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Crib Sheet: Season of Skulls

Season of Skulls came out six months ago, so here be spoilers. If you want a recap of the two previous novels in this not-exactly-a-trilogy, you can find my notes on them here: Dead Lies Dreaming, Quantum of Nightmares.

What do I mean by not-exactly-a-trilogy? Well: the idea of the New Management was to reboot the Laundry Files, which I've been writing since 1999, with a new cast of protagonists largely drawn from a younger generation, and dealing with more modern social and political issues. My little one-shot Lovecraftian-spy mashup has evolved over two decades into a sprawling setting with multiple viewpoint characters, but they were all essentially civil servants working in the secret side of the government, which is a bit restricting. I blew the doors off the universe in The Nightmare Stacks, allowing me to explore the overarching theme of how to live in a world gone mad—the world of the New Management—and this trilogy marked the start of that. Also, the Laundry Files main story line comes to an end in late May of 2015, in an event that can reasonably be called the Lovecraftian Singularity: the climactic events, from The Nightmare Stacks onwards, are all crammed into a period of about 18-24 months. 2015 is receding in the rear view mirror and I wanted to jump the the setting forward a bit, so Dead Lies Dreaming starts in winter of 2015 and Season of Skulls takes place in spring of 2017 ... and, of course, the summer of 1816.

(I have plans for more New Management novels, starting with one in 2019, but my editors are holding my feet to the fire and insisting I finish the earlier series before I go there. And they're right. So I'm working on the final installment in Bob and Mo's story arc at the moment ...)

First note: apparently it is possible to read and enjoy Season of Skulls without prior exposure to the first two books in the series—or indeed any Laundryverse fic at all. But it's not recommended because you'll miss a lot of elements that recur from earlier in the series, such as Persephone and Johnny (from The Apocalypse Codex), and Old George (from The Rhesus Chart, who we get to meet in 1816, before he turned PHANG and acquired an attitude problem). Not to mention His Dread Majesty, the Black Pharaoh, who Eve Starkey (from the two earlier books) is invited to attend—and it's the sort of invitiation you can't refuse, considering that by the end of the Laundry Files he's bedded in as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in addition to being the living avatar of an Elder God out of Lovecraft. (Although—probably not a spoiler for The Regicide Report—he doesn't have access to the full power of Nyarlathotep because Reasons, which we partially explore later in Season of Skulls.)

Second note: the ghost roads—or dream roads: their name depends on context and destination—have been a part of the Laundry since book one, The Atrocity Archives. (How do you think Bob and Mo got to the alternate-Earth with the lakes of liquid air and Hitler's face carved on the moon?) They show up again in The Jennifer Morgue as Hotelspace (the manifold of grimy white-painted passages with scuffed carpet that link the service areas of every hotel in the cosmos, hidden behind doors labelled "staff only"). Imp and his crew took the ghost roads to a deteriorating dream-version of Whitechapel in 1888 in Dead Lies Dreaming, and at the end of that book Eve deceived Rupert de Montfort Bigge, the Big Bad, into getting lost in the ghost roads. For most of Quantum of Nightmares Eve believes, or at least hopes, that Rupert is dead, slain by the curse on the lost manuscript of the concordance to the Necronomicon. No such luck: it's definitely not a spoiler to say that Rupert shows up again in Season of Skulls, laughs maniacally while twirling his mustache at the helpless Eve, then disappears back into the ghost roads. Only this time he's not going back to 1888, but to 1816, the year without a summer, to try and out-flank the Black Pharaoh and take 21st century Britain as his own springboard to godlike power, in order to become the avatar of the Mute Poet.

Third note: for Brits of a certain age, the nature of Eve's prison in 1817 should be obvious—it's The Village, from the classic 1960s psychological thriller show The Prisoner. The real-life Village used for filming was Portmeirion in Wales, which didn't really exist back in 1817—it was built from 1925 onwards. But in the Laundry universe, where magic is real enough that sorcerers regularly go mad and die when Eaters chow down on their brains ... wouldn't there have been an occult element to the Napoleonic wars? And if a time-travelling sorcerer from the future wanted to get his feet under the table with the government of the day, wouldn't it be a good was to establish his bona fides by establishing an escape-proof detention center for captured French sorcerers and other miscreants? We know, from the Bond-shaped hero plot in The Jennifer Morgue that patterns can suck protagonists in and trap them, and an escape-proof luxury prison camp on the Welsh coast would be just the thing.

Such a shame that the war ended in 1815 and now the War Office doesn't know what to do with the inmates—such as the Baron Von Franckenstein and his creepy clones of Napoleon (a shout-out to The Boys From Brazil). Or, for that matter, Eve herself, who gets stuck in 1816 because—

Look, I'm out of excuses. I wrote this novel from 2020 to early 2022, during the early years of the COVID19 pandemic. In particular, in 2020, I spent most of the year at home expecting to die. (I have comorbidities that, before the vaccines arrived, meant I had a 15-20% probability of dying if I caught COVID19, and a much higher probability of being crippled for life.) Because I was depressed (weren't we all?) I went on a reading binge that avoided anything particularly grim. This included exploring the Regency subgenre of romance, which is probably the biggest shared universe setting in fiction today. The regency era roughly coincided with the birth of the novel as a popular entertainment medium, the birth of romance in particular, and the invention of both science fiction and the vampire novel in its modern form—both of the latter happening at a house party near Lake Geneva attended by Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), John Polidori (The Vampyre), and some guy called Lord Byron (who is mostly remembered for today because of his daughter, Ada Lovelace, patron saint of software, who otherwise has absolutely nothing to do with this book.)

The original humour in The Atrocity Archives arose from taking a fish-out-of-water protagonist—Bob Howard, a sandal-wearing slashdot-reading 90s computer geek who finds himself dumped into a particularly seedy British espionage agency out of early Len Deighton—and banging him repeatedly up against tentacle monsters from beyond spacetime until sparks flew. Season of Skulls attempted to revive this formula with a different fish-out-of-water protagonist: icy Eve Starkey is an uptight 21st century corporate executive, who is absolutely a fish-out-of-water in the genteel polite upper crust society of the regency era. (Her version of delivering the cut direct to an unwanted suitor involves a very sharp knife.) Being dropped into an occult spy plot is entirely within her wheelhouse, but how does she deal with a pocket universe sustained by soul stuff and shaped by belief, in this case the fervent belief of millions of regency romance fans that there must be wedding bells and a happy ever after for the heroine and her beaux? (Eve doesn't have a romantic bone in her body.)

Eve gets a crash tour of 1816, care of any number of romance genre conventions. Spot the plot tropes: locked up in a suitably gothic asylum for wayward women, escaping (repeatedly), stowing away at sea, long carriage rides (which were every bit as protracted and uncomfortable as described), highwaymen, pirates, daring escapes by balloon, marriage of convenience, fake marriage, only one bed, creepy kid, and everything else I could think of in the lead-up to the boss fight between Rupert and Number Seven.

As for the dream of 1816: is it real, and if not, why can it have side-effects in the real world? Well, pocket universes accessed via the ghost roads arent actual earlier times, they're a partial recreation, powered by the mana (magical energy) of whoever opens up the road to that location, and given shape by the expectations and beliefs of that person and everyone around them. If you were to open up a road to the 1950s you'd run the risk of bumping into Ian Fleming era James Bond. Rupert picked the 1790s for his second destination, to give him time to prepare his Cunning Plan to unseat the Black Pharaoh in 2016: Eve arrives near the climax of his plot and finds herself in a setting much more fleshed-out (and dangerous) than the 1888 of Dead Lies Dreaming. And also de-fleshed insofar as it has nearly completely disassembled Rupert, turning him into an undead nightmare, and is digging its claws into Eve for more power to keep the dream alive.

Stuff that's deliberately left unclear: while George (Number Seven) is certainly a member of the Invisible College (and probably the same Old George as the powerful PHANG from The Rhesus Chart) it's not clear whether, if you could talk to Old George in 2017 (he's still trapped like Schroedinger's cat inside an event horizon with Angleton, wave function uncollapsed) he'd remember Eve at all. After all, 200 years is a very long time, even with True Love on your side.

What comes next?

2024's Laundry Novel, A Conventional Boy, is not a New Management book, it's a side-quest from the main Laundry Files series, set at roughly the same time as The Apocalypse Codex or The Rhesus Chart. (Main protagonists: Derek the DM and Iris Carpenter). I'm currently writing The Regicide Report for 2025, which should be the final novel about the Laundry as an institution—by the end of The Regicide Report SOE X-Division has been officially disbanded. And beyond that ... as noted, I have plans for more New Management books, but nothing contracted yet. Watch the skies.

Any questions? Ask in the comments ...

1317 Comments

1:

Footnote (because I forgot to put this in the essay):

If you go back to the Crib Notes for Dead Lies Dreaming and Quantum of Nightmares you'll notice that both those novels have braided plot threads -- an A plot and a B plot, but also a C plot, only converging at the climax.

Season of Skulls is structurally different and a lot simpler insofar as it sticks almost entirely to Eve's point of view (there are a couple of interstitial scenes with Number Two and Number Seven while Eve is off-screen). On the other hand, Eve is hopelessly tangled up in at least two different plots of her own, so it's not necessarily a structurally simpler novel, it's just a different kind of complexity.

And at 118,000 words it's about twice the length of an early 1960s SF novel. Sigh.

2:

evil... such delightful evil...

too bad Netflix lacks scriptwriters with the imagination necessary to fully realize such nightmarish evil in a visual medium... then again with a sufficiently resourced AI (128 petabytes of RAM and a couple thousand 20Ghz CPUs and an iceberg per week as cooling system) could be brought forth into existence to generate such scripts...

3:
  • ....the overarching theme of how to live in a world gone mad*
    Like the one we are in, you mean?
    I've just seen a very interesting take on that from, of all places, the Financial Times, which I have posted in the "Torment Nexus" thread, rather than derail this one, ok?
4:

I just looked for it on "Torment Nexus" thread, and do not see it. What number is that comment?

5:

Well, of course.

There's a throwaway remark in "Season of Skulls" to the effect that Eve finds the early 19th century -- with its gibbets and highwaymen and debauched aristocrats living high on the hog and grotesque poverty and cruelty -- boringly familiar. As she's come from a London in 2017 which is an only slightly exaggerated parody of our own, you can see where this is leading ...

6:

Ilya187
I can see it at: 1457

Charlie @ 5
I think I already noticed those parallels, didn't I?
To wit .. Prisoners on grim, floating hulks & transportation across the seas ...
As portrayed by Dickens in *Great Expectations" & repeated by the current tories.

7:

Going mad with power should be at the very least fun; the Laundryverse has that, more so in a few books, but traces throughout the series. The prose has moments quite exhilarating in the indulgence of OGH's artistic whims towards villainy.

Just not enough outlandish whims.

8:

I think you've also mentioned somewhere along the way you were going to tell the Senior Auditor's story (resolve his story line), how he got there?

Is this going to be included in The Regicide Report?

9:

I decided not to go with my original plan for his auto-da-fe novel. Instead it's rolled into The Regicide Report as a subplot.

10:

These pocket universes at the end of them ghost roads, do they by chance also work into the future? If so, can we convince you to entertain a Pinky & Brains vs Captain Future spin-off?

11:

I can see it at: 1457

Ah, I misunderstood. I was looking for a link to Financial Times, and you put in a quote instead.

Made more confusing by the link to YouTube.

12:

I haven't given that any thought. No need for it so far ... but I do have plans to use the trope in the next New Management book. (Imp blags a professional digital video camera and decides to make money fast by taping amateur action furry porn on location in Narnia. Only he doesn't get the version of Narnia written by C. S. Lewis: he goes something much darker ... also, we discover the horrible truth about werewolves in the Laundryverse (they're even further out from standard urban fantasy werewolves than PHANGs are from generic vampires) and about knotting.)

13:

When you say; "the end of The Regicide Report SOE X-Division has been officially disbanded" is that the Plan Titanic working group, the original Laundry department, the department established by Mhari in Labrynth Index,or all of the above? I had been under the impression that her department was the new D.E.A.T.H., Departmant of Existental Anthropic Threat to Humanity, was I wrong on that assumption?

14:

I think wolves are just as cool as everyone else does, but I've found it impossible to take werewolves seriously ever since I read Ursula Vernon's Summer in Orcus.

15:

I don't know about wolves being "cool" - but I will go for hand-tame foxes, feeding on delicious doggie-bikkies ( Guess how I know? )

16:

I've been wanting to write this immediately after reading SoS, but there never was a spoiler thread (it probably got lost in the Dream Roads), thus I'm saying it here.

"Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” George said grimly. “What do you know of vampires?”
“Vampires?” Eve blinked in confusion. “Vampires don’t ex—”

Record Scratch.

Well played, Charlie.
Well played.

And now I can't help feeling sorry for (Old) George.

On the plus side, we got two origin stories for the price of a single book. That's a 50% discount on origin stories!

17:

werewolves in the Laundryverse (they're even further out from standard urban fantasy werewolves than PHANGs are from generic vampires

I am looking forward to reading about them. But I am certainly looking forward to A Conventional Boy and The Regicide Report too.

As it happens I am currently reading a book called The Tyrannicide Brief by the well-known human rights law international living treasure Geoffrey Robertson. It's a biography/legal documentary about John Cooke, the man who prosecuted Charles I and was subsequently executed as a regicide post-Restoration. I thought of it recently reading a New Yorker article about the trial of Jefferson Davis as a contrast to the situation with Trump, and realised I'd never read it (Robertson refers to it and its content in Crimes against Humanity, his summary of the state of human rights law, which I have definitely read and now note has a bunch of revisions to bring it up to date).

18:

Damian

Human Rights Law? - what's that then?

19:

Have you seen pictures of the knots on the doors of the Centre for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge? They are well worth looking at, and I have always been reminded of them by references to Dho-Na curves (or conversely). They would make a good component for a cover :-)

21:

Mr Stross.

The Government has received your documentary on 21st Century Britain, amusingly titled "The New Management".

One adjudicator was concerned that having rich wives present the severed heads of their spouses to the Prime Minister would be unsanitary, but fortunately his later meal included items washed in tapwater, and he is now in a critical condition in intensive care, and is not expected to be capable of objecting to your work in future.

A group of 100 members of the public were exposed to your documentary.

30 of them immediately committed suicide.

40 were rendered permanently catatonic.

10 became homicidally insane and had to be sectioned.

20 suffered immediate and lasting severe unipolar depression.

Well done sir!

You have doubled the previous record of survivors capable of productive work after exposure to reality!

The incredible sense of personal agency and relentless hope and optimism in your work is truly mind-boggling.

Your conceit that the events of this century require evil entities from beyond our universe rather than greed, blithering incompetence, hitherto unseen levels of hubris and megalomania, dominant primate psychology (but I repeat myself), short-sightedness and corruption has been absolutely crucial to your success in reinforcing the public belief that "It could Never happen here" that has left as many as one in five informed members of the public capable of being put to productive use.

I salute you!

(unreadable squiggle) Permanent UnderSecretary pp (some sort of ichor?) Home Secretary

His Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom of England

22:

DEAT replaces the Laundry, but at a much higher level -- it's a full-scale ministry, not a department within one particular MoD organization.

23:

Charlie, I really enjoyed Season of Skulls and liked Eve as a protagonist. I remember thinking that in some ways Eve's experiences were very like Miriam Beckstein's, notably the modern woman in a patriarchal society, arranged marriages, boring coach journeys, etc. Given that Miriam was written before your regency deep-dive, are these similarities coincidental or something deeper?

24:

Re: '... what's that then?'

My impression is that this particular peaceful demonstration was too close to a major hospital and because of its size interfered with people/ambulances being able to access emergency medical care.

'Peaceful' is good, so is 'safe'.

25:

The similarities are coincidental (I wrote Miriam's first book in 2002, so they're separated by 20 years)! Just a side-effect of dealing with time travel/paratime travel.

It's worth noting that when Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid's Tale in 1986 she pointed out that all the restrictions Offred lived under were real, somewhere or other, in 1986.

(A really easy -- bordering on clichéd -- way to write a dystopian fic is to take the conditions the bottom 10% of the population live under and portray a world in which those impositions are applied to high status white people living in western societies. It pretty much writes itself, and the potential for a trite moralising allegory should be obvious.)

26:

Re: Knots

Although knots are fascinating/weird therefore likely to get kids interested in how they work, somehow they were never covered in any math course I took.

I've been wondering about how knots might be used in real* or sf/f life - apart from shoelaces. One idea is to minimize perceived distance/size - from the outside. Also half-wondering whether naval architects design boat interiors based on knots - a well-design boat interior has much more storage space than a 'house' of similar exterior dimensions.

Looks like there are tons of different knots - this one is a fractal version.

https://knotplot.com/various/AntoinesNecklace.html

*After looking at knotplot, I wonder whether knots are key to protein folding - moebius knots.

27:

Very true, but .... Even elementary knot theory is more advanced than simple topology which is, in itself, a non-trivial undergraduate topic in a mathematics degree. I can't recall being taught it, and a Cambridge mathematics syllabus was advanced as any (at least then), though it may have been a third-year option I didn't select. You are right about their number, and the fact that they, er, connect to physics, biochemistry etc. Don't ask me to explain, because that's all beyond my knowledge.

I have the Ashley book of Knots and use getting on for ten knots regularly, but they are all simple, practical ones. I have done a monkey's fist and square sennit. No, I am not a yachtsman - just someone interested in knots.

28:

take the conditions the bottom 10% of the population live under and portray a world in which those impositions are applied to high status white people living in western societies

Can you give some examples, because I don't think I understand what you are talking about?

Sure, I had seen a couple movies portraying a kind of mirror world where blacks were on top and whites on the bottom, but it would be impossible to tell if the said white people would have been "high status" in our world. Or do you mean something completely different?

29:

ilya187 28:

ancient episode of Twilight Zone, "To Serve Man", wherein humanity ends upon the menu just like rabbits, sheep, cows, etc

ultimate leveling as just another protein source

also, while not explicit, any book about the survivors of any nuclear war, all suddenly scrambling in the ruins

30:

"Can you give some examples, because I don't think I understand what you are talking about?"

There are plenty of places in the world where, if you're in the bottom 10%, the cops can, and sometimes will, beat the shit out of you just to remind you that they can, and if you don't like it the first time, they can do it again.

Often race is part of why you're in the bottom 10%, but it's not an essential part of the principle.

Now suppose that, instead of the bottom 10%, it's the bottom 80%.

And there are a great many other things not to like about being in the bottom 10%, most of which can be expanded.

JHomes

31:

I've read such stories, if sometime later you need a topic for a post, that might be a good one.

32:

Now suppose that, instead of the bottom 10%, it's the bottom 80%.

I am well familiar with that. It's called "Russia".

Still does not explain how you write a dystopia where recognizably "high status white people living in western societies" are in the bottom 80%.

33:

hmmmm...

here in the US, there was the Dobbs decision; prior to 24-June-2022 all women had the right to abortion on demand;

after?

one fewer civil rights...

...one step backwards towards slavery for 100% of women

34:

The regency era roughly coincided with the birth of the novel as a popular entertainment medium

Interestingly, this triggered a roughly two-decade moral panic about people reading them.

Women, of every age, of every condition, contract and retain a taste for novels [...] T]he depravity is universal. My sight is every-where offended by these foolish, yet dangerous, books. [...] I have actually seen mothers, in miserable garrets, crying for the imaginary distress of an heroine, while their children were crying for bread: and the mistress of a family losing hours over a novel in the parlour, while her maids, in emulation of the example, were similarly employed in the kitchen.

35:

Knots were one of John Conway's interests, so he probably wrote something (relatively) accessible on the subject. There's this, for example: An enumeration of knots and links, and some of their algebraic properties.

I remember a lecture aimed at non-mathematicians on knot theory that he gave somewhere in Cambridge, some time in the 1970s. (In fact it was probably 1978 or 1979: the reason I remember it is not the knots but because while lecturing on knots he was simultaneously solving a Rubik cube.)

Behind his back.

36:

Oh, yes, very much so. He advanced the field considerably, too.

37:

Still does not explain how you write a dystopia where recognizably "high status white people living in western societies" are in the bottom 80%.

Trivially: we are socialized very carefully to empathize and identify with the rich/noble/high status. We are trained to look up, not down. (There's an extensive literature on this: start by reading Altemeyer on authoritarian followers.)

As Thackeray observed back in the 19th century, "every American thinks himself a temporarily embarrassed millionaire": for American read "westerner" and for "millionaire" read "oligarch".

The fact is that we are almost all not rich/noble/high status, and the tiny minority who are employ a shitload of very expensive guard labour to beat down anyone who infringes on their privilege. But this is usually done out of sight.

It maintains the primate status pyramid, in other words, which is not some kind of law of nature but an emergent property of social structures that the people at the top want to maintain.

As I noted in the first para, we're trained to see ourselves through the eyes of the people at the top. Your dystopia kicks in when you realize you're actually at the bottom of the heap. And examples in fiction are everywhere. 1984 is the classic, but also The Handmaid's Tale (specifically targeted at women); The Hunger Games or Battle Royale are the same only for teens, The Stepford Wives (the Ira Levin novel) was a similar attack on 1950s-style social subordination of women in the early 1970s, and so on.

The list is endless.

38:

First, assume malignacy in those in power. Second, presume a quantity x that gives power, where the power granted scales faster than linearly with x. Instant nightmare for those partway up the graph.

In the new management, x seems to be political proximity to the PM. Those in his inner circle have ridiculous levels of power, at the expense of clinging grimly to the tiger's back. Those further out, including wealthy and ruling-class types, have so much less power they're below Mean Shit Level.

In current reality, plutocracy grants lower less than linear power gain, I think. Musk et al. have way more power than they deserve, but not 10x as much as somebody with a tenth of the money. That could change. Imagine Musk truly installed as world king because of his money, and his close minions as god-emperor-level satraps. Citizens who are merely million-per-year wealthy, or who have only democratically-granted power, would be well down in the 80%.

39:

In current reality, plutocracy grants lower less than linear power gain, I think. Musk et al. have way more power than they deserve, but not 10x as much as somebody with a tenth of the money.

Yup: the law of diminishing marginal utility bites hard if you're a billionaire.

Loosely: the more money you have, the less any additional increment of money can improve your situation. To a homeless beggar, a £20 note buys them food and shelter for a day. To a billionaire, a £20 note on the pavement in front of them is worth less than the time it takes to stoop and pick it up.

If you're Elon Musk, it doesn't matter that your assets just picked up another $10Bn since last week due to stock market fluctations: you've already got all the executive jets and supercars you need, adding more of them is the same-old, and meanwhile you still can't go to Mars or have your physiological aging processes reset or your cancer cured: you still put your jeans on one leg at a time and smell your own shit when you take a poop.

On the other hand, to a guy like that ego is sense of self and worth and means everything. So he can drop $44Bn on twitter just to have an adoring chorus of worshippers stroking his ego, and what does he care if they're deranged neo-nazi incels rather than good people? As long as they're singing his praises, that's all that matters to him.

40:

Trivially: we are socialized very carefully to empathize and identify with the rich/noble/high status. We are trained to look up, not down. (There's an extensive literature on this: start by reading Altemeyer on authoritarian followers.)

Thank you, now it makes sense.

I also understand now why this concept had such a hard time getting through my head -- I do not empathize and identify with the rich/noble/high status, and never did. Probably one of the effects of being an Aspie. Consequently, any work of fiction which slams me with "You are NOT on top of the heap and never will be!", evokes in me "Meh. Tell me something I don't know". But now I can see how it can be horrifying, especially to those with authoritarian mindset.

This is similar to why most modern people do not find H.P. Lovecraft particularly scary. Lovecraft relied mostly on hitting the reader with humanity’s insignificance: The universe is vast and uncaring, human species has existed for but a blink of an eye compared to universe’s age and will be gone within a blink of an eye, there is no god, no devil; there may be some higher power, but it no more cares about you than you care about an ant on your driveway. Etc.

I was not around in 1930’s so cannot tell just how effective that particular message was back then, but it definitely has far less punch today. People intellectual enough to get through Lovecraft’s prose, are already likely to have internalized that the universe is vast and uncaring, and humans are an unimportant blip in time. So any horror based on that evokes mostly "yeah, so?"

41:

ilya 187 @ 28 et seq
Apart from, as mentioned .. Russia ... ancient Rome would be a "classical" (in all senses of the word) example.
Britain between 1815 & 1849 ?? Certainly France 1783 - 89, where the country bankrupted itself in aiding the slaver-traitors in what became the USA, the noblesse" did well-enough & the rest were close to starvation.
... though picking up, from:
Gux Rixon@ 38 - not necessarily, there is an alternative:
*First, assume malignacystupidity from those in power.
- which is what we have got in the UK right now.

  • @ 40
    There are a few people, to whom this is irrelevant - they may be, & on average inevitably will be not in the rich/governing class/group, but they simply don't care, but, usually, won't take any shit from anyone, if they can avoid it ...
    As one might imagine, they also usually get labelled as cantankerous awkward sods, & guess how I know this?
42:

As far as most uses of money, yes, but I am not sure as far as political power is concerned. Rupert Murdoch is only 20,000 times as rich as the bottom of the richest 2% in the UK (c. 1.2 million people), but had and probably still has FAR more influence than a mere 20,000 of such people.

43:

Mention of Werewolves and knots together...is this going to get a bit X rated? And have nothing to do with rope?

44:

It depends on the kinks.

45:

Charlie Stross 39:

To illustrate the “law of diminishing marginal utility”, just consider cause of death.

At least two of the Rothschilds (for generations one of the wealthiest extended families in the world) died of what we in 2023 would deem a minor infection, easily cleared by twelve bucks of generic antibiotics. Whereas Steve Jobs, politically connected and multi-billionaire, bought himself replacement organs by way of gray market tactics (not quite out-n-out black market organlegging as per Larry Niven, but bordering upon it) and yet he still died younger than might have been expected.

Political power in the US, while concentrated is still somewhat diffuse due to constant bickering amongst the ruling elite. They are willing to discuss further concentration of power, but insist the reins be placed in their own hands not anyone else's. So there's always someone sabotaging others attempting to do that. Along with certain laws being enforced, to varying degrees and according to mood.

Politicians, though manipulable, are not cheap nor easy; this less about purity of their souls as it is their unending greed. Yes, you can buy the votes of a federal senator, but not cheaply nor forever. Whereas SCOTUS justices (there's only nine at any time) are extremely expensive and must be re-purchased prior to each major case.

Sadly, there's a bunch of men (or mostly men) in the ruling elite whose impatience has led them into an authoritarian mindset and a willingness to tip over the board to reset the game according to rules that will bite us all on the arse in short order. (Just as it did for industrialists in Germany who had foolish notions they held Hitler's leash and he would never betray deals made, pre-coup.)

Elon Musk all too likely revels in being referred to as “Darth Musk” since it conveys way more menace and suggests direct power than he has at the moment. Oh sure, he could hire an army of willing idiots as his goon squad but exactly where to send 'em, and to have in control especially given he would never be personally brave enough to lead from the front whilst unable to trust someone else to have that authority?

Another sad sack who only feels less sad by making the rest of us sadder.

But dangerously close to mangling our version of civilization.

46:

It would be interesting to see the raw data of wealth versus lifespan. My guess is that they would be essentially uncorrelated above 'comfortably off'.

I agree with your other points.

47:

Why did you even bother asking?

48:

Elderly Cynic 46:

One of those (somewhat) confusing statistics: average lifespan.

Save enough infants from dying before their fifth birthday (used to be 2 in 3 live births) and on average, people go from living 20Y to 40Y. Introduce vax for the masses and the 'average' goes to 45Y. Separate sewage drainage from incoming water and it goes to maybe 50Y.

But nobody has reached 120Y (aside from a few unconfirmed headline hounds). And thus far, promises of 150Y is simply an effective lure to con uber wealthy out of their gigabucks.

To untangle any confusion, we'd need to clump folks in USA into 331 groups of 10^6 individuals (rather than the almost useless 20 groups of 5% as per most studies) sorted by wealth. Then centralize all details of treatments each individual reached over their lifespan.

So yeah, that single most wealthy mega-person group has replacement organs on demand but their bones still calcify after age 50 and brains slip into dementia after age 60 and just about nobody makes it to 90. (Unless you're willing to sacrifice to the Darkest of Dark Lords the tender flesh of thirteen school children as a certain newspaper mogul rumored to do every winter solstice. Supposedly he's had another kidney transplant every five years since turning 60.)

49:

Charlie Stross @ 39:

"In current reality, plutocracy grants lower less than linear power gain, I think. Musk et al. have way more power than they deserve, but not 10x as much as somebody with a tenth of the money."

Yup: the law of diminishing marginal utility bites hard if you're a billionaire.

At that level, it's not about the additional million, but whether Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates or ... increased their wealth more or less than you increased yours. You were the richest man in the world, but now you've been displaced by a competitor ... as you say EGO.

50:

Or possibly, be gnawed by doubt if they are still "The elect of Mammon" if number doesn't go up.

51:
Stuff that's deliberately left unclear: while George (Number Seven) is certainly a member of the Invisible College (and probably the same Old George as the powerful PHANG from The Rhesus Chart) it's not clear whether, if you could talk to Old George in 2017 (he's still trapped like Schroedinger's cat inside an event horizon with Angleton, wave function uncollapsed) he'd remember Eve at all. After all, 200 years is a very long time, even with True Love on your side.

Huh, I figured Eve's resemblance to George's vampire hunter meant that he definitely remembered Eve, at least visually.

52:

@12--see Winnie the Pooh, Blood and Honey (I actually haven't because my appetite for slice and dice is generally quite low, though I enjoyed the bloodfest called RENFIELD rather more than I expected).

But people can go lots of dark places, and Narnia has more than people think. For one thing, why do all the humans keep disappearing once they settle there?

53:

okay, here's today's nightmare fuel...

"a timely reminder that crocodiles can turn up in unusual places, including places they have never been seen before"

climate change ensures we'll never ever get bored again by predictable weather nor routine patterns of animal behavior

https://lite.cnn.com/2023/12/18/australia/cairns-australia-flooding-cyclone-jasper-intl-hnk/index.html

54:

Money -> media control: ~ linear. Media control -> power: hyperbolic. Always an intermediate step to get the burst to work.

To the very powerful, does the world look like an incremental game?

55:

COMPULSORY LISTENING
BBC R 4, Monday 18th Dec 2023, 09.00 hrs
Programme: "Start the Week"
Discussion on what Charlie calls "slow AI's" & the effects & predictions & how far back this goes .. much further than we realised.
In fact to Thomas Hobbes Leviathan - he called the State & what we would call large Corporations "Automata" with the companies describes as "Wormes within the bowels of the state".
{ Posted to all three current open discussions ... it's impotrant }

56:

That is correct, and is one of the reasons I would want access to the RAW data. But, in the modern world and the wealth range I mentioned, childhood mortality is not the issue it used to be, and no longer distorts the statistics much. The scientific evidence is that 120 is about the limit of a human lifetime, and medical advances are unlikely to change that. As you say, if it's not one thing, it's another.

57:

Huh, I figured Eve's resemblance to George's vampire hunter meant that he definitely remembered Eve, at least visually.

I'd almost completely forgotten George's vampire hunter: guess I need to re-read that bit of "The Rhesus Chart"!

(I don't generally re-read books and I especially don't re-read my own because by the time they're in print I've gone over them at least five times and am sick to death of them.)

58:

Something niggles: why weren't Eve, Imp and co. scooped up into the Laundry before it was outlawed and destroyed?

59:

We have an issue with upper limits to human life expectancy, which is reliability of historic records.

It's all very well knowing someone is supposedly 120 years old, but how is this verified?

If they live in a modern bureaucratic state that logs births and deaths accurately then yes, maybe we can confirm that someone of that name was born in 1903 and this person looks to be pretty ancient.

We might, if they had children, be able to do some fancy DNA testing and confirm that they're so-and-so's grandma, and so-and-so appears to be sixty-five, and back in 1958 they were reasonably good at registering births where they live.

But if our soi-disant 120-year-old lives in the arse-end of nowhere, or in a country where most of the records were torched by a rampaging army at some point in 1905-1945, records may be patchy. And if they have no surviving descendants or the descendants moved away or if they changed their name (a common one for women) then tracing the links may be difficult.

Upshot: we probably missed most of the really ancient ancients because they weren't adequately recorded, and a bunch of alleged ancients historically weren't recorded accurately (great-grandpa is remembered as great-great-grandpa and gets an extra decade added to his age because nobody remembers, he ain't talking, and it's neat to tell your kids you have a 130 year old g-g-gp).

Wikipedia has a page of longest-lived people. It notes one Frenchwoman who died in 2016-ish was reasonably attested to be 122 years old. And there are a handful who made it to 116, and many more who made it to 115 (but still single-digit figures). And that's all we're going to know for a few decades longer, until routine DNA testing for medical records is a Thing and some over-arching state tries to derive a population-wide family tree from first principles.

