Friday, February 21, 2020

David Brin's 2020 Newsletter & Updates

Our first newsletter in three years has gone out! Here’s the web version. Lots to report and new books to enjoy!
First, alas, I must report that Escape From Kithrup - the awaited next chapter of the Uplift Saga isn’t ready! (By a fair amount, alack.) But meanwhile, here’s good stuff to (star)tide you over! Starting with...
The Ancient Ones: My very new novel - a light-hearted space comedy - will feed your under-nourished guffaw-neurons! Kindle and POD editions go live on the equinox (3/19/20). Star Trek meets Hokas & vampires. 

Is comedy hard? Groan and laugh at sample chapters, then pre-order! 
Demmies aren’t so bad. They mean well. Impulsive and exasperating, sure. Often brilliant, cheeky, moronic, volatile, always astonishing... did I mention exasperating? The Alliance of Worlds wouldn’t be the same without them. Some would prefer it!
With a lovely-fun cover by Patrick Farley!

== And more 'items' of interest! ==
* Veering from the comically absurd to the seriously insane, I skewer today’s crazy politics in Polemical Judo. Our current crisis needs fresh perspectives! 100+ tactics may help our struggle for civilization. Sample chapters here - then help fight for a better future.

* A Need for Heroes: a stand-alone story about courage - and saving the world, now on my website (Excerpted from Earth).

Sundiver, my first novel, came back into our hands after 38 years. We made corrections, gave it a new cover and introduction. Now available as an ebook and paperback versions on Kindle/POD. But - Shout if you want that long-awaited, collectable hardcover! 

All my short story collections - including The River of Time, and Otherness as well as Insistence of Vision - are back! (My best work.) We've also re-released Heart of the Comet ( my collaboration with Gregory Benford)

* The video for Existence, by web artist Patrick Farley, is 3 minutes of sheer, chilling beauty. 

* In the recently released volume After Shock: Reflecting on 50 Years of Future Shock - a hundred futurists explore bold ideas about the human future; I have an essay debating the ideas of Yuval Harari. A volume with some Big Thinkers!

 * Chasing Shadows was called “the decade's best theme anthology.” Stories by Cat Rambo, Rob Sawyer, James Morrow and other masters — plus William Gibson & Damon Knight classics —  examine benefits and pitfalls of our coming transparent world. Co-edited by Stephen Potts.

== And we need you... yes, YOU! ==

Sci-fi-nerds save the world? Picture some weird event. Starships fulla inky squids. Trees walk or cyber-newborns talk! A commission (I’m on some) hurriedly advises governments. Might 80 years of thoughtful SF tales prove useful? With UCSD's Arthur Clarke Center, I set up TASAT - There’s a Story About That - to host discussion of wide-ranging what-if scenarios - and maybe someday save us all. Subscribe. Join the Group Mind! (Web-admin folks needed.) 

* Speeches and consulting: See over 300 NGOs, companies, activist groups and agencies I’ve consulted or given keynotes about a future that slams into us with wave after wave of onrushing change, both down here and in space.
* Cool watchables!
Project Neo.”  
Want more? Find frequent news and views on the always-provocative Contrary Brin blog.

Or follow me on Twitter / FaceBook or Quora.

The David Brin website offers free stories, samples, favorite books, videos, nonfiction, ideas and more.

I may speak in your area. So check my calendar. This summer, I'll be in D.C. as well as in Seattle in July - for Westercon: The 73rd West Coast SF& F convention.) See you in the future!

Finally: Okay it's been a Sci-Fi'ish year, even Twilight Zonish! But there's hope for an ambitious future and worthy civilization. Make it so!


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David Brin said...

To the regulars: Ol' Catfish n'Cod (and Mrs. Catfish) have some great news to share!

TheMadLibrarian said...

OH????? Let'er rip!
Regarding the loss of privacy: I have resigned myself to snoops of various ilks nosing out my personal information, but that doesn't mean I have to either a. encourage them, or b. assist them. To this end, I remain 'unknown' on Facebook, in which I do not participate, and have asked all my friends who do FB to resist the urge to identify me.

A.F. Rey said...

Star Trek meets Hokas & vampires.


Google search of hokas:

Hmmm...that would explain why the woman on the cover only has one shoe. :)

David Brin said...

Har... many sci fi folks know I meant this:!

David Brin said...

One of you commented a snark that I use "wagers" to bully others in an argument. I clicked "publish" but it doesn't seem to have appeared. Sorry. But I respond with Bullshit! I have found that my fellow humans are great at howling ASSERTIONS that make them feel great, even though they know the assertion is unlikely or even counter-factual. I have found that demanding cash wagers works extremely well at getting such fabulators to hurriedly back off of magical incantations they do NOT really believe.

And A couple of you did that hugely, making garish predictions about Bloomberg, for example, that simply will NOT happen! Moreover, you guys know it.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: the poster's comment did appear, from what I saw.
Re: wagers: what's the vig?
ISTM that a restatement of the purpose of the wagers is to have someone "put up or shut up".


Keith "More of an 'Eatin' Man' than a 'Gamblin' Man'" Halperin

TheMadLibrarian said...

Hm. Is 'Hoka!' the plural of 'hokum'?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor said: " I clicked "publish" but it doesn't seem to have appeared."

That's because it was in the previous thread. I do remember you offered to bet homes on some fairly trivial point. It's a bit like the poker shark to goes all in knowing he has a bigger pot than the rest of the table combined. Sometimes he has a good hand, sometimes he has a weak hand and just wants to bully and bluff his way out of a corner. It's a tactic best used sparingly.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Meanwhile, read your first two chapters. Some good original notions, and clever inversions of SF tropes. I'm looking forward to when it hits the Kindle market next month. Comedy IS hard--you're good at it, as is PJ Farmer and F Brown and above all T. Pratchett.

locumranch said...

Hoka!, written by Poul Anderson & Gordon R Dickson, published 1983, available for free download (below).


David Brin said...

Thanks for the kind words about THE ANCIENT ONES, Zepp. One doesn't know if comedy works, till it gets legs! Everyone pre-order!

But I never said that our homes would be the only possible stakes in a bet. If one better is richer, it should be something like "10% of each of our monthly incomes." "Or the cost of my last vacation vs. the cost of yours." So losing would HURT to a commensurate degree, no matter who has more.

But you are wrong. This is a method that must be used more and more and more, because it is the ONLY way I have found that appealing to facts will rock back the macho playground bullies of the entire mad right... or the mad left fringe.

--- Normally I disapprove of links to pirated versions of copyrighted works that feed an author's family. But Poul Anderson's daughter likely doen't mind folks getting a chuckle out of Hokas.

Alfred Differ said...

For the record, I am willing to hold wagers as long as they aren't so large as to attract taxing authorities. I have some conditions, though.

1. The wager has to be well defined up front. Think in terms that would look like a contract. For example, if the wager can be resolved with economic data, the data source has to be declared up front. If the wager involves a future prediction, a specific expiration date must be given. Basically, I'm not interested in holding wagers that will result in ties or arguments about who won.

2. If the wager involves future evidence, the expiration date must be within 5 years. I'm pretty sure I'll still be among the living for a while, but I have no intention of obligating my wife (much) to resolve things if I'm not.

3. If the wager involves more than two possible outcomes, I'll expect a well defined chart of what the payoffs are for each anticipated result. Any result not covered in the chart produces a tie.

4. If the wager is open to new 'buy-ins', it also has to be open to selling of one's position. For example, person A is pretty sure person B is wrong about X and takes even odds that expire in 2 years. After one year, they aren't so sure and want out of the position. Person C offers to take over by paying them 50 cents on the dollar. Now person C is betting person B at better than even odds and person B shouldn't care. If instead person C wanted in and person A did not want out, someone else would have to buy in on the other side to balance the book. Sound complicated? It's what a bookie does. The reason I point it out is that I really don't want to be a bookie trying to balance things on MY risk capital. Bookies who take risks don't last… and in most states that's illegal anyway.

Also for the record, think small dollars. My day job requires I retain a security clearance. Anything that gets me into trouble with the law is potential blackmail to be used against me, thus to be avoided. Security clearance investigators look for such things. I don't mind being openly involved in small stuff that looks like "put up or shut up", but I'll not make a business of it.

Now… having said that… before anyone is tempted to make a wager with our host, he likes to do it involving data that already exists instead of future bets. As long as the two of you can agree on a data source, you'd be a fool not to look at the data first. For example, our host likes to point out the second derivative of the US public debt and how it correlates with the political party in power. I went and looked up stats from the BEA and don't agree that the correlation is as good as he argues. Should I encourage a wager on that? Nah. We'd have to get into defining terms more precisely and we'd both wind up studying the same data set. No point in making a wager then, right? So why would he suggest one to others? Because they run off at the mouth with no evidence and waste his time. If I bring data, I'm not wasting his time… as much. Still… should I jump up and down and try to convince him I'm more right than he is? Nah. My chart is pretty close to his. We'd be quibbling over details... thus wasting each other's time. The young might be willing, but I'm lucky to be alive and have much more interesting stuff to do.

