Saturday, November 20, 2021

Science - tech roundup! Was Sodom blasted from space? A song-prediction on 'Albedo,' and much more

Okay, to keep y'all rolling toward holidays with family & friends... a few updates from recent science & tech news...

= The Past Speaks! ==


Strong evidence suggests ‘biblical” scale sky-brimstone actually happened in the region spoken-of in that ancient compilation. In appears that in ~ 1650 BCE (~ 3600 years ago), a cosmic airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam, a leading Middle-Bronze-Age city in the southern Jordan Valley northeast of the Dead Sea. "The proposed airburst was larger than the 1908 explosion over Tunguska, Siberia, where a ~ 50-m-wide bolide detonated with ~ 1000× more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. A city-wide ~ 1.5-m-thick carbon-and-ash-rich destruction layer contains peak concentrations of shocked quartz; melted pottery and mudbricks; diamond-like carbon; soot; Fe- and Si-rich spherules; CaCO3 spherules from melted plaster; and melted platinum, iridium, nickel, gold, silver, zircon, chromite, and quartz." Heating experiments indicate temperatures exceeded 2000 °C.  Other evidence includes: “ extreme disarticulation and skeletal fragmentation in nearby humans…” Woof.


Okay... I just gotta finish the rest of the abstract here: “An airburst-related influx of salt (~ 4 wt.%) produced hypersalinity, inhibited agriculture, and caused a ~ 300–600-year-long abandonment of ~ 120 regional settlements within a > 25-km radius. Tall el-Hammam may be the second oldest city/town destroyed by a cosmic airburst/impact, after Abu Hureyra, Syria, and possibly the earliest site with an oral tradition that was written down (Genesis). Tunguska-scale airbursts can devastate entire cities/regions and thus, pose a severe modern-day hazard.”

Oh my. That oughta get the paranoid author juices flowing!


Zooming ahead to a slower apocalypse. A core visible trait of our planet - its albedo -- is changing before our eyes, literally. The Earth is ‘dimming.” Our planet is reflecting about half a watt less light per square meter than it was two decades ago. 


In ‘light’ of this news, I recommend a wonderful - nerdy - song by Vangelis - “Albedo”. A stirring recitation of traits of our beautiful planet. This video is also gorgeous. Note that even when this music was composed, in the 1970s, of all the distantly visible traits Vangelis recited, he knew that only one was changeable by humanity… the one he recites at the end. 


And at the end of this love ode to Earth, you will realize what so many knew even then.


Though yes, I have posted an analysis of how many of those other traits actually can be changed buy us and our descendants, across tens of millions of years.


== Our busy brains ==


French researchers isolated some of the neural pathways in our brains – specifically the hippocampus - that are responsible for recording and recalling the sequence of time.  

“Farther than we’ve ever imagined we could go”: Researchers have given a paralyzed man some ability to speak by decoding signals between his brain and mouth.  In other words… the “subvocal” device in Earth (1990) that I predicted would start appearing just about now. After months of adjustments to the system, the man was able to generate a word reliably every four seconds, or roughly 15 words per minute."Normal speech is on the order of 120, 150 words per minute, so there's a lot of room to improve," a lead researcher says.  

Apparently  listening to musical melodies activates an intriguing prediction/recognition system. When there is a pause between notes, the brain makes a prediction about the next note to come and we derive a teensy jolt of pleasure when the prediction comes true… but sometimes a different kind of pleasure jolt from puzzlement, when prediction fails! (I’m looking at you, Weird Al!)


For insight into the brain, decision making and critical thinking: a new book just released by Steven Pinker: Rationality: What it is, Why it seems scarce, Why it matters, a follow-up to Enlightenment Now. Pinker delves into conspiracy theorizing, fake news and medical quackery, exploring why humans so often seem to make decisions that seem irrational and illogical.  

And here's an interesting podcast interview of Steven Pinker along with the "worst American," George F. Will. 

I'll be commenting on this podcast later

 == Take that spider! Elephants don't have to be melancholy... ==


Do spiders record useful memory information outside their bodies, in their webs, the way we did with oral traditions, then books and e-media? See: Spiders weave a web of memories.  Interesting, if true. (If you want to read a vivid tale of highly-evolved (uplifted?) spiders, try Children of Time, by Adrian Tchikovsky.)


Guy I know suggested taking this concept of externally-stored memory, which helped launch human civilization, to a new level by giving tools to other creatures on this planet. For example, already there are dolphins who have regular access to touch screens. 


So,how about erecting monoliths across elephant foraging grounds and migratory paths? Not just passive obelisks, but sturdy, active interfaces where they could manipulate simple abacus-like objects... or else touch screens... or even just a chalkboard, that one elephant might alter and leave in some kind of order for the next one - or herd - to come across. 


On the first order, how much fun just to see if they develop a habit of some kind of "messaging?" But the number of follow-on possibilities seems endless. I think such a project would be fantastic!

 == And biology(!) miscellany... ==


We already knew that the chloroplasts in plants use some quantum effects in converting sunlight to chemical energy. Roger Penrose and associates suggest that certain tiny rods inside neurons may do similar tricks with quantum computing. Now, researchers suspect that some songbirds use a “quantum compass” that senses the Earth’s magnetic field, helping them tell north from south during their annual migrations… “that a protein in birds’ eyes called cryptochrome 4, or CRY4, could serve as a magnetic sensor.”


From Siberian ice, a 24,000 year old rotifer was revived. 


And speaking of the (semi) small… researchers examined data from 3,200 species and discovered a governing principle that determines sperm size in a species: Females with small reproductive tracts drive the production of bigger sperm. On the other hand, the need to spread sperm far and wide shrinks sperm across evolutionary timescales. “For instance, the parasitoid wasp Cotesia congregata produces little swimmers that are less than one-thousandth of a centimeter long, while fruit flies make sperm with 2.3-inch (6 cm) tails that coil tightly to fit inside their tiny bodies.”


Were dinosaurs already in decline before the asteroid struck? The debate continues


== Sewer bots ==


And I just found out that one of my weirdest ideas from the 90s - that I thought would never be implemented - actually was done a while back! 


Back then I was pondering one of the most powerful economic assets… Rights-of-Way (RoW). MCI & Sprint shredded the old AT&T monopoly on long distance by laying fiber along railroad and gas-line RoW. Around 2000 I consulted and published on missing RoW opportunities, like ways to enhance local RoW use in the developing world, in ways that might benefit the poor. 


There are two other types of RoW that have not yet been utilized for fiber/data and all that, Rights of Way that run all the way into every city and even into almost every home! First of these is water lines… but those have many valves, making fiber laying impossible. But the other one... can you guess?… 


...yep… topologically, sewer lines are open all the way! No valves or doors or gates. You could in theory deliver fiber all the way to every toilet in every home in the nation or world!


Um, that would take a helluva robot!  But it appears the concept was actually applied, to a limited degree! Indeed, it seems Sewer robots from Ca-Botics have successfully installed fibre-optics in some of the world’s major cities, including Paris, Berlin, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Toronto. I wonder if those old musings of mine were picked up…

wouldn’t be the first time.


And finally... Vernor Vinge's great classic Rainbows End speculated on the effects of haptic feedback suits providing a real person with virtual 'touch." As did I in several stories ranging from "NatuLife" to EARTH and EXISTENCE


So. How about a ‘touchable” hologram system that uses jets of air known as “aerohaptics” to replicate the sensation of touch? Still more of an uncanny valley thing, I betcha.


96 comments:

Larry Hart said...

For Alfred and myself:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Senate/Maps/Nov20.html#item-4

In both spoken and written communication, the most fundamental tension of all is effort vs. fidelity. That is to say, humans (and other species) try to communicate with as much precision as possible, while using as little energy as possible. Archetypes—widely-recognized embodiments of a particular concept, particularly a complicated one—are an effective strategy for navigating this communicative problem, because one can express a fair amount of meaning with a minimal amount of energy. Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation might recall the episode "Darmok," which features an alien culture that communicates entirely through archetypes and metaphors.

