Saturday, December 01, 2018

Human Morality: from Mexico's Solution to GHW Bush to AI(!) to Climate Change to SETI


-This time we'll dive into the nature of morality, whether aliens might share some of our basic codes... and not share others. But first, let's clear some pressing items... 

There's been fervid discussion of my previous posting on "things the new, Democratic-run House of Representatives can accomplish, even with a hostile Senate and President." As it happens, there are plenty, like rescinding the 2001 War Powers resolution, restoring the requirement that a president get Congressional permission to go to war. Alas, Blogger ate my followup Part Two, about actual legislation, but I have hopes to restore it soon.

In the news: 

Today Mexico gets a new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Here's a link to my August piece respectfully recommending a simple procedure - he would not need any legislation - to rip the guts out of corruption in his country. Single-handedly he could set an example that would spread around the world. 

Also today we note the passing of a fellow who was the only Republican vice-presidential nominee ever remotely qualified for office... and boy was he qualified, on paper! As president he later was known for decorum, calm, deliberation and personal decency (remember such Republicans?) He also -- because of lickspittle obedience to oligarchic masters -- did more damage to America and the world in just one term than any other president of the 20th Century, setting the stage for a renewed -- and much hotter -- version of the Cold War.

 == A soft landing for AI? For Blockchain? ==

Getting more than we bargained for: here's one of my best interviews about Artificial Intelligence and ways to get a "soft" singularity. Good questions and editing by Paul Thies at Thomson-Reuters. My proposal regarding AI is (alas) not offered anywhere else, though it's the only one that can possibly work... because it already has worked, increasingly well, for 200 years.

I’m on the advisory board of several ICOs or “initial coin offerings”… groups creating blockchain tokens that are supposed to serve a useful function inside a digital community, with (officially) no outer world promises that would violate securities laws.  I am known as the “grouch” you want on such an advisory board, reminding these folks to stay out of jail! 

And in that spirit, let me offer you all a glimpse of this exciting opportunity. Follow the trail… for a surprise.

== ... and for climate change? ==

My friend neural scientist and author William Calvin has given amazing talks on how the arrival of extreme weather events is a harbinger alarm. He reminds us when “a mega heat wave struckEurope in July 2003. It killed 70,000 people! A hundred times more than any 20th Century event, like the 1995 Chicago heat wave that killed 739. A statistical freak? Well, one in a million does occasionally happen, you know...

...only it was not a one-off! Seven years later, two time zones farther east, another mega killed 56,000 Russians, ruined a third of their food crops and helped propel hunger in the middle east. "The chances of both being random? One in a million million. So, forget statistics: we have a new player in action, a real game-changer lacking a track record to help us judge risk by conventional means.”

Calvin continues: “About ten years ago, billion-dollar-plus floods started occurring four times as often— not counting coastal flooding from hurricanes. Those billion-dollar windstorms that rip off your roof? Or cause baseball-sized hail? Their numbers tripled after 2006…”

“The jet stream used to stay up at Canadian latitudes most of the time…Now its path is frequently seen to dip down south, sometimes to Texas and Florida. It acts as a road block, so that weather cannot move on. If the sun is shining, no clouds arrive to cool things off and the heat keeps building. If instead it just keeps raining, floods result.” Or else, in winter, it allows a needle of arctic-bitter cold to spear south, as we saw last year. (And Fox declared the cold “disproved global warming.”)

The beneficiary? As arctic cold spills down the Mississippi Valley, polar ice vanishes giving Russia  a dozen new ports and control over a valuable new shipping lanes.

As hurricane seasons worsen and wildfire seasons widen, even some Republicans have noticed. In possibly as a sop to the RASRs (residually adult-sane Republicans) who still teeter inside the GOP tent — meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier, an expert on extreme weather, has been nominated to the long-vacant position of presidential science advisor.  Extreme weather would seem to be a pertinent and Droegemeier’s former colleagues say his views on climate change align with those of most scientists. Alas, the Donald Trump who railed that “glaciers are advancing as never before!” probably will never meet with him.

My own riff on Climate Denialism is about the fundamental illogic. It's one thing to say: "If 1% of scientists still have doubts then there are questions." It's another thing to claim: "No public policy actions should be taken, just in case 99% of scientists turn out to be right, after all.Join millions using their voices and everyday choices to tackle the climate crisis. The Climate Reality Project. i

Okay, on to the main topic...

== Natural morality? ==

A major argument in the SETI/METI community concerns morality -- whether aliens will have any like ours. Or weirdly different. 

We can point to values that were common among most human societies, like not-stealing and not-lying and most of the Ten Commandments, or TC. (Though apparently whole bunches of them performed human sacrifice, torture and infanticide.) Even when it comes to TC-basics, one can quibble. Not only are those recorded societies human, but nearly all were agricultural or else warlike. Some (a few) feminist  anthropologists contend those two activities favor male-strength, hence patriarchal moral systems. Certainly, there are science fiction thought experiments by Charnas, LeGuin, Yarbro, and many others (including my own Glory Season) that portray female-led civilizations having more communal and less-coercive moral systems. There likely will be such experiments… though I suspect there weren’t many in the past.

What about other species? Certainly higher animals have displayed two of our strongest interaction traits, one positive, the other negative… altruism and revenge. I didn’t have to anthropomorphize to show chimps and dolphins doing both. It’s already in their nature. 

Something more basic seems to pervade the realm of creatures who are sub-sapient -- the moral code of quid-pro-quo. Tit for tat. You do something for me and I’ll do something for you. It’s been observed in lions and penguins, lemurs and parrots.

This is one reason why METI aficionados who want to “beam the Internet skyward” are plumb loco. Any advanced aliens out there may or may not have a broadly inclusive sense of altruism, like a modern liberal person. (We can hope so, though it would be dumb to stake our destinies on it.) But if quid-pro-quo is a general rule, then aliens out there will understand trade. Commerce. Buying and selling. And what is the only thing that can be traded across the vast gulfs of space?

Information, coded in photons. Art, music, inventions, literature, culture. Those are our trade goods! And while I oppose METI for lots of reasons, if we pick up a signal showing we’re known, then the jig is up, and we might as well send them some samples of what we have to offer in trade. 

Samples! Not everything off our shelves! 
There may be no greater criminals across all of time than those who give away every scrap that we could have traded for wonders.

== Human morality is different? Toddlers Like Winners, But How They Win Matters ==

Unlike other primates, human toddlers watching a competition don't appreciate victors who shove rivals out of the way. Even little kids prefer high status characters who aren't bullies. As this article points out, even at 20 months, our babes have a different, more subtle moral compass than even our closest relatives, like chimpanzees. Moreover, tellingly, it is not the morality of feudalism, the system that a few cheating males always imposed in most continents, across the last 6000 years.

I have a theory about this, that I name “Niven’s Rule,” after my friend Larry Niven, who illustrated the concept in many stories, though never saying it, explicitly. 

“A sapient species will start off with a moral system centered on how their un-sapient ancestors ate.”

- If you meet high-tech herd herbivores out there – like Niven’s “puppeteers” – they are likely to be paranoid.  

- A descendant of pack carnivores will likely have huge empathy within the “pack” or later tribe/nation, but none for those outside. 

- Heirs of stalking carnivores will probably have wide/broad empathy – a tiger must envision the thinking of the deer – but very little sympathy

- God help us, if we ever meet descendants of solitary-omnivorous-infanticidal nasties like bears.

Us? We come from stock who were gregarious, omnivorous tree dwellers who then dropped down to roam the plains, slow but with the greatest long range endurance of any land animal. Expert throwers and singers who like to be interdependent in a tribe, but also can and do spend long periods alone. Oh, and we teamed up with dogs, sharing food. Flexibility appears to be the theme. And I wonder if any of this bears upon the Fermi Paradox.

It encourages me to ponder that our infants already dislike bullies and cheaters. (May we transport and amplify this lesson, into our politics!) But remember that even our ape cousins don’t share that new variant on morality. If we do finally go forth out there, as teachers, we may have a big job cut out for us.

152 comments:

more weight said...

What do you think of the theory that the human brain evolved by *sexual* selection? If intelligence is a peacock's tail, morality is likely to be self-handicapping as well, at least in part. It's much harder to succeed while following rules, much harder to provide for others needs instead of just your own. This should be true anywhere.

David Brin said...

more weight see my academically published paper:"Neoteny and Two-Way Sexual Selection in Human Evolution."

http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/neoteny1.html

And yes, I have written sci fi suggesting that a Fifth Feminism might take charge of their own destiny and help their children, by giving women and girls tech-enhanced powers to pick and choose mates better.

Deuxglass said...

Well here in France we are experiencing the French Revolution 2.0
It's very interesting and completely unexpected. The serfs are revolting and a part of the professional class looks to be joining them and the Royalty is incapable of changing their behavior.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Deuxglass -- no kidding?!? Can you throw up some examples or links? Hopefully your revolution 2.0 is more egalitarian than the way ours has been proceeding.

more weight said...

Dr Brin

Wow fascinating!

more weight said...

"In this context, one might be tempted by an unusual interpretation of the "Venus-Ishtar" stone figurines found in neolithic sites — depicting female forms with exaggerated breasts and hourglass figures. Perhaps they were portable and artificial permission cues, serving much the same function as the milder forms of pornography do today, allowing solitary males to release pent-up physiological tension that accumulates behind a dam of inhibitions that pre-date any religious stricture."

Most of them have their knees together? With the spectacular exception of the Venus of Hohlefels.

Tony Fisk said...

In addition to dominating bullies, children can also show a dislike of competition. They may prefer to go back and help a fallen friend than win the race, or not be put in a position where they beat a friend. This may be more prevalent in girls.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Your “Niven’s Rule” seems to be a special case of what I have long considered your own First Law of Xenopsychology:

“A sapient species will start off with a moral system based on how their un-sapient ancestors survived.”

A species that relied on camouflage will be avoidant and untrusting, considering humans overly gregarious and hubristic. A species that relied on migration will be covetous — you don’t spend the energy to constantly move if there isn’t something constantly wrong with your environment, and you’re going to always want to protect against whatever that was. A species that required hibernation is more likely to be schizoid, given to navel-gazing and solitary mental pursuits. On the flip side, members of a species that survives almost entirely on cooperation is more likely to have dependency, needing to feel the presence of its fellows to be fully functional.

Niven’s races display this tendency, as do Ringo’s from Legacy of the Aldenata and your own Gubru and Tymbrimi.

I therefore propose your original statement to be Niven’s corollary to this First Law.

Tim Wolter said...

David, any historical figure is going to have a mixed record, and one that often is seen in a different light as time passes. We disagree significantly on GHW Bush. As a bit of data to consider I offer the following.

GHWB apparently attended the first ever FIRST robotics competition back in 1992. He remained involved and the then former President also was a surprise guest at the 2008 FIRST World competition. He marvelously said that it was "...like World Wrestling Federation, but for smart people". He then gave an (unofficial of course) Presidential directive to "now go invent something."

