Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Fascism - and resurgent Marxism - and other simplistic perils we thought dead

== Ecos of fascism past ==

It is well to look back a few years to the brilliant Umberto Eco’s list of 14 Traits of Fascism, of which the Nazis were just one sub type. It truly is a fascinating (and chilling) list, as Eco avoids the temptation of prescriptive jargon, distilling fascism to common traits we see so very often in authoritarian movements. 

What Eco does not do is show how these are mostly traits not just of fascism but most earlier feudal regimes, going back at least 4000 years, which ruined hope and progress and freedom in perhaps 99% of known agricultural or industrial societies.  A question to ask those who fixate on only bureaucrats and socialists as potential enemies of freedom: how often did that happen, as opposed to freedom suppression by kings, lords, priests and inheritance brats?

The overwhelming prevalence of nasty-stupid feudalism may have galactic implications! A trait that common among humans might also be obligatory in other races, across the stars, helping to explain the “Fermi Paradox” or quandary over the apparent absence of interstellar civilizations. It's a trap that all-too few escape.

==Karl's ghost rises ==

But getting back to Umberto Eco's list, is another question. How do Marxist authoritarian states differ from fascist ones? It seems to me that Marxists - or Leninists, actually - break from the list in traits #1 & 2, while modifying #6  & 10 & 12 in order to mask them with egalitarian/proletarian gloss.

A key point I keep hammering. It seemed for a while as if the works of Karl Marx had been devastatingly refuted by the society that Franklin, Lincoln and the FDR generation built, which broke almost every "ordained" pattern that old Karl thought inevitable -- making a flattened "capitalism" that followed Adam Smith's egalitarian prescription instead, seeking to include ever more groups in flat-fair-creative competitive productivity.

 A few residual red-believers grumbled: "Just you wait. The aristocrats and cheaters will be back to re-establish the worst version of capitalism. A version of feudalism that finally drives oppressed serfs to revolution!" Like many, I shrugged off those cultists...

...only now Marxist works are flying off the shelves, all over the world, and Karl's raving followers rant on every campus and in sweatshops and unemployment lines. Moreover, this resurrection of an undead cult wasn't caused by moderate liberal reformers, or those FDR-loving members of the Greatest Generation, or even Bernie-style Scandinavia socialists. 

The blame is fully at the feet of those would-be lords backing Fox. You did this. You raised the dead. And those zombies will get you.

== Ayn Rand may offer a torpedo to sink GOP fascism ==

Now and then I propose something most of you reflexively reject - reaching out to libertarians. Offering them Adam Smith and liberally-accentuated flat-fair-creative Competition instead of cultish worship of Property. ("C" word, not "P"!) The Koch/Forbes cabal spent billions to suborn this movement, an achilles hell, should libertarians ever wake from the trance. 

So far - yes - it's glacially slow, pointing out that liberals want bedroom freedom, body sovereignty, church separation, are fiscally far more prudent and it's blue states who spur entrepreneurship and are ending the damned War on Drugs. But this new item could actually do it! 

MAGA War on Architectural Diversity to bring back Classical Architecture.

Seriously, nothing you do will cause a randian to rock back and take notice more than rubbing that in their face! In Ayn Rand's best (or least-bad) book, art critic Ellsworth Monkton Toohey oppresses architectural genius Howard Roark with demands for classical columns and conformity to ornate, conservative style. So use this! Nothing could make more clear to that branch of libertarians that yes, it is the Republicans who are the cheaters, looters and repressers of modernity (and science and every other fact-using profession) in favor of a return to feudal-inherited oligarchic traditionalism.

Know one? Hammer this!

== An important dilemma to consider… but beware the sub-text! ==

Robert Zubrin, best known for his advocacy of Mars colonization, is unabashedly forward on many cutting edge issues, often combining incisive insight about the future with a somewhat-mad, rightwing moralizing that seems quaintly decent and naive, in the age of Putin, Fox, MBS and Trump. Take his most recent article in The National Review - The Real Robot Threat - a call for an international treaty against autonomous lethal weaponry - machinery that can be unleashed to target living people without the supervision and control of a human operator.

And yes, human operators do make a big difference. The drone strikes that saw an upsurge during the Obama years were all closely monitored and even from thousands of miles away, Air Force and CIA operators in Nevada frequently called off hits at the very last moment, when they suspected likely civilian casualties (sometimes violating direct orders.) Their rates of cancelation and refusal were far higher than by pilots of fighter-bombers on the scene! Suggesting that the video game generation has not been ‘dehumanized.’ (See the fascinating Mexican sci fi flick “Sleep Dealer.”)

You’ll get none of that conscientious oversight in basic, unleashed auto-targeted systems. So yes, I approve of Rob raising the issue! Though there are many points to quibble in this piece.

First, there’s the Cryptic Elite Effect. Such laws and treaties will be violated by the very ones who are most dangerous with the technology, such as criminal or despotic elites who will only respond to such a treaty by pursuing them in secret. Such controls can only be useful if we first get what I have for 30 years called the PRE-REQUISITE for all goody-goody legislation — widespread and worldwide transparency. And in such a world, the need for such laws would vanish organically, anyway.

Second, alas, Rob’s fetishistic tunnel vision glares throughout the article, for example: “Bureaucracy is necessary for tyranny because it suppresses conscience. The bureaucrat is required not to think or feel. He or she is to be part of a machine. The purpose of bureaucracy is to turn people into automatons.”

Oh what stunning drivel! Oh, sure, bureaucracy can be the tool of whatever society wields it.  And yes, as Orwell, Kafka, Vonnegut and Arendt pointed out, bureaucrats can be great enablers of hierarchical oppression. (I was Distinguished Scholar at Bard College’s Hannah Arendt Center and my father knew her at the Eichmann Trial.) But Zubrin’s obsession is a way of blaming the tool and letting the hierarchs off the hook.

For 6000 years, those oppressive hierarchs weren’t “bureaucrats” or socialists, but kings, feudal lords and theocrats, fiercely enforcing wealth inheritance for their sons, maintaining 60 centuries of grueling darkness and error and misrule and suppression. The very kind of oligarchic rule that the world’s entire mad right is trying to re-impose upon us, as we speak. Even Leninist and fascist regimes fit that pattern - pyramids of top-down power - perfectly, with only cosmetic changes in symbolism and state cult-religion. 

And such oligarchies have hated one enemy above all -- Periclean Enlightenments, brief eras of flat-open, egalitarian, transparent and fact-driven opportunity, with policies that encourage fair-competition and social mobility and opportunity for all. And yes, as Adam Smith pointed out, these vastly-creative renaissances require bureaucrats to counter-balance the power of lords and the wealthy and other elites.

And yes, that is why the mad right has declared war against today’s largely loyal, intelligent and conscientious civil servants… slandering them as some purported "deep state"... and against all other fact-using professions.

So yes, go read Rob’s missive. It’s thought provoking, so let thoughts be provoked! Only then think beyond, to why it is that a few of our brightest get lured into ancient incantations and magic spells that wind up thwarting the very kind of society they want to defend.

== Who are the crazies at the top? ==

We've all watched the bizarro theater of acting Navy Secretary Modley firing Captain Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt for trying desperately to save the lives of his sailors. Ironically, Theodore Roosevelt himself did something very similar, in order to get his own men away from Yellow Fever infested swamps where the McKinley Administration cynically kept them, for political reasons. Above all, look up the story of Ernest King, who refused stupid orders to endanger his men, aboard USS Lexington in the 1930s. His career seemed doomed. And 8 years later he led the US Navy wearing five stars during WWII.

Consider this: “Billions of dollars allocated for the critical acquisition of additional ships and aircraft vital for Navy and Marne Corps warfighting capability diverted by SecDef Esper for border wall construction. This action undermines our national security and military readiness for political purposes.”

