Saturday, February 09, 2008

Civilization forges on... and remains under threat

Surveillance is a two way street..

surveillance-two-wayWatching the Watchers: Why Surveillance Is a Two-Way Street: If governments and businesses can keep an eye on us in public spaces, we ought to be able to look back.

Meanwhile, the FBI is gearing up to create a massive computer database of people's physical characteristics, all part of an effort the bureau says to better identify criminals and terrorists.

What on Earth makes the civil libertarians think they can stop this trend, by trying to outlaw or regulate it? Are they really that stupid, to think that you can order back the tide? In ten years, not one of them has ever been able to cite a single example, from history, when top elites allowed themselves to be blinded. Fortunately, there is another approach... if anybody will listen...

The answer is sousveillance: We need to be able to look back. See my take on surveillance and sousveillance: Collected articles on Transparency.

Speaking of surveillance... "Aliens spying on us from another star system might be able to discern continents and oceans on our planet, using technology barely more advanced than our own."

Currently, the largest conventional wind turbines in the world produce only five megawatts of power. However, one large maglev wind turbine could generate one gigawatt of clean power, enough to supply energy to 750,000 homes. It would also increase generation capacity by 20% over conventional wind turbines and decrease operational costs by 50%. If that isn’t enough, the maglev wind turbines will be operational for about 500 years!

Speaking of which, Britain is to launch a huge expansion of offshore wind-power with plans for thousands of turbines in the North Sea, Irish Sea and around the coast of Scotland. The scheme could see turbines so large that they would reach 850ft into the sky.

An exceptional article about bizarre and tragic events at the edges of artificial intelligence research. (I knew one of these guys.) "Two AI Pioneers. Two Bizarre Suicides. What Really Happened?"

On the political front

Some of the most influential leaders of the space community are quietly working to offer the next U.S. president an alternative to President Bush's "vision for space exploration" -- one that would delete a lunar base and move instead toward manned missions to asteroids, starting in about 2025, along with a renewed emphasis on Earth environmental spacecraft. Dang, is sanity popping out all over?

The latest in a long series of fascinating articles by sexual-anthropologist David Buss has just come out: “Women Want It All: Good Genes, Economic Investment, Parenting Proclivities, and Emotional Commitment," in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.

Bill Gates and ex-Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi have donated a combined $30 million to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which will feature the largest digital camera ever constructed. Scientists say it will provide a "color movie" of the universe. The donation will go partly to the construction of LSST's three giant mirrors, which will enable it to survey more of the sky faster than any other telescope. With its three-billion pixel camera, the telescope will produce 30 terabytes of images that will be immediately available to the public online. (Comet and asteroid hunt from your home!) The LSST requires huge amounts of data processing. Project leaders estimate it will generate 1.2 gigabytes per second, which is orders of magnitude more data than the most data-intense astronomical application available today.

And a brief political remise...

Tell your favorite ostriches they won’t be alone! Barack + GOP = ‘Obamacans’ -Some prominent Republicans have caught Obama fever.

A fascinating article about John McCain in The American Conservative raises a number of points. Yes, the article does a good job of laying out many less-than-well-balanced aspects of the mercurial Arizona Senator and some disturbing inconsistencies. All important stuff and we can hope it will come out, and make a difference, come November.

And yet, what is the Agenda of TAC? They have managed to gloss over vastly far worse madnesses before this, more towering hypocricies and camel-loads of lies, perpetrated by monsters they happen to like. One should be aware that they are probably gunning for McCain not because of the crazy items mentioned, but because of his other half. The half that is NOT mad, or hypocritical. The part that is an honest American, willing to look past Culture War and negotiate with moderate Americans of all stripes. Talk about irony. Talk about hypocrisy.

An alert...

Veering to to a journal at the opposite end of the spectrum, but revealing matters just-as-worrisome -- have a look at InfraGard -- the FBI’s program to develop a quasi-secret network of private businesses that are shielded from normal transparency by trade secrets laws, to assist in guarding national infrastructure... and to get oligarchic privilieges, in return. Yes, the Progressive is lefty and biased. But the facts, alone, are utterly chilling.

It makes you wonder:

1) Are distractions like this the reason why the professionals of the FBI have let us down? Running around frantically obsessing on an amorphous “terrorist” foe that virtually doesn’t exist.... and to the extent that it does, is controlled by friends of the administration and is being pumped up, around the world by administration actions? Where are the smart professionals who should be following REAL leads... e.g. between domestic power brokers and genuinely hostile foreign powers? Doing insipid BS like this?

2) Just how much of this can the next president dismantle? Constituencies and agendas and terrible momentum have already built. Things like InfraGard cannot be dismantled without accusations of tearing down our defense.

These is a way to neutralize the threat WHILE keeping the aspects of these things that actually do some good. It is called transparency. KEEP all these new, paranoid endeavors. But strip them bare. Make clear that there is no need for levels of secrecy far higher than we had when the enemy was a powerful and insidious Soviet KGB! The very nature of the “terror threat” is one that is best countered with light. Secrecy is pointless, meaningless, counter productive, stupid.

Ah, but secrecy and paranoia are the objectives of this entire exercise. They are the goals, not the means.

And Finally...

The latest issue of Baen’s UNIVERSE MAGAZINE is out, containing two big items from yours truly -- Part Five of my comedic serial “The Ancient Ones”... plus a fast-paced, action novella “The Smartest Mob.” The latter is an excerpt from my novel in progress, another lavish, near-future exploration, like EARTH. This one is the best portrayal of rapid, tech-empowered citizen action that you’ll see, this side of Vernor Vinge! Subscribe to the top online magazine ever!

Now click to the coolest bit of urban theater. Will somebody please tell the organizers that it is an almost perfect rendition of a scene from my short story "Coexistence"  (in my collection River of Time).


ThoughtCriminal said...

The Maglev Wind Turbine is certainly intersting. I wonder how much a single-home version would cost?

Dave Rickey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Rickey said...

"InfraGard started in Cleveland back in 1996, when the private sector there cooperated with the FBI to investigate cyber threats."

Okay, that's particularly frightening. Both the timing and the location.

--Dave (gotten too used to BBCode)

Woozle said...

Dave Rickey: elaborate on frighteningness of timing and location? I'm curious.

Also... George Washington's Blog has a theory that Continuity of Government plans were put into effect on 9/11 and never lifted -- leaving the visible government essentially powerless and the real power controlled by operators hidden from sight (and immune to FOIA requests).

Which might explain a lot of the bizarre non-operation of the government (both parties) for the past 6 years or so... but are there other more plausible explanations?

sociotard said...

First, I know David Brin is fond of dolphins, so I thought I'd link to a recent article from Cracked, just to needle him. :)
"The 6 Cutest Animals That Can Still Destroy You"

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
It turns out they're sex-crazed thrill-killers. How's that for a plot twist?

For the last 17 years or so, marine biologists have begun paying a great deal of attention to dead baby dolphins and porpoises of all ages washing up ashore, and we quote, 'mangled in unexpected ways.'

The discovery that Bottlenose Dolphins were occasionally viciously reconfiguring their own children wasn't really all that much of a big deal. Humans are the only species on the planet that actually gives even a tiny shit about infanticide. It was what the dolphins were doing to the porpoises that entered the domain of the 'seriously f***ed-up'.

Thirteen-foot male Bottlenose Dolphins were hunting down porpoises, beating to death and then playing with their corpses, all for no readily apparent reason. At the time of this writing, the majority opinion of the marine science community was that this breathtakingly savage interspecies homicide is for--and this is Science, here--shits 'n' giggles.

Reports of ludicrously sexually aggressive dolphins attempting to rape human women abound from all over the globe. And in 1994, a male Bottlenose off the coast of San Paolo, Brazil, that was noted to be fond of female human swimmers attacked a pair of human males that the dolphin apparently considered to be competition ... and killed one of them.

Sure, some accounts say the man was drunk, and was actively trying to shove a stick into the dolphin's blowhole at the time. And several locals had apparently first tried to drag it out of the water so they could take a picture with it, maybe first dressing it up with a top hat and monocle.

In other news, a British reporter praises the use of camera-phones by proffesional journalists (yeah, you've read stuff like this before, feel free to ignore it.)

And last of all, have any of you seen 365 Tomorrows? Every day a short piece of speculative fiction. Very short. Short enough that you don't bemoan lost life span when the story isn't very good, and it's worth it for the times it is.

Tony Fisk said...

The maglev (and the 850 ft towers in the British proposal) remind me of another mega-idea put about a few years back to tap power from huge updrafts generated in km high towers in the outback (NS). The general response was that it would take some decades to recoup your carbon kharma from building one of those things! That said, the maglev project bears watching.

If a bunch of drunken, young 'fen thugs dragged me into the surf and proceeded to shove sea urchins up my nose, stick lurid sponges on my head and then take sonar images of the proceedings for their mates, I reckon it would probably do for me as well.

(Go, Ktha-jon!)

It has been found that delinquency in juvenile elephants has increased noticeably as family groups get disrupted through culling, poaching, war etc. (Again, NS)

So, it would be interesting to find out whether or not these sociopathic goings on showed any correlation with dolphin harvesting.

sociotard said...

