Saturday, February 26, 2022

Best way to help Ukraine and peace and justice? Shine searing light on those wrecking the world!

While one hopes for good news from Ukraine, like verification of tales of Russian conscientious defectors, emulating Viktor Belenko... it's also important to remember that this is a worldwide oligarchic putsch that Putin has been ring-leading for a decade. The biggest and best thing the West can do, other than immediate support for Ukrainian resistance?

...would be to dismantle Kremlinite fifth column networks that the slightly-relabeled KGB vastly expanded during their hold on the White House. This would entail not only sanctions but housecleaning of a sort that could bring pain to many of our own elites. Especially those now being blackmailed. An example from a few days ago:

  “A massive leak from one of the world’s biggest private banks, Credit Suisse, has exposed the hidden wealth of clients involved in torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption and other serious crimes.”  

These things keep happening as I predicted in Earth (1989) - that ever-more crimes and cheating would be revealed by whistle blowers… 

…and that it will never be enough to truly shred (with light) the worldwide networks of cheaters. Indeed, that danger to them is likely one reason the cheater-mafias all seem united now, in desperate moves to quash democracy and rule-of-law. And boy are they desperate, it seems! (See bottom re the "weak Biden" theme that's rampant on the right.)

For every spill like this one, there are likely ten that the oligarchs managed to quash just in time, “phew,” through murder, blackmail, bribery etc. Like the Epstein Files, or the Deutsche Bank records, or David Pecker’s safe… or a myriad other potentially lethal-to-aristocracy revelations that explain why the distilled chant every night on Fox amounts to: “Don’t look! No one should look at us!”

And yes, the one thing Joe Biden could do to smash the mafia putsch would be to appoint a truth commission to recommend clemency for blackmail victims who come forward.

== Demanding extreme transparency to save all our lives from 'black ball' dangers? ==

If I have been hammering Transparency since 1995, others have taken it up. The latest, dour Jonah-of-Doom Nick Bostrom, appeals for salvation-via-light in apocalyptic terms, via his latest missive about existential threats

How vulnerable is the world? - Sooner or later a technology capable of wiping out human civilisation might be invented. How far would we go to stop it?”   

(If I just now sounded critical, let me add that I agree with him about most things! Except the pessimism part… oh, and the incessant implication that “I invented all of these ideas!!”

Bostrom’s ruminations about a “black ball” existential threat is one that’s long been pondered both in science fiction and at fretful intelligence agencies. Let's say a harmful technology arrives that is easy for malignant forces to implement and amplify. Until today, many harmful threats like nuclear explosives were ‘hard’ to implement without large, national systems, and hence were controllable. But progress in all sorts of technologies like AI and miniaturization and genetics suggest a lone practitioner might someday wield vast power.

Bostrom pays less attention to the other thing that counters a ‘black ball’ scenario, the RATIO of sane vs. insane practitioners of the art. Take the anthrax attacks of late 2001, when hundreds of skilled and decent biologists acted quickly and in concert to help agencies thwart a mad scheme by one rarely skilled-but-indecent practitioner. So long as that ratio converges in an open and free society, 'black balls' may be staunched without imposing utter Orwellian surveillance or quashing the rapid advance of both freedom and progress.

But okay, let's go with the notion: what if there appears a tech so universally easy and devastating that those two saving graces aren’t enough? (And this possibility is often ranked high on any list of theories to explain the Fermi Paradox. Think about it. Or visit comments.) 

Bostrom posits that some kind of universal transparency/surveillance is the only conceivable palliative that might prevent catastrophe… and then proceeds to doubt that ornery humans would put up with such a state. 

(There is a Rising Power in the world whose court intellectuals are already raising exactly Bostrom’s point, in support of total control from the top by a Benevolent all-surveilling State.)

Alas, Nick seems incapable of perceiving the other way that light might usefully cancel out black balls. Not via top-down surveillance, but by lateral/reciprocal transparency and accountability, in which citizens themselves are the ones using omniveillance and sousveillance to spread general awareness, catching malevolent actions far quicker than any state protective caste.

Yes, sure, that sounds superficially a lot like the social credit systems for crowd-based mass enforcement of conformity being pushed in some parts of the globe. Only general transparency need not be oppressive if three conditions are met.

