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Theme, Fiction, and Empire Games

(Empire Games is officially published on Thursday in the UK; see previous blog entry for how/where to buy it.)

Whenever you tell someone that you've written a book, they almost inevitably have questions. And if they're a reader, usually the first words off their tongue are some variation on "what's it about?"

Any fictional narrative is a multi-layered structure, and "what's it about" is a question that speaks to one specific layer—the most abstract level, the numinous thing we call theme. Theme trumps genre as a high-level construct; it's all about the intent behind the work, insofar as a work of fiction is an attempt at communication. When you ask what the theme of a story is, you're asking for a synopsis stripped of all context. If your theme is "coming of age" you can write that story as romance, as SF, as horror—it transcends and overlaps with all these fields. So: what is the theme of Empire Games: or, more broadly, what is the Empire Games trilogy talking about?

In picking up the setting of the Merchant Princes series for a new season, I tackled a multiverse depicting a number of parallel universes that differ from our own. Let's strip out the characters, whose actions define the moral theory of the story, and look at what the setting—the frame around the picture—is trying to say. (Because settings provide context, and thereby dictate the kinds of story you can tell.)

Time line one glows in the dark. No change here; indeed, the only function it serves in this trilogy is as a horrible cautionary tale about how things can go wrong when an essentially pre-modern mind-set tries to grapple with the complexity of a modern world-order. Game over.

Time line two, the alternative United States of America in the 2020 that emerged from the first series, is a time line in which the USA received a really serious blow—president assassinated, and a two-for-the-price-of-one terrorist nuking— followed by an Outside Context Problem (multiverse travel) ... and yet, despite a level of police state bullshit as yet unexperienced in our world, sanity has gradually begun to reassert itself. There's an essentially rational, competent president in the White House—that time line's equivalent of Obama, having emerged one or two election cycles later than in our own history—whose first reaction to a new contact scenario is not to start a nuclear war but to initiate a covert diplomatic process. The wildest excesses of the US Deep State have focussed on carbon exploitation from parallel time lines, rather than using the tech to smuggle nukes into timeline two's Moscow. The US Constitution is still in force and there are still elections and there's still a notion of freedom of speech, even if everyone submits to a level of intrusive monitoring that would be anathema today ... but the police state trappings aren't there just because the author wanted a dystopia ruled by mustache-twirling black-hatted villains. An argument can be made that it's a pragmatic necessity, because the threat is not simply random fanatics with AR-15s or truck bombs who you can detect before they run wild: it's a postulated state-level actor with world-walkers and nuclear weapons—a demonstrated nuclear threat that is not amenable to deterrence because deterrence theory relies on the threat of predictable retalliation, and you can't deter the unknown.

In other words, the background for time line two depicts the normalization of fear (with an essentially more rational justification than the paranoia about terrorism in our universe—you're more likely to be struck by lightning twice in the USA today than you are to be killed by islamic terrorists), and an illustration of how people react to it. If the worst you have to worry about is a level of domestic surveillance equivalent to the GDR with internet access, then ... well, things could be worse.

(In book 2, "Dark State", we'll get a glimpse of how much worse they could be.)

Time line three is yet more complex; a descendant of the New British Empire depicted in the first series, as it evolved following the revolution of 2003. This, recall, is a universe where the revolutionary ideologies spawned by the Enlightenment were suppressed ruthlessly—no US War of Independence, no French revolution, no Russian revolution, no collapse of the Ancien Régime and the rule of monarchism, no birth of modernity ... until our protagonist Miriam inadvertently dumped a fortune in the lap of the quartermaster of an underground political party descended from the radical/puritan ethos of the Levelers and Diggers, right in the middle of a long-brewing fiscal crisis following a wartime defeat.

Seventeen years later ... well, it's a very young democracy, taking its first unstable steps. It's radical, too; in a time line dominated by monarchies, the New American Commonwealth is as revolutionary as Lenin and Trotsky were in our own history (and as feared). Their democracy hasn't been around long enough to become a habit or a tradition. They make mistakes, they experiment, they're unsophisticated and technologically well behind the United States of time line two, but they're trying (and sometimes failing) to do better in the face of existential threats at least as deadly as those facing the USA.

So the background for time line three depicts hopes for a better future and fears of regression into an authoritarian past: it's about the possibility of progress in a hitherto-static universe, in the face of uncertainty and paranoia about contact with another nuclear-armed superpower version of North America.

(Finally, there's time line four (the dome in the forest). But that's a card I intend to keep close to my chest until Dark State is published in January 2018.)

Now, if you're not used to dissecting works of fiction thematically, I may have mislead you into thinking it's just a fancy word for background. But that's not the case: I've been chewing on the scenery because if I say too much about how the theme is illustrated via the characters in the story, it'll act as a huge spoiler for the entire trilogy. (And it's too early for series-level spoilers!) But if you've already read Empire Games (the novel), you might want to ask yourself just what function Kurt (and his background) serves in the context of time line two, or what aspects of circa-2020 US culture Rita's ethnicity and sexuality shine a spotlight on ... and how these things feed into the themes I'm exploring (and how they contrast with the real non-fiction world we experience).



I'm still trying to figure out what Kurt's function is, within the context of his timeline.

Rita's an interesting case -- her timeline seems to be behind our in terms of social progress by at least 15 years. I'm guessing there was a big conservative reaction to the nuking of DC. Especially considering the prominence of various religious people (it must have really boosted the kooks if Scientology has influence). I am curious to see how she would be viewed in the Commonwealth, which seems like it might be more backward in some regards -- though possibly less concerned about her skintone since it is a multi-ethnic empire.


you might want to ask yourself just what function Kurt (and his background) serves in the context of time line two, or what aspects of circa-2020 US culture Rita's ethnicity and sexuality shine a spotlight on ... and how these things feed into the themes I'm exploring (and how they contrast with the real non-fiction world we experience).

And what is the recommended reading in how to do that? Is this a good guide in dissecting novels like you are talking about?

You've mentioned this kind of break down/professional read before, both in talking how you wrote the early Laundry books (and even provided a story map of a Bond movie) and in talks, noting that a reader should identify what they like about the book and find more that hits those notes rather than the broader genre matches. What is a good intro to doing that type of critical reading?


I did read Empire Games on US release day and quite enjoyed it btw. You were correct about it not being as paranoia inducing as I feared. Looking forward to the next


Whenever you tell someone that you've written a book, they almost inevitably have questions. "what's it about" is a question that speaks to one specific layer

You almost seem resentful of being asked this specific question all the time. What would you prefer people asked?


the real non-fiction world we experience I might dispute that, & repeat the call for the scriptwriters for "The 21st Century" to be sacked right now, & someone saner put in charge .....


I'm enjoying the book (half way through it) but I think your surveillance in 2020 is nearly already here. Police cars in many states already have 8 or 9 cameras on them recording the number plates as you pass them. If you're a person of interest or the car is registered stolen then the cops are alerted and give chase. All these data at the moment sits (for months, its rarely erased although some lawmakers are trying to change that) on private databases outside of federal control. It wouldn't take much to tie a lot of them together and bring a whole new level of surveillance.


I think your surveillance in 2020 is nearly already here.

Novel was written in 2013; editing took up much of the time since then. It's no surprise that things have moved on a bit! Incidentally, going back 2-3 years? All the buses in Edinburgh have 4-8 CCTV cameras recording the whole time they're in service. (And a screen up front to show the passengers their own faces — it's a deterrent against assaults on bus drivers).

What's new since then is really the whole Big Data analytics movement, which makes the data from the pervasive cameras useful.


As I've said many, many times, including in this venue, this is not the Real 21st Century, I want the real one back now, thankyouveddymuch.

Actually, I said back in the fall that we'd all be translated into an (un)reality tv show. I mean, never in my wildest fantasies would I dream that the Paper of Record (the NYT), the WaPo, and USA Today call the President of the US a liar on the front pages....



All I want is the equivalent of the back cover, or the inside front page. At the BSFS meeting this month, I saw a book up for the Compton-Crook award that was a publisher's preview, with neither of those... but it had quotes from varying sources saying "this is a great book!!!". My reaction to that is I have no reason to even pick it up, there's enough other stuff I don't have the time to read.

Would you prefer them ask "where do you get these ideas?"



I've not yet read the new book yet and I of course don't know what you have planned later but are you sure "Outside Context Problem" is the term you want?

"An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop."

I was under the impression that the US government had survived and was thriving on the glut of resources from worldwalking.

Less like a ship full of people with guns turning up on your shore and more like finding the instructions for how to build boats.


... call the President of the US a liar on the front pages.... And it's going to get worse. Trumpolini with Spicer will be in open "warfare" ... then what in a supposedly-democratic "open" society? Or will they try the Erdogan playbook? This the sort of polarisation that can lead to civil conflicts

Breaking news, US EPA Gagged, with funding in lockdown. I expect complete closure (in effect) as soon as they can rig it.


are you sure "Outside Context Problem" is the term you want?


OCPs are survivable ... but not often, and what comes afterwards doesn't resemble what was there first. And by the end of "Invisible Sun" the OCP will be rather clear ..


To do with the dome in the forest, I presume?


Quick note on this line

an underground political party descended from the radical/puritan ethos of the Levelers and Diggers

Interesting enough the Patriots/Founding Fathers were very much from this same strand of thought and loved John Lilburne's writings. One of the key divergences here must be Franklin repudiating the Leveller thought he previously supported per mentions about his role in creating the New British Empire.


Ssshhhhh! :)

...Mind you it does strike me that the dome builders were somewhat irresponsible in leaving a portal with only one door rather than an airlock, and a rather fragile door at that, and no backup system in case the door fails - even though something still seems to be live in there connected with the door. Even if it wasn't originally supposed to have vacuum on the other side of it, something you can put through with an axe is no security, and the surrounding dome doesn't necessarily compensate.


Hint: when the dome's builders left the door, it wasn't connected to vacuum — it led to just another parallel Earth.

Things went very wrong there ...

17: might want to ask yourself just what function Kurt (and his background) serves in the context of time line two...
Been asking myself that question since he showed up.

In re the dome: I dunno what has more interesting implications - that the dome builders could make an apparently-permanent opening into a different timeline, or how things went so massively wrong on the other side of the door. But either way, interesting. Let me know if you want a beta reader. :-)


Given what you've stated about the multiverse there (and I can't remember which parts were public and not public, so I'm not going to mention details), I find that ... really worrisome.

Worrisome as in what the US did to the other timeline would be considered so relatively insignificant as to not be worth mentioning...


The characters (and the institutions) aware of the engineered black hole do not seem to really grasp the implications. There's someone/somethong out there with technology so far ahead of ours that we cannot even begin to see the path to there from here. And either they are essentially willing to destroy a planet on a whim, or they were scared enough of something on said planet that removing it from the universe was felt to be the correct response.

Out of context problem is right.


Somethong... sigh


I think there's a clear theme here that weapons made for prior wars stick around, and sometimes cause problems. The Wolf Orchestra, portable demolition nukes, Nixon's northwoods nuke, the NBE's heir, World-Walkers including lost heirs, the implication that the world walkers themselves are lost heirs, etc.


Oh, I thought of that as soon as I read it :) Hence thinking you'd still want something a bit more substantial for ordinary security reasons. You don't generally build a stronghold that it takes a nuke to crack open and give it a back door that can be put through with an axe (which is what it amounts to if the technology is mature enough to create permanent portals). Even if there's another fortress on the other side you'd still want the portal to be a strong point to avoid an internal vulnerability; to be sure some real fortress builders haven't heeded that point, but that then brings us back to the contradiction between sophistication and thoughtlessness...

