Saturday, February 04, 2023

Defending those who defend civilization. Did I make things worse?

I'm alternating between postings about science and - well - the crisis of saving civilization from a deeply dangerous/feral world oligarchy, bent on restoring 6000 years of insanely stupid feudalism.  Last week was science, so... this (alas 'tl;dr') political riff tries to make clear what's going on BENEATH the headlines.

I may have (slightly) contributed to nudging the MAGA movement even crazier. (Well, a little). I seem to have done it - in at least a few places - by urging a bigger perspective on the mad right’s all-out war to discredit and demoralize the true enemies of world oligarchy. 

Those enemies are all fact-using professions. Science, medicine, law, journalism, teaching, civil service ... the list of fact-folks under attack by the Mad Right now includes even the intel/FBI/military officer corps who won the Cold War and the War on Terror. 

Take when Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, campaigning for Herschel Walker in Georgia, repeatedly taunted kale-eating “high-IQ stupid people.” Esquire responded to this hypocritical graduate of an elite British university: “Aw, Shucks, Senator Kennedy, Your Hayseed Act Is a Disgrace.”  Yet Esquire missed the core point. When Kennedy and Graham, Cruz, DeSantis, Trump etc. spend so much time railing against universities and educated folks, there’s something truly systematic going on!

Keep score several evenings on Fox. Hatred toward Folks Who Know Stuff – called ‘snobs’ by Tucker & Hannity & Judge Jeanine – spews-forth far more often than their despicable dog whistles for racism & sexism. Go ahead and keep count.  Once you see the pattern, nerd-baiting leaps out everywhere. Yet it’s scarcely-mentioned as a whole, almost anywhere. Certainly, almost never by pundits or pols of the left or middle.

I’m not the one lumping the FBI and intel agencies and military officers together. It is MAGA world doing that, labeling all of them as enemies. See my article: The War on Expertise.

So, two questions: Why are the Foxites and oligarchy-shills doing this? And why is this general theme of hatred toward nerds not more widely denounced by those on the other side? 

== Why they’re doing it ==

Well, for starters, the FBI (just doing their job) now helps grand juries across America to indict – and other juries to convict - a veritable tsunami of corrupt Republicans. The rate is appalling, almost 100x the rate for Democratic politicians or factotums. 

Either tens of thousands of agents, prosecutors, grand-jurors, trial jurors and judges (many of them Bush and Trump appointees) are in on a perfectly coordinated plot, without a single hiccup or leak… or else (and it’s proved) today’s GOP overflows with criminals.

As for those despised intel folks, there’s plenty of reason to believe they have disrupted the plans that Trump/Lavrov/Kisliak/Putin and their cabal of “ex” commissars had for us, back when this photo of utter glee was taken, in their agent’s first days of office. 

I have strong reason to believe our intel folks have been fighting for us, quietly. We’ll never know the full story, of course. But no less a Trumpist than former National Security Advisor John Bolton has said as much, recently. 

Then there’s the military officer corps. U.S. generals and admirals are easily the third best educated clade in American life. You don’t achieve flag rank without the equivalent of a PhD, or three masters degrees. Sure they’ve always given off a conservative vibe, even though the military’s desegregation in 1947 was the one biggest, most irreversible step toward the justice path. So what’s their crime, according to MAGAdom? 

They dare to answer Foxite anti-fact yammers and incantations with a lethal phrase: “Sir, that is simply untrue.”

Oh, the shills try not to pour hate on the officer corps explicitly!  That’d spark cognitive dissonance in too many Republicans, driving the smartest/best out of the MAGA cult. (It’s already largely happened.) But a campaign to undermine the credibility of the officer corps is slyly repeated as a standard Mad Right mantra. 

And hence, below, I’ll dissect the line that Tucker Carlson and other shills have been trying out – that the admirals and generals all got promoted because of ‘politics.’

But first, how do I assert that *I* may have made things worse? 

By coming up with a counter-tactic that works. 

To a limited degree, it works all the time. Every time. 

Indeed, it is the only tactic that reliably works. 

And while not a single Democratic politician or liberal or moderate pundit has noticed, some on the right have. And it’s made a few of them very unhappy.

== What is it that works? ==

First off, public fact-checking does NOT work. By now you know it does no good to refute some lie-meme by linking to a fact-check service or reliable source. All that happens then is that your MAGA uncle responds with a jpeg or meme of his own, declaring his sources to be better. 

The philosophical underpinning here is utter, subjective relativism. There is no such thing as repeatable objective reality! It’s all just your corrupt authorities vs. mine, who are also blessed by God. (And note that rejection of objective reality is also rife on the postmodernist far-left.)

There is a second reason why fact-checking fails. Let’s say you present proof that's unassailable! For example that ocean acidification has zero alternative explanations to human carbon pollution. Well, in that event, the fellow simply moves on. He changes the subject. It does no good to point out that his credibility should diminish, after being proved wrong! He shrugs and ignores you, in favor of the next packaged meme.

That combination – denial of fact-provable reality and dancing off to the next meme – is so hard to overcome that many – most – of you have simply given up.

But there is a way to overcome both of these lethal flaws in argument. 

It is the same method that works in our older, adversarial truth-determining systems: markets and democracy and especially science and courts. That method is to insist that the argument focus on weighing one assertion at a time… one of yours or one of his… 

...and ensure in advance that factual proof will have actual consequences.

One at a time and with consequences?

There are many ways to do this. But by far the most efficient and effective is by demanding wagers.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Brin and his damn betting-obsession. 

After pushing this for ten years, I know the reflex excuses offered by supposedly mature folks on our side in this civil war over the existence of facts. Murmurs about immaturity, or the tactic being sexist or macho, or blather about how Mitt Romney tried it in 2016 and came across as a rich bully… I’ve heard em all! 

And sorry. They all boil down to laziness and cowardice and a culpable, utter unwillingness to understand Confederate psychology. The mental sickness that Thomas Paine and Abe Lincoln and Mark Twain and Robert Heinlein all knew so well and denounced as the greatest danger to the American Enlightenment Experiment.

That psychology is a macho psychology. It always has been! Through all 8+ phases of the U.S. Civil War, all the way back to the 1770s. And if you haven’t studied that recurring sickness, to understand its weaknesses, then you aren’t really trying to win this life or death struggle for a nation, civilization, planet and children you love.

== The method that makes them run ==

You won’t get any cash out of it, because they always run away. But they run amid the smoldering ashes of their macho.

 I’ve done this though in-yer-face wager demands, insisting that MAGAs actually back up their blowhard memes – one at a time - with $$$ stakes. The way an actual man would. 

And to corner them further, I demand that we'll put evidence before a nonpartisan panel of retired, senior military/intel officers. Most of them former lifelong Republicans. (Now with emphasis on former.) 

It’s the part that puts them into a blind panic.

Note that the Wager Demand gambit works. If you prepare, and tenaciously refuse to let em change the subject, it always works. It is the ONLY thing that ever works. That is, it works in making MAGA blowhards scream in dismay and then flee whatever scene it is, amid the smoldering shambles of their macho. 

And sometimes, rarely but crucially, some onlooker, witnessing this is honest enough to have an epiphany -- to realize: “Hey, maybe I am on the wrong side.”

And here’s the deal. We Americans outnumber the Confederates. Always have. They are in demographic collapse and survive politically by cheating. Strip away just a few – less than a million – and the whole rotten mutant version of conservatism will collapse. And when a new, saner version arises, Barry Goldwater will finally stop spinning in his grave.

