Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Claytronics, Replicators... and Kiln People

A whole lot of items have accumulated on the side, so here goes...

Has anyone seen this: The replicator: create your own body double. (The New Scientist #2503)

"Need to be in two places at once? All you need to project yourself anywhere in the world is an internet connection and some intelligent nanodust.

"TELEPORTATION might not yet be on the cards for us humans, but Seth Goldstein and Todd Mowry may have come up with the next best thing. This pair of computer scientists are trying to build an intelligent material that can replicate a physical three-dimensional facsimile of you from nothing more than a stream of video images. If it works, all you'll need to project yourself around the globe is an internet connection and a pile of their intelligent nanodust at the other end to assemble your replica.

"The project is still in its infancy, but the researchers hope the new material - made of self-organising nano-computers that can stick to each other and communicate with built-in wireless - will eventually be able to shape-shift in an instant, forming a replica of anything from a banana to a human. They call it "claytronics", and the individual particles are known as claytronic …"

I mean, they even call it claytronics! This is the fourth major fictional idea of mine that has been at least partly reified by researchers this year alone. And in not one case did anyone mention where they got the idea. sniff.

Somebody oughta tell em…take a look at Kiln People.


Back to one of my hot topics - one that gets zero attention from EITHER left or right - the catastrophic decline in US military readiness. This was in today's paper: Even after drastically reducing its recruitment goals, the US Army has fallen short this month by 25%. This after many months of similar news. Likewise in the other forces. Our readiness levels are low enough to invite charges of high treason.

How is it that no one mentions it? Are patriots on the right so blinded by "loyalty" to the jerks who are perpetrating this? Are pundits on the left too far gone to even notice that patriotism - real patriotism - is still something worth standing up for?

As George Orwell lamented in another context, "One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool."


Well, the left may be mired in an insane hostility toward the Officer Corps that is now our only bulwark and protection. But not all democrats are lefties. For example, see The Truman National Security Project. Many on the left would sneer at these folks as "GOP Light." That is entirely wrong.

These people want to reclaim the long democratic tradition of assertive foreign policy that is both prudent and bold, both moral and unafraid. Cooperative and yet unabashed at willingness to lead. The kind of leadership and assertive/decent Pax Americana that stepped into the Balkans and left the European Continent at peace under law for the first time in 4,000 years.

Back when we still had allies who would trust us with more than a burnt match.


Here's an example of the kind of expansive thinking that can typify the modern worldview: http://www.nickbostrom.com/existential/risks.html


Next. I forget. Did I refer to an absolutely brilliant faux scientific talk about the process of resurrecting the lost subspecies of vampires? The callous, smug amorality is exactly how science can and often DOES go wrong. http://www.rifters.com/real/progress.htm (but of course, this kind of criticism illustrates my "social T Cell notion.) In any event, it's hilarious and frightening!


New from the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security - "Patriot Debates: Experts Debate the USA PATRIOT Act", Stewart A. Baker and John Kavanagh, editors  Published by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security. You policy wonks really need to look at this. I have long believed that our "civil liberties protectors" e.g. the ACLU, are fighting the WRONG parts of the Patriot Act. Little nudges/changes in wiretap procedures will not bring us Big Brother and the American people know that. It is the portions of the Act that remove supervision and accountability while spreading a cancer of secrecy that should be fought most intensely... and aren't.


Back on the genral topic of modernism: futurists Margaret King and Jamie O'Boyle, who were recently interviewed in Fast Company magazine, expressed their concern about the decline of confidence this way: "We are going through an interesting social anomaly. Our culture is no longer dominated by positive visions of the future. In the past, business and technology helped generate such visions, whether through movies, theme parks, or journeys into space .We've lost our instinct to think positively."

Ah, but the dream is an 18th Century one... still fighting for sanity and progress against 19th Century romantic demons. In 1793, William Blake, th British poet and visionary wrote,"What is now proved was once, only imagin'd." A proud statement we should all be making.


When asked why he was now holding a different opinion than he had previously expressed, Lord Keynes is quoted as saying, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"


Enough to chew on. If you find an item useful, follow it up. Be a T Cell...


Beo said...

Hello David, I think the nano projections will wind up being a nice replacement for the full length mirror that women spend countless hours in front of.:) In all seriousness, it would be very cool.

Have you heard about the futuristic newspapers that are being made? Paper thin plastic, that are basically a durable pixel screen. You purchase this, and upload from a weather proof server box at train stations and such. That should be fun.

