Sunday, December 11, 2022

The competent professionals who save the world daily, slandered by erudite Kremlin shills

In an essay in Claremont Review, one Michael Anton offers a view of history that conveniently rewrites the record, on behalf of right wing mania. And while there is certainly some erudition and fact-citing in the article: what a stunning pile of dreck! Let's sample:

"The worst element of the present crisis, at least from our side, isn’t the virulent Russophobia emitting from the same people who scoffed at standing up to the Kremlin when it was controlled by zealots hell-bent on worldwide Communist revolution—by conquest if necessary. It’s not even the newfound war fever of former pacifists who once denounced military preparedness as reckless provocation. It’s the casual insouciance with which elites now speak of nuclear exchanges as an acceptable price to pay for stopping Russia and, really, not all that bad. Exhibit A is Anne Applebaum’s recent Atlantic column entitled “Fear of Nuclear War Has Warped the West’s Ukraine Strategy.” The West is not doing enough to escalate the conflict, she argues, because “[w]e feel relieved, somehow, that people will die because they have frozen in unheated apartments or drowned in an artificial flood, and not from nuclear fallout.” And, hey, what’s the difference?

"Seriously, the survival of the free world wasn’t grave enough to risk nuclear confrontation, but who controls the Donbass is? When MSNBC and CNN talking heads start making Curtis LeMay sound circumspect, the world has turned upside down."

Oh where to begin on this pile of Kremlin-sourced agitptop? Perhaps by offering Mr. Anton a $$$ wager whether 'military readiness' was on average better at the completion of Democratic administrations or Republican ones? I stand ready with stakes, if he dares try to support that all-out lie. But to his key points:

1. The ignoramus actually asserts that Post WWII Republicans were the principal force for containment of Soviet expansionism. Bull. Until Reagan, a majority of Republicans favored return to pre 1941 isolationism. The aggressive containment policy (that alas also led to us being reflexively lured into a draining land war in Asia) was pushed ever since 1947 by the US labor movement and the AFL-CIO! Those Teamsters and factory workers never changed their volcanic hatred of Leninism/Stalinism, even after they shifted their party allegiance to the GOP (propelled by school busing and other lefty mistakes). That shift of party identity brought anti-Soviet fervor with them, leading to Reaganism. And a 'Pundit' who ignores that should have his "P" credential shredded.

In fact, the post WWII US left was NEVER (except for a few Angela Davis types), pro Kremlin! Ever. And that's ever. In fact, more recent Foxite rages against George Soros cite him as "a fearsome manipulator" for having "toppled 8 foreign governments!" with his NGO meddling. Alas, none of the dittohead addicts watching Hannity ever asks him to NAME those "8 foreign governments toppled by George Soros!" (It's true. He did! Can YOU name them? Michael Anton probably could. But his masters won't let him.)

2. As for Mr. Anton's assertion of today's lefty "russophobia"? It's a term used now by Putinist shills to undermine support for a current strategy in support of Ukraine that has proved correct in every respect, first by firming up and strengthening the NATO Alliance that Trumpists tried (at KGB orders) to destroy.

Comparatively inexpensively, we are resisting the most unambiguous evil we've see in a generation, effectively destroying what everyone had deemed a major threat - the Russian military - a potemkin husk, we now see, but horrifically dangerous, nonetheless. Till now. 

Going almost entirely unmentioned is how we are thereby testing our own weapons systems in perfect field trials. Results that have surely daunted a major rising power to the southeast against even considering any aggressive move for a decade. Western weapons and doctrines have proved spectacularly correct and effective and these field trials will keep them that way...

3. ...while helping a brave, underdog nation stand up to its goliath bully and planting seeds of doubt in a Russian public that may (at last) outgrow 2000 years of obeisance to brutal "strongman" czars.

4. Above all, garbage like this spew by Mr. Anton helps to unveil what the thoroughly corrupted GOP has become, essentially a mouthpiece for the worldwide campaign against Democracies and enlightenment values. An attempted putsch that's subsidized by every oligarchy on the planet, from casino-owner mafiosi (all of them donors to the Republican Party that made one of them president) to petro-boyars, murder-sheiks, and drug cartels resisting legalization, all the way to hedge lords and inheritance brats, all of them united at targeting - especially - the professionals who stand between them and a return to feudal power. 

The nerdy fact professions, from science and civil service to law, medicine, teaching and journalism to the FBI/Intel/military and diplomatic corps who won the Cold War and the War on Terror! All of the professionals who Tucker Carlson derides as "snobs" almost every evening and who a confederate senator just last month denounced as "high IQ stupid people."

Our dedicated, brilliant and perseverant professionals, who now are displaying the kind of immense COMPETENCE that we pay them for, and for which the public almost never gives credit.

It is that dazzling competence we are seeing on display, right now, almost daily in the current crisis. Professional competence... and not Mr. Anton's armchair heckling of "russophobia"... is what's helping immensely brave Ukrainians to defeat injustice and evil. 

And that competence - by those dedicated men and women whom we hire to be competent - plus political leaders who are smart and patriotic enough to use that competence wisely - is what we must count on, foremost, to navigate a path through the minefield of this decade. 

A decade when history might at last (one way or the other) come to an 'end.'


reason said...

Dreck I think - not deck!

David Brin said...

"dreck' correct-ed!

Larry Hart said...

Reposted as I slipped it in just after the "onward" last time...

Dr Brin in the main post:

using the illicitly ratified majority of the Supreme Court to support the 'Independent State Legislature' theory. That State Assemblies are the fundamental and final arbiters of electoral sovereignty,

This one boggles my mind, on mere semantic grounds. What the heck is it supposed to mean that a state legislature "declares" anything except by the way the legislature is defined by the state constitution.

Is the Roberts opinion that whatever 51% of both chambers of the legislature votes for constitutes an assertion of policy by that legislature? What if the two chambers don't agree? The idea that both chambers of a legislation have to agree to the same words a rule established by the state constitution? What if the speaker of the state lower chamber insists that his chamber is the one "closest to the people", so he actually speaks for the entire legislature? What if he says he does so even if his own chamber didn't vote to agree with him? And how about Nebraska's legislature with only one chamber? Isn't that a function of the state constitution which established it?

Without the constitution describing exactly how the legislature works, what does it mean for the legislature to do anything? And who but the state courts are arbiters of what the state constitution actually says?

While I understand that the current US supreme court thinks it can decide whatever it feels like, regardless of custom, precedent, or even the law itself, I don't see how this "theory" makes even syntactical sense.

Larry Hart said...

Are "Oger" and "Der Oger" the same person?

Der Oger said...

@ Larry: Yes ... and I did not notice this weird synchro error... the last post was made from my cellphone, usually I post from a computer ...

Tony Fisk said...

To revisit the psycho historian discussion: while 'keeping it secret' to stop the data changing is one approach, science fictional attempts to 'prevent the future' (or some of them) by highlighting the consequences represents another.
Indeed, psychohistory could be said to be an example of this.
Who's up for some basilisk wrangling?

David Brin said...

SF as a source of self-preventing prophecies is the core topic of VIVID TOMORROWS: Science Fiction and Hollywood -

scidata said...

Supremacist shills usually take a pass on the gentle genius of Mozart, the brave introspection of Albert Schweitzer, and the brilliant humanism of Kurt Vonnegut. Instead, they invariably glom onto hideous sociopaths and brain-wormed idiots.

Paradoctor said...

Self-preventing prophesies tend toward Seldonian paradox. When it is seen as coming true, then forces arise to negate it; when the resistance is successful, then those forces abate, and the prophesy tends toward truth. I predict three possible outcomes:
* A stable system based upon an ironic compromise between denying the prophesy and accepting it, and taking appropriate half-measures.
* A cycle between the prophesy coming true but resisted, and it going false and supported. I guess that the period is often two generations.
* Chaotic oscillation between extremes, with sensitive dependence on initial conditions.

Alan Brooks said...

I talk to rightists all the time (keep friends close, opponents closer), they appear to dislike FDR even more than Carter, Clinton, Obama and Biden.
FDR is considered by them to be the origin. They like Truman a bit because he “built the Air Force.”
My prediction is they’re going to be more active on the West Coast; Larry Kudlow is one of their perpetually frowning fellows from CA—and he has nothing new to say whatsoever. I’ll wager anyone that the “Left Coast” is going to be their main target east of the Appalachians.
However the world possibly ending doesn’t bother them as much as you might think. For one, many think the Deity will Save them. Two: shall we say ‘latent envy of the future’ is a factor. They generally care about their descendants, but what happens to their descendants after Gramps and Daddy are gone is not necessarily always their main priority—although it is a major priority.
When they die, the fate of the world is “OPP”:: Other People’s Problem. If Gramp knew he was going to die the same day the world ended, it wouldn’t bother him all that much; he’d feel he wasn’t going to miss out on Earthly action, and he might go live with ‘The Man Upstairs’ in the Great Retirement Community in the Sky. What I tell them is that I like their religion, but Not their politics.