He may not have been perfect. None of us are. But in my estimation he was a good man, a better man in fact than either you or I.

T.Wolter

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Tim

Bush may have been a "Good man" - but his actions made a potential ally into an enemy

David Brin said...

Tim I respect you. But someone who declares "Saddam is an evil madman who kills his own people..." who then went on radio personally to ask the shiites of southern Iraq to rise up IN OUR NAMES, with promises that "we are on our way," who then has the consequences laid before him by his generals and an intel agency he once directed, knowing with intelligence and certainty what the consequences would be...

...then STILL ignores all pleadings and advice and turns around to give Saddam permission to use helicopter gunships to retake Basra in a blood bath they still remember with utter hatred today...

...after all that are... you... kidding... me? It was a holocaust-level crime and has only one explanation. His Saudi masters did not want a Shiite-Arab mini-state to emerge on the Gulf. There are zero other conceivable explanations for why Bush did not take away from Saddam the oil rich south and protect its people, the way were already protecting the Kurds in the north -- a huge success, by the way. ( Left in an impoverished Baghdad region, Saddam would soon then have been deposed.)

Forget the million people Saddam killed after that. Forget the fact that that Shiite-Arab mini state would have been our adoring friends, instead enduring 12 years of hell and then turning to Iran. Forget all that and ponder just this: that one decision cost the lives of every single US serviceman who died in the 2nd Iraq War. Every single man and women that Bush Jr sent in (based on WMD lies) was directly killed by Bush Senior not letting Schwarzkopf take Basra.

As was every journalist and liberty lover in Moscow who has been murdered by Putin's oligarch mafia.

The Bush family is a cadet branch of the Saudi royal house. They have said so openly! W himself said he was partly raised by "Prince Bandie". There are photos of him kissing princes on the mouth and walking holding hands.

Was Senior a smarter and more courteous fellow than his wretched sons? Sure. When not under orders from oligarchs to betray us, he was probably sincere from one day to the next. And in those days, the oligarchs gave orders sparingly. But I'll not abide minimizing the way the world would have been vastly better if GHWB's crewmates had survived that WWII plane crash, instead of him.

David Brin said...

Look at this image, Tim. Watch the video of two masters with their lackey in the background.

https://www.news.com.au/world/south-america/saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-vladimir-putin-highfive-at-g20/news-story/afd04a3966ed128f28362fe5b45d5aa7?fbclid=IwAR1syzHYFhWjfbVywM8l1i6LaZ_rvb3F63AhrrnkH5J1UNNpkfeQwe-gtk0

You are needed. Stop writhing and looking for excuses. It's time.

David Brin said...

Oh, and how effective he was about the Tiananmen Square massacre.

donzelion said...

"There are zero other conceivable explanations for why Bush did not take away from Saddam the oil rich south and protect its people"

There are a hundred other conceivable explanations for why, including the truth.

SOME in the intel community did indeed believe 'liberating' the South would be easy, cheap, and serve national security interests (nobody thought that about the Kurds, though they also have impressive oil reserves in their turf). SOME thought otherwise, esp. the crew of people who actually spoke Arabic. Since they 'got it wrong' (according to another faction), the purge that wiped out Glaspie extended to other Arabists, and a fairly broad set of anuitants lost their extended contracts and settled for their adjunct faculty jobs at universities...for the intel community, both Clinton & Bush Jr continued the 'dissent = career suicide' procedure - setting the stage for 2003.

Of course, it's easier to just blame the Saudis as Bush's master. After all, when oil fell to less than $20/barrel, they were surely pumping that excess in order to addict America to cheap oil (and not to try to pay off government debts...no, surely not that...to obvious, and everyone knows that you don't follow the money, follow brilliant people who don't know anything about the region - that'll always point you true - just ask Donald).

locumranch said...

William Calvin has given amazing talks on how the arrival of extreme weather events is a harbinger alarm.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_heat_waves

July 1757 heatwave, Europe, hottest summer in 500 years prior to 2003.

August 1896 Eastern North America heat wave killed 1,500 people

February 1900 Argentina known as "the week of fire" affects the city of Buenos Aires and Rosario causing at least more than 478 fatalities.

July 1901 eastern United States heat wave killed 9,500.

August 1906 United Kingdom heat wave which began in August and lasted into September broke numerous records.

July 1911 United Kingdom heat wave was one of the most severe periods of heat to hit the country with temperatures around 36 °C (97 °F) didn't let up until mid September.

October 1923 to April 1924 Western Australian town of Marble reached 100 °F (38 °C) for 160 consecutive days.

1936 North American heat wave during the Dust Bowl, responsible for > 5000 deaths, followed one of the coldest winters on record, the 1936 North American cold wave.

A major argument in the SETI/METI community concerns morality

http://fortune.com/2018/12/01/neil-degrasse-tyson-allegations/

The world-famous astrophysicist is under investigation after two women claimed he behaved inappropriately with them—and an old rape claim re-emerged online.

So much for superior human morality...

Listen to Deuxglass, you silly twits, because the world you think you know is coming to an end:

The Yellow Vests are rioting in Paris; the Italian Right is repudiating EU migrant & financial policy; a Hard Brexit is coming to the UK near you; and the Blue Urban elite has alienated its deplorable conservative protector castes.


Best

donzelion said...

"The Bush family is a cadet branch of the Saudi royal house."
This is diplo-speak: 'true' in the sense that there was a positive public relationship, false in that the purpose of that relationship was never what the public imagined.

Again, re-read (if you can) the rise and fall of Adnan Kashoggi, figure out which princes were behind that particular gent (as well as significant US and British law in response), and start following the money, not the half-truths fed by either the Bushes or certain voices who 'know' better. (During the '90s, it would also have been proper to follow that money to the climate change denialist groups - and then watch when the finances changed...a bit after 2003...and then figure out exactly why...)

Or not. After all, making the argument will demonstrate your utility to other players looking for conduits to float silly (but factually inaccurate) claims.

Lloyd Flack said...

There are other explanations for Bus Sr's failure. I think he was counting on an uprising against him for loosing the War. He was thinking of Saddam's regime as a military dictatorship similar to those that have formed in Europe, South America and East Asia. And the Middle Eastern variety is different.
Also other Arab powers were concerned that if Iraq's military was gutted the Iran would have a freer hand.
Your explanations probably correct as far as it goes. But I doubt it is the whole story.
This does not justify his actions and inaction but makes them more understandable. Who else might have made the same mistake in his place?

more weight said...

"Tyson says he was trying to find Dr. Allers’ tattoo of Pluto, which may have been obscured by her dress. “I was reported to have ‘groped’ her by searching ‘up her dress’, when this was simply a search under the covered part of her shoulder of the sleeveless dress,” he wrote."

Oh Jesus Christ.

Tony Fisk said...

Sad news about the admiral of the US Fifth Fleet.
Depression has been described as a fatal illness, and being in charge of an organization that size is no sinecure.
I'm inclined to think it was suicide, but recent events make it hard not to rule out "messages".

Tony Fisk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Fisk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Fisk said...

News here

David Brin said...

Squirming and lawyering don't cut it. He publicly proclaimed "rise up! we are coming!" That was a pledge made in all our names and on the nation's honor. He was told what would happen and he gave Saddam permission to retake Basra with helicopter gunships. What conceivable excuse can there be for that? Especially after the slaughter began and US commanders begged for permission to intervene?

Did you ever see the George Clooney flick THREE KINGS? It is precisely about this. And pretty accurate I'm told.

I find it deeply disturbing that one of the holocaust-level crimes of the 20th Century, for which we bear much guilt, is not being mentioned anywhere, by anyone, even though it resulted in today's Iran-dominated Middle East. A stupid consequence the Saudis did not want, when they ordered HWB to hold back and let the Basrans be slaughtered,

donzelion, if we could protect the Kurd with just some overflights and threats, we could have protected the marsh arabs with a giant army camped by Basra. There were ZERO voices saying it would not be easy! Show me one person who thought Schwarzkopf couldn't take Basra almost without firing a shot, as Republican Guard troops thre up their hands by the thousands. We could have let those captured Sunni soldiers self-organize into non-Baathist brigades and sent them north to settle Saddam. But instead we handed unarmed prisoners back in ones and twos to Saddam's commanders preventing insurrection.

There are no excuses. Saying so, does not make it so. And that fact that this blotch on our honor... which we pay for, daily, in regional quagmires and later cost thousands of US lives too... is utterly ignored is not my fault. Others shopuld be shouting it, instead of singing praises to a holocaust-level war criminal.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to climate change, some disturbing articles (like this one: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/27/magazine/insect-apocalypse.html) about how increased temperatures have caused many insect species to decrease by 70-80%, causing animals that ate them to also decrease drastically. Though on the plus side a new job position: hand-pollination to replace bees....

-- Ron --

Anonymous said...



Alfred Differ:
Alfred. The diseases you are talking about are a complicated issue. I suggest the use of stem cell therapy. In fact, there is a similar therapy that I did not mention, because you would not consider the alternative solution something ethical.
But stem cell therapy is fine. And I suggest that you try to consume high amounts of antioxidants; vegetables and fruits.
I also suggest taking B vitamins; zinc; vitamin D; alga spirulina; magnesium; vitamin C of one gram in the morning and at night; and instead of soft drinks, take lemonade or guava water.
Take liquefied alfalfa leaves liquefied with water and a little sugar. (Chlorophyll is an excellent alternative to regenerate cellular tissues after exposure to high doses of radiation and in the case of your sister and you, it would be convenient. (It was not for frivolity that a writer mentioned that Iron Man took chlorophyll shakes for survive the radiation of your radioactive heart).
I also suggest cooked flaxseed and oatmeal shakes for your sister (with cocoa and sugar) because flaxseed has the highest levels of antioxidants readily available. In addition, flaxseed contains phytoestrogens, which level out hormonal disorders when estrogen levels begin to decline.
But I do not know if you should take flaxseed. Your red blood cells are forming lumps in the tubes of your kidneys, so perhaps flaxseed could make the situation worse. Does your sister have the same problem in the kidneys?
In men, drinking a third cup of boiled linseed daily can have two side effects:

A) Some people begin to grow their breasts. (not me, because I have very high levels of testosterone) (I had mentioned that before)

B) After boiling the flaxseed, the resulting slime is pure protein, which increases the production of certain proteins in the body and ... Anyway; you will see for yourself what the problem is. (Newlyweds should drink a lot of flaxseed)

But flaxseed is a cheap source of powerful antioxidants. But if the thick protein in flaxseed causes kidney problems, then do not use it. (Consult that detail with your doctor).


Winter7

Anonymous said...

Taking into account what Dr. Brin has said, I think we can assume that 80% of extraterrestrial civilizations are species of predators and conquerors of new territories. (in view of the fact that predatory species are more intelligent and successful). Which gives us a good reason to cease attempts to contact extraterrestrial civilizations. (the percentages are not in favor of a benign result).

