Sunday, May 29, 2022

Science Fiction: news & updates

Congratulations to the recently announced Hugo Award nominees for the best in science fiction and fantasy for 2022! To be awarded at Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention, which will be held in Chicago, at the beginning of September. 


Nominees for this year's Best Novel include 

     A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine, 

     The Galaxy and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers,

     Light from Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki,

     A Master of Djinn, by Djeli Clark,

     Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir,

     She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan.


Amid controversy over whether to impose absolute-zero-tolerance over matters of incantatory symbolism, the annual Nebula Awards were issued. Here is the list of the 2021 winners, with Best Novel going to A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark, and Best Novela to And What We Can Offer You Tonight by Premee Mohammed, and Best Short Story to Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather by Sarah Pinker. Congratulations to all!


== Pertinent for our times - SF ==


He envisioned a nightmarish, dystopian Russia. Now he fears living in one. This New York Times article highlights the literary works of Vladimir Sorokin, who says, "A Russian writer has two options: Either you are afraid, or you write. I write." 


I have long promoted Sorokin's 2011 near-future novel, Day of the Oprichnik.


BTW... Offered without comment but highly apropos: "Putin’s Demise" is one of the song titles (I kid you not) in the film score to the Hunt for Red October. Note the date.


== Seeing the world from different (and non-human) perspectives ==


Bringing aliens to life ... here's an interesting list of novels both old and new, that really put the ‘xeno’ in xeno fiction! From Watership Down to my own Startide Rising as well as Brunner's The Crucible of Time, and Matt Haig's The Humans. Should also include the spiders in Tchikovsky's Children of Time.


A fun list of “20 Must-Read Space Opera Books,” with books by Leckie, Delaney, Chambers, Banks, Scalzi, as well as E.E. "Doc" Smith and James S.A. Corey. I have never read Feintuch, Elliot, or de Pierres. And given the quality of all the others on this list, I really should! Opinions welcome, in comments!


This rumination in Salon by Kyle Galendez about “Why can't sci-fi and fantasy imagine alternatives to capitalism or feudalism?” tries really hard… and is most-cogent when discussing Ursula LeGuin’s The Dispossessed and the feudal fetishisms of Game of Thrones

Alas it ignores the fact that it is almost only in thoughtful science fiction novels that all political or economic or social systems get critiqued. And I will happily wager this fellow whether such alternatives (including some of my own) number in the hundreds.

A nice review from The Guardian of Sea of Tranquility, a new time travel speculative fiction novel by Emily St. John Mandel. 

Never knew about this site that compiles the The Best Writing Contests of 2022. Some interesting ones that you might consider entering!


Any obscure pedants out there who might ‘get' why - if I were invited to contribute a story to “New Tales From The White Hart” -  I might offer one called “The PlanetAgent”?  Obscure!


== apropos of not much... ==


“Is there something in the water?” 20 years ago a gala was held to celebrate how many successful science fiction authors graduated or attended or taught at UCSD. So, here is the link to the video from 2002, featuring Kim Stanley Robinson, Vernor Vinge, David Brin and Gregory Benford.


Apropos of absolutely nothing at all… Oh, did you ever see a young William Shatner's entire movie spoken in Esperanto? Take a look at: "Incubus.' The music is eerily Trekky!


Fan Filk! "There's a Star Tide Rising..."


A fascinating mini-biography on SF author and cyberpunk co-founder and Portland acid-punk rocker John ShirleyCreative fellow who was 'there'! Woof. I almost wish I had taken more advantage of opportunities to crush neurons, as so many contemporaries did. Instead... Caltech? Eep. Yet no regrets. Looking at those contemporaries (the ruggedly handsome survivors) now.

  

"Whether you are a science fiction scholar, futurist, or enthusiast, Tom Lombardo's Evolution of Science Fiction webinar series will open your mind and expand your knowledge of science fiction. Comprehensive in scope and in-depth in its coverage, the series begins with the ancient mythological origins of science fiction and examines cultural, philosophical, and scientific dimensions of science fiction up to the present. 

Based on Lombardo's multi-volume history of science fiction — Science Fiction: The Evolutionary Mythology of the Future  — the series covers key authors and published works, science fiction cinema and art, and social features of science fiction.


== Resources! ==


Oh heck. While we're discussing scifi, here are some added resources for research in useful science fiction:


- Science Fiction Research Association: http://www.sfra.org/


- SFE: SF Encyclopedia: https://sf-encyclopedia.com/


- The Internet Speculative Fiction Database: http://www.isfdb.org/


- The Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Database (tamu.edu): https://sffrd.library.tamu.edu/site/


- J Wayne and Elsie M Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction: http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/


- Inventions and Ideas from Science Fiction Books and Movies at Technovelgy.com: http://technovelgy.com/


- Science Fiction - TV Tropes:   https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ScienceFiction


- Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange: https://scifi.stackexchange.com/
(Newest 'story-identification' Questions): 
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/story-identification


- Worldbuilding Stack Exchange: https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/


96 comments:

Unknown said...

Could you 'dumb down' incantatory symbolism symbolism for me? I am not an uneducated person, but I have no clue what that sentence is about.

David Brin said...

https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/05/24/mercedes-lackey-accused-of-racism-banned-from-nebula-awards/

Larry Hart said...

Star_Dragon in the previous comments:

To repeat my explanation of my politics, which was near the beginning of this series of posts, I'm a pro-gun Biden-voting Democrat. I agree with the Democrats on more issues than the Republicans, including the important ones. I assume that there's some issue that you disagree with your favorite political party on?


Yes, sorry. I remember you saying you voted for Biden, but not that you were a Democrat in general.


Oh, and sounding heartless is a major problem for someone most concerned with mass shootings. Your best rhetorical weapon is casting any opposition to whatever "something" you want done as heartless, so claiming the label of heartless for yourself in trying to refocus the debate onto the most emotionally driven part of the gun control debate... Let me put it like this: If you don't care about kids dying, why do you care about one something which can "kill tens of random people inside of a few seconds", especially when that happens far less often than either category of accident?


Why do people care more about a nuclear strike than a hurricane, when hurricanes have killed howevermany more people throughout history than nuclear bombs have? Because even one nuclear strike seems so horrific in total effect, and because hurricanes happen without malice, whereas an enemy chooses who to target with a nuclear strike.

So...car accidents happen more like hurricanes do. Sure, a human is responsible, but outside of notable exceptions, they are not targeted attacks. Gun accidents in the home are tragic, but they are not usually targeted attacks, and when they are, the targets are specific. The general public is not at risk.

Mass shootings are more like WMD attacks than accidents or natural disasters. It's not just a matter of how many people one terrorist kills. It's the idea that we're all vulnerable to the next terrorists who decide to go on rampages. The fact that mass shootings are so common is a clear and present danger to anyone in America. And we tend to react differently to maliciously perpetrated clear and present dangers than we do to acts of God.

By analogy, if there is a mugger loose in your neighborhood who injures or kills victims and never gets caught, you will want to escalate a response aimed toward stopping him from committing more such crimes. You don't note instead that more people are killed in car accidents than by muggers, so there's no point in going after muggers while instead of focusing on car safety. At least I don't.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Fan Filk! "There's a Star Tide Rising..."


We nerds sometimes think that we're the only ones who know the details of the things we watch or read. Nice to know there's some kind of Uplift gestalt out there.

I'd probably like the song even better if I knew the tune it was based on. I'm assuming there is one, since most "filk songs" are like that. (And that term is a blast from my SCA-related past going back to when Krypto was still alive)

Jon S. said...

Only capitalism and feudalism? Is he completely unfamiliar with Star Trek, and its post-scarcity socialism? (Or, as one of my online acquaintances likes to call it, "luxury gay space communism.")

duncan cairncross said...

You have some actual SPAM!! - JP International

scidata said...

The piercing soliloquy disguised as a pep-talk delivered by Captain Pike near the end of each episode of ST-SNW is a weekly highlight. The show's production crew is very proud of its enlightenment theme. I can certainly see why trogs, confederates, chaosmongers, and oligarchs hate and fear Star Trek. It's a far more direct threat to them than any of their guufie conspiracy fantasies. "luxury gay space communism" is a welcome alternative to "poverty compliant cave feudalism".

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

Only capitalism and feudalism? Is he completely unfamiliar with Star Trek, and its post-scarcity socialism?


