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Me and “Love, Death and Robots”

Whatever (John Scalzi) - 1 hour 37 min ago
The Netflix animated-but-really-not-for-kids series Love, Death & Robots came out last Friday, and three of the eighteen episodes were based on short stories of mine: “When the Yogurt Took Over,” “Alternate Histories” and “Three Robots.” So naturally folks are wondering how I got involved with the series and how these particular stories were chosen, as […]

Just to Be Clear: The Entire Site is Not Passworded

Whatever (John Scalzi) - 3 hours 54 min ago
It was just the previous post. I put up some pictures that were meant to be seen only by a particular group of friends, and gave them a password to see them, that’s all. Also, the pictures were nothing salacious, just pictures. In any event you can access the rest of the site just fine. […]

Protected: Passworded Post, 3/17/19

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 23:38
There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

The JoCo Cruise Concerts: The Photos

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sun, 03/17/2019 - 23:26
Over the last week I was on the JoCo Cruise, and once again I took pictures of some of the concerts that happened on the boat. If you were also on the JoCo Cruise and want to relive the experience, or weren’t but just would like to see some pictures of the concerts, there are […]

Can Democratic Proposals Win Popular Support?

Contrary Brin - Sat, 03/16/2019 - 19:23
First, a literary note. A little late, I lift a glass (join me) to Janet Asimov, gifted healer and writer and fierce guardian of Isaac's legacy. Janet and Robin commissioned the Killer Bees (Bear, Benford & Brin) to write the Second Foundation Trilogy and I found her light but firm guidance invaluable in sorting through Isaac's loose plot threads. She kindly expressed happiness with that final result. A treasure, whose 91 years were filled with contributions to the species and the future.
== Another shooter who should be renamed ==
After every mass shooting folks ask again about my 1999 proposal on Salon to remove one of the killers' top incentives ... fame. Or infamy. In this case it was blatant. See my call for the "Erastratos Solution," seizing the perp's most-valued possession - his name - replacing it with "Doofus25" or "tinyprick17." There's no freedom of speech issue, since reference works and Wikipedia will still have footnotes. But any use of the original name in larger than 5pt type would be trademarked by a fund for victims. Let's try it; see if the scum howls! In comments below, offer and argue over your own proposed re-names for the New Zealand monsters. Let's vote. Then let's agree to spread the word.== Can the democrats pull together a plan? ==

While Kremlin trolls and homegrown idiots try to incite strife within the Democratic Coalition (the "Union" side in this phase of the American Civil War), others are sensibly pointing to reasons why disagreements between left and center should be put off for a while, at least till they run out of areas of vigorous agreement!

It's not that they lack ideas. Moreover, since  both progress and flat-fair-competitive markets do vastly better during Democratic administrations, it is hilarious to watch their opponents -- a party of Kremlin shills -- hurl accusations of "communism!" By every factually supported metric, citizens should be taking torches to the shambling, undead shell of the party of Lincoln. And  yet, for all their vastly-better record at honesty, sincerity and policy smarts, DP pols seem utterly lobotomized when it comes to the art of judo-polemic.

And their priorities suck.  Nothing will be accomplished till politics return to negotiation over facts.

For example, while moderate old curmudgeons like Diane Feinstein demand "how you gonna pay for your Green New Deal?" they miss the point. Such proposals -- e.g. Medicare-For-All, or  Free College -- might rise or fall based on their factual merits, if facts themselves regained their importance at the negotiating table. The Putinist-GOP has made it their central goal to make American politics be about incantations and cheating. We've seen that the monsters and traitors won't lose power till those tricks are defeated. 

Hence top priority should go to:

1 - measures that restore Americans' ability to perceive and compare facts.

2 - measures to eliminate electoral cheating, e.g. as pushed by Lawrence Lessig.

3 - measures to resume the fight against climate change. Yes, former WA Governor Jay Inslee has cleverly focused his campaign on this, but it is still putting the cart before the horse.

Liberals, think. Not a single thing you want will happen without those coming first. And if those come first, you will get a lot of what you want.

Here's why. Because most of the public wants reform! Yet such numbers make no difference on the current playing field: 

"About 75 percent of Americans favor higher taxes for the ultra-wealthy. The idea of a federal law that would guarantee paid maternity leave attracts 67 percent support. Eighty-three percent favor strong net neutrality rules for broadband, and more than 60 percent want stronger privacy laws. Seventy-one percent think we should be able to buy drugs imported from Canada, and 92 percent want Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. The list goes on."