- Complete decoupling from state power.

- Sousveillance that pours light especially upon all elites.

- A social value system that highly prizes MYOB. Or Mind Your Own Business. And the rights of individual eccentricity. Stances preached relentlessly by Hollywood.

If we have all three of those conditions, then universal light will expose for opprobrium especially the voyeurs, gossips and bullies who would use transparency against people who are just minding their own business. (A logical flaw in that odious, drek-propaganda drivel, the book and flick The Circle.) 

Yes, this utopian alternative use of transparency sounds far more difficult to implement than Bostrom's state-centered Universal Surveillance. 

But yes, there really is only one path out of these messes - through the cleansing power of light. And the fact that so many elites reflexively oppose it means that they are far, far less-sapient than their hired sycophants flatter them into believing. 

It is vastly more likely to catch those black balls in time, while achieving that positive sum wonder... a society that's creatively rambunctious and moving forward at light speed.

And finally... something different to throw in...

== Damning State to State Differences ==

I’ve long held that the Union side in this phase of the 240 year American Civil War desperately needs better tactics… the reason I wrote Polemical Judo.  

Among the moves that we desperately need is to utterly smash a baseless canard that we’ve heard all our lives One that seemed valid and cute, when it came from Andy Griffith, then became increasingly toxic when spread aggressively by Jeff Foxworthy and the Blue Collar Comedy Tour guys… an assertion - both implicit and explicit - that “We may be less educated. But that’s a virtue! Since we down-home folks are more polite, down-Earthy, honest and moral than city/university people.”

Bull. A million times bull.

Oh, I’ll grant that slowness of speech and using “sir” and “ma’am” does make for a nicer sounding surface than city sidewalk gruffness. But New Yorkers are just as likely to be helpful, if they see a real need. And the rest is just a pure lie!

Regions that are best called ‘confederate’ have been net importers of tax dollars for more than a century, so griping about ‘taxation is theft’ becomes ironic. And as for morality? 

Name a turpitude that isn’t more prevalent in your average GOP run state (aside from Utah): from teen sex rates, pregnancy, abortion and STDs to domestic violence, crime, gambling, divorce and so many other metrics of poor self-control, like obesity. And yes, addiction. Not just to substances but mind-numbing drugs like Facebook and Fox News. 

The risk of dying from Covid is 50% higher in red states. 

Obesity rates across states (CDC)
The U.S. distribution of the Seven Deadly Sins - portrayed in this set of graphics - is deeply damning

And yet, in fact, things are even more imbalanced than the graphics portray, because three of the ‘sins’ are weirdly defined in order to cut the Confederacy some slack! 

Gluttony ought to show obesity rates, not the number of fast food franchises, for example. The map of Greed is just absurd, since both the rich and the poor are attracted to states with vigorous economies, and at least the Northeast and far western states are trying to do something about disparities. Sloth is just weirdly defined. But the other four? They reflect pure statistical truth.

The worst hypocrisies have to do with divorce rates and gambling, which the parents of these folks deemed wretched sins. Now though? The divorce rate among just Republican office holders is FAR above that of Democrats, especially at the top, where demonstrable child predation and pedophilia occur at rates vastly higher than for top dems. (Please, oh please offer wager stakes on that?)

 And today’s GOP is owned by a consortium that includes almost every non-native casino owner, including those based in Moscow and Macao. Which brings us back full circle. The best way to defeat the worldwide mafia/oligarchy putsch against our grandchildren's future is to clean our own house. With light.

* PS re the foxite narrative that the Ukraine war is all due to "Biden's weakness." 
Um, that isn't how this sort of thing works. 

During a regime of weakness - or one where the enemy controls the White House - that is when the enemy bides his time! Because time is on the tyrant's side. Hitler and his staff were planning war for 1947.  He only yanked the schedule forward when reports came in of rapid British re-arming at rates that would soon outstrip German production. This was all laid out in a senior thesis, later a best-seller, called While England Slept, by a Harvard student, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. 

Likewise, it is vastly more likely that Putin rushed his war of conquest because time was no longer his friend, not only because of Biden administration rampings up of Ukraine aid, but also (I posit) things that have very likely been done by our unleashed intel agencies during the last year that they have not been quisling-restrained.

