Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Future shock? Or inevitability? Plus making facts back into "things."

Before getting into other prophecies, first a word about the master. Alvin Toffler was among the greatest of all modern forecasters and author of FUTURE SHOCK. That best seller’s coming 50th anniversary inspired a new volume AFTER SHOCK, with inputs from some towering modern minds. (And my poor self, for comic/pity relief.)

Fascinating reading for those who believe there will be - or can be - a future. Pre-order for its February release.

Meanwhile, already available and causing ripples is my own recent volume about our current political crises and whether the patterns of 60 centuries can be broken, at last. Free chapters of Polemical Judo can be sampled here. Including the chapter on "end games," much of it coming true before your eyes.
== Who'd a thunk this in 2020?==
While it’s good news that Moscow Mitch was cornered into letting some funds - a fraction of what experts requested - go to increased election security, he made sure it was block grants to the states, which red-cheater states will likely just use to line pockets and to put lipstick on their process pigs, doing nothing to ensure paper receipts and audits, for example.
Meanwhile… Timing is everything. Nixon resigned just before impeachment so he could be pardoned. Now it appears too late for Trump, with it clear that Mike Pence would not be able to.  But Ol' Two Scoops probably figured “New York will come after me anyway. So let’s slug it out.”
Oh, while the news is filled with Ukraine and Russia, let me remind you how cleverly the "ex" communists surrounding Vlad Putin changed their "spots"... but not their goal of our demise.
== More on the "Russia thing ==

For 70 years, the Comintern/Politburo tried to suborn the American left, with only modest success among a few famously gullible saps. But within a few years after dropping the hammers and sickles and worker-rhetoric, they virtually took over American conservatism. Here’s a cogent article describing how it happened. The ease with which the Kremlin has suborned the U.S. right must have shocked even the “former” KGB agents and “ex” communist conspirators who still run the place, almost as much as it has appalls longtime rightist apologists like George F. Will.

According to Anne Applebaum (and her many sources) it has always been less about Russian/Soviet successes at governance (there were never any but a few) than about a good western trait that all-too often goes sour… our propensity to encourage vigorous self-criticism. This Hollywood-taught reflex to carp and point at errors is healthy! But it can be exploited by enemies, turned into sourpuss treason and, indeed, has been turned against us.

And while Applebaum’s essay lays out several plausible contributing factors, I have long asserted that only one thing can explain the tidal wave of inexplicable reversals and treasons by once respected conservatives like William Barr.
That reason is blackmail, a standard KGB operational tool that expanded under facilitation by folks like David Pecker and Jeffrey Epstein and aboard princely yachts. And I devote a chapter to it in Polemical Judo.

Seriously, read the Applebaum piece, especially for the hypocrisy of US rightist/foxite adoration of a Russia that “defends traditional values” ... while their suddenly adored Russia has double our abortion rates, double the divorce, STD, domestic violence and alcoholism rates of even Red America, and less than a quarter the rate of church attendance, with six times the muslim population percentage and one province that is actually ruled under Sharia Law. Yet last time I cited how a major, US-led Christian org recently met in Moscow and pleaded with the Kremlin to "save us from the West."

How blatant can it get? Russian media and oligarchs laughingly are open about Trump being “their man” and some even use the word “agent.” Rossiya TV talks about welcoming him when he goes into exile. “Should we get another apartment in Rostov ready?” said a top TASS pundit, referring to Viktor Yanukovych, former president of Ukraine, who was forced to flee to Russia in 2014 and settled in the city of Rostov-on-Don. Both Trump and Yanukovich were top clients of Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager, now in prison, but still funneling memes and tactics to Mitch McConnell. This article is thorough, disturbing, and needs to be thrust under the nose of your patriot-in-denial who still watches Fox.

Hatred of Obama, H. Clinton and George Soros, for helping rob away “his” Ukrainian buffer state, led to Putin fulminations reminiscent of the final scene of the movie Downfall.

It's time to call Republicans the Putin shills they are, and make them blink with the accusation - easily supported - of "commie."

Oh yes, Christopher Walken had it right. You've got to hand it to them.

== The only thing that corners them ==

You all by now sigh when I bring this up. And to my knowledge I am shouting into the wind, as almost no member of the blue coalition to save the Enlightenment will ever try what blatantly works. But, again, here’s the response to right wing maniacs that always shuts them down.

