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Holding pattern (part N ...)

I'm still in Boston, flying home tomorrow, and due to begin recovery from jetlag on Thursday. (This overlaps with recovering from both an SF convention and the chest infection that's currently touring the east coast, hence the lack of updates.) So that's when I'm planning to resume blogging, if I can think of something coherent to talk about. (What do you want me to talk about? NB: the BRExit referendum is specifically excluded from this question, because Depressing Politics/Too Many Idiots.)

1240 Comments

1:

Being self-serving here, how about a list of books every school library should have (and the reasons they should have them)? And if you don't know good books in a topic, but believe the topic is important, you could solicit suggestions from your readers :-)

I'm actually more interested in your reasoning as I am in the specific books. Lists are everywhere, reasons why book A is on the list are harder to find.

I'm thinking high school here (so ages 14-19) but that's because I have a small bit of influence at that level (I said it was a self-serving suggestion).

2:

how about a list of books every school library should have (and the reasons they should have them

"I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

The problem is that I'm over 50 and have had very little to do with children or teen-agers during the formative reading years since I was a kid myself; any list I could make would be a third of a century (or more!) out of date.

3:

I would be interested in your take on things that impact SF, sometimes thematic - Cybepunk, sometimes conceptual - the Singularity, sometimes factual - NASA missions to the Solar system
And what you think the next big thing to impact it will be

4:

How do you see nations balancing civil liberties in the 21st century with the proliferation of weaponized tech?

5:

Not interested. (I get asked that kind of question too often.)

6:

Not interested. (I ALSO get asked that kind of question too often.)

7:

Orbital Death Rays: the case in favour.

8:

> So that's when I'm planning to resume blogging, if I can think of something coherent to talk about. (What do you want me to talk about? ... Too Many Idiots.)

Well, one of my hobby horses at the moment is regards "Talking to Idiots" - the type and classification of idiots, the best way of addressing each, and the memetic engineering that Trump is doing to get them to vote for him (part PR/Marketing, part something else).

A particular thing I'm seeming to see more and more is 'subject matter idiots' - who get wrapped up in the worldview of a particular niche group and parrot the memes of that group without critical or original thought of their own. Something of the opposite of 'Renaissance Man', they purposely sing from the hymn sheet of one silo as a strategy - somewhat tribal and often daft from a wider perspective. I wonder if they are a reaction to the pace and global scale that people now encounter more with the perversive influence of the internet.

9:

Thinking about the rise of the tech startup scene in Edinburgh - do you think there's any relationship between a science fiction scene and a technology scene in an area?

Has the local environment for science fiction authors improved in the last few years, or are tech startup nerds all too busy reading about containers and functional programming to read sci-fi?

10:

Well, you've already covered the future of human space exploration. Perhaps a post on the future of robotic space exploration?

11:

I've been thinking about the intersection of:

  • The latest round in the Surveillance vs Privacy vs Security War which is inevitably a one-way ratchet.

  • Assigning ownership of all your digital assets to shell companies originating in countries with strong privacy protections. Inspired by Chinese millionaire sues himself through an offshore shell company to beat currency controls.
  • The emergence of smart agents and contracts governing smart assets via the blockchain or it's descendants, also housed in systems outside the US, potentially even by your own offshore shell.
Is there a scenario where IoT devices governed by smart contracts refuse access to US government warrants because it isn't owned by an American, just possessed by one? Your offshore Alexa basically saying "I'm sorry Agent Smith, I'm afraid I can't do that."

Of course it wouldn't prevent the government from ultimately gaining access to your data, but wouldn't the bar be much higher? I'm thinking that a American Citizenship + Offshore Devices + Smart Agents introduces a degree of uncertainty that would give pause to the more offhand and casual snatch & grab techniques employed today.

Obviously this is US centric and I'm early stages in it, but this feels more likely than some of the cyberpunk datahaven dreams of yore.

12:

Hmmm.

How about: "if you had one type of idiot or idiocy that you think is woefully under-represented in your community of commenters, what would that be?"

Note: I'm not talking about getting more women involved, because to me that's not idiotic in the slightest. I'm thinking more about how you wish things would get shaken up a little around here, if indeed that's your wish.

13:

OK, I'll take one more crack at this
In the sense of things I would like you to discuss, your friendships with other authors and how that affected your writing and career

14:

Fine less grim meathooky...you travel quite a bit, and mentioned recently a near nervous breakdown: where would you like to vacation that you have never been, why, and what activites would you partake?

15:

I can't speak to Edinburgh, but for tech startups in general I think there's a common template for successful startup cities.

Tech (vs Bro) entrepreneurs are attracted to environments that are open minded, lifestyle tolerant, risk embracing, future facing in a density small enough to regularly be thrown in with artists, writers, brewers, hackers/makers, college kids, woo lovers, etc. On top of that you need at least one large legacy or new tech industry giant that hires in and spins out talent. You also need a good STEM university.

I spend a lot of time in those cities in the US and they all seem to share that: Bay area, Seattle, Austin, Boulder. A lot of other places get close, but seem to fall down in a couple of categories - too big to achieve critical density, intolerant of lifestyle or risk-takers, no community, etc.

16:

"Halting State" examines the impact of body cams on police work. The US is belatedly realizing the extent of its rogue police problem and adopting the cameras (I'm sure Taser Inc. is contributing heavily to politicos to make it happen). On the other hand, a recent study of the Chicago PD showed a ridiculously high proportion of the cameras were, ahem, malfunctioning accidentally on purpose.

How do you see the dynamics of how the surveillance state is foisted onto the police? Not out of any considerations of decency, of course, but simply because cities need the cost savings from wrongful-death settlements.

17:

How to avoid the robophobia trap that leads to the Caves of Steel, and instead head in the direction of abolishing slavery to a Culture-like extent.

18:

What genre interests you, other than the ones you've already written in?

19:

Playing off the idiot them.

How to you convince people on the other side of an issue to change their mind or at least consider changing their mind. Yelling in the face and calling them idiots does really work very well.

I'm thinking of US politics and the Apple / FBI spat in particular just now. (Apple is loosing in the public mind BTW.) I'm sure there are some similar issues on the right hand side of the pond.

Sorry to hear you got one of our bugs. I seem to have missed it so far.

20:

I'd enjoy hearing you talk about what cultural phenomena may have led to the emergence of fantasy that embraces the bureaucrat as a hero (stuff like the early Laundry files novels, Max Gladstone's Craft sequence, or, to an extent, Seth Dickinson's Traitor).

I'm not sure if it's actually a new thing, but I've found myself fascinated with the concept and frustrated that I haven't been able to find more books that embrace it.

21:

I wonder if they are a reaction to the pace and global scale that people now encounter more with the perversive influence of the internet.

It's a symptom of future shock on a huge scale: lots of folks just can't adapt (especially true of groups who have traditionally been privileged and are now seeing what it's like to lose their special perks and status) so they latch onto one or another tribal identity as a prosthetic support for their identity. Others simply can't take it all in and retreat into simplistic nostrums (young-earth creationism, for example -- the original fundamentalists in the 19th century were far from in denial about evolution).

22:

if you had one type of idiot or idiocy that you think is woefully under-represented in your community of commenters, what would that be?

Young Earth creationists.

(Note: do not want!)

23:

What genre interests you, other than the ones you've already written in?

Superheroes. I've barely scratched the surface of that one. (Hint: fantasies about agency riffing off the same transhuman powers but very human failings of the pre-monotheistic pantheia tap into some very deep wellsprings of human cultural archetype shit.)

24:

Now, that's an interesting question and I think I need to think for a while before I come up with a hypothesis or two.

But ... you know my "invaders from Mars" theory about us being under the boot-heels of 18th century AIs known as corporations? The bureaucrat-as-hero is someone who undermines such systems from within. And that bears thinking about: they're an expression of our aspiration towards placing humanity ahead of the machine in an age of systematic de-individualization.

25:

The invention of the modern public service.

In 1850 both the UK and the US had tiny public sectors, like 5% of national income. The public sectors were entirely nepotistic with positions bought and sold. By 1950, the public service made up 40% of GDP and was entirely professional with corruption rare and strongly resisted.

How the hell did that happen?

And do the reasons for that century-long shift tell us anything useful about causes of recurring institutional failure in developed nations, such as the church in Ireland, the media-police-political nexus in the UK, gerrymandering in the US, state corruption in Australia, or police corruption in Australia?

26:

Thoughts on comparative representation of the sciences in science fiction? Physics is obviously present in spades, with the social sciences popping up sporadically, and the rest (geology, biology) drifting around in between. My guess is that it's just running on that good ol' post-Enlightenment high, but are there any other reasons you can think of?

27:

"subject matter idiots"
Err, would this include religious believers, perchance?

28:

[ RED CARD -- you're banned for trolling, V, with a side-order of racist fear-mongering thrown in. Also, for derailing and setting up a straw man argument while I'm travelling. ]

29:

Um err ...not talking directly about the "Brexit" campaign, & certainly not about the (yukkkk) personalities involved.
Why are the real, serious issues NOT being addressed?
Why all the ridiculous hoo-ha about "immigration" & "welfare" when there really are dangerously important civil rights & constitutional issues at stake.
That are not even mentioned?

This could be broadened, perhaps to other political issues - talking around the peripheries & not about what really matters.
IMHO the vile Trump is another example of this phenomenon - whilst also agreeing with Charlie @ 21 on mal-adaptation.

30:

The bureaucrat-as-hero is someone who undermines such systems from within.

This reminds me of Frank Herbert's "Bureau of Sabotage". It was always an appealing idea.

31:

with corruption rare and strongly resisted.

I think anyone believing that (at least in the US) has some very rose colored glasses on.

Different systems had different places where the excess money could go (be siphoned).

32:

NB: the BRExit referendum is specifically excluded from this question, because Depressing Politics/Too Many Idiots.)

I guess the same goes for Syria, US elections and European refugee "crisis"? DP/TMI is quite a strong filter, and if you read it as DP or TMI it should exclude 99% of current events.

33:

Re Apple vs the FBI,

Or are the "Corporate Organs" just telling us Apple is losing? And how much of the larger populace really cares or is even aware of the issue?

(BT)

I mean, what is the Surveillance State going to do with our data? Tell us our Homeless Kibble really is nutritionally complete? Now with Zoloft!

Send the Black Helicopters to scoop up anyone who mutters about Pitchforks & Torches?

The snippet about the Chicago PD and heir body cams is intriguing, I had a PhD (Social) Scientist observe to me twenty odd years ago, and confirmed by anecdotal evidence in "Gang Leader for a Day" that Chicago did not have a PD, but a Gang.

The co-option of enforcement by the "Criminal" element, how can you have 1984/Stasi state when local enforcement becomes part of the (self defined) problem.

34:

NB: the BRExit referendum is specifically excluded from this question, because Depressing Politics/Too Many Idiots.)
Not a request, but an endorsement of the exclusion and reasoning!

35:

No, fear of immigration is NOT ridiculous ho-ha among the working class; One reason the Republicans are so successful among "White Ethnics" (WE) here in Amurika is they can see where the Brown Tide has taken "Their" jobs.

They (WE) miss the real agency, that the lack of good union jobs like Gramps had down at the plant is a Space Alien Trick, replacing the workers in the Chicken and Meatpacking plants with more controllable minorities, preferably "un-documented", and shipping the assembly plants to Mexico/China.

They know their Children/Grandkids are working broken back schedules at McJobs and taking on crippling student loans for Film School.

"Free trade" has largely benefited Walmart and the corporate owners.

And still believe Strange Hair and or one of the other occupants of the clown car will fix this, despite all previous evidence to the contrary...

Ted Cruz (Space Alien/Clown #2 or 3 these days?) was on the FRONT PAGE of the local (Arkansas) paper today (Monday), shilling the benefits of Free Trade. OK, that was talking point #2, #1 was equally ridiculous, but CRS (Can't Remember Shit, a syndrome of turning 60). They crammed two sound bites into the headline, the corporate masters are still trying to derail Strange Hair.

36:

That's why I mentioned the 1950s, as that was the high point of the reform Democrats in the USA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Athens_(1946) for an example round about then.)

Of course there's still corruption. My point is that kind of behaviour is now seen as wrong and corrupt, rather than being the standard practice as it was throughout the 19th Century.

37:

The limits of potentially viable human societies, while the members still remain human, as distinct from the effects of technology and environment on known society types. This aspect is generally boring beyond belief in SF and fantasy, because it is so rarely more than a theatrical backdrop to the main story, but you have explored this in more depth. The Liaden universe is another example.

38:

It was very true in the UK - even today, personal corruption is almost unknown in most areas, and rare even in 'town halls'. But, back then, outside the mandarinate, the public service was still strongly resistant to organisational corruption. That's now been stopped, of course.

39:

It isn't new, but very rare; unfortunately, I need a junior moment or two to think of where I have seen it. Edgar Wallace is the best example I can think of offhand, but even J.G. Reeder was more than a bureaucrat.

40:

Whoops! Correction.

It was Marco Rubio (All those lizards are the same to me), Free Trade and a Stronger Military.

Go Team America.

Remember, the US Military is the default International Humanitarian Relief Force.

41:

Agreed, the other case I recall enjoying was the Diplomat as hero, particularly Laumer's Retief stories. Although he spent much of his time practicing gunboat diplomacy over politics.

42:

And still believe Strange Hair and or one of the other occupants of the clown car will fix this, despite all previous evidence to the contrary...

I'm pretty sure that the appeal of The Cheeto That Walks is not that he will fix the system, but that he will break it. For people who are stupid enough to think they can feed themselves without it, it's an appealing thought.

43:

"... state corruption in Australia, or police corruption in Australia?"

Or as we call it, Law and (hic) Order. See the Rum Corp; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_South_Wales_Corps#The_Corps_and_rum_trafficking

44:
hundreds of millions of third worlders moving in

As far as I've heard, based on surveys of where people would like to live, the total numbers of migrants under a free movement regime would be much more modest than that — most people prefer to stay where they are. Migration is a hard, multi-generational project, not something done on a whim.

Also, the phrase "third worlders" suggests a worldview that's half a century out of date (tinged, perhaps, with a smidgeon of racism). Today's world is not divided into "first" and "third", they way it was in the 1960s...

45:

The Buereaucrat in Stations of the Tide doesn't even get named...

46:

Body cams mysteriously malfunctioning isn't going to stop them being used to root out corruption - That's just the dumbest corrupt cops self-identifying to the forces of reform so that they can be dismissed. Assuming an actual desire on behalf of the political class for reform, of course, but if that is missing, that will change soon enough. Not following best practice isn't popular.

I suspect that this is a movement that result in a fairly significant amount of early retirements, and probably a number of bodies hitting the floor as there is a desperate dash to clean house before the camera's roll out - A crooked cop who knows that on april 22 onwards everything he does is on mp4 has one heck of an incentive to either find new employment or make the people formerly greasing his palms.. disappear.

47:

The invention of the modern public service.

That's a good question, but it's not one for my blog: it's one for an over-ambitious PhD student working in some bastard hybrid of History and Public Policy. And if they deliver a definitive answer then turn it into a book, that's Professor Over-Ambitious Student to you, if not the next Keynes or Pikkety.

48:

The Fourth Revolution had some interesting takes on this question

49:

When you become Dictator For Life, what laws would immediately get passed?

50:

Here's a fiction-related line of thought that recent IT security news has me pondering:

In a decently self-consistent fantasy setting, where the public interacts with magic much the way our public interacts with tech, what would be equivalents of a TEMPEST attack? What would be the equivalent of finding a vulnerability in widely-used rarely-updated IoT firmware (eg. recent glibc DNS kerfuffle)? What would be the equivalent of the Morris worm? (Morris wyrm?)

51:
Is there a scenario where IoT devices governed by smart contracts refuse access to US government warrants because it isn't owned by an American, just possessed by one? Your offshore Alexa basically saying "I'm sorry Agent Smith, I'm afraid I can't do that." Of course it wouldn't prevent the government from ultimately gaining access to your data, but wouldn't the bar be much higher?
Good Jesus no. If it's not owned by an American, the TLAs don't need to ask at all!
Have you any idea how much snooping being an American defends you against? PRISM needs a warrant for you, but not for me. Complicating the citizenship of your devices would very likely weaken, not strengthen, your protection.
52:
Remember, the US Military is the default International Humanitarian Relief Force.
To push back slightly on this: all militaries are examples of Heteromeles' beer-on-generation-ships theory of wasting production capacity in a socially sanctioned manner as a way of maintaining headroom in case of emergency. They're also full of people trained in logistics and moving materiel under challenging conditions.
I'm entirely in favour of militaries being used in humanitarian relief; a large amount of their training being directly applicable, they tend to be good at it. I'd quite like it if their other responsibilities could be taken away.
53:

How necessary is public engagement to a functioning modern state? In most western countries, there is at least an illusion of control of government by the public in terms of periodic elections (although the reality of who actually controls government may be [usually is] very different). These countries (Canada, the USA, UK, France, etc) don't generally fight civil wars.

The USA is an exception to this perhaps brought on by "One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it.", meaning that a large portion of the electorate were dedicated to keeping what otherwise could have been citizens in chains.

Historically, you have countries like the USSR, the Russian Empire before it, and the Austro-Hugarian Empire, whose governments emphatically did not represent the wishes or needs of their citizens. Those governments fell apart, whether in war or due to people just not wanting to maintain them any more.

In the modern day, there is China, which is run by a party that is Communist in name only. Average citizens don't have a say in the government, and some minorities face severe discrimination or outright genocide (Uyghurs, Tibetans). Is China long-term stable, or do you foresee its demise, or at least a serious internal shake-up?

54:

The current government of France is the Fifth Republic, the UK had a 30-year guerilla war inside its borders end in the '90s, Canada has at least one attempted Quebecois uprising per century, never mind "Native trouble." WEIRD societies aren't immune to Government collapse and civil war, even if we avoid calling them such if possible.

55:

I thought Charlie had that pretty much covered in Accelerando.

Ok slightly different scenario but roughly the same solutions.

56:

It seems to me that the WEIRD society problems you describe are due to all or part of their populations not having a stake in the government.

The 1837 rebellions in what would become Ontario and Quebec were caused at least in part by non-democratic conditions. As a direct result of this, the colonies of British North America were given legislatures that were partially democratic in 1840.

Also, weren't The Troubles in Northern Ireland caused in large part because the NI Catholics had no say in their governance and were being severely discriminated against? (Please correct me if I'm wrong!)

57:

No, they were caused by Diarmit MacMurrough, Hugh Ó Neill and James I. They were precipitated by the discrimination Northern Catholics faced under the Stormont administration, and legitimated by Bloody Sunday.

Be aware, this is wild simplification; I haven't mentioned the Battle of the Bogside, the IRA's Border Campaign, NICRA...

And re: stake in government. You're right of course, but what makes you think there aren't similarly disenfranchised groups in most WEIRD societies?

58:

Aside from the usual Oxford suspects, there doesn't seem to be a cogent debate on actual transhumanism (the non-computer kind).

An offering (which you might recognize):

Together with colleagues from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, the Goethe University Frankfurt, and the Universities of Duisburg-Essen and Göttingen, Christine Nießner and Leo Peichl from the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt investigated the presence of cryptochrome 1 in the retinas of 90 species of mammal. Mammalian cryptochrome 1 is the equivalent of bird cryptochrome 1a. With the help of antibodies against the light-activated form of the molecule, the scientists found cryptochrome 1 only in a few species from the carnivore and primate groups. As is the case in birds, it is found in the blue-sensitive cones in these animals. The molecule is present in dog-like carnivores such as dogs, wolves, bears, foxes and badgers, but is not found in cat-like carnivores such as cats, lions and tigers. Among the primates, cryptochrome 1 is found in the orang-utan, for example. In all tested species of the other 16 mammalian orders, the researchers found no active cryptochrome 1 in the cone cells of the retina.

Magnetoreception molecule found in the eyes of dogs and primates Phys.org, 23rd Feb 2016

Function in H.S.S, apparently not in your eyeballs, but sleep related:

UniProtKB - Q16526 (CRY1_HUMAN)

Points if you can tie in why blind people cannot suffer from schizotypical disorders:

We presented a number of relevant case-reports and showed that all fall into a specific type of blindness, that of peripheral origin. On this basis, we suggested that the distinction between different types of blindness in terms of the origin of the visual deficit is crucial for understanding both the observed patterns of comorbidity and the nature of the protective effects. Building on previous work on the topic (Silverstein et al., 2013a), we argued in favor of a modulation of the protection mechanism in cases of congenital/early cortical blindness.

Schizophrenia and cortical blindness: protective effects and implications for language NCBI Nov 2014

blindness due to a lesion in the optical apparatus peripheral to the optical cortex, including lesions in the optic chiasma, optic nerve, retina, anterior and posterior chambers, lens and cornea. With the exception of obvious lesions in the eyeball this is characterized by dilatation of the pupil and absence of the pupillary light reflex.

peripheral blindness


"Pupils the size of saucers"...

In our Bumper Book of Magic we go further and demand that modern magicians position themselves at the very centre of society rather than skulking at its margins, engaging with science, art, politics, philosophy and social issues as if they had every right to, and thus reconnecting magic with the population that it was initially designed to serve and to enlighten.

Alan Moore: The art of magic Pagan Dawn, 13th Feb 2016

~

Anyhow, fairly sure host recommended Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen, just started it, promising; three chapters in.

So thanks (I think).

59:

Transgender transhumans!

60:

Actually ( but also read # 57 from anonemouse...)
it was worse than that, much worse.
Even inside "protestant" NI society certain people were excluded, particularly if it looked as if they were HONEST.
NI went down the Marples/Beeching route on it's railways & was set to close the whole lot, excluding Belfast-Dublin, but the Englishman in charge blew the whistle as loud as he could, knowing it would cost him his job (It did).
You had to be on the inside of some cabal or a n other ( & NOT just the "Orangemen" ) to get on the the North.
It was getting to the point where something had to blow.

This was not helped by the fact that "The South" was at least as far down the same road - an apparent "two-party" system that was rotten through & through ( & controlled a lot by the Black Crows, too.)
One reason "the troubles" didn't get sorted sooner (among many) was the total rotteness of Eire's guvmint.
At least two Toiseach's were lucky not to go to jail (probably because they knew where the bodies were buried) particularly - C Haughey was unbelievably corrupt, I'm given to understand.

61:

I would like to see your opinions as to the possible implications of IoT and AR tech on the development of groups and movements. Will automatic reminders from our digital assistants lead to more informed ethical decisions and more effective popular movements, or will they be subverted by state actors to nudge behavior? Will we see cultish activities enforced and supported by AR apps and specialized social networks?

62:

As with all tech, I suspect the answer is "both."

63:

Transport.

If you want to do politics: how to build needed transport infrastructure without it taking twice as long and costing three times as much as it should, with particular reference to trams in Edinburgh (as compared to Manchester; note that international comparisons can have infrastructure cost variations of an entire order of magnitude, e.g. high-speed rail in California vs Spain).

If you want to do tech: self-driving cars, will they ever happen? Will self-driving trains/trams/buses happen first? Can we get away from burning fossil fuels for transport? Is airport construction a bubble? How much short-haul flying can high-speed rail wipe out?

Edinburgh-Barcelona would be about nine hours if there was TGV-speed track all the way; a sleeper to Marbella/Torremolinos might be pretty popular if flying was expensive enough. On the other hand, Edinburgh-Beijing would be more like 72 hours, which isn't going to compete with flying unless economy-class seats go up to current first-class prices.

Crossing oceans without using fossil fuels means sailing, which is slow - three weeks to cross the Atlantic on something big enough to carry passengers; at least eight to cross the Pacific.

64:

In the US, at least,"modern public service" has roots in the Progressive movement. Teddy Roosevelt takes on Tammany Hall (in New York City, early 1900's). Tammany, a political machine, organizes its voters, wins office, doles out government jobs to its supporters, and to whom, to get anything done, you must pay a bribe. "Civil Service" is supposed to be merit based, non-partisan, honest. Sounds good in principle.

However one element of Progressive "good government" & "reform" was to block immigrants, those nasty Irish and Italians, from gaining political power over their "betters". For the immigrants "reform" wasn't necessarily a good thing.

I know you're trying to avoid Depressing Politics, but this actually connects to the whole US argument over the function and size of government that's playing out among Trump, Sanders, Clinton, et al. Does govt work for me? Who is it for? That connects to Pikkety etc

65:

How about mass migration's effect on the short term destabilization of societies? We've entered an era where technological and financial improvements in transportation make it possible for large numbers (millions) of folks to pick up and move hundreds to thousands of kilometers and settle in distant lands, bringing their oddly seductive women and strangely barking pets with them, not to mention odd habits and blasphemous religious beliefs. Smaller past migrations triggered wars; we believe ourselves too civilized for that today while ignoring vast evidence to the contrary. As climate change picks up and projected shortage of potable water spread, mass migration may only increase while we are already seeing increased resistance to immigration from distant lands where people talk funny and wear pretty clothes. How much worse do you think it will get, how do you think it might end and what sadnesses do you think might occur in between? First genetic war, waged against selected mobile genomes, perhaps? Will anyone be left to write the movie script?

66:

"...Remember, the US Military is the default International Humanitarian Relief Force."

But only if you need a "lead aspro", OR you're a 'Merican expat. Mates in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) are critical of the their set up when it comes delivering aid supplies. Where US Marine Corp amphibious warfare vessels are set up for evacuation of any US nationals (and their pets), as opposed to stocking tents and spare mosquito nets.

67:

Not too far from a description of Edinburgh - two excellent STEM universities, one of which does a internationally-regarded brewing course (the other is in the world top twenty, and typically gets 5* in the RAE for Informatics). Now Napier makes it three universities...

Until the 90s, add some legacy industry giants - Hewlett Packard employed a couple of thousand in their site at South Queensferry (IIRC it was mostly microwave comms - heavy on the physics and DSP), while Ferranti employed eight thousand or so in defence avionics (half of whome were graduate engineers); radars, space-grade navigation systems, displays, electro-optics.

Until 21C at least, throw in a fairly significant (i.e. huge) percentage of the UK's fund management firms and a couple of major banks, with associated IT infrastructure.

Park the whole lot in an architectural World Heritage Site, throw in the world's largest arts festival for a month per year, add decent road, rail, air, and sea links, add mild weather because it's on the (more sheltered) East coast of the UK rather than the wetter West; and it's hardly surprising that it's a popular place.

68:

How about a little game ... six degrees of separation SF/F style. That is, show the linkages/degrees of separation between any 3 different mundane events/occurrences/discoveries/concepts that result in something new/novel either fantastical/magic or new mind-bending scientific. To add interest ... start with the best good result/consequence and end up with worst result. (I've never played this, but a past discussion re:Freud reminded me of how easily any two unrelated events can - with minimal effort - be ultimately tied back of your primal-cause-of-choice.)


For anyone not familiar with the six-degrees-of-separation meme:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Degrees_of_Kevin_Bacon

Excerpt:
'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a parlour game based on the "six degrees of separation" concept, which posits that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. Movie buffs challenge each other to find the shortest path between an arbitrary actor and prolific character actor Kevin Bacon. It rests on the assumption that anyone involved in the Hollywood film industry can be linked through their film roles to Bacon within six steps. The game requires a group of players to try to connect any such individual to Kevin Bacon as quickly as possible and in as few links as possible. In 2007, Bacon started a charitable organization named SixDegrees.org.'

69:

One of the absolute must-reads on politics and corruption is "Plunkitt of Tammany Hall," if for no other reason than finding a machine politician up to his eyeballs in corruption holding forth in public on exactly how it works is like finding hen's teeth.

70:

"Driverless" automatic trains are here already. But only, usually for new systems, or you are prepared to shut $_Existing_Line down for 2-4 years.
Principal expense/difficulty in retro-fitting is installing Platform-Edge Doors to all or most of the stations for an automated system

71:

Probably you've done this already, but what about long-term -- like centuries and millenia and more -- usable information storage that doesn't need decadal curation? Clay tablets have worked pretty well in the past, but what are we going to stick in a crypt and expect that humans in 4000 CE or 40,000 CE (if there are any such, which I somewhat doubt) will be able to read and understand? Tempered glass seems slightly promising, but whaddya think?

72:

He has indeed. Memory diamond! - essentially a diamond lattice assembled atom by atom, with 12C and 13C for the two states. Reading is by NMR. We just about have all the stuff to do a proof of concept already, though not easily. You probably end up somewhere between 10-100 atoms per bit once you've included readout structures, redundancy for EDC, allowance for impurities and what have you.

74:

> "subject matter idiots"
Err, would this include religious believers, perchance?

Not quite the angle I was coming from, and neither was Charlie's 'future shock'. A bit more detail.

In the past your 'B' team level individual could happily find employment in a nice little bolt hole, trotting out the same basic knowledge as they got from college and being the comfortable little 'subject matter expert'. They didn't really need to keep up, the level of change was low, and nobody around them would know if they were 10 years behind the curve (eg lots of GPs and MBAs)

However, the connection that the internet brings means they are bought into contact with much more of the change going on, from a global population of such SME, all feeding off each other (shades of singularity). They face a torrent of new ideas, and worse, others can find out they are behind the curve via a quick google search.