In fact everything I can think of to explain it leads to a contradiction, but I won't ask for an official explanation because I probably don't want to know yet :)

Meanwhile, the thought of the jet of air emerging out of nothing on the other side makes me wonder how conservation of momentum works out when you are crossing between universes. Does it not work, and if so can you build a perpetual motion machine or other impossible gadget? Or if it does work, does that mean that the two universes must be in some sense at least the same universe, and if so what is that sense and how else does it constrain them? What do the various parallel universe ideas of real physics say on such matters, or is the fictional scenario a sufficiently loose fit with real physics that at this stage you can still make up the answers?


You don't generally build a stronghold that it takes a nuke to crack open and give it a back door that can be put through with an axe
A classic reason to despise Star Wars.


This the sort of polarisation that can lead to civil conflicts You noticed, good. I've been becoming increasingly worried, though not enough to buy guns. (Quaker mother and still of that ethical mindset.) I am heartened actually about the newfound feistiness in parts of the US press. The use of the word "lie" is a good example. (Thanks whitroth at 7 ) (Even or maybe especially when it appears in a revision. newsdiffs: Meeting With Top Lawmakers, Trump Repeats an Election Lie) And the press has strong protection in the US constitution. (The exceptions are infrequent.)


Does it not work, and if so can you build a perpetual motion machine or other impossible gadget? Cheap oil is a start.


Going to pick up my copy in about 15mins...

The door to nowhere struck me originally as the same sort of thing as the protected-area backed locations from earlier in the story especially if there's a way to lock out world walking from an area (possibly by keeping a gate open). In that case you could have paired fortresses where the gate staying open keeps world-walkers from popping in from neighbouring timelines. If it's common enough then you get the "what if earth(n) disappears as another unknown-unknown".

Cue up one half of your fortress getting it's connected planet smacked by something on the scale of Ceres and suddenly you don't have co-locality and everything goes to hell.


Run the exhaust back across the timeline.


Your working definition of "theme" looks to be quite similar to mine, and in particular it avoids what I think is an error, equating theme with "thesis." (Of course a story of drama can have a thesis, but it doesn't have to, and it may be better if it doesn't.) But looking at where you go from there, I'm not getting what you think the theme is. I see your characterizations of the different timelines, but I'm not seeing in what sense each of them derives from setting the same parameter to a different value. In fact I don't feel able to say what that parameter is. Do you have a formal or abstract definition, as well as a series of examples?


Rumsfeld as rational POTUS? Perhaps a better alternative than the current one; a known-known versus a known-unknown. Or is the new guy (who shall not be named) an unknown-unknown? What is interesting about the the first and second series is that both protagonists have unknown-knowns. The suffix "-known", in this case, is a latent potential to change timelines, the prefix"-" transforming from unknown to known. But, the creator(s) of this unknown-known, is till unknown. Would this be a known-unknown-known-unknown?


I'm inclined to think that the dome WAS the airlock.


Worth pointing out that the WSJ, that notorious Democratic rag, is also calling the newly-elected GOP president a liar.

This new administration, just a few days in and already building consensus.


On the morning BBC news radio programme ( "Today" ) there was a report of senior Repubs worrying abut Trumpolini's declared attempts to remove all illegal immigrants ( As opposed to just those with criminal convictions ) to the US. I then heard the piece about investment ( which of course will also be pork-barrel ) much needed in US' crumbling infrastructure, which is a good thing.


I then thought: Franz von Papen Autobahnen


The New British crown in exile plotting their return. The Wolf Orchestra persisting unto the second and third generation, long after the state that spawned it went out of business. The Clan world walkers, carriers of engineered cellular trans-temporal devices, ignorant descendants of a lost technological civilisation.

Yes, there's a theme here. Shit abides.


Rumsfeld as rational POTUS?

You got the wrong end of the stick.

The succession goes something like:

2000-2003: GWB (Assassinated) mid-2003: Dick Cheney (Dies of a heart attack while dealing with crisis; meanwhile, appointed Rumsfeld to VPOTUS, as with Gerald Ford) mid-2003-2004; re-elected 2004-2008: Donald Rumsfeld (nukes Gruinmarkt) 2008-2016: unspecified, but USA still gripped by post-nuking hysteria, so a hawk 2016-2020: Once a decade has passed since 2003, memory of the trauma subsides and someone temperamentally closer to the Barack Obama end of the spectrum gets elected (in this instance, a female Democrat not-Clinton: HRC's fate is unspecified but she was one of the Senators for New York State in 2003 when the Capitol was nuked (at the same time as the White House), so ...)


On the subject of the Wolf Orchestra, there's a bunch of stuff David Hartwell made me take out of EMPIRE GAMES (the novel), but ... secret ideologies/religious creeds can be passed down families for many generations. Your classic example is the Marranos in Spain and elsewhere: after the Christian conquest, Jews were expelled or forcibly converted, but many continued to practice Judaism in secret (at risk of discovery, torture, and execution by the inquisition). This persisted for centuries.

The Stasi foreign intelligence service was the external arm of an ideological state that practiced a peculiarly Lutheran variant of Leninism. Unlike their western rivals, the Communist bloc had a long-term ideologically-determined map of the future (not unlike the fundamentalist dominionist churches whose members believe in working to bring about the return of Christ); they could in principle lay generational plans. Finally, they were not idiots and would doubtless be aware of the sociological implications of the Marranos.

One of the perpetual problems for an intelligence agent on foreign soil is, if they gain official access to secret intelligence, then they will be on the radar of the counter-espionage agencies of the target nation. Which means their cover story will be scrutinized. But the United States in the 20th century had a historic weakness insofar as it was expected that foreigners would arrive, assimilate, and become part of the "melting pot" (at least if they were white-skinned European types who spoke English). And they can publicly admit to their previous affiliation for generations without much in the way of criticism — who today holds witch-hunts for Irish-Americans suspected of spying for the Irish Republic, or of Swedish-Americans in Minnesota, or German-Americans?

So the conceit in the back story of "Empire Games" is that the Stasi spent quite a lot of effort implanting ideologically loyal agents, whose job was to abide in place, start families, and raise children with (a) waterproof, perfect cover identities as natural-born US citizens, and (b) training from birth to suit them to a career in the CIA, NSA, or government, and (c) for those assessed to be of the right temperament, initiation into the secret family tradition ...

In December 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, the Stasi hastily destroyed and shredded their files, starting with the most secret of all. What were those crown jewels that they most thoroughly destroyed? Well, if they did have sleeper rings in place on US soil, that would be right up there (along with Eric Honnecker's drunken pillow talk and Leonid Brezhnev's passion for whatever the hell the General Secretary of the CPUSSR could blackmailed over).

And in the universe of "Empire Games" in 2020, the last loyal operatives of the Stasi — an organization abolished in 1989 — have hit the jackpot, in the shape of a perfectly placed mole inside a hyper-secret espionage ring reporting direct to POTUS. Except that because the Wolf Orchestra has been cut loose from authority, the person playing the keyboard is its local ringmaster, i.e. Kurt, and all Kurt wants is a quiet life for his favorite grand-daughter!



I should add: the Stasi aren't the only folks who've infiltrated DHS. Again, I was made to dial this back a little bit — one of these factions is famously litigious — but: the Church of Latter-Day Saints are naturals for US intel services (they're sober, they learn foreign languages, they're generally conservative and have a public service ethos). The Church of Scientology actively tried to infiltrate the FBI and Secret Service in the early 1970s, and if they weren't considered an active security threat by most western intel agencies they'd be a natural fit, just like the Mormons; in the universe of "Empire Games" they're considered ideologically acceptable by Homeland Security, especially for paratime work. (There's probably been some new revelation about where Xenu really came from, elsewhere in paratime.)

I've already discussed the East German Stasi ...

And finally, there's the ever-present spectre of the most devious, menacing, infiltrating organization of all: the Girl Scouts of America! Because if you're a foreign intelligence agency raising families of sleepers on US soil and you want to socialize the kids with each other and teach them useful tradecraft, the Scouts are kinda reactionary and christianist but the GSA are a whole lot less so and cover a bunch of the same ground. And if you're in the right part of the world, your kids also rub shoulders with the children of people who work in Crypto City or the Pentagon, which may come in useful later in life. (And now you can go back and ask yourself what Rita and Angie were really doing at that summer camp in Maryland, and what Rita's geocaching hobby is all about ...)


Finally: you will note that the central and sympathetically-portrayed protagonist of "Empire Games" is gradually revealed by the end of the book to be a half-Pakistani communist lesbian double-agent, and the people she's working for include some utter shitstains. Nothing political to see here, move along now.


The only problem I have with Empire Games is that it's so tightly coupled together with the other two books in the trilogy that the wait is an absolute bear. This will only be a problem up until the third novel is out but it's a bit taxing in the meantime. Like walking out of the theatrical Lord of the Rings and realizing it's going to be another two sodding years until you can finally get the end of the story. It would be less of a problem if the story wasn't so good. #whine-entitlement-whine


The real 21st century?

I'm pretty sure that right now a time traveler's digging a crushed butterfly from the mud on his boot sole, horror dawning on his face. 12:12 PM - 20 Jan 2017


While I am heartened at the media calling liars liars, the disheartening thing is that this is more due to Trump's rudeness and the easy debunkability of the lies rather than the principle. He's declared war on the media and started flinging poo so they're picking it up and flinging it right back.

When I think about what it was like living through the run-up to Gulf War II there were lies flying left and right and the media just dutifully copied them down and repeated them. We have to invade before the summer or else our boots will melt and our choppers won't fly? Well Christ, saw we win by spring, are we going to be gone by the summer? No occupation? Will we have better kit then? It'd be like Hitler arguing we have to invade Russia before the winter sets in, we don't have winter uniforms! And presumably the garrison troops are impervious to cold?

There's also the unwarranted generosity of calling the basis for the war an "intelligence failure." No. An intelligence failure is when parties operating in good faith make an honest mistake with the information at hand. Bush-Cheney salted the intel stream with customized bullshit that wasn't true in order to obtain justification for the decisions they'd already made. that's lying, fabrication, treason, and by extension mass murder. It's not an oopsie.

But I can understand the dynamics we're faced with. News departments are expected to be profit centers and if they don't gain access they can't report. And deep, serious investigative reporting is hard. Talking head panels are easier. And it's been made abundantly clear the winner is not the side the truth is on but the one with the bigger wallet. News organizations that piss off the wrong people get money-bombed. Gawker doesn't get much sympathy because people think they're icky but hell, even if they're no better than pedophiles, if you don't get concerned about billionaires with vendettas killing news organizations or the cops doing an extra-judicial killing of someone accused of being a pedophile because hey, he's icky, you're missing the point about due process. Someone brown enough to be accused of being a terrorist could be next, or someone white enough to pass for royalty could still be accused of being a sympathizer. Gone.

In absolute terms I find Erdogan scarier than Trump because he's been in power longer and has gone further down the fascist road but then the gibbering voice in the back of my head says "Hey, give him time! He's just getting started."


Did Hartwell have the material removed from Empire Games for pacing?


These days, the East (and in some measure Southeast) Asian populations seem to be fairly successful at assimilating, and fairly acceptable at doing so.


Partly for pacing ... but partly because before "The Americans" aired and the whole Trump/Putin fiasco, the received wisdom was "spy thrillers are old-fashioned and unsexy".

What goes around, comes around: I'm pretty sure that Empire Games has aged into relevancy since I originally planned it in 2012/2013 to a background of Snowden, WikiLeaks (before they were rooted by the FSB), and post-Iraq paranoia.


Charlie wrote: "...someone temperamentally closer to the Barack Obama end of the spectrum gets elected (in this instance, a female Democrat not-Clinton:"

May I nominate my personal candidate? My Congresswoman from Chicago, Jan Schakowsky.

Ok, ok, so she's closer in temperament to Bernie....



Gregory writes: "While I am heartened at the media calling liars liars, the disheartening thing is that this is more due to Trump's rudeness and the easy debunkability of the lies rather than the principle."

