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Paging Agent 007

History: is it about kings, dates, and battles, or the movement of masses and the invisible hand of macroeconomics?

There's something to be said for both theories, but I have a new, countervailing theory about the 21st century (so far); instead othe traditional man on a white horse who leads the revolutionary masses to victory, we've wandered into a continuum dominated by Bond villains.

Consider three four five, taken at random:

Mr X: leader of a chaotic former superpower with far too many nuclear weapons, Mr X got his start in life as an agent of SMERSH the KGB. Part of its economic espionage directorate, tasked with modernizing a creaking command economy in the 1980s, Mr X weathered the collapse of the previous regime and after a turbulent decade of asset stripping rose to lead a faction of billionaire oligarchs, robber barons, and former secret policemen. Mr X trades on his ruthless reputation—he is said to have ordered a defector murdered by means of a radioisotope so rare that the assassination consumed several months' global production—and despite having an official salary on the order of £250,000 he has a private jet with solid gold toilet seats and more palaces than you can shake a stick at. Also nuclear missiles. (Don't forget the nuclear missiles.) Said to be dating the ex-wife of Mr Y. Exit strategy: change the constitution to make himself President-for-Life. Attends military parades on Red Square, natch. Bond Villain Credibility: 10/10

Mr Y: Australian multi-billionaire news magnate. (Currently married to a former supermodel and ex-wife of Mick Jagger.) Owns 80% of the news media in Australia and numerous holdings in the UK and USA, including satellite TV channels, radio stations, and newspapers. Reputedly had Arthur C. Clarke on speed-dial for advice about the future of communications technology. Was the actual no-shit model upon whom Elliot Carver, the villain in "Tomorrow Never Dies", the 18th Bond movie, was based. Exit strategy: he's 86, leave it all to the kids. Bond Villain Credibility: 10/10

Mr Z: South African dot-com era whiz kid who made a fortune before he hit 30. Instead of putting his money into a VC fund he set his sights higher. By 2007 he had a tropical island base complete with boiler-suited minions from which he launched satellites and around which he drove an electric car: has been photographed wearing a tuxedo and stroking a white cat in his launch control center. Currently manufacturing electric cars in bulk, launching absolutely gigantic rockets, and building a hyperloop from Boston to Washington DC. Exit strategy: retire on Mars. Bond Villain Credibility: 9/10 (docked one point for trying too hard—the white cat was a plush toy.)

Mr T: Unspeakably rich New York property speculator and reality TV star, who, possibly with help from Mr X, managed to get himself into the White House. Tweets incessantly at 3AM about the unfairness of it all and how he's being persecuted by the false news media and harassed by crooked politicians while extorting fractional-billion-dollar bribes from middle eastern regimes. Has at least as many nukes as Mr X. Rather than a solid gold toilet seat, he has an entire solid gold penthouse. In fact, he probably has heavy metal poisoning from all that gold. (It would explain a lot.) Bond Villain Credibility: 10/10

Mrs M: After taking a head-shot, M was reconstituted as a cyborg using a dodgy prototype brain implant designed by Sir Clive Sinclair and parachuted into the Home Office to pursue a law-and-order agenda. Following an entirely self-inflicted constitutional crisis and a party leadership challenge in which all the rival candidates stabbed each other in the back, M strode robotically into 10 Downing Street, declared herself to be the Strong and Stable leader the nation needs, and unleashed the world's most chilling facial tic. Exit strategy: (a) Brexit, (b) ... something to do with underpants ... (c) profit? Bond Villain Credibility: 6/10 (down from 8/10 before the 2017 election fiasco.)

I think there's a pattern here: don't you? And, more to the point, I draw one very useful inference from it: if I need to write any more near-future fiction, instead of striving for realism in my fictional political leaders I should just borrow the cheesiest Bond villain not already a member of the G20 or Davos.



Not sure your Mr. T really qualifies -- he's more a Bond Villain wannabe who's been shuffled into his present position by the machinations of Mr. X. Beyond not being smart enough to be credible as a villain in an actual Bond movie, his riches are largely illusory -- he nearly went broke multiple times, his casinos were busted for money-laundering activities (for associates of Mr. X) and went bankrupt when they had to desist, and most of the property with his name on it is built and owned by other people renting his name.

(Besides, "Mr. T" is the stage name for an American actor who ... probably doesn't deserve to be tarred with the association.)


On the flip side, for "T"s, there's also this guy.


Oh yeah, the libertarian tech billionaire who wants to stay young forever by transfusing blood from youngsters is a solid contender. If only he had, say, some sort of evil genius base or global takeover plan?


I am deeply sceptical about all the stuff concerning Mr. T being a catspaw of Mr. X. The latter, whatever he may be, is no fool, and only a fool would hire T for anything.

So how did T reach his present exalted eminence? Because he is an all-American boy, a product not of the KGB's Fifth Directorate for Special Measures, or whatever its called, but a growth of the Shriners, the Grand Order of Elks. . . and the Klan.


Yeah, this is why Z reminds me of L. Ron Hubbard, and Thiel could be fitted for that suit too.

As this very blog has shown over the years, the idea of interplanetary colonization is essentially silly, and Z is a very silly boy, who just like LRH has cobbled together his own personal cult out of half-remembered sci-fi.

Putting it that way, though, I suppose Thiel looks more like one of Mr. Lovecraft's creations.


The name's Bond, etc. ;) Some argument about whether Elliot Carver was based on Mr Y or on Robert Maxwell. It's a shame Cap'n Bob is no longer with us, as the thesis would have worked just as well with him.


Re. Charlie's "History: is it about kings, dates, and battles, or the movement of masses and the invisible hand of macroeconomics?"

Yes. And I'm not being facetious, really. Historians have always suffered from the same bias (mental disorder?) as scientists, which is to portray everything as having a single overarching answer that rules out all other possibilities. There are definitely cases when this reductionism works. But when it comes to complex systems, I suspect the search for a single explanation ("one ring to rule them all") has led us astray about as often* as it has led to breakthroughs.

* I make no claim of statistical rigor or quantification here; the actual ratio is likely to be far different from 1, though it will vary among fields of study. Substitute "often" if you prefer.

My reading of the history of science and of the science [sic] of history is this: When two or more hypotheses provide strong explanations of a phenomenon, the odds are good that both are correct to some extent, and that the ultimate explanation will combine elements of both. This is certainly true in my own science (ecology).

In the case of history, it seems inescapable that all three factors act and interact simultaneously. Battles can clearly change history; imagine the world if, for example, the American Revolution had been crushed by military force or if Napolean had won at Waterloo. The "great man" theory also operates; World War II would have proceeded very differently had Germany been led by an incrementalist who was content to consolidate his gains and his supply chains before opening new fronts. And as for economics, it's worth remembering that this field's tentacles extend far beyond the flows of money most of us associate with it; at least if we return to basic principles, economics describes the flow of resources, which are inextricably bound up with the broad social movements that create these flows (macroeconomics) and human psychology (microeconomics). Leaders and battles change these flows; the flows constrain what leaders and battles can achieve. It's all inter-related.

This should not be surprising because ecology and economics start with the same etymological and philosophical foundations: flows of resources within complex systems. But unlike ecologists, economists are generally rewarded for ignoring inconvenient facts that might undermine single-cause elegant theories. Ecologists tend to get ruthlessly savaged in the literature when they try this kind of dodge. This greatly discourages, but does not eliminate, such behavior.

Charlie: "if I need to write any more near-future fiction, instead of striving for realism in my fictional political leaders I should just borrow the cheesiest Bond villain"

Which would be a ton of fun to read -- as gallows humor. But I think you're far too skilled a writer to settle for such a simple choice. I'd like to see you take the concept of the Bond villain as seriously as you take your other premises and turn this notion into social satire rather than mere parody.


Mr. PT is the founder of a defense contractor whose products are designed to help intelligence agencies sort through large volumes of information. It is named after a magic item ("Palantir") which was famously corrupted by malign forces in the book that introduced it.

He's also well known as a proponent of "seasteading" -- that is, of allowing rich people to escape all government control by forming ship-borne polities in international waters -- and as a funder of such "alt-right" luminaries and theoreticians as neo-feudalist and race theorist Mencius Moldbug. (Mr. PT is an inventor of the business-model-free startup that pays Moldbug under his wallet name, Curtis Yarvin.)

BTW, what I said about Mr. T is that he's been shuffled into his present position by Mr. X, not that he takes orders from Mr. X (though even so, his desperation to please Mr. X oozes out of him). And as regards Mr. T's present job, what's in Mr. X's interests is less that he do it any particular way, than simply that he do it very, very badly. If that is all Mr. X gets for his efforts on behalf of Mr. T, they will have been well worthwhile. Anything else is a bonus.

(Besides, the other candidate for Mr. T's present position was certain to act against Mr. X's interests. Mr. T, much less so. That's also worth quite a lot, even if Mr. T does not take orders regarding any matter in particular.)


* "inventor" -> "investor". Oops.


I'm not sure Mr Y is actually Australian any more (Wikipedia says not since 1985).
And I'm not sure that 007 is really the being to put down this current mess of villains. After all, Bond is a tool of the government, specifically the British one, and does what's in the best interest of that government. And the government really doesn't look like it actually currently cares about, well, anything important, except to make things worse. (Speaking as an outsider who doesn't actually pay that much attention to British politics at the minute.)

On the subject of near-future fiction, I really wouldn't say no, as I love your stuff. It's how I got hooked on your writing in the first place...


Disagree. All LRH ever built was pyramid schemes. In contrast, Mr X has invested his assets in grand infrastructure programs — hyperloop, reusable space launch systems, electric cars, a forthcoming electric freight truck, giant battery and PV factories, the forthcoming global internet satellite swarm.

Setting aside the Mars shtick, this is (a) engineering on a heroic scale — the lineal descendant of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his peers — and (b) the sort of infrastructure we need for the 21st and 22nd century. While X's peers are mostly trying to "disrupt" existing stable businesses (like taxi cabs) and profit by setting themselves up as a monopoly middle-man, or to write the most addictive social game available and monetize it on peoples' phones. In other words, trash people don't need.


neo-feudalist and race theorist Mencius Moldbug

About 25 years ago my GF (later wife) and I crashed in Curtis's spare room when he was a student at Berkeley. His first words to us? "Charlie, Feorag? Dudes! Come on in! Let me show you our lizard room!" Because he and his house-mates had an entire room set up as a vivarium for their lizards — honking great iguanas and the odd pet snake.

I still can't quite shed the suspicion that the whole neoreactionary thing is a very elaborate practical joke on his part that got slightly out of control.


"In contrast, Mr X has invested his assets in grand infrastructure programs..."

shouldn't he be Mr. Z (aka Elon Musk)? Mr. X is the first one in the list, the one with missiles and coming from a state agency with a sword and a shield in its logo...


We seem to be losing track of the identities of X, Y and Z. Perhaps they should be assigned code names instead of initials...


Naming our villains X, Y and Z lets us see them for what they are - the axes of evil.


Don't forget the Kochs, Mercer, Erik Prince or the DeVos family.

Post Roosevelt, and well-into the 1980s we had laws meant to keep sociopathic business-people in check. Post Reagan/Thatcher we see those laws dissolving.

But I get your deeper drift. Bond would be best, but I'd settle for Fawn.


I love the idea of Sir Clive Sinclair as engineer of mind implants. Of course, given the tendency of Sir Clive's inventions to catch fire or explode you have to wonder about the intelligence of someone who would affect it (for those unfamiliar with his creations, he actually caused an international incident when one of his calculators exploded in the pocket of a Russian diplomat. The KGB assumed, not unreasonably, that this must be malice, not incompetence). Sir Clive in general is like the parody version of a Bond Villain...something out of Austin Powers maybe.

I have to say as a NYC resident, the depressing thing is I always assumed "British Engineering" had become a punch line involving some combination of British Leyland, Sir Clive Sinclair and Lucas Electrics, and yet the UK managed to get Crossrail done while we are able to build a little subway of barely 3 stations at twice the price.


I've always regarded grand historical theories as filters rather than solutions. Sometimes you look at something through the "Great Man" lens and everything comes into the sharpest focus. On the other hand, sometimes Dialectical Materialism gives the best results. The idea that only one theory explains everything is inherently naive.


Sounds like you need to get better friends!


Actually, LRH did more than that. He invented a pseudo-religion that took naive idiots, and left them with suds for brains. But I agree that doesn't rate more than 3/10, if that - Mr Y can make that claim, without even needing a religion.

And you have missed the best point about Mr X, where he has got his opponents to inflate his reputation well beyond the reality, and FAR beyond his capability to actually deliver, though admittedly his main opponent country wets its pants at the thought of being invaded by Somalia.

But I will add Mr K, who is managing to ruin, er, run a country while not having any formal position of authority to do so. That's a Bond villain character trait not shared by yours examples. But I agree that he's not in the same league.


In doubt, with neoreactionaries like Mencius Moldburg I'd still follow the wisdom of Arnaut Amalric at the Albigensian War... :-), lizards or not. Mayne some of those lizards secrete some mind-altering drugs, or have glowing green worms in their eyes...

and Peter Thiel may be a Libertarian, but so is David Brin, and they differ like, oh...Pol Pot and Ed Milliband on the Left?

"While X's peers are mostly trying to "disrupt" existing stable businesses (like taxi cabs) and profit by setting themselves up as a monopoly middle-man"...
I'm not sure that internet-based middlemen (Uber, AirBnB, Flixbus...) will manage to turn into true monopolies the way the older business models they compete with are already. Don't let me started on taxicab licenses in Rome.


The sort of infrastructure we'll need in this century and the next should centre around A)Carbon capture and sequestration, B) Algae-based biofuels, and C) Perhaps a soletta, so that a grateful humanity can singing a rousing chorus or two of "the sun has get his hat on".

Z's claim that he will save humanity by building a Mars base is the sort of risible nonsense a 12 year old boy would come up with. And this is one point where he is comparable to Hubbard - Hubbard also claimed to be in the humanity-saving business, but he was a fraud too.


barely three axes of evil? if you believe that evil can be plotted in a simple 3D Cartesian space... given how many axes of evil are outh there, representing the true evilspace would require a geometry that either makes you a PHANG, levels Wolverhampton or gets you Katzenberger's :-)


It explains the Maybot, for sure. OGH may have seen the cover of the New Statesman :-)


There's another Mr. Z, the one who controls what 2 billion people see through the information-control application he built while at Harvard, the one who is definitely not except maybe running for White House in 2020, and who has discovered that the secret ingredient in the internet is wage-slaves, lots of wage-slaves, screening out the unpleasant underbelly.

Secret lairs abound; refuses to allow graven images to be made of him except by authorized creators; exit strategy: see above.


I have no opinion about the dimensionality of evilspace, but I agree that it is almost certainly greater than 3.


Or he discovered that its impossible to satirize the U.S. Far Right.


What's discouraging is that if you read history, you'll find lots more of 'em.

Seems schlock authors have some sort of insight after all.


Also submitted for your approval:

Mr. ZK, the proprietor of a web site which he has convicned a substantial fraction of all humans to use to moderate their communications with close friends and family. This web site nevertheless uses complex and opaque algorithms to determine what information they will actually get to see (of the various things their friends and family have posted, and paid advertisements). The only announced goal of these algorithms is to improve "engagement" -- that is, to maximize the amount of time that people spend on the site, ideally making its use a regular and compulsive feature of their daily lives. They have on one occasion acknowledged selectively altering the emotional tone of peoples' feeds as part of an experiment. After the blowback in bad publicity, disclosure of such experiments has ceased -- but the experiments themselves almost certainly haven't. Indeed, Mr. ZK's company has staffed up a department of world-class AI experts, the equal of any university department anywhere, to improve text classification and image understanding in service of these undisclosed algorithms, to allow them to make more finely tuned decisions about what people actually see in the many hours per week addicted web-site users spend looking at it.

(Indeed, this web site seems to be quite happy to propagate emotionally laden, factually dubious political articles. And why not, in terms of their one stated goal? If it keeps people reading, that's "improved engagement"!)

While encouraging his web site's users to disclose as much as possible (the better to characterize them and filter their data feeds), and surreptitiously using technical tricks to figure out what other web sites they use, and how, Mr. ZK himself is notoriously private -- buying up the houses next to his own main residence so he won't have neighbors, building a massive wall around his Hawaii vacation property, and hiring cops with discipline problems to serve as his private security.

Oh, one more thing: while not announcing any ambitions much beyond CEO of his company and associated charity work, Mr. ZK has gone on a "get to know the country" tour of the American hinterlands, which is known to have been stage-managed in part by top shelf political consultants.

An interesting fellow, the way we are all living in interesting times.


Canadian readers may care to speculate on the true identity of Mr. J, a seemingly positive character who looks more and more negative the closer you look at his record (though he's still better than his predecessor Mr. H).

French readers can tell us about Mr. E who is the first French president in modern times to have not done military service, something which has not prevented him from doing military cosplay at every opportunity:


Re: 'History: is it about kings, dates, and battles, or the movement of masses ...?'

Or about shaping the consensus of group identity: the larger surviving group after all the battles have been fought creates the new identity. This shared identity is what has allowed the group to persist over time thereby increasing its numbers which in turn increases its strength. So your Bond villains need more than a simple exit strategy, they also need a succession plan based on gamed identity.


While Z (or should I say, Musk) gets most coverage for the Mars thing his near-term goals are a lot more prosaic: (a) kill off gasoline for transport by rolling out electric cars that people actually aspire to own rather than using as the punchline of a bad joke, (b) use automotive demand to pay for construction of huge battery factories, (c) roll out photovoltaic panels that use domestic/grid versions of the batteries from (b) as a dark-time reserve and (d) kill off coal power; (e) use his cheap(er) (semi)reusable launchers to launch a huge cluster of broadband internet satellites (similar in concept to Teledesic but bigger, faster, and cheaper), and (f) disrupt demand for air passenger travel by building hyperloop city-to-city connections powered by (b)/(c).

Hyperloop and the giant internet satellite thing look like stuff that started as blue-sky ideas that he suddenly realized he had enough capital to actually develop some time in 2016. Tesla has a market cap of over $50Bn, SpaceX is estimated at $11-12Bn, Solar City was acquired by Tesla for around $6Bn but had astronomical growth potential ... basically he's sitting on top of a pile of vertical integrated enterprises that feed off each other and all exhibit the same kind of double-digit percentage growth rates as Apple from 2005-2015. And that's without putting any kind of figures on the Really Boring Company.

The key point most folks miss is that Musk has a stick up his ass about global climate change and is determined to get us off the fossil carbon fuel cycle ... and has worked out how to make a profit by replacing all that obsolete infrastructure.


How long until they shoot him?


The key point most folks miss is that Musk has a stick up his ass about global climate change and is determined to get us off the fossil carbon fuel cycle ... and has worked out how to make a profit by replacing all that obsolete infrastructure.

Then here in Finland we get these cartoon villains who see the 'green technology' thing and try to sell off peat as a green, renewable energy source. There was a public ad campaign about the benefits of peat, done with relatively large amounts of money. The 'facts' in the ads were quickly proven false, and both the peat producers' association and the ad agency responsible got quite much negative publicity.


First, I agree with Eric Flint: strongly opposed to the Great Man theory of history. We both think it's much more a steam engine time that produces the "Great Man" desired...well, for some values of "Great Man". Any individual will shade it, perhaps heavily (Picasso, anyone?), but the requirements have to be there in the first place.

Next...Charlie, it may be worse than that. Reading your original post, and getting through the comments, I've gotten to an even less pleasant place: which one is Marc Antony, which Lepidus, and which... Octavian?

Admittedly, we know who *thinks* he's Octavian (or maybe Julius without the incident in the Forum)....


Don't know what cover you're referring to. Here in the US, I googled NS, and get web page. And scrolled to the bottom. "Was Billy Budd Black"?

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! Melville wouldn't do black. Besides, Budd was too fucking stoooopid, and Melville I've *loathed* since my first year in college, right out of high school, when my friggin' instructor spent TWO BLOODY MONTHS on Billy Budd, and his Christlike (tm) symbolism, and on and on and on, on that 66 page piece of crap.


Mrs M: - 1/10 - utterly lost & running in ever-decreasing circles.
Only surviving because offical "opposition" is even more clueless & her "supporters"W have no replacement that will pass public muster
NOTE: I have not read past the first part of the intro at this p[oint (!)


And if Mr Z even manages to achieve half of that stuff I'd elect him World President.

I would note hoewever that his ex-wife^2 is probably a good model for the femme fatale that distracts Bond during the fateful scene where the world is in the balance.


Noticed the appraent profound change of gear by Brit guvmint toady, regarding self-generation & storage of electricty?
Now there is something to watch


Odd how discussion of Bond villainy on the part of Mr. Z seems to be short of, well... villainy. (I haven't got much, to be sure; he's as retrograde on sexual and racial harrassment at Tesla plants as the Silicon Valley background would lead you to expect, but that's about it.)


Well, yes, but there is little doubt that Great Men can make quite a major difference, and it is doubtful that an alternative would have caused comparable effects. Alexander, Ghengis Khan, Shaka (Zulu), Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler (sorry!), etc. Yes, the conditions were there, but someone else would have caused different effects.

Bugger Octavian - we're already well into the days of Caligula and Nero.


I'd like to nominate a certain "gentleman" currently sheltering inside a South American Embassy in London to avoid extradition for sexual assault. He's always struck me as a second-rate Bond villain. Not really one of the top rate villains, but maybe from Roger Moore's later years when "Bond" was getting a bit long in the tooth.


In terms of history, don't forget demographics.

The nations which had the greatest demographic basically set the culture and tempo for colonization.

(France after the Napoleonic Wars had a low fertility rate s.t. it rose from 33 million to 40 million at the start of WWI). Imagine Algeria if France had the UK's population growth in the 19th century?

Likewise, the Netherlands and Denmark had slower population growths during industrialization. Imagine if these countries had had the population growth of Germany or the UK during that time?


Looking at your list... the conditions were there, and Gharlane of Eddore found a convenient human puppet each time...


Dr. No would seem to be a good candidate.


I think "planning to gather control over a large fraction of internet infrastructure into the hands of one massive capitalist" comes pretty high on the villainy scale. It's bad enough already with Apple, Google and Facebook; I'd like to see them all disintegrate, and I hope one of Mr Z's rockets falls on his head before another whole and even less escapable sector goes the same way.

There's also the angle that "being a massive capitalist" is itself ample proof of villainy, and the question of exactly how the festering sore presents is just a detail...


I pity the fool who confuses Trump with Mr T.


ROTFLMAO!!!!! I need to pass that cover on.


Yes, but so did Mentor of Arisia, and I'm having trouble... unless, I dunno, Bernie? (I'd be glad to play the part, but I have *no* "traction", I mean, who's going to listen to me and go out and Save the World, even when I have all the answers....


Classically, Bond villains were only evil if you were a 1950s captain of what was left of the British Empire. So: in addition to malignant plans to bring down the British Crown, you could get on M's little list of targets for 007 by, oh, cheating at golf (and trying to rip off the US gold stockpile or put it beyond reach), cheating at cards, being a mobster in a former colony turned tax haven, being a communist, but most of all, by being what today we would recognize as a high-risk venture capitalist, like Blofeld.

Bond was an assassin working for a Socialist government to bump off threats to its economic well-being such as competitive offshore startups that could run rings around its creaky state-owned enterprises. Or so Ernst told me when I interviewed him (in retirement) for the appendix of "The Jennifer Morgue".


He's also one of the few who have noticed that rebuilding society along decarbonized lines requires a LOT of money to change hands, which means that there are fortunes to be made. To me, this is one of the more startling things about the allegedly pro-business republicans (and democrats): they're NIMBYing themselves out of fortunes by clinging to fossil fuels. It's like the sunk cost fallacy on the grand scale.

Anyway, do the intelligence agencies even use single letters, aside from MI-6?

I'd suggest, for codenames
Mr. Pusher
Mr. Mordor
Mr. Stinky
Agent Orange
Ms. Hunh

And notice, you pretty much figured who I'm talking about.


Oh, and we can include others, like Mr. Facepalm, Mr. Frackergrin, and the OilPatch Brothers.


Macroeconomics? There's a lot more to the world than money.

I'd say there are things going on, at the most abstract level: karma and black swans. Karma, in the very strict Hindu sense of cause and effect, are the trends and patterns that are working out all around us. Forests grow up, droughts happen, floods happen, wars happen and require rebuilding, all that. A lot of the genius of "religions" like Taoism is in the idea that sometimes you've just got to deal with the tides of life.

This stuff is semi-predictable and quantifiable. I hesitate to use the word "trends" for this because much of it is non-linear: ebb and flow, building up critical mass, and so on.

Then there's the black swans. It's not just Great Men, although having the right genius show up in the right time and place can make all the difference in the world, just as not having the right genius when you need him (or her) can cause things to fall apart. More generally, it's new inventions, unpredictable catastrophes (like the Hawaiian eruption that paved the way for Kamehameha to take over by eliminating the army of his faction's biggest rival right before he was born), and so on.

I will agree with Charlie that now is a good time for black swans. For one thing, there are so many people around that we're more likely to have the right genius hit the right spaciotemporal coordinates and change things unpredictably. We're also in a period of intense globalization, which implies a bunch of things:
--Epidemics, epizootics, and epiphytotics can spread faster than they ever could before, and our infrastructure to fight them (public health, agricultural inspections, county ag workers, epidemiologists, vet schools, and plant pathology programs) are in shreds.
--We're all interconnected. In the past, problems in one part of the world had trouble reaching other parts of the world because slow travel times attenuated the influence each part of the globe had on the other. There was some interesting work back in the 1970s by Lessa about survival of societies on small, oceanic islands, and the groups that were on single islands did a lot worse than did the ones who were in archipelagos that didn't really talk to each other (or who could actually migrate from island to island). One great example was an island pair, where people periodically coped with bad conditions on one island by recolonizing the other island. When the missionaries came along, they forced people to settle on both islands, and starvation became an endemic problem. It's always problematic to scale up, but I'm not sure a One Earth system is as survivable as multiple squabbling countries separated by swaths of wilderness.
--Inventions spread much faster now, so there's a relative advantage to disruption.
--The scale of things messes with people's heads. We seem to be wired to solutions on the scale of Dunbar's Number (e.g. the best solutions involve 150 people). This plays out in some bad ways, such as billionaires thinking a small cadre of rich men can effectively run the world (they can disrupt and thereby conquer the world, but actually running it is much harder). It also means that most programs for sustainability and back to the land movements (Permaculture, for instance), think that small village equivalents are the only right or just way for people to work. This doesn't work when there are seven billion people around. More worrisome, people with a small-numbers mindset often seem to think that the solution is to tear down existing systems to get to that small-numbers utopia, not realizing how many of them are only alive because the clunky, suboptimal, big-numbers systems actually exist and provide a lot of benefits.

I could go on, but it's worth thinking that it's bigger than Great Men Vs. Macroeconomics. It's also not just black swan time, it's a time when things could fall apart simply because people stop caring to keep them working. So if we're going into speculative fiction, we need to cheer on not just the great heroes, but also the little people who keep things going until they can hand their endless tasks off to their worthy successors.


Heteromeles noted: "Macroeconomics? There's a lot more to the world than money."

I think that was pretty much my point. Was that somehow unclear?

In any event, I stayed away from karma and the like. Scope creep, leading inevitably to a rejected PhD History thesis. *G*


Understandable. It's too bad that the original idea of karma has been so encrusted with folklore that it's unusable.

I'll take the blame for any lack of clarity and simply assume I read it too fast.


Odd how discussion of Bond villainy on the part of Mr. Z seems to be short of, well... villainy. (I haven't got much, to be sure; he's as retrograde on sexual and racial harassment at Tesla plants as the Silicon Valley background would lead you to expect, but that's about it.)

The Bond villain usually has a public persona as a great benefactor to mankind as cover for his underlying nefarious scheme. The plot hasn't developed far enough yet to say whether Mr. Z has an underlying nefarious scheme or not.


By the way, giggling Bond villains would love a world where lots of people traveled in hyperloops.

I mean, what could possibly go wrong when you have an unaerodynamic vehicle traveling at speeds greater than Mach 1 in some sort of vacuum with little clearance all around? All you need is to let in some air and the whole thing turns, literally, sucktastic. With a big boom or 20.

While I think the US east coast is a slightly better environment than California, in that at least the tubes don't have to cross any highly active earthquake faults, it's not a great environment. There's already a lot of stuff in the ground around there, and he'd have to burrow below the water table for a good part of the length just to mix existing pipes and subways. Keeping the tubes in a decent vacuum will be tricky, and repairs will be hideously expensive, unless he somehow figures out magically cheap pressure doors to isolate small segments so that they can be repressurized for maintenance.

Anyway, the idea of using pneumatic tubes and vactrains has been around for, what, 150 years? And they've been pushed as people movers for much of that time. In this case, I'd be more interested in the technology, not if someone sets up a 100 meter working model, but if Mr. Stinky down-scales his technology, and sets up small scale hyperloops within cities to move material between hubs and pick-up centers to avoid clogged freeways. He could set up a small parcel delivery service within any major city, just by laying hyperloops from the warehouses at the edge of town to the disbursement centers within easy car distance of each district, so that the couriers didn't have to use clogged freeways to move parcels to their destinations. If he can't move parcels in a cost-effective way across a few city miles, why does anyone think that moving people hundreds of miles will be any more feasible?


At the risk of sounding cynical, someone has looked at what Gideon stood to gain from pushing Fracking, wondered where their cut was and couldn't find it. They've looked for a different system to get their own pockets lined and suddenly we have a big lurch in policy.

Now, personally I think this is a far better idea than fracking. But it doesn't mean it's actually being done for any sensible reasons, like a good evidence base.

I heard, I think it was Baroness Warsi talking about the Prevent Strategy. Remember this is a Tory peer and former member of the Cabinet. She said, in so many words, there is no evidence to support it and no one is looking for it. It supports their prejudices and it looks good, so they just assume it works. I'm willing to admit that although I like this idea and I can see it might work I haven't seen anything like a costed proposal or any sort of proper evidence for it.


One name - Hank Scorpio


Does XJ fit into this schema? Heads a very large country with neomercantilist leanings and a modest number of nuclear weapons, builds its own archipelagos for somewhat obscure reasons, inscrutably Oriental, etc.


If he can't move parcels in a cost-effective way across a few city miles, why does anyone think that moving people hundreds of miles will be any more feasible?

Because getting parcels up to mach 1 in a city scale system is harder on the parcels than getting people up to the same speed over a hundred kilometres? Scaling effects mean that over short hops you don't want to go as fast, so vacuum becomes less relevant, so the whole hype-loop thing stops being a good idea.

Whether it's a good idea at all is a different question.

