Saturday, September 15, 2012

The New Modernism: Blending Science, Engineering, Art, and Human Imagination

INTRO:  On September 14, 2012, I served as the guest speaker at the grand opening and dedication of the new Structural/ Materials Engineering Building at UC San Diego (UCSD).  Present also and offering remarks were Frieder Seible, Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering; Pradeep Khosla, the new Chancellor of UCSD; Nathan Fletcher, State Assemblyman; Seth Lerer, dean of UCSD's Division of Arts and Humanities; and Karl Beucke, President of Weimar's famed Bauhaus University. Also present: Irwin Jacobs, founder of Qualcomm and benefactor of the Jacobs School, Bob Akins, my old office mate in graduate school and a founder of Cymer Corp. A video of my talk is available.

The new building is a marvel. Many afterward asked if I would publish my speech.  I hadn't intended to!  But fortunately, my notes were easy to transcribe. So here it is.

The New Modernism: Blending science, engineering, art, and human imagination

Deans Seible and Lerer ... Chancellor Khosla... Assemblyman  Fletcher.. distinguished guests from the Bauhaus,  faculty, students and friends. It's a great honor to speak at the dedication of the latest wonder here at UC San Diego.  The mammoth and magnificent Structural & Materials Engineering Building whose every trait and design feature should help unleash the creativity of those who work within.

Built by the people of this state, with help from generous donors, it represents a major investment in the future of the University of California system, a system which I deem to be one of the diadems in the crown of human civilization.

Here you'll find the new home for endeavors ranging from the ultra-small up to macro and even mega scales.  Problem-solvers within these walls will send robots into the bloodstream and mysterious, non-linear realms within the cell. New work in fluidics, materials and battery storage systems will help us tackle vexing energy problems, extending efficient sufficiency to many of the world's rising poor and helping sustain a planet-wide middle class.

Here, researchers will test the stability of the Earth and strengthen the structures that we plant upon it. They'll innovate and improve the vehicles that carry us across and under the seas, or into the sky and space.

The composites  that make up our vehicles, aircraft and sporting equipment will grow stronger and lighter, and save vast amounts of energy while making us safer. Some will be capable of activity, flexing like muscle or re-shaping themselves, on command. They might also serve as substrates for embedded computational elements, so that the phrase "smart materials" will take on new meaning.

It will be an amazing world when your shoes, your shirt and your dinner plate all actively compute according to your stated desires, responding to your will, learning to serve you with the same graceful assurance that you now expect, when you command the fingers of your hand.

And yet another group will operate within these fascinating walls.  The Medical Devices department will continue UCSD's tradition of finding ways to overcome illness, debilitating handicaps and even some of the limitations placed on us by evolution.

But I want to remark on another milestone.  It is fifty years since the great philosopher C.P. Snow gave his famous address lamenting how the academic world had divided into "two cultures" - one scientific and the other consisting of the arts, the humanities and so on.

Both realms attract great minds! Yet, Snow appraised how these worlds of discourse appeared to speak different languages, parse different logics and view reality in fundamentally incompatible ways.

Academic "scholarship" in the humanities and arts seemed to view Truth with a rear-view mirror of citation, reputation and precedence, in a tradition going back millennia.

Science took a very different approach, in which fame or reputation could be trumped or overcome by fresh facts. In this new culture, every assertion was viewed as contingent, requiring perpetual re-evaluation through criticism and scrutiny by the next experiment.  Then the next.

And yet, this contingency did not led to murky chaos, but to ever-rising confidence in an ever-growing model of the world.

Science distrusted the squishiness of subjective intuition or reasoning.  In return, those who dwelled across campus saw scientists as "boffins" obsessed with merely solid things, bereft of vision or soul.

Underlying this divide was the noxious notion that limited so many of our ancestors... the Zero Sum Game... the assumption that you cannot achieve new powers without abandoning or losing something else. Perhaps something precious. And make no mistake, this way of thinking dominated nearly all human cultures, leading to the banal and stifling logic of feudalism.

One might even envision the great Enlightenment Project -- with its creative markets, science, democracy and so on -- as boiling down to one thing, a rebellion against Zero Sum thinking. A two century campaign to become more than just the sum of our small victories and individual defeats.

Snow despaired over these two cultures ever crossing their divide, though he hoped that it would happen somehow... someday...

...and behold! Look around you now.  It is here, at UCSD... situated in the "bottom left corner of the continent," where anything loose can roll into a wondrous pile... that the dream is coming true, at last.  Where members of both academic cultures want it to come true.

For here, in this marvelous new SME building, fiercely pragmatic researchers and dissectors of objective reality will share floors with the Department of Visual Arts, in spaces that are deliberately intermingled so that engineers will constantly find themselves engaged in conversations with right-brain creators.

And our friends from the Bauhaus know what emerges when that happens.
Something called design.

The joyful blending of breakthrough technology with artistic sensibility... extravagant imagination merging with utilitarian vision, leading, it is hoped, to spaces and tools and devices and projects and inventions... as well as wonderful frivolities...  that people not only find useful but love to use, amid a growing prosperity that's perfectly compatible with a sustainable Earth.

Attention to design becomes clear as you wander this new building.  Observe the way that open space is used, taking advantage of views and the spectacular San Diego environment.  A paradise, indeed! Though one that is also a desert, with little water or energy to spare, And so the design strives hard to compensate with breakthrough efforts at efficiency.

Within, you'll find the groups and departments arranged in clusters that gather professors near their students around common collaborative areas... then other commons areas attract interactions between departments and groups.

And as Dean Lerer alluded in his remarks about building bridges, SME is well situated to stimulate the rest of the campus, encouraging ideas to infiltrate outward, and within.
This building will thrive because its "cells" are leaky. Its structure is malleable and adaptable to changing needs, deliberately almost biological.

Not a rigid expression of one architect's ego, but a willing servant to many more generations of pioneers, who will work within these walls. And who will want to move some of the walls, to make this structure truly theirs.

That is they way design will have to be in the future.

And speaking of the future, the SME has not left out foresight, the gift that springs, as if from the prefrontal lamps of our brows shining light on the perils and opportunities ahead.

Two institutions dedicated to foresight will have their homes here:


It happens that I had a humble role in helping Professors Sheldon Brown and David Kirsh plan this bold venture with the Clarke Foundation and every single dean at UCSD, along with the heads of the Salk and Neuroscience Institutes and many other partners, aiming to bring to bear all the tools of science and the arts toward plumbing a great mystery -- where does the fantastic gift of imagination come from?

How can it be taught and nurtured? Can we simultaneously unleash imagination with greater freedom, yet better harness it to individual and human needs?

This cross fertilizing goal of the Arthur Clarke Center is a fitting tribute to Arthur's life, as both a scientist and vividly prescient storyteller... and one who was my personal role model.  I'm proud that my alma mater is honoring him with this bold endeavor.

May I mention a pertinent point? More successful science fiction authors have emerged from UCSD than any other campus on Earth, prompting one of your predecessors, Chancellor Khosla, to ask "Is there something in the water?"

No, it is in the air.  In the ambiance. In the attitude of a civilization, a state, a county, a campus... a building... that views prim scholarly categories as mere suggestions.

A place where the core emphasis remains on our scientific projects... using new structures and new materials to augment our tools, aircraft, buildings, and even our lives...

... but where that process benefits and derives much from openmindedness, curiosity, even humor and art.
A place where collaboration, innovation, and flow between cultures is not only allowed, but encouraged.

Even better, it is taken for granted. A palace for the Positive Sum Game... the notion that we are not bound by limiting assumptions. Where students and faculty and regular folks feel empowered to say: "I can always be a little more than I am."

It is the theme of a new culture that some find frightening in its hubris. One that is so brash and confident that it takes up the challenge we were thrown long ago, wandering in confusion amid the rubble of that Tower in Babel...

...a challenge to grow mature, to overcome the barriers of misunderstanding that separate us, combining both science and art with wisdom to re-gather in a polyglot world. To decipher the universe. To love and understand it and become its co-creators.

And this is only the beginning of what we will do. Until, truly, as was once promised, we find that nothing is beyond us.


David Brin said...

This became an essay about the "two cultures" of academia learning to prosper together... a lesson that the rest of society could do well to adopt! If we weren't in a state of civil war.

thescribes said...

And this will likely lead to an auto-didactic pseudo particle, the point where the exo meets the endo. By the way I do transcription freelance.

donna said...

Loved the talk! And I really liked the lab where they blow stuff up!

AngelArts said...

David, this makes me want to run away from home and go back to school, and helps resolve a bunch of arguments I've had with writers over the years as to not only value added of 'art', but the value essential of art, as part of sentience. Great speech!

David Brin said...

See glimpses of the terrific science fiction exhibit at California State University's Northridge Campus, which I will help to dedicate/open this Tuesday at 6pm.

Some of the exhibits are:

Alien Encounters: Defining OUrselves vs. the "Other"
Invasion: When Aliens are Among Us
When the Earth dies, Contemplating the Apocalypse
Going Nuclear: Science Fiction Literature and the Bomb
War as Fundamental Human Nature: Militarism and Conflict in SF Literature
Science Fiction, Science FAct: When Authors Accurately Describe the Future
Worlds without gender: Androgyny and Gender
Liberation and Redefinition: Changing Roles of Women
Critiquing Ourselves: Science Fiction as Satire
It's Complicated: Our love affair with technology
Man and Machine: Robots, Cyborgs and Androids
Sentient Supercomputers: Man vs. Machine

sociotard said...

Interesting. Did you ever read
How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built

So they built this new building to be able to have walls moved? New utilities run through? That was one of the central points of his book! It especially reminded me of two university buildings he described: government warehouse Building 20 and I.M. Pei's Media Lab, both at MIT. The later was beautiful, but rigid. The reinforced concrete walls were too hard to do much change with. Meanwhile Building 20 is the dirty girl who will try any new thing. Want a new hole between floors to run an especially tall experiment? Go for it, no one cares. After all, it's slated to be demolished, and has been since the end of WWII.

Guess which building he claimed was loved more by actual users?

sociotard said...

Oops, apparently building 20 did get demolished. My fault for reading an old book.

Chet Twarog said...

Any consideration to the geodesic domes and synergetics of R. Buckminster Fuller?