So maybe "Delinquent Behavior" is an evolutionary adaptation for social mamals? That could actually make for an interesting study.

Posit that if an environment is sufficiently hostile to a population of social mammals that family groups become severly fractured, that group will respond by generating a population of extra aggressive delinquent males to try to push back.

Then compare notes for dolphins, wolves, elephants, humans and other social groups.

Tony Fisk said...

Well... the way you put your suggestion is interesting, but I'd put it the other way about, that fractured social structures denies individuals access to a proper 'moral' upbringing (if 'moral' is the right word here), so the result is a bit cockeyed.

Furthermore, the effects may carry on to future generations, so that bad parenting (from social upheaval) begets bad parents. It may take a while for the 'nature' part of a creature's morality to reassert the 'nurture' side of things, even if the environment improves.

Having demonstrated my lack of qualification in social psychology...

sociotard said...

Well, the question is whether delinquency is advantageous in certain situations. We've already estabilished that moral upbringing is very useful. could the opposit be true?

And I do agree with you that it is difficult for savagery to beget civility. History is our witness here.

Tony Fisk said...

I was thinking of the effects of a generation or two. I would suggest that savagery actually *does* beget civility over time (the lesson of history here is that we *have* a recorded history!). However, it may take time for civility to re-assert itself. It may also be because dysfunctional events tend to be relatively short lived. (I'll try and remember that when the Greenland icecap starts playing toboggans!)

Your notion of delinquency as a favourable adaptation in some circumstances is an interesting hypothesis (although I suspect anything could become favourable in the right circumstances)

sociotard said...

Well the first time there were savage people for, like, 20,000 years before they started makeing civilizations, and even then they were pretty savage. It could be that civilization is a happy fluke, not a ground state we will naturally gravitate towards.

Tony Fisk said...

Ah, but my point is that we keep gravitating towards a civilised state, repeatedly, and in parallel.

It depends, too, on what is meant by 'civilisation' and 'savagery'. The 'savages' that Cook encountered in New Holland actually had a pretty sophisticated and extended social network, if a little low-tech.

David Brin said...

Passing on an appraisal of the primaries (democratic) from Russ D.

The latest count of states won by popular vote in the Democratic primary process, plus the margin of victory:

Obama (19)

Idaho +62
Alaska +50
Kansas +48
Washington +37
Georgia +36
Nebraska +36
Colorado +35
Minnesota +35
South Carolina +32
North Dakota +24
Louisiana +21
Maine +18
Utah +18
Alabama +14
Delaware +10
Iowa +9
Connecticut +4
Missouri +1

Clinton (10)

Arkansas +43
Oklahoma +24
New York +17
Massachusetts +15
Tennessee +13
California +10
New Jersey +10
Arizona +9
Nevada +6
New Hampshire +3

Assuming Obama takes DC, Virginia and Maryland tomorrow, he will be 7-0 since Super Tuesday (8-0 if you include the Virgin Islands ). According to the AP’s calculations, Obama picked up 90 to Clinton ’s 60 this weekend. But for reasons that are unclear to me, that doesn’t reflect all the delegates at stake. According to the Obama campaign, they came out ahead 118 to 67 (for a net gain of 51), which makes more sense to me.

Obama should also do well the following Tuesday, February 19, with the caucus in Hawaii and the primary in Wisconsin .

This morning I heard a ridiculous segment on NPR’s Morning Edition where Juan Williams was noting with concern that Obama’s “base” is young people of all races and both sexes, well-educated people, white males and African-Americans. Hence, he is the “Black Candidate,” which is a Serious Problem. Huh?

As Kos notes:

One of the hilarious side-effects of every Obama victory is the spin from Clinton quarters and its surrogates and supporters explaining why said victories "don't matter".

Iowa didn't matter because it was a caucus state, and it's undemocratic. Same goes for every other caucus state including Maine . The only caucus state that mattered was Nevada .

Idaho, Kansas , Nebraska , North Dakota , Alaska , and Utah don't matter because they're small Red states that Democrats won't carry in November.

Alabama, Georgia , South Carolina , and Louisiana don't matter because they have black people. Expect the same spin out of DC this Tuesday. Black people don't apparently count.

Washington and Minnesota don't matter because they have educated white people.

In any case, Washington , Nebraska , and Louisiana didn't matter on Saturday because everyone expected Obama to win them anyway.

Virginia and Maryland , assuming they're won by Obama, will be a combination of the "black people" and "educated people" rationalizations. Throw a little of "Obama was expected to win anyway", and you've got the trifecta.

Illinois doesn't matter because that's Obama's home state. Expect the same spin when Obama wins Hawaii by double-digit margins in two weeks.

Missouri doesn't matter because Clinton sent out a press release claiming she won it.

Colorado was a caucus state, so that leaves Delaware and Connecticut . Those are the only two states that apparently matter, giving Hillary Clinton a commanding 10-2 lead among states that matter.

DB resumes: Actually, on Hillary's list, only four states "Matter" so it's 4-2. And the logic can be turned on its head. California, New York, Mass and NH are THE "gimme" states for the dems and can absolutely be taken for granted. It is where there's a very real chance to turn some states from red to blue -- especially in the legislatures and statehouses -- where the real potential power of an Obama candidacy becomes clear. We need to be much more militant and aggressive.

Again, HC cannot give us a blowout. A landslide. There's a chance that Obama... with some help from the GOP... could manage it.

Finally, paranoia time!

Yes, at attack on Iran is looking less likely. But that leaves the other big "surprise" possibility. A major terror attack. Much easier to impose, with a far smaller conspiracy, and a real potential election shaker.

We all need to create viral buzz about this possibility. Mention it. Cause others to mention it. Pre-alert folks that an attack that conveniently takes place during the election will be looked upon with great skepticism and with demands that the professionals investigate who benefits from such an event.

People who were... otherwise... destined to go to jail. Or at least, lose power.

The more this concept is mentioned and talked about, the more buzz, the greater the chance that it won't happen. It is a case where rumor-mongering may do a world of good.

David Brin said...


You guys believe Fox when they say the dems are being "torn apart by bitter internal strife?"

Dang, the tight hill-obam race could not have worked out better! VAST numbers are showing up at caucuses for the first time in their lives. Registration drives are booming. Young people are signing up. Donations are a torrent...

...and 90% of the money and ads and spoken words are aimed at the Bush era, not at the other dem.

Juts have a look at the highly-viraled Obama YouTube some "Yes We Can..."

And at this incredible diptych about McCain. (This you gotta see!)

Point is, none of this is wasted time or effort. So long as Hill&Bill remember the song of unity... and patronage... in August and kiss/makeup with the New Wave.

David Brin said...

While we're at it, my beuteous and talented web master, Beverly Price (co-manager of Armageddon Buffet!) has cued us in about "Republicans for Obama."

"You may not need to worry about selling Hillary to the Ostrich Republicans. Seems that some of them have raised their heads out of the sand and noticed... Barack. Seems it's trend... or a spin job people are just starting to believe.,8599,1680192,00.html,8599,1680192,00.html

"Plus: Keith Olbermann just mentioned it."

I want a blowout -- and that means winning many "red" states -- for lots of reasons. To force conservatives to recognize how they were betrayed "from within." To make them repudiate monster-conservatism, dogmatism, nastiness, theft and fanaticism in favor of the liberty-oriented version of Barry Goldwater. To show the world we are not terminally insane. To start the repairs and unleash the professionals. Many reasons.

But I have some ulterior motives, as well. If the GOP is routed out of many statehouses, and dems reverse gerrymandering in those states, then not ONLY will there be short term benefits in shattering the neocon/fundie madness. But the unexpected consequences will be delicious. Suddenly, it will be in GOP interest to attack gerrymandering!

Yes, they've been the worst sinners. Hypocrisy? Sure. But when it becomes an ISSUE... instead of a corrupt tacit agreement... then the nation will be able, at last, to focus on this crime, and solve it.

But first, it must be a blowout. Show this Re-boma-can stuff to your ostriches!

Anonymous said...

I was on the ground in Nevada for three days, Called registered Republicans there for a week.

In the precinct I helped canvas, 27 Republicans (and I know they were, the information on my canvass sheet was from registration rolls) out of 90 whose doors I knocked on agreed to Caucus for Senator Obama, and 23 of them actually showed up and did it, swinging it from 3-5 caucus Delegates Clintons favor to 5-3 caucus Delegates Obamas favor.

Republicans for Obama are no myth, and it's not "Limbaugh for Clinton" type support.

Get to know two dozen reasonably bright Republicans with moderately open minds, and ask if they would consider voting for Obama. I bet six say yes.

David Brin said...

Yowp. Anonymous reports from the battle front, humbling the rest of us with our own poor efforts. Big vibes of thanks.

Fact is, every ostrich who becomes an Obama caucuser has a huge ripple effect. There are no more-valuable converts

Anonymous said...


I should take exception to your concept of the Dems reversing gerrymandering (iirc, the Original Gerry was a Dem!). But I forget sometimes you write imaginative fiction.

I can't say that I am an Obama Republican. But I would rather see Obama the Dem standard bearer. It makes a McCain victory less likely, but lets at least give our poor long suffering Republic an election with clearer choices and less sleaze.