Arguing with them seems futile. They writhe and distract and “whatabout” and hurl KGB-generated links…

... until you repeatedly demand money wagers!

At which point they flee, with “coward” the word chasing their lame “macho” asses. Top dismissing it with a shrug; actually try it! Here’s a script you can use, if you have the guts.

“Baloney. Let’s bet on it!. Deposit $5k in escrow with a reputable law firm so I’ll know I’m not wasting my time with another Kremlin-boy blabbermouth. If you’ve got the cojones to do that, like a man, then we can wager over some of this, like -

- whether there are any fact-centered professions your Fox/Putin cult is NOT waging war against, from scientists, teachers and journalists to a million dedicated civil servants and officers in the FBI, law, intel, foreign and military services who saved us from Hitler, Stalin and bin Laden, but who you now dismiss as “deep state” traitors, without one scintilla of real evidence...

. . . all the folks who can't afford to ignore blatant facts, like climate change and the GOP’s deliberate destruction of all of our alliances. All of them can also see that your confederacy has sold out to foreign enemies and mafia oligarchs. NAME AN EXCEPTION to your cult’s mad war against our strengths. Put up or shut up.

- Or whether the tidal wave of turpitude and lies in the GOP outweighs the Democrats by merely 20x… or 1000-fold. I’ll pay if it is merely 20x! But before you bet, maybe you should look up the ratio of convicted sex offenders and gruesome divorces in top GOP leadership posts across the last 30 years. Oh, what role models.

- $100 says you can’t find a top GOP or Fox person who has offered to help set up a truly neutral fact-checking service, to solve the “fake news” problem, once and for all. Instead of shrieking “fake news!” at anything they don’t like, why not help set up fact-checkers to either prove their case or help us out of this mess? Oh, right. Because facts are the top enemies of the New Right. Bet on it!

- The cities are dens of sin, right? Okay I’ll put down cash that Red States score far worse on almost any measure of moral living, from divorce and STDs to teen sex/pregnancy/disease, to gambling and domestic violence. To preaching endlessly how much more moral they are. Except for Utah. Decent folks there.

'- The best one: "Let's randomly pick ten from the list of 16,000 Trump lies. If any ONE of them is a proved, deliberate falsehood, you should be outraged. But I will pay off if it isn't MORE THAN THREE.

- The simplest bet: Ocean Acidification. Fox doesn't even try to deny it's happening, it's deadly and humans are causing it. Nail your redder with offers of proof! Get a glass of tapwater, a straw and two swimming pool test strips to prove CO2 turns water acidic. Offer to take the fool to a shore with a Ph meter, or to visit the local community college chem teacher. Watch him panic and run!

And these are just a few of so many wagers for redder cowards to flee-from. For lots more, see chapter 15 of Polemical Judo.

==There are so many you could use... and they will NEVER ante-up ==

Continuing the standard challenge: 

"If you were truly confident in the crazy things you ‘learn' from Fox, you’d be eager to bet and take MY money! But deep inside you know all that crap is a pile of magical incantations to make you feel good. And if you put real money on any of it, you’d lose your house. You are cultists in frantic denial that the US right - once represented by sages like Buckley and Goldwater - has gone insane.

'So go ahead. Deposit that $5k, Kremlin boys. Once you have, it will be worth my while to negotiate neutral parties to judge the bets and exactly which Fox incantation we’ll bet on. Of course you'll find excuses. You will squirm and wriggle. But “coward!” will follow you, all the way.

'Go ahead. Let’s bet over that, as well.'


TCB said...

Quick question, though: Clinton was impeached but acquitted, and was able to pardon others afterward. Is there any limitation now on who Trump can pardon, other than himself? The obvious sane-world answer is "not for corrupt or self-serving pardons of henchmen involved in his crimes" but Bill Barr would certainly advise him to do that anyway, with Bush Senior's last-minute Iran-Contra pardons as the template.

 Ashley said...

I self describe as apolitical, not because I have no interest in the political machinations of the elite, but because I'm just one of the peasants who have to tough their forelock to my masters. I know my place, which is mostly keeping my head under the parapet.

So such polemic as written above, tends to fly over my head.

But I want to say that I'm not convinced that Trump is a Russian plant; I think they would like us to think he is, and perhaps it's a game of double-bluff? Who knows? Not I!

