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And the Rabid Nazi Raccoons shall inherit the Earth

So here's the final (only slightly late) installment of my predictions for 2017.

Have a happy new year!

October Theresa May resigns as Prime Minister of the UK after a delegation from the 1922 Committee pay her a visit with baseball bats. Boris Johnson, one-time leader-in-waiting, bribes his way onto one of the few still-flying airliners bound for the United States and tweets in mid-air about his intention to request political asylum and re-assert his US citizenship. The aircraft is intercepted over the Atlantic and shot down by F-15s acting at the request of President Pence (who really doesn't want to give BoJo a shot at making his run in 2024).

An elderly back-bencher is prevailed upon to do the honorable thing and accept the office of the Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds, thereby freeing up a seat for a by-election. On the basis of the theory that when you're up to your nose in shit the only way out is to take a deep breath and dive, Nigel Farage is fast-tracked as candidate for the by-election and, upon election, is promptly shoved through the door at Number Ten: at his first interview with the monarch he is told "you broke it, you fix it". (His subsequent plaintive requests for Jimmy Saville's phone number go unanswered.)

In the wake of the September melt-down, Germany's Bundestag elections produce huge voter swings to the AfD (from the CDU) and the Greens and Left (from the SPD), with the Pirate Party passing the critical 5% threshold for the first time. The AfD, taking heart from what they perceive as a swing to the right in global politics, go one step too far by openly calling for the rehabilitation of Adolf Hitler and are banned by the constitutional court; a Green/Left/Pirate coalition is formed and announces its intention of moving to leave the World Trade Organization to permit a sweeping regime of nationalization of banks and financial institutions and emergency measures to keep industry and agriculture going.

The new hard-left German government with it's Grumpy Cat logo is greeted with horror in the United States and is denounced in Moscow as Communism. However, when the new regime in Berlin announces its intention of forgiving all personal debt owed by Greek borrowers (denominated in the collapsed Euro, hence not worth very much at all) and to institute a universal basic income scheme throughout the EU and work to abolish wage slavery for all it buys them a lot of friends. The situation is very murky, and made murkier by the slow, unanounced withdrawal of Russian tanks from the Baltic region and their re-appearance further south.

(The joke that "the surprise twist in the third act is that Germans get to be the good guys who save the world" trends on twitter, where most people aren't aware of the underlying catastrophic financial situation: roughly 90% of the money circulating in global markets has evaporated, the two current (and one previous) planetary reserve currencies have imploded, crops are rotting in the fields and containers rusting aboard drifting freighters.)

The Russian government rhetoric about reunification with the Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltics, and certain bits of Poland cools off remarkably rapidly as the Russian foreign ministry tries to work out how to save the President's Bahamian bank accounts and keep the lights on over winter.

There is a particularly ominous silence from China, where state censorship has clamped down with extreme rapidity on any unapproved news about interest rates, exports, the balance of trade surplus, and the gathering global financial crisis. There are rumors of lock-ins, and of riots and massacres outside closed factory gates: the shock waves are still feeding back through the supply chain but the liquidity crisis is affecting demand for Chinese exports, and the workshop of the world is about to down tools for the first time since 1989, ending the post-Tiananmen settlement.

The third week of October might be described as "the long double-take", a period during which the global balance of power is poised on a knife edge so sharp that nobody dares to breathe. The situation is clearly worse than the 2008 crisis, with major political protest votes rocking the entire developed world.

Then President Pence catches a dose of stomach flu and Donald Trump pops up in the Oval Office like the unwelcome surprise at the end of a slasher movie: "I'm baaaaack!"

... And the Campi Flegrei finally erupts, spewing smoke and ash 25km into the stratosphere and emitting a pyroclastic flow that rolls over Naples; shortly thereafter a second eruption breaks out beneath the Gulf of Pozzuoli, creating a steam explosion the like of which hasn't been seen since the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. The first eruption is estimated to have killed two million people directly: the second one shatters windows from Edinburgh to Tel Aviv, swamps both north and south Mediterranean coastlines with tsunami waves, kills half the population of Italy and a quarter of the population of Greece, and ejects an estimated 200 cubic kilometers of dust and debris, shutting down aviation again and ushering in a period of intense global cooling that will result in famines and ultimately starve up to half a billion people.

President Trump's response is to appoint his golf caddy to head up FEMA and to tweet furiously about the urgent need to cut the foreign aid budget.

November A long-period comet is identified crossing the orbit of Venus, inbound towards the sun for the first time in half a million years. An elderly comet, it isn't outgassing much any more, so lacked a visible coma (tail) until it was unusually close to the sun. Astronomers excitedly announce that its course crosses the Earth's orbit so closely that it is expected to pass between the Earth and the Moon on its way out, in December.

However, nobody much gets to hear the news because a new and particularly virulent piece of malware is doing the rounds, hijacking kettles, toasters, and car stereos worldwide. Like most such, it demands a ransom payable in Bitcoin; but Bitcoin has inflated so much since the malware was released that nobody can afford to unlock their devices, and meanwhile the botnet continues to look for other devices to hijack—including popular cable and ADSL modems, cellular base stations, and iPhones (by way of a hitherto unidentified zero-day exploit). With over 200 million hosts it's the biggest botnet in history, and it succeeds in doing what no botnet has done before, and shutting down cellular data traffic across much of the developed and developing world.

(Also? The alt-right leaders riding high have noticed that reality has a marked left-wing political bias and aren't listening to—or paying—scientists any more.)

November 21st: it's probably not connected in any way with October's eruption in the Mediterranean, but one thing's for sure: the Cascadia Subduction Zone has been frisky for the past few tens of thousands of years. There's also some evidence that the Cascadia subduction zone has triggered most of the quakes along the San Andreas Faultline in California. The long feared "big one" finally strikes: an undersea magintude 9 quake about fifty miles off the coast between Portland and Seattle triggers tsunamis all the way north to Vancouver and south as far as Northern California. Luckily—perhaps—the temblors are down below magnitude 8 when they strike the coastal cities; unfortunately they're still violent enough to cause devastation, washing away everything within a mile of the coastline and even further inland in some places (as with the quakes that followed the Great Tohoku Quake of 2011). The Hanford DOE Site is fortunately far away from the coastline. Unfortunately, many of the most contaminated buildings there—dating to the 1940s—were built without adequate attention to earthquake resilience, and thus one of the most heavily contaminated nuclear sites on the planet takes a magnitude 7+ quake on the chin.

Drinking from the Columbia river after the quake is, shall we say, contraindicated.

Aftershocks continue, to the dismay of the survivors, for the next couple of weeks. The San Andreas fault burps, but it's a relatively minor 4.5 magnitude shimmy that probably causes more heart attacks due to anxiety than actual direct casualties. Mount Hood begins to tremble and outgas a plume of steam, but the survivors are too busy to pay much attention: there are tens of thousands of dead and a radiological disaster bigger than Three Mile Island for Trump's golf caddy to deal with.

Nigel Farage has not been heard from for two weeks after being appointed Prime Minister, but a steadily growing pile of empty cans of Carlsberg Special Brew is building up by the back door of Number Ten.

December On the first of December, the worst news of all finally escapes into the wild, bristling and growling beneath the spotlights. The path of Comet Trump-LePen-Putin-Farage (the discoverers waived the opportunity to name it after themselves) has been calculated, and it is definitely going to pass between the Earth and the Moon. In fact, it's going to pass so close there's some uncertainty over whether it's going to pass between the ISS and the Earth. In fact ...

... Let's just hope our successor species (the descendants, two megayears hence, of the indigenous Bavarian Raccoons, themselves introduced to Europe for hunting purposes by senior Nazis, and now a rabies vector, so we can reasonably call them rabid nazi racoons) make a better job of it than we did!

(Fade to black, to the tune of We'll Meet Again.)



Your last post here will read, "We got nuked rather than hit by a comet, so I have to rewrite major sections of the next Laundry novel before I die of radiation sickness. Hopefully someone is still alive at Tor to receive the file when I'm finished."


Actually, I just realized that what with the Hanford and Windscale disasters in this time line, they're probably radioactive rabid nazi raccoons!

And they worship an idol in the shape of a golden hairpiece.


Imagine, President (In all but name) Pence becomes convinced by a dubious interpretation of scripture that vaporized people are translated directly to heaven, and he sees The Button...


Are the rabid Bavarian raccoons also radioactive, like some German wild boars?

More importantly, who will direct the superhero movie about them?

Argh! Ninja'd in preview!


I think we need an anthology of stories about the hilariously wrong theories the RRNR have about the Great Extinction.


Worryingly, probably the most optimistic prediction about late 2017 that I have read thus far.


Rabid Nazi raccoons? I though the Earth would be inherited by beetle people?


I did a Google search for Bavarian Raccoons. This page is already #2.


Corvids may dispute that leadership.


Might as well go for broke.
If San Andreas can get triggered, why not the Yellowstone Supervolcano? Once saw a simulation of it that included supersonic pyroclastic flows rushing down the front range of the Rockies. Would reach here in something like a half hour. A bit toasty for my taste.


IIRC the reservoir of the Yellowstone Supervolcano is only about 1/4 full. It needs another ten thousand years or so before it's ready to go again. But what about the Toba volcano? OGH hasn't spread enough disaster to the Asian regions, and that one might be ready!


2018: the Flying Spaghetti Monster twiddles His Noodly Appendages and wonders why it's gone so quiet down there...


As far as I can tell, in this entire trilogy until December nothing bad at all happens to Australia and New Zealand. That's gotta be some sort of discrimination. Don't your loyal fans in the southern hemisphere deserve worse treatment? :-)

I though the Earth would be inherited by beetle people?
If you've played the 4X game Stellaris, you probably know that most of the time, when your species discover Terra, it's toxic to all major evolved species and inhabited by some giant mutants insectoids.

... who are highly prized across the galaxy because they can be used to colonize some planets that would be uninhabitable otherwise.


Okay; in a surprise political upset in March, Turnbull is kicked out by his party in a coup that sees Tony Abbot return as Prime Minister. And as an insurance policy (he's not totally incapable of learning!) the Mad Monk cuts a deal with Pauline Hanson that effectively hands her responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs and Immigration Policy, thereby ensuring that he's only the second most hated politician in Oz.

New Zealand ... let's just say Christchurch gets another quake, only supersized, and leave it at that? I'm feeling lazy and there are only about five million people there!


The presence of super volcanos in Antarctica is demonstrated by an eruption that clears off the ice cap in hours, excitement ensues... briefly.


Long time reader, first time commenter.

Your Australian analysis seems reasonable. However I'd add the additional complication of the Taupo supervolcano going skywards in about September, wiping out Aotearoa in seconds, and causing much extra angst in the Oz media over what might happen to Sydney and Melbourne property prices if we can't see the sun any more.

The impending human extinction will also be viewed as posing significant risk to property prices. An auction clearance downturn will be heavily commented on in the days before impact.


All those broken windows will surely kick-start the global economy.


Satellite photos showing a giant shining humanoid figure straddling the continent immediately before are dismissed as Photoshopped swamp gas.


Raccoons, radioactive/nazi or not are definitely next in line ....


Very funny, but...

"radiological disaster bigger than Three Mile Island" Very unimpressive. To quote the official report on the incident: "The average radiation dose to people living within ten miles of the plant was eight millirem, and no more than 100 millirem to any single individual. Eight millirem is about equal to a chest X-ray, and 100 millirem is about a third of the average background level of radiation received by US residents in a year."

Provable death toll was zero. But hey, let's not let facts get in the way of anti-nuclear propaganda, shall we?

BTW, the Chernobyl incident wasn't an accident. It wasn't even intentional sabotage; it was an officially sanctioned, and extremely stupid, experiment. About what one might expect from the Soviet Union, which never demonstrated much concern for the safety of its citizens - typically communist.

I wonder how many Party higher-ups' dachas there were in the vicinity? Or rather, I don't.


Perhaps OGH might consider gluing all this together into a The Year of the Jackpot homage -- perhaps something along the lines of A Colder War. It would need shoggoths, but they would be quite thematic and easy to integrate into the plot. They might even have orange hairpieces.


If it came to that I would be happy to accept the comet & let the raccoons have a go, provided that we can find a way to arrange for the last of the human worlds productive capacity go towards making them evil little uniforms...


I think you're on the wrong thread.


But wait... wait... you left out Case Nightmare Green! Oh... 2018, you say? I guess I can wait that long.

Charlie, won't you feel horribly embarrassed if all these things happen as predicted? You'll be all, like, "everyone thought I was kidding, but really I was serious". *G*

I think the only thing I'd seriously quibble over is the casualties from a supervolcano eruption. Global food security is awfully fragile, and I suspect widespread starvation would far exceed your estimate. Not necessarily to the point of an extinction-level event, but I'd say that half a billion casualties might be optimistic. That doesn't even include survival cannibalism and plague, which would both seriously ramp up the death rate.


I don't know, I felt that this ending was a little bit of a let down. It's far too hopeful.

You see, in this story, our political failings are ultimately irrelevant: the thing that finally does us in is the random vagaries of mother nature.

Le Pen, May, Pence, and Trump's incompetence is, in the end, a non-issue. What are we to worry about the puny machinations of humanity, in the face of the awesome power of the volcano, the earthquake, and the comet? All is irrelevant in the end.

The fault, dear Charlie, lies not in ourselves, but in our stars.


It's the GM losing patience. Rocks fall, everyone dies.


> Carlsberg Special Brew

A lovely sense of irony, to have Nige drinking his way out on the lager invented for Winston Churchill...


So Charlie, could you please leave the Cascadian Subduction Zone alone??!!

Those of us who are its likely victims would rather persist in our denial.


I figured a bit of riffing of "On the Beach".


Re: '... hitherto unidentified zero-day exploit)...'

Wonder if this was originally intended to stop DT tweeting. And if communications are down, will there be more or less panic?

Volcanoes ... Cooler oceans from all of that volcanism could mean octopi start dying off while fish rebound. And if these particular volcanoes spew more iron than other minerals, this would also stimulate a phytoplankton bloom and give all of the marine food chain a boost and reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. (Charlie - are you sure some agency didn't plan this? Seems just too pat in terms of which creatures it affects and how.)

Such circumstances could also provide the impetus for some new economics because if all of the traditional markets/currencies have crashed, markets/traders are unable to communicate with each other instantaneously, and the ordinary Joe's/Jane's kids are starving, who's going to care what the guy in the corner office is ranting about. Time to give statistical teleodynamics a try, i.e., fairness is the true cornerstone of a healthy capitalist system, overpaid CEOs are bad for business.

Astronomy ... Planet Nine and Nemesis will be discovered to be not only habitable super-Earths but also getting closer a lot faster to Earth than their hypothesized orbits suggest. They're big and show up only every 20,000 or 26 million years (respectively), coincident with major extinction events.


(And Nazi raccoons? I suppose they've got opposable thumbs, but hands aren't going to be a particular evolutionary advantage in the (medium term) post-impact economy. Things like insectivory, small size, ability to burrow, definitely! Maybe echidnas will inherit the Earth. Or striated pardalotes.)


One of the first acts of the House Republicans of the new 115th Congress was to hold a closed meeting at night on a national holiday in order to secretly vote to gut the power of the independent House ethics office. So score one for cartoonish villainy in 2017.

On the bright side, there was an immediate backlash from constituents that forced the changes to be scrapped.


This seems far to optimistic to me.


I agree. And I wrote a song about it:

I'm waitin' for Cthulhu,
Got that gun in my mouth.
Oh yeah I'm waitin' for Cthulhu,
Got that gun in my mouth.
He's gonna rise up from the ocean,
And kill all but his devout.

I'm waitin' for Yog Sothoth,
Got that gun in my mouth.
Yeah I'm waitin' for Yog Sothoth,
Got that gun in my mouth.
He's gonna open up our space-time,
Grab my soul and wring it out.

I got those Trump just got elected,
Ms. May makes me dejected,
Waiting 'til the stars are right
Blue - ooze!


That was exceptionally foot-in-mouth stupid, even for them.
Doesn't go far towards expectations, does it?

OTOH, let's suppose we really did spot a comet "incoming" - we now have between a year & 18 months ... could it be diverted to just miss ( "Wind from a burning Woman" ) or not?
Assume using all-out whole-planet martial law to enable ... is it possible: at all ??


Hugh Fisher @ 13: I already mentioned what was happening here in Australia back in the comments for part II - basically, the Liberal/National coalition government continues on with "business as usual" (kicking the poor when they're down; attempting to get their snouts and all four trotters firmly inside the trough; cutting taxes to big business[1]; offering bribes to mine-builders to get them to build mines; and for the far right wing of the party, getting their way by threatening to leave and start their own party; etc etc etc). As far as I'm concerned, that's disaster enough.

If there is anyone in the current crop of Liberal or National party federal politicians who would be capable of dealing in a reasonable and practical manner with even the first of the minor problems OGH listed in the first part of this (death of HM the Q; succession of Prince Charles as George VII), I would be massively surprised, and they've been hiding their light under a very large bushel indeed.

Presumably we get the fun of being the impact site for Comet TlPPF (the abbreviation stands for the sound it makes as it impacts).

[1] Given a lot of Australia's most profitable businesses pay no tax anyway, I've no idea how the government thinks they're going to beat an effective tax rate of 0%, but hey, I'm not a Liberal party politician.


Given a lot of Australia's most profitable businesses pay no tax anyway, I've no idea how the government thinks they're going to beat an effective tax rate of 0%

Two things spring to mind: guaranteeing a billion dollar loan to Adani so their coal mine in Queensland can enure we break our global carbon budget until 2050 by 2030; and underwriting our banks unconditionally, even after proving that they've systematically defrauded the taxpayer as well as their customers. It's part of the neoliberal global competition to "attract business", because obviously if we don't subsidise Adani here they'll just mine coal somewhere else. Same with Australian banks, without that assistance they'd close down here and move offshore (because they've done that so successfully in the past {snigger}).

Don't forget the implicit subsidies via "what externalities? We see no externalities here! Climate change is a myth, coal is good for humanity". I'm sure there's more.


Living in On the Beach location Melbourne does give one a smug confidence that we will be among the last survivors of the apocalypse.

Fun fact 1: Melbourne journalist Neil Jillett admitted in 1982 that he fabricated a quote from Ava Gardner that dull, 1950s Melbourne "is a story about the end of the world, and Melbourne sure is the right place to film it."

Re. an Abbott comeback: After the debacle of the last Australian Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor government,when PM Rudd was deposed by Julia Gillard, who was then undermined and deposed by Rudd, who promptly lost an election to a gleeful Abbott who couldn't believe his born-to-rule luck, an Abbott coup would be greeted with gales of laughter from anyone left of centre, and certainty that the conservatives will lose the next election. So sorry, Charlie, but you've given Australians a happy ending.

(Fringe xenophobe Pauline Hanson could hardly be worse than the current immigration minister, Peter Dutton. Actual Dutton quote, about asylum seekers suffering in Australia's offshore detention camps: "Some people have even gone to the extent of self-harming and people have self-immolated in an effort to get to Australia. . .").

Re. Australian property prices, I'm sure Abbott policy will be that property remains an excellent investment, and anyway comets don't exist, and anyway the scientamists are only using models, and we shouldn't do anything because that would be socialism, unless that nice Mr. Murdoch wants to get into the rocket launch business, in which case how big should the cheque be, Rupert?

Fun fact 2: After the conservatives lost government in 2007, the two lead contenders for opposition leadership were Abbott and Costello.


Edit: D'oh. Ava Gardner was (supposedly) referring to On the Beach, in which she starred.


I was in Melbourne during the Games in 2006 - too late, "Australia First" was already running your sports media ;) if only as a principle, not the Party ;)

It was actually funny - it was so biased (cameras cut away immediately after the Australian bronze medal is hung round someone's neck; sports without an Australian medal uncovered), that even the Australians noticed that their sports press gave absolutely no coverage to non-Australians...

Let's just say that I could give two specific examples where different event organisers... shall we say, "obviously by pure chance"... gave the Australian athletes the best possible opportunity to achieve peak performance?


OTOH, let's suppose we really did spot a comet "incoming" - we now have between a year & 18 months ... could it be diverted to just miss ( "Wind from a burning Woman" ) or not?

My gut feeling is "nope".

Could we get a vehicle out to rendezvous with a comet detected 12-18 months out? Maybe if it was immediately perceived as a threat; it'd be possible at this point to brute-force the project — have the US government throw money at SpaceX to flight-qualify Falcon Heavy on a war footing/cost no object basis, running test flights with operational payloads and investigating the accidents in parallel with continued flight operations, for example. Russia, China, and the EU all have heavy lift rockets as well, although nothing currently operating in quite the same class. (FH is due to fly for the first time later this year and has the highest payload to orbit of any US vehicle since Saturn V, or maybe the Shuttie stack if you count the orbiter itself as "payload".)

But could we do anything useful when we got there?

Remember, comets are huge; we're talking billions of tons of gravel and ice, multiple cubic kilometers. Completely vaporizing a comet is a non-starter. Changing its trajectory using high impulse long duration thrust of some sort is possible, but not in less than multiple years using a gravity tractor.

The best we could do would be to lob H-bombs at it in an attempt to break it up, so that instead of one gigaton mass impactor we get hit by maybe a hundred ten megaton impactors, thereby subbing a hundred Tunguska-grade explosions for a single dinosaur killer. (Think in terms of whether you'd prefer to be hit by a single slug from a shotgun, or by the same mass of smaller buckshot.) Three quarters of them would be mopped up by the ocean (oops, there go a bunch of coastal cities) but the rest ...? I think what amounts to a medium scale nuclear war only with all the regular H-bombs scaled up to Tsar Bomba size is the best we could hope for, with just 12-18 months to do the job.


Martin @ 42: Oh, our sprots journos are generally the worst of the worst anyway (Eddie Macguire, anyone? Anyone? Please? We'll throw in Sam Newman for free!?). Don't worry, we've long since realised the mistake which came from taking the rights to coverage of any "games" event (Olympic, Commonwealth, you name it) away from the ABC as far as the actual sporting coverage side of things goes. Problem is, of course, that these events make so much advertising money for the commercial stations they're never going to give 'em up, and they're willing to pay top dollar for the rights so they can make top dollar from the ads so they can afford to pay top dollar for the rights again. Won't even let the ABC cover the minority events like fencing and equestrian stuff (or even the events where there isn't an Australian presence).

Our country is a bit whacko about sports. I think the absolute nadir came, however, with the Sydney Olympics in 2000, which firstly shifted the date of the AFL grand final (in Melbourne - the network which was broadcasting the Olympics also has the rights for the AFL Grand Final, and couldn't cover both of them at once... so the AFL was kind enough to move the whole season forward about a month so channel 7 could cover the Olympics without any competition) and then required daylight saving in the east coast to kick in approximately a month early, so the US live broadcasting schedules on their east coast wouldn't be too badly affected by the fact that Australia is on the other side of the world.


I was afraid that might be the answer.
Even so, the scatter-buckshot effect is (just) preferable ....


100 ten megaton blasts? I'd take the chance. Fun exercise: select 100 random geographical coordinates (e.g. from, and see if your house -- or the crucial infrastructure underpinning the society you rely upon -- gets wrecked. I got lucky.

Would this even be random, though?


There have been studies which suggest that stand-off nuclear explosions ~20m from the comet surface would be among the best deflection techniques. Tricky, though. The explosions need to be big and accurate enough to generate useful thrust by vaporising the surface of the comet, without breaking it up.

In Charlie's scenario, where the comet is close, and time short, that would probably ony work if the comet is smallish, and on a trajectory to just graze the earth. Otherwise it would take many, many bombs to nudge hard enough.

A gigaton device (10x bigger than a Tsar Bomba) would in theory be enough to completely vaporise a 1km object, and 10 Gt devices have been proposed (and possibly designed).


Oh, it'll probably be more than a hundred! Remember, you're replacing a solid shotgun slug with the same mass of material traveling at the same speed only shattered into tiny pieces of shrapnel (FSVO "tiny" that corresponds to Tunguska-scale events).


As a San Francisco Bay area native, a 4.5 earthquake is barely newsworthy, you'd need more like a 6 to do more than rattle the china.

As to the comet, we need the B612 foundation more than ever, but, yeah, 18 months would be really tight, but all we need to do is nudge the comet a little bit, not that it will be easy, and it is huge, compared to what we can nudge it with.


> The best we could do would be to lob H-bombs at it in an attempt to break it up

Not in the "best we could do" position on the list of things to do to incoming impactors using H-bombs; that spot is taken by "lob H-bombs at a point several kilometres away from the surface off to one side to vapourise the surface and turn it into reaction mass to deflect the impactor".

But to get those into the right position (or close enough for government work) reliably? Within 18 months? Nope. I mean, we'd try, but the infrastructure isn't in place for that kind of in-orbit assembly, refuel and launch. You might be able to do it once (but it's unlikely, you can't really turn from Brexit and Trump to international cooperation in weeks even with a celestial gun to people's heads especially when most of them would deny the thing existed even after it hit); and once wouldn't be sufficient with the lead time available.

(We wouldn't even look at Falcon Heavy either, it doesn't work yet which means it's 100% useless for this task; you'd need existing heavy-lift vehicles, so Ariane V, Delta IV, Atlas V, Soyuz 2, Soyuz U. And Falcon 9 because we'd be desperate)

Plus, three mile island? C'mon Charlie, 800 bananas aren't *that* scary. Try the Mayak plant disaster, for bonus secret-USSR-nuclear-disaster points :)


If you're looking for fiction with that kind of setting, The Last Policeman has a good take on the world waiting for a big asteroid (6.5 km in diameter) to hit. It's a good mystery as well as an excellent look at a pre-apocalyptic society.



You think the end will be quick, after only a year of suffering. Oh no.

No, we've got a ticket to Cannibal-Town, with stops at Gas Chamber Junction and Rape Cult Square, and we're riding the midnight meat train all the way to the end of the line.


That still sounds like a better deal. I'd rather be shot with birdshot than a discarding sabot round. A bunch of comets breaking up in the atmosphere would be bad. Something peeling up the mantle of the crust and hurling it into orbit would be worse.


That was the story we got when I was being inducted into the UKAEA, decades ago, but the real story is a but more nuanced than "the most fucking stupid thing anybody ever did with a nuclear reactor" It was a combination of design flaws, inadequate training and a generally inadequate safety culture.

"Human factors contributed to the conditions that led to the disaster. These included operating the reactor at a low power level—less than 700 MW—a level documented in the run-down test programme, and operating with a small operational reactivity margin (ORM). The 1986 assertions of Soviet experts notwithstanding, regulations did not prohibit operating the reactor at this low power level.[42]:18

However, regulations did forbid operating the reactor with a small margin of reactivity. Yet "post-accident studies have shown that the way in which the real role of the ORM is reflected in the Operating Procedures and design documentation for the RBMK-1000 is extremely contradictory", and furthermore, "ORM was not treated as an operational safety limit, violation of which could lead to an accident".[42]:34–25"

There were two major RBMK design features that contributed to the Chernobyl disaster. Both have been addressed since.

"Positive Void Coefficient". The RBMK design is graphite moderated, and water cooled. As the reaction rate increases, and it gets hotter, steam bubbles start to form (ie. "voids"), so the water coolant absorbs fewer neutrons, the reaction rate goes up, and it gets hotter ... Normally the control system compensates for this by inserting control rods to absorb neutrons, but the design is unstable at low power levels.

The control rods had graphite tips, so for a couple of seconds as they were inserted the reaction rate actually went up as neutron absorbing water was displaced by more graphite moderator. When the operators tried to SCRAM the reactor, they got a power surge.



Sounds like the Aussies learned from the Yanks how Olympic coverage should be done :-/


OTOH, let's suppose we really did spot a comet "incoming" - we now have between a year & 18 months ... could it be diverted to just miss ( "Wind from a burning Woman" ) or not?

FWIW, there's some discussion of that in

Table 5.2 therein, Summary of the Implementation of Primary Strategies for Mitigating the Effects of Potential Near-Earth Object (NEO) Impacts (Action Matrix After a High Probability of Impact by an NEO Has Been Established), is informative and amusing.


Also, it seems to me, that the comet bits will remain grouped together, more or less. In which case it'll impact mostly on one side of the globe, with stragglers pounding down on various other spots. So not really that much of a difference between broken up or whole object impacting.
And, how big was the Chelyabinsk meteor? A big enough bit doesn't have to impact directly to cause massive damage.
Isn't there also a possibility, depending on how early it's blasted, that the debris could begin to re-coalesce, at least partly?
Yeah, total conjecture, been quite a while since I read Clarke's "Hammer of God".


Cthulhu - Yog-Sothoth 2020

Because how could it be any worse?


And, I was to delighted to discover, it was a three-book series... (Countdown City, and a World of Trouble covered the period until impact)


You know one of the sad things? In North of Italy there are plenty of those Trump and Le Pen spiritual brothers that would read your description of the Campi Flegrei eruption and cheer.
Without, apart for the obvious ethical implications, even stopping to consider the consequences for their own well being... purely out of spite.


>Because how could it be any worse?

I'm sure OGH will think of something...


Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth are both sensitive, benevolent creatures who have been unfairly libeled by certain squamophobic authors. If anything their return would be a benefit to us all.


Hmmm... Well, one possibility in this sort of absolute emergency would be an all-out, screw the expense and safety standards violations, project to design and build ground-launch Orion. (Some design work already done.) Sure, the launch site would be useless afterwards but...


As I understand it, best practice is to paint one side of such an object as far out as possible. It really doesn't take much change to generate a miss. (Whether you want to make it more shiny or more absorbent is a function of what it's made out of.)


Niven & Pournelle have already been there (Footfall), and a smallish cometary impact (Lucifer's Hammer). Both good lurid fun, but devoid of tentacles.


how about 1 kinetic impactor.. followed by a tsar bomba class bomb.
the impactor produces a stadium sized reflector for extra orion type thrust


The main problem with comets compared to your run-of-the-mill planet bashing asteroid is their velocity - in most cases we don't have the capability to launch from Earth something that could rendezvous with such a beastie with just a couple of months notice.

We could probably manage a high speed flypast, but if the idea is to disrupt a specific area in order to trigger outgassing for a rocket effect then the timing could be, err, challenging. The best bet might be to hit it face on with a number of (very) high explosive devices - at the relative velocities involved any kind of deviation is likely to result in a miss, and at least any fragments that do hit us wont be radioactive. Assuming of course that one of our over-tentacled friends doesn't nudge it back on course.


You left a big ol' dangling plot thread with the weaponized anthrax hitting Manhattan in Part 2.

Just sayin'--It probably would have gotten Pence instead of the stomach flu. And killed thousands, if not millions. That bug was designed to be impossible to kill.


O, and since raccoons apparently get anthrax but birds spread it, and because birds survived the last comet strike at least as well as mammals did, I'm going with the ravens for the win, not the coons.


And one more (sorry, I'm under the weather, so my thoughts are moving way too slow): thanks to the anthrax taking out most mammals that manage to survive the comet strike, dinosaur descendants retake the title of Earth's Dominant Animals for the first time in 75 million years.


