Friday, December 02, 2022

General science updates plus amazing tech... starting with a wonder!

First, for some Big Picture think? Want another wise-guy interview?  For the Closer to Truth TV series, Robert Kuhn interviews me on the topic: “Does ESP Reveal the Nonphysical?

Okay this is just wonderful. Saturn's moon Titan is one of my favoritetourist haunts! "...one of the jewels of the solar system. Its greenish-blue hues are reminiscent of Earth, and it's the only other place in our part of the cosmos that we know to have roiling seas and wondrous clouds. But Titan is kind of strange; an alternate reality Earth. Its clouds and seas, rivers and lakes aren't composed of water. They're made of methane and ethane." The Cassini-Huygens probes showed us the marvels of (likely) lakes under the obscuring clouds. Only now...

...the Webb Telescope's infrared abilities can look through those clouds at the gorgeous surface!

== Amazing tech! And assertive ways to save the planet ==


GammaPix is a smartphone application available for both Android and iPhone operating systems that uses the smartphone camera sensor to detect and measure ionizing radiation fields. The software analyzes digital images produced by a smartphone camera to determine the local gamma-ray radiation environment. It compares a dark image (i.e., with the camera covered) to one with bright pixels caused by photons from a radiation source, which pass through a covered camera lens.


The U.S. government has directed the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop a plan to study solar geo-engineering, a controversial approach to combatting the effects of climate change by using stratospheric aerosol injection of short-lived reflective material, such as sulfur dioxide, into the stratosphere over the fast-melting poles. 

In the same month, Greta Thunberg came out favoring transitional nuclear power

Thirdly, studies of the effects of vast clouds of soot from last year's Australian fire on the seas have shown decisively that ocean fertilization can positively affect fast currents to increase fisheries and whale habitats.


At last we can ask the fringe-puritans to either make their crits useful and practical or else get out of the way, letting humanity's problem solvers find out which of many multi-prong approaches - pragmatically - can help assist the main effort


A main effort which of course must remain a strenuous emergency push aimed at reducing carbon pollution and other filthy habits.


=== Diving into biology ==


Some likely neurological and brain differences between humans and Neanderthals now pretty much verified. 


About 30 Neanderthal genomes have been sequenced. The lack of mitochondrial DNA (inherited from mother to child) from Neanderthals present in living humans might be evidence that only male Neanderthals and female Homo sapiens could – or did - successfully mate. I had not known the mitochondria results, which do imply an interesting past bias in gene flow. Still, alas, the author's hypothesis - Sex, not violence, may have sealed the fate of the Neanderthals - displays a profound lack of understanding of males or male behavior in nature. A more likely - if related - possibility is that those wandering males brought STDs back to their tribe. 


I hope the next two effects can be separated ... A genetic mutation that raises I.Q. ... and causes blindness.  Reminiscent of Disch’s novel Camp Concentration or Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky.


A young engineer has created a rotary dial LTE cell phone. Want one! 


"Many animals signal to each other vocally or by banging on things, but new

research in a Ugandan rainforest shows that each chimpanzee pounds on tree

roots with its own individual signature drum beat to send messages more than

1km away. Combined with their hooting and hollering, signature rhythms allow them to send information over long distances, revealing who is where, and what they are

doing." 


Okay so where have you seen that depicted before? 


Strong muscles, healthy brainEven moderate exercise can increase metabolism in brain regions important for learning and memory in older adults. And the brain itself has been found to respond to exercise in strikingly physical ways. Studies have shown that even in people with existing brain disease or damage, increased physical activity and motor skills are associated with better cognitive function. 



== Don't get too cocky ==


Yes there are many reasons for pride in our scientific advances that should fill us with the tools and the confidence tp solve the world's many problems. And yet there are also reminders of how deep those problems go...


As the United States' south-west faces the worst drought in more than a millennium... Tucson seeks new ways to reclaim water from the desert.


