil, trying to re-impose 6000 years of wretched, failed rule-by-oligarchy will fade under waves of cleansing light.


*Rent the first episode of the Kiefer Sutherland TV series DESIGNATED SURVIVOR. 

** And yes I am regularly invited back.


scidata said...

True allies ignore clown-troll tweets. This is our Enlightenment too. ad astra.

TCB said...

In the original Chris Matthews book Hardball, which made him famous and lent its name to his TV show, he makes the point that there's nothing wrong with being angry or vengeful, as long as you subordinate them to your objectives. It's only a mistake when you let anger or vengeance derail your objectives. He quotes Reagan saying "Always throw your golf clubs in the direction you're walking."

Right now, we need all the anger and vengeance we can get. These scummy Republicans, I can tell you what they will do if we let them. They did it in 2008. They were utterly repudiated, discredited, out of power when Obama was inaugurated. They spent about sixty days under the table, licking their wounds. Then they pulled out their wallets and started spooling up the Tea Party, complete with shiny brand-new buses and lots of positive media coverage on Fox. Within two years they were back in control of the House.

After Watergate, they went from the canvas to total power in six years. They, and most certainly their bought media, must be beggared and demolished. Soon. If we let them off the canvas again, they'll be back by 2024 and democracy in the US will end, probably forever.


On a brighter note, Joe Biden is doing a lot of stuff right now that I really like, such as raising his science and tech advisor to Cabinet level.

Larry Hart said...

Responses to posts under the previous comments...


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.

Well, I distinguish between something like Star Wars (the saga as a whole moreso than the original movie) which I consider fantasy because it has supernatural elements (The Force) vs something like the 1970s Battlestar Galactica which is like what you describe above without the supernatural. The term "space opera" is probably appropriate, though it doesn't explain what I'm talking about. I wouldn't consider it fantasy, but neither would I call it science fiction, despite it using science fiction trappings.

Someone else here put it well--the plot could take place in a different setting (like the old American West) and not suffer a bit.

Tony Fisk:

(Although Herr erm... Hinkler's been using these inventions otherwise.)

Well, the person giving the speech wasn't the real Hinkler.

Daniel Duffy:

except for the recent Mandalorian series. Baby Yoda is just too damn cute to hate.

That's how cats get to you. :)

TCB said...

Well, the 1970's Battlestar Galactica is actually a heavy Christian allegory. They lay it on with a trowel. That's why Lorne Greene plays a leader named Adama. If I recall correctly, they even had a main character shot dead by the Devil himself. I remember one episode where they visited a sinful planet called Gamma Ray (Gomorrah, get it?) That place didn't end well.

The only old science fiction show I never got into was Doctor Who. Not because it was bad, but because the multi-part format, pre-cable, virtually guaranteed that I'd get invested in a story and then never ever get to see how it turned out.

Larry Hart said...

A nine minute video attempt at deprogramming Republicans from the Trump cult.

Worth watching if you like that kind of thing.

There is no national antifa network
pretending to be fascist Trump supporters who want civil war.
"Antifa" are anti-fascists
who only exist right now
because there are fascist Trump supporters threatening civil war,
inspired by the official Republican platform
which doesn't have anything in it.

David Brin said...

In fact, the original Battlestar was MORMON!

Larry Hart said...

The original BattleStar Galactica might have been heavy on the religion, but that in itself doesn't make fantasy. Admittedly, I stopped watching during the first season--mainly because I didn't have my own tv in college--so I might have missed supernatural elements which showed up later. But in my estimation, there is a big difference between stories about characters who believe in the supernatural vs stories with actual supernatural story elements.

Almost any drama movie has religious characters in it. Characters are often portrayed as good if they pray for deliverance at a crucial moment. That doesn't make the stories fantasy in the sense that we talk about fantasy and science fiction. The climax of The Godfather had all kinds of religious iconography as Michael became godfather to Connie's baby (while his enemies were being simultaneously slaughtered). That doesn't make The Godfather fantasy.

Der Oger said...

@Dr. Brin: I don't believe you will see much of a party in other nations. The best you can hope for is a collective sigh of relief: "Thank God, it's over'.

Shortly after Biden's victory was announced, most allied nations' leaders congratulated, and the big weights of our foreign policy and media discussed what we could expect from a Biden administration, and came to two sobering conclusions:

1) That even with Mr. Biden at the helm, there will be areas of conflict (NATO contributions, Nord Stream, exports), though the discussion will return to a much more polite level; and Biden might continue policies (e.g. tariffs) that Trump started.
2) That the domestic political situation in the US may give us another Trump in four or eight years (and this time, we might end up with a competent fascist) and thus, the reliability of the US as a long-term ally is questionable.