I have a measure of respect for Barack. His campaign has been run masterfully. But before I pull the lever I do hope its acceptable to closely evaluate his positions on a few issues.

I could go either way at this point.

An interesting year for the Democratic Process. Are the grass roots flipping off the party bosses, or are the emergence of the Obama and McCain insurgencies just something cooked up in the smoke filled back rooms?

Oh, my, now you have me doing it too!


Anonymous said...

Governor Gerry (of the word "gerrymander") was innocent of participating in gerrymandering. It was the state legislature that drew up the districts and forced the plan through, over his objections.

David Brin said...

My use of the word "reverse" was careless and any reading of the subsequent paragraph would make the meaning clear. I meant "reverse" as in doing the same thing, in the opposite direction. I fully expect if dems take over red states, they will take the outrageous GOP-favoring districts and make them almost as outrageously dem-leaning ones.

(Tacitus, are you actually going to claim that ANY other state had done this as tortuously and in as cheating a manner as Texas?)

The short term benefit (admitting my bias) would be to punish the GOP for spending 15 years doing everything in its power to ruin the United States of America. (Find me one exception.)

The long term advantage (explaining again) is that, finally, one party would be taking it completely in the chin from gerrymandering. The tacit agreement would be off the table. Suddenly, one party would see it in its interests to scream over it NATIONALLY. (Protesting one state at a time is pure hypocrisy.)

If that happens, just watch me back a Republican initiative! I will help go after the dems so fast it'll make your head spin. And if they dig in, we'll join in punishing them.

Anonymous said...

Re reading your post the meaning is clear.
I was distracted by some of your earlier comments on ending culture war.
So, the culture war will be over when the side you do not like is entirely crushed and punished for their deeds.
I can't exactly place the Texas redistricting on any particular scale of political chicanery. Stupid and partisan. Pretty 19th century. My home state of MN has its state capitol where it does because the bill authorizing a change went into the pocket of a legislator who then holed up in an "undisclosed location" playing poker and drinking with his cronies until the leg. session was over. They were more straightforward then, if no more honest.

Anonymous said...

Tacitus, I don't think anyone is going to hold your vote against you either way.

You may well find neither of the candidates has views or policies you agree with. That's ok, we don't all need to agree to get along.

Anyway, a rather handy link for Senator Obamas positions.

Loads of Community Service, Alternative Energy, Massive peace corps Expansion, youth volunteers getting tuition for Disater Response volunteer work and training, voluntary buy-in health care plan (takes no choices away), not a firm no to nuclear power, talking to our enemies, blowing open the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush Documents that are past their expiration date but Bush kept sealed anyway, massively scaling back no-bid contracting, better transition assistance from the military back to civilian life...

My only question is, does Dr. Brin KNOW he's advising Senator Obama, or does Senator Obama just read his blog? :)

I'm the most recent anon, too. I don't wanna sign up. Call me contrary.

I've never so much as donated to a campaign before. I do remember canvasing for Carter with my mom when I was six.

The caucus business got nasty enough that we had four people move to caucus for Obama with their Hillary shirts still on. I guess Palast doesn't want to report untill his next book.

The "poll workers" were all wearing Hillary shirts and gear (not allowed, although all of that is allowed in the Caucus room), they started trying to close doors at 11:00 when voters were allowed to show up till noon, they covered the registration/sign-in table with Hillary signs, they pre-marked every single preference card in the place for Clinton.... it goes on and on, I'm sure the KOS diaries are still up for anyone interested.

I wound up basically threatening to lay a guy out if he didn't stop pushing the Caucus Chair because he didn't like the numbers. The Caucus Chair was a 5'1" young lady...and FOR Hillary untill after the caucus.

In Los Angeles county, there was massive and widespread confusion over Decline To State ballots, with poll workers telling people they must NOT fill in the "Democratic" bubble if they wanted their vote to count.

The result was 97,000 DTS "undervotes". The county registrar, imported from Washington in late November of last year, refuses to count them.

He was basically run out of King County, WA, on a rail from the same job, after he said under oath that the election process just wasn't meant for tight races. His name's Dean Logan.

More on that at Courage Campaign if you want to check it out.

A CLINTON DTS voter showed up weds. morning as we were packing up at one of our offices after hearing about it on the news, crying and asking if there was anything we could do, since the Clinton campaign people she contacted had told her she should have been smart enough to read the instructions and ignore the poll worker.

In New Mexico, three boxes of ballots spent the night after Super Tuesday in the care of a New Mexico State Legislator who has publicly endorsed Clinton. It's ok, though, his wife was running the "caucus" (straw poll, not Iowa stand and deliver caucus) in those precincts.

Think about who the poll workers are when YOU vote, and who that age/gender demographic tends to support.

There is some serious bad blood, and this kind of thing is causing it to increase. 17% of Obama voters in Louisianna said they would never vote for Clinton in November.

I have had far too much faith in this system for far too long. The game is rigged far beyond SuperDelegates.

We need another McGovern style overhaul of the party nomination process.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and it's the birthday a certain lanky lawyer from Illinois.

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

"The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall our selves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history....No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation."

Anonymous said...

Also Darwin's birthday. Same day, same year.

I wish Obama wouldn't have a firm no to nuclear power. I'm not one of these smuggers who use environmentalists' opposition to nuclear power as a way of attacking global warming claims, and it's not a panacea, but a new generation of nuclear plants should be part of the mix.


You don't need a log in to post other than as "Anonymous."

Click the "Nickname:" selector and put in your name and an (optional) URL. The resulting post will have your name in the header. Much nicer and more accountable than "Anonymous."

My home page is an outdated mess so I generally point to a picture of my dog.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, I have stated repeatedly that I consider our present situation to be far, far beyond politics-as-usual. This fight we are in has NOTHING to do with right or left or conservative/liberal. It has to do with liberating America from the grip of a bona fide criminal gang.

Every day's news carries stories that - just that one day -- carry more scandal, secrecy, corruption and outright treason than has ever been proved to have happened in the Clinton, Bush Sr. and Reagan administrations, combined.

The mere fact that "conservatives" could have wallowed in conspiracy theories about Clinton... and today ignore Blackwater... proves that Freud was right about the delusional capability of the human mind.

Frankly, many republicans are hoping and wishing for their party's immolation, this November. Only if completely pounded, will enough conservatives wake up and do their duty -- the way democrats did in 1947 -- and admit "our side went mad." Then a process of repair might bring us back what was stolen, hijacked... a legitimate and honest party of conservatism.

Because you ALL know that I want one of those! I have savaged hypocrisies and dogmas of the silly left, quite often. I think I have cred there.

Jesse, thanks for those stories. I am sure that some Hillary supporters have their own grudges and resentments. Though I agree with your overall choice. (With reservations. I wish we knew more about Barack and pray he'll choose a very solid veep. Above all, I hope you are right about him reading my blog!)

I hope the bitterness among/between dems is less than you see in those caucus rooms. Hill&Bill will get a thousand patronage appointments to fill, if they play nice. I am sure they are practical enough to do that.

(That sounds cynical. But with 20,000 Bob Jones University shills to replace, none of us can begrudge is we return to a more normal level of patronage. Just so long as the professionals get dogmatist boot-heels taken off their necks.)

A crux: Hillary can at-most win a tough election. Obama might win big enough to let honest Republicans actually take back their party. I know some Republicans who are supporting him for precisely that reason.

Doug said...

Just voted today here in Virginia. After experiencing all the angst about people's votes being denied, people being mis-instructed, and other poll-worker abuses, I went ahead and volunteered to work the polls next time.

Should be interesting.

Acacia H. said...

So, Mr. Brin, who would you recommend as a potential running mate for Mr. Obama should sanity and intelligence derail the Clinton Royal Family?

I must say that I'm bemused by all the people who say that Obama is too "green" and "unseasoned" to be President and yet complain about the blatant corruption and cronyism going on in Washington politics at the moment. Let's face it... what we need is someone who hasn't been corrupted by the Politics As Usual system of getting things done. While I detest Kennedy and Kerry... I would definitely vote for Obama in a general election. If Clinton wins the Primary? I'll once again be writing in my dead brother's name... because even dead he'd do a better job.

McCain? Scares me. I mean, this is a "World War III" level of scared. I could easily see McCain continuing with the same level of military adventurism that Bush has used to more-than-decimate the U.S. military these past eight years.

Clinton? Well, let's see. Hasn't she had less elected legislative experience than Obama? "Everyone" (or at least the media) says Obama is too "green" to be president... but how many people point out that Hillary's rise to fame has been on her husband's coattails? What is her elected experience? Outside of a blatant attempt to become the first female President (which is the only reason she became a senator)?

It's time to get rid of the old guard. If Obama proves ineffectual, then in four years he'll be out. But sometimes... sometimes you have to take a chance. Sometimes you have to say "what the heck" and put that last coin in the slot machine, hoping that you'll come up with cherries. Or better.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

David Brin said...

Doug, you shame us! What a guy!

Everybody note his example. Consider volunteering for poll work, or some other duty that will help the system function.

Exit polling is another vital service (sometimes paid) that can help keep Diebold Shenanigens under control. (Another reason for a blowout election. The Diebold guys won't mess with us and risk jail, if they are gonna lose, anyway.)