And in San Diego, toilet-to-tap recovery is progressing fast, as urgency make the previously-unacceptable suddenly normal. Like Greta Thunberg extolling carefully responsible nuclear power. And liberals now willing to invest research funds into cautious Geo-engineering - a flexibility in the face of new evidence that (alas) is entirely lacking on the other side.


One shift I'd like. Build that tunnel, long mentioned in Sci Fi, from the Sea of Cortez to California's Salton Sea, that would both draw downhill electricity while re-filling that sea so that it won't become a disaster of poison dust. And dwindling Colorado River fresh water can go where it's needed.



And finally...


An interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson about three types of 'truth' and how we must not let incantations or ideologies trump objective reality. Best of all, he talks about how to argue with all but the worst fanatics. Start by finding some shared common ground, then examine the gaps for some that can be crossed...


...till we are back to a place where we can take our further arguments to a pub, for beers. Share with your borderline MAGAs.


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Greg Bear and Octavia and more departed explorers. Don't 'rest,' explore! ...plus more on science fiction

What I miss about my friend and colleague Greg Bear…

That hearty-wise and dauntless laugh... I hear it now... and I will hear it always.  Greg was the best of us... certainly the best of the ‘Killer Bees! The real article, as a human, as a good man, as a leader in our broad SF guild of explorers-of-the-plausible. His 50+ novels spanned the spectrum of speculative literature, from highly plausible (and sometimes scary) extrapolations of near-future technologies to glimpses farther ahead, at human destinies that struck the reader with astonishment and awe.  He had that rare knack of cornering scientific and other experts, squeezing out of them their hopes and suspicions about tomorrow, then setting them on pages that glowed with passion, worry and fun.


(Image #1: Greg Bear, David Brin, Gregory Benford, Vernor Vinge around 2018: the 'Killer Bs.")



And yes, the most admirable trait of all – a good life partner to the wonderful and kind daughter of Poul and Karen and father to their grandchildren. And our dear friend. Cheryl and I extend blessings and love to Astrid & their clan... and to all who loved Greg and his immortal works.

 





Oh, a couple of addenda: One Turing test for the arrival of AI will be if the charming, brilliant Greg Bear emulators convey some of his sharp wit… and that hearty laugh I already miss so much.


The obit in Greg's original home town newspaper, the San Diego Union.

 

I won't say RIP.  


Judging from Psychlone and other great tales, Greg would take ANY kind of afterlife as a challenge and a dare to explore. To poke at the rules. He doubted it. I doubt it. But if so, go get em tiger. Drive em crazy with questions!

 

(Image #4 below: dinner honoring Greg at Loscon (LA) November 26, 2020: David Gerrold, Cindy Hernandez, Dan Brin, Tom Abrams, Naomi Fisher, Gerald David Nordley, Steve Barnes Gregory Benford, Ariana Brin, Cheryl Brin, David Brin, Larry Niven. Michelle Pincus isphotgrapher.)




== Octavia... and more... ==


And speaking of another terribly missed friend and colleague.


The Visions of Octavia Butler: A New York Times front page essay pays tribute to my sorely-missed friend and colleague, the great science fiction author Octavia Butler. Alas, it proclaims her great success was accurate prophecy. No, that under-rates her. Octavia's greatest contribution was vividly was helping us to prevent. 


A site that offers quotations by your favorite authors. I'll start you with someone familiar.

 

10 great science fiction books for people who don't like science fiction. A lovely list.


Oh, in case you didn't know... I wrote the final book in his famous Robots and Foundation series – Foundation's Triumph, following upon equally good novels by Greg Bear and Gregory Benford. Together: the Second Foundation Trilogy


I think Greg's Foundation and Chaos best captured Isaac's voice.


Bon Voyage, pal.



 

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Is Space for Everyone?

Happy Thanksgiving to fellow USAns. And for all of you around the globe, may autumn and winter bring gifts of hope and resilience and joy - and fresh horizons of adventure - for us all.