Regarding Putin: While he masterfully exploited the weaknesses the US electoral and political system has, he is not the reason for the fractions and conflicts of your society. (And a rhethorical question: Would the US refrain from influencing the political climate of another nation if it served them?).

I believe him to be less strong than a decade before, yes, and even to be nervous, but I attribute it also to his tanking economy, Covid, the rising internal dissent, overextension, and perhaps his own health failing. And he needs a successor that does not arrest & execute him and his family/friends during the first day in office.

That said, I will quietly celebrate the inauguration. Thank God, it's over.

DP said...

You want to destroy Putin and the Russian oligarchs?

They are a classic hydraulic despotism based on oil.

So you destroy them when you destroy the value of oil via widespread adoption of alternate forms of energy, leaving them with stranded assets by bursting the Carbon Bubble.

Here’s something critical it took me a long time (and the patience of a few smart friends) to understand: the Carbon Bubble will pop not when high-carbon practices become impossible, but when their profits cease to be seen as reliable.

As it becomes clear that these assets will not produce profit in the future, their valuations will drop — even if the businesses that own them continue to function for years. The value of oil companies will collapse long before the last barrel of oil is burned; the value of beachfront hotels will collapse long before rising tides flood their lobbies.

Put another way: The pop comes when people understand that growth in these industries is over and that, in fact, these industries are now going to contract. That’s when investors start pulling out and looking for safer bets. As investors begin to flee these companies, others realize more devaluation is on the way, so they want to get out before the drop: a trickle of divestment becomes a flood and the price collapses. What triggers the drop is investors ceasing to believe the company has a strong future.

Because that risk already exists, the pop is way closer than most people understand.

DP said...

In 1945 the Germans had planned a prolonged guerilla campaign against Allied occupiers.

Think ISIS in Iraq on steroids, or the KKK after the Civil War.

Code named "Werewolves", these die hard SS men were going to take to the Alps and forests of Germany and Austria to wage a guerilla campaign of terrorism until the Allies got tired and left.

How did we defeat them?

We gave Germans good jobs in a prosperous Germany via the Marshall plan.

The Werewolves movement fizzled out as they were turned in by family and friends or came in from the cold to get a fat paycheck.

Want to get rid of Trump's MAGA terrorists?

Have a Marshall plan for rural America.

john fremont said...


IIRC, the planet Kobol from which they journeying from in the Battlestar Galactica series was an anagram of Kolob. The planet Kolob is mentioned in the Book of Abraham , one of the canonical books of the Mormon church.

David said...

TCB: "After Watergate, they went from the canvas to total power in six years. They, and most certainly their bought media, must be beggared and demolished. Soon. If we let them off the canvas again, they'll be back by 2024 and democracy in the US will end, probably forever."

You are hitting the mark here; at the root of the problem is the echo chamber that, in conjunction with the algorithm-driven online media, serve perfectly to 1) identify the MOST rage-producing info-bits; 2) elevate them from obscure blogs to Twitter; 3) signal-boost via Fox/Sinclair; 4) signal-boost further via Trump's statements; 5) become "accepted baseline knowledge" for their audience.

Look how many GOP voters now take it as "obvious" that Trump being in Putin's pocket - no matter how extensive the evidence of this treason - is just part of the "Russia Hoax." That, as the rioters chanted, "Russia is our friend!"

I'm old enough to remember the time when, if you said things like that in public, you would be ostracized & cast out of American society, and more likely than not, get not-so-friendly visits from the FBI.

David Brin said...

The myth of the economically depressed Trump voter is stunning bull.

Yes, we need to push econ advancement for rural america. But there will be no gratitude. This is psychological and the hatred of nerds is not economic. It is visceral.

Robert said...

Would the US refrain from influencing the political climate of another nation if it served them?

How often does that happen?

Robert said...

I'm old enough to remember the time when, if you said things like that in public, you would be ostracized & cast out of American society, and more likely than not, get not-so-friendly visits from the FBI.

I'm old enough to remember when having to meekly follow the instructions of law enforcement/border guards was a sign you were behind the Iron Curtain. When anonymous police in unmarked vans taking people from the streets meant you were in a dictatorship.

Your country obviously started going this way after 9/11. This looks like more of more of the same.

In somewhat related news, I read this morning that the top 63 billionaires in America increased their assets from 3 billion to 4 billion.

Tim H. said...

"The myth of the economically depressed Trump voter is stunning bull." More like a half truth. If the future begins to look positive for the majority, eventually new NAZIs will go back to being a fringe movement, but it'll be difficult without an overhaul of contemporary conservatism, who seem to want the World broken, so they can remake it closer to their heart, but increasingly look like they'll only be able to do half of the job.

