Sunday, May 26, 2024

Updates: science & robotics

As you know by now, I've been roped into speaking a lot about the Great Big AI crisis of 2024. I'll touch on some aspects here. Plus some light on other areas of fast-emerging science! But first a couple of notes.

My esteemed colleagues Sheila Finch, Pat Murphy and Ejner Fulsang join me in a wide ranging discussion of concepts regarding communication with other kinds of beings... with dolphins, other mammals and even octopi-pusses!  And AI and aliens, of course. 

A Journey worth taking and repeating... One of the wisest books I know is Prof. John Perlin's A Forest Journey: The Role of Trees in the Fate of Civilization, not just a great source of insights about love of nature and its beauty, but also the utility of living in synergy with our natural and civilizational support systems... a theme I extrapolated then, throughout my novel Earth.  Here is a link to John discussing the new, updated edition.


== Will they converge on being like us? ==


From TechExplore: “Cambridge scientists have shown that placing physical constraints on an artificially-intelligent system—in much the same way that the human brain has to develop and operate within physical and biological constraints—allows it to develop features of the brains of complex organisms in order to solve tasks.” 

 

In solving maze puzzles, for example, the space-limited computational entity was constrained by a cost in speed and energy, the greater the distance between nodes. “When the system was asked to perform the task under these constraints, it used some of the same tricks used by real human brains to solve the task. For example, to get around the constraints, the artificial systems started to develop hubs—highly connected nodes that act as conduits for passing information across the network…” 

Also nodes developed a 'flexible coding scheme' where the same nodes might be used for a wide range of functions, as in our brains.
 

This result has overlap with my own proposal (topic of my track keynote at the RSA conference, some weeks ago) regarding "individuation of AI"... including a need to anchor each top-level AI entity to a physical memory locale. It might be an all-constraining ‘skull’, as we have, or energy limits as in this group’s experiment… or else perhaps as little as an un-movable ID locus, that must be pinged for individuated identity. (And accountability.) 


It also will have pertinence when we try to cram autonomy into the controlling ‘brains’ of largely physical robots.


Meanwhile, here's discussion of language parsing into accentless responses accompanying smooth and dextrous robotic actions. Oh, it's coming fast. Of course, those who read science fiction will be (slightly) better prepared than those who just suckle it from simplistic movies.


We know that chat and visual AI have come a long way and physical abilities of robots. But combining all that will be essential, before robots are useful in the home


And so, what do I propose? My WIRED article (July’23) breaks free of the three standard ‘AI-formats’ that can only lead to disaster, suggesting instead a fourth. That AI entities can only be held accountable if they have individuality… even ‘soul’… But there's a lot more, now. It's taking shape... 

           


== Sci Tech miscellany! ==


Roaring winds pushed a passenger plane to record speed — and early landing. An exceptional jet stream boosted a China Airlines flight over the Pacific to 826 mph Thursday. Pure Galilean relativity, of course. The speed of sound is NOT like the speed of light!


From the bright folks at the Institute for the Future: An Icelandic company, is planning a controlled breach of a volcanic magma chamber. For geothermal energy of course. They’ve tried it before; the overwhelming heat (842°F/450ÂșC) melted their equipment. Good luck!

Walmart reported that folks taking Ozempic, Wegovy, or other GLP-1 drugs bought less snack food than other customers. Shares of Mondelez International, maker of Oreos and Ritz crackers, fell 7.7%; Hershey and PepsiCo followed suit.



== …and finally… ==


Stephen Wolfram’s brilliant reputation in the mathematical theories of computation have also manifested in useful tools like Mathematica and the Wolfram Computational Language Model. Yes, many of his claims can seem outrageously bold, e.g. that all physical laws in the universe can be posed as manifestations of rule sets in the “computome,” an assertion sparking lively debates.  Despite my credentials as a physicist, it is the value of ‘debate’ itself – give-and-take argument in arenas of lively-creative, fact-based competition – that I am an actual expert. And this fellow – (full disclosure, he is a friend) – is among the liveliest. (One criterion: would he have been – like me – burned as a heretic in any other culture or time?)

Hence let me link to Stephen’s latest missive online (they are lengthy!) “Observer Theory” is about which of the universe’s vastly complex intricacies can be ‘reduced’ in ways that allow a limited observer (human, or mere-AI) to derive useful predictive models? Here’s sample paragraph.  

 

“It’s not immediately obvious that anything suitable for a finite mind could ever be extracted from the complexity of the world. And indeed the Principle of Computational Equivalence implies that computational irreducibility (and its multi-computational generalization) will be ubiquitous. But within computational irreducibility there must always be slices of computational reducibility. And it’s these slices of reducibility that an observer must try to pick out—and that ultimately make it possible for a finite mind to develop a “useful narrative” about what happens in the world, that allows it to make decisions, predictions, and so on.”


In an age of tweets and skimming, who has time for complex ideas, so intricately drawn? 


Is this a top thing we’ll use AI for, to distill such complex concepts for us. Ah, but the way tat Fox News 'distills' Kremlin generated agitprop from the gullible? Anyway, this latest is offered to you all as an example – at least – that some are out there on the frontier, on our behalf.


Oh, and sorry to link this so late, but it is worth a scan! This year-end cool-tech update is among the best I've seen, featuring some truly awesome products & inventions.


If you, too, are a person who would be burned at the stake, in past kingdoms or theocracies, then join in helping to defend an amazingly awesome civilization that's been very good to you, overall, from the forces of literal darkness.


112 comments:

Larry Hart said...

Reposting from after the "onward" last post:

Pappenheimer:

I was surprised that so many Moral Majoritarians were willing to vote for a NY real estate con artist with a moral compass set at zero. There is a strong sense in the US that the middle class has lost ground.


The Republicans have done a good job of equating those issues in voters' minds. The impetus to vote for Trump and Republicans seems to be driven by dissatisfaction with the status quo combined with a belief that things were better (for white Christians) before liberals messed it all up, and that Biden/Democrats will continue the slide whereas Trump/Republicans will restore things to the way God always intended them to be.

Note that this worked for Republicans in 2016 and (polls tell us) 2024 as well, but also in 2020, even when Trump himself had been president for four years. Dissatisfaction with the status quo doesn't have to mean wanting the other party to take control. Sometimes it means thinking your own party has been thwarted in their efforts, or just needs to fight harder. Since at least the 1980s (if not before), the Republican response to electoral defeat has been to go harder to the right, no matter what.

I also think that voters who don't want to admit that they like Trump's bullying can use dissatisfaction with the economy as a rationalization of why they actually support him. When people tell pollsters that unemployment is at a 50-year high (when it's really at a 50-year low), I suspect what they're really saying is "I don't want to vote for Biden, so his economy must suck." It's similar to when they respond that they don't believe the theory of evolution when they're really saying, "You're not going to trick me into renouncing God."

Just today, the Chicago Tribune editorial page was devoted to asserting that Democrats just don't understand that the average voter doesn't care about the stock market or economic growth (since all profits to to the big guys, not to the average voter). They only care about the cost of living, and they trust Trump/Republicans more than Biden/Democrats to control inflation. This reminds me of Kellyanne Conway on Bill Maher's show just before the 2022 midterms, insisting that a red wave was inevitable because of school lockdowns and gas prices.

I hope my hometown paper is as wrong as she was, thinking that voters don't care about issues like abortion/contraception rights and fascism. Then again, maybe I'd better just walk into the prison here at 26th Street and California Avenue and pick out a room with a view, to get a jump on next year.

scidata said...

Nice to see computation as a topic. There is nothing quite like watching an electronic or simulated network self-form into hubs, links, and substrates. Nodes and edges in the parlance of graph theory, agents and environments in agent-based models. It makes anyone, even a clod like me, realize that the road to intelligence in NOT magic or supernatural, but simply natural. Self-organization is a theme of life itself (and the best SF tales too).

As any good FORTH programmer knows, bootstrapping is the basic mechanism to study.

Calculemus!

Unknown said...

Larry,

Prison? Luxury! I'm guessing concentration camps are more likely if they come for all the liberal olds like me. (I'll be in good company - I remember finding 'Frodo lives' scratched on a boot camp porta-potty door).

Crime has never been worse, either, if you listen to MAGA. And 'Christians' are in danger of being laughed at. Wokeness in schools, gaybooks in libraries. There are many Festivus's worth of grievances to air; I can't keep track.

Can anyone provide a reasonable explanation of how rumpt will stop inflation if he plans on a new round of tax cuts, deports 100,000's of undoc immigrants who are working below minimum wage, and places tariffs on all Chinese goods? Ah! Maybe if he destroys social security and medicare, and sparks a recession, millions of Americans will have no money to buy anything, and companies will have to lower their prices!

Pappenheimer

P.S. Dr Brin, I got into fencing in college but never achieved a rating - just been having fun with it for most of my life. It's one sport you don't age out of (so far), unlike heavy SCA fighting. Hope I don't have to research wheelchair fencing in the future....

Larry Hart said...

The Libertarian article Dr Brin posted last comments.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/may/26/no-wannabe-dictators-donald-trump-booed-at-libertarian-convention

It started out as if Libertarians had come to their senses regarding support for authoritarian fascism. But then, Trump's Mule powers took over:


...
Trump said: “As everyone knows, it will be my great honour to pardon the peaceful January 6 protesters or, as I often call them, the hostages. They’re hostages. There has never been a group of people treated so harshly or unfairly in our country’s history. This abuse will be rectified and it will be rectified very quickly.”

“And if you vote for me on day one I will commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht.” The room, where many had been waving “Free Ross” signs, erupted in roars and whistles of approval. Ulbricht was the founder of Silk Road, an online marketplace for the sale of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other illegal drugs, who in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison.

With that the tide had turned in Trump’s favour and his gamble of addressing the convention was looking less disastrous than it first appeared. The crowd gradually became more muted and supportive.
...


Ok, to be fair, some weren't affected by the visi-sonor:

...
Still, not everyone was won over. When Trump said, “I want your support and again, you can either nominate us and put us in the position or give us your vote,” a chorus of boos rose again.

Afterwards one delegate, who gave his name only as Joe, said: “He’s full of shit.”

Glen Lewis, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Mississippi, said: “It was a lot of politicking. He came here to tell us to pull our people’s votes towards him using the fear of Joe Biden’s presidency. But real men and women vote on integrity.”
...