What I keep thinking is that we already have the technology to do 90% of what hypeloop does and it's old technology that is well understood. California isn't weird or special in having fault lines, but somehow Shinkasen didn't kill anyone when the 7.4 quake hit recently. Searching for "shinkasen earthquake" returns a lot of very boring results "trains delayed by 6.9 earthquake"... really? That's all? Delayed? In Melbourne trains are cancelled every year due to unexpected summer (that's Melbourne, Australia, not the little-known and likely imaginary Melbourne, England, where summer really would be unexpected).

If I wanted to shunt people around the US at ground level and great speed, I'd be asking the Japanese and European operations to submit tenders, not dreaming about vacuums.


Classically, Bond villains were only evil if you were a 1950s captain of what was left of the British Empire

Filmed Bond, or Written Bond?

Filmed Bond was taking on those who wished to destroy all life on Earth while building low-cost-to-orbit launchers, or to steal some nukes from a Vulcan and blackmail the world for six meeellion dolllers...

Written Bond had some overlap; but was taking on covert stay-behind types who were assassinating despatch riders and stealing their Top Secrets; or evil rocketeers who planned their bald, moustached revenge by dropping a V2 Moonraker on London. Lower-grade stuff, by and large...

A rather more interesting author of the era was Ted Allbeury, who spent the war working for SOE, and actually parachuted into Germany in 1945...

...I've got one of his books (Other Kinds of Treason), and it's pretty good. Much closer to Le Carre than Fleming.


Don't forget Mr. XJ's technically sophisticated schemes to dupe all the billion-plus people living in his country, or his "Belt and Road" initiative to remake much of the infrastructure of Asia, Europe, and perhaps Africa in the image of his country's past imperial glory...


Yeah, well, Assange always struck me as a deeply unpleasant little shit, probably in MOscow's pay.
His deliberate attempt to trash respectable scientific enquiry right from the start ( He was behind all the alt-right attacks on "the hockey stick", remember ) prodded my dibber-detectors.
Correct, though in that he's a second-rate nasty little crook


Or so Ernst told me when I interviewed him (in retirement) for the appendix of "The Jennifer Morgue".
What was that about "Unreliable Narrators" again, do tell?


How long until they shoot him?
Perhaps he's arranged matters so that the bullets would have no effect, and also has some MAD-level retaliatory capabilities in his back pocket.


Actually, that's an easy answer, especially for urban areas: building corridors for high speed trains is expensive, both because you've got to pay for the land and you've got all sorts of other infrastructure issues to work around. High speed rail into San Diego is a really good example of this, because the existing N-S tracks are either right along the coast and heavily built-around, or twisting all over the place through canyons. There's not a third above-ground option. You've got to go underground.

An additional problem is what Gov. Brown ran into in the Central Valley: IIRC, there's been massive land speculation in the potential corridor for high speed rail, cranking the cost waaay up. Land speculation is an endemic problem in California: it's why the state capitol is at highly floodable Sacramento, and on riverside Benicia where it was originally planned. I can only imagine what the land speculation would look like on the DC-NY corridor. I'm sure Gov. Christie would want his taste, for instance.

I suspect that one reason Japan was able to build high speed trains was because the Americans in WWII did a lot of land clearance for other reasons, and the generations that built the bullet train tracks were willing (and able) to sacrifice a lot (do similar issues apply to the TGV?). The better question is how China is doing building all those bullet trains, since they'd already rebuilt from the war before they started on the trains.


There's not a third above-ground option. You've got to go underground.

My very limited knowledge of tunnels under cities is that it's less the diameter, it's the length. Viz, the difference between one or two hypeloop tunnels and a pair of fast train tunnels is a lot of money, but in the context of a sodding huge amount of money to build the thing in the first place it's not the dominant problem.

Or is The Acronym proposing to build the hypeloop above-ground everywhere?

Although hopefully the hypeloop projectiles will be lighter than (very) fast trains so the vibration and subsonics from normal operation will be less of an issue. Possibly higher frequency too, making it easier to deal with.


Actually, it occurs to me that you could build just a single hypeloop tunnel by making it literally a loop. Sure, to go against the loop you'd make a long trip, but if it's fast that wouldn't matter much. Viz, a 200km circle going through the middle of a city would potentially mean that even with 3-4 stops a complete circuit is only 30 minutes. So going from stop 3 to stop 2 as 3-4-1-2 would be ~22 minutes rather than a theoretical 8 for the double-loop version.

Which is, IMO the big problem with short-haul hypeloop - you will spend a lot more time packing people in and out of the projectiles than you do actually hyping them. Not that that seems to affect airlines...

Also, the accelerations start to get ugly. 0..150m/s at 10m/s/s is bearable, but 150-0 at the same rate is going to be uncomfortable. And that's allowing a generous 15 seconds at each end of the journey, when for short hops they're presumably want to push a bit harder.


JA, an idealist educated by a tribe of mad philosophers, forced into armed seclusion at an embassy of an unnamed Latin American country by either police pursuing him for crimes or government agents pursing him because he embarrassed them, has been corrupted by long isolation. He now spends his time undertaking questionable political interventions.


Ah! That explains The Prince. It's a guide for 16ᵗʰ century supervillians!


Things get interesting if you've got a loop and you're going in the 500-1000 k/hr speed range: the centrifugal pull will be *fun* for the passengers. Actually, cornering fast in a hyperloop will be just as exciting as slowing down and speeding up to make the corner in a more, erm, comfortable manner.

Still, none of this is as exciting as losing the vacuum with multiple capsules at full speed inside.


Minor aside:

"steam engine time"

A variation of the idea that you don't get railways until its time for railways. But this idea fails when looking at Briton itself. Around 80-100 years before the first practical railway lines, there was interregional trade of such volume that it exceeded the available waterways to the point where it actually paid to dig artificial "rivers". Clearly the limit was technological, not sociological or economic.

(In the same way, millennia before the first spark-gap transmitter (well, receiver, the transmitters are easy), there were a myriad of methods of long distance communication, up to and including waving flags at each other from hill-tops, ships, etc. And spy-glasses would have had a market centuries before optical glass was developed. Etc etc.)

Hence I wonder if the attempts by historians in moving away from "big man history", and its parallel in "great inventions that changed the world" (with its own "big man", the inventor), has swung the pendulum too far in the other direction.


I'm glad to see someone thinking of past centuries. I was thinking about Louis XIV, who set out to control the entirety of Western Europe for the sake of his own personal glory, and mortgaged France's tax revenues for several years into the future to pay for the project. Not to mention that his entire family led lives trashy enough to embarrass a reality TV star. (See for example The Scandalous Regent, written by C.S. Lewis's brother Warren, whose prose style is a lot more sophisticated.)


"Which is, IMO the big problem with short-haul hypeloop - you will spend a lot more time packing people in and out of the projectiles than you do actually hyping them."

The model (at least in the original proposal) is packet switching. Small capsules with few people all going to the same destination, accelerated in a side tube, then ejected at full speed into the main loop (and decelerated the same way). It doesn't really work if you use the serial-stops rail model.

"none of this is as exciting as losing the vacuum with multiple capsules at full speed inside."

Depends how quickly you lose the near-vacuum. Increased air pressure in the tube simply slows the capsules. Only explosive decompression will hurt (because the air can rush through the tube at greater than the speed of sound of the surrounding air, it'll hit the first capsules like a supersonic wall, even if the capsule has stopped.)

A more common risk would be losing air from the capsules.


On the main topic, the weird thing isn't the super-villain-like nature of a few of the main players, but that super-villainy seems to be so much the default setting that the whole system is designed to accept it, even when its been explicitly set up against that specific type of villainy. Standard business practice, standard politics, etc. Everyone at high levels seems to think of themselves as either super-villains or minions with aspirations of super-villainy (not in those terms, but in how the game is played). The only change over the last decade or so is that they've stopped even pretending to pretend to be something else. They now expect you to admire them for the cleverness of their villainy. They're shocked when you don't. You must be pretending, playing your own super-villain games against them; that inter-villain rivalry is something they understand. If you're not pretending, if you genuinely despise their actions, the cognitive dissonance makes them angrier with you.


none of this is as exciting as losing the vacuum with multiple capsules at full speed inside.

I can't find it now, but somewhere I've seen footage of a supersonic ping pong ball cannon where you can actually see the ball catch fire when it hits the air at the end of the cannon.

Quite how they would even pretend to make a safe landing in the case of anything going wrong is something I'm not sure of. Even at Mach 0.5 (~150m/s) d = 1/2 a t^2 ... say allow a consistent -5g for 3 seconds you get 1/2 * 50 * 3*3 = 250m to come to a stop. That means bruising everyone, injuring some assuming seatbelts and brace position...

I would much rather see political influence used to counter the usual glibertarian nonsense and get public works back on the agenda. I think part of Musk's love for electric cars and home solar is that they are psuedo-individualised answers to collective action problems (they both rely utterly on public goods, the road and grid networks respectively). That lets him pretend to himself that he's a rugged induhvidual while he sucks down taxpayer dollars. It's a very USA-USA-USA way to do things.


Personally, I think Musk is using John D Rockefeller as his model. As I noted above, deep decarbonization towards sustainability means that you've got to rebuild large blocks of civilization, especially in the US, where most of our cities (especially in the west) were built around the profligate use of fossil fuels.

Since the electric grid is a snake's nest of local monopolies and large for-profit companies, the next best place for a(n evil) genius is to be in the battery business, with a sideline in electric vehicles. That way, you get the chance to make oodles of money off civilization saving itself. If you bet on the wrong horse (say the Koch Brothers win), there won't be much of civilization left to save. The upshot is that it doesn't matter whether you're evil or not: if you want to have money and power in the decades to come, bet on deep decarbonization, and keep your name in front of the news with the occasional reasonable sounding idea. Personally, I'm surprised he hasn't talked about revolutionizing the beanstalk yet (although he probably sees the same thing that I don't like about it). And maybe in the years to come, if we don't get climate change under control, he'll use his MoleMan technology to make buried cities where we can all live, just as was proposed back in the 1950s as a way of making the US invulnerable to nuclear war.


By the way: for Peter Thiel, his exit strategy is "retire to New Zealand and watch the nuclear war from a distance".

His expedited and secret citizenship application, successfully made five years ago, made the (national) news and had politicians scrambling to defend it when it came to light earlier in the year.


Shoot him and he deploys the SQUID. "I did it 35 minutes ago."


Since the electric grid is a snake's nest of local monopolies and large for-profit companies

He's either wisely recognising an unchangeable fact of life in the USA, or foolishly missing an opportunity to fix a stupid self-inflicted problem. I can't tell, other than to point out that there aren't examples of fractured private grids that work well, to the point where the concept of a "natural monopoly" is still often illustrated by reference to an electricity grid.

After the Google fibre disaster I can understand why he's reluctant to even try to become the private monopolist in that area, but agitating for a public grid would seem to be in his interest.


Pretty much everyone in Fleming's 1950s Bond were permanently-drunk alcoholics (reflecting the author). This tradition has been followed in the films right up to the present day. So I went looking for real life villains who look like alcoholics. And there's Mr SB, chief strategist to Mr T. Ex-navy. Builder of a (failed) self-contained lair. Leveraged banking M&A into an entertainment and media fortune. Which in turn got leveraged into political power. Without the inconvenience of needing to be elected to anything.


JA - "an idealist"
DON'T believe you.
Like I said, Assange was behind "Exposing the Global Warming Hoax"
Or had you conveniently forgotten that?


You must be pretending, playing your own super-villain games against them;
( I think, rather than Nero? ) - who would forgive almost anything, provided the person confessed to doing it for corruption/pleasure, since C believed everyone was as corrupt as he & that all "virtue" was a sham.


Random notes:

I assume most of you are familiar with Asimov's treatment of the Great man/Villain vs. Stochastic history problem in the Foundation trilogy, especially the black swan character of the Mule.

Thiel does seem to be building a lair:

Heteromeles @58: he'd have to burrow below the water table for a good part of the length just to mix existing pipes and subways

Hmmm. Seems like a Bond Villain would be looking for ways to permanently lower the water table/ drain Aquifers. Nah, we'd never be dumb enough to let that happen.

We seem to need a taxonomic distinction between out-and-out Bond villains (Rich, brilliant, twisted, evil), Henchmen (Evil, but not in charge, sweatily reporting that human trafficking numbers are only up 7% before Blofeld ejects them from the airship), and useful idiots, who aren't necessarily evil, or wise to the larger scheme.

Mr. ZK would appear to belong to the latter category, along with a lot of other tech bros of his "Hey, if it makes money it must be a good thing because, like, disruption dude!" ilk.

Agent Orange thinks he's a Bond villain, but is part henchman, part useful idiot.


"Electric Grid"
I take it you are referring to the USA?
Even given the privatisation of the natural monopoly of our grid, it is still a network, there is a mostly-uncaptured regulator & the power-Gen companies & the grid are required to work together & provide a "whole system"
I think all the other "western" European countries have "national" grids, not fragmented ones.
Please correct me if this is not the case - oh & what does Canada do, given its large distances & "empty" middle?


Could someone have a serious look at a Tesla from the viewpoint of how much of it is plastics (include things like seat and fascia padding), bearings on shafts, electrical insulation, nylon (moulded or things like carpet) rather than what form the stored energy that is converted to Ke and eventually He takes?

I don't have sufficient detail, but think that petrochemicals are still very necessary requisites for making one!


canal time

And, indeed, horse tramway time. I've been reading on the economic history (rather than the civil engineering history) development of the railways in Scotland, and horse tramways happened at a similar time to canals.


Very late entry for tech company merger contest many threads back:


A joint venture between Wikileaks and Ecuador. Ecuadorian embassy basements around the world are refitted as inviolable luxury boltholes for the well-heeled villain.

Ticker code: ASSHL


IMO plastic consumption is such a low proportion of a normal cars oil consumption such that its almost irrelevant compared to the opportunity of stopping oil burning for motive power. ~10-20% of lifetime hydrocarbon usage - I reckon based on the below.

To make 1 ton of plastics requires roughly equivalent 650 gallons of oil.

UK average urban vehicle consumption ~ 20 mpg

Therefore mileage required to "consume" 1 tonne of plastics = 13,000. (i.e. somewhere between 1 and 2 years of UK car ownership based on average mileage of 7900 miles pa)

Of course you then need to add in energy consumption of the rest of the cars material, but I would submit that even then by far the biggest oil consumer is running a car not building it.

So lets be pessimistic and assume my figures are off by another 50% taking oil consumption in building a car up to 70% of its lifetime cost. That still leaves 30% low hanging fruit of oil consumption to be reduced by an EV. Worth doing and not being absolutist about it in my book.

All handwavium of course but you get the drift - mass EV car migration is probably one of the most achievable (i.e. lots of people actually willing to do it without getting hairshirted about it) incremental steps we can take to reduce our carbon addiction - or at least use it for things other than burning.

Workings (all slightly dubious sites but I doubt they are too far off)
UK vehicle consumption
Oil in 1 ton of Plastics
average uk annual journey

Assume average car lifetime 100k miles. (My last car a was big assed Merc Estate was still on road at 130k and was only sold because it needed a part with 6 weeks lead time)


This is a bit of a diversion, but I can't let that pass. That link says that the average urban MPG is 28, not 20, and it's 37 MPG overall. Be that as it may, the attempt to convert the UK's vehicles to electric, otherwise unchanged, is a diversion from facing up to the real issues. Not merely does it mean that our power generation and distribution facilities need a MASSIVE increase, totally impossible to meet with even enhancing the current 'plans', there are many other serious problems caused by our motor fetish, and (even at its most optimistic) it would help with only carbon dioxide and air pollution.


I'm surprised he hasn't talked about revolutionizing the beanstalk yet (although he probably sees the same thing that I don't like about it)

A terrestrial beanstalk would require a not-currently-available (but theoretically possible) breakthrough in materials technology. Never mind getting in the way of all his low-altitude comsats and the rest of it.

However ... a lunar space elevator could be fabricated using high-tensile-strength materials such as M5 fibre that are available in bulk today. It wouldn't have the taper problem of a terrestrial elevator. And a minimally functional elevator (payload of a couple of tonnes) could be assembled in L1 from a couple of hundred tonnes of prefab parts. Which puts it squarely in the bracket of "things you can launch on a billion dollar budget using semi-reusable Falcon Heavy vehicles".

If this week's announcement of substantial water deposits on Luna is correct, there might even be a commercial impetus for Musk to announce his plans for Moonbase Alpha ahead of the Mars colony push: use the Moon as a cheaper gravity well to extract hydrogen from.

Obstacles: nobody has yet unreeled a 1Km tether reliably in Earth orbit, never mind a 100,000 Km tether in Lunar orbit. It's one of those areas where Earth-based R&D runs up against our inability to model microgravity accurately enough. And it's still going to cost billions, even with cheap(er) reusable launchers. So I reckon it's on Musk's hit-list, but below the visible waterline.


even at its most optimistic) it would help with only carbon dioxide and air pollution.

You noticed the recent public health estimates of up to 60,000 premature deaths per year due to air pollution? It's in the same league as cigarette-induced lung cancer in the 1970s at this point; that on its own would be a strong justification for electrifying urban/suburban transport.


Despite the media's and public's love of a single dominating man, few (if any) great scientists and inventors did more than nudge history and/or speed it up a little. I can't think of any that had even as much effect as the names I mentioned in #41. Nor, despite the tropes in fiction, any who were interested in ruling a large chunk of the world - the mindsets needed are so different.

Returning to the topic, Mr T, Mrs M, Mr K etc. are comparable to the most stupid and insane of the supervillains - ones which I always regarded as completely unrealistic when when read the books. They obviously couldn't have got there while being so stupid. But that shows that I really don't understand the human race :-(


Yup. Now compare that figure with the one for lack of exercise and obesity?

My point wasn't about the desirability or otherwise of electrifying urban/suburban transport, but about the way that it is being used as a substitute for facing up to the rest of the issues, and the fact that it isn't being thought through. I don't THINK that converting the UK vehicle fleet to electric in short order will cause more deaths in other ways than it saves, but I wouldn't like to bet on it not happening. That's EXACTLY what we have seen with the massive improvements in car safety for the occupants.


A fair number of the climate change theories have needed rigorous testing, and this has to include rigorous code reviews of the computer code used to make the predictions.

Unlike pretty much everyone else concerning the University of East Anglia Climate Research leak, I wasn't at all interested in the leaked emails. I found the harry.readme file and the code it referred to much, much more interesting simply because of the frankly horrendous coding malpractice exposed.

So, we had howlers like a program that calls a subroutine which fails for some reason or another, but which doesn't whinge about failing on STDERR, nor does it return an error code. It returns a non-error code and fails silently, and this on code which was supposedly not alpha, not beta but a stable major version!

This is stuff that gets taught in first year computer science; if a subroutine fails, it must report doing so. The UEA computer code was quite frankly utter and complete rubbish, and on this dreck politicians are basing decisions that cost billions and affect whole countries!

Even if the conclusions regarding climate change are true (arrived at completely by chance), any predictions made using this code will fail because the code its self is full of fail. In fact, we have three layers of failure here:

Layer 1: crap code that doesn't report problems and doesn't actually work, yet has been reported as completely functional.

Layer 2: scientists falsely claiming that their hypotheses, based on the known-failing code, are correct and valid.

Layer 3: politicians not insisting on checks to the scientific theories, and not insisting on simple confirmation of results.


And I'm not sure that 007 is really the being to put down this current mess of villains. After all, Bond is a tool of the government, specifically the British one, and does what's in the best interest of that government.

(Spoilers for recent Bond movies ahead)

Bond mostly seems to take a fairly flexible approach to interpreting his orders, or operating without orders, to the eternal exasperation of his superiors. As I recall, the villains and locales in the Fleming books were mostly foreign, but in recent films (SPOILERS) the British govt and spy agencies have been compromised, and Bond has chosen to act against orders and a compromised state.

He's lucky he doesn't have the added complication of a loyalty Geas to deal with.


They obviously couldn't have got there while being so stupid. But that shows that I really don't understand the human race :-(

Oh, that's easy!

Consider that humans have this whacky ability to pass around extended phenotype traits horizontally, via "culture" — other people observe us doing something and copy it (this is common among corvids and primates), but in addition we can tell people how to do something they want to do and they go and go it, which seems to be uniquely human (I don't count the honey bee's waggle-dance: it's too inflexible). Then we got writing, and the verbal transfer became unbounded in time and extent: one practitioner can teach many, many more shaved apes than Dunbar's Number would imply.

Anyway. What this means is that if you posit a Poisson distribution of creative ability, the low-performing tail can express traits developed by the high-performing outliers.

Once we evolved this horizontal-transfer trait, almost all other evolutionary selection pressures went away. There are minor exceptions for things like dietary requirements, e.g. lactose tolerance or pale skin for vitamin D photosynthesis in low-light climates with poor Vit-D dietary levels, but in general we're not under selection pressure for intelligence, because our dumb pack-mates can ride the coat-tails of Einstein.

Inference: humans are the least intelligent viable species that can support a self-extending culture. A mass of grey stupid trailing in the wake of randomly-distributed sparks of brilliance. (Remember, outliers breed back towards the norm: there's no privileged elite caste of genii leading us, their occurrence is down to random happenstance.)

Once you accept this dismal truth about us, everything becomes clear!


I don't think Mr Z is really after the hyperloop. I believe that's just the investor pitch, and that what he wants is to get a foothold in the tunneling tech for offworld colonization and mining.
A major limiting factor in electric cars and batteries is materials (such as cobalt) availability, and some effort has been expended to do materials substitution, but it's unclear if that's feasible. Also, Mr. XJ is still trying to control the world supply in many metals.
If substitution is not feasible, or if Mr. XJ limits access to materials, we need deepsea mining (near ready tech), or offworld mining(not yet).


Please delete this if you feel that it is too much a a diversion.

Actually, while picking beans, I thought of a plausible way in which electrification of London's vehicle fleet could go horribly wrong.

The government devolves or privatises responsibility even more than now, with a requirement on whomever to supply enough power locally. London needs a massive increase, so it or its supplier asks for bids. The subservience, oops!, sorry, trade deal with the USA covers such services, with the usual condition that they have to meet the regulations in their home country. A USA company bids to do a massive upgrade to Didcot, with a coal-fired power station, is rejected, takes it to court, and wins. So we end up with a huge coal-fired power station just to the west of London, burning lovely high-sulphur USA coal.

Once upon a time, I would have thought that's too insane even for the UK government, but I am no longer so optimistic. While our leaders may be comparable to Bond supervillains, our governments (which are more Whitehall, the military-industrial complex etc. than the politicians) are neither as competent nor as well-wishing.


I've decided that this post represents a major historical insight, and so I christen this idea the Bond Villain theory of history.


Well, my own browse through road tests, and Tesla's own website found a complete failure to discuss what it's made of beyond that the floorpan is aluminium, and some stuff on the battery pack (and yet it weighs no less than an equivalent hydrocarbon car with a mild steel unitary body?)


They (the Canadians) rely on geography rather than political borders, mostly. Quebec has its own DC-connected-only grid, Texas-style, and the Maritimes are a bit of a mess, but everything from Ontario west just connects to whatever's below it. There's a reason that NERC has stood for "North American Electric Reliability C*" since the early '70's (it also includes Baja Mexico, although none of the rest of North America, that being an inconvenient naming problem).


Aaand we have our Bond girl.

Not only is the ex-wife of Mr Y said to be dating Mr. X, but she introduced the daughter of Mr. T to Mr. K, and is said to have (at the very least) had the hots for Mr. B, who was the poodle of Mr. W.

Oh, and in her teens she changed her name from "Wenge", which means "Cultural Revolution."


Your point being? Unless the Tesla is made of unobtainium its not massively germane to the overall goal of getting ICE cars off of the road.


Paul451 notes: "super-villainy seems to be so much the default setting that the whole system is designed to accept it, even when its been explicitly set up against that specific type of villainy"

This is gonna sound pretentious *G*, but what the hell: It's interesting to speculate that this is a kind of Jungian collective subconscious thing, in which the fictional supervillain represents a simplification of the real-world dictators, Trumps, and Murdochs we deal with. That is, we enjoy supervillains because they're safe and defeatable abstractions of the real villains in our lives.

Greg Tingey wondered: "what does Canada do, given its large distances & "empty" middle?"

We're Canadians. So, of course, we wait patiently and politely while the train or plane carries us to our destination. Our national rail carrier (Via) can't reliably maintain 60 mph trains on current tracks because they lack the budget to install appropriate infrastructure. Nobody's holding their breath for TGV/Shinkansen technology, let alone hyperloop.

Charlie notes: "A terrestrial beanstalk would require a not-currently-available (but theoretically possible) breakthrough in materials technology."

Not necessarily: all you have to do is ensure that each section of the elevator is moving at geostationary orbital velocity for its height. Now that the theory is solved, the rest is just an engineering problem. *rotflmaowswhwh* ("... while shouting woo hoo!, woo hoo!", like Daffy Duck fleeing Elmer Fudd).


Well, for example, if you stop extracting crude oil (because it's uneconomic because no-one's burning it any more) you may have issues with making PCBs, insulation for wiring, plastic and/or GRP body panels...


I think we can safely file that one under problems we'd wish to have :)


WHich I really don't believe, actually, there's an awful lot of supposes & handwavium in there.
Yes, I know that getting pollution down & keeping it down & decreasing is a good idea, but the scare-numbers could easily backfoire if shown to be wrong or even a large over-estimate.
And then we really would be worse off ...

See also EC @ 95, which I happen to think is much more likely &/or you have a super-additive effect.
( Lack of exercise does NOT, of course, mean "you must go to the gym" )


That's easily explainable. Many scientists are self-taught coders. A lot of majors (including environmental science) have CS classes as electives which compete with other field specializations.


That's a problem that's been on people's minds for a while now. A couple years ago (I think? Anyhow, it's been a while) I came across an article on genetically engineering bacteria to produce a particular plastic. I can't find that particular link, but I did come across an article from 1999 on the subject: biodegradable-plastic-grown-on-gm-plants. Judging from the wiki article on the subject, it seems to be a fairly solved problem.


So far as I can tell, there are two problems with beanstalks: capsule velocity and beanstalk vibration. The first one is that capsules have to go *fast* to make the trip worth the trouble, since we're talking distances of 30,000-100,000 km. These aren't crawlers, they're drag racers, and friction against the beanstalk, even in a vacuum, is going to be an issue. My guess is maglev would be required, but I'm not so sure how you keep something superconducting in an environment that can get really hot in the sun and really cold in the shade--on different parts of the same beanstalk.

Then there's vibration. The beanstalk will vibrate, at least a little, and rather more if it's actively shimmying to avoid satellites and debris. On a 35,786 km geostationary line, a vibration of 1 part in 1000 to the length of the line still means lateral swings of most of four kilometers, especially in the middle. This is why I don't think human riders will want to ride a beanstalk: they'll still have to put up with days to weeks swinging back and forth.

I'll ignore twisting, but yeah, beanstalk twisting could be a problem too.

So here's the environment of a capsule on a beanstalk: let's say the capsule averages 1,000 km/hr (which means it's going quite a lot faster than that in the middle, since it has to slow down at the ends). It's still on the line for 36 hours, and it's sticking to the beanstalk while the line sways back and forth 4 kilometers laterally and may well twist here and there. Keeping the capsule attached to the line is a heck of an engineering feat, and having two capsules pass each other on a fairly thin ribbon at 1,000 km/hr is even more impressive. Cutting the capsule speed down to a safer 100 km/hr means that the capsule will reach geostationary orbit in about 15 days, but will still be swaying and shimmying the whole time. The good news is that the passengers will be done vomiting well before they reach orbit.

So, here's the question: want to buy a share in beanstalk futures?


You are suggesting that there won't be enough raw petroleum for chemical feedstocks?
Simples - use coal, insted.
Um, err .....


I'd put it a bit more strongly than that; I'd use the metaphor of dangling gonads. Comparable with ciggies in the 70s... when the air is far less polluted now than it was then, and there are fewer ciggies too... and nobody even noticed such a supposedly huge effect until the "scandal" about VW happened (which itself was only noticed "in vitro", not by any actual effect it had)... nah, pull the other one, it's got great big jangling brass bells on.

There seems to be an underlying assumption in every situation of this type, that if only we can identify all the things people die of and get rid of them, then people will stop dying. Of course nobody actually out-and-says that, since it's obviously daft, but they certainly act as if they thought it was true.


Here is Musk's opinion on space elevators. My reading of him is that he views space elevators anywhere (including the Moon and Mars) as a distraction.


I agree with a lot of what you said in 54.

One thing - most folks don't know what karma actually means....

But you're right, I hadn't realized the resemblance of the Bond Villains in charge to the classic movie Mad Scientist, to which my reaction has always been "you want to conquer the world? Great, here's the Middle East, the Balkans, and Northern Ireland - get back to me when you've got them under control....

And fuck *yes*, it's not all about Great Men and macroeconomics. One thing I VEHEMENTLY hold against the neofascist right is they've made "common knowledge" that if you can't monetize it, it's not worth anything.

Which means hopes and dreams aren't worth anything. Which means kids should only be interested in growing up to be rich, not to do or be interested in anything but that, and nothing else is worth dreaming about.

I'm sorry, they can't sell their alleged souls to anyone, being that they have none to sell.


1. In 1927, the Lindbergh run of a Pennsy passenger train, pulled by an E-6 Atlantic steam engine, was clocked at one point doing 115 mph. Let that sink in.

The reason trains in the US are so slow, as I believe I've mentioned before, is that, with the exception of the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak doesn't own its own trackage, but uses leased trackage... and the railroads keep them up to slower freight standards, not high-speed passenger standards.

2. After 9/11, for *months*, the pilots' union was saying that for distances under 300-400 mi, the train was better than the plane (and remember, you come right into downtown, not way the hell out there....) We *could* build high-speed rail on the existing right-of-way. Hell, in the travelled areas, starting in the fifties on through the eighties, railroads were taking tracks *out* of service, and ripping up the rails. Meaning that you could build *now* on that right of way.

3. I rarely see my one and only granddaughter in person - my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter live 20 mi or so sw of DC, while I hink in the nw suburbs. If I'm lucky, and don't go during rush hour, and don't hit a traffic jam, *maybe* I can make it in under an hour. Why do we need mach-1 intercity transit for that 300-400 mi and less distance? You can't get where your going once you get to the city in less than an hour or so.

4. Oh, yes, there's one more leeetle detail that y'all are ignoring: if it's going mach 1... unlike the trains, is there some reason that any of you would think that you would NOT have, in the US, the TSA securing it, complete with not enough people to check your boarding pass, and long, long lines to go through the detectors, and take off your shoes, please.....


I came up with my answer, years ago, to What, don't you want to get a fortune, and leave it to your kids?

So, they could have who, Paris Hilton as a role model?

Sorry, I'm proud of my kids, all of whom worked for their degrees, and who a competent at what they do.


Agent Orange... he's not a Bond villain. I keep telling you, he thinks he's Lex Luthor.. and he is. Unfortunately, the Lex Luthor of the first Superman movie....