Jon S. said...

I'm not sure I want crowds pouring into streets pretty much anywhere, except maybe New Zealand (and anywhere else COVID has been essentially defeated). Shouting in joy on a crowded street is pretty much the definition of a superspreader event.

OTOH, be sure to celebrate on whatever social media you prefer - Twitter, Facebook, Parler if that's your kink, whatever - as it seems to be about 80% of the modern ideological battleground anyway. (I've already begun, in a way - renamed my ship in Star Trek Online the USS Eugene Goodman. She's a Paladin-class temporal battlecruiser, wearing a holographic Ranger-class skin because I really like the TOS-style aesthetic.)

TCB said...

Interesting about the Battlestar/Mormon connection. When I was watching this show in my teens I knew little about Mormons except that they existed, lived in Utah, and were some kind of odd Christian offshoot. So all I picked up on were the bits that lined up with Protestant sects I did know about, and obvious biblical parallels.

But the main story line, of refugees fighting their way toward a promised land, fits Mormons or ancient Hebrews equally.

... ya know, I always thought Greene was a US-born Evangelical Christian. He gave off that vibe. But no. His parents were Russian Jews who emigrated to Canada. Huh.

scidata said...

Oh boy, Canadians in space... don't get me started.

Lorne Greene, John Colicos, William Shatner, and others were regulars at the Stratford (home of Justin Bieber) Shakespearean festival. Not far from my boyhood farm home, and I went to the festival several times on school trips.

Der Oger said...

@ Robert: "How often does that happen?"
Ask South America and the Near East.

@Daniel Duffy:

The Werewolf myth is somewhat exaggerated. It never went of the ground as intended by Himmler, mostly because the regular military commanders refused to deploy the requested number of experienced soldiers for training and leadership. Also, after the defeat, the population was to war-weary to support them, and those leaders capable of organizing actual resistance were either dead, imprisoned, or already in the pockets of the western allies.

And here the interesting part starts: The western allied powers allowed those networks to exist as stay-behind forces, this time against the threat of an invasion of the Warsaw pact. The Gladio/Gladius networks existed until the 90s, when they were officially disbanded. Over all these years, these stay-behind (Neo-)Nazi networks have been rumored and proven to be connected to several acts of terrorism (and often false-flag operations attributed to leftist terror.) I doubt every depot of weapons and military equipment has been given back to the government.

Also, yes, the Marshall plan was one important piece that helped Germany to recover and avoid falling back into totalitarism. But there were many others: The European Coal and Steel Community, Social Market Economy, the Basic Law, and entry into the NATO. The Nuremberg and Frankfurt Trials. And much more.

I honestly don't know if a Marshal Plan for MAGAland would be enough. There must be some form of accountability before being able to move forward, and since the states in question are still controlled by the Republican party, and the base remaining loyal to Trump, I don't see that coming soon.

DP said...

scidata - Canadians are already well represented in space.

"This is ground control to Maj. Tom, eh"

TCB said...

@scidata, Slings And Arrows is one of the greatest ever TV series (Canadian or not) that nobody knows about. For those many who don't know, it ran three seasons and is a comedy-drama set in the fictional town of New Burbage, and the theater troupe that does the Shakespeare festival thereof. It has a ghost, a maybe-crazy but brilliant actor, a great theme song, a swordfight at a party, Colm Feore in a minor but amazing role, and about fifty other cool things.

David Brin said...

Folks my old iMac imploded this evening. During the month when I can least afford it - the busiest of my life.

That meaqns I don't know when I will be able to moderate comments. A pity since the spam filter part works great! But the routine of just clicking approve to you decent fellows stireqires a sign in I may be to busy (or thwarted) to do. Sorry

Tony Fisk said...

Babylon 5 was definitely science fiction. It depicted people in the mid twenty third century trying to get along with aliens, together with everyone's historical baggage. It had religious overtones, and borrowed story elements from space opera ('Lensman') and fantasy ('Lord of the Rings'), as well as reality (Balkan conflict, Argentine junta interrogation techniques)

I suggested ,a little music to accompany the last inauguration ceremony. Erm, it turned out to be a little *too* close to home.

This time around, my selection is something a little less harrowing, a little more joyous, and just as offbeat. However, I think it suits a team who is neither woman nor man, and who can gallop through the White House in a multi-coloured flag/cape.

Anyway, it seems the 'VP to be' agrees with the sentiments given in this post.

Tony Fisk said...

