Saturday, June 26, 2021

Sci fi past, future and today! And a rant about UAP/UFOs….

First, my own books, created for your enjoyment. On sale today! The ebook for Startide Rising has been reduced. And you can still get the Second Uplift Trilogy (Uplift Storm) pretty cheap in some places.


At the opposite end of price – though still a bargain in pennies per idea! - pre-orders are flowing for the special-limited signed hardcover of THE BEST OF DAVID BRIN, released at the end of July. My shorter works are my best stuff.

Here’s a pretty cool discussion among three highly perceptive podcasters who appraise my Uplift books and universe. These folks actually had a couple of insights I hadn’t thought of! A fun background listen! #54: Uplift Primer. They discuss pros and cons of uplift and all that, fair-enough! But they love my aliens!


And wonder of wonders…an incisive, perceptive and fair-minded review in LOCUS (by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro) of my new nonfiction book Vivid Tomorrows: Science Fiction and Hollywood.


Among my many new project releases, care to sample a fun and hilarious reading of my sci fi comedy? The first few chapters were already available to sample-read on my site. Only now try those chapters narrated very well by a fine voice actor in this audio version of The Ancient Ones 


 == Those dang UFOs again? Snub em! ==


Sigh, Messages chime and ring tones toodle and hence I have to step up to this stuff yet again.


Here’s a significant passage from the CIA’s recent report on UAPs or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. “Worryingly for national security professionals, the report also found that the sightings were "clustered" around US training and testing grounds. But investigators downplayed those concerns, assessing that "this may result from a collection bias as a result of focused attention, greater numbers of latest-generation sensors operating in those areas, unit expectations and guidance to report anomalies."


There is another very good reason why such clustering might occur at ‘US training and testing grounds.’


As CNN’s report says: “For lawmakers and intelligence and military personnel working on unexplained aerial phenomena UAP, the bigger concern with the episodes is not that alien life is visiting earth, but rather that a foreign adversary like Russia or China might be fielding some kind of next-generation technology in American airspace that the United States doesn't know about.” 


Though again, that seems unlikely for several reasons. And again, the blatantly obvious is ignored.


“That is one of the reasons this unclassified report will likely disappoint UFO-ologists who had hoped it might offer definitive proof the US government has made contact with extraterrestrial life.”


I care barely a whit what UFO fetishists think. Their stunningly unimaginative and dull notions of the ‘alien’ bore me almost to tears and the illogical crap that their scenarios entail is tiresome. Like that we’d have hurled tens of thousands of our best and brightest scientists and engineers at such a vitally urgent matter for 80 years and have gained nothing, and none of those FOUR generations of researchers would have spilled proof by now… or that we now have a MILLION times more active cameras today, yet the UFOs keep getting fuzzier... or that successive administrations would not have used this as a weapon against their political rivals. Or that there is any reason to keep it secret. (Public ‘panic’? Bah!) 


Oh, in fact I can think of some good reasons for secrecy and I even try some out in fiction works! But that’s my job. And none of those potential reasons are ever raised by UFO fetishists. Did I mention unimaginative?


Oh sure, I have questions. Starting with: are the ‘objects’ verified to be solid and thus opaque to transmission of light from background sources? Or do they appear to be glowing patches of atmosphere that both radiate their own light and pass through light from sources behind them? (Translucent.) If it is the latter (as in all the footage I have seen, so far) is there any verification that these ‘objects’ actually possess their own continuous mass and solidity and inertia for the supposed magical propulsion systems to miraculously overcome?   


If it is the latter, are these glowing patches “ships”? Or in fact “dots” aimed at messing with us kitties?


More fundamentally, if they are ‘aliens’ then I say snub em!  Their nasty behavior merits it, as I wrote long ago in this short story… and of course far more extensively in EXISTENCE.



== We all live in a yellow simulation! ==

 

Of course none of that means we aren’t living in a sci fi scenario!  Here’s one of the most blatant clues. There was a sci fi tale long ago - "Letter from a Higher Critic" by Stewart Robb - that appraised how many names from WWII seem too ‘mythological’ to have come from a real reality and must have been made up by an author!


Okay so World War II begins with the court Chamberlain making terrible mistakes until the kingdom is endangered by The Wolf (Adolf). At which point the Church-on-the-hill appeals across the western sea for help from the Field of Roses, whose grand Marshal dispatches two great generals, The Iron-Hewer helps stave off the Wolf... who has already broken several teeth against the Man of Steel in the east... while the heir of Albion... or MacARTHUR... heads west across the great sea where Yamamoto, the champion of Yamato (Japan)… well, you get the picture.  Oh, then there is France - or Gaul - championed to a comeback by giant named… de Gaulle. It just goes on and on. And now UAPees?


Who writes this stuff?  


After GW Bush and then Trump, I’m pretty sure we are relics in a holo-deck simulation created that's still running long after those guys dropped quarters into a slot to buy a wish fantasy. And Biden? The sim janitor. It’s a mess in here. And now we’re just Biden our time till the reboot is ready.


92 comments:

Pappenheimer said...

Re WWii names -

There are some names that are poorer fits.

Gen Percival's less-than-tenacious leadership contributed to the loss of Malaya and, crucially, Singapore. One would think that a Grail Hero could do better.

Lemay means "young lad, or girl".

Interestingly the 'tubes say that Mussolini may be related to "a heel, but has also been interpreted as "he who supplanted"," which is certainly appropriate in both meanings.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

After GW Bush and then Trump, I’m pretty sure we are relics in a holo-deck simulation created when those guys dropped quarters into a slot to buy a wish fantasy.


The timing of the deaths of Scalia and RBG would tend to support that hypothesis. That sort of thing doesn't just happen.

Neil Gaiman wrote a fantasy graphic novel called 1602 which posited versions of the Marvel heroes appearing in that year rather than the 20th Century. That version of Reed Richards (of the Fantastic Four) was able to deduce that they lived in a universe in which the rules of story prevailed as much as the rules of physics. He explained to that version of the monstrous Thing that while a cure for his condition was possible, the laws of story would insure that the cure never be permanent. "You're just so much more interesting this way."

Pappenheimer said...

Ha! another one in the "badly written sim" column, and I will correct myself!

Curtis Lemay = "short lad", also known as "little boy"

David Brin said...

In previous comment section some guy stled himself as "Grand Moff Tarkin." Marvelous. A murderous feudalist oppressor who fails utterly at his quest & mission. A role model!

The fellow's whine is unintentionally telling, since everything he accuses Democrats of is actually a laundry list of things HIS cult seeks... and that dems simply do not want. Indeed EVERY time dems get power their biggest problem is not uniformity. (Today's GOP is the most disciplined political force in the history of the republic) but to hold the coalition together another month, then another, till the inevitable schism.

SHOW US one time the dems ever ruled the way republicans have or the way you describe, oh GMT!

Answered here because too lazy to switch to the earlier thread. Shoulda just ignored this science and fact hater.

Alfred Differ said...

Shoulda just ignored this science and fact hater.

Responses to them are tasks appropriate for a greenie. Copy...Paste...Copy...Paste.


Larry,

Control of federal activity by controlling state legislatures is an OLD technique. That's why we had to make Senator choices a matter of public election. Took and amendment to do it.

The problem is they are close to the control needed to bring their own amendments and get them passed by the States. Dipsqueaks like Trump are one thing. That would be quite another.

Larry Hart said...

The "Grand Moff" post Dr Brin refers to:

So, in order to protect the country from Republicans, the Democrats must change the rules to make certain the Republicans never gain the majority in Congress or elect a president again. And what happens when a political party effectively abolishes all opposing parties?


Yes, the Mitch McConnellesque framing is telling. His "what happens when...?" scenario is essentially what Republicans are doing in their states with laws not only permitting voter suppression, but allowing themselves to overturn election results.

Meanwhile, what are Democrats agitating for? Not "abolishing all opposing parties", but abolishing cheating. The fact that free and fair elections is equivalent to "mak[ing] certain the Republicans never gain the majority in Congress or elect a president again" is very revealing.

We've reached the point where the tenets of democracy--one person/one vote--helps one party and hurts the other party. So the other party feels that it has just as much right to do what benefits itself--suppress democracy--as the other party does to do what benefits itself--promote democracy. What really burns my a$$ * is that the anti-democracy party gets to cloak itself in the American flag and consider themselves America-loving patriots.

* Aside from "A flame about this high."

* * *

Of course, the correct response to someone who calls himself the Grand Moff Tarkin is, "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers." Which actually gives me more of a ray of hope about this whole subject than I've felt in some time. So thanks for that anyway, GMT.

