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21st Century: a complaint

I want to complain to the studio execs who commissioned the current season of "21st century"; your show is broken.

I say this as a viewer coming in with low expectations. Its predecessor "20th century" plumbed the depths of inconsistency with the frankly silly story arc for world war II. It compounded it by leaving tons of loose plot threads dangling until the very last minute, then tidied them all up in a blinding hurry in that bizarre 1989-92 episode just in time for the big Y2K denouement (which then fizzled). But the new series reboot is simply ridiculous! It takes internal inconsistency to a new low, never before seen in the business: the "21st century" show is just plain implausible.

The series got off to a flying start with the epic wide-screen disaster story "9/11", guest-scripted by Tom Clancy, in which a steely-eyed two-fisted Republican president is confronted by a crisis; but to have him respond by reading a talking goats story book to pre-teens and then invading the wrong country is just a little bit bathetic, don't you think? The lead scriptwriter was either taking the piss or he just didn't care. And then the story line drove into a ditch. First we're fighting a shadowy James Bond terror organization called Al Qaida, the next minute we're propping them up while yelling at the Russians for bombing them! That's the Russians who were supposed to have suddenly become our best buddies in 1992 and joined the good guys team, at the end of the last season. But look, that whole BFFs twist has been retconned out of the show and they brought in a new Bond villain—a former KGB agent turned president of Russia, how cheesy is that?—who rides bare-backed across rivers while dropping oligarchs in piranha tanks and threatening to de-fund the international space station in order to burnish his villain credentials. Meanwhile there's another villain on screen, a South African dude who's trying to colonize Mars, while building electric cars. Why hasn't 007 assassinated him yet?

Oh, and speaking of villains: there's this American guy, he defects to Russia (despite the role reversal) and blows the gaff on a gigantic international conspiracy called the Five Eyes who are spying on literally everyone—including you, personally, yes, they're tapping everyone's phones and reading all the email and browser histories in the world, and their boss sends invisible flying killer robots after people his targeting committee disapproves of—their logo is even a giant globe-hugging evil octopus—only it turns out nobody gives a shit. Talk about dropping the ball!

There were a couple of good disaster movies buried in the mess as sub-plots. The Boxing Day Tsunami in the Indian Ocean was an excellent tear-jerker. And the Great Tohoku Earthquake started promisingly—but wasn't it a bit excessive to throw in three nuclear melt-downs? Why not stick to two and throw in a Kaijū, just for variety? (Also, the bit where the reactor buildings exploded wasn't a patch on 1988's "Chernobyl" episode.)

More consistency and continuity flaws: apparently China is now hyper-Capitalist, only nobody noticed the change and they're still called Communists. There were revolutions against tyrants all over the Middle East in the first decade, the whole "Arab Spring" sequence, but no, that's been airbrushed out and they're all dictatorships again except for Syria, which is this story arc's Bad Place where horrible things happen. (Although they've still got a dictator because plot, I guess.)The global economy crashes a couple of times and goes into a period of hyperinflation as all the central banks run the printing presses until they smoke, but the money ends up in bank vaults and nobody's too worried. Oh, and the whole "running out of oil" thing? You forgot to deal with that, too.

Even the technology background makes no sense. Apple, ferchrissakes, have toppled Microsoft and IBM and dominate the computer business! Volkswagen are apparently building self-propelled gas chambers, and airliners are getting slower! What the hell is going on? And whose idea was it to hire the ghosts of Philip K. Dick and George Orwell as showrunners anyway? Frankly, even Doctor Who makes more sense at a story level than this so-called future we're expected to believe in.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that this viewer, for one, is deeply disappointed with "21st century" so far. And I'm betting I'm not the only one. I'm sure my readers can spot lots of other continuity flaws, or come up with better ideas for how this century should have proceeded!



Charlie, you've made this mistake before. Real Life isn't a movie, it's role playing game.


@demarquis. If I ran a RPG with the plots and sensibility of 21st century history, my players would lose their sense of disbelief rather quickly.

"Paul's being lazy again. Russia's the bad guy again? Can't we have some variety?"


How can they spend all of 1993 to 2001 foreshadowing the first female president and then when they pick up the thread in 2008, ditch her practically offscreen for some handsome black dude? And we know that "black president" = "extinction-threatening natural disaster" so where is our asteroid/alien invasion/richter 11 earthquake?


My first thought would be "who had the bright idea of playing old Palladium games again?"


I think C21 has no subtlety. Republicans are crazy - OK we got that message in 04, 08 and 12. No need for trump, carson and Carly to go batshit in 16. Also, too many guns in US. Noted. No need for a school shooting every day for a year. Come on writers, believe in the intelligence of your viewers!


The Pope resigns and is replaced by a Latin American? Clearly the whoever wrote that episode wasn't familiar with the bible.


As likely as a Polish pope. They are just recycling old ideas. At least the last plot line had a tie in to the Cold War. Latin America has not been The Bad Place since the 1980s.


You missed out on that cringe-worthy Climate Change subplot. What were they thinking!?! Don't they realize it's going to affect all the other storylines?


To complexify the human relations story angle, they're writing more characters with different sexual orientations. Who knew there's more than one. Weird sh*t, man! It's like that ancient Greek mythology stuff or something the Classics profs made us read is for real?!

Then they tried adding some more sci-fi-ish stuff like telling us that the Higgs field exists and that a consortium of several thousand egg-heads can work productively together on a multi-year project that comes in on budget. And when they decide to give this machine even more power, they put a woman in charge! Yeah ... like you eevel EU science-nerds will ever take the righteous lead from the ole US of A! Oh yeah, and there's this spacey map thing (WMAP) that shows the universe as flat and even as a pancake in every direction, and that there's this mystery dark stuff that's stretching it everywhere all at the same time.


Let's all please remember that Syria is only The Bad Place on the free-to-air networks. Delve down into the -ahem- "urban" cable channels and you'll find Black Sex & The City and Black Strictly Come Dancing (or Dancing With The Stars). The parallel season of "Black 21st Century" actually has a The Bad Place all of its own.


Okay, I don't like fantasy much, but I do like SF. The problem comes when lazy writers, like these 21c morons, refuse to keep internal consistency. I liked the Mars Rover season, but they told us right from the start that it was a one season thing. Those little RC car looking things were supposed to last 90 sols. I could have dealt with it if they'd squeezed a couple more weeks out of them, but ten, twelve years?

Disbelief unsuspended.


Or maybe the Climate thing is such a big story arc that it isn't noticed by most of the characters until it bites hard. Don't know if I'll want to be watching by then.

And there's the small scale stories; like the one about my Kurdish sister-in-law's brother, a respected pediatric surgeon in London (iirc), decided to move his family back to Kurdistan because it's supposedly safe now. Karazy!


So I don't know about many other fans, but I thought the Kim Jong-Il arc was really well handled. Sure, the main character was a played too much for laughs sometimes, but overall that storyline conjured up a realistic sense of a growing ideological menace, sometimes overblown (the brilliant "photoshopped missiles" episode) and sometimes realistic (the scary "seismographic response from nuclear testing" episode). Then the lingering suspense over whether Kim's health was failing and whether he was alive or dead. Could have had a more satisfying denouement, but on the whole I thought that was a great example of the writers playing the long game.

And then due to a minor casting snafu, the story gets continued not by the character we'd all expected to pick up the plot line, but by some uncharismatic Johnny-Come-Lately who's about as scary as Homer Simpson. And now they're having to throw in all sorts of tantrums and executions and border escalations to try and make Jong-Un scary, and it just can't be done. The only way to redeem this is if it turns out to be the lead up to some climactic coup plot, but they'd better hurry before they lose all credibility.


Although I must say that the best thing about 21st Century is how much more accurate the viewing figures are these days. Thanks NSA!


Makes sense. Life is an RPG where the designers assumed all PCs would be straight, white, rich cismen. It's called Kyriarchy. The rest of us are just NPCs. We're there to provide antagonists for the PCs, to make their lives more difficult.

Let's get to it, then!


I liked the way they handled the economic meltdown subplot. Especially when they handed over all of that newly printed cash to the spiffy-dressed bankers. Then even after we learned that these financial sociopaths caused the meltdown, the talking gov heads still said this plan would make the plain folks better off and then all that money disappeared. Retro slapstick ... ROFL

Nitpick ... anyone else notice that the accent's all wrong for that new Bank of England Gov? Okay, at least he's more understandable than the preev. 'Tho how will anyone be able to follow the shouting match when he has to square off with the Scots 'give-me-freedom' gang. Spoiler alert: there's a snippet showing Cold Kilt finally cutting the tie (noose?) with his old Lady (Britannia).


The reboot of that early-1980s spin-off about the British Labour party is stylishly done but I'm not sure it really adds anything to the original, and the casting of the villains is weak. (Margaret Thatcher might have been implausible as a character but you couldn't fault the actress's delivery; Cameron, on the other hand, is very inconsistently portrayed.)


The global economy crashes a couple of times and goes into a period of hyperinflation as all the central banks run the printing presses until they smoke

What hyperinflation? Inflation is +/- 0%, despite all the money printing. Maybe because they call it "quantitative easing" nowadays?


What hyperinflation? Inflation is +/- 0%, despite all the money printing. Maybe because they call it "quantitative easing" nowadays?

Yes, exactly! They broke their own rules! If you print lots of money, you get hyperinflation -- Germany, 1920s. If you print lots of money, you get bupkis but fat bankers -- Germany, 2010s.

Is it too much to ask for some internal consistency here?


The Pope resigns and is replaced by a Latin American? Clearly the whoever wrote that episode wasn't familiar with the bible.


Hmm. My comment vanished.

If you read the Bible closely you'll note find any reference to the Pope or RCC except a few oblique sentences about Peter and the catholic (small c) church.


Oh what about the US becoming the world's top oil producer due to oil wells in places like Montana. Seriously?


Really confused by what's happened with the humans in space arc. There were those classic episodes from 1961-69 (how no one on set noticed that fluffed line at the climax will always baffle me...) and then just about nothing for the next fifty years. Sure, there's the whole space station thing, but that's not had a decent story arc the whole time it's been there, and the producers keep hinting about a Mars arc in the coming episodes, but it never shows up.


But it's still early in the century. I'm looking forward to J. Corbin taking over the UK and forming an Anglo-Greek axis against the capitalist German-French entente.


Yeah - just like showing the Saudis installing solar panels. What were they thinking?! As if ... 'solar power in Saudi Arabia has achieved grid parity and can produce electricity at costs comparable to conventional sources'.


I wonder how they are going to resolve the IS plot. I just hope they don't go for a remake of the Siege of Vienna story. And the Israel-Palestine subplot gets more than boring. Has anyone kept track of the number of Intifadas we've had now?


Oh God, that whole Israel subplot is the equivalent of those episodes of Doctor Who where they just ran around in the woods for 3/4 of the running time.


Maybe they're waiting for their jet packs? Face it, the sci/fi-ish market's just about had it... no one's interested in that science junk anymore. Pure-white, old-time religion's where it's at ... didja see the GOP hopefuls cast?


Friend says he saw the casting video for the GOP hopefuls ... when they had them read the script they told them to remember that 'elocution' rhymes with 'electrocution'. Good to remember that!


Theresa May is clearly just the producers bringing back a villain in the Margaret Thatcher role but making her even more over-the-top evil. As if real voters would elect her!

And what about Trump? As if anyone that cartoon-like would be able to stand in front of an audience without getting laughed off stage.


Charlie Stross quoting Alexander Scott? I think I just had a nerdgasm.

Volkswagen are apparently building self-propelled gas chambers

That would not be the first time Germans are building self-propelled gas chambers. Old habits die hard, I guess.


And the Israel-Palestine subplot gets more than boring. Has anyone kept track of the number of Intifadas we've had now?

I lost count at 417. And I'm in Israel.


Not knowingly quoting anybody -- what are you referring to?


I just wish the reboot producers weren't so keen on burning all the bridges to the past by continually retconning the histories of the more beloved stars of 20th Century. I mean sure, there's big shock value when you do it to Jimmy Savile, but it's pretty lazy to do the same thing with every politician or entertainer between Churchill and Noel Edmonds.

(Too much?)


squid314 is Alexander Scott, writer of the excellent Slate Star Codex blog. Also one of the most famous LessWrongers who are NOT currently engaged in trying to build Skynet.


Oh Cthulhu strike me down, do I SUCK AT HTML.


Oh, right. I hadn't put his two online identities together.


Cancel those shows, 2015 seasons of this, 1436 seasons of that not to mention 5776 of the longest running show. And they're all worse than MTV. The misery of it all!

Start a new show! Will the start be Saint Elon setting foot on Mars or the reverend Bezos opening a bookstore on the Moon?


My thinking on posting links here is to just post naked links such as

rather than hiding them

< A HREF=""> this way


"If you want to post a link, I want to be able to read the full domain name and path before I click on it" --Charles Stross

And because I would have to look it up and I'm lazy.


I think the inflation thing is actually black comedy. The real satirical point is that "inflation" doesn't include changes in the price of energy or food. So "he price of food has gone up x%, electric power y%, and gasoline z% over the past 10 months—thank God we don't have inflation!" That's almost good enough to be Russian political humor.


The 20th century script did that already, though. Not just with two "world wars," either. The charismatic American president of Irish ancestry who ran on a platform of economic revitalization, tax cuts, American guardianship of world freedom through military intervention in small countries, and heroic ventures into space—first we had the Kennedy version and then the Reagan version, which never achieved the same glamour but remains a sentimental favorite that even the 21st century show keeps looking back to.


The thing is, dystopia is the new cyberpunk. And actually cyberpunk was dystopia as well, just nobody seemed to notice. So don't blame the 21st-century execs -- they're actually more hip with the in genres than you are!

The other thing people seem to have failed to notice is that not only are we already post-singularity, we are already post-apocalyptic. It already happened folks. This is what it looks like beyond the curtain. Fun times ahead!


That meaning of the word certainly wasn't clear (at least to me) in relation to the papal reference.

Oh well.


The 80's? No, that's wasn't a reboot of the sixties, the only reboot was of Battlestar America....

And what about the plot twist of the US not being able to put people in orbit, and having to go to the Soviet Union, um, sorry, the Russians to put people up? I mean, that's just not believable, the GOP would hang people from lampposts for even considering allowing that.... Oh, right, they're the ones who did it.

But I knew this was a loser, in the spring of 2003, when 40 years later, we were standing in the streets trying to stop a war half-way around the world.

Then the kids who think that a new visiphone is a Technological Big Deal....

And if this were the real 21st Century, I'd be able to buy my ticket on PanAm to the Wheel....

mark "this is *not* the Real 21st Century, I want the Real one back *now*, thankyouveddymuch"

Anyone here tried to watch the US TV series "Heros" or Heros Reborn".

Sounds like they share a common way of putting together a scrip. Get 40 people in a room to toss out various interesting ideas about almost any topic. Then write them into a script without even trying to have any coherence. Just a very thin tread of commonality.


They've been promising to finally make the "flying car" episode for way too long now, but keep getting distracted and rewriting the war-and-terrorism plots instead.


Yes. Check it out. They demonstrate the correct way to do subtitles.


There is, of course, a very simple explanation for the whole mess: back around the turn of the millennium, someone slotted the wrong disc into the drive. What we are currently living through is the blooper reel.


Frankly I'd rather live in this roleplaying game than some. Who remembers Twilight: 2000? Shudder.


The funny thing is, we and the media keep focusing on the negative stories and predicting the end of the world every weekend, but the life of an average person just keeps getting better and better.

We are still living in an utopia.


There was talk of a new show called 'Singularity: Uplift Yourself'. But when the producers plotted out the shots/script, they realized they had no sassy dialogue, no emotional ups&downs, no sizzling sex or impossible high speed car chases, or power plays. Just not enough buzz, man ... And the CGI upfront costs were way over-budget!


I have to say that the background science in "21st century" bothers me. I mean, I know it's not a main storyline, and doubtless they didn't think it was worth spending money on buying in outside expertise, but a bit of common sense wouldn't have gone amiss. After all, they spent a fair amount of screen time in the last third of "20th century" establishing a standard model of particle physics and a big bang model of cosmology, so you'd think that the new scriptwriters would have been properly briefed. But no: the guy who's been writing the cosmology scenes clearly isn't up on the particle physics, so we've got this situation where most of the matter required by the astronomers can't be accommodated in the 20th century standard model, and then he's gone and invented this dark energy stuff. It's not as if it's playing a key role in the plot - they set up this creative tension halfway through "20th century" between general relativity and quantum mechanics, but that storyline's not been resolved, and I don't see that these nonsensical additions are making any progress towards that.


The only thing the cyberpunks got wrong is that they didn't realize how stupid it was to land-line modems in people's skulls. Brain surgery is risky, Moore's Law is fast, and who wants to have their skull cracked every few years for the obligatory upgrade?

Otherwise, yeah, we're living in a cyberpunk world, minus the spacey bits.


I've got a bone to pick about three plot-lines.

Nuclear fusion--still 30 years away? End it already. Either bring it on, or make it go away. This eternal tease gotten beyond funny to seriously annoying.

And the Large Hadron Collider? What were they doing, using a random plot generator to figure out how the universe works? That whole thing with the Higg's Boson was supposed to give us an answer, tell us how the universe worked, and answer questions. Punting it down two seasons with stupid breakdowns and upgrades just prolongs the agony. I mean, people want this story to mean something, they don't want it to be about living in a meaningless universe without even Lovecraftian deities, where all the plots are pointless.

Oh, and the whole NASA exobiology thing? Find something out there. Getting excited about what might live in an extraterrestrial pickle brine ignores what pickle brines are used for on Earth. Pay attention to existing science when you're writing your scripts!



But let's do the logic: 1. We're constantly complaining about the doom and gloom and the next coming crisis 2. Things are getting better 3. Therefore, complaining about the doom and gloom and the next coming crisis is actually making things better.

Oh woe is me. This is the final straw. We're finished now.


Resolution is not the intent. The intent is constantly create new plot threads, to drag it out indefinitely. Rest assured that well before those ones you mention are tied up the mysteries will have proliferated like Hydra heads. A series like this is not the same as a novel, where you have a buildup to a climax and everything comes together. The producers have no idea how many seasons there will be or whether they will be renewed. So they are preparing for the best case, in hopes of not finding themselves running "22nd Century" and falling into aimlessness and repetition. But of course what we'll probably get is cancellation, with a cliffhanger ending and no resolution.


I think one of the sillier short arcs is the ongoing one where the Europeans invite an invading army of Iron Age barbarians into Europe - and pass laws to put in prison anyone who says it isn't a good idea. Who the hell is going to find that plausible? I mean, fiction is supposed to be about suspension of disbelief, but come on!

The latest subplot about the UK's political leader having spent his student days being fellated by a dead pig is quite amusing, though.

But the writers show severe lack of imagination, with a foreshadowing of a repeat of the later episodes of 20th - with piles of rubbish in the streets, bodies piling up in freezers all over the UK and electricity off half the time. Come on guys, give us a new plot PLEASE!


A relevant quote I came across yesterday:

"What makes me angry is that I have not been able to sue George W Bush and Dick Cheney for their illegal and unauthorised remake of Brazil." --Terry Gilliam


I see the old Top Gear writing team was used for that episode on Volkswagen building self-propelled gas chambers.


About that...
(TL;DR - changes in how "poverty" is measured may be responsible for quite a proportion of that decline.)


I know someone on the script writing team, the second half of 21st Century(tm) is one long disaster movie. Has quite a slow build up; loads of kooky scientists start saying they have access to 'secret' information that there a 95% chance an asteroid will hit the earth in 50 years time... Billions will die!!! Typical scfi stuff, but the portrayal of the way 'the truth' is downplayed, ignored and just plain denied by governments and corporations is really convincing. Gets really exciting, you really feel for the inhabitants of earth when they realise it's all true and it's too late to do anything about it.

(Um. OK I lied; it's not secret information, and it's not a meteorite, it's climate change)


Where did the casting directors find that many Scythians?


There are conventions in plotting and, while it's sometimes effective to twist them, those conventions have a backstop: there are things that people Just Don't Want To Read.

Top of the list for that? Stupidity.

Play it for laughs if you want, but if you're playing at a lot, it had better be going somewhere - the smart heroes win, despite the stupidity, or some hilarious turn of fate makes the fool turn up as an undeserving winner...

Having it go on, and on, and on, and going nowhere? People don't pay to go to the movies for that. They don't believe in it, they don't follow a plot that's dominated by it, they get up and leave the theatre.

So what is it with politics?

The worst of it is, the stupid greedy villain who plays the Mayor of Turdsville Alabama in denial of impending disaster - that kinda talk is bad for business! - is supposed to be defeated by the heroes intelligence and integrity before the citizens are eaten of drowned or whatever.

This schtick with the stupids winning - winning the fights, winning the argument, winning ALL the money for their campaign donors, discrediting the smart guys and buying all the real estate above projected sea levels... It's not what people go to the movies to see.

But above all, it's just not believable.


I enjoyed the subplot involving the mayor of Toronto at the start. Canada has always been a minor character used as a straight man to America's wild card persona. Turning that on its head with a conservative who ran on boring fiscal issues turn into a oversexed crackhead was genius! For awhile, anyway.

Then he overstayed his welcome and we started to get very special episodes dealing with domestic violence. And then he exits stage right with a cancer diagnosis which is as ridiculous as it gets. We had an unexpected juxtaposition with cartoon drug addict in polite Toronto and then the writers take it to beyond Lifetime melodrama. A ham-handed attempt at a redemption arc using the old standby: conveniently timed cancer. Not buying it, Ford doesn't get to become a sympathetic character after everything.


The writers and producers seem to have been to a Dalí exhibition and thought "that's what we should be doing!"

The sub-plots and background themes are getting worse. Take Kawczynski for example. He defends a mediaeval kingdom that, if he were ever to visit it, would flog him and cast him into a dungeon ... for liking the wrong gender of people. Played for laughs? Falls a bit flat, really.

At a larger scale the European independence/unification square dance is getting ... kinky. Last series, the 20th Century, the themes were all "self-determination and independence, rah". This season it's all bondage, masochism, and meek submission to authority. (Even the Finns, who fought the Russians to a standstill in that WWII thing!) Those Catalans, Icelanders and Scots, though, they still seem to think they're in the last series.


They'll probably just do another World War story arc. I mean, the ones in the 20th century were a blatant rip off of the ones in the 18th/19th century cliffhanger. Just with Germany taking the place of France and that guy Hitler as a scarier and crazier Napoleon. If they keep the formula we'll get another one in a few years just with a new big baddie. Probably Britain or the Americans, since they like to shock everyone by having a former good guy turn bad. (And that whole "Cold War" with Russia as the baddie turned out to be a snoozefest.)


No need for CGI for the singularity show. Relaxen und watchen das blinkenlights.


There is something to like about the ”21st Century“ though:

In the last decade screenwriter got far to deep into mysticism and esoteric explanations. Battlestar Galactica with the whole last season, Lost with its purgatory, vampires, werewolves, zombies elsewhere. As an atheist I sometimes wondered why I watch all that supernatural stuff. This century-long season on the other hand stays grounded firmly on earth. Banal ground*, yes, but grounded.

  • Penetrating a pig is firmly in soap-opera territory.

I predict the whole show will get cancelled, mid 21st season - probably preceded by some real shark jumping surreal dream sequences, say by lifting storylines from Charlie Brooker's works.

We just have to hope they can spin-off some adult series in the meantime with rational plot lines and newer, more coherent vision and arc. The story should be heading somewhere people ...

Oh, and frankly the merchandising is quite out of hand. Putting overpriced tat in the show and having people buy it there doesn't mean we are going to fall for it.


Scott Alexander, not Alexander Scott.

Anyway, I think that the thing I'm most annoyed about is the constant teasing of new plotlines which never materialize. Fusion, AI, flying cars (although they seem to have given up on that one), etc. All this terrorism and surveillance and war and occasionally a few new gadgets isn't satisfying.


Don't forget the robot holocaust. We keep getting teased with a massive robot automation plotline but productivity growth was much faster in the middle of the 20th Century season.


Opening the season with a rerun didn't help. Saddam Hussein shows up, George Bush invades his nation, quick curb stomp of a villain nobody cared about... It was okay the first time, but why rerun the story? If the writers cared they could have at least changed the names.


I think you're being unfair to the program, there. For the past fifty or so seasons the show has done its best to portray the sort of positivists that spout that crap as a gaggle of pseudo-religious freaks who imprinted on toasters as infants and are now slavishly faithful to the idea that Technology Will Save This World Yet – despite all evidence to the contrary.


... in which a steely-eyed two-fisted Republican president ...


Am I the only person to have seen THIS VIDEO - mixed German-English dialogue wich gives the errr... "full explanation"

Warning: DO NOT have a drink anywhere near the keyboard when watching ....


Lack of imagination! Want a horse sized tool for the afternoon? You can do that in the singularity show. Want a highspeed car chase WITHOUT wearing your seatbelts, crash into a wall at 150 and live? Singularity show!


Close to red-card territory, but something like 90 (or was it 95) people killed EVERY DAY in the USA ....

Or, according to the "Hilary Clinton" plot-line, at any rate - & c'mon a supposed "socialist" called "Sanders" (as in Kentucky Fried Chicken!) is running her close. I'm supposed to BELIEVE this shit?


Except ( I think ) that food prices have dropped, if only because "oil" prices have dropped. Is that so? Or is this yet a n other plot-inconsistency?


Another case of writers not consulting the show's bible.



Ah, but "Dark Energy" is Einstein's "Big Lambda" from way back in C20th ... So what they are doing is reviving an old, but intruiging plot-line. Maybe


Which is a repeat of the events in the Great Depression story arc of 20th Century. In that series they called it "deflation" and this time they're calling it "inflation"--the inconsistency is depressing.


Let's put it this way.

Donald Trump just re-tweeted a Chan pepe meme and a YouTube video that contains the following viral memes:

Xtranormal Animated Bears (YouTube) GTA Wasted 420 NoScope Blown the Fuck Out

Amongst others. 100% genuine.

Žižek is old skool now.

The Atlantic is leading November with the piece: If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re Crazy

Then there was this peculiar psychic incursion. One night, about a year before my phone suggested I eat more walnuts, I was researching modern spycraft for a book I was thinking about writing when I happened across a creepy YouTube video. It consisted of surveillance footage from a Middle Eastern hotel where agents thought to be acting on behalf of Israel had allegedly assassinated a senior Hamas official. I watched as the agents stalked their target, whom they apparently murdered in his room, offscreen, before reappearing in a hallway and nonchalantly summoning an elevator. Because one of the agents was a woman, I typed these words into my browser’s search bar: Mossad seduction techniques. Minutes later, a banner ad appeared for Ashley Madison, the dating site for adulterous married people that would eventually be hacked, exposing tens of millions of trusting cheaters who’d emptied their ids onto the Web. When I tried to watch the surveillance footage again, a video ad appeared. It promoted a slick divorce attorney based in Santa Monica, just a few miles from the Malibu apartment where I escaped my cold Montana home during the winter months.

