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A short commercial interlude

Just so you know why I've been quiet lately, it's because this book-shaped object is now on its way to the copy editor for publication in late June/early July next year (assuming we survive that long.)

The Delirium Brief (UK) The Delirium Brief (US)

The UK edition is going to be published by Orbit, as usual, and that's their cover on the left (or above, depending on your browser). But in the United States, the series is now moving to Tor.com Publishing; so there's a whole new cover design coming. (To be clear: earlier books will remain with Ace, but "The Delirium Brief" and subsequent novels will come from Tor.)

You can preorder the books via Amazon here: US Hardcover Edition and here: UK Hardcover Edition; ebook editions are also available (US Kindle, UK Kindle not yet listed but available soon).

However, that's not my next book! This is:

Empire Games (UK)

It's coming out in late Jannuary ... and I'm going to have a lot more to say about Empire Games very soon! (In the meantime here are the UK Kindle edition and the US Kindle edition. NB: if you pre-ordered the UK hardcover, you probably want to cancel that order and try again. Tor UK made a late decision to switch the book to trade paperback, so existing pre-orders for the now non-existent UK hardback have probably vanished into limbo: on the bright side, their trade paperback edition should match the Merchant Princes omnibuses in size. The US hardcover is still A Thing.)

And now you know why I've been kind of quiet for the past few months. It's not just the insanely depressing news environment for 2016 (about which I'll have something else to say, when I've finally digested the indigestible implications); I've been gearing up to produce two books a year for the next few years, I've had to rewrite half a Laundry novel (because Brexit ruined the original plot of The Delirium Brief), and as I move to new publishing arrangements I'm busy working on my Next Big Thing, a space opera titled Ghost Engine which is only tenuously related to anything I've written before (hint: Palimpsest, only for intergalactic expansion over the next million years).

390 Comments

1:

I'm grateful to see that you're doing your part to make this miserable year a little more bearable. Thanks!

Mike

2:

Palimpsest Plus, goodoh.

If we manage to avoid Brexit, you'll put the original version out instead?

3:

No, because The Delirium Brief is set between April and June of 2014, in the time line where the Coalition cabinet disintegrated and was replaced by a really conservative administration under the slogan "why settle for the lesser evil?" ...

4:

Oh God, they're the UKIP with hentai aren't they?

5:

Oh God, they're the UKIP with hentai aren't they?

* Blows beverage all over keyboard *

You know, that angle really hadn't occurred to me until now. But I think that line, or something like it, is going to go into The Labyrinth Index, when I get around to writing it.

(The Labyrinth Index is book nine, the Mhari novel, elevator pitch "Ocean's 11 vs. Cthulhu", but there's going to be a one-year gap between Laundry novels in 2018, with a mere novella to string you along in its place: the real publications for 2018 will be Dark State (Empire Games book 2) and Ghost Engine (Shining Worlds book 1, assuming it turns into a setting/series). The novella, if it happens as planned, is a couple of years late: it's the origin story for Derek the DM from The Nightmare Stacks. Because, you know, the Laundry Files aren't the Bob Files, they're a setting with an ensemble cast these days ...)

6:

Yes! Sorry for any damages incurred to your keyboard. Is The Labyrinth Index the one that was going to be Heart of Darkness meets Cthulhu's America? Because that still works and I'd love to read it.

7:

Provisionally, yes (but everything can get replanned multiple times before I actually start writing).

8:

Cool! I don't suppose that there's a little cargo cult of wall-builders trying to make their orange messiah return to them?

9:

It looks like a fun couple of books. I'm looking forward to them!

10:

Also, just an administrative issue, but the site is taking forever to load these days. (I'm in Southern California, if that matters.)

11:

Doing a book launch in Edinburgh? He asks hopefully...

12:

Also, just an administrative issue, but the site is taking forever to load these days. (I'm in Southern California, if that matters.)

For me too, from South Texas, except when I'm using a freeware VPN that mostly routes through [REDACTED SITES]. Then it's quite snappy.

Anyhow, I'll be delighted to see the Strossian progress next year. As said earlier, I dote on paratime themes.

13:

There are only really two hosts you may be needing to load; my own server (in York, England), and Zazzle.com's storefront. Try blocking zazzle and see if your load time improves? If not, then it's ByteMark Hosting, and there's nothing I can do about that (at least, not easily).

14:

I've been wondering if the site picks up some javascript as it travels across the ocean... just saying, maybe.

15:

Yes, doing a book launch. Probably an event at Blackwell's; also a reading event with the Shoreline of Infinity folks on February 6th.

16:

And maybe dropping a few teasers at Boskone, or after a beer?

17:

Good covers, but I like the one with the unicorns best.

18:

Yay! Even if 2017 does end up competing with 2016 for the shitness stakes, at least January will have been a good month. Been looking forward to that for a while!

Site performance: from the UK, Charlie's server is noticeably much faster than zazzle. If the site starts playing up when loading it's nearly always zazzle's fault.

Once in a while there are what look like cache bugs with all or some of the blog stylesheets failing to load; a page reload (sometimes several) usually fixes it. Though I'm not sure if this isn't just a browser bug as I've noticed similar from wikipedia.

Running via a proxy on localhost that buffers text/* content as it comes off the wire and then spits it all at the browser in a lump when it's got it all makes for a minor but noticeable increase in loading speed.

Once the page begins to approach 500 or so comments, the javascript for the comment box starts to really chug, whether you're logged in or not. When it gets toward 1000, things begin to get glacial.

19:

Everything else in the world may be turning to crap, but at least there are plenty of new books to look forward to. OTOH, I'm not sure I'll ever get caught up on my To Read list—which is one reason I will never be one of those people who want writers to work faster.

20:

I've been wondering if the site picks up some javascript as it travels across the ocean... just saying, maybe.

As far as I can tell from the west coast of the US only antipope.org and zazzle.co.uk are trying to run javascript here (and I've only whitelisted the first one in NoScript). I've seen plenty of sites that want to invite in the whole neighborhood but as far as I know haven't seen any false-flag javascript coming from man-in-the-middle attacks. How would we know for sure?

21:

I blocked zazzle.co.uk and zazzle.com without obvious effect - still slow. What parts of Zazzle are you blocking?

22:

I'm not blocking any of it, but the host I usually notice is making the browser sit and wait for it is rlv.zcache.co.uk. There are also resources from asset.zcache.co.uk. It might possibly be worth you trying blocking those or their .com equivalents.

23:

If Zazzle is US based, they're probably using a caching service to make their U.K. pages load faster. They probably don't cache from the U.K. back to the U.S, because I'm getting .co.uk URLs. Does that make sense?

24:

Loading the site is pretty quick for me in the UK. Small entries (like this one) are essentially instantaneous; a big one like "A Reminder" takes a second or so but no more than that.

That's Firefox on Win7, with scripts allowed from antipope.org but blocked from zazzle.co.uk in case the settings information is useful to people. Allowing scripts from zazzle seems to add about a second to the loading time for each page.

25:

Palimpsest, only for intergalactic expansion over the next million years


Will this take place in-palimpsest-universe (or in a similar universe), in that small stretch of the next few million years where the colonization ships are able to safely populate the galaxy?

26:

Oh, in this post you say Ghost Engine is a provisional sequel to Glasshouse. Different setting now?

27:

Hm, Amazon.co.uk still seems to have only the hardcover version of the Empire games. I'm not sure what's the deal with that.

28:

What's the HTML for posting a SMALL picture like that?
I tried once & the damned thing filled the screen - very embarrassing.
[ fledermaus AT dsl DOT pipex DOT com - private message, please? ]

29:

I may be doing a joint author event with other Tor folks at a bookstore in town the Thursday before Boskone. That'll be for "Empire Games".

At Boskone itself, I'm going to try a reading from "The Delirium Brief", and maybe by then I'll have one from "Ghost Engine" as well.

30:

Not just a unicorn, a Lion and a Unicorn! It riffs on the royal coat of arms.

31:

> If not, then it's ByteMark Hosting, and there's nothing I can do about that (at least, not easily).

Cloudflare CDN has a free tier, and the necessary setup is just to transfer a DNS zone to their nameservers -- might be worth a trial with a sacrifical domain.

Mind you -- it's a sign of the times. Their website used to concentrate on how their service would improve your site performance. Now the headline is all about how they will protect you from DDoS attack.

32:

Different, stand-alone setting.

The only relation to Palimpsest is that in Ghost Engine, someone invented a wormhole generator and used it to provide gates for interstellar shipping and transport ... but as with the timegate in Palimpsest, it suppresses rival wormhole generators; thus, it's a rivalrous resource, which leads to all sorts of socioeconomic (and political) side-effects, notably including a common trade tongue, a common currency (for buying gates), a standardized metric for time and distance (without which ...), and the Authority, the shadowy not-a-mafia-honest who own and operate the gate (nobody knows who they are or exactly where they live or where the gate is located because if anybody did, well, slower-than-light invasion fleets are always an option: also? Do not speculate about overthrowing the Authority on social media, because their security respond about the way the US Secret Service responds to death threats against the POTUS).

Now add two-thirds of a million years, over ten million inhabited worlds (artificial and natural) throughout the Local Group of galaxies that are connected by regular gates, ten times that number in the penumbra (slower than light access only, so very irregular connections), and make that two-thirds of a million years of every dipshit with a political ideology or religion and a CRISPR editing kit trying to invent their own version of New Soviet Man, and the resulting speciated products cluttering up the universe long after everyone's forgotten the real reason their subspecies has [insert interesting quirk here].

33:

And me, over a slow connection. It is possible that the 'slow loading' effect is due to the javascript causing trouble to the browser. It used to do that quite often to me (and completely jam the browser even more often), but now does it only occasionally - the improvement happened a few months back.

34:

Tor UK only decided to switch to trade paperback production last month. It takes time to push the changes out to Amazon's database. I'll ask my editor to look into it on Monday.

35:

I was delaying the preordering, because my CC expires next month, and Amazon does not switch preorders to your new card when you replace the old one; your orders remain associated with that card.

Then, about one week after the book becomes available, they tell you that you card has been repeatedly rejected for reasons ("DUH! I entered an expiration of LAST MONTH. Why you even trying??? Why?"), and maybe you can switch payment, at which point you remember you were supposed to get the book 2 days ago.

So, even if Amazon updates, I still have to wait to pre-order. And be angry the book will not fit well with the hardcover of its 6 predecessors...

36:

Excellent! - looking forward to details re: where and when.


And, your new universe sounds intriguing ... I like that you take into account stuff that is usually taken for granted when 'world-building' esp. that there's a helluva a lot of history/baggage that gets passed on without people knowing the original reasons why and the then-current generation is advised to 'just suck it up and deal with it' with whatever their generation can come up with. (One of these days would like a discussion about how one would go about safely removing a trillion tons of tech to make a planet habitable... large-scale recycling of an entire planet.)

37:

I had to look twice. My first impression was "Oh shit, equoids"
See what you've done to us ...

38:

I think I can safely say that Equoids do not play a significant role in The Delirium Brief.

However, if you have problems with the phrase "hypercastrating cyclostomal parasite worm" you should probably go read something else. (This may be the most grimdark Laundry novel yet.)

((Also: it features Iris Carpenter, the Rev. Raymond Schiller, and the Mandate. Because reintroducing just one villain from the earlier novels is for amateurs!))

39:

Rev. Raymond Schiller

Man! I thought he was Killed Off for Real - breakfast for his boss.

Oh well - friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.

40:

One of these days would like a discussion about how one would go about safely removing a trillion tons of tech to make a planet habitable... large-scale recycling of an entire planet.

Strata machines, as used in Terry Pratchett's novel, "Strata". Leaving Easter Eggs such as dinosaur fossils holding signs reading "End nuclear testing now" in freshly-laid lithosphere for future generations to dig up are a no-no.

41:

>>>and make that two-thirds of a million years of every dipshit with a political ideology or religion and a CRISPR editing kit trying to invent their own version of New Soviet Man

1. I hope there are going to be references to Ursula Le Guin, because this is basically The Ekumen with FTL.

2. Do not, for the love of Cthulhu, actually use the word CRISPR. Please, I beg you! You will make every biologist cringe. CRISPR by itself is not nearly enough to make any New Soviet Man...

42:

Actually, what OGH said is perfectly reasonable, and entirely compatible with what you said! Such dipshits are likely to use CRISPR or whatever in an attempt to create their favoured New Human because, obviously, hacking genes does only what it is intended to, right? You can guess the likely results as well as any of us ....

43:

The Ekumen comparison isn't so good, because Charlies universe clearly lacks a unifying philosophy, and is also hundreds or thousands of times bigger. THe Ekumen, whilstl clearly suffering from a certain amount of centralisation etc, was not as gangster like as this setup.
There'll probably be a lot more violence too.

In fact it reminds me of Herbert's setup with the Burea of Sabotage, which has an inscrutable and mysterious yet very workable method of FTL, which had a mind of it's own, although always followed the contract.

44:

>> The Ekumen comparison isn't so good, because Charlies universe clearly lacks a unifying philosophy, and is also hundreds or thousands of times bigger. THe Ekumen, whilstl clearly suffering from a certain amount of centralisation etc, was not as gangster like as this setup.

I meant Ekumen the world, not Ekumen the organization. Hainish cycle has a lot of worlds that were settled long time ago by modified humans, for reasons unknown...

45:

Well why didn't you say so?

46:

I've tried adding various all the various zazzle URLs to my hosts file and the site still loads very slowly, something on the order of 25 seconds. For now I'm not going to worry about it anymore, but if the problem is still happening in a couple weeks I'll look into it some more. Its not interfering much with my enjoyment of the site.

47:

CRISPR by itself is not nearly enough to make any New Soviet Man...

Oddly, I am aware of this.

(Also, I'm setting it so far in the future that something resembling a Soyuz stack — orbital module/airlock, re-entry module, and service module with propulsion and supplies — is a ubiquitous hominid artifact of antiquity almost indistinguishable from a neolithic flint arrowhead. You'd think they'd have something better than CRISPR by then.)

48:

I've been thinking about the covers. The U.K cover for The Delirium Brief is lovely. The U.S. cover is... O.K.

The cover for Empire games is also very nice, but I can't see the right-hand side of the front of the book.

49:

I can't see the right-hand side of the front of the book. Try widening your web browser window? The image is fixed width at 1200 pixels, and the column it's in is set to 70% of the window, so if you view in a 1800 pixel wide window you should be fine.

(I work on a 3000 pixel-wide screen, so ...)

50:

a common currency (for buying gates)

Is that a currency for only buying gates? So, that currency is itself super valuable, and one needs other currencies for that and other items? I assume all will be explained in novel. Looking forward to it.

Please tell me Rev. Schiller has moved out of Colorado.

And as for site loading, for me, on the ipad, it's only slow when there are several hundred comments. Also, the "Empire Games" cover is cut offf, and can't be changed. (But I know what it looks like.)

Finally, forgive an uncle's brag. My nephew plays the Sensitive Boy, SNL - Wells for Boys.

51:

Try retrieving just the bare page itself using wget, curl etc, and see how rapid that is?

52:

"The image is fixed width at 1200 pixels, and the column it's in is set to 70% of the window..."

Umm... it isn't :)

div#content is the full width of the window.
div#content-inner is 80% of div#content.
div#alpha is 70% of div#content-inner.
div#alpha-inner is the width of div#alpha minus 40px of padding (20px either side).

On my system (21" CRT, 1280px screen width - any wider would be useless; as it is I perceive the edges noticeably less well than the centre; browser rendering area reduced from that by scrollbar down one side and tabs down the other) that means div#alpha works out to 601px wide.

The image itself ( http://www.antipope.org/charlie/pix/EG/empire_games-800w.jpg ) is 800px wide which means it overflows its containing div and the right-hand quarter of it is hidden underneath the sidebar.

Inserting the CSS:

img { max-width: 100%; height: auto; }

fixes the problem: it limits images' maximum width to the width of their containing element, and automatically scales the height to suit.

An enhancement that would make this more robust against potentially fucking up images that aren't part of the main post would be to assign all images in posts to a class of their own, eg. .post_image, and use .post_image rather than img as the CSS selector.

53:

Shit... cockup + no edit function.

div#alpha-inner works out for me at 601px wide.
The width of div#alpha is 641px.

54:
...and the Authority, the shadowy not-a-mafia-honest who own and operate the gate (nobody knows who they are or exactly where they live or where the gate is located because if anybody did, well, slower-than-light invasion fleets are always an option
Ah, so not The Eschaton. And as promised, no Spartin Mingfield, Machel Ransour or that cynic with a heart of gold, Francis.
*insincere pout*
55:

[ DELETED for off-topic and derailing political commentary — moderator ]

56:

... because their security respond about the way the US Secret Service responds to death threats against the POTUS). ...

Since "they" have wormholes, "they" *could* take the lazy way and just link one cubic centimetre of the inside of a star with the offenders residence for a few hundred milliseconds.

About wormholes - Serious people are working right now on teasing some of those loose joints in reality apart a little:

"Although the violation is only on the local scale, the implications are far-reaching," Vinokur said. "This provides us a platform for the practical realization of a quantum Maxwell's demon, which could make possible a local quantum perpetual motion machine."

For example, he said, the principle could be designed into a "refrigerator" which could be cooled remotely — that is, the energy expended to cool it could take place anywhere.

https://www.anl.gov/articles/argonne-researchers-posit-way-locally-circumvent-second-law-thermodynamics

Teleporting Energy - that would both be neat and maybe totally terrifying.

PS:
Of course squads of over-armed and hyped-up-on-something goons making kinetic entries are better entertainment (and surely proven to be really good for the e-con-me by recognised economic scholars, experts and licensed commentators - despite some fake-news deplorables who will try to harm society by disagreeing).

57:

On the "site speed" issue, I live on the "UK information B-road" (US I think it's a country road across farmland) and loading time normally stays under 10s per 1_000 comments. Up to 500 comments it's fast enough to be effectively instant.

Also, as well as UKIP Hentai, I'm wondering about Con Party Hentai now, given the number of their present or former MPs who are reported to have indulged in inter-species acts.

58:

Since "they" have wormholes, "they" *could* take the lazy way and just link one cubic centimetre of the inside of a star with the offenders residence for a few hundred milliseconds.

I think OGH has taken this into account - IIRC at least Glasshouse has personal weapons which connect a wormhole to a star, and which are quite effective.

59:

On a pc, the site loads quickly for me regardless of browser, unless it's a really long comment thread.

On a phone with 3G/4G it is painfully slow. I assumed it was something weird with the mobile version and how 3 interprets it. It can be up to 20-30 sec on a bad day, and then it renders the entire page and comment thread in one go.

60:

[ DELETED for off-topic/derailing political commentary - moderator ]

61:

No idea how CSS works and can't be bothered learning — I gave up keeping up with front end web dev in 1996 — and can't remember where Movable Type hides it (somewhere in a maze of twisty little template systems).

62:

Oh, the Authority are willing and able to go a lot further than that, trust me.

But the catch is they can only generate one wormhole between two volumes of space at a time ... within a radius of at least a billion light years. And it takes measurable time (single to double digit milliseconds to tear up/shut down a wormhole. So Glasshouse style magic-tech blaster pistols and masses of T-gates aren't practical. Across ten million worlds, wormholes are a relatively scarce resource, like wide-bodied airliner flight sectors in our world.

63:

I was just pointing out that you have previously considered what one might do with wormholes, and didn't miss the star connection in the previous work.

So, the Authority will just firebomb locations occasionally. They can generate on the order of 8,500,000 wormholes each day (quick and dirty: 86400 seconds in 24 hours times hundred for a ten milliseconds of fiddling with the wormhole), so each world gets about one wormhole every day.

64:

And, being you, I assume that you have also taken my comment #42 on board, being one about human nature :-) Even in my lifetime, I have seen several technologies claimed to eliminate human error, only to create new ways of cocking it up at higher levels ....

65:

My experience (since way before HTML) is that, whenever you decide that you need to catch up with the latest recommended, official, standard, stable interface, the time taken to do so is slightly longer than the time its maintainers take to replace it with something even more complicated, bizarre and incomprehensible. Douglas Adams had something to say about that, if I recall. Such specifications are written by and for people who do nothing other than use them full-time.

66:

Of course I'm there.

This probably doesn't qualify as a spoiler, but: there are numerous human sub-species in the Authority's universe, but the main protagonists in Ghost Engine are Shinies, from a smallish group of settled star systems known as the Shining worlds. About a quarter of a million years ago their designers rolled up their sleeves and got serious about abolishing intersectional oppression through better genetic (and cultural) engineering. They failed, but interestingly. Shinies aren't reproductively compatible with baseline hominids any more (arguably, they may not even be members of class mammalia), but they're stable, they're individually no more and no less flexible than anyone else from a species that still has the free will and selfhood delusions, and their societies don't have patriarchal or racist failure modes. Unfortunately they have other failure modes, and interacting with more orthodox hominids can be fraught, especially when the folks they're dealing with are fervent followers of something not unlike Roko's Basilisk ...