Not to mention that "rigorous testing" and "confirmation of results" are not even possible; all you can do is check the story matches the single set of observations it was made up to match, which doesn't prove anything. But then the whole thing is bent all to fuck anyway by reason of being irretrievably mired in politics (both the governmental and the academic kind). Rather like string theory, only more so because governments aren't interested in string theory and there's a lot less money in it.

But it's irrelevant anyway since there are good reasons for getting off fossil fuels which are in state-the-bleedin'-obvious territory and don't really allow any room to argue about them.

Like allowing the world's food supply to become utterly dependent on a finite resource which we've probably already used more than half of and are using what's left at an ever increasing rate, while dealing with the problem of what happens when the fridge is empty by pretending it won't happen. People take pains to make sure their individual lives don't follow that pattern because they don't have to be told that it's stupid; it's even more unarguably stupid to allow the whole world to follow it.

Then there's the state of the Middle East...


And subject matter experts frequently think they're subject matter experts in everything (including programming).

My classic story is 25 years ago, when a chemist came into the office I shared with my manager-of-the-moment, and asked her if she could dump some dBase files to ASCII. She said she was busy, but that I knew dBase. So he asked me. I pull up dBase and look at the d/bs on the disks. Then I sit him down, pull out the bare hoses and the rubber light bulbs, and beat him around the head and shoulders till he confesses what goal he's trying to achieve. That turned out to be "write a report". I asked him how long that would take, once the data was dumped to ASCII, and he told me 2-3 days.

I looked at him, and asked if he'd like it in a couple of hours. The database was fine, he just had NO IDEA how to do anything with it. And we spent most of a couple hours getting the generated report in the right format.....

Meanwhile, one of these days, I may get back to trying to build this open source package for a researcher. It only wants this version of python, and that version of this library, and the other version of that other library, and.... I guess it works on the software developers custom workstation....


That "Canadian transport model" really deserves to be far more widely adopted. Planes and shinkansens and hyperloops (ffs) are going in the wrong direction - shaving increasingly pointlessly tiny fractions off a journey time (with no hope of ever making it usefully small anyway), at ever huger expenditures of energy, and making the experience increasingly shit.

Far better to do the opposite - stop trying to deny that it really is a long way, admit that yes it is going to take a long time, but admit also that that doesn't intrinsically actually matter, and make the experience comfortable and pleasant so you can enjoy the journey instead of wishing it was over before it had started and trying to pretend it wasn't happening while it's in progress. There must be something in it; after all, when the Midland Railway went for it the LNWR were not happy.


whitroth noted: "After 9/11, for *months*, the pilots' union was saying that for distances under 300-400 mi, the train was better than the plane"

Still true in many places. For example, when I want to travel from Montreal to Toronto to visit friends, a distance of ca. 500 km, I can get there in about 4.5 hours by train. If I choose to fly, on the other hand, the flight is only 1 hour, but I have to get to the airport at least an hour early (2 hours is smarter). Add taxi time on the runway and waiting for baggage carousels if I decide to bring anything larger than a hardcover novel, and there isn't much difference in time.

Unfortunately, there are a few downsides if I decide to take the train: I have to sacrifice cavity searches by cute young security guards, "enhanced security" in which I dump my baggage in public, x-ray scanners, the need to discard all liquids before boarding, and the need to be confined to a tiny seat that bruises my knees instead of roaming around.

Call me a masochist if you will, but I take the train.


You left out the magnetic field issue.

Any orbital tether long enough has the problem that it's dragging across a magnetic field differential. Eventually we may be able to do this, but it means we'll have problems even with ungrounded tethers in Earth orbit because of the current being produced. NASA had a 500 meter tether break in half due to the arcs produced.


I wouldn't waste time answering, he always manages to make pointless sideswipes at climate scientists.


Too insane to happen? It's just the sort of thing I'd expect. It's a great fit to the standard pattern of thinking that A is great and ignoring that it needs B because when there isn't much A the amount of B that is kicking about anyway suffices, starting to do lots of A, then getting caught with your pants down when there isn't enough B any more as if it was some kind of surprise, and bodging up some kind of shitty B-substitute since you can no longer cope without A working. What don't we do like that?


There's also the little problem of the Van Allen radiation belts. Electronics don't like radiation and people like it even less. The way we deal with it now is to get through them as quickly as possible.
And then there's Coriolis force ...


Nobody is suggesting getting rid of all petroleum products. If all we use it for is plastics, etc, we'll use a (relatively) tiny amount; a few wells should provide plenty.
Interestingly, the biggest problem I see would be asphalt. Right now, it's essentially a waste byproduct of petroleum refining. No gasoline, no asphalt "waste", no road surfaces.


Meanwhile, in another part of the field
Musk & Zuckerberg are duking it out over AI
Interesting, wot?


See you:
The Silver Jubilee, the Coronation & the West Riding Limited & raise you!


"Inference: humans are the least intelligent viable species that can support a self-extending culture. A mass of grey stupid trailing in the wake of randomly-distributed sparks of brilliance."

You have made an excellent argument for genetic enhancement of human intelligence. particularly if, to survive and overcome the problems it has created, our culture/civilization has to become more complex requiring a higher minimum level of intelligence just to function in it.

Interesting can of worms you have opened.


By Jingo, I've got it! This isn't the Ian Fleming continuum, it's PG Wodehouse world.

Wodehouse would have instantly recognized Kushner as being in the son-in-law business.

Either Bannon or Farage would fit the Spode mould, with his alt-right Black shorts.

And all those country houses were forever being visited by American moguls who were rich, powerful, frightening, and utterly stupid.

We don't need Bond. We need merely call for Jeeves.



our culture/civilization has to become more complex requiring a higher minimum level of intelligence just to function in it.

For the reasons Charlie outlined, an individual doesn't have to be very intelligent to function. I'd tweak your statement to:

An increasingly complex culture/civilization requires more intelligent management for the civilization to function.

In a democracy that requires a more intelligent or at least better informed populace.

Ie., it's probably as much or more about education and a (dys)functional media landscape rather than average IQ.

Of course, it's also an argument against democracy, and pretty much the reason HG Wells gave in favour of a technocracy of elite Fabians, but democracy is still the worst form of government except for all the others.


God help us all. If there's no God, as I believe, we are stuffed :-( I still don't understand the human race. I can buy OGH's explanation in #98, intellectually, but it still feels alien.


Steve Smith noted: "Interestingly, the biggest problem I see would be asphalt."

Yes and no. In many places, I've seen concrete used as a roadbed, and that doesn't require petroleum products at all. Concrete has two main problems (plus various lesser ones): its production releases significant amounts of greenhouse gases, and in a climate as variable as Canada's, the temperature changes (easily more than 60°C over the year) can cause it to crack.

There's been some interesting research on concrete alternatives, and it seems likely that with enough incentives, it should be possible to develop alternatives. For example, we could use one of the most abundant substances on Earth (silica and related silicon compounds) to create a replacement for concrete. For example, .


Musk's twitter-crit of beanstalks is wrong for two reasons.

Firstly, you don't need the tensile strength of fullerenes for all cases — only for a deep gravity well, like Earth's. For a Lunar L1 tether you can actually make do with kevlar or other existing mass-produced cables that are available off-the-shelf (for a price) today. Earth is a borderline case, but Earth is the most massive of the non-gas-giant planets in our solar system.

Secondly, and more subtly: let's suppose we want nanotube cables capable of building a beanstalk, but can't quite get there yet — despite this, every incremental improvement in tensile strength is commercially useful. We may not be able to use an incrementally-better cable to build a beanstalk, but as long as it's stronger than existing materials it will have a market somewhere. It's not like we don't need stronger cables! With fusion reactors, as Eric Drexler pointed out, there's a huge "applications desert" between "stuff we can build now" and "stuff that's commercially viable". But with fullerene cables, there's no shortage of applications along the way from where-we-are-now to adequate-for-building-beanstalks, and these applications will pay for the R&D costs of incremental improvement.

Musk is quite right about space elevators in the very short (1-2 decades) term. Any further out, though, and all bets are off — especially for Lunar surface access and, as an alternative to full-length surface to orbit cables, skyhook systems.


Of course, it's also an argument against democracy

The strong counterarguments for democracy are:

a) Democracy provides a peaceful mechanism for the transfer of power once a government becomes so unpopular that resistance is simmering (in the absence of democracy, coups or revolutions eventually happen)

b) More subtly, Rawls' theory of justice applies also to social status and politics: imagine yourself on the bottom of a hierarchy rather than at the apex — such a system is just if and only if your treatment (at the bottom of the pile) is fair, i.e. if you are not de-privileged by virtue of being subordinated.

Look at skin colour and treatment of victims of police shootings in the USA as a worked example of what being de-privileged by social status looks like: if you're a dark-skinned male you're fair game for any cop to gun down, but if you're a blond female and a cop kills you the head of police resigns and there'll be a murder trial. Is this fair? Nope — but it demonstrates the point here (dark-skinned people are socially subordinated in the US and the political-judicial system treats them unfairly).

Given the principle of mediocrity and the anthropic principle, the only reason you are who you are and not, say, Forrest Gump, is random happenstance. It's rational to desire a political system that doesn't persecute the de-privileged (for you might be one of them). Which is an argument for, at a minimum, government by an altruistic elite who consider all human lives to be equally worthy of respect. And the best way to ensure that is to ensure that all human lives are represented by the machinery of governance and none are left behind.


Ah yes, you and elfey are correct: I shouldn't handwave out the issues with radiation, magnetic fields, micrometeroids, getting the people down off the ceiling from coriolis force. There are probably a couple of others that I'm sure people will be happy to point out, even without paraphrasing the ending of Red Mars.

In other words, it's a lot like a hyperloop: great idea in physics land, complicated as all hell in the real world. While I don't think it's quite a Kessler event organizer, I suspect it's going to scare the daylights out potential investors.


Ooh, so we get back to knights and men at arms in fully rifle-proof fullerene armor? The spinoffs of beanstalk-tech could be rather scary, just as the spinoffs of starship tech (such as hulls that can survive micrometeoroid impacts at full travel speed) also lend themselves to small, sealed arcologies that are *just perfect* for supervillain lairs.


We are in furious agreement about all of that, and thank you for making the defence of democracy I was too lazy to make @133.


I agree with you.

To be fair to Musk, if you look at his (IMHO loony and unrealistic) timetable, he wants a Mars base within a 2-decade term. So for his timetable, a beanstalk is useless.


You've seen me playing Settlers of Catan, then, have you?


Grrk. No. Those are not arguments FOR democracy, but AGAINST what most people in the west think of the only alternatives. For example, tribal chieftainship works as well as anything, until the chieftainship isolates itself from the tribe - Arabia is a classic example. For all its faults, and occasional aberrations (e.g. Mao), China has a long record of fairly successful governance.

Also, what we call democracy is nothing of the sort, and starts to fail once a group gets control of the 'information' provided to the electors (or even the electoral system itself). We haven't had a genuine transfer of power since Thatcher got elected, and the USA for still longer, and recent events show how badly people feel disenfranchised.


At least one climate modelling program was rewritten by professional software developers. The results were unchanged; the original, badly written, program did work.
IEEE Software paper
If anyone wishes to prove that a climate modelling program is wrong, all they have to do is undertake the same exercise themselves.


Democracy is neither necessary nor sufficient for (a) or (b). With respect to (a), democracy will sometimes work to achieve this, but so will any other system where the holder of power regularly rotates and input from relevant powerful factions is obtained. (And, of course, democracies are also subject to coups and civil wars.)

With respect to (b), the United States provides an obvious example: nothing about majority rule implies that an isolated minority won't be oppressed.


And when the leadears of BOTH your majopr political parties are complete & utter tossers ( The Maybot & the Corbynnnn - not-as-intelligent-as-a-corvid )...
You are totally stuffed, are you not?


And, one of the "battlecries" of the National Secular society ( specifically addressing religious privelige & "Special cases" ) is:
ONE LAW, for all of the people ... no exceptions, in either direction.
( But trying to push this will get you branded "waycist" by certain gaurdianistas, I'm afraid. )


You might be interested in Ray Huang's 1587, A Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline, if you want to get a view of what "normal" looked like in Ming China.

The underlying point is that Chinese history emphasizes continuity with the past, while western history emphasizes the fall of Rome (never mind Byzantium) and all the (failed) attempts to reform the Roman Empire up through the EU. While I think this overgeneralizes in both cases, western European history tends to overly focus on the negative (crash, the dark ages, then the great story of progress, all the while fearing will do another RomeCrash), while the Chinese like to brag about being around since forever (well, 1500 BCE, or whatever), conveniently ignoring that the Shang were a bunch of headhunters and there were some long gaps between the great dynasties that we know. If you look at China and Europe as equivalent (and really, "Chinese dialects" are as far apart as most Romance languages), then their histories are similar in many ways, even though the stories we tell about them are very different.


And there are (IIRC) over a dozen different large models out there. Indeed, it's normal for climatologists to talk about consensus and variance in the models.

That said, the basic math underlying the models dates to Svante Arrhenius 1896 paper (pdf link), and he worked it out with paper and pencil. The basic math is basic enough that I had to deal with it (also with paper and pencil) as a homework assignment in my junior year.

The problem is that his is a simple, global model, and when you want to scale down to local effects in four dimension, you have to divide up the world into cells, and every time you halve the scale of the cells, you quadruple the amount of math you have to do. There are even people out there who specialize in taking data outputs from models (where the cells are on order 100 km on a side) and interpolating within those cells to obtain finer-scale forecasts for things like cities and mountain ranges. In any event, this is where you need the supercomputers. If you just want to figure out how much global average temperatures will go up with a given amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Arrhenius will give you about as good an answer as the latest models.

So yes, computer nerds can get sniffy that the model they've looked at doesn't meet all their preconceptions. On the other hand, you have to demonstrate that the coding shortfalls lead to math errors, and while that's the harder task, it's necessary to insure that your criticisms are valid.


Regarding the different reaction when a cop shooting victim is a blonde, white female - this doesn't appear to be the case in Minneapolis.

Of course, the cop in question in this case is simultaneously a member of two groups protected by PC, so even though this particular cop has already been investigated for improper conduct three times in the two years he has been active on the force he gets a "stay out of jail free" card.



45th President D Trump, about a minute ago: these are the animals we've been protecting for so long, but no longer... (in reference to sanctuary cities / Latino Gangs (notably MM / 13)).

Yeah, itshappening.gif . Everyone knows[1] what happens when the Other is reduced to vermin, rats, cockroaches[2] and so forth.

And the Democrats and NeoCons are "the resistance": With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons The Intercept, 17th July, 2017 -- that's not a recipe for stability.

Final Heads Up for Americans, esp. with Scouts and so on.



On topic (will tie this in).

Anyone viewing the UK Media 'Hacking Scandal' and Parliamentary reviews will have noticed that Murdoch (Senior) had open contempt for the inquiry, while Murdoch (Jr, Male, 1st Son) deployed extreme levels of "legalese" speak (akin to Mr Bill Clinton, natch) to avoid any possible legal ramifications.

Pondering this 'Bond Villain' model, it's got legs, but not in the way you're suggesting - like Gold Finger, these are Male Models[3] that were out of date at the time of their inception. i.e. Gold Finger (1964) (Gold Standard, US withdrawal, after French pressure, 1971). Gold Finger is the harbinger of change, the Narrative before it happened - and the writers knew it.

Mr X: having severe issues with VPNs at this point in time, as well as many other issues (East / China hmm. Prolly gonna lose bits of Siberia at this rate).

Mr Y: dying, his Empire dying too. Sons aren't exactly dangerous (Milquetoast: vicious in the Kush way[5])

Mr Z: No-one cares about Mars no more (no, really: Sea level fears as Greenland darkens BBC, 24th July, 2017)

Mr T: Gold Chains were fake, yo; told you they'd run him into the ground doing what we do, but without our... genetic advantages.

Mrs M: Anglican Church ain't got your back (nor, sadly, the FT no more).

Rhizomatic entanglement is much more important - all of the above are the dying orders of Narratives. The irony being, of course, that they seem as quaint and inconsequential as Mr Gold Finger... The Old Barons faded, as quaint and twee as your average SteamPunk reimagining of that Space.

What's coming next is more interesting. (Fascism, ho! c.f. Alt-Right, Spencer getting labelled a cointel plant, told you his simulacrum would be challenged, didn't I?)

[Note: there's actually a highly technical and convoluted argument underneath this about the impact of the "The Third Way" (Forbes, major friend of one of the actual top #5 richest people on the planet etc), DAVOS and "The Fourth Industrialization" ( The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond WEF, Jan 2016) and a lot of Other stuff. Watching America implode, a bit distracted].

Oh, and btw ~ Jason Bourne. The Spy whose entire mission of death, destruction and mayhem is a search for truth and "leave me alone" vibe. Ironic.

To sum it up: Not sure they know what they unleashed. ((They're executing a lot of people on the QT btw, and not just brown ones - it's getting quite messy and not just Eastern Europeans, either)).

#WildHunt 2017


Someone's betting ~$280 mil (along with other big Hedge Funds who are dumping ~$500 on shorting the market so far in 2017) on the Big Market Crash in October. Humans: so predictable.


Bond Villains are the Reality attempting to prefix rhizomatic Chaos with comparative Narratives.

It's not working, but so it goes.

[1] Everybody knows YT, Leonard Cohen, 5:13 (nah, the FIRE didn't go out, and no, killing wasn't allowed). Dance Me to the End of Love YT, same, 6:09

[2] The impact of hate media in Rwanda BBC, Dec 2003
Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines Wiki (CIA involvement proven, but naughty if I link the funding .docs)

Since I'm no longer playing around, Félicien Kabuga was a major player in the arms (melee - machete) imports via the U.N. and (deal with it) Israel. Lock, Stock and Barrel - Genocide in a Can (well, shipping container). Even Haaretz doesn't touch that side of things, remaining "polite": Israeli Arms Exports to Rwanda During 1994 Genocide to Stay Secret, Supreme Court Rules Haaretz, April 16th, 2017

Oh, but of course: Egypt (said UN director), France and China. To be fair, China didn't directly ship them, and in Africa it's entirely above board to ship said tools. (That's a major hint btw)

Rwanda, Machete Pile Iconic Photos, May 2009

[3] But why male models?

[4] That's a marijuana joke Greg.


Oh, and minor snark @ Host: 2017.

Bond at least attempted to break out of his parochial typecasting with "White Men who are actually North Korean bad guys" and so forth ;)

The Big G family, arms dealers, everything else in between, destabilizing South Africa with race war incitement via old skool "UK EMPIRE" PR companies.

Want me to throw in a few other nationalities? (Pakistan, China, India[1], Brazil etc).

I mean, Bond is practically ossified in his quest to only match his skills against Caucasian Bad Guys[tm] - which is funny when you spot it.


We see stripes and contours and fractals in your skin: but the big black eyes and distinctive patterns to your Brain Waves are what we target.[2][4]

No, really.

"We searched and couldn't find the Predators"

"You couldn't even read the non-verbal Mind stuff, I'm thinking you're probably on the menu"[5].

[1] Still fucking sorting out the Cow Drive Nationalistic PR fuckery to insite nuclear war there, and yes, all tied into America.

[2] If you're going to parade it in front of me with a shit-eating grin, know one thing: we view you as Damaged Goods[tm], and diseased. If, you know, you need a mental image of what watching your kind parade around out in the open is like[3].

[3] Not the Nazi imagery you're looking for: something a little more complicated. We See You, esp. when helping out little children in wheelchairs.

[4] If you can't spot the Predators, then derp, you're the predated. DERP DERP DERRRRP. Fun fact: cockroaches cannot survive fallout very well (sterilized at the same point that humans die off, 10k rads). If you want to know what inherits the Earth, ironically - it's parasitic wasps (180k rads before that happens). Your next thought, of course, is: how the fuck does that help if they've nothing to predate off. And that's the lesson.

[5] Oh, that's going to piss off certain things. But, no, actually true. While Drunk. Fucking Amateur Hour Lower Order Entities.


Oh, and tryptch:

US disintegration, allow me to critique someone living in a land who just actively voted to deny 32,000,000 people health care

Miéville is not any sort of ally or fellow traveler.

No, he's an actual Socialist - not something any of you are.

In his novels, any attempt to change the status quo is a farce to start out with

No, every attempt is an honest and sincere one, even those trapped near the Scar.

but he takes the sadistic satisfaction in showing how far the cruel will go to exercise their power

It's called fucking realism, you muppet.

and how useless the most heroic efforts at change are.

No, he just knows his history.

The man is a psychopath, and this novel was written simply to rip the guts out of surrealism, which he sees as an agent of change the powerless have. No, I am not kidding.

But you're stupid, and so like Fox News, don't count.

Surrealism was never a working class artistic movement: that's the entire point of allowing Mr "Dig him up to check his moustache, aardvark on a leash who often signed cheques he knew would bounce as art pieces" to represent them.

Ask me about the Bas-Lag Malarial Empire, where the men are not permitted to speak, but the empowered women infect you with disease...

And, sigh - not even read the fucking book.

Men can speak - they have ANUSES for mouths and can only speak very quietly IN A LANGUAGE NOT UNDERSTOOD which is why they communicate via text on tablet. Oh, and they SUCK FLOWERS for nutrition and DO NOT UNDERSTAND EMOTIONS and ARE ALL SCIENTISTS / ENGINEERS.

The Women do not infect anyone with disease THEY FUCKING SUCK YOUR BLOOD UNTIL YOU DIE. Their hunger precludes their sentience, which is why AFTER FEEDING OFF SOME POOR ANIMAL / SENTIENT BEING they pathetically attempt to communicate / rationalize with near-by sentient language bearing beings THROUGH A PATHETIC DESPERATION OF THEIR REAL HUNGER, WHICH IS INTELLECTUAL / EMOTIONAL CONNECTION.



Literally: Burn their House down, Muppets.


is a very elaborate practical joke on his part that got slightly out of control.

I've got this book around here somewhere.


when I want to travel from Montreal to Toronto to visit friends, a distance of ca. 500 km, I can get there in about 4.5 hours by train

Sadly in Australia we have a Monty Python railway between Melbourne and Brisbane via every little hamlet in between. Specifically a chunk of the Victorian end is "we built a railway, and it sank into the swamp. So we built another railway on top of it. And that sank into the swamp..." which means that due to ongoing increases in efficiency the train between Melbourne and Sydney now takes about 12 hours to cover 900km. Their focus is on keeping that to about 11.5 hours, so they can turn the train round rather than always needing three trains.

Even at their worst, it takes about 4 hours to fly from CBD to CBD. Ok, I lie, when you fly Jetstar or one of the cheaper and nearly as good brands who cancel flights that aren't completely full it can take 12 hours or more. I nearly got caught once by that when I had a "connecting" flight the next day.

The fast train proposals here always founder on the problem that it would cost money. More than a year of fossil fuel consumer subsidies, but less than the annual road subsidies, so we're talking quite a lot of money.


And you're not getting the joke.

Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics APPA, 2016

Spoilers: Supplies/OTC Medicine $14.93 billion, of which about 40% is supplies and of that, 15% clothing items. I'll let you do the math.

Pet Industry All-Stars Pet Business, 2016


The USA pet clothing market has a greater GDP than Bhutan.


One thing I VEHEMENTLY hold against the neofascist right is they've made "common knowledge" that if you can't monetize it, it's not worth anything.

Which means hopes and dreams aren't worth anything. Which means kids should only be interested in growing up to be rich, not to do or be interested in anything but that, and nothing else is worth dreaming about.

Which is itself a problem because neofascism = neofeudalism. It's an economic system intended to lock the NOT rich out. If you're not already on top you're forever condemned to be on the bottom. The prison-industrial complex is meant to keep you from rising above your station.


and all the (failed) attempts to reform the Roman Empire up through the EU.
Anyone else here read Dante's masterwork?
He looked forward to a restoration of "The Empire" bringing peace & stability - though of course, he had an agenda himself, he was a good 14th-C catholic, but loathed what the "church" had become - his treatment of Bonoface VIII is worth a read .... ( And of his successor Clement V, too )

Ditto the Chinese interregumns, which were always periods of chaos & slaughter, like the Taiping-to-Cultural Revolution period (?)


these are the animals we've been protecting for so long, but no longer..
Jews, pesumably - or they soon will be, at this rate?
That is really scary.
And, even if you are a "WASP" if you are what DT percieves as "left-wing" it won't be long.
Adolf "concentrated" the Social Democrats first, remember, & the Jews came later, after additional measures had be, err "put in place"

nor, sadly, the FT no more
Misconception - the FT is surprisingly "leftwing" in many respects, it is certaily extremely socially-liberal & has no time for rectionary social-conservatives.
Their weekend correspondent Simon Kuper is always worth a read

They're executing a lot of people on the QT btw, and not just brown one
You lost me there - WHO is executing people?
The PRC or the USSA - more than usual for either, that is?


Despite all of that I still like the Melbourne-Sydney train. The airports which were privatized because efficiency now charge insane monopoly mark-ups on parking, landing slots, coffee etc etc. The train goes CBD to CBD, I can get cheap public transport at both ends, a (rather cool, 50s) sleeper car ticket is comparable in cost to an airfare and kinda includes a free night's accomodation, and I arrive showered, rested and not facing an hour long taxi fare in peak hour traffic. Plus everything Geoff said.

Slight caveat: Haven't taken it in the last few years, so I'm not sure if things have changed.


Oh dear, you were doing so well.
Forgot your Dried Frog pills, did you?


I said "fairly successful". I could give lots of examples of periods in 'democracies' that were pretty unspeakable.


Your paras 2 and 3 - Been there, done that etc, with the note that I actually had control over access (sorry) to the DBase application, and it only took me about an hour after extracting the desired format from the relevant mangler (sic) so that I could design the DBase report!


Nobody is suggesting getting rid of all petroleum products

You're really not used to environ mentalist feature creep, are you? ;-)


Ooh, so we get back to knights and men at arms in fully rifle-proof fullerene armor?

No, except insofar as today's infantry in ballistic vests and helmets who travel in IFVs are largely proof against 18th/early 19th century infantry firing musket volleys. (Not just the body armour, or the wee tank to shelter behind; their personal arms out-range those muskets by a factor of three, and then there's the 30mm cannon up in the cupola. Oh, and the standard defensive tactic for a musket-armed company or battalion confronted by a highly mobile adversary with firepower (e.g. cavalry) is to form a square ... which is pretty much suicidal in this entirely hypothetical scenario (it just turns them into a bigger, denser target).

(I expect rifles to be obsolescent in our brave new nanotech-infested future. As obsolescent as muzzle-loading muskets are today. There'll probably still be barrel-launched explosive-propellant powered weapons, but they won't be rifles; more like terrifyingly advanced descendants of the XM25 firing a range of exciting and unpleasant guided payloads. And human soldiers won't be deployed on high energy battlefields unless something goes horribly wrong.)

If you make a thicker-walled tin can, someone will make a better can opener. And eventually there won't be any room left for the spam in the can.


I caught the sleeper from Sydney to Melbourne twice.

The first time it was great! Turn up at the station in the evening, roll aboard, go to bed, wake up the next morning in another city.

The second time, not so much ... mud slides had washed out the track part way along the route, so after about four hours of the worst train ride I've ever experienced (being thrown out of my bunk at least once an hour) we were herded off the train and onto coaches for a six hour bus ride starting at 2am. We'd bought tickets before the landslide, but didn't find out about it from the train operator until we arrived at the station—no opportunity to cancel or rebook. One Star, Will Not Buy Again just about sums up the experience. And I like sleeper trains.


"Assange was behind 'Exposing the Global Warming Hoax'"

I had not heard that before. Can you expand on it?


I like Louis XIV as a Bond villain.

Such people appear in history with numbing regularity. More examples?


Me, a while back: "Marx perhaps swung the focus of philosophical debate on history towards systems rather than individuals. This is surely a welcome correction from monarchism. But perhaps it is time to swing back, and ask ourselves what sort of individuals we want to focus power in, how that power is to be granted or taken away, and what sort of relations we may have with them." -


#166 - I'd have similar feelings about that experience, and I like sleeper trains too, even the "somewhat cramped by loading gauge" UK ones.


You DID NOTICE the quotes, I hope/
But WikiLeaks &U Assange took great delight in "exposing internal, private (but not "confidential" emails of the U ofEA & they then purported to show thaty GW was an hoax ....
Assange is a paid shit, probably paid by the FSB, but there are a large number of contenders, so I could be very wrong there.


The Corsicann Tyrant
Adolf - complete with lair ( Wolfschanze ) in Ost-Preussenwald
Machiavelli's example - Cesare Borgia
The "Old Man of the Mountains - Assasins of Alamut
Tiberius Ceasar - holed up on Capri

Quite a few more - it's a surprisingly realistic & nont-infrequent phenomenon


You are talking nonsense. Yes, Assange was complicit in the global warming misinformation, but he was NOT "behind it". He may be a shit, but you have not a scrap of evidence that he is anyone's paid stooge, and there is good reason to believe he is not. It is not surprising that he bears a grudge against the USA, after it attempted to use extraordinary rendition to put him before a rigged court, and one that is arguably illegal under international law.

And, despite the British propaganda, Napoleon was not a tyrant and there is considerable reason to believe the claims about Tiberius being one were malicious falsehoods.


I am not sure. Most of the recent use of armies has been against dissenting populations, bandits and so on. The automated mechanisms are fine when you don't care about leaving the place as rubble or killing uninvolved people, but there are circumstances when you don't want to do that. So I can see a return to knights and men at arms to keep the peasantry under control.


Speaking of "great man" theories: "So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable."—Aldous Huxley


She was replying (meaningfully! just on the wrong website) to this comment on Metafilter.


One Star, Will Not Buy Again just about sums up the experience. And I like sleeper trains.

I aspire to like them, and if I'm ever in Europe I intend to try one. They seem like such an obvious thing that should just work...

My experiences in Australia and Aotearoa have persuaded me that almost anything would be better. Auckland to Wellington the bed was comfortable but there was an icy wind blowing through the train even with the doors closed, and I only had a 3 season down sleeping bag with me so I was very cold. If I'd had my proper alpine camping gear I reckon I would have been fine. One icicle, would not recommend (they have since re-nationalised the system I think, but the current government is inclined to re-privatise it). My Sydney to Melbourne experience was better than yours, but not by so much that I'm willing to repeat it. Adelaide to Sydney was very nice, but Sydney to Adelaide sucked so much that I'd be very cautious (And Sydney-Melbourne-Adelaide would be awful).

FWIW I have travelled in a couple of different bus-to-camper conversions and despite the rougher ride found them fairly easy to sleep in, at least on motorways. Albeit both had the bed between the axles rather than above the cab or out beyond the rear axle. Probably not legal to travel like that these days, though, because in even a fairly minor crash you will not have a good experience.


Converting large areas to rubble is precisely the approach that is in fashion now, at least when it comes to pacifying areas that are far away.

Your suggested "men at arms", or "police" are only really necessary close to home or in areas where wholesale rubblisation would inconvenience people who matter.