Alfred Differ said...

On a separate note regarding wagers that look like Texas Hold-em games, please do remember that there is a difference between the classic game and the one with unlimited raises. Most of the rules in both versions are the same, but the rules for raises are very important to know before you sit down at the table.

1. Always know in advance what your risk capital is and DON'T try to add to it at the end of a losing streak. Just accept your loss and bow out gracefully.

2. Don't add to your risk capital during a winning streak either. Just don't. Instead, set a limit on how long you intend to remain in the game and stick to it.

3. If you are going to play the unlimited game, REALLY don't add to your risk capital. Get it? Just don't. If someone goes all in, they are only allowed to push you into pushing in enough to match or clean out your current stake if their's is larger.

Did I miss any angle that leaves open the possibility of adding to your risk capital? I hope not. Just don't. Declare it up front and don't budge. Period. If another player thinks you belong at the low stakes table and not theirs, so be it. You probably do. Don't be a baby about it. 8)

Alfred Differ said...


The analogy I use for the feudal attractor is less of a Lagrange point and more of a singularity from inside the event horizon. We tunneled out somehow.

The other 'attractor' (I prefer Liberalism to Democracy) strikes me more as an exponential runaway solution than an attractor. Maybe an attractor at infinity? I doubt it because that smacks of Singularity thinking. Unicorns farting rainbows I suspect, but only because I think the singularity(s) are/will be in the second derivative.

I don't think we are nudging ourselves around any particular 'thing'. Seems to me that we are nudging ourselves away from a feudal singularity hoping to achieve escape velocity. So far so good.

Mark Frazier said...

Dr. Brin,

I've been a huge fan of yours for many years and regularly read your column here along with several of your books. One long-winded question I've been meaning to ask for a long time:

I've recently found myself drawn to re-read Azimov's Foundation series again and will be reading your contribution to the series in short order! This may seem a bit far fetched, but Azimov's concept of psychohistory strikes me as rather similar to the usage of mass and social media to affect the minds of a significant portion of the populace. I've seen you speak of this peripherally, such as in one of your video links above, but never touch on it directly.

Speaking with some of my not-quite-sane neo-libertarian friends brought up this topic of abuse of media. At one time I thought the biggest concern was the consolidation of media conglomerates, giving too much influence to a small group of people (such as MSNBC and FOX). Now, I wonder - with all the bad actors out there abusing social media, it feels like we're under assault from two vectors: mass media in the hands of the few, and unmoderated social media.

How do we solve this problem? If the right people get into office this fall, what's the top priority? Fixing gerrymandering and big money in the political system would seem like the highest priority, and we obviously need to tackle the big issues relating to wealth inequality and climate change, but where does this issue of social influence fall on the spectrum of our country's (nay, our civilization's!) ills?

And, finally, do you think Azimov may have created a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy with psychohistory? While it's clearly an undeveloped discipline, I keep wondering in the back of my mind if the wrong people got wind of the concept and have used it to steer our society back toward feudalism.

Or, I could just be seeing ghosts and this media-fueled turn of events is just an extension of the cigarette companies' media campaign from decades ago :)

P.S. What's up with the Neo documentary? Was it ever released?

duncan cairncross said...

Pre-ordered The Ancient Ones - it's due on the 19 march - My Birthday!

Tacitus said...

If one or more Kittenfish are involved in the unspecified Good News then congrats!

Ah, wagers. I'll be frank. The problem with this is not composing a wager or in setting some sort of stakes. By the way 'tis a bit heavy handed to discuss wagering for homes and percentages of income. If our genial host is enjoying the Trump economy so much that money is no object then good for him. But as thoughtful voices have expressed, not everyone is doing so well. I think you'd attract more interest with something like: "If I'm proven wrong I'll admit it in this esteemed forum and with the following non snarky words....".

No, the issue is judging. On various occasions I've assayed a run at your recurring, if not recently renewed, gantlet toss to the effect that "metrics" of national well being always improve under D presidents and decline under R's. You have always ignored my suggestion that a few of the Old Timers here be designated the judges of our respective arguments on this point and as such it is not worth my time. Judge, jury and prosecuting attorney combined are not the exact parallel here. It's more like asking someone to go play at a casino and it runs like this.

"I'll put my wager on 45 Red"

(spinning sounds)

"Yes! I win"

"Sorry, that's 44 Black"

"No it isn't!"

"Yes it is!"


Now with the Metrics wager this usually comes to a mixture of difference of opinion. What are significant metrics of national health? And to what extent is any given administration deserving of the credit or opprobrium for (perceived or actual) good and bad news of the day?

I'm not scolding mind you. This is simply a reflection of how strong personalities have come to behave on the internet. This sort of debate is much better in person and with appropriate beverages. More enjoyable, and you can on occasion raise a glass in the direction of your adversary in acknowledgment of a point well made.

T. Wolter

David Brin said...

REALLY good stuff from Alfred! His appraisal of betting was pretty good, though incomplete. Since no one ever takes up my wager demands to the point where contracts must be signed, I have to say that there’s several earlier phases where they chicken out. First is choosing holders for escrowed stakes. It should be simple… pick a law firm at random near the gym where your argument breaks out. For smaller bets, a nearby bartender.

Then agreeing who will adjudicate! I demand they name a couple of conservative people better known for their grownup dependability and honorable reputations than for political fervor… retired military or judges… while I get to do the same. Again, they always flee before it gets anywhere. It lets you taunt: “Oh? You don’t know any such reputable conservatives who would prefer your foxisms over facts?”

Above all: “If you are so sure of that ballshit you shout out that you’ll help block things my children need for their survival — you’d bet your own kids’ futures - why aren’t you sure enough to put down stakes and TAKE MY MONEY?”

It works. At least it works at shaming and making them flee, shedding playground macho like a trail of pee…And not one person of public note will even try it.

I’m slightly more optimistic than Alfred, in that the enlightenment or “liberal” experiment in flat-fair-competitively-creative systems did happen more than once, so we didn’t exactly tunnel out of a black hole.

But enlightenments do get crushed by the gravity and impacts of neighboring oligarchies, which fear the stunning levels of creativity that liberal societies unleash.

David Brin said...

Mark F welcome to the community. I agree that getting money out of politics and ending the cheats will help tremendously. So will cracking the wall of blackmail that I believe has locked scores - even hundreds - of high politicians and elites into servitude to enemies of the republic…

…But yes, answers to the toxic corruption on social media is also vital. HOW can we maintain the advantages of anonymity while eliminating its poison? I believe banks should rent their clients vetted pseudonyms that carry credibility ratings… and then nearly all sites should utterly bad participants who aren’t either real or vetted pseudonyms.

I go into all of those solutions in POLEMICAL JUDO.

Look at my list of 31 Quick Reforms. And even if those 31 are ALL we get done in 21, it would leave the Republic healthier and restored and ready for further challenges.

“And, finally, do you think Azimov may have created a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy with psychohistory…”

In fact the opposite! Isaac’s notion - like all predictions - engendered explorations of exceptions and routes around it. That’s what successful presiction does.

Alas, I never heard back from the Neo folks. But a least I got that video out of it? What I need to do is find some way to COPY it off Vimeo. For private use, of course. Sometimes stuff disappears! I”m pissed my speech on AI at World of Watson vanished and I can’t find a backup.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Mark: I think your observation that there are now two malign vectors in public discourse to be perfectly apt.
It won't happen under the present regime, but if America survives Trump, one of the most effective responses will be a rise of non-profit information corporations, such as we see with the BBC, CBC and the Guardian. Trying to stop a flood of lies is ineffectual at best. Countering with walls of truth is our best recourse.

scidata said...

Re: Foundation TV Series

AppleTV production begins this year at Troy Studios in Ireland, headed by Skydance, employing 500+ people. Let's hope they get it right.

Mike Harris said...

Sir: just a quick typo fix - the "There's a Story for That" link needs a colon after the 'http'.

Mike Harris said...

Also, looks like TASAT was "hacked", if you look at the RSS feed.

David Brin said...

Mike Harris, could you describe what you see as "hacked" at TASAT? It's a worthy project that could use some expert hands-on skills.

TCB said...

Does anyone have a link to this Neo doc on VImeo? I have no idea what to search for.

David Brin said...

Thanks. I fixed the link.

Mike Harris said...

Sure, quite simply it's the News and Challenge Alerts, which is also the RSS feed -- it has a 'hacked' entry from June 2017, preceded by a link to a pirated movie, preceded by something else.

The 'database' link also appears to be full of spam as well, unfortunately.

Some of the news stories are suspicious, I suspect, because of the nonsensical tags, i.e., this story:

that has a 'live football' tag, which would make no sense.

matthew said...