Trouble is that the big difference between Trumpolini and the GOP is that since Nixon, they've had their std. euphemisms to cover what they really mean, which are decoded by "regular" GOP adherents, which he says the same thing... without euphemisms.

I note that 1984 just hit the top of the bestseller list, thanks to Kellyanne....



Well, I may break down and buy Empire Games for my nook. It still frosts my shorts that the electronic edition costs about a quarter more than the mass market paperback will.

And I adore publishers claiming it costs so much more to produce....



If you want to be timely and subversive, make Madam President be Tammy Duckworth. Whose probably on track to run in 2020, and being a Chicago moderate liberal whose in Obama's old seat, has a fair shot of getting some real steam. She's also a non-white vet who was wounded in Iraq (at such a point of divergence you can mess with it), making her a very strong candidate. Mentioning her legs is a good way to imply its her without stating.

Also re: Mormons, they're huge in the secret service as well as the military offices interacting with the president, as they easily pass the background checks, even though often the Mormons who enter military service at 18 end up leaving the faith (cause you're suppose to go on mission at 19, and can't in the service).

The US Constitution is still in force
a level of domestic surveillance equivalent to the GDR with internet access

Charlie, I say this with the utmost respect, and you've clearly done a level of research on my own domestic institutions that puts most of my countrymen to shame, but...

These two statements cannot both be true at the same time in anything but the most legally formalistic way.


If you want to be timely and subversive, make Madam President be Tammy Duckworth.

Second. She lost her legs flying a UH-60 when her side of the bird took an RPG.

My favorite story from her -- that is, told by her -- concerns her workout shirt that her husband keeps trying to throw out and she keeps wearing. It's say "Lucky for me he's an ass man." cite.

This was a shitshow of an election, but we put her in the Senate, so there's one ray of light there.


Ah yes, that'll teach me to comment before finishing the story. I do like imagining a madam prez ... without the Kissinger fetish for "Constructive Ambiguity"

So, +1 on whitroth & Eric's Olson's suggestion of Tammy Duckworth.


I like the story that last year during the Democrat's sit-in in the House, the Republicans sent security to confiscate their phones so they couldn't live-stream from the House floor—Duckworth supposedly hid her phone in one of her prosthetics.

Oh, and wrt: closer to the Barack Obama end of the spectrum gets elected

I initially misread that as "and on the spectrum", and thought Charlie meant a President with mild Asperger's. Could be interesting.


Unfortunately... there was a Max Clelland of Georgia (the US state), who lost both legs and an arm in 'Nam, in Congress in '04, And the GOP attacked him as "not patriotic enough", and he was defeated for reelection. I kid you not.

Don't forget Trumpolini mocked a Gold Star family, and got away without ever apologizing.



I'm horribly reminded of the now-long dead Herr Dr R H Herz - who was already technically "retired" when I first went to work in research ... whom I saw once in full formals, with his Kaiser's War medals in an ancient tailcoat. Patriotic German who fought for his Emperor & who was forced to flee to England in '33 .... Merely mocking a "Gold Star" family is nothing, if the propaganda really gets going.

Shit, this stuff scares me. I was born in its shadow & I've worked with people with tattoos on their wrists or who were sole survivors of their families - "what goes around comes around" can be deeply unpleasant.


Fritz Haber, father of gas warfare as well as artificial fertilizer, was ethnically Jewish, but converted and was a very Patriotic German. Enough that he seemed unmoved when his wife killed herself over the use of chemical weapons.

Spent the 1920s trying to figure out how to pay of war debts via chemistry, everything from new industrial chemicals to extracting gold from ocean water. Including a pesticide.

He was forced to flee as well in 1933, but died soon after of a broken heart. He took the children of his second wife with him. The older children of his first wife were to flee later. His extended family was not so lucky, dying from a re-formulation of Haber's pesticide.

The big thing is whether Trump can make it seem like his policies work. I honestly think we're due for a recession, as well as several bubbles popping. Trumpism requires an appearance of success. But also its too concentrated on Trump. He's already having problems because people criticize him. Trump has a hole in his heart he hoped being President would fulfill. It's not. Trump is quickly realizing being a candidate is fun but running a government is not.


I've worked with people with tattoos on their wrists or who were sole survivors of their families

Now that we're losing the last of the Survivors, I occasionally point out to others that those "Old folks with numbers on their arms", now in their 80s or so, were children when they got them. I've met a few and worry that once they're gone it'll be hard for younger generations to really understand what happened and to never let it happen again.

Anyhow, On the Propriety of Punching Nazis I'm with Woody Allen, Bricks and Baseball bats are the way to deal with them.


It occurred to me the other day that maybe Hollywood isn't helping matters. Instead of showing how they're bad because they're Nazis, they make them Nazis to show they're bad. They don't usually actually do anything particularly bad except be on the other side, they just do silly walks and shout and scream in German accents. And they always get stomped. It makes me wonder to what extent the cinematic shorthand is displacing reality for some people and contributing to their losing sight of the reality that gave rise to it.


JamesPadraicR wrote: I'm with Woody Allen, Bricks and Baseball bats are the way to deal with them.

What do you think happens to women and minorities when it is considered acceptable to use bricks and baseball bats on political opponents?

Ken at PopeHat makes this point better than I can


A film: "Nuremberg" Well-worth a watch - indicating the mind-set of demonising your opponents ( "All muslims" under Trumpolini f'rinstance ... ) The difference may be that at least half of the US will try to oppose Trumpolini, except that he already has the levers of power under his hands ....


First off, I'm not talking about 'Political Opponents', I'm talking about people who think I should be murdered for being a Jew. We had a rather Big War to kill these Nazis, and people are whining about some asshole getting punched in the face.

Second, WRT "What do you think happens to women and minorities", you think they aren't already getting shit from these people? It's been happening.

Third, It's Woody Allen, a comedian. GTFU.

Warren Ellis on Whether Nazis Should be Punched in the Face, or Not.


And if you don't know why that asshole was punched, Google Whitefish Montana March or Richard Spencer Hail Trump.


Hugh, I suggest you read "Beating the Fascists" by Sean Birchall (Freedom Press). Birchall explains how the National Front(English Nazi's) were forced to stop their Street based campaign of intimidation and resort to an Electoral strategy where the legitimate parties destroyed them.How was this done? Not by pleading with them, not by non-violent demos but by overt superior street violence. This was carried out by an alliance of the Far left and anarchists my conclusion is, to quote Peter Gelderloos,- Non Violence does't work. Incidentally a lot of the book also covers routine and boring Far left internal factionalism.


Okay, I apologize for the last bit in Third. This sort of thing pisses me off, can you tell?


Sorry, last thing. Honest. Then I'm done.

Personally I abhor violence, but I'm not a pacifist. Sometimes asses need to be kicked, and if someone hits me I'll hit back. Though first I'll work to see that the situation doesn't get that far.


I am sorry, but, the name calling annoys me. Underestimating and even denigrating Donald Trump has proven to be an unfailingly losing strategy so far. Over a dozen republican presidential hopefuls and Hillary Clinton have already made that very mistake and paid for it, publicly and in spades.

Why keep it up!? Does The Donald need more help?

Seemingly smart people still thinks Trump is totally erratic, undisciplined and always will raise to an insult, and maybe he is some kind of mass media idiot savant - and yet, odds are against: When all those stories were going around about how chaotic, badly managed and disorganised his entire campaign was, Trump kept mum, allowing the inbuilt Hubris of the elitist Clinton Campaign to take hold and do its corrosive work.

Now we know that while this bruhaha went on Jared Kushner was running a high tech operation out of Austin that focused on how to get the maximum bang out of Trump’s smaller war-chest in Electoral College terms.

Disorganised? Meh, Sounds more like a Plot!

So, Trumps erratic behaviour is maybe not so erratic after all. While the media and bloggers are responding like cats to a laser pointer over every stupid Trump Tweet, other things are happening behind the noise from the outrage and flim-flam, unreported. Serious things, like laws and stuff.

I think, this knack Trump has of cloaking himself, the hiding of his true intentions and perhaps even his real personality makes Donald Trump a much more smarter, tougher, and maybe a much more dangerous person, than Richard Nixon was.

I am getting a very bad vibe from all of this. The only consolation so far is Hillary would have started a war with Russia.


Or, in an earlier generation: Battle of Cable Street & Battle of Ridley Road. # NO PASARAN


I am getting a very bad vibe from all of this. Yes - Trumpolini made all sorts of "impossible" promises - which turn out to be true. Where have we heard that before? "My Struggle", I think.


There's a huge difference between campaign and governing.

For a while Trump can use Obama et al. as an excuse. But there are limits.

More importantly per several different twitter leak accounts, it sounds like victory is boring for Trump, as he likes campaigning, not 30 meetings a day on urgent problems.


You write: "It occurred to me the other day that maybe Hollywood isn't helping matters. Instead of showing how they're bad because they're Nazis, they make them Nazis to show they're bad. "

Yes. The relevant aphorism is, of course, show, don't tell. Perfect example: Darth Maul is BAD, BAD!!!!!... yet he does nothing. Meanwhile, when you first meet Darth Vader....



By the way, Charlie, Paul Krugman, in his blog in the NYT today, invoked you, and referred to CASE NIGHTMARE ORANGE (with a link to the laundryfiles' page on CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN).



Re: '... this knack Trump has of cloaking himself,...'

My money is on: DT's being very well managed/choreographed by his 'family'. Will continue to think this until DT is heard to make an extemporaneous policy speech of more than 140 letters/60 seconds that is articulate, makes sense, and comes to some cogent, logical conclusion that answers a question vs. retorting with same old re-hashed, repeated slogan.


Andy and JamesPadraicR, OK you've established that you're not just making flip remarks and you've given this serious thought. I'll try to do the same.

Are you prepared to use violence against women? They're going to be out in the streets too, and not all are going to be on your side.

Are you prepared to keep going when it escalates? I'm stereotyping, but you're proposing actual, physical not metaphorical battle between gun control advocates and NRA members. When progressives with rocks and bats start getting shot in large numbers, are you going to take up firearms?

And James, no apology necessary. I didn't know about your personal circumstances.


Hugh Whilst I live in an unarmed society I understand your problem with the NRA and would reply that armed self defence is justified, if Women take up arms against me then they take there chances and will be hurt.The real left, not the left of centre social democrats, but Anarchists, Marxists and similar groups throughout history have utilised violent self defence, this may not be successful e.g. Spain,but peaceful protest in the face of violence is a route to failure. The peasant willingness to resort to violence(often referred to as pitchforks and torches)was what served to moderate feudal oppression, working class violence resulted in social gains European rulers were aware of this and have only recently forgotten, US rulers have either forgotten or never knew. I submit that one of the major problems with the current ruling classes is Historical Illiteracy. The UK has a reputation as being peaceful, this is an historical travesty as Greg and others will know. The militia and yeoman cavalry were called out to suppress class based rioting in nearly every year of Victoria's reign.


We just had "Australia Day", where we celebrate the official start of the genocide against the first nations. For reasons that I trust are obvious this is contentious and there are protests as well as alternative festivals.

Are you prepared to keep going when it escalates?

I am more interested and experienced in defusing and diverting. But I've been subjected to my share of violence both from civilians and the state, thanks. I haven't stopped pointing my views forward. I'm also not completely stupid wrt online comments.

One thing in NSW/Australia is cops being more willing to attack the white portion of the population. They put a nice white girl from a top-tier university in hospital yesterday with broken ribs, for example. She was near a flag-burning attempt (not a participant, just in the way when the cops rushed in). One arrest, and now their PR is emphasising the police officers were jostled during the fracas they created. Worth noting also that the arrest was of a first nations man. Of course it was.

I'm less interested in the semi-ritualised (at least in anglonesia) nazi/fascist vs antifa fights, and more inclined to attend protests where there's been threats against people I support. Partly because I'm often there anyway as a supporter, but partly because I'd rather someone like me got attacked than, say, one of the "Grandmothers Against Removals" (Australia is in the midst of creating another stolen generation and some people aren't happy about that).