I'm not sure I'd even call what Star Trek has "socialism". Though I haven't thought about coming up with a relevant term, I think of their system as more "post-economic".


(Or, as one of my online acquaintances likes to call it, "luxury gay space communism.")


Heh. Does Star Trek have a reputation for being gay? I never thought so, but there was one (hetero, AFAIK) member of the old Cerebus list I used to frequent who fervently condemned the show for not featuring more gay crewpeople. When we'd point out that the show ran in the 1960s, in which gay liberation was hardly a twinkle in anyone's eye, he was undaunted. His argument was that Roddenberry should have known that gays would be socially acceptable in the future, and so a future which did not depict such acceptance was unrealistic on its face.

Talk about a single-issue voter. :)

Jon S. said...

Old-school Trek didn't show gay people, because in the '60s they were pushing the envelope enough when they had officers on the bridge who were Black, Asian, and Russian (and a Black doctor!). In the '80s, Roddenberry had this weird mixture of liberalism and conservatism (someone described him as a "Hollywood liberal"), where he didn't think gender or ethnicity should matter but he still couldn't quite wrap his head around differing sexuality. DS9 took the first steps toward that with Dax being sort of trans, and nobody having a problem (except maybe Sisko, who kept deadnaming her - even Kor had no problem, once he was corrected a single time.)

Now we've got Seven and Raffi in "Picard", we've got a gay couple serving as surrogate parents to a non-binary person in "Discovery", and honestly it wouldn't surprise me to get any given combinations in SNW. ("Prodigy" gets a pass because no two members of the crew are the same species, or even vaguely similar, but it's implied that they're all underage for their own people anyway.) As for color, someone pointed out a scene in "Discovery" where all four main characters on screen (Capt. Burnham, Book, and the two doctors) were Black, and it wasn't really a big deal.

David Brin said...

Guy here is yipe... kinda a jibbering loony. With allies like that...

https://streetwiseprofessor.com/save-the-world-nuke-davos/

Still, he illustrates the degree of radicalism that the fools at Davos frantically ignore.

I think we should try the intermediate step of openly exposing all ownership to light. Every stock, accounts, house or tree.  If that happened, I figure 90% of the sick aspects would burn away under light, even under existing laws. And we'd be better able to argue over the rest.
Still, Helvetia here we come.

Deuxglass said...

Babel-17 was prescient. The Star Trek franchise has gone as far as it can and should be allowed to retire to classic status. I watched it in the 1960's and it was fresh, youthful and chock full of new intriguing ideas. It's been 50 years and what is left are clich├ęs. In Star Trek: Discovery there are a couple of lines that sum it up nicely in S03.12 when Admiral Vance offers some sliced apples to Osyrra. When she says it has no flavor he says it is reconstituted shit. He says “It’s pretty good for shit… and we don’t have to commit any atrocities for it.” The writers were saying the truth. It is reconsented shit and they don't have to think of something new to make some money out of it. I prefer by far some of the new shows like The Expanse and others where creativity is not constrained by having to conform to way-out-of-date premises such as aliens that still look like actors in make-up.

I would love to see the Uplift books as a TV series. The ideas that Dr. Brin set down in them have still not been explored in the visual media. I hope it comes about soon.

Star_Dragon said...

@David Brin: Regarding the Onwards post: Good. Hopefully they can make a group like the Pink Pistols or the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Too bad the name New Black Panthers is tainted by a *rare* reverse-KKK group.

@Larry Hart,
I get your reasoning now, but I still disagree with it and find it highly suspicious.

The reason we don't worry about hurricanes is that so far, the only thing we can do about them is make them worse by releasing greenhouse gases. I'm also of the opinion that nuclear strikes are overrated(I believe that the Tokyo Firebombing was nastier than the A-bombings), so this specific argument gets you more points with other people than me.

Gun accidents in the home are one of the things commonly brought up as something that gun control is supposed to prevent, so I'm at most willing to accept that you-in-particular and any other anti-gunners who express an active lack of care in such don't care about it, but it's the other common "SaVe tHe ChIlDrEn!" argument, so I consider any anti-gunners who don't care about it to be maybe not completely cold-hearted, but still very so.

The perspective of the anti-control side is that gun control is generally the equivalent of invading Iraq to prevent the next 9/11, although I'm sure that few would use that specific analogy. Speaking of 9/11, are you one of the few on the left who doesn't believe that the TSA mainly provides security theater?

As for that hypothetical unstoppable mugger, I don't quite believe that ACAB, but I do believe that Black Lives Matter. This is relevant in multiple ways. First of all, I feel that there's a maximum number of number of innocents shot by the police which is acceptable, so yes, there is no point in going after that mugger after a certain amount of collateral damage. Secondly, in far many places, the counter-argument to "only the outlaws will have guns!" of "what about the police?" can be countered with, "Yes, only the police and other outlaws will have guns." Finally, going back to that hypothetical mugger, the pro-gun answer to that is that countering exactly this is the main point of concealed carry.

matthew said...

Thank you so much for the John Shirley link. There is so much of the Portland I remember in the interview. Good music that I had not heard. Now, off to read his stuff.

I appreciate this a whole lot.

Larry Hart said...

Star_Dragon:

I'm also of the opinion that nuclear strikes are overrated


You're not alone here, but my point was about general perception of nuclear strikes, irrespective of the validity of that perception.


so this specific argument gets you more points with other people than me.


I was attempting explanation, not asking for absolution. You posed a (possibly rhetorical) question, and I attempted to answer it. If you don't like my answer, howzabout countering with a more plausible one? Dave Sim once asked rhetorically "Why do rock stars marry?" He then pointed out a whole list of reasons why they don't need to do so, but never gave an answer to his own question. I still feel cheated.


Gun accidents in the home are one of the things commonly brought up as something that gun control is supposed to prevent, so I'm at most willing to accept that you-in-particular and any other anti-gunners who express an active lack of care in such don't care about it, but it's the other common "SaVe tHe ChIlDrEn!" argument, so I consider any anti-gunners who don't care about it to be maybe not completely cold-hearted, but still very so.


You have me pegged as an "anti-gunner". I'm an anti-supervillainer. It's not that I don't care about accidental shootings, just not what I'm riled up about after two mass killings. I reject your proposition that it's better to not worry about malicious attacks against crowds with weapons of mass destruction because more people die of other things.


First of all, I feel that there's a maximum number of number of innocents shot by the police which is acceptable, so yes, there is no point in going after that mugger after a certain amount of collateral damage.


I'm not sure I'm interpreting this correctly--I think you mean that if the cops are shooting more unarmed black men than a mugger is killing, then it's wrong to concentrate on the mugger. Maybe so, but I didn't think that was the dichotomy in question. I thought you were saying that there's no point in trying to solve any case of targeted mayhem--by police or by muggers--when accidents and natural disasters caused more deaths. And that, I disagree with. If you could somehow magically snap your fingers like Thanos and there would be no more accidents or natural disasters, but human beings who like to torture and maim and kill could still act at will, would that be a satisfactory status quo?


Finally, going back to that hypothetical mugger, the pro-gun answer to that is that countering exactly this is the main point of concealed carry


The pro-gun answer is always a good guy with a gun. Well, that was just debunked twice in the last few days. Good guys with guns were useless. So as you say, the pro-gun answer gets no points with me.

I presume you think the Ukrainian army has "failed" because they didn't save everyone, including the Russian invaders? If not, why not?

matthew said...

Gun control laws are difficult for me.

I owe my life to justifiable homicide. I have PTSD from it even 30 years later. I know what it is like to have an armed person break into my house and then kill them. I know what it is like to deal with the guilt / regrets / second thoughts for most of my adult life.

I make weapons of war for living. AR-15 parts in particular. I make a lot of them, in the millions.
I make surgical tools too, though I do not know if my karma will ever balance it all out. I suspect that if there is afterlife,my contributions will be on the other side of any scale.

I've spent a lot of my career doing statistics. I understand that tightening our laws would immediately save lives. I totally get why stricter gun laws would be a good thing.

But, but, but, I know that my life continued because of a gun. Because the right person died instead of me.

Gun control discussions are difficult.

Der Oger said...