But stubbornly, some demonstrate why Trump loves the poorly-educated:

...
Joe Gravagna, 77, a retired computer security worker from Westfield, Indiana, said he voted the Libertarian candidate in 2020 but might consider Trump this time. “I like his ideas on deregulation, de-weaponising the justice system and non-intervention. He’s less of a hawk. I don’t think he likes wars. Anybody worth their salt would not have left Afghanistan with $88bn worth of weapons left behind.”

Among the committed Republicans in the room was Brandi Bohannon, 37, from Gulf Shores, Alabama. She said: “He’s different. No wars. He doesn’t get paid off by K Street. He’s honest. He’s feisty.

“We’ve never had a border this open ever – what, 8m have crossed? These wars would have never happened under Trump. Russia would never have invaded Ukraine. Israel and Palestine wouldn’t have gone to war. Serbia and Bosnia look like they’re about to go after each other again. So scary times.”
...


So Libertarians don't like open borders? Who knew?

Guess what wasn't mentioned at all, by supporters or detractors. Inflation.

Larry Hart said...

Pappenheimer:

Prison? Luxury! I'm guessing concentration camps are more likely if they come for all the liberal olds like me.


Yes, I often kid on the square that I hope I'm in the same concentration camp with Stephanie Miller, Hal Sparks, and John Fuglsang, so I can at least enjoy the entertainment.

But I've never seen an actual concentration camp in real life, and I have (as a juror) been to the courthouse attached to the prison at 26th and California many times. And I was riffing on Neil Gaiman's alternate Marvel future story, 1602, in which King James informs Nick Fury:


Ye did a piss poor job of protecting the Queen of England. If you make a mess of this, you might as well walk into the Tower and pick out a room wi' a view.


And a bit of Eddie Murphy in 1982, examining why someone would shoot the Pope:

He must have figured, "I'm going to Hell, and I don't want to wait on line with all those people. I want to take the Hell express!"

"What did you do? Shoot the Pope? Yeah, you go right on ahead."

Unknown said...

Might beat stampeding cattle through the Vatican, at that...

Pappenheimer

P.S. Am I "a person who would be burned at the stake, in past kingdoms or theocracies"? The short answer is "I'd like to think so" but as Bujold wrote in Free Fall, most people prefer limited tests instead of tests to destruction. How many of the Salem 'witches' refused to save themselves by admitting to witchcraft, insisted on their innocence under torture and were executed?

Larry Hart said...

Pappenheimer:

How many of the Salem 'witches' refused to save themselves by admitting to witchcraft,


Are you saying that in that situation, you would have trusted that the penalty for being a witch would have been mitigated by admitting to the crime? You might as well ask how many blacklisted writers of the McCarthy era should have simply admitted to being communist agents. It wouldn't have helped.

The Salem residents of 1692 wouldn't have read 1984, but still, loving Big Brother doesn't exactly work out.

Unknown said...

Sorry, wasn't clear. First, I don't know if I would break under torture. Jacques de Molay broke at least twice, only to recant each time torture ceased. Second, innocent people take guilty pleas to reduce sentences all the time in this fine country. The lure, false of not, is there. I'm a mild-mannered ex-weatherman. Would I, or you, be willing to tack on the 'martyr' descriptor? Here's hoping neither of us have to find out. So, vote early, volunteer if you can. This one is for all the marbles. Again, dammit.

Pappenheimer

P.S. many Salem accused did confess, repent and were admonished, but not executed. Whatever system is in place needs a few cautionary examples, but the majority of those accused are usually allowed to rejoin society to some extent once they knuckle under. Even Stalin's show trials showed that pattern.

Paradoctor said...

About AIs self-optimizing better when under the constraint of human-like form: that's like haiku or sonnets. They have strict forms, which create hard problems in construction, which accelerates creativity.

In Stanislaw Lem's "Cyberiad", the robot constructor Trurl (himself a robot) said that a robot should not be too much in control of its body's construction, for then it would have no-one to blame but itself for any flaws in that form.

And about last thread's out-of-the-blue comment that "it's not a head transplant, it's a body transplant": that's from a memetic point of view. From a genetic point of view, it's not an ovary transplant or a testicle transplant, it's a body transplant.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Sometimes it means thinking your own party has been thwarted in their efforts.

Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" has a whole chapter that connects to this. "How the worst get on top."

Start with a belief that a dictatorship run by people of good intent is better than one run by people of bad intent. Plausible, no?

Now ask what people will think when outcomes don't match expectations. Did their well meaning dictators screw up… or was it a result of people who oppose their good intent? Which would you rather believe?

Now assume a large fraction of the dictator's advocates believe evil intent of opponents and ask what these advocates must advocate next. Crack downs? New laws? What happens if their well intentioned dictators don't want to go that far. Would these advocates push for others of good intent who happen to be a bit more competent at coping with internal enemies?

———

Now flip the script and look at it from the outside. You are one of the people who opposes the well meaning dictators. You might even agree that they are well meaning and don't intend harm, but you know what they intend won't work… and say so. When it doesn't, are you going to stand by as many want to make of you a scapegoat? Would that not motivate you sufficiently to up your game to ACTUAL opposition? Sabots tossed in among the gears?

———

Hayek's description of this phase and the others along the road to serfdom make it pretty clear the system is unstable based mostly on our belief that we can control what we believe we can rule. Nip that first belief (we have far less ability to control than we want to admit) and the instability vanishes along with our sense of optimism that we can actively improve our lives.

We DO manage to improve our lives, but not through an exercise of control. We managed it by loosening controls and doing that nips our ability to create scapegoats. Most of us don't honestly believe this can work, yet when we do it our lives improve.

reason said...

But Alfred - there are things we can control and things that we can't. The science of life is distinguishing the two. This whole argument is based on not being able to distinguish the two. The who of progress is learning to distinguish the two. This is an argument that most people don't understand how progress works. Democracy has always depended on education.

Larry Hart said...

Pappenheimer:

First, I don't know if I would break under torture.
...
Would I, or you, be willing to tack on the 'martyr' descriptor?


I don't doubt they could break me either. It certainly depends a lot on how important it is not to break. If it was something trivial, like pretending to accept Jesus as my lord and savior, I would do so in a heartbeat. Maybe hold out just a little to make it seem like I was agonizing over the choice.

If it was betraying Julia, it would take more. And 1984 taught me to never reveal the methods that I think would best work on me. Not even to my loved ones, and certainly not on the internet.

I don't think they could actually make me love Big Brother, though. Or really believe that two plus two equals whatever the Party says it does.


innocent people take guilty pleas to reduce sentences all the time in this fine country. The lure, false of not, is there.


Salem of 1692 was not quite "this fine country". In the modern US, there's an established tradition--at least on tv--of the secular authorities keeping true to a plea agreement. I don't know what the established traditions were back then, but I'd be leery of accepting that a religious theocracy would forgive the heresy once they had what they wanted--my confession--from me.


many Salem accused did confess, repent and were admonished, but not executed. Whatever system is in place needs a few cautionary examples, but the majority of those accused are usually allowed to rejoin society to some extent once they knuckle under. Even Stalin's show trials showed that pattern.


And so this gets to what I've been dancing around. If the prospect of forgiveness after repentance was plausible and execution in the absence of repentance inevitable, I would likely take the deal. However, that is because the particular issue would feel to me like play acting. Mouth certain platitudes and live another day. I don't operate under the assumption that there are real and everlasting consequences to my immortal soul for confession to the crime of witchcraft. Were I a true believer who perceived such a confession as an admission (under oath, no less) of having repudiated God, I might be forced to a different consideration.

Larry Hart said...

More important an election issue than inflation, I'd say:

https://www.stonekettle.com/2024/04/the-menace-from-space.html

...
I know Marjorie Taylor Greene is thinking about such power right now.

I know she is. I don't have to guess. She told us. She keeps telling us.

That's all she and her ilk think about.

The power of God. And using it on us, those she considers undesirable and where have we heard this sort of thing before?

Yes, of course, Greene's amendment is idiotic.

We're not going to build space lasers. Not yet. Not now. For the same reasons we didn't build Thor. We won't build Space Lasers for a lot of reasons.

But this isn't really about that, is it?

It's about how these vile people think.

It's about how they dream of having the absolute power of gods, being able to send down lightning from the heavens and fry the people they hate. Us.

The state of the art -- and the limitations of the budget -- won't let them do that. Yet.

But that doesn't make us safe from our leaders who dream about killing us.

If you let them have power, they'll find a way to eliminate those they despise and they won't need science fiction weapons to do it. Whether it's cattle cars, camps, cyanide showers, and gas chambers or something more modern, they'll find a way just as those of their evil ilk always have.

Because that's all they dream about.

It's all they dream about. They tell you this in speeches, in their social media posts, in every amendment they write. They can not go a single minute without fantasizing about mass murder.
...
But the truly ironic part is where most of these people proudly wear their Christianity on their sleeve. A religion whose own founding prophet allegedly told his adherents in no uncertain terms: feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven, judge not least ye by judged...

And we could have done that.

Even if you don't believe in that god, even if you don't adhere to that religion, those are good ideas. Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Heal the sick. The Golden Rule. We could have done all of that. We could have fed everyone by now. We could have clothed and sheltered everyone on the planet. We could have healed almost everyone, or at least made sure everyone had effective quality medical care. We could all be wealthy. We could all be entitled to liberty and justice. We could have made this world a paradise for all, instead of embracing an ideology that promises salvation to only a select few and eternal misery to all the rest.

We could have done that.

Mad?

You damn right, I'm mad.

Scared?

Yes, that too.

I'm fucking furious at all the things we could have dared, and did not.

I'm terrified of what these dirty rotten selfish greedy miserable fanatical sons of bitches will do next, should we let them have power again.

We better show up.

We better do our duty.

We'd better stand fast, shoulder to shoulder, against the fall of night, or one day real soon they'll find a way to burn us all down and civilization along with us.

You want a better nation?

Hell, you want a future where our leaders don't dream about murdering us?

Then you have to be a better citizen. That's where it starts.
...

scidata said...

Re: be a better citizen

That's the first harmonic of every great civilization.

"There never was a good knife made of bad steel." - Ben Franklin

Alan Brooks said...

MTG thinks she is worshipping God, but it is the Devil wearing a mask.

Larry Hart said...

@Alan Brooks,

Your comment about MTG is almost exactly what Dave Sim thinks about the early Hebrews. The "Devil wearing a mask" being YHWH.