But, here's the thing that I find really troubling...

Russia and China are both polity's that want to control their internet, unlike us in the West. The only good reason that springs to my mind is that they know they're using propaganda to undermine our society, and as a result they wish to make sure that the West doesn't return the favour in spades.

I'm more likely wrong, and as always I'm open to evidence.

Larry Hart said...

Presented without further comment...


More than a century ago, a titanic political leader said, “There is only one truth: What profits my opponent hurts me, and vice versa.” That has become the operating principle of Republicans. For these onetime anticommunists to follow the example of Vladimir Lenin only highlights how far they have come.

scidata said...

After Shock: Impressive list, Grady Booch is one of those names that grabs my eye no matter how fast I'm skimming. Deep thought about the nature of computation itself is rare. David Brin certainly belongs in the mix (for Asimovian contributions alone). Newt Gingrich... pass.

Darrell E said...

"And while Applebaum’s essay lays out several plausible contributing factors, I have long asserted that only one thing can explain the tidal wave of inexplicable reversals and treasons by once respected conservatives like William Barr."

I think you are likely correct that fear and threat of black mail is a significant factor, but William Barr once respected? "Cover-Up General" Barr? The lying sack of shit that was instrumental in the final clean up / cover up of Iran Contra and Iraqgate back when he was daddy Bush's (your pick for worst president ever) Attorney General? I'm not sure he was ever respected by any but his own ilk and perhaps the masters that he lied for. If he did have the respect of anyone else it was simply misplaced, likely due to ignorance. His ethics and behavior have not noticeably changed over time. He is behaving today exactly as he did decades ago.

David Smelser said...

Doesn't the "trump can't be pardoned because he been impeached" just mean that the impeachment can't be undone? Or does this also apply to the underlying crimes that he could be prosecuted with once he leaves office?

David Brin said...

Ashley, it is not essential to be as "political" as some of us here, though we hope you are at least not pretending this is an time for fence-straddling. Also there are A-political things one can do, like joining the heroic community of poll managers and poll watchers. No obligations. Just a once-mention.

As for controlling the Internet, of course it is power. And my book The Transparent Society long ago made the case that tyrants of all kinds - who dominated 99% of past cultures - must seek to maximize the flow of information from below to above and minimize the opposite flow.

Alfred Differ said...

The problem with Trump pardoning people is they have no way to claim 'the fifth' to avoid testifying about him in federal court.

 Ashley said...

David Brin said... "Ashley, it is not essential to be as "political" as some of us here."

No fence sitting, just a realistic view of what I can control and what I can't.

Larry Hart said...

David Smelser:

Doesn't the "trump can't be pardoned because he been impeached" just mean that the impeachment can't be undone? Or does this also apply to the underlying crimes that he could be prosecuted with once he leaves office?

I wonder if the lawyers have to hash that out. It seems to depend on what "in Cases of Impeachment" means in the Constitutional language:

The President ... shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

I think the common sense interpretation is that "except in Cases of Impeachment" qualifies "Offenses against the United States", i.e., impeachment is an exception to the crimes that the president is allowed to pardon.

The article's author seems to take a very optimistic (from my POV) interpretation that says "except in Cases of Impeachment" qualifies "The President". That is, because Trump the person has suffered a "case of impeachment", he can't be pardoned for anything.

You could take that further and read it as "except in Cases of Impeachment" qualifies "shall have the power to grant", which prevents Trump from issuing any further pardons at all.

However, I doubt either of those wishful thinking views would prevail in actuality (though if the president were a Democrat, who knows?).

Larry Hart said...

Emphasis mine:

One might think that Mr. Sanders’s policies are crazy (even if in fact they are inspired by Denmark, one of the world’s most successful capitalist democracies). One might find him an old curmudgeon (even if his supposed “rudeness” cannot possibly be put into the same category as Mr. Trump’s spectacular cruelty). But neither his policies nor his personality poses a threat to the Republic. Mr. Trump does pose such a threat and all those NeverTrumpers who are now saying they would vote only for the right kind of Democrat better remember that no less than should liberals who equate democracy with centrist consensus.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Good piece by Müller, Larry. "Bernie: He's not as crazy as you think" isn't the most flattering approach possible, but Müller is saying what needs to be said to counter the wild-eyed Trumpkins and Randroids that Bernie is a commie who is going to exile us all to freeze in Siberia, or worse, Cleveland.