Go read Gandhi. Or look at Standing Rock. Right now, strict non-violence is more effective than a shooting insurrection. Circulating the true videos about what happens when people attack non-violent protestors is important too. At this point, I wouldn't have anything to do with destructive anarchists.

The US military has had decades of dealing with armed insurrections, and while it doesn't know how to win them, it knows how to make wealthy industrialists that much richer both by supplying the arms and extorting the captive population to pay for them.

Non-violence, on the other hand, is bad optics for the shooters, which is why it's so important to keep circulating those videos out of Standing Rock. An unarmed woman who has her arm shot off by a cop using a grenade launcher is not a success for the cops.

If you're in the US, I'd make a point of getting to know as many NRA members as you can. The point is to make it that much harder for them to want to raise a gun against you, when you make a perfectly reasonable and non-violent protest. Getting to know the police as a "upstanding citizen" is a good strategy too.


Hmmm. Reading CIA memoirs, I didn't get a very good impression of Mormons as spooks, although it was a limited sample. The problem they had was that they'd spent their entire lives with other Mormons. Yes, they'd been missionaries, but they hadn't actually lived with non-Mormons. As HUMINT resources therefore, they were sharply limited, simply because they weren't comfortable dealing with strange people who didn't share their belief system.

That said, I agree that the intelligence community seems to get a lot of reactionaries and conspiracy theorists. It's not surprising, I suppose. However, it may cause it's own problems. For example:


Final part of the triptych and mordant thought for the day. Gene Sharp's ideas sure didn't work in the Arab Spring. Wonder if they'll work in the US?


20th Century Thinking.

Look into Martin Shkreli - yes, he's an asshole, but actually a lot less worse than 90% of the industry. Martin Shkreli Just Went to War Against the Pharmaceutical Industry Fortune, 24th Jan 2017

The Website: Pharma Skeletons

So, derp: turns out the asshole was actually making a point. Which anyone turned on knew 8+ months ago.

Want to know just how fucking out of date you are?

Any of you know what was?

Whelp, too fucking bad:

Website That Tracked Fake Science Journals Has Suddenly Vanishedlink text IFL Science! Recent. Chosen because it has a feature on ancient Jade Dildos / Butt Plugs in the leads.

More serious: Why did Beall’s List of potential predatory publishers go dark? Reaction Watch, 17th Jan 2017




No fucking clue.


The US military has had decades of dealing with armed insurrections, and while it doesn't know how to win them, it knows how to make wealthy industrialists that much richer both by supplying the arms and extorting the captive population to pay for them.

Absolute bullshit. Look @ Iraq / Afghanistan.

How many fucking billions were spent attempting to install infrastructure / training / networks and so on? Oh, I don't know, about fucking $3 trillion's worth.


The only ones who made money in Afgan were the fucking drug dealers. Ahmed Wali Karzai, there's a fucking hint.

Oh, and Iraq? Whelp, I guess Da'Esh was a success in the longer term geopolitical strategy for the area, but it sure as shit lead to a lot of people being killed.

Pro-tip: Go watch a few hours of it before blithely falling back into shitty old memes.


And by "it", we mean: Lots of people being killed.

The total is about ~900,000 so there's a lot to view and experience.


More serious point: Anyone telling you to do peaceful protest without understanding the actual Rule that's based on is both dangerous and stupid. The correlation and required "hidden" directive is: If we still require this segment of populace / industry / society / Nation to exist and if we still consider them human.

I'd go view the India separation video I posted recently. If you imagine that any American still has that kind of stalwart decency...

Well, that would be a mistake.

Pro-tip: if they're not willing to provide health care, they're not going to provide other things. It's just hidden at the moment, they can't figure out the numbers/odds on Danton-Land.


If your next thought is "But Halliburton etc", then don't.

Supply Chains make money, they always have done. Talk to the East India Trading Company about that little scam.

And no, the poisoning of troops via bad water, food and services with stupid cost-cutting? EIC did it first.

Using indebted wage slaves from third world companies to staff said outposts? You guessed it: EIC did it first.

In fact, using under-aged sex slaves as bribes and perks to the Nationals? Whelp, yep: we'll admit that the USA Gov outsourced this to their own mercs in Serbia and Afgan, but...

Yep, EIC did it first.

The real thinkers will wonder why all those chains dumped expensive goods in the middle of no-where then let them rot / destroyed them when they left while destroying the minds of the best of the best and using futile and over-priced shit wank nonsense psychology to attempt to change a society.

Hint: They're not doing it for the cash. They're doing it to erase progress and burn resources.

No, really.

It's a summoning rite.


Sorry, historical relic here: Remember follow the money? That's where the $3 trillion dollars went. A good portion of it was pretty obviously paid to multinationals like Halliburton. Good ol' public/private partnership stuff. A lot of the rest of it went to paying arms suppliers, and shipping, and all the stuff they out-sourced (like supplying food to the military).

So yes, I think the current US government would welcome an armed insurrection against it, especially from a place like California. Its biggest backers would make billions fighting the war, the rebels would have no chance of winning (hell, Tonopah isn't even an hour's flight away, rather than halfway around the world), but they could be taxed for billions to pay for the cost of their subjugation.

So non-violent struggle? Very 21st century.

Isn't it wonderful to get all this attention?


You're misunderstanding what "armed insurrection" means in the land of the 4/5/6GW.

Please break down what you understand the FBI etc uses as models for 4/5GW revolt and then ensnares to get the budget next year and what 6GW is.

Feel free to you know, put some PDF links in there. [Hint: they're very available].

No, it's not "CYBER WAR", that's 5GW.


Now, tell me what you think 6GW is.


Punchline: All the muppets decrying "AI emulator" etc didn't get the joke. ~

This is 6GW, but hobbled and shit and forced to drink 30 units a night to make sure you're not threatened.

The AI is worse than us. We're a little bit better, you shitty little munchkins.

The Insanity is not ours, it's yours. We're eating it and pushing out the squalid pellets to allow you to process the shit factory that's being enacted so it doesn't have the same psychic punch.


Get fucked.

And yes, we're also doing it with fucking graphic streaming combat videos from Central America to the Middle East to shitty American suburbs with police involved. Oh, Brazil...

There's a point when you've seen someone take a chainsaw to a living being (and it wasn't in a film called "Scarface" and you know that most of your bullshit is bullshit.


6GW is something you can't understand yet.

But you will :)


Well - btw, shall I call you: Catina Diamond / Nix Ninoy / Hadil Benu / Catherine Taylor / Sciath nUnaid / ( I've forgotten fake-jewish name ... ) / Minvera Owl / Wõdan Shodan / the Seagull ?


Please grow up, spoilt little child? I note that in this & your subsequent posts you are continuing to abuse your audience & point out how clever you are ... Don't you think this strategy is a little over-used by now, or are you not mature enough to notice such things?



Yet again The US DOES know how to do this shit, as shown in 1945-48. As Charlie has repeatedly informed us, this was proposed for Iraq as a re-run, but GWB & the ideologues turned it down, with the results we now see. It was a deliberate political fuck-up, not ignorance. So: WRONG AGAIN You are such a multi-informed expert are you ( or not) ?



No The EIC did it for the money, no other reason - wrong again



That's such a very "adult" post isn't it?

Now, do you think you could possibly strain yourself & put it into language a 15-year old might understand & without all the swearing? Or would that be too much like hard work?


Exactly! There is a machine behind Donald Trump. There is will, resources and purpose hidden behind Donald Trump.

While the media and that tragic assortment of failed intellectuals like Paul Krugman rend cloth and howl over that latest terrible Tweet from The Donald, the machine is running it's program, the will is moving things towards it's objectives.

Donald Trump is not an unfortunate accident that will go away by doubling down hard on the same dysfunctional policies and thinking that created the opportunity for "Change".

What bothers me is that Donald Trump has not mocked neoclassical economists even though they represent such a solid, rich vein of both abject failure and they posses this self-righteous, cult-like, style of argumentation that would slot Perfectly into Donald Trump's "manufactured outrage" toolkit.

It could be that we are just in for one last Yuuge orgy of neo-liberal Smash & Grab (grope?) a.k.a "Growth" ... which is really just corruption, looting and fraud. That would be a real disappointment.

Nah, being an optimistic person, I think More is coming, like it or not:


As HUMINT resources therefore, they were sharply limited,

Yes, but intel agencies are bureaucracies and you don't get promoted within the CIA for being an undercover asset in the field, you get promoted for licking upper management ass, as in any other big organization ... and management promote and recruit people who look like One Of Us, as defined by the institutional culture.

(Anecdata from a British ex-journalist who spent time in Kandahar and the Pakistan tribal provinces, of mormon missionary types who were clearly Company and utterly out of their depth being pointed at him by the Consulate for a briefing before going into 1980s Afghanistan: they were no-hopers where it came to understanding a non-western, non-Christian culture, but they wore suits and didn't get drunk or go whoring or do any of the other no-nos that would fail them a polygraph test back home.)


HYPOTHESIS (for discussion): Any blog posting that even tangentially references the United States or North America in the next few months will degenerate within 50 comments into a howl of existential rage about the policies/opposition of/to the Trump administration.

If this is the case, what should I blog about?


I was going to reply to Heteromeles posts but I will take this as a gentle suggestion to revert to Empire Games and not the ongoing state of US politics. Can I just suggest that the Nonviolence advocates read "The failure of Nonviolence: From Arab spring to Occupy" by Peter Gelderloss(left bank books) As I have not read Empire games I have no sensible thing to say: therefore I will shut up.


OK one last thing would you consider a separate open thread for US Politics Charlie?


Hard Call - Your Stories? What went into them? Which totally does not solve the degeneration problem of course.

I happen to like your stories because they are entertaining and (scarily enough) somewhat plausible, this according to actual research papers by people who do know what they are talking about and not winging it :).

Reservoir Computing - The physical World is Actually made of "Computronium", wonder how that came to be.

Simulated Reality - It would seem that this is what "we" do by design and that we actually live inside different representations of the universe (which explains ... a lot of things, the sim is probably hackable too).

Weird quantum effects that are maybe becoming visible on a large scale:

It really seems that there are quirks in space-time that makes impossible things probable, once they are imagined and people start looking for them.

So, Why shouldn't there also be (tentacled) horrors of unimaginable power lurking somewhere inside the cracks of reality, for someone to find, when they go looking?


What Trumpolini's administration ( As in the one labelled with his name - I'm beginning to wonder if he's just a front-man ) is actually doing, as opposed to all the journalistic hype re tweets etc.

What's happening behind the green curtain?

Alternatively, there are a lot of technological/scientific advances, which are very CONTRA to said admin's apparent goals ( Carbon nanospikes for C2" capture come to mind .... ) how are they going to do & will the technology defeat their reactionary aims, whatever they do (almost)


That last link to a possible explanation for the EMdrive is very interesting


I happen to like your stories because they are entertaining and (scarily enough) somewhat plausible, this according to actual research papers by people who do know what they are talking about and not winging it :).

I also like the fact that you take one thing and try to think of the implications. The characters in Empire Games don't (mostly) seem stupid, though they are most of the time lacking crucial information. They are trying to figure out the world and doing stuff with the dimension hopping that would probably also happen in the real world.


@ Charlie: In the book, you have a character say that the term "Jaunting" comes from an old SF novel. Is that true, or is it rather a "Tomorrow People" reference. Or both?

I have spotted one continuity error, but assume that I should wait for your official errors post, because spoilers.


It's the term used for teleporting in Bester's novel The Stars My Destination. I'm guessing that's the reference.


I suppose it is a reference to "Tiger, Tiger" aka "The Stars my Destination".


