Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Next steps in space? Go for water! But not on the moon. And why the Expanse can't happen.

Let's start with Important News. Water on the moon? Yes, but with a cavil.

The chairman of my PhD committee, the late Dr. Jim Arnold, had many fine accomplishments to his credit. One was his confident prediction that we would someday find deposits of water ice in permanently shaded regions at the lunar poles, and possibly even at the poles of broiling-hot Mercury. Both forecasts were bold... and later largely verified! Now, NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), aboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft (launched in 2008 by the Indian Space Research Organization), has confirmed the presence of solid ice near the surface polar craters on the Moon.

Without question, this is exciting news. At NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program (NIAC), we've funded initial studies of some cool concepts for exploring those dark craters and characterizing the deposits, which could prove valuable in the future, especially if humanity ever comes up with a good reason to establish settlements on the "harsh mistress" surface of Luna.

But alas, many are interpreting this all wrong... as a reason to make such settlements. Supposedly to turn lunar polar ice into rocket fuel, a dismal misappropriation, when similar resources can be accessed elsewhere at lower cost, and the water could have vastly better uses, down the road.

But let's put all this in context.

== Return to the moon - or asteroids? ==

Many of you know that I have a low opinion of the cult that has declared all-out war on science and every other fact-using profession. With regard to space, this cult has declared absolute devotion to returning American astronauts to the surface of the Moon…. the most useless and counter-productive activity that could possibly be chosen out there.  Even were there anything of value to do on that dusty plain (with one exception, there are no “resources” and it definitely is not a 'way-station' to Mars), humanity will check off that box anyway, as China, Russia, India and every other Apollo wannabe does their rite-of-passage tourism thing at the bottom of that absurdly impractical gravity well.

There is no reason for us to "lap" the rest of the world by 50+ years, doing what they are going to do, anyway. Not when the U.S. should lift its gaze to goals that only it can achieve.

As for that polar water, we should leave it for use by future lunar colonists... and yes, there will be such colonies! Just not right away. And we shouldn't steal their water, when there are certain types of asteroids that offer vastly more, at far greater efficiencies.

Alas, the Trump Administration has canceled not only most Earth observing missions - (for blatant political reasons that betray our children) - but also most asteroid sample return activity, even though asteroids are where vast wealth might actually be found, taking a huge extraction burden off our home planet, while making us all staggeringly rich.

A moon-return fetish is just the thing to distract us from those riches, which could zero out value of moguls who own sunk-cost mines down here on Earth. The deep reason for this veer in national policy.

Am I focused only on right wing lunacy? Oh, there are others. In attempting to sabotage asteroid mining, the far-right has allies on the far-left, such as this person, conveying (if not supporting) drivel that: “Capitalism Will Ruin Other Planets After It Ruins Earth.” At a Left Forum Conference in Manhattan, a NASA researcher suggested that the drive to explore exoplanets and mine asteroids has been bred primarily out of a need to feed the beast of capitalism.

"Late era capitalism is feeling the pressure from resource scarcity, and therefore, it has to find its own way out. It cannot think outside its own box of solutions, and it will have to find another place, and another place, and another place to exploit."

There are so many levels this is dumb. For example, the environmentalism that these folks extoll only appeared in a scientific and outward-looking society that also generated and distributed enough wealth to create a truly vast, educated class. These smug finger-waggers always assume that they are the only ones who notice and care, when in fact a majority of their fellow citizens favor regulations and research aimed at ameliorating the side-effects of all that wealth generation. It is only people with zero-sum minds who buy into the tradeoff that we must shiver in the dark, in order to save the world.

Positive summers (like those who read my novel EARTH) know that it is a wealthy and educated and confident people who start to incorporate externalities, like the best interests of future generations and a living planet. And there's no better way to make a world of wealthy Earth-lovers than getting access to those riches out there.

Of course there’s guilt by association – that the two groups most rabidly alienated from this scientific renaissance happen to be today’s farthest left and today’s entire, insane right.

== How this fallacy applies in scifi ==

But the worst silliness of articles and ravers like this is their simplistic inability to grasp scale

Sure, one can imagine or envision a far future in which “capitalist” exploiters run wild, burning the galaxy.  Heck, I portrayed that back in the early 1980s. But – as much as I enjoy tales like THE EXPANSE – they are impossible across the time scales envisioned.  

Across a mere two centuries, you cannot have both a rapidly expanding and resource-rich techno-industrial/scientific society and a tech-empowered populace driven into poverty by overpopulation. Malthus based his calculations on there being a limited supply of arable farmland. But, in any Expanse-like future, that supply is rising geometrically faster than human women can pour babies out of their wombs. Perhaps exponentially faster. (And that leaves out the ability to make food and other goods more directly, out of energy and raw materials, something we seem to be verging on, already.)

Scratch figures on an envelope. The Expanse is way fun! But there is zero chance that there'd be the warrens of teeming, underpaid prols in a civilization that is simultaneously building starships and mining the moons of Jupiter. Human wombs just cannot keep up fast enough to save Malthus.

Oh, I am not insisting the future will be free of poverty.  For one thing, those who are currently trying to re-establish feudalism need poverty to be widespread for their own, selfish reasons.  As Orwell described, in 1984, A cruel state may grind the majority into dust as a means of control, and because feudalism is inherently sadistic. But that’s another matter. It’s not the future of The Expanse, where there’s capitalism aplenty, but a sufficiency of democracy and consumer society and actual competition for wealth production not to be artificially limited. And where women are having ten or fewer kids.

No, if we truly do get the wealth of asteroids and a plethora of new techs to use it and the freedom to ensure minimal justice, there will be a myriad problems! Negotiating with AIs of course, and preventing rogues from dumping asteroids at Earth. Preventing us from speciating into gods and servants. Maintaining a liberal and worthy culture, and so on.  But assuming we navigate those shoals well, there ought to be enough wealth to end both poverty and depredations against our garden homeworld. If we have, by then, learned the science of incorporating externalities into market prices, then this attack on “capitalism” will seem quaint.

As, I hope, will be the wrath-spasms of feudalist oligarch dinosaurs.

== The one use for asteroids... blow em up! ==

Hey, as an old fan of the eponymous video game, I don't mind preparing, just in case of the worst.  Thus, NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have issued an outline plan - across the next 10 years -- to both prevent dangerous asteroids from striking Earth and prepare the country for the potential consequences of such an event.  A  catastrophic asteroid strike is "a low-probability but high-consequence event" for which "some degree of preparedness is necessary."

In the third objective out of five in the plan (I'd have recommended five more), NASA is asked to come up with new ways to deflect an asteroid heading toward Earth. This involves developing new technologies for "rapid-response NEO reconnaissance missions," in which a spacecraft could launch toward an Earth-bound asteroid and somehow change the space rock's course so that it no longer posed a threat. NASA had plans to attempt this with the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) in 2021, but the Trump administration scrapped that mission in 2017. For reasons described above.

And yes, some of us have been preparing for decades. You can be involved in private efforts via the B6-12Foundation. And no, this is not the same thing as seeking the riches out there.

== Lots of fermis ==

A new study conducted by Anders Sanberg, Eric Drexler and philosopher Tod Ord, from the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) at Oxford University, has reevaluated the Fermi paradox is in such a way that it makes it seem likely that humanity is alone in the observable Universe.While the effort is worthy - seeking a spread of the various input parameters of the famed Drake Equation - it still winds up rather tendentious, alas.

Sanberg is quoted: “One can answer [the Fermi Paradox] by saying intelligence is very rare, but then it needs to be tremendously rare. Another possibility is that intelligence doesn’t last very long, but it is enough that one civilization survives for it to become visible. Attempts at explaining it by having all intelligences acting in the same way (staying quiet, avoiding contact with us, transcending) fail since they require every individual belonging to every society in every civilization to behave in the same way, the strongest sociological claim ever. Claiming long-range settlement or communication are impossible requires assuming a surprisingly low technology ceiling. Whatever the answer is, it more or less has to be strange.”

As many of you know, I’ve long been involved in SETI – the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence – but am opposed to METI, or purposely beaming (yoohoo!) “messages” into the cosmos. Not so much because I lie sleepless, worrying about alien invaders. (See a scary-plausible scenario, though, in Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem.) But rather, because it is arrogant and unscientific and immoral to commit all of our children to a fateful course without thoroughly discussing the potential risks with both the public and humanity’s top sages.

U.S. Federal Appeals Court judge David Tatel lately raised another aspect about the arrogance of METI endeavors that seek to peremptorily bypass all of our institutions of wisdom and deliberation. One of the very first laws passed by the U.S. Congress, the Logan Act of 1799, prohibits any US citizen from negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.  

No one in 250 years has been prosecuted under the Logan Act, but it served a cautionary function, reminding would-be amateur diplomats to let professionals do their jobs. No act of private “diplomacy” could ever be more presumptuous and dangerous than drawing attention from potentially dangerous foreign powers in the sky.

And finally, from the sublime... to the...

== Aliens - or not? ==

Read up on the administration’s plans to get out of the business of managing and supporting the International Space Station by 2025, seven years from now.  And...

In a paper entitled “Cause of Cambrian Explosion – Terrestrial or Cosmic?” published in the Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology journal, 33 scientists researching the cause of the Cambrian Explosion – the mysterious point in Earth’s history when complex animals erupted in our oceans – add to the panspermia or cosmic cause hypothesis another layer: “the equally mysterious and sudden (later) appearance of octopuses.”  Hey, I do not deem this to be plausible! Still, it’s another example of the boldness of our scientific (sometimes more sf’nal) exploratory spirit.

“Octopuses are a special and highly unusual species that can edit their own RNA and slow down their evolution – a process that science can’t explain yet. It’s interesting that many scientists think the idea of intentional panspermia as their origin on Earth “should not be discounted.”  Oy!

103 comments:

Chris Heinz said...

I prefer "old lizards" to "dinosaurs".

Daniel Duffy said...

Too many visions of space colonization smack of Soviet style central planning (even when carried out by corporations like Tesla) with directed growth instead of organic growth driven by market forces, technology and the desirability of living in space.

Historical analogies are very helpful, especially those methods used to explore and exploit the resources of Earth’s Arctic regions. And there have been two approaches used in these efforts, the brute force centrally planning approach the Soviets used to open up Siberia; and the more natural, organic approach used by the Canadians in their Arctic north.

For an interesting comparison of Soviet colonization of Siberia vs. Canadian colonization of the Arctic see:

http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2003/09/fall-russia-hill)

For more than 50 years, Soviet planners built Siberian towns, industrial enterprises, and power stations—although often not roads—where they should never have been built. Huge cities and industrial enterprises, widely spread and for the most part isolated, now dot the vast region. Not a single Siberian city can be considered economically self-sufficient. And pumping large subsidies into Siberia deprives the rest of Russia of the chance for economic growth.

Canada offers an appropriate model. Canada's North is a resource base, but the bulk of the nation's people are located along the U.S. border, close to markets and in the warmest areas of the country. According to the 2002 Canadian Census, Canada's northern territories have less than 1 percent of the nation's total population. Canada's mining industry—and northern industry in general—relies on seasonal labor, with the labor pool shrinking during the coldest winter months and increasing again in summer.

Using the Canadian model, living in space would not be permanent. Instead, labor would perform short term tours of duty and return to earth instead of building massive domed cities and living in space permanently.