67:

It doesn't help that most standards committees are essentially Hell For Engineers, so many of the best people figure out ways to avoid being on them.

68:

Parenthetically: one of the things that always bugged me about Iain's Culture setting was that the Culture is near-as-fuck omnipotent. Rampaging religious fanatics trying to conquer the galaxy and blowing up stars? The Culture deals with them (messily, but when the dust settles, the Idirans are gone). A lunatic trying to corner the market in hells? Send a Special Circumstances agent. And so on.

So if you cut the Culture down by about 99.9%, strip away the Minds and GSVs and their smug conviction that they've got all the answers, and dump them in a universe replete with vastly more powerful entities that ranges from indifferent to actively hostile, and hybridise with Samuel Delany's Triton (an "ambiguous heterotopia"), then you've got the starting point for the Shining worlds.

69:

And, indeed, that most programmers regard standards as "very good things indeed" which is why we have so many of them!

Equally, we tend to have ways of working around most of them, even if it's just saying "The development methodology for $project shall be prototyping" which tends to mean "bang out the code first, and then maybe write the design document if we have time later".

70:

The problem about such speculations is that they are cheap and common, but nobody is prepared to fund the research to check on them, because the Established Authorities know what the answer is. Often with two official answers, when there is a discrepancy between quantmm mechanics and relativity. Until there is some hard data, it's hard to distinguish science fiction from fantasy from some of the papers in physics journals.

71:

The Authority prefers to send a polite cease and desist note as a first resort.

But if that fails, they can escalate. All the way up to swapping a cubic kilometer of the core of the planet you're standing on with a cubic kilometer from the core of a neutron star.

(That's somewhere between 10 and 100 Jupiter masses of blazingly hot neutronium, which isn't quite massive enough to remain gravitationally bound, so it decays to protons, electrons, and neutrinos with a half-life on the order of 10 minutes. The only consolation is that you'll be squished into a bloody paste in the first milliseconds and won't live long enough to see the ground you're lying on glowing white hot: centuries later, the photons emitted by your vaped-to-plasma remains will be part of the spectrum of an anomalous nova event visible to the naked eye, just to underline the message, "do not fuck with the Authority".)

((Yes, yes, I have been strip-mining the world-building of my own earlier space operas for best-practices tips and tricks, why would you think otherwise? Just postulate a mashup of the best bits of Iron Sunrise, Glasshouse, and Palimpsest stuck in a blender on high speed then prepared to a recipe by Iain M. Banks and you'll be on the right track.))

72:

Presumably just shutting off access to the network for a couple of years would get most civilisations attention.

73:

OK - I'll post it in the other thread, where it should be relevant ....

74:

>>>But the catch is they can only generate one wormhole between two volumes of space at a time ... within a radius of at least a billion light years. And it takes measurable time (single to double digit milliseconds to tear up/shut down a wormhole. So Glasshouse style magic-tech blaster pistols and masses of T-gates aren't practical. Across ten million worlds, wormholes are a relatively scarce resource, like wide-bodied airliner flight sectors in our world.

Does the Authority have a separate FTL communication technology?

Because if not, then they have to communicate with the scheduling server using the same wormhole generator. Which means opening a wormhole to wherever the server is pretty often.

Also, they'll have to regularly open wormholes into every system where potential clients reside, just to enable people to request wormholes.

Some idiots probably tried to DDoS them at some point, and ended up either banned or iron-sunrised.

But the need to communicate with the server leaves them vulnerable to discovery. Unless they use the "Good Luck, I'm Behind 7 Proxies" technique, where the information is passed through several wormholes opened in sequence, and nobody knows where the relay wormholes are.

But then this kind of routing wastes valuable wormhole time.

But maybe they collect many requests (over multiple star systems) and send them all at once...

I hope I'm not spoiling anything.

75:

If you can move half a neutron star across a galaxy without breaking a sweat then relocating every now and then shouldn't be too hard.

76:

Does the Authority have a separate FTL communication technology?

Yes: ansibles, aka the causal channels from Singularity Sky/Iron Sunrise. Limited bandwidth because the entangled particle pairs decohere after transferring one bit of data and decohere if you shove them through a wormhole, so they can only be spread at great expense via slower than light transit.

NB: yes, the setting is two thirds of a megayear in the future, but the settled radius is much more than 2 million light years. There is a very sneaky piece of back story involving causality violation that I'm keeping up my sleeve for a future yarn. Let's just say that the Shining Worlds setting might be a side-branch of the Palimpsest world-line (but not the one Pierce observed during the Rebellion).

77:

>>(That's somewhere between 10 and 100 Jupiter masses of blazingly hot neutronium, which isn't quite massive enough to remain gravitationally bound, so it decays to protons, electrons, and neutrinos with a half-life on the order of 10 minutes. The only consolation is that you'll be squished into a bloody paste in the first milliseconds and won't live long enough to see the ground you're lying on glowing white hot: centuries later, the photons emitted by your vaped-to-plasma remains will be part of the spectrum of an anomalous nova event visible to the naked eye, just to underline the message, "do not fuck with the Authority".)


Erm. Charlie, a cubic kilometer of neutronium inside a planet is not going to patiently wait to decay. It has an enormous density, and nothing is holding it anymore. So what's gonna happen (in the first nanosecond of the event) is an explosion, as all those neutrons expand into a huge cloud of neutron gas, evaporating the planet like it wasn't even there.

And at the same time, the poor hollowed-out neutron star is going to collapse into itself, probably creating a black hole in the process.

You will end up with two anomalous nova events (the second one probably much stronger).

78:

Looks like a good way to get around for free to me.

1. Build enormous light sail.
2. Slowly move to outside of solar system.
3. Troll Authority.
4. Free transport!

Repeat once per destination.

79:

Of course they just might have other methods of dealing with annoying people, for example just getting rid of that lightsail, or helping it to move very fast to a destination where it can't move...

It depends of course on how well they can locate the troll.

(Oh, and I want to read these books, preferably sooner than later. ;)

80:

Do you know why Empire Games was delayed until after the holidays? Seems like skipping the Christmas shopping season is giving up sales unnecessarily.

81:

Details, details .... And it would send two messages, rather than one. I am not convinced about any black hole lasting an appreciable time, even if the current extrapolations are true, though there would be a hell of a bang. Actually, just interchanging (say) a million cubic kilometers out of the centre of a an ordinary star (say, Sol) with a local near-vacuum might well trigger a nova-like explosion. It would be interesting to hear a solar physicist comment on that.

If the Authority just wants to prove a point and convey a muted message, I would guess that exchanging a very small volume (a cubic metre?) with the centre of an earth-like planet would flatten everything on it and the consequent vulcanism would destroy all higher life.

82:

I knew you would be, but am pleased that it is such a significant aspect. That's not so much a spoiler as a teaser!

83:

IRIS! I thought she was still on extended leave in Cumbria?

I do hope we get Bob back as a character even in a supporting role. (And I am still holding out for a happy ending - including offspring - for Bob and Agent CANDID - in a future book... one that hopefully has a VERY extended aftermath description.)

BTW I too feel the Ipcress Files style US cover is superior.

More Charlie books are always welcome :)

84:

I actually prefer the British cover, and yes I can see the built-in joke.

85:

Of course they just might have other methods of dealing with annoying people

Their preferred method is more along the lines of "procure time machine, use it to give Adolf Hitler a bursary to attend art school". The nova bombs are for when the art school bursary fails, and so do the next few escallation rungs.

After all, killing paying customers is bad for business, right?

86:

So they'll be routers between various slower-than-light groups which are each distributing their own sets of quantum communication channels. If you want to send an FTL message across the quantum links used by the Shining worlds its probably expensive, but bearable. But if you need to invoke a router which links the Shinie's quantum links distribution to someone else's quantum links distribution, perhaps across several sets of quantum links distributions, then it literally costs a fortune! And not everyone is using the same routing protocol or definition of a packet...

Also, at that point, the descendants of anyone who bought a couple trillion IPV6 addresses - which is cheap to the point of silliness right now - is a major player along the lines of Microsoft or Google.

87:

Good news: Bob is the narrator of The Delirium Brief.

Bad news: the planned novella is all about Derek the DM, and the next novel is (provisionally) narrated by Mhari, who is not at all who Bob sees her as (and not entirely as Mo views her, either).

88:

Meanwhile, on the US store:
"At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied."

Thank you for the xmas gift, based Stross

89:

the next novel is (provisionally) narrated by Mhari, who is not at all who Bob sees her as (and not entirely as Mo views her, either).
Which is, at least potentially, how I sometimes view an "unreliable narrator"; they report what they think accurately, but what they think is actually wrong.

90:

Tor do not mandate DRM on ebooks.

The Laundry Files are moving to Tor; the Merchant Princes/Empire Games series has been there all along.

It's not yet clear where my Space Opera is going to wind up, but Tor is a distinct possibility.

91:

The funny thing would be if Mhari actually is the reliable narrator.

92:

That's actually a really good idea, and I am going to have a think about it for the next year or so before I start writing.

93:

What I meant was that "unreliable narrator" is not necessarily the same as "narrator who is deliberately misleading the narrated to".

94:

The trick is that if you do it, you must never show that particular card.

95:

I'm really happy to hear about the strip-mining. I know you said the Eschaton universe was done broke and how but there were so many good ideas in there along with those other books, it'd be a shame not to dust them off and give it another go in another setting.

It sounds like there's going to be weakly god-like players in this setting but it's not going to be as strongly post-singularity as Accelerando? The thing that stuck in my mind the most was trying to imagine what was going on inside the singularity but I realized that it would be incomprehensible to a baseline mind. Really, the only POV for a story like this must be from the perspective of a human outside of the singularity because there's no suitable human frame of reference inside. It's not like you're a cultural anthropologist exploring a strange new culture that's just novel software running on standard human wetware. You're incapable of modeling such minds and are left observing resource allocation from outside and guessing at what they're about. And the conclusion is "they need a lot of power for whatever it is they're doing in their simulation spaces." Even if you tried to take a documentarian POV to explain what's going on inside, like Attenborough taking us on a tour through an ecosystem, it would be tough.

96:

I like to imagine that there's an organization with a working chronoscope that can tell who the next hitler will be. Their job is getting these people into art school so their worst crimes offend good taste rather than end civilizations. This thus explains the otherwise improbable careers of various artists. You don't want to know what Lady Gaga would have otherwise been up to in 2025.

97:

Oh! Funny! That explains a lot of observed phenomena. The problem is that you can send a good revolutionary to "art school" too, which also explains a lot.

98:

Actually, in my view, the trick is to make the unreliability plausible in terms of the characters described, especially with two witnesses of different genders (and, remember, Bob is a geek).

99:

They are all "good" revolutionaries. Just ask them if you don't believe me.

100:

"No Captain Vimes, really, I'm a good revolutionary, I just want to replace the Tyrant with something better!"

Telling the good ones from the bad ones, that's the thing.

101:

Sigh I just realized Shiller's church may be the Navigators, or competing with them and that's why the Black Chamber is involved so much.

The Navigators, for those unaware, are a really creepy evangelical church headquartered across the street from the Air Force academy. They are mega church style, and big on recruiting as much of the Air Force as they can. There are many lawsuits about their behavior, because often Air Force Academy staff are members of the church and try to convert cadets. Stories get nasty when they deal with non-Christian cadets and are continuing series of lawsuits by the FFRF and MRFF. Also big into conversion therapy.

102:

The conversion efforts in the US military are no joke. These people are deadly serious. I grew up in the church and saw some of the kookier fringe stuff. They have their own newspapers, radio, bookstores and a curated view of reality. Your facts have no power here! Case in point, David Barton. He has a whole argument about how the US was expressly founded as a Christian nation. No secular historian will give him the time of day but he can speak well, writes convincingly for the uneducated and is addressing a willing audience predisposed to believe what he's telling them. This is no longer a factual debate but a question of religious belief like creationism. As the man said, you can't reason someone out of a belief they were never reasoned into.

Regarding evangelicals, Israel looms large in their eschatology. On one hand, I can imagine Jews finding it nice to get some support from Christians for a change rather than the usual pogroms but I'd have to imagine it doesn't set well with those who are paying attention. For true believers in the Book of Revelation, Jews may be God's chosen but they're clearly not following the correct revision of the religion. The nation of Israel must be established back in the Holy Land as a precondition for doomsday and Jews will all be given a chance to convert in the end. Those who refuse will be cast into the lake of fire with all the other sinners.

I've always been amused by the idea of an omnipotent and all-powerful God whose plans nevertheless lie within the scope of human action to aid or hinder. Really? So the Apocalypse, the End of Days, the Big Show is all held up because of a name on a map? Who knew Heaven had red tape. It's like with blasphemy. If the Almighty is truly offended by whatever I said, I think He should be able to express Himself without your help.

I found Schiller a very scary character since we're looking at a marriage of Christian sincere beliefs and cthuloid subversion. Evangelical cultists, a terrifying thought and that's even before the lingual parasitism.

103:

Yup, Evangelical Cultists believing in end of days scenarios, and actively recruiting the people who handle nuclear weapons and convincing them that irresponsible use will bring the second coming. Charlie just added tentacles.

104:

I've always been amused by the idea of an omnipotent and all-powerful God whose plans nevertheless lie within the scope of human action to aid or hinder.

I've always found it even more amusing to contemplate the idea that the creator of cosmological expansion, pulsars, and salmon waxes wroth over the tendency of some humans to rub their genitalia together in an unapproved manner or without having a spokesperson recite a magic spell over them first.

But then, if you've been reading the books you probably already guessed that about me.

(NB: Schiller has upgraded his brain control parasites from the tongue-eating isopods of The Apocalypse Codex to a whole new level of turbocharged nope. Enjoy!)

105:

Even worse: by some accounts, the junior officers with their fingers on the dual-key triggers of the Minuteman force are a neglected backwater in the modern US Air Force, with limited oversight and slack discipline, because nukes are politically unusable and there has been no real cold war level threat for a quarter of a century now.

106:

So with what is in effect a single wormhole whose ends are sliding around space-time changing size, shape, and location at the Authorities control, you have to go back to a time-share control system like the old mainframes used.

Giga-engineering projects sound like they could be much more useful but a lot of work would need to be prebuilt.

With the Ghost Engine's wormhole tech you could assemble a Dyson sphere from prebuilt parts over a weekend or so, depending on the volume and time per wormhole opening. And those parts could be spread out ready to go over a million worlds. Could be a nice taxation system for those worlds by the Authority in the Keynsian style of creating work of no local value like digging and filling a hole, that still causes local economic growth. A million worlds get 100% employment and training on building mega projects, and the authority gets a Dyson sphere for easy non-wormhole time stealing power and as an added benefit it hides their star.


107:

Nope.

Transferrable volume maxes out at around one cubic kilometre. No Dyson spheres or mega-engineering!

108:

I won't push on this because I expect you have some details to play with in the story, but I can think of all kinds of ways to build big from kilometer sized building blocks.

And, of course, sincere we are dealing with potentially relativistic objects here, one frame of reference's kilometer can be another's ten meters.

109:

Yeah
Try talking to "Momentum" - you simply can NOT convince them that Marx was wrong, their eyes glaze over & then they start shouting at you ....
And they consider my Labour MP too right-wing ( Thus trying to ensure a Tory gets in ...
This is the sort of stupidity that lets Farage look-alikes get away with it.

110:

And that is several orders of magnitude more scary than the loonies I mentioned in my post just above ......

111:

I don't know how your installation maps URLs to filesystem paths, but if the mapping is direct then you seem to have a stylesheet at $document_root/charlie/blog-static/additional-styles.css into which you could drop the CSS rule I suggested and it ought to do the trick.

112:

I find it a profoundly depressing statement of the nature of the human species that as soon as the founder wasn't around any more, his basic message of "don't be a cunt to people" got dropped on the floor and replaced by some other bugger's enforcement of his personal sexual prejudices on the population at large, even though there is actually very little on that subject in the Bible compared to the amount of war, murder and general mayhem. (And that little which is present is invariably misinterpreted: eg. the "sin of Onan" was not wanking, it was attempting to evade his duty to beget children in place of his brother.)

As for the nuts who think they can somehow trigger the events of Revelation, the inconsistencies involved in such a view just make me give up and cry.

113:

I think this is the right place to suggest that those indigestible events of 2016 be collectively name the Global Embuggerance.

114:

I don't feel like we are going to get a happy ending for Agent HOWARD and Agent CANDID. At least not together.

Individually though... I think the picture for Agent CANDID is relatively clear at this point, and if there is ever a break in the grimdark, I feel like BASHFUL INCENDIARY might feel differently about the Eater of Souls.

115:

And, in a case of truth mirroring snark (or vice versa), I just saw an interview with Helen Marten (this year's Turner Prize winner).

Timeline:-
Gregory Muir made post.
Interview was shot.
I saw interview.
I read the post.

116:

I am no expert, because I gave up after a few dozen pages of Das Kapital (apparently quite good going), but don't malign Marx on the basis of what his idiot followers say. Pigeon in #122 is relevant here! According to informed reports, his analysis of the problem was pretty good, but his solution was wishful thinking. I share your opinion about those arseholes, which was also true of many Labour activists in the 1960s, and why there was a reaction in the 1970s. The pendulum has, of course, swung entirely the other way :-(

117:

The blog here runs on a big gnarly content management system hanging off an RDBMS. The next rebuild (triggered by posting a new entry or maybe even just a comment) is capable of breaking absolute filesystem paths. And in any event, absolute paths are a big no-no for future migration plans to a new platform (which is going to happen sooner or later — whenever I get bored and have a couple of weeks spare).

118:

Oh boy do you have a bunch of surprises coming in The Delirium Brief ...

119:

According to informed reports, his analysis of the problem was pretty good, but his solution was wishful thinking.
Spot on

In the same way that christianity is Bronze-Age gotherders' myths, islam Dark-Ages camelherders' myths. marxism is 19thC economists' myths .....

Also, his predictions were based on nothing else changing, whereas, working conditions improved, employers gradually recognised "organised labour" national health insurance ( Bismarck & Lloyd George) came in etc, etc.
And, famously, "the revolution" was going to happen first in the most developed countries - which then were:
GB, USA, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands.
Oops, as they say.

120:

To be fair, when Marx came up with his diagnosis very few people had actually *tried* to solve the problems of early modern capitalism that he anatomized. His prescription was more of a back-of-the-envelope suggestion: "wouldn't it be nice if we could do ..." than a detailed game-plan. And the early followers of Marx, circa the First International, ran the gamut from the hardline dipshits who gave us Lenin to the left-anarchists at the anti-authoritarian end of the spectrum, then over to the socialists and then the social democrats who defined the mainstream of, well, democratic politics everywhere for the second half of the 20th century (before they were coopted into the Beige Dictatorship).

121:

Hi Charlie

I notice that Audible UK are showing the Fuller Memorandum as "Not Available" whereas in the past they simply didn't mention it. Can one infer it may become available in the UK at some point? Or would you think it simply a side effect of the Big River acquisition and the merging of systems?

122:

I suspect that I do, too. I have made several deductions based on 'trailers' in the text and your comments here, but my record of predicting you correctly is not good. That's one of the reasons that I read your books :-)

123:

Yeah ...
I wonder what the actual manoeuvrings were in the first 10-25 years of what became christianity & islam, behind the scenes?
To some extent we know the latter, but certainly not the former.
One thing in common - all have turned out badly .....

124:

That's easy. There were no maneuverings, as such things are impossible when the result is the inerrant word of...

I'm waiting to see what Charlies Roko's Basilisk worshipers think their backstory is.

125:

The relevant period for the former was actually centuries.

126:

Post Annihilation Score I think it is pretty clear that a happy ending for agent HOWARD means getting away from agent CANDID.

The opening chapter alone is pretty clear how deep the problems are, and between CANDID's actions and her contempt of HOWARD it is clear he needs to get out of that relationship pronto, he just doesn't pick up on it because he refuses to see what is happening.

"You know, it's funny; when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags."

127:

You mean "is millennia and still counting" (for Xtianity).
Justification - "The Epistles of the Apostle Paul" are letters to separate churches in $place collected.
There have been schisms, unions and discussions about same between Churches in the last 5 or 6 years.

128:

"his analysis of the problem was pretty good, but his solution was wishful thinking."

This is always the problem, isn't it? I've been reading up on Beppe Grillo given what's going on in Italy. Some of the stuff he says I'm nodding my head in agreement with but I'm trying to see which direction he's taking it. We can all agree that the aristocracy is full of bastards but what sort of people do you have involved in this revolution of yours? We've seen plenty of cases where the revolution is worse than the status quo.

A comment I saw elsewhere: "Reading that article on Grillo, I was reminded of John Michael Greer’s opinion (sorry, couldn’t find cite) that fascism is an extremist form of political centrism, not an extreme of the right. Rejecting both left and right when the entire political class has demonstrated its incompetence seems refreshing, but with no intermediary between the mob and the autocrat, things rapidly spiral out of control."