David Brin said...

AB those folks hate it when you remind them that the Greatest Generation revered FDR above all other living humans.

They were there. They had first hand experience with gilded oligarchs. They built the Labor Movement. They were willing to step up and prove assertions with cash wagers. They liked science. They knew the US Revolution was against inheritance brat aristocracy that owned 3/4 of the land in both Britain and the colonies, and later against similar landed lords who 'owned' human beings.

They would spit in any MAGA's eye.

Unknown said...

DeCamp pointed out in one of his fantasy novels that democracies can look messier and more corrupt than kingdoms or autocracies because the nobility can cover up their mistakes and self-dealings better: negative feedback gets squelched. Look at the on/off early republics of France, where the monarchists always came in promising the Return of the King. Unfortunately, they weren't getting Aragorn*, or even Napoleon, but rather second-rate Bonapartes.

*and just how well did Aragorn's kid and grandkid rule, anyway?


Alan Brooks said...

But they’ve built up an elaborate worldview since, when? The era of Constantine? Before then? A few of them are so kindly, can scarcely avoid being pulled into bothsidesism—political schizophrenia. To argue with them feels like going into a church two weeks from now and saying Humbug.

David Brin said...

The GGs were horrible, racist, sexist pigs by comparison to the better, more just society that THEY took us a lot closer to becoming.

To today's woke-ists I say we share the same - or smilar- goals. But your ferocious denunciations are comparing us, today, to what?

compared to an ideal that ONLY this generation can even envision, standing on the shoulders of earlier reformers? Yeah, we are horrid compared to that. And our incremental steps forward are intolerably slow. Merely 100x quicker than any other generation.

Compared to ANY other nation or generation or culture that came before or exists today? Please.

It's like the pronoun stuff... shrieking at the least sexist majot language, ever. Anyone raised in ANY other is likely looking at the pronoun fight and are all "what?"

That refusal of perspective is the addiction that feeds sanctimony but ruins the coalition that we need in order to get more done.

duncan cairncross said...

I know its unfashionable to say this but the "Greatest Generation" (Born 1901 to 1924) actually REVERSED a lot of the improvements put in place by their fathers
Its the "Greatest Generation" that reversed most of the New Deal

Its the Generation before them - the ones who were in power in the late 30s and 40s who put the new deal in place
These guys were in their 50s to 70s when they did that and were born in the 1890s

The "Greatest Generation" did the fighting and dying in WW2 - but it was the generation before them that was in charge

The Greatest Generation took their places in the seats of power in the 60s and 70s

Alan Brooks said...

I can’t even talk about immigration with anyone, anymore. “Racist” from the left; “Libtard” from the right. Clowns to the left, jokers to the...
Wrote on Geo. F Will’s page: “YOU deal with it.”
Put the heat on people like him.

duncan cairncross said...


There is "Illegal Immigration" almost always to get a job and money - easy to fix - large fines and jail for the EMPLOYERS - which is what most countries do

Then there is legal immigration - Canada is good at this and the question is always will this person benefit Canada

Then there are Refugees
These ARE a difficult problem - and we make them an even MORE difficult problem by not resourcing the courts and the investigations to make good decisions FAST

Alfred Differ said...


The reversal came right at the end of the 70's and took over the 80's. The sea change that occured with FDR lasted almost 50 years.

It's not unusual in the US for these two generation 'cycles' to happen. They aren't feature cycles as much as they are about parents going along and grandkids not wanting to do what their grandparents thought necessary. I think of it like a two cycle engine. Rebel/Conform.

Consider earlier cycles. FDR's 'rebel' would be relative to something that happened right around 1880 in the US. The number isn't perfectly 50, though. Closer to 'two generations'.

duncan cairncross said...


The graphs like this one showing the reversal

Show a noticeable change in 1970 - I tend to think the actual changes that became visible in 1970 must have started before then

In 1970 the Greatest Generation were between 46 and 69
In 1980 between 56 and 79
In 1990 between 66 and 89

IMHO it was the Greatest Generation that was in control when the reversal happened

The "Silent Generation" did NOT reverse the change when they took over

Boomers 1945 - 1964
In 2000 we were from 36 to 55 years old
In 2010 we were from 46 to 65 years old
In 2020 we were from 56 to 75 years old
In 2030 we will be from 66 to 85 years old

With the way power and age go together I would say that the Boomers have only been in power since about 2015 - and we will probably still be in power until 2035

DP said...

Worst form of government:

Man: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Best form of government:

Woman: I didn't know we 'ad a king! I thought we were autonomous collective.
Man: (mad) You're fooling yourself! We're living in a dictatorship! A
self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes--
Woman: There you go, bringing class into it again...
Man: That's what it's all about! If only people would--
Arthur: Please, *please*, good people, I am in haste! WHO lives in that
Woman: No one lives there.
Arthur: Then who is your lord?
Woman: We don't have a lord!
Arthur: (spurised) What??
Man: I *told* you! We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune! We're taking
turns to act as a sort of executive-officer-for-the-week--
Arthur: (uninterested) Yes...
Man: But all the decisions *of* that officer 'ave to be ratified at a
special bi-weekly meeting--
Arthur: (perturbed) Yes I see!
Man: By a simple majority, in the case of purely internal affairs--
Arthur: (mad) Be quiet!
Man: But by a two-thirds majority, in the case of more major--
Arthur: (very angry) BE QUIET! I *order* you to be quiet!

Alfred Differ said...


The Reagan era change was political and precipitated by that stagnation. You are looking at the cause. I'm pointing to when the effect finally arrived.

There's a whole lot of ink spilled analyzing that era trying to explain stagflation. Some of it might even be good. Doesn't matter when it comes to politics, though, because the perception of pain eventually leads to upheaval. Reagan's era was the upheaval resulting from disillusionment with 'state controlled' futures.

Whether the changes that landed in the 80's actually fixed anything resulted in another torrent of ink being spilled. Some of it might even be good.


If the two generation cycle is roughly correct, the 2020's will be the new 1970's. So... what pain are we experiencing right now? Which disillusionment will cause upheaval? It should already be happening.

Larry Hart said...

Alan Brooks:

They generally care about their descendants, but what happens to their descendants after Gramps and Daddy are gone is not necessarily always their main priority—although it is a major priority.

Is it accurate to say that they care about their descendants perpetuating their worldview into the future? It seems to me that they care about their kids until the kids question their white supremacist axioms and become tolerant of others, at which point the kids are dead to them.

Alan Brooks said...

You might be right, and it is en-Couraging. Over the decades, white descendants could become more tolerant of Hispanics, and with the numbers of Hispanics, they might eventually have to be—as Hispanics like to have offspring.
Every time I visit CB, am pumped up with adrenaline.

Larry Hart said...

comic relief

As an aside, we will now drop the Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) notation since she is that no more. Chris Weigant observed that since she is now an Independent Senator, maybe Sen. Krysten Sinema (IS-AZ) would be better. But on second thought, that doesn't seem right at all. Also using two characters for the party violates the convention, but maybe there is a way to combine "I" and "S" into one symbol. He humbly suggested Sen. Krysten Sinema ($-AZ), which perhaps sums up the situation adequately.

scidata said...

Yesterday I watched (on TV) the crush of Bethlehem pilgrims lining up to kiss stones and touch floors. Today I read about the sparse enthusiasm for preserving the Monmouth Horn Antenna:

But it doesn't bother me. The living and vibrant Big Bang questions encourage me. That's the essence of science. Bell Labs is the holiest site in NJ for me, and I'd never be tempted to kiss its stones or touch its floors.

Unknown said...

my WaPo feed = "Scientists hit a key milestone in the quest to create abundant zero-carbon power through nuclear fusion. But they still have a long way to go."

Of course, my inner satirist is now thinking, "Great! Now fusion power will be indefinitely 10 years off rather than 20!"


Larry Hart said...


"Great! Now fusion power will be indefinitely 10 years off rather than 20!"

If Trump was still president, it would be indefinitely 2 weeks off.

Robert said...

So the Foxite boob is going after Anne Appelbaum? At least that brings her to the attention of anyone reading this blog who isn't already familiar with. She's one of the best writers on Eastern Europe around, as well as on the crisis in democracy worldwide - highly recommended.

From the last post, our host made it pretty clear how pathetic Heinrich XIII's claim was, even on feudal terms. His support from the old nobility looks to be zero. Most of them are doing fine in the middle class and not looking back.

FDR had the solid support of a big majority, but the other third hated his guts. For example, I knew I could never mention him to any of my grandparents or their friends. What is true, however, is that almost any leading Republican of FDR's day would be now be denounced as a RINO and run out of the Zombie Elephant Party.

Bob Pfeiffer

Robert said...

The first sentence in my post should end "who isn't already familiar with her. Sorry about that.

Bob Pfeiffer.

David Brin said...

