Back to: Artificial Intelligence: Threat or Menace? | Forward to: Too Many Thoughts About Genre

Introducing Dead Lies Dreaming

I've got a new book coming out next October 27th. And it's one I haven't said very much about, because it wasn't actually supposed to happen.

So here's a discursive history of events leading up to "Dead Lies Dreaming", and then an explanation of my train-wreck of a schedule (and how I got mugged by an entirely unplanned book).

Let's rewind to the heady days of 2007. I'd had an epic six year breakthrough run, with about eight books coming out in a five year period, multiple consecutive Hugo nominations (and a win), and I was getting a handle on the whole writing-for-a-living thing. But I was also 43 years old, and feeling extremely burned out, because I peaked at three novels in one year and had been averaging two a year for the first half of the decade. It's possible to write more than that — a lot more — if you follow a formula, but I was trying to break ground, so every book had to be fresh and different. So I resolved to take a sabbatical, a six to nine month period in which I didn't need to write a novel or do anything except relax, process, and rebuild my creative energy. To make it work, I wrote a novella ("Palimpsest", which won a Hugo in 2010) and bolted it on top of a bunch of other short works to make a collection ("Wireless") which could be published in 2009. And then I tried to take a break —

Only my father got ill. By which I mean "emergency hospital admission, not expected to survive the night" kind of ill. He survived, and then he was in a coma for three weeks, and when he awakened he was hemilaterally paralysed, and after a month he began to get some movement back but wasn't expected to ever walk again, and then —

Well, not only did he walk again, he got to do lots of things again, and he lived another decade, which was good. But my carefully planned sabbatical was spent on hospital bedside visits and anxiety, although at least I got a break from writing.

Let's fast forward to 2017. My father got ill again that spring, and being 93, he didn't recover. I'd spent the year leading up to his death writing a draft of "Ghost Engine", a wide-screen space opera, but there is this thing about people dying: it taints any creative project you're emotionally invested in that you're working on at the time, and only distance will let you get your detachment back, and with it the ability to work on that project. (To this day, "Ghost Engine" is still waiting for me to get back to the paused second draft.) Because I had a deadline to hit and couldn't emotionally engage with the book I was supposed to hand in the month after he died, I negotiated a substitute: I knew what the ninth Laundry Files book was about a long time before I wrote it, so I squeezed out "The Labyrinth Index" in a hurry. And then I really burned out, and botched the third re-write of "Invisible Sun" so badly I came down with a case of writers' block. It was clearly time for another sabbatical, so I asked for a revised deadline and then took six months off.

Then my mother had two (or maybe three) strokes and went into hospital for three months, followed by most of a year hanging on in a specialist nursing home. She was 90.

While this was happening I should have been working on "Invisible Sun" or "Ghost Engine", both of which were scheduled and already way overdue. But not only was I burned out: I was spending about a third of my time traveling to and from the nursing home (and recovering from the visits). Even if you're not a front-line carer, dealing with a terminal illness in the immediate family is immensely draining. Also: I knew for a certainty that my mother was going to die at some point in the next couple of months, and it would poison whatever book I was working on at the time, all over again.

So I gave myself permission to go off-track and write whatever I felt like, in the hope that not having a deadline would give me room to at least write something, even if it was unsalable. Therapy writing, in other words.

Fast-forward to March 2019 and, to nobody's surprise, "Invisible Sun" and "Ghost Engine" weren't going anywhere ... but my mother was still alive, and meanwhile I had a new and wholly unexpected book with the working title "Lost Boys". (Which hastily got renamed "Dead Lies Dreaming" because the cult vampire movie "Lost Boys" got a streaming TV show make-over in 2019, and only an idiot goes up against a cult media property on Amazon/Google search.)

As of March 2019 I had been writing the Laundry Files for 20 years. Bob and the other protagonists have aged about 18 years in that time, and the world around them has changed enormously. Spies in 2019 do not mean what they meant in 1999. The political landscape in 2019 is different, and not in a good way, from 1999. "The Delirium Brief" and "The Labyrinth Index" attempted to keep the Laundry Files relevant, but it's a losing game. I really need to end the Laundry Files: I think they've got at most two books left to run

But while I don't want to go on writing about the Laundry, I have other stories to tell in the same setting.

"Dead Lies Dreaming" was never meant to exist. I was blowing off steam and doing therapy-writing for stress relief while dealing with unpleasant real-life stuff. But it does exist (and worse, so does the first half of the second book in the trilogy), and it's coming out on October 27th, from Orbit in the UK and Tor.com in the USA. They're calling it book 10 in the Laundry Files. Reader, "Dead Lies Dreaming" is not book 10 in the Laundry Files. The real book 10 hasn't been written yet (it's on my to-do list for 2020 or 2021: if I stick to current plans, it'll be the story of Mike Armstrong, the Senior Auditor).

There are no Bob and Mo in "Dead Lies Dreaming". Indeed, the only characters from the Laundry Files who show up are the Prime Minister (who makes a cameo appearance on TV), and a very confused Transnistrian Mafia Loss Adjuster. It is, in short, the start of a whole new series.

"Dead Lies Dreaming" focuses on ordinary life on the home front under the New Management: from the sprawling corporate empire of a billionaire hedge-fund oligarch and cultist, to a tumbledown squat occupied by a found family of art college dropouts and e-sports grifters, to a dream-quest through darkest 1889 Whitechapel in search of the long lost concordance to the true Necronomicon. There is not a single spy to be found in the entire book! There are supervillains, though: and cops and private-sector thief-takers, and a harried executive assistant; not to mention the entire book is as unremarkably gay as a very gay thing indeed (possibly even more so than "Rule 34").

This is not the Laundry Files. It's Laundry-adjacent, however, and it tackles the sort of social themes that a cumbersome government bureaucracy mired in paperclip audits and ISO9000 form-filling simply can't touch: crime and justice, deviance and conformism, life in a time of creeping and pervasive environmental crisis. (Magic. Magic everywhere, like rising sea levels and extreme weather events.) If you like it, there will be more of this sort of thing even after Bob, Mo, and the Laundry have sung their final encore and ridden off into the sunset. And as I said, it's already in production for publication at the end of October.

As for "Invisible Sun", it's top of my to-do list. Nothing is going to pre-empt it until I can shift it to the "out" tray. However, I can say with some certainty that it is not going to come out before 2021: I just hope nobody else dies before it's done. My editor David Hartwell, who commissioned the entire Merchant Princes series, died during the first draft. Then my father died right before I burned out on the third draft. Then my mother died while I was rewriting it for a fourth time. And now my wife is really worried ...

1197 Comments

| Leave a comment
1:

The decade's been a whole heap of shitty, but I've got to say I do like the new title. 'Dead Lies Dreaming' beats anything I came up with, by a long long mile; kudos to whoever chose it.

As for the trauma-delayed works... perhaps a way out for Ghost Engine would be to hand it off to a trusted collaborator to complete? Perhaps they also have something lying around gathering dust for you to return the favour with.

2:
I was blowing off steam and doing therapy-writing for stress relief

Rather puts me in mind of Richard Feynman's experience of burnout. He felt unable to face any "real" physics, but one day in the canteen he noticed the strange way a plate wobbled when someone spun it. He started writing down equations to model the motion, just out of curiosity. Then he noticed a connection between these equations and a problem he'd worked on in the past, and hey presto he was doing physics again.

3:

There are times when I'm blocked and just walk away and put on TV news or something. My wife wants to talk it out and engage me. I have to keep telling her I just want to decompress. Talking about "it" or anything else is not decompressing. Well really letting my mind empty of all the cruft so I can get a fresh start.

4:

"Dead Lies Dreaming" was 100% my title :)

(Echoes of Lovecraft, and it's also a unique on google and amazon search, which doesn't hurt.)

It was originally "Lost Boys" because it plays chords in the key of "Peter Pan" -- the original by J. M. Barrie (which was extremely dark), not the abominably twee, saccharine Disney version. ("Peter Pan" was written to explain to five year olds why their siblings weren't coming home from the hospital -- in an era where infant mortality was around 20% before the 5th birthday, this was something far too many parents needs to explain.)

The second book, currently titled "Meat Lies Bleeding", deals with Sweeney Todd (not twee) and Mary Poppins (the original P. L. Travers version, again: it was Disney who made her twee, the original Mary Poppins was a narcissistic, amoral witch). And it recomplicates and darkens everything in the first book, while adding a vision of what customer-facing retail work is like in the world of the New Management (i.e. increasingly hellish, and they're picking up ideas from WalMart in the USA, as seen in "The Labyrinth Index").

5:

Well, the books sound delightfully dark and depressing. You've not been reading Peter Watts, have you?

6:

Meanwhile, Graydon Saunders has pre-announced the fifth Commonwealth book, "A Mist of Grit and Splinters", coming out on January 17th. (Note: ebook only, and won't show up on Amazon because Graydon doesn't like Amazon's policies.) I strongly recommend this series as what you get when high fantasy starts to interrogate its own baked-in assumptions about Power and Law, not to mention militarism.

This is probably not the best starting point (Graydon?) -- I'd rec "A Succession of Bad Days" with the proviso that it's only the first half of a novel (concluded in "Safely You Deliver").

7:

Nope, no Peter Watts recently! And there is a happy ending -- of a sort -- to "Dead Lies Dreaming" (although if the trilogy happens, it's going to get a lot darker before the light at the end of the tunnel).

8:

When you first announced the new title, it reminded me of something, and I finally realized it was Tidhar’s “A Man Lies Dreaming”—which I really ought to find a copy of and read, along with his other books that I already have.
Anyhow, looking forward to the new trilogy.

9:

Depending on how things play out, hopefully I'll come out with new work this year. Admittedly I'm thinking about this as either self-published or a web-novel. I'm working on it, but, well...

I know a bit about burnout, after Hot Earth Dreams, which I published a month after my bachelor uncle died (guess who's been sorting through his estate?). Writing about the end of civilization is hard, and I decided to do something about climate change rather than write about it.

Then the economic boom bit down, DC turned orange, and bribing the political appointees running the environmental agencies became the thing to do (suborning the boss shuts up a lot of highly skilled employees). A bunch of developers decided to try a mass attack on dismantling all the environmental plans for San Diego County (which, incidentally, has more native plant species than does the entire island of Britain), and I got more involved in fighting that. The worst part were seven huge sprawl developments that would effectively gut all the environmental plans the county had created, and the effort included buying off the county supervisors who approve such things. Anyway, five of those developments are in court, two are coming up in front of the stuporvisors on their way to court, and there's also a ballot measure in March that's designed to make such plutocrat-led anti-planning efforts a bit harder in the future, if it passes. So I've got another few months of environmental stuff, then hopefully I can write some more and hopefully earn a bit of money which may well go into fighting off the next spasm of greed in a few years.

Hate to say it, but I'm really hoping for a recession right about now. I seem to get more writing done when there's less money flowing through the system. Lot of hope right now...

10:

Yes, well ... my mother had late-diagnosed cancer, back in the primitive days of 1960/1 ( And then only because my father bullied the quack ) ... they thought they had "got it", but of course they hadn't ...
I went to uni in autumn 1964 ... & dad didn't update me on how bad it was ... I was summoned home in extreme emergency ... to meet something that vaguely resembed a very bad Gerald Scarfe cartoon of my mother, with wierd skin clour, barely able to talk - she died that night ( & should have been dead a week before ) - she'd been waiting fo me ...
My first bash at university fell apart, I failed my degree comprehensively, because I got ZERO backup from the authorities & it took me another 24 years before I got my MSc.
Trainwreck - yeah.
So - I understand, all to well, what that can do to ones' "productivity" or mental processes.

.... When is "Invisible Sun" coming out, if you know - because it's the third of the "Empire Games" subset, isn't it? ... ah yes, thanks. ( oops )
Laundry files have at most two books to run Am I imagining things, or have you curtailed the arc - I thought it was 4 or 5 ... ( Might be my memory of course )

Dream-quest through Whitechapel ... Ah well the Ripper meets Unknown Kadath, maybe. With or without input from "Jack London" - or even Joseph Conrad?

I think I might want to look at Graydon Saunders .....

Heteromeles
Actually, a recession that's obvious BEFORE November 2020 would be a very good thing - (almost) anything to clip Trump's wings
Did you see that prediction, that DT could lose by FIVE MILLION VOTES & still get the Elctoral College?
A recipe for US low-level civil war, either way .....

11:

When is "Invisible Sun" coming out, if you know

It was previously scheduled for March 2019. Then March 2020. March 2020 is now the deadline for the manuscript -- which will probably be missed -- with March 2021 as likely publication date (there's a 12 month lead time, because Tor is a sausage machine cranking out >100 titles/year, and you have to wait for your slot on the conveyor belt).

The third draft was a hot mess (burnout/dad's death): I actually completely forgot (and consequently left out) two major plot strands from the previous two books. Then $EDITOR tried to do a book doctor job on it and their workflow was wildly incompatible with my own, while mum was dying. So right now I'm working to clear the deck and get my self-confidence back by actually finishing something, before I go and death-march it (hopefully to a satisfactory series-appropriate conclusion).

(I will note that at the point when I ground to a halt, "Invisible Sun" looked likely to be 50% longer than any previous Merchant Princes book. It's not obvious that it won't keep expanding indefinitely, because I have so many loose ends to tie up, but in principle I want to finish the goddamn series, so ...)

I originally thought that "Ghost Engine" would be the start of a new series, although it works as a stand-alone. I suspect the series-slot in my brain has now been pre-empted by "Dead Lies Dreaming", although I still intend to get "Ghost Engine" finished, as soon as possible after "Invisible Sun".

12:

Note that today's blog entry and comments effectively pre-empt a day's worth of writing, and this is normal for me blogging. So if I'm working productively, there's less blogging.

13:

Actually, a recession that's obvious BEFORE November 2020 would be a very good thing - (almost) anything to clip Trump's wings

Did see the predictions, not going to derail this thread beyond noting that I suspect the whole point of that tax cut (e.g. dump vast quantities of government money into the economy in ways that enrich the super-rich) was simply to avoid having a recession right about now, so that he can get re-elected. Remember, extreme wealth is about control, not ownership, because ownership is taxable.

That said, politics is both a problem and an opportunity for SF. The problem is that a lot of the traditional tropes look *really* problematic now. Actually, they were always problematic, but the audience for SFF didn't really want to deal with the problems until recently (and I'm definitely in that not-dealing category, sadly). The grim opportunity is that, if we do continue a rightwards lurch towards authoritarianism worldwide, SF may well benefit, both from the right-wing SF and also from using alien settings to talk about things that would otherwise be verboten in general discussion (these aliens are structurally bisexual. Allow me to expound on the hypothetical situations these fascinating beings deal with in their personal lives...).

14:

I am cursed with the belief that I have got good ideas and advice about things I have no talent or experience of, and other are cursed by my inability to refrain from delivering it.

I have always liked the idea of writing, found myself unable to do any, and so you can imagine just how I'm just itching to Solve Your Problems.

Anyway, these creative stymies you're having; if collaboration is out, maybe the best thing to hack your brain into productivity might be to do some throwaway edits/rewrites/expansions in the voice of someone else. Pastiches, just to have some fun, hit the problem sideways, trick your brain into throwing up something unexpected. Oooh, maybe write the story as a *character* would.

I really can't help myself. Sorry.

15:

As an artist, I am very much looking forward to a Strossian take on art college dropouts. I understand about the Laundry running its course, but I gotta admit, I will miss Mo (she’s such a well-realized female character).

16:

Graydon Saunders has pre-announced the fifth Commonwealth book, "A Mist of Grit and Splinters", coming out on January 17th

Yay! I was pondering a comment along the lines of "I suppose the 2019 expectation is unlikely with only 5 hours left"...

And there's even a pre-order link which has been duly followed

17:

Oh, *your* Ghost Engine (a search showed me others).

Burnout. '95-'97, I was working for Ameritech, one of the old Baby Bells. The phone companies were noted for insane schedules; a fan friend of mine, practicing degreed psychologist, told me that just from talking to me the end of the summer *before* my late wife dropped dead for no particular reason at 43, that it was her professional opinion that I was *that* close to clinical burnout (a year and a half of 10, 12, some 14, and the occasional 16 hour day, with a *LOT* of pages 7 days a week will do that to you).

Right now, when I hit a wall in the writing, I've graduated from solitaire to freecell, and sooner or later, I have to stop and start typing.

Best of luck, Charlie.

18:

The original Mary Poppins may have been more than that, depending on how you interpret the chapter about installing stars in the sky.

19:

Most of Graydon’s Commonweal novels involve a lot of details of the world - the nature of sorcerers, of the anarcho-syndicalist society.. The world is amazing, and what the novels showcase, but it is also difficult to grasp. It is always “show don’t tell” so you need to work to understand it - expect to need to think when reading his work.

Which is why I think the best starting point is the first novel. “The March North” is a truly extraordinary book, but it follows a small and desperate military force outside the borders of the Commonweal, so as an introduction to how the Commonweal works it is more approachable as you have a smaller simpler bit of the society to grok rather than trying to get your head around the lot at once.

Also... honestly the series gets a bit Mary-Sue about the sorcerers in later books. In a world of epically powerful mages the protagonists end up epically powerfuller. Like all such series, each narrative event of even-greater power is lots of fun, but the end state you reach is less fun overall.

20:

Ok, I give up: how to I buy a copy of The March North for download? I see Amazon or google want me to read it online.

21:

Graydon doesn't sell his books via Amazon. Your best bet is to buy it on the Google Play store, then download the (DRM-free) epub, which will be readable on anything that can display epub files.

22:

I think I might want to look at Graydon Saunders .....

You won't regret it…

23:

(about Graydon Saunders Commonweal series) I strongly recommend this series as what you get when high fantasy starts to interrogate its own baked-in assumptions about Power and Law, not to mention militarism.

Also, it has an interesting magic system and lots of competent people; I love the sapphire bathtubs to bits. :)

24:

I think you are unfairly harsh to Mary Poppins. She was, indeed, quite narcissistic and egocentric, but she was not amoral. She was actually quite strictly moral, though in an unconventional way. And it would be more proper to consider her a minor goddess than a witch. (She is, after all, supposed to be related to the Sun.)

That said, many of the standard works for children are properly understood as an encounter with death. I first noticed that in the Oz books, but it's clearly also true in "Alice in Wonderland", and, as you point out, "Peter Pan". And the traditional fairy tales aren't even subtle about it.

FWIW, I feel the arbitrary decisions that Mary Poppins makes are intended as a reflection of how children see the (unappealable) decisions that adults make about them without consulting them. Notice that it never does them injury, though it often makes them unhappy or frightens them. This is not amoral. If you want to see amoral, look at the decisions made by politicians or corporate executives.

25:

Heh. Look at "fairy tales" when they're *not* cleaned up for Victorian and post-Victorian society.

One that my mother used to tell - and I don't know if I've seen it in a book - is this:
The grandmother puts all seven kids to bed, and tells them she has to go get (something - wood?), and not to open the door until she comes back.

Not long after she leaves, one of the kids does something (opens a shutter?), and gets back in bed. Shortly after that, a huge wolf breaks in (through the unshuttered window?), and eats all the kids, except for the littlest, who was up against the wall, and slid down under the bed.

The wolf leaves, and a little bit later, the grandmother comes back. The littlest comes out and tells her what happened. Bringing the kid with her, she tracks the wolf, to find him by a river, sleeping off his huge meal. She has the little one collect a bunch of stones, and she cuts the wolf open, and lets all six children, still alive, out. Then she puts the stones into the wolf's stomach, and sews him up. They wade across the stream, and start yelling. The wolf wakes up, and, seeing them, charges into the stream... but with all the stones in him, he goes under, and the stream drowns him and takes him away.

Not exactly Disney, eh?

26:

I have a knitting project I was working on while I sat with my mother as she was dying. It's been unfinished for 14 years. Sometimes I need to either frog it (rip-it, rip-it) or finish it. (Funny thing, since she died I've had almost no reason to do cross-stitch. I used to do it a lot. I think it may have been a case of "anything you can do, I can do at least as well".)

27:

Charlie,

Remember, The Laundry Files is about the "Files" not the characters. There are literally miles of shelves filled with files that you can draw from for stories.

You do not have to keep moving forward in the timeline to tell fun stories from the Laundry Files. You don't need to actually hit CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

- The Laundry Files is a container, fill it with whatever stories go in the LaundryVerse.

I agree with Greg @10. Where are the Laundry Files by Gaslight?

Readers want to know. HA!

That gives you the freedom to write anything because we know that somewhere the Laundry is taking care of business.

As example:

Tom Clancy wrote the Jack Ryan stories, starting with The Hunt For Red October(1984), moving up and down the timeline. The stories make more sense read in "publishing order" rather than following the timeline linearly.

Heteromeles @9 said: Admittedly I'm thinking about this as either self-published or a web-novel.

Self-publish, it doesn't cost anything. Be sure to price your ebook and paper better. The current price for your Hot Earth Dreams ebook is ridiculous, nobody is going to pay 19 bucks for an ebook, and the paper would work better at 11.99.

It's as if you don't want people to buy your book.

whitroth @17 said: Right now, when I hit a wall in the writing, I've graduated from solitaire to freecell, and sooner or later, I have to stop and start typing.

I have a large screen iMac, so when I need to step away from writing, I have a jigsaw puzzle program called BrainsBreaker 5 that lets me start solving a puzzle, a few pieces at a time, then I can get back to writing.

28:

""Dead Lies Dreaming" focuses on ordinary life on the home front under the New Management: from the sprawling corporate empire of a billionaire hedge-fund oligarch and cultist, to a tumbledown squat occupied by a found family of art college dropouts and e-sports grifters, to a dream-quest through darkest 1889 Whitechapel in search of the long lost concordance to the true Necronomicon."

The two associations that immediately come to mind are Iain Banks and The Talons of Weng-Chiang, so I reckon this is going to be a cracker.

The title is excellent, too, though I have to say I'm not so keen on the second one. The first one is a transfinite doomy echo of Lovecraft reverberating endlessly through the eternal dark, but the second one is the mundane and brief thwack of meat on a butcher's slab.

You seem to have a knack for picking "standard childhood references" that never formed a part of mine. Conversations of people around me had occasionally included mentions of Captain Cook or Captain Hook which I didn't understand and I could never get hold of which one was right or if they were the same or not; the confusion pissed me off and the result was that by the time I was 5 I was already firmly of the opinion that Peter Pan could get fucked, although I lacked the vocabulary to express it, without having ever read a word or viewed a second of it. Mary Poppins was something I became aware of a couple of years later, by which point the whole idea of a magic nanny was obviously too silly for words so I never read beyond the cover.

Nor have I since then ever encountered any reason not to believe they were the kind of cultural baggage I was better off for not lugging around with me anyway, so I hope I don't miss out on too much...

29:

I've read that but not heard it, so it must be in a book somewhere. Thought it was basically silly because of all the bits that obviously couldn't really work, which seems to be pretty much how I usually did react to fairy stories. I'd guess that maybe the reason I didn't find SF unpalatable on the same grounds was that the bits that don't work are not so closely related to everyday experience so I didn't yet find them obvious.

30:

Thirded? Fourthed?

Anything Graydon writes is worth reading. It can be utterly different, but always fun :)

31:

S P Z @ 23
when high fantasy starts to interrogate its own baked-in assumptions about Power and Law, not to mention militarism.
Like Tolkien, you mean?
The downfall of Numenor / the arrogance of Earnur / the Kin-Strife ... etc.
... leading on to ...How few adults actually realise just how utterly scary "Jabberwocky" is, or the Jabberwock itself?
( Of course, Zelazny understood, but then, he would ...

32:

Just got The March North on Kobo. DRM free. Yaay!
I've often found new authors recommended, or guest blogging here worth a read, so high hopes for this one.

33:

Remember, The Laundry Files is about the "Files" not the characters. There are literally miles of shelves filled with files that you can draw from for stories.

WRONG.

The series is only called "the Laundry Files" because around 2009 an order came down from On High within Penguin group that any series with >3 books had to have a series name, and my editor also published Jim Butcher and thought something riffing off "the Dresden Files" would be good for sales. It's not my choice of a series title, but they pinned the tail on the donkey and it's proven remarkably hard to shed.

By coincidence, I also discovered a neat trick you can do with first-person narratives, if you discover a world-building inconsistency or need to retcon something: you can declare your narrator to be unreliable. I then used the "workplace files" conceit as a frame for subsequent books, to make it easier to continue to use the same (flawed) setting as the first circa-1999 story in newer works. (Alas, this trick couldn't be used for the world of "Singularity Sky"/"Iron Sunrise" because I used third person/omniscient viewpoints.)

Anyway ... the stories are all about the people, as they age and learn and adjust to life in a world beset by a horrible, slowly worsening existential crisis -- CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN started out as a one-line throw-away in "The Concrete Jungle" to justify the existence of a gadget, but turns out (20 years later) to be a really useful metaphor for anthropogenic climate change, and the New Management is another metaphor for the creeping global fascist takeover/age of chaos and misrule we seem to have slid into.

Anyway: I know how the story of Bob and his co-workers ends, more or less. I could get there in one book, but there's room for a character study of the Senior Auditor along the way. And if I have the energy I should write the long-overdue origin story for Derek the DM, who still has a role to play (despite looking kind of dead at the end of "The Labyrinth Index").

But the new novels have nothing in common with the structure of the Laundry, except maybe the setting: it's like comparing Terry Pratchett's "Guards" novels with his Tiffany Aching (witches) books -- yes, discworld, but they're utterly different.

34:

Dead Lies Dreaming sounds absolutely wonderful. I've been looking forward to reading it since you first mentioned it here on the blog and the more I hear about it the better it sounds.

It's possible to write more than that — a lot more — if you follow a formula, but I was trying to break ground, so every book had to be fresh and different.

That's what I really love about the Laundry series. It hasn't quite been 20 years for me – I think I first read Atrocity Archives when I was 15, so that's like 12 years – but I've been a fan of the books for long enough to really appreciate the way the series has grown and developed over time. With the introduction of new characters and points of view, not to mention continually upping the stakes as CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN progresses, you never quite know what you're getting into, but it's been a fresh delight every time.

Which is why I'm so excited about the new spinoff. I've been wondering what life under the New Management is like for regular citizens. If they realize the existential horror of the situation or default to apathy as we did with Brexit-related political bollocks.

And if I have the energy I should write the long-overdue origin story for Derek the DM, who still has a role to play (despite looking kind of dead at the end of "The Labyrinth Index").

Ooh, yes please! Whether with this or other writing projects, I wish you much success in the new year.

35:

Ordered on Amazon. (They call this pre-ordering, for some reason that obviously has more to do with marketing than proper use of the English language.)

I always enjoy doing this, because it means that at some point in the not-so-near future, I will be surprised by a brand-new and much anticipated book appearing in my Kindle app. It's always a surprise, because the lead times are long enough that, by the time the book comes, I have always completely forgotten the release date.

36:

"Peter Pan" -- the original by J. M. Barrie (which was extremely dark)

Peter Pan is a much greater work of literature than it usually gets credit for being. I have had this discussion with numerous people who are sure it is a bit of childish tripe. What these people have in common is that they're so sure it's tripe they haven't bothered to read it.

Actually, they're half right -- it is childish, but in a way no other book I've read is. Barrie describes children as "gay and innocent and heartless". Getting that right (or trying to) is what makes the book as dark as it is.

37:

Goodness, thank you, Charlie!

Consensus is that it works best if you start with book 1 ("The March North") but that you can start with book 2 ("A Succession of Bad Days") if military fantasy puts you off.

These are all written with strict in-character narration and are intended to be immersive but there is a strong consensus that you have to work for it. (And nearly as strong a consensus that you keep it; people find re-reading much easier and generally rewarding, which makes me happy because the books are all intended to be able to support re-reading.)

Book 1/The March North has a military focus. (And you meet people you will see more of later.)

Book 2/A Succession of Bad Days is about going to sorcery school.

Book 3/Safely You Deliver is about leaving sorcery school

Book 4/Under One Banner is about artillery and what you do after trauma

Book 5/A Mist of Grit and Splinters is the new one; it's (mostly) from the viewpoint of Operational Excellence Barbie. It's entirely from a military viewpoint; the in-world thematic interrogation of iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles.

Books 2 and 3 form a thematic pair; books 4 and 5 form a thematic pair. (6 and 7 might, too, and then 1 and 8, but that's getting rather forward-looking. Writing things changes one's understanding of what exactly one is trying to do by writing.)

38:

Presuming Charlie's indulgence, here, but:

http://dubiousprospects.blogspot.com/2018/09/where-to-get-my-books.html

"Google Play" and "a bunch of Draft2Digital targets including Apple and Kobo". No Amazon.

39:

To the extent that I feel like I've got my own head around it enough to say anything about it, Dead Lies Dreaming isn't in the same specific genre as a Laundry book as we have known them.

The Laundry has the basic Cthulhu mythos objective of keeping from being dragged into the unknown and incomprehensible; they can measure their success by how far the needle of normalcy moved. They've got the institutional context as their choice of normalcy against which to measure.

The characters in Dead Lies Dreaming have no such context; they're trying to cope with personal history, the awful consequences of various enforced prescriptive norms, and the general short-term personal-scale exigencies of continuing to live. The feel is different and (to my reading) the sense of risk is much greater.

40:

From Wikipedia "A pre-order is an order placed for an item that has not yet been released."

They go on to discuss reasons why the concept exists (mostly to do with getting accurate sales numbers...)

41:

+100% on the Graydon. I preordered last night (this morning, really) after I got home from a New Years Eve Party.

Not sure I completely agree with the Mary-Sue characterization of the sorcery school candidates. They are shown to pay a great price for being so highly powered. Part of the price that they must pay is that a single misstep would be fatal to them - not just in learning the magic, but in applying the magic. Apply it in an illegal way, and the full resources of the state (including some other Deeply Scary Sorcerers) will be used to hunt you down and kill you.

You see some of the effects of this at play on a different character in book 4.

42:

In magic-related fiction, with great power there must come a sense of great personal jeopardy, otherwise it sacrifices dramatic tension. Unless you're writing competence porn, that is, or a particularly dull LitRPG.

(Graydon's magic system tends to be "we are researching the chemistry of atomic fluorine in the mid-19th century" in terms of jeopardy: you can follow progress in the field by reading the obituary columns, more or less.)

NB: someone a couple of weeks ago emailed me asking for a book rec thread. This is not that thread, but I really ought to set one up in the next week or so.

43:

Mary Poppins ... was, indeed, quite narcissistic and egocentric, ... And it would be more proper to consider her a minor goddess than a witch. (She is, after all, supposed to be related to the Sun.)

Yes. One can perceive her charisma, and why the Banks kids love her, despite her severity.

Yet Charlie's point that the movie destroyed the character still holds. I loved the books when I was a kid, and I hated, hated, HATED the movie, which came out when I was eight. (The first one, with Julie Andrews. Haven't seen the more recent Emily Blunt incarnation.) It totally misrepresented her.

Disney has a lot to answer for in this respect.

44:

Disney butchered virtually every piece of folklore or pre-existing fiction he got his hands on. I don't really care about the stuff he invented himself -- he was entitled to do whatever he wanted with The Rat -- but his versions of the classic fairy tales are saccharine and bowdlerized, and it only gets worse the more modern the IP.