Envision current staunch Ukrainian resistance enhanced by 6 more months of NATO aid. Then tell me which narrative makes more sense.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Science Fiction: big picture perspectives - and potential nominees for YA fiction!

Diverting attention from rumors of war... and even Cool War scenarios predicted by our genre, (ignored by today's press), let's dive into aspects of the state of science fiction today.

First announcing: I am pleased to be a guest speaker and teacher at the 2022 Odyssey Writing Workshop for rising authors of science fiction and fantasy! Six scholarships available; application deadline is April 1. And I again I offer free advice for rising authors on my website.

And here are eight books about what it means to be human, including Sarah Galley's The Echo Wife, Mur Lafferty's Six Wakes, Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, as well as Kiln People: "The plot hits all the high points of a standard P.I. pulp novel in an entertaining way, but to me the fun part is the way Brin wrestles with the morality of creating armies of sentient creatures whose only hope in life is to live long enough to contribute a few memories back to their creators."

 == Does greater acceptance of SF threaten it? ==

Should we be both pleased and worried that science fiction is now in very good odor, in the literary-arty communities? 

Until very recently, the New Yorker and Harpers and The Atlantic would regularly run hit pieces dissing the genre! Now, hardly a month passes without them - and NPR - doing SF roundups or glowing reviews! (Such as this recent New Yorker one on K.S. Robinson.)  Is it related - or coincidence - that similar grand toutings of SF pour across media centered in Beijing?

I do not draw simplistic conclusions. There are many factors. I'll only posit that SF has always been the genre most-welcoming of diverse creators of impudently questioning art. Its continued work, pioneering that trend is a central feature and pride.

What I will do is announce to Worldcon voters that I have two series of YA or Young Adult novels that qualify for consideration for for the Hugo Awards. Nominations are now open, to be given at the much anticipated World Science Fiction Convention, Chicon,

These two optimistic and enthralling YA series are also eligible for SFWA members to consider for the Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction!  

In the "Out of Time" series only teens can teleport through time and space! Dollops of fun, adventure... and optimism for a change! Out of Time novels so far have been written by SF legends Nancy Kress and Sheila Finch along with newcomers October Santerelli and Patrick Freivald, emphasizing diversity, progress, adventure, friendship, courage and hope.

In my more personal YA series...The Colony High series... aliens kidnap a California high school and come to regret it! 

SFWA members -- and Hugo nominator-members of Worldcon -- write to me and I will happily send over all five published novels in the Out of Time series. And more are in the queue, by a diversity of young talents!

== Getting serious! ==

"We need more parables of what’s possible.“ So begins a list of novels that portray humanity rising to meet ecological challenges, instead of just wringing hands in despair. An excellent compilation in Forbes! I feel in good company. Guess about-which book the following is said?

“A large cast of colourful and carefully outlined characters help us navigate a world where the planet’s days are numbered. An artificial black hole has fallen into the Earth’s core, prompting a story that addresses issues including endangered species, global warming, climate refugees and how we adapt and still find adventure. Woven into its pages are many predictions, many of which – tablet computers, sea level rise, eyeglass cameras – have already come true…” writes Solitaire Townsend of Earth.

Meanwhile, an interesting essay and reading list on The Strategy Bridge site appraises how useful and liberating science fiction can be to the strategic thinker. The authors touch upon several topics I explore in Vivid Tomorrows: Science Fiction and Hollywood, such as the role of dire warnings in helping prevent bad things (like nuclear apocalypse) but also the role SF can play in offering scenarios for hope and positive outcomes:

Reading science fiction nurtures hope that there is a better future. While conflict, catastrophe, and climate change feature in many of these novels and movies, much science fiction is highly optimistic in nature. Uplifting stories of positive futures—or of hope and agency in the face of dystopian futures—fill national security professionals with optimism that we can drive our services to make positive possibilities happen.

“… Science fiction permits individuals and organizations to nurture innovative thinking without running afoul of organizational cultures. Because it is fiction it does not interfere with current policies, providing a safe place for ideas that do not threaten current institutional rice bowls—but they might and should in the future.”

