Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Ukraine is the iceberg tip and deeper struggles. The politics of divisiveness... and talk of civil war.

Two topics this time. 

First, my FB followers already saw this, but there are reasons to suspect that a lot more is going on, in the current Ukraine Imbroglio than readily meets the eye. 

Then I'll dive into the fractious political situation in the U.S., offering some insights you'll not see elsewhere. Perhaps... because I'm a nut and every other 'pundit' knows better? (I suppose that's possible!) Or else I'm trained to step back... like a Tex Avery character... and see things from a place some distance off the cliff.

== Are we in a "Cool War" that might turn hot... out of desperation? ==

My SFnal spidey sense powers are tingling over this Ukraine crisis… and not in ways that you’ll find in headlines. For example, across the last year, several subsea fiber cables have mysteriously failed. And abruptly, recently, the Russian Navy held exercises over the very patch where several more cables from North America converge on Ireland. (Note that a command delay device can be left in place, after such a distraction. So we’re not safe when that fleet moves on.) Russian and Chinese anti-satellite tests threaten what they tell themselves is the US military’s over-dependence upon space assets. And you can be sure a flurry of recent US defense launches are related, in some degree.
Vladimir Putin’s four year springtime of easy successes, after his triumph in the 2016 U.S. elections, has been followed by a year of winter-setbacks of which we only see iceberg-tip - which might include unseen pokes by unleashed western agencies who are no longer held back by a White House quisling, retaliating for what only a fool would not call relentless acts of war by the Kremlin’s FSB.
Moreover, speaking of winter, a big ticking clock is counting down for Vlad, as an invigorated NATO will now invest heavily in energy alternatives to (at last) free Europe from Russian gas.

All of the Ukraine headlines make sense in this context, as the bluster of a deeply desperate man and regime. And desperate men can be especially dangerous! They scream “Look at me! Respect me! I am dangerous!”
Frantically, they clutch the delusion of “western cowardly decadence” that Americans, especially, have had to disprove, expensively, almost every generation since the 1770s. (Australians, too, recently proved they are not so easy to intimidate.) It is the emotional recourse of those who cannot comprehend the concept of positive sum.
And so I get to my proposal... my call for someone, somewhere, to hunt down the rights to republish… at least online… a dire warning scenario from the 1980s - Frederik Pohl’s novel THE COOL WAR. Some of you know I have touted it for years, as a hugely plausible tale of worldwide failure, that depicts all nations devolving into a relentless cycle of tit-for-tat international sabotage.
Fred was spectacularly prescient quite often, e.g. in one book he became the only author before 1990 to predict cell phones would become speaking, all-purpose digital assistants.

But the COOL WAR is what we need circulating right now! Yes, even (temporarily) in pirated form! I think the meme and lesson is that important.

== Oh the (political ironies! ==

Dick Cheney came to the Capitol on the anniversary of the January 6 uprising - and said he's 'deeply disappointed in GOP leadership. Oof. When Dick Cheney, who sold us out amid lies and theft of tens of billions of dollars, has had a bellyful of Republican turpitude and insanity, you get a scale, a metric, by which to measure the depth of depravity in today's top GOP/confederate caste.

'When asked for his reaction to Republican leadership’s handling of this day (January 6), Cheney -- not one to mince words -- said, "Well, it’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks that I knew when I was here for 10 years -- dramatically."'

It's not just that the Trump-McConnell-Graham + the Fox/Putin gang are worse thieves and liars, outdoing even the infamous Cheney Iraq Logistics Scam. What I believe bothers the Cheneys and Romney etc. above all is the stupidity of threatening the very survival of an American Republic on whose arteries these parasites sucked for so long. 

Killing the goose that laid their golden eggs might lead to revolution, of one sort or another. Even a mild version could shine radicalized transparency into corners they thought safely hidden. Today's central Foxite mantra, repeated at all levels every day... "Don't look!"... won't work for much longer, if the Trumpites keep riling things.

Like Isoroku Yamamoto in 1941, Cheney's clade of satiably careful parasites fears awakening a sleeping giant - the sane American majority - and uniting all of the fact professions in purposeful wrath, determined to cleanse everything with light.

But heedless of that danger - and likely propelled by blackmail - the Trumpist cult stomps on the accelerator, toward a cliff of civil war they are deluded enough to think that they can win.

== Extremism in politics ==

This remarkable (and chilling) chart summarizes ongoing research and appraisal of the wide variety of riled up domestic extremist groups churning within the U.S., from old-fart “Oath-Keepers” to your disorganized but verbally violent incels and ‘stochastic haters.' And many of them are resembling more and more the “Holnists” I portrayed in The Postman as the straw that broke America’s – and the world’s – back. 

Want an important and cogent reminder of how vulnerable our enlightenment experiment in America is to civil division? 'In his Farewell Address, George Washington was almost fantastically lucid about the situation the United States faces at this exact moment. “I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations,” he warned. “This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.” The Founding Father saw hyper-partisanship as the greatest danger to American democracy. Almost 250 years later, he’s been proven correct.'

This an excerpt from Stephen Marche’s latest book: The Next Civil War: Dispatches from the American Future:

I've written elsewhere of how fundamental the problem is, to the fate of humanity, the planet... and possibly the galaxy! 6000 years (or much more) of brutally stupid feudalist rule cauterized most civilizations on Earth, propelled by a darwinian trap of male nature, observed in species as diverse as lions and rabbits, orcas and elephant seals. 

Squint at all of them and you'll see overlaps with feudal lords, kings, theocrats and sons of Heaven, all striving to maximize dominance and reproduction by their own sons. And we are all -- all of us -- descended from the harems of the men who pulled that off.

But, just a few times -- perhaps only on this planet -- a rare alternative emerged, tried experimentally in Periclean Athens, then da Vinci's Florence, then Amsterdam and now succeeding against all odds, here and in other points of light, around the globe.

That alternative attractor state - with flattened/accountable hierarchies and maximized flat-fair-cooperative competition, and now moderated by female viewpoints - has proved so vastly more fecund, creative, productive, scientific, fun... and incrementally more fair... than all feudal systems, combined. It should be a no-brainer to prefer this... 

...proving that the worldwide cabal of oligarchs trying to bring it down right now have (essentially) no brains. (In EXISTENCE I portray what trillionaires might do who are actually smart, and not surrounded with sycophant flatterers.)

The very same nerd professions they now wage war against - through vile agents like Fox News - will remember. If the oligarch mafia succeeds in toppling this Experiment, they will thereupon ride tumbrels wondering: 

"What went wrong? In our closed circle-jerk, it looked like such a good plan!"

So go forth and convert a MAGA. I show a dozen ways how and offer some, in Polemical Judo. But you can start by quoting Washington... and Robert Heinlein.

== Talk of Civil War ==

But okay. it is a recurring concern. So let's dive into that Civil War, stuff.

Generals Warn Of Divided Military And Possible Civil War In Next U.S. Coup Attempt.”  In all this yammering about 'civil war," no one notes that Phase 8 has been going on for years, now. Indeed they are talking about a hot Phase 9. And while the Officer Corps of smart, educated heroes who won the Cold War and the War on Terror are fleeing the gone-mad Republican Party in droves, they still allow Fox News to blare in the noncom ready rooms. (Though not in the Navy!) And THAT is the way things may divide, if it gets bad. Picture that divide, and shiver. Watch your backs.