It sure feels that way, doesn't it.

So maybe everyone can help me out here. Rationally speaking, what I'd expect from a Trump/Pence presidency is some real incompetence, a rise in racial prejudice, more attempts to restrict abortion and birth control, the passage of some stupid laws, etc. Bush II redux, or maybe Reagan with extra senility and a competent Russian opposition.

We've previously had elections where a stupid candidate won - maybe most of them, in fact. And we see some irrational reactions from the right when Democrats are elected: "Abner, Obama's goons are going to come to our house and take our bibles and our guns! What are we going to do?"

So maybe our fear/dislike of Trump is kind of ceremonial, like Republican hillbillies worrying that the government will steal their bibles... except that it doesn't feel that way. It feels like April's idea of the future is exactly correct. So have we all gone crazy? Is there really a big difference between our (very Liberal) reactions to Trump and reality? Does the rational picture I painted above apply here? Or are we on schedule to be anally raped by shoggoths?


As I understand it, one can in principle build a (thermo)nuclear weapon arbitrarily big. The problem is getting them off the ground. Where are terratonne weapons when you need them?


Given that some Dinosaurs became birds, what's next?


Hi James,

I got a different lesson from Chelyabinsk. It was more than big enough to have caused a lot of damage, but since it came in at a very low angle, it took its 29 Hiroshimas of energy (500 KT) and sprayed it across the sky, breaking a bunch of windows, injuring 1500-odd people (some with flash blindness) and killing no one.

Also, I suspect that the surface area to volume ratio matters a bit too. The classic example being a shell full of shotgun firing ball ammunition, one firing buckshot, and one firing quail shot. I'd take the third, even if they contained identical amounts of metal. I guess with an asteroid, the more small bits you can make it into, and the more of a glancing shot you can generate, the safer it will be. Something coming in at a perpendicular to Earth's surface is the worst condition.


Imagine the consternation if it is determined that the impact time can be affected by a few hours depending on when and where bombs are exploded.


The Ringworld question! If you give x billions an extra 5 minutes each, is it better than giving me billions of 5 minutes of extra life.No doubt Teela Brown could tell us.


I would concur. It'd be grimly funny to see the development of humanology from the humble beginnings to the latest, cutting-edge research. The final act is a discovery of Deep Time archives in non-volatile memory stock that they can decipher and get the actual facts. They'll refuse to believe it.

Or, worse, it'll be a mixture of lovecraft and the invention of lying when, like pathogens lying beneath the permafrost, religion is reintroduced to the world. The Old Ones terrorizing the feeble masters of the Earth with their eldritch knowledge. If the racoons were susceptible to it they'd probably have it already but it might be like smallpox hitting the new world here.


Although when the Nazi rabid raccoons and the corvids try to take over New York City, they'll have to deal with Pizza Rat and his minions. I call this CASE CANDY CRUSH...


How about the [url=""]New Madrid Seismic Zone[/url], instead?

I lost count at a couple dozen civilian nuclear plants within the potential zone, plus Y-12 and some de-activated weapons production facilities. Not to mention chemical storage facilities that could not withstand at magnitude 6+ quake.


New Madrid is no joke. And it's not considered earthquake country so the buildings are far more susceptible.


I suspect that the surface area to volume ratio matters a bit too

The smaller bits vapourise high up. An asteroid/comet sized cloud of dust and gravel hitting the atmosphere grills everything on the surface with the heat flash and sets off global firestorms. There's a case that it's better to let a few big lumps hit the ground than to shred it into fine pieces.


It's arguable that, in terms of pure species diversity at least, dinosaurs never stopped being the Earth's dominant non-aquatic clade. There are at least 10,000 dinosaur species extant right now, compared to 5,000 or so mammalian ones, after all. Our corvidoid successors will see the whole Cenozoic big-mammal experiment as a regrettable but thankfully short deviation (on geological scales).


The effort to get a series of impactors and bombs in front of the comet succeeded, and the last, detonated between the large fragments, displaced almost sufficiently to skim the atmosphere.

The forward observers of the various nations variously settled down to die on their way beyond the comet, or to try to survive the year in space and re-entry against earth's orbital velocity in untried technology.

70 years later the first cloud of comet fragments would intersect Earth's position again, and civilisation must prepare for it...


Well, yes and no. There's this story about the Chicxulub strike that the real problem wasn't the impact itself, but the big ol' splash wave of rock gas (plasma) that got splashed up back into space, spread out, coalesced a bit, and fell down as an enormous cloud of meteorites that mostly burned up in the atmosphere. The heat from the re-entry of the rock wave turned global temperatures up to around 1000 deg., cooking off the dinosaurs in short order.

This would argue that it's better to have the asteroid come down in a lot of smaller pieces. It's a hot mess, but it's not a global hot mess, because it doesn't dig a crater multiple kilometers deep and excavate that material to be secondary meteors in return.

Personally, I don't buy this scenario, because birds did rather well at surviving the strike. The phylogenetic tree they released back in 2014 showed a number of different modern lineages had already evolved before Chicxulub, and they were things (like the ancestors of ducks, geese, and ostriches) that aren't known for hiding deep underground. My guess is that the global firestorm didn't happen quite that way, or that it didn't hit somewhere (islands?) that didn't have mammals or dinosaurs on them.


Oh, I agree. I was playing the prejudices of the audience here.

Now we wait for the entomologists and mycologists to get things really rolling.


Fungi and insects don't need to inherit the earth because they already own it.

4 legged freaks will be gone soon.


In contrast, we've decided to have 'faith' in humanity, so an interim arborescent splice that interweaves with this one... [1]

Some time in November 2016, Arrival Heights began detecting an extremely anomalous ELF signal: above top secret protocols were enacted, leading to several prominent visitors to the station[2]. The USA at first thought that this was a product of ZEVS or perhaps their own testing from an ultra-black updated Project Sanguine. Worryingly, this seemingly tied in with the Western Ice shelf destabilizing[3]. Whilst scientists made jokes about re-watching The Thing[4], US government officials already on edge over political gamesmanship began to fear something far more aggressive was being played out.

Initial reports[5] suggested that this was part of a long rumored Soviet version of the Samson Option which outmaneuvered conventional M.A.D. doctrine via attacks in the ELF bandwidth to hamper submarine strike-back[6] along with unconventional 4GW, 5GW and 6GW disruption of Western political, economic and social constructs[7]. This had been recently re-termed from [Redacted] to "Kronos and Kairos"[8], in reference to the growing apocryphal spread of this meme into the American Radical Christian branches[9]. Indeed, it was noted that "Kronos" had already gone live, as signified by multiple Art / Agitprop cultural weapons being deployed[10] along with those attacking the financial banking structures released in prior years[11].

Which left the question regarding 2017 and Kairos: what was happening? And what relation did this have to ELF?

Immediately turning to Silicon Valley's now operational data trawling services such as Palantir and newly formed entities such as Kairos[12] initial probes suggested that the cloud based databases used by both American and Russian companies such as Vkontakte were significantly breached by an unknown entity (initially thought to be Chinese). Back-channel dialogues lead to an admission by the 中华人民共和国国家安全部 that even as the commercial, non-secret versions had gone live, they too had been compromised[16].

None of this was leaked onto Twitter, where the President-Elect happily re-tweeted random adolescent memes and attacks on Vanity Fair while pressing forward with swamp-draining activities such as disbanding Ethic Committees.


Well, not to spoil the show, that brings us up to date.

Don't want to spoil the big reveal, eh?

[1] Note: this is all fiction. Well, almost. The Ghost of Tom Clancy ahoy!
[2] NYT, 16th Nov 2016
[3] West Antarctic ice shelf breaking up from the inside out Ohio State University, 28th Nov 2016
[4] Imbd
[5] [Redacted]
[6] The Electro Magnetic Spectrum, picture, 13 years out of date: note 76 hz.
[7] C.f. Host on Dugin and so forth.
[8] Dostoevsky and the Novel M. Holquist, 2015 reprint: a legal version of the 1977 copy appears at Project Muse. For those wanting a quick recap, “Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent.” McKinely Valentine, with Fight Club references. The more astute will note that these relate to the Bergsonian concepts of Concrete/Discrete Time just a little.
[9] Chronos and Kairos Business as Mission, July 2015, sponsored by Lausanne Movement
[10] War Chronos, Plastic Magic Records, 10th Sept 2016, via Chronos Music
[11] Kronos, the new banking trojan from Russian underground Security Affairs, July 2014
[12] Facial Recognition Company Kairos Acquires Emotion Analysis Company IMRSV Forbes, April 2015
[13] Face recognition app taking Russia by storm may bring end to public anonymity Guardian, May 2016
[14] China unveils world's first facial recognition ATM Telegraph, June 2015


Looks like some of that was actually [redacted] on the fly, and not by host. Oh well, apologies for the footnotes not tallying up *nose wiggle*


They call 2017 'The Kairos Year". Like Rabid Nazi Raccoons this will probably (!Wink!) not unfold as planned.


PLEASE re-set & re-load?


Required reading (I'm still in said book)
"The Little Ice Age" by Brain Fagan
Ch 9 on weather better Brit agriculture & the French revolution.
The re-read in light of Trumpolini's lunacies & the even bigger lunacies of his followers


best practice is to paint one side of such an object as far out as possible.

Problem is that it's difficult to paint a tumbling object. And even if you could would it make much of a difference? Alternatively, maybe use a shade or reflector to cool or heat it?

and to Heteromeles @75, etc.
My thought about Chelyabinsk was if something the size of a bus, high up could do that sort of (relatively minor) damage, then something larger and lower would easily flatten buildings on a large scale—even before it hits the ground.


This is actually quite funny, in a way. Project ELF was implemented in Wisconsin, garnered the requisite screaming, and was finally shut down (it's a smaller version of Project Sanguine). The "humor" comes from a common complaint from dairy farmers: stray voltage. When I was there, the farmers were complaining that, due to large patches of wet soil, there was actually a voltage flow going back out of power system grounds back to some power plants, that there was measurable voltage in their soils, and that it was making their cows' milk production fall off and in extreme cases, causing their hooves to fall off too. One expert went around measuring stray voltage (that's the term to google), and even got farmers who (thought they) were affected by stray voltage to have a system in their work boots consisting of a copper plate in each boot, and a wire running up one pant leg and down the other, to redirect the stray voltage away from the farmers and thereby protect them.

With the official denial and all, it never was clear back then how real the problem was. Nowadays, it looks like they're telling farmers to do a better job grounding their electrical systems on farms with wet soil, and hopefully that's more helpful advice.

If Project Sanguine had gotten fully formed, using a big ground dipole as an ELF antenna, I can only imagine the howls from the local farmers as their milk production dried up...


Birds survived strictly in the southern hemisphere. And bird branch points are still controversial as to dates.

There's been some recent work arguing that ratite dispersion is *all* instances of volant ancestors becoming non-volant, which explains various things much better than the "split with Gondwana" view. But molecular clocks in birds are still especially difficult. It's quite possible to argue that the total number of survivors was really small, and that the ratite survivors looked more like an ibis than an ostrich; volant water birds of opportunistic diet.


And, since this is pertinent: John Berger died recently ( John Berger obituary Guardian 2nd Jan 2017).

Perhaps we should all re-watch something from before television and History channels wandered into the lands of Ancient Aliens / Mermaids:

All YouTube, all 30mins long, all legal - BBC, "Ways of Seeing", John Berger, 1972. Episode 1 from 15mins in is apt.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

*nose wiggle*

Via ‘Reproductions Distort’: A Note on the Culture Industry rejectamentalist manifesto, China Miéville, 3rd Jan 2017.


My NZ disaster movie would be along the lines of:

1. Cook Strait magnitude 8.6 scenario. Central Wellington (50km from epicentre) devastated.

2. The shaking unsettles the Hikurangi Trench megathrust zone, triggering a Mw 9.0 quake an hour later. The epicentre is 150km from Wellington but the shaking lasts longer, finishing off many damaged buildings. All the road and rail links out of town (both of them) are buried by a series of major landslips. Gas mains rupture wholesale, and the water has gone too so it proves rather difficult to put out the fires.

3. The second quake triggers a major tsunami - 8m waves, with 16m run-up to shore. Low-lying parts of Wellington (including the port and airport) are all but washed away; significant damage caused to coastal regions around NZ.

4. While Wellington was busy crapping itself, the Alpine Fault on the South Island was quietly unzipping with an event that would have been Mw 8.0 on its own. Christchurch wobbled for several minutes and suffered widespread liquefaction, but large numbers of rural communities have been devastated and completely cut off (like the 2016 Kaikoura quake, but on a larger scale). The combined event is later described as "the most complex earthquake trigger sequence" that seismologists have ever seen.

5. Turns out that all that shaking affected deep faults as well, increasing the magma pressure under the Taupo volcano and the Auckland volcanic field, both of which start to get frisky. Auckland sees a new volcano form right on the shoreline, destroying buildings as the crater forms and setting off a pyroclastic explosion that vapourises half of the central city. Taupo takes longer but eventually goes off in a mega-eruption forming a new caldera, with ash clouds disrupting air travel for months and deposits covering most of the North Island.

6. What's left of the NZ government decides it's time for everyone to get off these rocks and asks for the survivors to be evacuated to Australia.


Probably those flying ratites looked more like tinamous, and probably they had the same niche as rails before they were wiped out. The interesting point on the phylogenies is that the lineages that appear Cretaceous in origin (ratites, fowl, pigeons, poorwills) are the kinds of things that often occur on islands today. That might be an ancestral holdover from where they survived the KPg.

The other thing is that this is the extant tree. The Paleogene is littered with confusing bird bones that don't obviously belong to any modern known lineages, as with the mammals. That's what adaptive radiation looks like.


Look, the last thing you want to admit to the middle-American voter block who went Trump is that all those cattle mutilations / UFO abductions were ultra-black OPs run to determine if an ELF transmitter really was bad for them. Just don't show them pictures of actual science like The Cows with holes in their sides Channel 4, UK, Feb 2014.


If Project Sanguine had gotten fully formed


It was: just not in Wisconsin. The USA Military has at least three transmitters on the level of the (now) Russian ZEVS. China has one (1). [Derp: not sure that's actually released. Count as ramblings]


Back on subject: look, 2016 was all about collapsing improbability into reality. You (H.S.S) are to blame for that, you set up some stupidly edible fields for our EM spectrum 'friends'.

2017... is a bit different.

Think Willy Wonka, and creating stuff.


And, @ Greg: *pouts*

That's 15 mins, using traditional Western History formatting (Oxford / Cambridge compliant, although without the actuality of traditional refs, thatsthejoke.jpg).

Putting stuff into your MIND format is reeeeeaaal easy.




I do wish the locals would fuck right off and get the message already. Getting tired of being threatened and you don't want our kind to do offense

Stop Children What's That SoundYT Buffalo Springfield, 2:40.


And yeah: Mirror, Mirror, blow-back is gonna be fucking Biblical. Melt-your-fucking-tiny-Minds type Wings.

Should have been Nice n Polite.


Yeah, isn't it amazing how much money you can make by spinning the ordinary evidence of predators, scavengers, and poor cattle management into ETs and Black Ops? I mean, you'd think you could get people to buy total fiction and read it, based on stuff like this.


Well, of course.

Alex Jones is worth ~$50mil approx (more like $75mil if you look at his pre-divorce documents). Then again, America loves successful businesses like his, and Amway or Herbalife.

Then they earn enough off the marks to get into politics. Looking @ Trump, at least one of those is involved with him.

And those are the little people who still do politics, which includes the Kochs etc. Where's Walmart, 401k cons, Bren, Cavendish, Gates, Kwok, Reuben, Buffet, Ng or the 15+ billionaires that the privatization of China spawned and so forth.

Oh, and the really rich pay to not be noticed by little-men like Forbes.


Where's your fiction level at?

Mine is pretty fucking high.


Tinamou _are_ volant ratites (deeply nested, it turns out, rather than the sister group) but they're basically ratite upland ground bird analogs; they're not good or long distance flyers. The ibis comparison is via (my memory of) a ROM researcher's talk on the multiple-losses--of-flight hypothesis. (It's otherwise pesky to explain why moa have effectively no wings, emu hardly any wings, and ostriches and rhea great big wings. Plus various other bits of anatomical detail. It works a lot better if you have a related group of volant ratites losing flight independently, though you only seem to get the first one to do it getting big. (Which is why tinamou and kiwis are small and doing something other than being a large fast-running land bird.)


So after this post goes live I see this on a news feed. Seriously, quit making this stuff happen.

LOOK OUT NASA detects gigantic comet approaching Earth and it’s so huge you’ll be able to see it from Britain


losing flight independently, though you only seem to get the first one to do it getting big

Amusingly in Evolution-the-board-game, the first flying carnivore seems to cause a wave of "losing flight" in the flying herbivores. I wonder if the same thing happened in Aotearoa? One pouakai and all the other birds went "right, time to live in the undergrowth and only come out at night"?


The funny part about it is that (at least on release, maybe they've patched this since) you can get this even if you happened to start in the Sol System. This means that you can, as a human state originating on Earth, run into the tomb world Sol III filled with giant cockroaches.


I was half expecting the punchline to be that the comet misses Earth by a hair's breadth, which is met with much negativity as we were kind of counting on being wiped out so we didn't have to see what 2018 had in store for us.


Well, there are ibises locally, at least at times, and I'm not so sure they're the best analog either. Only the Kiwi among ratites has that long bill, for instance. If all the flightless ratites other than kiwis have shortish bills, I'd bet their ancestors did too. That's why I went with rail as the analog, because they look like they can't fly worth a damn, but there was (or is) a flightless rail on just about every island in the tropical Pacific and Atlantic. Ibises don't come close to that. For you, I'll compromise: big-ass rail with an attitude problem reminiscent of a cassowary.

Now, for the peanut gallery. Here's some good coverage on Tetzoo of this topic. The tl;dr version is that the big flightless birds: moas, kiwis, cassowaries, rheas, emus, elephant birds, and ostriches, didn't evolve from a common flightless ancestor back in the late Cretaceous. It's much weirder than that. It's been known that they were related to tinamous for some time (which are stocky South American birds that do fly, but not long distances). However, it turns out that tinamous are a sister group to the flightless ratites: according to cladistic analysis they're right in the middle of the ratite phylogenetic tree. In other words, each of the big flightless birds became flightless independently. This isn't earthshaking. The hypothesis has been around for decades, as the wing anatomy of each of those birds is so very different that it's hard to see how one could evolve into another.

Now, the usual story for how flightlessness develops (in birds, crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, flies, etc.) is that flight is very expensive in terms of energy, resources, and constraints. As a result, if a flighted animal can survive without the use of its wings, it can reap a huge ecological advantage by transferring all those resources to other uses (reproduction, defense, gathering food, competing for mates). Or, in some cases (as on small, windy islands with insects), flying animals can be at so much risk of being blown away and lost that flying becomes too risky. In any case, when it becomes possible to make a flightless life, there's usually a big change in the animals' anatomy, as they become less and less constrained to having the strong, light body demanded by active flight. Wings can degenerate freely (as happened in the ratites), but they'll do it in all sorts of ways, because degeneration depends on mutation, which is random.

Before you ask, there are species where some individuals have flight and some do not (steamer ducks come to mind, where some males are flightless, but most or all females and some of the smaller males can still get off the ground). While flightlessness is most known from islands, it has developed on continents (steamer ducks) and is fairly common in cave insects all over the place.

Evolution is fun, isn't it?


I remember ELF as the Erisian Liberation Front!


I'm sure some people know about this already, but so the rest can have fun calculating the impacts of different types of comet/asteroid in different places (e.g. land vs ocean) here's Imperial College's 'Earth Impact Effects Program':

Something caused a 30m+ tsunami on Australia's east coast c.1500AD. I don't see why they can't share in the love if the NZ quakes set off a Storegga-type event in the Tasman Sea. Let's see the Manly surfers try to ride that!


Imagine the consternation if it is determined that the impact time can be affected by a few hours depending on when and where bombs are exploded.

I was referring to what is such a mission would make a difference and depending on when/where bombs explode the gravel/boulders hitting the earth would arrive at a slightly different time. Say +0 to +12 hours. This means that you could to some degree determine which hemisphere got "hit".

So if you can time it for the Pacific that's likely what would happen. Sucks to be Hawaii and other such places but that's life. But what if the window was pick between the range of the Rockies in the US to the Urals in Asia. The Atlantic is a smaller target. I'm sure that some in the US would go for as close to the Urals as possible. While some in Moscow and Prague might argue for a more "western" hit.


Bear in mind that as the Earth moves around the Sun it travels its own diameter every seven minutes or so. Depending upon the exact trajectory and orbital mechanics of the comet, if you delay it by 10 minutes or so, congratulations, it's missing the Earth entirely.

That said, any attempt to deflect the comet could still affect where it hits within the hemisphere facing it, so your speculation about the politics involved is still legit.


If it can be turned "just a little bit" then why not set things up so our giant meteor hits the Antarctic? Everyone loses a little coast, but we also avoid most of the heat/blast effects through the simple mechanism of distance,* and there's up to 4 km thickness of ice to absorb the initial impact, which would probably come down as rain rather than hot-lava meteors. Also, the impact would be at an oblique angle, and I think that's good.

The factor which makes this work (or not) would be how much ice we can expect to melt, and whether that ice would run-off the continent, or be contained against mountain ranges, other ice, etc.

* It might suck just a little in Australia and Argentina, but we're still talking about thousands of miles from the South Pole.


Oh, come on. The Pentagon and the Kremlin have been waiting for that comet. Strap some extra solid boosters on a big launcher, and... remember those 50 megaton nukes? Comet, please make a left turn, thankyouveddymuch.

That, of course, happens while at least in the US, Pence and the Dominionists (next concert, Nov, 2017!) have been jumping up and down over The End Times!, and when the nukes turn the comet enough to miss, try to have the Generals who set that up tried and executed.

At that point, some of the more-or-less sane in the military, which include mostly people who actually fucking BELIEVE IN THE OATH OF OFFICE, "to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic", declare a state of emergency, stage a coup, and with the sudden deaths of a number of GOP Congresscritters who were waiting for the End Times, put the now-Democratic Speaker of the House in as President.

One small group of alt-wrongs and ammosexuals try to attack, with the expect result - them being Gen Custer, and the US Army as Sitting Bull.....

mark "goddamn it, if it's fucking fantasy, can't I have a happy ending?"


Ok, reality check: I did a google, and according to CoolCosmos... from Caltech, most coments have a core 10km wide or less. So your mostly burned out comet has a) lost most of its loose corona, and b) ain't that big. One, or several, 50 MT nukes would actually go into it perhaps half a klick (and that's assuming it's not primarily iron).

Further, if it's a few months away, even, well, to quote somebody or other, space is big, I mean *really* big, I mean really fucking BIG, and a delta-v of a fraction of a degree is hundreds of thousands of klicks by the time you've traversed 50 or more megaklicks.

Then, as it goes sailing by, the various militaries, meeting under the auspices of the UN, take pot shots at it, to develop the best technique.


Given the following assumptions:

1. the comet is deflected. No apocalypse today.

2. there is a certain amount of schrapnel that has the potential to cause minor damage on the ground.

How many inconvenient people can you get away with bombing while blaming it on space grit?


Yeah, that's the Pretorian Guard scenario. There's always an incredibly good reason for the good people in the Imperial Guard to get rid of a bad emperor. Problem is, it sets a precedent, and after a few decades, you have factions of the Pretorian Guard (would that be the Army, or the Secret Service?) fronting their preferred presidents, trying to assassinate their rivals, and forcing their Caesars (oops, Presidents) to do their wishes or else they'll follow, erm, Trump, into history. To use your analogy.

See? There's no happy ending that can't be twisted. Every happily ever after with the lovers riding off into the sunset can experience the equivalent of an ectopic pregnancy.


Indeed ^^

@117 Yeah, that's the Pretorian Guard scenario.

About that - you're probably aware that at least 25% of Americans belief that's already what happens.

President-elect works on restructuring Office of the Director of National Intelligence, tweets again his doubts that Russia hacked Democrats

Donald Trump Plans Revamp of Top U.S. Spy Agency WSJ, 4th Jan 2017 (soft-paywall; use google to get around it).

There's a certain... symmetry... to having a President-Elect supported by Alex Jones who imagines the CIA whacked JFK deposed by the same agency.


French National Front leader Marine Le Pen was told to repay €9 million of a loan from a Russian-based bank, according to media reports.

The Russian Bank Deposit Insurance Agency is calling in part of the loan granted by the First Czech-Russian Bank, which has since been dissolved, Le Monde reports. The National Front is operating thanks to two loans — one for €9 million and one for €2 million — from the bank dating from 2014.

One wonders what Obama said to Putin. One also wonders whether Farage will also be asked to pay back any "loans." Or maybe this is a message from Putin to Trump. One does indeed wonder what is moving beneath the surface?


That's my car! (I drive a Fnord Focus.) Or at least I focus on the Fnords...

One of the great moments of my life was at around 12-years-old, when I saw a science-fiction book at the store. It had a yellow submarine on the cover - good times!


There is also the option of ablation by a standoff nuclear detonation, if there is enough time. This ejects a large amount of surface material from one hemisphere (or whatever if non-spherical) of the object, and provides a very substantial nudge. Probably the best approach (discounting politics/treaties) in many cases with limited lead time.
Near-Earth Object Survey and Deflection Analysis of Alternatives (2007)
and Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories Code-to-Code Comparison of Inter Lab Test Problem 1 for Asteroid Impact Hazard Mitigation (2016)
(I did not read the latter, just looked at the pretty diagrams.)
Also, at 166 pages (did not read), An Innovative Solution to NASA’s NEO ImpactThreat Mitigation Grand Challenge and Flight Validation Mission Architecture Development (2014)
Because nuclear energy densities are nearly a million times higher than those possible with chemical bonds, a nuclear explosive device is the most mass-efficient means for storing energy with today’s technology. Deflection methods with sufficiently high energy density are often preferred over a nuclear disruption approach. One of these deflection methods utilizes a nuclear explosion at a specified standoff distance from the target NEO, to effect a large velocity change by ablating and blowing off a thin layer of the NEO’s surface. Nuclear standoff explosions are thus assessed to be much more effective than any other non-nuclear alternatives, especially for larger asteroids.


Sorry, that second paragraph at 120 should also have been italicized, as it is a quote from the article.


Aah, we've reached the point in this conversation where the violent overthrow of the US government by a bloody military coup is a happy ending. 😀🔫

Now, what does reality need to achieve the Godzilla Threshold? I mean: when do we summon Cthulhu because it's a good idea?

I suppose we're already there if you're a Raccoon...


Having the US establishment have to cope with the horrid fallout of a Trump-near-win would be excellent from Putin's point of view.

Having to cope with Trump having the button and Trump's cabinet getting major input into the global economy and/or a disintegrating Europe? Bad. Very, very, very bad. Putin wants increased petro exports, not a descent into chaos. And he's a smart guy and presumably has a very realistic assessment of people -- he is, after all, not dead -- so he's aware that trying to control The Donald is not a long term success strategy.

So right now, having Europe not disintegrate -- Europe is a major market -- would be one of Putin's goals.


If "Europe" disentegrates, he gets the Baltic states back a slaves, err ... fellow-soviet republics err ... part of Greater Holy Russia under our enlightened Tsar ( got there in the end... )


Baltic states are a net economic drain to the conqueror. (either keeping them pacified or the expense involved in extermination and colonization.)

Russia's economy sits on selling natural gas and oil. They're very much a petro state. Europe is their main natural gas customer. Europe disintegrating -- a resumption of national currencies of initially unknown valuations -- means a very bad winter with very low sales. It means a critical market that might never recover. And the Russian GDP is already falling. And a resumption of European nationalism isn't good for Russia because you don't know what they're going to do.

Recovery of the Baltic means very slow sphere of influence stuff; you threaten the mailed fist all you like, but that's to convince people the Americans can't or won't save them. It's not to open the fiscal drain of conquest.


Quite. My first thought when all the volcanoes and earthquakes started going off was "thank fuck for that, at least we're back to normal disasters that make sense". (Later came the wondering whether Charlie has found John's mushrooms.)


I wonder how the politics of piping something valuable across hostile-ish international borders works? That might be another issue for Russia. If, say, Poland won't allow Russia to pipe oil to Britain, it's tankers or lose that market.

The countervailing argument is that Authoritarian leader-types don't necessarily think things like this out in this level of detail, which is why they seem to get more interested in conquering each others' land than in negotiating multilateral trade agreements wherein everyone gets rich.


Russia, I note is partially withdrawing from Syria, under the guise of "peace talks" ...
I wonder if the costs of that intervention are beginning to bite?


Baltic states are a net economic drain to the conqueror. (either keeping them pacified or the expense involved in extermination and colonization.)

Also, I'm not sure how much "traditional" military capability Russia can field and for how long. I have some personal interest in what they do, my country having a long border with them, though we also have a longer time as an independent country. What I'm trying to say about the duration of a war is that waging war is expensive, and the Russian economy is not doing that well - as I understand it, not even their internal one, though the trade restrictions are probably one factor.

One thing they do have for waging war is fuel, and I'm not sure how well they could do if they just refactored their system for war. Still I'm not convinced they could do that much straight-up invasion, at least not for long. Their special operations people seem to be good and well-equipped, and that's what I'm mostly afraid of, but masses of tanks rolling over borders is a different thing. Of course the Baltic states do not have that large armies - especially not if the NATO will not help them.

Of course, things do move fast in the modern world. Appropriate spec ops missions are hard to defend against and can wreak a lot of havoc. The dread is not at the 1980s nuclear holocaust levels, but I'm still not happy.

Then there is of course the angle of internal politics: how much of Russian posturing on the international level is just trying to get the attention of their own people away from their internal problems.


ISTR that neither Finland nor Sweden are actually in NATO, both being formally declared as neutral nations? I think that all of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland either now are in NATO or at least have expressed interests in joining.


Sweden and Finland are not in NATO, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are.

The terminology I have been using is "The Baltic states == Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania", "Scandinavia == Sweden, Norway, Denmark" and "The Nordic countries == Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland" (also "The Nordics"). Thus, while Sweden and Finland have coastline on the Baltic sea, they are not Baltic states.


Off topic but important for this crowd: PCWorld is offering Scrivener for Windows for half off ($20.00 USD) at the following link:


Charlie, I thought the group might like to know that PCWorld online is offering Scrivener for Windows for half off ($20.00 USD). Here's a link:


Damn, sorry. I thought the first post didn't go through.


//I'm not sure how much "traditional" military capability Russia can
//field and for how long.

As far as I have understood, the countries with conscription armies are actually much more able to manage long conflicts than countries with professional armies. Russia is quite likely able to manage long campaigns that involve many, many "boots on the ground". Possibly even a traditional war of attrition with conventional weapons.

The interesting thing is that in order to occupy some territory for a longer time you need at least one of two things. Preferably both of them. Those things are:
A) many many boots on the ground, or (preferably and)
B) a local population that does not mind the occupation.