Read that important article by Tim Wu in the NYT. But there's more he doesn't mention. Large majorities favor the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They favor allowing student debt to be refinanced, just like mortgages. They favor ending gerrymandering (and blue state voters have been doing that, already, as it is blues who have been ending the $%%$$! Drug War, you libertarians take note.) 

And if you remind voters of other things the Greatest Generation instituted, like ant-trust laws and vigorous federal R&D, they tend to want those to. Oh, and again, ending the damned Drug War.

Prioritize, dammit! Jay Inslee has made #3 the centerpiece of his campaign for the Democratic nomination. But I am hoping and praying that at some point, someone seeking to stand out from the pack will realize the power of #1 and #2... the pair that are absolutely needed, before anything else can get done.  If you want help crafting #2, talk to Lawrence Lessig and let's all get behind bill HR1...  which won't stand a chance till we tackle issue #1.

There are ways to do that. Some 2nd tier DP candidate should talk to me. 

== The opposition: “socialist” tax rates? ==
Dialing in, polls show that 59 percent of U.S. voters agree with the just-elected 29-year-old Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) proposal for a 70 percent marginal tax rate on whatever the richest earn above $10 million. 

(Hey, moguls, you won’t have to pay it, if you actually invest in R&D or productive capacity or high velocity industry, the things you claimed Supply Side cuts would get you to do. Just finally do what you said you would, and there's no 70% marginal rate for you. Just as the fairest tax - the Inheritance Tax - is the tax that no one with a soul actually has to pay.)
Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren is talking about a wealth tax

And I have been demanding that Democrats restore the iconic status of the “Greatest Generation” and their wisdom seeking a flat-fair-open-competitive market, under leadership of their favorite living human, Franklin Roosevelt.  (And to her credit, AOC has tepidly begun this process, referring to FDR obliquely with her "Green New Deal." See below.)
But are the proposals on the table sensible? How can any program of re-uplifting the working poor and middle class accomplish anything when world mafias launder trillions of wealth through secret international back channels? 

== The ultimate weapon against mafias, worldwide ==

It won't surprise you that my own top proposal -- for the plant, not just the U.S. -- emphasizes transparency ... universal clarity of ownership.
See: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-chief-threat-to-our-great.html Given the agility of money-movement, this would only work if an angry world citizenry demanded it as a worldwide treaty. (And in EARTH I portrayed a radicalized world citizenry demanding it.)

Essentially, it comes down to one sentence: "If you own something, say so." 
All right, a second sentence. All property that goes without claimants who are living humans or foundations must revert to public domain. 
Sure, there are complexities of proof and a myriad details. For one thing, it should be phased in, starting at the top, so poor farmers have time to get their paperwork in order, helped by reforms like Peru instituted so successfully, planned by Hernando de Soto Polar. (The perfect overlap of liberalism and sane libertarianism.) And yes, it will be a golden age for lawyers. So? The number of lawsuits will employ a quarter of the human population, solving AI driven unemployment! ;-)

Read about the implications, especially how it would immediately benefit you.
But the core point is this: none of the proposals on the table, like high marginal income tax rates or wealth taxes or universal income or capital, can possibly work without this. And then we get to the irony… that those measures will be largely unnecessary if we get transparency of ownership! Why? Because –
 -- there'd be so much abandoned property – dropped by cheaters like kleptocrats and drug lords and mafiosi -- that most government debt would likely be wiped out! Resulting in lower rates for honest taxpayers. No confiscatory wealth taxes needed.  
Find another proposal that promises that win-win. In essentially two sentences.
. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

Love, Death and Robots Now Streaming on Netflix

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:08
I’m still off on a cruise (which has been going swimmingly, thank you very much), but I would be remiss if I didn’t make you aware that Love, Death and Robots, David Fincher and Tim Miller’s brand-spanking-new animated series, is now up on Netflix for your streaming pleasure — and also, if you watch the […]

Peering ahead - human evolution. Living in a simulation? And some interesting sci fi.

Contrary Brin - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 17:59
With Facebook in a state of collapse (long predicted) I could use your help publicizing this here Contrary Brin blog!  Just look at the cool and interesting featured items, below!