Look at all actions by these idiocrats. Find me one that goes against the itnerests of Vladimir Putin.

== Political miscellany… some of it even funny! ==

Biggest lie? "Drain the Swamp" is near the top. Robert Reich's video lays it out so vividly - make your MAGAs watch!

Trump's new lawyer reportedly steered more than $60 million from his nonprofit to family members.”

HilariousThe Greta Thunberg Helpline: For adults angry at a child.


TCB said...

Ooooooooooohhhh FRESH POST.

I shall take this chance to reiterate my rant that, more relevant than the right versus left spectrum or the libertarian versus bureaucratic spectrum is the open versus closed spectrum.

That's the one that really separates the dictators/fascists/theocrats/communists/corporatists/oligarchists/monarchists/feudalists/etc. from the free thinking people. That's the idea that explains how a place like the People's Republic of China can go from Communist to State Capitalist/fascist with hardly a burp. And it poses a terrible indictment of US policy in the decades since World War Two.

We can all tell the diff between an open society and a closed one: do you have freedom of speech? assembly? association? travel? And yet: you can have all those things on paper, but somehow only billionaires can really access them without fetter. That's how an oligarchy works...

US foreign policy since World War Two has been, to a degree we don't really face, been a policy of right-wing US politicians on the phone with Wall Street backers, coordinating with the CIA... to smash 'left' governments even if they were democratically elected and supported... to replace them with right-authoritarian governments, aka fascists in all but name. This has happened with dreary regularity, most recently in Bolivia in response to 'irregularities' in the recent election of Evo Morales. Truth time: Morales ran a MUCH cleaner election than Brian Kemp did in Georgia in 2018. But Morales (the first-ever indigenous president) had to be run out of the country based on accusations of fraud by the anti-communist and Washington-based Organization of American States? And replaced by a Christian/fascist government? (Note: This is a split in the local politics that goes all the way back to the conquistadors). But Kemp is legitimate? Riiiight.

Anyway, I tend to meander long before I hit any word-count limit, but here are some of the points I'm trying to hit:

1. Owing to the way US foreign policy has been constructed over more than a century, whenever business interests collide with actual real-people open-society needs and interests, business interests win (unless there's an existential war at stake). After WWII, the CIA nee OSS recruited businessmen as agents, since they already had built-in excuses to travel and meet contacts and learn multiple languages. If the CIA were not already pro-business, it would become that way.

2. What's good for a company that imports bananas to the US from Guatemala is not what's automatically good for the small farmer growing those same bananas. Guess which one can send a lobbyist to Washington.

3. BUT. Despite nearly a century of inculcation, in your head and mine too, democracy is a political system and capitalism is an economic system and THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. Capitalism is perfectly happy in a closed society; a slave or a serf is cheaper, hence more profitable to a stock holder, than a free worker with full rights in an open society.

4. A really open society would look more like socialism (or like a Mixed Economy) than like an unregulated capitalist casino/robber baron society.

5. A really open society would not look like an authoritarian/communist society because, like uncontrolled capitalism, that would also be a society where too much power collected in too few hands.

6. The conundrum here is, How do you have a really open society and yet still coordinate collective action when it's really needed? Ideologues of all stripes tend to founder on this; they chase after The Answer. But the answer will always be dynamic, in flux, and therefore can't be permanently codified. Look to biology...

DP said...

Somewhat off topic this is a great video on offer purges with a primary focus on Stalin's purge of the red army officer corps with comparisons to American officer purges at the same time by Gen Marshall, a de facto purge of old officers in Germany as a result of the limited size of the post-Versailles treaty German army.

In all cases, the result was much needed removal of old fogies and deadwood that would never understand modern mechanized warfare.

People forget that Marshal ruthlessly destroyed hundreds of officers' careers in the 30s and 40s, putting old generals and admirals out to pasture to make way for bright young officers like Ike, Patton, Nimitz, Bradley, Arnold, etc.

Stalin did things more brutally (but with less actual bloodshed then most people think). Historians usually condemn this purge as having eliminated an experienced officer corps and leaving incompetent lackeys to command the Red Army during the opening stages of Barbarossa. But the "experience" these old officers had was in cavalry tactics and trench warfare. The new officers eagerly made a science of mechanized warfare, developing armored warfare theories at least as good as the Germans.

What really crippled the Soviet command structure was the commissar system where party hacks could countermand the orders of professional soldiers. It was only after the power of the commissars was greatly reduced that the Red Army begin to function properly.

And the small Wiemar army imposed by the Versailles treaty had already eliminated the old deadwood from the German officer corps before Hitler began to re-arm. Ironically, the Allies of WW1 made possible the rise of Rommel, von Manstein, Guderian, Donetz, Milch, etc.

The one nation that had no purge of old officers - France - with obvious results.

TCB said...

@ Daniel Duffy, that reminds me of Mathias Rust, who flew a small plane from Finland and landed it in Red Square in 1987. Huge huge embarrassment to the Soviet air defense command. Rust reported that when he was detained, instead of torturing him or mistreating him, they brought him ice cream. Why? Because he'd given Mikhail Gorbachev a perfect excuse to fire a lot of obstructive old hard liners in the military establishment.

David Brin said...

TCB, alas, although you are right that the American Pax did many bad things, your historical myopia is stunning. Please point to a nation that had vast, imperial power, across the last 4000 years, that did not do those things? ONE that behaved ON AVERAGE better than America. Proof of my assertion is how incredibly well-liked (or at least not-hated) this ‘empire’ was till Trump, and still is, essentially.

Do empires meddle in peripheral states? Absolutely, especially when faced with what they view as an existential threat… in our case aggressively expansionist Stalinism. Were many of those actions stupid, even evil or counter-productive? Preventing Iran from slipping into the USSR’s orbit was at least understandable in that context. Perhaps Dulles is in purgatory for that right now. But I do know that betraying Allende in Chile was undeniably unforgivable at any level and without qualifiers, and merits a long stint in hell.

Morales? Let’s get this straight. I am glad Morales was in for those terms! He broke many old power patterns. Still, give me a break. He had several terms and was trying to extend rule beyond normal constitutional constraints, copying line by line the justifications offered by Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. HE controlled the levers of national power and appointed electoral officials. If he lost, MIGHT it have been because voters wanted some change? Does the CIA have a magic wand? I wish they were that competent.

Are you implying that I therefor liked Georgia’s Kemp? Need I remind you which direction I rail against most often as the worse threat?

You offer us so many false dichotomies that I would not know how to begin to answer.

Dig it, the system most productive of human improvement and advancement, that lifted the % of children in school from 10% to 90% worldwide was NONE of the choices you offer. Rather it was the “open” flat-fair-creative market society that raised up enough folks to be genuinely competitive and avoided the tyrannical oppressions of BOTH oligarchic capitalism and hierarchical Leninism.

It’s a harder thing to do. Which is why the odds were always against us.

David Brin said...

And yes, Matthias Rust was sent Ice Cream by Gorbachev.

David Brin said...

“The new officers eagerly made a science of mechanized warfare, developing armored warfare theories at least as good as the Germans.”

Well, let’s not get carried away. The new Stalinist officer corps did all that, yes, but with a deep, underlying sense of the cheapness of human life and disregard for casualties and death of their own men.

And the exception to your comments about commissars was Nikita Krushchev, at Stalingrad, who was apparently very effective.

As for Marshal, well, you all know he's one of my heroes.

DP said...

"And the exception to your comments about commissars was Nikita Krushchev, at Stalingrad, who was apparently very effective."

Quite true, as this scene from "Enemy at the Gates" (one of the best war movies ever - certainly the best one on the Russian Front except for maybe "Cross of Iron") illustrates:

Apparently Stalinist staff meetings start off with a bang.