In the case of Crimea the case B is clearly true. It could be that Eastern Ukraine would be a similar case. I do not believe that B would be true for Poland, Baltic States, Finland, or Sweden.

The main reason why USA and UK botched Iraq (and quite apparently Afghanistan) is that they just did not have enough boots on the ground for a working occupation. For example the military power of USA is currently unmatched, but the structure of US military is not at all suitable for occupying a country with a significant population. If I remember right, Pentagon assumed that a working occupation of Iraq would require at least half a million men in active front-line duty in the occupation forces. When you consider the supply structure and rotation of US military forces and add those numbers to the half a million, it is obvious why the occupation of Iraq was a failure.

I do not talk about Iraq in order to shift attention to USA, but in order to point out that winning a war is a very different exercise compared to occupation and/or annexation. Successful occupation requires a population that is quite happy with it or many, many occupiers with relatively low-tech weapons. Russia, with a conscription army, could be able to get enough troops on the ground, but occupying a country with a significant hostile population is unlikely to be something that current-day Russia is willing or even able to do. It is worth remembering that Russia does not have that big population itself and domestic support is important even in Russia.

(Of course the Russian government could collapse and be replaced with a really expansionary, totalitarian regime, which would change the situation, but currently Russian foreign policy is at least partly domestic politics. Domestic support is important even for Putin et. co. During the Cold War days the current Russia would have been happily accepted as a part of the democratic West.)


Right cheers; I've seen that terminology used elsewhere but didn't know that you were.


If "Europe" disentegrates, he gets the Baltic states back a slaves, err ... fellow-soviet republics err ... part of Greater Holy Russia under our enlightened Tsar ( got there in the end... )

Not gonna happen without a lot of pain.

Firstly, despite large transplanted russophone minorities, the Baltic states have long memories of what happened when they were rolled over by the Red Army twice in five years (with the Nazis as the filling in the triple-decker shit sandwich). There will be resistance. Why do you think the Baltics signed up for the EU and NATO so fast after 1991?

Even if NATO doesn't go to war to defend its new members — something which would amount to a suicide note for the alliance — the economic sanctions against Russia would be crippling. The Baltics are too small a prize to offset that kind of damage. If he was dumb enough to push through an invasion, Putin might survive as leader — it wouldn't be the first time he's used a patriotic flag-wave gambit to rally support for actions that caused large-scale economic self-mutilation — but his personal fortune (and diplomatic credibility) would both take a beating. And it'd run the risk of triggering a major re-armament drive in the rest of Eastern Europe, as everyone from Romania to Croatia start to shit themselves and ask who's going to be next.


This has been getting more than a bit of attention from my quarter. Google Operation ATLANTIC RESOLVE.


To which the Australian government responds by evacuating them all off to Manus Island and Nauru, because clearly the earthquakes were all set up by the NZ government in order to get around Australian Border Force restrictions. They can apply for refugee status from there, just like all the other economic refugees.

This is even more likely to be the case if we have the Mad Monk (Tony Abbott) back in charge again...

(Look, this is a bloke who was influenced by someone so paranoid they wanted to build a moat around Parliament House in order to prevent anyone trying to assassinate the PM with a tank. Given the only people in Australia who have tanks are over the other side of Lake Burley Griffin, surely the simpler response would have been to avoid pissing off the Department of Defence? Objective reality was not a criterion being used to determine anything).


Maybe he got confused by the fact that us Pommy Bastards ;-) had more tanks in private ownership than in the army for a while?


A friend of my uncle in Melbourne bought himself a Ferret for 4wd fun - according to the local media that counts as a tank.
He did have to take out the broomstick he put in to replace the gun though, someone complained.


I agree with Charlie, Putin won't invade the Baltics, ever. Let's not forget, there's a former Soviet Republic, Belarus, way more ethnically close to Russia, that's been begging to be returned to the rodina for years now and Putin hasn't let them back in.


By "tank" I meant objects classed as "track-laying vehicles" by our Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency(?) and which also possess a turret-mounted gun. (yes this does include Scorpion, Scimitar and tracked SPGs. It does not include armoured recovery vehicles or things like, say, FV104 and FV432)


Re: 'Asteroids, comets and other NEOs approaching Earth'

No one's mentioned lasers high powered enough to blast an approaching Earth-destroying object. Not mentioned, but would be obvious since it's due to be retired soonish is: Why not renovate Hubble into a super-duper laser? A laser saves valuable response time, light travels pretty darn fast after all ... much faster than a comet. And, even if the laser shaved off only a small bit of comet per day, given a longer window of time that a laser could work, this might be sufficient to at least reshape the comet and/or alter its trajectory. The debris field would probably be smaller too if the laser vaporized the comet. What this might mean to Earth - not sure - anything from a huge billowing cascade of meteor shower to (if rocky comet) molten rain igniting wildfires here and there.


'Now, Lubin and his colleagues have proposed using solar-powered lasers to blast targets. The resulting plumes of vaporized or ablated rock can then push targets away from collision courses.

Lubin's team has run computer simulations to see how well lasers of different strengths might work against incoming asteroids of various sizes. One proposal is DE-STAR, or Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation, which consists of a large satellite in Earth orbit that blasts asteroids from afar. (Lubin is coy about whether DE-STAR is a reference to Star Wars' Death Star.)

"The fact that a system could deflect an incoming asteroid from Earth orbit is unique — all the other systems require a spacecraft to go out to the asteroid," said astronomer Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who did not take part in this research.'

As for which species next rises to the top of the heap ... the cephalopod, specifically, the octopus descended from the first social octopus on record:

And, given that convergent evolution happens all the time, maybe this new octopus species will also be able to walk on land ... and inherit the earth ... and make fire.


No one's mentioned lasers high powered enough to blast an approaching Earth-destroying object.

That's because the idea is frankly silly. (Hint: the sort of comets we're talking about mass in the range 5 billion tons and up, i.e. trillions of kilograms. Hitting them with enough energy to significantly change their trajectory in less than decades is, shall we say, Out There, at least with current technology.)

Why not renovate Hubble into a super-duper laser?

This translates as, "here's a clapped-out Ford Focus. Why don't we renovate it and re-purpose it as a Panamax container ship?"

Wrong type of mirror assembly. Wrong focal length. No cooling system (lasers typically lose 50-90% of their beam energy inside the mechanism; it needs active cooling or it'd melt). Power supply is somewhere between 6 and 12 orders of magnitude too small for the job you're asking for.

The researchers calculated that if DE-STAR had a 1-kilometer-wide phased laser array and an equally large solar power array, it could deflect an 80-meter Tunguska-class asteroid by about 1,900 kilometers over the course of four weeks. That's a phased laser array with an area of around 1 million square meters. Hubble's mirror has 4.5 square meters.


Not sure it's completely silly - see uni site below.

The Hubble if only because it would provide an existing frame even if all the innards need to get changed. And if not the Hubble, there's at least one massive telescope (or five) going up within the next few years ... and dual duty should be a consideration. In both instances (Hubble and new telescopes), interchangeable modular design for quick multipurposing should be a key design feature vs. the one-machine-one-use design that's frankly uneconomical and short-sighted/short-lived.

On an even more speculative note ... Musk is sending up about 1,500 mini satellites. So, how many mini satellites at what power could be pointed (in turn, as they orbit/Earth rotates) and beams converge at an approaching object? Maybe not super useful at destroying a massive object, but could help clean up still dangerous smaller bits.


About that comet... from slashdot, today:
On December 30, the White House quietly released its Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy, a 25-page document outlining the United States' plans in the event that a giant asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth. Among the priorities outlined by the strategy are improving Near-Earth Object (NEO) detection, developing methods for deflecting asteroids, and developing interagency emergency procedures in the event of an NEO impact. Given the stakes, it's clear why NASA and the leading US defense and research agencies came together in January 2016 to form the Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-bound Near-Earth Objects (DAMIEN) working group to address the issues associated with killer asteroids.
--- end excerpt ---

Story and links at

So we *know* what the US gov't is actually thinking.



About Russia (I still want to say USSR...)
1. Putin is absolutely no one's fool. He knows, hard and fast, the full capability of their military, and if he hadn't known before, he's had the data of what happened in the Middle East since '03.
2. The Baltics were attractive, because warm water port.
3. I would expect to see him moving more towards making Georgia and the Ukraine, or at least part of the latter, part of Russia again. They've *been* part for centuries, and IIRC, Georgia was referred to as the breadbasket of the USSR.
4. I hadn't seen/heard anything about Le Pen's loan, and it being called in. My immediate reaction is that, again, he's no fool, and he really, *REALLY* does not want to have actual fascist governments in Europe. He knows where that goes.
5. I suspect he's "mentoring" Trumpolini, really. (Note that the 03:00 tweets of Trump are noon in Moscow, when, according to news reports, is when Putin has gotten up (he sleeps late), and is eating breakfast. Trump, I suspect, he sees as a pliable fool, easily directed. I mean... isn't that the kind of thing intelligence officers in the field *do* for a living?
6. From this distance, it appears to me that Putin has a *lot* of popular support... and US papers are starting to look at Russia as a superpower, again, if a lesser one.

Odd chain of thought from 6: are two superpowers what's needed to control fascism, and stabilize the world (more-or-less)?

mark, who will be on the Mall to protest the Nightmare on PA Ave...., the biggest budget horror movie of all


That's what I thought, too - but he (Putin) needs to distract his populace with successful foreign adventures & he & they do have a real, nasty, difficult problem: Königsberg/Kaliningrad.
I note their fleet is buggering off back to Russia, before the engines fail, incidentally.


I would of gone with an unexpected Nova for 'The Year of the Jackpot' reference.


As for the Baltic warm water port, I figure Kaliningrad would satisfy most of their ambitions, otoh they did lose many other ports in the Baltic .


Just imagine the fallout if Putin leaks proof of how Russia rigged the election after the inauguration.


IIRC melting the antarctic ice will amount to a 60m sealevel rise, so more countries than just Australia and Argentina would be pissed.


How exactly is Kaliningrad a "real, nasty, difficult problem" in terms of Russia's foreign adventures? I agree that reconquering Baltic states is a non-starter, but what does Kaliningrad have to do with it?


It's an enclave.
They are almost always problematic.


I was thinking about the blast/heat effects when I mentioned Australia and Argentina.

But you're mostly right. You get a 60-meter sea level rise if you melt ALL the ice. The question of whether an Antarctic impact for a giant meteor is something to aim for has everything to do with how much ice melts and where the water runs off to. Imagine a million square miles of mile-thick ice. If you melt the central 500,000 square miles, does that water immediately run off into the ocean, or does it form a puddle in the middle of the other 500,000 square miles of ice?

There's probably a very complex solution having to do with terrain and how deep a crater the meteor digs and how long that crater stays hot... Ten meters of sealevel rise might be very preferable to the consequence of having the meteor hit land near Mumbai, for example.

On the other hand, a big-enough meteor might crack the crust and then you have a gazillion gallons of water pouring into gigantic caldera, at which point all life probably gets steam-blasted of the face of the planet.

So yeah, you might want to do a little computer modeling before you let a giant meteor touch down in Antartica...


You forgot the national uprising in the US when the hacks have denied the peoples their tv and games -- headlines around the world: THE US GETS OFF ITS ASS!


I predict Planet X levels of hype, multiple conspiracy theories, at least one cult and several suicides as a result of this.

A substantial number of people will blame the above on the astronomers.


Expanding on Charlie's refutation:

The primary problem with a laser as a solution is not really cooling, or power, per-se - my back of the envelop calculations (assuming a 10 trillion kg impactor 50km across spotted at a distance of 20 AU travelling at 40km/s) only require delivering about 100MW of power to the surface in order to deflect its trajectory by 5 planetary radii in a period of 18 months.

The problem is that you cannot focus a laser onto a comet at a distance of 20AU.

TO do so, you require a laser aperture approximately the size of the solar system.

Assuming you use the Hubble telescope as your aperture (2.4m diameter) and a near_infra-red wavelength (1um), the radius of your laser beam at a distance of 7AU is 60 billion metres across - that's 10 solar radii.

That takes your power requirements for laser ablation of a large impactor (50km) from a relatively sane 80MW to an utterly insane 80TW.

Never mind cooling a satellite, that's nearly 0.1% of the entire solar irradiance of the planet - radiating off the spare heat from that thing's power supply is going to require a radiator about the size of the Moon.

Supposing that, instead of Hubble, you use a phased satellite array in geostationary orbit, giving you an aperture radius of ~42,000km, then you could (possibly) get an approximately collimated beam over that distance, and get power requirements back down to 100MW**.

That's within the realms of science fiction, although I'm not sure it's within the realms of "deploy the array by Thursday, and FIRE THE LASER!". If it takes you a year to deploy those satellites, you might need a few more orders of magnitude from somewhere....

** Caveat, this assumes a particular beam profile that a shell of satellites could not produce. You probably need to add another couple of orders of magnitude in power output, just to be sure.


I mean maybe one of those Bomb pumped X-ray lasers SDI research worked on could impart enough to do something. But I'm thinking it would need to be shipped towards the comet and have a pocket of steam. And at that point, might as well just send a contact nuke and try to penetrate a bit into the surface.

TO do so, you require a laser aperture approximately the size of the solar system.

James Nicoll to the white courtesy phone, please...


Bomb pumped X-ray lasers
If you want to go there, try The Effects of Nuclear Test-ban Regimes on Third-generation-weapon Innovation (1990), search on "DIRECTED " page 17 of the PDF.
(Via the "Nuclear Shaped Charges" section of CONVENTIONAL SPACE WEAPONS at Atomic Rockets. (Search on "Casaba-Howitzer" in particular.))
Velocities achievable with thermonuclear shaped charges are
impressive. Unlike molten jets produced by conventional shaped
charges, which are limited to about 10 kilometers per second (about
four times the velocities of the gases resulting from chemical
explosions), thermonuclear shaped charges can in principle propel
matter more than two orders of magnitude faster. Since fusion
temperatures reach 100 million K, the detonation front of a
thermonuclear explosive travels at speeds in excess of 1,000
kilometers per second. Using a convergent conical thermonuclear
bum-wave with a suitable liner, one could theoretically create a jet
traveling at 10,000 kilometers per second, or 3 percent of the speed
of light.

Useful, I suppose, if for some reason approaching too close to the body would result in an unacceptable risk of mission failure. E.g. if it were outgassing at a dangerous rate, or if it were actively uhm hostile. (Imagine an asteroid that has been nudged into an Earth intersecting orbit, and that the nudgers may have placed defenses on the body to disrupt intercept attempts.)

[1] Note that that report is more of a wistful cautionary tale than advocacy:
But, with either a 1-kiloton TTBT or a CTB put into effect soon, the
incentives and technical capabilities for third-generation development
would be undermined, and the detectability of low-yield testing would
likely continue to improve, especially given the opportunities at hand
for in- country stationing of instruments and on-site inspections.
Although an early test ban might not be a perfect cure, it is probably
the best preventive medicine against a third-generation arms race.


A number of commenters have suggested penetrating the comet with a warhead. Ignoring scenarios where a vehicle matches velocity with the comet, is possible for a nuke to survive and function on impact?

Assuming the warhead has about Earth escape velocity of 11 km/s, and the comet is moving at between 30 and 70km/s, that's at least 40km/s closing speed. A ground penetrating bunker buster nuke is designed to hit at just 1.2 km/s so thats 33x the speed, and 1000x the energy.

Is that survivable? Is it survivable without a prohibitively heavy depleted uranium nose-cone?

If the comet is just a weakly packed snowball, vs the reinforced concrete a bunker buster is designed for, that may help a bit. . .


*Taps Foot in an Angry Fashion*

*Eyes Timer to Death (under 24 hours now for this persona - and, remember, cats only get 9 lives)*




Christ wept not over bodies but souls - bring that up to date, the "Conscious Mind" (still: good man at a party, natch - they always ask "why the fuck do you all drink so much": part of it is nullifying the dendric dross of hate that your kind produce, part of it is because the big JC was a bit of a party animal).

Look at defunding Planned Parenthood / Creationism in Schools / Randian Economics / frothing troll clouds from all angles / mis-appropriation (natch - come on people: 16 months later and you'all up in French post-modernism? give me a fucking break already post the slashing of the veins on the sacred / profane moo-cow. It'd be NICE if any of you had taken the time to read the fucking stuff, but noooooooooooooo).

It has always been an ideological battle. It's a simple one.

"Those who can, do; those who can't, teach"


And if you missed it: Trump Won.

This isn't even the ideological battle you're looking for: Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Trump: ‘I think we may see some surprising things from the next administration on renewables' electrek 6th Jan 2016


The End-Game isn't fucking pogroms or war in the old sense, it's PREVENTING flowers blossoming and Gigadeath through Walls. (Hint: 5 Eyes, you cunts - the Walls are there already, Russia is just bargaining to get into the act since America just fucked the BRICS).


Anything more?

Oh, right. Rule #1: if you imagine a Mind is insane, it's usually just your own blindness / cognitive dissonance breaking through.


Trump is going to sail through the Old Energy into New Energy Oligarchy Model, via robotics, and fuck me I wouldn't want to be an average bear in the 21st century. We knew this in 2012.

Quote from [Someone worth more than most GDPs]: "Oh, boy, why do you worry so: we'll keep amusing little things like you alive, part of your charm is your authentic heart-felt attachment to the rest". That sound like Hunger Games LARPing?

Yep. It did to us as well 0.0


Your Job is not to do anything but create a multitude of Minds / Mental Schemas etc.

These fuckers (USA-RU-CHINA) are looking to eradicate the interesting stuff.

Anyhow... go back to silly boy-willy-waggling stuff about nukes etc. The Death of Consciousness is kinda more important, but hey.


Pro-tip: if you pick on the masculine "boy", you're gonna have a bad time when Orion is mentioned, and then ask for a date for that quotation. [Hint: try it in fucking Greek, you'll get a hit, although modern translation has been deployed].

Gender-fluid is a fucking ancient concept, it's pathetic we even have to spell it out.



Run the Numbers.

Allegedly your kind aren't quite as good at prognostication as we are.


"Those who can, do; those who can't, teach"

That's deep deep bathos / irony btw. Teaching your young is 100% the most salient duty a culture has. Marx doesn't admit this directly, but the entire counter-point of Capitalism is that whole sick shit about "put the 40 years of back-breaking and soul destroying slavery in, and *nudge nudge, wink wink" your children get into the higher tier policy".


It's 80% Mexican immigrant based and they paid fucking Madeleine Albright ("500,000 Iraqi children was worth it"; "Remember Women who don't vote for Clinton go to hell

Doubt me?

Lol, was kidding.

She did Herbalife: madeline albright and herbalife YT: Herbalife PR, 7:03.

Which is why being run by a death cult who deliberately fuck that up is a bit sick to our Minds.



Running Old Narratives in their Minds is a big sign of the "Get Fucked No-No". You update them, or we do it non-kindly, you fucking psychos.



Dudes. Just stop - like the Comet, you ain't go no idea what's coming.


Um, but anyhow. Real Joke / Reality (Kids, what's actually happening):

If you're running high-tech ELF weapons and have also many many members of your military on tape stating sociopathic things and who believed that their Power was Absolute and it didn't matter who got burnt doing it...


She's quite the bitch of our Three.

Nuke the entire site fom orbit YT: Film - Aliens 0.09


Paradox Weapons deployed.


No. You got caught cheating with H.S.S bodies / slaved Minds (No, we don't give a fuck about them claiming it was consensual, they've no idea what they're signing up for when you're pulling this casual / probability tree closures, using Causality Hacks and priming them in the future tense to shape things.

That's Illegal.

Not in their way, in our way.

You're Fucked.

This is War.

And You've Already Lost.


And 6. You attempted to destroy an Ascendant Mind.

Baby I Don't Care YT: Transvision Vamp, 3:56


It's a tone.
It's a muscial note.
It's the "brown note".

But this time, it'll fucking purge your kind from the weave.

You decided your own fate.


Your Job is not to do anything but create a multitude of Minds / Mental Schemas etc.
Sheesh, that was a nice rant, and deserved IMO. Off to meditate and think more about schemas and schema changes and education with variation as a primary goal. (Variation being what drives evolution and makes populations robust.)
The End-Game isn't fucking pogroms or war in the old sense, it's PREVENTING flowers blossoming and Gigadeath through Walls. (Hint: 5 Eyes, you cunts - the Walls are there already, Russia is just bargaining to get into the act since America just fucked the BRICS).
Read, but not sure what you mean by "Gigadeath through Walls". Also still trying to work out how porous(or impervious) the walls are or can be.


Hitting anything at that sort of speed counts as hitting a solid. Either you have to match velocity, or you just go so fast that you don't need to bother with the nuke bit.

Which leads me to another idea: build a steerable mass driver on the moon that fires puffs of relativistic moon-dust at the approaching whatsit. By controlling the density and spread of the puffs, you could generate ablative thrust spread uniformly across the whole area of the facing side rather than concentrated at one point, and control the rate so the forces aren't enough to break it up. It would do quite nicely for a fluffy, soggy or otherwise loosely-bound whatsit, and it would still be effective up to a point with one that had broken up.


Gigadeath isn't a fucking metaphor.

You let the USA(Trump)-ISRAEL(Net)-RUSSIA(Put) things in, they're going to enact a policy that's probably not public atm, but it boils down to:

#1 5 Eyes Borders (look it up, it's already enacted, c.f Australia) mesh with RU and Japan
#2 Christian / Islam divide (look it up, it's already enacted)
#3 Nature / Ecology / Psychics happens, br0, and then...
#4 Yeah, it's a fucking BIG FUCK OFF WALL

Did you miss the part where this was all field tested in Israel?

"Our standard of life is non-negotiable"

Yeah. You're probably not a psychopath. We're looking at White Papers suggesting that gigadeath is inevitable and should be "enacted on our terms".


They're going to kill ~4,000,000,000 people before sorting out sustainable fishing, realistic energy usage / H.S.S, and not giving into the "radical socialist" model where products =/= desire.

No fucking joke.

I've got their papers in front of me.

These cunts knew about this 30 years ago. As did the tobacco industry and so on. The only reason they're pissing their pants is because Mexico is about to go under and enter chaos.


No, really.

Make a choice:

#1 My lifestyle is lovely and I love the modern world and it's all fine so I choose gigacide


2# It would require x5 Earth resources for the entire planet to live like us, so we'd better change now.











Nah, you're fucked mate. You should have been pulling a bit more of the violence-unto-property before now.

Fury Road YT: Film - Mad Max, Fury Road, 2:29.



We wipe all Minds before that happens. Our Kind do Not go Mad - oh, and we also make sure of the mirror effect. ALLL linked get... well.



That OCR error is extremely common and often amusing, but I do think "thermonuclear bum-wave" is one of its most inspired productions.


Oh, and last post on this body.

They really do torture our kind. All the posts about torture. True.

That's not counting the physical rape and so on.

And that was the art-world aesthetic blend to tie the negative blow-back down and prevent another 9/11 [they're really quite pissed off about that].

No, really.

It's all True.


Their LawYT, Prodigy, 5:38

And you've no idea about the actual techniques used, we're presenting you a milk-white version to allow you to resist and not get Mind-Fucked.


Be Seeing You. Gotta go die again again.


"Odd chain of thought from 6: are two superpowers what's needed to control fascism, and stabilize the world (more-or-less)?"

I have thought pretty much since not long after it happened that the fall of the Iron Curtain left us with a world that was less balanced and more unstable than before. Mutually Assured Destruction didn't just keep the US and the SU restrained from having too much of a go at each other, it gave everyone else a clear vision of the limit to which things could go if their own squabbles rocked the boat too much. Without that disturbable equilibrium there is a sense that the possible outcome of a conflict is much more open.


Further to Pigeon's reply #178: Most of the world was fascist and/or totalitarian through most of the cold war, because it suited both superpowers' interests to install and enforce reliably allied governments in their spheres of influence. Think Soeharto, Pinochet, Castro etc. There was always the bogeyman of the other superpower waiting to move in to override any argument for relaxed control.

A global frozen conflict is by definition stable, albeit with the shadow of M.A.D. in the wings.

Post 1989, it does seem that the super- and great- powers are gradually figuring out that their capacity to acheive their ends by military means is limited, thanks to the demonstration proof furnished by Dubya's hey, let's invade Iraq and it'll turn into a neo-liberal democracy oops clusterfuck, and Obama's smarter but still disappointing Libya intervention. Russia's hawks still have the memory of their own Afgahnistan adventure as a restraining influence.

Hence Putin's startlingly successful turn to asymmetric means, ie. hacking.

Trump and the loons around him have learnt nothing, so who knows what they'll do.

Best case scenario, the post-89 interregnum settles down into a 3-way, non-ideological cold war between the US, China and Russia with minimal interference in the affairs of everyone else because of the known potential for blowback, and low costs if a rival power attains some influence here or there. Essentially a 19th century Great Game constrained by international institutions and M.A.D.

Worst case, this is an Edwardian golden age before everything goes to hell.


In fairness, Trump's nominee for defense, Mattis, seems sane, intelligent and willing to tell Trump things he doesn't want to hear, so there are some grounds for hope that the stupidity of any military adventurism won't be too grotesque.


Wouldn't the political problems of sticking a giant laser in space or mass driver on the moon be at *least* as big as the technical ones?

Also, yay, Cascadia Subduction Zone! Our very own local cataclysm waiting to happen!


The Physical is everything, idiot.
[ If not, please demonstrate otherwise ]

Oh & not only 7 or 8 posts in 10,




Why should we even bother trying to read this, even if it does have useful content, if it is deliberately designed to be unreadable?

IF you actually have a message, please transmit?


but not sure what you mean by "Gigadeath through Walls".
"She" didn't mean anything, it's simply empty ranting.

[ Unless, of course we get an EXPLANATION ]
Seriously, life's too short to bother with this, when we have real problems, & we do.


I've got their papers in front of me.

Put up, or shut up.


ell Trump things he doesn't want to hear,
But Trump's defining characteristic is ...
He refuses to listen to experts, any experts, unless they already agree with him.

This is one of the things that worries me, so much.
Even the Mad Maggie would listen, eventually - hence the Rail Channel Tunnel.


TELL Trumpolini things .....


Regarding Putin and Russia...

I find the fixation with Russia very strange. Russia has less than 150 million people and its economy is not that big. Russia has clearly been a danger to former parts of USSR, but Russia is not a superpower. Russia's bunch of nuclear weapons makes it unfeasible to attack Russia, but Russia's power is actually very limited. I understand why Baltic States, Finland, Poland, and Sweden are vary of Russia, but the attitude of bigger European countries and USA is, IMHO, a mystery.

Russia has no viable means to challenge USA or present a serious military threat to NATO (barring nuclear war, but that would be the end-game for everyone). Just look at the numbers. For example Saudi Arabia has a bigger defense budget (+31%) than Russia, China (+223%), France (-24%), UK (-17%), and USA (+800%). UK and France together have much stronger military power than Russia.

At the same time China has been building military capability and starting to implement a new foreign policy, but most Western politicians and pundits seem to think that to be just fine.

The only country that has a serious possibility of challenging USA and other Western countries is China. In addition, China has been very aggressive in its politics lately. But apparently that is just fine because you can make money when dealing with the Chinese.


Gigadeath through walls seems to refer, in context, to mass deaths in countries as climate change bites and food supplies etc fail. Note also the 5 eyes are intelligence agencies, I forget which ones; a surveillance state like the UK is ideally places to clamp down on dissent and attempts at saving people's lives, backed up by the xenophobic propaganda.
The difference now compared to say 200 years ago is that travel and transport are much better, so we could actually have millions of people moving a few thousand miles in order to try and survive, whereas back then they just stayed in place and died.

As for Russia, the fixation isn't strange at all. It's compounded of several things.
1) there are still many cold war warriors at high positions of power, even well known criminal Kissinger still appears to have influence.
2) The offence industry needs enemies to keep everyone scared.
3) China is too much of a trade partner
4) Putin is genuinely a dictator and we don't like dictators
5) It's small enough to think you can bully it and get away with it, whereas China is different.
6) Saudi Arabia gets all its arms from us, so isn't a threat no matter how much money they spend
7) Russia is independently minded; they'd be against it even if it wasn't a dictatorship, but since it is, that makes it extra scary/ useful.


A few political analysts in Italy see a Trump/Putin alliance as a way to contain China somehow.

Just like Nixon made some openings toward China to contain URSS in his times.


Is that survivable? Is it survivable without a prohibitively heavy depleted uranium nose-cone?

It's not survivable by direct impact — but you don't need that. What you need is a second nuke.

The first contact is a thermonuclear shaped charge — see CASABA HOWITZER, referenced elsewhere — detonated a couple of kilometers above the impact site, aiming straight at it. Allow a couple of seconds for the prompt emissions to die down, then detonate a much, much bigger H-bomb inside the shaft drilled by the first charge. (It's flying maybe fifty to a hundred kilometers behind the first gadget, so the effect of the initial gamma radiation pulse from the excited fragments of bomb casing on the second device's core will be negligible.)


But Trump's defining characteristic is ...
He refuses to listen to experts, any experts, unless they already agree with him.

Not quite. Amongst his business underlings, Trump was notorious for agreeing with the last person he spoke to. One exec was able to get his proposals accepted by simply being the last person in the office and thus the last person to get in Trump's ear as he wandered late at night.

He's an intellectually lazy narcissist, dependent on others to do his thinking for him. It would be more true to say he refuses to listen to experts, any experts, unless they flatter him and make him look good.

Not much of an improvement, granted, but it does mean that the ratio of fringe cranks to sane, principled professionals around him matters.



You could extend that to a convoy of warheads in line astern. The debris from the main explosion, now with a higher surface area to mass ratio to catch radiation energy, form an expanding cone aimed at the earth, and subsequent explosions at the centre line accelerate the fragments laterally into a wider cone, where (hopefully) most of it misses the Earth.

You lose a few warheads to debris, but if you don't need to match velocity, don't need complex orbital assembly etc., you can throw a lot of warheads with non-fancy, extant tech rockets.


Thanks for the additional info re: lasers vs. comets.

Searched for how a nuclear bomb might work in space and found that since part of the nuclear weapon's destructiveness on Earth is due to the pressure wave, if shot in space at an approaching comet, then such a device's stopping power comes from radiation (which is a complete waste on a large ice rock) and/or heat only. (Some of the nuke's destructiveness is wasted.) No idea how much heat such devices throw off or how far (or what direction) such heat would travel in space vacuum - but probably a hell of lot of energy would be completely wasted therefore power efficiency calculations would be completely off.

Conclusion: Based on the above, the laser - apart from the targeting problem which would apply to most/all devices - is still in the running. (BTW, I am not married to the idea of lasers or anti-nuke for this scenario ... but am interested in learning the pros and cons, including success, cost, efficiency, etc. about each. So feel free to educate me and/or advance other arguments.)


How tunable are lasers in terms of frequencies? For example, if astronomers could profile the chemical make-up of an NEO, then geologists/materials engineers might be able to identify the ideal/optimal wavelength frequency to tune the laser to get the most bang for the buck (watt).