Happy thought: thanks to the Disney/Universal merger, apparently Ripley's Alien now fits the canonical definition of a Disney Princess? Or at least an evil queen.

45:

The sugar-coating and other hang-ups about death was very much a 19th century phenomenon in Britain, and didn't apply in all contexts even then. It may have been a bit later or more localised in the USA, but there's a reference in the Grapes of Wrath.

Re #44: I haven't seen the Disney crap, but even the Water Babies isn't as saccharine as it is often believed to be.

46:

I'm just going to note that in British (and American) 19th century culture sex was taboo, but death was accompanied by lots of crass commercialism, elaborate mourning rituals, subtle gradations of mourning costumes, peripheral industries (stonemasons? professional mourners?) and so on.

Whereas today porn is everywhere and sexuality is something we talk about, but death is unspeakable, hidden away and not acknowledged except when it's unavoidable.

47:

I read The Water Babies as a kid and it terrified me. Saccharine? Nope.

48:

Charlie
In magic-related fiction, with great power there must come a sense of great personal jeopardy Saruman ... & Gandalf, too.
death is unspeakable, hidden away and not acknowledged except when it's unavoidable.
But ... death IS unspeakable .... & also unavoidable. I lost another very good friend fractionally over a year ago - another one younger than me, too.
In spite of the pain, I hope to be the last one standing.
RAGE against the dying of the light!

49:

On my "to-do (maybe)" list for this series is something provisionally flagged as "the Water Babies (with Deep Ones)".

Trouble is, I'd have to re-read the Water Babies before I could write it. Gaah.

50:

It's not my choice of a series title,

What would you have titled it?


@46: but death was accompanied by lots of crass commercialism,

Including commemorative photos of dead babies.

51:

Dead Lies Dreaming" / "Meat Lies Bleeding" / Heart steams pumping ... or something equally gruesome, then?
[ As in "Heart of Darkness" of course, dealing with slavery except, except ....maybe a cross-cultural to Aztec or other S american practices ... or something ... via, perhaps Conan Doyle's "Lost World"]

52:

The Wizards School/Magic Academy is a big thing in Japanese light novels, manga and anime right now, slipstreaming off the isekai parallel-worlds megaboom/industry. It adds rules to magic with is otherwise a chaotic system, pupils and teachers, stuff written down for the edification of the survivors and successors as well as providing a playground for the writer to have jolly japes and perils aplenty while knowing it will all be over and done with by the time the school bell rings for supper. I blame JK Rowling.

Most of these stories are quite bad, one or two are excellent. I recommend the manga Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride). The series' storyline is currently progressing through a Magical College arc -- the College in question is a combination of a babysitting service, academic research institute, vocational training school, long-term care home for PTSD survivors and and oubliette for assorted existential dangers to the public/planet/universe. It's turning out better than I originally expected in that regard.

53:

As it happens, there are some Aztec-descended ritual practices involved (because Lovecraftian worship overlaps with other cults, and the Spanish conquistadores picked up some useful techniques in Mesoamerica and reimported them back to Spain, suitably adapted to their own purposes (quick: everybody say "cultural appropriation" right now), which goes some way to explaining the persistence and severity of the Spanish Inquisition in the Laundry universe) ...

54:

Yes, sort-of, though not quite. I agree about the shift in what was and is regarded as obscene, and the latter is what I was referring to by "other hang-ups", but death was also a great unmentionable in the 19th century in some contexts.

I was referring to the way death was mentioned (or not) TO children, especially the death OF children. It was extremely common to simply deny that it happened, especially w.r.t. stillbirths. And I don't see any of the children's works referred to as providing any kind of a serious explanation of death, so much as an attempt to sugar-coat it, almost deny its finality.

My recollection of the Water Babies from a VERY long time back is that it wasn't as bad as it is often painted. I can't say I am enthused to reread it, though.

55:

Charlie - yep, the people. Ycts remind me of what Lawrence Watt-Evens and Joshua Bilmas have told me about a query letter: emphasize the people, not the gosh-wow story.

At the end of the day, the story is about people in a situation, and how they deal with it. If you don't care about them, you'll find the story not good.

56:

I think I’m safe in saying most of us Americans are fairly unfamiliar with “The Water Babies” (have heard of it but not read), so just looked it up, and Ick. All the prerequisite Victorian racism & anti-semitism. No thanks.

57:

Take all the time you need. I know from caregiver stress.

On a personal note, I love that you know the term "competence porn". It's one of my favorite underrated storytelling concepts (along with "rescue fiction").

58:

"Children as gay, innocent and heartless" - well, young, they think they're immortal, the center of their world is their parents, and they don't know what they're doing.

Kids in middle/jr high school are as bad as humans get, normally....

59:

Oh. Great.

I'm still considering, the first book, but I've come to *really* dislike military sf. I haven't seen enough military fantasy, though I'm not sure that military sf isn't fantasy... or, as I've started referring to it, war porn.

60:

The March North uses the "high competence/bad odds" formula of the genre, but I am pretty sure it's not war porn. Where the dead get buried is an overt part of the text.

61:

Several things - incredible power can't be limitless nor not dangerous, by definition. I mean, you don't want to make a typo or error in wiring when you're say, working on a nuclear bomb, or a Mars lander.

For another, IMO the reason that magic users in this world are so attacked by established religions is that because it can have real serious results, they of course only want licenses magic users (i.e., priests) to use it. Can't let the hoi polloi use it, I mean, who knows what could happen (the peasants are revolting!).

Finally, when I used to D&D, back in the late seventies, I came up with a magic spell point system that the guys I played with liked: a magic user had spell points equivalent to their intelligence and constitution, while a cleric had the for constitution and wisdom (which made those two stats make sense). What this meant was, say, a high-level magic user could use Earthquake... um, and then, er, sleep! sleep! sleep!, no doing two or three high-level spells without falling unconscious or dying.

62:

Yeah, well, you can't forget that US prudes are more Victorian than the Victorians. I think they not only deny evolution, but really *mean* it when they say we're not "animals", and treat the fact that they were born because their parents got laid as "fake news".

63:

Nah. Many of the Victorians were as bad, but the UK has (mostly) learnt better.

W.r.t. Graydon's work, I don't regard the March North as war porn, either, but it does have enough in common with it that you might prefer to go straight to a Succession of Bad Days. I agree with you about the jingoistic and sadistic crap that dominates "military SF", and even most of the better stories have an indecent obsession with gore and slaughter (and grandiose technology for slaughter).

64:

I was at a sister school of the one William Golding taught at, and my reaction on reading the Lord of the Flies was "how naive".

65:

I've come to *really* dislike military sf.

I'm guessing what you hate is militarism sf -- that is, glorification of the ideology of might-makes-right, obedience, discipline, the whole nine yards that get romanticized and packaged and turned into fascism.

"The March North" is totally not that, although it examines those tropes (critically). It also does something pretty unique in high fantasy in my reading experience, which is to ask what an Enlightenment-type project might look like in a universe where some people are supremely powerful magicians, and other folks have no magic at all.

66:

That, and the attitude of whatever military the author's writing are ALWAYS perfect, there's never any collateral damage, much less friendly fire, to the point where they become Mary Sues (which is why I stopped reading Honor Harrington around book 5 or so, not to mention his Rob S. Pierre being *really* low-quality cardboard).

Having come of age during 'Nam, and paying attention to the news, and having been active in the Movement, I have *very* little patience for that crap... and I have friends who were in combat in 'Nam.

I'll probably look at the Commonweal, though I really need to finish the Compton-Crook nominee I'm reading.

67:

I dunno.

A long time ago, I came to understand the Russian proverb of "We will bury you". It was years later that I came to realize how much a curse on yourself that is - to outlive all your friends, all your enemies, anyone that has mattered to you?

Thank you, no. As my late mother-in-law said, when she was up to Chi-town after her daughter, my late wife, dropped dead, "a parent shouldn't have to outlive their children."

68:

I have just struggled through a particularly stupid and pointless chapter in the book I'm probably about to stop reading that I'm not even sure counts as war porn so much as authorial incompetence. I *think* the author is trying to emphasise that the protagonist is a moral and ethical person who would rather think his way through problems than just blow shit up. But instead we get a tedious inner monologue of the form "should I become a suicide bomber. I'm here, I have the bomb, I should do it. Or not?" ... about 1/3 of the way through book two of a five+ book series. But there's no alternate viewpoint characters established, and few sympathetic ones that we could switch to. So I'm sitting there going "if he does blow himself up, then where does the book go?" and trying not to eyeroll too badly.

Also "grav boots" do not Superman make.

69:

They'd matte dead family members into photos. (Sort of like Photoshop, but a century before computers. It's fairly obvious.)

70:

I'm guessing what you hate is militarism sf -- that is, glorification of the ideology of might-makes-right, obedience, discipline, the whole nine yards that get romanticized and packaged and turned into fascism.

This. Also the racism substitutes, the alien invaders always getting nicknames like Bugs or Snakes, etc. Never saw much difference between that and real life dehumanizing names used in the past, except that in MilSF they’re not actually human.


Meanwhile, saw final installment of Big Name Space Opera this afternoon, somewhat surprised to see Charlie’s pick for Angleton as an Imperial General. Whenever he was on screen was picturing him in that role, unlikely but would definitely be a good choice if a Laundry series ever actually goes into production.

71:

I actually think any fantasy or scifi book about “the military” vs just phew phew derringdo is extremely hard to write, which probably goes a long way toward explaining why most of them are so so bad. It’s an incredibly complex subject and too easy to either jump to the extreme of glorifying or villifying

About the only close to competent take I’ve seen is “the black company “

72:

Charlie Stross @ 21:Graydon doesn't sell his books via Amazon. Your best bet is to buy it on the Google Play store, then download the (DRM-free) epub, which will be readable on anything that can display epub files.

Graydon @ 38: Presuming Charlie's indulgence, here, but:

http://dubiousprospects.blogspot.com/2018/09/where-to-get-my-books.html

"Google Play" and "a bunch of Draft2Digital targets including Apple and Kobo". No Amazon.

So, is there any place a confirmed, curmudgeonly luddite like myself who still desires the feel of an actual book with paper pages I can turn can find a physical copy?

Or alternatively, is there any software that an end user like myself can afford that will allow me to take non-DRM Epub text and print it out in quires (I think that's the word) so I can stitch up a book for myself?

I just like reading books as books better than I like reading books on a screen.

73:

Charlie Stross @ 44: Happy thought: thanks to the Disney/Universal merger, apparently Ripley's Alien now fits the canonical definition of a Disney Princess? Or at least an evil queen.

It's not just the Xenomorphs.

https://www.cbr.com/movie-creatures-who-are-now-disney-princesses/


74:

I see your point; some of us find e-readers uncomfortable to both hold and look at. These are not good characteristics in a "machine for reading".

75:

Or alternatively, is there any software that an end user like myself can afford that will allow me to take non-DRM Epub text and print it out in quires (I think that's the word) so I can stitch up a book for myself?

In principle, EPUB -> HTML via Pandoc and then importing into Scribus would let you print a book. (I am eliding a lot of "learn scribus"; see for example https://onebookshelfpublisherservice.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360022742353-Preparing-Your-Book-For-Print-with-Scribus )

Pandoc and Scribus are both open source, so no upfront monetary costs for software.

This is something resembling work. The professional design to produce a pleasant book is more work still.

Dumping EPUB to ODT ("Open Document Text"), opening that in Libreoffice, and printing it won't produce a book but it's simpler and legible and (in my case) makes for a serious-paranoia paper backup copy.

76:

"The March North" etc ... want to read, but the Google Play bit seems odd - though having it on this machine to read might be useful.
Wants me to log in & register & stuff - except I thought "G" would recongnise me anyway ... um.
I might have to get a Tablet, just to read books, before much longer .... [ However, paws @ 74 may think otherwise ] .. ummm, errr ....
Alternatively, I coiuld always tAry to find an actual bookshop that sells his stuff in London ... or the UK for that matter. - see also JBS @ 72

77:

Google Play is Google's store for Android phones/tablets. Sells software, games, music, movies, ebooks.

Yes, your regular google account should work as login credentials. But you'll also need to give it a payment method. My rec is either feed it with gift cards (you can buy them online from amazon, paypal, etc., then punch the code into the Play store somewhere), which is fine if you only use it for occasional one-offs, or, if expect to use it regularly, register a credit/debit card, then set up two-factor authentication. (Seriously. And not using SMS messages to a mobile phone number as the co-factor: mobile phone hijacking is a thing.)

78:

It's slightly annoying to me that I can't set google to require two factor authentication when I spend money, although given that my phone won't talk to it that may be vaguely useful. OTOH, it was ridiculously easy to set up my yubikeys with it and they seem to actually work. Then I lost a yubikey (along with my handbag, keys, cards etc, but luckily not my phone). Anyway, disabling the lost key and adding the replacement was also straightforward.

Because anyone who buys *one* hardware authenitcation token is just asking for it.

79:

The March North is a LOT better than that, though there still a lot of wholesale slaughter and weaponry for same. And its ethical approach is MUCH better than the sort of book you describe.

And a Succession of Bad Days is nothing like that at all.

80:

I looked at Google Play once... it was a few years ago, so this isn't up to date, but since the trend on the internet is for everything to get more and more wretchedly unusable over time and Google are leaders and drivers of the trend, chances are it's even worse now... I needed some publication the reading of which was on the critical path for some larger project, but even though it was free you couldn't just download a .zip of it from a plain link on the originator's site, you had to go to either Google Play or the Apple equivalent which is even worse and get fucked around from here to Sunday by all the stupid obstacles they have to make it more difficult to get the very stuff they only exist to make gettable in the first place.

Yes, log in, register, account, track, snoop, pry, and all that, no, just fuck off, I don't have to deal with any of that scrotal scurf buying real books from an actual bookshop so I don't see why I should try and deal with it online, especially when the thing I wanted didn't even need to be paid for anyway.

So, make a fake account, with much swearing, but then I still couldn't just download the thing, because the site tries to deny the existence of anything that isn't a phone and refuses to tell a browser how to issue the download request. So the next step was something stupid like having to download whatever crappy software for a phone the site was insisting you used, then decompile it and poke through several megabytes of bleeding java looking for where that did the request and working out how it derived the parameters for it.

At any rate I ended up giving up and waiting until a copy showed up on some hooky site, which fortunately didn't take more than a few days, because it was so much easier than circumventing all the deliberate stupid obstacles Google Play insisted on hassling me with. And ever since then, if anything I've wanted isn't officially available except on Google Play and its ilk then I've looked for a pirate version instead as my primary option. Or if (as here) that option is closed, I just do without.

Amazon's equivalent of Google Play is fractionally better, as in it's the same stupid bloody dance but the code is a little easier to analyse so I got the answer before I got to the point of giving up. And then there was another very similar dance to convert the downloaded material into a form I could actually read. But it still isn't remotely worth the hassle compared to looking for a pirate version instead.

I love JBS's idea of printing stuff out in the appropriate layout to be folded and cut into a book, but it's horribly impractical - for a start you need huge sheets of paper and a huge printer to cope with them. And I've found that when printing out technical manuals and stuff it's not worth trying anything fancier than plain single-sided A4. Even something as simple as printing on both sides of the paper invariably fails when the printer misfeeds part way through printing the second sides and buggers all the rest of it up.

So what this all adds up to is that I'm another one who wants to know where I can buy Graydon's work on paper.

81:

"I just like reading books as books better than I like reading books on a screen."

Yes, and also, if I care enough about something to be paying money for it then I want something I can pick up and hold, not something that requires a machine to even detect its existence.

82:

Yes and no. The real failing of most military SF is that it treats the aforementioned tropes as the point, rather than being a generally unpleasant necessity, and glorifies them. Most works that avoid that remain at least readable. I find depictions of bloodshed, cruelty and bigotry distasteful at best, and simply do not understand the way that many people fetishise weaponry (or cars, for that matter).

Derringdo is similar, though usually less disastefully bloodthirsty, but too many authors make their hero(ine)s so capable and lucky that they fall into the trap that whitroth mentioned in #66.

83:

Hey Charlie, Thanks for sharing your writing plans, I’m just going to set up a vague happy retirement for Bob & Mo, perhaps on the outskirts of Dunwich.
However I have an issue which you may be able to help with. Can you point me towards a method of leaving a message for Freya with the key code to the bitcoin wallet I have set up in her name? It has 10BTC credit now in 2020 but as slow money, compound interest will ensure her safety if she can only access it!
I have to acknowledge a major crush, inappropriate in a bio-cellular entity of a certain age!
I suspect you are protecting your own feelings towards her by focusing on other narrative ‘verses but please believe I am not a rival for her affection, only one of the many who nurture her gentle resilience in our core identity.
Regards Neil.

84:

Re: Military SF
Peter Watts wrote "Crysis: Legion", a rather unusual military SF story, without any attempt to glorify the mess.
It turns out the xenomorph-like murdering thingies are androids created and mass-produced by a local Alien AI in response to humans stumbling on hardware intended for making an continuous inventory of the useful biomolecules constantly created by a planet-wide biosphere (the only reason why aliens might be interested in Earth).

And the AI is not programmed for warfare, but has to improvise using whatever local information there is, resulting in hardware that actually is not that far ahead of human weapons.
We are not fighting the aliens themselves, we are fighting their *roombas*!
This little gem contained the answers to two big problems with all military SF ever written.

85:

"Also "grav boots" do not Superman make."

I blame the ancient Greeks. If their legends had depicted their divine messenger as dangling upside down from the sky by his ankles, flailing around all over the place as he struggles to right himself and crashing into things, we wouldn't still be having the problem now.

86:

"Children as gay, innocent and heartless" has always been true, and pretty much will continue to be. Children tick every box on the "sociopath" checklist, because they literally cannot conceive of other people being actual people like themselves. Partly this is physiology of brain development, but also there's a very large element of empathy being a learnt response, from parents and teachers saying "you wouldn't like it if they did it to you, would you?" And with it being a learnt response, many schemes for reducing reoffending (especially for crimes of impulse such as sex-related offenses) focus on establishing those responses.

OGH's final section of "Accelerando" is as perfect (and disturbing) an illustration of consequence-free childhood play as it gets.

87:

Oh, and BTW on "militarism SF", there still don't seem to be many authors taking the negative aspects of that as seriously as the original Warhammer 40,000 authors did, back in the mid-80s. Or 2000AD comics, for that matter.

88:

You sort of have to wonder about where the HH series went wrong. The Honor of the Queen is an immensely readable book, with a protagonist who has both real weaknesses and real strengths, to the point where I read that book so many times that I literally killed the binding and had to buy another copy... while the later books in the series are so bad you might as well skip the step of reading them and simply bring them home for use as firewood!

89:

Somewhere in there, Weber lost several close friends and was injured. The injury changed his writing process and habitual recreation. That's all public record.

I suspect what happened from a textual perspective is a combination of forced process change, a hit to the brain chemistry -- the effort difference between writing and your best writing is large! things happen in middle age that make it either less possible or impossible to do your prime-of-life best writing! -- and a loss of important feedback/first readers.

Plus somewhere in there, Baen-the-publisher stopped editing as they couldn't find it having any commercial return. This is not a function of Weber selling well; it was (and so far as I know, is) general.

Oh, and the cultural norm for stories changed. 9/11 changed American genre expectations in ways that I rarely see being consciously addressed.

Readers mostly make the story up; the text isn't going to be all of it ever and probably isn't most of it. What you get as an audience and what you have for context change what's effective writing. There's a lot of worldview affirmation reading going on.

(We can see this in the Laundry's progression very clearly in the series narrative's loss of axiomatic institutional competence, for example.)

I don't want to go all worst-timeline (I'm a child of the Cold War; this is not the worse timeline) but the idea that events don't feed back into art, or that the Forever War doesn't effect the audience or tropes of the MilSF genres won't stand up.

90:

They certainly crapped up before 9/11. The other issues you've raised are probably more important, particularly the editing questions for someone who obviously can't self-edit.

On the other hand, maybe we'll get some more Empire of Man books. I enjoyed those.

91:

I mean, now that HH is done.

Meanwhile, I'm definitely looking forward to Dead Lies Dreaming. I like the ambiguity of the title.

92:

(We can see this in the Laundry's progression very clearly in the series narrative's loss of axiomatic institutional competence, for example.)

Hell, yes.

In the late 90s, when I was writing "The Atrocity Archive", the Cold War had ended a decade earlier, taking away the Evil Empire™ prop of the USSR (which was a pretty piss-poor evil empire adversary in the first place, compared to the Third Reich, but served for a couple of generations of conservative thriller writers). Adding in Lovecraftian horrors gave me a decent adversary -- nobody finds tentacular people-eating monsters sympathetic. But over the next two decades we had a huge cultural shift: first 9/11 made terrorists non-quaint (and actually scary) for a few years, then we had the Iraq and Afghanistan messes to make imperialism bad again, extraordinary rendition and GWB to give the US new world order a really sinister visage, then the steady drip of leaks (Snowden, wikileaks, Manning, Reality Winner), then massive levels of corruption in public office showing up everywhere after 2008.

By 2015 it was glaringly obvious that the west was morally bankrupt, the east was no better, we had met the enemy, and he was us. Oh, and climate change is the new, inexorable ultimate enemy, and we created it. CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is a great metaphor for anthropogenic climate change, and the New Management for corruption in government and the alt-right: but the institution I started storytelling about has outlived its use.

93:

@36 writes

Barrie describes children as "gay and innocent and heartless". Getting that right (or trying to) is what makes the book as dark as it is

"Accelerando" featured an unforgettable scene towards the end, of children tormenting a playmate by burning him to death, then bringing him back to life once more by ordering the synthetic environment ("House" was it's name) to produce another copy of the kid, by using a backup file from just prior to the incident. That way they could enjoy their game all over again and he went home afterwards none the wiser. I'd say Charlie pretty well nailed the topic, better even than Golding's "Lord of the Flies".
Somewhere I read the idea of Victorians treating children like miniature adults, as opposed to modern usage of referring to our "inner child", like the joke about how every octagenarian contains a six year old wondering what the hell just happened. Hard to say which view is truer, anthropological research does indeed show prehistoric life to have been nasty, brutish and short,and most historical records are replete with atrocities, so that would support a view of no big difference between kids and grownups. But the ability of shocking tales to startle and repel the imagination implies maybe we've outgrown some of our worst inclinations, or modified the natural inborn viewpoint somewhat on reaching adulthood. Pinker makes persuasive arguments in his books that civilization really does tend to civilize people, in which case maybe the Victorians are overruled and we moderns win the argument. We just never shake that perplexed inner voice, is all.
Could make a funny sci-fi story in the style of Ted Chiang's what- if -popular- misconceptions- were- true fantasies: fMRI scans prove Descartes was right, there actually is a little homonculus buried in your brain tissue somewhere, surgical removal of which provides instant relief from nagging self recriminations. Doctor Feelgood recommends!

94:

One thing to realize is that the "inner child" meme may well come out of the old alchemical traditions. I've been reading a book (Schipper's The Taoist Body) that has inner child terminology all over the place. In the form of Taoism he's talking about, the inner child is part of visualization exercises meant to lead toward spiritual immortality or some such. It's also a code that you've got to pay your dues to learn, and the exercises are presented as a very long poem that has to be decoded, rather than a technical manual

I'd also point out that the whole Taoist "become like a child so that stuff happens as if on its own" may be badly misunderstood (at least, I misunderstood it). In the West, we use a different phrase: practice until it's second nature and you don't have to think about it when you do it. For some reason, the Taoists thought that the result of massive amounts of practice was how one attained the natural state, not that children were born that way and lost their nature as they grew older. I'm not saying that the Taoist version of "massive cultivation=nature" is any better than the European Romantic tradition of "nature=the eternal past and man ruined it." It's more that, if Schipper is right, we can fool ourselves badly by carelessly translating between these two intellectual traditions.

In any case, Pratchett, I think, was having his usual and perceptive fun with this. He's right in a sense, but I think there's a good case that what he's saying and what the original authors were saying were substantially different.

95:

I find depictions of bloodshed, cruelty and bigotry distasteful at best, and simply do not understand the way that many people fetishise weaponry (or cars, for that matter).

While I've played a lot of computer games, and I still do, I find that much of the current games are too (personally) violent for me, nowadays. For example, if a game is a 'roleplaying game' it usually seems to mean that they player characters need to fight and kill a lot of things which probably wouldn't want to be killed. And of course most shooter games are kind of difficult when one doesn't want to shoot anything.

On the other hand, I can still play empire-type games, like Stellaris, which is a space empire building game with lots of options. Pushing the button or giving the order is not that bad...

With less interactive media, it's the same for me - all those things are usually a fast turn-off.

96:

I can see a lot of fun in a Laundry style reimagining of Joseph Conrad, particularly the more overtly/unconsciously Orientalist novels.

The Mandate turning out to be an Elder version of Lord Jim would be delightful though hard to pull off.

I have occasionally thought that Heart of Darkness would make a great template for a trip to Florida to see the MOUSE, or better yet the Duck.

Mikko at #95 - There is apparently a person who spends endless hours trying to complete various video games as a pacifist. Since few games are set up that way it is obviously quite difficult.

I now find very little interest in watching almost all movies that deal with seemingly invincible morally perfect supersoldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice for [reason] that saves everything. This accounts for about 97% of American 'action' move output at this point - particularly the military oriented wanking that happens in Hollywood. Equally unwatchable are the hitman/criminal/hardcase with heart of gold and apparent superpowers that slaughters everyone because [slightly justified reason].

97:

Yep, saw Episode IX Monday, and was very pleased. Turning the power back, rather than direct whack... and the very end was absolutely *perfect*.

I did have issues with a landspeeder doing maybe 30mph, shot, they go flying, and then get up and walk away; also with it being *awfully* fast between star systems.

98:

I wound up going to Angus Robertson, which wound up sending me to Kobo. Bought it on Kobo (after resetting my password - I'd had a Kobo for a few years, until they completely and totally fucked up the interface to unusability). Then you have to log into your Kobo account (wasn't I already there when I bought it?), and sync and other options and ... menu to get to "download".

99:

Calibre. There's releases for all o/s (I'm on CentOS Linux, not Ubuntu). Converts to whatever.

100:

He was a God, not some stupid clueless, unbalanced human. Besides, the Greeks didn't have any idea about the gyro stabilizers in the shoes.

101:

Calibre is the tool for converting between ebook formats, no question.

For laying out a book for printing, it's not what I'd use, or what I'd expect could be used with success.

102:

You'll get vastly better fiction about non-normative sexuality when those of us with non-normative sexuality aren't hiding for our lives, and since I'm one of the people rising authoritarian movements would generally like to suppress, I also think it would be vastly better to have my life and no good queer fiction than the reverse.

In any case, there already *is* good queer fiction pushing boundaries being published. Making it harder to talk openly about queerness will only make it harder to publish good queer fiction.

103:

Victorians treating children as little adults.... Well, for one thing, they will grow up, and they were showing them what adults should do.

Now, what *they* showed the kids, and what, say, I or Ellen showed our kids, is vastly different.

On the other hand, vastly too many people in the last century or so treat children as stupid, rather than ignorant. Tolkien complains about this in his essay, "On Fairy Stories", and decries stories, etc, where they talk down to kids.

Btw, I'm reminded of a short story from a long time ago, where we invent a machine that reproduces everything perfectly, including on stored data. As our viewpoint character makes his way along, he runs across a couple that does all sorts of stuff, sex, food, everything... and at the end of the day, throws themselves back into the machine, and are reproduced, with no memory of the previous day, and so are never bored by what they do.

There are adults who'd do that.

104:

Keithmasterson
every octagenarian contains a six year old wondering what the hell just happened.
ME!
Well - in my case a 16-26 year old wondering - - - WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK? ( I'm 74 in 10 days time, yeah )
We just never shake that perplexed inner voice ... as in: "Some complete bastards stole my future & I want it back ... " - yes?

105:

Absolutely agreed.

There's a lot to be said for living in any society where neither comedy nor workarounds like science fiction or fantasy are necessary to allow people to talk about anything they think is important in their lives, whether it's their gender identity, sexual preferences, climate change, evolution, religious belief or lack thereof. The only good thing (for a very unsatisfactory value of good) is that when such freedom is not possible, SFF is available as a workaround, albeit one that's highly unsatisfactory one.

106:

This is NOT the Real 21st Century. I want the Real one back *NOW*, thankyouveddymuch.

And which way to the ticket counter for the Pan Am shuttle to the Wheel...?

107:

There are plenty of worse 21st centuries out there. The one in which Able Archer '83 turned hot and about 30,000 H-bombs went off in October-November 1983, for starters. Or the one in which Hitler listened to his generals and those of us who were even born (hint: not me) would be living under the iron jackboot of the Third Reich or its client and successor states. Or the one in which the 1918 Spanish 'flu killed 30-50% of Earth's population rather than 3-5% (hint: the black death went the distance), thereby triggering a mini-ice age similar to the late 16th century one (due to a stark drop-off in carbon emissions) followed by a re-run of the first half of the 17th century (hint: which featured wars and famines with a per capita adjusted death toll that made the 20th century look merciful), arriving around the same time as nukes.

This really isn't the best, but it's a very long way from being the worst.

108:

And which way to the ticket counter for the Pan Am shuttle to the Wheel...?

Agreed wholeheartedly. And can we have the version of that reality without the scary alien monoliths?

109:

“ While I've played a lot of computer games, and I still do, I find that much of the current games are too (personally) violent for me, nowadays. For example, if a game is a 'roleplaying game' it usually seems to mean that they player characters need to fight and kill a lot of things which probably wouldn't want to be killed.”

Disco Elysium is for you

110:

In any case, there already *is* good queer fiction pushing boundaries being published.

Gideon the Ninth!

111:

Heh, heh, heh.

I've spent part of today working on my history of the next 11,000 years. (It might make things easier for me if I had decided on 9,000, or maybe 8,000, but that's what I started with...).

Wait till we meet the *real* thing, the Advanced Intelligences. (Admittedly, according to me, we don't actually get in serious contact with them for another, um, 4300 years, so just chill out, take a toke, sit back and wait.)

112:

...with it being *awfully* fast between star systems.

Yeah, I liked it, thought it was a fairly satisfying end. Though there were a few cutesy moments, and the hyperspace travel was too instant—all that jumping and they didn’t end up in the middle of a star, but always in the middle of something? But I don’t watch the series for plausibility.

113:

Disco Elysium is for you

Yeah, you're not the first person to say that! Five hours (real-time) played already, and I did find a plastic bag.

It was sold to me as "kind of an rpg" but it feels to me more like the classic Sierra and Lucasfilm adventure games.

To the topic of this blog entry, thanks for reminding me, I did pre-order the book after reading this one.

114:

So - now we know how DT expects to "win" this year's election ... A Short Victorious War
Oh shit.

JPR & whitroth
You are oviously taking about a recent/the latest "Star Wars" flim ... but I gave up some years back - number 4 or 5 in the order in which they were made ... which one are we talking about, since the numbering is ... peculiar.