"Great! Now fusion power will be indefinitely 10 years off rather than 20!"

The toughest part is transforming net energy into useful heat converters to generate electrocity, without messing up the fusion reactor itself. And without neutron embrittlement of the casing.

One good thing about these pellt inertial confinement systems is there's a path to them being rockets.

David Brin said...

A fascinating read that I dare not comment on except to say we have a long road ahead, both apart and together:

Larry Hart said...

Bob Pfeiffer:

For example, I knew I could never mention him [FDR] to any of my grandparents or their friends.

For most of my young adult life, I thought that FDR and the New Deal had been universally applauded. My brother--now a history teacher--clued me in to a 1930s-era joke whose punchline is "When the sonuvabitch I'm looking for dies, it'll be on the front page."

I've since also learned that in the run-up to the 1936 election, the Chicago Tribune had their phone operators greet callers with, "(fill in the blank) days left to save the republic." And they didn't mean by voting for FDR.

DP said...

RE: Today's nuclear fusion "holy grail breakthrough" announcement.

Here is a video that throws cold water on any thought of having fusion by 2040. Its a nice look at the boring logistical stuff starry-eyed dreamers don't think about. (why we won't have fusion power by 2040)

Just the time/cost needed to build any major infrastructure project, let alone a completely untried new energy source, is measured in decades (just try getting a fission nuclear plant built these days).

And this just one on the hundreds of technical breakthroughs to make fusion possible in the first place: (the problem with fusion)

"Nuclear fusion is the power of the future - and always will be."

Which is a damned shame.

Because with nuclear fusion we could:

Have a nearly infinite source of clean energy.
Use it as a torch to break down and destroy any and all pollutants into their constituent atoms, cleaning up our industrial and hazardous waste.
Allow us to grow all of our food indoors with cheap lighting, allowing farm land to return to nature and restore biodiversity.
Terraform entire planets easily, and comfortably colonize the solar system out to the Kuiper Belt.
Power starships that could travel a significant fraction of the speed of light. (the impact of nuclear fusion) (fusion power) (fusion propulsion)

P.S. Isaac Arthur's videos are amazing.

DP said...

And here is a great video on tritium fuel losses, the structural damage caused by continuous neutron bombardment, and other technical stumbling blocks to nuclear fusion. (what no one else is telling you about nuclear fusion).

You want a simple and inexpensive fusion reactor?

Dig a hole a few miles deep into solid bedrock far away from any fault lines or facture zones.

Drop a small fusion warhead down the hole.

Detonate is when it hits the bottom.

This will create a more or less round chamber with super heated walls that will stay hot for a very long time.

Pump the chamber full of water and pump the now super heated water to a heat exchanger at the surface.

Use the steam from the heat exchanger to flash steam water to run a turbine and then send the now cool water from the chamber back down the hole to be reheated.

Generate electricity.

Keep the chamber hot by dropping nuclear fusion charges down the hole at regular intervals.

Voila! Cheap and simple nuclear fusion.

David Brin said...

Can do something similar just by drilling geothermal

DP said...

A commercial molten salt Thorium reactor could be developed at something like 1% of the cost of a commercial fusion reactor, so it is amazing that the latter is fully funded while the former is not.

DP said...

But if you extract geothermal heat from hot rock faster than the mantle can reheat it, the geothermal hole will go cold.

Repeatedly dropping nukes down the hole makes sure this never happens.

And its scalable.

(He said tongue firmly planted in cheek)

DP said...

Since the majority of the Earth's geothermal heat is created by the decay of uranium isotopes, can geothermal be considered a form of fission power?

DP said...

"One good thing about these pellet inertial confinement systems is there's a path to them being rockets."

In this application the inability to confine the plasma isn't a bug, it's a feature.

We just have to be able to direct the escaping plasma in the right direction to create thrust for the space craft.

scidata said...

The possibility of Dyson spheres/rings seems to imply that fusion ain't that simple. The best source of fusion power is a star.

Alfred Differ said...

1. Fusion of any kind as a source of commercial power is still Unobtanium.

2. Fusion producing power is likely Notyetium*. Just barely.


I'm all for tech that feeds our steam engines with heat that leads to fewer unpleasant consequences. I don't really care what form the heat generators take as long as consequences can be managed/mitigated.

However, I think it is a mistake to get hooked on any single tech process and pin our civilization's future on it. We can safely do that as individuals seeking innovations IF we are actually 'bending metal' as the engineers do. As a whole, though, we should be playing all bets on the table including ones that lead to mitigations of consequences for fuels we'd rather not use.


locumranch said...

All of the professionals who Tucker Carlson derides as "snobs" are literally that, person(s) of the ordinary or lower classes who were born "sans noblesse", in the sense that the designation 'sans noblesse' was often abbreviated as "s nob", as the author of 'The 4th Vocation of George Gustaf' doubtlessly knows.

It's called Selective Breeding, what the the old aristocratic nobles had & what the modern snobs desire, and it is a failed experiment which still has many adherents.

These adherents dream of becoming the Übermensch, the Uplifted, the X-Men & Genetically Superior Dauphins (sic), even though the historical legacy of nobility is one of imbeciles & hemophiliacs and its current legacy includes an embarrassing royalist coup in Germany, a Smart People Caste of would-be rulers & the tremulously inbred Sam Bankman-Fried monstrosity.

Snobs like these can make no claim upon Divine Right as there is no 'divine' there, no matter how many times they selectively breed their genetically concordant sisters, and they can neither lead nor command obedience because of their ignobility.

Divinity is what these snobs desire. They desire the divine and they wish to become as gods. As in Kipling, these are men who would be Kings, while courting the identical & ironic outcome.


Since 1989 and the U of U Fleischmann–Pons Fraud, fusion leaves me COLD. It's a fool-me-once situation & proof-positive of ignobility. Heads will roll if this is yet another calculated deception. Think of what comes next as natural selection.

DP said...

"It's called Selective Breeding, what the the old aristocratic nobles had"

What the old aristocratic nobles had was in-breeding (check out the Spanish Hapsburgs, the wide spread occurrence of hemophilia in royal families (like the Tsar's son) or the current British Royal family.

Don Gisselbeck said...

"Halp,halp, in being repressed."
Monty Python had a unique ability to punch up and down.

David Brin said...

Step up with wager stakes over the breeding patterns of olde aristos vs. say scientists locum. Or openness to participation by all races and backgrounds. All you can do is describe your own corrupt 'side' and then relabel the players: "See? You snobs are corrupt like us!"

Um, no we're not like you. That's the point and one key to our success."

Unknown said...

DP :

"...can geothermal be considered a form of fission power?"

Only if my fireplace can be considered a solar-powered heat generator.


Alan Brooks said...

LoCum has posited a positive value to Exceptionalism that doesn’t necessarily exist. Could be neutral-negative.
America was isolationist until ‘41; in ‘45 it was the colossus best riding the world, but it’s not as if FDR was clairvoyant.
Exceptionalism can simply be one-off. Ed Gein and Jeff Dahmer were Exceptional gastronomers. LoCum is an Exceptional blogger at CB; he set himself up for it—no one asked him to.

Unknown said...

You know, the "Divine Right of Kings" seems to be being applied to Trump as the Anointed One...but that is another tape. The Christofascists don't care that God has chosen a skeezy failed New York real estate businessconman kept afloat by Russian Mob money. I'm reminded of the comment about James I/James VI that James' reign went far to disproving his own pet theory that God wanted him to be king. And Trump's dynastic heirs appear to be pre-failed.


P.S. Kipling got a mention in the thread. Long ago I asked a girl if she liked Kipling. She replied that she had never Kippled. I was already more than half in love with her, but that line torqued the dial over 10.

Alan Brooks said...

DeSantis is worse than Trump:
America can’t be run on a Christian basis, any more than Perot could’ve run it like a business.

scidata said...

Pappenheimer: that line torqued the dial over 10

We are all one button-push away from total submission.
"Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl."
- Stephen Leacock

Alfred Differ said...

Smart People Caste as selective breeders. Ha, ha!

That's not even close to how it works. Smart people get chased much like pretty girls do. They get caught too.

I'd laugh all day except for one small pain. People who argue smart people don't choose them are just smart enough to realize they can't always have their top preference, but not smart enough to realize that smarts has little to do with priority in our preferences. It's quite possible their top preference is a very poor long term choice.


The U of U cold fusion thing wasn't originally a fraud. It's much better described as a career ending f*^k up. They wanted to believe that quantum tunneling of H between lattice sites in the palladium would work even though the physicists agreed that tunneling probabilities were too low to explain the 'observed' excess helium.

I got to attend one particular seminar on this subject back during the moment. The speaker was a physicist explaining the experiment, his teams version of it (repeatability), along with many variations and his conclusion.

In that one seminar I got to see EXACTLY how science really worked.* The speaker faced an audience of physicists who were somewhere between skeptical and hostile to the U of U conclusions. The speaker laid out descriptions of their equipment, preparation processes, and everything else an experimentalist does. It was a wonderful display of the technique of defense.