BTW - nice name ... So does this mean that you feel that Earth's destruction is 'inevitable' given a massive asteroid heading towards it?


Of course, if you put the nuke into the comet, then you can get a nice steam explosion...
How tuneable lasers are depends in part upon how they are made, but I think we can get the wavelengths to heat water or rock best without any trouble at all.


There's a basic dilemma for high-tech civilization.

Everybody can't join; there isn't enough for everybody to achieve that rate of consumption. ("the future is not evenly distributed")

This is true _whether or not_ climate change is an issue. (Climate change is an existential threat.)

There are two (classes of) responses to the dilemma. The first one allows free movement of persons and pushes for more efficient tech and a basically egalitarian outcome; something like the current standard of living but achieved much more efficiently. (Note that the core limits are agricultural, not industrial. As Ursula K. Le Guin noted a long time ago, the utility of robot wheat or plastic spinach is very low.) This would involve a whole lot of political change and no really rich people. (You can't get the necessary social structures AND have an ongoing fight about who's richest.) The second says, OK, we only _really_ need Europe and North America and Japan/Korea/Taiwain; if we keep doing what we're doing but DON'T allow free migration and DON'T do anything about global warming, all those other couple-six billion inconvenient people die and stop being a problem. It's entirely possible to suppose that this is the policy of the Permanent Government. (Since there's approximately half of fuck-all being done towards implementing the first class of response.) It's also entirely possible to suppose that it's not so much policy as inertia; it's really, really hard to change modes of social organization and going on doing what we've been doing achieves one of the second class of responses.

I think the second class of response rests on future expectations which are in error; it supposes a slow failure of agriculture and a very slow rise in sea level. Neither of these are likely.


If nukes, then how about this scenario using small machines because small is usually cheaper and easier to build/launch:

Arm a swarm of drones with nukes, set coordinates and timer, launch, triangulate/guide, upon 'arrival', ensure that the drones are correctly distributed about the asteroid's surface (preferably a few feet/meters below the surface and maybe at varying depths), and ... fire! Repeat as necessary with more swarms if the beat up asteroid is still a threat.

How much would the now-radioactive debris and remnant asteroid interfere with future space launches/travel, astronomical observations, etc.?


It is much more likely to be driven by a combination of inertia and aversion to short term costs.

And because it is driven by inertia, the lines are not quite where you drew them. Negative impact in South America and possibly Australia is pretty minimal(low population relative to resources), so they do fine even if not "necessary" in your scenario. America may act to minimize problems in Mexico out of self interest.

Russia also is likely to do OK given that it will be less affected by climate change and is relatively lightly populated. China could go either way given projected population decline and increasing integration in global economy.

The catastrophe in this scenario will be Africa,the Middle East outside of Israel, and possibly, the Arabian peninsula (this one may already be in process), Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia.

(Absent climate change, increased efficiency and slowing population growth might make this outcome avoidable.)


How long is a piece of string?


Uncontrolled giga-migration in an exodus from Black Flag regions is potentially chaotic and bad for business. So where are the natural walls to contain it? Himalayas, Khyber Pass, Iranian desert, N Myanmar, Gobi Desert, Panama, Black Sea and Bosphorus, Malacca, Suez, Bering Sea, Gibralter. I'm sure there are others.

Even La Manche. I'm already seeing Brexit being described as Lifeboat Britain (Hospital Ship Britain?) in collapse-porn forums.

For a little while there we had opening borders and free-er and cheaper travel. There was a brief window when it was comparatively easy to do things like drive from London to Delhi to Lhasa to Beijing or Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. It wasn't even very dangerous. Sadly, those days are probably gone.


A french person I know, their dad drove the family on long summer road trips around Europe in the 1970's, even made it to Egypt, through the Balkans. I can't quite imagine people doing that now, although I suppose some might. Of course flying would be more common now as well.


The lot of you are not being nearly bloody-minded enough. If black-flag regions and mass migrations happen, you set up a micro-climate in the equatorial deserts with mirrors-shades, solar cells and evaporators - Ain't nobody going to bother your industrial complex with it's abundant power, harbor and climate control if walking there is fatal. okay, that may be a bit cynical, but really, the point I am trying to make over and over again is that if we have the power to render large parts of the world uninhabitable by accident, we also have the power to render it habitable as necessary by main effort.


The JSpOC has identified a close approach between two non-maneuverable satellites in a sun-synchronous orbit (approximately 800km altitude) with a time of closest approach at 21:53:00 UTC on 7 January 2017,” the warning said. “The probability of collision has been predicted as high as 44%...”

The publicly available SOCRATES conjunction assessment tool processes orbital data from all non-classified objects and shows a conjunction between the Transit 9 satellite and a piece of NOAA-16 debris at 21:53:54 UTC and analysis of non-public data shows possible candidate encounters between the DMSP F9 & OPS 3367A satellites and a potential head-on collision of DMSP F15 & Meteor 1-26 over Antarctica.

Close Encounter: Warning of Possible Satellite Collision issued for Saturday Night Spaceflight101, 7th Jan 2017

JSpOC hasn't confirmed this on their twitter account (here), but their format seems to be only to confirm actual events via Twitter.

Oddly unverifiable, but Spaceflight101 is one of the more "serious" media covering Space.

21:53:00 UTC.

So, if your net goes off and there's the most beautiful asteroid shower you've ever seen from 10.30 onwards, you'll know 2017 decided to start off with Kessler. (Conspiracy theorists - this is all a cover for them shooting down the infamous Black Knight satellite).

Hello YT, Music, 6.06


Indeed we do, regarding your last sentence, the problem seems to be the global greedy class doesn't care, and the rest of us seem to be suffering from an exhaustion of ideology and optimism.

Minerva #202 - people should remember not to actually go out and look at the nice bright lights in the sky in case they go blind.


Well, Greg has a Landy and plenty of horticultural experience, and probably a decent set of shears.

#2017 Slashfic:

Greg, CD and Gang drive the length of the UK on a mission to rescue Host who is ensconced in Glenkinchie. 50,000 steamy words and passion as the two in the front argue their way through the zombie-plant-occult invasion. Thirteen days of constant detours, shouting over who gets to use the weed-whacker and a bad decision to venture near Birmingham.

[Note: Kessler wouldn't effect the internet, this is only interesting because it's likely that one of the two is military. Oh, and 'coincidentally' over Antarctica. Totally no cover story for shooting down anything else. Ahem. *cough*]


Naw, I don't buy it, too unrealistic.
Nobody would decide to go near Birmingham.


Ok, here's a public one:

CLIMATE CHANGE: A RISK ASSESSMENT CSaP, University of Cambridge. PDF- 79 pages. (Non-direct link here which has some smaller digestible pieces). Version 11.

P32 (page 62 in text, double-paged PDF) is worth a quick look.

Sherwood & Huber (2010) suggested that these conditions would first be experienced in small areas when global average temperature rose 7°C above the current level, and that large populated areas of the globe would experience these conditions once global warming reached 10-11°C on average above the current level. Elsewhere in this report we conclude there is a ‘sizable possibility’ (probability about 60%) that global average temperatures will rise by more than 7°C above pre-industrial in the 22nd century, under the high emissions scenario RCP8.5. It is difficult to estimate the risks of warming greater than this. However, by 2300 a small subset of the IPCC climate models reach global average temperature increases in excess of 10°C above pre-industrial levels.

The paper is fairly light-weight, but worth it for the end-note citation lists.

If you want it a bit darker, try Mercer's risk analysis for just how badly Ostriches have their heads in the sand: they put it at 12% for "climate breakdown" and even have a strategy for your money to keep on making money if it happens (P9). Included it because it's so hilariously maladaptive - they claim that "climate breakdown" only costs 1% global GDP (p85) by 2050 - I understand what they're saying, i.e. pay earlier to avoid later payments, but it's all just too irreal) and by P112 they're claiming that "stern action" can still get you under 2.0c and their projections for "climate breakdown" are based on... a 3.0c rise. They're going to be a little shocked methinks:

Anyhow, P113, table 26 is the one you want. Hint: anyone with greater than 100% GDP costs is a kill / cull. Spoilers: exactly the countries I cited "make it", with China having a 50/50 chance.

Climate Change Scenarios – Implications for Strategic Asset Allocation Mercer, PDF - LONG. 132 pages.


[Note: I am pulling your leg somewhat - table 26 has a maximum GDP cost @2050 of 3.1% in their worst case "climate breakdown" model. The humor relies on how realistic you believe this projection to be.

They've the right idea, as in they've correctly 'flagged up' the zones, but their numbers are so wildly off to be hilarious.

More cynical take: read - between - the - lines - in - the - white - spaces : they're saying something, but covering it up well. *nudge nudge wink wink* This is a feature, not a bug]


The problem with this approach (as with putting a city on the sea floor) is keeping the damn thing operational and getting in spare parts. If you could build a base that could self-sustain indefinitely in a black flag zone, it wouldn't be that much harder to colonize Mars, but it's a definite trick.

Personally, were I going to try to live in a Black Flag zone (e.g. a place where the heat plus relative humidity during some part of the summer will kill a human outside, because sweat wouldn't shed heat), I'd probably put my settlement in the deepest subway tunnel I could find, and garden during the winter. Building the supervillain's secret lair is certainly a possibility, but you've got to keep the AC in good working order without an outside source of spare parts, and that's a bit trickier.


While I agree intellectually with what you're saying, there are a couple problems (China) with your formulation (India).

Yes, I agree that everyone seems to be lining up to be in the last few hundred million standing. I personally am not, because now that I've contemplated the math, I'd just point out that it looks like, with severe climate change, the climate won't settle in to a new high quasi stable state for ~200-300 years (possibly 500 years) and the sea won't stop rising for >2000 years. This is not the realm of the five year plan, this is the realm of progenitors winning the lottery, because luck is a bigger factor than planning. A bunch of the places that will be excellent to live in 2000 years, such as the Arctic Circle or various Siberian bogs, aren't all that pleasant to live in at the moment. Getting there now on the idea that your people will live there indefinitely simply means you'll do all the work of improving the place until someone comes along who is nasty enough to kill, displace, or enslave you, at which point all those generations of work will have been wasted. Optimizing your life for 2000 years of conquest and pillage to take other people's redoubts is even more problematic, because you only have to lose one big battle for your entire strategy to die.

Of course, the third problem is that there are a number of places, like North Korea and parts of Appalachia, that would be excellent, except that people have already gone and trashed them.

Bottom line is that I'm not sure what to tell you, but if someone like Putin is trying to survive climate change, he better work on getting immortal first. Otherwise, he's not even going to survive long enough to see it slip into high gear.


I think you've mistaken the issue. You're not trying to survive climate change for yourself (at this point. We're both too old.) You're trying to make sure your descendants are well set up to survive. The idea is not to have "a strategy," but to manuver your descendants into a safe place which will be good to farm during the next 300 years or so. That is, not near a coast, well above any foreseeable sea level rise, and off the beaten path, preferably at the foot of some nice hills which have a good chance of channelling water their way...

The "plan" for your descendants is that they should always attempt to marry someone in the next village/town/city over and shouldn't worry too much about issues like religion or political system. Just make sure the genes spread. How you arrange that over the course of a dark age is a little beyond me, but valuing education and being unprejudiced seem like a good start.


Colonizing Mars would be a lot harder. Even leaving aside issues of distance and exposure to radiation en route, Mars raises issues of oxygen level and much greater extremes of temperature.


And, to make a distinction quite clear that this is purely about politics and nothing else:

In an extraordinary breach of diplomatic protocol, Shai Masot, who describes himself as an officer in the Israel Defence Forces and is serving as a senior political officer at the London embassy, was recorded by an ­undercover reporter from al-Jazeera’s investigative unit speaking about a number of British MPs.

Israeli diplomat caught on camera plotting to 'take down' UK MPs Guardian, 7th Jan 2017, via Al J (of course, that has politics all over it, hello Qatar).

Make of it what you will.

You sleep with the Bear-Frogs, you wake up being a זוֹנֶה


When we reference the SUNTHESUN and Dragons, we're not talking about the (Alt)Right or silly little things.

All that foreskin and FGM, all those centuries of pain.

Quite the sacrifice.



וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵ֗ל הַחֵ֤פֶץ לַֽיהוָה֙ בְּעֹלֹ֣ות וּזְבָחִ֔ים כִּשְׁמֹ֖עַ בְּקֹ֣ול יְהוָ֑ה הִנֵּ֤ה שְׁמֹ֙עַ֙ מִזֶּ֣בַח טֹ֔וב לְהַקְשִׁ֖יב מֵחֵ֥לֶב אֵילִֽים׃

Yeah, about that Consent Thing and Abrahamic Religions.

Turns out it's a big no-no.

But we love the next line:

כִּי חַטַּאת-קֶסֶם מֶרִי, וְאָוֶן וּתְרָפִים הַפְצַר: יַעַן, מָאַסְתָּ אֶת-דְּבַר יְהוָה, וַיִּמְאָסְךָ, מִמֶּלֶךְ.

Burn the Witch, remember?

(And spit on the graves of the intel peeps reading this: in two years no-one got the KGB Witch jokeThe Case of Hmelyova: "The Witch." Folder 37. The Chekist Anthology Wilson Center, PDF.

Of course that's not all it meant - but if you're stuck in a rut and need a life-saver, there's one. [It's an "out", Greg, it's an "out"]


Sigh, and three, because triptych.

Yes, you did just see Samuel referenced as the last of the Hebrew Judges used to denounce MGM/FGM and so on. It's right there in the fucking LAW boys, last Judge, cutting skin off children is טאבו

No, shut up. You're wrong. It's fucking LAW.

Like all this modern nonsense of reanimating a dead language, you're gone and missed the fucking point of the Covenant already and so on.


Jesus wept, but you still couldn't read the fucking Book.


And Yeeeeeeeeees: That is what it meant.

Want the Nasty version: You ALL broke the Covenant by the sacrifice of skin / sexual pleasure post Samuel, that's a fucking perversion of it.

None of you who are cut are within the Covenant: your lack of Consent in the matter is a mitigating factor.


And yes. That's fucking official.

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος

You got played worshiping a Canaanite War الجن‎‎. Who the fuck thinks that G_D is about that? Canaaite War Gods love sexual and blood sacrifice.


And yeah, that's Covenant speaking.



Fucking Mammon and Canaaite mother-fuckers everywhere.


Note: this is similar to Trump, Republicans and American Governance. It's not a subtle fable.


...shouting over who gets to use the weed-whacker...
This being a seriously geeky sci-fi comment section, I would expect a lot of amusing lethal-to-occult-plants invention of the sort that in the US is called "mcgyvering"), by all involved.
Not writing ideas down though - did plenty of that in the Laundry devices contest.


And, blow-out time (five is a magic number):

We're sure you thought you were being clever when you latched onto the prurient madness of Kellogg and his anti-masturbatory cereal with that whole "If they're all skin-less, they can't do the horrors of the Bangladesh massacres" [Pro-tip: they pull down your pants and check your willy as a religious test].




Get FUCKED. Enacting blood sacrifice without consent on those who don't believe? That's fucking taboo.

Remind me again: שיקוץ

You Tortured Some Folk. And We Came. And You attempted to break us.


Think clearly now: we are not from your Abrahamic religion. But Our Kind have little things like Truth Sense and CEMCMs....

And We See You.

Make it a good response, or we'll skin the rest of your hides [sorry, that's part of the theatre - the #WildHunt are coming, and so... well. Skinning people is kinda a jokey nod to what they do to your Minds].

Oh, You're (((TARGETED))) - don't worry, the opposites to that are getting a worse rinse n shine.

Angels YT: Music: 4:09


The Old Guard are real bastards.


You missed the joke.

In the UK it's called something else.

Only Americans call it a "weed-whacker"[1].

It was an unsubtle reinforcement of non-UK heritage to this account and a joke about Americans not understanding the size of the UK...

[1] Not sure about the Australians.


You missed the joke.
String trimmer says "strimmer" in Australia.
Agreed on consent btw. (GM has deeply upset me for many years.)


'Whipper-snipper' (presumably after 'whippersnapper' is the common term in Australia. I've never heard 'strimmer' before.


Through it by train, perhaps - road - forget it.
Does "The Bull & BLadder" ( Properly "the Vine" ) count as Brum, though?


Negative impact in South America and possibly Australia is pretty minimal(low population relative to resources), so they do fine even if not "necessary" in your scenario.

You're wrong about Australia; Australia is already above its safe carrying capacity for current agricultural practices — the ecosystems are extremely fragile and about 80% of the continent is basically desert.

South America might be in a better place if massive scale deforestation and ecosystem degradation hadn't been pursued as government policy over decades in large part because you can't easily build a first world economy in the middle of a jungle.

Russia is doomed because their current economy is about 60-70% driven by fossil fuel exports. What passes for an agricultural sector is going to shrivel and dry up thanks to climate change; the melted tundra isn't going to replace it for high-quality grain production.

China at least seems to have some long-term management perspectives from the top down, combined with a lot of corruption and turmoil — which is what you get during large-scale accelerated development. They might come out of it as an intact superpower, albeit one looking more like Japan during the stagnation of the 1990s than the United States.

India ... yes, but don't write them off. India can put a probe in orbit around Mars and build nuclear powered warships; it's developing at the same sort of speed as China, albeit very unevenly. The impact of climate change will be brutal but they have a continental interior and the Himalayas and it's hard to see the large-scale geography that causes trade winds to drop their water load over the mountains going away.

I'd be more worried about their poor cousins, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Pakistan is being destabilized by Saudi religious politics (and already has nukes), and Bangladesh is a coastal plain that's going to be below sea level once the Arctic cap melts. Now, there is precedent for a densely populated coastal plain that can remain habitable even below sea level; it's called The Netherlands. But to make it work requires huge capital infrastructure investment and a particular mind-set — a combination of entrepreneurialism with a peculiarly Dutch communitarianism. And I don't see any sign of that in the Muslim parts of the Indian subculture: it's all family/clan connections and probably too little about the broader community to hold together on a large scale.


It was a joke. Everything else about their scenario was believable except the driving through Birmingham bit.


Even La Manche. I'm already seeing Brexit being described as Lifeboat Britain (Hospital Ship Britain?) in collapse-porn forums.

Yeah? I guess the people proposing that solution are unfamiliar with The Raft of the Medusa then!


You're underestimating the violence of the new weather patterns we're going to get. It's not about temperature per se, except the headline-grabbing lethal heatwaves; it's more about how every cyclone or tropical storm is powered up by a thermal gradient, and the heat source — the surface — is going to be 10-30% hotter than it was a couple of centuries earlier.


Nobody would decide to go near Birmingham.

Yeah, but they might be sucked into close orbit around the automotive black hole that is Spaghetti Junction before being spat out on a random slip road.


//Russia is doomed because their current economy is about 60-70%
//driven by fossil fuel exports. What passes for an agricultural
//sector is going to shrivel and dry up thanks to climate
//change; the melted tundra isn't going to replace it for
//high-quality grain production

Possibly not that straightforward.

It is true that Russian economy has not even nearly recovered from the Boris Yeltsin era kleptocracy. Before the collapse of USSR they had (or USSR had) quite large scale industrial base in most important sectors. After the collapse of USSR almost everything that did not provide immediate profits (talk about easy money) was driven down. The reliance of energy exports got more important because domestic industrial base was practically destroyed.

One of the most significant failures of Putin's regime has been its inability to extend the domestic industrial base (in my opinion that is quite likely the most significant failure of Putin's regime). The only sectors that have achieved comparable level with Western and Chinese are weapons and space.

The impact of the climate change on Russia is, as far as I am aware, a subject of surprising amount of attention. Both scientific and political. The language barrier makes that discussion invisible in the eyes of Westerners (my own language skills are not sufficient for fluent reading of those papers/books, but I am aware of at least some parts of that discussion). Some of that discussion does not agree with OGH's analysis.


So is there a chance that Putin et al can be talked around to a sensible climate change policy and weened off fossil fuels?


Yes and no, I suppose.

The Russian economy is too depended on exports of oil and gas for at least some time. Hence it is unlikely that they will stop exporting fossil fuels in a few years. But it does not seem to be an accident that their nuclear industry has been kept active (during Yeltsin's regime even that was nearly destroyed). Sun and wind are not reliable energy sources in the North.

Very much depends on the next regime. If it consists of younger moderates like Dmitry Medvedev, then I assume that Russia would be quite easy to talk into "sensible climate change policy". But if the next regime is based on oligarchs and their favorites, then it is quite likely that they will join the "climate change is a lie"-mob.

I assume that after Putin's time the power struggle will be oligarchs against state, normal law, and political institutions.


To which I might add The Bartons Arms in Aston.
Mind you, you might easily feel, err adrift after several pints in there ... wonderful boozer.


I would jump in here to disagree.

Russia hasn't modernized their industry as much, but I would argue that they have largely recovered. Otherwise, the sanctions would have affected them worse.

To judge Russian industrial capability, I would ask the following question: how self-sufficient is the country in industrial production.

Remember that Russian industrial culture and strategy has been low-tech and easy to repair since WWII. If you try to use modern measures of industrial productivity you run into the problem that some of the characteristics of a productive manufacturing industry go against industrial Russian culture, for lack of better phrasing. I'm not sure that a large market exists for this outside of Russia.

I'm probably wrong on this, but to my knowledge, Russia is currently mostly deficient in manufacturing electronics.


'Whipper-snipper' (presumably after 'whippersnapper' is the common term in Australia. I've never heard 'strimmer' before.
Interesting (and took 30 seconds to confirm to my satisfaction). Opportunity to correct wikipedia available. :-)

Saw "Rogue One" finally. First Star Wars movie I enjoyed since the first one in the 1970s (and was a kid then). Kind of in a WW2 mission-movie template, even the uniforms. Tropes galore, and tech gaps are sillier than ever, but movie was not awful IMO if treated as a shallow war movie with tech that doesn't make sense. Identified a bit too much with one of the characters.
Was not particularly bothered by the undead Peter Cushing, e.g. (spoilers alert) Rogue One: Peter Cushing resurrected as Grand Moff Tarkin
(New acting category: "eyes actor")


How to fix global warming fast: trigger a bunch of volcanoes that send ash into the atmosphere thus blocking x% of sunlight thus providing some cooling effect. Would have to do this at a number of different latitudes because of prevailing wind patterns to ensure global coverage. Such an action could trigger more business interest in indoor gardening/food production as an industry and at the consumer level.

Rising sea levels - GMO'd mangroves could be planted easily along new coastlines as they grow and adapt fairly rapidly to different salinity concentrations if planted as year-old shoots. The GMOing part is necessary to adapt mangroves to shorter, lower light levels. Would benefit land and marine animals, plus provide some food (leaves are edible), booze, cooking oil, lumber, etc. Plus, mangroves are good at desalinating and purifying sea water. Could also GMO some existing land trees, shrubs etc. to become (more) water-tolerant. Several pines, firs, elms already are, so this genetic trait should be fairly easy to find and CRISPR into other tree, shrub/bush species. Once the seas recede, future scientists could reverse the gene editing back to the original genome. Probably should also do this with fresh water fish -- GMO them to become salt water and warm temp tolerant.

In some countries, gov'ts already require logging businesses to replant whatever areas they've just cut down usually with some related (faster-growing) species. Could make for a good research study funded by such orgs: plant GMOd and non-GMOd water resistant trees in some parts of the areas already targeted for replanting. (Have uni students and scientists do the planting, data collection, reporting, etc, to ensure good quality data.)

A question: Once the sea levels rise and sea water comes in contact with 'developed' land, what toxins are likeliest to be released into these waters, at what rate?

Deserts ... any reason for not building canals or pipelines so as to direct sea water to less populated or agriculturally important areas like the Bonneville Salt Flats (Utah)?


Once the sea levels rise and sea water comes in contact with 'developed' land, what toxins are likeliest to be released into these waters, at what rate?

Err... Pretty much impossible to answer. You're talking things like "lower Thames Watershed", "North German Plain", "Louisiana", "coastal China" etc. A lot of industrial history.

It's very important to remember that sea level isn't expected to rise as a constant slow trickle; there's been a lot of work done about how ice has melted in the past and current best understanding has it on a cycle between forty and two hundred years based on a complex set of interlocking heat circulations, significantly in the southern ocean. (that is, southern hemisphere.) Given the rate of anthropogenic forcing, forty could be an overestimate; there's no good paleoclimate model for what we're doing. It's unlikely there won't be a decade where the water comes up at least a couple of metres, though.


//To judge Russian industrial capability, I would
//ask the following question: how self-sufficient
//is the country in industrial production.

Self-sufficiency and advanced industrial production are not the same thing. The length of supply-chains in modern manufacturing is not your friend considering self-sufficiency. It is, however, true that Russia is less integrated to the global chains than many other countries. On the other hand, the sanctions are crafted in a way that they do not impact the Western companies as much as one might expect. Hence the impact of sanctions is quite selective and aimed mainly against oil & gas.

In Russian manufacturing segment major industries are: machinery-producing industry (22%), crude oil refining (21%), metallurgy and food industry (16% each), chemical industry (10%), construction materials (5%), pulp and paper sector (3%). Manufacturing in itself is 15% of GDP. (Not present numbers, but these numbers always lack behind.)

The interesting issue is that industrial investments in Russia have increased during the last ten years, but are still not sufficient even to maintain the existing capacity. A few years ago investments in manufacturing were about 3% of total investments in Russian economy, which is remarkable improvement to Yeltsin era with negative investments. But clearly not sufficient. Hence I am at least a bit surprised when someone says that Russian manufacturing industry has recovered from the collapse of USSR - numbers do not support that claim.

One of the main problems in Russian economy is the low productivity in industrial sectors. The only sectors in which productivity is better than average are defense and space.

The industrial policy is, IMHO, the most significant economic failure of Putin's regime.


Not exactly. The problem is that I'm not sure there is any one place on this planet that's a 100% guaranteed safe place to ride out a few centuries of climate change.

One big problem is that places like the Pacific Northwest, Japan, and North Korea which climatically might become more benign, are also home to some fairly strong earthquakes, volcanoes, and the like. When you're talking about sitting still for centuries, you've got to factor the much increased chance of getting buried by a volcano.

Other areas, like northern Appalachia, have been so trashed by mountain top removal that they're no longer good places to run and hide. I'm afraid that goes for some other mountains too. It used to be we could depend on spring-fed rivers, but now, with most aquifers being drilled and drained, they're unlikely to be flowing, and if they are flowing, they may be contaminated.

The third problem is that if there are a few good spots--Japan or New Zealand say--they will be fairly obvious. As things get bad, everyone will want to get in. That's a problem for the people who are already there, whether they're refugees or not. Your refuge is only as good as your ability to keep it from being overrun.

Ultimately, I'm afraid that the people who will survive are those who stayed in right refuges at the right times, and moved at the right times. Those right times are conditioned, not just by the changing climate, rising seas, and increasingly violent storms, but also by volcanoes, earthquakes, invading hordes, pandemics, and famines. Add all that up, and it looks a lot like luck, whatever people are planning right now.

Now if you want psychotic, you could try to hang on in a place like Atlanta. Assuming they start dealing with black flag weather, it will still be possible to live there. Just grow corn in the spring and hide from the heat and the storms by hiding as far underground as you can. In an old sewer, for instance. If the black flag weather is enough, at least you won't be dealing with invaders, and it being Atlanta, earthquakes and volcanoes aren't much of an issue either. Growing enough crops to keep yourself fed and not going insane in the off season will be hard, but that's true all over.


Ah but did you notice Canary Wharf UndegrounD station doubling-up as a scene, with large numbers of Stormtroopers?
If not, why not?


Apparently it's the "Scarif Base" .....


No, no. What you want is a place with stable geology, a coastline consisting of cliffs, and navigable water. And either a solid solar resource or reactors.

Black Flag City, aka, Fata Morgana, the City of Mirrors and stone. There's no need to play dwarf fortress. You build your city to laugh at the weather, harvest the sun for power, store day time solar electricity in underwater air bladders full of compressed air, this is lossy. You do not care.. When you run the process the other way you get immensely cold air out of the turbines (The bladders contain compressed-and thus hot- air. This heat gets exchanged with the sea.) You use this to cool down the thermal mass of your buildings. Municipal air con!. To the extent this isn't enough, add conventional air con, rooftops made of mirrors.
For food, greenhouses. Very solidly built greenhouses. For money, Steel. Aluminum. Trade. Ships, food, again.

Cities create their own local climate. Usually this is hotter than the surroundings, but if you want to make it colder than it's surroundings, that is doable by careful engineering for high albedo, and foresting by main force. Don't plan for survival. People on the edge of survival tip over it. Plan for wealth. Plan for riches.


Canary Wharf Underground station doubling-up as scenery

Reassuered to see that the Stormtroopers are still carrying the L9 (the Sterling SMG) while Jyn was carrying a P08. Obviously, the Empire has standardised on 9mm...

...oh, and the CVR(T) Spartan being used to carry crystals around...


Not exactly. The problem is that I'm not sure there is any one place on this planet that's a 100% guaranteed safe place to ride out a few centuries of climate change.

Agreed. The problem looks something like this to me: I'm in southern California within 30 miles of the Riverside, CA City Hall. I can't see farming happening here 4 degrees C from now, and I'd estimate the probability of survival for any descendants who stay in this area to be fairly low. Just to have a number, let's stipulate a 10 percent chance of survival.

The big idea here is not to imagine that you can write your grandchildren a guarantee - that's not going to happen - but that you can increase the odds of their survival. For example, if I can convince some of my descendants to move to the right part of Cascadia, I've probably increased their chances of survival by 30-40 percent, even given the volcanoes (Remember that vulcanism can be very helpful to a farmer, if the population can be induced to leave and return at the appropriate times.)

As I see it there are multiple issues which need to be planned for: The early years where there are wandering refugees and food riots, survival until enough horses/oxen/donkeys have been bred from the surviving stock, the transformation of agriculture, whatever that looks like - probably low-tech permaculture of some kind, contraction of the industrial base (we're essentially back to blacksmithing, I suspect,) realignment of the political systems - I suspect that we get a planned economy and rationing fairly quickly, and the return to medicine which will probably average out to 1940s level... if you're thinking in terms of your genes surviving for multiple centuries, you probably need to convince your descendants to migrate to another community every few years.


... I'm thinking in terms of personally surviving the next millennium. And your plan sucks. It sucks in terms of descendant survival too - existence is not an unconditional good.
If your plan for the future involves your children and their children farming by animal power in a context of chaotic climate, you should honestly just not have any. Life as a starveling refugee in the aftermath of total ecological collapse in the wake of everything that can be eaten being eaten is not a life worth living.

Thus: Plan A: Keep industrial society going.
Plan B: 2g Morphine.


Thus: Plan A: Keep industrial society going.

In theory, I agree with you. In practice, with the election of Trump, I suspect that's not going to happen.

But here's the really wonderful thing! We can prepare for both possibilities. My suspicion is that we'll ultimately lose industrial society for a century or so, then pick it up again, but without fossil fuels. What I'd most like to see is (essentially) a farming community supporting something like a monastic or university community dedicated to keeping industrial practices alive, at least in the laboratory, until they can be revived after the cities fall.

