Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Changing Face of Earth -- and back to the sea?

There may be a silver lining to what's happened; the War on Science is now explicit. And defections to the side of science will turn into a flood. Stay tuned for info about the Scientists' March on DC. Organized by Meanwhile, get informed. Starting with the biggest picture:

Why Most Planets Will Either Be Lush or Dead: The Gaia hypothesis implies that once alien life takes hold, it will flourish. In this excerpt from his new book Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future, David Grinspoon offers an insightful and – at times – inspiringly poetical view of the Gaia Hypothesis… that life inveigles its way into most of the observable properties of a living world, like Earth, much as I described in a novel called … Earth.  

A small quibble – or two. David Grinspoon suggests that the collapse of Gaian homeostasis on Venus and Mars was a matter of luck or happenstance. But the famous “Goldilocks” or Continuously Habitable Zone (CHZ) around a star has its limits. James Kasting has shown that life can adapt liberally and our star’s CHZ  extends beyond the orbit of Mars… that is, it would have, if Mars has been much bigger and able to retain a dense, CO2 rich atmosphere. For, out that far, liquid seas would need a thick-warming greenhouse blanket.

Down here where we are? Well, Earth skates the very inner edge of our sun’s CHZ, according to Kasting. Our Gaia balance depends upon an atmosphere so transparent that it can allow almost all stray heat to escape. We can afford only enough CO2 for plants to survive, and no more. (Which helps explain why our politics are no longer “left” vs. “right.” Rather, they are “science-heeding” versus "Idiocracy.”) 

Alas, poor Venus – farther in – never stood a chance. Indeed, as the Sun continues to grow warmer, neither will our Earth. Unless, over the course of the next few hundred million years, we become smart and mighty enough to move our beloved mother world. (It can happen!)

Earth: Evolution of a Habitable Planet: A cool site shows what Earth looked like, at intervals across 200 M years… also the percentage of land and ice area, indicating that we actually have an anomalous amount of land right now and global warming seems likely to end that phase. 

It makes you ponder. The human past must have been one vast desert of wasted potential.  In fact, I believe this is one cause of our prodigious intellectual overshoot.  We had to develop vast and multiple routes to sapience, just to get a little of it, now and then.
 == Castle Sovereign Redux ==

The idea of ‘seasteading’ – escaping the laws, regulations, and taxes of life on terra firma by establishing an outpost in international waters – has long enchanted Libertarians.  I got to see some of the early plans being touted by Internet mogul (and now Trump adviser) Peter Thiel, along with Patri Friedman and others, whose Seasteading Institute planned a floating 'start-up country' off the coast of San Francisco -- built on oil-rig like platforms in international waters. Back in 2011, I published a critique of their plans, pointing out a number of flaws and ways that they might be improved…

 … though now it seems that their new venture is taking most of my suggestions into account! Instead of floating or anchoring in storm-tossed international waters, prey to violent weather, pirates, mutineers and/or any legacy nation with a Navy and an excuse, they now plan to build a floating techno-libertarian city in a French Polynesian lagoon, protected by a surrounding reef and by one of the world’s 200 vested sovereignties.

This NY Times article offers a bit more detail, while leaving out all the libertarian and oligarchic implications. 

In fact, from what I can glean, the plan is almost perfectly cloned from a future seastead-resort-refuge that I portrayed in Existence, perched atop the drowned remnants of a fictional Polynesian country called Pulupau. 

(And yes folks, that’s the modern economy.  I cannot count the number of technologies and solutions that I’ve given away, for free. You’re welcome.)

Speaking of civilization at sea, shouldn’t we prove we are civilized?  By not murdering the smartest, topmost species out there?  A steep decline in Orca population in Puget Sound is directly attributable to harassment by whale-watching boats.  A modest expansion in a motor free zone next to San Juan Island could let these majestic creatures raise their young and hunt salmon in peace. Learn more at

== A Changing Climate ==

The polar vortex is slipping south again as our climate shifts. Record cold will strike middle America.If you are curious and sapient, read this informative article. If not? If you are a member of the hate-science cult? Welcome to the world you helped create.  See The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics and Driving Us Crazy! by atmospheric scientist Michael E. Mann and Tom Toles.

Earth sets a high temperature record for the third straight year. The breadth of warmth is unparalleled

"Every single state and every single city in the Lower 48 states was warmer than normal in 2016. For the nation, the year ranked second-warmest in records that date back to 1895." 

Why is this good news for the cult? Because 2016 was not warmer than the spectacular record-breaker, 2012. And so, they can claim, as they have done before: "You see?  There's been cooling!"

They used this lying sophistry ever since the previous El Nino spike -- 1997 -- even though excluding that spike, each year was warmer than the one before. Watch as they do the same now, with 2012. Only now we know better than to try to argue reasonably with the dogmatically unreasonable. Now the answer is simple. You are science-hating betrayers of our children. Period.

Bumblebees are endangered! I have three honeybee hives and will be setting up our first bumblebee house for Mason bumbles, purchased from Crown Bees. Consider this cool – and patriotic – hobby. Here I am in my bee suit... 

== More science! ==

Elsewhere I tell of my own, small role in the historical wisdom of getting the lead out of gasoline, which we now know to have been a paramount reason for rising crime rates through the 90s -- and their plummet since. Now ponder how many other avoidable tragedies we need to address....

Like the economic, criminal and even terrorist effects in areas where there is little iodine in the diet, typically remote inland areas and semi-arid equatorial climates where no marine foods are eaten. Iodine deficiency gives rise to hypothyroidism, symptoms of which are extreme fatigue, goiter, mental slowing, depression, weight gain, and low basal body temperatures. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable intellectual disability, a result that occurs primarily when babies or small children are rendered hypothyroidic by a lack of the element. The addition of iodine to table salt has largely eliminated this problem in wealthier nations, but iodine deficiency remains a serious public health problem today in the developing world. Iodine deficiency is also a problem in certain areas of Europe. Information processing, fine motor skills, and visual problem solving are improved by iodine repletion in moderately iodine-deficient children.

Oh, you simplistic folks who think the solution to "terrorists" is bombs.  Oh, I do not deny their last resort necessity. But how about a few ounces of prevention? Your first, pragmatic -- (and Jesus-like) -- reflex should be to reach out and help.

== Fake News, new and old ==

When Edward Jenner developed a cowpox-based vaccine that proved effective against smallpox, what ensued was a series of spectacular successes in humanity’s age-old struggle against disease, with hundreds of millions of lives saved. And yet, the mystical “vaxxers” of that era fought progress at every turn, as related in this article.

