Saturday, October 09, 2021

Gravitational waves, Snowball Earth ... and more science!

Let's pause in our civil war ructions to glance yet again at so many reasons for confidence. On to revelations pouring daily from the labs of apprentice Creators!

== How cool is this? ==

Kip Thorne and his colleagues already achieved wonders with LIGO, detecting gravitational waves, so well that it’s now a valuable astronomical telescope studying black holes and neutron stars. But during down time (for upgrades) scientists took advantage of the laser+mirrors combo to ‘chill’. “They cooled the collective motion of all four mirrors down to 77 nanokelvins, or 77-billionths of a kelvin, just above absolute zero.” Making it “ a fantastic system to study decoherence effects on super-massive objects in the quantum regime.”

“…the next step for the team would be to test gravity’s effect on the system. Gravity has not been observed directly in the quantum realm; it could be that gravity is a force that only acts on the classical world. But if it does exist in quantum scales, a cooled system in LIGO—already an extremely sensitive instrument—is a fantastic place to look,” reports Isaac Schultz in Gizmodo

And while we're talking quantum, a recent experiment in Korea made very interesting discoveries re: wave/particle duality in double slit experiments that quantifies the “degree” of duality, depending on the source. 

All right, that's bit intense, but something for you quantum geeks. 

== And… cooler? ==

700 million years ago, Australia was located close to the equator. Samples, newly studied, show evidence that ice sheets extended that far into the tropics at this time, providing compelling evidence that Earth was completely covered in an icy shell, during the biggest Iceball Earth phase, also called (by some) the “Kirschvink Epoch.” So how did life survive?

The origins of complex life: Certain non-oxidized, iron rich layers appear to retain evidence for the Earth’s orbital fluctuations from that time.  Changes in Earth's orbit allowed the waxing and waning of ice sheets, enabling periodic ice-free regions to develop on snowball Earth. Complex multicellular life is now known to have originated during this period of climate crisis."Our study points to the existence of ice-free 'oases' in the snowball ocean that provided a sanctuary for animal life to survive arguably the most extreme climate event in Earth history", according to Dr. Gernon of the University of Southampton, co-author of the study.

== Okay it doesn’t get cooler… Jet suits! == 

Those Ironman style jet suits are getting better and better!  Watch some fun videos showcasing the possibilities - from Gravity Industries.  The story behind these innovative jet suits is told in a new book, Taking On Gravity: A Guide to Inventing the Impossible, by Richard Browning, a real-life Tony Stark.

== Exploring the Earth ==

A fascinating paper dives into the SFnal question of “what-if” – specifically if we had been as stupid about the Ozone Layer as we are re climate change. The paper paints a dramatic vision of a scorched planet Earth without the Montreal Protocol, what they call the "World Avoided". This study draws a new stark link between two major environmental concerns - the hole in the ozone layer and global warming – and how the Montreal Accords seem very likely to have saved us from a ruined Earth.

Going way, way back, the Mother of Modern Gaia Thought – after whom I modeled a major character in Earth – the late Lynn Margulis, has a reprinted riff in The Edge – “Gaia is a Tough Bitch" - offering insights into the kinds of rough negotiations between individuals and between species that must have led to us. Did eukaryotes arise when a large cell tried and failed to eat a bacterium? Or when a bacterium entering a large cell to be a parasite settled down instead to tend our ancestor like a milk cow? The latter seems slightly more likely!

Not long after that, (in galactic years) some eukaryotes joined to form the first animals – sponges – and now there are signs this may have happened 250M years earlier that previously thought, about 890 Mya, before the Earth’s atmosphere was oxygenated and surviving through the Great Glaciation “Snowball Earth” events of the Kirschvink Epoch.

Even earlier!  Day length on Earth has not always been 24 hours. “When the Earth-Moon system formed, days were much shorter, possibly even as short as six hours. Then the rotation of our planet slowed due to the tug of the moon’s gravity and tidal friction, and days grew longer. Some researchers also suggest that Earth’s rotational deceleration was interrupted for about one billion years, coinciding with a long period of low global oxygen levels. After that interruption, when Earth’s rotation started to slow down again about 600 million years ago, another major transition in global oxygen concentrations occurred.” 

This article ties it in to oxygenization of the atmosphere, because cyanobacteria need several hours of daylight before they can really get to work, making oxygen, which puts them at a disadvantage when days are short. Hence, when days got longer, they were able to really dig in and pour out the stuff. Hence our big moon may have helped oxygenate the atmosphere.

I have never been as big fan of the Rare Earth hypotheses for the Fermi Paradox and especially the Big Moon versions, which speculate some kinda lame mechanisms. But this one sorta begins to persuade. It suggests the galaxy may be rife with planets filled with microbes, teetering on the edge of the rich oxygen breakout we had a billion years ago.

A Brief Welcome to the Universe: A Pocket Sized Tour: a new book from Neil deGrasse Tyson and astrophysicists J. Richard Gott and Michael Strauss - an enthusiastic exploration of the marvels of the cosmos, from our solar system to the outer frontiers of the universe and beyond.

Uchuu (outer space in Japanese) is the largest simulation of the cosmos to date - a virtual universe, which can be explored in space and time, zooming in and out to view galaxies and clusters, as well as forward and backward in time, like a time machine.

== On to Physics ==

A gushy and not always accurate article nevertheless is worth skimming, about Google Research finding “time crystals,” which can flip states without using energy or generating entropy, and hence possible useful in quantum computing. 