Iain Banks CULTURE is a socialist-anarchist post scarcity utopia (well, mostly).
The Hegemony in the Hyperion Cantos is a Republic (sort of)
The Expanse shows democratic societies, though one can argue if the UN is a bureaucracy with an influential neofeudal technoligarch crust

What makes feudal or capitalist settings so appealing to authors?

Well, I suppose...
a) conflict is more easily and believably (and maybe cheaply) created;
b) "red" settings could create more resistance in the reader due to anti-communist propaganda;
c) feudal settings might seem to be more "far away" to the reader than, say, democratic republics.
d) and sometimes, a setting is considered to be a warning, not something to aspire.


Larry Hart said...

@matthew,

I don't know what to say about your experience.

I'll just mention that I am not arguing against guns for self-defense. I've thought about going that route myself a lot lately, although my wife is against the idea.

I want something done about the ease with which people like the recent mass shooters, or the guy who broke into your house, to be a threat to the general public. Seems like a good start would be to limit the proliferation of actual weapons of war to the civilian population. Maybe that can't be done without infringing on your right to self defense? All I know for sure is that what we're doing so far--including thoughts and prayers--isn't working.

DP said...

Didn't KSR's "Red Mars" series have a gift giving potlatch based economy among its Martian colonists?

Unknown said...

The Red Mars books portrayed a lot of different economic systems espoused and attempted by the various colonists, trending towards reciprocity, but I don't remember a potlatch-based system winning out...ah, here we go, from Wiki:

"Eco-economics draws inspiration from Market Socialism, Social Democracy, Georgism and Ecological Economics." - straight reciprocity was considered unworkable due "problems with scarcity, hoarding and guilt."

Basically, profit-seeking corporations were considered too dangerous for the extremely fragile ecology, so the planet's resources were held in common, but exploited by cooperatives.

I just finished David Gerrold's "Hella", which teaches some of the same lessons (Hi Harlie), and has the same kind of bad buys (would-be aristocrats), as well as giving us a POV character who changes gender and is neurodivergent.

Pappenheimer

Unknown said...

correction - bad guys, not bad buys

Pappenheimer

Unknown said...

Matthew,

I do understand why personal experience may trump dispassionate social logic. I had a long-running discussion with a co-worker about the death penalty (she in favor due to a horrific kidnapping experience in her native Mexico, me against due to recovering from a right-wing upbringing.) I don't hold her opinion against her, but I did manage to partially change her mind by asking whether she could trust the Mexican government and court system to arrest and execute the correct people.

Regarding personal ownership of the same kind of weapons I was issued on active duty...if someone is in your house, wouldn't a shotgun be a more effective killing tool? Even Bill Gates doesn't have a home interior that needs 100 yds effective range (I could get out to 300 on the stationary target range when my eyes were younger). Plus, the shotgun could be loaded with less lethal ammo if your hope was NOT to kill.

At this point, I'm existing alongside numerous gun-toters (I live in Eastern Washington) and I can tell you it does not make me feel safer. If I had my druthers, semiautos of any kind would be gone tomorrow. I grew up in countries using the English model, but I don't think an Aussie-style ban is a political possibility. I'm trying to imagine an incident (or series of incidents) that would make it possible, and the only scenarios I can come up with are ones I would not wish on any country (not even sure the one in the first Kingsmen movie would do it).

Cordially,

Pappenheimer

David Brin said...

Matthew Wow. Post of the day. Complexity, yeah. Reverberations too, Blessings and peace and wisdom.

DP said...

Matthew, the issue of guns is difficult because we are now a society without trust.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iArRXahQE7k

From one of my favorite pod casts on America's basic sickness - the collapse of trust. This is a sickness far deeper than any toxic pollution, overheating planet, collapsing biodiversity or economic failure.

Lack of social trust is the root cause of gun fanatics, rebirth of racism, Qanon, anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, climate denial, election denial, disregard of experts and dozens of other theories and world views divorced from reality. If Trump's MAGA supporters are especially crazy it may be because they are the ones that have ben lied to the most by those in power and the most victimized by globalization. Don't believe me? Then take a road trip through Appalachia sometime and check out formally prosperous towns that have been gutted by globalization

We don't trust the government (after Citizens United, a dozen major scandals' and nearly as many useless wars). We don't trust law enforcement (especially if you are Black). We don't trust business (especially after your CEO gets a fat bonus for laying off you and 1,000s of your colleagues). We don't trust our financial institutions (especially after 2008 when not a single Wall Street banker went to jail). We don't trust the media (unless they make up our info bubble). We don't trust our scientists and doctors (especially big pharma after the opioid crisis and price gouging life saving medicine like insulin). We don't trust our churches (no need to explain this to Catholics and those who aren't gullible enough give their money to televangelists). The last institution that still held trust, the US military, lost a lot of credibility when we found out that the generals were lying about how well things were going on the ground in Afghanistan, and the Afghan government collapsed within days of us leaving (after decades of spending blood and treasure there).

We simply don't trust each other.

Which is why guns have never been so popular. Purchasing a gun is not an affirmation of hunting. It's an expression of the belief that you can't trust anyone but yourself. You are on your own. In the 1960s, 61% of Americans were in favor of a gun ban, today that number is only 19% despite a dozen massacres of innocent school children.

The perpetrators of gun violence are the personification of our lack of trust. Pathetic loners filled with despair (most gun victims are suicides) and rage, socially isolated, emasculated and cut off from emotional help and psychological support, being fed crap through Facebook and other predatory social media looking to make a fast buck by pushing their hate and fear buttons. And its all because we don't trust each other. Freud said "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar", but in reality the only way these losers can actually feel like men with agency is to own an automatic assault rifle.

So how do we restore trust?

Can we restore trust?

Ilithi Dragon said...

On the subject of Star Trek:

I firmly believe that Star Trek is not worn-out or run out of things to do or say, and I feel that there is a lot of value in the universe, the core message of Roddenberry's vision, and a lot of stories left to tell in that universe.

However, comma, the Star Trek of today is a pale mockery of that, because the people writing and producing the Star Trek of today are mediocre hacks who can't find their own ass with both hands and a map.

Picard is a show that was carried exclusively on its acting talent. The story was a scattergunned, nonsensical mess that couldn't make a coherent internal plot, nevermind any consistency with any lore that came before. The messaging it carried and presented was terrible and depressing, and a betrayal of everything Trek stood for, and they violated the heart and sole of the titular character.

Discovery's writing is even worse, especially the first two seasons. Many people keep telling me that Seasons 3 and 4 are better, but every review and clip I see of it says otherwise (unless by better, they mean it's only neck deep in a pile of shit instead of completely submerged).


The core issue is that Abrams, and now Kurtzman, don't actually know how to write a good, consistent, coherent story. Every success they have had before has been shows that didn't have to make sense, and that by their very nature, were supposed to have elements that didn't quite add up, or just seemed off. They were able to scattergun plots and ideas and come back two or three seasons later and grab random loose ends, and shoehorn them back into the main plot and make it look like it all tied together. It was sloppy, lazy writing, but it worked, because the nature of those shows allowed a lot of latitude in consistency and coherency of story.

Star Trek, and most stories, in fact, do not allow that same latitude. And, it turns out, writing a consistent and coherent story actually takes work, effort, and skill. It isn't easy. But Abrams and Kurtzman made big names for themselves on projects that obscured their lack of skill.


Add in people who think that good social commentary is brow-beating someone in the face with an idea wrapped around a baseball bat, with no concept of subtlety, and without regard for whether it fits into the larger narrative, or even makes a coherent or compelling story, and you have why the Star Trek of today feels like recycled shit.


The first episode of Strange New Worlds felt a lot more like older Trek than Discovery or Picard, but I canceled my Paramount subscription before I could watch any more of it. I'll probably run up the Jolly Roger and give the subsequent episodes a go at some point, but I have no faith in anything produced by Abrams or Kurtzman to be a good story, nevermind proper Star Trek.







As for the gun control issue.


When it comes to home defense, there are two weapons that I will primarily go for: My shotgun, or my pistol. My AR-15, my 10/22, and my .30-06 are not optimal home defense firearms.

I still have them, though, because I sometimes do go hunting (on rare occasions, especially where work's taken me these days), but mostly because I enjoy having them, and I enjoy recreationally shooting them. Owning and shooting firearms makes me happy.

There are a number of other reasons to own firearms, but when it comes right down to it, I don't need any other reason than "it makes me happy" to do so, because I am not hurting anyone else by owning my firearms, nor are the vast majority of firearm owners.