Canadians in spaaaaaaace, eh!

Daniel Duffy said...

If you want water and asteroids, colonize Ceres not Mars.

http://www.pagef30.com/2009/04/why-ceres-might-be-better-location-for.html

The near term future of manned colonization of space should be the asteroid belt. So instead of Mars, we should colonize the dwarf planet Ceres (the largest body in the asteroid belt) in order to establish a logistical base for asteroid prospecting and mining. Ceres has no significant gravity well to overcome and lots of water for life and fuel.

So instead of Star Fleet planting human colonies on the surfaces of planets, we'll have the Weyland-Yutani Corporation contracting out the asteroid equivalent of arctic oil rig and crab fishing operations - extremely dirty and dangerous work with a high death rate. Think "rough necks in space" performing work that makes investors back home extremely wealthy, mankind more prosperous and the workers themselves a small fortune with each service contract (if they live long enough to return to Earth to spend their money).

Maybe we'll have the occasional scientific base established on Mars and the Moon or floating in the atmosphere of Venus, but they'll be no bigger than a current Antarctic weather station. So forget about the bright, shiny and clean Enterprise piloted by bright young academy grads, our future in space is the dirty, gritty and dangerous Nostromo manned by blue collar truck drivers. In fact, our whole future in space will look more like the "Alien" universe instead of "Star Trek" (hopefully without face huggers and chest bursters).

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi
I can't remember if I have posted this on this site before - sorry if I'm repeating myself

Fermi Paradox
In Science Fiction we think of Earth as being a wet planet with oceans covering 70% of the planet
But wherever we look we seem to find lots of water
Maybe the Earth is "Dry" planet
Maybe the Impact that caused the moon removed 95% of our water
Maybe a "normal earth" would have oceans hundreds of Km deep

Life on Earth appears almost as soon as it possibly could - but the jump to "complex life" does not occur for over 2 Billion years

The deep oceans are "wet desserts" - no nutrients in the top layers and no sun in the bottom layers
Dry land and shallow seas are the productive areas

A primitive earth with deep oceans would only support a tiny fraction of the amount of life that an almost dry earth did - maybe one millionth as much? - life would be limited to the thermal vents - Like Europa???

With one millionth of the amount of life the jump to "complex life" that took us two Billion years could take longer than the life of the sun - or even the age of the universe

So if this is correct then we will only find complex life on "Earths" that have been smacked by mars sized bodies and lost 95% of their water

The amount of water lost could be critical - with twice as much water Earths biomass could be reduced by a large amount - 90% ? - making the 2 Billion years into 20 Billion - and more than the life of the sun
With half as much water- maybe the same

This requirement for an impact of the right size at the right time could make the Earth almost unique

Maybe we passed through the great filter right at the start of the solar system

David Brin said...

Duncan, I talked about "the Earth may be exceptionally dry" in my 1983 Great Silence paper. Earth sketes the very inner edge of the Sun's continuously habitable zone, for one thing. Though be careful. A water world with no continents will not have weathering, which enables an ocean to draw CO2 out of the air making carbonates. If CO2 builds up, so do temperatures, which presumably cause water loss until enough continents appear to get weathering. So it's likely an earthlike world may eventually get SOME continents, tho maybe less than Earth.

Robert said...

Dr. Brin, there is a simple solution as to why there are not a lot of spacefaring races out there. Earth is a Goldilocks Planet.

Let us consider: Mars is too small to retain an atmosphere long enough for intelligent life to form on it. Now it may be a planetoid impact was responsible for the loss of atmosphere (I've heard some claims that Olympus Mons was formed partly because of an impact on the opposite side of the planet) or that other processes disrupted Mars' magnetic field but the long and short is that Mars was (much like Baby Bear's bed) too small.

We hear of so-called SuperEarths with dense atmospheres and the like which could very likely support life... but these much like Papa Bear's bed are too large. If you cannot easily escape the atmosphere, then you can have all the life you want but you're going to be trapped on the surface of the planet. So you have to consider: at which point does planetary gravity and atmospheric density make it impossible to achieve planetary orbit? And even if you CAN achieve orbit... can you escape it?

How many planets have thriving civilizations that just never look outward because they can't escape their planet's gravity? And if some of these SuperEarths are located around red dwarf stars or the like, then the atmosphere may very well shield that world and its life but any satellite getting into orbit is going to get fried, and shielding is extra weight that makes it impossible to achieve orbit.

So. How many Earths are out there, which are not too small and not too large and manage to avoid asteroid impacts or other Extinction Events? That possess enough minerals close enough to the surface of the planet for an intelligent species to utilize? And then don't kill each other off?

There may be only a handful of civilizations that can escape their planet and achieve a solar system-wide civilization... and if their star is isolated from other stars or all their neighbors are small stars without much in the way of resources they may end up trapped in their own little pocket of the galaxy.

Rob H.

Slim Moldie said...

I'll offer my two scents on extraterrestrial colonization...

Putting my self in the shoes of an intelligent alien civilization--and I am weirdo--I think we've been assigned an exit task. Something transcendental.

Is it a physical goal like a Heechee asteroid?
The "uplifiting" of one of our near-sentient brothers?
Something utterly banal like maybe ubiquitous autofellatio?
The creation of smarter than human artificial intelligence?

I think it would have to be something collaborative, technological and spiritual. No locus pocus incants broadcasting cap-locked gibberish into space. Oh yeah, and I don't think another a star-fairing civilization would embrace a bunch of imposters: gung ho human gametes shooting around all milli vanilli aka the spores in the "The World Jones Made."









Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin
I should have expected that anything that obvious had already been mooted!

So CO2 builds up and the temperature increases - that would increase the rate that hydrogen would be lost
But by how much?

And would the CO2 build up when there was hundreds of km of ocean to dissolve in?

Hydrogen is lost https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_escape

3 kg/sec - 100 million kg/year - 100 Billion tons in a Billion years


A cubic Km of water is a Billion tons - (100 Million tons of Hydrogen)

The Earth is 500 million square km
So the top 1 km of the world ocean is 500 million cubic km

That represents 50,000 million million tons of Hydrogen - 50 x 10^15 tons

So if we were losing hydrogen at 1000 times the present rate a Billion years would lose
1 x 10^14 Tons

Even losing hydrogen at a million times the present rate would be 100 x 10^15 tons in a Billion years

Or two km off our 100 Km deep oceans in a Billion years

I just don't see that type of mechanism taking enough water off fast enough

Which means that a "wet" earth would stay "wet"

A smaller planet would lose it's water faster - but it would keep losing it's water!

If a planet started out with 100 km of water it would have to lose 98% of that to get to an earthlike state --Lets say 95% of it

But it would still be losing water

Lets say that the loss rate dropped to 10% - then it would go from too wet for lots of life to too dry in half of the time that it took to get dry enough

If it took 2 Billion years to develop complex life then a billion years to get to "humans" then that would be six billion years before the clock started ticking -
Nine billion years before the "humans"

It seems to me that a planet would have to start about as wet as earth is in order to have enough time

It's the 2 Billion years to develop complex life that's the barrier - maybe we were a bit slow



David Brin said...

Good points Duncan and Rob, though declaring that something is THE answer is an unnecessary arrogance, at this stage.

In fact, the Kepler results suggest the most common rocky worlds are at 1.5 Earth Masses and 2.5. And the later would have oceans that are very very hot. Unclear whether biochemistry would function well.

George Carty said...

Daniel,

Don't the problems the Soviets had with colonizing Siberia (as well as the history of the Austronesian peoples – the most wide-ranging on the planet prior to the European Age of Discovery) suggest that space colonization is unlikely?

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1024923442594738176.html

"The problem with space-mining scenarios is that to colonize space it's not sufficient for a resource to be abundant in space: It's necessary for it to be scarce, un-substitutable, and un-recyclable on earth. Given that our planet is a huge gravity well which attracted an amazing cornucopia of elements in its formation, that's a pretty massive advantage for Earth."

"Human civilization depends on chemicals and we're sitting on the most chemically diverse piece of rock out there. This thread has gone on way too long but that's why I'm sceptical too that "technology" will make space a more obvious option than it is now. The problems of extracting platinum in South Africa are largely on the scale of 'digging a really deep hole is difficult' and yet we talk quite sensibly about absolute scarcity. Digging holes is many orders of magnitude easier than mining asteroids!"

"When sci-fi scenarios talk about resource scarcity they mean 'there is literally none left on earth so we must go to space'. But there is no industrial element that is not super, super-abundant in that sense. When economists and miners talk about resource scarcity they mean 'it's hard to justify new investments at current long-term prices'. And the Siberian example shows why it's so hard to imagine a resource so attractive that it could justify the capex of space colonisation. As former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Yamani once said, 'The stone age didn't end because people ran out of stones'"

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew | The other fellow probably is NOT a sociopath. His sentence is strictly true, but mostly because 'fair' has little to do with 'rational'. There ARE rational ways to approximate it with large groups of people, but that is something different.

What he's doing is making the philosophical point. You don't have enough practice listening to libertarians, so you probably hear it as an excuse for 'Why I don't want to play the game your way.' We CAN reasonably question the assumptions built into the game without being sociopaths.

As for the generality of 'fair', though, I'm inclined to think we can find 'fair enough' on a scale 'large enough' that we rarely need authoritarians telling us what to do. (He and I would probably agree on some of that.) When a moderate fraction of us disagree about an process to achieve an objective, though, it's rather important that y'all pause a moment and and draw the distinction. Do we disagree with the process or the objective?

As for 'two pieces of cake', that only works in some societies. If you are born to a different culture where 'justice' has a different meaning, it doesn't work. Your definition works for egalitarians like us.

As for Putin, the other fellow is simply mistaken. Putin IS attempting to restore Russia's power to Soviet levels. Fortunately, Putin's attempt will fail the same way. They simply can't afford it. Forcing their people to do it impoverishes them and empowers their secret police to old-school levels. Either there is a revolution or a collapse. Russia has done this often down through the centuries.

Many people are mistaken about Putin's Russia. We really don't want to go to war with them and the 20th century was scary and exhausting. That means many of us will delude ourselves and prefer isolationism with respect to Russian power. It is not a wise course, though it is to be expected of Americans.

Alfred Differ said...

Siberia got 'colonized' long before the Soviets tried to dominate the region. Their difficulties say little about space colonization except to point out that forced colonization probably won't work well. Pre-history humans expanded to six continents without new-fangled technology. There is even decent evidence the Arctic got colonized twice. First by humans alone. Second by humans with domesticated wolves.

Focusing too much on the current economics of space mining is also a mistake. There is more to it than whether a resource is scarce, difficult to substitute, and difficult to recycle. There is also the issue of negative externalities that might get charged to producers and consumers instead of be shared out to everyone. Consider the messy process for refining platinum group metals. Some of those metals are highly toxic on their own, but the refinement process is ugly enough. Who pays for the environmental consequences? If we had options for finding and refining the stuff 'out there', the price of terrestrial platinum might change when the rest of us decide we are fed up with paying for the externalities associated with terrestrial mining of the PGM's. In other words, the economic balance moves under the influence of politics and the generation-to-generation drift concerning what gets tolerated and what doesn't any more.