Here in this posting are just a few high-horizon bits to help you digest that overstuffed meal.


Are you concerned that the rich might wind up owning outer space? Here I read from a chapter of Existence that makes it pretty vivid! (And it was >ten years ago.)


I'll be posting soon about the new white paper issued by the White House re: colonizing the Moon. I understand their reasons. Consider me the Loyal Opposition on this particular matter, as I explained here... and I will post more about it soon.



== Out where we really should be active! ==


DART hit on target! See the way-cool flash as seen from ATLAS! And this zoom in closeup from DART itself. Amazing they used the same 'transmit video until smash' approach that I remember from summer 1964's Ranger probes to impact the moon. Took 7 tries to get it right.

And a month later? The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) slammed a spacecraft into one asteroid to see if it could change its orbit around another asteroid. It did. After impact, the orbit of Dimorphos around Didymos was shortened to 11 hours, 23 minutes: a 32-minute change.  

Speaking of hits… The largest space rock to strike Mars since spaceflight began ‘rocked’ the Insight Lander’s seismometer 2500 miles away… and also revealed boulder-size ice chunks when it slammed into Mars. They were found buried closer to the warm Martian equator than any ice that has ever been detected on the planet. “Since landing on 2018, the mission has revealed new details about Mars’ crust, mantle and core and detected 1,318 marsquakes. Sadly, InSight’s mission is running out of time. Increasing amounts of dust have settled on the lander’s solar panels, only exacerbated by a continent-size dust storm detected on Mars in September, and its power levels keep dropping.”


We're a lot better at it, now... we need to be! And yes, THIS stuff... planetary protection and asteroid mining... is what we should be doing with Japan and EU, instead of going back to that useless sandbox of worthless poison dust.


== Deep space ==


The James Webb Telescope captures the Tarantula Nebula in stunning detail. 160,000 light years away, it is the largest star-forming region in the Local Group of galaxies.

And other NASA scopes captured this color snapshot of a magnificent supernova remnant


A black hole has been "burping" out energy from a small star it was observed shredding in 2018, after two years in which it didn't eject any such material.


Another black hole that is about 10 times more massive than the Sun and is located only about 1600 light-years away is Gaia BH1, a dormant singularity in the constellation Ophiuchus. This means it is three times closer to Earth than the previous record holder.


== Life, who needs it? ==


Speculation: “it's possible that life appears regularly in the universe. But the inability of life to maintain habitable conditions on the surface of the planet makes it go extinct very fast.” At least that’s a theory re early life on Mars. 


Following on that… Well dang. The hunt for habitable planets may have just gotten far more narrow: “The pressure from a class M red dwarf star’s radiation is immense, enough to blow a planet’s atmosphere away,” boding poorly for the “Goldilocks Zone” around such stars (the most common type.) This does not affect the kind of planets where most of the life in the universe likely resides - Europa style ice worlds, which might orbit almost every star out there. Alas, very unlikely to build civilizations with starships or radio.

== The best place for humans off-Earth? ==


Veteran space engineers Joe Carroll and Al Globus point out that  that the best place for the earliest human space settlements is in equatorial low earth orbit  or "ELEO". Going to the moon, Mars, or beyond takes roughly an order of magnitude more launch mass. So, until you can reliably harvest >90% of your mass from non-earthly material, it is cheaper to expand in ELEO than anywhere else.  Also, you don't need heavy radiation shielding in ELEO.


The earliest tests will involve large slow-spinning dumbbell shapes, because they provide any desired range of artificial gravity with lower annoying artifacts than feasible with any other shape or facility mass. But I think the argument is likely to remains true for other design approaches as well. 


There is another key factor. Expanding settlements with Moon, Mars, asteroid, or comet materials involves distinctly different mining and refining technologies, and unique other constraints like long lunar nights, launch windows to each NEO, etc. Mastering each site will require mastering and reliably maintaining site-specific capabilities.   But every site will require one common capability: reliably delivering usable air, water, food, and other supplies to support the settlers. This is almost certainly best done mostly by recycling onboard waste flows. And that (plus occasional launches) are the ONLY key capabilities required for settling ELEO. If you start there, you can "close the life-support loop" at whatever rate you want, because you can get supplies from earth >90% cheaper than anywhere else, and without launch constraints or latencies.