Anyway, here's hoping Virginia and Maryland swing big enough to start us into a nice warm-down to Denver.

Robert, you seem a bit too intense. And cynical. I have known public servants who remained honest, despite gaining experience. Fact is, for all his sleazy-seeming, Clinton consistently acted to reduce secrecy and enhance systems of govt accountability. That is not the behavior of someone who is systematically corrupt. Moreover, a billion $ in witch hunts never proved a single allegation other than fibbing about nookie in a hallway.

I do NOT want the Clinton royals back, as my first choice, for a myriad reasons. But on any one-to-a-hundred scale they'd at least be in double digits. That's HUGE! Please do not turn distaste for them into a failure of pragmatism. Pragmatically, HC would hand us back our republic. All else is noise.

Yes, McCain is scary... but with about 30% of him that's actually stark... sane. It's that 30% that I am hoping will have some interesting effects, this year (more on this later) even while the other 70% helps make this a blowout.

Oh, Obama - McCain will ALSO scotch the nascent "Bloomberg Run" of that egotist's notion of a 3rd party run. And it would eviscerate Nader. All to the good. OTOH it might spur a rebellion on the right! Fine, Go to it, Coulter! I'll even send her money.

But Robert, we don't want a "big" election in 2012. That's the year of Nehemiah Scudder. If Obama gets in, he had better be and stay popular. Anyway, the GOP will need 8 years to rebuild.

Anonymous said...


Oddly we are close to agreement. I think Obama would be good for the GOP, even if he does them good by beating McCain.

There is a reason I find your conspiracy theories alarming, as opposed to your straight up fiction which I find entertaining.

IF, and its a big if, the Dems find a way to screw up and lose, I want to see them taking a serious look in the mirror rather than blaming Diebold, Rowe, etc.

You can think what you like about the GOP specifically, or the conservative world view generally. But after the significant trouncing in 2004 the Repubs have picked a more moderate voice. They just might be learning....

now back to the real world.

Tony Fisk said...

I agree with Howard. It is a time to get rid of the old guard.

The same criticisms being hurled about Obama's inexperience were being levelled at Rudd last year. They're valid concerns, yet Australia still decided to jump the conservative ship.

Can we swim?

Yesterday, Parliament opened to an indigenous welcoming ceremony. Today, a long overdue apology will be read out, and endorsed by both parties. All past living prime ministers (bar one, guess who?) will be present. It may only be a symbolic gesture, but at least the healing of old wounds has started.

Acacia H. said...

I refuse to believe in prophecy. They tend to become self-fulfilling... because of small-minded people who run around blindly believing in predestination (and this coming from a person who believes in magic).

2012 will be just another year. There will be births. There will be deaths. There will be wars. There will be diplomacy. And there will be endings. But it will not be the End. And the more people who refuse to believe in the blind superstition of Armageddon prophecies, the less likely someone will be able to spark one.

As for my cynicism... I see HC as the embodiment of the stagnation of government. It is time for a revolution... one that can actually be won without bloodshed. People have, for the longest time, given up on the government. They give up on voting. They feel they cannot make a difference.

Obama has actually shown people they can. If Obama gets into office, I could easily see in two years a swelling of neophytes of both the Democrat and Republican parties who decide "Obama made it. So can I. I can take my knowledge and my beliefs, and I can get into office and make a difference!" And in doing so, they can start to shake off the cobwebs that have filled every inch of our current government.

What do we get with HC? More of the same old same old. More back-office dealing and divisive politics and turning people on each other. More power-mongering for the sake of power. I refuse to be responsible for allowing that government to continue... and thus I will vote in protest by writing in a non-candidate rather than endorse the Republican candidates (as none of them were worth voting for in my opinion) or by endorsing HC.

Besides. You speak as if intensity is a bad thing. It begets passion. It begets interest. It forces us to act, to do more than sit back and accept what is being forced down our throats by the Bush Presidency. Many of us have been complacent far too long. Perhaps a bit of intensity is called for at this time.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, I appreciate that I have been sounding paranoid. I dislike it. But when the United States is spending 700 million dollars per DAY on a war that was based on felonious lies, has not clear objective and has weakened the United States in every conceivable way, you have to ask "Who has benefited?"

1) our enemies

2) the people GETTING most of the 700 million dollars per day. Hint, it ain't the troops.

Hey, when does the burden of proof shift to those, like you, who shrug? Republicans would have shrieked over a hundredth of a percent of this waste, had it happened on a democrat's watch. AND YOU KNOW IT.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg, friend. These are bad, bad men. Thieves at minimum. Traitors very likely. By all means SHOW us that it ain't so.

Start by showing ONE action of this cabal that has directly and unambiguously (!) benefited the United States of America.

Yes, Robert, I believe you when you say "I see HC as the embodiment of the stagnation of government." Alas, that speaks as much about your perception as about reality. Where Bill Clinton COULD act... in administration... the fed guv actually worked extremely well. Neutral auditors called it the best administration in US history. Barry Goldwater and Greenspan agreed.

But, yes, there was awful stagnation... because of culture war. Not their fault. But that actinic war would return under Hillary. Again, not much her fault. But avoiding culture war ought to be a top goal. Reason enough for Obama.

"Besides. You speak as if intensity is a bad thing. It begets passion."

Huh? Me? ;-)

Didn't I say this Ob-hill race is doing the nation a tonic of good? I have not seen this nation and young people so charged up since 1968.

Only then were were terrified. This is something else. It is wonderful. And when (God willing) Hillary loses the nomination, I plan to go hug several of her supporters.

Frankly, it is time to start praying for good running mates.

sociotard said...

Wasn't the Democratic-controlled legislature supposed to bring back accountability and transparency and all that stuff? Oh well, at least Obama voted on the right side.

Senate Protects Telecom Immunity in Spy Bill

The Senate voted today to preserve retroactive immunity from lawsuits for telecommunications companies that cooperated with a government eavesdropping program, decisively rejecting an amendment that would have stripped the provision from a bill to modernize an electronic surveillance law.

Seventeen Democrats and one independent joined 49 Republicans in voting against the Dodd-Feingold amendment. Among those voting with the majority was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the leading candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is battling for the Democratic nomination, voted in favor of the amendment. His chief rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), did not vote.

David Brin said...

One more ding on her. We have got a LOT to clean up.

Say, I wonder what kind of speech Lieberman will give at the GOP convention. Is he going to rant and froth, like Emperor Palpatine... I mean Zell Miller... did in 2004?

Anyone out there willing to speak up for Hillary? I notice I'm the only one defending her (partly).

In fact, I am the only one who has said nice things (variously) about McCain, Huckabee and Paul! Don't be shy.

Anonymous said...

I'll defend her after re-reading what I wrote last night.

The only voter abuse that can be directly tied to any paid staff in her campaign is the last minute effort to get voters to caucuses two hours early in in Nevada and close the doors early.

Even that, I have no reason to believe was something she personally authorized.

Another point of clarity from last night - Obama is NOT strongly "no nuke". He thinks Yucca mountain is unsafe, he wants a better storage solution, and he wants safer reactors than the last generation. He has said (can't find quotes right now) that Nuclear Power is worth subsidizing and encouraging IF it can be proven safer and cheaper than renewable.

On another booster note - Obama took Latino voters 53-47 tonight.

Rob Perkins said...

I learned it: Poll work is fun; I volunteered to be tally clerk in our precinct here in Washington.

I'll give you this sense of the Democrats, from that small, anecdotal sample:

1 -- Our vote mirrored the statewide Washington delegate count. A Clinton drubbing, two to one.

2 -- The tally sheet had a chart on the back for allocating county pledged delegates. The chart went up to 25 caucus attendees. 66 people were in attendance.

3 -- THREE OF US WERE MORMONS, reflecting the percentage of Mormons in the precinct. Take that, Utah...

4 -- There were Ostriches in attendance. Two people stood up during debate to warn that if Clinton were the nom, their rabid relatives would not stay home in November.

5 -- Outside the caucus the place was teeming with Obama supporters, helping out with voter registration. Clinton supporters were not to be found.

6 -- The feeling the Clinton supporters had can be best described as "resigned bemusement". Folks, I think they really don't understand why Obama appeals to people.

7 -- I'm going again. Woot! A forum where talking politics is not impolite, with real neighbors! What fun!

Dave Rickey said...

@ Woozle:

The reason the timing and location is disturbing is that the campaign to take over Ohio's voting apparatus, that culminated in the 2004 election (if you would like links to *why* I say that machinery is corrupt, I can provide them) started about 10 years earlier. So "1996 in Cleveland" for starting an organization that has organized itself like a subversive cell-built underground rather than a normal law enforcement auxiliary is troubling.

@ Those that think the Democrats are divided: Not yet, not even close. The levels of democrats expressing that they would be disatisfied if their candidate was not selected is a very low 1 in 7 to 1 in 10, depending on the state (it's going up as the contest drags on, but slowly).

At the other extreme, that same measure for the Republicans is 1 in 3 (1 in 2 for Huckabee voters).