While I might have suggested some additions and changes to the suggested reading list, it is nevertheless a very good sign that leaders in so many sectors of life - including defense - now understand the importance of the literary genre that contemplates change.

== More sci fi news ==

In Mashable, Chris Taylor offers an exceptionally cogent comparison of the recent hit Station Eleven (based on the novel by Emily St. John Mandel) to The Postman and much else in the post-apocalypse genre. This Mashable review is interesting in its discussion of what it might take to bring down civilization with, say, a virus. And how our Covid Trauma was so vastly milder than any pandemic of science fiction. And even at worst, a mere plague seems unlikely to do the job, all by itself. I do quibble over one thing, though...

... that in The Postman the fall was not ONLY due to nuclear war. That calamity merely slays 70% or so. But it does wreck our deeply competent institutions, so we become vulnerable to a triple whammy of following blows - disease and climate chaos... and finally onslaught by waves of ultra right-wing militias, bent on recreating feudalism... what the worst males always have done, in rocky times.

That it would take all four to blast everything down was a key point to my story, because I always deemed 'single failure' apocalypse tales to be simplistic, under-rating our civilization's inherent resilience.

And so, in a way, I suppose I agree with Mr. Taylor. We are much, much tougher than the romantic extremes of far left or entire right say we are. At least... we had better be.

== Repeating an appeal ==

We already have plenty... but if you are both a video game player and a reader of fine SF novels, it would be a favor to write to me with any specific overlaps you spot between The Postman and the hugely lucrative game Death Stranding. Specifics in the details, please. We already have a pile, plus dozens of published reviews commenting on the overlaps of themes and plots.

== SF Miscellany ==

Advance order this short story collection: The Best of Harry TurtledoveIt’s coming out in April from Subterranean Press. Sub press is on a roll! I'll post about this. Six months ago they did The Best of David Brin stories... my best stuff! 

A pretty good list of “the 20 best apocalypse novels.” Though with some inaccuracies. Like 1997 was the year of the Postman movie, not the 1986 novel. Still, you can do worse in picking beautifully depressing (or in a couple of cases inspiring/elevating) winter reading.

Tales From The Bridge: All Things Sci-Fi: Episode 23: A Conversation with David Brin. A pretty good recent interview about SF trends and SETI and METI and the future and whether we're going to save the worlds ourselves.

At times I get to announce fine new authors who get overlooked by the righteously narrowly-focused SF community and media leaders of this decade. I was pleased to praise Sue Burke’s Semiosis, a few years back, which boldly used a sequence of varied character-novellas to trace centuries of human adaptation to a planet whose top, intelligent life forms are plants. 

Last year I praised The Last Human, by Zack Jordan, set after our species terrified the galaxy and went deservedly extinct, as an indomitable girl and her unlikely foster mother navigate a hugely diverse civilization seemingly determined to finish the job.

Now another – Run Lab Rat – impressed me with the sheer vigor of its extrapolation of human augmentation, a topic I’ve been talking a lot about lately to fretful leaders in industry, defense and governments.  Shawn Butler’s novel has a dystopian premise… that our children give up on the 250 year notion of inherent equality. But this sets up a better-than-hunger-games plot for its perseverant heroine to overcome.

Oh, another. The thing about Howard Hendrix’s short fiction collection The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes, the writing is first rate! But yeah, sure. These truly are sense-a-wonder Analog Stories!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Environmental matters and a brighter future? And... There is no Lion King! And why that matters.

Dismayed by rumors of war? I'll try to distract with a dive into longer term hopes and existential threats. Fair?

Still, let me pause to note that exactly 79 years ago today, Soviet (mostly Russian) armies liberated Kharkov (now Kharkiv) from Nazi occupation. It was a highwater moment for that winter offensive which started with the victory at Stalingrad and brought Russian tanks to the banks of the Dnieper. The river that V.Putin clearly wants to serve as the new border with a rump and castrated Ukraine...