I strongly suspect that any serious plan to settle the moon, Mars, or beyond will end up redirecting the plans to start in ELEO first, because it lets you crawl and walk before needing to run or fly. And it is likely to kill far fewer people unnecessarily, even though it adds "unnecessary" steps in a long-term plan for serious human expansion beyond earth. 


There is yet another factor that may become dominant in any commercial scenario: large-scale orbital tourism and even retirement-in-space should be >90% cheaper in ELEO than further out, That may drive viable early investments. ELEO is clearly the "minimum viable product."


… and along those lines… Orbital Assembly inc. is planning the first free-flying, habitable, privately operated facility in orbit for both work and play. With artificial gravity, OA is leading the space tourism market with a safe and comfortable destination in orbit.  Several of the required technologies were first developed at NASA’s Innovative & Advanced Concepts program – (NIAC) 


Finally… Here is a discussion with Seti Institute legend Jill Tarter – after a screening of "Contact" –  interviewed by author David Brin and physicist Brian Keating.

And yes, I will post about Greg Bear, soon. It's just too painful a bummer for Thanksgivingtime.


Peace & joy to all.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

There’s a reason that the powers want us to hate a word – ‘politics.’ And another word, as well…

What Elon might do… probably won't... but someone must do… 

At a sage online conference on Web Disinformation, a speaker referred to my 2017 blog appraising methods of "fact-checking." Alas that none of the problems have been remotely solved and none of the suggested solution methods at all tried. Judge for yourself.


See also my posting: Can we 'fix' social media while maintaining arenas of discourse?


And the CA Democratic Party asked me for a piece of 'futuristic legislation' that would address current problems. The result? The Fact Act



== A do-able reform ==


I wrote the following predictions before the recent US midterm election results. And it seems nothing about it was rendered obsolete. These reforms are still guardedly possible!

We face several potential futures in the USA. Most are betting on continued gridlock in DC after the November elections.  If Moscow Mitch and Kremlin Kevin are kept out of majority mastership in Congress then we’ll eke along with good executive management and appointments and an occasional Bill of some value. If either of those two gain power, well, it will be less than in most midterms...

... and we’ll persevere until the blackmail files are ripped open. (The thing most-feared by Rupert and Putin and MBS and the rest of that cabal.)

But what if it’s good news?  A combination of world events and unexpectedly fine polemical persuasion by Biden and others give us a Real Congress of folks dedicated to ending this wretched Phase 8 of the US civil war, by ending the tsunami of cheating? 

Well, that prediction came closer than almost anyone else. So - what would/should top the to-do list? 

I have my own VERY long list! But let’s sample:

  • Revive the Voting Rights Act. John Roberts has said Congress could do that, any time and thereby eviscerate a lot of the gerrymandering and voter suppression etc. that Republican/confederates depend on. Ye, Roberts will likely writhe for new excuses. Elsewhere I offer additional maneuvers t corner him, then corner him till there’s no room left.
  • Forget Constitutional Amendments. Won’t happen. Grow up.
  • But this suggestion (offered by one of you in this blog!) could work very well. Repeal the 1929 Permanent Apportionment Act that fixed the maximum number of U.S. House of Representative members at 435. Institute the ‘Wyoming Rule,’ where the least populous state gets one rep… and the number of representatives each other state gets is proportional multiples of that population.  Wyoming’s 578,803 becomes the population needed for one representative. Hence California (population 39,237,836) gets 68 reps, an increase of 16 over its current 52.

That increases the number of House reps to 573. Not an unworkable number at all!