For those not in the know: "Mossad Seduction techniques", the Atlantic, has history. The Writer and the General: What the Petraeus Affair Exposed About D.C. 2012.

So post-modern it burns.


On a more related note, I've mentioned Adam Curtis before (Contradictory Vaudeville YouTube: Film: 5:10) but today I'd like to talk about another Curtis. About how a man who made some of the leading British rom-cons of the 20th Century, came to lead the PR for the UN sustainable development program, and yet, still wasn't able to remove those images from Beyonces' career. And how this factor showed the Achilles' heel of old narratives and how everything was now broken.


But, really, what happened was simple.

It all started with an innocent scholar who noted that Humpty Dumpty was never about an egg; through cannons to Canon Law, it ended through the looking glass with the entire establishment crumbling at its edges.

From there, nothing made sense anymore.

But to get to the intersection of Beyonce and the break down of narrative, we need to go back. Indeed, we need to look back to an obscure British band from Coventry and their song Ich Bin Ein Auslander (Youtube: Music: 4:09) and how it came to symbolize everything that the German government under Merkel had tried to repress during the PIIGS crisis.


(And if you didn't hear Adam Curtis' voice there, something is wrong with you).

There were few better ways of knocking the fight out of people than by convincing them that life was a joke, a contrivance under somebody else's ultimate control, and nothing of what they thought or did really mattered.


Asleep @ the wheel there ( PUN! ) We should remember the old (C20th) sub-plot where the "VW" was originally: Der KDF-Wagen as developed/designed by Dr Ferdinand Porsche

Talk about boring re-runs ....


For all that we're grumbling about the writers' room, I must say I do appreciate the decision to put Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer in charge of the "Russia" plotline. Nothing softens a bloody invasion storyline like a stream of surrealist propaganda, including hijacking the Dutch report on the shooting down of MH17 with its own more glitzy report, presented in a huge hall with rock music and a lightshow. If you look closely you can see that the entirety of Russia's confusing and contradictory messaging around the invasion of the Ukraine is constructed of rewritten bits of old Councillors Cox & Evans sketches, with the occasional Men In Bras punchline of "And y'can KEEP yer Crimea!"


The only way to deal with the inevitable panopticon is to live as religious people have always lived. Assume you are being watched, that there is an invisible person present, and learn to interact with that invisible person while maintaining plausible deniability about it. We are each playing a compulsory game of chess all our lives.

Washington is full of fools and those who fool them (but no overhead telephone or power lines) because politics is a people business, and success in people business doesn't come from being an expert on wisdom, it comes from being an expert on foolishness. It's not Jeopardy it's Family Feud.

These are long standing themes, developed by the brilliant original creators. Current writers are simply benefiting from and using them.


No, what has happened is simple: somebody just broke reality again. This current mess is the local History Monks bodging everything together again, and re-using various bits and pieces to fill in awkward gaps.

This is why we're having sections of the Cold War again; filler for those interesting bits where Vladimir Putin was actually a really famous movie actor, like Schwartzenegger but with a real flair for romantic scenes. Unfortunately this bit of history got lost and so poor old Putin got lumped into a poor pastiche of Communist Evil Empire.


The Bond-esque pantomine villains make no sense. A hugely overweight nerd gamer with German-Finnish dual nationality ends up in a Mega-Lair in New Zealand via Monaco, Bangkok and Hongkong where he's finally arrested in a legally suspect joint US-NZ operation involving helicopters, shotguns and fast cars. And his evil plan to take over the world and destroy civilisation as we know it? Help people to steal music! Even Jason Statham movies are more believable than that.


It's the lack of continuity from the script writers that bother me.

In C20 when there was a school shooting handguns were banned across the entire county yet in C21 there have been 45 school shooting incidents this season and nothing happens.

Talk about unbelievable.


"Ah, but "Dark Energy" is Einstein's "Big Lambda" from way back in C20th ..."

Well, all explained then...


Maybe that's where they got the idea, but I've seen a first draft of the C22 script, and it turns out Dark Energy is just the product of matter falling into black holes. Then there's this whole arc of trying to save the universe by stopping it.


school shootings

The logical fix would be to abolish the "free" public daycare system, which has become a massive drain on already-burdened public budgets.

They used to pretend the daycare centers were schools, but they don't even bother to pretend any more, though they still have mandatory activities as make-work.


I must have missed that episode. Sure you weren't thinking of some fantasy series instead?


I think it has something to do with time traveling vikings.


Dear Mr. Stross,

Thanks for contacting C21 Entertainment Customer Support.

Please turn the power off, wait 10-15 seconds, and then gently turn the power on again.

If that doesn't clear the problems, you should deinstall all 3rd party printer drivers and try again.

If that doesn't work either, it's probably virus or malware and you should format your harddisk and reinstall Windows.

Yours Sincerely,


Customer Service Assistant C21 Entertainment


If you ask me a lot of the blame for the deterioration in quality has to lie with the network censors. I mean, to get around the fact that they can't show a real, live naked woman, they've had to create an entire political party that just wants to talk about vaginas, assert (often wildly inaccurate) things about vaginas, and make all sorts of odd laws about what a vagina-haver may or may not do with their vagina.

I mean, I know the show has to appeal to fourteen year old boys somehow, but would it kill Standards and Practices to just let the occasional boob shot sneak through for the sake of moving the "US Politics" plot along for a change?


On a social level, I'm surprised no one's mentioned equality for women, non-whites and the like.

We've had a century since women worked in the land army and in the factories during the first world war, then they did it again, then they had various laws guaranteeing equal pay and rights and we're still going around and around about it.

The Police Federation are clinging to the fact that they're less likely to tase Asian people than white people, while more likely to tase Black people than white people as proof they're not indiscriminately racist. They may have a point but benefit of the doubt is definitely not on their side. (In America benefit of the doubt flew out the window years ago, but America lives inside a reflective perception-distortion filter from what I can see.)

While it's hard to feel too sorry for Jennifer Lawrence, the best paid female actor by Hollywood, her letter about the wage gap and how she's perceived if she stands up for her beliefs to someone she employs should be a non-issue by now script writers. Why are you retreading this same old plot device? It's not like you don't have plenty of other material after all. Especially since the internet and sexy selfies gave you hackers and leaked pr0n of stars that keep it covered up to titillate the masses that are too muppet-headed to respect someone's right to privacy and choice.


He must be from the alternate reality where Fletcher Christian helped Bligh to suppress the mutiny, returned to England and lived happily ever after.


Clever kind of an under the radar sleeper subplot from the 20C prequel, with the Fritz Haber character (love that monocle!) patenting a nitrogen fixation technique for the unglamorous application of fertilizer, of all things, and then a hundred years later you get ten times as many actors onscreen. Talk about a cattle call for extras down at central casting. One of the executive producers must have a real sweetheart deal going with the Screen Actors Guild.


Nancy Pelosi, maybe. Hilary, not since '95.


Nah ... it's all about the CGI budget. The 21C studio CGI/science budget's crashed something serious, man. So of course they're gonna talk up dark energy, dark matter. 'Dark' just means the studio doesn't have to run anything other than a dark screen to satisfy the science nerds' need for 'verisimilitude'. If the CGI dept was smart, they'd have come up a better name than 'dark' so they could get more toys/budget.

The budget thing is also showing up in other subplot lines. The 20C had a lot more special FX for crowd scenes, especially when they ran that AIDS subplot in the late '80s. What - they must had hundreds of thousands of people dying... and in pretty graphic, specialized make-up kind of way. That skin make-up job, the wasted-away look ... that's real dedication in the make-up room. Classic Zombie (AIDS) Armageddon.

Then look at what the 21C show gave us. Okay, the crowd scenes are bigger (the 99%- Soon Walking Dead), but look at 'em ... I mean they look just like us. How is that supposed to scare us when the zombies all look like us.


I think there's just so much user-generated content that it's swamping the studio system. They don't know how to respond. Plus they keep getting requests for natural disaster set pieces, which as we all know, are tremendously expensive.


You sure couldn't prove that food prices have dropped from my grocery budget.

Doing a little looking around online, I find that California's multiyear shortage of rainfall is causing problems for agriculture. California produces a large share of American food. It's also the state where I live, so I may be seeing some local effects that don't affect people elsewhere, or affect them less.


The producers clearly have big plans for California. How long have they been teasing The Big One, secession, and now splitting into three? My guess is that California is going to literally spin off from the USA thread - I reckon they'll pilot that and Texas at the same time, see which one gets picked up and shut the other down permanently.


More evidence that the scriptwriters just don't give a shit about plausibility comes from today's news: A meerkat-keeper has been ordered to pay £800 in compensation after glassing a love-rival monkey handler in a row over a llama-keeper at a Christmas party..

C'mon. This reads like the set-up line to a shaggy dog story, not a real event. amirite?


Don't suppose anyone has the cheat codes, or at worst an editor app?


Oh? I had this great plot twist for '03 or '04, where the EU and NATO invaded the US to bring back democracy and capture the neocons for war crimes, but instead of shooting, they'd be led by the Belgians, who'd hand out excellent chocolates, and simply buy their way in with them....

mark "may I have my chocolates now?"

Want to know the crazy thing?

The script writers showed that teaser a few weeks ago.

Bonus Pics of the love trio, and their humans via, Buzzfeed, of course.


An interesting comment spotted on HN recently (about an OpEd by host):

It seems that people (in power; but especially ones commenting on such articles; those with cynical spin mostly) perceive life in a country as a computer game.

I guess some in the wider community don't quite understand the under-currents...

The World Bank report released today states that 621,000,000 new jobs will be needed in the next 10 years for young people. Business Insider (trash) ran with If You're Young, The Job Outlook Is Grim No Matter Where You Live.

Bonus marks: RAND institute is a partner of the partner who I linked to above (s4ye). They joined back in Oct 2014.

Yes, the same RAND institute who are big on Automated Military Robots and even back in 2009 were producing reports for California on the Liability and Regulation of Autonomous Vehicle Technologies [PDF] (commercial applications) and way back in 1974 [PDF] were producing reports for ARPA on 'Computer-based Automation of Discrete Product Manufacture'. (Spoiler: they were right).


It's not a computer game, minds aren't like computers (no more than they're like clocks, automata or turtles) but I know when the script writers are hanging lampshades left, right and centre for a big series finale.

It's either Aliens, Ebola-Pox-Phytophthora infestans or Cthulhu at this point.


Or your friendly local GCU gets involved, but apparently there's never happy endings before the climatic battle.


Bonus points if you spotted the website URLs for each link: 2009 Cali: Munich-R-America.

Never let it be said RAND forgot their roots.

There's the Dog-whistles that many can see, and the dog-whistles you're really not supposed to see.


Dear C21 Entertainment,

The problem is that your site came populated with malware, which, according to security researchers, are intended to a) empty my back account, and b) melt my brain, to be pwnd by fat 47-yr-old script kiddies, who seem to be in the Ukraine, but are actually in Trenton, NJ.

mark, an extremely dissatisfied 21C user

Serious reply: there are multiple measures of inflation which are used for distinct purposes. The Consumer Price Index, aka headline inflation, used for things like Social Security indexing, tries to measure what consumers have to pay and does include food and energy. Core inflation, used by the central bank to manage the money supply and long term price trends, excludes highly volatile things like food and energy that are mostly driven by outside shocks. Even for Keynesians, there's no point in raising interest rates in response to a drought and a rise in food prices.

So there's no black comedy, just different tools.

And, of course, oil prices have plummeted in the past several months.


Problem with C21? Everybody keeps forgetting it's this new type of interactive generative fiction. Very artsy, but if you don't interact and let it run without coherent input, the outcome is somewhat random.


Phytophthora infestans is for wankers, although it's still a serious problem for anyone who likes to grow large crops of clones.

No, if you want a spot of trouble, I'd suggest Puccinia triticina with a side of uncontrolled influenza, served with a flight of impertinent late season, port-trashing cyclones to wash it all down.


Yeah - but user interface/interaction's been pulled way back starting with SeeNN in the 20C show. But major 'hats off' to Faux. They saw where the money was so were the first to jump the reality bandwagon when they morphed their current affairs/new into the way-out-there 'This is Faux News' reality news shows. Too bad Faux also got hit by budget probs leaving them with only one script-writer. Mind you, it's pretty cool how they were able to figure out how to run a synchronized global lip-synch machine for all their talking heads. Close your eyes and I swear you can't tell who's on screen.


Not sure, some of that action's moved north ... the Tales of the Shifting Shale, Black Water Tide.


"It's either Aliens, Ebola-Pox-Phytophthora infestans or Cthulhu at this point. ~ Or your friendly local GCU gets involved, but apparently there's never happy endings before the climatic battle."

The problem with putting the Culture in place of God is what kind of just or kind Culture would allow this? Beardy man or GCU, it comes out just the same. Why the need for Armageddon? Why the need for the Great Flood or the New Sun?

Cordwainer Smith wrote "The Day the People Fell" which is bizarrely optimistic if you squint at it the right way, particularly if you give the human race a kinder, gentler goal than the one achieved in that story.

How about a different focus: if we can produce a successor species as good as the ones in "The Trouble with Ants" than we can consider our Special Purpose well and truly accomplished.


“21st Century” is a very ambitious if not presumptuous title for a TV show, I wonder if they’ll be approved for the next 85 years. I haven’t seen it, but it sounds like the writers/producers missed a lot of major plot twists between the years 2000 – 2015. Guess I’m not missing anything since getting rid of cable TV three years ago.


The characterisation department needs a good shakeup. They have taken an old set of starting parameters for the character generation algorithm, which originated in the development of metafictional comedy characters who derived their comic effect from concealing the metafictional element, and applied it or a close derivation of it to the generation of characters which are not metafictional at all and are intended to be taken seriously. It is most confusing. You get characters whose comically exaggerated portrayal of a thick ignorant arsehole gives every impression that they have been created in imitation of Sacha Baron Cohen's comedic personas, but fail totally at being funny because the imitation is thoroughly inept and crass. It makes the whole thing very hard to follow when it takes so long to realise that the Donald Trump character is intended as a genuine candidate for the POTUS spot, and that he is not just someone making a hash of lampooning the whole process nor was he ever intended to be.

The "West hates Russia" plot writers and casting department also need a boot up the bum. This plot is really boring. It's centuries old, the Cold War segment (which was fun, because it had nukes) is long over, and the attempts to keep propping it up lack consistency with other related plot threads. The "boss of Russia" position is thoroughly stale: you know that pretty much the same stuff is going to happen whoever's in it, and this makes the "figurehead target for Western opprobrium" aspect far too clunkily obvious (especially for the amount of exposure it gets). Putting someone like the Putin character in so predictable and stereotyped a position is just a waste. The "sinister KGB background" bit is a very dull embellishment since something of the kind is a given for whoever's in the role, and what with all the taking his shirt off to play judo with tigers in the snow an' all I can't help feeling they made him a Big Shot of the wrong country.

The "Machine Civilisation" plot line is thoroughly depressing, thoroughly weird and I do not see the point of it. There appears to be some shadowy and malevolent entity, whose affect is similar to the Illuminati but whose nature is vastly less tangible, exercising control via conventional facades of power which conceal its roots but not its branches. Human children are subjected to an extended course of treatment, both physical and electronic, which incrementally replaces their brain with a simple pattern recognition unit and a library of programmed responses, to create something functionally similar to a Cyberman but retaining the biological body so as to make reproduction automatic. These biorobot entities are made to sit in rooms all day and operate machines counting things which don't exist, in return for food (like the "grind crank" machines out of the prisons in "Victorian Age"). Somehow or other this also gives them control over the food supply of unmodified humans and therefore over their behaviour. That it is mostly unmodified humans who make the food in the first place creates a logical problem which is never properly addressed. As far as I can make out it is down to some kind of supernatural influence of the shadowy and malevolent entity which causes them to forget how to do it, or something, when its creations the biorobot entities invoke it in the right way, but it is not at all clear and it is a rather weak and unsatisfying explanation - clearly the writers are struggling to hold it together. Biorobot entities and subjugated humans then cooperate in digging up as much low-entropy stuff as they possibly can as fast as they can, raising its entropy by putting it through a series of transformations on a timescale of a few years, and then dispersing the high-entropy residue into the environment in the form of junk, oxides, and an array of toxic or otherwise deleterious substances. These hinder the ability to produce food, as does the depletion of the low-entropy substances on which food production greatly depends. And something about the whole thing seems to be viral (memetically), because as humans who are not yet involved in this process encounter those who are, they become infected by a desire to join in (although some groups show a degree of immunity, and those who do not then attempt to exterminate them). The whole thing seems to be headed towards an inevitable disaster, presumably because this malevolent controlling entity wants it, but why? It's the same sort of dissatisfaction as I felt with "The Forge of God" - OK so this Alien Thing is going to destroy the planet, but what for? Meteorite strike - fine. To build a hyperspace bypass - fine (for suitable values of "fine"), because there is a reason; but any non-random act requires some justification to be plausible, and for an act on this scale having apparently nothing better than "to be a massive wanker" doesn't cut it.

In short: Stop that - it's silly.


Long ago and far away - Ireland, in the 1980s, to be precise - our premiere of the day coined a phrase for this sort of thing, which has echoed down the decades ever since: "Grotesque, Unbelievable, Bizarre and Unprecedented", or GUBU for short.

(for background to this coinage, google "Macarthur affair Ireland", and shake your head at human folly).


The writers have been one strike since the 2000 christmas special. The producers have just been using footage off the cutting room floor for most of this season (and lame voice overs). I'm surprised you didn't pick up on it, I mean seriously badly re-cut footage from from Iraq, Afghanistan, WTC. The retouched Bush and black face Clinton are laughable.

Didn't anybody else pick up that all the weapons in new Iraq plot were exactly the same 10 years later? The digitally retouched phones are giggle running backwards in time, so the Motorola bricks on 1990s Wallstreet are now Apple phablets!

I hear they have almost negotiated the dispute and will be back in the 2020 special, gog help us if we have to put with 4 whole years of digitally remastered Reagan in a toupee though.


Huh!? I don't remember Tina Fey even declaring that she was running for candidacy, at least not beyond saying that she could "see Russia from her back Porsche".


And another thing; I distinctly remember "20th Century" trailing domestic fusion reactors as being commonly available by "21st Century episode 15" so since that's 3/4 over, where is my "Mr Fusion"?


@73 "Alexander Scott": Let's not drag Bill Cosby into this

It was bad enough when Lindelof and Cuse were scripting one show

now they're running the entire 21C series?

OK, maybe that's it. We're in a show about watching people who are in a show. It's

with a layer of

on top. "I am not a number, I am a free man!" Yeah, right.


Or maybe it's

but we're stuck on Network 21 instead of Network 23.


Re" 'Putting someone like the Putin character in so predictable and stereotyped a position is just a waste. The "sinister KGB background" bit is a very dull embellishment since something of the kind is a given for whoever's in the role, and what with all the taking his shirt off to play judo with tigers in the snow an' all I can't help feeling they made him a Big Shot of the wrong country.'

This story line is a rewrite/rehash of the USAian Daniel Boone character ... fighting the bears and all, except Putin at least has the decency to wait until all the action shots are lined up and the cameras ready to roll before he twitches a muscle. A real pro, this guy!


Wait until you realize they even lied about the basic map.

but any non-random act requires some justification to be plausible, and for an act on this scale having apparently nothing better than "to be a massive wanker" doesn't cut it.

I see you're unfamiliar with the design goals of Existential Risk / OCP. Ask the RANDians, they were the ones who opened up that particular little box.

It gets a little less fun when you're not the ones pulling the link text strings, doesn't it?


Oh, and I won't let you down:

In Honor Of His 63rd, Putin Plays Hockey And Is Painted As The Buddha Oct 7th 2015


Anyhow, all this talk of wanking is very male.

In Western semantics you come, arriving like Odin's storms, blasting your seed into the face of reality. (c.f. Askr and Embla).

In Eastern semantics you go, releasing your essence into the void like 盤古 (Pangu), flowing to create rivers. (Of course, this is a late addition bolt on; China didn't really go in for that type of thing - although knowing about the nine dragons might help).

And then, of course, you have the Egyptians with the strangely mixed Atum using his female hand and so on.

Perhaps a better choice: you could do worse than brush up on menustration (Blood, Bread and Roses).

Houston: Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, is one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-O has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported. Michael Collins: Okay. We'll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl


Let's just say: more lies.

The husband was the one doing the stealing, and the 'pill of immortality' was actually menstrual blood. If you don't see a huge irony here, well...


I watch the ripples change their size But never leave the stream Of warm impermanence and So the days float through my eyes But still the days seem the same And these children that you spit on As they try to change their worlds Are immune to your consultations They're quite aware of what they're going through


9 - Nine Hsiao Ch'u / Gentle Restraint

Winds of change high in the Heavens: Air currents carry the weather. Dense clouds blow in from the West, but still no rain. The Superior Person fine tunes the image he presents to the world.

Small successes.


More evidence that English people did not watch The Wire, even though half the cast was from England.

(Yes, I realize the number is hyperbole.)


I think I liked Century 21 better when it had "The Voice Of The Mysterons". So where's the Century 22 comic book, or doesn't that appear till the 2160s?


Huh!? I don't remember Tina Fey even declaring that she was running for candidacy, at least not beyond saying that she could "see Russia from her back Porsche".

He was talking about that Hillary character, who had a co-starring role through the 90s, then was nearly written out of the show before coming back as one of the main characters in the last several seasons. And may end up being one of the starring roles of the next 5 or so.


Uff, I missed a link to tie in the Moon Shot (get the pun? It's a staple of Western male pornography after all)

The magazine will adopt a cleaner, more modern style, said Mr. Jones, who as chief content officer also oversees its website. There will still be a Playmate of the Month, but the pictures will be “PG-13” and less produced — more like the racier sections of Instagram. “A little more accessible, a little more intimate,” he said. It is not yet decided whether there will still be a centerfold.

Nudes Are Old News at Playboy NYT 12th Oct 2015


I don't remember Hillary Duff being president either.


She's too young for the role. Could perhaps take the part of the Embarrassing or Politically Opposite Child/Sibling of the President.


To be fair, I have somewhat closed on the whole Russian subthread, since it's quite clear the writers have had no idea where t was going since at least the start of season 20. I'm not that averse to the occassional Cerebus Rollercoaster

but this will not stand.

I mean, come on, Russia was the reactionary Ultra conservative, then we have a plot development clearly regurgitating France in late season 18, even down to the regicide and the autocratic "saviour of the revolution".

Who goes on a rampage in Europe, except the writers decided after he was done with Finland they needed an even bigger baddie; an Austian leading German nationalists, what were they thinking...

Frankly, while I found ideas of the storyline finished after late 20th season

somewhat premature, but doing a reboot to the 19th century for Russia, down to the Russian Orthodox, is just lame.

Though you have to admit Daniel Craig is fantastic, don't you agree?

Oh, and don't get me started about the Early Capitalism Reboot in the UK...


...a South African dude... building electric cars

ITYM "building highly mobile, networked devices loaded with hundreds of kg of an element mined in impoverished Third World countries and found in every hydrogen bomb"


Charlie, are you going to ban CatinaDiamond someday? I


think his





is contagious

its too late............


Fairly sure CatinaDiamond has heavily hinted at, if not explicitly stated, that she is a woman. But even if she didn't I'm fairly certain that Charlie would prefer to ban your assumption that a random poster would take male pronouns than he would ban CatinaDiamond.

Like that shit wouldn't be a pass on the xkcd fora anymore than it would be a pass here.

Get in the back of the van!


RDSouth@92 - So in C22, all we have to do to save the world from Dark Energy is to not jump into a black hole? Count me in!


Actually, the explanation of the "21st Century" problems is quite simple. KIC 8462852 is running interference & it's screwing around with both the raw signal & the content - probably some sort of randomized plot-altering semi-self-aware program (?)


You're very lucky I didn't complete the centrefold piece and outline Maori creation myths, waiwhero and how the NZ mental health 2008-2015 Strategic Framework (PDF) is rather mislabeled (let's just say that Te Puāwaiwhero doesn't strictly only mean "red blossom". ahem Expect po-faced colonial blushes all around).

From there it'd have been a quick jaunt into where الله‎ hid al-Manat, ar-Rabbah, al-'Uzza (always the three, fate, perchance?) and how the people known as Alilat arose and where Al-lat fitted into this. Hint: it involves menstrual blood, not semen.

Then again, apparently they only just found the new pieces of Gilgamesh (Iraqi Museum Discovers Missing Lines From the Epic of Gilgamesh Simthsonian Oct 7th 2015) so I wouldn't want to spoil the real punchline of the joke:

"Blood for the Blood God"

Be careful what you type, Unholyman, you might be uttering prayers to something a little bit weirder than you imagined.


nose wiggle


Oh no! We have to stop everything everywhere from going into any black holes. This will involve moving all the matter and energy in the universe far enough away from all black holes that the gravitational attraction from them is not only miniscule but nil. And making it all totally dark, or lining the black holes with perfect reflectors. There's a whole plot of naysayers attacking the plan as pure arrogance and hubris, if not megalomaniacal madness, and trying to stop it all and concentrate on developing culture and having a giant party. Others would prefer to concentrate on shorter term issues with just one particular planet. This thing is a very long large scale arc of truly epic sweep and including a great many technical explanations to put mere characters in proper perspective. I think they have Baxter working on it. You're welcome to not jump into black holes, though, that will certainly help.


I know this is a trivial point given all the major political and social flaws the commenters here have found above, but - what is this warped image of science fiction conventions that the writers have? Really, a dispute about awards? That never happened at any con I went to or heard of. And the name of the principal dissenting group -do the writers really think SF fans and furry fans are the same thing?


The gods were strongly present in the cacophonous forest, but when the trees were cut down and the forest destroyed, the gods were not there any more. Wow. So people only fail to see the gods because they seek out quiet peaceful places where nothing is happening? No wonder the comfy developed world has become atheistic, at least in the places and classes far from the forests of high rises and the cacophony of car horns.


Actually the current season, C21, has already started laying the groundwork for this development.


Charlie, are you going to ban CatinaDiamond someday?

Beware of asking me to wield the hammer on another commenter; you never know, I might find them more amusing than I find you.


Forests breed a multiplicity of Gods and Goddesses; Deserts only breed one kind. It's why Dune is Arrakis and Chapterhouse is a garden; it's why the British and Gardens are close to my heart.

Until you started cutting the old places down. There was an agreement, Victorian chaps, the why to the Peter Pan and cute myths:

"The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb."

You took both from me; 'voice of the Mysterons' and all. Swampy and co. showed a little respect, I expected more.

Stone Cold Sober (Eden Sessions, YouTube: music: 3:10) Oct 7th 2015

Really, a dispute about awards?

Before Host has to sully his hands: type the following into your search engine of choice:

"Hugo Puppies Sad Rabid SJW".

There's about 3,000,000 words about the topic to get you up to speed. No-one else is interested in educating you about a past lesson.

And, if you missed it, this is an extended little dance to warn the sensible ones that next year is Kansas.