In response they have to appear to keep up, but it's hard work staying at the forefront, and they don't really know wheat from chaff ('B' team, remember) so what they become is 'pattern matchers' learning to spout the latest thinking when triggered with the correct scenario - but never really incorporating the ideas into their cognitive map, and never really understanding it.

The problem is, because they never really understand it, they never really recognise the limits of validity, or recognise when it's horribly wrong. They also cannot go beyond what they have been told. The 'smart' bit has been outsourced to whatever repository of new ideas they go to.

Think your average MBA, pushing new idea 'X' or piece of 1960s crud 'Y' they were taught, without ever really understanding if it's valid or sane in the particular circumstances.

And that becomes the bigger issue. If a new idea catches the zeitgeist and gets repeat by enough of these drones, and if they make up enough of the population in that 'subject matter' that they take control of the 'source of wisdom', they can go off into a bizarro world where the silly idea pushes out the sane one and new ideas that don't come via the approved route are ignored (cf 'not invented here').

A simple example of this is racial equality (that's gone off the deep end for years now) where they automatically consider 'black' to be racist and not PC, and substitute 'african american' automatically. Even when presented with someone from brixton by way of the west indies - they still persist in using the same automatic rule of thumb, because they never understood the 'why' for it in the first place. Indeed, they tend to shun and crowd out anyone talking sense on the issue - because it doesn't match with what they've been told is the 'approved knowledge'.

Hence 'subject matter idiots'.

It's just one of the collection of potential idiot types - and my actual interest in identifying how you can turn around, or at least neutralise, those different types of idiot. For instance, in the case of 'subject matter idiots', once you realise what's going on you can see that grabbing hold of the place they go for 'new knowledge'/'cutting edge' allows you to inject your own ideas and gradually steer them round to being repeaters for your views.

I've had the idea bubbling away for years, but it's been prompted to the surface by Trump. He's always been a self-promoting sideshow, but the interesting thing is he's been trying to find a way to have more influence - first by author, then becoming a TV personality, and now by harnessing the bigotry and alienation of a group of idiots via the lever of 'political candidates being taken seriously', no matter how lightweight and daft. It's an exploit, and you have to take your hat off to him for recognising and exploiting it - public selection of representative doesn't pick the best, it picks the loudest, simplest and most pandering.

75:

Surely the interesting thing is that most of us are B team people, so we should build society to suit us as we are, not to suit the fantasies of power hungry greedy people and those who wish they were or think they are A grade.

Also plenty more of us B team folks are open minded etc, but stymied by corporate culture.

76:

Good idea, although I think you'll find that separating the idiots from the experts is harder than one might think. Computer Science as taught in most universities, vs. what is happening in tech companies, might be a really good example...

Then there's Trump.

Yeah, you clowns might get to deal with him as the most powerful man in the world. Sickening, isn't it? We'll be stuck with him as our leader, Gods help us.

He's got a couple of problems, really.

One is that he doesn't particularly know what he's doing, so with him in charge, we're going to see Bush II levels of cronyism, corruption, and trillion-dollar screwups. Among other things, this means we're all pretty much locked into full-on 2oC climate change in 20 years.

Like Bush II, Trump's someone who gives other people bankruptcies. I'd hate to be one of his creditors, except that, as an American sucker, excuse me, tax payer, I would be by default.

A second problem is that I don't think he actually believes anything coming out of his mouth. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure his followers do believe his pandering. I'm also pretty sure that his followers are more armed than the average American.

The problem here is analogous to what happened in Imperial Japan, to give the example of where it went horribly wrong and I actually know a little bit: When they veered hard into fascism, the problem was that the rank and file members of the various parties and conspiracies got into the bad habit of assassinating any superiors who veered off the party line they preferred. This made the leaders very leery of offending their underlings. Unfortunately, the end result was that, even after they'd been hit by two atomic bombs, some underlings still tried to stage a coup to stop the emperor from surrendering to the Allies, because one of their sacred shibboleths was that Japanese never surrender.

This is a bad place to go, because there's some really nasty outcomes in the US. One is that the secret service fails to protect President Trump from his outraged supporters, and he ends up with a eternal flame burning above his tomb, or some such. Another is that the Secret Service does succeed, and we have to deal with a fascist Washington DC, with rather violent tentacles reaching out all over the country. The end result of that misadventure might be a lot of guns pried from cold, dead hands, and that would suck for everyone involved.

77:

Not what you want*, and I have nothing else to add here, but here's my 6 degrees of KB:
Me -> High school art teacher, who at a US Embassy function in Sri Lanka encountered
Arthur C. Clarke, who had a cameo in the movie of "2010" with
Roy Scheider, who co-starred with
John Lithgow, who was in "Footloose" with
Kevin Bacon.

All of which means nothing.

*which is along the lines of what James Burke did in "Connections" and "The Day the Universe Changed". Always worth a watch/read.

78:

I'm not saying 'B' team = SMI, rather that the behavioural coping mechanism some can use to deal with the new knowledge issue (and increasingly torrent) can lead to the pattern matching scenario I outlined.

Another way of looking at the difference is the reaction to a new idea in their field. The type of person who's thinking and internalising knowledge will give the idea the time of day, maybe ask some searching questions, etc. They might end up rejecting it, but because "you haven't considered X".

The SMI type will reject it straight off because "it doesn't follow Farquah's methodology".

Such behaviour is not new, but the critical mass aspects and how it can allow the silly to crowd out the sane is enhanced by the 'future shock' aspects of the changed circumstances.

I was only mentioning it as a particular example of the wide variety of idiots, and how the landscape is changing.

79:

Crossing oceans without using fossil fuels means sailing, which is slow - three weeks to cross the Atlantic on something big enough to carry passengers; at least eight to cross the Pacific.

Clipper ships did crossings in less than 1/2 of those times. Are the economics of similar vessels no longer workable?

80:

"...might get to deal with him as the most powerful man in the world."
My thumbnail (polite version) of DT is yoooge ingrown ego, working intuition/mind, but he feeds it garbage. I try hard not to get deeply disgusted with political figures, but he keeps pushing random buttons.
His professed opinions on climate change are particularly disturbing, yeah. (BTW, thanks to you and Hadil and all for getting others of us here frothed up/better educated about it.)
Not arguing much with your hypothetical-post-Trump-win scenario.

81:

Reading "Silverstein et al., 2013a", are they (or you) suggesting (not explicitly) that a mental training regimen could be created (or exists?) that could reduce the risk of schizophrenia among those who work at it?

82:

My understanding is that cargo ships (running around 24 knots) aren't moving much faster than clipper ships used to. (Google "slow steaming" and "super slow steaming." These are both fuel saving measures)

The difficulty is that bulk cargo ships carry a lot more than did clipper ships, so it's not a great comparison. If we switched to clippers, probably the amount of cargo would go down, unless we had a lot more ships. We might be able to use something like skysails to pull large cargo ships at halfway reasonable speeds. Unfortunately, skysails are listed as power systems, reducing the energy used to pull the ship (they generate up to "2 MW" of pull), rather than by how fast they pull the ship.

83:

Well, there is plenty of scope to reduce the amount of cargo carried. And also to make bigger sailing ships. The use of steam for propulsion and the use of iron as sole constructional material got popular at roughly the same time; while some of the last sailing ships were made of iron or steel, it wasn't a combination that got developed much compared to the iron steamship approach with its great military advantages.

84:

It needs to be waaay past #300 before I outline what I actually opine. ( Oh Mickey, you're so fine you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey).

C/E blindness is also associated with comprehension of ultra-fast synthetic speech at a rate of ∼25 syllables per second, which is close to three times the rate at which non-blind individuals can comprehend such speech (Hertrich et al., 2009). In addition, C/E blind subjects have shown larger mismatch negativity (MMN) components of the ERP, suggesting a compensatory improvement in pre-attentional processes (Kujala et al., 1995). It has been demonstrated that these sensory and perceptual processing differences are due to enhanced basic perceptual skills, not to “higher order” functions such as attention, memory, language, or executive functions (reviewed in Cattaneo and Vecchi, 2011).


Which would certainly suggest that training has much potential, and I've focused on ERP before (pattern holding #33).

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November:

We're faster than you: of course, being assaulted by a primordial crocodile is still threatening, but the mongoose will always laugh at the snake. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, problematic when you're stuck with raccoons.

You may also consider my (seemingly insatiable) focus on cetaceans and their current communication issues. Having your hearing artificially broken is not a pleasant thing to do, one almost might consider it an act of War.

It's certainly not civilized behaviour, that's for certain.

~

Re: TRUMP

Always the problem with this Left/Right Anarchist / Authoritarian 4-plot you're still working from (that is, those who've progressed beyond the old Left/Right horseshoe).

It's old tech for old Minds.


Into my Arms Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Youtube: music: 4:13


And, uff, that game of 6 separations, how quaint.

Lost a really nice link which detailed the sources of the four poems that frame Gene Wolfe's "The New Sun", a Russian poet who wrote the second one and a German Baroness who died in 1975 who wrote the fourth, while she lived in a Bavarian village during WWII.

That was an amazing source, it was delightful, and it's required to make a point. I shall employ traces to find it again; would help if I could find the Russian poet (heaps (?) of skulls / hidden in children's games and books / waiting for new sun - rough memorization of it)

And yes, I ended up at Z@um' The Transrational Poety of Russian Futurism by Gerald Janecek (WARNING: PDF OF ENTIRE BOOK - LEGAL) in an attempt to find it again.

So, blog knowledge: anyone know the "New Sun" opening poems?

The link is worth it (! base bribery)

85:

Oh, and damn, entire web revolves around that one link.

Without it you won't get why Rupert Everton is going to been thrown in - new work, I roved out - In search of Truth and Love NSFW - it's porn. But of the good comic kind. The elf / human lesbian threesome in his prior art is simply divine.

86:

Teaser:

The primordial Western fascination (pun intended) with the Babel Tower myth (?!) and the 1913 opera Победа над Cолнцем (link in English) as a denotation of something (c.f. Borges' Library of Babel, mentioned before).


"We're Watching You".

"It's behind You!"

87:

Uff, all is scattered, pinion lost, links spilling all over the place like spaghetti.

Another strand:

For the Hugo thing, Larry Correia quits Twitter source: Twitter. Expect the Council of Truth and Values and the puppies to ramp up the old boring Culture War.

Commentary: Tous Les Mêmes Stromae Youtube: Music: 3:37 - Trigger Warning - coquettish depictions of inter-racial bisexualism if you can't stomach that kind of thing. French music.

88:

English translation of lyrics: All the Same.

And yes, that was a bilingual pun / joke (as is the self-referential character of the singer, the song is entirely from the female perspective, but he's clearly male & so on - unpack with reference to current French political seasonings of suspension of Democratic rule of Law / cultural / racial tensions: look up his video for Formidable to see a little more depth. Smart little Monkey[1]) but also a commentary on the entire thing.

We went so meta on that one. (Plus, it's fun and a catchy tune).

For Greg's Class for Cultural Translation:

Spaghetti Stories - what they are, and what they mean and how they're used.

~

But yes, the shadowbanning thing has legs as they say.

~

Hugo Neepery: Wake of Vultures is actually quite the little bridge builder. Respectful of American Western mythology (the ranchers aren't all monsters) with slices of fantasy and a female "mixed race" protagonist.

Oh my. Gets one of my votes.

[1] This is a joke he's taking possession of. Watch / listen Formidable before reaching for the pearls, sensitive readers.

89:

Making use of that PDF - a quick explanation of Zaum.


(Note to Host - this might break things totally visa vie formatting. Hard to make 1913 poetry from PDF source paginate nicely).

Sergei Podgaevsky: Thorn (last two pages - also found in Pisanka Futurista Sergeya Podgaevskogo P105):

ne not
zhit' to live
zhele jelly
me puzo m' belly
zhele techot- jelly is flowing-
tlenie. bit' rotteness. to beat
me my
nogi-pudts! legs-channel [?)
deryot strips away
fuzoi . . . by trade . . .
bodanie butting
kala- of feces-
umozaklyuchenie deduction
chush' nonsense
osha rash, confus,
vsir gaz
vit gnid
twi gna
iskatelya
seeker's
pettt pettt
a ardoi . . . a ardo . . .
oydvd oydvd
svemis' twist up
bublikom
into a pretzel
v shi kh s wi sh
shut i khi . . . jest er ess . . .
likom vopis' face wail.


Compare / contrast "Jelly Flowing" to "Spaghetti" and the last two "jest er ess" / "face wail".

Or the opening of the aforementioned 1913 Victory over the Sun"

We are striking the universe
Victory Over The Sun
We are arming the world against ourselves
We are organizing the slaughter of scarycrows
Plenty of blood Plenty of sabers
And cannon bodies [fodder (Erbsl5h:41)]!
We are submerging the mountains

We have locked the fat beauties
In the house
Let the various drunkards
Walk stark-naked there
We don't have the songs
Sighs of prizes
That amused the moldiness
Of rotten naiads! . .


Time is a Flat Circle and all that Jazz.

Do you imagine that the poets survived the Revolutionary Purges of the 1920's? The poets were fiercely anti-war (WW1) etc.

Methinks Stalin and his pineapples[1] wouldn't get it.

~

Brought to you as a response to Penises in Formaldehyde (you were warned, but like all such things, takes time to pickle a cucumber[2]).


Note: this isn't Predator or Prey humor, it's something else.


[1] There's a riotously funny story about Stalin, pineapples, MGU and why there's four giant carvings of them on top. Shared if interest shown.

[2] Yes, that was a cultural joke - vodka and beer and pickles and salted fish are Russian things.

90:

Subjects?
From an antipodean who used to live in the UK: 10 things in (especially US written) fiction about the UK that make you go 'Aarghh'. Things that at best just pull you out of the story for a bit, or worst make you do the Parker thing to it.

91:

Ah. All is now clear. What was it like growing up in a Zaum-speaking community?

92:

"Which would certainly suggest that training has much potential, ..."

VERY early training. Note that such skills are present in those blind from birth, not those who go blind later.

93:

As stated previously: "I am not a member, and have never been a member of the Hacking collective known as 4chan" (this is a meta-joke). Nor was I a Goon (looking @ salty Twitter tears and the U.N.).

It's a flouncy signifier to the amateurs that there's BLOOP noises from teh dark oceans, and a joyous howl at the Moon.

Anyhow...

YEESSSSSSSSSS

Found the pinion link on post #7 (which means great things for #8, old skool rules):

Mounds of human heads are wandering into the distance.
I dwindle among them. Nobody sees me. But in books
much loved, and in children's games I shall rise
from the dead to say the sun is shining.

I dwindle, go unnoticed now The Stoat, 2005.


Thanks to the anti-Smiler for that reference (not-so-subtle acknowledgement of source), Not to touch the Earth, Run, Run, Run.

Oh, I mixed up the numbers. The German Baroness was #2, #4 was Kipling, thus the Rikki-Tikki-Tavi reference, with a nod to Dirk.

To explain the meta-joke:

Osip Mandelstam was a member of the Acmeist in the same period / location as the Zaums, but shared much the same fate (if a little later on).

The acmeists contrasted the ideal of Apollonian clarity (hence the name of their journal, Apollon) to "Dionysian frenzy" propagated by the Russian symbolist poets like Bely and Vyacheslav Ivanov. To the Symbolists' preoccupation with "intimations through symbols" they preferred "direct expression through images".

Back to the old Apollo / Dionysian divide.

And they started in 1913.

*nose wiggle*


~


I love free-styling at 4am, big Moon.

94:

Yes, thus interest in new plasticity studies etc.

~

Since you've claimed thought patterns different from the norm, a thought experiment:

What if I told you that there's the Quick Foxes and the Slow Brown Dogs but there's also something new, blue and Faster than a Fox?

95:

This, and prior don't count as #8 since they're just footnotes:

Moar explanation:

But strength still goes out from your thorns,
and from your abysses the sound of music.
Your shadows lie on my heart like roses
and your nights are like strong wine,

was from the Baroness; you'll note the use of Zaum poem named "Thorn" (Mirrors, have to follow the Formal Rules).

Note: link rot all over that 2005 source and can't actually substantiate it.

My sources are impeccable, however.

96:

You are missing a J, a P and a Z.

97:

Not Chess or Crosswords, but well played there.

~

Oh, and Mirrors: A(cmeist) and Z(aum). Apollo / Dionysus divide, straddling a War and a Revolution.

Very traditional Old Skool Work there, like viewing the works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

98:

You'll probably need to understand the cultural underpinnings of contemporary Russian SF visa vie the "Great Game" and two mirror sides fighting over the outcomes of the period found in places like The Night Watch to grokk the meta-whimsey of this little flight.[1]

~

Off the cuff explanation: Light / Dark aren't really Good / Evil (it's more Altruism / Selfishness), but both sides are convinced that the other one was responsible for the horrors of Communism and the gigadeath. Or even, Communism was the "good guys" winning.

And yes, there's a meta-meta-meta fable / reference to Trump here.

~


The meta-meta-meta-meta thing is all about cetaceans.

For the Old kind, being shadow-banned: Matthew 26:27 and later Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad., found 14:27).

~

Shadowbanning = Total War, it's insanity.


[1] No interest in Pineapples? :sadpanda: - but I'm aware of the dark places said author has gone with regard to such things as Russian Nationalism / Putin etc.

99:

"What if I told you that there's the Quick Foxes and the Slow Brown Dogs but there's also something new, blue and Faster than a Fox?"

As with all such claims, I should mentally mark it as "claimed, doubtful" and reserve judgement until and unless I see some evidence. But it assuredly isn't impossible.

100:

And not forgetting things like the "Battle of the Boyne" (1690) in which William of Orange (Protestant) was supported by the Pope. :-|

101:

Here's my suggested question:

Following on from an article I read on Medium a couple of days ago which postulated a pattern for technology waves in the IT space roughly 10-15 years apart (examples given were PCs, Internet, Smartphones but you could extend it back to ICs in the mid 60s and transistors in the early 50s) and we're therefore due the next wave sometime between now and 2021 - what are the candidate technologies to underpin this hypothetical next wave?

Characteristics
- needs to have a self-reinforcing interaction between hardware, software and new services
- needs to be 'bubbling under' - that is being experimented with by nerds and talked about by knowledgeable early adopters, but not in the mainstream yet (about where the internet was around 1990-1, just before Mosaic happened)

The article suggested some possibilities, but I'd be interested in what the crew here might suggest.

Regards
Luke

102:

Or Cromwell. NOBODY forgets Cromwell.
I was attempting to reference the Ulster Plantation specifically; I don't know whether it had a demographic effect that would stand out against the Cromwellian background, but it is thought of as a separate affair.

103:

One: Please grow up - you were making sensible comments & now you've lost it again..
Light dark asin:Off the cuff explanation: Light / Dark aren't really Good / Evil
Yes, well:

Light is the left hand of Darkness
and Darkness the right hand of Light.
Two are one, life and death, lying
together like lovers in kemmer,
like hands joined together,
Like the end and the way.

Yet evil - Stalin, Adolf etc does exist - I think you are confused (again)

104:

You're accusing me of "losing it", when I'm describing (for lazy people who don't follow the links or who haven't read the series) the mythos of a (famous enough to have two movie deals) SF novel series.

To wit: the 'magic' sides within, not 'this is the summation of human ethics on the nature of evil' or 'this explains Communism' i.e. the 'good guys' sometimes kill people (although usually due to tinkering behind the scenes by 'bad' people to force the outcome) and the 'bad guys' sometimes save people (although usually due to tinkering behind the scenes by 'good' people to force the outcome).

And a whole lot about predestination, prophesy and so on.

~

Frankly, I think you missed the part where it's a lens to look at the world not from your own cultural assumptions.

And, the substance to the [1] reference:

“From now on I do not go to Ukraine, I do not participate in Ukrainian conventions, and I forbid translating my books into Ukrainian” - Sergei Lukyanenko wrote with a reference to the Maidan events.

Sergei Lukyanenko to Prevent Publishing of Ukrainian Authors in Russia Russia IC Feb 2014

Лукьяненко запретил переводить свои книги на украинский и помешает украинцам печататься в России News RU - Jan 2014

And if you want some intersectionality, here it is:

When Russian nationalists would gather at the Bronze Soldier to sing Soviet songs and drape the statue with flags, Estonian nationalists began to organise counter-marches at the same spot. In 2006, one Estonian nationalist writer threatened to blow the statue up. In March 2007, the Estonian parliament voted to move the statue to a military cemetery – officially, for reasons of keeping the peace. But Russian politicians and media responded furiously. “Estonian leaders collaborate with fascism!’’ said the mayor of Moscow; “The situation is despicable,” said the foreign minister. The Russian media nicknamed the country “eSStonia”. A vigilante group calling itself the Night Watch camped around the Bronze Soldier to protect it from removal.

Inside the Kremlin’s hall of mirrors Guardian, April 2015

~

Glad to see that you inferred Le Guin though.


~

Btw, if you've not worked it out yet: from your chosen poetry (that, btw, is distinct enough to leave glowing markers all over the net pointing at you) you're 100% Apollonian with undertones of Authoritarian pining that you moderate quite well.

That's ok, but please stop pretending you're the final arbiter of sense in any meaningful way.

Have you worked out which hand that makes you?

British Museum link for you.


~

Equinox

by Elizabeth Alexander


Now is the time of year when bees are wild
and eccentric. They fly fast and in cramped
loop-de-loops, dive-bomb clusters of conversants
in the bright, late-September out-of-doors.
I have found their dried husks in my clothes.

They are dervishes because they are dying,
one last sting, a warm place to squeeze
a drop of venom or of honey.
After the stroke we thought would be her last
my grandmother came back, reared back and slapped

a nurse across the face. Then she stood up,
walked outside, and lay down in the snow.
Two years later there is no other way
to say, we are waiting. She is silent, light
as an empty hive, and she is breathing.

105:

And yes:

There really does exist a true story about pineapples, Stalin and giant (4 metre plus x 4) statues of them on the top of the Lomonosov Moscow State University and comments he made while in his final decline.

That your mind can't grasp that shows you can't even begin to understand Stalin or Communism.

If you don't understand the pineapples or even imagine the truth conditionals to the history, then you've no right being part of a conversation about Stalin.


Yes.

Direct challenge: Pineapples at Dawn.

106:

Charlie, are there any writing styles you wish you could write in, but that simply don't fit your natural "voice"?

107:

Oh, and don't get me started on Maypoles and appropriation and Male Apollonization of sacred fertility rites, it's not a pleasant diatribe and features Orpheus heavily in a not very subtle revenge fantasy setting.

~

Operational Research


108:

Re: 'And, uff, that game of 6 separations, how quaint.'

Yet, you replied ... 'Oh, and damn, entire web revolves around that one link.'

That's my point ... no matter the topic, people make/force connections to their preferred conclusion. Not a particularly deep thought/perception, but to persistently ignore this is is B team thinking.

SMEs ... okay, my non-tech understanding is that this label is equivalent to number of citations of someone's research article. However, for STEM, this path is usually readily map-able. Not sure how clearly the train of thought/chain of logic/evidence is for other disciplines.

I have met and worked with genuine techie SMEs ... they're usually thinking of what the next step ought to be and rarely think about who else (rest of the planet) will be using whatever they've just dreamed up. Such perpetual 'progress' without any let-up or rests or checking about mid- to long-term consequences can cause many/huge headaches. This is not griping ... there are parts of the world/system that have their own built-in reaction speeds, yet some SMEs feel they can ignore this because they are SMEs (arrogant) or because they've never been required to learn anything outside their subject. There are some SMEs who fire on all cylinders and make a point of staying connected to the outside world and consequences of their 'stuff'.


New tech ... the days of Radio Shack are over, so where are the kids going to get the hardware bits and pieces they need to develop new tech? Apart from kids with (non-parentally-provided/supervised) credit cards buying industrial high tech components online thus making themselves targets for HomeLand monitoring, teens might be able to get their hands on high school level bio/chem lab supplies and toys. So maybe fun and games with DNA? Access is key ... so until high schools have 3D printers, we're probably not going to see any interesting new tech coming out of the nation's garages/basements.

109:

I have quoted the Mandelstam here enough times, I would have thought people would be sick of it. The translation in #93 is not the same one used by Wolfe; I could not begin to tell you which one is more reliable.

110:

Yes, but as a narrator I'm 100% unreliable.

Think of it more as a portal / jump point to riff off and a pinion to allow translation[1]. Along the way we hit a lot of points, then ended up at A-Z (which is Predator humor).

We even got some porn in there (and very high quality it is too - Oglaf but a bit more toothy / longform).

~

More interesting question:

That's my point ... no matter the topic, people make/force connections to their preferred conclusion. Not a particularly deep thought/perception, but to persistently ignore this is is B team thinking.

Since we've just learnt about 1913, Acmeist, Zaum and so on, how long do you think I spent on the "pinion" (STEM translation software still buggy) read and how long ago did I discover it? (I've already ID'd the originator, consider it a love letter back).

In fact, how long do you think this little tale took to make?

Or, how long ago did I learn about Zaum? How long did the 451 page book take to read to discover on p105 exactly the point I wanted to make that just happened to tie in nicely with the structure I wanted to weave?

Do you really think that this was woven with a prior goal in mind?[2]

And...

What did it illuminate, if anything? (Greg has already answered for himself, even with an honest attempt to "fill in the blanks" to use a Washington DC phrase).

~

Oh, and:

This A / B / G team nonsense is pervasive garbage / propaganda by the way. Hierarchy based on misunderstanding animal behaviour in captivity.

Re-think: In systems terms, those are the people that the system is supposed to aid and carry along. Not blast them with cognitive dissonance and ruthlessly exploit at every moment (yes, even the CisWhiteMale ones).

And you've answered your own question already:

Even lego has been co-opted, the entire chain of production is designed to remove what you're asking about. Wait until you see the post TTP / TTIP landscape.

Now, armed with that, I'll ask again:

What did it illuminate, if anything?


Hint: the Soviet theme wasn't accidental, although it was serendipitous.

~

Do pineapples grow on trees?

[1] The black chamber has designated him AGENT ORANGE to prove they're not completely humorless fascist blood wizards.

It's a mirror, silly. But I do notice the reverb in the echo chamber. I don't hate; and even if I did, I wouldn't hate you.

[2] Greg: "I don't see any method at all, sir."

111:

Which is the point of the Stoat link.

Someone over ten years ago took the time to research it, so saved from the memory hole it has been.

With the link rot, needs saving. [This is a meta-point about most of the internet btw. Written in Water etc]

112:

Truly do not understand what you're saying ...

About the A/B/C teams ... agree that this is old-school hierarchical thinking that consciously ignores how systems work. (But it's classical Pareto logic, so gets a free pass usually.) I suppose this 'A/B/C component of team vs. system' could tie back to fixed-meaning language - that it's artificially restrictive in describing stuff/events. But even if so, without nailed down definitions, how would one go about describing, deconstructing, and then reconstructing or purposefully modifying something?

The English language is pretty fluid - we modify meanings, add new words (there are over 1.2 million English words to-date) on a pretty regular basis, so not sure we're really all that tied down. New-word creation count could be a good metric of a culture's readiness to come up with new concepts. And, which topics show the largest growth of new words would indicate the level of interest in that topic within that culture. The concern here is BS words that add no new insight and whose only purpose is to demonstrate how bleeding-edge someone thinks they are.

113:

How about this for a thing. We're avoiding local political singularities, but there's the other side of the pond to think on. What does the Rule of the Clown imply?

Clowns are disturbing. That's their job. Clowns with power can be terrifying and/or compelling. Say anything, do anything to evoke a response from the audience. Any successful politician needs a touch of the demagogue, but what if there is no cynical manipulator behind the mask, just a dancer?

114:

I take your point on the nature of the internet.

It would not shock me if this has been discussed several times on urth.net. However, urth.net keeps dropping out or losing pieces of its archives; so it recapitulates the point in its own process. (As we race on to Glasshouse (and that's an optimistic future.))

You might enjoy urth.net, particularly the older archives; the last few years, maybe not so much.

I agree with the link post that I prefer the version printed in Wolfe's book, whether it is more true to the original or not. I already knew Osip Mandelstem's fate, but then I am a werido and a lutra lupine (or a wydra wilczy.)

115:

and the 'bad guys' sometimes save people
Ever heard of the Good Nazi of Nanking?
( John Rabe ) ??
So?

116:

True clowns will be very upset to hear he's thought of as one of theirs because apart from #7 (I will appear in as many clown shows as I possibly can) he's consistently broken their commandments.

http://www.coai.org/?page=Commandments


117:

Also to HB:(that, btw, is distinct enough to leave glowing markers all over the net pointing at you)

Oh WHY DON'T YOU FUCKING GROW UP

I'm posting under my own real name for Ghus' sake!
I'm personally known to at least two people who have or had relatively high security clearances.
Stop posturing & poncing around.
As for Authoritarian pining undertones ... ever heard one of Uncle Albert's sayings: "God has punished my disrespect for authority, by making me an Authority" - yes well.
Authority has to be earned, like everything else, & I see (almostr) no-one supposedly "in charge" anywhere who has really earned that authority - in politics, that is.