David Brin said...

Those domes always leaked. Sorry. Maybe someday the materials and seals will be better. Or sea lions.

Jumper said...

Oh, to have a blue-sky lab in that facility. If I was rich maybe for an endowment they'd let me have one. First thing I'd do is see if my idea for negative-Poisson-ratio ceramic foam is possible, and investigate the properties. Likely it would just be for improved armor. War materials; rats. Then I'd see about affecting the properties of hard and soft magnets by quenching them while under strong electrical fields. Then look into carbon zeolite-like structures with internal hyperbolic topology.

Oh well. Here is some interesting materials science:

Speaking of the future here is this predictor. Somehow I am unsure if he understands the law of unintended consequences as fully as he should. He is right about the unsustaninability of developing more suburbias.

Tony Fisk said...

My little daydream would be to see if an aerogel (silicon or carbon) could be formed under about 0.1 atm, and whether it could then be coaxed to retain its shape and integrity* when restored to normal pressure. If so, then it would have buoyancy equivalent to hydrogen, and balloons could operate as Francesco Di Lana intended. (downside: this might impact on a certain story plot element!)

Failing a place in this bottom right Shangri-la (which does sound like a great initiative), I'll wait to see what Marblar can achieve.

* basically a material with a 90 kPa breaking stain. Make it 1Mpa for safety. Given that they've been trying for 50GPa for space elevator ribbons, this is surely not too much to ask for?

David Brin said...

Tony & Jumper... interesting. Maybe you can get to know some local researchers. One method... if you have a convenient nearby university... find out when the various departments have their seminars and/or guest lectures. Often they are at lunch and folks bring sandwiches. If convenient, bring your own sandwich, sit in the back... then move forward as you become comfortable. Ask modest questions. Become a regular. In time, you'll be able to buttonhole grad students and ask questions.

It worked for me.

David Brin said...

PS... the regolith heat shields are a NASA NIAC project that I helped to judge....

Jumper said...

Consideration of hyper-giant fullerenes as possible lighter-than-air solids has been investigated but I don't have free access to the journals and results yet.

Heh heh:

SteveO said...

Off topic:

Dr. Brin, something to consider building into your Holocene chat - eye contact:

Tony Fisk said...

I must confess my initial thoughts on lighter than air systems (I've coined the term 'vubbles') started at the macro scale; stretching strong membranes across light rigid frames (a useful vacuum of 0.05 - 0.1 atm is easily achieved, but still needs to be able withstand a force of 10 tonnes per sq.m, or 10 kPa) Francesco Lana di Terzi, an italian jesuit who is creditted as being the father of avionics, had the idea over 300 years ago! Unfortunately, he couldn't make his copper spheres buoyant enough (and it was subsequently shown to be beyond copper's material strength)

(Thanks, Jumper: with a couple of pistons, 'Sphere' would be a perfect prototype for trim control! ;-)

Aerogels struck me as another approach, but are they strong enough?

...and I must confess I never thought of low density fullerenes, although it's a logical progression into the micro scales! One highly premature note of caution here... where would leaked particles end up?

Unknown said...
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Jonathan S. said...

Hi, Lanvin Bag! I think we already have one of your friends around here. Have you met Paper Plate Machine?

Tony Fisk said...

Lanvin bag reminds me of my first trial attempt at Python. I called it 'gobbledygook' and it took a piece of text as input (Kipling's 'The Elephants Child'), parsed it to determine the frequency with which a character came after a particular sequence of characters, and then generated text according to that frequency. When the length of the character sequence was set at average word length (4-5), the result was uncannily like the original story; the narrator having downed several bottles of strong liquor. (someone took the same idea and used it to play back messages in a chatroom. The bot was deemed to pass the Turing test, but was generally considered deranged!)

Alex Tolley said...

Re: lighter than air vacuum sphere.

Rather than using a material with compressive strength to fill the sphere, why not build an external frame and use material with high tensile strength to support a low pressure sphere? Use carbon nanotubes as the fibers to hold the sphere open against pressure with a steel[?] frame to support the fibers around the sphere.

David Brin said...

In case some of you missed it, in the last comments section I issued a RESEARCH CALL!

I had forgotten, this political season, to bring up the state of the military, which is actually devastating stuff!

Can any of you dive into the actual stats for us? The number of US Army divisions rated fully combat ready in 2000, 2008 and today? Not sure the info is available, but I'd love to see it laid out.

Also, citable sources for the reserves. Mine are 5 years old. Could be devastating stuff.

Tony Fisk said...

I did a quick go n' ogle, but the only reference to combat ready units harked back to 2008.

@alex tolley: yep! The structures I've envisioned look a bit like giant diatoms. I suspect spheres are the best, but they don't 'feel' right, somehow. (Must learn to trust finite element analysts! ;-)

Unknown said...
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Ian said...

If the object is to create an object that generates positive buoyancy, is it necessary to achieve a near-vacuum within the structure?

What are the trade-offs involved in creating a stable, self-supporting structure within an internal pressure of, say, 0.2 Bars?

Paper plate manufacturing machine said...

I must admit it ranks up there among one of the most unique blog ideas I have ever seen.

Tony Fisk said...

Ian, air (N2 + 02) has a molar weight of 29, whereas hydrogen (H2) has a weight of 2 (ie about 1/15 that of air)
Thus, as you point out, there is no significant benefit to buoyancy in having a volume evacuated to 1/15 atm, or ~ 0.06 bar. A simple pump can cope with that easily. The real issue is having a material capable of withstanding the pressure differential, without being so heavy as to offset the buoyancy.

The fullerene and aerogel approaches are perhaps overkill, but if they're easy to produce, then why not? (silica aerogels are easier than carbon at present. They do have some minor handling issues though)

Tacitus said...

Having had more than a few discussions about the "unambiguity" of various metrics I have to say, ready status of divisions seems a bit crude.
It has been a long time since Army and Marine divisions have filed aboard troopships en masse.
Any given division might have troops spread out across several continents!
ready status of brigades is a little better. But even there, soliders deploy in companies and battalions more often.
And before holding up a shiny factoid, it would seem prudent to make sure "ready" has not be re-defined a few times. The military tends to be opaque about these things, and appropriately so.
If you want to better define the issues-do our current commitments leave us dangerosly unguarded elsewhere-there are probably better measures of it.
If you had access to such you could look at smart ordinance inventory levels, numbers of special forces deployed and reserve, days at sea of naval vessels, percentage of modern combat aircraft under repair or active. number of national guard units overseas is probably also a reasonable measure of "stretch".
I mention this not to be argumentative, but to encourage deeper thinking.


Acacia H. said...

I suppose when you consider things that way, we've reduced our wars to one and are pulling out of that conflict as well. While we did use a bunch of munitions in defanging Libya and do occasionally attack Somali pirates, we've mostly avoided expanding into additional conflicts. In that, Obama has done better than Bush in that we're in just one quagmire instead of two.

When it comes to military spending, currently we are still spending a lot of money on ordinance and weapons. We're reducing our number of nuclear weapons but doing so is a cost-savings effect in that we're pulling outdated missiles and bombs out of service and leaving only more accurate modern weapons. If I recall correctly, nuclear bombs need to be reprocessed from time to time or they decline in destructive power (for instance, the Cobalt bomb in the Planet of the Apes series of movies shouldn't have worked because after hundreds of years it very well might have declined in effectiveness to be "just" a dirty bomb that would have rendered lifeless the region... but not the world).

Of course, the big thing is that massive cut in military spending should a budget agreement not come into effect. This is what Republicans will use as the latest weapon against Obama, despite the fact they agreed to it themselves under the assumption that Democrats would cave and they'd have a viable Presidential candidate (instead, they got their version of Kerry, Mitt Romney).

But as of right now I'd say we're in better shape due to the fact we're not stretched out in two land wars and instead concentrated in just one. Of course, we need to deal with the drawbacks of the Bush Years with the acceptance of lots of potential McVeighs such as that group that planned on bombing a dam, doing various attacks and finally killing Obama. Also we need to improve the counseling of our soldiers so they stop killing themselves. But these are longer-term issues not totally attributable to Obama.

And for that matter, Obama did one thing that truly improved morale in the military: he eliminated DADT. While some singular soldiers are unhappy with this, as a whole military personnel are happier and more trusting of each other. The only thing they want now is for same-sex spouses and the like to be able to gain benefits... and the Pentagon is said to be looking into this as well (and Obama may utilize an executive order to bypass the federal anti-gay-marriage law currently in effect but only being enforced by the House).

Rob H.

Hans said...


In the last post, Sociotard made a comment about William Gibson's book. In the book Rapture of the Nerds, Stross and Doctorow give a shoutout:

"A dream. Of course it was all a dream. Except she’s standing in the middle of an infinite white plain, beneath a sky the color of a hi-def video monitor sucking signal from a dead channel (saturated electric blue, in other words), and the plain is featureless in all directions save for a black hexagonal mesh grid—a tabletop strategy game for retarded superbeings."

And, its a pretty fun book.

Stefan Jones said...

To knit together two comments above:

Stewart Brand, once an advocate of geodesic domes, provided in How Buildings Learn many reasons why they turned out to be, in actual practice, a bad idea.

I'll second Sociotard's recommendation for that book. It is a real eye-opener.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, first I admit that our concepts of "war" have changed in the last ten years. The perceived threat is not peer powers but counter insurgency. Except for the Navy, whose job it is to prepare both against nuclear and major world power threats, especially across the Pacific.

Now, you might buy into the notion that the only folks the Army and Marines will have to fight is insurgent, and hence see no problem with them being converted into a bunch of urban swat teams. I find that assumption myopic. Either way, Bush's accomplishment is stark.

The Army he used to crush the Iraqi Republican Guards today mostly does not exist anymore. One armored division still trains, a little, but not in brigade exercises at Ft. Irwin. I know. I have been there.

Then there's the Third Infantry Division. I admit they would fight anybody, any time, anyhow. They are insane... and I mean that as a compliment. STill, when Bush left office, not one of their brigades was rated fully combat ready. ALL brigades were thus rated under Clinton.

And it does not matter if the Army changed its criteria! That is their privilege and indeed they should. All that would mean is that the drift toward swat team thinking had taken place and STILL the Army had collapsed.