A decent contractor can expand the halls of Congress to seat more reps and provide office space - or these reps can work remotely based on seniority (which is how they assign office space anyways). It would leave the insanely disproportionate representation of small states in the Senate, only now in at least one chamber every citizen-voter would be equal.


This would also remove the distortions to proportional representation in the electoral college. And of course that is what would drive the goppers absolutely screeching hysteric. Their only chance would be to alter the incentives they have built in for decades, encouraging their own partisans to go Riefenstahl-insane and instead veer toward the center.

  • Also make DC and Puerto Rico states (both have more population than Wyoming). DC would get 1 rep and Puerto Rico would get 6, further increasing House membership to 580.
  • Dems were already giving Republicans subpoena powers in the Trump Impeachment hearings. And hence, Pelosi & co. should right now act on my suggestion to grant every House member one peremptory subpoena per year. It would ensure the minority party can always investigate! And when that minority is a pack of pig-headed confederates? Big deal! It's when decent folks are in the minority that this would pay off for us all.

Significantly, there are SCORES of additional ideas that could make a big difference... if the good guy side in this phase of the US Civil War had a scintilla of polemically practical brains. See Polemical Judo, by David Brin.

== More ideas... ==

Bradford 
DeLong’s new book is called Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century -- though, not Achieving Utopia. It covers the period from 1870 to 2010 when nearly all human progress — for well and ill — took place. Everything before that could be likened to humanity grudgingly and haltingly taking its foot off the brakes… rebelling just a bit from monstrous mistakes like feudalism, that stymied almost every cooperative or competitive innovation, aside from warfare. 

After 1870 (DeLong asserts with evidence) it became more like slamming on the gas. Spectacular acceleration… though the steering, through massive veers and devastating wars, seemed more like the gyrating tugs of a terrified drunkard. The unprecedentedly fast change brought with it profound political instability and conflict that (believe it or not) steadied into a better era, after 1945. In fact, as DeLong notes and I have, elsewhere, there are reasons (despite the news) to see glimmers of utopia ahead… once we get past a few cliffs… Interesting interview

Oh, the title is a take off on W.B. Yeats’s poem The Second Coming: 

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,. Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

"Opinion Nazi analogies are dangerous. But they are increasingly relevant today."

--Jennifer Rubin


== Cause for optimism? ==


Big Think offers: Nine astonishing ways that living standards have improved around the worldThe world has improved in mind-blowing ways. This is NOT an excuse for complacency!  Rather, this and much other good news should give us confidence we CAN eliminate the remaining bad.


I would add:


#10... that 90%+ of all living humans have never witnessed war with their own eyes. Name another time when that was so.


#11. No other civilization trained all its brightest young people to be harsh critics of their own tribal leaders and societal mistakes.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Congratulations Artemis! Now let the SLS dinosaur slip away into the past.

Well wasn't that a tremendous launch? The biggest rocket ever! (Though it's a record that might very soon be broken.) Hey, a lot of brilliant and hardworking folks dedicated whole careers to transforming old space shuttle tech into the behemoth Space Launch System (SLS) that just launched successfully toward the Moon, the first of three throwaway giants that - we're promised - will prioneer a bold, new era for humanity - led by the USA/NASA - in space! 

I do hope all three SLS missions that we've already paid for work well, lest many tens of billions of dollars go to waste. May the astronauts have fun! And - vicariously - us, as well.

Alas, I hope these three will be the last of their breed... a Frankenstein concoction - the "Shelby-stein monster" - whose principal purpose and success was at keeping space shuttle contractors well-fed. In fact, the current "Artemis" endeavor now depends on the competing SpaceX giga-rocket to succeed, in order to provide a lander system for US footsteps to happen. And if SpaceX does succeed, then the SLS is rendered obsolete anyway.

But again, as many of you know, I think the whole Artemis plan is wrongheaded, top to bottom. There are zero good reasons for the USA/NASA to be engaged in an expensive 'race' to repeat past glories, planting footprints on a dusty useless-sterile-plain. Not when there are vastly better things we can be doing out there, at way lower cost.

