Thursday, March 21, 2024

Vernor Vinge - the Man with Lamps on His Brows

They said it of Moses - that he had 'lamps on his brows.' That he could peer ahead, through the fog of time. That phrase is applied now to the Prefrontal Lobes, just above the eyes - organs that provide humans our wan powers of foresight. Wan... except in a few cases, when those lamps blaze! Shining ahead of us, illuminating epochs yet to come.


Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Vernor Vinge

Alas, such lights eventually dim. And so, it is with sadness - and deep appreciation of my friend and colleague - that I must report the passing of Vernor Vinge. A titan in the literary genre that explores a limitless range of potential destinies, Vernor enthralled millions with tales of plausible tomorrows, made all the more vivid by his polymath masteries of language, drama, characters and the implications of science. 

 

Accused by some of a grievous sin - that of 'optimism' - Vernor gave us peerless legends that often depicted human success at overcoming problems... those right in front of us... while posing new ones! New dilemmas that may lie just beyond our myopic gaze. 


He would often ask: "What if we succeed? Do you think that will be the end of it?"

 

Vernor's aliens - in classics like A Deepness in the Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep - were fascinating beings, drawing us into different styles of life and paths of consciousness. 

 

His 1981 novella "True Names" was perhaps the first story to present a plausible concept of cyberspace, which would later be central to cyberpunk stories by William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and others. Many innovators of modern industry cite “True Names” as their keystone technological inspiration... though I deem it to have been even more prophetic about the yin-yang tradeoffs of privacy, transparency and accountability.  

 

Another of the many concepts arising in Vernor’s dynamic mind was that of the “Technological Singularity,” a term (and disruptive notion) that has pervaded culture and our thoughts about the looming future.

 

Rainbows End expanded these topics to include the vividly multi-layered "augmented' reality wherein we all will live, in just a few years from now. It was almost-certainly the most vividly accurate portrayal of how new generations might apply onrushing cyber-tools, boggling their parents, who will stare at their kids' accomplishments, in wonder. Wonders like a university library building that, during an impromptu rave, stands up and starts to dance!

Vinge was also a long-revered educator and professor of math and computer science at San Diego State University, mentoring generations of practical engineers to also keep a wide stance and open minds.

Vernor had been - for years - under care for progressive Parkinsons, at a very nice place overlooking the Pacific in La Jolla. As reported by his friend and fellow SDSU Prof. John Carroll, his decline had steepened since November, but was relatively comfortable. Up until that point, I had been in contact with Vernor almost weekly, but my friendship pales next to John's devotion, for which I am - (and we all should be) - deeply grateful.

 

I am a bit too wracked, right now, to write much more. Certainly, homages will flow and we will post some on a tribute page. 


I will say that it's a bit daunting now to be a "Killer B" who's still standing. So, let me close with a photo from last October, that's dear to my heart. And those prodigious brow-lamps were still shining brightly!


We spanned a pretty wide spectrum - politically! Yet, we Killer Bs - (Vernor was a full member! And Octavia Butler once guffawed happily when we inducted her) - always shared a deep love of our high art - that of gedankenexperimentation, extrapolation into the undiscovered country ahead. 


If Vernor's readers continue to be inspired - that country might even feature more solutions than problems. And perhaps copious supplies of hope.



========================================================


Addenda & tributes


“What a fine writer he was!”  -- Robert Silverberg.


“A kind man.”  -- Kim Stanley Robinson (The nicest thing anyone could say.)

 

The good news is that Vernor, and you and many other authors, will have achieved a kind of immortality thanks to your works. My favorite Vernor Vinge book was True Names." -- Vinton Cerf

 

Vernor was a good guy. -- Pat Cadigan


162 comments:

Allan R said...

Vernor Vinge accomplished the most valuable of things for his reading audience - he got them to think, imagine and wonder. And all the while entertaining them, grandly.

scidata said...

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is one of the venerable computational haunts for Vernor Vinge, Moshe Vardi, Vint Cerf, and even OGH. In the far future, the ACM will be the publication of record for this transitional age.

Dave said...

I had a few passing interactions with Vernor via email, going back 20 years. He forgave me that I hunted his email address via San Diego State University. We talked about upcoming books and how he'd hoped that retiring would help get his books out faster...this was just before the release of Rainbows End.
We're fortunate that we got another Zones novel, Children of the Sky, which I thought was his best work written work, to be honest.
He came across as a happy approachable guy, and I for one will miss him. 😢

Slim Moldie said...

When you already know the story and it still blows you away on a second reading.

For me that's the case with Vernor Vinge. A Deepness in the Sky has to be one of the best second readings of any book I've ever read.

Only gratitude.

LucM said...

He will be very much missed.. The first thing of his that I remember reading was 'the peace war' serialized in Analog.. the right story at the right time. One of my very favorites.

Unknown said...

I'll definitely honor him - another of the Old Guard lost to us. For all his inventiveness and vision, the man also had a way with words; he described animals evolving as iirc "caught in the blowtorch of time" in "Marooned in Realtime". Have to dig out my copy.

Pappenheimer

locumranch said...

Vernor Vinge was a lively mind:

Creative & inventive, he explored a vast range of subjects from the Witling's alternative sensory apparatus to his Realtime & Peace War fantasies to the Rainbow's End potentiality of deliberately destroying our literary heritage in order to save it, a most horrifying image for any bibliophile.

He will be missed.


Best

Hyperion said...

Slim, 100% agree. Deepness is the only book I ever immediately went back to page 1 and reread it. And I loved it more the second time. And still do now after several more return visits over the decades.

Very sad at this news of Vernor's passing.

Darrell E said...

Somehow I never came across Vernor Vinge until relatively late. My first experience of his writing was A Fire Upon The Deep. I picked it up at a bookstore after a couple of hours of combing back and forth through the science fiction section looking for something new, to me, and interesting. Before I was a third of the way through the book I knew Vernor Vinge was going to be on my top 10 list of authors. Finding something so good is rare and always such a great gift when it happens.

It's sad to hear of the passing of a person that has created such wonderful things as A Deepness In The Sky. My sincere condolences to his friends and family. I'll raise a toast in his honor this evening.

locumranch said...

Whereas Dr. Brin's writing style appears to exploit the 'contraryness' of paradox in the pursuit of complexity, Vernor Vinge choose to add complexity through the perversity of satire.

In the previously mentioned Rainbow's End, Vinge's decision to promote literary destruction as a literal act of literary preservation was sheer perversity, and this perversity is evident in many of his other works:

There was the use of (1) a defensive bobble stasis field as a terrifying weapon of war (Peace War, Realtime), (2) an artificial autism virus as a means to simultaneously augment, enslave & dehumanize humanity (Noble Prize, Deepness), (3) the icky-but-humanized spider protagonists with whom the reader must identify (Deepness) and (4) recursion & reiteration as the Macguffin in 'Cookie Monster'.

I recommend his short story collection if you'd witness his development.


Best

David Brin said...

A 1-second sca.... zzzzzz

Susan Macdonald said...

He was a gentleman and a scholar. He was always a pleasure to see at local SF cons. I'm very sorry to hear of his passing.

mcsandberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alistair David Brine said...

Donald Trump is #1 man in USA.

David Brin said...

more zzzzzz

Alistair David Brine said...

We are heading into a technofeudalist world
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/sep/24/yanis-varoufakis-technofeudalism-capitalism-ukraine-interview

duncan cairncross said...

Technofeudelist does not, cannot work.

The "techno" types will not put up with that and simply by knowing how things work they are massively more powerful than "Feudal lords"

David Brin said...

WHile I have many criticisms of the tech-bro zillionaires, especially re the recent AI Panic...

Here's my response to the inane "AI moratorium petition" and a viral "AI Dilemma" TED talk by two smart guys who can see problems, but make disastrous recommendations . https://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2023/04/danger-skai-is-falling.html
...and my June 2022 NEWSWEEK op-ed dealt with 'empathy bots'' that feign sapience. https://www.newsweek.com/soon-humanity-wont-alone-universe-opinion-1717446
...Here also is an expanded version onYouTube:
https://youtu.be/-2GaW5nb3VM

...nevertheless, mad rightist confederates are cult yammering agtainst science in general, along with all fact-using professions, waging all-out war vs ALL fact using professions, from science and teaching, medicine and law and civil service to the heroes of the FBI/Intel/Military officer corps who won the Cold War and the War on terror.

...all in support of their cult's centraol goal. A return to rule by inheritance brats in restored feudalism.

Der Oger said...

Just started with "Fire upon the Deep".
Parkinson is a disease I, personally, fear more than cancer or even dementia.
May he rest in peace, and my sincere condolences to those who knew and loved him.

Larry Hart said...

+ Marjorie Taylor Greene motions to vacate the speakership because Mike Johnson did his job.

+ ISIS attacks within Russia.

I don't know who to root for. :)

Unknown said...

Larry,

Injuries.

Pappenheimer

scidata said...

Did MTG just save Ukraine?
She's forcing Johnson into the arms of the Dems (pardon the pun).

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

forcing Johnson into the arms of the Dems


What would make sense to me, and what I really hope is true, is that Johnson made a deal with the Democrats that they would save his speakership, but he has to advance the bill to fund Ukraine. Or the bill to fund Ukraine and crack down on the border.

Der Oger said...

Technofeudelist does not, cannot work.

The "techno" types will not put up with that and simply by knowing how things work they are massively more powerful than "Feudal lords"


One can argue that the Breshnew era Soviet Union was a feudal technocracy, with the nomenklatura already being privileged and the top rank being filled by engineers and scientists.

But is really unimaginable of having an aristocratic oligarchy with meritocratic elements?
If you can afford an university only if you are wealthy, and if a degree is equal to social status and political power (for example, being able to vote or having a stronger vote like in the 3 Class Election system of the second German Empire).

Or a distant space colony, where engineers or the producers of air recycling engines have a strong political position over more "unproductive elements of the society"?

Or not-so-far-future technoligarchs who control AI who in turn control what you can consume, perceive, learn, believe and vote for?

David Brin said...

Except for HG Wells's THINGS TO COME, there has never been a majorly known appeal for technocracy in the west. Even Oppenheimer's proposed commissions re nukes would have deferred to constitutional democracy. This is largely because science works best - and scientists know this - through competitive-reciprocal error discovery. And top-down control inevitably puts them in positions where errors can accumulate - unless rivalry can be in place.