When Adm Mike Mullens became CJC in 2006 and was asked what his top priority was, he answered "saving the Army." It had got that bad. After they pried Bush's hands off their death grip on our military in 2006 (he was "commander in chief" in name only, after that) Gates and Mullen devoted nearly ALL their time and attention to preventing the Army's total collapse.

WHich is why I hope some of you will help me to find reports or stats showing whether that repair work has progressed since Obama entered office. I am curious and it is a blank slate to Tacitus and me. Care to make bets what we may find?

Paul451 said...

"air (N2 + 02) has a molar weight of 29, whereas hydrogen (H2) has a weight of 2 (ie about 1/15 that of air)"

So what's the benefit in trying to achieve a vacuum balloon? At STP, replacing N2/O2 air with helium gains you over 1kg/m^3 lift. Replacing helium with hydrogen gains you just 80 grams more lift. Replacing hydrogen with a vacuum gains you just another 80 grams lift.

(Silicon aerogel would float in Venus' upper atmosphere... w00t)

It would only take a few years of no major conflict for the US military capacity to be rebuilt, but with the advantage that they are deeply battle-hardened. (They've been "trained" for over ten years by an enemy that had itself spent up to three decades perfecting guerilla fighting and asymmetrical warfare. Every design, every piece of equipment, every tactic, has been tested under combat conditions for over a decade. If, say, China and the US were to fall into a conventional war, even if China has technological equivalence and a numerical advantage, China loses. By a factor that would be embarrassing for everyone involved. (In reality, nukes. And everybody loses.))

(chaelign 49. More firepower, less downtime.)

Paul451 said...

Stewart Brand turned his book "How Buildings Learn" into a 6-part BBC series, which he has made available in its entirety.

Paul451 said...

(David, my last comment was written before reading your last comment, it was not a direct reply to it.)

Alfred Differ said...

Does anyone here have a Stratfor subscription or know someone who does? They might know a thing or two about readiness levels.

Acacia H. said...

While I actually work on Stratfor (in putting abstracts into the system), it's not a regular assignment for me and I don't recall anything specific about U.S. military readiness or the like. However, you should be able to access Stratfor abstracts through Ebsco, assuming your local library subscribed to that service (and college libraries with political science majors probably would be).

Rob H.

Tacitus said...


Looks like a pretty comprehensive assessment. But I do not see a database taking their comparions back in time.


Tacitus said...

Another thought occurs to me. What we are discussing here is the concept of "hollowed out" forces. Brigades and divisions that look just fine on paper, but in reality are weak. Be it high percentage of raw recruits, under strength companies, worn out adds up.

But there is no reason to confine this thinking to the military. Let me tell you a story.

One of my sons worked with (not for thank goodness) the Illinois Department of Natural Resources until recently. The I DNR was supposed to monitor water quality across the state on a certain schedule. But they could never do it, due to a shortage of the necessary working staff. Now, mind you they were not understaffed overall. No, they had an abundence and then some of various supervisory levels.

But anyway, sometimes they would have the staff available and still could not go out and survey some sites downstate. You see, they could not afford the gasoline to get there. Let me repeat...they could not come up with gas money.

And this was before the Illinois legislature failed in their attempt to reform public employee benefit issues. And before the state recently had their bond rating down graded (due to said failure) so that the cost of borrowing will now go up.

But as I understand it, after the state "temporarily" raised taxes.

Now I do not claim to be an authority on Illinois. I would defer to LarryHart just as he is kind enough to defer to me on Badgermatters.

But my sense is that there are a lot of "hollow out" institutions in our public life. And that we are becoming the poorer society for them. Most are hidden, for now.

This is what motivates a fiscal conservative. One who will discuss tax hikes after we see some serious reform of how we spend our money.


Alfred Differ said...

Thank you Robert. I'm a former customer that will re-subscribe in a few months. 8)

I'm thinking that detailed info would be classified, but high level stuff should be fairly open. One can look up roughly what our large naval fleet groups are doing this way and work backwards.

David... maybe you could show the data you are trying to update. I've heard you use the readiness stats before, but I never asked where you got them or what they looked like in raw form. I'm not asking for the names of sources you might have, but a sense of what the data looks like might help.

Jumper said...

My next door neighbor and good friend was in the last Huey unit in the 101st and in Desert Storm. Air Assault. I keep telling her to write a book and she looks like she's got a start on it. Finally!

She quit being a Republican under Bush II. She really, really does not like them now.

Tony Fisk said...

Paul, the benefits to a vubble is safety, and economy.

Helium is pricey, and I think we have better things to do with a limited resource than hang around under it.

Hydrogen has 'Hindenberg' issues (which, I agree, can be dealt with by keeping it away from oxidants eg a nitrogen envelope. And a public awareness campaign)

But I rather like the whimsy of being able to make a toy balloon float with little more than a bicycle pump!?

An evacuated volume isn't without risk, though. Implosions would be a problem, and you wouldn't want a single point of failure. (one point in favour of aerogels/fullerenes over macro structures, I think)

The potential issue I see with fullerenes (if they work) would be where the leaked ones end up? Wouldn't it be fun if fullerenes with the same density as the ozone layer also turned out to be excellent ozone cracking catalysts? Question for the Center for Responsible Nanotech, I think...

Jumper said...

Here is the link to the article for sale. Wonder if UNC library has the journal...

David Brin said...

Oh, oh criminey. Ike was never like this. Hell Reagan and even Nixon wasn't like this. Anyone who says this is not Civil War...

Tony Fisk said...

It's been a pleasant vacation from politics, but I was waiting to see how long before the fan was struck!

Actually, I can see Romney's strategy of concentrating on the 5-10% undecideds, but the moral vacuum displayed in categorising the 47% he's dismissing from his attention is incredible (not entitled to food, eh?)

Jumper said...

I was just reading John Glenn's political career. For the heck of it.

David Brin said...

Paul451 I have long thought one reason the Sovs invaded Afgh was to "blood" their troops.

TheMadLibrarian said...

*scratches head* Is Romney counting government employees, including military and subcontractors, as part of his 'half of the US is on the government dole' schtick? Otherwise, I'm pretty sure he's pulling a figure out of an orifice. He's sounding more and more like Marie Antoinette there, and he should remember his history. I wish to invoke a mashup: 'Let them eat cake', but 'The cake is a lie.'

stcing 9: sweet, sweet Icing-9

David Brin said...

The Pew Report says only 5% of US scientists are Republicans. In fact, he apparently claims that all the scientists, medical doctors, economists, techers, professors, journalists, civil servants, lawyers, cops,... and increasingly nearly all the generals and admiral who despised George W. Bush with a passion... that all of them and all the other smarty pants professions are also welfare queens who never pay taxes.

Funny thing. Why is it that the Blue States pay more tax per capita and have net outflows of federal dollars while Red States and counties suck in net excess federal dollars? A typical complete counter-factual from the party of Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity.

Chet Twarog said...

Dr Brin, thanks for anwering my input. However, at the airport tdy, saw the geodesic dome protecting the nexrad weather radar inside: not all domes leak, enclose the most volume/surface area using less materials, are structures in the Antarctic supporting hvy wgt of snow/ice, concrete domes survive tropical cyclones/tornadoes/earthquakes, are air transportable, etc..
Geodesic domes "blend STEM, art, and imagination".
I was also referencing R. Buckminster Fuller's "Synergetics: the Geometry of Thinking" book.
Finally, yes, have read many of your novels. Unfortunately, we have not yet personally met.

Rob said...

So... the counterargument is always "the circumstances are different," but after listening to that array of Republicanisms on those videos, I might as well arm y'all further.

Romney is, by all accounts I trust, an honorable, generous individual man.

Some of these stances of Romney's appear to me to be at odds with Mormonism, especially the variants taught by the Church he belongs to (as opposed to any of the much smaller and more controversial offshoots).

He talked dismissively about those who pay no income tax, implying falsely that they pay no taxes at all, and stating that they feel entitled to food and shelter, etc.

Your counterpoint could come from the Book of Mormon's "Mosiah 4:17-23" duplicated here in part (You can search on "Perhaps thou shalt say" on's search feature to get to it):

"17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just.

"18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth. hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

"19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon... God... for all the riches which we have of every kind?

21 ...And now, if God... doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask... O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you... and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God...

23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

So, yeah, Romney. As a fellow Mormon. I feel as entitled to food and shelter as I do to a society which can actually offer me a job. And if it can't find that job, can't get enough to survive, I'm apparently entitled to get my food and shelter from you, richguy, at least until I can get my feet underneath me or your "job-creator" buddies can, y'know, create some jobs!

Now, I've been in situations where I've met people who try to take advantage of that passage, and excoriate Mormon Bishops when they won't keep paying some family's rent. In all of those cases, though, that family refuses to pay it all forward, or live within their means, or set conditions as though an LDS welfare assistance plan was an eternal meal ticket. Those people certainly exist. I think it's probably justified in the heads of men like Romney, who will have encountered *many* such people through their leadership positions in the Church. People believe Mormons are all rich white people anyway. Maybe it's true, on average, but mostly the lot of us are kinda house-poor.

Use it wisely, my friends. Point out the impossibility that 47% of all Americans brought upon themselves their misery, and then point out that it's not an excuse for some shared sacrifice anyway.

Next posting is about foreign policy.

Rob said...

With respect to warmaking, Romney has made some comments: "Of course you take out our enemies, wherever they are. These people declared war on us. They've killed Americans. We go anywhere they are, and we kill them." I wish I could name the source; I have it second-hand, but it's consistent with R-branded jingoism.

Gidgiddoni, Book of Mormon prophet and military general:

"The Lord forbid [going after enemies anywhere they are]; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands."

And, the Mormon stance on warmaking is defensive-only, and you float the navies and march the troops after two unearned acts of aggression:

"The Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.

"And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed."

It's those key words, "defend," and "not guilty" that justify a military action. For whatever all that is worth to y'all.

David Brin said...

"The GOP nominee, while discussing how his father was born in Mexico to American parents, also joked about how he would have a better shot at winning the presidency if his grandparents had been Mexican."

yipe! First, the contempt/racism. Second... his father, a famous presidential candidate, was born WHERE???,0,1578696.story

Rob said...