I'm not a huge fan of any kind of "great man" fixation. While I agree that one person can lead a change, they can't be the change themselves and the more they are responsible for the change the more likely the change is to revert once they're out of the way. In th worst case it's just a game of musical dictators "today is Wednesday so we're neo-Leninites. Or Lenonists, whatever".

For every Nelson Mandela there's a Winnie and another 500 people directly working on the issue that never get into the spotlight, and if it's social change they're merely the vanguard of a mass movement. Movements need figureheads and leaders, but they also need committed followers. In science, the great men need great shoulders to stand on and also great masses of engineers to turn that one prototype handmade by geniuses into a mass manufactured item. And those people need critics, and competition, if they're to do their best. We absolutely need people asking why Al Gore flies around the world telling people that flying round the world has to stop, and asking where Aung San Suu Kyi's love of dissidents has gone now she has a bit of power.


Converting large areas to rubble is precisely the approach that is in fashion now

Residents of Detroit and Kensington might disagree about the "far away" requirement, but your thoughts on this echo mine.


Spot on, in both cases.


I aspire to like them, and if I'm ever in Europe I intend to try one. They seem like such an obvious thing that should just work...

Alas, they've mostly been phased out — killed off by high speed rail. The ScotRail Sleeper from Euston to parts north is still running, but the French, German, Spanish and Italian ones are all dead — you need to look to the Trans-Siberian Railway or hotels-on-wheels like the Orient Express (which isn't — an express, that is) if you want to sleep on a train.


Last time I slept on a train I missed an announcement that they had decided to deviate from the written plan, disembark everyone who was heading in the same direction as I was and send it somewhere else. These days I go to great lengths to stay awake.

I have no confidence that they wouldn't pull that one with a sleeper if someone thought it would be funny.


They have restarted the one to Penzance, too! It's annoying about the Franco-Spanish-Italian situation, as it's a long trip from Paris to even Barcelona or Genoa, and getting from London (or Amsterdam or Frankfurt) to Madrid or Rome is more than a day's travel. Sleepers from Paris to Madrid and Rome would make a lot of sense.


I'm mostly annoyed that the NightStar service was cancelled before it even began — that was the Aberdeen/Edinburgh/Glasgow to Paris via St Pancras sleeper, using rolling stock that would transfer to the Eurostar/HS1 line after London.

As it is, the only practical way to get from where I live to Paris or Amsterdam is to fly. Yes, there's the overnight ferry to Rotterdam, which is viable if there are a couple of you and you're taking a car—but it's expensive and time-consuming (to say nothing of the risk of sea sickness). Train to London, then transfer to another train, and train to Paris, is a flat minimum of 8 hours if everything lines up just right, and costs about four or five times as much as flying.


Japan is now down to one regular rail sleeper service operating, the Sunrise Seto/Izumo service which runs between Tokyo and the south but there has been a resurgence in boutique sleeper services with several new upmarket tourism-oriented trainsets taking over some of the slack.

There's a large number of overnight sleeper-bus services which have filled in the gaps as the express road network has spread. The double-deckers commonly carry about forty people in single full-recliner seats rather than packing seventy-plus passengers in regular coach seating as they do here in the UK.


Well, according to ol' Google, in 2016, about 76% of petroleum extracted was used as fuel: 48% as gasoline, 20% as diesel and heating oil, 8% as jet fuel. Since I'm an environmentalist, I'm looking forward to the day when we can cut the petroleum industry down by 75%.

The tricky and interesting part is that there's a LOT of waste plastic around, and if the petroleum industry is massively down-scaled, I'd expect that recycling waste plastics might be a lot more economical. Not necessarily enough to shut the petroleum extraction industry down entirely, but when they're faced with the choice of processing tar sands to make plastics or processing landfills to recycle plastics, the two being fairly similar problems, they might actually decide that landfills are cheaper, due to transport costs.

My summer fantasy is that they figure out how to seal around fracking wells sufficiently well that they don't keep leaking methane everywhere. This accomplishes two good goals. One is that they stop leaking methane, which is fairly important, climate-wise. The other is that, if they can accomplish the non-trivial task of figuring out how to seal against methane leaks, they can theoretically repurpose at least some wells to sequester carbon. Since a carbon sequestration infrastructure has been calculated to be up to three times bigger than the entire fossil fuel extraction infrastructure, it would be just ducky if we could repurpose all those no-longer-used wells for long term carbon and methane sequestration. Not that anyone is willing to pay for it, which is why I label this a summer fantasy rather than a workable solution, but heck, I can dream.


Wait, what? You stayed at nj and Morrisa's place, Casa Iguana? OK, that's a connection I would never have expected.

(And yes, I also knew Curtis back in those days and he seemed like a fun guy then - everybody who knew him then just shakes their head grimly now.)


I have no confidence that they wouldn't pull that one with a sleeper if someone thought it would be funny.

Anecdote from the 1970s, when there used to be a sleeper service that ran from Inverness to Glasgow/Edinburgh—because the trip didn't take the whole night, they would let passengers board an hour or two before it was due to leave.

So, I'm on the Glasgow to Stirling train, going home in the evening, and I happen to be sitting behind a couple of British-Rail-as-was employees going off-shift. The conversation went as follows:

BR1: So, how was your day then?
BR2: It was sh*te.
BR1: Oh?
BR2: Well, see, I was on the Inverness tae Glasgow sleeper, an' there was some trouble wi' the engine. So one o' my passengers wakes up, sees we're in a station, an' asks if we're in Glasgow already, an' I have to tell him, "No, we havenae left Inverness yet."
BR1: Ah.
BR2: So, eventually we get going, an' the driver's goin' full tilt tryin' to get us to Glasgow on time. An' we're just goin' through Larbert station at about 100 mph when we realise we've forgotten to drop the Edinburgh coaches off at Stirling...


Yep. Just for a weekend. Small world, isn't it?


Re: our nanotech infested future. I suspect getting there is a bug-riddled and very expensive path.

Witness, for instance, recent reporting on the $13 Billion USS Ford (which was commissioned while still unfinished and unfit for service), and what's going on with the planes it's designed to carry), not to mention the thrice-cursed F-35. While it's great to see the US military get seriously into the welfare, this isn't quite the kind of (industrial) welfare I had in mind.

Anyway, expensive munitions are great when they're game changers. The problem is, when a gun firing $100 bullets can be overpowered by guns firing 90 $1 bullets, it's just not cost effective. This is why, to my knowledge, they're no longer manufacturing the $160 per shell XREP taser slugs for shotguns.


My summer fantasy is that they figure out how to seal around fracking wells sufficiently well that they don't keep leaking methane everywhere.
One problem finding the methane sources. Looks like I haven't linked this paper, so, looks to me like it could be done pretty inexpensively, i.e. a conscientious decamillionaire could fund a regional pilot, it would only hurt them(their bank accounts) a little, and they'd be considered a Good One in climate science circles. Plus, the big leaks are the most important, and easier to locate, and lost methane==lost money. (Texas in particular is messy because there are both cattle and fossil methane leaks; dunno how cheap isotope ratio (c14 in methane) analysis is/could be.)
A Mobile Sensing Approach for Regional Surveillance of Fugitive Methane Emissions in Oil and Gas Production
A total of two novel advancements are made here. First, a recursive Bayesian method is presented for probabilistically characterizing fugitive point-sources from mobile sensor data. This approach is made possible by a new cross-plume integrated dispersion formulation that overcomes much of the need for time-averaging concentration data. The method is tested here against a limited data set of controlled methane release and shown to perform well. We then present an information-theoretic approach to plan the paths of the sensor-equipped vehicle, where the path is chosen so as to maximize expected reduction in integrated target source rate uncertainty in the region, subject to given starting and ending positions and prevailing meteorological conditions. The information-driven sensor path planning algorithm is tested and shown to provide robust results across a wide range of conditions. An overall system concept is presented for optionally piggybacking of these techniques onto normal industry maintenance operations using sensor-equipped work trucks.
(bold mine)


...this comment on Metafilter.
I have to ask; how did you find this? There is clearly a gap in my finding methods (and yes I tried a small suite of partially-non-overlapping public metasearch engines).
Been resisting getting involved with metafilter (finite time/focus); probably wrong.
(Another pun/thread is the US is now dealing with a Scar in the Trump administration.)


The tricky and interesting part is that there's a LOT of waste plastic around, and if the petroleum industry is massively down-scaled, I'd expect that recycling waste plastics might be a lot more economical.

The simple solution to recycle plastics is to burn them and dump the resulting CO2 to the atmosphere. Garbage-burning is regarded as a "renewable" energy source in many countries such as Germany and a significant amount of such material is petroleum-derived plastics.


While you have a point, those who call for unity on the left - especially "moderates" who do so - tend to forget the "extremists" are well aware of the long history of their predecessors uniting with the centre-left and promptly being betrayed once some faction thinks "we've gone far enough, thanks."

An example: German unions won recognition and the 8 hour day. Great! Except they won it by promising industry would not be nationalised in the middle of an ongoing socialist revolution. You see how this could rankle.


Hi, again, She of the Many Names. So, now your washing your laundry for us.... Sitting here in the DC 'burbs, I have horrible fears that you're the Real Thing.

They haven't yet voted - the neofacists arestill fueding with the neoConfederates over how much to hurt their own voters. You did notice that the last attempt to come up with a plan was comprised of 13 old white men, not even any Rethuglican woman allowed?

Mieveille, funny you should mention him. I went to his presentation in DC at Politics & Prose on his new book, October, and just bought it Sunday (and today I find out there was an epub version....) Can't remember the last time I bought a new hardback - decades, at least.

Started it last night, and had trouble putting it down to go to sleep. The real joy of a REALLY GOOD author, and telling history as well as he would a tale....

But it was, of course, still in my mind this morning, when I realized a far worse... and the more I consider, far better fit comparison for what's going on here, and the realization was centered on Bannon. I've read him, even saying, that he was a conservative Leninist.

Ah, no. He's more like a conservative Stalinist, my thought ran... and that's when it hit me:
Q: what do you call a conservative Stalinist?
A: A Tsarist. With Trump as Tsar, of course, with *his* military, and *his* economy, and....

Which, of course, makes Bannon Rasputin, since Trump, IMO, most resembles Nicholas II, yes?

Time to start singing "Justice thunders condemnation...."


No, except insofar as today's infantry in ballistic vests and helmets who travel in IFVs are largely proof against 18th/early 19th century infantry firing musket volleys.

The qualifier is, of course, "largely". Current body armour weighs over 10kg; it only protects the front and rear of the torso against current small-arms, and the head against fragments (but not bullets). Limbs and face are unprotected; and larger calibres (12.7mm / 0.50 cal) will still penetrate a torso plate that can be carried by a human.

Note also that the more IFVs you have, the larger your logistic tail - and those logistic vehicles are largely unprotected (hence the military being attracted by autonomous vehicles). ISTR a statistic that every gallon of fuel at a patrol base in Afghanistan cost forty gallons of fuel to deliver it. With IFVs weighing in at over 30 tonnes for anything with reasonable protection, there's a definite tradeoff between protection and mobility.

As you pointed out, "If you make a thicker-walled tin can, someone will make a better can opener" - this applies to armoured vehicles; IEDs just get bigger. Modern tanks are still being destroyed, not least by progressively bigger IEDs (nothing is really proof against driving over a couple of hundred kilos of explosive); and PIRA took to sniping with 0.50 rifles at short range, in the face of improved British body armour.

(I expect rifles to be obsolescent in our brave new nanotech-infested future. As obsolescent as muzzle-loading muskets are today. There'll probably still be barrel-launched explosive-propellant powered weapons, but they won't be rifles; more like terrifyingly advanced descendants of the XM25 firing a range of exciting and unpleasant guided payloads. And human soldiers won't be deployed on high energy battlefields unless something goes horribly wrong.)

That brave new nanotech future won't be evenly distributed - I rather suspect that only first-world militaries will be able to afford them for a long time. And the fragments from an XM25 or similar have less kinetic energy than a rifle bullet; if workable fullerene armourcloth can cover the whole body, it's back to direct kinetic penetrators, i.e. bullets. Cost is also a factor; most shots miss (the really-old statistic for small-arms is that there's a casualty for every man's weight in lead fired; it still holds true). Here's a "been there, done that" view of small-arms effectiveness in Afghanistan.

You may find that instead, the rifles just get bigger and carry better sights and smart bullets (a la Vernor Vinge). Prototype guided bullets exist; the interesting race will be to see if they can be made to seek out weak points in armour.

How it all pans out is going to be an interesting balance between the power/weight ratio of exoskeletons, the weight of effective armour, the power supplies and consumption rates, and the weaponry required to penetrate it. If armour is light enough, and exoskeletons powerful enough, you get Mobile Infantry with GBFO guns. Otherwise, you'll still be seeing people carrying weaponry at current power levels.

By way of analogy - tanks and manned aircraft have been declared soon-to-be-obsolete for sixty years now; yet they still exist. While their shape and weight may change, there's probably still going to be a need for spam to drive the cans.


Whoops, forgot to insert the "effectiveness" link I mentioned. Don't worry, the thread title doesn't render it NSFW (although the language may, as ever, offend those of delicate sensibilities)


Whatever personal weapons soldiers carry in the future they will still have bayonet mounts.

(I had to laugh when watching a bit of the Evangelion anime series where the Big Fuck-Off Robots had assorted weapons scaled to their size, including the Mother Of All Boxcutter knives...)

I have to ask; how did you find this? There is clearly a gap in my finding methods

I just happened to have already seen that thread earlier in the day (and had felt similarly toward Slap*Happy's bizarre criticisms of Miéville, tbh).

Metafilter's a big read but you find some amazing and unexpected things there sometimes (my favourite in the past year has to be the script for the film Shane Carruth spent nearly a decade trying to make after Primer, thanks to someone's offhanded comment).


And if Mr Z even manages to achieve half of that stuff I'd elect him World President.

My daughter, (25 with gainful employment), admires what he is doing. And would really like to work for the rocket company. But she is convinced that like many of the dot com billionaire geniuses he's a social ass and would never succeed in a situation where tgeting along with people who are not infatuated with the "project" is needed.

Apparently his personal life makes Mr. T look somewhat normal.


And there's the ( seventh voyage of ) SIMAD ( Single Individual Massively Destructive ) to think about


FWIW, the Bannon-Rasputin thing was an early thought, e.g.
Opinion Steve Bannon, Trump’s Rasputin in the White House, 16 Nov 2016.
(He doesn't have the looks though. :-)
Lots of Senatorial egos (some influence-able) in play ATM. Anyone US voters who care should pay close attention and keep/become active if they have any spare time (and especially skills).


Yes. That Major was a spiteful little b*gg*r.


Okay - haven't read all the posts but of those I scanned, did notice that there's no mention of youth rebellion or young figureheads. Both figure in history. And it doesn't have to be a very young person leading the masses, just a youth-oriented way of looking at the world/situation. Lastly - I think the timing may be about right to hear from today's youth because the last time the youth rallied the masses was sometime around the mid-80s (idealism - fighting world hunger) followed by the late 90s/aughts (dotcom billionaires who're retiring in droves about now).

Tie-in to the topic .... Guess there just weren't that many youths in Fleming's era when he was writing his 007 tales. Although it could be that Fleming intended 007 to represent the youth of his day being guided (misguided) by the older, wiser?, but definitely more blood-thirsty powers that be. Also, from what I recall reading, Fleming seemed to ignore the chaos in Asia (NK, VN), so not sure his world view had anything to do with his era's contemporary politics.

EM is probably the closest to both fitting the youthful revolutionary and the 007 villain. Do wonder why IF never had a private, genius-level, non-gov't agency hero - not the Iron Man narcissist, just someone with these qualities and a working moral compass.

Personally, would like to propose another candidate for contemporary 007 villain - JK, that other real estate genius and quiet son-in-law who's undergoing some questioning this week about his connections with another 007-type villain.


That wasn't quite the problem I was thinking of, although detecting methane leaks is an underfunded and technically challenging chore.

No, the problem I was thinking was this (2016 Source at Wired): "Catastrophic blowouts like the recent one at Porter Ranch in California pour a lot of methane into the air, but even these accidents are small compared to the total seeping out from the millions of pipes, welds, joints, and valves across the country-especially the ones connected with fracking operations, which involve exploding rock to make large, leaky pores. A Canadian government team examined the whole process a couple of years ago and came up with despairing conclusions. Consider the cement seals around drill pipes, says Harvard’s Naomi Oreskes, who was a member of the team: “It sounds like it ought to be simple to make a cement seal, but the phrase we finally fixed on is ‘an unresolved engineering challenge.’ The technical problem is that when you pour cement into a well and it solidifies, it shrinks. You can get gaps in the cement. All wells leak.”"

Leaky wells aren't good enough for sequestering gases.


I claim my $5.


16 Nov 2016?

Some random was talking about it in Feb 24th 2016.

Which Real Thing[tm]? I'm N0B0DY. It's like SPECTRE, but the cat is one of these (yes, that's a Communist joke and a Goddess joke and a total tie-in. Wee.).


You've missed the humor of my response. Miéville is explicitly not referencing Western surrealists, and especially not Dali, he's more interested in (punchline) anarchist feminist gender-non-binary-fluidity painters such as Toyen:

Among Toyen's most memorable creations, her set of lithographs produced under Nazi occupation in 1939–40 entitled Tir (The Shooting Gallery) is arguably one of her most evocative works. It was published in Paris in 1973 as a limited edition (livre-de-peintre). Here the artist found it possible to redirect the personal grief over her homeland's loss of its freedom into a nightmare excursion, transforming the wonderland of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass into a Surrealistic view of the world as a shooting gallery.

Toyen Encyclopedia.

Despite the insistence of some historians to use the feminine case while referring to Toyen, he referred to himself in the masculine case and because of that, we will also refer to her as he.

Czech Transgender Artist Toyen Tres Bohemes, April 7th, 2017

THE SHOUTY ALLCAPS are a signifier that I was quoting someone who was literally completely misunderstanding Miéville's reasons for studying the surrealists (note: I've not read that book yet, so no qualitative statements) and who is in fact focused on the subject in a manner which screams "ally".

And thus, the joke explained. And just before Trump's latest "please the Tea Party Dominonist hold-outs who are blocking the ACHAHAHA bill being passed so he just tweeted out a total ban because why the fuck not".

Narrator: Did you really just? Pre-tweet?

Yep, sorry.

@Greg - no, not 'The Jews'. They're focused on "bad hombres and the WEIRDS" first. But as ever, slippery slope, there's "Our Jews" and "THOSE JEWS", remember? MF was chosen because some of them fall under THOSE and need a prod. No panic, focus and EyEs Open.


Apparently his personal life makes Mr. T look somewhat normal.

He has five sons and a site on a Pacific island. I don't think any of the boys are named after Mercury astronauts though, and no sign of an oriental man-servant with a daughter and a glowing-eyed dodgy brother. Yet...


You can travel in a sleeper car from Helsinki to for example Oulu, Rovaniemi, or Kolari. We did the Helsinki-Rovaniemi a couple of years ago and drove further North.


Napoleon was not a tyrant
Either liar or seriously misinformed
French male average heigh declined by about an inch as a result of his slaughter of French soldiers
He arbirarioly had people killed who got in hios way & plundered Europe for loot.
"Not a Tyrant" - Bollocks


"They make a desert & call it peace"
Nothing new there, either


Just to complete your trifecta, guns have been around for ~1,000 years and bows have been around for >>10,000 years, yet they're still used (example). And spears have been around >>100,000 years, but they're still putting bayonet lugs on guns, and for good reason. Weaponry tends to be additive.

Personally, I think the idea of nanotech bullets is right up there with the radium bullets in John Carter of Mars. It was a wonderfully futuristic idea for 1906 (imagine a folk industry of radium mining just to make bullets for tharks), but in WW1, IIRC they went for machine guns instead of high tech bullets.

Right now, I'd suggest that the greatest innovations are in cyberwar and information warfare. It's not just all the linked stuff, it's that basically we've mechanized things like non-violent strikes with DDOS attacks, and you can immobilize a city by trashing their water, power, and transportation grids about as effectively as you can by bombing them. I'd even submit that, with the 2016 election, Russia basically nuked Washington DC, and we're now left with a cadre of politicians in power who seem to be dedicated to disassembling American control systems, rather than keeping them running.

We're still in an interesting age where the presence of nukes keeps the lid on warfare, and so long as we can manufacture such missiles, I don't think high energy war's going to be where the innovations are. Then again, war by other means seems to be getting increasingly nasty.


Tie-in to the topic .... Guess there just weren't that many youths in Fleming's era when he was writing his 007 tales. Although it could be that Fleming intended 007 to represent the youth of his day being guided (misguided) by the older, wiser?, but definitely more blood-thirsty powers that be.

Not sure about that - in the books (set in the 1950s to early 1960s), Bond has wartime service behind him, as a Lt.Cmdr RNVR; so was "born" around 1920. He's in his late thirties / early forties, and drives a big Bentley.

Hardly "youth of his day" - especially when you consider that responsibility of the WW2 era involved "if you're good enough, you're old enough". There were 29-year-old Brigade Commanders, 24-year-old Battalion Commanders. There were teenagers with commissions, responsible for the lives of a score of others (see George Macdonald Fraser). Guy Gibson, who led the Dambusters raid, was a Wing Commander at 23; Leonard Cheshire was a Group Captain at 25.

Also, from what I recall reading, Fleming seemed to ignore the chaos in Asia (NK, VN), so not sure his world view had anything to do with his era's contemporary politics.

Vietnam hadn't really happened yet... and Korea was probably too recent.


At least the Romans never pretended that they were bombing you for your own good.


Um, you're all really, really out of date.

Flashlights with puke rays. Mobile microwave pain beams. The world of less-than-lethal weapons is filled with exotic and just plain weird devices to annoy and thwart enemies. Now, Israel's throwing its hat in the ring with another, called "the Scream."

'The Scream': Israel Blasts Protesters With Sonic Gun Wired, 2011.

Israel pioneered the use of drones / constant sonic disruption on civilian populations. (US did it with Planes, Israel just kinda upped their game a bit, well at least post the first time they used F15s for this purpose - No, they're not the only ones. No, don't give a shit about their history. Evil bastard usage applies).


Oooh... Now, if you had Drones that could deploy this stuff, wouldn't that change warfare?

Hint: DARPA [redacted] already in production.



Gonna have to make it obvious, no-one gets the Art jokes, let alone the complicated stuff.

The Chinese effort could neutralize decades of investment by the United States in its own directed-energy weapons, including lasers, electromagnetic railguns and high-power microwave arms. The Pentagon in the past developed an airborne laser for use in missile defenses and railguns are expected to be deployed in the early 2020s. High-powered compact laser guns are slated for the 2030s.

How China's Mad Scientists Plan to Shock America's Military: Super Lasers, Railguns and Microwave Weapons The National Interest, 10th Mar, 2017


Already up there, boys. Infantry in a non-urban civilian pacification role? D O D O T E C H.


The hint is the time delay between consciousness and VOICE. FUCKING MUPPETS.


So Musk is actually like "Q", Bond's go to gadget scientist:

"For this mission 007 you will be driving a Tesla Model 3 with modifications. Now, pay attention please. Windscreen - bulletproof. As are the side and the rear windows. Revolving number plates, naturally. Valid - all countries. ... Here's a nice little transmitting device. Its called a homer. You prime it by pressing that back like this. You see. The smaller model is now standard field issue - to be fitted into the heel of your shoe. Its larger brother is magnetic. Right. It can be concealed in the car your trailing while you keep out of sight. Reception - on the dashboard here....Open the top and inside are your defense mechanism controls. Smokescreen. Oil slick. Rear bulletproof screen. And left and right front wing machine guns. Now, this one I'm particularly keen on. You see the gear lever here. Now, if you take the top off, you find a little red button. Whatever you do, don't touch it....Because you release this section of the roof and engage and fire the passenger ejector seat. Whoosh!. All battery powered, naturally."

(Can a 2017 Tesla look as cool as an 1964 Aston Martin DB5?)

P.S. If Musk was a woman, he would be the super hot genius female scientist that Bond saves from the bad guys and has sex with after killing about a dozen villains.


Not really. There's a place for less lethal weapons, but as Israel's shown many times (as have cops all over the place), torturing people in public with less lethal weapons has its own penalties. The weapons themselves are most useful in two situations: self defense and the Batman Gambit, where someone defeats lethal force with less than lethal force (e.g. the lesser opponent defeats the greater one, which plays to our sympathies).

Unfortunately, doing a Batman goes against doctrine for most police (and arguably military units), where threats are to be met with superior force in order to maximize the safety of the people pulling the triggers. As crowd control weapons, most less lethal arms, while effective, can be cause bad whiplashes of political jujitsu. On the battlefield (as demonstrated in Somalia), they're generally pretty useless, although oldies like barbed wire and cheval de frise work wonders in the right places.

Still, it's a fun ride, and I do keep track of less lethal armament developments. Although it's obsolete now, my personal favorite is the original lang xian.


You um,.. you understand what jokes are, right? You can't just make references to topics, even clever multiple veiled references to alarming topics, and expect them to be funny.

Laughter is like a flight/fight/freeze-in-paralysis reflex, except there's a fourth one: make a chattering noise to alert your fellow primates that you've spotted something out of whack, dangerous, that there's something wrong but you can't figure out what. Gibbering in fear is what laughter is, but as a useful social signal.

Basically, all comedy is derived from fear (including suddenly being aware (or suspecting) that there's something you don't know) and a desire to communicate, not how many obscure references you manage to bury + allude to.

(I'd um honestly like to talk about your Goddess tho, .)


"If anyone wishes to prove that a climate modelling program is wrong, all they have to do is undertake the same exercise themselves."

Please note that the oil, coal and gas companies have lots and lots and lots of money.

And skilled programmers.

And skill mathematical modelers.


"Of course, the cop in question in this case is simultaneously a member of two groups protected by PC, so even though this particular cop has already been investigated for improper conduct three times in the two years he has been active on the force he gets a "stay out of jail free" card."

For those of you not in the USA, it's rather common that officers involved in bad things are f*ck-ups.

For example, the guy in Cleveland who shot a 12-year old boy playing with a toy gun had been fired from another force because they didn't feel safe around him.

In addition, there are few protected groups so protected by society as the police.


The um.. the joke's not funny if you act like an all knowing omnipotent narrator about it, is what i'm trying to say? (Arrested Development's narration worked because it subverted what the audience expected from sitcoms 15 years ago.)


(And, obviously, if no one realises you were even making a joke! Your audience will not level up through *nose wiggles*, you have to write 'down' / not assuming they know literally everything you just googled.)


The Q you describe wouldn't be working with a 2017 Tesla since the Q in the latest films (starting especially with Skyfall, iirc, or maybe earlier still?) has to deal with budget cuts among other things, rather than being in an omnicompetent and indispensible agency.


Well, not long before, there is Richelieu, though he's subtler than most of the people Bond takes down.

(On a tangentially related track, I worked out the concept for a superhero movie where Richelieu has his top agents, Rochefort and Milady, put together a team of agents including Roland (brought back from a hidden cave under the Pyrenees), Gargantua, Cyrano de Bergerac, and the Archangel Michael to combat a sinister plot of Michael's brother Lucifer.)

Sticking with the monarchy theme, there is Akhenaten founding a bizarre religious cult; Qin Shihuangdi's sinister scheme to unify China under legalist governance; Zenobia's rebellion against the Romans (though I'm tempted to sympathize with her, since the Roman Emperors were often pieces of work themselves); Edward I's subjugation of Wales and expulsion of the Jews; Henry VIII's unique approach to marital discord. . . .


That business about Napoleon's impact on the height of the French population is one I've heard before, but I think it's crap. Mathematical population genetics shows that you need a massive number of deaths prior to reproduction to shift the percentage of any particular gene by a meaningful amount. Napoleon only had one generation to work with, and I wouldn't count on the "prior to reproduction": one of the characteristic things a young man does before going off to war is ask his young lady to send him off properly (there's even a poem by Kipling about it, "The Absent-Minded Beggar"). I'll back off on this if you have a seriously population genetics model backed by historical statistics, but my quick and dirty estimate with the equations in Dobzhansky's textbook made it look like you needed a lot more than the 15% of the male population (estimate per that the European wars did away with.


Genes? What about malnutrition, disease, and stunted growth?


Henry VIII's unique approach to marital discord

What was that? I thought he just did the usual thing of sending them away and killing off the ones that caused problems. That approach goes back probably before recorded history, but it's definitely recorded very early on. Nero's predecessor Claudius was allegedly murdered by his wife, for example.


If I wanted to shunt people around the US at ground level and great speed, I'd be asking the Japanese and European operations to submit tenders, not dreaming about vacuums.

After watching (with a somewhat inside view) a mass transit system rise and fall around here I suspect property rights are much harder to deal with in the eastern half of the US compared to France or Japan. Especially if you want to go fast which leads to relatively straight rail lines which require entirely new right of ways cutting through all kinds of personal property rights.

As it is getting new gas lines built on the east coast stirs up all kinds of confrontations and a gas line can do all kinds of twist and turns to avoid problem spots. And is likely to be more benign to the area when finished than a high speed train.


you will spend a lot more time packing people in and out of the projectiles than you do actually hyping them. Not that that seems to affect airlines...

Say what? Airline operations people hate short haul flights. They cost a fortune and people resent paying for the costs.[1]

[1]Landing/takeoff fees for a short flight vs. a medium flight are the same or nearly so for many situations. Costs of loading/unloading/staffing at each end are the same. So all you've really got are the fuel costs and clock time of the crew.[2]

[2] In the US there's a complicated way that crews are clocked and when they "timeout" they have to get off the plane unless the flight is already in progress.


Basically, all comedy is derived from fear (including suddenly being aware (or suspecting) that there's something you don't know) and a desire to communicate...
That's a really (depressingly, even) constrained definition of comedy fwiw, though I guess it works for broad audiences. Many named one's' jokes - let's see if I can map it (my impression(s)) to language coherently - usually have rather complex structure (from my POV at least) with multiple sub-jokes weaved/layered together. When I see the structure, it (the structure itself) is usually pretty funny or at least pleasing. Anyway, read through a few more of the joke explanations in her (we'll assume:-) own words. These are not mainstream (human) comedy joke structures. Also our host finds them amusing.
(Note; speaking as somebody easily amused, who has been counseled for laughing at things that are "not funny", and even for smiling too much.)

Anyhow, back to staring at the current American Rogues Gallery (details) (updated weekly), ostensibly[1] still led by Mr T. We really do have a cast of movie villains (plus a few that I find hard to dislike), and they are just the visible villains/puppets. Not sure for example what levers are available for influencing Scar/Mooch, or Mulvaney, or Bannon or Miller.
[1] mental trajectory, well, judge for yourselves.

Oh my, a large male Promethea moth is flying around my head, attracted by a light. Summertime! And time to turn out the light so it doesn't hurt itself.