 In 1800, Benjamin Mosley of the Royal College of Physicians alluded to the story of the Minotaur—offspring of Queen Pasiphae and a Cretan Bull— warning “the human character may undergo strange mutations” thanks to exposure to cowpox. He suggested “some modern Pasiphae may rival the fables of old”—that vaccinated women might be driven to run madly in search of the nearest bull to copulate with. Soon enough, a different British doctor reported the birth of a “cow poxed ox-faced boy,” and the newly formed Anti-Vaccine Society published a cartoon titled “The Cow-Pock or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation!” It featured miniature cows growing out of the arms, faces, and buttocks of the vaccinated. By the mid-19th century, the next generation of anti-vaxxers had a whole body of pseudoscience behind them, including faked and fraudulent statistics showing that vaccines failed to prevent smallpox—or even increased smallpox risk.”

So… Fake News isn’t new.  It’s just faster and more dangerous, today.

Finally, a few words from my hero. 

 "...I therefore imagine that the internal parts [of the Earth] might be a fluid more dense, and of greater specific gravity than any of the solids we are acquainted with, which therefore might swim in or upon that fluid. Thus the surface of the Earth would be a shell, capable of being broken and disordered by the violent movements of the fluid on which it rested."

That figure was shrugged off as a silly old man, a Romantic scientific has-been. It would take another 180 years or so for Benjamin Franklin's conjecture to be proven to be accurate.
Why mention that now? I need no excuse to mention anything uttered by old Ben. There is one reason, above all others, to save the civilization that he fathered -- along with a lot of other dads & moms. I want to make him... and them... proud.

You should, too.


Dwight Williams said...

Speaking of science pros doing their jobs in honourable defiance? From the pro-civilization forces on the religious side of the aisle, I had this pointed out to me tonight:

Jumper said...

How far do we need to move Venus? Would an orbit halfway from Mars and us be unstable? How long would it take to cool off? Could we steal vast quantities of nitrogen from Titan and bring it to Mars? Mars, oddly enough, has roughly the same amount of CO2 as Earth -- but nothing much else. Mars has water to melt but Venus needs an ocean.

Tim H. said...

One thing that might be going on in the "War on science" is that it's too easy to take an evangelical tone, which can be a quick way to see a door slammed in your face. Better to talk about energy independence, efficiency and lower energy bills, they won't mind the ecological benefits.

Sapphireharp said...

This might amuse you. The oldest 'fake news' I heard of was a trend of fake books being written around the time of the bible. The extent of the problem was that books of falsified events and knowledge were created to delegitimize the content of other, similar, fake books.

(It was a reference in 'Misquoting Jesus' somewhere.)

Paul451 said...

Re: Lead in criminals.

While I get that the correlation is strong (much better than any other proffered explanation), what I find odd about this idea is that it has such a profound effect of crime rates (violent crime rates falling 4-fold since the early '90s), why aren't there similarly dramatic effects elsewhere? A whole generation of children entering adulthood without the damage of mild persistent lead poisoning and... only crime rates are affected?

Paul451 said...

I was going to make a snarky comment about digital distractions dumbing them back down again, but honestly... Millennials and their younger siblings have already read than any other generation in history. And written more, however vapid.

TCB said...

Paul451, I am immensely impressed with how well-read James Joyce was, to cite an example of a scholar of letters from a more literary time... he was a walking encyclopedia of references, myths, history, and so on...

...and then I think of people I know, who have at least heard of hundreds of different bands, TV shows, and computer games, and who still have managed to read a few books; who know how to operate a wide variety of electronic devices, often with their own abstruse rules and quirks, and who can drive a car, operate a drill or power saw...

Point is, I'm not *really* sure we're generally dumber now, in fact we likely are not: we are simply inculcated and adapted to a different semantic environment.

Sorta related: amazing story in new Scientific American about analyzing myths as if they were genomes. Similar versions tend to group with similar haplotypes (i.e. when people walked across Beringia to the Americas, they took their versions of some myths with them). The new article deals with versions of the Sky Hunt myth in which a hunter pursues a beast which goes into the sky and becomes Orion, the Pleaides, or in the oldest versions of the story, the Big Dipper. Versions of this myth are found in Ovid, the Berbers, the Cherokee...

Look at this 2012 study by the same man, Julien d'Huy,on the Polyphemus myth. In the Homer version, Odysseus and his men escape the cave of the cyclops Polyphemus by hiding among a flock of sheep. There are versions of this story too among American Indians, and the analysis seems to indicate that the oldest version of this story (and others) existed at least 18,000 years ago. I mean, I knew (on a gut level) that some stories such as the Odyssey had to have elements a bit older than we could prove, but really... this impresses me.

Joyce would be SO happy about that.

David Brin said...

Jumper read my terraforming Venus story "The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss," in INSISTENCE OF VISION!

donzelion said...

Meanwhile, "Rogue NASA" is putting out a call for help in preserving their data in the likely case that Trump decides he knows more science than the rocket scientists.

No need for an island repository, or seasteading. California suffices for all of good faith.

LarryHart said...

Not a big issue compared to others at the moment, but worth pointing out for when it will be needed later. In the category of "Should be a surprise to no one"...
Paul Krugman:

The Trump regime will clearly blow up the deficit, mainly through tax cuts for the rich. (Funny, isn’t it, how all the deficit scolds have gone quiet?)

Can even sane conservatives like Tacitus2 defend the Republican hypocrisy by which deficit spending and the national debt are existential threats to our country and our children when Democrats are in power, but become trivialities once Republicans assume office?

Paul SB said...

Paul 451,

re: Lead in Criminals

Lead is likely only one part of the picture, and probably few people have been connecting those dots. You would think that removing a wide-spread environmental toxin that damages the nervous system would elevate IQ scores, for instance. Well, IQ scores in the US have been going up since the 1950s, before tetraethyl lead was phased out of gasoline here (it is still used in many Latin American, Asian and African countries), so something else has been causing IQs to go up. Yes, they have been going up steadily since the end of WWII. The Staford-Binet (and all versions of the IQ test) is a norm-referenced test, meaning that the scores are curved to ensure that the same number (100) always comes out average. For the last several decades they have had to remake the test each year, making it more difficult each time. So a person who scored 120 back when Locumranch was in school would only score 100 today. The explanation? Before WW II, 50% of Americans lived on farms and only got an elementary school education. After the war, few soldiers wanted to return to lonely, empty farms and factory jobs were available to sustain them financially, turning America into a predominantly urban society, where compulsory education could be effectively enforced. More proof that intelligence is more of an acquired characteristic than genetic. But as far as lead goes, taking it out of the picture no doubt helped. Proving an effect size would be very difficult to do, though.

re: Lead in Locumranch

One thing that is really clear from his rants is that he assumes that everyone else is as evil-minded as he is. Thus his rant about transparency revealing so many evils that evil will become passé. You can always count on him for Projection. This is entirely typical of the conservative mindset. They find evil between their own ears and assume that it has to true for everyone, not just themselves and their locker-room buddies. This is entirely typical of people who are more sensitive than average to serotonin, which makes a rather rigid mindset and people who are upset if everything isn't always exactly the same. Serotonin sensitivity is directly implicated in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And probably all of our holy books were written by exactly these sorts of people.