115:

I can see a lot of fun in a Laundry style reimagining of Joseph Conrad ... I have occasionally thought that Heart of Darkness would make a great template for a trip to Florida to see the MOUSE...

You may not know it but you're thinking of At The Mountains of Cuteness. It's a delightful tentacle-in-cheek spoof of a another familiar style of story, too.

Bob, after his Escape from Puroland, would not enjoy reading it as much as you will.

116:

And can we have the version of that reality without the scary alien monoliths?

No. And rather than one big monolith safely buried under Tycho, there are billions of tiny black slabs, each containing an alien intellect vast, cool, and unsympathetic. There may be one in your pants pocket right now.

117:

Gideon the Ninth!

The book is a bit like a gift box of upscale candies that is infested with angry kraits. Candy yum, until one is bitten on the eyeball. If you’ve played Warhammer 40K and thought ​“this is way spikey and nihilistic, but it doesn’t have anywhere near enough horny, foul-mouthed lesbians,” I have the book for you. - James Nicoll

118:

I would love to add to this, but I’m happy just to point to it as something positive to remember.

It gets hard considering some of the better 20th and 21st centuries we might have had, of course. But you’re totally right that there are an infinite number of counterfactuals of any possible variant, therefore positive and negative are really quite troublesome and not very useful from a classificatory perspective.

119:

Meanwhile in the other world: Dominic Cummings is hiring super-talented weirdos and cites Gibson. See also Peter Woit’s comment on career opportunities in Not Even Wrong.

120:

On today's Trump-ordered murder

Per this report, General Suleimani was the leader of the actual military side of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and probably the second most powerful man in the Iranian system (which is opaque and multi-centric). The Supreme Leader has already promised retaliation, which isn't inexplicable; I think Trump's going to get a nasty shock, though.

I am boggled at Trump's stupidity, which is stupid on stilts even by Trump's standards. Has he totally not got a clue? Osama bin Laden was an ageing cult leader under house arrest in a kinda-friendly country where he'd out-stayed his welcome (an embarrassment to Pakistan, like Julian Assange in London); General Suleimani was the commander-in-chief of the main military service of the fricking Persian Empire, a nation with a nuclear fuel program and an industrial base. And Trump just ordered the equivalent of the USA assassinating Heinrich Himmler in 1940.

Assassins are cheap, and even a heavily defended target like the POTUS and entourage are vulnerable if you throw enough resources at them and have access to suicide attackers. More to the point, Trump has a huge threat surface: Mar-a-lago, his sons and daughter, spring to mind. I'd be totally unsurprised if one or more of Don Jr., Eric, Ivanka, or Jared Kushner are targeted: slightly more surprised if Mike Pence is targeted: I'm not sure they'll go after the Tangerine Shitgibbon himself -- blatantly assassinating a head of state is pretty much guaranteed to get you an all-out war -- but it's going to hurt.

For a bigger threat surface, just imagine what happens when car bombs begin exploding in the lobby of every Trump-branded building worldwide.

121:

I am boggled at Trump's stupidity, which is stupid on stilts even by Trump's standards. Has he totally not got a clue?

That's a rhetorical question, yes? I think it's well established that not only does he not have a clue but that he won't listen to anyone who does have a clue.

On the subject of clues, I've got no special insight into the inner workings of the Iranian government. (But I know this, so I'm ahead of Donald.) What may be a politically acceptable response for their domestic public opinion I can't say. One option that he's handed them is logically and legally possible: to ignore the political side entirely and charge Donald J. Trump, the admitted ringleader of an assassination plot, with premeditated murder[1].

Obviously the US would not extradite him. Neither would Russia. That's not the point. The fantasy for Trump and his supporters is that he's a big angry Alpha Male who gets to dump on enemies and little people with impunity; this does not mesh well with being a criminal on the run from the police.

Being a war president would be great fun for him and could only help his popularity. Being a wanted criminal would get up his nose for the rest of his life.

[1] I don't know the formal name for conspiracy to murder in the Iranian legal system but I'm sure it's illegal and that any Iranian prosecutor knows how to produce the correct paperwork.

122:

Eric
Dominnic Cummings is this cycles Stephen Gardiner ( Bish of Winchester (?) under Bloody Mary ) Oversaw numerous Da'esh style executions ... pushed the "return" of the "pure" state that had (not) previously existed ....

Charlie
Time for Iran to copy Tito, actually:
Stop sending people to kill me. We've already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle... If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send one to MoscowWashington, and I won't have to send a second.'
As long as THIS TIME, we refuse to be dragged in.

123:

If Iran assassinates a member of Trump's immediate family, it'll be the end of democracy in the USA. (Yeah, yeah, I know -- the USA has never been a democracy.)

124:

If Iran assassinates a member of Trump's immediate family...

For more fun, what if they arrest one of Trump's immediate family?

I don't know what, for example, Ivanka might have done to break Iranian law - but a motivated prosecutor can often find something. American (and "American") right wing media would be screamingly furious that someone would dare touch the Leader's family; all the real news services could get months of stories reporting on the ongoing trial, with lots of pictures of a Trump behind bars, a Trump in handcuffs, a Trump in a tiny cement cell...

125:

Does anyone else think Qassem Soleimani looked like Sean Connery?

I'm thinking it has to have chapped Trump's ass that this guy had such a made-for-TV-authority look. It sounds stupid (well, it IS stupid), but this is exactly the kind of thing that occupies what passes for his mind.

126:

I was thinking George Clooney myself.

As for targets, they could easily keep it strictly business. According to Google the US Army has 231 generals, and the majority will be on home soil. I don't doubt the Russians have a list of all their home addresses, nor that it's beyond Iran's abilities to get 231 two-man teams into the US. (You'd need to hit them all simultaneously, of course.)

127:

It occurs to me that if the Iranians don't want to escalate, they'd just play tit-for-tat and kill a high-ranking member of the US occupying forces in Iraq. "We did to you exactly what you did to us. Now we're even," could be their response.

Whether that would work or not (spoiler: it wouldn't), they'd have played the MAD game.

Is it any wonder that the Iranians are trying to get nukes? With those, even a nutter like Trump might hesitate. Or, more importantly, the people actually tasked with carrying out his orders might delay and wait for the Dear Leader to forget that he'd given the orders.

128:

There is no RealPolitik without a sense of consequences.

Trump's sense of consequences are purely around the risk of prison; he's had at least one medical event recently, and is cognitively impaired. He's never in his life been any good at relating events to anything except himself.

The folks around him are constrained to try to keep him out of prison when his choices of personnel have not been the best and when the god-king is at risk of drooling on his shoes. It's -- for everyone else -- the 2nd Best Swordsman proverb, writ very large; the best swordsman isn't worried about the second best, they're worried about the worst, because they have no idea what the idiot is going to do. That's diplomacy involving the US right now, for everyone. Ally? Enemy? Rational self-interest? none apply.

Iran can't ignore it -- their internal web of loyalties to power can't do it -- but they don't have to be stupidly violent. I would be quite surprised if it's bomb-Trump-hotels. They've done an effective job so far strategically, and their core strategic problem is the chunk of the US right who absolutely will not tolerate their existence for the vast crime of interfering with US extraction industry profits in the form of overthrowing the Shah. Nothing they can do will ever cause that US faction to accept the existence of the Islamic Republic; they're in, and know they are in, a death grapple with that faction. Blowing up hotels doesn't help them with that.

What they do depends on whether or not they think they can survive. (I would guess that they do, but I have no idea what their intelligence picture is showing them.)

From the US side, the Right Thing to do is to send Trump to the Hague; the US public wouldn't stand for it, but it's the correct thing to do.

If I was part of the Iranian state aparat and I had anything at all that I thought would make Trump's removal from office more likely, I would want to find an indirect way to release it. It's getting so pretty much everybody who isn't a US red state senator wants that, because this isn't good for business.

129:

Putin has a problem, now ...
Trump was/ishis patsy, who ohas just fucked up ... Putin does not want a mjor war, he wants lots of little distractions, so that he can nibble bits off & sow dissention. ( See also Turkey/Libya )
But a US/Iran major confrontation does not benefit him - the Iraninas won't rust that nice Mr P any more than they do DT.
Graydon has the right sow by the ear ... Dump as much incriminating, verifyable info on DT to the Dems & anyone else who will use it ...a.s.a.p. - before he starts a "Short Victorious War"

130:

Passing that info to the Democrats would not be a winning move, because a large portion of the US would instinctively call a Democrat a liar even if they said the sky was blue and the sun rose in the east. Dumping the incriminating files or videos on Reddit and using their Facebook bots to publicise it would be a more sound move. Assuming those files or videos exist, naturally.

131:

It's generally agreed that such files and videos exist. The Russians are well known for investing in such things years or decades in advance and Donald has spent time in Moscow. But if they have the famous "pee tape," what of it? Who'd care? We've all heard the "Grab 'em by the pussy" tape and his fans were fine with it.

Video of him taking instructions and conspiring with Putin might do it. Or might not.

If I were Putin I'd have stand-ins anyway, as decoys and for boring public appearances; surely they can find a decent Trump impersonator too. That would let Russia produce propaganda evidence for whatever seemed convenient even while both governments insisted with straight faces that the videos were "fake news." When people are going to call everything a lie anyway there's no reason not to lie about the lies...

132:

For a source most of us probably don't read much, the Times of Israel headline is France, Russia, and China condemn slaying of Soleimani as a destabilizing act.

133:

SS
And even effing Dominic Raab of the tories, here is going: "Don't let's be hasty!"

Of course, Saudi wants a war, to trash Iran, so they can be cock of the walk ... & that, if anything is the more worrying aspect, particularly as there is an almost 1400-year-old piece of religious venomous spite involved

134:

It wouldn't matter to him, of course. But his supporters have managed to write off the "grab'em by the pussy" tape as banter, and his use of prostitutes as unproven since the only evidence is the women's testimony. With more solid evidence I would expect things to go sideways fast, because his core supporters (and VP) are fundamentalist Christians. It may not get him impeached, because the Senate aren't likely to change horses that fast. But almost certainly it would lose him the upcoming election.

135:

Graydon @ 75:

"Or alternatively, is there any software that an end user like myself can afford that will allow me to take non-DRM Epub text and print it out in quires (I think that's the word) so I can stitch up a book for myself?"

In principle, EPUB -> HTML via Pandoc and then importing into Scribus would let you print a book. (I am eliding a lot of "learn scribus"; see for example https://onebookshelfpublisherservice.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360022742353-Preparing-Your-Book-For-Print-with-Scribus )

Pandoc and Scribus are both open source, so no upfront monetary costs for software.

This is something resembling work. The professional design to produce a pleasant book is more work still.

Dumping EPUB to ODT ("Open Document Text"), opening that in Libreoffice, and printing it won't produce a book but it's simpler and legible and (in my case) makes for a serious-paranoia paper backup copy.

Looks like Scribus is a 32 bit Mac only application, which might be a bit of a problem going forward even before the apparently steep learning curve.

The "EPUB to ODT" might work if it's not a LONG book. I have a duplexing laser printer, but that only means 100 pages takes 50 sheets of paper and there's still the problem with binding it into a book I can comfortably hold in my lap and read.

136:

My guess is very little terrorism which could justify an escalation. The leadership of Iran understands that Trump and the GOP would welcome a war as a distraction and re-election campaign.

However, forcing the US out of Iraq should be quite doable; shut off land routes and then squeeze bases.

137:

For a large number of reasons, I cannot follow your Himmler-analogy.

A better analogy would be the assassination of a above-government-level official strutting around in a disputed territory.

Something like an Austro-Hungarian Archduke parading through Sarajevo in the years before world war one for instance...

139:

"A better analogy would be the assassination of a above-government-level official strutting around in a disputed territory."

More like a high government official of country A who is visiting country B, an ally, conducted by country C.

140:

The numbering - Lucas never thought he could make all nine movies that he had in his head in the early 70's. What he went for was a takeoff on the old Republic serials, and the first one, AKA Episode IV, could have been the end of one serial.

If you saw Episode I, I can understand why you stopped - it was utter crap (now, with Pod Racer, the next new ride at Universal Studio Park, Florida!). Episode II was better, but Episode III was the one that I, personally, had been waiting for.

Of these last three, Episode VII was, ok, though there was oh, come on, that weapon, and... There's also a lack of comprehension as to how big a galaxy is. The last one, Episode VIII, wasn't bad. This current one, as I said, I really liked.

There was a lot of set up that was done mostly ok. Interestingly, though, there's no credit for the two minutes of Harrison Ford.

141:

That's silly. The minds measureless to man are probably lounging on the bed, napping. I mean, why are we here, if it wasn't that the cats domesticated us, so that they could live in a manner in which they intended to become accustomed to?

142:

With regard to Trump's killing of a high-ranking Iranian it's worth noting a couple things about the U.S. situation right now. The first is that the unredacted White House emails about Ukraine came out yesterday. The second is that someone claims to have found evidence that a Russian bank is backing Deutsche Bank's loans to Trump. So he's not just committing murder, he's wagging the dog.

The worst thing the Iranians could do to Trump is... nothing at all.

143:

It's worth remembering that, so far as the DoD is concerned, the US may well not have the resources, equipment, or people to invade Iran. If I had to guess, I'd say that's why we haven't gone to war with Iran yet.

Now, if this is correct, this is all bloody posturing, the US will play tit for tat with Iran, and the Iranians will do something involving killing lots of troops in Iraq or Afghanistan in a messy way to avenge their loss.

In some sick ways, quagmiring the US in two unwinnable wars is a good strategy for them, if they can keep the costs down for themselves.

Trouble is, as noted, that Trump isn't good at this kind of game, and he's got a pretty bad case of Dunning-Krueger coupled with a bad case of unpardonable impeachment, coupled with a re-election campaign, coupled with the inevitable mental and physical decay that the US Presidency brings out in everyone who holds that office, coupled with his own questionable state of health.

The question for the Iranians is, if they want to not look weak and to bleed the US, what's the best strategy? It might be to keep the US involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, hemorrhaging people, supplies, and readiness, and quite possibly to re-elect Trump if Ol' Orange-pussy demonstrates yet again that his only strategy is Bluster, BS and Settle, rather than escalate.

On the other hand, most of the democrats don't particularly want to play that game, they want to clean up the mess at home. So the possibilities for messing with elections are almost endless here.

And so it goes.

144:

Things I did not see coming: Famous American racist and all-around horrible person David Duke tweeted against Trump this morning, saying in part "Trump JUST SCREWED HIMSELF & US!"

Angry racists are Trump's core demographic; if he looses them he's down to Russian oligarchs and his immediate family.

Also, this shows that my time horizon for predicting things in politics is under twelve hours.

145:

For a large number of reasons, I cannot follow your Himmler-analogy.

Himmler turned the SS into a state-within-a-state within the Third Reich. It had duplicates of all the major agencies: a secret police force, its own army (up to and including Panzer divisions), factories and concentration camps. Everything. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard similarly has a whole shitload of duplicate infrastructure, logistics, and production facilities, as well as an army.

Hence the analogy I was trying for.

146:

Heteromeles
The Iranians SEEM to play almost exact tit-for-tat ...
"See we can do it TO YOU TOO!" As in downing PanAm over Lockerbie in retalition for the USS Vincennes screw-up ... you shot ONE airliner down, we shot ONE airliner down ....
So, whom do they knock off? Or is it just "Pick one of equivalent rank" ( = 3-star General/Vice-Admiral etc. )

147:

The question for the Iranians is, if they want to not look weak and to bleed the US, what's the best strategy?

I agree with 'not look weak' but their enemy is not really the US. Their enemy is Donald Trump and a few of his cronies.

What can they do to make life difficult for Donald? Many other people also have this hobby; they might find allies.

148:

the US may well not have the resources, equipment, or people to invade Iran.

The US can Fuck Shit Up in Iran -- that's what bombers and cruise missiles are for -- but actually invading the Persian Empire would not be sensible, or even possible: it's geographically bigger and more populous than Mexico, and while they could certainly put a couple of mechanized brigades in harm's way, the entire US armed forces are too small (by an order of magnitude) to occupy Iran. Look how badly they managed with Iraq, which had a third the population, concentrated in a much smaller area, and some of them friendly (notably the Kurds).

Meanwhile, Iran has a bunch of proxies (read: shi'ite allies) throughout the Middle East, notably in Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq. Plus a global diaspora, some of whom may be cover for sleeper cells (as well as dissidents opposed to the regime). "Terrorism" becomes qualitatively something entirely different when the pockets backing it come from a state with a fractional-trillion dollar annual revenue stream and an industrial base.

149:

Pigeon @ 80: I love JBS's idea of printing stuff out in the appropriate layout to be folded and cut into a book, but it's horribly impractical - for a start you need huge sheets of paper and a huge printer to cope with them. And I've found that when printing out technical manuals and stuff it's not worth trying anything fancier than plain single-sided A4. Even something as simple as printing on both sides of the paper invariably fails when the printer misfeeds part way through printing the second sides and buggers all the rest of it up.

The duplex printing is not that bad because I have a printer that prints one side of the sheet and then prints the other, so if there's a misfeed it only affects that one sheet (even if that sheet does have 8 different pages laid out on it, it's still only a single sheet of paper and doesn't affect any of the other sheets).

I earned a book-binding merit badge when I was a Boy Scout, so I kind of remember how to do the part about cutting & folding & stitching & gluing it up to make the physical part of the book.

It's the part where you print pages in proper sequence across multiple sheets of paper that's got me buffaloed. To lay the text out so it would flow properly when cut and stitched I'd end up reading it on the screen a half dozen times for every page I laid out, which is kind of pointless because the whole purpose of the exercise is because I want to read it as a book because I don't like reading it on the screen.

So what this all adds up to is that I'm another one who wants to know where I can buy Graydon's work on paper.

I actually managed to track down a printed copy of Equoid from some Canadian bookstore.

Didn't there used to be a segment of the "Vanity Press" that specialized in small batches of books printed at a reasonable price? I think that would be even more possible in the age of electronic manuscripts. I know there's still Blurb and Lulu that do that for photo books, but what about small batch BOOK books with words on every page?

Which still leaves the problem of getting permission and proving to the printer that I have that permission to print my own copy of someone else's copyrighted work.

150:

Bugger - forgot to add ...
[ And Charlie has posted whilst I was typing this ... ]
the US may well not have the resources, equipment, or people to invade Iran. If I had to guess, I'd say that's why we haven't gone to war with Iran yet.
BUT
They do have the resouces to trash the whole country & then walk away ....
And DT is quite capable of ordering that ... would the US Armed forces then obey, or ask Congress for "guidance"? What do our US correspondents think that US law says on that conundrum?

And provided that Iraninan "terrorism" strikes US_ONLY targets & leaves everubody else alone ... which might be difficult.
OTOH ... Dt is getting desperate enough to do "anything" to avoid impeachment - yes/no? SO starting WWII is preferable from his p.o.v. to going to jail?
NOT a pleasnt musing

151:

t's the part where you print pages in proper sequence across multiple sheets of paper that's got me buffaloed.

The key concept you're missing is Imposition. (One of the reason publishers pay typesetting bureaux with expensive licenses for Quark Publishing System or Adobe InDesign is because those DTP packages handle the imposition side of layout transparently and with all sorts of configurable options, e.g. ability to add tiny margin offsets to compensate for the thickness of the pages before/after the current one within the current signature once it's stitched).

152:

Other then Iran I don’t think anyone is crying a lotta tears over Soleimani. That guy has earned his dirt nap many times over

And driving around the outskirts of Baghdad fomenting attacks on American embassies is basically asking for it

Honestly this is not incredibly stupid from the perspective of Trumps handlers, given that they wouldn’t mind a war. Iran is now in a tough spot because they don’t want a war. Now Iran has to figure out a response that doesn’t give the Americans their war and still satisfies their populations desire for vengeance, especially given their population seems to be teetering in the edge of revolt in general.

My guess is nothing dramatic will happen

If the Iranians do hand the US the war card by overplaying their hand, I suspect rather then invasion the US military will do their best to tip the country over into anarchy by blowing up infrastructure and leadership. I don’t know if that will work but it’ll not be much fun for the Iranians and will also be the end if their nuclear program

153:

You are contradicting yourself here. USA may not be able (willing, to be correct - of course they are technically able) to occupy Iran completely, but it is 100% able to destroy it as a state, and keep it this way. And a bunch of Afghanistanesque territories won't be able to sustain a global terrorism campaign against the USA.

154:

Mikko Parviainen @ 95: I find depictions of bloodshed, cruelty and bigotry distasteful at best, and simply do not understand the way that many people fetishise weaponry (or cars, for that matter).

While I've played a lot of computer games, and I still do, I find that much of the current games are too (personally) violent for me, nowadays. For example, if a game is a 'roleplaying game' it usually seems to mean that they player characters need to fight and kill a lot of things which probably wouldn't want to be killed. And of course most shooter games are kind of difficult when one doesn't want to shoot anything.

On the other hand, I can still play empire-type games, like Stellaris, which is a space empire building game with lots of options. Pushing the button or giving the order is not that bad...

With less interactive media, it's the same for me - all those things are usually a fast turn-off.

I OTOH find first person shooters quite relaxing and a perfect way to sublimate my anger and aggression. And I don't even have to imagine the bad guys I'm killing in the games are the bad guys who piss me off in real life.

My favorite game is an open world (sandbox) project with lots of users creating content. I'm currently playing a "survival" variant that has zombies, renegades & survivors. I don't shoot zombies because it's a waste of ammunition. I do run over them with vehicles, because they're kind of pathetic. They line up and just stand there waiting to be run over like they want you to end their misery.

And you can tell the survivors from the renegades because renegades will attack you and survivors won't. I try not to shoot at survivors and if I encounter survivors battling renegades I will try to shoot the renegades and not the survivors.

The game graphics do realistically portray the effects of weapons and some of it can be kind of gory. But I don't think it's a good idea for games or movies try to sanitize the effect. I'd rather they portray it in all its ugliness. Shooting another person should be ugly. But they don't have to glorify it.

I'm a gun enthusiast who doesn't own a gun. I don't feel like I need to own one & I hope I never get to the point where I DO feel like I need one. There's a couple of gun stores in town that have indoor ranges where you can rent a gun and fire on their range and I occasionally think about going down to one of them to shoot.

155:

Greg Tingey @ 104: Keithmasterson

every octagenarian contains a six year old wondering what the hell just happened.

ME!
Well - in my case a 16-26 year old wondering - - - WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK? ( I'm 74 in 10 days time, yeah )
We just never shake that perplexed inner voice ... as in: "Some complete bastards stole my future & I want it back ... " - yes?

I look in the mirror and wonder where the handsome youth who used to be there went off to and who the fuck is that beat up old man standing there now? Makes me want to cry sometimes. I do really miss that handsome youth and wonder why he had to go away?

156:

Charlie Stross @ 120: On today's Trump-ordered murder

The only thing that mystifies me is that anyone can still underestimate the depths of Trumpolini's stupidity and depravity. This shit can only get worse and it's going to.

157:

I will absolutely guarantee that the thought process on this assassination was

"Who ordered the storming of the embassy? Kill them"

treating Soleimani like the head of a terrorist cell rather than a leader of state.

Pure ideological blinders that the NatSec folks got too used to striking heads of organizations rather than considering the role as a national leader.

It is beyond fucking insane.

Anyways, it is worth remembering that "world's leading exporter of terror" can be accurately reworded as "world's leading expert in unconventional warfare".

158:

I got a copy of Equiod from $Large_River_UK no problem.

159:

JReynolds @ 127: Is it any wonder that the Iranians are trying to get nukes? With those, even a nutter like Trump might hesitate. Or, more importantly, the people actually tasked with carrying out his orders might delay and wait for the Dear Leader to forget that he'd given the orders.

Nope. You're still underestimating the depths of Trump's stupidity and depravity.

160:

Scott Sanford @ 131: It's generally agreed that such files and videos exist. The Russians are well known for investing in such things years or decades in advance and Donald has spent time in Moscow. But if they have the famous "pee tape," what of it? Who'd care? We've all heard the "Grab 'em by the pussy" tape and his fans were fine with it.

Video of him taking instructions and conspiring with Putin might do it. Or might not.

If I were Putin I'd have stand-ins anyway, as decoys and for boring public appearances; surely they can find a decent Trump impersonator too. That would let Russia produce propaganda evidence for whatever seemed convenient even while both governments insisted with straight faces that the videos were "fake news." When people are going to call everything a lie anyway there's no reason not to lie about the lies...

How "Deep Fakes" work ... You Won’t Believe What Obama Says In This Video!

161:

It's the part where you print pages in proper sequence across multiple sheets of paper that's got me buffaloed.

You need software that can handle imposition. PageMaker used to, I think Adobe InDesign does. If Affinity Publisher can do it I haven't figured out how. I have no idea of there's a free package that will do so. I found a Macc app that would impose a PDF file, but it was $140 so I decided to do the job by hand (it was a one-off project).

162:

You need software that can handle imposition.

And remember that the imposition you want is in some respects specific to the paper and printing mechanism you're going to use. This is generally why it's really best to contract book-making. It's a highly specialized trade.

163:

It’s too late now but the really smart thing Iran could have done to really, really, tweak the Orange Idiot would be to make it seem like nothing had happened.
Find a good stunt double of the general. Tart up some suitable location details. Show nothing damaged. Claim DeepFake provided any evidence being claimed by El Cheeto.

164:

From Twitter:

"He was a murderous war criminal. What did you expect Trump to do?"

I dunno. Pardon him and invite him to a rally?

165:

That's a plot point in one of the Stainless steel rat novels - aliens assassinate the top leadership - efficiency goes up.

166:

So, it is now the position of the executive branch of the US government that this was a preemptive political assassination to prevent war. If they are to be believed, sort of like using a time machine to go back and kill baby Hitler, except without the time machine and or any clear picture of possible futures and their distributions. I will assume that they are lying though, until believable evidence is presented.
Live updates: Trump says Iranian military leader was killed by drone strike ‘to stop a war,’ warns Iran not to retaliate (Louisa Loveluck, Adam Taylor, Jan. 3, 2020)
Link is Washington Post (private browsing window if needed), and has the video of DJT reading the teleprompter. (The script sounds like it was written or massaged by Stephen Miller, not sure though.)
The bit in question is at 2:18: roughly, "We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war."

167:

They do have the resouces to trash the whole country & then walk away ....
And DT is quite capable of ordering that ... would the US Armed forces then obey

You'd think they'd politely point out that this is a war crime and refuse. However, they seem to have had no issues murdering someone (and any poor sod standing nearby) on the orders of the deranged idiot. So it seems they'd literally do anything.

168:

“Bob, after his Escape from Puroland, would not enjoy reading it as much as you will.”
Has that been published yet an I missed it?

169:

Greg Tingey @ 133: Of course, Saudi wants a war, to trash Iran, so they can be cock of the walk ... & that, if anything is the more worrying aspect, particularly as there is an almost 1400-year-old piece of religious venomous spite involved

Fuck 'em! IF they want a war with Iran, the U.S. doesn't need to start one for them. Let them use their own soldiers for that war.

I do kind of wonder what Iran's top Revolutionary Guard General was doing in Baghdad just three days after Iranian backed militias tried to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. State and DoD are both citing an imminent threat against American Diplomats as a reason for the strike. What role did Suleimani play in the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis? Was Suleimani coming in to give Kataib Hezbollah instructions on how to do the job right next time?

There IS a fraught 40 year history between the U.S. and Iran over the security of U.S. Embassies & American Diplomats, not just in Iran, but in Lebanon & Syria, plus Egypt and African states where it supports "revolutionary" militias in a proxy war against Sunni Islam.

170:

Scott Sanford @ 147:

The question for the Iranians is, if they want to not look weak and to bleed the US, what's the best strategy?

I agree with 'not look weak' but their enemy is not really the US. Their enemy is Donald Trump and a few of his cronies.

Do you think anyone in Iran really makes that distinction or even cares about it if the do?

171:

Re: ' ... have had no issues murdering someone (and any poor sod standing nearby) on the orders of the deranged idiot.'

Didn't Reagan unseat Noriega by having him charged with drug smuggling, money laundering, etc.? Not your typical move for unseating the de facto head of state - seems most other world leaders allow other heads of state a lot of latitude when it comes to crime. (Noriega served time in the US and in France.)

DT's MO is to rely on financial threats/bullying. But, despite the economic sanctions by the US and EU which did hurt Iran's economy, Iran's GDP is expected to grow this year thanks to its current trade partners: China, Turkey, South Korea, UAE - and possibly Saudi Arabia - plus India. (One online source of GDP/trade info for Iran showed 'not identified' as their second largest trading partner; nor does it show which 'trade goods or services'. Weird.) Then again - Iran has joined most of the developed world as its GDP is becoming more reliant on 'services'. (No idea what 'services' they export.)

Assuming that the books about DT are accurate: senior Cabinet, GOP and military tend to not trust his impulsivity therefore are even more likely to do the due-diligence/check-recheck process. Which means that either DT ordered this strike long ago and everyone ran out of red tape (stalling tactics) or their own intel discovered a clear and present danger. Too bad we won't find out for about 50 years or so.

172:

Charlie Stross @ 151:

[I]t's the part where you print pages in proper sequence across multiple sheets of paper that's got me buffaloed.

The key concept you're missing is Imposition. (One of the reason publishers pay typesetting bureaux with expensive licenses for Quark Publishing System or Adobe InDesign is because those DTP packages handle the imposition side of layout transparently and with all sorts of configurable options, e.g. ability to add tiny margin offsets to compensate for the thickness of the pages before/after the current one within the current signature once it's stitched).

I'm not really missing it. I just didn't know what the word I needed to describe it ... and lamenting the lack of consumer level software that can automagically handle "imposition" for someone like me who hates reading books on a screen.

173:

if the Iranians don't want to escalate

They would need to surrender, immediately and unconditionally.

You have to remember that to many in the US and Trump in particular, the existence of Iran is an insult and an attack. They are not subservient to him, and they dare to contradict him. What the US has done is pure self-defence against an ongoing war on the US waged by Iran. They have supported enemies of the state, they have attacked innocent military vessels in Iranian waters, they have violated sanctions imposed entirely justly by the US in retaliation for Iran hewing to some bullshit "nuclear deal" that was a complete scam from the very start, they have even tried to sell oil for something other than US dollars. The only reasonable response would be invasion and destruction, so merely murdering a military officer is nothing. Iran should apolgise for making that necessary.

174:

Since I haven't memorize On The Psychology of Military Incompetence, my key question right now is who, among the leadership on both sides, is competent, and who is not? There have been accusations that many in the US brass leading the Afghan War followed in Elphinstone's footsteps, shall we say. An Agent Orange went to a military school, so he's got form for being a WWI-style general, even if he doesn't have sufficient character.

The thing to worry about is if the brass on the Iranian, US, and Russian sides all take after, well, Elphinstone or the brave British Generals of WWI. High test authoritarian followers given responsibilities orders of magnitude beyond their Peter Principle maxima could be a real problem.

175:

Graydon @ 162:

You need software that can handle imposition.

And remember that the imposition you want is in some respects specific to the paper and printing mechanism you're going to use. This is generally why it's really best to contract book-making. It's a highly specialized trade.