== Do I regret this ‘judo’ tactic? ==

And so, we get to the inadvertent harm I’ve done! By demanding fact-verifiable wagers, put before a nonpartisan panel of retired, senior military/intel officers, I have cornered a few borderline folks to wake up and leave the cult! (Have you, ever?)

I also got many more MAGAs to get much more open about their spite!

In order to evade the wager demand they claim there’s no such thing as a trustworthy fact-arbiter. They whine, especially, that such retired, senior officers can’t be trusted! 

“All the generals and admirals – at top levels – got their ranks through POLITICS! Or they were promoted because they were experts at PROCUREMENT!”

Oy, what a despicably/ horrid refuge! Of course, the #1 answer is:

 “That’s quite an assertion – and insult. Can you prove it? Show us a chart of topmost flag officers and how many of them advanced most through 'procurement' or close association with politicians? 

“If you cannot bring forth such support, aren’t you just yammering a chant to discredit men and women who are better than you by miles, by any metric of human quality, from service and patriotism to intelligence and factual savvy and courage?”

There are two more responses, though:

#2 Military procurement involves tightly controlled design, bidding, prototyping, testing, contracting, production… then iterative improvement and integration into a system of professionally capable combined arms. That process involves vast professionalism in order to overcome the inevitable traps of group-think, personal investment and even (occasionally) attempted corruption. Hence all officers on a promotion trajectory serve in procurement, for a while. All of them.

And now we can measure outcomes emerging from the Ukraine war! These outcomes appear to be, at all levels, spectacularly successful. NATO – and especially U.S. – arms and equipment appear to be performing outstandingly! Light years better than the military that we assumed to be our near-peer rivals.  I could offer some interesting perspectives on WHY this has happened… in reforms going back to my hero, George Marshall. But this is not the place.

What stands out, though is that “procurement” in the US military – while sometimes problematic and occasionally corrupting – does not seem to have been the gravy train for crooks that it clearly has been in Russia. In other words, we… got… what… we… have been paying for. 

Shouldn’t that make you marginally glad? 

And finally #3: I keep running into MAGA asshats who whine, when challenged to bet like a man, and especially when I offer a panel of politically neutral, retired senior officers to adjudicate...

...they screech nastiness toward senior officers for one reason, above all. Because so many of them have openly and respectfully-but-adamantly said to lying-psychopathic monsters like Donald Trump “that’s not true, sir.”

And a central, frequent target of MAGA dopes? I have seen a number of shrill spews aimed at the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley.

Um, seriously? Attacking General Milley as a "procurement bureaucrat" shows dismal ignorance of the badges that he earned, that are right there, visible in photos. Shall we look at them?

Paratrooper/Airborne. Ranger. Many action & theater commendations. His home unit is the "band of brothers" 101st Airborne. And noblest of them all, the Combat Infantryman insignia. 

Also, most senior officers have either a PhD or 2-3 masters or equivalents! They are well-versed in science and fact, making them desperately concerned about climate change and pandemics and the blatant meddling of foreign despots in one of our political parties. 

Those hurling 'traitor' at such heroes should use the word into a mirror. 

And of course, the same twits attack every other fact-using profession, from science to teaching, medicine and law to journalism. Again Name one exception to the Foxite all-out war on all fact people. Make that challenge viral. 

== The fundamental reason for the War on Nerds ==

Hence the deeper question… why do no Democratic politicians or liberal or moderate pundits comment on this, at all?

All right let's make one thing clear... I am not denigrating the suffering experienced at confederate hands by minorities, the poor, races and genders and the marginalized!   Absolutely the poor, races and genders and the marginalized are the ones who SUFFER more, due to quasi-Nazi politics.

And yes, I am pointing at persecution of a nerdy clade in which I am a member... multiple times over. As do activists who are personally among the poor, racial minorities or oppressed genders and the marginalized. We all see our 'folk' as central.

Only think, before we finish here. Not about the confederate/MAGA/putin-loving ground troops who respond to the racist dog whistles... but about their masters in the world oligarchy. Those mighty annual migrants to Davos and Dubai and Macao. The ones financing this great World Putsch Against Democracy.  

Do such mighty Olympians have any real reason to hate the powerless?


Sure the powerless HURT because of rising fascism, but they are not the clades hated or raged - against most by the Masters. Or by the shills on Fox screeching nightly against high IQ 'snobs.'

The oligarchy most hates and fears those who have SOME POWER to thwart them!  Clades who do have some might, collectively, to fight for the Enlightenment Experiment and who are doing so, effectively every day.  Scientists, journalists, teachers, civil servants, practicialers of law, medicine and intel... If they are crushed - as Fox daily tries to do - then there will be no obstacle to a return of 6000 years of dismal, inheritance-based feudalism. 

Sure, after that there will eventually be Revolution. Because today's oligarchs show every sign of flattery-addiction and massive causal stupidity. If they achieve their goal, then all their prepper compounds will be for naught, in the radicalized torching that follows.

We mustn't let it come to that. 

So yes, fight for the nerds.

Like it or not, they are the ones trying to bring the Enlightenment to a soft landing at a higher plateau.



PS here's a lagniappe. A jpeg that stirs discomfort in any MAGA you show it to...


scidata said...

Milley, Hockey, Canada, and the closest allies in the world:

Alan Brooks said...

Next year DeSantis will be the number one enemy, and Trump can help defeat Governor Goombah.
We didn’t start the war; it was a war long before we got here, as the last line of this clip illustrates:

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Did I make things worse?

The upside of nobody listening to your suggestions is that it can't be your fault when something goes wrong.

Larry Hart said...

Again from the main post:

After pushing this for ten years, I know the reflex excuses offered by supposedly mature folks on our side in this civil war over the existence of facts. Murmurs about immaturity, or the tactic being sexist or macho, or blather about how Mitt Romney tried it in 2016 and came across as a rich bully… I’ve heard em all!

And sorry. They all boil down to laziness and cowardice and a culpable, utter unwillingness to understand Confederate psychology.

It's not your insistence on wagers that seems futile. It's the whole complex mechanism of "escrow funds with a lawyer and submit to a panel of retired military experts" that comes off as Romneyesque, elite games that a working man has no time to truck with. That's not how good ol' boyz bet. It has to be as simple and obvious as slapping a picture of Alexander Hamilton on the table and going, "Ten bucks says you're full of shit!"

Admittedly, that is difficult to do on the internet, so what's a good equivalent?

Larry Hart said...

This sophont is dangerous.

While significant on its own terms, the mounting intensity of Thiel’s political spending traces his evolution from an economic and social libertarian to a “Dark Enlightenment” and Christian-nationalist authoritarian. (As a reactionary philosophical and political movement, the Dark Enlightenment is anti-democratic and anti-egalitarian.)

I prefer the term "Endarkenment".

Consider an immensely long Amazon review of journalist Max Chafkin’s recent biography of Thiel, “The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power.” The reviewer, who goes by the name “Kristin,” has written no other Amazon reviews and provides no profile information. Kristin’s review, titled “When the Son of Man Comes, Will He Find Faith on Earth?” — a reference to Luke 18:8 — is an exegesis of Thiel’s Christianity, which Kristin believes is central to understanding “Peter.”