When the speaker got around to describing how the palladium was prepared, he explained it had to worked in an inert atmosphere. No oxygen or other reactive gases allowed as that would pollute the palladium lattice. THEN he showed where they got their palladium and the technique used by the manufacturer. Turns out the inert atmosphere used... was pure helium. His team sourced a similar palladium block produced in an argon atmosphere... and got no excess helium in the experiment. EVERY physicist in the room groaned out loud and a few of us grad students who still didn't quite get it DID get how 'career ending' that groan sounded.

It wasn't fraud initially. It was a classic case of wanting to believe what one expected was possible was actually present in the data. Anyone with more skepticism would have tried producing the palladium in an argon environment... exactly as the speaker had done.

I don't recall the speaker's name, but they performed a critical duty that day. They falsified a belief. The other physicists were already mostly hostile to the belief, but with experimental evidence they could justify their own belief in the falseness of the cold fusion result.

Science allows Creation to falsify our beliefs when we have the courage to ask and the smarts to ask an unambiguous question.


* I learned more about how science worked that day than all the other days studying or doing homework problems combined. That day taught me what humans actually DO when we say we do science. That day taught me science was a social thing... and must be.

David Brin said...

Wow Alfred. You been around.

locumranch said...

I stated that the modern snob has already turned to selective breeding between genetically concordant individuals in order to perpetuate those human traits that they deem most desirable, and Dr. Brin has been so kind as to ante up 'wager stakes' over the breeding patterns of olde aristos vs. say scientists.

I accept this wager and raise him one Sam Bankman-Fried, a selectively bred 'smart child' of over-educated smart parents whose ataxia, tremulousness & immorality are most consistent with an inherited genetic neurological illness.

This is especially true among Arab nations where around 40-50% of consanguinity first cousin marriages take place & the risk of having a child affected with an inherited genetic disorder approaches 20%, according to the WHO.

Furthermore, it is an established FACT that smart people prefer to marry & reproduce with other smart people, just as ALL peoples tend to reproduce with people of their own economic, cultural & educational caste, specifically to perpetuate those human traits that they deem most desirable.

Once preferred by the olde aristos but now adopted by science, this attempt to improve human bloodlines through purification, concordance & consanguinity leads only backwards towards genetic bankruptcy, the way forward being hybridization & hybrid vigour, as anyone who understands the biological sciences can tell you.

You & your caste are unique, special & more deserving than every other group in all of history, you keep telling us, just like every other group & every other individual.

We humans are all unique in the sense that we are all the same. We bleed if you prick us; we laugh if you tickle us; we die if you poison us; and we revenge if you wrong us.

We are all the same.


It's the same old circus, Alfred, one overhyped lie after another:
Fusion has ARRIVED, we are told, and it will save us from climate change, some day, maybe, assuming that we give up fossil fuels immediately and consign ourselves to hypothermia & darkness now, lest we anger the Science God & be denied divine technocratic salvation at some yet-to-be determined future time.

Alan Brooks said...

Correction: no evidence Gein was a cannibal.

Tony Fisk said...

At about the same time that all the emotional energy from palladium was being generated, someone else was tinkering with muon fusion (which, in the fifties, had got Alvarez excited for a full fifteen minutes.) Their take was that, if a (tiny) proton-muon pair could be introduced into a hydrogen molecule as a semi-neutron, then *maybe* they could hang around long enough to sustain a reaction.
The idea died, but I've never determined whether it was because of the backlash from the palladium debacle, or whether it really wasn't viable.

lurker below said...

Geothermal doesn't count as fission, unless you did it near current Oklo, South Africa many years ago. It's an aging radiothermal system. See The Martian.

David Brin said...

Jeepers he knows nothing. First you do not make general cases from anecdotes. Second so now tall people are marrying tall people. Like with smart+smart it can have negative health effects but also incur advantages,. Jesus. Advantages 0.000001% as great as oligarchic lords blending giant family empires? THE failure mode for almost every nation in history?

You are and remain an utter dope, sir.

Star_Dragon said...

Regarding Dyson "Spheres"/Swarms(of solar power satellites in solar orbit), we haven't found any for sure yet. One might as well say that the possibility of artificial fusion reactors implies that Dyson Swarms "ain't that simple", or at least far more expensive than the alternative.

Alan Brooks said...

Then how did he get through Med school? Perhaps he’s a doctor of nursing practice, or some other nurse. But let’s be nice to him, he’s smart enough that he’s worth trying to win over.
We need all the allies we can get.

Oger said...

Then how did he get through Med school? Perhaps he’s a doctor of nursing practice, or some other nurse. But let’s be nice to him, he’s smart enough that he’s worth trying to win over.
We need all the allies we can get.

I sometimes say, the problem with physicians is, that in 1946, we did not hang enough of them.

The medical professions and autoritarian systems blend well. Think of Mengele or the psychiatry in the former Warsaw pact.

Alan Brooks said...

Never thought of it that way, will think about it. But I don’t like the idea of executing anyone. An appropriate punishment for Putin, for example, would be to imprison him for nine years—the same sentence his regime metes out frequently (nine yrs sounding less severe than ten).
And while he’s in his cell, his speeches could be played to him via loudspeaker. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

scidata said...

Star_Dragon: Dyson "Spheres"/Swarms... we haven't found any for sure yet

You're right, I thought that too shortly after I posted. I just think stars have such wonderful potential. Fusing pellets is sort of like digging a well next to a lake. Also I've been watching and re-watching the CLARA movie, so I have megastructures on my mind. Of course fusion power should be doable, practice usually trails theory.

One thought though, if fusion propulsion is not that hard, shouldn't Earth space look like the parking lot at Costco?

Unknown said...

Of course, XKCD has a take on the latest fusion news.


Tim H. said...

A fusion drive tech demonstrator might become possible, be interesting to find out if a fuel pellet injector and laser ignition system could be built off-planet, and if those systems could survive first use. Add to that expense the cost of moving the project far enough away that the EMP doesn't trash existing orbital infrastructure*.

*Yes, I'm imagining a somewhat more civilized project ORION.

Tim H. said...

On further thought, if such a drive worked, it'd resemble a weapon entirely too much.

Unknown said...


Yeah, that's been noticed. see Niven's Kzinti Lesson.


Tim H. said...

Point taken. An intra-system drive that wouldn't be s diplomatic crisis looking for a place to happen would seem to involve more interesting shielding and life support issues.

Der Oger said...

But I don’t like the idea of executing anyone.

Me neither. But go on, research how many physicians, diplomats, judges, lawyers, cops and ex-soldiers has been not only allowed to continue to practice their trade after the war, but made a career afterwards.

An appropriate punishment for Putin, for example, would be to imprison him for nine years—the same sentence his regime metes out frequently (nine yrs sounding less severe than ten).
And while he’s in his cell, his speeches could be played to him via loudspeaker. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Or forced labor in an Ukrainian reconstruction camp guarded by soldiers of the LGBT units.

But I doubt that he will ever enjoy the privilege of a lawful trial. He will either die of natural causes, put to the wall like the Romanovs or served polonium tea.

David Brin said...

Primatologist Jane Goodall still believes Donald Trump essentially acts like a male chimpanzee. “They’re upright, they swagger, they project themselves as really more large and aggressive than they may actually be," Goodall said, "in order to intimidate their rivals."

Goodall lamented that Trump's behavior seemed to be contagious and had created tension and division.

David Brin said...

A pellet fusion rocket would not be much of a weapon. The output is still thermal, not coherent (laser) and hence spreads out when beyond the nozzle.

The biggest problem with these fusion systems - even worse for tokomaks - is getting the produced heat out and into a steam generator without ruining containment or getting neutron embrittlement.

David Brin said...

Interesting re Putin's plummeting missile stocks.

Ive been following a talented artist cartoonist named Branco who poor locumranch would love! Go over and wallow, fellah! Say I sent you.

It's fascinating to see the increasingly frantic efforts to edge the MAGAs into outright Putin worship. And Kremlin-worshippers actually swallow the bait, hook and line that Putin and his throng of 'ex'-commissars... all of whom grew up reciting Stalinist chants daily... are now your pals because they changed a few symbols!
Using all the same staff and methods and goals, they changed the NAME of the KGB and you dopes swallow it. Czars instead of commissars. Riiiiight.

Darrell E said...

I think the biggest problem with laser ignition fusion schemes right now is the lasers. Currently the lasers are so large you need a "building the size of three U.S. football fields" to house them. And it isn't like we haven't been working on lasers until just recently. Chemical lasers are extremely hazardous and electric lasers take enormous amounts of electricity, and are inefficient to boot.