Works great if you're a writer who wants to publish your own book. Not so great if you're just a reader who wants to read a book that's not available in print.

It's not your fault the industry is set up that way, but it still sucks. And it is a problem with the technology I hope someone will figure out a way to fix someday (SOON).

176:

Perhaps not the appropriate basis of concern.

The US has a strong consensus that the Islamic Republic is an illegitimate state and should be destroyed. This is much, much wider than Trump or the Republican Party; it includes a whole lot of the professionals in the machinery of state. It includes most of what's passing for strategic thinkers in the Trump Administration.

That consensus has been producing plans since the Carter administration.

The Islamic Republic has been producing plans for just as long. (and less coherently; the Revolutionary Guard and the overt state and the army probably all have plans, and they're not the same plans.)

The way this works is that the situation is fluid, intelligence is fragmented at best and false at worst, and therefor ceases to drive either planning or caution. (if you wait for good intelligence you don't act, and the present pass is that not acting is intolerable.) Nobody actually does "develop reconnaissance" anymore; it requires a degree of reserves that would have been considered essential in 1940 and don't existing anywhere for anyone today. (It kinda also relies on a lot more of a different kind of the fog of war than we presently possess.) So the only thing that can happen is for someone to follow an operational plan.

The chance of it being an appropriate plan, capable of delivering an acceptable resolution, is approximately zero. Plans are nearly always out of date; there may not be an appropriate plan; it's certainly not likely that anybody's planning took into account a US commander-in-chief who will behave randomly. (That's the best case; it's possible Trump is being tasked with maximizing the damage.)

The concern at that point isn't for peter-principled field commanders, who are embedded in the mesh of modern communications today anyway; there's the example of an early Desert Storm shoot/no shoot decision where a fighter pilot asked permission to shoot early (while they had an airborne target) and it took less than twenty minutes to escalate that to the President and send permission back down the chain of command. The concern is how quickly does the political apparatus produce coherent objectives and demand means and results consistent with those objectives. (Effectively, "we want a plan that does this, for some achievable value of this.)

Iran can maybe do that. The US, in the grip of a hostile puppet and the Slaver Slow Rebellion, cannot.

177:

And it is a problem with the technology I hope someone will figure out a way to fix someday (SOON).

It's very probably in the same category as a bra-fitting algorithm; the effort to develop the automation can't be supported by expected sales.

Book layout really is an art; having someone do a skilled job is consequently not cheap. It's something I've thought about for when the Commonweal is finished and there might be enough readers that such a project could pay its own costs, but I'm honestly not hopeful of this.

(As of some time in November of 2019, the then-extant four Commonweal books have sold something like 2100 copies. The people who like them do indeed like them, but those are not the sort of sales numbers which excite publishers or justify print runs.)

178:

SFReader @ 171: Re:

' ... have had no issues murdering someone (and any poor sod standing nearby) on the orders of the deranged idiot.'

Didn't Reagan unseat Noriega by having him charged with drug smuggling, money laundering, etc.? Not your typical move for unseating the de facto head of state - seems most other world leaders allow other heads of state a lot of latitude when it comes to crime. (Noriega served time in the US and in France.)

No, "Reagan" propped Norieaga up in power while the Iran-Contra thingy was going on. Norieaga was "Reagan's" primary logistical pipeline on the "Contras" end of the operation.

It was Bush the elder who decided the time had come to take Noriega out before he could "spill the beans" and "the chickens could come back home to roost" with George H.W. Bush. And even then, Bush didn't have Noriega deposed because was such a bad man; it was just that the cost of upkeep was becoming more and more unsustainable. The criminal trial & conviction was more to discredit Noriega as a witness against "Reagan" & Bush than it was to punish him for any crimes he'd actually committed.

179:

Heteromeles @ 174: Since I haven't memorize On The Psychology of Military Incompetence, my key question right now is who, among the leadership on both sides, is competent, and who is not?

I can't think of a single "leader" on either side I'd accuse of being unduly competent.

180:

I fail to see the difference between our positions, but I'll take your word for it. SpecOps commanded by idiots is where we get the RANGER SMASH! meme after all.

More to the point, you've got to remember that Trump needs a DISTRACTION. In the absence of other evidence, that's what this is supposed to be: something that
--distracts from impeachment
--distracts from issues of health, family, or shenanigans he doesn't want people paying attention to
--something that energizes his base (although that may backfire, David Duke is tweeting how stoopid this is)
--something that causes his opponents to freak out and waste energy (which they are).

The thing that concerns me is that, IIRC, Iran is dealing with anti-government protests large enough to cause them to shut down internet connections, among other things.

Problem is, they're looking for a distraction too.

The problem is, if either the leaders aren't sufficiently competent or their planning is sufficiently bad, things could get out of control. And that would kinda suck.

181:

It was a military-style private school, the kind where they send boys who aren't otherwise teachable, not something like an actual prep school for the military. AFAICT, Himself learned very little that was useful - he's been convinced that he's perfect in every way since he was about 5 years old chronologically.

182:

“Looks like Scribus is a 32 bit Mac only application, which might be a bit of a problem going forward even before the apparently steep learning curve.”

Really? The once or twice I’ve used it was on Windows. Looks like there’s a download for pretty much everything but iOS:

https://www.scribus.net/downloads/stable-branch/

I’m be surprised if it can’t handle imposition too. Learning curve - I vaguely remember the tool layout was a bit clunky, but it’s roughly the same visual metaphors as any other layout program (such as MS Publisher or Adobe InDesign).

183:

Well so far they’ve gotten away with killing him, Iran hasn’t done shit other then threaten, Congress hasn’t done shit other then whine and the rest of the world seems to be turning a blind eye as well

They even did another strike this morning to emphasize how little of a shit they give about what anyone thinks or who scared they are of Iran

In what way is that incompetence?

So far seems to be going swimmingly for the Donald, unless he really did wanted a greater response and an actual war

184:

China’s approach to the trade war Trump started indicates they do: they’ve been systematically making moves that apply pain to industries in states that went Trump.

Is there any reason to assume Iran’s political class is less competent?

185:

China’s approach has had no measurable impact on trumps approval numbers

186:

Seriously? If Iran decides to kinetically retaliate as opposed to e.g. orchestrating an expulsion of the US from Iraq plus some retaliation via proxies, why would they retaliate immediately? Why would they be overt about retaliation?
Ex-Iranian intel officer says Iran, not Libya, behind Lockerbie attack (March 11, 2014)
5+ months between Iran Air 655 and Pan Am 103. Not clear that Iran did it.

China’s approach has had no measurable impact on trumps approval numbers
Is this based on an analysis of statewide polls?

187:

They would be overt about retaliation because their population is screaming for revenge ?

All of this “retaliation” rests on the rather shaky foundations that Iran has nasty ways to hurt American that they have up until now not employed but have just been sitting on

Why would they have not employed them?

It’s not like they don’t want to hurt America

The only reason I can think of is it would start a war

Well they still don’t want to start a war

Everything else they’ve been going full steam with for years, they might be able to figure out a way to dial it up a notch temporarily and claim a victory but if they could figure out a way to do more or better terrorism they’d have done it already

Everything you could ever want to know about trumps polls are at

https://fivethirtyeight.com/

188:

Trump's present intellectual attainments approximated those of cabbage. Possibly an over-caffeinated parrot.

Trump is terrified of something. Going to jail, getting whacked, being revealed as a pauper and stooge, direct and intractable consequence of the brain rot, who knows? Trump's trying to avoid that thing. That is the absolutely the limit of Trump's thinking.

Everyone around Trump -- the Slaver Slow Rebellion, the belief in Women, Cattle, and Slaves as biblically mandated categories of property which cannot be denied white men -- is going wag-the-dog because they're trapped between knowledge that they aren't politically supported on anything but slaves and their inability to invoke Amendment XXV. (God-king autocracy has failure modes. This is maybe three of them happening at once.)

Iran is a modern country, industrial and post-demographic transition, with a form of government that only works per-demographic transition and whose best strategic outcome (viewed as Persia-the-ancient-nation) is for the Islamic Republic to fall and be replaced by the Republic of Iran, with the change driven by internal and fundamentally peaceful, consent-of-the-governed, processes. That would give a whole lot of people an excuse to drop the sanctions. (At the possible cost of shipping a few former Iranian politicos to the Hague.) Their current government's crisis of legitimacy can't be resolved without EITHER reversing the demographic transition (and accompanying catastrophic economic shrinkage, mass deaths, and loss of regional relevance) or allowing secular governance to come in. (Surrendering religious control of the courts, minimally.)

So the perfect outcome, well, no, we're not going to get that. (The Perfect Outcome is for Marine Two to crash into Trump with no survivors, on the one hand, and for the Islamic Republic to be replaced by the straight-up Republic, and for President Pelosi to get recognition of this new nation through the US Senate and for the sanctions to be dropped, on the other. The "welcome to the community of nations and here are your security guarantees and here's the timeline to stop oil extraction and here's the supporting investment for your new energy sector and goodness yes we'll look the other way if a few committed terrorists from the former regime need to be shot" all happen quietly. President Pelosi's habit of using Mitch McConnell's shrunken head as a paperweight isn't completely quiet but she refuses to answer questions about it.)

What we're actually going to get? It depends on how the faction fights settle out.

Right now there are at least four.

There's one going on in Iran on the Revolutionary Guard side; who is in charge now?

There's one going on in Iran on the political side; what's the least much that maintains the shakey legitimacy of the Islamic Republic? (that's the fundamental problem from the current ruling class's viewpoint, since the long term answer looks like "nothing".)

There's one going on in the US; impeachment, forty years of policy to destroy the Islamic Republic, the Slow Rebellion, and the uncomfortable fact that the US military's current readiness states are shit all collide to try to constrain the public policy statements somehow. It also constrains the policy actually pursued.

The other one going on in the US is the increasingly shaky legitimacy of wars for oil; it's not working, it's obviously not working, the kids are looking at a world that's going to burn and getting not so much radicalized -- nothing politically legitimate is floating around right now -- but uneasily pre-radicalized. So there's more likely to be a Russian Revolution ("this is intolerable", with the ideology arriving later via chaotic processes) than a Glorious Revolution (where the ideology was in place and used as a normative basis for outcomes).

Out of all that, what we're going to get is down to the unwinding spirits of chaos and the folly of our age. I doubt anyone with sufficient second sight to know retains the sanity to type, and all I can say for myself is that I've been stocking up on dry staple foodstuffs and have a battery-charging schedule reminder in my phone calendar.

189:

That’s a tough nut to crack:
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/23/464129029/donald-trump-i-could-shoot-somebodyand-i-wouldnt-lose-any-voters
But the fact that they’re trying indicates that they are working from a model of the US that distinguishes between Trump, various types of his supporters, and the rest of the country.

190:

Don’t forget it’s not just who is running the Revolutionary Guard it’s also who is going to be the new #2 man, heir apparent

As far as US force readiness , yes and no. Most of the military is out of Iraq and Afghanistan at this point, but those areas still represent flash points that could lead to over extension

Rest I pretty much agree with

191:

It's not so much immediate force readiness as it's having fought this very long war without the necessary continuous planning and stable funding, so the maintenance status of a whole lot of kit's doubtful and the human component's been badly overstressed. Plus the end-of-history hit as more structural autocracy comes in just in time to throw everything into "and you really need to trust the lower ranks" circumstances, for something of an institutional structure issue.

There really isn't any substitute for overall -- meaning political -- leadership insisting on A Plan and funding that plan. Which is not what's happened overall since 2000.

192:

Well, I think that comparison is an insult, to brassicas!!

193:

Re: 'The criminal trial & conviction was more to discredit Noriega as a witness against "Reagan" & Bush than it was to punish him for any crimes he'd actually committed.'

Thanks! Just looked up Iran-Contra to remind myself of what happened. Yes - definitely in keeping with Bush-the-elder's pragmatic thinking/policy style.

194:

The Third Reich was doomed by the insanely racist ideology that powered it, and it would have fizzled faster had the German generals, drunk on success beyond their wildest dreams, ignored all of Hitler's input.

Be careful about the sources of your history, as there was a very concerted effort during the pivot from WW2 to the Cold War to whitewash the German military (at least, the portions that had been captured by the Western Allies) to keep it around to be the first line of defense against the Warsaw Pact. As a result, there are many memoirs written by former Wehrmacht officers that take the "It's all Hitler's fault." line to paper over both their own part in the monstrosity and their failings as officers.

The German army, going back to when it was the Prussian army, disdained the boring work of logistics and economic preparation and planning in favor of the dash of maneuver and tactical or strategic envelopments. Despite how it looked to the world when they started, Nazi Germany was no more capable of defeating the United Kingdom, the USSR, or the US. The former was across water, the middle too wide, and the latter both too wide and across water.

Basically, getting to a timeline where Nazi Germany (run by the actual Nazis, not rational people wearing Nazi name tags) survives to 1950 would take changes that basically amount to divine intervention.

Sorry for the novel, but that myth bugs me.

195:

Let alone caffeinated parrots!

196:

>gift box of upscale candies that is infested with angry kraits
That’s even better than Crunchy Frog & Spring Surprise!

197:

without the necessary continuous planning and stable funding

Speaking of which, didn't they just cut current recruits off from long-term medical care? I read that they get two years after discharge now, and cash for long-term injuries rather than support.

I'm not saying that's an attempt to stop smart people joining the military, I don't think there's that level of thought gone into the change. But I do think it's going to change the calculation for a lot of people because now they have to budget on buying health insurance post-service as part of the cost of serving. I wonder if some cunning weasel will decide to sell such a package just to make clear the value of what's been taken away?

198:

This truly was incredibly stupid even from Trump's own viewpoint. Presumably he did it to distract attention from the impeachment brou ha ha. Whatever for? The Demos have talked themselves into a corner.

They are refusing to forward the impeachment articles to the Senate unless McConnell should have a moment of temporary insanity and give them what they want, which he doesn't have to and won't. Formally, McConnell is currently just saying that he'll run a trial the same way as to witnesses that the Clinton impeachment did, and the only Democratic response is to fume. And meanwhile all polls indicate that the American public thinks Trump is probably guilty of something here, but who cares, this is boring and unimportant.

Which is true, the Democrats managed to pick out the worst and weakest possible ground they could have chosen from a *political* aspect, namely typical Washington politicking dragging in a country most Americans barely know exists. I guess the hope was to get it popular from good ol' American hatred of foreigners, but the Republicans are so much better at that. Really, the plan was to get some Republicans on board mossbacked enough to think Russia is still a communist country trying to poison America's precious bodily fluids with fluoride, so hobnobbing with Russians is impeachable. Well, didn't work.

Which means it'll never go to a Senate vote, Trump has won, and he'll get the same polling boom Clinton got out of our last impeachment comedy. In short, Trump had won and he didn't even seem to notice that, being Trump. Now, everyone knows that a US invasion of Iran would be a disaster, Vietnam all over again, bringing the US right back to the '60s probably, but some here are saying that wouldn't matter, as the US could "fuck shit up" in Iran. Well, besides putting an end to any dissidence in Iran vs. the mullahs, they forget that Iran would have a simple response. It would be easy and unpreventable for Iran to make the Strait of Hormuz unpassable by oil tankers, which would quite simply destroy the economy of planet earth. So, short of nuking Iran, there is no way the US could "win" a war with Iran. One hopes Trump isn't crazy enough for that.

199:

The Strait is not quite what it once was. Currently it handles about 21% of the works oil consumption. However the saudis could pick up 5% if that through their Red Sea pipeline

So not quite at the destroying the economy of planet earth level of effect any more, though would certainly not be a good thing

Also “easy and unpreventable” are not the common military opinions. Also a guaranteed way to draw in many other nations opposing them

This fits under the “suicide” playbook for Iran

200:

Presumably he did it to distract attention from the impeachment brou ha ha. Whatever for? The Demos have talked themselves into a corner.

They are refusing to forward the impeachment articles to the Senate unless McConnell should have a moment of temporary insanity and give them what they want, which he doesn't have to and won't.

I think you miss their point.

There was good reason to drag out the investigation process in the House - but now Donald is "impeached President Donald Trump" for the rest of history. That's a win for them and a big hit to his ego; no wonder he's flailing around for distractions.

As you point out, McConnell will never let witnesses testify. Democrats can and will keep pointing out through the election season that all the witnesses who claim no wrongdoing could testify to clear Trump's name if only McConnell would let them.

And they haven't lost as much as you might think. There's not actually any rule that a president can't be impeached twice. Someone who commits two different crimes can be tried in two different cases.

201:

Has [Escape from Puroland] been published yet an I missed it?

As far as I know it's still in the editorial digestive system somewhere. Charlie hasn't mentioned it lately.

202:

You have to remember that to many in the US and Trump in particular, the existence of Iran is an insult and an attack. They are not subservient to him, and they dare to contradict him. What the US has done is pure self-defence against an ongoing war on the US waged by Iran.

A correction: It's internally perceived as pure self defense against an ongoing war on them waged by Iran's continuing to exist.

Obviously this has nothing to do with Iranian politics domestic or foreign; it has quite a lot to do with the internal psychology of narcissists who hate the idea of people living lives that don't revolve around them.

This leaves Iran with a very challenging situation, given that they have to try handling a man so unpredictable his own allies and family often can't anticipate what he'll say or do.

Incidentally, I suggest never bringing up the nuclear deal. The Iranians were upholding it when Trump realized he could break something made by Obama; there's no way to make the US look good there so the best strategy is not mentioning it at all.

203:

The Strait is not quite what it once was. Currently it handles about 21% of the works oil consumption. However the saudis could pick up 5% if that through their Red Sea pipeline.

That would be more comforting if that pipeline had not been shut down by drone strike just this summer. I recall we discussed it on this blog, too.

If I were a Middle Eastern power and thought Saudi Arabia might be a problem, I'd sure have multiple plans for messing up the oil industry.

204:

How Iran retaliates, depends on the message they want to send and to whom.

If they still want to play ball with EU and China, they go after the stupid guy personally, possibly taking out one of his relatives.

If they want to goad USA into doing something stupid, they go for a symbolically significant but not necessarily military target, maybe even on US soil.

If they just want to be able to say they got eye for eye, they'll take any good target of opportunity: Some general, plane or ship somewhere.

And they'll take their sweet time: Right now security is all-hands-overtime, by summer that will have deteriorated.

But first Tehran have to decide is if they want Trumpolino reelected, and that is a hard call...

205:

What the USA & at least one poster here ( Unholyguy ) don't/won't/can't realise is that the "Islamic Republic" would almost certainly be LESS "islamic" if it was LEFT ALONE.
( The Boss was there in November, following part of the Silk Road - & it's a lot more welcoming & pleasant than parts of fucking Han China ... )
BUT ... every time the US does something terminally stupid, it drives them back to the relgious extremism ... starting with trashing the nuclear deal, of course.

As JBS says - this shit can only get worse & @ 159 - you are probably right there too ....
... @ 170
YES See also RvdH @ 190 - yes, they can separate DT & the Slavers from the rest of the US.

gasdive @ 1676
The elder brother of a very old friend was an RAF officer for many years. Got to Group-Captain & retired ... proptly re-enrolled as a Liutenant, so that he could carry on FLYING ...
until 2nd Gulf ( Blair/Shrub ) erupted ... handed in his commission the next week - as did quite a few others AIUI.

moz @ 173
YOU FORGOT THE /SNARK Tag there .....

Heteromeles @ 174
the brave British Generals of WWI
SNARL - I'm tired of this ....
Which major army had the LOWEST casualty rate in WWI? The British.
IF the Brit Generals were so utterly incompetent, then how come the always-supposedly-better German Generals got equally absolutely nowhere at all, eh? After all, in the end the meat-grinder at Verdun killed more Germans than French ...
And so on.
I will accept the stricture "If & only if" it applies to all, equally - which is much closer to the truth.

Agree about the "Peter Principle", though - especially given US exceptoionalism & arrogance - of which there were multiple examples iN WWII, actually & since then, as well.
[Want a list? ]

Greydon
Iran is a modern country, industrial and post-demographic transition, with a form of government that only works per-demographic transition and whose best strategic outcome (viewed as Persia-the-ancient-nation) is for the Islamic Republic to fall and be replaced by the Republic of Iran, with the change driven by internal and fundamentally peaceful, consent-of-the-governed, processes.
YES
This ... as reported back by the Boss on her return - she wants to go again, same as the Northern "Stans" - but never, ever the Han territory again .... which tells you something.

PH-K @ 206
If they still want to play ball with EU and China And they have made it clear that they do ... here's hoping our new misgovernmnt get some sense this time & don't crawl up DT's arsehole - wht do you think? ( Don't answer that! )
No - they want Trump OUT & another Obama or similar, so they can go back to the "deal" they had & much-lessened sanctions.

206:

No, it has not been published yet. Maybe later this year. (Not confirmed.)

207:

The people who like them do indeed like them, but those are not the sort of sales numbers which excite publishers or justify print runs.

I don't want to sound overly harsh here, but I'd put this down to a combination of (a) a resolute, morally-grounded determination not to make the books available to roughly 90-95% of the buying public, and (b) a marketing campaign that, at best, isn't effective (and at worst either doesn't exist or is counterproductive).

Seriously, I get that you don't like Amazon's T&C's, but they're 80% of the ebook market in the US (more like 90% in the UK) and if you're not on the Kindle store you don't exist: barely 1% of ebook readers even know that they can buy an ebook elsewhere and transfer it across onto their phone or tablet. And also books don't sell on their own, they sell by word of mouth, but word of mouth is a chicken-and-egg situation that needs to be kickstarted with a lot of mouth: the sales figures you're talking about are at the low end of the free review copies a publisher would distribute when trying to bootstrap a promising midlist author's career.

This is not a reflection on you as a person and it doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong -- only you can define your terms of reference -- but it does mean that the Commonwealth books are unlikely to take the market by storm any time soon if you carry on this way.

208:

"They would be overt about retaliation because their population is screaming for revenge ? All of this “retaliation” rests on the rather shaky foundations that Iran has nasty ways to hurt American that they have up until now not employed but have just been sitting on. Why would they have not employed them?"

One of the problems with assassinating high-raking persons (military, civil service, or politics) of another country is that it practically makes any negotiations impossible. The other side cannot trust any promises on the safety of the negotiators.

On the other hand, if your intention is to make any negotiations as difficult as possible (read: impossible) and set up the scene for a proper war, then one of the easiest ways to do that is to openly kill a sufficiently high-ranking member of the other country’s state organization.

At the same time it is more and more difficult to prevent a state-level adversary from assassinating your own personnel. Especially if the action is allowed to take some time before performed.

Therefore, it is quite likely that in the case of serious retaliation we will not hear from it for some time. May take months or even years.

It seems that the Iranian government made a serious mistake when agreeing to the nuclear deal and following its obligations. They lost the only real way of being safe. The North-Korea is practically safe because it has nuclear weapons and sufficient tools for delivering them to the soil of USA.

209:

Be careful about the sources of your history, as there was a very concerted effort during the pivot from WW2 to the Cold War to whitewash the German military

I think my reading of the history of the time predates that: remember, I'm the child of people who lived through the war (my father served; I went to a synagogue where we had multiple concentration camp survivors as members), and was reading people like Shirer in my teens, not whitewashing by Nazi generals. Yes, more stuff has come to light with the expiration of secrecy periods and cover-ups (on the allied side), but also there was a lot less tolerance of Nazi bullshit among the survivors with direct experience of being bombed.

210:

"it would have fizzled faster had the German generals, drunk on success beyond their wildest dreams, ignored all of Hitler's input.

Be careful about the sources of your history, as there was a very concerted effort during the pivot from WW2 to the Cold War to whitewash the German military..."

It was during the war itself that we lost interest in the idea of assassinating Hitler, because it was apparent that it was greatly to our advantage for the other side to be commanded by a corporal who was rapidly going round the bend than by someone who might actually have some military clue.

It wasn't the generals getting "drunk on success", it was Hitler getting drunk on his fantasies of the Germans as übermenschen and insisting that they were capable of more and more miraculous feats the more obvious it became that they were less and less capable of any kind of feat any more.

"The German army, going back to when it was the Prussian army, disdained the boring work of logistics and economic preparation and planning"

...ensured that Germany built a railway network designed for military purposes, to transport troops and equipment rapidly to anywhere or everywhere along their borders, and the specialised military units to keep railways functioning during wartime - having learned from observing rail warfare operations during the TSR... spent years drawing up plans for invading France prior to WW1... ditto England, which we were worried about ("Riddle of the Sands" is based around a genuine possibility) even if it did turn out later that they had no idea what sort of boats you need to get troops across the North Sea... no, they loved logistic planning, perhaps their main failing in that area was getting so caught up in the plan is everything that they were not good at modifying or switching plans on short notice.

The "dash of manoeuvre" sort of thing was a French army fixation, which they called élan, and English has more or less borrowed the French word to describe it in consequence. Attaquez, attaquez, attaquez!

211:

The nuclear deal may be a red herring.

Remember, the Ayatollahs are essentially religious judge-scholars? And Ayatollah Khomenei, the father of their revolution, issued a fatwah declaring that use of nuclear weapons (and, presumably, other weapons of mass destruction) was religiously impermissible because it was impossible to ensure that innocent non-combatants were spared. This is a prohibition on strategic nukes: I gather a later fatwah but the current supreme leader clarified it and said that limited use of nukes on a battlefield against a nuclear-armed enemy who started it might be permissible. But at this point, smart bombs and stuff like the flying ginsu Hellfire missile look far more compatible with Iranian doctrine than battlefield nukes (which cost an arm and a leg to build, maintain, and secure and probably can't be used anyway).

Also remember the 1980-89 war affected Iranian revolutionary guards and regular military born between 1960 and 1970 -- precisely the generation now filling senior ranks in the IRG and army. They got gassed: they've seen WMDs up close and personal thanks to Saddam. And I suspect they may have a bit of the Austrian Corporal's aversion to same.

Iran insisted all along that the nuclear enrichment program was for a civil power reactor, that they were pursuing civil nuclear energy because their oil would eventually run out and they have heavy industries to power (they make 20% of the automobiles sold in Asia). This is actually far more plausible than looking for some looney tunes A-bomb program that is not only militarily impractical because [insert usual list of why nobody's used the bomb since 1945 here], but also religiously forbidden.

The only exception I can see is regional deterrence. Israel has the bomb: but the Islamic Republic has survived 40 years despite that, so strike Israel off the list of excuses. But there's also the deeply worrying pissing match with the Saudis, over an essentially 1600 year old blood feud that's escalated into a holy war. There are rumours that Saudi Arabia bankrolled the Pakistani bomb on the understanding that they could borrow bits of it if they ever needed one of their own, because Iran: if Saudi nuclearizes and keeps up the anti-shi'ite rhetoric, it's not impossible Iran would want to be in a position to deter them. (Although, as above: non-nuclear deterrence may work better when you're so close you nearly share a land border.)

212:

But first Tehran have to decide is if they want Trumpolino reelected, and that is a hard call...

Assuming a rational Iranian response:

a) There's no hurry. Leave the US to stew in its own security theatre for a while, by issuing vague but ominous warnings of a future response.

b) If possible, file a properly documented case with the ICC in the Hague. Go for multiple counts of murder and/or war crimes: it's not a reach.

c) Wait until after the US presidential election. THEN:

c(1): If Trump is re-elected, do something that affects him personally -- e.g. massive damage to his brand (which associates with his ego, such as multiple simultaneous attacks on Trump properties around the world) or his children

c(2): If Trump loses the election and the new POTUS is rational, open up a diplomatic back-channel to see if it's possible to extradite Trump to the Hague for trial.

Obviously no POTUS will allow any of their predecessors to stand trial for crimes of office -- it'd saw off the branch they're sitting on -- but it plays to the rest of the world as Iran being the sensible folks. In preparation for:

d) Trial in absentia in Iran, death sentence, and execution order. Followed by assassination of Donald Trump by an Iranian hit squad, after he leaves office (and his Secret Service detachment is reduced from approximately a batallion to two officers serving out their countdown until retirement).

This approach might well save them from anything worse than token censure by anyone outside the USA, and as for the USA, the USA already thinks it's at war with Iran: is a new Democratic POTUS going to double-down in defense of Trump?

Alas, I am not optimistic that delayed gratification and rational behaviour is going to win out here. In fact, I'd bet against it.

213:

Add to this that "some people" have explicitly stated buy signals for a dead tree edition, and an active dislike of e-readers. You're certainly sending us a "don't buy my stuff because you also have to buy hardware you don't want" message.

214:

Successive Republican Presidents have installed a highly effective passive defence against assassination: the automatic succession of the Presidency to dangerously-stupid or psychopathic Vice-president.

The Ayatollah and the Revolutionary Council do *not* want Mike Pence in the White House.

For the general good, and for our peace of mind, I choose not to speculate as to who or what would be the 'passive-defence VP' for Pence.

215:

The best bang-per-buck with the lowest risk of apocalyptic retaliation against Iran is to destabilise The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

A servile revolt in any Arabian city - including the Emirates - would do it.

So, too, would targeted assassinations among the clans: the succession disputes and vendetta would become a generation of low-level warfare.

Driving out the foreign technicians would do it nicely, and there are Saudi Citizens who *want* that; and it would have the same effect, without actually committing this century's worst war crime to date, as destroying the Kingdom's drinking water infrastructure.

216:

Bozo? He does meet the main qualification for the job of being a "native-born USian".

217:

There's no hurry.

I would tend to disagree: When a rival officially murders a high ranking member of your government, you have to respond within a shortish time frame. If you seem to let it slide, you make your government walking targets that can be murdered with impunity.

On the other hand, Trump is likely trying to get a heavy handed response, so Iran has to walk a line to both hurt Trump and avoid to play into his hand.

Maybe they could leak Trumps tax returns? He seems pretty adamant to keep them a secret. Or push the Iraqi government to close US bases in Iraq?

Trial in absentia in Iran, death sentence, and execution order. Followed by assassination of Donald Trump by an Iranian hit squad, after he leaves office

Given that the then current president is some day going to be a former president that has made a lot of enemies (as all POTUS do), he or she is going to respond as if it was an attack on the current president.

218:

Successive Republican Presidents have installed a highly effective passive defence against assassination: the automatic succession of the Presidency to dangerously-stupid or psychopathic Vice-president. The Ayatollah and the Revolutionary Council do *not* want Mike Pence in the White House.

Not only would assassinating Trump be hard, it would violate the tit-for-tat principle. It would also make him a martyr. They don't want statues to Trump, they want him remembered with shame like Nixon or Mussolini. Donald Trump himself is only a valid target if the US kills the Ayatollah.

No, it's Mike Pence who's a logical target for Iranian revenge.

But what if they're smart or subtle? It's hard enough to find people in the US who really care about Pence, and his position on the org chart doesn't reflect his importance. If they wanted to cripple Trump's political machine they'd kill Mitch McConnell[1]. Unexpectedly losing him would throw the Republican power structure into chaos.

If they were after personal vengeance, Trump's adult children are obvious targets. His son-in-law is even called a Middle East expert.

[1] Mitch would be honestly mourned by, oh, dozens of Americans. Several Russian oligarchs too, if rumors are true.