== Human evolution ==
I take pride that this blogmunity - weblog community - is one of the oldest and most erudite on the Web. One of you wrote in comments: 

I'm not sure this qualifies for the Predictions Registry, but this article in today's Chicago Tribune addresses a subject that you weighed in on a while back. Humans have managed to separate sex from reproduction, and while this is most often thought of in the context of getting to have sex without worrying about the consequences, there are those going in the opposite direction as well--people who want children without the bother of romance. And as the second group passes on their genes while the first group does not, will "industrial reproduction" become more the norm over time?”
One of the flukes of human nature that might explain the Fermi Paradox is that we are polar opposites to the 'Moties,' in The Mote In God’s Eye. They are ultimate creatures of Malthus, doomed always to overpopulate as quickly as possible. We appear to have been saved – or at least have a chance – because human women are satiable, whenever they feel their children are truly safe and healthy, and seem to prefer having an average of about two. Yes, this happened in part because we can adaptably switch from High-R to High-K reproductive psychology, swiftly emphasizing care of high investment offspring, rather than pushing out numbers. But another factor is the separation of the thing nature evolved us to seek desperately – sex – from actual reproduction. Both of these drivers resulted in a species that appears capable of giving the finger to old Malthus.
For now. I’ve long said we have a narrow window… perhaps three generations… before those who zealously want to have lots of kids start filling our gene pool with that compulsive trait, replacing sex as the nexus of avidity and making us more Malthusian... more like Moties.  We can deal with this either by spreading to the stars, as a plague, or becoming super-High-K and far-seeing-wise.  Anything other than those two will lead to the Motie catastrophe, and Malthus getting the last laugh.

Noteworthy, today's worldwide attempted mafia-oligarch putsch would re-establish dumbass feudalism and knock out either of those survival possibilities.
== A simulation? ==
Talin offers a fascinating argument for why we are not living in a simulation – essentially that it would take at least 1000 atoms in a big computer to calculate the details of a single atom in the simulation. Well, well. There’s an answer or two. At the high end, you can try to explore the arcane calculations of computability contained within Frank Tipler’s brilliant book The Physics of Immortality, which asserts that our godlike descendants will have infinite (actually infinite) computational power available to them at the end of time, when the Big Crunch brings all the matter of the universe back together again. Okay, okay, it now appears that there will be no Big Crunch. Still, TPOI is essential reading for any truly deep discussion of computability of simulations. (And Roger Penrose appears to have offered at least a tentative way we might have a cyclical universe even under conditions of endless expansion.)
At the other end is the science fictional answer from The Universe Makers or The World of Tiersor several novels by Greg Egan, or the movie The 13th Floor… that the simulation is only high fidelity near the “protagonist” and just probabilistic farther away or where he/she (actually, you) aren’t looking. Which does sound eerily like Quantum Observer stuff.
Still, this is a pretty good counter argument to the standard “we have to be in a simulation!” nostrum.  Have fun.

== Some recent novels! ==
For bold galaxy-spanning science fiction, try Alex White, whose titles are terrific! “A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe,” has been followed by “A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy.” But then there’s Mira Grant’s “Kingdom of Needle and Bone.”  Oooooh.
Mary Branscombe’s way-fun new novel is “The Vampires of Silicon Valley.” The hook? You're a thousand-year-old vampire who has to save the world just to have somewhere to live, but you happen to look like a teenage girl. What else can you do except go to silicon valley and take a bite at VC funding?
J. Neil Schulman is a very different kind of libertarian (quasi-Randian) than my liberal-Smithian variety. I poke hard at the naïveté of believing civil servants are more of a threat to liberty than the feudal lords who oppressed 99% of our ancestors and who are right now striving to bring a return to dismal-horrid mafia-oligarch rule. The branch of libertarianism that worships property and government-hatred over competition, which only thrives when regulated to prevent cheating, is kinda jibbering loony.

Still, Neil can write. And while his new novel — The Fractal Man — has some tendentious and self-indulgent qualities, it does offer up some finely-meshed fun with parallel and alternate worlds, kind of like Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice.
Not related is Matt Ginsberg’s recent novel The Factor Man, about a fellow who develops an algorithm that can factor any multiple of prime numbers, and hence break most of the world’s encryption. A bit light on the implications of such a discovery, it is still a compelling thriller, well-written and thought-provoking.
Sundiver is still available on Audible. We'll be releasing a new e-version soon.
Okay, everybody’s a sucker for top ten lists.  I’ve got plenty.  Here’s this one approach to “30 best sci-fi films that explore the fluidity of time.”
Another 2018 Best SF Novels list. Some amazing stuff - with new titles from Mary Robinette Kowal, Cixin Liu, Becky Chambers, the terrific Emily Devenport (Medusa Uploaded) and much more!
And an anthology of 17 short stories by Israeli science fiction authors has been gathered in a new collection titled “Zion’s Fiction” along with an introduction by Robert Silverberg.  Or Zi-Fi.  
An interesting premise for the eco-driven but scientifically grounded (and western-like) Melt Trilogy by K. E. Lanning “After catastrophic global warming melts the ice caps, humans desperate for land colonize a de-iced Antarctica.