* * *

Thinking about the actual Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars movie, I'm reminded of the relationship between the GMT and Darth Vader. The Force was not the be-all and end-all of power in the galaxy in that movie, and Vader was little more than a pet stooge of the military who had a somewhat interesting parlor trick at his command. That movie really doesn't belong to the same universe that the "Star Wars Saga" became.

 Ashley said...

Names are unsurprisingly related to things and actions, because that's how names came about. John's son leads to Johnson family name. Socrates and Plato's names were puns or descriptions.

My name means Ashe tree of the meadow. My family name, someone who turns trees into poles. My middle name, innocent of guilt.

So yeah, all names can become mythic from a certain perspective.

Daniel Duffy said...

Reality check for UFOs and interstellar travel.

Let's look at 2 ways the aliens could be traveling to Earth, FTL and sub-light.

First FTL.

The latest tweaking of the Alcubierre warp drive equation shows that you don't need negative mass or energy. But you do need the energy equivalent of the mass of Jupiter. So let's assume the ships di-lithium crystals convert the matter/anti-matter fuel into warp drive energy at 100% efficiency. Assuming no bone headed math mistakes:

1.90E+27 kg Jupiter mass
1.71E+38 mj Jupiter mass energy equivalent
6.24E+14 mj Total world energy use 2020
2.74E+23 Multiple of current world energy use
1.20E+28 mj Annual sun production of energy
1.42E+10 Multiple of annual total sun energy production

The ship would need to generate 14.2 billion times the energy that the sun produces each year.

OK, so how about the slow boat from Alpha Centauri. Assume an interstellar ship with the mass of HMS Titanic (interstellar ships would have to be huge and the Titanic is actually kind of small compared to modern day vacation cruise ships). That would be 53,100,000 kg.

By comparison official ST:NG canon gives the mass of Picard's Galaxy-class USS Enterprise at 4.5 million metric tonnes - or 4.5E+09 kg - about 100 times bigger than HMS Titanic.

Anyway assume a modest 10% of c. Ignoring the increase in mass that occurs at relativist velocities:

53,310,000 kg mass of space ship Titanic
4.79E+18 mj energy at C
4.79E+16 mj energy at 10% of C
6.24E+14 mj Total world energy use 2020
7.68E+01 Multiple of current world energy use
1.20E+28 mj Annual sun production of energy
3.99E-12 Multiple of annual total sun energy production

Much more achievable. Still it is a huge amount of energy whose heat signature would be readily visible while moving at incredible fast speeds. No way we could miss it.

Any alien civilization, from its Dyson swarms and star ships and navigation beacons and communication arrays and space industries, would have a heat signature that would light up the sky in infrared - a heat signature it could not hide without violating the laws of physics.

You can argue that any sufficiently advanced alien technology "would be indistinguishable from magic" and they could defy the laws of thermodynamics. OK, fine. But this is a non scientific hypothesis because it can't be falsified.

You may as well argue that UFOs are flying unicorns ridden by leprechauns and your argument would be equally valid.

Larry Hart said...

Ashley:

Names are unsurprisingly related to things and actions, because that's how names came about.


I recently noticed that the names of all three cheeses in my store-bought mixture of Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago simply referred to the geographic locations where (I presume) those particular cheeses originated.

David Brin said...

Blowfish asked if physical laws "- forbade any form of biological life not based on carbon . Is this true ? "

Carbon is special because it can form multiple bonds in every direction at the same time and generally moderately-strong but not too-strong ones, with great affinity to Hydrogena dn Oxygen. This allows a fantastic array of chains and loops and polymers. The element most similar, chemically, Silicon, was the topic of some TV & book sci fi (The Horta!) But it's not as good. The 'poop" silicon dioxide is SOLID! Hard to recycle back into the ecosystem! And in fact Silicon equivalents are far less soluble in water.

Larry Hart said...



According to this site:

https://ballotpedia.org/Partisan_composition_of_state_legislatures

Democrats currently control both state houses of 16 states, and one additional state senate in Minnesota. The Republicans control both houses in the remaining 33 states (or the single house in Nebraska). That is way too many, but still short of the 3/4 (38 states) they'd need to ratify amendments without Democratic support.

What you probably notice is the possibility that 2/3 of the states (34) can call a new Constitutional Convention--something that hasn't happened since 1787 and for which the rules on how it actually works are very unclear. Presumably, the convention could write an entirely new Constitution that looks nothing like the old one, and there would be no recourse in referring to any previous law, tradition, or the present Constitution itself. What is unclear to me is if there are any restrictions on who gets to write that new Constitution and what (if any) role the individual states have in making such a document into the law of the land.

I'm certain that this is the Republican endgame if they can't impose their will on the rest of the country through other means. Some of the Democratic timidity that we notice may well be in response to a threat of this type: "Don't stand in our way of getting what we want under the current terms, or we'll call a Constitutional Convention and set our own terms."

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

The element most similar, chemically, Silicon, was the topic of some TV & book sci fi (The Horta!)...


Didn't the sci-fi notion of "silicon-based life" get a boost when it began to take on the connotation of computer-chip-based intelligence?

Robert said...

The element most similar, chemically, Silicon, was the topic of some TV & book sci fi

Uller Uprising by H. Beam Piper.

My paperback came with an essay explaining the chemistry.

Larry Hart said...

...correction...

I missed counting Alaska and Hawaii. So Democrats control 17 state legislatures and Republicans have a mere 32 (Minnesota is split between chambers). That's not much better than them having 33, but it puts them just a bit more distant from 34.

The site doesn't specify control of legislatures as a specific item. It does list Republican and Democratic "trifectas", but that requires the same party to have both legislative houses and the governorship. I don't think governors have any say in a call for a Constitutional Convention.

Daniel Duffy said...

That old SF standby, silicon based life, may not be possible for chemical/physics reasons according to a new study:

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

David Brin said...

"Didn't the sci-fi notion of "silicon-based life" get a boost when it began to take on the connotation of computer-chip-based intelligence?"

Nope. Weinbaum's 1934 "A Martian Odyssey" fiddled with the notion.

Daniel Duffy said...

Speaking of Le May, I highly recommend "The Bomber Mafia" by Malcolm Gladwell. American air commanders initially thought they could cripple an enemy's economy with a few precision bombs and minimal casualties, and thought they had the right tool with the Norden Bombsight.

Turns out the technology wasn't good enough, precision bombing in WWI never worked (and would not work until the first laser guided bombs took out key bridges in North Vietnam).

So after precision bombing failed (both over Japan due to the jet stream and when we got our butts kicked by the Luftwaffe trying to take out the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt) we followed the British lead (the RAF never believed in precision bombing and under "Bomber" Harris they employed mass carpet bombings of civilian targets from the start) and America went on to incinerate entire German and Japanese civilian populations in Dresden and Tokyo.

Der Oger said...

@Larry Hart:
Thinking about the actual Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars movie, I'm reminded of the relationship between the GMT and Darth Vader. The Force was not the be-all and end-all of power in the galaxy in that movie, and Vader was little more than a pet stooge of the military who had a somewhat interesting parlor trick at his command. That movie really doesn't belong to the same universe that the "Star Wars Saga" became.

I had a different assumption: That different factions of the Empire were purposefully set against each other, with overlapping authority to foster rivalry and infighting, as a parallel to the Nazi leadership.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

"Didn't the sci-fi notion of "silicon-based life" get a boost when it began to take on the connotation of computer-chip-based intelligence?"

Nope. Weinbaum's 1934 "A Martian Odyssey" fiddled with the notion.


I didn't mean that the computer-based thing was where the notion of "silicon-based life" first came from. I meant that it took on a double-entendre meaning where the same term implied "alternative to carbon" and "computer chip", and therefore became more popularized than before.

Emilia Rosa said...

I love "sim jenitor," lol!

scidata said...

It was a joy to watch Gladwell being interviewed by Zakaria this morning. Gladwell speaks my language, having grown up in Western Ontario Mennonite country as I did. He quoted:

"One thing a person cannot do, no matter how rigorous his analysis or heroic his imagination, is to draw up a list of things that would never occur to him." - Thomas Schelling

In a nutshell, this is my computational psychohistory argument. Doctrine and deductive reasoning are quite useless when face to face with Asimov's beast. Even a Hari Seldon can only catch brief glimpses. Gladwell went on to properly describe how war gaming is the only tool yet found that works.

Calculemus!

edzapata said...

Now here's a twist, what if there are errors in the simulation which are perceived as odd, inexplicable phenom by the parts of the sim working fine? Probe the edges of the sim too much (selection bias, near bases, etc.) and occasionally the CPU does not refresh fast enough, or some buffer over-flows? Though I admit particle accelerators must also apply. LOL. But really, this conversation would be great over beer, many beers.