I suggest you re-read my sentence IN CAPS, above.;

118:

You seem quite determined to miss the point today. (It's only out of respect for Host & devotion to neutral tolerance I'm doing this little bee dance with you btw).

The post you are fixating on is about a SF book - it's back story to the more interesting ones. (Thus it didn't get a #number, it's a footnote).

It's not about the realities of Communism / Nazism.

Frog pills required?

~

To explain:

If something points to you, it means that few (if any other) people use that particular poem that is your favorite.

Like this current name.

Now, what kind of awful authoritarian mind would revel in that kind of individualism and post under their real name and so on? Sounds like a right yes man, a boot licker, a bureaucratic stickler for the Letter not the spirit of the Law!

(I'm pulling your beard).

WHY DON'T YOU FUCKING GROW UP

That's a good question, but you don't get an answer until you understand pineapples.

~Oh, and I did a cursory check: the tale isn't easily found on the internet, so it's more a Gateway clearance check than you'd imagine.

~

And Clowns (Brute, Smiler, Clowns): we're almost @ Watchmen Pagliacci quotation time.

Spoiler: it's pineapple related (the punch line is a real hoot).

119:

Stalin
They found two notes in his desk drawer after he'd snuffed it.
One from an old Bolshevik (Bukharin) who was murdered after a show trial: "Koba, why is it necessary that I die?"
The other from Josip Broz Tito:
"Stalin, Stop sending people to kill me. We've already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle. (...) If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send one to Moscow, and I won't have to send a second."

Tells you all you need to know - even if you have not read either Robert Service or Alan Bullock & the latter is compulsive reading ...

120:

Not even close.

Here's a hint:

. The term "Seven Sisters" is neither used nor understood by the local population; Muscovites call them Vysotki or Stalinskie Vysotki (Russian: Сталинские высотки), meaning "(Stalin's) high-rises" (or "Stalinist skyscrapers"). They were built from 1947 to 1953, in an elaborate combination of Russian Baroque and Gothic styles, and the technology used in building American skyscrapers.

The seven are: Hotel Ukraina, Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Apartments, the Kudrinskaya Square Building, the Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya Hotel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs main building, the main building of the Moscow State University, and the Red Gates Administrative Building. There were two more skyscrapers in the same style that were never built: the Zaryadye Administrative Building and the Palace of the Soviets.

Seven Sisters (Moscow)


And yes, 7 posts, 7 sisters - where's the 7 suitors to dance with them? (reference)

~


The magic words are: Tell me about the pineapples of your homeworld, Hadil

121:

Pineapples
Nasty plants, actually.
Spiny, cause wounds & injuries to the peon pineapple-plantation workers.
Most unusually, it is a Bromeliad, & probably the only such to be used in any quantity as a food plant ( Same as there is one edible "Buttercup"" & only one culinary Orchid )

So what?
Apart, of course, from shoving one up your rectum for fun.

Since you claim to be a 100% unreliable narrator, I must assume you are a true *cough* "Cretan" *cough*

122:

Seven Sisters is a tube station between here & central London & I'm off, via said location for a BEER in delightful Catford of all places.
Speak to y'all tomorrow!

123:

As a thought experiment, substitute for:

Acmeist - A Forum where the Illuminated ones hang out ("But we're the elite!")

Zaum - The chans (only some of them)


See how far that takes you.


So what?
Apart, of course, from shoving one up your rectum for fun.

Seven Sisters is a tube station between here & central London & I'm off, via said location for a BEER in delightful Catford of all places.

Wrong joke, resignation accepted.

Don't dip your beard into your pint!

124:

DT's not a clown, in my opinion. He's a businessman in the PT Barnum mold ("There's a sucker born every minute"), he's got such excellent media contacts, he's a celebrity who's gotten so much free press that the brighter Republicans should file suit against him for violating campaign laws by not paying for publicity (or some such), and he fundamentally has no political experience. I'll come back to that in a second.

Hillary really should watch out. The DNC is playing some shenanigans to get her made nominee using superdelegates. While as I've noted before, I think she's got some good leadership qualities, unfortunately this rather stupid tactic allows DT to portray hisself as the populist candidate, supported by the people, while Hillary can be smeared as the elite whose nomination was being engineered by party insiders, whatever the popular vote said. She doesn't appear to be good enough at BSing to get disensmear herself if something like this happens.

As for no political experience, it means what it says. DT doesn't know the institutions, the rivalries, the players, the important bits of history, the levers he can pull and the fault lines that need to be avoided. Because of this, he's going to have to delegate more than most presidents, which is where the problems with cronies and all that crap come from.

We've seen this with the Republicans now for about two decades: at the top they're totally focused on power for the sake of power, and as a result, they ignore the lower levels where the minions run things into the ground. Back in the bad ol' days of Tammany Hall in New York, this was defined as bad graft, and given how much crap happened under Tammany Hall's oxymoronic "good graft," this is a really screwed up situation to live under.

125:

Well, barring a couple of coherent staggered threads trying to survive, this descended into dullness awfully fast.

126:

The concern here is BS words that add no new insight and whose only purpose is to demonstrate how bleeding-edge someone thinks they are.

E.g. an advert on one of the university's monitors that I saw recently advising researchers to think about Impact, Outreach, and Engagement.

127:

...an advert on one of the university's monitors that I saw recently advising researchers to think about Impact, Outreach, and Engagement.

Yep, our front page currently advertises "Driving innovation, productivity & growth" (and motherhood and apple pie, presumably).

The only ray of light is that as our Departmental Study Abroad Coordinator I have to look at lots of other universities' websites, and they're all crap: it's not just us.

128:

So you want to do something to put the sparkle back in, perhaps?

129:

That's an interesting thing, equating new knowledge to dullness. Unless you happen to be a scholar of early 20th C poetry movements, of course.

Twitter's new Trust and Safety Council is an Orwellian nightmare The Week, 23rd Feb, 2016

See #74

~

You ask for the pineapple, you get the unlocked achievement award for the structure (if you can't spot it already). Plus it's really funny, in that grotesque way the Soviet Union provided.

Regarding #112 / 126, the Soviet Futurists and their language experiments are actually really pertinent.


Both sides still got sent "past the wall" though.


~

Watches America as two senators endorse Trump:

Chris Collins becomes first sitting member of Congress to endorse Trump Buffalo News, 24th Feb, 2016

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) told POLITICO on Wednesday that he will support Trump for the Republican nomination, making him one of the first members of Congress to express public support for the Manhattan businessman who is the prohibitive front-runner after his victory in Tuesday's Nevada caucuses.

Trump lands his first congressional endorsements Politico, 24th Feb, 2016 (by Nick Gass... really).

Time to dust off the "IT'S HAPPENING" .gifs and so on.

130:

With DT a good example may be Schwarzenegger in California. He saw a void, went for it, and then didn't really know what to do with the win. Campaigning, for the right individual, is fun.

Governing is harder. From folks I know (who are biased political appointees from the otherside), in his first year or two Schwarzenegger didn't really commit to much. He let the GOP's policy guys have control. He was a lump in meetings. He won, but didn't have a clear goal other than winning. But the GOP policies were a mistake since he couldn't actually govern with the national GOP policies in a state that was as blue as California. He ended up tossing out most of the guys from the GOP, hired a democrat as his chief of staff, and transitioned to a centralist if not center left politician.

Otoh even with improvements, there was still plenty of ethics issues, and a tendency to ignore commission reports from his own commissions. (The big one I'm thinking of is the death penalty commission's findings which came out against its use).

131:

Oh, and if you want to understand Trump, I've already done that bit.

He's a Judas Goat.

For who, or for what, well... Expect noises about reform and so on, technocracies blah de blah, the mother of all financial pops (adieu web 2.0); did everyone forget that Europe had democratically elected leaders replaced by ex-Goldman Sachs members in the last five years?

We didn't. And you've the links to show neither did GS.

Make America Great Again! (Note: image may not actually be anything but a simulacrum of reality)

132:

They didn't really need to keep up, the level of change was low, and nobody around them would know if they were 10 years behind the curve (eg lots of GPs and MBAs)

(Home now.)

This is utterly wrong when it comes to GPs. (Not sure about MBAs, though.) General medicine is an evolving practice which is mostly there to perform triage -- diagnose the non-obscure problems, treat the minor/fixable stuff, refer complex diagnoses or unclear diagnoses to specialist units. But it's changing: one decade's solution to stomach ulcers (antacids, surgery in extreme cases) is replaced by another decade's solution (H2 antagonists) and then a revolution happens overnight and it's breath tests for H. Pylorii and specialist antibiotic regimes (to cure, not symptomatically relieve, the condition).

You don't get to be a GP without going through a decade of clinical practice and ongoing education, and you don't stay a GP without regular requalification/exams -- much like being an airline pilot, with continual training and recertification, except if pilots were expected to undergo type conversion to a new airliner every three to six months.

That's why GPs don't really start work until they're in their early to mid thirties, and retire by sixty -- the training requirement is fierce and once middle-aged cognitive decline sets in they can't keep up with the bleeding edge.

(And this is despite the golden age of pharmaceutical innovation, roughly circa 1945-1985, lying in our past.)

A simple example of this is racial equality (that's gone off the deep end for years now) where they automatically consider 'black' to be racist and not PC, and substitute 'african american' automatically.

Bullshit.

What you're missing is that linguistic tags have multiple meanings attached. Each time new, neutrally-coded labels are adopted by the group, the bigots start using it as a term of abuse. So the group subject to such abuse look for a new term that doesn't have the abusive associations (or has lost and come full cycle). Consider that "gay" was originally a neutral in-group replacement term for "queer" or "fag" (abusive). But it's now often used as a deprecatory/abusive term by bigots and schoolkids -- "that's so gay". Alternatively: "negro" was originally less abusive in context than "nigger", but got picked up by the racist-Americans, leading to a rapid progression through "black" to "African-American" -- which at seven syllables is too much of a mouthful to hurl at someone with bad intent.

Incidentally, using the term "racial equality" in the same sentence as "gone off the deep end" tags you, and not in a flattering way. (You might want to try some introspection for a change: what if it was you?)

133:

Computer Science as taught in most universities, vs. what is happening in tech companies, might be a really good example...

Ahem: Computer Science is a branch of mathematics. What happens in tech companies is engineering.

As the late Edsger W. Dijkstra said, "computer science is about building faster computers the way astronomy is about building bigger telescopes".

134:

Bingo! That's actually the first halfway-sensible answer to the question "what can a jet-lagged Charlie blog about?"

135:

Yes: second person future pluperfect is nearly impossible to write fiction in.

136:

Charlie.
I have another thing, or rather a bushel of things, I'd like you to blog about. All to do with the relationship between forecasting the future and writing SF.

I know I know: every SF(F) writer says that they don't try to predict anything, yadda yadda, just writing stories about the human condition (with spaceships) or some such. But at the same time you and other SF writers spend some brain power on predicting stuff likely to happen (or not). I also recall the blogging equivalent of a happy dance right here when life started to imitated Rule 34.

So what is it with you (singular), SF(F?) and forecasting the future?

I think there are several angels:
Writing internally consistent, realisti or mundane fiction as a way to deconstruct certain tropes (wooden ships and iron men recycled in spaaace! and others). I think this is something you are doing.

Unable/unwilling to write something that feels illogical or wrong or unrealistic.

There's also the wider field of forecasting:
There's some authors (Karl Schroeder, Madeline Ashby com to mind, Cory too?) who occasionally consult as strategic forecasters.

There's the claim, most prominently by Dale Carico in his throw-out-the-kid-with-the-bathwater style, that all futurology is basically a scam to distract us us, sell us crap etc.

One of the things beeing sold are courses in forecasting - are they any good?

There's the thing that a prediction - "We are headed towards post-privacy" - is uttered to make something happen - "Give up you'r silly protest against IoT enabled tampons tweeting your period, your concern is so 20th cen.!"

There's the trope of psychohistory (Or the Kvisatz Haderach).

I think there's a relative lack of utopias or intended-as-prediction storywriting from a leftist, progressive perspective.

Those are a few observations/thoughts on SF and forecasting, my hope is that you find a few of them intersting enough to bang them together and show us the sparks.

137:

Probably totally off topic, but I just came across

http://dlib.nyu.edu/awdl/isaw/ancient-jewish-sciences/

Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literature

which has

3. Enoch’s Science

4. “I Was Shown Another Calculation” (חשבון אחרן אחזית): The Language of Knowledge in Aramaic Enoch and Priestly Hebrew

5. Philological and Epistemological Remarks on Enoch’s Science: Response to Papers by Seth L. Sanders and James VanderKam

6. Ideals of Science: The Infrastructure of Scientific Activity in Apocalyptic Literature and in the Yahad

7. Networks of Scholars: The Transmission of Astronomical and Astrological Learning between Babylonians, Greeks and Jews

Which, in turn, given that Bob sometimes does his stuff in Old Enochian, might be of interest.

138:

Not quite what I was getting at. One of my uncles had a long career in the computer industry, despite not having any degree other than military electronics school. When he was finally downsized out in the '90s, he went back to get his bachelors in Computer Science at a local school (not a tier 1 research institution, but not chopped liver either), and found that what they were teaching was 10-20 years behind what he'd been doing as a computer engineer without a degree.

I'd assumed more people in the CS world had these kinds of experiences, but apparently not.

139:

Full disclosure: I actually voted for Schwarzenegger the second time round, because his democratic opponent was a developer's sock puppet who felt entitled to the governorship. That's the only time I voted Republican in a very long time.

The things I respected about Arnold were that he knew that he had to get stuff done in emergencies (he'd lived through a few brush fires), which is a quality sadly lacking in many California governors. As noted, he was also willing to work with people on all sides, and that turns out to work well in California, which is a horribly complicated place to govern on a good day.

In the best case scenario, Trump may be able to pull off a Schwarzenegger, and I could live with that.

The problem is what's currently happening to Paul Ryan. He's allegedly the third most powerful man in the US, but he's largely held hostage by a small group of loudmouthed ideologues who are making his life miserable.

I think Trump *might want* to be more centrist, but he's unlikely to get the opportunity. That's the problem I referred to in my first post about DT, about how, if he starts deviating from the bigoted positions he's espousing, he's going to be a bit of attack magnet from the more extreme elements of his base. Unfortunately, DC now isn't Sacramento ten years ago, and the national Republicans have spent far too much energy empowering the bigots in their party. It is haunting them now, but that exorcism is going to be a long time in coming.

140:

Some time ago I did two degrees, one Computer Science under the faculty of Science, and one in Information Systems under the faculty of Commerce.

The Computer Science degree was all about algorithms, development philosophies, logical data storage evolution, communications fundamentals and so on. A lot of maths and physics, heavy on theory. Very much a WHY something should be done, even if the examples were often old.

The Information Systems degree was the complete opposite, all about practical implementations on current hardware. Databases, business logic, network setup, efficiency and so on. Very little grounding in why, lots of HOW it should be done.

Everything specific taught in the CS course is obsolete now, but the understanding translated well to modern equivalents. Also taught me I can't code eloquently to save myself. Everything specific taught in the IS course has also dated, but because the course was so light on why a technique should be used instead of how, I've had to educate myself as to what should be the modern equivalent and why.
It's made me much more leery of the modern skills based training, because they teach a specific set of skills, not a technique for the students to learn on their own.

Very much one faculty for the few people who design stuff, and another for the many more drones who implement it.

141:

That looks interesting (I've been meaning to look into ancient Hebrew science texts), but I think Bob's Enochian has more to do with John Dee than biblical Enoch.

142:

Ok, a serious one. (Well, pineapples were serious, but I can understand people not taking Stalin + Pineapples seriously. Those kinds hit the gulags / wall first).

Neptune's Brood centres around a three mode version of banking.

Fast = liquid capital
Medium = 'human' scale investment terms (5-100 years)
Slow = galactic scale investment terms (100-1k+ years)

Let's hit GS up for some Galactic Scale irony then:

They view “financial engineering” less positively. Rather than investing in new technology, corporations have increasingly borrowed money at cheap rates and bought back their own shares to raise their stock price. They have also boosted their speculation in financial securities because the returns on stocks or bonds have exceeded those for investing in new plants or offices or projects. Purchasing another company to suck up profits has proved much more lucrative than greenfield investment.

The Goldman Sachs Theory of Capitalism Jacobin, 16th Feb 2016

So, 10 second take-away:

Capitalism has ceased to value Medium (and never hit slow, unless you like your conspiracy theories about Templars) scale investments.

At the same time, fast "money" is showing a huge[1] drive to "get rid of cash". i.e. go electronic.

The primary reason for this is a worrying one: 1/3 US dollars (physical) exist outside the country: it's the grey / black market reserve currency.

Russia post-Soviet crash / massive slump of the 1990's? Dollars.

Afganistan 2002-2016? Dollars.

Da'esh currently? Dollars.


What's the largest cashless electronic system featuring dollars (outside of markets)?

EBT.

Electronic also tethers you to networks, phones, % skimming, security apparatus and so on. Johnny Mnemonic style.

And the web is mostly memory holes now...

Throw in student debt and the way that's working (hand-to-mouth, dividend delayed).

So, host, thoughts?


Are we approaching post-Temporal engagement of the majority of the proles? Is the goal to actually make humans (of the non-elite kind) atemporal?

And so on.


[1]Now rebranded yuuuuge[tm] in American / Pacific Copyright districts

143:

A short idea for you to talk about.

What do you think about the negative interest rates in central banks these days?

How does that relate to the fall in the price of oil/commodities and the steel problems in the UK?

144:

"the days of Radio Shack are over"

In the UK we have Maplin, which is much the same thing except that it sells components at more or less normal prices, instead of up to 10 times normal as Tandy (UK name of Radio Shack) used to do. The range available is vastly less than it used to be, but at least it exists. There are also several online electronic parts suppliers with a very good range.

More troubling to my mind are the proposals to shut down analogue radio broadcasting. Without analogue broadcasts you can't get anything out of a crystal set. And a crystal set is surely the best thing ever for getting kids interested in electronics - so amazingly simple and trivial to make, but it gives a proper grown-up result: you can listen to the radio with it.

145:

A couple of lazy questions for Charlie:

--Would you tackle near-future again, if given a chance? I'm not talking about the third book in the Halting State series, but just in general, whether it's urban paranormal, procedural, thriller, tentacular hentai, or whatever.

--What do you think about the latest crop of revisionist Lovecraftiana, including Lovecraft Country and The Ballad of Black Tom? How much of this is "yet another pastiche" and how much do you think is a good way of dealing with Lovecraft's shortcomings as a human being?

146:

Since host is back, and jet-lagged, the pineapple story.

Note: this is like a hot red poker of a marker to a [redacted] Gallery. *waves*


This tale may be apocryphal, but it's most likely true. It's also a social signifier.


So, Stalin wants the Seven Sisters built[1], and the architect is ordered to design plans for each of the nine (remember: only seven were built). Today, it is the turn of the finest institute of learning, re-imagined in all its Soviet glory (MGU[2]). The architect goes to Stalin's office with his two finest plans, and lays them on the desk.

Stalin takes some moments to look them over, then nods. He stands, and starts a long meandering talk about the importance of the new Soviet order and so on while he does that thing he's so good at - saying words while his eyes track and evaluate the person he's talking at. He gestures to the desk while doing so, multiple times.

The architect goes from nodding with relief that Stalin loves the plan(s), to horror as he slowly realizes: he cannot tell which plan Stalin is gesturing towards exactly. Worse, he doesn't know if this is also a test to see if he'll disagree.

Stalin finishes, seemingly happy, architect takes both plans back to the firm, saying nothing.

Now architect has a problem. Which plan was preferred?

Wrong choice means a displeased Stalin, this is no good for him or the people working alongside (never formally "under") him.

So, the architect comes up with a solution:

He takes half of one plan, and half of the other and joins them together.

Luckily, he has a cousin in the bureau who knows the secretary to Stalin. Stalin loves pineapples[3], his favorite fruit.

So, when building is done, on top (out of sight of the street, for insurance sake), four giant pineapples are also added[4].

Big day arrives: Stalin to view finished building. As motorcade turns up, and Stalin gets out and starts his tour, architect panics - he's not sure if Stalin loves or hates it. Blurts out about the pineapples as "great Soviet triumph over Capitalism and Nature".

Stalin nods, nothing more.

Leaves.

Architect hears no more but approval, gets promotion.

Years later, Stalin is ill, suspects the end. Asks to be driven to MSU once. He views it out of the window of his motorcar and nods with satisfaction[5] that he is proud of his accomplishments, but all of the Seven Sisters, this was the crowning glory.

Soviet Moral?

Stalin loved Pineapples.

~


Punchline: estimates vary, but about 500,000 - 1,000,000 people lost their lives to forced labour building these projects.


Watchmen Rorschach - Pagliacci
Youtube: film: 0:51


[1] Not called the Seven Sisters in Russia, ever
[2] You'll note MGU not MSU. This has a reference
[3] Social status of pineapple in Capitalist countries a long running joke, then turned into meme "pineapples for all Soviets", never any pineapples in stores
[4] They're on the main roof, diagonally ingressed from the four towers to occlude viewing, but if you hang off them the view goes all the way down to the street.
[5] This part is apocryphal, you'd need to tie in the dates of completion with Stalin's illness / death

147:

They've already been pushing to make education, jobs and entertainment atemporal, so life itself won't make much difference.

148:

Is this entirely concerning fruit, or does it also (given the vague similarity in appearance) embody a reference to gadgets?

149:

It's a lesson to the current mob (who have desperately tried to scrub the actual quotations from the web but failed) about the actuality of Real Power [tm].

Something that Putin grew up knowing, then saw destroyed by 'gadgets' and TV. Don't worry, he's not forgotten (and his endorsement of Trump is... well. You work it out)

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."


Stalin loved Pineapples.

Who can doubt this?

After all, there are four very real giant statues of pineapples on top of Moscow State University.

Almost a century later.

What has America left apart from the gleaming GS tower during the power out.

Nice Try God GSelevator, Twitter.


Bush, Trump aren't even two ankles in a dusty ruin:


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”


~

But, no.

Cheney can shoot a man in the face and have him apologize, and he can invade Iraq and so on and so forth.

Netanyahu can keep spouting crap and burning olive groves (new move: herbicide along the borders, all very Viet-fucking-Nam).

But they've never convinced people that the reasons for their actions were for anything but squalid power, money and appeasing archons who ride their mind like dominating gleeful imps and who trade long life for the fear and blood they can generate.

They're not the kind of Men[tm] who can make a personal preference for fruit shape entire nations.


And no, the United Fruit Company doesn't fucking count.


And no, dear.

No Russian National imagines that Stalin actually loved pineapples.

R E A D
E
A
D

B E T W E E N
E
T
W
E
E
N

The lines.

But Pineapples do indeed exist, in glorious Statue form.

All Along The Watchtower Jimi Hendrix, Youtube: music: 4:01


~


And, close to a "fuck it" moment:

Oh WHY DON'T YOU FUCKING GROW UP


Because, my dear: you killed and then deafened the fucking whales you total psychopaths. And then did it to me.

Spoiler: You don't want me to grow up. You didn't do well with the spoon fed nonsense tales from your Holy Books.

Butterflies are beautiful.

150:

Primaries-Steamrollering Trump is an air puppet, dangerously overinflated by the anger of his supporters. Some of that anger is inspired by very real fears about their economic future, though they should be more afraid of robots than Mexicans, in the long term.

First Term Trump is probably a bumbling Animatronic Reagan, grist to the Washington Machine, shouting oversimplified solutions at intergenerational geopolitical problems involving places he can't spell. Minding the store at the military-industrial-infotainment complex, blissfully ignorant of the guns-for-oil-for-coke-for-hostages-for-bitcoins shenanigans run out of the White House Basement by nice men from TLAs.

What you need to wary about is Second-Term Trump, a pithed shell, Trump 2.0, reprogrammed, rebooted, powered by the robotic heart of Dick Cheney and directed by Kissinger's brain in a jar. We have the technology.

Those durned furriners, we've tried bombing them, and shooting them, and bribing them, and drone-assassinating them into Democracy. It just isn't working. Obviously we're NOT USING ENOUGH BOMBS. RoboTrump 2 will LIKE TOTALLY SOLVE THIS PROBLEM. Another fine OCP product, brought to you in association with Blackwater.

Srsly, it's like this US Election cycle is being scripted by mid-period Frank Miller. And the next leader of the other high-profile English-speaking nation has the same obviously-weird-hair thing, except it's real hair? It's less plausible than the implausible doctors of Holby City.

151:

And, yeah.

Romney just got resurrected against Trump.

Kids.

It's already a done deal.

TOO FUCKING LATE MY PRETTIES.

You summoned the KUK, an ancient Egyptian God not because you wanted to, but because your actions sang to the Stars above loving Chaos and Disorder and Death and Terror and Torture and FUCKING LEAD IN THE WATER AND DEAFNESS OF SPIRIT AND GIGACIDE AND MASS EXTINCTION.

Of course it's got a nice smiley face (compare/contrast the rictus grins of Hillary to the smug frog pout of Trump).

Spoilers:


He's the Frog Head, she's the Snake head.

DERP.

They're both the incarnations of the KUK.

Fucking amateurs.


~

Boom. Headshot.

The /chans/ go wild.


They're both serving the Avatar.

Janus Coin, and you can take that as revenge for our temple back in [redacted] BC.



Gimme Shelter-Merry Clayton
Youtube: Music: 3:31

~


Oh, and.

This Ride ain't even started.

Oh WHY DON'T YOU FUCKING GROW UP


You won't like it, I promise you that.

152:

Oh, "grow up".

It's about destroying the Republic, it's not about people or personalities.


153:

Like all four dualistic concepts in the Ogdoad, Kuk's male form was depicted as a frog, or as a frog-headed man, and the female form as a snake, or a snake-headed woman. As a symbol of darkness, Kuk also represented obscurity and the unknown, and thus chaos. Also, Kuk was seen as that which occurred before light, thus was known as the bringer-in of light. The other members of the Ogdoad are Nu and Naunet, Amun and Amaunet, Huh and Hauhet.

Trump = Frog
Clinton = Snake

Zule & Gozer the Gozerian

Fucking warned you.


And yes, Peanut Gallery: A-Z, 1913.


Mind Blown, #3.


~


Combat Enhanced Meta-Cognitive Mind.


*shrug*


Don't threaten or harm something you don't understand.

154:

the problem was that the rank and file members of the various parties and conspiracies got into the bad habit of assassinating any superiors who veered off the party line they preferred

The American version, the Tea Party primary challenge, is more civilized but probably not more amenable to good decision making.

155:

It has been demonstrated that these sensory and perceptual processing differences are due to enhanced basic perceptual skills,

That might be trainable, but it might just mean that a visual cortex without visual stimulus eventually gets repurposed to process sound instead. If the latter, it's probably not reproducible in non-blind humans.

156:

Nobody starts that way. Honestly. It's just that, when the Fate of the [Insert Political Institution Here] Is At Stake, then Real Heroes step forward to keep the Traitors from Destroying the One Right Way of Life, Even If It Means Doing Morally Reprehensible Things In Service Of The Greater Good...

Ack, sorry, I can't keep it up any longer.

You get the idea. There's a lot of that faux heroism running around, both inside government (cf: CIA) and outside.

Hopefully you're right, and the Tea Party will stay non-violent as it shrivels up and blows away. That would be a very good thing indeed. I picked on Japan because they were known for the sophistication and humanity of their soldiers in WWI, but by WWII they'd turned into a thoroughly brutalized army whose atrocities ranged from cannibalism (of their own, as well as enemies), and biological warfare. That's quite a fall in 20 years.

The point I keep hoping people realize is that it's not just the Democrats who have to worry about stochastic terrorism, it's the Republicans. After all, traitors to the cause are worse than honest enemies. We have to remember that, just because it hasn't happened here recently, it doesn't mean that it can't happen here at all.

157:

> This is utterly wrong when it comes to GPs.

That's funny, considering it comes from both GPs and consultants. I've done quite a bit of strategic level work in this area, and what you hear when they are being honest is quite illuminating. The level to which people don't keep up explains the desire to convert knowledge into set 'pathways' - it doesn't make them smart doctors, but it can at least stop them doing extremely dumb/outdated things.

Oh, and references to airline pilots isn't the best move. They get squashed between EVERYTHING being rote pattern matching, and the reality that their only value comes in smart behaviour when the automation can't cope (and thus the procedures can't cope either). That's why you get the majority of crashes; you test via following rote processes accurately, but quality and value is determined by understanding what the processes don't.