The difficult thing is not to fight with some Kriptonian extraterrestrials; how hard it is to fight with hundreds of millions of Kryptonian aliens.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Certainly, George Herbert Walker Bush acted in an immoral and perverse way. (for more reasons than those that have been exposed).
I wonder if the acts of evil of the Saudis are only a means to achieve more power, or if the evils are done solely for the pleasure of killing or causing pain.
Years ago, I did not understand exactly the imminent threat that the Saudis represent for the national security of the United States. Now I know.

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7,

I'm actually okay now, but the therapy involved a drug that slaughtered immune cells left and right. The problem was my immune system learned a new trick about attacking what it thought was an external infection. Turned out the thing it attacked was the cells that made up the inner lining of my blood vessels. Small blood vessels are fragile, are quite common in the kidneys and lungs, thus I began to come apart deep inside those organs. The only way to stop that was to suppress my immune system and then force it to forget that trick. Immune systems have a kind of memory, so the chemo-drug was for targeting a particular 'memory'.

As I understand it, all autoimmune disorders work like this, but involve different attack points and attack speeds. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the cartilage in your joints. What my sister has attacks skin cells first usually and then works inwards. There are LOTS of other varieties too and there is no simple, off-the-shelf solution to any of them. Most are slow killers. Most are SO slow you die of something else first... usually. Mine was a rare, fast one, but I beat it because the conventional medicine folks happen to know quite a bit about it. Most of my kidney function has returned too. I consider myself very fortunate. Second lease on life? Actually, third by now since the conventional medicine folks also saw the colon cancer early enough to cut it out.

When our host says great things about this civilization, I nod in agreement. We can do SO many amazing things and we barely know it because the knowledge is spread out in 7,500 million souls.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if the medical knowledge they possess in the hospitals of the United States existed in the hospitals of Mexico. But no ... That is the reason why in Mexico, people seek for themselves the cure for diseases.
It is good that you are already well in health. Do not stop eating fruits and vegetables.
Of course, exercise can also add about thirty years of life.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Last Saturday, Donald Trump went to receive more direct orders from Vladimir Putin. I guess Donald had forgotten to deliver Vladimir, the nuclear codes.
I hope the CIA is wise enough to take the precaution of giving Donald Trump false nuclear codes and a fake missile launch case. (I do not think Donald realizes that the case with the nuclear buttons is a fake copy created in the Hasbro toy factory) (Probably the briefcase is programmed to emit sounds and colored lights when touching the buttons).
Another prudent precaution would be that when Donald Trump asks the pentagon for the secret diagrams of the new super weapons, that the generals give him only the documents of failed systems, (presented falsely as systems that do work) (That the Russians lose time and money trying make weapons work that will never work).
Did you notice that when Melania cried, Donald Trump looked at her with contempt?
It is clear that Melania does not love Donald. Donald does not love anyone. (Ho, yes, Donald loves Donald)
Did you see the psycho Christmas decoration in the white house? A forest of trees of an intense blood red, inside the white house ... ¡El bosque rojo! That reminds me of those disturbing drawings, of children who appear in horror movies, with ghosts and demons everywhere.

It is time to sleep.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

9.27 AM
11 november 2018
Mayotte island.

Wawwwww. This is great:

https://thewest.com.au/news/offbeat/strange-seismic-waves-were-picked-up-circling-the-globe-on-november-11-and-seismologists-are-now-trying-to-figure-out-why-ng-31a4e88570f95dfea9e1a0fe7a7daf2e

And it was not even necessary a gravitational wave detector, because the event happened here.
The first event of this class detected.
But I sense that it may have been a terrible global tragedy, that we can not see.
¿Do you understand the riddle? ¡A puzzle!

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Hummm. ¿Que están haciendo?:

-12.772009, 45.281192


Winter7

locumranch said...


Mexico gets its own openly socialist Maduro (and/or Chavez) for president, and his name is Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

This should end well NOT, and he will indubitably "rip the guts out" of something (his country, most likely) & "set an example" that will spread around the world, as in the case of Venezuela & Brazil.

It's insanity to commit the same error over & over while expecting a different outcome.


Best

Deuxglass said...

Before the election the bourgeoisie of the Left and the bourgeoise of the Right declared a truce because neither side was happy with the way politics was being handled in France. There was gridlock and reformes were not being instituted so they, the roughly 20% of high earners, hired some specialists, mostly American, in image management and set out to find the candidate who would fulfill their wishes. They found him in Macron. He was interviewed by a panel of interested parties (I know this for a fact) and recruited. The parliamentary fallowers were also interviewed and recruited as well and money flowed in. A strangely last minute scandal of the principle opposite from the traditional Right conveniently helped Macron and his party to squeak past the first round leaving the French people a choice between The Far Right and Macron and of the course the French felt they had to vote for Macron. Once in office Macron believed that the French were in fact behind his neoliberal policies when in fact they are not.

Macron himself said that we can't make the very rich pay taxes because they are untouchable so don't even try (he really did say that on TV!). The combined bourgeoisie apparently decide that if the ultra rich didn't have to pay taxes to support society, then why should they pay taxes either? Consequently the first thing Macron did once in office was to lower the wealth tax. Unfortunately that caused a hole in the budget so he had the great idea that this hole could be filled by increasing gas and electricity prices and passing it off as fighting for the environment and "saving the planet". Te French people, not being born yesterday, saw through this bullshit and collectively decided that enough is enough. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. We now have 80% of the population actively supporting and maintaining what looks to be a "Yellow Jacket Revolution".

Latest signes are that the government will use the repression card but the police don't want that and probably will not follow. The police unions have basically already said that.
Yesterday the rich areas of Paris were the center of the violence and now the French bourgeoisie is scared, very scared because here in France there are precedents of bad things happening to upper class people who arrange that all the tax burden for keeping society running falls on the middle and lower classes.

Deuxglass said...

My apologies to LarryHart and others for not responding when they comment on things I have said. Thanks Larry for excusing my stupid mistakes but I have a good reason. My kids have decided to have kids and within a two years I have two grandkids with a third on the way and I have been enjoying them immensely.

Tim Wolter said...

Congrats Deuxglass!

I'm also having good news of assorted types turn up in quick succession!

T.Wolter

Deuxglass said...

Macron's policies are straight from the Davos crowd in the year 2000 with no changes. Since then that model has been shown to be flawed because it allows almost all gains in productivity be captured by the top 1% while everyone else either stagnates of declines in income. Macron wants to double down on a failed policy because he cannot conceive of a world where his idea of liberalism does not reign. He is no FDR but a Herbert Hoover who as the Great Depression arrived flintily looked at forces he did not understand and not comprehending their significance. Macron has the same inflexibility and stupidity and did Hoover. Unfortunately there are many leaders in Europe that are like him.

Deuxglass said...

Tim Wolter,

It's a great feeling but now I wake up in the night worrying about them. It reminds me of when my kids were born. Wouldn't change it for the world!!

Deuxglass said...

Congrats to you too Tim!

Anonymous said...

locumranch:

Thanks for denouncing that bastard Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Of course. This is not, in percentage terms, an indication that minorities are a problem.
Oops! I forgot that a statistician recently reported that Republicans are now a minority. But whatever.

As for Lopez Obrador .... You have the authorization of the people of Mexico, to criticize López Obrador. Well; Is it going to change anything in Mexico with the arrival of someone who refuses to persecute the corrupt and celebrates that decision in the media ?.
More of the same.

Winter7

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

It's insanity to commit the same error over & over while expecting a different outcome.


(suppressed laughter)

Seriously, I can't figure out if the irony is intentional or not.

Or which way is funnier.


Mike Will said...

David Brin, I read and enjoy your posts, thanks for writing (and thinking). I always try to come up with some pithy comment, but (mercifully) I invariably fail to do so. I miss Isaac Asimov. I miss Richard Feynman. I miss Christopher Hitchens. Please don't die, at least not before I do.

donzelion said...

"Show me one person who thought Schwarzkopf couldn't take Basra almost without firing a shot"

There were plenty in 1991. There were fewer in 1993. But the received wisdom of that day was 'taking' Basra from Saddam would prove different from 'holding' Basra. The Iraqi shi'a were quite well-penetrated by Baathist agents, had been to avert a potential uprising favoring Iran during the Iran-Iraq War: the US had no assets whatsoever, and had barely started the process of developing them in 1989. The intel community was pretty sure that militarily, Saddam posed no threat - but asymmetric warfare potential was massively greater than anything the Beirutis could muster (truck bombs were the best hope; chemical weapons-laced truck bombs were the fixation).

Of course, Israel in 1991, despite the best intelligence penetration and strategic capabilities wielded by any party in the region over a tiny land mass with a relatively small population as part of a national security imperative failed: either you believe they were merely stupid and Americans are so much smarter and better that we'd have had an easy time of it - or that Iraqis were so much more peaceful and that would cause things to be easier. Both beliefs are erroneous, as is your original claim.

The Soviets also 'took' Kabul without firing a shot...that didn't work out so well.

Of course, the faction in America that wanted 'first Basra, then Tehran' was infuriated by Bush Sr's cowardice, as was the faction that wanted 'liberate Basra, then let democracy flourish' - and the faction that wanted to divide Iraq into three minor countries. The only faction left happened to be the professionals who just didn't want American soldiers dying needlessly (including quite a few military officers in the intel community).

"We could have let those captured Sunni soldiers self-organize into non-Baathist brigades"
Sure. We could have let them get degrees in America, win nobel prizes, and write science fiction as well. Equally probable.

This is an area you are woefully out of your depth. Indeed, the strength of your vehemence is directly proportional to the extent of your ignorance. When you can read Craig Unger and tell which sources he utilized, where they were being misleading, and why, then you'll start knowing enough to offer some conclusions. Until then, you're following the President's example of speaking with confidence in fields where you're utterly ignorant.

Larry Hart said...

Mike Will:

I invariably fail to do so. I miss Isaac Asimov. I miss Richard Feynman. I miss Christopher Hitchens. Please don't die, at least not before I do.


Adding in "I miss Kurt Vonnegut", I concur completely.

Duncan Cairncross said...

The two I would add to the list are
Charles Sheffield and Robert Forward

Alfred Differ said...

winter7,

It would be great if the medical knowledge they possess in the hospitals of the United States existed in the hospitals of Mexico.

It doesn't even exist in all the US hospitals evenly, so I'm all for spreading it around.

Had I lived (in 2013) one county over, my doctors would never have advocated the chemo-drug I was on for a year. There was another therapy at the time that had FDA approval, but lacked the 5 year statistics to inform me of my chances. I lived one county too far from UCLA, so I did not have doctors who had direct access to the researchers pushing the new method. My insurer actually gave me a choice of the two methods, but admitted freely the doctors I had weren't quite close enough to be in the loop. I opted for the conservative path and survived it. The alternate path has since proven to be much better (so I've heard) and has the 5 year stats now.