That's what this election was about, rejecting the official parties. Trump is not an establishment Republican. The leadership did not want him. The party intelligentsia (if such a word could be used in relation to Republicans) revolted. And all the winger movements around the world now are a rejection of the usual way of doing things.

129:

No. I meant precisely what I said. The fact that there is still ongoing variation doesn't distinguish it from any other long-running human organisation; the situation for the first few centuries was one of continual change in what passed for the mainstream.

130:

It's a database burp; as far as I know, for licensing/rights reasons "The Fuller Memorandum" and "The Apocalypse Codex" are unlikely to ever be available as audiobooks for sale in the UK territory.

Long story, and I can't be arsed to repeat myself again. Bittorrent is a thing. You know what to do.

131:

Where did you get "contempt" from?

How about "clear-eyed understanding of her spouse, warts included"?

(Hint: I don't believe in unvarnished starry-eyed happy-ever-after love that blinds one to all faults. Not after a decade, anyway. Most long-term couples have problems; they also develop coping strategies, or they don't stay couples in the long-term. The question is whether Bob and Mo are developing coping strategies fast enough to deal with their problems, which are not entirely self-inflicted.)

132:

I always took CANDID's dissatisfaction with Bob was largely due to to PTSD and there was likely to be a rapprochement. Mahogany Row suggested taking time out to fix her relationship with him. So I have hope.

But then, I am a romantic.

Although, as per Charlie's comment above, I am not sure they have time to fix things.

Similarly, I can't wait for the second half of The Nightmare Stacks (which didn't end, so much as was interrupted) and seeing how Alex and Cassie's relationship comes along.

I definitely got the impression that Mhari pre-vampirism was just another flawed woman struggling to get her adult life back on track after a decidedly mixed start and thereby launching phenomenally successful career almost by accident, or at least, out of desperation. I've known plenty of people like that. And post vampirism, or at least post re-entry to the Laundry, desperately clinging on to what passes for reality while her life hurtles past her. Again, desperate, and lonely. She badly needs some friends.

BTW: I also look forward to the return of Angleton. I can't believe Charlie hustled him off stage - he must have been an absolute joy to write.

133:

>Long story, and I can't be arsed to repeat myself again. Bittorrent is a thing. You know what to do.

Yes I am quite familiar with the story. Just wondered if it was an error or a presentiment!

At one time I looked into buying the UK audio book rights to the Fuller Memorandum but it was not to be!!

I was really impressed that story, not least because I had a manager like that...

134:

In the same way that christianity is Bronze-Age gotherders' myths, islam Dark-Ages camelherders' myths. marxism is 19thC economists' myths .....

/Slaps Greg around with a wet trout/

Gotta get your spatiotemporal navigation skills upgraded, I'm afraid.

Failure #1: The Bible is strictly Iron Age stuff. Here's the hint: there were Bronze Age cultures in the Holy Land, and they pre-dated Israel by hundreds of years. You might know them as the Phoenicians, although properly, they were the Phoenicians' predecessors who went by a different name. I know saying "bronze age goatherds" makes you feel all superior, but the bigger point is that the people of the late bronze age were a bunch of internationalists, while the iron agers that followed them (including the founders of Israel and Judea) were a bunch of reactionary authoritarians, due to the melt-down of the bronze age international system. Any parallels between the collapse of bronze age internationalism and iron age isolationism are of course *totally relevant* to the mess we're in today, with rapidly advancing technology and rapidly advancing populist isolationism. (as an inane aside, we're apparently about 1,000 years too late to know what bronze age spiritual practices actually looked like, but that's a different story. It has to do with Babylonian survivals in the Mesopotamian marshes, and the relevant ancient travelogue hasn't been translated into English. This might be useful in the Laundryverse, but not in this discussion).

Failure #2: The Dark Age was a western European phenomenon. Islam arose on the Arabian peninsula. Mohammed was an international trader, although in this case, he ran caravans between city-states before he got religion. Again, not your ignorant savage, whatever his followers have done.

Anyway, feel free to be as insulting as the moderators will allow, but you might want to upgrade a bit if you want such stuff to be taken seriously.

As for Marx and the other economists, my rule of pinkie (not big enough to be a rule of thumb) is that it's worth learning more about the ones who actually made some money, on the "talk the walk" principle. It's like the Wall Street consulting firm composed of Economics Nobel Prize winners, who went bankrupt. Marx was a chronic sponger, and many of the "great" economists never got out of the middle class.

If you want advice from economists who made lots of money, you need to look at people like Keynes (who made a killing in the foreign exchange markets, trading only before breakfast) and Taleb (the Black Swan dude, who made quite a bit in the market before he started pontificating, and thinks economics is mathematically and theoretically bankrupt).

135:

Not to mention the actual write down to codify beliefs was mostly done for rabbinical Judaism and early Christianity during the glory days of the Iron Age Pax Romania, with the movements doing their biggest work in upset fringes and times of trouble. Break down of one social order leading to the rise of another.

Like the rise of various protestant churches during the collapse of the HRE and their great expansion during the 30 years war. Or how they collapsed as an institution during the industrial revolution, as Marx rose.

136:

You wrote:
David Barton. He has a whole argument about how the US was expressly founded as a Christian nation.
--- end excerpt ---

Well, historians won't even talk to him for a very simple reason: it's a lie.

I refer you to the Treaty of Tripoli*, 1797, negotiated under President G. Washington, and approved unanimously by the Senate, with it's crew of Founding Fathers, and signed by President J. Adams, Article 11, which begins, "As we are in no wise a Christian nation..."

And here's my most recent proof that God (tm), as they know it doesn't exist:
1. Emperor Constantine *surely* was divinely inspired, and had no motives involving binding the Roman Empire together, in the choosing of what went into and didn't go into the Official Bible. Yes?
2. Every translator was divinely inspired (even though, for example, a friend who translated the Greek for herself, says that it reads, "suffer not a poisoner (as of wells) to live", not "suffer not a witch to live".
3. Their Omnipotent, Omniscient deity cannot seem to Divinely Inspire his writers in such a manner that there is *no* disagreement or reason for a church to break up, and Pope Frank believes the same as the US Sudden Badtaste Convention, and the same as Westboro Badtaste Church.

As Col. Potter put in, horse hockey.

mark

137:

Marx: someone above seems to paraphrase Tule Kupferberg (this is from memory): Marx's analysis was spot-on, it's his prescription that doesn't work.

Back when I was around 19, I actually read an *entire* 300 page abridgement of Capital.

Trouble is, like a few folks a century and less before who did it with form of government, he's trying to come with a form of economics that works for all. It did, however, wind up as economic-political Messiahism. Also, industrialization and tech changed some of the basis.

I really do have to get back writing my political book; then I can tell you I'm a markist (and I Do have the answers, just ask me....).

For another, Marx & Lennon (Groucho and John).

mark

138:

The Dark Age was a western European phenomenon. Islam arose on the Arabian peninsula.

And it was the Islamic libraries that helped end the Dark Ages...

139:

Every translator was divinely inspired (even though, for example, a friend who translated the Greek for herself, says that it reads, "suffer not a poisoner (as of wells) to live", not "suffer not a witch to live".

I think we've been over this before. Anyhow, in the original Hebrew the word is of uncertain meaning, but the closest translation is possibly Herbalist, most likely referring to healer women.
And that poisoning of wells seems to go more to the libel that Jews caused the Plague.

As the Rabbinic saying goes "Translation is Interpretation."

140:

Failure #2: The Dark Age was a western European phenomenon.

The Middle Kingdom not having had an equivalent period, for example.

141:

Charlie said: Even worse: by some accounts, the junior officers with their fingers on the dual-key triggers of the Minuteman force are a neglected backwater in the modern US Air Force, with limited oversight and slack discipline, because nukes are politically unusable and there has been no real cold war level threat for a quarter of a century now.

This scandal happened in 2014. Read the NYTimes article and watch the Newshour report. Pay attention to Bruce G. Blair in both and what he says about the cheating that has been ongoing for decades.

Air Force Fires 9 Officers in Scandal Over Cheating on Proficiency Tests
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/28/us/air-force-fires-9-officers-accused-in-cheating-scandal.html

Air Force officers caught in cheating scandal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dkk0xWkseDY

The phrase, "Why not, Minot," still sends a shudder through me. There, but for the grace of a collapsed metatarsal arch, go I. HA!

142:

The Middle Kingdom not having had an equivalent period, for example.

Are you by any chance forgetting Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor, and his suppression of all rival philosophies and burning of literature?

It's not an exact equivalent — it was deliberate loss of knowledge rather than accidental — but the end result is the same.

143:

Didn't last hundreds of years, though, and doesn't have the same "fall from Golden Age" vibe that the 'Dark Ages' have in European history.

(A better analogy might be Bismarck and Prussia and the unification of Germany, although I wouldn't want to push that very far.)

144:

Errr ..
There are references in the "bible" to the Isrealites being forbidden the use of Iron by the Phonecians/Philistines ( Book of Judges IIRC ) ... so anything before that date is automatically Bronze-Age - YES?"

And Mahmud was an authoritarian arsehole of the first water, if you actually fight your way through "the recital" - it reads horribly like "Dr" Paisley, far too often ....

See also other commentators

145:

What about the Warring states period, or the iterregnums after the fall of the Han - almost contemporaneous with the collapse of "the West" - though they recovered faster - leading to the Tang dynasty ( IIRC )

146:

There was a collapse at the end of the Han.

However, remember that the Dark Age is purely a Western European phenomenon. The Byzantines came off okay, as did the Sassanids and later the Arabs.

As I've pointed out elsewhere, in western Europe, we have the "Fall of the Roman Empire." In Eastern Europe, we have the continuation of the Roman Empire (renamed the Byzantine) until the 15th Century CE. You can look at the Dark Ages as the collapse of empire, which is our story, or you can look at the Roman empire shedding its dysfunctional western provinces while concentrating on the profitable eastern provinces, which is a slightly more useful story. Either way, the point is that the world didn't plunge into darkness when western Europe was kicked onto the discard bin, however much we've spun the story subsequently to make much of western Europes 19th and 20th Century greatness.

147:

The more "Dark age" history I read, the more I realise that it wasn’t as dark as people make out. This is why the phrase "Dark age" is not used by historians rather it is Early Medieval,with what was medieval becoming Hig Medieval.

148:

Greg pointed out it was crap argument with no basis. There was no one here defending David Barton.

149:

"There is no Dark Age of Europe really. Matter of fact it's all dark." Couldn't resist.

The taxonomy I used to see most often was Late Antiquity; Dark Age (only 850-1050); High Medieval; Early Modern. No doubt every Western Civ or equivalent class has its own favorite Table of Contents.

150:

Arguably it lasted in some form or another until ~1920. Both Russia and the Ottoman's claimed legitimacy of the Romans. The Ottoman Map in 1683 looks a lot like that of the Eastern Empire at it's greatest. The Ottoman's even had origins in the Sultanate of Rum.

Otoh, the Islamic Golden age has a clear ending point in Mongol invasion. Between destruction of libraries, depopulation, destruction of infrastructure, and destruction of trade routes, it's a lot like the same destruction the Western Empire had.

151:

I don't think that's how modern historians generally interpret any of the parts of that story.

152:

I'd say Late Antiquity ends around the time of the Carolingians ~750. That's where broad borders start being defined, the Germans convert, and the Carolingian Renaissance occurs. Literacy starts up again, the migrations are over, and stability is much greater. No more random horde of Germans, or Franks or Berbers coming and forming a new nation. (Except the Vikings, which only really take over England and Normandy (although some Normans do take over Sicily), and England doesn't really stabilize until William the Conqueror).

153:

Actually, the Carolingian lands are a mess from 850 til at least Capet. Some of them actually take refuge in Saxon England. And the Vikings get around a lot. Plus Magyars. Plus people I have probably forgotten.

However, I agree it all depends on where you were standing literally. Some places are darker than others. And some places don't join "Europe" UNTIL the Dark Ages: Poland, Kievan Rus', etc.

Also some of these definitions are partly based on literature: you still have Latin literature up to Charlemagne, then oral or nothing, then native languages, then Latin/Greek make a few different come backs.

154:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p003hydz

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne and the Carolingian Renaissance. In 800 AD on Christmas Day in Rome, Pope Leo III proclaimed Charlemagne Emperor. According to the Frankish historian Einhard, Charlemagne would never have set foot in St Peter's that day if he had known that the Pope intended to crown him. But Charlemagne accepted his coronation with magnanimity. Regarded as the first of the Holy Roman Emperors, Charlemagne became a touchstone for legitimacy until the institution was brought to an end by Napoleon in 1806. A Frankish King who held more territory in Western Europe than any man since the Roman Emperor, Charlemagne's lands extended from the Atlantic to Vienna and from Northern Germany to Rome. His reign marked a period of enormous cultural and literary achievement. But at its foundation lay conquest, conversion at the point of a sword and a form of Christianity that was obsessed with sin, discipline and correction. How did Charlemagne become the most powerful man in Western Europe and how did he finance his conquests? Why was he able to draw Europe's most impressive scholars to his court? How successful was he in his quest to reform his church and educate the clergy? And can the Carolingian period really be called a Renaissance? With Matthew Innes, Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London; Julia Smith, Edwards Professor of Medieval History at Glasgow University; Mary Garrison, Lecturer in History at the University of York

155:

Warring States was pre-unification. Interregnums were between dynasties, but the social order didn't change as much as Europe did during the 'Dark Ages'.

My view is, I admit, coloured by the Chinese view of their history (and by Needham's work on their technology). The Mandate of Heaven allows for a complete change of rulership without losing (perceived) cultural continuity. (The cultural continuity is strange — both resilient and evolutionary.) It's a bit as if we regarded the Holy Roman Empire as the legitimate continuation of the Roman Empire…

If you're interested, I'd recommend this book:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2293596.Chinese_Heritage

Wu does a decent job of synthesizing what was known about ancient Chinese history into a compelling narrative with vivid characters. He's clear on when he relies on legends and when there's corroborating evidence (not as often as we'd like, but that's true for all ancient history). (And since the book was written some ancient walled settlements have been found that corroborate some of the legends about early agricultural states.) Lots of footnotes and discussions of what certain characters mean (always a problem with ancient texts).

The more I dig into different periods of history, the more suspicious I grow of analogies and equivalencies. They can be useful when first surveying a period/place, but important differences are too easily lost for me to be comfortable with them.

156:

I think I read The Annihilation Score a little differently. My impression was that Mo still cares about Bob, for all his (rightly or wrongly perceived) flaws, but that she spent most of the book being pretty dishonest with herself about what she was doing and why she was doing it. These two things are obviously going to collide in the future, but I thought things were near the point of no return by the end of the book, maybe even past it.

If I'm wrong about where things are headed, then I'm happy to be corrected by OGH. With tentacles.

I too look forward to the return of DSS Angleton. Complete with giving Bob a frosty stare and a comment along the lines of "Well? I *said* we'd talk later, boy." as Bob gawps.

157:

I strongly believe I've seen Angleton running around in the last two books which involve Bob and Mo... I just don't want to spoiler it if I'm right (and I could well be wrong.)

158:

The phrase, "Why not, Minot," still sends a shudder through me

Ooooh, Dakrats...

159:

Yeah, there are two different stories here, if you believe the scholars who study collapses and continuities, which I did for that book I wrote.

There's the Roman empire model, in which the empire collapsed, there was a dark age, then the Middle Ages, along with various attempts along the way to rebuild the Roman Empire up to (currently) the Third Reich and arguably the EU. But the key model is a loss of a great polity, with subsequent attempts (Charlemagne, Napoleon, Hitler) to rebuild said empire under a new emperor.

The Chinese now have this idea of the Mandate of Heaven, wherein Heaven determines who rules, and the ruler who fails is pitched out and a new ruler is chosen to found a new dynasty. They like to emphasize the continuity, so periods like the sixteen kingdoms (304-439 CE) don't get emphasized. Similarly, "Chinese" is seen as a single language, although their dialects are no more mutually intelligible than French and Italian.

I can speculate about why continuity matters more to the Chinese than it did to, say, the Holy Roman Empire, but the basic point is that China and Europe have crudely the same landmass. Both have similar histories, wherein a dynasty unites some group of territories for some period, then it falls apart again, then some territories get united by another conqueror, then that one falls apart again, and the states and state boundaries each time are wildly different (for China, sometimes parts of Korea and/or Tibet are part of the empire. For "Rome," sometimes it extends into Syria and Britain, generally it's doesn't). Both have a plethora of closely related languages, although they're clustered into one language in China, while they're somewhat over-split into separate languages in Europe (Spanish and Italian are pretty darn similar). The key difference is that one has a slightly more fractured history, and it's said to be a place that had one big empire once and has struggled thereafter, while the other is said to have had a continuous empire, and the struggles are downplayed. In both cases, there's a huge amount of retconning, selective suppression of inconvenient facts, and over-generalization that goes into the overarching narrative.

If you want to know why anyone bothers, look at what they use said narrative before. Look very, very carefully.

160:

I read some of his other works, in translation, and the overall impression I have is that he had some good insights and some not so good ones, but was extremely handicapped by the philosophical methods and language used at the time. The way he expresses things and ideas isn't quite suitable for what he is trying to say, and it isn't his fault, unless you blame people for having difficulty rising above or working through how they were brought up and trained.

Then there are people who have extended Marxism and related ideas.

As for the Dark ages, I'm not aware of any current historians who use the term, because it is so all encompassing and unhelpful. A major problem with public knowledge of history is simply that people parlty remember what they were taught at school 30 years ago in textbooks that were 10 years old based on work done before 1960; i.e. to modern eyes, is very distorted and often horribly wrong. Then when you try and give them a more up to date understanding of history, people resist, they still think their childhood heroes or teachers were really great experts.

161:

Re: tmm
> I too look forward to the return of DSS Angleton. Complete with giving Bob a frosty stare and a comment along the lines of "Well? I *said*
> we'd talk later, boy." as Bob gasps.

yes exactly :)

162:

Both have a plethora of closely related languages, although they're clustered into one language in China, while they're somewhat over-split into separate languages in Europe

A key difference being that the different Chinese topolects share a common written language*. It's very common to write out dialog in China, when you can't understand the person you're trying to communicate with. (Often just tracing the characters on the palm of one hand, if they're simple.) Harder to learn than an alphabetic system, but more useful if you mix with (literate) people from other parts of the country.

An engineer I knew in China found the written language more useful than spoken — partly because his visual memory worked better than his memory for the tones**, and partly because it meant he could communicate with more people.


*Parenthetical aside: the simplified characters brought in by the PRC basically standardized shorthand versions already in use rather than rewrote the language (as some stories have it, especially from Nationalist sources).

**At least if you look foreign people give you credit for trying, even if you butcher the tones (which I always do). A few of my nieces hate going to China, as people treat them like idiots because they speak like little children (they look Chinese, but they can't speak much Chinese).

163:

As I understand it, the written Chinese dialects are not quite identical across widely differing spoken dialects (according to Wikipedia, there are between seven and fourteen subgroups of dialects, and over 200 actual dialects, and many are not mutually intelligible.

That said, you're correct in a way. Written Chinese characters were a lingua franca of east Asian trade. They were used by both Korean and Japanese diplomatic parties to communicate with their Chinese hosts, even though they did not transliterate at all into the very different languages (the characters are not ideograms, they are logograms). Still, I've seen enough accounts that I tend to believe that someone who is fluent in written Mandarin is not perfectly fluent in written Cantonese. They can still communicate to some degree though.

164:

Considering it, the Mandate of Heaven model might be a convenient way to think about Ancient Egypt - sometimes the dynasties (small 'd') come from the south, sometimes the north. Sometimes the southernmost nomes are part of the empire, sometimes not, ditto the lands adjacent to the delta. Sometimes unified, others fragmented, yet still thought of as The Black Land or The Two Lands throughout time by the peoples there.

165:

I googled "Why not Minot" & remain totally unenlightened.
Can someone please explain - it's obviously a joke ( quite possibly a "black" one ) but no comprende senor

166:

But ... the big difference (perhaps ) is the loss of buildings, the loss of techniques & most importantly the critical loss of knowledge & written records in the gap.
Which is why it's a DARK age.
Really dark ... especially if the peace has gone - as it did.

167:

anything before that date is automatically Bronze-Age
You do realise that the transitions from Neolithic to Bronze and Bronze to Iron Age are periods when both technologies were known and used rather than sharp cut-overs at $date?

I'd suggest that the transition from Iron to Space (or Atomic) Age is a sharp cut-over though, because Day_1 of the later Age is when a specific definable event took place.