Andy said...

David, came across a brief mention of you by Kevin Drum in a post about facial recognition databases. Though I'm not quite sure what he means.

"I am supposed to be outraged by this, but I can’t bring myself to be. I’m only surprised it’s taken this long. In the end, I’m still a Brinite, even though David Brin himself isn’t. I basically believe that privacy is dead; there’s nothing much we can do about it; so we might as well get used to it."

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin:
You made completely valid points.
However, I see the likelihood of actually changing the perspective of hard-core Trump supporters as about on par with trying to convince (through facts) a religious fundamentalist that their sacred text isn't literally true.
We only need to convince a small number of soft-core Trump supporters in the swing states (while fighting voter suppression and encouraging turnout).

A brief personal note:
When I was growing up, my father (an American History professor at a small state university in New Mexico and "a fighter of the good fight") taught me that people are fundamentally rational and that if you lay out the facts in the proper way, you'll convince them of the merit of your argument.
However, I learned (anecdotally and reading about behavioral economics and similar disciplines) that HE AND I WERE (at least partially) WRONG:
In our waking lives about 40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit (
Furthermore, our goal of objective rationality is inherently limited by cognitive biases.
In conclusion, it seems that rationality would indicate the use of *non-rational (but not irrational) methods to influence people based on the best information we can get.
As LBJ is supposed to have said (though I can't verify it- it's probably apocryphal):
"When you grab them by the balls, their hearts and minds will soon follow..."



*A thought- IMSM, the Foundation/Psycho-historians said something like:

Gaal: "Hey Dr. Seldon, our research shows that we know what is best for people (Sounds a bit like Apple...) and we can't tell people what we're doing; that would blow the experiment, and NOT telling them makes us evil, elitist a-holes!"

Hari: "Hmmm, you're right- we're trying to HELP folks here.
Let me think about this and run some sims on a few of the Prime Radiant computo-modules.

(Sometime later)
Hari: "Gaal, the Prime Radiant simulations have shown that we SHOULD inform people of the 1000 Year Plan and tell them exactly what we're doing and how we're doing it."

Gaal: "But Dr. Seldon, won't that destroy the entire project?

Hari: "Normally it would, Gaal. However, we will frame this as a recently-uncovered massive conspiracy, and only a few cranks (mainly in the Red Sectors) will believe it, so after a few years it (and we) will be all but forgotten."

Gaal: “Dr. Seldon, AREN'T we a massive conspiracy, though?"

Hari: “Yes, Gaal- we are. That's the beauty of this solution.
Send a hypermail to Rosaya- the tik-toks will soon be busy cranking out content for Spacebook."

...and on icy planet Eos, had R. Daneel Olivaw's emotion emulator been activated, it would have provided him the positronic equivalent of a small chuckle...

-Foundation’s Fiasco

Jon S. said...

Donnie can't pardon, say, Barr if the House decides to impeach Barr. It's useful in courts, but not in Congress.

locumranch said...

According to Anne Applebaum (and her many sources) it has always been less about Russian/Soviet successes at governance (there were never any but a few) than about a good western trait that all-too often goes sour… our propensity to encourage vigorous self-criticism.

CITOKATE, an acronym for "Criticism is the only known antidote for Error".

This Hollywood-taught reflex to carp and point at errors is healthy! But it can be exploited by enemies, turned into sourpuss treason and, indeed, has been turned against us.

CITOKATE, an acronym for "Criticism is the only known antidote for error".

Yet, it is this very Criticism (aka "the only know antidote for error", that both AA & DB so roundly denounce as the equivalent to both ERROR and "sourpuss treason", which alters our host's omnipresent CITOKATE mantra into a rather insane tautology, that being that "ERROR is the only known antidote for error".

Kudos to Ashley, btw, for her mature display of stoic implacability (aka the 'Serenity Prayer'), and shame on the rest of you for not recognising that the Trump Impeachment trial is a Lose-Lose (Negative Sum) activity which can only provide 'proof-positive' to roughly 50% of US voters that US democracy is DEAD, irrespective of a declaration of Trump's guilt or innocence, irrespective of outcome.