DP said...

"but with a deep, underlying sense of the cheapness of human life and disregard for casualties and death of their own men"

After the war, Gen. Eisenhower entertained Marshall Zhukov. During their meeting Ike showed off all of the American equipment and modified tanks that could easily clear an enemy mine field.

Zhukov was unimpressed and said "Whenever I want to clear a minefield, I send forward a battalion of infantry. In no time at all the minefield is cleared."

Tim H. said...

I would like to suggest that the oligarchs threaten more than democracy, they threaten capitalism by their energetic defense of the optimizations that serve them rather better than other stakeholders. The suppression of accountability (To the lesser folk.) does not even seem to be in their long term interest, as stable economies need to be built from the bottom up. IMHO, the reappearances of socialism in history have a lot to do with a failure to adapt by inept practitioners of capitalism, and wouldn't it be more fun and profit, to tweak a capitalist system as the needs of stakeholders change, rather than revolution?

Darrell E said...

David Brin said...
"" Well on that score the ABA has been very hard on Conservative justices"[Tim Wolter]

Yes, but as with every fact-checking service, you reflexively assume that determinations of such things fall out the way they do because of political bias across a vast spectrum, rigidly followed in lockstep by disciplined millions of deep-staters.

It never occurs to you that all fact checking services find vastly more Republican lies because Republicans LIE vastly more often. And GOP judge appointees are deemed less qualified by the ABA because they are largely a pack of shills andf partisan hirelings.

It SO frustrates me that there are ways to nail this down... and no Democrat seems to have the brains to see how!

I don't know Dr. Brin. You have come up with many seemingly good ideas that very likely could have been of some benefit if the DP had used them, but look at Tim. You've never been able to convince him of anything. It's not because you aren't convincing. It's because Tim isn't convincable. You can back people like Tim into a corner with facts and good reasoning all you want. The only effect will be to inspire them to new efforts at rationalizing away the facts, ignoring the facts and insisting that the facts are actually a matter of opinion, and they've got a different opinion of them.

Since the days of Bush Jr. you've been working on Tim to no noticeable effect. That's what we are up against. How many unconvincables are there? I don't know. Seems to be a pretty significant amount.

Lorraine said...

I used to reach out to libertarians, but lately there seems to be so much overlap between libertarians and alt-right types. I do keep an eye out for those right libertarians who explicitly distance themselves from nationalism and other reactionary tendencies. Some examples include the anti-neofeudalist and International Students for Liberty Conference

scidata said...

Seeing some kind words sent to Canada from the Netherlands today (75th anniversary of liberation from Nazis). It occurs to me that similar thanks might serve to awaken memories of American contributions to civilization.
Thank you for Italy.
Thank you for Normandy.
Thank you for the Pacific.
Thank you for the Moon.
Thank you for Hollywood.
Thank you for Asimov.

Tacitus said...


I was planning a nice break from politics today, but...

You are missing the point. Here and often if I may be so bold.

Our genial host is fond of tossing out challenges and making sweeping statements. With this I have no problem, he uses words for a living. But acting in a bit of isolation from contrasting, dare I say Contrary, viewpoints he is prone to error. He assumes he knows how others think. One of my real pet peeves is when he says things like "You know this to be true!". Indeed he does not know me that well. There are limits to internet communication. By way of example, had he asked about my rationale in the recent WI supreme court race I'd have told him that the challenger appeared to have better qualifications and that the supposed ideological balance of the court would/will not have shifted should she win the post. Instead he just assumed I voted for the incumbent.

David so quite fond of his Challenges but to be honest he insists on being both challenger, judge and court of appeals. Hardly a egalitarian system! When he asks if I think a conservative judge will be found to have accepted bribes I think (notice I don't say I know) that he'll define this as along the lines of he/she spoke at a Federalist Society fish fry and somebody bought him a beer. Sensible folk would define bribery as bags of cash exchanged in dark alleys for dark purposes. The ABA issue is another and rather complicated tale but I think progressives do have a home field advantage in ABA ratings.

The problem with CB too often is that we don't speak the same language. I don't use words like traitor, treason, bribery in the same sense that others do here.

We'd all do much better in person and with a beer or two. But as I have opined on multiple occasions I find much of what is tossed about here to be ineffectual with regard to advancing the worthy principles of progressive thought.

Or if you prefer....unconvincing.

I try to make my postings focused and polite. I'd like to think that helps people understand them. Often it seems to make no difference. Maybe I should just go Full Locum. That might be more entertaining than the rare occasions where I write in Isomer Brin format. David seems to take offense when I do this so I have not done so for years.

I don't come here to convince people....just to offer a different perspective. I happen to think some of you benefit from hearing it but if I am mistaken in that respect that error is mine.


David Brin said...

Good stuff Daniel & Tim. And scidata.

Darrell, I think you are unfair to Tim and to me. Remember where you are. Contrary Brin.
Tim is contrarian to me, he challenges us, he is a good citizen of "us".

You and I don't know how he is around the RASRs he knows, but I'd wager he's being contrary to them, challenging them. Perhaps doing more good than I do with public rants.

Remember one fact about Tim. He's here.

Lorraine, I keep my eye open for special bullets, and the link I gave above about MAGA efforts to crush modern architecture and impose classical style is of great important when dealing with Randians! Read THE FOUNTAINHEAD or watch the movie. This is a matter of religion to them. This one fact could truly sway some members of that wing of libertarians to realize that confederates and inheritance brats and corporate looters are not 'lesser evils' than mere liberals.

Larry Hart said...


Thank you for Italy.
Thank you for Normandy.
Thank you for the Pacific.
Thank you for the Moon.
Thank you for Hollywood.
Thank you for Asimov.

That could be a Passover invocation.

"If they had liberated Europe, but not reached the moon, it would have been enough!"

scidata said...

Not a fan of great scientist baseball cards and such; it kind of trivializes scientific literacy and widens the gulf between scientist and citizen. However, a Fauci bobblehead would look good on my shelf.

Lorraine said...

I haven't read the book but I saw the movie. The role of classical architectural elements in the film is positively comical. And the image of Roark getting all muscular due to manual labor has a decided "socialist realism" aesthetic.

Larry Hart said...

Presented without further comment...

That the dispute that reached the Supreme Court was the result of intense partisan rancor in a state with a history of Republican-devised voter suppression should have been reason enough for the conservative bloc to stay its hand. Instead, it seems to have been catnip: The Wisconsin Republicans, after all, needed the Supreme Court’s help if they were to keep voter participation as low as possible.

the hanged man said...

If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend “The Unpersuadables: Adventures With the Enemies of Science” by Will Storr. You will laugh and you will cry — essentially humans are irrational: even you, even me. It’s emotions that trip us up, they take precedent over logic, and sometimes even logic isn’t all it’s cut out to be. Frequently, it’s just monkey logic.

jim said...

Sure libertarian love Rand, but I am not sure how many of them actually like modern architecture.

So much of modern architecture is ugly, brutal, and poorly made.
For example here in Cincinnati there is the Design Art Architecture and Planning building (DAAP for short) and it is one ugly, poorly made deconstructionist nightmare of a building. A multi million dollar mess with pastel cladding randomly stuck on the outside. I have been inside and outside of the building and I am not sure that anything is plume or true . We joke that the purpose of the building is to show new architects what not to do.

And I am sure everyone can point out a truly ugly building in their city that was built with public money.

Alfred Differ said...

much overlap between libertarians and alt-right types

Well... from their perspective there is much overlap between progressives and the hard socialists who take their property. What is happening is probably 'just' polarization in the mind, though. I doubt many people want to steal a lot of property or impose biblical law. SOME do, but not as many as we fear.