The world putsch by the Mad Right to restore feudal rule by inheritance brats would guarantee all our dooms. though ironically, the enlightenment side in this desperate struggle is deeply harmed by our own fringe of would-be tyrants - the woke-ist would-be definers of language and all correctness who (like the racist MAGAs) define everything in terms of identy...

... including those who never made Vernor Vinge or Greg Bear or Nancy Kress Grand Masters of science fiction.

locumranch said...

Whether labelled 'techno', 'oligo', 'aristo', 'enlightened', 'professional' or 'fact-using', the preceding language modifiers indicate totalitarian top-down hierarchical systems that are specifically designed to exclude the bulk of humanity from the decision-making process.


Best

DP said...

Wow, just look at all those old geezers.

DP said...

"That phrase is applied now to the Prefrontal Lobes, just above the eyes - organs that provide humans our wan powers of foresight."

Not all of us, thanks to the petrochemical industry causing brain damage to rural folks exposed to extensive Glyphosate (herbicides, pesticides, etc.) applications during prefrontal cortex development. Rural counties are saturated with the stuff.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(23)00255-3/fulltext#:~:text=Finally%2C%20in%20vitro%20studies%20suggest,the%20context%20of%20Parkinson's%20disease
.

Finally, in vitro studies suggest that glyphosate can cause oxidative stress, neuroinflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction, processes that have all been associated with neurodegeneration in the context of Parkinson's disease.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9101768/

Toxic Effects of Glyphosate on the Nervous System: A Systematic Review

The information provided indicates that exposure to glyphosate or its commercial formulations induces several neurotoxic effects. It has been shown that exposure to this pesticide during the early stages of life can seriously affect normal cell development by deregulating some of the signaling pathways involved in this process, leading to alterations in differentiation, neuronal growth, and myelination. Glyphosate also seems to exert a significant toxic effect on neurotransmission and to induce oxidative stress, neuroinflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction, processes that lead to neuronal death due to autophagy, necrosis, or apoptosis, as well as the appearance of behavioral and motor disorders. The doses of glyphosate that produce these neurotoxic effects vary widely but are lower than the limits set by regulatory agencies.

https://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2022/08/new-evidence-shows-roundup-damages-the-nervous-system/

New Evidence Shows Roundup Damages the Nervous System

A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation shows that glyphosate has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier, increasing risk of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s. Research published in Neuroscience Letters links glyphosate exposure to the development of Parkinson’s disease. These effects, separate from the well-documented connection to cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin lymphoma, expose the grave insufficiency of U.S. pesticide regulatory process. Not only does EPA continue to allow glyphosate, it is also allowing the most toxic version of formulated Roundup to continue to be sold to consumers.

DP said...

(cont.)

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35750327/#:~:text=Prefrontal%20cortex%20and%20hippocampus%20of,increasing%20repetitive%20and%20stereotyped%20movements
.

Prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of the offspring were processed to evaluate oxidative stress. Maternal exposure to GBH impaired early social communication, olfactory discrimination, social play behavior, and the exploration of objects, in addition to increasing repetitive and stereotyped movements.

https://today.ucsd.edu/story/commonly-used-herbicide-is-harmful-to-adolescent-brain-function

Commonly Used Herbicide is Harmful to Adolescent Brain Function Herbicides are the most used class of pesticides worldwide, with uses in agriculture, homes and industry. Exposures to two of the most popular herbicides were associated with worse brain function among adolescents, according to a study led by researchers at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at University of California San Diego.

“Many chronic diseases and mental health disorders in adolescents and young adults have increased over the last two decades worldwide, and exposure to neurotoxic contaminants in the environment could explain a part of this increase,” said senior author Jose Ricardo Suarez, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

ironically, the enlightenment side in this desperate struggle is deeply harmed by our own fringe of would-be tyrants - the woke-ist would-be definers of language and all correctness who (like the racist MAGAs) define everything in terms of identy...


True, and at least you included "like the racist MAGAs" there. Too many pundits--Bill Maher among them--blame only the Democrats for identity politics, as if Republicans simply judge everyone on the content of their character. As if "white Christian nationalism" isn't a form of identity politics.

It's just like "political correctness", or "cancel culture", or "terrorism". The right practices their own versions, but we don't call it those things when they do it.

scidata said...

When I say, "doctrine is the mind-killer", I mean it literally. Any form of tribalism, from casual 'in-groups' to full on fascism, is as toxic as Roundup. More so in fact, because it wears a cloak of normal social intercourse.

David Brin said...

“ glyphosate can cause oxidative stress”

I used to take great care using Roundup once a year. Now? I have found the following formula requires use of more volume and two applications, but works almost as well and is made of stuff that’s non-toxic!

1g Vinegar + 1g water + 1 cup salt + 1 tbs dish soap. And I toss in a couple cups of the chlorinator liquid for the pool.

Yeah yeah, salt isn’t great. But in the light and localized schpritzes that I apply to keep weeds down and grass where I want it, I am not worried.

------

LH, sorry but this is wrong: “Too many pundits--Bill Maher among them--blame only the Democrats for identity politics, as if Republicans simply judge everyone on the content of their character. As if "white Christian nationalism" isn't a form of identity politics.”

Jeepers! The man pours 90% of his ire at the Mad Right. Moreover he makes clear his GOALS are the same as most liberals and his riffs vs the woke-ists are all about insanely self-defeating TACTICS that harm their own side. (And if he used the word more… ‘tactics’… he might communicate better.)

Carumba, Larry, Take constructive (if harsh) criticism from an ally. Maher is an asshole – he openly avows and admits it!. But he is almost always also right.

So let me reiterate. My grudge against our side’s own (much, much smaller and far less-dangerous than MAGA) wing of mad sanctimony junkies has nothing to do with disagreement over shared long range goals. Like the goal of a future world in which all children grow up healthy, with opportunities to strive fairly in a wholesome world, not limited by born status and welcome to pursue the (wholly and aggressively American) dream of “I can define who I am!”

My grudge is over how very much harm those junkie/screamers do to the only coalition that can possibly bring about those goals. They betrayed it with those Kremlin agents, Nader & Stein. They are trying now.

Oh, BTW, is L still growling into a mirror? Not looking.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Take constructive (if harsh) criticism from an ally. Maher is an asshole – he openly avows and admits it!. But he is almost always also right.


I am willing to take constructive criticism. I'm not willing to just accept that the right wing isn't guilty of the same sins. Words matter, and if independent or swing voters perceive that "identity politics", "cancel culture," or "terrorism" are things that only liberals do, and that voting for Republicans is a good way to avoid those things, then we're going to lose.

And voters do seem to believe that, because we don't call what happened to Colin Kaepernick "cancel culture." We don't call white Christian nationalism "identity politics". And we don't call violence by white Brownshirts "terrorism".

Trump's Truth Social site gets to claim it doesn't censor speech when it outright bans anything bad said about Trump. There was an old Dilbert gag in which a tv producer claimed that his idea for a show wasn't sexist because "only the men are stupid." Likewise, it's apparently not censorship when "only liberals are banned."

David Brin said...

" I'm not willing to just accept that the right wing isn't guilty of the same sins. "

Good lord man, are you SO desperate to justify a grudge that you will actually use a sentence like that... which you know to be utterly and diametrically opposite to fact?

Larry Hart said...

I don't understand what I said that wasn't backed up by factual examples, but as a good liberal, I'll acknowledge that the failure to communicate might well be my own.

And I apologize for veering the thread off course of the Vernor Vinge tributes, though in my defense I did wait until a whiff of politics had already reared its head.

On the subject, I am fortunate to live in a town with a great library having a decent sized science fiction section. A Deepness In The Sky is definitely on my short list now.

scidata said...

I'm trying to cut costs, so I cancelled by Audible membership. Before doing so, I used all my remaining credits to obtain Vernor Vinge audiobooks (and one more Brin). I'm very thankful for the workarounds to my dyslexia and other reading disabilities. I see that Neuralink's first volunteer (a quadriplegic) is happily playing chess and Civilization VI with his mind controlling the mouse.

In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men.
- Cicero (as quoted in Civ5)

duncan cairncross said...

scidata

My son has just started working as a schoolteacher and we were talking about dyslexia.
He was told that some fonts are much easier for people with dyslexia to read.
When working with a kid with dyslexia he tried changing the font on the boy's laptop
Comic Sans was the one he used - the boy said it made reading much easier.

It may be worth trying a number of other Fonts to see what works best with you.

David Brin said...

Seen on the web.

The first rule of Dunning-Kruger Club ...

... is that you don't know you're in Dunning-Kruger Club.

David Brin said...

LH, please. You claimed that critics of lefty-flake poseur sanctimony police and thereby IGNORING similar faults on the right. How in the world does that follow? You know very well that Maher hurls VASTLY more disses at the Mad right than his TACTICAL criticisms of the smaill, noisy, noisome subset of liberalism. and the same is true tenfold of me.

duncan cairncross said...

Dr Brin and LH

The "problem" (IMHO) is that the "Lefties" absolutely love to "Punch UP" - Tall Poppy Syndrome - so they love to find any fault at all with "The Elite" even (especially) with those that are on their side!

The Right Wing however always "Punch DOWN" - they will be completely blind to any faults in their "Elite" - and will always be nasty to anybody who is "beneath them".

The "left" tries to be so even-handed that they frequently fall over.

OGH for instance expends 10 times as much criticism on the Mad Right as the Loonie Left while a fair and even-handed approach would expend 10,000 times as much criticism on the Mad Right.

scidata said...

duncan cairncross: may be worth trying a number of other Fonts

Absolutely true, thanks. The basic idea is to make the font sort of 'bottom heavy' so it's harder to flip and move around. I've been a poor reader since childhood, and my stroke made it worse. I have other problems I won't go into. The teachers who've helped me are saints. The Cicero quote applies to them too.

Tony Fisk said...

A lecturer for an online course in user interfaces had some things to say on font choices. Common wisdom has it that serif fonts are better for small fonts as the features give the visual cortex more to latch onto. Conversely, larger fonts/headings should be cleaner, and use sans-serif.

However, statistical analyses of people's reading speeds with various serif and sans fonts have found there is, in fact, no discernible difference.

This doesn't mean dyslexic people, as a distinct group, wouldn't benefit from using particular fonts (from what is said, I could hypothesise that the reduced detail may reduce confusion). Nevertheless, it would require a more detailed study to confirm.

I must confess I've never actually delved into Vinge's work, but my condolences on the loss of a friend, David.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Tony

I will echo the others in saying that Vinge is very much worth reading - IMHO definitely one of the top ten ever.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

You know very well that Maher hurls VASTLY more disses at the Mad right than his TACTICAL criticisms of the smaill, noisy, noisome subset of liberalism. and the same is true tenfold of me.