David Brin said...

The blog says 'Certain non-oidized, iron rich layers appear to retain evidence for the Earth’s orbital fluctuations from that time.' Did I mean non-oxidized... um, of course.

Tim H. said...

I found this interesting:

A discussion of a craft built to gather data from the heliopause and near interstellar space to build on the data from the long lived Voyagers. first, a lot more velocity, so everything can still have power when it reaches the heliopause.

David Brin said...

There is way serious talk about missions to the soalr g-lens points beyond 550 au. Including a baseline mission at NIAC.

scidata said...

Re: g-lens at 550au

The probe would only be at the focal point for a short time, but that might be enough to rewrite the book of astronomy. A real Tower of Babel moment.

duncan cairncross said...

Re- the comment about the earths day length
So todays bacteria - evolved for a 24 hour day - are late starters
Which is like saying that now I'm retired and I get up late then I could not get up early when I was working
That logic is full of holes!
Along with a shorter day you get a shorter night
Remember this is small quick living beasties we are talking about - an hour is several generations to these things

Earths rotation
I can understand the slow increase in day length over a few billion years - but there is simply no mechanism for a rapid change in day length - the inertias involved are HUGE

Tim H. said...

I suppose a gravitational lens might be about where an Alderson point would be, if there was such a thing. There was something else at Centauri dreams that had a whiff of Sci Fi intruding on real life:

If the memory of Jerry Pournelle gets our attention, why not that of Arthur C. Clarke?

David Brin said...

scidata in fact the focal ‘point” only begins at 550 au and is a LINE, stretching outward from the sun for a very long distance. I tried to portray this in EXISTENCE.

There is a similar region focusing NEUTRINOS much closer in, around the orbit of Uranus.

TCB said...

I keep finding interesting science stories when the topic is politics, and interesting political stories when the topic is science. But this link is both.

This is an American who lived in China for a decade, incurred the government's wrath with mild videos, and escaped via Hong Kong one step ahead of police a year ago. He knows the language and culture very well.

And now he's dropped a real bomb about the Chinese military gathering DNA about non-Chinese with an eye toward developing ethnically targeted bio-weapons (and keeping their own DNA data secret from foreigners).

Nixon never shoulda gone.

TCB said...

Even if planets with eukaryotic-type life forms and oxygen are common, I suspect many of them are tech-disadvantaged anyway, as for example smart Earth species like whales and octopuses living in a marine environment where most technologies can't be made to work. No fire under the water. No electricity either. I can think of some things a purely aquatic species could do: making and weaving fabrics and nets. Quarrying and building stone structures. But the list of things they couldn't attempt without conquering the land is nearly endless. Advanced chemistry? No. You need metal and glass vessels for that. Electronics? Metals again.

I can also imagine land-based intelligent species that lack for various industrial materials we take for granted. Wood is a BIG DEAL. Not only is it an early entry in human tool and artifact making, including houses and boats, but wood that didn't rot gave us the Carboniferous era, and lots of coal. (I heard this had to do with nothing being able to digest lignin, but now it's argued that it's a fluke of tectonics and climate. Either way, many inhabited planets might never have had their own eras of fossil fuel deposition for their sentients to use in industry).

David Brin said...

Nixon never shoulda gone. ?? Naw, he's out of hell because of that. A BILLION people saved from starvation and a hundred million new scientists. Oh, and China would've spasmed a nuclear war when starvation struck hard.

" No fire under the water. No electricity either."

That's my water world scenario. Earth may be especially dry for a surface water world and no way the roofed water worlds make spaceships.

Metals are bio-available on my planet Kithrup and could be bio-engineered by a smart aquatic race. Who also use volcanic vents. But I'd expect that to be slow.

scidata said...

Fascinating about g-lens 'focal line', thanks. Time spent talking to astronomers and bacteriologists is time well spent. I'm lucky that way.

I'm not a sci-fi writer, but here's my scenario for water world SETI:
- mammals or similar develop big brains
- social systems, perhaps even language ensues
- extreme sensitivity to magnetic and even EM radiation is a selection advantage
- they can detect ET signals either directly or by building big mirrors somehow
- they can't send signals, but they can modify their world to attract ETIs
by changing the atmospheric chemistry or perhaps sonic disruptions
(the Canadian 'Humble Telescope' was able to detect such within distant stars)
(reflected lasers pick up conversations from far away glass windows)
- they roll out the welcome mat thru every means possible
(like the way plants attract pollinators)
- presto - first contact

Larry Hart said...


And now he's dropped a real bomb about the Chinese military gathering DNA about non-Chinese with an eye toward developing ethnically targeted bio-weapons

And here I thought we had enough to worry about with Mitch McConnell being willing to crash the entire world economy just so he can say it happened on Biden's watch.

My psychological tactic for dealing with pessimism is to make the pessimistic scenarios fight against each other. Like, "Well, if the Chinese kill us all with targeted bioweapons, at least it won't matter whether the economy or democracy survives 2024."

(and keeping their own DNA data secret from foreigners).

Ok, I don't see how this is possible. There are how many ethnically Chinese people living in the west? None of them have already used 23-and-me?

David Brin said...

TCBCalifornia has every ethnic DNA. Their sampler spies will be here.

Aquatic tech race - good thoughts. Similar to how 1890s folks spoke of signalling Mars by planting forests in geometric shapes.

TCB said...