Imploding iMacs the night before the work's due is always the way. Hope you can recover.

Marky said...

I don't thing we're going to see too many pardons, because they can be issued in secret and revealed when the holder is indicted. I'm sure Jared, Rudy, and the kids will get these, as well as many others. We'll probably see Trump wearing a wrist brace because of the carpel tunnel he'll get from signing them all... probably right up until 11:59 Wednesday.

reason said...

Larry Hart,
re a Marshall plan for rural America. I think I know one, but lots here will probably disagree. It is called universal basic income. Why will that help? Because a UBI is something you can only live on where living costs are low. No longer will the society be insisting that people move to where they can get a job. People will move to where they can afford to live. As redistribution of income is not only a redistribution between people, it is a redistribution between places. And jobs will follow to some extent.

reason said...

David - I have three machines - an old windows desktop, a linux laptop and a smaller windows laptop that I need because some things only run with windows including my home office connection. Always a good forward looking idea to have multiple machines. Things happen and computers these days are very cheap.

Larry Hart said...

Well, I won't inundate you with comments that you can't process. Please let us know when you're available again.

Robert said...

Der Oger: Ask South America and the Near East.

No, America regularly intervenes there to support its interests. I meant how often does it refrain?

I suppose I should say "How often does it refrain when it has the capability to intervene?"

David Brin said...

Tony, Bab5 was supremely science fiction in all ways, especially by my definition of examining human ability to deal with scenarios of change.

Though right now you got me envisioning the scene where Space Force One explodes... argh...

Marky that is why Biden and Congress must announce that ONLY pardons for specifically avowed criminal acts, and with no secrecy or qui pro quo, will even be acknowledged as anything biut hot air ravings.

Using wife's computer. So this aspect may actually be okay, if refreshing at only half the usual rate.

David Smelser said...

Pardons are a power of the presidency, and President Biden can make them all public once he takes office.

Larry Hart said...

Well, as long as we're sort of back in business...

1760 days down, 1 to go!

"It's been a long time
Gettin' from there to here..."

Larry Hart said...

That's 1460 days down. Sheesh!

(It only seemed like 1760)

jim said...

That is a link to a good article on “An integrated approach to quantifying uncertainties in the remaining carbon budget”

If you go through and read the article you find that they have estimated Transient Climate Response to Cumulative CO2 Emissions (TCRE), as well as to non-CO2 climate influences. They found that there is a one in six chance we have already exceeded the 1.5C change in global climate. In 2030 at the current emission rate, we would have a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 C and a greater than 10% chance of exceeding the 2C threshold. (the rest of the warming feedback can take a many decades to centuries to appear).

So that is a carbon budget of 10 years of business as usual.

duncan cairncross said...

Reason - suggested a UBI

A UBI would be a GREAT idea - it would replace 90% of the current welfare system with a cheaper better system

Not quite 100% as some people do need more help - wheelchairs, hospital style beds, carers, that sort of thing

It would also help to balance the power of employees and employers in wage negotiations

It would NOT have to increase outgoings - simply increasing the tax rates so that at an agreed rate ($150,000/year???) the increased tax take equaled the UBI would make it revenue neutral

A Universal basic Income and a National Health system together would take the USA back to where it was in the 1970’s

Simply the best place for a working man - only now for a working woman and person of colour as well

Bipartisan ??

Now there is the rub!

It would be GREAT for the 90% - even the 99%

But the 0.1% would lose out and they OWN one of the Political parties

Larry Hart said...

Explaining my attitude toward those who point out individual good things that Trump might have accomplished...

It’s not that Trump never did anything good. It’s that it was nowhere near worth the price of leaving our nation more divided, more sick — and with more people marinated in conspiracy theories — than at any time in modern history.

Keith Halperin said...

@Everyone: Re: The attempted coup:
Since we now are now a couple of weeks away from the attack, does anyone besides me remember the mega/mini-series (14 1/2 hours), "Amerika" from 1987 where toward the end, the Soviets conquered the US in 1987 and agreed in 1997 to NOT nuke a number of American cities in return for launching a false-flag terrorist operation on the Capitol, killing all of Congress?

@Everyone: Re: B5: JMS if you're out there- time for a reboot/revival!
Hire OGH as Scientific Advisor so he can get a new Mac!
(Per: JMS in 2018: Warner Bros won't let it happen, and they own the rights.)

@Everyone: BSG:
It looks like work on the revival is continuing:
"All of this has happened before. And all of this will happen again.
So say we all."

If a mini-series were made of a "space opera" (perhaps OGH's?), should it be called a "space operetta'?