And you know that I didn't criticize you--I specifically applauded that you mentioned that the sins of the left loonies were that they were acting too much like the racist MAGAs. That was meant to differentiate your comment from the kind of thing I was criticizing. The very first one-word sentence in my original response to you was "True." *

I mentioned Bill Maher as an example--not the entirety--of an issue that worries me. That the things the left handles badly are referred to in general discourse by different terms than the equivalent sins of the right, and the negative connotations (for those not already partisan) are all associated with what the left does. So, for example, when the left wants to privilege certain minority groups while the right wants to privilege white Christian men, it is somehow perceived as the left wanting to divide the country. The poor, beleaguered right gets to claim they, in contrast, want to simply unite everyone. White supremacy just doesn't come across as "identity politics" or as a means of dividing.

My concern--"fear" really--is that the message being received by not-yet-committed voters is that if you are uncomfortable with "cancel culture", "identity politics", or "intimidation of those who disagree", then the solution is to vote for the party who cancels the likes of Colin Kaepernick, the party who favors straight white Christians over others, the party who forces election officials to fear for their lives. Because even in grudgingly acknowledging that the right behaves badly, the prevailing narrative doesn't give their bad behavior the same scary names that it gives ours.

And I think duncan nailed it better than I did with his bit above about punching down vs punching up.

* So as not to send anyone on a wild goose chase, here reprinted is my original response which started this off. Emphasis added.


True, and at least you included "like the racist MAGAs" there. Too many pundits--Bill Maher among them--blame only the Democrats for identity politics, as if Republicans simply judge everyone on the content of their character. As if "white Christian nationalism" isn't a form of identity politics.

It's just like "political correctness", or "cancel culture", or "terrorism". The right practices their own versions, but we don't call it those things when they do it.

Larry Hart said...

Tony Fisk:

I must confess I've never actually delved into Vinge's work,


I'm in the same situation. I tend to stick with the authors I'm already comfortable with. But I also listen to recommendations, and will certainly seek out some Vinge after hearing everyone here.

Larry Hart said...

Too good not to share...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2024/Items/Mar24-2.html

G.M. in Laurence Harbor, NJ, writes: Your report about the allegory inherent in The Wizard of Oz was very enjoyable. But these days, if Dorothy, on her travels, met people with no brains, no heart, and no courage, she would not be in Oz; she would be in Mar-a-Lago.

Paradoctor said...

I recall a poll, taken during W's administration, asking if W united the country or divided it. The result of the poll was 50-50!

Larry Hart said...

@Paradoctor,

There was a scene like that in the play "Twelve Angry Men". At one point, the hopelessly deadlocked jury decides to take a vote as to whether keep going, or to tell the judge that they are a hung jury. The vote on that is 6 to 6.

David Brin said...

“OGH for instance expends 10 times as much criticism on the Mad Right as the Loonie Left while a fair and even-handed approach would expend 10,000 times as much criticism on the Mad Right.”

It’s what I do, if you take into account that my wrath at the preeners is over the HARM they do to our side in this phase 8 pf the US Civil War. Anyone who is sincere about winning this fight should be enraged at our own side’s quisling saboteurs.

LH: “ That the things the left handles badly are referred to in general discourse by different terms than the equivalent sins of the right, and the negative connotations (for those not already partisan) are all associated with what the left does….”

You are doing it AGAIN! There is zero truth in these writhes of yours. The rest of your posting on this was just as bad. I am sincerely worried about you, sir.

“Too many pundits--Bill Maher among them--blame only the Democrats for identity politics, as if Republicans simply judge everyone on the content of their character.”

Jesus. I mean what ths… f----? It's like you live on some weird alternate planet.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I am sincerely worried about you, sir.
...
It's like you live on some weird alternate planet.


The alternate planet I live on is one in which every indication is a Trump/Republican victory on a wave of liberal apathy.

If I'm delusional, no one will be happier about that than myself.

David Brin said...

LH you utterly evade even glancing at the thing I claim is deluding you. Can you parse it?

In any event, I seriously doubt His Orange-ness will make it to November. Still, liberal apathy is exactly the thing that gave us Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2026. Apathy in the form of vapid lazy sanctimony junkies .

Paradoctor said...

Dr. Brin:
"I seriously doubt His Orange-ness will make it to November."
From your keyboard to God's monitor. But he might make it that far. Also, what mimetic legacy will he leave?

David Brin said...

Paradox, I WANT him to make it to November. I don't think he has a snowball's chance in Mojave of winning. If he's replaced by Haley all bets are off and HOW he is stopped - by the oligarchy that now rightfully fears him - has me deeply worried. God bless the United States Secret Service.

duncan cairncross said...

As a complete outsider I agree with OGH -
The ideal situation is that the Orange Cockwomble survives to lose the election and by stealing the GOP war chest ensures that a lot of other GOP ratfuckers also lose.

Then you should have four years of a sensible government with the actual ability to fix things.

Unknown said...

Dr. Brin,

I'd be willing to bet that rumpt will make it to the election alive, so I guess that's good for the USA - his grifting org will vacuum up all NRC cash for his own purposes, making it that much harder for all GQP candidates. That assumes he will lose, though, which is not automatic - I estimate his chances at 35%, i.e. 5% less than my estimate for 2016, which he won. (As a Poli Sci/ex-weather forecaster, it's hard for me to say 'this will happen with 100% certainty' unless you are talking about, say, the sea breeze/land breeze wind shifts on the Big Island. Random black swans can cause bird strikes on the aircraft of state).

Pappenheimer, late for bed

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

LH you utterly evade even glancing at the thing I claim is deluding you. Can you parse it?


Funny, I was going to ask you to paraphrase what you think I'm talking about. Seemed a bit impolite, this being your site and all. But I strongly suspect we're each engaged in separate conversations. And I didn't really want to keep yucking everyone's yum by continuing, but since you ask me direct questions, I don't feel it to be impolite to answer.

You (rightly) complained about lefties who, among other things, insist on pigeonholing people by race/ethnicity and turning off reasonable voters with their sanctimony. I agreed with that* and applauded you for mentioning that those lefties are "as bad as the racist MAGAs", whereas (I continued) the mainstream narrative seems to be that identity politics is strictly a Democratic Party thing.

Now this is me trying to paraphrase what came next. I think you heard me assert that you only complain about the left, and that Bill Maher is wrong to point out that the Democrats lose voters over such issues. From then on, everything I said about what I find concerning about the mainstream narrative, you took as direct criticism of yourself.

* separate post to follow

Larry Hart said...

* This is enough of a change of subject that I figured I'd better not muddy the above post with it.

I'd go beyond just the identity politics thing here. Slogans like "Defund the police!" are so obviously going to lose votes that I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were initiated by Republican ratf***ers. Same with "Genocide Joe," although that one is disturbingly catching on.

I live in Chicago--site of the upcoming Democratic convention--so I keep hearing about protesters who blame Biden and the Democratic Party for everything from gas prices to Gaza and seem determined to repeat 1968. Well, back then, the Democratic Johnson administration was not interested in prosecuting the Chicago 7 for their part in the rioting, but the Nixon administration who they helped bring about by "punishing" Johnson went after them with a vengeance. Meanwhile, the change of administration didn't end the war in Vietnam. A lesson that Arab-Americans who are ok with punishing Biden by ushering in Trump would do well to note.

Alan Brooks said...

Know this: the American Right goes by faith, often bad faith, not that which is sensible.

Larry Hart said...

On other topics...

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/23/world/europe/putin-russia-moscow-attack.html

“Our common duty now — our comrades at the front, all citizens of the country — is to be together in one formation,” Mr. Putin said at the end of a five-minute speech, trying to conflate the fight against terrorism with his invasion of Ukraine.


I don't know if something I heard discussed on Saturday's Hal Sparks radio show has been mentioned anywhere else. That being that the band whose concert was the target of the terrorist attack inside Russia was notably against the war in Ukraine, and that the fact that the band remained unmolested by Russian police is unusual. Again, I don't have corroborating proof, but if that premise is correct, then it becomes plausible that Putin may have ignored warnings and let the attack take place in order to kill multiple birds with one stone.

+ Violence and death against an anti-war band and presumably many anti-war fans
+ An excuse to internally blame Ukraine for the attack

I don't claim to know the truth of that premise. Wondering if anyone else has heard from other sources.

David Brin said...

Larry if you can't be bothered to re-read your own words, should I? You have clearly and repeatedly claimed that critics of our side's mad, sanctimony-junkie, coalition-wreckers are ignoring sins of the right. That is stunning baloney.

You know very well that I aim 95%+ of my ire at the Putinist-Confederate traitors. And my complaint about our lefty yammerers is primarily due to the damage that their insane jibbering-tactics do to our common cause. Moreover, you know this is true of Bill Maher, too.

In fact, YOU should be angered at anything that weakens the coalition. Especially the incredibly aggressive sex/gender polemics that are driving both Black and Hispanic males into Republican arms.

David Brin said...

Phantom of the MAGA by the Lincoln Project. Excellent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgoR9DsxR3Q

It sure looks to me like The Never Trumpers are poised to make their move. The GOP Congressmen reesigning inexplicably, for example. It may be wishful thinking. But they could be timing things around the Republican convention... and Haley and Romney. And hell no, I do not want the oligarch-owned Bush wing to come roaring back.

scidata said...

Starship IFT-4 looks set for early May according to both Shotwell and Musk. Both stages already built and cryo-tested. FAA doesn't seem worried. The only real delay is the analysis of IFT-3's data. Shotwell mainly talks about 148 F9 launches this year, while Musk talks about Mars, the solar system, and even interstellar plans. Dizzying.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

if you can't be bothered to re-read your own words,


My own first words to you were "True." and "and at least you included 'like the racist MAGAs' there." Maybe that sounded like sarcasm? It wasn't meant as such.

I am beginning to feel like Steve Sax in this Simpsons bit:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o1RhT-YC78


You have clearly and repeatedly claimed that critics of our side's mad, sanctimony-junkie, coalition-wreckers are ignoring sins of the right. That is stunning baloney.


Maybe that's how it comes across. What I'm trying to say is that the media that most uncommitted voters are getting their information from are doing so. And I'm at a loss for how to combat that in a way that reaches them. They're most likely not reading this blog, or listening to WCPT radio.


Moreover, you know this is true of Bill Maher, too.