(and keeping their own DNA data secret from foreigners)

Yes, this objection came up as soon as I posted that link. Be that as it may, they see fit to keep their data close to the vest.

Tangentially, the same channel did a video about how life there is so dystopian that even being very wealthy is not much of a treat. You can be a billionaire in Shanghai and still have to breathe the same polluted air and eat the same tainted food as your neighbors. The guys knew a wealthy man there with his luxury apartment full of refrigerators for all the imported safe food he brought in.

Food that won't make you sick: just one of those things you take for granted in a democracy.

Jon S. said...

Gene-tailored bioweapons smacks strongly of race theory. In my opinion, there simply isn't enough genetic difference between the "races" to reliably target a bioweapon - our ancestors spent too long interbreeding with each other and with other species of human. (There's a reason most Europeans have neanderthal genes, while denisovan genes appear in Asia and the Pacific islanders.)

David Brin said...

Okaay, weird. I hope hunger and sex can overcome this allure: Brown crabs seem to have an odd attraction to underwater power cables. The cables for offshore renewable energy emit an electromagnetic field which attracts the crustaceans and causes them to sit still. Researchers even found that exposure to higher levels of electromagnetic field strength changed the number of blood cells in the crabs' bodies.

David Brin said...

Jon S that may be an opinion, but I'll betcha there are plenty of ways you can cause 70% sickness in one population while incurring only 40% in your own. Especially if you have secret factories ready to go with your own suide's vaccines... and if you are a bloody minded Orwellian with a high estimate of 'acceptable losses."

The only antidote is light.

Alfred Differ said...

I used to assign a stronger filter at the slot for 'tech possible world' for space capable civilization that I do nowadays. I'm not so sure we understand enough of the ways to become tech capable to say much about whether metals are needed. Or conduction of high currents. Or… whatever.

Most of humanity's existence has been a very low tech experience. Very low. Stone axes and fish hooks. Simple clothing? Hominids didn't need much more than that to chase ourselves around the evolutionary wheel and develop big brains. We became our own tech in a way building tools within ourselves. Social. Perceptual.

Why wouldn't an aquatic genus do that? With our big brains and hands, we took our earlier primitive tools and adapted them. With their big brains and some way to manipulate things, why wouldn't they build on what they have around them? They won't need big heavy muscles to do what we do in a more buoyant environment. Brains and fleshy lips? Tentacles? Don't we already have examples around us missing only the runaway brain capacity? Several examples?

And why metals? Trees towered into the sky ages ago on the discovery of lignin. So damn tough it took ages for bacteria to figure out how to break it down. Cut open a tree and you'll see Nature's composite materials and how they are laid up without vacuum forms. Water vapor pressure is enough. Chemistry's partial pressures.

I don't know how to get to space from the ocean floor, but I'm finding it more and more difficult to believe that they wouldn't figure it out. I CAN figure out how to make some of the jumps, though. If they really want to go, they'd float to the top and then try something. Float bladders got figured out eons ago. The kelp washing ashore on the beach not far from me grows them at a prodigious rate. It seems to me that going higher would start with that tech. WE even tried it for a while and still use it for some things.

So… I'm no longer convinced ocean worlds wouldn't get to play at the star-faring civilization game. I CAN believe they'd need longer to come up with ways, but I would no longer expect it to be more than an order of magnitude. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't think heavy metals are all that necessary anymore. Cooler G and warmer K Pop I stars have been around a while and will stick around a long time from now.

I'm still open to the "hasn't happened yet" argument, but not the "won't happen" one.

Roofed worlds would be very different.

Alfred Differ said...

Jon S,

…our ancestors spent too long interbreeding with…

I think it more likely that we didn't. Instead, the people alive today are mostly descendants of a small population meaning we are all mostly alike.

The biggest variations are found among the oldest of our lines in Africa. No surprise to anyone paying attention, of course. The rest of us descend from common ancestors that are relatively recent.

The best estimates I've seen for human population size at the end of the recent glaciation period range from 5 to 10 million.
The best estimate I've seen for when our nomadic, hunter-gatherer ancestors became incline to trade long distance outside their kin groups dates to before the most recent migration out of Africa.

All but a tiny fraction of the nearly 8 billion of us today descend from a few million traders.

Yes. We interbred. More importantly… we exploded from a small population.
It's a wonder there is any variation in us at all.

We aren't quite a monoculture species, but the bugs out there remind us occasionally that we are close.


That's me agreeing with your conclusion even if I use a different way to get there.


David has a point about survivability, though. I'm alive today after spending a year on a chemo drug designed to kill slightly more of a certain kind of cell within me than all the other cells. My dosage was set high enough to make me puke (or want to) every day, but not high enough to actually kill me. After a year of that, the offending immune system cells were deader than the rest of me and they took me off the drug. I spent two more years on another drug somewhat immune suppressed while the doctors watched. Finally… they took me off the who schedule and I survived. That part of my immune system did not.

The Chinese Civilization is the oldest surviving one. They've seen most of the others and out-lived them. They've been through absolutely terrible events and they'll likely survive the next one.

David Brin said...

Interesting thoughts, Alfred. Though I am unsure how much Chinese civilization survived the First Emperor's purges.

GMT -5 (Hugh) said...

Our 12 tribes are pretty old too. But there are only 15 million of us.

Paradoctor said...