A couple of threads back we had a discussion of music and melodies. At that time I challenged our host's assertion that (paraphrasing) "all the good melodies were taken by the songwriters of the 60's and 70's." I asked that he give me a seed of 10 songs that he considered great, and said that I would supply a reply of 20 recent songs for his consideration as a rebuttal to the assertion. The matter kinda dropped at that point, except from interest from TCB in doing the same thing.

Absent the 10 songs from the Doc, I put together a playlist, which no doubt reflects my taste rather than his. Still, I hope this makes my point for me - that there is awesome and majestic music being made now, and that, no, not all the great melodies are gone.

With tongue firmly in cheek I present a playlist of varied genre:

Or, for those not doing the Spotify monitarization model of music enjoyment:
1) Do You Realize? - The Flaming Lips
2) Golden - My Morning Jacket
3) Los Angeles - Phosphorescent
4) Hands of Time - Margo Price
5) Impossible Germany - Wilco
6) Holy - Jamila Woods
7) Wildfire - Mandolin Orange
8) When My Fever Breaks - John Moreland
9) Kingfisher - Wolf People
10) Depreston - Courtney Barnett
11) The Stall - Warpaint
12) Blankenship - DIIV
13) Secret Meeting - The National
14) For Emma - Bon Iver
15) Die Young - Sylvan Esso
16) I Saw the Light - Spoon
17) Ain't That Easy - D'Angelo
18) We the People... - A Tribe Called Quest
19) Severed - The Decemberists
20) Ever South - Drive By Truckers

With much love of music, and respect to the 60s and 70s, please keep your ears young, the same way you would keep your reading habits young and active. There is a world of music around you, more than at any point in our history. Keep listening!

(and I apologize for my white-boy, indie tastes. I ran my college station for years and it left a mark. your experience may vary. no, I'm not saying my taste is great - I'm trying to ride on the shoulders of giants here and share music that I love.)

matthew said...

Oh, something I forgot to mention.
The playlist is open, which means that *you* could add to it if you wish. Please, if there is a song recorded in the last 20 years that you think is a good demonstration of melody, please add it in. My ears need new sounds too.

Alfred Differ said...


I know you have that essay that is written as statements to potentially lurking aliens encouraging them to come out of hiding. When I first came across it I was highly amused. Since then I’ve used some of the points to imagine specific cases like specific Twitter accounts and the entertainment continues.

I suspect something analogous is needed for wagers. “Take my money if you have the courage!” or something like that. You’ve done it for other topics to avoid repeating the refutations we’d know if we weren’t lazy. You might already have this one written as a stand alone too.

I don’t doubt that your ‘bet my house’ statement was for demonstrating your conviction. A stand alone essay would spell it out, though, for folks who miss the meaning between the lines.

Is it worth it? I’d guess that’s borderline. It might entice someone to take you up on a bet some day, but that probably is worth the effort if they are small stakes players. I’d bet you already have something real close though. 😏

Alfred Differ said...


What are significant metrics of national health? And to what extent is any given administration deserving of the credit or opprobrium...

That’s why I’d reject most wagers stated as cause/effect statements. There are too many unknown unknowns out there most of the time.

However, most of them can be recast as correlations that can be tested if the parties can agree on an acceptable source of objective data. I’d put ‘objective’ in scare quotes, but any data source not interested in the outcome of the wager and related stuff might do.

David Brin said...

Matthew I never sais 60s and 70s only. I have heard what seemed original melody as recently as a few years ago. What I've observed though was that after a huge, final feeding frenzy during the vastly productive 80s, there has been a severe TAPERING OFF of melody in favor of ecperiments in rap, rhythm and studio production effects.

Anyway, you put the burden on me? Heh. YOU should point us to original melodies of the last decade. If you are right, you'll find me never happier (joyous!) over being proved wrong!

Alfred, I have a whole chapter -- and a half! -- on wagers in Polemical Judo.

Yes, the wager method works bettwer in some general classes than others. My favorite is:

"Let's have a neutral third party generate 20 random numbers between 1 and 18000. Then use that list to pick 20 RANDOM statements by Donald Trump from the compiled list of 'Trumpian Lies'.

If all statements prove true, you get my house. If none, then I get yours.

In between?

If more than two prove decisively false, or more than 4 are gross exaggerations, then you admit this is a noxiously immature person who should not be supported in power. But no money changes hands.

If more than four prove decisively false or more than 6 are gross exaggerations, then you pay me $100.

If less? Then I pay you 100$ even if he is a noxious person.

"Refusal to take such a bet means you have no confidence at all that you'd win, or even keep your house. It can be taken as proof that you are a member of a cult that excuses the most grotesque liar in US history and a threat to civilization itself."

matthew said...

Doc, the playlist is an attempt to point you in the direction of original melody in the last 20 years. I think the earliest entry is 2002.
Plus some pungent lyrical content (Wildfire, Ever South, We the People..., Severed) related to the long standing themes of this blog.
As I've said, shared with tongue in cheek, and your results may vary. Nothing but love and respect and I hope you all listen. I'm still a radio DJ at heart (among many other things), and serial playlists are a bad habit of mine.

Please add your favorites from last 20 years if you listen. It's supposed to be a conversation, not me shouting.

David Brin said...

Thanks Matthew. I sometimes read comments in capsule before saying Publish to I missed the list. Not n Spotify. But I'll still try to Youtube my way down the list. Ever-hopeful! Though it may take some time...

Alfred Differ said...

I have a whole chapter -- and a half! -- on wagers in Polemical Judo.

Heh. Thought as much. I remember an early draft with wager ideas sprinkled through the early chapters and then in chapter 15 it was to be the primary focus.

So... now when people are not up to speed on what you mean they are demonstrating one of the following behaviors.

1. "I could learn, but I haven't made the effort to read what you've written." Lazy of them. Cowardly too.

2. "I can't afford to buy your book, so I haven't learned yet." In that case they have no business risking any money at all.

3. "I can afford to buy your book but haven't because I suspect it will infect my brain with doubt and lead me to a loss of faith." No need to explain this one I think. No point arguing with them directly, but it might be worth a knowing nod aimed at their spouses letting them know you see the difficulties they face in life. 8)


I prefer future facing wagers because 1) the evidence isn't in yet and can't be studied except by those lamps on our brows and 2) they look more like casino bets which engage a different part of our minds. Betting on 'what was/is' is processed in a different way than 'what might be'. 'What Was' activates Loyalty to a perception model. 'What Might Be' activates Foresight and Prudence which usually ends the time wasting argument without discussions of Courage.

For example, my libertarian friend who I tried to engage regarding his views on impeachment a few weeks back never took me up on a bet. By the time we had defined them enough to be well formed wagers, we both agreed on the likely outcomes if not on the precise odds. The differences between us involved immeasurables like 'Why Pelosi acted as she did'. I never saw another post by him on the points where we agreed, so I achieved my primary aim without any harm done. 8)

Your approach takes on macho bluster with threats of cowardice. I'd do that as a last resort, but not with people I want to keep as friends... or people I want to persuade... or people who know people I want as friends or to persuade... or people with whom I trade... The list goes on, but can't come close to including everyone in the world. Not even everyone in my community.

Zepp Jamieson said...

On melodies, someone took the chromatic scale and using a computer to brute-force it, produced every possible combination of notes for four bars--some six billion in all. He then put it all on a DVD, copyrighted it, and promptly put it in the public domain. In theory, any melody not already copywrit is not free for use.
Should be interesting to see how that pans out in the courts.

Meanwhile: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ There. I'm going to copywrite it. Doctor, if you use any of those in your books, you owe me money!

(And because I now there's always someone who doesn't get the joke, no, you can't copyright the alphabet.)

David Brin said...

Alfred, I list you among maybe a dozen who seem always to get my point.

The macho-demolition can be done more gently and with jocular affection with those you want to keep as friends. While saying "I think you're worth the effort."

locumranch said...

First, a pinch of Hoka! copyright violation; second, a digression in regard to how "all the good melodies were taken by the songwriters of the 60's and 70's"; and, third, a discussion about TASAT.

Now, all I have to do is invoke "Melancholy Elephants", a short story by Spider Robinson, in order to square this serendipitous circle with a perfectly legal link below:


TCB said...

I'll just leave this here.

Kang Mandor: degung gamelan by Ujang Suryana (West Java)

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Meanwhile: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ There. I'm going to copywrite it. Doctor, if you use any of those in your books, you owe me money!

I think you'd have to do what that music guy did--generate every possible combination of letters and spaces that would fill up to (say) 1500 pages and copyright those. Maybe you could have an infinite number of monkeys type them out.

Mr Burns:

"'It was the best of times. It was the blurst of times'? You stupid monkey!"

David Brin said...

Geez locum, do you always HAVE to be hostile, even when your topic and observation simply doesn't have to be? Cripes man.

duncan cairncross said...