== The “Self-Published” World Contains some (Rough) Gems!
Amid interesting transitions in art, you have the world of self-published fiction (SPF).
My colleague in the SETI/METI community – retired senior U.S. diplomat Michael Michaud – has published a short novel, EASTERN WIND, about discovery of an ancient shipwreck suggesting early contact between Asia and North America. “Behind this story lie the growing power of China, climate change and a rising world ocean, and the political assault on science.If you have inflexible standards about the nuts and gears of polished fiction writing, then you deny yourself the world of self-published stories that sometimes offer compensation with romance and big ideas.
Gary Dejean, PhD has an SPF all about our transformation into cyborgs and possibly a “plussed” version of humanity, in H+ INCORPORATED. An orphaned child getting slowly used to his full-body prosthetic befriends a young journalist who herself hopes to one day be fitted with similar implants. Meanwhile, a secretive military contractor tests combat exoskeletons for a corrupt government. Hard-science anticipation with a strong dose of cyberpunk.”

== For the Predictions Registry ==
For two decades some fans have kept a Wiki tracking my predictions, especially from EARTH. Already listed is my 1989 forseeing of a worldwide wave of Chinese tourism, illustrated in several scenes set in New Zealand. Well, what could be more specific than this news item:
“The boom is only expected to continue. In February, New Zealand will introduce a yearlong Chinese tourism initiative; China is the country’s second-largest source of tourists after Australia, and the fastest growing… But Mr. Milne, the tourism professor, said not enough had been done to prepare New Zealand communities for an expected doubling in the number of Chinese visitors. He added that New Zealand had a history of overlooking local residents’ concerns as it sought to aggressively increase tourism.”

== Finding Solutions ==
It’s important to reinforce that most modernists are not dogmatists and are capable of diversity of opinion and even changing our minds when strong evidence demands it. One example is nuclear power. Yes it is problematic! So. Give every Nevadan who voted a $500 rebate and open the damn Yucca Mountain repository, already, to get the waste away from our cities! And research better designs that would ease the huge costs of regulatory management for safety.  

Still, a swathe of “liberal” leaders, like Stewart Brand – the world’s top “techno-hippie” – have long said we need to look again at nuclear’s carbon free benefits. James Lovelock, founder of the Gaia Hypothesis, if 100% correct: nuclear power is the only green solution.
As Daniel Duffy puts it: “Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media. (And pushed hard by propaganda subsidized by oil and coal interests.) These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources. We must stop fretting over the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals or radiation. Nearly one third of us will die of cancer anyway, mainly because we breathe air laden with that all pervasive carcinogen, oxygen. If we fail to concentrate our minds on the real danger, which is global warming, we may die even sooner, as did more than 20,000 unfortunates from overheating in Europe last summer.”

I don't go that far. But I have the advantage of having seen some of the new designs that cannot melt down and that offer a nightmare scenario primarily to carbon lords, coal kings, petro-sheiks and their ringleader in the Kremlin



. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

Looking ahead... Science news, predictions and more... including lasers!

Contrary Brin - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 14:32
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NBC News has web-featured "19 bold predictions for science and technology in 2019": Here's what thought leaders in innovation expect to see in the coming year." Nearly all the sages and experts made interesting but short-term forecasts about their own fields... with one or two exceptions. I took a risk... but then, I can afford to.

Possibly the most important thing I wrote or said in 2018 is this interview for Thomson-Reuters on the topic of Artificial Intelligence. Expertly edited by Paul Thies, it manages to convey – in a very brief space -- some important concepts currently ignored by AI researchers, societies and citizens.
In the science-related political news: As we celebrate amazing discoveries… and NASA recovers from the shut-down… there’s this. The U.S. Senate confirmed extreme-weather specialist Kelvin Droegemeier as President Donald Trump's top science and technology adviser, after a two year vacancy, the longest ever. His office (OSTP) has plummeted to just 35 staffers. What’s unclear is what it all means. He’s a meteorologist and expert on weather disruptions and not a denialist cultist. So what gives? Did someone apply leverage? 