Especially when humanity is going back to that expanse of poison dust, anyway!

I've posted about this before. And indeed, I know it's useless to even try. Still, let me try to lay it out for you, yet again. Here's a paste-in from that earlier post, explaining why the whole 'lunar resources' thing is incredible malarkey. Then I'll come back to sum up.


== Yes, humanity should keep exploring the moon ==

We’ve learned so much from lunar bits, especially taken by the Apollo missions. This Apollo14 sample apparently formed deep under the crust of the Earth, then got blasted to Earth’s surface, then blasted to land on the Moon, got buried and modified, then got blasted onto the moon’s surface to be plucked by an Apollo14 astronaut! How do we figure all this? We’ve learned to track an amazing suite of physical and chemical and isotopic clues thanks to … well, science.  Federally funded R&D that propelled half of our economy, since WWII.

And yet...  Come see a screed of utter-drooling nonsense –  declaring that China is “winning the new space race‼!” Oh, no! They just put a tiny solar rover on the Moon!  "The stakes are high: Who will be able to obtain the vast resources in space, for example, water/ice, iron, titaniumplatinum and nickel; secure the routes of trade; and write the rules of space commerce such as trade in energy propellant and precious metals."

Sigh. I am forced to get repetitive. The moon has what? 

In fact it has absolutely none of those things, except possibly some buried water as a source of propellant, at the difficult to access poles. And even that is likely to be eclipsed by vast amounts of water available in asteroids... along with actual, rather than make-believe gold, platinum etc. 

Why should Americans pretend to justify joining the Apollo-wannabes (e.g. China, India the Saudis and billionaires) with faux claims of lunar 'resources' that don't exist? Even the normally smart and cogent Isaac Arthur breaks his arms waving away any need to justify that claim with actual numbers. 

Oh, and here’s another cock n’bull story about moon mining and Helium 3 mythology, without a hint of due diligence on actual numbers or plausibility.

The only way that China wins any "space race" would be either militarily (as in the first chapter of Ghost Fleet or Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars; and yes, be wary) or else if Republicans force us into a "united/international consortium to go back to the moon." In that case – a lose-lose for the U.S. -- we'd have to transfer all our technology, boosting the Chinese and others on the 'team' while gaining nothing in return. 

But let's talk about those so-called resources. Come on guys. Show us the "ores" you blithely armwave to be on the moon! Show us clear charts how it would be a 'way-station" to Mars. You can't. Oh, but with no one else apparently calling out this insanity, with a sigh, let me reiterate. 

Let's roll up our sleeves and get real about 'resources.'

The moon started out resource-depleted because it came from Earth's crust, after most metals already sank into our planet's core.  (Blasted out of our crust by an impacting mini-planet, we're now pretty sure.)

Then the newborn-molten moon fractionated again, sending most of what metals it had left settling into it's own core! 

As for what remained, there were no water processes which concentrated most useful ores on Earth. 

True there's aluminum and silicon and smidgeons of titanium in Luna's crust... and all of it is in super tight oxygen bonds that will take truly major energy input to separate -- possible, but hugely non-trivial. (Ever wonder why plants to refine bauxite (aluminum-oxides) are always next to giant hydro-electic dams?)

A little scattered meteoritic iron might get collected by dragging magnets endlessly through dust. Or else, we could go where it came from...

Asteroids. Half of all asteroids seem to have come from a shattered proto-planet that broke up, soon after the Earth formed. Some of the remnant bodies come from that proto-planet's carbon-volatiles-water rich outer crust. Some came from the stony middle regions. And many of them from a metal core of purified iron-nickel plus dollops to gold etc. Pre-refined metal! And the Psyche mission may confirm that big asteroid as the remnant of the core.

In other words, there ARE riches out there! Much of it accessible. Japan and NASA - with real help from ESA - have already done spectacular sample return missions from asteroids.