The vast, vast, vast majority of people who own AR-15s, and other semi-auto rifles, or any firearm, do nothing illegal with them. It is a tiny fraction of a percentage of the people who possess firearms that commit crimes with them, and a smaller fraction of that who kill people with them.

(to be continued)

Ilithi Dragon said...

(continued from previous post, 2/3)

It can be argued that restricting or banning firearms outright will lower the rate of death from firearms. It doesn't necessarily lower the overall rate of violence and death, or even mass murder (as firearms are not the cause of violence and murder, they are merely a tool used to perpetuate it), but that is tangential to the point I am making here.

In the absence of any other consideration, restricting or banning firearms would be a logical move. However, doing so would infringe upon a fundamental right of the vast majority of people who own firearms and do not hurt others by doing so.

This is not their Second Amendment right "to keep and bear arms," but rather a much deeper, more fundamental right, one of the core 3 rights upon which the United States was founded, and from which all other rights stem from. Those three rights are the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

This is why the US Constitution was written to specifically enumerate the powers afforded by the Federal Government, with all other powers and authorities assumed to be afforded to the States, or the individual.

Because when we seek to solve one problem, we must also be careful in doing so to not to infringe upon the rights to Liberty and to the Pursuit of Happiness of others, or at least to infringe upon them to the least possible degree.

Otherwise, any one of those rights on its own, if protected without regard or consideration for the other two, might be leveraged into promoting and enforcing tyranny.

The same goes for the Rights to Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. If I were to protect my enjoyment of possessing and shooting firearms without regard for the other two, then I would be permitted, and even encouraged to shoot my guns willy-nilly all over the place, at any time, without regard for the safety of others. I could use my firearms take away or inhibit the liberty of others, or take the lives of others in accordance with my whim.

(***Important note here: Even in such a lawless world, I wouldn't, because I'm not a terrible person, I'm merely presenting the scenario for the sake of argument.***)

You could make similar arguments for the Right to Liberty, and leverage any one of those 3 core rights impose tyranny on others, if you protect or uphold them without regard for the other 2.




Any death is a tragedy. But it is, unfortunately, the nature of our universe and existence that death happens. On the scale of nations, we have to balance the weight of people dying, against the cost of minimizing their deaths. Those costs that must be weighed against also include the rights and freedoms of others. There comes a point where the weight of lives saved does not balance against the cost of rights and liberties infringed.


Moreover, at any scale, but especially on the scale of nations and civilizations, we have a responsibility to seek effective solutions to problems, and to address the root cause of problems, rather than bandaid the symptoms.

Firearms are not the root cause of violence. They are not the root cause of murder. They are not the root cause of mass homicide. Look at communities across the United States, and nations across the globe, and you will see that rates of violence and murder, even mass murder, do not track with rates of gun ownership. They track with economic and social issues. They track with environmental and social issues that induce mental health issues, and they track inversely with well-established cultures and institutions and methodologies to identify and treat those mental health issues.

(to be continued)

Ilithi Dragon said...

(continued from previous post, 3/3)

Trying to solve gun death by banning or restricting guns will not solve the problem of the death, it will just make the cause of death shift to another tool, because it doesn't address the underlying, root causes of the issue.

It's no different than trying to reduce the number of abortions by banning clinical abortions. The root cause is teen pregnancy, and unplanned pregnancy.

It's a band-aid solution that completely fails to address the underlying root cause, while massively infringing on the rights and liberties of a huge sector of the population.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Dragon

Restricting guns will not as you say SOLVE the problem

But it would make it 90% better

Is your right to own your toys worth tens of thousands of lives a year??

As far as abortion is concerned - Canada has no laws at all on the subject - its completely up to the woman and her doctor
And the actual abortion rate is a lot lower

Tony Fisk said...

Gay Trek: there was a brief scene in ST: Beyond where Sulu is seen greeting his husband and daughter. Better late than never.

Anderson was the go-to guy for aliens, and Greg Egan produced a truly oddball race in his 'Orthogonal' series. (If you think human gender politics can get rough... !!!)

As a general rule, I'd say guns are a terrible method of self defence (who gets first shot?). I have pondered a story covering the impact of a MacGuffin in the form of an affordable personal shield. Anderson tried it with 'Shield', which was really just a "get the guy with the prototype before it's too late!" chase. Dune covered it in a more subtle way. (D&D has it as a nifty 1st level reflex spell that briefly boosts your AC by 4) I'd like to look into the social effects: does it improve/diminish civility, trust, acceptance, escalation? Does the constitution allow it?

Ilithi Dragon said...

*Causing additional harm or the risk of secondary infection, is not a concern

(Said it in my head, missed typing it.)

Ilithi Dragon said...

Wait ... Where'd my post go? I had a whole reply that I made ...

Larry Hart said...

Pappenheimer:

I don't hold her opinion against her, but I did manage to partially change her mind by asking whether she could trust the Mexican government and court system to arrest and execute the correct people.


Strangely enough, death penalty proponents seem least likely to care about whether the accused is actually guilty. It's as if the crime committed is so heinous that we can't possibly show leniency to the defendant. Even letting him off because he didn't do it is somehow being "soft on crime".

Larry Hart said...

Ilithi Dragon:

Wait ... Where'd my post go? I had a whole reply that I made ...


Blogger has been randomly eating posts lately, even those which have already shown up. I don't know why--just telling you what I've seen. One of my posts disappeared like that not too long ago.


Trying to solve gun death by banning or restricting guns will not solve the problem of the death, it will just make the cause of death shift to another tool, because it doesn't address the underlying, root causes of the issue.


Show me a tool that can kill so many people in so short a time and hold off law enforcement while even more lives are being taken, and then I may agree with that. As I said already, I am not a "come for all your guns" guy. I'm looking for solutions to the problem of mass killings (and if I had a foolproof one, I'd already have mentioned it).


I don't need any other reason than "it makes me happy" to do so, because I am not hurting anyone else by owning my firearms, nor are the vast majority of firearm owners.


Wouldn't "It makes a whole lot more people unhappy be a successful counterargument?

* * *

Tony Fisk:

I have pondered a story covering the impact of a MacGuffin in the form of an affordable personal shield. ...
I'd like to look into the social effects: does it improve/diminish civility, trust, acceptance, escalation? Does the constitution allow it?


I've been known to say that evolution must solve the problem by bulletproofing our skin, but that would probably take way too long to be a practical solution. The shield is the next best thing.

Your legal question is a good one. I believe that in my state of Illinois, it is illegal to wear body armor. I can see why police wouldn't want to have to confront a perp wearing armor (like the guy in Buffalo), but I can also see why a regular civilian like myself would like to have the option to protect oneself from gun threats. A shield probably doesn't count as a right under the "right to bear arms", but I don't think anything in the Constitution would prohibit them either.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Blogger has been randomly eating posts lately, even those which have already shown up. I don't know why--just telling you what I've seen. One of my posts disappeared like that not too long ago.

Hmm ... That's unfortunate. I had a great medical treatment analogy, and everything. I'll have to retype it after work tomorrow.

Larry Hart said...

Interesting way of putting this...

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/31/opinion/prosecutor-abortion-virginia.html

Almost two and a half years ago, I took my oath of office as prosecutor, and swore to protect my community from those who broke the law. The real threat, I now realize, may stem from those who write the law.

scidata said...

DP: the collapse of trust
I run an Agent-Based Modeling group on LinkedIn (yes, I do get occasional join requests from fashion models :) I set it up over 10 years ago because all the ABM groups were about derivative trading, but I wanted to discuss computational psychohistory. The most serious researchers focus on modeling, you guessed it, Trust. It is indeed the crux of humanity's struggles and triumphs going back to our Mammoth-roasting campfire days.

llithi Dragon: Star Trek
I live in Toronto, where "Strange New Worlds" is partly made. Local TV has picked it up, so no streaming is req'd. I wish they'd do the same for "Foundation".

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

I run an Agent-Based Modeling group on LinkedIn (yes, I do get occasional join requests from fashion models :)


I hope you have the good sense not to turn them away. :)

scidata said...

@Larry Hart

I have little money, fame, power, or hair. I have to at least save my integrity.

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

I have little money, fame, power, or hair.


Well, good luck finding a different way to socialize with fashion models.

Alfred Differ said...