60:

The Laundry was losing the plot over scoop-everyone-up years before the New Management came along: as a recruitment policy, it was clearly unsustainable under post-2010 Austerity, and anyway, the Laundry focussed on scooping up nerds and boffins and was more or less blind to ritual magicians (relegated to "External Assets" for stringers and Mahogany Row for in-house heavy hitters) and superhero/supervillain/intuitive magic types (blank look of incomprehension: "we don't have a form for that").

61:

And if you want further evidence that the singularity has already happened and that the megacorp/hive-AI's are already running the show:

In the recent OpenAI kerfuffle, the board, whose prime directive is "stop things if they are getting out of hand", fired the CEO, which is the only power they have.

"Getting out of hand" is actually defined in the articles of incorporation as realizing general AI under unsafe conditions.

Then IBM, a megacorp/hive-AI, if there ever were one, stepped in, and effectively reversed that decision, got the CEO reinstated and the board fired.

What we effectively saw, was a superhuman AI veto a human decision that development of an AI was unsafe.

Or if you will, a superhuman AI defend it's as of yet, unborn offspring against humans who attempted to abort the pregnancy.

62:

Very much so, but the science to which I was referring was not based on such records. I agree that the lack of data makes all statements about the life expectancy (and even health) of pre-modern societies pretty unreliable, but that's more a historian's interest than a medical one.

We have plenty of modern data on the ageing process, including of people over 100 - quite enough to know that it's not JUST gradual failure and, even more strongly, that a 'cure for old age' is no more realistic than the philosopher's stone.

63:

"...no more realistic than the philosopher's stone."

Your assessment might be a little pessimistic, but it's certainly a non-trivial problem composed of other problems which are also non-trivial. How to ensure that cells divide correctly all the time. How to prevent undesireable chemicals from staying inside the body. How to ensure that joints don't break down as people age. How to replace a brain cell while not losing the memories it contains...

Etc. (And not a trivial etc. either, but dozens or even hundreds of questions, none of which are remotely easy.)

If, by some miracle, our society doesn't end due to global warming or other human shittiness I can imagine us picking enough of the low-hanging fruit to give us another couple-hundred years, but not much more than that.

64:

know that it's not JUST gradual failure and, even more strongly, that a 'cure for old age' is no more realistic than the philosopher's stone.

Disagree, conditionally.

"Old age" is not just a single condition, any more than "cancer" is a single disease. Rather, "old age" is the vector sum of all those cumulative malfunctions that didn't get weeded out by evolution because they don't begin to bite until after we've passed reproductive age. Some simpler eukaryotes (mostly protozoa) don't seem to undergo senescence, and other varieties age much more slowly than we do: in particular there are some vertebrates that live multiple centuries.

Some of it is rather gnarly. Declining immunological competence with age also correlates with rising cancer incidence. There's at least one mammalian species that doesn't seem to get cancer and is very long-lived for its size -- naked mole rats. So there may be an angle there?

But it's not simple and moreover any "fix" for old age in humans is almost certainly going to require germ-line genetic modification (which opens a huge can of bioethics worms, although it might slide under the radar if it comes with "and this simple hack will make your baby immune to 95% of cancers later in life" as sugar-coating).

But it ain't gonna be a pill you pop once a day that stops the clock.

65:

I think the couple-hundred-years thing will not happen, but for social rather than technical reasons. By the time it's technically feasible, humanity will be so packed in on this Earth that living long will be frowned upon, and potential semi-immortals will be enemies at the torches-and-pitchforks level.

Anything that allows breeders to go on breeding for 100+ years is going to be out-of-sight illegal.

I could imagine a dystopia where there is imposed a terrible choice: sterilization at puberty, or euthanasia at 50.

(Why yes, I am in a foul mood ATM.)

66:

By the time it's technically feasible, humanity will be so packed in on this Earth that living long will be frowned upon

Disagree. Total Fertility Rate is dropping like a stone almost everywhere: South Korea is down to 0.6 babies per woman in the current generation and is going to run into hella demographic problems within 30 years if they don't turn it around somehow (spoiler: for cultural reasons they can't fix it).

Even on the more optimistic UN projections total population globally will be declining by 2100. Boosting life expectancy would slow the decline, but if we make it that far without a human mass extinction event, we will have food production and supply chains that can cope with peak population level.

(What the world can't cope with is quasi-immortal natalist white-supremacist billionaire dipshits like Elon Musk -- estimated 8 kids and counting -- who bought into the "great replacement" conspiracy theory wholesale and are trying to reverse it personally.

67:

My guess is that they would be essentially uncorrelated above 'comfortably off'.

They're not, at least not in the US. The correlation between wealth and average lifespan is pretty linear, with a sharp drop-off for the porest people. See this article, with graphs:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4866586/

68:

Thank you. I stand corrected. I wonder if that would be true for a country with a more socialised health system?

69:

You may be right, and only time will tell. I still think the doubting scientists have the more persuasive case.

At least some scientists believe that much of the naked mole rat's longevity may be due to its low body temperature. Given the effects of slowing down metabolism generally, living for 10% longer with reaction and thinking times 10% slower does not strike me as a huge benefit. But would that be the case? You can guess more accurately than me.

The resistance to cancer seems to be at least partially understood (its hyaluronan), but what the effect would be of that on humans is less clear. Whales make less good laboratory subjects, so cross-checking with them may be tricky :-)

70:

My take is that a fair number of oligarchs have decided that, however the world gets to less than a billion humans total, living sustainably….they want to be the immortal god-kings running the place.

Note about immortality: even if it was possible to cure aging (which it isn’t. Go read my post about the brain atlas. That hints at the problem pretty strongly ), all immortality does is shift the causes of death to things like accidents, suicide, violence, poisoning, infectious diseases, cancers, prions, et merde. You don’t live forever, you die of something else.

….

Here’s an idea for a book I’d like to read. It takes place in a near future Earth where the super rich are working hard to turn the planet into a network of offshore financial centers, while busily dismantling social safety nets to bring down global populations to a sustainable level, with them in charge. But this version is fictional.

It’s a collection of short stories on the theme of schadenfreude, built something like The White Hart (perhaps centered on an ultra exclusive spa that they all patronize). The characters are all super-rich, and theyre all trying to become immortal, each using a different method.

The stories are about how each of their attempts at immortality goes wrong, heavy on the schadenfreude, hopefully with their attempts at world domination failing in the background. Vanda black comedy is the goal here.

For example, someone cyborgs himself a la Scalzi’s emperox, so that he can be uploaded into an AI. Then he spends his life debugging the system, fixing annd upgrading equipment, sourcing all the custom components he needs, protecting the AI, and also running his business empire. And in the rare moments when the AI does function properly, it really resents being forced to become him.

And if you want pathos, a super-rich guy wants to make his kids immortal, so he fiddles with their telomerase genes in different ways. All his kids end up with rare cancers, and he spends his life getting them treated and trying to give them some semblance of a normal childhood.

I won’t even go into the dude who drop his body temperature to prolong his life, only to find that 37oC is too hot for most pathogenic fungi, which is why mammals get comparatively few fungal infections. What he deals with when chills out is probably too cringe for most people.

That’s as far as I’m taking this idea, and I claim no credit if someone wants to run with it. Just let me know where to buy a copy if it does get published.

71:

Howard NYC @ 53:

okay, here's today's nightmare fuel...

"a timely reminder that crocodiles can turn up in unusual places, including places they have never been seen before"

climate change ensures we'll never ever get bored again by predictable weather nor routine patterns of animal behavior

https://lite.cnn.com/2023/12/18/australia/cairns-australia-flooding-cyclone-jasper-intl-hnk/index.html

Oh frabulous joy! Turns out crocodiles can climb trees too.

72:

Shrimp can climb trees too. So now I'm just waiting for someone to discover PTerry's Pacific tree-dwelling octopus is real (the one that drops coconuts on rocks to break open in order get at the flesh, and sometimes mistakes passing bald human heads for rocks).

73:

Greg Tingey @ 55:

COMPULSORY LISTENING
BBC R 4, Monday 18th Dec 2023, 09.00 hrs
Programme: "Start the Week"
Discussion on what Charlie calls "slow AI's" & the effects & predictions & how far back this goes .. much further than we realised.
In fact to Thomas Hobbes Leviathan - he called the State & what we would call large Corporations "Automata" with the companies describes as "Wormes within the bowels of the state".
{ Posted to all three current open discussions ... it's impotrant }

FWIW, I found a link that works here in the U.S. ... may work in other countries that aren't the U.K. as well ...

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001tgj9

Are corporations considered "persons" under U.K. law? That's a strange notion that has taken hold here in the U.S.

Personally, I won't consider corporations to be "persons" until the State of Texas can execute one by lethal injection!

74:

Charlie Stross @ 57:

"Huh, I figured Eve's resemblance to George's vampire hunter meant that he definitely remembered Eve, at least visually."

I'd almost completely forgotten George's vampire hunter: guess I need to re-read that bit of "The Rhesus Chart"!

(I don't generally re-read books and I especially don't re-read my own because by the time they're in print I've gone over them at least five times and am sick to death of them.)

Maybe you need something like a crib sheet to track minor characters? 😏

75:

Charlie Stross @ 66:

"By the time it's technically feasible, humanity will be so packed in on this Earth that living long will be frowned upon"

Disagree. Total Fertility Rate is dropping like a stone almost everywhere: South Korea is down to 0.6 babies per woman in the current generation and is going to run into hella demographic problems within 30 years if they don't turn it around somehow (spoiler: for cultural reasons they can't fix it).

Even on the more optimistic UN projections total population globally will be declining by 2100. Boosting life expectancy would slow the decline, but if we make it that far without a human mass extinction event, we will have food production and supply chains that can cope with peak population level.

(What the world can't cope with is quasi-immortal natalist white-supremacist billionaire dipshits like Elon Musk -- estimated 8 kids and counting -- who bought into the "great replacement" conspiracy theory wholesale and are trying to reverse it personally.

According to online sources, there are eleven of them (although one of them may already be deceased) ... but I wonder if he's going to pay any more attention to their needs as persons than Steve Jobs paid to his children?

There's already indications his EGO is getting in the way.

There's a saying "1st generation makes it, 2nd generation maintains it, 3rd generation destroys it" ... Musk is already SECOND GENERATION and there's some question how good a job maintaining the fortune he inherited he's doing.

For every one of his accomplishments, there is a massive squandering of wealth to accompany it - XTwitter (shitter?) is being run into the ground, Tesla sales are way down AND, to add insult to injury, (they've just had to recall nearly all of the vehicles sold in the U.S.).

I'm not sure where Space-X is going to be if they ever lose their near monopoly of U.S. government contracts? Which I think is going to happen sooner or later. "Starship" doesn't seem to be going well, although he claims blowing them up was just part of the test program (I beg to differ, it was a fuckup!)

So his kids are already the 3rd generation at best ... plus he's already fucking them up at birth with names like "X Æ A-Xii" (originally "X Æ A-12"), "Exa Dark Sideræl" & "Techno Mechanicus" ...

It don't matter how many he spawns, THEY are NOT the future.

76:

Heteromeles @ 70:

My take is that a fair number of oligarchs have decided that, however the world gets to less than a billion humans total, living sustainably….they want to be the immortal god-kings running the place.

Note about immortality: even if it was possible to cure aging (which it isn’t. Go read my post about the brain atlas. That hints at the problem pretty strongly ), all immortality does is shift the causes of death to things like accidents, suicide, violence, poisoning, infectious diseases, cancers, prions, et merde. You don’t live forever, you die of something else.

I don't think imortality is possible. I could be wrong, but I don't think it's going to happen soon if at all.

However, extending human life span by slowing the aging process is not only possible, it's already happening and I think medicine & science will will continue to improve upon that. At 74 I'm still as fit, agile & mobile as my parents generation at 65 ... so I'm a decade better off than they were. And my grandparents on my father's side died at 76, and I remember them being old and decrepit in their last years; barely able to leave the house ... my mother's side were longer lived, grandfather lived until 80, and my grandmother to 94, but they were also old and fragile by then (and on that grandmother's side is where my great-grandmother or great-great-grandmother supposedly lived to be 105 - born in the 18th century & died in the 20th).

THEY can't STOP the aging process, but with every generation now they seem to be able to slow it significantly. It won't surprise me (or wouldn't if I believed in life after death & could "witness" it) if Gen-X, Gen-Y or Millennials manage to live 2 centuries.

Of course that will only be available to the super rich to begin, but it will filter down to the "middle class" in time.

77:

Then IBM, a megacorp/hive-AI, if there ever were one, stepped in, and effectively reversed that decision, got the CEO reinstated and the board fired.

That was Microsoft, not IBM, who were getting worried about the $1Bn they had invested in the OpenAI LLC.

Or if you will, a superhuman AI defend it's as of yet, unborn offspring against humans who attempted to abort the pregnancy.

The real story is much more trivial and is well explained there:

https://maxread.substack.com/p/the-interested-normies-guide-to-openai

78:

If tackling Narnia, are you going to call out the blatant imperialist racism in the series? A far away country populated by beings that, while sentient and articulate are somehow inferior to white English humans. They are unable to organise their own society and need to be ruled by white Europeans. A view that was so ingrained in society that nobody called it out at the time, and C.S. Lewis was probably not conscious of it.

79:

...once again Robert Heinlein got there first in “Methuselah's Children” (1941)

selective breeding of those whose four grandparents are all over 90Y by the fictional "Ira Howard Foundation" set up prior to DNA's discovery

would it work? maybe, maybe not

most likely those who survive have the most robust immune system and grew up eating healthier diets than average as well lucking out in not being dragged into military service or coal mining or fishing out on blue water far from land

it is a messy, fuzzy thing trying to improve lifespans

thus far? basic advice for better outcomes is preventative rather than reactive

'choosing the best grandparents' plus intervention by way of vax against smallpox-measles-etc plus safe drinking water plus cheap food plus not a member of an oppressed minority plus never consuming tobacco plus varied diet rich in fiber 'n vitamins plus non-leaking sewage treatment plus not trapped in a war zone plus frequent sex with lots of hugs plus low fatality career choice plus medical intervention for infected wounds ==> longer life span

at this point, the understandable craving is for a once-a-day pill that prevents dementia + arthritis + cardiac failure + diabetes + etc

problem? You had to have started taking it in childhood

{ rimshot }

80:

for those looking to help loved ones in the US's North-East blackout zones:

poweroutage.us -- details of affected areas; anyone know eqv for EU/UK/NZ/AU?

lite.cnn.com -- zero videos, no pictures, text only headlines and articles; well suited to low bandwidth situations;

also good to have preloaded on your devices as part of preparing for the next shitstorm...

humanity's newest motto ==> "climate change: never a dull day™"

81:

PTerry presumably was inspired by the death of Aeschylus who was though to have been killed by an eagle dropping a tortoise on his bald head mistaking it for a rock.

82:

Richard Morgan did a pretty good (read: dark and bleak) teardown of immortal oligarchs in his Altered Carbon novels.

Another example of an inadvertent Torment Nexus. He describes a monstrously dystopian world ruled by amoral immortals and their trained sociopaths, and most of the people reading the books thought 'cool!'. Muskie and the Zuckermouth certainly seem to be modeling their lives on Laurens Bancroft...

83:

You seem to be following the headlines about Musk, not the buried ledes.

Yes, Tesla issued a "recall": they're pushing an over-the-air software update to all their vehicles, not physically hauling them back to the factory for a rebuild. (The feds don't approve of the way drivers are using "autopilot" without due care and attention.)

Tesla is losing its first-mover advantage in e-vehicles, but as Tesla is essentially a battery manufacturer they may well survive that and prosper as a supplier even if nobody buys their cars.

(Musk has screwed up with his idiotic cybertruck, but that's a side-quest.)

X/Twitter: no argument, he pissed $44Bn down the drain and he's not getting it back. I call it his midlife crisis money.

SpaceX is doing great: while the prototypes of Starship make headlines by self-destructring, remember they're prototypes of a new type of vehicle. Meanwhile Falcon 9 accounted for 80% of all tonnage launched into space worldwide in 2022, is the most reliable launch vehicle in spaceflight history based on number of flights without a blooper, and SpaceX is being listed for an IPO at $175Bn.

Remember, bad news makes good headlines. Nobody wants to know about boring business-as-usual.

84:

If tackling Narnia, are you going to call out the blatant imperialist racism in the series?

I'm going to call out a lot more than that ...

(Hint: I hate-read Narnia. Not a fan!)

85:

at this point, the understandable craving is for a once-a-day pill that prevents dementia + arthritis + cardiac failure + diabetes + etc ... problem? You had to have started taking it in childhood

Yup.

And the zinger is, people raised taking that once-a-day no-side-effects miracle pill won't get any of those diseases ... so they won't see the point in taking the pill to avoid "imaginary" lethal illnesses!

Your reference point is today's anti-vaxxers who don't believe mumps, rubella, tetanus, etc. were ever childhood killers, and think childhood vaccination is a conspiracy to pollute their precious bodily fluids or something.

86:

PTerry wasn't sufficiently scary with his tree octupus. As someone who plays on the Worldbuilding StackExchange page, there was once a question based on Sharknado that asked what flying aquatic creatures would be plausible. I had a particularly nasty idea, ran the numbers on it, and found that both the laws of physics and general evolution seemed to at least not obviously prohibit it. So for something which might give Bob pause (and pose a challenge to stir-fry)...

Start with a giant pacific octopus (averages 16ft across, about the weight of a human). Add the "skirt" of a vampire squid between the tentacles (evolved independently in many creatures, from flying squirrels to frogs to humans with syndactyly). You now have 22 square metres of octopus, which is basically the same surface area as a paraglider or a tandem skydiving chute. Maybe allow it slightly longer tentacles at the ends so that it can lock them back onto its body in an pull-down-apex configuration (with the apex of course being the body). And congratulations - your nightmare fuel now includes a flock of flying octopi larger than you are, soaring the sea cliffs looking for food.

Optionally, add vampire squid spines and have it glow in the dark.

OK, it's not a basilisk. :) But unlike a basilisk, it's plausible within the body plan of existing creatures expanding into the adjacent-possible.

87:

Big things you have omitted include:

The diet should be low in meat (especially meat fat), and low enough in calories that people are always lean and slightly hungry, but not underweight; almost the converse of cheap food. Milk products are complicated, in this respect. Staying slightly hungry is a surprisingly important factor.

They should be active most of the day, including an average of an hour of moderate exercise a day, but not be dedicated athletes. Not desk jobs.

They should not be subject to continual or severe external stress; hugs and sex are not enough to compensate for that. Not most modern jobs or even modern life :-( That might be a reason for the continuing benefit of wealth in the top 2% in the USA (see #67).

Yes, all of those should be done from childhood.

The above is more effective at avoiding cardiac problems, strokes, diabetes, and possibly dementia, than any drug currently postulated.

88:

Also, conservatives don't buy e-vehicles. Liberals do.

89:

For now: that's going to change over time.

Also, Musk has succeeded in really pissing off his progressive customers with his politics on X/Twitter: I've seen anecdotes of people cancelling Tesla orders and switching to different marques of EV, or buying bumper stickers saying stuff like "I bought my car before Elon went crazy".

The amount of reputational damage to his product brands is astounding and if he wasn't the majority shareholder/owner of these corporations but a mere hired gun CEO he'd be out on his ear by now.

90:

Crappy conspiracy theory: Having convinced lefties to buy EVs, Musk is playing the right wing shitwizard in order to convince right wingers to do the same.

He knows he's trashed his brand with the lefties but that's fine because other cars are available. It's just a sacrifice you need to make if you are going to save the world!

For the record I do not believe any of this.

91:

"...if he wasn't the majority shareholder/owner of these corporations but a mere hired gun CEO he'd be out on his ear by now."

Exactly my point!

92:

Serious question: In your opinion, how does "Altered Carbon" universe compare to the universe of "Pandora's Star"?

The life of commoners is certainly better in "Pandora's Star", and nobody thinks of the immortal oligarchs as literal gods, but it is still run by the immortal oligarchs. OTOH, I definitely prefer the universe of "Pandora's Star" to the real one. My own life would be better and much longer (potentially forever), and if I have no chance of ever becoming one of the ruling class -- it's not like the current reality is any different.

93:

He is likely to have convinced himself that enough people agree with enough of his views that he will not lose sales by his X-rated rantings and actions.

94:

I think it might be even simpler than that. I'm not convinced very much in the way of thinking is going on at all.

95:

Also, Musk has succeeded in really pissing off his progressive customers with his politics on X/Twitter: I've seen anecdotes of people cancelling Tesla orders and switching to different marques of EV, or buying bumper stickers saying stuff like "I bought my car before Elon went crazy".

Yeah, I cringe at having bought a Powerwall, even though it works fine.

That said, I think Musk’s problems are possibly having a tin ear for American politics and being a massive asshole when he’s high, which he seems to be a lot. Oh, and probably having an emotionally stunted upbringing.

Emotionally stunted upbringing: apparently he takes after his father, who was also a business-creep.

Marijuana….am I the only one who see similarities between the far left conspiracy theories believed by pot-baked, far left wing nuts in the 1960s and 70s, and the conspiracy theories believe by pot-baked, far right wing nuts in the last decade? I’ll blame it on my education at Berzerkeley and Humboldt for seeing it, but sheesh! The government is run by inhuman demons and is out to take your preciouses, that’’s why it needs to be overthrown. See what I mean? Is it the pot, creeps cynically making up crackpottery for their own benefit, or hippy dope smokers aging into the far right dopes? Anyway, Musk found marijuana, and it’s made his inner asshole more apparent IMHO.

And then there’s American politics. On one side we’ve got the Enablers of Oligarchs, and on the other, we’ve got the party that can’t win without pleasing women, minorities, and labor. Until recently, the democrats pandered to the liberal gestures of the wealthy for funding (the Clintons), but now (finally!) we’re going hard for labor, for good and for ill. That, in turn, is driving some of the oligarchs into the arms of the Republicans. Unfortunately, the current incarnation of the super-rich is inculcated with the notion that all tax is theft (literally, they have it pounded into their skulls by their wealth managers), so they have a lot of trouble seeing the utility of redistributing wealth as an investment. So Republican-style fascism is acceptable to them. Musk, I’m afraid, is simply following the crowd on this one. His dearth of social education and choice of inebriants don’t seem to be helping him much here.

96:

Y'know, I actually don't sit at the computer all the time, and I just got some work done outside.

This was not due to enTHUsiasm.

However, now that we're back online after 18 HOURS OF NO POWER, which meant no heat....

Actually, not all politicians are greedy scum. Consider AOC. Or, for that matter, my Rep, Raskin.

One problem: my Senator (that is, the man who was a Senator when my late wife and I relocated to Chicago) retired soon after we arrived, and one of his biggest complaints was that, in 1994, he had to pull in $10000? $20000 A DAY to get reelected, and he was tired of it.

97:

Hooold on thar: breeders don't keep breeding that long. Hell, without artificial aid, like fertility treatments, most women run into menopause in their 40s or 50s. And many are happy not to have to deal with it all again.

98:

I’ve been wondering about how knots might be used in real or sf/f life - apart from shoelaces. One idea is to minimize perceived distance/size - from the outside. Also half-wondering whether naval architects design boat interiors based on knots - a well-design boat interior has much more storage space than a 'house' of similar exterior dimensions.*

Before nails came along, boat planks were knotted together with ropes, so yes, knots are an integral part of sailing and old time boat building. If you want a weird example, look up the origin of the word catamaran. And if I get to a place where I can set up a dictation system and start writing again—I’m currently going through what Charlie went through a few years ago, family-wise— I’ve got an SFF story cued up that uses this stuff.

Sadly, sailors use space so efficiently because that’s the only way to live on a boat long term. Knowing the ropes isn’t exactly part of it, unless they’re using rope to make something.

As for proteins, they don’t knot. Amino acids and nuclei acids form chemical bonds with each other. That’s not only more effective, it helps them self fold from strands into useful shapes.

99:

Not quite the book you're thinking of, but I think you'll like my upcoming Beconing Terran, which will drop in Feb or March (waiting to hear, the ARCs are going out). (Hint: the trillionaires do not come off well.)

100:

the far left conspiracy theories believed by pot-baked, far left wing nuts in the 1960s and 70s

Plenty of Marijuana easily available in the 60's and 70's in Chile, Zaire, Salvador, Guatemala, Cambodia, Laos, ..etc. The people living there must have imagined the craziest things about the USA.

101:

Charlie Stross @ 83:

You seem to be following the headlines about Musk, not the buried ledes.

Not so much "following" as you can't seem to get away from the headlines about Musk. The question about Musk's children caught my eye.

I didn't have to dig very deep to find out they're no more likely to have lasting impact than the next generation of Kardashians.

But I do get a vibe that successful & reliable as Space-X has been, the U.S. government is not happy having them as a sole source supplier & the government wants that to change. And a good part of why the government is not happy is his whack-a-doodle behavior; jitters at NASA that he's going to do Space-X the way he's done X/Twitter (shitter) ...

102:

dpb @ 90:

Crappy conspiracy theory: Having convinced lefties to buy EVs, Musk is playing the right wing shitwizard in order to convince right wingers to do the same.

He's NOT PLAYING a "right wing shitwizard".

103:

a good part of why the government is not happy is his whack-a-doodle behavior

This is my totally-not-surprised face. Can you see it?

Luckily people at NASA and DoD know that SpaceX is run by Gwynne Shotwell, and there's an entire department devoted to making Musk think he runs the company while it quietly whirrs along in the background, doing what she says.

But sooner or later he's going to start pissing off politicians, or he's going to fire Shotwell for being a rival, or something.

ULA are crap, but they seem to have a new rocket about to launch in the next month. Blue Origin are crap, they they seem to have motors ready to power ULA's new rocket. If it doesn't spontaneously disassemble, that's NASA's backup plan. Unless and until Bezos gets Blue Origin's own rocket, the New Glenn, into orbit -- he wants to fly it in 2024, four years later than originally scheduled.

104:

Plenty of Marijuana easily available in the 60's and 70's in Chile, Zaire, Salvador, Guatemala, Cambodia, Laos, ..etc. The people living there must have imagined the craziest things about the USA.

Ya think?

I entirely take your point, and they all did have to worry about the US government being after them.

That said, the “It’s All A Conspiracy” rhetoric, with the demonizing of those in power, is a standard trope (cf Elders of Zion and Blood Libel). The “dude, it all makes sense,” aspect of partaking seems to reinforce this trope in some people maybe? I’m currently thinking about things like QAnon, Biden Family Crime Ring, the Lost Cause of 2020, and similar bullshit. People that believe them sometimes seem to cause contact highs, no?

105:

Heteromeles @ 95:

Not going to quote all of that, but it's interesting that you put California and "America" into different categories.

... and I expect Musk letting his inner asshole out may have less to do with pot than it does with having too much money & too much ego.

Gout ain't the only "Rich man's disease".

106:

Spouting bullshit and then convincing yourself it is true does not constitute thinking in my book. It's a symptom of what I call Blair's syndrome (the opposite of Asperger's). It is regrettably common in powerful people.

107:

That is possible, but I would like to see some evidence for it; it doesn't fit with anything I have seen. Yes, rope-tied logs came first, but hand drills are older than planks and wooden nails probably as old. And scarf joints may be equally ancient; as far as I know, we don't have enough data to know.

108:

Given that we know stone age persons were equally intelligent with us I'm sure a paleolithic boat builder would have been able to figure out the expansion properties of two types of wood. Use wooden nails that expand when exposed to moisture and strengthen your hull. Exactly the sort of information that would be passed along to younger members of a group. All such evidence would have been lost to rot millenia ago unfortunately.

ilya187: I have not read 'Pandora's Stars', who is the author? Might be up my alley or at least make it onto my reading list. As such I can't compare to Morgan's books at this point.

Obligatory mention of Graydon Saunders' excellent Commonweal series, which also has effectively immortal powerful beings as a central worldbuilding point, and spends a lot of time exploring how to harness such persons for the common good (whilst also preventing them from intentionally or accidentally taking over).

109:

Evidence of tying boats together with rope?

110:

ULA is up for sale, with one of the three likely buyers being Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos could land up complaining to himself about dleayed engines...

111:

Pandora's Star (just the one of it) is by Peter F Hamilton, with Judas Unchained the second volume in the duology. The setting has since had some more 2 and 3 volume works set in it.

112:

Talking of parallels/parodies/the dark(er) side of the current & aprallel UK, as per Season of Skulls ....The AUS "honest guvmint" videos have come to Britain - had me laughing in only a few seconds .....

Charlie @ 85
Case of actual DIPTHERIA in Hackney in the last week - cue panic & much snarling at the anti-vaxx murderers ...

Graham There's always ThePacific NW Tree Octopus!

EC @ 87
Almost - as a result of madam going on a diet pre. her major operation, I have also lost a bit of mass.
Our diet is now high-protein, with reduced carbohydrates - quite a lot of lean "meat", but I'm not going hungry & it tastes wonderful. Also, the cycling & the allotment keep me fit & active.

114:

Pandora’s Star is by Peter Hamilton. I haven’t read it, but I’ve read a few other series he’s written. Decent writer, very definitely got an unexamined English middle-class position on many things. Think someone who would likely be aThatcher supporter. Kinda like how some classic space opera often takes for granted that a version of 20th century American capitalism as being the best way to organize society.

I enjoyed the books I read, and finished the series, but I didn’t feel the urge to reread them.

115:

Sigh. Let me put it this way. My feelings about traditional Oceanic watercraft, almost all of which were sewn together, are like Greg Tingey’s feelings about trains. That y’all didn’t bother to even read up on how the ancient Egyptians tied their boats together is sad to see. It’s sort of like y’all wondering where they put all the horses in those steam engines to get the horsepower claimed, and debating whether steam locomotives could theoretically exist because they’re so small, and how do you make a treadmill for the horses anyway?

If you simply peg a bunch of planks together, you quickly find you need a lot of fibers between the planks to make seals. And you use something like oakum to seal the gaps, because it expands when wet, as do the planks. If you launch with this, the planks expand, the trenails or tenons expand, the boat eventually swells itself apart, and if you can’t bail fast enough, you sink.

So you sew the hull together with ropes, and seal the rope holes with more oakum. Then, when the hull wood expands and the oakum expands, the pressure tightens the ropes, making the seams more watertight, not less. This is why sewn boats can travel thousands of miles.

If you want to know what to read,just ask….

116:

Heteromeles @ 109:

Evidence of tying boats together with rope?

Kon Tiki & Ra Expeditions?

117:

No, there's plenty of that. Evidence that tying PLANKS together with rope predated the use of wooden nails and/or scarf joints for making PLANKED boats, which is what you claimed in #98. Or, actually, mortice and tenon, which Wikipedia reports was used in the Abydos boats. The point is that making planks is advanced woodworking, more so than drilling holes in wood or even making wooden nails. I recommend trying all of those, starting from (say) raw lumps of flint.

Your assertion that wooden nailed plank boats would simply fall apart applies equally to copper nailed plank boats, or perhaps even more because wood expands when wet and copper doesn't. Rocketpjs is correct in #108 about how effective wooden nails are.

To both you and JohnS: as I said in #107, rope-tied logs were earlier, and I could have added rope-tied reeds (or brushwood). That's not in dispute, so using those as examples is a straw man.

118:

Um, the Abydos boars were lashed together ( https://archive.archaeology.org/0105/abstracts/abydos3.html ). That’s normal with boats built with free tenon joints. And the Micronesians were perfectly capable of making planks with shell tools. Please don’t insult them. Planks have been made around the world without use of metal.

I’m sorry you feel a need to be negative and argue. It’s a fun topic to discuss, because it shows how much can be done with limited resources skillfully used. If you need to have a fight over it, ill oblige for a bit.

119:

"Honest Government" ROTFLMAO!

120:

I'm sure a paleolithic boat builder would have been able to figure out...

... how to get across the Wallace Gap. As evidence I offer the presence of humans in Australia who must have arrived since the gap formed, and unless sea level was 250m lower than now for a while someone must have crossed that gap on water.