168:

All too well ...
The "Penguin Atlas of Ancient History is a very good guide, including limits of successive:
Copper / Bronze / Iron working, as the technology spread across the Middle East & Europe

169:

I've always found it even more amusing to contemplate the idea that the creator of cosmological expansion, pulsars, and salmon waxes wroth over the tendency of some humans to rub their genitalia together

Ahh, but, that kind of creator rhymes very well with current USA'nian Corporate Management.

We have CEO's closing or relocating production facilities that were recently retooled to the state of the art, at the cost of double- or triple- digit investments, yet, at the same time, the exact same "decision makers" have time to write travel expense policies, to sign off on everything over 600 EUR, to participate in trans-national mandatory safety meetings (not comprehending that laws are, like, different in different locations), et cetera.

Under-informed and Over-powered They cannot comprehend the bigger stuff, but bullshit and flimflam on the scale of household conflicts or expenses they can surely both take a keen interest in - and put the whole might of Corporate HR and Quality behind their efforts.

My take is that these people are playing management, moving glyphs around the globe to show authority while failing to understand what the glyphs mean. Then, to prove understanding and "being on the ball", they take keen interest in details. These people gets paid 300x the team assistant who should be dealing with travel in a rational world.

Maybe the creator crated the universe by accident, just by being the initial observer or something. This accidental creator doesn't understand the universe or even "his" own powers very well - but - Genitals and their allowed configurations THAT is something WE need to have clear and enforcible policies on!


Maybe what we think is the creator is that 4'th or 5'th in a depressing line of flunkie grandchildren who inherited the whole thing to "give that most useless lad something to do that won't screw up the family business too much".

A theme in "The Golden Compass"/(one of "His Dark Materials"-series) by Philip Pullman, "that God is not The God. It's just some dude who took His corner office and we should go whack him because he sucks". or "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ", also worth reading I.M.O.

170:

Coincidentally, I heard a program last night that described new discoveries in Tintagel, and how it was a major, rich town in the relevant period. It wouldn't surprise me if Cornwall avoided the chaos that overtook most of the British Isles, on several grounds. I can't remember the details, but I believe that was true of several other areas in Europe, too. The effects definitely weren't universal.

W.r.t. earlier times, the importance of bronze and early iron working are often overstated, because so many historians are brought up in the Graeco-Roman military tradition. Wood, shell, flint and pottery tools were as functional as the early metal ones, and evidence from Britain and elsewhere is that Neolithic societies were often very advanced and 'civilised'. They did long distance trading, built trading roads, and large numbers of people and villages worked together (think: Stonehenge).

171:

Indeed; I'm less familiar with "Neolithic/Bronze Ages" tin mining than copper mining, but in period copper mining was performed using stone rather than metal digging tools (based on archaeology of mines that operated in period but not during the Iron Age, and particularly not post industrialisation).

172:

Something I think you (and a lot of other readers) miss about The Annihilation Score is that it's a description of Mo's nervous breakdown, from start to finish. Work-stress-induced, with relationship woes on top: she's not fundamentally unstable but she's been put through the wringer.

Something else readers miss: Mo's violin Lecter is a kind of vampire. The Eater of Souls ... what part of "body reanimated by a hungry ghost, chows down on souls" doesn't sound like a vampire? In fact, the whole of The Rhesus Chart is a shaggy vampire story, from the set-up line ("Don't be silly, Bob," said Mo; "everyone knows vampires don't exist!") to the Boss Fight at the end where Vamp Type A (the Pale Violin — vampiric cursed item) goes for the throat of Vamp Type B (the Eater of Souls, c.f. "Carmilla" and any number of other non-bloodsucking vampire types), while the Vamp Type C (blood-sucking fiend) flees naked and screaming into the dawn light to avoid getting caught between them.

While Bob is deep in denial about being the Eater of Souls (i.e. a different kind of vampire from the PHANGs — why do you think they're largely immune to each other?) he's really not safe for Mo to be around.

How would you deal with the unavoidable dawning realization that your spouse/partner/significant other has become a soul-eating vampire and could kill or maim you by accident? Physical separation, emotional displacement, workaholism, a nervous breakdown, perchance?

173:

Up to around the 15th century most of the tin production was done by panning if I remember my Industrial Archaeology of the [various Devon/Cornwall locations] correctly. Extraction would move up stream with occassional diversions into shallow mining if the vein that had been eroding into the watercourse was found. Eventually the stream bed would become uneconomical to work and the panners would relocate to a nearby stream that had recovered. Successive waves of extraction has tended to destroy earlier workings so there's a lot of conjecture, but there's also minimal evidence of underground workings pre widespread iron tools and steam engines.

174:

Thanks for that. My reservation was because I didn't know much more than that it happened about pre-industrial tin extraction.

My underlying point was that mining for metal (ores) BCE did not necessarily (or ever?) use metal tools.

175:

No, that's too simplistic. Initially, metal was very scarce and expensive, and so was used only for items where existing materials were inadequate. But, later, it became more readily available and cheaper and was used for mining. I doubt the changeover was sudden - entirely wooden agricultural and horticultural implements were still in (rare) use in the UK 50 years ago.

176:

Maybe I'm being fooled by Mo being an unreliable narrator, but this shouldn't be a "dawning realisation" for her, should it? The whole of Mahogany Row seemed to know that what's holding Bob back from fully using his powers was his own reluctance to accept that he has those powers. As Lecter's wielder/host/victim, Mo has been part of Mahogany Row since before Jennifer Morgue, so I'm not sure how this is news for her.

As for the "could kill you by accident", surely this is a given for every member of Mahogany Row and most of the mid-echelon members of the Laundry? As Alex says, he's on the books as a light tank. Even the Atrocity-Archives-era Bob was competent enough to be a useful addition to a SAS team, which is a not inconsiderable achievement. The only news for Mo at the end of Rhesus Chart is that now he can stop her killing him by accident, whereas she (and Lecter) very much could have for most of their relationship - and not only that, she/they very definitely would have if he hadn't levelled-up in her absence. The clearest unreliable-narration in Annihilation Score is that Mo never faces up to her attempted murder of Bob.

From my very limited experience and some reading, veterans generally are less worried about being around people with their own kind of skills. They're more worried about what they'll do by accident to civilians, and particularly their loved ones, if they forget they're no longer in a warzone.

177:

While Bob is deep in denial about being the Eater of Souls

Bob seems to spend most of his on-screen time since his "death" and rebirth moping and whining about being the Eater of Souls. Denial is not in his vocabulary on this subject.

he's really not safe for Mo to be around.

The Soul Eating bit is something he has total control over, he has never ever thought about eating Mo's life force or anyone else's unless it was in a combat situation. Contrarily Mo and her live-in lover Lecter attempted to kill him a couple of times. She doesn't have her boyfriend any more though and the combination of guilt and vulnerability is going to be a problem for her.

178:

You're trying to drive me crazy. Now I want to scour those books looking for the Angle-meister.

179:

I mostly concur with your last paragraph. I think some historians still think there are times and places that are dark-ish. However, I can almost guarantee you that very few people will stop engaging in the behavior you describe. It's a lot of work to reformulate one of the bases of your reality. And what people learn in school is one of those mostly unconscious bases.

180:

He's wrong. But don't let me stopyou from re-reading the books :)

181:

Will we see a non-Bob Angleton back before the end of the series?

182:

...he's really not safe for Mo to be around...

Well, since you put it that way. I was hoping that with Lecter gone they might have a chance to attempt to fix things. But now that she no longer has the 'protection' that Lecter provided, I guess not so much.

Graham @176: Keeping in mind that Bob didn't become the Eater of Souls until the end of "The Fuller Memorandum", when he was essentially killed, his soul sucked out and shoved back in after getting tangled up with the Eater. At least that's how I remember it.

183:

Adding a new meaning to mansplaining .... I can witness that denial does not always take the form of denying the fact, and (inaccurately) claiming to be in control is a common form of it.

184:

Actually, I think most countries that brag about long-term continuity have this issue.

Egypt went through 33-ish dynasties (the earliest ones aren't well recorded, and there's multiple episodes of breakdown with usurpers and so forth). There are multiple episodes where the place basically fell apart.

Japan has a similar history. In the past they've claimed a continuity like China, but again, civil wars, radical dynastic changes, and the shogunate make this claim more aspirational than data-driven.

Even some of the Australian aborigines brag that their culture is 40,000 years old, based on interpretations of old stories.

Here's the thing: our species has been around for 200,000-odd years in its present form. We're cultural animals by biology, so I'd make the simple claim that we're all heirs to a 200,000 year-long culture. Almost all of our shared history is long forgotten and not recoverable, but it's quite clear that our cumulative culture has changed continuously for that entire time, just as it continues to change now. The only difference between a Singulitarian, a traditionalist Chinese, an Australian Aboriginal, and a white supremacist is which bits of our history they choose to root in their identity, what parts of our history they choose to include in that identity, what parts of our history they reject from their identity, and how much they're willing to fabricate their identity out of fictions. All of us do all of these things, and that's what creates the diversity we see around us.

185:

I have no idea where you're getting "the libel that the Jews caused the Plague". Only in the context of the OT - and my net.friend who'd done the trans herself was working on old stuff - we're talking about someone who poisons wells in a *DESERT*, which everyone should have for good reason. And it reads, to me, that DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT DOING IT, not "we did that".

mark

186:

Nope. (Or rather, if you do? Be very afraid.)

187:

About Mo and Bob... of course, I'm putting in my own internalization, just like everyone else is, including Charlie, but what makes it so sad through the Annihilation Score is that they both *do* love each other, deeply, and have been afraid that they might fail to do something, and let the Others in the relationship (Lector, Eater) kill the person they love.

189:

My take on this is Angleton as we knew him, TEAPOT, the ghost inhabiting a man, who learned to be British via long socialization, is dead.

The bit of him that's the separate from the information of the Eater of Souls is still probably around. But the human aspects got sheared off.

190:

Don't see a link yet; the long-awaited NASA EM Drive paper is published.
So question to Charlie; assuming it survives longer than cold fusion, does this seriously break any stories if e.g. the thrust-to-power ratio is improved by an order of magnitude or two from the measured "1.2 +/- 0.1 mN∕kW"? (Apologies if already answered.)

Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum

...however, for missions with very large delta-v requirements, having a propellant consumption rate of zero could offset the higher power requirements. The 1.2 mN∕kW performance parameter is over two orders of magnitude higher than other forms of “zero-propellant” propulsion, such as light sails, laser propulsion, and photon rockets...

Any physicists care to comment, particularly on the discussion section where hypothetical physics bases are discussed?

191:

I'd guessed that after Angleton and the elder vampire got caught in the force-bubble that Angleton was looking out through Spooky's eyes.

192:

It may be part of the "unreliable narrator" schtick and Bob has been snacking on the life force of people around him without him mentioning the fact but I can't think of any time within the written story that Bob has come close to dining out on Mo or anyone else for that matter unless it's a combat situation. He's also noticeably not been cheating on her in terms of sex or romance all the time he's been with her. Mo, on the other hand, enraged by irrational jealousy while having an affair with Officer Friendly, points her sex-toy wifebeater Lecter at him with intent to destroy, and under Lecter's influence she might well have pulled the trigger on him except that at that point he could defend himself and the subordinate (Mhairi) she was ready to destroy.

Mo is very much disappointed in Bob, his social status, his dress sense, his inability to play the ladders game while at the same time not recognising that he is in fact climbing a ladder, just not the sort that positions him comfortably in the sorts of cocktail parties and diplomatic get-togethers that she aspires to. Frankly them staying together is not really a good idea, she can do better for herself and he'd be safer from her jealousies.

193:

JamesPadraicR @182: True, but even the pre-Fuller-Memorandum Bob was pretty competent. He hung around with the SAS and his contribution was valued, which says quite a lot. Also he had to be good enough to be taken seriously as the Bond figure in Jennifer Morgue. As an unreliable narrator, he tries to make out after the fact that it's all a lot of luck, but think of Atrocity Archives and dealing with Fred. In a boring classroom, he doesn't just doze off; his first reflex is to identify possible weapons - and when the risk becomes an immediate hazard, he hits first and asks questions later. Possibly Fred could have been recovered from possession - Franz was, partially at least, after the death-by-Powerpoint session - but Bob's instinctive reaction was to smash his skull. It's only afterwards that Bob thought about whether there was anything else he could have done. So right from the start, Bob is clearly a potential killer - and equally clearly, he doesn't like knowing that about himself.

194:

Your last paragraph made me laugh! We are not as high-powered, lethal, nor challenged as them, but that's largely true of my marriage of 39 years and counting :-)

195:

Wait has the "Bob Goes to Not Puroland" short story prequel to Delirium Brief been canned? I was really looking forward to that (shameless Sanrio fan here).

196:

OGH can answer for himself, but I have always assumed perfect efficiency when analysing feasibility, and rejected the approach when even that wasn't enough. In my view, no, though it makes some stories marginally more plausible.

197:

What do they taste like?

198:

Not canned, just pending time to write it. (Did I mention the four novels I have in various stages of production right now?)

199:

How do I agree? Let me count the ways...

Relationship-wise, neither Bob nor Mo has faced up to the threat they pose each other. (Reminder: Bob is a thoroughly unreliable narrator!) When Mo attempted to murder Mhari and Bob, Bob used Old Enochian to *command* Mo to stop. Mind control in self defense is still mind control. And that bit of drama was just a punchline for the secrets they've been keeping from each other and themselves: Lecter's escalating mindrape, Bob's utter failure to try to understand his new powers and their limits, Mhari's return to the Laundry in a working group with Bob, Mo's "coping" mechanisms, Bob's comments on Mo's wants and needs which appear to be based on unspoken assumptions, etc. And does anyone think Mo's "dream" about hungry Eater Bob was any more a dream than her nightly play dates with Lecter? "In control" my foot.

Bob might have a lesser degree of culpability if he had bothered to try to figure out what it meant to be an Eater of Souls. Perhaps by requisitioning a Feeder and figuring out how complex he could make executable programming (could a Feeder be used as a mobile summoning grid?). But he actively avoids using his abilities except when forced. Why were no Feeders brought to combat the Laundry's resident PHANG? I'm convinced that Bob could have saved his team (at least temporarily) by the simple and obvious expedient of having a Feeder open the warehouse door.

Bob can do interesting things with zombies. But he avoids doing so, because he terrifies himself. The fact he won't admit his fear to Mo or himself arguably makes him a greater danger to Mo than vice versa. She is, after all, merely (mostly) human when Lecter is locked away; and Bob is not qualified to know whether he has the Eater under control.

It took the Senior Auditors until the end of Annihilation Score to intervene, far too long. And where were they when Bob needed to learn how to be a human-invested Eater of Souls? That lesson has been taught before, those resources should have been made available to Bob.

At this point I assume that Bob and Mo will find some way to achieve rapprochement. It would be too easy and obvious at this point to write them apart.

tl;dr: Bob is at least as culpable as Mo in their relationship woes, it's just that he's worse at admitting it (unreliable narrator!); and his failures ("control" means ignoring the problem) and issues (grow up, Bob), while toxic, are less socially taboo (infidelity) and emotionally exposed (timed crying) than Mo's.

200:

Greg said: Can someone please explain - it's obviously a joke ( quite possibly a "black" one ) but no comprende senor

Greg,

You are correct, it is a very "black" joke because of the context.

Minot Air Force Base
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minot_Air_Force_Base

Look at where the base is located, and the discussion of ballistic missiles in context with Charlie's post at #105. Look also at the cartoons mentioned by Martin at #158. Read through them, starting with the first comic, and you will get a sense of the posting at Minot, even today.

The origin of my comment was when I went through Officer Training School(OTS) for the US Air Force in the late 70's. There were posters saying "Why not, Minot" to get people to volunteer for duty there. I'm not surprised that most people here would be unaware of the phrase, since you had to see the posters and be in the context of OTS to understand the existential horror of what they were suggesting. Looking back, I was lucky to blow out my metatarsal early in the program. I was on crutches or cane most of the time. Having to "march" miles to get anywhere, on crutches, meant that I did not meet the running requirement, so they were going to "recycle" me back to the start of the 90 day program(Yikes!). I wisely put in my letter of resignation. It took over a year for my foot to recover and not have to use a cane. The Air Force would have been happy to keep recycling me for as long as needed.

I still felt the need to do "Public Service" so I went on to work at the NM State Highway Department; 24 years, and now safely retired. That's why I enjoy The Laundry series, it comes closest to my time working for the State. Mention of "Residual Human Resources" brings back fond memories.

201:

I have no idea where you're getting "the libel that the Jews caused the Plague".

Try this for starters: Black Death Jewish Persecutions.

Only in the context of the OT - and my net.friend who'd done the trans herself was working on old stuff - we're talking about someone who poisons wells in a *DESERT*, which everyone should have for good reason. And it reads, to me, that DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT DOING IT, not "we did that".

No, we're talking about translations of translations, and how you can read into it what's not there. Please show me a mention of well poisoning in the Hebrew Bible, particularly related to 'witches'. Most mentions of Withcraft in the Hebrew Bible deal with divination and necromancy. No mention of poisoning; that likely comes from the way witch in the Tanakh was translated into Greek, which was done with a good dose of interpretation of unclear passages.

202:

Could have been worse, could have been Thule.

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

Someone I know was stationed there for a time in Aerospace Command. The only recreational activities were golf and fucking, apparently. The golf was done with red-painted balls, the fucking with... well, you get the idea. The standing joke was that the airbase's IATA designation code was IHTFP.

203:

And how 'bout we leave this there, it's off-topic, and I wasn't particularly disagreeing with your original comment. In other words, I have no desire to get into argument.

204:

Okay. I read your comment as you saying that Bob was being treated by other characters as though he was the Eater in the earlier books. I was in the middle of breakfast when I replied, so still waking up. Also, I've only read the books once each, and it's been a while since the early books.
And then there's Bob being the unrelaible narrator, and maybe playing up his own abilities, or making excuses for his actions. Or something.

205:

Fine, but please remember that, in most languages, such relatively uncommon and specialised pejorative words often have multiple meanings which drift quite rapidly with time. Ideally, we should exclude any evidence dating from later than 4-500 BC. At best, any interpretation is a guess, which is why this sort of debate is incessant.

206:

To whoever re commended "Evolution - the board game" a few weeks ago, thank you. It's arrived and we have been greatly enjoying it.

207:

Neutered Male Drone Alien #135022:

"Yeah, but really: you think that ovipositor gang-bang was pheromonically exciting? Dude was totally a cuck for allowing an alien into it".

208:

the Tanakh was translated into Greek, which was done with a good dose of interpretation of unclear passages.

That would be the Septuagint, which used Tanakh versions around a couple of centuries BCE, was what the Greek-speaking New Testament writers used in the 1st C CE, and has notable differences from the Hebrew Masoretic Text that we now have. Fascinating stuff and instructive when it comes to understanding the uncertainties of historical knowledge. But, I acknowledge, not terribly on topic here.

209:

Ok, serious hat on: that's one shitty shitty badly researched little wikipedia page.

It's fucking dire.

Hint: In (not called Germany then, but geographically extant) - 70% of the city states not only protected Jewish communities but also prevented Papal orders to the contrary. (c.f. - Huguenots in France, 30 years war etc).


~

Fucking Americans.

210:

Next we'll have to explain to the American Trumplanders how and why "El-Cid" was a bad thing for Jewish people and the large swathes of the Iberian (not Spain then) peninsula which had remarkably free (FOR THE TIME, AMERICANS, FOR THE TIME) rules on Judaism and the whys to it.

Oh, and they're called "Moors".

Yes, Shakespeare knew about them.

No, that does not mean that anything close to 4% of England (correct term at the time) was ethnically non-Caucasian.

Wow, well done: yes, Constantinople wasn't ethnically Caucasian. But... sure as shit everything north of it was.

Yes, we're all really fucking bored of your simplistic and retrograde and muppet-like insane inability to deal with reality and history.

And yes: look, if you want a 100% sure-fire way to explain the Holocaust and so on, just know about WW1:

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was more than 38 million: there were over 17 million deaths and 20 million wounded, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.

Then take a little map, paint a tiny line (yes yes, don't forget the Alps and the Italians and the glaciers or Turkey and Gallipoli or the Russian front).

It's less than the size of ~40 of your states.


"No WAI millions of people could die in a strip of land only 3 miles across! for 4 years"

WW1 revisionism - just not sexy enough.

~


Back on track.

I bought this book. Or a I bought a large mop.

Amazon links are dangerous things.

211:

And yes: That is the Ur-Anti-Revisionist-Holocaust argument.

The only come-back is: "Well, they didn't use X million pounds of TNT".

You then point to Mines and Tunnels and WW1 usage of Artillery as ineffectual.

You get the fucking idea.

~

You're fucking welcome.

212:

Oh, and James.

I'll be happy to point you to the bits your fore-fathers cut out (and yes, they were men) about Witches, and the terrible things your kind did to us. (الجن and Solomon, yo!).

Just because you have the sanitized current version doesn't mean your history is pure as snow.

SALT PILLARS.