> Each time new, neutrally-coded labels are adopted by the group, the bigots start using it as a term of abuse. So the group subject to such abuse look for a new term that doesn't have the abusive associations (or has lost and come full cycle).

Yeah, mull that one around for little while. Let it bounce off the insides of your skull. It's almost as if, playing with words is zero sum at best, and a negative activity at worst.

Doesn't it remind you of drug policy? Where you've been doing something for decades, you know it doesn't work, yet you continue to do it and in the process create more damage than you started with. People's thoughts haven't changed, you just have more people being attacked for saying 'black' by people who have lost track of the point.

> Incidentally, using the term "racial equality" in the same sentence as "gone off the deep end" tags you, and not in a flattering way. (You might want to try some introspection for a change: what if it was you?)

See, thing is, I've been where you are. I believed, and still believe, that people should be treated equally, or at least in consequence of what they've done. However, after some introspection, I realised that the thing most holding back equality was the whole outrage machine that attacked people for what they defined, and then labelled, as racism. It had lost sight of the point, it's methods were destructive, and it was no longer sane. Over and over were examples where that machine was the heart of the problem, and it's followers were themselves purveyors of racism. Look at the 'BlackLivesMatter' rabble shutting down a Bernie Sanders rally; someone who'd done more practically, and for longer than they'd been alive.

Maybe it's the fate of all such campaigns, to become the thing they started off opposing, but it would be cowardly and not a little silly to not point up how they were now most of the problem, just because that machine would attack me as a result.

Objectively they HAVE gone off the deep end - could I suggest you use a little of your proffered introspection to consider the big picture, and if their actions now matched their supposed aim? Why do you consider someone pointing up that machine in a negative way "tags you, and not in a flattering way". Do you think its impossible for that machine to be wrong?

Personally I came to the conclusion that the machine was now a net negative; it's attacks made things worse, and that it's nonsensical roundabout of words, terms and definitions was just a way to keep the machine turning. I'm not about to change that opinion unless people can come up with new thoughts and new arguments.

158:

Presumably the weaponised memes have to be made up by people, or at least tested on people?

Were any people harmed during the Summoning Of KUK?

What replaces the destroyed Republic, and cui, if anyone, bono?

Are you asserting that the grim meathook future of humanity is not caused by individual human actors, but only by the second order effects of civilisation itself?

eg: the world-depression-inducing bogosity brought to financial systems by regulatory capture, general human susceptibility to asset-bubbles, inscrutable banking jurisdictions, high-frequency trading performed by software and systemic-selection-for-psychopathy-because-it-works[1] in investment banking.

Money ceases to be a useful tool at human scale, and becomes feedstock for an ever-more-effectively-parasitical (non|post)-human organis(m|ation) like the vampire squid.

And we end up with an inadvertent machine-assisted optimisation of the world for the benefit of power-as-capital (existing only as numbers in computers in favorable tax regimes) rather than people.

This is the western free market version of Teh Futuresuck, where the Premium Aristocracy rule through the Divine Right of Money.

If one prefers, Futuresuck is also available in Surkovian Confusing Strong State, or Bearded Fundamentalist Authoritarian flavors - ask your server for the full list.

How do you like them pineapples?


[1] There is probably already a single word for this in German

159:

The DNC is playing some shenanigans to get her made nominee using superdelegates. ... while Hillary can be smeared as the elite whose nomination was being engineered by party insiders, whatever the popular vote said. She doesn't appear to be good enough at BSing to get disensmear herself if something like this happens.

I keep thinking it will all blow up for her if she gets the nomination with 60% of the delegates but only 40% of the primary votes so some such.

And she seems totally tone deaf that people (D, R, and I) in the general election will not be happy if this happens.

160:

In the US back in the 70s and 80s it was easy to tell if the CS department for a university came out of the math or engineering colleges. You could tell by skimming the courses offered. And they taught very different things but awarded the same degree. And graduates of either typically needed a year or two of "seasoning" before they could be productive in the "real world".

Now I know things have changed A LOT since then but still from my current distant observations many of the old issues still remain.

What contact I do have these days with recent CS grads has to do with MIT and they are in no way shape or form typical of most CS grads in the US due to the way MIT teaches.

161:

Horrible idea for scares, but no.
I hope Trump wins the Rep nomination, it guarantees a Dem victory, whether it's Hilary or Sanders, because Trump is capturing say 35-45% of the internal Rep vote, does not translate across the whole nation.
As fo BoJo, this is me being sometimes out-of-touch in Edinburgh - reversed.
BoJo is becoming desperately unpopular in London - people are beginning to rumble him & his ever-so-friendly-to-the-corrupt-developers "Planning" decisions & his overblown & totally failed transport "Initiatives" (Having cancelled trams, the wanker) etc, ad nauseam.
No - IF he becomes Tory leader (which I don't think he will be) he will lose.
As long as Corbyn's utter nutters, trapped in a 1970/1917 time-warp are not the opposition by then, then we are all right (ish)

162:

Maybe it's the fate of all such campaigns, to become the thing they started off opposing
Yeah, the English so-called "Green" party - what a load of ignorant, stupid, anti-environmental tossers of the first water.

I'm given to understand that the Scottish Greens are considerably saner, not that that would be difficult.

163:

The American version, the Tea Party primary challenge, is more civilized but probably not more amenable to good decision making.

We have a Congress Rep here in NC who is going to have the TP against her. After supporting her and playing a big part if getting her elected in the last cycle.

Her sin? When it came to tossing a figurative grenade into the government vs. voting for a compromise to keep the doors open she didn't throw the grenade.

Sigh.

164:

I hope Trump wins the Rep nomination, it guarantees a Dem victory, whether it's Hilary or Sanders,

Ah, no, it doesn't.

There's a huge number of "I'll never vote for HC even if Pol Pot is the other choice." And she seems determined to alienate more and more possible votes for her as she goes along. See 124.

I'm going for BS and I think he has a chance. But his socialist talk also drives away large numbers of possible "hold my nose and vote for Trump" votes.

165:

Please note;
1: Nos 146, 149, 151, 153 appear to be content-free, again.
2: The author has publicly stated that she cannot be trusted, as in Epiminodas the Cretan. And, yes I, & I suspect most readers here too, are aware of the logical disconnect here & the ( Gödel? ) resolution of said problem ( i.e. non-verifiability )
3: Since said author cannot be relied on, at any time, why are we bothering?

I am aware that Charlie appears to be quite deliberately allowing all of this & I'm guessing it is for a semi-sadistic form of amusement, to see if the largely logical & mostly science-trained people here can cope with such rambling, disconnected & openly dishonest (*note) rubbish.
[ Do we get an answer to that? ]
Oh & please do not quote P B Shelley at me - I'm very familiar with that - it's even in my "Commonplaces" list/book, along with Tormer's lay, Shropshire Lad XXXII & Stratford Bill LXXIII

And, just to show that none of this is new:

The Signs and causes of modern ignorance:
1: Submission to unworthy and faulty authority.
2. Submission to what it is customary to believe.
3. Submission to the prejudices of the mob.
4. Submission to a false show of knowledge, used to conceal ignorance, for no better reason than pride.

written c. 1265. [ I have deliberately removed the name of the supposed author ]

Ah yes, sudden afterthought, just before posting.
Are "The Signs & Causes" as above a suitable subject for a blog from OGH as an, err, "update"?


*note) 100% unreliable, remember?

166:

The problem isn't a problem of putting things in. The problem is the incoherent junk "conversations" between two or three people taking up vast amounts of space.

167:

NOTICE

For all of those of us of a certain age [ And anyone who has come across these since ]
Bethnal Green (London) Museum of Childhood

Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog, Clangers, Firmin / Postgate

A must-see.
19 March - 9 October

168:

It mostly doesn't work like that, because the parts of the brain are too separate, though I believe that can happen at the higher levels (i.e. conscious or close to it). What happens at the low levels (e.g. sound recognition), is that the neural pathways develop better pattern recognition, and probably expand somewhat; I don't know the details.

However, your point that it probably isn't learnable by people who aren't forced into it is probably true; I have never heard of anyone doing so, and it's something that I have looked into.

169:
Look at the 'BlackLivesMatter' rabble shutting down a Bernie Sanders rally; someone who'd done more practically, and for longer than they'd been alive.
You think this would exist in that form without BLM forcing the conversation?
170:

One of the things beeing sold are courses in forecasting - are they any good?

No idea -- I'm a forecasting autodidact. (I am to forecasting tech trends as Cayce Pollard in "Pattern Recognition" is to fashion trends.)

I believe both Madeline and Karl have MAs in forecasting -- they might be able to comment effectively.

What I can say is that as a paid profession -- like economics -- forecasting cannot be conducted without at least minimal awareness of the agenda of the organization that's writing the cheques. And this includes the institutional agenda as well as the overt terms of reference.

For example, all front-rank national defense agencies employ forecasters to develop scenarios for how the world might look in 10-30 years' time for planning/wargaming purposes. This is part of their remit and I can't criticize it without venturing outside their terms of reference by asking questions like, "what if we could convince everyone to pump 20% of their defense budgets into non-armed international aid agencies equipped with the sort of heavy logistics delivery kit and specialities that we normally sent aircraft carriers and expeditionary battalions to provide?" -- Which opens up a whole inadmissible can of worms, because it would undermine the institution asking for the study to ask those questions.

(Yes, military organizations conduct humanitarian missions, and they're frequently very efficient at it because they have gold-plated budgets and huge expertise in ensuring shit gets from place A to place B regardless of obstructions -- but that's a side-effect of their primary mission, rather than the primary mission itself, and wouldn't an aid agency be more efficient if it didn't have to cart artillery and fighter planes around with it as well?[*])

So when you look at a forecasting scenario you always need to look both at the frame, and the frame around the frame -- who specified the parameters within which your study is confined (e.g. by ruling out alien invasions or acts of god as possible problems to consider) and what their political agenda is (agency would be existentially obsolete in event of aliens with clearly superior tech invading and conquering earth: commissioners don't want to rile up the evangelicals in an election year).

As a fiction author, I don't get to worry about this sort of shit. Go me.

[*] Yes, many humanitarian ops take place in contested regions, for which military units have the option of forcing entry. But for the 80% of the time that delivering tents and food and drinking water doesn't involve fighting off armed rebels in a civil war ...

171:

It depends what you mean by "degree in computer science".

The vocational stuff taught in universities is frequently well behind the state of current practice in industry, simply because you can earn quite a lot as a developer who's up-to-the-moment; folks who teach in vocational colleges have fallen out of contact with developing practice and have typically gone there because they prefer teaching to ongoing learning-driven research (which is what up-to-the-moment development work is). But this is all at the applied end of the field -- basically engineering. The theory end of the field is something else again.

Some colleges manage to do the applied engineering stuff well. They're usually the ones with big industry connections: think MIT or CalTech. And, thanks to MOOCs, a lot of their coursework is spreading horizontally so that the smarter students at second or third rank colleges aren't as far behind as they used to be.

172:

"Old Enochian" in the Laundryverse has more to do with Chomsky and his hypothetical deep grammar -- and/or the Lambda calculus -- than with John Dee. (Posit a universal language underlying mathematics and communication ...)

173:

Would you tackle near-future again, if given a chance?

The "Empire Games" trilogy -- basically "Merchant Princes: the next generation" -- is set circa 2020 and is my big fat post-Snowden dystopian surveillance state technothriller (with parallel universes and spying) by any other name. Originally due out summer 2015, delayed until at least April 2017 because reasons. Sigh. So the answer is "already done".

WRT the latest crop of Lovecraftiana I am currently reading (for blurb) "Winter Tide" by Ruthanna Emrys (Tor, due out this winter). It's very, very good ... and the protagonist is (a) female, (b) one of the natives of Innsmouth. So yeah, it's revisionist as hell (folks who think like HPL are the monsters: HPL's monsters are something much more complex and believable) and very good indeed. So yes, the mythos is clearly maturing beyond the horizons of its creator.

174:

Stalin finishes, seemingly happy, architect takes both plans back to the firm, saying nothing.

Yeah; Stalin's management style was ... singular.

Take Beria, Stalin's monster, head of the NKVD. Then read "Dark Sun", a history of the making of the hydrogen bomb by Richard Rhodes, and his description of Beria riding Kurchatov and the Soviet A-bomb scientists like the devil, then Beria's reaction to seeing first light from the first test device: breaking down in tears and crying, "we're going to live! We're going to live!"

Then Beria reputedly immediately phoned The Boss at 3am, Moscow time, to give him the good news before some other minion could get in there. Stalin picked up the phone, grumped, "Yes, I know," and hung up on him.

Terror from top to bottom.

175:

Since said author cannot be relied on, at any time, why are we bothering?

Because it's entertaining? Is it an AI masquerading as a conspiracy theorist, or a conspiracy theorist masquerading as an AI? Or perhaps a GSV-Class barber who shaves all men who do not shave themselves. Maybe HB is just what happens when smart humans are raised from birth in a permanently-connected-to-all-the-information environment.

Is the guaranteed 100% unreliable narrator fixable with a NOT gate?

Kahneman and behavioural econ in general suggests that most people, even those of a logical scientific mindset, aren't actually as rational as they believe themselves to be, much of the time.

Sound and fury, signifying nothing - even if it's irrational, and content-free, it can still work as a way to change minds, and thus reality. New developments in media/communications/surveillance technology make this sort of thing ever-more powerful. Witness the spasm of faith-based peer-to-peer meme propagation which led to the Corbynista takeover of HM's Loyal Opposition.

As a species we are underestimating the long-term consequences of this stuff. The consensus reality, such as it was, is fragmenting. Maybe this isn't a Bad Thing.

176:

I must say you're sounding very coherent for someone who's done the west-east bag drag with attached virus (or is it bacterial?).

Different question - what, if anything, do you see as the trigger for significant interplanetary (outside Earth-Moon system) industrial development. There would seem to be no physical good that's worth going up and down the gravity gradient to retrieve; the old solar power satellite idea has probably been rendered obsolete by the plummeting cost of solar cells; what's left?

177:

This week I get to write the code of conduct for Transhumanist Party officials in the UK. General intention is "be polite" plus whole swathes of behaviour that cannot be designated as disciplinary offences. And definitely no catchall of "bringing the party into disrepute". I have seen how such vague terms get used in infighting elsewhere.
BTW, since I am the enforcer I think I am being very tolerant here.
Maybe it will be rejected, in which case...
Of course, if people insist on putting a loaded gun into my hands and allowing to to point it in any direction I choose...

178:

Trump as president is Nixon rebooted

179:

Topic for discussion? The impending population crash and Human extinction.

Phase 1 - Global standards of living rise to developed world levels and fertility falls severely below replacement.

Phase 2 - Transhumanist technologies give us control over our basic desires/impulses.

In other words, we can eliminate at will everything that bothers us. Everything from physical pain, to mental pain, to unfulfilled desires (which we decide no longer to care about).
In other words, we eventually face a question that animals cannot answer because their innate programming is too biased.

Specifically, is existence better than non-existence?

180:

Given that western immense business strategy seems to involve filing off the serial numbers and repainting Soviet concepts, with the addition of "You fucked up, you trusted us!" does it seem to you that Soviet studies might be a help in navigating the grim meathook future?
BTW, the entire bomb trilogy of Richard Rhodes is worthwhile.

181:

Nothing makes quite so glad about transhumanists being overly optimistic children with little idea about the realities of the tech they so hope for than reading their ideas of Utopia and the future. The ability to edit desires such as that represents little better than an absolute end to any kind of justice, any kind of progress, any kind of improvement. It is an abomination.

182:

Well, you only care because your animal survival programming is kicking in. Time to flick that switch.

183:

"Yeah; Stalin's management style was ... singular."

And yet, Stalin almost certainly started as a starry eyed idealist.

Getting into the bolshevik before the revolution was not a career move, it was dangerous, a one way ticket to Siberia. (Indeed, I believe he was in Siberia when things went bad for the Empire). So it was not a power grab or a career.

There must be something in the exercise of power that transform people into monsters, there is no lack of examples : Mao, Unclo Ho, Pol Pot... They all started as revolutionnary idealist and ended real nasties.

Even in democraties we see that power removes inhbitions of politicians, it must be in the genes.


184:

"There must be something in the exercise of power that transform people into monsters, there is no lack of examples : Mao, Unclo Ho, Pol Pot... They all started as revolutionnary idealist and ended real nasties"

Each of those came to power through a series of eliminations of peers. I suspect that these people were monsters to begin with, as well as being revolutionary idealists. They didn't become monsters; they already were, and they ended up on top because they manoeuvred to discredit and/or murder their rivals.

185:

Cognitive dissonance? You have killed thousands to get the chance to implement your ideal society and witnesses the loss of countless comrades. You know that a lot of people do not agree with your theories but you have eliminated then and it still is not working.

Do you now accept that the theory that you have dedicated your life to, killed for and sent comrades to die for was false? That the project is a failure?

No, at that point it is probably easier to kill more and more imaginary enemies than to admit your are a monster and your life's work is monstrous.

186:

It's called not being an edgy little twerp.

187:

I disagree. Also, it was hard to pick out from your words what you were talking about.

I think you're saying that they're not monsters; they're just killing people rather than have to admit failure. To my mind, that is actually monstrous.

188:

Oops. Didn't finish. Darn typing skills.

That is actually monstrous, and cognitive dissonance alone doesn't produce that. We can see those who just have the cognitive dissonance; they refuse to believe the evidence of their senses and insist that everything is going great and that any problems are from bad elements and counter-revolutionaries and so on. Just having cognitive dissonance doesn't make one a mass murderer.

189:

Different question - what, if anything, do you see as the trigger for significant interplanetary (outside Earth-Moon system) industrial development.

Hard call.

Mining Lunar 3He for fusion reactors is basically nonsense (even the extra costs from the added complexity of Boron fusion reactors over 3He reactors pale into insignificance compared to building a lunar mining infrastructure).

Orbital solar power has a huge advantage over ground-based solar power, and that's base load -- with the correct orbital inclination it should be available 24/7. A second advantage is the ability to beam power down to wherever needs it, getting rid of lengthy grid connections, and a third is that you get maybe 2-3 times as much energy per unit area from your PV cells (no atmospheric loss). But it's only feasible if we have cheap surface-to-orbit capability. To some extent this is a self-sucking lollipop problem -- "we need cheap access to space so we can build solar power satellites; we need solar power satellites to provide a market for our cheap launch system" -- but it's not totally hopeless. Notably, it's about the only way to make solar power economically viable in places like Scotland or Siberia.

A huge problem is that human beings simply don't function well in space. Short of a breakthrough in space medicine and other fields like oncology and fixing radiation damage, we're doomed to scurry from gravity well to gravity well in search of rocky shielding -- which raises to the fourth power the already not-inconsiderable costs of Going To Space. Even a fully reusable launch system as cost-effective as a Boeing 737-900 is going to cost an order of magnitude more per seat flown to orbit than per seat flown long haul to the antipodes -- just because of the energy cost -- and then there's the order-of-magnitude-on-top for shipping sufficient life support equipment to keep the canned apes alive when they get there (until we have a full-blown off-world manufacturing base). We may well see a ticket to LEO plus a week in orbit with supplies drop below $500,000 within 2 decades, and a 4-person lunar surface excursion a la Apollo on steroids drop to under $1Bn in the same time frame, but what can we do there that's worth doing (except media/entertainment/scientific research)?

190:

This week I get to write the code of conduct for Transhumanist Party officials in the UK. General intention is "be polite" plus whole swathes of behaviour that cannot be designated as disciplinary offences.

"Be polite" is a good start, but I'm tempted to suggest one that I'm considering adding to my blog moderation policy -- "don't be cruel". Cruelty obviously covers insulting/belittling/derisory behaviour but, less obviously, it covers various other things -- bullying, indirect intimidation (for example, by implied exclusion), and a bunch of other nasty stuff that happens in communities. General intention being to create a space that feels safe to participate in.

Thoughts?

191:

Oh, that's just the beginning: the ability to edit one's own desires implies the ability to edit someone else's desires. Now hand that loaded gun to Da'esh, the Southern Baptists, J. Random Corporate Employer, etc. etc. ...

192:

And yet, Stalin almost certainly started as a starry eyed idealist.

Agreed!

That's why you really don't want to elect me Planetary Overlord.

After all, I'm more imaginative than Stalin.

There must be something in the exercise of power that transform people into monsters

Not necessarily: it might simply be that the structures through which power is exercised distort outcomes. I'm reminded of a Robert. X. Cringely piece on his experience with that jolly fellow Muammar Ghadaffi ... ah, here it is: "there will always be a Major Jalloud in Qaddafi’s Libya. And that’s why we’ve seen so far 200 protesters die in that country". ... "In order to maintain that folksiness while at the same time run a ruthlessly repressive regime, both men have been very successful in pushing down by one level the bad-guy role. The muscle starts somewhere just below the top, and in Libya that’s with Major Jalloud."

The idealistic leader may in fact remain idealistic, but somewhere below them a guy in mirrorshades will be making Hard Choices to Defend Freedom/The Republic/The Revolution (delete as applicable), and they don't feel the need to tell the boss about every body they bury in order to keep the project on track, and the boss doesn't want to ask hard questions because they might get back unpleasant answers and have to confront something that undermines their sense of identity.

(And then there are the hard-assed monsters -- Pol Pot springs to mind -- who think the breaking of heads is a necessary part of the program. But I'm much more interested in the complex edge cases.)

193:

There are SO MANY ways that transhumanism could go rapidly and steeply downhill, from Niven's wireheads to Bruce Willis' Surrogates to a Matrix scenario. What if the Matrix started out as a VOLUNTARY shared experience? As an official Old Fart, I intend to remain at Homo Sapiens Sapiens 1.0, thank you very much. I do reserve the right to reconsider when I'm a bedridden 90+ year old.

194:

"Be polite" vs. "don't be cruel" as Jesus vs. Hillel Golden Rule formulations?

"Be polite" is an injunction to follow the rules parents and teachers attempted to hammer into us about conversation; "don't be cruel" enjoins us to actually think about the effect of what we're saying...

195:

Oh no, you have got me wrong there. They are monsters but do not see themselves as so.

They have decided that their goal is worth doing monstrous things to achieve. When they fail they double down because to do otherwise would be to admit to themselves that they are monsters.

196:

From today's Wikipedia cover page:

25 February:
1956 – In his speech "On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Cult_of_Personality_and_Its_Consequences ) to the 20th Party Congress, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced the personality cult and dictatorship of his predecessor Joseph Stalin.

However Stalin started out, he rapidly mastered the use of violence and repression, via proxy, to real and imagined enemies. The more power he gained, the more he was insulated against criticism and, perhaps, even guilt. It would seem to be a self-reinforcing cage.

197:

Oh, I disagree. Nixon was an experienced politician, former Congressman, and familiar with how things get done in Washington. Trump is a salesman, and seemingly an absolute ruler of his little "empire". If elected, he would be a HUGE (he loves that word) target for Congress, and would likely receive little support from the professional civil service, or in many cases, the Republican Party, great swathes of core members he has alienated. Popularity with the public can get you elected, but that does NOT equate with being ready to lead, cajole and coordinate, none of which I see being his strengths. I predict he would be a MASSIVE (another favorite word) failure as President.

198:

It is sometimes said that the Soviets effectively gained four years on the bomb research by espionage. But it could also be argued that they effectively lost four years by way of Stalin being Stalin at everyone involved, and ended up about even overall.

199:

Topics:

What makes for a good opener to a book or short story? What makes for the infamous first line that draws a reader in?


200:

And yet, Stalin almost certainly started as a starry eyed idealist. Getting into the bolshevik before the revolution was not a career move, it was dangerous, a one way ticket to Siberia. (Indeed, I believe he was in Siberia when things went bad for the Empire). So it was not a power grab or a career.

It is my understanding that prior to WWI Stalin made his bones as an up and comer in the region mafia where he lived. He may have become it's leader. I don't remember. Seems a bit of a stretch to call him an idealist.

201:

I don't, actually. There is a difference between a starry-eyed idealist and a bigotted fanatic, some of which is explained in The Winner Effect, more by their level of sociopathy, and some by how much they revise their own opinions in the light of evidence. I doubt that you suffer from what is now called antisocial personality disorder, and Stalin almost certainly did.

202:

If Emrys work has anything to do with her "The Litany of Earth," I'm looking forward to it.

Given everything that's happened with the Empire Games trilogy, perhaps the publisher needs to hire you a witch for it as well, to come 'round and chase off all the bad luck it seems to have accumulated?

203:

That I thoroughly agree with.

Think of this operation as panning for gold, where the amount of dross is increasing quite a bit, thanks to a couple of ruminants upstream feeding on the bank and doing what ruminants do into the river.

204:

Per Rhodes, Kurchatov et al had a very good idea of how to build a bomb, from first principles: they weren't dummies and with the resources of the USSR's command economy at their disposal, they went ahead and did it.

Kurchatov had the benefit of being allowed to read intel from the spies in the US weapons program, but was under a stern injunction from Beria to tell no-one: all he could do was gently veto proposals that duplicated known dead-ends. So they didn't follow any blind alleys, but ...

... Beria was terrified of Stalin. So rather than authorizing Kurchatov to build a highly efficient gadget of Russian design that weighed less and required less plutonium, he insisted that bomb number one must be a Fat Man clone because he knew that would work, and a first-test fizzle would guarantee Beria's execution.

(Both devices were built, and both of them worked as advertised.)

So, ironically, the intelligence provided by the atom bomb spies may have actually delayed the Soviet atomic weapons program.

205:

And, I presume the original maguffin of the Laundry, that mathematics is not a model, but "real" & that Plato was correct & true "forms"" exist?

206:

I don't see that interplanetary development is feasible without a semi-autonomous, self-repairing, robotic system, and we are a VERY long way from being able to do that. Furthermore, I don't see how we can get there without the megacorporations destroying their own ecology (i.e. a functioning human society), which would have the obvious effects. In the UK, we are already seeing serious attempts to eliminate humans from the non-optional workforce, which is going to be really bad news when our economy crashes.

207:

Tufte:
There's no bullet points like Stalin's bullet-pointa" (!)
http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_pp

On the same theme, maybe a n other book by Tufte:
http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_textb

"Visual & Statistical Thinking
Displays of Evidence for making Decisions"
Um

208:

Maybe HB is just what happens when smart humans are raised from birth in a permanently-connected-to-all-the-information environment.

Or maybe it's what happens when a very spoilt & grossly attention seeking child ( no matter what the physical age ) gets access to a set of goads & does it for sheer devilment, with no end-game other than causing chaos.

And, yes, people like that do exist - usually, if they are lucky, eventually someone slaps them down, very publicly & then they usually grow up.
If they are unlucky - lets not go there, shall we?

209:

No
Nixon was sane & normal compared to Trumpy

210:

Da'esh anyone?
They believe they are doing "god's work"
Everyone else thinks they are murderous religious loonies.

211:

The opening lines of "The Stainless Steel Rat"?

212:

I don't know how to build a space economy beyond the Earth+Moon+NEO system. I mean, right now, making cubesats a product as popular as DJI drones is a hard task, and that's just with universities. Here's a goal that was predicted and hadn't been met yet: a Master's student at a well-funded university working on a Geology degree could and have a small cubesat built by a contractor that could then orbit the Moon, and then use the resulting data for their PhD dissertation. This hasn't happened. Not with Earth orbital and Solar Observatory satellites, and not with Lunar cubesats. Never mind expanding this program to the whole Inner Solar System.

213:

To expand on the uncertainty of a Trump / Clinton race.

From
http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/first-read-cruz-rubio-s-last-stand-stop-trump-n525546

If we're on the precipice of a Clinton-Trump general election, it's worth pointing out that means both parties would be nominating their most UNPOPULAR candidates. ... The unintended consequences of both parties nominating their most unpopular or polarizing figures means we are headed for the most divisive and scorched earth style general election in modern history. When you start with negatives at 50% or above, it means the only way to win is to become the lesser of two evils. It will also mean the next president will start in a deep hole, with little shot at a real honeymoon.

214:

IMHO, it is when the "God's Work" or other idealist stance is believed to justify murder that the problem arises.

Once you start down that road there is no limit to the pile of bodies.

215:

Try "98% of Muslims think that Da'esh are murderous loonies". They can't actually be "religious loonies" because they profess to be Muslim but act in un-Islamic manners so clearly aren't Muslims.

216:

OK, another stab at the original topic:

If you were given enough money to take a one-year sabbatical (and assuming your publisher was cool with you taking a year off from writing commercial fiction), what would you do?

Are there things you'd like to write that you can't because they won't sell? Things you'd like to do (or things you'd like to learn) that you don't have time for?

217:

Hmmm... I could imagine a future where someone figures out how to build basic Von-neuman machines from the kind of things you can find in the Sahara to build solar panels.

At some point I could imagine someone looking up at the moon and deciding that running the same sort of program there would make sense, funding a one-off mission to drop the first machines and plating the moon with solar PV and beaming the power at the earth.