David Brin said...

iMac collapsed on me amid the busiest month of my life, with TWELVE projects all coming due in the next couple of weeks. Making do with Macbook+ monitor. But Catalina won't run my beloved macro program Quickeys! Does anyone know a replacement that will accept the 300 or so macros I already have for Quickeys?
If you don't use such a program... to one-stroke fill in things you type often or cut/paste often or just to make cut/past a single stroke... then you are wasting tons of lifespan!


Jim we share the fear of a point of no return. Try helping those who are launching forth massive endeavors about that. And yes, the new administration.


Keith watch DESIGNATED SURVIVOR which is terrifying re tomorrow! FAIL SAFE involves us nuking NYC to avoid a USSR war.

Larry Hart said...

Keith Halperin:

does anyone besides me remember the mega/mini-series (14 1/2 hours), "Amerika" from 1987 where toward the end, the Soviets conquered the US in 1987 and agreed in 1997 to NOT nuke a number of American cities in return for launching a false-flag terrorist operation on the Capitol, killing all of Congress?

I do remember the miniseries, although truth to tell, the plot had become so obscure by the point you're talking about that I wasn't clear who was attacking the Capitol, or why (since Congress had been essentially neutered even at the start of the story). What I mostly remember is Mariel Hemmingway's character complaining that she was ostracized and called a whore because she cozied up to the Soviet occupying governor. :)

@Everyone: BSG:
It looks like work on the revival is continuing

Aaaaaaauuuugh! Not again!

Nothing this evil ever dies.

Dr Brin:

Keith watch DESIGNATED SURVIVOR which is terrifying re tomorrow!

In the Designated Survivor scenario, the president, VP, cabinet, and all of congress (except for the DS) are in the same room. Having the event outdoors and with social distancing might turn out to be a good thing in that regard.

FAIL SAFE involves us nuking NYC to avoid a USSR war.

Different scenario entirely from what Keith describes. In Fail Safe, a rogue pilot had already nuked Moscow. Nuking our own city was the only way to get Russia to refrain from retaliation. Definitely a tragic dilemma.

In Amerika, the Soviets had already conquered us and apparently were willing to settle for blowing up the Capitol instead of bombing US cities. I say "apparently" because despite watching the entire thing, I was lost concerning much of the plot. IIRC, the ending was being re-written even as the first parts were airing. The miniseries was intended specifically as right-wing propaganda, demonstrating why "red" was so much worse than "dead".

Anonymous said...

As establishmentarian politicians prepare for their much anticipated presidential festivities, secure within the iron gates of the so-called People's Keep, even as the designated people of record are kept without by force of arms & concertina, we invoke Edgar Alan Poe, the Father of American Science Fiction, and the curse of his "Masque of the Red Death", assuming that a more contemporary 'Red Wedding' fantasy remains unactualised.


Robert said...

right-wing propaganda, demonstrating why "red" was so much worse than "dead"

Rather ironic that now "red" means right-wing, eh?

David Brin said...

locum v.2 is kinda poetical, no?

Tim H. said...

RE:imploding iMac, if you have back ups, it should be possible to restore to an external drive and either run the iMac off that, if HD failure, or run a 2nd hand Mac that's compatible with that MacOS. Will be somewhat slower, but should get you by until the rumored M1X iMac is released later this year. Good health to you and yours, Tim H.

Tony Fisk said...

David, if B5 reminds you of the explosion of SF1, it reminds me of President Clarke's final arrangements.
... as someone not unlike Pelosi leads an arrest party to his office.

Tony Fisk said...

I think Poe's tale was invoked to greater effect for the reception party for Barrett and its aftermath.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

locum v.2 is kinda poetical, no?

I do not hear the words of traitors.

DP said...


UBI has been tried before. The Romans called it "pan et circes"

Rome, like America had conquered the world (except for distant realms such as Parthia/China) and established a more or less benevolent hegemony (Pax Romana/Americana).

However, the legions brought back with them millions of slaves from three continents. With minimal cost slave labor, the Roman wealthy became insanely wealthy (see Crassus or Bezos) and the average Roman citizen lost his farm to the large slave estates (agribusinesses) and could not find employment outside of serving in the legions (a situation similar to than of many rural Americans whose only hope for a better life is enlisting in the US military).

The Roman slaves were the ancient equivalent of today's illegal immigration and automation combined - the main reason for having UBI.

Larry Hart said...

One hour more.
Another day, another destiny

* * *

Going forward, with red states trying to make sure a Democrat doesn't accidentally get elected president again, asserting the authority of state legislatures to choose electors and throwing the election to the House as a backstop...

We've got to remember and assert the meme that elections for state and federal legislature are really elections for president as well. "Small" midterm elections matter. A lot.

