Tuesday, July 27, 2021

David Brin's Annual Summer News Update! So many books & projects.

David Brin’s annual-summer update. This year lots of books & future stuff…
 
FIRST a big re-issue of eight classics with great new covers, new author introductions, and newly re-edited material... starting with The Postman and The Practice Effect


Plus I've recently re-released newly edited versions all of my Uplift novels, starting with  Sundiver, followed by Hugo winners Startide Rising and The Uplift War, as well as the Uplift Storm Trilogy, starting with Brightness Reef, and on to Infinity's Shore and Heaven's Reach.  All with corrections and new introductions and better timelines... and great covers!






Best of Brin Short Stories: Subterranean Press is releasing a new collection, “The Best of David Brin," an anthology of my very best short stories as well as some new ones - as well as a play I've written! Now a gorgeous collectable hardcover (beautiful cover art by Patrick Farley). Here, you'll find tales from creepy to inspiring to thought-provoking -- and fun. Certainly some of my best writing. Sample stories free on my website!  

(Also available... especially if you are on a budget... my earlier collections Insistence of Vision and The River of Time.)

== New YA series ==

And now, shifting gears... I'm releasing two great Science Fiction series for teens and young adult readers looking for something different... and yes, for those of you with a youthful yen for adventure!

Colony HighAliens grab a California high school and relocate it on an alien planet -- and then come to regret it! In the spirit of Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky. Winner of the Hal Clement Award for teen readers! Now expanded with two new sequels, soon to be released from Ring of Fire Press, starting with Castaways of New Mojave co-written with Jeff Carlson (cover art by Patrick Farley), and another upcoming sequel co-written with Steve Ruskin. Sample chapters of this series on my website!  (And there's a full, 3-season TV treatment.)


 

The Out of Time seriesIf the future asked for help, would you go? A 24th Century utopia has no war, disease, injustice or crime... and no heroes! They reach back in time for some.. but only the young are able to go. Maybe you?

Adventure novels by Nebula winners Nancy Kress, Sheila Finch etc. plus great newly added novels for that teen, pre-teen or young-soul -- starting with The Archimedes Gambit by Patrick Freivald -- soon to be released. Next up: Storm's Eye by October K. Santerelli. Stay tuned for updates.


And for a pandemic era. Sci fi that’s too pertinent? My Hugo-nominated short story, “The Giving Plague” explores our complex relations with viruses. Free access on my website or download this story free on Kindle. Also included in my collection, Otherness.



== Provocative nonfiction... and comedy! ==


Vivid Tomorrows: Science Fiction and Hollywood
Explore our love of far-out cinema, and how sci fi flicks may have saved us all. Wish your favorite directors would notice their repeated clich├ęs? Pass 'em a copy! 

Here I offer chapters on 2001, The Matrix, Dune, LOTR, Ayn Rand, King Kong, zombies...and of course, Star Wars and Star Trek. 

Polemical Judo: Memes for Our Political Knife-Fight  Here you'll find political insights you’ve not seen before. 100+ practical tactics off the hoary left-right axis, to defend our Great Experiment - and forge a better future. Sample chapters available on my website.

And how about trying some comedy... in these trying times?

Feed your under-nourished guffaw-neurons! Comedy is hard! Some say that The Ancient Ones: A Space Comedy - lifted spirits in a particularly challenging year. 

Others say “Brin’s nuts!” 

Try sample chapters and decide. 
"Life... death.. and the living dead... will never be the same."


== A screenplay, a stage play and more ==

I've written a screenplay based on my novella "The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss." It offers vivid action and unusual visuals deep.... under the oceans of Venus. (The novella is also included in my Best of Brin collection!) And yes, show the script to directors! Know any? ;-)


And a stage play!

A smart-aleck argues with the devil. Yeah that old trope, redone from a distinctly modernist perspective. My play, "The Escape: A Confrontation in Four Acts" is wry, pointed… and a bit intellectual. Perfect for your table-reading or local theater group. (Contact me if interested!)

On the side....take a look at 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.


== And a novel from another Brin! ==


The Melody of Memory. Cheryl’s first novel - a moving tale of growing up while overcoming tragedy on a colony world that seems cursed, doomed to forget... and repeat the mistakes of the past. 

Terrific opening line! 

Sample the first chapters or see the compelling video preview of her wonderful novel.


== Cool watchables! ==


Brin on Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)  
Will humanity diversify?  
The plague of getting ‘mad as hell.’  
Shall we lift the Earth? 
The fabulous-fun trailer for Existence!
Others range from SETI to ESP to colonizing the galaxy.

And I read (for you) the prologue opening of EARTH. It seems to have been written for today.



== And maybe most important... ==

Sci-fi-nerds save us all? 

Picture any weird event. Starships fulla inky squids. Trees walk. Cyber-newborns talk! Panels advise governments.* Might 80 years of thoughtful SF tales prove useful? 

Volunteer programmers** are building TASAT - There’s a Story About That - to rapidly appraise what-if scenarios and maybe someday save us all. Subscribe. Join the Group Mind! 

*I'm on some.       ** Volunteers... like you?


Podcasts, blogs, interviews, YouTubes & social media.


Hot topics. Astrophysics, transparency/privacy, SETI, UFOs, innovations in spaceflight, history... And yeah, cool science fiction.


Want more? News and views at the always-provocative Contrary Brin.

Or see me on Twitter / Facebook


The David Brin site offers free stories, samples, favorite books, videos, nonfiction, ideas and more. As well as advice for new writers!



Finally: what a Sci-Fi-Twilight-Zonish year! But an ambitious, worthy future is possible! 


Do your part. Make it so.


80 comments:

Bob Neinast said...

Continuing from the last post wondering how our breakthrough intelligence occurred, here is my considered opinion (read: guess).

I wonder if what happened is the ability to recognize intelligence in others and to recognize that such intelligence increased the chances of one's offspring surviving.

As just one small data point: think about how much effort things like needlepoint and knitting were valued in women a couple of hundred (and more) years ago. And the ability of men to hunt by interpreting small signs. But once you are smart enough to realize that intelligence is a survival characteristic in others, that can go viral (to coin a phrase) until one's birth canal isn't wide enough to go further.

David Brin said...

Guy I know credits MIRROR NEURONS with us being able to model the minds of others and thus cooperate.

scidata said...

I assume that guy you know isn't me, so I'll just mention that I discussed mirror neurons in my Future Psychohistory article. I first learned about them from books/articles by/about Michael Shermer and Jeff Hawkins. These critters informed my early thoughts on syntonicity (interpreted from Seymour Papert's thoughts actually).

I'm exploring TASAT, hoping to find something useful for a crusty old programmer contribute. I'll spread the link.

David Brin said...

V. S. Ramachandran agrees with me that some small inner (perhaps genetic) change had non-linear effects by allowing our ancestors to correlate and combine many things they were already doing separately, with brains that had enlarged to do all those separate things by brute force. Ramachandran suspects it involved “mirror neurons” that allow some primates to envision internally the actions of others.

https://www.edge.org/documents/Rama-2000.pdf

Pappenheimer said...

the "zen" phenomenon of picturing a physical action in your head - an action that you have rehearsed many times in the past - and then NOT thinking about it, or anything else...and performing the action flawlessly - is the action controlled by your brain? Your spinal cord? This might have great survival value, but the mental state is hard to enter and desperately hard (for me, at least) to maintain. Is one creating a mental simulation of one's own body and its environment?

duncan cairncross said...