70-40 split is a lousy weapon. Also, biological “weapons” aren’t really weapons; they have a agendas of their own; so spreading them isn’t “firing a weapon”, it’s “treasonously allying with an enemy of humankind”.

scidata said...

Re: old civilizations

Old could be a result of success, like the trilobite. Or it could be the result of isolation/stagnation like the coelacanth. I see this romantic notion of venerability a lot in SETI. However, one way of escaping a great filter is to outrun it. Perhaps we should focus on fleeting Golden moments instead of persistent Goldilocks zones. Maybe ETIs didn't spread throughout the galaxy because they very quickly found something better to do - something beyond our comprehension at present.

David Brin said...

scidata... all of those possibilities are on the list...

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding purges, I think a lot depends on how we define what a civilization is. For me, it is about that thing that persisted in Postman through the war. That thing the people would not let fade and die. It has little to do with emperors and gods and everything to do with what we believe we are on a macro-level.

These 'Chinese' have an unusual situation. They are geographically on land and geopolitically an isolated island IF they hold together the regions currently under mainland control. They often do NOT hold together with a strong central government, but they are more like each other than many of the rest of us in the world making them oscillate between strong central power and poverty and a federation of rich coastal provinces and a VERY impoverished interior.

I argue that they are the only ancient civilization to survive to the modern day, but they have finally encountered another that can pierce their geopolitical isolation. Egypt lasted as long as it did through many cycles based largely on its geopolitical isolation. When that ended, so did the old Egypt. The question before us is whether the old China survives in the presence of The West... or whether it morphs and possibly joins us.

It might outlast us if our civilization proves to be a flash in the pan. I wouldn't put it past them.

Alfred Differ said...


“treasonously allying with an enemy of humankind”

I agree, but I'm not the adversary. Anyone releasing such a thing is on my "I'm happy to murder them" list.

The possible unintended consequences should give every idiot pause, right? Unfortunately, it is our side that is inclined to elect idiots. I think it more likely WE would deploy such a weapon.

Thank goodness for the bright men and women serving in our armed forces. May they always remember to protect our institutions even when we elect idiots.

duncan cairncross said...


The US model of democracy has been tried many times - only the USA appears to have managed to make its "elected King" system work long term

The successful model has been the one the Americans rebelled against - Parliamentarian Democracy - which has evolved - our (NZ) model is a lot better than the UK one

I was sure that in the long term Parliamentarian Democracy would become the "norm"

And then China
China uses a "Democracy" - except that there is selection system for the people who stand for office
The truth is that there is ALWAYS a selection system for candidates - normally having lots of money
But China has made it overt - you have to join the party and keep your nose clean

If they can maintain that sort of selection system and prevent the growth of political dynasties

Then that model may well become the "norm"

duncan cairncross said...

Biological Warfare

It's possible

Therefore a sensible military/country SHOULD investigate just how it could work in order to develop the best countermeasures

I would bet MY MONEY that all of the major powers ARE investigating Biological Warfare

Which makes it more likely to happen!

Tim H. said...

A longish essay on the lab leak theory:

Also on Apple news. My 2¢, in the absence of evidence, natural processes are sufficient but I don't think evidence will be seen anytime soon due to CYA, racism and suspicion of racism.

TCB said...

Paradoctor, upthread: "Brin:
70-40 split is a lousy weapon. Also, biological “weapons” aren’t really weapons; they have a agendas of their own; so spreading them isn’t “firing a weapon”, it’s “treasonously allying with an enemy of humankind”.

If you saw the video I linked, yes, the idea is a literal weapon. It includes footage and quotes from actual serving Chinese military officers (I am not yet assuming deepfakes) describing how DNA/RNA snippets could be in principle engineered to, for instance, interfere with the targeted people's balance or cognitive functions, or other bodily functions, and delivered by 1 micron metal spheres under the skin via compressed air guns, explosive charges, etc. The narrator says he usually tries to avoid sensationalizing his videos (true, I have seen quite a few) but when he looked into this topic he was appalled. He goes on to note that the Chinese officers suggest the possibility of offering antidotes as a mercy.

It's no nuttier-sounding to me than Putin's new megaton torpedoes, the existence of which we do not doubt. These oligarchs are going to kill all of us if we let them.

Speaking of submarines, the FBI just arrested a husband and wife for trying to sell sub secrets, charging them in West Virginia (where one dead drop happened).

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I think a lot depends on how we define what a civilization is. For me, it is about that thing that persisted in Postman through the war. That thing the people would not let fade and die. It has little to do with emperors and gods and everything to do with what we believe we are on a macro-level.

I argue that they are the only ancient civilization to survive to the modern day, ...

Your follow-up makes me wonder even more why you don't think Jewish civilization counts in the longevity department. I was willing to give you "no persistent location," but by this definition, land is almost irrelevant.

Robert said...

The possible unintended consequences should give every idiot pause, right? Unfortunately, it is our side that is inclined to elect idiots. I think it more likely WE would deploy such a weapon.

Well, it was your side* that decided to let Covid run wild at first, because it was killing presumed political enemies.

*Well, the leadership of your country, which I assume is your side compared to China, even when it's Trump and clan…

Pappenheimer said...

re: ozone vs. CO2:

that is a real problem. I've run into folks who remember the ozone layer issue and CFC regulations as made up/imposed by liberals/those godless scientists. "No, it wasn't, and the reason you don't hear about it any more is because it got mostly fixed. You're welcome." But you can't take them down the road not taken.