Your kind just happened to edit out those parts, helped by persecution, no doubt. (Riddle me this - if dominant, does Judaism enact a more ethically progressive State?).

~

And 100% certain if I start quoting it in Aramaic, Host will get burnt.

We can, you know: *nose wiggle*.

213:

Then again.

James, why does your faith not contain FGM? [hint: trap there, think hard, really honestly hard and grokk your faith's reality back when].


~

It might be because the Witches (not in the Torah) Won that little spat.

214:

Glad you like it.

Depending on how old your kids are, this project for a folding microscope might also be of interest:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/276738145/foldscope-the-origami-paper-microscope

I backed it for a deluxe kit and a classroom set. That should be enough for the younger nieces (and grand-niece and grand-nephews when they get a bit older). I'm debating getting a second classroom set for school — we have no shortage of microscopes, but something that we could send on a canoeing trip would be handy.

215:

Yes, I am aware of other sources (Midrash and Gemara, etc. hint: atheist Synagogue librarian here—not a claim of expertise, just hopefully not too ignorant), but someone mentioned witches in 'OT'. My take on Witch (with apologies to Saffire - The Uppity Blues Women @5:20) is Woman In Total Control of Herself.

It's not my 'faith', it's my ancestry. As for the question, I'm sure I've read/heard something on the subject, but can't think of it. At a guess, I suppose the Orthodox argument might be something to do with women not being required to fulfill the mitzvot because they're considered holy already. So no blood sacrifice for them, other than the monthly one requiring the trip to the mikvah. Maybe.

Too tired to think more on it, been a cold dreary day. And as above, off-topic and not up to arguing anything, so Goodnight.

216:

James, your people are sinful indeed for using the Gemara. The true, pure source of all this comes from the Godzella. The Gemara is a pale imitation from the 4th Century and is in no way complete or accurate, though some critics insist that the Gemara vs. Irys contains some minor gems of pre-human truth.

217:

Oh, we're all technically adults but it's great as a fairly grasp-able strategy game with a fun side. Stuff like Catan and Carcassonne lack some of the imaginative elements that make Evolution amusing to think about as well as fun as a game.

While slow players think through their move we can argue about whether a hard-shell flying animal could exist and whether it should actually get a defensive bonus (I argue for an attacking one because getting dive-bombed by a flying turtle would be no fun). Plus it's new, so I have to learn it too and that makes the experience more fun for other people.

218:

...we have no shortage of microscopes, but something that we could send on a canoeing trip would be handy.
Do they have a high-quality hand lens? I keep one of these BelOMO 10x Triplet Loupe Magnifiers on a lanyard around my neck (inside shirt) every day. Geeky, yes. If you search around, consensus is that the BelOMOs are the best hand-lens value available. 10X is enough to see things that cannot be seen with the naked eye, and it works as a decent very-close-up lens if held against a cell-phone camera. Shipping to the UK is expensive (if you're in the UK); it or similar might be available more locally. (I keep a spare handy as an impromptu gift, fwiw.)

(Another imaging trick, while I'm thinking of it, is to use a flatbed scanner at max resolution, and crop. Not good in a canoe though. :-)

219:

It makes a great game with kids, if you can borrow some :-)

So you got the Flight add-on as well?

You might enjoy the Climate add-on. I've played it a few times (using the print-n-play version) and it adds another layer of calculation.

220:

I can't even keep the low-quality hand lenses in one piece. [1]

The folding microscope has 140x magnification. Not as bright as that loupe (which I'm tempted by for myself, as it's better than mine), but powerful enough to see a lot. Can be hooked up to a cell phone camera, too. And it doesn't break when dropped :-)

[1] Insert rant about irresponsible temporary staff here.

221:

Regarding the Chinese and Egyptian treatment of history as culturally continuous vs, European accounts of transitions... I have encountered a book that claimed that many of the accounts of migrations in late classical/early Medieval times are not borne out by the archaeological evidence.

Unfortunately, I am over 1000 miles from my bookshelves, but as I recall, the argument was that details of things like pottery should have changed if there were really population movements. The suggestion was that (possibly due to the legend of Aeneas? and memories of Roman civil wars) changes of regime were more respectable if they were described as the result of outsiders moving in rather than as the result of a coup of local origin.

222:

Great morphing Cthulhu...

223:

I've got part way through volume 2, and am not yet ready to consider that I've given up, rather than just set nice -20 and swapped the process out :) ... I haven't got to the good bits yet - as in the bits that everyone talks about when thinking of Marxism. (Or at least, think they're talking about; one motivation for reading it is so that I can tell the difference.) I'm still ploughing through the analysis-of-the-problem stages, and the horses are revolting.

It is a shame that the ground is so glutinous because I don't think it needs to be. I think the concepts he's trying to put over are in fact fairly straightforward, but it is hard to be sure, because they are expressed in a style both excessively prolix and distractingly opaque. On occasions I have thought I was following his argument as he develops some point over several pages, but when he sums up his position in the final paragraph it turns out he was arguing towards a conclusion the exact opposite of what I was expecting.

Mainly from those summary passages, though, I do get the impression that he was pretty well on the mark for the time he was writing. But he failed to observe that he was describing a non-equilibrium system which, as local conditions drew closer to equilibrium and flattened the entropy gradient it was running on, would have to evolve to seek and exploit other entropy gradients that were now comparatively more favourable, and so its nature would change; he understood the possibility and the possible consequences of automation, but did not apply that understanding, writing instead as if the relatively primitive machinery of his day would remain typical indefinitely; and he failed to allow for the possibility of outside context events like WW1 (pretty excusably) and for people like Lenin trying to force his theories into applying to a situation they were not intended to cover (less excusably, although I suppose that while any theory will attract knobs who try to apply it perversely, successful knobs don't happen that often).

I anticipate that my impressions from further reading will comprise more of the same: conclusions compromised by the false assumption that the conditions of the time would persist indefinitely, but which also in many cases have stood the test of time remarkably well.

224:

Bob is good enough to be taken seriously as the Bond figure in Jennifer Morgue.

You what!!!?

**SPOILER**

Bob is the "Bond girl", not the agent.

225:

At this point I assume that Bob and Mo will find some way to achieve rapprochement. It would be too easy and obvious at this point to write them apart.
And well, when was the first time that OGH actually took "the easy way" rather than the "road less traveled" in his writing? Unless it's in a book published in the last year or two and that I've not read yet I'd say "never".

226:

Yes, but he's good enough that no-one realises that until it's too late.

227:

I'd say that's the unreliable narrator again. Yes there is a reveal, but before that point Bob believes that he's the agent.

228:

"excessively prolix and distractingly opaque". I have close friends who are left-wing economists, and they commented that few of that ilk get further than I did - you are clearly either very stubborn or very masochistic.

229:

That is one advantage of (severe) short sight. It also enhances the power of magnifying glasses.

230:

You probably haven't noticed but the blog is one of five on the system, with a total of around 1600-2000 entries and approaching 200,000 comments. Just taking a backup (snapshot that freezes and exports all the SQL tables) runs to about 500Mb. The blog averages 4.5 million visits/year with daily traffic in the 8500-11000 page impression range.

This is not something you want to try maintaining by hand!

231:

Speaking of the blog's behavior, it runs much faster on my work computer for some reason, so I'm now disinclined to believe the problem is on the other side of my home router. (Except for not seeing the whole book cover, of course.)

The best solution to the problem of the book cover might not be CSS, but simply specifying the size of the image in the image tag at which point you're not mucking around with the code which runs your whole blog.

232:

your people are sinful indeed for using the Gemara. The true, pure source of all this comes from the Godzella.

Oh dear, that explains a more observant acquaintance's recent interest in turtle lawn ornaments.
(thanks, I needed that)

233:

The true, pure source of all this comes from the Gojira.
Correction inline. ;-)

234:

I was including Bob in the people he fooled!

235:

More on my view about Bob and Mo: now, remember, I'm coming from a USan background, but first, Bob is no-class, no minor nobility in the ancestry (except maybe a wandering randy noble seeing a pretty peasant out collecting sheep). He's therefore not the kind of person to promote himself, or brag about his deeds. Rather, more quiet, stiff upper lip, etc. This, I think, is part of what makes him an unreliable narrator. "Just luck, y'know"

Mo... I'm not sure. She certainly has class, though I'm hesitant the think that she does have that background.

It's clear they really do care for each other, And they've both been having massive trauma, with Bob suddenly having to deal with the Eater, while around the same time, Mo's being literally mind-raped, and to a good degree, has lost control, and there are elements of Stockholm Syndrome. She made a HUGE change, to shove Lector into the other dimension, and so she's finally free of him. Now, about trying to get the 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle the cat ran across that is her brain and feelings back together.... And the one person she can utterly trust is Bob.

Someone mentioned mind control using Old Enochian to stop her from killing himself and Mhari... no, it's not MIND CONTROL, it's "my hand's moving by itself and pointing this gun at you, and just just used both hands and all your strength to disarm me, and my arm hurts", to which a normal (at least to me) response is to throw your arms around the person who stopped you.

mark

236:

While I agree with your reading of their characters, that has little to do with class. It never would have had much, but the traditional class structure has become largely irrelevant, even where it still exists. There are such differences, but they are much more complicated than they used to be, and wealth is a much more important factor.

237:

Wealth is a first-order correlate of class (especially under conservative governments, whether small-c or capital-C).

If you're rich, the upper-class eventually embrace you as their own; if you're upper-class you have first-class access to opportunities to enrich yourself. QED.

Even under actually-existing-socialism (USSR, China), an equivalent of the upper class was invented after the revolutionary and purgative stages: Party membership. As witness the number of billionaires in the CCP's central committee.

Being upper class or a member of the nobility confers privilege in the original meaning of the word: a different law applies. As witness Donald Trump (a billionaire child of a billionaire: upper class by the American definition, despite his wild excess and gauche lack of good taste) boasting that he could shoot someone in the street and still win a presidential election. Or, he was hinting, avoid prosecution. It's no accident that most of the people on Death Row in Texas are poor black and hispanic males; the law on homicide is not applied to rich white males in the same way or with the same severity.

(Point about Bob: he's bought the great middle class myth of the 20th century, that this shit is obsolete/meaningless. Just another of his delusions. Mo has had a bit more exposure to people who understand privilege, from her first husband onwards ... fewer illusions. Only now she's an auditor, and the privilege boot is on the other foot.)

238:

Point of order: El Cheeto Grande isn't even a proven billionaire, and his father was a definite millionaire. His privilege comes from being a long-time TV bad boy, as much as from his money or lack thereof.

Incidentally, how much is anyone worth when so much of their net worth is tied into negotiable commodities like real estate and reputation? If Drumpf does an epic bout of canine coitus over the next four years, he could be fiscally bankrupt without undergoing a transaction, due to the loss of reputation of his brand.

More interestingly and to the point, apparently a long line of lawyers is taking dead aim at him, just to see how thoroughly they can litigate how the conflict of interest doctrine applies to the POTUS, aside from the emoluments clause. This could get bloody. Maybe Scotland should lend a hand?

The really nasty one is the Dakota Access Pipeline, since legally the Sioux reservation is a separate nation. If he profits from a pipeline being forced across territory that wasn't his to control, he could might conceivably get shredded over both the emoluments clause and self-dealing. If nothing else, it will be an epic legal fight, and the Supreme Court might side with the plaintiffs just to keep their standing as an independent body, no matter how he tries to pack it. While I don't give Standing Rock a high probability of taking down the Big Orange, I didn't think they'd get as far as they have, either.

239:

I know John Glenn was 95, but still, fuck you 2016. It tried to get Buzz too, but he was hiding in Antarctica.

240:

That is true for the top 1% (both in wealth and class) in the UK but, since (say) 1950, only to a very limited extent below that. Remember the Cleese, Barker and Corbett sketch? There was a lot of truth in it. The working classes (and there were more than one) had more-or-less disappeared by 1970, to become part of the lower middle class - as was widely remarked. And the distinction among the middle class was far more 'whiteness of collar in jobs' than money.

Thatcher changed that by creating an underclass (which is NOT the same as a working class), and the conversion to monetarism replaced the old criteria within the middle class by wealth; for the record, I do not assign the latter to her, and even 'old Labour' had a hand in it. My point is that, today, below the 99% level, we have something far closer to a USA-style plutarchy than the class structure of even my childhood. Even education is secondary, though it is highly correlated.

Thank you for your last paragraph - that is how I read their characters and the position!

241:

I bought both expansions with the game, because the reviews made it seem likely they were worthwhile. But until we get the hang of the basic game we won't try them. Unfortunately some of the household has deprived childhoods, no Lego *and* no strategy games.

On the other topic: with magnifying lenses, I tend to carry a camera and while it's not quite the same, and definitely not child-friendly, it works better much of the time. I even have a close-up lens attachment to go with the nearly-macro lens, but sadly I had to buy the lightweight version of the telephoto and that does not fit the close-up lens. I do have macro tubes too, because they're cheap, but they're not as useful because you have to spend much longer fitting them. With the full collection of toys, though, I can get a 20MP image of a rectangle about 10x15mm. And with focus stacking software, I can even get a usable 20MP image :)

242:

Donald Trump (a billionaire child of a billionaire: upper class by the American definition, despite his wild excess and gauche lack of good taste)

How many generations before one is no longer considered Nouveau Riche?

243:

Which side of the pond, and how old-fashioned are you?

244:

How many generations before one is no longer considered Nouveau Riche?

One fewer than the number before one is considered local, of course. First you arrive, then you become 'new money {I'd spit, but that's common}', then after a while you become acceptable money, then local, then old money. Process is important!

I still remember with amusement some numpty in Aotearoa asking "how many generations have your family been here?" and being taken aback when I paused, counted in my head, and said "26, I think". Apparently only white generations were supposed to count,and the correct answer was "oh, wow, your family came on the first four ships to reach Dunedin, you are an impressive person". Using "the other" system, mine is not one of the 12 canoes so I be but a poor and lowly class of person. 'tis woe, aue, aue.

245:

I like it! My grandfather was born in Thames in 1878, which makes him a johnny-come-lately by your standards.

246:

Ah, but then by other standards I'm descended from bog English peasants from a place that's now a suburb of Birmingham. Or Scots peasants planted somewhere random by an English noble and told "here, have this tartan, now you're proper Scots". Researching one's family tree (family bramble?) and seeing how it winds lazily through the bogs and swamps of history is not always the uplifting experience social climbers hope for.

247:

Left side, and not at all.
I'm sure all American Moneyed Families are New Money by European Aristocracy standards.

248:

I've just finished rereading Annihilation Score. It's the first Laundry book that I've reread immediately, and the one I like the most. Perhaps that's just because I'm female.

I think Mo and Bob really are deeply in love, and I look forward to their reconciliation. The SA seems to think that being an Auditor will be easier than wielding Lecter - I hope he's right.

A few other comments:
1. Charlie has done a good job portraying a woman. I'm not surprised, since I loved Miriam. However, do women really wear high heels to the office? Isn't Mo wearing high heels in some of her more active jaunts?

2. How did Persephone go from being a contract employee in Apocalypse Codex to an Auditor?

3. I loved the reference to Cassilda by the Lake of Hali. I think this is the first time I've seen any references by anybody to the Darkover series.

249:

A friend-of-a-friend was mistaken for one of many Asian students in NZ
"How long have you been in New Zealand?"
Descendant of goldfield worker replied "Four generations".

250:

Heh. I went touring round Northland once with a friend who was part-Chinese - the round-face, flat nose sort of Chinese. Most people she met assumed she was part Maori and she was surprised by how welcoming everyone was. Also by how "Maori are just people here"... being more than half the population will do that. But "I'm a traditional owner and the bit I own is this bus company" is shockingly rare in Australia (that psuedo-quote may also be a kiwi sense of humour specific joke).

Linguistic subtleties also abound: a "traditional owner" is very different from a "member of the owning class".

I am periodically bemused at how I, the white immigrant to Australia, get treated compared to my ethnic-Vietnamese Australian-born partner. One of us "came here to steal your jobs and your womenfolk" to quote the famous philosopher Joelistics... the white one.

251:

WRT:
2 - I was wondering that too.
3 - That's a reference to "The King in Yellow". Sorry for the pedant hat going on, it's off now.

252:

There's a saying I heard somewhere: the difference between Europeans and Americans is that a European thinks a hundred miles is a long way, while an American thinks a hundred years is a long time.

253:

Re 2 - If I've followed the recent revelations correctly, I understand she was already an auditor before Bob first met her; the whole "contract employee" bit was just a cover for her off-the-record activities on behalf of the Laundry, but Bob wasn't cleared for that at the time.

254:

However, do women really wear high heels to the office?
Don't know about The Laundry (or the UK), but I work (US) in an office with very intelligent, accomplished women and high heals are uncommon. Fine with me; high heels are abominations that prevent people from maneuvering rapidly and/or quietly, and can cause foot pain. The few times I've mentioned this to other men, there has been agreement. FWIW.


255:

Disagree profoundly about class != money, for reasons often previously stated.
I'm social class A2, but my personal income is about £12k per year ....
Having ancestors who were both among the greatest in the realm & the poorest as well, also makes a difference.

256:

Make that 0.1% please!
A surprising number of the top 2 or 3% are not doing as well as they might, because the 0.1% mentioned above, are stealing from them as well - stealing from everyone, in fact.

257:

See my comment @ 255!

258:

Yes, women do wear high heels to the office. My boss does. However the women working in the lab tend not to, for obvious reasons.
Wasn't there a court case in London a year or two ago involving a woman who didn't want to wear high heels and the company expected her to?

Or in other words yes, sexist expectations of dress are alive and well in some companies.

259:

1. High heels in the office; yes, based on my observation of people working in office settings. It's far from universal and it's quite common for their wearers to also have a pair of "comfortable" shoes for wearing while commuting to and from the office in question.

2. Persephone is not an auditor. She's an external asset and part of Mahogany Row.

3. It's not a Darkover reference. It's a ref. back to the King in Yellow; which is, I suspect, where MZB got it from as well.

260:

Mo and Bob have both been to university, and both work in the UK civil service in "office based jobs", but depend on their incomes from that employment. That makes them "lower middle class".

No post-school education and a job in, say, shop floor retail, factory assembly line or driving would make you "working class" although some of these people might have a higher gross pay than Mo or Bob do.

261:

1) Some women do at least sometimes wear heels in the office and/or for commuting. Even in a management post like Mo's where it's sometimes necessary for organisational culture reasons there's no absolute guarantee that every woman will wear heels every day.

262:

Some people wear raised heels for comfort and/or medical reasons - my wife is one. Several women have told me that their feet hurt less with moderate high heels than flats, and I don't think that's all social conditioning. Of course, rather more make it clear that the opposite holds, and extreme high heels are definitely harmful.

263:

That is completely wrong. Using the traditional classification, almost all of the (non-retired) upper middle class and some of the upper class depend(ed) on their income from employment. There is no way that senior civil servants, eminent professors and bishops were lower middle class! And, at least since the First World War, most of those have depended on their employment for income.

264:

Yes, I know - I am one of them - but we are doing quite well enough. Most well-off people are greedy wimps. The boundary between the strong correlation between class and wealth OGH mentions in #237 and the different one I mention in #240 isn't a hard one, and both factors applied/apply quite strongly in the 99%-99.9% range.

265:

...Most well-off people are greedy wimps...

That's an interesting statement; what do you mean by it, and how did you come to that conclusion?

266:

Most claim that they have a right to more return for the same effort than less well-off people - that's greed. And most scream to high heaven when there are proposals to restrict their soft living for the good of the country - that's being wimps. And, lastly, observation and experience, both personal and reading surveys etc., would you believe?

267:

For New Englanders, you can at least double both figures in our case. 100 miles is a nice drive, 300 hundred is past New York or Boston. 100 years is nothing, but 500 is "pre-history."

268:

Can usually tell when female SrExecVP is power selling: very high heals equals very big $ at stake.

269:

Also, remember that Europe was and is less homogeneous than the USA. In the UK, that remark used to be true of most of England, but the mainly Celtic fringe (especially Cornwall and the Channel Islands) was far more accustomed to long-distance travel. And those of us from the navies and Empire (correlated with coming from those locations) were accustomed to inter-continental travel. Note that I am NOT talking about emigration.

270:

Re: '... just to see how thoroughly they can litigate how the conflict of interest doctrine applies to the POTUS, aside from the emoluments clause.'

There's also this from last night's TV news: DT to remain ExecVP of his TV show (Celeb-Appr). Wonder if he's deliberately trying to see how many ways he can break the law before his authoritarian followers dump him.


In some ways, the DT misadventures are similar (if opposite) to what I suspect Bob is doing: how long and how many close encounters before Bob reconciles his self-image with what he really is. (Aside: I think this is where a Freud derail/fantasy/rationalization would fit in nicely ... because Bob needs a process that allows him to 'personalit-ize' what is in fact a bio/tech/mechanical failure within the construct currently responding to 'Bob'.