For example, this breakthrough event achieved a gain of just over 1.5, meaning the fusion reaction that was initiated produced just over 1.5 times the amount of energy it took to initiate it. They hit the target fuel pellet with 2.05 MJ and the reaction produced 3.15 MJ. And that is good, but it doesn't mean what most people reading all the articles about it think. That 1.5+ gain is with respect to the amount of energy the lasers hit the target fuel pellet with, not the amount of energy it took to produce those laser beams. It took 322 MJ to power the lasers for that one shot.

That might sound like cheating, but it's not. A gain greater than one with respect to the amount of energy applied to the fuel, rather than the total amount of energy for the whole machine, is an important metric in the science of fusion. It's the metric that all the scientists working in fusion have been hoping to reach because it means that ignition has been achieved, a self sustaining reaction, meaning that the energy the reaction is producing is enough to heat the fuel faster than other things can cool it down to below that needed for fusion to continue. That's a first, and it's important. But unfortunately it doesn't mean they are close to the type of gain important for commercial energy production, output / total input.

Getting back on point, lasers for laser ignition fusion aren't going to be scaled down to sizes feasible for putting in a space ship for a loooooonnnnggg time. To add insult to injury, those 3 football fields worth of lasers that it took to make this ground breaking shot? Their rate of fire is at least 2 orders of magnitude too slow to be feasible for any kind of useful power production, let alone commercial scale.

If I had to make a bet today on what type of fusion device will be the first to be used for spaceship propulsion, I would not bet on laser ignition fusion.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Primatologist Jane Goodall still believes Donald Trump essentially acts like a male chimpanzee. “

This was painfully obvious at that second debate with Hillary when he followed her around like a gorilla. The sad thing is that the moderators allowed it, and that it seemed to be winning strategy.

(I still think Hillary would have scored some points and made him look stupid if she had had the wherewithal to say, "Would somebody please get this big walking carpet out of my way?")

Star_Dragon said...

Scidata: I actually agree that stars and Dyson Swarms have quite a bit of potential, even if fusion becomes viable. Dyson Swarmsats have the advantages of scaling down better and being lower-tech and lower maintenance than pretty much any conceivable artificial fusion reactor, and should be able to provide blackstart power to an interplanetary power grid. It's just that, even if we disassemble all the planets and asteroids and such in the Solar System for building material, we're still going to have to do quite a bit of thermonuclear transmutation to get the rest of the 'metal'(not hydrogen, not helium) to make a full Dyson Swarm. If we can do that much fusion in a reasonable timeframe, well, that's our power source right there.

As for the Solar System not resembling a Costco parking lot, fusion not being viable doesn't change the fact that it should, as fission is definitely viable for a slow enough starship, solar sails and light sails should work, antimatter, while quite inefficient, is still good enough for interstellar seed colonization, and maybe even chemical rocketry could do the job, with seed probes at Voyager II speeds. We know that some of the assumptions going into the Drake Equation are wrong, we just don't know if the Great Filter is behind us, as in the Rare Earth Hypothesis, or ahead of us, any and all of the possible ends and permanent stagnations for civilizations on Earth.

A.F. Rey said...

(I still think Hillary would have scored some points and made him look stupid if she had had the wherewithal to say, "Would somebody please get this big walking carpet out of my way?")

I would have been satisfied if she had simply told him, "The bathroom's over there." :D

Larry Hart said...

A.F Rey

I would have been satisfied if she had simply told him, "The bathroom's over there." :D

I kinda liked the people who called into rape hotlines claiming that they were watching a man threatening a woman on national television.

David Brin said...

Predictions for here only:

accident on the Trans Siberian railway prevents arrival of NorKorean artillery shells en masse.

and Helicopters flying in fog. Formerly THE time they couldn't fly into battle. Now THE ONLY time when they can. If the tech is right

And I would not want to serve on the protection detail of either Vlad or his former asset.

Alfred Differ said...


It's the same old circus…

You are paying too much attention to the regular media. They make money selling circus admissions.

Read the journals. Much less hype. I'm sure you know this lesson from medical research, though. They aren't perfect (nothing is) but they don't make their money selling circus admissions. Many of them survive by propagating snobbery. 8)


Smart people choosing other smart people for mates has been going on since before we were human. I suspect that is a hominid thing (meaning all of us) but comes and goes in terms of priority. Anyway… it dates WAY back.

As anecdotal evidence, my father told me his father's marriage advice to him could be paraphrased as follows.

***Find a woman who's smarter than you, marry her, and do as she says. The first two are easy.***

My father told me much the same making it obvious he was only half joking. Thing is… his family was a pretty good match for the kind of people you'll find in SW Pennsylvania today. They mined coal and emigrated from Scotland. These are not people typically thought of as 'smart people' because they weren't accepted into any of the elites known at the time. (My mother's background is from much lower in the social strata.)

Actually smart people are found pretty much everywhere in every social class. And yes… some of us select for mates on intelligence. If you pick any particular strata you might find a selection effect underway, but not enough of one to bring intelligence below the average in any statistically meaningful sense.

Alfred Differ said...


Yah. I was a grad student (for too long) during the 80's at UCD.

They never explained why they wanted us to take seminar classes and we all knew we couldn't follow more than the first 30 seconds of many of them. EVENTUALLY I got it, though.

1. Most professors couldn't follow more than the first 5 minutes, so my task was to read ahead a little bit by looking up the speaker's topic in advance.

2. What was really on display were the social processes and structure of the community. Knowing those was more important than following the speaker. It made all the difference later in understanding the purpose of conferences in establishing professional relationships.

I wrote my dissertation in '90, did some part-time teaching, and got out of academia completely in '95. I still love teaching, but I have a profound dislike for being as poor as I was. 8)

ozajh said...

Regarding Hillary Clinton at the debate, I wish she had had a can of anti-stalker spray and used it after a first warning.

David Brin said...

Alfred I got a lot of education eating lunch at the back of diverse departmental seminars. A habit acquired at CIT

While working on my masters in EE/optics at UCSD I attended... and regularly bugged with questions... the seminars hosted by Hannes Alfvén... who after a year or so asked, 'who the hell ARE you and do you want a full paid PhD track position?"

To this day I deem asking questions to be my foremost discernible talent. But it is also a learned skill and I always tell undergrads to do it.

In Shenzhen I said it in a talk to a few hundred of their brightest... who looked at me horrified, as if I had asked them to punch a dragon. I left there confident we'll be okay...

...tile Fox's hate campaign toward all questioning professions took full gear.

Alfred Differ said...

Tony Fisk,

Thank you. I hadn't paid enough attention to the subject to realize the muon catalyzed fusion concept was the parent concept. After the 'career threatening' groan in that seminar, I stayed far away from the subject. Your post got me to look, though, since I have no career to kill in doing so. 8)

The idea died (mostly) because the numbers don't work well. That muonic catalyzed fusion exists isn't in question. Problems with the decay rate for muons and loss rate of the catalyst (those same muons) make it unlikely we get to break even energy production.

1. Muons decay fast, so we'd need a cheap source for generating them.
2. Muons stick to some of the fusion products (He-3 and He-4) effectively ending their involvement in fusion since they'll decay before causing another fusion reaction.

A. Getting muons to displace electrons in hydrogen is a low probability event, hence #1
B. The most energetic fusion reactions involve the rarest versions of hydrogen. (D-T reactions)


The palladium experiment can be thought of as a variation on an intent. Muonic hydrogen is physically smaller allowing a shielded proton to get close enough to another one for tunneling probabilities to rise high enough to get fusion. They thought the palladium lattice trapped hydrogen in the slots and no muon was needed because no proton shielding was needed. The palladium lattice effectively shielded protons.

Problem is… if you work out the numbers the fusion rate depends a great deal on lattice spacing. Tunneling probabilities were very tiny.

To make matters worse…getting the helium production they thought they saw should have killed them. Neutron and gamma ray fluxes associated with that much helium should have killed people nearby and left obvious forensic signs. The fact they survived to write papers at all was enough to make most of us skeptical. They argued for neutron-free reactions, but those are pretty rare.

THEN we heard the palladium was produced in a helium environment which would have trapped some He-4 in the lattice right from the start. Slow outgassing of the helium was a much better explanation for the observed 'excess' than quantum tunneling that should have killed the researchers.


In a nutshell… the numbers don't work AND well performed experiments show this. There are still interesting engineering problems to consider, though, and MAYBE someone else will think of a cute trick to shield protons. Don't bet on it, though. It's the worst kind of unobtanium possible. We CAN think of good reasons why it isn't possible.

locumranch said...

First you do not make general cases from anecdotes. Second so now tall people are marrying tall people. Like with smart+smart it can have negative health effects but also incur advantages...

Note that Dr. Brin does not deny my assertion that the modern smart snob has adopted ye olde aristo preference for selective breeding. He actually defends it!

It is therefore both fitting & ironic that I am to be condemned as 'an utter dope' for broaching this subject, perhaps too hesitantly, as the Sam Bankman-Fried example (genotype 'Ashkenazi') is a general case presented as an anecdote, rather than an anecdote presented as a general case.