Robert said...

From the last thread: I'm curious how the argument against such consistency will play out.

The same way confirming Supreme Court nominations played out, of course. The reich-wing cares only that they get what they want, so will say whatever facile excuse comes to mind to justify it. And they'll get away with it, as always, because the centre-wing seems to think that the rules of the game haven't changed in 2-3 generations (and your country has no left-wing to speak of).

Robert said...

I'm curious how the argument against such consistency will play out.

The same way the Supreme Court nominations played out, of course. The reich-wing will have some facile excuse that is bullshit but that won't matter to their supporters who are only concerned with winning. The centre-wing won't do anything effective because they are playing by the rules the reich abandoned a generation or two ago. And your country has no left-wing to speak of, so an ineffective centre is all you have.

scidata said...

Re: Dimming Earth
I wonder what this means for the JWST planet atmospheric stuff. Maybe rapid dimming is a signature.

Re: GQP Enablers
One can't dance with the devil 9-5, then go home to sanity and serenity. It doesn't work that way. Fascism is a hellish ponzi scheme in which nobody, not even the instigators, survive the conflagration.

Re: George Will
I'm not trying to redeem him, but I'd love to talk with him. It's like that scene in Star Wars where Luke tells Vader, 'I sense the conflict within you'. I know he has an interest in Asimov, that's a possible starter. I suspect Steven Pinker feels similarly, which is why he did the joint interview - what a kind and patient man.

Re: FOUNDATION season finale
"It takes more power to build than to burn" - Hari Seldon
Wonderful to see the Chosen Ones get unchosen, as Goyer promised.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Fiber optic along railroad R of W occasionally causes problems. In the late 80s I worked on a clean up gang for a train wreck on Evaro Hill that cut the line. They had workers whose job it was to watch the splice continually until the line was reburied.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

And they'll get away with it, as always, because the centre-wing seems to think that the rules of the game haven't changed in 2-3 generations


While I'm also pessimistic about the glacial rate of progress, I'm not as pessimistic that change won't come after some breaking point. The same way that police harassment of gay bars used to be the status quo until resistance shifted public opinion. Some things seem to never change...until they do.

The implications of the Rittenhouse "self defense" defense will eventually reach the ridiculous. I mean, what is the proper response to an active shooter? Even the proverbial "good guy with a gun" who is supposed to stop him can't do so without justifying the original shooter's killing of him in self-defense. And unarmed civilians attempting to rush and disarm an active shooter are fair game as well, given that the guy has to fear for his own life and safety should he lose control of his gun. So now, every active shooter in an office, a McDonalds, or a public gathering in Las Vegas has a right to kill anyone trying to stop him "in self defense"?

Soon, everyone will start packing because everyone else is armed and dangerous, and it's obvious that society cannot or will not protect you from your fellow armed citizens, so you have to do it yourself. Anyone who starts a fight can then kill the person he accosted "in self-defense". Everyone who outshoots his neighbor claims to have done so in self-defense. That is an unstable situation that can't last very long. Something eventually has to give.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

As an exercise in 'why the hell not?' I took a story that has been bouncing around in my head and wrote it down. It's mostly dialog, so I wrote it in a screenplay format. Why the hell not. I live less than a hop, skip, and jump away from where bad screenplays go to die, so I figured I could distract myself from pandemic news and join the legions who write for people would would rather not.

Along the way I picked up a book focused on how NOT to write a screenplay. Seems they know quite a bit about that around here from the many dumpsters filled each year by people who get paid to read them on the very slim chance there is a good one among the crap.

The primary message of the 'How not to' book is that fundamental tension. Communicate precisely without the cruft. The writer is telling a visual story to a few people who would rather be making movies, TV episodes, or ANYTHING else. The story is supposed to tempt them into re-writing it as something that could actually be used as a script or the full deal used by cinematographer and director. The poor little screen play is bait fashioned with precision tempting the fish to bite.


The very first test in the book involves a question. Are you really writing a screenplay? Most authors who think they are actually aren't. Their product winds up being a better match for some other literary form. Too much description? Short fiction to novel. Too few scene changes? Probably something like a play. Tiny amounts of rich dialog? Probably poetry. If the initial reader decides the work isn't really a visual story, off to the dumpster it goes.

My little story would probably wind up at about 30 minutes on screen (too short for film) and has few scene changes (booooring). Lots of dialog. Little motion. Closer to a play, so off to the dumpster if I send it anywhere. Heh. That's okay, though, because I haven't thought about my fellow Americans who would rather die than get vaccinated in a couple of weeks. As a side benefit, I can say I belong in Southern California now. 8)

Don Gisselbeck said...

I'm waiting for some nimrods to start blazing away at each other when someone pulls out a cell phone too quickly.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

The Proper Response to an active shooter is pretty straight forward, but hard to do when angry or scared.

Run
Hide
Fight
***

Start with the top and move to the next if you can't do it. Can't do that one either? Move to the next. Can't do that either? The fourth entry is the hardest one to do when angry, but many young women know it easily.

If you are going to fight, though, better go all in and hope you have good witnesses.

Der Oger said...

Concerning the haptic holograms, I could imagine that it could come - but may be replaced by direct neural interfaces, Neuralink is already making progress. So, you could have a full virtual immersion - sight, audio, smell, touch, taste etc.
And/or both technologies could develop separately, the former for the "mass market", the latter for a select elite who can afford the implants and the surgery. Or they remain in existence since there are surely people who reject invasive technologies, prefering that their minds (and souls, for some), are not tampered with.

Robert said...

Larry, I thought that kids shooting up schools was an unstable situation, given the "think of the children" rants that appeared when movies showed a bit of skin, video games appeared, etc etc.

What changed? Kids got to practice duck-and-cover like they did in the 50s, pass through metal detectors, wear transparent backpacks, etc etc. The root cause of the problem wasn't addressed.

So based on how 'the people' reacted when their kids were threatened, I'm not convinced that there will be significant change now — especially because a minority of your compatriots can block change for the majority, or force change on them (if it's change back to the good old days when women and uppity n****** knew their place).

Daniel Duffy said...

"Do spiders record useful memory information outside their bodies, in their webs, the way we did with oral traditions, then books and e-media?"

There have been some experiments along these lines:

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

Daniel Duffy said...

"Strong evidence suggests ‘biblical” scale sky-brimstone actually happened in the region spoken-of in that ancient compilation."

Obviously, the "angels" that arrived to save Lot and his family were space aliens.

Daniel Duffy said...

Speaking of the Bible and space, has anyone definitively determined what the Star of Bethlehem could have been? Best theory IIRC is a rare conjunction of Venus and Jupiter.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/17/opinion/kyle-rittenhouse-guns.html

Rittenhouse’s gun was not just a danger to rival protesters. According to his own defense, the gun posed a grave threat to Rittenhouse himself — he said he feared being overpowered and then shot with his own weapon.

This is self-defense as circular reasoning: Rittenhouse says he carried a rifle in order to guarantee his safety during a violent protest. He was forced to shoot at four people when his life and the lives of other people were threatened, he says. What was he protecting everyone from? The gun strapped to his own body, the one he’d brought to keep everyone safe.


This is the kind of thing which will eventually reach critical mass of implausibility. Even the Rittenhouse supporters and gun advocates can't fail to notice the ridiculousness and inconsistency in their line of "reasoning". They're simply smug in their belief that ridiculousness and inconsistency don't matter. But while they don't matter to the Trump faithful, they will begin to matter to the general public. Especially when a black teenager argues that he must be acquitted for doing the exact same thing that Kyle Rittenhouse did. Or when a Pr*d B*y is fatally "defended against" by a good liberal with a gun who rightly perceived the right-winger as a threat, whether the guy was openly carrying, clandestinely carrying, or just making death threats for fun.