When thinking about space colonization, it is useful to remember we are a species that has deep experience with colonization. No one needed macro-economic explanations to migrate from Africa to Eurasia each time we did it. In the broad 'hominid' sense, we've done it a lot. In the narrow, modern human sense we did it once or twice as far as we can tell right now, but we kept going to reach six continents. The last of the old migration waves was carrying us out into the Pacific finding tiny islands. No macro-economic theory involved. No advanced mathematics involved. Smart, crafty, risk taking humans is what was required. Most of us do NOT migrate, but a few do and that's enough to populate new lands with the descendants of risk takers.

NOW we have economic theories, mathematics, and a bazillion other useful tools. It's still likely that most of us will NOT migrate. That's okay. A few will do it for whatever reasons they find relevant. If they succeed, the bulk of humanity will be their children for they will outnumber those who chose not to go... eventually.

jim said...

Internalize the externalities
Sounds good, is good policy and I am for it but I don’t think it would be popular if implemented.

Lets just concentrate on the big one – fossil fuel.
Can we can agree that we need to increase the taxes on fossil fuels steadily, until they are so expensive that they aren’t used, and we need to do that as quickly as possible?

For those who said yes, a tax on fossil fuels effects most of the economy. A steadily increasing tax on most of the economy is going to reduce economic growth (at a minimum) or more likely cause a recession (maybe a depression). That is really unpopular. Who here is willing to be poorer even if it is just for a couple of decades during a transition from fossil fuels ?

matthew said...

Alfred, when your philosophy requires a buy in ("you don't have enough practice listening to libertarians") before it no longer resembles sociopathy, I will counter-posit that the fault is with the philosophy, not with the listener.

That said, I do appreciate the thoughtful response.

And I admit, that my main complaint with libertarians is over my percieved sociopathy of the movement. Well, and the problem with externalization of true costs of that sociopathic behavior that, to my eyes, is baked into the libertarian worldview.

Glad to hear you agree on Putin. I was frankly curious to see if the right-wing admiration for Putin had extended to the slightly-more-rational-wing of the libertarian movement. That begs a question - What do slightly-more-sane libertarians call themselves to differentiate from the rat-fuck-crazy propertarian libertarians?

Darrell E said...

Duncan,

Speculation as you presented here is about the best we can do at this point. And it's fun. But it's also important to keep firmly in mind that scenarios such as you presented are chains of SWAGs, each one highly speculative, each one involving very complex interactions and each one having anywhere from nearly none to a small amount of supporting data. We should also keep in mind that the large majority of much more informed speculations about other bodies right here in our own solar system, for which much more data has been available, even or especially within the sciences, have been shown to be wrong as more data becomes available, very often through multiple iterations.

It just isn't reasonable to give too much credence to any of these kinds of speculations. You probably don't need me to tell you any of this, just taking the opportunity to throw my 2 cents in the pot.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Not so much because I lie sleepless, worrying about alien invaders. (See a scary-plausible scenario, though, in Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem.)


What they did with two protons? That's stretching the definition of "plausible".

:)

Alfred Differ said...

matthew, I'll counter-counter-posit that had you more experience with us and our philosophy in kindergarten on up, you'd be able to hear and distinguish us from sociopaths. Like exposure to other forms of diversity, it helps to start early so we are an expected part of your model of society.

I say this in good humor, though, because you are managing fairly well, but I am kinda serious too. The path to tolerance starts with an admission like 'not all of them are the same.' In this sense 'the same' is the false stereotype we learn. Whether a stereotype involves race, religion, gender, SES, and so on it remains useful up until the we use them backwards in social modeling. A good stereotype enables us to quickly know personality features of people who would otherwise be strangers, but we fail when we decide those strangers ARE the stereotype and we mostly get away with it when the stereotype involves a small fraction of our community.

I know libertarians aren't a protected class of minority, but we ARE a minority and seem inclined to remain so. We are part of your community's diversity. We ARE human and helpful if all we manage to do is remind you why you don't accept certain propositions. We are NOT the stereotype, though. We are people who occasionally come close it it.

As for Putin, it is useful to know that I work as a US Navy contractor. I'm not exactly part of the protector clade, but I do work for them and agree with their mission most of the time. I just help keep up some of their infrastructure so they can focus on their core competency, but along the way I get security training and I'm motivated to add to it.

That puts me in an odd position with respect to my fellow libertarians who are often isolationists. When the subject comes up, I pull out some of the Stratfor material I've collected describing geopolitics as a subject that treats nations as if they were organisms of a kind. Many libertarians don't like to think about that even a little as it conflicts with their individualism. It DOES! There is some truth to it, though. When combined with how Ayn Rand failed to cope with the biological fact that individuals surrender some of their sovereignty when they choose to form families and raise children, it shreds the foundation arguments for strict individualism. The social atom is the family as any member of an eastern culture could tell us. Communities DO function to some degree as organisms. Nations do too. Humans are NOT modeled well by strict individualism. We aren't modeled well by strict communal models either.

So, please remember that those 'rat-fuck-crazy' propertarians are human and near the edge of our range of diversity. They are useful in that they will explore social solutions the rest of you won't even consider. They will imagine a community weirder than you can imagine, but in doing so they will explore what it means to be human. They might prove useful occasionally. Their relatively close siblings (the other libertarians) already are. Wanna go to the stars? You need us. We are the people with the weakest bonds to community and traditions. You need us.

matthew said...

Alfred, let me correct you on one supposition about me - I have known libertarians since before kindergarten. I have discussed politics with libertarians since before kindergarten. I have cut my teeth with hippie-utopian libertarians, I have spoken at length with white nationalist libertarians, propertarians, and drug-fiend stoned libertarians, all before I had ever read Adam Smith. I formed my opinions regarding the libertarian movement being sociopathy before I was 13, and have never seen evidence to change my mind. I went to a very technical college where the Libertarian Party registration was about a third of the voters.

*You* are the break in the libertarian stereotype. I like poking at *your* beliefs because ideas bounce off of you in unexpected directions some of the time.

But I don't really consider you a libertarian. You are something... different... in many ways. OK, you do repeat the idiotic "Taxation is theft" meme, but you veer away from libertarian orthodoxy in many other ways. This makes you very interesting to me, thus the constant needling.

Standard libertarian orthodoxy is selfish and sociopathic and damn dangerous, and getting more and more so since the oligarchs took over the messaging. I'm not a "thought police" but I am damn certain your political foe if you ever try to run some of the experiments you espouse.

Remember, I know Gary Johnson. I've played golf with him back when he was the libertarian-minded Governor of NM. I've tried to get him to fund higher education as a lobbyist. Trust me when I say that I've heard the arguments and have thought them through.

David says that the Libertarians could be the "loyal opposition" to the Progressives. I've given that thesis serious thought over the years and decided that I would rather not see the Libertarians get any real political power. Our world does not need another group trying to tear down any group effort to deal with the concentration of wealth and the dire environmental consequences to externalizing the costs of the number of humans. So, I'll act in a political manner to deny Libertarians (Big L) any real political power, if I can.

I'll just keep on fighting for my Progressive beliefs, and welcome fellow travelers when our goals coincide. But you'll never see me try to embrace your professed movement.

If libertarians were ever to become dominant politically, we wouldn't last three generations.


Jon S. said...

Daniel, the various Star Trek series have focused on Starfleet because they have the most exciting part of their future lives. However, there are future miners (TOS: "Devil In the Dark"), there are small, poorly-manned science outposts (many seen in TOS and TNG), there are civilian ships plying their trade between the stars (Harry Mudd in "Mudd's Women" and "I, Mudd", Cyrano Jones in "The Trouble With Tribbles"), there are even private corporations (like the consortium working to raise part of the Atlantic sea floor as a new continent on Earth in TNG: "Family").

So, in space there's room for both Starfleet and Weyland-Yutani.

David Salvia said...

Isn’t it an enormous assumption that if aliens showed up that we would recognize them or their machines as aliens, or even as living creatures? There could be objects that seem in every way to simply be rocks or boulders that could be living creatures or information gathering systems too sophisticated for us to suss out.

sociotard said...

A moon shot would at least remind the US that it was still great. Ask a bunch of grade schoolers what the US ever did that was great, and the lunar landings will be in the top five responses. And yet, there is a sense that those days are behind us. That we have diminished or stagnated.

Remember your quote? Indeed, later Ming Dynasty emperors were amazed by the clocks provided by visiting Europeans, till scholars chimed in: “Oh yes, we used to have such things.”

Indeed, US Presidents were amazed by the lunar landing footage provided by visiting Chinese, till scholars chimed in: "Oh yes, we used to do such things."

Strawman: Fool! We still do great things, from building gravity wave detection that might peer into the very womb of the big bang, to sending robots to comets and planets.

Neither of those do much to make us feel good about ourselves. Very few people can grasp the wonders of cutting edge astronomy (and US citizens are more innumerate than most). And the robots don't do it just because no hero = no excitement. They bring back data, but not nearly as much pride.

Strawman: So bring back riches from an asteroid. Give them pride Croesus style!

Valid. If it works. There are still a lot of technical challenges to overcome, but it should be possible. Meanwhile, if China makes it to the moon before we make it back, we will be stuck with maybe-possible-could-eventually hopes, and some fading memories of being great ourselves.

Remember, the space race wasn't so much a venture to learn about the glories of the universe as it was a pissing contest with the Soviets. Tell me how we're gonna win our present pissing contests.

sociotard said...

If you land a person, not a probe, on an asteroid or comet, that would do it, but I haven't seen that in any proposals.

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew | Okay. That's what I get for assuming too much about your background. I take back my stuff about tolerance and learning to hear us and offer my apology for the assumption. 8)

My identification with Libertarians comes from the fact that I'm a classical liberal with qualms about where progressives have taken the movement. I'm not upset at progressives, though. I'm married to one and many in my family are. My mother considered herself what we'd call a social democrat today.

Within my family, though, there is a streak of individualism. We argue 'Leave me be. Leave them be too because they'll figure it out and be stronger for it.' It's a pragmatic argument, though. If someone is starving or homeless, leaving them be for too long does damage and that's no good. This streak in me runs through my father whose family was essentially rescued by FDR and then WWII, so we've always held a mixed view.

I've talked about this with the local libertarians here in my county. They have no issue with classical liberals being part of the party and aren't even inclined to be purists with litmus tests. We disagree on a few things, but mostly agree with 'Leave me be and mostly leave others be too.' They knew on day one I disagreed with the party position regarding voter ID. They knew I wasn't a gun owner and had no issue with some limitations. They knew I'd compromise on taxation issues. Mostly, though, they knew I preferred to get part of what we want as part of a compromise rather than hold out for all of it and lose all of it. I'm more inclined to tilt in Johnson's direction than Rothbard's.

If libertarians were ever to become dominant politically, we wouldn't last three generations.

As they are now, I agree. It wouldn't happen, though. There would be blood on the streets first and I'm not joking. The purists come off as Thought Police.

So why did I join, hmm? Parties can be taken over by new ideas. Happens often.

Alfred Differ said...

@sociotard | Which pissing contests do you want to win?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

As for Putin, the other fellow is simply mistaken. Putin IS attempting to restore Russia's power to Soviet levels.


The guy on the previous thread was also mistaken about the topic. He was attacking the Krugman article I posted as if Krugman were calling Republicans hypocrites for opposing Soviet Russia but aligning with oligarch Russia. What Krugman actually said was a different thing, in fact...