As Kristin writes: Thiel believes globalization is the Antichrist, the Antichrist is the antecedent to the Apocalypse foretold in the Book of Revelations and only a turn toward Jesus Christ can save humanity from annihilation.
Because, as Thiel tells us, what people learn from all religions, particularly from the Abrahamic faiths, is that culture and tradition are founded not on warm ale and pipe smoke but on violence and murder. Echoing Girard, Thiel tells us that all civilization originates from a crime.

matthew said...

Since I often bring politics into the science threads here, I'll make a modest amends by bringing interesting science into a politics thread. ;-P

Authors claim that octopus DNA shows rate of collapse of Antarctic ice sheet 125k years ago and predicts modern ice sheet collapse from 1.5C average temperature rise:

I guess the US politics lesson to be gleaned from this is to short Florida real estate values.

locumranch said...

As I've been expecting another 'War on Smart People' argument for some time, I've prepared a brief rebuttal that will address certain fallacious assumptions about smart people, a breakdown on intelligence, the utility of education, the veracity of our military intelligence complex, the importance of expertise, the so-called 'War on Smart People' & the practicality of wagers:

(1) The term 'smart people' is a divisive concept, one that that defines a 15% minority of the US population as 'smart' (aka 'of above average intelligence ') and rejects about 84% of the US population as 'not smart' (aka 'of average or below average intelligence').

(2) Education is akin to training, but it does not confer intelligence or 'smartness'. Dr. Brin has admitted this much previously, insomuch as a highly-trained moron is still a moron, even though increasing intelligence does correlate with increasing educational attainment.

(3) Despite being well trained & educated, our military intelligence complex has a very poor track record for honesty, veracity & impartiality in regards to both its actions & agenda, and one would have to possess the attention span of a squirrel to argue otherwise.

(4) Expertise is a function of education but not necessarily of intelligence, much in the same way that 'knowing things' and 'smartness' does not necessarily correlate with the ability to rule, lead, exercise empathy or 'do things' like unclog a toilet.

(5) Smart People are currently engaged in a 'War on Smart People', according to Dr. Brin, the implication being that the small 'smart people' minority must wage this war back at a 'not smart' but numerically superior & predominantly more violent majority. Does this idea sound very 'smart' to you?

(6) In conflict resolution, the Wager (as a 'gentleman's agreement') has a severely limited utility as it assumes a level of both intelligence & politeness that only the very intelligent would assume.

I think George Orwell said it best when he said that There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.

I'd normally quote Robert Heinlein's view on violence at this point, but I no longer have the heart.


Larry Hart said...

Not for the delicate, but when you're right...

All the drag performers should protest outside places of worship where a church leader has actually been arrested for sex crimes. Because, lemme tell you, there are a fuckton more child-fucking and rapist preachers and priests and pastors than drag queens. But the Proud Boys and the Jesus Fellaters don't get on the sidewalk outside those churches and scream about grooming and God hating them. Or maybe it's just not really about the sexual assault and pedophilia and it's just about hating LGBTQ people. (It's totally just about the hate.)

You wanna go on this, you masturbation-denying freaks who are so backed up with jizz that you can't see straight? Then let's go:

C'mon, drag queens. Let's go fuck with the Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Fairfield, Illinois. Yeah, their former pastor, the uncomfortably-named Garrett Biggerstaff, was arrested last month on two counts of grooming children for sexual activity. He'd been at it for a while, literally an alleged groomer. So let's line up outside with signs that say, "Wake up! This is child abuse!" and "Groomers" with a big red X through it. (Real signs outside drag events, in case you were wondering.)
Yeah, c'mon, bad ass drag queens. You wanna really highlight who is harming the kids? Who is raping and sexually assaulting and molesting and grooming? Let's fuck shit up outside all these houses of worship and then sashay away.

Deuxglass said...

Of course you made it worse by calling everyone you disagree with as confederates and making it clear that you are one of those who believe that the masses have to be directed by a hard core of true believers in order to bring about the changes you desire.

Larry Hart said...

I'm reminded of something Colonel Flag said to Sidney Freedman on M*A*S*H.

"You think you're smart, Freedman? Well, you're not smart. You're dumb. Very dumb. But you've met your match in me!"

David Brin said...

Ah Deuxglass returns. Alas, fellah, every single thing you asserted is simply false. That you assert such reflects on you, not me.

Locum is more complex. He's articulate this time. His assertions are in three sets:

- - things that are simply false.

- things the are semantically arguable within the sentence, but completely inapplicable to the situation to which he would apply them.

- one item that's actually kinda true.

I do not have spare lifespan to parse out responses to either fool, not do they merit the respect that would imply.

Unknown said...

I want to go live in the Clarke future where "Religious Fundamentalism" is in the DSM-X, along with treatment recommendations, but I don't see how to get from here to there. Douglas Adams (I think) suggested that there's a religion-shaped hole in most people's brains that gets filled with the local religion (mass conversions are unusual), but "mostly harmless" groups like mainstream Judaism or CUUPS don't really proselytize.

What we need is a charismatic religion, run by a well-programmed Adam Selene lookalike, that preaches tolerance, diversity and rational thought. If only that was what the majority of humans were looking for...


P.S. bragging by proxy, but it turns out the Kipling Girl (no longer mine, of course) won a Fullbright in music after graduation, beating out candidates from Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music

Larry Hart said...


What we need is a charismatic religion, ... that preaches tolerance, diversity and rational thought.

At one time, wasn't that Christianity?

Unknown said...


One would have thought...however, Christianity has always been millenialist, which IMHO erodes rational thought. Are YOU at your most rational facing a deadline?


William said...

I believe that's Yanukovych, not Manafort.

Tim H. said...

As I see it, they object to their lords being contradicted. They're Igors.

David Brin said...

William that image is Manafort:

Without question there is religiosity on the left among those who screech (borrowing from Weird Al) "I'm 10,000 times as humble... or tolerant... as thou art, thou despicable trogs!"

Again the FAR left CONTAINS fact-allergic, troglodyte-screeching dogmatists who wage war on science and hate the American tradition of steady, pragmatic reform, and who would impose their prescribed morality on you.

But today’s mad ENTIRE right CONSISTS of fact-allergic, troglodyte-screeching dogmatists who wage war on science and hate the American tradition of steady, pragmatic reform, and who would impose their prescribed morality on you.

There is all the world’s difference between FAR and ENTIRE. As there is between CONTAINS and CONSISTS.

David Brin said...

Oh there are so many movies I'd improve(!) by adding ten or twenty seconds... maybe 2 minutes. Like in TOTAL RECALL having the camera back away and see that Arnold kissing the brunette on Mars is happening on a monitor above his drooling head and Sharon Stone, his wife, screaking she'll sue the company for every dime they've got!

Or fixing the dialogue in JEDI (SW ep6) so the Luke-Emperor scene actually offers a credible moral quandary, instead of "Get mad so you'll become bad! Wait, now you're mad and NOT bad? Okay then let's fight!"

BTW know who is the only person to call Vader "Darth" as if a familiar 1st name basis?

To see what I would do to save the first AVATAR flick, see VIVID TOMORROWS: Science Fiction and Hollywood -

Alfred Differ said...


At one time, wasn't that Christianity?

Are you kidding? I'm guessing you are. 8)

Unknown said...


That is unfair to Igors, and their union may be contacting you.

Igors know when to bugout - ruined mansions in flames, peasants with pitchforks and torches, monsters hunting down their creators, etc. From what I've seen the GQP underlings are willing to ride it all the way down. It's their masters who get vaccinated and covertly admit that a 30% sales tax is insane.


Unknown said...