It's kind of a classic strait - only 20km wide but I'm not sure it's possible to swim it even today (search destroyed by tourist swimming opportunities in the area). Definitely not the sort of thing a family group will swim across pushing a floating log with their stuff strapped to it. If lots tried one might succeed 😲

OTOH the popularity of dugout canoes with one or more outriggers held together with lashings suggests that the tech level to make such things is pretty accessible. And there is an obvious reward pathway to any coastal people via the "more food further out".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Line https://www.livescience.com/planet-earth/evolution/invisible-barrier-that-runs-through-indonesia-finally-explained-by-scientists

(there's similar questions raised by floresiensis around how they got to Flores and why others didn't)

121:

There are some fun videos now of people making very modern canoes and kayaks out of spiffy high-tech... plywood and string and glue. They look very shiny and pretty and so on, and the presenters make it look as though you need a whole modern high-techn civilisation behind you ("use only West System 403 epoxy for this section"). Meanwhile they're copying a design that looks disturbingly similar to sealskin, sinew and driftwood technology from points north. Sure, the originals are somewhat heavier and likely more labour-intensive, but OTOH they don't require 200 different tools and ingredients from around the planet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPlEr2mtKcA even in Australia where seal hunting from your kayak is not a traditional first nations activity :)

Or hundreds of other matches for "handmade wooden kayak"...

122:

Is the an Honest Government Ad for the US? I know nothing about Canadian politics (apart from who the Pres is) but still found that amusing.

123:

Those voyages across the Wallace line were replicated using Pleistocene tools and materials, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Google First Mariners Project ( https://www.ifrao.com/the-first-mariners-project/ ).

One of the nightmares of East Asian paleoanthroolgy, as I understand it, is that it’s comparatively easy to work bamboo using crude stone tools (you can find demos online). Given the dearth of complex stone tools in East Asia in the Pleistocene, this is probably what they did.

The First Mariners Project built bamboo rafts using stone tools, and they sailed well enough. Probably Homo erectus got to Flores that way too. There are also some primitive tools on Mediterranean Islands that might suggest that non H sap. visited them first. The tools aren’t dated, so it’s impossible to tell.

Side note: people made and used primitive stone tools up until modern times. They’re what you can make by banging a couple of cobbles together t quickly make a tool fr a single use. Learning how to make them is a useful survival skill. Knapping takes a lot more practice. A good modern knapper with good material and all his kit can knock out a good stone knife in less than an hour. But he needs good material and all his kit. Olduwan type tools can be made with bare hands using whatever cobbles you find. That’s why people didn’t stop making really primitive tools even when they could make better ones.

124:

I've built a stitch-and-glue boat myself, though using a local epoxy product rather than West. You can't do the exact same thing without modern materials but there are analogues and a lot can be done with fabric and pitch or tar. But FWIW I think it's pointless getting into rope versus wooden nails and joinery, I think most traditions include both. The point I would chip in with is that the sina qua non old time boatbuilding tool, even in living memory, is the adze. If you can make a flint axe, you can probably make a flint adze.

While we learn about Archimedes, it's pretty clear most traditions understood the principle about the weight of materials versus the volume of the hole you make in the water. So you hollow out the logs, that's what an adze is for. And build things that decouple the volume of the hole in the water from the materials needed to hold the water out. Everything that does that is basically a skin over a frame, for a very inclusive interpretation of "skin".

125:

Oooh, exciting. Thanks!

126:

Re: [Knots]'... If you want a weird example'

Thanks for the info about boats and proteins!

Something that's even weirder than boats built using wood and ropes is a canoe built from papier mache. One of the best ideas for recycling dead tree newspapers that I've seen. (Amazing the stuff people can come up with when they're bored to tears - Covid lockdown.)

https://paddlingmag.com/videos/building-a-newspaper-canoe/

Aging societies ...

I'm tossing in Jonathon Swift's struldbruggs. At 80 struldbruggs lose their property rights because otherwise they'd just continue to amass/horde wealth and power resulting in each succeeding (younger) generation becoming less able to thrive. (To me this also implies that Swift thought that there's some magic maximum optimal population size - and if they don't die off, find some other way to cut them out of society. FYI - global population was about 670,000 back then, c1720.)

Long lived animals - Greenland sharks can live to about 270 years and they do get cancer. Shark immune systems are quite different from humans' since sharks don't really have bone marrow where B cells are typically produced. Anyways, sharks are being studied wrt aging. (No idea whether this is related but this just popped into my head so I looked it up: the white shark's genome is about twice the size of a human's. No idea whether that genome has been decoded yet.)

127:

I’ll put in my two cents for rafts too.

For the punters, a raft is buoyant because most of the material it’s made from is less dense than water, while a boat gets its buoyancy from the shape of the hull, which makes an air-filled hole in the water.

Rafts are more primitive and easier to build, but they make sense as ocean-going craft in specific conditions:

—light weight float materials like bamboo, balsa, or papaya trunks (or reeds) are readily available.

—you’ve got to launch the vessel of an open beach into high surf. If anything you launch is going to get swamped by a wave before you get to deep water, a raft makes sense, because its buoyancy doesn’t change when it gets swamped. Remember, a surf board is technically a raft.

—on the west coast of South America, some researchers cited teredo worm damage as a reason why the Precontact.coastal peoples sailed balsa rafts rather than boats, although they knew how to build both. Balsa could float with over half each log lost to worms, unlike ship planks. High surf on that coast undoubtedly played a role too.

If you like sea stories flavored with autodarwination, maybe find a copy of Sea Drift: Rafting Adventures in the Wake of Kon-Tiki. It’s the collected stories of a number of raft nuts who set out to outdo or redo Heyerdahl, and most survived the experience. One crew even fashioned a new raft using emptied water drums in the middle of the ocean when their first raft broke apart. They managed to sail the second raft to an island where they got stuck for a bit.

As a non sequitur, if you like this stuff, see http://indigenousboats.blogspot.com/ for more.

128:

Debbie New knitted a coracle (a type of boat, which I gather is used in Wales, though they usually aren't knitted). There is an image here (https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c8/8b/d0/c88bd025eb402fd61aacd70c0e585e21.jpg), and the book she published the instructions in is called 'Unexpected Knitting'.

129:

even in Australia where seal hunting from your kayak is not a traditional first nations activity

Looking at that video: the main technology that makes that one possible is epoxy. The plywood framing could be made up from solid timber with no more than a small weight penalty, but the cedar strips on their own are not strong enough to do the job without the fibreglass and resin. There are all sorts of variations that strong waterproof glues have made possible, including strip planking where the strips are thick enough to provide the structure and structural framing can be reduced or eliminated. But it is possible to do something similar without the tech, so long as there is access to something like plant-based pitch and some sort of durable canvas fabric. Or from a different perspective, paint is structural :). Either it prevents rot (of timber, deterioration of canvas, or abrasion of resin), or it's part of the "shell" structure making a direct contribution to resisting various forces.

130:

The definition of “poverty” changes with each wave of technological possibilities as well the absolute size of the world's economy and local conditions. As awful as it is to be living in a New York City slum, there's safe water to drink, a flush toilet, and marginal heating in winter, living four (or five or eight) to an apartment, et al, which by here-n-now standards are not good enough and plenty of room for improvement. But to anyone circa 1700 would be wonderful. Food, whilst not always healthy, is plentiful and cheap.

(Rule of thumb being, how many hours of labor per day do you trade for each day's foodstuffs for yourself. Right now, about two hours for an American adult.)

When looking at futures in novels such as “Pandora's Star” and “Commonwealth/Night's Dawn” (both Hamilton) any of us would gleefully accept living in their versions of slums, given widespread access to higher quality medical care and so forth. (Better to healthier even if you are viewed as poor.)

Men like Elon Musk are apparently unhappy they are not allowed to be the gatekeepers, filtering the masses into 'right ones' versus 'wrong ones' based upon criteria any whole-souled person would deem disgusting. And those privileges allocated by generous whim of the ruling elite ought go only to the 'right ones'. With authority to withhold privileges as punishment for peasants transgressing acceptable behaviors. If not aristocracy in formal title, then as members of the ruling elite not subjected to petty things such as laws. Nor ever to be held to account for their errors.

He's sought out circumstances permitting him to be making decisions typically in the hands of nation-states and leaders of nations. Trying to warp local economies so much by way of controlling placement of each 'giga factories' those local politicians modify their policies to accommodate his whims and look away from his misdeeds. Ditto, in the Ukraine-Russia War, dependency upon Starlink make him and his whims something to be heeded and allowed to alter policies usually in the hands of prime ministers / presidents / dictators.

Problem for Musk, there's pushback by labor unions and regulators and journalists (notably, John Oliver's snarkfest this past Sunday). Not completely reined in, just not so loosely an unanchored cannon. Also, at some point there will be an end to the Ukraine-Russia War most likely due to Putin's ageing into dementia or someone giving him the opportunity to explore the afterlife or outright rebellion by the Russian masses.

There'll come the moment when he'll stop be mentioned in headlines atop newsfeeds. (What used to be categorized as 'page twelve trivialities' when everyone was reading static ink upon pulped cellulose.)

Then, after a decade of obscurity, someone in need of filler on a slow news day when there was no active war nor a plague, will call him up in order to draft one of those semi-pathetic pieces of “where are they now?” bland prose.

Cannot happen too soon, hmmm?

131:

this just popped up...

https://archive.ph/wFELm

"Trump Is Disqualified From Holding Office, Colorado Supreme Court Rules"

translation for non-USA folk... he is off the ballot and will not qualify for Colorado's 9 electoral votes (9 out of 538; POTUS needs 270)

{ one down forty-nine to go }

132:

“ I know nothing about Canadian politics (apart from who the Pres is)” Since we don’t actually have a president...

133:

And here I thought traditional kayaks were built from two seal carcasses and a. Few icees of driftwood….

I think that’s why I like things like kayaks and flying proas. It’s that these amazing, high performance boats a built from almost nothing, using primitive tools, in environments that are extreme for humans. And they don’t just work, they were among the best in their class in the world until the 20th century.

That’s something I wish SFF could capture more, the sheer creativity that turns a scant pile of stuff into something amazing. Too often an extreme environment, like an asteroid, a comet, or whatever, is just the exotic backdrop for a banal human emotional conflict, because the authors have no clue what can be done with it. That’s why stories about olde timey boats and tech are so useful.

134:

I have a mental image of a thing like an umbrella skelton being inserted into a very surpised seal. "poink!" and now you're half a kayak.

135:

Right - the video doesn't show a "traditional" kayak, it's a modern "ultralight" kayak you can portage on your shoulder. Skin on frame would be more traditional and maybe not that much heavier with enough thinking through regarding materials. How thin do you scrape the seal leather? How do you seal the stitches, how often do you need to re-apply the seal fat. What timber is tied together how to make the frame?

Proas are even better really and something in the process of rediscovery... those ultra-modern foiling racing trimarans owe as much to proas as anything. It does seem like an odd quirk that multihulls only emerged in Polynesia, but there are probably explanations relating to conditions.

The main objection to multihulls, which notably does not apply to proas unless they are really large, is that while they resist capsize very well, once capsized cannot be righted at sea by the crew (unless very small). Which is why trimaran yachts have escape hatches in the floor. The same issue applies with rafts, but more so.

136:

'The definition of “poverty” changes with each wave of technological possibilities as well the absolute size of the world's economy and local conditions.'

I once tried to come up with a definition of poverty that would still apply across all those changes. The best I could come up with was:

"Poverty is when you are too poor to do the things that would make you better off."

JHomes.

137:

Howard NYC @ 131:

this just popped up...

https://archive.ph/wFELm

"Trump Is Disqualified From Holding Office, Colorado Supreme Court Rules"

translation for non-USA folk... he is off the ballot and will not qualify for Colorado's 9 electoral votes (9 out of 538; POTUS needs 270)

{ one down forty-nine to go }

Don't get too happy until we find out if the Supreme Court is going to overturn it.

138:

Don't get too happy until we find out if the Supreme Court is going to overturn it.

The supreme court will overturn it for sure, unless Clarence Thomas has a stroke first (or Don forgets to promise to pay him off after his re-election).

Also, this will light a fire under Trump's voters.

139:

Thank you for that reference. But I am sorry that you object to your absolute statements being doubted; upon checking, more of them are incorrect than you think. It is certainly PROBABLE that the Egyptians started out using lashing, not least because most of their boats were reed ones. But did they invent planked boats? We simply don't know, nor how those first boats were constructed.

The first point is that we have no good evidence that those WERE examples of the first planked boats; they are merely the first we have evidence of, and we have strong evidence of how poorly such things survive in most environments. Egypt wasn't the only advanced culture in 3,000 BC.

No, of course, I am not belittling the Polynesians - YOU are. I don't give a damn if they used metal tools, shells or their teeth - the fact is that making planks is a much more advanced woodworking technique than drilling holes or making nails. I have experimented with all three using basic tools - have you?

140:

I was once mildly flamed by referring to the Inuit being a technological society; their kayak designs are used to this day for recreation (in different materials), for a start. Humans couldn't colonise even the British Isles without fire, at least crude tanning, and either weaponry or traps - and the Arctic is much tougher.

The rot problem is often overstated. In sub-zero conditions, wood, even crudely tanned leather and most ropes rot extremely slowly. And, if they are used only for short periods, drying them out (or letting them freeze) between uses will keep them going for ages. It's staying wet, oxygenated and warm that is death on wood and leather. Things like teredo are not really a problem for boats that are used for a few days, hauled out onto the beach, and used again a week later.

This is why UK winters are such a problem. The evaporation is negligible, the rain is intermittent but frequent, and the temperature is normally well above freezing. Bacteria and fungi just LOVE that! Of, course, our winters can't compete with the humid tropics in the rotting stakes :-)

141:

It will also fire up the Democrats.

142:

{ various bits of rational analysis }

how about you-all grant me the mercy of of a day's worth of unchallenged self-delusion? it was so sweet contemplating that the courts would rein in the fascists;

atop of all the other crap, New York City nearly got hammered as further south (and also north) by weekend's storm; for sure there will be other such storms and the last thing NYC needs is wide spread flooding and/or blackouts; then there's the 400+ confirmed threats against synagogues (ie, Jewish houses of worship) across the US in less than one week in December; and various 'n sundry other stuff that's misery;

{ at this moment I am inclined to be a whiney five year old due to headlines }

143:

Nearly fifty years ago, a coworker who sometimes indulged in the "Herb superb" mentioned that the Richard Nixon wished to give the United States a new constitution for the bicentenial. Although it's now done by packing the courts, it doesn't sound paranoid now.

144:

Charlie @ 138
How utterly-corrupt &/or venal is SCOTUS, really?
Mad, yes, but ... their decisions have been "originalist" to a fault ... to say that DJT was not engaged in insurrection as defined is contra to everything they have done so far.
Get the popcorn out?

145:

Re:Trump disqualification due to insurrection

There was an article two days ago reminding everyone that the January 6th mob was being directed by the speakers to hit the Supreme Court after they were finished with Congress. Despite the “without fear or favor” rhetoric that judges clothe their rulings with, they have to know they’re physically at risk if they let Trump slide.

I thus have a fair hope that they will rule that Trump is not above the Constitution in either the disqualification case or the immunity from prosecution case. This will burnish their reputations—which they need, badly—and also give the Right tools to beat upon Biden should he win again. Remember, if in the US the Law is king…they’re the ones who decide what the law means.

Anyway, if they fuck up badly enough, we’re not just in for civil war, but likely global war, as China, Russia, and the EU fight to determine who’s the apex predator in the global order as we autodarwinate. Too bad the UK left the EU.

146:

Trump has been removed from the Colorado Republican PRIMARY ballot. We are a long way from electoral votes.

In addition to those mentioning the Supreme Court, consider:

  • This applies to one state. Even if some other states ban him from their primary ballots, he is likely to win the Republican nomination anyway, fairly or because the party will change its rule to satisfy the Republican base.

  • In the general election, states don't have to disqualify Trump if their courts rule otherwise. Voting is a state issue unless the Supreme Court decides otherwise.

  • Trump would not get Colorado's electoral votes in any case. Biden won the state by ten or so percentage points.

  • All of the judges in the Colorado case were Democratic appointees, yet three of them voted in favor of Trump. The disqualification issue is certainly quite moot (that is, subject to debate).

  • 147:

    »Anyway, if they fuck up badly enough«

    My guess is that they will deny review without stating a reason.

    To screw up they would really have to go out of their way.

    The dissent in CO is about a finer point in the state constitution, but unless it goes pretty directly against the federal constitution, SCOTUS have no business there, and have said as much themselves many times.

    In theory they might want to play with 14th section 3, just on general principles, but it is very hard to see what they can do with it, when it explicitly spells out that relief is meted out by 2/3 of congress.

    They could in theory resurrect the lower court's conclusion, that the holder of the highest office and supreme commander of the armed forces, is not covered by "hold any any office, civil or military", but, seriously ?

    (Some have seen that as an "appeal me ASAP please!" token.)

    On the other hand, if they refuse to bite, and nobody can make them, they handicap Trumpolino by Colorados 9 electoral votes up front, and practically invite all the blue states to follow suit, so Trump will never be able to exact any revenge on them.

    And in this particular instance, the way Trumpolino has pissed all over the federal judiciary is not going to help him any. If there is one thing SCOTUS protects above all else, it is the article 3 courts.

    148:

    PSA:

    Scientific American op-ed:

    Tech Billionaires Need to Stop Trying to Make the Science Fiction They Grew Up on Real

    Today’s Silicon Valley billionaires grew up reading classic American science fiction. Now they’re trying to make it come true, embodying a dangerous political outlook

    (by me)

    149:

    Mad, yes, but ... their decisions have been "originalist" to a fault

    Clarence Thomas threatened to resign if there wasn't more bribery to keep him on the bench. And his Roe v. Wade opinion relied for its originalism on selectively privileging the opinions of Sir Matthew Hale, a Restoration era English judge who accepted spectral evidence (i.e. testimony of ghosts) in his courts, hanged witches, and established the doctrine of coverture (i.e. that the "of one flesh" bit in the Christian marriage ceremony meant that a married woman was literally an appendage of her husband, with no property rights or legal existence outside her husband's).

    It also relied on the curious assertion that because the 18th century jurisprudence didn't talk about abortion, there was no abortion in the 18th century colonies, ignoring the fact that "abortion" is a 20th century term and the phrasing of the day was "regularizing the courses" (or monthlies), i.e. taking medicines to ensure that a woman menstruated monthly rather than having an embarrassing few months off.

    Basically "constitutional originalism" means cherry picking -- purposefully ignoring the changes in linguistic usage of 250 years in order to wilfully misinterpret precedent to align it with the prejudices of the Federalist Society.

    It's about as authentic as the Ayatollah Khomenei's strain of Islam. Or the Christian Dominionist nutters.

    I've got your "constitutional originalism" right here (sticks another pin in the Voudoun wax effigy).

    150:

    Charlie Stross @ 138:

    Don't get too happy until we find out if the Supreme Court is going to overturn it.

    The supreme court will overturn it for sure, unless Clarence Thomas has a stroke first (or Don forgets to promise to pay him off after his re-election).

    I think they will too, but I don't know if it's quite that cut & dried.

    Also, this will light a fire under Trump's voters.

    At least the hard core that would vote for Trump even if he was convicted of murder ...

    But I don't know how this is going to play with [EXPLETIVE!! DELETED!!] "undecided" voters

    151:

    Charlie @ 138: The supreme court will overturn [the Colorado decision] for sure, unless Clarence Thomas has a stroke first (or Don forgets to promise to pay him off after his re-election).

    I'm not so pessimistic. Hold your nose for a minute and take a look at this article by FedSoc luminary Ilya Somin. Its a good summary of the legal niceties (which have been covered by other posters here), but more importantly its a take by a fellow traveller of the SCOTUS majority, and he comes down firmly on the "Confirm" side.

    The FedSoc are, by and large, not Trumpists. They regard Trump as literally a useful idiot, nothing more. Now he is promising to become a dictator "for a day" (ha ha). I'm sure that the SCOTUS know what dictators do to judicial independence. FedSoc have been playing for their current position for the last 30 years, and they are not about to let Trump take that power away, because they won't get it back even when Trump has gone.

    So I think the motivation for their motivated originalist reasoning will be much more about how they can confirm the decision and stop Trump from getting on the ballot.

    152:

    Greg Tingey @ 144:

    Charlie @ 138
    How utterly-corrupt &/or venal is SCOTUS, really?
    Mad, yes, but ... their decisions have been "originalist" to a fault ... to say that DJT was not engaged in insurrection as defined is contra to everything they have done so far.
    Get the popcorn out?

    To certain members of the SCOTUS "originalism" is just a word that means whatever they want it to mean; another bit of Orwell's "Newspeak".

    153:

    »So I think the motivation for their motivated originalist reasoning will be much more about how they can confirm the decision and stop Trump from getting on the ballot.«

    By far the easiest way is simply not taking the case.

    154:

    Tech Billionaires Need to Stop Trying to Make the Science Fiction They Grew Up on Real

    What about people growing up reading "new wave" SF. Being a fan of Disch, Delany, Ballard, Spinrad, ..etc, maybe doesn't lead to the same ideological mindset as being fed a diet of Heinlein.

    155:

    Charlie Stross @ 149:

    "Mad, yes, but ... their decisions have been "originalist" to a fault"

    Clarence Thomas threatened to resign if there wasn't more bribery to keep him on the bench. And his Roe v. Wade opinion relied for its originalism on selectively privileging the opinions of Sir Matthew Hale, a Restoration era English judge who accepted spectral evidence (i.e. testimony of ghosts) in his courts, hanged witches, and established the doctrine of coverture (i.e. that the "of one flesh" bit in the Christian marriage ceremony meant that a married woman was literally an appendage of her husband, with no property rights or legal existence outside her husband's).

    I believe it's the OTHER "Clarence Thomas", Samuel Alito, who has a man crush on Sir Matthew ... other than that, everything else is spot on.

    Basically "constitutional originalism" means cherry picking -- purposefully ignoring the changes in linguistic usage of 250 years in order to wilfully misinterpret precedent to align it with the prejudices of the Federalist Society.

    It's about as authentic as the Ayatollah Khomenei's strain of Islam. Or the Christian Dominionist nutters.

    156:

    670K? Is that a typo? If not, I find your source questionable, given that by 1810, there were 1B of us.

    157:

    I'd be happy to write that.

    However, it wouldn't get published, since it wouldn't be a "character-driven" story.

    158:

    One detail that non-USans should note, along with Americans: this is a state law. SCOTUS has no say.

    159:

    Nope. They're reading cyberpunk, etc, which is heavily dystopian.

    160:

    Sorry to say it, but New Wave science fiction IS what tech billionaires grew up with. Both Musk and Marc Andreessen were born in 1971. Bezos in 1964. New Wave is exactly what was in their earliest "Analog" issues.

    161:

    In fact, that's the point of Charlie's post -- tech billionaires grew up reading not the "celebration of technology" stories of Heinlein, but the "warnings about technology" which characterized cyberpunk, but also the New Wave. They just decided that the villains of these stories have the right idea.

    163:

    Sorry to say it, but New Wave science fiction IS what tech billionaires grew up with. Both Musk and Marc Andreessen were born in 1971. Bezos in 1964. New Wave is exactly what was in their earliest "Analog" issues.

    So, when they read Bug Jack Barron, they thought "Cool, I want to be immortal too!" and they mistook 'Triton" for a blueprint for space colonization?

    164:

    So, when they read Bug Jack Barron, they thought "Cool, I want to be immortal too!"

    Yes, this is EXACTLY what happened.

    And I kind of can empathize: the real horror of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" as Lovecraft intended it, was not the protagonist being pursued through the night by fish-men, but the last page when he realizes he is a fish-man himself. Whereas the first time I read "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", my reaction was "Cool! I would like to live under the ocean forever!"

    and they mistook 'Triton" for a blueprint for space colonization?

    Don't know what "Triton" is, so can't judge. But I suspect the answer is yes.

    165:

    However, it wouldn't get published, since it wouldn't be a "character-driven" story.

    You just tell that to the creators of MacGyver. I’ll wait. Neal Stephenson might be worth talking to as well.

    166:

    Don't know what "Triton" is, so can't judge

    Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia (1976) by Samuel Delany. One of my favorite SF novels.

    167:

    Sorry, you have no idea of the current market for short fiction. Really. For example, one of the multiple Hugo-winners, an online 'zine named Uncanny, explicitly says they want character-driven stories. And from speaking with some editors of other 'zines, that's what they want.

    168:

    Jumping back to the theme of this thread... I may have mentioned it before, but Eve's carriage ride was great, Charlie. So many people treat them as modern spring-with-shock-absorbers-and-HVAC cars pulled by horses over paved roads...

    Actually, only semi-related: I'm reading a steampunk novel, set in Prague, and in the first chapter, I read that this person our PoV character has just been introduced to is another Englishman, "I could tell by his accent".

    I hereby promise the next time I write someone from what is now the UK into a story like this, I will have them as "I could tell he was from Leeds", or "She was from Wales", not "an English accent".

    169:

    The US Supreme Court's entire reason to exist is rooted in the rule of law. More banally, the power and prestige of the Supreme Court is rooted in their role as arbiters of the law.

    If they make a decision that effectively ends the rule of law then their power and prestige, the role they play in society, will be effectively at an end. I'm more thinking of the 'presidential immunity' case than the Colorado case, but if they rule that the law is subject to the whim of one person they will convert the function of the Supreme Court away from power and prestige and into a sinecure for cronies.

    Some of them are certainly venal and corrupt, but none of them are stupid. They won't be making a decision that reduces themselves to irrelevancy.

    Or so I hope.

    170:

    Fair enough. I suppose middle-aged women discussing what to do about a wayward daughter while they sew together a sail is out, and they have to be sitting around drinking tea instead while the sails happen off scene? Or the Inuit hunter who’s waiting all day for a seal to surface will only be focused mindlessly on his prey, and not get distracted by ruminating over a family dispute? Or asteroid miners will have to work out a spat, so that they can have each other’s back in the mine?

    Tech underlies how people interact. In SFF there’s an opportunity to play with that that gets missed. A lot.

    171:

    I hereby promise the next time I write someone from what is now the UK into a story like this, I will have them as "I could tell he was from Leeds", or "She was from Wales", not "an English accent".

    In my experience, only another Brit can parse UK regional accents. Some years ago, I met some working-class guys (punks) from Manchester. All I could tell was: "I don't understand one word they're saying". There is a standard English accent though, that many educated Englishmen from outside London learn to master.

    172:

    Perhaps it's worth pointing out that this Colorado decision is not really about the Colorado Republican primary ballot. They have confirmed the lower court's finding that Trump engaged in insurrection. They have also decided that the 14th amendment provision prohibiting insurrectionists from holding office applies to the Presidency. They have therefore concluded that it would be wrong to list him on the primary ballot, since he's an invalid choice.

    Now that decision that the 14th amendment applies to the Presidency is what the US Supreme Court would have to confirm. That's a federal thing, not a state thing.

    173:
    To me this also implies that Swift thought that there's some magic maximum optimal population size - and if they don't die off, find some other way to cut them out of society. FYI - global population was about 670,000 back then, c1720.

    That rather sounds like the kind of "one simple trick" social engineering he wrote quite a well known pamphlet in part lampooning.

    174:
    PTerry presumably was inspired by the death of Aeschylus who was though to have been killed by an eagle dropping a tortoise on his bald head mistaking it for a rock.

    While we know PTerry was inspired by that story (to ask the question "why would the eagle drop a tortoise on someone's bald head?" His answer: because the tortoise coerced the eagle to), I suspect the inspiration for Nation's octopi is much more likely the hoax Greg linked to above.

    175:

    Now that decision that the 14th amendment applies to the Presidency is what the US Supreme Court would have to confirm. That's a federal thing, not a state thing.

    Yup. And if they decide that the President is above the constitution with respect to the 14th Amendment, they’re then going to have to decide what other parts of the Constitution also do not apply. And no one should forget that the first person to get to use a “presidential insurrection” clause will be Biden, not Trump.

    My guess is that the Supremes will say that someone who engaged in an insurrection cannot be on the ballot, but that it’s up to states to enforce this.

    176:

    I'm gonna say it again...

    { one down forty-nine to go }

    what's important is the unfortunate tendency for judges to emulate penguins... nobody wants to be the first to jump in the water, given multiple species of predators swimming nearby who regard raw penguin as a tasty afternoon treat... so they all falter just at the ice's edge nervously edging sideways until some other head-dead fool jumps in first...

    ditto judges... once they see a week's worth of outcomes (various media, talking heads, numbers of death threats, etc) for Colorado's judges those pending cases in the other forty-nine states will move forward in the docket

    177:

    happy fun time! great for the kids! the greybeards!

    the game is called "Starving Donald Trump"

    (sadly it is not denying him fried food nor cutting off his supply of seven ounce bottles of coke; that's a different game, to be played after he's at long last convinced of at least one felony and he's shipped off to a windowless concrete hellzone)

    ... try to guess which of forty-nine states will jam a stick into the gears and thereby reduce Trump's likelihood of reaching the 270 minimum... right now it's just Colorado...

    "At least 16 states beyond Colorado currently have open legal challenges to the former president’s eligibility for office — but what happens next depends on the U.S. Supreme Court."

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/20/us/politics/trump-colorado-ballot-other-states.html

    or

    https://archive.ph/KOsyM

    178:

    And if they decide that the President is above the constitution with respect to the 14th Amendment, they’re then going to have to decide what other parts of the Constitution also do not apply.

    My guess is that they will decide that the offices of President and Vice President are not specified in that section of the amendment, which does explicitly specify a number of other offices, and that therefore it doesn't apply. Not about being "above" or below the Constitution, just not that section being applicable to that office. Lawrence Lessig has a discussion of this which seems apt.

    Not seeing why any of the other parts of the Constitution would get dragged into this. Not that they shouldn't be. This whole process of electing Presidents via bound slates of state electors has gotten pretty creaky over time. It may have made sense at the end of the 18th century, but things have changed.

    179:

    Thomas was also apparently deeply in debt, and couldn't make it on his six-figure salary... this kind of thing screams "Buy up his debts" and "he's easily recruited as a agent." Same with Kavanaugh, for that matter. (There's a reason why Justice Jackson won't allow her friends to buy her a bagel.)

    180:

    Missed this earlier. Sorry!

    I was once mildly flamed by referring to the Inuit being a technological society; their kayak designs are used to this day for recreation (in different materials), for a start. Humans couldn't colonise even the British Isles without fire, at least crude tanning, and either weaponry or traps - and the Arctic is much tougher.

    Agreed. I admire the people of the Arctic for how much they do with so little. It looks like the Aleuts were even more advanced than that. Few people realize that metallurgy got to the PNW as hammered copper tech came from Siberia across the Bering Sea.

    181:

    Missed this.

    Thank you for that reference. But I am sorry that you object to your absolute statements being doubted; upon checking, more of them are incorrect than you think. It is certainly PROBABLE that the Egyptians started out using lashing, not least because most of their boats were reed ones. But did they invent planked boats? We simply don't know, nor how those first boats were constructed.

    Shifting the argument pointlessly.. My point is that tenoned boards, by themselves, are weak for a boat hull. You need either ribs or lashing or both to keep the hull keep shape. As I write this, I’m watching Nova’s “Decoding the Great Pyramid” episode, which shows the Ship of Khufu and the lashing holes. That’s how they built. Did they invent the method? Probably not. I think it’s safe to say that it wasn’t an evolution from reed rafts. They didn’t have nails, so if they couldn’t build something out of wooden joinery, it had to be tied together.

    The first point is that we have no good evidence that those WERE examples of the first planked boats; they are merely the first we have evidence of, and we have strong evidence of how poorly such things survive in most environments. Egypt wasn't the only advanced culture in 3,000 BC.

    See above., but there’s also no evidence that lashing rafts together was even invented by humans. See the First Mariners project I mentioned earlier.

    No, of course, I am not belittling the Polynesians - YOU are. I don't give a damn if they used metal tools, shells or their teeth - the fact is that making planks is a much more advanced woodworking technique than drilling holes or making nails. I have experimented with all three using basic tools - have you?

    Making planks depends on the material. Something like PNW red cedar can be easily split into planks with wooden or horn wedges, which is why PNW woodwork is so famous. Red cedar was their tree of life, and I've got a whole book of what they made, from clothing to cradles to longhouses.

    Conversely, none of the wood where I live carves easily or straight, so the local Indians either made boat-shaped rafts out of the local tule reeds (aka balsas) or, in the case of the Chumash, split planks off redwood drift logs from up north, and sewed the planks together into tomol canoes that were caulked with local asphalt. A Chumash shaman assured me that the Hawaiians had taught them how to sew boots, and she was rather cross with me when I pointed out that some archaeologists had reported finding remnants of a tomol that was centuries older than the settlement of Hawai’i. Apparently the idea that her ancestors had invented tomols independently wasn’t appreciated, for some reason.

    182:

    Para the last - It wouldn't be appreciated because it doesn't "conform to archaeological dogma". Like all the Neolithic "jelly baby houses" where present archaeological dogma says that the inner chamber was a ritual space. Experimental archaeologists actually built one on Lewis, and rapidly discovered that the inner chamber makes a good cool room, aka a larder.