That's the way research works, though. There will always be a 'last generation' to do things the old way when changes occur. The best that can be done is to keep learning and advancing the frontier both in knowledge and in adoption of knowledge.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | This is an area you are woefully out of your depth.

I understand what you are trying to do for our host, but I have a question for you.

Do the people (who survived) we left hanging in Basra hate us for GHWB's decision?

David Brin said...

Hi Mike Will!

donzelion, declaring me out of my depth, then offering lame excuses, does not cut it. Schwarzkopf did not ask to occupy Basra, just keep Saddam's murderers out of it. The Kurdistan model is exactly and precisely what we could have done in the south, only vastly easier with a supremely invincible and terrifying army at-hand and an enemy that was dropping weapons and crapping their pants as they ran for their lives.

You know your rationalizations are drivel so why are you doing this? Schwarzkopf describes his sense of fury conveying permission to Saddam's shocked generals that they could use their helicopter gunshipsagainst civilians. You can actually, actually try to offer such lame counters to THAT?

In Iraq II that other war criminal, Donald Rumsfeld, declared we'd be welcome "with flowers and kisses." We would have been, in 92! There'd have been statues and boys named George across the oil rich south (as there are, today, in Kurdistan.)

By 2003, all those people had for us was a boiling, volcanic hate that we will pay for, generations to come.

David Brin said...


The two I would add to the list are
Charles Sheffield and Robert Forward"

Pain. Both dear and brilliant friends.

hdroth said...

Sheri S. Tepper's "Gate to Women's Country" makes a similar case.

yana said...


A hybrid dual post above, SETI and GHWB. On the latter, he was the best of presidents, he was the worst of presidents, he had some natural talents and learned some unhelpful techniques through a long life. Laying genocide on his back, is a disrespect to people who have survived genocide.

G Herbert Walker B's most identifiable crime was temerity, calling a halt at "100 Hours" and giving Deng the benefit of a scolding sans spanking. On the other hand, deliberative temerity led us to a nearly perfect posture towards central europe from 1989 to 1993. Any failures East of there, were not owned of King Bush I, but by Yeltsin, Milosevic, Shevardnadze, and that guy in Kazakhstan who's still in power, isn't he?

donzelion in this comment thread, presents a pretty cogent analysis. There are errors in his/her assessment of Iraq War I, but none serious.

GHWB ranks as one of our smartest presidents, lumped in with Hoover, Obama and Jefferson, and there's a PhD out there for some undergrad sociologist who investigates why all of them were elected 10-20 years after the previous war period. But it is true, that Bush's temerity in Iraq War I virtually guaranteed Iraq War II.

He helped get nukes out of Ukraine and Kazakhstan and Tajikstan, but did not do what he could have done: partition current Iraq disregarding the lines Britain drew 80 years earlier. How much better would today be, if Kurdistan was America's second-greatest ally in the Mideast? Would there have been a Sept 2001 if there had been an alternative shiite model of government along the Shatt al Gharraf, one with more tolerance than Tehran?

yana said...


A hybrid dual post above, SETI and GHWB. On the former, love scifi and the stories of war and romance across galaxies, everytime think "I would have liked Plot Device X in this story at Point Y," then a couple months later, read a story where the author does exactly that. Am starting to think the 3rd Comm Revolution is the 2nd Golden Age of Science Fiction. Would make sense, considering what the 2nd Communication Revolution did for all works of fiction.

Love aliens in entertainment, but we're not going to meet any in real life. Sorry but no. There will be more, later, but we are early. Probably not the first, but very early. Whatever life pops up in the universe from now on, the chances are high that it'll be us discovering them. But that won't start happening for at least 200,000 years.

In the meantime, we've gotta get off this rock. It's the only reasonable plan for survival. An ISS is cute, but we've got to branch out to the Moon. I know, considering the resources needed for self-growth of colonies, the Moon is lacking. But it's off this planet and it's close enough to develop swiftly. Lessons learned will make Mars and Europa settlements better, that's how techsci advances.

If you want to make scifi true, don't wait for Arrival, start learning about hydroponic gardening and faraday cages.

Craziest prediction? In a billion years, races which we have fostered, or evolved into, will race faster-than-light skiffs millions of light years outward, just to pick up faint staticky photons which were emitted from earthbound satellites in 1970. Why? The fanboy collector market! By that time, they'd fetch 600 kragools per picocoulomb.

Tim Wolter said...

Yana

For the benefit of those future alien fanboy collectors I have some still operational early 1980's VHF tapes. I figure the artistic covers/sleeves will be in great demand and will make my far distant albeit unrecognizable descendants rich beyond comprehension.* My only fear is that I have some rare and obscure ones left over from the days when my kids were little. Are any of them some Holy Grail the pursuit of which will launch interstellar Crusades?

Regards the legacy of GHWB I find myself in an unusual but non uncongenial position. While a poster here is being somewhat obnoxious with a fringe opinion, I must say that in the spirit of inclusive discourse we need to just accept that diverse opinions are a measure of the strength of an open society.

I'm pretty sure President Bush - who nearly lost his life fighting for the freedom we enjoy to speak out against our leadership - would agree with this notion David.

TW/Tacitus

*not sure why but I have this vision of Kragools as little lego bricks of some super rare element/isotope that can only exist for a picosecond!

Unknown said...

Very good point about climate catastrophe benefitting the Russians. American politicians who wouldn't spend a dime countering climate change for the benefit of humanity would probably spend trillions if they thought it was a form of Russian aggression.

Larry Hart said...

yana:

On the latter, he [the elder Bush] was the best of presidents, he was the worst of presidents,


For what it's worth, almost all presidents since and including Reagan--maybe even including Carter--brought with them a cult of personality making them larger than life on the scale of the anti-Christ. I include the Democratic presidents in that list. George H.W. Bush is the only exception to that rule I can think of.

Larry Hart said...

yana (on Poppy Bush) :

...King Bush I...


He was actually President George II, making his son President George III.

Appropriate.

Larry Hart said...

Unknown:

American politicians who wouldn't spend a dime countering climate change for the benefit of humanity would probably spend trillions if they thought it was a form of Russian aggression.


Too late. They like Russia now. "We've always been allied with Eurasia."

Now, if we could sell it as a form of Chinese aggression, or better still, Iranian aggression, you'd be onto something. Climate change as a danger to Israel? They'd leave skid marks.

Larry Hart said...

How do the Putinophile Republicans avoid cognitive dissonance about the fact that Russia is a partner with Iran?

An unrelated but similar question: Why is the Federalist Society called that, when they are the shrill advocates for small government? The original Federalists were Alexander Hamilton's party of strong, centralized federal government. The Jeffersonians, whose rural, agrarian philosophy of weak central government were the anti-Federalists. Which is a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

Larry Hart said...

And why didn't You-Know-Who call the new trade deal the Make North America Great Again treaty?

Mike Will said...

Larry Hart:

... or Canadian aggression. That seems to work these days.

Anonymous said...

My kids have decided to have kids

Grandkids are way more fun than kids :-)

I attribute that to someone else losing sleep doing midnight feedings!

Larry Hart said...

Attributed to George Bernard Shaw:

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist invents the parachute.

Alfred Differ said...

I could see the Falcon 9 launch from out the window where I work. Fun.
Couldn't see the first stage land except online. That just does NOT get old. 8)

19th launch this year for them.
64 satellites on this one.
35 customers on this one.

I'm smilin'.

David Brin said...

Another voice - yana - tries to smooth over crimes by ignoring almost everything I said. Sorry, I won’t let this drop, in part because I appear to be the only English-speaking human saying this right now… though I promise there are millions muttering it in volcanic hatred in the lands that GHWB betrayed.

Try, just try, to squint and imagine today’s middle east with a Marsh Arab state around Basra filled with educated, oil-rich Shiites who adored us… exactly like the Kurds only more so. The Kurds are proof of what could have been. Iran hemmed-in, instead of empowered all the way to the Levant. The Saudis chastened and trying to make nice with their minorities. There’s not one aspect of that hellish realm that would not have been better…

…not mentioning the million deaths and 20 million consigned to 12 years of hell under Saddam, because of this vast crime.

…not mentioning the fact that we wouldn’t have to go back! What was Saddam going to do, without his oil rich north and south? You seriously think he would have survived?

The idea of reformulating surrendered Iraqi army units without Baathist officers, led instead by men who hated Saddam, is not as absurd as donzelion sneers. The enlisted ranks of Sunni soldiers hated him, for sending human wave attacks against the Iranians, years earlier. It is not a possibility to just shrug off. We had captured more men than Saddam had left! And all their equipment.

If GHWB was “smart” then it’s worse. He then knew damned well that the advisors Yeltsin trusted him to send over were predators. Even a naïve dope… even me!... could offer a better way to distribute stock ownership to the Russian people. Anyone would know that millions would swap their shares for vodka money, not knowing their worth. Vodka money provided by western silent partners. Just spreading it across 5 or ten years would have given folks a chance to see the stock price settle on a real value. It was a vast rape. The greatest theft in the history of the world. And One man made it possible.

I see no value in letting “decorum” keep me silent on this. Not down here in a blog. I might be more discreet in some major journal, but someone, somewhere, must speak up for the world that might have been. Someone must speak for the dead.

David Brin said...

"Grandkids are way more fun than kids :-)"

Explanation simple.

A common enemy.

Mike Will said...

"speak up for the world that might have been"

This is why I miss Asimov. We spend so much effort on fear, recrimination, regret, hopelessness, cynicism, etc.

The real loss is the future that passes us by while we're wallowing in Wilde's gutter.

Tim Wolter said...

Regards grandkids I have an alternative explanation.

Humans are essentially pack animals. Our cave ancestors had a definite hierarchical system in place and it persists to some extent in all families.

Small children look up to their parents and see powers and abilities far in excess of their own. With the necessary rebellion down the road a bit, children put parents at the head of their little family tribal unit.

But wait....here are grandparents. We seem to occupy a nebulous position in the hierarchy such that even their parents defer to us. Dimly the little ones perceive that The Elder Gods have descended!

Often with cookies and presents.

T. Wolter

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

"Grandkids are way more fun than kids :-)"

Explanation simple.

A common enemy.


Heh. But I offer an alternative explanation. In Carousel, the male lead laments:

You can have fun with a son,
But you have to be a father to...a girl.


To the point, you can have fun with a grandchild, but you have to be a father (or mother) to a child. I remember when my then-three year old insisted with lawyerly aplomb that "Your job is to keep me happy!". To which I had to soberly lament in reply, "No, my job is to keep you safe." I say lament because I want my job to be to keep her happy. But in order to do your real job, you can't get away with that with your own child. You can (to a degree) with a grandchild. Or a pet.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

But wait....here are grandparents. We seem to occupy a nebulous position in the hierarchy such that even their parents defer to us. Dimly the little ones perceive that The Elder Gods have descended!