219:

On the other hand, Trump is likely trying to get a heavy handed response, so Iran has to walk a line to both hurt Trump and avoid to play into his hand. Maybe they could leak Trumps tax returns? He seems pretty adamant to keep them a secret.

I approve of filing charges in the Hague; the US will never extradite but being a wanted criminal will be a frustration and shame to Donald the rest of his life. Particularly when people he wants to dismiss as his social inferiors mention it.

The taxes are a fun idea and the only obstacle I can see is that Iran might not have enough voice in the US domestic media to play it out. Assume they have those documents. Donald's base doesn't care about his tax cheats but Iranian domestic news would love to show an American president getting toyed with and manipulated by someone on their side.

It's a valid tactic to tease public release and see what they can get out of Donald. As you and others have observed, it's pretty clear there's something in there that he's desperate to keep secret.

220:

"That would be more comforting if that pipeline had not been shut down by drone strike just this summer. I recall we discussed it on this blog, too."

In addition, what would blocking 15% of world oil production do to the price of oil?

[hint - check the sheet of paper on the upper right-hand corner of Putin's desk for a detailed breakdown.]

221:

"How Iran retaliates, depends on the message they want to send and to whom."

My bet is that they'll work with (lean on) the government of Iraq to expel US forces from the country.

They just got an enormous boost from the US demonstrating quite publicly that they will kill anybody in Iraq, anywhere in Iraq, at will.

222:

"It was during the war itself that we lost interest in the idea of assassinating Hitler, because it was apparent that it was greatly to our advantage for the other side to be commanded by a corporal who was rapidly going round the bend than by someone who might actually have some military clue."

Or - to assassinate Hitler with the technology of the time was d*mn near impossible, and would have taken a spymaster's dream sources deeply embedded with incredibly excellent communications capability.

If the Allies had the latter, then they would have used that; it'd be far more valuable.

223:

The Blueprint Iran Could Follow After Soleimani’s Death, Uri Friedman.

Former U.S. official Ilan Goldenberg ... foresees Iran breaking free of the remaining restraints on its nuclear-weapons program. He also expects Tehran to green-light “all-out conflict” by Shiite militias in Iraq against American forces, diplomats, and personnel in Iraq; Hezbollah attacks against Americans in Lebanon and targets in Israel; rocket attacks on international oil assets or U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; and potentially even terrorist attacks in the United States and around the world. The counterterrorism analyst Charles Lister anticipates intense violence in Syria and Iraq that will pressure the United States to withdraw militarily from both countries, while the Middle East expert Jon Alterman thinks cyber warfare is coming. “The entire world will need to be on high alert for months or (more likely) years,” he writes.

For those saying, "Iran has not done anything, so clearly they are backing down", I would suggest the leaders (and people) of Iran might be a bit more patient in their vengeance than you.

224:

Not only republican presidents, everybody have been doing it since Reagan got shot, for instance Al Gore was Clintons best life insurance. Obama may or may not have broken the pattern, but Mike Pence is certainly only there for Trumps personal safety.

For that same reason Pence is safe from the iranians revenge, Trump wouldn't care one iota about his death.

If Iran want tit for tat, it's the Kushners who should be worried, because the entire "special envoi to middle east" thing is like having a bulls-eye painted on your back, which is why I expect no Kushners to set foot in middle east for the rest of the Trump presidency.

One aspect of how drones have developed in the last decade, in particular how hard it is to attribute who controlled them, is that it must be assumed as certain, that most significant embassies/spy-hubs have cheap COTS drones in stock, with custom but deniable payloads ranging from SIGINT to plastic explosives.

Even if the passengers ultimately survive, a direct emplacement of 100g explosives on the roof of an armoured car, under SS protection, in the middle of WDC, would be undisputed "win" for Iran, and therefore it wouldn't surprise me.

225:

"For those saying, "Iran has not done anything, so clearly they are backing down", I would suggest the leaders (and people) of Iran might be a bit more patient in their vengeance than you."

In addition, Iran is under serious constraints (dealing with the USA) *and* knows that public support for a war is near zero. Even the warmongering press has learned a few lessons from the Iraq War.

Iran's first and required step is for them to not give Trump a 'provocation'.

226:

Nile
YES
Thoroughly destabilising Saudi is win-win-win for Iran
Fucks up the entire US relationships in the area, fucks up oil prices & KARBALA - never, ever forget Karbala.

Barry
Actually, if Adlof could have been knocked off any time between ooh November 1942 & June 1944 ... I think the German generals would havw=e rapidly withdrawn to the lines of .... oh mid-September 1939 & called for peace ... claiming "It was Adolf - he;s dead, you can have all your land back .... SORRY!"
Might have got away with it, too .....

Lavery
Unlikely
They have form for targeted revenge, not an all-over-the-landscape splurge.
Now then ... who or what are the targets?

PH-K
Slaughterbots ... like we were discussing?

227:

it's pretty clear there's something in there that he's desperate to keep secret.

My darkest hilarious speculation would be that the dementia and concomitant short-term memory loss are advanced enough that whatever he's desperate to keep secret -- which is obviously something long-standing, so it predates the dementia -- has already come out and been spun into irrelevance, but he keeps forgetting this and is in a perpetual tormented tizzy of anticipatory phobia over it.

228:

Speaking of Peter Pan, as we were not too long ago: Happy Public Domain Day!

229:

I suggest you do a bit of googling on both those named individuals' backgrounds. Hint: one's a foreign policy think-tank wonk from the US defense establishment, special experience in Israel-Palestine relations, and the other is a journalist covering the middle-eastern theatre of US imperial military force projection. Basically they're both invested up to their armpits in the "we need a war with Iran, stat" tribe.

You can trust them to give you a good picture of what the war hawks inside the Beltway are thinking. But impartial commentators on international relations? Nope.

230:

One aspect of how drones have developed in the last decade, in particular how hard it is to attribute who controlled them, is that it must be assumed as certain, that most significant embassies/spy-hubs have cheap COTS drones in stock, with custom but deniable payloads ranging from SIGINT to plastic explosives.

Disagree. Hard.

That's not what embassies are for; moreover, even the intel personnel stationed in embassies aren't usually there to spy on the host nation -- if they run agents at all, they usually run agents spying in neighbouring countries, so they can swear truthfully and honestly that they're not spying on their host. (Forget the USA, where this is geographically impractical: think in terms of embassies in Europe, where an attache in Brussels can easily meet with assets working in Berlin or Paris or Amsterdam -- or even London -- on a day-trip basis by car or train.)

If by some mischance an embassy is invaded (see also: Tehran 1979) and the contents are found to include killer drones, this will be global headline news for a month and cause shutdowns and expulsions of that nation's embassies all around the world.

Again: see the outcome of the Libyan Embassy Siege in London in 1984: after that cock-up Libya was diplomatically isolated.

It's much simpler for one of the afforemented attaches to merely put an offshore investment vehicle in touch with a local landlord, enabling said OIV to lease a warehouse, at which point they've got a base. There might be some smuggling via diplomatic bags, but the bags will barely touch the floor inside the embassy before they're whisked out again: more likely, anything dirty will be kept well clear.

231:

That's an American source.

Peter Pan is forever and perpetually, eternally in copyright in the UK. And even after the UK leaves the EU, Peter Pan will be in copyright until 2040 in Spain (post-mortem copyright runs for 90 years, not 70).

232:

On the subject of depressing Januaries: 20 month (month, not year) orange/butterscotch tabby: smart, athletic, social, beautiful orange eyes, fearless, two six month old minions ready to do his bidding at the snap of a paw: vicious lymphoma. 1 week to six months based on response to massive steroid injections, leaning heavily to the lower time. I've never had a pet in living death before; they either come back from the vet right as rain or they don't come back. So we're in this whole awkward, it's either Tuesday or your funeral situation. And while a cat's life isn't a global crisis, I feel like I could sum up our general situation the same way.

And uh, Happy New Year.


233:

That's an American source.

Thank you, I am QUITE aware of that...

Anyway, it's not for the book, but for a film adaptation.

Peter Pan the book is available as a free eBook on Gutenberg, and has been since 2006.

234:

Well yes, "Peter and Wendy" is on Project Gutenberg, and technically illegal to download in the UK ... although I can't really see Great Ormond Street going after PG, or anyone else for that matter unless they're using P&W to make money (which in the UK should be going to the GOSH childrens' charity -- hint: pirating Peter Pan in the UK isn't a good look, despite the copyright weirdness).

235:

Commiserations, that sucks. All I can suggest is, be there for your cat's last days and hours, and don't delay when you see him fading.

(I've been there myself: took Frigg to the vet for the final injection and was told she'd already become dehydrated and lost 300 grams over 72 hours -- burning up from the cancer. Letting go was really hard, but at that point keeping her alive for another day would have been cruel. Whereas I know people who didn't want to say goodbye, and ended up forcing their pet to suffer.)

236:

...and one might ice the cake with the supposition that he doesn't even remember what it was, all he has left is the fixation that he has to keep something secret.

237:

Not the point - I said we lost interest in the idea, without comment on the practicality of it, or indeed on who might be doing it. The Germans themselves tried several times and came close to success, but their failure to actually achieve it ceased to disappoint us.

238:

So there's this (via Reuters): Iran to take international legal measures against U.S. for Soleimani's killing - TV.

DUBAI, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Iran will launch legal measures at the international level to hold the United States to account for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Tehran’s most prominent military commander, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state TV on Friday.
“It was clearly a terrorist action ... Iran will launch various legal measures at the international level to hold America to account for Soleimani’s assassination,” Zarif said. (Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Also reported: Iran's supreme leader calls Trump retarded (according to the Daily Mail), the UK's Foreign Secretary (who could himself be described using the R-word) says the assassination was insanely dangerous brinksmanship, and it appears that Trump briefed Israel before Congress.

It looks possible that Iranian short-term retaliation will take the shape of isolating the USA diplomatically by painting them as a rogue state. It's a tactic that doesn't work against a hegemonic power with allies, but since 2016 the US has shat all over the alliance system it built since 1945; sooner or later there'll be a reckoning as the incumbent superpower loses their number one position, and there's a very hard to stomach climb-down point where suddenly the isolation becomes obvious. (It happened to the UK abruptly in 1956.)

Oh, and the Iraqi Parliament is angrily discussing plans to expel all American troops from Iraqi soil.

Mission Accomplished, Mr Trump!

239:

Also of interest, from the Washington Post (apologies if this is paywalled), comes a story that includes:
Officials gave differing and incomplete accounts of the intelligence they said prompted Trump to act. Some said they were stunned by his decision, which could lead to war with one of America’s oldest adversaries in the Middle East."
“It was tremendously bold and even surprised many of us,” said a senior administration official with knowledge of high-level discussions among Trump and his advisers, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Now, WaPo is anti-Trump, pro-Bezos, but it looks like the minions are handing Trump all the responsibility for this one. A previous article hinted that the Pentagon had not prepared for this order and scrambled to implement it.

Getting back to the Psychology of Military Incompetence, the WaPo article also makes some noises that Trump's wants to not look weak, and not have something akin to Benghazi hung on him. That's kind of weird, because Benghazi was something the Republicans manufactured to damage the Obama (democratic) presidency, in part by making it harder for the State Department to defend its installations. Therefore, there's two possible conclusions which don't contradict each other. One is that this is just the usual BS flowing out of the Republicans, and the other is that Trump is worried about appearing weak, but has forgotten the fundamental billionaire rule of leadership, which is that it's about control, not ownership. If he can't control the relationship and can't control himself, then he can't appear strong, no matter how much damage he causes.

240:

but it does mean that the Commonwealth books are unlikely to take the market by storm any time soon if you carry on this way

Absolutely so.

It makes a heroic, but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at pretending to be written in English is the description of someone who liked The March North enough to do a whole-book let's-read thread on a gaming forum. The "pretending to be written in English" part I cannot alter; one writes with the brain chemistry one actually has, not the brain chemistry one would like to have.

In consequence, "Will the acquiring editor like this?" has a strong default answer of "no" in my head; "can I make a career out of this?" has a correspondingly strong "if you want to die in a ditch" answer.

Recognizing that, hey, it's the Century of the Anchovy; I can send the books out into the world to see if they find friends, and that'll do, was freeing. It's not optimal in a bunch of senses, but it's what's practicable.

241:

Just out of curiosity, what kinds of profits/sales are you looking at?

242:

I like your idea.

My take is a bit more pedestrian: Trump's not a billionaire. His cash flows in and out may be in the billions, but he controls/owns less than a billion in assets. And his system of LLCs (or whatever he's done) is so simple that people can actually figure out this fact if they get to see his tax returns.

This is a fundamental problem with the whole term "billionaire." Most of them have deliberately run their assets through so many foundations, trusts, and corporations that they actually don't own much of anything, because ownership can be traced, taxed, and reclaimed. It's all about control of assets. Because of this obfuscation, it's really hard to tell how much the super-rich actually own, how much they legitimately control, and how much they BS their way into exerting control by creating the illusion that they own/control it, even when they do not.

Of course, anyone who has debt (mortgage, student loan, car note) has the same problem of financial vs. perceived status. But given the mystique around the word "billionaire," I suspect that anxiety about finding out one's actual financial status is something that afflicts the super-rich in particular.

Problem is, when you hand a billionaire the nuclear football, it actually becomes dangerous to everybody to question his billionaire status, especially if he has a fragile ego. Since there are three putative billionaires currently in the race for the Presidency (Trump, Steyer, Bloomberg) we really should think about this.

And getting back to the notion that this is the dementia talking, if Trump's freaked about his billionaire status, it kind of is. Trump's money troubles have been in front of the public for decades, and his supporters decidedly do not care.

243:

If you want to plot baroque retaliation scenarios, Iranian agents manage to spike the President's diet coke with MPTP, thereby paralyzing all Republican-controlled parts of the US government without actually killing anyone. And my guess is that, even if this happened, they still would invoke the 25th Amendment.

244:

In consequence, "Will the acquiring editor like this?" has a strong default answer of "no" in my head; "can I make a career out of this?" has a correspondingly strong "if you want to die in a ditch" answer.

Email me. (If you're open to suggestions.)

245:

Current news has a whistleblower leaking documents (on a laptop inherited from their father, a Deutsch Bank executive who died about 2 years ago) strongly indicating that DB acted as a conduit for very large bank loans to Trump -- in the double to triple digit millions of dollars -- from a Russian state-owned bank.

If true, there's your Moscow connection in a nutshell: Trump would be broke if Putin hadn't handed him a fortune (with strings attached).

If true this also makes Trump a foreign agent of influence and, depending on what his instructions were, quite possibly guilty of treason, although proving that one without Kremlin insider cooperation would be quite a reach.

Note the extremes to which the GRU have gone in recent years to silence defectors/dissidents with info about agents in the west. Intimidating everyone into silence to protect the status of Asset Number One, when AN1 is the POTUS, would be consistent with this picture.

(Adjusts tinfoil hat to a jaunty angle: winks at the camera.)

246:

Since this is after all a post on books and publishing, and I know Charlie’s been paying some attention to it...

I had nearly forgotten about the RWAs self-immolation from last week until this morning when NPR had a story about it; Racism Scandal In The Romance Writing Industry. And now a few hours later it seems someone opened the door and it’s gone full backdraft.

247:

In the strange are the ways of fate department, I just learned that the founder of the drone line that led to the MQ-9 that killed Suleimani was an Iraqi Jew who wound up in California via Israel.

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

248:

In addition, Iran is under serious constraints (dealing with the USA) *and* knows that public support for a war is near zero.

Assuming that it is the Iranian public (and not the US public) that you are referring to, I can't help wondering if the Iranian government would like to escalate the conflict in order to get the war-nationalism boost to help quell the current protests against the regime.

Like Trump, they do not want to escalate into full-blown war, but some loud yelling, proxy conflicts and maybe a few skirmishes. But as others have mentioned it is a dangerous game that all to easily escalates into an actual war.

249:

See also William Gibson’s recent retweets about a Russian private jet, apparently carrying a Russian bank exec, possibly on their way to Mar-a-Lago.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1213332048573800453.html
&
https://mobile.twitter.com/ScottMStedman/status/1213378826291466240

250:

Graydon @178 said:Book layout really is an art; having someone do a skilled job is consequently not cheap. It's something I've thought about for when the Commonweal is finished and there might be enough readers that such a project could pay its own costs, but I'm honestly not hopeful of this.

Graydon,

I had resolved to take a sabbatical from posting during 2020, but so much misinformation about book layout and Print On Demand(POD) has been posted in the thread that I will do this one last post as if it was still 2019, and then fade away for the year.

- POD means that the book is only printed when it is ordered. You do not buy thousands of copies to sit rotting in your garage. If any service offers to do that, and it only costs "thousands of bucks to do", run away. HA!

If you do everything DIY, it costs very little to get your book into Amazon.

If you don't want to do Amazon, look into IngramSpark.

Self-Publish Your Book with IngramSpark

If you don't want to deal directly with IngramSpark try BookBaby.

BookBaby

I do everything through KDP, which is Amazon, so it only costs me dollars to have the paper book be in the system. Whatever way you go it still costs very little to create the PDF for the book block and cover.

- Use LibreOffice for book layout. That's what it was designed for.

The guy who developed LibreOffice had a design philosophy about DeskTopPublishing. He wrote a book about it. You can get a pdf of it at:

Designing with LibreOffice

- Basically, all you need for book layout is LibreOffice, and use the Page Styles correctly.

I use LibreOffice for book layout, using the Page Styles, and use the Draw part of LibreOffice to assemble the cover. Then create the PDF for each using LibreOffice.

I use GIMP, and Inkscape, and occasionally Blender, for the art elements. All free graphic software.

There are also sites where you can get art for the cover, they usually charge a small fee depending on the use, $10 to $20 dollar range. If you use the licensed art, be sure to mention that at the start of your book where you list copyright stuff.

I do 6x9 book block, Garamond 12(don't use smaller than 11), single space.

- Garamond already has the proper spacing built in, so do not pad out the spacing.

Half inch margins all around. Set the margins to "mirror margins". Adjust the top and bottom margins for your headers and footers. Adjust the "inside" margin depending on the thickness of your book. I use "cream" paper, that thickens the spine so I can have clear text on the spine.

- Remember, the fancier you make the layout the harder it is to correct. Think playing whack-o-mole. Glug!

Look at what Dean Wesley Smith did with his Smith's Monthly magazine.

Look Inside! on the first issue and read the introduction where he explains what he is doing. Notice the two column layout. He used InDesign for that. The ebooks are linear. Notice in the copyright section he mentions where the cover photo came from.

Smith's Monthly #1 (Volume 1)

Look at the series he published.

Smith's Monthly Book Series (37 Books)

Look at the covers. He did all those issues spending only a little per issue. He did not spend thousands to produce each issue. He used InDesign for the book layout, but I find LibreOffice does well enough for novel layout. InDesign is only worth it if you are doing complex things like a magazine the way he did, and you can rent InDesign per month rather than buy it outright.

BTW, Chances are that you did not even read this far in the post, or bother to actually look at the links and do the work. Thus I am on sabbatical from posting the rest of 2020, because too many people simply ignore my Real World advice. HA!

Have fun.

251:

They could kill John Bolton, and maybe a couple other "Bomb, Bomb Iran" types. That might serve them best of all, particularly if they could kill a lot of John Bolton types without tipping their hands.

252:

This may well be true. It's worth also noting that similar stories were circulating in 2016, and I think I saw it in Talking Points Memo (I saw this latest story in the Daily Kos and decided not to circulate it here).

Again, it may be true, it may be election-year agitprop. It's hard to tell the veracity of it because this story only seems to pop up during election years, and for some reason, no one kept digging and reporting after 2017.

What does matter is that it's unlikely to sway things much, because most democrats probably already believe it, most Republicans do not, and the Independents either won't hear it or have already thought about it and factored it into their voting. And this kinda sucks like a walrus, as far as I'm concerned.

253:

I noted that above as Trump's motivation to "wag the dog." It should be noted that the accusation is currently unsubstantiated, but I strongly suspect that one could get legal discovery and/or a search warrant out of the accusation.

254:

Wait until after the US presidential election. THEN:
c(1): If Trump is re-elected, do something that affects him personally -- e.g. massive damage to his brand (which associates with his ego, such as multiple simultaneous attacks on Trump properties around the world)

They wouldn’t necessarily need to attack them to hurt them. Mailing suspicious parcels, that ultimately turn out to be innocuous but clearly meant to seem suspicious, to his commercial properties would hurt “his brand”.

255:

I am considering self-publishing my book and I definitely appreciate the advice. In fact, I will be bookmarking your post immediately after hitting "Submit."

256:

I'd be thrilled if you made that advice to Graydon a public post here on the blog.

257:

I've been following the RWA thing here. It will likely get taught in PR and Law Schools as "What Not To Do" when having publicity trouble. The best summation I've found is here:

https://www.claireryanauthor.com/blog/2019/12/27/the-implosion-of-the-rwa

258:

Graydon @ 178:

"And it is a problem with the technology I hope someone will figure out a way to fix someday (SOON)."

It's very probably in the same category as a bra-fitting algorithm; the effort to develop the automation can't be supported by expected sales.

Book layout really is an art; having someone do a skilled job is consequently not cheap. It's something I've thought about for when the Commonweal is finished and there might be enough readers that such a project could pay its own costs, but I'm honestly not hopeful of this.

(As of some time in November of 2019, the then-extant four Commonweal books have sold something like 2100 copies. The people who like them do indeed like them, but those are not the sort of sales numbers which excite publishers or justify print runs.)

Yeah, it would have to be something developed by printers or small publishers and made available as a service to authors who just wanted or needed a small press run. Two thousand of your titles wouldn't be enough to support the business, but if they could get print-on-demand orders from lots of authors ... the way Blurb & Lulu do for photo books. I think that would be enough to sustain a market.

259:

It looks possible that Iranian short-term retaliation will take the shape of isolating the USA diplomatically by painting them as a rogue state.
It is a very encouraging sign that they are trying this. They have a reasonably good set of facts/reality to do it with. (I'm generally a pacifist, to be clear.)
Couple that with chatter about delayed retaliation plus deliberately bad com-sec. [1]
Proxies will do what they do, but if Iran doesn't encourage retaliation (or better, discourages it, even selectively and publicly) they will be in a decent political position internationally vs the US.

[1] A member of a family (not mob afaik) I know described their "two year rule" for revenge; revenge for serious offenses is delayed for 2+ years. If they're still in the mood at the 2 year mark, the target doesn't expect revenge.

260:

Yes, I've been biting my lip, because I found using (gasp!) Word and (gasp!) KDP was the simplest way to publish, far easier than Kobo or Smashwords. It's annoying that the 500 megatonne baboon happens to also have the highest author payments, the easiest uploads, and the best sales, but there you are.

To be fair, my friends who publish plant identification books that require full color photos do not use KDP, they do the old-fashioned thing of publishing boxes of books and dealing with the resales. The reason they purportedly do this is that they want control over the colors, and the only way to do this is by doing one publishing run where they get to talk directly with a local printer and check the colors on the proof.

On the other hand, the author of the extremely well received Butterflies of San Diego publishes it on Lulu and is apparently happy with the results. I've met him, and he is, shall we say, extremely detail oriented (and a very nice guy. But as detail oriented as you'd expect from someone who's named butterfly species from specimens). On the third hand, I've noticed that you get different colored covers when you send the same files to Lulu and KDP, for what it's worth.

I think the bottom line is that, if you're simply publishing a story, yes, you can typeset it in Word, LibreOffice, or many other formats if it's text only (and this includes the index). If you're going to be silly enough to publish tables or pictures in an eBook, some services (SW) want you to pay extra for it. If you want to publish large illustrations, I'm not so sure, but based on very limited experience I'd go with Lulu.

The thing I'd *very definitely advise* is getting a book on copyright and fair use and reading the damned thing. My first draft of Hot Earth Dreams violated the fair use doctrine in several places, to the point where I could have been sued had it been published. This isn't an issue if you're publishing an old-fashioned story, but if you're quoting or reusing anything, it's worth checking to see if your use is legal, whether you have to get permission, and so on.

My current issue is determining whether it's legal to use someone else's conlang in a story, and especially whether it's legal to make artwork using someone else's script for that language, when the script was published online with a noncommercial CC license. It appears in both cases that it is (you can't copyright a text font, and in any case, if you use less than 50 words in order, it's fair use), but I'm going to check again before I try to sell it.

261:

Charlie & Private Iron
Please don't
Ratatosk went down very fast, after being "sightly" ill, apparently one he'd had the year before & recovered from ... I'm still agonising if I could/should have done something different, would it have made a difference.
He was greatly loved.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

the UK's Foreign Secretary ... says the assassination was insanely dangerous brinksmanship
THIS administratioon distancing itself from DT?
Now there's a straw in the wind ... maybe they are aware, just for once, of UK public opinion - & also the backblast from Blair's "little adventure" is stil in memory.

CHarlie @ 246
Which suggests that Novichock in Salisbury may be relevant ... oh dear.
Nonetheless, that info, as it percolates through will REALLY discredit DT outside of his insane "base".
And ... that post on the RU - "private" jet heading to very close to Mar-a-Lago is ... very interesting.
Come to pick him up, before the shit hits the afan, or come to give him some "prep" ( Like really serious blackmail ) as to what his instructions are, as the Manchurian Candidate?

262:

Damian @ 183:

“Looks like Scribus is a 32 bit Mac only application, which might be a bit of a problem going forward even before the apparently steep learning curve.”

Really? The once or twice I’ve used it was on Windows. Looks like there’s a download for pretty much everything but iOS:

https://www.scribus.net/downloads/stable-branch/

’m be surprised if it can’t handle imposition too. Learning curve - I vaguely remember the tool layout was a bit clunky, but it’s roughly the same visual metaphors as any other layout program (such as MS Publisher or Adobe InDesign).

The link provided led me to the 32 bit Mac version page that didn't suggest other versions were available, so I didn't really look any further.

Still leaves me with my other two concerns
     1. I'd still have to read the book on-screen to set it up for printing and/or
     2. if I did find someone who would do print-on-demand for me, I wouldn't be able to demonstrate I had the author's permission to reproduce his copyrighted work.

For that matter, just because an ePub is DRM free doesn't mean the author has given permission to reproduce his work in print and I DO try to respect other people's copyrights.

263:

Why not print the e-book out on both sides of ordinary A4 or letter-sized paper with a set of margins that essentially gets you an 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 piece of paper with one-inch margins on each side. Do it landscape style and take the (A4 or letter-sized) paper to Fedex-Kinkos and have them cut the extra paper off the left and right sides then bind it for you. It looks to me like a 3-inch margin on the left and right will work for a letter-sized sheet.

Obviously this will be imperfect, but I think it's a good quick-and-dirty solution, though you may need to experiment a little.

264:

Yeah, it would have to be something developed by printers or small publishers and made available as a service to authors who just wanted or needed a small press run.

The business model is definitely out there!

The hard part is not getting the printing done; it's having the skilled design to feed into the printing. That includes the book layout and the cover art, both of which do require specific skills and thus cost money for those as lack those skills.

265:

201: Scott, you don't understand McConnell's game at all, which is no secret, he's been quite public about it. McConnell unlike Trump is a smart politician.

Not call witnesses? Of course he'll call witnesses. First witnesses to be called will be Joe and Hunter Biden! His plan is to turn the impeachment inquiry into an impeachment of Joe Biden. Biden, either due to senility and stupidity or, more likely, because there really is sleazy stuff about him and Ukraine which would look very bad under oath, has preemptively stated that he would refuse to testify. Granting McConnell a delicious choice. Either he can subpoena him and have him tossed in jail if he defies the subpoena, or he can magnanimously let him get away with refusal to testify, and not have anyone else testify either. Either way he wins, Trump wins, and Biden looks like a crook and gets knocked out of contention for the Presidency.

Which is a strategic win for the Republicans, or at least they think it is. Being as according to the polls, Biden and Sanders are the two candidates who beat Trump, and Buttigieg always loses and Warren at best ties, the logical result would be Sanders as the Demo candidate. Redbaiting Sanders won't help Republicans, given all the stuff running around about how Trump is supposedly Putin's agent. And it certainly won't help Democratic rivals! So the Republican belief that Trump would win against Sanders is most certainly wrong, especially since this Iran thing has embarrassing fiasco written all over it.

266:

Why is Warren unpopular? APart from being female, of course .....

267:

218: The whole Trump tax return thing is a scam, which the Democrats want to do to make Trump look bad. But I don't think they actually want them released, which would just make it a nine day wonder to be forgotten about, instead of a steady drip drip.

If the Democrats actually wanted them released, nothing would be easier. Whether or not there is a "deep state conspiracy" vs. Trump, obviously there are plenty of people in the CIA and FBI who hate Trump with a passion, whether for good reasons or bad. Nothing would be easier for them than getting hold of them and leaking them anonymously. Wikileaks would love to publish them, to get out from under the accusation that they are pro-Trump.

268:

Patriarchal white supremacy in the US is referred to as "capitalism".

Warren is brilliant and ruthless and likely to be effective; Warren is also inherently not in favour of "capitalism".

Which means the entire status quo, including most of the democratic party's status quo, opposes her candidacy. If the white women ever defect in significant numbers, that's it, it's over; the Slaver faction has entirely lost. All US politics for the last forty-some years have been about the Slaver faction trying to advance its interests. (Which is where the rising inequality comes from; enough inequality and there's no possibility of effective opposition from outside the ruling class.)

Bernie says nice things but Bernie is very, very white and would not -- even presuming he's still alive then -- significantly affect the status quo. Warren likely would, and since the status quo is certainly doomed -- climate change is going to result in no more fossil carbon extraction one way or another; the US is the Oil Empire -- it's having a major round of denying facts which is why US politics looks like that.

269:

267 She isn't unpopular, she is just less popular than Biden and Sanders, and more popular than Trump or Buttigieg. Her electoral difficulties are because she is perceived as the candidate of progressive suburbia, whereas Sanders and even Biden are seen as having more of the common touch, with more appeal to the lower classes, of whom nowadays there are far more of in America than middle class people. Things have gotten so bad in the "heartland" that for working class folk, those who don't like Sanders because he is a *socialist* are by now outnumbered by those who like him because he says he is one. Especially among the youth. In the last election, there were a large number of Sanders voters in the primaries who stayed home or even voted for Trump. Voters for whom the two choices are Trump and Sanders are not an uncommon phenomenon.

270:

" If Trump is re-elected, do something that affects him personally -- e.g. massive damage to his brand (which associates with his ego, such as multiple simultaneous attacks on Trump properties around the world) or his children"

If Trump is re-elected, he (and the GOP) would be nigh invulnerable to any domestic political event.

And he'd pull so much money in from emoluments that he could write off every legal and semi-legal source of income.

271:

Unholyguy @ 184: Well so far they’ve gotten away with killing him, Iran hasn’t done shit other then threaten, Congress hasn’t done shit other then whine and the rest of the world seems to be turning a blind eye as well

They even did another strike this morning to emphasize how little of a shit they give about what anyone thinks or who scared they are of Iran

In what way is that incompetence?

So far seems to be going swimmingly for the Donald, unless he really did wanted a greater response and an actual war

I've been giving this some thought and a little bit of study since the subject came up here.