As for why to be extremely fearful of the religious right and 2012, for that you have to enter tin-foil territory. But unlike most tin-foil conspiracy theories, this one was openly stated and *published* by the conspirators. R. J. Rushdoony is the philosphical patron saint of a movement referred to variously as "Christian Reconstructionism" or "Dominionism" (do an Amazon search on his name, he was quite prolific back in the 60's and 70's). Pat Robertson laid out specifics of how to first undermine and then permanently take over the US government in his book "The Secret Kingdom", and spoke quite freely about both methods and goals to that effect on his "700 Club" program back in the 80's. For a rather comprehensive overview check this site.

The scary part of that site is that even if you choose to give credence to only that material which is part of the public record or published in "respectable" outlets such as Harpers or The New York Times, you're left with more than enough to scare you shitless.

When you view Huckabee's destructive (to the Republican party) candidacy and campaign through that filter, and look ahead to 2012, you have to get very, very concerned. Unfortunately, you also have to come to the conclusion that speaking too openly about it will not only damage your credibility, but if you're correct could be very dangerous down the line.


Anonymous said...

Rob -

There is a bit of concern that people having already caucused may think they don't to vote on the 19th, or mail their ballots in.

Since the decision on whether or not to hold Michigan and or Florida caucuses is still up in the air, the result needs to pretty much match the caucus result, to prove caucuses are fair and they work.

Give a nudge to those friends and neighbors, and remind them to vote in the Primary too.

Dr. Brin

When you have time you should really look over that policy paper I linked. I wish it had a little more in terms of nuts and bolts about how he intends to accomplish certain things, but it seriously looks like your policy wish list, even down to creating a panel to decide whether to declassify documents without political interference.

I know you support Obama already and all, but it's borderline freaky ;)

Probably as much GMTA as anything, but still.

Woozle said...

Dave Rickey: links, by all means! :-) Not because I'm at all skeptical, but because I have places to put them...

On a slightly different thread, Dr.B's comment about spending $700M per day "on a war that was based on felonious lies", I thought I should report on the small melee I only now noticed, though it happened back on January 23:

A study was released (and I may have gotten the link from here, originally; can't remember) showing that Bush lied no less than 935 times in the wind-up to the Iraq war and concluding that they "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

No big surprise there, right? What was amazing was the outraged responses from the right... I've posted the whole thing here.

Acacia H. said...

Australia's apology to its aborigine peoples went out yesterday. One of my friends quoted the entire speech in her blog. I'm curious as to what Australia will do next, seeing as this was the "first step" in acknowledging the past misdeeds. And I have to wonder... I know the U.S. apologized to its black population for slavery... did it ever apologize to the Native American populations? To the Japanese who were tossed into concentration camps during WWII?

I can hear people complaining now, saying "it's in the past, it's not our fault, we didn't do these things, why do we have to apologize?" and once I used to say the same things. But I've realized something. You need to acknowledge the actions of the past and accept responsibility for them in order to keep them from happening again in some other form.

Though I could hear the Republicans screaming their heads off if Obama or Clinton apologized to the world for the actions of President Shrub's administration. ^^;; Those wounds are too new, too fresh. That's one apology that needs to wait for a little bit... if only to avoid a renewal of the Culture War. But there are other things that should be apologized for... and it's a good start.

Well played, Australia. Let's see if America can follow suit.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Acacia H. said...

And back to politics again... Hillary Clinton is now calling Texas and Ohio her best bet to stop Obama and gain primacy in the Democratic Primary. Unfortunately, Mrs. Clinton seems to have failed in examining history. Specifically: Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani believed he could derail the primaries through a decisive win in Florida and negate the inertia and momentum of the previous primaries.

It didn't work so well. Mr. Obama's campaign has built a considerable head of steam, and Mrs. Clinton is writing off Wisconsin as a probable loss as well. Mr. Obama has also had considerably more time to work his magic on the crowds in Texas and Ohio than he did during Super Tuesday. These factors along with recent turbulence within the Clinton Campaign Camp (with demotions and resignations of higher-ups) strongly suggest that the Clinton Campaign is going to fail in its objectives to win decisively in two key states... and perhaps not even win at all.

This leaves, of course, back-room dealing and winning via Superdelegates. If Mrs. Clinton pulls that hat-trick... then you'll see a significant Republican victory for '08 when all these young Americans who have been energized by Mr. Obama decide they've had enough and refuse to put a Washington Insider on her self-appointed throne.

Rob H.

Kelsey Gower said...

Good going Australia, now the real work can begin.

robert, I think it was Bill Clinton who formally apologized to the Japanese that were interned, and reparations were given out to victims or their relatives. But I don't believe any president has apologized to the entire Native American population. A governor might have apologized to a specific tribe of Native Americans sometime ago, but to all of them, no.

By the way, David, I do have some nice things to say about Hillary and some of the Republican candidates. I will have to get back to you after work though.

David Brin said...

Rob can I have that link again?

Just to viral a bit, let me remind people (and Barack, if he's reading this ;-) that I have a whole slew of unusual but potentially vital "suggestions" at:

--------Preparing for the worst----

My biggest suggestion right now (and expect to hear this repeated) is that democrats (especially Obama) should start laying down rhetorical points in case of a terror attack or other major disaster, between now and November.

Whether or not you have a penchant for conspiracy theories, a basic fact is that it would take something like that, to pull the Republicans' hash out of this fire they have made. It is vital for a mental and spiritual bulwark be established, to ensure that any such tragedy will not benefit those who brought America into this mess. Just a few basic talking points could provide that bulwark. Especially if someone like Barack Obama were to go on record that:

1) Urban America knows it is in the cross-hairs, and that "it is not a matter of if, but when" we will take another big hit. At one level, we are all citizens first.

2) In any event, we can be assured that the next victims will respond with the same resilience that was shown by citizens of New York, Washington, Boston and Pennsylvania, back on September 11, 2001, a day when empowered citizenship made all the difference.

3) The scandalous decline in U.S. readiness must be reversed. Bill Clinton left Bush 30 fully ready brigades, we now have none. The list goes on. It will be a campaign issue! But establishing the point early will make any summertime attack our issue, not theirs.

4) Even leaving out such specifics, some general, rhetorical riffs about "fear vs resilience" would give people across the nation a resonant feeling, that any sudden emergency will be yet another a reason to choose change, not a cause to cling to bad leadership.

It isn't too early to be saying these things, or to be erecting thoughts of firmness in the minds of our fellow citizens. Indeed, if these notions are erected, it may help to prevent such a dire event from happening, at all.

If you get my drift.

------ The importance of being caucused -----

I am really hoping that the dems will decide to hold fresh caucuses, in Michigan and Florida. It is by-far a better solution than either disenfranchising those states at the convention, or seating disputed delegates.

1) Spur-of-the-moment caucuses would be laborious, but not terribly onerous to hold. Especially in a year when volunteers can be had simply by opening a door.

2) All bitterness or fairness issues, leftover from the earlier disbarring of Ohio and Michigan results, would vanish. People in those states should be thrilled to be given a last-minute chance to be the most important deciders in a close race.

3) Who could turn down the chance to throw a vast "Democratic Party Festival" in two states that will be vital in November? In fact, the very pair that swung the last two presidential elections? What a fantastic opportunity! Just by throwing these caucuses... and letting independents come... Democrats could create unbeatable buzz and momentum, causing many independents to identify with the general movement... and incidentally benefiting candidates for state and local offices, too. Indeed, the caucuses needn't cost very much. This year? Simply ask the people of Florida and Ohio for donations to pay for it!

4) However much energy Hillary and Barack pour into organizing in those two states, both of the resulting volunteer pools would be available to serve as ground troops, when they are needed in November.

These advantages are simply overwhelming.

In contrast, the fact that Obama does better at caucuses may tempt Hillary to try to seat the earlier-selected, highly questionable delegations. This will be divisive and bitterly resented. Especially since there is an alternative, one that has a general correlation with fairness.

In fact, I think I am going to break with my once-per-week blog vow and post this at top level. It's important enough.

Acacia H. said...

Expanding upon a comment I made earlier, it appears that people are already challenging the incumbents in Primaries... and winning. The key? They are getting funding through people from other states who are donating via the internet. People are working to change how their party works in what is becoming a trans-state union. The Representative from Maryland will influence and have an effect on national and state policies in California (for example).

In the short term, this allows some shakeups in how politics are run. Incumbents are realizing that if they don't vote according to what their constituents desire, they will lose their jobs thanks to young upstarts with funding from concerned citizens out-of-state.

In the long term? If Obama gets in and galvanizes the political system, if we start seeing younger people suddenly taking an interest in politics, believing that they can make a difference? You will see numerous members of the Old Guard suddenly struggling to fight for their seats... and others who may have smelled the winds of change two years earlier and who defensively began voting on what their constituents want, rather than what they want.

Change is in the wind. Let's hope that the old guard doesn't take notice and consolidate its power behind the Clintons... and derail the possibility of progressive change in the government over the next four years.

Rob H.

Jumper said...

Cruithne Mission Now!

David Brin said...

A REQUEST FROM DAVID BRIN... regarding a minor matter

Tomorrow I meet with the graphics challenge people. I'd like to know if any of you out there:

1) have any further "favorite scenes" from my uplift universe ro suggest

2) might be able to find the page numbers of some favorite scenes? Not a biggie, I can search myself tonight. But it'd be a chance to flip down memory lane and save me some time. ;-)

* Fiben and Sylvie at the psi-fence, in the storm...