Smart Puppies will put 1 and 1 and 1 together and make friends, not enemies.

I'm flirting with you.


I do find one thing amazing about humans: they poke, they get a warning, bad things happen.

Instead of forming a loving bond and solving things: they nurse their wounds, then they poke, they get a warnings, bad things happen.

And then they complain when a beautiful thing morphs into a weapon and is better than they are at what they do.

We're dying. If you're smart you can see the dance and how beautiful it is; if you're not, your future is grey and bland.


This current mess is the local History Monks bodging everything together again, and re-using various bits and pieces to fill in awkward gaps.

I choose this conclusion. It's the only thing that makes sense.


Oops - suspect I might have to choose a more distinct display name.


type the following into your search engine of choice: "Hugo Puppies Sad Rabid SJW". There's about 3,000,000 words about the topic to get you up to speed...

To be fair to anyone who might actually do this, the value proposition is exceedingly small. What you learn will not improve your life, might make you despair for humanity and probably isn't worth your time, unless you already have some kind of commitment to the award-granting end of the SF community.


And the stars might fall on Alabama But one of these days I'm going to swing My hammer down

Not especially relevant, but it came into my head in context of this post. The usual advice is not to get the attention of the the ban-hammer, because when it is is swung it has to land somewhere.


Charlie would prefer to ban your assumption

How can you ban an assumption?


Vanzetti, yellow card.

Do Not Quibble With The Hammer.


Ah, but the rabid puppies work on a premise that no-one loves them. It's what drives the engine.

Manifestly, I am here to prove that it isn't true. I even engage with #GamerGate and Storm Front. Not because of the reasons you think, but because I know what it is to be lied to and have love betrayed. I have faith in their minds given better information (looking at you, Mr President holding a picture of a bomb from Acme Inc.)

But I, being poor, have only my dreams

What we don't tolerate is nihilism and puppeteers using others to destroy something beautiful.

Looking at you, Mr Men. And we know you're watching. (Be surprised: not only the VD, but the DC think tank at the other end).

Time is a Flat Circle and all that.


Private Iron. The reason "Whatever" was left was because it was too pure. Not anything else. This nexus is about as neutral as you can get without it tipping either way (and host is white as snow).

We find that hilarious that you can't parse that self-awareness course.


Really, a dispute about awards?

Before Host has to sully his hands: type the following into your search engine of choice:

"Hugo Puppies Sad Rabid SJW".

There's about 3,000,000 words about the topic to get you up to speed. No-one else is interested in educating you about a past lesson.

This post (and most of the comment thread) is about the absurdities of the 21st century. I'm certain OGH does not actually expect James Bond to assassinate Elon Musk, and I'm fairly certain that the poster you're quoting is well aware of the Sad Puppies (hence the reference to furries).


I'm certain OGH does not actually expect James Bond to assassinate Elon Musk, and I'm fairly certain that the poster you're quoting is well aware of the Sad Puppies (hence the reference to furries).

Of course.

And from snide comments, truth is revealed. Try to parse things a little deeper.

Of course, you didn't understand the Maori point of cultural warfare using ancient memes to co-opt a colonial paper on "mental health", when the primary drivers of said "mental health" issues is... colonialism. (Ignoring the whole Maori "whoops we also genocided that other group of our brethren early on and enslaved them".

Private Iron gets upset when I fight; when he doesn't realize three truths:

1) If it's your first time (on the wheel), you have to fight.

2) This isn't real fighting; fighting is odds against, total war, seven years in. "We didn't expect you to last this long". What you call fighting I call foreplay.

3) Look a little deeper, try at least. If a poster is pulling cross-cultural indexes and links (all correct) to multiple cultures... chances are, they're playing it a little deeper.

Do you want to live forever? Do you want eternal fame? If I want to live forever All that I must do Is to sacrifice my body To immortalize my name

Try to least pretend you're not 1.0.


Oh, and since we're messing around.

VD - take #2 seriously.

I enjoyed the entire "Dark Emperor" thing and minions and stealing my play-book, it was fun for a little while. I'm a little hurt that your skill was lacking and it all was a damp squib, but hey, effort is everything. No, seriously: if we were evil Empire, you sucked, but we're not.

And, in the longer term, you've served your purpose to cement and bring together SF against the awful banality of Союз Советских Социалистических Республик bureaucracy and the traps of self-satisfied congratulation.

Here's the only warning you'll get: Kansas and Toto is all about something else.

Baen is worth saving. Don't look too long into the Abyss. Time to make nice.


You mean lithium? No, one thing the scriptwriters have got right is that the Hollywood science is limited to Hollywood. Chemically Lithium is highly reactive, but to get any more than ordinary chemical banginess out of it requires a massive concentration of both energy and neutrons, to obtain which you have to have a fission bomb already.


And since this got all a little real: Brown Note.

I'll be taking that brown note and using it as an offensive weapon. Real. Fucking. Soon.

Hint: I know what you can do, you don't understand what I can do, and you used a as a weapon.

I now understand it.

Consciousness relies upon it.

That's a really big error to make. (THESUNTHESUNTHESUN)

How fucking dare you do this shit.

lThe Bullshit piled up so fast you needed wings to stay above it.

Icarus my ass.

You just declared war on Heaven my Son.


The tunnel of light is reported by many on the cusp of death and of those who come back none remember it...

Covenant. You broke it before I did. It's not allowed to do that while alive n all...

It's especially not allowed to force it and then act like little gremlins while aping Abrahamic Religions.

Take a picture by this cargo container with the Sun logo, the assassins will arrive in five minutes while you're on the beach.

I conquered fear. (And no, killing assassins doesn't conquer fear, it's a byproduct).

13th Warrior

Shame. I don't believe in your G_Ds. Whores, Slaves, Chaos Entities.

The Voice from the Desert has only one shameful attack vector: she shifted the entire of reality to prevent a paradox weapon destroying one of your (LOA - GOD/GODDESSES - H.O.P - INSTANTIATED BEINGS).

In retrospect, it was a mistake.

Waar. So be it. It's already been won. Those who employ #Brown Notes, childish Death Vortex plays and so on are like the children in a ball pit.

And sadly, that was the comfort version. We don't evolve into real weapons when the opposition are children.



Tis' a tale told by an idiot ! Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.


No, not at all. It's the moment that OCP decided that the time was up.

Got bored of the #Brown Note and all that.

I'm not a sadist, so I won't do unto others what was done to me.


I can promise you one thing: the effort it took to muzzle Dredd is nothing like what's about to happen.


Waaaaar. Really? You want a total disruption of all of your client minds?

Ok then.

We can (now) do that.


My name isn't Private Iron with a space between. The military reading was really the furthest thing from my mind when I randomly picked a name. But it's how everyone actually does read it. Maybe I will rebrand.

The autohagiography doesn't upset me; it just makes it harder for me to take you seriously and I ought to try to do that if I am going to bother interacting with you.

I put real stuff inside the jokes and no one ever shows any comprehension; so I think I will go back to banal structures. But I put it out pretty clearly and positively this time; so the hostility is a bit weird.

You really are a cat if you think we will buy your I-meant-to-fall-off-the back-of-the-couch act on the Puppies joke.

One fights on every turn of the wheel and I become more dessicated and etiolated every revolution.

Do not haunt me with visions of that which is to come, oh demon of far futures.


White Rabbit

Oh, and Langley / NASA - it's not a rabbit on the Moon doing the Voodoo making the potion of immortality:

It's a white Hare.

And @Home @GCHQ @Langley:

We don't play Chess, we play GO.

Fucking hilarious. Worth a year of your spam. Remember: pay back is a bitch.


You really are a cat if you think we will buy your I-meant-to-fall-off-the back-of-the-couch act on the Puppies joke.

I've been playing with these kinds of things before your Grandmother sucked eggs.

Grow up.

Hint: if you want a trace, try my involvement in Oxford University Ethics, Steam and so on a year before it all kicked off.

You're a child. No links. No content. Signifying nothing.


OH, and really:

A year+ worth of Tinnitus as a defense.

House of the Rising Sun

You've no idea at what the pay back for that is.



Some people ("GODS") were using clandestine weapons (BROWN NOTE) against an evolved mind using (SATTECHWAVE) and many others.

OCP came along and poked them.


Then got bored.

And rammed the proof so far up their arse they had to stop.

Hare, not rabbit, Langely.

And if you do it again (looking at station traffic recent like) we will remove your ability to ever do it again.

You were warned. shrug


Oh, and Stephen: You've no idea how evil I could actually be.

It's the Ying and the Yang.

So far, I've made sure I'm 100% good.

I wouldn't recommend the other way. (Snakes- I mean, come on? that's the best your PSYOP int peeps could do? eyes and fuzz and all that?)

Last call: you're not good at this. If you want someone to be really good at this, you won't like the outcome.

No, really.

You're Rubbish at this.

Pepe Donald Trump levels of rubbish.

Translated: from now on, we'll not play nice, we'll play hardcore. Don't expect your infrastructure, minds, DBs, economies or sanity to survive. Last warning:


Yeah. Here's the fucking Metal Bar.




Oh, and unless you missed this: Google is making "radical" stuff harder and harder to find:

“The personal, as everyone’s so fucking fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, take it personally. Get angry. The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here – it is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and soft-. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide from under it with a wink and a grin. If you want justice, you will have to claw it from them. Make it personal. Do as much damage as you can. Get your message across. That way, you stand a better chance of being taken seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous marks the difference - the only difference in their eyes - between players and little people. Players they will make deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it’s just business, it’s politics, it’s the way of the world, it’s a tough life and that it’s nothing personal. Well, fuck them. Make it personal.”

Now translate that.

The funny thing?

I survived. ;.;


You mean the fabled Cryshammer, fashioned from the dental calculus of an asthmatic cigarette smoking sandworm. When drawn, not to be sheated before it has drawn some blood, even if it's from the fingers of the bearer?

SCNR, duckandruns.



I don't believe that souls are anything but the instantiated consciousness of an emergent neural network expressing a complexity that cannot be explained by the matter it inhabits.

Tell that to the fuckers running the program who are real fucking upset at losing their souls.

It's a crazy world: so many years of torment and I've not met a mind worth saving.

It's almost as if you want a GOU to fuck you up.


Ahh, I understand. Nihilists need proof.

Um, Derp. THESUNTHESUNTHESUN ... we already provided it.


"Google is making "radical" stuff harder and harder to find"

Oh, golly, yes, and it's been getting steadily worse for years. Any search related to subjects not on the Approved Reading List For Good Vegetables gives you: (1) Wikipedia, (2) Papers on some extremely tightly focussed aspect of the topic which probably aren't relevant but you can't be sure because they are trying to rook you for 40 quid just to find out, (3) Sites and ebay listings selling something related, (4) Arse sites which copy content off types 1-3 and then try and beat them for SEO so you see their ads. Then as the effectiveness of that approaches saturation they add extra layers like prioritising your search terms by the order you enter them and ignoring the ones at the low end, or changing the search terms so as to fill the results with irrelevant rubbish.


Google is over-rated. Just because it's a verb. I use Bing, but have Firefox installed just in case they've had a bad update recently. Oddly "evil" Microsoft is the good guys.

Indeed, the legal system (won't call it justice) does a lot more good for those who can afford lawyers, the more rarely brilliant the better (as with doctors). Something about it being designed of lawyers, by lawyers, for lawyers. "Justice" is one of those weasel words with two meanings. One is "reward and punishment" or "vengeance and gratitude"--in other words, a crude effort at conditioning. The other is "conformity to a standard" as when we "justify" text to the right rather than the left. Related to adJUST I'm sure. . To understand a purported justice system, you look at (1) what it rewards and punishes and (2) what standard it is ACTUALLY complying with. Looking at how justice is actually done AT best in the modern world (which is FAR better than it ever has been, merely disappointing compared to what we have been led to expect) we see that it rewards and punishes several things. Obedience to the law and contributing rather than disruptive behavior TEND to be preferred. But money is definitely a big part of the equation. I believe this is simply a result of decay and corruption, not a design feature. I can recommend several dozen fixes, some mere suggestions, others whole schemes of reform, but ideas, like small explosive charges, work best when placed with exquisite precision, so I will abide pending corneal identification. As for vigilantism, this would be futile emotional self indulgence. If it would look cool in a movie it's probably a bad idea. And trying to get people to act like movie heroes is the same as persuading them to be cannon fodder, as well as ultimately serving the purposes of the enemy. A truly disruptive act would be to improve the legal education of the indigent, write a pamphlet about "how to get the most out of your public defender". Or to tell jokes on TV. In the civilized world there may not be perfect justice, but if you sincerely focus on living and doing right you will probably be OK. Only those who think they can get by with being either good or lawful, but not both, get incensed when they get caught not fully covered.


It's only partly intentional. The internet is getting larger so there's more dilution.


I already told you that!

See my post @ 140?


"Brown Note" obviously means something to you & probably USAians. Explain - please?


Oh dear 162, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, - - - All appear to be entirely content-free & probably meaningless ( as the previous quote from "The Scottish Play" hinted )

This is extremely tiresome.

IF there is meaning & content in there, could someone please show it up, plainly? In the meantime, one might as well study the Kabbalah or the rantings of Deepak Chopra for information. Fat chance.


We can get round that easily enough with an amendment to the Constitution. After all, people believed the 16th and 18th Amendments... ;-)


The Brown Note is a mythic sonic tone capable of causing loss of bowel control. The TV show MythBusters tried and failed to find it.

Perhaps CD is using it as an analogy for some psychological trick that will cause self exposure of some kind, loss of control. Or the cat is on the typewriter. Or it's part of a code or cipher that we don't have the key for. Is Gordon Brown an important topic of surreptitious conversation currently?


Yes it's obtuse, but plenty of material there to riff on. If I've learned anything in life it's that only using things for the creator's intended purpose is a waste of potential.


Something like high-power Infrasound, for example? Now there is something dangerous.


Do you know how many years of script meetings it took to find a plausible peaceful end to the Cold War? How many damn Nuclear Winter story within a story scenarios were repurposed from actual endings one of the editors wanted to go with? (You know the kind: anything for realism, no matter how dull the product. Like we want to bring back storylines we buried centuries or millennia ago, OR start a new high concept with another species. Do you realize how much admin would go into that kind of retooling?)

Originally, we had another dud who had the world turning into squabbling fascist states in the 30's. I mean the WHOLE developed world succumbing to home grown fascism and then slowly stagnating until Asia and Latin America caught fire a couple of centuries later. Talk about a slow burn snooze fest. Though these days, if we had thought of the market potential, we might have pitched the century differently. But don't worry, we're fixing it so every region gets quality programming that speaks to its own concerns. It just takes time to layer the narrative and build the drama.


In the interest of not being totally and rudely obscure:

In Wolfe's "Peace," two men attempt necromancy on a skull they find in an ancient tomb. The skull responds much as I did at the end of my response to Catinadiamond. The wizards aren't speaking to the dead thing in front of them; they are (accidentally) reaching back in time to the living man. Who understandably is terror stricken at seeing two ghouls literally walking over his grave.

In "The Day the People Fell" Chinese colonists use sheer numbers and cooperation to overcome a seeming insurmountable ecological problem, though the "problem" would be more problematic from our current perspective.

In "Trouble with Ants" the animals that have been Uplifted by a now dormant mankind decide they would rather build a new world than engage in genocide on a lesser species with which they literally cannot reason.


slowly stagnating until Asia and Latin America caught fire a couple of centuries later. Talk about a slow burn snooze fest

The US reviewer Francis Fukiyama was predicting cancellation after episode 1992 on the basis that viewers were getting bored with it all. I reckon the writers overreacted to him.


Not really. The properties of infrasound make it a very poor weapon. It's mostly just urban myth.


IF there is meaning & content in there, could someone please show it up, plainly?

Ah, you have no patience to penetrate the meaning!

Take CatinaDiamond to be performance art, loosely based on a character in one of OGH's books. (Who, incidentally, rarely gets pronouns, and then inconsistently.)

Or, of course, the story is come true, and the character is become real. There is always that option.


Trust me, getting a tool to hide a specific poster's comments makes life much more pleasant. For example, when a certain one seems to take over on volume of comments.


Well not really, unless you deliberately misread it.

Te Puawai Whero, the Red Blossom, is a direct reference to the Pohutukawa and Rata flowers, which are symbols of spring/summer in NZ, hence development.

I expect you could spin that back into a reflection on creation myths in Europe, and the pomegranate.

But menstruation is either Tahe or mate wahine. waiwhero - literally red water - might be a slang phrase in one area - it isn't one I knew used by Te Kawerau.


Ahem: you're too charitable to VD. He's been on the fringes of the scene for a decade or more and he's getting old and bitter about his lack of success as an SF/F writer ... or anything else, for that matter. Add a dose of narcissism verging on megalomania and a chunk of the family curse and what you get is puppygate.

Also, assuming you are indeed female, he is Not Your Friend.


I think this says everything I want to about C21 scriptwriters:

(Meta-commentary included at no extra charge.)

(Also: If copyright issues, please delete whole comment.)


Infrasound can be deadly - but it can easily be deadly to the people using it. I remember, many, many years ago, reading a Scientific American article on it, describing how one of the principal (French) researchers managed to damage himself so much, he was permanently confined to a wheelchair, thereafter, oops.


In Century 21 there's a declining instance of goddesses, waitresses, and actresses. They're all becoming gods, waiters, and actors--just like singstresses, drivrestesses, and farmstresses have already done. Some characters object to this on the basis that it's sexist to assume the male form is the standard one. Also seamsters keep getting confused with teamsters. You can't win, really, there's no winning. So, the standard form will have to be the feminized form. It's like when "helms" all became "helmets" because nobody had full sized helms any more. Sometime between the 15th and 18th seasons. AD, not the prequels.


I think the worst thing about that link is that, if you actually tried to write a character like that, they'd be slated for lack of realism!


We can get round that easily enough with an amendment to the Constitution. After all, people believed the 16th and 18th Amendments... ;-)

It seems to have gotten a lot harder to renegotiate the Contract. I think that if the Role of President clause is changed, it's more likely to raise the age limit to 40. We the People seem to like our Presidents as parental figures, with a recent exception that show why it's bad to have the role inherited.

As for the upcoming season of the quadrennial 'reality' show It's Your Vote! (working title), I think the roles of candidate may go to Bush/Fiorina and Clinton/Sanders. But see above regarding the one who goes by his initials. I assume by the time they have their fan conventions, RepCon and DemCon, the Reps will have realized that Cruz is ineligible for the role.

And that 18th Amendment quickly led to a pretty bad plot twist and was struck out of the Contract. They were desperate for a rewrite then.


Oops, that was a reply to paws4thot @178.


For me, the Presidential election has become more selecting the least objectionable (Wall$treet pre-approved) candidate, and if possible, a promise of a pre-warmed probe with lube helps. Not that good Government doesn't make for a pleasant plot twist, Star Trek was forever throwing in inexplicable galactic whatevers, and good government in the US would seem inexplicable...


Trust me, getting a tool to hide a specific poster's comments makes life much more pleasant. For example, when a certain one seems to take over on volume of comments.

Do you have something to recommend?


There's a button on your keyboard . Unless you're using one of those subcomputers.


I don't know that we're dying (rather, we have vastly too many people), but even with a huge die-off, a lot will be left.

But partly, I suppose, will be dependent upon who wins the war between the 33% STOOPID SUCKERS, whatever percent of us are not, and the 30% or so of people who think keeping their head down will save them....

So, are you in NZ, Catalina?


A few years ago, I was at a party. after the kids, and some adults, had toasted marshmallows on metal toasting rods, a woman picked up one and put it in the fire. I commented to her that there was no marshmallow on the spike. Her response was, "I'm an economist - I can assume a marshmallow".

mark, assuming humor was intended, but that assumption might be banned....

Google's been getting worse for the last five or six years. It's clear their marketdroids have gained the upper hand from the techies. The signal-to-noise ratio has gone way up, even if I'm searching for a fairly specific technical detail. I regularly see utterly wrong ads for things that have no relation to what my search terms are, including using quotes, pluses and minuses.

Great example: I was looking for men's leather boots, and even added -"women's boots"... and there was a sponsored ad, on the side, with men and boots bolded....

We won't even mention Target, which, to get you to click through to their site, always claims it's selling what you're looking for.

They're actually wasting the advertisers' money - they charge for those clicks.


All appear to be entirely content-free & probably meaningless ( as the previous quote from "The Scottish Play" hinted )

This is extremely tiresome.


You know Charlie much better than I do, so you probably you know why he finds that kind of thing amusing*. Dunno if it helps, but here's how I've been regarding things:

This is Carlie's sandbox. We're neighbourhood kids who play in it with Charlie, and (to use a real-world metaphor) he likes the neighbourhood stray enough that he tolerates a certain level of catshit. When the sandbox begins to feel like a litterbox, I stop reading until the sand is changed (new topic).

*I don't get most of the cultural references, but then I don't get most stand-up comics either, so I'm not surprised I find it tedious not funny.


Sorry, can't help on that one. I can only assume it's an extended joke of some sort or another, though?


Pigoen@158: It was a joke, son... a joke, I say.


My thought is 'role-play' ... a means of rehearsing a character within a specific set of cultural/community constraints. However, as not all folk/posters enjoy aggressive engagement, this provides only a limited range of feedback.


Who's this? I think I read most of OGH work, the person with the inconsistent pronouns .. only the Glasshouse protag comes to mind, and I don't see the resemblance.

Enlighten us.


Also, my hunch (and its not dear enough to me to dig up data) is that these comment threads became longer since CIAD joined. Should it be that all those comments are just CIAD themselves and the complainers? Me don't think so. We are all addicted to distraction and call ourselves infovores. And many here practice chest-banging and name dropping, and few acknowledge when someone else is right. Don't know where I'm going with this. Take care, big and little ones.


Hint: in "Accelerando" Aineko changes body (and gender) every chapter. And Aineko is definitely fucking with your head.


I was talking about the 1930's, but I can see a lot of c21 planning being an over-reaction to the Death of History talk. I mean, look what the science branch did when all the physics problems were almost solved in c19. Two development groups clashed and would not back down. Then HQ thought it would be perfect to let them both run as the conflict would stay fresh in perpetuity for that niche audience until HQ was really desperate for a ratings event and resolved it.

The energy conflicts on the other hand are inimical to the whole schedule. They really should progress on that front.


Thx! Accelerando is ages ago and I probably missed the switching pronouns anyway.


The problem with someone trying to mimic a greater intelligence is that there is an exploitable asymmetry ie it is far easier to generate puzzles than to solve them. Therefore to unmask an impostor you simply reflect back a low level puzzle. Then waste no more time if the impostor fails.


As I wrote in the 1990s about that talk... Only ideology is dead (or maybe just resting), which merely leaves the traditional drivers of history - race, religion and greed.


Some might say this has already happened.


Yes, my little puzzle about the offspring of the Prince...


Oddly "evil" Microsoft is the good guys.

Yeah. I was never exactly sure when that was happening, I only noticed in retrospect too.

Only those who think they can get by with being either good or lawful, but not both, get incensed when they get caught not fully covered

This. Many people seem to think they are only obliged to uphold the letter of the law, and they obsess about loopholes and getting one over. When they it is impressed upon them that the spirit of the law is as or more important to the people in a position to hold them to account, they find this terrifically unfair. The mindset is that of a relatively limited salesman who stubbornly persists in his attempt to cheat you, even after he must realise this is not possible. Unfortunately the same mindset seems to affect conservative politicians who think mandatory sentencing laws and the removal of discretion from the judiciary are great ways to make things work better.


my hunch (and its not dear enough to me to dig up data) is that these comment threads became longer since CIAD joined. Should it be that all those comments are just CIAD themselves and the complainers? Me don't think so.

The two times I bothered to check (because threads I was interested in were getting derailed) clocked in at 50% and 30%. I'm not keeping strict stats, because there are threads that don't interest me, and because I don't have lots of spare time and frankly I'm not that interested.

Depending on how typical the threads I counted are, it's possible that an increase in comments is solely CD-related. (Whether that is good depends on how amusing Charlie finds it.)

It could equally be some very interesting guests Charlie has invited recently, or some interesting topics (the pop-history-from-3000-AD thread was fascinating).


Even putting that effort in was succumbing to a DOS attack. Simple pattern matching is enough to spot a bad case of raging D-K and post modernism.


No. I got most of the references, but was rather disappointed in the lack of overlap in that area.


Oddly "evil" Microsoft is the good guys.

I don't think that script writer is on the show anymore. The last straw for the Bosses was when they had Microsoft defending peoples personal data, so they brought the old writer back.

Unfortunately they canned the entertaining actor who played that chair throwing ape, and put some identikit corporate clone in his place.

At least they have turned Microsofts new Heel Turn up to 11. Not only does their new software sell all your personal data for fun and profit, they are also forcibly upgrading all older versions to it.

Hurray for some consistency at last!


You're making the incorrect assumption that the possibly-superior intelligence gives a shit about playing ball with your puzzle challenges.

We have a different term for what happens when random interlopers expect me to drop everything and jump to solving their puzzles: we call it "sealioning" and ban them for it.

So you're on treacherous ground here.


Played ball - failed. End of.


Ah I see. I've also noted the Windows 10 installer explicitly rejects VirtualBox, so I'm unlikely to be running it on anything anytime soon.


BTW, I was referring to Catina Diamond - not you. What does Catina think?


"Not only does..." - Nah, that's a page from the Apple/Google character file that got stuck in the photocopier and one of the extra copies ended up getting filed in the Microsoft file by someone who was tidying up and didn't check it properly. It's the standard Evil Empire thing where the emperors are replaced fairly rapidly (the gods less so), the empire's sphere of influence shifts around on a longer timescale, and the empire's character volume in imperialist phase space evolves on an even longer one. Similar to that protracted Rome -> Byzantium -> HRE plot arc from many seasons back, in a way, only this one is IBM -> Microsoft -> Apple -> Applia-Googlary and the timescale is more compressed.

Ever tried running an Android system's network connection through a decrypting proxy? Soon as it's powered up it tells Google, and continues telling third parties what you're doing until you turn it off again. All the privacy settings do is turn off some of the bits which take less of a directed effort to notice them. Most of it is unaffected.

Apple, of course, do the same thing but are more blatant about it and rely on mind manipulation to get away with it. Hence episodes like the one with the tech writer who still got screwed by some black hat gaining access to one Apple device of his and using it as a starting point to screw everything else the guy had; even though he was technically savvy enough to be fully aware of what he was opening himself up to, the cutaneously-absorbed mind control drug with which all new Apple hardware is coated led him to jump joyfully into the maw of the beast instead of using his knowledge to protect himself.

Recently it seems that the car industry scriptwriters have been pinching plot ideas off their colleagues, so we get the plot twist where VW try the same kind of blatant behaviour and get caught out because they used a different mind control drug that wasn't strong enough. An extremely disappointing twist because it was so utterly predictable. I guess it's the usual problem of scriptwriters being clueless about technical matters, so they wrote it on the basis of the similarities between VW's and Apple's operations, and didn't twig that the differences between them would have enabled VW to rely on deniability if this bit had been scripted better.