Pappenheimer,

…by asking whether she could trust the Mexican government and court system…

Death Penalty comes up in California occasionally. Last time someone tried a ballot initiative, I argued with some of my neighbors over it and wound up taking a position that is related to yours.

They were willing to trust the system and objected to those of us who opposed the death penalty arguing that we were willing to trust the system in other ways… but not that one.

I argued that they had it all backwards. Juries decide whether to convict because it is a power to great for the State. The system can drag you before a jury and try you, but can't convict. We reserved that power to the People. I argued we should have done the same thing when it comes to irreversible capital punishment. Only a jury should be able to execute.

No. A jury should not be able to delegate that task anymore than it can the work of deciding questions of guilt.

———

In our election debate on the last initiative, I think I wound up being the only one I new who took that position. Everyone else was arguing on moral grounds… and mostly ignored me when they realized I wasn't. I still think that some of these kinds of decisions are best made from a practical perspective. Should "We The People" allow our State to execute ANY of us? I think not.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Should "We The People" allow our State to execute ANY of us? I think not.


Just so you know, my own reluctance toward the death penalty is on the grounds of misapplication. In clear cut cases of guilt, there are individual situations when I would be ok with it. Not even so much for revenge, but for absolute prevention. The degree of monstrousness of the crime is not what I would execute him for, but it is what would allow me to sleep well afterwards.

However, I get that it is difficult if not impossible to design laws that way.

Now, to your point--we allow our State to arrest and detain us. We allow our state to use deadly force if required in the process of arresting and detaining us. So what's the difference between that and allowing the same executive to...execute?

Let me answer your hypothetical with another hypothetical. When a person is wrongly executed, who gets the blame? You'd have the jurors personally responsible? Could they be charged with manslaughter or murder? Or isn't whoever actually pulls the trigger (lever, switch, whatever) acting as an agent of the state in that capacity?

Cesar A. Santos said...

Death penalty is not ( or should not ) be about revenge but about preventing a complete monster to commit heinous acts again. Good luck escaping, or being released, from Hell or the void.

And yes, it should be done only in cases where there is no doubt about culpability. Like the case of that little girl in Portugal where we know some devil did something horrible to her. They have a suspect but I don't think there will ever be total certainty he is the culprit.

On the other hand, they know he raped a 72 year old woman. And he was released despite doing it. That deserved the DP. But he was alive and free. And probably raped and murdered a litlle girl. A girl who would be alive if he was dead.

Alfred Differ said...

First up, I have no issue with people being executed for something they did. My issue is having the State do it. If you sit on a jury and feel the crime justifies death, you should be willing to pull that trigger/flip that switch. If you can't bring yourself to it, I don't want jurors to be able to delegate the task to anyone other than a fellow juror.

We don't really authorize the use of deadly force in arrests. We tolerate it by not calling it murder. "Thou Shalt Not Kill" has a large number of qualifications in our everyday lives, though most of us still try to hold close to the spirit of the ideal.

———
Liability for wrongful executions? Heh.

Someone should be, but I'd argue the State has to try to defend them since the State brought the charges in the first place. The State would never be allowed to charge them for their proper use of their power as a Juror. Never.

Or isn't whoever actually pulls the trigger (lever, switch, whatever) acting as an agent of the state in that capacity?

Absolutely NOT. When you act as a juror, are you an agent of the State? NO. You sit as 'The People'.

For the State to come at you for your act as a juror, you must fail in your oath as a juror. They must prove this failure before other jurors.

———

The point of all this is that some powers are reserved to the people. Some are and I argue a few more should be added/taken back. The whole Death Penalty argument hinges on 'cruel and unusual' nowadays. If the State isn't executing, all those cases go away and death penalty opposition must turn toward convincing a large enough fraction of "The People" never to allow it. That's where moral decisions should be made anyway. They belong to US.

A.F. Rey said...

https://boundingintocomics.com/2022/05/24/mercedes-lackey-accused-of-racism-banned-from-nebula-awards/

I have to say, that is one of the most ridiculous bannings that I have ever heard of. So she used the term "colored" writer. Tell her the current preferred term, ask her for an apology and not to use it again, and go on. If she complies, forget about it. These people expect every old person to remember the acceptable terms all the time??

And banning her for that? What was the Nebula leadership thinking? As you say, far Leftists like that do more harm for their cause than helping it. I'm wondering if I should ever bother to join the SFWA if that is what they are like nowadays. It's a shame.

David Brin said...

I saw Ilithi Dragon's posts about Trek and about guns.

I believe no one seriously expects there to be a ban on your 30.06. The question should be whether to treat guns almost exactly like cars, which are used with great skill by millions every hour -- and you can buy a car that makes you happy.

The only justification for not immediately treating guns like cars is the 'slippery slope to confiscation' drivel. But in order to satisfy that, I wrote my Jefferson Rifle proposal. The Jefferson Rifle: hidden essence of the gun debate - http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2007/01/brin-classics-jefferson-rifle.html

Der Oger said...

I am an opponent of death penalties (historical reasons, cultural reasons, chance of mistrial).

But, for a minute, let me propose a twist:

The moment a death penalty (and only that) is handed out, the prosecutor is immediately arrested. Defense becomes prosecution and must, in a second trial, prove that the prosecutor has made mistakes during the first trial, police has forged or destroyed beneficial evidence, or other errors.

If the second trial is successful, the prosecutor is convicted, and the former conviction overthrown.

Der Oger said...

As for the gun debate, Beau of the Fifth column offers an idea, centering around prior behaviour:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwOVUt7myLU

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

The moment a death penalty (and only that) is handed out, the prosecutor is immediately arrested. Defense becomes prosecution and must, in a second trial, prove that the prosecutor has made mistakes during the first trial, police has forged or destroyed beneficial evidence, or other errors.


In a way, that's what happens when the case is (almost inevitably) appealed. It's one reason death penalty cases take so long to reach conclusion.

But the process as you state it could never fly here in the USA. For the prosecutor to become a defendant, there would have to be probably cause that a crime was committed. The fact that he did his job successfully would not suffice as evidence of a crime.

* * *

Alfred Differ:

Someone should be [liable for false execution] , but I'd argue the State has to try to defend them since the State brought the charges in the first place. The State would never be allowed to charge them for their proper use of their power as a Juror. Never.

"Or isn't whoever actually pulls the trigger (lever, switch, whatever) acting as an agent of the state in that capacity?"

Absolutely NOT. When you act as a juror, are you an agent of the State? NO. You sit as 'The People'.


I'm having trouble reconciling those two statements. If the executioners are not acting as agents of the State, then aren't they acting of their own accord? Why would the State be bound to defend them?

I'm also having a bit of a semantic issue because the prosecutor is the one who represents "the people" in a criminal trial. As in "The people of California vs Boris Badenov".

Larry Hart said...

I said:

probably cause


That should have been "probable cause". And I can't even blame spell-check.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

If the executioners are not acting as agents of the State, then aren't they acting of their own accord?

Of course not. Jurors are "The People" deciding whether the prosecutor has successfully proven the charge... and whether the charge should have been brought in the first place.

The prosecutor represents the side pressing charges on behalf of "The People". Defense represents the defendant. Juries ARE "The People" and make the decision.


Why would the State be bound to defend them?

Because the State brought the charges in the first place. IF someone wants to charge a juror for wrongful death, it matters whether the juror was acting as a juror at the time. That only happens if the State brings charges against someone and assembles a jury.

Remember that jury duty is compelled. There are consequences for shirking your duty. On that ground, I argue the State must defend you against charges brought against you while you fulfill your compelled duty. (I suspect many of these would involve dismissals by judges who need juries for their courts to function.)

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Sorry. Another important point.

When you are convicted of a charge in a jury trial, you are convicted by "The People". It isn't the State who decides that because that is a power too potent for them to wield safely.

The State sets up the jury trial.
The People convict.

duncan cairncross said...

Re the Death Penalty

There is another HUGE disadvantage in the US system with regard to the death penalty

Plea Bargaining !!

If a prosecutor can hold the death penalty over somebodies head its a massive incentive for even an innocent person to "confess" and accept a lesser penalty

Plea bargaining is a BAD BAD BAD idea and is illegal in most of the world

Combine that with the Death penalty and its injustice on steroids

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Remember that jury duty is compelled. There are consequences for shirking your duty. On that ground, I argue the State must defend you against charges brought against you while you fulfill your compelled duty.