Only, I would give those ancient Hebrews credit for actually wanting to worship the one true God, however they might have been tricked as to His identity. MTG isn't trying to please God. She's using religion as a cynical ploy to make gullible voters think they should be on her side.

Alfred Differ said...

reason,

…there are things we can control and things that we can't.

Indeed, but you are missing the key word that creates the instability. Belief.

In a nutshell, the issue is "We believe we can control what we believe we can rule."

The issue is that the first belief clouds our perception of outcomes. Imagine I was your boss at work. In a sense I'd rule as I'd decide what we do.* I tell you what to do and you do it, right? That's the control aspect and my belief in that process working is different from my belief that I rule. You MIGHT do as I say, but do I really control you? I only really know the negative… when you don't do as I say.

This whole argument is based on not being able to distinguish the two. The who of progress is learning to distinguish the two.

It isn't. Hayek's theme across many books involves our hubris. He points out that our inclination to believe we can design a future outcome should be checked at the door. We MIGHT be able to do it in limited situations, but it is more likely we shall find design constraints before we shall find actual designs. We are more likely to spot what CAN'T work before we find what WILL… if we ever do.

This is an argument that most people don't understand how progress works. Democracy has always depended on education.

Agreed. Completely. Hayek generally favored education, but always qualified it by recommending we check our hubris at the campus gate. Our beliefs must be challengeable at all times without us resorting to a scapegoat hunt.

An unchallenged belief can become a faith. Our inclination toward loyalty is highly rewarded socially as a desirable character trait because many consider faith/loyalty a virtue. The issue here is expressing that virtue in excess. Think how we react to Scrooge expressing too much Prudence and you'll see the core issue. Mother Teresa's version of self-abnegation is seen by many as taking Temperance too far. Don Quixote took Courage out so far we see it as foolishness. We can argue about where to draw lines, but the moment we do we are checking our hubris as Hayek requested.

* Whether or not I rule you is a convenient fiction that wins you a paycheck from this imagined job. We both know it isn't really true.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

She's using religion as a cynical ploy...

There comes a point where we fall for our own lies.
Our delusions are wonderfully seductive.

I think MTG has gone way past that point. I'm pretty sure she honestly believes she is trying to please God.

Alan Brooks said...

Regardless, she is on the highway to her own private hell—perhaps she will find herself as a who-er at a truck stop at the end of the road.
Or at the end of her life, she may realize what a traitor she is, and the state of mind she’ll be in will be hellish.

Unknown said...

Re: "I'm pretty sure she honestly believes she is trying to please God."

MTG:
"It's amazing! Whatever I believe is what God wants! What are the odds?"

Pappenheimer, pretty sure this God person and I have some serious differences of opinion, and I need to speak to their manager

Alan Brooks said...

She’s aware of how what she’s saying is wrong: she knows that American troops aren’t going to be sent to Ukraine.
What does she think? She thinks it’s better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.

Unknown said...

Hadn't thought about this in forever...Mother Teresa and I were in Calcutta at the same time. I can understand why the plight of Calcutta's poor disturbed her - it sure did me, and I was six. When I lived there they were still driving piles for buildings using teams of men tugging the weight on a pulley. Cheaper than a machine.

Pappenheimer

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I'm pretty sure she honestly believes she is trying to please God.


That might well be true of Mike Johnson. I don't get that vibe off of MTG.

Let me put it this way. When Dave Sim became religious, he became intensely aware of not doing anything to put his soul in danger of spending eternity in Hell, or even millions of years circulating around inside the sun trying to escape its gravity. I (obviously) don't share the same worldview, but I can understand what would motivate someone who did believe that.

MTG doesn't seem worried that if she does the (to her) wrong thing, she'll suffer consequences. She seems motivated to cause distress and disruption in others for the sake of distress and disruption.

If she was truly interested in pleasing the God of right-wing Christianism, wouldn't she start by staying home and submitting to her husband's wishes? I don't see how anyone can believe that that particular God is pleased by a woman with a mouth on her bitching at men. Just sayin'.

Alan Brooks said...

That, yes, but she is mainly motivated by her career in Congress, as it opens up doors to other opportunities.

David Brin said...

Alfred, Hayek’s scenario is mechanistic and contemptuous of people and utterly ignores what actually happened.
In fact, we’ve done very, very well with this Periclean Enlightenment approach of continually advancing metastable progress. We would not now be in crisis if it weren’t for the world oligarchs’ full-court press to rile up the MINORITY of Americans who are all-too easily riled into a new phase of our recurring social war. If enough of them would just rapture, already… or if we conquered Canada and got ten more blue states… this’d be a shrug-n-move-on moment.


LH… I like Stonekettle, of course. I agree with most of his rants, including this one. He’s vivid and persuasive!

…and in this case, not as helpful as he thinks. The irony is how, - while denouncing the blindness of the hateful – he shows that the compassionate can also be blind. And that dour blindness can be harmful. Like when he says:

“ We could have fed everyone by now...”

We HAVE! Imperfectly – an imperfection that should prompt guilt trips – but we have done that thing. Rates of famine across the globe have plummeted steadily since 1945, under every decade of the American pax. The hunger that remains - and occasionally surges - is intolerable and we could have done more! But is it helpful to ignore the pure fact that today 95% of children on Earth go to school and have never starved? Acknowledging that accomplishment would FAR better motivate us to feel guilt over a great job unfinished and step up to do the rest.

“We could have clothed and sheltered everyone on the planet.”

What you mean “we”, white man? Yes, Pax Americana set conditions for a rapid rise of billions. But those billions also worked really hard. And everyone on the planet has better shelter and vastly more clothes than in 1945.

“We could have healed almost everyone, or at least made sure everyone had effective quality medical care.”

Well, yeah, sorta. Though don’t parse those sanctimonious sentences too closely.

“We could all be wealthy. We could all be entitled to liberty and justice. We could have made this world a paradise for all…”

Hey, working on it! NO other Earthly society ever brought us so close. In fact, ALL of them would have deemed notions of a human-built paradise to be insane or an insult to God. I’m all for this! It’ll only happen with confidence.

------

Criminy.. Dave Sim again…

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

“We could all be wealthy. We could all be entitled to liberty and justice. We could have made this world a paradise for all…”

Hey, working on it! NO other Earthly society ever brought us so close. In fact, ALL of them would have deemed notions of a human-built paradise to be insane or an insult to God. I’m all for this! It’ll only happen with confidence.


I know some liberals say such things as if liberalism itself has been impotent. I don't read Stonekettle as saying that. He's angry that Republicans have kept us from doing more good in the world, and especially so because they claim the mantle of Christianity. He's saying, "If you conservatives had really done what Jesus told you to, we could have..."


Criminy.. Dave Sim again…


Well, other people I talk with are just as sick of me mentioning you. So there's that. :)

scidata said...

Dr. Brin: if we conquered Canada and got ten more blue states

Heh. It may not take conquest*, most Canadians are of a similar mind politically (our Conservative party is about where your centrist Dems are). There was a book entitled, "CanAmerican Union Now!" (1978 by D.K. Donnelly) that was popular when I worked at Doubleday publisher in the summers of 1979-81. I never read it because I didn't like books that hurt my back. Dragonriders books were the worst.

* and you tried that in 1812, didn't work out too well. Russia has generals January and February, but we have generals Blizzard and Black Flies.

locumranch said...

Ozempic, Wegovy & other GLP-1 drugs are not hardly the diabetic wonder drugs that you think they are:

They are Glucagon Agonists that act like Glucagon which serves to increase serum glucose levels rapidly (gluconeogenesis) while simultaneously triggering nausea, vomiting, forceful emesis & gastroesophageal reflux disease, insomuch as the GLP-1s have trivial effects on insulin secretion & act mainly by reducing caloric intake in a manner analogous to gagging oneself with one's finger.

In addition to appetite suppression & weight loss, its short-term side effects include nausea, vomiting, gastroesophageal reflux, gastroparesis & pancreatitis, and it's longterm risks may include dental erosion, Barrett's esophagitis, respiratory disease & certain neoplasms.

For the record, I'd argue that Religious Law & Secular Law are virtually indistinguishable in all respects, since they both rely on certain unquestionable faith-based & unscientific assumptions that are most usually attributed to some abstract ideal or higher power.

That our fine host actually acknowledges and endorses these unquestionable, faith-based & largely unscientific assumptions, especially in relation to AI development, I find this oddly reassuring, even though he chooses euphemism to refer to these 'Beyond Question' assumptions as either (scientific) 'physical constraints' and/or (mystical) 'souls'.

This is called 'hedging your bets', what our host does above, when he avoids making a decision between two different things because he cannot decide upon which course represents the correct one, an approach which allows him to be 'correct' either way.


Best

Alan Brooks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

US/Canadian union? The total US population is a little under 350 million, while the total Canadian population is almost 40 million. Canada would be massively outvoted, even if you added in the moose vote*; doubt they'd go for that. Even now it must be like living in a small apartment over a frat house. They also resent the brain drain when talented Canadians go south to make piles of money - Stan Rogers even wrote a song about it.

With regards to conquering Canada...remember that 'longest unguarded border in the world'? Nothing stopping Canadian saboteurs and guerillas from dropping south for some payback, and Canadians are only slightly less well-armed than Americans. Canadians just don't shoot each other as often. Kinda why I like Canada as it is - an object lesson in 'hey, we could do that, maybe.'

Let's not invade Canada. I've heard rightwing schmoes consider it a good idea, so it's suspect right there.

*I checked. Wiki says less than a million moose.

Pappenheimer

Unknown said...

Scidata,

Back in 1812 our 'War Department' was really an underfunded 'Department of Defense'. Now that we have a DOD, it's actually a 'Department of Invading People'. If the rumpt years renew, I might recommend developing a nuclear deterrent. Conventional defense would not cut it any more*.

*that said, Mexico would be, I think, in more danger than Canada, because it is filled with Mexicans of suspicious color.

Pappenheimer, imagining the celebrations in Putin's tsarbunker if rumpt does win office.

David Brin said...

The notion would be to 'borrow' ten blue provinces to reform things down here... Leave Alberta to hold the fort... then givem back when we've ended this current phase of confederate madness. Accomplish the same thing by letting 6 old Conmfederacy states secede... without their blue urban areas.

John Viril said...

I don't doubt they could break me either. It certainly depends a lot on how important it is not to break. If it was somethi ng trivial, like pretending to accept Jesus as my lord and savior, I would do so in a heartbeat. Maybe hold out just a little to make it seem like I was agonizing over the choice.