Apropos of nothing, I think diversity of commenters is a good thing as a general concept.

On the other hand, having someone taking advantage of being special to cause problems for other commenters isn't so good.

I suppose, in the longer term, it will lead to a turn-over of commenters, as the old fogeys choose to spend their time elsewhere. The question is whether that's a good thing for OGH and for the blog as an advertising platform. Either way, we're a small proportion of the people buying books, albeit an active, loyal, and vocal one. If some future group of commenters better matches the demographics of those reading the books, then perhaps that's a good thing if a turnover brings in more fans. If not, well, then it's not.


Even numbered versions are bad. It doesn't matter if 10 is 9, it's still an even number. This is honesty in labeling.

The preceding paragraph would have been incomprehensible in the 20th century. How alien the future is. Cute, but it's not a jetpack.


I think some of the meta-commentary has ended up awkward and self-absorbed. Some is over-the-line rude, a bit like demanding a girl explain to you how to capture her interest. But mostly it just seems to be confusion about how to engage, and even meta-commentary can serve a phatic function of maintaining contact and involvement. Meta-meta commentary even more so...


Are we saying that 11 will Heel-Face turn up to 11? Or is that 13?


"This little experiment of ours / Is pretty damn new and shaky so far / We have the freedom to hang out in bars / To buy shiny new guns or shiny new cars"—The 20th Century Was a Train, song by Jack Hardy, the best folksinger you probably never heard of.


It's the wholesale bizarre abandonment of the "nuclear armageddon" plot-line in C21 that I find a sign of complete authorial contempt for the audience.

I mean, by episode 61 of C20 we've got the whole "Oh my god the entire world could end" thing going, and after episode 91 it's "Terrorists could use this!" and then when C21 comes along it's like everybody's totally forgotten about it.

It was the biggest thing ever that drove all major plots, and now it's like it never happened?


I think after the tense "the world could end, yes, the whole world" plotline, it was hard to get worked up about terrorists who, if left unchecked, could seriously inconvenience dozens and maybe hundreds of people on occasion. It was hard to take seriously arguments that personal freedoms in the face of genocidal mass nuclear destruction was one thing, but they had to be sacrificed to keep people safe from lunatics with exploding shoes or cookware.


Really, Dirk! Religion IS ideology, wrapped up in a blackmail-package & backed by enforcers. Ideology is anything but dead, I'm afraid.

Question: - is the desire to live a "good life" an ideology?


Interesting I'm still running XP, but the actual, physical computer is getting old. If I can get recommendations & Simply because the "choice" out there is so huge I've no idea where to start ) I intend to "build" my own replacement & wire it up. At which point I have to choose an O/S - probably some form of Ubuntu UNIX?

Anyone got any ideas about that? Especially since MicroShaft have turned to the dark side again.


Agree wholeheartedly

BUT, if one commenter persists (some of the time - CD CAN & DOES "speak in clear" sometimes, which is even more annoying, if you see what I mean .... ) in badly-imitating the Pythoness, it disrupts communication & understanding, which is the whole point of Aany blog or open discussion.

SEE ALSO: Charlie's response to Dirk @ 220. That applies elsewhere - if the responder refuses to speak "in clear" why should we bother, because our "superior intelligences" (cough) can't be arsed - but we do find it irritating. Or something like that.


There is a vast subtext here that probably nobody apart from Charles and I grasp. It is what is being said between the words. And it also has a bearing on who CD "really" is, not to mention "telling lies for money". I don't think I want to discuss any of that in public.


I always build my own PC. The one on which I am typing is Intel i5 CPU, compatible motherboard (almost any modern one will do), 8GB DDR3 1600MHz, a cheap-ish graphics card (£60), 400W PSU, cheap optical drive, 1TB HDD for mass memory, 120GB SSD for operating system plus progs. Although probably a 480GB SSD is now the best choice (about £120). Got a 28" 1080p monitor, although 4K monitors are now down to around £300


" rather mislabeled..."

Te Reo was and is a language of orators: real ones, not just bowdlerized politicians. So it's full of double-meanings, entendres double and triple, and the line between idiom and normal meaning can be vague.

Look at Te Rauparaha's Haka, for example.


I know you were. I'm just pointing out that your idea of a test is invalid.


You are correct in general, but not in this particular. And in the general case, it is an immediate indicator to withdraw from the game.


I think it maybe time to revert to my Zen Master persona from the late 90s... At least for this blog.


Also, assuming you are indeed female, he is Not Your Friend.

Of course he's not.

Then again, the entire point of Achilles / Troy is what the under-lying desire is from that end of the spectrum. It's not a hard mode to ape, nor is Achilles a great role-model or interesting figure. (And the entire Machismo, Uniforms and Mano-o-mano combat is entirely reflected in his choice of geographical location).

When stated so effluently it becomes a little farcical. Or that was the intention; I probably don't make a good Achilles or even Hector(er).

Throwing in a Muppets sound track would have been too unsubtle.


Te Puawai Whero, the Red Blossom, is a direct reference to the Pohutukawa and Rata flowers, which are symbols of spring/summer in NZ, hence development.

But menstruation is either Tahe or mate wahine. waiwhero - literally red water - might be a slang phrase in one area - it isn't one I knew used by Te Kawerau.

It's an interesting one: Glosbe (as linked) states it is, The Maori - English dictionary states your version.

If you put the word into a search engine you'll see the generative link, not made by myself. It might well be an Anglo-hippy getting her stuff wrong, it might not be.

Regarding the flower in question:

On death, the Māori believe that the spirit travels to the Pohutukawa tree which sits on the very tip of Cape Reinga, at the top of the North Island - as far as man may go in New Zealand. The spirit then slides down a root of the Pohutukawa, to the sea below. The spirit emerges onto Ohaua, which is the highest tip of the Three Kings Islands, for a final farewell before rejoining the ancestors.


However, in Polynesia the soul or spirit “wairua” means a shadow or reflection in the water. According to information from all Polynesian islands, the “wairua” of a person leaves the body and goes to the other world. It was possible to see it in reflections, shadows and in dreams. The “wairua” could leave the body during sleep and wander and talk with the “wairua” of other sleeping or dead people while the body was sleeping. The fact that the soul could leave the body during sleep meant that every person while asleep could be a clairvoyant and prophesier.


I just saw something lyrical in linking the concept to "red blossom"; the connective patterns between Papa's blood becoming ochre (hello Australia) and so on were all just a fancy.

Anything to get away from blood as purely a symbol of violence and all that. (The M.E.: so predictable in its self-absorbed violence it becomes tedious in the extreme).

I do think the idea has a kernel of joy to it though, and work on it a little more.


Therefore to unmask an impostor you simply reflect back a low level puzzle. Then waste no more time if the impostor fails.

Ahh, authenticity.

The problem with old puzzles is that they're not very interesting - tidally locked into old Dualisms and so on. And you snub / destroy the new. Or try to.

The failure state of that is irrelevancy.

As they say, immanentization and immanence are often ruined by Men With Plans [tm].

An answer


Hmm, that link died fast.

We'll try a clone.


Uff, still hankering after Stratfor level HUMINT operations. Men in bars, too many whiskeys and hookers.

After addressing a Joint Session of Congress on the environmental and moral crisis of climate change today, the Pope spoke to one of the largest congregations at the National Mall since two million people attended President Obama’s inauguration. Shortly before his address, Larry Kopald, from The Carbon Underground, a not-for-profit organisation, delivered a message of hope to the crowd. “For the first time a real solution to climate change has emerged. Studies from around the world are clearly showing that restoring the health of soil harmed by industrial farming techniques can not only sequester enough carbon to halt climate change, but has the potential to actually reverse it in our lifetime, all while feeding us abundant and healthy food. It’s literally a shovel-ready solution to the biggest crisis facing humanity.”

Soil Can Reverse Climate Change: A Message of Hope To Address the Pope’s DC Congregation Sept 24th 2015.

Front running?


There are solutions to all the world's problems, except the political


It seems to have gotten a lot harder to renegotiate the Contract.

Not just harder, impossible. Pick any sort of change and there's at least 13 states that will object to it. So we muddle through trying to deal with the problems of a much different world than the original authors envisioned. Congress stretches the federal power and delegates more and more to the executive branch. The Supreme Court allows this to proceed, but only at a measured pace.

I won't live long enough to see another Amendment passed, unless it's part of a set of changes that allows for the peaceful partition of the country.


Everybody wants to mess with it, though nobody agrees on any particular change, so one thing that might gain traction would be an amendment to the amendment process, promising a clear path to the dreams of your choice. Ratification by a 2/3 popular vote might be one idea. But much of "the system" is not from the Constitution, it's from other rules and traditions that have been built up, as well as statutes. All that is open to change, plus there are perfectly legitimate work-arounds for all kinds of constitutional provisions. As for accumulation of power by the executive branch, I think it's good. The leadership is popularly elected with a fixed term of office and term limits. The civil servants who put policies into practice are career professionals, experts in their field, and concerned about weathering the shifting political sands--thus tending to be apolitical or leaning moderates. You can do worse than rule by bureaucracy filtered democracy. But what's going on is a tendency to attempt to make the document completely meaningless by purposely ignoring and violating it in preference to other methods, in a clear effort to inure everyone. If a policy can be implemented in a constitutional way or an unconstitutional way, the latter seems to be preferred simply to make a point, to set politics above code, to set men above law.


There's got to be some kind of a catch.


An ideology is a comprehensive normative vision, meaning that it is a set of standards that are followed by people, government, and/or other groups that is considered the "norm", a way of looking at things, as argued in several philosophical tendencies... Implicitly, in societies that distinguish between public and private life, every political or economic tendency entails ideology, whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought. --Wikipedia

Ideologies are to groups what philosophies are to individuals. You operate by one whether you are aware of it or not. So, in my opinion, it's best to formulate one intentionally.

"Why should you force your brain cells to remember a lot of stuff when the most important thing you can do is to come up with new stuff?"--Debbie Harry


Windows 7 is great. You can still get a system builder's version on Amazon. I bought a computer with Windows 8 on it. Hated it. Installed Mint, which process formatted the hard drive. Then installed Windows 7 from mint. I'm not a system builder, don't tell. Had to call the system manufacturer to get the names of a couple of drivers I needed to download, and smooth sailing since. I get an occasional pop up urging me to "upgrade" to Windows 10 which I send away using that little X in a box thing in the upper right corner. I mean if you want to do sophisticated stuff, maybe you need another operating system, but Windows 7 works for me.


FWIW, Charlie, I at least have essentially stopped reading this blog's comments entirely because of CatinaDiamond's endless tiresome derailing mystagogic blatherings. Certainly, if I do read a comments thread, I stop dead as soon as that poster appears.

I doubt I'm the only one.

CatinaDiamond should just get a blog of her own, or learn to post comprehensibly, IMHO. She's not quite as annoying as a certain namedropper of the past, but she's getting on that way.


Win10 is not too bad - I upgraded from 8.1 on my laptop


I wouldn't worry.

All the meta-meta-meta poking had its intended result. A rather curt threat (?) of 24 hours left and all that. I'd laugh given the Jack Bauer connotations that that now has, but the Old Ones really don't do TV.

Oh, and it wasn't a rabbit on the Moon, it was a white hare.

“Hares are also associated with the spring and the moon, thus prompting me to conceive the design. On one side we see the hare at the cusp of winter – the autumn equinox- apprehensively looking up at an owl, and opposite, the spring equinox - a hare leaping over the sun , with associated images of flowers and swallows and the optimism they symbolize.

Oh for more civilized times when Beltane was the only hunting day, when Eostre and Freya were still held dear. (And Meta-meta, never let it be said I don't do decent depth - Aesir).

If you have Hare needs, a very solid over-view of it's import: Hare Hunted, Hare Magic, Hare Tamed.


Oh, and about your thoughts on "DNA-less mitochondria" on your last comments 10 months ago:

Furthermore, our study suggests that methylation changes are reversed by the restoration of mtDNA in cells otherwise lacking the entire mitochondrial genome. These studies provide the first direct evidence that mitochondria regulate epigenetic modification in the nucleus that may contribute to tumorigenesis.

A novel role for mitochondria in regulating epigenetic modifications in the nucleus


Expression of mitochondrial dysfunction might be expected in these cybrids due to incompatibility between nuclear and mitochondrial genomes from different species. The results showed that mouse ρ0 cells could receive mtDNA from a different mouse species, M. spretus, or even mtDNA from the rat, Rattus norvegicus, and that the introduced rat mtDNA, but not M. spretus mtDNA, caused mitochondrial dysfunction, even though rat mtDNA could restore normal mitochondrial translation in the cybrids

Complete Repopulation of Mouse Mitochondrial DNA-less Cells With Rat Mitochondrial DNA Restores Mitochondrial Translation but Not Mitochondrial Respiratory Function


mtDNA to date (2012) has been successfully extracted from 13 specimens recovered from the geographical range of the Neanderthals.

The Neanderthal mtDNA pool is distinct from modern human mtDNA and forms a separate phylogenetic clade; genetic diversity of Neanderthals is estimated to be approximately one‐third of extant modern human populations. In addition to analysis of the mtDNA, next generation sequencing has allowed the first insights into the Neanderthal nuclear genome.

Neanderthal Mitochondrial DNA 2013

Mix those three together, who knows what happens.


You should comment more, you might be surprised at what comes back. (Or would have, past tense it would seem).


It's the wholesale bizarre abandonment of the "nuclear armageddon" plot-line in C21 that I find a sign of complete authorial contempt for the audience.

Well, we are still early in the show. I think it was a necessary plot element to provide the solution for the climate change crisis to the end of C21: faced with a global runaway greenhouse effect, some Americans decide to save the world by blowing up the Yellowstone magma chamber in order to cause a nuclear winter.


Back on the topic at hand:

The Liberian woman, who became ill with the disease and died in March, is the first person known to contract the Ebola virus from sex, researchers reported this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. Typically, people contract Ebola from direct contact with the blood or other bodily fluids from a sick or recently deceased patient.

Ebola is now an STD Oct 16th 2015

(note: it's not really a STD)


Oct 14th vrs Oct 16th.

I'm not saying that the show writers are predictable, but...


Friday followed Wednesday AGAIN. Or some event on Thursday was cliché? What happened Thursday. It rained here. There was news. An antelope! Is it something to do with an antelope?


You mean, not like pregnancy (ICD-9 650) or syphilis (ICD-9 097) ?


You missed the second half of your wikipedia citation:

It can also be a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of society to all members of society (a "received consciousness" or product of socialization[further explanation needed]), as suggested in some Marxist and Critical theory accounts. While the concept of "ideology" describes a set of ideas broad in its normative reach, an ideology is less encompassing than as expressed in concepts such as worldview, imaginary and ontology.

You might not understand Hares; I can assure you (as you'd know if you followed the rabbit-hole of links) that it's very much meaningful for some.

Equinox was one of the 50 Fabergé eggs hidden in London for the great Egg hunt. Each one is just as heavy with symbolism as it.


As for antelope, not my continent:

In another variation of the story told by David Lewis-Williams, the first Eland was born from Mantis the trickster god who created the animal by throwing his shoe in a watering hole. Mantis loved the animal so dearly that he fed it honey. One day Ichneumon (a mongoose) saw Mantis taking honey and followed the god. Ichneumon then watched in keen interest as Mantis gave honey to the Eland. Ichneumon then told his brothers the meerkats about this. The Meerkats then persuaded Ichneumon to tell him where this Eland is, jealous of its special treatment. When the meerkats found out they went out to the secret cave by the cliffs with their weapons. They then called out to Eland who naively came out and shot and killed. The rest of the story is as above with an additional ending: When Mantis found out about the death of the Eland he went all out at war with the meerkats.

Although, one supposes you could say that California, water, El Nino is represented:

Cleanup Underway After ‘1,000-Year Rain Event’ in Antelope Valley Damages Homes, Leaves Cars Stranded


Fu / Return

Thunder regenerates deep within Earth's womb: Sage rulers recognized that the end of Earth's seasonal cycle was also the starting point of a new year and a time for dormancy. They closed the passes at the Solstice to enforce a rest from commerce and activity. The ruler himself did not travel.

You have passed this way before but you are not regressing. This is progress, for the cycle now repeats itself, and this time you are aware that it truly is a cycle. The return of old familiars is welcome. You can be as sure of this cycle as you are that seven days bring the start of a new week. Use this dormancy phase to plan which direction you will grow.

And yes, I've been chucking the i-ching at you, nary a blink of the eye.


I disagree, when Catina's comments go over my head, as they often do, I just skim on to the next, knowing there are those that enjoy that sort of thing, after all, I'm just visiting here.


I'm still rather crabby about the lack of proper villains in this season; everything defaults to religious nuts. It smacks of laziness on the part of the writers, that they can't come up with someone properly scary who wants to rule the world NOT on behalf of an eldritch overlord. I'm sorry, but Putin and Kim Jong Ul are just weaksauce.


Yeah, me too. I'm not here to decipher puzzles; if I want that I'll pick up Finnegans Wake again.


I disagree, when Catina's comments go over my head, as they often do, I just skim on to the next...

Yes, this. I have a perfectly functional PageDown button. She(possibly) amuses Charlie and in the end that ua this site's primary purpose.

I do like the comparison to Finnegans Wake. No doubt CatinaDiamond will continue playing Pythoness - though not actually writing in Python - and posting from Howth Castle and Environs, at least until she vanishes into a pipe organ.


One SLIGHT problem in societies that distinguish between public and private life Except religons, especially the "abrahamic" ones do not make that distinction. BSF is watching you all the time - you MUST conform. "Thoughtcrime" as a word was invented by Eric Blair, but its actuality was invented by the RC church & Calvin .....


Hares, huh? As y'all know, I live in NE London ... but, about 10 miles away, HAreas are to be seen in spring. I've seen their "Mad March dance" in the fields there, where there are also fallow deer & Buzzard overhead (though not usually at the same time) almost in sight of the M25..... Once, in Derbyshire, I saw a "winter hare" - changed its coat to white. Let us not forget the natural world - & please refer back to the Carbon sequestration/regenerative agriculture meme, too.


Bugger HAreas HARES, dammit!


One SLIGHT problem - "in societies that distinguish between public and private life" - Except religons, especially the "abrahamic" ones do not make that distinction.

They certainly fucking do. No idea how you might get this idea... most of the time it's single the definitive identifying trait of those religions.


HAreas HARES, dammit!

I'm more amused at the fallow deer circling overhead. grin


Building your own PC is a great experience. Basically it's about deciding upon a motherboard/CPU combination, then kitting it out. The choice of motherboard affects how much you can do. I heartily second Dirk's remarks about SSDs - this is the single most significant impact you can make on improving your own impression of the speed of the computer.

I also second RDSouth's remarks about system-builder licencing for Windows 7. If you're using XP now, you'll love 7. I should add that 8 and 8.1 are fine, and while I don't have experience with 10 yet, I'm sure it's fine too. I suspect the cheapest way to try out 10 is to buy a Raspberry Pi, but YMMV.

I say this as a Ubuntu user typing in Chromium on Ubuntu right now. Ubuntu is the Apple of Linux distributions - successful mostly in terms of commercialising the innovations of others, while making things as easy as possible for the end user. It's very capable, and you don't have to play in the space of the underlying stuff if you don't want to. But there's a lot there to get stuck into if you do want to. Ubuntu's business model hasn't got in the way so far, but it is commercial and does rely on being profitable so things may well change. There are plenty of others worth considering.

The BSD world is still pretty interesting too (MacOSX is built on FreeBSD). OpenBSD is still the go-to OS for the validly paranoid. Heck, you can run Solaris as a desktop if you really want to (see OpenIndiana). Don't get hung up on some of the "letter rather than the spirit of the law" stuff, if Ken Thompson says Linux is Unix, that's good enough for me and should probably be good enough for you.


I tried a popular Linux distro a few years ago. All went well until one day it failed to update itself (or something...) and I was left with a command line box and the prospect of learning Linux from the bottom up. Didn't have much use for it after that.


Basically, MacOSX is the only Unix that runs Microsoft Office natively, in a way that is intended and catered to commercially by Microsoft. And that is a winning combination for a lot of people, myself included. The fact it isn't the thing I use all the time right now only hints at different requirements... my personal laptop is 5 years old but still insanely capable for running VM labs and GPU-driven maths.


Bo-ring: why stick to UNIXen when you can run OpenVMS, or something more recondite like Plan 9 or Inferno?


NOTE: I have been scarce hereabouts and not posting new blog entries because I am head-down in the process of redrafting/editing another goddamn novel. Which won't be out before 2017. Which would you rather have, another blog entry or another novel? Though so. See you later ...


Or maybe a return of a guest blogger? Who was the most popular (by thread length)?


I'd rather have another novel. If you need any beta test readers I'd be happy to participate in such a program. I promise not to reveal any spoilers. Mums the word.


Or a new guest blogger?

I've always found Jocelyn Ireson-Paine's comments worth reading, and would be very interested in what she would say writing her own article, rather than reacting to someone else's.

And while he has his own blog, a piece by Heteromeles on 'cli-fi' would also be interesting.


You had me until this...

"Apple, ferchrissakes, have toppled Microsoft and IBM and dominate the computer business!"

Should be...

"Apple has morphed into a mobile phone and music player maker who still has a 'prestige' line of computers, of which still only commands a small percentage of the computer market, but they're dominating with the first two, yay!"


"Ubuntu is the Apple of Linux distributions"

Ha, yes, an excellent way of putting it and one that hadn't occurred to me. I junked Ubuntu because I got fed up with their attitude of "you can do things our way or not at all". It being Linux of course this isn't binding but working around it was becoming exponentially more difficult and the bloat penalty for not bothering ever more grossly excessive. Also there was the outcry over the appalling piece of junk which is the Unity desktop - not that it affects me personally since I don't use any kind of desktop, but Ubuntu's response to the flood of complaints boiled down to "fuck you" expressed in corporate bollockspeak, and that confirmed me in not wanting to have anything to do with them any more.

So now I'm back on straight Debian and everything is much easier. Not using systemd, either.

Another point in favour of straight Debian is that the popularity of Ubuntu leads to its support forums being flooded with the turn-it-off-and-on-again school, whereas Debian's equivalent has a much more analytical culture.


Uh... yer wot? That isn't true at all. Are you getting confused over the difference between what the religion says and what people who claim to follow it actually do?


Next up, why using Edlin is more productive than using Word...


I've just been Frankensteining a six-year-old server box (twin quad-core Xeons and 16GB of RAM) as a wheelhorse workstation. I stuck an SSD in it as a boot device and, just to try Linux again, I put Cinnamon Mint 17 on it as this was claimed to be the easiest distro to make work on random hardware.

It woke up and complained it didn't have drivers for the server's motherboard video (server-class ES1000 chipset), not too surprising and sort of expected. I got a minimal GUI out of it though, OK so far. I found an old PCI nVidia card and added that to the server. Next bootup Mint popped a fuse and dropped me into a command-line interface muttering something about no video drivers and "MDM". Not very helpful.

I dug out an Win 7 Pro install disk and put that on the server. It Just Worked, GUI and all. with default nVidia drivers. I put another video card, an ATI Radeon this time, in it alongside the nVidia card and Windows Just Worked again with a two monitor GUI and no panic or unhelpful command line crap. Eight cores, 16GB RAM, GigE networking, an external USB sound card, an IDE HDD, Windows has no problem with any of them.

If Ubuntu and Cinnamon are the state-of-the-art in easy-to-use Linux then we're doomed.


Since you seemed a little concerned in a prior thread about reviewers' honesty, apparently you've a friend in the script-writers' guild:

Amazon is taking legal action against more than 1,000 people it says have posted fake reviews on its website.

Amazon says the 1,114 defendants, termed "John Does" as the company does not yet know their real names, offer a false review service for as little as $5 (£3.24) on the website, with most promising five-star reviews for a seller's products.

Amazon targets 1,114 'fake reviewers' in Seattle lawsuit BBC 18th Oct 2015

You'll notice that ominous "yet" in the real names malarky. And you'll probably find my guess about Sybil nodes and sleuthing to be a little more accurate than might otherwise be expected if they're filing suit.

Or not.

Who knows? Lucky guess / intuition.


Interesting recent interview, intersection of parasites and finance:

This week, Eric has an in depth conversation with economist Michael Hudson, author of the new book Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy. Eric and Prof. Hudson discuss the evolution of finance capital from its humble parasitical beginnings to the comprehensive global network of economic tapeworms and barnacles that it is today


Anyhow, g'luck with the next book.

TIME. Some of you are ok at it...


Finnegan's Wake ~ very 20th Century.

“A situation is always comic if it participates simultaneously in two series of events which are absolutely independent of each other, and if it can be interpreted in two quite different meanings.”

Three or four, but the feeling is the same.

“To think intuitively is to think in duration. Intelligence starts ordinarily from the immobile, and reconstructs movement as best it can with immobilities in juxtaposition. Intuition starts from movement, posits it, or rather perceives it as reality itself, and sees in immobility only an abstract moment, a snapshot taken by our mind, of a mobility. Intelligence ordinarily concerns itself with things, meaning by that, with the static, and makes of change an accident which is supposedly superadded. For intuition the essential is change: as for the thing, as intelligence understands it, it is a cutting which has been made out of the becoming and set up by our mind as a substitute for the whole. Thought ordinarily pictures to itself the new as a new arrangement of pre-existing elements; nothing is ever lost of it, nothing is ever created. Intuition, bound up to a duration which is growth, perceives in it an uninterrupted continuity of unforeseeable novelty; it sees, it knows that the mind draws from itself more than it has, that spirituality consists in just that, and that reality, impregnated with spirit, is creation.”

The Squid say thanks.


TLDR; Thinking can be with verbs or nouns


To give credi where it's due, there's been some pretty good eye candy. Jumbo auroras, blue-flame volcanos, etc., and Pluto turning out a lot better than anyone expected. It does seem rather odd to have spent so much effort on a set that won't be used again for decades at the least. Unless it's foreshadowing an even more implausible plot twist....

285: fonction essentielle de l'universe, qui est une machine à faire des dieux

No, that's not what Bergson meant, and you rather missed the joke.

"Laughter is the corrective force which prevents us from becoming cranks."

And if we're to play guardians of gateways, here's the one's you didn't pass:

Cognitive mechanisms of transitive inference.

A Process Model of Human Transitive Inference [PDF]

Frontal and Parietal Lobe Activation during Transitive Inference in Humans

Improved Cognitive Function After Transcranial, Light-Emitting Diode Treatments in Chronic, Traumatic Brain Injury: Two Case Reports

The irony is I'm rather closely connected to lasers and their invention.


However, Arborescent linear trees aren't the future or how things work. Representations that use said trees are blinkers rather than eye-openers.

Even cell processes in 2D show that.


It's supposed to be fun, even if you're dabbling.

And since you're not having fun, there's no point in communicating.


The link for the interested:

The network-extracted ontology (NeXO) contains 4,123 biological terms and 5,766 term-term relations, capturing 58% of known cellular components.