* The fractal world...

* Huck and Alvin take the submarine they've built...

* Any vivid scenes with Robert and Athaclena? Like when she asks about a Guerilla war?

Just a small favor. Sorry about the bold all caps!

Acacia H. said...

I kinda like the scene in Sundiver with the sunship in the midst of all the solar entities. There's just something... magical about the thought of these entities living in the sun's atmosphere, and of humanity (and aliens) visiting them...

Heck, it even inspired ideas of a science fiction story of the last of humanity hiding in the atmosphere of Sol after aliens annihilated the Earth. Someday I should continue that story germ... though I need to hammer out the physics behind it some more.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Athaclena and Benjamin above the Howletts Center when it is first gassed by the Gubru.

This scene has lots to recommend it. An alien, uplifted chimps, alien environment, HUGE spacecraft, organ jittering sound effects, lots of drama.

sociotard said...

"All the pretty little horses"

I had such an epic vision of that scene in my head when I read that line.

Matt DeBlass said...

Hillary wouldn't be a horrific president, nor would McCain be the worst we've ever had, but I still like Obama (so much so that I recently surrendered 14 years of "unaffiliated" status to vote in the N.J. Democratic primary).

One of my major objections to Hillary comes in the form of something that's not really entirely her fault: that weird "Hillary Irrationality Disorder" which makes a small but significant number of people violently dislike her.

As I've said before, we need to start making friends again, both domestically and abroad, and I think Obama's the best man for the job.

And, as far as experience goes, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both have exactly the same amount of experience with being president of the United States. None.
There was another article on defense contractors on the NY Times web site today, apparently a number of female employees have suffered sexual harassment and even rape in Iraq, and were basically cut off from seeking any sort of retribution.

(In the interest of disclosure, I know at least one defense contractor - a mercenary - personally, and I don't like the guy. He was given a bad conduct discharge from the Army, after a court martial and most of year in military prison and hired by a security firm shortly after his release for about six times what he made as an infantry sergeant.
I wasn't too keen on private guns to begin with, but my personal experience has been negative enough to turn it into something of a pet peeve.)

Acacia H. said...

I know of one former female contractor for CENTCOM who finally had it with the attitude of the military personnel there toward women and quit. She was staying in the job for her pension and insurance... but finally had had enough. Especially after they sent her to Iraq for a year.

The military itself needs a good shaking up to break this insidious mindset that can be downright prejudiced and anti-female at times.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

First off, a quick summary of possible scenes:

- Sundiver: Fagin reassuring a despairing Helen that many races do care very much about the fate of humanity (much of the book's tension derives from separating friend from foe).
- Sundiver: Jacob's showdown with the Pil ('I am sho shorry, Jashon', and so is Jason!)
- Uplift: the uplift ceremony (a hyperspatial shunt sounds pretty dramatic! Especially with an internal struggle against a pre-conditioned response going on)
- Uplift: the trap being sprung on the Gubru patrol cruiser

Oh, why not just animate the entire series? Because Lucas has got all the animators busy on Star Wars: the Missing Years, perhaps?


The recent apology concerned the forcible removal of aboriginal children from their natural families. It was, at the time, considered a compassionate act intended to salvage a few of a decadent and dying race. It reminds me of the final part of 'Childhood's End', and is, in retrospect, just as repellent.

Yes, Rudd's apology to stolen generations seemed to hit the right spot.

Unfortunately, opposition leader Brendan Nelson's response appeared to hit the wrong spot, and many listeners rejected it outright.

This was more a product of bad drafting than intent, I think (full thoughts here). However, he is now demanding an apology from Rudd over the reaction of two of his staffers (they turned their backs on him, along with a lot of other people. As professionals, they should not have acted so, and have already offered their own apologies.) Is Rudd responsible for their actions? Ah, but that was always the liberal excuse for not apologising! So the game is drawn out.

Simple response is to just apologise as requested and short circuit the whole petulant mess.

Culture wars! A tool for maintaining the status quo!

Rob Perkins said...

@Jester -- Of course we also sent in the beauty contest ballots, which is so easy in WA, just pop it in the mail.

As to Florida and Michigan, they should, at this stage of the game, not have their delegates seated. The only alternative which would be even halfway fair to candidates who signed those solidarity pledges would be to have the states caucus in late July, giving Obama the opportunity to campaign there.

But, for best results, let's acknowledge that the long Primary season is insane, and get the Congress to pass some legislation constraining caucuses and primaries to the second half of the calendar year. No votes before July 1.

If there have to be earlier water-testing States, those roles should rotate, with each party choosing one large state, one midsize state, and one small state to be first.

Anonymous said...

Florida and Michigan should have their delegates seated. They should be added in on May 21st. Their efforts to break in line should put them at the back of it. I think it is very un-Democratic to completely remove their voice because you disapprove of them.

Rob Perkins said...

@David, what link was that? Something I sent in email to you?

I forwarded the last link I sent to your email.

Regarding scenes...

-- Streaker, coated with carbon filament, dodging in and out of the various levels of hyperspace, from _Heaven's Reach_

-- The Fractal World coming apart, the meme-battle around Streaker, the dross buildup around a Transcendent's star, all kinds of things come from that book.

Sorry I can't find page numbers; my Brin books are all loaned out, apparently to family members who don't return books.

David Brin said...

Thanks for the scenes. Anyof you who want to page flip this evening... please supply page numbers! ;-)

I agree overall that an agreement should re-set the whole primary process into a sane fashion... leaving Iowa and NH to have their fun, by a week. But CVongree isn't the best venue for this. Guv Arnold... or Spitzer... or some other eager guv... should call a meeting. I've said it before. states can meet and agree to solve many problems, simply by consensus!

If the US federal govt remains ineffectual, they may have to.

Yes, the Australian national apology is important. I'd like to see one by the US toward all native peoples... before the waters get too muddied by gambling....

Rob Perkins said...

What they're doing *now* is not relevant to the abuse they took then. Had we treated the First Nations with any degree of respect back in the 19th Century, I doubt they would be trying to foment gambling addictions today. We reap what we sow.

I think the Union could effectively and publicly regret the treaty-breaking and forced relocation marches, while also opposing modern activity which doesn't work to the overall good, and especially doesn't work to the long term good of any tribe which builds a casino.

I mean, really, we're a creative people: Isn't there a way to get the fun parts of gambling, without the debilitating parts? Don't we call those places "Amusement Parks," which promote games of skill (sort of) rather than just the dumb-luck ability to yank a high-priced lever?

That is to say, why couldn't the tribes erect something like Disneyland, which in its earliest form was a highly refined form of infotainment and edu-gaming, instead of stuff as divisive as a gambling venue?

Rob Perkins said...

Re primary season:

I doubt we'd need to get governors involved. Howard Dean, for all his "screaming", is turning out to be an effective and smart DNC Chair, isn't he?

If Mike Duncan is half as effective, it ought to be possible for those two to sit down together, hammer out a plan, marshal a few effective state committees, along with some smart governors and force the issue.

Oh, and the RNC needs to kill the winner-take-all nonsense dead after this election.

David Brin said...

Rob you assume the RNC has good intentions. Probably some there sincerely do. But till the GOP has its Great Upheaval, we won't have a clue where the elephant is headed. Or even if it will emerge from the ICU.

Anonymous said...

(Zorgon the Malevolent. Logon FUBAR.)

Yowie zowie! Cavitronics redux, a la Earth???

Rob Perkins said...

@David, touche. I suppose the national convention may begin to tell the tale.

Kelsey Gower said...

Ok, in the spirit of bipartisanship, I promised to say something nice about the candidates. Let's start,

Hillary Clinton. I'm rooting for Obama to win the primary and the election. But I will not overlook the best thing she has done by running for president. She has become the first female frontrunner for president, and she has gotten people to start seriously considering the idea of a woman as president of the United States. That's big, especially since we now live a country that can no longer afford to overlook 50% of the population when trying to find the best candidate for president.

Unfortunately, Clinton does not represent the change this country needs right now. She can't end this Culture War. But she has opened the door for a future great president who just happens to be a woman, and that means a lot to me. It really does.

John Edward. I wish he could have stayed in longer to make his policies heard. He does a good job of portraying the frustrations of people living in poverty and the working poor. He focused on problems the US faces domestically. However, when he talks about two Americas, he seems to have more of an Us vs Them mentality rather than working hard for the unity America needs right now.

Dennis Kucinich. I'm still kind of angry he wasn't able to stay in longer. I remember him being written off as some extreme leftist during the debates early on. His opinions were largely ignored though they shouldn't have been. And... gah, I'm still a bit bitter about that. I'm just going to move on to the Republicans.

I agree with David that watching the Republican primary is now more interesting than the Democratic one right now. Republicans are having a tough time keeping their party from splitting apart. It all depends on whether they will be able to get rid of the monsters from within their party and find some sane conservative civil servants to lead. This will require a massive shake-up, and anyone who takes on this task will have earned my respect. I hope they succeed.

John McCain. Is it too late for him to call out and discredit those in the Bush administration who wronged him back in 2000? I fear it is. He is in the best position right now to expose the monsters in his party and give the Republicans a fresh start. I don't know how he could be convinced to do this. The most I could do is make sure that he wouldn't have to face the neocon smears alone if he did.