Dr. Brin,

Did you have any comments on "Valerian and the city of 1K Planets?" It was a letdown for me overall (I like Comix Francais, translated) but the message seemed OK, except for the 1 bad apple military.)


Deuxglass said...

I was just passing by as I occasionally do, saw the title and wondered if you were posing questions about whether you were wasting your time on what you see as a crusade and whether you wonder if your arguments were convincing people. I can't speak for others but for me your arguments were not convincing and ineffectual. However what really ticked me off was how the themes of your articles were closely correlated in time with that of other medias to an incredible degree. I could set my watch by it. That turned me off to the messenger and hence the message. Originally, besides your books, I was attracted many years ago by your talks against rage and why one must control it. A few years later I find you not giving dispassionate analysis but raging as much as a commentator on Fox News. What happened? Anyway I have much more things to do than to waste my time arguing politics with you.

DP said...

"BTW know who is the only person to call Vader "Darth" as if a familiar 1st name basis?"

"You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine." - Obi Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) "A New Hope"

"To see what I would do to save the first AVATAR flick"

According to box office receipts, the first Avatar doesn't need saving.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

At one time, wasn't that Christianity?

Are you kidding? I'm guessing you are. 8)

No, but I was focusing more on the "tolerance and diversity" part.

I realize that today's most vocal Christianists are in opposition to those things, but back in the day, wasn't that part of the appeal? Jesus loves everybody?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Or fixing the dialogue in JEDI (SW ep6) so the Luke-Emperor scene actually offers a credible moral quandary,

Leia should have saved the day with a surprise use of her own Force powers. The emperor (and probably the audience) wouldn't have seen that coming. I mean, what else was it for that she was "another"?

(Of course, my better resolution is that the father thing was a lie, and that Darth Vader was really Luke's uncle who faked his own death on Tatooine.)

BTW know who is the only person to call Vader "Darth" as if a familiar 1st name basis?

Obi-Wan in the 1977 original Star Wars. And it is painfully obvious that at the time that movie was written, Darth Vader was not envisioned as being Luke's father, who he betrayed and murdered. Not even "from a certain point of view."

scidata said...

If you ever want to experience Christian venomous rage, describe Jesus as a globalist socialist using his own words and actions. Wow. And I'm no Jesuit. One of the things that got me kicked out of Sunday School was opining that Moses seemed to me to be of higher character. What a snot-nosed kid I was. A harbinger of my hot-headed undergrad days when I criticized Boltzmann (and Asimov!) for their worship of statistical mechanics, which seemed to me to be very anthropomorphic and un-Planck-ian.

I've been reading a lot about Feynman, because of his friendship with Hans Bethe, who was one of the early advocates of citizen science. I've yet to find a direct quote from Feynman on this, but it seems to me that his main heuristic was 'express it as a function and take at least the first derivative'.

Re: Darth
Huh, I always considered the "betrayed and murdered you father" line to be one of the best and most poetic in that whole dreadful mish-mash of a space opera. I agree that the father thing came later, but what a clever bridge.

Larry Hart said...

As long as we're briefly onto Star Wars, I'll mention again that in light of what we supposedly know in sequels and prequels, Leia's video greeting to Obi-Wan Kenobi (emphasis mine) , "You fought with my father in the Clone Wars." has an eerie second meaning. In the script of the original 1977 film, "my father" certainly referred to her Alderaan father, Bail Organa, and "fought with" was used in the sense of "fought alongside of." But knowing what we're supposed to know now, that sentence could be read in an entirely different way, almost an opposite way.

Larry Hart said...

Uh oh.

“The prior generation of information technology favored the introverts, whereas the new A.I. bots are more likely to favor the extroverts,” the George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen writes. “You will need to be showing off all the time that you are more than ‘one of them.’” The ability to create and give a good speech, connect with an audience, and organize fun and productive gatherings seem like a suite of skills that A.I. will not replicate.

Unknown said...


"...the new A.I. bots are more likely to favor the extroverts,..."

Were I not retired, I'd be hosed.


A.F. Rey said...

The ability to create and give a good speech, connect with an audience, and organize fun and productive gatherings seem like a suite of skills that A.I. will not replicate.

Only until the extroverts start programming them to. :)

Admittedly, it might take a while to get them to sit down and do it...

Lena said...


No disrespect intended, and I suspect Dr. Brin will be annoyed with me for saying something, but he has every reason to be angry, as does anyone who loves his country (or at least the hominids in it). Anyone who has any background in 20th C. history can see where this is headed. The fascist propaganda that the Republican Party has been feeding us since the Nixon Administration has always been dangerous stuff, but over the last several years the extremism has gone really far, now that they have found their Hitler. (Reagan would have made a much better Hitler, but in 1980 there were still a lot of people around who knew what the word "fascism" means.

Extreme drives extremity.

If you don't like the political stuff, don't read it. Visit when he is on other subjects. The comments section tends to swing back to politics all the time (and I'm as guilty of that as anyone else), but you can still choose where your eyes go.


Larry Hart said...


I was gonna say...

How is the complaint against anger different from, "Before Pearl Harbor, you were against American involvement in the war. Now, you're on a war footing just as much as the ones who bombed your naval base. What happened?"

Or, "You used to claim that Ukraine was peaceful. Now, you shoot at Russians just as much as they shoot at you. What happened?"

Larry Hart said...

...the difference being, of course...

"You offered me the lives of my crew."

locumranch said...

Despite being correct, Deuxglass is way too hard on Dr. Brin's decision to eschew both rhetorical self-improvement & anti-emotionalism, as this tends to happen as we get older.

We may start out jousting at windmills when full of vim, vigour & youthful enthusiasm, but we eventually tire of our apparent failure to persuade others and/or 'fix the world', only to console ourselves with the rather self-serving conclusion that the fault lies, not in ourselves, but in the world itself.

The outcome is the same either way, despite all the 'power of positive thinking' and our best efforts, as the world remains unchanged, irretrievably broken, whether or not we allow ourselves to be ruled by reason, optimism, raging indignation or cynicism.

This explains a lot, so it really should come as no surprise to anyone that it is (much much) easier for one to dismiss those who 'find fault' as fools & nitwits rather than to acknowledge the inarticulate & ineffective nature of one's own rhetoric.

Whether we be wild, grave, good or godly ...

In the end we all rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And, assuming that all our actions are futile & it makes no difference in the end, then it makes perfect sense to wage this War on Smart People back at the 'not smart' but numerically superior & predominantly more violent majority, since this approach has worked out so incredibly well in pogrom after pogrom after pogrom.

Because, in the end, we're all dead anyway: Right?


scidata said...

The fault does lie in ourselves - it's called defeatism.

"Courage my friends, 'tis not too late to build a better world."
- T.C. Douglas

David Brin said...

Article about some of the fantastic almost sci fi projects we give seed funding to at NASA’s Innovative & Advanced Concepts program - (NIAC).

LH the wager stakes have to be large enough to be worth the many hours it would take, to prove even the most blatant case. And escrowing the stakes is vital too. Because it is the only way to be sure they’ll actually pay. I’ve been burned both ways by liars who ‘shake’ on a ten buck bar bet. This way - demanding large and escrowed stakes - they simply run away.

The Valerian movie was fun primarily for its vivid premise and universe. And good-natured optimism. Same category as 5th Element.

Deuxglass you are welcome to bitch here. What makes you yawnworthy is how almost none of your slurs land anywhere near me. Criticism is vital!
But I am not behooved to share every blatant envy-hallucination. Sorry man.