For example, not long ago, Republicans insisted that Russia was our greatest threat, and that Barack Obama was betraying America by not confronting Vladimir Putin more forcefully; now Putin is one of the good guys, and the base has gone along with the change.


He was (correctly) calling Republicans hypocrites for saying President Obama was weak on Putin and then going weak-in-the-knees for Putin themselves.


Many people are mistaken about Putin's Russia. We really don't want to go to war with them and the 20th century was scary and exhausting.


We can be diplomatic and try to avoid a shooting war without submitting to Russian dominance. Conservatives used to be the ones insisting that the best way to peace is to be prepared for war. I guess that was just a tactical political argument even back then.


That means many of us will delude ourselves and prefer isolationism with respect to Russian power. It is not a wise course, though it is to be expected of Americans.


It's to be expected of American consumers. Not so much of the jingoistic Americans. It's certainly not to be expected of post-WWII Republicans.

Larry Hart said...

matthew:

And I admit, that my main complaint with libertarians is over my percieved sociopathy of the movement. Well, and the problem with externalization of true costs of that sociopathic behavior that, to my eyes, is baked into the libertarian worldview.


The problem I have with the previous thread's ""I choose for me, you choose for you" is that ignores when you and I must have adjudication between competing interests.

I'll use baseball as an example again because I'm one of those people who still thinks the Designated Hitter rule is evil. A libertarian could tell me that I'm free to watch or participate in NL baseball (without the DH) and he's free to do the same with AL baseball (with the DH). Fair and open competition for fans can determine which produced more compelling games and generates more revenue and whether there's a place for both or if one will supersede the other. So far, I'm ok with that.

But the analogue to the libertarian argument usually goes further into the realm of "You're free to play without using a DH and I'm free to play (in the same game) with a DH, and we'll see which one wins the game." They willfully conflate the two scenarios as if they are the same thing. One might as well say "I'm free to engage in force and fraud, and you can choose not to, and we'll see who ends up with more money or lives to tell the tale."

Larry Hart said...

David Salvia:

Isn’t it an enormous assumption that if aliens showed up that we would recognize them or their machines as aliens, or even as living creatures?


That's the conclusion I came to decades ago.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | That’s an easy mistake to make if one doesn’t read Krugman all the way through. I still think Krugman is mistaken, though. I don’t see it as hypocrisy as much as I see it as shock covered by a self-imposed denial/delusion.

What Trump did to the 2016 GOP part was pretty shocking to the establishment, but it shouldn’t have been. Ron Paul almost pulled it off in 2012. They don’t talk about it much, but he had a lot of things figured out and came close to taking the show at the convention. It doesn’t look like he was that close if one only looks at superficial information, but he had his people infiltrated among the delegates. What Ron Paul did was demonstrate the weakness of the party. What Trump did was exploit it.

I see the current flip by GOP folks regarding Russia as the kind of denial one must self-impose to avoid the facts associated with a personal disaster. Some wives refuse to believe their husbands were killed in action during a war and wait for them to come home for years. Some parents refuse to believe their children are dead of some sudden, surprising event. Avoidance of the emotional pain is the common theme. Any story that explains also rationalizes for them. Are they really digging it that the libruls trigger each time Trump tweets? Sure. Is it a cover story so they don’t have to think about how @#$@’ed they are when those libruls regain power some day? Yes. Think about what you and your friends would like to do in response to this disaster. (Isn’t that what Carter called it just the other day?) I’m not convinced they actually want to be supportive of Russia, but right now they have no better emotional choice.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | They willfully conflate the two scenarios as if they are the same thing.

Are you sure you aren’t the one conflating things? As far as I know, there is no one who gets to dictate what the league rules should be when it comes to market play. We sometimes agree on what they should be enough to impose them on the rest, but libertarians who challenge those rules are getting to the heart of the matter. Who gets to decide league rules? How? How large must the consensus be?

I’ve learned to appreciate NL rules mostly because I watch the Dodgers play and I enjoy seeing when a pitcher doesn’t make a fool of himself when he comes up to bat. A friend of mine explained years ago that the DH rule worked out to be about half a run per game in terms of its potential if one worked through the mound of statistics. AL teams could score slightly more runs for the obvious reason.

I don’t think this works as a good analogy to the markets, though. In MLB, team owners collude on the rules. How many does it take to make changes? How many did it take to change the one that encouraged runners to try to break up double plays by colliding with the guy defending 2nd? WHY they did it is obvious, but the teams collude. Do we want this in the markets? How? Is democracy required or can private law and arbitration cover most situations? How far can they go in all this before we risk majoritarian rule? How large should a consensus be before the minority bows to the inevitable? How large must a minority be before the consensus is blocked from harming social diversity in their push for rule conformity? There are no clear answers to all these questions when we ask them about our markets. There are arguments to be made and philosophical discussions to have, but when everyone is a team owner and there is no Commissioner, there are limits to what can be done short of coercion.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Are you sure you aren’t the one conflating things?


Maybe. As a good liberal, I always acknowledge the possibility I might be wrong.


Are they [GOP Trump supporters] really digging it that the libruls trigger each time Trump tweets? Sure. Is it a cover story so they don’t have to think about how @#$@’ed they are when those libruls regain power some day? Yes.


I think even that is a cover story--"We must hang onto power or they'll do unto us." What's it cover for? The realization that we're re-living 1930s Germany, and the aristocrats weren't screwed because of a communist reaction to Hitler, but because of Hitler himself. "Even with Republican control, we are so fucked because of what Trump is doing to undermine our institutions and society. We could have stopped him, but we didn't, and now we can't."

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Larry

The first (and biggest) problem with "The Three Body Problem" was a total miscomprehension of what the Three Body problem is and it's consequences!

YES - you cant predict the future out to infinity

But you can predict the future - just with ever growing uncertainty bars
AND as you move into the future your predictions move with you - you should never be "surprised"

A mathematician would say there is no solution - an engineer would just solve it

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

As far as I know, there is no one who gets to dictate what the league rules should be when it comes to market play.


I admit I didn't make the point very clearly.

What I was getting at was this: There are different rules for NL and AL baseball, but any individual game has a known set of rules governing it. We don't have different rules for each team and then claim that the rules that generates the highest number of runs has proven itself to be the better set of rules going forward.

I shouldn't have attributed this just to Libertarians, but there is a school of argument that says "If you don't like (for example) the DH rule, then you play without it, and I'll play against you with it, and we'll see which proves itself 'better'by winning the game." And to me, the logical extension of that is to say, "If you don't like murder and thievery, then don't do it yourself, but don't stop me from exercising my freedom to do them. And may the best man win."

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

A mathematician would say there is no solution - an engineer would just solve it


:)

David Brin said...


Matthew as hard as iut is for you to believe, I know many libertarians of the Alfred Differ mode. Yes, I tear my hair out over how many of the others have let themselves get talked into solipsistic or else oligarch-sucking versions of an overly simplistic creed that ignored the c-word “competition” in favor of the p- word “property…

… but then, what term would YOU apply to serious, soberadults who sincerely believe that one branch of potentially authoritarian elites to watch out for is overbearing governmental-regulatory bureaucracy? That IS a potential site for Orwellian over-reach, leading to oppression! Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” illustrates it, as does Kafka’s “The Trial.”

Yes, I believe – with huge evidence – that an older, more insatiably nasty elite looms out of both 99% of human history and out of male genetic drives… that of oligarchy and feudalism. But I would be perfectly happy – once we resume normal politics – for a mature Libertarian Movement – ideally based on the c-word and Adam Smith – to have a seat at the negotiating table, alert for ways that we might accomplish important goals with a minimum of paperwork and meddling from the state.

Again, I go into this in My general political essay in four parts - about the insipid/lobotomizing left-right "axis"- how history betrayed competitive creativity, and what libertarianism might look like, if it ever grew up.
http://tinyurl.com/polimodels

“I'll just keep on fighting for my Progressive beliefs, and welcome fellow travelers when our goals coincide. But you'll never see me try to embrace your professed movement.”

No one is asking you to! You know darned well that I’m fighting like mad to awaken folks to the dangers that the Greatest Generation resolved in calm, rooseveltean ways. But if libertarians can remember and read Adam Smith, then we will have real overlap. And their input: “Let’s see if we can achieve similar results in a less-paternalistically-cloying way,” will be welcome at the table.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | A mathematician would say there is no solution - an engineer would just solve it

Heh.

... and a physicist would say a numerical integration of the equation(s) of motion isn't a solution. It IS a prediction, though.

But you can predict the future - just with ever growing uncertainty bars

Not always. There are a lot of situations where the unknowns overwhelm quickly and sometimes catastrophically. Your predictions work in solution spaces where order is a reasonable expectation. We do a lot of work in that space, but mostly because that's where we have any hope of success.

(I haven't made it through 'Three Body Problem' yet. I had to put the book down after the initial scenes to cool off. )

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
With planetary orbits you can always predict -
While there may be a cusp where there are several solutions at some point in the future as you approach that point in time the additional data that you have will rule all but one of the solutions out - this will happen before you get there!

I would claim that we can ALWAYS predict within error bars - but I reserve the right to have humongous error bars

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | but any individual game has a known set of rules governing it

Close. I sound pedantic saying this, but they have a known set of 'written' rules governing it. There are a ton of unwritten rules that appear as customs, strategies, and what not. When was the first rule written against corking bats? Performance enhancement drugs? Defacing a baseball? Spiking the 2nd baseman? Rules get added to the game as the years go by.

What we do in the market isn't all that different except for two crucial details. The rulebook we use calls out 'illegal' play. Anything not in the book might be fair in the criminal sense. Civil suit risks are different. There is no single rulebook either. In the US, there are 50 state versions with variations on rules appropriate to different cities, counties, and economic recovery zones. There is a federal rulebook with variations for territories and the different US Court districts.

Progressives are mistaken if they believe there is one rulebook even if they focus on what constitutes moral/just behavior. We don't even agree with each other on that. Most of us CAN agree that murder is bad, but there are variations on that too. A brother killing a man who rapes his sister might not be seen as bad as the rape crime itself in some places, so even murder gets fuzzy on close examination.

Sapolsky's book is amazingly good at explaining this stuff. (Where in the world did Paul SB go anyway?)

As for the "And may the best man win" argument some libertarians use, they have a point about there being a lack of consensus regarding some behavioral limits. However, they can get pretty stupid when they take it to extremes. If my religion says I'm being most pious when I murder and eat babies, can I reasonably expect to be free to do that? Can I reasonably expect to avoid coercion at the hands of others? Pfft. I'd be lucky to get to a courtroom to state my defense. Some behaviors tempt the rest of us to break The Rule of Law. Seems likely I'd be murdered (with prejudice) before I could appear in front of a jury. When libertarians defend positions that are likely to prompt that kind of bloodshed, they are guilty of ignoring the fact that humans are fundamentally biological. Philosophy be damned at that point.


There is a wonderful distinction to be made between theoretical wisdom (Sophia) and practical wisdom (Prudentia) when we personify them using ancient symbols. There IS a difference between them in how they are acquired and used. Everyone has access to the lessons of prudence if they can reflect upon their experience. Only the educated get much from philosophy, though. (love of Sophia -> philo-sophia).