David Brin said...

Alfred want to see my own recent play and screenplay. The former still awaits a small group of actors (2 male, 2 female) to do a reading! The latter is based on my novella "The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss."

DD folks in those days knew the planetary positions better than most folks do nowadays. And we've seen no supernoval remnants consitent with that date-range. A comet seems possible. But remember Matthew was written at least 100 years later (linguistic proof) Mark is the only gospel possibly written by an eyewitness.

matthew said...

The desired right-wing end result of the judicial rulings regarding open-carry and self-defense is not "everyone open carry."

It is "make protest a crime punishable by death."

The right knows that they have screwed the planet with global climate change. They know that the US will see wave upon wave of climate refugees. They know that the GOP has made themselves a fascist organization. The right is trying to make it as difficult as possible to change our current system of racial advantage for white Christians to a more equitable system.

This is not about open-carry. It is about the right of white nationalists to terrify those that would oppose them.

***
I used to regard Pinker very highly. Unfortunately, it appears that he should be numbered among the foes of civilization. He has been unwise in his associations, at the least.

GMT -8 said...

My wife and I will be visiting California over the next week. We will be in Palm Springs for a few days, then downtown LA for an afternoon, and up in Northridge for a few days. One of the cousins I will be seeing is a famous prosecutor. He worked on the Night Stalker case and was one of the trial attorneys in the Simi Valley case against the police officers who beat Rodney King. He even worked a little bit behind the scenes on the OJ Simpson case.

We might go up to see Vasquez Rocks and then tour the USS Iowa. We will spend our last two days at Disneyland. So if you don't hear from me for the next 2 weeks, I hope you understand.

I've been reviewing my materials on the law concerning self defense. From a lawyer/prosecutor point of view, it is more complicated than most people realize. Generally, no one is allowed to use deadly force to protect property. One is allowed to use deadly force to protect one's self (self defense) or to protect another (defense of third party) provided certain conditions are met. It is not unheard of for police to arrive at an active shooter situation, see a person with a weapon and shoot that person only to find out later that this third party was not the active shooter. If the police shoot this third party and if certain conditions are present, then the police are not subject to criminal or civil liability. If a private citizen (including an armed security guard) shoots this third party, they can (but not necessarily going to be found to be) subject to criminal or civil liability.

That's a complicated way of saying that police are less likely to get prosecuted or be held civilly liable if they shoot the wrong person. In fact, it would be entirely possible for a non-police private citizen to be criminally and/or civilly liable for shooting the active shooter. Basically, if you are a private citizen, you don't have the criminal or civil law protections that police have. That is because the police are required to engage dangerous situations...it is part of their job and they can be punished administratively and/or civilly if they fail to do so. A private citizen is not required to engage...indeed, they are obligated to avoid getting engaged.

David Brin said...

Anybody read Mark recently? I would be interested in whether Mark mentions the star. Or the Roman "census" that 'forced' Joseph to return to Bethlehem in Judah to be counted, thus proving he was of the tribe and line of King David.

TCB said...

Robert asked, last thread, about a Thomas Pynchon comment on another forum. No, I cannot find the particular comment easily, nor can I definitively prove the commenter is the actual author. But if it isn't him, it's one helluva imitation. Comments listed most recent first:

https://www.metafilter.com/activity/232480/comments/mefi/

TCB said...

Wit, it was actually one of his January 6 comments:

> There should be National Guard there.

correct. the military is at least occasionally on the side of democracy. the police are never on the side of democracy. send in the guard, but keep the cops out of it.
posted to MetaFilter by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:32 AM on January 6, 2021

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Speaking of the Bible and space, has anyone definitively determined what the Star of Bethlehem could have been? Best theory IIRC is a rare conjunction of Venus and Jupiter.


Well, that sounds like a good way to produce a virgin birth. :)

* * *

Robert:

The root cause of the problem wasn't addressed.


Because school shooters are usually angry white men, and therefore not bound by the law.

Something will have to give when a black male or a Muslim successfully avails himself of the right to self-defense. Or when a white liberal fatally defends himself against an angry white male.

Larry Hart said...

...Which reminds me to muse on what the supposedly-forthcoming shooting Civil War that right-wingers predict because they can't wait to start shooting and liberals predict because they accurately perceive that right-wingers can't wait to start shooting. I mean, in the 1860s, there was northern and southern territory to fight over and northern and southern armies to engage in battle with. What's supposed to happen this time? Right wingers seem to envision a time in which they're free to take potshots at whomever they choose to kill without opposition by police. What do Democratic mayors and governors do in such a situation? Is there some sort of democratic army for real Americans to sign up for? Do armed liberals get to storm the FOX, OAN, and Newsmax studios and burn them to the ground? Have a shoot-out with Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, or Mike Lindell?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

the Roman "census" that 'forced' Joseph to return to Bethlehem in Judah to be counted, thus proving he was of the tribe and line of King David.


How is Joseph's lineage even material to that of Jesus, Son of the virgin Mary? I thought their own story made Joseph irrelevant.

Daniel Duffy said...

From "Caesar and Christ" by Will Durant:

Both Matthew and Luke assign Jesus' birth to "the days when Herod
was king of Judea"- consequently before 3 B.C. Luke,
however, describes Jesus as "about thirty years old" when John
baptized him "in the fifteenth year of Tiberius"- i.e.,
A.D. 28-29; this would place Christ's birth in the year 2-1 B.C.
Luke adds that "in those days there went out a decree of Caesar
Augustus that all the world should be taxed... when Quirinius was
governor of Syria." Quirinius is known to have been legate in Syria
between A.D. 6 and 12; Josephus notes a census by him in Judea, but
ascribes it to A.D. 6-7; we have no further mention of this
census. Tertullian `032629 records a census of Judea by Saturninus,
governor of Syria 8-7 B.C.; if this is the census that Luke had in
mind, the birth of Christ would have to be placed before 6 B.C.

We have no knowledge of the specific day of his birth. Clement of
Alexandria (ca. 200) reports diverse opinions on the subject in his
day, some chronologists dating the birth April 19, some May 20; he
himself assigned it to November 17, 3 B.C. As far back as the second
century the Eastern Christians celebrated the Nativity on January 6.
In 354 some Western churches, including those of Rome, commemorated
the birth of Christ on December 25; this was then erroneously
calculated as the winter solstice, on which the days begin to
lengthen; it was already the central festival of Mithraism, the
natalis invicti solis, or birthday of the unconquered sun. The
Eastern churches clung for a time to January 6, and charged their
Western brethren with sun worship and idolatry, but by the end of
the fourth century December 25 had been adopted also in the
East.


Jesus was probably born in March or April since "Shepherds keep watch of their flock by night" only during lambing season - the early spring.

Daniel Duffy said...

LH here is a great explanation of Jesus' lineage and his family tree:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8jpqeg8Gws

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Anybody read Mark recently? I would be interested in whether Mark mentions the star. Or the Roman "census" ...


Y'know, the more I think about it, the more the fundamental Christian backstory seems to be the Q-Anon theory of its day. It's only slightly different from the assertion that the United States stopped being a country in 1871 (thus invalidating all laws and amendments passed since then). Or waiting in Dealey Plaza for the return of JFK Jr who is somehow now a Republican. I mean, where in the Old Testament was there any mention that the Messiah would have to have another coming after the disastrous ending of the first one?

David Brin said...

Yes, the Joseph story tries to have it both ways. Jesus is 'descended from David" via Joseph (and I have found NO other citation of a Roman "census" that required men to return to their place of birth)... AND it's okay for J to be cuckolded by a Lord exercising Droit de Seigneur.