“According to box office receipts, the first Avatar doesn't need saving.”

Well, yeah, that makes ME look like an envy-dope!! ;-) But I meant morally. The 1st Avatar came THAT close to being a useful morality tale… but was left as a fundamentally demoralizing message of despair for all humanity.

While I am on the fence, one thing I like about the new AI Age is that they’l read my stuff without sighing “tl;dr” and weigh it on its merits.

Locum’s latest is confessional and intelligent and I won’t try to argue him out of the pleasure he draws from sullen, dyspeptic gloom. When he is at his best and least aggressively loathesome… as in this case… he’s actually kinda artistic and gloom certainly seemed apropos for 99% of human existence.

We’ll still try to make the future bright. And yes, for him, as well.

Unknown said...

Dr. Brin,

I've been avoiding the Loc-Nar. I reviewed that latest; I've always thought that, looking at the curiousity of children in general, people have to be trained to be incurious and "not bright". Regarding a brighter future, I wouldn't exclude anyone wasn't working actively against it.

Then again, honi soit qui mal y pense


Alan Brooks said...

If Lotus Ranch really did think things were as hopeless as he indicates, why would he visit such as CB? The PC blog would be an alternative for him:
the Pessimists Club.
Or he could sit in a garden waiting for the End. Sit, meditate, pray.

Tony Fisk said...

My take on Vader was that he was Palpatine's 'plan B': a clone of Anakin who killed and replaced him when Anakin would not be turned. Which is where the cracks in his dark resolve started to develop.
(I found this could be portrayed with surprisingly few changes to 'Revenge')

Speaking of salvaging, I've just been watching the Trollhunters' series on Netflix.
It's a YA fantasy by Guillermo Del Toro which is humorous, tightly scripted, and pretty darn good, on the whole.
Think 'How to Train Your Dragon' meets 'Stranger Things'.

The time unwinding ending of the final movie, though, needs some work.
I mean, how could you do that to your surviving friends, Jim!??
(While it's ended for now, there are clear hints Del Toro may come back to it at some point. After all, it took Le Guin a while to sort out the problem with Earthsea.)

Unknown said...

"Courage my friends, 'tis not too late to build a better world."
- T.C. Douglas

An inspirational leader, indeed.

His socialist government (and its successors) ran Saskatchewan in the black for a couple of generations, until a newly elected Conservative government ran up the biggest per capita provincial debt* in just four years. Fiscally-responsible conservatives my rectal orifice.

Enjoy Oysterband singing "Early Days of a Better Nation". A song of hope, indeed:

*Debt, not deficit.

Unknown said...

I won’t try to argue him out of the pleasure he draws from sullen, dyspeptic gloom.

As Jon-Tom tells the unhappy mushrooms in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger, there's nothing wrong be being depressed, as long as you enjoy it.

Alfred Differ said...

We may start out jousting at windmills when full of vim, vigour & youthful enthusiasm, but we eventually tire of our apparent failure to persuade others and/or 'fix the world', only to console ourselves with the rather self-serving conclusion that the fault lies, not in ourselves, but in the world itself.

When I was a young'n the world was chock full with 3,000 million mouths to feed and women having at least twice as many babies as replacement would require. Many thought we were going to die a miserable slow death from starvation or a faster one when we fought for the remaining scraps. The fault was obviously with the world because no amount of talk persuades enough men and women to withdraw allowing their family lines to perish.

Yet here we are today with 8,000 million mouths to feed and many are so overfed we have more health troubles related to obesity than all the others combined. No doubt we are going to die slow miserable deaths related to diabetes instead, right? Nothing could possibly prevent that future because no amount of talk persuades men and women to withdraw from stuffing their faces full of cheap carbs and sitting on our asses until the fat congeals around our hearts and in our arteries.

Of course there is no way out.
We are all going to die.
Surely this time.

Unknown said...

Uh - Alan Dean Foster showed up on Scalzi's blog commentariat recently, discussing "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" - kind of cool.


Larry Hart said...


Alan Dean Foster showed up on Scalzi's blog commentariat recently, discussing "Splinter of the Mind's Eye"

Back when I was buying anything that had to do with Star Wars, I did pick up that paperback, although I never got around to reading it. I'll have to see if I can find my copy. It would be interesting to see a take on a future adventure of Luke, Han, Leia, and Darth Vader as imagined before Star Wars became "The Star Wars Saga".

Larry Hart said...

Hey, has anyone called the latest controversy "Balloonghazi" yet?

'Cause I want to claim it.

amicus said...

Sheesh! You would think lotsa 'commentees' had just acquired new Jophur master rings!

I realise that there are lots of 'narratives' being propagated around the current circumnstances in the US, and even worldwide, and that some three-letter agencies are being seen as the dependable 'old guard', but I do have to question the FBI's neutrality in calling parents of school kids 'domestic terrorists. That really stinks of 'something foul afoot!'
And there are other issues involving the extremely heavy-handed and unjustified practices in FIB's (sic) raids on certain folks! Something does not smell good at all!

But I really came on to say that I have just reread the whole Uplift double-trilogy
( is that a word??? :) ), which I thoroughly enjoyed. :)

I see that the last one was written about 1997/1998 - and I guess there will never be any more - but absolutely loved them.

Thank you David Brin,

Gregg Thorn

Perth, Western Australia

Larry Hart said...


but I do have to question the FBI's neutrality in calling parents of school kids 'domestic terrorists.

Your bias is showing. They didn't label "parents of school kids" domestic terrorists. They labeled "parents who threatened violence against school officials" as domestic terrorists. If there's overlap between those groups, whose fault is that?

Unknown said...

I'd add that compared to Australia, "parents of school kids" in the United States are much more likely to also be "owners of semiautomatic rifles".


P.S. Does F-x News actually allege that 3LAs have a liberal bias? How is that in any way supportable, considering the extent of operations such as COINTELPRO and the deeply reactionary personalities that tend to rise to power there?

Larry Hart said...


Does F-x News actually allege that 3LAs have a liberal bias? How is that in any way supportable

Because they're going after right-wingers who commit crimes. Anyone who "targets" right-wingers must be biased against them. It couldn't be that they're just going after criminals or anything.

Lena said...


Sorry if I went a little overboard. When I saw Dr. Brin use the word "Asshat" it did raise my eyes a little. I had no intention of shutting you up, just mildly chiding.


David Brin said...

Gregg Thorn Thanks for your kid words. There is "uplift" in my novel EXISTENCE and I am trying to free time to write more.

I have yet to see ANY scenario under which the culture of the FBI would have been swayed to be lackeys of woke liberal leftyness.

Is it possible (consider?) that something else is afoot? That these agents and their intel compatriots and the US senior military officer corps... the quarter million heroes who won the Cold War and the War on Terror... might, just maybe, be concerned by the blatant strings (more like chains) that bound the Trumpites to Moscow and Riyadh and the Rising Power?

Across the US Right, adoration of Putin and 5000 "ex" commissars in the Kremlin and relabeled KGB is a rising flood. And all those guys - (who grew up reciting Leninist catechisms) - had to do, to capture the US Right was change a few symbols, from Marxist to mafia-oligarchy.

SorryGregg, I got no truck with FBI bashing when those dedicated professionals are fighting a rising tide of attacks by the same foe they opposed, when that foe waved red banners.

Der Oger said...

Those enemies are all fact-using professions. Science, medicine, law, journalism, teaching, civil service ...