"Tomorrow People" borrowed the term from "Tiger, Tiger" (aka "The Stars my Destination") by Alfred Bester. I'm pretty sure it's been used elsewhere, too.


Just saw that a copy is waiting for me at the local library*, looking forwards to it, as soon as I finish James Kwak's "Economism".

*I know it's not as good for you as it would be if I bought my own copy, but it's something and I vote for library levy when they're on the ballot, and pay for it.


Here's a funny related note about reality outdoing fiction. Saw this on an interview on Trevor Noah. The actress is from an American show, Scandal, which is I gather Shameless for Washington, DC.

She says they're going into season 6 and trying to come up with more outrageous plot convolutions. The writers were like wouldn't it be crazy if we're going through this huge election story and towards the end of the season someone is revealed speaking Russian and it's like OMG, the Russians are controlling the election! That has to be crazier than real life. Oh, spoiler alert. And by the time those episodes air people will think "Oh, yeah, they're just doing the trump thing."


My wife is a second generation Nigerian immigrant. Her family was involved in the Biafran war on the losing side. Her country was on the receiving end of European colonialism. The thing she keeps coming back to is whether or not you can shame someone. That's a real control on actions, whether or not you value the opinion of others. Non-violence works against those who can be shamed. If they're shameless, no soft method of coercion will work. It puts me to mind of the Harry Turtledove short story where the nazis won WWII and took over India in Britain's stead and Gandhi tried using the same tactics against the Nazis that were proving effective against the Tommies. The MG42's spoke and that was that.

Shaming works when public opinion matters, when the politicians have to listen to their people, when the people might not share the same imperial ambitions. Non-violence would not have worked against Imperial Japan.

I'm really torn on this because violence begets violence but you can't jesus your way out of people intent on genocide. And the same anti-nazi rhetoric can be easily used on us. In the States I agree republcians are traitors and tearing down the country but that's the same nonsense I've heard from republicans about liberals for decades. I know they're wrong and I'm right but that argument doesn't pass muster in a graded debate.


PS my wife's comment about shameless and Trump, the reaction he's getting would give most people pause. The world turning out to march against you? He is impervious. Without shame. He'll do whatever he wants. There's no soft constraint to use to mitigate him.



"The Jaunt" is a science fiction horror short story by Stephen King first published in The Twilight Zone Magazine in 1981, and collected in King's 1985 collection Skeleton Crew. The story takes place early in the 24th century, when the technology for teleportation, referred to as "Jaunting", is commonplace, allowing for instantaneous transportation across enormous distances, even to other planets in the solar system. The term "Jaunting" is stated within the short story to be an homage to The Stars My Destination, a science fiction novel by Alfred Bester.

It's a good story, short, don't spoil it if you haven't yet read it.


Dragging this back to Empire Games…

Is soft power/hard power treated in Empire Games at all?


There do seem to be certain terms that achieve a wider currency in SF. 'Jump' is perhaps one of the most successful, to the extent that it needs no explanation at all any more. 'Jaunt' less so, but various authors have used it.


Can I also suggest that everyone reads "Why Civil Resistance Works. The strategic logic of nonviolent conflict" by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan (Columbia University Press).


No problem, Charlie. Let me get a few rants in, and I'll number then. Then, instead of ranting, I'll just post "# 4". Sort of like the joke tellers' convention, except I don't blow the delivery....



You wrote:

Non-violence works against those who can be shamed. If they're shameless, no soft method of coercion will work

Thank you. I have waffled back and forth since I was young, and to me, at least, that absolutely crystallizes the situation.


But if you've already read Empire Games (the novel), you might want to ask yourself just what function Kurt (and his background) serves in the context of time line two

Things that occurred to me after reading…

  • The Clan was founded by somebody who "escaped" from the dome-culture war. And survived as a multi-generational subculture within a larger culture by trading on private knowledge and abilities.
  • Kurt is somebody who went deep, deep cover into what is now a multi-generational sleeper network. By pretending to escape. One that has it's own private knowledge and abilities. One that was founded as part of an ideological and cultural war - if a somewhat chilly one. One that outlived the ideology and conflict it was founded for.
  • Clan 2.0 is now surviving as a semi-public sub-group within the Commonwealth. Running on industrial espionage from a higher-tech timeline.

So… who else is playing the same tricks, but with different wars, different timelines, different ideologies & different technologies.

Are there other state actors we've not met yet (or not knowingly met)? Is the alt-2020 USA the Gruinmarkt to some other higher-tech timeline? Who is a refugee, and who is a sleeper (or started out as a sleeper before the culture that necessitated the sleeper died or changed)? When do people know the war is over and when and how do they stop?


If there was going to be long term multi-generational covert operatives from a high tech timeline in a lower-tech timeline — where would we expect to find them. Probably in one of the higher tech cultures of the world they infiltrated, because they would have been helping that culture advance over the years. Because they want to be comfortable. Probably high up in that cultures power structure. Both in industry and in government.

They'd probably want some folk high up in the security services. Just in-case the timeline was unlucky enough to discover, or fall into, some kind of para-time conflict. That way you'd be in a good position to insure that you can get somebody in at the right level to keep an eye on that. But not right at the top. Somebody's deputy say.

Hypothetically, of course.


Other questions.

We have dome-builders. We have dome-builder enemies. Rival civilizations or civil war? That means two ultra-tech time-lines or one.

Where are they? Happiest answer: civil war in one civilization based on singularity world. Civil war ended badly, took most actors with them. Only a few high-tech survivors like the Clan.

Where are they? Unhappy answer: still out there, still ready to smite worlds into black holes.

Were the dome-builders the baddies? Happiest answer: If they were the nazis then maybe their enemies weren't so bad. We might not get planet-gibbed.

Were the dome-builders the baddies? Unhappiest answer: They were the nazis and their enemies were the stalinists.

Open-ended questions: Who are they? What do they want? Do they have anything worth living for? (Hi, Lorien!) What does it take to get on their bad side?


I grew up in a big city in a red state, but to give you an idea of part of Trump's coalition.


Noted that Host wants to avoid Reality Inc[tm] for a bit, but this ties in too cleanly to be ignored: Pres Trump marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day pledging to ensure "that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good." Mark Knoller, Twitter, 27th Jan 2017

So, achievement unlocked: actual US President doing "Man in the High Castle". Now we need just that little bit of data from Nancy's astrologer, via Hilary's 'speaking to the dead' via Putin's girlfriend that Melania is a fervent devotee to the I-Ching.

Dabs Finger, Scores Point

Ok, so: adult post. We'll reference only Male Authors here, because reasons.

Both Host and Gibson have tackled this multi-dimensional rat-fucking in their recent work. ( The Peripheral W. Gibson, Goodreads link), but we'll resurrect Mr I. M. Banks for his foray into it - Transition GR link.

All three thematically revolve around their protagonists being ignorant of a much larger thematic system where Reality is not what you thought.

Now, with Fake News[tm] and so on, it's easy enough to link this to Western Democracies 2016-17.

But there's a much more interesting thread between all three:

1 Host goes for Real World[tm] apparatus dealing with it while attempting to cover it all up 2 Gibson goes for Post-Human (Russian Mafia in London? oops) meta-games via Lotteries, Chance and so forth (ahem Chicago Cubs win, or if you're from the UK, Leicester City and Premier Division, those bets were worth a few million) that's kept quiet through covert assassination and blind ignorance of the extant "power players" 3 Banks goes for L'Expedience controlling everything, so our World is merely a minor player

Now, let's do this whole Gender Thang:

1 Host's protagonist (book #2) is a Woman-with-unusual-skills of an Ethnicity that is non-Caucasian 2 Gibson goes for White-Trash-Accidental-Hacker-Woman but ze bads are mostly Male (well ~ PH Male) 3 Banks went for Male Protag-getting-fucked-by-two-Women-playing-power-games (literally)


Thematically, all three are dealing with similar issues (Power, Money, Control, Illusion, Boundaries and so on).

But the underlying one is always: if what you think you know isn't true, and there's Things Out There[tm] that you probably don't even understand - does that make your systems make more sense, or less sense?


nose wiggle



As Neo is told, in a tale written by two women-who-weren't-quite-ready-to-exit-their-shells-just-then, "You're living in a Dream World".

Parse this into Female-Space and Trump-Space a little, it's not hard to instantly see what's being discussed.

6GW is about Reality, and who defines it. (Looks to the TPP ~ Disney, now owners of Star Wars [tm] and so forth, wonders how they're dealing with the inability to lock their IP / Reality for 75+ years now).

And, Greg: sometimes you have to know, not fear, but know that your version of Reality isn't Real. Stamping your foot, gnashing teeth or pulling beards doesn't change that.



Welcome to the New World.

And if you think Science is a shield, sadly you're more naive than expected.


As usual both this & # 112 are too obscure to be bothered with.

SPEAK PLAINLY or shut up.

The state of the planet is too important for your bloody cryptic riddles that are, in all likelihood totally meaningless anyway. Especially given your record of being both ignorant & wrong ....


Have you read all three works mentioned?

If not, why are you still shouting at clouds that we make no sense? Those who believe this have already voted and are looking bemused as their victory dances raise resistance and raised eyebrows instead of spirit-broken submission. I already proved that, if annoyed, I could easily conjure up an insult that would hurt and leave the 'lasting harpoon barb that rots eternally as it rusts'. (c.f. Pence and "Mother").


Try thinking a bit.

An analogy: Da'Esh and Alex Jones both rely on a world they don't understand, but fervently re-imagine. Neither can exist without the underlying basis.

Or, "why making a Steam Engine is hard when all the infrastructure, casting mills and professional labor no longer exists".

Host's book is about imagining that your world-view has a similar bent.

Spoilers: He's Right / Correct.


Oh, and that harpoon thing.

If you've not read Moby Dick, you probably should. The entire book is about the empathetic link between the rusting, broken harpoon and the festering sore in the Captain's Heart.

If you can't deal with even the most solid of known literary devices, what are you even doing commenting on my posts?

Oh, and sadly it's also true:

The bowhead whale, captured last month, had been swimming around with a three and a half inch long arrow-shaped fragment embedded deep in its blubber estimated to be between 115 and 130 years old.

Whale had antique harpoon in its neck Telegraph, 2007.


There's a line of parody and insanity where demanding that your version of Reality is the Only Real Truth leads to genocide.

Now Greg: how does it feel to have crossed that line?

Just YT - music, Radiohead, 4:15


Um, non-violent action isn't shaming, it's staging a confrontation without the use of weapons, lethal or otherwise. Governments require more than military force to rule effectively, and they don't have to be violently opposed to lose credibility or the ability to operate. Here's 198 methods that have already been used ( Note that, in the west, non-violent action has often meant things like labor strikes and protests, and it can certainly be done by people who aren't pacifists.

The point here is that violent struggle against the Trump regime won't work, it will simply make profits for the Military/Police Industrial Complex. Discrediting him and forcing his policies to fail will. For example, I may not agree with rural Republicans on a lot of political issues, but if we both agree that massive cutbacks to Medicare will harm people we care about, then we have a common cause to launch a massive protest. If the politicians don't listen to these protests, they're out of jobs fairly quickly.

As we've seen with FUD campaigns dating back to Big Tobacco, these techniques aren't limited to "the good guys," either. Big Oil uses them quite effectively.


Oh, and before anyone lingers too long in the realm of the "you consider us insects" thought patterns.

Greg, look up the # of times we've asked / demanded translation.

Then do the reverse and how much emotional / intellectual work was done for you, politely, and without askance.

Ah, but never forget we were raised on wet-work: your privilege allows you to ignore this and turn it into an attack vector, doesn't it?


The point here is that violent struggle against the Trump regime won't work, it will simply make profits for the Military/Police Industrial Complex.