The Cognitive Dissonance is strong in this thread.


David Brin said...

Keth heh. Your Seldon thing ought to be canon.

locum's incoherent and indecipherable jibber-jabber was predictably hostile but too impenetrable to by offensive.

scidata said...

Keith Halperin: it seems that rationality would indicate the use of *non-rational...

After reading a bit about AlphaGo and its successors, and Kasparov's revulsion at Deep Blue's 'mind', I recalled the Star Trek TOS episode "The Galileo Seven". Spock saves the crew of the shuttlecraft by jettisoning and igniting the fuel they needed to maintain orbit. He later explains his decision:

SPOCK: Quite simply, Captain. I examined the problem from all angles, and it was plainly hopeless. Logic informed me that under the circumstances, the only possible action would have to be one of desperation. Logical decision, logically arrived at.
KIRK: I see. You mean you reasoned that it was time for an emotional outburst

Black box machine learning is similar. It's clever, but is it AI? (to mash Kipling)

Keith Halperin said...

Thank you, Dr. Brin. *That's high praise indeed! ...
Assuming we're not overwhelmed by events, it's reasonable to say there will be additional discoveries (perhaps a few **major, ***most minor) about what actually causes most people to behave most of the time.
How can those additional discoveries be used to benefit people-at-large as opposed to groups/individuals who would use them to further their own ends by using those discoveries to control and manipulate people-at-large?


* It occurred to me that the Foundation is sort of a well-meaning Cambridge Analytica IN SPACE!
Also, unless the Foundies had a really good misinformation campaign:
"Oh, we're just a bunch of fuddy-duddy Meritocrat academics wasting the Galactic Empire's money on nothing meaningful at all. No need to pay attention to US..." AND super-high security, then otherwise (while they were still on Trantor) you'd think with 4E10 folks there and even if curiosity was basically eliminated in most adults, SOMEBODY with a bit of pull/capital would have stumbled upon what the Foundies were doing do and said "WHOA! This s*** could really help ME! I want it!", and kept going after it, though it seems that plot line faded out in Prelude more or less..

**If you keep people angry about somebody else, they'll probably stick with you."

*** If you hand someone a warm cup of something before they talk with you, they'll like you more than if you don't give them the warm cup.

David Brin said...

Well, the Galactic Empire's Committee for Public Safety, led by Linga Chen, wanted to publicize the Terminus Encyclopedia Project as the way to ensure the Fall would NOT happen, since Seldon had already leaked widely that it MIGHT happen.

DP said...

Just a quick digression.

There are now 5 Chinese cities on lock down due to the coronavirus and the Chinese authorities' attempts to contain it.

What's going on here?

P.S. Last year the Chinese lost half their swine herd (1/4 of all the pigs on the planet) to a virus.

David Brin said...

Yes frightening. Especially since the easiest recourse will be to blame us.

DP said...

There are now 8 Chinese cities on lock down as a result of the Wuhan coronavirus. Seems like an over reaction to a virus that causes mortality only to the aged (as does ordinary influenza). Unless...

"A laboratory in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The move is part of a plan to build between five and seven biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs across the Chinese mainland by 2025, and has generated much excitement, as well as some concerns. Some scientists outside China worry about pathogens escaping, and the addition of a biological dimension to geopolitical tensions between China and other nations. But Chinese microbiologists are celebrating their entrance to the elite cadre empowered to wrestle with the world’s greatest biological threats."

Zepp Jamieson said...

Apparently it's now 10 cities (some 75 million people) under quarantine. I don't know if this is a grotesque overreaction by Beijing, or if the situation is far worse than what they've been telling us. The Chinese government love "draconian," but anyone who has ever read "The Stand" is going to feel a nasty twinge of apprehension.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I saw one report--and I'm dubious, since it would involve a huge leap across DNA pastures in one go--that this coronavirus came, not from chickens or swine, but snakes.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Zepp
Why would a jump from snakes be a bigger jump than from chickens?
I can understand greater opportunity for it to happen with billions of chooks
But the gap would be about the same?

Larry Hart said...

Gotta laugh.

Remember, the Commerce Department is run by Wilbur Ross, whom readers of my colleague Gail Collins voted Trump’s worst cabinet member, which is quite a distinction given the competition.

Kinda like being the worst hockey player in all of Ecuador. :)

Jim Lund said...