Just some questions:

How do these professions challenge or cement current social injustices?
How easy is it to enter these professions, especially with regard to the socio-economic and the education status of the parents?
What would make it less likely that those professions can be divided from the greater society, how did these professions contribute to the problem? Or, another way round: How could they make it worse?

David Brin said...

Der Oger those are reasonable questions, looking past the implicit sneer of your pre-supposed answers to those questions.

My answer is that YOUR values were taught to you by an Enlightenment Experiment that's the first to stymie feudalism and theocraticy supported oppression for more than a generation or two. YOUR Suspicion of Authority and egalitarian and diversity reflexes were suckled all your youth and adulthood from the most relentless propaganda campaign in all history... Hollywood mostly... preaching those values! Values that despotisms and racists all over the world are desperate to stop.

What? You think you invented suspicion of authority? You personally?

Who decided on that campaign and subsidized its presence in almost every film you ever enjoyed? Who? The ignorant-oppressed?

At each phase, nerdy types were at the forefront, from Frederick Douglass to ML King - elites! The Jeffersonian expansions of franchise and books of Adam Smith and Hume etc not only expanded rights from 0.001% to 20%, but wrote that they expected further expansions to come. And further ones did come.

CRIMINY, LOOK AT THE UTOPIAN PAEANS THAT POURED FROM THE EARLY INVENTORS OF THE INTERNET, LIKE (STILL!) VINT CERF. The bill pushed by Al Gore ensured the Net would NOT be hoarded by elites (much) - or by the inventing country - but shared, empowering all levels for well or ill.

Are there some nerdy elements to oppression? Sure. Do nerdy elements sometimes exude offensive privilege and appeals to authority? Sure. Would the diversity and rights expansions of our lifetimes have stood a chance, without pretty reliable overall liberal support from the nerdy castes...? NOT ONE CHANCE IN HELL.

"How easy is it to enter these professions, especially with regard to the socio-economic and the education status of the parents?"

Answer: Not nearly easy enough. Only ten bazillion-jillionbrazillion times easier than at any time across the entire history of humanity.
I know. I attended two of the top universities on the planet, rubbing shoulders with children of the rich and poor who... did... not... give... a... damn. We were all distracted by other things. Were we still competitive, sometimes harshly? Were we human? But those other things mattered more.

"What would make it less likely that those professions can be divided from the greater society?"

You are now being entirely reflexive, paying no attention whatsoever to anything I've said.

I think it’s time to revisit one of my longstanding topics - CITIZEN SCIENCE, the fact that this generation has even more opportunities than ever to participate in the greatest adventure of our time - and one of the most liberating - the expansion of human perspectives and knowledge.
Unlike every prior ‘priesthood,’ scientists have a huge tradition of welcoming participation by amateurs who are willing to ask questions and put in the work. (Witness COSMOS and all the myriad other PBS type science/nature shows!). But it goes farther! See this Brin Classic (lately updated and improved!) about oppostunities to engage in Citizen Science.

Only my point in the blog wasn't just about science. The Foxites rail EVERY NIGHT against universities in general, against "High IQ Stupid People" in every profession that deals in things called facts. Why?

Seriously? Try actually, actually reading my blog posting, because I explain why the mad right rails against nerds VASTLY more than they openly attack races, genders or the marginalized powerless. (Hint: that last word contains it all.)

ovBve all, they count on the left's OWN anti-nerd bias to prevent full realization of this vital alliance. Ego. Social activists cannot allow themselves to perceive who their greatest allies have been. To admit that would lessen their own preening sense of self-importance.

scidata said...

Bravo, Dr. Brin. The mention of Vint Cerf brightened my day.

Here's a boot-to-BASIC* computer project that uses the same $5 Pi Pico device I used for an early prototype of my SELDON I processor!

* I still maintain that WJCC is the most important thing you've every written, but admittedly I still have a mountain of reading to do.

David Brin said...

Scidata, alas, WJCC would be the simplest possible problem to fix with the greates potential benefit... and I can't get any leverage at all. Thanks though.

scidata said...

Folks are starting to use chatGPT to write code (Python mostly). Entirely misses the point. More enigmatic, wildly abstracted code is the LAST thing the world needs. Johnny is the future, not mindless mimicry. It's not even strictly about coding - the fallacy that governments have poured billions into. It's about computational thinking - ad hoc problem solving - which doesn't always require a computer, certainly not a powerful one. I share your frustration, but I continue to advocate for Seymour Papert's, Jeannette Wing's, and your own visions. I miss the early 1980s Isaac Asimov, when he went on a personal computing for the masses binge (for Tandy). We came oh-so close to Leibniz's Calculemus!, only to wind up sifting eye candy and amusing ourselves to death.

Alfred Differ said...

CITIZEN SCIENCE, the fact that this generation has even more opportunities than ever to participate in the greatest adventure of our time...

The signal to noise ratio has some issues on YouTube, but the more I follow people into their special topic Discord servers, the more I see CITIZEN TEACHER under way too.


I did my grad school work on a mathematical tool that wasn't that popular at the time. Spent a while exploring its uses in physics. I still love that stuff, but I left it behind when I left academia.

What do I find today? Lots of YouTube videos covering the same old ground, but with animations and occasionally decent production values. Most importantly, though, they are NOT classroom lectures. I puzzled a bit over who would give a damn about this and found to my surprise it wasn't all coming from one group.

Then I followed some of them down to their Discord servers. Holy Self-Learners Batman! They are teaching themselves complex stuff and drawing in junior academics who want to expand their expertise. Those groups are acting as test audiences for some of the videos... and producing their own.


I'm in a pretty good mood right now about the direction this is all going. SNR is still an issue at the consumer interfaces, but I'm seeing the content filter that must emerge beginning to emerge along with the expertise groups that create the needed reputations.

locumranch said...

I've listed a few simple questions with self-evident answers (below) that can help you determine if you are a High IQ Idiot, an intelligent person or merely an idiot.

(1) How do you defeat a stronger opponent?

You evade; you take flight; and you simply run away.

Dr. Brin just admitted that this is the major flaw with his vaunted wager approach, as those who he wishes to best with wagers 'simply run away'.

(2) How do you defeat a stronger & faster opponent?

You out-think & out-smart them.

This answer is also self-evident as it's the next question & answer which is the most telling.

(3) How do you defeat a smarter opponent?

See above. You defeat them by being stronger & faster; you use force, fight or flight; and you win by exploiting their obvious weaknesses. This answer indicates an intelligent person.

You're an idiot if you think that you can't defeat a more intelligent opponent; you're a super idiot if you argue that fight or flight rules no longer apply to you; and you're a special type of High IQ Idiot if you argue any variation of 'You defeat your opponent by befriending them'.

The High IQ Idiot invariably attempts to redefine their opponent & competitor as either an enemy or a non-competing friend, even though opposition & competition do not necessarily indicate an enemy.


amicus said...

Ohh yes - EXISTENCE - I actually have a copy of that, but had forgotten.
I guess I really liked the characters in the Uplift stories - and I keep thinking about how Tom Orley and crew might escape Kithrup, but I just don't have the inclination to really sit down and nut out my own imagined story :) - so you better help me out and write one! :) ;)

My degree was in Mass comm, with a major in Science Journalism, but that was in the 90's when I was in my 40's and they didn't have a specific SCiJo degree!

Am enjoying Asher and Iain M Banks (sadly passed), and Reynolds and Mcdevitt etc etc etc - such an incredible variety in these days; especially loved Andre Norton and others in the Gollanz stable of the 60's.