My reading about US military SERE training.suggests that EVERYONE will eventually break under sufficient torture. At best, a subject might successfully cloud the issue with near-real misinformation that fits a narrative interrogators WANT to believe.

My understanding is that SERE trainers can break subjects even when using non-lethal methods on professional soldiers who go into it KNOWING it's a training exercise. Part of the deal is isolating them and oppressing them long enough to compromise their judgment to the point they think it's real.

Sleep deprivation and erratic reward/punishment are standard techniques. SERE training is where waterboarding came from. Even if a subject KNOWS it's a training exercise, the feeling of drowning creates such distress it over, whowhelms your reason.

While "enhanced interrogation" methods will pretty much break anyone, it's really poor interrogation. The subjects will hate you and you end up with a whole lot of disinformation pureed with the truth. Intel obtained by torture is, consequently, highly unreliable. U need a TON of corroboration before having any real confidence in such information.

Even worse, u cut off any possibilty of obtaining that most valuable of all assets: the enemy u turn who will then actively help. That person will rack their brains to provide creative plans that undermine their former "side."

Paradoctor said...

Borrowing ten provinces? Is that like being dictator for a day?
On the other hand, it is possible to be dictator for a day... that ends in a noose.

Larry Hart said...

John Viril:

At best, a subject might successfully cloud the issue with near-real misinformation that fits a narrative interrogators WANT to believe.


You're talking about torture to acquire information. The Salem scenario was torture to obtain a confession. There's really only one answer in that case, and everyone involved knows what it is. It's a matter of whether you give it or hold out.

Larry Hart said...

John Viril:

Intel obtained by torture is, consequently, highly unreliable. U need a TON of corroboration before having any real confidence in such information.


Torture is not a reliable method of obtaining intelligence. However, it is a reliable method of obtaining a confession, particularly when the interrogating side doesn't care whether the confession is true or not--they just want his words on record.


Even worse, u cut off any possibilty of obtaining that most valuable of all assets: the enemy u turn who will then actively help. That person will rack their brains to provide creative plans that undermine their former "side."


That's what the career military people tried to tell Dick Cheney and his people, though they apparently didn't care.

Alfred Differ said...

David,

…Hayek’s scenario is mechanistic and contemptuous of people and utterly ignores what actually happened.

I think that is a stretch and borders on being untrue. Contemptuous? Perhaps. We all have egos. Ignores what happened? No.

I cut him at least some slack with The Road To Serfdom because he wrote it as WWII was finishing. The oligarchs Smith worried most about had taken a beating, so Hayek's neck vertebrae were turned toward what the little guys could do when they backed fascists. Millions had chosen men like Hitler either through action or by rationalizing inaction. Hayek was reasonably concerned that the little guys who had won the war had missed the primary lesson teaching how we wound up in the situation that led to so much carnage.

Hayek spoke a lot about history. I won't try to defend his VERY Austrian Liberal POV, but he did make it clear that if he had to live under fascism, he'd prefer a variety dreamed up by the British or the Americans. Those were likely to be less bad. Still, he preferred we not go that way and tried to write about what HE thought was the primary lesson of the war.

He portrayed the slide into fascism as an avoidable tragedy involving good intentions… even by those hunting scapegoats.*

———

…Enlightenment approach of continually advancing…

He wrote plenty about that in other books… just not the serfdom book. Across all his work, he argued for restraining both kinds of sovereigns. Kings and People. We know a thing or two regarding restraints for oligarchs. History is chock full of stories explaining that necessity. Narratives explaining our need to check OUR power are much less common, hence the serfdom book.


* Very few interpreted his book this way. Most everyone was still in a TOTAL WAR frame of mind. We Americans saw many things as either black or white. Wrong and Right. Of course we would fail to see the need to check our own power until the next generation saw things different. [Hayek spoke very inconvenient truths and it got him largely ignored by his peers.]

Paradoctor said...

As to whether or not MTG believes her god-politicking: this is another case of the crook-or-fool dilemma. Is Empty Greene a crook, cynically preaching a convenient sermon that she does not believe, or is she a fool, high on her own supply?

My answer is that it doesn't matter. Everyone lies to a crook, so they become fools; and fools lie to themselves, so they become crooks. Both converge to a middle point, where you can't tell crook from fool.

Plato said that the wise must practice virtue, if they are to remain wise. To that I reply that the virtuous must wise up, if they are to remain virtuous.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh.

Any military person with half a brain knows a US invasion of Canada is stupid. All one has to do is ask a basic question. Why? Same goes for Mexico for at least the next 50 years. We'd gain nothing we do not already have without having to fight for it. We'd lose a lot BY fighting for it.



INVITING Canadian Provinces is an entirely different thing.

Same goes for Mexico, but we already stole a third of their territory in the last war. What we wanted, we already have.



This is all fantasy, though. Won't happen. We can't even muster the effort to invite Puerto Rico which is already a US territory.

———

scidata,

Russia has generals January and February, but we have generals Blizzard and Black Flies.

Wouldn't work. WE have short supply lines.

Still a dumb idea. I've been to Manitoba. I can't for the life of me imagine a good reason to fight over it. 8)

———

Pappenheimer,

It would work because the vote difference here that determines who governs is so close to zero.

As long as we didn't break up Canada's province boundaries, the US Senate would swing hard to one side.

And… if a moose strolls into a polling station… I'd be inclined to let them vote. 8)

John Viril said...

That's what the career military people tried to tell Dick Cheney and his people, though they apparently didn't care.

I didn't know this before 911. However, after researching it, I realized this was well known throughout the military. Even civilian politics who served in the DOD should know it

I'm damn sure Dick Cheney knew it, too

They used torture bc they wanted a justification for war.

It took me embarrassingly long time to accept this reality. About.a year or two after invading Iraq, a lot of Dems were chanting, "Bush lied, people died!"

I dismissed this as simplistic, partisan vilification. It wasn't untill I saw Dick Cheney an give an interview about some of the deaths in those extra-legal foreign torture facilities that I realized he was a lying piece of crap. I had taken up poker in 2005 and used my opponent reading skills.

I then started researching "enhanced interrogation" and found an overwhelming amount of information on the subject in DECLASSIFIED training manuals and war college papers.

There's no way Cheney doesn't know.

It's why I don't think much of Liz Cheney. Absent any compelling evidence to the contrary, I'll assume the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Thus, I assume her Trump impeachment play was political opportunism rather than patriotism.

scidata said...

Finished Apple TV's "Franklin" miniseries. Excellent, and bravo to Michael Douglas for producing it and portraying him. Cancer can be beaten.

Several times, the frustrated British asked Franklin during peace negotiations, "What is it that you want Sir?"
His answer was always the same - "Canada"

Larry Hart said...

John Viril:

I'm damn sure Dick Cheney knew it, too


I didn't say he didn't know. I said he didn't care.


They used torture bc they wanted a justification for war.


Exactly what I was talking about before. Torture to obtain confessions, whether true or not. "Iraq is responsible for terrorist attacks on US soil." That sort of thing. Remember when we were hearing on the news about possible terrorist attacks involving anything from model airplanes to cow methane? Most likely that "information" was given just to stop being tortured.

Alfred Differ said...

scidata,

His answer was always the same - "Canada"

Well... yah. Makes a good cover for the fact that what they really wanted was Ohio.

Arguing for Canada would have been mostly about arguing for the British to leave North America. Geopolitically sensible request, no? We kinda got that after 1814 and then cemented a reasonable border 30 years later once it was obvious to all involved that Canada was fundamentally indefensible.

The thing of real immediate value in 1783 was Ohio and the river system leading south to the gulf.

------

The only post-1840's argument I've seen (that comes close to making sense) for taking Canada by force was about ensuring the British could not trade it away to some other European Power in terms for a peace treaty. Imagine WWI or WWII with no US involvement and a worse outcome for the British. Prussians or Nazis running Canada would have been intolerable, but I honestly doubt there would have been a fight between us when an invite would have sufficed.

Better yet, we probably would have purchased Canada before a treaty was signed. After all, we got Alaska because the Russians were financially crippled by the Crimean War. We picked up Louisiana from Napoleon. We purchased what is now southern Arizona from Mexico.

Heh. If any of us DO come north and ask for help with our political balance, you ALL should stick your hands out and demand huge sums of cash. We might just do that. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Dick Cheney is a national embarrassment. Hands down.

I don't blame his daughter, though I'm sure I agree with her on very little beyond the core idea that the US should not become a dictatorship... let alone one run by an idiot.

Unknown said...

Alfred,

Full agreement on Ms. Cheney. We aren't our parents or relatives, or I wouldn't be on this site at all. On the other hand, I'd probably have a lot more money. I suspect that rumpt crossed over one or two lines with her - ideologically, morally, maybe even in some matter of good taste* - but she isn't on my side. She's just not on rumpt's. There's a theory that she's playing a long game, and will be in a good place to lead a GOP from which the GQP has been excised or has split off voluntarily as the 'White People Party'. They used to be the 'Know-Nothings' back in the day, and I wish they would resurrect that so-apropos name.

Also, I agree that Canada is probably safe, but the GQP actually embraces military action in Mexico to 'secure the border' and disrupt the flow of illegal stuff, disease, and - I don't know - taco trucks? Also it's a GQP tenet that terrorists are swarming across daily. Although, apparently, they don't seem to be doing anything after they get here. I am not saying this is a good idea, I am saying people like Tom Cotton, possible VP candidate, are advocating invasion. In self-defense, of course. Perhaps there will be a small border post attacked by Polish soldiers - I mean Mexican drug gang members.

*how many ways can the TFG tick one person off? Is the answer blowing in the wind?

John,

I've also heard that line about torture - 'everyone breaks given enough time'. I'm sure it would apply to me, and not slowly. But there have been people out on the far end of the bell curve who did not. Maybe their torturers were amateurs, or maybe humans are just an extremely variable species.

Pappenheimer

David Brin said...

Before I trust Liz CHeney more than 5%, I want back some of the graft stolen by Bechtel and Halliburton in Iraq... and by Disck C's pals who financed some USSR commissars to buy up stock in their state companies, thus MAKING the Russia we see today. It's one of many reasons G H W Bush was by far the worst president of the 20th century.

Tony Fisk said...

It is interesting to compare the AI theme of this week's post with how it is handled in the 'Horizon' game series.