... moreover there are many 'war fronts' less mentioned in the news. Like this month's possible final swallowing by Russia of all but figleaf independence for Kazakhstan. Or threats to the world's subsea fiber cables below and satellites overhead. Or hints of a surreptitious struggle of Cool War, for which the "Havana Syndrome" might be the iceberg's tip. (See Jim Benford interviewed about it, on tonight's (Sunday's) episode of 60 Minutes.) Indeed, a year of retaliatory counter-strokes may (one could hypothesize) underlie Mr. Putin's apparent, frantic state.

And while what follows is a segue into today's main topic... do note the overlap.

== Earth, Herself, is boss ==

Want a vivid reminder of nature's power? 

The recent Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha-apai undersea volcanic eruption sent plumes of ash and dust 30 km into the atmosphere, causing tsunami warnings along the Pacific coast, severing communications lines... as we await news of the full effects on island nation of Tonga. See the stunning before and after photos

And yes, I talk about Her power, in Earth

== Environmental problems & solutions ==

The island nation of Tuvalu is looking at legal ways to be a state if it is submerged in an era of rising sea levels. In fact, I know exactly how to do this and depict it in my novel Existence. Happy to consult if they get in touch. The fundamental baseline for such nations is... a law firm.

Meanwhile, as rising sea levels threaten low lying lands, millions of inhabitants may be displaced over the next few decades. Researchers in Bangladesh have seen some success in seeding oyster-encrusted reefs as a living defense against coastal erosion. Though how could anything be more ironic than the fact that is is the Olde Confederate South that is the US region most threatened by climate change?

There is evidence that animals across the world are miniaturizing as temperatures rise. Bird specimens at Chicago's Field Museum have lost 4% of body mass over the last four decades.

Progress on the environmental front. France just banned all 5 of the neonicotinoid pesticides that researchers are blaming for collapsing bee populations. The move follows the European Union’s ban of  the three worst offenders — clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam — in crop fields starting last month. Studies have shown that neonicotinoids cut bees’ sperm count and scramble their memory and homing skills. 

Also bees can develop a dangerous addiction to the insecticides, much like smokers for nicotine. The ban is celebrated by beekeepers and environmentalists. I am in one category and hoping to return to the other soon. And hoping my neighbors will stop spraying these noxious, harmful poisons, soon. Bees!

== More nature weirdness! ==

Okaay, this seems weirdly - even sfnally - related to how we started this posting. 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. Or else they may join the next story…

Community member Timothy Bruening notes: The and Wildlife Service is declaring 23 species extinct! We should urge Biden to have some sort of big, splashy memorial service for those 23 species! I envision 23 stones, each with a name of the extinct species.  The purpose would be to draw attention to the climate change crisis.  How is this for Judo?”

Next item? If this works, it could be among the biggest Earth-savers since solar cells and LED light bulbs. In its first investment into the lab-grown meat space, the USDA awarded $10 million to Tufts University to establish the National Institute for Cellular Agriculture. Rapid advances in lab grown meat

Essential to food security, urban farming doesn’t have to be horizontal. The 51-story Jian Mu Tower built in Shenzhen will contain offices, a supermarket, and a large-scale farm capable of feeding up to 40,000 people per year.

As depicted in Existence.

== There is no lion king! ==

There is absolutely no 'lion king.' It’s an important observation in light of 6000 years of propaganda that monarchy/oligarchy/aristocracy are ‘natural.’

 In fact, Nature herself does not like pyramids of power. In natural ecosystems, there is no lion king! Lions may be top predators, but they live in fear of roaming bands of young male cape buffalo, who hunt and corner and kill unwary lions and trample their cubs, an event that grows more common if lion populations rise too high. 

Now we see documented the same thing in the oceans. The ‘top predator’ orcas are often thwarted by big, tough humpback whales who smack orcas with their long pec fins to protect not only smaller humpbacks, but grays and even seals!

That this pattern has been so persistent and consistent, across every past and present complex system for a billion years, is demonstrated time and again by Multilevel Selection (MLS) Theory, which partitions natural selection into within- and between-group components. It means that the universe is filled with realms that within seem fiercely competitive...

...but when the competition has a chance to form complexities, higher orders appear that seem cooperative. And it is an observation that would be AI-lords would to well to note. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

At the edge of war, remember what's basic... and look to the "Greatest Generation."

As we sit here, teetering at the fringes of a possible spasm ordered by a desperate mafia thug (have you done your Costco run, yet?), I'll post tonight about more mundane political matters... that still desperately matter.