Entirely completely and fully off topic

We had our annual 1/8th mile Drag race today - three electric cars out of a total entry of 30 cars and six bikes

A Tesla! - just an old Model S

My home made electric roadster went very well and was faster than all of the cars except two of the supercharged V8 T Buckets

It's great fun beating the expensive (and noisy) dino burners

David Brin said...

Wow Duncan. What fun!

Catfish 'n Cod said...

Tim, your prescience astounds. Mrs. Catfish extends you a special thanks and appreciation for coining a perfect nickname!

Yes, folks, it is true.... Mrs. Catfish and I are jumping out of the water in celebration as we welcome our little Kittenfish to the wide, wide world... quietly, as Kittenfish is sleeping on my chest right this second ����

David Brin said...

The world renewed.

Tacitus said...

"The world renewed."

And it is a very good world. Not perfect of course, and it never will be. But this time and for most of us, this place provides more opportunities than our immediate predecessors dared hope for or that our Ancient Progentitors could imagine.

It is the eternal bookends of existence that bring this to focus. The start of a life full of potential. The end of a life with potential realized to greater or lesser extent.

Catfish your world view is about to change. You'll see it through eyes blurry from lack of sleep and occasionally moist with tears. But as, relatively speaking, one of the Ancients, I assure you that you will see it differently.

T. Wolter

Larry Hart said...

Catfish 'n Cod:

quietly, as Kittenfish is sleeping on my chest right this second

Heh. Congratulations. I have a photo from 18 years ago when my newborn daughter was asleep on my chest. My wife e-mailed the picture out, to which her business partner snarked that Larry was exhausted after giving birth. :)

That was a scary time of life--it was December, and one day we had the entire financial and technical resources of a modern hospital at our disposal, the next day just paper thin wooden walls between us and a very cold night. But also a wonderful bonding experience. My wife appreciated the humor (though the nurse did not) when the nurse informed me that my wife was not to do laundry for at least two weeks, and ever the magnanimous husband, I said that that was ok because I was sure I could hold out that long. :)

I'll tell you what I've told every new parent since then--enjoy each step of the way as it comes, even the ones that don't seem enjoyable at the time. Because they go by really fast and they don't come back. That little thing asleep on my chest is now an 18 year old woman who can't wait to go to college and is awed by the fact that she can drive and vote.

DP said...

Anyone remember George McGovern?

Get ready, history is about to repeat itself.

Deuxglass said...

If I understand it well then Dr. Brin has thrown down the gauntlet and it is up to me to pick it up or not. Since I am the one being challenged then by rights of duel going back hundreds of years I get to choose the weapon which means I can set the terms. I could set the terms at being 30% of our respective net worth for example. However if I set these terms there might be a slight outside chance that my wife may not see the wisdom of my bet with what she would see as just some guy on the internet and tell me so with gentle words. Therefore I decided to offer three alternatives.

The first one is that we could have a foot race followed by a singing contest and ending with a spelling bee. It would be a balance of physical prowess, talent and intellectual strength. That way the spectators could judge our worth as people using multiple criteria rather than just one (money).

Or if you are angry enough we could actually fight! However I would insist on certain conditions. It would have to be put on Youtube with the title “Well-known Science Fiction Author and Lecturer Fights Guy Who Pissed Him Off on His Blog”. I would also insist that we wear Lucha libre costumes as well. The video could go viral and if it does then we could have rematches.

Or since this is a pissing contest why don’t we really have a “Pissing Contest”? This one is the one I fear the most since contrary to the other alternatives I have no idea if I would win or not. It would be a real bet.

Deuxglass said...

Catfish 'n Cod,

Congratulations! My wife and I are expecting our fourth grandchild in a couple of weeks.

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Anyone remember George McGovern?

Get ready, history is about to repeat itself.

Trump will resign in two more years?

Just sayin'

Zepp Jamieson said...

Monkeys are better at typing Shakespeare than they are at typing Dickens. It may be that monkeys are more pretentious.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Get ready, history is about to repeat itself."

Yes, because everything's exactly the way it was in 1072.

It's more like 1932.

scidata said...

Tim Wolter: this place provides more opportunities than our immediate predecessors dared hope for

I suspect this is at least part of the reason for Musk's headlong rush to launch Starship. Windows open and close, make hay while the sun shines, etc. Firing up imaginations is far more effective than indignant scolding.

locumranch said...

To invoke a Hugo Award winner in regard to melodic creation, prolonged copyright & TASAT was an attempt at wit, rather than an attempt at hostility.

Kudos to Catfish as well, children being the one source of pride & value in an world of little worth.

In the manner that 'Crystal Spheres' later triumphed over 'Ridge Running', I can only hope that Catfish's newborn joy may triumph over the statistical implacability of a national marital average of 8.2 years, the active duty penalty, the family courts, the Duluth model & the 10/10 rule.

Good Fortune & God Bless.

Alfred Differ said...


I doubt it. Predictions are all over the map. Once states with ballot primaries (that aren’t in Sander’s backyard) start reporting we shall have a better feel for who can win and what the turn out will be.

Caucus style moves very motivated people which make up a small percentage of voters.

Alfred Differ said...

Meh. Cynicism isn’t Wit for non-cynics. It’s more like being at a party when someone new walks in opens a vein.

Alfred Differ said...


As far as I know, firing up imaginations is the only thing that works. Scolding mostly teachs us to avoid the scolder.

gregory byshenk said...

Nice bit from Lawyers, Guns, and Money regarding 1972.

Let’s take a step back and play a game. The year in 1972. You are a Democrat and your big concern is this: “Hear me out: what if we do John Davis again, but this time we do it exactly the same as last time?”

See how stupid that sounds. And yet the 1924 election was 48 years old before 1972 and the 2020 election is 48 years after that. 1924 is as relevant to 1972 and 1972 is to 2020. But because of these popular culture/media constructions about the relatively recent past, 1972 is supposed to be extremely relevant.

David Brin said...

Catfish… enjoy precisely 14 years of great hugs (be warned, it can be as little at 12.).

Above all, smell her head. Get her used to the fact that it’s something dad just does. The aroma will create an addiction that in fact makes it easier to be the devoted dad.

Deuxglass there’s no acrimony here. I an testy at times and anyone with a thick skin just shrugs off that part of it. I don’t care if we actually bet. I am using you guys to refine arguments and methods to corner real hypocrites.

Besides, you have 3+ grandkids? Argh jealous. If any of our three kids ever procreates I’ll be too old to roughhouse. Remember, children and their grandparents share a common enemy!

Saw Jo Jo Rabbit last night. A worthwhile and enjoyable film. Saw 1917 in theater before that. A huge epic and cinematic accomplishment.

Zepp: “It's more like 1932.”

FDR was a hugely experienced governor of New York and savvy politician and able manager and coalition builder. Bernie is far more like Sinclair or Wallace - standard bearer for the Left with none of those traits.

David Brin said...

Criminy! 1972 is TOTALLY relevant! In the 90s we were riding high and our enemies sifted our PAST to look for mistakes that almost killed the American Experiment. They found "Civil War and quagmires in Asia." ANd lo, within a few years the suborned GOP had plunged us into both.

Ignore history andf you are screwed.

I like Bernie and he's more moderate and reasonable than he's portrayed. And he is a clone of my dad! But do NOT dismiss his drawbacks.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Yeah, except history doesn't repeat itself all that readily. In 1972, Nixon wasn't saddled with scandal, Vietnam still slapped blinders over the eyes of a large chunk of the "silent majority", and class-based politics didn't play well because the middle class was well off and gaining ground. And Bernie is unlikely to have to deal with an Eagleton situation.
The comparison to FDR is apt. Their policies are extremely similar, but FDR ran as a vapid centrist and a lightweight, more to fool his own party than the Republicans. Nobody really knows if he realized just how dire the national situation would be by the following March. He may well have intended to govern as "Hoover, only nicer." But he was already being called a traitor to his class and much worse by the Republicans in 1932, and polls showed him getting buried. (Liberty magazine polled by telephone in an era when only upper-middle-class and above had phones).

Darrell E said...

Catfish 'n Cod,

Sincere congratulations! My experience has been that your children will be the cause of both you best and worst moments. And they make you be a better person.

Darrell E said...


Very cool. Sounds like a perfect way to have some fun. What kind of times were you running?

Darrell E said...

I don't care to try and predict the future, but Bernie's performance in Nevada was impressive.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Darrell E
It's only an 1/8th mile - I did 7.83 seconds and 93 mph

I have been thinking about the Second Amendment “freedom” concept

It's possible that being armed makes you MORE vulnerable to being pushed about by the military after some sort of takeover

It would be VERY VERY difficult to convince the British Army to fire on British civilians

But that would only apply until the “civilians” fired on them

After THAT getting the Army to fire would become ten times easier

In the USA if there was some sort of takeover the Second Amendment types would fire on the Army - and THEN the Army would feel comfortable at using massive force

You see this with the US police who are much much more likely to use lethal force than the British police

TCB said...