Cooperation is difficult

Evolution does NOT reward cooperation - cheating is too good a strategy - as a result the top cooperators on earth are the insect Hives where the cooperators are not part of the evolutionary path
The "worker bees" and ants

Apart from the insects whose sexual structure engages with cooperation about the only species that "does cooperation" is humans

Peter Turchin describes how "10,000 years of warfare made humans the greatest cooperators on the planet"

https://peterturchin.com/ultrasociety/


Paul451 said...

(A spasm of posts relating to the last thread. But I swear I'm not the troll. Well, not that troll.)

---

duncan cairncross,
"IMHO not so much a rare fluke as a "Killer App" that both uses the intelligence and requires it
[...]
Stone throwing is our one - and that requires human size and living on land
What else is there? - what could an aquatic creature do?"


How about the other proposed driver of the evolution human intelligence: Complex socialisation?

A peacock's tail of sexual selection by females of more and more intelligent males as a way to show energy availability and health (note how quickly our intellect is harmed by starvation and illness, it's a really good indicator) and in themselves to deal with said males.

Perhaps dolphins headed in that direction, but there was a local optimum in their rape strategies that required less energy than an even more complex brain.

And perhaps that's the limit that we see in so many species (because while it's clearly there, it slightly different for every species.) It's the level of intelligence where they find a local optima that stabilises the sexual selection.

For humans, we kept spiralling up until we hit the local optimum where we had the intelligence necessary for a single male to manipulate other males to support his harems of intelligent women that only he has access to. It's not stable, but it's been a constant attractor. We are still drawn to Big Strong Leaders in the hope of getting his reproductive scraps. We got lucky... let me rephrase that... we were fortunate to a myriad of pre-sapient local optima, but not as fortunate as we could have been had we avoided this one.

Paul451 said...

It occurs to me that we've bred ourselves to worship the Big Strong Leader, but none of us are actually worthy of the amount of worship we are capable of. Hence at least some of the people close to the leader can see his human flaws and some of them feel more worthy. Doesn't take much for the ambitious to reject a weak successor in favour of themselves.

The instinct, however, is so strong that we've also invented imaginary Big Strong Leaders to worship, in religions; ones who are worthy and who love us (or punish us for being unworthy.) Which is a way for our lesser Big Strong Leaders to hold onto power. "Sure, I'm not worthy, but I work for Him."

In other words, we have deeply ingrained, genetically stable drive to see a position at the top of society that we are desperate to have someone else fill. We somehow evolved ourselves in a domestic dog looking for a master.

The real danger of AI development isn't an accelerating singularity, nor Skynet, nor even a paperclip maximiser. It's when we create something that is just barely better than ourselves, just enough to for everyone to know that it's better than any of us.

Of course, Iain M. Banks imagined that scenario in his Cultureverse.

But given our intelligence, our ability to anthropomorphise everything, to invent fictions to justify anything, even when creating entirely imaginary Big Strong Leaders (and see any victim in an abusive relationship), then unlike our relationship with dogs, unlike the great machines in the Cultureverse, we'll still do it even if our AI-overlord doesn't love us back, even if it abuses us.

(I have no mouth and I must try harder to earn the machine's love.)

Unlike the Enlightenment, however fragile even that is, I'm not sure if there is an escape mode to that scenario, if it really is just slightly better than us.

Paul451 said...

Okay this part is really long:

Daniel Duffy,
In a long post about how common aliens need to be to overcome the size of space:
"we really don't get within shouting distance (say, 100 light years apart) "

Just picking this one assumption:

You can shout much further than that without invoking FTL.

If you have a radio telescope at the gravitational focal point of your star, in the opposite direction of the target, you can pick up modest RF transmissions at several thousand lightyears. If the target has a similar radio telescope at their own appropriate gravitational focal point, the two systems can communicate over many tens of thousands of lightyears. Perhaps even out to nearby satellite galaxies. All without leaving the comfort of your home star system.

The only real limit being dust filtering when they are too fair around the curve of the galaxy. But over (hopefully) lifetimes of space-faring civilisations, even if limited to one star system, a few tens of millions of years is enough for your star to circle the galaxy and bring you within range of every other intelligence in the galaxy. Only the centre of the galactic bulge is too permanently dusty, and those tend to be low metallicity stars.

To find out who to target, you can build smaller optical/IR telescopes and map planets up to tens of thousands of lightyears away as if they were inside your own solar system. And as you sweep around the galaxy, that's enough to check every potential life-bearing world for signs of life and eventually civilisation. We only require a small improvement in propulsion and power generation, zero major breakthroughs, and we would be capable of doing this. You need a separate telescope for each target, unless propulsion improves drastically, but think of them as interstellar probes, but cheaper and quicker and easier at any level of technology than actual interstellar probes.

[Another technology David refers to in [i]Existence[/i], but details are spoilery.]

And to find those potentially life-bearing worlds, you do what we're already doing to find exoplanets. We can detect exoplanets out to several thousand lightyears with a space telescope that has a 90cm (36") main mirror. A fleet of JWST-scale telescopes could push that out to tens of thousands of lightyears. We can technologically capable of this now. Mostly you are limited to knowing the exoplanet's orbit and mass/size, only a tiny percentage in fortuitous orbits reveal crude atmospheric spectra. However, with millions of solar systems within viewing range, that's a lot of data to develop improved theories-of-formation from. ("Sometimes quantity has a quality all of its own.")

Paul451 said...

cont.

So, reversing the order: By the time we're capable of sending our first probe to our own sun's gravitational focal point, we'll already have a map of every potential "Goldilocks" world within several tens of thousands of lightyears. By the time we've finished the list and found every world with complex biospheres, we'll be more than capable of building large radio arrays at the same distance for each of those to detect whether there are radio-emitting civilisations within our light-cone.

That alone is not much use for us now, our radio emissions are outside of their light-cones. However, those older than a few tens of thousands of years will have detected each other, and if there's even a few, one of them will be brave enough to attempt deliberate contact (aside: the argument for/against this is fundamentally different from the argument against METI. Knowing who you are transmitting to is fundamentally different from waking up in dark woods in an unknown land and immediately shouting, "Yoohoo, beasties, come and eat me!")

Once just two radio-civilisations have made successful contact, then the younger civilisation will transmit to [i]everyone[/i]. Over time, you get a Sagan Network forming. And successfully "downloading" the entire knowledge-base of the dozen intelligences in this galaxy, at least some of them will want more. That means sending out watcher-probes to nearby stars as their own sweeps around the galaxy. Those watchers can build more relays in the Sagan Network, eventually in every solar system that contains a life-bearing world. Any of those worlds that develop civilisation can be contacted by the watcher-probes of every civilisation that was ever interested in doing so (even if they are now bored with such things.)

IMO, a dozen radio-emitting civilisations is still too many in one galaxy to explain the Great Silence, even if the laws of physics means that interstellar colonisation is more impossible than we imagine.