Sure, Horizon is a game where you hunt or are hunted by robotic dinosaurs rather than a serious discussion of how best to develop 'machines of loving grace'. However, it's background world-building and main quest do go into some detail on how this state of affairs came to be.

At one point the protagonist, Aloy, makes a critical observation as the history of the previous thousand years is revealed to her: the developers knew that it wasn't enough for a terraforming/terra-governing system to be a true AI, it had to *care* about its responsibilities, or you'd end up with a zero-sum kill or be killed system.* This becomes a theme that is summed up in the final cutscene of the first game.

It's a post-apocalyptic setting, but one which most players agree has an overall optimistic tone to it. This is despite the dire nature of the collapse (which isn't what you think: Horizon has it that we survived the climate crisis, but got hit on the rebound with the hubris that accompanied that victory).

It is certainly far superior in tone to things like 'Fallout' or 'Mad Max' Miller's petrol-fumed vision of the future. The latter is fun for a roll in the sand, but there is no intelligence there, artificial or otherwise.

* ...where you hunt or are hunted by robot dinosaurs? That is a recent development. There is a reason for it, and a solution sought, although it continues to elude the characters.

GMT -5 8032 said...

Carried over from last week's post...

After seeing David's comments about Vernor Vinge's, I checked out A FIRE UPON THE DEEP from the library and read it. What an absolute join.

Larry Hart said...

GMT:

I checked out A FIRE UPON THE DEEP from the library


A also just read that book for the same reason. It took me about 100 pages before I really got into it, but now I'm psyched to finish it. And that was just to prep for A Deepness In the Sky, which was the one this list really recommended.

Alfred Differ said...

I read those two out of order. Doesn't make a lot of difference as the stories are independent, but I knew a bit to much when reading the one that actually came out first.

A Fire Upon the Deep had me feeling like a fleeing insect much of the time even though the protagonist is FAR from being an insect. Very well done.

A Deepness In The Sky had me cringing and sweating and occasionally peeking over the top of my book to look at my son. That personal connection left me longing for the protagonists to commit brutally justified murder. Just saying... I connected emotionally with what I later concluded was as much a horror story as one of science fiction. Very well done.

----

I've read a few authors who try to portray what is essentially a min-archist community. The stories usually suck because they get all preachy. Stories are supposed to be about characters, their actions, and consequences. The setting is NOT the story.

V.Vinge understood that. One can see the settings in which his stories too place and make sense of them relative to the characters and action, but his stories (including the short ones!) sang on their own. One need not understand his philosophical POV to see it in action. His stories just wove it in.

Read them all.

Alan Brooks said...

Is allopathic medicine also largely faith-based?
You are a challenge, though; you do make me think—albeit this is ‘largely’ a SF blog. (That is, based on the number of SF articles & comments.)

GMT -5 8032 said...

"Joy" not "join."

scidata said...

Flight turnaround times:

IFT-1 to IFT-2: 212 days
IFT-2 to IFT-3: 117 days
IFT-3 to IFT-4: ~83 days (estimated based on June 5 target)

(from Payloadspace.com)

Alan Brooks said...

such as her own Limbaugh-type infotainment & comedy radio talk show. Someone at some point has probably mentioned the possibility.

locumranch said...

I am less impressed by Vernor Vinge's 'Zones of Thought' series than are most of you, as this 'zones of thought' idea first appeared in Poul Anderson's 'Brainwave', serialized in 1953 & published as a novel in 1954.

Linked below, Poul Anderson's 'Brainwave' tells the tale of Earth's emergence from "an energy-dampening field" that leads to dramatic increases in human & animal intelligence and the mastery of interstellar travel:

https://ia801709.us.archive.org/8/items/dli.ernet.524749/524749-Brain%20Wave%281954%29_text.pdf

Since then, this once unique trope has become so increasingly commonplace that we now know it as category 'emergence, transcendence and/or singularity'.

Back in 1915, Franz Kafka used this very same approach to good effect when his protagonist underwent a 'sudden & inexplicable' transformation into a giant insect in "The Metamorphosis", so much so that I now contend that there's really not that much of a difference between the sudden emergence of either homo superioris or a giant insect, is there?


Best

John Viril said...

I am less of an FDR admirer than most on this site.

I don't believe that the New Deal spending was big enough to pull the US out of the Great Depression. It was WW2 that ended the depression.

I think Roosevelt was right that we needed to stop the Axis powers, in particular the Nazi's. Supporting the Soviets was the unpleasant compromise he needed to make with realpolitik.

I also question the conventional economic theory that "consumer confidence" created by "counter-cyclical spending" is what broke the US out of the depression.

See, I think in terms of human behavior, so I suspect it was more about soldiers around the world going home from war, and deciding, "Screw it, I want a house, I want a car, I want stuff, and I want to get a wife and enjoy life while I can...because, well...I spent 4 or 6 years in the military knowing I could be ordered into a fatal battle tomorrow."

I think "pent up demand" is a better model for post-war behavior rather than giddiness because the govt is spending. Even that doesn't seem to be spot on, since my "read" is that in a cold war world with nuclear armageddon now looming, its more like, "Eat, drink, and be merry before we get nuked."

The subsequent burst of economic growth then creates consumer confidence and post-war triumphalism.

That attitude creates massive demand, which the US was in better position than any industrial power to meet b/c our economy was the only unsmashed 1st world industrial base in the world.

In a sense, I'm saying that there's SOME element of lasizze fare economics in that I suspect the Depression had a huge role in causing WW2, and the post war recovery was a massive rebound "correcting" for the horrid depression.

However, I'm not a libertarian government hater in that I do think counter-cyclical spending can prevent sharp depressions which lead to catastrophic wars.

Alfred Differ said...

I'm not at all concerned with the origin of the Zones of Thought concept. I read what he wrote elsewhere regarding why he used the idea as a way to deal with a lazy plot trap. His concern what that storylines like we see in Star Trek (and many others) are set far enough in the future to give the author room to have things their way, but always seem to ignore how we get from the present to then SO slowly. He noted that the pace of change is accelerating, so many authors inserted some kind of catastrophe in their back story that caused a reset. Even Star Trek (TOS) did this.

He clearly wanted to write space opera, but couldn't see a way to do it that would occur in on stable stage. The cultures would advance along with their tech. Getting a space opera story with many races required SOME way to slow them down enough that they'd exist at similar levels a about the same time.

TOS had the Organians(sp?) in one story and then they rarely got mentioned on screen again. Even in later series they weren't mentioned much. Think about that. Why Not?!

Well... Vinge talked about that too. Writing stories about transcendents is essentially impossible. He tried. Many have tried. Us real humans don't emotionally connect to the protagonists. Imagine Superman with no flaws. Yawn.

The Zones of Thought books were excellent examples of Space Opera done in a way that did not require some catastrophe to slow down civilizations. His FTL races were damn near godlike relative to those in the slow zone even without the transcendent minds. The actual transcendents, though, showed how everyone else was no brighter (relatively) than goldfish.

I liked them, but not out of some misplaced death wish to transcend. I'm perfectly happy being human and knowing there is quite a bit of room for us to grow before we lose our emotional connections to our ancestors... who would probably see much of what WE do as god-like. And we don't even have FTL.

Alfred Differ said...

John Viril,

"Eat, drink, and be merry before we get nuked."

Probably. I can't think of any other reasonable explanation for the baby production peak to land on the same year as the above-ground-testing peak. Women were having babies by the truckloads back then. My mother had four and when I asked her about that later she just waved her hand and said a) everyone was doing that and b) I wanted every one of you. She wanted us all born before she turned 30 to avoid certain risks, so she had to get busy. 8)

It was WW2 that ended the depression.

I'm with you partially. Truth is the Depression bottomed out long before WWII and things were improving. There were shocks that took us back into recession between '32 and '41, but the Austrian and Keynesian narratives predict (ex post facto!) essentially the same outcomes on very different POV's.

What WWII really did is persuade many to change how they say things. Market priorities shifted hard. That made Depression era concerns moot and THAT ended the Depression. Since there was some lead up time in the US before we went to war, there is no clean boundary for when it all changed. Some think of these priority as 'consumer confidence', but I think there is a lot more to it and just stick with 'priorities.'

My father was born in SW Pennsylvania in '33. Appalachia. Coal country. The family survived (barely) on the income of one daughter working as a domestic servant to some family that hadn't lost everything. That worked until Social Security appeared and offered a safety net of sorts. The whole family picked up and moved to Baltimore around '40 when I think my father's mother found work. Long before Pearl Harbor, the shipyards went into high production because the British were buying (sort of) replacements for U-boat victims. Boom production arrived about 3 years later and that family was finally solid in their placement in the lower middle class.

…I suspect it was more about soldiers around the world going home from war…

Don't ignore the very distinct recession that occurred when the GI's got home. Their impact definitely occurred, but it was likely swamped by everyone else changing priorities again. GI's were heavily outnumbered and didn't have great wealth to spread around. Think about who had the most pent up demand.

I think a better explanation is… our priorities shifted again as people got back to doing non-war business. In the US things hiccuped right after the war and then got moving again. In the UK they most certainly did not get moving even thought their vets came home too. We weren't demolished by bombs and that's a big deal. For all practical purposes, were were the only significant economy left standing after the war.


…I suspect the Depression had a huge role in causing WW2…

Pfft. The Versailles Treaty caused WWII.
Stupid mercantilist economic policies in a number of nations caused The Depression.
The October crash of '29 was ensured by foolish leverage rules tolerated in equity and bond markets.
Since bond markets fund many government activities, this ALL ties together.

Hubris of those who believed they controlled what they seemingly ruled killed a lot of people.

scidata said...

That stunning Starship launch acceleration is despite 100% vehicle loss. No wonder SpaceX's focus for IFT-4 will be the descent control systems. In two years, we might see a manned, weekly launch cadence. In five years, maybe twice daily. Multi-planetary civilization is almost within reach.

This ties in with the causes of / avoidance of war discussion. The best part of Starship is its appearance. Those fins are straight out of Golden Age SF. They couldn't be more inspiring. Yes, fear (itself) and idiotic, grifty greed do drive history, but so do hope and optimistic, democratic industry.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

His concern what that storylines like we see in Star Trek (and many others) are set far enough in the future to give the author room to have things their way, but always seem to ignore how we get from the present to then SO slowly.


When I first saw Star Trek, long before a canonic backstory had been fleshed out and the series had been firmly identified as being in the 23rd century, I imagined it to be thousands of years in the future.