LarryHart said...


re: Lead in Locumranch

Heh. I've mentioned before that back on the old "Cerebus" forum, I had a conservative buddy (who I actually met in person many times) with whom I would regularly argue politics in a way that we both mutually respected each other as sincere and logical--until President Obama was elected, at which point he went insane, repeating every Breitbart dystopian prediction as if it were established fact. I eventually had to stop engaging with him when the political became personal--his insistence that my political leanings made me unfit to raise my daughter who must be ashamed of me.

Our locum buddy seems to have gone the same route, from (at least self-perceived) speaker of uncomfortable truths to Our Host to insane jabbering fantasies of the Plantation South rising again mixed liberally (heh) with personal attacks. The thing is, the proximate cause is the opposite. My buddy Chris was driven insane by his side's shellacking at the polls. Loc has been driven insane by his side's win.

I guess I can understand the disappointment as deep down he has to realize that the twisted fantasy of the Confederacy sending in federal troops to burn Chicago on its march to the Great Lakes isn't happening. In real life, President Snow is not going to send in the Peacekeepers to throw a bag over Rahm Emmanuel's head, trash the city, and whip dissidents into submission. Not to mention that "There are some parts of [Chicago] that I'd advise you not to try to invade."

BTW, do you notice how no one seems to advise right-wingers that insulting their opponents and declaring not to care what they think is not a good way to get those people to vote for them?

Darrell E said...

Regarding moving planets, that seems like it would be much more complicated than a cursory examination of the idea might give one to imagine. I don't mean the actual mechanics of moving the planet. If you change the orbit of a planet, that is going to affect the orbit of everything else in the solar system, to one degree or another. Figuring out all of the significant affects is a difficult problem to solve. In order to move one planet you may end up having to move several other planets and deal with numerous other smaller bodies. And each additional body you move causes yet other perturbations in the orbits of other bodies in the system.

It seems like you'd have to figure out a new reasonably stable arrangement of all the bodies in the system and a timing / sequencing plan that allows you to move everything into the new arrangement in such a way that you don't discombobulate things during the process and end up with a bigger mess at the end rather than the arrangement you had planned.

LarryHart said...

Re: lifting the earth and the moon:

I realize we're talking about a timeframe in which many civilizations will rise and fall, but just keep this in mind. Our current civilization relies on specified measurements of the cycles of the earth's rotation and revolution as well as that of the moon around the earth. Also on information from any number of satellites currently in geosynchronous orbit. The effects of changes on all of these things would have to be taken into account.

Just sayin'

Jumper said...

I bought that book new, David, and enjoyed it. I certainly won't chintz out and buy a used copy of your work.

Yes, with supercomputers and our celestial research we should be able to prescribe new stable orbits, being aware of chaos entering the equations and forestalling disaster for at least a few millennia -- for which we have a certain amount of uncertainty about things now anyway.

If mass increases the faster an object goes, how fast does a proton have to leave my rocket exhaust to equal a kilogram of Atlas Centaur exhaust, we use now? Or what's the limit?

Politics: I am getting a cautious feeling the opposition (us) is crying wolf about some minor niggles that aren't panning out, compared to the real crimes we haven't been able to prove yet. I advise against being compartmentalized as the boy crying wolf.

Having said that I want those Trump tax returns now!

raito said...


RE: are we dumber?

I agree that we're educated differently. But there's still those out there who think we're dumber because most people don't have the same set of skills that were most prevalent a century ago. The example for me that was simultaneously the more depressing and the most amusing was the assertion that we're dumber because 'most people rely on technology and can't even use tools.' Completely ignorant of the fact that tools ARE technology, as well as the techniques for using them (and apparently ignorant of the irony of posting that statement on the internet). As well as using one of the most horrid, pernicious memes of modern times -- that only computers are technology.

As far as the spreading of myth, I once heard a concert by some folk signer who tracked the different versions of Gypsy Davy across a couple hundred years and 2 continents. Fascinating stuff.


Those who believe the Dems skyrocket the debt and deficit don't appear to have the math to understand the 2nd derivative. I will say that I hadn't heard anyone bring that up until I started reading here. And I went and dragged up the stats for myself (having had enough math to deal with it). And even though the debt did climb to double what it was at the end of the younger Bush's reign, The acceleration was lessening consistently. In fact, the sharpest rise in the velocity was during the last couple Bush years.

And to your other comment, there seem to be a lot of people who disagree about raising children. Those people see education as merely a vocational system. 'Teach workplace skills'. I get bovine stares of incomprehension every time I say that I'd prefer my children be hiring workers to being one, and that I prefer them to create the future in preference to being prepared for it. At least the teachers (one of the more basic knowledge professions) understand and agree. And really, from my point of view, if they learn to think, are literate and numerate, they're prepared for any job.

And there;s places where people I know well post politically. I'm pretty disappointed in them.

Paul SB,

Regarding IQ, a slightly personal rant. Mine is recorded to be either 0 or 200, depending on who you ask (my mother said 0, my sister 200). That's because I scored perfectly on mine in 2nd grade, way back when they were still doing it to everyone. The rant is that at first the school thought I'd cheated (how?). Then, they wanted to take me to the university for more testing (the test requiring 3 wrong answers in a row, if I recall correctly). My mother refused. Now, I'm not saying I'm a genius. What I AM saying is that they were looking for geniuses, and I'd have had a lot more opportunities if she'd let them test me further.

LarryHart said...

I'm further reminded of a throwaway line in Arthur Clarke's "Imperial Earth" in which a contract refers to the satellite of Titan "presently in orbit around the planet Saturn", which makes the protagonist wonder when exactly the lawyers expect that moon to leave orbit.

LarryHart said...


Those who believe the Dems skyrocket the debt and deficit don't appear to have the math to understand the 2nd derivative.
The acceleration was lessening consistently. In fact, the sharpest rise in the velocity was during the last couple Bush years

I wasn't even talking about whether Democrats or Republicans are better at controlling debt. What I meant was that when Democrats are in power, Republicans harp on the debt as a reason to reign in any kind of programs that Democrats support on the grounds that our most crucial and immediate need is to reign in debt. There's always talk about how we're unfairly encumbering our grandchildren, and how investors will flee the dollar and many other harbingers of doom.