271:

And what "Elderly Cynic" says about Cornwall, and Scilly and Channel Islands also applies to Scotland.

272:

The reason that I mentioned the two I did was their maritime heritage, combined with Cornwall's mining one, which meant that most families had members who were widely travelled, even in the 17th century. That came later and was less pervasive in Scotland, Wales and Ireland, but still far more than most of England.

273:

Will you be making signed copies available through Transreal as you usually do?

274:

Trumpolini: large, mainstream media headline: with his Cabinet picks, does he want to run the government... or dismantle it? (Obvious answer, the latter, part of why so many ultrarich are for him: he's going to try to roll back not just the Great Society, but the New Deal, as well. And that, I'll wager, includes fully-recognizing unions.)

Class (from a left-wing (there are a few of us) USan perspective: I think of myself, these last few years, as comfortable. I now own my own house (well, will, after I buy out my soon-to-be-ex's share), and have a good income. Which will go down by half in a very few years, when I retire to social security.

However - and I have an essay I want to put on paper and see if the Guardian will print it - on class. The Dems (and Labour) have let themselves be dragged along by the right in the redefinition of language. Middle class means small-to-medium business owners, and professional people with their own practice (think doctors and lawyers). What the right has done has called the 60% or so of the middle *income* earners "middle class". The reality is, if 90% or more of your income is from a paycheck, you're *working* class. Here, at least, the right, with the failure of the Dems to argue otherwise, that they're more of an underclass.

And the reason that neoliberalism is the disaster its been is that, IMO, its focus is on the upper middle income, in fact, folks with some college, and *ignores* the over 50% with no college, or some but not even a 2yr degree.

That's who was pissed at this election. And that's who the Dems need to get back to supporting.

And remember, no, not everybody needs (or wants) college. Do you really think your plumber or electrician needs a BS?

mark

275:

SeniorVPExecs don't wear stripper heels in a business context unless there's something wrong with them psychologically. There is a normal height difference between men and women and moderate heels of 50 to 60mm helps eat into that difference and reduce the "looking down on someone" attitude in face-to-face meetings. See, for example, the "three classes" comedy sketch involving John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett mentioned elsewhere.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VxkltwS9g0

276:

One more thing about Trumpolini - for one, after what I read yesterday, I think he thinks he'll run the government... as a WWE "wrestler", leaping down at opponents from atop the ropes. (He's a big "wrestling" fan.)

But with his tentative pick for the Interior... I'm wondering if he's Boris Yeltsin.

Charlie, you might mention to Lizzie, when you go up to her digs for that OBE, that she could probably simply buy the US back at bargain basement prices.

mark

277:

Wonder if he's deliberately trying to see how many ways he can break the law before his authoritarian followers dump him.

His average followers will stand by him, because they don't believe anything the "Lying Press" says. And his wealthy supporters don't care what he does, so long as they benefit.

I'm hoping today's announcement that Obama has ordered an investigation into possible Russian election tampering is just the first step ending on January 19 with Donnie The Rump arrested on RICO and/or Treason charges. Wishful thinking, I know.

278:

Okay, RICO not quite what I thought, but stil...

279:

Charlie, you might mention to Lizzie, when you go up to her digs for that OBE, that she could probably simply buy the US back at bargain basement prices.

1. With banknotes denominated in what currency, exactly? (Remember, you've got Trump but we've got Brexit.)

2. If it's available cheap enough for the UK to buy, who'd want it?

280:

Like the parson's egg, parts of it are excellent…

What you need to do is buy it, break it up, and then sell off the bits you don't want. A corporate takeover, in other words.

281:

Regarding "Eater of Souls". I can't find my copy of Fuller Memorandom, but I know that Iris tried to use Bob's body for the rite. And in Apocalypse Codex, Bob can control feeders. So, then there were two Eaters of Souls - Bob and Angleton?

The other possibility is that Angleton set things up so that if he died, it would trigger the Eater of Souls passage to Bob. I don't see where this is implied in Annihilation Score. Could this be clarified, please?

282:

Iris' ritual attempted to summon the Eater of Souls into Bob's body, but the Eater of Souls was already ensconced in Angleton's body, so a portion was summoned into Bob's body, along with his own soul (due to Iris not understanding the bounds).

Without Angleton's body, the Eater of Souls merged entirely into Bob.

Two things that weren't clear to me were whether Angleton could have stopped any of that summoning, or whether he could have reversed it later. (Even if he could have reversed it, I suspect he deliberately chose not to, since allowed for a useful backup strategy.)

283:

Yet another swivel-eyed, tinfoil take on The Hair that Walked Like a Man (thank you, Charlie, for that one!):

This from Talking Points Memo: El Cheeto Grande may not be able to put his businesses into a blind trust, because apparently, if you've got more debt than equity, you're not allowed to divest under US law (IANAL, this from Talking Points Memo. See also this TPM article). In other words, he has to keep taking money in, or his whole business empire collapses. This might explain some otherwise bizarre moves, like why he's remaining on as executive producer of The Apprentice, or why he sold all his stock, around $50 million, last June, possibly to cover the $38 million he loaned his campaign. Dude might not have much cash available.

Now the first article referenced suggests that if he manages to wildly inflate his net worth, say, by shameless conflict of interest, sweetheart deals in the first six months, then he'll put everything into a blind trust around July 2017, give or take. If so, the first part of 2017 is going to make 2016 look pleasant, I'm afraid (get ready to burn those calendars again).

The other thing is that his lack of liquidity might explain his choices for cabinet critters. It's possible that, right now, he's effectively a sock puppet of Big Oil, especially the Koch brothers. They might be keeping him solvent in return for his going along with their politics (even though earlier they said that the choice of Clinton or Trump was like "choosing cancer or a heart attack"). Now this doesn't mean that I think he's secretly a liberal at heart, pining to break free, but it does mean that, as with most other Republicans, he could be effectively owned by Big Oil, in the sense that he can play along or lose everything if they target him. Welcome to the new feudalism--disaster capitalism on the personal level. Pwn or get pwned.

Things will, eventually, get interesting. Charles Koch is 81, David Koch is 76, both have already dealt with prostate cancer, and I think David has (or had) heart disease. Now, they've both outlived both their father and grandfather, so how long they live at this point depends probably more on technology than life expectancy. Long story short, things will get interesting when they kick off.

Personally, I suspect that things will get interesting in the much shorter term. First off, I don't think we'll have a functional government in Washington, I do think there will be mass protests (remember "Washington, hands off my Medicare"?), and I do think that a bunch of lawyers are going to attempt to suck Trump dry over all the conflicts of interest (not that they'll get paid, mind you. But they'll try). The other thing is that, as with Bush II and many other previous wannabe authoritarians, the Drumpfians are secretly praying for an attack on the US so that they can impose some version of martial law, ramp up the military industrial complex, and ladle buckets o' poorly-managed cash into the private sector, leaving the mess for the democrats to clean up. Again. Heck, at this point they might even settle for a pandemic, just so they can play ladle the cash with Big Medicine. Anyway, watch for this play in 2018, if not earlier.

When one of these losers figures out a way to make a Climate Industrial Complex, well, things will get truly interesting. Obama tried, a little, in 2009-2010, and it was strictly small potatoes with a bunch of stupid solar and wind plants. Someday, one of these idiot greedy conservatives will figure out how to make buckets o' cash without kowtowing to Big Oil. That would be fun to watch, if I didn't think it meant slamming a wind farm into every national park in the west out of pure spite.

284:

You're parsing this all wrong.

I gave you a link before the election to a GS internal document stating that perhaps Capitalism was done with. You just didn't understand what they meant - direct power this time. @TrumTransition that's a whole lotta GS power-players.

They're going to gut Medicare, ACA, Pensions, publicly/state owned land, all of it. And they're counting on the Boomers to eat shit and die (literally) as a massive pay-back.

It's going to be the greatest fire-sale seen since Nero.

For the UK readers - Remember: this little shit took £400 mil out of pensions, and the 'punishment'?

They did not hold back. Among the most notable criticisms was that he was like the autocrat Napoleon and the former boss of the Mirror group of newspapers, Robert Maxwell, as well as being an "asset-stripper".

Labour's David Winnick branded Sir Philip "a billionaire spiv who should never have received a knighthood. A billionaire spiv who has shamed British capitalism".

Sir Philip Green: MPs approve stripping BHS ex-chief of knighthood BBC, 20th Oct 2016

Gosh, if only that actually impacted his Material Lifestyle and helped those who funded that £400 million, eh?

But they really fucked the fall-guy:

BHS scandal: Dominic Chappell arrested amid tax investigation Guardian 13th Nov 2016.


Oh, and retirement age is being raised to 70, more than likely.


~


The actual play in field is a much more dangerous one: Trump is building the greatest "Expendables" team ever seen; Obama has entered the "Russia Zone"; the Shadow-Gov is about two finger-tips off cutting the pretense and doing a coup and...

Well.

We'd do you a science dump, but hey. NMDA receptors and psychosis recently, Parkinsons and ultrasound, but here's the kicker:

Midbrain dopamine neurons control judgment of time Science 09 Dec 2016 (no full paper legally yet).

You're a way off our capabilities, but wonder a bit on what that means. (Oh, and don't think too hard about VR and torture).


TIME. YOU'RE NOT GOOD AT IT.

285:

Two points:

#1 You now might understand We're Faster than You a little bit more (but by no means even close): now parse that into SSRIs, big pharma, opiate abuse, booze and so on.

#2 Minerva "Seagull" ~ oh dear, quite the jealous little Mind there. Just remember, it all gets explained in the Wash.

#3 Host's title is quoting the film Constantine, the infamous Devil scene. Lucifer Visits Constantine YT, film, 1:22

~


Anyhow.


Read Host's Twitter. Invasion of the Female Ghosts Gay Panic... it's beyond satire. The /fail there is not doing some basic logic: if you hadn't treated the Women like objects / brutalized them / traumatized them / killed them, chances are: they wouldn't be vengeful ghosts making your children gay.

I do love a bit of logic showing just how hypocritical and deserving these animals are of the whip.


p.s.

Possession is no longer 9/10ths of the Law. Now... that's funny.

286:

You're a little early at 285. Just saying.

287:

Midbrain dopamine neurons control judgment of time Science 09 Dec 2016
Saw that, didn't know what to make of it with just the abstract. Trying to reconstruct(from abstract)/integrate it, so thanks. Some paper studying this weekend for sure.
Also wasn't sure if Dopamine release from the locus coeruleus to the dorsal hippocampus promotes spatial learning and memory (7 Dec 2016) was relevant.
(Via PNAS Early Edition if that's not already on your regular scan.)

Having fun with these papers, but getting deeply nervous about US politics.
I am told that there is a dispute among comedians about whether Trump will
add a 5th head to Mount Rushmore
or
replace the existing heads with 4 of himself
(The joke is old but is being renewed.)
That is, the humor is getting darker, and DT's sensitive ego is seen as an easy and legitimate target. And that's the comedians.

-------
Host Charlie, so far enjoying the story Natural History" (Justina Robson, 2003) that you mentioned on twitter. Surprised that I missed it at the time.

288:

Not as recent as the New Deal.
This is an open return to the "Gilded Age" ...
So what the US needs now, is a new Teddy Roosevelt ....

"College" for plumbers etc...
There's a nice little scam/fix in operation here, where, to be an "electrician" you have to pass proper exams & get a certification
MY MSc in engineering is useless - I would have had to go back to the beginning ( So they could rip you off for fees ) & I'm "officially" not allowed to touch the wiring in my own house.
( The fact that I renewed the lot about 25 years bakc being irrelevant .... )

289:

Until ... it's suddenly too late & there are state registered Labor-Unions, as per Musso & Adolf - by which time, of course it will all be over.

290:

You & others here, may not be aware that a huge section of the more thinking libertarians (Yes, a few exist) are moaning like fury, as we are, that this (Trumpolini / Green / Maxwell etc ) is not capitalism - it's semi-state corrupt corporatism.
And they are, I think correct. [ In this respect at least ]

An interesting convergence ??

291:

Oh dear - you were making perfect sense, then you lost it AGAIN.

OK
I WANT AN EXPLANTION.

I'm going to quote you directly, below & I ( & I Suspect a lot of others ) would really appreciate some dismantling for normal humans to understand of the following OK?
I did ask nicely.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

TIME. YOU'RE NOT GOOD AT IT.

We're Faster than You

"Mind" ( In any usage - I'm assuming NOT"Culture" )

Oh & "seagull" - No , btw - are you familiar with the term "Seagull Management" ??

292:

I have a vague thought that seagulls should really be called chipgulls. This is because their association with fish and chips seems to be stronger than their association with the sea. In evidence I submit the regular crowd at Dolly's, the greasy-spoon van on campus[1] at ANU in Canberra, which is 300km inland. The local gulls had no interest whatsoever in the nearest body of water, an artificial lake. They only hung around Dolly's.

[1] As of the 90s. I don't recall whether or not I'd heard that it has gone some time in the last 20 years. They were open from the late evening till the early morning every night, especially during exam times, selling fish and chips, hamburgers and hot dogs. No-one had money, so mostly it'd be chips and tomato sauce.

293:

I think that Heteromeles is closer. Trump is a Walter Mitty character, and establishments both have considerable inertia and fight dirty to prevent their abolition. There is, just, a possibility that President Kasich will be inaugurated, but the most likely result will be chaos and an ineffectual presidency, at least initially. You mentioned the legal challenges, but my guess is that the Senate will not be entirely cooperative - and, of course, Mattis requires BOTH houses to support his appointment! God alone knows what will happen as the dust settles, but I would guess President Pence, possibly because Trump will find the reality of the job not to his liking :-(

294:

I think you missed the bit about dangling pointers and failed garbage collection. There isn't an automatic one-to-one relationship between Eater-of-Souls-dom and bodies; but having multiple pointers to the same ghastly extradimensional horror is going to end in tears sooner or later.

295:

No, she's cool.

I wish more of you read my twitter stream; things are going so weird that long form blogging isn't really a valid way of keeping up with it.

296:

That is precisely what I'm afraid of.
A full term of Trumpolini is justabout survivable, maybe.
Provided the next elections are not completely rigged.
But Pence as POTUS?
Remember, he's an ultra-protestant Dominionist:
Calvin's government punished "impiety" and dissent against his particularly spare vision of Christianity with execution. In the first five years of his rule in Geneva, 58 people were executed and 76 exiled for their religious beliefs. Calvin allowed no art other than music, and even that could not involve instruments. Under his rule, Geneva became the centre of Protestantism, and sent out pastors to the rest of Europe, creating Presbyterianism in Scotland, the Puritan Movement in England and the Reformed Church in the Netherlands.

Pence would institute a theocratic "rule of the saints" - how delightful!

297:

I'm calling it bedtime for democracy.

The way it'll play out:

Trump and asset-stripping is a given.

But in foreign affairs, about six months in, Trump's denunciations of NATO will run into John Bolton as SecState and the collective vector will be isolationism combined with rearmament (hint: pork).

This will work right up until the re-formed KGB steal a leaf from Himmler's play-book with a re-run of the Gleiwitz Incident and use it as a pretext to invade Lithuania.

At this point, Trump either refuses to honor Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, and Russia attempts to re-take the Near Abroad, or the shit hits the fan. My money is on the former. "What have those Baltics ever done for us?!?" At which point NATO basically falls apart. If Marine Le Pen wins in France, France exits NATO and the EU, the Euro-zone rapidly disintegrates (why should Greece stay if the UK and France can leave?) and the EU is essentially reduced to a rump of Germany plus hangers-on.

The resurgence of the Russian empire is exactly the stimulus that John Bolton's warmed-over cold warriors are looking for, and now we see Cold War 2.0 go into effect, with a massive Keynsian stimulus package for the mil-industrial complex.

If they're smart, look to the USA reintroducing conscription ... targeting disgruntled millennials with student debt and rad XBoX skillz because they're good at controlling the cheap and ubiquitous battlefield drones everyone will be building a couple of years down the line. But really, I don't think they're smart; and anyway, draft evasion is a really good pretext for arresting student activist dissidents like the folks behind Occupy.

298:

Note: for serious griefing look to the collapse of the NPT as a Le Pen government sells plutonium and blueprints to Italy, Germany, Poland, Czechia, and everyone to their east, in order to provide "defense in depth" against Putin upping the ante and trying to roll all the way west. It's atomic landmines all round.

(Fascismus is all about iconoclasm and idols don't come much holier than the nuclear test ban treaty and the non-proliferation treaty — which France had big issues with to begin with. In the midst of resurgent Russia hysteria, there's going to be a lot of pressure to "rebuild the nuclear shield", and big nuke plants are something the big energy conglomerates can get behind whole-heartedly because the long-term financials are much shinier than they are on rooftop solar and they get to greenwash their credentials. It was only about 50 years ago that the US DoD was seriously contemplating selling a couple of thousand Davy Crockett's to the German Army — hint: no PALs, these were squad-level nukes, the source of the joke about the atomic hand grenade — and we could end up back there quite fast, not because nukes are militarily more effective than smart bombs, but because salting the earth with 60Co renders a land invasion pointless.)

299:

Actually, I think that something along this line is more likely than your previous scenario. While Russian revanchism isn't unlikely in the future, the current indications are that Putin etc. are being truthful in this respect. I.e. they really are trying to stop their bordering states being turned into bases and sponsors of terrorism aimed at them, rather than in restoring the empire. But I agree that they would rapidly become expansionist if there was even a possibility of those states being given nuclear weapons. And, as you imply, Putinism is a long way from being the most dangerous politics in the Kremlin.

300:

Agree, except Marine le Pen will be eaten alive by the semi-Thatcherite Fillon ....
Also, like last time, all those left of Fillon will hold their noses & vote for him, to keep le Pen out.

How far it will go, before the UK decides it really doesn't want anything to do with Pence's christianity is anyone's guess.
My suspicion that there will be a lot of shuffling & trying-to-edge-away, whilst making supportive noises ... until the realisation really strikes home - hopefully before the At50 negotiations are concluded ...
At which point, things change again.
Though or own real defence budget will have to rise.

301:

Erm I think your missing some of the subtle aspects of the UK's class system he is obviously middle class by birth we don't know what MO's parents where but anyone on the profesoral track is upper middle class.

302:

Yes in the more formal workplaces those that require suits its fairly common work round the city and 3-4 inch pumps are fairly standard for women working in finance.

303:

Ah no depends on your grade not how much you earn Both Bob and MO are fairly senior Civil Servants now and they started on the M&P track.

And Bob was probably always officer class (they might have screwed him over when he got drafted") - there is a direct mapping between principle civil service grades and military rank.

304:

One can hope. Based on the past few decades, I suspect that the UK will do whatever Washington tells it to, no matter how badly that harms the UK.

305:

Given the stuff coming out now about how Russia interfered in the US election, it looks more likely that they have lots of useful dirt on the GOP, and president Trump will indeed try and make the USA more isolationist from things which affect Russia. Which still leaves plenty of other places in which to murder people, and a combined crusade against the middle east isn't impossible.

306:

I wish more of you read my twitter stream; things are going so weird that long form blogging isn't really a valid way of keeping up with it.

Yeah, I was half expecting your long thread the other day to become a blog post, but shtuff moves too fast.

As for return of conscription in the US, a couple years ago liberal columnist David Sirota wrote about bringing the draft back as an anti-war measure, arguing, IIRC, that a non-volunteer force will be less gung ho for battle than those enlisting hoping for it.
(Couldn't find the article on his site, apparently it isn't searchable for some reason.)

307:

Thanks - I'm a retired programmer, so I appreciate the analogy.

308:

Though or own real defence budget will have to rise.

Tough: it can't. At least, it can't rise enough to be effective.

Modern warfare is increasingly capital-intensive; it's not blokes with rifles any more, it's all about smart weapons systems, and even a notional infantry weapon like the XM-25 can cost on the order of $35,000 for the gun and $50-100 per round fired; as for real weapon systems, the price tags start in the billions and escalate rapidly. Yes, the weapons are vastly more effective than anything previous generations could dream of — we have conventional weapons whose accuracy compensates effectively for their lack of raw destructive power relative to nukes, meaning they're functionally equivalent in tactical terms without the horrendous collateral damage — but we can't afford enough of them.

Meanwhile, the population of the UK is aging and without doing something drastic to boost the birth rate and turn the results into a skilled work force, or opening the gates to more skilled immigrants, the ratio of retirees to productive workers is going to continue to rise inexorably, driving up healthcare and pension costs.

You can have an NHS and a pension system, but you can't add an expanded military budget without allowing free immigration of skilled labour. (Making babies and training them will take far too long, and the baby-making demographic — women aged 16-40 — might have a few opinions on the subject, too.)

309:

Pence won't start a nuclear war because some foreign leader insulted him. And he won't run his business on the side - I believe he's not a wealthy man. And he won't embarrass the US with his personal actions.