The Army enlistment shortfall is obvious. The American people want more than global dominence through violence. Even though that is how our country was created, it doesn't mean that it needs to continue.

People attack us because we make things work out to our advantage. Almost ruthlessly. Americans do not feel proud of themselves anymore. We're not cowboys anymore. We need global equality to progress positively.

Not to sound like a hippie, but our attitudes should be changing just as quickly as the technology. We could be doing much more wonderful things together.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on being listed on Blogger.com frontpage ;)

Anonymous said...

Hello David.

As a 20 year Navy veteran, I can tell you that the reasons for the recruitment problem are obvious.
Young adults don't want to sign up for a pointless war of attrition in Iraq.

Iraq is not part of the "war on tactics" sometimes called the war on terror. It's a sideshow.

Eliminate the sideshow, send the Guard and Reserves home, release the stop loss involuntary service folks, and in a year the numbers will come back up.

SM1(SW), USN (ret)

-G.D. said...

Nanodust, teleportation, military bashing, and vampires...

Where have you been my whole life? Nice read...nice.

Anonymous said...

On "Claytronics"

Mr. Brin, I imagine that it is partly due to you being one of my favorite (if not favorite) science fiction authors that I am indignate that these "claytronic' jokers would fail to give at least a nod to Kiln People for their 'big idea.' Jeez.

Something like this would be cool to see happen, though :-).

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know how much bloggers count as "pundits", but hilzoy, over at Obsidian Wings recently posted "Look Ma, I Broke the Army!" about missing recruiting goals and so on, and she's definitely very liberal and also very patriotic (I reccomend reading some of her other posts, like "More Things We Throw Away". I'd have to write the lack of coverage for the Army recruiting and the disaster that is Iraq off as a matter of Republicans not wanting to talk about it, since it doesn't reflect well on them, Democrats not wanting to talk about it, because they're afraid they'll be tarred as "weak anti-war commies" or similar gibberish, and the media not talking about it because they're lazy and afraid of the Republican attack machine. At least the parts of the media the Republicans don't control.

Though, honestly, Dr. Brin, by throwing out lines like "Well, the left may be mired in an insane hostility toward the Officer Corps that is now our only bulwark and protection.", you're just repeating Republican propaganda about how liberals "hate America" and "hate the Army" and are "weak girly-men" and yadda yadda yadda. And the fact that these things have been repeated enough that they're the first reaction of intelligent people is really saddening. If "the left" "hated America", then we wouldn't be nearly so angry about Bush and his gang trying to flush it down the drain, would we?

Especially since the Republicans these days are just a bunch of whiners. "WAAAAH! Nine crazy judges out of the 200 we wanted are being blocked!" "WAAAH! Amnesty International called Guantanamo a gulag just because we're holding people there without caring if they're innocent or guilty, and torturing them!" That or they threaten to bomb you. I swear, you'd think they didn't control the Presidency and Congress and hadn't appointed most of the judges over the past 30 years. Not to mwention they want to seem "tough" on Iraq, when they got it completely, utterly, wrong. There were no WMDs. There was no planning. Just saying "stay the course" isn't a plan, so why on earth should we trust them with anything, when they get something so important so utterly wrong?

Anonymous said...

"Not to mwention they want to seem "tough" on Iraq, when they got it completely, utterly, wrong. There were no WMDs. "

Not yet. But eventually, unless we stagnate technologically (which will doom us to an everlasting mideval society when the fuel here on Earth runs out), it will become much easier for a small group to create WMD's. When that happens, all the "insurgents" in Iraq need to be dead, or we're all in for a whole lot of trouble.

Those insurgents aren't fighting "imperialism" or any of that rot. They're fighting because they made a decision to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for the cause of protecting tyranny and slavery (and it's not the first time that people have done so. Check out the monuments to such people in this country scattered across a dozen states).

Simply put, they're fighting against liberty and for evil. Given cheap WMD's, the'll kill as many infidels as they can wherever they live for the cause of slavery and tyranny. Since they're scattered throughout the area and hiding among lots of decent people, we need some way to filter them out and kill them before technology advances to the point that they have that chance.

If not for the "insurgency", they'd stay under their rocks and only strike when they actually had weapons that could kill large numbers of infidels. Thanks to the "insurgency", we can kill them before that happens.

Or, to make it even simpler, the insurgents are the bad guys, and anything that helps us find them and kill them is an enormous benefit to us in the long run.

Anonymous said...