As soon as Republicans are in power, this talk magically vanishes like smoke. It's not because they think Republicans will be more responsible. As we speak, Republicans (including arch deficit hawk Paul Ryan) are seriously proposing budgets that will explode the debt to $30 trillion or so in the next ten years, and not even pretending to justify this with arguments about good debt vs bad debt. Debt just isn't a concern at all any more. Nor was it under Bush, when Dick Cheney famously said "Reagan taught us deficits don't matter."

Why can't people remember this when Democrats are in power?

LarryHart said...


And to your other comment, there seem to be a lot of people who disagree about raising children. Those people see education as merely a vocational system. 'Teach workplace skills'. I get bovine stares of incomprehension every time I say that I'd prefer my children be hiring workers to being one, and that I prefer them to create the future in preference to being prepared for it. At least the teachers (one of the more basic knowledge professions) understand and agree. And really, from my point of view, if they learn to think, are literate and numerate, they're prepared for any job.

I agree with you, as did my parents when I started college in the 70s. But today's job market doesn't agree. "Prepared for any job" might as well be "prepared for the unemployment line" because employers aren't looking for prepared, well-rounded employees. They're looking for someone with very specific keywords on their resume.

This isn't really what I wanted to respond to, but it's a separate rant.

And there;s places where people I know well post politically. I'm pretty disappointed in them.

It took me a bit to remember which "other comment" of mine you were talking about. My formerly-sane conservative buddy didn't think I was a terrible parent because I believed in liberal teaching philosophy or anything of that sort. His case against me was the same as his jabbering against Obama--throw anything to the wall and see what sticks. I was unfit because, for example, I mentioned that my lack of expectation of any sort of secure financial future made me immune to fear over having a secure future threatened. He screeched back at me that hope for the future is self-evidently necessary for good parenting, and that my daughter should be rescued from me for her own good. This is someone who in all other contexts believed that intellect was much better than emotion, telling me I was a terrible parent for not being emotional enough.

Not to mention the irony of someone who foreswears marriage and child-raising as suckers' games lecturing on those subjects in the first place.

My daughter's best friend from kindergarten age has parents who are rabid Republicans. I've put up with their "Kill Obamacare Now" signs and their gushing over candidate Trump. And I'll complain about them in the abstract as I am doing now. But if I were to tell them that their daughter should be taken from them because their politics are dangerous to her, I wouldn't expect that we'd remain friends. That's what happened between me and the other guy.

anon said...

It seems pretty clear that the process of arctic amplification is already underway and self sustaining. Our window of opportunity for avoiding dangerous climate change has closed. We need to start focusing on adapting to the coming changes because we can't avoid them anymore.

LarryHart said...


The Hari Seldon quote I mentioned last post is appropriate:

"The fall of Trantor," said Seldon, "cannot be stopped by any conceivable effort. It can be hastened easily, however.

Likewise the fall of Earth. The next phase of climate-change denial will no doubt be "Ok, climate change is real, but we can't stop it." The implication being, if we're all going to die anyway, we might as well do it now!

Which brings to mind a routine that Eddie Murphy did in the 80s, wondering why anyone would shoot the pope. From memory:

Maybe he was going to hell, and he didn't want to wait in line with everybody.

He wanted to take the hell express.

"What did you do? Shoot the pope? Yeah, you can go right on through."

LarryHart said...

This is what I meant with respect to Republicans and deficits:

Republican lawmakers appear more than ready to open up the coffers for a $12 billion to $15 billion border wall, perhaps without the commensurate spending cuts that they demanded when it came to disaster aid, money to fight the Zika virus or funds for the tainted water system in Flint, Mich. They also seem to back a swelling of the federal payroll that Mr. Trump has called for in the form of a larger military and 5,000 more border patrol agents.

They have stayed oddly silent as Mr. Trump and Senate Democrats push a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, larger than one they rejected from President Barack Obama. Once fierce promoters of the separation of powers, Republicans are now embracing Mr. Trump’s early governing by executive order, something they loudly decried during Mr. Obama’s second term.

Berial said...

I believe what you are complaining about is know as 'lying' or it's close relation 'bullshit'.

The really amazing thing about it is the mysterious ability of large portions of the population to suddenly forget everything they were told for the previous 2-4 years (sometimes even longer) and then suddenly remember it again when 'their guys' aren't in power anymore.

It's sort of like the whole 'we need to cut taxes on the rich so they can spend more money and make everyone else richer too!' They've been doing that almost my whole life and non-surprisingly letting the rich avoid more and more taxes just results in them becoming richer and richer while our government starves itself with much more limited tax funds.

If evidence actually mattered in things like politics or economics we might actually be able to make a science out of them but I won't agree that they are science until they can make actual predictions that are worthy of the name.

anon said...

Larry, I don't understand how you can say my position is that of climate change denial.

Climate change is real, the climate system has become unbalanced because humans have been burning enormous amounts of fossil fuels. And now we have multiple feedback loops in play that will push the northern hemisphere into an equable climate.

The arctic sea ice forum is a terrific site to monitor what is happening in the arctic.

Don't become an artic amplification denier because you don't like the political implications. Reality first politics second.

LarryHart said...


The really amazing thing about it is the mysterious ability of large portions of the population to suddenly forget everything they were told for the previous 2-4 years

This is full-fledged 1984 "We have always been at war with Eurasia."

They don't so much forget what they've been told before as that they accept whatever they are being told right now, even the things that contradict the other things. They are asserting loyalty to their authority figure uber alles. The fact that they have open themselves up to ridicule by stating (Baghdad Bob style) things that are plainly untrue is a feature, not a bug. It demonstrates (to President Snow) how far they are willing to go to be loyal. They'll believe him rather than their lying eyes. The inquisitor is holding up five fingers, as long as that response is what stops the torture. Or in the words of Shakespeare's "As You Like It", lying before God amounts to a perverse show of "courage" :

But manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into compliment,
And men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too ;
He is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie and swears it.

The point of the interrogation scene in 1984 was not that Winston should believe that the correct answer to "What is 2 = 2?" is five any more than he should believe it to be four. He is to believe that the correct answer is "Whatever the party says it is." That's what supporters of Cheetolini are now reduced to--asserting that a donkey is a horse if President Snow says so.

This is not something to chuckle over. "This sophont is dangerous."

LarryHart said...


Larry, I don't understand how you can say my position is that of climate change denial.

I didn't.

I was only commenting on the fact that denial has morphed as certain things become obvious even to the most obtuse. So "The earth isn't warming" becomes "It's not our fault", and will no doubt soon be "Ok, it is our fault, but we can't do anything about it."

I wasn't arguing against you, just going off on a rueful tangent.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "[Republicans] have stayed oddly silent as Mr. Trump and Senate Democrats push a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, larger than one they rejected from President Barack Obama."