Mike Huckabee. I find him the most interesting candidate, most of all because quite a few members of my family are supporting him. He embodies what I most like and dislike about evangelical Christians. If anyone out there has never met one face to face I'll tell you this: They are the most outgoing and friendly people you will ever met. They are active listeners and are genuinely interested in what you have to say. They are usually educated and like to learn new things. I love them. That being said, I hate their extremist beliefs.

I do like how Huckabee has been having fun with Stephen Colbert on his show. Unlike other Republican candidates, he seems to get how influential young voters could be if they'd just reach out to them.

As for Ron Paul, the biggest problem I saw with him is he just couldn't communicate his ideas effectively during debates. He couldn't fend off his opponents attacks on him. During one of the Republican debates, I remember him being made fun of as a nut (by Romney of all people) because he mentioned something about what Mahmoud Ahmedinijad was saying about the US. I wish Ron Paul would respond by saying something about "keeping your enemies closer," or something like that, but he never did. I kind of got fed up with the Republican debates after that because Paul was usually the only one answering the questions, but no one ever asked him anything anyways.

I would like others to say something nice about these guys too. This country can't afford us to continue being partisan.

Anonymous said...


Liking or not liking results shouldn't have anything to do with how we deal with Florida and Michigan Delegates.

Hundreds of thousands did not vote in Florida, becaue they were told their votes wouldn't count. Told by the people who were supposed to know. Hundreds of thousands more did not fully inform themselves and take their vote seriously, because they did not think it would matter.

In Michigan, only one major and one minor candidate were on the ballot. One candidate "elections" are, I'm sorry to say, straight out of the Soviet Union. 40% of the people in that state, believing their vote counted for nothing, still went through the trouble to register and vote "Dear god, please, not Hillary".

How do you apportion the "please, not Hillary" Delegates? What about the tens of thousands in Michigan whose write-in votes where never counted?

Once the Washington State Primary result comes in on the 19th, and it's clear to everyone that Caucuses *do* reflect the will of the people, we can throw caucuses for Michigan and Florida. I'll donate what little I can to help fund it.

Senator Clinton will almost certainly STILL win Florida. It's loaded with her strongest Demographics. That's fine. But let's have a fair process.

Let them Caucus one week before Puerto Rico votes.

Acacia H. said...

Actually, I'm not sure if Mrs. Clinton would win Florida or not at this juncture. If it was held at this second, I am willing to bet it would be a hotly contested race. If it is held after Texas and Ohio... and if Mr. Obama beats expectations and either ties or wins those states... then a Florida Caucus, caught up in the momentum, might swing for Obama. And this is something Clinton wants to avoid at all costs. So she'll resist with every last ounce of her being allowing the tossed-out Primaries to be redone as Caucuses.

I suspect she would rather wave a little flag and claim her election was stolen than admit that someone defeated her fair and share. I might be wrong. But the Clinton pride is a powerful thing... and I very much doubt that Mrs. Clinton's honest thoughts for Mr. Obama are charitable.

Of course, I do admit that I have a blind spot when it comes to the Clintons... just chalk me up as one of those irrational Clinton haters (though equal opportunity - I absolutely despise the Shrub because he had the audacity to be a worse person (and President) than Bill Clinton was).

Heh. No wonder Mr. Brin sees me as a cynic. ^^;;

Anonymous said...

Oh, the results of the too early primaries would have to be invalidated. The lack of all the candidates and the fact that it was taken before the appointed hour lead to this. I would simply say that any Caucus or Primary taken after May 20st would be considered valid if it met the normal standards for notice and including everyone it should.

I'd scrap the whole system and have all 50 states vote in 3 tiers. 2-3 weeks of debate -> Vote 1 (all 8* candidates) -> Eliminate all candidates who didn't get 5%-> 2-3 weeks of debate -> Vote 2 -> Eliminate all candidates who didn't get 20% of the vote -> Vote 3 -> The party representative.

I haven't really studied elections much, but I like the idea of everyone being able to refine their vote as a national consensus is formed.


Regarding Hillary vs Obama. I'm of the opinion that it will take years of work to clean up the damage that has been done by the current administration. There will many things that have to be done which will be 'made' unpopular by the Neocons. I understand some wanting Obama for that hope/change stuff but we should realize that people that rally for that call alone aren't prepared for the changes that we need to start making.

I say let Hillary take the office for the next term and be crucified for things that 'have' to be done. Then let Obama come in and do some real change. Restoring sanity to the government is going to be a loveless job as far as the uneducated masses are concerned.

I may be underestimating what 'any' Democratic candidate may be able to do, but I also think that anyone that believes the Neocons will be ineffective in their attacks on the next President aren't being realistic.

Anonymous said...

Replacing a pack of Bush Cronies with Clinton Cronies certainly wouldn't be a downward move, but in a lot of areas, it would be lateral.

The ammount of bad blood in four years if Clinton wins the Presidency is going to make it impossible for any Democrat to take the office, and there is no chance that she would pass on seeking the nomination again.

If Clinton gets the nod, it's two terms, or a Republican in four years. I'm not sure which is more likely.

Stuart said...

There are a lot of parallels between the next Democratic presidency and Jimmy Carter's. Jimmy Carter was also a responsible Democrat who followed a notably corrupt Republican* and had to clean up the aftermath of an expensive and unpopular war. I hope that the next Democrat will learn from Jimmy Carter's experience, and avoid being limited to one term as an unpopular president followed by an irresponsible (and popular) Republican.

Not only was Jimmy Carter unpopular, but the history of his presidency has been rewritten so completely that I grew up thinking he was a bad president, when research shows him to be among the most fiscally responsible presidents in history.

*I'm referring to Nixon. Technically he followed Ford, but he was the first elected president after Nixon.

Acacia H. said...

Part of President Carter's problem was that he did not have allies in the Democratic Congress. So he was trying to push through legislation without any assistance at all. Mr. Obama has the benefit of a Congress that is uniting behind him. If Mrs. Clinton loses and does the right thing and unifies behind him rather stab his administration in the back, then Mr. Obama should be a fairly effective president.

Things are going to get nasty though. Mrs. Clinton is determined to be President... and is dragging out the big guns. Expect muckslinging to start, and for Mrs. Clinton to say "if he can't take it, he shouldn't be the Democratic Candidate" should Mr. Obama complain.

If Mr. Obama manages to maintain the moral high ground and not sling muck back, then we may very well see the self-destruction of the Clinton Campaign (as a number of people seriously dislike negative campaigns) and the McCain camp staying away from the muckslinging as well. Who knows... we could actually end up with a clean and respectful General Presidential Election...

Yeah, I know, I'm dreaming. ^^;;

Rob H.

Acacia H. said...

BTW... am I the only one to see the irony of Mrs. Clinton giving a speech that derides Mr. Obama's speeches? How is her campaign different in this regard? Does she not also offer empty promises and hollow platitudes? This is a stone thrown from one glass house to the next, in the middle of a field of rocks.

David Brin said...

Robert, I appreciate your visceral dislike of the Clintons. It's infectious. But there comes a time when any honest person has to answer the challenge to "put up or shut up." After a billion dollars in varied investigations, across 12 years, have turned up not a single scintilla of credible evidence of ANY wrongdoing having to do with actual office, it is time to admit that the Ptolemaic, er Steady State, er Lamarckian theory that Clinton-bashers so devoutly WANT to be true... NOT true. For all their faults, they earnestly reduced secrecy and increased accountability. Not the behavior of people with corrupt aims. And no corruption was ever found, of any kind, whatsoever. Live with it. Admit the Earth goes around the sun.

The reasons to not want her to be the dem-nominee are numerous, but they have little to do with how she would actually try to function with the powers of the office. The biggest reason is that she (and we) would be stymied and tormented and pummelled by endless Culture War. Who the hell needs that?

But even so, she'd accomplish goal number one. Her appointees would only be 5% political hacks instead of 100%. Many of the 95% would be promoted from WITHIN the civil service and the officer corps. Whistle blowers would get to speak up. The FBI and CIA would be encouraged to find the puppet strings. (Well, Hillary may have a few of her own. Just to be safe, vote Obama.) JUST THIS ALONE would make her a savior worth fighting for.

dmon said...

I've been lurkreading this blog for a few weeks now, and have a thought to spill out on the keyboard/share.

Gary Hart got me thinking. We're witnessing the most turbulent times in at least a half a century, wars, widespread distrust, apparent impending disaster on many fronts. Gnashing of teeth. And along comes an unlikely guy, Obama, poised to step in and (we hope) save the day.

My thought is: is this what a Seldon Crisis feels like?

(DB, re scenes, Streaker shedding the cloak of Thennanin hull, dumping its water cargo and blasting off to the transfer point is one of my faves.)

Acacia H. said...

Actually, Mr. Brin, I fully admit that my intense dislike of the Clinton Clan is irrational. It is not based on policy (though I did dislike Mr. Clinton's tendency to rattle sabers at Iraq whenever the media got too close to his own skeletons and personal issues... and still shake my head at how the movie "Wag the Dog" seems like a documentary instead of a work of fiction). It is based on personality. I do not like the personalities of either President or Hillary Clinton.