A much more detailed and link-rich article about "claytronics" can be found on WorldChanging:


RE the left "hating" the officer corps: Yes, that's BS.

Oh, if you dug around the sticky recesses of the marginalized, cranky far left, you'd probably find some hateful stuff, but folks like that are as far out of the mainstream as the "racialists" of the far right. It is not fair, accurate, or helpful to represent the peculiar rantings from the fringe as the beliefs of people or parties just off the center.


Jacare Sorridente said...

I think that the lack of optimistic attitudes for the future stems from two major sources:
1) The divisiveness and lack of moderation in the current political landscape. Essentially I believe that people trust neither the politicians who are currently screwing up our country nor the ones who are eagerly awaiting their opportunity to screw up our country. Essentially the choice often seems to be one between shooting yourself in the foot or the hand.
2) Lack of a cohesive national character. This is related to and perhaps stems from the first problem. I think that few people really know what it means to be an American anymore. They know what it should mean- we have the ethos of the "white knight" who rescues those in distress and abides by the code of chivalry etc. But how can we be the white knight if we torture our enemies or give them to barabarians to be tortured? How can we be the white knight if every time we turn around another line in our code of ethics has been deleted or changed?

Jacare Sorridente said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jacare Sorridente said...

Re: the hatred of the armed forces by the left:

The US armed forces have been a bastion of integrity and honor for a long time- they are the incarnation of the "white knight" ethos I mentioned previously. Their honor has been stained by a number of unfortunate and repulsive actions by some members of their ranks, but they still generally retain the image. Yet it is now very common for members of the military to be tainted in the minds of leftists with policy decisions over which they have no control as well as with ridiculously unrealistic expectations in the face of difficult and hostile situations. The armed forces really are the good guys- most of them do what they do at least in part from an idealistic view of what it means to serve in the military. That idealistic view is being torn to tatters all around us. If you can't see it then I suggest that you are as blind as you think your political enemies are.

Anonymous said...

"Eliminate the sideshow, send the Guard and Reserves home, release the stop loss involuntary service folks, and in a year the numbers will come back up."

Darn straight. The volunteer military is a terrific opportunity for a lot of young people, but the bureaucracy has to play it fair and tell it straight or they'll go elsewhere.

Can you blame young people for not joining the Guard and Reserves when the "one weekend a month, one week a year" line comes across as a cruel joke?

Low recruitment effects more than strictly military readiness. The Oregonian ran a piece this week about the terrible fix that extended National Guard deployments are putting western state governors in. They count on Guard staff and equipment to fight wildfires.


Rob said...

DailyKos is a liberal/progressive blog which has run several items on the decline of military preparedness (and it makes sense, since Kos served in the military). I particularly like Kos' references to the 101st Fighting Keyboardists: pundits and bloggers all too eager to send our military off on crusades around the world, but mysteriously silent on the subject of enlisting to go help in such adventures. "Let's you and him fight" seems to be the order of the day.

From today's item on Gary Bauer's opinion that recruitments are down because of the way the war is portrayed in the media:

"These War Preachers are no different than the War Politicians, War Pundits, and 101st Fighting Keyboarders -- they like to talk a tough game, but they don't have the balls to tell their readers, viewers, and supporters to head down to their local recruitment office.

I'm not talking about they themselves enlisting -- that would be asking for too much from these cowards. I'm talking about asking those within their circle of influence to join the war effort."

That's just the latest. He's been posting about it for days now.

Anonymous said...

Love the Truman project's value statement and have passed it along to local Dem party folks....

Rob said...

Ken said:

Since they're scattered throughout the area and hiding among lots of decent people, we need some way to filter them out and kill them before technology advances to the point that they have that chance.

I have a better idea. Nuke 'em from orbit; it's the only way to be sure.

Here's a quote-from-a-quote from a Kos post on Monday:

"Lt. Col. Frederick P. Wellman, who works with the task force overseeing the training of Iraqi security troops, said the insurgency doesn't seem to be running out of new recruits, a dynamic fueled by tribal members seeking revenge for relatives killed in fighting.

"We can't kill them all," Wellman said. "When I kill one I create three."

Obviously I am joking about the Aliens approach. It's all well and good to say that the Iraq quagmire is drawing out likely insurgents so we can kill them all; sounds great on paper. In practice, it doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

Ken said:
"Simply put, they're fighting against liberty and for evil. Given cheap WMD's, the'll kill as many infidels as they can wherever they live for the cause of slavery and tyranny."