Which is why I question the idea of requiring execution be carried out by a juror. The State is the one who establishes the range of penalties for particular crimes. Jurors don't have to personally put someone in prison after they sentence him. I don't see the legal justification for the jury being required to carry out the sentence. In fact, the "monopoly of force" almost requires the State to be the one doing the execution. "The People" don't have that power or responsibility.


The prosecutor represents the side pressing charges on behalf of "The People". Defense represents the defendant. Juries ARE "The People" and make the decision.


That sounds as if the jury is on the prosecutor's team. I don't think that's really what you want.

Maybe we can say the prosecutor represents "The People" in the executive branch , whereas the jury represents "The People" in the judicial? Except that, again, sentence is carried out by the executive branch. In real life, judges don't perform executions, lock convicts away, or collect fines. Why would juries be expected to do any of those things?

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Maybe I wasn't clear. The jury isn't REQUIRED to do anything. Jurors CAN be compelled to serve. (In practice... we just punish those who refuse.) They cannot be compelled to convict, acquit, or deliver a particular punishment.

(This is what I get for trying to condense a position that took me weeks to work out into a few paragraphs without treating the effort as a complex essay.) 8)

Monopoly of Force is a fig leaf. When you sit as a juror you have the power to coerce the defendant. YOU have it and must take the responsibility seriously. YOU decide what the State does. It looks like the State coerces, but it won't without YOUR blessing.

---

At present, the power to execute is a delegated power. We gave it to the State. I argue we should take it back.

---

The People aren't part of any branch. We aren't our government and it is an important distinction to keep in mind. We elect many of those who serve us, pay a whole bunch more, and occasionally step across this line when we propose ballot initiatives. Normally the line between us is clear, though.

Alfred Differ said...

Gosh darn it... if we treat guns like cars next think you know people will be demanding we put seat belts on them too. And wear helmets for the pistols which are more like motorcycles!

What's next? Environmental laws? Equivalents for engine efficiency?

[/snark]

There is a joke in there somewhere. A dark one for immediate post-massacre times. Something about school children killed per bullet. Efficiency!

Argh. Good thing summer vacation time is rolling around now for those of us living on the northern side of this rotating ball of molten iron.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Since we haven't executed Henry Kissinger or the executives of Purdue Pharma and the W R Grace Corporation, there is no way to justify executing anyone else. 14th Amendment anyone?

Larry Hart said...

down to nit-picking now...

Alfred Differ:

They [jurors] cannot be compelled to convict, acquit, or deliver a particular punishment.


Well, the State sets the range of penalties. What to do with a convicted defendant isn't entirely in the jury's hands.


When you sit as a juror you have the power to coerce the defendant. YOU have it and must take the responsibility seriously. YOU decide what the State does. It looks like the State coerces, but it won't without YOUR blessing.


The State does the coercing with the jury's permission. The jury does not coerce. The jury doesn't threaten to use force unless the defendant does their bidding. The State does that.


There is a joke in there somewhere. A dark one for immediate post-massacre times. Something about school children killed per bullet. Efficiency!

Argh. Good thing summer vacation time is rolling around now for those of us living on the northern side of this rotating ball of molten iron.


During the height of COVID lockdowns, my dark humor was to point out that there weren't any school shootings going on. The darkest part of the humor was to suggest that this is why Republicans opposed lockdowns.

Tim H. said...

We are caught on the twin misfortunes of "Profit first, Mammon must be served" and political expediency, "No disaster is an entirely bad thing, if we can blame a Democrat for it". The reactionary project of breaking the united States and remaking it according to their fantasies must end.

Unknown said...

Tim H,

I am rather afraid that the end is in sight.

Pappenheimer

Tim H. said...

I fear you're correct, and the authors of this will be displeased when they confront everything that comes with their victory.

Jon S. said...

Last I heard, jurors don't decide punishment. They decide whether a defendant is guilty or not. Judges then assign penalties, within certain pre-established guidelines - you can't give somebody the chair for grand theft auto.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

Last I heard, jurors don't decide punishment. They decide whether a defendant is guilty or not.


It might be different in different states, but I do believe that in some capital cases, the jury has to decide whether the defendant is eligible for the death penalty.


Judges then assign penalties, within certain pre-established guidelines


That's what I meant about the State establishing the range of penalties available.

Cesar A. Santos said...

@Larry Hart That guy is just another hateful fascistoid, drunk on their own certainty of moral rightenousness, believing their side is saintly and always right, and the other guys are pure Evil and deserve to be destroyed to the last. "They are ALL evil!" A Hitleroid/Stalinoid grub that would love to see blood on the streets. Shameful and pathetic really.

Larry Hart said...

@Cesar A Santos,

I realize that the Rude Pundit's style isn't for everyone here, but I share his outright disrespect for the current crop of Republicans.

Cesar A. Santos said...

Indeed. I highly disrespect both sides and wish there were more. This American dichotomy is insane. A democracy with only two parties of note is disfunctional and unheard of anywhere ele. No wonder the country is always on the edge of a civil war.

duncan cairncross said...

Cesar -
A democracy with only two parties of note is disfunctional and unheard of anywhere else

Yes its disfunctional - but its NOT rare

IF you have "First Past the Post" voting THEN you get two partis

You need to move away from "First Past the Post" towards some form of proportional representation THEN you get more than 2 parties

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Well, the State sets the range of penalties.

Indeed. I wouldn't change that. Some of our neighbor/jurors would still remove hands for theft of a loaf of bread.

The State does the coercing with the jury's permission.

Fig leaf my friend. Sit on a jury and look the defendant in the eye. They know who has power over them.


Jon S,

Last I heard, jurors don't decide punishment.

True in some cases and in some States. Not always, though.

However, where it isn't possible for jurors to decide punishment formally they still have negation power. Judges really don't like it when they do that and might call it a mistrial and try to smack the juror, but it's a juror power nonetheless.


For both,

I limit the change I would make to taking back the power to execute and putting it in the hands of the only non-state entity present in the Court's reach.

I would expect most executions to stop in most states.
I would expect there to be messy details about who pulls a trigger after a lengthy appeal is complete.
I would expect more messy details around what happens if jury members change their mind and are unwilling to kill. (Sentence conversion should be swift.)

gerold said...

Cesar: the "both sides" pretense is bogus and wanting to see the Republican Party destroyed is the only sane and moral position for decent human beings.

There may be two sides to every story, but in the real world truth and fiction have different relations to reality. Fascists and every stripe of totalitarian don't just rely on force and violence to grab and hold power. Their program is also built on lies. Whether we're talking about Republicans, United Russia or the Caliphate they eat drink and sleep on lies. If we want to save this world - or to be more precise the life upon it - then lying violent totalitarians can not be allowed to dictate the terms.

It's true that many - even most - individual Republicans are decent people. But the fact remains they facilitate evil policies and programs which endanger us all. They might look forward to being raptured up to heaven as the world burns, or having their forty virgin playthings for all eternity, but for us living in reality those lies are no consolation.

Our two-party system has some real disadvantages, especially with the structural bias of the Senate favoring lightly populated rural states, but it's only the rapacious dishonesty of the Republican Party that has made it into such a menace to our future.

GOP delenda est.

Cesar A. Santos said...

Pragmatically what I see is that when the Democrats are in power... same-same. The poor getting poorer. Billionaires getting billionairer. Environment getting destroyed.

While I support the democrats environmental policy I don't see it being realized. While I support the Republicans toughness on crime (instead of the almost admiration dems have for them) I don't see them going for the roots of the problem like attacking the mental diseases issue. (Neither do the dems).

Lol, I believe in the seriousness of Climate Change and I am anti-abortion as it is murder to me. Both sides despise me and vice-versa.

Larry Hart said...

gerold:

Cesar: the "both sides" pretense is bogus and wanting to see the Republican Party destroyed is the only sane and moral position for decent human beings.
...
but it's only the rapacious dishonesty of the Republican Party that has made it into such a menace to our future.


Thanks for saying that before I had to.:)

There might be a level of corruption infecting both parties, but only one side is the party which sees cheating backed by violence as its birthright. Equating both sides is equivalent to justifying Republican fascism.


Our two-party system has some real disadvantages, especially with the structural bias of the Senate favoring lightly populated rural states, ...