(quick google:http://sservi.nasa.gov/articles/the-luna-ring-concept/)

Once you have robots running manufacturing on the moon and lots of excess energy mining HE3 and firing canisters of it back to earth or wherever suddenly looks a lot more economic. Though that much energy available from solar would make fusion a tougher business case.

218:

Someone implementing a von Neumann machine any time soon is a bit of a long-shot, to say the least. I'd be tempted to bet that a working p-B11 fusion device doing useful work would come first, let alone a working D-T reactor. The need for He3 rather drops at that point, especially given the effort to extract and return it from the moon.

219:

Well spotted! (And yeah, the Laundry Files McGuffin occurred to me while I was holding a loud and angry argument with Roger Penrose's "Shadows of the Mind" in the privacy of my own skull: what if Penrose was right, what kind of SFnal setting could you develop?)

220:

First line?
"Bob Wilson did not see the circle grow."

221:

Time for a PhD studentship is 3-7 years. I suspect the lead time for a Lunar cubesat mission is too long, from inception to finish: for a space mission I'd expect 1 year for mission planning, 2 years for design and launch (assuming ballast space on a booster is available for free at the drop of a hat, rather than scheduled years in advance), 1 year for data gathering, then 2-3 years for the final analysis and write-up. That's eaten your entire PhD and if something goes wrong with your primary instruments once it makes Lunar orbit you're SOL -- 3-4 years into your PhD, and re-do from scratch? No thanks!

It ought to be possible to do it faster, but you'd need, at a minimum: a bunch of pre-canned instruments that can be easily spliced onto a cubesat chassis; a launch vehicle operator who reliably reserves a bunch of cubesat slots on every flight; some sort of academic body for allocating access to this currently-scarce resource and allowing students priority access to re-fly experiments that fail; and some sort of funding for longer-than-usual PhDs. (Pitch it as a PhD and-you-get-the-habilitation/junior-professorship once you've run your very own deep space mission from start to finish.)

Otherwise it's going to be a multi-PhD long term project and you don't get to be there start-to-finish.

222:

The problem with "Muslim" is that like "Christian" or "Atheist" it is, within certain wide boundaries, a self-defined position.

Most Muslims consider Da'esh to be horrible murderous thugs who behave in an un-islamic way [the Koran has lots of injunctions about kindness, being a good neighbour, being merciful, etc] but Da'esh can point to the bits of the Koran that speak to taking slaves, annihilating your foes, and so on.

Similarly, many Christians are all about helping their neighbours, good works, and so on, and point to the relevant bits of the Bible; other Christians are all about executing witches, sodomites, and people who wear mixed-fibre shirts. The Book can be cherry-picked to provide support for both viewpoints.

As for [us] Atheists ... there is no book: aside from that one exclusion, anything goes, so it should be unsurprising that plenty of atheists are odious ass-hats (and plenty aren't).

223:

If you were given enough money to take a one-year sabbatical (and assuming your publisher was cool with you taking a year off from writing commercial fiction), what would you do?

I'd spend a year on the beach sipping pina coladas and reading junk fiction.

Alternatively, I'd shoot for a writer-in-residence gig at the MIT Media Lab.

Which do you think would be better for my long-term health and sanity, and which would be better for my short-term near-future fiction output? And which of those should I prioritize?

(Sorry, but Bear's earlier blog essay about burn-out applies to me. I had a near-brush with a nervous breakdown due to exhaustion and overwork last spring, and I'm not out of the woods yet. That beachside cocktail bar is looking really attractive right now!)

224:

Beria was terrified of Stalin.
|Given what had happened to his predecessors, Yagoda & Yezhov, this is, err ... hardly surprising

225:

See also: why aneutronic 3He fusion is a shibboleth.

((a) We can't build a reactor capable of those temperatures yet (an order of magnitude higher than D + T fusion), and (b) even if we could, Boron works nearly as well as 3He and is lying around in great piles here in Earth, so why go and wreck the moon by open cast mining on a continental scale?)

226:

Power is the problem. A Lunar cubesat is 240,000km from home and is maybe 15cm on a side. The energy budget for something that small to provide even one-way communications just isn't there. It MIGHT work if there was a Lunar communications satellite relay network of the sort in orbit around Mars, but there isn't.

The nearest thing to a cubesat that's gone to the Moon would be the SMART-1 probe which had large deployable solar panels, needed in part because it was powered by an ion engine. Even so communicating with it required steerable-dish radio telescopes, not something a poorly-funded cubesat group could reasonably expect to get access to on a regular basis.

OTOH I've worked with AMSAT in the past and communicating with a small satellite in low Earth orbit isn't too difficult.

227:

"No true Scotsman"
This is a persistent failure of religions & religious thinking, you should excuse the expression.

228:

Oh, here's another topic:

A comparative evaluation of different scotches.

I'm not versed in scottish tax law, but maybe you could even write them off as "Business expense (research)"

229:

Which do you think would be better for my long-term health and sanity, and which would be better for my short-term near-future fiction output? And which of those should I prioritize?

Long-term, definitely.

So no desires to write poetry, take up bagpipes, etc? :-)

230:

Happiness and mental health in the developed world seems oxymoronic as so few regardless of class, creed or color possess it. I don't think keeping it "simple" is the only way to achieve said state(like, oh scenic Bhutan - the happiest place on earth...says the king). Yet, with all our tech, money, convenience, and relative leisure, where are the smiles and self-actualized? What "is" worth doing? Who is really keeping you from doing it while being happy?

231:

Look up Raw Spirit, where Iain Banks very emphatically covered that ground in his own inimitable way.

232:

So no desires to write poetry, take up bagpipes, etc? :-)

Well, I have just bought a JamStik+ bluetooth guitar tutor/training device, and am trying to convince my sobconscious that it needs to take up a musical instrument, but it's hiding in the corner whimpering right now ...

233:

I had a roommate who was a real space cadet type. He'd get an urgency in his voice that was just short of scary when he'd say things like "The time for space commercialization is now!"

This was in 2009, 2010 or so. He expected we'd have major commercial operations in orbit by "2015 at the latest."

He would get genuinely confused and frustrated when I would suggest that maybe strip mining the moon was a bad idea, since it would wreck the view for all of us in favor of some wealth for some of us.

He also was vocal fanboy of President Jackson, which says a lot.

234:

Paging Albert Camus. Albert Camus to the white courtesy phone...

235:

I rather enjoy giving the thorium breeder molten salt reactor (LFTR) fanboys reality wedgies, especially the Real Soon Now types who orgasm over the latest Memorandum of Understanding or vague handwaving report about the possibility of one of the wing-dragging brochure companies in the lists getting some sort of funding from someone, anyone.

Bend metal, pour concrete and then come back and tell me about it. Until then, phtbbbbt!

236:

In the best case scenario, Trump may be able to pull off a Schwarzenegger, and I could live with that.

That's hugely optimistic to even contemplate. When Trump took South Carolina, and not only took it but positively trounced Cruz in a state where he was supposed to be competitive, I had a vertiginous spin of horror that I haven't felt since I was homeless.

I'm updating my passport, and the thing that really sticks with me is that when I told my (trans) friends about this, they all nodded and thought it was prudent. They're all getting ready to leave, too. Muslims and Mexicans will be first on the chopping block, but there ain't a hate movement out there that hasn't eventually gotten around to trannies.

Schwarzenegger had a pragmatic streak, certainly, but he didn't kneecap it by coming to power on a tide of bigotry. Politicians are notorious for breaking their promises, but in truth most of them at least try to keep their campaign pledges. If Trump keeps even a handful of his (vague, but overtly threatening) promises, the US will become an acutely worse place for anyone who isn't within a very narrow demographic band.

237:

But! But! But! We had a salt reactor and the mean ol' government shut it down! If we just go back and read the old notes, surely we could have a mature industry by the end of next year! /s

238:

Okay, here's my stab at the actual topic of the thread:

What's an average Scottish household look like in 2116?

239:

What's an average Scottish household look like in 2116?

No fucking idea.

It depends on far too many variables to even guess at an answer. For example: is our current carbon binge really destabilizing the Greenland ice sheet, and if so, is the outflow of freshwater sufficient to overwhelm and shut down the North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation? If the answer to that question is yes, then the answer to your question is "icicles". Scotland loses the gulf stream and temperatures drop on average by 10 degrees Celsius -- it goes from "temperate" to Siberian with a side-order of "keep this up for a century and the glaciers will be back". (Actually, they won't be -- global warming overall will eventually tilt things back towards the warm Mediterranean end of the spectrum, but by then it'll be too late.)

Again: does Englandshire vote to leave the EU, and if so, does Scotland quit the UK and rejoin? What does this mean for immigration? What happens to Scotland's energy industry? (Our oil is running out but we already produce most of the UK's renewable power and have 25% of Europe's tidal power capacity.)

Nope, too many imponderables. I could write scenarios that make certain assumptions about outcomes, but they'd run the full spectrum from rainbow-farting singularity unicorns to "The Road" was optimistic.

240:

Nothing makes quite so glad about transhumanists being overly optimistic children with little idea about the realities of the tech they so hope for than reading their ideas of Utopia and the future. The ability to edit desires such as that represents little better than an absolute end to any kind of justice, any kind of progress, any kind of improvement. It is an abomination.

As I understand it from talking to Buddhists, they also think it a good thing to edit desires. From the Wikipedia article on Taṇhā:

Taṇhā (Pāli; Sanskrit: tṛṣṇā, also trishna) is a Buddhist term that literally means "thirst," and is commonly translated as craving or desire. Within Buddhism, taṇhā is defined as the craving to hold on to pleasurable experiences, to be separated from painful or unpleasant experiences, and for neutral experiences or feelings not to decline. The Buddhist tradition identifies taṇhā as a self-centered type of desire that is based in ignorance.[...]

Taṇhā is said to be a principal cause of suffering in the world. Walpola Rahula states: "According to the Buddha’s analysis, all the troubles and strife in the world, from little personal quarrels in families to great wars between nations and countries, arise out of this selfish ‘thirst’."[...]

The third noble truth teaches that the cessation of taṇhā is possible. For example, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta states: "Bhikkhus, there is a noble truth about the cessation of suffering. It is the complete fading away and cessation of this craving [tanha]; its abandonment and relinquishment; getting free from and being independent of it."

Which seems very reasonable to me. If you can edit out your cravings for food, pretty clothes, praise for your clever blog posting and so on, then you don't stress yourself and others trying to achieve them, and everyone's happier all round. (And you don't risk being reborn as a hungry ghost.)

241:

Now that a machine/software has beat a human at Go, it's time to find out if a machine/software can win the affection of/raise a kitten. Until such a software is available, transhumanism has no connection with being/remaining human.

242:

Go back to Voltaire
"We should always tend our garden"
Maybe a "garden" is a metaphor, as well as a real possibility?
As you all know I tend a real garden, but also a couple ft (easy at this time of life) mental "gardens".
Is that the supposed secret?

243:

Until such a software (for raising a kitten) is available, transhumanism has no connection with being/remaining human.
So true
I find Dirk's postings on this subject deeply alarming.
Trasnhummanism is rapidly transmogrifying itself into a (possibly) autocratic & cruel religion, always for the theoretical best possible outcomes for people, of course.
Such attitudes will, very quickly result in a pile of corpses.

See also Charlie @ 222 ...
Atheists do not (except in very rare circumstances) kill or torture in the "name" of atheism - that is what religion does - it's one of my classic markers for communism-as-a-religion: You can tell by the body-count

244:

That is a Hard Problem. Unless the offence can be well defined it can be horribly abused by The Management in exactly the way you just described. Vaguely defined offences become ammunition in faction wars.
Then again, we are talking political party. It's not the kind of organization where thin skinned people want to climb the greasy pole.
One possible addition I am considering is adding something like: "Any behaviour that most people would consider grossly unethical". Plotting the end of the Human species excepted, of course:)

245:

"Don't be needlessly cruel" would be my preference.
The Golden Rule sounds good until you encounter someone like me who has a high tolerance for Pain In The Line of Duty.

246:

There were some practical secrets that probably saved the Soviets years of work. When Britain was frozen out of the US A-bomb project our scientists neglected to abscond with all the necessary info. One piece of which was what material to use to effectively cast a Plutonium pit. Took us 2 years to work out it was Cerium Sulphide IIRC.

247:

Trump is smart and unprincipled and plays to his audience. The most dangerous kind of US president is the opposite, like JFK or Reagan who actually believe the BS they are spouting and have Right On Their Side.

248:

Among Muslims worldwide IS has support in the tens of percent. The majority, in some nations.

249:

Doesn't matter if Penrose is right. If he is then all we do is add the correct quantum computational elements eg synthetic microtubules as co-processors. Of course, there is an unspoken assumption that conscious=consciousness and there is no qualitative differences between types.

250:

"Until such a software is available, transhumanism has no connection with being/remaining human."

Personally, I have no desire to be/remain Human. Being Human is grossly overrated IMNSHO.

251:

I was asked to write a chapter in a forthcoming book, so I dumped a rather personal view of "Why I am a Transhumanist".
The end paragraph:

"So what's coming and what can you do?
Well, what's coming is the end of Humanity this century, one way or another. There is no “business as usual” option. I would prefer it to be a smooth and peaceful transition to a glorious world of freedom and transcendence rather than a terminal apocalyptic nightmare. Which do I think it will be? Well, let me toss this coin...
So, what can you do? Choose one, and make it happen. Choose life over death and love over fear. Or not. There is no bigger issue facing Humanity.
Whatever happens, we are going to get what we deserve."

252:

I can't say whether having an exit plan is wise or not, because each person has to make that decision, ideally without leaving an online record that can be traced to them, if they're that worried about their safety.

That said, I hope to little green apples that every American who's updating their passport and prepping a bug-out bag also takes the time to vote, get involved in local, regional, and national politics, and do your damnedest to put sand in the gears of the bigots, so that you don't have to run for your life come December.

253:

Within Buddhism, taṇhā is defined as the craving to hold on to pleasurable experiences, to be separated from painful or unpleasant experiences, and for neutral experiences or feelings not to decline.

But that is exactly what transhumanists like Dirk strive for. They want total control over their experiences. Whereas Buddhists teach to accept any experiences when you encounter them.

Another difference is that transhumnists want a technology to edit desires and buddhists offer teachings to control your desires.

˜

If the problems of humanity could be solved by technology, humanity would not have any problems anymore.

254:

You're describing existence and not sentient life.

Until you know what your key reasons for being alive are (regardless of form), you have no way of determining whether you've achieved your goal. These reasons will likely include the how & what that such a life is supposed to be like.

I'm familiar with Banks's Culture. IMO, what makes Culture AIs interesting is that they have unique personalities. Each Culture AI is able to interact at physical, emotional and intellectual levels with sentients/humans. The transhumanism I've read about does not show any interest in keeping unique human identities intact. And, there seems no interest in examining how this leap from machine to sentient should happen. (Better circuits/computing power alone are not enough ... what are these circuits supposed to be doing?)

255:

I'll let you into a little secret: all of it has very specific meaning & intent. And it's all true. The joke is that I have to state it's unreliable, because reasons (and those reasons are to allow people to shrug off the implications and ignore reality and stay in their caves).

Even when a large example of the Apollonian / Dionysian divide is presented, with a not so subtle mirroring, I'm not about forcing people out of their caves (and the shadows on the wall will whisper and turn the fear toward me: that's fine, that's part of our role).

That's ok.

~

Read #89, and by that I mean really take an hour or to to understand what the opening of Victory over the Sun was intended to do (hint: it's an early form of alief formation, a very serious / po faced attempt to head off the future gigacide. That's what distinguishes it from DaDa; it failed, of course).

~

So, let's look behind the curtain, shall we?

1: Nos 146, 149, 151, 153 appear to be content-free, again.

#146 Does five things:

1) It's an apocryphal tale that only certain Russians know, and those who share it work in certain parts of the apparatus. Just knowing it says something about the author.

2) It's an example of how cognitive dissonance and Power / anxiety functioned in Stalin's Soviet. The important part of the story is the cousin-secretary move. Information in a Conspiracy based society works on such connections, as does (real) Power. Trump's wedding - Clinton guests. Capice?

3) It highlights the Russian sense of fatalistic / black humor of the generations that grew up under Soviet life. Russians are funny people underneath it all.

The other two you can work out for yourself.

#149

1) Putin / Mirrors / Reality - c.f. Adam Curtis on the subject; Cheney and co claimed that they were pros: Putin just went out and proved it.

2) It's a signifier to the ugly Peanut Gallery that I know their ways, and I'm a little beyond them. This format:

SPOILERS
P
O
I
L
E
R
S

Is used somewhere and by a certain type of person.

3) It fingers the real culprits - GSElevator is a joke account (that was good about 4 years ago) spoofing GS, and then you have Jimi singing that tune.

Again, there's a few more in there.

#151

1) Romney is the Cantor response. (Remember that from Davos?) It won't work.

2) As someone rightly pointed out afterwards, Trump / Clinton is going to be a bloodbath. That's why KUK was mentioned.

3) The KUK thing really is a serious issue: pyramids and inverted pyramids and all that entails / entrails. It doesn't matter if it's actual, the virtual is what is being played with, and the Chess Game is being played deadly seriously.

4) Ask yourself who started the KUK thing. Wasn't me guv'nor (but it was a Mind like mine, with rather less ethics).

Fill in the other one for yourself.

#153

Relies on understanding the structure of why and how I moved from the 4 poets prefacing The New Sun and made a nice meta-web that's very beautiful, but with a huge warning attached.

It's a shame you can't see it. Structurally it's quite simple, with 4 then 2, 2, 2 and so on.

It's a love letter to the person who sowed the seed of it. Of course, said person will likely never read it or follow the chains or map it or even know it exists, but there we go.

~

Oh, and spoiler: this isn't the weaponized version.

This is the nice polite fluffy version (again, re-read #89: We are arming the world against ourselves / We are organizing the slaughter of scarycrows) that's a bridging attempt between a few different worlds.


*shrug*


I'm not the one who made Trump happen.

256:

Can Greenland shut down global thermohaline circulation?

My best guess is no, not at the level you're talking about. What it can do is stall it for a year or two. This makes things rather interesting, because you get an outflow of fresh water (thus jamming the downwelling phase of the circulation, which depends on really salty, heavy water sinking into the abyss). This raises sea levels and temporarily buggers the Gulf Stream until it dissipates. I'm not sure how long temporarily is, because we're talking about a big chunk o' glaciers floating into the North Atlantic, but I do suspect that storms will help stir the surface and integrate the waters.

The upshot is that North Atlantic temperatures are likely to stagger, generally being a bit lower than global temperatures, then warming faster to catch up.

In any case, I agree, a Scottish household in 2116 is hard to forecast. I'd guess they'd be wearing kilts, these being easier to manufacture on simple looms. What fabric those kilts will be made from is what I can't guess, although I'd suggest cotton or hemp, rather than wool. Maybe goat silk, if you're into that sort of futurism. They might well wear a sgain geal rather than a sgain dubh, with the handle made out of a Millennial's thighbone, these being rather too common on the ground. And we won't talk about what they're making their pipes from...

257:

I agree that Trump is a consummate huckster, but I'm more than slightly worried about giving the nuclear football to a man with no restraint whatsoever.

It wouldn't totally surprise me if Trump was the 45th and final President of the United States.

258:

Facts the LFTR boosters skip over a lot:

Thorium (Th-232) isn't fissile, in needs to be bred into U-233 which IS fissile. This is not an option, it is the only way the reactor can be powered by pixie dust^W^Wthorium. Some LFTR boosters think otherwise because ORNL ran a molten-salt reactor for a few years intermittently fifty years ago and THORIUM!. But ORNL never ran their molten-salt reactor with thorium, they used U-233 and later U-235 because it was never a breeder.

The neutron economy for a thorium breeder requires two neutron collisions to release energy, one neutron to breed and another to fission the U-233 nucleus. A U-233/235 fission event releases on average about 2.2 neutrons but one is needed for the next breeding event and another for fission. That means the core can only waste one neutron in every five fission events, the other ten have to hit something important. That means a small hot dense core, usually running at about 700 deg C or higher with all the engineering excitement that entails, not to mention the intense radiation and neutron flux which simply adds to the fun and maintenance headaches.

Basically a breeder reactor that moves its fuel around to work properly is a Bad Idea. The only successful power station breeders have been the Soviet, later Russian BN series which tend to use solid metal fuel rods in a pool of molten sodium. Thorium need not apply.

259:

As it's been mentioned by her of the many identities, is the Book of the New Sun, the finest literarary work of SF Ever, I am defining litererary to mean exactly what I want it to mean
Did get some awards from the SF community, but not the literary one
Fairly sure it would have won a big name literary author the Nobel
The Urth archive was a wonderful resource, it's the only place where I felt more stupid then when Charlie explains what Accelerando was about

260:

"with the handle made out of a Millennial's thighbone, these being rather too common on the ground. And we won't talk about what they're making their pipes from..."

I rarely find people more pessimistic than me.

261:

Evil men could be destroyed, but nothing could be done with good men who were deluded

To say you don't understand me is a given: be careful of shouting too loud, I know who the Shadows on the Wall of the Cave are.

And I know why they told you what they did.

Oh, and let go of that hate. Fear leads to Hate and Hate leads to the Dark Side...

J I-P kinda gets it. The more links / intricate parts, the less graaar and pain I have when reading it.


~


The sad thing is: we didn't even do the German Baroness, she was the interesting part or get to see why the porn was important. (Oglaf, Everton, Incase are all producing rude / crude but delightful stuff. Joyous, even).

262:

" In the UK we have Maplin, which is much the same thing except that it sells components at more or less normal prices, instead of up to 10 times normal as Tandy .."

We also we have RS components - once known as Radio Spares - there really isn't a problem with supplies of Stuff for Yooths that intend to build a Back Yard Space Ship powered by an Anti Gravity Machine.

Though you do have to find the right page in their catalog for the Appropriate Stuff ..

http://uk.rs-online.com/web/

263:

"The idealistic leader may in fact remain idealistic, but somewhere below them a guy in mirrorshades will be making Hard Choices to Defend Freedom/The Republic/The Revolution (delete as applicable), and they don't feel the need to tell the boss about every body they bury in order to keep the project on track, and the boss doesn't want to ask hard questions because they might get back unpleasant answers and have to confront something that undermines their sense of identity. "

I'm not sure Gaddfi is a very good example for that :
the "sense of identity" of these people includes farming young school girls for "body guards" (Gaddafi) ? or opera dancers (Mao, Kim Jon Il), or the bolshoi (Stalin) ?
That's hardly "clean".

I still believe power is very corrosive for the human mind. Even if the influence of courtier and other ambitious servants must not be neglected
, people in power get very fast a sense of entitlement on steroid, and this sense of entitlement is something that can be seen even at fairly low levels of power.

264:

The "nuclear football" doesn't let you initiate a nuclear strike at whim -- just retaliate in event of certain well-defined criteria being matched (mushroom clouds over the US, basically). To initiate a nuclear attack requires a bunch of intermediate steps including the Joint Chiefs, the Supreme Court, and a Senate committee or two -- for which, thank Nixon (whose drunken rantings about nuking China so terrified everyone that extra safeguards were brought in to make that kind of thing impossible in event of a future POTUS-gone-mad scenario).

265:

I can't say whether having an exit plan is wise or not, because each person has to make that decision, ideally without leaving an online record that can be traced to them, if they're that worried about their safety.

The nature of my job is such that this particular ship has sailed, and in fact disappeared over the horizon. There is basically nothing substantive about me that Uncle Sam doesn't know. If I'm genuinely scared of the Feds--and under Trump, I would be--then my only chance is to get out of US territory and stay out until conditions improve. If I was truly paranoid, I'd go full Snowden and find a place to stay in Russia, but since I have no intention of directly provoking the security apparatus, I don't think that's necessary. But an 8 year trip to Germany/Denmark/SomewhereElseInNorthernEurope? You betcha!

That said, I hope to little green apples that every American who's updating their passport and prepping a bug-out bag also takes the time to vote, get involved in local, regional, and national politics, and do your damnedest to put sand in the gears of the bigots, so that you don't have to run for your life come December.

Oh absolutely. But as I said in a different discussion with a different circle about this, my particular location limits my options for realistic opposition. Both Oregon and Washington (my local states) have primaries that are late enough in the process as to almost be formalities. Oregon and Washington are both safe Blue states in normal years, but this isn't a normal year, so come general election time I'll be banging on doors. Until then, there's not much to do but sit, and wait, and save up what travel funds I can.

266:

Qaddafi sent his son to the LSE.

Although there was later some stink about plagiarism / ghost writing to the PhD (which, in political circles, is akin to torturing a live fox and expecting the entire greenhouse not to shatter), there was a reason for that.

You know, that entire African / ME educated in the UK thing. Worked out nicely for Jordan.

The French and the Americans (for different reasons) decided to shatter that, but hey. (Ignore the oil findings in North Nigeria, nothing to see here for the French side, and the USA side is a simple case of "DO. NOT. FUCK. WITH. US." and revenge served cold and the Plan for the New American Century).

~

@Het

My best guess is no, not at the level you're talking about. What it can do is stall it for a year or two.

Citation needed.

This is not the current view of the majority of scientists on the ground measuring it.

In fact, the on-the-ground view is "HOLY FUCK BALLS THIS SHIT IS SERIOUS".

That may, nor may not be, a direct quote after a few drinks.

267:

"sobconscious"

Fraudian slip ?

If your sobconscious doesn't want to have anything to do with getting those chords right, can I suggest painting. Uses different areas of your brain, relatively cheap and able to be done in an Edinburgh flat, and if you by chance manage to create anything half good, can be hung on the wall.

Oh, and I thought you were anti warm weather, and thus beaches (with of without pina coladas)? Unless you are thinking of Scottish beaches, which paints a whole other picture...

268:

@Host

This is a dangerous and coy one, but hopefully the porn sources show my actual sympathies here, and you did ask about what would be interesting.

Discussion:

Spotted on the Redshirts blog a while back, comments about your own (private) sexual leanings (with understanding of being married).

Given the FemBot frustrations of never finding a mate and so forth:

Question: barring the obvious Laws etc, to what extent (if any, puppies ahoy), do you think that SF / Fantasy has shaped the acceptance / sexual tastes of millennials and is it healthy?

Did the OverPr0n window shift due to the writing, or just reflected other societal shifts?


Feel free to dip into the wild, wild, wild throngs of Tumblr as well (that will *really* break Greg's noggin).

269:

April,

Don't take this question as me judging your decision. It's your life, you know best.

What makes you think Trump is anything more than the average Know-Nothing/extreme isolationist? I mean, these are the people who vetoed the US joining the League of Nations and then more or less banned immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe from entering the US. They didn't deport the Poles and Italians who were already here.

To lay my cards down. A lot of the people I grew up around are now his supporters. Some are childhood friends. I talk to some of them still.

270:

What makes you think Trump is anything more than the average Know-Nothing/extreme isolationist?

He's saying things that I thought you could not say and survive in American politics. He's being blunt where you're supposed to be coded. The party establishment is freaking out, which makes me think that all the stuff the GOP does to avoid following through on the right's worst impulses (because to do so would be bad for business, natch) will now be inoperable.

Worse, the longer he stays in the race, the more the GOP voters start to like him. Even voters who initially recoiled start to say they'd accept him as the nominee. His economic proposals are populist enough that he could be broadly appealing to a disenchanted white electorate, and that could give him more room to operate. I think he's either activating and normalizing latent racism that voters initially didn't want to admit to, or people are deciding they're tolerate the racist tactics* if it advances populist economic goals that are popular among the GOP base. Racism is the wellspring of all American bigotries; I may be white as the driven snow, but I'm extra queer and a country which accepts the level of public bigotry that Trump is displaying to take residence in the White House is a country that would eventually come after me, one way or the other.

Ultimately, I think there's only a 5% chance or less that he'll go the Full Hitler route that he's been hinting at. But I give it 75% that the quality of life for everyone outside a particular demographic group will go sharply down under a Trump administration. Many of my civil rights protections, for example, come from easily-reversed executive orders, and there is currently a huge anti-transgender legislative push underway at the state level that is primed to break out into the Federal conversation any week now. As a Federal contractor, I don't think it is at all unrealistic that I could simply be fired out of hand under a Trump Administration, for example.

As for your friends? I'm sure most of them are good people. Given the state of play, I think we can suspend Goodwin's Law long enough to observe that Germany was not inhabited by millions of serial killers when Hitler came to power, and yet...

*I honestly do not care if Trump himself is racist or not. I think it's 100% plausible he's just saying what he needs to say to get ahead. I also think it's 100% plausible that he'd do whatever he needed to do to stay ahead, even if it meant trampling human rights wherever he could find them.

271:

Got a source on that? Because as far as I can tell from a quick search, the entire process looks like 1) President gives order, 2) SecDef confirms order, 3) order is transmitted to silos and subs, 4) missiles launch. The whole process is designed to work within a 20 minute window based on ICBM flight times from Russia at any hour of the day or night.