If I was completely turned off to him, I wouldn't bother to watch. I guess my reaction to some things Bill Maher says is that I can't tell if their effect is to (as you say) give the Democrats constructive criticism as to how to win back voters, or give the voters tacit permission to be down on Democrats. I don't mean his intent, but what listeners are hearing.

I admit I might be wrong about that.

And yes, some of what he says upsets me because it's true, but it shouldn't be true. For example, I get that voters are turned off by identity politics. I don't get why they're not also turned off by identity politics favoring white Christians. I get why voters are turned off by riots that ensue from BLM protests. I don't get why they're not more turned off by the causes of BLM protests.


In fact, YOU should be angered at anything that weakens the coalition. Especially the incredibly aggressive sex/gender polemics that are driving both Black and Hispanic males into Republican arms.


I am, and I have trouble believing that isn't clear.

I break with many of my fellow liberals over minor issues like whether President Biden said "illegals" to major issues like, "From the river to the sea". And I want to smash the tv when I see Arab groups so full of blame for Biden and Democrats specifically for the war in Gaza that they're willing with eyes open to usher Trump and Republicans back into power in response. Again with the 1968 analogy, Biden is walking a tightrope, but he's listening to their concerns and also not trying to deport them. Trump will be a different story in every way that is bad for their own cause. But again, I have no idea how to reach people that far gone.

Alan Brooks said...

Sometimes it’s a matter of having a long explanation which loses the interest of the MAGA and fellow-traveler.
If you were to start with a question:
‘Is Trump a conservative?’, and go on from there. Rather than a tome,
on “6,000 yrs of feudalism...”

David Brin said...

“Maybe that's how it comes across…”

OMG LOOK at your ACTUAL words! It is exactly what you said, with utter precision.

But also look… I know we are allies and I am coming across as WAY to vehement over what’s a minor matter between compatriots. Still, it is vital that we make very clear that no Nader-Stein or stay-at-home treasons will be accepted and that criticism of self-destructive TACTICS does not make one a MAGA fellow-traveller.

AB: I talk about 6000 years of feudalism because (1) it is THE central issue, and (2) it sidesteps the existing reflexes and defensive talking points. It

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

OMG LOOK at your ACTUAL words! It is exactly what you said, with utter precision.


I reprinted my actual words which said that you said something "True" and that I gave you props for mentioning that MAGA does something similar to the bad things liberals do. I don't understand how that comes off as criticism of yourself.

Maybe I'm too hard on Maher. I will take that possibility into account. Quite possibly, his comments are meant as second-person speaking to Democrats themselves ("You are really bad at this") when I perceive them a third person talking about Democrats to voters ("They are really bad at this."). The former is constructive criticism. The latter is permission to not vote Dem.


But also look… I know we are allies and I am coming across as WAY to vehement over what’s a minor matter between compatriots.


Ok, I'm down with that. I really didn't understand the level of anger. But then, I went through this with Dave Sim two decades ago, going from someone he appreciated interacting with to his mortal enemy on a dime.

So maybe it's me.


Still, it is vital that we make very clear that no Nader-Stein or stay-at-home treasons will be accepted and that criticism of self-destructive TACTICS does not make one a MAGA fellow-traveller.


Then we agree. You demand I look at my own words, and those words pushed back against gender language policing, against the notion that math and logic are white colonialist paradigms, against "Defund the police!", against pearl-clutching over Biden saying "illegals", and probably more against the Arab "abandon Biden" movement than anyone else here. I've even said many times, "[Whatever sanctimony of the moment] won't make me vote Republican, but I can see why it would drive some people that way."

I just wish I knew how to reach those people meaningfully. I mean the ones who would rather be "pure" than win elections. As you can tell, influencing is not my strong suit.

Paradoctor said...

Is Trump a conservative? No. He does not conserve life, or liberty, or property*, or the middle class, or the environment, or norms, or ethics, or rule of law. The same goes for other self-described 'conservatives'. Their very name for themselves is a Big Lie. From that, other lies follow.

But alas! that means that the center-left must be, by default, the 'conservative' faction, in the non-Orwellian sense of the word 'conservative'.



* The Declaration of Independence speaks of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; but earlier drafts had property instead of happiness. I reinstate 'property' because that's more definable.

Tony Fisk said...

As an expression of governing philosophy, the 'conservative' label has come to be as misleading as 'national socialist'.

I often substitute with 'self-servative', which is more accurate, if a little cumbersome.
More recently I'm trialling 'consumptive'.

Alan Brooks said...

If an interlocutor doesn’t lose the thread of the 6000-yrs discussion.
Many are much more interested in what happened 2000 yrs ago.

Paradoctor said...

"Self-servative"?! Very good!
I've tried out the cumbersome phrase "conservative in the Orwellian sense".

Larry Hart said...

Deleted and reposted for grammar...
Tony Fisk:

I often substitute with 'self-servative', which is more accurate, if a little cumbersome.
More recently I'm trialling 'consumptive'.


In the mid 1980s or so, National Lampoon did a parody of USA Today. One of the articles played straight man, pretending that it was confused by the ambiguity of a t-shirt slogan that read, "Secretaries do it with fewer errors." The writer helpfully suggested that they come out with two separate t-shirts, one reading "Secretaries type more accurately," and one reading, "Secretaries make fewer embarrassing mistakes during sex," in order to clarify which one they meant.

In that spirit, "conservative" can mean "Business-friendly" or "Mean to the powerless", but yes, the term itself is ambiguous.

Unknown said...

Larry,

..."conservative" can mean "Business-friendly" or "Mean to the powerless"...


Having lived in Texas, I will state that this is a difference that, as Spock* would say, makes no difference, and therefore is no difference.

Pappenheimer

*The other guy, too. Maybe William James was a Vulcan spy? An illegal alien?

Unknown said...

Long long ago, when I was still poor and dumb enough to hitch rides, I got picked up by the owner of a service station. He was incensed by the idea that the kids of poorer people could get the same health care as his kids.

Pappenheimer

duncan cairncross said...

"Business friendly"

This is the "Conservative" war cry.

"Business friendly" is code for "Rich businessman friendly", despite the two being almost entirely at odds.
Business growth is higher under left-wing governments because they encourage reinvestment of profits in wages, R&D and modernisation, rather than allowing a small number of execs and owners to extract all the money as market rent.
In the same way that spending is actually often lower under left-wing governments, after an initial burst, because preventative maintenance is much cheaper than crisis management.
The right wing does everything by crisis management, because their ideology insists on "saving money" by cutting long-term preventative programs.

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

"Business friendly"

This is the "Conservative" war cry.

"Business friendly" is code for "Rich businessman friendly", despite the two being almost entirely at odds.


True. When conservatives refer to "business", they seem to mean the wealthy, as if the two things were synonymous.

In fact, the two actual tenets of current-day American conservatism can be united into a platform statement which grossly misquotes the Bible. "Afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable."

(I suppose misquoting the Bible could be its own third plank in the platform.)

Darrell E said...

Blogger Larry Hart said...

"In fact, the two actual tenets of current-day American conservatism can be united into a platform statement which grossly misquotes the Bible. "Afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable."

I might have to borrow that on occasion. Very nice.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/25/opinion/trump-al-capone.html

It is easy to see why gangster fables appeal to so many Republican voters today. They are stories of immigrant assimilation and success, laced with anti-immigrant sentiment and rivalry. Their heroes are creatures of the big city — those nests of Republican neuroses — who tame its excesses through force but never forget God or their family along the way. In many ways, minus the murder, they are ideal conservative citizens: enterprising, loyal, distrustful of government; prone to occasional ethical lapses, but who’s perfect?


What do they mean, "minus the murder"?

Der Oger said...

@ Larry:
I don't claim to know the truth of that premise. Wondering if anyone else has heard from other sources.

It was about the band Pik Nik, one of the oldest and renowned rock bands in Russia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picnic_(band)

What is not mentioned in the Wiki is that a Donetsk Republic offical (shortly before being killed in a bomb blast) lauded the band as a supporter of VP, and I doubt that any known dissident artist would get that big of a place for their concert. Especially after that infamous decadent party that led to a moral outcry at the start of the year.

Also, one of the band members (the drummer, I believe) posted some quite racist stuff vs non-russian ethnicities, declaring them as "Trans-Ukrainians".

My personal conclusion is while I rule not out that the whole affair was a staged attack, it might have had the same ingredients like September 7 attack:Institutional arrogance and overreliance on means of intelligence ISIS has learned to circumvent.

Also, if the reports of defections and purges and the adversarity of the different services are true, the FSB might not be as strong as it was a year or two ago; I could also imagine that waging war in Ukraine, an informal one against the whole west, operations in Africa and clamping down on the opposition rather stretches your remaining ressources thin.

David Brin said...

LH: “I reprinted my actual words which said that you said something "True" and that I gave you props for mentioning that MAGA does something similar to the bad things liberals do. I don't understand how that comes off as criticism of yourself.”

LH This is a bizarro conversation. I said nothing about taking personal offense. My complaint was about your blanket declarations that critics of the worst woke-bullies IGNORE the same faults perpetrated by the mad right. I have meticulously explained how this is delusional and silly. I’ll not do it again.

Move on. I liked: . "Afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable."

Though the MASTERS of the right are likely no very racist. The powerful have no reason to fear or hate the powerless. The great untold truth in today’s politics is that the powerful are using media etc to attack their rivals who prevent absolute power… nerds. A nightly and daily campaign of hate… all-out war vs ALL fact using professions, from science and teaching, medicine and law and civil service to the heroes of the FBI/Intel/Military officer corps who won the Cold War and the War on terror.


AB the core point about 6000 years is the blatant fact of all that time, that it was dominated everywhere by brutal males called kings and lords who repressed everyone below them. The worst MAGA knows this. And those with intellect (or pretensions) can have their noses rubbed in the hypocrisy of “Tea Party” attempts to co-opt the US Revolution which was *against* Kings & nobles of the sort who Adam Smith denounced and who ruined progress for 60+ centuries.

Rightists try to call ‘socialism’ the great enemy of freedom and market competition. Confronting this lie with 99% of human history is useful.


Duncan good point, “"Business friendly" is code for "Rich businessman friendly", despite the two being almost entirely at odds.”

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

My complaint was about your blanket declarations that critics of the worst woke-bullies IGNORE the same faults perpetrated by the mad right.


I said that many do but I think you heard "All of them do".

My concern is that that's the message voters are getting from the information sources they are most likely to be paying attention to.


I liked: . "Afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable."


I can't claim it as original, but I'm happy to pass it foreword, and I think I was the first to characterize it as the Republican's Party's platform.