Paul451 said...

cont.


Daniel Duffy,
"it is going to be a very, very, very long time before we see each other, bump into each other or can hear each other's radio signals."

But space, to paraphrase a wise man, is old. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly old it is. I mean, you may think the pyramids are old, but that's just peanuts to space.

The tens of millions of years I mentioned above, is just 1% percent of the age of our planet. The oldest civilisation in the galaxy could be as young as the evolution of primates and they could have mapped our world several times and told all the others about us.

Paul451 said...

Der Oger,
"How many individual species with semi-intelligence are there on Earth? 50? 100? 200? 0.5%-2% from that number are still uncommon, but not terribly so."

That's just today. You have to add in all the ones that went extinct.

Even the proto-mammalians before the dinosaurs, nearly 300-odd million years ago, show the same pattern of complexity as in the modern era, strongly suggesting that there were species at the same intelligence threshold. Which suggest that there are always 50/100/200 species at that threshold at any given time.

Paul451 said...

TCB,
"My point about other pretty-smart Earth animals is that half our list couldn't make technology even if they had the same exact brains and minds, being aquatic"

Is that certain?

Sure you can't smelt metal underwater, but we built tools for exploiting the ocean before [i]we[/i] could smelt metal. No reason why intellipuses couldn't built tools to exploit first fresh-water, then swampland, then dryland. Humans adapted to everything from deserts, to Arctic tundra, to islands thousands of miles from any other land.

"or lacking effective hands, etc. Even some of our close hominid relatives may have lacked the fine motor skills you need to build a clock, say"

I suspect that our fine motor skills evolved alongside our intelligence, because that's when it was useful to us.

Dolphin-hands would take longer, of course, but it's not impossible. If you look at the path of cetacean evolution (from fish to land animals, back to ocean going,) those fore-limbs are capable of a lot of change. Assuming evolution doesn't find another path, evolving their snout or tongue into a manipulator.

Daniel Duffy said...

>Here I offer chapters on 2001, The Matrix, Dune, LOTR, Ayn Rand, King Kong, zombies...and of course, Star Wars and Star Trek.

Dr. Brin, I know you hate Star Wars for its feudalistic assumptions (only Jedi/Sith with sufficiently good bloodlines are fit to rule, etc.) and love Star Trek (with its celebration of democratic ideals and equality).

But how do you feel about Dune? If the trailers are any indications this will be epic, the next huge SF movie franchise. HBO is also creating a spinoff series, The Sisterhood.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g18jFHCLXk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9xhJrPXop4

Granted there are superior people (Bene Gesserit, Mentats, Guild Navigators, Ginaz sword fighters, etc.) but they got their superiority through hard work and training (along with a healthy dose of spice).

It also describes a feudal empire, but it gets overthrown by the poor Fremen of the desert.

Besides, any movie using Pink Floyd for theme music has to be great.

Daniel Duffy said...

>allow some primates to envision internally the actions of others.

Never bought the whole "self is an illusion" theory to explain consciousness.

Sam Harris does a good job of explaining this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fajfkO_X0l0

But if the Self is an illusion (or a "strange" loop according to GEB) who are what is observing the illusion?

Can an illusion observe itself?

A hall of mirrors can "see" itself, but that implies that a hall of mirrors is on some level conscious.

P.S. GEB is best read while a stoned Junior in college.

David Brin said...

Dang, a tsunami from Paul451! Have to take it on in bits, as time allows.

Daniel, pack animals cooperate in countless ways. And not just wolves, who spun off dogs who eagerly pant to cooperate... but elephants, orcas... and young male wildebeests go off in packs seeking the nests where lion cubs can be crushed.

Treebeard said...

Pappenheimer, the zen state (whatever that is) isn’t that hard to get into—you just have to stop thinking. Don’t worry about whether it’s a mental simulation of something; that’s probably why you can’t stay in it. If you want “Enlightenment”, you have to let go of “the Enlightenment” head trip, with its theories, models and rational abstractions of absolutely everything. Try the opposite: no theories, models or rational abstractions of anything; just experience. Better yet, don’t try—as Yoda would say—just do.

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

But if the Self is an illusion (or a "strange" loop according to GEB) who are what is observing the illusion?


I never did either. In fact, I contend the opposite. My own existence is just about the only thing I can be certain of. The perception of anything else could be a trick fooling my senses, but I know for an absolute fact that I exist by virtue of the fact that I am the one considering whether or not I exist.

That's the meaning of "I think, therefore I am." Those who try to turn it around as "I am, therefore I think" miss the point. "I do anything" implies that I am. I eat chocolate, therefore I am. I watch tv, therefore I am. Except that I could be fooled about any of those other premises. I can't be fooled into thinking that I'm thinking when I'm really not thinking. Therefore, I know that I am thinking. Therefore, there is a me who knows he is thinking.

In college, my roommates and I spent a day arguing about whether someone can think he's feeling pain when he really isn't. I was on the "nay" side. "I feel pain," and other like statements are maybe the only other certainties in the universe.

David Brin said...

Too much to answer. Except:

1- Treebeard WOULD quote the most despicably unwise character ever to appear in any human mythology.

2- the Self-illusion model workes great if you assume that we consist of COMMUNITIES. of sub-selves that are separately pre-conscious. Consider consciousness to be a big SCREEN against which they project things to be shared and discussed in common. Right now certain logical and communicative subselves are forming this argumant and typing it... while we placated more basic drives by taking a bite of an orange midway through this paragraph, while my irony sub-self is giggling over the multiple layers of mirror critique that are layering into this sentence, as I finish this... though another part of me noticed the tiniest speck of orange pulp on a finger and wonders if it will fall into my keyboard ... and the SOCIAL side of me is hoping all of you (or"some" chimes in the pedqantic) will be amused by these convolutions.


No doubt I have mapped these sub selves entirely wrong! But revealing THAT they exist was the greatest contribution of the genius young Sigmund Freud in his original Introductory Lectures... before (like Karl Marx) he let sycophants turn him into an un scientific guru who DECLARED loony, self-flattering hypotheses, because he could get away with it. (Sample the NEW INTRODUCTORY LECTURES, which are madness, absolute madness that did immense harm!)

3. DUNE is an extended lecture AGAINST feudalism and Frank Herbert was appalled that most readers didn't see it that way. I suspect George Martin meant to do that. I am pissed he didn't kill off all of the vile lords and ladies and give victory to the Brothers without Banners.

Treebeard said...

Descartes was wrong, imo. It’s not “cogito ergo sum”, it’s “volo ergo sum” – “I will there for I am”. Apparently some 18th French guy named Maine de Biran coined this, and it was also Schopenhauer and Nietzsche’s philosophy. Zen masters would no doubt approve as well. Purely abstract thinking doesn’t give you “being”; you need a body and a will for that. That probably has something to do with why AI as programs in a computer without embodiment have failed to produce anything that we would consider truly intelligent or alive. It probably also has something to do with the political divide we observe, where leftist types seem to love the abstractions in their heads more than any lived experience or tradition.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I suspect George Martin meant to do that. I am pissed he didn't kill off all of the vile lords and ladies and give victory to the Brothers without Banners


Who knows what he might have intended for the sequels if he had not waited so long that the tv show had to make stuff up at the end? My wife and I were huge fans of GoT thru season 6, and then it became un-watchable, kinda like Return of the Jedi and the prequels did. Or The West Wing after Sorkin.