* * *

If there is a fair and just God, Clarence Thomas will shuffle off this mortal coil in time for Biden to nominate his replacement.

* * *

America is back, f***ers! It's not you. It's us. Love it or leave it.

Larry Hart said...


Rather ironic that now "red" means right-wing, eh?

Using red for Republican never did make much sense, for just that reason. We should really use the other color of the flag. Republican states should be white states. Much more appropriate.

A.F. Rey said...

Biden's sworn in. Can I breath again?

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: Thank you and good luck with the Mac.
I've seen both versions of "Failsafe" but not "Designated Survivor".
As of a few moments ago, President Biden and Vice President Harris are OK.
Now the real work begins...

Don Gisselbeck said...

I wonder how "evangelist" Kenneth Copeland is coping (shameless plug):

Der Oger said...

@Inauguration: Just finished watching it. Very moving. "The Hill We Climb" will go into my personal library of motivational poetry. I'd be very surprised if we hear never again from this very charismatic, talented young woman again.

@Daniel Duffy: Yes, the parallels between the Roman Republic era and the USA are quite striking. There are even parallels between Crassus & Trump.

reason said...

Daniel Duffy - sorry that sounds like a classic (get it) case of false equivalence to me.

DP said...


"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

matthew said...

Whew. One more big hurdle jumped over.
Enjoy today.

DP said...

Der Oger:

Trump is more like Cataline, the corrupt demagogue who tried and failed to overthrow the republic.

Crassus is more like Bezos.

TCB said...

The Biden team is already firing or benching a rat's nest of dubious Trump appointees. Good work. Also good: the new administration making protecting democracy a top priority. You can't get anything else done without that.

Federal student loan repayments deferred until September. I wonder: is Biden going to wait and totally wipe those debts out by executive order, like, three months before the midterm elections, so that millions of formerly GOP voters, knowing full well that Trump and friends would never have done that for them, are still giddy about it when they go to fill the Congress and state houses with fresh Democratic faces? That would be a slick move.

Robert said...

UBI has been tried before. The Romans called it "pan et circes"

No, they didn't. The cura annonae was a subsidy to the poorest residents.

UBI is a different beast.

It had decent results when we tried it in the 70s:

David Brin said...

Yes, yes I am overflowing with joy for my country, my children and the planet they need for survival and a civilization worthy of the stars.
Alas my joy is tempered by the busiest 3 months in my professional life and a major computer crash and clawing back my files, followed with breaking in a new mac and realizing that Mac OS Big Sur just swarms with hatefully horrible traits that I just can't seem to control.
Does anyone know how to make it DEFAULT double clicking an icon opens a new window, Instead of the horrible forward-back 'navigation' arrows?
Does anyone know how to make the wretched pop up notifications simply go away without having to click on them to erupt attention grabbing crap I don't want? Or to make it so they default fade away?
And yes do any of you have macro programs you love?

Robert said...

Crassus is more like Bezos.

You think we could persuade him to lead an invasion of Parthia? :-)

(Not a fan of Amazon or Bezos.)

Robert said...

Think of Big Sur like a giant phone, because it seems to be Apple's plan to make the iPhone/iPad/desktop "seamless". Very much a 'second fool' problem.

Which means things you can't do on a phone will be more difficult, and behaviour that makes sense on a tiny touchscreen also happen on a gigantic monitor. (eg. the automatic folder opening which comes from iOS).

No specific suggestions as I'm still running Sierra.

Alfred Differ said...

Daniel Duffy,

Some small misalignments for your analogy.

In this Pax, everyone got rich.
The Common Man is not on the brink of starvation.
Nor is he riddled with parasites depriving him of his IQ.

There ARE the disparities, of course, but our immigrants aren't slaves.
Heh. In fact, our former slave's descendants just overthrew a tyrant... by voting.

David Brin said...

Alfred yeah. Gosh if Joe could FDR.

Alfred Differ said...


Regarding Big Sur, I suspect you could spend 15 minutes with an Apple tech from one of their stores and learn most of the short cuts. For example, I noticed that dragging a file to a folder only opens it on my mac if I hover too long over the target folder. It's obviously making a guess as to what I want to do and that means there is a configuration setting somewhere like the the old 'time elapsed between clicks' one for deciding whether you've double-clicked.

I used to use a short-cut app named after Bruce Wayne's butler... because I found it amusing. Nowadays, I just write the short-cuts into my keyboard's list which can be found from System Preferences. Macro text-copy is NOT something I do often, so I just keep original source text files in a special folder for when I do.