Here are a couple of "civil war sci fi novels" that we hope will stay fiction. Tears of Abraham by Sean Smith and Our War by Craig Di-Louie. For nonfiction: newly released: How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them, by B. A. Walter.

Dismissing the Intel/FBI/Military officer corps as "deep state" traitors is despicable. The quarter of a million heroes who helped win the Cold War and the War on Terror and who put facts before dogma. 

But attacking Gen. Mark Milley as a "procurement bureaucrat" especially chaps my hide. It shows dismal ignorance of the badges that he earned, visible in photos. Paratrooper/Airborne. Ranger. Many action & theater commendations. His home unit is the "band of brothers" 101st Airborne. And the noblest of them all, the Combat Infantryman" insignia. Also, most senior officers have either a PhD or 2-3 masters or equivalents. (Read that again, to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Major General" tune!)

 They are well-versed in science and fact, making them desperately concerned about climate change and pandemics and the blatant meddling of foreign despots in one of our political parties. For example, they know the Russians are building 12 huge new military bases to control the melting Arctic. And those spewing 'deep state" slanders at them are not worthy to shine their boots.

Those hurling 'traitor' at such heroes should use the word into a mirror.

== Miscellany that Matters ==

And of course the same twits attack every other fact-using profession, from science, teaching, medicine and law to journalism. Name one exception to the Foxite all-out war on all fact people. Make that challenge viral. 

Significant and consistent: The rise and fall of rationality in language: "The post-truth era has taken many by surprise. Here, we use massive language analysis to demonstrate that the rise of fact-free argumentation may perhaps be understood as part of a deeper change. After the year 1850, the use of sentiment-laden words in Google Books declined systematically, while the use of words associated with fact-based argumentation rose steadily. This pattern reversed in the 1980s, and this change accelerated around 2007, when across languages, the frequency of fact-related words dropped while emotion-laden language surged, a trend paralleled by a shift from collectivistic to individualistic language."

This is reflected by the way the entire Mad Right and large swathes of the far-left are obsessed with SYMBOLISM... issues that cannot be refuted by facts and have little to do with achieving palpable outcomes, but are aimed at riling up client groups. (Example: the absolute lack of any positive metrics should have refuted the "supply side" cult long ago.)

It's why every night Fox & cohorts attack the nerdy fact-centered professions, now including the US military officer corps... and why I wrote the FACT Act

While this semantic analysis is disturbing confirmation... it also points to possible tactics to reverse the trend.


TheMadLibrarian said...

(rolling over from last time) Locum, do you seriously want to say that there is no good science fiction being written these days? Or, as is more likely, you simply don't care for it (for whatever reason)? Two of the new writers who are cranking out the good stuff are Nnedi Okorafor and N.K. Jemisen, both Hugo nominees; in fact Jemisen's Broken Earth trilogy swept the Hugos in a trifecta. Give either of those a taste test and see what you think. Or tell us why you don't consider them 'new' (or just don't like them).

David Brin said...

Didn't mind locum's "Get off my lawn!" yell, this time. He's welcome to go read Christopher Anvil and Mack Reynolds. But my Out of Time novels have got the real old fashioned stuff.

TruePath said...

Do you know of any sci-fi stories where the heroic act is discretion and not demanding that the bad guys get their comeupence.

I'm terrified of what Trump might do to this country if he gets elected again and, in any just world , he'd have been convicted in the Senate and ineligible to run.

Yet, what makes me even more terrified is that so much of the left seems so determined to give Trump his comeupence they are helping year down the norms and legal assumptions that allow us to resolve our disagreements at the ballot box.

I mean the attempts to deny Trump access to the ballot based on the 14th ammendment's disqualification of those who participated in insurrection are just handing a weapon to the other side. I mean sure, Trump was trying to overturn the election but by convincing the house or states to violate their constitional obligations (lie and say the election was stolen) but he wasn't out there plotting to hold off the capital from us forces leaving any theory about his participation in insurrection (mere attempting to murder senators/pence in a pique wouldn't be enough) sufficiently vague that it will be all to easy for Repubs to give facially similarly sounding justifications for disqualifying Dems. This is the party that buys the election was stolen and thinks Hillary is all but a foreign agent. Of course they will be able to come up with some plausible sounding excuse why Biden or Harris or whoever was part of an insurrection.

Same with attempts to prosecute him for his presidential actions. No matter how bad he was such prosecutions undermine the norm against political prosecutions and that helps the forces of darkness more than it benefits the rule of law. Worse, instead of detering a future coup it incentivizes one as the outgoing crook will fear prosecution if they lose control.

But ppl find it really hard to accept that sometimes the right thing to do is to let the bad guy skate. Any chance sci-fi can help explain how sometimes the heroic thing to do is to let the bad guys walk in the interests of the greater good?

David Brin said...

TP Seriously. The mad right cult is obsessed with exaggeration anecdotes. Must you be? "so much of the left"? You are citing a trial balloon by a few.

"But ppl find it really hard to accept that sometimes the right thing to do is to let the bad guy skate."
I agree that we need to bend over backwards. But there comes a time.

It came for Nixon, over far, far less. It may be Deutsche Bank. It may be the shattering of DT's NDAs. It may (I hope) be the shattering of the blackmail ring that has kept half of GOP office holders in line.

I hope it happens soon. Because April 19 is coming. And the Nazis must be discredited before then.

Tony Fisk said...

Someone wanting decent SF?
Grist's Fix group are running their cli-fi contest again.

If you want a thing doing well, you know what to do...

Paradoctor said...

Regarding Heinlein:
I would not call the author of "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" a fascist. But on the other hand, I would not call the author of "Starship Troopers" a Jeffersonian libertarian.

gerold said...

DB: right on about Heinlein. He was my favorite author as a kid and I read all of his books. His description of US society descending into fascist tyranny was eerily prescient though not unprecedented; Sinclair Lewis wrote "It can't Happen Here" in 1935, with a proto-Trump conman-fascist populist seizing power and sparking civil war.

I am pretty optimistic however; I see the desperate measures taken by Republicans as a sign of their weakness and impending collapse. The reason they are resorting to such dishonest tactics is because they feel the icy fingers of irrelevance on their shoulders. The American people do not agree with their psychotic nostalgia for white supremacy and theocratic patriarchy. If they were to get their wish for actual civil war their asses would get kicked clear to Megiddo.

Tony Fisk said...

... my earlier comment applies to all readers, not just ogh.

Robert said...

April 19? National Garlic Day? Not seeing the significance there…

Robert said...

You wrote "April 19 is coming. And the Nazis must be discredited before then.".

A quick Google search has National Garlic Day as the top hit for April 19 2022.

If it has another significance someone needs to explain it to me…

David Brin said...

April 19-20 many, many bad right wing things have happened.

Robert said...

Many bad right-wing things happened on nearly every date, sadly.