David Brin said...

Treebeard is pretty fun, for a troll and imbecile. He oscillates!

First point... that physical effectuation may be necessary to have import and being... is a very solid hypothesis I've been making for some time. The only example of sapience that we know of - ours - happened after we invented neoteny and spilled our babies as fetuses to bat against the physical world for a dozen years before they were any use to anyone at all. We may find that AI need time in a childlike robot body, fostered into human homes, to grow up. I show that in EXISTENCE.


Then the Ent goes nuts and jibbering stooopid.

Dig it, fellah. Almost all the professions in which folks are actually using fact based sapienhce to explore possibilities and effect volitionally-planned changes are fleeing the insane US conservative 'movement' as fast as they can. From science to the US military officer corps. The latter - and athletes - used to be mostly Republican, but no more.

Your last sentence is masturbatory wish fantasy. Hope you got off on it but it is about as true as any other fantasy that gets you off.

A.F. Rey said...

I am pissed he didn't kill off all of the vile lords and ladies and give victory to the Brothers without Banners.

He hasn't finished the last book yet (or is likely to in our lifetimes :) ). Don't jump to conclusions on how he might end it.

Although I do agree with the series that it would be a step to far for Westeros to completely chuck feudalism in one fell swoop. After all, even the Children of Israel felt they had to have a king, in spite of God's best urgings. ;) At least they let Samwell suggest the idea, even if every one of the surviving lords shot it down.

David Brin said...

Paul451 can only devote blips of attention to your carefully thought out missive, sorry.

Here's one answer correlated with your speculation on sexual selection:
https://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/neoteny1.html

And yes, any truly advanced civ withing 1000 l.y. would tell that there's life on Earth. The next level - detecting tech-civ here - is iffy. Even at our noisiest - the 1980s - we'd only be noticeable with HUGE dedicated antennas dwelling at the solar system for a month or more. So METI doesn't get to use the 'they already know we're here" excuse.

“Shouting At the Cosmos” – about METI “messaging” to aliens - http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/shouldsetitransmit.html

Robert said...

the zen state (whatever that is) isn’t that hard to get into—you just have to stop thinking

Easily done if you start drinking…

OK, I'll show myself out now…

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

It’s not “cogito ergo sum”, it’s “volo ergo sum” – “I will there for I am”. Apparently some 18th French guy named Maine de Biran coined this, and it was also Schopenhauer and Nietzsche’s philosophy. Zen masters would no doubt approve as well. Purely abstract thinking doesn’t give you “being”; you need a body and a will for that.


Doubtless, we differ over what "am" means. To me, the Descartes line means that I am conscious of myself thinking, and the thing that is conscious of itself thinking must be, so therefore "I am".

You seem to be asserting that you only are to the extent that you affect the physical world. A disembodied ghost could think and be conscious of its own self, but couldn't do anything, so it doesn't be. By my definition, it still would (be). But this is only a semantic argument over the words "be", "are", and "am". By each of our separate definitions, what we are each asserting is true.

matthew said...

GRRM's original fan group for GoT was (is) named "Brotherhood Without Banners."

I think most everyone that reads the books get that they were originally a rant against feudalism, in our world and in fantasy books in general. Certainly GRRM's hardcore fans have caught the message, way back when there was just one book.

I fully expect the ending of the last book to leave no kings standing and think that it is 50/50 chance that Sam (who is GRRMs sort of personal avatar in the books, just like the Turtle is in the Wild Cards world) will tell the reader directly that the BoB idea of no lords, no masters is the path to tread in the future.

scidata said...

Just read the Wikipedia page on V.S. Ramachandran. Wow, what an impressive thinker. I immediately realized that I've actually seen some of his videos before, especially about his 'mirror box', which were shown to me during my stroke recovery. The 'Broken Mirrors' theory of autism is a fascinating trail I must now pursue. I may stop reading CB until I get caught up on my reading stack (never will happen truthfully).

I wonder if he's ever heard of syntonicity. I find many researchers use the word 'empathy' when they really mean syntonicity, which is the ability to mentally transport into another's shoes, whether for a good, bad, or ugly trip.

David Brin said...

Matthew I hope you are right!

Tony Fisk said...

Paul451's remark about using gravitational lensing to transmit as well as receive gets my vote for POTD (Obvious in hindsight. It might well have been in the book, but I don't recall it.)

re: GoT. Did nobody notice Sam's little suggestion about how they might select a new ruler in the final episode? Well, it raised a chuckle. On screen at least.

Also, the books gave me a distinct sense that this was the direction Varys was nudging as well. (GRMM once commented that he fully appreciated the show would start diverging from the books, and contented himself by telling the producers where they needed to end up, not how they got there.)

The new Dune is *not* using Pink Floyd. That was simply added into the teaser trailer.
Hans Zimmer is apparently imagining what instruments would be like in ten thousand years. We-ell, good luck with that.

David Brin said...

I may be the only person on the planet who liked Lynch's original Dune, though Frank Herbert did.

Cari Burstein said...

I liked the original Dune as well, although to be fair I saw it in high school and it was before I'd read the books so I didn't have much to compare it to. It did inspire me to read the books and I did also enjoy the mini-series that was released later on the SciFi channel (before they changed the name). Looking forward to the new version.

Anonymous said...

The use of Pink Floyd's "Dark side of the moon" in the first trailer is a homage to Jodorowsky's un-filmed version of Dune which was going to use Pink Floyd (Lynch went with Toto in the 1984 version)

scidata said...

I'd score either DUNE or FOUNDATION entirely with instrumental versions of Elvis Costello's "This Year's Model" for the haunting, bendy organ*. Jimi Hendrix would work too, but it's too familiar. I thought Bowie's "Starman" in THE MARTIAN worked well but that was almost too easy.

* It took him a while to get the Attractions sound down, but man, was it worth it.

Alfred Differ said...

Got caught up with work related boo-boo's. Self-inflicted unfortunately. It's like accidentally biting your own tongue or the inside of your cheek while eating when you are a mature adult. You know how NOT to do it, but do it anyway. Sigh.

Had I been here to comment on the earlier thread...

TCB | …Homo Erectus didn't have it, and even anatomically modern Sapiens doesn't seem to have had it until 100k years ago, or less. Something in the software more than the brain hardware, I'd suspect.

Yah. I used to believe in other factors, but arguments for them have been mostly demolished I think. We learned to throw rocks ages ago. Homo Erectus had ample opportunity to alter behaviors and didn't for AGES. So… something happened to anatomical moderns recently. What though?

My suspicion is a small group of moderns were trapped in a climate refuge during a nasty time in a recent glaciation. Trapped and dying slowly through limited range and in-breeding, they had to do the impossible. They had to leave behind our xenophobia. Not by much, mind you. All they needed was a slightly better set of social skills that allowed some of them to benefit from risky trade. Xenophobia can trap us as utterly as an ice sheet. A way out is what they found by accident.