The reason trains in the US are so slow, as I believe I've mentioned before, is that, with the exception of the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak doesn't own its own trackage, but uses leased trackage... and the railroads keep them up to slower freight standards, not high-speed passenger standards.

While that's a non trivial part of the problem it way over simplifies the issues. Here in NC we actually have some dedicated passenger rail lines and some leased freight lines in good shape. But the costs of going faster for the desired


My rule of thumb is if I can drive it in less than 5 hours, driving is typically faster than flying. And then there's the conference I attended at State College PA every year. You can't get there from here via a plane. At least not in less than about 7+ hours door to door. (State College is a small town with not much air service located 2+ hours from most anything else.) Plus you don't get to pick your travel time and land in a very small town without any transportation. So I do the 7 1/2 hour drive each year.


For all its faults, and occasional aberrations (e.g. Mao), China has a long record of fairly successful governance.

They seem to occupy a few of the larger spots on this list.


We absolutely need people asking why Al Gore flies around the world telling people that flying round the world has to stop

Don't forget the 24/7 gas lights for the driveway of his mansion.

Al Gore was one of the worst things to happen to the US environmental movement.


Let's take his methods of dealing with them in reverse order...

#6: die before anything exciting happens.
#5: bump her off for shagging around.
#4: give her the push on the grounds that he never actually fucked her so it didn't count.
#3: she died before anything exciting happens.
#2: call her a witch and bump her off.
#1: tell the Pope to fuck off, declare himself to be head of the church now, destabilise the entire religious establishment of the country, kick out anyone in said establishment who disagreed with him and nick all their stuff, then drop the disagreement condition and just nick all their stuff anyway, piss off the daughter by the marriage who then succeeds him and starts offing all the ones who were on her dad's side, set the scene for civil war a century after his death and the takeover of the monarchy a few years after by a Dutch fruit...


That's not a version I've heard before, and it's more plausible than the "natural selection" argument I had presented to me many years ago.


Pigeon anticipated my answer, which was "found a schismatic church." Followed, of course, by nationalizing the monasteries and selling their land, buildings, and movable assets off to rich aristocrats, but that's a lot more commonplace, with or without the excuse of a disappointing marriage.


Whether or not it is true, and whether he was brutal or not, it doesn't make him a tyrant, though he assuredly was imperialist and aggressive. But most of the histories the English-speaking world reads were written by the conquerors, and quite a lot is simple propaganda. The French people wouldn't have risen up to support him after his return from Elba if he was a tyrant.

Heteromeles is certainly correct, and there are plenty of such occurrences in British history. However, I have seen historians cast doubt on the claim for the reason given above and, even if it is true, blaming Napoleon is dubious.


I've always assumed that the restraint systems and boarding procedures for a hyperloop type system would look more like those for a high-energy, white-knuckle theme park ride than an airliner. This would go double for a hypothetical short-hop implementation.


It wasn't as simple as that. The Pope was claiming to be in secular authority over all the kings of Europe, with the right to appoint and dismiss at will, and it was primarily a political dispute. We saw a relic of that recently, when the then Pope told the Irish how to vote, and the Irish told him to fuck off.

If you look at the Thirty-Nine Articles, you will see that pretty clearly; the religious ones were mostly in common with Roman Catholicism, and most of the rest were cleaning up practices that have since been cleaned up in it, too. The religious difference between modern High Anglicanism (the direct descendant) and modern Roman Catholicism is pretty small.


You should always GREP. What do Cats do? Yep, it's the inevitable paw swipe!

Someone posted a link to Miéville & October & a New Yorker interview to this very blog, oh... on the day it was published. No idea who she was, odd name and weird behavior. It's there though, like a temporal land mine. (Hint: We love him, much as we love Host).

We'll make it explicit for you:

Who is a creative person (not a writer) who has influenced you and your work?

It could be many people, but someone who’s been looming very large to me for years now is the painter Toyen, who was extraordinarily transgressive about gender and refused to be pinned down in a certain structure of patriarchy. Toyen was instrumental in setting up the Czech surrealist group in 1934; shielded a partner during the Nazi occupation; and remained active at 70.

Tell Us 5 Things About Your Book: China Miéville on the Russian Revolution NYT, 17th May, 2017

Basically, all comedy is derived from fear

This isn't anywhere near true, most humor is derived from love / shared experiences / memory activation ("Pet Names" in couples etc) but if it were the case... You'd be pissing yourself laughing at this point, my boy.


Yes, it's just about defensible, but it's really edge case if you start GREPPING and seeing the setup for it. But let's just say: fellow primates. not assuming they know literally everything you just googled: you didn't follow the links. There's an entire thread about pineapples that's ~1+ year old you should read before making the classic "you just googled that" accusation.

You should probably read that thread, note the date, then note reality.



And, Mr Xbat, if you want some real "revanchist sneering", you'll read that thread and see some real references to the birth of surrealism in the Russian Revolutionary period, that I strongly doubt most Americans could ever make, or understand. Full on Apollonian / Dionysian divide stuff, and they all got fucking murdered for it.

And it x-references it to a 4chan joke while making a point.

Art: don't point fingers when your country is young enough to still pretend its insanity is anything new nor wasn't moddle-cuddled by the Robber Barons as "safe" while being utterly morally corrupt.

Stieglitz? How nice and fitting for the K-Street gang. How fucking safe. How fucking "New Yorker".

Try some Алекса́ндр Миха́йлович Ро́дченко


The Cat really does walk through walls, only the walls are clouds and your reality boundaries, dear.


I hate to break it to you, Charlie, but the bright shiny object that is Musk's Tesla is a snare and a delusion.

It may make a few yuppies feel like they're saving the planet, and it may have some propaganda value as a demonstration of non-petroleum based solutions to vehicle propulsion, but a breakthrough in green transport it ain't.

Just look at this story from today's pink 'un:

In fact, it actually reminds of Hubbard's famous e-meter, another bit of technological fetishism which might have served the whims of a demented cult reader, but had no actual, real, empirical basis for its claims.


"P.S. If Musk was a woman, he would be the super hot genius female scientist that Bond saves from the bad guys and has sex with after killing about a dozen villains."

I see you've given this matter some thought.


Oh, and if you want the fuller joke. Read the thread from Feb 2016.

Acmeist vrs Zaum. With links to the original Russian.


Now look at reality & what Miéville then produced.

If you want to start to discuss Art Critique & Surrealism, know something about it (unlike, say, totally mischaracterising his work ignorantly and misreading basic Narrative Tropes). Stieglitz as the birth of photography & surrealism? That's WASP ignorance in a can, nice safe little bubble, nice safe little world, nice safe little bubble getting mauled by Trump as we speak.

You can change your diaper now.


This is just play-Tiger. If you wanted actual "revanchist sneering" it'd get a lot more technical. But no need for people who can't even understand a joke about Capital, Male = autistic feeble engineers and Women = blood sucking sexual tyrants and understand the author is probably not actually thinking that's a great or noble societal thing.

Which is why they're on the arse-end of beyond, exiled and so forth. But that's all a bit too deep for some audiences.


Oh yes Jetstar...sigh.

In a former life I worked for a railcar manufacturer called Goninans and we built trains! Literally from the ground up (bogies) as full design and construct exercises. Our last two designs (OSCAR and HRC) were rated to at least 130kmph on test track. But on the NSW network they were lucky to hit 100 kmph on a study run. As a an engineer I just couldn't believe how lucky I was. Oh, yeah, and we don't design and build trains in Australia anymore. Mainly because the conglomerate that bought us out just couldn't understand how we could take risks (and a commercial bath) on the delivery because we'd always get the lucrative support contract, meh.

Fast forward to today and my current project is building the new continent wide integrated national air traffic management system (OneSky). With the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne air corridor is (as I recall) the 7th busiest in the world it's kind of 'about time'. We're currently projecting that OneSky will achieve full self awareness and then carry out a hostile takeover of the ATC centres about two years into operations.


(If you want a real adult joke: it's not AAA x3 batteries that resurrect the fallen, it's blood. But freely given, sucked from a slashed palm, not raped from the dead under terror and fear. But you'll want to know your Acmeist & Zaum and what happened to them first before you even attempt to play Culture Guardians with us with your pet Jew fetishes).

And yeah, totally did just tie that all into Mosquito Women. Now, a coffee - America is proving puerile to the extremis.

The actual revolution, which is the Democratic Party alliance with the GOP Neocons / money beasts is the actual story.

And they really like slaves, blood and death. Hint hint.


Or there's Mr Ki, who in the wake of disastrous civil war founds a reclusive hermit state that requires everyone to dress like they're an extra from a nineteen fifties film. All the while building the worlds largest minefield, underground cities, factories, bases and lairs.

Hobbies: Abducting folk from nearby countries for the lolz, delivering multi hour speeches and tweaking the nose of the capitalist running dogs.

Aspirations: To become a nuclear power and be able to flash vaporise Washington. Well, at least Anchorage, or maybe Darwin. Damn it, those Teapot II launchers are so unreliable...

Exit strategy: Ascend from corporal existence to be the eternal president of the republic while maintaining a firm grip on the material below through your avatar KiJ.


They've been mostly (if not entirely, I wouldn't know) phased out here in Oz too - probably hence Moz's expressed wish. There has been a significant and appreciable anti-rail bias in infrastructure funding in the last 30 years or so, especially for the 11 years from 1996 when we elected the Howard government federally.

I've found the sleeping berth to be a rare delight, though at the end it was more expensive than flying. I've done it on runs from Brisbane to Sydney (to Canberra, though that's only a 3 hour extra leg after the overnight run), Brisbane to Rockhampton (the Capricornian) and (much longer ago when I was a kid in the 70s) between Sydney and Melbourne. Sadly as they phased out sleeping berths, they continued to call carriages with upright seats that reclined "sleeping cars" and called trains that had those sleeper services.

I recall one journey from Sydney to Albury in the late 80s, riding in one of those compartments where there are two long bench seats facing each other... recognisably Victorian era arrangement. As smoking was normal, and as a teenager, I had a few good tokes on a fellow passenger's offered joint and nearly missed my stop (it was like 2am anyway). Then I had to find an all night diner to wait till the people I was going to visit were awake. Think I wrote my first published short story in the truck stop I found.

The loss of interesting rail services is just one of the outcomes of conservative governments that I take personally.


I have heard that even Sudanese railways is not what it used to be when I travelled fourth class on it.


Aye lad, Sudanese fourth? You were lucky!


I wonder how many times this was the real explanation. Thanks.

And the linked discussion actually looked fairly interesting.


Regarding Dante's opinions: I think it's interesting how reviled Henry III (of England) was. By our standards, he was probably a better monarch than most. But to his contemporaries he was an abject failure as a prince. It was (supposedly) a time when men were real men, women were real women and you were burned at the stake if you claimed there could be real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.


Sudanese Fourth? Luxury! Why, when I were a lad...


Our Swedish conservative leader alas tries too hard to emulate the tories (villain index 4/10).
Now a Laundry-esque outsourcing of secret government services has led to secret information going AWOL (alas, no supernatural entities involved). So now there is going to be a parliamentary crisis. [I might add the outsourcing started under the conservatives and continued under the social democrats].

“IT workers in other countries had access to secret Swedish records: report”

This had consequences.

The likely result will be increased influence for our Tea Party wannabees (villain index 8/10, they are descended from real white supremacists!)


Oh, aye! That I were. Nice comfortable wooden slat seats, a roof to keep the sun off, wooden shutters to keep the sand out, a cubicle with a door around the necessary hole in the floor, and a large porous pottery water jar in every carriage. Luxury!


So Cyberdyne then? And I thought they were in Silicon Valley . . . .

Re: Ian Fleming and the original Bond novels - the thirteen original novels and the posthumous short story collection were written between 1953 and 1965, and even at the time were barely contemporary, and have to be considered deeply racist, misogynistic and classist by today's standards. They are also GREAT fun to read, in a particular frame of mind. I find it interesting that he avoided casting his villains as part of the Red Menace, instead creating SPECTRE or choosing individual criminal masterminds. He was also consistent in creating a personal antipathy between Bond and his targets, focusing the conflict between two individuals, not two members of opposing governments. This is, of course, in no way how real espionage or current conflicts work.

Osama Bin Laden was a symptom, not a cause; Vladimir Putin is the visible manifestation of the cabal of former KGB, Russian Mafiosi and modern robber barons that run Russia; Kim Jong Il is a cautionary tale of the woes of hereditary patrimony; and Mr. Trump is the end result of the far right's 40 year campaign to warp the Republican Party into the Give the Rich all the Things Party, plus the U.S. bizarre fascination with "reality" television.

I do find it amusing, thought I can't find a link on YouTube, that at one point I saw a talk show interview where Musk said he was almost a perfect fit as a Bond villain. Of course, that's what a Bond villain would say . . . .


Damn, I am crap at editing my own writing. That should be "I do find it amusing, though", and there are twelve Fleming novels and two short story collections. My bad.


David L. noted: "My rule of thumb is if I can drive it in less than 5 hours, driving is typically faster than flying."

Fully agreed. One thing didn't mention about taking the train is that I can get 4 hours of work done (writing, editing) or 4 hours of reading done while someone else does the driving. I can read on an airplane, but since I barely fit in the seats of a plane even without a laptop, writing is enough of a PITA that I rarely make the effort.

So for short distances, this is all about the luxury of having someone else do all the work rather than cost. Since I drive a Prius, it would be far cheaper to drive than to pay trainfare. But it seems unwise to be writing, editing, and reading while at the wheel. I'll have to wait for the self-driving Prius before that becomes an option.


You probably wouldn't want to know that that is only one of the sources responded to in Real Time[tm][1]. But, of course, it's all merely surface level googling and so forth. :p


On topic, since everyone loves their symbolism, EMBERS:

EMBERS is an anticipatory intelligence system forecasting population-level events in multiple countries of Latin America. A deployed system from 2012, EMBERS has been generating alerts 24x7 by ingesting a broad range of data sources including news, blogs, tweets, machine coded events, currency rates, and food prices. In this paper, we describe our experiences operating EMBERS continuously for nearly 4 years, with specific attention to the discoveries it has enabled, correct as well as missed forecasts, lessons learnt from participating in a forecasting tournament, and our perspectives on the limits of forecasting including ethical consideration

EMBERS at 4 years: Experiences operating an Open Source Indicators Forecasting System Discovery Analytics Center, Dept. of Comp.Science, Virginia Tech, Arlington, 2016, PDF, legal.

It's amazing how bots (spiders, to be more accurate) chase links.

*nose wiggle*

[1] Professionally irked - AC&Zaum is, well. Just re-read that prior thread now knowing what you know now about current events. It'll make more sense. Kinda. If you're lucky. We don't like the Ap/Dyn getting squished, even the 'Dark' ones (within reasonable parameters, of course).


Can I just chip in at this point and remind everyone that it's grep, not GREP?

It's the name of a command from a case-sensitive operating system and is definitively lowercase.

(This reminder cbrought to you by the fingernails-on-a-blackboard department.)


I can't read the ft; it's paywalled to hell and back. If you want to convince me, find an accessible source or summarize?


Yeah what Charlie said. `grep -v Trump < newsmedia | grep -v Russia` or something, it's getting old. Or at least cold.


Yes, sorry, i definitely hadn't done enough research / read the old threads to understand everything (but could you please not shout 'GREP' always? Yes it was originally an acronym, which became a term, but it's still a Unix command line program, which are always styled lower case. You come across as a Microsoft person used to BAT.EXE or something? idk, it just reads wrong).

Um, the main question i wanted to ask in private (since this forum doesn't allow private messages) was: is your Goddess is Eris, or someone else i might have heard of?

Agreed, private jokes are maybe an exception to the 'laughter is a distress response' theory (tho maybe then it's more about signalling being part of an 'in-group'? (not to get all Robin Hanson)). I'm not very smart at coming up with theories, ok, sorry


Haha I knew i liked your writing attitude, for some reason.

(Yes, it just reads *really* discordantly to me, like a consistent misspelling intended to provoke annoyance, or something.)


Ok, noted, gag dropped.

Regarding Ms M, it would appear her backing group is losing some of its touch: the CRD who appear to revel in being 'King / Queen makers'.[1]

“It’s not quite rats deserting a sinking ship, but it does indicate that people feel things can’t go on as they have been going,” said Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary, University of London. “There needs to be some kind of reinvigoration, but this does indicate that some people feel that can’t be done.”

Theresa May Is Hit by Another Resignation as Strategy Chief Quits Bloomberg, 27th July, 2017

Rule One of the Conservative Party is that the CRD always wins. If you doubt it, read this profile of it on this site by Andrew Gimson, himself a former CRD graduate. Or compare the old Number Ten team and the new one. Out of Downing Street go David Cameron, George Osborne, Ed Llewellyn, Kate Fall, Gaby Bertin and Giles Kenningham, former CRD members all……and in it come former CRD members Nick Timothy, Fiona Hill, Joanna Penn, Stephen Parkinson, Chris Wilkins, Alex Dawson and Katie Perrior… (…while Sheridan Westlake, also once of the CRD, stays put – a still point in a turning world.)

The Conservative Research Department always wins. A guide to Downing Street’s top team. CRD, Sept 5th 2017

Hmm, they also seem to run Reform as well (or, at least, ideologically connected).

For values of humor, please note their logo "Brexit" in tasteful mid 1990s pastel teal and purple, ever so sublty moving from purple BR (Labor, Boo!) to a teal "Exit". At least it didn't cost £40,000[2].


Crowdfund your election campaign - legally! CrowdPac, 18th May, 2017 (commercial site?)

[1] So, if I read that correctly, the CRD basically hand-pick the Cabinet beforehand.

[2] Tories show off 'scribbled' logo
BBC, Sept 2006


Right. Except in places like my last employer, where the official Unix experts bought a case-insensitive file-server for Linux, on the grounds of Microsoft compatibility; there were other 'interesting' restrictions and properties, too. God alone knows why the original Unix developers had a lower-case fetish, but they did; Unices are more rational now, but the traditional commands remain solidly lower-case, and grep is one such.


(My impression is they were simply super paranoid about being able to type everything quickly on early remote terminals, like rm and ls and just using a . for the present location -- it's hard to read but very fast to type.)


No, there was a lot more than that, and it included being unable to use upper-case in contexts where it was conventional (or even required) to do so. Fortran, Email, etc. Most of the insanities were removed in the 1980s, and some got enshrined by the 'Internet' protocols conquering the previous ones, but some Unices had a few for a lot longer than that.


Oh, i didn't know that. So you used to have to type Fortran invocations with full case sensitivity?.. maybe the unix thing was a reaction to that? I get confused enough about gcc flags without bringing variant typographical stylings in to it...


I should have written FORTRAN - it was an upper-case language before 1990, but Unix programs had to be in lower case - it's now completely case-insensitive. Yes, I know why Stu Feldman did that, and he was wrong. There were other such examples, too. For the record, IBM was no better, the other way round! Those were pains, but it was things like Email and user identifiers that caused far more problems, once Unix started talking to the outside world. Note that both Email and inter-machine working predate Unix.

Anyway, this is a diversion. GREP means grep, and should be written as such.


Re: Youth movements ...

The UK did indeed have youth movements during the time that Fleming's 007 novels came out (1953-1966) and one of these student groups' focal issues was to protest the war in VN. (The 'Korean Police Action' ended 1953, but since no peace treaty was ever signed, technically the war was also still a current thing.)

'However, it was not until the 1960s that student activism became important in British universities. Here, like many other countries, the Vietnam war and issues of racism became a focus for many other local frustrations, such as fees and student representation. In 1962, the first student protest against the Vietnam War was held, with CND. However, student activism did not begin on a large scale until the mid-1960s.'

Aside: Good grief! Never knew Ian Fleming wrote Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang! - the kiddies' story about a self-aware automobile.


It is why there are a lot of people living in the US (and I suspect many other places) who are over the age of 40 remember elderly relatives of theirs or their friends while growing up who were maybe 5' tall. Maybe. Many of them were immigrants born in poorer areas of eastern Europe before the 50s.[1]

Their decedents had access to vastly improved diets and medical care and amazingly wound up 6" to a 1' taller than their parents/grandparents as adults.

People in very impoverished parts of the US at that time were also shorter than typical but not nearly as much. Based solely on my experience, not on a study.


The French people wouldn't have risen up to support him after his return from Elba if he was a tyrant.

Are you thinking of the planet Earth? Are you seriously stating that many tyrants did NOT have popular support? Or at least support by the people with local power?


God alone knows why the original Unix developers had a lower-case fetish, but they did

If you're a 2 or 3 fingered typist the shift key is a real annoyance.


In modern English, tyrant does not mean with authoritarian dictator, but cruel and oppressive ruler. No, I don't know of any cruel and oppressive ruler that had anywhere near Napoleon's popular support.


A generation of French people shorter through malnutrition: blame it on Napoleon or the food shortages 25 years before he came to power? Hmmm.


its a valid point.. these leader types come from a movement.. its like fungi and mycelium. the toadstool isn't the fungus entire


a roof! a roof! in my day we didn't have roofs!! we'd just stand an scowl defiantly at the rain!


Oh, and if you want the fuller joke. Read the thread from Feb 2016.
Acmeist vrs Zaum. With links to the original Russian.

Sheesh. There were a few rabbit holes in that thread and I dove down only one of them, not Zaum.
Need to rearrange my vacation book/pdf queue; the Zaum stuff is interesting (now, to me). Starting with
Russian Futurism through its Manifestoes 1912-1928
then a book pdf (same site) linked in that thread (for others thread name is "holding-pattern-part-n") named "The Transrational Poetry of Russian Futurism".

Charlie, another "what are you reading this northern hemisphere summer" thread might be fun.


The best model for Napoleon — in his own time, as understood by the people of that time — was probably Julius Caesar; started out as a general, promoted to triumvir during an ongoing emergency, seized control during a coup, conquered lots of shit (Gaul, etc), crowned emperor, finally betrayed by his own people.

Given that Napoleon inherited the Long War between France and the UK, I can't really place the blame for that on his shoulders. History is written by the victors, etc.

Caesar was undoubtedly a tyrant (just ask the Gauls!) but remember who the folks who knifed him in the back were, and why they did it: something to do with his popularity and power, perhaps?

Napoleon took a sledgehammer to the ancien regime throughout continental Europe and tried to replace most of the existing monarchies with his extended family, because monarchism was how government was generally understood to work back then; but he also came up with a standardized and fairly effective legal code that is still widely used more than two centuries later, replacing a hodge-podge of semi-random and inconsistent crap largely descended from Roman and Tribal law. He also gave us the modern model of a mass-mobilization conscript army and the beginning of modern logistics. (Also an object lesson in why you don't start a war on two fronts and a land war in Asia at the same time, thank you.)

Anyway: there is a reason why France got through two subsequent Emperors Napoleon after his demise before finally getting the whole Republican thing, rather than reverting to the Bourbon Crown. He was a Strong Man On A White Horse who stabilized France after a revolution and then went on a massive and initially highly successful acquisitions-and-merger spree before biting off more than he could chew (Moscow in winter). He also bequeathed us the plague of mass-mobilization and mass warfare (not to mention guerilla insurgency as a response) but I suspect those were going to come about in any event as a side-effect of population growth and improvements in transport infrastructure.

(Compare and contrast with A. Hitler, who is generally not thought highly of by his compatriots these days. Ahem.)


For what it's worth, om the height of Frenchmen, I found this:

It has data showing no drop off in average height of men during and after the Napoleonic wars, based on army conscript data.
So unless the people for an inch drop in height have actual real data, I think we can forget about that idea.


John Carter's radium bullets... I'd forgotten them. Of course, I read "radium", and I immediately think of the A-10 close-support plane firing depleted uranium rounds....

And nuking DC, to allow the Rethuglicans to dismember it all, shit. Yes.


You missed one: my son and I, almost 20 years ago, came up with the correct answer: you have a rocket launcher in the front of the car, under the hood. It has a vertically-wedge-shaped charge. See, a normal rocket would blow up what's in front of you, and you'd have to stop. With the vertical wedge, it splits the car in front of you in half, and, as an extra added bonus, the right half (assuming you're in the left lane, US, reverse for the UK) takes out the car beside you who, seeing the one in front cleared, is about to try to cut in front of you.


He created republics while serving a republic and monarchies when he was a monarch (republics being judged a failed idea given his own ascension), so he was at least consistent? :-)


I recall reading an early paper on unix where Ritchie and/or Thompson said ease of typing was a novel design goal they adopted, but I can't find the reference. I remember the culture shock I suffered upon being introduced to RSX, where referencing a file could be [5,7]file.ext;7. Finger breaking time--a system clearly designed by people who didn't touch type. Hardware engineers?

But the lower case paradigm got interesting if you logged in on an upper case only terminal. Pictures of Bell Labs show lots of Teletype 33 machines, so they had to allow for them. But it must have been horrible.
Here's what happened on V5 - V7 Unices, based on the simh Unix V5 simulator:

;login: BIN # typed in upper case
% PWD # typed in lower case, echoed in upper
../BIN # directory is really 'bin' Where the .. comes from I know not
% LS U*
ROOT:ZCUNRU2C:0:1::/: # file contents is of course lower case
BIN TTY8 MAR 21 14:45
ABC # input lower; echoed upper
% # log out
;login: bin # log in properly
% cat /tmp/test
abc # file really has lower case chars
# log out
;login: BIN
# here's how you'd put an uppercase character in a file:
% # log out
;login: bin
% cat /tmp/test2


Jokes... you're wrong. That's bs. In fact, I tend to dislike "jokes" like that. I have a good number of jokes that involve zero fear.

Short, sweet counterexample proving you *wrong*: The famous philosopher Descartes is in a restaurant. He finishes dinner, and the waitress comes over, and asks him if he'd like dessert. He strokes his beard, thinks for a minute, and says, "I think not."

And disappears.


But the lower case paradigm got interesting if you logged in on an upper case only terminal. Pictures of Bell Labs show lots of Teletype 33 machines, so they had to allow for them.

Yep. One of the peculiarities of getty on UNIX, at least as late as SVR3.2 and POSIX and XPG/3 (and probably later), is that if all that comes through it is uppercase when a user types their username, it assumes it's talking to an uppercase-only tty and does some magic to tell /bin/passwd that, and thereafter translates command named. It's over 25 years since I had to know this shit so I've forgotten the details, but UNIX did have uppercase-only affordances.

Back when Ken Thompson was writing it on a borrowed PDP-8 the whole idea of an interactive terminal session on a time-sharing system was quite new: he'd worked on MULTICS for Bell Labs previously, but the entire idea of interactive computing (as opposed to batch processing punched cards or paper tape) was not more than a decade old, so dropping vowels and requiring lowercase and insisting everything should be easy to type was fairly innovative — a bit like innovating in multitouch OS user interfaces today.


RED CARD — commenter now banned. (Comment deleted for egregious political trolling and being full of shit.)


Re: 'AFAIK there were rather fewer multiple-voters, non-citizen voters, and dead voters in the Republican camp than in the "Democrat" one.'

And for evidence you're offering what/whose facts?


Please do not feed the (banned) troll.


Re: '(banned) troll.'

Oops! Did not know this, sorry!


I only saw (and banned) his posting after you'd replied.

Just bear in mind that Stuff Like That will get banned if I notice it.


Serious question: Why mostly male super-villains on your list, apart from these are/were heads of gov't?

Skewing super villains towards 'all-male' suggests villainy is primarily testosterone-driven. Considering that there have been female (and other gender) mass murderers as well as female empire-builders, this is not reflective of our history. Unless this is just a literary convention/a boys-club thing (e.g., Eton's) and/or these authors were just clueless about how to write a female character? (Are video games also this stereotyped?)

Chief concern is that making the villains all 'guys' keeps people/readers from looking more closely at what makes such folk bad news.


A simple and therefore not entirely correct answer but it's definitely a start, is that globally the patriarchy is triumphant. Therefore only men will get into positions of power where they can start wars, kill billions and waste trillions of dollars.


Why mostly male super-villains on your list, apart from these are/were heads of gov't?

Because the distribution of power in almost all of our societies tilts overwhelmingly towards the masculine-gendered.

(The reasons for this are many and historical but can be summed up in one word: patriarchy.)

There are powerful women, but it's kinda hard to see Angela Merkel as a Bond villain; even Theresa May is somewhat lacking in that dimension (her evil is more about petty authoritarianism and cluelessness than actual malignant ambition).


Yes, that feature lasted later in some Unices. It got really interesting, in circumstances I can't remember, trying to connect to or from a mixed-case system with upper-case identifiers. I also knew one sysadmin who deliberately set up mixed-case identifiers, for reasons that none of his colleagues could fathom, and have some tales about using Unix from an IBM 3270 (summary: aargh!)

Those aspects were definitely innovative - as Sir Humphrey would say, brave. What I find curious is that a lot of the features of Unix came from Titan (i.e. Cambridge's Atlas), especially via Stephen Bourne, but its design completely negated most of the (successful) ergonomics of that system.


I was taking my definition of tyrant from our Declaration of Independence. I can see why Europeans might have a different definition.



The US declaration of independence predated the republican revolutions of 1789-1919. I think it's pretty clear from context that the drafters of the DoI were concerned with monarchical despotism. And specifically with the pre-1639 (or I guess pre-1688) British species of same — your go-to reference is the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Glorious Revolution. To the extent that the folks in the New England colonies identified themselves as British settlers on a new land, these events (not much further in their past than the first and second world wars are to us today) would have been their constitutional/political reference points.


Re: 'patriarchy'

[Snark] Gee whiz ... wonder why folks haven't figured this out: because the old order equals patriarchy equals a crappy life, substitute any other gender and all your problems are fixed! (Started by saying 'anarchists' but decided to look up exactly what this bunch's gender split is and found that they too are confounded by gender stereotypes.)


You really need to go and learn something about feminism, history of, and other cultures and societies before you address this topic again.


+1 on this. SFReader really needs to brush up on the past couple of hundred years; I'd recommend starting with Mary Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Women" and working forward from there.


It's a bit dull though. I never did manage to finish reading it. Amazing how modern that insisting women are people is, though.


Well, modern in European culture. When we get beyond that, well, it's still mostly bigots all the way down in much of the world, but potential gender roles for women are substantially wider than what we assume is "natural," at least in my limited reading. Heck, even early Christianity wasn't as bigoted as some churches are now.


Joint Chiefs Chairman Says Transgender Policy Won't Change Yet
"There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President's direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance."

In other words, tweets ain't policy as far as the Joint Chiefs are concerned.
Want to take bets on them not receiving a directive from the White House?—considering how often The Rump has threatened lawsuits, etc. and doesn't follow through.


Yes, it's funny how much things vary over time. Also, when people say "Christianity is/ says this", regarding gender, I wonder which varieties they mean, given that we've female ministers here in Scotland, yet other churches here and in the USA would find that anathema.

But then, bringing it back to Henry VIII, Scotland went much further on the reformation route than England did, to the detriment of our art and built heritage.


early Christianity wasn't as bigoted as some churches are now.