This post starts with the notion that some thought Fascism and Marxism were dead. There is one political group that never believed that. The Libertarians. We see it all around us all the time. Hyper-tuned to it. Put up a "Keep of the Grass" sign at the park and we declare you a fascist. Order a quarantine today and we know you intend far worse tomorrow with no intent of ever surrendering your power.

Are we overdoing it? No doubt. Like a fire alarm that can't be shut off, people learn to grind their teeth and then try ignore us. Sometimes there is a fire, though. Irritating, but true.

I'll carry the draft executive order message to some of the libertarians I know and see how they respond. One of them is a Rand fan, so I'll look for HER reaction. Yah. Some libertarians are women. Shock! 8)

Deuxglass said...

Daniel Duffy,

I would like to make an addition to the French story in WW II. The commander of the French Army, General Maurice Gamelin, and intellect was suffering from neurosyphilis, an advanced form syphilis that affects the brain. Symptoms include lapses in concentration, memory, judgement and intellect. He contracted syphilis around 1930 and was give the shock treatment for the time. That consisted of giving him a very bad case of malaria and by the high fever it caused it was hoped that the syphilis bacteria would be killed. The treatment put him into remission long enough for him to build the Maginot Line and become the supreme commander of the French army. When the Germans invaded Gamelin showed no imitative, missed every opportunity and sacked twenty front-line commanders to cover his failures.

Fortunately under our system no leader showing such symptoms could ever reach a high enough level to do damage.

Treebeard said...

You know, you’re basically repackaging Near Eastern religious myths for sale to a modern audience. There’s the oppressive world system of Gnosticism (feudalism, mafiocracy, etc.), the sinful and fallen nature of human beings of Christianity (6000 years of darkness, harems, bullies, etc.), the elect of righteous people who show us the path to light of Judaism (Enlightened elite, good billionaires, etc.), and the revelatory event that divides past from future, good from evil, saved from damned (Enlightenment). It’s a nice package for WEIRD people who share this cultural DNA and need a religion, but try selling it to a Hindu, Taoist, Buddhist, pagan, aboriginal or real skeptic and see how much sense it makes to them.

I reckon your real enemies aren’t feudalism or traditionalism, but 1. human nature, 2. civilization, and 3. entropic reality. 2. can be defeated, but 1. and 3., not so much. Which is where science fiction comes in: it provides an escape from reality into Star Trek fantasy worlds of the future, much as other true believers escape into fantasy worlds of the past.

Darrell E said...

Fair enough, I may indeed have been unfair to you both. As I've said before Dr. Brin, though you are more .... ummm, volatile(?), than I you have much more patience and tolerance than I'm able to muster.

David Brin said...

"The problem with CB too often is that we don't speak the same language. I don't use words like traitor, treason, bribery in the same sense that others do here."

Oh, now the sanctimony comes trotting out. Holier than thou. No, Tim you do not use those words, even though the evidence has piled higher than the moon.

Instead the 20,000 registered Trump lies are 'regrettable' or 'impolite'... but doesn't everyone in politics lie?

The demolition of all of our international alliances is NOT a perfect pattern that just happens to suit Putin - nor is the all-out war against the intelligence services, whose universal diagnoses point to open war against us by the KGB. No, rather all that is but a series of individual regrettable occurances. And while you never say "deep state", maligning half a million dedicated professionals who stand between us and determined enemies... well, those who DO say it have an equal point of view to those who don't, right?

Tim, do squint and imagine, for a minute, a bunch of very bright and insightful colleagues who look at that moon-high pile and who do NOT have your shrug-"regreatable but doesn't everybody?" response. Rather, imagine looking at it all with occam's razor, the possibility of a genuine pattern. The real likelihood that we've been taken over by a foreign supported mafia.

Perhaps it's for linguistic reason that you do not use "words like traitor, treason, bribery in the same sense that others do here." Fine. You are a contrarian on Contrary Brin. That's fine too.

But if you are not out there being likewise contrarian to your Republican friends, then yes, I feel like a Jew in 1936 Berlin, pleading for help from a good German neighbor, who tsks at Hitler, calling him, too, regrettable.

David Brin said...

"And the image of Roark getting all muscular due to manual labor has a decided "socialist realism" aesthetic."

Of course! Read my Ayn Rand essay where I show that she was essentially an apostate Marxist! Her entire thought pattern was utterly Marxist, down the line, like a checklist, with one difference. She saw the Marxisn penultimate culmination of super-lords as a GOOD thing and yelled that the progression must stop there.

locumranch said...

Unless you are easily bewildered by simple nomenclature, even a quick reading of Umberto Eco’s list of "14 Traits of Fascism" (linked above) is a damning indictment of the modern progressive movement because Progressivism has become a de facto 'tradition' that abhors any deviation, change or 'modernism' that detracts from previously established progressive doctrines.

As exemplified by the climate change argument & the current pandemic, Progressive Fascism (1) defines progressive traditions as sacrosanct, (2) relies on unproven & irrational pseudo-scientific projections to compel obedience, (3) emphasises 'action for the sake of action alone' in the form of TWODA, (4) defines disagreeable 'deniers' as treasonous existential threats, (5) condemns the 'deplorable' for any deviation from the current progressive uniformity of thought, (6) appeals to the social frustration of the middle class progressive who experienced 'political humiliation' in the 2016 presidential election, (7) indulges in a sort of 'crypto-xenophobia' to make its followers feel besieged by enemies on all sides, (8) portrays its conservative, right-leaning or Trumpian enemies as absurd/incompetent/idiotic/weak AND smart/effective/devious/powerful in a simultaneous fashion, (9) redefines failure & defeat in terms of either compromising or 'trafficking with the enemy', (10) expresses contempt for the 'weak' non-intellectual rural bumpkin insomuch 'Elitism a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology', (11) educates everyone to be an equal 'intellectual hero' even though this 'cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death', (12) inverts the 'machismo & weaponry' paradigm in order to villainise masculine strength & normative heterosexual behaviours in favour of homosexuality & meek passivity, (13) engages in the 'selective populism' of televised progressive media indoctrination 'in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People', and (14) endorses a politically correct & progressive form of 'newspeak' typified by an 'impoverished vocabulary and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning'.

Modern Progressivism is 'Fascism Reborn' for all-of-the-above reasons.

The once noble modern progressive movement has become the very monster that it set out to destroy, in the manner previously described by Nietzsche, insomuch as 'He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself'.

Furthermore, ANTIFA is Fascism's new & ironic face, exactly as described by my sainted grandmother's firsthand reports of what fascism 'looks like', as the ANTIFA protester & the old school fascist both (1) take to the streets to demonstrate their numerical power, (2) dress entirely in black in a display unity & resolve, (3) cover their faces with masks to disguise identity and (4) use violence & intimidation as the chief means of furthering and 'führering' their political ends.


David Brin said...

I only quick skimmed. But he's back to yowling: "If I yell something that is diametrically opposite to true, it makes me look smart!" Junior high school crap.

David Brin said...

This lifelong Republican gray eminence says of Trump 'He is Capable of Doing Serious Damage’. (Um… “capable?” We log passed that.) Charles Fried was a fervent, superior officer on the frontlines of the Reagan Revolution. As solicitor general of the United States from 1985 to 1989, he urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the reigning liberal orthodoxies of his day—on abortion, civil rights, executive power and constitutional interpretation. But the Trump Revolution has proven a bridge too far. In a scorching interview, Fried denounces a president who is "perhaps the most dishonest person to ever sit in the White House." As disgusted as he is by President Donald Trump, Fried is, if possible, even more dismayed by William Barr, Trump's current attorney general, for having stepped up as Trump's chief apologist. Fried says of Barr. "His reputation is gone.