I think it is a safe bet that they've rolled a LOT of utility apps of old into the OS. The trick is knowing where they are.

I'm guessing you were an emacs guy from back in the day? 8)
I remember your WP preference and completely agree.

Andy said...

It's an older article, but this should change the dragging into folder behavior. You can adjust the hover-to-open time, or disable it entirely.

Which popups are you referring to? The ones about updates in the top right corner? Those annoy me as well.

Zepp Jamieson said...

As forecast, the support for Trump is rapidly collapsing. Mainstream Republicans are furiously trying to erase him from pictures in a Stalinesque purge. The militia have decided he was a weakling unable to lead the noble struggle for the white race. And QAnon has to come to grips with the fact that Trump isn't God-Emperor, here to purge the evil Dems and save their child sex-slaves. Trump's tax lawyers quit on him this morning--I guess they must have gotten a look at his real books--and it's unclear that he even has a lawyer for the Senate sedition trial. Republicans are scared to death, which is why they are suddenly talking about unity and negotiation.
The real fight is going to be over the filibuster.

David Brin said...

"Which popups are you referring to? The ones about updates in the top right corner? Those annoy me as well."

Especially since that is EXACTLY where they also put icons for peripherals or external drives/whatever and the notification blocks em!

Zepp you ain't seen nothing. Wait till Putin/Murdoch allow or are forced to allow revelations about Trumpian imbecility or taxes or whatever.

David Brin said...

Andy thanks. That solved the spring p-open heated. I've solved some others.there are 8 or wretched behaviors...

reason said...

you can also finance a UBI out of carbon taxes and by tax deductions (which are regressive). In fact I would go so far as to move to VAT (which we have here in Germany anyway), pollution taxes and pension and health taxes as being the only taxes the majority of people pay. Income taxes would start at above median income (people could boast they are so rich they pay income taxes). This would make the whole system more progressive.

Acacia H. said...

Concerning the filibuster, I have a suggestion for filibuster reform that would most likely be acceptable by Republicans and yet defang the power of a minority of Trumpist Senators who want to disrupt everything.

Filibusters can only be enacted if at least five Senators all state their intention to filibuster a bill. The filibuster can be closed by the traditional amount of senators as currently required by tradition.

This will eliminate the ability for a sole Senator to shut down the Senate. Instead it takes 10% of the Senate to enact a filibuster. But it still allows a minority party to enact a filibuster if enough Senators agree that the bill in question needs significant revision or more discussion.

Acacia H.

reason said...

Acacia, I would also limit the number of filibusters each senator can sponsor.

Acacia H. said...

Reason, if we were talking about what is wanted rather than what could get passed, then I'd either eliminate the filibuster altogether, or make it so it must be a spoken filibuster much like it used to be. Limiting the number of filibusters that a senator can sponsor is an attack on the power of a senator, as is eliminating it entirely. But both ideas are most likely nonstarters. Making it so that a group of five senators are needed to enact a filibuster is something that would not be considered too obnoxious to the Senators.

That said, again, going back to the old filibuster of needing to talk the entire time? That can be sold as "returning to our traditional roots with the filibuster" and would be a little bit harder for Republicans to turn down. Oh, they still would, but then Democrats can point out that Republicans aren't for tradition and conservatism but instead are pushing change and obstructionism... but that's also the "fuck cooperation in government" path.

One route (rubbing the Republicans' noses in it) leads to a complete lack of discourse and politeness. The other (five senators needed to enact a filibuster) speaks of teamwork and cooperation. At least in my eyes.


Der Oger said...

Another idea: Each senator gains a weekly time budget tied to the number of actual voters he represents. It cannot be transferred to another senator, and all unused minutes are lost.

reason said...

Acacia the problem is if it can be same 5 each time it doesn't achieve much. Forcing them to rotate makes it harder to maintain without making it impossible for a united opposition.

Acacia H. said...

Ah, but how often do the same five people agree on the same thing time and time again? That's the kicker, because the moment cracks start to form, that alliance falls apart. Adding in requirements makes it more complex and again will lessen the power of the Senators and thus will result in the Senate refusing to enact the policy. If you can just wave a wand and make it so, eliminate the filibuster entirely. What I prefer is to see a version that would pass and weaken it but also allow for intelligent teamwork to allow it to still serve a function.


David Brin said...

There are good and there are evil ways to staunch the flows of refugees seeking US asylum. Evil: refuse shelter to - and even shatter - innocent families fleeing death in gang and oligarch-infested nations whose oppressive elites were abetted since forever by our own. Good: STOP the elites and gangs in Guatemala etc. from murdering their people and forcing them to flee.