Could you explain to a Bear of Very Little Brain?

Larry Hart said...


If it has another significance someone needs to explain it to me…

April 20 is Hitler's birthday. April 30 is the day he killed himself in the bunker. Right-wingers use that time of year as commemoration of their Fuhrer.

I believe the Columbine High School killings were on April 19 of that year. I don't remember specifically now, but the date seemed significant. And if I'm remembering that wrong, it's still significant now because of Columbine, as well as for its proximity to the other thing.

David Brin said...

April 19

And many more.

I try not to travel that day.

Treebeard said...

The USA hasn’t won the “War on Terror” (or any other War on Abstractions). It continues to bomb and kill innocent civilians around the world in the name of this war, thus perpetuating it and creating more terrorists. To win, it would have to defeat itself.

What do you call an institution whose main function is to perpetuate itself by creating more of the problems it was designed to solve? There’s probably a term for it, but I’ll invent one: a “Rousseau Trap”, after Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who defined civilization as “a hopeless race to discover remedies for the evils it produces.”

The War on Terror is a classic Rousseau Trap. NATO is another one: by expanding eastward despite the Soviet Union being gone (breaking promises made to Gorbachev), NATO created the hostility it was designed to deter. Why is NATO expanding up to the borders of Russia? To protect against Russian hostility. Why is Russia hostile? Because NATO expansionism. It is a perfect self-perpetuating grift. Same thing goes for the Military-Industrial Complex in general—constantly preparing for war anywhere on the planet, thus creating enemies that justify its ever-increasing military budgets. The ideology of Progress/Revolution is another one: it requires constant social disruption and conflict because by definition, the status quo can never be satisfactory, which guarantees perpetual resentment which it uses to justify itself. The Woke industry is a subset of this: claim to be fighting racism by increasing racial divisions and resentments in society, while pocketing a lot of money and perpetuating itself in the process. The Big Health industry is another one: treat the symptoms of health problems with drugs but never address the root causes, thus guaranteeing endless billions for Big Pharma and a population that gets less healthy but more profitable all the time. (the counter-productive Covid response of masking up, locking down, living in fear and relying on jabs being a subset of this larger dysfunction).

Eventually these Rousseau Traps become terminal though, because the problems get out of hand. To me the USA looks like a giant Rousseau Trap: a place not designed to solve any problems or bring any order, but to continue creating problems and profiting from them until the whole shitshow devours itself.

Metaphysically, one might say that Western civilization is trapped in Samsara, fighting a losing war against what Buddhism calls the “Three Marks of Existence”: dukkha—unsatisfactoriness, anicca—impermanence, and anatta—non-ego. I even thought of an epitaph for the (very exceptional) Empire of Progress—tell me what you think:

I fought the Tao, and the Tao won.

Tony Fisk said...

Gerold said I am pretty optimistic however; I see the desperate measures taken by Republicans as a sign of their weakness and impending collapse.

As Chaplin said in 1940: "The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed."
('Great Dictator' speech set to Zimmermann is pretty trippy.)

Der Oger said...

Re: Days with right-wing meaning: I'd add the 9th of November, the day of the Reich's Progrome Night.

(Don't use "Crystal". That is Nazi terminology.)

And maybe 12th of April (start of the American civil war).
Over here, thinking of this discussion, they might probably choose the 20th of July (day of Operation Valkyrie).

Re: Russia:
Today, we have entered a cultural pissing contest with Russia. Russia Today was banned in Germany, and in retaliation, Deutsche Welle was banned in Russia, and all it's journalists lost their accreditation.

reason said...

I so enjoyed this - a link provided by the blog Eschatonblog (from Duncan Black)

Could be a plot for a science fiction story.

toduro said...

Before David Brin and others chimed in with more about April 19 I had thought of Lexington and Concord 1775. Many MAGAistas these days mutter 1776 and cherry pick quotes from the Declaration of Independence so I thought that was what DB meant.

David Brin said...

One reason I gladly keep Treebeard around is how his Foxite weather vane points to the latest Kremlin generated memes. A decade ago, his cult raved hate and gung ho shrieks of violence toward the Muslim world and denounced Democrats for being 'soft on Islamic terrorism!"

Funny thing happened. Under Obama, bin Laden was thoroughly defeated and we began a LONG stretch with no sign of any effective terror attacks on US soil or interests. Oh the horror! Can't give Obama any credit! (And today the head of ISIS was slain by Joe Biden.)

So? Do a flip! Oceania has ALWAYS been at war with Eastasia! Now the US military is the root of all evil! The sub text, of course, is that now the 'deep state' of the entire US military/intel.FBI officer corps - formerly darlings of the right... and most of them lifelong republicans... can now clearly see that the GOP and Fox are wholly owned tools of enemy powers. They indicate it whevever rules of protocol allow it, but above all, they speak when that mad cult of utter traitors asserts things that are factually untrue.

"That's not true, sir." is the hated phrase that will make a MAGA swear hate on you... and hence upon 250,000 brave and dedicated men and women who won the Cold War and the War on Terror.

Monsters. You are a raving-rabid-frothing pack of bona fide monsters.

Paradoctor said...

Never mind April. They'll do their worst, and we'll do our best.

Wait, right-wingers celebrate Hitler's suicide? I grant that it was the best thing he did, but he should have done it many years earlier.

I'm worried about Fox playing in Army noncom rooms. If the military divides, then rogue Army elements might occupy the heartlands, while a unified Navy secures the coasts and the Great Lakes.

David Brin said...

Army CID really needs to infiltrate the cells of Oath (not) Keepers in the corps of noncoms. Tossing vax refusers has WAY silver linings.

And it's the birthday they celebrate, not the cowardly suicide.

Paradoctor said...

Treebeard isn't entirely wrong about "Rousseau traps". I call it the "Vested Interest Phenomenon", or VIP, which states:

Every social service organization has a vested interest in the continued existence of precisely those evils which it is pledged to combat.

Complete success would be as disastrous as complete failure; therefore the system naturally tends to evolve modes of partial failure.

The VIP is universal, so it is pointless to use it to accuse any particular system. The question isn't the existence of rot, but its extent. This can vary. Also in question is the long-term stability of the system. Does it create itself at least as fast as it corrupts itself?

Treebeard lists various Rousseau traps, the first few of which I agree are in their terminal stages. But some of the later ones he cites sound more like perennial minor nuisances. Of course doctors can't cure all your ills because they don't know how! But I'd rather be vaccinated than not, and I'd rather that my neighbors be vaccinated than not. And as for obnoxiously self-righteous idealists; in other news, the sky is blue. Every political movement needs Bad Cops as well as Good Cops.

Rot is inevitable, due to perennial stupidity, corruption, and incompetence. But growth is possible, given liberty. So I blow off doom-sayers. The world is always ending, and it's always continuing, and it's always beginning. That's the Way of the world.

Larry Hart said...


Wait, right-wingers celebrate Hitler's suicide?

No, they invoke vengeance for it. As locumranch might put it, "Turnabout is fair play."

Paradoctor said...

Should we celebrate Hitler's cowardly suicide? Perhaps with a pinata?