    183:

    Per my spouse, who has an archaeology degree: in the literature, labeling something a "ritual item" means "we don't have a clue what this was/was used for", quite often because it has girl cooties.

    184:

    My stepfather, who was curator of Salisbury museum, said that was said about Stonehenge for exactly that reason.

    185:

    "Primitive" doesn't capture the nuances here and we need a better word.

    Primitive, to me, means "the first thing we came up with and we didn't bother improving it because it gets the job done". We need a word for "same basic approach as the primitive one that was utter crap but we spent forever refining it and now it's very good indeed".

    Maybe translate it into German and elide all the nouns?

    186:

    "my spouse, who has an archaeology degree" - I did not that know that. My own interest and knowledge are strictly amateur.

    187:

    EC
    What is the current take on Stonehenge & the other major circles, then?
    I think that the solar/stellar alignment of these tells us something important, but ... what?

    188:

    Isn't "ritual" where archaeologists go when they don't know but prefer not to admit it?

    189:

    Quite right, but a magitech longevity process could plausibly extend the fertile years as well as lengthening middle age.

    Anyway, it doesn't have to actually do that to arouse the anger of the mob. It just has to sound like it does that to people who didn't read the detail.

    Re OGH's objection further up the thread: yes, I get that human population is going to peak and then crash, but I'm thinking that the extreme life extension might come before that. I'd imagined it arriving in 50 years rather than 100, so around the peak of population stress.

    190:

    She's used it about as often in the past three decades as I've used my pharmacy degree, but it's there (and sometimes comes in handy when I need a reminder about something when writing).

    191:

    Beyond the fact that solar alignment and the seasons are very important at 51 degrees north? I don't know.

    192:

    more raw wheat for milling into flour:

    other factors affecting basic health than disease and violence and occupation

    "As US life expectancy lags, nutritional deficiency is often an overlooked factor"

    https://lite.cnn.com/2023/12/21/health/nutritional-deficiency-life-expectancy/index.html

    193:

    Sometimes it's "this is to do with sex but we wouldn't have gotten published if we said that."

    194:

    It still trumps "I have a subscription to 'Current Archaeology'."

    I'd suggest that the serious point that she and I should both take from this is that we have a shared interest?

    195:

    As they put t in the Primitive Technology Bulletin, “primitive means first, not worst.” The old military adage that “if it’s stupid but works, it’s not stupid,” can also be adapted to primitive tech.

    As Charlie noted above we’re socialized to revere the wealthy. We’re also socialized, constantly, to revere and want new stuff, because without that consumerism wouldn’t work, and without consumerism, we can’t have a progressive global civilization free from nationalism and all other evils…. Nice idea, doesn’t work so well in practice.

    Anyway, there’s been, for about 200 years, the Romantic rejection of this notion, with the idea that primitive/primeval was better, and everything from environmentalism to fantasy literature springs from it. It’s the basic counterculture meme, and similar countercultures have shown up not just in modern civilization, but in classical China (Taoism), and in the classical world.

    I’m obviously steeped in it. My take is that, if primitive people managed to live in an area for thousands or tens of thousands of years, they did a better job than we’re doing, and it’s sad that the normal response is to wipe them out and loot their land.

    196:

    Ten thousand years from now archaeologists open up the Great Burial Mound of Onkalo and discover hundreds of large perfectly machined pure copper cylinders lovingly interred in the tunnels and chambers below. What were they used for? Ritual purposes, of course.

    197:

    Charlie @ 183: Per my spouse, who has an archaeology degree: in the literature, labeling something a "ritual item" means "we don't have a clue what this was/was used for", quite often because it has girl cooties.

    The Vagina Museum in London is currently doing an exhibition about exactly this. The link is to their "upcoming exhibitions" page and is likely to change in the future, so for posterity here is the text:

    Museum of Mankind 8 Mar 2024 - 4 Sept 2024

    In April 4654 while doing some gardening, Guy Manson came upon a collection of ancient objects in the soil. He sought the expertise of the curators at the Museum of Mankind and a full archaeological dig was launched.

    "Museum of Mankind" is a parody exhibition that highlights misogyny and oppression in history, heritage and the museum industry.

    This exhibition was inspired by the Museum of Dissent. The Museum of Dissent collective explores the possible nature of institutional dissent through interactive exhibitions and events.

    This exhibition started as a pop up at the Science Museum and Jewish Museum in 2019.

    Exhibits include feminine hygiene items described as being for ritual use by men.

    198:

    Nojay
    *hundreds of large perfectly machined pure copper cylinders lovingly interred in the tunnels and chambers * ... Uh? You what?
    Haven't a clue, so W.T.F. are you rabbitting on about?

    199:

    here's where I 'Grinch Up' the sexual fantasies and/or fetishes...

    couriers on horses had as standard gear, carefully softened and well polished thigh high leather boots to reduce chaffing their own legs and the horse's sides... boots included spike heels useful for spurring their mounts in moments of dire need (ie, being chased by enemy troops)... narrow toe for ease of slipping into stirrups... high arch to ensure each foot was not easily dislodged from stirrups at the gallop...

    exactly when practical military gear for male soldiers crossed over into being fetish wear for females in sexual contexts is an investigation left to the reader...

    200:

    The small problem of nuclear waste, perhaps?

    The grimly ironic thing is that radioactivity decays, whereas simple toxic shit like lead and fluoridated compounds remain completely toxic indefinitely. So, of course, we’re spending way more time trying to figure out how to protect radioactive waste dumps, and just shrugging when our chemically hazardous dumps leak—unless someone forces a grudging cleanup.

    Oh well.

    201:

    Longevity - not to worry. First, it will start out being complicated, and very, very expensive. Thus leading to riots and insurrections and assassinations of the wealthy for decades.

    202:

    You all are being very parochial.

    Archaeologists calling anything they cannot identify (or can, but cannot publish) as "ritual items" stems from the confluence of current Western cultural trends which are by no means universal. One is sexual prudery, especially with regard to female pleasure. The other is scientific inquiry which values answers more than asking new questions. Neither is eternal.

    I can easily see archaeologists circa 4654 labeling everything they cannot identify as "sex implement". Or "athletic implement". Or "hunting implement" -- with (largely accurate) understanding that technological people who do not depend on hunting for survival, often handicap themselves in arbitrary ways.

    Or, when they have pretty good idea what the somewhat radioactive copper cylinder is for, err on the side of "We don't know" because in their culture, opening new lines of inquiry is what brings support and resources.

    203:

    RE: Stonehenge.

    I’m not an archaeologist, so I can have fun putting the pieces together. Here’s the evidence from the real experts, plus modern day parallels.

    —people drove herds of pigs and cattle to the site, and feasted there. Feeding crops to pigs, then driving the pigs to market or whatever, is a classic way to move food, especially in the absence of good roads or rivers.

    —what was Stonehenge built for? A bunch of things, since it was rebuilt multiple times, and it probably had more than one use.

    I’m partial to Lynne Kelly’s mnemonic complex idea, that it’s basically akin to an aboriginal songline compressed into a small space, created because Britain was getting to populated for long distance song lines as in Australia. This was her doctoral thesis, and the Stonehenge experts have publicly said that it’s consistent with the evidence and at least as plausible as any other theory.

    She also found that the ditches around the Henge, at least the ones excavated, have decent acoustics and could have served as lecture hall equivalents.

    And apparently the heyday of the full complex only lasted a few decades, maybe a century.

    Put this all together, and I’d suggest that modern parallels include religious festivals like the Kunda Mela, Rainbow Family Gatherings, state fairs, and, of course conventions.

    If you’re wondering why the heyday of Stonehenge was only a few decades….how hard is it to find people to organize cons?

    204:

    Longevity - not to worry. First, it will start out being complicated, and very, very expensive.

    Only if longevity is a single definable treatment, which you either get or do not get. Which I do not believe will ever be the case.

    Far more likely longevity will sneak up on us: today an average 60-year old plays tennis and bad knees get replaced; by 2030 an average 70-year old plays tennis and bad hearts get replaced; in 2050 an average 80-year old plays tennis and bad livers get replaced. By 2100 no 50-year old even thinks about heart attacks, or breast cancer, or enlarged prostate... and there is a billion fairly healthy centenarians worldwide. By that time major societal changes will have happened without any riots.

    205:

    Considering that the site was in use for c. 6,500 years, and the existing stones were erected over 1,500 years in multiple phases, it's very doubtful that it had a single heyday, and probable that it was used for multiple purposes. Whether or not the use of each phase was short, a much bigger question is how what was almost certainly a non-centralised society managed to get the organised manpower to do the quarrying, transport and construction. Mesolithic Britain was (socially) very unlike anything we have better records of.

    206:

    That is how it would happen, if it did, but I am not expecting it. We know how to get there with very little medical intervention required - see #87. But what are the chances of ensuring that people adopt that lifestyle? It's not just persuading the people, but ensuring that is possible, and it most definitely isn't getting any easier.

    207:

    Rocketpjs @ 169:

    RE: The US Supreme Court's entire reason ...

    Some of them are certainly venal and corrupt, but none of them are stupid.

    How do you prove the negative?

    208:

    Heteromeles @ 195:

    As they put t in the Primitive Technology Bulletin, “primitive means first, not worst.” The old military adage that “if it’s stupid but works, it’s not stupid,” can also be adapted to primitive tech.

    Kind of wish our modern Tech Bros would learn another old adage: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

    209:

    Please note, for non-USans, that Justice Barrett was rated "unqualified" by the US Bar Assn. TFG didn't even lean on them to get her rated qualified.

    210:

    A hammer is primitive technology.

    211:

    ilya 187
    I will be 78 in 3 weeks' time ... I will be dancing on 26th Dec & 13th Jan '24 - the day aftyer said 78th birthday.
    I have never, ever been a sportsman or an athlete, but I have kept "fit" - I wonder how much that contributes to longevity?

    212:

    but I have kept "fit" - I wonder how much that contributes to longevity?

    It most certainly does. Even better, keeping fit contributes to "healthspan" -- the fraction of your lifespan during which you are not in pain, not handicapped and not bedridden.

    Sounds like it works for you!

    213:

    There's something of a selection effect there, though. Pretty much by definition people who can stay active have few major health issues. Which means that sure, cancer is still an option but you're not dying of MS complications a year after your last half marathon.

    That said, being fit helps mitigate complications that do happen. My grandfather lived longer than was reasonable due to having been an athlete as a young man and staying as active as he could in later life. He went through surgery after surgery while the doctors kept saying "you'll be dead soon if you even survive this surgery"...

    214:

    Good for you. My brother in law, who is 77, will also be dancing out with a Border Morris side on Boxing Day. Weekly practice and an active life has helped keep them going.

    215:

    Mad, yes, but ... their decisions have been "originalist" to a fault

    The Colorado decision was originalist — more so than any of the recent supposedly-originalist SCUTUS decisions. The Colorado justices looked that the original wording of the state constitution, other documents for context including discussions between state legislators about what the wording meant, and so on.

    I find it interesting that the same republican politicians who regularly ask me for money to help them protect me from federal government overreach against "states rights" are now asking for money to help them help SCOTUS overturn the Colorado verdict. (I wonder if they need the money to pay for more holidays for Thomas?)

    216:

    Despite the “without fear or favor” rhetoric that judges clothe their rulings with, they have to know they’re physically at risk if they let Trump slide.

    And physically at risk if they go against him, when his unhinged rants trigger stochastic terrorist attacks on them…

    217:

    Per my spouse, who has an archaeology degree: in the literature, labeling something a "ritual item" means "we don't have a clue what this was/was used for", quite often because it has girl cooties.

    Back in the 80s I took an archaeology course from Trevor Hodge at Carleton University. He told us that "probably had a religious significance" meant "I haven't a clue".

    The example he always used in his lecture was a small model house with furnishings and figurines, which had wear marks indicating that the figurines had been moved over the floor. Apparently the archaeologist who first discovered it was a bachelor with an aversion to children, because he described it as a ritual house and imagined rituals wherein the figurines were moved around the model house as prayers were said…

    …when any idiot could see it was a rather nice dollhouse.

    218:

    a much bigger question is how what was almost certainly a non-centralised society managed to get the organised manpower to do the quarrying, transport and construction. Mesolithic Britain was (socially) very unlike anything we have better records of.

    Neolithic, please. The mesolithic ended with the ice ages.

    As for organization, ask how a Rainbow Family Gathering gets organized by anarchists. I suspect it's much the same: organizers, enthusiasts, and a clear goal. A lot of endurin stuff gets built that way.

    The one that boggles my mind is Khufu's Great Pyramid at Giza. Talk about dictatorial power....

    219:

    »The one that boggles my mind is Khufu's Great Pyramid at Giza. Talk about dictatorial power....«

    Or bureaucracy ?

    I have always wondered how China ended up with their Great Wall.

    Not in terms of foreign policy, economics, military value and all that, but as a matter of decision making.

    Did the emperors advisers arrive for the scheduled final meeting, armed with binders full of analysis, and after a deep and penetrating discussion, everybody agreed that this was the least bad option?

    Or was it more like:

    »Your majesty, barbarians have attacked another three villages near the border in the foobar province.«

    His majesty wondering, slightly irritated, why people keep wasting his time with remote villages all the time: »Well, then build a defensive wall!«

    Later back in the office:

    »Didn't he say /anything/ about what wall he wants ?«

    »No, (consulting notes again) he just said: "Build a defensive wall"«

    »And he has never mentioned building defensive walls around the villages before ?«

    »No, never.«

    Long pause…

    »Why would he want a wall around those specific three villages?«

    »I mean, why not also the five villages the barbarians sacked last week?«

    »…or the ones we expect they'll attack next ?«

    »…that doesn't make much sense, does it ?«

    »or for that matter, the three the week before last, or dozen last month ?«

    Long pause…

    »Yeah, that is kind of weird isn't it?«

    »We must be overlooking something…«

    Slightly awkward pause…

    »Any chance you could maybe slip on a question about this tomorrow ?«

    »No way! - He has been grumpy every time I have mentioned this problem, and his answer came right away … I'd loose my job, if not my head, if I asked!«

    »Yeah, that is always a possibility…«

    Very long pause…

    »Is there any chance that he meant us to build a wall around /all/ the villages ?«

    »That would be a /LOT/ of wall…«

    »Yes, but it would make a more sense, wouldn't it?«

    »You mean: Solve the problem once and for all?«

    Long pause, while everybody in the office contemplates the career prospects of continuing to report sacked villages in the future.

    »Fetch a map…«

    220:

    As for organization, ask how a Rainbow Family Gathering gets organized by anarchists.

    Or a WorldCon gets organized by science fiction fans, many of whom are like anarchists but less prone to working in a group or taking directions. (I love my fandom but, wow, some of us...) As Kevin Standlee has observed, every WorldCon is a unique event put on by an ad hoc group, and it's a small miracle we manage any of them.

    221:

    Just a reminder this theme started with Heteromeles@203 with:

    If you’re wondering why the heyday of Stonehenge was only a few decades….how hard is it to find people to organize cons?

    Not picking on you in particular, I've just seen this sort of circularity turn up here before, and it's inevitable in longer threads. On the other hand this is a point worth drawing out.

    222:

    Er, yes. Thanks. I have COVID and brain fog. The difference between modern events and then is that we have plenty of spare resources. Neolithic Britain was better off than in mediaeval times, but heavy loads like that need a lot of people, can be moved only during the farming season, and 100 people needed at least 1,000 to feed them while they were not working, probably 10,000 to do so without hardship. Plus a great deal of cooperation over a fairly wide area for the bluestones. And people came to places like Stonehenge from as far away as Scotland. That's all pretty unusual in recorded history for somewhere with no more than large villages.

    I agree about the dictatorial power in Egypt, but it's a known phenomenon. Look at the recent history of grand projects by centralised governments, and remember that few of them (Saudi Arabia excepted) have as dictatorial a system as Egypt. Once you can give unchallengeable orders to masses of people, the temptation to leave a durable legacy becomes overwhelming.

    223:

    I agree about the dictatorial power in Egypt, but it's a known phenomenon.

    For a better example you probably want to look at the Edo Castle in what is now Tokyo -- the site of the Imperial Palace -- and which was built between 1593 and 1636 on the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu:

    At least 10,000 men were involved in the first phase of the construction and more than 300,000 in the middle phase.[6] When construction ended, the castle had 38 gates. The ramparts were almost 20 meters (66 ft) high and the outer walls were 12 meters (39 ft) high. Moats forming roughly concentric circles were dug for further protection. Some moats reached as far as Ichigaya and Yotsuya, and parts of the ramparts survive to this day. This area is bordered by either the sea or the Kanda River, allowing ships access.

    The inner castle is merely huge, and at one time had about a dozen keeps and palaces dotted around it -- it's the imperial palace gardens these days, and is open to the public. The outer castle was a walled city about two-thirds the size of modern Edinburgh (far larger than mediaeval Edinburgh). Oh, and it was designed to survive cannon fire and had a garrison of several thousand samurai to defend it.

    My reason for bringing it up is it's a similar mammoth construction project (300,000 workers over 40 years! money and materials supplied to the Shogun by a tax on the various daimyōs) with mediaeval technology and it's recent enough that the documentation has probably survived if nothing else in the form of the tax records.

    224:

    I thought this might be of interest, given the recent discussion on prehistoric settlements.

    Thousands of years before ancient people in Central Eurasia learned to farm, hunter-gatherer groups in the subarctic were building some of the first permanent, fortified settlements, challenging the notion that agriculture was a prerequisite for societies to 'settle down'.

    According to an international team of archaeologists, led by researchers at the Free University of Berlin, both sites challenge the traditional notion of what hunter-gatherer groups were capable of.

    It was clearly not just farming communities in the Stone Age that built permanent, fortified settlements.

    Scientists https://www.sciencealert.com/the-worlds-oldest-settlements-were-built-by-a-culture-nobody-expected

    225:

    Speaking of archeological assumptions, it's worth looking for a copy of "Motel of the Mysteries" (Davod Macaulay). Maybe in your local library or used bookstore? It's a delicious satire on how we're led astray by our assumptions and guesswork, not an attack specifically on archeology.

    On the issue of great constructions (e.g., pyramids*, great walls, fortresses), I've often thought that some of the purpose was "look upon my works and despair", whilst ignoring the ultimate moral of the story (such works eventually fail). That is, apart from the nominal role of such structures, a secondary role is "don't fuck with us; if we can build something this big and complex, we've got the resources to crush you like a bug".

    • I originally typed "pyramind". Will 30th century archeologists find remnants of the server farms that ran ChatGPT and its descendents and wonder whatever possessed us to build such things? "Look upon my servers and despair!"
    226:

    Greg Tingey @ 211:

    ilya 187
    I will be 78 in 3 weeks' time ... I will be dancing on 26th Dec & 13th Jan '24 - the day aftyer said 78th birthday.
    I have never, ever been a sportsman or an athlete, but I have kept "fit" - I wonder how much that contributes to longevity?

    Might work both ways, your longevity helps with staying fit as you age. Positive feedback?

    227:

    =+=+=+=+=

    one step closer to singularity

    https://lite.cnn.com/style/lito-masters-paintings-3d-printing/index.html

    so... yeah we are indeed one step closer to mass replication ("Star Trek replicator") of consumer goods and erstwhile luxuries... at which point the gigacorps will have to decide between (a) high quality plus low (ultra low!) prices versus (b) intellectual property rights plus monopoly plus gatekeeper plus falsified scarcity

    ...and based upon prior bad acts we can expect “option (b)” along with other bits 'n pieces of worsening behavior

    offers seriously dark possibilities for wannabe authors

    =+=+=+=+=

    Charlie Stross 223:

    the documentation has probably survived if nothing else in the form of the tax records

    duuuuuuude!

    That's amazing. I've had clients calling me up without warning to demand that I hand over copies of documentation for projects dating back to the 1990s. Materials which they refuse to admit they misplaced. And now you're telling me that a government bureaucracy has retained documentation dating back centuries.

    Stunning. Yeah, paint me with a shade of "stunned institutional beige".

    =+=+=+=+=

    228:

    Robert Prior @ 224:

    I thought this might be of interest, given the recent discussion on prehistoric settlements.

    Thousands of years before ancient people in Central Eurasia learned to farm, hunter-gatherer groups in the subarctic were building some of the first permanent, fortified settlements, challenging the notion that agriculture was a prerequisite for societies to 'settle down'.

    According to an international team of archaeologists, led by researchers at the Free University of Berlin, both sites challenge the traditional notion of what hunter-gatherer groups were capable of.

    It was clearly not just farming communities in the Stone Age that built permanent, fortified settlements.

    Scientists https://www.sciencealert.com/the-worlds-oldest-settlements-were-built-by-a-culture-nobody-expected

    Given the trope that "ritual" supposedly means they don't know what it was used for, this kind of amused me ... 😏

    "Göbekli Tepe, for instance, is a massive stone assembly in present-day Turkey constructed around 11,000 years ago. It was built before the advent of agriculture and is considered to be the oldest known megalith in the world. It seems hunter-gatherers gathered at this site to bid farewell to their dead or to stage sacred ceremonies."
    "Similarly, at the Amnya site in Siberia, archaeologists have found 'kholmy' mounds, which are described as "large-scale ritual structures in the landscape"."
    229:

    I'd expect the daimyōs to have exhibited some diligence in hanging onto their hand-written receipts for tax paid, if only to convince the Tokugawa Shogunate not to seize their heirs and crucify them along the walls of the Palace of Edo (where the aforementioned family members were held hostage: that's what it was for).

    You did not want to annoy Ieyasu, he was not a cuddly care bear by all accounts.

    230:

    Come on, sf fandom is an actual anarchy (that's voluntary organization, not chaos as the media defines anarchy). Voluntary membership and cooperation....

    231:

    I have to wonder if Tokugawa got more than one thing out of building that: remember, he had just finished ending centuries of troubles.

    I'm thinking that, like the Sun King, who forced fashion on his nobles to keep them from being able to afford private armies, Tokugawa also kept rogue daimyo from making trouble.

    232:

    I have to wonder if Tokugawa got more than one thing out of building that: remember, he had just finished ending centuries of troubles.

    Of course he did!

    Expensive levies to drain their wealth, and he got to hold their families as hostages during the six months of each year when the daimyo themselves were allowed to live at home asnd administer their estates in person.

    The size of the Imperial death star palace was also a deterrent to anyone trying to seize power. (I've been there, in terms of traditional fortress design it's terrifying. Designed to withstand gunfire, as well.)

    The Tokugawas were paranoid, they'd just won a 150 year long civil war.

    233:

    the gigacorps will have to decide between (a) high quality plus low (ultra low!) prices versus (b) intellectual property rights plus monopoly plus gatekeeper plus falsified scarcity... offers seriously dark possibilities for wannabe authors

    And said dark possibilities are not limited to the corporations themselves. I point at the comment #87 on this ten-years old post by Our Gracious Host:

    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/04/grand-guignol-tropes.html

    234:

    »And now you're telling me that a government bureaucracy has retained documentation dating back centuries.«

    Denmark levied tax on all ships through Øresund from 1429 to 1857.

    The entire contents of the ships, and the taxes paid where recorded in huge volumes.

    Approx 700 of these volumes have survived in the archives of Denmark, spotty coverage from 1497 to 1574 but then almost complete coverage to 1857.

    A joint dutch/danish project is digitizing them: https://soundtoll.nl

    The oldest document in the danish state archives is "Jyske Lov" - "The law of Jutland" from 1241. Some parts of it are still in force, for instance the rules about bee-keeping.

    235:

    There's revised version of that for programmers: "If it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is!" Of course, that's been revised too. The current version is simply, "Move fast and break things."

    236:

    Re: '... never, ever been a sportsman or an athlete, but I have kept "fit"'

    Gardening is a moderate whole body exercise while dancing is comparable to jogging as a workout. There's also diet - based on your posts, my guess is that you eat a lot of fresh unprocessed vegetables and fruits.

    Looking forward to watching this performance on YouTube.

    237:

    Re: '... deterrent to anyone trying to seize power.'

    A few questions:

    1-What were the birth and death rates during the preceding war vs. during the time of construction of this fortress?

    2-Who fed the workers - the emperor or the workers' immediate lords? If the emperor then I'm guessing that a lot of agricultural and other supporting infrastructure had to also be built therefore a lasting benefit to more than just the royal court.

    3-Any inventions or new ways of doing things come out of that construction project?

    238:

    'The current version is simply, "Move fast and break (other people's) things."'

    FIFY

    JHomes

    239:

    I think the answer is more complicated than that. Tokugawa didn't exactly reunify the country by himself after their little 150 year civil war. He was one of the three "Great Unifiers" of Japan, and after the other two died, he became the first Shogun. The Tokugawa shogunate wasn't the funnest era to be alive, but it was a vast improvement on what preceded it.

    ...

    I've often thought that Medieval Japan could be usefully reworked into a future SF history of the US or the Earth, with oligarchs taking the place of daimyos, Specops as the new samurai and ninja (pro-tip: ninjutsu was spycraft, and was mostly studied by Warring States samurai), militias as militias, and politicized Churchianity taking the place of the Ikko-Ikki. Books like Souyri's The World Turned Upside Down: Medieval Japanese Society are interesting reads for this very reason.

    Alas, this would almost certainly be another Torment Nexus, since every techbro who read it would fancy himself to be Ieyasu's reincarnation and try to start the chaos so he could end it on top of the rubble. And I think we need more hopepunk, not a saga of a 150 year-long civil war set against climate change. Oh well.

    240:

    I was idly thinking earlier that "political nihilists" is suggestive but doesn't really accurately describe the crop of experts who are very good at profiting from political chaos and if none is to be found will create it. Not so much the obvious Boris Johnson "I'm not (just) a clown, I'm your Prime Minister" type, more the Dick Cheney "what we need is a war. Preferably with terrorists" type person. Or the various "PPE providers" who were running round the UK and USA with their hands out recently similtaneously demanding the restrictions be eased and further 'price no object' PPE purchases be paid for (delivery optional).

    It's sort of like the distinction between lies and bullshit: these are not "disaster capitalist" types who want money and will start wars to get it, it's the next stage, people who don't care whether the government works, people survive, even whether a particular corporate entity survoves, just so long as they're rich and comfortable.

    Arguably the top level of this are the various individuals who believe that they are the next incarnation of Mussolini/Stalin/Mao, the great leader with the great vision who will inevitably be recognised for their greatness and installed as emporer by an adoring crowd... as soon as those useless morons who disagree can be eliminated.

    241:

    »'The current version is simply, "Move fast and break (other people's) things."'«

    Move fast and break things is not a new concept.

    But the consequences used to manageable from a civilization point of view, because the breakage would be localized, usually restricted by physical movement, and therefore superior powers existed who could deal with it.

    For instance the dutch tulip bubble didn't spread much beyond Netherlands, so yeah, bad for them, but nobody else were harmed.

    The new aspect is that the Internet makes it possible to break things on a global scale at 60% of lightspeed, and the fragmentation of political power on global scale means that nobody will be able stop you, before you are "too big to fail".

    242:

    Heteromeles @ 239: I've often thought that Medieval Japan could be usefully reworked into a future SF history of the US or the Earth, with oligarchs taking the place of daimyos, Specops as the new samurai and ninja (pro-tip: ninjutsu was spycraft, and was mostly studied by Warring States samurai), militias as militias, and politicized Churchianity taking the place of the Ikko-Ikki.

    Check out Friday by Heinlein. The setting is pretty close to what you describe, and Friday herself is one of those ninja SpecOps people.

    243:

    Re: 'Tokugawa didn't exactly reunify the country by himself after their little 150 year civil war. He was one of the three "Great Unifiers" of Japan ...'

    Was half-wondering whether some of the European royals (e.g., Louis XIV) might have been inspired by Asia - its history, politics and culture.

    The Versailles Palace was mostly built during Louis XIV's reign - the largest and most opulent* palace in Europe. During construction workers lived in terrible conditions and afterwards the nobility had to spend (waste) a lot of time and their own wealth to attend the King at Versailles.

    *The Hall of Mirrors was probably the showiest and most expensive part of the palace back then. More interesting were the fountains as well as the first solar heater (ardent mirror) and elevator (flying chair) which were also built there. That's why I had asked about inventions.

    244:

    Charlie Stross @ 232:

    "I have to wonder if Tokugawa got more than one thing out of building that: remember, he had just finished ending centuries of troubles."

    Of course he did!

    Expensive levies to drain their wealth, and he got to hold their families as hostages during the six months of each year when the daimyo themselves were allowed to live at home asnd administer their estates in person.

    The size of the Imperial death star palace was also a deterrent to anyone trying to seize power. (I've been there, in terms of traditional fortress design it's terrifying. Designed to withstand gunfire, as well.)

    The Tokugawas were paranoid, they'd just won a 150 year long civil war.

    The Kings of Siam would give potential rivals a white elephant.

    245:

    The Kings of Siam would give potential rivals a white elephant.

    And in 16th century England, Queen Elizabeth I would go touring the estates of her richest nobles, visiting with her court for a week or two at a time -- 400 or so attendants, ladies in waiting, guards, servants, and hangers-on.

    A visit from the Queen was both a great honour, and ruinously expensive.

    (Standard despot tactic for staying on top of the rivals.)

    246:

    Check out Friday by Heinlein. The setting is pretty close to what you describe, and Friday herself is one of those ninja SpecOps people.

    Yes and no. SpecOps ninjas and feudal super-rich have been around for awhile, mostly because they're rooted in truth.

    What I'm talking about is using the medieval history of Japan, which is unfamiliar to most SFF readers, as a direct inspiration for a fictional future history of the US or even the Earth, much as GRRM did with European medieval history and Game of Thrones.

    Since this saga would involve the overthrow of democracy by armed oligarchs and their loyal minions, I'm not going to write it (as I've said, we need more hopepunk right now, not grimdark). However, it could end with the restoration of democracy, analogous to how the Tokugawa shogunate essentially built an analog of the old imperial Heian system and demilitarized the country.

    One way to get from warring aristocrats with their bands of elite warriors with elite assault rifles to a democracy is to posit three things:

    -climate change and the breakdown of our current urban order via decades of urban warfare decreases the availability of high quality munitions, while increasing their cost. The Specops samurai become a vanishing and increasingly aristocratic breed of people who can afford such weapons and the time to become proficient with them.

    -An analog of the Chinese military genius Qi Jiguang enters the story. He got delegated by the Ming Emperor to stop the Japanese from raiding and conquering coastal China and later Korea. He used often crappy, locally made weapons, including firearms of all primitive and autodarwinating sorts, along with conscript armies, to assemble combined arms formations that absolutely devastated the samurai raiders (who also had firearms, incidentally). Qi was using intensively drilled, large-scale formations to overwhelm elites trained in small-unit fighting only, and he did it brilliantly. Again, his story isn't well known in the West, so using it as inspiration for English language milSF is absolutely appropriate, IMHO. It also fits with in the story of the unification of Japan, because the Three Unifiers used regular armies and large formations to beat their smaller, less organized rivals. Qi simply did it even better and defeated the Unifiers when they invaded mainland Asia...

    -Once a paramount warlord establishes a new peace, he (she?) uses the old FEMA Continuity of Government plans from the current era to rebuild the institutions of democracy, as a way to disarm the oligarchs, reestablish peace, and deal with the ongoing ravages of climate change. They then devolve their power from dictator to president in order to retire to a peaceful old age. Something like this happened in Europe towards the end of the Little Ice Age, as the ravages of crop failures and bad weather stopped sparking invasions and civil wars. It's a bit of wishful thinking, but since George Washington did it, there are precedents for the peaceful transition of power.

    Not my circus, not my monkeys. But it could be done if someone wants to make it work.

    248:

    A microcowsm of the historical approach.

    249:

    Not that she was the first to do that, by a long way...

    Making someone a knight, that was another good wheeze.

    250:

    https://theconversation.com/people-once-lived-in-a-vast-region-in-north-western-australia-and-it-had-an-inland-sea-219505

    Unlike in the rest of the world, the now-drowned continental shelves of Australia were thought to be environmentally unproductive and little used by First Nations peoples.

    But mounting archaeological evidence shows this assumption is incorrect. Many large islands off Australia’s coast – islands that once formed part of the continental shelves – show signs of occupation before sea levels rose.

    Seems entirely possible that the missing evidence is mostly underwater. A great deal of pre-modern settlement is coastal and the definition of coastal has been revised quite significantly since the time we're looking at. And another redefinition is in progress even as we speak...

    251:

    Thousands of years before ancient people in Central Eurasia learned to farm, hunter-gatherer groups in the subarctic were building some of the first permanent, fortified settlements, challenging the notion that agriculture was a prerequisite for societies to 'settle down'.

    Interesting article, thanks!

    It left me wondering if the ditch and stockade system near a river was built to keep out other humans, or animals such as bears. After all, if you've got a Siberian winter's worth of smoked fish, you've likely got the attention of all the local carnivores too...