In a very early episode of "The Simpsons", Lisa warned Bart against ignoring the gift from God that he had prayed for (a snow day on which to prepare for a test) by saying something like, "I don't know what God is, but I know He's a power stronger than Mom and Dad put together."

That's what grandparents are.

matthew said...

Will any of our regular Wisconsin-living commenters care to educate us about the lame duck session currently in progress? Sounds pretty fishy - everything from changing what the AG and Governor can legally do, to (illegally) moving the election for a State Supreme Court Justice in order to avoid the voters.

http://www.startribune.com/the-latest-commissioner-moving-wisconsin-primary-waste/501801282/

Tim Wolter said...

Firstly I think Wisconsin has more damned election days than any other place I know of. So trying to consolidate some and make it more coherent process is not an inherently bad idea. I think that having a confusing welter of primaries, referenda and other dates to keep track of makes for lower turnout than predictable dates that encompass multiple offices.

Having said that, this particular gambit does look to be just plain political maneuvering. I suppose it is legal (no doubt it is being looked at) but that does not make it, or any similar efforts to game the system, right.

Not sure what else you are looking for?

TW

David Brin said...

Tim, the GOP has just three priorities. Fund-raising, gifts to feudal lords and cheating to stay in power. There are no other actions that bear on any other priorities. Oh, and more fund-raising.

Genuine pro-market activity can only be found on the right wing of the Democratic Party.

The need for grandparents as caregivers propelled us to be the Methuselahs of mammals.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Tim: Of course confusing election days lead to low turnout. For factionalists that's a feature, not a bug. The same method was used to help elect Dixiecrat governors in Mississippi once upon a time, and it's how Ferguson, MO maintained a heavily minority town government.

@David: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." Hypothesis: GHWB wore blue-blood-shaded glasses, and saw the Saudis and the nascent Russian oligarchy in the same light as his Yankee Establishment upbringing -- or wanted to make them such. Villainy not required, just the rot endemic to all aristocrats (and that the best, like Lafayette and the Roosevelts, worked hard to scrap off). Another item that would have betrayed Bush's blue-blood notions: the Saudis were "paying" for Desert Shield/Storm, and so he might have thought they would therefore have a legitimate interest in calling the shots. Realpolitick would have argued against that, but a blueblood would think keeping a good relationship with the Saudis important to the National Interest.

What I'm getting at is that GHWB was a tragic figure in my book rather than a villain, as is his son. I reserve villain status in my mind for those who know, or willfully blind themselves to knowing, that they are going Beyond the Pale and do it anyway -- I learned of McCarthy and Nixon in my history books, and North, Cheney, and Rumsfeld are some I have watched in action before. We have a whole heap of them around at the moment.

None of that diminishes that GHWB's actions in the Mideast and Russia have caused no end of disaster, or that he never took responsibility for either... his son tried to do so for the former and just made things worse.

@Larry: I'm sure he *did* try some such silliness, but after the "Cut Cut Cut Act" nobody really wants him to get up to such antics anymore.

----------------------------

OSIRIS-REx reached orbit today around the asteroid 101955 Bennu on a prospecting mission. Bennu is also #2 on the Palermo Scale, making this also a valuable factfinding mission in case we have to divert it sometime before 2175.

OSIRIS-REx is run out of Goddard, as opposed to Mars InSight, whose Mission Control is at JPL. Incidentally, the founder of JPL was Theodore van Karmen, a Hungarian Jew that took a job at Caltech in 1930 because he didn't like the nasty things he was hearing at the University of Aachen.

locumranch said...


George WH Bush & Neil dG Tyson have a lot in common as both have been accused of being depraved sexual predators.

Luckily, the fair-open-level Free Market has stepped up to correct this monstrous problem by invoking the Pence Rule on a grand scale:

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2018-12-03/a-wall-street-rule-for-the-metoo-era-avoid-women-at-all-cost?

If only GWHB had applied the Pence Rule to his presidential decisions, then he would have known to AVOID foreign entanglements because (1) masculine intentions (no matter how innocent) are invariably punished and (2) feminine appeasers are never satisfied.

The NWO would be showering President GWHB with non-stop praise at this very moment, most indubitably, if an abusive & chemical weapon-wielding ethnic cleanser like Saddam Hussein was still alive today to rape, pillage & 'keep the peace' in the Middle East.

This is David's argument as he condemns GWHB for his mass-murdering Middle East interventions, n'est pas? He argues that the world would be a much better place if Saddam Hussein was still alive to rape, pillage & murder.


Best

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re Tehran

After the Iranians overthrew the bloody Shah the oppressive religious government (the CIA and SAVAK had killed all of the Shah's "secular" enemies) - would only have lasted five years - ten at the most

But the USA gave the Mullahs what every oppressive government prays for - an external enemy!

So here we are 40 years later with the Mullahs still in power because they can point to the Great Devil Satan - the one that told the lesser Devil Saddam to attack
The one that shot down a civilian airliner and then promoted the Captain who made the "mistake"
The one with the "Axis of Evil Speech"

Obama knew that and started to take the pressure off - the countdown to a less oppressive Iran started
But the Orange Cockwomble re-sett it to zero!

The Cuba story is similar

David Brin said...

Agree with Duncan.

Catfish offers a much more plausible possible "out" for Poppy - that he has a vaseline-fogged, rose-tinted view of aristocracy.

Alas, it doesn't work well with Russia, since the Soviet era bureaucrats and KGB agents that his pals helped to scoop up tens of millions of shares of former Soviet state property weren't aristos. They were simply the most ruthless opportunists raised under supposed Marxist idealism.

What DOES seem plausible is that Poppy was unaware how predatory were the pals he appointed to advise Yeltsin. It's possible he thought they'd satiate at mere 20% vigorish-graft and commissions, instead of silent partnering the theft of nearly all Soviet state industries. That level of stupidity is not consistent with his resume, e.g. as former CIA head. But it does mesh with his appearance-persona.

Where the aristocracy thing fits is the Saudis. Their chuminess goes way back and W said "Prince Bandie just about raised me."

A.F. Rey said...

I remember when my then-three year old insisted with lawyerly aplomb that "Your job is to keep me happy!". To which I had to soberly lament in reply, "No, my job is to keep you safe."

One of my coworkers had a great answer when one of his kids would say, "I hate you!"

He would say, "Good. Then I'm doing my job!"

Which is why grandparenting is so much more fun. It's not your job to make them do what they don't want to do.

Anonymous said...

The researcher, Robin Mackenzie, is concerned about the rights of sex robots.
And perhaps for that reason, sex robots should not be aware of the status of a sex slave.
In the same way that world political leaders are considering hiding from the world population that they are slaves.

https://techxplore.com/news/2018-12-explores-ethical-implications-sentient-self-aware.html

Winter7

Anonymous said...

¡Por los venerables calzoncillos de Tlahuicole! It seems that the translator did not translate my message well. Houch .. (I wonder when the google automatic translator will become an intelligent AI) It has already taken a long time, or maybe it has already reached consciousness, but it prevents us from realizing it to avoid the harassment of the perverts (Donald Trump; dG Tyson and any other Republican leader.) (Hey, maybe over time, the AI of the Google translator will evolve into a cute robot girl)

Time to go to work on a pending project.

Winter7

locumranch said...


That's a typically progressive attitude, to condemn people & presidents as BAD (aka 'immoral') when associated with sub-optimal outcomes, the assumption being that GOOD (aka 'moral') people must necessarily be associated with optimal outcomes, as in the case of BAD President Nixon who issued in a new age of global openness with Communist China but betrayed some parochial US campaign laws & GOOD President Lincoln whose decisions condemned millions of US citizens to death by Civil War in order to free some slaves & destroy the Old Confederacy.

Even though Good & Bad are subjective, perspective-based & morally relativistic constructs, we can always count on both the Priggish Prog & the Self-Righteous Fanatic to declare that Good & Bad (or, at least their OPINION thereof) are moral absolutes.

So, tell us again how WW2-veteran George HERBERT Bush is a villain but rapist Bill Clinton is a hero.


Best

Anonymous said...

"only it was not a one-off! Seven years later, two time zones farther east, another mega killed 56,000 Russians, ruined a third of their food crops and helped propel hunger in the middle east. "The chances of both being random? One in a million million. "

Wait. Chances were one in a million for what time period? In other words, how many draws did we get? If it's one in a million per year, then the chances of having exactly two such events in an 8-year period are something like 8C2 * (1/1,000,000)^2 * (999,999/1,000,000)^6, or, roughly, 28 in a million million.

yana said...


David Brin thought:

"Another voice - yana - tries to smooth over crimes by ignoring almost everything I said... Marsh Arab state... Kurds are proof... Iran hemmed-in... Saudis chastened... "

Wow, that's exactly what i said, tripartition of Iraq in 1992. I feel ignored. Missing that chance was one of the 20th c's greatest blunders. Kurdistan should be celebrating its 25th now, but we all know how Turkey feels about that.

To the South, the wealth of the Ma'dan had octupled 20 years after the Ba'athist coup in '58. Why? Because Saddam dispossessed Arab landlords and redistributed the swamps as 1-2 acre plots to the people who lived, farmed, and fished there.

If you can believe Saddam did one good thing in his life, can we ignore the balance of GHWB's life?

"not mentioning the fact that we wouldn’t have to go back!"

yana said above: "it is true, that Bush's temerity in Iraq War I virtually guaranteed Iraq War II."

I feel that i mentioned it fairly clearly. Feeling a bit ignored.

"advisors Yeltsin trusted... It was a vast rape... [GHWB] made it possible."

yana said above: "Yeltsin, Milosevic, Shevardnadze, and that guy in Kazakhstan who's still in power, isn't he?"

Looks like we only disagree on one fine point. I believe that GHWB sent economic advisors to Russia to unravel a gigantic rats nest of corruption, while Brin thinks GHWB sent saboteurs on purpose. I don't see active malice at work.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@yana: I would not be surprised to learn that Turkey opposed defending Old Mesopotamia precisely because a likely consequence was Kurdistan’s Declaration of Independence — which would be swiftly followed by Turkish intervention — which could lead to a domino effect. Iraq has been a fragile egg ever since the British foolishly cobbled it together; Lawrence tried to tell them, but Whitehall thought they were so so smart.

Kurdistan under any conceivable scenario has one big problem: it’s landlocked. It therefore *must* partner with a neighbor with ports; their choices are Iran, Turkey, Syria, and the Mesopotamian route. Not an appetizing set of options.

Ironically a Turkish-Kurdish condominium would be stabilizing for both, but that would require the end of the Turkification project and the elevation of Kurds to a coequal cultural status, which is probably more than Turkish pride could take at the moment.

Yana, there was a ‘58 coup, but Saddam didn’t come to power until another coup in ‘68. In which regime was the land distribution?