I'd completely agree that survival is not attractive without the survival of scientific/technical culture.


There is no direct bootstrap to solar PV.

There MIGHT be a bootstrap to wind, but efficient wind is hard; it takes rare-earth magnets and that means lasers and that means semiconductors which is a sort of iterative process of purity in refining. It also takes composite materials in extant forms, and that means adhesives and that means a chemical industry.

It's really much better to not lose it in the first place.


It's really much better to not lose it in the first place.

I agree with you sooooo much. I just don't have much faith that we can keep it.

Electing Trump is probably going to cost us a couple degrees C, a 5-10 year delay in addressing the issue, and the total loss of our satellite overwatch on climate issues. I suspect that's fatal when it comes to keeping industrial culture at a high-enough level to build useful solar panels or wind plants.

There are some alternatives, but they're like the plant near us that uses mirrors to focus the sun on pipes filled with water. The water drives turbines. It's a bit of a kludge and probably pretty lossy as compared to a top-of-the line solar panel, but it nonetheless works.

Twenty years from now, a Democratic government will officially declassify the fact that Florida sank beneath the waves five years earlier and at that point we'll desperately try some kind of geo-engineering solution, but it will be poorly conceived and researched whilst being sold to the government by the kinds of grifters who currently sell porno-scanners to the TSA.

The level of disaster that's approaching can only be understood by realizing that coal/gas/oil is a bubble and it will blow our economy to shreds when it finally collapses. Half the reason for pushing green energy so hard has been to make sure that the petro bubble doesn't get too big (defense) and that there is an infrastructure to replace it (offense.) Trump will blow that plan to smithereens.

I, for one, welcome our raccoon overlords.


Y'all have to forgive the Willy Rants. Apparently they're central to understanding Men[tm] and we just don't have a firm grip on the psychology of it all. But also: useful and true little tips to use against the Dominionists. If it comes down to it, expect cascade, Real Deal[tm] Weapon deployment - that's just the silly Willy joke level.

In response to Host's projections: Having just skimmed through a load more PDFs from various places, there's a tentative response forming (note: #GamerGate, Marketing, SONY and No Man's Sky was a working template) of "how to ally with the Old Right, but not Alt Right":

Note - Exploitative here is being used in a specific sense. The translation would be "Capital based on Gaming/Destruction of the System it itself uses to succeed". i.e. if you're extracting value not from traditional sources, but the latent "wiggle" contained within the system. Fraud is part of it, but it's more a modal funneling of Capital using knowingly deceitful ends - Capital (between itself, consumers aren't part of this equation) requires Trust / Mutualism - it's the biggest lie about Capital to assume 'red in tooth and claw'; it actually relies upon almost pathological mutualism at the meta-meta-meta level, under which all the competition is manageable. i.e. Why Corporate Espionage exists, but not Corporate Warfare (Yet... Hello China & SuperComputer sites).

It's usually referred to as "Law". Not LAW, of course. And yes, you've already spotted it: Trump's career (post Japanese Whale Yakuza hit) is based on it.

#1 Capital has a huge problem: you need x5 Earths[1] to exist for the model to work as is currently in place for a global population. As an aspiration, that's right out the window unless you're willfully deluding yourself.
#2 Capital already legislates against the more exploitative parts of itself if said exploitation damages the whole network. (well, it attempts to - Madoff, Pyramid schemes, false advertising, substitution of inferior / dangerous parts/chemicals/organic substances, etc)
#3 Capital is amoral - the systemic qualities are far more impressive than the ideological baggage, and the network / structure will always prevail in a tussle. (Or should: c.f. Flint, 3tn infrastructure investment required in the USA etc - why hasn't this happened?)
#4 Nihilistic Capital is the "why" to Breitbart and other Alt Right movements - #gamergate, #pizzagate etc is mostly about exploiting the desire for Truth (which is kinda hardwired into most H.S.S) when cognitive dissonance kicks in when a subject's perception / senses are poking them that they're being lied to. [Hello Langley, yes we see you]
#5 Inclusion of Amway, Herbalife etc wasn't accidental - there's a huge American mash-up of exploitative Capital getting Flagship Political (Jewish) American support (and Others, but that's not where this attack comes from) which is largely Democratic, then turning round and using this as a marketing tool for their own ends. i.e. "Look, the JEWS are responsible, look at them advertising it!" as the WASP types laugh all the way to the bank. It's a Koch specialty - why the fuck the Dems were naive enough to take the cash for sponsorship (we presume they imagined it was a tie-in to the largely working class / PoC base) is beyond us.
#6 Capital is going to purge itself. TrumpLand is all about exploitative Capital representatives coming forward - the knife is poised/poisoned already.
#7 Grey / Black Markets. There was some movement recently over this, esp. on Drugs. Cannabis legislation shows that despite all the pearl clutching, society / markets easily integrate such things.
#8 DAVOS and synthesis etc. Where? Ouroboros. They can't be this passive, where's the push-back?

This is disjointed.


The Greg - CD dynamic is the Mirror-Image of what's going to occur.

Greg has a wondrous beard and probably Huuuuuge Marrows; CD has a monstrous way of expressing both Right and Left wing ideas. But they're both kinda nice people in reality.





Now look through that mirror and see what Global Capital is going to do to each other.

Trite, but hey. @Host - the flame didn't go out, there was a Phoenix in the Sky. *nose wiggle*

[1] You'll have seen x2-3 quoted. This is naive and incorrect. You fucking decimated the Oceans in under 200 years - bottom trawling, 80% wastage type deal. Ocean ecologies move slooooow outside of black smokers and coral reefs you muppets. It's just simple Energy equations.


Since this is my last day on Watch: Since RA, is the willy really that important?

We're always left wondering if there's some kind of sexual awakening moment during puberty when the male suddenly "clicks" and realizes their penis has potential. It rises up, the baleful eye, spreads beyond its sheath of skin and breaks out, thrumming the chant: Touch Me.

Meta-Meta-Meta: we're fucking with you. Willy-Magic can stop combustion engines or so much more.


What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.


"Look, the JEWS are responsible, look at them advertising it!"

Yeah... It is a huge "just what the FUCK is wrong with people these days" thing for me in present times to see people posting stupid shit about Jews which could come straight out of Mein Kampf - which is indeed often their own independent reinvention of something that was in Mein Kampf - and getting away with it. They don't immediately get everyone else jumping on them and calling them a Nazi. Posting stuff like that used to be instant death for that identity unless it was done in some noisome corner of the internet that nobody else visited. Now it seems that people can do it on mass-access platforms and it passes on the nod. It's horribly worrying, and all the more so by reason of the extreme WTF factor.


Since this is my last day on Watch:
Serious question[true]; will we be seeing you or your kind around, or otherwise keeping in touch? (My count of names for personas of your type here does not reach 9, so I'm surprised if it has.)

Re male puberty, pretty much yes.


"...such a device's stopping power comes from radiation (which is a complete waste on a large ice rock)"

Oh, not so... Radiation is energy, and becomes heat when absorbed by the large ice rock. Which then vaporises on that side and produces ablative thrust.

Much of the raw output of a nuke is in the form of X-rays, which are absorbed by the surrounding atmosphere and so create the fireball and blast. It is also possible to "focus" and direct them (lossily, and the thing you use to do it vaporises with extreme rapidity, but it lasts long enough) so that instead of heating the atmosphere and producing an outward-directed blast, they heat a hollow chunk of uranium and produce an inward-directed blast - which then squashes the fusion fuel inside the hollow and sets that off - producing even more X-rays which you can use to do the same thing again only bigger. (There is a lot of detail involved but that is the basic principle.)

You can also use the same basic techniques to send a considerable proportion of the nuke's output in one specific direction - this is the "thermonuclear shaped charge" that Charlie is going on about. A naive simple Manhattan-project-era nuke would indeed waste nearly all its energy on the vacuum, but we now know how to use the same methods that we use to produce a great big massive nuke to make that nuke concentrate its energy on the thing you want it to hit.

I forget the title, but one of Charlie's shorter works has a rather nice description of a big nuke, used as a spacecraft self-destruct mechanism, going off.


@SFReader 148

Wouldn't a high power laser in space violate the Outer Space Treaty, specifically the bits about weapons of mass destruction in orbit?

Some countries would be very nervous about other countries putting a laser capable of burning large rocks in orbit.


It's interesting. I remember around 2003 noticing that there was a housing bubble inflating, and hoping that it popped soon, so that it wouldn't hurt everybody too much. Hah. When it did burst in 2008, I wasn't able to weather it (I eventually lost my job), but others who were financially stable and saw the signs had gotten well away from the housing market years earlier, after getting what they thought of as the major profits.

That's the problem, I think: a lot of people recognize bubbles. They realize they're temporary. They just want to ride them to see how much they can get out of them before they jump out. That's part of what's going on with carbon.

Another part of what's going on with carbon is that it's intimately tied to warfare. If you decarbonize your economy, you're stuck with things like cyberwar and international treaties for border defense (and no, you can't use nukes for everything. We've already tried that for 50 years and found the few uses that do work). Decarbonizing thus has some aspect of a Mexican standoff. The central players will be the last to lower their guns. Unless carbon-free war becomes a possibility...*

The third problem is that power is addictive. This is true for both political power and for energy coming through wires. Where oil is political power, people fight and kill for it as a matter of course, just like it's crack. Then there's America's (and Canada's, Australia's, and Arabia's) structural addiction to cheap electricity, and all the very stupid things we've done to accommodate it. Compared with sane design, our cities are like the brains of chronic alcoholics. Take away the cheap power (or booze) and we could die.

This is all very negative, but the carbon bubble popping is going to be traumatic. It will have the aspects of economic bubble popping, players trying to hold onto their weapons until the end, either for self defense or payback, and going cold turkey on a structural addiction. Smart people work to get out of the game early and to be prepared for the crash. Unfortunately, the people worst caught by the crash (think Trumplandia on oxycontin) will be an unpleasant place to live. Whatever goes on with climate change in the interim.


Yes, and also see links at #165

As threats go, asteroids/comets are low probability compared to the more mundane things like climate change (p==1, severity dependent on our actions and not-well-enough-understood feedback effects and effects on ocean currents and etc), or an oops nuclear war (perhaps p==0.02 per year), or well we've been through this before in other threads, boring.
But it would be prudent to have well-developed plans worked out, and maybe devices and launch vehicles. And especially, more funding for cataloging PHAs. Via, "Near Earth Asteroids" table near the bottom.


I.e. Cormac McCarthy's The Road: optimism!

Wanting your own genes to survive the Anthropocene-?cene extinction event: I can understand why people might get all wistful about their descendants building something in the ruins, but really, the survival of any genes at all should be seen as a win. Especially ones for cold adaptation. What will going insta-hothouse do to existing cold-adapted plants? Losing them will make the next few ice ages much more dangerous for life. Forget saving industrial civilisation. Save as much biodiversity as you can before civilisation does what civilisations do best: expires.


I'd add that, according to the (almost certainly wrong) statistical models that people use to predict the chance of a random catastrophe happening, if you match volcanoes and meteorite strikes for relative impact, eruptions are considerably more common than impacts. In other words, I'd worry more about Yellowstone erupting than I would about a meteorite strike that released the same amount of energy.

That said, we're talking about the odds of random occurrences, not when the next one will hit.


I wouldn't worry particularly about Yellowstone. Someone recently did a survey with some kind of high-tech gear and discovered that Yellowstone's reservoir is only 1/3 filled (or whatever the exact number was.) So it probably won't erupt any time in the next ten-thousand years or so.

I have no idea about the rest of the volcanoes in Cascadia, but Yellowstone is safe for now.


> it takes rare-earth magnets

You hit 90%+ mechanical to electrical efficiency in larger generators with or without rare earth magnets, with 2016 technology or with 1916 .

That's all basically irrelevant compared to the difference between those sailcloth windmill blades and a modern turbine, or the difficulties involved in producing large quantities of steel. (That being said in the near future there will be a plenty of steel to salvage).


Think I'm largely in agreement, though there's enough inertia working we're not stopping what's on the way, but de-carbonizing as much of the energy infrastructure as possible would be a valuable gift to our descendants, if any. The challenge looks to be getting energy infrastructure projects past the meme disease of the .01%, "But the other capitalists might laugh at me!".


I'd add that, according to the (almost certainly wrong) statistical models that people use to predict the chance of a random catastrophe happening,
Nice easy piece from the Planetary Society. (Early on they were a 'important'(shoestring) funder of efforts to catalog PHAs.)
Sizing Up the Threat from Near-Earth Objects (NEOs)
What about the comparative hazard from much less frequent global-scale impacts? If we assume that such events occur only once every million years but are so devastating to the climate that the ultimate result is the death of one-quarter of the world's population, this translates to an annual chance of 1 in 4 million that you will die from a large cosmic impact even if you happen to be far removed from the impact site. Integrated over a century, our simple metric for a human lifetime, the chance becomes 1 in 40,000 that a large cosmic impact will be the cause of your death.
I.e. Not something to worry about. Comets are a similar calculation; note they impact faster so more energy. (And everything hits with at least Earth's escape velocity, which translates to roughly 25X the objects mass in TNT, if my arithmetic is correct.)


Agreed; something that happens once every tens or hundreds of millions of years is not the kind of risk I can raise much concern over.

On the other hand, the cause of the problem is straightforward physics unconfounded by admixture with messy human irrationality; it's also pretty basic physics, there is little difficulty with designing the physical systems to solve the problem, and the engineering difficulties of implementing those systems are also tractable. Also, what we yak about on here does make sod all difference to what actually happens in respect of any problem, rational or not. And since "here" is the blog of an SF author, "we" are probably significantly self-selected for a disposition to find entertainment in discussing rockets and things going bang in space... :)


the difficulties involved in producing large quantities of steel

Almost all of which are "the difficulty of producing large quantities of anything", because the necessary materials are much more common for steel than most other industrial materials. Admittedly mining iron ore in Western Australia would be different after 50 metres of sea level rise, but that would largely be making new railheads and ports. Likewise there's a lot of low-grade coal that could be used to make steel if you were willing to put up with an even dirtier process than we are used to now.

One interesting tweak might be a post-crash switch to aluminium and titanium because you can relatively easily produce those electrolytically. If you have a lot of solar electricity it might make more sense to skip most of the steel steps rather than suffer through more carbon intensive industry. Direct solar thermal production of metal is something that isn't done now at scale, but it's been done at hobby/proof of concept level for a surprising (to me) number of metals.


On the other hand, the cause of the problem is straightforward physics unconfounded by admixture with messy human irrationality; it's also pretty basic physics,

Just remember, cosmic collisions are an n-body gravitational problem, and when you're dealing with comets or other icy bodies, you also have to factor in the thrust produced by outgassing. In other words, the outcomes are rather more difficult to calculate than are the outcome of rolling a 6 sided dice, which gets to random through similar physics.

Personally, I don't think that hitting comets or incoming asteroids is easy. They move as fast or faster than do bullets, and they're further away. Just on basic physics setting up something to hit them, especially if you don't have much time to make the intercept, looks like a hard engineering problem.


Of course, if you want a "real volcano" to worry about, you can start freaking out when the Indonesian government quietly begins evacuating Sumatra. As the bard once said, "Toba, or not Toba? That is the question."


Mayhem @ 143 - I sit corrected. (Even so... surely just avoiding pissing off the people with the heavy vehicles and the sniper rifles is probably a wiser course? I mean, this is Australia we're talking about - they're not as likely to be deeply and personally offended by the existence of things like income tax, welfare, and socialised medicine as the gun nuts in the USA).

Minvera Owl @ 175: If you're saying what I think you're saying, firstly, I hate getting confirmation that my most depressed misery-fuelled imaginings are accurate, and secondly, what kind of alcohol do you recommend for numbing the pain of extinction?

(I've long suspected the long game from the Owners essentially involves letting anyone who isn't part of their particular monkey-spheres starve while they hoard all the resources they can in their little enclaves. Up until now, I've just been thinking "oh, that's my depressive paranoia speaking". Sounds like it's actually the depressive clarity speaking instead. Given I'm currently unemployed, and not likely to be employed any time soon, I'm sort of looking forward to the fun point where the social security rug gets pulled out from under people like myself. If I'm really lucky, I can find out the registration number of the Minister for Social Security's car, and get him to do the killing up close and in person.)

Let's put it this way - the "150 year life-spans" some people (Joe Hockey, frex) are predicting for the near future? Those are going to be for the rich bastards. The rest of us will be lucky if we manage a third of that, and the more likely amount will be a fifth.

Publius Jay @ 197: Australia has one overwhelming and crucial resource bottleneck: water. We don't have enough of it even now, and we're certainly not likely to wind up with enough of it in the future (the country is becoming drier and drier as a result of climate change, at a time where we need more water resources rather than less). At present the solution is desalination plants, but those are incredibly vulnerable to sea level changes, from what I understand. It doesn't help that our economy is largely set up as an export economy rather than a sustenance one - our farm output is largely destined for export markets, rather than for internal ones. The end result being we're looking at a pretty nasty outcome if things continue the way they are, even with the most open minded, egalitarian government in charge (always assuming the Greens can get their act together and pull the job off... so far this doesn't seem likely).

With the current mob in charge, and their lovely tendency to buy votes with tax cuts for business and the top end of town, while gouging those on the lowest incomes, we're looking at mass homelessness and/or mass starvation within the next five years (to a maximum of within the next decade) as people on welfare stop being able to afford to pay rent and eat within the same fortnight. Given the "thinkers" (scare quotes deliberate here) at the top are largely the sort of Glibertarian neo-Gliberal economic True Believers who have never actually seen a real poor person up close, and who deeply and thoroughly believe their inherited privilege is something they actually earned through their own efforts (presumably at choosing the correct parents prior to birth), this won't concern them in the least until the point where the stench from the corpses wafts up to Parliament House and interrupts their drinkie-poos. At that point they may just stop and realise they're not going to be able to make the payments on their latest Gold Coast flat, because they can't find any tenants...


I suppose a psychologist could have a field day with who answers yes or no to Owl's lurid imagination here, and why they gave the answer they did. I have to say that statements like this, which are so contrary to my own lived experience, but are so vividly THE TRUTH for her, are a big reason why I don't take her as seriously as I might. If the same statements resonate for you that might explain why you find her so engaging.

I do understand that her descriptions are true for some subsets of people and that these myths color a lot of public discourse disproportionately to how much they fit most people's actual experience. It's on the occasions she tries to invade our interiority and demand her myths are our personal truths that I basically tell her to fuck off.


After years of off and on lurking here and a month after signing up for an account, I think I can finally manage semi-intelligent reply to a Minerva et al post.

Briefly, I think Minerva's argument #246 is that old-money, country club, long-view industrial capitalism is girding its willys to take on the scammers and parasitic capitalists of the Trumpian moment.

#2 Capital already legislates against the more exploitative parts of itself if said exploitation damages the whole network. (well, it attempts to - Madoff, Pyramid schemes, false advertising, substitution of inferior / dangerous parts/chemicals/organic substances, etc)

Once upon a time this was true, especially after major depressions- the breaking up of the robber baron trusts c.1900, and reforms to banking post '29. The problem is that there has been an accelerating process of financialisation and deregulation of the economy for the last ~50 years which, in Minerva's terms, amounts to a shift to exploitative capitalism. In theory the financial industry allocates capital efficiently to the factory or builder or inventor who can best use it, takes a modest, competition constrained cut, and goes home. In practice the financial industry accounts for ~30% of corporate profits, and more again in bonuses and dizzying executive pay. The idea that any economy where the paper shufflers get 40% + of the take is efficient is self evidently absurd.

The problem is that the cartoon view of Capital as the 19th century fat-cat factory owner looking to his own long term interests with half an eye to the prospects of his idiot son-in-law when he inherits no longer applies. The real power of Capital now is governed by the perceived, short-term interests of the managers of capital - both industrial company managers and hedge fund types. Ie., ultra short term bonus culture. And the old money establishment is deeply enmeshed in that- If they don't benefit directly, they have money in hedge funds, and bank shares, and they mostly buy into the "free market" ideological consensus. The exploitative part of the system is the system now. Shareholders have little real power over management. Most regulators around the world are both starved of resources and have language in their enabling legislation which stresses the importance of maintaining confidence in markets as much as actually ensuring sane, non fraudulent markets.

The scam is the system. Build the bubble. Cream off the profits. Socialise the lossses.

Sure, the establishment might view Trump as a vulgar embarrassment who makes them look bad. But they're primarily concerned that the relatively petty grift and potential for black swan nuttiness endanger the larger scam.

All the very best crimes are legal, and are committed by the very best people.

3 Capital is amoral - the systemic qualities are far more impressive than the ideological baggage, and the network / structure will always prevail in a tussle. (Or should: c.f. Flint, 3tn infrastructure investment required in the USA etc - why hasn't this happened?)

Pretty simple; it's your basic tragedy of the commons (businesses want to use as much public infrastructure as possible) free rider/ mis-priced externalities issue (they don't want to pay for it via taxes or, worse, usage charges), coupled to the utterly broken, no-new-taxes Grover Norquist cowed nature of political economy in the US. The GOP won't allow infrastructure spending if the Dems can claim any credit. Now that they have control of congress, senate, White House and most states, they'll embark on an orgy of debt fuelled, mammothly corrupt spending.

#6 Capital is going to purge itself. TrumpLand is all about exploitative Capital representatives coming forward - the knife is poised/poisoned already. [. . .]





Now look through that mirror and see what Global Capital is going to do to each other.

I have no clue how the next crash will play out. And I'm sure there'll be plenty of finger pointing. But somehow I doubt that any of the Trump gang operating at sub-Madoff levels of fraud have anything to fear from the establishment. They all want to build the next Bubble. . .

The only threat to that comes not from an in house purge, but either from a crash so catastrophic that the whole system collapses, or reform from the left.


Re: asteroid impact, it doesn't make for a good movie but simply slamming craft into it as hard as we can is an option.

You could spend lots of time and fuel on a craft which carefully docks with the asteroid and tries to divert it with rockets tied to the asteroid or similar.... or you could spend all that fuel building up as much momentum as possible and just slam your craft into the middle of it.

A comet is billions of tons but when you're talking about avoiding it hitting a pale blue dot many light minutes away a tiny diversion can sometimes be all you really need and you don't gain that much more from having the rockets physically tied to the asteroid.


You'll lose from the docking if anything: You waste the fuel burnt during the maneuvres and you need to give the rocket casings momentum instead of using their momentum to change the target's course.


it's more about how every cyclone or tropical storm is powered up by a thermal gradient, and the heat source — the surface — is going to be 10-30% hotter than it was a couple of centuries earlier.

Interestingly enough, so far it appears, at least for the US Atlantic/Gulf coasts, that as the general ocean warms, the coastal areas cool down enough to form a buffer zone that weakens tropical weather, actual paper here (paywall).

This somewhat explains 2005, which was incredibly active and very good at spawning Category 5 hurricanes, with four of them, Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma, all of which made continental landfall as a Cat 3 or weaker. Wilma did clip the Yucatan as as Category 4, but was a Category 2 when it finally hit Florida.


Have you tried it?
The noisome corner-dwellers have reproduced their former dwelling places wholesale within mainstream social media. Everyone doesn't jump on them because 1) if they're not in your social graph you don't see it unless you go look for it, 2) there's a lot of them, and Twitter whack-a-Holocaust-denial takes energy, 3) they're members of chan culture; attention = victory, 4) they're members of chan culture; arguing in bad faith is how they roll.

Also, telling them they're Nazis is pointless; they know and proudly embrace the fact.


(Martin McGuinness resigns as NI deputy first minister)

Nobody got that one in the predictions! Apparently under the power-sharing agreement this could trigger an election in ireland.

One though though -- what are the odds (and if one even exists) of a UKIP-style party in ireland?




TO do so, you require a laser aperture approximately the size of the solar system.

James Nicoll to the white courtesy phone, please...
Nahhhh, there's something a lot more buildable: mine the L-x asteroids, put a constructed line just inside lunar orbit. Then power them.

Ok, ok, Dr. Thorndyke, I know you planned on using the asteroid belt, but we're defending against incoming comets and asteroids, not incoming Boskonian fleets or mobile planets....

Smith. Doc Smith....

(For those that haven't read the Lensmen series, you're making a giant vacuum tube, and focussing the width of the "tube" - in this case, sublunar orbit *all* the sunlight passing through.


Re Minvers's slashfic... in '96, when my late wife and son (and the dogs) were driving from Chicago to Annaheim for Worldcon, by way of the Great Northwet, we were going through Mondana? One of the Dakotas? and saw a sign, in the literal middle of nowhere, that read cappuccino, 20 mi, and some hotel.

From that, we came up with the plot of a Mel Brooks movie, where our Hero inherits his uncle's fortune, but only if he and his wife can drive cross-country before some deadline. Going through the West, the bad guy, who inherits if they fail, has his minions set up signs reading "cappuccino" with an arrow and a distance... and the, a few miles down the road, in another direction, and pointing to roads that go nowhere....

We never found the place the original sign pointed to, btw, but we did find a resort hotel, and get out cappuccino, to keep on driving.


Except we already do intercept other bodies in the solar system, including landing on comets. The n-body problem is intractable in the general case, but it is very rare to actually be dealing with a true general case or to be requiring a true general solution; instead we make use of simplifying assumptions and approximations like "A is much more massive than B, so we can neglect the influence of B on A" and "we don't need to predict the orbit indefinitely, just for the next n months", etc. and this gets us close enough that only minor corrections using kitten-power thrusters are needed. (Also, bullets are pretty slow compared to yer average space thing...)

We already have the knowledge and techniques to perform the interception; the difficulty is the amount of effort required to actually put a system together. There are at least two answers to that. One is that if we decide to put the system together just in case, the chances of having to actually use it any time soon are still very low, so it doesn't matter if we take a conveniently long time over doing it and spread the effort out. The other is that if we do identify an immediate threat that does require a quick response, the "we're all going to die" aspect puts us on essentially a wartime footing but without the complications of an intelligent enemy trying to anticipate what we do; we can allocate massive resources and use them to achieve a remarkable result in a remarkably short time - like the Manhattan project, but without the need for secrecy, without the lack of understanding of some of the basic principles, and with a much greater pool of people who are already knowledgeable and experienced in the subject to draw on.


Don't you mean plasma and suchlike? How can you focus sunlight using a vacuum tube?



You're underestimating the violence of the new weather patterns we're going to get.

As Charlie says. My late ex, an actual rocket scientist, used to say it's not a thermostat, it's putting more and more energy into a heat engine.



The fuzzy edges of the social graph do bring in the occasional horror without me looking for it. To be sure, if I respond it's probably water off a duck's back. On the other hand, if enough people pour water on the duck it can still be drowned...



No, no. What you want is a place with stable geology, a coastline consisting of cliffs, and navigable water. And either a solid solar resource or reactors.
Right. No problem, I just drive up into the Appalachians, 300M-yr old Pennsylvanian granite, one of the stablest places on the planet. As the water rises, still more navigable rivers.... Oh, and on there might still be coal, oil, and iron ore to find, as well as recycling.

Or I could go back to Philly, anywhere but downtown or South Philly, and I'm well above the sea level rise, with infrastructure, and it could go back to being a manufacturing and shipping center.


So, it appears that the endemic corruption has surfaced once again.

Pre/before the "troubles" both the N & S of Ireland were amazingly financially bent in political terms.
One of the main causes, in fact of the breakdown in 1970 (ish) - but it was never spoken of.


The original explanation starts with "He used the whole damn solar system as a vacuum tube!", followed by a bit of back-and-forth along the lines of "but hang on, there's so-and-so..." - "hang on yourself, don't forget the blah..." - handwave, handwave - and so on until we get to "the effect was to focus on the Boskonian fleet almost the entire energy output of the sun". It boils down to: when you switch it on, the sun appears to go out, the enemy spaceships vaporise and the enemy planets start to melt. Lensman technology for offence, defence and propulsion seems to resemble vacuum tubes as we know them closely enough to use a lot of the same terminology, but it obviously isn't controlling electrons like our vacuum tubes do; whatever it's doing works FTL, for one thing. "Fourth-order corpuscles" come into it, whatever they may be.


Re: '...which are absorbed by the surrounding atmosphere and so create the fireball and blast.'

Thanks for your reply/explanation.

However, how well would this actually work in outer space which has no atmosphere just a few atoms of hydrogen every cubic foot or so?

As mentioned in other posts, I'm not a scientist, undoubtedly forgotten 95% of whatever science I ever learned, while the remaining 5% might as well have been forgotten because it has probably been rewritten/revised. That said, how fast will heat dissipate (even a staggering 1,000,000 degrees Kelvin from a thermonuke) from a smallish localized blast area if it is completely surrounded by an enormous space (the universe) which itself is at a very consistent temp of 2.7 degrees Kelvin? I forget how heat exchange works, but do believe that in general heat is likelier to get lost (dissipate) than to accrue/stay localized, i.e.,always move toward lowest energy state, etc.

A question: Does heat dissipation vary by type of energy or energy propagation, i.e., radiant vs.conduction vs. convection?


Yes, it's scientific nonsense, I was surprised at the way you suggested it in real life.

SFreader- heat loss by radiation in space isn't that efficient, convection and conduction are pretty good but you don't get them when there isn't matter to do them. But if you explode a bomb inside a comet there will be.
The physics of heat radiation is complex, and depends on factors like the substance and mainly the heat energy within it. (I am not a physicist, although I have experience of industrial furnaces and their insulation)


OKay, not you. I have a sinus headache.


Good point ... maybe if said laser was put up jointly via the UN?


As per your link/NASA page: 'There are currently 1758 known PHAs.' (Potentially Hazardous Asteroids)

Has anyone looked at PHAs that might affect our solar neighbors for, you know, a bad case of cosmic billiards?

Saw in some doc that the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is made up of two very distinct materials which in fact form two distinct rings, one carbon/metallic and the other ice. Then there are the two other highly localized/aggregated asteroid clusters near this, known as the Trojans and the Greeks. Although the solar formation story is that this asteroid belt is probably some unformed planet, its composition and distribution makes me wonder.


Exactly. We're pouring lots of energy into a complex system, or as Donald Trump said, "We're going to make Antarctica great again!"



Now I can try to find some sources to explain this 'heat loss by radiation in space isn't that efficient' in terms I can better understand/more simply.

Also wondered whether EM pulse would work if the asteroid was discovered to be appropriately metallic ... am aware that some of a nuke's destructiveness is that it emits EM bursts.


We can hit comets, when we have good orbital data and two decades to set up the voyage from concept to intercept. It's not just about building the spacecraft, it's about matching velocity and position.

If I told you that a dinosaur killer was coming in, say, six months at 20 km/sec, even if you had a rocket at the ready, it would be hard to match velocities with that thing. That's the hard engineering problem. Personally, were we in that situation, I'd advise building a bunch of really big ground-based lasers, simply because
a) they could be really big.
b) water's a better conductor of heat than vacuum, so you could run more energy through them
c) you could keep tinkering with them and improving them, which is hard to do with a fast-moving, small spacecraft.