Robert said...

@Our Host
If there's anything to UFOs, what we need to do is call their parents - the best excuse that I can see for METI.

@David Duffy
Congratulations! You hit on the real explanation. We need to check on statistical clustering around Ireland. Could this be happening because Luke Skywalker fled to Ireland?


Bob Pfeiffer.

Jon S. said...

Tarkin (apparently, I didn't read it) wrote:

"So, in order to protect the country from Republicans, the Democrats must change the rules to make certain the Republicans never gain the majority in Congress or elect a president again. And what happens when a political party effectively abolishes all opposing parties?"

This is interesting, as the question presupposes that a) eliminating cheating will "make certain the Republicans never gain the majority", and b) there are ever only going to be two political parties, Democrats and Republicans, and the Rs will forever be defined by cheating. No other parties can exist in this view, as shutting down R cheating "effectively abolishes all opposing parties".

I think this tells us much more about Tarkin than it does about politics.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

If there's anything to UFOs, what we need to do is call their parents



That was the plot of Fantastic Four #24 way back in 1963.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

This is interesting, as the question presupposes that a) eliminating cheating will "make certain the Republicans never gain the majority", and b) there are ever only going to be two political parties, Democrats and Republicans, and the Rs will forever be defined by cheating. No other parties can exist in this view, as shutting down R cheating "effectively abolishes all opposing parties".


Your a) is spot on, almost self-evidently so.

I think you're misreading b). He didn't seem to mean that Democrats were abolishing all opposing parties. I'd say he meant that once Democrats get away with a power-grab, there's no stopping any party from doing something as egregious as eliminating all opposing parties.

Still I agree with your point, that if one party can only win by cheating, that doesn't mean that fairness requires cheating to be allowed. In a rational universe, it would mean that that party should alter its program to appeal to more voters. I've wondered in the past if there is some psychohistorical truism which inevitably leads to the point we're at now, where the balance of an election is so close that the difference between the winning total and the losing total is statistically meaningless. Now, I'm thinking that the reason that inevitably happens is that misguided notions of "fairness" cause the rules of the game to change in favor of the party which has fallen behind in popularity until every race is a nail-biter.

Robert said...

"One thing a person cannot do, no matter how rigorous his analysis or heroic his imagination, is to draw up a list of things that would never occur to him." - Thomas Schelling

At one of the research groups I've worked with, the scientific staff were once tasked by management with producing a five-year plan for fundamental breakthroughs. Apparently the management tools for rolling out a publicity campaign can also be used to manage and rationalize scientific research. When all you have is an MBA, everything looks like a Gantt chart…

David Brin said...

Democrats are undisciplined, fractious and harder to herd than cats. Republicans are the most tightly-disciplined partisan machine ever seen in US political life. Leaving aside every other sissue... sanity, fact-aversion, cheating, lying, treason and oligarchy.... which is inherently more dangerous with power?

TCB said...

In the previous thread, Dr. Brin said "I’m a bit skeptical, but a food-from-air system that uses solar energy panels to make electricity to react carbon dioxide from the air produces food for microbes grown in a bioreactor."

That's a very roundabout way to describe the cellular structure of corn, haw haw haw!

scidata said...

@Robert

I've helped tangentially on a couple of research grant applications (biology), which I mentioned with this:

In much research funding, the outcome must almost be predicted along with careful metrics and timetables. This squelches creativity and serendipity. It also puts a premium on positive results over negative (and perhaps greatly informative) ones.

I find the freedom in volunteer and citizen science projects refreshing.


Robert said...

Democrats are undisciplined, fractious and harder to herd than cats.

Better call EDS :-)

"Anybody can herd cattle, but holding together ten thousand half-wild shorthairs - well, that's another thing altogether".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTwJzTsb2QQ

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Democrats are undisciplined, fractious and harder to herd than cats. Republicans are the most tightly-disciplined partisan machine ever seen in US political life. Leaving aside every other sissue... sanity, fact-aversion, cheating, lying, treason and oligarchy.... which is inherently more dangerous with power?


When people used to waffle about which party they disliked more, my advice was always along the lines of, "If you vote in Democrats and you don't like them, you can vote them out again in two years. If you vote in Republicans and you don't like them, they'll have done their damage by the next Tuesday."

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

Listening to that podcast you linked to about The Uplift War, just about 50 minutes in when they mention that moderates outnumber fanatics in Galactic society, but they're too bound up in protocol to do anything. Unbidden, this popped into my head:

The Synthian ambassador was Susan Collins.

David Brin said...

LH tempting to name one after her.

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman tells us out loud what we already know...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/28/opinion/tucker-carlson-general-milley-republicans.html

...
What set [Tucker] Carlson off was testimony in which [General Mark] Milley told a congressional hearing that he considered it important “for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and widely read.”

The problem is obvious. Closed-mindedness and ignorance have become core conservative values, and those who reject these values are the enemy, no matter what they may have done to serve the country.
...

Larry Hart said...

Something else which the "Uplift" podcast reminded me about, and this is a question for everyone, not just Dr Brin.

The first time I read The Uplift War, it just happened to be around the same time that Babylon 5 was doing a story arc around the Mimbari, whose government had three divisions which were not exactly named "Propriety", "Cost and Caution", and "Beak and Talon", but were obviously meant to signify the same things: religion, economics, and the military.

Did anyone get the impression that B5 was specifically riffing on the Uplift books?

Duncan Ocel said...

@Daniel Duffy
Looks like you missed an order of magnitude on the slow boat 10% of c line.

scidata said...

Larry Hart: Did anyone get the impression that B5 was specifically riffing on the Uplift books?

https://theelectricagora.com/2016/03/23/happy-birthday-babylon-5/

David Brin said...

LH - of course I did. There's nothing you can do.

Pappenheimer said...

Dr. Brin,

You're in good company. Tribbles are, point for point, Heinlein's Flatcats. It was recently pointed out to me that Watership Down is basically the Aeneid With Bunnies. Tolkien lifted the Battle of the Pelennor Fields straight from Romano-Goths vs. Huns at the battle of Chalons, and was quite up front about it. (The Gothic king, Theodoric, died when his horse rolled over him. Theodoric and Theoden? The good professor barely took a swipe at the serial numbers.) And Disney claimed that "The Lion King" had a bold new plot....

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Did anyone get the impression that B5 was specifically riffing on the Uplift books?

Caste systems show up in a lot of stories. Makes the aliens human enough that we understand the structure I suppose.

What I remember most about B5 was the timing of the arrival of DS9.

Story tellers gotta compete for our attention, hmm?

Tim H. said...

R.E., B5 riffing on uplift,I suspect one might take pride in creating ideas that are excellent enough to be worth using in other stories. I've read that, in some ways, early Superman comics were "John Carter in New York, in tights", so that gives you a place next to Edgar Rice Burroughs, from my perspective, not bad at all.

Tim H. said...

Apple has released a new teaser for Foundation:

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2021/06/we-finally-have-a-release-date-and-new-teaser-for-apple-tv-series-foundation/

The only thing that bothers me a bit is Terminus now has a Warden, rather than a Mayor.

scidata said...

Pappenheimer: [Tolkien] was quite up front about it

That's the key isn't it - attribution. Everybody steals, but they should openly admit to it. Asimov explicitly laughed at himself for 'cribbin' Gibbon and Thucydides.

Re: Apple's FOUNDATION
I'm fine with the gender and job title bending. What worries me is when Dornick says, "Your math checks out". Ummm. You're checking Seldon's math??? Also, math is a very weak substitute for computation (human trickery vs nature's fundamental process). Anyway, can't wait for September (already subscribed).

Daniel Duffy said...

Papp,

I always thought the Battle of the Pelennor Fields was taken from the Ottoman (Orcs) siege of Vienna (Minis Tirith) in 1683 where the Turkish siege lines were broken by Polish (Rohan) cavalry.

Daniel Duffy said...

Duncan,

E = mC^2

Reduce velocity to 10% of C and you get 1% of the energy (0.1 X C)^2 = 0.01 X C^2

Unless I made a bone headed math mistake

Paul451 said...

scidata,
"What worries me is when Dornick says, "Your math checks out". Ummm. You're checking Seldon's math???"

I haven't watched the show, but there is a scene at the very beginning of the first book where Seldon forces Dornick to work out, in his head, the probability of Trantor's destruction within 500 years. Earlier, Seldon also praises Dornick for not blindly accepting his assumptions and for catching a function that's "not allowed", resulting in Seldon redoing the calculation the long way to show that the short-cut was valid. Expecting the junior mathematician to check his maths seems consistent with his character in the book.