Libertarians are prone to argue they are educated lovers of Sophia, though they might not phrase it quite that way. Unfortunately, some are only barely educated and suffer from the Duning-Kruger effect. There is also the disturbing fact that some of us reject Prudentia in favor of Sophia. Ayn Rand's description of ideal human behavior has no practical connection to the fraction of humanity that chooses to have children, after all.

Matthew is correct when he argues that a Libertarian triumph right now would kill us within three generations. We'd be trying to be something other than the humans we actually are and that's been tried so often we have easy to remember names for the various cults who thought they Knew The Answers. Libertarians who reject Prudentia are fundamentally stupid in the head as far as I'm concerned. Whack them with a 'clue' bat and I won't mind. Libertarians who reject her fail as classical liberals, thus they fail to comprehend what liberty actually is.

Okay. I'm done with the personifications for tonight. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | Humongous error bars make a prediction a non-prediction as far as I'm concerned. I get what you are saying. Numerical integration methods/algorithms are powerful tools. There are a lot of situations, though, where we cannot get a grasp on predicting the error bars. That inability fundamentally undermines some methods in those situations. Of course, that doesn't prevent us from looking for other methods to cover those situations.

There comes a point, however, when we aren't really solving. We are applying heuristics which are pretty damn good. In practical situations, our engineers will say 'good enough' too and I'll agree. I won't be inclined to call them solutions, though. Heuristics have issues when it comes to solid explanatory support for an outcome.

Expert chess play is chock full of these heuristics. I don't have to look all that far ahead in terms of moves to place a high value on advancing my rook to the 7th rank deep in my opponent's defense. I might not know quite what to do with the rook yet, but I'll be tempted to do it because everyone knows most everyone does that absent a damn good reason not to do it. If you ever watch a game and see someone looking at that opportunity, your prediction error bars are low whether you or the player can see a 'solution' or not.

You were thinking of problems with a smaller number of dimensions? Physical problems? We still run into these situations even if we don't like to face them. Your field regarding material fractures is a wonderful example. Heuristics have limits that can be beaten if one works hard at producing a replacement model. Short of that, though, there are limits where the errors involve unknown unknowns. New models move the limits outward, but they are still there for the next generation to ponder. 8)

Duncan Cairncross said...

regarding material fractures is a wonderful example.

You mean where we use the Griffith Crack Criteria - despite knowing that his theory was completely wrong! - because it's such a good predictor of the failure point

Tony Fisk said...

For a break from the American clown circus, here's an update on its Australian counterpart. Got the popcorn ready?

The sharks have, indeed, smelled Turnbull's blood in the water from yesterday and are circling for the kill. Dutton wants another party room meeting and leadership spill. The lower house has shut down. (fyi Dutton has the intellect of Trump, the charisma of Pence, and the right wing caring/sharing attitude of both. He should be facing charges for crimes against Humanity. So, yes, his prominence suggests more tribeowhite shenanigans. Most commentators see Abbott's hand up Dutton, and Murdoch's hand up Abbott). There is also another contender: Scott Morrison (who is of similar disposition, but who does have sufficient presence of mind to spot inconvenient cameras.)

However, Turnbull has set a booby trap. Apart from setting the conditions for calling another leadership spill (delay tactics), he has stated that he will not re-contest if a spill occurs, and will resign his seat.

This will leave Dutton with a minority government, and a by-election at least. If he thinks Turnbull's 5 point gap in the polls was bad...!

Should I have suggested the size of popcorn bag to bring?

(Yes, I know people were laughing at Trump's chances. The Australian system is a bit more resistant to the tricks that play in America. That, and forewarning.)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"but any individual game has a known set of rules governing it"

Close. I sound pedantic saying this, but they have a known set of 'written' rules governing it. There are a ton of unwritten rules that appear as customs, strategies, and what not. When was the first rule written against corking bats? Performance enhancement drugs? Defacing a baseball? Spiking the 2nd baseman? Rules get added to the game as the years go by.


I'm not disagreeing. I think we're having two separate discussions.

My point is a negative one rather than an affirmative one--that there is one thing we don't do to determine the rules of a sporting event. That thing being have each team play under a different set of rules, and whichever one wins the game decides which set of rules is made official.

So why do we do that in politics?

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred,

Oh, and I forgot to mention that your list of unofficial rules skipped my (un-)favorite: that the runner is forced out at second base if the fielder is "in the vicinity" of the bag.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I tear my hair out over how many of the others have let themselves get talked into solipsistic or else oligarch-sucking versions of an overly simplistic creed that ignored the c-word “competition” in favor of the p- word “property…


Showing my age, I had to flash on George Carlin:
"I don't mind 'fuck' and 'shit', but 'p' and 'c' are out. 'P' and 'c' are out!"

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

(I haven't made it through 'Three Body Problem' yet. I had to put the book down after the initial scenes to cool off. )


If I'm remembering that initial section correctly (1969?), the book eventually goes off in a very different (though not entirely disconnected) direction. You're not into the real mystery of the book until a certain video game becomes prominent.

In this, the book reminded me very much of a novel called REAMDE (sic) which was close to a thousand pages long, and in the first third or so kept changing directions so often that I couldn't figure out just what the plot was going to be. I mean that as a good thing, btw.

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross* :

While there may be a cusp where there are several solutions at some point in the future as you approach that point in time the additional data that you have will rule all but one of the solutions out...


If backwards time-travel is ever a thing, I suspect this will also govern the so-called paradoxes involved in the effects on the present from altering the past. What happens if you go back in time and kill your grandfather before your father was conceived? I don't know, but there will be a mathematical solution which gives us the answer subject to physical constraints. (I don't personally believe that "creating a separate universe" is an option, matter-and-energy wise.)


I would claim that we can ALWAYS predict within error bars - but I reserve the right to have humongous error bars


You're both right. The point being that large enough error bars make the word "prediction" meaningless. It doesn't help me to know that I will die sometime between now and a billion years from now. But I can say with absolute certainty that I'll still be alive five seconds from now.

...

And I was right.

* "Orange" ya glad I didn't say Alfred?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ yet again:

When libertarians defend positions that are likely to prompt that kind of bloodshed, they are guilty of ignoring the fact that humans are fundamentally biological. Philosophy be damned at that point.


Yeah, it's taken a lot to bring peace-loving me to the point where a guillotine begins to seem like a reasonable solution.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ once more:

There is a wonderful distinction to be made between theoretical wisdom (Sophia) and practical wisdom (Prudentia) when we personify them using ancient symbols. There IS a difference between them in how they are acquired and used. Everyone has access to the lessons of prudence if they can reflect upon their experience. Only the educated get much from philosophy, though. (love of Sophia -> philo-sophia).


This is why I love coming "here".

:)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ twice more:

Ayn Rand's description of ideal human behavior has no practical connection to the fraction of humanity that chooses to have children, after all.


"Theory" vs "practice".

This reminds me of Dave Sim opining that people who choose to have children shouldn't have jobs until the kids are grown. His point was that an employer doesn't care that Ashley's throat is sore or that Justin has a soccer practice he needs a ride to--he wants someone whose only priority is doing his/her job. In theory, this makes sense from an employer's point of view. In practice, if the set of people with families to support is expressly forbidden from supporting their families, our entire civilization becomes pointless.

matthew said...

Hm, a lot to chew on in here. But one point I'd like to make. Both Alfred and David point out that there are what I'll call "moderate libertarians." True, in fact the first and best example I have is Alfred himself! But, like a honest conservative, these "moderate libertarians" have no power and no voice within the political organization Libertarian Party.

Similar to how I think that all people of good conscience have left the GOP, I think that calling "moderate libertarians" by the party name Libertarian is a misnomer and a mistake. Alfred points out that he is changing other libertarians by his presence and bringing some classically liberal (and even progressive!) thought to the small-l libertarians.This is all fine and good, and godspeed on your mission!

But, when David talks about Libertarianism being a home for the conservatives of good faith that leave the GOP, he plays down the crappy consequences of such a move. The big-L Libertarian Party is dominated by propertarians and oligarch-lovers. The last thing the conservative movement needs is to reinforce either or those dangerous ideologies, which are also present in the modern GOP. Suggesting that the Libertarian Party is a better alternative than the GOP for conservatives of good conscience just sets us up for a reinforced Libertarian Party with all the good stuff (personal liberty, the right of self-determination) chopped out of conservatism.

There is a home for conservatives of good faith - the Blue Dog Democrats. Centrist Democrats have been walking that particular tightrope since Carter, at least. Let's try to entice the conservative defectors to that home, instead of pushing them into the arms of the oligarchs.

Larry Hart said...

A random thought, inspired by a news item on the radio this morning...

The phrase "aluminum magnate" sure sounds like an oxymoron. :)

matthew said...

Slate does a thought experiment: what if Trump *is not* colluding with Russia?

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/08/trump-chose-putin-over-america-right-in-front-of-us.html

tl;dr - public evidence (laid out in exquisite detail in the article) shows that Trump is a danger to us all via his admiration for Putin without resorting to a Trump / Russia conspiracy.

Damn good summation. Know anyone that *might* be swayed by facts? Try this article on them.

Jim Lund said...

I'll admit the Expanse is an optimistic future--millions of colonists have left Earth for Mars or the belt, and generations have expanded this population to tens of millions.

Earth's population (barring die offs) would continue to increase--10B people by 2100, 15B people by 2200. In 2350, who knows, back to 10B, up to 25B? In this future, we can imagine resources coming back to earth, but what? Asteroids--minerals, ores? Yes. Some luxury goods and tech--the fusion drive! In an optimistic future, the average wealth of people on Earth is several fold higher, but what does this mean for the median wealth of people on Earth? Food is likely much more expensive, same for land. Energy is inexpensive (fusion! solar!), but baseline usage is much higher also. A lot of ecosystem 'services' we get for free today--air, water, sewage disposal, fisheries, climate would require active human management, so a lot of energy will be spent on that.

All in all, the Expanse future seems very optimistic, even on Earth.

Alfred Differ said...

Entirely off topic ---

If anyone knows someone with Red Hat experience who wants work as a sys admin on the IL side of St Louis, my employer wants to meet them. The work is at Scott AFB.


It's not easy finding people when the economy is doing as well as it is. Unemployment is pretty low and in our niche we are resorting to poaching. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding blackmail on Trump, over the last few days I'm beginning to wonder who does NOT have a lever like that on him. Seriously. The Russians might know useful stuff on him that can be used to direct his behavior and decisions, but his own people do too. Who doesn't?!

Seems his only viable defense is to not give a damn about the truth. Won't work, though, because he does give a damn about his children.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | people who choose to have children shouldn't have jobs until the kids are grown

Meh. What a waste. Had I been part of that community I would have pointed out that some employers are smart enough to recognize that their people are human and the company ain’t worth squat without people doing the work. All capital equipment requires maintenance if it is to be useful over the long haul. People require ‘maintenance’ too. Treat them like expendables and they will do the same in return.

As an investor, if I’m given an option to place my money with two essentially similar companies, but one maintains their people, I’ll pick the one that maintains their people. There costs are likely to be a little higher on certain lines in the budget and lower on other lines. Fundamentally, though, I think they will function more as a team making them more adaptable, better learners, and more robust.

Besides, if someone is going to ‘stay home’ for the kids, we all know what those expectations are, right? I think we’ve wasted the talent women have for FAR too long. 8)

Larry Hart said...

matthew:

Slate does a thought experiment: what if Trump *is not* colluding with Russia?