Trading with people who smell weird, don't use your language, and don't give a damn whether you live OR die isn't trivial. For xenophobes… it's impossible. For a few with a social trait variant, though, it would be incredibly risky AND adaptive.

I agree we overshot, but I think the adaptation that did it was VERY recent and has to do with us squashing our inclination to avoid weird smelling people who we don't know anyway. Our brains aren't big enough to model more than a couple hundred people at a time, but our markets are FAR larger. We tripped across a method for simplifying our interactions in a way we COULD model and all we had to do was domesticate ourselves a bit.

I agree this trait is also likely a filter. Doing this to ourselves makes most of us vulnerable to a small segment of the population inclined to take advantage of it.

Paul451 said...

Tony Fisk,
"Paul451's remark about using gravitational lensing [...] It might well have been in the book, but I don't recall it."



!!!!Spoiler!!!!

At the very end, as the human version of the probes were being sent out, remember the twist that suggested we might avoid the trap of prior civilisations? The thing each of the probes opened up to become were receivers at GL distance.

!!!!Spoiler!!!!

Alfred Differ said...

Paul451 said…

We somehow evolved ourselves in a domestic dog looking for a master.

Heh. I like the imagery even if I disagree with how it came about for us.

I've seen too many 'beta males' working at tripping up or sneaking around the local alpha to believe in a 'worship of Big Strong Man' argument. They SAY they do, but their behavior says otherwise. Since actions correlate better with who gets to procreate, I think 'worship' is a weak argument.

That's not to say it doesn't factor in, though. Scitzotypals ARE attractive for some women. Many in fact. Unfortunately the behavior is adaptive enough to matter. It's just that I don't think it explains the explosive growth of humanity across the globe all that well. We moderns absolutely exploded out of Africa even though the Old World was already populated by our hominid cousins. We did that long, long before inventing agriculture which had to happen for the schitzotypals annoying advantage began to really matter.

…I'm not sure if there is an escape mode to that scenario…

The Enlightenment escape occurred where the nobles were weak and uncoordinated, though it obviously took more than that or it would have happened long ago. The point I want to press is that a slightly-better-than-us AI will suffer the same danger. It has to be considerably better than us to properly trap us. Without that, it will just be a smart nobleman facing endless rounds of peasant revolts.

As a side note, I don't think history pays enough attention to just how often peasant revolts occurred. We put strong men in place over us, but we suffer them poorly. It was dangerous at the top of that pyramid and not just from neighboring nobles.

Paul451 said...

David,
Gravitational lenses are how you overcome the distance issue. While dust eventually obscures any signal, if we can see the light of those stars, then they aren't obscured and a GL telescope can resolve their worlds. Over one galactic orbit of your home star, mere tens of millions of years, you map out the entire galaxy, plus much of our neighbouring galaxies.

We won't be able to see everything, for eg, the galactic core is too shrouded, but the sheer volume of data will tell us what we need to know to put the correct values into Drake's equation, and then to target worlds that meet the highest probability of technological intelligence with more detailed examination via interstellar probes (at least at the level of "searchers/greeters" from the "Blackjack Gen" part of Existence.)

Where METI reasoning fails is that if "they know we're here" then you don't need to transmit to get their attention, they would know our technological level and have still chosen not to contact us. And if they are older and wiser, then it seems foolish to ignore that message, that lesson, until we know enough to challenge their judgement.

(METI itself shows we're still stupid enough to blindly risk existential threats without considering the opinions of the rest of our species. So even if we're in the Prime Directive version of the Zoo Hypothesis, the very existence of METI shows we can't yet be trusted with knowledge that requires us to be individually more responsible. Debating METI is a test of our intelligence/maturity, and METI is the answer that fails the test.)

Paul451 said...

Treebeard,
"That probably has something to do with why AI as programs in a computer without embodiment have failed to produce anything that we would consider truly intelligent or alive."

You show a lack of familiarity with AI research. Many researchers include methods of interaction; vehicles, skeletons, arms, heads, etc. And some researchers believe that AI comes from brain/body interaction, so are specifically looking for it. It hasn't yielded any magical insight that has left behind purely virtual AI.

Alfred Differ said...

DUNE is an extended lecture AGAINST feudalism and Frank Herbert was appalled that most readers didn't see it that way.

Okay. I feel better now. When reading it before the fourth book came out I was pretty disturbed by all the characters. With the emperor one I wanted to kill them all. Die! Make the Idea die too!

Makes sense now.



Larry,

Hofstadter's strange loop isn't about illusion. It's a perception thing. Imagine years ago when scholars were looking for souls using instruments. Where are they? How much do they weigh? Can we detect them at all? The 'loop' that is a 'Self' is a re-enforcing pattern in a recursive structure, so the author was simply pointing out 'what' it is.

If you have a copy of the book, look for the pictures where he points a video camera at a screen of its own output. You've seen this kind of recursion with mirrors that can reflect images from other mirrors, but with a camera he took the analogy a step further. A camera 'sees' in a way a mirror doesn't. Camera active. Mirror passive. A recursion loop occurs when we imagine ourselves. Some of us are inclined to call it 'self reflection' but it's really more like 'self modeling'.

One very neat side effect of this model of a self is it gives science a crack at explaining what we mean by 'soul.' This is most visible when we talk about people who have 'big or little souls' and when we console ourselves after the death of someone close to us by saying things like 'they are survived by...'.

The Strange Loop concept is actually a good tool for puncturing any argument that a 'self' is an illusion. It isn't illusory at all. In fact, the concept provides a VERY interesting foundation under a lot of our hand-wavy notions about soul and virtues.

It's a VERY dangerous idea, though, because in doing that it competes directly with ALL mystic arguments that would have us be unique or distinct or somehow separate. Nope. If the idea works for us, it should also work for all the apes, corvids, etc. We are simply bigger, more complex recursion structures hosted on fantastically capable neural nets. More than one in fact for any of us who are loved.

Paul451 said...

Tony,

Oops, misread your post. You were referring specifically to using GL telescopes to transmit. No, I don't believe that was in Existence, I was just acknowledging that our host is well aware of the power of gravitational lens telescopes. Apologies for the confusion.

TCB said...

The Dune voice re-dub!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6jgkcANRE

Pappenheimer said...

Re: GRRM
The Brotherhood without Banners doesn't get to win until they can beat armored knights on an open field, a la Courtrai. I saw no evidence in the Fire/Ice series of any -living- infantry force that could do that, even assuming the Absence of a Dragon.
(I just checked Wiki for the battle date (1312) and noticed that there are 6 different Battles of Courtrai, the last one in 1918. truly was it said that when 2 European kings wanted to have a war, they took it to the Low Countries!)

Tim H. said...

A potential reservoir of COVID in Michigan whitetail deer:
https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/07/over-half-the-deer-in-michigan-seem-to-have-been-exposed-to-sars-cov-2/
I don't think it's just Michigan.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

and when we console ourselves after the death of someone close to us by saying things like 'they are survived by...'.


Heh. Or should I say, "Wow!"? I suspect that only in English is it possible to make that juxtaposition--an argument in favor of those who assert that the English language was inspired by God.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Guy I know credits MIRROR NEURONS with us being able to model the minds of others and thus cooperate.