Mexico, David. Mitt Romney's great-grandparents (or grandparents, can't remember which generation) fled the Edmunds Tucker Act to continue practicing 19th Century Mormon Polygamy in Mexico.

But Mitt was talking about how he doesn't have a Latino connection because even though grandpa was from Mexico, he was American-Mexican.

David Brin said...

Yes but it appears he confirmed that George Romney was not a native born US citizen when he ran for president.

Ian Gould said...

"*scratches head* Is Romney counting government employees, including military and subcontractors, as part of his 'half of the US is on the government dole' schtick? Otherwise, I'm pretty sure he's pulling a figure out of an orifice. He's sounding more and more like Marie Antoinette there, and he should remember his history. I wish to invoke a mashup: 'Let them eat cake', but 'The cake is a lie.'" - TML

The 47% figure is based on the year that the tax rebate was issued as part of the stimulus - 2009, IIRC.

That year, 47% of people who filed a Federal tax return had no NET Federal Income Tax liability.

In addition to the rebate that's because many people pay some tax in the course of the year but have full-year income below the taxable limit - that includes retirees with small amounts of investment income; part-time and seasonal workers and people who lost their job in the course of the year.

These people lodge a tax return in order to get their withholding back.

Of course, essentially all these people (unless they spent the year living rough in the Alaskan wilderness) paid a bunch of other taxes.

Ian Gould said...

Remember last year when the Republicans in Congress voted for "automatic" budget cuts?

Well now those same Republicans are pushing to stop the budget cuts - or at least the cuts to defense spending - on the grounds that they'd cost jobs.

This raises three questions:

1. In that case, why did they vote for them in the first place and

2. Why is it that these cuts will cost jobs but the various cuts proposed by Ryan and Romney won't?

3. If cutting government pse3nding reduces employment then doesn't if follow logically that increasing spending via the stimulus must have increased employment?

Rob said...

David, what does that matter now? The man is dead and he was never nominated. And Mitt certainly was born in the U.S.

Yeah, I know there is irony. No point in it though. My stance is that Obama is just as much a citizen as I am.

Acacia H. said...

And to return to science, it's starting to look like Faster-Than-Light travel is possible and feasible without burning the entire mass of Jupiter to do so. Though I must admit some curiosity: is this only viable for long distance travel? Or could it be used for a trip through the solar system?

I mean, if you could travel to Alpha Centauri in two weeks... then Mars in under an hour? Pluto in less time than it takes to get to California from New York? Though where we get this power is the next question: do we start dismantling the Moon to create massive solar power facilities in orbit... and use that power for particle accelerators to create antimatter fuel?

Rob H.

LarryHart said...


Now I do not claim to be an authority on Illinois. I would defer to LarryHart just as he is kind enough to defer to me on Badgermatters.

I'm not as up on state politics as I am on federal. I am not going to defend Illinois's debt problem. However, I will note that it was in part caused by NOT saving for a rainy day during the boom times. The state spent money like a drunken sailor in the 1990s, including under Republican administrations.

No onein politics seems to understand the simple lesson of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

But my sense is that there are a lot of "hollow out" institutions in our public life. And that we are becoming the poorer society for them. Most are hidden, for now.

I believe that goes without saying.

In other words, I agree with you.

This is what motivates a fiscal conservative. One who will discuss tax hikes after we see some serious reform of how we spend our money.

By temprement, I'm on the same page as you. I've considered myself a fiscal conservative, even a deficit hawk.

But two things scream "special circumstances" to me about the present situation.

A political observation: As a liberal, there seems no point conceding to spending cuts on liberal causes, because those spending cuts won't go into deficit reduction. They'll go right into right-wing causes. If I'm going to give up liberal spending for deficit reduction, the least I expect is deficit reduction. Bush showed us otherwise. Hence, no point in spending cuts. Not because I don't WANT a balanced budget, but because that's not what's going to happen.

That was an admittedly partisan rant. Point #2 is not...

Cutting spending during a severe recession/depression is a bad idea. It hurts more than it helps, even in the ways it is supposed to help.

Rob said...

@Rob H. Slow down there, yankee. :-)

My aerospace engineer friend at the Naval Research Labs (doing space systems research) puts it this way:

"There used to be 15 reasons why FTL was impossible. Now, there are only 14."

You still have to make that VW Beetle sized chunk of fuel out of Exotic Matter. So far I think we've managed to detect precisely four Higgs Bosons, so I don't think we're in the realm of "possible" quite yet.

Also, a speed of 10c still requires some long trip times. For intra-system travel, though, it's the bees knees! "Johnny! Fire up the tractor and go fetch me a small comet! Maw's thirsty again!" "Yes, Paw."

I want them to keep trying, though. :-)

David Brin said...

Rob I am perfectly willing to be far more mature than Fox. And hence, I mention the now-verified fact that George Romney was not a natural-born U.S. citizen with a wry shrug... all right and a small smirk... and do not intend to make a big deal out of it.

Still, after all these years of culture war, we have learned to carry a variety of arrows in our quiver. It is a lovely factoid to use on the "birthers."

Robert, these metric-surfing methods of FTL suggest also terrible weapons. They should never be aimed toward populated areas... which kind of misses the point, so to speak.

Well, Larryhart, There is one example of keynsians paying down debt during the "seven fat years." Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.

Fact is, Keynsianism has its flaws, but it correlates with reality 75% of the time. Supply Side is a cult with zero reality overlap or correlation with basic human nature. The vast vampiric tax gifts to the rich did not wind up helping companies do R&D or establish new startups. The money went into what Adam Smith derided as "rent-seeking" and into asset bubbles.

I despair that liberals are unable to grasp or elucidate their own argument! Even Krugman gets too complex. It is simple. When you need MORE economic activity, stimulate the pockets of the middle class where the money becomes HIGH VELOCITY and changes hands (is spent) swiftly.

Note that I can turn pinch-penny nasty, if necessary. Jimmy Carter - the only US president to think long range, ever - unleashed Paul Volcker to rein in the Johnson-Nixon-Ford "guns and butter" policies that had money racing at hyper speeds, resulting in horrific inflation. To slow money down he had to hurt the middle class and help the rich! Because the rich don't spend. And it worked. And Carter was crushed and we got Reagan who reaped all the credit.

==> off to my speech in LA

David Brin said...

Obama at Google 4 yrs ago. Note he did not claim to have answered out of nerdy knowledge but via spies... still cute and tech-friendly.

Not significant.

Ian said...

1. George Romney was a native born US citizen provided one of his parents was a US citizen and they met the residency requirement (which at the time was something like "six years after the age of 21".

2. speaking of Romneys, Ezra Klein points out that 60% of Mitt Romney's "47%" pay 15.3% of their gross income in payroll taxes - which is higher than Mitt's own income tax rate of 13% of net income.

Acacia H. said...

The thought of an FTL weapon is quite disturbing. But would it be effective? After all, the object itself is not accelerated to faster than light speeds. Instead, space-time is warped around the object. It seems to me that the FTL weapon would instead end up a seismic weapon that would scramble a region... sort of like the Grasers (gravity-wave lasers) that my friend Brian Lacki wrote about in his online story "Naggarok's Children". But given the huge amount of energy needed for such an effect, wouldn't it be more cost effective to just use bombs?

Unless of course you're trying to target something in a very deep bunker, I suppose....

Rob H.

Rob said...

If you're converting 1600 lbs of exotic matter into energy to get a 10c warp drive, you've got enough energy to crack open the Earth, if you do it all at once...

@David, they were natural born citizens by any modern reckoning, but I think you'd be justified in counteracting the crazy with that little bit of crazy.

Use it anywhere you want. (Bearing in mind, of course, that the Mexican Romneys still in Colonia Juarez really are nice folks.)

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Well, Larryhart, There is one example of keynsians paying down debt during the "seven fat years." Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.

Yes, and I was all for it.

Then the Bush Administration showed us what the right inevitably does with a surplus--gave it all away and more, and then used the resulting deficit as an excuse to gut liberal programs.

So "fool me once" and all.

I despair that liberals are unable to grasp or elucidate their own argument! Even Krugman gets too complex. It is simple. When you need MORE economic activity, stimulate the pockets of the middle class where the money becomes HIGH VELOCITY and changes hands (is spent) swiftly.

Hey, you're preaching to the choir here. True I didn't know the term "high-velocity money" until I learned it from you, but I was the one who invented the "trickle-up" metaphor which said money didn't naturally fall like water, but rose like heat in your oven, and that in order to get it to do useful work (like cooking a turkey) in the process, the heat has to be infused at the bottom, not at the top.

David Brin said...

Ian gets post of the day for reminding us: " Ezra Klein points out that 60% of Mitt Romney's "47%" pay 15.3% of their gross income in payroll taxes - which is higher than Mitt's own (claimed) income tax rate of 13% of net income."

Folks who recite the noxious truthiness that "half of americans pay no taxes" are either imbeciles or simply flat out evil. It is truly as simple as that.

Hans said...

In addition to paying taxes, the 60% of the 47% pay predominantly regressive taxes.


PS After failing the Captcha twice, I'm starting to doubt my identity.

Ian said...

Robert - the Alcubierre Warp Drive traps particles that impinge on the area of warped space it creates and prevents them from passing through to hit the ship inside.

But when it's turned off, the particles are all released at oe, producing an enormous burst of radiation.

That's the latest theory of how it would work if it were ever built anyway.

(That's another possible Fermi Paradox explanation: the ship with our membership invite for the Galactic Federation dropped out of warp half a light year from the sun a couple of decades ago and has been on its way in at 0.01 C ever since,

Tony Fisk said...

Full Romney video is now up.
Further revelations: Romney on foreign policy:

Doesn't believe peace is possible in the ME because "The Palestinians don't want it.".

Here's the kicker on this point:
Romney did note there was another perspective on this knotty matter. He informed his donors that a former secretary of state—he would not say who—had told him there was "a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis." Romney recalled that he had replied, "Really?" Then he added that he had not asked this ex-secretary of state for further explanation.

Indeed! One should never let other opinions colour your beliefs.

(Trick question for Mitt: what's the popular name chosen for the Mars Exploration Rover? Can he say the word?)

Jumper said...