Paul451 said...

Pappenheimer,
"Tribbles are, point for point, Heinlein's Flatcats."

Meh. Heinlein acknowledged that he stole the idea from "Pigs Is Pigs".

scidata said...

Re: checking Seldon's math

I'm not just pearl-clutching at the affront to Seldon's prowess and authority. It's more the smug primacy of mathematics - Colbert would call it 'Mathiness'. All this foppish "checking" - a foolish consistency that falls far short of CITOKATE. Tiresome, even if it did originate in Asimov's trilogy. Apple is obviously not afraid of making changes, why are they being so consistent with the stodgy bits?

Epic tales should stir the soul. As Tolkien put it, "Not all those who wander are lost."

Pappenheimer said...

Daniel,

I wish I could find it online again, but I read Tolkien's commentary on the Pelennor years ago, and he stated that he chose Chalons as (iirc) THE confrontation between East (Attila's Huns) and West (Aetius was the Roman commander relying on Gothic cavalry allies). I agree that the siege part of it bears a strong resemblance to Vienna, but the Rohirrim are quite definitely Dark Age Goths with names to match, and Chalons relieved the Hunnic siege of a nearby town (wiki says Aurelianum, I'd remembered it incorrectly as Treves) just as the main Hunnic assault was being launched on it.

Paul,

On Pigs is Pigs - sounds about right! David Gerrold wrote that he wasn't consciously aware of the resemblance until after the show aired, but that he had of course read the Rolling Stones.

Asimov wrote a highly readable general history of Dark Age Europe - I'm wondering now how much of the Foundation series' events can be found in that book.

Hugh Greentree said...

I don't know what UAPs are. I saw an excellent video that came to the conclusion that the objects observed in the Navy gunsight video was an airliner. I tend to believe that the best explanation for an unusual event is the most boring explanation.

By the way, I am updating an old aphorism of mine. "Fascism is feudalism dressed up like socialism" is now "fascism is just wardlordism dressed up as socialism." I read some excellent histories about feudalism and realized that my cute comment was based on an incorrect understanding of what feudalism was. I am sad; the original version sounded so much better.

GMT -8 said...

David, thanks for the alert about the sale price on STARTIDE RISING. I am interrupting my current reading of medieval history and THE GULAG ARCHIPELIGO to re-read it. One of my all-time favorite books.

We've met a couple of times. You once signed a book I bought as a gift for a marine biologist friend. Strange thing though. When I gave her that book she was a hard-core liberal. Now she is a tea party activist way, way to the right of me. Life is strange.

Thank you for the put-down. As for the example you asked about, I live in Columbus, Ohio; a city that during my lifetime has moved from a Republican party domination to a Democratic party domination. This is a disaster for the residents; we need multiple, dynamic parties in order for representative government to have a chance at working. Once one party gets total dominance, the leadership gets sloppy. I was part of a social justice organization (named BREAD) that was lobbying city council small business incubators in minority neighborhoods - the opposition we got from the all-Democratic party city council was disgusting. They lied about us and excluded us. Two of BREAD's biggest victories were sponsoring a program for diversion of juvenile offenders out of criminal detention and a county land bank to keep fees and profits from lien enforcement local. The land bank was a big success...so much so that the county took it over and now uses the money for their pet projects and sells foreclosed lots to connected cronies.

We have one city council member who had HANDICAPPED PARKING signs put in front of his mother's house for two spaces. This is in a neighborhood where street parking is difficult to come by (the Short North and Italian Village neighborhoods). His mother no longer lives there; he lives there with his wife. Somehow, this non-disabled man and woman use the handicapped placards issued to his mother to park in those spaces. This corrupt fool easily got re-elected and later got a promotion and serves in the State Senate.

I've been the most conservative person in a room (like here); I've been the most liberal person in a room (many others). I am a Jew but I have a cousin who married a Palestinian Christian who is strongly opposed to the Likud party. I am about as pro-Israel as a person can get but I have defended Palestinian rights in my synagogue during a kiddush lunch after services.

I think we all learn more when we are surrounded by people we disagree with. And remember, Dantooine is too remote to be an effective demonstration.

GMT -8 said...

I think Mitch McConnell is an ass. I've met him. I've tried to convince him (and his staff) regarding policy (I forget which one). He was slimy. But Schumer is just as bad. I think a lot of the most terrible things done by the Democrats in DC have been at Schumer's behest. Schumer pushed to allow the Senate to openly consider the politics of judicial nominees. Schumer pushed to filibuster judicial nominees for the first time (we can ignore the pseudo filibusters of people like Abe Fortas).

We need to get rid of monsters like McConnell and Schumer and find some statesmen. I can't think of any in the Senate right now.

Larry Hart said...

The Grand Moff Tarkin:

Thank you for the put-down. As for the example you asked about, I live in Columbus, Ohio; a city that during my lifetime has moved from a Republican party domination to a Democratic party domination. This is a disaster for the residents; we need multiple, dynamic parties in order for representative government to have a chance at working. Once one party gets total dominance, the leadership gets sloppy.


I will admit that some cities are too monopolized by Democrats. At the state and federal level, though, it is Republicans who run the board. Note how even though Democrats have the federal trifecta--presidency, Senate, and House--they can't get anything done without Republican buy-in. That's not the case when Republicans have the power.


I am a Jew but I have a cousin who married a Palestinian Christian who is strongly opposed to the Likud party. I am about as pro-Israel as a person can get but I have defended Palestinian rights in my synagogue during a kiddush lunch after services.


I am also Jewish, and I've never equated support for Israel with support for Likud, just as (and for the same reason) I don't equate support for America with support for Republicans. The fact that either of those positions needs to be defended--almost apologetically--indicates how far rational civilization has fallen.


And remember, Dantooine is too remote to be an effective demonstration.


"Evacuate in our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances."


GMT -8 said...

Regarding cheating, the GOP law in Georgia is intended to reduce cheating. Here is a link to a BBC description of the Georgia law:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56650565

David Brin said...

I just responded thus to a massively emailed rant that scientists are suppressing a viral drug...

One of the foremost memes spread by the re-labeled USSR has been to foment open war by the US right against every single fact-using profession. Two million American scientists - responsible for most of our innovation and economic growth and defense - are either in cahoots in plots against the truth and the people, or else clueless/conformist lemmings, desperately clinging to the Standard Theory... when in fact scientists are the most ferociously competitive humans our species ever produced.

Name an exception to the war on all fact-professions! Scientists, teachers, doctors, journalists, civil servants, law professionals. Tucker rages against all of them, every night, a spoiled inheritance brat spewing at folks who stand in the way of a return to feudalism.. Only now add to the list of enemies...

... the half a million men and women of the US military/intel/FBI officer corps who won the Cold War and the War on Terror. All of them are now "deep state" conspirators against the nation they swore to defend.

Sure, criticism and error-detection are your right as free citizens. Scientists encourage it! But these lunatic memes are mostly Moscow-generated and here's a key test you should try! Demand a WAGER whether this month's latest hate-all-fact-professionals meme will prove true in two years. Demand real stakes to be escrowed with a reputable attorney - over anything from Pizzagate to hydroxycholorquine to "Ivermectin" or whether the GOP has ever been more fiscally responsible than the dems - the bet to be adjudicated by a neutral panel of retired senior military officers.
Watch what happens.

They whine and writhe and make excuses and "whatabout" distractions...

... and then they run.

GMT -8 said...

That's right. Don't judge a diverse group of people by the worst person in that group that you find.

GMT -8 said...

Read Jane Jacobs. She was brilliant. Her views on government and corruption were transformative for me. She took on Robert Moses in NYC and won.

GMT -8 said...

When you mention Ivermectin, I assume you are referring to Bret Weinstein and Pierre Kory talking about the drug. I listened to the podcast and it is interesting. It did not sound like bad science to me. But I am a lawyer, not an MD or a biologist.

David Brin said...

Now to the Moff… well, I am glad the fellow has a thick skin and willingness to engage. Articulate too and polite, and hence welcome here… but also a dizzy loon, alas.

And hence my tandard wager offer - escrow large stakes! - over many of the right’s magic incantations. Like:

- whether the GOP has EVER been more fiscally responsible,

- whether “Supply Side” voodoo was ever right about anything- once, ever - or made a single correct prediction.

-Whether the “Tea Party” actually maps on the anti-feudalist, anti-monarchist, anti-oligarchy rioters of Boston in 1775… or the Tories Cornwallis counted on in the Pre-Confederate South, in 1778?