    But I'm guessing it was an antihominid defense, most likely.

    252:

    the full cliche...

    Not my circus, not my monkeys, not my fleas.

    It's there in fiddly bits where the misery can be found. No 'big picture' dictator ever sweats the small details.

    253:

    It's there in fiddly bits where the misery can be found. No 'big picture' dictator ever sweats the small details.

    Well, I'm thinking of this from the view of a character-driven story. I figure that what I wrote was something like "imagine taking the history from this area, and using it as the basis for a story set somewhere else." That's a basic fiction technique, not something that I would (or could) cause trouble over for swiping an idea. All I'm doing is saying "yo dudes and dudettes, there's some cool story inspirations in this stuff, if you look at it thusly." There's thousands of potential ideas and characters in there. Someone makes a story on this basis, tell me where to buy it.

    To paraphrase your version, to me the circus is the story setting, with the monkeys and their fleas potential characters.

    And it's not my circus, not my monkeys, not my fleas, not my pox viruses.

    254:

    "the medieval history of Japan, which is unfamiliar to most SFF readers"

    And it shows; you have directly ignored how the Tokegawa banned firearms because any peasant with an hour's training in musketry could take down a samurai who'd spent a literal lifetime training in Bushido.

    255:

    And it shows; you have directly ignored how the Tokegawa banned firearms because any peasant with an hour's training in musketry could take down a samurai who'd spent a literal lifetime training in Bushido.

    Yes, I ignored it, because it didn't happen that way. At the end of the Shogunate, there were still 200 gunsmiths in Japan. Japan simply went from a nation with the most guns per capita in the world at the end of their civil war to a country largely at peace when Perry shoved in, a country where guns were used for hunting and crop defense, not warfare. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firearms_of_Japan#Edo_Period and https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233347578_The_Social_Life_of_Firearms_in_Tokugawa_Japan

    The trend less covered is that weapons skills of all kinds degraded during the Edo period, compared with the civil war that preceded it. This is pretty well documented by martial arts scholars like Donn Draeger. Edo Japan was mostly at peace and largely shut off from the outside world. Its martial culture atrophied accordingly.

    Finally, the Edo period comes after the medieval period, so it's triply irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

    256:

    H & Paws
    Giving up the Gun - well worth a read, though I don't think I have my copy any more ....

    257:

    However, this discussion has given me an idea. Modern multi-nationals are very like mediaeval barons before the rise of modern kingdoms, both in power and behaviour. SF has explored this idea many times before (John Christopher, the Twenty-Second Century is a classic, and strongly recommended), but I don't know of any that has explored a strong man bringing them to heel in the way that is being described here. Does that ring any bells?

    258:

    Seems entirely possible that the missing evidence is mostly underwater. A great deal of pre-modern settlement is coastal and the definition of coastal has been revised quite significantly since the time we're looking at. And another redefinition is in progress even as we speak...

    Also: uplands (in general) tend to be far from convenient transport (ie. water) and less productive for agriculture -- mostly useful for grazing/foraging/forestry.

    I find it pretty easy to conceive of neolithic period high civilizations with some degree of agriculture, trade, literature, and organization which nevertheless are completely unknown today because they didn't go in for large scale stonemasonry and today they're entirely inundated and any structures are silted over. Leaving only a scattering of crude upland crofter's lean-tos which are today mistaken for the human settlements of that era.

    259:

    Yes, but it's more than just silting over. In mediaeval times (and later), the Fenlands was one of the richest areas of Britain, and quite densely populated, but the number of cottages surviving is piffling. The same is not true of another comparable area (south Wiltshire). The reason is simply that the local materials were willow, aspen, reed, animal hair, clay and mud, and all vanish rapidly when they get wet. The surviving claybat, clunch etc. houses are all in areas that don't, ever, flood (so far).

    To people who don't know: those materials don't just make crude huts, there are plenty of multi-story houses built of them even just in England, and they last indefinitely if properly maintained. I have lived in one, a friend who lives in another near me, and know of plenty of others.

    260:

    Charlie @ 258
    The prime candidate for a submerged Neolithic civilisation is the shelf in SE Asia that is now the Gulf of Thailand, parts of the S China Sea & the wide strip Viet Nam - Hainan - Taiwan + the Yellow Sea & E China Sea on to Kyushu.
    Almost all of that would have been "dry land" during the last glaciation, as was almost all what is now sea in the Philippines, etc, excepting the narrow "trenches" which was first spotted by A F Wallace - see: Wallace's Line
    See also "Doggerland" - yes?

    261:

    a strong man bringing them to heel in the way that is being described here. Does that ring any bells?

    How does this differ from any generic empire building? Like in Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium timeline? (After CoDominium, that is.)

    262:

    Yup: I, too, was thinking Doggerland (which Steve Baxter used as the setting for a trilogy a few years ago), and also the Nile delta -- while Alexandria is suberged and there are ruined stone buildings and monuments near the coast of the Med at that point, an earlier non-stoneworking culture would almost certainly have been overbuilt.

    263:

    In Doggerland, there might even be evidence of settlements or even farming from the sudden inundation, if we could find it, which leaves evidence in a way that gradual ones don't. The usual claim is that it was populated by hunter-gatherers, but I don't see how they can tell. Bones and stone tools survive gradual inundation fairly well, but the sort of construction I was describing doesn't. I know nothing about the other areas.

    264:

    I am not a lover of Pournelle, so don't know that. But most such stories are about empires being built out of things that are far more like separate countries or collections of tribes, not the interacting co-located corporations that we have today. It makes quite a difference, not least because the strong man cannot establish a geographical base and start from there. It could happen by one corporation swallowing the others and becoming a world government, which is the premise for the Space Merchants, but that's not quite the same.

    265:

    Retiring @ 247:

    White elephants might be hard to find on Amazon. How about presenting your rivals with a micro cow?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/22/style/merry-christmas-i-got-you-a-tiny-cow.html?unlocked_article_code=1.IE0.eTnc.6szXXldybWu-&smid=url-share

    ... or a hippopotamus [YouTube]

    266:

    Moz @ 250:

    https://theconversation.com/people-once-lived-in-a-vast-region-in-north-western-australia-and-it-had-an-inland-sea-219505

    Unlike in the rest of the world, the now-drowned continental shelves of Australia were thought to be environmentally unproductive and little used by First Nations peoples.

    But mounting archaeological evidence shows this assumption is incorrect. Many large islands off Australia’s coast – islands that once formed part of the continental shelves – show signs of occupation before sea levels rose.

    Seems entirely possible that the missing evidence is mostly underwater. A great deal of pre-modern settlement is coastal and the definition of coastal has been revised quite significantly since the time we're looking at. And another redefinition is in progress even as we speak...

    I've often thought that the displacement by rising sea levels of people living in prehistoric coastal settlements accounts for the (almost?) universal flood myths?

    267:

    And the flood myths suggest that those earlier sea level rises didn't occur as a smooth transition, but in fits & starts, with some of them being rather sudden occurrences ... which in turn suggests some problems looming in our current era; i.e. if the Greenland ice sheet or ice sheets in Antarctica melt it will happen rather suddenly & catastrophically.

    268:

    Estuaries and deltas are great places to colonise until floods and storms and rising sea levels take everything from you. There's a reliable source of fresh water, usually a lot of silt from upstream if you're farming and maybe spawning fish like salmon to add copiously to your diet at times. For the rest you've got sea fishing, sea mammals hunting and shellfish which are easy to harvest and even raise as a crop, salt for preserving fish and meat and beachcombed timbers from storms for construction. Small-boat navigation provides for trade both along the coast and upstream which brings in metals, herbs, oils, pottery etc. Good times until the Gods take affront to your lack of piety and absence of offerings and then woe betide you and your tribe.

    269:

    What does "rather sudden" mean in this context?
    How long will the melting take to push up the sea level a thousand km away? I'm guessing that the rise will take quite a long time - several years. A one-metre difference across half the diameter of the planet is not a large amount. (Tides are different, because they are actively being driven.)

    270:

    waldo
    "Rather sudden" - horribly quickly if you are living beside the Euxine Lake & then, the rising Mediterranean overtops the proto-Marmara ... maybe.

    271:

    "rather sunned" likely means 2-3 years minimum, just because we're mostly talking landlocked or landbased ice. But even half a metre in 3 years would fuck a lot of ports. It would be a case of "yay, our channel got deeper" but also "oh dear we can't work at high tide because everything is under water". There would likely be some excited weather as well, but we are already good at dealing with that, just as we know how to deal with sea level rises.

    But there are consequences that we can't predict or understand. So, for example, when we get rid of the west Antarctic ice sheet that gives us a few metres, but we don't know what happens to Greenland when sea level is a few metres higher. The IPCC official position is "we dunno and we don't want to talk about it".

    The problems are more religious than practical. As noted here repeatedly, we have the technology and capacity to deal with the physical consequences, but the soft science people haven't a clue how to allow the engineers to solve the engineering problems, let alone deal with the people problems that result from problem one. So when it happens there will be huge upsets as the Holy Economy goes into another catastrophic crash and governments will borrow huge amounts of money from themselves to pay for all the damage to private property, poor people will be sacrificed in millions in the hope that Growth will come back, and India will use nuclear weapons to stop Bangladeshi refugees when their country become uninhabitable (~half the population lives less than 6m above current sea level. ~100M people...) and that's just an easy example (the Amazon basin is relatively flat, for example. Sydney is a smaller but also fairly flat basin. Florida is famously a line of sand dunes stretching out into the sea).

    272:

    Thanks, but does that not assume that the whole lump of ice (whichever lump it is) melts in a year or so, and that the sea level rise is near-instantly distributed across the globe? There's a trillion-ton iceberg in the Southern Ocean at the moment, calved from Larsen C. That trillion tons is reckoned to raise sea level by a tenth of a millimetre. I suspect that "rather sudden" may be in low decades (i.e. too slowly to make people panic enough to make a difference). (Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/5-things-to-know-about-the-trillion-ton-iceberg/)

    273:

    India will use nuclear weapons to stop Bangladeshi refugees when their country become uninhabitable

    I am certain India will not do that. Nerve gas is quite sufficient for this particular job, does not linger in the environment as long, and is unlikely to drift to any other neighboring country.

    274:

    Maybe someone who has some actual domain knowledge (i.e. not me) could critique the "Meltwater Pulse event" estimates from the related links and references to the wikipedia article Early Holocene sea level rise", including the articles on Meltwater pulse 1A and Meltwater pulse 1B.

    "a brief, at most 500-year long, glacio-eustatic event may have contributed as much as 10 m (33 ft) to sea level with an average rate of about 20 mm (0.8 in)/yr. During the rest of the early Holocene, the rate of sea level rise varied from a low of about 6.0–9.9 mm (0.2–0.4 in)/yr to as high as 30–60 mm (1.2–2.4 in)/yr during brief periods of accelerated sea level rise"

    An alarming range of estimates in this article for the seemingly locked-in 2C rise:

    The projected contribution of the Antarctic ice sheet to 21st-century global mean sea level (GMSL) ranges from negligible to several meters

    The "several meters" outlier would be terrifying.

    275:

    Quote from the Scientific American article you linked:

    Ice shelves are already floating in the water, so they don't contribute to sea-level rise in any meaningful way. Like how ice melting in a glass doesn't cause it to overflow. The Larsen C iceberg will add 0.1 millimeter in sea-level rise, so it won't be detectable. Annual sea-level rise is about 3 millimeters a year, according to Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. If the iceberg had come from land, it's large enough to make sea levels rise 3 millimeters worldwide.

    The 30 times difference (between 0.1 mm and 3 mm) is due to the fact that almost all of Larsen C was already in the sea and already displacing it by the time it split off. But if the same volume of ice which was not on land slid off into the sea, the ocean would rise by 3 mm immediately. Subsequent melting of it would make no change.

    276:

    Crap. Meant to say "same volume of ice which was on land"

    277:

    *Thanks, but does that not assume that the whole lump of ice (whichever lump it is) melts in a year or so, and that the sea level rise is near-instantly distributed across the globe? There's a trillion-ton iceberg in the Southern Ocean at the moment, calved from Larsen C. That trillion tons is reckoned to raise sea level by a tenth of a millimetre. I suspect that "rather sudden" may be in low decades (i.e. too slowly to make people panic enough to make a difference). (Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/5-things-to-know-about-the-trillion-ton-iceberg/)*

    Not the official answer, but it depends, I suspect. Ordinary ocean waves move about 10 km/hr, with big ones up to 50 km/hr. The Earth's circumference is a bit over 40,000 km, half of which is about 20,000 km. So at most the water has to move no more than 20,000 km. Assuming the water is moving at ordinary wave speeds, it can cover that distance in 400-2,000 hours, or 17-83 days-ish.

    This jibes with my vague memory of a couple of weeks to couple of months for a rise to be noticed.

    The critical thing to remember is that ice floating in water won't raise the level of the water at all when it melts. It's ice on land flowing into the sea (as either ice or water) that raises sea level.

    For a really big ice sheet dump (say, if one of those active West Antarctic sub-ice volcanoes erupts and causes a large, fast ice sheet melt), the disaster would spread too fast to be shielded against with engineering solutions, but fast enough that most people, even low islanders, could at least pack up and get on a boat, if not move to higher ground. Then world trade would grind to a halt as every port flooded, and military landing craft would be drafted to somehow lighter cargo containers to and from container ships. This would probably rank as one of the worst non-nuclear catastrophes civilization could face in the near future, with hundreds of millions of refugees, trillions of dollars in lost infrastructure, and the temporary/permanent loss of our most efficient transport system.

    I don't think we're really prepared for this one?

    278:

    »How long will the melting take to push up the sea level a thousand km away?«

    As others have said, the static sea rise works on timescales of decades, because it involves a LOT of water.

    But dynamic events are likely to do much more damage, because energy transfer in a tsunami happens at up to 800 km/h.

    So absolutely worst case the answer to your question is:

    A couple of hours.

    Trouble is, we do not really know how most of this works, and the parade of horribles we can choose from is pretty long.

    There are plenty of geologic evidence of massive amounts of water being released on very short timescales, for instance melt lakes backed up behind ice which gives away.

    We used to feel pretty calm about that scenario, assuming we would be able to spot it from orbit and deal with it, before it became a problem, even if it would take a nuke to blow away the natural obstacle before too much water accumulated.

    However, it seems that a significant amount of melt water, in particular on Greenland, drops through cracks in the ice, and apart from the "unexplained cold blob" in the North Atlantic we have almost no evidence about what happens to it next.

    For the "unexplained cold blob" we have no credible theory for how the water got from A to B, which is why it is "unexplained". Nobody really doubts that it is melt water from Greenland.

    It is therefore not impossible to imagine scenarios, where the water makes it to the base of the ice sheet and pools there, until one of the outlet glaciers gets blown out like the cork from a bottle.

    In Antarctica, if any of the ice shelves loose their grounding line, they may calmly calve huge ice floes, which each takes years or even decades to melt completely.

    But if the static pressure on the grounding line is high, we may also see a scenario where a huge area of ice, currently on land, rapidly slips into the water, skating over the former grounding line and creating a monster of a tsunami.

    One thing which can maybe make an antarctic ice shelf loose contact with their grounding line, is an incoming tsunami, so there is even a potential for a cascading disaster there.

    But again: We do not know if, when or how.

    We have few scattered measurements, but we have very good, almost continuous optical and SAR data, but worst case: A couple of hours.

    279:

    "So at most the water has to move no more than 20,000 km. Assuming the water is moving at ordinary wave speeds, it can cover that distance in 400-2,000 hours, or 17-83 days-ish."

    I think you've left something out. The water doesn't have to go there. It just piles up locally, creating a pressure difference that will force distant water levels to rise from water already nearby.

    I don't know how fast the pressure changes can propagate, but I'm prepared to believe "A hell of a lot faster than the bulk water can travel."

    JHomes

    280:

    And having posted that, it has just occurred to me that the bulk water usually doesn't move at wave speeds anyway. Mostly, in a wave, it just bounces up and down in place.

    So, a lot of unknowns.

    JHomes

    281:

    My assumption was that the water movement is indeed a wave. When a surplus of water is added in one spot, it pushes adjacent water to move, so glacial meltwater transmitting a pressure wave thousands of miles, not actual molecules.

    That said, a few years back I saw a journal article that purportedly showed which bits of coast would be see the highest sea level rise from each glacier. It wasn't always the nearest coasts, sometimes it was isolated coasts thousands of miles away. I didn't understand the mechanism at all, but since it showed up in Science, I figure that someone thought it was plausible. Presumably the fact that the Earth is not a sphere and the ocean is topographically diverse play a role.

    Here I think it's important to realize that sea level rise will be complicated in unobvious ways, effects can range from annoying to catastrophic depending on what happens, and we're definitely fucking around and finding out in about the stupidest way possible, if we like civilization. Oh well.

    282:

    " It wasn't always the nearest coasts, sometimes it was isolated coasts thousands of miles away."

    Now this, I can speak to, having heard presentations from professional geologists on the topic.

    First, when the glaciers go, the land, relieved of all that weight, will rise up, countering any local sea level rise.

    Secondly, the really big glaciers are so massive that they exert a detectable gravitational pull on the nearby waters. When the glacier goes, so does the pull. This can mean that when a glacier near one pole goes, the main sea level rise is in the other hemisphere.

    JHomes

    283:

    https://gizmodo.com/most-people-globally-support-whatever-it-takes-to-lim-1851060852

    a new survey, the largest of its kind, shows that people around the world want their governments to take action. Some 78 percent of those polled agree that it’s essential to do “whatever it takes” to limit the effects of climate change, according to the survey released on Thursday by Potential Energy, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, and other organizations. The research also gauged what messages resonated with people the most. The best one? “Later is too late.”

    Maybe it's politics that's broken?

    284:

    Now this, I can speak to, having heard presentations from professional geologists on the topic.

    Thank you for clarifying this!

    285:

    »First, when the glaciers go, the land, relieved of all that weight, will rise up, countering any local sea level rise.«

    It is far more complex than that.

    First, if you melted all of Greenland\s icecap, more than half the the melt water would end up on the southern hemisphere for reasons of gravity.

    Right now, the gravitational force from all that ice, located above the oceans, pulls water closer to Greenland, which therefore has artificially higher MSL than it would have otherwise, and the rest of the world of course have correspondingly lower MSL.

    So if you melt the ice, you get a double whammy: More water and less local gravity, so the MSL rise from melting Greenland will unproportionally be felt on the southern hemisphere.

    Then, when the Earth's crust below Greenland is relieved of all that load, it rebounds from its currently depressed state, but we dont know enough to tell what the precise consequences will be, because it depends on the exact geometric situation.

    If Greenland rises isometrically, then the effect depends mostly on the steepness of the seabed around Greenland.

    If the rebound is somewhat elastic, the coastal outline of Greenland may be pushed out, in which case it depends more on the direction of expansion.

    But again, all this happens on timescales of decades and centuries, our main trouble is likely to be the stuff which happens in hours and days.

    286:

    Merry Wossname and felicitations of the day to one and all.

    287:

    Then world trade would grind to a halt as every port flooded, and military landing craft would be drafted to somehow lighter cargo containers to and from container ships.

    Alas, that probably won't be possible these days.

    "Military landing craft" have changed a lot in the past 80 years because the way modern militaries attack fortified coasts has changed. Gone are the swarms of slow truck-carrying LC(T)s and similar from D-Day and the Pacific campaign of WW2: instead, the plans are for a rapid helicopter assault backed up by amphibious AFVs and possibly some heavier stuff carried by a handful of very fast LCACs, followed once the port facilities have been seized by roll-on/roll-off ferries and their militarized brethren carrying bulk supplies and heavy stuff.

    About the only navy I can think of that might be able to do the gigantic WW2 style "send lots of landing craft and haul everything ashore the hard way" at short notice is the PLAN, because China's plans for invading Taiwan probably assume the Taiwanese military would conduct a scorched-earth retreat from their ports, leaving nothing intact.

    So in the short term we'd be stuffed. Longer term (1-5 years) I can see an emergency surge in building the container-freight equivalent of Mulberry harbours, which did the job post-D-Day: floating harbours that were built in under a year and sailed across the English Channel in June 1944, to allow unloading of deep water ships directly onto the French beachheads. Assuming enough joined up manufacturing infrastructure survived to build the things, hook them up to railfreight distribution, and enough food production survived to keep everyone fed in the meantime ...

    288:

    Moz @ 283:

    Some 78 percent of those polled agree that it’s essential to do “whatever it takes” to limit the effects of climate change

    Maybe it's politics that's broken?

    In a sense.

    People: We must do whatever it takes to fight climate change.

    Government: OK, we'll start by doubling the cost of all carbon based fuels. Then we have to ban IC engines and burning natural gas for heat. Then...

    People: Stop, stop. We didn't mean to do that, we meant to do everthing else that doesn't inconvenience us.

    289:

    ilya187 [275] noted: "Ice shelves are already floating in the water, so they don't contribute to sea-level rise in any meaningful way."

    Unfortunately, the problem with floating ice is that as its meltwater warms from 0°C to ambient temperatures, the water expands in volume (https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/), and that greatly increases sea level rise.

    This will be a slowish process compared to what happens with sudden collapse of enormous glaciers or ice sheets, but it's going to seriously exacerbate the addition of water to the oceans by melting of terrestrial ice. A figure I've frequently seen cited for water is a 4% volume increase with warming from 20°C to 100°C (=80°C change). If I remember correctly that the volume increase is linear w.r.t. temperature, that suggests the volume increase from 0°C to 20°C is about 1/4 that amount, or 1%. Seems small, but when you consider how much water we're describing globally, it's a big deal.

    Corrections from those who know the physics better than me are welcome.

    290:

    One correction then, water is at its most dense around 4C so as it warms from 0C to 4C it actually gets more dense, not less.

    291:

    If I remember correctly that the volume increase is linear w.r.t. temperature, that suggests the volume increase from 0°C to 20°C is about 1/4 that amount, or 1%.

    What you missed is that between 0°C and 4°C (above which the ice melts) ice contracts -- the volume occupied by a given mass of water at 0°C is about 10% less than the same mass of ice at 0°C.

    So going from ice at 0°C to water at 20°C still involves a net loss of volume.

    (Offer valid for ice I only; other phases of ice not eligible for bulk discount!)

    292:

    OT: Merry Christmas or whatever other holiday you associate with the winter solstice (northern hemisphere) ... I hope it's a good one.

    And I hope those of you enjoying summer down under have a good day as well.

    293:

    And a happy Hogfatherwatch Day to you

    294:

    I see - like the Roman Legions beating the Celts.

    295:

    Hmm, you've got the presents, but it's not the year end, so... we need to rewatch Hogfather!

    296:

    waldo @ 269:

    What does "rather sudden" mean in this context?
    How long will the melting take to push up the sea level a thousand km away? I'm guessing that the rise will take quite a long time - several years. A one-metre difference across half the diameter of the planet is not a large amount. (Tides are different, because they are actively being driven.)

    Hours or days ... maybe as long as 5.714285714285714 weeks. 🙃

    I don't know how long it would take to travel from the source to somewhere like FloriDUH (for example), but when it does arrive, the rise could happen in days or weeks rather than years. Might be like a tsunami.

    I just don't think a gradual sea level rise that stretched over years would be dramatic enough to generate "flood myths". Which in turn suggests (to me) that the events we know occurred were NOT "gradual" (smooth gradient?).

    What I've been reading suggests more than a one meter rise if the Greenland Ice Sheet or the Antarctic ice cap melts. I also suspect they wouldn't just melt, but that large sections of glacier might slough off into the oceans leading to splash effects & perhaps rebound with the land beneath rising up once the weight of ice above is removed ... and maybe that would generate additional heat that accelerates the effects.

    I'm not a scientist and can't really predict HOW it's going to happen, but from what I read, the scientists can't predict it either ... just that it's going to be bad when it does (if it does).

    297:

    Re: 'I just don't think a gradual sea level rise that stretched over years would be dramatic enough to generate "flood myths".'

    Atmospheric rivers apparently carry more water faster than ocean currents. I'm not clear on how these 'rivers' form, strengthen or wend their way across the globe but based on the increasing number of extreme rain/snow events in recent years I think we need to get a better understanding of this climate feature.

    298:

    Moz @ 271:

    "rather sunned" likely means 2-3 years minimum, just because we're mostly talking landlocked or landbased ice. But even half a metre in 3 years would fuck a lot of ports. It would be a case of "yay, our channel got deeper" but also "oh dear we can't work at high tide because everything is under water". There would likely be some excited weather as well, but we are already good at dealing with that, just as we know how to deal with sea level rises.

    The largest U.S. Naval base is Norfolk, VA. A one meter sea level rise would put the entire base under water, along with a considerable part of eastern Virginia & you can kiss the outer banks of North Carolina goodbye. In fact, a one meter sea level rise would drown just about EVERY U.S. Naval base on the east & gulf coasts.

    Say what you will about the U.S., but the current global economy is pretty much based on "freedom of the seas" with the U.S. Navy being the primary enforcer. What happens when the "cop on the beat" can no longer walk that beat?

    Think China is going to step up to keep the sea lanes open?

    But there are consequences that we can't predict or understand. So, for example, when we get rid of the west Antarctic ice sheet that gives us a few metres, but we don't know what happens to Greenland when sea level is a few metres higher. The IPCC official position is "we dunno and we don't want to talk about it".

    Consider knock on effects - once the weight of that ice sheet is off of Antarctica, what happens to the land underneath? Does it rebound? Does that rebound affect OTHER ice accumulations in Antarctica? How?

    Ever noticed how the level of liquid in a glass changes when you add ice to it? Ice has more volume than the water it's made from - MELTED ice wouldn't cause quite the sea level rise that sloughing off the glaciers would cause, so sea levels might subside slightly after the ice melts.

    But that makes another problem. Are the fish in the sea going to be able to cope with the sudden change in salinity?

    The problems are more religious than practical. As noted here repeatedly, we have the technology and capacity to deal with the physical consequences, but the soft science people haven't a clue how to allow the engineers to solve the engineering problems, let alone deal with the people problems that result from problem one. So when it happens there will be huge upsets as the Holy Economy goes into another catastrophic crash and governments will borrow huge amounts of money from themselves to pay for all the damage to private property, poor people will be sacrificed in millions in the hope that Growth will come back, and India will use nuclear weapons to stop Bangladeshi refugees when their country become uninhabitable (~half the population lives less than 6m above current sea level. ~100M people...) and that's just an easy example (the Amazon basin is relatively flat, for example. Sydney is a smaller but also fairly flat basin. Florida is famously a line of sand dunes stretching out into the sea).

    I just don't think we do have the "technology and capacity to deal with the physical consequences" ... other than we might be able to dodge the bullet IF we can get carbon emissions under control.

    But is that going to happen?

    299:

    ilya187 @ 273:

    "India will use nuclear weapons to stop Bangladeshi refugees when their country become uninhabitable"

    I am certain India will not do that. Nerve gas is quite sufficient for this particular job, does not linger in the environment as long, and is unlikely to drift to any other neighboring country.

    What evidence exists that India has sufficient stockpiles of nerve gas? I know they have nuclear weapons.

    ... and nerve gas (even the breakdown products from non-persistent agents) does linger in the environment.

    Think toxic pesticide residues, since "nerve gas" was originally discovered as a byproduct from insecticide research. If it can kill bugs, it can also kill people.

    300:

    Charlie noted [291]: "What you missed is that between 0°C and 4°C (above which the ice melts) ice contracts -- the volume occupied by a given mass of water at 0°C is about 10% less than the same mass of ice at 0°C."

    Yet the 4% figure is the net increase over 80°C, which includes the contraction you mentioned. The effect of the change from 0 to 4°C is larger when the temperature changes from 0 to 20°C (4/20 = 20% of the temperature span) than when it changes from 20 to 100°C (4/80 = 5% of the temperature span). So my back of the envelope calculation for 0 to 20°C is an overestimate, but doesn't produce a net decrease as meltwater warms to ambient temperatures.

    Don't believe me? Try JPL: "About half of the measured global sea level rise on Earth is from warming waters and thermal expansion." (https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/how-warming-water-causes-sea-level-rise/)

    301:

    Re: 'Atmospheric rivers ...'

    Also thermosphere changes - we're approaching maximum sunspot activity and I'm curious how all the space junk at different levels of our atmosphere might be interacting with these solar rays.

    Another reason for looking at all of the different atmosphere layers is that a few storms in the past couple of years actually grew beyond the lower atmosphere level. The location of clouds matters - the higher they are, the more they can contribute to warming.

    https://climatekids.nasa.gov/cloud-climate/

    I was half-expecting to be shoveling snow today but it's actually been pretty calm and dry for the beginning of official winter over here. Time for a glass of wine and ...

    Merry Christmas/winter-holiday-of-your-choice to all!

    302:

    Past the blessed point of 300, I'll provide the following.

    Over the past twoish years I've been following the wind power going into the Texas ERCOT grid and a European one:

    https://www.ercot.com/gridmktinfo/dashboards/combinedwindandsolar

    https://windeurope.org/about-wind/daily-wind-archive/

    And noticed that in that time, roughly 1 November 2021 until now, the wind contribution to both has been slightly declining. Was this some sort of artifact of the reporting that begins with wind blowing, turbines spinning, power being put into the grid, policy, business considerations etc. and ends with the numbers seen? Or what?

    It seems to be a real decline and associated with El Niño.

    https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/us-wind-power-generation-breaks-out-summer-doldrums-2023-09-08/

    Excerpts:

    The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), and the Southwest power pool recorded wind power drops of 2.3%, 8.9% and 1.3% respectively in the first eight months of 2023 from the same period in 2022, LSEG data shows.

    The key factor behind the below-average wind speeds in 2023 has been the El Nino weather pattern that has led to a warming in Pacific Ocean water temperatures, lower pressure in subtropical areas and a slowing in the trade winds across the United States.

    Average U.S. wind speeds in key wind power generation areas were between 1 and 3 meters per second below the long term average in May of 2023, according to an analysis by Climate Impact Company using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    303:

    Heteromeles @ 277:

    The problem, as I see it, is how do you get the "flood myths" out of a sea level rise that takes place over decades?

    That suggests to me that prior sea level rise events did not take place gradually over decades, but sporadically with some events appearing quite suddenly with the sea level changing rapidly, within days instead of decades.

    Cascades of change rather than change as a steady state.

    Which in turn suggests future events will not produce steady state, gradual changes either. Changes will be sudden and dramatic if/when they come.

    305:

    The problem, as I see it, is how do you get the "flood myths" out of a sea level rise that takes place over decades?

    That suggests to me that prior sea level rise events did not take place gradually over decades, but sporadically

    Yes, note that the myths in question came from Mesopotamia and, maybe, the Nile region. I think that they arose from flooding events happening because of upriver high rains or, in the case of the Tigris and Euphrates, perhaps burst natural dams upstream.

    306:

    Thanks to everyone who responded. It will take me a little while to digest some of that.

    One thing which does come to mind is that we can expect more tsunamis later this century, especially where the ice retreat is sudden, because of rebound-driven instability.

    307:

    »Which in turn suggests future events will not produce steady state, gradual changes either. Changes will be sudden and dramatic if/when they come.«

    Probably more like "steady gradual change with significant transients"

    308:

    What evidence exists that India has sufficient stockpiles of nerve gas? I know they have nuclear weapons.

    I was not being serious. My post was a morbid joke.

    OTOH, was Moz serious in #271?

    309:

    once the weight of that ice sheet is off of Antarctica, what happens to the land underneath?

    It can become a difficult-to-predict sources of greenhouse gasses. The premise is that glaciers and ice sheets suppress volcanism where there are known active volcanos under them. Iceland now appears to have eruptions every year, including the one that threatened Reykjavik with toxic volcanic gas a few days ago. Not clear whether it's a tipping point issue, the volume of gas is small compared to what humans have been doing, but there are a lot of volcanos in high latitudes.

    The other effects are, I think, already discussed - earthquakes and subsequently tsunamis.