I remain interested whether the census is mentioned in Mark, the only reliable gospel.

LH please exercise more care in posting. We do not even hypothetically issue threats of violence here.

I do expect black activists... I hope very carefully - to declare in advance: "here is footage of white idiots flaunting weapons as they go shopping. On this date and before cameras, we intend to do EXACTLY as they did, armed exactly the same and visiting exactly the same stores at exactly the same times. Let's see the hypocrisy manifest.'

David Brin said...

DD thanks re census citations. Any evidence men were required to return to their birthplace to be counted? That is key because the whole purpose was to emphasize Jesus was an heir to David.

Oy, do NOT spread the 6BC meme! It suggests the 2000th Easter may be sooner than 2033 and we have even less time to prep for the hitstorm

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

LH please exercise more care in posting. We do not even hypothetically issue threats of violence here.


I thought I was listing a series of possible responses to a shooting war, all of which were dismissably absurd enough to demonstrate that "No, we can't do that either."

My question remains, what are we on the liberal side allowed to do once such a hot war begins? What even constitutes such a war beginning?

David Brin said...

LH my answer is to get out there and say:

"You are waging open war against all fact using professions, including all the folks who understand ballistics, chemistry, biology, virology, genetics, nanotech, cybertech and nuclear. And you think that shrieking at us (at behest of your oligarch lords) is going to frighten and intimidate us? Waving guns aound (when liberals have been qquietly arming-up since 2001)?

"Please think it through before your macho preening and yearning for a 'hot civil war' lets fox-oligarchs egg you on to making the worst choice in all your lives. Making all the nerds really mad."

Don Gisselbeck said...

The gospels make more sense if we look at them as oral history written down decades after the fact or the memory of a nearly senile old man (John). The time frame is similar to Native American tales of the Little Big Horn. The haul of fish at the end of John (153) is exactly the sort of thing a geezer would remember. Wandering magi appearing years after the the event talking about astrological signs could easily be confused and back dated by the locals.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

You are answering "How to keep them from starting a war?", which is admittedly the desired path.

But as the right wing and even the news media* seem to be ginning us up to expect that such a war is about to start, my question is what actually signifies such a war beginning (I mean there's no entity to declare such a war and no entity to declare that war against)? And once such a Rubicon is crossed, what options does that allow us for winning the war, or at least for not losing it?

* Bill Maher keeps quoting surveys that say something like 46% Americans across all political persuasions expect a Civil War to start. He uses this to mean both sides want to start one. I interpret it as "One side wants to start a war and the other side notices this and wants to be ready to respond once it happens."

Since there is no one empowered to declare war on behalf of "the right wing" (or "the left wing" for that matter), and no discernable entity for either to declare war on, I'm curious as to what the line between "not in a war" and "in a war" even looks like. How do we know when that line has been crossed? And when it has, what sort of response does the crossing of that line allow which is beyond the pale beforehand?

Larry Hart said...

I see nothing in Mark here that mentions a star or a census (or Three Wise Men, or the Jews calling a curse upon themselves and their progeny)

https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Mark-Chapter-1/

Daniel Duffy said...

This is an apologetics website but it provides good sources and is even handed when looking at the evidence:

https://preparedtoanswer.org/topics/faith-and-reason/did-luke-invent-jesus-birth/

Admittedly, one of the greatest challenges to the historicity of Jesus’ birth is Luke’s deliberate efforts to anchor Jesus nativity in time by using historical markers that would have been familiar to his contemporary audience. Hence, in Luke 2 he writes:

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. (Luke 2:1-3)

There are three main objections to historicity levelled against Luke by the skeptic. We can readily respond to each:

1. There was no empire wide census ordered by Caesar Augustus

In fact, there were three. According to Augustus’ own report he instituted empire wide censuses in 28 and 8 BC, and 14 AD. He boasted about this accomplishment during his reign because it appeared to indicate that the Roman Empire was growing.1 The Roman historian Tacitus also bears witness to the writing of Augustus in which he recorded by his own hand the resources of the state, including its number of citizens.2

2. It was not Roman custom to have residents return to their ancestral cities to be registered as Luke reported Joseph to have done.

Actually, we have documented evidence to suggest that it was. A Greek papyrus fragment of a Census Edict for Roman Egypt dated to 104 CE was found in 1905, and is currently housed in the British Museum in London. It states:

“Gaius Vibius Maximus, the Prefect of Egypt, declares:
The census by household having begun, it is essential that all those who are away from their homes be summoned to return to their own hearths so that they may perform the customary business of registration and apply themselves to the cultivation which concerns them.”

Furthermore, we have historical evidence to demonstrate that Rome allowed member provinces to observe local customs in maintaining imperial requirements. In the case of the Jews, Josephus records that the Romans allowed them to maintain tax exemption every seventh year3 and Sabbath observance.4 With respect to a census, as Bock points out, “Jewish culture would require an ancestral registration.”5 There is no historical reason to expect that the Roman census of Judea did not occur as Luke recorded, requiring Joseph to make the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

3. Quirinius was not governor of Syria until A.D. 6-7, too late for the census in Jesus birth narrative.

The historical record shows that Quirinius served as governor of Syria from A.D. 6-7, during which time he instituted a census. The skeptic argues that this shows Luke to be in error since Quirinius’ reign as governor is too late for Jesus’ birth.

This is perhaps the most difficult problem associated with Luke’s account, and yet a number of viable resolutions have been proposed. The first of these is noteworthy because it further corroborates the fact that in every other respect of his writing, Luke acts as a careful historian.

Note specifically what Luke says: “This was the first (gk. ‘protos’) census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria”. (Luke 2:2) This Greek word ‘protos’ means “first” or “earlier”. In either case it implies that Luke necessarily had knowledge of “second” or “later” censuses taken under Quirinius; a fact born out in Acts 5:37 where Luke makes reference to the census revolt lead by Judas the Galilean. This same revolt was recorded by Josephus in Antiquities 18:1.16, demonstrating that it was a noteworthy and remembered event among the Jews. It also demonstrates that Luke, being aware of this significant contemporary event, could not have been confusing the census taken during Jesus’ birth with Quirinius’ census of 6-7 A.D. It must have been another census that Luke was referring to.

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)

While Luke is clearly in the know about Quirinius’ 6-7 A.D. census, how can he be referring to an earlier census at a time when Quirinius was not governor of Syria? There are a number of solutions to this difficulty. Admittedly, none of them seems superior to the other. I will note what I see as the top three.

1. The grammar supports reading ‘protos’ to mean “This census was before the census which Quirinius, governor of Syria, made.” This would of course solve the chronology problem, but Dan Wallace7 suggests that such a reading would be a highly unnatural one, and is unlikely to be what Luke meant. While not impossible, it does stretch the grammar.

2. The historical evidence supports the possibility of a census conducted just prior to Herod’s death in 4 B.C. while Varus was governor of Syria.8 Given that such a census and its consequent taxation would have taken time to complete, it is possible that while begun before his reign, this census could have been associated with Quirinius’ name. (i.e. it started under Varus but was completed under Quirinius and therefore he was given the credit).

3. The final suggestion rests upon both Quirinius’ varied and distinguished career, and the notable incompleteness of Roman gubernatorial records. Brindle points out that “Quirinius held high office as the reward of proven ability and hard work.”9 He was a Roman senator; He served as governor of Crete and Cyrene; he was appointed consul and given command of the armies in the war against the Homonadenses (12 BC – 1 AD); he served as advisor to Gaius Caesar in Armenia and served as proconsul of Asia (2-3 AD). None of these rolls make him governor of Syria during the time of Jesus’ birth, but they do put him in a position of high rank in and around the region of Syria during the right time period. Hayles offers the suggestion that Quirinius was not the governor, but was the chosen administrator of the census and held a term as administrator that ran from Saturninus (9 – 7 BC) to Varus (7 – 6 BC).10 Given his rank and proven competence, it is not unimaginable that Quirinius could have given oversight to the census taken during Jesus’ birth, in which case Luke’s ascription is most certainly correct if not technically impeccable.