- Or whether the rate of child predator perverts among GOP politicians is ONLY TWICE that of Democrats, or actually SIX to ten times greater.

- Or whether GOP run legislatures haven’t been the laziest in US history, caring only about trillions of gifts to oligarchy.

- Or whether the US right hasn’t been WRONG so many times…

Let's see now smog, seat belts, tobacco, McCarthyism, the goddam Drug War, Vietnam, Keeping lead in gasoline, Burning rivers, mass incarceration, Civil Rights, gay-bashing… and…
- Resisting easy fixes to the ozone layer...
- Resisting mileage efficiency and safety in vehicles…
- Unleashing the surge in gambling, vice, and casino mafiosi...
- Climate change denialism and science hating...

- Iraq Wars, based on outright lies...


- Claiming moral superiority while Red America scores worse in every category of turpitude, from teen sex/pregnancy/STD/abortions to gambling, domestic violence, divorce, alcoholism etc...

- More supply side so-called “economics”…

… and you DARE try to lecture us? Oh, yeah…

- Divorce was a bad thing, right? Till they realized the rate is far higher for top Republicans. 12 marriages among just Reagan, Hastert, Gingrich, McConnell, Trump… and zero divorces for top Dems, till the Gores broke up.

Are there anecdotal irritations on the left? Yep. I am well-known for dissing PC tactics and over-reach and that includes handicap parking excess. Only these serve you as magical justification-incantations. Not only are YOU in no position to lecture, you REFUSE to participate in the natural give and take of political discourse that would criticise such errors and negotiate solutions.

Negotiate? You confeds do not know the meaning. Today’s right is not just crazy/hypocritical, it is by far the most DISCIPLINED political force ever in US history.

Anecdotally, some dems have flaws you can point at and scream. But your side is utterly unblemished and pure in its insanity, corruption and outright deliberate treason.

GMT -8 said...

Maybe I should shift to my Jedi Master Yoda persona. It probably would make things easier here. I am not a stupid, mindless GOP defender. I'd rather be an honest voice about what the reputable Republicans stand for (and try to avoid the "no true Scotsman fallacy." I will gladly join in attacking Republican party stupidity. I am one of the "good guys."

As for having a thick skin; really, no. But I've seen David at cons and I've listened to his interviews. I've heard the chuckle in his voice when he goes on the attack. I don't always take him literally, but I take him very seriously. David is having fun when he really lets it rip.

I use persona name because my birth name is unique. And if David requests it, I will give my real name. I believe in accountability.. I think I still have David's email so I can send it to him.

Larry Hart said...

The Grand Moff Tarkin:

Maybe I should shift to my Jedi Master Yoda persona. It probably would make things easier here.


Heh. No, that would be much worse.

Haven't you read Dr Brin's Star Wars on Trial?

David Brin said...

Moff, you submitted a shotgun of comments and I approved them but only see one here. Please combine them in future.
I do not mind you keeping your pseudonym, so long as you stay polite and don't crap on the rug.

Though I must reiterate. While democrats are not - 'white as driven snow" - indeed, some are old-style politicians, fallible and even partially corrupt in older metrics... pointing at such episodes... or Woke-bullies and PC excesses by a ditzy fringe... is utter, utter hypocrisy.

They ARE driven-snow compared to the utterly, utterly evil traitor-lunatic monster confederates who have taken over one of our great political parties on behalf of a worldwide oligarchic putsch by current and "ex" communists, murder-sheiks, mafiosi, casino moguls and inheritance brats.

Show us - with money stakes - when the GOP since Dannis "friend to boys" Hastert (look him up!) took over the party ... when they have been more-right. Step up like a man and bet over checkable facts.

30,000 registered Trump lies... will you bet on any random ten taken from that list? And if HALF of those ten turn out to have been deliberate, knowing lies, and the rest careless rants, what does that say about your entire gone-insane movement? A movement waging open war against every single American fact profession, including the US military officer corps?

You strike me as someone who might, conceivably, be reachable by such challengbes.

I have been wrong before.




Keith Halperin said...

Hi Folks,

I've been too busy working these past few months to join in all the fun (I'm still working on the background to the thought-experiment Uplift prequel for OGH and anyone else who might be interested) but I just ran across this-
https://inhabitat.com/worlds-first-3d-printed-neighborhood-planned-for-rancho-mirage-california/
which seems like the sort of thing Dr. Brin occasionally publishes here, and IT'S NOT TOO FAR FROM HIM! (Brinnish use of caps.)

Stay Thirsty My Friends,

Keith Halperin

David Brin said...

Fun stuff Keith. At NIAC we funded one of the 1st studies of 3D printing structures (on the Moon, no less.)

Tony Fisk said...

Saith the Moff: Regarding cheating, the GOP law in Georgia is intended to reduce cheating.

There is no cheating, so a law to reduce cheating is without purpose. *That* purpose, at least.

In other news: Bezos vs Branson. Where have I heard a story like that before?

gregory byshenk said...

That Inhabitat article reads like a press release.

I remain dubious about this sort of use of 3D printing. The article quotes “3D-printing allows us to build faster, stronger and more efficiently, making it integral to our platform of streamlining home-building process centered on sustainability of construction, materials, and operations.” There are a lot of (buzz)words there, but very little justification.

Yes, doing the basic construction (of panels, etc) off-site in a controlled environment and then assembling them on-site can be much faster and more efficient, but it isn't clear what "3D printing" adds to this mix. From what I've seen, 3D printing is usually slower than other methods (ever watched 3D printing in real-time - not speeded up?), and while it can be more efficient in materials use, those materials are often more heavily-processed and difficult to use than standard materials.

GMT -8 said...

I don’t have to look up Hastert; I was working in DC between 2000 to 2003 and he was already Speaker. Gingrich had been forced out in 1999. His first likely successor was Bob Livingston, but he had a scandal (extra-marital affair) and he resigned his seat soon after Gingrich left. The next person in line was Hastert. My feeling was that after Livingston left, no one in the remaining leadership had enough power and authority to take the top job. You had a bunch of barons with relative equality and they feared that if one of them became Speaker he would be able to control the rest. So they settled on Hastert because he was weak and vulnerable...and disgusting.

As for the GOP being disciplined; it may look like that to you, but on the inside, it is anything but. I am disgusted with the party leadership. I can’t think of anyone I respect in Congress. The last person I respected (Steve Stivers) just resigned. I have a strong dislike for most of the party leaders these days.

My fear is that there is an oligarchy taking over the Democratic party. Most (not all) of the major media are cheering the Democrats on. Many of the issue groups, like the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League, are joining a coalition with the Democratic party. Did you see the AMAZON PRIME movie MIGHTY IRA about the former national Executive Director of the ACLU Ira Glasser? One of my mentors is featured prominently in the film: David Goldberger. He was the Jewish ACLU lawyer who represented the neo-NAZIs at Skokie. Goldberger and Glasser are worried about what is happening with the ACLU. The group is selling its soul to raise money, be part of a coalition, and be attractive to young progressives.

Larry Hart, yes, I have read David’s excellent take down of all the Messiah/Chosen One/Demi-God science fiction. I also enjoyed David’s comparison of STAR TREK and STAR WARS. We need to stop looking for super heroes or demi-gods to save us; we mere mortals are just going to have to fix things ourselves.

I recently read one of David’s posts where he mentioned being a HUGO nominee at the 1984 Worldcon. I was there! I was hanging out with the STAR WARS fans. It was an excellent convention. The day before the con started it was WORLDCON day at Disneyland…it was amazing walking around the park and seeing so many people I knew.

Have you read the HIDDEN TRIBES report? If so, what are your thoughts?

https://hiddentribes.us/

I took their quiz and I ended up pretty close to Bernie Sanders. That was a surprise for a self-professed traditional conservative. But, one person’s “conservative” is another person’s “liberal.”

Here is an excellent video: WHO DESTROYED THREE MILE ISLAND.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xQeXOz0Ncs

The real question is, WHAT destroyed Three Mile Island. The moral of the story is “assume positive intent.” Most people go to work intending to do a good job. Don’t look at blaming people. Look at making the system better. I apply the same approach when looking at political issues. It’s amazing how much you can improve a system if you aren’t trying to assign blame.

That said, it is crucial for people like David to voice their complaints about the GOP and I don’t want him to stop. This is the litigation approach. In order to find the truth you need to have advocates pushing various points of view.

Larry Hart said...

I wonder if we have already lost democracy, and not because of election fraud or gerrymandering or anything about the mechanism of governance.

I mean the fact that lawmakers and judges and election officials now have to take possible right-wing violence directed at themselves and their families into account as part of their decision-making. We would seem to already be a third-world country in that regard.