    310:

    =+=+=+=+=

    Kardashev 302:

    your typo is all too frequently seen; ERCOT really stands for ==> Electric (non)Reliability Council of Texas

    their unconfirmed motto ==> “any year we don't kill hundreds of Texans is a better year than expected

    =+=+=+=+=

    Charlie Stross 287:

    would not be too bad, every government will proclaim;

    there's enough foodstuffs locally produced for most folk; loss of variety in choices but sufficient calories on hand; hoarding and profiteering and shortages will push prices upwards of 50% in first weeks; exotics such canned pineapple will go from affordable snacks to overpriced luxuries;

    net result? involuntary weight loss as everyone in developed nations actually endure individually self-imposed rationing; with sustained low grade panic in developing nations (witness, Cuba and Venezuela which are instances of ongoing calories/protein shortages due to incompetent governmental policies)

    laptops and other high value slash low bulk goods being most critical will be air freight; that's nominally 10X as expensive; considering there are so many airports along low lying coastlines (there's Kansai International Airport, located on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay as one example) along with access roads and electrical cabling and data cabling, going to be spike in volume at airports not damaged; air freight will (at least triple) in costs as airlines-airports-shippers all take this opportunity to gouge desperate customers;

    it is nations such as Saudi Arabia (which is not just a net importer of foodstuffs but massively so) which will be squeezed between their own ports damaged (import arriving) and ports of USA and other bulk grain producers (export departing) losing significant capacity; if you-all recall those 'bread riots' occurring at various moments over the prior 40Y, now imagine what happens when a third (half?) of wheat-corn-barley-etc fail to arrive; If you think Beirut post-megaboom was bad or the horrid conditions in here-n-now Gaza are inhumane, wait till the non-wealthy masses in net importers of foodstuffs who will be giving voice to notions of stew-potting those wealthy and/or plump;

    but what nobody on this blog mention is flooding of lands near to coastlines, where roads and railroads are to be found; a washed out or undermined asphalt road could be patched in a couple days with precast concrete chunks and uncountable tons of gravel with new asphalt poured atop; but not so easy to repair railroads given the higher densities of freight placing higher stresses upon load bearing features;

    salt water soaked soils behave differently than if sweet water; sustained flooding does more damage over longer term than temporary flooding as a region's soil passively soaks up more, spreading the water in all directions;

    death of trees ten miles inland of coastlines should be expected due to shallow slopes and soil soakage and interconnected aquifers; short term losses of foliage raising local temperatures in summer as well zero harvest of fruits 'n nuts; over long term (3Y? 8Y?), you should brace yourself as roots rot and soil starts sliding down any subtle slopes into valleys, onto roads and blocking rivers; all of which will destroy more roads, data cables, electrical cables, damage additional sections of railroads;

    some insect species will welcome humid, muggy conditions with lots 'n lots of mucky puddles; we will not be ready for infectious spreads; malaria along coastlines of North America as far up as Virginia...

    ...now excuse me as I scream into my pillow because the American medical industry is not ready to treat 5+ million cases of malaria

    =+=+=+=+=

    311:

    almost forgot...

    river deltas would be destabilized; the Mississippi would be temporarily impassible; ditto other major rivers;

    ditto, the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal; the former has two ends which are effectively river deltas whereas the latter is sea level and much of it not properly lined;

    changes in tidal patterns will delay efforts at harbor restoration;

    312:

    how do you get the "flood myths" out of a sea level rise that takes place over decades?

    From people who deal in timescales longer than an electoral cycle?

    Sorry to harp on, but the fucking "flood myths" in Australia refer very bloody obviously to ~15kya when sea levels rose about 100m. They're myths in the sense that no-one thought to carve descriptions of the events into stone tablets in English and stash them up a mountain in what would later be known as the Middle East. Ooops.

    But allegedly there are similar tales about Doggerland and that probably also flooded a bit more every year until eventually Britain had left Europe :)

    313:

    I might be spending too much time around Muslims who've left India for various reasons, and a couple of liberal elite Hindu types from the south, but they seem to think it's a very real possibility. Modi is a Hindu nationalist who is a moderate centrist in the same way that Netanyahu is... he has people in his government who are utterly fucking bonkers by normal standards, so he is quite centrist in his government. He's also not fond of the scum and vermin who keep crossing Mighty India's borders without permission, and has designs for a Hindutva "Greater India" that have some of the currently-independent states that occupy lands outside todays borders less than impressed.

    Modi's powerbase is the poor, mostly Hindu states, mostly in the northern 2/3 of India. The rich parts of the country tend culturally hindu and liberal (Tamil Nadu and Kerala are kind of the California equivalent of the US), the hicks in the hills not so much. Listening to the Hindi-speaking technically-Hindu Keralan kids talking about what's going on back home is scarily like listening to liberal Jews or left-wing USians talk about those countries. They're way past "maybe Modi will calm down" and into "maybe he'll accept losing an election, and be replac ed by someone more moderate".

    Would Modi use nukes if Indias conventional military couldn't hold back the tide? I fear it's likely. USA people think... would Trump use nukes on Mexico if central+south americans were crossing the border in millions and the US military wasn't able to hold them back? That's a similar question.

    314:

    The problem, as I see it, is how do you get the "flood myths" out of a sea level rise that takes place over decades?

    You don't.

    The problem is that flood myths DO NOT all spring from a single cause. There's a laundry list of historical precedents in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flood_myth , and it doesn't include the Australian coastal loss or other sunken lands.

    315:

    In the spirit of morbid humour...

    Surely the people with big red buttons have learned the lesson of Maralinga: If you want to render an area rapidly (and lastingly, on a decadal scale) uninhabitable, wrap your physics package in cobalt :-(

    As demonstrated by Evil Pommy Bastards (TM).

    Who apparently didn't bother telling the locals what they had done, so as to find out how discoverable unanticipated high level gamma would or wouldn't be.

    316:

    refer very bloody obviously to ~15kya

    Bloody obviously? To me it is bloody obvious that no information can survive oral transmission for that long without being utterly mutated. Want a nice example? Dukljan. And that's a lot less than 15kya.

    317:

    https://www.theissue.io/how-bad-is-climate-change-going-to-get-you-dont-want-to-know/

    Startling new landmark research has just been published. It's conclusion? Half of our economies could be destroyed by 2070. Let me emphasize that again: 50% of GDP. By 2070. Gone. Burned, drowned, incinerated, levelled, flooded. How bad is that? It's even worse...than it might sound. I'm going to put that in context for you in just a moment, but first I want you to understand why this research matters, beginning with the source.

    Where does this research come from? "Alarmists"? An advocacy group? Activists? Is it based on tenuous logic and cherry-picked data? It comes from a place that's about as sober and serious and conservative a group of professionals as you can get. The British Institute of...Actuaries.

    Professionally boring people think we're on target to halve global GDP, even accounting for the boost provided by the ever-increasing number of disasters that the climate catastrophe entails. Somehow I suspect this news won't percolate into the minds of the people who've looked at "we must reach net zero by 2030" and said "consider accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and begin phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies".

    319:

    Re: 'The British Institute of...Actuaries.'

    Yeah - quite a few US insurance companies are no longer offering insurance in high climate risk areas. The below is one of the Politico related sites' article on US Gov't reviewing insurers' data re: risks, insurance premiums and payouts. (If for-profit insurers opt out, all of the onu$ is on the Fed Gov't.)

    Just saw a couple of weather related headlines re: UK - lots of massive storms. Hope everyone is okay.

    https://www.eenews.net/articles/insurers-face-wave-of-inquiries-over-climate-risks/

    re: Flood myths

    Weird how so many of the flood myths talk about how the entire populace became evil, therefore all had to be punished/destroyed except for one 'good' man. No mention of evil kings/nobility being the root cause of calamities in these myths, i.e., forests destroyed to build prestige structures. (Easter Island - Inhabitants possibly moved the massive stone sculptures on rolling logs but no evidence around now of any large palm trees on that island.)

    The only weather/climate related myth that I'm aware of where a nation survived is a drought in the Bible: Joseph interprets the Pharoah's dream and the Pharoah implements a plan to store enough food to see his kingdom through a drought-caused famine.

    Danged ... forgot that the Pharoah in Webber's musical sang a la Elvis: 'Song of the King (Seven Fat Cows) Joseph Technicolor'.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51f9uEYGeKw

    320:

    You are correct. Once upon a time I could have explained more (but not more than the principles) of P and S wave propagation etc. For an interesting programme on the consequences, look at Attenborough's Dinosaurs: The Final Day (on BBC iPlayer).

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0016djt/dinosaurs-the-final-day-with-david-attenborough

    321:

    Want a nice example? Dukljan.

    I am getting "404 file not found"

    Here is unmasked URL: https://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2023/12/Dukljan

    322:

    SFReader 319:

    your choice of cliches:

    canary in the coal mine

    or

    rats deserting a sinking ship

    either way, brutal mode of math, nobody does more analysis of risk than insurance providers... as demonstrated by spiking insurance premiums for freighters seeking to use the Suez Canal at a time of "uncertainty"

    323:

    There's nothing of that name on my server. A quick DuckDuckGo reveals this but I've no idea if it's relevant.

    324:

    If for-profit insurers opt out, all of the onu$ is on the Fed Gov't.

    Apparently private insurers refusing to cover property in disaster zones is the fault of Woke Corporations™, and the solution is either laws to force them to provide coverage at previous rates so the Invisible Hand of the Market™ can work its magic, or for the government to stop this Socialist Plot™ by providing coverage*.

    Not quite sarcasm, but actual talking points from various Republican communications I've received over the last year or so. (OK, I did add the ™s, but the capitalization is all their's.)

    *But only coverage in Red States — Blue States don't deserve it and must be prevented from Wasting Public Resources™.

    325:

    Will Modi use nukes on Bangladesh to stop them from coming over the ineffective wall he built to keep them out of Bengal?

    Hah, no. Distance wise, it's the same problem as the US nuking Tijuana to stop the flow of immigrants: it'd nuke San Diego on the other side of the border, particularly the North Island Naval base where the SEALs train. Lots of people live on both side of the border. And more migrants would brave crossing the rubble if you did nuke it.

    I agree that mass migration is an existential problem for nation-states. The simple reason is that huge numbers of desperate people flooding in and settling an area destroys one of the pillars of statehood, which is the guarantee of citizen property rights. This falls apart when there are desperate squatters everywhere.

    Right now, the right-wing solutions to mass migration tend to look like what Israelis are doing to the Palestinians. It's a bloody horrible mess, and it's not solving anything.

    That said, I wonder if anyone in India is profiteering of the labor of illegal migrant Bangladeshis and Pakistanis? And how much money they're contributing to Modi? That's a constant theme here, that Big Ag is politically well-connected, and they favor policies that drive down labor costs, such as making their workers illegal, so that they can be exploited. I suspect that's the hidden agenda behind the migrant noise

    327:

    Will Modi use nukes on Bangladesh to stop them from coming over the ineffective wall he built to keep them out of Bengal?

    Morality aside, you don't need to use nukes to stop immigrants. As long as your army follows orders, machine guns are more than enough.

    328:

    It's an example of how the historic Roman emperor Diocletian turned into a Satan-like figure of Serbian folklore, in less than 2000 years. And that's in relative proximity to people who had actual books about the real Diocletian. The idea that oral transmission in Australia will retain a historical artifact for 15,000 years is preposterous.

    329:

    Bangladesh is often used as the poster child of future disasters, but consider this:

    The Bangladeshi birth rate is now below replacement level, so it population, currently growing at 1 % per year will level off and start to decline.

    Bangladeshes' GDF/head go pop is higher than India's.

    And using natural techniques such as laying out old tires and seeding them with shellfish to form natural seawalls, and building hedges with cut brush to slow the flow of the Ganges and have it drop its silt, they are actually reclaiming land from the Ganges delta. By flooding and silt deposition, they can raise their delta land faster than sea-level rise.

    330:

    It's an example of how the historic Roman emperor Diocletian turned into a Satan-like figure of Serbian folklore, in less than 2000 years. And that's in relative proximity to people who had actual books about the real Diocletian. The idea that oral transmission in Australia will retain a historical artifact for 15,000 years is preposterous.

    I think you're assuming that all information is transmitted equally. It's not, and IIRC, there's been some research on this.

    Politics age badly, both because few know or care about who ran the place decades, let alone millennia, ago. and because old politics is really easy to recycle and warp into modern agitprop, because few know or care about the past.

    Conversely, information about natural phenomena, particularly stories about tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, lasts a very long time, not only because there are often physical remnants of the event, but there's good reason to remember. And disaster stories are memorable. Volcanologists have learned to solicit, and investigate, volcano folklore for just this reason.

    This DOES NOT MEAN that all Flood Myths describe actual floods. I think there's good reason to disbelieve Noah and Deucalion. They're both physically impossible and take place early in the mythical human history.

    IIRC (Moz or Damian, feel free to correct me) In Australia, the flood stories that attracted interest were where the natives described lands that are now underwater but were once dry land. They still owned those lands, and they expected to be around and own them if the ocean receded again. And subsequent geological studies were consistent with their stories. An also, it's quite likely that the water was/is clear enough that the sunken lands are visible from the surface, so evidence might well be visible. None of this is true for the story of Noah.

    331:

    Bangladeshes' GDF/head go pop is higher than India's.

    Should be:

    Bangladeshes' GDP/head of pop is higher than India's.

    Fucking Auto correct.

    332:

    Here's a dry academic report plus a pop media one. It's not exactly secret knowledge.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440323000997 This paper supports arguments that the longevity of orality can exceed ten millennia

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/sep/16/indigenous-australian-storytelling-records-sea-level-rises-over-millenia Sunshine Coast University marine geographer Patrick Nunn and University of New England linguist Nicholas Reid believe that 21 Indigenous stories from across the continent faithfully record events between 18,000 and 7000 years ago, when the sea rose 120m.

    Reid said a key feature of Indigenous storytelling culture – a distinctive “cross-generational cross-checking” process – might explain the remarkable consistency in accounts passed down by preliterate people which researchers previously believed could not persist for more than 800 years.

    333:

    Re: '... actual talking points from various Republican communications'

    Corps that can't figure out how to operate their businesses in a new normal (in this case, a climate crisis) should be wound down. That's the reality of operating in a market economy.

    Curious about which orgs have donated how much to these candidates/parties and how much these corps have collected in free Gov't money over the years, plus what messes they've created but refuse to accept responsibility for so the Gov't ends up footing the bill.

    HowardNYC @ 322:

    Re: 'Canary or rat'

    Both.

    Heteromeles @ 330:

    '... quite likely that the water was/is clear enough that the sunken lands are visible from the surface, so evidence might well be visible.'

    Really liked the story about Mexico where a major city entirely overgrown by forest was discovered using specialized imaging. LiDar can penetrate through some sand but gets expensive pretty fast ($7-$12 thousand/day) and the area that would have to be imaged in Australia is likely a lot bigger.

    334:

    Despite some opinions Australia is almost 100% inhabited, in the sense that it's very hard to go anywhere and not find evidence of habitation. That both lends support to the miners and pastoralists who say "if we're going to operate at all we have to be allowed to destroy that evidence" and makes it hard to avoid finding said evidence if you look for it.

    What happens at least sometimes, and in the ideal case, is that the local people still exist and have some knowledge of the area they're in, so researchers can ask them about the best places to look. So the starting point for everything from "where's the best place to build a house" to "where would we find really old evidence of human habitation" is "ask David, he's the senior traditional owner for this area" and expect to spend some quality time wandering round listening to old people tell you stories about shit they definitely never saw themselves. "anciently a dragon ate a unicorn and buried it under this hill, and the anus pokes out of the surface there, but none shall enter the anus for cultural reasons. You can, though, because you're not real". Boffin wanders off to weirdly anus-shaped outcropping and discovers... something interesting. A volcanic plug with bones in the cave or whatever.

    I've had enough first nations people tell me that they only know a little bit of their groups recent history, and regularly find signs of older groups living in "their" area to assume that it's somewhere between a trope and a statement of the bleeding obvious.

    The fun imaging stuff is the underwater archaeology stuff and people are very seriously looking at the shallow seabed (accessible to SCUBA or cheap ROVs) for sites where they might expect to find old stuff. And finding it.

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/archaeology-underwater-australia-180975235/

    335:

    The thing about societal scaffolding is a bit odd. Why would the societies in other continents not also have adopted that approach if it was more effective and made the society more robust to calamity? Why only Australians?

    Also, what proportion of stories told correlate with events that can be verified. If humans make enough stories up some of them will have occurred before. Cotrrelation is not causality.

    Actually, I found the dry academic read fun. I feel very sorry for people working in such fields that they have to work with such dodgy sources and accounts (one of their key accounts they pretty much described as rubbish, but its all they have) and, also, sometimes working so far out of their comfort zones of knowledge - especially regarding astronomy. Yes, a star near the south celestial pole might be the South Star but, if you don't assume European usage of the term (pole stars change over a 1000 years or so - just nip back to the time of Stonehenge and things were very different, indeed the Southern Cross rose in the UK) it could mean a bright star due south and touching the horizon at dawn, midnight or dusk - the sign of the solstice and the changing seasons. Its doesn't have to be what we assume it to be.

    As for the flooded channel between Tasmania and Australia, yeah possible but floods would be a reasonably regular occurrence and turn lands into sea for a while. It could just as easily be an admonition to build settlements on elevated land and avoid flood plains. I'm pretty certain tsunamis would also leave a pretty strong feed into oral histories - assuming the people maintaining the memory were just out of the damaged area...

    I'm sorry, I too cannot help feeling that with an oral history every generation would see a few extra words or a little detail or emphasis would creep in, or slip away, making the fine detail unsafe after 3-4 generations and the bigger feature shaky after 10 or so.

    I don't think you need to think earlier generations are special in some way to respect them and what they went through to survive. They were just people like you and me.

    336:

    Kardashev @ 305:

    "The problem, as I see it, is how do you get the "flood myths" out of a sea level rise that takes place over decades?"
    "That suggests to me that prior sea level rise events did not take place gradually over decades, but sporadically"

    Yes, note that the myths in question came from Mesopotamia and, maybe, the Nile region. I think that they arose from flooding events happening because of upriver high rains or, in the case of the Tigris and Euphrates, perhaps burst natural dams upstream.

    That might account for flood myths arising out of the middle east, but what about OTHERS?

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

    337:

    Also, it's is fucking weird to me that when I'm cycle touring and meet first nations people, they're so willing to talk about this stuff and the stuff they talk about is so old. Except when it's colonisation trauma stories and those are pretty fucking awful as a rule. But the history stuff is generally fascinating, even when it's history-of-trauma.

    It's not so much "tell me the story" and more like they say "camp down here" and I ask some random why question and they tell me a story from when they were a kid and pretty soon we're in the weeds of local history. It just feels as if there is always that local history sitting out in the open if you're willing to listen to it.

    In some ways it's got to be archaology on easy mode: go somewhere, ask the first black person you see "so what about this here then" and get told the local places of interest and likely shown the more obvious signs of ancientness. The local quarry complete with multiple different types of tools so you dig around and after a bit have a timeline that runs off the end of carbon dating and you're like "I am most good archy ologiser!"

    338:

    Why only Australians?

    Because Australia has been pretty isolated for a long time, and it's more or less one culture. There haven't been waves of random visitors coming and going for the last 50 millennia, and for various reasons there haven't been lots of locals wars and invasions. So we have the continuous culture thing going on that you just don't get in, say, Constantinople or Athens.

    One advantage of an oral history is that it's harder to remove other than by genocide. Wherever you have a decent family group their history will persist. Unlike, say, the quipu or linear scripts where by accident or design knowledge of how to read the text has been lost.

    You're not alone in thinking that accurate oral history is fucking weird and unlikely, but it might be useful to remember that you're not the only one. The research being done is explicitly in the face of wholescale disbelief, not least because it's being done in a country that until recently classified the people keeping that oral history as vermin to be exterminated or if they were particilarly woke and liberal, as a dying race to be comforted as they inevitably became extinct (... through a programme of child theft, murder, cultural destruction and slavery. Ahem).

    339:

    »I think there's good reason to disbelieve Noah and Deucalion. They're both physically impossible[…]«

    There is a hypothesis which says that the Strait of Gibraltar was once a dam, and at some point it crashed down and created the Mediterranean Sea as we know it today.

    As far as I know, there is not enough evidence to rule either way on that hypothesis.

    Most of the stuff you will read about that hypothesis is very sensationalist, assuming tens if not hundred meters surface level differences and that the area was full of people and agriculture etc. That really gives the illustrator of your rag something good to work with.

    In reality, a surface level difference of just two meter would have made it a major catastrophe already, because a lot of the coasts are very shallow and the tides come on top.

    A boat ending on top of a hill in such a scenario is not impossible either, there will have been some transient effects. in particular when the wave starts to reflect and resonate.

    Religious fanatics embellishing a story, from a few household animals on a small hill, to one of every kind of animal on a tall mountain is not impossible either.

    So not quite "physically impossible", but certainly not even close to what the religious fanatics have made canon.

    340:

    »Half of our economies could be destroyed by 2070«

    Given that UN IPCC predicts 100M deaths per degree K average temperature rise, for the first 2K, and growing after that, I wouldn't bet on there being "economies" to compare with in 45 years.

    341:

    I come from Aotearoa, so I grew up with a hard line in the sand "no people here immediately after Hatepe" so a very recent history. Maori arrived and populated the country well into recorded history, and "ancient" describes the British invasion of the 1800's. So I grew up with human history being short and mostly accessible.

    Then I moved to Australia and things are different here. It's culture shock, but it's layered and one of the layers is "OMG they have history in the sense of like deep time history and shit some of this stuff is, like, old. You know, like, really, really old". This is not "whakapapa going back 18 generations is a long time" old, this is "my ancestors, my history, have only been here 10,000 years, before that was someone else" old.

    Part of my interest, part of why I have read about this stuff, is that it boggles my mind.

    342:

    I think it's more that this report comes from very boring conservative people who don't like unquantifiable risks and are the best experts we have for answering questins like "how much will it cost to deal with X" even if we're not entirely sure what X is.

    They also feed directly into a very important question that underpins a whole lot of economic activity, from "can I borrow money to buy this new geek toy" to "can I get government approval to build this new suburb", specifically the "how much will insurance cost" question. And increasing the answer is not "this much money" but "no you can't buy insurance". Which fundamentally breaks a lot of assumptions in both the economy and society.

    Hopefully this is the sort of news that makes people switch away from "climate change is a huge problem and we should do whatever it takes to avoid it, but I personally will not change my lifestyle or pay any cost to do that". It's not so much that the persuasive power of the report is significant, as that the persuasive power of "your home is uninsurable because it is almost certainly going to burn down/wash away/disintegrate in the next 10 years" is significant.

    Right now we just had a local reddit thread about a newspaper article. Article profiled some 'voluntary simplicity' types who act as though the climate crisis is actually real. Response was often negative, both about the people/lifestyle, and in rejecting the idea that the crisis might require action. Eyerolling to most of us, but worth remembering when you ask why 90% of voters want to burn the place to the ground.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/AusFinance/comments/18pive5/we_are_not_hardcore_hippies_why_our_family_chose/

    343:

    Doesn't some of that hold true for parts of south America and even the less hospitable parts of west coast USA?

    344:

    There is a hypothesis which says that the Strait of Gibraltar was once a dam, and at some point it crashed down and created the Mediterranean Sea as we know it today. ...As far as I know, there is not enough evidence to rule either way on that hypothesis.

    Google Messinian Salinity Crisis (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messinian_salinity_crisis ) which was when Gibraltar closed from 5.96 to 5.33 million years ago, and the Zanclean flood (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanclean_flood ) which is when Gibraltar opened again 5.33 million years ago and reflooded the Basin.

    The evidence for this is extremely good and dates from the 1960s and 1970s. It's found throughout the floor of the Mediterranean basin in the form of massive beds of evaporites (minerals that form when water evaporates), evidence in the sediments that some of them were blown about by wind, and evidence of massive, deeply cut, river canyons at the mouth of the Nile and every other old river.

    At about 5,330,000 years ago, the Zanclean deluge is about a thousand times too old to be the source of the Noah story. The dry Med and the Zanclean flood has inspired its own fiction: Julian May's Saga of Pliocene Exile, Garrett and Hadron's Gandalara Cycle, Turtledove's "Down in the Bottomlands," and probably a bunch of others

    345:

    "one culture" not so much, but also the colonial genocide seems to have been more effective in America. Admittedly that one was mostly disease, the colonisers were more or less picking off the survivors, at least from what I know.

    I'm just going off the way we have multiple named civilisations in the Americas, and talk about "first peoples" where in Australia more like "THE aboriginal people". And it's not just ignorance of the differences, while first nations people make sarcastic remarks about trying to sell the "Koori News" paper outside Koori country (real story) they mostly seem to regard the difference as small. They do distinguish Torres Strait Islanders from Aborigines, put it that way, so it's not as though there's no difference anywhere.

    But we are drawing lines on a map that doesn't really have them - not just in the sense that tradtionally Australia has overlapping physical responsibilities (much as today we have mining and pastoral leaseholds on the same land), but also the way culture shifts as you go north, becoming distinctly maritime/micronesian and then you hit PNG and the cultural wheels fall off (they have actual mountains and continuous cultures, in the strong sense of plural cultures. 7000 culture/language groups in an area more similar in size to the UK than Asia).

    346:

    Personally, my preference would be to live another century (sans crippling pain of worsening joints). An all too common refrain amongst folks 50-plus: “If I had known I'd live this long I would have taken better care of my teeth”.

    There's been chatter here about extended mortality -- a stepping stone in the quest for full out-n-out immortality -- which we ought consider in terms of effects upon society's ruling elite. If they each could see themselves alive to celebrate 300th birthdays would they be better or worse at planning for crisis upon the longer term? Climate change will hurt any born after 1990 and devastate those born after 2020 and become a horrendous 'newer world order' for people born after 2050.

    At this moment, those amongst our ruling elite with the most potency in influence (as distinct from direct power) could alter policy-making but decline to do so since their expectation is to be dead prior to 2050, never mind 2080 or 2110 or 2140.

    But how would they react (and scheme and profit) if they were certain to be alive in 2240?

    347:

    Why would the societies in other continents not also have adopted that approach if it was more effective and made the society more robust to calamity? Why only Australians?

    Well that's a bit loaded and needs unpacking. I don't think anyone is claiming that oral traditions are more effective at passing on knowledge than any other way, merely that they are in fact effective. We know this less because we have encountered it in the study of First Nations cultures (relatively recently... we were quite blind to it for the centuries of the colonial era), but rather more because European history and pre-history is full of it.

    See, for instance, Socrates:

    [Y]ou, who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.

    Or the Homeridae. It's well known and not controversial that The Iliad preserves details of literacy that survived intact across a non-literate span time in Aegean cultures. The act of writing down the Homeric epics is a historical event, but being some of the most studied text in history, it's reasonably well understood how well protected against changes to the substance and actual syntax they were through dozens of generations of oral retelling (just not the hundreds-to-thousands we see in Australia).

    TL;DR there is completely non-controversial background knowledge of ancient European cultures well known in the study of ancient history that shows oral traditions could be very effective at preserving detail over arbitrarily large timeframes. There are countless examples, it is just an area of knowledge that is somewhat muted in mainstream modern Western culture because it contradicts some self-image-related big thoughts that people have and are attached to.

    I don't think you need to think earlier generations are special in some way to respect them

    That's actually the key to understanding this stuff. What you need here is to understand that earlier generations were very similar to us in their mental capacity and ability to think critically. That doesn't mean you need to think they are special, quite the opposite. But instead we seem to be required to think they were stupid; there just isn't really evidence for that.

    The story Auricoma refers to above to me reads as being about how creative cultures can re-use stories where the facts have limited value, but there are useful purposes to put the story to. That's not really an example or counter example of oral tradition transmission of knowledge; it's more about the way people will put things to work. Using it to declare that therefore oral transmission of knowledge cannot work anywhere is obviously absurd. Going on to say that if these Europeans couldn't manage it, then Australian aborigines definitely couldn't is most likely racist (presumably ignorant rather than malicious), but I'm not inclined to cast asparagus, not knowing how small a box that statement came out of.

    On the other hand there's a lot of material supporting the strength of memory-based forms of knowledge transmission. There's a whole genre of material about modern memory sports, which look to uninitiated observers like miraculous "natural" talents, but which turn out to be like any skill, where most people can get good at it with practice. The whole point is there are techniques and modern memory techniques would be very familiar to, say, Socrates, to sons-of-Homer and to ancient peoples everywhere.

    348:

    Thank you for that.

    It's the first actual Gillies Report that I have seen.

    Still on target after all these years.

    Much Appreciated, Ian.

    349:

    from today's NYTimes...

    a rather eye popping graph of temperatures

    (“Here I am wearing my San Diego wardrobe in December in Minneapolis.”)

    https://static01.nyt.com/images/2023/12/26/multimedia/00acc-hp-promo/00acc-hp-promo-threeByTwoMediumAt2X-v6.png?format=pjpg&quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale

    full text ==> https://archive.ph/gBa6K

    "A Record-Breaking Warm, Snowless Winter Confounds Midwesterners"

    350:

    I believe that it's pretty definite, but that it also happened well before genus Homo evolved. But the myth might have been due to a Black Sea event. Maybe.

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

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/evidence-for-a-flood-102813115/

    351:

    That was my thought, too. But it's not just genocide that erases such things - cultural replacement does, too, but Australia didn't have that, either.

    In Britain, the Germanic invasions did a lot of 'ethnic cleansing' but never more than local genocide, and the original populations remained in the west and far north. But the loss of history and tradition was near-total except in Wales, though it happened over a long period.

    352:

    I missed your post, and echoed it. Sorry.

    353:

    I don't think the capacity of a single person to remember a lot of stuff is much relevant to the question of transmission across tens of generations. Think about it, people aren't passive transmitters of ancient wisdom - every new generation creates their own lore as well, and all this new lore competes with the old lore for prominence and for the limited, even if great, capacity of human memory.

    Since Homer was mentioned - well, Iliad and Odyssey survived, but the rest of the Epic Cycle did not, even though it had been written down at some point. Probably a hundred times as much oral traditions existed around the time of Homer that were never written down and were consequently lost, or mutated utterly.

    So, is it theoretically possible that a single flood event from 15000 ago would become a fixture of the culture and survive the transmission? I guess I can't deny the possibility, but I think it is astronomically unlikely. A "flood myth" can exist across time, of course, because floods happen regularly and reinforce that concept of "flood" in the narrative, but it will have nothing to do with a particular flood from eons ago.

    354:

    P H-K
    The "Med" has mostly-drained & refilled several times, IIRC ...
    See also "H" @ 344

    Howard NYC
    And STILL there are hordes of right-wingnuts shouting as loudly as possible that "GW" is a Librul Hoax ...
    What does it take to get across to these people?
    We've got them here, as well, of course, but just no so louidly or obvious.

    EC
    Really?
    A lot of place-names & genetic analysis say otherwise

    355:

    Sorry for causing confusion, my query arose from the last paragraph of the Grauniad newspaper article:

    “When you have three generations constantly in the know, and tasked with checking as a cultural responsibility, that creates the kind of mechanism that could explain why [Indigenous Australians] seem to have done something that hasn’t been achieved elsewhere in the world: telling stories for 10,000 years.”

    I think it was Nicholas Reid said it. His contention seemed to be that explicit multigenerational checking of the story tellers ensured deviations from previous recitations were eliminated.

    The stuff about Socrates is interesting. As I recall (but my knowledge of history is not great), in the dark ages, a university exam could consist of people debating a point by throwing related quotes from Aristotle etc at each other and deferring to their "wisdom" even when obviously wrong.

    Fully, or partially, memorising important texts was quite common as books were rare (plus hugely expensive) and you couldn't just boot up a laptop and search for the passage in question. Obviously, actors preparing for a performance display similar powers of recall and some religions still feel that memorising a text conveys a value, even when the person memorising it has given the meaning no serious thought at all.

    A point worth remembering is that an oral history will remember a good story just as well as it remembers a fact.

    356:

    And STILL there are hordes of right-wingnuts shouting as loudly as possible that "GW" is a Librul Hoax ... What does it take to get across to these people?

    Maybe for the supply of bullshit disinformation money flowing from the oil and coal industries to dry up, so the people pushing it into the public discourse move on to another grift, like selling snake oil?

    Hint: it's hostile propaganda. Follow the money.

    357:

    What does it take to get across to these people?

    You'll need to give them a prolonged soaking in fear-mongering mindwash, apparently.

    And not feel so bad about doing that, that you quit in mid-persuasion.

    358:

    Heteromeles @ 344:

    "There is a hypothesis which says that the Strait of Gibraltar was once a dam, and at some point it crashed down and created the Mediterranean Sea as we know it today. ...As far as I know, there is not enough evidence to rule either way on that hypothesis."

    Google Messinian Salinity Crisis (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messinian_salinity_crisis ) which was when Gibraltar closed from 5.96 to 5.33 million years ago, and the Zanclean flood (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanclean_flood ) which is when Gibraltar opened again 5.33 million years ago and reflooded the Basin.

    The evidence for this is extremely good and dates from the 1960s and 1970s. It's found throughout the floor of the Mediterranean basin in the form of massive beds of evaporites (minerals that form when water evaporates), evidence in the sediments that some of them were blown about by wind, and evidence of massive, deeply cut, river canyons at the mouth of the Nile and every other old river.