So lets start with Trumpolini's competence or lack thereof:

Trump is notoriously lackadaisical with regard to his National Security Briefings & I don't think anyone with an ounce of intelligence (in both senses of the word) believes that this is HIS plan. Trump was blabber-mouthing last week to anyone he could buttonhole down at Mar-a-Lago about a "big strike" against Iran in retaliation for Kata'ib Hezbollah's attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. We're probably lucky he didn't have a meeting with Kislyak in the Oval Office before the strike took place or Soleimani would have likely been forewarned.

But there's no telling if this was the "big strike" he was blabber-mouthing about or not. Trumpolini is an extreme opportunist, quick to take credit for other people's work any time he perceives a success (and equally quick to shift blame onto others when it turns out he's fucked up).

All his crowing about the strike on Twitter afterwards shows, In My Not So Damn Humble Opinion, poor judgement that overwhelmingly demonstrates his lack of competence (as if we needed further demonstration).

I have questions about what really happened. The U.S. and Iran have a fraught history - a dispute going back 40 years - about the sanctity of Diplomatic Missions, the security of Embassies and the safety of Embassy Personnel, so that's the background against which this is playing out.

Kata'ib Hezbollah is one of Iran's proxy militias in Iraq. They have been attacking "coalition forces" (which these days appears to consist of the Iraqi Army and their U.S. support - including U.S. military personnel plus some Iraqi Kurdish militias in northeastern Iraq) during the war against Da'esh/ISIL/ISIS in both Iraq & Syria and afterwards.

27 December 2019, Kata'ib Hezbollah fired 30 some rockets into the "K1" airbase (located NW of the mostly Kurdish city of Kirkuk) killing one American civilian contractor and wounding several American Soldiers along with members of the Iraqi military.

29 December 2019, in retaliation for that rocket attack (the 11th rocket attack in 2019 against bases in Iraq & Syria where U.S. service members are located) the U.S. struck at five Kata'ib Hezbollah bases (3 in Iraq, 2 in Syria). The bases targeted were weapons storage facilities and C3I facilities used by Kata’ib Hezbollah to target US forces.

31 December 2019, Kata'ib Hezbollah stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad managing to breach the outer perimeter at the ECP. It should be noted that Iraqi "security forces" stood aside while the mob attacked the U.S. Embassy.

3 January 2020, subsequently, 3 days after the Embassy attack, Maj General Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds Force which sponsors the various Hezbollah militias in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon (and I don't know where else ... but I suspect their hands are dirty in Libya, Somalia & Egypt as well) shows up at Baghdad International Airport and gets into a convoy headed who knows where, to confer with who knows who, and who knows what marching orders for them he might have been carrying.

The commander of Kata'ib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was killed in the same strike. I think it's reasonable to question who was the primary target and who might have been "Collateral Damage" ...

The Defense Department said Thursday that Soleimani had "orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months - including the attack on December 27th - culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel." The Iranian general also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy, the Pentagon said.
          USA Today

So, here's the nut for me ... General Qasem Soleimani was a self-proclaimed enemy belligerent, responsible for numerous attacks on U.S. personnel & for the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad just days before he arrived. He was also an enemy belligerent IN UNIFORM and as such was a legitimate MILITARY target, and the timing strongly suggests he was engaged in belligerent activities against the U.S. at the time he was killed.

You can argue all you want about whether it was a stupid idea politically [**] to target him, but I'm convinced that morally & ethically it was a legitimate military operation, within the laws of war, against someone who was actively making war on the United States at the time he was killed.

This was not a targeted assassination of some innocent. He was making war on the United States, had declared his intention to make war on the United States and had committed overt acts in pursuit of making war on the United States.

[**] I certainly believe Trumpolini's handling of the announcement was stupidity exemplified.

272:

Robert van der Heide @ 185: China’s approach to the trade war Trump started indicates they do: they’ve been systematically making moves that apply pain to industries in states that went Trump.

Is there any reason to assume Iran’s political class is less competent?

It's a theocracy. You're not allowed to be part of the political class unless the Mullah's approve. They're hide-bound, reactionary religious fundamentalists.

Is there any reason to believe they'd be any less closed off to anything in reality that contradicts what their Imams tell them to believe than are our own hidebound, reactionary religious fundamentalists willing to question what the preachers tell them?

273:

Bill Arnold @ 187:

China’s approach has had no measurable impact on trumps approval numbers

Is this based on an analysis of statewide polls?

That wasn't the question ... or the answer. The question was:

Do you think anyone in the power structure in Iran (or China) makes a distinction between what Donald Trump does in pursuit of his own selfish interests and what is in the interest of the "United States"?

... leaving aside entirely the fantastical idea that DJT might give a shit about U.S. "interests" or anyone's interests other than his own.

274:

Graydon @ 189: What we're actually going to get? It depends on how the faction fights settle out.

Right now there are at least four.

There's one going on in Iran on the Revolutionary Guard side; who is in charge now?

I've seen at least one analysis piece that suggests the U.S. might have done Iran a favor; that Soleimani was not a competent commander & had been promoted past his level of competence because of his political connections.

The guy who stepped into his shoes, so to speak, is more competent - a better strategist & tactician than Soleimani was - and bears watching.

275:

_Moz_ @ 198:

without the necessary continuous planning and stable funding

Speaking of which, didn't they just cut current recruits off from long-term medical care? I read that they get two years after discharge now, and cash for long-term injuries rather than support.

I'm not saying that's an attempt to stop smart people joining the military, I don't think there's that level of thought gone into the change. But I do think it's going to change the calculation for a lot of people because now they have to budget on buying health insurance post-service as part of the cost of serving. I wonder if some cunning weasel will decide to sell such a package just to make clear the value of what's been taken away?

Don't know if that's something that happened recently to the U.K. military. I only know about the U.S. military.

It was done to us in 2004 (while I was overseas in Iraq) when Cheney/Bush realized that the VA providing the standard of post war care that was put in place for WW2 veterans and continued up through the beginning of the Iraq war was going to cost Trillions and trillions (forgive me Carl Sagan for I have sinned) of dollars and threatened to expose the folly of their tax cut agenda (the dumb idea that you can cut taxes for the people who have all the money and it will somehow magically balance the budget - Reaganomics on steroids). So they cut the benefits - retroactively for anyone who served in Iraq mid 2004 or later.

If you're Reserve or National Guard, you get two years of medical from the VA after your REFRAD (RElease FRom Active Duty). Of course, for a while there, you'd probably be BACK IN IRAQ by then, so your two years would start all over again at the end of your subsequent tour.

If you're active military, you get two years VA medical after your ETS (End Term of Service). I don't think there's any cash payout if you suffer from long-term service connected injury. They just kick your ass out because you can no longer perform your duties and you get BUPKIS! Not even a reach around.

AFAIK, the Obama administration restored none of the cuts and for damn sure Trumpolini has not.

I have a particular beef with this because I had already EARNED VA medical care FOR LIFE under the old rules years before I was sent to Iraq. I had 29 "good years" at the time. A "good year" is what qualifies you for retirement benefits. Twenty are required for retirement benefits. I retired with 32.

The VA is dunning me all the time over my "medical bills". They don't take Medicare and they don't take Tricare for Life.

Every once in a while I get a letter from the US Treasury telling me they're going to deduct what the VA says I own them from my Social Security. Before I started drawing Social Security they took it out of my retired pay from the Army.

276:

Why is Warren unpopular? APart from being female, of course .....
Graydon's answer @ 269 is good. (FWIW I like Warren. Not least because she is intelligent and can speak extemporaneously in whole coherent paragraphs, unlike the current POTUS. And she can write.)
I'll add:
- Yes, misogyny. But note that Hillary Clinton won the US popular vote by a wide margin in 2016. And Warren is popular, just not the front runner.
- Warren's support among black women is weak. Not sure why, but she hasn't made enough effort to gain their support.
- Her policy proposals have made enemies among the very wealthy (wealth tax), financial services, the US healthcare industry (medicare for all). These are enemies ... with money. Which in US law, is equivalent to protected "speech". (Bernie Sanders is not seen as a credible threat by them.) Since these are a very heavy lift to actually enact as law in the US, monied interests are being mostly silly to worry about them.
- There have been attacks on her, some of them influence ops. Some of it but certainly not all is from the Bernie Sanders camp. (The attacks on Kamala Harris were worse, though, and some appear to not have been US-based.)
- Bloomberg's entering into the race was mostly about deflating Warren's popularity numbers, IMO. (Have no evidence for that, FWIW.)
- She's not a natural political talent. Her political skills are improving but she still makes mistakes. (e.g. her timing for announcing support for Medicare for All was poor, and her partial walkback looked silly.) She looks rather good in meetings where she's the speaker or taking and answering questions.

277:

And the saga continues, Trump tweets he has a gun pointed at Iran’s head and to just please pretty please give him the excuse to pull the trigger

278:

Do you think anyone in the power structure in Iran (or China) makes a distinction between what Donald Trump does in pursuit of his own selfish interests and what is in the interest of the "United States"?
Yes, I do. They'd be stupid not to, and they are not stupid.
First, Trump has made it abundantly clear that a change in the POTUS can have significant effects to things that are controlled by the POTUS, like treaties. (e.g. the JCPOA, or the TPP or the INF treaty)
China's and Iran's political calculations have to consider whether or not DJT is reelected, and thus whether or not to try to nudge the US in one direction or the other (and how).
Second, Trump can be influenced by tempting and/or threatening and/or satisfying his selfish interests. That includes his ego.

279:

paws4thot @ 214: Add to this that "some people" have explicitly stated buy signals for a dead tree edition, and an active dislike of e-readers. You're certainly sending us a "don't buy my stuff because you also have to buy hardware you don't want" message.

I don't know about the new hardware angle. I think I saw PDF files among the ePub options & I read them all the time when I have to. It's just that I'm a stubborn ol' Luddite and I don't have to when I'm reading for leisure. So I don't.

280:

277: As for Harris, speaking as a Californian let me tell you that all the bad things so well and effectively said vs. Harris by the politically late and unlamented Tulsi were 100% accurate, which is why she was unable to answer effectively. Her being driven out of the race was a joy to all Calif. progressives. And Warren is just as weak among black men as women. Sanders's appeal to nonwhites is weak, but at least he is not perceived as a white suburbanite. BTW,somebody said that Warren isn't into capitalism. Not true. She hasn't emphasized this, as there's been a quiet agreement between the two of them to be allies against everyone else and not criticize each other, but on a number of occasions she has said that she, unlike Sanders, believes in capitalism. Not that Sanders is a socialist either really. He's an FDR Democrat who believes in New Deal social welfare measures, which is enough for your average American to believe him when he calls himself a socialist.

281:

And the saga continues, Trump tweets he has a gun pointed at Iran’s head and to just please pretty please give him the excuse to pull the trigger
That tweet thread is fairly belligerent.
Not entirely clear what he means by this (bold):
...Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!

282:

Nile @ 215: Successive Republican Presidents have installed a highly effective passive defence against assassination: the automatic succession of the Presidency to dangerously-stupid or psychopathic Vice-president.

The Ayatollah and the Revolutionary Council do *not* want Mike Pence in the White House.

For the general good, and for our peace of mind, I choose not to speculate as to who or what would be the 'passive-defence VP' for Pence.

That only works for so long as Mike Pence is perceived to be a bigger whack-job than Trumpolini. I think we're rapidly moving into the stage where Pence is viewed as the lesser evil.


283:

Sanders's appeal to nonwhites is weak, but at least he is not perceived as a white suburbanite.
OK, I'll let this rest else Charlie will put us in timeout. :-)

284:

paws4thot @ 217: Bozo? He does meet the main qualification for the job of being a "native-born USian".

Didn't he renounce his American citizenship to run for Parliament? Don't know if he'd be able to get it back and I doubt American voters would accept him for having once renounced it even if he could get it back. Besides, the U.S. and U.K. have reciprocal extradition treaties, so he couldn't hide out here even if he wanted to.

285:

The House of Hohenzollern is still there, still rich, still owns castles; if you can start the Great War and keep your money and property, there's nothing at all you can do under one construction of capitalism that means you can't keep the loot. Since the Exxon execs who made the conscious decision that, sure, I want profit more than I want to avoid killing millions are finding out that, gee, I might still be alive when this gets to be a really obvious issue, there's immense pressure for PWS Keep The Loot However Gotten capitalism. This is the "capitalism" of the Republican Party; it's a reactionary aristocratic philosophy of permanent dominance much more than it's a coherent economic platform.

Warrens construction of capitalism isn't that one. It's closer to the "innovation good" American mythologizing. It involves at least some notion of enforced responsibility for corporate actions.

It's a bit like calling Bernie a socialist; Bernie is in no way a socialist. Bernie thinks you shouldn't have to be rich, just white, to have the government do nice things for you. (This is basically the 1950s consensus position in US politics.)

286:

PrivateIron @ 233: On the subject of depressing Januaries: 20 month (month, not year) orange/butterscotch tabby: smart, athletic, social, beautiful orange eyes, fearless, two six month old minions ready to do his bidding at the snap of a paw: vicious lymphoma. 1 week to six months based on response to massive steroid injections, leaning heavily to the lower time. I've never had a pet in living death before; they either come back from the vet right as rain or they don't come back. So we're in this whole awkward, it's either Tuesday or your funeral situation. And while a cat's life isn't a global crisis, I feel like I could sum up our general situation the same way.

And uh, Happy New Year.

Had one die from FLV about 45 years ago. Never had an outdoor cat since then. And they're still all vaccinated against it anyway. They do have a way. They get into your lap and then they get under your skin and right into your heart. Sorry for your loss, but I do understand your pain.

287:

Add to this that "some people" have explicitly stated buy signals for a dead tree edition, and an active dislike of e-readers. You're certainly sending us a "don't buy my stuff because you also have to buy hardware you don't want" message.

Cost of production for ebooks is low. I more or less break even.

Cost of production for paper is higher -- roughly 10 to 20 USD per quality POD hardcover, depending on page count -- and given expected less-then-break-even sales (since there's "a cover" and "design" costs involved), insisting on paper is functionally asking me to give you money to read the book.

I do want people to read the book, but not that much.

288:

Doesn't matter, though; the US has rocketed way too many weddings to claim to follow the laws of war.

POTUS just pardoned somebody who shot Iraqi children for fun. Trump just threatened destruction of cultural sites. War crimes are US policy. (Since Obama ordered some of those drone strikes, a bipartisan and consistent policy.)

It's terrible policy, but it's there, so "legit military target" isn't an effective or credible response. Especially not in Iraq, which was subject to the US waging aggressive war in the administration of Bush fils.

289:

David Duke ... Angry racists are Trump's core demographic;

Sorry but David Duke is, well, if all of HIS supporters walked away from DT, it wouldn't matter in the least. Duke is, to put it mildly, waaaaaaaaaay out on the edge.

And even if it did matter, where would they go?

290:

Is it me or did this blog get a bad case of the "slows" a few days ago?

Now I did travel 1000 miles about then so maybe it is the ISP here. But aside from this web site things appear to be normal speed.

291:

Good short story by ctrlcreep (who does microfiction on twitter using that name). It's Laundryverse-adjacent.
Host Negotiations (Dec 29, 2019)
Teasers:
For society's well of outcasts was deep indeed, and in its waters slept those with the capacities necessary for our work: bargain-craft with the dead, the undead, with real and potential gods.
...
We are only human, yet we pitch ourselves against beings that pluck the threads that weave the world, as advocates for those who would broker contracts with invisible power. We are humanity’s lawyers to the supernatural.
...
The Book, which I was needed to interpret, recorded the family’s past and future dealings with a demon known as Caput Larvae. The physical particulars of this demon were unimportant; what was necessary was to become intimate with the brain that was alive in the text, in this monolithic negotiation and renegotiation of a contract outside of time.

(The story made me chuckle for a reason that might only be clear to the author.)

292:

but it is 100% able to destroy it as a state, and keep it this way. And a bunch of Afghanistanesque territories won't be able to sustain a global terrorism campaign against the USA.

The "state" may not but a few million people who now have very deep grudges likely will.

OBL did what he did with his family's money.

293:

Bozo only renounced his US citizenship after he got landed with a Capital Gains Tax bill from the IRS, and I think that was after his first stint as an MP. The UK doesn’t care about dual citizenship so there was no reason for him to renounce just to stand for election.

If he could get his US citizenship back, don’t forget he’d also need to reside in the US for fourteen years to qualify to run for POTUS.

294:

and lamenting the lack of consumer level software that can automagically handle "imposition" for someone like me who hates reading books on a screen.

I may have a copy of Page Garden somewhere. And as it would take almost any text file you threw at it and make it into nice pages of things it would likely do this for you.

But I bought it back in 89 and it would require some serious digging to find it just now.

Oh, yeah. Runs on DOS.

295:

China’s approach has had no measurable impact on trumps approval numbers

Ah, yes it has. Total population have not flipped but subsets of the groups have.

NPR started interviewing people from DT country a few years ago. Back then they were 100% behind him. Now not so much. And they are interviewing the same people that were on the air at the beginning.

No tidal ways but some are not happy.

But that may not be enough for them to for for EW. But they might toss out their current Senator or Congressman.

296:

OTOH your stated intent is to sell me your book, not to sell me hardware I don't want and don't like using,

297:

That sounds about right, and makes with my implied intent...

298:

such as multiple simultaneous attacks on Trump properties around the world) or his children

Like tripping fire alarms and bomb threats that are not real against his properties.

Real pocketbook hurt but no shooting involved.

299:

Charlie Stross @ 246: Current news has a whistleblower leaking documents (on a laptop inherited from their father, a Deutsch Bank executive who died about 2 years ago) strongly indicating that DB acted as a conduit for very large bank loans to Trump -- in the double to triple digit millions of dollars -- from a Russian state-owned bank.

If true, there's your Moscow connection in a nutshell: Trump would be broke if Putin hadn't handed him a fortune (with strings attached).

If true this also makes Trump a foreign agent of influence and, depending on what his instructions were, quite possibly guilty of treason, although proving that one without Kremlin insider cooperation would be quite a reach.

Note the extremes to which the GRU have gone in recent years to silence defectors/dissidents with info about agents in the west. Intimidating everyone into silence to protect the status of Asset Number One, when AN1 is the POTUS, would be consistent with this picture.

(Adjusts tinfoil hat to a jaunty angle: winks at the camera.)

None of that really rates a tinfoil hat. Which is good, because I haven't been able to find REAL tinfoil for a long, long time and aluminum foil is really not an adequate substitute.

It was well known that Trump's real estate "empire" relied on cash infusions from the Russian Mafiya long before he considered sliding down the escalator at Trumpolini Tower in 2015. I've always believed what Trump is hiding behind his tax returns are financial shenanigans.

The only thing new in the leaked whistleblower account is evidence of the direct link to Moscow.

It could be Treason under the U.S. Constitutional definition, but I agree they'll never get the two required witnesses to the same overt act to testify. I doubt they could even prove there was a quid pro quo behind the loans. Their only hope is that Trumpolini is stupid enough to confess "in open Court".

Maybe Putin is just a real savvy investor who felt propping up Deutsch Bank was the best place to park his money. Does Germany have FDIC insurance?

JamesPadraicR @ 250: See also William Gibson’s recent retweets about a Russian private jet, apparently carrying a Russian bank exec, possibly on their way to Mar-a-Lago.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1213332048573800453.html
&
https://mobile.twitter.com/ScottMStedman/status/1213378826291466240

Hmmmm? Interesting routing. I wonder if they were trying to hide something?

300:

BTW, one thing nobody gets is just how stupid this was in *Iranian* politics. He was the most popular politician in Iran, a war hero with an 83% poll approval rating with an image of being a man of the people who supports the poor, unlike all those rich hypocritical mullahs people have been demonstrating against. If Trump's objective was to restore the popularity of the Iranian regime with the people of Iran, and Iraq too for that matter, that was achieved. And, it is uncustomary to do reprisals until *after* the three days of national mourning are over. That would be tomorrow I think.

The mullahs would like I am sure to limit reprisals to just using this to maneuver the US out of Iraq, but popular opinion won't let them. There will probably be missile strikes on US bases in Iraq, if they don't leave right away. Or maybe on the US embassy.

301:

Troutwaxer @ 252: They could kill John Bolton, and maybe a couple other "Bomb, Bomb Iran" types. That might serve them best of all, particularly if they could kill a lot of John Bolton types without tipping their hands.

Nooooooooo! Not John Bolton. Think of that magnificent mustache.

Besides the idea is to kill only the competent ones and leave the nincompoops in place.

302:

They could go for recording Tr*mp's phone calls, and then threatening to release the recordings to the House committees (Intelligence, in particular) that are handling impeachment.
Tr*mp's properties would be another reasonable target - just make the threats, and watch people stop booking rooms or tee-times. (I understand that security at them is not particularly good.)

303:

Greg Tingey @ 267: Why is Warren unpopular? APart from being female, of course ...

They're afraid of her. If some of her proposed financial reforms were enacted it could cost them money.

304:

It's the 1924 film version, not the original.

305:

I took mine for the final ride when I found she'd lost four pounds - half her normal body weight - over two months, and was little more than skin and bones, sitting hunched over like she was in pain. Don't know what the cause was, but I scritched her all the way down (when the sedative took effect, she fell over onto my hand).
That was 8 years ago, and I still miss my furry fiend. (That's her as my avatar.)

306:

David L @ 295:

and lamenting the lack of consumer level software that can automagically handle "imposition" for someone like me who hates reading books on a screen.

I may have a copy of Page Garden somewhere. And as it would take almost any text file you threw at it and make it into nice pages of things it would likely do this for you.

But I bought it back in 89 and it would require some serious digging to find it just now.

Oh, yeah. Runs on DOS.

Would IBM PC-DOS 7.0 work? I think I've still got a copy of that on a bootable CD-ROM somewhere around here. Am I also going to have to dig out my old dot-matrix printer?

307:

I found a copy of Pagemaker in a to-be-recycled bin at work. So of course I snagged it. If it's DOS, I can run it. (There's also a DOS version of Excel. That's a lesser problem.) ...Recycling was interesting: books, even, went into the bins. I got some that I'd never have found in a store.

308:

DR DOS 8.0 on mine. And I have my father's old NEC Pinwriter - wide-carriage. With about 11 unused ribbon cartridges. (Ghu knows what shape they're in. He died in 1994.)

309:

Just to be clear. It is Page Garden, NOT PageMaker.

It ran on DOS. It knew about lasers.

You fed it a text file with either embedded or as separate control file. I forget which. It was all text based. Sort of like LaTex but different.

But you could create books with it.

310:

There are so many "legitimate military targets" on the US side that saying they might stick to those doesn't narrow it down much at all, especially if they also use the US "anyone near a target is a target" for values of "near" that make astronomers look precise (the Earth is 'near' the Sun, for example).

I think they might actually go for some kind of cunning plan, and the good news is that there are a lot of those that work even when everyone knows about them. One step past "visit a Trump property, pull the fire alarm, run" would be ...drop a stink-bomb, run. Similar thing but more cleanup required.

They could equally just step up from helping freedom fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine etc to helping similar folk in the USA. Not providing weapons, obviously, but training and target suggestions. I'm thinking specifically of meme wars - rather than "Hillary is a bad person" start spamming out "here's why you should shoot up {vaguely plausible target}" type stuff. A few months of "Trump-related business is distributing Fentanyl" or whatever could noticeably increase the mass shooting rate in the US. Or do an FBI-style "make your own terrorist" operation but arrange to have a real bomb that really blows up. For extra points use real FBI agents to do 90% of the work. (actually, for real bonus points hack the FBI and use their real "make our own terrorist" operations)

311:

You could see if it runs under FreeDOS, since that supports modern hardware. Or you could use one of the many virtualisation programs and run it inside that. I've got programs that use both, and for a one-off booting into FreeDOS is probably easier.

(FreeDOS is used for stuff like MemCheck86 that want unrestricted direct access to the hardware)

312:

Actually, using drones to drop tear gas grenades near the air conditioning intakes of skyscrapers would also be fun. If you put the instructions on the internet and released a couple of videos I'm sure there would be copycat attacks.

313:

My bet is that they'll work with (lean on) the government of Iraq to expel US forces from the country.

Already in progress:

White House Defiant as Iraq threatens to expel US troops, al Monitor

Pressure mounts to kick US troops out, Military Times

Rival Leaders Call for US Troop Expulsion in Rare Show of Unity, NY Times

Residents of the Middle East don't agree on much but this week everyone is pissed off at Donald Trump.

314:

Of course [McConnell]'ll call witnesses. First witnesses to be called will be Joe and Hunter Biden! His plan is to turn the impeachment inquiry into an impeachment of Joe Biden. Biden, either due to senility and stupidity or, more likely, because there really is sleazy stuff about him and Ukraine which would look very bad under oath, has preemptively stated that he would refuse to testify.

Have you been watching Fox News?

Biden declined on the grounds that the media would spend weeks howling about him and ignoring Trump, exactly as you imagine McConnell to want, and clarified he would testify if subpoenaed.

This has not been universally welcomed; the NY Times has an editorial saying Biden should demand to testify.

315:

... it is uncustomary to do reprisals until *after* the three days of national mourning are over ...

Some people are getting ahead of the competition.

The Iraqi government can be expected to drop well considered and effective revenge on Trump when he's vulnerable. The various militia groups, made up of violent wingnuts and young hotheads anyway, are taking it out on whoever is around.

316:

JH
Wikileaks are not "pro-Trump" except in that they are running at Putin's commands

Graydon
Or, the current-US-version of "capitalism" ( i.e. without any regulation of any siginificant sort ) ... careful with definitions...
Warren as Bernie's Veep?

I note that DT is now openly boasting of being the playground bully, & "we can hit you anywhere, we've got a list of targets & whaddy going to do?" ( Unholy guy @ 278) - & of course, if no excuse appears, he'll simply manufacture one, won't he?
Iran's continued existence is a "threat" to DT & his backers, of course. Where/how does Putin benefit from all of this, I wonder?
I also note that Raab has been ordered by BOZO to reverse ferret & crawl up Trump's arse ....

JBS
@ 272:Unpleasant, but, you may have a "legal" point. Whether it's moral or sensible is another story.
@ 273: Being a reactionary theocrat does not exclude military or political competence, unfortunately - ask Old Noll Cromwell ....

JH @ 301
Kill a US General in Saudi, or better still, Yemen

317:

Don't know if that's something that happened recently to the U.K. military. I only know about the U.S. military. (Cuts to VA medical benefits.)

It's not something that would be even relevant in the UK; we have the NHS (although the Tories are doing their best to privatise the back end of it). Martin can probably provide additional information on post-deployment rehab and disability assistance, but AIUI veterans are in the same basket as everybody else, i.e. free healthcare (modulo some important tweaks: a prescription tax in England -- flat rate per item, with an annual ceiling: similar for basic dentistry -- and you pay for glasses). The gotcha is that due to chronic underfunding (thanks, Tories!) mental health services are in perpetual crisis, so people who joined up at 18, served for years (so no non-institutional living skills) and sustained mental injuries in service (e.g. PTSD) simply don't get the support they need and end up homeless/on the street.

318:

Cost of production for paper is higher -- roughly 10 to 20 USD per quality POD hardcover, depending on page count

Cost for a book block, perfect bound, trade or mass market paperback, is about 50-70 cents. Cover maybe adds the same on top. For a saddle-stitched hardcover it's maybe $1.50-2.50, plus up to $1 for the cover wrap-around (if you pile on extras like embossing and hot-foil).

Note that this is for traditional publishers using a modern web-offset printing press that chows down on a pre-imposed PDF file, ink, and paper. The UK is ahead of the US industry in terms of short runs: I know for a fact that Orbit (Hachette, that is) can profitably run the presses for a measly 250 extra hardcover copies which are then sold via conventional retail channels (hint: the booksellers take 50-60% of the cover price, which is about £12).

POD is the equivalent of running off a photocopy, hence the ridiculously steep price.

Meanwhile, depending on genre and age cohort, 30-70% of readers stubbornly insist on holding a lump of paper in their hands, and buy their books in bricks-n-mortar shops that stubbornly insist on not going bust.

This is why there's still a niche (hint: irony) for trad publishers, whose specialty is wringing economies of scale out of the supply chain and then marketing the hell out of their product, while the author lies back with mouth open for them to stuff banknotes in via a feeding tube provided (and held) by their agent.

319:

#318 - True this, with the further note that, if you are domiciled in Scotland or Wales, as well as an exemption from Prescription Tax, you are also entitled to free eye examinations by a qualified ophthalmologist and to free eyewear if you require it for VDU work (Charlie will know this for sure, but I think authors qualify).

#319 - I know people who make at least a paper profit on this sort of run, partly by handling their own cover art and having pro bono beta readers.

320:

Graydon,

Just curious? Why don't you publish your books on Smashwords? It doesn't cost anything and I know somebody who had a *much* better result through them than through Amazon. With your consent they will distribute your books to other channels for you.

321:

Maybe stop trying to be hlepful (inappropriately helpful)?

Dogpiling Graydon with well-intentioned advice here is an inappropriate use of this comment thread and I think I'm going to stop doing it and encourage everyone else to do likewise.

322:

Charlie noted: "If true this also makes Trump a foreign agent of influence and, depending on what his instructions were, quite possibly guilty of treason, although proving that one without Kremlin insider cooperation would be quite a reach."

That and the whole "giving aid and comfort to an enemy of the state" (i.e., Russia), which seems an open and shut case. But I'm told by an American who seems credible that in the U.S., treason only applies in the legal context of a declared war, and that this is why the Democrats haven't attempted to try Trump for treason.

This is far outside my area of expertise, so confirmation would be welcomed.

323:

American law very specifically defines the crime of treason; many people have done things they shouldn't but have not committed treason under the exact legal definition.

The American citizenry had to look up the text of the law and discuss this back in 2016 when some damn lunatic went on television and asked Russia to commit espionage against a cabinet member. That's in pretty poor taste but after hashing out the various possible legal problems it turns out not to be technically illegal.

Stupid, yes. Disloyal to the country (if you're American), yes. Inciting disorder, sure. Reasonable cause for the FBI to have a stern talk with someone, I'd say so. But not, under the exact letter of the law, treasonous or even illegal.

324:

I like the idea of using drones loaded with weedkiller to draw an Iranian flag on Trump's golf courses. Or even better, if you can handle the registration, use a combination of weedkiller, fertiliser and ??something that makes plants produce loads of carotenoids?? to do a full three-colour version.

Virtualisation thingies... where DOS is concerned they are not all equal because of the tendency of DOS programs to do nasty things. I frequently use PSPICE 5.0 for DOS because I've never got round to replicating its lovely interface for ngspice/Linux, but it was a pain in the arse figuring out how to run it. Nothing worked. The only thing I could find that could both pretend sufficiently convincingly to be a graphics card it knew about, and handle its memory extender without crashing, was QEMU, and only then with some gaffer tape and string in the source code of its graphics department.

325:

Nope, it's a lot worse than I realized.