By comparison, the only resource advantage of the moon is purported Helium Three. And please show it to me. Show me a customer. Show me a plausible method to collect and refine it. Hold me back from strangling the next cultist raving "Helium Three!" 


== Oh, don't neglect the place altogether! ==

Yes, I do think we should keep exploring Luna!   For one thing, humanity is going back there, no matter what. And that's fine, Chinese and later Indian and Saudi and European and billionaire tourists - maybe someday even 
Russians - will skip about, planting footprints in that dusty, useless, utterly resource-free plain. And maybe the U.S. should sell them services, like orbital hotel rooms and landers! Indeed, let's send robots to explore some of those lava tube tunnels, partly to prevent rivals from claiming them all. 

But joining their mad rush for footprints? Why?

Their surface reasons will be 'scientific,' but we all know it will be tourism and national pride. Having their Bar Moonzvah, so to speak. (“Today I am a man!”) 

Mazel Tov. Americans and Japanese and Diamandis-ovs and Musk-ovites should transmit congratulations. Let's blow them kisses from the asteroids where we're getting spectacularly rich, doing things that only we (with our fellow true modernists) can do.

Wake up and smell the platinum.


And yeah.... nothing has changed since I wrote all that, except that bit by bit the truth about the SLS noondoggle is coming out. And maybe it's time for the space shuttle contractors to finally find honest work.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

The Ukraine War... Putin's czar-worship... MAGA's Putin-worship... monarchists are back... and the real 'c-word'...

First, the war. As I post this, the world resonates with Ukrainian victory in Kherson and west of the Dnipro River.  

Again, the key to resolving so many things can only come from awakening the Russian populace (and indeed our MAGAs) from their respective collective loyalty trances. Bits of info do get through, but can be shrugged off under incantations by state TV (or Fox). 

You know I recommend challenging lie machines to a head-on degree that none of the players on our side ever seem capable of doing. And it takes more than just repeatedly whining: "That's not true!" 

In this case, what's needed is a direct confrontation that would penetrate every propaganda screen. Here's how.

Demand a Big Commission to investigate claims that Ukraine had been 'Nazi,' or building nukes, or joining NATO, before the February invasion (Putin's pretexts). Or whether there's any sign of 'satanists' running Ukraine or the US Democratic Party. Or to metric the extent of devastating harm done to Ukraine by RF forces, that RF citizens will have to pay for in taxes for generations. 

What? You say Russian media will simply denounce the partiality of such a commission? The same way Fox nightly denounces every single US fact-using profession as terminally biased, from science to the FBI and military officer corps? 

Well sure. Unless the public demand is parsed right.

So, demand the commission consist of 100 Russian citizens chosen randomly from old utility bills... and 100 Ukrainians, 100 westerners and 100 from non-aligned nations. And yeah, 100 Chinese... so long as all may converge in Turkey and freely choose (at US expense) to go anywhere and see and report on anything. Talk to anyone they choose. Including citizens of Kherson, both liberated and dispersed by RF kidnappings.

Sound expensive? Well it would be worth it. Except we'll never have to pay. Because Putin would shriek and refuse! 

And it is that REFUSAL, penetrating through the borscht curtain, that would not be explicable or shruggable by any amount of blather on Russian state TV...

... just as wager demands over almost any testable foxite assertion ALWAYS result in MAGAs fleeing in jibbering panic amid the ruins of their macho preening.

It's called accountability. And I've only been yammering about it for 40 years.

== And more... ==

A note about the Ukraine war that tweaks a special place in my heart. Despite operating under severe adversity and continuous threats, Ukraine’s postal service carries on

Officials at Ukrposhta say that of its approximately 73,000 employees, 15 have been killed and 14 injured during the fighting. About 50 post offices have been destroyed, while 480 have been damaged, some repeatedly. Even so, Ukrposhta had continued to work until recently in some of the regions occupied by Russian forces.” They finally stopped because of repeated robbery by small roving bands of Russian soldiers. 