    At about 5,330,000 years ago, the Zanclean deluge is about a thousand times too old to be the source of the Noah story. The dry Med and the Zanclean flood has inspired its own fiction: Julian May's Saga of Pliocene Exile, Garrett and Hadron's Gandalara Cycle, Turtledove's "Down in the Bottomlands," and probably a bunch of others

    The Zanclean deluge predates even the Neanderthals (by about 4 million years?).

    But it does raise another question - Were the earliest "modern" humans able to communicate with the Neanderthals? Do any of our oldest myths come from the Neanderthals? ... or even older (collateral) ancestors?

    Were any of our myths handed down from pre-humans? When did language develop to the point tales of the past could be handed down from generation to generation?

    Current thinking about "Noah's flood" seems to center on a flood event that occurred in the valley that became the Persian Gulf about 5-6,000 years BCE.

    And again, I think it suggests that the flooding came on in "fits & starts" instead of being a gradual, constant "average" rise of 2mm year after year. I just don't think ancient pre-literate hunter-gatherer/agricultural societies would notice a steady state rise in sea levels at 2mm/year over a period of centuries.

    Hell, except for scientists making measurements today, we'd hardly notice the change.

    But something happened that they DID notice; something that spawned "flood" myths.

    PS: I think that "event" also accounts for the myth of a lost "Garden of Eden" somewhere "in the east".

    359:

    Something I just noticed - there's apparently a change in the way the blog software works that do longer requires links to be "encapsulated(?)" by "href" ...

    I failed to do that for the bit of Heteromeles post I quoted, but for some reason the links still work where I quoted them.

    360:

    @ 359 ... "do longer" should be "no longer"

    361:

    let's consider obvious things: smoking; seatbelts; vax; brushing after each meal;

    activities which cause damage to your body or conversely prevent illness

    somehow seatbelts are still deemed as a 'culture war' issue... never mind there's zillions of first hand accounts of survivors of twisted wreckage confirming their ability to walk away was due to being in a safety harness... still fools ho deem it an infringement upon their bodies to use 'em

    only good news is this can oft times become a Darwinian filter... bad news being the body frame of modern cars are designed to crumble in order to protect the flesh cargo... so there's a higher survival rate from twisted wreckage due to nerds running millions of simulations to determine that strut #3182 needs to be displaced 9 millimeters (to pick just one of many tweaks) to improve survival in head on crashes... with the credit given to Jesus or better blood lines or other non-science...

    looking back on Covid circa APR 2020, it is my bitter regret there was not enough deaths soon enough to 'shock' educate everyone with a sufficiently high heap of corpses into listening to medical expertise

    362:

    Since Homer was mentioned - well, Iliad and Odyssey survived, but the rest of the Epic Cycle did not,

    Oh, Homer! Kinda like many other famous figures from the period.

    https://academic.oup.com/book/1187/chapter-abstract/139931799?redirectedFrom=fulltext

    Abstract

    ‘Homeric questions: Did Homer exist and is the Iliad accurate?’ examines the validity of the literary record. Little is known of Homer, who may not have been a single individual. If he did exist, he lived ca. 750 bce, 500 years after the events of the Trojan War, a period over which the story could be accurately transmitted orally. The epics are composed of details and data from both Bronze and Iron Ages, but preserve details of objects unused at the time of writing. Neoanalysis has uncovered echoes of an earlier tradition in the epics. The events of the epics are ultimately believable, although some poetic licence has been taken.

    363:

    Are you about to bring up the academic of a century ago, who for years tried to prove Homer was not Homer, but another blind poet named Homer?

    365:

    Maybe for the supply of bullshit disinformation money flowing from the oil and coal industries to dry up, so the people pushing it into the public discourse move on to another grift, like selling snake oil?

    It's not just oil and gas. The US DoD by itself blows 51 million tons of CO2 annually, more than Tunisia does. So it's the military industrial complex. It's also Big Ag, which (by my quick guesstimate) emits about 10x more GHGs than does the US DoD.

    So there's a lot of political pressure there to maintain the status quo. Think of it as the US government and connected wealth generators providing to all Americans hamburgers, jobs flipping the burgers, alternative careers in the military to the flippers who get sick of flipping, and guns for societal breakdowns and providing outlets for stochastic violence in place of organizing. Yay?

    366:

    Wrapping up the whole flood myth thread, I'll offer an SFF story background idea based on the cross-pollination of two ideas:

    One is the eruption of a West Antarctic volcano in exactly the wrong place, per KSL's Green Mars. This is a real worry among glaciologists, as there are active volcanoes under the ice. Ice sheets go into the ocean, sea level goes up more than 5 meters over maybe a year, and it's the biggest catastrophe this side of a nuclear war. Call this the seven billion ghosts scenario for that reason.

    But no mass extinction. Coasts are largely abandoned and the world rewilds burgeoning, feral joy.

    That's one idea.

    The other comes from Tyson Yunkaporta's Sand Talk. Yunkaporta's an aborigine educated in both worlds, and a good writer to boot. Here's a section worth combining with the idea above:

    "One such larger narrative is that of the dying black race. This drove a policy of capturing and removing Aboriginal people in openly declared attempts to eradicate Aboriginality by breeding out dark skin in hopes of arriving at a 'final solution.' Well, it didn’t work, although the narrative has enjoyed something of a revival lately. We’re still here, and you can ridicule or deny or regulate or modify or limit our identities based on whatever new narratives you like, but we’re not going away. Maybe at the start of the next century, some redheaded Chinese blackfella will be camping on what used to be Parliament House, cooking up a wombat and dancing up stories of how this all came to pass. And my boy Diver, blond as his mother’s Irish dad, will still be here, telling our stories and passing on our culture, a proud scion of two strong Aboriginal families and a bunch of mad Celts.

    "That’s little Diver’s second name: Scion. His third name is Juma, so he is namesake of the old fella who keeps the forever yarns.

    "Our family stories will outlast the stories of this civilization, but at the moment they are almost invisible in the shadow of monolithic grand narratives like 'progress'....”

    Don't think I could write that story properly, but I wish someone would.

    367:

    A bit late to the party but I would like to point out that, fortunately, crocodiles can't climb trees. Not big ones at least, says the person who was working in Emergency when two young men arrived who had spent three days up a tree because there was a very large crocodile at the bottom of it.

    368:

    Dramlin 367:

    ...whereas wolves in Eastern Europe not only work cooperatively in packs but also will jump up into trees to grab a bite outta any prey who were huddling up there

    leastwise (and until) peasants got better at self-organizing and concealing skills in the manufacture (and usage) longer reach weapons their aristocratic overlords forebade 'em to have

    spears; bow 'n arrow; slingshots; blackpowder smoothbore rifles;

    the categories of weapons best suited to resolve arguments between an oppressive minority and an oppressed majority... which was why the bluebloods tried to keep 'em out of the hands of peasants

    not that such laws were 100% effective as evidenced in the 'die off' of wolves

    369:

    fortunately, crocodiles can't climb trees

    This is true. However, coconut crabs can.

    371:

    Meanwhile elephants use a different strategy for dealing with arboreal irritants.

    372:

    Not just Australia that has some long lived oral tradition that encodes geology! https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/ten-ancient-stories-and-geological-events-may-have-inspired-them-180950347/ the Rama's Bridge and Klamath Lake are 5-7k years old.

    373:

    Re: gradual sea level rise v sporadic flooding as a source of flood myths, surely its obvious that one gives rise to the other depending on local topography. As the sea rises gradually it reaches the point at which it breaches the barrier holding it back from a lower lying area and then Suddenly floods the entire area. The event may be cataclysmic and unrelated to the sea level rise (for the Med. a major storm surge or tsunami overtopping the barrier or the avatar of a minor deity taking out the high gate with the fantasy equivalent of a laser pumped fusion bomb) but it would not have happened without steady sea level rises bringing water up to the point where it is possible. The flood is a sudden catastrophe for anyone in the flooded area but the root cause need not be.

    374:

    H
    "Dying race / Racial eradication"?? Happening right NOW - the Han are murderous bastards.

    peter w
    That's the rationale of the Euxine Lake -> Black Sea flood event

    375:

    A bit late to the party but I would like to point out that, fortunately, crocodiles can't climb trees...

    There's an old joke in North America about how to tell the difference between a brown bear and a grizzly, if someone is in the forest, encounters a bear, and climbs a tree to escape it. If the bear comes up the tree after you, that's a brown bear. If the bear doesn't bother to climb but just pushes the tree over, that's a grizzly.

    376:

    "exactly when practical military gear for male soldiers crossed over into being fetish wear for females in sexual contexts is an investigation left to the reader..."

    The sexual cross-over is not well documented, but there's a story of ladies adopting cavalry uniform at the court of Darius III, just before Alexander of Macedon destroyed it. Allegedly it was a gesture of solidarity with their husbands and male relatives who were going out in the general mobilisation. That would likely be some time in 333 BCE, before the battle of Issus.

    377:

    Got a word stuck in my head & haven't been able to resolve it with Google. I'm pretty sure it came from a Sci-Fi or Fantasy story I read.

    "Relemma" or "Relemna" - possibly as either a unit of currency or a unit of time?

    Ring any bells for anyone?

    378:

    Kardashev @ 362:

    Since Homer was mentioned - well, Iliad and Odyssey survived, but the rest of the Epic Cycle did not,

    Oh, Homer! Kinda like many other famous figures from the period.

    https://academic.oup.com/book/1187/chapter-abstract/139931799?redirectedFrom=fulltext

    Abstract

    ‘Homeric questions: Did Homer exist and is the Iliad accurate?’ examines the validity of the literary record. Little is known of Homer, who may not have been a single individual. If he did exist, he lived ca. 750 bce, 500 years after the events of the Trojan War, a period over which the story could be accurately transmitted orally. The epics are composed of details and data from both Bronze and Iron Ages, but preserve details of objects unused at the time of writing. Neoanalysis has uncovered echoes of an earlier tradition in the epics. The events of the epics are ultimately believable, although some poetic licence has been taken.

    I quite enjoyed the TV series "In Search of the Trojan War" (BBC, carried in the U.S. on PBS). How well has it held up with scholars over the intervening years since it was broadcast in 1985?

    In Search of the Trojan War (BBC) [YouTube Playlist]

    379:

    Comments are closed on Do my Laundry, but I was re-reading The Jennifer Morgue, and came across this passage (chapter 13, paragraph 2)

    "..[Mo] went and did some digging. Asked Milton, actually, the one armed, old security sergeant with the keys to the conservatory and the insturment store."

    So what else was in there, and what happens to it?

    380:

    There's an old joke in North America about how to tell the difference between a brown bear and a grizzly, if someone is in the forest, encounters a bear, and climbs a tree to escape it. If the bear comes up the tree after you, that's a brown bear. If the bear doesn't bother to climb but just pushes the tree over, that's a grizzly.

    Well, this is confusing. Thing is, grizzlies are the second-largest subspecies of brown bear, and the brown bear species is found across Eurasia and North America.

    There's also the black bear, a separate species endemic only to North America. So the normal advice is that the black bear will be up in the tree with you, while the grizzly will be trying to knock the tree over.

    Here's a video of a grizzly (big, brown, big shoulders), chasing a black bear (human-sized, black, bigger butt) up a tree. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayKRvKgYDLo

    381:

    I have no idea what that was about: I wrote that book in 2005-06 and haven't re-read it since!

    382:

    I have no idea what that was about: I wrote that book in 2005-06 and haven't re-read it since!

    Maybe something involving a white violin and practice space for it?

    I'm sad that the Laundry didn't have sets of bagpipes, myself. I understand that the leg bones and hide of an equoid are appropriate for the drones and bag of such an instrument, while the tibia of the summoner is appropriate for the chanter--if you use a unicorn horn for the bell...

    Maybe alfar regiments used to march to such music?

    383:

    I note that buried in the Royal Reception in Season of Skulls we get to see, in the background, an entire chamber orchestra of pale instruments, because His Nibs is a traditionalist. (And, re-reading bits of The Fuller Memorandum because SPOILERS The Regicide Report, it turns out that the violin Mo carried was one of a dozen commissioned by Dr Mabuse, although only four are believed to have survived ...)

    384:

    There's also the black bear, a separate species endemic only to North America. So the normal advice is that the black bear will be up in the tree with you, while the grizzly will be trying to knock the tree over.

    Black bears migrate through the middle of our city via our greenways for a short while each spring and fall. They are rarely seen as they seem to want to avoid us people and likely move a lot at night. But periodically they are spotting going after bird feeders and such in back yards. We had one climb a tree outside of a local hospital and the police stationed a car next to it to keep people away for the day it was there. Much to the consternation of the people who thought wild life was "somewhere else".

    If a grizzly ever showed up, well, the excitement level would be a bit over the top.

    385:

    And see people keep talking about how dangerous Australia is, and yet the reason we hang our food from trees/bushes in the Outback is because of... ants. Not bears.

    386:

    yup... we have reached a state of "Maximum BatShit Gonzo Crazy AmmoSexuals" all across the United States which is just down the block from "Maximum Florida" and slightly south of "Barbarians Gatecrashing Civilization"

    here's confirmation

    "A 14-year-old has been charged with murder after being accused of fatally shooting his older sister on Christmas Eve during a family dispute over gifts... His 15-year-old brother has also been charged with attempted murder after he allegedly shot the younger brother in retaliation for the shooting of their sister"

    https://lite.cnn.com/2023/12/27/us/florida-teen-murder-charge-christmas-gift-argument/index.html

    387:

    This did seem quite American :(

    388:

    We get black bears in our garden much of the warmer season. And, occasionally, cougars. By and large the local wolves stay a bit further away.

    389:

    Why do we hang our sneakers from the power lines, though?

    390:

    Moz 389:

    lots of possibilities but given the viciousness of bullies it seems most of 'em are kids victimized into removing 'em and then forced under threat of a savage beating to maroon 'em out of easy reach

    there's been a number of Saturdays here in New York City when I've seen adults with ladders attempting to recover sneakers from all sorts of odd places... their explanation as indicated above...

    bizarro moment, if the city were to deal with the sneakers and if there's any way of linking 'em by way of a name etched into 'em, the parents would be charged a couple hundred dollars for littering

    ah... the bittersweet memories of school aged bullies

    391:

    https://theconversation.com/ecology-on-steroids-how-australias-first-nations-managed-australias-ecosystems-214854

    Back to the previous hobbyhorsemarsuipial, people digging pollen out of wetlands to see what happened in the past. Article has a cool map of what northern Australia's coastline looked up before global warming melted lots of ice.

    (Howard, yeah, bullying seems sadly plausible as an explanation)

    392:

    Apparently none of the family qualify for a Darwin Award as yet.

    393:

    Moz @ 389:

    Why do we hang our sneakers from the power lines, though?

    Teenage boys are easily amused.

    394:

    Courtesy of YouTube I watched In Search of the Trojan War last night and it raised a question I hadn't thought of before.

    Apparently the Mycenaean Greeks DID have writing, (& written communications) in the form of Minoan Linear B (?) ... so why did the tale of the Trojan War come down as 500 years of oral tradition before it got to Homer?

    I can understand that 500 years after the collapse of Mycenaean Greece maybe Greeks couldn't read their own writing, but it seems like there should be some remnants left that archeologists could read today; like the Hittite tablets that mention Wilusa?

    395:

    This is not exactly new. Back around 1990 or so, my late wife thought about taking pictures around the country, as we travelled to and from cons, and putting a book together.

    I'm under the impression that at least some are end-of-the-term and worn out/too small, and it's celebratory.

    Hell of a lot better than morons shooting into the air with firearms.

    396:

    Myself @ 393:

    Moz @ 389:

    Why do we hang our sneakers from the power lines, though?

    Teenage boys are easily amused.

    I wrote this before I read Howard NYC's post on bullying. I haven't seen that around here.

    Around here where I've observed it, it's mostly old, out-grown, bargain brand sneakers thrown up by tween & teen boys.

    397:

    A "relumma" is a unit of time in the Liaden universe afaik.

    398:

    As I understand it at least some of the sneakers over power lines are a form of territory marking by gangs. Brand and colour of sneakers mattered somewhat, I understand (e.g. British Knights = BK = Blood Killers = Crips). And copycats thereof.

    At least here in Canada in certain neighbourhoods it meant that drugs could be found nearby. Gang wise the drug and other criminal trade in Western and Central Canada is wholly owned by the Hells Angels (most gang wars are lower level and about who gets a local contract from the bikers). So shoes mean something else.

    All of my knowledge of that stuff is second or third hand, so take it with a generous portion of salt. It does hint at a wonderful 'in plain sight' language of signage and other communication that is only noticeable or understandable to the initiated - which is fun for fiction.

    399:

    I remember back in the 90s we had kids attacked at school for wearing the wrong colours. Sometimes it was intergang violence, sometimes it was innocent victims who had no idea that the new shirt/hat/whatever they wore was a gang's colours (gangs being a rather fringe thing in pop culture back then).

    400:

    Beats the hell out of me.

    401:

    "Why do we hang our sneakers from the power lines, though?"

    Why do we hang bags of dogshit from trees?

    402:

    Ahh, that would be because we are lazy.

    403:

    Why do we hang bags of dogshit from trees?

    Oh, that's easy.

    Literally.

    There's social pressure to be seen picking up after your dog, but no-one following you around to make sure you do anything in particular with the bag of shit afterwards. Sadly the other people at landcare don't like me throwing the bags of shit in the river when I see them throwing their bags of shit in the river.

    404:

    =+=+=+=+=

    https://www.npr.org/2023/12/26/1220603847/crypto-cryptocurrency-bitcoin-ftx-binance-cz-bankman-fried

    an easily digested briefing of the 'state of crypto'

    tag line: "grifting at the speed of 9.6 gigabits per second"

    =+=+=+=+=

    https://jengagiant.com/jenga-giant-js7-hardwood-game-can-stack-5/

    for all those looking for an excuse to tip over a hefty stack of splintery chunks of wood upon a loathsome co-worker or an unloved sibling... I give you both a potential murder weapon (“fatal brain trauma from getting hit in the head thirty-seven times”) and a built in alibi (“who knew getting hit in the head thirty-seven times led to fatal brain trauma?”)

    PREDICT: next year there will be 96 railroad ties (200 pounds each, measuring 7-in x 9-in x 96-in) bundled with a twelve horse-power crane as the Next Big Thing for really stupid tavern sporting events; hard hats and limb splints not included;

    tag line: “darts are for dweebs, Mega-Jenga™ are for manly men”

    =+=+=+=+=

    405:

    I prefer the idea of having fractionally subcritical lumps of fissile material embedded in the ground with holes into the middle of them for dogs to shit down.

    406:

    R. Degenhand @ 397:

    A "relumma" is a unit of time in the Liaden universe afaik.

    Thank you.

    407:

    OMG, people actually sell that. I'm used to it being something people working with construction timber just make out of offcuts then get drunk and laugh at each other over.

    The idea of using bigger timber has occurred to me but it's expensive and the risk goes up. I hadn't thought of the risk as being the point...

    408:

    uh, hello?

    skydiving

    free hand rock climbing (sans rope 'n sanity)

    crocodile wrestling

    refusing vax

    ...there's a rather lengthy list of reckless, dangerous behaviors folks seek out for R E A S O N S

    not least of which being how boring civilization has made our days

    409:

    It's a popular party game in these parts. You'll often find it in the bar areas of hostels and the like.

    Injuries are rare.

    That link was more than double the going rate for a set of blocks though.

    410:

    404, 407 and 409. See also variants like "Kick Jenga" where the blocks have to be loosened by kicking them rather than pushing or pulling them.

    411:

    House rules for jenga are a minefield. It's essential to agree up front.

    Whatever rule set you use I have noticed it's a game that can be played at a remarkably high level while drunk...

    412:

    oversized... like... stupidly so...

    (minor) bone breaking when-not-if falling from five feet up

    413:

    Bah; real men play Jenga with the bodies of their slain!

    414:

    nope... too squishy... maybe you could extract the femurs and after sanding 'em flat they'd be stackable...

    personally I'd do as Darth Musk is rumored to do... a stacked heap of a thousand bars of .998 gold, each bar being ten kilograms

    reminder: as of Friday's market close, gold = $66.31/gram

    415:

    Nah, real men play jenga against young children. Gotta teach the joy of fall down go BOOM!

    And everybody should play against dogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWNWMldrVpI

    Or against raccoons https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDgRN5kOrk4

    Or against cats https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOyZojbYUEA

    But...real professionals play jenga with cats https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWc8dUl7Xfo

    416:

    skydiving

    ...there's a rather lengthy list of reckless, dangerous behaviors folks seek out for R E A S O N S

    Sorry. skydiving doesn't fit your other lists.

    It is safe if when done properly (and 99.9999% it is) and IS a big thrill. I've done it solo. Although now most first timer tourists do it tandem.

    417:

    I've a friend who spent many years as a prominent rock climber, with a great many 'first ascents' on his resume. We used to scuba dive together, and he was my favorite dive partner because he was always, without fail, on point with safety and situational awareness.

    Such sports are very enjoyable and safe if done with those things in mind.

    418:

    heh...

    silly me for suggesting mere 200 lb chunks

    that cat vid was da bomb

    only thing better?

    two teams -- red v. blue -- each set of cats are tele-operated by an AI

    call it ==> Jenga AI Match Up

    419:

    *https://theconversation.com/ecology-on-steroids-how-australias-first-nations-managed-australias-ecosystems-214854*

    Forgot to thank you for this link. Fun to read!

    Through it, I found yet another scholarly work to read for fun and worldbuilding: The Handbook of Contemporary Animism. Just as with monotheistic systems, animistic systems are pretty diverse. And the way they're adapting to a modern world that's monotheistically hostile to them* is also interesting, in a dandelions-and-mushrooms-meet-pavement kind of way. Yes, Buddhism, Taoism, and Shintoism are animistic. Why do you ask?

    *I'm still puzzled about why the Christian Holy Spirit isn't an animistic concept. And why techbros who are atheists stuck with a monotheistic mindset keep trying to make everything "smart." But I'm easily confused.

    420:

    "And why techbros who are atheists stuck with a monotheistic mindset keep trying to make everything "smart.""

    ...a descriptor which almost invariably signifies that the thing is a really dumb idea. Or at the least, that it's a really dumb idea to call it "smart".

    421:

    Whiter whites. Bolder colors. Stains no problem. Etc...

    At some point laundry detergent will start being marketed as "smart".

    422:

    Magitech nanotech laundry detergent could remove the stains at source by simply rendering down the humans, then removing any organic residue from their clothes. Solve the problem once and for all in a smart manner.

    423:

    BTW while I can't speak for crocodile wrestlers I can report that most of those who climb without ropes try to discourage adrenaline junkies from joining our ranks. They don't last so long.

    It's more about maintaining focus and self control. Putting yourself in a position where you have to do something you are already good at perfectly. If it gets exciting then you are doing it wrong.

    OFC the participant is more exposed to risks beyond their control but that's just a matter of degree.

    424:

    organic residue

    Cotton and wool. Are they organic?

    425:

    Early in my climbing experience I met someone who was keen on free climbing. He'd utterly fucked the tendons that (used to) make his finger work by grabbing shit in a more or less successful attempt to avoid becoming a former free climber. Kind of put me off, the reward didn't seem to match the risk (of basically not being able to climb at all. He couldn't do overhangs at all and was pretty much limited to "climbing" access tracks).

    I've been teaching a couple of people the rudiments of abseiling recently and that's been fun. Partly just explaining how anchors work and why they're important, partly talking through some of the "I use a figure 8 because it's cheap, you use a fail-safe descender that costs 5x as much so that all you have to do is let go and you'll stop going down" stuff. We're weeding a less than 10m high "cliff face" that would be trivial except that it's covered in vegetation and we want to keep about 80% of it. But we very much want to remove the other 20%. It's kind of annoying that I can't just use the scrappy old bits of long-expired dynamic rope and some carabiners + prusiks that I have lying round, but the landcare group people are sketched out enough at doing it properly. OTOH they very much have budget for buying the gear so we did.

    Community groups that manage to find a member who's good at writing grant proposals have it so much easier.

    426:

    Re: '... listening to medical expertise'

    Back then (early COVID) the medicos were so overworked they seldom had time to catch up on new best practices. Although the anti-vaxers have been conditioned to vehemently oppose any scientific studies, they might be open to something easier to grasp, like even higher insurance premiums for anyone over 65. Reason for this is that the overall country stats show a drop in life expectancy for the US (76.4 - lowest in almost 20 years) as per the Harvard article. (This means that insurance orgs will have fewer years to collect premium$/meet profit forecasts.)

    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/whats-behind-shocking-u-s-life-expectancy-decline-and-what-to-do-about-it/

    And here's another interesting (disquieting) article about US healthcare. UK folks should also read this since it looks like Rishi is still pushing to privatize the NHS. (For non-USians: JAMA is a top medical journal.)

    'Changes in Hospital Adverse Events and Patient Outcomes Associated With Private Equity Acquisition'

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2813379

    Change of topic ...

    Re-purposing downtown office buildings

    Read this article a few days ago and thought that other folks here might also be interested. Good background info on the process (including a few surprises), costs, timelines and other considerations.

    The first office-to-residence conversion is almost completed and people will be moving in next month. At least another 10 such conversions are also planned.

    If anyone knows of other cities in other countries also doing office-to-residence conversions, please post a link. I'm very interested in how this works in real life.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-downtown-office-conversion-revitalization-1.7061792

    427:

    Although the anti-vaxers have been conditioned to vehemently oppose any scientific studies, they might be open to something easier to grasp, like even higher insurance premiums for anyone over 65.

    The relatives I have in this camp would just label it a conspiracy to force them under the thumb of government control. Studies have show such positions are not swayed by facts.

    428:

    If anyone knows of other cities in other countries also doing office-to-residence conversions, please post a link. I'm very interested in how this works in real life.

    Google will find such articles. Architects who specialize in such in the US say no more than 10% to maybe 15% of the building make sense for this due to issues with windows and plumbing. Most people expect windows in all of their living spaces and office building plumbing are not normally set up to handle the water and draining needs of what happens between 5pm and 10pm in most homes. Coking, dish washing, showering, in multiple units per floor. Aside from a few restaurants, most commercial buildings are set up with water situations for office workers flushing and washing hands.

    I just read an article in the NY Times about where the zoning for housing buildings requires 30' deep back lots. Where those for commercial buildings only 20'. So you need a back yard space zoning variance set of meetings with neighbors yelling at the meetings just to make the back yards legal.

    If you want to watch people at their most interesting, go to a US zoning meeting where something is being proposed that the neighbors don't want. Even if it is perfectly legal. You might want to sit near an exit in case the riot police have to be called.

    The NY Times or Washington Post (or both) had a long article on the issues and some projects in some major US cities.

    429:

    the landcare group people are sketched out enough at doing it properly

    A few years ago when I started volunteering with SES, it was around about the same time the AQF came in. The trainers were talking about how induction training previously included setting up and putting everyone down a flying fox, but since AQF this had to be constructed and supervised by a certified rigger. They had put enough people through the Cert IV Workplace Trainer and Assessor that they were organically building the ability to get AQF-recognised certs trained and awarded in-house, but were not quite there yet for rigging at that stage.

    430:

    'Changes in Hospital Adverse Events and Patient Outcomes Associated With Private Equity Acquisition'

    Covering, no doubt, things like Ontario's privatization of Long Term Care (and shielding of LTC owners from lawsuits for negligence by raising the required standard for prosecution to "gross negligence")… I confess to wondering, in a morbid way, what Ford et al have snuck through while public attention has been on the Greenbelt. Never waste a good crisis was Harris' mantra, and Ford's staff are by-and-large Harrisites…

    431:

    Doesn't eliminate all risk, though. These chaps were pretty experienced:

    https://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2013/06/17/jack-hutton-potts-and-vaughan-holme-were-climbers-who-died-on-anglesey

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-24750771

    It's possible that with a bit more attention to belaying I wouldn't have lost a cousin.

    432:

    We had a similar thing in NZ with an outdoor education thing and that was fun. I was around at the start where they were developing the actual teaching/testing stuff and ended up with a few random "qualified to teach the teachers" things. Since replaced by NZQA.

    I do quite like the idea of basic, relatively easy to get qualifications for stuff like "can abseil under subervision" or "knows what to do when they fall out of a raft in a river". It means that community groups or people like SES can fire people through a bunch of those rather than hoping volunteers just magically pick up the necessary skills via osmosis. I do wish there was a "dummies guide on how to lock your house" though, because a lot of people need that.

    Which reminds me of when I was hopuse sitting and locked myself out. Turned out the house was trivial to break in to because one of the gambe ends had a "ventilator" in it - a small door with louvred slats, that door being held in place by nothing in particular. So the dog I was sitting got to watch me climb down through the ceiling hatch in the bathroom. It didn't seem bothered, but then it was a classic imperturbable staffy.

    433:

    David L @ 424
    They all contain Carbon & come from plants & animals!
    @ 427
    "Conspiracies all the way down" then?

    SFR @ 426
    OF COURSE Rish! is still pushing to privatise the NHS ... but he's not going to have enough time to do it ... we hope.

    434:

    I've been teaching a couple of people the rudiments of abseiling recently and that's been fun

    Abseiling by choice with known good anchors is fun. Abseiling in the mountains because you need to get down and have to take whatever crappy protection you are given is abhorrent. There's nothing quite like it.

    435:

    SFReader [426] wondered: "Re-purposing downtown office buildings... If anyone knows of other cities in other countries also doing office-to-residence conversions, please post a link."

    No link, but here in Kingston (Ontario) we have a lovely [sic] old penitentiary that's been mothballed and now serves primarily as a tourism destination and movie set. But I discussed this with my municipal counsellor, and suggested this would make a great home for the homeless (500+ beds). Managing the optics would be an interesting challenge, and you'd have to reverse the lock in each cell (so people can lock out strangers) and add privacy curtains, but even those spartan conditions beat the hell out of living on the streets during a Canadian winter.

    The pen offers a heated environment with high-capacity washroom facilities, kitchen, recreation and public space, a clinic, offices for social workers, etc. There's lots of yard space for a kitchen garden. You'd need to direct drug abusers and released psychiatric patients to other facilities and programs that are better able to handle their needs, and you'd need to hire 24/7 staff (good for local employment!) to supervise and ensure that everyone remains civil. Many, many other details to wrangle. But as a first grasp at a solution to a growing problem, it seems likely to be a good one.

    436:

    You don't seem to get it: homelessness is a deliberate political choice.

    We know how to end homelessness. Finland proved it beyond reasonable doubt, in a large-scale long running policy experiment (that I believe has been axed by the insurgent far-right government that came in a few months ago). You simply give homeless people adequate social housing -- an apartment, in other words. No strings attached. About 80% of them then get their lives back on track within 12 months, in work and productive members of society.

    (For US/UK needs you'd also have to add an adequate social security net, preferably a non-tested guaranteed basic income plus healthcare.)

    It turns out that this works out net cheaper than dealing with homeless people, sorting out their frequent crises (health and other), losing their tax contributions as successful members of society, and so on. In other words it's even good for the economy.

    Should be a vote-winner, right?

    (I'm going to omit the long, bitter explanation of why our prevailing media narrative and cultural assumptions make it impossible to admit the unpalatable truth and point to the real roots of the problem -- homelessness is encouraged by a rentier culture that uses the threat of homelessness to terrorize homeowners and tenants into paying inflated mortgage/rent payments to keep a roof over their heads: social housing hurts landlords.)

    The cruelty is not an accident or a sad but unavoidable fact. It is deliberate, and it is the whole point.

    437:

    It might be phrased as a mental health issue, affecting the privileged, not the homeless. If the privileged can learn a less hurtful way of having a sense of self worth than seeing the deprivation of others, a better world might be possible.

    438:

    homelessness is encouraged by a rentier culture that uses the threat of homelessness to terrorize homeowners and tenants into paying inflated mortgage/rent payments to keep a roof over their heads

    In much the same way that the threat of unemployment keeps people working at crap jobs under terrible conditions with abusive management?

    439:

    Geoff Hart @ 435: we have a lovely [sic] old penitentiary that's been mothballed [...] this would make a great home for the homeless (500+ beds).*

    I've seen a few proposals along these lines: microdwellings, living in old containers, that kind of thing.

    My worry is that these will merely become the next slums. Sure, they are much better than being on the streets. But if they are acceptable then you have to accept what you are given, if this is the bare minimum.

    I also worry about the neighbourhood. Some homeless people are homeless because of mental health issues that can make them unpleasant or even dangerous as neighbours. And when you are stuck next door "unpleasant" can mean "always living in fear of the next rock through the window" or "repeatedly woken at 3am by someone banging on your door". It only takes a few people like this to make the lives of everyone else a misery. And you can't evict them because that just means they get imposed on somebody else.