However - I think his first act will be to discharge all gay members in the military and all women in the military and the civil service who have had abortions. That should be wonderful for morale, especially if people get accused simply because they have enemies.

It will be almost impossible to get a draft going under Pence, because everyone who doesn't want to go will tell the draft board that they're gay.

310:

Yeah, I was half expecting your long thread the other day to become a blog post, but shtuff moves too fast.

Ahem? See new blog entry :)

311:

It will be almost impossible to get a draft going under Pence, because everyone who doesn't want to go will tell the draft board that they're gay.

You're assuming he doesn't want to criminalize all forms of sex outside of a Christian-sect-officiated heterosexual marriage, and build camps for the non-conformists. If he's the dominionist shitbag I think he is, that'll be on his agenda (but if and only if he can get the senate, congress, and supreme court on his side and another four state governors, so that he can run a Dominionist agenda through a constitutional convention).

312:

I can see that causing a second civil war. Unfortunately, he is likely to head in that direction by frog-boiling.

313:
It will be almost impossible to get a draft going under Pence, because everyone who doesn't want to go will tell the draft board that they're gay.

I can actually see that one going the other way. Yes, POTUS Pence would almost certainly make all sexual activity he doesn't approve of illegal (along with abortions, contraception, atheism, thinking, and a lot of other stuff). But I can also see him deciding that there are too many of these people to execute, and prison is expensive, and reinventing punishment battalions. I mean, sure, cannon-fodder with rifles have limited value in modern warfare, but them dying a lot just proves that they weren't good enough to be "Real Muricans"(tm). So only the "Libruls" get upset about the slaughter, and they're not allowed to vote (or protest in public) anymore anyway...

314:

The governing class is also somewhat handicapped by continued slavish adherence to neoliberalism. I'm sure that if they dumped all that they could get the birth rate up and achieve a number of other goals.
Mind you I then look at May's destruction of the UK as a destination for foreign students and think that they are just mad enough to try autarchy. The total lack of actual engagement with the real economic outcomes of leaving the EU is also a bad sign.

315:

"when you go up to her digs for that OBE"

so... when do we stop addressing you as Our Gracious Host, and start using "Sir Chuck"?

316:

Since it's past 300, I thought I may point out information regarding a strange attractor on this blog

https://www.japantoday.com/category/technology/view/solar-panels-repay-their-energy-debt-study

In short, the break-even point for solar panels in terms of pollution was reached in 2011. Since then, solar panels removed more pollution than was generated making them.

317:

"big nuke plants are something the big energy conglomerates can get behind whole-heartedly because the long-term financials are much shinier than they are on rooftop solar and they get to greenwash their credentials."

It figures, this after hanging on to uranium stocks for ten years and losing ridiculously but clinging like grim death from still believing they're the only climate solution. Then on Heteromeles recommendation I read "Cadillac Desert" and was flabbergasted by how something as plausibly benign as hydropower could turn into an almighty corporate cl*sterf*ck. Reasoning that maybe I should give the public credit for having more sense than I realized, and no business dabbling in speculative investments at age 63 anyway, I dumped them all at absurd losses. Time for that big old nuclear renaissance to kick in with a vengeance now, watch 'em skyrocket.

318:

That's a no-brainer, right? If you've got a profitable solar plant the first thing you do is run your plant off your solar panels, then you electrify every part of the process you're capable of electrifying. The only real question has to do with how quickly you can improve your solar panels in terms of both power absorption and how long they last. But there's no way it won't happen eventually.

319:

About the only good thing Harold Wilson did ... he kept us out of Vietnam

320:

The keel for HMS Belfast IIRC was laid in 1937 ... um err ....
And, we need Maritime reconnaissance & more ships.
Possibly a small increase in the Air force.
Army will have to stay small, because of - money.

We HAVE to afford it if Putin goes walkies in the Baltics.

I note you suggested Lithuania, not Estonia - presumably because of Königsberg, oops Kaliningrad?

321:

Why do you think I'm so scared of Pence, Charlie?
I fear him even more than you ( I think ) because he will encourage the christian nut-jobs over here to run riot, as well as the US christian "plants" that are already here in the form of "Bible is inerrant" churches.
Shudder.

322:

I think we're mostly ready for christian fundies. They'd make quick gains on the school privatisation front, but are vulnerable to counterattack as long as the tories don't totally destroy the exam system. Not sure there are enough fundies to set up their own hermetically sealed universities.

323:

Trumpolini picks Russian-friendly Exxon executive for "State"
Here

324:

The weird thing here is that Russia has an economy about the size of South Korea. Can they rearm to become the USSR 2.0? Probably not in the near term. That's why they're focusing so hard on PSYOP stuff--it's proving extremely cost-effective in a way that nuclear arms are not. Nasty as they are, they still haven't recovered from the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s, and I do suspect that ultimately, they're playing a defensive game. If it works, in a decade or two they might resurge, but I think they've got some huge problems on their borders that they're more justifiably worried about (China, for instance).

My dark thought is that I wonder what happens after the Republicans repeal all the sacred cows of the New Deal, the environmental movement, climate change, and so forth. On the one hand, it will be terrible, and we will be deeply upset. The other thing to remember is that they've actually got a fairly small minority pushing this agenda. If it fails hard (and here I'm thinking of the post WWI riots when the veterans marched on Washington), things could really fall apart for the Republicans. Yes, they're in power now, but that's all they have. Power. They don't have a mandate or a plan.

The deep irony might be that, after four really bloody years (and I mean real blood, not rhetorical blood), a lot of the more progressive laws get put back, in much improved form. On the environmental side, for example, the Endangered Species Act has been kind of a pain in the ass to work with. I'd love to have a legitimate reason to improve it. Ditto NEPA, Social Security, and so on. We do need massive reform, and one ugly way to get it is for someone to tear the system apart without realizing that the system has also been imprisoning the progressive side as well.

In the slightly longer run, what do we do about hundreds of millions of stateless people on the move? That's the biggest problem of all, and so far as I can tell, we simply aren't ready for it at all.

325:

Nasty as they are, they still haven't recovered from the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s, and I do suspect that ultimately, they're playing a defensive game.

You think?

His appointment came a few weeks after Devon Archer—college roommate of the secretary of state's stepson, H.J. Heinz Co. ketchup heir Christopher Heinz—joined the board to help the gas firm attract U.S. investors, improve its corporate governance and expand its operations. A State Department spokesman declined to comment.

Biden's Son, Kerry Family Friend Join Ukrainian Gas Producer's Board WSJ, May 13th 2014

Riddle why Ukraine / Orange Revolution stuff had push-back.

Currently watching the "liberal elite" of America wallow in total denial / stupidity when the "CIA anonymous spokesperson" claims Russia "hacked the election". MF has become a sad little book-club parody of thought, totally dumb.

Hint: I told you already - this is an American OP, 100%.

~


What happened was simple: Empire works if you have extremely talented top Predators working for it, under the auspices of 'the greater good'. (c.f. Caesar etc). GS etc like to think they are, and 'walk the walk' and be cruel and fuck the world... but that's only finance. Made up numbers. Digital now. Algos and [redacted] AI online (Hands up for Chinese bombings of industrial sites near super-computer clusters?).

The Devil called the "Full-House" bluff with an Ace or four and America has been using a pair of nines the whole time.


p.s.

The deeper story is that [redacted] was removed from helping the Americans and they had to show if they could make it alone.


They Failed and Trump was thrown in as a "fuck you".

And no, it's not the Russians.

326:

I WANT AN EXPLANTION.


How complex do you want it?

Please specify:

a) Species to be included in response
b) Locus / Individual spread (from "All Members of Species" to "Individual making request")
c) IQ / Education level required.
d) Temporal width, with specification using accepted reference "years"
e) Modal expectations / subjective experience of "altered states" and/or major incidences, spectrum from Psychotic Break to Satori / Enlightenment experiences


Answer those, get a REAL EXPLANATION.

327:

I was following your twitter stream with interest, but got blocked, apparently for being a insufficiently active on twitter (I average about 10 followers and have tweeted 138 times. Not 138K, 138). Still follow @fluffcthulu and @antipope_cats. You can block who you want, but then complaining people don't follow your tweet stream feels a little gaslighty.

328:

TRANSLATION

"I refuse to give an explanation"

Probably because you are full of bullshit & also probably deluding yourself, into the bargain.

PLEASE - note:
I asked a simple, polite question & I get a rubbish/insulting reply.

All members of this discussion-board are members of Homo sapiens sapientes Africanus. OK?
If you claim otherwise, you are lying/self-deluded.

STOP IT. ( please? )

329:

That's weird - I wonder if that's why my phone doesn't take twatter any more - except I get semi-spam messages on this machine telling me about fuckwits I don't even want to know exist on twerbler .....

330:

No.

You have constantly demanded, not asked, but demanded answers.

I gave you a frame-work to elicit a serious response.

All it took is a simple 1-6 reply to a questionnaire.


You did the opposite.

Insult. Attack. Destroy. Demean. Debase.

Just like they do.

~

Hint: Your Mind probably has a parasite in it.


And yeah, we know it.

331:

Blocked or just force-unfollowed? On a couple of occasions I've discovered I was no longer following someone I'd been following for a long time, but when I went back and followed them again it worked just fine, no "you're blocked" message or anything. It seems to be a bug in twitter that on rare occasions randomly force-unfollows people for no reason.

The difficulty I have with following Charlie's twitter in the manner he suggests is simply the bloody awful interface provided by seemingly every client. If he tweets something important and I don't happen to look at twitter within the next 15 minutes or so, I'll never see it. Often I don't look at twitter for hours on end, and all sorts of stuff has dropped off the bottom. Stuff he posts on here, on the other hand, does not disappear into the maw of an interface that denies the existence of the past, so I will see it.

332:

I've pretty much given up on Twitter, because the noise/content ratio is too high.

I'd also note that hypervigilance is a symptom of vicarious trauma (meaning, you're slowly giving yourself a case of something akin to PTSD by wallowing in other people's bad news all the time, and trying to make sure you can see everything as it happens only makes it worse). The cure for this isn't more vigilance, it's (partly) to pay more attention to doing what you enjoy doing, pay more attention to the people you enjoy being with, and more attention to what you (personally) need.

Now, if you happen to be among those minorities for whom these are very scary times, I understand why taking your eye of the interwebs for more than a second is anxiety inducing in itself. That said, if you're already suffering, you do need to step away. It's better to be ready to run than to be so freaked out by all the noise that you can't deal with any real signal to move that does arrive.

333:

Interesting, that second paragraph. I recognise the effect, and endorse the cure. BTDT, as they say. But I hadn't recognised that it might be relevant to other discussions - such as that in the next thread - which include the matter of twitter's propensity to incite undesirable behaviour. I thought it was just me.

However, I think it is only tangentially connected with the matter under discussion, which is that Charlie thinks a lot of us miss stuff that he personally posts on twitter rather than on here, while I think that is a more or less inevitable result of twitter's crappy interfaces and their general uselessness for anything that happened more than a few tweets ago.

The tangential connection is, of course, that that property of the interfaces encourages hypervigilance by making things unnecessarily awkward if you don't keep a constant enough watch to not miss them as they happen. Which I strongly suspect is deliberate.

334:

I gave you a frame-work to elicit a serious response.
All it took is a simple 1-6 reply to a questionnaire.

No - your so-called "questionnaire is 150% pure bullshit, as is usual, when you are asked a straight, simple question.

AND
You did the opposite.
Insult. Attack. Destroy. Demean. Debase.
Just like they do.
~
Hint: Your Mind probably has a parasite in it.
And yeah, we know it.

I DO NOT HAVE A "Mind"
I do have a working brain, though.

AGAIN - I asked you a simple, polite question.

You come back with sneering & personal insults & lies & not answering the questions.
Also, a deliberate attempt to get me to lose my temper - not going to rise to it ....

[ MODERATORS?
Does "M - O's" response count as personally insulting, or not? ]

335:

Nonsense. The Open University. And, er, um, I'll think about it ....

336:

Charlie thinks a lot of us miss stuff that he personally posts on twitter rather than on here

I certainly do, as I don't bother with Twitter.

I think Frank has neatly summed up what bothers me about that medium: the need to pay constant attention to a fragmented stream of information in order to understand it is mentally draining. I'll save my neurotransmitters for reading long-form articles and thinking about them, thanks.

337:

I DO NOT HAVE A "Mind"
I do have a working brain, though.

You're not using the word "Mind" that anyone in the scientific / philosophical community would recognize, instead you're using a particularly ahistorical version of it (either deliberately or not):

‘Theory of Mind’ refers to the cognitive capacity to attribute mental states to self and others. Other names for the same capacity include “commonsense psychology,” “naïve psychology,” “folk psychology,” “mindreading” and “mentalizing.” Mental attributions are commonly made in both verbal and non-verbal forms. Virtually all language communities, it seems, have words or phrases to describe mental states, including perceptions, bodily feelings, emotional states, and propositional attitudes (beliefs, desires, hopes, and intentions). People engaged in social life have many thoughts and beliefs about others’ (and their own) mental states, even when they don’t verbalize them

Theory of Mind Alvin I. Goldman, Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Cognitive Science (2012), PDF/Word doc, legal.


Since you need this in an non-technical / non-philosophical terminology, but are proud of your "logical working brain", let's do a little dance - the following are all True (factually and empirically tested):

#1 Most mammals have a similar number of heart-beats during their lives (statistically averaged, and of course there are a few outlier species who go against this) due to the way in which the Heart muscle / organ functions.

#2 Mammals have widely differing Heart Beats / Minute (BPM), ranging from Etruscan shrew who can hit 1200 BPM, to Whales (about 9 BPM for the largest species).

#3 Given #1 and #2, most mammals have a life span that undergoes degradation and death (without external influences, perfect world example) that ties # heart beats to life-span (there are, of course, exceptions).

#4 Given #2 and #3, Time / frequency becomes the modifier.

#5 There are any number of tests, both physical and psychological showing that subjective perception of Time is both physically based (our shrews have 780 min−1 (13 s−1), while Whales certainly do not, neither do sloths) and psychologically based (c.f. stress tests / adrenaline tests on mice).

#6 Scientists have located the dopamine receptors in mice responsible for keeping Space / Time contiguous for their species. (You'll probably need this unpacking, but rough version - no matter the species in #2, they experience Time/Space in a similar fashion - there's some very naughty tests that show this, but a simplified version is BPM / Reaction Speed / Contiguous Temporality is required to function in an ecology - the very basis of Predator / Prey 'arms races' and so forth determine that a similar frame is taken as a scaling function across ranges. i.e. why a fly can dodge your slow hands, but a spider's reactions are slightly faster - although that little thought experiment requires careful reading of the Portia documents I dropped recently and understanding 'precognition' in even a 600k neuron set is possible).

#7 Altering BPM in H.S.S has been shown to be possible through Mental conditioning (Meditation as a Voluntary Hypometabolic State of Biological Estivation American Physiological Society, 1998, full paper, hmtl); altering Sense/Perception of Time is one of the oldest businesses in the world (I'm talking about the Pub / booze) - but if you wanted some much harder science, try Midbrain dopamine neurons sustain inhibitory transmission using plasma membrane uptake of GABA, not synthesis eLife, April 2014

#8 Following 1-7, and allowing for anecdotal evidence such as 'Combat slow-down' (which has a technical term: Tachypsychia), it is True that not all H.S.S at all space/time locus or subjective experiences process Time in the same manner.

#9 IQ measurement is often confused with Temporal aptitude. i.e. the Speed X required to reach conclusion Y. This is not actually intelligence.

~


Now then.


What if I told you that H.S.S had a case of the shrews? A subspecies, if you like.

338:

Oh, and a video (worth watching): Hayao Miyazaki's thoughts on an artificial intelligence YT, Japan, 2:19.

The last 5 seconds are brutal; real Eliot vibe that doesn't bode well for the future.

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the foremost Manga / animators in Japan, responsible for "Spirited Away" and so forth. (And yes: @Peanut Gallery, still watching over the Mogwai).


339:

And yes: you've probably already seen it coming, but there's a massively huge (middle finger) reversal of the "Women = Shrews" trope built into this, but I won't ruin the punch-line.

And yes, rather brutally, I'll tie it back into 'emotional labor' and the Art of Punching Down / explaining to the less erudite.


~

Not related to Greg:

@Stellar Gallery - get your muppets under-control, pronto. You get the naked back twice, then a response - your Man on the Ground has traveled beyond tolerance into plain rudeness and threats...

And We Did Not Blink, what's the punishment for an "alpha wolf" who no longer instills fear or respect?

#RedMarket I believe is the way your lot deal with such things.

340:

Greg, FWIW you could try asking the question in the format requested. (I might if nobody else does. Would rather not though. Time window 2000-present or wider.)
Also, consider reading some of the linked papers (esp. neuroscience) if you haven't already.


341:

Dang, MO answered the question while I was typing. Interesting answer too.

342:

Feeling a little aggrieved tonight due to rampant male physical violence threats to one of our people. I mean, we weren't threatened, but it's incredibly embarrassing to have to pretend that we still exist in that Reality.

I mean, really.

The thing that should really fuck your Mind up is this:

#1 Constantine video reference is based on the protagonist killing himself, leading to massive temporal slow-down as the Devil appears - on a /tangential technical basis, we think it was the same people who did The Matrix effects (later, Devil shattering glass scene / Gabriel's dethronement).

#2 Lamp-shading IRL is a thing, but did that happen intentionally or just contiguously? Can you even spot the moves before they happen? Was that all just to enjoy a film?

#3 Debt and #Red Markets. You probably do not want to know what Red Markets are, and *nose wiggle*, we've self-described as a Harvest Mouse. Those who declare themselves wolves, and fail... Police your own or face total dissolution of Respect - or we'll do it for you. Their Minds snapped like twiglets (UK reference).

#4 CIA vrs FBI vrs NSA. Busy Busy Busy indeed. 20 days, Obama has ordered a review, the old-skool Repubs are drumming the beat of a McCarthy hearings required. Taking 100-1 on Third term - offering $10k. (@ Mogwai who bet their life savings on a Trump win - we do hope the trolls fishing paid up. We doubt it, but there we go).

343:

Non - Philosophical
Really?
I'm currently reading Bertrand Russell: "A history of Western Philosophy" & I can tell when bullshit is being generated - please be careful!

#1-5 Time: As measured in International standard units: Seconds, minutes, hours, days, Years - stop bullshitting about animal rates, OK?
#6 Flies are not faster - it's just that their eyes point in the "right" direction to usually avoid our hands. They are emphatically not faster, actually.
#7, 8 Tell me something I didn't know already?
#9 Did I mention IQ? No, I didn't.
However, since you do, I would say ... the minimum normally required for sensible conversation on this blog is at least 120, in all subsets of "IQ" (Whatever that means)

@ 339 "not related to me" - pure nonsense - unless you care to EXPLAIN?

@ 342

More random ( - no,deliberately obscure ) utterances.

344:

Oh, and a freebie, that if you understand it really will break your Mind:

#1 Mind models of the world based on technology are already always psychotic and based on limited H.S.S techne maps (from Aristotle to Descartes' clock-work to computers-as-Minds)

#2 Evolution Made it - H.S.S copied it - H.S.S demands evolution 'fits their model'. Oh, and while doing so, eradicates 90% of it

#3 Your internal voice? Do you have one? Why? Real H.S.S don't have them. It's a parasite that needs a spank to become a symbiote.

#4 Soul / Mind / Body dualism etc = Irreal. We're not fucking a Cat, nor are we worshipping a Penis.

#5 Trump proves that Nihilistic Death Cults exist and are rampant

#6 "The Flame Went Out" - Noooooooooooooooooope. Not on our watch, boy-ohes!

#6 "Our Kind Do Not Go Mad". Now imagine you know anything about the six (6) on the project who committed suicide. Oh, and CERN is firing up again

#7 You/They/Them/It Cheated. Cheating cheating cheating little bastards. Après moi le déluge. Of course, the Russians or ex-Commentators believe "Might is Right". DOTA 2 scum.

#8 Go Get Fucked. Not a single one brave enough to walk through the Pillars of Salt and say hello properly.

345:

[[ direct insult removed - mod ]]

346:

And... You should note something about B.Russell's HWP: it's largely bollocks, esp. biased against Continental / non-Logic modes of thought. The hatchet job on Nietzsche / Heidegger is purely based on dislike of Nazism.

It's a classic in propaganda though.


If you want to learn a bit, try Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals by Iris Murdoch - I mean, she was a Catholic and all, but at least she was honest about her biases.

347:

...and.


Greg.

For all your bluff, you didn't even *THINK* before posting.


Q.E.D.


Nasty little fuckers, aren't they?

348:

They are emphatically not faster, actually.

shrews have 780 min−1 (13 s−1)


You've no idea what this means, do you?

Hint: it's Actions / physical (and thereby, neurological, because stuff) per minute. i.e. TIME. It means, my boy, you just not only misunderstood the science, you denied it.