(Emphasis mine)

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Pres/Maps/Jul02.html#item-2

...
And [Liz] Cheney is only one of the headaches McCarthy has to deal with. Few members of his conference want to serve on the [1/6] committee. If they come from red districts, they are at risk of being primaried from the right if they take the job seriously. And if they come from swing districts, they are at risk of being primaried from the right if they take the job seriously, or of being hit hard in the general election if they don't. And that's before we talk about the certainty that they will come under constant attack from Donald Trump, and that they could well be putting their lives in danger, given the fanatical and violent elements that exist within the base.

Larry Hart said...

In the original Poseidon Adventure movie that I saw more years ago than I want to admit, there's a line I still remember when the group had almost made it to the top of the overturned ship and were close to the point at which they might be able to escape. For no particular reason, a pipe ruptures, spewing out scalding steam which serves to block their path along a narrow catwalk.

Gene Hackman's character, a young, progressive preacher who has been leading the group to safety rails at God, something like, "I don't expect You to help us, but don't work against us."

That came to mind on reading this bit about the supreme court right-wing majority ruling in favor of voter suppression:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/01/opinion/supreme-court-rulings-arizona-california.html

It is too much to ask for the Supreme Court to be the main protector of American democracy. But it should not be too much to ask that the court not be one of the major impediments.

Larry Hart said...

The Grand Moff Tarkin:

Have you read the HIDDEN TRIBES report? If so, what are your thoughts?
...
I took their quiz and I ended up pretty close to Bernie Sanders. That was a surprise for a self-professed traditional conservative. But, one person’s “conservative” is another person’s “liberal.”


I hadn't seen that site before. Took the quiz now and came out as "Progressive Activist", so I suppose that's as good a description as any. I'm kinda surprised, because I had to waffle on some of the questions where there was no good answer.

I tend to dislike quizzes of this sort, because often I can see what the question is trying to suss out, but the literally correct answer wouldn't do that. For example:


Which do you agree with more?

+ American identity is disappearing nowadays

+ American identity is being strengthened through diversity


My true sense is that I think American identity is disappearing nowadays because of a pushback against diversity. That is, I think a certain secular pluralism is a fundamental aspect of American identity, and that that is being forgotten in service to a white nationalist blood-and-soil conception of Americanism. But the top answer would make me sound like a white nationalist, while the second makes me sound as if I think American identity is in fact being strengthened rather than being undermined.


Or this one:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

+ To fix America, we need a strong leader who is willing to break the rules.


If I say agree, then it sounds like I favored Donald Trump. But I do think we need leaders who are willing to do things like eliminate the filibuster or pack the supreme court in order to push back against those who do break the rules in plain sight. So how do I answer truthfully?

Larry Hart said...

The Grand Moff Tarkin:

As for the GOP being disciplined; it may look like that to you, but on the inside, it is anything but.


I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that. Personally, I hardly care whether individual Republicans are enthusiastic Trump supporters or just play them on tv. The rubber meets the road when they vote (or keep a vote from taking place), and on that score, Susan Collins is in lockstep with Mitch McConnell, no matter how "concerned" she feels before or afterwards.


My fear is that there is an oligarchy taking over the Democratic party.


Arrrgh! Here is where Dr Brin will probably (correctly) come down on you. The Republican Party is actively and in plain sight using state legislatures and the supreme court to make sure that they can legally rig elections in their favor, and your fear is that Democrats--the only major party whose policy is to promote democracy rather than curtail it--aren't pure enough?


Most (not all) of the major media are cheering the Democrats on. Many of the issue groups, like the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League, are joining a coalition with the Democratic party.


Most scientists, even in traditionally conservative areas like economics, have left the Republican Party and become Democrats or at least anti-Republican independents. Don Junior bleats that that is evidence of bias on the part of scientists, but we all know he's full of shit. They've left the Republican Party because the Republican Party is anti-science, which they justify with batshit-insane ravings.

Bill Maher used to claim no political party (his old show title--"Politically Incorrect"--was meant as a dig against liberals), but since Trump, he has called himself a Democrat and supported Democrats financially. That's not because his views have changed, but because Republicans are a clear and present danger to democracy and all we hold dear.

I suspect that most non-captured media and advocacy groups are in the same position. They can't stay neutral. Staying neutral implicitly gives aid and comfort to traitors and terrorists.

As a reader communication on www.electoral-vote.com recently put it, "I do vote for the best candidate, regardless of party, but lately, "the best candidates regardless of party" all belong to one party.


Larry Hart, yes, I have read David’s excellent take down of all the Messiah/Chosen One/Demi-God science fiction. I also enjoyed David’s comparison of STAR TREK and STAR WARS. We need to stop looking for super heroes or demi-gods to save us; we mere mortals are just going to have to fix things ourselves.


We're in agreement here. I only posted that to allay any notion that going by "Jedi Master Yoda" would improve ones standing here on this site.

scidata said...

Quick question for the propulsion wonks here in CB. Raptors are awesome and could (with orbital refueling) get a minimal 'Mars trolly' going. But obviously, a Utopia Planitia type colony will require a fast conveyor belt, not a trolly, due to tonnage and cosmic radiation requirements. How close are we to fission-electric engines? How close are we to fusion engines? Could either or both be Earth launched?

Der Oger said...

From the outside view, the GOP is a fascist party now. What I don't understand why the Dems don't capitalize on it.

It would be rather easy. All it would take would be giving Up on Pipe dreams of bipartisanship, and wielding the powers they have. Not stacking the supreme court was an error, imho.

David Brin said...

Der Oger I offer close to 100 postential tactics that no dem pol will touch:
Polemical Judo, by David Brin: http://www.davidbrin.com/polemicaljudo.html

Scidata, alternative propulsion is one of the things we do at
NASA's Innovative & Advanced Concepts program - (NIAC) Recent news is that the annual Symposium for is ON for September21-24 in Tucson!

Or livestream: https://livestream.com/viewnow/niac2021 .

scidata said...

Thanks for the NIAC notice Dr. Brin, I added it to Google Calendar. I'll be silent, partly because I'm a polite Canuck, but mainly because I have absolutely no expertise :) I have a small stack of propulsion text books circa 1975 that I found in used book lot I bought way back. All about nozzle velocity and chamber mix control. Amazing how far we've come. The future didn't turn out as predicted in the Golden Age, but in some areas, things actually progressed faster. The klunky viewscreens and manual switches in FOUNDATION are cute. I vaguely recall Asimov (or another) mentioning tubes at some point.

TCB said...

@ Der Oger, the problem, as Jesus pointed out, is that no man can serve two masters.

The Republicans serve one master, the wealthy oligarchs, and they do this with a fascistic purity of zeal.

The Democrats, unfortunately, serve two. On the one hand, in a sane world, we would probably call the modern Democratic Party (after the 1970's) a moderately conservative/centrist pro-business party. But they also act as the popular moderate-left pro-worker party, and do all they can to smother and absorb alternatives farther to their left. That's two masters: the business community and the workers, whose interests are largely opposed. Since the business community donates so much money, its will is more likely to be expressed in the Democratic policy when the Dems have power.

But wait. What I euphemistically call the business community overlaps, a LOT, with the far right oligarchs who run the Republicans. We could say that in truth the workers have half a party, on a good day. The oligarchs own one major party in full, and a minority share in the other party just large enough to gum up its gears. (I snarl each time I hear the news readers refer to Sens. Manchin and Synema as 'moderates'. How is a position half way between centrism and fascism moderate?)

That's why the Democratic leadership don't use the sort of good ideas Dr. Brin suggests. They are hobbled by the veto of almost-fascists in their own coalition, and lulled by opium dreams of preserving a status quo of civility and prosperous peace that vanished a generation ago (or two).

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

From the outside view, the GOP is a fascist party now. What I don't understand why the Dems don't capitalize on it.


To some extent, the parties in this country can't afford to completely alienate their big donors. And those folks hate anything that smacks of "socialism" more than fascism.

Also, I hate to say this, but what we learned in 2016 and since then is that somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the electorate like fascism. And because of the way states (rather than individuals) are represented, Democrats can't win national elections without compromising with some right-wing voters, and they certainly can't win if they outright alienate right-wing voters. The reverse is not the case for Republicans. That's why, despite the accepted wisdom that "You can't win by just being against something--you have to be for something," Republicans can win just fine on being against Democrats. And despite the accepted wisdom that "You can't insult your way to victory," Republicans can do just fine doing just that.


It would be rather easy. All it would take would be giving Up on Pipe dreams of bipartisanship, and wielding the powers they have. Not stacking the supreme court was an error, imho.