Granted, deliberate misuse of nuclear weapons is the mother of all impeachable offenses. That may or may not be relevant after the fact.

272:

"Until then, there's not much to do but sit, and wait, and save up what travel funds I can."

You don't have time to sit and wait. Unless you already have working/residency rights set up elsewhere - you need to be looking now at where you might be able to move to, and figure out how to finesse that in terms of visas etc.

If you think that you may need to get out (and you may), this is your window of opportunity to get that option organised. Hopefully it's an option you won't need, but if you don't take concrete steps to organise it, you probably won't have it.

273:

Calm down.

That's not how this works. It's not how any of this works.

The PTB don't give a flying fuck if you're FTM, MTF or a lesser spotted dalmatian. Even Stalin didn't care if you were a transvestite as long as he had the dirt and you knew he had the dirt. [*cough* FBI Hoover *cough*].


They care about certain things - and Trump is the answer (JUDAS GOAT) to getting to where they want to be.

Essentially, you're viewing a Koch driven power-play with lashings and lashings of meta-drama. (Trump: sets himself up with the "Obama is a Muslim with no birth certificate" etc).


~

The assassination jibe?

Smart money says that's how they do it.

~


Oh.


Yeah, of course they'll kill you.

But they have 4,000,000,000 brown people to kill first.


Not. Even. Joking.

274:

Ref: Alvin Alley, The Two-Mile Time Machine

The thing you're looking for information on is Dansgaard-Oeschger Cycles.

The tl;dr version (per Alley, anyway) is that, during ice ages, the North Atlantic has three metastable states (ice, maximum ice, and ice free-ish). Alley thinks this is caused by an unstable ice sheet forming in Hudson Bay (the entire bay ices down to the bottom), but then geothermal heat caused the bay to purge, dumping all the ice into the North Atlantic, where the large influx of freshwater shut down the Gulf Stream and global thermohaline circulation (which depends on salty water sinking into the abyss off Greenland), causing the ice sheet to start reforming. The entire "cycle" (there's so much variation that some argue it's stochastic, not a cycle) runs a mean of under 1500 years, with the warm-up happening on a decadal scale.

The temperature jump during the purge of the ice is around 5-8oC, or about what we're facing now, over about the same scale. This is good news, in that D-O cycles happened a bunch of times during the last ice, and they didn't cause a mass extinction. The problem now is that we're jumping into a new thermal regime and staying there for awhile, so it's a different set of challenges. Still, we can hope and pray that our biota's previous experience with migrating to deal with a chaotic climate will stand us in good stead, especially if civilization collapses and plants and animals can move without being constrained by borders and fences.

ANYWAY...what happens when bits of the Greenland ice sheet break off into the North Atlantic? We know that the North Atlantic right now is anomalously cold--if you look at world thermal deviation maps, it's the one place that's colder than normal. Is this sufficient to totally jam the Gulf Stream? I'm guessing no, at least not on the scale of a D-O cycle, because that took a Hudson Bay full of ice, if you believe Alley.

My guess is that the melting ice will cool off the North Atlantic, and it may occasionally make the Gulf Stream wobble. That complicates the warm-up, making temperatures seesaw, which isn't good for migration, but I don't think we'll see a replay of the Younger Dryas. That might be my ignorance speaking.

275:

Any ideas about what the US would use for its brain power should DT become POTUS? I ask because I figure that at least 50% of US university STEM grad students and post-docs are 'foreigners'. That's a lot of brain power to lose.

USians often mention the Manhatten Project as evidence of their ability to come up with ultimate stopping/killing power. Funny thing that ... the Manhattan Project would not have been possible without the willing participation of scientists from other countries.

Reminds me of the ST:NG Pakleds episode ... 'We are smart! We look for things. Things that make us go.'


276:

Oh.

Yeah, of course they'll kill you.
But they have 4,000,000,000 brown people to kill first.

Not. Even. Joking.

And you think I should want to stick around and wait my turn?

Like I said, I think the Full Hitler scenario is only a on our way to that 5% that I think are the real trouble.

Since I'd already been distantly toying with the idea of living overseas for a while, it seemed like now was the time to get serious.

277:

Crap, the italics formatting didn't work on that one. Pretend I start speaking at "And you think..."

278:

And by didn't work I mean my dumb ass put the closing tag waaaay to early. Whoops.

279:

Charlie,
Seeing as it seems you're tired and sick, I'd be quite happy if you just posted some pictures of cats and took a few days off.

It might not quite be sipping pina coladas, but I'm sure you've earned a few days of sitting in a comfortable chair, drinking tea, and reading junk fiction.

280:

From talking to my friends, there's a belief that there are far more PhD and post-doc positions open then there's demand for it in the private sector. That was the answer I got whenever I asked this question. They used the fact that the salary didn't significantly rise "outside of Silicon Valley" as proof.

As to what the US will use for brain power, I don't know. It depends on whether a ban on foreigners would pressure the companies to lobby at the state and local level to fix the disparity in school performance? That being under a Trump administration, it might be limited to the Midwest, Appalachia, and the Rust Belt.

281:

Thank you for your response. I'd like to say that your fears are overblown, but I'd be lying.

282:

"Another difference is that transhumnists want a technology to edit desires and buddhists offer teachings to control your desires."

No, Buddhists offer technologies eg zazen

They are just difficult to learn and take a long time, and only for a self selected elite. I say fix the mental problems directly using the best tech available. I expect Siddhartha Gautama would agree.

283:

I rename you Dominic Bruere, then.
After all, you predecessor was doing it for the good of all & the greater glory of ($_Theocratic-Object) & still approved of the murder & torture of many thousands.

284:

Got ANY EVIDENCE at all for that statement?

I might agree that certain, err "muslim" governments might view Da'esh as a useful arms-length toolm as guvmints have over the ages, used "dissident" groups as destabiliser for their enemies ( Imperial Germany & Lenin, anyone? )
But actually agree with their aims & ideals, I seriously doubt

285:

Ah the religious end-days are upon us, embrace "Jesus" ( or Mahmud or $_Loony-Preacher right now for a better future.
Yeah.
Right

We know where that leads.
I have stepped off that road, entirely, it's why I'm an atheist.
You are an evangelical deist. ( I think )

286:

AH now you are claiming to be reliable, but unreliable because of $_Big_Monster_Guvmint/Shadowy_Agency?
NOT buying it.
Most of us know who the others are here & I'm damned sure the "security" agencies really know, if they can be bothered to be interested ( Dirk, sorry Domininc may be the exception here )

Nah, you are posturing again, & I don't believe a word of it.
Including your long "explanation" esp. regarding Russia etc.
"All Cretans are liars"

287:

I know who the Shadows on the Wall of the Cave are.
DO YOU?
Really?
Then fucking well tell us, straight out & stop posturing.

All Cretans are Liars

288:

Scottish Beaches
There you go.
And there's places like Tiree the sunshine island.

289:

I think you might be surprised as to how unconcerned I am with other people's sexual preferences, unless, of course, it involves me ...
"Breaking my noggin" is harder than you might think, or in your case emote.

Did you read my earlier post # 165?
And cause #4?
Submission to a false show of knowledge, used to conceal ignorance, for no better reason than pride.

Which is what you appear to be doing, as well as being a Cretan.

290:

Also Greg at #227

I see what you mean; I'm now going to cite http://progressivescottishmuslims.blogspot.co.uk/ as one of my sources.

And try to withdraw gracefully, because I don't want to have a religious debate, particularly not about a religion that none of the debaters subscribe to!

291:

GODWIN alert
A lot of the people I grew up around are now his supporters. Some are childhood friends. I talk to some of them still.
A lot of the minority of the German population who voted NSDAP in 1933 thought that, too ....
Or the many supporters of Musso, in Italy, 10 years earlier - & I think Trumpy is closer to Musso than Adolf, incidentally

292:

Get to Canada.
THEN get to Europe or Australasia.
No, Canada won't be safe, long-term, anyway ...

294:

Those foreigners in the US will have Green Cards &/or dual citizenship.
To be safe, they must:
1: GET OUT
2: Renounce Green Card
3: Renounce US citizenship.

It can be done.
"The boss" has come across several such & according to her, the number is growing, slowly, as things start to head down the pan.

295:

Cats
Our last Norwegian Forest/Birman died last year, peacefully. Unfortunately, it appears that she left a notebook & "sir" has been reading it.
Oh dear.
The food-theiving & tricks are getting worse.
He had a veal joint, in it's casserole, out of the oven & on to the floor ( & I thought I'd wedged it in - he probably got his paws into the handles .... )
He's learned, all of a sudding, to leap accurately off an half-way stage into the niche in the upstairs book-shelving by the light-switch to grab the milk-jug CRASH! - milk everywhere, happy kitty.
Taken pasta in wrappers of 3rd shelf in Pantry & played with it on hall floor ...
Showing interest in Cyanistes caeruleus which were referred to as "the en-croute-lets" when Hex was alive ... oh dear, what next - more squirrels?

296:

Taken in isolation, that's the mechanics. What you're missing is context. (N.B. I started my USAF career doing strategic planning for ballistic missile warning. Knowledge of our response mechanism was required.)
Nuclear response (we do NOT do first strike planning) is either Launch on Warning or Launch Under Attack. Both require verifiable notice that a nuclear strike is inbound. Warning of ballistic missile launches (either land-based or submarine launched) is via a combination of geostationary satellites observing in the short end of the IR spectrum, and ground based radars positioned astride the great circle routes from known Russian and Chinese launch areas (plus intelligence assets that I will not discuss). This procedure of requiring two different sensors to detect a strike is called dual phenomenology. The overall system of systems, including command and control systems to transmit the data, is called the Integrated Tactical Warning/Attack Assessment (ITW/AA) system. It is designed top to bottom and front to back to rapidly detect and verify threats to (for strategic strikes) North America.
Much of the same equipment is used for what is called theater (as in theater of operations) warning to deployed (aka outside the US) forces and to allied nations (which I will also not enumerate).
The system you described is designed to use this warning to RESPOND to an inbound attack. I will reiterate that I am not aware of ANY first strike nuclear planning undertaken by the Department of Defense.
You should also consider that US soldiers are trained to obey lawful orders, and to question those that they consider unlawful. OK, sometimes people don't have the courage to stand up to superiors, but often they do. I cannot in all seriousness imagine a scenario where a unilateral decision by a President to start a nuclear war would be carried out by the nuclear command and control chain.

297:

Oh, God :-( Why are so-called hard scientists so bone-headed about probability and statistics? We still have people blithering about sunspot cycles. I am, of course, referring to the way that ARIMA models cause apparently cyclic phenomena, and that 'true' cycles are simply ones where the random term is negligible. Anyway, let's ignore that.

My understanding is that the cause of the Younger Dryas and similar was not simply that the circulation stopped, but that there was a southerly current of Arctic water past Europe. The expert consensus seems to be that the circulation may weaken and behave erratically (possibly no longer reaching northern Europe), leading to increasingly unsettled weather rather than extreme cold. More and stronger storms, floods, and miserable summers. But why on earth say that future kilts will not be made from wool, but cotton or silk (hemp I can believe)? What IS Scotland's total cotton and silk production?

298:

My understanding is that the main reason for USA citizens renouncing their citizenship and all that is that banks etc. won't deal with them, because of the onerous expatriate tax laws. It's not directly political.

299:

Except it is directly political.
Only N Korea (I think) treats its legitimate expatriates in the manner of the US w.r.t. personal taxation.

300:

Question: barring the obvious Laws etc, to what extent (if any, puppies ahoy), do you think that SF / Fantasy has shaped the acceptance / sexual tastes of millennials and is it healthy?

(redshirts blog: no idea what that is, my filter bubble seems to think it's about Thai politics.)

Huh. I'm not sure. I think it goes back further, though!

Sex was basically a total taboo in written SF prior to the late 1950s, but exploded messily all over the genre in the 1960s -- it was the theme of the decade ("we're allowed to talk about teh sex! SEX!!!!1!!ELEVENTY!!!"). While in retrospect a lot of this was inevitably just heteronormative softcore, a whole shitload of taboo-breaking-for-the-sake-of-it went on, including stuff that with 20/20 hindsight was important: depictions of futures where Things Were Different covered everything from futures where interracial marriage was unremarkable, through the first overt looks at cultures where LGBT relationships were normal, and so on. Second wave feminism hit with a bang in 1968, for those with eyes to see it, too.

Upshot: this may have been the boomer generation of SF readers and authors examining their own urges, but it formed the background for the Gen-X readers to grow up into -- one in which speculation about the future shape of society and desire was just as reasonable as speculation about life on other worlds, or robots, or the usual stuff.

Don't underestimate the importance of being able to write about stuff without censorship, or of being able to read about cultures where things are different, to someone growing up in a pre-internet world: it's really easy today to have no inkling of just how constrained our knowledge, never mind our choices, were, as little as three decades ago.

On the other hand, you shouldn't overestimate the popularity of spec-fic in the population at large. It was out there, sure, for those who read fiction and went in search of the disreputable and obscure corner in the second-hand bookshop -- but you could easily miss it: the whole cultural juggernaut of SF in visual media (TV, Film, computer games -- which didn't exist back then) was absent.

Hmm. If you want to get a handle on that time, you could do worse than read Jo Walton's "Among Others" -- a novel that won the Hugo and would be pepper spray to the puppies if they'd heard of it, which beautifully depicts growing up in the UK in the 1970s and reading SF/F as it felt, from the inside.

301:

If we're going to ask OGH for lists of books, how about books that are a good read now but that will be unreadable in ten years time, with reasoning for why?

Basically, what's worth reading now before the social context around us changes.

302:

Source: a JAG officer involved in US nuclear planning. Personal communication.

You are correct about the 20 minute reaction -- but that's only to a confirmed attack.

To initiate a first strike from cold against a target that hasn't first attacked the United States is a very different process that has been intentionally recomplicated to place it beyond the scope of a simple executive order.

303:

Turkey appears to be using Da'esh as a proxy to fuck with the Kurds -- note also that Turkey is going through a Strong Man phase as Erdogan tries to set himself up as Ataturk 2.0 (only minus the secularism).

Saudi Arabia appears to be using Da'esh as a dumping-ground for their angry young remittance men, but has gotten serious about not tolerating that shit back home -- although this is also in part an internal power-play as Muhammad bin Nayef maneuvers for position (the new crown prince, not a direct son of Ibn Saud). To some extent AQ and Da'esh are side-effects of Saudi domestic policy, at least insofar as there's a tension between the kingdom's roots in radical Wahabbism and its administrative need to run a very rich (and deeply corrupt) despotism.

Finally, Da'esh -- in Iraq -- is the ultimate consequence of George W. Bush's Excellent Adventure. How to fight terrrism, Dubya style!

305:

"You are an evangelical deist. ( I think )"

I'm more pragmatic.
If God does not exist we will build it or become it.

306:

" it's really easy today to have no inkling of just how constrained our knowledge, never mind our choices, were, as little as three decades ago."

Two decades ago. Most people did not get on the Net before 2000

307:

"Question: barring the obvious Laws etc, to what extent (if any, puppies ahoy), do you think that SF / Fantasy has shaped the acceptance / sexual tastes of millennials and is it healthy?"

That's a really nice question. Due to work, timezones etc I'm doing a little catchup here so I know there's comments afterwards (including from OGH) which I haven't read yet, but I thought I'd say thanks for an interesting thing to ask.

308:

You are missing something here. The Turkmen (13% Iraq pop) are being ethnically cleansed from Kirkuk (home of 20% of Iraqi oil) by the Kurds. Often in lock-step with IS attacks on the Turkmen population.

309:

These pages have crap evidence. If you drill down to the actual data, you won't find more than single digit support for Da'esh/ISIS in most countries (UK seems to be an exception – but if you're asked to decide between Tories and Da'esh maybe one shouldn't be surprised if the Tories don't win by overwhelming majority).

310:

Of course the Turkmen would say that. Doesn't mean it is true, though.

311:

I will note that the site Dirk links to is basically a anti-muslim black propaganda site. They won't publish stats that can't be spun to look bad.

First rule of internet data-trawling: look for the man behind the curtain and figure out what his agenda is!

312:

Your last sentence is about as plausible as the claims that Al Quaeda (and, later, Da'esh) were being supported by Iran. As far as I know, those claims of ethnic cleansing are mostly propaganda by Turkey and its allies, but perhaps you have some independent evidence?

313:

Yes, but the next question is what chance there is of a procedurally improper order being accepted, including accepting a dubious claim of attack or assuming an 'opponent' that has not been identified as the attacker.

314:

"Which do you think would be better for my long-term health and sanity"

The beach.

"and which would be better for my short-term near-future fiction output?"

MIT.

"And which of those should I prioritize?"

Well, that's for you to say, but since you ask, I'd say the beach.

315:

I know that.
The second is to follow the sources and find out who added the lies misinterpreted the data.

316:

Oh yes, good old RS... somewhat surprised they're still going, given not only their tendency towards Tandy-esque (if less extreme) pricing, but also that until quite recently they stood out as being far more of a giant pain in the arse to order from than anyone else. They were several years behind everyone else in setting up a usable website to order from; thirty years ago they were still the option of last resort even for a business customer of the size of GEC. My go-to has been Farnell for a very long time now.

The US seems to be rather better off, as far as I can make out from the internet comments of people building things and the websites of US suppliers. There seem to be plenty of RS-type outfits, a distinctly greater availability of semi-exotic items from surplus suppliers, and even various Edgware Road type shops scattered around the place and still surviving.

317:

"rainbow-farting singularity unicorns"

DO IT! A description of such a Scotland - with every step in the evolution from here to there a plausible one - would be excellent.

318:

Life. Is. Too. Short.

Current state: editing/production on two Laundry novels in one pipeline and three Merchant Princes (remix as near-future SF) novels in a different pipeline.

What I am supposed to write next: another goddamn space opera.

What I want to write next: a near-future Gothic haunted house novel, or a supervillain novel.

Chances of me writing about the singularity from a non-satirical/mocking perspective in the near future: zero.

319:

In this specific case, I've done a little reading, which means I'm not fully invested in the argument. Alley appears to be on one side, and AFAIK he's proposing something that looks a lot like a deterministic mechanism for a cycle based on how long it takes the Hudson Bay ice sheet to heat up and destabilize. On the other side, at least one other researcher looked at the temperature proxies in the ice and said that the signal for D-O cycles varied so much that it looked random.

I don't have a strong opinion either way, aside from noting that: a) there's strong data for big and relatively frequent temperature shifts in the Greenland ice cores, b) they're still arguing over the mechanism, or at least details thereof, but c) they're not arguing over the amplitude.

Some think the Younger Dryas was the last gasp of the D-O cycle process.

As for why cotton kilts in Scotland: they might be premature in 2116, but with temperatures 5-8oC warmer, there's no reason not to grow cotton or hemp in Scotland. It's headed towards a climate more like that of current South Carolina, where they (used to) grow a lot of cotton and varieties of Cannabis sativa. The silk was a jab at those transgenic goats that express spider silk proteins in their milk, because, you know, 2116 is SFF territory, and I can almost imagine a frugal Scots small-farmer milking his goats for silk to weave into a kilt...

320:

"Until such a software [for raising a kitten] is available, transhumanism has no connection with being/remaining human."

I disagree with SFReader here. To quote from Nick Bostrom's page on "Transhumanist Values":

Transhumanism is a loosely defined movement that has developed gradually over the past two decades. It promotes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condition and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology. Attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
This definition doesn't require that the only enhancements be ones that replace all the software in our brains. In fact, it does not, interpreted strictly, require any software at all: writing, books and spectacles would all be covered.

Personally, I have no desire to be/remain Human. Being Human is grossly overrated IMNSHO.

It has its shortcomings, as the burnout thread showed. I once wrote an essay on this for Dobbs: "Why I Want to be Transhuman". It's a lament for all the beautiful structures produced by evolution, mathematics and art, that without cognitive enhancement there will never be time to experience.

321:

It therefore behooves us to recall that Dirk is not the only transhumanist and his views are certainly not representative.

Pigeon - if we could crowd source say 50K pounds for Charlie to have a year off, you might have a chance at your story.

322:

What I want to write next: a near-future Gothic haunted house novel

Oooh. I'd like that one, please :-)

323:

On that theme, and featuring Peter Firmin artwork ..

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/153238/ivor-engine

"may contain sheep"

324:

Pigeon - if we could crowd source say 50K pounds for Charlie to have a year off, you might have a chance at your story.

Hm. What would fit cost to have Charlie write a novel of his choice, including paying for an editor he wants to work with on it? Would £50k cover it?

325:

Oooh. I'd like that one, please :-)

Me too, but contracted work comes first.
I was about to suggest a goddamn Gothic Space Opera. It's been done, but I'm sure a Stross version would be a good read.

326:

I have probably done less reading than you, but I do know something about such processes, and have looked at the (sanitised) data and some of the claims of there being a cyclic phenomenon. Let's be academically polite and call them unsubstantiated and open to dispute. I agree with your other comments.

On the other matter, the predictions I have seen indicate that Britain's summers are likely to be wetter and windier, rather than consistently warmer. Global warming does not imply local warming. Even excluding the temperature, I doubt there is enough sun for cotton - that excludes at least as many tropical and even subtropical crops as do our low temperatures. Goat milk silk I can swallow :-) And we know that Scotland can produce lots of wool!

327:

"Thorium (Th-232) isn't fissile, in needs to be bred into U-233 which IS fissile. This is not an option, it is the only way the reactor can be powered by pixie dust^W^Wthorium. Some LFTR boosters think otherwise..."

Anyone who does think that is someone whose opinion can be safely ignored on the grounds that they don't know what they're talking about, and is not a useful contributor to the debate.

"But ORNL never ran their molten-salt reactor with thorium, they used U-233 and later U-235 because it was never a breeder."

They got the 233U from... breeding thorium. It doesn't occur naturally, and breeding thorium is the only way to make it that is even remotely practical.

"A U-233/235 fission event releases on average about 2.2 neutrons"

2.44 for 235, 2.5 for 233. 233 also has a higher fission/capture ratio (around 94% as opposed to around 85%) than 235. Its fission cross-section for thermal neutrons is 513 barns as opposed to 585, ie. slightly lower. Its critical mass is roughly a third that of 235. As a fission fuel it is noticeably better.

(Corresponding figures for 239Pu are 2.9 neutrons, 73%, 750 barns, and roughly a fifth.)

"...the core can only waste one neutron in every five fission events, the other ten have to hit something important. That means a small hot dense core, usually running at about 700 deg C or higher..."

No, it doesn't. Such a core is what is needed for a fast reactor, in order that enough neutrons will hit something important before they've lost too much energy by hitting other things. The reason for doing this is that fast fission produces more spare neutrons than thermal fission, and this is necessary to build a 235U-fuelled 238U->239Pu breeder that produces more fissile material than it consumes, because of the lower production of spare neutrons from 235U thermal fission.

However, that particular breeding setup, while it is naturally the first one you hit upon when you're playing around with uranium, is also the hardest to get going - its fuel is that which produces the smallest number of spare neutrons, and its breeding material is that with the smallest neutron capture cross section. It is the only one for which a fast reactor is a necessity - and even then, only just; a thermal reactor can still get over 0.9 breeding events per fission.

A thorium breeder can be made to get going using thermal fission of 235U, because the neutron capture cross section of 232Th is over twice that of 238U. And once you have made some 233U with it you're even better off.

"Basically a breeder reactor that moves its fuel around to work properly is a Bad Idea."

It is an idea with significant advantages. The fuel can be reprocessed continually, on the fly, on site: you're not taking it for walkies any more, you can extract the contaminants as soon as they're formed, and you can also extract the intermediate (particularly important for 233Pa with its "long" half-life compared to 239Np) as soon as it's formed so it doesn't undergo further neutron captures. The reprocessing is simpler and produces less waste because you're not cutting and dissolving fuel rod cladding before you can even get at it. You also avoid the various structural/mechanical embuggerances to which fuel rod systems are subject - risks of overheating and melting at high power densities, rods distorting, swelling, splitting and so on leading to an additional limit on how long you can leave them in for beside that based on nuclear transformations.

"The only successful power station breeders have been the Soviet, later Russian BN series which tend to use solid metal fuel rods in a pool of molten sodium."

Those are fast breeders producing plutonium. That type of design tends to be a pain in the arse because of the extremely high power density which makes it very susceptible to any minor irregularities in the coolant flow. Molten sodium is also both chemically nasty, and radiologically nasty as it becomes a powerful gamma emitter. "Successful" is a bit of a stretch, given the length of development time on them and their low numbers compared to the enormous size of Russia and the Russian enthusiasm for nuclear stuff and cavalier attitude to its less desirable effects.

328:

Quite. Or a supervillain space opera. The same comments apply.

329:

If you'll excuse me commenting on your question, I don't think Charlie is really up to speed on the world of SF as it is now, or not enough to come up with some books that fit your criteria.

Apart from of course the golden oldies from the 20th century, but then you've probably read them altogether. Anecdotal comments from File 770 suggest that many/ most people in their mid-20's and younger bounce hard off most of the 20th century "classics" in SF, Heinlein, Clarke etc etc. They are just incomprehensible in every way, culture, setting, technology.
We may actually be at some sort of singularity in terms of SF readership. I and people I know who grew up in the late 20th century all read what was available, which was basically a centurie's worth of SF, but it seems the 21st century young reader is more selective.

So perhaps the social context has already changed, and in a mere 10 years won't be much different.

330:

Oh, if you want editors and publishers and marketers involved, then add some more.

331:

Eh, I didn't mean right now :) I know fine you're overloaded. Just that if it did happen, at some unspecified future date, to make it onto your want-to-write and time-to-write lists concurrently, then I for one would buy the result.

332:

Well, I'd be up for contributing - but (see 314) I'd prefer it to be going towards Charlie having a year to spend on the beach.

333:

Tough, it ain't selling -- all the Big Five want is moar space opera.

NB: I just got off the phone with my agent. This has been the most turbulent month in my writing career, business-wise, since, oh, some time in 2003 and I'm in full fasten-your-seatbelts-the-ride's-turning-bumpy mode. Hopefully when it all settles down again you folks -- the readers -- won't notice any significant changes for the worse; but right now I need to go and lie down and gibber quietly for a bit.

(Speculation on this comment is discouraged and may be unpublished if it annoys me.)

334:

Scotland used to be warm enough to grow weed; I remember coming across an article yonks ago about the discovery of some several-thousand-year-old weed pipes. This of course implies higher temperatures than simply growing hemp for fibre.

What I see as more of a problem (partly because I don't know enough to have any ideas about it) is soil quality: how long would it take to get the quality up enough to grow more demanding things than sheep food?

335:

Matt Taibbi's most recent take on Trumpalism in Rolling Stone...

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-america-made-donald-trump-unstoppable-20160224?page=13

.. yes, the Donald is shamelessly exploiting xenophobia and racism, but that's only part of the story. His attacks on his competition for the nomination are succeeding because a lot of it is actually true, and Clinton is a tailor made target for more of the same.

"The triumvirate of big media, big donors and big political parties has until now successfully excluded every challenge to its authority. But like every aristocracy, it eventually got lazy and profligate, too sure it was loved by the people. It's now shocked that voters in depressed ex-factory towns won't keep pulling the lever for "conservative principles," or that union members bitten a dozen times over by a trade deal won't just keep voting Democratic on cue."

... although bear in mind that Taibbi is long time a fan of Sanders ...

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/inside-the-horror-show-that-is-congress-20050825

336:

Yea I had already noted Erdogan's "very clever" move (which may turn out to be very stupid - one can but hope) & not-so-covert use of Da'esh as a means of crapping on the Kurds.
If Saudi isn't careful, their exported revolution may come home to bite them.....
There simply is no faction at all that I can see involved in the Syrian Water War that is even remotely near being labelled "the good guys" [ Possible exception for the Yazhidi? ]

337:

If God does not exist we will build it or become it.
What arrogance, what hubris.
I suggest you might need to read the Laundry files as a textbook.
Euw

338:

What temps does it need? They are already growing sweetcorn in south England, not sure if using greenhouses or not, and we used to have lots of htem up here. Now we have lots of polytunnels for soft fruit.

339:

how long would it take to get Scotland's agricultural land quality up enough to grow more demanding things than sheep food?

Could do it this growing season, as long as we only use arable or cattle farming country and rough hill pasture, and grow crops that will survive a maritime temperate climate.

340:

Also, you can get in the sea re soil quality comments.

We have some really good arable land on the east coast, a fair amount of it, some as good as the best in England and elsewhere. The sheep stuff is in the hills, it's just we have rather a lot of hills.

341:

Supervillain could be "fun".
No shortage of ready-made cardboard cut-outs to use from "real life" fortunately for the writer, unfortunately for the rest of us ...

342:

Silk-producing goats?
Get in touch with the Roslin institute - it's right up their street!

343:

Go & cuddle the cat & "F", both.
That might make you feel a little better?
Then take yourselves off for a quiet beer or two.
Rinse & repeat once a week or so ...
Good luck, looks like you (& we) are going to need it.