But he did it many years too late. I attribute his inefficiency to sentimentality and favoritism. Shame on him!

David Brin said...

paradoc, while your cynical trap is a warning that should be repeated and does represent a tendency, it is also flat out wrong as a generality. There are incentives and disincentives. Al Gore's Reinventing Government program - never once lauded by hypocrite libertarians - aggressively rooted out suplicate paperwork and offered prizes for discovery of outdated regulations to be discarded... something that the anti-guv yowlers of the hypocrite right have never, ever, ever or EVER done.

It also depends on the milieu. George Marshall ruthlessly fired officers who failed at assignments... yet gave them 2nd chances in other areas till they learned lessons and found a way to put results first. When the MISSION is more important than the organization, then you get plenty of examples of breaking Pournelle's "iron laws."

Democrats ended the Interstate Commerce Commission, and they evaporated the Civil Aeronautics Board and oversaw the breakup of AT&T. SHow me Repubs/libertarians who have done such.

locumranch said...

Locum, do you seriously want to say that there is no good science fiction being written these days? Or, as is more likely, you simply don't care for it (for whatever reason)? Two of the new writers who are cranking out the good stuff are Nnedi Okorafor and N.K. Jemisen, both Hugo nominees; in fact Jemisen's Broken Earth trilogy swept the Hugos in a trifecta.

Jemisen swept the Hugos in a trifecta??

That's some good credentials there, and that's the problem, too, as the Equality & Equity movement renders the concept of Merit both meaningless & irrelevant.

Jemisen writes sword & sorcery fantasy (not science fiction) but her real claim to fame is her identity as a black/female/gender queer author, even though she was not the first, best or only female, black (and/or) gender queer author to win multiple Hugos or gain critical acclaim in the science fiction field.

As opposed to the case of Alice Bradley Sheldon who earned multiple Hugos while hiding behind the pseudonym of James Tiptree Jr, it therefore follows that we can never know if Jemisen won her awards on the political basis of Identity or solely on the basis of Merit.

I'll paraphrase what I said before:

The conflict between Merit v Equality confuses 'honours won' with 'honours given', casts doubt on the relative merit of the so-called 'honour recipient' and gives rise to claims of undeserved credential-based authority (aka 'credentialism') which our fine host then tries to misconstrue as a 'War on Smart People'.

It's quite funny, really, that the very people who choose to elevate equality & equity over merit are the very same people who then interpret the enforced equity & equality of 'sameness' as a direct attack on the assumed 'superiority' of an identified credentialed (and/or) expert class.

And where, exactly, are these ravening Nazi hordes of which you speak? Do they talk with you? Can you read their minds? Are they in the room with you right now?

And what's so special about James Franco's birthday, anyway?



(1) According to Sun Tsu, to 'invoke vengeance' for a suicide is analogous to punishing a masochist. First, DO NO HARM. Second, DON'T HURT ANYONE. And, third, never interrupt your opponent when they go full 'tropical thunder'.

(2) 'I fought the Tao and the Tao won' is bumper-sticker brilliant. I lost my girl and I lost my fun. Guess my race is run.

David Brin said...

There are a few things that he says, this time...

Paradoctor said...

Dr. Brin:

Thank you for calling me a cynic. Like Diogenes the Cynic, I believe that dogs are better people than humans are. We don't deserve dogs, but we have them anyhow, for which I am grateful. We do deserve cats. They see us for what we are. All dogs go to Heaven, but all cats go everywhere.

As for the generality of rot, I cite Sturgeon's Law. But don't worry; 10% non-crud is good enough, and as you point out, achievable. The system does give you some slack in this regard, for complete failure is as bad as complete success, so it naturally corrects towards mediocrity. If that's good enough, then you're okay. Parkinson's Law, the Peter Principle, and the Iron Law of Bureaucracy also have adequate work-arounds.

I agree that some political factions are more rotten than others. Key is not what they believe, but how they believe it. If they consider themselves infallible, then they are doomed. If they consider themselves correctable, then they have a chance. Pride is illusion and power corrupts; but doubt is wisdom and freedom creates.

gerold said...

Just saw the Japanese _Door into Summer_. It was good, and pretty faithful to the book,but I liked Pete (the cat) better in his original guise as the one-eyed Petronius the Arbiter, an old-fashioned Heinleinesque character.

Also disappointing the credits didn't cite the Heinlein novel at all.

gerold said...

@Tony Fisk:

Yea verily yea; the carping and whining of the reactionaries is but the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress.

They try to prevent it but it just can't be done.

Larry Hart said...


to 'invoke vengeance' for a suicide is analogous to punishing a masochist.

For driving Hitler to suicide.

But you knew that.

David Brin said...

gerold nice ref to THE COURT JESTER!

Camargo said...

The left calls the right Nazis... The right calls the left commies... Both are sides of the same coin. Their battle was a fratricidal one. Two almost identical organisms fighting for the same ideological niche and leaving mountains of corpses behind. Pot and kettle it seems.

I fear both may be right.

David Brin said...

Camargo, whatever you say, Ivan. While we know that Stalin & Hitler were similar, that comparison has no bearing on the 'left' in western democratic countries.

Western liberals are THE only movement trying to effectuate flat-fair-transparent-creative competitive markets for goods and services and policies and ideas. I will take massively large wagers on that. They are only "socialist" to the extent that they want to maximize justice and access of poor children to competitive opportunities.

This "left/right are the same" baloney comes straight out of Kremlin basements.

Larry Hart said...

A few months back, I mentioned a book by Fatherland author Robert Harris titled Munich. This one is not alternate history, but just historical fiction, centered around the historic 1938 meeting between Neville Chamberlain and Adolph Hitler which lead to the "Peace in our time" speech. I thought the novel did a better job than I've seen before in capturing the zeitgeist of that time and demonstrating why Chamberlain did what he (felt he) had to to avert war, even if only temporarily. I found it instructive how the German public hailed Chamberlain as a kind of savior, because they were as worried about the coming war as the British were.

Anyway, I just saw that the book has been adapted into a Netflix movie which is quite faithful to the novel. Consider this a recommendation, at least to those who like that sort of thing.

Larry Hart said...


The left [accurately] calls the right Nazis... The right [stupidly] calls the left commies...

I fixed your American spelling. You're welcome.

Camargo said...

Mr. Brin, you surely see shades of totalitarianism in things like the cancel culture? The mob thirst for the utterly destruction of anyone who doesn't think like the hive mind. The annihilation of those who resist the grand plan? Cultural revolution as cyber persecution. Sleeping Giants thirsting for blood. As Stalin would do, deleting people from pictures to erase them from reality. And if innocents get caught in the maelstrom of madness and lose their jobs, families, lives... Oh well, that's the price we must pay for Utopia.

locumranch said...

What makes a 'smart person' smart?

Is 'smartness' and competence (1) conferred by an overabundance of testimonials, awards, certifications or diplomas from some non-transparent credentialing agency (aka 'Credentialism'), or is it (2) conferred by a reproducible pattern of deliberate successes, wise actions & intelligent decisions (aka 'Merit') ?