I've thought something similar--what if it is proven that the voting machines (or the registration records) were actually altered in such a way as to throw the election? To me, that would make Trump's presidency illegitimate, regardless of collusion with a foreign power, whether or not he was personally involved in the crime.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

As an investor, if I’m given an option to place my money with two essentially similar companies, but one maintains their people, I’ll pick the one that maintains their people


That used to be more common than it is now. Within my living memory, companies used to want to locate where there were good roads and schools and general infrastructure in order to attract and retain good people. Now it seems like a race to the bottom as to who offers the least in tax-supported services so that the tax bill itself is low or non-existent.

Russell Osterlund said...

Here is another take on the risks associated with our desire to study our interstellar neighbors:

Is Humanity About To Accidentally Declare Interstellar War On Alien Civilizations? by Ethan Siegel from his "Starts With A Bang" blog.

https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/is-humanity-about-to-accidentally-declare-interstellar-war-on-alien-civilizations-d086518a4522

He argues how the Breakthrough Starshot initiative might end in disaster and unintentionally start an interstellar war. The uncontrolled probes might accidentally strike a planet with devastating consequences - think projectiles at tremendous speeds entering the atmosphere.

Larry Hart said...

What if aliens have been watching Donald Trump on our tv transmissions for the past 14 years or so?

Alfred Differ said...

Matthew | "moderate libertarians" have no power and no voice within the political organization Libertarian Party.

I think that is a little cynical. At the county level I can have as much power as I want. It’s a small group. All I have to do is put my hand up and volunteer. They will assign work to me. If I’m still doing it when the party elections come around, I can likely ask for whatever county level chair I want. I was starting this process in 2013-14, but had to back out when my health took a nose dive. I’m recovered now and returning to their meetings to see who is still around and meet new faces. (I discovered our former county chair ran for mayor of Oxnard. He is trying again in November. If I was a resident of the city, I’d vote for him.)

It’s not so much that my presence changes others in the group. It’s that my voice gives support to others who are often exhausted by the nuts. When your best candidate pulls 1% of the vote on a good day, party meetings can feel more like social support events than anything else. When your party treasurer reports dismal donations and the need to drop support for basic IT tools because they ‘cost too much’, it can discourage future donors and even party membership dues. With all that, it can feel like there is no point to the effort. People with the spine and drive to act do so anyway, but they function as a team of one. One doesn’t influence society that way let alone win elections. The solution is to give voice to the exhausted people. Make it clear to them how many of them there are and see if THEY will do a bit more work if they provide support to each other.

During the 2012 election, I was still registered as a Democrat in CA. I voted for Johnson, though, because the Democrats really didn’t need my help securing CA for Obama. The state folks have been drifting away from the Blue Dogs for a while, though, and that was the faction with which I identified. I’m still what I am and don’t mind local Democrats going where the majority of their voters prefer, but that left me with a choice. Do I remain as a lonely voice among Democrats or as a lonely voice among Libertarians? Voting isn’t about voting for the person you think is going to win. It’s supposed to be about expressing a preference for who wins. Therefore, it wasn’t required that I remain loyal to the Democrats. I re-registered after 2012, but not out of anger. They moved ‘that-a-way’ so I went ‘this-a-way’.

David Brin said...

“Ayn Rand's description of ideal human behavior has no practical connection to the fraction of humanity that chooses to have children, after all.”

Nor to the fraction who do not want to languish under feudal oppression under the pampered-silver-spoon children of those Randians who do breed.

“There is a home for conservatives of good faith - the Blue Dog Democrats. Centrist Democrats have been walking that particular tightrope since Carter, at least. Let's try to entice the conservative defectors to that home, instead of pushing them into the arms of the oligarchs.”

Well, in fact I agree. The best possible outcome would be for an overwhelmingly victorious DP to then courteously split and the Blur Dogs to represent the heirs of Adam Smith who actually want capitalism to be flat-fair-creativ-functional. I’d welcome minority green and adult-libertarian parties, who speak for the Earth and for fewer pages of regulation.

Jim Lund, I don’t see it. The wealth you are talking about is risen geometrically in the Expanse cosmos while the population has merely doubled.

Treebeard said...

The future is space feudalism. When expansion runs into the realities of this impractically large universe, the final frontier will close around our planet, our solar system or our galaxy. Scientific and technological development will level off and become received wisdom. Stability will be the most important value because there will be no prospect of major change and no place to offload the crazy people. Priests and lords who can keep people happy in this environment will be the highest caste. Inventors and revolutionaries who disrupt the status quo will strictly proscribed. Terminator scenarios will be avoided in favor of mental training schools. It can be the future, if we play our cards right.

Duncan Cairncross said...

As an investor, if I’m given an option to place my money with two essentially similar companies, but one maintains their people, I’ll pick the one that maintains their people

I nearly got the sack for that

I worked for Cummins at one of the British factories and I got fed up with the Americans saying that we were one of their least profitable factories because we paid our workers a decent wage (over twice what the US workers got)
So I ran the total numbers
We had a larger labour bill - but our "Repair and Warranty" costs were a LOT lower - the net result was that far from being more expensive we were the cheapest!
Talk about a fart in a spacesuit -
My boss was able to find and hide all of the copies before it got out too far but I came very close to getting the sack!!

Alfred Differ said...

@treebeard | That's a path to extinction. If we are going to end ourselves quickly, I'd rather walk the expansion path and risk transcendence/terminator scenarios.

Duncan Cairncross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | I worked for Cummins briefly in 2004 at their HQ in Indiana. I was a subcontractor there for IT work. The contractor through which I worked said it had a two year future. I got there and decided it had a two week future. TCS was running their IT shop (out/in-sourced) and it wasn't going well from where I sat. 8)

Our host talks about the dangers MBA's create.
I think of Cummins when he does.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

the final frontier will close around our planet, our solar system or our galaxy.
...
Stability will be the most important value because there will be no prospect of major change and no place to offload the crazy people.


I dunno, the galaxy is still a pretty big place.

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

We had a larger labour bill - but our "Repair and Warranty" costs were a LOT lower - the net result was that far from being more expensive we were the cheapest!
Talk about a fart in a spacesuit -
My boss was able to find and hide all of the copies before it got out too far but I came very close to getting the sack!!


Forgive my denseness here, but what exactly was so threatening that it mustn't be known? I can see the head honchos not wanting to be embarrassed about being wrong, but at least in private I would think they'd want to know what really makes or saves them money, not cover it up simply to justify being mean to their workers.

Maybe my question is, who must that Soylent-Green-like secret be kept secret from?

David Brin said...

Treebeard gets a prize. Seriously. His assertion - except the final sentence - is a very-well-expressed explication of the likely odds for where this all ends. The odds have always been against Periclean Experiments like ours. They do, indeed, favor the standard pattern of 6000 years, which is reinforced by male reproductive success for top dogs. (Alas, not kibble, like him.)

Indeed, the feudal attractor state is so strong that I put it in my top three hypotheses for the Fermi Paradox, because Darwin will reinforce the pattern, once it digs in... and because the vast, deathlike silence out there is exactly what will be expected, if this attractor state truly is unavoidable. Because - alas - feudalism is also decisively stoooopid at statecraft. We've accomplished more -- in every single human desideratum, including every conceivable measure of happiness and yes, soulfulness and art etc, let alone science, justice and understanding -- than all feudal nations and centuries combined, by orders of magnitude. None of whom would ever have left the cradle.

Which brings us to his last sentence which, alas, fell back into form and revealed his fundamental vileness and insanity. But I can parse distinctions! Putting that final sad truth aside, yes fellah, there are reasons to believe humanity could be the ones to evade the trap and accomplish something truly wonderful. Perhaps even rescuing quadrillions out there.

But it will take bucking the odds.

David Brin said...

Yes, LarryHart. If "crazy people" do manage to offload themselves to some hospitable shore, even once, then we crazies get the galaxy... and will be overwhelming neighbors to the feudal dominated Earth. Which is why the lords are guaranteed to crush every "crazy" idiosyncrasy. Every variation. As they did across most of history.

Tony Fisk said...

Scott "this is coal" Morrison is Australia's new PM.A small step up from Dutton.

I wouldn't be too concerned about high velocity nano craft causing wars. "Contact" put it more succinctly with the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | Duncan would be in a position to know the particulars for Cummins, but it has been my experience that middle and lower management is often deathly afraid of embarrassing upper management with the truth.

I have no way to confirm one story I know with my first employer, but it involved one developer learning of a formula error in a spreadsheet used by Accounting to state our profits. We were a publicly traded company, so revealing that to the public would have caused our stock price to get hammered and lead to investigations. The developer wanted it revealed to the CEO so he had a chance to do something about it, but the management folks immediately over him said he should not. He went around them and revealed it during a project meeting that involved the CEO. Of course, the CEO was quite surprised, but so was the AVP who had planned to prevent this revelation. The developer was told to leave the meeting immediately by the AVP and then he was escorted form the building by security. That AVP personally made sure he was off campus and formally fired immediately. To my knowledge, the formula error was never revealed and the AVP survived and went on to a promotion (eventually) at a well known bank currently coping with account fraud scandals.

Embarrassing executive management kills careers. Not coping with errors kills companies. If you are a line manager who can find work elsewhere, you are more motivated by the first danger. If you are an investor you are more motivated by the second danger. If you are a CEO, which one do you think would win out? (Remember CEO's report to a Board.)

Winter7 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

So... I attended an informal dinner event with our local LP folks tonight. Basically the county level party organization. The executive folks were there and I was the first non-exec to show up. Within minutes they were scheming to figure out which party position they could give me to put me to work. I'm an IT guy, so I dodged and offered to help the other IT guy share the load.

Later in the evening, one other new guy showed up. Non-exec. Turns out he has actual experience getting people elected in WV. They pounced and gave him a committee chair. Turns out he's pretty reasonable and knows the difference between having principles and pontificating about them in front of potential voters.

My informal poll results made it clear that of the seven of us there at the end, only one might have difficulty understanding that politics is about persuasion instead of preaching. Among other libertarians, four WERE inclined to preach a bit and one was very clear about his caucus membership. Turns out they mostly agreed with each other, though. Disagreements centered on which effort was worth prioritizing at the moment which is very reasonable.

There was only one, however, who had been there more than 5 years. I know there are folks who have been around longer, but they were busy doing other stuff tonight. One is trying to get elected mayor.

Why report this? County politics is different than national politics. Meet your county level libertarians and you might get a different experience than you would at the state and national levels. They new guy had something to say about that too. He preferred to focus on local elections with state legislature being the furthest away. He argued it was premature to reach for national seats. Someone else pointed out that Gary Johnson was running for the Senate in NM. We all kinda smiled at that and let it go. Seems possible he will pull more votes than their GOP candidate, but obviously wasn't a big concern for a county-level CA LP group.

'Competition' didn't come up, though some bits of Austrian economic theory did. Most of it centered on the inability of government to deliver certain services progressives want them to deliver. No surprises there.

There were NO propertarians present. Ponder that.

Winter7 said...