To whit, "About 1 out of 4 people of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage is a carrier of one of these genetic conditions, most commonly of Gaucher disease, cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, familial dysautonomia, or Canavan disease.".,familial%20dysautonomia%2C%20or%20Canavan%20disease.

These are some of the "negative heath effects' mentioned by Dr. Brin (above), the implication being that further selective inbreeding amongst Ashkenazis will eventually increase their genetic error rate to such an extent as to render their genotype non-viable.

The "advantages" that Dr. Brin mentioned (also above) likewise exist, as "Ashkenazi Jews, who make up 80 percent of the Jews in the world today, have, on average, the highest IQs of any ethnic group (measuring) 115 on an IQ test, eight points higher than Asians and (35 points higher than) the world average of 79.1".

Multiple studies confirm these findings, including Cochran who argues (soberingly) that these modest IQ gains appear proportional to the prevalence of genetic disease, a finding obfuscated by academia's insistence that results like these are somehow hurtful, discriminatory, racist & antisemitic.

Other studies document a direct link (the NDST3 gene) between the Ashkenazi bloodline & Schizophrenia but (as of yet) the official verdict on the link between the Ashkenazi bloodline & Autism is still out, even though it is well-documented that autism is inherited in a way that siblings have a 20X higher relative disease risk over that of the general population.

Suffice it to say that a vast array of negative consequences await the so-called 'Smart Person' who knowingly engages in selective inbreeding, so much so that this practice gives us yet another potential solution to the Fermi Paradox:

Genetic Bankruptcy.


@Alfred: There's more overlap here than random chance as I also attended UCD in the 80's, sent my girl there during Covid, too, which was a huge disappointment for her & the final death knell for a converged U Cal system.

Alfred Differ said...


I got my intuition from physics labs. I helped teach them when I was very much a beginner and got my hands on all the equipment without having to fret about generating gradable papers.

At UCD, I never quite found the courage to ask those important questions until very late. Those were my best years doing research, though, so I completely agree about that skill being necessary. I wound up taking that experience outside academia and it serves just as well.

While I didn't have the courage early, I did notice it with some of my students later… and absolutely loved it.

1. How DO we know that?
2. Why THIS instead of THAT?
3. How would we know if we're WRONG?


Heh. The very few times I worked up the courage as a kid had an impact, though. I asked my HS geometry teacher WHY that next step instead of another. [He was working a two column proof on the board.] He looked at me exasperated and said


"Ah ha!" I thought. [Internally of course.] It's just a big game. Anything that works is a solution!

Heh. Saved my bacon in grad school when looking at problems with no known solutions.

Alfred Differ said...


Ha! Well... if you took any physics classes during your pre-med time, there is a chance we bumped into each other. Or worse... you may have bumped into some of my friends who taught the PHY 5 series.

I was officially there between '83 and '91, but almost invisible to students after '87. I mostly taught astronomy labs.

I did experience to joy of making EE majors suffer through my upper division E&M theory class one spring ('89 I think) when their regular professor demanded his sabbatical and the EE dept had no replacement. They went to the physics dept and asked for help... and all they could dredge up was me. I AM the only one who learned much from that class. [I purposely didn't remind anyone that I had essentially flunked grad-level E&M. I needed the $.]

Alfred Differ said...

Autism is likely a hodgepodge of impacts that are only partially about genetics. Parental genes might create a vulnerability risk (there is evidence for this) but are less likely to be a causal risk (evidence is scattered) if only because genetic defects once found tend to get their own disorder names.

My strong suspicion is that autism is the result of damage done to the fetal nervous system when the mother's immune system activates. Much of the damage done is specific and gets distinct disorder names, but there is a miscellaneous category involving broad damage that isn't obvious for the first year or so after birth. That miscellany would contain all the harms we can't quite pin to specific causes or specific injuries… yet. With time, specific disorders are split into specific diagnoses and the miscellany category shrinks a bit.

My strong suspicion is 'autism' is the miscellany category that researchers sift through finding bits and pieces of order to which they give names. Some of those bits might have genetic causes (e.g. Fragile X) and some might have genetic vulnerabilities leaving a child exposed to an environmental risk that might or might not happen.


My son has an autism diagnosis and is considered moderate to severe. Thing is… I've met lots of kids with the diagnosis and their behaviors are wildly different. Some of that might be the result of upbringing because parents who learn to cope quickly make a HUGE difference in the quality of life of their children. I don't think that's everything, though. On anecdotal evidence alone, I think the injuries are different because responses to therapies vary A LOT. The kicker, though, is that few girls get it relative to boys and when they do… it can be amazingly bad for them. Girls brains ARE different which strongly suggests they have a robustness our boys don't.


The observed fact that siblings of autistic children are much more likely to be autistic themselves need not require a causal genetic explanation. If a mother's immune response can damage one fetus… why not the next one? A fetus with a 'robust design' would be less at risk, no? Dig deeper into the stats and you'll see that most of the risk faced by siblings is for future brothers. It's still a risk for future sisters, but much less so.

If I had to bet a lot of money on it, I'd pick an epigenetic cause linking material immune responses to fetal development. Exactly what damage occurs would range across all the genetic and epigenetic possibilities for the fetus, but also include crude tissue damage if the immune responses are strong enough.


I used to be less opinionated on causes, but in 2013 my own immune system almost killed me. My youngest sister's succeeded in killing her. I have a bone to pick with some of my dead ancestors, hmm?

Maybe. It's also true that I've lived a life largely free of parasites and they did not. What the heck is my immune system to do in a world where my community washes away the filth we used to live in up to our eyeballs? Well… if my sister and I are examples… we find something else to attack. Oops! That was a vital organ.

scidata said...

Immune systems are at the core of so much, from personal to species health, to evolution, to economics, to AI, Fermi, and even psychohistory (I mentioned them in 2011).

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I have a bone to pick with some of my dead ancestors, hmm?

I wasn't aware of my wife's food allergies and gall bladder issues until we had already reproduced. And neither of us was aware of the dementia which showed itself on both sides of the family, again well after we had reproduced. I love my wife and daughter dearly, but had I known then what I know now...I guess sometimes it's just better not to know.

What the heck is my immune system to do in a world where my community washes away the filth we used to live in up to our eyeballs? Well… if my sister and I are examples… we find something else to attack. Oops! That was a vital organ.

Y'know, that's a cogent metaphor for how fascism must eventually work. What happens after they've killed or removed all of the Jews, gypsies, slavs, gays, and intellectuals? "We find something else to attack," indeed.

Paradoctor said...

Larry Hart:

“Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

David Brin said...

Whoa. This is why I still quick-skim locum. This time there was some interesting infodump...

...and yet, so?

Tall people breed and we get great new basketball players... plus some unfortunate siblings with teen arthritis.

Smart people breed and we get (alas) a high fraction of autism... and a lot of brilliant new people to solve problems. At least we get something at real cost.

Rich lordly feudal families interbreed and you get inbred "lines' of raving imbeciles like Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm who threw the 20th century into hell... and you get other disasters all across that wretched experiment called 'history.'

If the smart people effect causes problems, SMART PEOPLE WILL DENOUNCE IT, because scientists are the most competitive creatures ever built. And likely they will solve it.

OTOH lordly owner-caste inheritance brats ALWAYS surround themselves with flatterers and plot to turn us all into serfs.

And everything locum says is aimed at being a servile lackey of that failed model, hoping they'll toss him some scraps from the table. Good boy.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

loc never struck me as trying to gain scraps of favor from Republicans.

He sounds more like the Cuffy Meigs character in Atlas Shrugged. When the mobsters who were taking over the country realized that John Galt and his ilk could be of use to them, Meigs offered Galt the same sort of privileges for the industrialist "gang" that the mob offered to other useful cronies. He literally could not understand that Galt, Hank Rearden, and Francisco D'Anconia did not operate the way that a criminal gang was motivated.

That seems to be loc's point--time after time he invokes flawed examples in order to prove that scientists, engineers, and intellectuals of any sort are just one more "elite" demanding obeisance and privilege. More than anything else, he's J. Jonah Jameson, who has to tear down Spider-Man because he (Jameson) can never be the hero that he'd like to believe he is, and that Spider-Man really is.

Alan Brooks said...

This ruined dinner tonight:

duncan cairncross said...

Alan Brooks

That assumed that a poor country with poor infrastructure (Russia) could somehow overwhelm the NATO industry from a collection of states with over 20 times the GDP

Not going to happen - especially as Russia is not only poor but also massively inefficient

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Thing is... if locumranch got into UCD back in the 80's, he's actually one of the smart people. I remember their admission standards. Not everyone made it, but they wouldn't let you in if they thought that likely. That campus was crawling with smart people of all political stripes.


cogent metaphor

If people actually paid attention to how their immune system worked, they'd be amazed daily that they are alive at all.