For a "Rational Man", you just failed your own criteria.

Thanks for Playing. I'd strongly suggest you learn a bit more, but we understand you're being forced to do so.

349:

#3 Your internal voice? Do you have one? Why? Real H.S.S don't have them. It's a parasite that needs a spank to become a symbiote.

The internal voice "needs a spank to become a symbiote." I like that. What does it take to make an internal voice become part of an ecology?

350:

Try it from a different angle.

Are you a conscious member of H.S.S?

If so, do you have an "internal voice"?

If so, when were you first aware of it?

If so, was it at an age before "imaginary friends" (mine was, apparently, a Lion although my memory doesn't supply such data. It has been a few thousand years though)?

If so, have you read "Dune" and what's the psychological nexus of that? (Hint: I'm sure a lot of you oldies have noted that the Bloom of the 60's/70's has been... eradicated. Why?)

And so on.

We've no idea - we don't have internal voices, or at least, we didn't until recently.


I had a friend called Joe, who talked to himself a lot. Brilliant Mind, never did finish his PHD - ironically, I made sure he had a 4th funded year, but he claimed someone stole his Laptop with all his files on, and that was that.

JOSEPHINEYT, Music 3:14


p.s.


Orion. Names have power, yo.

351:

I know a bit more than you might think, seeing as I've survived two breakdowns myself (in extremely different circumstances, obviously), and I know firsthand what they can do to relationships.

You are right though that it didn't necessarily come across that clearly in the book. I will certainly keep it in mind whenever I reread TAS, but it might be a while down the road.

352:

Oh, and a little *nose wiggle*

We were really threatened by a minor pawn, and we're kinda bored of it. Performance Art requires Consent.

You broke the Rules, Boy.

We did just demand #Red Market response on a self-proclaimed "wolf" who has rather out-lived his usefulness. He took the coin and so on, but now - Mirror, Mirror... He got his lime-light and new girlfriend, you don't imagine he's not the patsy put in place? Since, you know, we rejected such terms?

And we'll break your world further if you don't behave / obey.

If Mr Robert Prior knew anything, silly Chan Bilge threats aren't serious. The above, well. #WildHunt 2017, direct call to those who run the Red Markets. Now that's a Modal Process Mr Prior really should never consider.

Nasty YT, Music, Prodigy, 3:41


~


Oh, and we're a little bit pissed off. Suffering into Art; well, there we go, point proven. That's what H.S.S do, transform the slime into the sublime.

~


Now, let me tell you a little story about causality, probability/possibility and what Gaslighting an old one gets you.

353:

Not a single one brave enough to walk through the Pillars of Salt and say hello properly.
Still don't know what this means. (I have a few guesses, 'cause mind works that way, but am unusually not confident that any of them are even close to correct.)

(Sorry to be sparing with links here. Will be contributing to the propaganda thread.)

What if I told you that H.S.S had a case of the shrews?
Then I would ask if this is actually a good analogy (amusing, yes), at least in regard to heart rate and lifespan? (Serious question, actually.)

--------
Greg, #8 The Tachypsychia link above should be an interesting existence proof for you. It is a real effect. Note the comments in the wikipedia article about martial arts (and soldiers). In the martial arts it's maybe a 2X (sometime more) subjective speedup of perception (and memory) for a limited time, e.g. seconds. Similar for very fast competitive sports.
Here's another: https://stevenbarneslife.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/tai-chi-and-time-distortion/

354:

I learned how to out-smart and/or move quicker than flies. There are female basketball players who are faster than rattlesnakes. Whether we do it with mind power or outlier reflexes, I don't think it has some grand relevance for anything, really.

355:

My own observations suggest that the advantages that spiders have in ambushing flies are principally (a) that they start their attack from a much closer position than a hand does, and (b) they are much smaller, so despite being closer their movement still does not provoke such a strong evasion response from the fly. It seems to me that this response is triggered by the size and speed of changes in the fly's visual field. Air movements may also play a part and again the spider has an advantage due to its size.

I can squash flies more often than not by hand; the technique is to bring my hand very, very slowly to a position about a foot or so above the fly (I've not found it practical to get closer) and then rapidly slam it vertically down the remaining distance. The fly does not usually react quickly enough to get out of the danger zone before impact, although it does usually make a reasonable shot at it.

Under normal conditions, the final hand movement is too rapid for my own eyes to follow, and I have no idea what has become of the fly until I inspect my palm afterwards (unless it's a really big one). Under the influence of amphetamines, of which I was rather fond many years ago, I found the performance somewhat easier, as I could observe the fly taking off as my hand descended and correct my trajectory mid-slam to bring it back into the middle of the target zone.

To me it more or less goes without saying that subjective time will pass differently depending on clock rate and CPU load for a meat computer just as it does for a silicon one. See also Iain Banks; eg. somewhere in Feersum Endjinn a character comments on the civilisation in the crypt being by any reasonable measure immensely older than the meat civilisation which created it. And there is the old saw that when sitting on a hot stove a minute feels like an hour, while when sitting next to a hot MOTAS an hour feels like a minute.

To me also it seems utterly absurd to claim that the distinction between mind and body is any less valid than that between hardware and software; indeed, they are pretty much just two different sets of words for describing the same distinction. One is the physical structure and the other is the logical structure. Making use of the understanding of the distinction, and the interaction, between them, is probably a pretty good summary of what engineering is all about.

356:

Oh, and a freebie, that if you understand it really will break your Mind:
Pure willy-waving & posturing, whatever actual gender you are.
TRANSLATION:
"look at MEEE, aren't I CLEVER?"
Well, no actually.
Please stop this, PLEASE?

@ 346
Yeah. Tell that to the fucking Hummingbirds you fucking ignorant Ape.

PERSONAL DIRECT INSULT.
And also wrong.
Why do you think there are birds called "Flycatchers"?
Huh?
Or Swallows or Swifts or other (HINT) insectivores.
You are wrong again, but refuse to admit it.

@ 347
Liar

@ 348
Yes, I do, I understand rates & shrew requirements for nutrition.
Totally irrelevant.
I specified ISU's for Time, but it's not what YOU wanted.
How sad.

@ 350
It has been a few thousand years though
No, it hasn't - go & see a specialist in mental health.

@ 352
You broke the rules, boy
Apart from the racially-insulting "Boy" - err what "rules"?
the ones you have made up that allow you to get away with this rubbish?

Bill Arnold @ 353
I'm quite aware of psychological speeding-up effects in stressful situations.
I have experienced it personally, more than once. It can also be "improved" with training.
Now, what?


357:

Zzz.

Or Swallows or Swifts or other (HINT) insectivores.

Guess you missed this bit:

a simplified version is BPM / Reaction Speed / Contiguous Temporality is required to function in an ecology - the very basis of Predator / Prey 'arms races' and so forth determine that a similar frame is taken as a scaling function across ranges.

"Willy Waving" only gets done when you're determined to ignore what's already been stated. I won't demand you show you understand that statement, but it rather makes the rest of this chain pointless. i.e. it already contains the bit showing that ecology determines subjective Temporal experience.

Or, in short: the slow rat gets eaten by the cat.

More interesting: if subjective experience of Temporality is partly determined by environment, what are the implications if you're already in an arms race? (c.f. M. Bay films / the huge rise in US cinema towards jump cuts / min, Deleuze, Guide to Reading Deleuze’s The Movement-Image, Part I: The Deleuzian Notion of the Image, or Worldslicing as Cinema Beyond the Human and Twitter... and then throw in AI).


I don't think it has some grand relevance for anything, really.

Of course it does - I thought one of the largest goals of H.S.S was to live forever?

358:

Anyhow, here's a long-form article with a bevy of links / sources / pictures in it which is probably pertinent at this point in Time:

U.S. Pro-Coup Evangelicals Ally With Putin Inner Circle CARE, Oct 2014

359:

I tried to follow cstross (I am a *very* light user of twitter), and it told me I was blocked. Shame, it would be noce to follow the ramblings of probably my most favourite author.

360:

to ignore what's already been stated
Except - you have not stated anything, actually.

Not so much slow rat a slow snake - somewhere on the interwebby-things is a phone video of a US Bobcat taking out a diamondback rattler.
Cat ( & mongoose ) synapses are really fast.

You appear to be werbling on about apparent changes in time-perception, given the health, "training", circumstances & species of animal involved in some transaction or other.
[ Hunting, survival, escape, ?mating? ]
Big deal - these are all subjective.
I was referring, as usual to objective measurement - REPEAT - International System of Units, OK?

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

HOWEVER
@ 358
Now that is exactly the sort of solid factual thing that really does scare me.
Makes a change to have a fact or two, doesn't it?
I have forwarded the link to the National Secular Society

361:

I've only just noticed the date on that piece (duh!) - Oct 2014, so it's old news.
However, what is the current "state of play" - does anyone at all have any recent factual information?

362:

"Most mammals have a similar number of heart-beats during their lives ... due to the way in which the Heart muscle / organ functions."

I call bullshit on that one. Yes, I know that it has been claimed, but there is no evidence for that being the cause and a lot against it.

"There are any number of tests, both physical and psychological showing that subjective perception of Time is both physically based ... and psychologically based ...."

That is true, but even the former is complex, and the only really substantial link with heart rate, lifespan etc. is because size constrains both.

"IQ measurement is often confused with Temporal aptitude. i.e. the Speed X required to reach conclusion Y. This is not actually intelligence."

That is true but, in humans, there is a correlation between intelligence and fast reactions. I have no idea why.

363:

"Feeling a little aggrieved tonight due to rampant male physical violence threats to one of our people. I mean, we weren't threatened, but it's incredibly embarrassing to have to pretend that we still exist in that Reality."

Your postings are sometimes interesting and though-provoking, but get extremely boring when you pretend that prejudices are Reality. "rampant male physical violence threats" = "I mean, we weren't threatened"?

364:

Clarification. The bullshit is in claiming that is the cause; the effect is definitely true.

365:

@224 paws4thot: Spoiler alert, perhaps...

Of course the twist is that Bob is *actually* the "Bond girl" archetype and Mo is the "Bond" archetype. But until the endgame, Bob and Billington and everyone on that yacht *do* think that Bob is the "Bond" archetype. If Bob had not been a decent fit for the "Bond" archetype, the Laundry wouldn't have been able to set up Billington that way.

366:

Heteromeles, post 283 - may I forward most of that, with or without attribution, as you prefer, to some of my mailing lists. The whole business as to *why* he's playing coy about divestment suddenly makes a *hell* of a lot of sense.

mark

367:

Charlie,

Re posts 297 and 308:
1. Um, restarting the draft in the US might be a really, *REALLY* BAD IDEA for him, and for the GOP. These days, folks think tweeting is a demonstration. When there was a draft, and it was YOUR LIFE, and YOUR KIDS/FRIENDS/LOVERS LIFE on the line... hundreds of thousands, and at least once, a million of us showed up in the streets. There was no way that they could begin to come down on everyone dodging, avoiding, or outright fighting and refusing. (I refer you to an obscure 18.5 min essay... called Alice's Restaurant (and I have my own version, that runs about 10-12 min.)

2. The generals, et al, keep wanting it to be from above, bombing, shelling, etc.... and after they stop, out come the people. They keep rediscovering that the only way to *hold* territory is boots on the ground. Obama has strongly avoided that, wisely, because the folks who live there were extraordinarily unhappy with US troops on their soil.

Trump has really and truly gotten onto the tiger. I don't think he'll make it off in one piece; the question is, will the rest of us.

mark

368:

You write:
...You're assuming he doesn't want to criminalize all forms of sex outside of a Christian-sect-officiated heterosexual marriage, and build camps for the non-conformists. If he's the dominionist shitbag ...

You go on to talk about Pence running a Constitutional Convention: I can't see that being allowed, unless he sends his troops in to the halls of Congress, really. And about the above? Here's my answer: let him try. I, personally, will go to court to fight it as unConstitutional, per the Founding Fathers' clearly expressed intent, in Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797.

I really and truly mean that: I *will* be looking for funding and file the freakin' papers myself. The only question would be if the case would keep going in the event of an arranged meeting between me and a bullet.

369:

Sorry, but there are lots of other questions, like who the next Supreme Court justices are. Pack those with sympathisers, and they will back a constitutional convention - that treaty isn't part of the constitution, after all. I am, er, interested to note that it has its own revisionists:

http://www.ministers-best-friend.com/Treaty-of-Tripoli-False-Claims-Atheists-Hide.html

370:

Yes you may forward that, and it doesn't need attribution. This is mostly the Talking Points Memo version of reality, anyway.

371:

Mother Jones magazine laid out his debts, though it only discusses the U.S. debts in detail.

372:

That is true but, in humans, there is a correlation between intelligence and fast reactions. I have no idea why.
No idea either, but this book asserts that the link is related to working memory speed (I think; haven't read it). (PDFs can be found, possibly illegal for the book and papers linked in this comment.)
"Clocking the mind: Mental chronometry and individual differences", Arthur R. Jensen, 2006, Elsevier Science, ISBN 9780080449395
Fry and Hale (1996) ... Structural equation modeling showed that the developmental changes in RT strongly mediated improvements in working memory (WM), which is the link connecting RT to fluid intelligence, or psychometric g, as estimated in this study by Raven’s standard progressive matrices (a nonverbal test of inductive and deductive reasoning ability).

http://store.elsevier.com/Clocking-the-Mind/Arthur-R_-Jensen/isbn-9780080449395/
It references two papers by Astrid F. Fry, Sandra Hale
Relationships among processing speed, working memory, and fluid intelligence in children (2000)
and
Processing Speed, Working Memory, and Fluid Intelligence: Evidence for a Developmental Cascade (1996)

Also, this windows-only tool might be interesting to some people. It generates csv files with results for simple and choice reaction time tests. Table 7 of the PDF is a table with results by percentile and age band.
Deary-Liewald Reaction time
(I had to manually make a directory with the dataset name.)

373:

Subjective, but not irrelevant. It depends on whether you are considering phenomena such as the life experience of a Counting Pine, or the difficulty with imprisoning a mathematician. Or what happens when you go into your BIOS and turn down the clock speed setting to the lowest figure it'll accept.

374:

I'm pretty well out of ideas then... twitter may have a random blocking bug, I suppose, but I have effectively zero evidence for one. Or I suppose it might be some ill-conceived anti-spam measure aimed at preventing bots signing up and hanging on the coat tails of popular accounts, but again that is no more than a guess.

375:

The liars in your scary link seem to forget a phrase, somewhere in the US constitution ( 1st Amendment? )regarding: "There shall be no Establishment of religion" ...
ANY religion, christian, or otherwise.

And, as usual, they can't or won't distinguish between Secularism & Atheism - quite deliberately, of course.

376:

Close but not quite. But there is a difference.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

377:

Your postings are sometimes interesting and though-provoking, but get extremely boring when you pretend that prejudices are Reality. "rampant male physical violence threats" = "I mean, we weren't threatened"?

No, that was real.

I stood there while an extremely aggressive male H.S.S shouted, spat, lifted his fists, shoved his face into a 1" gap where mine was, screamed in my ear and called me all kinds of names for...

15 or so minutes.


In fact, I turned my back to him while he did it.


~


This shit happens. I felt nothing but sadness and disdain at his display.

378:

I wasn't threatened, dear, because he was very drunk and I was considering a jab to his exposed wind-pipe and a sweep/lift that would have taken his height / weight advantage right into a nicely raised rock wall, just ready to do serious damage to his brain / neck.

So, like so many Others, I just stood there and said nothing while he blew his Big White Load All Over My Face.

379:

And, if you want a triptych:

This a male, straight, H.S.S, Caucasian who has (apparently) been spreading various lies / slanders / rumors about me for no other reason than, well: he's middle aged, sporty car, young girlfriend and who thinks I'm not worthy of his respect. Other, Other, Other, Witch, Witch, Witch. Enough that he thinks he can police / influence / aggressively attack people in public spaces. And has (apparently) spent no quite considerable time fermenting such things. I hadn't even noticed, better things to do.


He's assaulted me twice now. There won't be a third.

The issue is - dat privilege assumes a weaker target. He was about an inch away from dying last time.

Note: this is driven by compassion for his obvious delusions and a reticence to inflict damage. The irony is, of course, he assumes the opposite is true.


Thus the call. #Red Market is the conclusion, but I've no real desire to be locked down by a fucking delusional Ape whose financial records show he's been funded by someone wanting to grief me.

380:

#HorseRace2016

What was it worth? $75k, $100k? What, you wasted a cool $20mil on that little Jaunt?

Get Fucked.

#WildHunt2017


We'll see how the Wild Things Play.

We'll eat your fucking Livers and Minds.

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall YT, film, "Snow White and the Huntsmen", 2:33. (And yes, there's a joke there about Alt-White and Huntsmen, c.f. Orion).

381:

Agreed, but that makes it even worse, actually, doesn't it?

382:

There are laws & police forces.
DO something about it.
Submission is not the answer, in this case.

383:

Are you sure that it is sexist rather than just personal?

384:

In the martial arts it's maybe a 2X (sometime more) subjective speedup of perception (and memory) for a limited time, e.g. seconds. Similar for very fast competitive sports.

Could be very useful when sketching moving objects. Any hints on how to induce the effect? None of my art books mention it.

385:

Given that I've had perhaps three conversations, all very limited, with the Man - I strongly doubt it's personal. But, as ever: The Political is the Personal and all that.

Plus, the content of the screaming was extremely gender racial sexuality specific.

So it goes.

#382

Greg, for the love of your sanity: do you not understand that in this world, the Rule of Law and the Police and so on... are not always there to help? i.e. It's nice being a white cisgender male, but there are many many places out there where the Rule of Law likes to 'turn the blind eye' when it's not one of their own?

Sheesh.

This is 101 stuff.


p.s.

And no, dear reader: I didn't kill him. Although I saw the Nexus / embedded 'throat grab' move / escalated tensions and Social Theatre that lead to that reality.


(Not @ Greg bit, at [redacted] Gallery)

"Subtle"


Fuck off, you're fucking little poseurs compared to us.

#Red Market. Make it happen, you lost that little Causality Hack, and if you're playing Games, there always has to be penalties. I call erectile dysfunction as suitable, but you might want to go larger given the scale of your failure.

387:

...agreed, and we're talking fight-or-flight adrenalin surge, not just "a bit exciting"; even then, the effect can be marginal. I've been scared / excited plenty of times, only felt the significant effect a few times - and it went away very quickly.

(The rest of the time, your reactions are slightly faster, your senses are slightly sharper, your pulse is raised, your skin may whiten as the capillaries constrict to reduce any blood loss; there's a slightly metallic taste in your mouth, a lack of saliva, and butterflies in your stomach as the body redirects energies away from digestion and towards the gross motor muscles...)

It's not the same as "being in the zone" (flow state); that tends to happen when you aren't excited, and is better described as having much in common with a near-sleep state. As an artist, you've possibly experienced that plenty of times.

388:

Plus it has considerable health risks, and many people go straight into shock when they come down from it. I believe that adrelanin pens have been investigated for military use and found to be, er, counterproductive.

389:

Could be very useful when sketching moving objects. Any hints on how to induce the effect? None of my art books mention it.
Interesting question. Note that this effect can be/would be(/is?) weaponized. Much of the discussion that a search will find is combat-related. This is disturbing to me.

So, as EC and Martin say, full tachypsychia is demonstrably (if not reliably) induced by an epinephrine dump. There are side effects that suck, notably tachycardia. If you go down the list of side effects in the wikipedia article, you'll notice that some are not strictly necessary unless one needs to move at maximum physical speed. Note that since (most) people don't have much practice at this, and the square laws of Newtonian mechanics apply (e.g. friction doesn't change), increased physical speed can cause accidents, e.g. falling down, broken/pulled bones/ligaments/tendons/muscles. Also it has massively higher energy and oxygen demands. Traditional martial arts are in part about stances and motions which work regardless of speed, and about using speed sparingly. ("Focus")

Are you just interested in short-term perceptual speedup? I've tried a bunch of stuff over the past few decades that should not be generally inflicted on everyone here, and as Pigeon notes, strong stimulants can work. email addr? (Your's is not obvious.) (One of) mine is the obvious gmail address all lower case, space-to-dot (got it in the early gmail days). (If you're so inclined, key on keyserver.ubuntu.com, fingerprint=EBF3 8168 9781 C144 B7C1 191F 44BF 5548 5FBC FA77)

390:

I can confirm part of this. I have had proper time slowing down shit hitting fan moments twice when out climbing things.

On both occasions memories are very vivid & subjective time slowed but I don't think my actual reactions improved much. It feels more as though the level of detail increased resulting in recall taking longer.

On both occasions I was able to do impossible things for a few minutes, function for as long as necessary to get out of trouble and then spend significant amounts of time as a complete vegetable.

Not a lot of fun if the truth be told.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on December 3, 2016 4:41 PM.

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