They know their billionaire/millionaire backers are salivating. The infrastructure plan appears to favor toll roads and tax cuts while ignoring crumbling bridges and public freeways. If you live in California and ever drive from San Diego to Orange County, take a look at the mess Darrell Issa made of the 5 Freeway, blocking infrastructure investment for 8 years under Obama while encouraging toll roads to 'fix the problem' (one that he and his ilk created).

If they can build a 'public' toll road, investing 12 cents and the remaining 88 cents paid by the taxpayers (and toll payers) - by controlling ownership, they get 50.1 cents back for every cent they pay in. Mathematically, for certain investors, 12 becomes 50 = 416% gains (in practice, it'll be a little less than that, since control does not necessarily mean profits - at first). Sucks if you're a commuter. And if you can control the pace of the roads (both the building and the flow of traffic), you can ensure that certain stretches near certain townships prosper through ancillary services (ExxonMobil gas stations? Wendys/Chik-Fil-A outlets?) - while the towns themselves are choked.

Not a bad deal, if you're a millionaire and get your workers to drive at their own cost.

LarryHart said...


The Hari Seldon bit was meant to complement what you said, not to argue against it.

raito said...


I usually preface my comments with the names of the commentor to note which comment inspired the response. Sometimes this isn't the best way if my comment goes off on a bit of a tangent.

I'm finding it a bit odd how often lately my thoughts are then reinforced by a book or movie. For example, we're conversing on education. My 5 year old son has a shirt that says, "Have spacesuit, Will travel". I casually mentioned that it was a book, and he, of course, wants me to read it to him. So I picked up a used copy over lunch. And there's Kip's father in the first few pages, saying exactly what we seem to agree on.

Though I disagree that employers aren't looking for well-rounded employees. HR departments aren't. At my last job, for all his faults, it wasn't my boss who thought I couldn't do the job. It was the HR department, despite the fact that I'd been doing the job well for 14 years. And I'd fairly constantly hear complaints about new hires not having a clue.

As to what to believe, since this is at least nominally sci-fi:

How many lights? (Just don't go crazy enough to see what they tell you to see.)

LarryHart said...


How many lights?

That Star Trek TNG episode was pretty obviously homaging 1984, even to the fact that the choice was between four and five.

(Just don't go crazy enough to see what they tell you to see.)

The whole point of torture is to change your mind--to reset your priorities. If they do something bad enough to you, then "maintaining your integrity" is suddenly not your most urgent goal. I don't blame anyone for anything they do or say under torture.

The best you can aspire to, although even this is likely problematic, is not to betray Julia.

LarryHart said...

I said:

Or in the words of Shakespeare's "As You Like It", lying before God amounts to a perverse show of "courage" :

But manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into compliment,
And men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too ;
He is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie and swears it.

I don't know why I keep typing "As You Like It" when I know that that bit is from "Much Ado About Nothing". Let the point stand, though. It's perverse to consider "daring to lie to God" as some sort of virtue.

Anonymous said...

A march! Now that's a great excuse to burn more Carbon if meaningless (besides some aerobic exercise as offset by exposure to car-cinogens) without political organization, appeals to the worker caste (especially those who stayed home for H.), possibly some means to break the uncontested state of most elections. If not, those four years marching (in protest) through the wilderness could be good practice for the remaining 36.

An isolated group of rich folks within a sovereign nation? I know! What rhymes with ghetto? Course, that's not a new idea.

And yet more simplistic binaries: either you're sapient or a science hater. Yeah. Uh-huh. Maybe try take off your blinkers and try to imagine a third state, or even why folks might not care a whit about the big Carbon burn, given more urgent concerns (e.g. tentament housing burning down in Oakland).

Speaking of not thinking, you keep using that word, cult, but yet again provide zero evidence for any cult-like activity. What rational basis do you have for repeating that word? How do you think the folks you wave the cult flag at are going to vote?

Berial said...

The Anonymouse guy at 11:18 is getting better. I only had to read two sentences before I knew who it was and that I could stop reading. That's getting REALLY efficient!

LarryHart said...

Anonymous once again invokes the double standard that we mustn't hurt their fragile feelings because that's no way to get their votes, but insulting us is a sound strategy.


LarryHart said...


Yeah, he's learning not to put "stroads" or "car-sitter" right up front.

Paul451 said...

Re: IQ levels.

I am aware of the Flynn Effect. However I think it has more to do with improved nutrition and reduced disease loading than rural vs urban. Same reason we all got taller. Also, AIUI, in developed countries, the effect has actually plateaued in the last couple of decades, precisely when lead was being phased out of fuel (and everything else).

The removal of lead probably should have correlated with things like sharp surge in IQ or other testing scores. That's what puzzles me. It's the best fit for the reduction in crime rates, but how can crime be its only effect?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Paul451

That is a very interesting comment about lead - it does appear to correlate very well to "violent crime" - not crime in general

The IQ reduction with lead is an observed effect - but I think it is quite a small one at the levels that we are talking about

The problem may be about resisting "urges" rather than about intelligence

donzelion said...

LarryHart: (Interjecting on your exchange with Berial)

"[Trumpists] don't so much forget what they've been told before as that they accept whatever they are being told right now, even the things that contradict the other things."

I'd go one step further: they BELIEVE they are skeptical of everyone, that they are resistant to fraud, that they reject lies everywhere. But since they reject everyone offering facts unless they confirm preexisting biases, they HEAR assertions and emotionally embrace them even if logically they have no connection. Orwell missed that, in his 1940s psychology: the way to stay in the 'hear and now' and resist facts is through romanticized nostalgia and chemical reinforcement (Huxley was much closer to where we are now.)

Less: 'We've always been at war with Eurasia/Eastasia' (enforced on penalty of torture for anyone who disbelieves or says otherwise)

More: 'our soldiers are awesome! Just look how John Rambo kicked Nazi ass!' (enforced on penalty of isolation/disassociation from anyone who fails to agree). Once the proper emotional state is induced, chemistry makes a population susceptible to the next claim, "If those Eurasians threaten us again, we'll send the Clint Eastwood Terminator after them!" (or more recently, 'We'll get those Iraqis for bombing NY!")

Trumpists/Republican minds are set up to resist facts - from anywhere (including their own authority figures). They're far more easily manipulated on an emotional level.

Paul451 said...

Re: Jumper not wanting to be "the boy who cried wolf"...

The mainstream media seem to be getting bored with the reality-denial of Trump's talking heads. It's not that the mainstream media is "fighting back", or anything so grand, it just seems to me that they've stopped caring if they offend the Trump's spokesweasels any more. Not anger, just eye-roll, yeah-whatever, move-on.

It's not a big thing, but it seems like a definite shift in tone. The townsfolk have stopped listening when the boy cries wolf.