(Now there's a use for parallel Earths, if you had the tech to travel between them and no moral qualms.)

David Brin said...

“Putin's new megaton torpedoes, the existence of which we do not doubt.”

Well I certainly doubt it, at all levels.
That one is a bluff like the nuclear hypersonic missile.

What may NOT be as bluff is mining our busy shipping ports with lurker nukes buried in the mud.

LH… 5782. Yep. Older than China! Though just like China, pretty much changed.

Overall. Transparency - worldwide - is the only thing that will prevent these idiotic doom scenarios, like also bio-war. Though the alacrity of vaccine development vs Covid-19 should scotch any nearterm plans. Problem is that oligarchy will fight vs transparency with desperation, not just for power and privilege but to avoid jail. Hence my call for a Truth Commission.

Any 'democracy" that cannot abide give and take and criticism in its "elected" legislature is just a sham.

scidata said...

Calendars are not civilizations, but PROMETHEUS's opening scene was in Scotland for a reason:

Jon S. said...

Well, it was your side* that decided to let Covid run wild at first, because it was killing presumed political enemies.

*Well, the leadership of your country, which I assume is your side compared to China, even when it's Trump and clan…

And you can see how well that "targeted" disease worked. Their political enemies stayed apart, masked up, and got vaccinated when they could, and their political allies are dropping like flies, because it turns out that diseases don't care what your political affiliation is.

Larry Hart said...

scidata to Alfred:

Well, it was your side* that decided to let Covid run wild at first, because it was killing presumed political enemies.

Loathe as I am to defend Republicans in any way, I don't think it was so much "killing political enemies" as "letting political enemies deal with the problem on their own, since they were the ones affected." A case of negligence toward urban Democrats rather than one of bioterrorism against urban Democrats.

I may be underestimating their evil, though. :)

* * *

Alfred Differ:

5782. Yep. Older than China!

Well, in fairness, I believe the Jewish calendar dates back to the Garden of Eden. Monotheism didn't come about until Abraham, and anything that could be called "Jewishness" not until at least Jacob--perhaps Moses. IIRC, Exodus is about 1500 years into the calendar.

Still a lot of years, though.

Paradoctor said...

Brin: A megaton torpedo? Isn't that like the nuclear hand-grenade? Guaranteed to blow up whatever ship fires it? Unless torpedo ranges and tracking has vastly improved lately; and if that's true, then what need for a nuke? Just have it clamp onto the target, then blow it up at your leisure, or even say surrender-or-die. (There was a Next Trek show where this worked on the Cardassians.)

TCB: toxic DNA snippets on microspheres delivered by explosive charges? Blowing people up is an old technology. If a stand-off explosion, then what if the wind changes, and blows the microspheres back to your troops? Then like WWI poison gas, it doesn't target well, as well as being a crime against humanity.

Both of these are more about posturing than homicide.

Paradoctor said...

LH and Brin: the issue for our tribe lately is: are we a land club or a book club? The advantage of being a land club is that on your own land you can be your own boss. The disadvantage is that eventually a bigger boss comes by with a bigger club. The advantage of a book club is that you can read the book anywhere. The disadvantage is that sometimes you have to slap the book shut and run far and fast.

Paradoctor said...

Robert: treasonously allying with an enemy of all humankind for civil warfare is even more vile than such betrayal for interstate warfare.

I suppose that if ET shows up, then this scenario might come into play.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

The possible unintended consequences should give every idiot pause, right? Unfortunately, it is our side that is inclined to elect idiots.

Reminds me of an old gag from the "Li'l Abner" comic strip.

" any fool can plainly see."

"Ah can plainly see."

* * *

BTW, I think I ascribed a comment of Dr Brin's on the Jewish calendar to you. Sorry.

scidata said...

Larry Hart: scidata to Alfred:

I would never weigh-in on biowar. Too ugly. As my nephew would say, "It hurted my heart."

Robert said...

A case of negligence toward urban Democrats rather than one of bioterrorism against urban Democrats.

Withholding federal resources from urban Democrats because they were Democrats, while giving those same resources to Republicans that didn't need them.

I'd call that deliberate political targeting, knowing that people would die because of it. Kushner and clan may be psychopathic bastards, but they aren't stupid. You can't convince me that the increased death toll wasn't anticipated.

One of my nieces is a surgeon in New York. She was on the front lines then, with one surgical mask a week because that was all they had available, working 14-30 hour days saving lives at considerable risk to her own.

It wasn't negligence. It was the playground bully playing catch with the victim's epipen after they've been stung by a wasp. Not negligence, but deliberate withholding of life-saving resources.

GMT -5 (Hugh) said...

Putin's supposed Poseidon nuclear powered torpedo. 2 meters in diameter. Supposed cruising speed of 100 knots (doubtful) and warhead size of 100 megatons.

We know they are building a massive torpedo. Exactly what it can do is a mystery. Okay, maybe it only cruises at 50 knots and only had a 500 kiloton warhead, that would still wreck a port.
Yes, Putin is a lying bluffer. But we really should find out what that damn weapon is.

GMT -5 (Hugh) said...

Here is the Wikipedia card for the Poseidon weapon.

It may be a bluff. I hope it is. Otherwise, this thing is a doomsday weapon. Just one of these could contaminate most of the East Coast.

Paradoctor said...

5782 years? That's just over one half-life of carbon-14!

David Brin said...