Opposed to that positive symbolism is the other kind. Putin - who grew up reciting Leninist catechisms - later restored the crest and other symbols of the Romanov Czars, rebuilt their most tasteless edifices and erected a statue to Nicholas II, a monstrous dunce who, with his equally addle-pated cousin in Berlin, plunged the world into a century of wretched agony. Nicholas lost everything (and killed hundreds of millions) by underestimating Germany and hurling unhappy Russian boys into meat grinders.

Now step back and look at Vlad emulating his beloved Czar, in Ukraine. Try, try to see the context! History doesn't repeat. But it has recurring attractor states. It rhymes.

For an extensive look at recent ideological and cultural trends in Russia, take a look at: Cultural and Political Imaginaries in Putin's Russia, by Niklas Bernsand and Barbara Tornquist-Plewa. 

Oh, an after-note on Russia's military might: Russia’s new super torpedo, the Poseidon, which is expected to be 2 meters (6.5 feet) in diameter and over 20 meters (65 feet) long, "is the largest torpedo ever developed in any country." Picture how big that is. These nuclear-capable torpedoes are designed to be launched from hundreds of miles away and to sneak past coastal defenses by traveling along the sea floor to deliver warheads of multiple megatons, causing radioactive waves that would render swathes of the target coastline uninhabitable for decades.

Apparently its big test, yesterday, was a botch.


== Topics I've explored elsewhere ==


A couple of my best older blog postings:

  • Are you all down on humanity, especially short-tempered, harshly-divided Americans? Well, I have a tonic for your pessimism and gloom.  No, I won’t try to talk (or beguile) you out of your sour funk. Instead, I propose a simple experiment! Going down to a busy 4-way stop sign intersection and just watch for a few minutes. Very soon you WILL feel better about yourself and your fellow citizens. Give this a try:  Ritual of the Street Corner
  • Alternate Visions of the Future: Some bold proposals having to do with my proposal for a World Ownership Treaty – If you own something, say so – which could (without raising taxes an iota) erase almost all national debts almost overnight and save honest taxpayers trillions. Oh and included are riffs on corporate transparency, Abraham Lincoln, and getting to be more like him.

== The word our New Lords never mention ==


And yeah, the noxious ones are back. See a fawning profile of Peter Thiel’s eagerly dyspeptic (and trivially refuted) incantations that ‘liberalism has failed,’ while wallowing in its protection and myriad benefits. I so hope the author of this piece misinterprets almost everything, in almost every paragraph because… wow. "Peter Thiel on the dangers of progress" by Mary Harrington.

The core take-away - revealed in his hostility to Universities and support of the "neo-monarchist" movement - is rejection of all aspects of our civilization that led to himself! Including the older-deeper meaning of 'liberalism' appraised and espoused by Adam Smith. Which is unleashing the fantastically fecund creativity of flat-fair-just-confident and fully-informed Competition... 

...the c-word that was promoted by the First Liberal - Adam Smith - and the word that is never, ever mentioned nowadays by the gone-mad right. That core endeavor - of transparent/flat/fair competitive creativity - requires maximizing the number of skilled, confident competitors... (um, duh?)... as F. Hayek called-for. Which, in turn, necessitates social justice and mass education and especially freedom.

Sure, our Smithian reversal of 6000 years of oligarchic/racist hierarchy has been imperfect, improving with grinding slowness. But its effective outcomes (including Thiel himself) outweigh those of ALL other societies -- all the feudal/monarchal dope-zones combined -- across those sixty+ centuries.

Let's be clear. Thiel's proposed program of to-the-hilt technological progress toward personal, organic immortality must be advanced by the very fact-professions, researchers, scientists and university nerds who almost universally despise everything about the oligarchic putsch to restore feudalism that PT passionately pursues.

Nor is there a prepper citadel anywhere on the planet whose location isn't known by many in the nerd clade, down to the centimeter. 


Perhaps (just a suggestion, m'lord) rejoining the Enlightenment might be the better choice.