That might be for some, though they're more likely fighting for their own power, or their tribal group, or their fundamentalist whacked version of Islam. Or because their brother got killed by US troops, or because the "infidel" invaded their country, then started abducting and torturing people. Or because they're fanatics, or so they can go back to opressing other people. I'm certain most of them don't see themselves as fighting "liberty", and neither do enough other Iraqis for them to keep hiding. They're not right, but they're not completely wrong, either. As long as we're locking people up without trial and torturing them, I have a hard time believing or saying we're there to "spread liberty and freedom".

Anonymous said...

Ken said:
"Simply put, they're fighting against liberty and for evil. Given cheap WMD's, the'll kill as many infidels as they can wherever they live for the cause of slavery and tyranny."

Whoa there partner. Do you actually believe that, or are you just trying to justify a sort of cognitive disonance so you don't have to admit we may have made a tactical error, or deal with the fact that things are often more complicated than 'good' and 'evil'.

A year ago elsewhere, I made a 'war of the worlds' analogy - I think it still fits. Imagine aliens come down, and make several demands for us to disarm - the day the Earth stood still style. Politicians are willing to negotiate, but the aliens want nothing less than near instant compliance. Then they attack. The millitary is decimated, there are more than a few civilian casualties, though it falls short of aramgedon. The aliens then take control, imprison the various world leaders, impose their laws and tell us we can have some self determination as long as we behave. Rumors fly of people 'disapearing', and of 'inhuman' experiments being done. A resistance forms, though it generally ends up killing more humans than aliens. So the question occurs, do you join the resistance, work with the aliens, or bide your time trying to make sense of it all?

When this is presented without giving the context first, it's amazing how many conservatives join the insurgency.

I'm not sure what to make of the war. In conversations with a former reservist who was over there, he seemed to indicate that we did the right thing for the wrong reasons, and then the 'suits' (politicians) continually hamstringed the millitary in the name of ideological purity. He said there were definte signs of ongoing humanitarian disasters, so these people were hardly in a good place to begin with, but we didn't help as much as we could either. to do war on the 'cheap', we shorted our reservists on body armor, as well as failing to upgrade many of the transports armor. We dismantled the various welfare programs because the suits thought they were 'too socialist'. Similarly, we let companies come in and undercut local buisnesses as part of a 'pure lassiz faire' policy, and denied a suggestion of one of the generals to hire on many of the locals for cleanup and rebuilding to give them income and something to do rather than shoot at our troops - again, rejected as 'too socialistic'.

There may have been a humanitarian need, but the unholy neo-con alliance mixing Maoist doctrine (political power comes from the barrel of a gun) and rampant corpratism is not the solution.

It's a mess, this can of worms is wide open, and I don't know what the solution is now that we've opened it.

Anonymous said...

Liberal hatred of officers:

Well, I have a beef with my Dad's old C.O., who told him "I hope your family starves." I had yet to be born at that point, but I still take it personally. Oh, and the one that ordered training maneuvers for landing ships in the middle of a typhoon...

Then there's that one marine who promised that no one would find my body. If my cold-blooded murder was justified at that time, why didn't he follow through? If not, why the empty threats?

But those are based on individuals' lack of civility, of competence, and of both, respectively. I try not to generalize too much.

As institutions, I realize how important the military services are. Average servicepeople deserve a lot of respect for the dangers they face and the professionalism they display, and few people are willing to suggest otherwise.

I am afraid that I've given people the wrong idea about that, though, especially when I say that the Iraq war was poorly justified and planned (though I admit it has been well-executed, and I realize that the Pentagon's sound plans were scrapped in favor of the executive branch's designs). I'm surprised at people's hostility when I say that I marched against the war before it started. I haven't done so since the action started, and I think there's a genuine distinction to be made.

Demosthenes said...

Firstly, I would like to say that what you have here intruiges me. Very nice work.

Now, more on topic...

Item number 1- Ever heard of a Hegemony? I can't believe that you haven't. I did a post on my political theory a while back, and though I'm not saying it would work, I love the idea.