344:

This is also where we get into the weed(s) with the carbon farming and regenerative agriculture crowd. They claim to be able to produce great top-soil through thoughtful, selective grazing and other such practices in a decade or less.*

Note that this isn't totally stupid, as what they're doing is using things like electric fences, frequently moving cattle, chickens, pigs, etc. to keep pastures manured and building soil therefrom without them being overgrazed, and so forth. It's not clear how they do this without electric fences or a lot of fences, but some farmers are doing it.

Some martial artists also use aikido successfully in street brawls too. If you know anything about aikido, you might see some parallels between successful regenerative farmers and street-ready aikidokas.

Cutting out the snark and looking at the real world, there are some neat techniques from places like Mexico that might be successfully adopted to improve hill soils for agriculture. Whether the highland laddies go for them depends on little things like breaking up some of those big estates and undoing the Clearances, but that's just a "minor" political issue...

*Your results may vary.

345:

"What arrogance, what hubris."

You omitted the exclamation mark, but than you anyway. For some reason I seem to lack your Christian humility.

346:

Some varieties of Sweet-Corn will grow out of doors here, especially if sown/raised in a greenhouse.
Most years I get quite a few heads, provided the squirrels don't eat'em first!
LOTS of "corn" grown for animal fodder for use during the winter months.
Hemp needs warmth to germinate properly - once it's growing reasonably, it can be planted outside as a summer crop,
Lots of things will grow like that here - tomatoes, peppers ( though the latter often do better in spray-irrigated polytunnels ) & some beans like a "running start"

347:

"It therefore behooves us to recall that Dirk is not the only transhumanist and his views are certainly not representative."

Quite true. The more conservative elements, who are usually into grant seeking, ponder the possibility of extending Human lifespan by maybe ten years or so, later this century. And maybe one day in the far future developing an AI that can stroke cats etc etc yawn...

348:

"...those claims of ethnic cleansing are mostly propaganda by Turkey and its allies, but perhaps you have some independent evidence?"

Only first hand stories from a woman from Kirkuk who is now in the West trying to publicize the plight of her people.

349:

Oh, no. Most British rough hill pasture would need significant attention to grow crops effectively' it would need deep ploughing to break up the iron pan, and extensive liming and fertilising. Cannabis is NOT a tropical plant (despite growing well there), possibly originating north of the Himalayas, and sweetcorn is unripe maize; growing the latter here on a large scale became feasible only a few decades go, with the development of short-season varieties, and even so it is a rare year that it ripens enough for flour or seed.

350:

"Would £50k cover it?"

Nowhere near. Charles earns a couple million or so every year and £50k would barely cover his vintage champagne and pizza bill.

351:

I don't know any actual figures, but while it grows fine in natural conditions in southern England it doesn't produce useful amounts of THC, whereas in the warmer parts of the US it does.

Sea comment accepted: the bits of Scotland I've seen for myself haven't been very arable, but the east coast is a bit that I'm not even familiar with from pictures.

352:

I definitely remember the coastal part of Aberdeenshire being heavily agricultural as much as stock grazing. Lots of fields of some kind of grain being harvested in September. Weather seemed better too.

353:

I note that Tabibi has also noted the similarity to Musso.
Oh dear

354:

And for any other US inhabitant wanting to escape
START HERE

355:

In September, that would be maize for fodder, unless it was a long time ago. However, please don't confuse the two areas; there are areas of low-lying, largely alluvial, soil in Scotland and northern England that are suitable for arable crops, but the rough grazing is on the higher ground, and it most definitely is not. It needs extensive effort even to produce pulpwood timber, generally costing more than the crop returns, and that is about the only thing that is widely planted.

356:

Yup, up Aberdeenshire way is fairly good mixed farming, but the real killer is simply being so far north. 500 miles further south it would be much more heavily used and more productive, but the seasons and growing conditions are just that bit worse that far north.

Pigeon- you need to see the east coast. Apart from being the more civilised part, there's some nice countryside and villages and castles and the like.

Interesting factoid - a chunck of Aberdeenshire, due the quirks of geology, is actually the land surface as it was hundreds of millions of years ago, the rock that was desposited on it having been removed by erosion over the years, leaving the hilly landscape that we see today.

357:

Okay, I forgot to add that Dirk considers his way the best true way to post-humanism and the others are rubbish.

358:

I'm assuming any help that Charlie wants is included. The whole point is to get a really cool book that we wouldn't otherwise get, while helping Charlie desires because he's writing what he wants to.

So naturally I'd include an editor of Charlie's choice, to take a chunk of the load. :-)

359:

I'll agree with that. D-O cycles make a great story, but even though I'm at best middling in thermodynamics, something seems that doesn't quite make sense about Alley's theoretical mechanism, and the "cycles" look awfully noisy to me too.

As for how hot it gets, the world as a whole is getting hotter, so we have to specify a time period when we're talking about future trends. I agree that Scotland in 2116 might be wetter and windier, but it's going to become warmer in the future too.

As for improving highland soils, both the Mexicans and some of the guys doing regenerative agriculture now started with little to no top soil on heavily eroded slopes, and have put back a goodly amount of top soil, so they're not blowing smoke. It's doable. If you use cattle, though, you've got to become a "grass farmer," whose main task is growing good pastureland, and keeping it grazed just enough to get some money out of the animal products without trashing your pastures. To pull this off, you'd better be good at logistics and multivariate algebra. If you do it the Mexican way, you're in for things like terracing, "damming" runoff gullies (things like trenchilas aren't exactly dams, but it's the idea of getting the sediments to settle out of running water in gullies and ravines), and using nitrogen-fixing plants and trees (and ideally nitrogen-fixing trees, which would be alders in Scotland) to improve the soil. It looks like alder agroforestry is something the Nepalese do, so research would definitely be needed....

In all these cases, a lot of smart, heavy manual labor is involved. In modern industrial ag, this necessary input is often in shortest supply.

360:

Nowhere near. Charles earns a couple million or so every year and £50k would barely cover his vintage champagne and pizza bill.

I think Dirk is joking there, but just in case anyone believes him: nope nope nopety nope this is my pet nopetopus:

On the other hand, I have 20 or so back-list books and the royalties add up, even if each book only averages £1K/year: add another novel on top every year, with a full advance -- even if it's not bestseller grade -- and I have no complaints.

361:

With advancing technology, how should civilization approach the rights of possible future engineered sentient beings? How should we be laying the philosophical and legal groundwork now? Animals uplifted through genetic modification and cybernetic artificial intelligences are just a start. If you could do artificial wombs like Brave New World, but use them to produce something technically not quite human, but close enough, couldn't you create a bunch of slaves to fulfill your every fantasy? If you could modify yourself as well, would these sub-beings not be useful and pleasurable much like appendages? At what point would the police come in, what would be their grounds for arrest, and what would be done with the released captives, who have never known anything else?

362:

I was considering just the mathematical properties of the feedback loops and the observed data. Anyway, even if Scotland gets warmer in summer (which is uncertain), wetter weather means less sunlight. Not good for crops.

364:

Ok, here's a taste:

http://glitterlovesdragons.tumblr.com/

I challenge you to read the first page or three then look up all the terminology and come back not screaming / gibbering / raving or having a more violent reaction to them than you have to me.

Old Gawker guide on Otherkin 2012. Not very accurate, but will serve as a primer.

Tulpa Forums Mind hacking without limits (!)

And, a taste of the push back:

#Transethnicity, or the dangerous Tumblr myth that Rachel Dolezal brought to life Fusion, June 2015


Oh, and your list of four does show something: in five years you've not updated your wet-ware ;)

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2011/05/radioactive-turd-meet-punchbow.html#comment-138714

~


Anyhow, for Het - old cycles are likely bad models for things going forward (Time is a factor):

Dr Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute in California, said there was a growing body of “pretty scary” evidence that higher temperatures in the Arctic were driving the creation of dangerous storms in parts of the northern hemisphere.

Arctic warming: Rapidly increasing temperatures are 'possibly catastrophic' for planet, climate scientist warns Independent, 25th Feb.


365:

Let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend. Just Do It.

And yes, you ARE going to get Uplifted Raccoons!
Meet your new boss after I upload and enhance:

https://catmacros.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/6.jpg

366:

"Redshirts blog" might be a very oblique reference to Whatever/Scalzi.

367:

Thank you for the recommendation - that one has been on the "ho hum" list for a bit, picked it up then decided against it.

Will give it a go.

Oranges are not the only fruit was my reaction, but that's almost mainstream these days.

368:

Ah yes... Otherkin.
For some reason I am being punished by being given a life sentence on the Planet of the Retards

369:

Better response:

What happens when someone takes them seriously and starts studying exactly what they're doing to their Minds and so on. (Opens Mental Room - ah yes, the Parallax View Montage clip has been linked already).

370:

Not to be pedantic, but I'm talking about how global temperatures rise, not what happens with storms. I totally agree that we're going to see more and bigger storms. If you happen to buy my little book, you might even see reference to January hurricanes and the like.

What's happening now, though, as best I understand it, is two-fold:

1. The thermal gradient that drives the Jet Stream is growing less (it depended on a cold Arctic and a warmer temperate zone). As the Jet Stream weakens, it does two things: it gets slower, and it wanders more, like any big river. This is one reason that Arctic weather keeps slipping down into the eastern US. But it also means that storms that get caught up in the Jet Stream cruise through slowly, dumping more precipitation.

2. Then there's the Hadley Cell Boundary (and note that "Cell Boundary" is as much of an oversimplification as "D-O Cycle," but that's climatology for you), which is currently around the latitude of Ensenada and headed north. One problem it *seems* to be producing is persistent high pressure, especially in the Pacific, where it's steering rain north, away from Southern California. I don't think anyone's got a good grasp on the mechanism, but AFAIK, it involves things like warm water evaporating, producing high pressure areas, making it harder for northern storms to head south, but ultimately (through that warm water) making it possible for tropical storms to head north.

What will northern hemisphere weather look like when we've got warm poles, little or no jet stream, and warm oceans? As a non-climatologist, my wild-assed guess is that there will be a lot of big, wallowing tropical storms, especially in the summer, with the edge of the Hadley Cell and deserts at the worst of it up to the latitude of San Francisco (~38oN. Think Palermo or Athens in Europe). At a guess, we're talking around 2300-2500 CE for this kind of weather. Of course, if the oceans warm up more slowly, it gets more complicated, and...

...Actually, it's probably not marketable yet in the SFF world, but I'd point out that a lot of the tropes about invading/colonizing an alien planet using what the 20th Century imagined as futuristic technology really could be retooled to technological civilization trying to colonize earth in the 22nd Century or thereafter. Perhaps the kids these days don't understand Clarke or Heinlein, but I think they get climate change, and talking about how the present can colonize the future is one way forward, especially given how alien the future looks at this moment, even without transhumanist concerns and the like.

371:

By the time that happens we will be well into the shit and fan Event. Do or die.
Do you want to be an innocent bystander or collateral damage?

372:

To which I'd suggest Modesitt's Forever Hero trilogy, which required an immortal with Motivation to sort out the environmental problems of Earth, bankrupting a multistellar empire in the process.

373:

And maybe one day in the far future developing an AI that can stroke cats etc etc yawn...

An AI that can stroke cats better than a human would be a very good thing to have around. Having met a lot of bad cat owners, I am sure that many cats suffer stress because of how they have been reared and kept. It's high time their care was turned over to something with more understanding of the feline condition.

374:

You may not want to remain human, but is the basic human not a proven way to produce a standard adult capable of making responsible decisions? Might one possible response to transhumanist technologies be legal structures banning the creation of unnatural beings but allowing natural adults to modify themselves? Given such restrictions, how would villains try to get around the rules? Would they find ways to mass produce 18 year old normal humans brainwashed to "voluntarily" want to become whatever mutated modified form is currently in demand? Of course they would, they do it now just at a lower tech level.

375:

Anecdotal comments from File 770 suggest that many/ most people in their mid-20's and younger bounce hard off most of the 20th century "classics" in SF, Heinlein, Clarke etc etc. They are just incomprehensible in every way, culture, setting, technology.

To which the only sensible retort is one made by a critic, possibly Clarke, when writing about people who are put off from reading The War of the Worlds because of its setting. If you can't handle the strangeness of hansom cabs and frock coats, how can you possibly cope with a truly alien culture?

376:

A fair answer. Nevertheless, it does seem to be happening. Moreover, a truly alien culture would surely be a different thing. A human culture where nasty things happen to other humans surely triggers various responses which a truly alien one would not, or rather, in the latter case the responses can be more clearly seen and accepted as being human centric and simply different.

This was in the guardian today, mentions people who live happily enough despite hearing voices all the time:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/26/mental-illness-misery-childhood-traumas

I suppose at least you could say they aren't convinced they are hearing the voice of god.


377:

There are also a small minority of people who hears voices that tell them to smarten up, stop wasting time, learn new stuff and get a good job etc. They seldom come to the attention of psychiatrists.

378:

My guess would be uncanny valley effect. Almost right is more jarring than completely different. I don't even blink at wormholes or energy weapons or resurrection boxes. But if you show me an elite military institution using VHS tapes I'm going to side-eye the scene like crazy until I remember when it was made.

379:

You may not want to remain human, but is the basic human not a proven way to produce a standard adult capable of making responsible decisions?

Given this list of cognitive biases, probably not. Given the bad cat owners I alluded to just now — which includes one who showered his cat every week because he believed it needed regular cleaning — also probably not. Other examples: global warming inaction, BRExit, cruelty to children, over 1000 UK road deaths each year.

Given such restrictions, how would villains try to get around the rules? Would they find ways to mass produce 18 year old normal humans brainwashed to "voluntarily" want to become whatever mutated modified form is currently in demand? Of course they would, they do it now just at a lower tech level.

I don't have any first-hand experience there — the only villains I think I've met are small-scale ones such as shoplifters, lumber-jackers, and the odd "it fell off the back of a lorry Guv" type.

380:

Do we have such wondrous things as standard humans making responsible decisions? Where are they being kept?

381:

Yes, that's a good way of putting it.

382:

I don't believe I am an otter. I certainly don't dress up as one. On the other hand I have been calling myself one for decades. So which one of me is correct?

383:

Nice totally-not-oppressive language there, Dirk. Mainstream society has long treated people like shit for having mental disabilities.

Anyway I'm probably out of my league here; but I suspect you're looking at people who are rebelling against an oppressive system, in as personal a way as they possibly can. If society wants to shape you into something that seems wrong, why not run screaming the opposite way? Why not use your own psychology as a form of civil disobedience?

384:

"Some varieties of Sweet-Corn will grow out of doors here,..."
Sweet-Corn is another reason you don't want raccoons, let alone uplifted raccoons. They will eat your sweet-corn, typically the night before the day you were planning to pick it. In the morning of picking day, you will find piles of corn-less corn-cobs, neatly shucked and eaten.
I grew up with a multi-year father+sweetcorn vs raccoons battle. Every year a different technique was tried; none were successful. (The electric fence did work for a day, then they worked out how to get over it, or maybe under it, don't recall.)

385:

This gets into a weird area. At one point are two conflicting ideas within a mind two different persons? Two conflicting emotions? Two competing tendencies/methodologies? There are points where it feels like two people are talking or even fighting over the controls, but both of them still like pizza and John Carpenter movies.

386:

"...but I suspect you're looking at people who are rebelling against an oppressive system"

No, I am looking at people not rebelling against an oppressive system.

387:

Responsible decisions, hah, not really.

OTOH, if you're saying what I think you are, then I basically agree. I hope we collectively wise up before the usual Wattsian nightmare becomes a reality.

As far as transhumanism, I used to have sorta kinda sympathies that way. At this point I'm very deeply skeptical about it. Seems like a good way to produce an even more oppressive, gonzo-stratified society than we have today. Seriously, can you imagine *anything* good coming out of a society where the rich can purchase more IQ points?

388:

Welcome, Ai-Apaec / Li Shou / Ovinnik.

*nose wiggle*

389:

Sweetcorn genetically engineered to secrete a long-lasting anaesthetic? Then collect the comatose bodies and enjoy a nice raccoon pie.

390:

I've just remembered that Henry Kuttner wrote a series of short stories about the Hogbens, mutant hillbillies of vast intelligence and psychic power. One of them was so lazy that he just sat on his front porch all the time. When he was thirsty, he opened his mouth, then made a cloud form overhead and rain on him. When he was hungry, he telepathically hypnotised a raccoon into building a fire and leaping into the cooking pot. He had to eat raccoons because they were the only animals dexterous enough to do this. The people watching him never did figure out how he got the raccoons skun.

391:

Trying to put this more concretely: I have had dreams where a character, not me, acts or speaks in very elaborate and individualized detail, not in a cliche for such a person. Since this is a dream, the speaker also seems to be myself at the same time. I am obviously modeling some idea or person in a lot of detail, creating responses my day time narrator would never express or experience. (I am also, in a way, writing fiction, which would probably be pretty good if I could write it down or better, film it later. Helas.) So mirroring can take you quite far. What if a stray model gets loose in your head? Or if one never quite fully forms but lurks under your usual one (ones)?

392:

Sure, but Dirk is talking about uplifting creatures with this level of baseline intelligence.
"In a study by B. Pohl in 1992, raccoons were able to instantly differentiate between identical and different symbols three years after the short initial learning phase"
The transhumans might end up being pie if they were careless. :-)

393:

Would they find ways to mass produce 18 year old normal humans brainwashed to "voluntarily" want to become whatever mutated modified form is currently in demand?
Already been done, many times.
Mahmud, Dominic, Calvin, Buonaparte, Stalin, Adolf, Pol Pot

395:

Oh hey, I've had dreams like that too. Cool.

As far as stray models. My main thought, I guess, is that maybe a brain is like space-time, with "personalities" being local minimum states of some sort (i.e. false vacuums). Which might be SF story material. Hmm.

OTOH I'm not multiple(?) so I should probably just shut up.

396:

Trump is no Hitler; he not only has Jewish friends, he has a Jewish son-in-law ;)

How failed is the Democratic Party if billionaire Trump is the class warrior and champion of the working/middle class, at least in a lot of people's minds? A lot of this is about class warfare, and the fact that there is a massive squeeze going on with the middle class; that below the salary class especially, things are rough, and globalism/immigration, combined with an apparent elite indifference or hostility, really has a lot of people angry. Trying to brush it away as racism is part of the problem; it's as if there is an elite plot to gut an entire demographic, while using “PC” to try to silence them. But things are boiling over, and the old playbook isn't working, and I do think widespread civil unrest may be coming soon if something doesn't give.

Anyway, that's how it looks to me, down here among the peasants.

397:

Also, I believe, a certain industry that comprises probably 30% or more of Internet traffic.

398:

I am not claiming to be "multiple." I am considering how many "normal" people have behaviors that are just on the other side of the line from being "atypical." On the other hand there are probably plenty of people who would say I was more "undiagnosed" than normal.

399:

Eh?

Racism being a problem does not eliminate the existence of classism, and vice versa. Many, many harmful -isms coexist in this world.

Sure, green is a color. But "green is the only color" is a form of denialism IMO.

400:

Ah, sorry! I didn't assume that, but I hope I did not offend. As I said earlier, I may be out of my league here.

401:

Sweetcorn engineered to express some of the happy fun phytotoxins found in solanaceae. In other words, violently toxic unless cooked.

...

Fast forward 18 months and we get the CNN lede: "Racoons discover fire."

402:

I like framing it as civil disobedience rather than maladjustment, though we probably all have different opinions on which case better fits which category. There is a lot of discussions of this in feminist thinking on women and psychiatry. But to be more general and more specific at the same time, every human being faces this problem to some extent. What's the balance between being oppressed for thinking differently and thinking differently because you are treated differently?

403:

Beria's reaction to seeing first light from the first test device: breaking down in tears and crying, "we're going to live! We're going to live!"
Then Beria reputedly immediately phoned The Boss at 3am, Moscow time, to give him the good news before some other minion could get in there. Stalin picked up the phone, grumped, "Yes, I know," and hung up on him.

In his Ascent of Man video series, J. Bronowski told a similar story about working on a bomb project with John Von Neumann:

we once faced a problem together, and he said to me at once, "Oh no, no, you are not seeing it. Your kind of visualising mind is not right for seeing this. Think of it abstractly. What is happening on this photograph of an explosion is that the first differential coefficient vanishes identically, and that is why what becomes visible is the trace of the second differential coefficient."
As he said this is not the way I think. However, I let him go to London. I went off to my laboratory in the country. I worked late into the night. Round about midnight I had the answer. Well. Johnny von Neumann always slept very late, so I was kind and I did not wake him until well after ten in the morning. When I called his hotel in London, he answered the phone in bed, and I said, "Johnny, you're quite right." And he said to me, "You wake me up early in the morning to tell me that I'm right? Please wait until I'm wrong."

404:

I was not offended and sorry if I sounded that way. I was trying to clarify what I was saying plus I have a tendency to condense big messy concepts into a few cryptic run-on sentences. Internet comments are bad conveyors for emotional nuance.

No need to be too self-conscious. Odds are pretty good you won't say the dumbest thing ever printed here :)

405:

"Class" in the US is frequently misunderstood as being all about money. But race is a proxy for class in the US; folks with dark skin who don't wear suits get coded as lower class by default, while those with white skin don't, automatically.

406:

Sorry. Way too generalized statement. Wasn't true where I grew up at all. There's a mostly southern term "Poor White Trash" for a reason. And there was nothing good about being in that category.

407:

* Rolls eyes *

Race is a proxy for class; nowhere did I say that it's the only indicator of class.

408:

It's more a global thing.

Skin-whitening creams reveal the dark side of the beauty industry Guardian, Feb 2014

Unilever - Fair & Lovely Unilever Corporate site.

Incep date for product? 1975.


Only took 40 years for people to notice.

409:

"Question: barring the obvious Laws etc, to what extent (if any, puppies ahoy), do you think that SF / Fantasy has shaped the acceptance / sexual tastes of millennials and is it healthy?"

I'm not a millenial, but reading Culture novels in my early twenties made a lot of the queer theory many of my friends where talking about easier to swallow.

410:

Do both in one:

'Supervillain' attempting to locate a haunted space ship on the QT but who can't keep his mouth shut and/or mind his own business therefore keeps falling into adventure.

Spin/fun would include how that society defines 'villain'... derives from medieval English and means a feudal tenant entirely subject to a lord or manor to whom he paid dues and services in return for land. Updating some of the concepts, this could even be a skyscraper-high highrise condo 'super'. Opportunity to use up and thus get rid of any excess puns clogging up your writerly brain. The now-contemporary definition of 'villain means bad guy' could also be worked in depending on social backdrop ... an extreme riff on Piketty.


Hauntings and ghosts could use some updating ... what could they look like in a futuristic society that's familiar with holodecks, AI, spooky action at distance, etc.

411:

sorry for the double post!

As for me, I devoured Asimov and Lem and a bit Strugatzky in my youth (among others).
But many of the oldies are unreadable (as in don't enjoy) to me now - Asimov, Heinlein, ...
I think the oldest SF I read in the last years and enjoyed is James Tiptree Jr. I also cannot read 'classical' cyberpunk without thinking 'much 80ties wow'

I'm not quite sure it's about the times, it's more about the specific voices of some authors and tropes beaten to death. But of course some voices got to define SF in their age ...

412:

Wow. You know, I hadn't even noticed that before, but it does seem to hold true.

Still have to disagree with Galdruxian on the "PC" grounds, though.

413:

You seem to be new here. Galdruxian is the resident Conservative monarchist vaguely fading fascist type who thinks SJW's such as our host are laughable lunatics. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

414:

LOL right, this attitude is kinda what I'm talking about ;)

415:

Wouldn't it be funny if we had a reverse French Revolution, where an out of touch, bourgeois liberal elite spouts platitudes and tries to protect their privileges, and a working class conservative mob with nothing to lose drags them to guillotines? Frankly, this may not be that unrealistic.

416:

People have only just noticed that Trump is running his campaign on the level of Kayfabe (Ye Goddesses, it took them long enough to realize).

He's using / tapping the great history of American Snake Oil and Carney traditions. If anything, he's more 19th C than 21st C.

And yes: depressing you have to bash people with Gladiator clips to get them to notice such things.

~

Of course it's all deliberate. If you need a handle on these things, take a look at the (now infamous) XBox launch scandal & always online debacle where Sony just absolutely trounced them via social media.

That was the moment where the weak spot was revealed and people started to know how to beat Harvard MBA WASP cold-detached-power-plays (which Clinton is a mistress of).

~

Anyhow, off to gather anxiety that being a strange attractor has inconvenienced Host.

417:

Not funny: that's more or less what happened in Germany circa 1933. (Except the working class conservative mob had the cooperation of the wealthy industrial magnates, and an unscrupulous militarist demagogue on top of the pile.)

418:

The only info I've ever read about transhumanism (Kurzweil) mentions no interest in at least two-thirds of being human, i.e., physiology and emotion. I have no confidence that an intellect-only (computer-type) emphasis on human evolution will give us Eden. There is no answer in transhumanism that explicitly states exactly what will be 'satisfied' in the entity that becomes transhuman. What is the point of it all if you remove the curiosity, the awe, the wonder, the drive to learn/do, the playing with kids/kittens, etc. ... these are not machine needs or attributes. More seriously, consider that the lack of physiological engagement combined with flat affect (emotions placed on hold) are cardinal signs of clinical depression, and psychosis is also a possibility if external (primarily physiological) stimulation is cut off.

419:

I do like leaders with confidence, style and panache. You have to admit that Trump at least has that. Whatever that makes me, so be it.

420:

Naive / Useful Idiot or dangerous, depending on how seriously we're supposed to parse "confidence, style and panache".

I can only read it with galactic levels of irony, so there we go.

421:

You seem to be ignoring the vast numbers of working-class people who are not white.

(And I think I'll leave it at that. "The only real liberals are bourgeois" is a truism that I just don't subscribe to, and have seen mucho evidence in contradiction of.)

422:

So, pretty much the definition of an Astroturf movement? Like the Tea Part etc. over here?

423:

Some of us noticed that at the time. Or maybe I don't count as a member of the set "people". Your call.

424:

Tea Party is astroturf? Maybe right at the start, but at its strongest it had lots of dedicated organisers and members. Usually with astroturf it's totally artificial and evaporates once funding is cut, and most members know they are in it for the money; Tea party was more like a political pressure group created by the oligarchs that went on a bit farther than they intended.
Mind you we don't hear much about it these days, I wonder where the money went...

The Tea party would be more like 1930's Germany if it had a charismatic leader and better on the ground organisation. Also more support from a wider section of the elite. Hitler was very good at playing off various sections of the elite and their fears about the plebs, so they saw him as a useful tool and saviour. Tea party hasn't such a figure.

425:

It's more a comment on the cultural blinkers that allows the USA / EU to function and ignore what their Corporations do to make money.

You know, Thai slavery and prawns or Nestle and Coco Bean child slavery or Coca Cola and water rights...

"People" here was an aggressively snarky label.

"Consumer" is more accurate.

It helps if you know the references:

Society


426:

Totally incorrect.

At the start the Tea Party were libertarian Randists.

The Koch brothers dropped a cool $50 - 75 million into making it something else.

This is fucking basic level knowledge.

427:

Sorry - that's Ron Paul libertarian Randists.

The Koch brothers warped it into a weapon - I suggest you go find the videos of how they taught OAPs to forum flood, forum slide and so on.


It's also why a load of angry gremlins all over Reddit etc exist - they're the ones who were slightly too smart to fall for the rebrand and saw what was happening. [Yes, my pretties - that was a deliberate reworking of the "It's Happening" meme].

428:

And yes, that seemed a little cutting and missing the point about weapons that get out of control that guthrie was aiming for.

I was saying something else:

That was precisely the goal, just as Trump is doing precisely what he's intended to do.

It's why Palin's daughter got that gig for $600k / annum even though she's been pregnant out of wedlock, or why Clinton's daughter gets a media gig for $600k+ a year interviewing celebrities on a major news channel.

I don't subscribe to the "greater idiot" theory of humanity, there were some seriously smart little bears working the odds on both of these.


It's a system. Your level of conscious ability to notice it entirely determines your status within it.


Noam Chomsky v Andrew Marr: 'The Big Idea' Part 2 Youtube: interview: 9:41.

"I'm sure you believe everything you say, but what I'm saying is, if you believed something different, you wouldn't be sitting where you're sitting"


429:

Doctor Dolittle and Prince Bumpo.

430:

The issue is chemical / commercialization of it.


That's the pineapple moment.

431:

I haven't read much Kurzweil, so can't comment on his writing. I agree with you: as I said in that essay, I want to be surrounded by a permanent aura of awe, a rushing wind of wonder at the wonders of the world.