Though the MASTERS of the right are likely no very racist.


We've discussed this before. I get that the masters don't need to be particularly racist themselves, but I do believe that much of their popularity derives from racism among voters. Donald Trump in particular seems to have given people tacit permission to let their inner deplorable out in public, and 30-40% of the country loves that about him.

scidata said...

The problem with all the extraordinary pre-trial and interlocutory appeals that have been granted is that DT now thinks that endless baseless delay is his right. It was laughable when he said they'd appeal the April 15th start date on the basis that the jury pool has been tainted by all the vitriol and name-calling. At least he's aware that even a single criminal conviction will be das ende.

April is the cruelest month...
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you

David Brin said...

Any of you have a New York Times pass? Is this a good obit? https://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26tier.html

mcsandberg said...

There is a way around the New York Times paywall. Turn off Javascript in your browser. This also works for a lot of other paywalls.

David Brin said...

Can this crazy implausible assertion actually be true? "A conservative estimate of 10 billion medical examinations per year worldwide implies that medical imaging accounts for approximately 1% of the overall carbon footprint. In 2016, CO2 emissions from magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography, calculated in 120 countries, accounted for 0.77% of global emissions. A significant portion of global greenhouse gas emissions is attributed to health care, which ranges from 4% in the United Kingdom to 10% in the United States. Assessment of carbon cost should be a part of the cost-benefit balance in medical imaging."

?!?!?!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9820937/

Alan Brooks said...

Yes, numerous MAGAs do know about ‘6000 yrs...’
however they are not those who you would wish to reach. You want to attempt to communicate with more undecided-sorts—that is to say the less-decided:
Marginal Never-Trumpers.
They mostly tune out the 6000 yrs talk. But you can place doubts in their minds re Trump’s ties to Russian authoritarianism. (Or is it edging into totalism now?)
Provided you keep it simple: saying Putinism is Tsarism filtered through Communism filtered through Russian nationalism, sans Christianity.
Putting a fine point on the lack of Christianity.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin
That report talks about an MRI producing 30 kg of CO2 - from the energy used

The USA is about 4 kwh per Kg of CO2 - so that would mean that an MRI used 120 kwh of electricity
Assuming that the MRI takes half an hour that would be a power consumption of 240kw.

(1) That sounds very high to me
(2) The solution is to move to renewable energy where the CO2 emissions are close to zero

The actual number of measurements sounds very high

The USA has 40 MRI machines per million people - which is twice as high as the "norm".

10 billion examinations per year - at 10/MRI machine per day - 2500/year would require 4 million MRI machines or about one machine per thousand people - or 25 times the number of machines per million that the USA has.

Sounds to me like numbers pulled from a bodily orifice.

scidata said...

Computed tomography is a pig. An eye clinic I went to for years had an on-going struggle to keep up with their computational power needs. I offered my considerable expertise in distributed compute, but they didn't bite*. As with all computers, increased power only leads to increased features, resolution, and speed, so you never get ahead of the game.

* I may have mentioned FORTH, which is an immediate deal breaker. Sparse knowledge matrices are the key, but again, that's not what they hear from vendors and consultants. Nvidia has effectively brainwashed the world.

Alfred Differ said...

The MRI numbers I'm seeing suggest standard scanning consumes closer to 28 KWH running at about 25 KW. Some of the more demanding scans can run at closer to 75 KW.

Apparently there is an argument going on about how sustainable MRI and other imaging tech really is. If they were serious about it, though, they'd be more worried about the helium supply than the CO2 generated. We can shift to greener energy supplies.

The article is a review of other papers with data non-sharable due to privacy laws. One can ask for the data, but they can't just openly publish it.

Alfred Differ said...

scidata,

Nvidia has effectively brainwashed the world.

Almost. Seems Apple disagrees with them for some reason. Maybe the notion that one of their thin laptops can't be expected to deliver 750 Watts to a video card? Heh.

Sparse knowledge matrices are the key...

That might wash with an Nvidia competitor, but end consumers often look at us nerds as starry-eyed. 8)

Cari Burstein said...

David Brin wrote:
Any of you have a New York Times pass? Is this a good obit? https://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26tier.html

Always happy to share a gift link so you can judge for yourself:
https://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26tier.html?unlocked_article_code=1.f00.fT3q.XyEoIuiav4Ld&smid=url-share

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncriss:

10 billion examinations per year...


I don't even get one MRI every year, and I already have back issues. It strains credulity that every man, woman, and child on six continents could be having more than one per year on average.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

They didn't claim 10 billion MRI's. The abstract mentioned 10 billion examinations. Further down the paper they get to a rough estimate for contributions related to various kinds of imaging techniques.


The nutshell version of the statistics is that our healthcare sector accounts for somewhere between 4% and 10% of our CO2 emissions. (Lower in some countries... 10% in the US.) Of that share, about 10% is due to medical imaging techniques like MRI and its relatives... so about 1% of the US CO2 emissions from imaging.

To get that all to work, they have to estimate what the CO2 costs are for each KWH consumed and that varies a great deal depending on where the imaging is done.

------

There IS a fair point they make, though. We take into account the environmental issues around X-rays and other forms of nuclear medicine. They are argue for an extension of that attention to consider CO2 emissions associated with certain equipment that requires a lot of power... which means imaging.

If you are having a hard time imagining all those imaging numbers being real, take a peek into what doctors want to know about your heart AFTER you've had a heart attack. Now think about how many of us are obese.

Even without a heart attack, my doctors wanted a good look at my heart under stress before they'd do the surgery to remove my colon cancer. There is a LOT of imaging going on.

David Brin said...

Here's another paper claiming to support the notion that medical scans aretruly energy gluttons and polluters.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30415627/

David Brin said...

Ah, thanks, Cari. I thought that link was to a NYT obituary of Vernor.

scidata said...

One Canadian obit for Vinge mentions OGH's referencing his optimism:
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/vernor-vinge-dies-hugo-award-213829901.html

David Brin said...

“Yes, numerous MAGAs do know about ‘6000 yrs...’ however they are not those who you would wish to reach. You want to attempt to communicate with more undecided-sorts—that is to say the less-decided:Marginal Never-Trumpers.”

Have YOU done the experiment?
Because I have, scores of times.
And EVERYONE – even ill-educated – will readily concede that history was nearly all kings and inheritance brat lords across nearly all of history.

Carumba, they have seen nothing but that in all their movies! They all concede it, the minute you point it out…

... though with great and growing discomfort, because they can see where it’s going. It's one of those "everyone knows' things that corners them.

Alfred Differ said...

The way I see it...

Socialism is AN enemy.
Feudalism is THE enemy.


We can tolerate the first for a while because it doesn't work in its strictest form and doesn't inflict brain damage in its weaker forms.

We can't tolerate the second because it doesn't work AND does brain damage at all levels.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

because it doesn't work AND does brain damage at all levels.


Feudalism doesn't work as a system for governing. It does work as a system for perpetuating itself, though. That's why it has to be killed aborning, because it is difficult to kill later.

Darrell E said...

I think the best answer to the medical imaging carbon cost issue is to reduce energy production carbon emissions. We need more and less expensive medical imaging, not less. No doubt advances in science and technology will lead to less power hungry imaging machines over time as well.

Larry Hart said...

You've probably heard about this by now. It's a real thing:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2024/Items/Mar27-3.html

In yet another sign that, despite the market capitalization of Trump Media & Technology Group, Trump does not expect to realize any money anytime soon, he announced his latest grift yesterday. It's a partnership with country music singer Lee Greenwood; the two men are peddling a Bible that they call the King Donald... er, the God Bless the U.S.A. Bible. It's got the King James NIV text, along with the text of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance. It also comes with a cheap-looking leather cover stamped with an American flag. It can be yours for the low, low price of $59.99. You do have to wait 4-6 weeks for delivery, so you'll also have to find something to fulfill your Biblical needs until then.


Ok, I hate to put something out there that could actually generate money for Trump, but you know what would really sell, possibly to foes as much as to supporters? A book on tape of Donald Trump actually reading the Bible cover to cover. You heard it here first.

reason said...

Larry oh come on, that would be work! He doesn't do that.

Tim H. said...

Larry, it'd need to be the KJV for a "Drumph!" narrated audio version, imagine the entertainment implicit in that husk attempting to pronounce Elizabethan english.

Larry Hart said...

Tim H:

imagine the entertainment implicit in that husk attempting to pronounce Elizabethan english.


It can't be any more incomprehensible than some of his latest ramblings in modern English.

But I'm thinking that hearing him intone, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," would by itself be worth the cost.

David Brin said...

LH I shall spread the meme. Donnie reading the Bible aloud.

---
Alfred: “Socialism is AN enemy.
Feudalism is THE enemy.”

“We can tolerate the first for a while because it doesn't work in its strictest form and doesn't inflict brain damage in its weaker forms. We can't tolerate the second because it doesn't work AND does brain damage at all levels.”

Well said.

I would add that the question has several dimensions. Another is WHICH socialism? Tight control of the economy and govt puppetting of top corporations? China thinks they can make this last. It’s modified Leninism and likely will eventually fail, but above all drifts into feudalism.

Socialism that aims to uplift all children to full potential and to maximize delivery of talent into competitive markets that are flat-fair ? That’s Adam Smith socialism that works very well with market creativity and the greatest enemy of feudalism.

Alan Brooks said...

Not everyone is an intellectual; some Know albeit don’t think much on it. They think more about spring training and season’s tickets, than feudalism and oligarchy.
It is true that I talk more with the less educated on a regular basis, rather than academics. The less-educated know, naturally, about 6000 yrs...yet they vaguely assume such hierarchy is *only natural*, they believe stratification is necessary as it fits in with their syncretizing of social Darwinism and varying degrees of religiosity.
Religiosity in their scheme is a backdrop to social Darwinism; their witch’s brew of vulgar might-makes-rightism, Natural Law, plus sophisticated rightist politics. I met Dinesh D’Souza twice: he is emblematic of the latter. Perhaps you’ve interacted more with his type of sophisticate.
As Limbaugh did, D’Souza knows his politics are fleeting, but he justifies it by it being sold in the Marketplace of ideas.

If you were to do a mind-meld with them, you’d discover they strongly believe the public wants, nay, demands, they be told that there are permanent things in their lives—when maybe there are not.

Larry Hart said...

Alan Brooks:

you’d discover they strongly believe the public wants, nay, demands, they be told that there are permanent things in their lives


I don't remember the source now, but a while back, this blog discussed some right wing pundit who insisted that there was a Constitutional right "not to have things change".