In the Enlightened West, the credential-based (1) definition of 'smartness' and competence currently dominates:

The West is increasingly ruled by over-credentialed fools & nincompoops who possess all the right awards, diplomas & certifications but have a spectacular history of repeated failure.

As in the case of Macron & Merkel, we leave our children's future in the hands of childless leaders. We allow progressives to turn our cities into sanctuaries for crime, totalitarianism, nullification, drug abuse & public defecation.

In the case of General Miley and NATO-in-Ukraine, we allow our military to be led by untested & festooned buffoons who have never won either a war or triumphed in even the most limited regional conflict.

As in the case of Pete Buttgieg, who went to all-the-right schools but has ZERO transportation experience, having been crowned 'Transportation Minister' while being barely qualified to ride a bicycle, let alone make complex transportation decisions.

To believe in this so-called 'War on Smart People', you would have to accept that 'smartness' and competence is a matter of Credentialism (as above).

Fortunately, I believe in a merit-based (2) definition of smartness and competence which only ascribes 'smartness' to a person's last success, wise decision or intelligent action, insomuch as I prefer to wage WAR on over-credentialed fools & failures (above) instead of on the meritorious and competent.

I also would prefer to return decision-making authority (aka 'the ability to rule') to those people who actually do and produce things, instead of to a designated 'expert class', if I only could.

Unfortunately, I appear to be alone here in this regard.


Treebeard said...

It’s interesting that you say you keep me around for Fox news memes, since I don’t watch Fox news or any other major media. Are they talking about Rousseau and Buddhism on Fox these days? I rather doubt it. I try to give a perspective outside the brain-rotting Blue Team vs. Red Team paradigm; outside the toxic, Manichaean mass hallucinations that American media generates for a living, and which apparently have a powerful grip on your mind. Add that to the list of America’s Rousseau Traps—a mass media that profits from hysteria, propaganda, polarization and fake news, and would be out of business tomorrow if they only reported the cold, sober truth. And while I’m at it, this “gain of function” medical research sounds like a particularly mad Rousseau Trap: let’s try to reduce the impact of future epidemics by genetically engineering more virulent viruses. What could possibly go wrong? LOL.

David Brin said...

Camargo. Clutching 'they're all the same' is a sign of truly obsessive and desperate illness. Please read and ponder this carefully.

Yes, the FAR left CONTAINS fact-allergic, troglodyte-screeching dogmatists who wage war on science and hate the American tradition of steady, pragmatic reform, and who would impose their prescribed morality on you.

But today’s mad ENTIRE right CONSISTS of fact-allergic, troglodyte-screeching dogmatists who wage war on science and hate the American tradition of steady, pragmatic reform, and who would impose their prescribed morality on you.

There is all the world’s difference between FAR and ENTIRE. As there is between CONTAINS and CONSISTS.

Indeed, the way the US left has betrayed the left+center coalition in 80, 88, 94, 2000, 2010 and 2016, allowing a rump minority of disciplined and crazy confederates to keep retaining power shows how sanctimony junkies on the far left are almost as dedicated to pissing on allies as they are to making social progress.

YOUR inability to tell the difference between a large but fractious majority coalition and a mad but utterly disciplined traitorious right is rather pathetic, sir.

Treebeard I don't care whether you suckle from the main oligarchy teats or from the faux intellectual glands that try to parse their hypnotized dummies with more polysyllabic incantations. It remains the same thing. "ALL THE SMART PEOPLE WHO KNOW STUFF SUCK!"

That is your common masturbation. An absolute need to believe that the millions and millions who have studied deeply, argued ferociously, experimented, eagerly found mistakes and revised models in the most courageously competitive processes the world ever knew... that they are all obsessive, zero-sum, meme-suckling lemmings, just like you.

You cannot squint and imagine WHY they are so much smarter and better than you. Not because they are a conspiratorial 'elite.' But because they are the diverse, meritocratic, constantly competiting and improving -- and often wise -- folks who understand positive sum and use it to make a better world. A world that ingrates like you utterly rely upon while screeching at those who gave it to you.

David Brin said...

locum's "Let me howl everything that's opposite!" howl is just toilet foam.

David Brin said...

It is argued that Chamberlain saved the west by delaying Hitler while UK re-armed. That's absurd. Letting him hurl against the Czech Sudeten defenses would have been salultary.

Larry Hart said...


Mr. Brin, you surely see shades of totalitarianism in things like the cancel culture? The mob thirst for the utterly destruction of anyone who doesn't think like the hive mind. The annihilation of those who resist the grand plan?

Assuming you're not a Russian bot, then surely you see that the right wing are the ones doing everything you just mentioned.

Cancel culture? Colin Kaepernick. The Dixie Chicks. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger being censured by their own party.

Destruction of anyone who doesn't think like the hive mind? The litany of those Republicans who were once "great people" until they dared to disagree with Trump on anything, and so became "RINOs". Even Brett Kavanaugh and Lindsey Graham made that list.

The annihilations of those who resist the grand plan? The removal of election officials who dared not to go along with Trump's cheating. Routine death threats to people who count votes. State legislatures giving themselves the power to overturn elections.

Treebeard said...

No dude, I'm just not convinced that these credentialed Smart People you like to lionize are "so much smarter and better than me" because they say they are, and their many failures as a class (some of which locum and I mention, which you simply blow off or bring up Kremlin basements) don't help your case. Anyway, I have my own credentials, education, IQ and all that, but don't make a big deal about it. I spent a good chunk of my life around the Smart People, and let's just say I'm not that impressed. Stupid is as stupid does, and I and a lot of other people see a lot of stupid coming from people who think they're the smartest people in the history of the universe, even if you don't. I think you're at the point of believing your own propaganda and are blinded by your own arrogance, but don't expect you to ever see it or admit it. It's another Rousseau Trap, I suppose: arrogant experts insisting they have the solutions to everything, and when they fail and are called out on it, just double-down on the arrogance and call people names, convinced that the resentment confirms their own superiority. The one thing that might break this cycle—humility—is the one thing this class appears to be constitutionally unable or unwilling to evince.

David Brin said...

Blah blah de blah blah. I challenge him to justify his BLANKET dissing of ALL the people who invent and discover with actual cash in ways that can be tested by Taking a random jury of fellow citizens to a nearby research university and knocking on random doors for a day. All he can respond with is more masturbation to incantations about 'credentialism,' when in fact credentials mean less than ever.

One thing can break this cycle, fool and it is not the humilty you do not exhibit. It is competitive accountability, which these 'elites' apply to each other as their number one shared trait and which I have dared you to participate in, over and over. Your 'credentialism!" yowls attempt to take high ground by claiming these folks - fifty MILLION of them on the planet - evade competition, when that is their principal shared trait! If they ever see the actions you assert them doing, they denounce it.

YOU and your cult are the enemies of competition.

Larry Hart said...


I think you're at the point of believing your own propaganda and are blinded by your own arrogance,

Glue, meet rubber.

Camargo said...

@Larry Hart: But which side has the almost whole media supporting and lionizing them? And imagine what would happen to a Democrat supporting Trump. Same scenario or far, far worse?