There is a wonderful hadith that describes the prophet going to listen to his sister preach. I suspect in many countries that follow his teachings today that would result in them both being executed. Plus la change.

The rules in the bible for the various types of owned women are interesting. There's things you're allowed to do to a wife that you're not allowed to do to a sex slave, and obligations that likewise only apply to one but not the other. I read about it once in a feminist studies course and all that's really stuck with me is how codified it all was.

I like the polynesian custom of patriarchal, matrilineal systems. Pragmatic, in that few mothers are uncertain about whether the child is really theirs, but it also has (un)surprising effects on wider culture. Also, there is a substantial gap between the cultural place of slaves who are/may be family members, and slaves imported from far distant lands. Applying the rules for one situation to the other can have bad outcomes.


Whatever. I was kidding. But I do define a tyrant a bit less sternly than some around here.

T wants to be one. He actually could be one if he would (could?) think more long term than how to word a tweet for the am news.


I recently listened to a reading of the DoI while on a drive and the words tyrant and tyranny came up enough to stick in my mind. They were referring to KG III.


It's easy to get too theoretical with the Polynesians especially, since they did vary among islands, and the patriarchal/matrilineal thing was more a pattern on *some* Micronesian islands than in Polynesia more generally. I'm not an expert, but this seems to me to be the more prevalent pattern in places where men often had to be at sea for long stretches of time, and often didn't come back. Other island groups could be far more patriarchal.

However, the underlying principle in many island cultures (probably from a common Lapita ancestor) was the idea of ranked society. Rank depended on birth order, so the eldest child of the eldest ancestor had the highest rank, while the lowest child of the lowliest ancestor (or children who did not know their ancestry) had the lowest rank. Also, parents ranked above children, ancestors above parents, and gods were ancestors of all. That's why so much of things like Hawaiian mythology involve who is the child of whom. Everything from magic to ownership or use rights to various bits of land, reef, etc. depended on who you descended from, and mana flowed from the gods through the ancestors to the children who followed the right practices.*

There were two common threads, at least in Polynesian culture. One is the story of younger, more able chiefs overthrowing their older, less able brothers, while the older story was of younger children, who were stuck with the worst real estate, building boats and heading out to find more islands, where they could be the seniors in charge. That stopped when they ran out of islands, but the Polynesians really were colonists, no matter how much we think of them as aborigines now.

This is where Hawai'i made things interesting: when their population got too high (around 1300-1400, give or take) the chiefs started forbidding the lowborn from remembering or reciting their ancestry, and instead made them peasants whose primary loyalty was supposed to be to the district. In part this was because, with many thousands of people, the tangle of who had a right to do what on which parcel of land or fishing spot had gotten too tangled to work for organizing society. And that is one endemic problem with island life: disputes over who owns which parcel of land appear to be the primary legal conflict, and this is true even now. There's a reason they can (or used to) be able to remember stories word-perfect and pass them on for centuries: those stories were the deeds by which they could claim their ownership of their land. Forget the stories, and they were dispossessed.

*One of the appeals of Christianity, at least according to some writers, was that it allowed people to pray directly to Jesus, rather than having to pray up the ancestor chain to get to their designated god for help.


Bond villain have been with us since the beginning of civilization. They are all some form of “hydraulic despot”. “Before I kill you Mr. Bond I must tell you my evil master plan to become ruler of the world by achieving exclusive control over [blank] without which [life would not be possible] [civilization would be destroyed] [the economy would collapse] (insert evil laugh). In “Quantum of Solace”, the supervillain is literally a hydraulic despot seeking to control the water supply of an entire continent.

"Hydraulic despotism - a social or government structure which maintains power and control through exclusive control over access to a liquid that the population is dependent on for life.”

Originally that meant water.

The real power of the god-kings that ruled mankind's first civilizations wasn't chariot armies or priests performing sacrifices in temples and pyramids. It was their control of the construction and operation of complex systems of irrigation and flood control that made life possible for large numbers of people in river valleys from the Nile, to Mesopotamia, to the Indus, to the Yangtze. The principle was applied with other engineering structures such as the qanats of Persia, the aqueducts of Rome, the floating farms (chinampas) of the Aztecs, and the terraced farms built by the Inca's to collect run-off from the slopes of the Andes.

The central government ruled by the god-kings could organize the labor (draft peasants, serfs and slaves) and assign the resources (aka tax the peasants) to make these systems possible. Living standards actually improved and populations exploded (compared to adjacent hunter-gather tribes) which increased the wealth and power of the god-kings further while making their subjects utterly dependent on their hydraulic systems to stay alive. The nobility provided military leadership and controlled financial wealth, while the priests kept the people docile and unquestioning by glorifying the god-kings.

This theocratic feudalism is mankind's natural default governmental and social state. It's basically no different than a troop of baboons led by an alpha male and his entourage. Socially we are just like any other primate, which makes real democracy very difficult for our species to establish and maintain. Democracy is unnatural and requires constant effort and vigilance to ensure its survival.

Fast forward to the 20th century and water is replaced by oil.

Our entire society depends on oil like the Babylonians needed the channelized flood waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. Oil made possible the current population explosion, just like hydraulic engineering allowed a population explosion of the first civilizations. Oil oligarchs either rule directly (as in Saudi Arabia, Putin's Russia or the state of Texas) or via the mechanism of staged voting and hacked elections (2016) and controlled media (such as Fox news or the Russian media). They lead us into wars for the control of oil like some Egyptian general or pharaoh commanding his chariots (and fighting over the same terrain 3,000 years ago). Meanwhile, the new nobility has accumulated wealth to a level that would make a pre-revolutionary French aristocrat green with envy.

The totalitarians of the 20th century supposedly acted on behalf of the people, but they merely changed the names of the players. The god-king became "Dear Leader". The Nobility became "The Party". The priesthood became the "Ministry of Propaganda". But those systems become untenable due to excessive warfare and stifling of the economy. Having learned from the past, a more subtle approach is being tried by the oil oligarchs.

The subtlety can be easily seen in the function of the new priesthood. The one main difference between then and now is in the function of the modern priesthood (aka the media and to a lesser extent televangelists). Whereas the ancient priesthoods existed to exalt the god-kings, modern media-priests exist to hide their very existence from the general public. In either case it requires sleight of hand to hoodwink the populace. Elections get hacked and hijacked, becoming no different than ancient religious ceremonies originally intended to keep the people docile.

And this is why distributed solar energy is so important - it gives everyone the equivalent of their own well.

Technology has a history of setting people free. Mao used to say that "power grows out of the barrel of a gun". He was half right, freedom grows out of a gun barrel as well. Prior to the invention of gunpowder, warfare was waged by highly skilled warriors who spent a lifetime training in the martial arts (Spartan hoplites, Roman legions, feudal knights, Japanese samurai). The vast majority of people were smelly peasants who got slaughtered enmasse by small numbers of the professional solders. Those with a monopoly on violent skills lorded over those who did not. But a musket gives even a smelly peasant the power to kill an expensive and highly trained knight on horseback at a safe distance (knowing this, the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan actually banned fire arms to preserve samurai primacy). Gunpowder made the American and French revolutions possible. It made modern democracy possible. Gunpowder broke the back of the nobility.

Similarly, until the invention of the printing press, reading and writing was the sole province of the priesthood who controlled all knowledge. The printing press made books cheap, broke the chains of the inquisition and made scientific knowledge possible, as well as constitutional law not subject to a ruler's whims. The internet has further democratized the flow and creation of knowledge (the net neutrality fight can be best seen as a reaction to the internet similar to the inquisition burning books). The printing press broke the back of the priesthood.

Renewable solar energy breaks the back of our current hydraulic despotism in the same way that gunpowder and the printing press democratized deadly violence and knowledge. Once renewable energy takes hold our entire political power system rooted in control of oil collapses. It will break the backs of the modern god-kings.


Trump has the instincts of a banana republic leader's poodle.

As for humour theory, I'd look at Keith Johnstone's "status reversals".


It will break the backs of the modern god-kings.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – briefly – becomes world's richest man Guardian, 27th July, 2017 ($91 billion old dollars if anyone cares)

The World’s 8 Richest Men Are Now as Wealthy as Half the World’s Population Forbes, Jan 16th 2017

Based off Oxfam report (of course, only publicly held wealth counts here, so you'll have to guess at China / Russian real wealth holdings etc):

Just 8 men own same wealth as half the world Oxfam, 16th Jan, 2017

Based on the same methodology and data sources used by Oxfam, that number is now down to six.

These 6 Men Have as Much Wealth as Half the World's Population
EcoWatch, 20th Feb, 2017

Five Men Now Hold as Much Wealth as Half of the World's Population Combined Democracy Now! 14th June 2017

Those dates are correct btw.

I mean, Withroth might suspect I'm crazy / nasty / Red Terror[1], but I can spot a count-down when I see one.


On topic: Mr B's plan was to control America through drone technology and infrastructure networks of robotic systems, using the drones as crowd control, delivery and malware devices to cripple his automated competition at the same time. This lead to the unfortunate "AI" wars of 2026-2031.

Amazon is building a $1.5 billion hub for its own cargo airline Recode, 31st Jan, 2017
Amazon Can Now Ship Packages From China to the U.S. by Sea
Recode Recode, Jan 14th 2017
Amazon Buys Thousands of Its Own Truck Trailers as Its Transportation Ambitions Grow Recode, 4th Dec, 2015

Not mentioning American politics, but Catholic Mafia has just accused Bannon (in the Pope's bad books) of Egyptian God behavior.

No, really.

[1] Not actually a Communist of the old type.


Um, that's a little too primitive. We actually have good, historical accounts of a primary civilization with god-kings: Hawai'i. While the original chieftains rose because of control of stream valleys for wetland taro, the chiefs who ultimately conquered the island chain (and there were a bunch who tried before Kamehameha actually pulled it off) inevitably started on the DRY side of either Maui or Hawai'i, where they practiced dryland farming.* The problem that dryland farming has is that droughts bring famine, and one of the driving forces for the chiefs of the dry districts was trying to secure more lands to insure their people had enough food and didn't overthrow them. Almost inevitably, controlling an extended realm was shaky at best, and almost inevitably (until the massive depopulation under Kamehameha, due to western contact), the heirs of the conquering chiefs couldn't keep it together, and lost their realms, back to their original home district.

Patrick Kirch has written some good accounts of this, and the most accessible is A Shark Going Inland is my Chief. The basic point here is that Hawai'i showed a lot of the same patterns seen in places like Egypt and the Inkan empire, so they're the most modern (and last, until civilization totally fails and reconstitutes) example of how people go from settlements to chieftains to civilization with a god-king. While no one thinks this route is hardwired into human DNA or anything, it appears that certain control strategies tend to get invented repeatedly, even when the people in question haven't been in contact with each other.

Also not incidentally, the dry-side invaders/wet-side planters is a pattern that was seen on multiple islands throughout Polynesia. It's hard to tell where else this pattern shows up, but given the number of "barbarian invasions" recorded in the Fertile Crescent, it may have been a common political problem. Indeed, in dudes living inland of me are far more likely to be armed and talking about secession from something-or-other than my well-heeled coastal neighbors are.

*taro can be grown wet or dry, but reportedly it's much more productive if it grows in slow-running water. Apparently, the common Polynesian colonization pattern was to colonize all the streams first, then when that land got filled up, to re-invent dryland taro farming on the parts of each island that could accommodate it. They also grew sweet potatoes on the drylands. Then, when the drylands got too populated and droughts were a chronic problem, the drylanders would go to war with the wetlanders for control of the island.


(For the non-metaphor-eaters: literally WH staff accusing each other of attempting to suck their own cocks, which is, you know, an Egyptian Creation Myth).

No, pinch yourself: #2017 just got wilder.


Possibly they're just outliers on the white male effect spectrum. After all being a super villain is hardly a low risk career strategy, and definitionally you're dealing with existential threats (paging Mr Bond). So their risk appetite is er, rather large.

Let's look at the behaviour, extreme hierarchical org structure (e.g. minions) - tick. Extreme individualism (evil plans, disregard for rights of others) - tick. Disregard for risk associated with evil plans (build secret base inside volcano, cool!) - tick. So of course the super villains cohort would be dominated by white middle aged males.

See the early work by Flynn, Slovic and Mertz (1994) for more on identity protective cognition and system identification. Nelson (2012) crunches the numbers again and refutes the premise that women are more risk averse.


Sorry, I wasn't meaning "the definitive way that all of polynesia works" when I said that, I was trying to say "in some parts of polynesia there are groups where you find this custom".

In Aotearoa a common response to excess population was often closer to the European model: get a bunch of angry young men together and go start a fight. It worked there as well :)

We're also dealing with the legacy of imposing static British land law into a dynamic, unstable Maori customary legal system. This results in stuff like multiple, overlapping and often conflicting, claims to own land/resources under the treaty (which is itself a weird imposition as above).

In parts of Te Waka It's kind of like imposing the code of Napolean just after the Mongols have left... Te Rauparaha ended his tour just as the various Pakeha tribes arrived, so you had often displaced remnant populations trying to rebuild at the same time as blokes were running round with theodolites asking questions above where exactly the fixed boundary between you and them is. The commentary in this fisheries overview might be informative. Sometimes that approach was ideal, other times it was (maliciously) stupid:

I find stuff like this extract from the above quite amusing now that I live in Australia: In August 1987 the Ngai Tahu people, who at the time of the 1840 Treaty had kaitiaki over most of the South Island, filed a fisheries claim against the Crown. Ngai Tahu claimed (1) they had the right to full ownership of fisheries out to twelve miles off the coast of their traditional boundaries; (2) as a partner with the Crown in the Treaty of 1840 they were prepared to grant fifty percent of ITQ within this twelve mile zone to the Crown; and (3) they were prepared to accept ITQ outside the twelve mile zone as compensation for the Crown’s stewardship of fisheries having resulted in serious depletion of fishstocks within the twelve mile zone. In an Australian context the sheer effrontery of Ngai Tahu condescending to offer the government something is laughable.


That was a problem pretty much everywhere in Oceania, although I think that one clan in Kiribati still exists because the British warship arrived the day it was set to lose its last battle. Still, the Maori were a little unusual in the Polynesian sphere, in that it seemed to be impossible for any one chief to exert enough control to become a king (and better, to make sure his descendants could inherit his position). Some people blame the environment, which was suboptimal for most Polynesian crops, but I also wonder if part of the problem was that Aotearoa is just so big that the most ambitious chief couldn't grab a whole island.


...literally WH staff accusing each other of attempting to suck their own cocks,...
That's some funny(/scary) shit. Wasn't sure about catholic mafia man's leverage points but this confirmed that one of them is ... himself. And Mr T appears to like the style.
Also good to see (good link at @306) that the joint chiefs are insisting on an actual order re transgender military personnel.

Dragonfly vision, for fun:
A predictive focus of gain modulation encodes target trajectories in insect vision (25 Jul 2017, full, pdf available)
Here we describe small target-selective neurons in predatory dragonflies that exhibit localized enhanced sensitivity for targets displaced to new locations just ahead of the prior path, with suppression elsewhere in the surround. This focused region of gain modulation is driven by predictive mechanisms, with the direction tuning shifting selectively to match the target’s prior path.
Over a target’s developing trajectory, direction selectivity (quantified here as vector magnitude) is established even more rapidly than the gain in the facilitated response (Figure 7D). The emergence of directional tuning raises the intriguing possibility that the modulation assists anticipation of target trajectories - promoting the expectation of a continued path.
Finally, our results show a local, predictive focus of facilitation that traverses across brain hemispheres, which is an attribute more reminiscent of higher order attentional networks, rather than local motion encoding circuitry.


Yeah, that's not actually the cock-sucking stuff right there, that's just the preamble. If [Italian Mafia Catholic] didn't get orders to stick it to [Egyptian KeK Catholic] then I'm a large round fruit.




American Republic

1776 - 2017

It's Done, the rest is formalities. They'll blow a hole in the economy in October etc.

Now shit gets wild.

The American Dream YT: Film Watchmen, 2:53

/G0 TIME #WILDHUNT = Blood and Soul and Mind not shattered. Now fucking gut them.


Basically, the Joint Chiefs have asked their superior officer to put his crazy-ass order in writing.

This is not a good thing.


Regarding Mr. Z's boring venture, the key question seems to be what he knows that Martin Herrenknecht doesn't. Is it really just a matter of the commercial incentives not encouraging more productive TBMs?


Regarding Napoleon, what I had read didn't regard men but horses. It seems the almost permanent state of war between 1790 and 1815 caused the death of so many horses that actually the quality of European stocks never recovered - partly because soon after 1815 steam power started to make horses redundant.

Bear in mind that cavalry horses were important, but supply wagons and artillery needed an even higher amount and worse, needed them stronger and tougher, able to work for hours on end day after day. A kind of horses that today has become almost extinct.


That strikes me as a hypothesis that is refuted by the huge number of horses used to work long days every day during WW1.
Also there should be some evidence available, such as widespread complaints about lack of good horses.

Finally, horses aren't in competition with the railroad, and like a lot of tech oriented people you have forgotten that horses were in widespread use in farming until after WW2, and if farming doesn't need good horses I don't know what does.


In many countries that CLAIM to follow his teachings.


Basically, the Joint Chiefs have asked their superior officer to put his crazy-ass order in writing.

Nope. My reading is that they've reminded the SCROTUS that twitter is not a recognized medium for propagating executive orders.

The really scary aspect of what just happened isn't Trump giving Pence's base some red meat by throwing roughly 15,000 transgendered service personnel under the fundamentalist bus. (Although that's pretty fucking scary and unpleasant as a possible harbinger of what life will be like under President Pence after Trump is ditched.)

The really scary aspect is the nine minute gap between tweet #1 ("After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......") and tweet #2 ("....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....").

During that nine minute period, due to the ambiguous phrasing of the first tweet, concerned parties in the Pentagon were afraid that Trump had just declared war on North Korea.

Seriously, it's a good thing that Kim Jong-Un doesn't read Twitter in English, or Trump could have started a nuclear conflict by accident.


Let's be optimistic :-) North Korea's ICBM gets a little confused, and lands near Shanghai, failing to explode. The North Korean problem would be solved within weeks, without Trump needing to do anything ....


I have sometimes wondered whether it would be possible for a human being without a spine deformity to become flexible enough to do that; apparently some monkeys can, as I learnt from a Gerald Durrell book. 2017 could become the year that autoerotic porn became mainstream.


Ah, the old George Carlin joke (start at 1:45 if you don't want to hear the whole clip).


Fortunately, North Korea doesn't have a nuclear alert force like the UK, France, Russia, China or the U.S. (yet). It's open odds whether Kim Jong Il's order to use a nuke would be the last order he gives.


I'm quite sceptic myself, but please notice the book I read meant quality, not total numbers. Still, how did measure the average quality of horses before and after the wars is a thorny problem in itself; I don't think there were a lot of officials compiling statistics on horse height or weight, other than those bought for the armies perhaps.

However, I'd say steam power competed directly with horses from the very start - after all engine power is measured in horsepower and that's for a reason. To name but one example, if your new railroad is going to carry coal to the coast that means a lot of horses out of work. It's difficult for us today to understand how omnipresent and vital were horses, or the problems they caused (by 1890 New York horses produced well over 1,000 tons of horse manure every day... not to mention urine)


It did, and was pioneered for use in mining - look up Newcomen. It was initially used for pumping water, and later for lifting men and ore. That was in the 18th century, starting around 1715. Its use in transport wasn't until the start of the 19th century.


Bear in mind that cavalry horses were important, but supply wagons and artillery needed an even higher amount and worse, needed them stronger and tougher, able to work for hours on end day after day. A kind of horses that today has become almost extinct.

Not too close to extinction - I was at the Royal Highland Show this summer [1] and the Heavy Horse classes were certainly present.

Seeing we're discussing secret societies, it's worth mentioning the Horseman's Word

[1] For Scottish definitions of summer - overcast, light rain, 10 Celsius or so before you considered windchill from the rather strong breeze...

335:'s really NSFW but google "autofellatio" on google... Or watch "Clerks" :-)


Newcomen's and earlier yet Savary's steam engines were stationary. And steam didn't compete with road (as different from rail) freight transportation, except maybe in UK (Wikipedia). Road freight shifted more or less straight from horse to IC


The really scary aspect is the nine minute gap between tweet #1...and tweet #2

My (not serious) take was that it took so long because his tiny hands couldn't easily tap them out on his iPhone. More seriously, he probably couldn't remember what he was going to say and had to go ask someone (Bannon) to remind him.

For all the talk of his tweets meant to distract from the Russia investigation, et al., Keep in mind that Donnie is easily distracted and will move on—last night's vote on the crappy healthcare bill seems to be doing the job at the moment. So Transgender Servicepeople are safe for the moment, until someone in the Cabinet (Bannon) reminds him of it. He'll likely say "Oh, I don't care about that" and focus on whatever's occupying his fragile ego at the moment.

I think this story is potentially more worrisome:
Justice Department Argues Sexual Orientation Not Protected By Civil Rights Laws


Re: 'Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Women" and working forward ...'

Wollstonecraft's book looks interesting - thanks for the recommendation!

Had a chuckle at the last portion of your sentence. As you've probably noticed, I've a thing for census data so the 'forward' as in present-day is relatively clear to me because the data are (mostly) there. Unfortunately, historical data is very patchy therefore unreliable so I take interpretations of historical socioeconomic situations with quite a few grains of salt.


Re: POTUS Tweets

I've two issues about this mess:

1- Unless his smartphone is glued to his hands at all times and cannot be operated by anyone else ever, i.e., cannot be verified as coming from him, all tweets should be ignored. (Here I'm assuming that he's sane.)

2- The POTUS is expected to be in good enough physical health that he/she can do the job. There has never been any such requirement re: mental health and in fact there's precedent for allowing a falling-into-dementia POTUS to stay in office (RR). This is the political default despite even more precedent for challenging and/or establishing the mental competency for stuff like being tried or sitting on a jury. BTW - I'm guessing that DT's mental competency is even worse than I'm guessing given the story below. The key question is: Who benefits from having an idiot/insane POTUS?


Careful, there. If you keep that up, I expect the second post after that to refer to bra-burning....

Feminism. Right. One tale I like a lot is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I *strongly* recommend the translation (the poem was written in the 1400's) by a well-known late Oxford don by the name of Tolkien.

But to (spoiler) the ending, what is it that women want? Why, their will, same as any man.

Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Get over it. Try changing pronouns, or sides in the discussion/argument, and see how you feel then.


Speaking of gonzo supervillains, it's worth a look at the Rudy Rucker/Marc Laidlaw tale "@lantis" in the July/August 2017 Asimov's.

whitroth noted: "Men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Get over it."

Indeed, one of my favorite convention-going buttons. Along with "By God, for a moment there it all made sense."


It's whitroth - drop me a line at my real email address (, and I'll explain the name.

No, there's no way you'd be Red Terror. They'd do you in in a heartbeat. Perhaps... Emma Goldman's line, "if I can't dance, I don't want your revolution" is appropriate.

And fucking *YES* I'm terrified of what, 400 psychotic accumulators owning half the world's entire wealth, or so?

Re your later post: I've been afraid it was RIP for the USofA, but two things still give me hope: first, that their wholly-owned subsidiary of the ultra-rich/right/would-be God Kings, the GOP, can't manage to do anything serious as an attack, it's all bits, pieces, and nothing major yet, anyway. Partly, because Congress and the Senate are looking at Trumpolini trying to hardball tell them what to do... and they're saying this is Our Pond, and you *don't* get to piss in it, WE are the Big Frogs here.

And, fuck, then there's what happened last night, something I did *not* expect: McCain voted no on destroying the ACA ("Obamancare").

One vote means little... but if this were a novel, or a movie, the author would have McCain, with his new diagnosis of brain cancer, unremediable, quoting Johnson's like about "it wonderfully settles the mind, knowing you're going to be hanged in the morning". Also, now, no one can do literally *anything* to him - he'll die before he's up for reelection, probably, so in a story, he'd turn, and do what is right for the country. And note that I've loathed this bastard for decades, and I'm saying this. But that's what would happen in a story.

On your side of the Pond, I see that Ms.M has had still more resignations, and meanwhile, her minister(?) is expecting negotiations for Brexit to proceed on schedule... while the EU negotiator is saying, "ah, yeah, about that...."

Just watched the Stones' new video, Lost. Interesting....


Fascinating. What runs through my mind, reading your post, is the idea that the "highest level" non-agricultural nomads, with or without horses, perhaps might have a good few years with the weather, population goes up, then a bad year, and they see the grubbers in the dirt are still eating.... Once conquered, they, obviously, were Given This By God (whichever, tm).

I understand that, damn, can't remember if it was the Huns or Mongols that had bad, bad drought, and so they rode west.


Re: 'Get over it. Try changing pronouns, or sides in the discussion/argument, and see how you feel then.'

This is how I typically approach arguments and why I'm partial to fully-blinded studies and assessments.

(Not sure why my original comment came across as anti any particular sex.)


Actually, that's not optimistic. Given the number of people who die either way - and what happens to our allies near North Korea _after_ the "short" war - these are choices between disastrous for everyone and disastrous for many, many, many people (we can pretend that all the victims will be high-ranking North Korean apparatchiks, if we're stupid, but.), but not "optimistic" except in the ever-so-relative sense.


What would a Bond villain and President do, given then mess thats currently happening in Australia?

After losing two Green Senators because they still held dual citizenship, Australia has just lost a Cabinet minister because unknown to him, his mother appears to have registered him as an Italian citizen.

Thus making him ineligible to be an MP under the Australian constitution.

Now, a nefarious Mr X can grant honorary citizenships to other Prime Ministers ...


And, fuck, then there's what happened last night, something I did *not* expect: McCain voted no on destroying the ACA ("Obamancare").
That was fascinating(/exhausting). Watched it on cspan2 and various internet venues.
There's only so much "the party needs you"/"the President needs a win from his senators" party-before-country nonsense that accomplished politicians like US senators (many of them at least[1]) can take before a few of them start being less tribal, and say "F-it"/"F-you".
[1] L. Murkowski won her 2010 election by write-in votes.
American politics does look very ugly and very stupid ATM, sure. (Some major political surgery is required IMO.)

While poking today I read this (a regular read) which is slightly differently angled than the mainstream perspective (and a bit more cynical than me and I think misses some tactical details):
Observations on a Late-Night Rescue Mission


So? The context was "steam power competed directly with horses from the very start", which is correct. How do you think they powered the pumps before steam?


Yes, that's kind of my point, now I'm not at work and have had time to let things simmer. Much as our ancestors were really interested in making proper scientific measurements of things, I'd really like to know more about how they were able to judge quality of horses back in the early 19th century, and then compare that to the early 20th century.

Also, Elderly Cynic is correct re. steam power being used earlier. Another issue is whether replacement of horse drawn wagons really meant a loss in bloodlines that were good for such work. In the UK, more able to husband it's bloodlines due to being uninvaded, that would surely have been the case, but I admit it sounds less likely in continental Europe.

So where I'm going is, did the steam engine actually cause overall loss in bloodlines and capabilities? I really doubt it, given the massive use of horses in agriculture and local travel before the internal combustion engine.


Water. In 16something there was an entirely hydraulic water-driven water pump made by a chap with the appropriate name of Fludd. Use of elaborate chains of water-raising waterwheels goes back to the Romans. A lot of surface machinery such as ore stampers and the like also ran on water power. They used to dam streams and build leats contouring around the mountain to get the water from the stream to the mine. They even used water for excavation - called "hushing" - fill up a big pond at the top of a slope and then breach it so the rush of water washes away the soil and exposes the rock beneath.

(They used horses as well; not arguing with that. And oxen. And dogs. And people. But for non-muscle-derived power, water was the thing. Even if you weren't into digging, a mine could still be a great place to be if you liked playing with water.)

Same with the early spinning mills and things; those of the first effusion were all scrambling to get a site next to a river with a decent flow and fall. One of the great things about the advent of steam power was that it meant you could build your mill anywhere you liked.

In terms of transport, you could replace a lot of horseandcarts, or even more packhorses, with a canal barge and just one horse - or sometimes no horse, and the bloke doing the pulling instead. Though the increase in the amount of transporting that got done acted on the need for horses in the opposite sign.

But of course water power was no use on a farm, and I don't buy the thing about Napoleon killing off all the massive horses that could pull hard all day and keep going. Farms ran on them, and continued to run on them until after WW2, steam traction/ploughing engines notwithstanding; that's a lot of big horses.

The type of horse we [i]have[/i] more or less lost is the charger - also massive and strong but adapted to carrying a bloke dressed in half a ton of tin cans on its back, rather than pulling things. They went a few centuries before Napoleon, though.


"...loss in bloodlines...UK...continental Europe."

One of the best breeds of heavy horse was the Percheron; said to be on a level with the best British breeds, if not better, and it still got said despite the traditional English antipathy to the French.


I think we still have a few horses similar to chargers, but definitely a rather reduced breed, probably the direct descent lost from the medieval ones. I'll speak to some horsey people at Bosworth in August and see what they say, now I'm getting curious. They ride around in armour on their horses rather a lot.


Since this is now going through my head, I don't see why anyone else should get away without it :)


Actually a lot of military haulage in the medieval period and later was done by oxen, as was a lot of agricultural work. Horses were faster on good roads so they were often used to draw light artillery but the big siege guns and a lot of the supplies for a campaign were hauled by spans of oxen, ten miles a day if the going is good and five if not. They could work their way through mud and bad ground that would stop a horse or cripple it and they were not as subject to the various diseases and digestive problems horses were (and still are) prone to.

Once good roads became ubiquitous to support artillery, horses and mules took over the role of military haulage from oxen. The development of the horse collar was a major step forward too.


True :-) But, as you say, steam was used to replace horses as well.


By ab odd coincidence I was at the Bar-U Ranch last week, where they still have a few Percherons. According to the ranch, the Percheron was known as the “horse that powered North America”.

In the early 20th century the heavy horse was important enough for Lane to import studs and brood mares from Le Perche to establish a strong herd at Bar-U. The world market for heavy horses* remained strong until the early 1920s.

Anecdotally, whenever I complained about cars polluting my grandfather would tell me how much cleaner they were than horses. When he was a young man in London motors were for the rich and deliveries were done with horse-drawn carts, with a predictable amount of dung left on the roads. That would be early 20th century.

*Bar-U exported cattle and horses internationally.


The world market for heavy horses* remained strong until the early 1920s.

My uncle Hughie (actually my father's cousin) was a heavy horse farrier in his youth back in the 1920s when a lot of long-distance cartage was still being done with heavy draft horses. This was in Central Scotland.

I certainly recall seeing milk deliveries being carried out by horse and cart back in the 1960s but the horses were cobs rather than heavy horse breeds. Feeding the milkie's horse a slice of bread was a treat.


The King just fired Prince Willy via Tweet, who was the last (true) GOP being in the Wing after making a speech basically encouraging violence against pre-trial suspects (gang members, M13). And how the Blue Meanies clapped and cheered, and a General replaces Prince Willy to boot.