Mitt pays no food tax, apparently.
I of course do.
He is a slacker. 60% of Americans are water.

Paul451 said...

"There is one example of keynsians paying down debt during the "seven fat years." Bill Clinton in the late 1990s."

Not quite. He left things better than he found them, but he didn't noticeably pay the debt down during his "fat years". GWB inherited a mild (routine) recession, followed, a year later, by 9/11. Clinton should have built up more reserve before he left office. Doesn't change anything Bush did thereafter, but Clinton wasn't actually doing the thing we all say they should do. He just didn't do what Bush/Bush/Reagan did.

So he scores 0 on the "saving during fat years" scale... instead of Bush's minus several trillion.

Re: FTL's gamma ray burst.
"the ship with our membership invite for the Galactic Federation dropped out of warp half a light year from the sun a couple of decades ago and has been on its way in at 0.01 C ever since,"

SF has already got this one. If your FTL builds up something bad, you do a "dump" in deep space, then do shorter jumps in-system, doing additional energy dumps as you go. No need to come all the way in on sub-light (unless your FTL doesn't work in-system.) So our visitors can just spiral in, doing shorter and shorter bursts each leg, without frying Earth.

[Wait... Gamma ray bursts... FTL... Hmmm... ]

(thupsi 3: Hans' secret robot-name.)

Stefan Jones said...

Romney's behind-closed-doors speech to those millionaire donors -- his true constituency -- wasn't only simplistic in its portrayal of the "47%," it was deeply contemptuous.

It assumes the libellous, elitist, and deeply cynical notion that half of his fellow Americans are lazy slackers.

This attitude, which I have seen in dozens of Internet-discussion boards the last two days, is wide spread, but that doesn't mean it is any less false.

I mean, really. Do these people actually think that kids -- kids in ANY community, high or low -- eagerly look forward to life dependent on the pittance of food stamps and welfare, dealing with the struggle to find housing that takes Section 8 vouchers, and the hassle of Medicaid paperwork?

Kids, in ANY community, grow up wanting not only money, but prestige. They want the respect of being a professional, the fame of being a music star or athlete. They may be satisfied with something lower key and closer to home, repairing cars or running a store.

The very assumption of the conservative elite, and of their base just a rung or two above desperation, that the poor just want to slack off, leads to low expectations, badly funded schools, and communities plagued with rotting infrastructure.

I read a great snark on Twitter yesterday:

"The GOP thinks that the rich need to be given more money to do their job, and that the poor need to be given less money to be encouraged to work."

David Brin said...

Paul, Clinton did not pay down lots but he did pay down. More important, he withdrew the US from capital markets, liberating all new bond issues to go to other entities. Moreover, this allowed inflation - though low - to catch up with our loan portfolio a bit, reducing it several %. Also the economy grew and hence percentages also shifted.

It was not epochal, but it showed that Keynsians were sincere and trustworthy about paying down so that they could spend hard in a downturn. Had Bush continued that, we'd have had a reserve for "lean years."

matthew said...

The 47% in the comments romney made refers to the percentage of citizens that owe no federal income tax. Government employees do not figure into it, unless they are paid less than ~30k$ annually, in which case they might qualify for the earned income credit (which reagan loved, btw). The largest chunk of the 47% are social security recipients, which skew republican in their voting habits. So romney is merely displaying contempt for his parties' natural base. I'd hope they take him seriously about his not needing their votes, but I'm sure that many, many will rationalize, "Oh, he wasn't talking about ME, just those lazy folks."

LarryHart said...

Stefan Jones:

Romney's behind-closed-doors speech to those millionaire donors -- his true constituency -- wasn't only simplistic in its portrayal of the "47%," it was deeply contemptuous.

It assumes the libellous, elitist, and deeply cynical notion that half of his fellow Americans are lazy slackers.

It also then assumes the deeply cynical notion that those lazy slackers will all vote for President Obama because his policies pander to lazy slackers. Neither half of that assumption actually seems to bear out, and yet that part of the quote isn't even on the discussion radar. I think that's the more important half of the quote--the underlying assumption that Obama appeals to the slackers who expect government handouts, while the GOP is the party of productive people. That's a flattering notion to Romney's base, but as Paul Krugman points out, it's not a good idea for politicians to start believing their own campaign rhetoric.

Tim H. said...

Alarming that Mitt could be so unconcerned about the economic health of the substrate on which his class feeds.
On a brighter note, might some of those gamma ray bursts be the arrival of colonizing expeditions in fresh Oort belts?

sociotard said...

I finaly finished "Existence"

I know you've been working on the book since well before Michael Chrichton died. Did you let him know he was being parodied in the book?

Oh, and I loved the end. Were you trying to invert 2001 A Space Oddessy or was that just the similarity I saw?

I really wish that Blogger had spoiler tags

Paul451 said...

Does anyone know what the income cut-off is for Romney's "47%"? Ie, "if your income is less than this much, you might be..." The income/percentile sources I can find don't break at the right levels. I thought I'd ask before I started trying to plot curves.

Tim H.,
"might some of those gamma ray bursts be the arrival of colonizing expeditions in fresh Oort belts?"

But there are a lot of bursts... what are they doing?

LarryHart said...


Does anyone know what the income cut-off is for Romney's "47%"? Ie, "if your income is less than this much, you might be..."

As far as I can tell, he's just parroting the right-wing talking point of several months back about 47% of Americans not paying federal income tax.

It's not a straight function of income. It also depends on child credits and stuff like that. Also, millionaires who shelter and offset enough income might pay no federal taxes, but I doubt that's who Romney was referring to.

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

The bottom 50% are subsisting on less than $50,000/year, but Larry is right. Some of those (single wage earners, dual-income-no-kids, etc) will pay an income tax.

The remainder pay the full FICA basket, or have that offset (a little) by the Earned Income Credit.

In past years I've made high five-figure salaries while paying only FICA, so I'd be in the 47% Romney says he "can't reach."

Then again, so would every other American Mormon family my size, who cheers rabidly for him.

David Brin said...

Sociotard, I hope you liked the book.
I felt bad about Michael Crichton. But the character I wrote wound up "getting the girl" in the end, so I don't feel guilty.

RE THE 47% I just realized... Mitt conflates two entirely different 47% groups! The 47% that does not pat income tax, a figure that leaped upward under GWBush, but most of whom pay payroll tax (proving that most of them do work)...

...vs the 47% who support Obama. Yes there is substantial overlap. But not overwhelming overlap. Indeed it would be a fascinating study. Since Obamaland is also Blue America, the universities and smartypants clades and cities that pay MORE in taxes and get less in benefits, how does it even make sense?

Much of red/rural America is in Mitt's 47% non tax-payers. Armies of white male retirees who probably rarely blink to say "Hey! He's talking about me!" Servicemen in combat zones are untaxed. It also includes millionaires with excellent tax lawyers, some in that very room with Mitt. Sheesh, does the guy believe his own words? Worse, do the oligarchs who were in the room with him believe this?

David Brin said...

Much is made of wasp-male anger. But the issue is in some ways settled. "the Republicans make up the first presidential ticket in history not to feature a Protestant.
Romney is Mormon, Ryan, Catholic. That might not seem like such a big deal — especially when you consider they are running against the first African-American president.
While none of the current Supreme Court justices are Protestants, every one of them holds at least one degree from Harvard or Yale."

Stefan Jones said...

Regarding "hidden" comments in Blogger:

You can use ROT13.

This is a handy tool that turns text into unreadable gibberish (by shifting the alphabet 13 characters). Reversing the shift makes the text readable again.

Here is a web page that can do it for you:
* * *
Someone on Twitter posted a link to a map which shows states color coded by the percent of the population in the "47%."

Yeah. You can probably guess where the 47% cluster. Texas through Florida, plus (for some reason) Idaho.

If the "47% don't pay taxes" crankery beloved by Movement Conservatives actually referred to irredeemable lazy slackers, this would suggest that the culture of the southern U.S.A. was especially adept at creating parasites.

What is actually means, of course, is that the South has lots of retirees, poor people, and folks in the military.

Paul451 said...

That's kind of what I mean. The way I figure it, 47% is not just "welfare queens", you're talking about a lot of blue-collar workers and owner-contractors, pensioners and self-funded retirees, who all strongly vote Republican. A major campaign by the Obama side, pointing that out, actually showing "this is you" examples of typical people in the 47%, might win a couple of percent of them over, and dissuade even more from voting at all. While Romney is busy chasing the 5% of swing voters, he could be losing his base. ("im in ur base, killin ur votes".)

Anonymous said...

The reality is that America has no future in its current form, and would be better off dividing into more coherent cultural entities. Our internal differences are simply irreconcilable, and while your appeal to moderation may be well-intentioned, I think it is going to fall largely on deaf ears.

The reality is that America today has no resemblance to the one envisioned by the founding fathers; it is a meaningless multicultural union united by an outdated constitution and a faltering dollar. From my perspective, the main problem is a leftist narrative which amounts to this: “We’re coming for you white man, we’re demographically disempowering you and taking over.” Traditionally wars were fought and borders were established to prevent this sort of thing, but multiculturalist ideology has brought these wars inside our borders. In fact I no longer feel any allegiance to huge swaths of my fellow Americans, who to me are little more than parasites and my cultural enemies, and I know millions of other people feel as I do. The damage has already been done, by both the leftist and the globalist capitalists. The upshot is that we no longer have a unifying principle strong enough to hold us together through another depression, or to stand up to the ancient, rising empires of the world like the Han and Islam.

You need to wake up David Brin, show some respect for the power of tribe, culture and religion, and stop deluding yourself that law, science and free markets are all that matters!

Acacia H. said...

Hark! What is that I hear? The clarion call of the South, insisting they should secede from the Union because they don't like that things aren't going 100% their way.

You know, pull out a fucking history book, Anon. A U.S. History Book. And look up something called "The Civil War" and maybe some of the stuff that led up to it. You are repeating the mistakes of the past because you have not learned your history.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

I'm not actually a Southerner, but I will join them in opposing the occupation of my country by my ideological and cultural enemies, even if it requires violence. Your side may have won the first two rounds, but this war is eternal...

Rob said...

This is more a crisis of bellicose pride than anything else.