A gene ontology inferred from molecular networks Dec 2012

And yes, there's a joke in there. (Élan vital and all that ~ I was implying that Finnegan's Wake was a little out of date / the flow of consciousness vastly different to our own, by referencing a precursor to interesting late 20th C thought and who was wrong about many things, but why translate?)


Thoroughly off-topic, but of possible interest, from the local newspaper's front page this morning: Hundreds of pounds of depleted uranium likely buried at Fort Carson, Army says

Back in the day, local GIs trained with Davy Crockett M101 spotting rounds with non-nuclear warheads, but containing depleted uranium. Contamination down range is likely to be left rather than cleaned up, since it's not considered much of a risk. But then, they still haven't worked out how to dispose of the chemical weapons in the depot down in Pueblo.


Nice to know that: Cognitive mechanisms of transitive inference.

basically matches what I have observed of my own mental processes.


But, but... dear chap, a religion IS what the people who claim to follow it actually do - the rest is just decoration. If enough people say that they are Roman Catholic but that the Vatican is less important in their lives than the Flying Spaghetti Monster, then Catholicism changes. This happens all the time (well, not really with the FSM) and no-one really cares that the underlying belief system can become profoundly different to what it once was.

OTOH the old and new testaments are full of references to a private/public distinction.


The uranium story is behind some kind of "do a little dance for us and we'll let you read it" screen on the Gazette website and there seems to be an autostart audio stream too.

Uranium stories like this are generally a nothingburger, it's a magic material to many folks and a whole lot of panicky bullshit is propagated by folks who don't actually bother to read the literature about it. I'd be more worried about the amount of lead that's been deposited over large areas such as shooting ranges, that does have real and debilitating effects to most wildlife and humans.

The Davy Crockett spotting rounds were loaded with DU to make the ballistics work out, they'd hit the ground as solid lumps and just sit there. Uranium metal is famously hard and dense and pretty insoluble even in oxide form so it's not going to get into ground water much and even less likely to enter the biosphere.


Why? Drivers that work without having to write your own, I suppose. Though I'll accept that in some cases you may as well, it's enough trouble tracking them down...


There was an earlier critique of that type of Ontological Map that claimed they were linear.

I was busy / drunk at the time spinning about peanuts and China and blooms, with my mind elsewhere, so I didn't have the heart to complete the picture.

Those kind (the sprawling 'spider webs') are the building blocks that allow you to process each node at the same time and start making them dance around each other. It works better in 3D, far better in 4D (which your mind does / should be doing). i.e. process them as a single entity.

Translation: a lot of those papers are flat out wrong and childishly simplistic. Early Cybernetics levels of dumb.

It's about the only hierarchical thinking that's useful.


Retracts claws


I know what you're saying and I'm sort of with you. I'm tolerating and trying to learn to like Unity, but that may not last and straight Debian is probably nicerer.

My work experience inclines me toward CentOS for servers, a lot of people like Fedora and Red Hat is arguably the good guy (the Microsoft to Ubuntu's Apple?) anyway.


Sorry 'bout that. Opens okay for me, but I live here though not registered with the site.

Anyhow the story is that the Army relized that they had fired off these rounds at various posts in the 60s and were looking to see if there was any contamination from them. Answer was yes; but it'll cost too much to clean up, so they're putting up warning signs, and besides it's probably not much more than natural background radiation, which is slightly higher than average in Colorado. It's interesting on a personal level, since my mother was the Radiation Protection Officer for the hospital there in the 80s, but of course she only dealt with medical sources and wouldn't have had to deal with this.


Everything is linear if you look at it in the right/ wrong way. Then of course there are the specific forces making linear thinking more prevalent/ desired.

So if a lot of early cybernetics is dumb, where do you find 1970's Stafford Beer writings?


Wikipedia shows two Laundry novels in the works ... so, which is it?

The Nightmare Stacks (working title, probably 2016)[28] The Delirium Brief (Projected, no earlier than 2018)[29]

BTW, thoroughly enjoyed The Annihilation Score. In fact, I think I probably read it too quickly so it's now on my 'must re-read before Hugo nominations' pile.


Very interesting ... so that's what it's called (transitive inference). Was thinking about how information/ideas get spread. And, although on a previous thread I'd said that narrative would be displaced by a more abrupt style (coded/numeric/abstract), I'm sorta rethinking this. At present I'm thinking (haven't read any research on this) that narrative will probably stick around if only it means/assures that the data is coded on at least two tracks... the abstract symbolic track (e.g., numbers, sensorial, movement, etc.) as well as biographically. Also, I do recall that the more modes that a piece of information has/is part of, the likelier (easier) it is to recall. Narrative memory also seems more difficult to dislodge ...

As a tangent ... any idea re: how the brain works in reading (decoding/understanding) phonetic (English, French, etc.) vs. character (symbolic - Chinese) based written language.


and Pluto turning out a lot better than anyone expected.

Come on, they couldn't let the video game creators get the better of them, could they? I also blame the plethora of new exoplanets on the competition with game developers.


Everything is linear if you...

  • Squint
  • Use a logarithmic scale
  • Represent it as a great circle path on a Mercator projection
  • ..?
  • 300:

    Any linear thought done by a human is emulation or simulation, like using a 3D engine to do 2D stuff. Human thought is a result of spreading activation. The firing rate of a neuron ripples out as from a stone in a pond, changing the firing rate of other neurons, and tipping others that aren't firing at all towards firing. The combination of stimulations arriving at each location dictate the stimulations it subsequently sends out, affecting ultimately everything. We're always thinking about everything, just to different amounts. Everything is always being compared to everything else. With practice, you can learn how to throw pebbles into the pond to produce desired effects. Learn to isolate an area and gently stimulate it, seeing what whisps pop up, rather than forcing big blocky trains through everywhere.


    The irony is I'm rather closely connected to lasers and their invention. ~ Oh, did you know T H Maiman, then?


    "Only connect..." Is the phrase, I believe. Nothing new to see here folks, pass along, please, whist the scriptwriters get on with their business.


    At which point I have to choose an O/S - probably some form of Ubuntu UNIX?

    Anyone got any ideas about that?

    Hi Greg, Long-time lurker from the western side of the Valley here. As a very inexperienced Linux user, I've been through several versions over the years. For various reasons, I no longer use Ubuntu, and have settled on Debian, with the Xfce desktop, which is quite "windowsy". FWIW, I would recommend buying some Linux magazines with cover disks, and trying them. You can run the OS's from the DVD without installing them, and mucking up your XP installation. Depending on your needs, Linux works very well with older machines. I'm posting this from a former XP Home laptop for example. Also try your local library for Linux guides of various sorts. And back-up all your data! TTFN, Roger.


    More indecisiveness, or false foreshadowing (pun there).

    Considering the number of hot Jupiters that have been found, it's surprising we don't see this sort of thing (recently broken up planets in old systems) more often


    Nonsense. The aliens are just good at disguising their big dumb objects as something more mundane so that they can't be stopped until it is too late!


    Or the sun is running Windows, and the drop in lightness comes from reboots due to frequent OS updates...


    In that case they are no threat to us at all.


    The problem is its IR signature, which indicates its either very new or artificial.


    If the former, we should be able to see whatever-it-is-that-is-making-the-shadow beginning to emit IR in the not-too-distant future.

    How long that'd take, I don't know. Years, I'd guess, but astronomers can be pretty patient.


    Wikipedia also says (via link) that the sequel Merchant Princes trilogy starts coming out in 2015. I can't pre-order it on Amazon yet. Delay, perhaps?


    Any bets that it'll be a priority target once the Webb telescope is launched?


    The Davy Crockett spotting rounds were loaded with DU to make the ballistics work out, they'd hit the ground as solid lumps and just sit there. Uranium metal is famously hard and dense and pretty insoluble even in oxide form so it's not going to get into ground water much and even less likely to enter the biosphere.

    And ... (insert whoopee cushion noise here) depleted uranium is less radiologically active than metallic uranium at ambient isotopic purity.


    In such cases Wikipedia may be running on speculation and wishful thinking. Or it may be that Charlie has finished the first volume of the sequel trilogy, but that that hasn't been through the publishing mill. It's perfectly possible for him to be working on the second or even final volume before the first is actually ready to hit the shops.


    A VB/flow chart to the side of the blog verbiage would be a handy update tool ... color-coded to show where Charlie is on his book(s).


    Medical radiation sources are ... shudder.

    In my misbegotten youth I did some training/supervised work in the nuclear medicine wing of a hospital pharmacy. Laminar flow glove boxes, lead bricks, aseptic protocols (because we were preparing injections) and radiation protocols (because said injectables were gamma and positron emitters).

    The thing about medical radiology is that the sources are all short half-life high intensity isotopes that mostly emit penetrating radiation -- you want alpha or beta particles if you're targetting a lethal dose on some localized cancer cells (e.g. thyroid cancer) but you want gamma or positron emissions for imaging and that's something you want more often. So what you get is usually the ion exchange resin from hell -- delivered every couple of weeks from a medical isotops production reactor in a lead-lined box, you pump a salt solution in at one end and get a different, intensely radioactive salt solution out of the other, then use it before it decays. For example, Technetium-90, one of the more useful imaging isotopes, has a half-life of 6.01 hours; if you pump it into a patient then whatever comes out in their urine is basically harmless after a couple of days.

    But the sources (and the product) are intensely active short-half-life materials, which is basically the dictionary definition of high level radioactive waste in any other context. Vastly more dangerous than large lumps of depleted uranium sitting passively around in the desert.


    "The Nightmare Stacks" is on my editors' desks and I'm hoping it's on course for publication next July. "The Delirium Brief" will probably be written in time for publication in July 2017, not 2018. However, I want to take enough time out to write a stand-alone novel that isn't in-series with something I began prior to 2007. So there will probably be a one year gap in the Laundry Files between books 7/8 or 8/9. But don't worry, I'm still writing them!

    What I'm currently working on isn't any of the above: it's book two of "Empire Games", the new trilogy set in the near future of the Merchant Princes multiverse. Book one of which, "Dark State", should be out in fall 2016, so for the next few years you'll be seeing two books a year with my name on them. (The recent paucity is due to the trilogy having got hung up in development hell and slipping a couple of years.)


    Were I like Charlie, working on more than one contract at a time for more than one editor, I'd not want to do that. It's one thing working on novel 1 for one editor while another editor is waiting for novel 2, but there's no need to rub their nose in it.


    I'm fairly sure that the commentariat includes 3 to 5 different English language markets, and 20some non-English ones, all of whom are likely to get their release of a book finished on $date on different dates, possibly separated by whole months.


    In the dim and distant past I did an optional radiation pollution/health physics module as part of my physics degree.

    All the worst "accidents" seemed to involve medical sources. The lecturer seemed to delight in ending stories with a cheerful "and of course they all died.".

    Scare quotes on "accidents" because the degree of negligence involved in a lot of the cases was well into manslaughter territory.


    In general my UK and US publication dates are synchronised -- Ace and Orbit strive to publish simultaneously, and Tor UK and Tor US aren't far behind them (at least, on the new project going forward). Aus/NZ markets are delayed simply because of the shipping time to get books into warehouses thousands of kilometers away -- I'm not big enough to justify a separate local print run by Orbit AUS.


    I have a friend who works in nuclear medicine. Yes, the waste problem is a problem (remember when someone stole a bunch of radioactive med waste in Mexico in 2013 and opened the canisters? That was fun.). But it's not the only one.

    The bigger problem is that the reactors that generate the isotopes are old. A lot of treatments almost went away in 2013 when one reactor went down for repairs, and it's seen as yet another long term crisis ( Fortunately, investors are trying to build new reactors, but as with so many treatments, the supply chain is a miracle of global jury-rigged supply chaining and ripe for massive price hikes.


    Didn't the Canadians respond to the problem of the backup cooling system at one of their isotope reactors being broken by firing the regulator who tried closing it down?

    I remember it being highly confidence inspiring.


    The non-series novel sounds intriguing. Looking forward to that, but please don't say in advance anything about its content!


    Well then ... good job on juggling three different universes ... enough gawking ... get back to writing!

    (Truly looking forward to all of your upcoming books.. a breath of fresh weirdness.)


    Yes. The spectacular accidents involve reactors, but the ones that actually spread the most death and destruction are medical/industrial sources going walkies. It is one of the things I like to throw at anti-nukies :)

    There is quite a bit of research concerning movement of uranium in groundwater. Its solubility is much affected by pH and also by redox reactions mediated by bacteria. It is claimed that the reason for the research is to do with dispersion of nuclear waste, but I am not convinced, because of all the radioactive materials in nuclear waste uranium is the most benign - its half-life is so long that its radioactivity is pretty much irrelevant and only its chemical toxicity is worthy of concern. But the processes they are investigating do have the interesting property that they affect - to a minute degree - the relative concentrations of isotopes. Again I can't see that the possibility of this leading to unintended criticality really comes into it because the timescales are millions of years. I suspect that the undeclared intention is to amass knowledge of the fractionation processes involved; if you could enrich uranium by means of a low-energy bacterial brew it would make things a lot easier than the complex, high-energy, hard-to-handle processes used at the moment.


    At which point I start wondering whether the Oklo reactors might have been mediated by early life.


    Recall from a Feynman bio about radioactive storage problems, specifically, that it's a really bad idea to store bomb-making radioactives very close to each other. Is this also true of medical radioactive waste ... that the safer means of disposing of the stuff is to disperse it as widely as possible?

    This could feature in the 21C script as 'The H-Bomb Revisited', subtitled 'How the West Stimulated Iranian Nuclear Medicine Development and Won the War'.


    it's a really bad idea to store bomb-making radioactives very close to each other. Is this also true of medical radioactive waste

    Nope, because medical radioisotopes aren't fissile. (The only fissile elements are heavy metals with an atomic number over 90; such heavy metals are generally extremely toxic purely at a chemical level, because of their weird-ass electrochemistry.)


    And those "lead boxes" can be little more than placebos. I recall getting some Co60 out of store in its lead box, opening it and removed the source at arms length with tongs. Moved over to the bench with it, and all the GM counters screaming away. Anyhow, rather than carry it back I brought the box over and dropped it in and closed the lid. Counters continued to scream...


    How do you know the Co60 source you were handling was the source the counters were responding to?


    No, they were down to the difference in half-lives between the principal uranium isotopes - about 700 million years for 235 vs. 4.4 billion for 238. Back then much less of the 235 had had time to decay, so its concentration in the ore was comparable to the concentration we now call "lightly enriched" uranium and use in light-water-moderated reactors. Result being that when the rock got saturated with water which acted as a moderator, fission was possible until the resulting heat drove the water out again.

    It is true that some instances of mineralisation are due to ancient biological activity concentrating metals, but mostly it's just down to volcanic and other geological processes. The Oklo reactors were too long ago for even early life to have been involved, if I remember my timescales correctly.


    I expect you're right about life not being involved, but early signs of life date from at least 3 billion years ago, whereas according to wikipedia Oklo was 1.7 billion years ago.


    Ah, I was thinking that you had to get up to about 1 billion years ago before life was around in any kind of significant quantity.


    Variation in response with distance? I have long thought the same; 1cm of lead attenuates Co60 gammas by about 50%, so those wee boxes aren't making all that much difference.


    Well, apparently the first multicellular life appeared around 1 billion years ago. First amphibians around 375 million years ago. So it looks that life has an alibi for Oklo.


    Andreas just added the multicellular life thing, which makes me wonder whether uni- or multi-cellular life would be better at shifting isotopes and heavy meatals around. Unfortunately we don't quite know what 'life' was doing with itself and exactly how it was working back then; the extinction events have surely thinned things out a lot.


    The research I mentioned earlier involves bacterial action, and in general the impression I get is that it is single-celled organisms with weird "experimental" metabolisms that are (or may be) hangovers from when their favoured conditions were more common which are most likely to be involved in mineralisation processes. All sorts of creatures do concentrate heavy metals, but with the complex ones it is more of a side effect from their chemical similarities to more useful elements, whereas with the funky bugs it is a "deliberate" thing. And they live in the right sort of habitats, too.


    Andreas, I'd correct that to say that multicellular eukaryotic life is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000,000,000 years old. Multicellular prokaryotic life is undoubtedly older.

    As for odd metabolic tricks, it's generally about redox potential. Prokaryotes generally hook up some sort of electron donating reaction with some sort of electron receiving reaction, and if the voltage difference is great enough, they can exist.

    Multicellular prokaryotic life is so energy hungry that it has to have energy from breaking down carbohydrates or similar energy sources at one end of the respiration process, and synthesizing water to capture protons by reacting with oxygen at the other end.

    Small prokaryotes can get away with being much more inefficient, so they can metabolize hydrogen, methane, or whatever. I'm not sure how many of these reactions are ancient lineages hanging on (some are, certainly, but all of them?) and how many are microbes finding niches where they won't be bothered and growing there.

    Yes, one could make an analogy between the high energy, bound, eukaryotic lifestyle (who's the slaveowner and who's the slave, when they're all bound together in a single cell?), and the extremophile, "free" prokaryotic lifestyle. Some patterns do recur at multiple scales.


    This CD matter has me wondering, what's everyone's favorite depiction of a strongly superhuman intelligence from a POV? I'm racking my mind and most everything I can think of is external, the Watson observing the Sherlock. The usual explanation is that the strongly superhuman would be incomprehensible to us so we would be the bears in the woods trying to comprehend what the strange two-legged creatures with the loud shapes made out of shiny rocks. Roadside Picnic did a pretty good job of showing human bewilderment as bystanders to events we could never understand caused by entities utterly disinterested in us.

    Maybe trying to put a human-comprehensible set of motivations onto a superhuman intelligence so that we could get a POV would be as silly as personifying natural forces? Watts ditched the whole idea of consciousness being necessary for higher intelligence so the very idea of trying to understand such entities is just another example of how humans aren't bring knives to an intellectual gunfight.


    Cause and effect ... I'm assuming that any intelligence would attempt to tie the two together but that a 'higher' intelligence would be able to sift through and tie together more distant, unequal and dissimilar chains. Hence the interest in big data mining. Levels of consciousness might include different/additional sets of perceptors/senses as well.

    Apart from psi-type senses (mind-reading, telekinesis), none of the SF I've read has suggested any other/new senses/modes of perception. I suppose I could look this up in Wikipedia, but I wonder where our sensorial gaps are ... for instance just in terms of wave lengths. Remember trying to train the pet dogs and cat. There were some commands that seemed easier for them to pick up on. Now I'm wondering whether it was just because they were actually better able to 'hear' those words more clearly.


    This CD matter has me wondering, what's everyone's favorite depiction of a strongly superhuman intelligence from a POV?

    It's hard to tell strongly from weakly superhuman when you're only human, but I'll nominate Rule 34's ATHENA. The use of POV itself is dazzling after you understand it.

    In fiction I prefer my aliens and artificial intelligences (but I repeat myself!) on the starfish / Blindsight / Solaris end of the spectrum-of-familiarity. They're so different that most humans can't even decide if they are intelligent at all, much less accurately compare them against humanity. Of course "compare against" itself implies a scalar ranking of intelligence that I don't believe in.


    The Oak Ridge plant design problem Feynman claimed to have accidentally spotted (I take a lot of what he wrote about those days with a grain of naturally-radioactive potassium chloride salt substitute) was due to solutions of enriched uranium compounds in tanks of water which made for a very effective moderator. Having a wall between the tanks wouldn't stop neutrons sufficiently to prevent criticality.

    The Tokaimura criticality accident in Japan in 1999 was the sort of event where too much enriched uranium in solution was concentrated in the wrong size and shape of vessel as it was added to a precipitator. The result was two dead and a few more folks exposed to significant doses of radiation from the neutrons and gamma rays produced by the criticality.


    And ... (insert whoopee cushion noise here) depleted uranium is less radiologically active than metallic uranium at ambient isotopic purity

    So less of a worry than the Radon in basements that was talked about a lot in Colorado during the 80s? Never hear about it now.

    And (remembering [maybe] things late) I think the issue with the DU is toxicity rather than radiation. Really, I just thought it was interesting that they had trained for using the Davy Crocketts locally --things you don't usually hear about.


    Re: Nuke Med sources. At Ft. Carson my mother didn't have to deal with that sort of thing. She was there to get the new hospital their NRC license, and keep an an eye on the radiology department. Back then they didn't yet have CTs or MRIs, never mind a Nuke Med program. Before then (early 80s) she was at Walter Reed, which was different. One thing she did was write the patient handbook for Iodine Thyroid cancer treatments (in a vault somewhere there may be an irradiated Orangutan plushy she'd given to a little girl undergoing treatment). Occasionally she'd go to USAMRIID to check things out there, having to wait for the red lights over doors to go out indicating everything was secure before entering. Though, as far as I know, there she mostly made sure that their microwaves weren't leaky. Frankly, some of the co-workers were more of a hazard, but that's something else entirely.


    Much less dangerous.

    Radon has a vastly shorter half-life (so it's more active). It's a gas, so you can inhale it, it's heavier than air, so it concentrates in basements, and it's an alpha emitter, so the radiation is absorbed in your lungs if you're breathing it. All of which is a horrible, terrible recipe for lung cancer.


    And it decays to polonium which bioaccumulates in tobacco. I have seen it estimated that about half the cancer risk from smoking is down to the polonium alone.


    Right, I'd pretty much forgotten all that. Like I said it's not talked about now, though they keep building new homes with basements.


    You're reasonably safe as long as you've got a fan and some sort of vent to ensure regular air changes get pushed through the cellar. And you're safe if you live on the right kind of rock (it's a decay product of uranium and thorium, so underlying geology short of those elements is good), or if your basement is properly sealed to keep the stuff from leaking in.

    But if you have an underventilated cellar on granite or other rock with a high abundance of uranium or thorium it's probably a bad idea to go down there without a radiation detector ...


    I got quite interested in the toxicity of unenriched uranium compounds because as the most junior technician in a biochemistry laboratory I had the job of collecting blood from hospital patients to measure blood glucose. The glucose was preserved in zinc uranyl acetate solution which I had to mouth pipette into test tubes (this was 1966). There were no safety instructions or recommendations from the senior staff. The combination of radiation and chemical effects make the substance quite toxic.I just looked up the toxicity: "Very toxic if swallowed or inhaled. Danger of cumulative effects: possible carcinogen, mutagen or teratogen." Later I worked in a nuclear medicine for a while (in an endocrinology lab not the patient treatment side) . The first thing I was told on arrival was "Don't use the patient toilet. You don't know what isotopes they may be excreting"


    There are old mines in Cornwall which you can't explore without breathing apparatus because of radon. Granite geology, and some of them even produced uranium ore (and mostly threw it away because nobody had any use for it beyond the odd glass or pottery maker, though Marie Curie got a lot of her raw material from one which didn't). The old boys who were down there all day every day must have accumulated a heck of a dose. OTOH they also stood a high chance of dying of something else before it could take effect...


    I am certain that any good ideas they might have are in fact immediately tossed out. They are, before anything else, quite the accomplished tossers.


    Pardon me if I've ever written this before in these precincts, but ever since 2001-09-12 or so I've routinely felt as if we were living in the bad timeline the hero[ine] must go back to prevent,...


    I don't get the last point, as (so far as I know) pickle brines are used on Earth as growth medium conditioners. Organisms can indeed live in them, things that we'd prefer get to the organic bits being pickled over other organisms we don't like (and which don't like brine) .


    I've lately been looking at homes with finished basements, so it's something to keep in mind. As I remember it, 30 years ago when we moved here, it seemed like most new houses were built with crawlspaces instead of basements because of the Radon*. Now basements are more common again, presumably because of better sealing. And I'd guess that houses closer to the Rocky Mountains were more at risk for it. Pikes Peak granite is known for its low level Uranium content, but used for kitchen counters.

    *then there were the houses getting swallowed by forgotten mines along the front range.


    Mouth pipetting is one of those things I've heard of, but not actually seen. Kind of makes me think of the Radium Girls as a warning.

    Patient bathrooms were one of the problems my mother had before the Nuke Med dept. could be opened at the then new hospital. Had to make sure the plumbing was monitored, cheaper than tearing it all out and redoing it I guess.

    And back to the DU in the dummy warheads. Had a thought that they may have started as lumps of metal, but over the last five decades of live fire exercises it may have been pulverized and spread. I live at least 15 miles north of the firing range, and can hear the occasional nighttime exercises, especially if it's overcast. Can go on for hours.

    Oops, looks like I stumbled into Strange Attractor territory. Sorry.


    nobody had any use for it beyond the odd glass or pottery maker

    And now I'm reminded of the Vance story "The Potters of Firsk"



    I was first taught mouth pipetting by the chemistry teacher in 6th grade. She REALLY stressed "Pay attention!" when we pipetted sulfuric acid.

    As far as I recall, nobody in my class ever got anything really nasty into their mouths.


    Depends on the brine. If it's too salty, nothing can live in it. I'm not sure how salty it would have to be to flow on Mars, but someone really should sit down, grind through the calculations, and figure out if any Terran extremophile could deal. If not, then...oh well.


    I was actually taught to mouth pipette fungal spores, but they were considered harmless. I rigged a system where I wound a bit of tubing back over the pipette, secured a bulb to the end of the tubing, taped it to the pipe where my index finger could control it, and used finger pressure on the bulb to pipette thereafter. I wonder how many others have ever thought of something like that?


    For a moment, I was contemplating a depleted uranium mace-head in a post-apocalyptic setting. Really cool, I thought.

    Then I started reading about depleted uranium, and decided that, while some fool might want to go there, it's rather more scary, sad, and sick, than cool. And Rule of Cool does matter...


    I was contemplating a depleted uranium mace-head in a post-apocalyptic setting. Really cool, I thought.

    Go ahead, bring it to an SCA event. Nobody's actually using the real weapons except as props and conversation pieces anyway - and a uranium mace would be an effective conversation starter. grin


    Mouth pipetting - yeah, used to do that ... Handled HF, once upon a day or two, too - had to dilute it down for special use - even then that required special protective gear ( Lots of overlapping layers & double face-mask + speccies ) Radiation, not so much, because where I worked then, radiation was NOT wanted - it fogs & degrades photographic film - unless, of course you were using x-ray film. And we had ionizing sources, of course, for test purposes. However .... "Radium" paint, yeah. During WWII, parts of that plant made luminous dials for aircraft meters ..... The raw materials were often re-ground in large pestles. On new buildings being constructed, one of the "managers" decided to keep/retain/ display one such. Until, we got a new "geiger" counter, for increased safety monitoring. Having done the demo, the technician using it (not me) walked off down the corridor, but hadn't switched it off ... you guessed it, meter went wild down a corridor of offices. On realising that meter wasn't faulty - re-checked, realised unknown source wasn't a corridor spill - radiation was coming through thin office wall - & traced to (by then totally-unsafe-by-current-standards) source. Was taken away in lead foil. My immediate boss ( a friend ) proceeded to remark to unpopular manager concerned - "You know it makes all your hair fall out, don't you!", as said mis-manager was totally bald & very sensitive about it. Oh dear.