Might want to reconsider what I was suggesting; I think there was a person called Haidu Benu or something who wurbled about the Phillipines and what happened there (still happening), before it happened?

Oh, and just in time for the end of the American Heroes week (thus the movie tie-in, I thought it was amusing. Alan Moore must be casting spells constantly these days).

McCain might have loved his grandstanding of women with his "Show Time" theatrics, but there's a much older version; you might remember the 1980's film, "Running Man".

They'd do you in in a heartbeat. thing you learn, as an adult H.S.S. (apparently, how would I know?) is how bad boundary issues can be. You could say that about me as well. (προδότης).

Million Years Ago YT: Music, 3:33


After losing two Green Senators because they still held dual citizenship, Australia has just lost a Cabinet minister because unknown to him, his mother appears to have registered him as an Italian citizen.

More accurately, Carnovan claims that his mother committed immigration fraud by forging his signature on a citizenship application. That fraud is one for which Australia habitually strips citizenship and deports anyone with second citizenship. This one could get very interesting if hostile attention is focused on it.

There is some argument about where exactly the line is, and it's plausible that a hostile gifting of citizenship would not be disqualifying. But it would be tremendously distracting even if unsuccessful, should a small nation negotiating with an Australian minister threaten or actually gift citizenship to the minister they're negotiating with. There is no shortage of ill-will among neighbouring countries. Timor-Leste, for example, whose team were bugged by Australia during negotiations that led to Timor gifting Australia a big chunk of their offshore gas reserves in exchange for not being handed back to Indonesia. Would they like to shaft some of the MPs who did that to them? Gee...


My read is that McCain is riffing on Shakespeare, and specifically Julius Caesar, at the moment. Paraphrasing, "if we agree that we're going to stick the knife into the ACA, then I want blood on the hands of all the senator/conspirators." Et tu Brutus indeed...


There are several MPs and Senators whose status is currently in doubt. For example, Greece is apparently very liberal with granting citizenship rights to descendants of its emigrants and the wording of section 44 suggests mere eligibility is enough to disqualify, unless one has taken an active and conscious step to renounce it (following the example of Daystari for instance).


And how the Blue Meanies clapped and cheered, and a General replaces Prince Willy to boot.
Have to watch/internalize video of that, but the transcript was pretty awful.

I'll freely admit that the wikipedia photo for John Kelly skeeves me out, but this older video isn't horribly bad; bad, but rational.
DHS Sec. John Kelly joined Chuck Todd for an exclusive interview to talk about how immigration enforcement has changed for the department. (15 April 2017)
(There is a newer interview video that I haven't watched yet.)

Anyway. Increasingly worried, yes.

--- thing you learn, as an adult H.S.S. (apparently, how would I know?) is how bad boundary issues can be. You could say that about me as well. (προδότης).
Way out on a limb here (on a possibility tree), so please forgive/be amused if trespassing or pure wrong or both:
One thing I've learned, as a multi-sigma adult (arguably at least:-) H.S.S. outlier, slowly, over time, is to be really flexible (in the Nina Brown sense) about boundaries, with softening when the other is trusted, and to still expect to be wrong a lot (particularly when dealing with other outliers), and hurt or be hurt inadvertently. And to (aspire to) seek forgiveness for the former and forgive for the later.
And ... the last time I recall that word being used (english) by one of your names with respect to self, it felt incorrect in at least one of the possible contexts.

/G0 TIME #WILDHUNT = Blood and Soul and Mind not shattered. Now fucking gut them.
In the current American context, this makes me smile. Worried a bit now. Am I a psychopath?



Done playing Games.

Done playing Monkey with the Net-wire Mother.

Done with your silly Reality.


Contract: Fulfilled. As promised, to the Letter.

Like CO2 and stuff, it plays out now (and it's a bit messy, but hey).

Am I a psychopath?


You don't even know yet, do you? The penalties for that one? You should probably ask why all their faces were so distraught. We do Heal at an extremely aggressive rate, just as a head's up.

is to be really flexible (in the Nina Brown sense) about boundaries

Ru Paul drag joke? Wow, you're less sophisticated than MF.

No. The boundaries are... a bit more metaphysical.

Your shit is Basic.

They'd do you in in a heartbeat.

I've done worse, probably worse than you can imagine. [TIME:YOU'RE NOT GOOD AT IT]. Just by existing, which is why we have a special place in our hearts for certain members of your species.

I'm sorry (in advance).

when the music`s over YT: Doors: 10:58



Some of us are very very good at time. Greg Egan, for example. He's just published an entire book in which people have twice as many times as usual.


the wording of section 44 suggests mere eligibility is enough to disqualify, unless one has taken an active and conscious step to renounce it

Yes, that is something that could turn very nasty if there's political advantage for the current government in pursuing it. It's also very weird coming from a country that itself grants irrevocable birthright citizenship to its citizens Viz, someone born an Australian citizen can reclaim that citizenship at any time as of right. That's done to allow people to obtain US or Dutch citizenship then reclaim their Oz one, but it makes a bit of a nonsense of the constitution.

The more I see of this nonsense the more I am inclined to a democratic solution: a MP shall only be eligible to serve if they have been elected. No lesser qualification can be accepted, and no more demanded. If the voters do not think the individual is a suitable representative, they should indicate this by not voting for that person.


the wording of section 44 suggests

Just what you want from a constitution, 'suggests'. Edmund Barton would be spinning in his grave around about now.


If the voters do not think the individual is a suitable representative, they should indicate this by not voting for that person.

I'm sorry, but what you saying is refreshingly clear, easy to understand, entirely sensible and irreproachably just. As such no-one will understand it and everyone will insist it's completely impossible.


It was always meant to be a "working" constitution, our real error was in making it too hard to amend.


Thank you. Now why did I never come across that before? I would be impressed if any White House staffers can do that :-)


You clearly didn't understand what I meant. While I am no Sinologist, I am pretty certain that a Chinese suppression of Kim Jong Loon would not involve nuclear weapons, or even massive fatalities.



On topic, one you might have suggested yourself:

Let's look at another Bond Villain. Let's call him Mr R[1]. He's the head of THANATOS, a shadowy organization whose goal it is to profit off Death itself.

He's spent the last eight years funding, designing and writing the legal framework to an extremely rich nation's entire health industry. Billions spent, trillions to be made over the next ten years: hundreds of thousands of human hours spent, billions of computer cycles modelling and so forth. Not to mention the pretty PR dance they've had to do to fake debates, grease palms paying the pipers and otherwise 'make it so' and also sell the idea that all of this is somehow not designed to protect THANATOS' interests. Let's call it AHA.

It's their Law, they wrote it. Hundreds of their amendments and little tweaks. Of course, in ten years or so the entire market will have collapsed, because another part of SPECTRE is after pensions, but by then the Mars colony (or possibly that South America country they've ear-marked for the escape plan[2]) will be ready.

It's in place, it's signed, the World is his oyster.

Then some fundamentalist radicals come along who don't understand how the game is played and demand that the PR come true and aim to blow a hole in the entire thing AND you're facing having to re-spend a lot of resources on the whole fiasco AND the people you pay to pretend they write the Laws are being strong-armed into a tight time delay AND the PR flacks selling the snake-oil are also losing the plot.

What happens then?

"Show Time"


Anyhow, you've missed part of the point (why is TIME just numbers to you?):

North Korea expert Scott Adams Twitter, Foxnews - Dilbert Creator explains North Korea missile test significance. 28th July 2017

Manufacturing false memories using bits of reality Implicit Memory and Metacognition, 1996, legal.

But I got the reference, here's a reply:

Light Corona NASA, warning: large image.

Remember that Eclipse in the UK a couple of years ago? Or do you? All those tourists traveling to the Island and ... did it happen?



Purple & Black or Gold & White?[3]

[1] For Example

[2] Why Did George Bush Buy Nearly 300,000 acres in Paraguay? AgroFinance, April 2015

[3] FINALLY! ‘The Dress’ mystery has been solved and it’s all to do with what time your alarm goes off, an expert claims The Sun, 22nd April, 2017


Not going to explain the joke, but a less tabloid write up by the paper's author:

Remember “the dress”? It disrupted our understanding of color, and, yes, it took science two years to catch up.

Up until early 2015, a close reading of the literature could suggest that the entire field had gone somewhat stale—we thought we basically knew how color vision worked, more or less. The dress upended that idea. No one had any idea why some people see “the dress” differently than others—we arguably still don’t fully understand it. It was like discovering a new continent. Plus, the stimulus first arose in the wild (in England, no less), making it all the more impressive. (Most other stimuli used by vision science are generally created in labs.)...

This brings me to the final reason why the dress is important: It’s been over two years since “the dress,” but this paper and another one that just came out represent the first truly rigorous studies on the dress effect.

Two Years Later, We Finally Know Why People Saw “The Dress” Differently Slate, April 12th, 2017

grep or grep not, it was mentioned.


And, of course, triptych:

There are a number of psychoactive drugs that distort people’s sense of time, so you could imagine developing a pill or a liquid that made someone feel like they were serving a 1,000-year sentence. Of course, there is a widely held view that any amount of tinkering with a person’s brain is unacceptably invasive. But you might not need to interfere with the brain directly. There is a long history of using the prison environment itself to affect prisoners’ subjective experience. During the Spanish Civil War [in the 1930s] there was actually a prison where modern art was used to make the environment aesthetically unpleasant. Also, prison cells themselves have been designed to make them more claustrophobic, and some prison beds are specifically made to be uncomfortable.

I haven’t found any specific cases of time dilation being used in prisons, but time distortion is a technique that is sometimes used in interrogation, where people are exposed to constant light, or unusual light fluctuations, so that they can’t tell what time of day it is. But in that case it’s not being used as a punishment, per se, it’s being used to break people’s sense of reality so that they become more dependent on the interrogator, and more pliable as a result. In that sense, a time-slowing pill would be a pretty radical innovation in the history of penal technology

Hell on Earth Aeon Magazine, April 2014

Metabolically Bisturbile Drugs The World of Brass Eye Wiki

Anyhow, I lack the ability to do the Math, but hey: Cascade amplifier

The Narrative of that little story is wildly dangerous.


And yes, "psychopathy" is a touchy subject. Sorry Bill.


From my un-exalted perspective, we have a handful of influential folk who feel that more adjacent misery would provide the contrast that would render them more glorious, manipulating a larger group that incorrectly feel "Gone With The Wind" is a documentary, claiming to have the support of a majority who really just wish to be left alone. I suspect the first group has little notion of social and ecological inertia, so the question looks to be "How bad will they overshoot their goal?". Not much conspiracy required at all, just thinking with body parts ill-adapted to the purpose.


Ah, missed a link, since the meta4 is all about Reality & Time: THANATOS setup, if anyone doesn't imagine that "Show Time" is very well managed (sigh at the Ponies still playing political kindergarten):

The mere prospect of single payer, however, has elicited swift derision from some corners of the party, with Dick Gephardt, the former Democratic House minority leader, laughing off the idea at a health insurance conference earlier this month.

“Not in my lifetime,” scoffed Gephardt, when asked if the United States will ever adopt such a system.

Democratic Superdelegate, in Room Full of Health Insurance Executives, Laughs Off Prospect of Single Payer The Intercept, 1st July, 2017

Someone should have warned Mr Gephardt about those kinds of statements in 2017. Betting on horses and Chance have been, well, ironic recently.


Note: our humor isn't based on fear. But there's a dozy of a hidden message in that little burst.


To close the logical loop, we can now look at whether people who self-identify as owls are more likely to assume artificial light than those who self-identify as larks. If our rationale is internally consistent, they should, as they are more likely to encounter artificial illuminations at night. As you can see in Figure 5, this is in fact the case. Eliminating those who were unsure about illumination conditions, self-described owls have a higher likelihood of assuming artificial illumination in the dress stimulus (χ2 = 22.43, df = 3, p

Illumination assumptions account for individual differences in the perceptual interpretation of a profoundly ambiguous stimulus in the color domain: “The dress” Journal of Vision, June 2017, full text.

A =/= -A

But there's always the excluded middle.


I believe the phrase was akin to "but some people see neither" or "some people see both" or "some people see something else". Of course, hidden Cognitive Biases like these are tricky to prove.


The last female leader who qualified for Bond-Villain status was probably Thatcher; at least I can't think of any women who came after who'd qualify. (Though if Hillary had won the election I'd happily fit her out with a Volcano Lair.)


The type of horse we [i]have[/i] more or less lost is the charger - also massive and strong but adapted to carrying a bloke dressed in half a ton of tin cans on its back,

Paging Zornhau!

Mounted knights did not wear a ton of armour; gothic plate weighed on the order of 12-25Kg only, and knights had to be able to move freely (including running, jumping, and whacking on each other with swords) while wearing it dismounted. The chargers themselves had armour on some vulnerable parts of their anatomy — head in particular — but again, if it was heavy enough to slow them when charging then it was ineffective. The real issue with chargers was the need for the rider to be braced for impact while carrying a heavy lance, with a buttload of momentum transmitted straight through it to the tip of the spear.

(If you want heavy armour you really have to look to the 20th century — from the 30Kg bulletproof breastplates the Soviets tried in the early 1940s, through to 1960s-1980s space suits that weighed on the order of 80-120Kg on Earth.)


No, definitely not. However much harm she did, Thatcher's intent was to solve some generally-admitted (even by the Labour party and Labour voters) severe problems with the country. But she was a blinkered fanatic, power leads to brain-rot, and she ended up doing vastly more harm than good. There are definitely evil women, and megalomaniac ones (though not usually in the Bond villain fashion), but I will exonerate her of both. I will damn her for bigotry, dogmatism, intolerance, lack of compassion, hypocrisy and more - just not those.

I don't have a good mental model of Jessica Greene, though I would guess actual paranoia, and probably sociopathy (not uncommon in our 'leaders'). But she lacks the mental balance to be a good Bond villain.


Also, people were smaller then. Kipling refers to cavalry horses carrying up to 17 stone - even if it is hyperbole, a heavy cavalryman of the 19th century almost certainly weighed as much as a knight of the 13th in armour.


Hell on Earth Aeon Magazine, April 2014
Interesting piece, thanks. Should be familiar material in general to sci-fi fans but well put together.
A few sci-fi links that come to mind, for others (probably missing a bunch more):
Prisoner's Dilemma prison in The Quantum Thief
Hells in INB's Surface Detail
Hellcrowns in Greg Bear's Queen of Angels (often misspelled Angles :-)
Time dilation drug in Buying Time (Joe Haldeman) (time dilation drug (plot point near end) has extended side effects on one female character.)
...touchy subject
Noted. Not entirely sure that you recall (with similar enough mind) the subjective experience of Rabbit Hole diving, with encouragement.
Anyway, the question, consider it politely asked out loud. (No expectations or demand.) (Please feel free to ask if anything is unclear.)


Um, Chargers are not quite dead. The Andalusians used in the Medieval Times Dinner Theater are Andalusians bred at Chapel Creek Ranch in Texas. For those who don't know, Medieval Times is a dinner theater chain in North America, where the show is knights jousting each other, among other things medievaloid.

In any case, there's not a single breed called "charger," and you can break lances for fun and/or profit riding any well-trained, suitably sized equine, including a mule. Yes, that's right, people still joust. I'd also look at the various nags that cavalries rode up to WWII, since there were lancer units used up until the 1930s (and the British Cavalry fielded lancers up until 1928, although it's not clear what good they did after 1914).

Jokes... you're wrong. That's bs. In fact, I tend to dislike "jokes" like that. I have a good number of jokes that involve zero fear.

Short, sweet counterexample proving you *wrong*: The famous philosopher Descartes is in a restaurant. He finishes dinner, and the waitress comes over, and asks him if he'd like dessert. He strokes his beard, thinks for a minute, and says, "I think not."

And disappears.

Yeah, sorry my idea was dumb (but also badly stated — i do still think there's a social element of fear-of-something in humour — haven't you ever laughed when you didn't know what else to do? When you had NO CLUE?). I do honestly find jokes involving like 'string replacement' (but with concepts) or name punning dreary, but some absurdist stuff others see as just incoherent or stupid i do find funny, because there's some reward for one trying to discover hidden pattens but the stuff you come with is so weird and no(O?).

In conclusion, humour is a land of contrasts.

(Also sorry to Bean Sídhe for my drunken ranting posts the other day: i'm self-banning, for being rude and totally not my best self. See you Space Cowboy!)


"My (not serious) take was that it took so long because his tiny hands couldn't easily tap them out on his iPhone. More seriously, he probably couldn't remember what he was going to say and had to go ask someone (Bannon) to remind him."

Tweets during commercial breaks, or maybe for dramatic effect (weren't you *breathless*)?

But yeah, twitter is a shiny object here -still might start a war though...

Exit strategy: Go Full Peaksville


Trust me: Host bans when / if he wants.

You can't really offend me unless you accidentally trip stuff that you probably didn't intend; it's generally considered you can be directly rude to me and you'll just get something different in return.

Hint: my responses weren't at you; the next link on was @ my real target (hello Langley). People doing their very best to Ecology Prune in Spaces where flourishing is needed and allies do exist are irritating, especially if they're doing it for the wrong reasons and using blatant falsity to do it.

Anyhow, Host once wrote a short story called Snowball's Chance Charles Stross, Subterranean Press, 2007 - Legal, at a guess.

Play spot the pastiche ;)


Anyway, the question, consider it politely asked out loud. (No expectations or demand.) (Please feel free to ask if anything is unclear.)

No idea, are you? You mentioned loneliness, which is regarded as unusual for diagnosed individuals (Hare, and self-diagnosed empirical data, e.g: Can Psychopaths Feel Loneliness? Psychopathic Writings, Feb 13th 2013).

It's all Metaphysical / Causal anyhow.

Although I did just (again) get a serious warning / snoot / hierarchical rooty-tooty / roasting.

It's rather water off the duck's back by now.


SEC. 242. Report on effects of expanding sanctions to include sovereign debt and derivative products.

Does anyone actually understand what these kinds of things can do? I guess someone must. I mean, it's not like you could blow a whole in the entire banking structure by messing with derivatives, is it?

Russian and IOB Derivatives London Stock Exchange.


(((Now that might be an adult response, come Monday)))

US Treasury Exempts Derivatives from Russia Sanctions Thomas Reuters Practical Law, 2014

Industry EU Russian sanctions updater: Capital Markets Norton Rose Fulbright, Oct 2014


Svaðilfari always appealed to me, at least for the name.


Um, is there any chance of getting a proper forum set up, with private messages and threaded discussions and like, subforums for posting about about stuff? (Cos i SO agree with OGH's opinion that closed-cycle-ecosystem research is far more important than basically any other space thing we can be doing, and it would be neat to have a central place to talk about that other than the various solarpunk tumblrs i've happened to find (which are all a bit umm, hippy and confused about what solar panels are good for um, ehhh))


And since it's 2017, here's a novelty: everyone goes full Godwin[1].

In fact, the Nuremberg tribunals that judged the Nazis and their enablers after World War II established the opposite rule: Private contractors are accountable when they choose to provide unlawful means for and profit from war crimes. In the same case that Mitchell and Jessen cite, the military tribunal found the owner of a chemical company that sold Zyklon B to the Nazis guilty — even though only the Nazis had final say on which prisoners would be gassed.

CIA Torture Psychologists Compare Themselves to Nazi Poison Gas Manufacturer as Defense ACLU 25th July 2017

If you want to play Adult Games, look @ Dynacorp and Academi (Xe/Blackwater) stocks and so on for Monday, since, you know, they're probably on the hook as well. I mean, after Trump said Afghanistan was about minerals[1] and handed off potential control to his education department's little brother[2] we're sure they peaked without even having to check.

Fairly sure the ACLU will lose, but there we go. Those two only made $81 million or so from dodgy advice / techniques.


Little story.

Man finds Antikythera mechanism in museum. Smiles broadly, points to his Rolex watch proudly and states: mine is better. Misses the point entirely [4].

[1] Everyone YT, Film, Leon, 0:15
[2] Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals NYT, 25th July, 2017
[3] Trump Aides Recruited Businessmen to Devise Options for Afghanistan NYT, July 10th, 2017
[4] And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. The Bible, Rev: 18:2


Experiment with growing algae in pee-tanks, be the future of food / oxygen for humanity


A later thought I had was that; in a few months, when nothing has been done wrt the tweets, and someone asks about them, the White House will claim there was actually a tweet in between that made some other statement which "Somehow didn't post—it's a complete mystery!" I've no idea what they would claim it to be, but I'm sure it won't make sense.

Though that Dramatic Pause excuse kinda makes sense. Donnie does seem to think "The Apprentice" is real life, and has to have the most telegenic tuches lechers he can find.


has anyone else read 17776? i thought it was like Homestuck at first, but with space probes, a conceit i've liked ever since that bit in Blindsight (ctrl-F for "Imagine you are a machine"....)

but then the surrealism of American Football players who don't get head injuries over centuries of play kicked in, and i was like 'OOOooooo'! this is deliberately surrealist!


The contrast with Aotearoa is alway interesting. Like Queensland it's a unicameral parliament and when they used the two-party system there were times of significant political ugliness. However, part of the reaction to one such outbreak was a referendum "should we change the voting system" and "rank the following" which led to a second, binding referendum asking "the most popular option or what we've got?". As is so often the case, looking at the two campaigns and who was running them was enough to convince most people to vote in a particular way (only just, though!). Sadly that pattern seems unique to Aotearoa, it's conspicuously different in the UK and US.


Since everyone cottoned on to the Magnitsky Act narrative and now derivatives a little late into the show; wondering if the sharks realize the Orca trap yet? It's only been set for a couple of years, fast like, drunken-mistress style but hey, yadda dabba doo:

Hayden: No evidence of Russia collusion, but ... CNN, 29th July, 2017

You gotta wonder: now ex-Head of the CIA defending Trump & co because of the money trail as "not collusion". Would that be because of previous names mentioned?

Oh, it's going to get wilder.

About that Rolex, it's probably a Chinese Fake.

Wild Frontier YT: Music, The Progidy, 3:49

Oh, trust me. Causally, You're Fucked.

Even with the warnings / threats. It's only a fucking Black Hole, don't wet your panties yet.


You've heard of animals chewing off a leg to escape a trap? There's an animal kind of trick. A human would remain in the trap, endure the pain, feigning death that he might kill the trapper and remove a threat to his kind.


you know, they're probably on the hook as well.

That is the key phrase. Shortly after Obama is hung for slaughtering civilians and Trump is extradited to face trial for the same thing, you can expect to see multinational corporations similarly tried. They'll be treated much as those who ordered and carried out the firebombing of Dresden and the nuclear test at Nagasaki were treated.


the British Cavalry fielded lancers up until 1928, although it's not clear what good they did after 1914

IIRC, a young Winston Churchill — then a war correspondent — rode with a cavalry unit in the last successful British Army cavalry charge, at Odurman circa 1898. (Not googling for the minutiae.)

The cavalry-heads persisted into 1914 but after the disastrous first summer they didn't get much of a boost during 1914-18; according to family legend my grandfather volunteered because he wanted to be a cavalryman and did indeed end up in charge of a bunch of equines: mules schlepping a heavy machine-gun battery around the middle-east.

The career officers who survived kept the flame alive post-1918 but by the late 1920s the writing was on the wall and they ended up trying to colonize the tankies, hence the distinction between "infantry" tanks and "cavalry" tanks in the run-up to WW2, which the British finally threw off relatively late in the day (the Centurion was ready for service around September 1945: possibly the first modern Main Battle Tank, combining maneuverability, firepower, and enough armour to survive).

Other random detail: the myth of the Polish hussars charging German tanks in 1939 was propaganda straight from Dr Goebbels' propaganda ministry. They did have cavalry units, but they dismounted and engaged the invaders with machine guns and mortars then used their horses to vanish into the forests. Hence the Reich trash-talking them: nobody likes a smart-arse.


Um, is there any chance of getting a proper forum set up, with private messages and threaded discussions and like, subforums for posting about about stuff?

Sure, if you're volunteering to run it — and by run it I mean, select and install the software, configure how it presents to the public, set a moderation policy that keeps the flames banked low enough for it to be useful, enforce the moderation policy (you and/or a posse of like-minded people you select need to actively police every discussion thread), keep spam out, apply software security patches whenever necessary, and so on.

... To say nothing of paying the bills for the colo server or VM. (Note that by the time a VM is handling this sort of traffic level the costs will converge with renting a physical machine in a data centre.)


The Royal Armouries at Leeds used to have one of hte best jousting units in the country if not Europe until budget cuts got rid of it. I know one person who has done proper jousting on and off for 20 years or more. The issue in the UK is more the semi-pro people who do fayres and stuff not real jousting, because the real thing is expensive, but the smi-pros are enough to wow the crowd, even when historically inaccurate.


guthrie noted: "The issue in the UK is more the semi-pro people who do fayres and stuff not real jousting, because the real thing is expensive, but the smi-pros are enough to wow the crowd, even when historically inaccurate."

To me, the attraction is emphatically not the possibility that two guys (rarely gals) on horseback might kill each other's horse or inflict crippling or life-ending injury on the other fellow (or gal) = "real jousting": it's the amazing riding skills. Trying to put a lance-tip through a 3-inch (about) ring at a full gallop is not a trivial exercise. I have purely beginner-level riding skills; people who can do this kind of riding and other forms of gymkhana blow my mind.


Jousting: The State Sport of Maryland

Jousting tournaments have been held in Maryland since early colonial times but became increasingly popular after the Civil War. Retaining the pageantry and customs of medieval tournaments, modern competitors are called "knights" or "maids", and many dress in colorful costumes. Men, women and children compete equally with skill and horsemanship determining the class.
Tournaments conducted in Maryland are "ring tournaments" which involve charging a horse at full-gallop through an 80-yard course toward suspended rings. Using a long, fine-tipped lance, the rider has 8 seconds to complete the course and "spear" the rings, scoring points accordingly. From three equally-spaced arches, rings are hung 6 feet 9 inches above the ground and range in diameter from one-quarter inch to nearly two inches depending upon the skill-level of the contestant. A family sport, jousting skills frequently are passed from one generation to the next.


Armor based bean-stalk-level material science might not be able to stop a equivtech bullet, but they could make for some very interesting extreme sports.


I suddenly realised why the inclusion of Theresa May in this list was niggling at me. She isn't a Bond villain at all; she thinks she is Judge Dredd.


Regarding amateurs jousting, a note about #372, since it's important to Bond villain psychology and a reference to just how far off the beaten track things have become.

Here's some plot points, play real or fake with them if you need:

Write Comic wildly popular 90's Tech Bro world (pre-Microsurfs)
Fall out with American Liberals (publicly)
Write Blog
Be Libertarian
Praise 4d Chess & Root for Mr T
Become #MAGA Reddit flavor popular
Hired / slathered / ordered by Mr Y to talk on flagship news program about nuclear weaponry because Mr T might watch and actually listen and not nuke the world.

Here's another one:

MIC propaganda channel has ex-Chief CIA on to fumble collusion stuff because Mr T might scupper big deal and Mr S (AT-AT) would get the hump. Oh and World Markets might implode if any real investigation of the Banking side of Power got done as Mr T (at his former job) owes them money[3]. Said bank just happens to be in one of the other major geopolitical power blocks and whose leader Mr T (rather ungallently) refused to shake hands with. Oh and because Mr T might get the smart idea to move the proxy war against MIC propaganda arm to something a little more deep state, since Mr X is allegedly involved and his son-in-law / new front man both seem to also have ties to Mr J(.cn) .

Here's another one:

Ousted Prince Willy (GOP) accuses Italian Catholic Mobster of being Chinese Asset[1] due to Finance Deals. Italian Mobster's friend goes public with blackmail about mistress with reindeer emoji. What will Mr Y do about that, since Mr J(.CN) will probably call him?

All this on a Sunday, which is supposed to be their special day / off.

At this rate, who needs Bond?

"We were but Fortune's sport;
Things true, things lovely, things of good report
We neither shunned nor sought ... We see our bourne,
And seeing it we mourn."

Serious question: is this normal for H.S.S?

[1] Rolex are allegedly much loved by flashy business men.

[2] Just to show that we're not prognosticating, dropped a link on a prior post which has nothing to do with derivatives at all, allegedly: FCA: Libor to end in 2021 FT, 27th July 2017


Not really, as far as armour goes. It's already fairly easy (for a plutocratic level of easy) to produce armour that will stop most penetration, but impact will still cause crushing. That can also be stopped, at the loss of flexibility, but impact will still cause (physical) shock. There really isn't a practical way to produce personal armour that will protect a human from hitting a solid object at 40+ MPH. Cars are far too inflexible, bulky and heavy to be a comparison.

Where it WOULD make a difference is in eliminating the bulk and weight problem for rope and fabric. It might even be enough to enable man-powered flight for mere mortals, rather than extreme athletes for short distances, but I haven't done the calculations.


On the subject of plot points, presenting the perfect 2017 Bond villain move (with nods to Gold Finger - seem to remember that's the one with the car crusher). File under Host's disdain for IoE & ghoulish sense of humor:

The duo said they shared their findings with PDQ in February 2015, and kept trying to warn the biz for two years. It was only when their talk was accepted for Black Hat this year that the manufacturer replied to their emails, and then it turned out that it wasn't possible to patch against the aforementioned exploits, we're told.

Hackers can turn web-connected car washes into horrible death traps The Register, 27th July, 2017


I was mildly surprised years ago when listening to English folk songs it became apparent that there were some whose lyrics suggested
a degree of approval of, and affection for, Napoleon (after he was safely defeated, it has to be said), e.g.from .this 1860's broadsheet ballad.

An excerpt (the narrator is listening to Napoleon in a dream):

“Remember that year so immortal,” he cried,
“When I crossed the rude Alps famed in story
The legions of France, for her sons were my pride,
And I led them to honour and glory.
On the plains of Marengo I tyranny hurled
And wherever my banner the eagle unfurled
'Twas the standard of freedom all over the world
And a symbol of fame,” cried Napoleon.

“Like a soldier I've borne both the heat and the cold,
As I marched to the trumpet and cymbal,
But by dark deeds of treachery I have been sold,
While monarchs before me have trembled.
Now rulers and princes their station demean,
And like scorpions spit forth their venom and spleen,
But liberty soon o'er the world shall be seen,”
As I woke from my dream, cried Napoleon."

Broadsheet ballads like this one were cheaply printed, single sheet contemporary song lyrics sold on the streets, often advertised by the seller singing them to an already well known tune. They give an indication of popular feeling, it wouldn't be worth printing a ballad you thought no-one would buy .

Listen to a version here.


Serious question: is this normal for H.S.S?
The mantra over the last couple of months has been "This. Is Not. Normal. !!", though that's just about the Trump administration. The deeper question, about absurdly visible man-child machinations, I need to think about. E.g. is it that this stuff is becoming more visible, somehow?