I'd be on board with that if it meant I could remain 29 years old forever. But time and entropy are real things.

scidata said...

By career happenstance (glorified repairman), I've spent a lot of time in the company of astronomers and biologists. If laymen knew the shocking truth about deep space, deep time, and deep complexity, it would scare them sh|tless. I sometimes think it had something to do with my stroke (blew my mind).

David Brin said...

"Was the 2020 election stolen? Job interviews at RNC take an unusual turn" (WaPo) it appears the RNC now requires employees or potential employees to assert The Big Lie is true. A conscious and indefensible attack on US democracy.

I expect the Romney-Bush-Cheney-Haley wing - supported by an oligarchy that is now fearful of MAGA brownshirts - to make some kind of move fairly soon.

Then there's this https://www.meidastouch.com/

"Millions Being Set Aside by RNC to Challenge 2024 Election. This could make 2020 look like a picnic."

So? We gotta make the margins huge.

David Brin said...

AB: "The less-educated know, naturally, about 6000 yrs...yet they vaguely assume such hierarchy is *only natural*, they believe stratification is necessary as it fits in with their syncretizing of social Darwinism and varying degrees of religiosity."

Yes for some. Others CAN be hammered with the pure fact that the US Revolution was totally and purely against that feudal crap and that ALL of their comforts arise from the creative civ we built to escape feudalism.

Here's the deal. The fact that you can dismiss the former types as hopeless does NOT mean you can be excused arguing with the latter. Because all we need to do is peel another million Americans from the mad GOP and their demographic collapse will ensue.

You are committing a major logical fallacy. The '6000 years of feudalism' argument DOES work on some. I have used it effectively. And those who are swayed by it change their minds.

Alfred Differ said...

If you were to do a mind-meld with them, you’d discover they strongly believe the public wants, nay, demands, they be told that there are permanent things in their lives—when maybe there are not.

Mmm. I'd say this is almost right. Where I glitch is this part. "..they be told..".

I'd admit they WANT there to be permanent things
I'd admit they WANT those above them to tell them that it is so.
... But they WON'T WANT to be told that some things wanted by other people are permanent. Especially THOSE people.

Said this way, I'd argue it's a truism about humans. We want what we want.

------

...they vaguely assume such hierarchy is *only natural*...

Yah. Except it isn't.

Humans evolved as nomadic hunter-gatherers. Lethal force is REQUIRED to impose the 'natural' hierarchy where kings and priests rule. 6000 years of history show this because those 6000 years of history are chock full of people getting upset enough to kill kings and priests... who then suppress peasant rebellions on top of their earlier atrocities.

Darrell E said...

Trumpism, same as it ever was.

"The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other.

This technique is as old as the hills; it was practiced in almost every Greek city, and the moderns have only enlarged its scale."

[Bertrand Russell: "Freedom and Government", from a collection of essays compiled and edited by Ruth Nanda Anshen, titled “Freedom: Its Meaning”, Harcourt Brace, 1940]



I thought I knew my Bertand Russell pretty well, but I'd never come across that gem till just recently.

scidata said...

Darrell E: [Russell] fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent

And the two fronts require entirely different counter-tactics. That's the advantage of diversity.

Alan Brooks said...

It works on the more educated; the less-educated might not have much else to spiritually uplift them but the glories of the past, and it’s kings & knights in shining armor. Biblical history is very popular. (Their local sports team can be seen as gladiators smiting the weaker team.)

The gist of what D’Souza had to impart: the majority of the public can’t live without olde time fairy tales of different sorts.
So he, he asserted, is only there to fill a niche: the conservative-shaped hole in every heart.
“Blacks can’t compete,” he added incongruously, “but Jews can.”
The overarching message from his educated ilk is Perotian: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Alan Brooks said...

But also quasi/pseudo religiosity: natural being defined as closer to the deity.
A peasant is meek (God-fearing) because he is out standing in his field—closer to nature, thus supposedly closer to Providence.

David Brin said...

AB: "It works on the more educated; the less-educated might not have much else to spiritually uplift them but the glories of the past, and it’s kings & knights in shining armor"

You are simply wrong, wrong, wrong about this. Worse, you express contempt for plumbers and such who sincerely think 'socialism' is the enemy without putting 2&2 together. When they are remineded that kings etc repressed freedom vastly more, some of them DO ponder it and go "Huh. I never thought of that."

Seriously, man, are you aware that kind of contempt is one of the reasons such plumbers hate us?

Alan Brooks said...

Specifically it would be confirmed MAGA plumbers, and others, I would be referring to. Because their loyalty to Trump verges on that to royalty.

locumranch said...

Plumbers, tradesmen & other MAGA types hate you because they self-identify as 'People Who Do Things', whereas those who self-identify as the 'People Who Know Things' are often fantasists who mistake inactive knowings for active doings.

That active doings & immaterial mentalities are NOT the same, this is gist of what Pappy's service station owner was trying to express, and it's the fatal flaw in most every socialism, equity & wealth redistribution scheme:

Why do anything at all if only the parasitically inactive non-doer benefits?

I'm quite familiar with this mindset, as this was a primary motivator behind my early retirement and, in my humble opinion, it is also the most likely reason why Dr. Brin hates so hard on the indolent 'do nothing' parasites who sit on top of the feudal social hierarchy.

But, what's the use of rebelling against feudal oppression from above (aka 'an elite tyranny') if we are to allow ourselves to succumb to parasitical oppression from below (aka 'Tyranny of the Majority') ?

And, thusly, I say that we must free ourselves from both types of obligatory oppression in the simultaneous manner.


Best

David Brin said...

Someone let me know when he actually says something un-noxiously dumb?

---

AB: You just keep doubling down on the excuse not to try. I understand laziness. But we cannot afford it.

The simple fact is that you are wrong, wrong, wrong. Our neighbors fall into a very wide range and millions are in the confederate camp NOT because they are racist assholes or dedicated cultists (like the majority of today's Republicans) but because no one is bothering to confront their contradictions and beckon them back into the light.

ALL of the methods I prescribe HAVE WORKED from time to time. Not a MAJORITY of the time. But we do not have to win over a majority of delusional MAGAS. The whole thing teeters on the edge of demographic collapse.

WHen/if Romney and the Bushites make their play, it will show what I mean. If they ever find the guts.

Unknown said...

Dr. Brin,

Sorry, not getting out of the boat re: reading Loc, unless you approve hazard pay.


I spent a lot of shift time in the USAF (sometimes there is no weather to speak of) pushing back against the right wing BS all around me, and I think I got maybe 1 guy to stop and think. If you were contradicting their religious beliefs (i.e. 2nd amendment) their brains dismissed any words that entered their ears. Now that I'm retired, well, I don't get out as much, except to SCA shindigs, where the MAGA is rarer.

Alan,

I got an AF Airman's Handbook when I first joined up and it tried to justify RHIR=RHIP by saying, in essence, that this was the natural order of things. I have rarely been so incensed. It'd be possible to accept that lie if you didn't know about hunter/gatherer life

Pappenheimer

(sometimes "Last king strangled in the guts of the last priest" sounds like a good idea to me...)

locumranch said...

Since US MRI imaging technologies require copious amounts of liquid helium for cooling purposes and the Biden Administration just sold off the entire US Strategic Helium Reserve to a privately-held German company, you won't have to have to worry about the potentially adverse effects of medically imaging on Climate Change for much longer because No Helium Means No further MRI Imaging which translates as a 'win-win' development for the Green New Deal as long as you & everyone you care about doesn't require any life-saving medical imaging.

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/us-just-sold-helium-stockpile-s-medical-world-worried-rcna134785

Cheers

Alan Brooks said...

Majority of the rightists I’ve talked (and still do, DB) with are religiously-oriented—so can’t say anything re the Right as a whole. But OGH probably has no more success at communicating with them than we do.

Alan Brooks said...

No sir, I continue attempting to communicate with that are sane. But my experience has always been that interfering with their comfort zones is counterproductive and stirs up hostility, negating substantial progress.
Thus for diplomacy’s sake, have to give in here ‘n there. “Maybe you’re right about that,”
(When I’m thinking how they are Rightist instead.)

Tim H. said...

Many of the absurdly wealthy see democratically elected government as unworthy of their obedience and use their wealth to subvert it, especially any measure that aids people they perceive as unworthy. The MAGA simultaneously share, and are victimized by these beliefs. They hope "Drumph!" can revive the working middle class*, but only for them.**

*That generations of (Formerly) GOP has seen as unworthy of good fortune.
**I wouldn't recommend holding your breath waiting for that to happen.

Darrell E said...

No, the Biden administration did not just sell off the Federal Reserve of helium. The sale is ten years in the making and is the result of a bipartisan bill introduced and passed, nearly unanimously in both houses, in 2013. In other words, its the law. The White House, no matter who might by occupying it, does not have the authority to prevent the sale and in fact is obligated to facilitate it. That is the executive's primary mandate, to execute laws enacted by Congress. RP administrations don't seem to have any qualms about ignoring that mandate, but for better or worse DP administrations do. (Which party is supposed to be conservative? I get confused these days.)

The sale does not mean that the helium is going somewhere else. Regardless of this sale, which the industry has known about for 10 years, supply of helium has already been bordering on a crisis. Prior to this sale helium had already gone up in price by about 400% over the past 10 years and has frequently been on allocation.

Most MRIs installed and working today require 1,700 to 1,800 liters of liquid helium, and they must be steadily replenished with additional helium. In other words it is a consumable. The newest MRIs available require a mere 1 to 7 liters and do not need to be replenished. However, owners are reluctant to replace existing units with the newer ones because the cost is significant.

Paradoctor said...

Darrell E:
"Which party is supposed to be conservative? I get confused these days."
Fear not: for here is clarification. The R's are pseudoconservative, or in other words "conservative in the Orwellian sense".
This has been a public service clarification.

scidata said...

The labels the media use are lifted straight out of "American Politics for Dummies" 1956 edition.

Darrell E said...

Paradoctor,

Thank you, that works well. I'd also considered "neo-neo-con," or maybe "neo-neo-neo-con?" But that's pretty unwieldy and unclever.

Oh, of course Jung had this covered already. Old Carl coined the word "Enantiodromia," meaning "the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time."

Der Oger said...

@Alfred:

Socialism is AN enemy.
Feudalism is THE enemy.


That is always mixed up in the debate. The two terms describe fields on different axis - Control of the Markets vs. Uncontrolled Markets; Authoritarianism vs. Anarchy.