Combined with the White House leaks, suggesting that there's a growing frustration with Trump within the White House itself, within a week of taking office, suggests that you do live in interesting times.

(In spite or perhaps because of being a fat guy, I have to admit I was amused by the supposed belief by Trump's staff that moving a senior staffer to another floor was a sign of demotion because "Trump is too lazy to climb stairs.")

David Brin said...

Anon is so... sad and pathetic. Seriously, are you even remotely aware that YOU are the one declaring that everything is zero-sum? Your (yes) cult has not just dismissed and warred upon almost every member of every knowledge profession.

Climate denialism is not about disagreement over whether human activity is heating the planet. That is blatantly true. It is about power and your cult's utter refusal to let POLICY be influenced by the advice of people who actually know stuff. You have not just ignored the advice of experts, but banished it. The GOP fanatics who zeroed out the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in 1995, are now targeting the OSTP and the White House Science Adviser office, demanding that they only deliver poliically acceptable advice.

Read about Lamar Smith. This is the man the GOP has made head of the Science Committee of the United States House of Representatives.

Notice how you, anon, no longer even try to defend the "there's no warming" line. Or even the "it's not serious line." In frenzied moving of goalposts, now you scream "There are tenements burning!" Zero sum, we cannot pay attention to two problems at once.

You are the slave of cynical lords who do not care about climate change. Sure, denialism cults helped them sell more coal and thwarted the inevitable rise of sustainables for a criminal decade. But that was not the point.

The point was to demolish all elites other than oligarchy. The systematic plan is to leave only billionaire lords standing. Scientists and all the knowledge professions were the worst threat to this putsch. And hence the war is against them all. Every single one. (Name an exception, dope.)

You are a marching moron in a cult. You confeds aim to restore feudalism for your plantation lords. Yes, Mass.

But we will stop you, yet again. And save our revolution.

LarryHart said...

or to put that another way, as Hamilton does in "Hamilton"

Corruption’s such an old song that we can sing along in harmony,
And nowhere is it stronger than in Albany.
This colony’s economy’s increasingly stalling and
Honestly, that’s why public service
Seems to be calling me.

I practiced the law; I practically perfected it.
I’ve seen injustice in the world and I’ve corrected it.
Now for a strong central democracy!
If not, then I’ll be Socrates
Throwing verbal rocks at these mediocrities.

Alfred Differ said...

The argument for lead being a cause and not just a correlation rests upon evidence showing synchronized correlation as lead was removed. Not all jurisdictions removed it at the same time. With some starting early and some starting late, one might expect to see crime rates begin to drop sooner or later across the map IF the original lead causation hypothesis is true. That is indeed what is seen in the data.

The question Paul451 asked about other correlations is still open, but I suspect there are some and we haven’t thought to connect the dots yet. It is a lot of data to process, so someone has to be imaginative and think of the need to do it before these results will be found. Accidents are rare by definition. 8)

anon said...

Dave you don't know what you are talking about.
I have been working my entire adult life trying to avoid climate change, I have taken many steps to personally reduce my carbon footprint.
I have always voted for candidates that said they would take action to avoid climate change or against politicians that don't want to take action. I have volunteered for good candidates.
At work I have been moderately successful at reducing our carbon footprint.

But none of that has made any difference and last year we crossed the tipping point in the arctic. Arctic amplification is real, it is happening now and I don't think that there is anything we can do to stop it now.

But if it makes you feel better to beat your imaginary straw man than to actually look at what is happening in the arctic, go for it dude.

(do you really think that everyone who disagrees with you is some kind of crazed monster? if so maybe you should take a break from the internet and go deal with people in real life.)

Alfred Differ said...

Locumranch in the previous thread demonstrated his inclination to Project when he argued his team is the one wearing the blue kepis. Ha! Come on over. We’ll disarm you and get you some medical help. 8)

I doubt his issue involves lead, though. Maybe a strong woman crushed his ego recently. It happens to a lot of us and the whole world seems to be dark for a while. I’ve seen it often enough to learn to offer sympathy, but not much more than that. Choose better next time, but look in the mirror to understand why first.

Alfred Differ said...

I think I’d prefer we exfoliate Sol than move Terra/Luna. Give Venus some shielding too.

Closer to home, though, there is a picture on APOD right now showing Venus imaged by many little water droplets on a pane of glass. The images are crude due to the shape of the droplets, , but trees are discernible. I’m imagining now many tiny cameras with no lenses simply waiting for the dawn to provide dew drops to start their little programs that manage the drop shape and then take pictures. That might help the cameras hide even from the algorithms that detect reflected light off convex surfaces. A field of a bazillion dew droplets would act as camouflage. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: They're looking for someone with very specific keywords on their resume.

Not where I work… partially. We currently need people with certain qualifications, but we’ll teach the rest. One of my peers is on record saying he can train anyone to do the work if we can get them in the door. I suspect he would rather train them too.

Of course, the bare minimum is the ability to hold a certain security clearance. Having one is much better. Uncle Sam prefers we not hire certain people. 8)

LarryHart said...


I think Dr Brin was addressing "Anonymous", not you. Which I admit is a bit confusing.

Jumper said...

anon, we are regularly accosted by anonymous posters shouting word salad, which someone anonymous did a while ago. We urge people to sign their anonymous posts with some identifier. And watch out for word salad.

It's very wrong, to adopt an either/or attitude to greenhouse damage. Twice as bad will be twice as bad. If we stopped tomorrow, it's still bad. If we get a strong effort going to build the solar and wind systems soonest, that will be less bad.

I think that about overpopulation, too.

LarryHart said...


Dr Brin's remark about "burning tenements" makes that definitive. That was in response to "Anonymous", not to you.

Twominds said...

@LarryHart and Jumper

Thanks for your comments on Dr.Brins rather fierce answer to Anon. I wanted to react but reading the thread down I saw that you were there before me.

On the other hand, Anonymous is clearly ´carsitter´ and we and Dr.Brin are used to him/her and ignore its comments. So, if Dr.Brin did flip his shit to Anon, not to Anonymous, he was too hasty and harsh. In Anon´s first comment, there´s no political affliliation visible, just an opinion on a factual situation.

Even Dr.Brin sometimes shows hasty tendencies, in contradiction to his normally projected persona. I find it disconcerting sometimes, but it shows he´s human too.

Antonym said...

What future technologies could we use to alter the orbit of Mercury to bring it close enough to be captured as a moon for Venus? Such a maneuver could give Venus a more reasonable spin, maybe even push Venus's orbit out a bit. Then throw up a partially reflecting nano-shroud and we could cool down Venus to a nice Mediterranean level in a few short millennia.


Jumper said...

One blog operator banishes posts by wack jobs, but moves them to another page: a blog jail of sorts. And always provides a link to blog jail, so he can't be accused of too much intellectual fascism.

donzelion said...