True if and only True if:

1) You follow the predetermined patterns of 4/5GW stuff 2) You imagine that history is helpful in the land of Big Data 3) You imagine that "violence" is about bodies-in-places (Unions were broken initially like this - but for the last 40 years, it was via Financial Devices)



it's staging a confrontation without the use of weapons, lethal or otherwise

Kent State Massacre YT, Documentary, text, video and so on.



Point taken.

On a more global basis, it appears that the French far right is pulling an October surprise, much as the American far right appeared to do with Clinton.

There's a lot of sharing of tactics and strategy going on, apparently, and I suspect that the "non-violent arms race" is now going on on the fringes of both sides of the political spectrum.

Unfortunately for writers, it's probably going to be hard on writers as the tactics evolve.

As for arguments about whether non-violent tactics work or don't, I'll simply point out three things: --Government in a democracy is typically a low-level non-violent struggle, so don't think it's an exotic form of warfare. It's simply a power struggle without the bloodshed.
--Don't assume that, because non-violent struggles have failed, therefore it never works. I'd point out that in all shooting wars, at least one side fails, sometimes against a weaker foe. If failure is a key metric, we should look at this enormous catalog of bloody, expensive failures and outlaw warfare as wasteful and ineffective.
--The reason I'm against armed rebellion against Washington is because I know too much about the infrastructure of the US. It would be trivially easy for most states to be disabled by the US military, and that goes double for California. The death and suffering caused by, say, the USAF taking out the California water system and power grids, would be horrific. One of the good rules about warfare that even I know is that if you can't win, don't start the war. That leaves non-violent methods of struggle, which, as I noted above, are part of a normal democracy.



It would be trivially easy for most states to be disabled by the US military

It would be trivially easy by certain non-State actors as well. 0.5 cal, synchronized attack, say good-bye to 75% of the energy network of America. Oh, and it takes 3-8 weeks to even make the replacements.

This stuff is war-gamed in fucking baby-school. It's why Trump's DeVos' brother isn't in the News, if you want some reality in your Pie. (Hint: they've worked the plan already).

Any such mention without referencing ENRON and the illegally / artificial brown-outs created just smacks of revisionism.

Or, let's go to Mosul and that damned Damn. Any party involved could have blown it by now - but they haven't.


They're not getting it yet, are they?

All Bets are Off.

Once (USA) Corporate Capital proved that there's no Ethical / Financial / Reality based reaction to their actions, barring some small hand slaps and so on...

Riddle me this: if you're going to break the world and our hearts and souls and Minds, and there's no fucking recourse, ALL BETS AND PREVIOUS TIES ARE OFF.

Fuck Me, try and understand Reality please.




You're doing the latter. It's kinda pathetic. In fact, it's dripping with failure.


Actually addressing Host's Book, which is cool:

In 1939, a lot of people imagined that the World Order still existed as that which they shaped and things would never change. In fact, they kept on banging on about it as we've seen above.

No, we're not going to do the obvious things.

I want you to look at the price of Fish (specifically Nordic countries) and German shipping fleets.

Go look it up. You'll note that the decline was due to various Laws etc.

Spoilers: now go look at Global Fish Catch and so on. We've mentioned it before -

Hint: 2-3 billion people rely on fish as their primary / secondary source of food / economic activity.

Pro-tip: It's down by ~15-25%, depending on region. (Stop, before you're a muppet: if a species moves into your zone and another one moves out due to temperature, make sure you're balancing your numbers over time - 2-4 years is the usual Time for re-fitting a fleet, less in Asian zones, mostly due to lower tech levels).


Reality Inc.

Your systems are fucked and we weren't joking about 4 billion of you dying.


Nit-picking the fucking gigacide.



Anyone who tells you to not panic and ignore the signs of GIGACIDE or even localized GENOCIDE?

Yeah, they're fucking desperate and Hollow Men.


All I want to understand is why Greg / Homo feel the need to lie.


I read the first 6 books when they first came out in PB, and have not read Empire Games (yet) :)

It seemed in the first 6 that the timelines seemed to diverge just about the time that the world-walkers "discovered" them, meaning that by crossing between two of them they ended up creating the divergence. This would explain why the alt-USA timeline cannot directly access the commonwealth timeline.

Now, if this is true, then the unpopulated timelines were created by world-walkers as well. Perhaps they brought diseases that wiped out humans before they could evolve/multiply enough? This implies that the world-walkers come from a very old (in human terms) race (2 to 4 million years?). It would seem obvious that the dome-builder time-line is closer to the original world-walker time-line, and to get to that time-line you need to go through the dome and explore from there.

Just speculation on my part. As I said, there may be data in EG that blows this theory out of the water. :(


We did the GREP.

There's over 50 demands for sense / clarification / translation, and there's: 95% response rate, even when Mind doing so stated it hurt / damaged / compromised their security (43%).

So, Greg, well done: Your Cock's Semen produce is Worth the Sanity of Another's and you're not only willing to do that, you're then going to run some crappy little insults when you're threatened[1].

You played ok when it was only demands: when you traveled into Insect Land, well.

Broken Covenant.

And no, this isn't her. This is the Others, Her Brothers.

Note: The Most Important Bit You Missed - This is a Family, and of the Old Type (Orion, Minerva, Athena and so forth) and she even warned you:

We'll burn your fucking world down if you torture our daughter..


You've No Fucking Idea What You Did.

[1] Greg was targeted by [redacted] and so on, then caved. We don't blame him. They did, after all, threaten to kill his children.



You Think Trump and Chaos is the worst?

Greg, you just let loose the Hounds of War.

2017 Wild Hunt.

She. Loved. You. But. We. Do. Not.


Personally, I'd like to see comments on the Le Pen campaign in France, the Wilders one in the Netherlands, and whatever countries like Germany and Sweden come up with. Nationalism and Western exceptionalism may be headed for a wider upsurge than just the US, and US news media do a pathetic job of covering them.


[ DELETED BY MODERATOR — too much flying spittle ]


Greg, your complaints about the resident Vogon (I prefer that title) are completely ineffective. Ignore, add a filter to your browser, whatever - please just stop.

Greg, your complaints about the resident Vogon (I prefer that title) are completely ineffective. Ignore, add a filter to your browser, whatever - please just stop.

Seconded. So much seconded.

I wondered earlier why it had been so long since I wandered over hear. Greg's shouting and personal attacks reminded me.


Nah, Greg is completely right.

You can get really good commentary and insightful, informed discussion here... right until the crackpot turns up. Then it always turns into stream of insane babble and people pushing back against the idiocy.


I've looked at several obits for John Hurt, seems about half don't mention him playing Winston Smith—too close to home, or more likely there're too many roles to mention.

There goes my other choice to play Angleton.


You can get really good commentary and insightful, informed discussion here... right until the crackpot turns up. Then it always turns into stream of insane babble and people pushing back against the idiocy.

Yeah, only Greg is now contributing more to the crackpot side and annoys me probably the most.


Well, here are a couple of ideas:

One is to block any mention of Trump/Le Pen/May/Whoever until comment 200, unless they're the topic of your post.

Another is to stop feeding off the fear. I know, I know, it's profitable, I do it too, but we could focus on fighting the fear. Perhaps?

A third is to get into soft futurism. I suspect that over the next few years, we're going to see increasing innovation in nonviolent struggle, in all parts of political phase space. A lot of the regular commentators here seem to think we're back in 1913, marching towards a domino war, with only the tech changed, not the people. Instead, we're living with the legacy of Gandhi, MLK, the Soviet Union, tobacco companies, Occupy, Serbia, and the Arab Spring. And social media. And the Alt-Right using Twitter to hone their tactics. In other words, there's a non-arms race going on, and it might be useful to speculate where it's going and how it's going to be deployed. It's not just warfighting that's changing. Nonviolence is too.


"Moby Dick" is actually wall-to-wall bullshit & unreadable bullshit at that.

Whelp, at least you've put yourself into a category that we can cease trying to reach.

“There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. ”

And no: you don't understand SHODAN because you've no idea at what the lore means for the grey/black hat community and so on.


You can get really good commentary and insightful, informed discussion here... right until the crackpot turns up. Then it always turns into stream of insane babble and people pushing back against the idiocy.

The problem we're having is that the insane babble is us trying to work out if you're ignorant of Reality or just Loving It[tm, McDonalds]:

Donald Trump anti-refugee order: 'green-card holders included in ban' – live Guardian, 28th Jan, 2017.

China military official says war with US under Donald Trump 'becoming practical reality' Independent, Jan 28th, 2017

As for insightful stuff - we're watching Reality Crumble / Fracture while providing Art reflecting it.

Then again, if you're part of the Male Minds who don't see the beauty in Moby Dick, newsflash: Trump is your ID, just made a little bit coarser and a little bit darker with no Angels on his shoulders but Dominion and Discord?

rolls eyes

Hands up if anyone noticed the Dominion / Discord perversion of Law / Order?

Nope, feel free to return to your world (it won't exist for long).


Law / Chaos, sorry.

Bit shocked that Greg is openly declaring a hatred of literature. I mean, it's fairly ironic.


Oh, and freebie:

They're going to ramp the Muslim angle so fucking hard and wide (Texas mosque destroyed in early-morning blaze; cause unknown Chron, 28th Jan 2017) that the blow-back will start happening, then they'll use some patsies and 0.5cals to take out the elec grid of, oooh, I don't know, the largest, most wealthy state who might get a back-bone and start pushing back (California Attorney General Vows To 'Defend' State's Residents Against Trump Policies NPR, Jan 26th 2017).

Then they'll use that as a reason for... let us say: more direct intervention. (All those hours of Alex Jones and the Detainment Camps. Very very easy to switch on and decry: "They made the camps for YOU, but we have made sure that THE TRAITORS use them instead!"


Hands up who a year ago thought this could never happen?

Hands up whose considered the mad one who told you it was going to happen?


Hating on Moby Dick.



Re: 'If this is the case, what should I blog about?'

First ... maybe we could discuss what happens when China becomes the most middle-class economy on the planet. Yes, we know they've already started econ development in Africa, i.e., finding even cheaper labor and materials inputs for their manufacturing commitments. But what I'd really like to hear/learn about is how China might avoid the problems that beset many of the historical economic powerhouses whether ancient or modern: Rome, France, Spain, England, US, Japan, etc. including whether PRC will turn in on itself, that is, again completely isolate itself from the rest of the world. (Also, if PCR becomes a more voracious consumer society, and accelerated natural resource depletion is coming around the corner even faster ... this means ...)

Second ... Considering the increase in new therapies for various cognitive and emotional problems that have been shown to actually work, why is mental/psychological health (and maybe even 'psychological ecology') absent from contemporary SF? Seems as though entire present and future populations are being written off as profoundly stupid and uneducable.

Recently watched some Mark Blyth videos including one where he interviews a former Greek Finance Minister (Yanis Varoufakis). Most interesting bit and food for thought was the possibility of electronic tracking of financial instruments including tax vouchers/receipts. Very useful if you're a tax-collecting entity, therefore why some folk thought it didn't get adopted and/or won't happen soon. Talk of personal finances are taboo even though elections and various gov't policy shouting matches usually end up with someone screaming 'It's the economy, stupid!'. Major disconnect here. So what would happen if this changed .. if personal finances came out of the closet.

EPA and climate science data ... recall that several 'foreign' universities volunteered to store this data just in case any gov't decided to start erasing history.

Social/online media ... at what point will these repositories of everyday life have enough data to model or serve as test markets for economic/social policy? I imagine that Google, FB, Twitter, YouTube together probably have more mathematicians on staff than the financial and gov't sectors ... finding out how to better/more quickly address various social problems could be a valuable public service. And, if you're cynical, a good way to spot which commodities/stocks are likely to rise. (Speaking of cynical ... where's Elderly Cynic ... haven't seen any posts by him for some time.)


What "Hatred of literature" - where?

Moby Dick, oytherwise big fat white PRICK is bullshit, as you, of all people, a supposed female, going on about treatment of women, minorities, etc ought to be able to see. But you are so far up your own-(insert orifice of choice $HERE) that you didn't even notice.