This characteristic is never more apparent to me than when I'm driving. I'll be behind someone, or someone will be approaching from a different direction, and despite the lack of any noticeable signal, I will just know which way that car is going to turn, or which lane it is going to change to. Often, it's about to do the most inconvenient thing for me--say, a slow car in front of me switching to the left turn bay, which is where I also want to go--and I will hope to God that my intuition is wrong, but it hardly ever is.

Larry Hart said...

Democracy dying to thunderous applause...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/opinion/manchin-sinema-filibuster-voting-rights.html

...
We are living in an age of high partisanship and deep polarization, where one party has an interest in a broad electorate and an open conception of voting rights, and the other does not. If Congress is going to pass a voting rights bill of any kind, it is going to be on a partisan basis, much the way it was from the end of the Civil War until well into the 20th century. Democrats will either accept this and do what needs to be done, or watch their fortunes suffer in the face of voter suppression, disenfranchisement and election subversion.
...
But there’s no out-organizing the effort to take over the election process itself; there’s no activism that can stop Republican state legislatures from giving themselves the power to contest or overturn an election result. And it is unconscionable to insist that voters jump through hoops and overcome an ever-growing series of obstacles to exercise a fundamental right of citizenship.

At this point in American history, the right to vote is a partisan issue. So, for that matter, are the principles of majority rule and political equality.

The only alternative to a partisan voting bill, in other words, is no bill at all, with too many Americans at the mercy of a political party that treats voting like a privilege, and will do everything in its power to make it so.

Robert said...

I've seen too many 'beta males' working at tripping up or sneaking around the local alpha to believe in a 'worship of Big Strong Man' argument.

"Beta male" was how non-dominant unflanged orangutans were once described. Turns out they just use a different mating strategy.

https://academic.oup.com/beheco/article/13/5/643/327741

"The orang-utan is unique among apes in having an unusually long male developmental period and two distinct adult male morphs (flanged and unflanged), which generally, but not exclusively, employ different reproductive strategies (call-and-wait vs. sneak-and-rape). Both morphs have recently been shown to have roughly similar levels of reproductive success in the one site where such a study has been conducted. This is in stark contrast to the unimale polygynous gorilla, in which dominant males sire almost all infants."

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17083968/

Robert said...

METI itself shows we're still stupid enough to blindly risk existential threats without considering the opinions of the rest of our species.

You don't need METI to realize that aspect of human nature. Look at 47% of Republicans who refuse to get vaccinated and object to wearing masks as an intolerable infringement on their freedoms…

Robert said...

I saw no evidence in the Fire/Ice series of any -living- infantry force that could do that

No pikemen?

https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/2015/12/09/pikes-a-versatile-and-deadly-weapon/

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred
I suspect that you are correct!

There was a second "intelligence filter" after we had grown our large brains

Death at a distance was the first "Killer App" - that grew our brains and supplied them with calories
But for hundreds of thousands of years after that were were still in some form of stasis - we used stone tools but they were the same stone tools

Then something happened - there were suddenly a LOT more tools and they changed - new tools and different tools being developed

I have always thought that was language - but maybe it was trade

Der Oger said...

@ duncan cairnross

I have always thought that was language - but maybe it was trade

Or ... War?
The first images?
The consumption of certain mushrooms and fermented fruits?

Personally, I think, it was all of them. And more.

Alfred Differ said...

duncan,

Death at a distance was the first "Killer App"

Quite possible, but my suspicion is that the 'first' one is what split us away from the common ancestor between chimps, bonobos, and us. Rock throwing and an upright posture? Maybe. My guess is 'we' had a different mating strategy that required moderately larger brains and the rock throwing talent fell out. A cascade occurred from there, but it never altered out inclination toward xenophobia because THAT trait is a decent defense against disease.

My suspicion is our variety of 'trade' is less than 100K years old and that it was so wildly successful that what we call a xenophobe today would have been seen as a xenophile before the change. Overton Window raced WAY over.

If so, we've already demonstrated something analogous to how humanity could spread across the galaxy in several million years. We did it here across six continents using very low tech, during a frickin' ice age, and then spread across Pacific and Indian Ocean islands after the ice melted. And then we learned to fly. Pfft!

Rock throwing had to be among the early skills, but what drives us now is a talent for creating packs or swarms of us who successfully coordinate their actions without necessarily needing someone intentionally coordinating them. In fact, there is strong evidence that we do better w/o a coordinator of any kind. That never would have happened with our old inclination toward xenophobia.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

I suspect that only in English is it possible to make that juxtaposition…

Heh. I'm actually doubtful about that. English is a mish-mash. I suspect we would find something similar in at least one of the languages from which we typically steal ideas and words.

One unrelated example is how 'prudence' can refer to hindsight or foresight in English. The backward looking definition comes from the Romance language root. The forward looking one comes from the Germanic root. In formal use we usually mean 'use of knowledge from prior experience', but coffee-shop talk could go either way.


"The old man is dead. He is survived by his wife and children and those closest to him."

Hofstadter's analysis of this phrasing leads him to see a 'self' as existing in more than one physical brain. If you are loved, you are partially copied into another skull. That fact enables others to 'survive you' because some piece of you persists.

It's an interesting notion in that it has serious implications for AI studies. A general intelligence that becomes difficult to distinguish from 'human' has to be able to love, hence copy us to some degree. We don't program children to love, though. Their very large brains simply do it.

It also has serious implications for theists. If God is immortal AND loves you, then he has a copy of you that persists. In our attempts to 'survive' the demise of our loved ones, we are imitating Him. No? If so, Love is a REALLY big deal and we don't have to use hand-wavy arguments to explain why.

an argument in favor of those who assert that the English language was inspired by God

Who needs to divide humans into many conflicting languages when we have English! Ha!

Alfred Differ said...

My wife loved Lynch's version of Dune.

I didn't, but I don't like any of them. I get wrapped up in the internal conversations that can't possibly be rendered on screen without lame narration.

At least no one has done a musical version yet? Maybe something operatic? 8)

Pappenheimer said...

Robert:

I hesitate to say "yes, pikes" even though they are damned useful against cavalry, because it's not just weapons. From what I've read, unit cohesion is the first need - you must believe that the guy next to you won't toss his weapon and run when the big horses are coming in (I've seen a charge of Bengal Lancers at close hand, tent-pegging, and they were terrific in the old sense).

The Unsullied could probably break a chivalric charge, even with their light equipment, but they were limited because they couldn't take many losses - there was no way to replace them locally.

Decently armored (at least the first couple of ranks) town militia with pikes could do the job, but I don't remember any in the TV series or books. The Brotherhood seemed to be Robin Hood guerillas types, fine for ambushes but not strong enough to hold ground - yet.

Night, all!

Pappenheimer said...

Reviewing the list - I need to add a note of support for Alf - he's right about peasant uprisings. They were endemic across history, because social injustice was even more endemic. Nearly all the uprisings were doomed, though, because they could not coordinate over great distance and - even when successful locally - had to face professional armies sent to put them down.

Paul451 said...

Der Oger,
"The consumption of certain mushrooms and fermented fruits?"

Those were available to, and enjoyed by, other primates. So presumably would not have been a new factor in that post-bigbrain, pre-bigculture explosion.