Anon: "I have been working my entire adult life trying to avoid climate change, I have taken many steps to personally reduce my carbon footprint...But none of that has made any difference..."

When you make a difference, you may not be able to measure the impact or the results, but it is still a difference.

But the 'imaginary straw man' our host is most concerned (obsessed?) with is feudalism, the most persistent state of governance for humanity for the vast majority of our recorded history - and a structure with a ridiculous propensity to gouge the easy fruit of the earth while making others (the serfs) pay the price.

I am frequently a critic here, even of people I vehemently agree with on most things. BUT if you're the same 'anon' as the '11:18 anon' (what rhymes with ghetto? stiletto, amaretto, libretto, forget-o...'what the heck-o?') - the "confederate cult" our host likes to refer to is his personal, literary coinage (um, he is a fairly respected author btw, so one should expect that). It's also a fairly apt testament to the environmental degradation typical of Southern aristocrats (King Cotton raped and wrecked the land as well as the people - and the primary solution of those engaged in the rape and pillage was to find more land in which to pursue the same agenda - then, as now).

You cannot argue for responsible policies, in the workplace or elsewhere, with people who are convinced that they must strip as much as they can, as fast as they can, let the rest be damned. There are many such people; if you are not in that group, then good. But the 'straw man' most frequently being beaten on here, from what I've seen, has been the folks who will never acknowledge a label of 'feudalists' - but who in their daily lives, take steps to shape a world to maintain their extravagant indolence.

LarryHart said...


BUT if you're the same 'anon' as the '11:18 anon' (what rhymes with ghetto?

See, that's how this discussion is spinning out of control.

Every specific that Dr Brin responded to was from a post by "Anonymous". But he used the diminutive "anon" to address that guy, whereas "anon" was the actual name of a different poster, who then took offense because he thought Dr Brin was addressing him.

Read the posts. It's all pretty obvious what happened.

anon said...


I know what you are saying is the conventional wisdom and i used to agree with it but I am not so sure anymore.

From my point of view, the number one goal when we still could avoid dangerous climate change was to rapidly reduce our carbon emissions. (we collectively failed to even seriously try this option)

But once we passed the tipping point, and the natural feedback processes kick in and become self sustaining, the first priority becomes adapting the new climate. Reducing carbon emissions should still be a goal (coal is still really bad, we are well past the peak of easily extracted/cheep oil).

I know that it is not yet the consensus of the scientific community that studies the arctic, that we have indeed crossed that tipping point. They probably need a couple more freezing seasons like last year and this year. (there have been days this freezing season in which the arctic lost more than a 100,000 square kilometers of ice, something that typically only happens at the height of summer. 10 meter ocean waves have been breaking up the ice cap. The arctic winter is no longer very cold and dry, it is now cold, wet and stormy. Water in the air is a powerful greenhouse gas, trapping in the heat. And the storms are smashing the ice and stirring the arctic seas, bringing additional heat from ocean depths.)

Jumper said...

There is no "the" tipping point. There are a whole bag full of tipping points. That was my point. Disaster relief is going to cost more than carbon-free power.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: First, I love the notion of our naming 'Carsitter Anonymous.' He'll never even know we are referring to him as such, what with his nonresponsive jeremiad assault.

The writing style of the person styling him/herself as Anon is not like that of the 11:18 Anonymous - but Anon did raise his view that our host is attacking straw men, and Anon responded to that mistaken identity by asserting Anon's laudable efforts to be conscientious.

But is our host really attacking a straw man, as even our more cogent 'Arctic Anon' claimed? Brin's statement that neo-feudal masters are at work and 'at war' with knowledge professionals has quite a bit of support. I certainly know of few others (outside the socialists, whom I typically find tiresome) who so persistently pillory the would-be looters, and all their various types of agents.

donzelion said...

Jumper: "Disaster relief is going to cost more than carbon-free power."

It will cost SOMEBODY more than carbon-free power. Alas, the folks who benefit from carbon-power are also likely to be the folks who will not pay the costs. The only way to protect against the machinations of that group of folks will be for those of us trying to be responsible to unite.

(Anon, you might help us unite with you by adopting a clearer handle so that you don't get mixed up with Carsitter... ;-)

LarryHart said...


I was just wasting some time waiting for my daughter to clean up as part of the tech crew after the high school talent show, and I was thinking...well, we've survived one week of Cheetolini which means there are only...207 left to go (plus 5 days, so I guess that's almost 208).

No sooner to I get home and listen to the last hour of Norman Goldman's radio show, but he says the exact same thing (without mentioning the 5 extra days).

I know that's no big deal, but the timing was just one of those things that makes one believe there's someone writing this stuff.

Winter7 said...

It is a good idea to have bee hives.
In Mexico, bee honey is falsified up to 90% using glucose (I think) and artificial flavoring.
If you manage to have many hives, that could be good business.
I suggest you throw flower seeds of harmless plants into abandoned fields near hives. That way, your bees will have lots of honey.
A relative who had a varicose ulcer in his leg managed to close the ulcer by pouring honey into the wound. Long ago, I heard that honey can stop infections in wounds.
Dr. Barbara Shipman has been in contact with the bees ever since she was a child. She has the theory that bees can perceive quarks in some way. She believes that the dance of the bees could be inspired by the spectral magnetic structures; Created by the palpitating quarks that disappear and reappear, forming pulsating magnetic fields that bees use as a "template" to create their dance. (Perhaps those fields of force are the template used by bees to construct the hexagons of hives.) Perhaps bees could become living sensors in particle physics research.
How would you react to different types of energy fields? How would bees react to being on a sheet of paper in which a telescope reflects a dim image of the sun? Would they be attracted by sunspots or the images of solar flares?
Around the world the hives are disappearing, because of humans. Certainly, the activities of the chemical industry is a danger to bees.

Sincerely: Luis Ortiz Flores

The same text in Spanish:
Es buena idea tener colmenas de abejas.
En México, la miel de abeja es falsificada hasta en un 90% utilizando glucosa (creo) y saborizante artificial.
Si logras tener muchas colmenas, eso podría ser un buen negocio.
Sugiero que arrojes semillas de flores de plantas inofensivas en campos abandonados cercanos a las colmenas. De ese modo, tus abejas tendrán mucha miel.
Un pariente que tenía una úlcera varicosa en la pierna, logró hacer cerrar la úlcera untando miel en la herida. Ya hace tiempo, yo escuché que la miel puede detener infecciones en heridas.
La Doctora Bárbara Shipman, ha estado en contacto con las abejas desde que ella era niña. Ella tiene la teoría de que las abejas pueden percibir de alguna manera los quarks. Ella cree que la danza de las abejas podría estar inspirada en las estructuras magnéticas espectrales; creadas por los palpitantes quarks, que desaparecen y reaparecen, formando palpitantes campos magnéticos que las abejas usan como “plantilla” para crear su danza. (Quizás esos campos de fuerza, son la plantilla que usan las abejas para construir los hexágonos de las colmenas) Quizás las abejas pudiesen convertirse en sensores vivos, en las investigaciones en física de partículas.
¿Cómo reaccionarían ante distintos tipos de campos de energía? ¿Cómo reaccionarían las abejas al estar sobre una hoja de papel en la que un telescopio refleja una imagen atenuada del sol? ¿Serían atraídas por las manchas solares o por las imágenes de las llamaradas solares?
En todo el mundo las colmenas están desapareciendo, por culpa de los humanos. Ciertamente, las actividades de la industria química es un peligro para las abejas.