China is in the middle of Chinese New Year, a holiday when many people travel home. This would amplify the spread of a contagious disease, so Chinese authorities working aggressively, perhaps even over-aggressively to limit travel now makes a lot of sense. They want to lower the likelihood the virus outbreak will turn into an epidemic.

 Ashley said...

In answer to question, Where did the virus come from?

"The World Health Organization told journalists this week that the agency is still working to pin down the source of the virus. But many of the first confirmed cases were in people who had visited a food market in Wuhan. The market, which sells live farmed and wild animals, has since been closed and disinfected.

A recent genetic analysis suggests that the virus resembles viruses that infect bats and snakes. Researchers believe that it may have resulted from separate viruses in bats and snakes recombining. This could have happened in the wild, but may also have occurred in the market, where the animals have been kept in close proximity to each other."

From here:

Alfred Differ said...

Influenza varieties are most coin in birds. Some few can cross to pigs. Some of those can cross to us. Farmers with birds and pigs close together facilitate new transitions. Especially ducks and pigs because your domestic female ducks get raped by wild male ducks every chance they get. Big wild population with backdoor to us.

I haven’t heard of a similar path involving snakes, but we don’t farm them at scale so I’m dubious.

David Brin said...

We don't farm snakes,,, at scale?

What? They're not unionized?

David Smelser said...

According the article I read, the jump from snake to human is interesting because snakes are cold blooded.

Anonymous said...

Rural China still has poor people who will eat _anything_, even just on a dare. Bats and snakes? I am not surprised. It is the city people in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan, that will not do such a thing. Because the country went through what is the fastest modernization ever, and there are still such country folk around. Just speculating.

Smurphs said...

Hey, Doc. Last post I jumped on you for not jumping on Hillary. Stupid me, I didn't check the primary sources first. My bad.

I apologize.

Zepp Jamieson said...

For starters, mammals are warm-blooded, whereas snakes are not. Most viruses prefer a relatively small range in their hosts. The mechanisms for fighting viral and bacterial invasion is different between the two groups, as well.
It's not impossible--just very unlikely.

David Brin said...

No sweat blue-guy!

locumranch said...

Especially in the case of China & its recent viral outbreak, the Liar's Paradox raises its ugly head once more:

Why would anyone believe anything that the inscrutable PRC has to say?

Because of their history of scrupulous honesty??

Ah fart in your general direction if & when you are so stupid to believe the words of such an accomplished liar, such stupidity being analogous to (1) crediting a lying Putin whenever he either condemns or endorses the random US political candidate or (2) believing a deep state government functionary when he natters on about WMDs & yellow cake uranium.

My rule-of-thumb is that lying liars always lie.

It is a matter of definition.


Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: Yes, indeed- Linge Chen (or as we would now do it Chen Lin-ge):

He was born to wealthy Greys on Xamin, in the Booshee Sector. There are numerous gaps in his identi-film, allegedly attributed to a mysterious fire in the Xamin Central Records, damaging his primary identi-film and both backups. It is anecdotal that (as was particularly true of the largely-Easterner culture of Xamen) great family emphasis was placed on success on the Imperial Examination and a traditional career in the ICS (Imperial Civil Service), aka, “the Greys”. While there are no confirmations available, it is strongly believed he did not pass…

Here the record becomes even more unclear for a number of Galactic Standard years, but Chen is believed to have become a member of the Booshee Sector Police, where he was involved in efficiently diffusing (with minimum loss of life) a Renaissance Outbreak on Doijveld and the Locum Uprising on Brinn. It was these two events which drew the positive notice of Galactic Imperial Intelligence….

During his tenure as Commissioner of Public Safety, Chen appeared to live the life of a modest governmental official, but extensive posthumous examination of his financial computo-files reveal him to be immensely wealthy, with deep ties to the agricultural and shipping interests which supplied Trantor with much of its food from 20 agricultural worlds during this period…

Chen was also known to have great enmity toward the Greys, perhaps triggered by his alleged failure to pass the ICS Exam and more recently due to his inability to control them. He had been a major behind-the-scenes-actor in the campaign to discredit the ICS, but was largely unsuccessful during the the time of Cleon and the First Junta.