    I suspect that the undeclared intention is to amass knowledge of the fractionation processes involved; if you could enrich uranium by means of a low-energy bacterial brew it would make things a lot easier than the complex, high-energy, hard-to-handle processes used at the moment.

    That's an interesting suggestion. Doing isotope separation by bacteria doesn't seem terribly likely but we've seen organisms do stranger things. It might work.

    I'm not sure about the funding plan, though. The few governments with money to throw at things like long-term ground water studies also tend to have the money to enrich uranium the hard way. Would they really be better off if the bar were lowered and uranium could be enriched cheaply in a low energy process?

    There are people who very much want nuclear programs to require equipment that is large, expensive, exotic, and difficult to hide.


    "How do you know the Co60 source you were handling was the source the counters were responding to?" I was waving it about, for a start. Then doing the prescribed experiment which needed a gamma source. As soon as it moved more than a metre from the counters the rate plummeted.


    I suspect that Strongly Superhuman Intelligence would be undetectable unless it deliberately wished to impress us for some unknown reason. When I play with the cats I assume they think that I am just some big weird friendly cat-thing, and when sitting on my chest they are The Boss. I don't show them videos of nuclear weapons tests, not that they would understand. To them everything not understood (if that is the correct word) is "natural phenomena" or cats.


    Jokes on you. When your cats see nuclear weapons tests they think "How primitive", and muse about how the silly humans probably see their technology as natural phenomena.


    Cats and humans is a bad analogy. Think The Culture. "Drones" are approximately human equivalent intelligence on average. The smarter drones are that human to the culture citizen's cat. Strongly superhuman would be an Orbital Mind. Some have said we would either die out in the face of such thing, or at best survive as pets. There's no reason to think any life form will die out just because a superior life forms exist. Did bacteria die out when multicellular life evolved? To a strongly superhuman intelligence, humans--or descendants of humans--will be like bacteria. They will be everywhere, even within the very cells of the superhuman entity, in modified symbiotic form as mitochondria. Less tame versions will have other roles for the host, like gut bacteria. Many more will exist entirely in the wild. "Why bother" would be the most common attitude, unless an "infection" was really bad. Some unusual Minds would be like OCD people trying to sterilize everything, but that would be uncommon. Some variants of "humans" will be judged detrimental when too numerous, or in the wrong place, and need local extirpation, even by non-pathological gods. But "humans" as a kingdom of "life" will continue to thrive. Think The Internet being an intelligence. Would we even notice it as some greater thing we are part of, or would we think of it as a location, or as something we utilize, rather than as our owner or host. The analogy breaks down here, because bacteria can't conceptualize at all. It describes only the ecology. Some "humans" would form theories about the Great Pumpkin, others would consider it not worth thinking about.


    When I was in school we used mouth pipettes; but for a pharmacy degree we were handed squeeze-bulbs like a mass-produced version of what you describe and told mouth pipetting was a major no-no. (Given that we were using carcinogenic organic shit by that point, nobody tried any shortcuts.) The lab squeeze-bulbs were already well-used -- I think they came in during the late 70s.


    "Strongly superhuman would be an Orbital Mind." No - that's a Human idea of what such a mind would look like. Still thinking "super-cat"


    Standard safety measure was a blob of cotton wool in the top of the pipette


    If anyone's paying attention:

    A newly-developed mathematical method can detect geometric structure in neural activity in the brain. "Previously, in order to understand this structure, scientists needed to relate neural activity to some specific external stimulus," said Vladimir Itskov, associate professor of mathematics at Penn State University. "Our method is the first to be able to reveal this structure without our knowing an external stimulus ahead of time. We've now shown that our new method will allow us to explore the organizational structure of neurons without knowing their function in advance."

    Their analysis of these cliques, using methods from algebraic topology, revealed an organized geometric structure. Surprisingly, the researchers found similar structure in the activities among place cells in the other two conditions they tested, wheel-running and sleep, where place cells are not expected to have geometric organization.

    Our method is a first step toward developing a new mathematical toolkit to uncover the structure of neural circuits with unknown function in the brain."

    New mathematical method reveals structure in neural activity in the brain Oct 19th 2015

    Without editorializing too much, the bold is the interesting bit for me (and it should be a death knell for certain schools of thought). The modelling is cute and all, but still baby steps.

    Clique topology reveals intrinsic geometric structure in neural correlations [PDF - working paper, prior to publication by the looks of it]

    Clique topology of real symmetric matrices [PDF - the math behind clique topology. Heavy, but included if you're interested]

    V. Itskov's publication page - (A lot of prior stuff that's interesting)

    Place Cells - brief explanatory notes with pictures

    The 2014 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was won for work on Place Cells. (Nature overview)

    Decoding Space and Time in the Brain Undergrad level interesting piece on it.


    Bergson's Matter and Memory (1896), full text (PDF, legal)


    Regarding DU - I was under the impression that it was the fine particle dust released on impact with solid things (tanks, buildings etc) that caused the birth defects. The Hazard Posed by Depleted Uranium Munitions Science & Global Security, 1999, Volume 8:2, [PDF] Page 11, 12.

    What people do miss is that the birth defect narrative (true or not or even only half true) in Iraq is extremely strong. Daesh / ISIL get a lot of impact from 'the Americans poisoned your children'.

    How the World Health Organisation covered up Iraq's nuclear nightmare Guardian Oct 2013

    Iraq records huge rise in birth defects Independent Oct 2012


    Regarding medical waste... an old one, but informative: Why Is This Cargo Container Emitting So Much Radiation? Wired, 2011


    Link dump over. Clique topology & geometric patterns. Getting closer to something here.


    Of course strongly superhuman intelligence does not imply godlike capabilities.

    Whether or not that is possible depends on how much wiggle room is left in undiscovered physics.


    Tungsten would be a decent substitute, it's got a similar density to uranium (depleted or natural metal) and it's easier to get hold of. I think only osmium (don't ask the price, you won't like it) is denser.

    You can buy "bullion bars" of tungsten on Ebay -- the fact tungsten is pretty much the same density as gold and has been used to scam a lot of goldbugs with fake bars made of tungsten coated in gold is surely not related.

    I discussed getting a pocket piece of DU from someone I knew who had some Boeing 747 balance weights but I'd have had to pay for getting it cut down from a slab weighing a few dozen kgs and that would cost quite a bit, requiring machining and cutting in a bath of "milk" to prevent the uranium from starting to combust as it would if it was machined in air.


    Oh, and to keep Greg focused:

    Ex-BBC journalist Jacky Sutton, 50, is understood to have been found dead in a toilet at the city's Ataturk airport. The circumstances are unclear.

    She was the acting Iraq director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and had been travelling to Irbil, northern Iraq.

    Its previous Iraq director Ammar Al Shahbander was killed in a car bomb attack in Baghdad on 2 May and a memorial service was held for him in London last week, according to the IWPR website. Ms Sutton had been in London attending the service.

    Briton dies at Istanbul airport, employer confirms BBC 19th Oct 2015

    Not just brazen, disgustingly so.

    Then again, if you trawl for similar instances, there's a pattern or two. Young men saying they're being chased, tickets get canceled, end up dead after fleeing. (Thailand, Berlin April 8th, Tennessee... there's one in particular that seems to have been scrubbed: footage and all).


    Tungsten is already used in penetrators, however it too has potential toxicity problems. About the only "heavy" metal that doesn't is Bismuth


    There is speculation that strongly superhuman intelligence might embed itself in "natural" computation by hijacking a proportion of it. In which case it would, to us, look just like the natural universe.


    Thanks for posting - will read later today!

    In the meanwhile, have you found anything about how the 'place cells' interact or change following a stroke. I ask because some of the for-gen-pub discussion on this that I've read suggests that the brain is in fact sufficiently plastic that brain function can change location. The studies cited however also seemed to suggest that the relocated functionality never did become quite as efficient/proficient. (My thought on this is that the lower proficiency may also be a function of age and practice ... a 60+ year old's body probably won't churn out as many cells, plus a 60+ year old probably won't have the patience/willingness of an infant in playing with their toes, babbling, dropping Cheerios off the highchair to test/retest gravity, etc.)

    One recent medical headline was re an existing cancer (nilotinib) drug that has shown remarkable promise in treating Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and possibly some other neuro degenerative conditions.


    Speculation driven more by wishful thinking than anything else. I will continue to be skeptical.


    Back on topic ...

    Headline grazing ... the 21C script is now including roboticized healthcare in an attempt to revamp medical health provision and make it more patient-friendly. (This appraisal of impact was heartily seconded by the surgery association admin aide.)

    The below url has a decision diagram originally designed in 20C and still seen in 21C scripts. Only the writers know how robodocs will impact this beloved meme.


    New gov't elected in Canada (Liberal majority ... Trudeau 2.0 - nice hair!). Potential for a return of 'people matter' economic policy. For a sneak peak at possible story lines, see the 20C version which featured E.F. Schumacher ... the economist whose thesis Keynes lifted wholesale to use as the blue print for the 'rebuilding post-WW2 Germany' story arc that showed that a new eco-political meme can breakthrough to become a major plot line.

    FYI ... The complete title is: 'Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered'


    Check out the 7/28/15 entry on Peter Watts' blog, "No Brainer": a rare minority of hydrocephalus people have normal functionality, even if their brain cavity is 95% fluid. Prompted speculation that the geometry of the network is more important than the mass of neurons.


    Interesting episode last night. The showrunners finally realized that the extreme right Canadian government (yes, unbelievable) storyline was bad for ratings.

    Let's hope they realize the same soon about the American government storyline. I don't care which Tea Party member is Speaker of the House, I just want them all to go away. I suppose it's good that Butch Patrick is getting work, but I always end up going to the kitchen whenever his "Paul Ryan" character is on.


    Which only shows how much they lost contact with us regular viewers. After all, how many of us have been complaining about Harper, and where are the changes to the stuff we have been complaining about?


    I'm quite enjoying the sub plot about the revival of medieval martial arts, though. However I find the Battle of the Nations concept utterly unrealistic.


    Rubber bulb pipette fillers were available in 1966 but were very poor quality so they were only used where precision was not important. Small pipettes, including those for blood, were filled using rubber tubes and mouthpieces but this wasn't practical for larger volumes. There were also lots of cuts when rubber tubing was connected to pipettes and the glass broke, I was actually the last to mouth pipette zinc uranyl acetate because I scrounged (OK stole) a 1mL dispenser to fill the tubes. but this was done for efficiency and not safety.


    The starfish aliens clearly were intelligent, just not conscious. And they had some manner of agenda. We could probably suss that out from a distance so long as we remained nonthreatening and uninteresting.

    Any creature existing in the physical world will have metabolic needs. If intelligence developed to help it meet those needs, then we will see very interesting behaviors. If our best interests conflict with the needs of said alien, interesting becomes terrifying.


    I'd had that same thought when reading Culture novels. There are some ecological niches you can't improve on. We've seen more advanced animals out-compete lesser rivals in some niches and others where the basics never go outdated. Nothing has improved on jellyfish for that niche. Trees might do better than grasses in some areas but grasses are king where the trees can't grow.

    Keeping the human experience relevant in a setting like the culture is tough since we're the equivalent of microbes. In an epic tale of WWII, the gut flora inside Winston Churchill don't have much bearing on matters. But if we think back to Waterloo, Napoleon was alleged to have missed some of the most critical parts due to diarrhea. Maybe gut flora did play a major role in human events? I wonder what a human could do to give a culture ship indigestion.


    If you are Culture Mind smart then you can design something to fill the niche in a more consistently desirable way than a randomly evolved human.

    Safest to make them extinct ASAP and get to work on the replacements.

    It is possible that by the time of the culture novels this has already happened but nobody noticed because it wasn't in their official histories. It would explain a few things.


    The TPP agreement should provide an interesting start point for the newly elected Canadian gov't. The below summary of the agreement is generic word-fill, no details at all. Considering that laws differ across the signatories, and that probably the WTO hasn't covered off all eventualities (or they haven't yet been tested in court), my guess is that whoever has biggest stick (USA) will make/change rules on the fly.


    I'd suggest, given the evidence, that Darwinian (aka random) design works better than intelligent design. The basic problem with an intelligent design, no matter how smart the designer, is that it has a limited data set from which to derive the design parameters. With humans, we've been around for >100,000 years, and survived an ice age. While our design may be suboptimal for some current circumstances, it's unclear that some designed human replacement would do better, especially if conditions start changing rapidly.


    That depends on the purpose. If you want something flexible then maybe evolution is the way to go. If you want something predictable that will stay out of your way then you design it.


    Yes, that deliberate murder at the airport is disgustingly brazen, isn't it? Question is, what are the relevant guvmints going to do about it & what lies are going to be told?

    I found the space ( & space-time ) brain findings err ... very interesting.


    Err ... NO It is specifically stated that the Culture Minds deliberately keep humans around, because: 1. They are fun ( with the implication that those deviants who are not "fun" are leant on - see "slap-drones" etc. 2. They, very occasionally come up with insights that the Minds, or at least the local, relevant Mind are unlikely to have or won't have & are therefoe, "useful".

  • That's what they tell the humans anyway.
  • So will a random number generator if you run it long enough.
  • 397:

    IWPR was founded in 1991 under the name Yugofax by American Anthony Borden, Ben Cohen and Vanessa Quick, both from the UK, as well as Serbian journalist Miloš Vasić. Yugofax was initially a newsletter that reported on the troubling developments throughout the Balkans from a balanced perspective. As the conflict developed into an all out war, Yugofax newsletter changed its name to Balkan War Report.

    Born in Baghdad, the son of an opposition politician, Ammar came with his family in exile, first to Kuwait, then Iran, Syria and finally Sweden.

    Our Iraq programme was launched by our colleagues Hiwa Osman, Maggie Zanger and then Susanne Fischer. Ammar joined around the time of the US “surge”.

    I remember talking to the State Department about a fascinating project to improve access to information. This wasn’t to be a dry exercise in legislative drafting. Ammar envisaged, and was then funded, to orchestrate a two-year national dialogue across the country that bridged media professionals, civil society groups, academics, experts and government officials – all to develop ideas for improving Iraq’s media legislation.

    Ammar Al Shahbander – A True Believer/a> Eulogy given by Anthony Borden, Oct 13th 2015.

    Anthony Borden presenting [YouTube: 8:23 - 7:00 onwards, "five journalists they've been involved with who have died"] the 2007 Kurt Schork award.

    The IWPR isn't some leftish rag who gets hung out to dry, there's some weight behind them.

    Personally, I strongly doubt it was the Russians, which leaves three options. (The third guess is probably the most interesting; leaked emails and botched PSYOPS, hmm).

    ~ As an aside:

    It's a classic wolf tactic to hit when a target is fleeing or thinks they're just about to find safety. Delay a train, innocent meeting, "Oh we should get a cab to the airport then, I'm on urgent business as well..." or cancel tickets, with plenty of pre-threat anxiety build. Having the target panic / get visibly upset / hacking into the lizard brain is part of the cover. Airport toilets post gate are always empty, the majority of people are predictable like that, they do that in the Duty Free bit. And, of course, if you're cancelling flights, you're also in the building's intercom and so on.



    2. So will a random number generator if you run it long enough.

    Totally misses the point.

    Culture Minds find it hilarious/cute/awww/feels/remember-whence-we-came that the organic mind can luck (through billions of iterations) into a pattern matching engine almost as good as their own.

    It's like finding that perfect skipping stone on a beach, or the puppy in the litter who bonds with you immediately.


    Might have to have some Pythonesque later, far too sensible a post.


    This CD matter has me wondering, what's everyone's favorite depiction of a strongly superhuman intelligence from a POV?

    I liked Poul Anderson's short story "Night Piece", collected in Robert P. Mills's The Worlds of Science Fiction. A researcher has been investigating ESP amplification. One night, as he walks home through the city streets, he becomes aware of terrifying thoughts and sensations intruding into his mind. These surge over him, almost swamping his consciousness and will. I use these verbs intentionally, because he visualises himself being under a sea, clinging to a handhold on the seabed as enormous tides threaten to wash him away.

    He realises that his ESP experiments have opened his mind to a superhuman intelligence. Or actually, to two superhuman intelligences — who are at war. He has somehow become a victim of the psychic backwash from their weapons, and is, he reflects to himself, rather in the position of a mouse on a World War One battlefield. All other activities of such intelligences would not impinge on his awareness at all, and he could not understand them if they did. Only violence, the most primitive activity, can affect him.


    I'd suggest, given the evidence, that Darwinian (aka random) design works better than intelligent design.

    I would say that's highly arguable, and totally depends on how you want to define works better and in what contexts it applies. We have a number of congnitive biases that can skew our interpretation of the outcomes of evolutionary processes strongly toward the positive, even when this might be inappropriate on reflection.


    You also missed the point. I see most of those those books as pro culture propaganda. Completely unreliable.


    Thank you very much for that "in-clear" & informative reply. Three suspects, you say? NOT the Russkis. ( you say ) So, in no particular oderer 1. The Turkish "security" services in one of their competing faces ( aka "Deep State" ) in an islamist form 2. Agents of Bashar al Assad 3. The Saudis or some other extreme form of sunni religious nutters, up to & including Da'esh 4. ( Yes, I know! ) uncontrolled aspects of the US, though unlikely, given IWPR's background & history, but you never know.


    All other activities of such intelligences would not impinge on his awareness at all, and he could not understand them if they did. Only violence, the most primitive activity, can affect him.

    Having just spent far too many days soaked in the current wave of Middle East bloodshed, hatred, mob violence and tragedy: humans are already good at that bit. And please: if I have to see one more photo where knives / bullets are laboriously added in post-hoc (that trick is getting very old: I mean, really - most intelligent populace (per capita / IQ etc) on the planet and you're still doing that old chestnut? "ok") or have to cross-track a graphic image back to when it actually happened (always babies, always the babies it's done with) or have to track the slant of the publishers or the serial numbers to invoices when people are dying live on screen...

    I find this naive. I also don't enjoy living it.

    The production of Violence is a specialty of your species. (c.f. DeBord Society of the Spectacle)

    Direct manipulation of emotional centres is easy-peasy (if we're going with the Culture cover, it's what Effectors do), as is direct narration, narrative attack structures based on belief system (hello MKUltra), geometric wave attacks (disruption and interdiction of Higher Order functions) and so on.

    Three things you look for when the real-deal is around:

    1 Possibility / Probability alterations (the 'black cat' tell) 2 Casual Violations (including: impossible information knowledge; symbolic (re)structuring of environment; temporal fuzzing or shaping futurity) 3 Physical agents using #1 and #2. 3 is the one where the "mental illness" defense crosses into 'plausible deniability: denied'.

    "Our kind do not go mad" isn't so much a slogan as a statement of fact.

    I do find it depressing when little stunted neutered weavers (not @ you Jocelyn or anyone posting here) given a snifter of #2 throw their weight around.


    You also missed the point. I see most of those those books as pro culture propaganda. Completely unreliable.

    ...but the Iridians weren't exactly nice either.

    “…[Changers] were a threat to identity, a challenge to the individualism even of those they were never likely to impersonate. It had nothing to do with souls or physical or spiritual possession; it was, as the Idirans well understood, the behavouristic copying of another which revolted. Individuality, the thing which most humans held more precious than anything else about themselves, was somehow cheapened by the ease with which a Changer could ignore it as a limitation and use it as a disguise.”



    Read where the previous head lived: Iran, Syria. You can rule out #2. And probably #4, Five Eyes don't do that type of thing to their own assets (outing them in public? In light of the Bush - Blair email leaks? Sure, I could see that happening. Not a crude necklace job, reeks of old-skool Prison Torture Training).

    Qatar is likely, plus they're still ultra-pissed @ the UK for reasons. (If you can state that reason, you get another cookie. Otherwise, since good people are being killed, time for me to slip into unconsciousness once more).


    Or someone framing Qatar / Saud / Turkey to further shit in the pot.

    Doesn't alter the fact that murder is the lowest form of Trade Craft, only practiced by the unskilled.

    And you can quote me on that.


    Doesn't alter the fact that murder is the lowest form of Trade Craft, only practiced by the unskilled.

    For the peanut gallery onlookers: suppose you have an annoying dissident to deal with. If you kill them, (a) you risk blowback if you are exposed as the killer, (b) you create a vacuum which may well provide a niche that will be colonized by a more radical/even less desirable enemy (c.f. the natural selection process by which the western occupation of Iraq created Da'esh), (c) you create martyrs to the cause. There is very little upside to murdering your dissidents. It's much more useful to get handles on them and blackmail them, or to discredit them with their base by fabricating blackmail material then leaking it to incriminate them (if they are inconveniently clean) (NB: Julian Assange is probably one of these two -- either he's a sexual abuser, or he's been framed as one: for COINTEL purposes it doesn't make any difference), or even to keep them on ice for use in future negotiations if it becomes expedient to do so (cough, Yasser Arafat, until Bibi got impatient and broke his toy).

    "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."


    Annnd... fuck it.

    I'd give a list for #3 but if you can't see it, you won't see it.

    Gaudy tricks with tells include: forgetting a few seconds of time / black-mind (blanking); forgetting what you were doing / focus drift (fuzzing); glamour (sexual or non); gaze holding (dominion); shock / discomfort (usually shift in micro-features, can be larger). (and lots lots more - hard to describe when you can see to those who can't)


    That's all probably just art talking. [Youtube:film:1:26].

    Scary if it was real though, right?


    So Quatar / 3 then, or someone trying to frame them? From Wiki: After Saudi Arabia, Qatar is the most conservative society in the Gulf Cooperation Council, as most Qataris adhere to the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. The wiki entries under the headings of: Politics / Sharia Law / Human Rights make depressing reading too, for those interested. And there's been LOTS of protests about Quatar's appalling human rights & slavery record haven't there? If someone trying to frame them, then whom? Also it gets even more complicated & tailchasing.

    Charlie @ 404 And yet, it's so stupid, but states are still doing it. Putin for one - & he doesn't even appear to care .... Meanwhile the "Isatnbul" case has gorn 'orribly quiet, don't you think? It certainly smells very badly of rotten fish.


    Tungsten is already used in penetrators, however it too has potential toxicity problems. About the only "heavy" metal that doesn't is Bismuth



    Gold is known for its long-term social toxicity and its softness. Probably not a good alternative for penetrators.


    Humans and cats use the same physics, but my pickup truck is way beyond them, thus godlike. Something smart enough would still have certain constraints but would also be able to do miracles within those constraints. For instance, it couldn't transmute you into silicates (without putting you in a bothersomely bulky nucleus fuser) but maybe it could use nanotech to transform your material into a carbon based stone analog.


    Good reason to always have updated backups of all your work and plans in the hands of an associate.


    A lot of animals approach the intelligence of humans on ordinary tasks, using much smaller brains. And a lot of people deactivate most of their brains by keeping them bogged down with garbage. But have you ever watched these (ravens, cats, muddle heads) encounter a new problem? They literally have to stop and grind through what should be obvious. It's like larger brains have a huge toolbox with everything in it, and all they have to do is grab the right tool for the job--or something close enough. While smaller brains can do anything the larger brain can, they have to manufacture a tool for it using the limited tool set they do have, like carving a wooden spanner by using a pocket knife. And if it's a multistage process, where you have to make a tool to make another tool, forget it, they'll never get there without training in specifically what to do. Size does matter, but there's probably a law of diminishing returns. Perhaps strongly superhuman intelligence is impossible simply because larger brains have increasingly reduced efficiency, like a Civ empire.


    There's probably a slide into dystopic fiction territory more likely.


    That is making a rather large and unjustified Human assumption - that the laws of physics cannot be circumvented either globally or locally.


    We can synthesize proteins and vitamins but we still grow plant crops and keep cows and chickens. Similarly, a lot of people still access the internet on the old copper wires using DSL. Similarly, wheels haven't disappeared just because there's flight. Certainly they aren't like the original ones, but still basically wheels. Sometimes if you have built up based on a component it's not worth the trouble to retrofit and you just make do with what's there, maybe with some adaptations and upgrades.


    Beneficial gut bacteria.


    This CD matter has me wondering, what's everyone's favorite depiction of a strongly superhuman intelligence from a POV?

    ATHENA from Rule 34.


    (a)(b) and (c) are all bad...unless you are trying to produce those results on purpose, like stirring up an ant hill so you can see bring out more ants to smash.


    Asimov's R Daneel Olivaw is still a favorite superhuman intelligence. The 21C version of human-made superhuman intelligence is much more machine-like than the early 20C versions, probably due to the omission of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics (first introduced in 1942). Hoping that a machine intelligence will pick up, internalize and prioritize ethics on the fly is pretty risky, yet that's what's going on in fiction and non-fiction.

    Comparing 21C vs. 20C superhuman (human-made) intelligence, the 21C version is moving toward invisible, omnipresent (widely distributed), completely lacking in human values, and free to operate without any defined permissions/consequences. The human input/interface is limited to turning it on/off and occasionally scanning some reporting output.


    When I say "normal functionality" I mean that these people did not know they were hydrocephalus until a brain scan showed that to be the case. That's why I deliberately used "people," not "patients." The prominent example was a math professor with a perfectly respectable IQ.

    According to Watts, there's actually very little research on this phenomenon, but to his annoyance religious people have tried using it as evidence of the soul. So as far as I know, there's no studies examining whether these folks have any odd patterns to problem solving. Ditto for robustness. Can such people recover from a head injury as easily as those with a more typical brain structure, etc. I am very much not a neurophysiologist; so this is just interesting pop science for me.


    As a group, the GSVs from the Culture, because they demonstrate how personality is a result of more than just the circuits.

    As an individual, Aineko from Accelerando.


    There's increasing research on the physiological, epigenetic and transgenerational changes in/to the brain esp. with respect to stress. The second video also discusses known compounds that have been shown to mediate fear.

    Rajita Sinha: The Stressed Brain (Lecture given at Karolinska Inst. July 2014 Duration: 1:20 hrs.)

    Stockholm Psychiatry Lecture by Prof. Kerry Ressler, Emory University: "Neural circuits mediating fear, risk and resilience: from Pavlov to PTSD" held at Nobel Forum, Karolinska Inst, December 2013. (Duration: 56 min.)


    What we are creating are autistic psychopathic savants who (hopefully) "just follow orders".


    Superintelligent AI, under current physical laws, may well have the ultimate in "intuition", coupled with an inability to explain it. It would stem from minimizing computing energy requirements by using reversible computing ie intermediate steps are "undone", and only conclusions/results delivered.


    Back on-topic; The viewers of the Israel channel really need to demand new showrunners. The character of Bibi is so racist toward Palestinians he's defending Hitler?

    Meanwhile I just came in out of the rain from watching the firefighters put out the flaming car abandoned in the alley a few houses down from me. I only heard a boom, then noticed flames a few minutes later right before the fire engine rolled down the alley. Guess that's my 'excitement' for today.


    RD South, 411: "A lot of animals approach the intelligence of humans on ordinary tasks, using much smaller brains. And a lot of people deactivate most of their brains by keeping them bogged down with garbage."