To wit: In the 60's, the cities were burning. Our grandparents managed to quell that. We ought to be able to settle a question about whether taxes should be at 39% or 36% without talk of secession.

Anonymous said...

I would be fine with higher taxes, and even "national socialism", if we had a nation. But as long as my taxes go into the pockets of parasites and cultural enemies, I will oppose all higher taxation. This is a fatal flaw of multicultural capitalism, and the reason national socialism is such a powerful and attractive alternative.

TheMadLibrarian said...

One man's cultural enemy is another man's freedom to practice religion, or speech, or bear arms. Surely there is some mature way to settle our differences and accommodate one another without bringing out the guillotines. That's what we call civilization.

2 inmentsd: incomprehensible because of size

sociotard said...

o/` Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord o/`

Alfred Differ said...

>>You need to wake up David Brin, show some respect for the power of tribe, culture and religion, and stop deluding yourself that law, science and free markets are all that matters!

Heh. Someone obviously hasn't read much of David's years of work.

I just finished Timothy Ferris' book titled 'The Science Of Liberty'. Has anyone else looked it over? I might have to broaden my normally narrow Popper-style definition of Science as a result.

Tim H. said...

For me, the idea that immigrants can study to become Americans is a feature, not a bug. I see parasites and enemies of the American way of life too, but, I think, different ones than anonymous, more in the direction of Wall $treet.

infanttyrone said...

"im in ur base, killin ur votes"

Too bad it would just be a nibbling or gnawing away of Romney's support.

It would be sweeter if it became a Zero Wing scenario after which the Dems could say "All your base are belong to us."

You need to wake up David Brin, show some respect for the power of tribe, culture and religion, and stop deluding yourself that law, science and free markets are all that matters!

I can hook you up (really) with a tribal leader in Pakistan's NWFP if you can't swing the secession deal in Idaho or South Carolina.
They're not big on the multicultural thing there either, so maybe it would be a fit ?
Just trade in those Gilbert & Sullivan CD's and first editions of Ayn Rand on a course in thing you know, you'll be playing some serious old-school polo...Buzkashi.

Ian Gould said...

"I would be fine with higher taxes, and even "national socialism",..."

I bet you would.

sociotard said...

Anonymous, is there any part of the country that you consider sufficiently monocultural? If not, and you were to suceed in secession, what would you do with the other cultures? Deport them? Make them second class citizens?

Ian Gould said...

Personally, I'd love to see the states of the Old Confederacy secede from the US.

Because within a decade they'd be on their knees begging for readmission to the Union.

Ian Gould said...

Sociotard, I think many people who agree wit :anonymous" don't so much see their state seceding as they fantasize about somehow expelling some of the blue states from the US.

They'll keep, the name; the Constitution, the publci works and the nuclear arsenal.

The states they expel can keep the national debt.

David Brin said...

Stefan.... um could you help us find that map so we can share it around?

Well, since anonymous starts by attacking leftists, we can assume he isn't our old "friend" though he's about as pleasant. As usual for the member of the MR (mad right) he flails a general-vague narrative at us filled with cynicism and despair, without backing up it or offering any alternative scenarios.

I admit that our current civil war might be solved by letting the Olde South go, at last. The rest of us could then go back to being a modern nation like Canada... though a bit more aggressive as the American Pax. Or else conquer Canada! And then the "blue/sane" parts would simply overwhelm the madness with raw numbers.

But it's irrespective. Fact is, his loathing of his fellow citizens is a perfect distillation of what Rupert Murdoch and his Saudi co-owners at Fox have spent billions aiming to achieve, filling a certain fraction of bitter white males with so much inchoate, illogical, fact-free rage that they hate hate hate the country that they claim to wave the flag of.

Bizarre people. The Red COunties SUCH in more taxes than they create and Blue America net pays. Yet who screams about taxes and parasites? They have vastly higher rates of STDs teen sex, teen pregnancy, out of wedlock births, domestic violence, violent crime, rape and so on, yet lecture us about morality.

I could go on and on. There are no statistical metrics under which they are "better" or "wiser" and tons in which they are far worse, as GOP governance is always, under every statistic, even statistics of CAPITALISM, far worse. So what is the result? A bilious hatred of "metrics" and facts.

David Brin said...

I really want that state breakdown of the 47%!

Ian Gould said...

Here's a map of the states with the highest lowest percenages of non-payers.

The Guardian has an interactive feature I don't really have time to play with at the moment;

LarryHart said...

Here's one of the many places I saw the map today (you have to scroll way down toward the bottom):

rewinn said...

May we congratulate the nameless server who recorded Mitt's "47%" speech? It put the Aristocracy on notice that "...whatsoever you have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which you have spoken in the ear in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." (Luke 12:3)

Such speeches have probably been common among the Aristos since forever; what is new is that they can no longer be comfortable that their followers won't hear the contempt.


Let's ignore any Revolutionary Monoculturalist too cowardly to give his name. As Heinlein pointed out in "Beyond This Horizon", revolutions need leaders who can actually get things done, and a healthy society offers outlets to them other than revolution. Ours certainly does; I have many criticisms of my great Nation but not that one!
No doubt wannabe Aaron Burrs can slaughter thousands of my fellow citizens with their little guns and some dirtier weapons, but they're really only threatening suicide-by-cop. Maybe someone should get them a World of Warcraft subscription instead.


As for Anonymous Coward's bit about monoculturalism: You can find no-one more pale white than I am (?see those eyebrows??), but my fundamental cultural value, the one that is (...or at least at one time was ...) uniquely American is the freedom to be different. Who cares about the albedo of our next generations, whether they play Bach or Tupac, whether they speak Spanglish or Chinglish? what really counts is all that Enlightenment stuff, the stuff our Founders died for. By that measure, "Anonymous" is talking anti-Americanism.

Rob said...

Alas, Randy, my readings of history of late don't give me confidence that Americans of any stripe have lived up to the ideals you name, in sufficient number.

I suppose the trajectory is positive, but I think Henry Cabot Lodge thought that about his anglo-saxonist imperialism...

(I wonder what mistakes Americans are really making, that history will impugn us for...)

David Brin said...

2,053 nuclear explosions in one video:

No show of Israel! Cause they never admitted it officially

Jerry Emanuelson said...

The 1945-1998 nuclear explosions video was once posted to one of the Discover Magazine blogs under the title, "What the hell were we thinking?" That title is especially appropriate for those above-ground nuclear explosions that took place during the general period of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

During the period of October 13 to November 1, 1962 there were 16 Soviet and 6 United States above-ground nuclear explosions. At least two of the nuclear tests by each nation during that period were high-altitude tests, (in other words, high-altitude electromagnetic pulse producing tests). Communications between the two nations were already poor. Fortunately, those high-altitude explosions were not at a location, or during an era, where they hindered communications between nations, but that was just dumb luck.

Most people today forget that there was a time that two nations on the brink of nuclear war were launching nuclear-tipped missiles, and actually detonating those nuclear warheads.

Jerry Emanuelson

Ian Gould said...

Numbers wonks should download the datasheet behind the Guardian interactive display I linked to earleir.

Particularly interesing is the veterans data.

Southerners like to view themselves as the sole or principal defenders of the US but soem southern states have surprisingly low percentages of veterans (as does the arch-conservtive state of Utah.)

Sure the trend is for the southern states to have a higher percentage of veterans but Hawaii and Washington have amongst the highest percetnages of veterans in the entire country. (In the case of Washington I'm guessing that's becasue of the nubmer of ex-airforce personnel workign for Boeing.)

Ian Gould said...

Most of you folks are already aware of the XKCD web comics - this particular episdoe is called "Click and drag". fo exactly that - in an ydirection.

It's really quite remarkable.

Jumper said...

history of paid political campaigners in the US.

Mike Winter said...

Speaking for Canada, we would prefer to remain a good example rather than be conquered for our voters, if it is all the same to you. At least until "Whatever Comes Next".

Acacia H. said...

@Rewinn: Considering the camera was not moving around, I would be willing to bet that the camera wielder was much akin to the curious lady aristo in "Existence" who was a part of the Elite, but privately questioned if it was truly for the best and if there was another route she could take.

Either that or a bartender, but it still has a strong vibe of "attendee" rather than "worker"

Rob H.

Ian Gould said...

Robert, my guess is a staffer or volunterr - who then showed it to a single friend with no ill-intent and on a promise of strict confidentiality.

That friend then showed it to a single friend ...

rewinn said...

I hope the 47% video has been sufficiently scrubbed of metatext to keep the identity of the (assumed) smartphone from being picked up. Whether servant or Trillie, that ID needs protecting! I don't know whether any local laws were violated but might we expect a raft of legislation "protecting" political fundraisers from being exposed to sunshine?

Oh, yes we fallible human beings FAIL in our ideals quite often, that's true (Twain was especially eloquent about the Phillipines). But they're still there and occasionally implemented, and directly opposed to Anonymous Coward's claims.

@Ian Gould
It's anecdotal, but run into a lot of Navy vets who were stationed here in Puget Sound country and thought, "hunh, nice place to retire when I can."
At the risk of sounding prideful, I suppose it doesn't hurt that we supplement federal efforts with a King County Veterans and Human Services Levy

Alfred Differ said...

Letting the southern states go isn't a good move in the geopolitical sense. There is a strong advantage to keeping the greater Mississippi basin under one political entity and yet another advantage to keeping possibly hostile forces away from our heartland on the east coast.

Losing those states would be a bit like Russia losing Belarus.

Alfred Differ said...


I'm sure we are making a number of mistakes. I console myself with the belief that as long as we increase the scope of liberty and science for all and by all, they will forgive us.

It's not like anyone actually knows how to save the world anyway, so we don't have many good choices except the empirical ones.

David Brin said...

Hanging chair as a "statement"

Paul451 said...

Re: Romney's fundraiser.
At first I assumed the video was secretly filmed by an activist who managed to get on the staff. But the delay between event and release suggests it was on an attendee's phone and got spread around by friends until it leaked outside-the-circle.

Re: Protecting their identity.
Yes... Unless it's funny. Like it was filmed by his own wife.

Alfred Differ,
"Letting the southern states go"

Letting? You misspelled "making". (Seriously, put it to a vote. I bet you'll get more support in some northern states than you do in the south.)