TCB said...

The Nature abstract on the destruction of Tall el-Hammam is absurdly thorough. Gee whiz. I read a much briefer summation of this study the other day, and I have to say, how unlucky do you have to be to live in the blast zone of a Tunguska-sized airburst just north of the Dead Sea? There's basically almost nowhere on Earth where the land would get salted that way. Following the oral tradition back to circa 1650 BCE, it's easy to suppose that Lot's wife was someone actually scalded to death by brine, hence the 'pillar of salt'. She wouldn't have been the only one:

These bones also were associated with geochemical anomalies. The rib bone is visibly salt-encrusted, measured by SEM–EDS at ~ 46 wt.% NaCl, and the NaCl content of the attached sediment was very high at ~ 54 wt.% (Fig. 46a). Anomalously high concentrations of salt were found only associated with the bones and sediment in the destruction layer at 1650 BCE, and not in strata above or below, indicating an unusual influx of salt at that time. The rib bone also exhibits several nuggets of silver and tin oxide (SnO2) (Fig. 46b) with morphologies suggesting that they splashed onto the bone and sediment while molten. Ag melts at ≥ 961 °C and SnO2 at ≥ 1630 °C, although elemental Sn melts at ~ 232 °C. The tin and silver nuggets are also similar to those observed in the surface of melted mudbricks in the palace that were found fused to meltglass in the temple complex (Fig. 46c) and observed splashed across loose sediment (Fig. 46d).

And the salt rendered the surrounding land unsuitable for agriculture for at least 600 years.

Numerous lines of evidence reveal the sudden, catastrophic destruction of TeH at ~ 1650 BCE2. At the same time, archaeologists excavating nearby sites noted what they termed the “Late Bronze Age Gap”2,14,143, during which ~ 16 cities/towns, including TeH, and > 100 smaller villages144,145,146 were abandoned across the 30-km-wide lower Jordan Valley. This abandonment continued for the entire Late Bronze Age and most of the early Iron Age. Population levels are estimated to have plummeted from ~ 45,000–60,000 people to only a few hundred nomadic tribespeople inhabiting the area following this destruction event2. For TeH, the occupation gap is > 600 years2.

I think the takeaway for Bible stories is, "Whatever it is, it probably did happen, but probably not exactly the way they wrote it down."

Larry Hart said...

What a difference 50 years makes...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/19/opinion/kyle-rittenhouse-not-guilty-vigilantes.html

Perhaps one of the more prominent Black groups that one could argue had a vigilante impulse was the Black Panthers. They were seen as a threat. As I have written before, in 1967, when the Panthers showed up armed at the California State Legislature, a largely white place of power, the public was aghast.

Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan said: “I don’t think that loaded guns is the way to solve a problem that should be solved between people of good will. And anyone who would approve of this kind of demonstration must be out of their mind.”

The California Legislature passed, and Reagan signed, the Mulford Act, which banned the open carry of firearms in the state. The N.R.A. supported the measure. The bill’s author, Don Mulford, said at the time, “We’ve got to protect society from nuts with guns.”

Tim H. said...

Something interesting posted at Centauri Dreams:
https://www.centauri-dreams.org/2021/11/19/wind-rider-a-high-performance-magsail/
I wonder how extensible the concept might be?

David Brin said...

Tim H I have made queries.

DD: "When Varus arrived, Syria was rich and Varus was poor. When he left, Varus was rich and Syria was poor. Varus then lost 2 legions and all of Germany in the Teuteborg Forest. An aside to be sure.

Thanks for the census info! Though I doubt anyone was required to leave their place of business (in the Galilee) and trudge all the way to Bethlehem to "register." It's just a way for a Nazarene to be portrayed as a member of the House of David.

CP said...

For what it's worth... I'm thinking back several years and don't recall the source of the article. But, if I'm recalling what I read correctly, it could be paraphrased as follows:

The early Christian church was very much a Jewish sect.

The key qualification for the messiah in Jewish tradition was that he be a first born son of the line of David.

Jesus's lineage is traditionally traced to David through Joseph.

Based on the earliest surviving copies translated with reference to contemporary usage, the word that was translated as "virgin" meant only "first born." So, Mary was a virgin until the birth of Jesus regardless of prior sexual activity.

The modern definition of virgin didn't enter the tradition until Christianity became established in Rome since, in Roman culture, decent from the "line of David" wasn't important but direct descent from a divinity for a messiah/hero/demigod was.

Of course, the mythicists who suggest that the entire story was a "retcon" to give Paul's visions a historical foundation have a case, not proof, but a case...

On a different topic

Speaking of airbursts:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/atacama-desert-comet-glass-airburst

Jon S. said...

Okay, I have a New American Standard Bible here. Open to the book of the Gospel According To Mark, and it starts in the day that John the Baptist baptized Jesus. No mention of his ancestry or early life whatsoever.

Daniel, were I alive in that time and received such a notice, I would interpret it as saying that I am to return to my home, that is, the place that I live, not to the city that my family may have come from years before. Why would the Romans want to know where my family used to live, when taking a census now?

duncan cairncross said...

it is essential that all those who are away from their homes be summoned to return to their own hearths so that they may perform the customary business of registration and apply themselves to the cultivation which concerns them.”

This suggests that it is people who are away from the place that they are living that return "home" - not return to the place where you were born

David Brin said...

Amen both of you. Paul was in a bind since everything had got way, way worse after Jesus. Hence in order for him and his mission to have been a 'success', he had to have overcome something far worse than the mere destruction of all of Jerusalem and half a million people. Hence, working and writing in Greece, his invention (or introduction) of a formerly very Greek concept of Original Sin that must be expiated by human sacrifice. And that alone explains why Jews were "obstinate" for the next 2000 years.

We see something similar is the WHY of anti-abortion frenzy. The Jesus Effect. That bearded, beaded hippie would side with liberals on every issue, so the right needed one that would over-rule all else. Baby-killing. Suffices. To them.

Anonymous said...

Blogger David Brin said...
Mark is the only gospel possibly written by an eyewitness.

Eyewitness of what?
Some crafty crook posing as mesiah?

Bob Neinash said...

Blogger Larry Hart said...
Since there is no one empowered to declare war on behalf of "the right wing" (or "the left wing" for that matter), and no discernable entity for either to declare war on, I'm curious as to what the line between "not in a war" and "in a war" even looks like.

Go study History. French and Russian revolutions especially.
Or, Hutu-Tutsy Masacre.
In a time of pervasive tribalism it'll be tribe against tribe.


Y'know, the more I think about it, the more the fundamental Christian backstory seems to be the Q-Anon theory of its day.

Than you are i-word.
Because that story showed itself as too damn persistent and powerfull.

CP said...

Blogger David Brin said...
LH my answer is to get out there and say:

"You are waging open war against all fact using professions, including all the folks who understand ballistics, chemistry, biology, virology, genetics, nanotech, cybertech and nuclear. And you think that shrieking at us (at behest of your oligarch lords) is going to frighten and intimidate us? Waving guns aound (when liberals have been qquietly arming-up since 2001)?

What a laughing stock of unhealthy humor.
Firtst, because you yourself showed yourself as stubborn warrior against facts and science.
Second, because of your notion of transparency that is just an euphemism for a censure and thwart of free thought.
You really are funky and entertaining with your sick staunts of thought. And I'm glad to wish you to continue doing it for long-long-long years.
You are my pleasure.

Alfred Differ said...

David,

I have a copy of The Escape. It was a fun read, but I'll admit that my first time through I was actually imagining it as something kinda like a radio-play. All audio. Not that people are doing those much anymore, but that's how I approached it.