One of the worst structural failures of our system is not so much about population differential or even gerrymandering so much as the "winner take all" system. I saw some studies which showed that the electoral vote for president would be just as skewed from the popular vote if the states had electors proportional to their population--as long as the winner of each state still received all of that state's electors. The EV would be much more in line with the popular vote under the current allocations if candidates received electors proportional to the state's vote rather than winner take all.

Likewise, the House and Senate rules are currently constructed so that the party in the majority gets to decide everything the chamber does, from votes to hearings. The position of "majority leader" isn't in the Constitution, but when Mitch McConnell was in that position, he could hold a supreme court seat open for a year.

We'd be a much fairer system if, say, a party representing 10% of the people got its way 10% of the time. Instead, a party that represents* 50.1 percent of the people gets its way all the time, and everyone else is screwed.

* Even that is not true as 30% of the population is represented by 70% of the Senators, but that was beside my point.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"The State does the coercing with the jury's permission."

Fig leaf my friend. Sit on a jury and look the defendant in the eye. They know who has power over them.


I have been. And you are right, the jury has the power to decide, but that's not what I think of as "coercion". The jury doesn't bargain with the defendant and reward/punish based upon whether the defendant does their bidding. The power they exert is in response to actions already taken.

The State is the entity which holds the defendant over for trial and (if convicted) afterwards. The State is the one who can prod the defendant physically if he refuses to obey voluntarily. The jury does none of that.


I limit the change I would make to taking back the power to execute and putting it in the hands of the only non-state entity present in the Court's reach.


I do get where you're going with the "No execution that you're not willing to carry out yourself" notion. I'm just questioning some of the details. Like, why you consider the one person who fires the bullet or who throws the switch on the electric chair or who puts the rope around the guy's neck and trips the lever to be the one performing the execution, separate from the ones who cage him and forcibly drag him to the execution chamber. It takes a village to execute. The whole difference between state sanctioned execution and individual murder is that the former is a society-wide responsibility. I'm not clear the benefit derived from treating the former as the latter, except to perversely relieve everybody other than the poor schmuck who delivers the fatal blow of the collective responsibility.

Larry Hart said...

Cesar A Santos:

Pragmatically what I see is that when the Democrats are in power... same-same. The poor getting poorer. Billionaires getting billionairer. Environment getting destroyed.

When have you recently seen the Democrats "in power"? They get the presidency every once in a while, but Republicans in congress can prevent anything meaningful from being passed, thanks to the filibuster. And the 6-3 Republican majority on the supreme court can shoot down anything they disagree with at will. The way I'd interpret what you say there is "When Democrats are in power, Republicans still call the shots."

I disagree with many Republican policies, but that's not what we're discussing here. When Al Gore was vice president and Bush "won" under questionable circumstances, you didn't see Gore attempt to subvert the electoral process to make himself the winner. Hillary conceded the election--she didn't call on Joe Biden to overturn the vote count or threaten to hang him otherwise. Republicans are openly running on doing just that in 2024. Republicans will use the levers of power to make sure they always retain the levers of power.


I believe in the seriousness of Climate Change and I am anti-abortion as it is murder to me. Both sides despise me and vice-versa.


Well, only one side despises me and vice-versa. :)

On climate change, I think you are equating the party whose essential platform is harm to the environment with the party who simply doesn't have enough support (i.e. elected Senators) to enact useful legislation.

Also, you oppose abortion as murder, but would you investigate every miscarriage under the assumption that it was a secret abortion until proven otherwise? If the woman is carrying a dead fetus or one that is growing outside her womb, would you prevent her from having the fetus (which can't possibly be born alive) removed? Because those are the Republican positions on abortion.

Jon S. said...

"I believe in the seriousness of Climate Change and I am anti-abortion as it is murder to me. Both sides despise me and vice-versa."

And that's where bothsiderism gets you. Dems don't "despise" you for being anti-abortion - as long as you're not out there shooting doctors and bombing clinics, you're free to believe what you want. Nobody's taking you to court, or threatening your public execution, for being anti-choice, provided you're not using force to remove others' rights.

Republicans, on the other hand, have made it official party policy to call for the prosecution and/or death of those who disagree with them on pretty much anything, as they conflate political and religious beliefs (therefore those who disagree aren't just wrong, they are sinful and advancing the cause of Evil).

The two major parties are not "the same", and haven't been since, in my estimation, around the time Reagan started welcoming fascist Evangelicals into his "big tent" (which has only grown smaller and more circus-like with each passing year).

Cesar A. Santos said...

@Larry Hart
Yep. I see the Democrats as extremely incompetent for allowing the Republicans to run circles around them. They have the power of the majority of the population on their side but lack the strong will necessary to change the system. Those last points about abortion I have no trouble with and show a degree of fundamentalism that only throws mud in the water of a honest, rational debate.

@Jon S You can find many liberals who would want to do the same. But I have to agree with Mr. Brin that too many on the conservative side are like that. Things like that keep me away from being a Republican.

scidata said...

Back to SF for a moment. I just watched DESTINATION MOON (1950), mainly because I mistook John Archer for Ronald Reagan. Screenplay partly by Heinlein, so it dealt with several hard SF concepts. Industrialists led, gov't followed (or even obstructed). Very Musk-esque. Very accurate 73-year old depiction of present-day spaceflight.

David Brin said...

"Pragmatically what I see is that when the Democrats are in power... same-same..."

YES! That is the key point. That IS whjat you 'see'. It is hallucinatory nonsense on a dozen levels and the fact that you are able to convince yourself that's what you 'see' - without any kind of fact reality check - is embelmatic of why the GO keeps squeaking bak into poawer and we keep getting betrayed by sit on their hands moaners.

Wanna check? Try here:

So Do Outcomes Matter More than Rhetoric? - CONTRARY BRIN - http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/08/five-devastating-rebuttals-to-use-with.html

David Brin said...

Our computer will read your emails and let you know when you are fired:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/compliance/communication-compliance?view=o365-worldwide

Unknown said...

Ken MacLeod is one of my favorite sci-fi authors who dared to introduce socialist/ left libertarian ideas in his work.

duncan cairncross said...

Cesar

Your main opposition to the Dems is Crime and Abortion

I'm a pragmatist - I look at results

The results are very very clear - the GOP policies on "abortion" lead directly to MORE abortions - the whole "Pro-Life" platform increases the number of abortions!!

If you really want less abortions because they are "murder" then you should vote "Pro-Choice"

Crime - again the GOP approach to "crime" which is one of "punishment" leads to much much MORE crime

If you want less "Crime" then you need to move away from the "punishment" mindset and towards the "rehabilitation" mindset
(Removing the background poverty would help as well)
The Dems are nowhere near far enough in that direction (look at Norway as an example) but they are still miles better than the GOP
If you want less crime then you need to support the Dems - and push them in a more progressive direction

Today the USA leads the way in incarceration with 25% of the worlds prisoners - a much higher NUMBER as well as a higher rate than any other country

Cesar A. Santos said...

An interesting post Mr. Brin. One cannot argue with math. Maybe such a view should be used in every way to measure social data like employment, poverty and crime in the news instead of the flashy inanities people use daily which are completely devoid of value. If people could learn about it this way maybe politicians would feel more pressure from the people.

Democrats waste too much time trying to score web social justice points in things like gender politics and too little time fighting back at republicans changing the rules all the time to benefit their paymasters and themselves.

Cesar A. Santos said...

@duncan cairncross Yes, I have seen the Math. The problem is the contested territory all the way from sex education onwards. The religious opposition to Sex Ed is nothing short of idiotic.

Poverty and ignorance don't help.

Rationally you know the answer is to allow abortion because you get less abortions. Counterintuitive but, again, Math is Math. But then you see the political rhetoric people use to support it, the dehumanization they use... Then blood boils and goodbye rationality.

There must be a middle ground between attacking the cause of crimes, separating the light criminals from the demonic ones and coddling rapists and child killers like some do.

duncan cairncross said...

There must be a middle ground between attacking the cause of crimes, separating the light criminals from the demonic ones and coddling rapists and child killers like some do.