"yet another advantage to keeping possibly hostile forces away from our heartland on the east coast."

I assume that was the motivation to keep them the last time? To keep European powers (especially England) from getting an easy foothold to conquer/retake the US, once the southern states started fighting each other and the Confederacy fell apart. I don't think there would be too much risk of that now. (The foreign conquest, I mean, the falling apart is inevitable.) The modern US would no more allow the CSA-states to be invaded by Russia/China than they would Canada (or England).

But it occurs to me that there could be another way, split the US internally. Imagine if the south had successfully split off into the Confederacy, and a hundred years later the USA and CSA had formed a regional Federation to share defence, free trade and travel across borders. So why can't the modern US jump straight to that arrangement. Essentially you'd create another minimalist layer above the current Federal system, and the southern states would opt-out of the current Federal System, but still, technically, remain part of the USA. The seceding states would remain under a shared-defence and free trade treaty, but have their own currencies/constitutions/etc. They wouldn't be bound by Federal law. Federal agencies wouldn't have jurisdiction. Etc. And their residents wouldn't have a vote in the US Congress/Presidency, nor receive any Federal monies/welfare/Medicare/etc. The new super-Federal layer would presumably have a minimalist treaty committee to handle issues of defence and trade, with members appointed by each regional group, USA/CSA and whatever else springs up.

This also means other states, not just southern conservative states, could opt out of the Federal layer and form their regional grouping, which would make for some interesting experiments.

gg said...

Reminds me of what Kurt Vonnegut said when I saw him speak in the early 90s. When he was teaching at a university he would post fliers for writing contests in several different departments, he figured there were writers outside the English department and he wanted to include them.

Jumper said...

Ah, secession. Of course we could let them go without bloodshed. Erect the fence, make it illegal to enter without approved papers. Illegal to hire them without valid permits. Trade deals to be established at the whim of the Union. Based on human rights, I would advocate.

Tacitus said...

I have often wondered it the stats indicating increased federal payments to southern (red) states are not largely an artifact of retirees moving there and getting their social security sent to Dixie. With a chill in the Wisconsin air I can't criticise them....

Regards the election, you can stop fretting about the campaign.

Either it is over, with the President winning a comfortable re-election, or there is a much bigger story. Current polling trends would have to be totally wrong. So you would have to assume either 1. a Diebold stolen electon, or 2. a concerted effort of pollsters to lie. Neither is probable in this day and age.

Oh, sure Obama could really bomb the debates, but he would be well covered if he did. A trio of headlines..

1. Fox News "President Picks nose while answering moderators question!"

2. MSNBC Romney's Embarrassing Gaffe! Asks Commander in Chief 'Uh, Sir, do you need a Kleenex?'

3. Huffington Post. "President advocates for universal nasal flu vaccine...offers to share as Romney would ban it!"

Or something like that.

Just a sense of political fatigue here in Wisconsin. Not sure I have seen a single TV ad, but I pretty much only watch baseball, mythbusters and old movies. Harrumph, harrumph.


Tim H. said...

A friend suggested that the GOp's paymasters have already gotten what they wanted, so no serious candidate is on offer, this time, or last. Anyone, of either party, who can acquire the financing and survive the primaries will be a proven disciple of mammon, and acceptable by enormous money.
And I'd miss the south if they were gone, and wish to remind folks that it's their one percenters that're obnoxious, like last time.

Jumper said...

Why are #1 and #2 unlikely, Tacitus?
(warning:Socratic question alert.)

ba san said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rewinn said...

@Tacitus' Game of Headlines could be amusing:

"President Shares Lunch With Crowd"

"Obama Performs Satanic Ritual"

"President Has Flu, Vomits At Campaign Stop"

rewinn said...

Sorry for the double post, but this just in from a major-party candidate for North Carolina's 7th District...

"...When I served in the executive branch for about a year and a half, and I learned how the bureaucrats operate. It gives me a lot of insight into how to defund them and get rid of them. When I went over to the Department of Energy one day, you walk down the hall and most of them who are drawing 6-figure salaries are sitting there reading books and magazines....".

Now don't click on the link until you guess the candidate's party...

David Brin said...

weeelllll... I'd rather my civil servants didn't read magazines on the job, either.

I got no problems with sincere conservatives coming to the bargaining table and saying: "I see what problems you liberals want to solve and I admit it needs solving, so:

1) let's talk about a stage by stage process for tweaking market incentives so a market solution gradually rises

2) you listen to my bureaucrat andecdote tales of bad civil service and waste and EVEN if they are anecdotes and don't represent the majority, you help me make those failures go away! That's part of my demand in negotiating with you.

3) Now tell me your plan for using government to deal with the problem in the short term and I will criticize it till we come up with something that both helps solve the problem and that benefited from my criticism till it's tolerable enough so I will grumble and go along... for now. Because this process of liberal enthusiasm and reasonable conservative skepticism has led to 10,000 successes.

Ian Gould said...

"I have often wondered it the stats indicating increased federal payments to southern (red) states are not largely an artifact of retirees moving there and getting their social security sent to Dixie. With a chill in the Wisconsin air I can't criticise them.."

Farm subsidies and oil industry subsidies have a lot to do with it too.

But poverty is generally higher in the south and so is enrolment in both Medicare and Medciaid.

It occurs to me that to a large extent when southern conservatives decry the situation in the country at large they are to a large extent simply projecting from their personal day-to-day experience.

Ian Gould said...

David, assuming there's any validity at all to the story, the magazines were most likely Nature or Transactions of the Royal Society etc.

I used to spend several hours a week reading on the job in the EPA, It wasn't for pleasure.

Rob said...

If the magazines and books are Time or Cosmo or the latest Harry Potter, the Honorable Congressman might have a point.

I expect DoE people to be regularly reading academic journals and new textbooks. That would be part of their profession, fairly done on government time.

sociotard said...

Primates' Thinking Power Augmented by Brain Implant

Anonymous said...

Blah blah blah. None of this talk matters. American multicultural democracy is devolving into a contest of tribes, and in such a contest no one has the luxury of high-minded debates on principles. Black people vote as a bloc, and soon white people will need to do the same, or lose more power. You see it's all coming unglued now for multiculturalism, and you, my fellow white men, need to stop thinking you have the luxury of being non-tribal in modern America and WAKE THE FUCK UP! There is a vast left-wing conspiracy to take your power, and if you don't see it you need to open your eyes. All propaganda coming from government, academia and even corporations is sending the same message: You belong to the past white man, the future belongs to the brown multicultural man, and you just need to bow down and give away your power. This is the insidious ideology you must fight, but first you must WAKE THE FUCK UP!

Acacia H. said...

Little troll, you forget that there is one greater tribe at work here: humanity itself. We are all the same species here. Thus by attacking "non-whites" you are in fact attacking yourself. And I say this as someone with strong English and Nordic roots, so I'm probably closer to Hitler's "Master Race" than you are.

Blacks would not vote "as a block" if Republicans didn't disenfranchise them. Hispanics? They're white. They're descended from Spaniards who come from Europe and are thus strongly related to Caucasians. Of course, you are busy disenfranchising them, little troll, rather than accepting that diversity makes a species stronger. Inbreeding results in disease and mutation and a loss of strength. Thus by pushing your "white only" philosophy you are in fact betraying humanity itself by weakening it. And back with the politics of Hispanics, Republicans are busy being anti-immigration and thus driving the white-skinned Hispanics away from conservative values and to the Democrats.

Well done.

Face it. The Republican Party is doomed and will fade into the history books because it has become the Party of the White Man. It is anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-poor, anti-humanity. And I will doff my cap when it dies and then happily vote Libertarian.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Then you're a naive imbecile. When you lose too much tribal power and start to feel it's boot on your neck perhaps you will wake up, but by then it will be too late. You are in the grip of an IDEOLOGY sir, this multicultural fantasy is a pure fabrication unsupported by history or human nature. Multiculturalism is a TOTALLY UNPROVEN experiment which is unlikely to end well for you. And for the record I don't align myself with the Republican party, but with those who understand what I'm saying and are preparing for the new order that will arise on the ruins of America. It is YOU and your failed ideology who belong to the past!

sociotard said...

Anonymous, are you under the impression that all white people share the same culture? All the same arguments, wants, and desires?

Acacia H. said...

Obviously he's never been to Europe, where you can travel for an hour and find a new culture.

For that matter, you can encounter that in New England (and much of the East Coast) with two to four hours of travel. =^-^=

Monoculturalism is an artifact of the Midwest.

Rob H.

Acacia H. said...

Oh, and multiculturalism is unproven? I rebut that with two words, quoting the amusing and enjoyable graphic story "Girl Genius" by Phil and Kaja Foglio...

For Science! =^-^=

sociotard said...

Robert said...
Obviously he's never been to Europe, where you can travel for an hour and find a new culture.

Too true. Reminds me of this webcomic:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rob said...

That would be the same world order that has kept Europe from a third mechanized World War for over 60 years, the longest era of international peace the peninsula has ever had.

Whether you like sounding like an anti-Semite or not, it remains, as well, that you do.

Those notions are noxious and supremacist.

Acacia H. said...

You realize that your posting under the umbrella of anonymity eliminates any and all semblance of legitimacy from your words. A man who refuses to step into the light to speak his words clearly for all to see is a man without faith in his own convictions. You are a anonymous little troll who is merely here to rile up trouble and the only reason I'm responding is out of boredom. Though you're boring me too, little anon.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

There is a certain overlap of offensiveness and EFFECTIVENESS at being offensive that (rarely) prompts me to press the trash can ikon and delete someone.

This itsy-butsy troll is actually, well... cute. Adorable, really. Not an ostrich, but a bona fide representative of zeitgeists that are deservedly circling to toilet into extinction. His rage is music to those yearning for a sane human future, filled with joyful and creatively competitive freedom and wonders.

I actually smiled. More please.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I'm just trying to stimulate conversation here, don't take it too seriously...

Tacitus said...

David's early speculation notwithstanding I think this is an old friend posting as Annonymous.

An interesting new schtick, posting as a purported far right wing, well, racist.

The ideas are nonsense but the effort involved in creating this new persona demonstrates a commendable work ethic!

(fingers were moving fast enough that I accidentaly typed "work ethnic"! Nonny would have approved!)