Of course, they'd be a military headache of the first order thereafter, because anything that could force a brute-force deflection of a multi-kilometer wide asteroid probably would eat incoming nuclear missiles and surveillance satellites for a leisurely second breakfast. Then again, living to have those kinds of fears is the privilege of having those kinds of weapons available to stop an extinction event. Anyway, what do we call those things? ("It's the 44 m Automag. It shoots through continents.")


. At present the solution is desalination plants, but those are incredibly vulnerable to sea level changes

I don't buy that.

Taking numbers from wikipedia the energy cost of various desalination technologies varies between 25 and 3 kwh/m^3, which works out at 90000-10800 j/l.

Water weighs around 1kg/l, so it takes about 10J to lift 1l of water 1m. Assuming horribly inefficient pumps and pipework I will be generous and call it 20.

So adding a pipe and 100m height gain adds less than 20% to the energy cost of a reverse osmosis plant or 2.2% to an insanely inefficient distilation plant.

The technology required to secure desalination plants against sea level rise is already with us and is called "a hill".


A milestone.

Love it or hate it or the company it DID change the world.

The iPhone just turned 10 years old.


Or just build desalination plants which float, then they can be towed to where they are needed as the climate changes. (We already to that to a limited extent with aircraft carriers, which are capable of desalinating well beyond their own needs, and thus are frequently used for disaster relief.)


The real trick is to find a place where you can get the fresh water to shore in vast quantities and also have enough ocean currents nearby that you aren't making your inputs too salty to use.


"However, how well would this actually work in outer space which has no atmosphere just a few atoms of hydrogen every cubic foot or so?"

It doesn't, basically. Which is where the techniques I went on to mention come in: instead of allowing the bomb's energy to radiate symmetrically in all directions, you concentrate it on the target, and create blast by heating and vaporising not the nonexistent atmosphere, but the surface layers of the target itself. The concentration is achieved by means of big chunks of dense metal (eg. depleted uranium, tungsten, lead) inside the bomb itself, and does not depend on atmosphere.


And just in time, we see a comic from SMBC that addresses that issue! (I wonder if Zack reads your blog?)


I'm not really disagreeing with any of that, but the point is it's a difference only in degree, not in kind, from what we already do. We know what to do and how to do it, it's just a question of the necessary buttock/cogwheel interaction. This makes it a problem which is totally different from, and much easier than, things like persuading humans not to create their own extinction event without any need for cosmic impacts simply by sawing off the branch they're sitting on.


Or to explain further, you heat a bunch of matter on an asteroid very hot, it gets very vigorous and vaporises and therefore gives the asteroid a little push by blowing off the side of it.


Shouldn't be too hard... tides. Compared to the amount of water that slooshes through somewhere like Hurst Narrows every tide, the outflow from the desalination plant is just a trickle; it's like widdling in the river. And you could sink a turbine to power it, for the complete package.

Does also raise the question of what do the Israelis do, since they seem to be able to make it work without there being any currents or tides in their bit of sea.


A pipe that goes a mile out and a pipe that goes 5 miles out would probably do it. If there really are no currents then dispersing the outflow a bit to encourage it to mix might be worthwhile.


Pre/before the "troubles" both the N & S of Ireland were amazingly financially bent in political terms. One of the main causes, in fact of the breakdown in 1970 (ish) - but it was never spoken of.

Hardly. It's been constantly spoken of - and was the reason that Stormont was disbanded, and direct rule imposed from Westminster.

I mean, when 30-40% of the population is RC, and in fifty years Nationalist parties manage to pass exactly one piece of legislation (the Wild Birds Protection Act) and exactly one Catholic was ever appointed as a Government Minister (in 1971), then it isn't either subtle or unmentioned. Insistence on the "Protestant Ascendancy", open membership by political leaders of the Orange Order (and of the Black Preceptory) and repeated failures to come to any accommodation with a huge part of the population, who were treated as second-class citizens...

Certainly, the precursors to the Troubles were made perfectly clear to those soldiers deploying to Northern Ireland, from 1969 onwards... it would be difficult to avoid knowing exactly what NICRA were campaigning for.


It's on the occasions she tries to invade our interiority and demand her myths are our personal truths that I basically tell her to fuck off.

Whelp, you missed the entire point of it all.

Oh well.

If you want the view from the Other side, there's a PR push (funded by? Cui Bono?) recently to "re-imagine" Empathy as something it's explicitly not:

The most empathetic countries in the world have just been ranked Science Alert, 17th Oct 2016

Looking for Empathy? Avoid Alabama Pacific Standard, 7th Jan 2016

Differences in Empathic Concern and Perspective Taking Across 63 Countries IACCP, Oct 14th 2016

Geographic variation in empathy: A state-level analysis Journal of Research in Personality, 27th Dec 2016.

The papers are rubbish, but the conclusions are telling:

Here’s the top 10:

Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
United States
Costa Rica

If you've not spotted it yet, at least six of those fall under Autocratic regimes.

They're re-branding "empathy" to be something it's not.

And if you really think that although we can empathize with Chans and Monsters that that is our interiority, you need a severe lesson in Meta-Thought.


Filed under: "Limited, Thought Cat-Fucking was the point".


Oh, and they're all by the same three people.

Someone dumped some cash, probably a PR firm.


But it's a Play, and if they can redefine Empathy to mean "Elite Consensus and fuck the poors / slaves / non-Nationals" then you're Fucked Totally.


Note ~ BBC has a new flagship series out with Tom Hardy in it and a load of talent. Let's just say it's rather pertinent.

lTaboo BBC, Iplayer link, 7th Jan 2016.


"Whispers from the Void" really was our Name, and it was your lot invading our interiority, not vice-versa. Don't try and pull revisionism, it's not cool.

If we wanted to invade, it'd have been somewhat different.


[Errata: Pacific Standard link is 7th Jan 2017, not 16, so it's a current paid PR push]

The UK had some lovely Rainbow Halos around the Moon tonight: they're quite rare (Why a halo around the sun or moon?) Earthsky Blog, Nov 2014).

We'll let you work out the 22nd Degree joke.

But they are beautiful.


Almost, but you're missing the point.

Worker Productivity in Asian Factories is measured to the 0.001 third decimal place in terms of Time/Production. And yet, America is the Land of the Slothful and Fat. 60-70% at last count, no?

It's a Final Call for those who still have some iota of Power in the USA and still believe in that entire small cadence of decency to fucking stand up and fight. You know, the Quakers, the Cadburys and so forth. Not the Walton clan who degenerated into petty alcoholism and doing fuck all with the billions.

If there's none left, then so be it.


Otherwise it's just a blood-bath.

I stood on a bridge, with quiet snow falling, and watched them pass into our sight from the trees. 'Barbarians', those we told stories about on our way here. All I could think about was how the snow covered everything: the bridge, our hair, the sound of our boots and vision and how their furs and beards camouflaged them against the brown hues of the forest. We stood and our breath made little puffs, as did our horses: theirs did not. We'd been told this when we left: they suckle from snow-wolves at birth so their breath never gives them away. Mist from the river, snow above - pilums and slings were useless. So, aged sixteen, I held my man's horse steady and waited for it.

Germany: how we longed for the Sun. It was a single bridge and I saw the snow fall slowly as they started to cross





Welcome to the World You Made Happen.


I think its called 'casaba howitzer'.
its effectively a nuclear claymore mine.. but instead of ballbearings to zip and perforate , it uses metal vapour


They do seem to conflate "emotional empathy" and "empathic concern" and sometimes just use "emotion".
Third time I've linked this survey (just noticed is access controlled so long quotes below), Neural, cognitive, and evolutionary foundations of human altruism (Marsh 2016), author succinctly states her opinion of the taxonomy:
Empathic concern is typically defined as the other-oriented, tender state experienced in response to another individual’s distress that promotes altruistic behaviors aimed at relieving the distress.
It is important to distinguish empathic concern from other phenomena also commonly described as ‘empathy,’ such as Theory of Mind, which is sometimes called cognitive empathy, and empathic accuracy, which is sometimes called emotional empathy.
Cognitive empathy is the identification of others’ high-level cognitive states, including their focus of attention, intentions, and beliefs
On the other hand, emotional empathy, which is the low-level representation or identification of another’s emotional state, can be linked to altruism.
So is there a general consensus on these terms that the authors of the nation and state studies are ignoring?

OGH's twitter account linked the Low's Pitcher-Plant, so I was compelled to find documentation.
Tree shrew lavatories: a novel nitrogen sequestration strategy in a tropical pitcher plant
I am now obsessively wondering how this mutualism could have evolved.
(Not a ref to the tachypsychia discussion.)


Sorry - my omission & taking too much for granted.
The Prods in the N knew, of course, but they didn't like others to know, so they never spoke of it, same as no-one really mentioned it in the S, until Haughey went too far, & even then he got away with it.
Until it all blew up in 1970, people in England didn't usually know, though....


I think the worst thing about that list is that I can no longer trust the Danish.


Saw in some doc that the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is made up of two very distinct materials which in fact form two distinct rings, one carbon/metallic and the other ice. Then there are the two other highly localized/aggregated asteroid clusters near this, known as the Trojans and the Greeks. Although the solar formation story is that this asteroid belt is probably some unformed planet, its composition and distribution makes me wonder.

No you didn't: the main asteroid belt does not contain any icy bodies (it's below the solar system snow line at around 5 AU). Probably you a misremembering something that compared the main belt asteroids with the trans-Neptunian objects, which are indeed icy.

The main belt asteroids do indeed come in a variety of types, and these do tend to occur in different parts of the belt, but there's a lot of overlap. The most common type (C for "carbonaceous") has a composition very similar to the Sun minus most of the gaseous elements like H and He, and is believed to be left over, more or less unaltered, from the Sun's original circumstellar dusty disc; the other types have different compositions, and have been modified and/or originate from different regions of the disc.

There are "gaps" in the distribution of main belt asteroids. These are the Kirkwood gaps, and they are well understood (they occur at orbital resonances with Jupiter, and are caused by Jupiter's gravitational perturbations). They also aren't actually visible in real life: asteroids tend to have quite eccentric orbits, so at any given time many asteroids whose orbital semi-major axes avoid the Kirkwood gaps will nevertheless be at that distance from the Sun, albeit temporarily.

The prominent concentrations in the plots linked above are "asteroid families", probably arising from the fragmentation of a larger body after a collision. If some of these larger bodies were large enough to have differentiated chemical composition, that might explain some of the very metal-rich asteroids.

The Greek and Trojan groups you mention are 60° in front of and behind Jupiter in its orbit, at the L4 and L5 Lagrangian points of Jupiter's orbit. Unlike the L1, L2 and L3 points, L4 and L5 are stable equilibria, so they tend to collect stuff. Traditionally, asteroids at Jupiter's L4 and L5 points are named after characters in the Iliad (Greeks at L4, and Trojans at L5, though there are a couple of people in the wrong group, presumably on spying missions in the enemy camp [actually, named before the convention was adopted]), and the L4 and L5 points have come to be known as the Trojan points from this.

I think your knowledge of the evolution of the solar system is a bit out of date—things have got a lot more exciting in the past few years. See the Nice model (pronounced "neese"—the French city, not the common adjective) and the Grand Tack. It's clear from the properties of extrasolar planetary systems that giant planets can alter their orbits very substantially during the formation of the system, owing to the presence of drag forces from the circumstellar disc.

Oh, while I'm at it: Troutwaxer at 112, making the comet hit Antarctica, unless it was coming in that way anyway (it might be: comets aren't great respecters of the ecliptic) is not in the category of "minor tinkering": it's an orbital plane change. Plane changes are hard: if you can give the comet enough Δv to do a plane change, you can certainly give it enough to do an in-plane orbital change that would make it miss the Earth entirely, which strikes me as a more useful approach.


"Ireland" is usually the Republic of Ireland; McGuinness' resignation will cause some heartburn in the Department of Foreign Affairs, but no elections will result. The EU is popular down here; I see little hope for an "Irish UKIP." (The concept of Irish EU exit is most popular among Brexiteers; I'm not sure whether the enthusiasm is so they won't have to untangle the Common Travel Area/Good Friday Agreement/Free Movement mess, or because it'd make their societal '50s cosplay more accurate.)

Because of the duality of devolved NI government, as long as McGuinness' resignation is backed by his party it essentially forces Arlene Foster's resignation - it's hard to see how the resignation of both leaders of the executive will not cause elections. I defer to D.J.P. O'Kane if they feel to pitch in, but odds of a new Northern Irish UKIP seem slim; the DUP seems to have that vote solidly locked down.


This reminds me of a speech made by Tommy Douglas, one of the better Prime Ministers Canada never had. In it, he described the history of Mouseland, a country where mice voted for one of two parties: the Black Cat party and the White Cat party. Occasionally, the mice would vote in a coalition of White and Black Cats. Sometimes they voted in the Spotted Cat Party (who sounded like mice but had the appetites of cats).

"You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.

"Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, 'Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?' 'Oh,' they said, 'he's a Bolshevik. Lock him up!' So they put him in jail.

Douglas first made this speech in 1944. Seventy-three years later, Canada is still Mouseland. I think that our current government is made up of the White Cat Party.


Now this made me laugh so hard...
... the Russian foreign ministry tries to work out how to save the President's Bahamian bank accounts and keep the lights on over winter...

Seriously? Why would Putin need to stash his cash anywhere? Why would he need cash at all, for that matter? Now, those oligarchs from the inner circle... But then when one of those takes a loss abroad (say, his Italian assets are frozen) they just get a compensation in the form of something akin to the tax farming of old. And they prefer Cyprus (and British Virgin Islands) for their tax-dodging antics anyway – must be a proud tradition of theirs, I guess. So basically... replace the President with some oligarchs from his inner circle and it works.

As for the lights part... it's quite possible for a Cyprus-registered company to own the central heating network in a big city while answering only to the (anonymous) shareholders of said company. So should something happen to their accounts (like freezing due to some sanctions) everybody in the city would be bled dry because they'd have to "recoup their losses". The government would either look away (best-case scenario) or actively aid in the extortion (realistic scenario). Aw bollocks... now I'm depressed. Who needs Cthulhu when you have humans?..


UKIP NI? Sadly such a beast does indeed exist. But the base they appeal to is more or less a subset of the electorate that are typical DUP voters, so there is little chance of them being an influential voice in NI politics.


Chronist, you have a touching faith in Putin's probity as a politician:

Vladimir Putin net worth come in the form of shareholding in some of Russia’s major companies. It is estimated that he owns about 4.5% stake in Gazprom worth $13 billion , 37% in Surgutneftegaz valued at approximately $20 billion and 50% in the oil-trading company Gunvor. By a very conservative estimate it all adds up to a staggering 40 billion USD in total net worth making him the richest man in Russia by some distance.

Source: Somewhat questionable, but those shareholdings in listed companies are declared. He's probably got his fingers in other pies, too.



You know, they've found mid-latitude ice on Mars (, and according to my contact in the Dawn mission, Ceres looks like the remnants of a water world with some dust on top (e.g.

Does the idea of the snow line have any relevance any more?


The snow line is a lot further out now than it was when the asteroids were forming. Ceres was on the cold side of the line when it formed but is now on the hot side.


Susan wrote:
... It's clear from the properties of extrasolar planetary systems that giant planets can alter their orbits very substantially during the formation of the system, owing to the presence of drag forces from the circumstellar disc...."

No, no, please... be careful how you phrase things, or someone will Velikovsky in here..., and then the not-so-bright-barts will decide it's NEWS!!!



Well... hell. I just realized a realistic answer to incoming asteroids/comets. Design and build a nuclear-powered mass driver, one that can be delivered with one (big) launch vehicle (or you can send numbers of them). Rendezvous, extend your upward rods, and it starts digging its way into the body, shooting up, with some angular control.

Ok, I've got to talk to friends who might actually be able to get enough attention to pull this off.



Oh, but I was just objecting to the idea of hidden accounts, the cash, if you will. You see, I spent a decade and a half in China and have met quite a few interesting people. And that experience made me believe that sometimes the politicians, government employees and the like really do not need cash. They just get everything they need by other means ("gifts", favours or being the biggest frog in their pond). So... stuffing cash under mattress or in Panama account? I don't think so. Having their fingers in a lot of pies? Why, definitely yes. Like we say in Russia, they don't take money, they ask for greyhound puppies instead.

You see, hiding your money somewhere only makes sense if you plan for not being in power some day (which definitely is not the case here – Russian laws are funny in this aspect as the president can't be elected for more than two consecutive terms, and they never even tried to disguise the reason behind this change that was introduced in 2012). After all, the Tsar never needed any offshore accounts and our current political system is a strange rebirth of that from 17th century (with some added "democratic" fluff – which is anything but). Complete with belief in kind and just ruler who just doesn't know about the problems plaguing the country (when the people found out in 1917 that the Tsar actually just didn't care... well, look how it worked out for him). But everybody so desperately wants to pretend that they can continue with all that "business as usual" bollocks that they tend to ignore everything that says it's not possible anymore. So... the many-angled ones may be faced with critical shortage of brains to occupy, after all. Looks like we've found the way to prevent CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN and are free to go extinct due to our own stupidity. Hooray... I guess?..


making the comet hit Antarctica [...] is not in the category of "minor tinkering": it's an orbital plane change. Plane changes are hard: if you can give the comet enough Δv to do a plane change, you can certainly give it enough to do an in-plane orbital change that would make it miss the Earth entirely

Imagine a comet in the ecliptic, which is going to strike the equator.

We decide to push it south for whatever reason, while it's very far away. We manage to move it to the point where the comet strikes Antarctica at about 23 degrees over the horizon, with Earth's axis tilted away from the impact.

That orbital plane change is really, really tiny from that distance: is it really significantly more Δv than pushing the comet's primary impact point East or West by several thousand km?


I just realized a realistic answer to incoming asteroids/comets [...] Rendezvous,

The big problem with all these schemes to land on the comet and blow them up, push them, etc. is that landing on the comet is extremely difficult compared to just running into it at orbital velocity.

For comparison, Rosetta only managed to rendezvous with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by using multiple gravity assists over 10 years. And 67P is a short period comet: a long period comet will be moving at much higher velocity and hence that much harder (not to mention its orbital plane may be difficult).

We need to get to the comet very quickly to be able to change its orbit usefully: the earlier, the better. The closer it gets to Earth, the amount of Δv needed to miss us gets rapidly larger. But for a rendezvous with an object that's already on the other side of the sun, you're looking at needing a Δv for your rocket that's probably on the order of Earth's orbital velocity.

We don't have any rockets like that. If we did, well... why bother with the mass driver? Just land your stupendous fusion torch on the Comet and push.

An intercept, where you just need to be in the same place as the Comet at the same time, is much, much easier. Any orbital path that intersects with the comet at the right time will do, and you don't need to spend any energy matching velocities.


//Chronist, you have a touching faith in Putin's probity as a politician:
//Vladimir Putin net worth come in the form of shareholding in some of Russia’s major companies.
// It is estimated that he owns about 4.5% stake in Gazprom worth $13 billion , 37% in Surgutneftegaz
//valued at approximately $20 billion and 50% in the oil-trading company Gunvor. By a very
//conservative estimate it all adds up to a staggering 40 billion USD in total net worth making
//him the richest man in Russia by some distance.
//Source: Somewhat questionable, but those shareholdings in listed companies are
//declared. He's probably got his fingers in other pies, too.

Okey. I am an opponent to Putin's regime due to my professional activities, but this is below the average thinking of OGH.

There are several issues here. One goes with the question: "Do you seriously expect that Putin can take his money when leaving the country?". If the answer you are proposing is "yes" regarding the ownership in e.g. Gazprom, they you are living in a completely different universe than I am.

I assume that OGH has been reading his Pratchett. Most of the listed companies Putin allegedly owns are not that liquid outside Russia. Hence Putin is apparently not thinking in the normal kleptocracy terms. His owning (which may not be that great after all) are mainly in Russia. Outside Russia his wealth would be completely in the mercy of his earlier enemies, i.e. the western banking system and western regimes. And in the mercy in the next Russian regime.

Please, be at least consistent. If someone describes Mr. Putin's regime as an enemy of the Western Liberal Democracies (which is true, IMHO), then I would like to have those claims at least somewhat rational.

I do agree that Mr. Putin has apparently got a significant property. He very likely is, by all means, very rich. But, at least to me, it seems to be the case that his wealth is almost nothing outside Russia.

I actually assume that Putin & co assumes that the next regime will be a nationalistic one and Putin with his inner circle can keep the money because the next regime is a continuation of their ideas.

This is actually quite likely. Especially because Russian "liberals" would be somewhere amongst the neo-fascits in most European countries.

In addition to that, I recommend you to check out the common themes in the writings of the main ideologists of Putin's regime and the chief advisor of Mr. Trump. I really, really recommend that reading. You will be surprised.

And the continuation of the nationalistic themes in Russia is the positive scenario.


Apologies I haven't been able to respond to jaju's comment already. I've been busy. I'll respond to it when I get a bit more time.

In the meantime,

I don't know how many people know this, but a lot of the small towns of the type which overwhelmingly voted for Trump survive solely because of prisons. In other words, the prison is the only source of employment.


No problem. We may be looking at different issues than getting different conclusions for that reason.

I have been evaluating the Russian economy for some time. In my eyes the Russian economy is very flawed, but they have been surprisingly flexible. Hence in impact of sanctions have been less than expected.


It's a lot clearer when you add the modifier "Empathy within homogeneous ethnic group" to see why the Danes are there. The only real surprise is that they didn't sling Singapore into the mix.

Again, at least six hit that 'hidden between the white spaces' descriptor. 6/10 is a nice number: enough to be convincing, not enough to be too obvious - again, suspicious, and lends to the *nose sniff* flag that there's an ulterior pre-written conclusion being driven for.

Not done the due diligence on what's the actual goals (suspect: not-so-hidden Bannon style "positive characteristics as societal goal = autocratic / ethnically non-diverse") or who is actually behind it, but really: it'd be laughably transparent and obvious if it wasn't being enacted in reality.


Any psychology / sociology study of this type that (unerringly) labels Eastern Europe as the most misanthropic place on the planet usually are rubbish. c.f. Duchenne smile or Why Russians Don’t Smile? Understanding Russia, 2015 ~ good article, no idea if it's soft power or genuine, but it's written as objective with space to criticize the culture.


There are already some similar road race movies--the CANNONBALL movies for instance. Though my favorite in the genre is called RAT RACE. Just be careful when you go into the Barbie museum...and oh wait...YOU SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT A SQUIRREL.

(there were some problems, mind you, anyone who runs the short bus in the US is normally aware of exactly who should be on it. But it's still hilarious, especially the Lucy Bus).


I think you are using US internal slang there, that is meaningless to me.
Please explain: Short bus / Lucy bus & "You should have bought a squirrel"
This is nothing to do with "Roadrunner" & Wiley E Cyote, either, is it?


References to "Rat Race" which was, I will admit, quite a funny film. Go on, it has John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson, and vengeful female helicopter pilots.

John Cleese in "Silverado", though... :)

As for the Cannonball Run, that was rather funny too (if a teensy bit racial stereotyping of the Japanese):
"Thee first'a rule of Italian driving (rips off rear view mirror). What's'a behind'a me, doesn't'a matter..."


You're thinking of The Gumball Rally ( Michael Sarrazin, Raul Julia ) vs. Cannonball Run ( Burt Reynolds, et al).

Very similar, but Gumball Rally was actually out first (by 5 years).


Thanks, Susan - appreciate the info and links!

Will take me some time to read through this material and (hopefully) absorb/understand.


Re: 'Why would he need cash at all, for that matter?'

To pay for all the art he's going to need to decorate his billion-dollar palace. After all, people would notice if he looted the Hermitage ... its artwork collection has been very well documented.'s_Palace


Since no-one has linked it yet:

An asteroid between 16 and 34 meters in diameter (36 and 112 feet) flew by the Earth this morning, about twice as close to our home planet as the moon. The asteroid, named 2017 AG13, was only discovered on Saturday, January 7, by the Catalina Sky Survey, according to space and weather publication The Watchers. It made it's closest approach at about 7:50 a.m. EST, according to JPL data.

An Asteroid Just Barely Missed Earth, Flying Closer Than the Moon Popular Mechanics, 9th Jan 2017

Everyone here is assuming said asteroid would actually be spotted in enough time for there to be plans to change history...


@Host, since he's on the look-out for a Drone Strike hitting Scotland and triggering the Trump's wrath (KhaaaanYT: Star Trek, 1:17), it would appear that plans are already afoot:

But people have taken a breather from these issues to ponder why Vice President Joe Biden was heard muttering ‘God Save The Queen’, in the moments after he certified the election results.

It was part of the necessary admin before President Elect Trump takes power on January 20, a joint-session of Congress where votes from the Electoral College votes were counted and the winner declared.

Why did Joe Biden whisper ‘God Save The Queen’ after certifying the US election result? Metro, 8th Jan 2017. Video is embedded in article, and it's 100% genuine.

As the USA faces Nero, Biden thinks of HRM. Odd one, that.


After the first bout of American politics, we have hit the Romantic Fiction stage:

Barrack: He really wanted it to be about the people, not about him. So his instructions to me — by the way, which is the worst job in America; he gave the best job in America to all the bright people, he gave the party to me —was to figure out how to relate 200 years of history … and couple hundred billion dollars in investments in a moment where we have to build bridges. He knows what his constituency is and he knows you need to reach out to constituencies who have questions, who have doubts. His instruction to me was the campaign is over, I am now president for all the people. I want you to build a bridge and tie them back in. I want to heal the wounds and I want to get back to work on Saturday morning.

Trump’s Inauguration Will Have "Soft Sensuality," "Poetic Cadence" Buzzfeed

(For UK viewers: Barrack is a millionaire who gave a rather stilted & hokey pro-Trump story during the election season. His reward? Organizing the day of inauguration.)

But... don't think that JFK isn't on their minds:

Barrack also told reporters that the Trumps and the Obamas would meet for coffee the morning of the inauguration, and that the families will ride together to the Capitol.

Talk about Insurance Premiums.


Follow-up SF-nal question:

What are your thoughts re: using asteroids as a cheap means of traveling through the solar system or as a way-station to the stars?


And, anyhow, some positive news, or why the future is organic, not silicon:

Herein we present a chimeric recombinant spider silk protein (spidroin) whose aqueous solubility equals that of native spider silk dope and a spinning device that is based solely on aqueous buffers, shear forces and lowered pH. The process recapitulates the complex molecular mechanisms that dictate native spider silk spinning and is highly efficient; spidroin from one liter of bacterial shake-flask culture is enough to spin a kilometer of the hitherto toughest as-spun artificial spider silk fiber.

Biomimetic spinning of artificial spider silk from a chimeric minispidroin Nature, 9th Jan 2017

It's too new to get a legal PDF (although, poke authors = get a free copy), so something better:

Mechanisms of Native and Artificial Spinning of Spider Silk Marlene Andersson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, disertation, Uppsala University, 2016. PDF - Warning: LONG, 73 pages.


If they can make it industrial, it'll have more impact than smuggling caterpillars out of China.



In fact.


That's probably a Black Swan.

Forget automation, the entire global textile market (potentially) just got changed. From Combat gear (inc. Dragon Scale bullet-proof stuff) through sports and environment right down to the supply chains that require sweat-shops to convert vast acreage to cotton into $5 T-shirts from Walmart.

one liter of bacterial shake-flask culture is enough to spin a kilometer

If true, well.

The Stock Market is going to reflect that one once the Finance Boys eventually realize what it really means.


Oh, Arachne: all the Old Ones return, just in modern form. Athena, my Love, what a way to make amends.



Calling that as the split-shift.

On the one hand we have the dinosaurs (both culturally, temporally and geologically): On the Other the New Biological Century. Guess which our money is on?

"Immanentize the Eschaton"


Gotta Have FaithYT: Music: 3:09. RIP, we thought you'd make it to see rebirth.


Time to re-watch "The Man in the White Suit"


You still have to factor the costs and supply chains for inputs to that flask. As with any solar-powered production, cotton requires a lot of acreage, plus a fair amount of water and fertilizer. It's not clear to me that the flask culture of something that produces a kilometer of fiber that's X microns across is cheaper than the equivalent numbers of cotton plants producing a kilometer of cellulose fibers.

Or another comparison, a silkworm spinning 600-900 meters of silk in 3-4 days for its cocoon. In flask terms, that's 5,500 silkworms eating about 167 kg of mulberry leaves to produce a kilogram of silk.

I agree: hopefully spider silk from bacteria is cheaper than cotton or silkworm silk. But I'll wait until the dust settles to say it definitely is.


Everyone here is assuming said asteroid would actually be spotted in enough time for there to be plans to change history...
Not I, and probably not others like Susan. Saw that one appear in the handy chart at but 0.5 LD doesn't get me twitchy.
But, some geeky fun just found: the NASA NEO program has an API.
(Or the lazy can go here: )
So a query for upcoming < 7LD (lunar distances) approaches by objects larger than max roughly 25 meters ( derived from absolute magnitude - ) sorted by decreasing distance is e.g. (this returns two results today - the python is just for formatting the json):
curl -X GET "" | python -mjson.tool

And yeah, need more funding for PHA-finding. It's reasonably inexpensive.


Tracking down the authors and a PHD biochemist as we speak.

From the PDF we sourced, you'll note the thickness / tensile strength differences. You've not factored in just how much thinner SS is compared to silk or cotton to get the same kind of effects - that's one of the major draws.

Weight (shipping costs etc, not to mention the "whys" to bullet-proof stuff) and the simple fact that you can produce a flask culture anywhere and ship it with the same efficiency as, say, bottled water has a maximally disruptive effect.

Old chain:

Field - Harvesting - shipping - Processing - Sorting / Grading - Shipping - Factory - Product (inc. all the various gubbins of that which in itself is huge, look into Nike chains for instance) - shipping - storage (Corp National based) - shipping - market (shop).

Thing you missed: if the litre is that cheap, you just cut 15-20% material costs out. The first to market can use the savings to automate the production of garments and then clean up.

That's the Black Swan - Cut out the first third of the chain, use the savings to jump over competitors who can't afford to automate the 2nd part (because, derp, why the fuck has the textile market continually shifted from arse-end to arse-end if it's not about maximizing lowest costs) and when you've committed the initial costs you can push some of those savings into the last third, maximizing Brand / Advertising and to cripple the old players.

That sound. A thousand Brand Marteteers just came in their pants. And then there was silence, as they realized they were the ones left behind.


Not really.

That was the Old Times[tm] when decency and manners existed and one man's torment resulted in him making an ethical choice to destroy his work rather than society.

Good Luck with that model now.


We hear screeching tires and shouts in phones. The Hounds are reading and doing their due diligence. Expect carnage on the markets in 1-2 weeks, depending on how smart they're being.


Or, in other words: "Sack Cloth and Ashes".

[Meta-Meta-Meta: oooooh shit, did that just rise up and bite you]

Cotton / Hemp as sources of materials - Hemp was far superior in some aspects, but was ruthlessly removed (and made illegal) for reasons not solely due to "market forces". SS has the same potential.