I occasionally catch an ad that talks about boosting one's immune system with such and such vitamin. No thanks! I'm glad mine functions well enough, but last time it glitched it thought the inner lining of my blood vessels were foreign material. BE FREE little RBC's! Roam without constraint!


Our host has used the immune system metaphor for people who point at particular dangers so the rest of us can decide whether to respond or not. I think it is the most important gain to be had with transparency. We won't always agree to react... and shouldn't due to the danger of destroying necessary tissue... but it's really the only way to deal with rot. We just have to be wise about what we call rot.

Tony Fisk said...

@alfred thanks for doing the catch-up on the muon capture experiments (which were an extension on the original thoughts about muons in the fifties): my interest was piqued by an article by Rafelski an Jones in Scientific American, July 1987. I didn't hear anything more, and was curious as what had transpired ('alpha sticking', it seems)

Unknown said...


I may have mentioned before that my eldest son is high-functioning autistic. He got the Asberger's diagnosis before that name was dropped. He can function well within a narrow lane, but he doesn't really get other people. He's also managed to expand that lane somewhat, but he will never be "normal".

I had a theory that the increase in autism diagnoses may be at least partly caused by smart women having more freedom to marry who they want (often smart guys), and an increase in social and physical mobility allowing smarter people to meet. Remember me and my Kipling girl? I didn't marry her, but it was a near-run thing, ruined mostly by my social immaturity at the time. Pretty sure I'm on the spectrum somewhere. Last time we emailed, over two decades ago, she had found someone smarter than she is and married him.


Unknown said...

I mean, she literally said she had met someone who could beat her at chess and was marrying him.


Que sera, sera, dammit

Tony Fisk said...

@Pappenheimer, I am now imagining your old flame introducing her spouse by mischieviously saying: "... and this is my husband, who beats me regularly."

Alfred Differ said...


Ha! The woman I married wouldn't play chess with me, but she repeatedly whipped me at Scrabble. I came back for more... of course. Each night at the coffee shop I tried to work out how I might not lose so embarrassingly. Close the gap at least. 8)

I got a little help from the shop owner in securing her interest. I was part of the bachelor herd of game players there most nights. Of course we ALL paid attention when she came in after work. The owner quietly pointed in my direction when none of us bachelors were in a position to notice. So... it's not just smart people looking for smart people. Some smart people want that pairing for others too.


Asperger's (before it was renamed) is an excellent example of the miscellany category being worked over for patterns and then diagnoses changed. I know a few high functioning adults who had that old diagnosis and have even worked with some of them. That narrow lane is definitely there, but once us neurotypicals know it is... we can manage.

I love the Kipling story, though. 8)

Alan Brooks said...

Nucular combat toe-to-toe with the Russkies.

Larry Hart said...

The national average price of a gallon of gas, which is apparently the index that regular people pay attention to, is down to $3.18. That compares to $3.74 a month ago and $3.31 a year ago. We wonder if people are still putting those Joe Biden "I Did That" stickers on gas station pumps, now that fuel is cheaper than it was this time last year.

I'd bet "no". But I sure wish I had saved a bunch of these stickers to vandalize gas pumps with myself.

Unknown said...


re: Scrabble et al.

I have a horror story to report about that sort of sorting. I met a couple (Army junior officer, Army wife) while on active duty because the guy played Dungeons and Dragons. Came over early one afternoon for the game, when it was just her and me, and she confided she had played D&D in high school just to meet guys like him - but stopped playing once they married. He'd thought he was getting a lifelong co-player! Quelle horreur!

She also confided she had lost sleep the night before because he'd been up until God-o-clock in the morning playing Bard's Tale and woke her up by running into their bedroom, jumping up on the bed, and announcing loudly, "I got to lay the Princess! I got to lay the Princess!". So perhaps some karma was returned.

I mean, she was REALLY cute, even considering the fact I was in Panama for about a year without my own spouse. Look, dude, sir, the Princess is RIGHT THERE.


P.S. The girl I married does play D&D, and excels in different fields - she should have been a biologist, and regrets not taking the free ride the Navy offered her in her youth. My Kipling girl played her harp at the SCA handfasting ceremony, gratis. (Same harp she played at the Flight 93 memorial ceremony in PA)

Tim H. said...

Alan Brooks, I was deeply amused at an air show a few years ago to hear how much Doctor Strangelove dialogue a BUFF pilot knows by heart.

Alfred Differ said...


I LOVE DnD as a table-top game. I played through much of the 80's and only stopped because I'd never get my dissertation written. I get why she (pretty much had to) stop after finding him, though. That game interferes with relationships too.

I usually argue that statistics should be taught in US high schools so kids learn how to spot liars. I've come around to a belief that acting/role playing should be taught too. Being able to slip in and out of character requires one learn a lot about one's own self along with imitatable behaviors of others. Those are social skills lumped under the different types of emotional intelligence. I don't push the idea much, though, because it would probably turn into stuffy Shakespeare in the hands of curriculum writers who had never played DnD.


So you didn't get the Kipling girl... but you got an SCA one instead? Fair enough. I almost married one of them and still have friends among her house. I never referred to them as princesses, though. Too many carried small daggers. Some carried larger axes. West Coast SCA people took it all kinda serious. 8)

Larry Hart said...


I mean, she was REALLY cute, even considering the fact I was in Panama for about a year without my own spouse. Look, dude, sir, the Princess is RIGHT THERE.

And here I was expecting a Harry Chapin "I Wanna Learn a Love Song" story. Don't set me up like that!

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

So you didn't get the Kipling girl... but you got an SCA one instead? Fair enough.

My wife wasn't part of SCA, but I did take her to a wedding of a former classmate who was. The wedding was SCA-themed with costumes and weapons. My wife got into the spirit of the thing, wearing a Robin Hood outfit, complete with a bow and arrow.

The bride's parents looked particularly unamused through the whole thing. Part of that may be because--we found out later--it was a shotgun wedding with progeny already on the way*.

West Coast SCA people took it all kinda serious. 8)

Illinois and Wisconsin ones did too.

* My great-grandmother, born in the 1880s, used to say, "Second babies take nine months. First babies sometimes come sooner."

Alfred Differ said...


When I was very little and still learning about bees, birds, and such I made a comment to my mother noting how I was born March 3 and she was married June 3. Exact, right? She gave me SUCH a look. 8)

It wasn't until many years later that I did the calculation for her birthday.


The SCA guys out here REALLY liked to hit each other. Standard thickness armor was likely to be insufficient. Those flat-top helmets were just asking for it. I thought they were all certifiable, but learned a lot about that gray area between alpha and beta males.

locumranch said...


My favorite UCD physics story relates to my female lab partner, an apparent bimbo who sat down at my bench & put her head on my shoulder before even introducing herself. She was pretty, blonde & intelligent but had serious issues. Our Physics TA (as usual) was a socially awkward male-with-pocket-protector who melted under her very very frequent touches & attentions, transforming physics lab into a year of unrequited torment for him, but child's play for us. I lost touch with her when she left for med school.

Most likely, Autism (whose definition underwent dramatic change in 1994 with the DSM-IV) isn't as multifactorial as we hope & appears closely linked to intellectual ability:

The percentage of high functioning children with ASD was much higher in Jewish than in Bedouin-Arab children (29.6 and 2.6%, respectively). Bedouin-Arab children showed more severe autistic manifestations. Moreover, Bedouin-Arab children were more likely than Jewish children to have additional diagnosis of intellectual disability (14.5 and 6.9%, respectively).

I've attached a few other links most specific for Ashkenazi heritage but often obscured under layers of political correctness & doublespeak:

Best wishes

Heh. DnD, the Society for Creative Anachronism and pocket-protectors. It serves me right because I came here to 'hang out' with the COOL KIDS! Instead, nerds & social outcasts everywhere. Must be why I stay.

Unknown said...


Re: Harry Chapin.

Look, she was wearing a skimpy top and short shorts and sitting next to me, both of us on folding chairs in an otherwise empty house - but she would have had to have physically assaulted me before I got the clue. I said I was on the spectrum, my mind doesn't work that way.

Was she making a pass? Maybe. Considering who she married, it's even likely. But if I'd realized it, and taken her up on her offer, I'd have had to leave the D&D group.


Unknown said...

And yes, I know that contradicts "the Princess is RIGHT THERE."


Larry Hart said...


Re: Harry Chapin.

I really loved the song "I Wanna Learn a Love Song" when I heard it in the 80s. I always suspected it to be autobiographical, but it wasn't until very recently that I learned he actually married the woman that the song was about. :)

Look, she was wearing a skimpy top and short shorts and sitting next to me, both of us on folding chairs in an otherwise empty house - but she would have had to have physically assaulted me before I got the clue. I said I was on the spectrum, my mind doesn't work that way.

I was at my sixth office Christmas party with the company I had my first adult job at. Every year, I had hoped to hook up with one of the many female employees (it was a health care company), and every year I failed to do so. This time was the first time that the woman I would later marry was there as well (we didn't drive there together, but we knew we would be looking for each other). So of course, this time, a drunken floozy in an essentially see-through strapless white dress asks me to dance, and I have to practically hold her upright. This never happens to me except the one time that the woman I really want to meet is right there watching.