Item number 2- I came up with this idea during a rainy day. As you were mentioning, the military is losing momentum, both in numbers and material. However, what if we eliminated the need for combat-ready troops and had the entire civilian population join the corps. No, I'm not talking about the draft. The somesthetic and motor cortexes in the brain are the two bits that send neural firings to the cerebrum when one thinks of moving a body part. If transmitters could be installed into the correct parts of these cortexes and electrodes were used to intercept these signals, any ordinary human could be hooked up to a computer and have their bodily thoughts analyzed. These, in turn, could be fed into humanoid robotic structures half the world away which would respond in sync with the thoughts of the pilot. This way, human loss of life could be utterly eliminated from the schedule and remote combat would be at its peak. Everyone could fight, but no one would die doing so. Also, think of the cost difference. While these mechanical fighters could cost a lot to finance at first, everything and anything related to troop needs could be completely forgotten. It's a very nice prospect, if I may say so myself, but then again I might be mixing my novel-writing needs with my scientific needs...

Anonymous said...

Demosthenes, your item #2 greatly resembles a future military imagined by Joe Haldeman in his novel The Forever Peace.

David Brin said...

Nate - Note that I always distinguish between "left" and "liberals."

I know that civilization won't follow me in making this distinction... nor will it recognize that classic Goldwater "conservatives" have almost not real interests in common with the neocon-kleptocrat-apocalypt troika. But somebody's gotta try.

See the Truman group that's forming (cited above). Somebody's got to point out that two out of our three recent wars were fantastically successful, executed with skill and professionalism and VERY low American casualty rates. Recruitment rates of re-enlisting servicement who fought in Bosnia and afgh were ABOVE average, showing that these guys don't mind danger, if well led.

Ken - you oversimplify the motives of your enemies, and thus do our side no favors. It is a routine human thing to do, and desperately counterproductive. (Osama did that to us, expecting (as Hitler and Stalin & others expected) that wimpy, decadent americans would panic after 9/11. See http://www.futurist.com/portal/future_trends/david_brin_empowerment.htm for how we "panicked".)

In fact, we face a mess in Iraq for one reason. We are hated and deserve to be. We had a perfect chance to save these people from Saddam, cheaply and quickly, in 1991... when the SAME EXACT BUNCH OF JERKS who are in charge of THIS war obeyed orders from certain sheiks and left him in power. People all over Iraq were rebelling against saddam at our request and Gen Schwarzkopf begged for just 12 hours more to liberate Basra. And to release some Iraqi troops to march on Baghdad.

Instead we consigned them to 12 more years of hell. Now we have Sunnis who hate us for stomping on their privileges and Shiites who won't lift a finger to help us because they despise us, want us to be humbled and hurt (as they were) and then go away so they can deal with the sunnis their own way.

Anonymous - if the left didn't reflexively hate the Officer Corps, then why are they not standing up for this one american institution that stands between us and the cold wind? Yes, these military guys have crewcuts and seem as white and redstate and homophobic as you can imagine. But this is an ISSUE. A blood red meat issue that could be used against the Troika.

The fact that it is not being used as an issue is plenty indicative.

Jacare is right that the military is being tainted today by decisions made over their heads. Where are all the conservatives who cried out that "politician interference lost us Vietnam"? That - of course - was baloney that never gave any credit to a misguided but dedicated Vietnamese revolutionary movement. Still, the difference between Clinton's wars - Balkans and Afghanistan - and this mess - all come down to political interference in all the worst ways.

And now, Donald Rumsfeld, the man who oversaw our humiliating collapse in Vietnam, happens to be the guy in charge of this thing. Care to bet on outcomes?

Tony Fisk said...

on claytronics: 'Somebody oughta tell em...'

Never mind, the dreaming knows...
(and, anyway, somebody called Fred Keische has already told WorldChanging!)

(Maybe it was the puns, but if I thought there was one of your ideas that was totally whacko...! Oh, well 'the universe is stranger than we can imagine')

Now, if someone doesn't tell 'em about the 'Practice Effect', how long d'you think it'll take before...?

Speaking of telling 'em, I thought the media is bringing the issue of US military untrouseredness more to the public's attention.

But, ah! Why isn't anyone commenting on why no-one in government's been commenting?

The dreaming knows... but it has a greater number of T-cell bloggers than more centralised authorities, like news corporations, do. OTOH, they're also a little less specialised at rooting out the truth, so there are speculations, but few solid answers.

At the moment, I'd say the terriers of the press are still chasing the rabbit and not the warren: the more desparate measures US army recruiters are applying (eg on how to evade the drug test) make for more lurid articles (and quick 'snorts' of indignation(-) than the more in depth investigation needed for checking out underlying issues. Give 'em time.

... and keeping marking the rabbit hole!

A.R.Yngve said...

Congrats to the "Kiln People" prediction! :)

(Is it just me, or is reality catching up faster and faster these days?)