Nike Branding just took a look at it - if you're a premium Fashion / Sports Brand, and your entire 'thing' is The Future[tm] then you can't afford not to jump in guns blazing. You're on the Red Carpet and you think Haute couture isn't going to run a line in SS gowns that hark back to the glamour of the 1920's? Especially in these rather... Fascistic times?

Black. Swan.


Sorry to Spam @Host, but we know you're into this particular thing (costs of clothing etc), so hopefully will excite rather than bore.


And, before you mention it: enough Capital, this type of thing doesn't have years turn-around but months depending on how emeshable it is with prior tech. i.e. if you can straight up swap SS for Cotton fibres in plants, you're on.

Stage #1: Get SS production going
Stage #2: Slot it into existing chains
Stage #3: Product QA / Testing / Quantity Tests (the world uses a lot of clothes, even high end)
Stage #4: Branding / Marketing Blitz
Stage #5: As above, start using profits to change supply chains

You could probably make billions.


Last one, just because it's genius:

Or another comparison, a silkworm spinning 600-900 meters of silk in 3-4 days for its cocoon. In flask terms, that's 5,500 silkworms eating about 167 kg of mulberry leaves to produce a kilogram of silk.

How many posts have we made about spiders, with sources? How much fucking prodding do you need?

Spiders are in an order of two-three magnitude more efficient at converting molecule chains into silk, and they're predators which means it's by definition an energy stage up anyhow. i.e. they skip the stages that cost the most, which is mainly cellulose inefficiencies. (AKA - why Koala Bears have to sleep 18hrs and eat for the rest).

Caterpillars make it once in their lives: Spiders make it continually, throughout their lives. The comparison is a 1800's steam engine to a high-octane V5 rocket.

Ecology: if only it'd had been discovered first, rather than boring chemistry. And if only, if ONLY the behaviorists and other psychos hadn't gotten control of your systems.



Please explain: Short bus / Lucy bus & "You should have bought a squirrel"

Since no one else seems to be answering, here's a partial one:
I haven't seen the movie Rat Race, but guessing from the description that Lucy Bus refers to one full of Lucille Ball impersonators.

Short Bus usually refers to a school bus that is half the length of a regular bus, or one fitted to carry students in wheelchairs. These are generally used for students in Special Education programs, often with physical, mental, or learning disabilities. Occasionally a small rural school district will use them if there aren't enough students for larger buses. Saying that someone is "Riding the Short Bus" is often a semi-subtle, derogatory way of calling someone a "Retard", which some of us former Special Ed. kids take offense to.
This should not be mistaken for the very NSFW (and funny) film Shortbus, by the same writer/director who did the fantastic Hedwig and the Angry Inch.


Awww, insulting with a topping of total ignorance. Cute!

Actually, the spider conversion efficiency of whatever-it-is (it's probably not 1% incidentally) is irrelevant when you've moved the genes from spiders to bacteria. The relevant metric is what it costs to create the bacterial nutrient broth, plus the costs of tending the flasks and extracting the proteins. I know from talking with people doing algal biofuels that these can get rather intensive, especially if you've got big bioreactors and you have to keep scrubbing the things out so that only (or mostly) your favorite algae will grow in the solution.

A better analogy for producing bacterial silk would be the costs for producing bacterial insulin, but I have no clue what those are. Presumably they're rather more expensive than producing, say, beer (a microbially mediated food), but I don't know how much more.


Oh. I didn't know plane changes were such hard work. Thanks for the info.


At twelve I really enjoyed Gumball Rally. Fun movie.



You should probably read the PDF 2016 dissertation from a woman whose at the cutting edge of the procedure. And, you know, read the actual paper.

You're fucking out of order.

algal biofuels =/= what is being done here.

1 litre = 1 km of product already supposes that a majority of that is simple H20 + feed product (that's glucose or whatever).


I'll spell it out: the kinky bit isn't the bacteria, it's the hanging of the genotech in the medium.

Or, more simply put: you can't splice spider DNA into bacteria: DERP.


Oh, and ffs. READ THE PAPER.

Or at the very least come up with how NT2RepCT is being used.


Oh, and this is the joke that just creams all over you:

invention relates to biotechnology and can be used to produce polymers from spider silk protein. The method includes obtaining spider silk protein from 240-760 amino acid residues of formula NT2-REP-CT or NT-REP-CT, where: NT is an N-terminal fragment of 100 to 160 amino acids, originating from spider silk protein, with at least 80% identity to SEQ ID NO: 6; REP is a protein fragment of 70 to 300 amino acids, selected from L(AG)nL, L(AG)nAL, L(GA)nL, L(GA)nGL, where: n is an integer from 2 to 10; A consists of 8-18 amino acids, where 0 to 3 amino acids are not Ala, and the rest of the amino acids are Ala; G consists of 12-30 amino acids, where at least 40% amino acids are Gly; and L is a linker consisting of 0-20 amino acids; CT is a C-terminal fragment of 70 to 120 amino acids, originating from spider silk protein, with at least 80% identity to SEQ ID NO: 7. The method includes dissolving the obtained spider silk protein in a liquid medium with pH 6.4 or higher and/or ionic strength higher than 300 mM to prevent polymerisation and increase solubility of spider silk protein with optional removal of lipopolysaccharides and other pyrogenes. Further, properties of said liquid medium are adjusted to pH 6.3 or lower and ionic strength lower than 300 mM to facilitate polymerisation. Spider silk protein polymers are separated from the liquid medium after polymerisation.

Method of producing polymers from spider silk proteins Russian Patents, 2007

Now fuck off.


"To our surprise, this artificial protein is as water soluble as the natural spider silk proteins, which means that it is possible to keep the proteins soluble at extreme concentrations", says Anna Rising.

To mimic the spider silk gland, the research team constructed a simple but very efficient and biomimetic spinning apparatus in which they can spin kilometer-long fibers only by lowering the pH.

Spinning spider silk is now possible Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 9th Jan 2017.




Oh, and ffs. READ THE PAPER.
Still reading the dissertation (didn't have access to the paper) (as a break from reading more boring papers), in between watching B. Obama's farewell speech (transcript) and trying to resist digging into the very tempting Trump-in-Moscow story. (Buzzfeed and all over and uhm golden, and will not link as a courtesy to Host Charlie, though he has promised on Twitter to be aggressively irritating to DT.)
(Dissertation link was busted, via, )

It does look rather interesting so far. Dense with unfamiliar vocabulary. And the "Conclusions and outlook" pp 55-56 are pretty positive.


Go get some stimulants. You're still being cute.

1 kilogram of solution for one kilometer of silk is rather low yield. Silkworms (weight 4 g at pupation) spin most of a kilometer of silk into each cocoon, and it takes 2500-3000 cocoons to make a square meter of conventional silk. So we're talking about 1 ton of flask stuff per square meter of fabric, assuming the threads are the same diameter as silk threads. Compared to silkworms, this is a low yield operation. I'm sure they will get more efficient.

Another metric is from North Face (, which is marketing a synthetic spider silk parka in Japan for around $768. They say the cost should be >>150% of this, but they want people to buy it. Normal parkas go from around $150-$420, so basically they're saying that synthetic spider silk production right now is around 3-10 times the cost of existing fiber production. Obviously this can come down if market forces and continued innovation help.


Dealing with the unusually factual parts of you post:
34m diam:
4/3*Pi^17^3*3*1000 (assuming rel. density of 3) = (approx) 6.4 million tonnes at a ground-impact speed, of - what? "mach 10" = 3300 m/sec
Energy release + 0.5*m*v^2 = approx 0.65^10^6 MegaJoules - a LOT.

Slight correction.
Lizzie's title is "HM" NOT "HRM" ... the "R" only appears at the next level down in what used to be called "Princes of the Blood" - specifically Charles, Anne etc, who are "HRH"


I think the question is actually whether artificial spider silk replaces cotton. They are different substances after all. It might replace nylon or polyester though, if cheap enough.


From previously linked Impact Calculator:
The 35m projectile begins to breakup at an altitude of 77100 meters = 253000 ft
The projectile bursts into a cloud of fragments at an altitude of 13800 meters = 45100 ft
The residual velocity of the projectile fragments after the burst is 35.2 km/s = 21.9 miles/s
The energy of the airburst is 1.33 x 10e17 Joules = 31.7 MegaTons.
No crater is formed, although large fragments may strike the surface.

10km - Wooden buildings blown over (15-20m tsunami if 100m+ deep water-strike)
50km - Windows broken (10m wave if water)
80km - 30mph wind (moderate gale) (2m wave if water)
200km- 10mph wind (1m wave if water)


Re: Re: 'Why would he need cash at all, for that matter?' and that palace.

I was meaning cash as in 'personal wealth'. Why keep bank accounts/cash/shares when you can use state treasury as your own pockets?


This conversation reminds me of the old 8-bit game "Dictator", in which the final score is determined by the contents of your swiss bank account when the inevitable revolution comes.

Assuming you bail early enough. Hanging on for one more turn can be unwise.


Completely missed that one... Loved the Tropico series though where you have a choice to either fill the Swiss bank account or try to build the (somewhat) working country. You can try to do both but it ain't easy.

Maybe if we could round up all them politicians and make them play games on their computers instead of messing up our lives?..


Here's the point about Putin's wealth: those shareholdings are all tied up in carbon extraction industries.

For them to be worth a warm bucket of spit — in real terms — those industries need customers. The current western (and Chinese) push towards renewables is therefore an existential threat to Putin's personal assets.

It's fairly clear that like many western billionaires and politicians, he is no longer in the game to achieve a comfortable level of wealth for himself; he's far past that point. Rather, he's addicted to winning. So he's not going to enjoy the diminution of his personal status that would come from the value of oil and gas reserves crashing 90% because nobody is buying them.

This alone would explain his backing for Donald Trump (notable climate change skeptic and pro-carbon booster). No need for geopolitical machinations.

If anything, grim prognostications about Russian geopolitical ambitions in the west should be seen in light of who benefits from it? Empires like having peripheral client states who buy their exports: that's how the British empire worked, for example. So pushing oil/gas-friendly oligarchs into office overseas provides Putin with a personal reward.

He probably does have a couple of hundred million greenbacks socked away somewhere, just in case of a re-run of 1917 (he's not dumb enough to assume the carbon bubble can't burst), but he's not as unsophisticated as Saddam (who had it in cash buried in the walls of his palaces).


And if it stays in one solid lump until impact?


Rather, he's addicted to winning. ....
JUST like Trumpolini, oh dear.
Now, what about Putin having the dirt on T ( Thj screaming denials say it all )
Oh & "Vaxxing" sceptic/nutter in charge of Health, oh shite - just when you think it can't get any worse.
Any more predictions for (not necessarily actual persons) for other wrecking appointments?

He probably does have a couple of hundred million greenbacks socked away somewhere, just in case of a re-run of 1917
OTOH he has the Assad problem - where could he go, without being sent to jail, or men with "Long Guns" following him?


BTW, the Chernobyl incident wasn't an accident. It wasn't even intentional sabotage; it was an officially sanctioned, and extremely stupid, experiment.

OGH knows that.


trying to control The Donald is not a long term success strategy

Possibly Ivanka is having some long-term success with this?

It's hard to tell whether it's her work, of course, but plausibly she has so far got the East Wing (out-maneuvering the rightful FLOTUS and having her locked in a gilded tower at Casterly Rock) and her man as a senior adviser in the West... That would be interesting if it's just a start, and she has decades of experience working with him ("If he wasn't my father, I would spray him with Mace.").

For the rest of us, I guess better her than Putin.


It gets better, int he United States, transportation, HVAC and appliances that are more efficient are desirable, and carbon consumption will be reduced, as the upgrades become financially possible. What better way of maintaining the thirst of the west than quietly supporting reactionary politicians? People whose first allegiance is to the hand that funded their campaign and second to class warfare.


Trundling back a few posts to the subject of lasers... our ability to build high power lasers of the sort required to toast space rocks is, to put it optimistically, inadequate.

There's a lot of useful stuff you can do with inadequate lasers, though. Laser propulsion systems offer a fairly plausible way of delivering packages to distant bodies in reasonable timespans, without the need for huge apertures, short wavelengths or rock-boiling power densities at the target. We don't actually have other good ways of delivering nukes to distant rocks right now... ion and plasma engines are either too slow or need too much power (and we can't make sufficiently light nuclear plants for space use), and unless someone is going to ressurect the Orion project there's no nuclear engine that anyone knows how to make that would do the job. Laser sails though, those you could probably make today. Fancier things like the photonic laser thruster don't seem far off or implausible. Laser ablative... I dunno. Might not be good enough soon enough as it needs much beefier lasers. But it certainly isn't fusion rocket or liquid core nuclear rocket levels of unlikely.

Worth noting that if you get enough delta-V from your propulsion system, you might not need to actually throw nuclear warheads at the target. I can't be bothered to run the numbers right now, but there comes a point where you could make a laser-sail machine gun and just grind the bastards down over the course of months. See also: pellet-stream propulsion. Lasers are a bit crap at imparting momentum to things, but this is a nice way to work around that.

Of course, we might have to leave it to the raccoons to sort out...


We can't build large really kickass lasers but we can build lots of lower-powered ones and they could have the same effect on worrisome space rocks. Being hit by the beams from a thousand 100kW lasers spread over multiple site would be about as effective in vapourising a target in deep space as a single 50MW laser and an array of such lasers stitched along the equator is less fragile and less prone to catastrophic failure, weather, rotation of the Earth etc.


Building lots of little lasers isn't quite enough to solve the rock-frying problem... see earlier comments by others re: apertures, and so on. They are potentially quite usfeul for launching and pushing things that can fry rocks though, which was kinda my point.


You may be a little late to this change: North Face plan to start selling the Moon Parka, made of biosynthetic spider silk some time soon. A prototype is currently on public display in their flagship store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan; they're still working on production processes, but it's bacterial rather than from spiders, and there's real commercial money now going into making this a mass product.


Biggest impact of this pseudo-spider-silk is how little water it would need.

Reminder: The former USSR drained 90% of the Aral Sea in order to irrigate land to farm cotton ... cotton is extremely water wasteful. Therefore with climate change affecting potable water supply, yes - if this textile story is true - I think it's very relevant and a potential game changer.


'Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68,000 km2 (26,300 sq mi), the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects. By 2007, it had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into four lakes – the North Aral Sea, the eastern and western basins of the once far larger South Aral Sea, and one smaller lake between the North and South Aral Seas.[4] By 2009, the southeastern lake had disappeared and the southwestern lake had retreated to a thin strip at the western edge of the former southern sea; in subsequent years, occasional water flows have led to the southeastern lake sometimes being replenished to a small degree.[5] Satellite images taken by NASA in August 2014 revealed that for the first time in modern history the eastern basin of the Aral Sea had completely dried up.[6] The eastern basin is now called the Aralkum Desert.'

[What took you so long to post the Waltons connection?]


Laser sails? Last time I looked, a pure photon rocket needs about 3GJ of energy to produce 1 Newton of force.

Now, if you posit a 25% energy efficient laser system and dedicate a gang of nuclear reactors to powering it — say, 50GW thermal output, 12GW electrical, converting to 3GW of light — then after ten days, your 100% reflective laser sail has mopped up 1 MN of force; if you then furl the sail, that makes a credible artillery shell's worth of momentum.

But it's a silly, expensive way of delivering that force.

Laser launchers are not something we've ever played with above the scale of lab experiments. If you've got the money to develop something like that to the point of being able to put a tonne of payload into orbit, you've got the money to make Elon Musk's ITS work, even if it goes over budget by about 300%; ITS leverages existing aerospace engineering and doesn't require you to pioneer a new field including building multi-gigawatt continuous emission launch lasers (the order of power I was hearing about for a launcher last time I heard about the subject).


Agree: Similar to using thousands of ordinary PCs to crunch very large data sets.


Bear in mind that the Earth's atmosphere approximates to a 10 metre deep swimming pool full of water, in terms of its ability to absorb infrared radiation. If you've putting out enough gigawatts of laser radiation pointing straight up, there are going to be, shall we say, local atmospheric effects. (And fried bird for dinner every day for the site crews.)


Instead of wasting fuel/power, why not invest in better light-amplification tech. Techs that amplify power potential/reduce waste are necessary for limited resource space research and/or Mars colony. Ditto for multiple vs. single-purpose design/gadgets, i.e., using better geometry, a solar sail (passive collector) could also be a solar light amplification device, and maybe even a battery. Actually, mini versions of this could even become embedded Earth-side as improvements/add-ons to PVs.

Why do this: the public has no problem having a quarter million different 'apps' (functions) on their smartphone, so there should be no big deal in embedding multi-functionality in other appliances.

Below patent app was filed by Fuji Film back in 1991:

Light amplifying device
US 5048030 A


'A light amplifying device comprising an optical oscillator constituted by first and second reflective mirrors and a common reflective mirror disposed in an optically opposite relation to each other, a polarized beam splitter for making a laser beam incoming from the side of the common reflective mirror incident on the first or second reflective mirror, and for making laser beams incoming from the sides of the first and second reflective mirrors incident on the common mirror, first and second amplifying media disposed in optical paths of the respective laser beams for amplifying the laser beams, and an optical element for rotating the polarizing plane of the laser beam reflected by the common reflective mirror by a predetermined angle. The laser beams emitted from the first and second amplyfying media are repeatedly between the first and second reflective mirrors and the common reflective mirror while being amplified through the respective amplifying media, for being emitted from the common reflective mirror as a high-energy synthesized laser beam in a single polarized state.'


It depends on how much gets absorbed by the atmosphere. And birds and insects.

If the incoming asteroid is rocky or metallic, it might be possible to find a laser/maser wavelength that largely passes through the atmosphere and is absorbed by the asteroid. If it's a comet, we're probably out of luck , especially if the beast is mostly water ice (unless it's visible from the Sahara or some other place with a dry atmosphere, in which case, fire away). Still, skilled spectroscopy would help us tune the laser frequency to dump as much energy as possible into the rock.

That said, I agree that terawatt asteroid defense lasers are a pipe dream right now. Still, if we had some partially effective laser technology and a year or two of warning, we could maybe cobble up something useful. Or not.


About laser power from Earth... a friend and well-known filker, Jordan Kare, is involved (among other things) in a company that wants to do that.

On another note, I'm *very* annoyed. That asteroid that went past Monday? It was *supposed* to strike at the Mall in DC next Friday, the 20th, around noon, and Save the World.....



Laser sails? Last time I looked, a pure photon rocket needs about 3GJ of energy to produce 1 Newton of force.

I'm sure you know all about this, but not everyone here does: laser sails and laser launch are totally different things (that both use lasers).

A laser sail uses the momentum from photons directly, like a solar sail. A laser launcher on the other hand uses the laser as an energy source to heat propellant, creating a thermal rocket with an external energy source. Microwave emitters have also been proposed for this.

While in the atmosphere, some versions of this use the air as the propellant.

One deep space analogue to this is to use the laser to drive solar panels on your space ship, which then has plenty of power available for your VASIMR or other high power ion drive tech.


Yes, I know Jordin. This is an occasional topic of conversation. His most credible laser application? The spin-off of SDI that involves repurposing micro-drones equipped with the UV lasers out of BluRay drives to shoot down female malaria mosquitos in flight! Works a treat at ranges of up to 10 meters using off-the-shelf, mass-produced electronics for targeting. (Against incoming ICBMs six orders of magnitude further away? Not so much.)


"And if it stays in one solid lump until impact?"

Assuming iron, vertical impact, on land, something like Barringer Crater in Arizona. Try the calculator to 'roll your own' disaster.


I wonder if the renewed interest in supersonic aircraft is just oil companies trying to keep demand up?

Serious question, what can be done to increase electricity demand? The current trend is to make appliances more efficient, to the extent that US electricity consumption per capita has flatlined since 2000.


Serious question, what can be done to increase electricity demand?

Electric cars. :-D



Supersonic commercial flight is desirable for long-distance travel — if you've ever been sandbagged by jet lag but scheduled for work/meetings before you've recovered you'll appreciate it — it's just that fuel burn goes up nonlinearly beyond about Mach 0.85.

Concorde was a 1960s design executed in the early 1970s. We may not be getting massive breakthroughs in performance in aerospace these days, but we are getting incremental improvements, and half a century of incrementalism is eventually tantamount to a breakthrough.


Agree with you that supersonic aircraft are desirable for the reasons you listed. I should not have used the word "just". I also agree with you about incrementalism.

However, what I'm saying is the following: if I was interested in prolonging the carbon bubbles, I would spend as much time trying to increase demand while at the same time fighting alternatives. Preferably, I would increase demand in a sector which is not amenable to alternatives.

The reason I use the plural when referring to carbon bubbles is because coal and natural gas are primarily used for electricity and heating while oil is primarily used for transport. I realize they are interchangeable, but this is what the infrastructure we have today is like. This is why coal right now is suffering the rise of renewables (and cheaper natural gas in parts of the world) far worse than oil is.

Hence my question earlier. If I was trying to increase demand for oil in developed countries, I would try and push US-style SUV/pickup trucks and supersonic aircraft. I can't think of equivalent new sources of demand for the electricity/heating sector (except for LED lighting on the outer walls of McMansions)


Why do you want to increase electricity demand? Certainly electric cars would be a good way to do so.


Today's email re: Nature News ... pretty good fit with topics here:


UK laser weapon The UK military has awarded a £30-million (US$37-million) contract to produce a prototype laser weapon. The Ministry of Defence announced on 5 January that a consortium led by European missile maker MBDA would test the potential of ‘directed energy’ technology and aim to demonstrate a weapon in 2019. If successful, the first laser weapons could come into service in the mid-2020s, the ministry said. The US military has been experimenting with such technology for decades, and in 2014 successfully tested a ship-mounted laser weapon in the Gulf. The system, called LaWS, has been authorized for use against targets such as boats and drones.'

There's also news about launching some asteroid intercepting crafts ...


NASA missions NASA announced on 4 January that it will send two missions to visit asteroids next decade. Lucy, to be launched in 2021, will visit six Trojan asteroids, which orbit the Sun on either side of Jupiter and are thought to be remnants of early Solar System material. Psyche, to be launched in 2023, will visit the metallic asteroid Psyche, which might be the exposed core of a failed early planet. The agency also announced a much-anticipated astrophysics mission, the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, to launch in 2020. The probe will study polarized light coming from black holes, neutron stars and other cosmic phenomena that cannot be directly studied.'

Wonder how different black-hole polarized light is vs. regular light re: energy.


I recall seeing some development work and a proof-of-concept of a laser-boosted solid-fuel rocket system but it never seemed to go anywhere, at least not publicly.

It used a conventional solid-fuel rocket with an Isp of about 240-250 which launched and then once it was clear of the pad lasers to the side of its track would dump energy into the throat of the motor heating up the exhaust gas and making it flow faster and thus increasing the amount of thrust it generated. It cost nothing to the mass of the rocket itself since the extra energy was supplied from the ground but it was supposed to improve the Isp to over 300 or so, about the same performance as the best liquid-fuelled rockets achieve today. Improved materials tech for the rocket motor bell and laser tracking (more lasers added to the boost battery as the flight got further away from the pad) supposedly could push this to 400 and more.

All the expensive sparkly bits stayed on the ground and individual failures in laser emitters would not totally compromise the flight profile. I can't see why the same system of energy addition couldn't be applied to liquid-fuelled engines assuming good enough engineering of the underside of the vehicle.


I slogged through that dissertation and other material (didn't have access to the Nature paper) last night (not decoding some of the unfamiliar vocabulary just to be honest) and they are asserting that they are the first with proper strong synthetic spider silk. It looks interesting; reserving judgement.

(OK or not to talk about the Trump/Russia story that broke last night? Don't want blog to be a casualty of flailing damage control. Worth quick-reading the 35 page doc by the way if you haven't. Very interesting material; dunno truth of it.)

A favorite topic for a previous incarnation of MO; a natural experiment.
Wastewater treatment upgrades result in major reduction of intersex fish


RE: Low weight reactors for space use, and high performance drives.. You can have both. May blow up spectacularly, but there is this very neat paper design if you can get people to sign off on grinding a few dozen nuclear warheads into nano-scale dust.
Ca ten tons, mostly moderator. Outputs a stream of fission fragments going at 3-5% light, which is quite a mind-bending isp, and it can - in theory - trade off that for impressive levels of thrust by injecting reaction mass into that stream (said reaction mass should heats up to mad temperatures. Take care not to melt your rocket nozzle)


With the laser launching and especially with lasers pushing things at long range, how is that better than mirrors? We already have gigawatt light output over 6-8 hour durations that's eminently directable. It just has the "problem" that you can't point it at the surface of the planet so it doesn't make a very good weapon (unless you're targeting a bird or a plane piloted by idiots).

I realise that focus tracking over long distances is not quite as good, but on the other hand conversion efficiency from solar input is so much better than anything else that that's almost irrelevant. If we can only get 10% on target where a laser would get 90%, you still have the problem of building and supplying power to your 100MW output laser for 6-8 hours.


Ok, apology, full moon and the current implosion in America & personal stuff[1] has made me an extremely grumpy cat.


Spiber Technologies is an advanced biomaterials company. We see ourselves as leaders in recombinant spider silk development and production.

The company was founded in 2008. Its technologies are based on successful research on spider silk conducted at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala, Sweden.


We're essentially talking about the same enterprise, only my links were to the academic arm, which just (apparently) had a new breakthrough, not the business arm (note: the link to the Russian Patent wasn't accidental - but it only covers actual spider silk, not artificial stuff).

Women driven, hope in #2017, thought it was a nice counter-point.

So - file as grumpy, but new tech breakthrough from the people already pushing it to market (which is a lot better than competitor late-to-the-game). i.e. Future Better, not me being too much of a Madonna.


Oh, and regarding #246:

Dear President-elect Trump, President Obama, Members of the US Congress, and Global Leaders:

We, the undersigned members in the business and investor community of the United States, re-affirm our deep commitment to addressing climate change through the implementation of the historic Paris Climate Agreement.

We want the US economy to be energy efficient and powered by low-carbon energy. Cost-effective and innovative solutions can help us achieve these objectives. Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk. But the right action now will create jobs and boost US competitiveness. We pledge to do our part, in our own operations and beyond, to realize the Paris Agreement’s commitment of a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Business Backs Low-Carbon USA

Right on schedule. The list of companies is somewhat impressive.


Back to watching Rome burn, one supposes.

If Mexico goes, whelp: Trump will get his Wall.

[1] Psychic link to Trump to drive the insanity bus into the wall proceeding to plan, but it hurts so very badly to watch it happen.


(And we did note Atropos - the less said about weaving Golden Threads the better perhaps: Lachesis)

Currently reading:

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street AMZN link, Natasha Pulley. Good, if a little s/light, *nose wiggle* to why referenced (c.f. Current Sherlock).


We already know extremely accurately at what wavelengths the atmospher is transparent - it's why we can put visible, microwave, and radio telescopes on the Earth's surface, but UV, X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy went nowhere until putting up satellites became practically affordable by (large) research consortia.

However, transparency is only part of the problem with siting long-range lasers on Earth - the other is atmospheric distortion. Even if you site your launch laser somewhere with extremely dry air, as high as possible (say, Mauna Kea, although getting planning permission for that might be tricky), the atmosphere is a mucky, messy optical medium. It distorts your beam, and that leads to inefficiency.

Adaptive optics are a moderately effective solution for Earth-based telescopes, but are rather harder to implement in reverse. Even if you solve the latency and accuracy issues in mounting wavefront sensors on satellites, you then have to contend with the materials science issues of building a transmissive adaptive optics system for a multi-gigawatt class laser system that does not melt or become nonfunctional from the absorbed heat.


Not using IR radiation would be a fairly obvious requirement - the peak transmission for a laser would be ~680nm (i.e. a deep red colour). Granted, that will indeed have Interesting(tm) effects all round. For example, you would clearly want to build your launch laser in exactly the kind of place best suited for astronomical telescopes; while the Rayleigh backscattered light would result in the kind of light pollution that London, New York or Tokyo can only dream of producing. Your astronomer neighbours will be deeply Not Happy.

Suppose a hypothetical 10GW class launcher using a visible laser (for simplicity of caluclation, call it 700nm). For every metre of travel through the atmosphere, approximately 100kW would be absorbed (about equally by water and nitogren molecules), and another 100kW would be scattered.

Assuming current material limits, such a laser would have a minimal aperture of about 100m^2. This would lead to a scattered power density (i.e. power per volume) approximately 1% that of a tungsten filament bulb - but with of the order of 10 billion times the volume.

If I recall my laser safety training correctly, maximum safe exposure for the human eye in the visible range is approximately 2W/m^2. As you approached the source of this laser launcher, you would be wanting sungalsses approximately 15km away and deeply uncomfortable by 12km. The laser column would be as bright as the Sun when you were 11km away; you'd be exceeding maximum safe intensity around 10km, and blind by 7km distance.

I don't have time right now to look into the probably effects of firing such a laser into the atmosphere in any detail right now, but at a rough guess, you'd get a serious steam explosion, followed by rapid ionisation to a plasma. I'm not sure matters would get far enough to start fires on the ground, but standing nearby would be deeply unhealthy even neglecting the effect on your vision.


Thank you. If people got their shit together you could remove pollutants from the hydrosphere, at least at the molecular level. (Plastic, plastic, plastic. c.f. positive bans on microbeads).

As ever, it only gets done once the Profit Margins[tm] are done. Still, at least possible (if not probable to enter Global Enactment).

Dealing with the concept of Ecological Extinction with regards to myself, my species and American politics. Although there's some real Mandela Effect going on, I know for a fact that this concept has a more precise name that I've linked to before, but this Mind's Memory is so toast it's now only stored in Host's DB. (It's not MVB or Nurgaliev's law ~ *nose sniff* smells like Algo Purge). The concept being a living population that can still breed but is doomed to extinction in the near future.

To create Dragons, we sacrifice our memories and emotions to the living stone...


And, Full Moon, so change inevitable: #1 Reasons we always religiously check Menhit each morning:

Mr Steele, who spied in Moscow for the Secret Intelligence Service in the 1990s, fled from his home in Surrey after leaving his cat with a neighbour and telling them he would be away “for a few days”.

For months, he had been playing a dangerous game; tipping off journalists about what he said he had discovered from his sources in Russia about Donald Trump’s alleged dealings with the Kremlin, as well as claims that the FSB had hugely compromising information about Mr Trump’s activities during visits to the Communist country.

Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who produced Donald Trump Russian dossier, 'terrified for his safety' and went to ground before name released Telegraphy, 11th Jan, 2017.

Oh, and check his company: great use of Latin. (*ahem*).


Yes, apologies to yourself & regulars. Stressed, forgot the way links/linear stuff is formatted or that it wouldn't be immediately seen, couldn't switch back due to Burning Dumpster Fires and Being Burnt at the Stake.

Spiber is the material source in the production chain, who rely on the Academic research I linked to. i.e. their "Proof of Concept" just got a whole lot more feasible / cheaper / suitable for mass production.