I've read the tumbledowns story. I suspect getting their voices at the right pitch would make or break any 'acted' form of it. Might give too much away up front. 8)

Daniel Duffy said...

"trudge all the way to Bethlehem"

From Nazareth to Bethlehem is less than 100 miles. About a week's journey by mule even with a pregnant wife. A shorter distance than most had to travel from their villages to the temple in Jerusalem at Passover.

We have no direct record of Herod's slaughtering of the boy babies, but such an act would be completely in character for a king that slaughtered most of his own family.

CP - I highly recommend the video on Jesus' family tree. In addition to his official lineage it also examines whether he was an only child or part of a big family with 4 brothers and an unknown number of sisters. Also which one of his apostles were related to him (not just his first cousin John the Baptist).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8jpqeg8Gws

As for his siblings, I think the Greek Orthodox version - that these were Joseph's kids from an earlier marriage and thus were Jesus' half-brothers and sisters makes the most sense (Catholics - Mary was perpetual virgin and those are actually "cousins", Protestant - Mary and Joseph were a normal husband and wife with a normal family of kids). In a pre-industrial agricultural community men tended to outlive women, due to the dangers of child birth. If Joseph was an older widower with kids to take care of he would want a younger wife - which explains why Joseph was already dead when Jesus began his ministry at age 30 and his mother Mary was still alive.

Jon and duncan - as my citation mentions, going back to your ancestral home was possible more of a Jewish requirement than a Roman - with the Romans modifying their methods for local conditions:

With respect to a census, as Bock points out, “Jewish culture would require an ancestral registration.” - from the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.

Daniel Duffy said...

As for the Slaughter of the Innocents, WF Albright, who was considered a primary archaeologist of his era, did some extensive research on populations at the time of Jesus. His estimate is around 300 for a village the size of Bethlehem holding 6 or 7 children under 1 year of age.

So that would be 3 or 4 boys killed by Herod's mercenaries.

Robert said...

Baby-killing. Suffices. To them.

Given that they're apparently OK with school massacres, high infant mortality, poor childhood nutrition and medical care, poor education, etc etc…

It's not about the babies. If it was they'd care what happens after they are born. It's about controlling women.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

@OGH: Sorry, but your theory on Paul's motivations goes beyond the evidence. Modern scholarship agrees that Paul was dead, if not by the riots of 66 CE, then certainly by the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. Moreover, Original Sin was not found in its familiar Christian doctrinal form until the fourth century.

The seven letters considered authentic Pauline documents do mention sin as universal, but the core around which the concepts were built was in Hebrews, which certainly was not written by Paul himself, but by some other first-century disciple. From the evidence, it was a student of Paul's who was, like Paul himself, a Hellenized and well-educated Diaspora Jew -- but one who was a much better writer in Greek than Paul himself. (The interweaving of Greek philosophy and Tanakh scholarship is deeper in Hebrews than anywhere else, and the prose contains none of the awkward constructions found in the genuine Pauline epistles.)

The bind of the Hebrew Epistler was a different one -- justifying their conversion and arguing against abandoning the Christian flock in the face of both Jewish and Roman persecution. But the overboard argumentation is similar -- and, as designed, drove a deep wedge between the emerging Talmudic rabbinate and the Christians.

Finally, the entire epistolary, Pauline and otherwise, has to be considered in the light of the debate described in Acts -- deciding whether Christianity was a subset, a disjoint set, or an intersecting set of Judaism. Hebrews is the strongest argument for the disjoint camp -- one which has dominated for most of post-Second Temple history. The subset argument collapsed quickly after Peter sided against it, but the intersecting camp was not really defeated in argument -- they were simply too few in number after the Scattering to continue the discussion, and the disjoint camp won by default.

As for the Star of Bethlehem -- the census thing makes no sense, but the whole star business is too detailed and too variant from Jewish practice to be total fiction. I do not understand why the hypothesis regarding the nova of February 24, 4 BC does not get much traction; the typical 1-2 month afterglow would put the visibility smack dab in the early-spring season described by Luke.

Don Gisselbeck said...

The Slacktivist thinks right wing Christian abortion politics came about because they spectacularly failed the moral
test of civil rights.
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2016/03/11/this-is-what-abortion-politics-is-for/

David Brin said...

Alfred I just sent you the Tumbledowns script. I agree that The Escape could easily be performed as a radio/audio play. I have been unable to find even one team of covid-cramped actors to do a table reading, though. Alas.

DD you are being very informative and thanks. I must correct a few of my impressions. I am unconvinced Joseph had to trudge to Bethlehem except to establish his son’s Davidic bona fides. (Like in that 30 Rock episode when Jack is desperate to get his wife in labor back across the Canadian border so the child could become president.) But the murder of infants is insanely impossible. Hero’s grip on power was tenuous and that would have got him killed the instant he said it. The sole purpose of that story is to make a connection to Moses.

Catfish, your erudition, too, was enlightening. Still,it is blatant that James and the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem did not trust Paul’s conversion and sent him away to convert the heathens as a way to get him out of town… and then nearly all the Jewish Christians died defending their assigned portion of the wall in 70 CE. Leaving the Greek segment dominant. Exacerbated by the raving Patmosian cult that is harming us, to this very day.

While Original Sin may not have been explicit till later, it is clearly stated that Jesus’s mission to Earth was a huge success because his human sacrifice (explicitly forbidden as anathema in many places) cleared a path through obstacles to afterlife.

Paradoctor said...

Larry Hart 12:51 PM:
It would start with assassinations. Gosar has already issued such threats. After censure, he reposted the threat, and is vying to hire a made man.

Don Gisselbeck said...

The Slacktivist thinks that right wing Christian abortion politics is a result of being spectacularly wrong about civil rights.
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2016/03/11/this-is-what-abortion-politics-is-for/

GMT -8 said...

On a happier (and entirely irrelevant to the current discussion) note, my wife decided that we're having Chanukkah in Santa Monica! About 10 years ago she was going through a box and found an old cassette that she had recorded an episode of Prairie Home Companion on, where, for the first time ever, a performer sang CHANUKKAH IN SANTA MONICA. What a hoot. So we are going to take our travel menorah, go down to the boardwalk, and have some fun.

Take care everyone!

David Brin said...

Heh. Have fun, especially since we do remember what GMT stood for! ;-)

Brother went to SaMo High.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Robert said ...

It's not about the babies. If it was they'd care what happens after they are born. It's about controlling women.


It's not even that much.

The abortion issue gives conservatives a nice, self-righteous, holier-than-thou justification to denounce and ignore any and all arguments from the opposition as the immoral arguments of evil baby-killers, and is also used as a tool to fire up the base.

Anything more than that is just a convenient bonus.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

especially since we do remember what GMT stood for! ;-)


Not that I want to make it a thing or anything, but...

Until we go back on daylight time in mid March, California is GMT -6.

Der Oger said...

Varus role in Judea is somewhat disputed, as some historians assume that he ordered a lower ranking official to leave the treasuries of Herodes and the Temple untouched, and that fellow simply disobeyed him. (Apparently, Varus wasn't especially gifted in choosing and handling his lieutenants.) He could not do more than put down that rebellion, in a way Romans usually did.

Varus was senatorial proconsul for Africa, another wealthy province, and enjoyed a high standing with Augustus and his successor, Tiberius. He was hardly a poor man. I believe that there is a grain of truth, though: He rose through the standard magistrate career which must have cost enormous sums of money, and it was a common practice to regain these fortunes once they moved to proconsul status, even in republican times.

Larry Hart said...

I said:

Until we go back on daylight time in mid March, California is GMT -6.


Actually, that's Chicago, As is the GMT -5 during daylight time.

So now I forget why the nym made sense in the first place. I do remember a lively discussion about it being minus instead of plus.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Larry Hart said ...