Socialist/Communist systems can become feudal (see North Korea, which is in essence an absolutist monarchy with communist trappings now). Feudal states in the near east have some socialist elements (eg Morocco, Saudi Arabia) to ensure social stability and protection from third powers.Cuba could be a successful socialist state without feudal trappings if it were not for the US embargo (which is still in place for US domestic reasons and feudalist Cuban family clans' lobbying). Argentina which might become a radical free market but also a feudal police state, like Pinochets Chile. The PR of China is far less socialist in terms of social security than the US and so on.

The whole "left-right" debate itself is a dumbification of the masses.

Larry Hart said...

Well, this is one thing that the Republican Party wants to conserve:

https://www.theunpopulist.net/p/the-rights-infatuation-with-fascist?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

...
"The longer I’ve listened to conservatives talk about Hungary, Russia, ‘wokeness,’ ‘the deep state,’ abortion, immigration, and media bias, the more I’ve become convinced that many of their arguments are not novel. … If anything, the opposite is true: these arguments represent an act of conservation, preserving in a kind of rhetorical alembic grievances and apprehensions that can be traced all the way back to World War I."

Many of today’s conservatives see Viktor Orbán as an inspiration—just as their ideological forebears composed sonnets for Kaiser Wilhelm, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and Augusto Pinochet. By Heilbrunn’s account, “the right’s hostility to democracy is not new. It never went away in the first place.”
...

Alan Brooks said...

Not that a 6000-yrs-of-feudalism discussion won’t succeed with Some. However my experience has always been that such is considered future-babble by circa ninety five percent of rightist interlocutors. They imply: if the situation has continued for millennia, little can be done. (And 6000 yrs doesn’t include pre-history.)
Majority of religious I have spoken with appear to want Feudalism-Lite; but their innermost thoughts on the subject are, naturally, kept to themselves. Except when they become angered—
then they’ll say exactly what they think.

Alfred Differ said...

Alan,

They imply: if the situation has continued for millennia, little can be done.

Yah. Many said that about kings, yet here we are today without a king. We've been without one for a few generations, so putting one back in place would be the violation of continuity.

...ninety five percent of rightist interlocutors.

So be it. That leaves 5% to peel away and that is all we need to win elections. Seriously. That's enough for now.

Alfred Differ said...

Der Oger,

The two terms describe fields on different axis...

At the start I'm inclined to agree. Later on, though, they become the same. The problem occurs when stricter socialism fails and people ratchet up on the amount of force they'll tolerate to continue denying that failure. For example, there are people who feel that some of the world's injustices are caused by billionaires, so they would take their property. It is POSSIBLE the billionaires are to blame, but the REMEDY they propose involves more force in response to perceived inhumanity. It is easy for us to blame people before a consensus arrives regarding actual causes.

That's why I say we can tolerate some forms of socialism for a while. We can resist the blame game for a time, but righteous indignation eventually sucks us in toward solutions that involve coercive force. Once we normalize coercion, we are back near the feudalist attractor.

The whole "left-right" debate itself is a dumbification of the masses.

Completely agree. For me it is mostly a matter of how much we can tolerate our neighbors doing things we find repugnant... or just dumb. If I could possibly be wrong (I'm sure I am) then tolerating such things means I'm tolerating possible corrections. It's REALLY hard to do.

Alfred Differ said...

...natural being defined as closer to the deity.

Argh. THAT is the nutshell issue I have with faith systems that include gods and supernatural access to knowledge. People who do this permit things in their epistemology that explain the ineffable as some god's purpose. There is a 'reason' for all things.

No. Natural is NOT something closer to the deity. That would make it supernatural for which I have no room in my ontology, thus no need to justify in my epistemology.


Tolerating mathematical inconsistencies enables us to prove anything. That irritates me to no end... no matter the domain in which we do it.

(I shall go outside now and enjoy the sunny day. I'll be calmer when I return.) 8)

Larry Hart said...

On Vernor Vinge, I decided against the library route and went online to Barnes and Noble to order A Deepness in the Sky. I hadn't realized that it was #2 in a series, and that both books are literally weighty tomes. I now have enough new reading material to get through the summer.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Many said that about kings, yet here we are today without a king.


In America, we borrow the British royalty when we need a fix. All of the celebrity and none of the submission.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Natural is NOT something closer to the deity. That would make it supernatural...


...which is a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

:)

scidata said...

Two minutes to first pitch of Blue Jays game #1. Priorities.

reason said...

Alfred, do you really think Billionaires don't use coercive force? The problem with the amount of power they have is that it is unaccountable.

Alan Brooks said...

You may well be better at explaining it them; I’ve reached a cul de sac in trying to discuss these metaphysical matters in the vernacular of the peasantry.

Unknown said...

iirc, The Musk was able to use his control of Starlink to derail a planned Ukrainian military operation.

Vernon Vinge seemed to suggest in at least one book that armed organizations like 'USAF, Inc.' could operate as service industries rather than becoming centers of political power. I liked his writing over all, but wishing away all government seems more like a pipe dream than hard SF. Having a billionaire who can put a guided bomb on your house, rather than a government, seemed to me to be one of those 'differences that make no difference'.

Pappenheimer

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

…which is a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

Exactly what I was thinking when I went "ARGH". 8)

I hadn't realized that it was #2 in a series…

They are independent enough that it really doesn't matter what order you read them in. For that book, though, I couldn't decide if it was more horror or science fiction. He was TOO good at describing a focused state, so I kept looking up over the top of my book at my autistic son and shivering.


reason,

Alfred, do you really think Billionaires don't use coercive force?

Some do. Most don't. The more typical abuses for which they can be accurately accused are:

1) Using their money to advocate for twists of the rules that distort markets in their favor,
2) Using their money to attract the attention of potential allies who actually ARE willing to coerce others if paid well.

One complication is that people who are willing to coerce… and do it well… can become billionaires. The inverse is not generally true, though.



Alan,

You may well be better at explaining it them…

I'm not, but I can usually talk to them without getting punched in the nose. If they find they can tolerate me to some degree, THAT'S when I mention Matthew 5:16 and how it generalizes. 8)


Pappenheimer,


The Musk was able to use his control of Starlink to derail a planned Ukrainian military operation.

Meh. Some see it that way, but what he did made business sense. His customer wanted to weaponize StarLink. He said No.

The upshot of this is our DoD is buying their own StarLink constellation now. From SpaceX. It will be called StarShield and they just lofted the first couple of test satellites the other day. You can see SpaceX HR postings for StarShield related jobs if you check out their hiring ads.

There WILL BE a military version of the constellation in operation soon. Fully classified. Moderate bandwidth. It will seriously change the way the US manages most of its combat assets.

scidata said...

One more thought on Bertrand Russell. His archives are housed at McMaster University, my oldest son's alma mater. So, I'm not going to quarrel with his words, except to say that I'm not willing to label an entire population as fools. Either we all get to the stars or none of us do*; diversity is a survival selector.

* that applies to all dimensions, not just politics.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"…which is a different thing, in fact the opposite thing."

Exactly what I was thinking when I went "ARGH". 8)


My work is done, apparently.

Elucidating a bit on the subject, though...


Natural is NOT something closer to the deity.


In general conversation, people use the word "natural" to mean something along the lines of "the way things would happen without intelligent interference." Humans have the intelligence to impose our will on the universe (to a limited extent) and shape events with intent. That shape is (therefore) not "natural". If no intelligence interferes, then the things that happen are just the way things are. It's why we treat hurricanes and tornadoes differently than we do terrorist attacks, even though the former may do more damage. The terrorist attack is enemy action, while the "natural" disasters are happenstance. The latter doesn't aim itself at us to do harm. They're unfortunate, but merely "natural".

Whether or not the word is appropriate, I think that's what people mean when they use the word "natural".

Now, if one is predisposed to think of the world as God's creation, then it makes a certain amount of sense to equate "natural" (in the above sense) with "closer to the deity." It's closer to what the deity set into motion, untainted by influences other than the Creator's vision.

David Brin said...

The actual preliminaries for the helium sale were done by Trump's commerce dept.

OTOH the happiest ending would be for the thieves to lose, bigtime: "Researchers have discovered a large gas reservoir boasting extremely high concentrations of helium that could boost a dwindling global supply in Minnesota's Iron Range."

https://www.livescience.com/planet-earth/geology/scientists-just-discovered-a-massive-reservoir-of-helium-beneath-minnesota

David Brin said...

“That is always mixed up in the debate. The two terms describe fields on different axis - Control of the Markets vs. Uncontrolled Markets; Authoritarianism vs. Anarchy.”

Sorry der Oger, that is wrong. Both socialists and feudalists seek to control the allocation of resources. Swedish socialists seek to raise all children to then compete in flat markets. Leninists seek to allocate ALL, brutally, ‘for the good of all.’ Beijing socialists use state companies for a layer of capitalist scheming. Feudalists just want to own it all and give it directly to spoiled brats.

“Cuba could be a successful socialist state without feudal trappings if it were not for the US embargo”

A complete and utter hogwash myth! Cuba had ALL the world to trade with OTHER than the US. Plenty of nations have done just fine, that way… e.g. Vietnam for 20 years. That utter, utter, utter baloney myth masks the fact that the Castros were really crappy managers. ND I DEEM THAT TO BE TRAGIC. If they had not been pigs, they could have run the perfect experiment in allocation-socialism, without the manic insanity of Stalin and Mao and their nations’ paranoia. The Castros might have instituted the version Huxley described in ISLAND….

… but they didn’t.

AB: have you considered that your VERSION of talking about feudalism is what puts them off? Maybe some of the contempt raises hackles.

LH: you will LOVE those two Vinge books!

Love your comment on America’s use of the Windsor royals. Though they truly are living arguments to trash it all.

Now… the DANISH royal house….

Alan Brooks said...

Yes, until the last couple of years, I did make inconsiderate comments to them.

Their linking being closer to nature as being closer to the deity is an approximation; someone, such as Francis, being closer to nature, isn’t necessarily what made him closer to the deity. It’s that he lived a meek life (Meek=God-fearing) and therefore had a simpler heart—for the Lord.
Which segues into their quasi-toleration of feudalism. Mini-lords dominated by the Big Enchilada in the sky.

Der Oger said...

Sorry der Oger, that is wrong. Both socialists and feudalists seek to control the allocation of resources. Swedish socialists seek to raise all children to then compete in flat markets. Leninists seek to allocate ALL, brutally, ‘for the good of all.’ Beijing socialists use state companies for a layer of capitalist scheming. Feudalists just want to own it all and give it directly to spoiled brats.