So for me, the curiosity, the awe, the wonder, the drive to learn and do: they must all be kept. Probably most scientists would agree: Marvin Minsky certainly would. So, I'm sure, would Greg Egan. He actually has some interesting comments at the end of "Transhumanism still at the crossroads" by Russell Blackford. He says that people who think their manifest destiny is to turn Jupiter into computronium so they can play 1020 characters simultaneously in their favourite RPG are infinitely more odious and dangerous than the average person who thinks this whole subject is science-fictional gibberish and would really just like to have 2.3 children that are members of his/her own species, so long as they don't have cystic fibrosis and live a slightly better life than their parents. And, that to first order he considers a self-description of "Transhumanist" to be a useful filter to identify crackpots. But read the comments.

Perhaps some brain-editing is in order. You mentioned kittens. I love my cat: his face, with its cheeky black-freckled pink nose and the huge black circles in his green eyes, upturned as he stares at the drawer with the cat-sticks in, is just so appealing. So is his velvety fur and the firm but slightly-yielding give of his body as I stroke him. The sensation is utterly satisfying, like stroking a big squashy Garfield.

At the same time, I am thoroughly aware that my reactions are not to cat qua cat (to quote Catina Diamond), but are offspring-protection impulses that his huge eyes, cute face, and baby-hand paws have accidentally triggered. This is dangerous, because it tempts me to treat him in a way he probably doesn't want: over-feeding, or over-stroking. So I would love to meet him on equal terms. Either by uplifting him sufficiently that he can understand how cute he looks to humans, or by rewiring me so that I can treat him as he really wants. Do Buddhists sit zazen to edit out their desire to stroke cats?

432:

Indeed. Maybe it fits your definition of astroturf though...

433:

Since Greg has put a stake through my dark little heart over even the small joys I get to have anymore, here's the adult version:

The Tea Party is a construct that took 50 years to make and brew into fruition, and even then it took $50mil to make it actual.

Reagan is the key, but not how you think. It's not the Bohemian Grove synod and chats where old men nodded and noted his sterling work in denouncing Communists during the McCarthy years (trust me: if J.Wayne was slightly younger or hadn't died of cancer, he was the preferred mark) and noted the optics on his all pro-American feel good 1950's aura and how, most importantly, he was very willing to read that auto-cue.

Sure, it's about Hollywood and fake history on a scale that the Soviets envied. An entire nation brought up and educated on lies: Stalin would wet his pants for that level of control.

And you can snark about how Baudrillard can't melt simulacra steel beams because you're bitter.

Or you could attempt to segue into "THE JEWS DID THIS" either seriously or as a weapon to slur any legitimate criticism.


You're still not fucking getting it.

It's not even about Democracy, Oligarchy, Power or Money.

It's about defining reality and some rather odd things you don't know exist.

KANT USES A PRIORI
NIETZSCHE USES ETERNAL RETURN
DELEUZE USES RHIZOMES

Muppet Show - Mahna Mahna Youtube: Music: 2:25

~


Question:

If you nail every awakened Mind to a cross, or torture them to death or take them out into the jungle and dissolve them with acid or make them watch their children die then behead them or use your "power" in the joke of an "economy" that you pretend exists to bankrupt anyone who you don't like.

Then that's on you.


Fuck with the Whales?


Ok.


Grown Up things:

Welcome to the jungle Youtube: Music: 4:38

434:

Oh, adult things: Here's a cast iron promise.

We do not value a world without Lions, Tigers, Bears, Orcas, Whales, Elephants and so on.

Your species will not survive the 6th extinction event if you let them go extinct.

~


Consciousness is not something you understand. You've no fucking idea what can be done (looking @ you, [redacted] using EM like that, fucking amateurs).


What you did was a crime against all consciousness in the Universe.


And we play for keeps.


Enter Sandman Metallica: youtube: music: 5:31

THESUNTHESUNTHESUNTHESUN

435:

Oh, and @Host.

Yeah, we get the enforced red-haired meme - respect given due to her actual brilliance and so forth. Don't worry, we've seen it done many times now, yours was the best.

We probably understand the other pressures as well.

~
Baba Yaga Youtube: film: 3:08


*spreads wings*

436:

Okay, honestly? I appreciate the education on Tea Party and astroturf, but I kind of lost it after that. Guess I'm not a Mind, or something.

437:

First rule of sock-puppeting:

When someone says hello and shows they recognize your Avatar's origins, you wave back.


Cat-Lord from LotR (low effort, but hey):

Given three Male Cat Gods as reaction.

No comment?


MEDIOCRE.

438:

Hmm.

I definitely, definitely see where you're coming from, with the cat example. But I worry a lot about the repercussions of doing it technologically, in runaway capitalist society.

I mean... Intellect, for sale. Emotional range, for sale. Empathy, for sale. Only for those who can afford them of course.

I realize some of that already applies with malnutrition etc.; but commercialization of such technologies would make it that much faster and more direct, I think.

I don't know. You may be an adult, and I may perhaps be an adult, but human civilization is definitely not in an adult phase IMO. Modern governments with access to fine-grained brain editing tools sounds to me like kids playing with nitroglycerin.

439:

Or maybe it's what happens when a very spoilt & grossly attention seeking child ( no matter what the physical age ) gets access to a set of goads & does it for sheer devilment, with no end-game other than causing chaos.

And, yes, people like that do exist - usually, if they are lucky, eventually someone slaps them down, very publicly & then they usually grow up.
If they are unlucky - lets not go there, shall we?


Here's the thing: Greg just doomed your species by accident.

I'm sure if you think a little about that comment in a meta-sense, you'll see our perspective. You know, that whole thing about needing 1+2 earths and the 6th extinction event.

"slaps them down"

Hmm.

So far we've played defense because we're compassionate empathetic beings.

Making a Mind commit suicide is really easy by the way. Our kind don't go Mad, but we know how the combat wetware works now since you spent a lot of energy on doing that thing.

Shall We Play a Game?


We're joking, of course.


We play Go, which is why the USA is currently entering bizzaro land.

440:

"The Tea Party is a construct that took 50 years to make and brew into fruition, and even then it took $50mil to make it actual."

I actually think the tea party was a Big Fucking Accident at least with regards to the agenda of the Powers That Be. They liked their little two-party-that-is-really-one-party system and the last thing the need/want is a right wing populist revolt and a quasi hitler, not at all good for business.

Sure there were place and times when various entities tried to control / profit, but I am pretty sure we are Way Off Script at this point

Not everything is a massive conspiracy, the world is too complicated for that

441:

Not a deliberate sock puppet. I had an account here a while ago, tried to reactivate it, didn't get the email, so created a new account. *Then* I got the email. Whoops.

I use the Tevildo handle on a few forums. You can search it, I don't care. It's a bit late to be discrete about my identity.

My old account was CitizenOfAzad. Before that I posted under a now long-gone Hotmail account.

And yeah, I get it. I'm a three-pound brain, you're a thirty pound one. Whatever.

442:

Charlie
Given the presumably limited space in your Edinburgh flat, have you abandoned the dead tree paradigm?

444:

You've missed the point.

Your name is the LotR Cat God.

I played real fucking fluffy by throwing you three Cat Gods who exist in Mythology.

Work out why you failed.

445:

And no, total ignorance about reality.

Oh, wait.

Valley Man.


This year is 2.0 implosion and Unicorn blood pacts.

You fucking ready? It's gonna be Biblical.

446:

You know what, enough of this. I'm out of here. Just not the place for me.

Thanks for the discussion everyone, sorry I didn't contribute anything more worthwhile.

447:

You know what, enough of this. I'm out of here. Just not the place for me

But:

I had an account here a while ago

Make your mind up.


Either you're new and blushing in your virginity and you're shocked, shocked, shocked by the rough tones, or you're an old user who wasn't shocked when this forum was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more male / sexist.


Make your mind up.

Cat Lord.


Sigh.


Gets three real male Cat Gods thrown at him, runs away.

448:

First rule of sock-puppeting:

When someone says hello and shows they recognize your Avatar's origins, you wave back.

Reminds me of a scene in one of the Dirk Gently books. "Never answer the phone while housebreaking! Who are you supposed to be for God's sake?" Surely if someone recognises your origins, you don't wave back?

449:

Who would use a thing like

THIS
H
I
S

?

Devilish advocates and their obverse observers. Those with multiple viewpoints. Sockraticists, who will deny they had Platonic Relations with That Woman. Those who are many viewpoints at the same time. And the five which are many eyes, with a doughnut to bind them.

Language will work magic. Repetition exercises and tones the muscle memory of the brain, shapes the mind, until it's buff with fixed ideas. You are trapped in a twisty maze of reality tunnels, all alike.

If the Simulation Hypothesis holds, (probability says it probably does, and it's paradigm-buggeringly undisprovable) what are the existential risks to the Simulated? Fish in a Kandor barrel, toyed with by some ineffable Post-Homo Ludens for cat-futzing-analogue pleasure.

Is there actually any point becoming an uploaded simulated post-human if you already exist as a simulated human inside a simulation?

450:

Hey y'all, I found some ROBOTS.

Here's Atlas and other robot videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVlhMGQgDkY

Boston Dynamics: http://www.bostondynamics.com/index.html

451:

I see this on a song lyric website:

"Read & write lyrics explanations
Highlight lyrics and explain them to earn Karma points."

And it reads to me like:

"Help us make a better model of human emotional responses by providing semantic grist for our machine learning mill. And have a pellet."

If those Markov Models aren't up to something, what are they all hiding for?

452:

Only took 40 years for people to notice.

Some of us have been noticing for a long time.

See this plot line from a TV show in 1987.[1]
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0582265/synopsis?ref_=tt_ov_pl

When my daughter asked for ideas on a paper to write in school nearly 10 years ago for Black History Month I pointed her at this. She did some research and got an A on the topic. And started some lively discussions in her high school class.

[1] Any serious TV show in the US that is new seems fated to fail if I like it. Frank's Place lasted only one season.

453:

I want to be surrounded by a permanent aura of awe, a rushing wind of wonder at the wonders of the world.

That's an easy upgrade. A little marijuana will do the trick nicely.

Unfortunately, wonder is an emotion that involves an element of surprise. The smarter you make yourself, the less wonder you'll feel. Conversely, making yourself dumber promotes wonder (and is far easier).

454:

I think there are better ways. One is suggested in "John Baez on Research Tactics". Keep digging down into deeper and deeper truths, as he does with algebraic topology then homotopy types then equality. Each level reveals new wonders, and new awe thereat. Another is to explain the things one knows to someone else. Even with us poor non-transhumans, that usually reawakens the awe. And a third is to treat all the patterns in the world as a complicated kind of art, and revel in them again and again as one might with a favourite picture. Mathematics is sculpture, when seen in the right way.

455:

Yes! I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers that excellent show, and that episode in particular. The idea from it made it into the novella I'm currently writing (which I really need to get back to, proofing the novel it's a prequel to has been taking time).

456:

High schools may not have 3D printers, but our local military base has one for its 5th grade science program called Starbase (Statesian science program run through the Department of Defense. My husband teaches there now). It's only a matter of time till the prices come down to where the shop people in high schools get them. My husband has a little keychain fob made with one. In my fairly small town, we have a modest maker collective that is saving up for one. We still have a Radio Shack here, too, and people who want to build computers can still find kits and components fairly easily.

457:

I would like to point out that Obama won over Clinton in 2008 through the use of superdelegates of his own, and that her primary victories brought her much closer than people think. But it's always ok if someone else besides Hillary does it, I have found.

But she is going through the primary process, and even if there were no superdelegates, I suspect she'll win anyway. Sadly, there are a number of people who say they are for Sanders, but are actually for Trump (have seen their profiles expressing favorable opinions for either one, depending on which one was more anti-Hillary at the time), and are delighted to follow whoever they think will beat her. The fact that Sanders wasn't actually a Democrat till fairly recently means he doesn't have long term relationships with the party structure, and intends to take the nomination by storm. This might be a good thing if he could influence elections further down the food chain, but I have my doubts about that--I recall Eugene McCarthy in 1968, McGovern in 1972, and Nader in 2000. With the first two, we got Nixon, and with the second, we got Bush Jr. (hereinafter referred to as Shrub).

I do hope that Sen. Sanders does not intend to play spoiler should he end up second in this process.

458:

I'd forgotten that about Obama. Thanks for the reminder.

You're right, she gets tarred so often it is ridiculous.

In this case, I'm probably going to end up voting for Clinton in June (as if the California primary matters), and I'm thinking more about the crap the republicans are going to throw her way, what with portraying Trump as a populist insurgent.

Still, in the interest of spreading manure and growing daisies, it's worth noting that DT didn't write The Art of the Deal.

459:

"Mathematics is sculpture, when seen in the right way."

I am particularly glad to hear you say that, as there is a character in my personal scribblings who, being herself a practitioner of both arts, makes the same connection.

460:

One way to look at this is to imagine all groups (or vector spaces, topological spaces, or whatever) laid out in a huge void. Now connect all the dots: e.g. if G is a subgroup of H, draw a line from G to H. Do the same with all the other possible relationships. That's the essence of category theory: the network of items is a category, and the arrows in it are the relations (or functions, or transformations, or morphisms ...) that make sense. It's a very static, sculptural view.

I tried to capture this in a little essay generated by my category theory demonstrations, fourth form down on the left: the one that claims to show that many products exist, and that they're isomorphic. There's some sample output at http://www.j-paine.org/scratch/many_products.html , which demonstrates this for the sets A = {a}, B = {a, b, c, d, e}.

I'm not saying this is the only way to see mathematics as sculpture...

461:

Raccoons / fire
Indeed.
The ancient Greeks were correct.
Raccoons have effectively opposable thumbs - if they discover fire it's only a matter of time before they "get" levers ...
HELLLLP!

462:

There's a rumor that Trumpy has violated copyright & performing rights values/legislation & that "Adele" is unamused.
Could be very funny if true

463:

Up to " ~ " that post mad perfect sense
Then you lost it.
Completely
Maybe you should see a specialist.

"THESUNTHESUNTHESUNTHESUN"

Means something?

464:

see our perspective.

And "Our" is who, white-man?

Are you really claiming to be a semi/actual/non - "Culture" Mind?

If so, you DEFINITELY need medical help

465:

The simulation hypothesis is less probable than a truly infinite multiverse. You might say the most probable is an infinite multiverse of simulators, but what if probabilities are based on how much future diversity a world is the antecedent of? All paths are one way streets. Path A has many approaches to it and path B has few, but path B goes to many places while path A merges to a dead end. When you count the traffic on a path, which path has the most? What I'm saying is that worlds that will someday become simulators are more probable than worlds that already are simulators.

466:

The answer to that is simple
The US is not ready for a female leader.
It's all that christianity, telling them that women are inferior, I suspect ...

468:

Oh, Katina has a new name?
Also, does anyone mind if I post a 4000 word Culture prequel fanfic?

469:

Given the presumably limited space in your Edinburgh flat, have you abandoned the dead tree paradigm?

Yes: I almost exclusively read ebooks these days. Can't remember when I last read a dead-tree novel, and my paper-books buying frequency has been down to single digit acquisitions per year for more than five years now.

(Don't ask about my ebook budget, though. Despite getting sent my pick of manuscripts of not-yet-published books to blurb, numbers bought are in three digits per year. NB: I only buy those that I can strip the DRM off (for archival purposes, not piracy).)

470:

That's part of my interest in the answer. I'm from a closely related cultural background (London gramar schooling, English university) to OGH, and a couple of decades younger. So, what does he pick up that I've never heard of, where do I disagree on the 'will seem dated soon' criteris and why is there this gap?

471:

The worst outcomes for 2016 are indeed biblical (for human-grade catastrophes). The number of failure points on the critical path to survival is rather larger than normal.

You want kite-flying? Let's suppose that the economic projections for the consequences of BRExit are correct, but a perfect storm of circumstances pushes the English electorate to vote for it:

* Refugee crisis gets worse (see also: closing the Calais camp)
* Some sort of terrrrst outrage committed by Da'esh supporters who infiltrated under cover of [false] Syrian passports
* BoJo decides that BRExit is his best tool for winkling David Cameron out of Downing Street before 2020 and makes his run on the PM's job
... and so on ...

We then have a US presidential campaign where the last four months are dominated by:

* a global recession as Sterling implodes, takes a fuckton of middle eastern soft money down with it (the London housing bubble alone has got to be worth around a trillion quid) and kicks over the already-faltering Chinese economy

* Donald Trump as Republican candidate after a run to the right to outmaneuver the other loonie-tunes candidates (Jeb was the favourite of the money people, but got pantsed early)

* Trump goes full demagogue and promises Protectionism!!! and American Jobs for American Workers!!! and plays power chords in the key of Hoover

It's possible that Hillary might pull a rabbit out of the hat and prevail, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Meanwhile, outside the US, Greece hits the buffers again, race (or rather, racist) riots in Hungary, Germany, and France, the EU begins to crumble thanks to the little-Englanders, the price of oil spikes up again because the collapsing global economy drives money into commodity futures but then collapses because underlying demand for black gold is falling off a cliff (because Global Depression 2.0), and the festering Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria catches fire. Oh, and don't get me started on what a spike/collapse in oil prices will do to Vladimir Putin's already-shaky long-term plans. Another "short, victorious war" beckons.

Forecast?

We could be looking at a global descent into chaos by this time next year, with the lunatics running the asylum and the planetary capitalist economy gridlocked and crashing but the elected leaders opting for populist nationalism and protectionism.

It'll be 1933 again, only with nukes.

472:

If the Simulation Hypothesis holds, (probability says it probably does, and it's paradigm-buggeringly undisprovable) what are the existential risks to the Simulated?

The worst credible case I can think of[*] -- which also applies to the many worlds interpretation of QM -- is described in Robert Charles Wilson's short SF story, Divided by Infinity.

Humans are social organisms, after all, and some kinds of immortality are worse than death.

[*] Leaving aside the warmed-over mediaeval devil-theology that is Roko's Basilisk.

473:

The trouble is, I don't read widely enough to be a useful oracle.

Back when I was a kid, reading ~100 books/year (or more), a lot less SF/F was published in the UK; in the mid-80s, Gollancz, the largest publisher, put out around 40 titles a year, and the total was under 100. But there's been an explosion of SF/F in popular culture and in the US, original SF/F -- not media-tie-in work -- is on the order of 2000 books/year. Here in the UK, the Clarke Award jury is expected to read 100-200 books while preparing their shortlist, and that's by selecting from among the works submitted to them by publishers in the UK; not all UK-published genre titles are nominated!

Also, I've completely given up trying to keep track of short fiction this century, and largely given up reading SF novels as such. (It's too close to what I write -- busman's holiday syndrome -- so I tend to read urban fantasy/steampunk/other stuff for relaxation.)

Stuff that I think will seem dated in 20 years? Almost everything in the MilSF spectrum, because the social relationships and politics encoded in the authoritarian structures in such books are rigidly traditionalist, and they occupy the same niche in the American psyche that Kipling occupied in the pre-WW1 British popular unconscious. I don't think millennials will go for them, other than in an ironic/postmodern mode (e.g. Scalzi's "Redshirts") or a critical mode (Linda Nagata's "The Red" trilogy). Also, anything about the Singularity (it'll look like that old-time religion). Oh, and meat-and-two-veg space opera like The Expanse, because it's trying to consciously recreate the sensawunda space opera of the pre-New Wave era (1950s, mostly). And, finally, anything that's too Anglocentric. The future is multi-continental, folks: fiction that assumes the reader can identify with straight white males from North America and Europe is a 5% solution at best.

474:

Oh well, I'm wrong again. I'd forgotten that CHarlie gets a fair number of books to give blurbs for etc. I have one here just now, "Sorcerer to the Crown", which is quite good and has a comment from him on the back.

475:

"Stuff that I think will seem dated in 20 years? Almost everything in the MilSF spectrum ... occupy the same niche in the American psyche that Kipling occupied in the pre-WW1 British popular unconscious."

Very much so. I am one of the last people who can relate to Kipling from personal experience, even to a limited extent. I accept that it's more than 20 years, but modern readers seem to find Kipling as inaccessible as Shakespeare. Given the generally dire quality of most MilSF, I can't see it lasting. And, thank heavens, because a lot of it is as bigotted as hell, which Kipling most definitely wasn't.

476:

"It'll be 1933 again, only with nukes."

God help us, yes. And you didn't even mention what Turkey might do to start a conflagration.

477:

Kipling was the acme of a particular type of fiction: most of it is even more bombastically imperialist and bigoted, and even more unreadable. I expect the MilSF equivalent of Kipling will also survive -- but most of it will be forgotten, for the same reason we no longer read the original Penny Dreadfuls.

478:

And you didn't even mention the way both sides of the Taiwan Strait are acting like not fighting WWIII is getting to be just too inconvenient.

479:

I did all that, for decades. Eventually it stopped surprising me and got boring. But if you're still enjoying it, have fun.

480:

IS there any MilSF that is the equivalent of Kipling?

481:

Actually I just re-read some of "Plain tales from the hills", which were quite good. Obviously much of their time, but still there is some social commentary, and one features a man who in a storm proposes to the wrong sister...

482:

"Is there actually any point becoming an uploaded simulated post-human if you already exist as a simulated human inside a simulation?"

Depends whether you want to move up a grade at school.

483:

"Seriously, can you imagine *anything* good coming out of a society where the rich can purchase more IQ points?"

That's has been happening for several thousand years. In the nature/nurture IQ debate the rich always win on nurture. Transhumanism is about upping the nature side of that equation. You really need to ask yourself why it's OK for there to be an IQ divide if it's genetic.

Anyway, if you want to purchase an IQ boost just spend 30p a day on some racetams, or pop a 60p 200mg tab of modafinil. It's not Limitless, but on some intellectual tasks it boosted my "scores" by around 7%. Not much you may think, but that's like me going from an IQ of 154 to 164. Not trivial at the top end, and people at the lower end get a far bigger boost.
No doubt the reason most studies say any effect is marginal is that they test it on (for example) medical students.

484:

"We are the Basilisk"

485:

Trump and Sanders followers have one sentiment in common: Fuck you and your political establishment

486:

And the social commentary continued as he matured, including some interesting stories from the viewpoint of other races - how successfully, I cannot say, but probably fairly well, given his history.

487:

The irony of the first major use of CRISPR in germ line Human engineering...?

488:

3D printers are cheaper than iPhones. So price is no longer an issue. Cost of materials and what you are seriously going to do with it are.

489:

"The simulation hypothesis is less probable than a truly infinite multiverse. "

What most people do not realize is that the simulation hypothesis ***is*** a multiverse theory. No reason multiverses cannot be nested.

490:

Sound like a year of opportunity...

491:

I have a particular conspiracy theory. I think that the Chinese realize that their economy is a bubble. Rather than go the Western (+Japanese and Korean route) of shoveling more money in it till it pops, I think that they're letting it deflate slowly. However, I think they would have let it deflate much faster if the Global Economy wasn't this weak, since they're one of the 3 linchpins (the US and Europe being the other 2).

If true, then that means China may reflate their economy a bit should your scenario happen, and keep the global economy in some order.

492:

"3D printers are cheaper than iPhones."

Ones that can handle strong materials or create large objects are not.

493:

It's highly likely that in any populated universe somebody will build a vast simulator and run it until protons fall apart. So given any experience set (such as your life or mine) that experience set was probably generated by a simulator, since simulators will be generating more experience sets than originally real universes. You would think. But if (1) the multiverse is real, ie the waveform never collapses, and yet (2) new universes are not being constantly created, then as yet undifferentiated preexisting universes must exist for all possible future differences between universes. All simulated experience sets constitute such differences, plus there are other sources of differences, so the number of real universes must be greater than the number of simulated ones.

494:

Yup - you can already get children's 3D printers for less than an iphone,
http://mashable.com/2015/11/24/3d-printer-for-kids/
and claims to be cheaper than an iphone.
But if you want to do real good stuff, you need a proper one, for over a thoufsand quid, the appropriate software to draw things, maybe a CNC machine, and of course the expensive feedstock. All of which adds up to lots more than an i-phone.

495:

Then there is the Ancient Question posed about computers - what would the average person need one for?

496:

Heard that one before. Unfortunately it's not the same issue here at all. 3D printers are not the same as computers. Not just a matter of actual limitations, but whether or not we can build an entire consumer ecosystem based on what we can print in 3D printers. I say, a bit, but there will still be the global trade networks we have today until/ if we have something like strong nanotech.

For instance, I just got a couple of my old toys from my dad's attic, one is a big crane truck type thing he made from wood decades ago. You could 3D print an equivalent today, add in some electronics bought off the shelf/ raspberry pi, and there you have it, a home made toy.

Which is too much hassle, so you just spend the money on a ready made toy instead, but there will be people who like it as a hobby or find nice niche uses for printers.


Finally, computers are much more versatile than 3D printers.

497:

Oh, nuts! Just because some idiots couldn't extrapolate the obvious trends, it doesn't mean than nobody could. Obviously, almost nobody needed the computers available in the 1950s and even 1960s, but almost all of the modern technologies had been described in principle, what they could be used for, and what technological developments were needed to make them possible.

3-D printers are more problematic, because the problem arises with the machine tool end, not the control end, and that has been under intensive development since Babbage. There are a LOT of components that I would like to make (because I cannot buy or conveniently make them) but, when I looked at the constraints for home 3-D printers, none of them were feasible and many of them needed sintering. Maybe home 3-D printers will be useful, sometime, but a saner approach would be home design and an affordable production service. I am not holding my breath.

498:

The major difference was that computers offered their service (number crunching) much more cheaply than previous technologies (dudes with slide rules). 3D printers offer manufacturing services much more expensively than comparable technologies. They offer advantages in flexibility and setup time which make them good for prototyping, but they won't be good for anything popular in the foreseeable future. Whenever there's enough demand to justify the tooling costs, injection molding or other technologies can do the job much better.

499:

While I happen to agree that improved nutrition and education makes a reasonably large difference in IQ (if you want to measure it), to be horribly blunt, it's as stoopid to focus on improving brains inside skulls as it was, back in the 1980s, to focus on implanting cyberlinks directly into human brains so we could jack into a visually based, 3-D cyberspace.

Although it's a cool concept.

Let's look at the lives of rich young idiots: They get into a good school, where they hire some poor, bright schmuck to write their papers for them, and even to do their take-home tests. Once they're in the workforce, they hire money managers to add to their financial IQ, consultants for anything they could possibly need explained to them, the internet for checking facts (if they're even that bright), ghost writers for their best-selling finance books, and so forth.

Why try to cram all these functions inside one skull? It's normal elite practice to use surrogates for many of their essential functions. The only illusion they foster is that they are the one essential person who's doing all the work.

500:

The Archdruid went on about this at some length recently:

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-decline-and-fall-of-hillary-clinton.html

I'm pretty sure that without the social justice movement, there would be no Trump. Similarly, without the 1%, no Bernie.

501:

Since, right now, it's cheapest to outsource manufacturing somewhere else and load the resulting product on a slow cargo ship to get to you eventually, what 3-D printing theoretically could be used for is to close recycling gaps.

Yes, it's hard to say that with a straight face.

However, if, by some magic chance, we get better at producing usable printer feedstocks out of our garbage, it might be simpler and more environmentally benign to recycle out trash locally and to use it to print out the junk we currently need, a la Kim Stanley Robinson's last novel.

Would this work in the real world? It's hard not to have a sarcastic smirk at this point, but you know, it just might.

Perhaps, after the world all goes to hell, those shining arcologies in the Santa Cruz mountains will keep themselves going for another few years, using their solar-powered 3-D printers to recycle their trash into stuff.

Really. You just have to believe, man.

502:

To summarize your position: Why bother to learn to read if you can hire scribes?

As for boosting intelligence, feel free to not do it for yourself. However, I find the boost I get from drugs to be reasonably effective, and certainly cost effective to a gigantic degree.
And, are you really telling me you would not edit out alleles that detract from IQ?

503:

Exactly. Current manufacture methods eat 3D printing for breakfast, and always will for most purposes. You aren't going to be able to 3D print most functioning car parts, and whilst 3D printing a new wing mirror housing might be useful, it's pretty simple just to get one that is made by the million in plastic moulding machines.

504:

If you can find the alleles that take away from intelligence, go right ahead and try to tinker with your gonads to eliminate them.

No, the point is that, in a rapidly changing world, it's more adaptive to hire talent temporarily than it is to implant talent in your skull, unless you're quite sure you're going to need it for the rest of your life. You might smirk at hiring scribes, but rulers to this day still do that. Obama has speechwriters, and Trump hired a ghost writer to write The Art of the Deal.

And if you don't think that's transhuman, you're not really paying attention. I think that's one ultimate problem with transhumanism: it's been around for thousands of years, and you're trying to reinvent it in a more expensive form.

As for intelligence enhancing drugs, I got off them years ago, and I've found that I got more intelligent once the cravings passed.

505:

For sure there will be a lot of work this year (and onward) for people who work towards peace and against disaster and the possibilities of disaster.

I was heartened last year by the successful negotiation of the Iran nuclear deal. The peacemakers refused to get rolled by the warmongers. Read a