Not that I want to make it a thing or anything, but...

Until we go back on daylight time in mid March, California is GMT -6.


Point of order. Eastern Standard Time is GMT-5. Pacific Standard Time is GMT-8. Pacific Daylight Time is GMT-7.

Robert said...

That is just spectacular. I bet I can hear that screaching sounds of wheels in your brain spinning in foul try to protect your ego from admiting your own intellectual inferiority. You really do think that by covering your mistakes and misdeeds you can prove yourself as sane and rational, even somewhat wise person? While that is common sense that only by admitting our errs and learning to avoid em one can became better. That's why little children go to school - to educate themself.
What a hilarity to ensure.
Watching you, is such an unholy pleasure. Like observing trudging of blind baby-kittens. How they squill, how they upsidazing. And etc.
Only, you'll never grow up, and never be'll better.
Only dimming and demise.
Deserved.

CP said...

That is just spectacular. I bet I can hear that screaching sounds of wheels in your brain spinning in foul try to protect your ego from admiting your own intellectual inferiority. You really do think that by covering your mistakes and misdeeds you can prove yourself as sane and rational, even somewhat wise person? While that is common sense that only by admitting our errs and learning to avoid em one can became better. That's why little children go to school - to educate themself.
What a hilarity to ensure.
Watching you, is such an unholy pleasure. Like observing trudging of blind baby-kittens. How they squill, how they upsidazing. And etc.
Only, you'll never grow up, and never be'll better.
Only dimming and demise.
Deserved.

Spirit of Enlightment said...

Well, you failed the test. Again.
That proves that you are imminent danger and evil enemy of Enlightment.
Nothing else.

BD said...

Good, goood. You prove me was right choosing you as disciple.
Now I see you deserving not only to lick, but even to suck... my acc.
My little succer.

Anyway. You are welcome on a Dark Side. And your labourous work to involve more and more people into our foul ways will be seen and revarded.

Who knows, maybe we'd make you next put in.
So. Keep working bro.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

Oh good, I don't have to dogpile on the corrections. The way I remember is that 90 degrees west -- exactly one quarter circle from London -- passes through New Orleans (about thirty blocks east of Jackson Square, to be exact -- including the [in]famous Lower Ninth Ward). Thus Central Standard Time must be GMT -6, and the rest flows from there.

Likewise, 105W passes directly through Denver Union Station -- IIRC, it's even marked. 120W is the vertical portion of the CA-NV border; it strikes the shore at El Capitan Beach. 135W passes through Whitehorse, Yukon; Anchorage Airport is bisected by 150W, very helpful for air navigation. Eight more degrees puts you at Pearl Harbor. In t'other direction, 75W skirts the Delaware coast, waves hello to Cape May, NJ, hits the northeast 'burbs of Philly and just misses Cooperstown, NY. 66W is San Juan Airport, PR, and 60W is all the way to Cape Breton Island at the east end of Nova Scotia.

This has been your unparalleled journey across America; I'm your guide and map geek, Catfish N. Cod. (bows)

@Don G.: That's the most direct connection I've seen cited! As the article describes, it's not specifically civil rights itself that was the cause; it was the tactical error of using "Christian" education as a means of dodging integration, abandoning plausible deniability for (most) Protestant sects in the process. Of course it was also part of a strategic ploy; taking up the formerly Catholic-only cause of abortion created an alliance of convenience. Abortion is also only one of many such culture-war maneuvers launched in the seventies; it has been the one with the most staying power as the Bible-thumpers sequentially lost argument after argument. School prayer, censorship of obscenity and porn, creationism, the "Satanic panic" over D&D, blue laws, alcohol regulation, lotteries and gambling, LBGT rights... the "Religious Right" has lost more than it has won, despite its many institutional advantages. Issues still in play include enforced ignorance of human biology ("abstinence-only" reproductive disinformation), apocalyptic Zionism, and drug enforcement (though its demand for eternal cannabis prohibition continues to slip). The one issue they actually have the massive majority support they claim is on eugenics and euthanasia.

Daniel Duffy said...

"But the murder of infants is insanely impossible."

After the 20th century you can say that?

Larry Hart said...

Catfish 'n Cod:

Thus Central Standard Time must be GMT -6, and the rest flows from there.


That is correct, but I thought the person using "GMT -5" as a nym lives in California. Maybe that's the part I'm wrong about.

Larry Hart said...

Catfish 'n Cod (again) :

This has been your unparalleled journey across America; I'm your guide and map geek, Catfish N. Cod. (bows)


In his novel Galapagos, Vonnegut makes a reference to the Ecuadoran capital, Quito, being on a longitude line which goes through Manhattan. While I'm not sure that's exactly right, it's close enough to show the amazing fact that some of the Pacific Ocean is east of Manhattan.

David Brin said...

The Panama canal runs from Atlantic northwest to Pacific southeast!

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/22/opinion/american-democracy.html

My friend Chris Hayes, the MSNBC host, uses the phrase “the bad feeling” to describe certain kinds of stories about America’s democratic unraveling. “The bad feeling is that pit of the stomach feeling that we’re not OK, and it’s not clear we’re going to be OK,” he told me.


True dat.

scidata said...

I know a Peruvian, and we chat often about Machu Picchu. It's well to the east of Toronto!

scidata said...

I am so grateful for the Audible versions of OGH's books - wondrous worlds. As I've admitted before, reading is my greatest weakness.

I only wish that some other key titles had Audible versions (probably not worth making them). An example is my anthropologist uncle's "Ninstints: Haida World Heritage Site" (1983). It describes a civilization collapse that Asimov could have really feasted on had it been written 40 years earlier. Uncle George had a great booming voice that enthralled us as kids. Storytelling could dissolve grievance and heal the world. The antisocial and misanthropic could invite love instead of hate if only they knew how to touch another's heart.

Der Oger said...

@ Catfish:
The one issue they actually have the massive majority support they claim is on eugenics and euthanasia.

Well, there was a historic precedence for this. I used to work at a mental health facility with a history of these things happening through the years 33-45. Then, it was the Catholic Church who spoke out against it, in a way the Nazis could not ignore or silence.

the "Satanic panic" over D&D,
There was a rematch, though it hardly had a religious background: Gamer Gate. In hindsight, it might have been a sandbox or test run for the 2016 presidential elections.

duncan cairncross said...

Euthanasia?

We had a vote a couple of years back nearly two thirds of New Zealanders voted in favor of "The End of Life Choice Act"

I suspect the US numbers would be similar

TCB said...

Holy cow, Punta Pariñas in Peru is the westernmost point in mainland South America, and it is a full degree to the east of me in Asheville, NC. Huh.

@ Larry Hart:

My friend Chris Hayes, the MSNBC host, uses the phrase “the bad feeling” to describe certain kinds of stories about America’s democratic unraveling. “The bad feeling is that pit of the stomach feeling that we’re not OK, and it’s not clear we’re going to be OK,” he told me.

So, here's how we could be in a US far right dictatorship in a year and a half: 1. The Republicans win the House of Representatives. They're rigging that now. 2. They Choose Donald Trump (somehow still not in prison at that point) as Speaker. Although it is firm tradition to pick a senior Congressperson for this spot, there's no rule against doing this. If they had the votes they could give the Speaker's gavel to anybody. 3. With Trump third in line, it's now just a matter of arranging 'accidents' for President Biden and VP Kamala Harris.

After January 6, none of this sounds impossible.

Alfred Differ said...

Most of South America is east of of CONUS states.

Fun fact. If you want to fly a rocket to an orbit with a 51 degree inclination, you don't have to go far off shore from Vandenberg/Lompoc to do it without your possible debris pattern from a mishap crossing a coastline until you overfly parts of southern Chile and Argentina. Most South America is THAT far east of us. Mexico too.