USN has been developing autonomous drone boats for some time. One deems it likely to have continued underwater. Grist for sci fi indeed. Like GHOST FLEET.

duncan cairncross said...


The "East Coast" is a long long piece of shoreline - the results of an attack may well be detectable over most of that but would only actually hurt about 1/1000th - or less

Larry Hart said...


I'd call that deliberate political targeting, knowing that people would die because of it. Kushner and clan may be psychopathic bastards, but they aren't stupid. You can't convince me that the increased death toll wasn't anticipated.

I'm not mostly disagreeing with that. My earlier point was only that I didn't think their political calculus was "COVID will kill Democrats, leaving us an even bigger electoral majority." More like, "Let the urban Democrats suffer. It won't hurt us politically, because our voters like it when we do that."

Larry Hart said...

What we already knew. Emphasis mine...

But all of a sudden, he has a new bunch of detractors: Senate Republicans. The reason is that McConnell gave the Democrats 2 months to raise the debt ceiling on their own. He made it clear he wouldn't help them in December, but he felt he had to give them the time needed to put together a reconciliation bill specific for raising the debt limit, which is his preferred option. And a number of other Republican senators are now angry with him for that. They wanted him to refuse to budge and default on the nation's debt if need be to stick it to the Democrats. McConnell was afraid that would crash the markets, start a worldwide recession, and the Republicans would get the blame for refusing to do something that the Democrats routinely did during the Trump, Bush, and Reagan administrations. In other words, some other Republican senators not only wanted to take the country hostage, they were fully prepared to shoot it if the Democrats refused to obey them.
It seems that the influence of Donald Trump is so great on the Republicans that his mentality has taken over. It doesn't matter if you get what you want or that you do anything that is good for the country. All that matters is that you punish the other side and make it lose. If you win as a result, that is the cherry on the sundae, but the key thing is humiliating the other side. McConnell didn't do that (in part due to a realistic fear that the Republicans would get blamed for the ensuing disaster, or that the filibuster would get carved). So now the Republican Senate caucus is angry with McConnell.

matthew said...

This article is completely off subject but aligning with some of our hosts writing on how Adam Smith should be reclaimed by liberals.

Interesting reading, coming to some conclusions that will look familiar to long- time readers.

Robert said...

Larry, more like, "Let the urban Democrats die. It won't hurt us politically, because our voters like it when we do that."

I do think the deaths were a significant factor in their decision-making. And even if not, that doesn't reduce culpability in my eyes. Deliberately withholding medical treatment from someone who needs it is morally equivalent to actively harming them. Hell, legally if someone dies when you're committing a crime you are on the hook for murder, even if you never intended to kill them.

I'm not rational on this subject. Trump/Kushner et al deliberately hurt my niece — my caring, intelligent, gorgeous niece — and I don't really give a fuck if they explicitly wanted deaths or just didn't give a shit that they were causing them. They're still guilty of murder.

Treebeard said...

Re: China, I found this interesting:

This guy Wang Huning reminds of Freud or Sayeed Qutb, who had previously been positively disposed toward America, but become its sworn ideological enemies after spending some time here. They all had similar criticisms, related to America’s culture of radical individualism, materialism, commodification, atomization, nihilism, rootlessness and general barbarism. This is where American leaders never seem to get it: they always talk as if it’s some abstraction like the Constitution, democracy or capitalism that animates their enemies, when it’s really the culture. People see how Americans actually are culturally and say: we don’t want this, or whatever abstractions produced it. And this isn’t just an abstract point; Wang is now the leading ideologue of the CCP and the brains behind Xi’s campaign to secure China against the scourge of Western liberalism. He doesn't want Chinese society trashed by Americanism, and who can blame him?

Paradoctor said...

I shrug off any nuclear torpedo, for the same reason that I shrug off the rest of the nukes. MAD still applies. If 100 megatons went off in an East Coast port city, we'd know who sent it, especially if Putin had been bragging about having one.

So it, along with all the other nukes, is posturing. I hope.

Larry Hart said...


They're still guilty of murder.

I'm not arguing against that.

And you're not arguing against my point, which is that the reason they were ok with murder is because it didn't hurt (and probably helped) politically with their voters.

What I did not think they were calculating was "More urban Democratic deaths means fewer Democratic voters." Rather, "More urban Democratic deaths means happier GQP voters." That's hardly an exoneration.

locumranch said...

This thread never stays 'science-y' for long, reverting to politics.

The supposition that US Republicans have somehow caused 'more urban Democratic deaths' is a typical politically-biased conclusion, mostly because it specifically rejects the possibility that urban Democratic policies might have been significant contributing factors to these bad outcomes, as in the case lefty progressive New York having a 31% higher COVId 55,402 deaths per 2.49 million case death rate as opposed to righty ant-science Florida's 57,303 per 3.6 million case COVID death rate.

I mean, really, how can rising urban rates of assaults, robberies, murders, gun crimes & general badness in urban Democratic cities have anything at all to do with insane urban Democratic social policies, as in the case of Chicago's enlightened decision not to prosecute those illegally armed 'mutual combatants' involved in a videoed & thoroughly documented daylight shootout a few days ago? Released video has poured purifying 'light' all over these crimes -- and, as light is a cure-all all by its lonesome -- leaving our urban betters with nothing to do as 'the law' now magically enforces itself.