First, Biden should make a council of such folks - - ABA -- Adversaries But Americans -- and ask them for one thing... to help set up a fact-checking service that will be unimpeachably non-partisan and thus smash forever the "fake news" calumny.

Second - oh like we should trust someone who actually believes William Barr ever had any honor, in the first place?


jim said...

There has been a really stunning drop in oil usage because of the pandemic.
It is down by ~35%, and sense oil usage is a great proxy for the economy as a whole, that means real economic activity has declined about the same amount.
A 35% drop in economic activity puts us in a Great Depression level of economic trouble.

As you all know I am very pessimistic about our collective future due to the increasing energy cost of energy and the general limits to growth. I think this pandemic is precipitating a state change to the economy with growth being over and “de-growth” starting.

Tim Morgan over at the Surplus Energy Economics Blog has this to say:

“The fundamental change now in prospect is that economic de-growth will set in, and will eliminate most of the expectations hitherto covered by the term “the economy of more”. The rate at which the economy shrinks (and the average person becomes less prosperous) will be influenced by a number of variables, of which critical mass and utilization effects are amongst the most important.

A reasonable working assumption, generated by SEEDS, is that people are going to get poorer at annual rates of about 1%, though there will, needless to say, be major regional and national variations around this trend.”

TCB said...

@ scidata, when I was in French class many a year ago, monsieur le professeur played a couple of songs by Michel Sardou. One is called "Les Ricains" which means, more or less, "The Yankees."

Les Ricains Michel Sardou

If the Ricans weren't there
Si les Ricains n'étaient pas là
You would all be in Germania
Vous seriez tous en Germanie
To speak of I don't know what
A parler de je ne sais quoi
To greet I do not know who
A saluer je ne sais qui
Course years have passed
Bien sûr les années ont passé
The rifles changed hands
Les fusils ont changé de mains
Is this a reason to forget
Est-ce une raison pour oublier
That one day we needed it?
Qu'un jour on en a eu besoin?
A guy from Georgia
Un gars venu de Georgie
Who cared a lot about you
Qui se foutait pas mal de toi
Came to die in Normandy
Est v'nu mourir en Normandie
One morning when you weren't there
Un matin où tu n'y étais pas
Course years have passed
Bien sûr les années ont passé
We became friends
On est devenus des copains
To the friendly of the shot
A l'amicale du fusillé
They say they fell for nothing
On dit qu'ils sont tombés pour rien
If the Ricans weren't there
Si les Ricains n'étaient pas là
You would all be in Germania
Vous seriez tous en Germanie
To speak of I don't know what
A parler de je ne sais quoi
To greet I do not know who
A saluer je ne sais qui

David Brin said...

While we do have to keep laughing...
...see: html
... this is no laughing matter. Recall, when Nixon fired ONE investigator, it was a red-line for millions of Republicans who said “we can and must do better than this.” A (very) few are doing so now. But most of today’s Republicans have no red lines, and hence they aren’t citizens but henchmen. See the articles linked below.

(1) Thought-provoking, substantive, and more credible for the conservative bona-fides of the source. REAGAN’s Solicitor General says “all the honorable people have left Trump’s cabinet and White House and the GOP leadership.

(Biden should make a council of such folks - - ABA -- Adversaries But Americans -- and ask them for one thing... to help set up a fact-checking service that will be unimpeachably non-partisan and thus smash forever the "fake news" calumny.)

(2) The firing of Michael Atkinson, the inspector general who forwarded a whistle-blower complaint to Congress, is just an example of how thoroughly the Foxite-Putinites are determined to destroy what stands in their way, the civil servants who have kept things going amid this insane idiocracy. But those so-called “deep state” servants are in the cross hairs.

There is a way to protect the Inspectors General and ensure NO party can ever steal trillions, as the Trumpists mean to do from the emergency funding? I lay out a way to achieve that permanently - it would take a bill that fits on one page - in Polemical Judo.

David Brin said...

jim certainly contibutes added-value, even if I deem his somewhat eager pessimism to be wrongheaded. It is true that economists fear a deflationary spiral far more than they fear inflation. Because deflationary expectations make consumers wait, instead of purchasing, knowing the price will drop, which slows economic activity and money velocity in a devil's cycle.

So sure, it could happen. But there are other factors.

David Brin said...

TCB thank you for that. I teared up.

David Brin said...

Even better is this version... a huge crowd of French people cheering and singing along. Capable of gratitude.

They know that this American Pax, for all of its faults, prevented vastly worse. That things could have been vastly worse. That every other era of dismal human history was worse.

And if we do not blow it now, we have a chance to be recalled by the true humans as the very best cavemen could be. Crude, bestial primitives who tried nonetheless to lift our gaze and those around us. To something better.

scidata said...

My strongest takeaway from the 9/11 experience: "Nous sommes tous Américains"
How about a Belgian boy saluting a passing Canadian platoon.
"Eyes Right" is quite a moment.

locumranch said...

Yowling, is it?

Read the '14 traits of Fascism' as described by Umberto Eco, and note how David checks off all the boxes in this thread alone, including his unflinching support for Smithian tradition, pseudo-scientific projections, right action for its own sake, the use of the terms 'traitor' and 'treason', the idea of right thought, appeals to frustration, the xenophobic belief that he is surrounded by enemies, the portrayal of Trump as an idiot/genius, the refusal to negotiate with the opposition, elitist disdain for the inferior rural yokel, selective populism, politically correct newspeak, and so on & so forth.

It's all there, black and white, clear as crystal!

This is 'role reversal', exactly as described by Tuan in his mind-blowing 'Dominance and Affection: The making of pets', first published in 1984, available at Yale University Press.

An ongoing process, role reversal is, as evidenced by California's recent 'nation-state' treason & its ongoing rejection of the very same federal laws & supremacy clause that sustain the United States of America.

What are the odds, do you suppose, that the US federal government will soon be forced to arrest the current Governor of California for incitement, subversion, sedition & Logan Act violations?


David Brin said...


TCB said...

Was Trump Gifting Ventilators to His Allies? One Congresswoman Thinks So and She Has Receipts

Trump, Kushner, and pals are grifting off the pandemic, and the amount of money they are in a position to steal is astronomical.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Since Dr. Anthony Fauci said today that we should put a permanent end to the often-lethal practice of shaking hands, I will repeat here a suggestion that I have be making for the past several months.

Of course, the first suggestion is not really to be taken too seriously, but it should be thought about quite seriously.

The proper response to some one who insist upon shaking your hand should be pepper spray. Not to the face, of course, (except for repeat offenders). That would be unfriendly.

Instead, the pepper spray should be directed at the palm side of the potential assailant's outstretched hand (and preferably both hands, if feasible). This has at least 3 major beneficial effects:

(1) It will teach the handshaker to stop this lethal practice.

(2) It will teach the handshaker not to be touching his face, especially around the eyes, nose and mouth.

(3) It will teach the handshaker proper and thorough handwashing technique. This includes a painful penalty for missing a spot.

Actually, an anti-handshaking spray with larger (non-aerosol) droplet size needs to be developed. Current pepper sprays are too difficult to accurately control and target.

For those who prefer a more tranquil technique for discouraging handshaking assault, carrying a small container of hand sanitizer at all times, and openly using it immediately before and after the handshake may help to discourage the practice.

For civilized people, a nod or a short bow should be a suitable replacement for the handshake.

David Brin said...

Yipe Jerry! I know you are way exaggerating for amusement. But you know Locum will see that as proof liberals aim to pound all deviants?

In fact, if you offer a fist bump, most people will adjust and close their outstretched hand and comply. The Roman forearm clasp (my favorite) is harder to enforce and folks often think I am trying to hug them!

Alfred Differ said...

Rand/Roark hand grenade tossed at

Lloyd Flack said...