Remember that I mentioned that class 5 hurricanes had the ability to attract trillions of tons of water, enough water to take the tectonic plates off balance, triggering earthquakes?
Well, the unusual Hurricane Lane, with its class variations from five to 3 and then back to class five, has coincided with unusually powerful earthquakes in the state of Oregon and in Argentina.
¿Do you remember that when a hurricane was in the state of Florida, the water in Caribbean islands receded? ¡And it was not a tsunami! ¡A class 5 hurricane can attract huge amounts of water to itself! ¡My theory is confirmed! (Too bad there is no Nobel Prize for climate science) But, anyway.
I hope my discovery helps to anticipate earthquakes in seismic zones ...
I wonder if it would be any good to evacuate people from the Hawaiian Islands to the northern part of the larger island. Those huge mountains could serve as a shield ... But if it rains a lot, the avalanches of mud could cause many victims. I suspect that many elders who moved to the islands will refuse to leave their homes, thanks to a great religious faith.
Global warming causes very interesting distortions in climate cycles. And the sea is dying ...

Winter7 said...

I agree with Dr. Brin's hypothesis that it is possible that our planet has been an area where aliens in the distant past carried out the planting of diverse forms of life.
In fact, it is possible that the extraterrestrial visits in the distant past of our world have been many more than we imagined. Maybe I will not miss much for the next visit. Will our cosmic parents come to request our union to the galactic federation, or maybe they simply come back to reap what they sow? And if the second reason is what will motivate them, I wonder if nuclear weapons will be enough to survive. (That might be possible, if during the battles the Donald Trump followers do not shoot us in the back).
Maybe the aliens have already returned. And they came to an agreement with the feudal leaders ... that would explain many things ...
Let's have positive ideas: If there is an extraterrestrial invasion and we win the war (at least if we defeat the first wave) then the technology to build interstellar ships could fall into our hands!
Then we could create our own fleet to launch a counterattack against the "convenant" (which will undoubtedly have become allies of the Confederates), and then we can colonize other worlds. (As a security measure, you have to create other human worlds, because it is clear that if the land was attacked once, then the aliens who took the trouble of such a long journey are not going to give up so easily. Once, they'll probably come back with a very powerful weapon.
Hence, it is vital that our world is not the only world of the human species.

Winter7 said...

Regarding the issue of "The Expansion" ... I see that Dr. Brin mentioned that the new colonies in the solar system are an opportunity to start new nations that are free from the monstrous feudal epidemic. True.
And it is also true that feudal leaders will try to quietly crush any attempt to create a truly free new nation. And I also agree that the evil of feudalism is undoubtedly a plague that has decimated the whole universe with wars, to the extent that most of the most advanced civilizations in the universe have ceased to exist for millions of years. The malignant force of feudalism requires slaves and total power to survive. And sooner or later, heroes willing to fight for freedom will always emerge. But the fight is never even. The plague of feudalism always has more power and resources. Hence, the wars caused by the monolithic feudal intransigence almost always result in the destruction of all intelligent civilizations. Well, who, being intelligent, accepts with good cheer, the slavery and looting of their world?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Embarrassing executive management kills careers. Not coping with errors kills companies. If you are a line manager who can find work elsewhere, you are more motivated by the first danger. If you are an investor you are more motivated by the second danger. If you are a CEO, which one do you think would win out? (Remember CEO's report to a Board.)


First of all, I'm not trying to argue that reality doesn't work the way it does. I'm just trying to comprehend the personal and/or political motivations at work.

From context, I presume the answer is that the CEO cares more about pleasing executive management than about maximizing profit, but it seems that what one would look for would be ways of accomplishing both. Certainly not calling out a management error publicly, but maybe getting the right people to fix the error without calling too much attention to it? In Duncan's case, if the company could pretend to be compassionate by raising worker pay and quietly know that they'd actually save money and no one made a public point of saying "You were wrong all along", I don't understand why they wouldn't want to go for that.

I get that no one likes to look foolish or admit error, but I also thought maximizing profit was the Zeroth Law of Corporatics. Aggressively firing someone for suggesting a way of doing that? If nothing else, this would seem to put to bed the notion that business knows what they're doing more than government does because business has to deal with reality.

Berial said...

From the stories from Alfred and Duncan, and the analysis that Larry put forth, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that our 'big corporations' are already functioning along the lines of Feudalism and the lower classes must NEVER question their betters and those that do are...removed from (their) society. Ain't authoritarianism great!

Zepp Jamieson said...

@ Winter 7 "class 5 hurricanes"

Those aren't an uncommon phenomena in the Pacific, particularly the western side. And while they involve enormous amounts of energy and transport billions of tonnes of water, they have little or no effect on tectonic plates.
However, over the past two weeks there has been an unusual amount of activity all around the so-called "ring of fire" -- some 135 quakes over 5.0, 18 over 7.0, one over 8.0. This morning Peru had a 7.2 just off shore. There's no link between this and storm activity, but it's clear that something is going on.
On octopi: If they were indeed "late arrivals" (post cambrian) it stands to reason their DNA would be distinctly different from existing Earthly life forms. Is it?

Larry Hart said...

Without even reading further, I have admire the snarky headline :)

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Aug24.html#item-1

Trump Can No Longer Control Pecker

...

matthew said...

The Zeroeth Law of Corporations is Upper Level Management will lie, cheat, and steal to try and get to the CEO / Chairman / Board level. I've seen exceptions, but they are a distinct minority (and maybe just better at pulling the wool over my eyes).

It's a miracle that anything gets done at a corporate level given the corruption, but it's a miracle of balanced competitive interests. Our host likes to talk about cooperation / competition as great driving force because he's right about it. Even when the behavior is cooperation / competition in manipulating internal metrics to make various managers look good.

David Brin said...

AD: "There were NO propertarians present. Ponder that."

Yes, but the reflex is still there. Most Libertarians admit that both oligarchs and civil servants can be dangers to liberty and markets. But when push comes to shove, they'll look away from the former and yell at the latter. In this particular era, that is willful blindness.

Winter7 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Winter7 said...



Zepp Jamieson:

"class 5 hurricanes"

"Those aren't an uncommon phenomena in the Pacific, particularly the western side. And while they involve enormous amounts of energy and transport billions of tonnes of water, they have little or no effect on tectonic plates."

Hoo. I knew what someone would say. But I was ready. The super- earthquake in Mexico City occurred at a time when Hurricane Irma was a class 5 hurricane.
The next two links show that the Oregon earthquake occurred when Hurricane Lane was in class 5.
Hurricane Lane, a Category 5 storm, threatening Hawaii. Link:
https://abcnews.go.com/US/hurricane-lane-category-storm-threatening-hawaii/story?id=57303255

A 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Oregon Aug. 22, 2018. Link:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/oregon-earthquake-aftershock-today-2018-08-22/

And here goes my original publication. At the end of that article, there is the YouTube link that shows the images of how the sea receded on the coast of the Caribbean islands, proof that hurricanes are powerful to attract huge amounts of water, taking catastrophic balances out of balance tectonic faults that connect with the plate out of balance:

And I have another theory; of another matter:
Puerto Rico has been devastated by a Class 5 hurricane. Another hurricane recently left devastation in Miami Florida. And with global warming, hurricanes class 5 will be the norm not the exception. If we continue to burn fossil fuels this planet will be hell.
On the way. Did you see videos of Caribbean islands and coasts where water receded as it does before a tsunami? This time it happened during the presence of Hurricane Irma. And occurred the slight earthquake ancestor in Mexico. And now there is another class five hurricane in the Caribbean and another major earthquake occurs.
The key is the recession of the waters, where the water is very low. This indicates a gigantic relocation of trillions of tons of water to the suction zone under hurricane class 5. As the weight of water on the Gulf of Mexico is lightened, it is logical for the continually-strained tectonic plates to bend and unlock, causing huge earthquakes. If the simple technique of oil extraction fracking causes earthquakes in the United States, imagine what can cause tectonic plate stress to dislodge trillions of tons of water from one area of the sea to another, by the presence of an effect of suction caused by a class 5 hurricane that we humans create as global warming increases.
Watch video of sea kick in many places:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQd7iYaM2_4

locumranch said...

With his incessant talk about asteroid 'wealth', our host continues to ignore the implacable metrics of Supply & Demand as their relative resource value as depends on their ongoing inaccessibility, meaning that the value of said resources approaches nada, zip & zero at the very moment of successful harvest, as detailed in the article below:

https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/space/nasa-announces-2022-mission-to-explore-metal-asteroid-so-valuable-it-could-crash-the-world-economy/news-story/5e0fbb77dc43d304a92f1540cba84c0f

Plus, there's the added danger of the weaponisation of said asteroid wealth as the orbit-to-surface impact of 3 cubic meter block of pure gold would exceed the kinetic energy of a 3 Kiloton nuclear blast.

Of course, asteroid resources that pose a significant threat to Earthsiders still DO possess a significant value to humanity, but if & ONLY IF they remain in orbit well outside of the terrestrial gravity well, to serve as substrate for any potential off-world human expansion.

Unfortunately, both the Star_Trek & Expanse-like futures become increasingly unlikely, especially once we factor in the existence ideological sociopaths like Matthew who demand obedience from, deny the humanity of & plan the extinction of all who would oppose them, up to & including the most innocuous 'Leave Me Alone' libertarian.

The temptation to use & abuse the tactical high ground (aka 'Orbit') for personal advantage is far too high, I fear, for most modern humans to resist because 'power corrupts & absolute power corrupts absolutely', to the extent that those in orbit will invariably become our New Lords, Ladies & Masters.


Best

Winter7 said...

Zepp Jamieson:
As for the matter of the extraterrestrial DNA of the octopuses. You claim that the DNA of the octopus is not extraterrestrial because if so, it would have to be totally different from the DNA of the rest of the species.
But. What if all the DNA of the terrestrial species was sown? The extraterrestrials simply arrive from time to time with more mutated species and add them for unknown reasons. A beautiful holiday garden, for the inhabitants of the globular cluster M-13; maybe?

Winter7 said...

Berial:
Many companies function as brutal fiefdoms. In Mexico, I have seen how a beautiful girl was harassed and finally subdued by one of the company's managers.
I realized and I offered my support. I told him to report. But the girl refused. She needed the job because her mother was sick.
And there are all those abuses of forcing workers to clean or use toxic chemicals without adequate protection among other abuses.
It is important to find a way to prevent companies from owning their own fiefdoms with slaves. I can not think of how to make changes in that aspect. I hope someone has a solution to that problem someday.
Definitely, I'm not surprised that many entrepreneurs are the root of feudalism. (Not all)

Alfred Differ said...

@David | True in general. The jury is still out on the particular people in my group, but I'll freely admit the odds favor your statement.

=== (To help Matthew deal with our variation…)

From my perspective, that reflex makes sense in a world where the civil servants are more powerful than the rich people. When it is the other way around, we impose a cost that undermines support of social safety nets. Progressives are understandably annoyed at that. I get it.

My reading of Adam Smith suggests his complaint was mostly about the overlap between the rich and the rulers. The blurring of a boundary like that leads to market rules that favor previous winners and a positive feedback loop. Your feudal feedback loop.

My reading of history suggests that feedback loop broke because government was weak and fractured in some places and an ideological contagion caught hold. That doesn’t mean the rich were nice people worthy of our admiration. I just means they couldn’t fix the rules and the bourgeois got free of their (somewhat self-)imposed leash. The class of people who lost that control is largely dead in The West, but there are wannabees among the haute bourgeoisie. So… sure, the danger remains.