Congradulations, Catfish! I thought you were old like me. Second Dr. Brin on the head smelling. Babies have the best head aroma. It's scientific, probably.

Dr. Brin, I think in the end you'll just have to get used to Bernie. He can run against Trump and it's likely Trump will have to steal the election to win it. Which he would do against any other Dem anyway. If anything, the Sanders legions are a lot less likely to take a theft lying down, compared to 2000 and 2016, because they are already disenthralled of the notion that democratic processes are still functioning as normal, or that any "perfect storm of gosh-darn bad luck" that helps Trump is really an accident.

Mother Jones article, 2015: How Bernie Sanders Learned to Be a Real Politician
A portrait of the candidate as a young radical.
Sanders was uncompromising and argumentative in his salad days, and pretty much a couch surfer when he won the Burlington mayor's race by 10 votes.

"In the mayor’s office, and later in the halls of Congress as a representative and then a senator, Sanders has followed a similar course to the one that got him to Washington. He’s unafraid to raise hell about the corporate forces he fears are driving America into the ground—replace “Rockefeller” with “Koch” and his Liberty Union speeches don’t sound dated—but always careful to keep Vermont in his sights. At times, Sanders has even showed a willingness to compromise that’s disappointed longtime ideological allies. He has supported the F-35, Lockheed Martin’s problem-plagued fighter jet that has led to hundreds of billions of dollars in cost overruns; Burlington’s international airport was chosen as one of the homes for the planes." He's more pragmatic than his reputation.

And the groundswell of popular broad-based support points to something people in both parties are slow to admit: the voters DO know what they want, and nobody until Bernie has offered it to them in decades; Clinton and Obama offered the parched voters a menu with a lovely description of a tall glass of cold lemonade, but actually came to the table with some off tasting swill from a wagon rut. The billionaires got the lemonade. And that's just the Democrats! The Republicans offer raw sewage and tell you to blame the Dems. Bernie offers lemonade, he'll get you the damn lemonade, if you show up and help.

To see what's really wrong with the Dem establishment and why their base is in almost open revolt, look at MSNBC, which, we've been told a hundred times, is the So Very Liberal news channel. But what does that mean? They're owned by Comcast, a corporation that will bay billions more in taxes and face a lot of increased regulation if Berniecrats run the country. MSNBC is not reacting like a liberal mouthpiece; MSNBC reporters are treating Sanders's Nevada win like a coronavirus diagnosis.

... I have heard the arguments that ex-governors make better presidents (because of the job similarity) and have a better record of actually winning the presidency (because math). Be that as it may, some recent and very bad presidents were governors; JFK came from the Senate and he was better at the presidency than many. Just sayin'.

David Brin said...

Duncan a fair point, and one I raise here

LBJ was one of the most effective presidents, almost as much as FDR, and he was a Senator. Still, that's a ball of wax.

What I will not abide is this crazy insistence that there's a "Democratic Party", let alone a DP "establishment." It is paranoid nonsense that never has anything but a patch of smolder here and there. Look up those words and "Will Rogers."

Zepp Jamieson said...

Ah, Will Rogers. Now HE would have been a Bernie supporter. Bernie understands prairie populism, you see.
I never claimed the DNC was organised. Indeed, that lack of organisation may be their only good feature.

David Brin said...

Not to hammer the point, Zeep. But if they are disorbganized then they HAVE no other "features" and paranoia about some conniving "DNC" is a sign of a defectively romantic mind falling for Putinist agitprop.

Darrell E said...


That is quite good! No matter the type of propulsion. I am impressed.

Zepp Jamieson said...

And yet I see Democratic centrists on TV, smearing Sanders as a commie, a nazi, all that.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

nd yet I see Democratic centrists on TV, smearing Sanders as a commie, a nazi, all that.

At least Paul Krugman isn't one of them.

Look, I know the primaries aren’t over, and it’s still possible that Democratic centrists will get their act together. But Bernie Sanders is now the clear favorite for the Democratic nomination. There are many things to say about that, but the most important is that he is NOT a left-leaning version of Trump. Even if you disagree with his ideas, he’s not a wannabe authoritarian ruler.

America under a Sanders presidency would still be America, both because Sanders is an infinitely better human being than Trump and because the Democratic Party wouldn’t enable abuse of power the way Republicans have.

And if you’re worried about his economic agenda, what’s your concern, exactly? That he’ll raise taxes on the rich part way back to what they were under Dwight Eisenhower? That he’ll run budget deficits? Trump is doing that already — and the economic effects have been positive.


David Brin said...

"And yet I see Democratic centrists on TV, smearing Sanders as a commie, a nazi, all that."

Anecdotally? I'd like to see links to such fools.

If you are claiming that's a common meme among moderates or supporters of other candidates, then I call you a hallucinating psycho or an outright liar.

duncan cairncross said...

Not a "Democratic Centrist" so much as a disillusioned Republican
But Chris Ladd
in his "Political Orphans" is smearing Bernie as being a Soviet Mole

Zepp Jamieson said...

Well, you call me things on that level fairly often (oh, that's just the Doctor...), but in this case, I can verify that Carville called Sanders a communist ten days ago, and Chris Matthews compared Sanders winning in Nevada to the German invasions of France yesterday. Granted, Matthews doesn't speak for the party, but he's basically in that political niche.
Larry: Yeah, I like and respect Krugman a lot. Both got considerable attention and won't be hard to find.

TCB said...

Here are the videos that got Chris Matthews in trouble with Sanders supporters:

Chris Matthews warns of ‘executions in Central Park’ if socialism wins

0:36 / 2:11
Chris Matthews likens Sanders victory to Nazi Germany overrunning France in 1940

The Sandernistas may seem hypersensitive in this matter, but the corporate media's ongoing treatment of Sanders is enough to make any reasonable person alert to the most ambiguous 'microaggressions' to use the modern parlance. The microaggressions are congruent with massive past aggressions and with likely future ones; it's the same reason we don't want Confederates and neonazis having parades in Washington.

We know it's not just a joke. We know they mean it. We know they'd do it all again. We've all heard the stories of CNN cutting away from Bernie speeches to show an empty microphone waiting for Trump to do a full rally. "The real estate magnate got $4.96 billion in free earned media in the year leading up to the presidential election, according to data from tracking firm mediaQuant. He received $5.6 billion throughout the entirety of his campaign, more than Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio combined."

In fairness, Bernie's slice as of March 2016 was not as meager as I would have guessed. But it was definitely on the light side given his import.

The other MSNBC contributor who stirred up the fire ants is Chuck Todd, quoting a conservative columnist who said "no other candidate has a digital brownshirt brigade" other than Donald Trump, which is an all but slanderous comparison.

Sanders: ‘My father’s family was wiped out by Hitler’.

I'll close by noting that nobody seems to be calling the Sanders operation disorganized. Not any more. The other candidates' teams arrived at caucus locations on the Las Vegas Strip and, according to reports I have seen, found themselves facing an intimidating, efficient juggernaut. (I've seen cartoons that show competing campaigns getting picked off like victims in a horror movie, by a Grim Reaper in the form of highly paid allegedly expert ex-Clinton campaign advisers.)

Larry Hart said...

dancan cairncross:

But Chris Ladd
in his "Political Orphans" is smearing Bernie as being a Soviet Mole

As opposed to Trump, who is what? A courtesan?

Tony Fisk said...

First things first. Congratulations to clan Catfish. Hope sleep returns to you soon.

Having briefly visited the site, I can confirm that TASAT is well and truly hacked, and needs a large broom or backup reset. (I don't think that scenario needs a story any more.)

Definitely no expert on American politics, but I have been seeing quite a bit of speculation about Bernie's links to Russia on my twitter feed. Apparently he was been briefed by the NSA that Russia are assisting his campaign. That was before the resident gave him the thumbs up following his Nevada sweep.
I have seen it expressed (primarily by Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin) that the link between Sanders and Russia may go much deeper. I don't necessarily agree.
My own thought is that the cyber shenanigans are intended to split him off from the rest of the field, so if he *does* get the nomination, people will stay away in droves (Conversely, the Brobots will work to dissuade a lot of his supporters should anyone else get the guernsey)

"Divide and conquer" is a strategy as old as military campaigns, and this line of reasoning is fairly straightforward. Nevertheless, I've seen otherwise level headed people expressing this division of opinion. Hope it's just primaries fever...

Tim H. said...

FWIW, I like Bernie, but whatever passes in a hypothetical Sanders administration will be more moderate after Congress has their way with it, why repeat Obama's mistake of opening with a compromise position and going downhill from there?
Catfish, I hope the child was well assembled and gives you more amazement than dismay.

David Brin said...

Chris Matthews went nuts sure and he’s clearly senile. But he did NOT say what you claim he says. Again I repeat: he did NOT say what you claim he says. I have no idea who Chris Ladd is.