What will have to be done to minimise the economic damage will be a big set back to neoliberalism. It has no answer to this sort of crisis. Austerity as a solution will obviously make things worse.
I think this could lead to an increase in the influence of Modern Monetary Theory and a decrease in that of the Chicago and Austrian Schools.
And this change could make it easier for us to deal with problems with inequality and the environment.

Larry Hart said...

Today Wisconsin, tomorrow the world!


This November, it’s all too possible that Trump will eke out an Electoral College win thanks to widespread voter suppression. If he does — or even if he wins cleanly — everything we’ve seen suggests that he will use a second term to punish everyone he sees as a domestic enemy, and that his party will back him all the way. That is, America will do a full Hungary.

What if Trump loses? You know what he’ll do: He’ll claim that Joe Biden’s victory was based on voter fraud, that millions of illegal immigrants cast ballots or something like that. Would the Republican Party, and perhaps more important, Fox News, support his refusal to accept reality? What do you think?

So that’s why what just happened in Wisconsin scares me more than either disease or depression. For it shows that one of our two major parties simply doesn’t believe in democracy. Authoritarian rule may be just around the corner.

Larry Hart said...

What’s true of Republicans in Wisconsin is true of Republicans nationwide. There is no part of the Republican Party — not its president in the White House, not its leadership in Congress, not its conservative allies on the Supreme Court, not its interest groups or its affiliated media — that has an interest in or commitment to a fair, equal and expansive democracy.

Just look at the last decade. First, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the conservative, Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court opened the door to unlimited campaign spending by corporations, interest groups and wealthy individuals. Then, in Shelby County v. Holder, it swept away the “preclearance” section of the Voting Rights Act, freeing states to adopt new restrictions on voting and ballot access, an invitation they promptly took up. And most recently, in Rucho v. Common Cause, the conservative majority all but gave its blessing to the extreme partisan gerrymandering seen in Wisconsin and other Republican-led states by declaring the issue “nonjudiciable” by federal courts, meaning that they supposedly can’t do anything about it.

Larry Hart said...

Same link as above, and to locumranch and his ass-backwards view that the governor of California is a traitor while the #SoCalledPresident is not, extremism in defense of American democracy is no vice.

...It seems silly to even argue about this because Trump is not motivated by a sudden impulse toward good government, he’s motivated by partisan advantage. And he believes his side will lose if everyone who wants to vote can cast a ballot.

In this, Trump is no different than most of the rest of his party. Republicans do not believe they can persuade a majority of voters to support their agenda. They’ve practically given up trying. And so they fight to exclude Democratic-leaning voters from the electorate and work to lock the Republican Party’s current advantage into the system itself, to bend and break the rules so that the public can’t actually translate its preferences into power. Rather than do the work of democracy they’ve decided instead to limit democracy itself.

locumranch said...

Since I compliment David at every turn & I receive only rejection in return, I'm starting to feel like that agreeable bit character in Bester's 'Demolished Man' who agrees to a merger over & over, only to gain the ire of the main protagonist.

I compliment David when I point out a 14 point concordance between Modern Progressivism and Jackbooted Fascism because I support Fascism's many forms, especially the Roman (forearm clasp) variety.

Tyrannical rule by a progressive fact-using elite? I'm on board, insomuch as one self-appointed ruling caste is very much like any other self-appointed ruling caste.

A progressive demand for federal nullification, leading to balkanisation & representational government? Bravo! Encore! I want more!

A worldwide pandemic-driven economic shutdown with massive unemployment, the suspension of civil liberties & NO endpoint? David, Jim & I are all fellow-travelers here, even though our reasons may differ.

It's called 'Accelerationism' and, as I support 'adapt-or-die' change at any cost, (1) I have taken David's voter registration recommendations to heart, (2) I am now registered to vote 'US Democrat', and (3) I promise to do everything in my power to support the Modern Progressive agenda to its probable conclusion.


Darrell E said...

"Rather than do the work of democracy they’ve decided instead to limit democracy itself."

That's exactly it. Of course, it's no different than the rise of authoritarian/despotic/fascist regimes through history. The wanna-be dictators and their minions first warp, subvert and remake the current system to empower and protect themselves while disempowering and unprotecting any possible adversaries.

The problem is getting enough people to see that it is actually happening right now, while there is still time to do something about it. That too has been the same throughout history. Same as it ever was.

That's why there can't be enough articles like the one Larry quoted.

TCB said...

locumranch said:


Who cares, I skipped right over him.

David Brin said...

He's back to just spewing and raving. Somebody speak up when at least it has some poetry to it. You know how indulgent I am and eager to see good. But this is just Jackin' on a New York subway can level stuff. And the countdown is ticking to ejection.

David Brin said...

We just got pounded with 7 inches of rain. Spent the day in boots with a shovel.

As for Covid-Covfefe... With California showing how to prevent disaster and New York showing how to cope, we have yet to see what happens in Florida... DeWine in Ohio has shown that not all Republicans are insane.

Speaking of which... while was mucking out paths for the flooding to drain, or building walls of paving stones to keep brownwater out of the pool (I failed), a sudden thought occurred to me. I was so proud of having one of the oldest blogs online and best blogmunities, maintained with a highly tolerant set of challenge-the-host policies, that I suppose I really have erred and for ego driven reasons. I like to envision myself as open even to criticism that confronts me... and only recently switched to curated commenting when we got a truly fecal-level troll.

But I have clearly drawn the line in the wrong place and there is such a thing as bending over too far backwards. The character calling himself 'locumranch' has pestered us for many years, on rare occasion offering interesting insights, but generally displaying a fetishistic dedication to dishonesty and direct slander, by constantly attributing to me strawman opinions and positions that are diametrically opposite to anything I believe and in fact are repellant. I know of no one else who would have indulged this for as long as I have, and many of you have suggested that I'm past any further need to demonstrate patience or forbearance.

Enough. To put up with anything more would be to take my hear-all-sides policy beyond any rationale, into territory of a fetish. I thought of making this a one month warning break, but then recalled I've done that before, and he returned just as much a lying loony. And there's the hate, misogyny, nastiness and ingrate hostility to a civilization that gave him everything.

Stop talking and justifying, Brin. Just do it.

duncan cairncross said...

About time!

I remember you telling me off for calling him "Loco-ranch"

That was a LONG time ago!

Lorraine said...

Haha lpvc dot org blocks requests from tor exit nodes.

Lloyd Flack said...

I think you are right. He seems, for whatever reasons, to revel in malice and self-pity. Dealing with these is unpleasant and a waste of your time.

Laurence said...

For those who prefer a more tranquil technique for discouraging handshaking assault, carrying a small container of hand sanitizer at all times, and openly using it immediately before and after the handshake may help to discourage the practice.

There's a famous chap from history who'd be onboard with you there. Name of Ceausescu. Trump's also supposed to be a bit wary of handshaking - funilly enough.

That's one concern with this outbreak, fear of disease often translate into fear of the "other" and a heightened disgust response, which spills over into racism. It's interesting to note that ten years after Spanish flu we saw the rise of the Nazi regime, and ten years after Aids we saw the Rawandan genocide and the Blakan ethnic cleansing (Eastern Europe was second worst hit by aids after Africa)Disease metaphors were used in both Germany and Rawanda to justify and incite the killing. Who will be tomorrows victims of germaphobia?

A German Nurse said...

Just a question from a non-American: Can't the U.S. government be held responsible for misdemeanor and mistakes during the Covid Crisis in the courts? In the same way as a company (e.g. Monsanto/Bayer)?

Just wondering.

David Brin said...

Governments cannot be sued for monetary damages without their consent. A strange rule but with rationales.

Alfred Differ said...