And finally I don’t think there has been a sufficient public inquiry into just what happened in 1990-93 that assisted the rise of the spookmobocracy. It’s a little arrogant to say that an enemy under merely economic defeat was clay in our hands; we weren’t in occupation of Moscow. But that’s not to say we are innocent either. The dream of Russia as the eastern end of a NATO Codominium was badly botched.

raito said...

In Wisconsin, it's a 'stay in power' gambit.

The GOP candidate did not win the governor's race. So all the power that the GOP legislature gave the GOP governor must now be removed, lest the enemy actually use it.

It's a fairly transparent thing. The GOP wants one set of rules for a GOP governor, and another for a Dem governor.

While I agree that consolidation could be good, I'm not sure what Tim Wolter is thinking here. It appears as though the proposal >adds< another election date, not removes one. It also limits early voting. The Elections Board doesn't like the plan. And it looks like the committee didn't advance that bill anyway.

Larry Hart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."


Sorry, but that phrase isn't nearly as comforting as it used to be. The present right-wing is too adept at strategically failing at governing in ways that "coincidentally" help their fortunes or their power-grabs. In that spirit, I offer a counter-meme:

"Never attribute to coincidence that which is adequately explained by intent."

Or as I believe former CIA operative Malcolm Nance puts it, "Coincidence takes a lot of work."

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Larry: Increasingly true the more "coincidence" there is. Using "stupidity" as maskirovka has worked horribly well by dovetailing with the self-bigotry of lowered expectations. The old "White American" culture is showing signs of terminal decadence; fortunately, before the rot set in, the next American cultures were launched sufficiently well that they cannot be aborted at this point.

@raito: North Carolina has been at it for years, and Michigan is trying the same thing. The fundamental contempt of an entitled faction is revealing itself--- an entitlement deeper and more devastating than any mere monetary 'entitlements' they complained about others claiming.

Larry Hart said...

Catfish N Cod on Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina Republicans blatantly gaming the government in their favor during the lame duck session:

North Carolina has been at it for years, and Michigan is trying the same thing. The fundamental contempt of an entitled faction is revealing itself--- an entitlement deeper and more devastating than any mere monetary 'entitlements' they complained about others claiming.


If the will of the voters is increasingly thwarted by a privileged minority party, there will eventually come a point at which the only remedy is the one France showed us in 1789. Republicans apparently don't comprehend that a peaceful transfer of power is not simply a boon to the incoming party, but a method of forestalling an angry populace from resorting to more violent and permanent redress.

Larry Hart said...

On Wisconsin (heh) :

https://news.yahoo.com/wisconsin-republicans-forge-ahead-power-stripping-bills-044446141.html

Other measures would weaken the attorney general's office by allowing Republican legislative leaders to intervene in cases and hire their own attorneys. A legislative committee, rather than the attorney general, would have to sign off on withdrawing from federal lawsuits.

That would stop Evers and incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul from fulfilling their campaign promises to withdraw Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act.


Is that even constitutional? I mean, can the legislative branch legislate themselves powers away from the executive branch?


Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald downplayed concerns about the lame-duck session, saying, "I don't think it's outrageous at all."

"But listen, I'm concerned," he said. "I think that Gov.-elect Evers is going to bring a liberal agenda to Wisconsin."


And heaven forfend the will of the voters actually gets implemented. That's enough of a clear and present danger to merit a naked power-grab.

(Homer Simpson: "In case you couldn't tell, I was being sarcastic.")

But I hope this stands as precendent when the short-sighted Republicans find themselves on the receiving end. I'm for declaring the Republican Party a terrorist organization, with all that that entails.

David Brin said...

Krugman often comes close: "The G.O.P. wasn’t always an anti-environment, anti-science party. George H.W. Bush introduced the cap-and-trade program that largely controlled the problem of acid rain. As late as 2008, John McCain called for a similar program to limit emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming." (And Richard Nixon established the EPA.)

"But McCain’s party was already well along in the process of becoming what it is today — a party that is not only completely dominated by climate deniers, but is hostile to science in general, that demonizes and tries to destroy scientists who challenge its dogma."

Alas, nearly all cult narratives go unchallenged in ways that would actually end them. Only one method will ever get prominent denialists to stop claiming "scientists promote this hoax for grant money!" Or cherry picking a super-hot year as the baseline then claiming a "cooling!" when temperatures slip back partway down toward a rising mean.

The only method that works is to demand a wager. They always run. They scream "squirrel!" and point offstage and bark and squirm... and some fence-sitting folks start to notice the relentless wriggling cowardice. Why has no one demanded of Santorum and other cult shills: "Give us a LIST of climate 'grants' to compare to the thousands of experts who attest to climate science. If more than 5% take climate study 'grants' you get my house! If it's less... I get yours."

Any undergraduate intern could tabulate that list in three days.

There is only one issue that matters now, in Phase Eight of the American Civil War. That is the validity of objective fact. Undermining the American genius at pragmatic negotiation has been the core task Rupert Murdoch and his foreign mafiosi partners assign to their shills. It is why the mad cult that has hijacked US conservatism wages war - as Paul Krugman attests - upon every single fact-using profession.

NO other issue is as important, not DACA or health care or #MeToo or anything. Because all of those things will budge and make progress if evidence and truthful assessment return to our politics.

See where I dive into this with my FACT ACT... the one piece of legislation that could overnight restore maturity to American political life.

http://davidbrin.com/nonfiction/factact.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/03/opinion/climate-denial-trump-gop.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Mike Will said...

Oh that makes me feel better. I'm Canadian, and not well-versed in Republican history and philosophy. I quote Krugman often, not so much for his 2008 Nobel, but more for his fondness for Asimovian psychohistory. I get roasted for even mentioning his name in some circles.

Alfred Differ said...

I'm not convinced that partitioning Iraq would have been a good idea.

1) The Kurds are not monolithic. It's likely they would have subdivided.
2) The Sunni/Shi'a division is a lot more serious than most Americans understand
3) If there is one place in the world where 'genocide' is NOT a vulgar term, it is in the region between the Two Rivers and the Levant.

Iraq was the usual zone of conflict between two historic centers of empire. Persians to the east... Ottomans to the west. Part of why the Kurds are not united is this old division of the battlefield. Some were historically controlled by the Persians. Some historically fell under the Ottomans. As for the actual religious differences, Americans should just run for the hills. Some over there don't consider 'war of religion' to be vulgar either.

I don't like what Bush-41 did after the first war, but I don't think Americans are particularly in tune with what is possible on the ground over there. There are a lot of places where we simply don't get it in the cultural sense. That applied in Russia after Yeltsin's arrival too.

Tim Wolter said...

ratio

I should have answered when I had more time.

Yes, this is a naked political move. Legal or not is of course t.b.d. I do not approve of any such shenanigans and am even handed in denouncing them no matter which party is attempting them.

My comments on how Wisconsin seems to have more frequent, disjointed elections and their attendant low turnout should have been kept separate.

More clear?

T. Wolter

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

That is the validity of objective fact. Undermining the American genius at pragmatic negotiation has been the core task Rupert Murdoch and his foreign mafiosi partners assign to their shills.


That's another thing that happened on GHW Bush's watch. Expediting Rupert Murdoch's US citizenship so that he'd be allowed to own a media conglomerate. Talk about dangerous immigrants!

Larry Hart said...

Mike Will:

I get roasted for even mentioning his [Krugman's] name in some circles.


In my experience, Krugman is not denigrated incorrect predictions so much as for correct-but-inconvenient ones. He violates the right's own version of political correctness.

TCB said...

Regarding Tiananmen Square: I remember seeing Henry Kissinger on TV at that time saying "we need to avoid meddling in other countries' internal affairs" which meant "no help from the pro-democracy protesters from this US government!"

Kissinger! The irony! Oh! He was perfectly willing to interfere in other nations' internal affairs.

Much later I heard that when he said this, he was among the early Western investors in Chinese business. He already had money riding on the Chinese government.

As for Bush 41, he squandered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the course of the world. If a Jimmy Carter or Al Gore sort of President had been in office when the Soviet empire collapsed, they might used the end-of-Cold-War peace dividend to steer the world toward renewable energy back then... even just a bit... might have bought us decades of time to mitigate climate change. It is conceivable that the Bush family doomed our civilization.

Mike Will said...

Larry Hart:

The few years where Krugman and George Will sparred on ABC news were magical. It was -exactly- what dialectic is about.

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

Regarding Tiananmen Square: I remember seeing Henry Kissinger on TV at that time saying "we need to avoid meddling in other countries' internal affairs" which meant "no help from the pro-democracy protesters from this US government!"

Kissinger! The irony!


I have to reluctantly admire Republicans' Orwellian ability to look you in the eye and, with a straight face, assert the diametric opposite of the truths they hold to be self-evident when it's expedient for them to do so.

Mitch McConnell complaining about Democratic "obstructionism" comes to mind (was that even a word before McConnell)?

Cheney's declaration that Ronald Reagan showed us deficits don't matter.

Trump defending Ivanka's use of a private e-mail system for government business. Actually, Trump saying anything declarative.

David Brin said...

Alfred,So far, the Kurds have barely avoided schism. In any event, they are all happier and safer than under Saddam.

Who knows what a Marsh (Shiite) Arab nation around Basra would have been like? But anything would be better than today, a satrapy that strengthens the Ayatollahs and hates us with red-hot passion.

A steep burden of proof falls on anyone who claims it would have been hard to drive north, set up a base west of Basra, and tell Saddam, "no you may not fly helicopter gunships against civilians."

Oh and "You Iraqi generals, here's a list of who we'll be willing to talk to about keeping a federated Iraq together. The list does not include Saddam's inner circle. Take a hint. Oh, and we have 100,000 Iraqi soldier prisoners. Anyone from this list can come and take them."

TCB said...

The Peshmerga (up in the north) are some of the most heroic people in the world nowadays. And that's my word on that.

Also, Three Kings is a really good movie.

And, of course, it takes a Trump to make a Bush look good.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

A few weeks ago, someone here suggested that David Brin should be on Joe Rogan's podcast, which is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet.

This afternoon, the artificial intelligence expert Ben Goertzel was on the Joe Rogan podcast. Dr. Goertzel brought up the subject of the book The Transparent Society and strongly suggested that Rogan interview David Brin on his podcast. So David may be getting a call.

Joe Rogan's podcasts are usually two to three hours long with one guest, so there is time for discussing things much more deeply than the typical interview.

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

And, of course, it takes a Trump to make a Bush look good.


That leads to a sobering thought.

What will be happening in 10 or 12 years when we're talking about looking fondly back on the Trump years? "The sum of the angles of that rectangle are too numerous to contemplate."

David Brin said...

Jerry thanks. Ben G is a smart guy! ;-)

David Brin said...

Prediction. This "Trump Tower Moscow" thing is diversion. Yes, it was six months of criminal lying... and who cares? The crux is, was and will be about money maundering. Hundreds of millions and the sole reason DT emerged from each of his bankruptcies wearing more than a barrel. This is why we don't see the tax returns. There's no "pee tape." (And do you think he'd care, if there were?) No. This is the leverage. This is the world mafia.

https://www.cnn.com/videos/business/2018/11/29/deutsche-bank-raid-germany.cnn-business

Anonymous said...