I realize I'm in the minority here on this blog, but when I watch Star Trek or read Foundation or Dune, I'm really not interested in "How did they get there from the present time?" I'm interested in how the plot unfolds given the hypothetical premises.


Imagine Superman with no flaws. Yawn.


Early superhero comics were more like that. The thing is, the superhero was rarely the true protagonist of the stories. They were more about the effect that a Superman had on the rest of the world. The 1950s George Reeves Superman tv show was pretty much "The Adventures of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen," with Superman as a plot element to get them out of trouble.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Think about who had the most pent up demand.


My mother, who would have been 11 when the war ended, recalls her family being on a waiting list for a new car while wartime production was winding down. If I remember the story right, they didn't actually take possession until 1949.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

I mostly have no issues with TOS. I figure the fact that the series went on for three years left the writers with the temptation to fill the backstory. If we slice those episodes out of canon, the series works just fun floating along in whatever time frame makes sense to viewers.

With many series running multiple years, though, I don't think there is much choice about filling in the history. Turning short stories into novels has some of the same requirements. We expect more details and that's all fine.

Our host deals with the stability issues of a space opera in a different way in the uplift books. Galactic civilizations are kinda stodgy. Calcified even. Nobody advances rapidly because… inertia. Why that all came to be that way is SO far back in history that details can be dripped out in a way where we have to distinguish them from myth. Instead of zones of thought, the reasons are offered up as part of the mystery.

Considering what V.Vinge said about longevity expectations for civilizations elsewhere in his writings, I found the zones of thought idea kinda refreshing. His civilizations in the slow zone DID go out with a bang, but there was hope elsewhere for those who avoided swimming too close to the transcendence boundary. The flip side of this could be seen in the last one where formerly FTL cultures got caught in the slow zone.


Superman as a plot element

Yep. Bringing him into the modern age required more flaws… which writers provided. No choice really.

———

…they didn't actually take possession until 1949.

Makes sense. That would have been after the post-war recession. The US economy did NOT transition smoothly back to non-war production.

The war understandably changed everyone's priorities in many ways at different times. The same is true in the immediate aftermath. The net result was a boom time, but most of that can be explained by what the priorities were for average Americans who happened to live in the one economy not destroyed by bombs.

A lot of able-bodied men got buried earlier, so I kinda think of that time as a post-plague boom like Europe saw once the Black Death receded. It wasn't about the vets coming home. It was more about still being alive and what that does to a person's libido.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

With many series running multiple years, though, I don't think there is much choice about filling in the history.


No argument. I was only saying that I was never focused on, whether I could see the path by which 1960s humanity progressed to Star Trek humanity over the course of 300 years. As Captain Picard put it in the TNG first season finale, "That would take us in the wrong direction."

Consider the Kafka novel, The Metamorphosis. At no time does anyone, including the protagonist himself, dwell on the biophysics of how Gregor turned from a human being into a giant bug. The plot is all about what ensues, not how we got there.


Yep. Bringing him [Superman] into the modern age required more flaws… which writers provided. No choice really.


Marvel might be somewhat responsible for that. As legend has it, Stan Lee started writing superheroes who (considering the genre) felt and acted more like people in their situation really would. It made it more possible to tell their stories instead of the stories they merely affected. That in turn made it more likely that older kids, college students, and armed forces personnel would continue to read comic books long past the age they used to be aimed at.

I didn't follow DC as much as Marvel, but I think that the 1978 Christopher Reeve movie was the first time Lois Lane had been presented as a true love interest for Superman rather than a pesky kid sister, always getting into trouble.


It was more about still being alive and what that does to a person's libido.


In some of Kurt Vonnegut's later books, he asserts that for Americans who view their lives through the lens of stories, the end of WWII was our "finale rack", as in the end of a fireworks show where everything that remains is set off at once. Everything after that was an epilogue. And he attributed much of American unrest to the intolerability of living in an epilogue for over 50 years. But in the immediate post-war period, it probably felt good to relax inside the sentence, "And they all lived happily ever after."

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Everything after that was an epilogue.

Ha! Only someone so close to such a momentous event could think of it as an epilogue. Alan Moore nailed it in Watchmen. Nothing ends.

In my not even remotely humble opinion, what we've done after WWII is far more momentous. The wars of the early 20th century were the end of our opening act. We are solidly into Act II now.

———

In the best screenplay advice book I've got, the author talks about beginnings, middles, and ends of stories. Act I is where the story is set up. The Key Incident lays out the protagonist's purpose. The transition from Act I to II ends the set up and moves is into conflicts and tensions that act as hurdles to that purpose. The story pivots at the transition and we can all feel it happen. (In a two hour movie this is right around 30 minutes in.)

That's where we are as a nation.

David Brin said...

There’s no doubt that demand by GI’s returning home was a factor. That’s millions… and we actually PAID our troops, so they mostly had savings to spend… plus the GI bill both supported many and kept them out of the adjusting workforce. Then there’s sexism, with most female workers – even hugely successful managers – pushed out to make room for returning men.

Heck the shipyards kept busy DISMANTLING ships they had only just mantled.

But it is fashionable to dismiss FDR and totally unfair. His mistake was doing too little Keynesian boosting, which the war forced him to do. But the amount that he did was enough to restore some confidence and get things rising again.

Scidata there are not enough paying customers for that launch rate. ONE starship will soak up a huge fraction of today’s LEO market. Yes, there’ll be new customers. I SO want a rotating multi-g station! But for sure this will put SLS to a wel-deserved grave.

“immediate aftermath. The net result was a boom time, but most of that can be explained by what the priorities were for average Americans who happened to live in the one economy not destroyed by bombs.”

I am interested in what marriage arrangements were like, in nations that had lost millions of men.SO little is said that there must be deep social stigma and shame over the inevitable resulting polygamy.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Only someone so close to such a momentous event could think of it as an epilogue.


Kurt Vonnegut was in Dresden when it was bombed. He (obviously) survived, and the book he finally wrote about the event (Slaugterhouse Five) is what gained him mainstream prominence as a writer. It doesn't surprise me that he then is of a clade who would see WWII as the climax of the American story, and the postwar period as a denouement.

He even wrote about that in Bluebeard. The Rabo Karabekian character never gets past thinking in terms of the Depression and WWII, and the female writer foil in the story explicitly calls him on it. I'm thinking that's somewhat autobiographical on the author's part. Either a description of himself, or of something he's been accused of by others.

scidata said...

Dr. Brin: Scidata there are not enough paying customers for that launch rate.

I completely agree. However, the most intense 'spacers' aren't driven by spreadsheets and transactional market analysis. Man does not live by bread alone (secular context).

locumranch said...

Alan_B suggests that allopathic medicine may be 'faith-based' and I concur, as this is the typical distinction that one makes between low-trust & high-trust societies, wherein the low-trust society is most often defined as one in which interpersonal trust (aka 'one's faith in one's fellow man') is low due to an absence of shared ethical values and the high-trust society is one in which one's faith in one's fellow man (aka 'interpersonal trust') remains high due to strongly shared ethical values.

I speak, of course, of a once Enlightened West that was once fairly homogenized high-trust society with strongly shared ethical values but is no longer, having long since transitioned into a fractured heterogeneous low-trust society with divergent & non-homogeneous values, although many delusional leftists still insist that all these irreconcilable contradictions can be magically resolved by a DEI-inducing "abracadabra" like incantation.

That allopathic medicine can be strongly affected by these same social currents, this is the incredibly obvious conclusion, as very few of you would trust the well-being of you & your families to even the best accredited physician who despises all of your valued ethical beliefs, and this incredibly obvious conclusion extends to all concerned, regardless of one's stated preference for either a confederate forage cap or a union kepi.

That Alfred finds the recycled zones_of_thought trope to be "kinda refreshing", it stands to reason that it is this very (short-sighted) mindset which explains why so many of our intelligentsia are so perfectly infatuated with the failed tropes of socialism & communism, even when their success absolutely requires the unlikely appearance of god descending on a wire in order to save us all from repeated rack & ruin.

And, at least in the case of the NY Trump trial, it seems that your progressive god has delivered, finding Trump guilty on all counts, until these wires are revealed to all & clipped, and your false god comes tumbling down.


Best

Larry Hart said...

This just in...

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/05/30/nyregion/trump-trial-verdict

Trump Guilty on All Counts

...
The felony conviction calls for a sentence of up to four years behind bars, but Mr. Trump may never see the inside of a prison cell. He could receive probation when he is sentenced, and he is certain to appeal the verdict — meaning it may be years before the case is resolved. Still, the jury’s decision is an indelible moment in America’s history, concluding the only one of four criminal cases against Mr. Trump that was likely to go to trial before Election Day.
...

Unknown said...

Alfred,

Vinge used the concept of the Singularity in his 'Peace War' series, too, and apparently used planetary devastation and a bureaucratic world government to slow down the likely pace of human development. I'm not as sanguine about the likelihood of social singularities, but to someone who lived through the changes from the late 40's to the 2020's, I suppose it was a logical extension of his life. Heinlein put a graph in one of his books showing the increase in maximum human vehicle speed over time and noted that we'd be due for light speed about, I think, 2200 if the curve continued. I think that is incredibly unscientific, but that's just me.

I suspect plateau effects and 'friction' in the Clausewitz sense will have something to say about our continued progress - large parts of our world society do not want swift change and there are many people who want a return to some imagined, simpler age. If not the Peace Authority, it'll be some other group or conglomeration. Here's hoping our 'course correction' doesn't tip us over into the Mad Max future.

Pappenheimer

David Brin said...

And so we shift to a tsunami of memes calling New York sin city and hence no jury trial can be fair! A city that raised all the Trumps and made them rich. One that sends floods of its tax revenues to prop up red states. The 'hero city'
pride of Rudy Giuliani, cannot have unbiased juries. The same movement that used to claim that the only true democracy was exemplified by Grand Juries now declares that GJs and trial juries - even in Red States and where the jurors are mostly white retirees - are always manipulated fools! Because GJs across the land have indicted - and trial juries convicted - upward towards one HUNDRED times as many Republican politicians and associated factotums as Democrats. For crimes that range (very often) to child predation/perversion...

... all of which would indict the GOP as a criminal enterprise, unless you concoct a neutralizing narrative. And they have! That all of it - hundreds of examples plus lost elections - results from a nebulous vast CONSPIRACY! One that operates with inhuman perfection, never-ever-even-once leaving any solid, palpable evidence, under the very noses of the governors and other officials and GOP appointed judges in red states.