That China is busy harvesting ethnicity-specific human gene data in preparation for the potential realisation of Frank Herbert's "The White Plague", this is probably utter nonsense too, even though Germany seems worried about it (Reuters). Germany's worries are probably unfounded, after all, as Germany knows absolutely nothing about potential ethnic cleansing. Historically speaking, of course.

Russia's nuclear threat is likewise baseless, especially when Biden could always beg the protection of our good friends, the Taliban. Plus there's always the fearsome deterrent of General 'Sir Robin' Miley who has been credited with the most successful military retreat in US history, with his rallying cry of Run Away !!

Finally, in reference to TCB's comments, I'd like to ask if anyone has had any recent contact with Catfish, our resident nuclear submariner.
He always seemed a pleasant fellow, both knowledgeable & informative. And, for the record, I'd love to hear his views on current events, assuming that he still has a sufficient supply of peanut butter & USB sticks with which to smuggle out his reply.

It's nice to see Treebeard still in the mix, reminding our cohort that all of our problems, contradictions & faults lie not in our stars but in ourselves, but I suspect his entreaties will always fall on deaf ears, mostly because all our cultural faults & failures (we believe) are always someone else's fault. Always.


GMT -5 (Hugh) said...

Using the Nukemap simulator. Detonate a 100 megaton device, surface burst, at Panama City, FL and you have a fallout pattern that spreads fallout of 10 rad/hour as far as Washington DC and 1 rad/hour as far as NYC.

scidata said...

I see Musk is moving Tesla to Texas. Soon every 2nd job there will depend directly on the Enlightenment. Good luck remaining red.

David Brin said...

I wish Elon would site his Tesla HQ not in deep blue Austin but in a suburb where Teslans would screw up the gerrymandering that screws Austinians.

-Treebeard is a hoot! He's clearly taken vitamins cause his missives, while they attampt to be savagely critical, often contain stuff worth reading and povdering... before leading ultimately to conclusions that are unsupportable by the very facts he cites. Macroscopically he is tendentiously treasonous to everything that benefited him from the enlightenment. But he often says 60% interesting things!

And he's not a rude jerk, trying to shit on our rug. Come on back, ent.

- Locum, OTOH is spectacularly dishonest. The rate of death in NY was because they were first hit by international travel BEFORE THE VACCINES! And before doctors knew a damn thing about the disease. You stunning deceit-merchant. The fact that FLA's much later surge came within 30% of NY's death rate, afgter everyone knew exactly how to stop this thing, is a screeching, howling testament to Sunshine State insanity.

Moreover, you know it. And you know that the meme source you got that from is also spectacularly a nest of lying vipers.

And yet, I won't instruct the Blooger filter against you because, so far, you have not gone back to your rug-shitting ways.

Jon S. said...

Using the Nukemap simulator. Detonate a 100 megaton device, surface burst, at Panama City, FL and you have a fallout pattern that spreads fallout of 10 rad/hour as far as Washington DC and 1 rad/hour as far as NYC.

Followed by launches from every nuclear silo in the US, because there's only one country with both the ability and inclination to do such a thing.

Or, of course, we can always hope that the crew responsible for launching (or, for nuclear mines, emplacing) such a weapon has the sense God gave a goose, and refuses the order.

David Brin said...

Jon S the MAD deterrence thing assumes Putin and his circle give a damn about the average Russian. Which they decisively do not. If they feel secure in their hacienda-dacha-Siberian enclaves, and threatened with failure of their oligarchic putsch, I'd bet the notion of toppling over the table would seem to them like "winning the game."

I skimmed down a bit. What a loony! Come on Locum, let's bet major cash whether red states (excluding Utah) have beetter rates in almost every category of turpitude,

Jon S. said...

The "MAD thing" assumes your opponent is not functionally insane. "Feeling secure in your dacha" means little when your dacha is the only thing left - and even then it's only a matter of time. I'm pretty sure Putin has pretty good intel on what our nuclear stance looks like, especially after the last four years (and thank deity the president can't unilaterally disarm...), and I'm also pretty sure that his viciousness isn't self-destructive enough to accept that as a valid result. (That's more Trumpist than Putinian.)

GMT -5 (Hugh) said...

I hope so too. And I agree that it is posturing. Life after a nuclear exchange would be hellish, even for the corrupt oligarch billionaires.

Treebeard said...

I love this kind of talk. America kills millions of people in numerous wars, destroys countries, incinerates cities, overthrows governments, assassinates leaders, claims entire hemispheres, surveils and propagandizes the planet, imprisons more people than anyone and is dominated by various oligarchs and cartels with aggressive global ideologies and ambitions. Yet even its higher IQ citizens worry about foreign leaders and oligarchs doing super-villainous things, and not caring about their people. LOL. It's like a neighborhood ruled by the Genovese family worrying about the teen street gang a few blocks over. You guys are always good for a laugh.

A.F. Rey said...

Life after a nuclear exchange would be hellish, especially for the former leader of one of the countries who might reasonably be considered responsible for the exchange.

For starts, I'm sure we'd save at least one small nuke just for his dacha. :D

locumranch said...

Come on Locum, let's bet major cash whether red states (excluding Utah) have better rates in almost every category of turpitude...

A sweet invite, to be sure; I miss our frequent arguments.

That said, I must refuse debate until we can agree upon what the term 'moral turpitude' actually signifies, as the average Blue & Red state partisan must necessarily disagree as to what 'act or behavior constitutes an immoral, unethical or unjust departure from ordinary social standards such that it would shock a community'.