I remember the Satanic Panic. I kept some of their propaganda for years as a reminder to me of how they aimed to control thoughts. I recently digitized the one pamphlet I still had, posted it to my account at DeviantArt, and then did a little exorcism on my filing cabinet. What remains of the pamphlet will moulder in the dump because I decided not to dignify it with a burning.

https://www.deviantart.com/adiffer/art/DarkDungeons-Propaganda-889839442

Robert said...

Der Oger, eugenics laws remained on the books in North America into at least the 70s. (Alberta's sterilization act was finally repealed in 1972 — South Carolina did sterilizations until 1983, not certain other US states.)

http://waragainsttheweak.com

Interestingly, the Nazi eugenics program was based on the American one:

https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/1796


There's enough shame to go around. No need for one country to hog it all.

David Brin said...

The Flat Earthers are doing what all of that ilk do, when refuted... doubling down on the mystical inanity. In a blatant hearkening to Teutonic (Yggdrasil) mythology (a romanticism that then fed right into naziism) This latest chant incantation spends 90 minutes persuading more of the gullible than you'd believe possible.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/09/flat-earth-truthers/499322/

David Brin said...

Interesting: https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/is-chinas-catch-up-growth-over

GMT -8 said...

I am now GMT-8 for the next week. Stuck in a long line waiting to get our rental car. Over 2 hours in this airport now. Yawn.

Robert said...

Oh, I did said "There's enough shame to go around."
But there one thing that need to be added to it.
While one countries was victims of that shame in and out.
Other countries became benefactors of it.
Guess what side USA was most of its time?
Like Great Depression USA made great use of the wheat Stalin robbed from hungry Ukraine. To pay for that weapon making equipment he put in a great use during WW2, to kill once more ukrainians.

duncan cairncross said...

Interesting article

I predict that its bollocks! and that China will still keep growing at about 5% for the next few years - maybe until 2030

GMT -8 said...

My wife and I watched that made for TV movie MAZES AND MONSTERS that started a young Tom Hanks that was about the D&D Satanic Panic. I don't think I saw that movie when it originally aired but I remember reading (or even owning) a book about the panic (I think I got it at a library book sale. As a rabid D&D player in the late 70s and early 80s I found it hilarious. I explained it to my parents and said it was a lot like the PBS shows where various former govt officials would play out a scenario. One show was called THE CONSTITUTION: THE DELICATE BALANCE. They were cool with me playing.

Tony Fisk said...

re: time zones. A work colleague recently unearthed an interesting bit of trivia. Stuck on the WA side of the Nullabor is the town of Eucla; which recognises a time zone that is UTC +8.45.
https://www.danielbowen.com/uploads/2020/09/World_Time_Zones_Map.png

scidata said...

DART launch successful, planetary defense system tests begun.
In your face dinosaurs.

To Flat Earthers: Calm down, okay? We're gonna friggin' save you.
(geek astronomer victory scene from "Battleship")

reason said...

David I think this:
"
I do expect black activists... I hope very carefully - to declare in advance: "here is footage of white idiots flaunting weapons as they go shopping. On this date and before cameras, we intend to do EXACTLY as they did, armed exactly the same and visiting exactly the same stores at exactly the same times. Let's see the hypocrisy manifest.'"

is naive.

The modern GOP cannot be embarrassed by hypocrisy. Hypocrisy of the whole point of their existence, that rules that apply to others don't apply to them.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

@Larry: (1) I think it was a pun originally. (2) As 75W is west of NYC, that can't be right. checks The American city due north of Quito turns out to be Charlottesville, VA -- the quadrangles of the University of Virginia and of Universidad Central de Ecuador, at least by the geodesic used by Google Maps, are the same longitude to within a half-arcsecond.

@Der Oger: There are no words. And yes, the Catholics stood firm when many others failed the acid test.

@duncan: You'd be wrong on that one -- euthanasia has come up by referendum in a number of states, and passed in only a few.

@TCB: The hostile takeover of the House is certainly in the plans, but even if that gambit works -- there's no way TFG wants to be Speaker for any length of time whatsoever. Besides which, he's not actually after power; what he wants is to win. To crush his enemies and hear the lamentations of their women. Since that now includes not a few Republicans, it's less clear how much of an advantage he brings to their table. He has almost zero interest in managing anything that he can't weaponize against grudge targets.

The danger of a neo-Confederate House starts with a neo-Confederate House. The likes of Greene, Gosar, Jordan, Cawthorn, and Gaetz will be put in charge of the key committees. The chamber will be converted to a nonstop disinformation and sabotage shop. It's not even a given that they would raise the debt ceiling, much less pass a budget. If they think themselves sufficiently safe from elections and have paramilitaries guarding them/menacing dissenters, they might think they can deliberately cause trainwrecks and reap support from the resulting suffering. It's clear there's no Republican on that side of the Rotunda willing and able to stop them.

That this has a high chance of backfiring does not make the collateral damage any less horrendous.

Whether TFG himself or a protégé/minion is put forth as the "candidate", the primary danger to the office of President is a second attempt at conspiracy between (i) state legislatures usurping sovereignty from their citizens, (ii) attempting to threaten and coerce electors and/or putting forth false slates of electors, (iii) Members of Congress again sabotaging the certification of electoral votes, (iv) a Supreme Court with a clear partisan bias, and (v) another 'mob' to suppress resistance to the shenanigans. TFG himself does not scare me half as much as the Council for National Policy, a cross between Business Plot 2.0 and the Scudderite/Gilead factions described by Heinlein and Atwood well in advance.

Jon S. said...

There's technically no rule stating that the Speaker of the House has to be a member of the House of Representatives. There is, however, a rule that only permits elected members of the House of Representatives onto the House floor while it's in session. Is Trump supposed to be Speaker while sitting in Mar-a-Lago? Or maybe up in the gallery?

Paradoctor said...

reason:
Precisely. I like to say that right-wing hypocrisy is not a glitch, nor is it a feature. Right-wing hypocrisy is the operating system. That's how it gets things done.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

@reason, paradoctor: You're both right and both wrong. The fanatics of the far right don't feel shame at hypocrisy; indeed they see it as a useful tool, both as a blade to provoke and divide, and as a shield to block rationality. Exposing hypocrisy won't change them or even alter their course.

But the point is not to engage with them -- they have already, by their own choice, forfeited their ability to be part of the society of peaceful discussion. The point is to disenchant, by demonstrating reality in ways very hard to obfuscate or dissuade, that can't be avoided by changing the subject. It's a tricky thing to do, and I'm not sure OGH has exactly the right way to go about it, but the general concept is sound -- and it is PRECISELY the strategy of King and Lewis and Shuttlesworth.

Most people are NOT fanatics, and most people ARE reasonable -- when they are not being manipulated emotionally, or through disinformation and propaganda, or when deceptions succeed. That's not to be Pollyannish... getting clear, sober truth across in the face of determined opposition is HARD.

But worth the effort.

David Brin said...

Exactly Catfish. the aim is to expose the fanatics not as fanatics as much as no-balls cowards, unwilling to back up their blowhard yammers with manly wagers, the way thei dads and grampas would have felt compared by something called honor. Or oath-keeping.

That won't change them, but others will see it, espcvially (in some cases) their wives. If that results in one more free woman and one more incel, fine. It chips away at the treason.

duncan cairncross said...

Re Euthanasia

Most people are in favor of letting people make their own choice -
BUT the devil is in the details!

People are (correctly) worried about the possibility of someone getting down in the dumps and ending it - or of the "inheritance accelerator"

The Act would legalise voluntary euthanasia for those with a terminal illness and less than six months left to live, if confirmed to be eligible by two doctors

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_New_Zealand_euthanasia_referendum

David Brin said...

Good discussion and argument. But moving on.

Have a great holiday weekend.

onward

onward