Yeh, that's the ticket. A vast conspiracy. The "FBI is the Enemy of the People!"

No, it is the enemy of Vlad Putin - the MAGA lord, even higher than Donald Trump. And I have wager offers (give odds) that Don won't reach November, as his former masters realize they can no longer 'control him.'

All of our lives are endangered by Democrat polemical incompetence... e.g. at showing the perfect overlap, now, of the Kremlin's Enemies List with the declared enemies denounced by MAGA.

David Brin said...

No jail! But I'd love to see one day/month of community service with inmates at Riker's Island.

Alan Brooks said...

as he’s an ex-president, he deserves an extra bologna sandwich at Rikers.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.threads.net/@stonekettle

Somewhere right now, Hillary Clinton is sipping chardonnay and smiling a cold, cold smile.

Larry Hart said...

The "Rude Pundit" is not everyone's cuppa, but he fits the moment:

https://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2024/05/18-quick-takes-on-34-convictions.html

1. I was at a pub in London when I saw the news that rapist Donald Trump was convicted of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. A few beers in and sitting with a couple of other Americans, we let out a cheer and an exhale of relief. If I hadn't already been drunk, I'd've gotten drunk because fuck, yeah.
...
4. If regular people can easily understand the complexities of this case and find him guilty, imagine how easy it's gonna be if, say, the Georgia case or the documents case ever go to trial. That shit's simple. If this was Ulysses, the documents case is the fucking Cat in the Hat.

5. Give some motherfuckin' respect to Stormy Daniels. She's been put through hell by Trump's goons and his idiot hordes of MAGA fucknuts. She's gonna have to endure that bullshit for the rest of her life. But she sat on that stand and told Trump and his attorney to go fuck themselves. And the jury obviously took a porn star's word over a former president's about whether or not they fucked. Or, more accurately, whether or not Trump fucked her badly.
...
8. I'm honestly afraid for Judge Merchan, his family (especially his daughter), Alvin Bragg, the jurors, and the witnesses because it just takes a couple of Trump's delusional mongrels to get murdery. That's how goddamned low Trump has brought this country.

9. Lemme address the MAGA freaks: have some self-respect, you fucking losers. Go support any of a hundred other Republican dickheads who are as racist and stupid as you are but aren't convicted felons and rapists. Walk the fuck away already.

10. I know you won't because you're such self-hating fucking dumbasses, but I thought I'd suggest it.

11. Seriously, how fucking sorry-ass do you need to be to sit there and think that every single juror, members of the law enforcement, judges, and officials are all in a massive conspiracy, that everything is "rigged," rather than just fucking accepting that the cockscab is a criminal and you've been suckered?
...

Alan Brooks said...

Tomorrow at 11AM, Trump is to hold a press conference wherein he will bitterly complain of “two-tiered” courts, and LIB’RAL judges. He’ll say he is the victim of the biggest American witch hunt since 1692.
Trump will announce that this is no longer the America he once knew, and “the Left is destroying America.”
He will say that this is the saddest moment in our nation’s history—and repeat how his conviction is an enormous witch hunt.
Then he’ll fly to Mar-a-Largo on a broomstick.

Tony Fisk said...

The felon Trump must now stand on the courage of his convictions.

All 34 of them.

None of the jurists should have anything to fear for now. Any acts of stochastic terrorism they experience would be more than a bit pointed.

Mind you, if he does get reinstalled, then God help NY!

David Brin said...

LH: I don’t fret about Stormy. I am quite sure she lives for this and sees many plusses.

As for murder MAGAs, I have faith in the scores of FBI etc undercover agents who are enduring quasi hell – and getting tattoos and doing unpleasant things in order to protect us.

I will say that Rude Pundit at least generally pointed at the imbecility of the overall Grand Conspiracy swill. That’s rare cogency but it’s only effective if you make it more than an assertion but a challenge. A contest of blatant facts, like how many MILLIONS of Americans would have to be in-on-it, keeping perfect secrecy, making no mistakes and ignoring lavish ‘whistle blower’ rewards offered by Fox/Kochs etc.

Paradoctor said...

I don't call them conspiracy "theorists": I call them conspiracy "fantasists". Theories need evidence and logic; not so for fantasies.

I regard the Grand Conspiracy theory - that "they're all in on it" - to be charming in its sunny optimism, for it vastly overestimates how much control anyone has. In my darker view, Chaos has power over Power.

A friend of mine and I have a gentleman's disagreement. He says that there are cabals of immense power in control. I say that those cabals are fools whose powers are illusory. We consider each other to be optimists.

Larry Hart said...

The cast of the Stephanie Miller show is having a "thirty-fourgasm" on live radio.

Larry Hart said...

Tony Fisk:

Mind you, if he does get reinstalled, then God help NY!


Probably something along the lines of...

https://yonkerstimes.com/gov-nys-nyc-officials-to-the-public-drop-dead/

Hard to believe it was almost 40 years ago when in the midst of a fiscal crisis in New York City, the headline in the NY Daily News read, ‘FORD TO NYC: DROP DEAD.’ Then President Gerald Ford refused to bailout New York City in the midst of a fiscal crisis stating he would veto any bill calling for “a federal bail-out of New York City.”


But, I'll go with the line from Casablanca :
"There are parts of New York, Major, that I would advise you not to try to invade."

Larry Hart said...

Caveat emptor that I am often wrong about such things, but occasionally my intuition is correct.

Back in the immediate post-9/11 period, all politicians including Democrats felt that they had to be on board with President W and the War On (Some) Terror. One reason that then-Senator Hillary Clinton has the "war monger" label hung on her is that she supported the war in Iraq at the time. It seemed common wisdom to even most* liberals at the time that one either supported the war effort or committed political suicide.

* Props to Bernie Sanders for bucking the trend.

As an observer at the time, I felt that those liberal Senators were misguided in that assumption. Yes, the short-term mood was such that the war was inevitable, but it seemed to me that it wouldn't be long before they would regret those votes and wish they had stood on principle and been on the right side of history.

By 2006 or so, my assessment seemed to be vindicated. Certainly it helped Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries that he hadn't been a senator taking a vote in the Iraq war while Hillary had voted for it.

I'm getting the same vibe off of the very serious pundits proclaiming that it's not a time for Trump opponents to celebrate, because yesterday was "a sad day for America." I think the sad days were when Trump committed crimes and treason, not when he finally faced a tinge of comeuppance. I'm feeling that the celebrants will be on the right side of history, and not that far into the future either.

Don Gisselbeck said...

"Convicted felon Trump" is less unwieldy than "Very Stable Clairvoyant 215lb Genius".

David Brin said...


Wold he get Secret Service in prison? I expect so. A weird scenario. But recall it would be a 'country club' prison. He'd get a lot healthier and even maybe buff! And be able to run in 2028. So... for many reasons, no. Though I'd love to see just one week in an orange jump suit... but no, no, no.

.... But once a month community service teaching reading to inmates at Rikers?
Forgetaboutit. It's the $$ fines, stupid.

As for the Secret Service? What if Don charges JoBee across the debate stage? Biden's team is presumably bigger? SIlly thoughts. What I DO hope is that DT's Secret Service team checks his food and protects him well. If he seems to be torching the GOP - OR if he's about to sweep back in with a wave of brownshirt fanatics - either way, the oligarchs have much to fear. They will be weighing the Howard Beale option.

We do not need that martyrdom. Do good work, protection detail! Do it well.


https://www.myfoxzone.com/article/news/verify/would-former-president-trump-get-secret-service-protection-prison-fact-check/536-d107b53f-9f7d-4a88-a721-9463e6a5e3c8

David Brin said...

DT's Veep choice will be very telling. If he makes it a Bushite or someone the Bushites could control - Nikki Haley for example - then I will change the odds I offer re him making it to inauguration, let alone the election. I doubt the oligarch will allow it.

If he does the usual Republican thing and chooses a horribly unqualified running mate, it might be personal life insurance.

locumranch said...

GJs across the land have indicted - and trial juries convicted - upward towards one HUNDRED times as many Republican politicians and associated factotums as Democrats.
... all of which would indict the GOP as a criminal enterprise, unless you concoct a neutralizing narrative.


And we know that neutralizing narrative as Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI), a progressive syllogism that declares that any difference in prosecutory outcome is proof of systemic bias, institutional corruption & racial injustice.

That the West has become a Low-Trust Society rife with fractious tribalism, this is what our fine host fails to recognize when he gloats about a progressive dominance that's about as durable as a house of cards built on shifting sands.

See! the tavern lights are low;
Black’s the night, and how you shrink!
God! and is it time to go?

Ah! the clock is always slow;
It is later than you think;
Sadly later than you think;

Far, far later than you think.


It's all gloat and no resilience.


Best

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

If he makes it a Bushite or someone the Bushites could control - Nikki Haley for example - then I will change the odds I offer re him making it to inauguration, let alone the election. I doubt the oligarch will allow it.

If he does the usual Republican thing and chooses a horribly unqualified running mate, it might be personal life insurance.


If he dies before the election, I don't think the Veep nominee automatically becomes the presidential nominee. I'm not sure what happens in that case. At the state level, the candidate who ran against John Ashcroft for governor of Missouri stayed on the ballot after he died, and "he" won. I believe the state party then named his replacement. Again, I have no idea how this works at the federal level.

If he dies between being elected and being inaugurated, I have heard that the vice president is always sworn in first, so I suppose Vance (or whoever) would be sworn in as veep, and then immediately become president at noon EST when the office becomes vacant. Then, he'd choose his new veep. But that doesn't apply to death before the election.


Larry Hart said...

Well, I haven't seen this anywhere else, but I have no reason to doubt it. Looks like Trump can vote after all.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2024/Items/May31-1.html

When it comes to voting rights, Florida defers to out-of-state laws on disenfranchisement when dealing with out-of-state convictions. In other words, Trump might be a Florida man, but it's New York law that will decide whether he can vote or not in the 2024 election. And under New York law, a felon can vote as long as they are not in prison. Given that Trump won't be anytime soon, he will thus be able to vote this year. That actually works against him. When reporters (or a debate moderator) asks: "Will you vote for the Florida initiative enshrining abortion in the state Constitution?" he can't say: "I am not allowed to vote."

Alan Brooks said...

Lago.

David Brin said...

Cultists assume their enemies are also cultists, jerking off to never-checked incantations. Partisans whose party is entirely controlled by its fanatics and pupeteer-oligarchs will assume that their opponents are similarly fanatical.