@Treebeard: Yeah, I respect Science and Tech but I've seen enough arrogance, dogmatism, fraud, lying, self-lying, hubris, persecution and academicism to see that the "smart people" can be as bad or much worse than the "basket of deplorables".

They may do good work, even great, but to say they are better? Nope. Some of the worse people I have met hail from academy and their Ivory Towers.

And the Tech people? Good lord... Zuckerberg, Bezos, Google? Borderline monsters and your average coder is a hit or miss...

I say that from a background of Math and CS.

Der Oger said...

It is argued that Chamberlain saved the west by delaying Hitler while UK re-armed. That's absurd. Letting him hurl against the Czech Sudeten defenses would have been salultary.

I agree. All it did was to embolden him. In addition, the years of rearmament and unemployment/work projects left Hitler with a quite empty war chest, so if he had started WWII then, he would have dire fiscal difficulties afterwards. Also, the Wehrmacht was not as prepared as they were in '39. It might not even have become a WW, and those officers plotting Operation Valkyrie could have attempted an assassination and coup earlier.(They mostly postponed that because of the early successes against France.)

I personally would apply the same thinking to Ukraine, though with two caveats:
1) Russia is allied with China, and even a multiple alliance including them and Iran and Pakistan is possible. Both have increased their political influence in Africa, too.
2) Hitler had no nuclear, drone or cyber weapon systems.

David Brin said...

Looks like we have another Treebeard. Carmago ignores all challenges to distinguish between anecdotes and statistics. Anecdotes of lapses in science do not prove science to be corrupt. They prove the opposite, since every case he could cite comes from competitive accountability apply BY rival scientists, leaping upon lapses, exactly as they are supposed to do.

Watch, he will ignore what I just said and give us another jack-off generalization based upon a very small number of anecdotes. Like Treebeard, he will refuse or ignore wager demands based upon proof that is overwhelmingly statistical that nearly ALL of today's mad right is anti-competitive, screeching "don't look!" re accountability, and cheats.

Dems refused ZERO subpoenas in the Benghazi hearings era, endured thousands of hours of eye-rolling hectoring that resulted in reports (issued quietly, late at night) that the investigators found "nothing." In contrast, ALL GOP railings amount to "Don't look!"

There are ZERO ways that today's right stands up for flat-fair-creative competition. It is entirely and 100% about destroying Adam Smith. That's not about anecdotes, but an open dare to find exceptions.

In contrast, Carmago's conplaints... even when true about some science lapses or woke -police excesses... are still just anecdotes from a flakey radical WING of the only sane movement fighting to save the enlightenment experiment.

Again. None of your incantations stands up to the pure fact that you are enemies of falet-fair-transparent competition.

Treebeard said...

The response to the “Freedom Convoy” in Canada is a good example of how stupid and out of touch with reality a large fraction of our credentialed elites have become, and how mendacious their media. This article is a hilarious satire of the whole absurd spectacle:

Attack of the Transphobic Putin-Nazi Truckers!

A protest against vaccine mandates by truckers is something else entirely, according to these not-so Smart People. A swastika drawn to suggest that the mandates are fascistic becomes evidence of Nazi involvement. Racism is suspected, since it turns out that Canadian truckers are scandalously mostly white. Various forms of bad behavior are reported, though livestreams of the actual protests never seem to show any of it. There’s “concern about Russian actors being involved”, despite zero evidence for such. Transphobia is also implicated, though how exactly is not clear.

It reminds me of the kind of delusions and deliberate lying that gave us Saddam’s WMD’s, the Iraq War, the Russiagate hoax, Covid hysteria, and our host’s continued paranoid delusions that everything he doesn’t like is being orchestrated from Kremlin basements. The additional layer of wokeness just adds to the crazy. At what point do rational people here start to see that they’re being played, or are simply deluded, on this and other stories that we’re told are true by people with a pattern of lying and getting things wrong? If you’re as smart as you say you are, how can you believe so much obvious nonsense?

David Brin said...

Feh. Again shrieks and pointing at anecdotes. The dopes of the FAR left that you point at, Treebeard, are just exaggerating dopes at the fringes. While YOU and your fellow raving-frothing rabid loonies are the heart and soul and vast majority of the risen confederacy.

That you are unable to parse that BLATANT fact is not the fault of a zero-sum mind. Like a color blind person, unable to perceive green.

But your utter cowardice over wagers IS your fault. Howling "People who claim to see 'green' are eeeeevil!" is insanity. Refusing tests of whether green can be parsed by instruments and simple percept tests... that's just no-balls yammering.

Larry Hart said...


But which side has the almost whole media supporting and lionizing them?

The fascists, obviously.

FOX. OAN. Newsmax. You know, the stations which play non-stop on public "telescreens" such as those in McDonalds. And right-wing radio which gets play on any US military base.

Oh, of course you imagine that is all offset by MSNBC, which brings us Joe Scarborough and CNN which introduced us to Glenn Beck.

And imagine what would happen to a Democrat supporting Trump. Same scenario or far, far worse?

You mean the way Joe Manschin and Krystin Sinema have been drummed out of the Democratic caucus (except that they haven't)? You're essentially equating the violence and death threats from one side with "saying bad things on Twitter" from the other and declaring the latter to be much worse.

And even your hypothetical is not a fair comparison. "A Democrat supporting Trump" would be a Democrat in favor of making sure the Democrats never win another election. It's as if you are saying that a 1940s Jew supporting Hitler is treated worse than a 1940s German would be for supporting Jews. Only to the extent that "Rightly despised by his own people" is worse than "Beaten up, tortured, and hanged."

Larry Hart said...

And the Tech people? Good lord... Zuckerberg, Bezos, Google? Borderline monsters and your average coder is a hit or miss...

I say that from a background of Math and CS.


And I'm actually with you on Zuckerberg. But there's a big difference between "people who know how stuff works" and "People who own and direct large tech companies."

David Brin said...

Zuckerberg long ago left the category of technological/scientific innovators. As a zillionaire (and a bully) he falls for all the mental trips of oligarchy. His fault is to be a greedy male cheater... just like all the ones Treebeard kowtows before.

scidata said...

The two amigos have guzzled the deep learning snake oil (Kruger-Dunning brand) and are gleefully marching to a shiny AI future together.

locumranch said...


I know not from where such an allegation comes. I certainly do not support such a statement; and I seriously doubt Treebeard supports such a statement.

Like Dr. Brin, I'm a big fan of 'smart-making' and intelligence.

I value Merit, Intelligence and Smartness over Identity; I reject Credentialism, defined as 'Identity masquerading as Merit', as in the assertion 'I am matriculated and therefore smart'; and I am unequivocal in this regard.

What I object to is any attempt to redefine 'smartness' and intelligence in terms of a discrete Identity, as in the case of attributing unquestionable intelligence to a discrete 'expert' class, especially when such a class is subject to the artifice of affirmative action, equality, equity and political chicanery.

My most favorite people are SMART PEOPLE!

What I object to are the FECKLESS who argue that smartness & intelligence (and all the respect associated with smartness & intelligence) can be conferred upon someone (willy-nilly; as if by magic) on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, membership, identity and skin colour.