But even if it were all true, how does this amount to a “DNC plot”? Whining about tough politics is thin skinned nonsense. Snowflake stuff. Grow some. Bernie needs to be ready for it all.

TCB said...

In the case of Matthews' comments re: the fall of France, he really is getting dragged about ten miles out of context. But I've seen the same thing and worse happen to decent people like Howard Dean (The Scream), Al Gore (The Invention of the Internet), Barack Obama (You Can Keep Your Health Plan), Hillary Clinton (Vast Right Wing Conspiracy), Walter Mondale (Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did.) and so on. We can control our words only as far as our lips. After that, people will use them how they will.

And oh would you look at this 2007 Vanity Fair article on Al Gore!

"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative"—politico-speak for leadership—"in creating the Internet," he said, before going on to describe other accomplishments. It was true. In the 1970s, the Internet was a limited tool used by the Pentagon and universities for research. As a senator in the 80s, Gore sponsored two bills that turned this government program into an "information superhighway," a term Gore popularized, and made it accessible to all. Vinton Cerf, often called the father of the Internet, has claimed that the Internet would not be where it was without Gore's leadership on the issue. Even former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich has said that "Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet."


"The press didn't object to Gore's statement until Texas Republican congressman Dick Armey led the charge, saying, "If the vice president created the Internet, then I created the interstate highway system." Republican congressman James Sensenbrenner released a statement with the headline, delusions of grandeur: vice president gore takes credit for creating the internet. CNN's Lou Dobbs was soon calling Gore's remark "a case study … in delusions of grandeur." A few days later the word "invented" entered the narrative. On March 15, a USA Today headline about Gore read, inventing the internet; March 16 on Hardball, Chris Matthews derided Gore for his claim that he "invented the Internet." Soon the distorted assertion was in the pages of the Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe, and on the A.P. wire service. By early June, the word "invented" was actually being put in quotation marks, as though that were Gore's word of choice."

We might live in a different and much better world if people like Chris Matthews could have behaved just 10% better, even just for the 2000 election...

Thasss right, Matthews got hoist on one of the same verbal petards he (and others) used against Al Gore. A determined researcher could probably unearth similar unfair swipes from Matthews against a bevy of other people. I think we can let Matthews stand as just one example among many biased media personalities who got away with it for years. What's changed is not the media bias but the ferocity of the counterattack.

Tacitus said...

Matthews has evidently been superficially reading Churchill (had he read Alistair Horne's excellent To Lose a Battle, he could hardly have screwed this up.

Reynaud was not a general but the French Premier.

An example of the unthinkable happening, the revelation that the French had been entirely fooled and had committed their precious reserves in the wrong place is a poor metaphor for US political maneuvering.


Zepp Jamieson said...

Matthews compared Bernie winning Nevada to the Nazi invasion of France. It's not a direct quote, nor was it portrayed as such. But it captures the intent of what he had to say. Otherwise, we agree on Matthews. He should have been put out to pasture twenty years ago.
No "DNC plot"--that implies they are being clandestine. No, the attacks are out in open, and will bite them on the ass in due course.

David Brin said...

In fact, Al Gore does deserve a lot of credit for “inventing the Internet” as we came to use it. His was the bill that made it a world resource like air, instead of a US owned device.

Good point about Chris Matthews. Interesting. Never did like him.

“Matthews compared Bernie winning Nevada to the Nazi invasion of France.”

No, he did not. You really need to take such impulsive garbage elsewhere, not here where it gets caught. Seriously. I don’t like CM, but what you are saying is simply untrue. It is not true. AND it is not true.

“No "DNC plot"--that implies they are being clandestine. No, the attacks are out in open, and will bite them on the ass in due course.’

JESUS! Will you read what you write and actually ponder it? “The attacks” … um… by the DNC? By some mystical illuminati? Or by individual opinionated persons in an era of opinionated persons? If your LIFE depended on it, you could not frame a yarn-chart for even a Glen Beck level of conspiracy theory. And you don’t even try 1% as hard as Beck did.

Zepp Jamieson said...


I have two dozen other links if you need them.

David Brin said...

Seriously? you think a HEADLINE is an accurate portrayal of a statement you could listen to, for yourself? It's the "it's over" part he was referring to. Criminey, I don't know where to beging talking to you about logic. Someone else can try. You truly are beyond any effort to get you to think, sir.

Tony Fisk said...

Something to bear in mind, Zepp: the headline (lede) is *not* written by the author, and may twist the main point of an article into something quite different.
It's easy to forget when skimming. This is how editors sway opinion.

gregory byshenk said...

David, whether or not that is exactly what Matthews said (and I don't know, I don't really watch US television), it is plain that it has been very widely read that way. A quick search turns up a long list of references to just that interpretation.

Larry Hart said...


I've seen the same thing and worse happen to decent people like ... Hillary Clinton (Vast Right Wing Conspiracy), ...

"Basket of deplorables". Don't forget my favorite.

Tacitus said...

Indeed, I have to stick up for Matthews here. He was being superficial and likely has a poor grasp of history. But this was a non Godwin moment.

France 1940 is a fascinating little slice of history. It went badly for the Allies. It could have gone further in either direction either effectively ending the war - had there been more German resolve at the gates of Dunkirk, or shortened it in the other direction...a stalemate or German defeat would have kept it from spreading east and would have meant that most of the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, the Pacific War would not have happened.

The specific exchanges between Reynaud and Churchill came in several phone conversations and later a personal visit by Winston to Paris. The basics are:

Churchill had only formed a government a few days before the German invasion of France. When Reynaud called him up to say the battle was lost, Churchill could not figure out what the heck he was talking about....having been outside the corridors of power until a few days prior.

The French had a long history of internal divisions and had relied too much on the Maginot Line. They they threw their entire mobile reserve off into the wrong direction....up into Belgium.

I guess the political parallel would be a new chair of the DNC taking over a week before Super Tuesday...looking at a bickering and dysfunctional organization that was banking entirely on supposed "firewalls" and had just spent every dime they had on an expensive and wrong media campaign.


Larry Hart said...

Having read the Slate article Zepp links to above...

Dr Brin is correct that his analogy was to the unbelievability of how quickly things reached "It's over" rather than any insinuation that Bernie's victory was akin to being overrun by Nazi soldiers.

Zepp is correct in his concern that the specifics of what Chris Matthews did or didn't say probably won't matter any more than it mattered that Al Gore never claimed to have invented the internet, or that Hillary never claimed that all (or even most) Trump supporters were deplorable. The way these things enter the collective consciousness matters more.

Whether the nominee is Bernie or whether a brokered convention selects someone else like Bloomberg or Biden, if we go into November with Bernie supporters and other Democrats at war with each other, we will end up with four more years of Trump.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Well, Doctor, you didn't have to stop at just the headline, you know. There is text under that.

Alfred Differ said...


You’re reading more into it than is there. Reminds me of HRC’s deplorable comment that people read too broadly.

Lots of Democrats don’t see Sanders as a Democrat. They see him as a former ally (mostly) who chose to invade. Kinda like Ron Paul did to the GOP... and then Two Scoops.

I don’t. Sanders is obviously a Democrat but has quirky Vermont politics to face. The world won’t end if he is elected. What will happen is y’all are in for a whopping big disappointment when the center of the party won’t let him legislate as he is promising. The risk is in y’all being pissed enough to stay home in 2022. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The invader metaphor is something y’all should take very seriously. He is disliked strongly by many. Are you sure you want to take the risk?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Tony: That's entirely true, and I'm sorry to say some of the worst offenders are on my side of the fence. Headlines, often as not, are clickbait or confirmation bias.

David Brin said...

As I have said repeatedly. The winning Dem... if she/he beats Trump... will have vast power, but NOT over the final outcome of legislation. For that, she-he will need to be a good chair of endless committees.

It will be a team effort to win and a team effort to legislates reforms, as we did in 2009 and did NOT succeed at, in 93.

And it will be a team that staves off the collapse of Turnout by lazy-preening lefties as happened in 94 and 2010.

Hence what I care about foremost is the team. And splitters are a goddamn plague upon us, with their fucked "DNC" paranoid ravings and screeching like snowflakes when ONE pundit or two mutters something.

Do I think it's dangerous to elect a person who is POLICY only and has less of the other traits I think a president needs? Yes. But not as dangerous as allowing the oligarchic putsch to continue. So if it's Bernie, then he's my man.

But the left is doing this all wrong and I fear Barcelona.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

What will happen is y’all are in for a whopping big disappointment when the center of the party won’t let him legislate as he is promising. The risk is in y’all being pissed enough to stay home in 2022. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Very good point which I hadn't thought of. I've been assuring people that a Sanders presidency doesn't mean we suddenly have Medicare for All and free college--any of that would have to be legislated. I hadn't considered that the slow pace of progress might (again) depress progressive turnout.

Maybe I should say "Vote Blue No Matter Who in 2022!" It even rhymes, which was unintentional, but still.