Fortunately, delusional cultists are delusional. And we are nothing like them. Unlike the gone-mad fascist/commie/feudal/Putinist right, the US blue coalition is NOT controlled by its dismal radicals.

Outside of a few cities like SanFran & Chicago, the Democratic Party is almost entirely run by modernist pragmatists, as illustrated by the 2021-22 Pelosi/Biden bills. Which have had spectacularly-proved beneficial/pragmatic outcomes. Like today's tsunami of re-industrialization of America.

A new golden age of US manufacturing... utterly ignored by the foxite masturbatory ravings about the 5% of Democrats who are woke-raving bully-maniacs.

This is why members of every fact profession - including lifelong Republican military officers and FBI agents - and nearly all scientists etc - are fleeing the GOP in a flood, as they and ALL fact users are attacked nightly and daily on Fox etc. An enemies list that overlaps perfectly with the enemies list of "ex" commissar Putin.

David Brin said...

"If he dies between being elected and being inaugurated, I have heard that the vice president is always sworn in first, so I suppose Vance (or whoever) would be sworn in as veep, and then immediately become president..."

Another reason to prevent the whole thing... and with a DP Senate & House.

Alfred Differ said...

Locumranch, (everyone else can skip over this safely)

…mindset which explains why so many of our intelligentsia are so perfectly infatuated with the failed tropes of socialism & communism…

I'm going to partially agree with you. The infatuation is there but I don't agree with the cause you suggest. I se this dating back to the failed revolutions of 1848-49 in Europe when the old Liberal movement wanted a bloodbath in Eastern Europe and the Reactionaries managed to hold on to power. Many in the Intelligentsia left the movement and returned to something that felt more emotionally sound. Socialism at its roots is an old system of ethics dating back to humanity's days as nomadic hunter-gatherers. Sharing and Indirect Reciprocity were the foundations of Justice back then.

Many well educated people still believe this old form of ethics is still the right thing for all of us, but the Liberals knew better. It works on the small scale where markets aren't necessary, but in inter-band trading it starts to fall apart. Markets need something closer to liberalism to function.

V.Vinge's slow zone cultures exhibited a wide range of options for how they self-organized, but only the traders who spent much of their time between the stars (and out of each other's reach) really lasted any length of time. All the planet-bound cultures tended to arrive, grow, and then explode or whimper into nothingness. The one protagonist he wrote about that tried to organize the traders into their own civilization was essentially dooming them all.

Not everyone in the Intelligentsia committed treason by turning back to Socialism. Many but not all. Many today understand the distinction and remain loyal to the old school ideals of liberalism. Fortunately for us all, the hardline believers of Socialism have mostly been pushed aside. The debate now is how much socialism we can tolerate in the interests of capturing support from Progressives.

…even when their success absolutely requires the unlikely appearance of god descending on a wire in order to save us…

Ha ha! No. All they really need to do is point a finger at guys like you and they've got a scapegoat. You make it WAY too easy for them to do it too.

YOU are the one living in a low-trust environment as a result of the choices you make.
My environment is much more trusting and we are managing to cope.

Best

Alan Brooks said...

Loc,
What date did the Trump verdict come down? May 29th.
Year the Versailles Treaty was signed: nineteen Nine-teen.
Stock market crash? Nineteen twenty-Nine.
Nineteen thirty-Nine: onset of WWII.
NATO: Nineteen forty-Nine.
What year did Barack HUSSEIN Obama get in the saddle? Two thousand and Nine.
What is 9 turned upside-down?:
6.
And finally, how many letters are there in Soros’ name, George?:
6.
—-
Is your darkroom sufficiently dark so that the overall picture can come into focus?

David Brin said...

Jeez Alan & Alfred, you know he does this. When shunned long enough, he reverts to attempting to sound interesting, leading off with sci fi erudition and vaguely testable assertions, before raving a dollop of more-normal insanity. It worked for a while but most of us can now see it just encourages more fecal spewing. Please don't feed the troll.

Alan Brooks said...

Alright, if you want me to completely cease replying to him, naturally will do so. Yet if we can’t communicate, attempt to, with someone as smart as Loc, then who? ALL of his sort that I have talked to are maybe 70- 80 less educated than he.
We don’t wish to be walking echo chambers, only communicating with those who already agree with us.

Unknown said...

Alan,

Just remember that some people accuse God of having a doctor complex. And yeah, you're feeding the troll. I guess I am, too, by proxy. I'll...break off now, before something burns.

Pappenheimer, going to get the egg rolls in the oven.

Alan Brooks said...

You’ve validated what OGH writes on this—so no more comments addressed to you-know-who. A request, though: sometime in the future someone could invite a tame rightist/religionist here to CB.
This weekend I have an appointment with Mormons; in the past the conversations have invariably been decided by such rightists. This time I’m going to tell them if they won’t accept my topics, the discussion ends immediately.
There’re ways of dealing with them.

Tony Fisk said...

sometime in the future someone could invite a tame rightist/religionist here to CB.

That'd be detritus2(? I think he changed his monicker), although I haven't seen him for a while, and I don't think he'd appreciate being called 'tame'.

Larry Hart said...

@Tony Fisk,

I don't think he'd appreciate being called "detrius" either. :)

You're referring to Tacitus2.

Larry Hart said...

In what sense does DJT claim to be a "political prisoner" when he's not in prison?

Unknown said...

The same way he's been treated worse than Lincoln, but does not have a bullet in his head.

Pappenheimer

P.S. Detritus was quite a smart troll if you took his core temp well below freezing, but this isn't Discworld. Unfortunately. Trying to imagine the end note for a rumpt-based character...it would probably involve Sam Vimes and a tall building.

David Brin said...

Alan no one is policing you. I could ban him if I wanted. I frankly think he does a service by showing us the range of rationalizations for hate that spew from his cult. I withdraw my request. You can answer him any time you like.

But as for ministering to the intelligent rightist? We did have Tacitus and GMT sometimes qualifies. But if L is an example of that species there truly is no hope.

----

Mormons. Whenever I'm in Salt Lake I visit and give a talk to the LDS Transhumanism Society, talking with them about how essentially science fictional and 'tenshumanism' oriented LDS truly ought to be, given their foundations. And I always say "except Utah" when I list the many many turpitudes in which Red stated by far average higher than blues. One cannot dispute the health of their offspring! But I give up on their ever realizing that theyir form of conservatism has vastly more in common with liberalism than with MAGA confederatism.

---

Alan Brooks said...

Lincoln Cannon (sounds like a Civil War monument) is one Mormon to talk with.

Tony Fisk said...

I was indeed referring to Tacitus, as I realised after the post.

Larry Hart said...

Heh. My intuition about my daughter's generation has some supporting evidence:

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/29/opinion/marriage-sex-gender-divide.html

...
Young people are not only marrying less and partnering less; they’re also having less sex. Traditionally, older folks worried that young people were too promiscuous; now perhaps we geezers should fret about youthful celibacy.
...

Larry Hart said...

Pappenheimer:

The same way he's been treated worse than Lincoln


But that's a comparative statement. "I'm a political prisoner" (emphasis mine) is an assertion of a fact which is obviously false, even at the moment he is speaking it. He's not in prison.

It's like, "She turned me into a newt!"

David Brin said...

I confess (mea culpa) that I was maybe too aggressive with Tacitus2. I kept demanding wagers over very specific fact-checkable, falsifiable assertions. It IS the most neglected and effective technique that's horribly overlooked and under-used, nowadays in the face of obdurate incantaion fetishes!

Still... maybe I shouldn't 'a been so pushy with it, toward a valued community member.

Unknown said...

"She turned me into a newt!"

Sadly, rumpt did not get better.

Pappenheimer

P.S. I'm wondering if future climatologists, if there are any, will argue with each other over how we could possibly have missed the danger signals while canoeing to work. The answer is that we didn't. There was just too much money in not doing anything about it.

John Viril said...

I am interested in what marriage arrangements were like, in nations that had lost millions of men.SO little is said that there must be deep social stigma and shame over the inevitable resulting polygamy.

Intriguing question. I've never seen an analysis of this issue; but, then again, I've never looked for such a study.

I do happen to know a factoid that might give a bit of a clue about it. The fiction that comes from the greatest generation is incredibly sanitized and their cultural values of marriage, sex before marriage, etc are highly "traditional."

However, which generation shows the highest infidelity rates?

I've give you a clue: it's not the "free love" hippies who came of age during the sexual revolution. It's the "greatest generation."

WTF? The people with the most puritanical sexual mores are the ones that cheated the most?!?!?!

However, when you consider that a lot of people got sent overseas during the war, it makes perfect sense. Many soldiers cheated on their spouses due to separation. Many wives hooked up with local men while their husbands were away. The war caused many breakups among the unmarried.

Part of the answer, Dr. Brin, seems to be widespread cultural denial (at least, that's how America seemed to deal with it). That generation spent their youth in a world filled with chaos and turned hard toward traditional order. Plus, it seemed like there was mass collective denial, "Nope, never happened."

I keep thinking of Robert Heinlein's Lazarus Long proclaiming as eternal human truth: Everyone lies about sex.



In many countries where there was a shortage of men, young women hooked up with occupying soldiers. Many GIs brought home war brides from France, Germany, Italy, and England. I don't have information about the Eastern Bloc, but I suspect there might be a similar story on the other side of the Iron Curtain.




David Brin said...

"There was just too much money in not doing anything about it."

That certainly was the driver a decade+ ago. Now? I don't believe it.All credible investment potential is in new techs.

No. The war vs climate science is now an experiment in human gullibility/stupidity. Plus the oligarchs know they can never re-establish feudalism with the fact professions in the way. Hence climate denialism is a weapon in the war on science, and not the other way around.

They figure if there's a major crisis, the mobs will act like in A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ and exterminate the nerds. It's total delusional idiocy, of course. We know where all the richie-rich prepper bastions are and that's where the mobs will head.

David Brin said...

Yes to all you say, JV... and those are MINOR deviations compared to the fact that the USSR desperately needed babies after WWII. There is STILL a baby-bust 'echo' 80 years after the war ended. But I doubt very much that ten million women went entirely chioldless across those times. There were likely a vast array of stories by women moving to a new town with babe, explaining that her 'husband was lost heroically in Korea' or in a coal mine accident in Siberia. And the state likely had sly ways to encourage... and I don't know a thing about it. Just guessing.

David Brin said...

onward

onward