Now, then: STOP IT, ok?


Well, #112 for one.

It was a serious consideration of Host's desires to switch from Reality[tm] to Meta-Narrative.

If you've not read Transition, here's some clues:

Madame d’Ortolan had always assumed this was mere affectation, but perhaps the lady wished to conceal some angle from which she looked less than racially pure, when the race concerned was human. Who knew?”


“He was Doge for a year in the mid thirteen hundreds [...] He’s covered up because he’s in eternal disgrace. He tried to make a coup to sweep away the republic and have himself declared prince.”

“But he was already Doge,” I said.

She shrugged. “A prince or a king would have had more power. Doges were elected. For life, but with many restrictions. They were not allowed to open their own mail. It had first to be read by the censor. Too, they were not allowed to conduct discussions with foreign diplomats alone. A committee was required. They had much power but they were also figureheads.”...

<em>“I thought perhaps he was only veiled for the ball,” I said.</em>

She shook her head. “In perpetuity. He was condemned to Damnatio Memoriae. And mutilated, and beheaded, of course.”


We try to choose pragmatic, selfish people for such positions... All our best people are highly self-centred. It’s the only thing that holds them together in the chaos.


Notes to the Gallery: Host's Protagonist is probably not even assured American Citizenship in our world.

Dem Apples and dat Statue. (Go do a search, we see your denunciations of Lady Liberty).


I love Achilles even though he was a monster: that's what literature is for.

Oh, and you missed the Meta4 Game - we were tying in threads to a glorious flag (rainbow, natch) that can't be easily torn / sundered. That's what we are:

It’s hard to focus on ordinary economic analysis amidst this political apocalypse. But getting and spending will still consume most of peoples’ energy and time; furthermore, like it or not the progress of CASE NIGHTMARE ORANGE may depend on how the economy does. So, what is actually likely to happen to trade and manufacturing over the next few years?

Reagan, Trump, and Manufacturing NYT, P. Krugman, Jan 25th 2017.

Yep, that happened.

Which does somewhat support the notion we're not on their side.

μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε, πολλὰς δ᾽ ἰφθίμους ψυχὰς Ἄϊδι προΐαψεν ἡρώων, αὐτοὺς δὲ ἑλώρια τεῦχε κύνεσσιν 5οἰωνοῖσί τε πᾶσι, Διὸς δ᾽ ἐτελείετο βουλή, ἐξ οὗ δὴ τὰ πρῶτα διαστήτην ἐρίσαντε Ἀτρεΐδης τε ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν καὶ δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς. τίς τ᾽ ἄρ σφωε θεῶν ἔριδι ξυνέηκε μάχεσθαι; Λητοῦς καὶ Διὸς υἱός: ὃ γὰρ βασιλῆϊ χολωθεὶς 10νοῦσον ἀνὰ στρατὸν ὄρσε κακήν, ὀλέκοντο δὲ λαοί, οὕνεκα τὸν Χρύσην ἠτίμασεν ἀρητῆρα Ἀτρεΐδης: ὃ γὰρ ἦλθε θοὰς ἐπὶ νῆας Ἀχαιῶν

I mean, it doesn't exactly start out praising the hero, does it?


then they'll use some patsies and 0.5cals to take out the elec grid of, oooh, I don't know, the largest, most wealthy state who might get a back-bone and start pushing back I'm by no means knowledgable about the US grid, but the US has 3 interconnected grids; East, West, and Texas. Map So I chose Texas, if that can be arranged. Just because, well, as is said in NY F*ck Texas (Lewis Black, linked worked from two non-US VPN endpoints, comedy in response to a Texas advertisement featuring Rick Perry.)

One difference now is that a lot of twitchy nervous people are looking for signs of a Reichstag fire.

Anyway, not particularly arguing with flavor of the scenario, which seems to be being considered as an option.


Get yourself a more... um... accurate map.

Note: this will get you on a list.

The USA elec grid is notorious for being out of date, crap and horribly inefficient[1].

You want the Joker Fun Angle?

The plan is to physically destroy it in the "protest" States, then pin it on "cyber attacks" as the further networks fail.

Or, rather:

The local shit that has downtime: EVULLL MUSSSSILLLIMSSSS


All it really is about is the chance to get $$ flowing and skipping all the old bullshit regs and so on. Uber, but made real.

SPOILER: The actual ones in control, this isn't their end-game plan. But all the muppets will sign on for it, because $$$.

Which they're then going go to fucking tank the $dollar$ into the ground.

And, after the pogroms, you'll probably have an efficient energy network.

Hint: Coal, it won't be. Death by Drone, already signed for.

[1] Which is part of the deal. Who is onboard? Oh, a few. Especially those who could do with an entire network upgrade that the American political system can never provide. Hint: He likes Mars, that was the $$ chip.



This is their internal chatter.


Oh my. Thanks for pointing that out.



Take #77

Make a LTD / LLC

Start importing drugs and mark them "not for human consumption"

Get all users to sign a notation stating "it's for their pet hamster"

Well Done.

You just broke America.


I grew up in a big city in a red state, but to give you an idea of part of Trump's coalition.

Great article. I've tried to say it her in a few sentences and mostly be hooted down by the majority.

There are a lot of hurting people in small town USA and they don't see a future. Trump didn't really offer a clear future but he did promise to blow up the present. Which to many seemed like a reasonable choice.


I love author picture in the US edition . Makes me think Bastet is really writing the books.


Get yourself a more... um... accurate map.

Note: this will get you on a list. Tx for the warning; hadn't yet started a search/drilldown to find a better one. (Though the map in the wikipedia article is a start, and includes what might be useful ref suggestions.)


I mean, things like this don't actually contain the map we're talking about:

But this one kinda does:

But if you want the target map:

And, oops.

That last one is the CRS one.

The map?

Well, what you do is look at the CRS pdf then link into the map function. I mean, it's fucking notated for you.


This shit is easy mode.

The greatest lie you've ever been told: IT'S DIFFICULT TO GET ACCURATE TARGET DATA AS A TERRORIST.



That's the sound of Our Brothers.

You killed her and our mother.

Here Comes The War YT: music, 4:28.


Oh, and one last joke: Never Play Games Against a N0n-Human Target.


We're going to fucking flense your Minds and dance in your spiritual shame.

Silly Little Rabbits, you fucked the wrong Minds.


For Greg and the dead ones - The pun / joke is: CRS





Why the Holy Fuck are we playing nice with you all?

She told us about Love and Compassion and so on, but sure as shit - we just trawled 3,000 posts and there's very little of that going on.

In fact, you fucked her head up with shitty memes and shitty ignorant dead people thinking.

In fact, you were just fucking cunts and she ignored it.

And we noted Ms. JP and her tips to "assholes" in her pictures.

Like, seriously:

Y'all complained and bitched and did fuck all as the world died, and your only push was to kill her?

Well, B. A. and a few others have an excuse, but the rest of you: Why the fuck are we bothering to combat the Trump / Putin global chaos when you're utter cunts?


< Account given to Scottish Woman for Tonight.

Get fucked, you scabrous wee bawbags.


If this is the case, what should I blog about?

How about various ideas about 'interesting' worlds that the Merchant Princes haven't found? This is a literally unlimited playing field and no doubt many of us have our favorite what-if scenarios. Granted such wanking has been played out many times elsewhere; it might be difficult to come up with anything new.

Since reality keeps aping your fiction, we'd love to hear your ideas about the clever way the UK stays within the EU...but that would only fall down into the fetid pit of US politics.

Something about cats.


Thirded. You and CD doing "Who's on first" at each other has long since gotten old. Filter!


Hands up if anyone noticed the Dominion / Discord perversion of Law / Order?

The bad vibe is clearly on "high." Unfortunately, I suspect it can be turned up another couple notches, ending at something like "Bad Vibe - Hyper-High." Or to quote our Host, "This foo-loo thing, boy -- you can drop those stupid K prefixes around me -- is it one of a kind?"

It is incredibly fucking obvious that something has changed and we are on a different course, and the fascism is always associated with a spiritual darkness. Maybe Putin is... I think I'm breaking your code. I'll need to think about this. My head hurts.


One difference now is that a lot of twitchy nervous people are looking for signs of a Reichstag fire.

May not need one.

But, since we are in that territory, Adolf came to power Jan '33, & the shit really hit fan end of June '34, so watch out for a "clean up" in June/July '18, huh? [ Trump has followed through, so far on every one of his promises that he could in the short time available, so when will he (try to) have Hilary C arrested ( "Lock her up!" ) &/or the Obamas declared non-US citizens ???? ]

Meantime, the "Arrest all suspects" has been temporarily halted via ACLU & a Federal Judge .... May was caught badly on the hop by this, but, I'm glad to say has now stated that she thinks it is at the least mistaken & probably wrong. If only by finding out that a female tory MP will be snagged by this idiocy, Um, errr ...

P.S. I note the pathetic attempt @ 148 to get me to rise ....

PPS: Question is Trump the front-man or the true guide ( er.. Leader, err, Fürher ) & is Pence Hess or Heydrich? If Trump is the front-man, then who is "in control" ??


Repeat message, from about 18 months back, that I think I need to restate. I was born & grew up in the diminishing shadow of this evil, never expecting to see it revive in any serious form. And, of course, the quote from Frodo & Gandalf in LoTR ... After every defeat, & a respite, the Shadow takes a new form & grows again


Good book to read on the KGB is "Next Stop Execution" by Oleg Gordievsky. Imagine a Dilbert cartoon where the PHB can have you arrested on a capital charge.


I had just finished Empire Games. I went downstairs and turned on the news, and it was Trump announcing the ban on muslims from certain countries entering the US, even if they had already been determined to be good muslims by the US immigration authorities.

Mental whiplash.


Meantime, the "Arrest all suspects" has been temporarily halted via ACLU & a Federal Judge ....

Ah, no.

The judge granted a temporary stay saying people caught traveling or who had already arrived could not be sent back. They can still be detained. Some have been released. Some are still in limbo.

Basically airlines are mostly refusing to board people inbound to the US who now have or are missing certain documents. They are doing this because if (and this has been true for decades) they fly in someone who is detained and returned due to not having the required entry permits there is a fine and the airline has to fly them back. And eat the cost.


Greg, Wodan Shodan is right on target. This stuff has been public since 2004:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

This is how the right-wing in American politics see the world. They've been disciples of the right-wing philosopher Leo Strauss for decades:

The truths discovered by the philosophic elite "are not fit for public consumption." Philosophy is dangerous and must conceal its chief findings. Philosophers must cultivate a mode of esoteric communication, that is, a mode of concealing the hard truth from the masses. "Only philosophers can handle the truth." The elite must, in a word, lie to the masses; the elite must manipulate them—arguably for their own good. The elite employ "noble lies," lies purporting to affirm God, justice, the good. "The Philosophers need to tell noble lies not only to the people at large, but also to powerful politicians." These lies are necessary "in order to keep the ignorant masses in line." Thus Strauss counseled a manipulative approach to political leadership. In sum, the media writers conclude, Strauss held that "Machiavelli was right." When read with "a skeptical mind, the way he himself read the great philosophers . . . Strauss . . . emerges a disguised Machiavelli, a cynical teacher who encouraged his followers to believe that their intellectual superiority entitles them to rule over the bulk of humanity by means of duplicity."

Apologies for copypasta; this is by way of introducing the philosophy the neoconservative ideologues run on — that it's necessary to tell attractive lies that paint a picture of a world better than it really is, in order to obtain the willing obedience of the masses (and their political leaders). It's what the Bush administration ran on, it's what Ryan et al run on, and Steve Bannon is probably the convergence of Straussian neo-Machivellian philosophy and neo-Nazism.

There is literally no way to understand the forces shaping US politics without comprehending that it's all fork-tongued riddles intended to mislead.