Let's start with a fiundamental that I cannot repeat too often. The fundamental human problem is willful delusion. We are all delusional, preferring subjective overlays on the world over any need to re-evaluate. Heck, pointing this out was the central common theme shared by Socrates, Plato, Buddha, Jesus, Confucius and so many others... who nevertheless never noticed what Galileo finally saw... that there is a way out of the trap!

Fortunately, in a free and diverse culture, we do not all share the same delusions! If it's hard to see our own, we will gladly point at each others'! Reciprocal criticism is the only known antidote to deluded error.  

Alas, it only flows under conditions of relative equality, when reciprocal criticism cannot be punished by elites... as happened in 99% of human societies, where kings, priests, oligarchs and owner castes used their power to suppress criticism from below. In fact, it was usually their top priority.

This is why competition - the greatest creative force (that made us) is so hard to maintain in human societies and was quashed in 99% of them, till we innovated ways to flatten power structures and get elites criticizing each other. At which point cheating was reduced, openness allowed not only reciprocal criticism and accountability but also flexible alliances, leading to many positive sum games.

Economics is one of five great arenas that have boosted the benefits of competition, by making it (1) far less bloody than in nature, with many second chances, (2) filled with a maximum number of skilled competitors as Adam Smith and F. Hayek demanded, (thus wasting less talent), and far less prone to cheating than any other society... though still way too subject to it than ideal.

The other four competitive accountability arenas are democracy, science, courts and sports, all of which benefit from cheating-reducing regulation. 

To be clear, those saying the c-word  'competition' aloud the most have turned into its deepest enemies. Every 'economics' proposal made by today's mad right is aimed at reducing competition, feeding wealth and power disparities, elimination of rival (accountability) elites, and cheating.  Hence the current ill health of flattening and other systems in markets and democracy, especially.

While this is an existential threat to our kind of civilization... or any long term civilization, at all... it should not be a surprise. Human nature, y'know. On the other hand, what's at stake is only freedom, science, a living planet, civilization, our grand chil;dren... and possibly the fate of a galaxy.

If you have the attention, concentration and curiosity to have read this far, perhaps you'll like my academic paper about this on my website: Disputation Arenas: Harnessing Conflict and Competition. Also on Kindle.

== Defending the Greatest Generation ==

I am critical of sanctimonious temporal chauvinism that assumes any current decade's particulars of moral righteousness are the pinnacle of human awake-ness. And hence, I initially reacted with some hackles to this article about that the so-called "Greatest Generation," which focused on sampled statements and/or survey answers that we'd rear-view as at-best cringeworthy or patronizing... and in many cases horrific. 

(To be clear, in those days my own parents were deemed members of a despised caste, victims of pervasive prejudice, whose European cousins had just been consigned to ovens. And those cited surveys reflected this.)

Sure, it is valid to re-examine the faults of earlier generations, especially American hypocrisies. But just as the eminently wise Frederick Douglass weighed both faults and blessings, in his eulogy of Abraham Lincoln (do look it up!) we can do the same for the Greatest Generation, without leaping to conclude that reflexive blurting of their own parents' bad habits made them an over-rated pack of racist, misogynist bastards! 

Let's set aside their brave and sturdy defeat of the worst evil the world ever saw, and containment of a Leninist cult that history later verified to be almost equally murderous. And the GGs' massive investments in infrastructure and science and vastly uplifting universities, or their current utility as a refutation of MAGA treason. (Most of them adored FDR and later Jonas Salk.) Notably it was Ronald Reagan's top priority to reverse every such strength.)

In fact, there are some valid criticisms of the whole "greatest generation" mythos. e.g. the very decisions in 1945 that led to the most fantastic era of human development and prosperity and (yes) overall peace were made by an older clade, including George (my choice of person of the 20th Century) Marshall, Truman, Acheson, Ike, etc. and mostly not by the younger generation who fought in trenches and who got the GG label.

And yes, I recall my own parents who marched with MLK and stood with Bobby and fought McCarthyism... as having nevertheless been troglodytic in many of their reflexes! Especially linguistic ones. They shifted some and adapted to hippie criticism (as do I, today, when our kids correct my pronouns.) But all of that just goes to prove something crucial here...