Rob said...

"I'm just trying to stimulate conversation here,don't take it too seriously."

Very well. You're a troll. And, David, that's a different animal than the case study that made you smile.

Please use the trashcan button at your leisure for this one; it won't offend me!

Jumper said...

For a good view of multiculturalism which resulted in a paradise, in spite of unfairness and rank racism at its modern period (post 1700s), see Hawaii.
Viva la mutt. Viva me. We are all descended from pirates.

Acacia H. said...

Anon's little confession (assuming it's not a second troll having fun at the first troll's expense by ruining said troll's "fun" - see, this is why being anon is problematic as anyone can post as an anon and disrupt the troll's festivities) has led me to consider something and wonder if anyone else here has used a similar tactic in dealing with the unrepentant neocons: in short, using selfish analogies to explain liberal perspectives.

For instance: universal free birth control for women. I have several times stated a position which is in fact not the truth: that I support free birth control for all women because it will reduce the number of pregnancies by poor minorities and thus lessen my own financial burden (through taxes) paying for the welfare of these unexpected children. While I personally feel universal free birth control is logical and something women should be allowed without question, I have defended this belief with the above argument.

I can even argue it further by stating those "unwanted children" end up committing crimes and going to prison. Thus by providing free birth control these potential criminals never come to be... and my future tax burden is lessened while simultaneously making society a safer place.

When you look at the argument, it's a reprehensible statement. If you take it to its extreme, it's a form of eugenics. But it also takes a subject and changes its trajectory. Free birth control goes from an entitlement to a method of cost control that could be examined from multiple perspectives.

Unfortunately, the argument is also flawed. I've yet to get a neocon to accept the argument from the opposite angle, which suggests they instinctively find it reprehensible (possibly due to eugenic undertones). Thus the argument needs refining further.

Mind you, this can also be used for other purposes. For instance, I recently saw a conservative friend of mine admit that while he doesn't believe in global warming, he does believe in pollution control because he's an asthmatic (as is his son and his dad) and he wants to be able to breathe without trouble.

So then. What policies and viewpoints are out there that Republican-conservatives and neocons oppose but which could be twisted to make them palatable to these people?

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Using ju jitsu to get crazy folks to be slightly less crazy is a technique I try all the time.

e.g.... I will NOT delete anon so long as he is being as hilarious as his last few tries!

BTW... Watch Sarah do her thing….. hilarious video!!!!!

ToddR said...

Aw, Tacitus, woulda been a yuk if you had left the typo "work ethnic" in there.

Considering what we're talking about, the captcha "reacex" was amusing.

Ian Gould said...

"...and you, my fellow white men,..."

Other than David, how do you know that any of the other commenters here are either white or men?

Or for that matter American.

I, for example, hail from the gloriously successful multicultural country of Australia.

Ian Gould said...

"I understand that wars have consequences, and the more I saw of the new Western world being engineered in the wake of the last war, the more I realized that my country was on the wrong side."

"By the way, I'm just trying to stimulate conversation here, don't take it too seriously."

Assuming, as others have said, that this is the same "Anonymous": I'm Jewish, motherfucker. I taek your expressed desire that the Nazis had succeeded in exterminating my family very fuckign seriously.

David: I know that sort of language is not usually employed around here but I think it's warranted here.

Ian Gould said...

Robert: on a similar vein, there's fairly good economic evidence than devoting additional resources to educating children of below average IQ has economci returns as great as or greater than giving additional resources to educate children of above average IQ.

Children of slightly below average IQ are more likely than others to end up incarcerated or unemployed. Additional vocational training and prgorams like Head Start ahve been shown to reeuce these negative otucomes.

Fro children with signficantly below average IQs, additional edcuational resources can be the difference between institutionalization and living indepednently and holding a job.

So, logically, if you claim that African-americans on average are of lower intelligence than other americans, the logical conclusion should be that the state should invest mroe in their edcuation.

Naum said...

Romney Says No to "Net Neutrality"

Romney thinks the FCC’s rules promoting “net neutrality” are the fulfillment of a campaign promise that was made to “special interests.” Obama reiterates his support for an open internet, while listing all the issues that compete for regulatory attention–from protection of intellectual property to cybersecurity to privacy.

I cannot remember a presidential election where I could find just about NO common ground with a presidential candidate…

Ian Gould said...

Here's a genuine question for anonymous: even if oen granst all your ludicrous propositons: what do you plan to do about it?

Convince every white fmaily to have six kids?

Mass deportations of African-Americans and Jewish-Americans?

Forced sterlization?

Repeal the 14th Amendment and strip non-whites of the vote?

finally, an observation: Blacks have always voted "tribally" in the US. First they voted overwhelmingly for the Republican Party because the Democrats were the party of jim Crow and segregation.

Then when the southern racist whites switched "tribally" to the Republican Party, the Blacks shifted their support to the party that actually thought they should be allowed to vote and use public toilets.

David Brin said...

I went back and looked again. Anon is an asshole who can go straight to hell.

Paul451 said...

"Inbreeding results in disease and mutation and a loss of strength."

Coincidentally, Aus TV sci show, Catalyst, did a story this week on the interbreeding between Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals, and a new Homo species/variant called Denisovans. What is interesting is that strongest concentration of "foreign" genes are those for immunity. And the further you go from Africa, the greater percentage of immune genes belong to Neanderthal or Denisovans. (Up to 100% by the time you reach New Guinea and Australia.) In other words, Modern Humans were interbreeding with "locals" in order to pass on the local immunity to local diseases. Those who interbred the most, had more successful offspring, those who were true purists did not survive.

What is ironic is that all non-Africans have these non-HS genes. The only "pure" humans left are in Africa.

"millions of people are waking up to the deceptions and lies they have been taught and are starting to realize that their greatest enemy may not in Iran, Iraq or Libya but right here in the USA…"

No wonder you hide.

Rob H.,
Re: Opinion Ju Jitsu.
I don't think it works. I've mentioned here before, my attempt to redefine gay marriage as promotion of marriage/family to young people who have a culture influenced by gays. Never gets traction. Similarly, US liberals/dems have repeatedly openly told Republicans how to steal their base, that African Americans and Hispanics have a higher religiosity, are less tolerant of gays and liberal culture, and would make ideal conservatives... If only they could drop the whole racism thing... And the Republican core responds by moving even further right, becoming even more isolationist.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul451: I have relatives in those states (some I actually like), so I won't be voting to kick them out if it came to that. I think you'd find that is true of a lot of us. 8)

Great Britain would have been foolish to invade us from the CSA. We were already strong enough by then to make such a war incredibly expensive for them. They would have been bled so dry that their empire elsewhere would have suffered.

What they could have done instead, though, is counter some of what we did from close up. They could have meddled and set one group against another. This is precisely what they did elsewhere in the world with much success. We've copied that approach in how we deal with European and Asian powers. We learned from masters. 8)

Ian Gould said...

Alfred: Harry Turtledove wrote an excellent series of alternate history novels abotu a wrodl in which the confederacy won the Civil War.

In it, the United states edns up fighting on the side of the Central Powers in World War I while the Confederacy sides with the Entente.

Alfred Differ said...

@Ian: I've seen it on the shelves. I haven't bought it, though. I love many types of fiction, but I prefer to focus on doing something in THIS world.

When I do go for (mostly) mindless entertainment in that direction, though, it currently involves Flint's 1632 soap opera series. 8)

If I had a single use time machine I'd go back just before WWI and kick someone's behind. The British could have (and should have) stopped WWI from happening. I'd find whoever seemed most able to change their decision and try to halt a century of war. Someone seriously messed up.

David Brin said...

Alfred... each century "begins on the 14th year".

Scary? Given what started in 1914? Or maybe we can resume the optimistic march that 1914 interrupted

Tim H. said...

Anonymous may consider that the .01% are already a different culture, as intolerant as any. Concerning the forteenth year, we can all hope for the resumption of building the proud tower, but another, greater Wall $treet "Charlie Foxtrot" seems more likely.

Alfred Differ said...

Begins on the 14th year? Heh. I guess we treat the ones before that as a transition period?

I seem to recall there was a financial panic in 1907. Maybe we are just doing a Groundhog Day thing and repeating things until we get them right. If someone tries to guide toward too much repetition I'm going to get serious annoyed, though. We've got something good going here where we are on the verge of being able to educate ALL children. My mind boggles and my eyes tear up at that possibility.

Ian Gould said...

A few threads back I talked abotu the fact that the anti-western extremsists in the Muslims world don't represent the majority.

Case in point:

"Hundreds of protesters stormed the compound of one of Libya's strongest armed Islamic extremist groups on Friday, evicting militiamen and setting fire to their building as the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans sparked a public backlash against armed groups that run rampant in the country and defy the country's new, post-Moammar Gadhafi leadership.

Armed men at the administrative center for the Ansar al-Shariah militia, suspected to have led the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, first fired in the air to disperse the crowd, but eventually withdrew from the site with their weapons and vehicles after it was surrounded by waves of protesters shouting "No to militias."

"I don't want to see armed men wearing Afghani-style clothes stopping me in the street to give me orders, I only want to see people in uniform," said Omar Mohammed, a university student who took part in the takeover, which protesters said was done in support of the army and police."

The attack on the militia bases was an offshoot of a larger demonstration condemning the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

There were an estiamted 30,000 attendees for that demosntration - which probably comes close to outnumbering ALL the anti-western protests across the Muslim world.

Tim H. said...

Extremists are to Islam what Fred Phelps is to Baptists?

Jumper said...

Perhaps we should have an anti-tribalist demonstration in the U.S. to counter vicious trolls such as our "anonymous."

ERic said...

Were you aware of these?

...assuming it's real, of course.

Paul451 said...

Unexploded ordinance from the Krikkit wars.

David Brin said...

Huh... grooved metal spheres. Drat. In EXISTENCE I portrayed them as holographic crystals. But of course they'd have an outer metal shell for surviving atmospheric entry....

Anonymous said...

These are the spheres mentioned:

Jumper said...

Anyone interested in the disinfo promulgated by anti-GM-foods activists can find a good summary of some recent bad science here:

And again I will note that the Knight Science Journalism Tracker site went on my favorites list soon after it was pointed out to me.

David Brin said...