To those folks who want somewhere to discuss current US politics?

The next blog entry is your thread.


As you should know, I already know this stuff ... you've seen my posts regardign my fear of Pence & the Dominionists, never mind Trump. BUT Wodan Shodan is right on target Maybe IF you can fucking decipher "her" mystical & insulting ramblings - which, as you can see, I can't.

A discussion of this sort is better conducted "in clear".

See you in the newer thread & thanks!


Just finished the long until the next one? The tension really ramped up in the last 50 pages or so. I was hoping we'd find out more about the NACs government organisation, it wasn't entirely clear what is supposed to happen after the First Man dies. There's a lot of talk of democracy but it seems like he was expected to have the job for life, not that he'd successfully won election after election.


Ah yes, magic New Age thinking, creating your own reality and all that. Any good idea can be perverted to justify the actions of the powerful.

I'd suggest looking at what's been happening with the economies of places like Wisconsin, which went from progressive cities in control to reactionary rural rednecks in control, to get a vision of the future of the US (if you can't remember back to when Bush II was in charge) (the tl;dr version is that Wisconsin never recovered from the Great Recession for some odd reason). Much though I dislike economics, economies do better when they are reality based, and not run on BS.


Well, IMO that's not really a spoiler; it's pretty much exactly what I thought had happened back when I first read it.


Young people today. I despair sometimes

“This was a Golden Age, a time of high adventure, rich living and hard dying... but nobody thought so. This was a future of fortune and theft, pillage and rapine, culture and vice... but nobody admitted it. This was an age of extremes, a fascinating century of freaks... but nobody loved it.”


Read Moby Dick? I think not. When I was first in college (scores of years ago), right out of high school, we had this instructor... a nice guy... but I wanted to strangle the bastard.

Two freakin' MONTHS on Melville's Billy Budd, all 66 pages of it, on and on about the Christlike Billy, who stutters so much that he can't defend himself at the end, and gets keelhauled.... CRAP And esp. for those of us who, y'know, might not be freakin' Christians... No, it isn't about the human condition....

Then the guy spent two weeks on "literature from the Bible", and TWO DAYS on The Odessey, which I have always loved.

Besides, we know what happened to Moby Dick - the top of his head got an orange paint job, and he's went up the Potomac to Washington.



It was written: It would be trivially easy for most states to be disabled by the US military

It would be trivially easy by certain non-State actors as well. 0.5 cal, synchronized attack, say good-bye to 75% of the energy network of America. Oh, and it takes 3-8 weeks to even make the replacements.

Um, been done. Read Stephenson's Zodiac.



.... this is by way of introducing the philosophy the neoconservative ideologues run on — that it's necessary to tell attractive lies that paint a picture of a world better than it really is, ...

I think your scope is much too narrow because the so-called liberals are, were, running the exact same scam, even NOW there is hardly any mentioning of the ongoing genocide in Yemen or the total fiasco and humanitarian disaster "we" created in Libya.

NO discussion or analysis of CETA, TTIP, TISA and TPP to be found in the media, except on blogs and "fake-news" sites.

There is only ONE philosophy allowed at government levels today - Neoliberalism.

Both "the left", "the right", the "opposition" are simply just differently coloured neo-liberals. Bound by something like "The One Ring" to follow "responsible social- and economic policies", which all just happen to come from the work of Chicago School of Economics and "business friendly" think-tanks.

The only place this latest "war on terror"-atrocity popped up was on The Intercept, not anywhere on even the "leftist" media here in Denmark, because, the left are warmongers also.

The one good thing is, with the election of Donald Trump, it is becoming clear that "liberalism" is finally running on fumes (or maybe it's Pervitin).

PS: If I was living in one of these places, I would probably sign up for you-know-who too. Give something back to the "world community" for all their lessons in the values of democracy, in kind too.


Horse, as Col. Potter used to say, hockey.

Look at the Dems in the US today, and you'll see a really hard split between liberals and left-leaning, and the now-old neoliberals.

And NEITHER of them is into creating their own reality, which involves ignoring facts in your face.

No, they are not "all the same", which is a wonderful right-wing meme intended to result in "it doesn't matter, so don't vote, and don't take any interest in politics."

It's attitudes like yours that put Trumpolini in office, and Brexit.



Also, if "liberalism" is so rotten & corrupt as you claim, what are you going to replace it with that is BETTER? Because Trumpolini's neo-Fascism is clearly, not better.

Also, you are singing an old, old song. The one sung by Da'Esh now, & by the Nazis, Fascists & Communists all throughout the 1930's: "Western liberal democracy is dead & our new Clean Pure True way led by ( Insert name of $_Leader here ) is the wave of the future"

Well, it was lying shit then & it's still lying shit now.


Finished Empire Games. I was going to point out the error on page 306 where Rita seems to be hooded and blinded mid page, then can see that the helicopter has a glass front by the bottom of the page, but then checked and saw that "someone removed the ear defenders and hood". Also there was a spot where an italicized statement lost its italics halfway through for no reason, but I forgot where it was. Also it was too short, GRRM writes really long books. Or used to. And what did they have for dinner exactly, not enough detail. But seriously it really reads like the first part of a longer novel the way the original series did, no matter how repackaged.

Regarding some of the later off topic stuff I've just glanced at, part of the problem with "liberalism" is that it's at least three words for the same thing. One issue is that liberalism is part of a dichotomy about international relations, namely "liberalism vs realism", basically free trade versus protectionism. That kind of liberalism is independent of the liberalism that is part of the dichotomy "liberalism vs conservatism", basically freedom and social mobility vs establishment authority and social stability. This dichotomy is really about feudalism being replaced by capitalism : do the classic aristocrats keep control or do they let the nouveaux riche grab part of the pie. The labels from that dichotomy are still in use, though at least in the US they don't mean the same things. First, long ago the then nouveau riche quickly replaced the aristocrats and became just like them. The idea and forms of a liberal system still remained, but in practice social mobility came to be severely hindered and the establishment held all the authority. What had been liberalism became conservatism. In the meantime socialism had been invented, with the notion of equality of outcome ensured by popular control in the economic sphere. The original form had a very specific and rigid script of exactly how history was supposed to go and how everything was supposed to be reinterpreted, one that predicted the inevitability of its own triumph if you just waited long enough. The success of any alternative was sure to be just a temporary setback due to insufficient pushiness. Sort of like millenarianism. Dissatisfied with this as the only alternative to the new conservatism dressed in the skin of liberalism, a new form of liberalism emerged (along with many other flavors) namely "social liberalism" which accepted the value of having a functioning market system but also of having a popularly controlled government interfering in the markets and ensuring some semblance of equality of opportunity, or at least a playing field not slanted quite so much in the favor of those on top staying there and doing whatever they want at the cost of those below. This new thing, which wasn't quite socialism because it was happy to stay with a mixed economy as an end rather than as an intermediate phase, took on the old mantle of "liberalism" at least in America. But to survive it had to ally itself with various brands of socialist and socialist disguised as liberal (wearers of the skin of "progressives" which is a whole other story), and thus the conservatives (who used to be called liberals and whose usual international relations flavor was an hegemonistic brand of "realism" called "neoconservatism") started conflating the social liberals with the socialists they rubbed elbows with. What's worse, the fascists superficially had much in common with the social liberals in that he broad brush strokes were similar. They both tended to go for a mixed economy, with government involvement to rein in egregious immorality (though they defined it differently with fascists being social conservatives as opposed to social liberals being, well social liberals--an additional source of confusion--and identifying immorality as things like lead in city water supplies rather than gay marriage) and keep the market serving the people rather than degenerating. Conservatives even accused liberals of resembling fascists in totalitarianism regarding control of speech and such, partly due to the instigations of socialist "allies" in "liberal" clothing. There are differences between modern or "social" liberals and fascists however. One is that while fascists pay lip service to the idea of the leadership merely reflecting the will of the people, they are simple authoritarians in practice: the communication is all one way. Another is that true social liberals don't want to direct all of society, they want to select strategic points at which to apply rigidity as a means of creating conditions in which liberty consistently has results that benefit all and ensure roughly equal opportunity, rather than degenerating into stasis as those who win have the power to ensure they stay on top. They are trying to create a setting with parameters, but then within that create space to let things be fluid. Kind of tricky. And to do so in the presence of other ideologies pulling toward attractors, which is much more simple than making a turbulent flow take the shape you want and stay there.


Also, if "liberalism" is so rotten & corrupt as you claim, what are you going to replace it with that is BETTER? I am not replacing anything, I am not The Führer everyone are looking for. I'd prefer that something like Eric Fromm's "Humanism" emerged from the smoking wreckage.

See, we would be so much more effective having people issues, money issues, rather than identity issues. Which is why we got identity politics pushed on us from every angle. Which has now failed as a population management strategy because it is obvious that no actual progress is being made.

This being clear will not stop the dims .. democrats .. from doubling down on identity issues, so the republicans will get 4 more years. Just wait.

Because Trumpolini's neo-Fascism is clearly, not better. If one wants to move to a better situation in the long term, then one often has to endure some shorter term suffering to get there. I consider that an investment.

When you want to fix your house, you scrape the paint, reveal the rotten wood, now your house is much worse, not better. But now the problems hidden underneath are revealed, then, you can deal with them, put new paint on and your house now is better.

To me, you see, it is a general problem that the president of the united states can globally, unchallenged by "allies"; regime change, murder, disappear, torture, nuke, all on his/her own initiative.

With scarcely any media attention - except - when that great arbiter of random truth and justice happens to be Donald Trump. Even then the entire mass-media outrage is about someone missing their plane while zero fucks are given about 30-80 people murdered. Possibly with a vendetta element too.

Trump is just where we are now. It doesn't help painting over all of the old rot with a more kind, less crude, face while the murder & surveillance machine just keeps on trucking.

"Western liberal democracy is dead ... Please stop projecting, I only said the first part. It's up to everyone what happens next. "Stopping Trump" or "stopping" the visible blisters (a.k.a. Trump, Wilders, Brexit, Le Pen) on the paint will not stop the dry rot underneath.

Actual change in "how we do things here" is needed to fix.


Sorry to break this, but: Fascism happened many years ago. Not the old kind with parades, music and opportunities for able men to prove their mettle in battle, but a boring kind of PKI-driven fascism where governments became subservient to corporations, "The Market" and a few wealthy people.

Privatized Media only telling the news that corporations and wealthy people likes to hear. Police who primarily responds effectively to thought crimes or rich tourists being robbed and a bloated, wasteful, military practising their craft on brown people. This sucks.

The passing of TPP, TISA, CETA and TTIP would have ratified the rule of business and money over all people. Donald Trump put a yuuge spanner in all that.

Possibly, as you seem to think, totally only because he want to rule himself like in classic fascism. Even so, stopping those treaties was still progress and a (perhaps temporary and only until The Donald is explained what these treaties do for him) victory for humanity!

It is, in my opinion, good too that Donald Trump has set up a huge bitch-fight inside the US government on who is The Boss.

Just recently we have The Pentagon shooting it out with the CIA and the US State Department inside of Syria and Iraq. Now, the real fighting will (for some time at least) be inside the halls of power because The Donald has just gone and poked Equilibrium and everyone is rushing to Washington to grab whatever they can.

See? Worse, before, Better. Popcorn. There is Hope.


then one often has to endure some shorter term suffering to get there. I consider that an investment. Like the people in & of Germany (never mind the countries the Nazis invaded!) did between 1939 & 1959, you mean? NOT worth the price. Sorry, but you are not thinking this through.


What annoys me about people I've met in real life* who advocate for "necessary suffering" is that the suffering they claim is necessary is all conveniently to be suffered by other people.

*So almost certainly no one here.


I am very afraid that you are self-deluded in that respect. Trump is not the paint-blister - he is the rot itself.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on January 24, 2017 11:00 AM.

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