Chen was a committed Decline Denier and had a financial interest in the auto-factory which manufactured the red diamagnetic MEGA (“Make Our Empire Great Again") hats briefly popular in many Trantorian and off-planet sectors...


Re:farming snakes:


Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman notices and states the obvious:


Basically, the man in the White House operates on the principle that l’état, c’est Trump. It’s a principle nobody who believes in American ideals should accept.

David Brin said...

Keith, heh! Fun stuff!

locum: "My rule-of-thumb is that lying liars always lie." And you would know, raving against every possibility of factual accountability, or objective/testable reality.

reason said...

Anonymous snakes are a speciality in some chinese, they show you them alive before they are killed in the kitchen.

Larry Hart said...

The New York Times does a good job explaining why there are very different rules for Democrats than for Republicans. Sad but true.


But in recent decades, the two parties have been changing, and fast. Those changes are ideological — the Democratic Party has moved left, and the Republican Party has moved right. But more fundamentally, those changes are compositional: Democrats have become more diverse, urban, young and secular, and the Republican Party has turned itself into a vehicle for whiter, older, more Christian and more rural voters.


Put simply, Democrats can’t win running the kinds of campaigns and deploying the kinds of tactics that succeed for Republicans. They can move to the left — and they are — but they can’t abandon the center or, given the geography of American politics, the center-right, and still hold power. Democrats are modestly, but importantly, restrained by diversity and democracy. Republicans are not.


There should be a check on this sort of epistemic closure. A party that narrows the sources it listens to is also narrowing the voters it can speak to. And political parties ultimately want to win elections. Lose enough of them, enough times, and even the most stubborn ideologues will accept reform. Democracy, in other words, should discipline parties that close their informational ecosystems. But America isn’t a democracy.

Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the Supreme Court and a majority of governorships. Only the House is under Democratic control. And yet Democrats haven’t just won more votes in the House elections. They won more votes over the last three Senate elections, too. They won more votes in both the 2016 and 2000 presidential elections. But America’s political system counts states and districts rather than people, and the G.O.P.’s more rural coalition has a geographic advantage that offsets its popular disadvantage.


The alternative to democratizing America is scarier than mere polarization: It is, eventually, a legitimacy crisis that could threaten the very foundation of our political system. By 2040, 70 percent of Americans will live in the 15 largest states. That means 70 percent of America will be represented by only 30 senators, while the other 30 percent of America will be represented by 70 senators.

It is not difficult to envision an America where Republicans consistently win the presidency despite rarely winning the popular vote, where they typically control both the House and the Senate despite rarely winning more votes than the Democrats, where their dominance of the Supreme Court is unquestioned and where all this power is used to buttress a system of partisan gerrymandering, pro-corporate campaign finance laws, strict voter identification requirements and anti-union legislation that further weakens Democrats’ electoral performance. Down that road lies true political crisis.


Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

locum: "My rule-of-thumb is that lying liars always lie."

If a lying liar says "Lying liars always lie", then that statement must be a lie, so lying liars don't always lie. So maybe he's telling the truth that he's lying.

The mind boggles. :)

Larry Hart said...

Hey, after over two months, I had almost given up on Jim Wright (Stonekettle Station) weighing in on the latest goings on. But lo and behold, he does have a new entry up.

Synchronistically entitled "Snake". You can't make this stuff up.

Trump should have resigned already.

Trump’s Impeachment trial, such as it is, starts today in the Senate.

But we shouldn’t have gotten this far. Trump should have resigned already.

If we lived in a rational nation, I mean.

If we had rational political parties who actually cared about the nation more than themselves.

Hell, even if we lived in the insane world of 1974. Trump would have resigned already.


Larry Hart said...

@Keith Halperin,

Didn't you mean to include a reference to the Encyclopedia Galactica published in the year 1060 FE by the Encyclopedia Foundation on Terminus?

Alfred Differ said...

Don’t let the snakes unionize. They’ll demand too much break time in the sun and mammal sacrifices.

I don’t doubt viral transitions in general, but I kinda expect we have to present a large interface for it. Humans keeping pigs and ducks close to each other is an occasional interface for wild influenza. Flea infested rats living in unclean urban housing is a decent interface for a certain plague. Humans eating primates practically invites disaster.

David Brin said...