What I want to say is that those different axis form a spectrum, and that it is authoritarianism what makes systems cruel and inhumane, not the actual stance on markets, left or right. Sweden has peaceful transfers of power and stops at a certain point, China and Russia not so.

I deem that distinction to be important, because in these days, people are told to vote for fascism because, you know, socialism.

A complete and utter hogwash myth! Cuba had ALL the world to trade with OTHER than the US. Plenty of nations have done just fine, that way… e.g. Vietnam for 20 years. That utter, utter, utter baloney myth masks the fact that the Castros were really crappy managers. ND I DEEM THAT TO BE TRAGIC. If they had not been pigs, they could have run the perfect experiment in allocation-socialism, without the manic insanity of Stalin and Mao and their nations’ paranoia. The Castros might have instituted the version Huxley described in ISLAND….

While you are not wrong that the Helms-Burton act is the single responsible factor for Cubas malaise (Raul Castro admitted it in 2010), it just lets companies choose if they want to trade with the US or Cuba. Counter-Laws like in the EU or Canada (see the Godfrey-Milliken Bill) are practically toothless.

I assume the only reason the embargo still stands are hurt imperial pride and the votes of Cuban immigrants.

Now… the DANISH royal house….

Fun fact: They are all the same family, now.

Years ago I did some research on that family because I prepared a D&D campaign set during the Stedinger crusade. The current members descent from a family once tasked with guarding a very hostile territory, who then warred against each other, the Frisian tribes, and various bishops, as well as engaging in piracy. Later, one member of the house became Hitler's secretary of finances, and the granddaughter of this guy, Beatrix von Storch, a key member of the AfD party.

duncan cairncross said...

Cuba
The American "embargo" certainly DID adversely affect their economy - for decades the US government was very nasty to any company that did business there - so a company had to choose either a tiny island or the USA to do business.

And while Cuba has not done that well it appears to have done BETTER than the other Carribean islands!
The British Islands may have done slightly better, but the "nonaligned" ones have done a LOT worse than Cuba.

Der Oger said...

Typo fix:
"While you are not wrong that the Helms-Burton act is not the single responsible factor for Cubas malaise..."

The British Islands may have done slightly better, but the "nonaligned" ones have done a LOT worse than Cuba.

Wait - you mean, that states in that region which have been politically re-aligned to suit large US companies' tastes did not socioeconomically profit from it? Who could have guessed? /sarc

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Now… the DANISH royal house….


My wife's family has business connections in Denmark, so I'm somewhat aware of the politics* there.

But in any case, the Danish royals get props from me ever since I learned about WWII. The king wearing the Jewish star armband, and "All Denmark is my bodyguard."

* I was actually travelling in Denmark the day the Brexit vote happened. They were incredulous.

Larry Hart said...

Someone's actually listening to me.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2024/Items/Mar29-1.html

Meanwhile, speaking of the relationship between [Marjorie Taylor] Greene and [Speaker Mike] Johnson, she apparently plans to press her motion to vacate, up to and including making it a privileged motion (which would then require the House to take up the matter within 2 days). If Greene does move ahead, she could end up regretting it. Johnson would almost certainly need Democratic votes to keep his job, and some Democrats are increasingly comfortable with the idea of trading those votes in exchange for passing the Ukraine funding bill.

David Brin said...

Der Oger. There have been many attempts at 2D political models. Most have axes that are NOT orthogonal or independent and are utterly tendentious, in that they are designed to draw the viewer toward a desired polemical result. The libertarian maps almost always do that.

If you haven't seen my own version... it has commonalities with what you just described. My general political essay in four parts - about. the insipid/lobotomizing left-right "axis"- how history betrayed competitive creativity, and what libertarianism might look like, if it ever grew up.
https://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/politicalmetaphors1.html
https://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/politicalmetaphors2.html
https://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/politicalmetaphors3.html
https://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/politicalmetaphors2.html

Sweden isn't just different because it limits power and allows peaceful transitions. It is different in GOALS. Its socialism uplifts all to then compete. Leninists - even when sincere about wanting equality and wealth for all - have contempt for the creative power of competition.

---

While it remains utter, utter BS that Cuba's problems are from the US embargo... (TOTAL bullshit!)... I'll admit the following "I assume the only reason the embargo still stands are hurt imperial pride and the votes of Cuban immigrants."

Seriously, I invite MAJOR wager stakes that European and other companies could not give a crap about Helms. Certainly the Chinese never did. This is a magical INCANTATION to excuse the Castros' mismanagement and repression. Jesus, even if it were true, you blame their failure to develop on lack of TRADE?

Again, Vietnam did just fine over the same span under the same trade embargo. It... is... a ... myth.



David Brin said...

Did you see the video of the bridge collapse? ONE span was hit... and others fell as dominos! Clearly they were leaning on each other, an insane design.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

…people use the word "natural" to mean something along the lines of "the way things would happen without intelligent interference."

Yes. I agree. Many do mean that, but that implies nothing that humans do is natural. They'll make an exception for "When people do God's will" to which I respond "There are a whole lot of people who think they are doing that yet they disagree with each other." To figure out which is the right person to follow I have to think about it. Intelligence comes into play at some point and we've circled around to whether or not I'm doing something natural.

Our host has a pretty good answer for this nonsense. If it is natural for a parent to want their children to surpass them… we are not sheep devoted to a life of mindless submission to our Creator's will. I can respectfully ignore whether or not that Creator creates purpose for all the seemingly idiotic things that happen and focus instead on whether I'm helping the next generation surpass the previous one.

…untainted by influences…

Yah. That's where that idea winds up if one pursues it to its logical consequences. That's the same crap the Catholic Church used to push before the Renaissance. Life is a Veil of Tears not worth studying except to understand one's divinely determined purpose. Blah!

If they really want "untainted by influences", they should be advocating for killing off everyone or removing free will. Hmm. Sounds Hobbes-ian… another fellow whose ideas irritate me. 8)


Alan,

Mini-lords dominated by the Big Enchilada in the sky.

Exactly. That's why I've become intolerant of accepting a big enchilada as an element of my ontology... and somewhat less tolerant of others doing it. It's WAY too easy to justify crap ideas. There are other paths to justifying mini-lords, but at least they aren't easy. For example, Hobbes made a metaphor of Euclidean geometry to prove 'social order' theorems that justified absolute monarchs.

Alfred Differ said...

Sweden isn't just limiting power and focusing on children. They've drawn different lines for what is to be done in the market and what isn't. Everyone has those lines drawn somewhere. In the US, I can't just go buy someone's kidney on the usual market, though I could probably buy it on one of the gift markets. I can't just go buy someone's daughter as a wife, though I could probably arrange it as a combination of gifts and barter. Lines DO get drawn! (Kind of.)

The way I was taught about markets* involves recognizing two types of gift exchanges (one has expected returns and the other is less direct) and two other types that most of us in The West know as barter/bazaar and monetized exchanges. We draw lines about what is allowed in which kind in all our communities, so what Sweden does is just a slightly different set of lines from others in The West.

Where I see socialism as an enemy is where its advocates want to essentially obliterate the monetized exchange and maybe even the bazaar. Full control of the means of production forces many necessities to be exchanges as 'gifts' which leaves a 'gifter' in control. I don't care if that controller is a local bastard lord or an angelic advisor because people become beholden to gifters in ways that make for rigid social structure.

I can tolerate (for a while) experiments in locating the lines for which trades occur in which exchange. If the experiments tolerate a mild level of disobedience, we shall find out by trial and error what works. For example, if I advertise my intent to buy a replacement kidney and post a bid price and then a mob with pitchforks and torches shows up at my house, the experimental results are pretty clearly "Hard No." If (instead) I'm a Dutch merchant trading English wool for Polish wheat with me as the middleman and no one EXCEPT the mini-lords get upset, the experimental result is clearly "Try to get away with it."

The monetized exchange is not suitable for all trades no matter how many of my neighbors want to believe that. However, it is probably better at trying quick experiments than any of the gift exchanges. Try to imagine the convoluted set of gift promises that would have been required to motivate nearly half a million Americans to put men on the Moon over 50 years ago. Monetized Exchanges have their place and we can argue about where lines are drawn. As long as we ARE arguing (peacefully), I can tolerate socialism.

Der Oger,

…people are told to vote for fascism because, you know, socialism.

Ugh. Yah. I've seen that false dichotomy… and others like it.
Just tempts me to lightly smack the person uttering it and ask them if I look like a fool.


* Anthropologists have studied such things, so (for once) I'm not tapping ideas from economists.

David Brin said...

Excellent insights, Alfred. Made me think.

Alan Brooks said...

Economics has developed for only hundreds of yrs, whereas religion—millennia.
‘Wealth of Nations’, 250 yrs.
Scriptures, c. 10x that long.

David Brin said...

AB... for many millennia very sincere people wanted to 'fix the world.' but the thought of doing it with science or industry seemed far-fetched. To them, the only thing that might accomplish it would be the one thing that ever kinda helped, a little. Persuasion for humans to behave better.

Even Freud could not parse the organic reasons for mental illness, or chemistry. So? He zeroed in on TALK... since at least his followers could to that.

Adam Smith saw, however, the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and (brilliantly) projected ahead to when TRADE and COMPETITION might transform society. Marx dissected the historical effects of CLASS brilliantly... then got tricked by his own just-so stories when he looked ahead.

David Brin said...

Having answered Alan... it's time to move onward

onward

duncan cairncross said...

Bridges

All bridges are designed like that - if you take a bit out of them the loads from the other bits that the missing part was taking/transferring are now not being resisted.
And it falls down.

The impact that knocked the pillar down was from the side - designed to resist wind loads not 100,000 ton ships.

Cuba - big European companies (and Canadian) did almost no business with Cuba as if they did they lost the US market.
Which left the countries that did not care about the US market - until recently that was a very small fraction of the world.

Socialism - AKA Public Ownership

Every country (even the USA) has some "Public Ownership" and some "Private Ownership".

The split is different country to country - we can argue about the "optimum".

I would argue that the "trend" is that more socialism = a better outcome.

There are definitely some things that do better with "Private Ownership" but a lot of things that work much better with "public ownership".

duncan cairncross said...

I would note that "Public Ownership" does NOT have anything to do Alfreds removal of "monetarised" trade.
Money is still used!!

Only after we get to a real post scarcity society would "money" stop being used - if then.

Jim Shea said...

Thank you, David. A marvelous tribute to a marvelous man.