About oil and Iraq and such things... I wrote a short-short story about how the West sucks up to tyrants with oil:
The story "Red For Black" posits that things could have been far, far worse... ;)

Contrarian said...

Congrats on being listed on the front page, that's how I got here. Sorry that you're idea got 'stolen'. If anything, that means it must have been pretty good.

Check out chazinc.blogspot.com for a good laugh. Be sure to read "Garbage Garments", posted June 8th.

Chaz out.

Demosthenes said...

If you're implying that I'm taking the idea from somewhere else, I just want to say I've never read the aforementioned book. Maybe if you had the inards not to hide behind an "anonymous" title, we could resolve this easier...

Ted Lemon said...

The catastrophic decline in military readiness is the result of attempting to prosecute a war we shouldn't have attempted to prosecute. Even if you're so naive as to think that war works, that doesn't mean that every war is a war worth fighting.

Speaking as one "liberal", I have no interest in winning a pyrrhic political victory by arguing for *more* war readiness, a view with which I do not agree, simply because it might succeed in throwing the bums out of the White House. What good would that do, if the result was that more, possibly worse bums replaced them?

What I would like to see is a way to stand down in Iraq. Several people have pointed out ways to improve the situation there, none of which we are following. Instead, we are doing everything to encourage resistance.

We are embroiled in the situation, and the only way out is through, but the next step is not to just write a blank check to the military, or to institute a draft. It is to stop being stupid about what we are doing over there. To stop trying to rape the country for profit and start trying to help them to get back on their feet, even if it means some loss of control on our part.

I don't have anything at all against the folks with the crewcuts, and I wish them well and a safe return, and the joy of doing good while they are still over there. This is my "liberal" agenda, not dealing with the problem of "military readiness."

At this point, based on what I've seen so far, I don't really see any hope for a good outcome in the short term. For example, a democratic takeover of Congress won't help, because the democrats are still thinking inside the box. Bush retiring is probably the next possible time in which something might change.

Sadly, by then, the amount of good money we'll have thrown after bad will be immense, and the cost in lives doesn't bear contemplating. In all likelihood, the whole question of military readiness will have gone out the window by then - we'll be so deeply in hock (hawk?) that the system will no longer be sustainable.

So by and large I'm just trying to grin and bear it, and encourage and support people who seem to be thinking outside the box in their attempts to influence the outcome.

Anonymous said...


No, I was just pointing you at the book. Your idea is sufficiently different that I knew it wasn't derived from the Haldeman story.

Anonymous said...

Worth reading dept.

Steve Jobs' commencement speech to the Stanford class of '05:



fangchu said...

very informative n fun to read.
keep up the good work.


Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick said...

So, I just had an amazing Kiln People epiphany.

I just watched the Clone Wars animated series DVD. 2 hours of non-stop action and kick-butt animation.

As a palate cleanser, in between other books, I am reading through Kiln People again. I think this is my 4th read-through. I’m not a weirdo, I just love the story. This time around though, I am finding myself visualizing the story in the art style of Clone Wars. They fit! They fit really well!

I would love to see this book properly translated into the visual realm. I just don’t want to see it ripped apart and re-worked like so many other books that have been touched by Hollywood. I think that it can be pulled off verbatim through animation, and I think that the Clone Wars art team at Cartoon Networks are the folks to do it.

I just wanted to put that out there.

Anonymous said...

It has been my experience that the left I know does not hate the officer class. I even know someone who is a member of the ACLU and he is not a radical he even goes to church regularly. I think they are just frustrated by the insanely wasteful spending at the pentagon and it lack of oversight.

Tony Fisk said...

David Brin said:
'It is the portions of the (patriot) Act that remove supervision and accountability while spreading a cancer of secrecy that should be fought most intensely... and aren't.'

If you want to see how this plays, start looking at the state of Australia's mandatory detention policy for illegal immigrants.

Secrecy... (out of sight!)
People locked away for years on remote pacific islands, or remote outback facilities. Deliberately placed well away from population centres and accorded fewer rights than known sociopaths (ie high risk criminals).
Then it comes out that an Australian citizen has been thrown into this limbo (Cornelia Rau, a schizophrenic who claimed to be German). And then another, and then... the Palmer Commission has 200 cases referred to it!