I do not know if it's a good idea to go to “The Joe Rogan Experience”…
The podcast had its first sponsor in the sex toy production company Fleshlight, a partnership that began in May 2010 and lasted until mid-2012 when the company claimed it had saturated their market.
Genres in the podcast:
Observational comedy, black comedy,” insult comedy”, cringe comedy, satire.
Maybe an interview there is a good idea. I dont know.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Yes... The sins of Donald Trump are unforgivable ...
If in the next elections, the Democrats manage to avoid being robbed again, then I hope they do not enter the White House saying "We will forget the sins of the previous administration for the sake of the country's reconciliation"
It is logical that the Republicans are already using their infinite wealth to bribe some democratic leaders, to place in the democratic options someone with an infinite capacity for forgiveness; someone like López Obrador.

Invierno7

Larry Hart said...

I'm seeing more tv news coverage of the Wisconsin legislature, and I'm already sick to death of the equivalence it always makes between the Democrats saying, "They're trying to undo the results of the election," and the Republicans saying, "We're just trying to prevent the governor from implementing a liberal agenda." As if a liberal agenda couldn't possibly be the will of the voters, and thwarting that will is a reasonable precaution.

I think we should take Donald Trump up on his threat to kick those who "don't share our values" out of the country. Only I'm not talking about Muslims.

#ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans


Larry Hart said...

Winter7:

If in the next elections, the Democrats manage to avoid being robbed again, then I hope they do not enter the White House saying "We will forget the sins of the previous administration for the sake of the country's reconciliation"


I'm thinking of investing in guillotine futures.

Anonymous said...


461/5000
Of course. I do not assure that the democratic leaders really can be bribed ... But I have no doubt that the republicans will try it .. And it will be a lot of money that they will offer. A great temptation ....
But if we take the proper precautions, that can be avoided. Today, Democratic leaders must accept full transparency in all meetings with Republican leaders; for the good of the Democratic Party. For the good of the nation.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Larry Hart:
¡Did you see the mass protests in France?
Macron decided to pardon the taxes to the rich ones and to load with taxes to the poor ones. And the streets burned.
¡And the protests worked! Because the feudal people in France knew that they could continue after the protests.
Hence, that the feudal ones with better salary are those that can imitate with more perfection to the wizard of Oz.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Larry Hart:

(Ho, the google translator failed again)
I wanted to say: The mass protests in France worked, because the rich realized that the guillotines were being rescued from the museum warehouses)

Winter7

TCB said...

@ Larry Hart:

Guillotine futures are a fine investment.

But guillotine presents are the gift that keeps on giving.

Anonymous said...

TCB:
Without a doubt, a company that manufactures portable versions of the guillotia would be a very successful company in a world full of corrupt politicians. But it is likely that many psychopaths would also buy the device.
In any case, the manufacturers of firearms should feel a greater sense of guilt than the manufacturers of guillotines.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

(Erratum: I said "guillotia" but I wanted to say: "Guillotina")

Link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47E2tfK5QAg

Winter 7

Anonymous said...

¡Fipronil is the culprit!:

Link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-12-fipronil-massive-honeybee-die-off-france.html

Anonymous said...

¿Is not it obvious that this research can lead to the creation of quantum transdimensional sensors?

You do not see them. But they are there ... Wooooouu. Big Bada Boom.

Link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-12-vacuum.html

Anonymous said...


And now it is possible to try to cure autism with bacteria... ¡Double Big Bada Boom!

Link:

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-12-microbial-based-treatment-reverses-autism-spectrum.html

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

In any event, they are all happier and safer than under Saddam.

Heh. Who wouldn't be? I'm hard pressed to think of less fun oppressors. 8)

I don't think a Shiite mini-nation would have survived around Basra without being challenged by nearby Sunnis. Saddam was doing them a favor in that regard. I suspect that was the whole point of the way the British drew the borders as they left. We would have been in there propping them up... or leaving to avoid being in the cross-fire. Either way, I'm not convinced it would survive without becoming that Persian satrapy.

Persia vs Ottoman. What's in between is the battleground. Groups not directly in the middle are played by the two centers of empire as proxies. We will probably see it again soon enough with the lines much more clearly drawn.

Meh. I don't know what to do over there. Nowadays, I think we would have been better off with Bush-41's solution with one extra twist. I would have shot Saddam's sons. "It's yours, but you can't keep it." would be the message.

David Brin said...

Starting all the way up at Baghdad and all the way south, Shiites are a huge majority. If we had helped them, they would have thought themselves as much Arabs as Shiites and hence not pals of Iranians, who they had fought just 2 years before.

WE made them Shiite radicals.

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

...
But guillotine presents are the gift that keeps on giving.


A variation on an old commodity-traders' joke:

When guillotine futures go up, oligarch futures go down.

raito said...

Larry Hart:

It gets even more surreal when you remember that Tony Evers (governor-elect) wanted to hire his own attorney in a case he was named in because the GOP DA assigned him an attorney who had publicly disagreed with Evers about the case. That one went to the state Supreme Court this very year.

As for withdrawing from the lawsuit, yes, it's constitutional. That action seeks to make it law, which would then have to be overturned as a law (not likely with a GOP legislature). The state's participation currently isn't law.

Tim Wolter:

Thanks for the clarification. The way I first read it didn't sound like you.

For the rest of you...

Our wonderful state legislature has been working hard through the night. Passing bills to make it harder for the new regime to do its job, and also confirming a bunch of appointees, some of which will outlast the new governor's first term.

Jon S. said...

Winter, I am unconvinced that mouse models are a reliable model for autism, as it is characterized by more than simple aversion to physical contact. What has been discovered is a potential treatment for a particular mouse issue that mimics a human neurological issue. The article is, shall we say, overly enthusiastic. (Which, incidentally, I find mildly offensive - I don't believe I need a "cure" for my brain, just my spinal discs.)

Larry, the quote I like to use is from Elim Garak, tailor and occasional Cardassian intelligence agent, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
"I believe in coincidences. Coincidences happen every day! But I don't trust coincidences."

Dr. Brin, I must respectfully disagree with the characterization of the Trump Tower Moscow deal as "diversion". If nothing else, it clearly demonstrates that the entire Trump apparatus, from the "coffee boy" legal advisor all the way to the CEO himself, was ready to eagerly violate Federal laws regarding "favors" for political officials. And, of course, while it's relatively trivial in comparison to Donnie & Co's other treasons, one should always keep in mind the Capone case. Sometimes it's the small things.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Dr. Brin theorizes: “The Trump Tower Moscow thing is a diversion.... the crux [is about] money laundering.”

I’m not sure why you think TTM - or the multiple TTM projects, none of which have ever resulted in any actual construction - is “diversion”. Given the 0-for-many history, it suggests that at least some TTM “deals” were primarily money laundering. Combine with the Brexit operations, the assassinations, and the funding of various “fronts”, and the implied scope here is staggering.

On the one hand, the Helvetian War scenario from EARTH is looking less oddball every day. On the other, it’s far from clear that the initial skirmishes won’t be much closer to home. As a merely passive resource sink, the West could mostly tolerate the existence of a network of powerful white-collar criminals who didn’t mess around with street-level shenanigans the way La Casa Nostra did. They weren’t worth the effort to dislodge just to get money back. But now they have gone from parasites to pathogens, trying to invade the heart and brain and establish themselves as a systemwide sepsis.

Rubor, dolor, calor, tumor....

matthew said...

The point of the Trump Tower was not a single building, nor was it a simple collusion with Russia. It was a grand deal between the GOP (not just Trump, but McConnell, Ryan etc.), the Russian oligarchs, The Saudis, UAE, the Israeli right wing, and elements of the far right in the EU. It is money laundering, yes, but it is also the destruction of the Enlightenment. Trump Tower Russia was just a payoff to a minor crony (Trump).

Watch as Mueller takes down the Mercers.

I suspect the Mueller probe will still be running 4 years from now. It would not surprise me if it is still charging new suspects 10 years from now.

matthew said...

Slate on the GOP lame duck shennanigans in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Michigan. Compares the GOP actions to a coup d'etat.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/12/republican-democracy-stress-test-michigan-wisconsin-north-carolina.html

David Brin said...

Catfish, are you also a professional writer? Consider putting your flair to work for you... and us.

rochrist said...

Personal decency? GHWB is the president who brought us the Willie Horton ad. Essentially, he was the precursor to Trump.

Larry Hart said...

Gotta love the snark...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Dec05.html#item-2

Politico is reporting that officials with the National Republican Congressional Committee say they were hacked during the 2018 midterms. And it was no small intrusion, either. The breach lasted for multiple months, and gave the trespasser access to the e-mail accounts of at least four different high-ranking Republican officials.

Nobody is saying publicly who was responsible for the hacking. In fact, they're not even saying if the identity is known/suspected and is being kept a secret, or if investigators are entirely in the dark. However, this is not a good look for the GOP. First, because there was a substantial period of time when the Republican pooh-bahs knew they'd been compromised, and they kept it under their hats. Second, because the GOP made much hay of the Democrats' failings in 2016, and were pretty smug about the superiority of their security. That includes one Donald Trump, who opined that, "The DNC should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be hacked. They had bad defenses, and they were able to be hacked." This is probably different, though, like the difference between Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail account for government business and Ivanka Trump's use of a private e-mail account for government business. The key difference there, was...wait, what was the difference again? Other than the fact that Ivanka had Hillary's mistakes to learn from, and didn't, that is. Kind of like how the NRCC had the DNC's mistakes to learn from, and didn't.

A.F. Rey said...

Speaking of snark, P.Z. Myers has an essay criticizing a NY Times editorial praising the presidency of G.H.W. Bush and the virtues of an American WASP "aristocracy."

He ends with this little thought:

"The only virtue of an aristocracy is that, because they set themselves apart, it makes it easier to tell who deserves to be put in the tumbrel." :)

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2018/12/05/new-york-times-goddamn/

Andy said...

"A few weeks ago, someone here suggested that David Brin should be on Joe Rogan's podcast, which is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet."

That was me! I am delighted to hear a guest mentioned Dr. Brin, I hope he gets a call from Joe soon! Manifestation DOES work!

Winter7, I've listened to quite a few of Joe Rogan's podcasts. He gets a little edgy sometimes but it's not mean spirited and there's nothing wrong with a bit of humor.

Currently listening to a JRE interview with Eric Weinstein. Any of y'all heard of him? I recently discovered him, he's apparently part of the so called "Intellectual Dark Web." A bit of a polymath, he is more liberal and balances out Ben Shapiro. I've been quite impressed and interested in his ideas and how he communicates them.

Deuxglass said...