Countering that reflex is problematic, though. It is the very thing that breaks the feedback loop because a respect for property rights also protects the petite bourgeois among us. One of the seven people at our event last night was in that clade which makes her one of the rarest libertarians. Two were obvious small business owners and might even have hired employees. A third one was ex-military who saw people die in Iraq over a conflict he feels should not have happened and wouldn’t have happened except for the stupidity government is capable of creating. (Hard to argue with that.) One retired guy who still thinks of IT as Data Processing. Heh. Only one of the business people, though, knew enough economic theory to be an agent with a strong reflex. [I didn’t see it in him over the last three events, but he does get the connection between property rights and a pro-choice stance.] All of them are protected, however, by a respect for property rights.

That’s not where your concern points I’m sure. You are pointing at the golf buddy clade and how our respect for their property defends them. Yup. Still… I’m more concerned what they do with the property than with their ownership of it. I think of it a bit like I do about cameras and microphones and then I fold in your transparency argument. It’s okay to own them. It’s okay to use them, but we can debate reasonable limits. It’s not okay to use them to distort markets in ways that undermine Smith, Hayek, von Mises, Popper, and many others who have taken pains to teach us what Liberty means and the connection between her and our virtues.

Property isn’t the problem. What goes on between our ears is. If someone is using their property like a weapon, I’ll flex and consider support for taking it from them. It has to be pretty obvious, though, or we risk harming the petite bourgeoisie with our fix.

Alfred Differ said...

If there are extraterrestrial forms here on Earth, my money would be on the fungi. If I was an evil godling who wanted to take over a galaxy full of independently derived life on a bazillion planets, I'd send an army capable of softening them up first. Something that could hijack their own biology to redirect their behavior. Something that could feed off their deaths. Something occasionally pretty and occasionally ugly.

Fungi. (shudder)

Alfred Differ said...

matthew | The Zeroeth Law of Corporations is Upper Level Management will lie, cheat, and steal to try and get to the CEO / Chairman / Board level. I've seen exceptions, but they are a distinct minority (and maybe just better at pulling the wool over my eyes).

That's the kind of cynicism that I think is capable of killing this civilization. It leaves no room for virtuous behavior at the top. I know you think there are rare exceptions, but the story this tells is that we should assume guilt until innocence is proven. It says they play a zero-sum game. That is precisely the story aristocrats told of the bourgeoisie in centuries past. No one can get ahead as a merchant without that coming at the expense of someone else. That tale was re-enforced by the priests and the peasantry bought it.

I accept that there are cheaters at that level, but I refuse to tell a story that will convince the people around me that they all must be. I could wave my hands and say exceptions will happen, but that won't be enough to prevent rule changes that screw them all on the assumption of guilt. It's simply NOT true that they all cheat. It isn't even true that most of them cheat. It's even farther from the truth that most of us are cheated.

I invite you to think about the long term consequences of your cynicism. You do damage to the foundation in your efforts to help people standing on it.

Alfred Differ said...

@Berial | The old attractor is still there. It’s a part of us where ever we go. 8/

A few years ago I was reading one of Hayek’s essays that focused on the history of liberalism. He was looking at the effect on us associated with explosive population growth in England and the break-down of expectations placed on second and third sons in larger families. In a society where primogeniture dominates and political power rests with land owners, most sons own little and can’t vote. They express their power through their older brothers. In the new emerging world, though, second and third sons had a path to independent wealth. Some of the same rules applied on lower SES rungs too even if no one had a meaningful franchise.

The essay was actually rather depressing, because by the end of it he had sketched out what ‘wage slavery’ actually meant and how it tied to our feudal past. I won’t go into detail and I won’t quite him. He wrote it in his older, pedantic, academic style, so it was a dense read. My take-away, though, was that my urge to seek employment is highly related to my urge to seek the protection of a lord. Only the lord-less truly understand how to cope with uncertainty around income and they know precisely how to fix that. Own rentable properties. Collude with other lords when it is useful. Attack them when they threaten one’s rents. The rest of us hide from this reality believing in the lord’s income because we have to in order to believe in the stability of our own income.

Basically, Hayek made the argument that when we industrialized and moved to the cities, many second and third sons replaced their brothers and lords with their bosses and then carried on with a life still mostly within the parameters they understood. This became a problem in liberal societies when we gave them the vote. The voted as their new lords wanted because they could be scared into doing so to secure their incomes. Hayek made the argument that only the self-employed avoided this mental trap, but we didn’t limit the franchise to them. How could we?

Ever since reading Hayek on this subject, I realized my drive to become self-employed was connected to my rejection of serving any lords. I also realized how much easier it is to serve. Employment isn’t really wage slavery, but it is a kind of serfdom if one lets it be. In that role, many corporate behaviors make a lot more sense. It's unhealthy to piss of our lords. We are descendants of survivors of the Attractor. We know this in our bones.

Improbus Liber said...

@Alfred

It is hard to tell the difference between cynicism and cold hard truth nowadays.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

If I was an evil godling who wanted to take over a galaxy full of independently derived life on a bazillion planets, I'd send an army capable of softening them up first.


Kudzu?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:


Employment isn’t really wage slavery, but it is a kind of serfdom if one lets it be.


Employment isn't slavery if the contract between employer and employee is limited to wages and work duties. It looks more like slavery when the employer has control over any aspect of your life (on or off the job) and especially when he also owns the means of survival as his private property, and is therefore free to withhold it at will. I know you don't consider that to be "coercion", but I don't see a great difference between robbery at gunpoint vs. threatening with eviction and starvation.


Ever since reading Hayek on this subject, I realized my drive to become self-employed was connected to my rejection of serving any lords.


As our society is presently structured, I don't think it is possible for everyone to become self-employed. So I'm glad it works for you, and your life can serve as an inspiration, but as a general solution to the socio-political problem, it seems to me to be of a kind with Germany insisting that every country should become a net-exporter like they did, or claiming that everyone is free to win the lottery.

David Brin said...

Alfred, the distinction is simple. Below some level, property empowers flat-fair-open competition without empowering cheating. Above some level, it empowers small clades of colluding oligarchs to cheat and crush competition.

This is not just Adam Smith - he says it many times - or the fundamental reason for the American Revolution. It is also as plain as the nose on anyone's face

ALL good things become toxic when overly concentrated -- water, oxygen, food... and property.

Sure, we can argue endlessly over what "level" this transition takes place. The Greatest generation used FDR to clamp hard on power abuses by oligarchs and to level the playing field. Their parents used a different Roosevelt to do the same thing with anti-monopoly tools. Since 1980, the sole purpose of the GOP has been to tear down every trace of those social contracts, and at every step growth declined, as did middle class health, while oligarchy flourished and ever-smaller clades of aristocrats chose winners and losers.

Any pro-competition libertarian who ignores all this -- who sets the objectional level of property concentration at infinity -- is no libertarian. He's either a fool or a shill or one of them.

===

Wow, both treebeard and locumranch have taken vitamins! While they remain loathesome apologists for the feudalism that failed us and oppressed us for ages, at least they are expressing it, this time, with somewhat less than outright, hysterically blatant lies.

What they do NOT do is justify their preference, by giving examples of why it will be preferable to settle into an ant-like existence, with a genetic queen-caste and serf-worker-drones. They can't express their fantasy - that they'd be the ones on top, knowing that everyone here would explode in hilarity. Kibble, fantacizing it's a top dog...

...so they only blather generalities. But soft. Hold. I ask again, in sweet - even unctuous - curiosity. Show us your desired world, fellows! What will be better and why we should ignore 6000 years of ignominious failure and stupidity.

Darrell E said...

John McCain is throwing in the towel and will soon die. He is about the only Republican in recent years that actually seems to have a conscience, some integrity, and to vote it on occasion even against his party. I've sometimes admired him, respected him and often very much disagreed with him. I hope he dies peacefully. I wish he had a few more years in him though. Compared to his Party fellows he is damn near an ally and his replacement sure won't be.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re - The Zeroth Law of corporations

The problem is that if two similar people want to be promoted the person who concentrates on being promoted will beat the one who concentrates on doing the job - EVERY TIME -
For the same reason that somebody who works at something will always be better than somebody who just dabbles

This means that senior management is full of people who are good at being promoted

Alfred - "It’s not okay to use them to distort markets"
The problem with that is that you don't need to do any abuse in order to "distort markets"
The mere fact of a large amount of wealth does that on it's own without any human intervention
I already knew that the market was a positive feedback system - them as HAS - GETS
But until I read Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century I did not realise that that effect That I can see easily here near the bottom - How much return are YOU getting on your savings? -
Was still operative at the top - a mere $10 Million invested does not give as good a return as $100 million

Capitalism is GREAT! - but like all powerful tools it needs a firm grip to keep it under control

The Cummins issue
Senior management "Knows" that the idea is to pay as little as possible - this is NOT subject to argument or to "facts" - management training has been saying this forever - even people like Elon Musk have been taken in by this
The "Pay as little as possible" is now like a religion
By saying that it was NOT the correct thing to do I was peeing on the alter of their god
Luckily my boss - a cynical old Glaswegian - was smart enough to know this and to apply a piece of 2 x 4 to my noggin until I got the idea

Alfred Differ said...

@Improbus Liber | The key difference is the overtone of hopelessness. I don't think Matthew is that far gone. Far from it as evidence by his will to fight for his beliefs.

Stories that portray hopelessness are problematic, though. Hope is a virtue added to the traditional Greek list by Acquinas. It's opposite is despair. We can scratch off this civilization if too many of us despair.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Winter 7 said, "But. What if all the DNA of the terrestrial species was sown?"

Then it would make sense that the octopi would be of the same DNA "family". I consider panspermia to be a valid conjecture (lacking evidence one way or the other, conjecture is the appropriate term). Whether it was "sown" or simply piggybacked in on a comet is also a matter of opinion, and any belief in the matter falls into the category of religious belief.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Winter 7, on "class 5 hurricanes"

Congruence is not causation. There have been any number of major earthquakes that did not occur while a category 5 hurricane was blowing and vice versa. The "ring of fire" has had 125 earthquakes of 5.0 and above in the two weeks prior to Hurricane Lane. Meteorologists and Geologists have put considerable effort into determining if there was a correlation, and none has been found.
If a hurricane approaches land perpendicularly (from the east in my example, with the coast running north-south), the land south of the eye will experience strong off-shore breezes, which will push ocean waters back. North of the eye, the coast will experience the well-known "storm surge" which is often the most destructive element of a hurricane. After the eye has gone inland, the waters off the coast will experience extraordinarily strong rip currents parallel to the coast as tidal heights go back to equilibrium.
The Oregon quake, even though it did no harm and wasn't very large, was worrisome because it's very close to a high-tension part of the Cascadian subduction zone, a spot capable of unleashing a 9.0. Odds are good it's just a one-off, but it could also be a cocking event.

David Brin said...

onward

omward

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Zepp

The historical data is
Life appeared pretty damn quickly - as soon as the earth was cool enough
BUT then it stayed as simple life for at least two Billion years
Then it exploded ito everything

That period - that huge period where simple life dominated IMHO is a major argument against any form of random panspermia
And an argument that the Earth had ZERO "alien visitors" during that huge timespan

So there are non religious arguments!