... that improving human civilization involves self-uplift in a grinding haul and slog out of caves and superstitions and mud and tribalism, and it's NOT easy! 

That long slog is - in fact - proof of my aphorism: Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote To Error. Sure, unless every generation re-evaluates and critiques, we will never slog our way upward to Star Trek. Or something much better.

The Great American Project of expanding circles of inclusion has staggered ahead, each generation with grinding, incremental slowness that certainly seems insanely and culpably tardy... and yes, it has been! Except by comparison to every single other society or nation that ever existed. (Please step up with your counter examples.) 

To be clear, I am not preaching 'patience!' Go ahead and BE IMPATIENT! 

We need to accelerate, if we are to get better at anywhere near a pace to call ourselves decent people, let alone save the world. Just because prior generations took some things for granted doesn't mean we should. And science fiction plays a role, by showing us glimpses of futures when things-will-be-different.

(SF films and novels arguably saved the world!  See: VIVID TOMORROWS: Science Fiction and Hollywood.)


1) Railing at past generations of reformers for not including YOUR more recent priorities is maybe a bit unfair. Besides not being here to defend themselves, a lot of them had full plates. (And that recent trend in SF is particularly regrettable, as scifi was always, always the genre most friendly to divergent authors and ideas.) 

Look forward; you do not have to slur previous generations of reformers, just to make your own virtue signaling seem grander. It's not just lazy but almost always unfair.

2) Consider that you may be part of a chain of uplift, leading to new generations who will re-evaluate YOU for things that you missed, or overlooked, that future generations will deem spectacular omissions from your high-preening virtue waving. 

(Example, I predict that within a decade there will be a major revision of attitudes towards backbiting GOSSIP, which is arguably the nastiest evil routinely committed, today, by those who call themselves decent people.) 

3) Consider the role of factors like technology, that allowed a nation of farmers to get their children off the fields into universities, or the effects of lavor saving devices and birth control on feminism, or new techs that are now empowering autism spectra folk (as I depict in Existence), or that made full transsexuality even a thing... or the power of newsreel and TV and web cameras to keep groundbreakers like Gandhi, MLK and the Wachowskis alive, let alone influential.

And finally... are we truly so vile?

4) Compared to what? Compared to 6000 years of grotesquely stupid and cruel feudalisms, this experiment has been swift and unrivaled. Compared to what we all know we ought to be? By that standard we have been sluggards and reluctant and grindingly slow. 

But who taught you that standard of what we ought to be?

Hollywood. We are creatures of the very society we criticize. 

== Were the men and women of the "Greatest Generation" imperfect? ==

VASTLY so! Their incremental forward-ratchetings of justice were contemptibly slow, while being faster and more righteous than anything that came before. We Boomers, too, made some progress... and merit similar crit.

But above all, attacks specifically on the "Greatest Generation" are spectacularly impractical, like lefties screeching hate at The US military, when the women and men in uniform are presently a bulwark against the real evil, an international oligarchic cabal bent on re-establishing feudalism with Orwellian force. 

That's very, very bad TACTICS. 

Dig this well. The Greatest Generation is an American icon! (See Tom Brokow's best-selling book, The Greatest Generation.) And if you spurn them completely, letting the MAGAS clutch them as wholly their own, then you are giving a freebie favor to the enemies of this great (if deeply flawed) enlightenment experiment!!

I prefer to point out that the GG's most adored living human was a fellow named Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and later they most-admired Jonas Salk and MLK and Bobby. And today most of them would easily see as Enemy Action the treason memes offered nightly on Fox, including hatred of all the nerdy fact professions that made America "great." 

They would hear today's spasmodic-foxite "hate all government" yammering as betrayal and service to Moscow.

And they would spit in every MAGA eye.

Use that. Most members of that hero generation - for all their countless flaws - would want you to keep using them to defeat enemies of the Experiment. So use them.

And if war comes, remember, as they did...

I matter less than those I love... or the justice, freedom, progress and civilization and planet and posterity that I love.

I am made of the same stuff that saved hope in 1777, in 1863, in 1944.... And I'll prove it, if I must.