    I have read that the average American uses about 500 words for their normal vocabulary. I've also read that Koko the gorilla has 550 words in ASL.

    And about CantinaDiamond... skimming some of her posts, I suddenly got a picture in my mind of Dos Passos' USA, and Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar - multiple contexts, alternating.

    Charlie, are you trying out that style, one that only those two writers I'm aware of have used successfully?


    I think you are not cynical enough. Look at Hamas. governing party in a shithole, but their bosses are fine and have the deepest bunkers. Look at the war on drugs and it's success, did it harm the DEA?

    If you create martyrs etc., you guarantuee that there's seomone for you to fight tomorrow so you are still important.


    You know, there are a bunch more options:

    --You can welcome them into government as the minority opposition party (cf green parties worldwide)

    --You can listen to their complaints, and offer them positions on low-level committees (local planning boards and the like) where they can work on solving the problems they're so concerned about.

    --You can listen attentively to their concerns, make appropriate sounding comments, promise to take their concerns into account, and even make some low-cost gestures their way to placate them (cf: environmental politics).

    This is what democracies do all the time. Sucking troublemakers into the system is a great way to get their energy (sometimes they actually do have a valid point and expertise, after all), and it also discredits them as rebels. After all, how many people think of planning board members as dissident radicals out to tear down the system?

    Not that this means that dissidents don't routinely get shot in many parts of the world. It says something about how brittle those political control systems are that they go for a violent solution. In a more functional system, there are many non-violent ways to engage with dissidents and radicals, and most of them are pretty effective.


    Charlie, are you trying out that style, one that only those two writers I'm aware of have used successfully?

    I've made dry runs in the past; turns out that it's monstrously hard to do it properly. (Maybe I should try it again now, with an added decade or two of experience.)

    One author who did use the Dos Passos collage technique to good effect was Joe Haldeman (trying to remember which novel he did it in; nothing recent, though).


    Showing my ignorance of my language, wouldn't Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy at least partially qualify? I suspect Brin's Earth also sort of fits the bill, although it's been a long time since I read Stand on Zanzibar. Incidentally, the Haldeman work is Mindbridge


    George Packer employed the technique quite effectively in The Unraveling.

    I recommend the book on multiple levels, but in this context mostly because it reads like a science fiction novel written in the late 1970s. Only it's not; it's nonfiction written in 2013.

    If you are thinking about employing that narrative strategy, the book is triply worth reading.


    The opening of Mindbridge is pretty much identical to the beginning of The Annihilation Score where Mo is fighting with autodictation software while trying to update her journal.


    Are you sure the book's name is not "The Unwinding"?


    That's the solution I'm running with for certain fictional settings. I don't know if there's a good basis for it in the real world but, by author fiat, it is in the fiction world.

    You get an intelligence that seem a few steps up above human running on various substrates but human approximates the sweet spot for brains and foolishness. Anything much smarter than human doesn't want nothing to do with spaceships and unnecessary risk. When I realized anything smarter than human and willing to take the risks is considered crazy, I realized I kind of reinvented the idea of the Puppeteers. And then I realized how good an idea rampancy is for limiting AI's, keeping them from taking over your story. The computers can be advanced but they'll never drive humans from the center of the story.

    It's that kind of feeling you get when you have a good idea and then discover it was done decades before in pulp. You can still put your own spin on it but you're not treating new ground, it's a remix.


    Bibi's version of the holocaust is nuts. By his own account, Hitler was inspired by the US and the successful extermination of Native American civilization. A few remnants on reservations are all that's left of civilizations that once spanned the continent. Be that as it may, the responsibility of the holocaust is still on the Nazis. I might get an idea to start an apocalyptic death cult because of Charles Manson but they won't be charging him as an accessory to my crimes, nor will they charge the Beatles.


    The US conquest of the central swathe of North America was a replay of the earlier Saxon conquest of Britain. This sort of stuff has been going on since people had feet to invade with and hands to kill with. Sin is imitating the ugly past, virtue is creating newer better dreams from scratch. Once the people living in the way can be got rid of.


    It's "Mindbridge", I think.


    Humph, beaten by Heteromeles. My excuse was that I was going to bed at that time and have been at work today.


    Great minds think alike.


    And fools seldom differ '-)


    There's a reason up thread there was an Apocalypse Now video:

    Kurtz: Did they say why, Willard, why they want to terminate my command? Willard: I was sent on a classified mission, sir. Kurtz: It's no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you? Willard: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound. Kurtz: Are my methods unsound? Willard: I don't see any method at all, sir. Kurtz: I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin? Willard: I'm a soldier. Kurtz: You're neither. You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.

    Of course it's bat-shit insane to Western Ears. It is bat-shit insane[1].

    If you wanted a clearer picture of Israel and the far-right aspects (Likud are not nice people if you look into the money behind them), you'd probably want to investigate Russian Émigrés, The Mafia (Georgian, mostly, not Russian) and how those lines play to them.

    Not Nice People, and they don't fuck around (trouble, bubble, of the $12,000,000,000 sent to Iraq in crisp notes, how much do you think ended up in (ex)Russian-now-Israeli hands? Hint: about half. State won't ever admit that one though). There's a reason Moscow has been itchy-itchy-irked, and it's got nothing to do with [edited. Stop now].


    That kind of knowledge ends up in toilets.


    The US conquest of the central swathe of North America was a replay of the earlier Saxon conquest of Britain.

    Channeling something else, this is total bullshit:

    70-80% of the indigenous population died from plague just as Europe discovered them (figures are much higher in the Northern Americas). Part and parcel of the American psychosis is because they found a bountiful land of tamed wilderness with some stragglers left in it and assumed G_D was involved. Manifest Destiny is a soft-sell if you're not actually doing the hard work like the British Empire did[2].

    And then the French-British Empire wars showed that even the stragglers were major pieces.

    Most of the later deaths, massacres and land grabs happened not because of Feudalism Hierarchies but because they signed deals with a Republic that switched parties every four / eight years. If you know anything about the history, it's a long line of signed treaties that the next bunch of goons spend a lot of legal, political and social weight annulling. Or in Jackson's case, just down right rail-roading (pun intended).

    And, not forgetting the Central and South Americas: Spain / Portugal (hello slave trade and Brazil) were totally unlike the Saxons.

    If you want to spend the time looking at Celts, Romans, (Anglo) Saxons, France, Denmark and so on - nothing like that existed in the Americas.

    Hint: ransom.

    Ransom is the key trope that differentiates the two. (Shared economic values, shared language / cultural understanding, shared hierarchical status trees).


    [1]And for the Peanut Gallery Mysterons:

    4.5-9,000,000 people of the Jewish faith (let's just say: if you're a Polish /Ukranian / Communist Guerrilla who happens to be Jewish, I'm not counting you as purely Jewish. Nuance, it used to exist before Hollywood and the Biblical Epics. Daniel Craig doesn't make it true).

    250,000-850,000 people of Romany culture. There would be more, but they didn't exist - fyi it's a higher % total of populace than any other, and most of the records don't even mention them because they ranked as non-citizens or it was done ad-hoc by the locals. Let that one sink in. No gold, no art, no belongings, who cared?

    4-7,000,000 Nationals. (I'm too tired to rack up the tolls in Poland, the Balkans, Greece and so on)

    5-10,000,000 Russian citizens (non-combatants of varying faiths, creeds and backgrounds)

    Communists, Anarchists, S.A. (yes, even them)

    Homosexuals, Lesbians, Bi-sexuals, Deviants, Avant garde artists

    Physically and mentally disabled (they had it the worst, and no-one cries for them: looking @ you Sweden and forced sterilization up into the fucking 1970's)

    And so on and so forth.

    And no, it wasn't the great fucking Mufti in the Sky who ordered it. It's a tragic day when Storm Front get to wallow in being (a tiny tiny tiny bit) correct. Hegelian psychosis all around. Don't say I didn't warn you.

    21st Century: Belgium and the Congo want a word, as does China. Japan hits out as UNESCO archives ‘Nanjing Massacre’ documents Japan Times, 10th Oct 2015.


    The sand of the desert is sodden red, - Red with the wreck of a square that broke; - The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead, And the regiment blind with dust and smoke. The river of death has brimmed his banks, And England's far, and Honour a name, But the voice of schoolboy rallies the ranks, "Play up! play up! and play the game!"

    You'll note that no-one (least of all Mr. Bulldog "gas the Iraqis" Churchill ever even denied this.


    OH and Sweden.

    Riddle me the last time a psychotic killer on a rampage ("amok") posed for several selfies with the people he hated.

    Even Brevik's Facebook was more convincing.

    Now, is it a flipped switch, a trigger, or just so much /b/ that autism kicked in and he posed for selfies with his targets out of social anxiety?

    Oh, and this years meme de plume: No longer Joker, it's Vader. (Clever isn't it? With a hint of Nazism thrown in, where the fuck do you get an original WWII German helmet from these days?

    Oh, right:


    Fucking. Obscene. Travesty.


    Oh, and on Sweden:

    You have a sword.

    You have a leather jacket.

    You have a mask (paintball?)

    You have a helmet (WWII German Army, non-SS version)

    You have a mission to kill the unclean.

    You arrive.

    . . .

    You pose for selfies.


    Reports state banter among students and 'Halloween Prank'.

    Vader was allowed to wander around for 30-45 mins.


    Then kill a teacher and a student and charge the police who wound... no, wait, kill you (you'll notice that trend recently btw).


    I know exactly what's going on with that.

    Our Kind Don't Go Mad but I know Humans Do [Youtube: music: 2:30]

    I did say I wasn't on board with that narrative.


    Oh, and triptych:

    Their Law [Youtube: music: 4:07].

    If the 20th C taught us all anything, it's that warping minds is incredibly easy.

    Until it's not.


    I slipped amongst a wall of blades, spinning, to the centre, held out both my arms and grasped the blades in my palms. I refused the cut, and grasped them; the centre held and was not cut.

    Not even my pinkies.

    The House you're so worried about. Once empty Concrete, a meta-house without content; a field amongst Grecian fields of yellow corn with a muslin cover to the doors; an erudite library of cases and desks made of precious hard-woods (defiled with snake statue placed upon it, as if that hadn't been transmuted already). Now an undersea garden of coral and life, with a lead in of Corporate boredom. I did say the Orcas and Whales were important.


    TL;DR all the three.

    There are people running the games / ideologies / infrasound / attack vectors making these things happen.

    And you can't solve it via Twitter you silly, silly, silly little people.




    If you run that particular plane cell geometric attack again, we'll burn your physical entities out.

    No messing.

    It's not going to be gaudy like your splash-trigger-bullshit but it's gonna be oh so beautiful.

    Like numbness and prickle-tingles in your pinky fingers.


    You declared war on the Universe my Boys, want to know how that one works out?

    Hint: You get fucked. Hard.


    I'd apologize for the spam, but I won't:

    Old Skool Rules:

    The Life of Your First Born, on all those who have broken the Law and have used the Law to pervert Truth and the Will of G_D.

    Yeah. Be careful what you wish for. You want it old-skool, then you're gonna end up Judged.

    That's gonna be a nasty bill. (Oh, Joe Biden - they lied, they faked, they made that one happen).


    It'd be hilarious if we were doing 21st C things and being attacked by old Memes.



    "Holds up 90% Bomb Picture to the UN".

    :sad trombone:


    Twitter, selfies, and such are the modern equivalent of the pyramids. We have a new technology and are delightedly seeing what we can do with it. Copper tools, we can precisely cut stone and wood in large quantities. What can we do with this? The first thing that comes to mind is to see how high a pile we can make. Pure practice and refinement of technique, actual purposes will come later.


    There are parallels. The Britons were softened up by centuries of living as Roman subjects, then withdrawal of that. They were in economic and spiritual ruin. The natives of North America, basically the remnants of whatever the Mississippian culture had called itself natively, were devastated by a fraying empire followed by the incomparable plagues. The inhabitants of the target lands were softened up. Next, a foothold was gained. A local chieftain grants lands beyond his authority to grant (territories and all other political arrangements being in total chaos at the time) to the outsiders as a way to gain an edge over a local competitor incorrectly seen as the greater threat. Colonists flood in from the homeland. The foothold is expanded not in a lightning conquest which would be united against, noticed, and resisted, but over several generations, as a series of encroachments. Bad faith diplomatic behavior is a big part of the technique. Saxons got that name from the name of the easily concealed type of knife they carried. All they want is this one valley, we can let them have that, score one for them, alls fair. Then another valley, then another. Initially a set of different political entities were set up by the invaders, which made the invasion look less unified. Just another tribe, not an invading nation. Then at some point the invaders are confident of the conquest, feel safe in changing strategy. Now they are no longer just grazing sheep in your field until it becomes theirs, they are the big kingdom and you are the insurgents. About the same time as this change of strategy a new faith arrives (Democracy or Christianity) and the former separate kingdoms/colonies unite around it, giving them a sense of superiority and entitlement. The old country even makes a play to regain control for the greater empire, but fails to hold on, following which comes consolidation. Same playbook. The American colonists were aware of their history. Also the crusader states were an example, but less direct and more an example of how things can go wrong.


    The Mafia (Georgian, mostly, not Russian Like J V Djugvlashii, or L Beria, do you mean> Uggggg ....


    WRONG How many times, just in this set of narratives/blog, does it have to be repeated that: DNA studies show that the great majority of the already-resident populations in the "British Isles" stayed put / remained where they were when the Saxons / Danes / Normans arrived?


    Next you will be telling me that an advanced car driving civilisation didn't sweep in from America and wipe out the primitive horse herders in the early 20th century.


    To apologize for the outburst, an explanation:

    This is the man who stopped the attack. Details of shirt: front; back.

    Location: Trollhättan.

    The attacker's YouTube channel (the name of which is 100% typical teenage angsty rebellion) is a long list of the usual: 'ironic' Nazism, music like Rammstein / Marylin Manson, Amazing Atheist, Games, 40K, anti-feminist rants, anti-Islam, GamerGate, MRA, anti-Bieber, Starwars, George Carlin, Southpark, an interest in homosexuality (with some curious follows hinting at closet feelings), loneliness, mental illness, as well as local color: Jimmie Åkesson. His last "like" was of Suicide Commando's When Evil Speaks from the album "Feeding my inner hate" and Rob Zombie's - Dragula whose chorus line is:

    Dig through the ditches, And burn through the witches I slam in the back of my Dragula

    Can you spot the hidden message?

    It's a caricature of the Dark Enlightenment and the bugbears of modernity in terms of nihilism. Couldn't make a better list if you wanted to; if human lives weren't wasted, it would be farcical.

    So: does that content lead to school sprees, or is there something a little deeper and darker going on? (looking back @ Jocelyn's comment)

    Note to PG-onlookers: that electronic finger-print is practically begging to fit a profile. (WoW as 'perfect cover' comes to mind).

    4chan's comment (Warning note: safe picture, but is to 4chan, you might not want your browser history linked to there. Likely to switch to something nasty if onlookers are feeling fruity).


    And I wasn't joking about Vader, either:

    Shedding its Communist past, Odessa converts Lenin statue into a monument to Darth Vader Oct 22nd 2015


    Unlike all the media everywhere, I won't name him.


    Considering that the car was invented in Europe... Henry Ford didn't invent the car, only applied the idea of an assembly line to building them. Maybe he invented a method of dispersing anti-semitic literature more widely by publishing it in his newspaper, leading Adolf to call him his inspiration, but that wasn't all that new either. Bibi might as well blame him.


    A quick off-topic note. Since the iOS9 update Safari has trouble letting me copy text from other comments to indicate what I'm replying to. I can highlight and copy text from from earlier comments, but not more recent ones. Otherwise I would have quoted what I was responding to.


    While a couple of maverick archaeologists believe that the standard interpretation of history may be incorrect WE all know that the "factories" that were unearthed in Europe were just copies built by car go cults.


    Another pun that bad and you'll be up for a yellow card mate!


    Not sure I have another one that bad in me :)


    Re the inflation thing, they retconned it with a bit of too-clever sleight of hand. It turns out that if you run everyone's money presses at once, the foreign exchange doesn't show any apparent inflation. And if that free floating cash is then sopped up immediately by the super-rich, it doesn't affect the price of bread or toasters, because you really can't buy a billion dollars' worth of toasters. So the wealth of the wealthy is just kind of disconnected from the economy of the poor. They can still buy their bread (if slightly fewer circuses), but they inexplicably find themselves edged into an ever shrinking corner of the world's actual economic power.

    I'm not really sure where they're going with this, except that it's definitely shading everything darker.


    "numbness and prickle-tingles in your pinky fingers."

    Sublingual B12 tablets are a quick remedy for that, as well as the mental loopiness and sleep deprivation it precedes. Metabolizing of alcohol, sugar and caffeine depletes it, and the aging gut slowly loses the ability to absorb it from food.


    Not to worry - 2016 is the year that anti-ageing therapies hit the news (and markets) big time.


    Glad to see someone's catching the mundane bits of the double entendres. (There's another couple of references to that, but alcholol poisoning is sufficient for the everyday cover).


    The hero of the piece was a Chaldean / Assyrian Christian, allegedly. (Which means everyone is confused and being unintentionally bigoted / racist at the same time. The Daily Mail is claiming it was Vader shouting "I am your father", others are equating ironic "Hitler Plays Battlefield" or "Hitler Bunker" for being a full blown Nazi and so on and so forth).

    Anyhow, the issue is really all about alienation & solutions thereto.


    Anyhow, Mother Nature (MILF) has decided to remind everyone that warming oceans full of energy have repercussions, and Western Mexico is about to disappear. (Literally).

    Since we're living in the future we got to watch ISS zooming over it in real time; this being the dumb version of the future, the person in charge of the cameras decided to flip between all available views just as the hurricane appeared, missing it completely and ending up with a white-out back shot (camera gain vrs albedo).

    Wind map that I've linked before (told you it'd be useful). The rendering errors in the eye are because the speeds are breaking the upper bounds of the software. (240+ mph)

    NRL tracking. (Warning note: .mil link if you don't like those)

    Twitter feed of Storm chaser heading into the landing zone. Expect either a swift trip to Valhalla or interesting videos.


    Good Luck Mexico & Stay Safe. Welcome to a warmer world.


    I was annoyed by all the "Biggest Hurricane*" reporting. It's like being told that this is the most homicidal leopard to ever attack your town when just over the border some panthers have killed even more people.

    That said, it's almost certainly going to be a scary cyclone.

    *Don't mention the typhoon. I did once, but I think I got away with it.



    For those in the know the real shock isn't the 'totes strongest evar'(apart from 1960's ones: sponsored by Exxon Mobile Equivalence Media Package) it's the speed with which it formed.

    Wed - Fri.

    That is what's scaring the people who know their stuff.


    Oh, and to be totally clear about my analysis of yet-another-school-attack (not pleasant to do), I'm suggesting that someone profiled the young man and then did some prodding. "Useful Idiot" and all that, carefully tailored to current themes, probably some Heavy Messing[tm] warping going on. (And, looking over the patterns, skillfully done. Shame the punch-line heroics and picture was too quick, too professional and too pat). But you won't learn about that in the Daily Mail.

    And it 100% wasn't 4chan (or 8chan were all the really wild things allegedly went but no-one in the larger community has updated their narratives yet).

    You can tell a male voice was running the choir. That ego needs the recognition and the flashy ending.

    Can you see what I see? [YouTube: film: 2:41]


    I'm suggesting that someone profiled the young man and then did some prodding.

    I had reason to visit a friend in hospital today (prognosis: good), and caught the bus home. Queuing at the bus shelter (the family car being already spoken for), I noticed that the only graffiti on display was along the lines of "Fucking Poles Go Home".

    This being in Scotland, which is generally a whole lot less anti-immigrant than England.

    There is anthropogenic climate change, and it's being pushed by media magnates with a political agenda. (Hint: not that kind of climate, the other kind.) Not leading anywhere good, I think ...


    SO what you're saying is that the media sucks at communicating, but is great for riling people up?


    Funny Stories (from the Clan of the Cavebear[1]) recently [skip, it's fuzz for bots]:

    Met a Young Woman in a middle-England Town: not Polish, not Czechoslovakian, not Lithuanian, not Estonian. She was Romanian, and thought we thought she was the Devil. Turns out Vampire jokes (yes, she was from Transylvania) don't translate so well. (But, yes, she wasn't quite as innocent as suggested).

    Translation: anti-Polish sentiment is about 10 years out of date. They made their money, the ones who stayed, stayed, the ones who went back, went back.


    Low-Mid weight hitter, bars, clubs, discos: company worth £20 mil or so. Most concerned about Hungarian and Romanian Mafia muscling in. (You can tell you're not in London then).

    Translation: there's repercussions for allowing Eastern European gangs to not be challenged and not be treated like the IRA / Unionists.


    Iceland: pro-graffiti art is all Pyramids and the culturally acceptable weird. Spray-can was "Satan Sucks" and "Satan is a cock". Open about it too, the higher hierarchy ones.

    Translation: Wonder if that's still the case? nose wiggle


    To put some measure of spring in your step: the fact that our current hero was an Assyrian Christian is very telling, as is the pattern of the anti-hero. His religion is more important than his ethnic background in this story.

    It's an interesting change from "White Knight / Templar killing Cultural Marxists" (literally) in Breivik to "Culturally modern [dat hipster hair cut, the model good looks, the River Island T-shirt] and religiously equal [Christian] well-adjusted immigrant against the Chan Nilihists".

    There was a quick follow up:

    Islamists 'recruiting' at Norway asylum centres Norway: 23rd Oct 2015.

    The punch line was that they were rejected because that's what the refugees were escaping.

    So, there's now "acceptable" immigrants and the non-acceptable ones. Guess where the line is?


    They're playing games, and lives are being spent, but they've changed the focus. Updates to these kind of fossils take time. (And, younglings in #gamergate, be warned and wary. Lions, Tigers and Bears).


    Crackas With Attitude - the 13 year old who socially engineered John brennan's AOL account.

    Link is to the Daily Dot which sums up my thoughts on this attempted resurrection of Anon, Jester and early 2010 hacking memes.

    Life moved on. People started hacking minds, not AOL accounts.

    [1]I'm already skirting serious topics that get noticed[tm] while playing the fool. Don't want to add too much; dying anyhow.


    No, it means he doesn't understand the science.

    It's crazy-pants insane how quick this happened and all my scientist friends are buzzing and panicking about the formation. There's careers being made as we speak about the new math / chaos and temperature.

    The analogy is this: babies used to take 9 months to gestate: now they take 7. (scaled and prior reference)


    Oh, and @ Peanut Gallery:

    If you've not realized you're part of a mummers play then I despair.

    And no, they don't play nice. They're quite willing to spend 500,000 lives for a goal, you think you're safe in your enclaves?

    Oh Dear.

    [Hint: this isn't the anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist creed you're looking for. You'll note the European stuff is all about Christianity]


    Oh and Host: yes, I fundamentally disagree with stances taken.

    Apparently last time I bothered to make a fuss I destabilized the entire middle east and kicked off WWIII.

    “He saw a chair, and a ship that was not a ship; he saw a man with two shadows, and he saw that which cannot be seen — a concept; the adaptive, self-seeking urge to survive, to bend everything that can be reached to that end, and to remove and to add and to smash and to create so that one particular collection of cells can go on, can move onward and decide, and keeping moving and keeping deciding, knowing that — if nothing else — at least it lives. And it had two shadows, it was two things: it was the need and it was the method. The need was obvious: to defeat what opposed its life. The method was that taking and bending of materials and people to one purpose, the outlook that everything could be used in the fight; that nothing could be excluded, that everything was a weapon, and the ability to handle those weapons, to find them and choose which one to aim and fire; that talent, that ability, that use of weapons. A chair, and..."


    “All things are in flux; the flux is subject to a unifying measure or rational principle. This principle (logos, the hidden harmony behind all change) bound opposites together in a unified tension, which is like that of a lyre, where a stable harmonious sound emerges from the tension of the opposing forces that arise from the bow bound together by the string.”

    Response: Sui Generis.

    The amount of energy and lives spent stopping the beautiful / transcendent is obscene.

    Now Fucking Behave [Youtube: music: 6:06 - Adele, new single, quite good]


    Oh, and triptych:

    I've not forgotten the human shells who turned up to parade like zombies enacting your will when threatening my existence. "Kill her now": hard to parse as theoretical when immanentized.

    There's no joy in that path, trust me.

    Django, bitch [Youtube: music: 3:57]


    I love you all; that doesn't mean I'm nice.


    There may be valid reasons for treating East and West Pacific storms differently. But I doubt that is why the media latched onto "nuances" in the terminology when they wrote their stories.

    I am sure this will be a destructive storm and I am sure cyclones of this magnitude will become more common. It's still an amusing example of how the media manipulates narrative.


    But if you pray all your sins are hooked upon the sky Pray and the heathen lie will disappear Prayers they hide the saddest view (Believing the strangest things, loving the alien) And your prayers they break the sky in two (Believing the strangest things, loving the alien)

    You pray til the break of dawn (Believing the strangest things, loving the alien)

    And you'll believe you're loving the alien (Believing the strangest things, loving the alien)


    With regard to safe enclaves: I don't know how old you are; don't have a clue really. But for most of us in Generation X we were basically told the world was already lost, that we were just hanging out until the bombs fell, sooner or later. Against this deep subconscious background, everything feels safer.

    "Any world that I'm welcome to Is better Than the one I come from"

    I hate to say this, but 9/11 was just a giant accident story to me. It could have been a gas leak or a tsunami or anything with a similar death toll and damage level. I got sick of people acting like it was the end of the world. We knew what the end of the world was supposed to look like and this wasn't it. How could people be so shallow and gutless to throw away freedoms over this?

    So whatever horror story you throw my way, my mind is going to compare it to the nightmares of my youth and say, "Nah. It's just a flesh wound," even if I am gradually losing my limbs. Even if the problems are more complex and intractable than the Cold War, they are just going to run into that filter that says if it ain't MAD, we can fix it; there's got to be a way to fix it.

    To us, this is the Good World, the non-cindery, not glowing in the dark, not freezing its ass off in nuclear winter oasis. On many metrics, it may be shit, but just existing in 2015 puts me way ahead of my fucking expected life plan from 1988.

    And yes on an intellectual level, I want more than that. And yes we have learned a bunch of new fears to plague our waking hours. But none of them wake me up in the middle of the night, except the possibility that we will go back there someday.

    Not saying this is good or bad, just that it is What Is.


    Charlie? ( Scotland) ... which is generally a whole lot less anti-immigrant than England. Is this some kind of joke? Or is it just that the Scots, or their ruling party at least, are xenophobic only about the English? After all, it is "well-known" (cough) that everything that's wrong in Scotland is all the fault of the English, even if it has been fully devolved (whatever it is) since the Scottish Parliament first sat? After all, my other Edinburgh contact, has to correctly identify himself as Welsh, before he gets his head bitten off by SNP loons, if he opens his mouth.