I'd be honestly interested in what kind of errors you see when you try that.
I'm responsible for the website and can't think of why we'd care to pry into who or where you are.

I'm at first initial last name on gmail if you want me to try to figure it out.
If our host is overly nosy, I suspect my peers would want to know so we could... find another host. 8)

yana said...

Never been fond of cutting out dissent, since the nuttier ones are the most instructive for keeping a broader body politic healthy. In fact, suspected more than once that loc'ch actually IS Dr. Brin, a clever and instructive ruse slying on the blog's very name. I mean hey, have you ever seen the two of them in the same room at the same time? Me neither. In fact, it'd be a helpful exersize for anyone who writes novels, to sharpen dialog skills.

TCB thought:

"Who cares, I skipped right over him."

Me too, for a long time. Only get about 28,000 days, the first 6,000 just to figure out half of being human. So thought "if it's only DBrin anthropomorphising CB," then no need for me to pay attention. Other hand, if "that's a Nationalist Identity wingnut," then that kind of pain and guilt are past my skills to fix (and too sad to poke fun at). Either case, my best interest is skipping those posts. 28,000.

TCB said...

“It’s so easy I thought it was fake,” another applicant told the Post, explaining that all he had to do was log into his Canada Revenue Agency account, click on the appropriate link and answer three questions before getting an approval message from the CRA saying the $2,000 benefit would be in his account within three days.

And that's $2000 a month, not a one-time $1200 you have to scrabble for.

“This is $2,000 per four weeks. So there are Canadians that received a retroactive payment dating from March 15, because that’s when the benefit can be applied..."

Throw out every Republican. Mar-A-Lago delenda est.

TCB said...

I do have a dog in this particular fight, but even if I didn't, it's pretty obvious which side is right...

"The Postal Service, On The Verge Of Collapse, Is Begging For Funding / Everyone would feel the absence of the U.S. Postal Service — especially in a pandemic."

Larry Hart said...

@TCB, We can guess which side our host is on concerning the Postal Service. :)

@Dr Brin,

Just heard last night that you've been having a storm for close to a week now, but I hadn't heard how much rain it involved. Don't know what else to say. Last spring, we had six inches of rain once, and it leaked through the walls of our basement, not even bothering to come up through the sewers. That hasn't happened before or since, even with two-inch rainfalls.


I don't have a link, but Hal Sparks's radio show had a clip from a comedian doing such a good Trump impression that I thought at first that it was really Trump speaking. It was a supposed Easter invocation, saying things like "I just found out that Jesus was Jewish, so his name was probably Christovich, or something like that." Then went on to compare himself favorably to God in the resurrection department: "God brought one person back to live. I'm going to resurrect the entire American economy!" So "I'd rather follow Trump than Jesus" is becoming closer than ever to reality.

Smurphs said...

yana said:

"In fact, suspected more than once that loc'ch actually IS Dr. Brin"

For a while I thought it was one of Dr. Brin's kids, pranking him. But it went on far too long.

(And at least seen thru the lens of the little bit the Doctor does post about his kids, they're much too nice for that.)

Larry Hart said...


"Who cares, I skipped right over him."

Me too, for a long time.

Back when he seemed to revel in slandering me in particular, others on this list including our host used to tell me to just skip his posts. When I finally decided to do so, it seemed that I was the only one with the willpower to actually do so.

I usually apply some creativity to what I consider the challenge of Lent (though I'm not religiously obligated to it), and this year I gave up skipping over trolls, so he had 40 days (46 actually, but who's counting?) to interest me again, and did not do so. Today would have been my last day anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter very much one way or another.

I'm generally against banning someone because they disagree, but twice now I've argued for banning based upon volume that makes a list unreadable by others. That's not what loc does, but he does outright slander people, and that's good (bad) enough for me.

Larry Hart said...

re: Post Office funding. I didn't think of this myself, but it's pretty obvious in hindsight:

Q: I'm wondering if blocking USPS funding could be a back door to eliminating/postponing/kneecapping turnout for the general election? You can't vote by mail if there's no mail.

Acacia H. said...

For the most part I would ignore Locu and the Ent's posts. About the only time I'd pay them any mind is if they were the last post or if I missed that it was locu (or the Ent) posting. And for a bit I advocating getting rid of Locu or reining him in somehow. I realized after a bit that he doesn't have anything truly new to add. All he does is snipe at comments from others and increasingly badmouth them (and that's also when I'd respond - if I noticed he'd snarked about something I said).

It is easy to be something you're not on the internet. With Locu I sincerely wondered at times if he was at one point a doctor or if he was just an internet troll claiming to be of value to society so people would listen to him. I mean, I'm a loud-mouthed snarky semi-reformed troll myself, but at least I never claimed to delusions of grandeur... I freely admit that I'm just an information worker who realized a couple years ago they're a transwoman. It's easier to just tell the truth because you don't have to keep lies straight... a number of years ago I decided to just be me because it's easier and simpler to just tell the truth.

Which isn't to say I don't troll folks at times. I'm just honest as to who I am while poking at them. ;)


It seems a number of people in South Korea who recovered from COVID-19 are testing positive for the virus again. There's even a suggestion in the article that someone who recovered from COVID-19 in China later died when the virus reactivated. That really doesn't bode well. I had hoped to help those in need but if I'm going to possibly still be contagious (or could even worsen again and die) then I'll have to avoid those who are immuno-compromised among my friends until a valid vaccine is developed and proven to protect them.

Acacia H.

Deuxglass said...

Locum's role in this blog is to be a lightning rod attracting all the aggressive tendencies of the other participants and in that sense he does contribute to making the discussions smoother. He is the most "contrary" member here and if you remove him then there is less "Contrary Brin" and more "Conforming Brin". I notice that many people engage with him even albeit in an aggressive manner that leads me to believe that he does in a way contribute otherwise everyone would have ignored him but they don't. Why is that? I said that he is loyal. He is your most loyally contrary member and that is something very rare. Most people wander around between contrary and conforming without going too far. Locum on the other hand is consistent as the North Star.

Larry Hart said...


but if I'm going to possibly still be contagious (or could even worsen again and die) then I'll have to avoid those who are immuno-compromised among my friends until a valid vaccine is developed and proven to protect them.

Pardon my ignorance, but if it is possible to recover from the disease and be re-infected, then would a vaccine do any good? I mean, wouldn't your body be in a stronger position after fighting off the actual virus than it would after being exposed to a vaccine? Or at least the same condition?

Larry Hart said...

This echoes what I've been feeling and occasionally saying, not so much about Trump's cheating but about how the supreme court could undermine their own authority by losing the consent of the governed.

There are, in the end, five ways that Donald Trump might try to stay in office beyond January 20, 2021:
4. Muddy the results, and then get the courts to step in: This is the scenario envisioned by J.P., and it's the only one on this list, besides #1, that we believe could actually come to pass. But it's not terribly likely. First of all, Joe Biden would have to win a small number of states (one, two, maybe three) by a slim number of votes (less than 25,000). Second, there would have to be some plausible argument as to why the final result is not legitimate. It's true that the current Supreme Court is pretty clearly in the bag for the Republicans when it comes to elections, but it's also true that they can't just overturn a bunch of states' election results because Team Trump cooks up a conspiracy theory about undocumented immigrants voting. Keep in mind, the power of the Supreme Court (and, for that matter, the presidency), rests on the consent of the governed. Right now, a huge percentage of the governed are very unhappy, but they are still (largely) playing along because they still buy in to the system, if not into the people who currently run the system. If the President and the Supreme Court distort the system beyond recognition, then that buy in goes away, and the power of those offices is badly damaged (or even destroyed).

Tim H. said...

A speculation on SARS-CoV2 reinfections, this might be evidence of more than one strain of virus, immunity to one may be no guarantee of immunity from it's cousins. Let's hope for a vaccine that targets aspects held in common by whatever varieties are loose.