Re 3 letter agencies etc - institutions and individuals change, plus you can always have a few rotten apples in good institutions, even at the top. It seems even the Democratic party does not hold the same policies and/or principles of the Kennedy days.

And although i live in Kangaroo country, I am still concerned for those millions that have come over your southern border; hoping to share the American Dream. Don't they realise that if such numbers come with their own unique culture and ideology, that the American Dream will be diluted and become harder to achieve, especially when opportunistic companies will be offering minimal salaries because of the huge demand for jobs. And what of those citizen 'minorities' who already stuggling to live the American Dream, and who will have to compete with the vast numbers of immigrants?

Maybe Elon can quickly build some ARK/Generation ships and send us out into the 'Four Galaxies!' :)



Don Gisselbeck said...

I tried a variant of the wager on a flatearther. I challenged him to a bet that he would lose a fraud lawsuit against a company offering ski trips to the South Pole. After a deflection, he disappeared. (For the uninitiated, flatearthers claim Antarctica is an ice wall surrounding the flat earth and regular people are forbidden to go there.)

Larry Hart said...

On Stephanie Miller's radio show, they often mention the metaphor of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck each telling Elmer Fudd to "Shoot the duck!" "Shoot the bunny!", etc, until Bugs switches to "Shoot the bunny!" which makes Daffy say "Shoot the duck!" at which point, Elmer Fudd blasts him.

They correctly pointed out that President Biden did exactly that last night when he mentioned that (some) Republicans want to sunset Social Security and Medicare. When the Republicans booed him angrily for daring to say such things about them, they essentially foreclosed the option of extracting that very concession by holding the debt ceiling hostage. Or as the MSNBC announcers mentioned at the time, he just maneuver congress into maintaining Social Security and Medicare by unanimous consent.

Unknown said...


You might be right re: SS and Medicare, but the GQP line of recent months has been "safeguarding" those programs, which means keeping the benefits limited to the funds the GQP is willing to dedicate to them, which means cutting the hell out of them. There's a scene in Twain's "Puddinghead Wilson" that illustrates their POV:

(Dog barks annoyingly)
"I wish I owned half that dog."
"Why would you want to own half a dog?"
"I'd shoot my half."


P.S. the title of that book is an example of the anti-elitism Brin has been discussing. Puddinghead Wilson is the town doctor, so called because of that one joke above that he made on first arriving. Since no-one got the joke, they decided he was an idiot - though they still went to him for their various ailments. That book was published says 1894. This has been going on a long time.

Larry Hart said...


Twain's "Puddinghead Wilson"

By coincidence, I just finished reading (for the first time) Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The narrator makes a good case for the idea that, in sixth century England, one would be insane not to believe in magic and superstitions, because everyone knew those things to be real.

Also, I knew the broad outlines of the plot already, but I didn't know that there was a specific enemy in the story. Twain was not a fan of the church.

Unknown said...


Re: youtube

If you have any interest in colonial New England or Civil War history, check out a youtube creator - nom de YT is Atun-Shei. You don't see many videos with footnotes, but his have them. He is extremely funny and seems to be effective in combatting pro-confederate BS - there are comments indicating he's actually changed minds.


P.S. he can also pull off a road agent spin with a period pistol.

Unknown said...


Yes, you could say "Twain was not a fan of the church.", but that would be a charming understatement*. There is a collection of his shorter,, I believe, with the title "A Pen Warmed-up in Hell."


P.S. had to delete and resubmit - hat tip to Lois Bujold and "Captain Vorpatril's Alliance"

Larry Hart said...


One of those Atun-Shei videos had this quote in a comment underneath. Couldn't have said it better myself.

“When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

David Brin said...

Another articulate and utterly nutso locum missive.

Predictably he is terrified of the tactic of making MAGAS *always flee* from direct wager challenges over their easily refutable assertions. When flight is the absolute 100% response to such challenges, under all conditions and by hundreds of blowhard cultists, then the lesson that accumulates is that it truly is a cult of blowehards.

Moreover, a cult that yammer-preens centrally about machismo is revealed as a mob of cowards, always fleeing from the ultimate test of manhood (or balls) -- are you man enough to step up and back up your ravings, the way an actual man would?

Gregg, I have complaints against kneejerk lefties who would reflexively open all borders, despite absolute proof that our enemies use immigration to rile right wing populism that installed quasi nazis in several eastern European governments. There is a rate of 'digestion' up to which immigrants are a benefit AND a moral imperative... and beyond which generosity leads to an END to further generosity.

Having said that, we HAVE done a great job (much better than France!) at digesting and absorbing immigrant populations whose children become fully American in values and rambunctiousness... which is what I care about foremost. I see no 'dilution' and those rapaciously exploitative companies are nearly all Republican associated.

Don good one! I know guys who have worked on their telescopes at the South Pole and recorded in GREAT detail the circular movement of stars directly overhead... as you can do 6 months later at the dark north pole. But of course, offer to phone friends in Hokaido, Capetown and Australia at the same time and ask them for the angles to the sun. (Do it during a full moon, so you can get the angle at night, too.)


LH yeah that was a good judo move. I can suggest others.

David Brin said...

Re the recent Russian military satellites that 'dissolved... It appears the 'cloud' is fairly limited to large chunks. My thriller plot notion - without much basis - is that they closing in on US assets - under VP's orders - and were chopped up by our guys' defense systems before they could actually explode.

We've only known for years that attacking US space assets was of keep interest to RF and others... and that it was on the table for the last year.

Darrell E said...

"SpaceX president, Gwynne Shotwell has announced that the company hopes to perform Super Heavy’s first 33 engine static fire tomorrow."

This should be fun.

Alan Brooks said...

Am still attempting, after a year, to comprehend Lotus Ranch’s core beliefs. He appears to be a far more educated version of the knuckledraggers I’ve known all my life.
Their overarching theme is how progress is “up in the air.”
I reply that everything is up in the air—the air itself is up in the air. Not good enough for them; they want results, without actually subscribing to the notion of progress. Having their cake cake and eating it too: they wish for the results of progress to be thoroughly manifested, before they will Believe.

David Brin said...

Pretty good by COry Doctorow who is 5% as smart as he thinks he is... in other words, he's merely top 0.01 percentile.

duncan cairncross said...

Interesting article
Basically if the only way you can get money is advertising then....

So we really really need the micro-payment option instead/as well

Unknown said...

He's describing the online version of Walmart opening a new store in a town, driving local shops out of business, then closing the new store and forcing locals to drive to the Walmart in the next town. Classic monopoly behaviour. Although Amazon is actually aiming at monosopy as well.

David Brin said...

I actually actually have a group actually listening to me re micropayments.

Alfred Differ said...


I think you may have recommended those Atun-Shei videos earlier. I did check a couple of them out and enjoyed them.

What I'm really liking, though, is something Clay Shirky pointed out in a book* a while back. We have a lot of spare time and people today aren't burning it all consuming alcohol or passively watching TV. Many still do burn it, but a significant fraction of us are NOT... and the impacts are adding up.


Alfred Differ said...

Alan Brooks,

He appears to be a far more educated version of the knuckledraggers I’ve known all my life.

He is. Definitely.

He's also in a Dunning-Kruger trap... like so many people.


There is an old joke involving acting on a stock tip given to you by your doctor. Should you or shouldn't you? The punch line explains that the correct action is to sell everything you have at risk. Doctor's are way out of their swimlane when giving investment tips.