It's also based on intuition, something I trust. My gut feeling is that a Clinton Presidency is not a good thing. It won't be nearly as bad as a McCain Presidency... but it will be a remarkable failure to take a much-needed chance... and step away from a culture of corruption and power-grabbing that has existed for much of our country's history. Let's face it. Our government is corrupt and has a tendency to have some truly despicable people at the reins of power. But every so often we have someone stand out, stand above the crowd and show us how to move forward. I have my reservations about Mr. Obama. But he's the last best choice we've got... and perhaps the absolute best choice we've had for over half a century.

I don't want to see this country blow it and step back into the shadows of partisanship and looking out for oneself instead of for others.


I've been toying with the idea of who would make a good running mate for the Democratic candidate. An Obama/Clinton ticket is right out (with either candidate as the presidential candidate). I believe there's a bit too much ill-will there. And it would also have all of the negatives of both candidates and few of the positives. It would galvanize the Republicans against them and it might dishearten the young people who believe Mr. Obama stands for change.

I'm not sure if Mr. Edwards would make a good running mate or not. It would strengthen Mr. Obama, perhaps more than Mrs. Clinton. But he has interests of his own and might decide to follow Mr. Gore's route of an independent crusader for change, working outside the political system.

An absolutely whimsical idea (and one I'm not sure is constitutional or not... I know that you need to be born a U.S. citizen to run for president, but for VP?) would be Obama/Schwarzenegger. For some reason that just amuses me to no end.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to contribute to the list of notable scenes from the Uplift books, if I may:
The ring of battle debris around Saturn.
The Egg on Jijo.
Pretty much any scene from the asteroid base that housed the Institute of Navigation.
The submersible with that group of four or five friends in Jijo's ocean.
Creidiki talking to the Whale Gods.
The Thennanin envoy communing with that squirrel-thing on Garth.

David Brin said...

I've stated before my wish for a VP nominee who can look McCain in the eye from the position of military/defense/security affairs...

...while giving this youth movement a sense of "adult supervision." While supplying badly-needed intenational diplomacy credentials and experience at administration.

There's a very limited list of names who can supply those traits, WHILE having proved already to be a Democratic Party stalwart and loyal team player.

In fact, I can think of only one name. And it's a guy who can blow away any right wing-nut they put up against him, in the VP debates.


Andew Love wrote in with the name of that short story showing that the names of the characters in World War II prove it must have been fictional. "Letter from a Higher Critic" by Stewart Robb

Anybody have access to the story itself?

Tony Fisk said...

Since the VP steps into the president's shoes in the event of incapacity etc, I would say they need to have the same basic qualifications (ie native US citizenship)

It strikes me as a dumb requirement, though.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Vice President has the same qualifications as the President: must be a natural born citizen of the U.S. over the age of 36. Governor Arnie does not qualify.
And I wouldn't want a VP for anyone that would encourage the assassination of the President by any groups.

As for Senator Obama's choice for VP, I'd like to point out that I am a natural born citizen, a retired military man, and a veteran of Desert Shield/Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Liberation... "I'm tanned, fit, and ready!"

Tony Fisk said...

But are you a general, HH? ;-)

Meanwhile, an intriguing development on the open source front:

SCO announces reorganisation.

To summarise and cherry pick the Groklaw report:
- SCNP & 'partners from the Middle East' are investing $100m into SCO which, among other things, will allow it to reorganise and 'enable the company to see SCO's legal claims through to their full conclusion.' (ie kill Linux)
- 'partners from the Middle East' appears to refer to 'Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Al Saud of Kingdom Holding Company'.
- 'Gates and Alwaleed have collaborated for at least two years. ... to explore ways to assist Microsoft's expansion in Saudi Arabia.

How interesting.

David Brin said...

Hawker, run for Congress! Or state assembly. Or find a buddy who has your background but seems up to it. Help him drive a stake into the heart of some gerried GOP district.

Here's an example. If only the dems had found two hundred of these guys!

David Brin said...

Heck, let me post a little bio-section about Wes Clark. Look at this list of posts and tell me he doesn't have a whole slew of experience that'd pair up nicely with either democrat.

A graduate of the National War College and, later, an assistant professor at West Point, he trained officers and soldiers in the 1970s and 1980s. He also worked as a White House fellow and a special assistant to the Office of Management and Budget.

During the Persian Gulf War, Clark was the commanding general of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. From 1992 to 1994, he commanded the 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas, and conducted three emergency deployments to Kuwait.

He served as the senior U.S. military member of the team that put together the 1995 Dayton, Ohio, peace accord, giving him an inside look at the tumultuous Balkans region.

From 1996 to 1997, Clark headed U.S. Southern Command in Panama, where he oversaw U.S. security policy in Latin America.

In July 1997, Clinton appointed his fellow Arkansan as the commander in chief of the U.S. European Command, and Clark became NATO's supreme allied commander, where he again was immersed in the ongoing conflict in the Balkans.

He led NATO's successful 11-week air campaign against Yugoslavia, which was aimed at halting the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Clark pushed for a more aggressive assault and reportedly urged the Pentagon to allow him to plan a ground invasion of Kosovo if the airstrikes failed.

Anonymous said...

Chris Carney is a PA Rep., still in the Reserve, with 24 years of military service. Very popular at home, and might help secure a swing state.

Patrick Murphy is from PA too, and he served in Bosnia and Iraq with the 82nd airborne as a Captain. He flipped a red district blue in a tight race.

Joe Sestak is a PA Dem who flipped a red district, and was a Navy Vice-Admiral who commanded naval forces in the Gulf as recently as 2004.

Jim Webb would be a wet dream of a VP. He can deliver Virginia, (which would be huge for the Party). Served in 'Nam, was Reagans Secretary of the Navy, and his son has done tours in Iraq and Afgahnistan. He's a converted moderate Republican, fiercly anti-PNAC. Only a pick for Obama, of course.

He's younger and far more vital than Clark, knows how to campaign, gives a hell of a stump speech, and projects a great mix of vitality, competence, passion, authority, and strength.

The kicker is, VA. has a Democratic Governor to appoint a Democratic Senate replacement for him.

Even better, being from VA provides appeal in neighboring States, and there is NO "North-Eastern Establishment Elite" knee-jerk hatred to deal with.

I understand that you're a big Clark Fan, Dr.Brin, and I think he's on Clintons short list, but he is...a very close friend and ally of the Clintons. There's also the "almost fired on the Russians" meme out there, and he's not a very effective speechifier or debater.

He would make a GREAT Sec-Def.

There is only one female vet in our entire Congress...and if I remember correctly, she's going down this year. Oh yeah, and she's Republican.

If McCain gives a woman a nod, and I still think he might, then gender identity politics becomes an issue, even more than ussual since the Hillary camp is *SO* stirred up to "put a woman in the white house". It's disturbing to read comments on her campaign blog, since about every fourth post is "Our First Woman President!" or some variant thereof.

What's scarier is that comments there require moderator approval, and those on Obamas blogs don't. "First black president!" type comments are about one in fifty on his site, despite the lack of censorship.

Moderators there are about as tolerant as you are Dr.Brin...which means they only delete the unbelievably crude and obscene stuff if they get several reports. No "message control".

Anonymous said...

Well, running for office is on my list of 'things to do'. But real life interferes. I'm so busy raising kids and making a living that I can't take time off to campaign for someone else, much less myself.

My military resume is that of a enlisted man, not an officer. On top of that, Navy enlisted men (except for SEALs) tend to be 'part of the team', and not show up as leaders/heroes. Look at the movies! War movies about the Navy are either dramas about the officers, or comedies about enlisted men on liberty. Army war movies cover the spectrum, with movies about generals (Patton) and enlisted men (To Hell and Back) and mixes of both (The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan).

David Brin said...

First in our simmering dispute over who is the "puppet master":

Then there is the triptych (so far) of Obama videos. The first one "Yes I can"

And then "Yes, McCain?"

and finally, "No, you can't."

Re the Electoral College, you might enjoy my own rant about this, pushing almost the same concept for many years:

In fact, this is one of my perennials. Hold on and I'll post also my quadrennial "why the candidates should stipulate" piece. This year, it's needed more than ever.

Re McCain choosing a woman? Who? Anne Coulter? Oh! If only. But then buy life insurance for McC and triple the Secret Service.

Hawker, MEN OF HONOR was about Navy petty officers. A navy corpsman was featured in FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. U-235 was mixed. But yes I get your point.

See my own point in STAR WARS ON TRIAL about how Star Trek uses a Naval motif, and thus emphasizes teamwork and civilization, while the Air Force motif in Star Wars hearkens to the knight and his charger & his squire, and civilization is idiotic.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot about the fact that the USMC uses navy corpman... and dentalmen, and doctors, and nurses, and lawyers, and chaplains, and...
(Marines are very efficient: they're all warriors, because the Navy provides the support services)

I own a autographed copy of Star Wars on Trial, autographed by you in fact... "Mysterious Galaxies" bookstores had it. Too bad I missed the booksigning session, I'd have introduced myself.

Star Wars: far right republican gun nuts vs. oppressive government.
Star Trek: socialist democrat peaceniks vs. USSR/PRC stand ins.
(Original series. Next Generation has different enemy metaphors.)