I do agree, but I can understand why they haven't go that far. It's not a case of giving up on bipartisanship. It's giving up on the idea that country can function as a whole rather than as separate, warring factions. I have given up on that, but it took me a long time to get there.

You've maybe heard the notion that if you take a shot at the king, you'd better not miss? That's analogous to what's going on here. Democrats may need to break norms and wield power ruthlessly in order to survive, but if they do so and Republicans ever take power back, Democrats will never have power again. If Dems increase the size of the supreme court to 13, then Republicans will use that as an excuse to increase it to 101.
So they are probably gun-shy about taking that shot and missing.

All that aside, I suspect that blackmail is behind much of what looks like timidity, from officials of both parties.

David Brin said...

Some things in Asimovia are hilarious. Yet understandable. 25,000 years in the future, the Foundation on Terminus has a huge advantage in ATOMIC POWER. So what to all the warp starships use out there, coal? Forgivable since atomic power was in Isaac's future. But in Foundation's Triumph I give him an out by saying the fallen ar stuck with fission while Terminus has proton-proton fusion.

TCB you eret a tempting model... that is wrong in more places than it is right.

1. the power of money in politics is in steep decline. Advertising achieves nothing. BLACKMAIL has replaced it. Far more efficient but the house of cards could collapse at any time. And with far more women, the dems are simply far more immune.

2. The needs of truely competitive businesses are not the same as oligarchs' . The latter seek to stifle competition.

3. Workers have been lured out of the FDR coalition into confederatism, to the frustration of democrats who keep trying to lure them back with self-interes.

4. Show me the "smothering." It is nonexistent. Bet me on it. Answer these challenges: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/08/five-devastating-rebuttals-to-use-with.html

--

Alfred Differ said...

scidata,

Over on YouTube, Everyday Astronaut has a decent (and long) video covering details about the Raptor and how it compares to other rocket engines. I know you asked about atomic ones, but there are a lot of details to learn before even getting to that level. A HUGE one is how to generate power without melting the engine spitting it out. That is often more complicated than than people imagine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbH1ZDImaI8

The deep dive video is about two years old now, so some things have changed and some things are known better now. What hasn't changed are the measures and descriptions of how some of these engines work. He compares Raptor to others and goes deep, deep, deep. It's still very useful for framing future questions and concerns.

David Brin said...

Wow. ONE Falcon nine has launched 8 times in the last year., almost monthly now. Every legacy rocket company is obsolete. Folks complain he has passed only half the savings on in lowered launch costs. Um... the rest? Subsidizing the next step.

GMT -8 said...

Larry, agreement is a good thing. If we can see each other as human beings and not see each other as villains in some drama, that is a step in the right direction.

With Cthulu is my witness, some of the angry comments about the Republicans are just about the same as what I see in conservative sites (I don't go to them anymore since they don't have a brilliant host like David Brin). My favorite site right now is Glen Greenwald's substack site. There are some pretty spirited disagreements; you have a mix of left-wing and right-wing people there. But the rhetorical temperature is a lot lower.

Maybe the best thing I can do here is find comments I can agree with and encourage people to keep going in that direction. And occasionally be critical of some point where I think someone is not being fair.

Picking a space NAZI as a nom de plume is pretty ironic since I am about as far from a fascist as one can get. I've burned myself out fighting the good fight to make millionaires pay more taxes. I've also fought with government bureaucrats to keep them from abusing their powers. I've worked as a prosecutor and put people in jail (but of all the things I did during my 10 months as a criminal prosecutor, the thing I am most proud of is when I got a woman OUT of jail right before Thanksgiving so she could get back to work - I had to transfer her case from a judge who was on vacation).

I strongly advise against making any more structural changes to our national government. Now is just not the time. The Democrats barely have a majority in either house of Congress. I've seen people here describe the Republican bills in Georgia and other states as "cheating." So let me link to a BBC report that gives (I think) a mostly fair description of the Georgia law: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56650565

Woo hoo! World of Warships Public Test finally installed on my notebook computer. I am going to sit next to my lovely wife (who is very much a progressive) and blow some ships up.

Alfred Differ said...

Yah. They said they were aiming for an F9 launch every 7 days in 2021. Current cadence has them averaging slightly more than 9 days.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_and_Falcon_Heavy_launches

Near the top of the page where rocket configurations are charted, one can see they are mostly flying re-used first stages lately. They even got the most recent GPS-3 flight up there on a re-used booster. So... they have to build new second stage sections each time, but they are consistently recovering other hardware.

The only mark against them right now (in my not so humble opinion) is they don't have enough customers besides their own StarLink. The ride share 'Transporter' missions show how it can and should be done for small customers and occasionally someone rides along on the typical StarLink flight. Not enough, though. That means the other, older companies are obsolete AND SpaceX has sucked a large chunk of the oxygen out of the room.

TCB said...

1.) I think the power of money in politics is camouflaged, chameleonic. Example: On the radio today they were talking about a raft of right wing 'local' news websites that served to amplify Big Lie stories about the last election.

https://www.niemanlab.org/2020/07/hundreds-of-hyperpartisan-sites-are-masquerading-as-local-news-this-map-shows-if-theres-one-near-you/

Point being, and ohhhhh boy I could come up with many examples if I had nothing else to do, this sort of meme-pushing could not be done if wealthy backers were not writing checks!

2.) In a hypercapitalist society, stifling competition is SOP even among many of the "more liberal" oligarchs. Bezos, Gates, etc.

3.) "Workers have been lured out of the FDR coalition into confederatism." Ugh, that is just plain true.

..."to the frustration of democrats who keep trying to lure them back with self-interest." ... but I wish it were that simple. Post-1990, voting for Dems has NOT reliably served the self-interest of workers to a degree that was too clear to overlook. We've seen the graphs comparing top-percentile political influence versus everyone else's. For instance:

https://www.vox.com/2014/4/18/5624310/martin-gilens-testing-theories-of-american-politics-explained

... i.e. the top 10 percent can generally advance what they want and often can veto what the do not want, while the hoi polloi have no better than a noise-floor chance of getting what they want or preventing what they don't want.

4.) re: Smothering. What I mean is that, as opposed to how the GOP takes useful views and stories from the far right fringe and amplifies them, does the Dem mainstream do that with its left-sourced views and stories? Generally, as I see it, no. The Dem mainstream/establishment will silence or coopt the ferment of its left whenever it can. Partly this is simply due to a lack of CASHMONAY.

The political left are, by definition, not rich. There are no left-of-Bernie billionaires bankrolling liberal/socialist websites and broadcasters. I get some seriously pathetic emails from progressive orgs whose staff are probably subsisting on mac and cheese. Not a problem for the many Koch minions, I will wager.

Beyond that, there is an old Democratic Party dynamic of "Come to the polls, progressives! Bring your socdem friends, we need doorknockers and phone bankers! Oh, now that the election is won, siddown and shaddup until the next election. Let the adults confer with the Wall Streeters."

The Berniecrat wing has managed to pry some concessions out of the establishment and get a seat at Joe Biden's ear, but even today it is still more true that the right wing GOP will listen to its firebrands call for civil war more readily than the Dem leadership will listen to Mother Jones-ish muckrakers calling for single payer healthcare. And a non-trivial reason for this is that the Dem leaders have to listen to donors for big insurance companies, or at least give them a seat at the table. The GOP-fascists do not lock out, shun or silence their extremists, but welcome them and give them airtime.

Notice that I implied advocates of single payer healthcare are extremists, and you may not have blinked. That is how skewed our discourse is, and largely skewed by money.

By the way, I stipulate that blackmail is a major factor now. But money in politics is too. We are like fish in polluted water. We don't even remember what clean water was like.

Larry Hart said...

The Grand Moff Tarkin:

Larry, agreement is a good thing. If we can see each other as human beings and not see each other as villains in some drama, that is a step in the right direction.


You might consider changing your name, then (though not to a Jedi Master). I mean, I trust you see the irony in "The Grand Moff Tarkin" advising us not to see each other as villains?


With Cthulu is my witness, some of the angry comments about the Republicans are just about the same as what I see in conservative sites (I don't go to them anymore since they don't have a brilliant host like David Brin).


I understand that right-wingers who think that America should exist as a homeland/stronghold for white people would feel every bit as existentially threatened by liberal notions of equality and justice for all as we do by their notions of white supremacy. That's kinda what I meant up above when I said that the country no longer works as a unified whole, but instead is a battleground where two warring factions scrabble for the upper hand against each other.