The link above is a drone/helicopter view of Suleimani's funeral procession in Ahvaz. Yes, he was the head of the Revolutionary Guards. He was also a war hero and immensely popular -- the single Iranian political figure with the highest public approval rating, somewhere north of 80%. Hence the gigantic procession: I'm guessing the crowd is somewhere in the fractional-to-full-integer millions there.

It's like Trump assassinated the Iranian equivalent of Dwight D. Eisenhower or Winston Churchill or something. (Yes, I know both of them were unpopular with the Other Side's supporters, that Eisenhower green-lit the coup against Mossadegh that overthrew democracy in Iran, and Churchill was a proximate-genocidal imperialist asshat: the point is, even their opponents would concede they were significant figures and widely perceived as war heroes. It's the correct magnitude for this cock-up.)

326:

Biden was VP and would have been briefed on everything Obama knew about Trump. I suspect his reluctance to testify is of the "please don't throw me in the briar patch" variety.

327:

What worries me is that Trump is basically saying that ANY response from Iran will be regarded as a "legitimate" ( i.e. lying & flimsily at that ) to knock off/out any number of sites ( & people? ) inside Iran.
And, of course "Whddya going to do about it?"
I forseee a lot of Hizbollah etc action going down & Iran saying "nuffink to do wiv us, mate"
I hate to say it, but there IS a strategy behind DT's actions - it's his re-elction campaign AND a distraction from his domestic "troubles".
How doews this ties in to him taking orders from Putin / that aircarft noted yesterday & the Deutsche Bank monies, I know not

328:

Trump is a moral void. There is absolutely no part of his character that says "this is wrong" about him; other people not submitting, yes, but anything he chooses to do is right.

Trump is acting out of fear, and fear makes you stupid.

Bush fils was drastically unsuited to be president; the job is a lot of grinding work, and Bush fils simply didn't know how to work. The backstop -- Darth Cheney -- kept the wheels on while the slaver faction tried hard to produce cowering-in-fear from an ever-larger portion of the globe.

Trump has neither the inclination, the skill, or the physical ability to do the work. Pence might have the physical ability, but only really cares about his fetishes and is utterly unsuited to the role in terms of knowledge and skills. There's no strong chief of staff; there's no backstop from Congress because Congress is effectively deadlocked because the guy in control of the Senate wants a restoration of the Confederacy and if achieving that means eating his own undercooked grandchildren on live TV, he'll do it.

The result is that the US has been functionally decapitated and there's a panicked idiot giving orders. In an environment where the institutional habit of respecting the office and not the man is strong.

Putin doesn't care what Trump does in specific very much; the point is that the guy with the football won't order Russia nuked no matter what. Everything else is gravy. Finding out how institutionally weak the US has become is lots of gravy.

329:

Sorry, I've got to correct that: POD through Kindle, at least, runs about the same costs as you just listed for mass market books. It's a bit more, but not much, because it is a web-offset printing.

Thing is, they give you a range of formats to choose for your book, everything from mass market paperback to hardcover stuff I haven't explored. They provide these formats in Word (yes, I know), and the primary check they make is to insure that the pdfs you submit to them (cover and contents) are properly formatted. That's what makes it so easy to publish with KDP: once you have a manuscript, it literally takes an afternoon to fiddle with the formatting, upload it, and get it approved for printing. Lulu's almost as fast.

It takes longer than that to get the page numbers properly formatted in Word (tip: since each chapter is a different section in the same document, you've got to correct the formatting on each section back to front, because of the way Word propagates formatting changes across sections). I've done all my book formatting and cover illustrations, including creating the index in the hard copy of Hot Earth Dreams. I found it no harder than doing the formatting of my thesis or dissertation, which came out a lot uglier by design.

It's strongly advisable to get a test copy before selling it. The common error is to misnumber the pages so that the recto and verso (the two sides of the pages) get reversed (done it. It's embarrassing. Bought it too, the idiots. The solution is to add one blank page somewhere in the front material). The other problem I've had is getting the cover illustration edge to stop at the right place, which was a known bug in the Kindle system and solved by not following one specific format instruction on the advice of the help desk. I did it all myself, but I can easily imagine all my meager profits going away if I hired a professional to do any of these tasks for me.

Lulu costs more, but not by much. IIRC they have better covers, too.

In all cases, these are for POD. You don't get burned for printing off five copies of a family cookbook, one copy of a wedding photo album, or 20 copies of Hot Earth Dreams to sell at events (I can get copies at about $10 for the $18 book, and I suspect that commercial authors don't do much better when they lug a box to a signing).

Where commercial publishing earns its share is through editing, advertising, professional design, and distribution. The only thing KDP doesn't do for free is editing, and they'll upsell you into that service if you want to pay for it.

330:

Scott, thanks for confirming the legal considerations wrt treason in the U.S.

331:

Graydon & anyody at all actually
Historical parallel(s) for the USA/Trump right now?
Germany 1913? [ Except there, the military were PLANNING for a war ] - the US (as a whole) is not ....
Late Neronic Rome? ( 67 CE )
Byzantium in 1070 ( just before Battle of Manzikert ) ?
Sassanid Persia in 650 AD ( 38 AH ) ?
Any others?
Or is this a new one - I find that hard to believe.....

332:

"He was also an enemy belligerent IN UNIFORM and as such was a legitimate MILITARY target, and the timing strongly suggests he was engaged in belligerent activities against the U.S. at the time he was killed."

Ah, I had the stupid idea that in order to openly kill members of your adversary’s military command you should be in an open war with them. Oh, sorry. Apparently, USA thinks that they are in war with Iran.

My country is a dedicated military ally of USA, but even during my active time in the army we did routinely run scenarios in which USA decided not to defend us in the case of a war. Or even be passively hostile (demanding something illegal according to our law or just putting economic pressure on us in order to maintain the military connection of the agreements).

For some reason I think that those scenarios have been updated and are exercised more often nowadays.

I am old enough not to be in the active reserve, but I think that the younger men handling these issues have had some additional headaches during the latest few years. I think that some of them are having a bad case of migraine just now.

333:

I’m so sorry about your cat. He sounds magnificent. We lost our beloved one-eyed orange tabby just before Christmas. He came to us as a rescue at ten years old and we had two years with him. Hopefully you will have a little more time to love the hell out of him. I know how much this hurts, even when there are “more important” things going on in the outside world. Sympathy and support.

334:

None.

No historical situation has modern communications in it, which means a substantial fraction of the entire human species is hooked up to an id-amplifier and instantaneous information flow.

Bad emperors, late Hapsburgs, the post-Great War imperial collapse, the Year Without A Summer, etc. are all fundamentally local crises; your span of awareness and span of concern is created by the communications span you're operating in, so everything historical is variously local.

Today, you get people in the literal antipodes giving money for koala rescue in real time.

It's a new thing in the world. To the extent that anyone is viewing it with a cohesive policy of use, it's being treated as a way to escape the rule of law. It would be supremely messy, 30 Years War messy, without the Carbon Binge.

335:

Graydon
Aha!
it's being treated as a way to escape the rule of law.
And - enter/re-enter a new set of laws, perhaps ... the "slavers" laws maybe?
Incidentally I am both frightened & impressed by that label - it rings horribly, unpleasantly true.
QUestion, how is the rule of the slavers to be implemented in a coutry where that legacy does not exist? Like here.
Or is it a revrsion to C19th "industrial" rules? Shudder - would go along with Grease-Samug & BOZO's "principles" I suppose.

336:

It's not solely about slavery, although that's how it manifested in the North American colonies: it's about the pre-Enlightenment doctrine that some people are people, and others ... aren't: think in terms of "women, slaves, and cattle" as equivalent categories, think in terms of peasants tied to the land, ask yourself why the term "wage slavery" doesn't sound like a joke these days, why for most of the 1649-1949 era England had two political parties -- the party of the landowners (Tories) and the party of the merchants (Liberals) except the Tories seem to be the only faction left standing and functional ...

No, it's not about reversion to C19 rules; it's about reversion to C16 rules, or earlier.

337:

I thought that we were a 'life+70' country - what have I missed?

338:

Adding to the "fun", the US imperial foreign policy has for a very, very long time been partially based on the enemy being unable to strike at US soil. But in the era of Internet of Things, critical infrastructure can be attacked from the other side of the globe, e.g. from Iran. Not the same as bombing a city by a long shot, but enough to disrupt the US public and make it clear that they are in a conflict.

And given the difficulty with which to accurately pinpoint the source of such attacks, others interested in sowing discontent between Iran and the US could be tempted to carry out cyber attacks.

339:

Charlie
THAT is what I was afraid of ... the jokes about Grease-Smaug being the "Minister for the 18thC" ring a little hollow, now.
Put that together with my possible historical parallel for Brexit as the "revival" of a golden age that never was between 1553 & 1558 & it really doesn't look nice.
Meanwhile, the IRAQI Parliament has voted to get ALL foreign troops out of the country - & Iraq moves closer to Iran ... now look at THIS MAP .... maybe Trump has, unwittingly started the actual re-creation of the Persian Empire?
Incidentally, he's threatened historic sites in Iran -itself a War Crime, that Da'esh were rightly condemned for ....

340:

I think we want Re-Smog to appointed as ambassador to the 18thC, since that means that he has to go and live there but doesn't directly affect anyone else beyond having to find another ambassadorial salary between us.

341:

I'd suggest you missed something. "Slavery" is a bad word. "Criminal" and "Illegal" are not. Racism and sexism are slowly eroding away. Hell, we're even getting rights for animals. However, rights for people convicted of crimes are still going away, because "they did it to themselves." This goes double for "illegal aliens," who are outside their law ("outlaws?")

Obviously, we can have a whole diversion into the multi-billion (trillion?) dollar mess that is the US-Prison Industrial complex. However, with climate migration only set to ramp up, I suspect that, instead of talking about either the slaving plantation owners or the serf-owning aristocrats, we're going to talk about the multinationals intermediating between the super-rich and the illegals whose work they capture while owning the means of production. The poor will increasingly face the choice of death by poverty or permanent oppression through becoming illegals.

And illegal status still respects people's inherent rights based on ethnicity, gender, sex, and perhaps even species.

342:

Greg, check out this map of regional heat projections under current climate warming scenarios.

Persian Empire? No.

Agriculture? Probably not. If you take a look at Hansen, et al., The New Climate Dice, there's that first graph; decadal temperature average distribution, that starts off as a smooth normal curve and turns into a slumped-right (that is, hotter) and increasingly spikey thing.

That spikey part is important; that's not the warming, that's the variability in conditions. It's analogous to jerk as the rate of change in acceleration. Nobody talks about this in the press, which is a pity, because it's the really important thing because it's not "same smooth climate, two degrees hotter"; it's "there isn't a forest here anymore because we got a spike into what won't be the average for a hundred years".

The core question for politics right now is "when does agriculture break?" The Slaver faction is betting that whenever that happens, they will have money and troops, and you will not. This isn't betting the rent, this is betting the continued utility of currency. It's not sensible, but, well. Most people seem to have a lot of trouble reading a graph.

343:

@343

I think that you are misinterpreting the situation. I honestly think that.

You think that there exists a definitive faction that really plans in that way. Actually I would be very, very happy if that was the case. That would be a previously unknown example of human planning and plotting. That type of coherence would be a positive sign for human species for the future.

My personal assumption is that THERE IS NO PRE-PLANNING FACTION. In other words, I assume that the human species is as stupid as other species. My assumption is that the human species just consumes resources as long as possible. After that is no longer possible as before, then the system collapses.

I am, however, very confident that that will not mean the extinction of the humans as species. There will be humans surviving the collapse. But they will not have the current global infrastructure.

344:

People talk about things like attacking the power grid, and while this is effective (there are about a hundred deaths attributable to the 2003 Northeast Blackout, for example) it's also totally random. The folks running Iran are pretty committed to being moral actors by their own standards, and they're equally aware that they don't want to convince the US population as a whole to attack them.

So I don't expect the grid to fail due to malicious action. (Under-investment and poor maintenance? Not especially unlikely.)

What I do expect is something that can be publically attributed -- which is a vital domestic PR need -- and which serves Iranian interests, which means maintaining the momentum of outrage. (This is another reason to be seen as acting with impeccable morality inside their own system.) Best possible is for a CVN undergoing maintenance to have a major nuclear accident. Few casualties, obvious target, big prestige hit, very expensive.

345:

We could destroy the country - think of Iraq before the invasion, with war criminal Cheney's "shock and awe" - but I agree, there's no way we could invade.

In addition, we would have *zero* allies. I just saw a report today that the international coalition that was fighting the Islamic State have *stopped*, and pulled back, to protect US, UK and other foreign troops. And the Iraqi parliament has heavily passed a resolution that the US be invited to leave, like, *now*.

Of course this is all "I'm impeached, and starting to lose support for a joke in the Senate, so I've got to counterpuch with multiple things fastest...."

346:

David Duke, too? I was in shock, yesterday, when bowtie boy Fucker Carleson, on Faux, came out against it, as well.

347:

"We could destroy the country …In addition, we would have *zero* allies"

USA has the capability to destroy any country without any conseques.(*) As long as those countries do not have enough nuclear bombs and suitable means in order to deliver those bombs to the USA soil.

If the country happens to have nuclear weapons and enough ICBMs, then USA will leave that country alone.

(*) As far as I understand, the USA military thinks that the only country they cannot win in a conventional war is China.

348:

The core question for politics right now is "when does agriculture break?"

I'm guessing that it will start to break in 10-20 years, at about the same time as the oceans break. We'll get by with some useful tactics like multi-cropping seeds with two different temperature ranges in the same field or by using greenhouses, but by 2050-2060 we're in real trouble barring something unforseen.

349:

Let me correct that a bit.

The only country where we can't defeat a non nuclear army is China. I think also Russia just due to logistics.

But win a war? Most sane people in the US now realize WWII is NOT a blueprint for how things can go after the military "wins" in most cases.

350:

If you look at things like farm profitability trends -- there was a recent publication pointing out that farm profitability has been falling at about 20% per year in Australia for almost a generation -- agriculture has been breaking for the past 20 years.

"The Crisis is Now" and all that.

(The SPCA put out a winter hay advisory in Alberta this summer; if you don't have the hay to feed your horses, particularly, you will be charged. Buy early, buy from as far away as you need to, we're not going to tolerate a repeat of last year. That's for hay, in what is at least historically a short grass prairie region.)

351:

Re: Iran hacks a free-access US gov't agency site

Wondering what you folks think about this. (Bad site security design? Tech competence test: US poor, Iran good? Not actually done by Iran but by supporters?)

Also this act is likely to prevent USians' access to important (free) gov't info.


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/05/us-government-agency-website-hacked-by-group-claiming-to-be-from-iran

Excerpt:

'The website of the Federal Depository Library Program was replaced on Saturday with a page titled “Iranian Hackers!” that displayed images of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Iranian flag.'

352:

It looks to me like global agricultural productivity has been going up. Of course, that doesn't mean that profits are going up.

The flip side of agriculture breaking is that I'd expect back-yard agriculture to become useful and ordinary again, though I wouldn't expect to feed myself and family out of my back yard (at least not without massively increasing both my back yard infrastructure and my knowledge base.)

353:

Re: ' ... another reason to be seen as acting with impeccable morality inside their own system.)'

Agree ... but the Ayatollah has updated rules/laws a few times and there's no reason to assume that he won't do so again.

One politically timely in a knee-jerk-reaction type of change would be to extend Iran's compulsory military service. According to Wikipedia, conscription is universal (males 18+) but runs only 18 to 24 months. Considering that unemployment is currently very high among young males, the Ayatollah could kill two birds (1-ramp up active military head-count; 2-reduce unemployment stats) with one stone by extending the length of compulsory military service. There's a potential third spin-off benefit: increased conscription term could also put a damper on student protest marches.

354:

*chuckle* "Morned by dozens".

Took a break, and thought of two other possible targets: one would be the equivalent of a high-rannking general: the white supremecist Steven Miller, on the Idiot's "security council", who may well have pushed this, or one that would get a *lot* of Americans on Iran's side: Rupert Murdoch.

355:

"One politically timely in a knee-jerk-reaction type of change would be to extend Iran's compulsory military service."

Ah. You do not really understand the concept of conscription. I assume that the misunderstanding comes from being a citizen of a country that has a professional army. The conscription is one of the most important methods to increase the cohesion in a country. That is mostly underestimated in most western counties.

It can be said that a conscripted army will never be as loyal to the leadership as a professional one. The professional one will be 100% loyal to the payroll.

A professional army will happily shoot kids and grandmothers of their own country. A conscripted one will not.

356:

Iran is pretty well convinced the CIA is sabotaging their space program - That tweet of the keyhole photos of their unsceduled disassembly of launch vehicle last year was a text-book "overly specific denial". That is one obvious area where the US is pretty darn vulnerable to reprisal in kind, and which probably would not escalate further than Iran wants - sabotaging a rocket is not difficult, you can just shoot at it, or a thousand other things.

Agriculture being uneconomic is.. more or less an universal law? I can think of times and places where farmers prospered, but not a whole lot of them, the demand curve for food is too damn vertical - overproduce even a little, and bam, everyone is broke. Heck, the obesity epidemic is, from one perspective, down to the food industry attempting to up consumption of its product, and that has been pushed as far as it is ever likely to go. I expect farming to change, just because it is pretty obviously amenable to shifts in the mode of automation.

... Which will, actually, likely be an extremely *visible* change.

A few visions:
a : Robot farm workers, moderate climate instability - everything gets planted in mixed fruit bush / tree / vegetable grains, and attended and harvested by lightweight machines. - mixed plantings to keep the area sheltered and moderate water flows. Much shorter sightlines in the country side! No more open fields, who only really took over everything because that is what made the combine harvester work.

b: Much worse weather instabilities: Food production gets put under glass once tactic a no longer sufficies as a mitigation strategy. Bladerunner 2048, basically.

c:Aquaculture. I hope you like sea-weed and mussels. A lot. It is what is for dinner, breakfast, and elevenses. Because a sea-farm is not going to loose its crops to heat shocks - too much thermal mass.

357:

Sea-farming is a non-starter due to anoxia, acidification, ecological collapse, pollution, and circulatory current shutdown/stutter. (And so far having problems with more food output than input; current "fish farming" is mostly a way to turn fish people are reluctant to buy into (diseased) salmon.)

"Under glass" is NOT a known technology. Existing greenhouses (aside from using 4mm polycarbonate, rather than glass; the ability to use glass is this weird retro speciality thing, not ramped-up and debugged mass production) depend on much larger external areas for ecological services of one sort or another. Gas-exchange-only greenhouses aren't even close to being known tech. So if the external climate is hammering on the ecological services, it's hammering on the greenhouses.

Farmers prosper any time they get to co-operate. Lots of effort goes into preventing this because then food prices stay low, which means the greedhead aristocracy doesn't have to pay people more. (This approach lacks foresight. It's a huge chunk of the middle ages, trying to keep the cost of horses down because that's more or less fixed by area with grain at the margins for cost of working a horse.)

Note that since 1950 in AngloNorAm, agricultural productivity has roughly tripled. Constant dollar income was flat; it's now declining. This is policy. (Look, for example, at the state of dairy farming in upstate New York.) Which means that you don't have to get to the point of agricultural collapse due to climate variability -- variability gets you before the heat does -- you can get to Late Capitalism agricultural collapse because the funding model presumes things which are no longer so and does not update quick enough. (It's not like the bank executive worries about getting enough to eat!)

And, again; this is already happening, in Anglo NorAm. It's properly a present concern.

358:

“Note that since 1950 in AngloNorAm, agricultural productivity has roughly tripled.”

This is one of the fallacies that interest me quite much. The agricultural productivity has not tripled if you discount the external incursions. When you discount those effects, then the productivity has not increased that much.

359:

I mentioned seaweed and mussels specificially because those can be grown in anoxic waters without external food inputs - you plant giant seaweed, which oxygenates the local waters, grow bi-valves on ropes, harvest both weed and meat-plants. Waters do need to not be actively toxic, but this kind of operation creates its own micro-biome.

360:

The US and war... and conscription. Just yesterday, I saw an article - apparently a *LOT* of people are asking what the draft boards, still in existence in the US, are doing. They say that it's business as usual, and to start conscripting, Congress would have to pass a law.

That's *NOT* going to happen. Some of you remember, or have read, about the size and effect of the anti-war Movement in the sixties and seventies (all true, or maybe more than you've thought - I was part of it), and if you thought the Women's March was bad news for the GOP....

361:

Remember, Blackadder is comedy, not history...

Regarding British (and Commonwealth) WW1 Generals - more British Generals died at the Battle of Loos than in the whole of WW2. These are the Generals and soldiers who held the line in March 1918; and then utterly defeated the German Army in the field in the Hundred Days Offensive. The Armistice happened because the Commonwealth forces had broken the German defensive lines, and were heading Eastwards at the same rate that they did in 1944 (between 1914 and 1918 on the Western Front, thode Generals built an Army of four million civilians, invented combined-arms warfare, and then kicked the sh1t out of everyone in front of them). Armistice, or an occupied Berlin: the Germans grabbed the chance to surrender with both hands.

Remember also that the only army in WW1 not to suffer major mutinies... was the British Army.

Regarding German pre-WW1 logistics; maybe. And they built autobahnen prior to WW2 (concrete, suitable for tanks). However, that’s not an indicator of competence. Even at the end of WW2, 75% of German Army logistics was horse-drawn. For example, Rommel was doomed from the start, because he employed forces whose daily consumption far exceeded the total shipping capacity of his available ports by a significant amount. The planning for the invasion of the U.K. was so bad as to be a joke; after defeating Norway in 1940, their navy was down to a light cruiser and six destroyers.

The Germans was always going to lose eventually; they had a two-year head start on everyone else, who had been concentrating on recovery from a global recession; but it was doomed from 1941. Britain alone outproduced them in ships, tanks, and aircraft every single year of the war. Their force densities for Op BARBAROSSA were ludicrously low; no way they could hold the line they advanced to. For all the claims of their tactical superiority, they got humped rigid at Corps level, on every front, by every opponent. They just kept losing. In 1941, they’re fighting battles with the Soviets at about parity. By 1943, they’re outnumbered 3:1, by 1944 5:1, by 1945 they’re fighting battles with force ratios of 10:1 in favour of the USSR.

And as for those who believe “If Germany had only held on to produce more Me-262 / Horton / Tiger”, they conveniently forget that they would immediately have been facing Vampire, Centurion - types whose service started in 1945, and continued for decades post-war, unlike the German kit that was scrapped fairly quickly as being a bit rubbish.

362:

Btw, about writing and publishing: as I've now sold, and I'm out of the slush pile, I suppose I could.

I won't.

1. Old school, still sees a lot of it as vanity press.
2. I seem to be writing well. I am *not* an IP lawyer, or a PR person with a real budget for PR, I do my best, but I'm not a copyeditor. Oh, yes, and I REALLY dislike the idea of the tax law I'm going to need... and I'm sure there's things I've missed.

Which is why I'm going the traditional route.

363:

Please note: the Orange Idiot has been impeached. That's a done deal. On the other hand, if Giuliani's Ukrainian associate testifies... they could bring more charges, and impeach him on *them*.

The issue is removal from office, which requires the Senate trial. Moscow Mitch is doing his best... but I saw today that in the last week or two, the percentage of Americans who want him removed has gone from 49% to 55%.

He's desperate, because if he's out of office, there will be *no* way to hide his finances, or anything else, and he will spend life in consecutive jail sentences, *and* lose *all* of his money.

Even worse... he'll have to face that he is what "all those nasty rich people in NYC thought, a stupid loser."

364:

The folks running Iran are pretty committed to being moral actors by their own standards, and they're equally aware that they don't want to convince the US population as a whole to attack them.

In the event that the current crisis escalates into a full-blown war with the US bombing Tehran, the Iranian government might consider landing a few blows in the US itself?

But baring that, you are right, it would be pretty stupid of them to do anything serious to the US itself.

365:

That's a truly foolish an ignorant attitude. There *will* be repercussions... in fact, there are already.

Or have you not bought gas in the last couple of days? Or seen the reports of the market?

366:

I actively dislike firearms. I have lived with people who had them... but, I suspect, most gun nuts aren't vaguely as "responsible". For example, my late wife let our son have a cap gun... but was *REALLY* emphatic that he was *never* to point it at a person, or at one of our pets. Ever.

On the other hand, having been forced to watch the oligarchy building for the last 40 years, I have a lot of anger.

Fortunately, I just found, online, somewhere (I don't seem to be able to save a game, but...) to play the original Doom.

Which I could put the Orange Idiot's, and McConnell's faces on some....

367:

I thought that we were a 'life+70' country - what have I missed?

My UK publisher buys EU and Commonwealth (minus Canada) English language rights. UK being part of EU. (I suspect in future they're going to be explicitly paired.)

This means my UK editions are potentially sold in Spain, which means Spanish copyright law terms apply.

This has only really impacted me once: the frontispiece quote in "The Nightmare Stacks" is the entire first paragraph of "The War of the Worlds" in the US edition -- it came out of copyright in time -- but is just one sentence in the UK edition, because Spanish law means it's still in copyright and UK Fair Dealing law applies (rather than US Fair Use law) to quotes, which is much more restrictive.

NB: When in doubt, ask the publisher to ask their lawyers for an opinion! It's much less work, it makes the lawyers feel needed, and it saves an embarrassing lawsuit later in the day.

368:

“A professional army will happily shoot kids and grandmothers of their own country. A conscripted one will not.”

Sorry, but that’s IMHO utterly wrong. Got any examples?

Meanwhile, right-wing governments in Argentina, Chile, Guatemala happily tortured and murdered their own citizens using conscripts. German and Austrian conscripts happily manned the watchtowers of concentration camps in WW2, DDR conscripts happily shot people trying to cross the “Anti-Fascist Barrier” until the 1980s.

The key difference is that the average conscript soldier is 18, and the average conscript junior NCO is 19 or 20. Contrast that with a professional military, where the soldiers and NCOs tend to be older, more mature, and less likely to “follow orders without question”.

369:

I believe it would be a mixed bag: some would, and some would play the traditional card of following ALL the rules, and filling out ALL the forms.

Only a few might just say no, though, I could be wrong.

370:

Um, did you miss where Russia and China made public pronouncements that this was a very, vary bad thing?

His admin isn't happy.

371:

ROTFLMAO!!!

Haven't seen any of the news stories about farmers hurting, really, really badly, and them being unhappy with him? Or other businesses, ditto? I read one months ago, where they interviewed a guy who'd been a strong supporter, and now said, in so many words, that he felt like a fool.

372:

I'm sure JHS can speak more directly to this, but yep: the US military is in exhaustion mode, with 17 years of eternal wars that occupy a *lot* of the active duty... and remember, the Army is *vastly* smaller than during 'Nam.

373:

After years of opposition to first-person shooters, my wife eventually sided with my sons and allowed them to buy “CoD”. Last night, youngest son finally persuaded me to play it for the first time - and I found it very frustrating. My senses were limited (hearing wasn’t particularly directional, everything was far too dark, field of vision was too narrow and I couldn’t turn my “head” quickly or accurately enough).

For me, it was... uncanny valley levels of unrealistic. Or maybe, I’m just rubbish with the game controller (my skills at control don’t match my expectation).

Anyway, I’ve got to go to the range this week to shoot some targets for the County team (I still compete at a local level in smallbore target rifle); I’m the opposite of you, I’m a gun owner who isn’t a gun enthusiast...

374:

Federal Depository Library Program

Now the big question. Has anyone here ever heard of this?

375:

I dunno if that is a good idea.

"It's always the old to lead us to the war
It's always the young to fall
Now look at all we've won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all"
- "I Ain't Marchin' Any More", Phil Ochs.

Maybe if we *did* shoot them, they'd be a little less eager to start wars. Hell, I thin I remember a Bill Mauldin cartoon, of leaders in a ring with baseball bats, and all the troops standing around rooting.

376:

though I wouldn't expect to feed myself and family out of my back yard

Due to a recent death my wife owns 1/6 of a small plot in a village in southern Germany that a distant cousin has been using as a garden for a decade or few. Wonder what it would cost to ship it to the eastern US? [sarcasm off]

377:

“Sorry, but that’s IMHO utterly wrong. Got any examples?”

What about the history of mercenaries over several thousands of years? Does that count?

I am completely too lazy to count the atrocities made by mercenaries during the last couple of thousands of years. More proof than for the problems caused by the conscripted soldiers.

But if that does not count, then I am completely happy with your opinion. We just have to agree to disagree.

378:

I'm so sorry. Give him a pet for me.

And when it's time, it *is* your responsibilty. Take him to the vet, and stay with him when the vet gives him the needle.

I can't tell you how much it hurt, four years after my late wife dropped dead, to have to put down our cats that we'd had more than fifteen years, to lose them, after her.

But about three months apart, they both had some sort of masses growing, and they were having trouble breathing....

Like I said, please give him a pet for me.

379:

Thank you, very much. I don't plan on self-publishing, but it's good to know the whole process.

I've saved it.

380:

I'd be surprised if it didn't already exist.

Please note: I'm in WSFA (DC area club), and we have the WSFA Press, and every year or three get a book by our GOH for Capclave. I've also just given as a gift to my granddaughter and her mother the collected People stories by Zenna Henderson, publisher, NESFA Press.

381:

She's not... except the main reason she now appears to be are the ultra-rich REALLY, REALLY HATE HER, because she's talking about a tax on *wealth*, not income, and might get a friendly Congress to pass it.

Ignore people like Bill Gates - I just saw a stat that something like 1% of the ultrawealthy give money to charity... yeah, something like .3% of the income, while the 99% of them give something like 0.01% to charity.

382:

Wouldn’t the conditions that break large-scale agriculture be hard on small-scale/gardening too?

383:

@whitroth

Crude oil prices are up from $62 to $64

Price at the pump is unchanged and pretty low

Farmers are not weakening in their support of Trump

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/08/trump-still-has-high-approval-among-rural-base-in-farm-states-poll.html

Especially given the new trade deal with China is landing which specifically favors them

Note these aren’t anecdotes this is data

While there have been a lot of stern admonition from other nations none of them have actually DONE anything. Even the vote to boot the US out of Iraq is symbolic

So yeah, as of right now there have not been major negative repercussions on Trump for his actions. That will certainly change if the situation degenerate

384:

That looks to me either like some overenthusiastic-but-unaffiliated supporters, or someone flying a false flag.

385:

Not really - I think you’re under a misapprehension that professional militaries are mercenaries. The two are rather different.

Take, for instance, the US military; they swore an oath to defend the nation and its Constitution, and aren’t personally loyal to Trump (read some US miltwitter, and I suspect you may be surprised; there are some rather critical comment threads). Likewise, the British Armed Forces swear their oath to the Crown (their Head of State), not the Prime Minister (their paymaster). If the Prime Minister gives an illegal order, the Prime Minister gets told to do one.

I happen to agree that a conscript military (if done correctly) is an excellent mechanism for social mobility, for the integration of militaries with society, and for getting the best and brightest into your military. It’s also economically very expensive - you’ve just reduced your workforce by 5% (assuming two years of conscription and a forty-year working career).

But claiming that professional militaries are happier to act murderously in the name of domestic tyranny, isn’t borne out by recent history (it doesn’t help you that professional militaries tend to exist within democracies, tend to be smaller, and thus tend not to be suited to domestic repression - they just aren’t big enough to manage it).