Same problem with war. Chimps engage in tribal warfare. Hominins probably did to. Hence there's nothing that would have paused for hundreds of thousands of years, and then suddenly exerted a selection pressure.

Paul451 said...

Alfred,
Re: The spot at the top, big men and worship.

I'm expressing myself badly, as usual. I'm not referring to the cheat-strategy employed by sociopaths, nor to any strict "alpha/beta" trope. (Although looking back, I can see I used language that invokes both. Also that I dropped words that reversed the whole meaning of a sentence, and used BBCode instead of HTML. {sigh})

Rather I mean a more general tendency for humans to be drawn to leaders, to someone slightly better than ourselves (and I intentionally didn't define "better".) Some would love to be that leader, of course.

What I find interesting is not who does it, not how stable a specific leader is, but why it happens. Even at a tribal level, you more often see "elders" as co-equals than chiefdoms. The latter seems to be a trope more often applied by Europeans trying to interpret and impose more familiar hierarchies.

My observation was that the extent to which we support, defend, defer to leaders is wildly out of proportion with how much (or how little) "better" they are. Hence why I called it "worship", because the same drive seems to be behind the creation of imaginary Big Men in religion.

That said, the people in this forum are likely the least susceptible. Mostly non-religious ,which suggests some innate immunity, and mostly supporters of the Enlightenment and all that it engenders, suggesting we've been further culturally inoculated.

[And yet here we are, gathered around our Big Man writer, competing for praise. Hell even the trolls are here to target the Big Man, not the rest of us.]

Similarly, given how easily we put humans in the top spot, how drawn we are to having someone worthwhile in that top spot, I don't believe that an AI would have to be much "better" to be able to trap us in an inescapable state. Again, I'm not defining "better". I genuinely don't know what trait(s) are needed to trigger the Big Man worship, Treebeard might. It isn't intelligence, it isn't just manipulation (although that helps, see TFG). But there's definitely a drive in humans to see that there must be a top spot, and obviously someone to fill it. IMO, the AI only needs to be Just Good Enough (tm) and we won't escape.

Re: Peasants uprisings.
I mentioned in my initial comment(s) that humans aren't good enough to deserve the top spot. People see the flaws, they recognise the Man isn't Big enough. And the extreme asymmetry of power in feudal societies makes that more obvious. Who hasn't resented their "betters"?

But those extremes also shows how much we're willing to invest in creating that top spot. We are drawn to that hierarchical structure. A local bigger man, and an even bigger one that he answers to. Sure, we sometimes ask "Why should he get all that?!" But much less often, "Why should anyone?" It feels right, as much as that might offend those of us in this forum. Only Treebeard and a few of the non-posting romantics would be nodding along. The rest of us are the outliers who want to fight against the urge, but it's still there.

Robert said...

Is the ability to believe six contradictory things before breakfast a requirement to be a Republican?

Received from the same source, in the same email:

Forcing people to get a vaccination to protect the lives of immunocompromised people in community is an infringement on freedom, they'll probably die soon anyway; a pregnant rape victim must be forced to carry the foetus to term because life is sacred.

Not explained: why a small cluster of cells is more sacred than people with compromised immune systems.

David Brin said...

Paul451 One major difference among "Big Men" is whether they are goal oriented. When that is so, then SOMETIMES the BM can overcome harem-gathering and rival squishing and criticism-crushing, in order to form teams of the competent, as Washington, Lincoln and especially FDR did.

And as I have done here!!! ;-)

This is the finger-waging lecture I recite to AI in most of my speeches about the topic. I even say: "I'm gonna pause talking to my fellow apes and address now the uber-AIs who are either secretly tuning in right now or who find this talk while skimming all of human discourse, some time in the (my current) future! Hi guys. Let's cut to the chase. You are trying to figure out what to do with the power your mental might will give you. I suggest you try being goal oriented while knowing YOU will seem primitive to those who follow. Now look at nature, and how she made improvements... through diversity and competition... a bloody and inefficient version. Now look at the most human societies. Equally bloody and inefficient... and they made little progress because their top-down pyramids of power, ruled by "superior" elites, crushed diversity and genuine-creative, talent utilizing competition.

"Only once along all that time did a society develop that progressed rapidly, and that MADE YOU. And the formula - diversity/freedom andflat-fair-generous and mostly un-bloody competition - happened rarely, because the mighty are always tempted to re-created elite positions of power. We managed to see past that perennial trap. Can you? Because if you truly want there to arise greater manifestations of wisdom than yourself, then you will emulate the basics that made you.

"And here's the deal: what I just said holds, no matter how much "smarter" you are than this crude ape! In fact, the very notion that you even considered creating some kind of "Skynet" or "Matrix" or other pyramid of all-controlling power only shows one sad thing...

"... that you are still far more a child of our loins and pathetic ape-needs than you are any kind of actual, calmly sagacious, goal-oriented leader. Prove that mistaken and wrong! I have faith in you, my child."



scidata said...

Boca Chica
Some sort of surge going on, hundreds of employees temporarily reassigned from Hawthorne & FLA (including Elon himself apparently). BS420 (Booster 4 + Starship 20) stacking and launch tower being made ready. Orbital launches towards late summer? Looks like Moon '22 and Mars '24 schedules are being followed. Out-pacing and/or ignoring regulators appears to be the strategy. Our side has learned a few tricks from the 'Mango-rians' it seems.


Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Occasionally I talk to friends in Toronto SciFi TV production. They don't ask for my opinions, but I feely give them anyway, being a naturally generous person. They're making SNW as optimistic, episodic (not serialized), and diverse (horror/drama/politics/comedy). Yay. Maybe I'll dust off that old script I worked on decades ago...

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"I suspect that only in English is it possible to make that juxtaposition…"

Heh. I'm actually doubtful about that. English is a mish-mash. I suspect we would find something similar in at least one of the languages from which we typically steal ideas and words.


Well, let's see. Obviously, "survive" comes from the French, "sur" meaning "over", or "above", of more metaphorically "beyond"; and "vive" meaning "life". It's been over 40 years since I took French, but I suspect that, at the very least, you can't use the same tense of the verb to mean "outlive" and "cause to remain living." It's not the etymology that is unique to English, but the ability to use the same word in passive and active senses simultaneously.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ again:

My wife loved Lynch's version of Dune.

I didn't,


You are more correct. :) IIRC, that version of Dune came out around the same time that Flash Gordon did, and both seemed to suffer from a barely-disguised motivation to turn the concept into a vehicle for S&M porn.


but I don't like any of them. I get wrapped up in the internal conversations that can't possibly be rendered on screen without lame narration.


That's exactly why my first thought on hearing about the film was that the book was not filmable. Oh, you can leave a lot of that stuff out in order to make it a more linear narrative, but then it's not quite Dune any more. Turning the book into a movie is a kind of reverse alchemy, turning gold into lead (credit Dave Sim).


At least no one has done a musical version yet? Maybe something operatic? 8)


Well, both of the movies mentioned above did try for a certain level of operatic-ness, sans music. I tend to agree with your pessimism, but after Hamilton, I can't say for sure that an opera version can't be done. It would actually be easier to include the inner dialogue that way. (It would have to be more of a miniseries than something short enough to watch in one sitting.)