The 'state of being an expert' may be what you call a 'Rousseau Trap' in & of itself, as the term 'expert' has been previously defined as 'one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing'.

One could argue, then, that the most knowledgeable 'expert' is unwise by definition, as it is well-known adage that wisdom begins with an admission of ignorance.

As in mathematics & linguistics, human identity functions appear to be recursive, the expert ego being contingent on 'knowing everything about nothing but nothing about everything', their presumption of expertise being a literal 'conception', resulting in an endless circular argument, like Ouroboros eating its own tail.


Regardless of credentials, I much prefer Brin's science fiction to Jemisen's identity fiction, as even the best-executed fantasy relates the impossible, whereas science fiction merely relates the improbable, and that distinction makes all the difference.

Though improbable, tales like 'Pak's Preschool' imply that our fine-but-dogmatic host possesses yet-unplumbed philosophical depths, presaging great works, assuming an additional commitment to the human condition.


David Brin said...

Statistically, locum's attempt at a reasonable distinction is simply a lie. His entire movement is about discrediting smart people who are the only obstacle to his masters in the oligarchy taking power.

Again, what fraction of the 'credentialed' scientists at the nearest major research university are the lemming hacks you portray them as? MONEY NOW in wager stakes over whether an openminded, not very partisan expedition of say 6 neighbors who choose RANDOM ROOMS in the research wings of such a university will come away calling the men and women they meet 'credentialed' lemmings and hacks... or anything other than the smartest, most broadly mentally agile and mentally able and interesting people they ever met.

That is a testable assertion. If I am right, then our monarchist dopes here (now three?) should be eager for it to be true!!

Or, if they were remotely honest in believing their incantations, they shpuld be eager to bet.

But the possibility is terrifying to them. Their masturbatory incantations would evaporate in smoke.

David Brin said...

Oh, and competitive. The word these mad lackeys of oligarchy claim to love, and actively work to destroy, every single day.

gerold said...

Way back in 2013 Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal warned that if the GOP didn't change course it risked becoming the "Stupid Party." Needless to say, they didn't and they have. Republicans view universities as their enemy and for good reason. Many a young adult have entered college as brainwashed ignoramuses steeped in religion and various forms of blithering bigotry and emerged with an opened mind. This is a mortal threat to conservatism, at least as currently constituted. The Stupid Party relies on ignorance as much as hatred and fear.

The notion peddled here by our right wingers that some incompetent credentialed class is lording it over heartland salt-of-the-earthers is a bit puzzling to me. Who are these credentialed cretins?

I worked my entire career in engineering and did a lot of interviewing and hiring over the years. We would get resumes listing education and experience, and then had to bring in the most promising candidates for interviews. I have worked with a few engineers/software developers who didn't go through the usual educational process, and they were valid contributors. But there was generally a clear correlation between quality of school and quality of engineer. Graduates of MIT and Berkeley were generally smarter, more creative and harder working than graduates of SDSU and Portland St. In engineering and the sciences there's no place to hide if your work is substandard. There is a reason MIT diplomas are worth more than their weight in gold. It's a credential of true merit because people earn them with the sweat of their brow and the keenness of their wits.

Meanwhile Republicans and their state media shovel bullshit down the throats of their cult members and they lap it up. Stupid.

duncan cairncross said...

Dr Brin

In science you are almost certainly correct

In Industry however there are a LOT of the "pointy haired bosses" !

The sad fact is that you get promoted by working towards promotion - working to get the actual job done is not nearly as effective to get promoted

By the time you get to the senior levels you will find people who are expert at promoting themselves and avoiding wasting time by doing their jobs

Science - and to a lesser extent engineering - limit this effect as the real world tends to bite back

Larry Hart said...

Holy crap! The Republicans are finally starting to push back against the notion that Mike Pence as VP had the power to overturn the election. Especially as it sinks in who the VP will be in January 2025. Just as the supreme court will likely overturn the Texas vigilante anti-abortion law which would give blue states a precedent for allowing private lawsuits against gun owners, anti-vaxxers, and members of right-wing militia groups.

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday sharply rebuked former President Trump for suggesting he had the ability to overturn the results of the 2020 election, calling the idea "un-American."

"There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election,'" Pence said at a Federalist Society event in Florida.
"Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election. And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024," Pence said to applause.

DP said...

With each anti-vaxxer death from Covid-19 the potential ranks of a new civil war rebellion get thinner.

With each anti-vaxxer expelled from the military (despite getting dozens of vaccinations while in the uniform), the chances for a coup diminish.

From a purely cold blooded strategic/political analysis I can't imagine anything more stupid than the Right's opposition to the Covid-19 vaccine.

This is the ultimate case of shooting themselves in the foot.

DP said...

As for a potential Civil War it won't be Gettysburg 2.0.

Can you possibly see Atlanta, New Orleans or Austin seceding with Georgia, Louisiana and Texas?

It will be more like Ulster during The Troubles, with hundreds of Timothy McVie wannabees and hundreds of Oklahoma City attacks.

DP said...

A bigger destabilizer will be the return of inflation, but not for reasons you think. It's a side effect of the world's economy going through a massive restructuring.

Grab a cup of coffee and watch this 13 minute video by Peter Zeihan explaining where inflation is coming from and where it will be coming going for the next 30 years.

The low inflation period we have experienced for the last 30 years is an aberration.

The inflation we are seeing now is the historic norm.

That period is ending for several reasons:

1. Demographics of declining birth rates and aging/declining populations creating labor shortages and subsequent wage spikes (plus 3 million Boomers retired early during Covid - creating a whole in the labor market that will take a decade to fill). For the first time in 30 years American workers hold all the cards, not American employers. And American workers no longer fear seeing their factory shipped to Indonesia because.......

2. Breaking down of global supply chains (not just supply snags caused by production lagging demand from Biden's booming economy) as globalization ends and China decouples from the world market (again caused by the demographics of a collapsing and rapidly aging Chinese population with an inherently corrupt and inefficient Enron-style economy).

3. Real estate, driven by a mass migration of Boomer retirees looking for places to live where they don't have to shovel snow, millennials entering the work force and looking for that white picket fence suburban home, and Covid-19 because nobody wants to use mass transit any more (sorry Chicago, Bay Area and Northeast Corridor). But not every city can physically expand (Houston can , San Francisco cannot - hence higher real estate prices in the Bay Area and the mass migration of Californians to Texas which is driven by the cheap cost of land in Texas not its small government ideology). Half of North America's urban centers are losing population (the ones up North with geographical constraints to growth) and the other half are gaining (the ones down South and in the interior built on flat lands.

4. Increases in real cost of energy and fossil fuel EROEI (energy return over energy invested) declining. Decarbonization will make energy costs worse since not every place can economically use renewables. 80% of the Earth's surface can't use solar or wind economically. This results in a major mismatch between population centers and sources of renewable energy - so renewables won't save us economically. Renewables will make energy costs go even higher as we decarbonize.

5. Boomer capital is no longer available for investment, as they retire enmass and start drawing down their 401Ks - hence higher real cost of money (interest rates).