David Brin said...

Yes, we are still very uncertain about either lingering or secondary infections. What does appear though is a lack of major resurgences of ICU hospitalizations or deaths among such people. It may be that when infected with different strains, survivors of previous Covid-19 strains wind up getting what happens with the coronas we're used to... a cold. We can hope that's all the 'hidden' effects and not others, yet unseen.

scidata said...

"either lingering or secondary infections"

I can still hear my grandad saying (usually after an horrific bicycle crash), "Just walk it off. Jeepers."

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

It may be that when infected with different strains, survivors of previous Covid-19 strains wind up getting what happens with the coronas we're used to... a cold.

That would be good news for the individual survivor, but not so good news for the fact that he might continue to be contagious.

Jon S. said...

I think Acacia is looking for a vaccine for the immunocompromised friends, on the basis that her system might be robust enough to keep her from getting sick - but that may not mean that she's not infected by a strain that's still asymptomatic in her. We don't yet have a good way of detecting infection in people without symptoms, after all. (Heck, from what I've been hearing about false negatives, we don't have that great a way of finding it in people with symptoms!)

Re: loco - I stopped reading both his and the ent's posts years back, just skipping past them when encountering them. I'd noticed before that neither of them ever actually contributed anything to the discourse; all they could do was repeat disproved information and slander anyone who disagreed with them. From what I've seen quoted in others' posts, neither one has improved in the least over the years, and may in fact have gotten worse since the 2016 elections. I think the good Doctor has been far too lenient with them personally, but as it's his blog I didn't think it was my place to advocate for banning anyone. And perhaps the ent might contribute something more than lies and blind hatred? (I wouldn't know, obviously... :) ) But clearly loco's no better than he ever was. In my opinion, banning him would be the diametric opposite of a loss.

David Brin said...

"That would be good news for the individual survivor, but not so good news for the fact that he might continue to be contagious."

Yes, perhaps. But it is pertinent if you are setting all-positives to work on (say) a Tesla assembly line.

Treebeard said...

I was wondering: why do people assume there’s going to be a vaccine for this virus? Why don’t we have vaccines for HIV and the common cold? Apparently there’s no vaccine for any coronavirus, and even flu vaccines don’t do very much, so why should covid-19 be different? Is the reason similar to why we don’t have fusion-powered flying cars—because we overrate our abilities based on selection bias and myths of human omnipotence? Can anyone who is more knowledgeable shed some light on these questions?

I do think locum was getting carried away with the trolling, but without him this blog is one step closer to being another echo chamber where everyone’s basic assumptions are indistinguishable and we might as well just copy and paste New York Times articles. This is exactly the reason why modern progressives are so often wrong: because they’re adept at creating these cultural bubbles, convincing each other that any worldview outside it must be a form of trolling, ignorance or evil, and shutting it out. And I can tell that Jon S. doesn’t read my posts, because his characterization is so off the mark. I contribute to the discourse all the time, I just don’t make points that he likes to hear. The 2016 elections had little effect on me; I rarely comment about Trump or the politics of the day because it’s so damned boring and irrelevant to me. One virus I have natural immunity to is Politician X Derangement Syndrome; what we really need is a vaccine for that mind-destroying virus. I suggest quarantining yourself from the main vector of infection, which is the mass media.

Smurphs said...

Jon S. said:

"neither one has improved in the least over the years, and may in fact have gotten worse since the 2016 elections."

Better or worse is in the eye of the beholder, but the Ent no longer claims to be a Nazi. But we remember.

And loco used to claim that the Balkanization of America was inevitable. The only way forward, and to be welcomed. By him. I haven't seen him say that since November 9th, 2016. (of course stopped reading sometime in the interim.)

One of my favorite quotes (Bujold again): "The sort of fellow whose funeral's orations are all on the theme of Well, that's a relief.

David Brin said...

Treebeard, HIV is an unusual case since it attacks the immune system, itself. Also problematic for vaccines are diseases that trick the immune system into hyperactivity. But yes, there does seem to be something weird about the interaction of corona viruses with immunal memory.

"I do think locum was getting carried away with the trolling, but without him this blog is one step closer to being another echo chamber..."

I deserve no credit for putting up with that trolling for a DECADE, in order to avoid that very same failure mode. And you've seen me be ornery contrary in every direction here.

Have you ever thought to test this comfy hypothesis of yours by recruiting for us the very best, most cogently rational and evidence-grounded conservatives you can find? No that testing of comfy rationalizations did NOT occur to you, because it is the last thing ever wanted by the cult that has taken over the US right.

"... where everyone’s basic assumptions are indistinguishable and we might as well just copy and paste New York Times articles."

Bah, laughable.

" This is exactly the reason why modern progressives are so often wrong: because they’re adept at creating these cultural bubbles, convincing each other that any worldview outside it must be a form of trolling, ignorance or evil, and shutting it out."

You are looking in a mirror and assuming we are like you, sir. Rupert Murdoch and Clear Channel have profited immensely by the encapsulated Nuremberg Rally of Fox News, selling ads to a bobble-head nodding captive audience that is utterly devoted. MSNBC tried to emulate that business model as did Air America. Both almost went backrupt because liberals are diametrically opposite to your mirror-characterization. They wandered away from the rants. And I offer you right now to escrow stakes that are substantial enough to be worth my time, on a wager over which political wing features more eclectic diversity in sources of news.

Yes, yes. I get that you desperately need to believe that incantation. But your cowardice about backing it up wuith real money shows that in fact you do not believe it... or any of the other nonsense.

Larry Hart said...


I do think locum was getting carried away with the trolling, but without him this blog is one step closer to being another echo chamber where everyone’s basic assumptions are indistinguishable and we might as well just copy and paste New York Times articles.

Have you paid attention to Tim Wolter lately? Or jim? Or matthew?

One can disagree without assholery.

Cari Burstein said...

Personally I think it's reasonable to block locum if you want to go that route. He seems more a walking talking strawman jester than an actual contributor of thoughtful content. I do think you are sometimes overly harsh with people you disagree with (to the point that I am never very comfortable posting here and rarely do it even though I have been reading your blog regularly for years). But you also don't seem to want to cut off people just on the basis of disagreement, only when they are more of a detriment to productive conversation than contributors. I'm in support of that. I do think it's good to have people here who hold contrary views, I would just prefer that those views be expressed in a more productive manner, and not just for the sake of being contrary.

I do wish you had better blog moderation software, where perhaps you could configure moderation to apply only to newer members or those who've not been established to not be problem children. I have found the moderation delay does tend to impact how well the conversation flows here, although it has slowed it enough that I have been more likely to post since I can actually catch fully up on the conversation before I contribute.

David Brin said...



David Brin said...

Cari you %#$#%$#$%%$##! How DARE you imply that I $%##@ at people just for expressing their %$%## views!!!


And how I wish we had better blog softwared, too. I keep threatening to move to Medium....

Now onward


John R said...

It was pretty ingenious how Reagan and his budget guru were able to take 'feudal-inherited oligarchic traditionalism' and rebrand it as something as innocuous and, after they put sufficient spin to it, seemingly beneficial for everyone as "trickle-down economics". Admittedly, I am simplifying things a great deal. But ultimately it all comes down to persons of great wealth and/or in positions of power just pissing on the little guy ... to use an oft-coined euphemism.

Irony of all ironies .. it's been 40 years and the Right continues playing the same tune .. and too much of the country continues swallowing the charade that policies that are enriching the top 1% of the top 1% will make them rich too. And that was before we faced a pandemic that will most likely see the national debt grow by a third.

And yet there will be those still believing .. still waiting .. for their share to come tricklin' down.