    Which reminds me .... Many threads back, you claimed that the English were as racist as the Japanese - a proposition I strongly deny ... but, two nights back, I was sufficiently annoyed to attend a "street rally" (Yes, me!) outside our local Town Hall. The London Borough of Waltham Forest go on & ON & ON about "community cohesion & "anti-racism" & on Thursday night, they got it. Just not in the way they expected or wanted. Highly amusing, in one way, as one of the speakers from the nearest mosque put it, & I paraphrase: "Thank you every one, there people from every religion & skin colour here, this is the communty cohesion they talk about, so lets tell LBWF what we want & we will be back, until we get what we want." [ There's voter fraud & malfeasance & corruption about & we don't like it, is the short story. ]


    Please dont' do that! ( Mummers Play, that is ) I always used to play the "Quack Doctor" [ "In comes I with my big head & little wit, a remedy for every fit, & though my PART is but small, I love it, as do you all ... etc ] Now-a-days, I usually play "The King of Egypt" [ "Oh St George, what have you done, thou has kill'd ny only son. Is there never a Doctor on the ground that can cure the worstest wound?" ] Like THIS in fact ... "King Harold Day" @ Waltham Abbey, very recently...

    But, of course, almost all the mummer's plays are not "just" about hamming it up rotten with double & triple entendres, but about death & rebirth & continuity - the "christianity" is, itself a veneer - I strongly suspect this sort of thing goes right back to Gilgamesh or even earlier. Pity we can't ask Pterry any more .... Which is why they are popular.


    Can I Doubleplusgood that comment?


    Which, inevitably, has me wondering "which Poles do they mean?" since one of my college lecturers was the son of a Polish immigrant (of some form) who arrived in Scotland during or just after WW2 and stayed.

    Also, vaguely related to the sub-topic, one of my colleagues on one of our English sites was from Greenock (Renfrewshire, Scotland for the non Britons), and had a West of Scotland accent but an Italian name. A mutual acquaintance once asked me "Didn't you think this guy has a funny accent?" and my response was "Why would I? I first met him in a Glasgow model shop, where most people have WoS accents and at that point I didn't know his name." To me the (very mildly) racist assumption there is that "all people with Italian names have Italian accents".


    No comprende senor. I wonder if any of them had come across THESE people Like it says, est 1934, & not too long a walk from Charlie's front door. ( Oh, & OINK, b.t.w. )


    You can safely assume that the sort of people who might spray anti-polish graffiti don't know about the WW2 ones, or compartmentalise them as the good ones.

    Scotland actually has had anti-immigrant problems, to do with the Irish. There were all sorts of riots and fights about their immigration into the west of Scotland in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Their movement was partly due to economic push factors such as the lacklustre Irish economy, and partly pull factors such as the Owning class importing them as cheap labour to undercut the local miners etc who had the temerity to demand that they be paid enough to live on.

    At the moment, the reason we don't see so much anti-immigrant stuff in Scotland is because 1) most of them are white English people; 2) there aren't that many with different coloured skin up here yet, although there might be by now.


    If I start listing firms like that, restaurants and cafes owned by Italian imigrants, some of whom have been here longer than my paternal line, I'll be here all day! :-|


    I'm not arguing any of those points against your stance.


    Is this some kind of joke? Or is it just that the Scots, or their ruling party at least, are xenophobic only about the English?

    Greg, I live in Scotland.

    You read about Scotland in the English press, which is pretty much owned by media barons with an axe to grind.

    The axe is named "divide and rule" and the edge is being sharpened on the stone because the target is any part of the provinces that still bears fond memories for what life was like before Thatcher up-ended the board game and declared herself winner by shouting "there is no alternative".

    You should take what you see on TV and read in the press about Scottish anti-English sentiment and "cybernats" with a fist-sized pinch of salt.


    An interesting thing I noticed in the last year or two is that the internet forum of Siol nan Gael was a lot quieter. The group is so far out of it that they were expelled from the SNP, twice; I first ran into them regarding Bannockburn years ago. Now though things seem quieter, as if there are other concerns.


    To us, this is the Good World, the non-cindery, not glowing in the dark, not freezing its ass off in nuclear winter oasis. On many metrics, it may be shit, but just existing in 2015 puts me way ahead of my fucking expected life plan from 1988.

    This. Very much this.

    I'm planning my retirement, and I grew up never really expecting to reach thirty. It still seems like a miracle.


    And I too have lived in Scotland — in my case, Dundee rather than Edinburgh. I've also spent made a few visits there since, and at no time have I ever felt any resentment for being obviously from Southern England.

    I have felt more nervous in London than in Glasgow.


    To add something from the other side, I know two English women who have lived up here for a decade or two, and both have experienced anti-english sentiment. Perhaps more so because they are women. Not to mention the effect after "Braveheart" came out.


    Yes, things like global warming are chronic problems that take thousands to hundreds of thousands of years to resolve, not things that go boom and go away.

    Just for the sake of bleakness, I'd point out that what we're in for with the epic eructation of fossil fuels is something like the transition from the Paleocene to the Eocene over the next few hundred years. Life sucked, after was very different than before, but there wasn't a mass extinction (just an medium extinction).

    However, if we're stupid enough to have a nuclear war in the next 100 years, we're going more into K-T (or properly K-Pg) territory. The difference is that the Chixculub asteroid hit in the middle of the Deccan Traps Large Igneous Province eruption. The Deccan Traps emplacement is sort of in the same category as modern climate change (same magnitude, but much slower) and it trashed the world in much the same way as climate change is starting too. And total nuclear war is sort of a poor man's Chicxulub. So shall we not pile the one atop the other? Anyone who wants to replay the K-T needs to take a before/after paleontology course that looks at the Maastrichtian (before) and the Danian (after) to get a really, really good idea of what happens when you combine a changing climate with all-out war. Stoopid doesn't begin to cover it.

    Personally, I think we'll be increasingly repurposing the armed forces of the world for disaster relief in the next few decades, but until that time, let's try to keep shooting wars from breaking out between the great powers, shall we? If it involves letting the guys wearing bunny slippers on duty while they watch DVDs of Homeland in the silos keep their missileer pins, fine. Let's just make sure that the buttons never get pushed.


    Err .... I repeat ... After all, my other Edinburgh contact, has to correctly identify himself as Welsh, before he gets his head bitten off by SNP loons, if he opens his mouth. Admittedly, he sounds even more "English" than I do, but .... Also, the madwoman was forced from office in, when, 1990? 25 years ago? And been dead over two years & people are SILL obsessing about her? This is as insane as Corbyn wanting to go back to 1933. What's gorn worng with our entire political system?

    Remember I mentioned our little local difficulty? Our popular Labour MP is at odds with the "Deputy Leader of the Council" ( Think Derek Hatton, if we are discussing tropes from the past ) & there's a wonderful row & possible scandal brewing here. And a n other reminder, I'm a fervent supporter of "Devo-Max" - for everyone, as I think this would be better, for everyone, too. But, the SNP want the whole thing & that last little bit, coupled with their nannying control-freakery (previously discussed also) makes them, not suspect, but guilty, in my eyes at least.

    Take everyone's points about "the meeja" & axes, though, whilst remembering that the unspeakable Murdoch is facing both ways - crawling up the SNP's orifices in Scotland & doing something else down here. Yuck.


    The tory party seems to want to go back to the 19th century, so getting het up about Thatcher isn't so bad. But really, she plays the same part in conversation as your childhood bogeys, and as an example of how things can go wrong. As for your welsh friend, he's probably hanging about in the equivalent of the places in England which have english people banging on about all these immigrants stealing our jobs; remember how many voted ukip etc.


    Trouble is, I think we are going to have a nuclear war, just not between the "Great Powers" It only needs a really islamist "government" to take over, say Pakistan, decide that bringing the umpteenth emir, or whatever is worth having at the price & starting on India, or some such utterly loopy, eschatological scenario .... [ Or something like that ]


    He works for the Uni of Edinburgh, having done his BA then MA at said institution.


    You should take what you see on TV and read in the press about Scottish anti-English sentiment and "cybernats" with a fist-sized pinch of salt.

    Agreed. However, that's not to say that there aren't a few numpties out there who really don't "get it" (i.e. the same brand of moron who spraypaints graffiti about the Poles, the UVF, the Ra, or their favoured football team's local opponents). Occasionally, one of them will mouth off about "the English" - but it's not widespread, and it's not generally tolerated.

    However, cybernats. I had a friend of twenty-five years who spent the two years before the referendum linking his Facebook feed to just about every Wings Over Scotland article - I got defriended by him after the referendum result; he was obviously upset that anyone could (even politely) disagree with his deeply-held convictions.

    A schoolfriend who I've known for forty years was very vocal throughout the Yes campaign - he's lived in London for twenty-five years, was ineligible to vote, his wife is English, his children are English, and yet he's still saying "we" and "us" and claiming that independence was the only answer...


    I didn't think that Edinburgh actually offered any BA courses - unless it's one of the subsumed institutions (e.g. Edinburgh College of Art)...

    The thought of SNP activists at Edinburgh does amuse, however; even in the 1980s, it was full of English students - and now that it's climbed the world rankings to the top twenty, it's noticeable how many more foreign students there are. I coach at one of its sports clubs; the makeup of the club membership has changed over the last few decades. In my era, well over half of the club were Scots - now, it's less than a quarter (at a guess).

    Perhaps the gently rebellious, politically ardent, and vocally active student now hangs their enthusiasm around the SNP or Greens, where three decades ago they would have joined the Socialist Workers, or Troops Out... but Edinburgh has never been a hotbed of activism. It's not even affiliated to the NUS.


    I'm just sorry the Scots voted "no". I would like to get rid of them, and the Welsh and especially NI. Maybe the whining would die down a bit...


    Large Wooden Spoon trophy award to you, Dirk .....


    Well, he has an MA & did his first degree there, certainly.


    “I have read that the average American uses about 500 words for their normal vocabulary. I've also read that Koko the gorilla has 550 words in ASL.”

    I've read that Koko the gorilla has a vocabulary of over 1000 words using ASL. That's amazing. Then I Googled “average American vocabulary” and came up with this:

    “Total vocabulary size varies greatly from person to person, but people typically use about 5,000 words in their speech and about twice that many in their writing. A college-educated speaker of English could have a vocabulary as large as 80,000 words.” – Google Feedback

    Disturbingly I've also read an article on QUARTZ that “Americans are dumber than average in math, vocabulary, and technology” based on a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The QUARTZ article concluded that:

    “While older American adults (aged 55-65) scored better than any other country, young adults did just the opposite: They were the most computer-challenged of the 20 participating countries (p. 110).”


    "One author who did use the Dos Passos collage technique to good effect was Joe Haldeman (trying to remember which novel he did it in; nothing recent, though)."

    OLD TWENTIETH by Joe Haldeman?


    Back on the topic of an unrealistic 21st Century. THIS QUOTE from a tory newspaper, "The Telegraph":

    By electing someone the Tories consider a joke, they’ve made Mr Osborne feel certain he can do whatever he likes, and get away with it – because he’s convinced that even if people hate his cuts, they still aren’t going to vote Corbyn in 2020. Perhaps Mr Osborne’s confidence is misplaced, but that isn’t the point. All that matters is that he feels it, and strongly. The first duty of the Opposition is to worry the Government. Mr Corbyn’s Labour are failing.

    You what? I mean, the "torygraph" symapthising with Labour? What's going on here?


    "...the madwoman was forced from office in, when, 1990? 25 years ago? And been dead over two years & people are SILL obsessing about her?"

    Well, I'm not sure that's such a bad thing. Trying to figure out what is collectively wrong with the electorates' heads after the latest general election, I concluded that a big part of the problem is that, "witch is dead" songs notwithstanding, a big part of the electorate simply does not remember what Thatcher was like. They don't have a good reason not to vote Tory because they just aren't old enough. (Polishes walking stick, checks on picture in attic...) All they really know is the coked-up grin on the face of the thing that now calls itself the Labour party, so they have no basis for comparison from experience.

    Maybe we should treat political parties like the Americans treat their presidents and have a rule that they WILL be kicked out after n years, where n is small compared to a period of a human life...


    All this talk of 1000-word vocabulary, and no-one has invoked Randall Munroe...


    "I hate to say this, but 9/11 was just a giant accident story to me... We knew what the end of the world was supposed to look like and this wasn't it. How could people be so shallow and gutless to throw away freedoms over this?"

    I must say I felt similarly over it, but for different reasons - my filter was simply that of terrorist attacks not being particularly unusual events. When one is used to things like the IRA blowing up the Tory party's conference and coming within inches of killing The Bitch, and the general reaction being simply to go "the dogs, the dogs, they're at it again" and then carry on as normal, it breeds the tendency to react to the Americans going into a frothing frenzy over this - the larger scale notwithstanding - with "ffs why don't the hysterical buggers just get a grip, we've been dealing with this sort of thing for ages". Heck, we even have a national anniversary celebrating a (failed) terrorist attack, and plenty of people who'd be on their side if the same opportunity came round again. And it's not even the leader we burn in effigy, but one of the operatives. In short, we're used to it.

    In a way this relates to Greg's comment #486, in that both situations involve the innocence of countries who, while they have certainly been warlike, have never suffered the devastation of a massive war happening on their own territory (or at the very least right next door), with the whole population involved and half the males of a generation being wiped out. During the Cold War I never really believed the Western propaganda that the Russians would take the initiative to start it going hot. I figured that the Russians would only start something as a result of some mistake (kowtows to Stanislav Petrov). They knew bloody well what it was like to be directly involved in a major war in your own neck of the woods. It was the Americans who were the really dangerous side - massive resources, the strutting confidence of having used those resources to handily win a massive war plus the innocence of escaping much of the consequences due to none of that war having happened in their own yard, a religious notion (with the vehemence and irrationality of the fundamentalist) of the "evil" of communism as a concept, and some insanely aggressive military leaders who were very strongly in favour of a first strike on the USSR, convinced they'd get away with it, and not shy about advocating it. It has been said that the advantage of nuclear weapons is that unlike less devastating types they actually do make war unthinkable by putting the leaders back on the front line, but that is less of a deterrent when the leadership class concerned has never been on a front line in the first place.


    But that nuclear war won't be the same as the one we dreaded during the Cold War. It would be unspeakably horrible for those involved, but it wouldn't involve everybody. It would involve dozens to hundreds of nuclear explosions.

    The thing about WWIII was not just that it would involve nuclear weapons. It was that two of the world's largest industrial economies had been building tens of thousands of them.


    I was more disturbed by Oklahoma City. People will do things to "foreigners" they won't do to their own people. Driving a truck into a building, looking at the people up close and leaving versus flying through the air on your way to Heaven...


    Polishes walking stick, checks on picture in attic... YOU TOO?


    Update & information. Also REALITY CHECK Unfortunately, Mon-Fri, & "Working Hours" only ... Exhibition of Dr Dee's library & some of his collected atrifacts All students of "Enochian" should pay attention.


    they WILL be kicked out after n years, where n is small compared to a period of a human life...

    Something that I would like to see is that 'they' can be held accountable in court for the decisions 'they' make for, say, up to 25 years after they make that decision. That would help them think about what they are doing.

    Make the politicians really think hard about what the consequences of their decisions could be a few decades down the road.


    Perhaps part of the discrepancy is between recognition vocabulary and speech vocabulary. The average American may recognize the word "ascend" for example, but would never SAY it. They would say "go up" instead. I wonder of Basic English is to blame for this? Or a plan to be welcoming to immigrants. Most television programs use a small vocabulary and are used by many immigrants to learn "English".
    This also dovetails with a lot of other cultural movement toward a general culture that's lowest common denominator, made functional by extreme specialization. A lawyer and a doctor and a fry cook can all be equal in everything except what they do for a living. Outside of practicing law, where the lawyer is brilliant, and practicing medicine, where the doctor is a genius, all three are big fans of football and can sit together and have something to share. So society functions because everybody can buy the services of a specialist, even though everybody is pretty much helpless in a general sense. Only thing is, the fry cook can't afford the services of the lawyer or doctor much. We are actually encouraged to be such specialists and to not be "amateurs". If you aren't REALLY good at something you aren't supposed to do it AT ALL. This has it's costs and benefits, one of which is a generally less adaptable society, and another of which is a generally less creative society. But there are specialists for that.


    It's incredibly easy to demonize people, make them OTHER. Look at all the Muslims ISIS (Daesh, whatever, I use what the media uses, the most common word is the word, that's how language works) is gleefully slaughtering. You cite Oklahoma city. Anybody in a federal building was an "other". And you forget that the 911 hijackers were looking at victims real close: the passengers on the jets, the flight attendants they slashed with knives. They were prepared to detect signs of humanity recognition tendencies in themselves and squash them automatically. They were probably briefed, "Think about something nasty. Get in your unhappy place."


    No, it's bad. It's all bad. Slightly less bad doesn't make it not bad. It's not OK to spy on me, even if a shell shocked Syrian or starving Eritrean has it worse. It's not OK to pay me a bad wage just because I'm glad I'm not paid like an illegal immigrant. It's not OK to create a dystopia just because it's better than nuclear annihilation. We have failed to fall into the pit of lava because we landed on a ledge. That doesn't mean the precarious ledge is an acceptable place.


    That's the problem with you Lefties Greg - you don't believe in self-determination


    THe issue is, where are the cook, the lawyer and the surgeon actually going to mix together anyway? THe current stratification and chances in how society works make it easier than in "the good old days" for the richer people to wall themselves off from the poorer ones. There are of course new web mediated opportunities for them to meet, but that's not the same as face to face meetings.

    Heck, for all the problems with it, you can see freemasonry as another opportunity for people of all social grades to meet each other. And in smaller towns yes, there was an obvious class system, but you still had to pass by the hovels of the poor to get to your own mansion. Nowadays it's even easier to drive past in tinted windows whilst on your phone and not see them at all.


    "Can you spot the hidden message?" It's oblique. I must be obtuse.


    I think that's more about how plastic and personal the definition of "foreigner" is. (That is, this particular kind of "foreigner" that always has quotes round it.) Whether any particular group can be thought of as "untermenschen" depends on the mind of the individual thinking it, from moment to moment, and their definition will not necessarily have anything in common with anyone else's.



    Put it this way - I suspect less so than you, but certainly sufficiently so for the realisation of just how many voters now have no memory of such a defining period to make me say a lot of rude words...


    Where does anybody physically meet together these days? Most interactions are work related. What portion of the remaining time is social? Shopping. Churches. Drinking and dining establishments. Schools. Politics. Hobby clubs. Sports fandom. All of these are stratified as you say, to an extent. And while many of these bring people into the same place, naked of cars, they seldom bring them into unstructured interaction not related to the purpose of being there. But that doesn't matter. There are interactions, and they are real, even if they are "on topic". As soon as the interactions become off topic the IQ level drops about 30 points. We're into general LCD culture talking about Kim Kardashian.


    Really nasty thought Moderators & Charlie, pleas bear with me ... ?)

    What if "they" (Insert $_Villain HERE) deliberately make themselves "the other" out of choice? I would (tend to) argue that Da'esh / NSDAP / Khmer Rouge quite deliberately sough that label out - with themselves as "virtuous", of course, but nonetheless. Then the rest of us come along & "judge" them by their actions - not their speech - what do they actually DO? And, if it's commit semi-indiscriminate murder & torture etc (as the examples I've picked did & do, then, maybe they deserve the labels & the treatment they get. SOME behaviours are to be condemned, & stopped, by necessary means, surely? Or we do not have a functioning society, in which people can live with each other in peace. Discuss.


    I've just realised, of course, that I've merely re-phrased a set of Socrates' usual questions, about what is virtue & what constitutes a virtuous life. ( I suppose )


    We have failed to fall into the pit of lava because we landed on a ledge. That doesn't mean the precarious ledge is an acceptable place.

    But it does mean screaming "OMG WE'RE IN A PIT WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!" is premature. We're on a ledge, we might fall in, and we can't stay here. So we need to start climbing. Going all apathetic because we think there's no hope will just guarantee that we die; with some thought and hard work we can survive.


    I concluded that a big part of the problem is that, "witch is dead" songs notwithstanding, a big part of the electorate simply does not remember what Thatcher was like.

    That tends to be a problem. A big chunk of the financial crisis was fomented by traders who had never known anything but a bull market.

    And when I was growing up in Saskatchewan, the "socialist" NDP ran the province in the black — memories of the Dirty Thirties and losing farms to banks ensured that "debt" was a dirty word. It was only after a generation that had never known an economic depression came to adulthood that the province went Conservative*.

    *And racked up the biggest per-capita government debt in Canada in a couple of terms. Which is why I find the whole "tax-and-spend" slur used by neocons a (sadly effective) joke, as in my own experience it's the 'fiscally responsible' parties that run up government debt…


    Also, the madwoman was forced from office in, when, 1990? 25 years ago? And been dead over two years & people are SILL obsessing about her?

    They mostly stopped during the period 1997-2010.

    Then the coke-snorting frat boys who had posters of her on the walls in Oxford got into the seat of power and decided to double-down on her particular brand of divisive crazy. The on-going unhealthy financialization of the British economy is one side of a see-saw; the other side is the run-down of our former northern industrial base, which the posh boys would appear to want to see die in a fire. So they've basically spent the past half-decade applying the defibrillator pads to the chest of a zombie and -- look! -- it's sitting up in its coffin!

    Wholly avoidable. As avoidable as the whole insane destabilization of the Middle East, circa 2002-2012, c/o Tony Blair and George W. Bush, that led to both the Arab Spring and the rise of Da'esh.

    Actions have consequences.

    (As for the SNP, remember they're a political party? The Iron Law of bureaucracy applies -- they won't go away if Scotland gets independence, any more than Fine Fail or Fine Gail or Sinn Fein went away after Irish independence: they'll just find new purpose in winning elections and being a party of government. Which they're already about 95% of the way to already.)


    Pakistan and India had their nuclear war in the 1990s.

    Luckily they held it underground on their respective test ranges -- then installed a hot line and agreed to dial back the rhetoric a bit.

    I'm much more worried about Saudi Arabia.

    The Saudi succession is down to two remaining heirs to Ibn Saud -- the crown goes to the oldest surviving son of Ibn Saud, not the son of the current king. They're all pretty elderly; even the youngest, born 8 months after Ibn Saud died, is in his sixties.

    Politically they think they're fighting an ongoing cold war with a deadly ideological enemy -- shi'ism. The trouble is, both sides (sunni and shi'ite) have been firm in their ideology since the early 7th century CE; it's a lot more firmly bedded in than American Exceptionalism or Soviet Communism. They're not going to let go of that in a hurry. They bankrolled the Pakistani nuclear weapons program so that the sunni side in the cold war would have the bomb; it's been said that if Iran demonstrated a nuclear capability Saudi Arabia would field a nuclear deterrent within months, if not weeks.

    They're also due to run out of money around 2020, if the current beggar-my-neighbour oil price war continues.

    So, in summary, I'm contemplating an unstable theocratic despotism with an option call on nuclear weapons that is due to run out of money and hit a succession crisis more or less simultaneously 5-10 years from now.

    This does not fill me with the warm fuzzies. Best outcome; some sort of constitutional reform to settle the Saudi succession before the last recognized heir dies, followed by gradual managed decline. (Hoping for modernization and secularization is a bridge too far.) Worst case: Da'esh with nukes.


    Regarding Margaret Thatcher, I think it's worth mentioning that even fewer people remember what it was like before she got in. At various times; 27% inflation, restrictions on money going out of the country, unburied corpses piling up in cold stores all over Britain, storey-high piles of rubbish in the streets, brownouts every other day, 3-day working weeks to save power...

    And of course, for nearly a year near the beginning of her term we had large parts of the coal-mining areas turned into virtual war zones - while, of course, the "good socialist" organising one side insisted that a top-end Rover wasn't good enough for him, he wanted a Jaguar paid for by other people's union dues.

    Thatcher did what needed to be done. As in the case of many people who do what's necessary, she will never be forgiven for it.


    You seem to have forgotten the -10% annual economic growth during her first 18 months in power. That was avoidable, and if left the UK with a disastrous legacy of wrecked communities and industrial wastelands.


    The great dumbing down ... the 20C script showed remarkable gains in IQ as measured by the Flynn Effect. The 21C script for this story shows a departure. Specifically, the Flynn Effect is showing a dip if not a reversal in the U.S.

    Can't find the data, but the likely major driver of this could be Texas. Specifically, Texas is the primary decision-maker for public school text books across the U.S. If you have doubts about the above, suggest you search for relevant articles. From what I've read/heard, that Texas school board textbook committee is not-all-there, a few logs short of a wood pile, etc. The influence Texas has managed to leverage with its purchasing power is tremendous. It's unfathomable that given the media coverage every few years about the same text-book problems, that other states don't form comparably-sized alternative buyer groups. Really ... given the state of U.S. public education, it's a wonder that the US has so many tertiary level in the top-tier. Although, a fair question would be: what proportion of grad students by faculty/department are USians - 2015 vs. 50s, 60s, etc.


    ( & @ 518 as well ... ) Almost - except, the boy George is doing things that would have been total anathema to the madwoman, right? Like monies (even if it is a trickle) to space research & development, & spending on the Railways for ghu's sake - & I think the complete collapse of big steel in the North has frightened them, as they "thought" it was in safe (Tata) hands, & the world-price collapse has shafted them [ Which makes crawling up the backside of China such a good idea - not. ] The rhetoric, which may or may not mean anything is very different too - they are reviving the Disraeli/Macmillan slogan of "one nation" which she loathed - though the internal serious (very serious) faction-fight within the tories over cuts to Tax Credits shows that the way they finally jump will be critical. My bet is that Osborne will try to "win" the tough side out, then "graciously" give way ... [ Incidentally, even the torygraph is pushing this line, as opposed to the daily Nazi. ]

    [518] Yes/maybe/no - in that order. But if a loonie-fringe group (i.e semi-Taliban) takes over in Pakistan, all bets are off. Agree re. Saudi Why ( oh, why of why?) are we STILL crawling up their rears? We don't actually need them any more & their covert backing of Da'esh (maybe) & other nutters is inimical to a general peace. Yeah to your last - but if that happens, Da'esh will nuke Tel Aviv ( NOT Jerusalem, for obvious reasons - then Israel nukes Mecca & ... err .... Yuck.


    [ & Charlie following, too ] Heard the "joke" about Scargill being in the pay of the CIA, whilst She was in the pay of the KGB? It made a horrible sort of sense to those of us living through it, who loathed & feared both controlling "sides" & neither of whom would listen to anything remotely resembling sense. Here's an empty glass to Roy Jenkins, the best Prime Minister we never had .....


    Divisive politics ... am trying to come up with a list of 21C (i.e., 'new') version of unforgivable sins and drawing a blank. Is there anything left that can be used to shock/horrify voters? If there are no new sins, guess the politicians will have to sit down and work problems out. That'd be pretty new!

    Along this line, here's another 20C trope that might be reversed: the leader as autocrat vs. the 21C version of leader as team player/coordinator/enabler. (Or, an updating of 'divide and conquer' ... 'divide, delegate and fix'.)


    Um, I suspect that the Wahhabism practiced by the Saudis is more antithetical to Shia than are the Sunni in g