I knew at the time that I had a test to pass. I did the right thing, reluctantly leaving the girl of my wet-dreams in a chair so that I could join the girl of my waking dreams and smile sheepishly at her obvious amusement. I passed the test, and I surely can't be disappointed in the outcome, but on any earlier year...sigh!

Unknown said...

I broke my hand heavy fighting at the best SCA wedding I ever attended. Groom (computer science genius) wore black leather and was barefoot, his side of the Orthodox church was all in garb, hers was wealthy Jewish in their best. Paul and Astrid, long may you wave.

Pappenheimer, who has to go off to work

Larry Hart said...

The video of Trump launching his NFT trading card collection is even funnier with Hal Sparks doing a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" take down of it...when he can get a word in rather than laughing to death.

matthew said...

The Trump NFT thing is sold out. ~$5mil worth of JPEGs. The cognizant question to ask is *who* bought them all and which foreign government they were working for.
Also, ownership of the company that produced them is a Proud Boy leadership caste.

It's payola and bribery all the way down.

Tony Fisk said...

My first thought about the NFT card collection was 'Trumpemon'.

All this reminiscing about unrequited youthful romance reminds me of Sean McMullen's 'Mirrorsun' series, and the underlying cause of the 'Call' that periodically drew all mammals into the oceans (unless certain precautions were taken.)

I stopped playing D&D until a couple of years ago, when some old college friends invited me to join a campaign on Roll20.

I'd be more tempted if Jackson got the Fantasy Trip online.

Alfred Differ said...


but child's play for us

Heh. Yah. Well… it happens.

The dept frowned on us dating our students, but the only way we can learn how easily we are manipulated is to experience it. I dated one of mine AFTER the quarter ended when she returned as a lab assistant. Lasted about a year, but we still talk to each other on our birthdays.

Takes a long time for some of us guys to grow up. A lot of women are WAY ahead of us for a long time.

I think you've seen just how 'relevant' physics labs are to practicing doctors and how much more important the GPA was for advancement. We all knew that, but universities like their requirements. I'd say it's a shame, but most of us don't teach actual science in those labs focusing instead on the rote learning of process and dogma. THAT'S a shame because our brief chance to show y'all what science really is gets wasted.


I'm sure autism as it is defined today IS about intellectual ability. What interests me is what causes the damage to intellectual ability. Live with these kids long enough and you see they are wired differently suggesting the possibility of healing around early injuries or non-culling of synapses we neurotypical types wind up not exercising much after birth.

Thank you for the journal entries. I shall sift through them.


My 'outcast' classification was self-inflicted. I got around it by my early 30's and was as much a hunter as the alpha males, but without the desire to go toe-to-toe with them. Stepping around them proved to be pretty easy.


I hope things go better for your daughter. Had I gone to UCD as an undergrad, I likely wouldn't have made it. I had some serious growing up to do at that age and wouldn't have arrived with the necessary drive I needed. I almost didn't make it as a grad either for that same reason. I can't imagine succeeding at all being trapped in quarantine.

Anyway… I hope things get better whatever path she takes.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

The dept frowned on us dating our students, but the only way we can learn how easily we are manipulated is to experience it. I dated one of mine AFTER the quarter ended when she returned as a lab assistant.

My brother and I both engaged in taboo relationships which could have had ugly ramifications had things not gone well. I dated (and later married) a co-worker back in the 90s when such things weren't yet verbotten, but were officially discouraged. We somehow kept it under wraps until she left the company. (We used to make out in the stairwells since everyone used the elevators instead of stairs)

My brother, on the other hand, dated (and later married) his teaching assistant in a class on fantasy literature. That was verbotten during the semester he was actually in her class, but they also somehow managed to keep it secret until she was no longer his teacher.

Both of our marriages have stood the test of time. What's the significance of that?

David Brin said...

I too love the Kipling story. Pappenheimer gbets SEVERAL posts-of-the-day… ;-)

Aspergers shoulda been renamed and not just shoved next to a related but functionally very different problem.
Now we are stuck with “the condition formerly known as Aspergers.” The new techs are already vastly empowering that end of the Spectrum. In EXISTENCE I portray that trend continuing all the way.

My Caltech PhD co-habitator crushes me at Boggle, as does the best looking of our co-projects. (Funny how I am really, really good at Wordle, tho.) And yeah. the smart+smart gamble sometimes has costs.

Be warned guys. The Abe Lincoln set sail from SD several days ago and I do not see any carriers on the harbor view.

Do any of you care to keep similar watch on Bremerton and Norfolk and Pearl and Yokosuka? Report to us when you see NONE of the carriers docked and all are at sea. Make a Costco run then. Fill all tanks with gas.

— ----
Oh our first came 10 months after the wedding. Efficiently done. Harrumpf/

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

And yeah. the smart+smart gamble sometimes has costs.

Now you tell me. Although I wasn't thinking primarily of the reproductive value of a smart wife. I waited for someone I could stand to share time with. When we were first getting serious, I told her something like, "I'd rather be with you than spend time alone." To most normal people, that sounds like an awfully left-handed compliment, but from me, it's actually high praise.

Oh our first came 10 months after the wedding.

What took you so long? :)

Unknown said...

Damn you guys, you made me reach out to my old flame after so many years. She's doing well as a music prof and is mostly happy, kinda healthy and very busy. Sometimes you're afraid to find out what's happened with old friends. She's also joining the SCA after all these years.


Dirtnapninja said...

Western weapon tests?

What the Ukrainians are finding out about western weapons.

They are over expensive.
Over complicated.
maintenance intensive.

Ukrainians are going to find out that the patriot missiles are actually inferior in many respects than what they had, especially since it doesnt integrate with the current Ukrainian SAM and AA net.

Western training?

The Ukrainians are finding out out its:

Very good for small unit tactics.
Not so good for mass mechanised warfare
Too dependent on air power.
Entirely inappropriate for the kind of warfare being conducted in Ukraine right now.

Russia's 'potemkin military'? inflicting 7 to 1 casualties on the Ukrainians, withdrew in flawless good order from Kherson and is conducting high intensity operations on a front that stretches from London to Berlin.

Russia just delivered 200 newly manufactured t-90 tanks to the troops. They are mass producing drones and cruise missiles.

Now massing the equivalent of 10 divisions for a winter campaign.

Ukraines victories? All advances into regions the russians had already withdrawn from. One of those 'victories' cost them several thousand men for minimal russian casualties when the Ukrainians advanced into largely evacuated areas that had been pre-registered by artillery.

This war should have ended in April when Ukraine and Russia had nearly agreed on peace terms, before the psychpaths running washington sent thier british vassal to scupper the deal.

You should watch a smoothiex12, a former staff officer and engineer who can explain the actual logistical situation far better than talking heads at CNN

The 'eastern power' you refer to is going to be putting 100 modern blue water ships into the ocean over the next 10-15 years. do you think they are going to feel daunted at all by the mediocre performance of western weapons and the poor showing of western industry?

Not one bit.

David Brin said...

Dirtnapninja reports to us from Bizarro World. I am sure he wishes everything he said was actually true, instead of diametrically opposite. Alas for him, then.

A Ukrainian general recently said:

"They thought that a small Soviet army must lose to a much bigger Soviet army.

"Tthey were right about that.

"We are not a Soviet Army."



Alan Brooks said...

What were the surrender terms in April?

Dirtnapninja said...

You are deluded one.

You literally havent a clue whats going, esp in the important Bakhmut region, where NATO shills are making Ukraine feed men into a carefully created ww1 style meatgrinder where Russia has a 9-1 artillery advantage.

And keep one thing in mind..even NATO admits Russian artillery is better.

And if they try and retreat there are Azov blocking regiments shooting them.

(as an aside, there was an amusing episode not reported by western media where regular polish infantry in ukrainian uniforms were ordered to make a suicide attack. The polish regulars refused. The Azov goons threatened to shoot the officers if they didnt make the attack. The ensuing firefight resulted in dozens of dead Azov. Turns out regular soldiers arent as easily intimidated as conscripts)

The casualties are so lopsided that the average Ukrainian soldier dies w/o ever seeing a Russian soldier. The main cause of Russian casualties? It isnt bullets. It isnt artillery. Its Ukrainian petal mines. Thats the how lopsided the carnage is. Ukraine is losing an estimated 700 men a day there while the Russians simply lob artillery and thermobaric rockets at them and then occupy the ruins.

And there are still 10+ divisions of men in Russia being organised into operational maneuver groups to be employed once the Russians think the moment is right

This could have ended back in April, but the neo-liberal anti-west decided that Ukrainian lives exist only to serve the interests of the american managerial classes who want to turn Ukraine into American Manchukuo and forced Ukraine to cancel a peace deal.