My big concern is that Trump and Russia seem to be salivating over his candidacy. I don't think Trump is smart enough or self-disciplined enough to be pulling off a "Don't throw me in the briar patch" strategy. But I do accept as a possibility that they may be salivating at a Sanders candidacy the way some of us salivated at a Trump candidacy, figuring that he couldn't win and then having to go "D'oh!" on election night. I dream that they'll end up wishing they had lost to Biden or Bloomberg after they in fact lose to Bernie.

Larry Hart said...

Two additional opinions on Bernie, both sympathetic but from opposite perspectives:

Faced with the potential of either large gains or historic losses, progressives would be wise to stop believing only what they want to believe. Don’t cherry-pick polls to claim that most Americans actually favor a ban on private insurance. Don’t imagine that millions of heretofore silent progressive supporters will materialize on Election Day. In the 2018 midterms, Sanders-style candidates lost swing districts, while candidates demonstrating respect to swing voters won again and again.

Beating Trump in November will be even harder. And uncomfortable compromises will make it more likely.

Stop saying that Bernie Sanders can’t win.

Stop saying that he can’t defeat President Trump. That is by now a given. In fact, in head-to-head national polls, Sanders consistently outperforms Trump.

Sanders is, for the moment, the clear front-runner to win the Democratic nomination. And he has a national infrastructure and a committed band of supporters and donors that make it clear that he could go the distance.

Furthermore, Sanders’s impressive win in Nevada proves that he can attract a broad range of support, at least in one part of the country. This in particular is an significant feat. When Sanders ran four years ago, the breadth of his appeal was indeed an issue, which was an issue similar to the one Pete Buttigieg faces during this election. Since then, Sanders has recognized that shortcoming, and has worked hard to address it.

Larry Hart said...

I continue to agree with myself...

It is also worth mentioning that no other democracy has government-run primary elections like those in the U.S. and they function just fine. In most of them, the party leaders pick the candidates. If they pick candidates nobody likes, they lose the election. This gives them an incentive to pick winners. In a few countries, the parties have what might be seen as big caucuses of (dues-paying) members to select the candidates, but that is quite rare. The idea that party leaders shouldn't have any voice at all in who the party's candidates are would be seen as very anti-democratic in much of the world. If you told a European that Republicans were allowed to help choose the Democratic candidate in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and another dozen states, they would see that as undemocratic in the extreme. ...

locumranch said...

The how, why & wherefore of the Left "doing this all wrong" has many sources:

1. It springs from the Left's willingness to credit paradoxical lies in regard to Russian favouritism & Oligarchy-- as in the case of Trump or Gabbard -- but not so much in the case of Sanders & Bloomberg;

2. It springs from Left's apologist hypocrisies in regard to Chavez & Castro's socialist tyrannies -- because literacy & income inequality -- but not so much in the case of national socialism; and

3. It springs from the Left's eagerness to scapegoat the entire voting majority by race, gender & second amendment rights as unrepentant 'supremacists', 'racists' and 'deplorables' in order to facilitate the Left's own 'anti-racist', 'equalist' & 'inclusivity' hypocrisies.

Simply put, the Left has over-played its hand, leading to tragicomic role reversal, in that genuine EQUALITY in the form of deficit spending, immigration enforcement, federalism, gender & race is coming for the Left good & hard.


Zepp Jamieson said...

I think -former- ally is a bit of an overstatement, especially since his voting record is much closer to the party line than most southern Democrats.
I don't think Sanders will get a large portion of his platform into effect, at least not during the first two years. Even if he has a large majority in the House, the best he can hope for in the Senate is 52 or 53 seats, hopefully with McConnell gone. So as long as he is making an honest effort, I won't be "massively disappointed".
What it will do is serve notice to the GOP and the right that the Democratic Party finally have their backs up, and they are prepared to fight.

David Brin said...

locum is telling flat-out lies that would not survive wagers adjudicated by panels that include august and fact-professional conservatives.

Zep, you give up too easily. If Dems put forward a "Contract With America" consiting of the 31 items that ALL of them want (see
) they could pass most of it, especially if the FBI is liberated to "out" pols who are blatantly being blackmailed.

The fact that NOT ONE of the dem candidates can see the value of crafting such a statement of shared goals is proof that we have NO alphas among them.

A.F. Rey said...

Congratulation, Cod!

And good luck getting sleep in the next 6 months or so. Those little buggers suck up your sleep like milk. :)

jim said...

Vote for the greater good
rather than the lesser evil

sociotard said...

In the interest of CITOKATE, a bit on YouTube arguing against surveillance, presented in the form of machine learning itself. (As if a machine were backing up and trying different strategies to see what gave the optimum result)

scidata said...

I don't understand all the angst. Just scoop a truckload of that sweet Bloomberg cash, and flood TV till Nov with clips of the Cheeto saying nice things about Bernie (dozens of clips 2016-present). The GOP's $1B fear campaign will be neutered. Shambling zombies left muttering, "but...but... What is it that our fearless leader wants??"

Larry Hart said...


Shambling zombies left muttering, "but...but... What is it that our fearless leader wants??"

He'll tell them for a small contribution to his campaign. :)

Seriously, I wonder how the message is received by Trump's base when he goes on and on about sympathy with Bernie. Do they wink-nod understand that he wants to run against Bernie because he thinks Bernie will lose? Or do they think he likes Bernie enough to actually vote for Bernie, mistakenly believing that they're doing Trump's bidding?

Andy said...

Just so everyone can see the actual quote:

"CHRIS MATTHEWS: I was reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940, and the general, Renault, calls up Churchill and says, 'It’s over.’ And Churchill says ‘How can it be? You’ve got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?’ He said, ‘It’s over.' So I had that suppressed feeling, I can’t be as wild as [James] Carville, but he is damn smart, but I think he’s right on this one."

So the comparison to the Nazi invasion of France is technically correct. But the comparison seems to be about the shocking suddenness of the fait acompli, and not anything in particular to do with Nazis. Quite an exaggeration of the thrust of his comment. Matthews could have picked a different analogy I suppose, but since that was fresh in his memory that's where he went.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Guys

I'm a furriner so I don't have a dog in this race but my "dream" is that the two old buggers in the Democratic race (Bernie and Biden) are just racing to distract the GOP and draw fire and will both withdraw as being too old to allow one of the others (Warren) to take the nomination and the Presidency

I also hope that the Dems end up with more than 50 Senators and start the new session by eliminating the filibuster
The filibuster is only useful to the party of "NO" and the GOP will eliminate it in a heartbeat if it gets in their way

And Dr Brin's 31 item "Contract with America" is a superb idea

Zepp Jamieson said...

Andy, there wasn't anything sudden about Sanders winning Nevada; that had been in the cards since Iowa. The amount he won by surprised people, myself included, but Matthews had already made his comparison before that. I will say that I don't believe Matthews thinks Sanders is a Nazi; he just made a really badly-thought-out analogy, especially for a Jewish candidate.
Now for this weeks blitzkreig: there is a possibility Sanders might win SC. He's closed to within five points, and between an increase in support amongst African-American voters and Biden's dwindling cachet, he has a shot. If we must have Nazi analogies, perhaps we should start calling Bernie Bros the "leftwaffe".

TCB said...

@ Andy, you're quite correct... but this all feels to me like the FBI busting Al Capone for tax evasion... or Montresor avenging Fortunato's latest insult. The Sanders contingent will have Matthews' scalp if they can, if not for this particular wrong, then for those seemingly forgotten. And: pour encourager les autres. The far right, unreasonable and obstreperous on so many occasions, profited. The referees relented. In time, the referees became far right puppets. So fuckin' be it. The left will work the refs too. That's what you see now.

P.S. France 1940 is damn interesting. On paper the French army was much more powerful than the Wehrmacht. But it had some real organizational deficiencies, and some bad luck... and they could easily have gone in and clobbered Hitler three or four years earlier, but nobody had the will for that...

David Brin said...

Duncan you summed up my own wish, as well. I wish you did have a dog in this. In fact, I wish the people of the planet all had a 1/10th vote for US president, since their lives are all affected by the American Pax and what's good for us ought to be good for the world.

Damn straight I had fantacized Biden was "drawing fire." Bernie's gone a bit messianic and I wish he'd read and maybe recite my "31" list. Either of them would have to go in assuming he'd be a one termer.

You might recall I hoped for Biden-Warren with him getting out of the way at year 3... giving her 9.

She's still my favorite since she tries to reassure the rich she's not after their lives or their status as rich people... she just wants to take away ALL their power.

locumranch said...

Just scoop a truckload of that sweet Bloomberg cash, and flood TV till Nov with clips of the Cheeto saying nice things about Bernie (dozens of clips 2016-present).

An excellent suggestion!

Endless clips of Trump (and/or Putin) praising the DNC presidential opposition will most likely delegitimise the entire US Democrat Party, if not the entire US Electoral Process, as only the most despicably self-loathing progressive would support a politician or political process endorsed by the Devil Incarnate.


Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor: I would love to see all the significant Democratic candidates sign on to your '31' list. I think Bernie would, and almost certainly Elizabeth Warren. Tom Steyer would, although I'm not entire sure how much I trust him. Biden would go for most, Klobacher somewhat fewer. Bloomberg would have trouble reaching 16. Yes, Democrats look fairly uniform placed next to the madness of Trump, but aren't so on closer inspection, although any would be an improvement.

David Brin said...

If cornered, Klobuchar and Bloomberg would sign on, while tilting implementation of half a dozen items toward the low side.

But the deal is someone has to do the cornering! And anyone who did that would rise in the polls.

TCB said...

Been thinking... if I had a time machine, maybe I wouldn't try to take out Hitler... maybe I'd go after John Wilkes Booth. Who knows, that might prevent Hitler too.

Zepp Jamieson said...

..while declaring the 31 tenets to be an ideological litmus purity test. It's isn't, I know, but they'll be trying to reassure the right they're only signing on because they have to.
Rachel Maddow reports tonight that a Democratic superpac, Priorities USA, will spend $150 million prior to the convention promoting Democratic values and attacking Trump. To his credit, Tom Steyer has been doing this for about three years, spending tens of millions. And Bloomberg has pledged to maintain spending for the Democrats, no matter who the nominee is.
Bloomberg and Steyer have outspent the rest of the Democratic field combined by an 8-1 margin, which is ridiculous. But unless and until Citizens United is overthrown, those are the rules of the game. It does a great job of representing the 0.1%, and to a lesser degree the parties, but it sure as hell doesn't speak for us.

David Brin said...

TCB we just saw ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. And woof, what an over-rated case of Hollywood celebrating itself... tediously for hours. And a wish fantasy like INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, but at least that historical counter-factual wish-dream was about making a difference for millions and had some tasty irony. This thing? Heck I like Brad Pitt. But the Oscar is supposed to be for difficult acting.

In contrast, I think the young star of JO JO RABBIT is one of those child actors who will likely be kept busy as an adult. A small, silly and sweet and enjoyable film.

None of them compare to 1917 which is a film of epic significance and very worthwhile.

TCB said...

Honest Trailers: Every Quentin Tarantino Movie

Hilarious, especially the song...

Zepp Jamieson said...

1917 is undoubtedly one of the best war movies I've ever seen. But I have to say Parasite deserved best picture just because of how wonderfully engaging the characters were, and the dark humour shot through. Haven't seen JJR yet; I'll add it to my list.
Just finished Nick Cave's "The Death of Bunny Monroe." Man, that is one disturbing book! Brilliant. The writing is astonishingly good.

Larry Hart said...

Just sayin' (emphasis mine) :

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials had briefed Bernie Sanders that Russia was trying to boost his fortunes in the Democratic primary fight, as it did in 2016. It’s not hard to imagine Vladimir Putin’s motives.

Russia aims to cause chaos and division in liberal democracies, and so has often supported both far-right and far-left figures; there’s a reason the state-run Russian propaganda network RT hosted the American Green Party’s 2016 presidential debate.

Further, Russia’s investment in Donald Trump has paid off handsomely, and the country’s leaders evidently believe, just as many American pundits do, that Sanders would be Trump’s weakest opponent. “If Sanders wins the Democratic nomination, then Trump wins the White House,” a former adviser to ex-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev told GQ’s Julia Ioffe.

But Russia doesn’t have any special insight into how American elections are going to play out, and right now, some polls show Sanders winning both the primary and the general. Like a lot of nervous liberals, I worry that these numbers won’t hold up. But if they do and Sanders becomes president, Putin may live to regret what his country did to build support for him.

Larry Hart said...

same article about Russian support for Bernie:

The Trump administration is even pretending, outrageously, that Russia prefers Sanders to the president. In a demagogic appearance on ABC News this weekend, Trump’s national security adviser claimed that Russia had an interest in seeing Sanders prevail in 2020: “Well, there are these reports that they want Bernie Sanders to get elected president. That’s no surprise. He honeymooned in Moscow.”

Let's see, Trump has convinced his base that they like Russia and that they should support Sanders (in the Democratic primaries). He might just confuse them enough that they end up supporting Sanders in November, believing that Trump has told them to do so.

jim said...

So Putin and the Russians are trying to make sure that all Americans get health care
But Netanyahu and the Israelis are trying to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Who is the ally and who is the enemy of the American people?

And just a friendly reminder that it is legal for Americans can boycott, sanction and disinvest Russia but not Israel.

David Smelser said...

This is a rather clever way to neutralizing any reports of Russian interference in the 2020 election. First get reports of Russians helping the democratic candidate, then when reports of Russia helping Trump, the media will just report "each candidate claims that the other is getting help from the Russians" and then shrug (because fair reporting means reporting all sides instead of searching for the Truth).

If Trump wins, he can victory despite foreign intervention. And if he loses, then he'll find someone GOP to come forward making claims about some inconsistency with one voting machine somewhere and Trump will use this as a way of legally challenging the results of the election. So the election will end up in the courts and we'll have a repeat of the 2000 debacle.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: re: movies:
“À chacun son gout.” Speaking of which…
Do you know of It’s an algorithm which helps rate movies based on your previous ratings, and the more preferences you put in the better it gets- it does a good job based on the 1,333 movies I’ve put in; rarely off more than half a star.
(I wish there were a TV Lens, too.)

Also, I like to use to see reviews of movies, tv, music….
(For music, I use it to find new releases of people I like, with less regard to their reviews- there is a strong bias toward high-reviews in music here…)
Other folks prefer
(Besides the various merchants like Amazon, I don’t know of something like these for books:
Good Reads seems to be based on popular perception, and I’m looking for a critical consensus…)

re: the 31 Quic Reform Points:
Have you had an opportunity to send the 31 Points to Democratic candidates, either directly or through your local Democratic “person of influence”? If so, what have they (or their staff members) said? Was it anything more than the standard “thank you” acknowledgement?


Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

Four years ago I was like you then the three + grandkids came all at once. I wasn’t too surprised because I knew that my two girls choose husbands who wanted kids too but I was nevertheless getting worried. My older daughter is thinking of having a third one. My kids and their husbands have confidence in the future and I am very glad of that.

David Brin said...

Am I missing something? HOW are ANY of the reports about Russians helping Bernie interpreting that as meaning they really support him becoming president? Instead of the obvious... that they veiw him as their best chance to keep Trump?

How is it that almost ALL of the reports (and jim's naive rant above) take the first interpretation, when it blatantly should be NONE?

Mind you, I do believe Bernie could beat Trump. But One can see Putin's view and that of the oligarchs who deem Bernie scary. Scary enough to turn millions to Trump.

jim said...

The Russians are coming in on the side of all Americans getting medical care by supporting Sanders.

The Israelis are against all Americans having good health care by opposing Sanders.

The Israelis are interfering with the election in order to reelect Trump (they love Trump for hating Palestinians ).

Plenty of ordinary Americans are noticing that Israel is bad actor in our politics. (not to mention it is a right wing, violent place ruled by the deeply corrupt Netanyahu. )

Zepp Jamieson said...

If Sanders wins the nomination, we'll have to take the redbaiting and general "socialist" fear-mongering head-on.
I took one approach this morning: Bernie isn't the revolution. He's the counter revolution. If you're interested, it's here: Come the Revolution: Socialists against Communism.

David Brin said...

Get bent, jim. Name ONE of Israel's adversaries with a better human rights record or that gives its abused minorities votes.

Name one people surrounded by enemies 40:1 who have vowed death to all Jews who would not get driven somewhat paranoid by that.

Do I differ with many policies and despise Netanyaho? Sure. And reflex hate from western lefties has helped entrench his power.

I'll not get dragged into a debate over whether equal blame should go to the Saudis... who prevented Palestinians from leaving the camps and resettling for 70 years, in order to keep the problem festering. But your ignorance of that fact... or almost any facts whatsoever... is what makes it ever increasingly futile talking to you.


If Bernie OR Liz has good advice, they could calibrate these issues and rebuild the ROosevelt coalition. One can wish.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Mind you, I do believe Bernie could beat Trump. But One can see Putin's view and that of the oligarchs who deem Bernie scary. Scary enough to turn millions to Trump.

I share your confusion, or maybe it's just my own.

In 2016, after Hillary "lost" to Trump, it was almost accepted wisdom that had Bernie been allowed to be the nominee instead, he would have easily won those Trump voters in the midwest. The DNC took the blame for Hillary being the nominee instead of Bernie.

As recently as a few months back, Bernie was claiming to be the only Democratic nominee who can beat Trump in November. Some people on this list echoed that claim.

Now, we're hearing that Trump and Putin want to run against Bernie, even though polling continues to show Bernie beating Trump (though national numbers don't matter, as Hillary won the national vote too). I don't know who to root for.

David Brin said...



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