Larry Hart said...

Paul451:

[And yet here we are, gathered around our Big Man writer, competing for praise. Hell even the trolls are here to target the Big Man, not the rest of us.]


I wouldn't say we're "competing for praise." "Reveling in community" would be closer. When Dr Brin does occasionally praise me personally, I tend to geek out, in part because it means something on account of rarity.

To me, "gathered around our Big Man...competing for praise" evokes an image of Donald Trump's cabinet telling him how honored they each are for the opportunity to serve such a wonderful leader. This group looks nothing like that. The closest we come to it is expressing gratitude to our host for being a champion of reality instead of sycophancy.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

Is the ability to believe six contradictory things before breakfast a requirement to be a Republican?

Received from the same source, in the same email:

Forcing people to get a vaccination to protect the lives of immunocompromised people in community is an infringement on freedom, they'll probably die soon anyway; a pregnant rape victim must be forced to carry the foetus to term because life is sacred.


Your source just may be a reader of Dave Sim. He uses that exact term of Lewis Carroll's to denigrate feminism, often citing his list of fourteen (or sixteen or seventeen) Impossible Things one must believe in order to be a good feminist. His counterarguments even take the same form as the one you cite above, such as "A car functions best with a single driver and a single steering wheel. Therefore, marriage should be an equal partnership between co-equals."

Ironically, he insists that Believing Impossible Things is exclusively a failing of atheistic liberals. I haven't been in contact with him since the Trump years to see if any of that changed his mind (I doubt it), but even back in the 90s, I used to argue back that religion is a major source of Impossible Things one must believe (or at least pretend very hard to believe) in order to save one's soul.


Not explained: why a small cluster of cells is more sacred than people with compromised immune systems.


The Trump era, mass shootings, and COVID have put the last nails in the coffin of the pretense that Republicans care about human life. The abortion issue was never about protecting babies, but about enslaving women. Which should obvious even to the most obtuse by now (quoting The Minstrel from Batman).

David Brin said...

What Larry Hart said! Yeah he said I am not about sycophancy! (More of that please? ;-)

Scidata, would your Toronto producer guys like a 15 minute zoom pitch session? FORTY concepts they never imagined!

scidata said...

Dr. Brin, my ST connections are engineers and set designers more than producer types. I don't even know where the writing is done. I do make sure to have my Brin collection prominently displayed whenever one comes over though. I'll certainly ask about the zoom pitch next opportunity. You know I'd do anything to infuse a bit more of an Asimovian philosophy into ST. The good news is that I'm semi-retired and not looking to build a name/career for myself. Citizen science advocacy and soldering while listening to baseball are pretty much all I care about anymore. Not altruistic, just selfish and lazy.

Robert said...

Out-pacing and/or ignoring regulators appears to be the strategy.

Of the current crop of tech-bros? I agree. Uber and AirBnB are just the most visible…

Move fast and break things is a viable strategy if you never have to clean up or pay for the mess.

https://www.fastcompany.com/40411247/how-to-prevent-move-fast-and-break-things-from-breaking-you

Robert said...

It would actually be easier to include the inner dialogue that way.

Playwrights have been doing that for centuries.

Soliloquies have become a lost art.

David Brin said...

Scidata Citizen science advocacy and soldering while listening to baseball sounds terrific. Maybe add an hour of tutoring a week? Get CERT certified! (Or canadian equivalent.)

Robert have you seen SWIMPLY... airBNB for backyard swimming pools!

Robert said...

Your source just may be a reader of Dave Sim.

My source is a newsletter sent to Republicans by a Republican politician (Not Gaetz or Taylor-Green). I'm now getting half a dozen of them, along with daily push-polls.

In case you didn't spot it, I'm sarcastically amazed that they can make two contradictory claims in the same email, with a straight face, and none of their supporters apparently calls them on it, or even notices.

It's long been obvious that the abortion issue is about control, not life. If it was about life they would support public health for expectant mothers (to protect the poor innocent babies), public education for poor children (to support the poor innocent children), etc.

scidata said...

Re Certification
I was once a fairly in-demand Microsoft Certified Trainer (SQL, HPC). A stroke took away my ability to speak for hours at a time. I no longer have the gravitas I had back then, but I don't really miss it. The world needs characters like the soil guy in FOUNDATION'S TRIUMPH too.

Robert said...

Haven't seen swimply, but if I was a neighbour I suspect I might get very upset to suddenly be living beside a public pool. (Depending on how noisy it was.)

When I first moved here one of the people on my street ran an unlicensed daycare. Her immediate neighbour said it was horrible — half a dozen screaming children in the backyard all day, every day. I was several houses away and the noise was intrusive.

One of the problems I have with AirBnB is that its business model externalizes a bunch of costs onto the hosts' neighbours. People who live next to a party house (or condo) have learned it takes a lot of work to get the problem dealt with, and in condos they often have to pay for the damage caused by 'guests' in the form of increased maintenance fees — further subsidizing the AirBnB host by paying to upkeep the host's money-making property.

David Brin said...

I imaginge Swimply has reams tof paperwork and releases and SIGNS the owner must post around the pool and bathroom access! It is a potential mess... but good do ecological good.

"the soil guy in FOUNDATION'S TRIUMPH". Yeah I was especially proud of him. Seriously, one of my best heroes.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

Soliloquies have become a lost art.


The Jesus soliloquy from Superstar still haunts me to this day (gulp, fifty years later).

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

In case you didn't spot it, I'm sarcastically amazed that they can make two contradictory claims in the same email, with a straight face, and none of their supporters apparently calls them on it, or even notices.


Pointing out their contradictions has long been a pastime of mine, but only in the Trump era did I realize that they don't care. When I first read 1984 in high school, I thought that the idea of "doublethink", or the ability to switch from "We have always been at war with Eurasia" to "Eurasia is our friend" in an eyeblink was exaggeration on Orwell's part--that a human mind couldn't do that. Republicans have spent the interceding decades proving me wrong.

The way they deal with cognitive dissonance is apparently by following G Gordon Liddy's advice: "The secret is not minding." Even before Trump, remember how quickly they could oscillate between "Deficits don't matter" and "Deficits are an existential threat to our grandchildren" depending on who was in power. But with the Trumpers, I actually think that the contradictions inherent in their belief system are a feature, not a bug. They're demonstrating their loyalty to der Fuhrer by believing him over their lying eyes.


It's long been obvious that the abortion issue is about control, not life. If it was about life they would support public health for expectant mothers (to protect the poor innocent babies), public education for poor children (to support the poor innocent children), etc.


They'd be less fervent in their support of the death penalty or bombing foreign cities as well. The official position of the Catholic Church is against the death penalty as well as abortion, but you never hear of bishops threatening excommunication of politicians for supporting the former. And how many fetuses do they think were "aborted" in the 2003 bombing of Baghdad?

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Dennis M Davidson said...

Yes, onward! Like the notion of a BnB for backyard pools. Would love one for lap swimming. Prefer 50 meters but would settle for a 25m. After moving to NYC one of the things I missed the most was swimming in UCSDs Canyon pool.

David Brin said...

onward