Supervision and accountability... (out of mind!)
Custodial abuse is reportedly rampant. This appears to be an ongoing theme that was investigated in an infamous psych. experiment many years ago where one group was left in charge of another without overt supervision (I can't recall the reference, does anyone know?).
Abu Ghraib and Baxter Detention Centre appear to be places where the monsters in all of us can cavort. (but, just try getting a camera into the latter!)

David Brin said...

Sayeth Ted L: " Speaking as one "liberal", I have no interest in winning a pyrrhic political victory by arguing for *more* war readiness, a view with which I do not agree, simply because it might succeed in throwing the bums out of the White House. What good would that do, if the result was that more, possibly worse bums replaced them?"

Sorry Ted. This is exactly an illustration of the foolishness I was talking about.

We do not yet live in an era of genuine world law. Till that day (and I deeply worry overhow that "law" will be designed), we are left in a world where petty tyrants will exercise their cruel whim as they have for 4,000 years. Two methodologies serve to counter this tendency.

(1) local people with gumption rebel... and if they are smart and lucky they replace the tyrants with something better.

(2) appeal to the era's "pax" empire. Sometimes, the empire will step in and do the right thing from above.

Yes, this doesn't sound very nice. And your distaste at this is a PRODUCT of the memes promoted by Pax Americana, which has never been comfortable with Imperium. All our myths oppose it. We never use the word. That is, till the blithering idiotic neocons came along.

But your distaste aside, sorry, the people of Bosnia had nowhere else to turn. And when America finally did step in with decisive and carefully applied military force, it was to the good of all. Clinton and Clarke managed the most successful war in all of American history. No US lives lost, and all objective achieved. Including a European continent at peace and under law for the first time in 4,000 years.

Dissing military power only makes liberals look and sound naive and lefty. What do you think kept us at peace during the Cold War? Executing George Marshall's fifty year plan to calmly wait out the paranoid monstrosity of the USSR? By normal human rhythms, Wold War III was scheduled for 1980 and we'd have been in a conventional WWIV by now, in which half the men in their twenties would have died.

No, where these jokers are crazy is in how they misuse the taxpayer supported professional officer corps and military. In 1991 their sole priority was to stop Saddam from bullying rich sheiks... never to stop him from massacring his own people. Shame!

But we live in dangerous times and I am NOT ready to see someone ELSE become the pax imperium in our stead. That would be calamity. Despite episodes of cataclysmic idiocy like Vietnam (Rumsfeld) and Iraq (Rummy again), no other pax in history came remotely as close to behaving as well, as often as America has. Pax Americana had better be the midwife of something good... or else it will be replaced by horror.

Mr. McGee wants Kiln people movified? Amen! But which of the Boz in Hwood have any taste?

Have you seen even ONE summer movie announced that is not a remake? One?

westend said...

Mr. Brin: You are stunningly lucid.

RK said...

This may be a bit off-topic, but please have your readers take a look at this; it's very important:


Patrick said...

Well, for one, I'm not sure that I would say that I desire it "Moviefied." And I certainly don't want it touched by Hollywood. They'll just F it up. I still feel that animated is the way to go for this story. And don't worry about time constraints. If it's 4 hours long, I'll just hit pause when I need to refresh the popcorn. Letterbox on DVD - the only way to go.

With regards to a strong military...it's a sad truth that right now we need one. I'd like to think that the masses of this world will finally rise up against all the tyrannical assholes and say "WE WANT PEACE!" I don't see it happening though. We are far too ignorant a people and tend to make our decisions based on far too little information, or on information that has little to do with fact. It's a complicated time, and those that are in power are currently using the confusion against us.

We need a strong military, but we need them close to home, not galavanting around the world, toppling dictator that we put into power and attacking countries that hold natural resources that we require.

Defend our country, make friends trough real cooperation, keep the aggressive buttheads at arms length, and stay the hell out of out nations politics.

But what am I saying? Where there's an asshole, there's a way. Sometime I think that a decent society can only be found in Sci-Fi.

Now, the whole talk of a Pax Americana just weirds me out. Who will be that singular dominant power? When I think of Pax, I think of Hyperion by Dan Simmons. I think of a Theocracy. Not a pleasant thought for a man who doesn't label himself with any religious or political affiliation.

P. H. M. said...

David, just stopping by to tell you I loved your book The Postman. The movie did not do it justice. The book was astonishingly good.

Gordon said...

RE: Claytronics.
Hmm... I seem to remember reading an SF short a few years ago about 'people proxies'. Can't remember where, but I remember it featured a lift (elevator). One of yours?