Yes, thank-you.

1 tonne calculations that don't take in external costs was the point of this. i.e. why are you farming fish /tonne that cost x3 / tonne in raw fish protein as compared to insects? Insanity - but usual in your models.

To be clearer: 1 tonne = 1 m2 (will look at this a lot harder, soon, but 4chan disinfo is on fire, needed elsewhere, I suspect this isn't correct) means nothing if 1 tonne cotton costs = 1000 tonne protein shake n bake formula in terms of actual energy / environmental costs.

FFS - Orange Juice. The storage m2 for that is so massive you'd think it was a planetary drug. Oh, and they add the flavor packets (produced by perfume companies) at the last stage anyhow.

I am 12 and how does the industrial world work?

The other point was the why/wtf to Russia holding patents on tech that it didn't develop. Classic case of (ex)Soviet stuff - great Minds, great tech, rubber-bands and genius level cludges to make it all work. Or not, as the economy collapses and your better-tech-autonomous-drone space ship sits decaying in a hanger.

Fun topic: when Mad Max hits - Soviets win, due to you know... having the Mind/Skill set to make super-cool stuff happen with fucking nothing more than genius, vodka and balls of brass.


Oh, and to the Political "genius" class thinkers out there getting paid so much for doing so little: That's how they made 1/3rd spending on soft power count. Rubber-bands and No Hope = Mad Skillz.

Or they just paid attention to meta-lessons being developed in the Wild-Wild-West.

cyka blat Urban Dictionary (and yes, we all know it's incorrect. thatsthejope.jpg)


Before, you know, One of Our Kind got involved. You'd be so very very fucked if we hadn't got involved and warned y'all... Wait. Oh, right. "Mental Image of Washing Hands" = "We're Cunts" = "Brown Note totally isn't on us".

We thought you'd be happier as yourselfYT:, Music "All you need is Love" Prisoner, 1:48

Remind me again: If you threaten Our Kind with Rape/Murder/Torture, what happens?

Causality Breach.


Dealing with the concept of Ecological Extinction with regards to myself, my species and American politics. Although there's some real Mandela Effect going on, I know for a fact that this concept has a more precise name that I've linked to before, but this Mind's Memory is so toast it's now only stored in Host's DB. (It's not MVB or Nurgaliev's law ~ *nose sniff* smells like Algo Purge). The concept being a living population that can still breed but is doomed to extinction in the near future.
While thinking about what the F you mean by the first sentence, looked through archives for the past few years but didn't spot anything, but don't have a grep variant that can handle "smells like" search expressions. It doesn't fit into the taxonomy for extinction vortexes/ices from the MVP theory? (Couldn't find softcopy for that paper.) Another related idea is extinction debt. Maybe Heteromeles knows.

it hurts so very badly to watch it happen.


Kzinti Lesson
That's also a weapon - see also Casaba Howitzer discussed earlier?


Begin Quote}
Jim Angleton would have loved this. Angleton, admired and despised in equal measure, was the legendary (or notorious) CIA director of counterintelligence in the 1960s and 1970s, who spent those years in a Captain Ahab-like search for a Soviet mole in the Agency. He described the universe in which he operated as a “wilderness of mirrors.” Welcome to the crazy, cross-reflecting world of Donald Trump, Russia and Election 2016.
{End quote

From today's Independent.
Oh dear.


Yeah, I noted that one and immediately grabbed it for use in fiction.

Drawbacks? (a) Launch from ground level or in-atmosphere would appear to be contraindicated for real estate values, and (b) the failure modes for a fission fragment rocket (FFR) would appear to start from "our reactor core just came to a rolling boil" and go all the way up to a supercriticality event (i.e. a no-shit nuclear explosion).

I suppose the best way to think of it is a less steampunk (in the sense of "lots of mechanical moving bits and shock absorbers and giant pistons") than an ORION-type pulse detonation rocket, but potentially more alarming (when the neutron flux going thataway can be measured in kilograms ...)


why are you farming fish /tonne that cost x3 / tonne in raw fish protein as compared to insects?

Demand/food taboos/digestibility?

If you can harvest three tonnes of jellyfish and process it somehow into fish feed that produces one tonne of farmed salmon, then you're ahead ... at least, in terms of the post-apocalyptic oceanic food chains we're creating.

Again, if people don't want to eat insects, if you can farm three tons of bugs and turn them into fish meal that produces a ton of farmed fish people will eat, you're winning. (And? That's a better ratio than grass-to-beefsteak.)


#272 - :-D Some of us recognised the reference unassisted.

Never mind the technology (or the 1930s-40s racism and sexism); they're rattling good space opera yarns yes?


the "R" only appears at the next level down in what used to be called "Princes of the Blood" - specifically Charles, Anne etc, who are "HRH"

Well, between you and Emlyn Hughes, that's two people I know of who thought that "Her Royal Highness the Princess Anne" was a felow! ;-)


'The probe will study polarized light coming from black holes, neutron stars and other cosmic phenomena that cannot be directly studied.'

Wonder how different black-hole polarized light is vs. regular light re: energy.

The point about studying polarized light is that scattering processes tend to produce polarized light—that's how sunglasses with polaroid lenses preferentially cut out reflected light. So if you can measure the polarization of incoming light, you can do the antithesis of polaroid sunglasses, i.e. preferentially select scattered light. This enables you to observe objects, e.g. the central black holes in Type 2 active galactic nuclei, which are not visible in direct line of sight because of obscuring material (dust).


ISTR that current "dietary advice" also says that you (omnivore or pescatarian) 'should' eat at least 2 portions of oily fish per week. There is no similar advice regarding portions of insects!


Analagous to what used to be called "Dark Field" illumination in microscopy, perhaps?


>There is no similar advice regarding portions of insects!

There are however rules concerning the amount of insect matter permitted in food, which a sufficiently clever lawyer might argue constitutes a recommendation! is quite enlightening in this regard.


The relevant UK law is called the "Food Hygene Regulations" and places maximum levels on insect in a food (including "snack") item.


The burning question is why isn't it already being done on a large scale.

Small S.African company seems to be at the forefront: AgriProtein (Commercial Link)


Anyhow, Mr Trump continues to prove that He's the W.M.D in the room:

After Trump mentioned drug prices and pharmaceutical companies' tax inversions, the nine biggest pharmaceutical companies by market cap on the S&P 500 shed roughly $24.6 billion in 20 minutes. That includes the market caps of Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead, Celgene, and Eli Lilly.

Big Pharma Lost $24.6 Billion in 20 Minutes During Donald Trump’s Press Conference Fortune, 11th Jan 2017.

Twitter + 'Unorthodox' PR style + Algos set to scan = Libertarian Shorting Wet Dream.

Achievement Unlocked: Full Cyber(org) Positive Feedback Loop engaged. There's probably people desperately making sure Vanity Fair and Teen Fashion magazines are keeping his attention: if he read any of our output, things would go sprang[tm].

AP Twitter hack causes panic on Wall Street and sends Dow plunging Guardian, April 2013.

Cross your fingers that the NSA etc really have back-doored it all & are serious about cyber security - whoever holds the keys can essentially ransom the US stock market.


*nose wiggle*

Told you it wasn't just a Russian Op.


I feel a conspiracy theory coming up...

Hence my question earlier. If I was trying to increase demand for oil in developed countries, I would try and push US-style SUV/pickup trucks and supersonic aircraft. I can't think of equivalent new sources of demand for the electricity/heating sector (except for LED lighting on the outer walls of McMansions)

So that's what has been going on in Russia! I happened to notice that SUVs are now everywhere (OK, mostly European and Asian models so 2 litre engine mostly... but also honest-to-Eris off-road monsters with 6 litre monsters under the bonnet). Quite a few diesels as well (diesel is more expensive in Russia than petrol). So... Could we hope that our roads becoming so... un-roadlike? – that it's just a result of some nefarious plot by the oil companies to boost the sales?.. Because otherwise it means that our governments on all levels are just incompetent thieving bastards... who're getting more incompetent by the day. At least five years ago the roads were washed away by spring rains, now it happens in the fall...


This brings up a serious question: Is Russia now a developed country?


Is the USA? Infrastructure degradation is not a Russia-only phenomenon...


Btw, to take joy in small victories... Trumpolini invoked Nazi Germany yesterday at his press conference. Unwarrantedly.

I hereby invoke Godwin's Rule, and so, he loses!

mark "he's Mussolini, not Hitler...."


>mark "he's Mussolini, not Hitler...."

More Nero, I would have thought (the historical one, not the popular one). Still might be worse, could be Caligula, post insanity.


> places maximum levels on insect in a food (including "snack") item.

Just as well that which is permitted isn't compulsory. Yet.


I didn't mean to insult Russia, or claim that having bad infrastructure would make it not a developed country.

The Soviet Union was considered a Second World Country. The Russia of the 1990s was considered a developing country, along with most of the Warsaw Pact countries. I know that several of those countries are now considered developed. However, I've not heard anything about Russia becoming developed. However, the news over the past decade (since the war in Georgia) has been about Russia's military revival. Less is heard about Russia's civilian development since then. That's why I was asking.

I apologize for the unintended but implied insult.


I think Trevor Noah got it right. The closest parallels with El Cheeto Grande are various African strongmen, notably Jacob Zuma of South Africa. That "20 children (estimated)" is just the beginning of the show.

Personally, I keep thinking off all the stupid stuff the US did in the Cold War to put pliant leaders where we wanted them for allegedly strategic reasons. Our techniques became public, the Street found their own uses for this crap, and now Americans know what it's like to be on the receiving end of one of these propaganda black ops. It sucks dead rat through a straw, but we were doing stuff like this to Iran back in the 1950s, and we wonder why they despise us so thoroughly now. Goes around, comes around, as they say.


Entertaining but scary predictions.

Not so dramatic or sci-fi fiction worthy, but another tigger, even worse than a smart lighbulb DDOS attack might be where a cold snap and winter storm combine to max out the capacity of the national grid electricity network which is pretty close to what's happening right now (as I write this, anyways! :) )

A significant unexpected loss or surge in the network right now could trip the entire grid, and although major cities should come back up fairly quickly, it would take long enough to 'reboot' the supplies stage by stage that by the time many areas could come back on stream enough time would have elapsed to prevent just simply switching the power back on to be a viable option. Many houses would have been left unoccupied as people went off to stay in 'powered' areas, but since the power was off when they left people will have likely left all sorts of devices on, leading to fires on restoration of power. So each occupied and unoccupied house would have to be manually visited and checked to ensure that the main circuit breaker was off, breaking into the unoccupied houses where necessary.

We were advised a couple of years ago in a community 'resilience' meeting that our fairly-but-not-very-rural part of Scotland would be likely to be switched back on in week 6-8 after a full grid trip.

Given the current economic situation, an event like that could cause a bit of an economic wobble.

By the time I've finished this we're back out of 'red' (Elmo) and back into the 'orange' (Ernie) zone (I don't think there's a Bert or a Cookie Monster like in the Sesame Street terror alert system - just a straight jump back to Oscar), but it made me think.


According to the below - Russia has the 6th largest economy yet ranks almost third-world (93rd) in infrastructure ... so, yes, at best second rate country/governance. Also, if you remove the petroleum sector, the economy and infrastructure have gone downhill pretty steeply under VP's leadership even as he's trying to cut deals with China and Japan re: infrastructure investment/financing. (They're staying away mostly because of Russia's long history of non-transparent [fraud level] regs re: contracts and tenders.)

In addition to Russia's economy still cycling downward as per this FT piece of April 2016, its Gini co-eficient rose from 37 to 41.6 in 2012 (vs. USA at 45, UK at 32.4) showing increased income distribution inequality.

Russia: Putin’s balance sheet

Hadn't known this before, but looks like retirement age is 55 for women and 60 for men with pensioners making up 40% of the electorate. Problems with their social security system which in 2002 encouraged gung-ho capitalistic style investing over gov't run plans, means a lot of older folk got seriously burned when the Russian economy tanked in 2014. BTW, Russia's suicide rate among males is pretty high, ranked 7th according to some sources, and must be deeply unsettling considering that this is happening in a country (leadership) purporting to be uber christian and according to which suicide is a mortal sin.

So - yeah, all in all, Russia's becoming something of a hell hole. And DT admires this ...?


Apropos of nothing in particular, well maybe a "Fake News" conference and of other news yesterday.

Whenever I see Donnie the Rump's PEOTUS logo*, I think of a Do Not Enter sign. Seems appropriate.

*PEONUS? Sorry, hanging head in shame.


This ID is starting to stink with putrescence, too much filth being spun into it, but:

#1 Read the 35 page report. A lot of it is quite clearly badly formatted 4chan gags (including one where Trump dresses up at Christmas and watches Hentai with prostitutes... in a cinema. If you know anything about Russia, Dachas of the rich have stupidly over-specc'd home film projection suites - this is a slash-fic-back-attack on certain #pizzagate stuff about "hidden projection rooms" and art installations). This is known in the trade as "hunting the clean boot" - the text is unimportant, the actual report is implied / located elsewhere. They're just telling the Intel peeps who are running chan vectors to watch their booties.

And, look: FFS. PISSING ON THE BED THAT THE PRESIDENT SLEPT IN. DOG = INSULT. It's a meta-meta attack (c.f. Roasts).

#2 That's certainly not the actual report Mr Steele produced, if he did indeed produce a report. Having checked, he did (or, put it this way: someone did and it's got fairly good pedigree in a temporal sense): for Jeb! His actual report had much more financial data. But, !kicker! you burn Trump on that, you also burn a lot of other prominent Republicans. He's not the only one with fingers in tax havens and dodgy Bunga-Bunga deals (c.f. Panama - oh, and he's boringly CISWHITE, which is why his taste in Wives is so easy to hit. Other Republicans - not so much).

Ahh. Now, that's interesting. The actual report has a load of protection.

#3 DoJ / FBI fight continues (DOJ Watchdog To Review FBI Director James Comey's Handling Of Clinton Investigation Huffpost 12th Jan 2017

And so on.

Please parse your reality with a little more depth, it's offensive when you don't.

8 Days Left.

You can gauge the difference between an enemy and a Nemesis by one thing: if offered the chance to learn from you, if they seek your immediate destruction, then you're the Nemesis.


GOP is going All-In on defunding the poors healthcare. Told ya so.

Now get off your knees and fight.


Perhaps, maybe. Depends on how big the crash is.

There are plenty of rural areas that already have wobbly grid connections. Being knocked out for a week or two is not unusual if you live in the wrong part of Wales or Scotland.

If somewhere in the SE loses power then there are national headlines and heaven and earth are moved to get them reconnected, but I am sure that people who are used to it are considered sacrificial.

I am fairly sure that a minor grid collapse would be mitigated by cutting off unimportant people, who are quite capapble of surviving a couple of weeks off grid anyway, and the whole thing would be swept under the carpet by the time spring came around.


Russia is a bit of a hell hole. The only nation I know of that is aiming to decriminalise domestic violence. "It's part of President Vladimir Putin's push for a return to traditional family values."

That's just fucked up.


Also completely untrue.

They're making different classes of offenses.

Specifically, on a skim read of the actual Law: One offense = small jail time + fine or community service with bonding over a year, if broken it gets pushed up into the higher classifications of domestic violence / assault.

Given the amount of domestic violence in Russia (both sexes, but, SHOCK, unlike America, turns out 50+ years of equality = massively different rates of violence between sexes) and depressing life experiences, it's actually quite progressive.


USA =/= World.

Lesson #32423

Holy Fuck you're shit at agitprop.


Note to Americans: Russia has a gun culture. It's fairly large. Shooting people in the face on hunting trips and expecting an apology from them isn't happening though.

There are, indeed, many places in Russia where organized crime is a huge problem and insulting the wrong people will get you killed. They also own the Police. And the Judges. And the Mayor.


Not many Russian Nationals get shot being arrested during drunken hi-jinks or random arrests or just general "being rowdy" stuff (and Holy Shit can they push the boundaries).

Nor do they issue "cleansing orders" to purge the homeless / druggies and execute them [This is a bit weird: Nix Ninoy cleared, not sure if this ID can take the next big deal. Hint - America, ex-judicial killings, border. It's gonna be yuuuuge, but next ID]

Oh, and the Mafia have limits if it's just arsing around - beatings etc, not bullets, depending on how psycho the peeps are.



USA = high chance of death via random non-violent stop / challenging power / driving while black

RUSSIA = high chance of death via insulting / challenging power / otherwise extremely low

That White Horse? Not a Unicorn. It's a fucking painted donkey.

Time to own up to that Violence PCP habit already.


Spoilers: We probably know more about Gay Bars/Clubs in Russia than you.


Good to know that all I have to do in order to give my family a hiding with a clear conscience is move house. Message received.


Yeah, no.

Have you read the Law: No.

Have you a copy to hand? : No.

Have you any real interest in this barring petty shitty little CISWHITEOLDFOGEY Agitprop? : NO.

Again, Wrong Country.

Russia has mandatory ID paper Laws. i.e. you cannot not have ID papers.

Surprisingly enough, the Law is tied to these, not your location.

Fuck me. It's almost as if you're trying to fight a bear but we're a fox and a mouse instead.


I'm just starting from your level of knowledge on almost every other subject you claim to be an expert on. I do believe that makes me an authority.

Reading it is just too much like hard work, but I'm sure I can bluster instead.


Pointing out nasty bits of legislation is now 'agitprop'? You learn something new every day.


Honey-Bun, that just smacks of bitterness and hate.I know it's been 20 years or so since you were actively involved in a scientific field, but: Throw me a hard paper. One you know I can't understand.

I'll read it, do my best and post thoughts. I won't even cheat.

You can then savage me with your knowledge and powerful Mind. I'll even simper / flutter eyebrows / tear bra for you.


No, really.

Post links. 2+ years, no links = ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY.


It's all right. At least she isn't trying to do physics is this time. Some things are too painful to watch.


Simple question:

Have you actually read the Law in the original Russian or just your source link?

Simple one.

Hint: it's the latter, because I just wasted a bit of my fucking life doing your leg work that you can't be bothered to do.



I know this is fucking hard and all, but really.


Like my editing. Write a sentance from scratch or not at all!


Says the man whose 20+ years out of date.

And got busted on it, twice.

And then... kinda never posts links.

Please, do not go full MRA, it's not a pretty transformation.


Some Minds move faster and deeper than Others.

These are 15 min slices, remember?

While Drunk.

And disabled.

And bound by thin silver chains that say we can't be naughty-naughty.


You'll also note that I never claim to be an expert - there's usually a link to someone who is, however.

Unlike your posts.

Getting the idea yet?


Ok, here's your HomeLand / Lebensraum:



"I am 12 and what is this" - told you it was coming. ZZzzz.

@Peanut Gallery - Proved.

MANAMANA YT: Muppet Show: 2:34

$500 bounty on any peer reviewed paper produced by dpb. Just for shits n giggles.


[Ignore that- it's just me being cruel. We already know he has never published - and no fucking doxxing].


Sorry dpb, what were you saying about "being an expert"?


Have you actually read the Law in the original Russian?

I did. Right here, on Gosduma website:

As usual, Minevra Owl is full of shit.

The proposed (and since then passed) law explicitly limits criminal prosecution to beatings "motivated by hooliganism, as well as motivated by political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred." Beatings without permanent damage motivated by any other reason are not to be prosecuted.


Fuck off.

That's not what it says at all.

That's a #section of the Law.

Please, quote the other sections about community service and bound behaviour already and then tell us the sections (310-320) that cover domestic violence.

Do it in Russian for all I care.




We're out of your pay-grade and you're annoying us.


Oh, and for the record: This is a Mind who tore apart the recent UK Bill against drugs.

And quoted each and every section.

Quoting tiny pieces of it without references / section headers = muppet land / agitprop.


Please, quote the other sections about community service and bound behaviour already and then tell us the sections (310-320) that cover domestic violence.

Why should I?

You are the one claiming it, you find them. I'd be happy to translate them for you.

As others told you before, put up or shut up.



Do you remember that? Oh, we do. Equal Opportunities we are.

Trust me: we tear apart shitty Laws all the Time.


And no, you're being scum. The Russian Law doesn't state what you're claiming and you look like fucking muppets for claiming it does. It's explicitly modified by other clauses.

You'd be better off arguing if it ever got enforced, but that's a bit complicated for y'all agitprop.


I can translate fine on my own.

You're quoting the wrong clause about the wrong offense and not even listing the actual numbered # sections. Explicitly you're ignoring the clauses that bump the offense into higher categories.

You're shilling, and you're shit at it.


Prove it. Links.


I do not believe you even know Russian. Many times since your first "CatinaDiamond" incarnation, you've been shown to be a lying bag of hot air, and your MOD being bluster, intimidation, and put-downs. You do not intimidate me. You are an empty bag.


Read my previous statements.

It's up to you, as the instigator to then find said sections, quote them (and/or translate them) then reference them into the wider Law and then prove that this is an evuuuul Russian Law supporting domestic abuse.

Hint: I gave you the sections by number which means I have a copy of the entire fucking thing on PDF.

No, this doesn't mean I'm a evuuuul Russian agent, it means Fake News and Crap Agitprop irritates us to the extreme.


You're looking like dpb's little sister.

When I state something, I provide the links - and when I state something about Laws, I provide the exact references, not a general link to the main website.

No, it's not up to me to "prove it": you're the fucking muppets claiming low-grade agitprop as reality.


We done yet?



When have I ever attempted to "intimidate" you?

Hint: we haven't.


Note: You're getting busted on the shitty Russian Law thing 'cause it's simply not true. But please, continue the attacks.

Hint: I taught at Lomonosov Moscow State University for a while. And yes, my Russian is bad.


Note ~ that was in the 1890's, so don't blame me for the revolution or Lenin / Stalin.

And yeah: easy-peasy. 310-340, just translate and quote them.


Fucking Amateurs.


You're looking like dpb's little sister.

No links, and you "Russian" is so "bad" you do not even know that "ilya" is a male name. Despite supposedly having taught in Moscow.

You just keep proving that you are a lying bag of hot air.


Sigh. Enough already. Could you guys take it outside?


( The Malcolm Macdowell film, with lots of very rude bits - somehow seems appropriate, given the allegations swirling around Trumpolini )


So - yeah, all in all, Russia's becoming something of a hell hole. And DT admires this ...?

Yes, of course he does.
It's his model for the USSA under his "leadership".
After all Tsar Putin appears to be completely secure, having thoroughly rigged the fake democratic process he uses, which is exactly what Trumpolini & many "republicans" want to do, anyway.

Also called: "Pulling the ladder up"
Best example I know of was early Shogun Japan.


Agreed - except that, as usual "the Seagull" started the insults, has insulted at least two other posters &, also as usual, seems not to be producing, you know, actual evidence.
But, as you say, it's extremely tiresome.


Ah! Caligula! A true triumph of post-production, so to speak. Malcolm McDowell is an excellent actor, if somewhat underestimated; O Lucky Man! was superb, as was IF. And of course he was born in Leeds (more or less).

But more generally, if the president elect is proven to have an interest in what passes for trickle down economics, or similar, does it matter in the wider context? On the other hand one gathers that adultery is still illegal for members of the US armed forces. Would this apply to the CIC I wonder...?


And, given the nature of some of the Trumpolini allegations:
"Trickle Down" economics could take on a whole new meaning ......

[ I foresee some very very bad jokes emanating from this in the not-too distant future. ]


Brilliant! Does The Don have small feet as well as small hands? I think I shall call him "Little Boot" from now on. Or Donigula.


I think originally we should blame Mr Sulu, who I think originally tweeted it, and was on a roll a few days ago...


So I haven't missed much? Just for reference, this thread is at 21% Seagull (and rising).

More to your interest, if you haven't seen it, would be this:

Researchers at the University of Waterloo solved the travelling salesman problem for all the pubs in Britain, using actual road distances.

The optimal walking tour that stops at all 24,727 pubs and still gets you home safe (if very exhausted and slightly tipsy) is 45,495.2 km (28,269.4 mi) long.

Clearly something to do in stages…

Link to the TSP page at UofW:


Always remember that The Seagull argues like a 15 year old denizen of the "chans" (state opinion as indisputable fact; when someone disagrees with you whoever shouts loudest and longest with the most insults, wins), and I think that we can sure that most of the regular readers have are sufficiently intelligent (and mature and self-assured enough) to ignore the noise and teenage temper tantrums.

Also instructive to back-track through her various assaults last night, and note that in the attack on Peter Murphy he posted an initial link, and ilya187 also posted a link, yet The Seagull posted no links to any Russian laws, despite demanding them in almost every post.

Perhaps we shall also ignore the usual "I'm not threatening you, I just know who you are and can ruin your life when I choose, but I don't do doxxing" nonsense? (Perhaps it's another simulated 4Chan attack?)


Their solution is wrong, for values of wrong that mean that they've excluded some actual pubs, and included some hotels. Vis Like this drinking trip of the Hebrides: arrive by ferry from Oban, slake your thirst at the Am Politician in South Uist, wet your whistle at the Langass Lodge in Loch Eport, polish your pint at Harmersay House in Lochmaddy and get one for the road in the Carlton at Stornoway, before jumping on the ferry back to the mainland at Ullapool (where you can continue indulging at the Ceilidh Place).

This omits the Low Flier in Balivanich and Westford Inn in Cladach Kirkibost (no accomodation so clearly pubs ) but includes Langass Lodge and Harmersay House (both have restaurants and rooms as well as bars so clearly hotels)


Yep, it has several long standing (if terrible) pubs missing from my area as well, while including several new bars.
But that's due to faulty data from the Pubs Galore source, no reflection on the TSP solve.


And I only discussed "pubs omitted" and "hotels included"; if I'd considered "hotels excluded" as well there are 3 or 4 in Barra that I know of, so that's another entire island to visit, 3 that I know of in South Uist, 2 hotels and a restaurant in Benbecula, 2 more hotels in North Uist.

I don't know Lewis and Harris well enough to say more than that there are omissions of hotels for sure and probably pubs there.

Similarly I don't know Skye and Lochalsh well enough to iterate names, but there are hotels and probably pubs there.

So the maths look impressive, but the underlying research is hopeless!


So the maths look impressive, but the underlying research is hopeless!

Clearly more research is needed. Apply for a research grant and assemble a team. I suspect you'll find no shortage of volunteers :-)


And, for a better location of suitable hostelries use CAMRA's on-line guide:
What Pub


This brings up a serious question: Is Russia now a developed country?

Damned if I know... Last year the media were celebrating when some of our universities made it to some rating of "Best Higher Education Establishments in developing and Third World countries". So... I guess Moscow still qualifies but Russia possibly does not...


And it's not complete either; see #465 ref the "Low Flier" (no real ale, but that's no surprise in the Western Isles).


the 1st world etc...
the first world countries are those aligned with the USA
the second are those aligned with the USSR
the third are unaligned


Thank you very much.


This is for people who think their biological information can replace passwords

I realize that most fingerprint scanners also scan for blood flowing through the finger. I don't know if most mobile devices are that advanced. This is also important for eye recognition.


Conan Doyle was there first:
The Adventure of the Norwood Builder"


From Wikipedia:

'Over the past few decades since the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the term Third World has been used interchangeably with the least developed countries, the Global South, and developing countries to describe poorer countries that have struggled to attain steady economic development, a term that often includes "Second World" countries like Laos. This usage, however, has become less preferred in recent years.[1]'

Seems the meaning of this phrase keeps changing. My intended meaning was the one shown above.


Yes ... still wonder why gloves haven't made a fashion/security come-back.

Plus, there's this really interesting condition ...

'The immigration delay disease: Adermatoglyphia–inherited absence of epidermal ridges'

Presented as a poster at the 69th Annual Meeting of the Society of Investigative Dermatology in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on May 6-9, 2009.


Yeah, Third World has gotten spun out of control, hasn't it?

Originally, it was about a group of countries that tried to stay out of the Capitalist (US=1st world, oddly) vs. communist (USSR=2nd world) Cold War spat by being nonaligned, which is where the term originally came from. Then it got shifted to mean poor, generally former colonies. The resource looting and other issues associated with colonization were swept hard under the rug.

Now we're stuck with terms like "developing nation," which still hides a lot of the crisis capitalism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism that impoverish them. Another problematic term is "failing/failed state," where there's a geographic area for which the Westphalian nation-state notion doesn't work as a governing principle. But since the globe is supposed to be entirely divided into nation-states, we can't talk directly about such failures, so it's a problem with the governance of said failed state.

So I guess the question "is Russia a third world state" is possibly unanswerable. The second world mostly consists of North Korea now that China, Vietnam and increasingly Cuba are adopting capitalist practices, so Russia is arguably no longer a second world country. It never could be a third world country, because it hasn't unaligned with itself.

Whether Russia is a developing country or a failed state is where things get interesting. I'd argue, based on the increasing endemic failures in the rural US, that if we can argue with a straight face that the US is a totally developed nation, then Russia is as well. After all, we've got failing infrastructure, shrinking towns, and endemic poverty all over the US, just as the Russians do. Their problems may or may not differ in degree, but I don't think they're different from us in kind.

Heck, next we'll be arguing about whether China is a civilized nation because it has so many poor peasants...


Ah, yes, the joys of capitalism ... or how to turn your rural population into a new 'mobile class'.

Wikipedia ... Caution: Sources/citations still in dispute:

'The huge growth of the floating population is due to the Reform and Opening policy. After 1979, capitalist-owned enterprises became responsible for most Chinese economic growth and job creation. There are several important reasons for the dramatic development of the non-state sector after 1979. First, before 1979, the Chinese economy was a shortage economy with a demand much higher than the supply. Second, after 1985, there was a huge amount of surplus rural labor. Third, there was a serious shortage of services in urban areas. Fourth, in 1978, Deng stopped Mao's policy of "up to the mountains and down to the countryside." A need was fulfilled by illegitimate private sectors willing to hire migrant workers, and the government made no move to stop it. Even with the systematic ignoring of the residence permit law, it is still a barrier to urbanization (urbanization lags 20% behind industrialization) and it allows for discrimination against migrant workers.'


Strange because have heard raves about Moscow's Faculty of Math going back over 20 years.

The below shows an interesting bunch of metrics on education and types of knowledge including this very apt example:

'According to the research firm IPSOS Mori, the United States ranks second out of fourteen countries in general ignorance about social statistics such as teen pregnancy, unemployment rates, and voting patterns. Italy is the most ignorant of the fourteen countries.'


Interesting, according to Wikipedia, Conan Doyle bought the idea from someone else.


Absolutely unrelated to anything in this thread (Well, I think it's unrelated -- sometimes it's hard to tell), the following appeared. I post it because it seems like the sort of thing OGH might use and, now that I think of it, somewhat similar to Steve Stirling's "Stone Dogs."

[much snippage]

One moment, a mouse nonchalantly shares a cage with a cricket; the next, the rodent leaps on the insect and rips its head off—all because a scientist flipped a switch. For the first time, researchers have hacked into the part of the brain that makes animals hunt, using lasers to target specific neurons. What’s more, they’ve found this hunting center in a surprising place: the region of the brain responsible for fear.