On Day 3 apparently Biden is aiming at Good. One hopes that he also plans some sticks to accompany this carrot.
But the overwhelmingly sick elephant in the room is one pure fact - that the Good option never, ever occurred to republicans, at any level.

It didn't because those with bad souls will not even try to figure out ways for a win-win. Only for their enemies (children in cages) to lose.

duncan cairncross said...

For the "Good" plan - the first thing is to STOP the "War on Drugs"

Stop giving huge sums of money and millions of guns to the Drug Cartels
Which is what the "War on Drugs" actually does!!

Make drugs legal but strictly regulated so that the actual growers in Central America can sell directly to legal (and regulated) US companies
Taking the cartels out of the loop

Der Oger said...

Some additional Good Plan ideas:

- Stop climate change (will lead to more refugees)
- Stop creating refugees by military misadventures (like, Iraq)
- Stop unfair trade practices shattering local economies

George Carty said...

Aren't Republicans deliberately complicit in the way drug cartels are terrorizing Central America, both because the cartels themselves are a highly lucrative market for American gun manufacturers, and because the violence ensures a continued flow of illegal immigrants into the United States, thus providing American farm owners with the exploitable workforce that they demand?

David Brin said...

I am finishing trio rough months of hard work as I re-edited a DOZEN past works that suddenly found new homes. Only many of the new publishers created files by using Optical Character Recognition software (OCR). And there's a big new nonfiction about Hollywood. So I gathered more than a dozen of my critics and nit-picking readers and unleashed them. And while most found typos and grammar errors, some laid into inconsistencies and places where I made mistakes, even demanding I avow and summarize neglected arguments by opponents.

I love it! Gives me plenty of verification that I live by my citokate creed!

What I don't do is keep around anyone who is NASTY. Rude people -who think that crudity is the same thing as constructive criticism - get sent packing. Dropped from unity of pre-readers. Not with anger, but a bored yawn.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin:
I see why you're so busy. I'm not sure if these are covered in what you're re-editing, but did you decide to do anything about?:
1) Sundiver's refrigerator laser- I've read that it wouldn't work.
2) In Foundations' Triumph- IMSM, there are *hard-scrabble folks living around what used to be Chicago and ~500 years later every last virus on Earth is supposed to be dead due to the radiation. I don't think radiation works like that.
3) Not sure I ever sent this to you, but here's my

2007-8 Big Heist (Financial Crisis?)
2010s Interconnect breakthrough (What’s that?)
Early-2020s War on Science (Backdate it a few years?)
2020s Sea Habitats (prior to Awfulday)
2024 Donaldson Sky Survey, New Red Guards
2025 Danny Elfman writes score for “Mars Needs Women” (Directed by Tim Burton?)
2020s-2030s Bubble Prosperity (with Awfulday, Yellowstone Burp, Collapse of China: Why?)
2026 Yellowstone Burp, big typhoon
2028 Big Deal, Zheng He Disaster
2029 Chinese reforms (I guess they didn’t work.)
2030 Chinese Economic Collapse
2030s Cruci-Millenium
Mid-2030s Autism Plague (Looks like we're headed in that direction now.)
2036 Big Wager? (What’s that?)
2036 DoD moves to MN, Pandora’s Cornucopia
2039 Basque Chimera
2046 Alien probe discovered
2060 Alien memes spread, Neanders being born (in substantial numbers)
2076-7 Crystal Telescopes
2070 Tor & Gavin- Asteroid discoveries
2081 Telescope

Cheers and Best of Editing Luck,


*In 20k+ years, Chi-town's likely to be under the ice again if we aren't doing stuff to prevent it.

David Brin said...

Keith what fun stuff! And yes, bring on the crit!

Yeah, there are some inconsistencies in the Existence timeline, You are actually the 1st I recall who dug in deep. I suppose I should chart more, like some authors do. My aim was to encourage "huh!" moments of both worry and optimistic possibility amid a general feeling of consistency.

I am NOT re-editing EXISTENCE right now!!!! Plate is full! Though I'll store this criteria of yours! And any of you with final remarks about HEAVEN'S REACH you have a week to get em to me. (not types n' such. That's all done.). There'll be an UPLIFT TIMELINE at the end!

As for FT... bah, I have no memory of radiation killing all viruses. I said that? Show me where!

As for SUNDIVER I ran it past TWO Nobel prize winners. If you want to see the principle in action, go to your kitchen and put your hand on the refrigerator's RADIATOR coils. A Fridge is a machine whose net effect is to create entropy but export it into the kitchen and heat up that room. And incidentally keep it cold inside the box. I will face any of the snarlers in a wager debate over it.

David Brin said...



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