When your janitor does it too, sell everything AND short the market if they can't demonstrate they are worth at least $10M.


The Dunning-Kruger result is a smash to the face for those of us who want to claim expertise. It's not that we aren't, but we really should consider whether we have enough friends yanking us away from our delusions before we pontificate on anything.

Unknown said...


A little knowledge = dangerous thing

But the next line is flat wrong. "Drink deep, or touch not the Pierian Spring." Seriously? Quaff all the knowledge you like, folks, but be measured in pontification. Remember Market-Garden.


P.S. I think I did repeat the Atun-Shei recommendation, but a little redundancy seldom hurts

scidata said...

Alfred Differ: we really should consider whether we have enough friends yanking us away from our delusions

Such friends are hard to come by in the modern world because that kind of trust and frankness takes years to develop, not just a series of tweets or quips. It would be wonderful if we could carry around 'pocket' versions of persons who we trust and admire, perhaps like Jeanne d'Arc or Voltaire :)

Alfred Differ said...


I don't think one has to receive the needed criticism only from those closest to our hearts. For example, I trust many here to point out my delusions. I might not agree with them, but it starts with such a small thing as them not being so enamored by them as I am.

Yes... this even applies to Locumranch. He's a smart guy even if he isn't as wise about the world as he thinks he is.


Teachers are taught to explain a thing three times. I learned I had to be willing to arrange six rounds to give my students a chance of remembering everything I had to throw at them.

1. Read the book
2. Watch the lecture
3. Do the homework
4. Study with each other
5. Try to teach each other
6. Create your own exercises like the homework and try them on each other

The last three might seem like the same thing, but watch student study groups awhile and you'll find differences that make a difference.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Teachers are taught to explain a thing three times.

When I have to explain processes at work to a new guy, I always start by saying, "You're not going to remember everything the first time." Learning requires context.

scidata said...

Three more:

5b) explain it so a six year old could understand (Feynman)
6b) do such exercises in BASIC (Kemeny or Brin)
7) record yourself teaching and listen to it (why I hung up my skates after my stroke)

reason said...

scidata - not sure if I understand you correctly - do you admire Jeanne d'Arc or did she carry something around with her in a pocket? Because I personally think Jeanne d'Arc was a nutcase. Classically romantic.

Larry Hart said...


scidata can speak for himself, but I took his specific references to Jeanne d'Arc and Voltaire to be allusions to the Foundation trilogy written by Benford, Bear, and Brin.

Paradoctor said...

You want a pocket Voltaire? There's probably a book out there with that title.

Lena said...


"Drink deep, or touch not the Pierian Spring." Seriously? Quaff all the knowledge you like, folks, but be measured in pontification.

If I am reading Pope correctly, he's saying either be genius or be ignorant, because being in between is dangerous. Utter drivel, like the old Yoda line, "There is no try, there is only do." There is only try, do is what happens when your try is successful. Likewise, there is no one who has complete knowledge of anything, no one who is capable of fully understanding anything. All humans spend their entire lives in a permanent in-between state of some, incomplete knowledge. The more the merrier, of course, but never think that any of us know everything, or even everything that matters, as religious people and political zealots so typically and hubristically do.

Would this count as measured pontification?


Lena said...


Jeanne d'Arc was a nutcase, but it was one gem of an album by Tangerine Dream.


Lena said...

This one's onto something. You have get through half the clip to get to the good stuff, but it's worth thinking about.


Robert said...

You want a pocket Voltaire? There's probably a book out there with that title.

Will this do?

Although I prefer this (not pocket) book:

scidata said...

Larry Hart: I took his [scidata's] specific references to Jeanne d'Arc and Voltaire to be allusions to the Foundation trilogy written by Benford, Bear, and Brin

Ding ding ding - 20 SF points. It'd be a good get-to-know-you question, "Who would you like a portable AI version of?" For me, it'd be Charles (Chuck) Moore, SAO, MIT, Stanford, NRAO, and the inventor of the Forth language. He'd be the best chip designer for the SELDON I because that field has been his main pursuit for decades (NOVIX, F21, GreenArrays, etc, etc, etc). He also hails from Western Pennsylvania, as does one of my shiny new daughters-in-law.

Larry Hart said...


It'd be a good get-to-know-you question, "Who would you like a portable AI version of?"

No question for me. Kurt Vonnegut.

Unknown said...

"What I tell you three times is true."
from "The Hunting of the Snark"

Lewis Carroll (AKA math professor Charles Dodgson)


Alfred Differ said...


The general teaching problem has to include non-science subjects. Imagine trying to use BASIC to grasp Aristotle’s virtue ethic system. Even 6 yo’s have trouble with the social virtues.

I like the record yourself rule. I learned a lot the first time I had to watch myself mumble.😏

scidata said...

Alfred Differ,

John Kemeny had a lot to say about teaching/using BASIC for non-science students* (that was the whole idea actually). It's why I've said before that he was a crude version of a real-life Hari Seldon. And Seymour Papert was obsessed with pushing pixels around the screen to learn about coding, an early David Brin perhaps.

* The only reason psychology students don't have to do more and harder mathematics than physics students is because the mathematicians haven't yet discovered ways of dealing with problems as hard as those in psychology.
- John Kemeny (I believe from his Dartmouth days)

Alan Brooks said...

“What I say three times” is Lewis Carroll’s big contribution. It makes one understand propaganda right away:
by the third repetition, propaganda begins to sink into impressionable minds.
Even here with interlopers. At CB you’ve had ‘evil Ukrainian’ and dirtnapninja repeat the Tsar’s talking points at least three times—until we knew the gist.
LoCum repeats words to the effect concerning the old saw that progress is a religion and intellectuals are the high priests of science.
Three bloggers repeating themselves at least three times, hoping to sow just the tiniest of doubt, to make their efforts appear to them worthwhile.
Putin repeating at least three times that one of the three reasons his forces have invaded Ukraine is to “de-Nazify”.
Hitler wrote on how propaganda is effective if it can be understood by the basest mind. Two or three propaganda bullet points are easy to remember—but four can be a stretch for a base mind to absorb.

scidata said...


Thanks for the Voltaire pocket book link. Some people ridicule me about how pretentious the 'scidata' handle is, so carrying such a book might make it worse (especially since I'd always be referring to it). If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao...

Lena said...

Alan Brooks,

What you are talking about has a name: the Argumentum ad nauseam. And yes, it is a most ancient (and completely fallacious) propaganda technique.


Lena said...

Today's "On Point" is a primer on how America's traitorous executive caste evades taxes. Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts are high on the list.

Which reminds me ...

Dr. Brin,

RE: meritocracy. How often do you think it actually happens, versus how often the word is simply used as cover for pseudoscientific Social Darwinism and/or pseudo-religious Providentialism by our caste of parasitical nepobabies?

Hey, I learned a new word! And in line with Twain's Law of the Hammer, I intend to use it (but hopefully not inappropriately).


David Brin said...

It'd be a good get-to-know-you question, "Who would you like a portable AI version of?"
-->'No question for me. Kurt Vonnegut.'

Better wiriter than me. Better war stories. Less topic range!

"RE: meritocracy. How often do you think it actually happens...:

Sorry, I have benefited from its reality in a dozen areas and fight for it today... because OTHER areas (e.g. Hollywood and policy and of course elite wealth) certainly have stymied me through elite nepotism.

Denying it's possible is demoralizing to the confident campaign of making it prevalent for all.




David Brin said...