Read the original article last week in New Scientist magazine. (It's published near where I live so I get it early!) I'm not too sure about nobile phones that can 'morph into whatever tool you need'. There have to be limits set by the fabric of the material. (Ever hear of a chocolate frying-pan?)
As for teleportation as in Star Trek...it'l never catch on. This bit about disassembling component atoms and so forth seems to me to be the same thing as disintegration, which equals dead. I don't care if a perfect copy is re-assembled at the other end, I would never be convinced it was the real McCoy. (Remember McCoy? He never trusted transporter technology either!)

mack said...

Patriotism, Military Readiness.

The Bush Administration basically created a war (Wag The Dog) thinking of profit, except real people died, vs, fictional people.
It's difficult to be a patriot in 2005, and will likely be, in 2006, 2007, with things hopefully changing in 2008 -- then maybe we'll be a rational, functioning country again

I think deep down we have known something was wrong all along, as Bush and company muzzled the press, put a spin on the number of casualities, gently, hoping we wouldn't notice.

With greater access to the Internet, the cheapness of personal PCs, a lot of the people the military used to consider its main recruitment pool - have disappeared. They don't want to die for a war that we all pretty much known will come to be reviled, for a President, that will also likely come to be reviled. Avoiding dying for history's fools, that's patriotism.

Unknown said...

David - misc comments:
(a)I saw something sad the other day . . . KILN PEOPLE in a dollar store. Wow, what a disposable society this has become.
(b)Heinlein died too soon, is my thought. Can you imagine HIS blog? And the comments? He'd have typed his fingers raw.
(c) Why do we act as if left and right are mortal enemies? We both want a strong economy and a safe place to raise our kids, and as safe a world as we can manage outside that. We differ about methods, and whether these ends justify certain means, but we all want our families safe and happy.
There, that's three cents worth. Make it four: I suspect a lot of people will look back on the political ideas they hold today in much the same way as some of us look back at disco-dancing haircuts and stack heels, saying 'What was I thinking?'

Anonymous said...

"Why do we act as if left and right are mortal enemies?"

Because it feels good, and is politically useful, to dehumanize and demonize the opposition.

It feels good and wins you lots of points to claim that your side is the sole champion of virtue, and under attack by Them.

Kiln People in a Dollar Store? That's not a shame . . . it's an opportunity! Go buy a short stack of copies and give them to friends.


Eddie said...

So true, so true David. See also stockdiscussion.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Okay, some thoughts related to the first Gulf War, which may or may not shed light on current events and opinions of the military.

I was elven when the first Gulf War started. So I wasn't exactly interested in politics or understanding what was going on at the time that much. And for a long time, I thought that Bush Sr. had done the right thing when he stopped at the Iraq border.

Then, not so long ago, I heard about how he told the Iraqis to rebel, then sat around while they got gassed. That's just disgusting. If we were going to stop at the border, then fine. But if you're going to encourage them to rebel, and say you support the people, and have a good chunk of the world's military might sitting a hundred miles away, you can't just stop. You told them to do it, you implicitly promised to help them. We did. But instead, we just stood by.

Which in no way justifies invading thirteen years later, for trumped up bad intelligence, and then doing it half-assedly.

I'm a gamer. One of the kinds of computer games I've played most is Civilization and its spawn, colonizing the Earth (or galaxies, or alien planets) and dealing with other civilizations, etc. And one thing I've noticed, in both how I play and how others I know play, is we tend to be happy to build and trade as long as people leave me alone, but once somebody attacks me (or allies), then everything switches to war mode, and complete surrender or capture of all their territory are about the only options. I suspect this kind of feeling is fairly common among Americans in general (and, to be fair, probably humans in general, we're very tribal). But it relates, perhaps, to why this war's doing badly and losing popularity.

Or maybe I shouldn't post at 2:45 AM.

Unknown said...

Hey, damn right I bought ten of those copies of KP. I hope it was a case of stranded freight and not remaindering.
If you want to make a real difference in the world, repeal the Thor Power Tool Decision.

Mike Hobart said...

"Replicator: body double"
Well, I hope it works better than the similar idea in Budrys' ROGUE MOON, which is simply horrifying.

DG Lewis said...

I'll have to get my hands on the "Patriot Debates" book. I had the privilege of working (briefly) with Stewart Baker several years back, and found him scary smart. In a ten-minute car ride across Washington, he not only understood ten years of telecom network design, but came up with an incredibly insightful approach to take in discussions with the FCC. Made me feel like a wet-behind-the-ears college freshman.