6. The least important inflationary driver is monetary policy caused by the deficit spending needed to pay for America's war machine and meet our obligations to retiring Boomers in the form of social security checks and Medicare payments (or bonus checks to people during Covid-10 so they didn't get kicked out on to the street) . Deficit spending in itself does not cause inflation. If it did, Japanese inflation would be through the roof.

Welcome to the new normal.

Robert said...

I usually just ignore Treebeard, but in this case he wrote about something close to home.

Racism is suspected, since it turns out that Canadian truckers are scandalously mostly white.

Oddly enough, the large numbers of non-white truckers in Ontario (who could more easily attend these protests) are conspicuous by their absence.

Racism was demonstrated by the behaviour of the protesters — not surprising given the number of white supremacist organizations who joined it. I've got friends in Ottawa who've seen the protests first-hand, so I'm not just relying on media reports (or social media).

Also of interest: the protest got a lot of advance publicity on Fox, as well as other American right-wing media, which claimed it would be huge (it was less than 1% of the size Fox claimed it would be). The amount and speed at which money was raised was incredibly fast — and the average individual donation was 100 times the usual donation. The main organizers aren't truckers but right-wing fringe activists, who have in the past worked for oil and gas interests*.

*The current Canadian government is serious about climate change and is ending fossil fuel subsidies. Interesting how one of the demands of the protesters is the deposal of the elected government and its replacement with a citizens committee chosen by themselves.

David Brin said...

Our only other experience with hyper inflation was in the aftermath of the wretched Vietnam War and oil shocks.I am unconvinced that we see such major fuel under this flame.

scidata said...

Re: Canadian truckers

Their GoFundMe page mysteriously received $10 million just after going live. GoFundMe was unable to verify the funding sources, and the violence and lawlessness breached their usage agreement. So, they shut down the page and donated the money to charity. The 'protest' organizers are now facing a $9.8 million class action suit, probably the first of many. Evidently the old woman in the elevator was right.

Larry Hart said...


What I object to are the FECKLESS who argue that smartness & intelligence (and all the respect associated with smartness & intelligence) can be conferred upon someone (willy-nilly; as if by magic) on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, membership, identity and skin colour.

Unless the gender is male and the orientation is hetero and the skin colo[u]r is white?

You seem to assume that President Biden's choice of supreme court nominee is something like, "I want to choose a black woman, so even though there aren't any intelligent, qualified black female candidates, I will pretend that one of them is."

Whereas the reality is more like, "Of all of the eminently qualified, intelligent candidates, I'd like to nominate one who is also a black woman."

But what right do I have to oppress you with facts, right?

locumranch said...

The ADL changes its definition of racism & disagrees with the Robert's hate-based racial narrative:

"As of Friday, the group's new and "interim" definition states that racism "occurs when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or group based on race or ethnicity."

Under this new & improved definition, (1) the use of anti-white racial slurs will no longer be tolerated, (2) previously designated 'anti-racist' and/or 'progressive' social policies (aka 'Affirmative Action') now constitute de facto Racism, and (3) racist terms like "White Supremacy", "White Privilege", "Cracker" and "Nazi" now constitute Hate Speech if & when such terminology is used to demean or marginalize any individual or group based on race or ethnicity.

Soon, very soon, one can only hope that notorious haters like Matthew, Larry & Robert will either see the error-of-their-privileged-racist-ways or suffer devastating moral correction at the hands of (mostly) peaceful protesters.

Crow: It's what's for dinner.


***Let's put an end to the Kremlin Bashing, too, because it's racist to demean or marginalize an individual or group based on their (Russian) ethnicity***

Treebeard said...

@scidata Yeah I’m sure there’s nothing political going on there at GoFundMe; no pattern of blue urban tech company double standards when it comes to this sort of thing. As for your old lady in the elevator, I’m curious how protesting authoritarian vaccine mandates makes one a Nazi, and how you, as someone who I assume considers himself a Smart Person, can find that believable? I mean, now that the civilized world is starting to wake up from its Covid fever dream and removing all restrictions, isn’t it time that Canada joined them? Or have those other countries been overrun by anti-vax Nazis?

It seems like we are in some kind of society-wide “reality war” now, which is something I’ve never seen. People are not seeing the same reality any more, and are interpreting events radically differently based on ideology, class or tribe. I think it’s much worse in the online world though; I don’t get the sense that out the real world things are nearly as polarized. The online world is like a honey trap for highly ideological people who live mostly in their heads (I’m guilty of this too, despite my best efforts—particularly in these cold, gray winters). But I try to remember the worlds of a guy named Michael Malice, a self-described anarchist, who has a saying I like:

“I don't want to change your mind or argue with you, but I don't want to share a country with you either.”

Let people living in different realities separate into different polities. Like CHAZ in my birth city (which GoFundMe had no problem with), let people separate into more harmonious autonomous zones. There’s no need for, and unlikely to be, any civil war. We’re not in a point in the timeline where soft, well-fed 21st century first-worlders are gonna fight each other like that—it’s a LARPer fantasy, imo. Much more likely is what happens when empires like Rome faded—a slow disintegration, increasingly aggressive assertions of sovereignty on the margins, a collapse of confidence in the imperial elites, more lost imperial wars, and the emergence of smaller political entities with more coherent collective realities. It might take a long time, but it’s better than some stupid and suicidal war. Historically, it’s how intractable problems like our current reality wars are often solved. Doubling-down on the imperial hubris and authoritarianism to enforce a particular version of reality just stops working at some point. We may have passed that point already.

David Brin said...

"You seem to assume that President Biden's choice of supreme court nominee is something like, "I want to choose a black woman, so even though there aren't any intelligent, qualified black female candidates, I will pretend that one of them is.""

After THREE deeply inferior justices appointed by Trump because they are controllable (presumably blackmailed) and devoted members of an aristocracy... and the vastly more-so Thomas... any gopper bitching about pre-vetting by type is such a hypocrite.

ent: "t seems like we are in some kind of society-wide “reality war” now, which is something I’ve never seen. People are not seeing the same reality any more, and are interpreting events radically differently based on ideology, class or tribe."

Jeepers it's good you are looking in a mirror, at last. A problem though... I know you are all that, but what am I? One side contains nearly ALL of the Americans who have been trained to say the sacred catechism of science: "I might be wrong." And those who competitive and joyfully use objective reality and experiments and evidence to correct each others' errors.

YOURS is the cult that revolves around magic, hypnotized incantations.



David Brin said...


scidata said...

Treebeard: I’m curious how protesting authoritarian vaccine mandates makes one a Nazi

Of course it doesn't. In Ottawa, it was the closing down of honest, hard-working mom&pop businesses, desecrating the Terry Fox and Unknown Soldier memorials, and stealing food from the homeless that earned them the label.

It'll be tough to label me as an elite 'Smart Person'. I'm uncredentialed, with a rural fundamentalist religious upbringing, and a hankering for southern biscuits. I partake in CB because it's the closest I'll ever get to chatting with Isaac Asimov, my boyhood hero. In point of fact, I share your live-and-let-live philosophy, I just don't like bullies and grifters drawing the borders.

And 'Authoritarian' is a word we shout at particularly bad hockey referees :)