Sincerely: Luis Ortiz Flores

Robert said...

I am even more sure now that Trump will be evicted - er, I mean removed from office. They might not even need to do an impeachment as various protests and such are slowly pushing him toward a tipping point. All they need is to declare him mentally unfit and remove him, lock him away somewhere for his safety, and show his ravings from time to time to "convince" voters that they did a good thing.

Before they push Trump out of office they will pass things like their tax breaks and dismantling of Obamacare and the like. Because they know that the shit will hit the fan as a result. The economy is going to go south. The Stock Market is in a bubble at the moment and we'll very likely see things turn south within a year. Heck, we've already gotten warning signs like less-than-stellar-sales during Christmas this year.

Republicans no doubt will hope that by eliminating Trump, Pence will seem a nice palatable replacement. And in three years he'll be reelected because he's the sitting President who did his best to fix the country after that horrible mess that Trump caused.

I'm hoping that women don't let up just because Mr. Crotch Grabber gets tossed out.

So... within the first 100 days. And if we keep doing marches and the like, that will do the Republican Party's dirty work. But... the alternative is far far worse.

Rob H.

Slim Moldie said...

Robert, I hope you're right.

LarryHeart I’ve been thinking about the same thing as the 1st week wound down. And then tonight my brain exploded when I realized that Simon & Schuster is still publishing those Childhood of Famous American books.

Luis, thanks for sharing about the bees. I have this haunting image of a beautiful summer day and my young children coming to show me the dying bumble bees flopping drunkenly through the grass. I get angry every summer smelling the Roundup along the bike trails when I commute. Weeding is good exercise and would give jobs to some of those hard-working rust belt factory workers who were replaced by robots. I try to stay positive but sometimes it feels like we’re entering J.G. Ballard’s “Deep End.”

Today when I was picking by son up from his elementary school a group of boys were tossing a football onto the roof of one of the buildings. One of the boys shouted, “you better not get it stuck up there or you’re The Trump!”

So “Tag. You’re Trump” is a thing. Meanwhile I will be the first person on the face of this earth to parse together these four words. “Tag, you’re the Obama.” I even Googled it to check. “No results found for "tag you're the Obama." Cool is the rule, but sometimes, bad is bad, right?

I was reading the autobus traffic jam up stream and I have to confess as someone who likes to toss some rancid salad from time to time (like tonight) that for a fleeting moment the though stunk me that I’d stumbled into one of my online drunken journals. But alas I would have gone with car-sin-again when handing out my pun-ishments :)

David Brin said...

What, I am supposed to carefully track the difference among "anon" and anonymous" posters? Hey Anon! If the shoe doesn't remotely fit you, then how about running through hypotheses in your head. Like "Maybe he's talking to someone else?.

I am in fact, one of the most liberal popular bloggers online, allowing anonymous open posting and almost never banishing. Why? Well, philosophy plays a role. But mostly, when trolls come here, they find none of the usual payoffs. Just a lot of smart folks who shrug off most troll incitements.

Or.. mabe I over-rate how "popular" this blog is! ;-)

LarryHart said...


Republicans no doubt will hope that by eliminating Trump, Pence will seem a nice palatable replacement.

My latest hopelessly-implausible theory has been that we're being set up to despair under Beast Rabban so that we'll welcome Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen as a savior.

That's kinda what you're saying as well.

And in three years he'll be reelected because he's the sitting President who did his best to fix the country after that horrible mess that Trump caused.

Well, if it's any comfort, that didn't work out for President Ford.

LarryHart said...

Slim Moldie:

But alas I would have gone with car-sin-again when handing out my pun-ishments :)

Heh. You're giving Lin-Manuel Miranda a run for his money.

Jumper said...

Musing on upgrading the grid. How to protect against solar magnetic catastrophes? All I can come up with is periodic breaks in the grid, with flywheels and regenerators, to break up electrical continuity.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Apropos of nothing in particular, I wanted to toss this link in to some artwork of the universe:

It's from the late 19th century, and some of the images make for some pretty good guesses.
But, as Clarke said, it's "stranger than we CAN imagine."

matthew said...

Opinion piece at Fox today shows why the Trump presidency will end in violence.

"Five essential lessons for Republicans:
1. Don't help the Democrats"

The Murdoch empire doesn't seem to be backing off the culture wars any. As always, placing loyalty to party above nation.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I especially liked this piece of wisdom: "The Democrats are busily marginalizing themselves by being shrill, caustic, and vulgar. Give them room to do this."

Because, you know, Republicans are never shrill, caustic and vulgar.

You gotta love how, out of pure concern for our well being, they advise us to avoid the tactics that worked for them.

LarryHart said...

@matthew and @Zepp,

Yes, just like the admonitions from the right about how "You can't insult your way to the White House."

What they don't tell mention is the emphasis that matters. "You [Democrats] can't insult your way to the White House. [However, we can and did.]"

What they are unintentionally saying is not "That tactic doesn't work," but "Democrats don't know how to use it correctly, whereas Republicans are masters."

Robert said...

After someone posted the 25th Amendment to the Constitution I have seen another path Republicans might take.

They aren't going to remove Trump from office through impeachment. They are going to declare him incompetent with a majority of the House and Senate agreeing with this, institutionalize Trump, and declare Pence the Acting-President.

Thus they get 3.5 years of Acting-President Pence and then in their minds eight more years of President Pence.

Rob H.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Robert: "institutionalize Trump, and declare Pence the Acting-President."

And may Trump be blessed with the presence of Big Nurse.

As for Pence, everyone can start mailing him their personal emissions.

David Brin said...



Creigh Gordon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Creigh Gordon said...

From time to time I think about establishing my own religion, known as "Lifeology." The first principle of Lifeology is that the purpose of life is to create more life. Also, the definition of life is "that which creates itself."

Creigh Gordon said...

One of the prophets of Lifeology will be Khalil Gibran, who said "Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself."

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