That doesn't mean I accept that both sides have equal justification for their positions. To me, being a patriotic American comprises such values as justice and equality under the law, and respect for free and fair elections. To equate that with a so-called "patriotism" which denies those things...well, it sounds to my ears like someone in the 1940s saying that Jews and Nazis each hate the other, so they're both equally at fault.


My favorite site right now is Glen Greenwald's substack site. There are some pretty spirited disagreements; you have a mix of left-wing and right-wing people there. But the rhetorical temperature is a lot lower.


I heard him as a guest on Stephanie Miller's radio show just yesterday. I usually think he's spot-on, but yesterday he was arguing against the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision to dismiss the conviction against Bill Cosby, and I couldn't follow what he was saying. Much as I'm generally on the side of the #MeToo movement, Cosby's conviction seemed from the get-go to be a violation of his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. In my view, the PA court got it exactly right in not exonerating him for the crime, but declaring the obvious--that you can't coerce someone into testifying against himself at a deposition by promising not to pursue criminal charges and then pursue criminal charges using that deposition as evidence.

Greenwald's argument seemed to be that a prosecutor could not have extended such a promise, even though everyone else on both sides of the argument seems to accept that he did.


Maybe the best thing I can do here is find comments I can agree with and encourage people to keep going in that direction. And occasionally be critical of some point where I think someone is not being fair.


That's what our host refers to as CITOKATE * and there's nothing wrong with that. I try to do the same.

* "Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote To Error"

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

By the way, I stipulate that blackmail is a major factor now. But money in politics is too. We are like fish in polluted water. We don't even remember what clean water was like.


Why do I think I hear Alfred Differ's voice in the distance about to say that the water has never been clean, and is in fact cleaner than it ever was, although still too polluted to quite support healthy life?

:)

Catfish 'n Cod said...

Hey there team, Father of Kittenfish back for the nonce... here's hoping I can stay longer this time.

Wilhuff, you've intrigued me. You're not afraid to call asshats by their real description, and you are willing to break Reagan's so-called "Eleventh Commandment". You're also willing to cite sources not pre-screened by ideology. That's enough to open a dialogue, at least -- you're clearly not willing to let others do your thinking for you.

For instance: There's a very low degree of trust right now between the parties. I'm willing to stipulate that Georgia's new laws are being given the most negative possible interpretation by critics, if you'll be willing to note that said critics have at least *somewhat* good reasons to be suspicious.

I can understand why there could be principled objections to making federal election laws a lynchpin of voting rights: it forms a point-failure source. Bad engineering. The Voting Rights Acts had the same problem, and this week the 1965 version was effectively repealed by Justice Alito. Unfortunately, the real institutional flaw runs deeper still, and all the election laws bear the same flaw:

There is no consistent, positive right to vote in the United States of America.

This was not a flaw at the Founding; the political cultures of the colonies were sufficiently diverse that a comprehensive, uniform rule was not practical. So Article I subcontracted the rules to the states, but with a proviso that Congress *could* write uniform federal rules if the situation changed. And change it did; religious tests became weaker (helped by the First Amendment), property qualifications were dropped, and so forth. But the loophole intended to allow the natural growth of harmonization became the lowered drawbridge to subvert the Fourteenth Amendment's intent of defining citizenship.

Any rights, including those of citizenship, are meaningless without the means to defend them. The Soviets had a constitution with a bill of rights; the only actual power it granted was as maskirovka to confuse naive foreigners. And since that power remained with the states, most of the Fourteenth Amendment was effectively rendered null for a century-- unless the federal government invoked its supremacy by physical force. The 1964 VRA proved insufficient to replace federalized troops, as states wrote ostensibly neutral rules and then enforced them in a partisan manner; hence the 1965 VRA and pre-clearance and effect over intent as a metric for enforcement.

Notice that not once in this discussion have I yet mentioned race. Race was not part of the discussion when the problem was created, and it's not the fundamental reason it's a problem still. Any means to shape the electorate by opaque, dishonest, or partisan reasons is effectively a means to deny rights to any group. The Constitution prohibits certain means and reasons to deny the vote, but the only positive guarantees are the right to "a republican form of government" (too vague) and "equal protection of the law".

Which means that if a state's institutions decide some class of citizens is insufficiently supportive of the current regime, they can find ways to alter the electorate to retain power -- and the federal institutions can only react after the fact. Which means no one's rights are secure as long as the right to vote can be manipulated.

There are deals to be made for those of good will to combine positive guarantees of that right with negative filters to prevent cheating. That's one reason why voting rights activists prioritize defending citizens' access to the ballot over preventing ballot stuffing. Cheating is bad enough, but cheating that also wipes out all other rights?

David Brin said...

Great to see Kittenfishdad here. Now if only we can drag back Ilithi Dragon and Tacitus, the band (minus a couple of hecklers who more-often-than-not added spice) would be back together, somewhat...

TCB thanks for clarifying. But you just made it worse thereby. We are 'somthering the left" because we don't fight right wing/kremlin/fox insane treason memes... by amplifying our own side's nutter fringe? I truly am boggled by that and please, please tell me I paraphrased you wrong. Because at that point the Enlightenment would have no friends left, at all.

Moff. Sorry. Doesn't wash. Every effort to cross party divides or go back to an era of negotiation has been put forward by democrats and the hand that's offered is always bitten off.

You say you remember Dennis Hastert, who crushed Newt Gingrich because Newt was only 95% rabid partisan and actually negotiated real things for the republic, sometimes. You commented not at all about Hastert's eventual destiny (look... him... up! He is the tip of the iceberg of Republican pederasts.) So let's focus on the Hastert Rules punishing any GOP pol who so much as SOCIALIZES with democrats. No dinners or barbecues or even friendships. GOP pols live in small apartments in DC and their kids, who used to go to school in DC with kids of dem pols, almost never even see DC. Their wives never meet. Negotiation never happens. Who did this?

"Obamacare" followed a design from the Heritage Foundation! But when Obama touched it, it got cooties and not one gopper would negotiate. Over their OWN damn plan.

I could go on and on. BET ME CASH ON THAT. But the upshot is this. The deliberate destruction of POLITICS as a process to negotiate and work toward consensus or compromise was deliberately destroyed in the USA. And there is no both-sides about it. It was done - in parallel with all-out war on every fact using profession including science - at behest of the masters of the GOP, with intent of destroying America's ability to respond with agility to problems. GOP Congresses were the LAZIEST in US history, deliberately doing nothing, holding almost no (non-Clinton-bashing) hearings, even.

The destruction of US politics by a risen and insane and treasonous Confederacy is not something you may sweep under the rug or distract from with "both sides!" riffs. Or accusing me of partisanship or reciting "can't we all get along" whines. It is treason. It is open war against the Republic. It is flat-out evil.

And so is every attempt to try "both sides" on us.

Robert said...

the only positive guarantees are the right to "a republican form of government"

Looking in from the outside, it appears that most of the action is coming from people who read that as meaning "a Republican government", and they'll do what they can to guarantee that.

scidata said...

@ Alfred Differ

Watched the Everyday Astronaut Raptor video. Many thanks, an hour well spent. I've now progressed from the relative safety of total ignorance to the more dangerous level of partially informed.

My early career was in NG metrology, mainly soldering, but also spending time with engineers, chemists, geologists, gov't, and patent attorneys. One topic I spent a lot of time on was supercompressibility, which is the variance from ideal gas law that comes into play at high pressures. I wonder if that ever comes into propellant design. I heard hair-raising stories of what happens to human flesh when it's accidentally exposed to pipeline pressures around 700psi. The engines in the video are well in excess of 10,000psi !

The chemistry and physics of the combustion itself are the main story, with as you said the melting of 'normal' metals in the main chamber, but also and especially in the more delicate turbine sections. Solved by SpaceX for the Raptor (where did they find/hire/rent all these brilliant metallurgists?) The weight of high-pressure tanks and of the fuel itself have been problems since Goddard (or that Russian guy maybe). Moving from hydrogen, RP-1, or methane, to the insanely high energy density of uranium solves all that, while ushering in a whole new slate of problems of course.

We're at the Oregon Trail stage, so methane may sort of work for the solar system, especially if it can be produced off-world. We'll need phosphorus to get to the stars, but definitely post-chemical engines too.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Why do I think I hear Alfred Differ's voice in the distance about to say...


You know me well. 8)


I get tired of saying it all the time because it makes people believe I wear rose-tinted glasses. However, the fact that we complain about these things HAS improved the situation.

Slavery used to be an accepted institution. It has ancient ties deep into our history. Now it is reviled by many. We CAN make these big changes and have proof of our success.

It's just agonizingly slow. Still... it IS happening.

David Brin said...

Good stuff. but...

onward

onward