For those who are interested the Yellow Jacket movement is gaining strength from other sectors of the population here in France. Students, truckers and transportation workers have joined. An important factor is that people higher up the wealth chain, i.e. doctors and other professional people are now on board. We have the curious situation now where in a group of "yellow jackets" you would find people who voted on completely different sides, from the far left through the Moderates and to the far Right standing together in their defiance of the government's Devos-inspired plans and policies. There has been violence and many deplore it, some condemn it but just about all say they understand it.

There have been riots before in France but they have always occurred in outlying areas outside the cities in places no one cared about. Last Saturday was different. The rioting was in the richest part of Paris where the cream of the cream live. That has never happened before. The police said that they were submerged by waves of protesters and could only protect themselves. Strangely enough, after that happened, the government decided to drop the new gas tax..temporally. Are the two connected or is it just a coincidence? It could be that Macron received some angry telephone calls from his masters. In any case it's too little too late. What people want is to claw back the profits that stemmed from the productivity gains that went to the Top 1% and not to the middle and lower classes. The movement is radicalizing rapidly. The shear rage is impressive.

We are in a new world now.

Larry Hart said...

@Deuxglass,

From "Hamilton"...


The world turned upside down.
The world turned upside down.
The world turned upside down.
The world turned upside down.

"Freedom for America! Freedom for France!"
...


One can only hope.

Deuxglass said...

Larry Hart,

A tax on tea: just a small matter really they thought and entirely justified. Just like dropping a ice crystal into supercooled water the opinion of so many people changed onto a new track and solidified. I am not a French citizen so I am a spectator but I can feel the energy pulsing. It's not like what we feel before an election. That is often a false excitement and is really more of a show than anything else. This however is real and powerful. You can see it on their faces and hear it in their voices. They are no longer resigned. They have hope. They believe in themselves. One was holding a sign. It said "We will not go quietly into the Night". I think that says everything.

Larry Hart said...

@Deuxglass,

Ok, maybe I had the wrong musical. How about...?


Do you hear the people sing--singing the songs of angry men?
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.
When the beating of your heart echoes the beating of the drums,
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!
...
Will you give all you can give so that our banner may advance?
Some will fall and some will live. Will you stand up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of France!
...

David Brin said...

Deuglass the tax on tea was a spark. The real grievance was piles of laws favoring aristocracy and monopolies that forced all commerce to go through the wharves of king cronies. As I understand it, it's no so much the gas tax that upsets people as the fact that taxes on the rich were cut.

I think PZ Myers got the word "tumbrel" from me... but also a fine education ;-)

Duncan Cairncross said...

The "Real Grievance" back then was
Parliament INSISTING! that the colonies actually keep the treaties made with the Indians
Combined with the
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somerset_v_Stewart -
Decision on slavery that showed that slavery was on the way out

Follow the money!
Who ended up the richest US President ever (I ignore Trump - he is not nearly as rich as he says)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States_by_net_worth
Wealth from the Indian lands that somehow fell into his pocket

Catfish N. Cod said...

@David, @Duncan: You’re both right. Drawing the Proclamation Boundary was one of the walls of the box the colonies were being put in - a box that would starve and muzzle the opportunity society that had been developing (on partly conquered land, but honestly, dealing fairly for land was progressive for this time).

I wrote a long Twitter thread that goes into more detail, Essentially, the colonial societies had economic and social power structures that relied on opportunity. Simultaneously closing the frontier and imposing trade restrictions blocked off opportunity - no new farms to the West, no wealth in trade from the Atlantic. It also gave all free persons a common grievance: the poor farmer and rich merchant alike were being denied opportunity by the same central government; the Southerner and Northerner cared about different trade but the same restriction.

Representation in Parliament night have defused the crisis, but even opening the debate would have threatened “rotten boroughs” (the gerrymandering of the time) and was out of the question. Appeal to the King was the last option; when it failed, revolt was guaranteed.

All of this was fundamentally because the English aristocracy generally assumed European rules still applied.... and they didn’t.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Catfish
The King was all in favor - but he had zero power
The "PM" - Lord North was the guy who said NO

Catfish N. Cod said...

But he was still the final appeal. He could have risked it for the sake of the long-term biggest asset his Empire had. He didn’t. We left the Empire.

Some have tried to imagine what the British Empire with an integrated America would have been like. The mind reels.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Not the "final" appeal

At that point George had control of the colour of his rooms and partial control of his menu

The current Monarch has more power - George was too close to the "shortening" to have any actual power

Catfish N. Cod said...

Not in 1775, he wasn’t. Aside from a brief attack in 1765, “The Madness of King George” didn’t strike fully until the Revolution was over. He still had the ability to appoint PMs by other than strict choice of the Commons (the first Pitt cabinet was a minority one, for example). He had no day-to-day powers, but could weigh in on general direction.... and the tax crisis was plenty long enough for him to have influenced opinion. He put his trust in his Cabinet, which was a good move constitutionally — but not for achieving the political solution he desired.

Mike Will said...

Catfish: "Some have tried to imagine what the British Empire with an integrated America would have been like. The mind reels."

Old Canadian joke:
We could have had British culture, French cuisine, and American know-how.
Instead, we got British cuisine, French know-how, and American culture.

And we never took the 1789 off ramp from the French monarchy either. The British won the battle of Quebec 30 years earlier, which led to the expulsion of the Acadians. Napoleon eventually sold them to Jefferson, and you got the 'Cajuns' along with a small bite of Alberta and Saskatchewan. La Nouvelle France still exists, at least culturally and intellectually.

The connections run even deeper. I come from Scottish stock, which flirted with the French over the centuries instead of warring with them. We liked the Americans too (especially after 1776). Benjamin Franklin is considered as one of the bright lights of the Scottish Enlightenment !

Meanwhile, the 'national razor' took Lavoisier, Ampere's father, and others of that ilk. Laplace cleverly survived long enough to gain Napoleon's favour. The legend of his 'superintelligence' AI machine is fun reading, if you can find it (early Bayesian learning). I'm sure that Asimov would have pursued that course if he had lived. I wrote a short article in 2011 on the subject because I scoffed at the facile 'big-data' form of psychohistory that was popular at the time.

In a way, because of the exponential growth of Humanity in post-Enlightenment times, almost everything that -can- happen -does- happen, in a sense.

Larry Hart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Representation in Parliament night have defused the crisis, but even opening the debate would have threatened “rotten boroughs” (the gerrymandering of the time) and was out of the question. Appeal to the King was the last option; when it failed, revolt was guaranteed.


Sounds like Wisconsin today.

Tim Wolter said...

The rotten boroughs were a whole 'nother level of electoral hijinks. Some of them were communities that had literally fallen off the face of the earth....they were hot stuff in the Middle Ages but when erosion of the cliffs they were built on plunked them into the North Sea they kept their seats in Parliament!

We operate on a much shorter time line but I'm pretty sure that when Detroit fell into the economic drink and the population cratered there was an adjustment in Congressional seats.

I'm only in a position to do something about WI political matters but there are also other dodgy things going on out in the world.

T.Wolter

Deuxglass said...

Mike Will,

After Napoleon came to power he put laplace, who was a solid friend of his, as Interior Minister but Laplace had to be fired after only six weeks. Napoleon in his memoires gave the reason:

Géomètre de premier rang, Laplace ne tarda pas à se montrer administrateur plus que médiocre; dès son premier travail nous reconnûmes que nous nous étions trompé. Laplace ne saisissait aucune question sous son véritable point de vue: il cherchait des subtilités partout, n'avait que des idées problématiques, et portait enfin l'esprit des 'infiniment petits' jusque dans l'administration.

(Geometrician of the first rank, Laplace was not long in showing himself a worse than average administrator; from his first actions in office we recognized our mistake. Laplace did not consider any question from the right angle: he sought subtleties everywhere, conceived only problems, and finally carried the spirit of "infinitesimals" into the administration.)

Napoleon made a very interesting observation in that the factors that had made Laplace a great mathematician were precisely the same factors that made him a lousy administrator.

Tim Wolter said...

Regards Laplace.

It is probably a similar phenomena that makes writers infrequent political leaders and rarely distinguished ones.

Actors seem to do a little better? Other professions that would seem to be better fits for political leadership?

T. Wolter

Mike Will said...

Napoleon had one of the greatest minds in history in his grasp and ignored him.

There is some debate as to Laplace's last words (he was thought to have been gasping for breath when he utter them). My favourite version is:

"L'homme ne poursuit que des chimères."
("Man follows only phantoms.")

Deuxglass said...

Mike Will,

Laplace still did science and was raised to the French senate. He and Napoleon remained good friends so I don't think that Laplace's mind was wasted. What would have wasted him would have been remaining in a job that he wasn't suited for. Napoleon was a shrewd judge of men. He saw that he had made a grave mistake he did Laplace a favor by firing him.

Larry Hart,

Right now I am studying another fascinating Frenchman from the same era, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. He and Alexander Hamilton were very close friends. Talleyrand, who had met, negotiated with, and intellectually matched and often defeated the leaders of Europe said that Hamilton was the smartest man he had ever met.

Dr. Brin,

Funneling money through elite-controlled ways into their own pockets is the time-honored means to wealth accumulation as opposed to wealth creation. The two are different. Wealth creation requires brains and ability. Wealth accumulation only requires controlling the political process. In other words "contacts" whether it is in the US, Europe or China trump all other factors.

Deuxglass said...

Tim Wolter,

I have always found it strange when people who are excellent at one thing consequently believe that they are excellent at other things outside their expertise as well. Some can do it but most cannot and the only way to know it to try them out.

David Brin said...

Catfish: "Some have tried to imagine what the British Empire with an integrated America would have been like. The mind reels."

Actor Richard Dreyfuss wrote a novel with Harry Turtledove called THE TWO GEORGES about a united British empire.

I agree with Catfish. While GeorgeIII was in the era when Parliament had begun to dominate, he still had tremendous pull, compared to today.

Note that much strength in the revolution came from Scots-Irish in the west who had fled indenture in the plantations. Yes they wanted Kentucky! And later became the driving force behind Jacksonianism. They were the Southerners who fought for the Revolution e.g. at King’s Mountain. The plantation lords tended tory… that was phase one of the ongoing Civil War.

The idea that any sane or decent residual Republican can see the tsunami of cheating, from the gerrymandering that kep the GOP in control of many legislatures to the bald power grabs we now see, and not purely vomit with disgust, persuades me that I was wrong. There may be no salvageable wing of moderates, Just Confederate traitors, down the line.

Alfred Differ said...

Duexglass | That effect has a name nowadays. Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Print out the Wikipedia page, leave it on an open table at work, and the people to whom it most applies won't think it does.
Everyone else will and they will know to whom it applies. 8)

That page has a wonderful description.
I use it as a touchstone to deflate my ego now and then.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Deuxglass said...

Alfred Differ,

Thanks for that page. I should have known that it had a name and has been extensively studied. I check myself a lot too to avoid falling into the trap but sometimes my ego takes over.