There is such a "middle ground" and the data shows that Norway is a LOT closer to it than the USA - the actual data shows that movement towards rehabilitation and away from "punishment" has always helped
So far nobody - not even Norway - has reached the point when the trend starts to move the other way - which suggests that the optimum point is even further than Norway

"coddling rapists and child killers like some do"

Once you accept that the goals are "protect the public" and "rehabilitate where possible" and you abandon the idea that "punishment" is of any damn use at all then you do NOT "coddle" the unfixable - but you do keep them away from the public and in comfortable conditions
Torturing them by making them live in horrible conditions does them no good and is incredibly corrosive for the souls of the jailers and the people in the justice system

Torturers always turn out bad in the long term

Like slaveholders - torture will turn a good man bad - from both sides of the knife

Talking about "Slavery" - requiring that a woman use her body to support another individual is inherently slavery
We do NOT require that a person give his blood or organs to another human (even if that human will die without them)

If abortion is murder then so is not donating any organ you can live without

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

If you really want less abortions because they are "murder" then you should vote "Pro-Choice"


If opposition to abortion is because it is murder, then one should have no problem with contraception. If opposition to abortion is to be punitive toward sex, then it makes sense to also oppose contraception.

We all know which side of that argument the Republican Party is on. They don't care about reducing murders. They want to punish sex.

Alan Brooks said...

The Right is obsessed with O’Sullivan’s Law, and the Omnipotent Gipper’s Eleventh Commandment.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

If you give everyone in the firing squad live rounds, some won't pull the trigger when asked to execute one of their own.

If you give some of them blanks and say so, more triggers get pulled. Each shooter can imagine they didn't do it.

------

You can believe in the fig leaf if you wish. I don't want to change your mind. My view of it is different... and unpleasant for me. My government's actions are partially mine... especially if I voted for the people who make poor decisions. Even when I don't, though, I don't think We get to escape the moral consequences of the actions of those who serve us.

I'd rather we did not delegate executions, but I don't expect to win the argument this generation. Many of us want bad people to die for their crimes and are willing to have the state do the dirty deed. Many don't want us executing anyone instead suggesting a punishment (life sentence) that is arguably worse. From my view, that's a lot of people playing God.

So... take the next step and don't delegate the power to execute. Any jury willing to convict someone of a capital crime that leads to a death sentence should have someone on it willing to pull the trigger. If not, the sentence should not be death.

Alfred Differ said...

Cesar

...what I see is that when the Democrats are in power...


This is where it helps to have a few friends who help you see farther than you can on your own. One has to be careful not to pick friends who wear ideological blinders, though.

I'm technically a classical liberal (not a progressive) and side with libertarians on many issues, but I recognize that on most fiscal and liberty issues, I'm better off with Democrats running the place than with the current crop of from the GOP. When it comes to choosing who I ally with to get at least some of what I want, I'll generally chose progressives over autocrats and theocrats and then politely inform the folks on the left that my support has limits.

They aren't all the same, so picking and choosing among Democrats in places where they have control is my best option. It annoys progressives when I chose against their preferred warrior, but what they get instead is far better than losing to con-men who think they can piss on us, call it rain, and expect us to agree.

gerold said...

Regarding the ubiquity of tired socio-political stereotypes in scifi; that's just a failure of imagination by writers.

The post-scarcity post-economy world of Star Trek has been mentioned, and that is a hopeful alternative to the easy-answer dystopia more commonly seen. Somehow it's easier to imagine a dystopian future than a hopeful one.

Someone (sorry can't remember who) mentioned the liberal-anarchy of the Ian Banks Culture books, and truly they are a shining example of how technology can deliver freedom. And not just freedom for us humans, but every form of sentience. I love how AI's have sentient rights in the Culture. It's the logical culmination of the Enlightenment repudiation of racism, sexism and gender role prejudice.

None of us are free until every sentient being is free.

duncan cairncross said...

Re - execution

Alfred believes we should all have some skin in the game

I would question "cost benefit" analysis

There is zero "Benefit" in executing somebody

And as Alfred points out there is considerable "Cost" in having people become executioners

So the Norwegian approach of simply keeping such people away from the rest of us for their whole lives has less "Cost" than having somebody execute them

Comfortable lives as "torturing" them by the conditions they live under will have adverse effects on the people who have to inflict that

Cesar A. Santos said...

My problem with Norway is that they seem to be in a very specific outlier group with a few countries like Finland.

Not even the richest countries in the world like USA and Germany seems to be able to manage to reproduce their very specific socioeconomical conditions.

Maybe they can only be of use as an example of what can we hope to achieve. Even if by other, more tortuous, paths.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Cesar
Norway is the most advanced
Here (NZ) and the UK lag behind
But even with that we are still a long way in advance of the USA

The USA has the world leading incarceration rate at 629/100,000
Norway is 56
Germany is 70
NZ is 164

And there is a horrible REASON why the USA is so bad

https://qz.com/645990/nixon-advisor-we-created-the-war-on-drugs-to-criminalize-black-people-and-the-anti-war-left/

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Cesar A. Santos said...

That would explain the incompetence in dealing with drugs. They were never the target. Otherwise they would have gone for the root not the leaves on the end of the smallest branches.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

So... take the next step and don't delegate the power to execute. Any jury willing to convict someone of a capital crime that leads to a death sentence should have someone on it willing to pull the trigger.


My argument is somewhat more practical. The job of a juror is to decide on a verdict. There is no requirement that they are trained in the available methods of execution.

It might be safe to assume that almost anyone is capable of pointing a gun and firing it, but AFAIK, Utah is the only state which currently executes by firing squad. If the state requires lethal injection, is a juror expected to know how to administer the shots? If the method is hanging or the chair, would you require the juror to physically compel the convict to the place of execution and place the noose or strap him in? Or is it enough that a juror throws a switch after the State is done with the compelling?

* * *

I was all over this on the old "Cerebus" list, but my preferred method of humane execution is to revive the guillotine. I'm not kidding. I think you'd have defendants waiving their appeals and volunteering to be executed quickly rather than face lengthy prison sentences. Or maybe that morbid fascination is specifically my own. The story I wrote for "Cerebus Readers in Crisis #2" starts off with my future self being executed by guillotine.

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=651461

Tim H. said...

This may amuse duncan cairncross, it amused me:

https://freethoughtblogs.com/stderr/2022/06/02/why-do-we-let-ourselves-be-ruled-by-garbage/

I suspect Jacinda Ardern would upset U. S. campaign donors.

Alfred Differ said...

Duncan,

I'm with you on the cost benefit analysis. I don't think there is a benefit worth the cost. With skin in the game, I think most DA's would realize they can't get those convictions. Too many jurors would be unwilling to do the actual deed and might acquit to avoid it.

A fair number of us are willing to kill, but most of us would delegate the task. That's what we are doing by allowing for the death penalty. What we would not do ourselves, we'll tolerate if the State does it for us. Like blanks in some of our rifles, we kill in a deniable manner.

Larry,

You are getting too bogged down in the details. I wouldn't change how states actually execute except to have a juror (or a few if they are willing) be the ones to pull a trigger, push a button, or flip a switch. Whatever the allowed method is, the critical step that kills would belong to someone on the jury.

In that manner, the State's possibly "cruel and unusual" punishment is confirmed by The People if a juror can bring themselves to do the deed.

Duncan is right about skin in the game. If we on the jury are willing to permit the State to execute, we shouldn't be able to dodge the moral consequences of our choice.

In all this, though, I would never want to force a juror to do anything. That defeats the whole purpose of the change. If no one on the jury is willing, the death sentence is de facto commuted as if the Governor had done it. End of appeals regarding that sentence because The People have spoken in a manner that future DA's should notice and consider for future charges and sentence suggestions.

Alfred Differ said...

Cesar,

That would explain the incompetence in dealing with drugs.

Yes.

Add on top of that the futility of the effort. We know damn well why Prohibition failed, yet we think we can make it work with other drugs instead?

Lather, rinse, repeat... as we try not to notice the blood and lost lives of those below us on the socio-economic ladder.

---

Try not to blame one party or another for this, though. This is an American Culture problem. We are in the process of beating it, but it's slow and throbs like a tooth in need of a root canal.

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred

"Try not to blame one party or another for this"

And THERE is the GOP's biggest lie

For the last 50 years at least the GOP has been dragging the USA in a horrible direction

But they keep the "Both parties are the same" lie - and it bloody WORKS!!!

The Dems are not saints - but a sleezy shop lifter is not "the same" as a Serial Killer

David Brin said...

vigorous discussion, guys...


onward

onward