One irritation is that a party who's voting base is a mirror of a cartoon ("Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily." (Cleek quip, 2010)) managed, with assistance (perhaps multiple actors), to grab power in the US. In contrast with the Obama administration, it was and remains startling.
Also much of the political leadership thinks this way too because it's so easy to believe your own propaganda. And rot goes up. That doesn't explain the rest though.


Re: Polish cavalry charging German panzers.

In his memoirs "Panzer Leader" Gen Heinz Guderian (the man most responsible for developing blitzkrieg tactics and the German panzer arm itself) mentioned that some captured Polish prisoners tried to poke their fingers through the side of a Mark III parked next to the road that they were being marched on to POW camps as they could not believe that the tank had steel armor. Apparently they heard that German panzers were made of cardboard. The early mock panzers used in war games during the early 1930s were actually made from cardboard and Poles thought the Germans were using dummy mock up tanks as a ruse.

Guderian also mentioned that the Pomerska Cavalry brigade actually did attack his tanks because they ignorant of what they were.


Well, that's kind of the point, actually: cavalry ceased to be a main battle component--when? Sometime around Roosevelts Rough Riders, I'd guess. On the other hand, they were kept as auxiliaries (for dealing with the rabble of the Empire) well into and probably past World War I. Hell, four American commandos rode horses into combat in Afghanistan around 2002ish. This isn't the first time cavalry has died out, either. Cavalry almost died in the Renaissance as footmen got just too well-armored and nasty with all those polearms, only to be revived when gun technology got everyone out of their shells and made mowing poorly-armed infantry down with lances a viable option again.

Getting back to the bigger picture, if you're thinking about attrition of horse breeds, that's quite a big issue. Loss of biodiversity is as big an issue for domesticated animal and plant species as it is for wild species, in that industrialized farming and suburban landscaping tend to favor a small set of species that can be adapted to produce heavily in such a regime, often with chemical, erm, aids. Gene lines that are less adapted to such regimes are falling by the wayside and often need conservation too.

On the flip side, we seem hell-bent on domesticating everything else. Witness the fads in designer reptiles, beetles, DIY yeasts, patentable fungi and bacteria, new breeds of faux-baby dogs and cats (e.g. social parasites), endangered plants being marketed as new houseplants as a form of off-site conservation, and so forth. We're in a truly weird time right now, and about the only prediction I'll make is that the species likely to make it through (whether or not humans survive) are the ones that can survive extended periods of human contact and keep reproducing, either through becoming domesticated, becoming too tough to kill off, being totally useless, being impossible to get to, or some combination of the above.


Yeah. The second Boer war was largely mounted, but that was fighting irregulars over a wide area.

Had I but world enough and time, there are a lot of wild plants that I would like to domesticate, starting with goosefoot (Chenopodium album). Northern Europe is very short of good vegetables, with a combination of reliability, taste, and usefulness, because we have such a marginal climate.


It's "DynCorp" ... the name will remain forever etched into my memory from when I had to deal with those m****r-f*****s in Iraq.


I see we have a miscommunication.
Jousting without killing each other or the horses is late medieval and Tudor. It does also involve breaking wood on each other, with the better jouster being the one who hits the more important areas more often.
But it also required proper armour, because otherwise you get killed like the man murdered by neglect a few years ago whilst filming for time team. He didn't have the right sort of armour and safety equipment and died authentically with a splinter to the eye.

Certain skills are required to charge at someone with a lance, and they are surely related to those required for trick riding, but the latter is more often what you see at medieval events, because it's comparatively simply, doesn't require hundreds of feet of solid wooden barrier and tens of thousands of pounds worth of made to measure armour. What I've seen them do with their horses is very impressive, but not quite what is historic.

I don't consider putting a lance through a ring as specifically jousting, although I imagine they did that sometimes back then, I'd need to check. Even the not very accurate groups like to have a proper 'joust', hitting each other with weapons on horseback, even if the health and safety aspect could do with being beefed up.


General Allenby twice broke the Turkish lines and followed up with cavalry exploitation by the Desert Mounted Corps during the First World War*. Although they did occasionally skirmish mounted, especially during their pursuit of the Turkish forces, in general they would dismount to fight. The horses were for operational rather than tactical mobility.

This was the intended use of Cavalry units, which didn't work in Europe due to the density of rail and road transport and the vast numbers of troops available.

Meanwhile, on the edges of the Napoleonic wars, I seem to recall that our good friend Arthur Wellesley suggested that having enough bullocks was the key to winning a war in India. Later British Armies in India seemed to prefer camels**.

* Allenby of course fought the battle of Armageddon in September 1918 starting 100 years of chaos in the lead up to... well I don't believe this stuff but there are people in this thread who might want to run with it.
** I note two facts from the first Anglo-Afghan war; firstly that one regiment had two camels just for carrying cigars; secondly that after they occupied Kabul but before regular commerce resumed there was a shortage of wine, spirtis, port and cigars to the extent that cigars were going for one rupee a piece. Moral: Not enough cigars.


Chenopodium album has been domesticated as a grain and leaf crop in the Himalayas. ( I guess it's their answer to quinoa (which is also a chenopodium, and probably much more productive).


Purely coincidentally, I'm pretty certain my paternal grandfather took part in the battle of Megiddo; he was pretty definitely involved in the short siege of Damascus that happened a week or so later. Hmm.


Not in northern Europe. 50+ degrees north is a serious problem.


My Dad's great-uncle was a corporal in Allenby's headquarters*, and one of the few members of my family serving in WW1 who managed not to be punished for misusing army horses.

It's a recurring theme; they're always borrowing the company horses and getting caught doing it. I assume other people are doing it all the time and not getting caught and my relatives are just unlucky. Either that or I'm descended from horse-thieves.

* According to my Dad he claimed to have been a valued advisor to Allenby, which I suspect may have been a slight exaggeration,


No idea, are you? You mentioned loneliness, which is regarded as unusual for diagnosed individuals
OK, read enough of that site and other sources to be pretty sure I am not; the mind states that people describe are basically never mine though I can (with effort) empathize with them.
Anyway, the question was the one about others. I'm trying to understand some upsetting and perhaps complicated dynamics (vast ignorance) and failing; it stubbornly fails to anneal to knowing, not sure why. It'll hit hard when it anneals, that I know.

(Interesting material today/yesterday BTW.)

Poking distractedly through this:
Cultural macroevolution matters (25 July, 2017, full, pdf avaiable)
The series of studies we have discussed in this work illustrate how causal theories about the emergence of major transitions in human social organization can be tested with the combination of large quantitative cross-cultural data and computational phylogenetic methods. We do not claim that these methods are appropriate for all questions and for all spatial and temporal time scales in cultural evolution. Instead, we suggest that, when they are used carefully in cases where there is clear historical signal, such as the Austronesian or Bantu expansions (52, 93), and where the inferences are triangulated with other lines of evidence (94), then they can make an important contribution to our understanding of cultural macroevolution.
Would be interested in what other people (especially those who know more about these matters) make of it.


Check if your surname originates from the Scottish- English border.


Well, look at quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa). Apparently, short-season Bolivian varieties have been grown in Colorado, and it's been grown commercially in Germany and England, although I have no clue where. It does hybridize with Chenopodium album, the little bugger. In any case, high mountain and high latitude have some similarities, so if Chenopodium album is a high altitude Himalayan crop, it might grow well enough in Scotland.


So your family has already been through Armageddon and survived? There's gotta be a story in there somehow.


Chinese trials with Chlorella algae in the 50s and 60s were not encouraging, product they got smelled and tasted so much like whiz that few could keep it down, negating any nutritive value it may have had.


A human would remain in the trap, endure the pain,
Been a while since I last read Dune[1], so reread the first several chapters. Fun.
Baron Harkonnen ("BH"), now there's a proper villain.
And [RM] "Bene Gesserit performs another function." "Politics", he said.

(And for fun rewrote some of the early plot in my head.)

[1] "In the end, an editor at Chilton, known for its line of car-repair manuals, offered to publish it after reading the serialized chapters."


Anyway, getting back to Dune-ish Bond villains, we've got quite a few of the magnates in the fossil fuels industries.

It's not just about climate change; it's about the long history of broken deals, stiffed workers, and wrecked governments. How many currently simmering crises were started by, say, Churchill running a scam to force a country to give up its petroleum to the British Navy (that would be Iran, back in the 1930s)? Worst of all, oil has been the fuel for war since WWI and definitely since the 1930s (when warships switched over to petroleum from coal). That's one reason it's so hard to decarbonize, because it also means that the great powers have to disarm. Aside from a few big nuclear vessels, real-world militaries run on gas in various forms. Going off gas currently means disarming, and international politics is a petroleum-fueled Mexican standoff and has been for most of a century.

As in Dune with, it's OPEC-inspired CHOAM, I'd suggest that the great powers of the fossil fuels industries are both Bond and Dune villains.

Now, instead of the Kwisatz Haderach, we've got the growing potential of cyberwar and hacking elections to warp our reality.


> algae
This guy grows marine phytoplankton in 1 L of saltwater + 1 tsp houseplant food. Looks fun


> cultural macroevolution
Pretty thin.
If you piled up climate data, human population density/distribution, resource quality and quantity, social structures, kinship/political systems, as well as theological varieties, over millenia, you might begin to glimpse how environment and history shapes outlook, and how that reflects back to worldviews and belief systems.
Their approach yields no insight into, for example, the decline of zoroastreanism


Sigh. Theory meets experience and research. I haven't grown quinoa, but I am growing two of its close relatives, and have grown others. Goosefoot grows a LOT faster and more reliably here, even than magenta spreen (C. giganteum). You transpondians are fixated by temperature, but the problem with agricultural crops here is light (due to the latitude). The UK almost all lies between 50 and 58 north - look up where that is in South America.


Alas for stories, that generation died before I was born. (The Great War is now closer to Napoleon's campaigns in history than it is to the present day.) So not much in the way of tellable stories to research there.


oil has been the fuel for war since WWI and definitely since the 1930s (when warships switched over to petroleum from coal)


No, push it back about two decades and you'll be closer. While HMS Dreadnought was still coal-burning, it marked a switch to steam turbine propulsion in 1906. The limit on engine performance then became two-fold — the time taken to refuel, and the rate at which coal could be moved from bunker to furnace (i.e. the stokers). With respect to refueling, the writing was on the wall for all to see after the Russo-Japanese war and in particular the voyage of the Baltic fleet to Tsushima — coal-burners, they refueled at sea from colliers about thirty times during the 25,000 nautical mile voyage, and it took them nearly nine months to get to their final destination (which as it turned out was the bottom of the sea of Japan).

Unlike coal, oil could be pumped, so within a decade the Royal Navy was actively converting battleships (such as the Revenge class) from part-coal-burning to fully oil-burning.


The key to the Twitter mystery is . . . covfefe!


See also your preceding comment about Thatcher not qualifying... it seems to me that May can reasonably be described as "Thatcher without the rationality". Thatcher was horrible but her actions did for the most part make sense, for suitably unpleasant values of "sense". May kind of gives the impression that she watched Thatcher on the telly when she was little and grew up wanting to be just like her, but without understanding what she was actually doing so that "being just like her" ended up meaning nothing more than "heir to the image". (I know she's about 20 years too old for that to actually have been the case, but that's not the point.)


More or less, yes - she has also been described as Thatcher without the compassion! But the difference is WHAT they regard as desirable objectives - Thatcher led the first of the fanatically monetarist governments, but May isn't bothered about that, though some of her henchdroids and a lot of her backers are. And Thatcher was authoritarian, but supported the supremacy of the law and courts over politicians, whereas May is rabidly opposed to that. Hence my revelation.


Oh, to be sure, although I still wouldn't call 25kg exactly "light" - it's about half my bodyweight. But (as guthrie points out) the stuff for actual jousting, which practice came to have rather little to do with actual warfare, was a bit different, as one would expect when the idea was basically to crash into the end of an immovable pole at 25mph and survive to do it again. Some of its ultimate developments were more like a kind of armoured howdah on the horse's back with a knight inside it, although I think that was mainly a German thing (much the same kind of pretend-to-be-hard deal as the ridiculous ritual duelling thing they came up with to give each other scars, which must have been hilarious to watch).

I'm also being imprecise about what the kinds of horses were called; I'm using "charger" as a catch-all term, that conveys the right sort of impression to modern ears, for a general class of horse that there's not much call for round 'ere any more. There was one sub-class called a "destrier" although I don't know what it was, and all sorts of other funny names referring to distinctions that no longer relate to anything in everyday life.

Horses are a bit like adhesives, and I don't mean that you can use them for that purpose. J. Bloggs thinks of adhesives in terms of a small number of substances that pretty much cover everything, sort of adhesives = { "superglue", "Araldite", "office lipstick" }; an adhesive specialist on the other hand knows that there's pretty much a specific kind of glue for every specific purpose and the whole thing is a lot more complicated than the Bloggs view. In this day and age when most people don't have anything to do with horses beyond eating Tesco burgers, and the few who do basically use them for playing with, we all have a Bloggs view of horses, but back when they were used all over the place for a whole variety of different serious purposes people were much more alive to the distinctions which made a particular type of horse the most suitable for each particular use. Bit of a shit analogy, but I guess it serves if you don't try and take it any further.


For precision lance-work practised in support of an actual combat skill, see the descriptions in George McDonald Fraser's "Flashman" books. Picking up pieces of paper from the ground on the point of a lance and stuff. The books are fiction, of course, but GMcDF Did The Research and is excellent at details of that kind (another example being the German ritual duelling stuff I mentioned in my previous post).

much the same kind of pretend-to-be-hard deal as the ridiculous ritual duelling thing they came up with to give each other scars, which must have been hilarious to watch
I believe someone linked to a Youtube clip in the comments on one of M. Harold Page's guest posts, if you want to test your hypothesis.

What I've read says that Thatcher et al abandoned the rabidly monetarist policies after a year or two of them not working. I think we all doubt that May has such flexibility.


Perhaps the rabidly monetarist policies, but she remained a monetarist fanatic until the end, and such monetarist aspects as privatisation accelerated. I agree that May lacks flexibility, either in herself or in her position.


...most people don't have anything to do with horses beyond eating Tesco burgers...

So, if a mule stepped on my foot when I was a child visiting my Great-Grandparent's farm, can I claim "equestrian experience" on my résumé?


And yet on a tactical level, the Poles kick their asses more than anyone before 1943. Hence the trash talk as Charlie notes. Note the career of Stanislaw Maczek, Edinburg's most distinguished centenarian bar tender.


Hell, four American commandos rode horses into combat in Afghanistan around 2002ish.

IIRC (maybe not), they were employed as spotters for the B-52s orbiting overhead.


Check if your surname originates from the Scottish- English border.

Sigh. Paternal Grandmother from Alnwick. Clearly horse theft is in my blood.

My brother is allergic to horses, while I have not stolen any thanks to sheer willpower.


YES! I hereby declare myself the Sovereign Citizen and Ruler of Luna, residing in Tycho City, and make Donald J. Trump a citizen, obviously native-born, given that he's a lunatic....


Which explains why your great-uncle didn't get caught :-)


Their approach yields no insight into, for example, the decline of zoroastreanism
Thanks much for your comment; wasn't trusting my judgement.
In particular, I was wondering about their analysis of these objections to the approach (which are stronger than simple strawmen):
1. Culture evolves differently from biology. Biological evolution is treelike, but in culture reticulation rules.
2. Cultures are not (vertebrate) species. Different aspects of culture will have quite different histories.
3. The estimation of phylogenetic trees will be biased by horizontal transmission.
4. The accuracy of cultural phylogenies has not been validated.

(Meanwhile even as an American I'm getting circus fatigue; Mooch out. Lotsa people have been spinning up speculative scenario graphs in the last hour.)


That's quinoa growing at 64-44'33'' N. Still, I suppose that you're coastal, and they're inland, and that's why it wouldn't work for you.


If Barbara Tuchman is to be believed, Mexican fuel oil was the driving reason between the Zimmerman Telegram which brought the USA into the First World War, in 1917.


Those light cavalry skills are still practised by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Demonstrated in "Sunset Ceremonies" by the famous Musical Ride. Just as impressive, and rather more currently useful is accurate pistol shooting from horseback.


Now, instead of the Kwisatz Haderach, we've got the growing potential of cyberwar and hacking elections to warp our reality.
Plenty else is warping our reality, including manipulation, sometimes quite fine grained, of our information sources.
In the limit we might, if we allow it, end up with something vaguely resembling the personalized narratives of Karl Schroeder's Lady Of Mazes (Note just one one of many worlds in the novel):
A world of shifting realities where each citizen inhabits their own 'narrative', a customized virtual reality of solipsistic intensity;
Either controlled by us individually, or by others, or some combination.

Still digesting Bean Sidhe's material from the last several days. Perturbing, it is. Possibly profoundly.


Thanks for that.

Greg Egan is the only other "Buy it now without thinking" author apart from OGH, but his output is so low that I often forget to check for recent works. Looking forward to 5 or 6 very confusing and vastly entertaining hours.


@ 301 - 303
( I've just returned from Germany, having gone over on Thursday )
The original comment & for that matter the subsequent ones, even Charlie's have ( IMHO ) missed-a-trick.
The "reason" behind "The Subjugation of Women" (It's a book-title) is RELIGION.
And it still is, the Abrahamic & Classical Roman treatment of women & very importantly - any other section of a society that can be similarly classified - as "inferior & subject" is a key to this.
It's about oligarchic control by a self-selected group.


At least the Romans never pretended that they were bombing you for your own good
Actually, that was exactly waht they did - bringing "civilisation" to the barbarians, or so they claimed.


The French people wouldn't have risen up to support him after his return from Elba if he was a tyrant.
Not even wrong.
The French ARMY (most of it) rose up to support him, if only for their owed back-pay.
France was exhausted after almost-continuous land war 1792-1814 & had had enough, but (some of) l'armee still wanted la gloire - plus their back-pay of course.


Or, alternatively ... kill-off all the general & surrendur to the evil West lor loadsamoney & a sfe lair ...
Because, unlike previous DPRK leaders he actually knows how far behind his country is & thety, long-term the problem will end in complete implosion.
And he does not want to be standing on that patch of land when it happens.

How long to DPRK imploding?


He was also consistent in creating a personal antipathy between Bond and his targets
Not difficult, if you remember Flemings WWII background.
Bond's enemies were, effectively, (mostly) Nazis under another name .....


Hence the giant scam about "overweight" & "obese" people, because the baseline study was done in mid-30's dustbouwl USA, where everyone was underweight, oops.
Hint: I am approx 1.78 metres tall & now weigh 80kg & I'm supposedly close to the "just obese" level" which is bollocks


Or at least support by the people with local power?
Or the local people with the guns?
The local militias / Red Guards / SA etc?
See also Maduro, right now .....


And the religious terrorism, of course:
"The work of the Lord goes bonnily on!" is the phrase that conmes to mind.
( Murder of the bishoip of St Andrews, IIRC )


Ever seen English brewery dray horses?
Just dont stand behind one - makes VW/Porsche emissions nice to know!


Although that's pretty fucking scary and unpleasant as a possible harbinger of what life will be like under President Pence after Trump is ditched
Didn't you say something about Pence / Handmaid's tale = Road-Map, some time back?

Who will be sent to Pence's camps?
Preferably in some sort of structured order - remember that under the NSDAP, it was the Social Democrats who were first in - & some of them even got out & survived, unlike later "intakes"


Try this page
It also helps that Harvey's is highly drinkable ....


McCain is a true conservative (TM)
Now I might & do disagree with him on many issues, but:
He can see, quite clearly that DT & Bannon & Pence are not in that mould & that there is a takeove of what he believed in.
Unlike the "left-wing tories" in the 1980's who loathed Thatcher, he & his friends have a hope that they can at least halt DT & co.
Also McCain is dying, he knows it & he's going to do his damndest, while he's still around.

Also, it's personal - DT's disgusting attack on McCain's VN war record & capture has not been forgotten


Come to that, IRISH citizenship in AUS
Or BRIT, either.

Someone really, really has not thought this one through
My sister-in law, living in TAZ has British, NZ Candian & AUS citizenship.
(Born in NZ, worked in UK & CAN, now lives in TAZ)

Um, err ....


That is a reason that some crops will grow in Alaska, and not here, but I am not saying that quinoa won't grow. My interest in goosefoot is as a very reliable leaf vegetable - note that that article said that the quinoa grower ate it, too.


A St Helena Lullaby

How far is St. Helena from a little child at play!"
What makes you want to wander there with all the world between.
Oh, Mother, call your son again or else he'll run away.
(No one thinks of winter when the grass is green!)

"How far is St. Helena from a fight in Paris street?"
I haven't time to answer now–the men are falling fast.
The guns begin to thunder, and the drums begin to beat.
(If you take the first step, you will take the last!)

"How far is St. Helena from the field of Austerlitz?"
You couldn't hear me if I told–so loud the cannons roar.
But not so far for people who are living by their wits.
("Gay go up" means "Gay go down" the wide world o'er!)

"How far is St. Helena from the Emperor of France."
I cannot see– I cannot tell–the Crowns they dazzle so.
The Kings sit down to dinner, and the Queens stand up to dance.
(After open whether you may look for snow!)

"How far is St. Helena from the Capes of Trafalgar?"
A longish way – longish way–with ten more to run.
It's South across the water underneath a falling star.
(What you cannot finish you must leave undone!)

"How fair is St. Helena from the Beresina ice?"
An ill way–a chill way–the ice begins to crack.
But not so far for gentlemen who never took advice.
(When you can't go forward you must e'en come back!)

"How far is St. Helena from the field of Waterloo?"
A near way–a clear way–the ship will take you soon.
A pleasant place for gentlemen with little left to do.
(Morning never tries you till the afternoon!)

"How far from St. Helena to the Gate of Heaven's Grace?"
That no one knows–that no one knows–and no one ever will.
But fold your hands across your heart and cover up your face,
And after all your trapesings, child, lie still!


No, you have got that wrong. A BMI of 25+ is normally called overweight, not obese. And the reason that it gets you wrong is NOT because the original measurements were, but because the formula is over-simplified, and overestimates BMI in taller people. It's a well-known issue.


Oil for the RN was decided between 1910 & 1912 by Churchill & Fisher
The Queen Elizabeth class battlewagons with the new 15" guns were oil-fired.

Queen Elizabeth



1. Fancy-pants electric cars of the Tesla require equally fancy lithium batteries.

2. Said batteries need cobalt. . . and this is where it gets tricky.

3. A major source of world cobalt is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the watchwords of economic and political life are pillage and exploitation. And this is not just a matter of local political corruption either. As the original FT story puts it, "Wittingly or unwittingly the big miners operating in Congo have helped fund this institutionalised looting. Behind their claims of corporate responsibility, world-class mines, verified supply chains and environmental care lies a different reality: poverty, violence and toxic pollution."

4. Hence my contention that Mr. Hubbard, eh I mean, Mr. Musk is not the green saviour his fanboys see him as.


DRC is shit hole with incredibly high murder rates, a terrible record on human rights and an incredibly low standard of living, yet every year more people die from diesel emissions in Europe, so yo know, net win for electric :-|

Perhaps DRC will get a sudden and helpful invasion by someone to help secure their energy future, or perhaps the sudden increase in demand for a reliable supply will spur all those well know deposits around the world, in first world countries to be developed.

If this is as good as it gets in casting shit on Tesla then you're at the bottom of the barrel.


Someplace up thread I asked what a Tesla Model S shell was made from. By asking an owner I was able to discover that it's an aluminium alloy unitary body. So how come they weigh over 2 tonnes kerb weight?


DRC is shit hole with incredibly high murder rates, a terrible record on human rights and an incredibly low standard of living, yet every year more people die from diesel emissions in Europe, so yo know, net win for electric
Cite needed, which will have to be detailed enough to explain how you know that the cause of death can only have come from exhaust emissions by a diesel engined road vehicle.

Reasons for this include:-
1) Heavy oil engines are also used in stationary generators such as back-up systems for hospitals and and data processing centres, in most marine ferries, fishing and cargo vessels, some utilities use them for electricity generation, diesel rail traction...
2) In a 1980s study in Germany, it was found that just over 50% of PC10s on the South German plain were produced from vehicle tyres and brakes and this was with high sulphur citanes. Desulphonated diesel will have reduced PC10s from diesel exhaust by 90% even before Euro_N emissions standards.


Me too. I'm still waiting for Blackwell's Oxford to get a copy — they'd rather stuff their shelves with Eddings, Eddison and Feist — but at least I can give thanks for living in a universe with a sane space-time metric.

On the other hand, rotation is not such a benefit even in our universe. I'm thinking of a comment in Sketching Without a Master that when drawing a tree, the branches that point left or right give the general outline, while those pointing toward and away affect how you draw the mass and tone of the foliage. Such a radical change just because of a bit of rotation? Life would be much simpler if everything looked the same from every point of view.


By the way, and returning to the theme of this thread, I suspect Dichronauts follows the Great Man or Heroic Physicist theory of history.


I agree. McCain may have a lots of flaws but he deserves some respect. And the far right /alt-right guys I know online dubbed him McLame. I answered back it was a "deplorable" joke...
odd that a former Italian Communist has to defend a GOP senator from his fellow countrymen, but common decency comes first.


So how come they weigh over 2 tonnes

Google knows all.


Elderly Cynic noted that "... the reason that [BMI] gets you wrong is NOT because the original measurements were, but because the formula is over-simplified, and overestimates BMI in taller people. It's a well-known issue."

Hadn't known that, but thanks for updating my mind map. The broader problem with BMI is that it doesn't account for essential variables such as (i) the difference in density between bone, muscle, and fat, (ii) the difference between men and women in the aforementioned properties, and (iii) variables that describe more important factors, such as muscle strength and endurance and aerobic fitness*. It's one of those shortcuts doctors use because it would take too long to calculate proximal variables in the typical time-constrained office visit.

* A female friend 8 inches shorter than me probably has twice my BMI because she's a national-class powerlifter who is pure muscle from head to toe, with a bone density that would shame a fossil. *G*


"The constant migration on a hyperboloidal world strongly evokes Christopher Priest's Inverted World."

YesYes! I remembered reading a book with such an alien space, but I forgot the title...the city moving on tracks or rails, the quest for the Optimum, the oddly shaped sun



The 2 ton Tesla S ...

If you take a Tesla S apart you will see that the body and cabin sit on top of a 30cm deep steel girder chassis. Everything between the front and rear wheels, across the entire width of the car, is packed with Lithium batteries to a depth of 30cm. That is the source of most of the mass.

The seats in the cabin look to be very light-weight - they look very similar to those on a Qantas A380 - so a leather / memory foam / carbon fibre shell.

If UK plc fixed the charging network the transition to EVs would be very fast (6 years?). I say this as someone who had to reject an EV (sniff) because it didn't have the range for one of my regular business journeys. A decent charging network would have meant a completely different answer.


Right. My BMI is 23, but I would be 'better off' if it were 20, because I am fairly lightly built. However, I am disinclined to lose that much insulation and padding :-)


The car is designed as a penis extension, and every component you 'upgrade' means that you have to upgrade others. An suburban runabout (which is what most people want, most of the time) need weigh nothing like that much.


So the tech is nowhere near as "there" as the EVangelists would have you believe.


I think you're making major assumptions that fans of Tesla as fanboys.

Solely extrapolating from myself I'm a fan simply because he's the currently the least worst option - as others noted he's currently making a fuckton of money out of the crash of the carbon economy and doing so with the best mass market EV on the market.

Frankly I have no time for hair shirts who want to take a potshot simply because they desire revolution not evolution when over the long term evolution delivers far more benefits and stability.

The minute someone actually brings out a better EV than a Tesla I'll be cheering them on, but since Tesla still seem to be 4-5 years ahead of everyone else I won't hold my breath. Most of the major motor manufacturers are failing the EV market abysmally right now which is why Musks willingness to think big and take risks should be applauded until someone better comes along.

I'm fully aware that Musk is likely a complete sociopath but nearly every CEO has to be, and whilst I'd be reluctant to work for him I'm betting he's probably no worse than the bunch I have worked for - I mean have you seen the current state of the FTSE/NYC CEO's never has amorality been so banal.

And frankly child labour in the DRC for colbalt is an irrelevance - virtually everyone who's owned a smartphone or tablet is equally culpable - accept it or come up with a salve for your conscience and move on.


Im really struggling to understand your point - what is it exactly?

Of course the EV market is in its infancy what - even counting the Prius it's only 20 years old - what else did you expect?


All modern cars are heavy. The BMW Mini is twice the weight of a classic, 1180-1250kg compared to 590-690kg. Not many typical saloons come in under 1500kg, no matter what their body shell is made from.


If you can get by with 100 mile range, which is fine for most city and suburban driving in the UK, we're already there with the Nissan Leaf (1.5 tons), the Renault Zoe (1.5 tons) and the BMW i3 (1.2 tons). A more difficult question is why these have not been more successful. (Anxiety over the occasional long journey ?)

Remember, the Tesla S was a clever project by Mr Z. to get rich folks in Silicon Valley to pay for the creation of mass market EV technology. It's virtue signalling at its best. Some major tech firms even install rows of charging points next to the buildings, and banish the 911s to a wall of shame at the back of the car park. Anyway, I thought many (most) of the Tesla upgrades are software.

Clearly our Bond Villan Mr Z. needs to take over Starbucks and then deploy coffee shops along all major roads providing a new option of "to charge" with the overpriced decaf skinny vanilla soy latte which gives "free" electricity and "free" wifi .


I'm answering #482 and #483.

I know more Tesla owners than just yourself, and most of them justify the term EVanglelists because they will try and convince you that the borderline unaffordable Model S is not just a future, but perfect, simply because it burns its fuel 100 miles away from the actual car!


Not sure how you got to your comment about BMI from my point about short people in the US in the 50s born in Europe prior to WWII.

People (in very general terms) born or raised from early life in the US through out the last century are much taller than many of those born in Europe in the same period. Especially those from east of the Rhine. Born/raised in the US during the dust bowl / 30s didn't seem to affect height nearly as much. (My families genetics didn't seem to include much about height as feeding us well during our first 20 didn't seem to do much. My peers were almost all taller than me.

And definitely not a scientific study but an observation of people from my travels around the country back in the 80s.


Of course the EV market is in its infancy what - even counting the Prius it's only 20 years old

According to Wikipedia, Alessandro Volta lived from 1745 to 1827, which makes the base technologies for the EV rather older than those for the IC engine.


An suburban runabout (which is what most people want, most of the time) need weigh nothing like that much.

In the US a suburban runabout needs to also be able to handle 55mph roads. And at that speed they need to survive a crash. I suspect the weight comes from getting acceptable crash ratings in government testing.

When in Paris a few months ago I saw what seemed to be a few single passenger "Smart" cars. I can see those around Paris where so much of the French population and economy is centered. I can't see them in much of the US.

My 2016 Civic comes in at 3000 pounds curb weight, (1360kg), and I swear I've driven lawn mowers with larger engines. (1.5L turbo)