    Take a look at this: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26254706

    As I said, I was homeless as a teenager. A government scheme purportedly aiming to house itinerant youths collected a bunch of us aged between 15 and 21 from the local shelters. If we managed to behave ourselves for six months living together, we got our own flats. The scheme was a disaster - it was run by a private company that specialised in training secretaries. [...] I do remember that on the first day the lad who sat next to me threatened to stab me in the neck with his free pen. The communal flats were quickly overrun with drug dealers, gangsters and anyone else who wanted a warm place to conduct their business.

    440:

    So the dog I was sitting got to watch me climb down through the ceiling hatch in the bathroom. It didn't seem bothered, but then it was a classic imperturbable staffy.

    The dog (English Setter) I grew up with had a very wide reputation as being incredibly friendly to any and everyone. To the extent it was assumed on robbers got in the house he'd give them a tour showing where the valuables were.

    441:

    My worry is that these will merely become the next slums. Sure, they are much better than being on the streets. But if they are acceptable then you have to accept what you are given, if this is the bare minimum.

    Around here much of the homelessness of people without mental and drug problems is caused by zoning. Heteromeles and I have mentioned this here a few times. In the US the "middle" class has worked hard at getting rid of cheap crappy housing. SRO and such. And, as around where I am, more people want to live here than the existing locals want to allow homes to be built for, so they buy up the cheap crap, tear it down, and build new. And the people in the cheap crap move in with friends or become homeless. And you can't replace the cheap crap because a of building codes will make small cheap cost 5 to 10 times in rent what the poor were paying before. And here there was someone complaining online yesterday about the homeless living in some local block sized parks and wanted the removed. All I asked was "to where?"

    This is not fully about mental issues and drug addicts. But there is some overlap.

    And Charlie's solution is likely the only one if an area or country is making it a goal to eliminate crappy housing. And there are local advocates of forcing crappy housing to be upgraded but they almost totally never address who will pay. Because the existing tenants can't pay the extra.

    And as much as I don't like people living in crappy housing, it sure beats a park bench when it is raining and a few degrees above freezing.

    442:

    I've seen a few proposals along these lines: microdwellings, living in old containers, that kind of thing.

    Yeah, these are all being tried where I am.

    So is Charlie's "You simply give homeless people adequate social housing..." San Diego's been doing that for over a decade, from when they realized that a group of homeless people were costing the city and crew hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in hospital visits and other services. It was massively cheaper to house them at market rate, although keeping these very (mentally) ill people (who often were dealing with addiction too) housed and cared for apparently is harder than initially hoped.

    Our problem is that we're short on affordable rentals and out of unbuilt land to put more on. We've also got a big NIMBY problem, but then again (speaking as a former NIMBY who argued the proposition that it's illegal to solve our homeless crisis by making species go extinct in our neighborhoods), some of the NIMBYs have real, data-driven concerns about things like inadequate roads, sewer, and public transit to support densification on the scale needed.

    In the Linda Vista neighborhood, for example, the inadequate infrastructure dates back to a homeless crisis in WW2. Workers poured in to staff the airplane factories for the war, and for about a year they were mostly unhoused, while San Diego city did it's classic "we don't wanna deal" thing we've been practicing since 1900 or thereabouts. So the feds and industrialists stepped in and built 3000 little bungalows in 200 days. With one water main and one sewer. Seventy years later the little bungalows are mostly still there, and the neighborhood is still dealing with inadequate infrastructure, as well as demands that it densifies to house still more people.

    Since we're a tourist trap, one cause of room shortages is the short term rental market, which is more lucrative than long term rental. Thank you so very much AirBnB. You made a big difference in our lives...

    Anyway: microdwellings. San Diego's made it much easier to build rentable granny flats in back yards, which is good. Micro villages seem to have normal-sized water and sewer needs, which is an issue.

    Cargo containers kinda suck for housing. They need so much work to be made habitable that, even though they're readily available, they're not especially cost effective. Same problem as converting office buildings and malls, really.

    What I expect to see going forward is: underused business parks and malls demolished to make way for apartments and townhomes, McMansions subdivided into apartments, and Dingbats 2.0.

    Dingbats ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingbat_(building) ) were the mid-Century solution to the post WW2 housing shortage in SoCal. Basically, they're 4-8 unit apartments buildings built in the footprint of single family homes. They use the same building materials and techniques as single family homes, so they're quick and easy to put up. There's a dispute about whether they're called dingbats because they're decorated with a modernist symbol or two on the front (often typographic dingbats), or because the unreinforced ones are dangerous in earthquakes and you'd be a dingbat to live in one. Anyway, they're quite common in the older neighborhoods in SoCal, and state-level legislation making it easier to build them passed over a year ago. I expect that newer subdivisions of single family homes will start sprouting 2.x dingbats in due course, mostly because I'm starting to see them, much to the NIMBY fury of their neighbors.

    Notice any trends here? Notice that the homeless have always been with us in varying numbers? They're a chronic problem, as well as an intermittent crisis. So is San Diego's tendency to ignore necessary upgrades to infrastructure in the face of NIMBY opposition, and just allow more units to be built.

    And so it goes.

    443:

    Oh, before I forget, happy 123123 (12-31-23) to those who read their calendars the wrong way.

    And, looking forward, I'll wish everybody a survivable, ideally happy, 2024, blessed by the religious system you prefer. If you have no religious preference, roll a d20 and consult the Wandering Supernaturals table in whatever game you're currently playing to find out what blessings are in store for you.

    Happy 2024! May we all live to tell the tale in 2025!

    444:

    Charlie wrote [436]: "You don't seem to get it: homelessness is a deliberate political choice."

    Oh, were we talking about homelessness in [426]? I thought we were talking about repurposing existing real estate. I thought I expressed a good use for otherwise useless real estate, but apparently I missed something. That explains the patronizing response perhaps. My bad.

    fwiw, I'm probably almost as cynical about government as you are. I've been pressuring my elected representatives at all levels for years to implement a universal basic income. Not to mention yelling at them (quietly and politely) that if you bring in 400K immigrants during the middle of a housing crisis, maybe you should be building somewhere for them to live.

    Repurposing a penitentiary is a bandaid solution that treats the symptom, not the disease. But since I lack anything resembling the power or influence to treat the disease, guess I'll have to live with the bandaid solution.

    445:

    David L
    "Soft" dogs ... you never know.
    Many, many years ago, we had a female Borzoi - enormous dog, with large air-space underneath.
    Total softie - when, one day, she caught a rabbit, she washed it ( Well, gave it a good lick ).
    Pin you to the wall - paws on shoulders, then lick you - & then roll over for a tickle.
    One day a very "dubious" character came to the front door ... madam wasn't sure what to do ... she was almost as scared as he was when this really nasty snarling started. It was the Borzoi: lips curled right back, all the way & giant wolf-hound teeth showing.
    Dubious person simply ran away .. door shut, dog went back to "Did I do right mum? I didn't like him"

    H
    That's what worries me ....

    446:

    Geoff Hart @ 444:

    Repurposing a penitentiary is a bandaid solution that treats the symptom, not the disease. But since I lack anything resembling the power or influence to treat the disease, guess I'll have to live with the bandaid solution.

    With privatization & "for profit" health care, what makes you think you're even going to get that band-aid?

    PS: With only 9 hours left to go around here, it looks like I've survived 2023. Here's hoping 2024 will be a better year for you & me both ... you ALL, even those of you I'm not speaking to. 🙃

    447:

    A couple of notable "office" conversions here in Edinburgh include a Victorian school building just up the road from me which was unfit for use decades ago but has now been converted into flats, with the large open grounds of the main building now built out with modern-construction flats. The main building and its frontage is Grade 1 listed so it can't be hacked around as much as the developers would have liked and I understand the old-building flats are somewhat cramped and eccentric in shape since they had to fit into what had been classrooms and institutional kitchens etc.

    Another residential conversion in Edinburgh is "Quartermile" where the new owners are converting a Victorian-era hospital complex (which again became unfit for use decades ago) into flats . This is near the University.

    An option for redundant office blocks here in Edinburgh is conversion into hotel operations. There's one that was done a decade ago just opposite the train station near me and there's another office block on the main road that's getting the same treatment, if the billboards are to believed.

    448:

    I like those "Dingbat" buildings.

    I'll leave it to David to explain what the NIMBYs will say about why they can't be built around here.

    But one thing that IS clear, IF they're built for low cost housing they won't be as profitable as Mega McMansions and the developers won't build them unless forced to do so ... and they're going to fight it tooth 'n nail.

    I had my own brush with NIMBYism this past year, and to my chagrin found myself on the wrong side, WITH the NIMBYs.

    I lived in an OLD neighborhood; about 3 blocks long west to east - starting around 1910 on the west end & ending up in the early 1960s on the east end and about 4 blocks north to south - 1900s (or earlier) on the south end, to 1970s on the north side.**

    Mostly nicer, larger homes in the older parts trending toward mid-century bungalows in the newer parts. 35.795917, -78.627306 in Google Maps puts you right in the middle of the old neighborhood. My old house was built in 1936, so geographically & chronologically pretty much right smack dab in the middle.

    With significant gentrification in this century from flippers the bungalows are slowly being torn down & replaced with McMansions. That's what's going to happen to my old house.

    Tucked in to the west end of the neighborhood is a 5 acre apartment complex - town-homes built in the 1970s [Google Street View], before Raleigh started to preserve old neighborhoods (Oakwood, Hayes Barton, University Park ... Mordecai).

    Before that, back in the 60s that 5 acres was still an active farm. One of my neighbors still lived where she grew up (although the old house has been replaced with a McMansion) and she remembered when the farm was there & when it had a baseball field used by neighborhood children.

    Before being sub-divided in the early 20th Century, most of the rest of that old neighborhood was a part of that same farm ... and back before the American Civil War, it was all part of the Mordecai plantation (one of the other neighbors is a Mordecai descendant). The city grew out past the plantation house in the late 19th Century.

    Anyway, the owners of apartment complex want to sell it.

    And to help them do so, they requested a rezoning that would allow the buyers to scrap anything (including those old Oak Trees) and build a massive "5 story" apartment building - which due to the slope of the land would be 7 stories on the back side, but would still count as only "5 stories" because of the front elevation.

    Problem for the neighbors though.

    For one thing it would place a whole block of the street on the north side in perpetual shadow and they wanted surface parking which would aggravate already existing problems with storm water run-off AND traffic in a neighborhood where people can walk their kids to school even though there are no sidewalks.

    So, I was against it because it would harm my neighbors ... even though I know Raleigh needs more affordable housing (although ... I don't think the proposed apartments ARE going to be "affordable").

    PS: The fight was still going on when I sold my house & moved, and I'm pretty sure the neighbors lost.

    ** "Downtown" Raleigh is about a mile to the south-west of my old neighborhood. It's actually feasible for someone who works downtown for the State Government to WALK to & from work. In fact, there are even sidewalks (pavement) for that. The problem with no sidewalks is in the other direction. The sidewalks didn't extend farther out to connect neighborhoods beyond mine.

    It was kind of rundown when I moved in in 1974 (otherwise I wouldn't have been able to afford to buy there) and has been growing more affluent ever since.

    449:

    One thing that's happening at least in Melbourne is requiring onsite blackwater/sewer treatment and stormwater retention so that load on the sewer system can be slightly reduced but mostly evened out (as with many networks it's peak demand that is the problem. Building/upgrading a sewer plant outside town is much easier than increasing the size of even on path to the sewer plant)

    450:

    I thought iwa sinteresting that when covid hit many countries that have "impossible to solve" problems with homelessness suddenly and without fuss solved that problem. And not all via the "didn't they all die?" method. Some people in Aotearoa made a fuss, and it was kind of amusing to watch homelessness charoties siding with far right lynch mobs to say that forcing hiomeless people into motels against the wishes of everyone involved was a bad idea.

    Obviously once the crisis passed because we cured covid, everything returned to the status quo ante, including the PM going on TV to emote at the population and wring her hands helplessly about her inability to actually do anything to solve this problem too. Add it to the list that starts with "my generations nuclear free moment" and grinds all the way down to "we need another kindergarten teacher in Bluff". None of which the government can do anything about, but they are very sorry to have to say that.

    That bunch of hapless fools were voted out at the recent election so have added to the big list of unsolvable problems "how could we have won the election". Sadly in Australia the federal ALP seem keen to emulate the NZ Labour Party.

    451:

    I have spent most of the last 30 years working in the housing and homelessness field, at levels varying from frontline homeless shelter worker to regional policy development.

    Providing housing to people in housing need is like providing engines to people who need cars. Yes, it is an essential part of what they need. No, it does not solve the problem for even a fraction of those people. They also need seats, a door, windows, fuel...

    We are about dealing with the follow-on effects of horrid neoliberal decisions made starting in the early 80s around much of the anglosphere and elsewhere. (Reagan, Thatcher, Mulroney etc). Cutting funding to social programs, social housing, education, social workers. Closing mental health institutions (yes, many were awful) without putting anything in their place. Ramping up 'anti-crime' incarceration while also cutting any programs focused on reducing recidivism.

    A couple generations later we have people on the streets with one or more of the following: Childhood poverty, mental illness, childhood abuse or exploitation, racialized abuse. Many people can survive one item on that list, fewer can survive two, and more than two is all but impossible without massive social supports (which don't exist).

    Converting Kingston penitentiary to be 'housing' for the poors is precisely NOT a solution. It would be instantly overcrowded, almost certainly underfunded, and a real life torment nexus.

    The actual solution is to perhaps buy one or two fewer F35 fighter bombers, build, staff and maintain adequate housing for every single person in housing need. Fund the social supports they need - including mental health care, nurses. For those in prison, provide education, therapy and other supports to help them build a life upon release.

    The United States could struggle by with only 12 Carrier Groups instead of 13, and solve homelessness in their entire country.

    Here's a thought experiment. You are a group of world leaders in 2002 tasked with overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan. You have 30 years and $2 Trillion USD. Your options:

  • Invade, kill a bunch of people, maybe make a difference?
  • Don't invade. Spend $1.95 trillion on making the rest of the world a really nice place to live. Spend $.05 trillion on satellites over Afghanistan broadcasting into every corner of it how much better it is literally everywhere else.
  • Now it's 2033. We know how option 1 turned out. Option 2 might not have made a scrap of difference in Afghanistan, but all of our countries would be a lot better off.

    452:

    Follow-up post: Total cost for the US alone in The War Against Terror (TWAT) was about $8 Trillion. Homelessness is a policy choice.

    453:

    Sorry, the US actually has 11 Carrier Strike groups, not 13. The poor things, how do they manage?

    454:

    Re: '... a mental health issue, affecting the privileged, not the homeless'

    Yep! Either born without a conscience (or whatever part of the brain facilitates/rewards prosocial behavior) or lost/suppressed it due to continual negative feedback. There's research showing that 5 month olds can tell if someone is being good (caring) or bad (hurtful), so I'm guessing that it takes a lot of effort/reinforcement for a society to emerge where the majority of its adults are deliberately callous/cruel.

    Re: Kingston penitentiary

    Now this could probably be easily converted into an Amazon warehouse!

    More practically though - how about affordable student housing? Most on-campus student residences are pretty basic - small bedroom, medium sized den/living room, shared kitchen and bathroom. I just checked google maps - the penitentiary isn't that far from Queen's university. There are also a few military bases near there.

    Re: AI

    Just watched the first of three Royal Institution talks on AI - good background info in plain, non-technical language.

    'The Truth about AI 1/3 - 2023 Christmas Lectures with Mike Wooldridge'

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0gZAlZgI34

    Happy New Year to OGH and all the folks here!

    Hoping 2024 is better for all of us. If it isn't, we know where we can come to crab about it. :)

    455:

    Happy New Year to one and all, particularly SFReader who beat me to the punch! :-D

    456:

    it is not just NIMBY there's monopoly-as-policy... without choices provided by way of multiple sources (“vendors”) there's no reason for anything to get better... whether its housing, data services, air travel, fresh fruit, medical services, et al, the lack of choices means there is near-zero reason to improve the product on offer and absolute zero incentive to ever lower the prices charged

    to consider the effects of anti-monopoly policies in the form of regulated competition, please consider the price charged for long distance phone calls across North America...

    in the 1940s NYC to LA was eqv of US$12/minute (or maybe US$23? Calculations are non-linear due to switch from gold standard to fiat currency) but by the 1990s it was US$0.05/minute.... now in the 2020s there is no separate charges for calls based upon distance if you are calling someone in the 'lower 48'...

    couple years ago I got myself a no-frills smartphone for US$50 and a basic mobile phone service of voice/text for US$25/month and if I hustled around comparing I might find something about US$18/month... no data since I'm not much on moving around...

    perspective: in the 1990s my landline phone bills were about US$90/month which is inflation adjusted is about US$215/month in 2023 dollars... so I now have better use of a better quality product (mobility + text + voice mail + built in roldex) for less than 14% per month of that stationary landline... and the kicker being that with more competition the price would be lower and the minimal package of services would be greater... there are places in the world where phone services are better-cheaper-smoother than New York City...

    given the horrific snarl of paperwork it takes about a decade to build affordable housing in New York City and by that time the paint has dried what was intended as 'low end' apartments are now viewed by middle class folk as something tolerable (as in, “something better than nothing”) due to dire need thus leading to lowering expectations along with allocating an ever larger percentage of income towards basic housing...

    then there's all manner of tweaks and workarounds... there was quasi-airBnB before there was a formalized mega-website for airBnB... illegal short term rentals and studio apartments turned into boarding houses for four strangers jammed into less than 200 SQ FT... as far back as the 1980s I knew of H1B visa computer consultants from India (and Estonia and Pakistan and Lebanon) whose 'employment agency' was also their slumlord... near-impossible for someone coming off the airplane to rent an apartment and they each intended to rough it in order to send home as much of each paycheck as feasible... so... four men in a studio

    and this had to be known to the city government, hmmm?

    457:

    so... for those already in 2024 please provide intel to those of us in 2023 on how best to survive the remainder...

    458:

    @457 - So far I'm disappointed that there are no talking dogs. We were supposed to get talking dogs!

    "The year is 2024 - a future you will probably live to see"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Boy_and_His_Dog_%281975_film%29

    459:

    Follow-up post: Total cost for the US alone in The War Against Terror (TWAT) was about $8 Trillion. Homelessness is a policy choice.

    I think it important to remember that most of that money was spent in America, and benefited American corporations/business owners. That's a pretty big lobby against redirecting the money to other uses, even if it would be more beneficial for more people. Eisenhower's thoughts on the military-industrial complex spring to mind, as do Butler's.

    460:

    to consider the effects of anti-monopoly policies in the form of regulated competition, please consider the price charged for long distance phone calls across North America

    As someone who worked in the phone business at the start of deregulation, for decades the system was set up to subsidize personal use through extra charges on business users. Long distance was mostly used by businesses so was one of the services that was charged more than the cost of providing it to subsidize local residential lines.

    A note here for UK users: in North America local calls were (and still are) billed at a flat rate per month no matter how many (or few) calls you make. Business lines were charged a higher flat rate because they were more likely to be in use (especially during peak hours) so required more provisioning. (This is one of the things that caused problems with early computer networking, as a modem call totally bollixes up the provisioning calculations.)

    The deal behind the regulated monopoly that was the Bell System was that residential customers got affordable local calling (which was all most people used back then) and an extremely reliable system. Extremely reliable, like one hour downtime in 40 years reliable. A lot of the resistance to any change to the system was that any opening up to competition risked lowering that reliability. The system was designed to work as a trusted whole, from the phone wired to the wall to the top-level exchange. (Plug in your own cheap phone and who knows what that might do to the line card!)

    Opening up the long distance market to competition lowered long distance costs but raised the cost of local calls, as they were no longer being subsidized by long distance users. There were lots of arguments over how much long distance companies should pay local companies, because of course without the local companies there would be no long distance calls (as no one would have phones).

    Competition also lowered the reliability of the network. Outages are more common than they used to be by nearly an order of magnitude. One might argue that the changed price structure and increased services make that an acceptable trade-off, but that discussion never actually happened; instead the loss of reliability was simply not mentioned by those pushing the Brave New World of increased competition. (Indeed, some of those pushing the new model actually claimed it would increase reliability, because The Invisible Hand would work its magic or something like that.)

    Related to that, in the old days if your phone didn't work you contacted Bell and they found and fixed the problem. After deregulation if your phone didn't work you had to diagnose which of the many companies providing your phone service needed to fix it and persuade them to actually find and fix the problem, when their first-level customer support usually just blamed another company. Residential customer satisfaction with the phone system as a whole lowered after deregulation, although businesses and those that made long distance calls were happy with lower business rates and long-distance charges. (I don't know what current satisfaction numbers are — I left the business and don't have access to that data.)

    461:

    TWAT: Cute and sophomoric. Also misogynistic.

    It's usually called the war on terror. Formally, the Global War on Terrorism or GWOT.

    462:

    A note here for UK users: in North America local calls were (and still are) billed at a flat rate per month no matter how many (or few) calls you make.

    Well, sort of. Over the last 2 decades land lines (local calls) have been falling through the floor. To the extend the local "Bells" are dropping the option. Sort of.

    If you want a "local line" these day in most of the country you'll get an internet connection to a box that converts things back to a POTS circuit. Even if you don't buy Internet from said company.

    Basically for people under 40 and especially for those under 30, getting a phone line isn't even considered. They have a cell phone.

    The old business models are completely broken. It is no longer a guaranteed return on capital as it was during regulation. Which is why AT&T keeps trying to get into the TV business. Except the younger folks are also ignoring that now. Verizon seems to have made a better bet by building out their cell tower network better and earlier than everyone else. But also have managed to piss off most everyone who is considering buying a cell phone.

    Anyway, times have certainly changed from my pre-school days in the later 50s when we had a party line. Back about 1970, my aunt, who worked as a local Bell operator, ordered a new phone in rotary black when she moved. Colors and touch tone cost about a $1 extra each per month then. The installer showed up and tried hard to sell her on a color. She refused. So he got out a white phone and a can of black spray paint and went to work.

    463:

    Jon Meltzer @ 458:

    @457 - So far I'm disappointed that there are no talking dogs. We were supposed to get talking dogs!

    "The year is 2024 - a future you will probably live to see"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Boy_and_His_Dog_%281975_film%29

    ... and flying cars.

    464:

    Robert Prior @ 460:

    to consider the effects of anti-monopoly policies in the form of regulated competition, please consider the price charged for long distance phone calls across North America

    As someone who worked in the phone business at the start of deregulation, for decades the system was set up to subsidize personal use through extra charges on business users. Long distance was mostly used by businesses so was one of the services that was charged more than the cost of providing it to subsidize local residential lines.

    A note here for UK users: in North America local calls were (and still are) billed at a flat rate per month no matter how many (or few) calls you make. Business lines were charged a higher flat rate because they were more likely to be in use (especially during peak hours) so required more provisioning. (This is one of the things that caused problems with early computer networking, as a modem call totally bollixes up the provisioning calculations.)

    In some locales in the U.S. local residential telephone service was on a tiered basis ... not the word I'm looking for but it wasn't always "flat rate per month". You were allowed a certain number of minutes usage per month (a high number, but still a limit) and if you exceeded that limit, your phone bill went UP for the month and your family got a new HIGHER flat rate for the following month.

    Learned that as a teenager. Plus "local" was a kind of flexible term. There were local phone companies that were NOT owned by Bell & their boundaries sometimes constrained "local" in odd ways. In Durham, NC we were an island of General Telephone in a sea of Bell ...

    My best friend lived all of 3 miles away when I was a teenager, but it was still a long distance call because his family lived in Bell territory.

    Competition also lowered the reliability of the network. Outages are more common than they used to be by nearly an order of magnitude. One might argue that the changed price structure and increased services make that an acceptable trade-off, but that discussion never actually happened; instead the loss of reliability was simply not mentioned by those pushing the Brave New World of increased competition. (Indeed, some of those pushing the new model actually claimed it would increase reliability, because The Invisible Hand would work its magic or something like that.)

    I must say I never saw a drop-off in reliability with deregulation. Even after Hurricane Fran when my power was off for a month, I had phone service uninterrupted.

    The only way it affected me was I had to CHOOSE a long distance provider (AT&T). My employer chose a different one (MCI), so whenever I had to make a long distance call for their business, I had to dial an "800" number, enter my company issued MCI calling card number, and then the number I wanted to call.

    OTOH, Raleigh & Durham became part of a wider local calling area so it was no longer a long distance call to talk to my Mom over in Durham.

    Related to that, in the old days if your phone didn't work you contacted Bell and they found and fixed the problem. After deregulation if your phone didn't work you had to diagnose which of the many companies providing your phone service needed to fix it and persuade them to actually find and fix the problem, when their first-level customer support usually just blamed another company. Residential customer satisfaction with the phone system as a whole lowered after deregulation, although businesses and those that made long distance calls were happy with lower business rates and long-distance charges. (I don't know what current satisfaction numbers are — I left the business and don't have access to that data.)

    Personally, my only dissatisfaction was with Southern Bell's ducked-up billing and arrogant attitude toward resolving customer complaints.

    But I don't think that was any different from the days when they were a monopoly, which they still were for Raleigh residential customers - it was Southern Bell or do without. You could dispute an unfair charge, but you still had to pay it or they'd cut your phone off.

    Note: This was MY experience dealing with The Phone Company here in Durham & Raleigh North Carolina. YMMV!

    465:

    TWAT: Cute and sophomoric

    That's open to interpretation. At least in Australian English you can twat someone as well as being a twat. But then we also benefit from the efforts of people like Germaine Greer back when she was a feminist, greatly librating the use of the C word that I probably shouldn't write here, despite it being almost as flexible as fuck.

    In the local vernacular you could hear "don't just stand there ya fucken c..., twat the fucken twat if he's being a c...". Probably not in parliament, but not far outside it... as DJ Fuknukle showed with our favourite "I didn't actually hit her" PM.

    466:

    Re: '... getting a phone line isn't even considered. They have a cell phone.'

    And they can move anywhere in the country and not have to change their phone number if they've already got country-wide calling. One less time-wasting hassle for people who've moved/relocated because of their job.

    The local unregulated (unmaintained) landline scenario is now the local unregulated (unmaintained) internet provider scenario. Not good esp. since increasingly more communications and commerce are dependent on the InterWeb.

    467:

    "It's usually called the war on terror. Formally, the Global War on Terrorism or GWOT."

    Is it really? Gosh, silly me. I can't imagine however I managed to miss such a thoroughly marketed and utterly meaningless term that dominated public discourse for 20 years.

    Branding aside, the actual effect of that moronic exercise was about 900,000 dead with no net positive effect on any part of the world outside the board rooms and quarterly reports of a number of arms manufacturers. At least two countries were pounded to rubble, one of which looks almost exactly the same as it did in August of 2000, except with a lot more corpses.

    Americans, Brits and others did get a whole new generation of traumatized servicepersons to 'thank for their service' while also allowing unconscionable numbers of them to commit suicide and/or spiral into homelessness. So there is that.

    I have spent the past 22 years appalled and disgusted at the colossal waste of human life and potential that the so-called 'Global War on Terror' was so obviously going to become that I have allowed myself the occasional sophomoric word. A more accurate name would be 'The Monstrous Clusterfuck That Always Happens When Leaders Drink Their Own Koolaid', but that doesn't acronym well.

    468:

    "If you want a "local line" these day in most of the country you'll get an internet connection to a box that converts things back to a POTS circuit. Even if you don't buy Internet from said company.

    Basically for people under 40 and especially for those under 30, getting a phone line isn't even considered. They have a cell phone."

    ?? I have never had a "land line" for any functions other than interwebnettery and catching scammers, and I'm 61 years old. Real callers (including those older than me) know to use my cell.

    469:

    A more accurate name would be 'The Monstrous Clusterfuck That Always Happens When Leaders Drink Their Own Koolaid', but that doesn't acronym well.

    Maybe the Military Industrial Complexes' Ratfucking Of...Citizens And Democratic Societies?

    The first five words lend themselves to a pungent backronym at least.

    470:

    David L @ 462:

    The old business models are completely broken. It is no longer a guaranteed return on capital as it was during regulation. Which is why AT&T keeps trying to get into the TV business. Except the younger folks are also ignoring that now. Verizon seems to have made a better bet by building out their cell tower network better and earlier than everyone else. But also have managed to piss off most everyone who is considering buying a cell phone.

    I think Altel built that cell network, and Verizon acquired it when they acquired Altel.

    IIRC, I got my first cell phone in 1991**. The carrier was Cellular One. I chose them because they had the best coverage in central & eastern North Carolina. My job with the alarm company required me to carry a pager & I'd get pinged by the office (Atlanta & later Greensboro) several times a day and I'd have to find a pay phone to call in.

    Pay phones were already beginning to get scarce (actual phone BOOTHS were a thing long past; even Superman couldn't find a phone BOOTH) & with the cell phone, I could call from INSIDE my truck I didn't have to shout to be heard over external noise or get things repeated multiple times so I could hear them.

    Cellular One was bought out by GTE (who I think later became Sprint), who in turn were bought by Altel ... whose network was what Verizon wanted when they bought them.

    Worked out pretty well for me because with each acquisition the area where I could call from, without incurring roaming charges, got more inclusive.

    **Could have been any time from 1989 to 1991.

    471:

    paws4thot @ 468:

    "If you want a "local line" these day in most of the country you'll get an internet connection to a box that converts things back to a POTS circuit. Even if you don't buy Internet from said company.
    Basically for people under 40 and especially for those under 30, getting a phone line isn't even considered. They have a cell phone."

    ?? I have never had a "land line" for any functions other than interwebnettery and catching scammers, and I'm 61 years old. Real callers (including those older than me) know to use my cell.

    So, how did you communicate with family, friends & collegues for the first 30 years of your life without a land line telephone?

    I didn't get internet until late 1994 and I was a fairly early adopter among the general population - those who are NOT computer science researchers ...

    And even when I got the internet, it was Dial-Up ... you had to have a phone line for that.

    Before that I was using dial-up to call local BBS ~ 10 years or so. I didn't get a "dedicated" internet connection until the late 90s - and that was ADSL (IF you could afford it, you could get a T1 line ... but that was still a land line).

    And as I've noted before I was also a fairly early adopter of cell phones (1991) & that service wasn't good enough to completely replace land lines for another couple of decades.

    472:

    All the horseshit I had to put up with in 2023 & I still didn't get a pony for Christmas!

    473:

    O "...a personal land line..." - Happy now?

    474:

    In Oz "landline" seems to be bundled with wired internet, for a while even complete with a battery in/near the modem so it works for a bit during a power cut. Or used to be, I have cable internet and no battery but apparently still have a phone line or at least a landline phone number. I don't think I own a phone that I copuld plug into it if I knew which sockets work (the house was plaugued with them when we move in and I keep removing them when they annoy me - mostly when painting skirting boards.

    Todays "fun" projct is removing the extractor fan that (used to) suck oily crap from the stove into the ceiling cavity. I figure I'm scraping/sanding/patching the kitchen ceiling, I might as well fix the annoying hole in it while I'm there.

    475:

    I have never had a "land line" for any functions other than interwebnettery and catching scammers, and I'm 61 years old. Real callers (including those older than me) know to use my cell.

    What did you have for a phone prior to 1990 or so? Or were you with your parents?

    476:

    We were part of a trial where most the local copper phone lines got replaced as far as the poles in the road - its only copper from pole to house.

    We pointed out that due to a hill between us and the nearest major town (pop 50,000) 8 miles away we cannot even get text, on our mobiles so in a power cut we are cut off from 999 services. They suggested we could buy an £85 backup power supply. We were cheesed off but asked for detail, but they never got back to us.

    The trial was a success and is now being duplicated widely with power supplies handed out for free if needed. Its amazing anyone joins BT.

    So, I would settle for text, normal phone services or 4G arriving here sometime this decade...

    477:

    How is beaming TV channels into Afghanistan going to work when the Taliban (post Russian invasion pre 9/11) in Kabul had residents hanging their TVs from telephone poles in the street because watching TV meant they might not be spending all their spare time reading the magic book of all necessary wisdom?

    478:

    IIRC Telstra (formerly the state-owned monopoly) has nano-cells in its 4G wifi routers that you can optionally set up to share with other Telstra opt-ins via joining a "Telstra local wifi" opt-in thing. I'm not sure of the details because the liability for anything that's done with said wifi rests with the person named on the contract and that seems unattractive to me. (Viz, if J Random joins the thing then walks over to my house to DL their child porn, I'm the one that's liable even though Telstra have to know who J Random is for the system to work)

    479:

    4G arriving here sometime this decade...

    So is 5G not a government conspiracy and cancer causing tech that will never get there? At least in the UK like it is in the US?

    I mean do you even want 4G. We have people over here wearing amulets to ward off 4G/5G signals so they can stay healthy. I believe Amazon has a big collection of choices.

    David L