Time and again I find that I promote guys who speak sense, who notice bad things and cogently denounce dangerous trends... and they never reciprocate. I have driven traffic to Jim Wright and touted him widely. Same with Cory Doctorow and others in that orbit. Bruce Sterling & Norman Spinrad. I can understand Paul Krugman, rock star that he is, though I know he knows of me and has mirrored many of my memes.

I refuse to reciprocate. I still call Wright and Doctorow valuable. But their own causes would do better if we worked together. Hence it's kinda sad... though I will yet again, confine my gripes to a small, comment community and publicly link to Wright, yet again.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Larry Hart: Thanks for the suggestion. I would've if my information were anywhere near being up to the formal article standards of Encyclopedia Galactica on Terminus. As it is, it's not even up to the standards of Wikipedia Galactica- the last time I tried my very best with the help of some editorial AIs to get something there, an atto-portion of the Galaxia/Hypatia AI said:
"We don't know exactly what's wrong with this, but we still won't publish it...
Also Keith, if everyone in the Galaxy gave 2.3E10-9 New Galactic Credits, our expenses would be covered for a Galactic Standard Year. Keith, won't you give, too?"

BTW, did you hear that EG Terminus is suing THESE folks: for using the EG name?
WHOA! Trans-universal civil litigation! Sephirotic Archailects vs. Pan-Galactic Uber- Consciousness! Who will win?



Larry Hart said...

Keith Halperin:

BTW, did you hear that EG Terminus is suing THESE folks: for using the EG name?
WHOA! Trans-universal civil litigation! Sephirotic Archailects vs. Pan-Galactic Uber- Consciousness! Who will win?

Brings to mind that bit from Blazing Saddles:

"Heddy Lamar"

"That's Hedley!"

"Well, this is 1871. You can sue her."

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I refuse to reciprocate. I still call Wright and Doctorow valuable. But their own causes would do better if we worked together.

Sometimes, you just have to be the better man.

Alfred Differ said...

Stonekettle seems to enjoy the caustic environment that forms up around his posts on Twitter more than value the potential of coordinated action. He spends a lot of time reading, responding, and 'airlocking' and seems to genuinely enjoy it all. Looks to me a little like the joy we get from an indignation high, so I'm not inclined to believe he will walk away from the addiction reward.

scidata said...

DT's US Space Force logo is Starfleet's. Sulu quips that it should really be the Imperial seal from Star Wars. It's like having a third grader as prez.

David Brin said...

Yes but look at the bottom of the Space Force logo! It's still in the Department of the Air Force reporting to the Air Force Secretary! All right. Someone was on the ball. It's symbolism. All Republicans care about Symbolism, all the way down.

scidata said...

Good ole USAF. Glen Edwards is a bit of a national hero up here in Canada.

Is it just me, or does that USSF ship look distinctly Tholian?

Anonymous said...

One of my nieces is married to a Chinese doctor in Beijing. She's worried. Apparently the doctors asked for a quarantine days before the government acted. And the travel restrictions are pretty leaky…

Alfred Differ said...

Will the name for CVN-81 survive them?

David Brin said...

Tholian! A web!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Here's the latest as of an hour ago on the coronavirus situation, per The Guardian:

Forty-one people in China have died from coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, a city in Hubei province.
62-year-old doctor Liang Wudong died from the virus in Wuhan after treating patients.
More than 1,370 cases have been confirmed worldwide, the vast majority in China, and others predominantly across Asia. However, the virus reached Europe yesterday, with three confirmed cases in France, and has also been reported in Australia and the US. In total, 14 countries have been affected.
The World Health Organization has not declared a crisis, but is monitoring the situation.
In China, 30 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have now raised their public health alert to level 1, the highest level.
China announced it had ordered nationwide measures to identify and immediately isolate suspected cases of a deadly virus on trains, aeroplanes and buses. It is also building two new hospitals to deal with the crisis.
Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has said the response level has been raised from “serious” to “emergency”, the highest level.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control issued a statement warning that more cases in the EU are likely.
In the UK, 31 people were tested and the results were negative. The government is trying to track down 2,000 people who arrived from Wuhan in recent weeks.
The US began an operation to evacuate its citizens and diplomats from Wuhan.

David Brin said...

The word "pandemic" has replaced "epidemic" and thus has lost is usefulness. What we are seeing so far is an epidemic, and not yet proved to be a big one.

David Brin said...