As I said, have you got any specific examples?

386:

Wouldn’t the conditions that break large-scale agriculture be hard on small-scale/gardening too?

Not necessarily, at least not everywhere. Up here we have permaculture plots scattered about that both use microclimates and generate them. There's a bunch of things you can do at small scale that are hard or impossible to do at large scale, especially mechanised large scale. Peasant agriculture can be done in a pretty smart way, but you have to keep in mind that smart always means large areas either fallow or forested. Neither of those give you the "increased productivity" of modern agri-cults.

I've grown salt-intolerant vegetables in salt-spray areas by being very careful about siting, sheltering and drainage. But that gets you at best about 20% ground coverage, where the agricultists will get very close to 100%.

Likewise my house still has a wet, active garden after 3+ months of hot drought because the soil is covered with about 20cm of dry woodchips. There's some technique is leading seedlings up through that, but once they're in place they will cope with 40°C days as long as there aren't too many in a row.

And so on. But when you start talking about covering 100's of hectares with 30cm of woodchips then spacing out your plantings so you can individually nurture each seedling that stops being mechanised agriculture and you need an army of peasants (Polish guest workers in the UK, Mexicans in the US).

387:

A professional army will happily shoot kids and grandmothers of their own country.

My grandfather was a British soldier in Ireland during the Troubles. Volunteer, not conscript, so I presume what you would call a professional soldier.

His section came under fire from a sniper. Sergeant down, and the Tommies panicking because they were getting shot at and they couldn't return fire — because the shots were coming from within a crowd of civilians including women. It was one of the nightmare memories that resurfaced when he succumbed to Alzheimers.

Only one counterexample, I admit, but I feel you are tarring all professional soldiers with a brush they don't deserve.

388:

Re: 'A professional army will happily shoot kids and grandmothers of their own country. A conscripted one will not.'

A professional army is not the same as a mercenary army. If anything, I'd expect a 'professional' [national] soldier to be more cautious about civilian casualties. BTW - My Lai occurred when the US still relied on conscripts for its military.

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

389:

Apropos of nothing:

With the assassination of Solemeini, there's this little ghost of Archduke Ferdinand waving his hand in the distance. The ghost isn't Iran, it's Iran's increasingly close ties to Russia and China. I do hope that, with Trump's careless brinksmanship, we don't get a shooting war between the US and, well, everyone except England, Canada, and Mexico.

Probably won't, because the simplest way for the rest of the world to deal with this mess is to stop funding Trump and the Republicans. We'll see how it goes, but hopefully this doesn't escalate quickly.

390:

Re: '... the simplest way for the rest of the world to deal with this mess is to stop funding Trump and the Republicans.'

Agree. Given how many trade deals DT has walked away from or not been able to finalize, it's a possibility. Biggest 'if' factor here is the US financials/stocks sector that would get hit hardest. Financials make up about 20% of the US GDP and every time there's been an increase in trade war rants*, there's been a market sell-off.

BTW - China has devalued its currency a few times yet still has better purchasing power parity than the US. The devaluations hurt the US and not China (so far).

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/80-trillion-world-economy-one-chart/

'While China’s economy is far behind in nominal terms at $12.2 trillion, you may recall that the Chinese economy has been the world’s largest when adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) since 2016.'


* Some financial analyst did an impact analysis on DT's tweets: turns out the market dips as the number of tweets increases. Wonder if anyone has checked whether he tells his stock broker when to expect an increase in rantings.

https://www.barrons.com/articles/donald-trump-twitter-stock-market-51567803655

391:

One of my uncles left the "oil bidness" for farming, back in the early 1970s. He wanted land in southeast Kansas, but it was unaffordable then, so he ended up in west Texas, south of the Panhandle. He went broke in 20 years, what with weather and fuel costs.
One of his comments was that 'farming is the only business where you buy retail and sell wholesale'. This is why Big Ag is taking over: individuals can't afford it.

392:

Sigh.

IL - CY -GR --- major pipeline deal just signed. Might of noticed a bit of heat via the DM and rape cases. One thing they could NOT do is piss off IL. "Light Bearers" my ass.

What is Syria actually about? Pipeline deals.

TR has a small slice of that in terms of Air / Sea access (oh and northern Syria stuff, but they've got that one sorted via dominance over both rivers).

TR -> Libya, troops: Hafta is US$$$A backed, now has ~1/3rd country (middle) under wraps. TR is propping up the important parts (North, sea access etc) and while .gov voted against letting them in, there's been enough air traffic to put some serious support in country.

SB -> oil field deals in SY (N) and so on (thus the deal that ended up with "a mauser with a M16 attached with a barrel that shoots both ways") leads to this.[0]

What benefits the IL/CY/GR deal? Horm passage closure (puts pressure on signing / TR as NATO signatory).

USA - GE stuff over Nord Gaz pipeline - sanctions and full on muppetry.


And so on.


>>They killed the dudes because they want no other options to be viable. That's why you kill serious Rook level pieces.


Grow up.


[0] You're gonna have to look up who made the missile type and so on to get that joke.


393:

My father saw an early German jet trying to take off, at Pax River around 1946, with a pilot (who may have been too heavy for the plane). He said it barely cleared the fence, went into the wooded overrun, and sheared both wings.

394:

Oh, and getting off Twitter.


DJ basically signed off on the IL/S.NATO plan vrs the TR/N.NATO (FR) plan.


Absolutely no-one is shocked, look at the fucking stock market. Even the fucking local market was only down ~3% max.

Everyone here: WAAAAAAY not cynical enough. IR is a fucking joke.


Want to panic?


Wait till a couple more "Egyptian fishermen" sever that undersea cabal. Cable? Or Cabal?

~


Humans. We're not impressed.

395:

I understand Tr*mp was walking around Mar-al-Ego early this last week telling people that something big was going to happen in the ME. And Lockheed stock went up markedly on Thursday. Many of us were Not Surprised, but we would very much like to know who was buying and when and where they heard.

396:

Oh, and the Cat turned out to be a Grey one, and 'training' turned out to involve major work.

If you need sources, they can be provided: just take it as true and ignore the fucking media for once. If TR troops start getting cut up due to Hafta/US proxies, then worry, 'cause then TR will use their slice access in the med to derail the IL/GR pipeline deal, and TR will have to agree to the RU pipeline deal and so on and so forth.

p.s.


No-one in the media, nor Twitter nor even fucking humans anymore does proper IR.

No, really. Grey cat, [redacted].

You're Fucked

397:

No, not really.

#1 Insider trading, esp. in the MIC is basically QPQ for all of USA officials, has been since Nixon. No, it's never prosecuted.

#2 F35 deal + 3% spike is nothing, these fuckers view this as tips

#3 3% is nothing, it's not even noise at this point. Go look up GS having to stump up $1.75 bil for WeWork 'cause Softbank major got the willies as reference.

#4 Everyone knew about the Iran hit like... days before Trump started spouting guff. That's why he's doing the Twitter maelstrom - to try to convince people he's "in the loop".

Seriously: people. Stop reading MF, MSM and so on for your intel. They're muppets.

398:

If you need a wake-up call:

DERP DERP, WHO IS THE EX-RAYTHEON LOBBYIST IN THE USA GOV AND WHAT IS HIS POSITION?


Like - Haliburton etc.

Seriously: Americans being super-naive about who runs shit is really gross right now.


You're an Empire.

You're run by the people who make weapons.

You make sure that all states you consider 'friendly' are run by weapons manufacturers.


etc


Cut the shit, it's no longer cute.


~


Signed: A Weapon who is ooooooooooooh so much better than you.


Grey. Cat. [redacted]


Y'all this close to some major fucking IMMANENT SHIT. Trust me boys. Trust me.

399:

“CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN ... turns out (20 years later) to be a really useful metaphor for anthropogenic climate change”
Except that, however misguided or downright horrific their responses, the Laundryverse governments are at least taking the problem seriously.

400:

If you need sources, they can be provided
Don't need sources (good practice, though always appreciated), but what is "IR" (as something that both is done and can be a f-in joke)? If e.g. Information Retrieval or International Relations, true I suppose. (One doesn't "do" Iran, well Iranians do.) (Information Ratio would be an odd but fun usage.) Something else?

401:

If believe you can grow anything in anoxic water when I see it done. My experience with anoxic water indicates that nothing grows. Wooden ships don't even rot.

402:

IR= International Relations, here.

It's basically a two riff jokes:

1) Everyone has suddenly become experts on Iran

2) They know shit all and most of them work for dubious Think Tanks

3) Can you see in the dark? We can

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump said.

JFC, you'd think a so called real estate developer would know that improvements to leased land by a tenant aren't paid for by the land's owner. When Iraq says GTFO any improvements that can't/aren't carted away revert to the owner.


This is from an American.

Who forgot about numerous cases, but we'll just put two here for you:


UK settles WWII debts to allies
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6215847.stm

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

Any American expousing this type of nonsense in 2020 needs a fucking slap.

The ENTIRE FUCKING POINT is that certain places (UK, for once) honor these types of deals, entire economies are still based off them (FR - AND 14 EX-COLONIES IN AFRICA YOU TWAT) and so on and so forth.


~


Americans expressing "F for Doubt" over this are a fucking liability, mate.

403:

If believe you can grow anything in anoxic water when I see it done. My experience with anoxic water indicates that nothing grows. Wooden ships don't even rot.

Here's one example: https://aem.asm.org/content/73/21/6802

Lack of oxygen in cold water slows down bacteria, but it doesn't eliminate all of them.

In general, you know this. Your gut is anoxic, but that doesn't mean that you can't digest anything. It's just the way it works, and a good chunk of your GI tract is making sure that the anoxic bacteria are happy in there, and that there's good barrier between that little bit of old Earth and the rest of your body, which requires oxygen.

Speaking of which, most of life's history on Earth happened in an atmosphere where there was little if any free oxygen. They metabolize slower (hence the slower breakdown of wood in anoxic water)and can't really do multicellularity, but they were there.

404:

"No, it's not about reversion to C19 rules; it's about reversion to C16 rules, or earlier."
I think ever eariler - pre-feudal. At least as I understand it, feudalism involved at least some reciprocity; you owed your lord fealty (and taxes and your daughter etc) but he owed you protection. The mega-rich-bastards don't want to even be that tied down.

405:

whitroth @ 364
And unlike Wilhelm II, on whom there were constraints ( He tried, vainly & too late, to stop the whole thing, or at least the invasion of Belgium on about August 1st/2nd ... ) DT is ONLY concerned about himself, not even the continuation of his "empire".So he can & maybe will start a war, just as a distraction.
... @ 371
And BOZO is doing the impression of a shit-seeker, looking for Trump's areshole, yes?
NOTE: Being terminally stupid in the middle E has brought down quite a few PM's with delusions
Lloyd George, Eden, Blair - I think Labour would have kept a majority in 2010 if he hadn't grovelled to the Shrub
I wonder if he can be headed off, or even the "New" tories will revolt at the idea of going against Iran?

RvdH @ 383
Partially
But, typically, allotment holders plant a much wider variety of "stuff" of different varieties, compared to large-area aggroculture ....
Let's see - plant + number of varieties ...
Potatoesx4, Leeksx3, Tomatoesx8,Sproutsx4, Beans x6, Onions x4, Garlic x4, etc - you get the idea?
See also Moz on microclimates & "niches" - plant this in the warm SW-facing corner & those in the cool under the trees & that close to the ditch, etc ...

Heteromeles @ 390
troble is DT WANTS it to escalate quickly, so that it covers/distracts/derails impeachment proceedings & he can wrap himself in the US flag & "win" this year's election.
We may have a constitutional crisis here, if BOZO insosts on supporting Trum - see also Martin's comments, above

406:

Re: '... the simplest way for the rest of the world to deal with this mess is to stop funding Trump and the Republicans.'

Please take a look at the US federal budget.

Depending on how deep you dig, upwards to 20% of the budget goes to support the military industrial complex Eisenhover warned the world against, and all the negative consequences of it, from foreign aid over veterans to superfund-sites.

USA is a planned political economy which is in the business of waging war.

The primary reason for the B61 mod12 is not because of some new or hitherto uncovered military need, but simply to retain the ability to keep building nuclear weapons, should such need suddenly appear.

A large part of the actual argumentation als talks about making the B61 more "versatile", "flexible" and "usable", in the hope that DoD will finally start to use some of the bloody things, so new ones can be sold to them.

And the primary reason Iran is in the cross-hairs right now, is that it is about a decade since DoD last had a big fireworks display, and they cannot procure new weapons and ammunition while the arsenals are full.

Curbing the MIC would be like shutting down the pump in the US economy.

This is not just theory, Reagan&Bush Sr. harvesting the "Cold War Dividend" made a big dent in the US economy, because for every one of the million soldiers they pulled home from Europe, ten people lost their job supporting them state-side.

Until USA has a serious economic revolution, they will start a war every 10 years.

407:

Thanks for that explanation. I doubt that that makes it a breach of copyright law to copy for private use in the UK (only a tort, anyway, even if it were in copyright). You are talking about copying for sale, which is very different.

408:

SNARL
I bought "The March North" yesterday on Google as an experiment ... after going round about 3 time I got it & PAID for it.
NOW, I can't get back in & fucking Google are sending me messages I'm not recieveing asking for codes that may be fake & generally NOT WORKING - the phine is in fornt of me as I type & isn't getting the mesasges - yes wifi is on etc.
WTF?
And people wonder why some of us prefer dead trees.

409:

Except that, however misguided or downright horrific their responses, the Laundryverse governments are at least taking the problem seriously.

Ooh. That suggests a plotline or two which excessively-honest-me wouldn't normally think of (because hypocrisy on the scale currently being demonstrated by the likes of Scott Morrison in Australia is counterintuitive).

410:

Sounds like you registered an old phone number with google -- have you changed mobile numbers in, oh, the past decade or so? Because then they're sending texts with a 2fa authorization code to a phone you don't have any more.

Google has some weird bugs that hang around forever because their staff focus on rolling out new services rather than patching old code (it's how you get promoted there). For example, after just one trip to Poland, Google Maps decided I speak fluent Polish and nothing I've been able to do since then will make it flip back to English. This is probably My Fault™ for jumping through the flaming hoops to switch off google's more privacy-invasive features (logging my search history, basically). So it's possible they figured out your old phone number and keep it, persistently, rather than sending codes to your current phone.

411:

Peter Pan is an exception. As far as I know, the exception. It's got a perpetual copyright under British Law, with all royalties being supplied to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

412:

... after just one trip to Poland, Google Maps decided I speak fluent Polish and nothing I've been able to do since then will make it flip back to English.

I imagine that there's some bare-bones explanation of the language setting protocol that includes enough information to let a technically astute user figure out how to manually change languages - and that Google will only give it to you in Polish.

* tired sigh *

413:

Thank you. You are correct.

I have found the actual reference, and the situation is that it is NOT even a tort to download it in the UK from Project Gutenberg, though it IS to perform it in public.

https://www.gosh.org/about-us/peter-pan/copyright

Or, in the Act:

[GOSH Children's Charity is] entitled, subject to the following provisions of this Schedule, to a royalty in respect of any public performance, commercial publication [or communication to the public] of the whole or any substantial part of the work (*) or an adaptation of it.

(*) "the work" means the play "Peter Pan" by Sir James Matthew Barrie.

Whether or not it is a tort for the Gutenberg project to make it accessible in the UK, I will leave to lawyers.

414:

There is a simple solution to this with most browsers under most desktop systems (though you need to be a bit geekish to use it): wrap your browser in a script that purges all cookies and other such crap every time you close it.

Web page: "Allow us to store an arbitrary amount of snooping data in your cookies or sod off."

Me: "OK, and much good may it do you" :-)

415:

Here's a possibly more useful response, because it's 4am here and I have nothing better to do:

If Google Maps is otherwise behaving itself there should be a menu option in the upper left corner. This menu should include Language (Język in Polish), although some interfaces tuck it under a sub-menu for Settings (possibly Ustawienia in Polish). That brings up a long list of languages. I've tried it just now on Chrome and I can reset languages as I like.

As a side note I discover that it offers me English (United States) but not English (UK) or English (Australia). I could choose either ‪Español (España)‬ or ‪Español (Latinoamérica), but if I wanted French there's only ‪Français (France)‬ and no ‪Français (Canada)‬. Making the options location sensitive seems counterproductive but I didn't code the thing.

There's an article here on changing the audio interface, which isn't a thing I use.

I suspect you tried all this within days of leaving Poland, but as I said it's 4am...

416:

Inspired by Scott, I found a "Polish Family Centre" on Leith Walk. I don't know anyone there, but I do know that Poles are usually happy to help with stuff like this.

417:

The entire point of the giant kelp planting (beyond harvesting it) is that it oxygenates the water. So, no, its not growing in anoxic waters, but it is creating its own area of oxygenated, less acidic, water

418:

In my browser there's a setting provided to delete all cookies when closing it, but I never do (although it does crash occasionally), so the method isn't applicable. Instead I just don't allow the crap to be created in the first place. Cookies are disabled, except for specific sites such as this that I want to log in to, and LSOs are also disabled. The various "unofficial" methods of storing state in browsers are taken care of by general anti-evil-script defences and disabling the HTML "canvas" element. This method is also more comprehensive, since it also prevents the site trying to use cookies within the session to improve your user experience.

The trouble with Google is that there don't seem to be any "press-button" methods (or close approximations) for sanitising it, so geekery is the only option. On search results pages, for instance, it has mechanisms for tracking clicks on the results both with javascript on and with it off. To fix this means writing your own script that both blocks Google's scripts and rewrites the result URLs to remove the tracking redirection bit. There are several other undesirable things that require the same kind of method to get rid of them, and thanks to Google's apparently deliberate bloody awful coding style it's a royal pain in the arse, so I've limited myself to cleaning up the search results pages (which are the easiest to do) and blocking or just not using everything else. (Including their mickey mouse maps.)

(Ebay is another example of a site where geekery is necessary to block all the shite. I do all the searching with cookies off and only log in to actually buy stuff, but it passes a bunch of session history back and forth in URL query parameters, and it wouldn't consistently give me the same results for the same search term until I wrote a script to delete all those parameters except the one or two actually necessary ones.)

419:

That's productivity measured as "output per farm worker". So far as I know, yeah, it really has about tripled.

Productivity per hectare and soil health and several other things are quite distinct from "farming is a way to lose money" structural issues.

420:

Waters do need to not be actively toxic

Current expected sea level rise from current atmospheric carbon load is 15 metres. Minimum supportable is five metres-something. (This is from a cave on Mallorca where there's been an opening to the sea for the last several million years and you can use mineral deposition in the cave to get a paleo sea level.)

There's an awful lot of heavy industry within fifteen metres of current sea level; absent a concerted effort to move it all uphill ahead of the rising sea, toxic is going to be a long-term problem. (well, human-scale long term.)

421:

Austria v Serbia, but with some bits the other way round?

I don't buy the "no parallels because the internet is a difference in kind" thing. It's a difference in degree only, and not even all that much of one looking at how ancient phenomena like marvelling at the unfeasibly rapid spread of rumour or political appeal to the mob are.

422:

Um, what's TJ going on about?

Kelp as a species (most kelp forests,not all, are dominated by giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera) prefers clean, cold waters between 5-20oC. (https://www.nps.gov/glba/learn/nature/kelp-forest.htm). They're cold-water species.

So far as I know, to a first approximation, all the oxygen in the ocean comes from phytoplankton floating in the photic part of the ocean, plus wave action in the Arctic and Antarctic that pulls atmospheric gases into the water through all those beautiful, wind-whipped waves.

Planting more kelp to increase oxygen is kinda like trying to help a bald man get hairier by giving him denser eyelashes.

That said, I think that if you could find a way to anoxically bury large amounts of phytoplankton, you'd find a good way to pull CO2 out of the ocean and put it back in the lithosphere. Oddly enough, that's what deep water dead zones do. Phytoplankton buried anoxically produce this stuff called kerogen in a rock called shale, which decomposes (in the chemical sense) really slowly. If the kerogen deposit is capped by an impenetrable layer of rock (like a salt deposit), then the decay products get trapped as they rise, and you get deposits of things like petroleum and natural gas.

This is one normal way carbon goes out of the ocean during periods when there is a lot of it in the atmosphere. It's really hard on marine life adapted to a world without dead zones for at least the last 15 million years, and even harder on a human civilization that depends on exploiting the ocean without control, but it is a natural feedback system.

423:

Or you could just ask Simon Morden to do it for you ;)

424:

Charlie
Google has some wierd bugs
Yes ... after much swearing & going round a couple more times, it fixed itself, but bugger knows what happened.
I will now, shortly, try "A Succession of Bad Days" - it's certainly DIFFERENT. As different as Hannu Rajaniemi's work if easier to at least part understand ....

425:

I think you've got me mixed up with someone else - I haven't commented on the competence or otherwise of British/Commonwealth WW1 generals, I was saying that the manifest lack of competence of a mad corporal as supreme commander (on the other side, in the next war) created a situation that was preferable to the possibility of him being assassinated and someone competent taking his place.

The stuff about German WW1-era logistics is from a book on the history of railways in warfare I found on Project Gutenberg or archive.org or somewhere like that, plus more general histories of the period (1 interests me more than 2 in most aspects). To be sure the quality of the results of their planning varied wildly between frighteningly effective and frighteningly stupid, and anything naval in particular suffered from fundamental cluelessness, but they still loved doing it, which was my point: they certainly did not "disdain" it in favour of buckling the swash and trusting to the fortune of war.

It seems to me that a lot of the story of the Western Front was defined by the Germans' logistical methods' need for order and predictability. The land behind their trenches was mostly intact and easy to run a distribution network over, and their operations in large part aimed at keeping things that way. They did fine as long as they kept in contact with their supply machine, but trying to go beyond the area where it functioned well - as in 1914 and 1918 - they only kept going until the bungee pulled taut and then it went spoing and yanked them back again.

426:

_Moz_ @ 310: There are so many "legitimate military targets" on the US side that saying they might stick to those doesn't narrow it down much at all, especially if they also use the US "anyone near a target is a target" for values of "near" that make astronomers look precise (the Earth is 'near' the Sun, for example).

I don't know what military experience you might be drawing from, but that's NOT the way the U.S. military works. The PR people may use the term "collateral damage" to deflect outside criticism IF/WHEN someone fucks up and kills bystanders or gets the target wrong, but INSIDE the military you can kiss your ass goodbye - unless you've already reached O-8 where you've got subordinate commanders you can shift the blame onto - and at that level it's politicians, not soldiers. Someone in the chain of command is going to get handed the shit sandwich and forced to eat it.

The U.S. military tries to avoid "collateral damage" for practical reasons. It's messy and the U.S. military abhors "messy" - there's always blowback and it does encourage tit-for-tat retaliation.

OTOH, you can't allow anyone to wage war against you with impunity. It makes the troops nervous & affects recruiting. Soleimani had been waging war against the U.S. for more than 20 years, but he finally overplayed his hand and became just a little too blatant about it.

Again,
What is the top commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds Force doing in Baghdad meeting with the commander of the Kata'ib Hezbollah militia just days after the Kata'ib Hezbollah militia tried to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad?

They could equally just step up from helping freedom fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine etc to helping similar folk in the USA. Not providing weapons, obviously, but training and target suggestions. I'm thinking specifically of meme wars - rather than "Hillary is a bad person" start spamming out "here's why you should shoot up {vaguely plausible target}" type stuff. A few months of "Trump-related business is distributing Fentanyl" or whatever could noticeably increase the mass shooting rate in the US. Or do an FBI-style "make your own terrorist" operation but arrange to have a real bomb that really blows up. For extra points use real FBI agents to do 90% of the work. (actually, for real bonus points hack the FBI and use their real "make our own terrorist" operations)

It's called Stochastic Terrorism and "THEY" have already been doing that for years and years and years. Maybe you think that's a good idea, but I don't.

427:

Greg Tingey @ 316: JBS
@ 272:Unpleasant, but, you may have a "legal" point. Whether it's moral or sensible is another story.
@ 273: Being a reactionary theocrat does not exclude military or political competence, unfortunately - ask Old Noll Cromwell ....

Never said it was a good idea - "legal", "moral" or "sensible" - just that I don't believe anyone in a position of power in Iran or China or anywhere else makes any distinction between Trumpolini's interests and the interests of the United States.

They are not the same thing, but "THEY" don't care.

There seems to be a widely shared view that "collateral damage" is only a bad thing when it's the result of a U.S. military action.

428:

Charlie Stross @ 317:

"Don't know if that's something that happened recently to the U.K. military. I only know about the U.S. military. (Cuts to VA medical benefits.)"

It's not something that would be even relevant in the UK; we have the NHS (although the Tories are doing their best to privatise the back end of it). Martin can probably provide additional information on post-deployment rehab and disability assistance, but AIUI veterans are in the same basket as everybody else, i.e. free healthcare (modulo some important tweaks: a prescription tax in England -- flat rate per item, with an annual ceiling: similar for basic dentistry -- and you pay for glasses). The gotcha is that due to chronic underfunding (thanks, Tories!) mental health services are in perpetual crisis, so people who joined up at 18, served for years (so no non-institutional living skills) and sustained mental injuries in service (e.g. PTSD) simply don't get the support they need and end up homeless/on the street.

Yeah, we don't have National Health to fall back on. Oddly enough, I can see an eye doctor and get glasses from the VA, but not basic dentistry (or any dentistry at all) even though my broken teeth were service related. I broke them eating in the "dining facility" in Iraq. I could have had them all extracted at REFRAD, but I would still have had to pay for my own dentures (which I did pay for the partial upper that replaces some of the broken ones).

429:

I will now, shortly, try "A Succession of Bad Days" - it's certainly DIFFERENT. As different as Hannu Rajaniemi's work if easier to at least part understand ....

Yeah, cross nanotechnology with The Witches of Karres...

430:
My grandfather was a British soldier in Ireland during the Troubles. Volunteer, not conscript, so I presume what you would call a professional soldier.

His section came under fire from a sniper. Sergeant down, and the Tommies panicking because they were getting shot at and they couldn't return fire

They "couldn't" return fire, IIRC, because the rules of engagement prevented it.

After Bloody Sunday - the Derry one, and I have to specify because neither "the Bloody Sunday massacre conducted by the British Army" nor "the Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland" are specific enough - the British Army finally learned firing indiscriminately at civilians (it only took ~70 years) was bad PR and good recruitment for the opposition and put in place orders to reflect that.

If members of the British Army had been reluctant to fire indiscriminately at civilians, how come Bloody Sunday happened?

431:

anonemouse
Actually, I THINK it was, to say the least, "frowned upon" ... but it only wants ONE junior Officer or NCO to lose their cool 7/or panic ( After all SOMEIONE is firing AT YOU! ) & all sorts of shit breaks loose .... yes?

432:

Don't know, don't use chrome. Firefox: preferences-> advanced -> security -> manage data. You can search for text in names. One thing - the window needs to be big enough. I have ff covering about 30% of my screen, and it needs to be bigger, to see the buttons that read "remove all" or "remove selected"... and this is on a freakin' 24" screen. The morons seem to be coding for mobiles, where the only choice is full screen.

433:

Wait a minute, there are things you can't do in fiction, because no one would believe them... that occur in the real world.

434:

What on EARTH were they feeding you?

435:

Stochastic terrorism: and the reason we can't shut down Faux "News", and charge Bill O'Reilly with stochastic terrorism and incitement to commit murder (for the women's healthcare provider in Kansas) is...?

Y'know, in the trials after WWII, the US prosecutor noted we weren't prosecuting (in general) the ordinary soldiers, we were prosecuting the scum who gave the orders.

And I see, far too often, *only* low levels getting their ass handed to them, or charged. I'm working hard to remember someone higher than, say, Lt. Calley, charged.

436:

I think you missed the point that I'd originally made: "Re: ... the simplest way for the rest of the world to deal with this mess is to stop funding Trump and the Republicans."

This was specifically to note that if you want the current administration to stop stupidly getting the US into wars that will result in destruction of your interest by professional demolitions' experts getting PTSD while doing the bidding of stupid and evil people, then there's a solution:

Stop fscking with US elections.

Or, if you do, help to elect Democrats across the board. It's not that democrats are immune from corruption, it's that they're a lot more sane about it.

This has nothing to do with how the US funds its MIC from within. That's a different problem.

437:

Geoff Hart @ 322: Charlie noted: "If true this also makes Trump a foreign agent of influence and, depending on what his instructions were, quite possibly guilty of treason, although proving that one without Kremlin insider cooperation would be quite a reach."

That and the whole "giving aid and comfort to an enemy of the state" (i.e., Russia), which seems an open and shut case. But I'm told by an American who seems credible that in the U.S., treason only applies in the legal context of a declared war, and that this is why the Democrats haven't attempted to try Trump for treason.

This is far outside my area of expertise, so confirmation would be welcomed.

Caveat: IANAL.

Because too many commenters on the internet bandy about accusations of "Treason", I've actually given it a good bit of thought and done what research I can on the subject through the internet. I looked into it most recently when someone was suggesting Julian Assange could be charged, tried & convicted of treason if he were extradited to the U.S. He couldn't. You have to be a citizen or person otherwise subject to U.S. jurisdiction at the time of your "overt act" for it to be treason.

"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."
          Article II, Section 4
"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."
          Article III, Section 3, Paragraph 1

Although based on the U.K.'s Treason Statute at the time the Constitution was adopted, the Constitution eliminates all but two of the specifics "levying War" and "adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort". The Constitution also sets a high bar for proof of Treason, requiring two witnesses to an overt act of levying war or adhering to the enemy OR the accused must get on the witness stand and confess Treason in OPEN COURT. Finally, the Constitution (Article III, Section 3, Paragraph 2) restricts Congress from expanding the definition of Treason. The only way they could do so is by amending the Constitution.

It does not matter whether there is a declared war or not, nor even if there IS a war.

Congress (and by this is meant specifically the House of Representatives) can IMPEACH Donald Trump for treason without him ever being criminally charged with the crime by the DoJ. Impeachment does NOT require two witnesses or confession in open court because it is NOT a criminal proceeding.

The Senate could "convict" him on an impeachment charge of treason. But this results ONLY in his removal from office and a lifetime ban on ever again holding any position of trust under the United States Government. He would NOT go to prison or be whisked off to Gitmo.

For that to happen he would have to be indicted, tried AND CONVICTED in criminal court, where the Constitution does require the two witnesses and/or confession in open court.

The problem with charging Trumpolini with "treason" for his dealings with Putin and Russia is that almost all of the possible witnesses against him are technically co-conspirators and have no interest (self, financial or otherwise) in ratting him out.

Researching the subject, I only came up with thirty-one instances in which someone has been charged with Treason against the United States in the two and a quarter centuries since the ratification of the Constitution. And in the case of the eight conspirators convicted in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, I'm not sure if they were charged with Treason or not, even though their trials are frequently cited examples. The specifications included "traitorously conspiring", but never explicitly states a charge of Treason.

Of those thirty-one cases where persons were charged with Treason - one person was acquitted, four persons had their charges dropped, two persons charged in absentia during WWII died before they coul