Blue state moral meat has become red state moral poison, the sad truth being that the US Democrat Party is no longer the party of Mondale Ferraro. It has become the Borg, an anti-constitutional collective, eager to sacrifice the individual drone for transient advantage, concerned only with the health of its hive, enforcing equity over merit, intent on the destruction of diversity & dissent through assimilation, pursuing change only for the sake of change.

On the bright side however, the risk of a hot civil war (part deux) has decreased substantially since we last talked because progressives in New York & California have shown us the way forward and the way forward is supply chain disruption due to functional incompetence:

Policers will not police; transporters will not transport; workers will not work; even the greenest electricity will not flow; and, with apologies to Robert Heinlein, the roads will not roll.

Also, for the record, Utah is not the conservative utopia that you assume it is. The LDS community (which has retreated to rural areas) hides high rates of family dysfunction, sexual abuse & mental illness, and the non-LDS progressives (which have captured SLC) has led to a surge in drug abuse, crime & blue state immorality.

I know my words will not convince or reach any of you. Yet, even so, I wish you all the best of luck in the coming months.


David Brin said...

Locumranch simply lies, top to bottom, perhaps because he is a koolaid drinker or else deliberately. Almost everything he says here is either a damned lie or a bizarro clutching at a true-factoid in order to howl it INTO a lie.

The ent, on the other hand, has taken to always, always pointing at true flaws and mistakes and crimes of the Enlightenment experiment... but utterly free of the context of 6000 years in which such errors or crimes were generallydeliberate and vastly worse. Shrugging off the pure fact that the American Pax was GENERALLY the world's greatest era of progress, science, rising prosperityand freedom... more so than all other eras combined...

...he goes on to swing wildly between collectivist nostalgia, hating on our excess individualism... and individualist/solipsistic resentment of the collective effort it would take to cross the curent crisis to better days. Likely the best days humanity ever had, within reach.

Inconsistency be damned! Misanthropy is his religion and we're taught to respect other people's faith... till their cult's fist is aimed at our nose.

David Brin said...

Of course the greatest irony is that Treebeard only knows of some of our crimes and errors because millions share the criticism reflex and CITOKATE imperative that led to correction of past horrors like segregation that HE very likely would have supported. Incarceration rates skyrocketed because of right wing crime fetishism that led to Three Strikes over nothing misdemeanors and drug laws targeting minorities... and thse laws are at last being chopped down because of citokate.

scidata said...

from FOUNDATION ep.5 :
[worker hands researcher a weapon to assist in desperate defense of Terminus]
researcher: "But I'm a scientist"
worker: "If you don't use that, you'll be a dead scientist"

TCB said...

Sooo NPR had a piece about "Havana syndrome", the mysterious illness first reported by CIA and embassy staff in Cuba, often accompanied by a buzzing sound, nausea, etc., and resulting in lingering neurological injury. Leading hypothesis says it's a pulsed miicrowave weapon used by agents of an unfriendly nation (Russia, most likely). Washington says they don't have good evidence.

Here's my suggestion, wonder if something like this is already being worked on. Issue all personnel who plausibly could be targeted a "microwave dosimeter badge" to be carried at all times in foreign assignments. Like a dosimeter badge, it would detect and record exposure. Design would be a bit like this: Start with the idea of an RFID card, which has a small antenna printed on it. This would need to be capable of receiving (and surviving) the frequency and amplitude of pulsed microwaves that are likely to be used in such attacks. Add to this a small Arduino-type computer with button battery and memory, to record realtime data 24/7 while worn. Data would include time, location, instances of suspicious radio signals, and their characteristics (frequency, amplitude, modulation/pulses, duration, and direction and maybe even distance to the source, if that is possible with such a small device).

If all foreign embassy staff and letter-agency personnel wore these, and the microwave hypothesis is true, and the detectors worked well, the US would soon have evidence which could pinpoint the aggressors. The mere ability to get this evidence might drive them to abandon pulsed microwave attacks (assuming, of course, that the microwave hypothesis is the right one).

David Brin said...

TCB attribution of murderous deeds is views by Vlad as a feature, not a bug. His aim is to terrorize potential defectors and to reveal the USA and NATO as fumbling and craven incompetents.



Blowfish said...

Its amazing what you can read here all kinds of statements and arguments , what is hardly
ever mentioned is that it is highly unlikely that A site like this could exist in either China
or Russia which is just another reason to prefer living in a flawed democracy above a dictatorship . The USA has huge problems as does the EU where I live but even if any of you out there were to give me a million euro's I still would not move to the above two countries .
I am very grateful that I live in a country with a political system and constitution that allows me to vent my political frustrations without fearing a knock on the door at midnight .
Lets keep fighting for a return of reasoned argument in the public domain and do our best to remain civilised to each other whatever their views may be .
By the way did any of you know that the USA has actively been sabotaging EU efforts to build up its own defense system if you do not believe me just go to
the ' Center for American Progress ' and find the report " The Case For EU Defense ".

Blowfish said...

To continue my posting on EU defense .
On the one hand the US castigates the EU countries for not doing enough to support NATO which the US of course dominates due to its outsize contribution the EU in reaction to this domination wants to become more independent of the US the US actively works against the EU .
I personally think the EU is far too dependant on the US for its own defense . It should be possible for the US , NATO and the EU to work out a way to allow the EU to develop its own defense system without weakening NATO . It is all the more important now that the US is pivoting its defenses more towards the Indo-Pacific region