Maybe a younger/smarter Koch who doesn't want to be rich in a world that is driven into radical revolution?
Here's an interesting survey-essay by Nobelist Charles Townes.  His 1997 perspectives on the big issues -- where the universe (and we) came from and where life (and we) may be going -- make for fascinating reading, especially from twenty years later. Among the things that have changed since then -- from pocket supercomputers to AIDS semi-cures to genomics and the stunning plummet in electorate-IQ -- few discoveries change the essence. But one of the biggest is our picture of the origin of life on Earth. Back then, Townes thought that up to a billion years passed between the Earth's formation and the first known evidence of living systems. We now know that life appears in the fossil record (or at least probable signs of it) within only a couple of hundred million years after the planet was molten and probably earlier. This puts a much higher supposition that life will emerge almost automatically, as soon as conditions are right. This, in turn, has huge implications for our mental image of Life in The Universe and questions like the Fermi Paradox. 

But overall a fascinating read. We need big perspectives, from time to time. (Some of us try to provide ;-)
== Intelligence Wonders ==
This Clever AI Hid Data From Its Creators To Cheat At Its Appointed Task.  Using tricks akin to steganography, a Machine Learning program embedded into images subtle color cues that it could later use to cheat at an image processing task.  ‘In fact, the computer is so good at slipping these details into the street maps that it had learned to encode any aerial map into any street map. It doesn’t even have to pay attention to the “real” street map’ — all the data needed for reconstructing the aerial photo can be superimposed harmlessly on a completely different street map.  “A machine learning agent might even find ways to transmit information to itself, imperceptible to the human eye, in the interest of solving a problem more easily and efficiently. This doesn’t mean AIs are outmaneuvering us per se, but rather that AI scientists need robust measures to validate AI output at each stage of a program's process. Only then can we ensure that neural networks solve problems in the ways we intend them to do so.”
And now- Deep Squeak - computer visualization-learning systems  are being used to “translate” high-pitch vocalizations of lab mice. Perhaps helping ask the ultimate question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.
Researchers at the MIT-IBM Watson Lab are using General Adversarial Networks, or GANs, to help explain how artificial intelligence systems “think.” GANs are a form of AI that pits two neural networks against each other to achieve a larger goal, such as creating new pictures of dogs, human faces or swapping heads in photos. And this approach to using adversarial sub-intelligences to make the macros intelligence smarter is exactly what I talk about in “Disputation Arenas,” and in my novel EARTH.
== Defense… zappers? ==
We’ve entered the era of hypersonic missiles – Putin claims to have them and the U.S. almost certainly does. Is this the end of “strategic defense”? Well, there is a twist to SDI that no one mentions, except it hearkens back to 1967. But I won’t go there. Not here. Suffice it to say that I do not deem that money to be totally wasted. Still…
Some of you may want to get up to date on lasers and beams and such. They have been “the future” for so long that – for many of you – they may have faded into the background. Correct that with "Lasers,Death Rays, and the Long, Strange Quest for the Ultimate Weapon," by my old Caltech classmate Jeff Hecht.  You'll get up to date on what's NOT top secret... and that will help you have perspective about what's still under wraps. (I suspect - and there had better be - a lot.)
== Solar Wonders ==
First see this wonderful innovation.  Refugee tents that can collect rainwater & store solar power
As Russ Daggatt aptly put it: "China's development of its solar industry - both panels and power - may be "unfair" and violate free market fundamentalism. But it's the right thing to do for China - and the global environment. I wish our government was acting with comparable vigor. (Instead, we're promoting coal.)" The one swallowing a "hoax" is a puppet employed in the White House. The puppeteer is perfectly happy with melting tundra and an ice-free arctic.
Fascinating counterpoints! Says Venture pundit Mark Anderson: "China got its monopoly by dumping and thereby destroying the global leaders in the U.S. and Germany."  

To which Asia expert Scott Foster replied: "When I was sustainability analyst at BNP Paribas, our Chinese economist put it to me this way: 'It takes a lot of energy to make solar panels, which only reach energy break-even after one or two years of operation. In China, most of that energy comes from coal, which pollutes the air, which in turn makes solar panels less efficient. China produces more and more solar panels, driving down prices and profit margins. It floods the world market, of course, but you Americans get very cheap solar panels and make higher margins installing them. America gets cheap clean energy and clean service jobs. China gets low paid manual labor and pollution. And you Americans are complaining about it.'
Interesting way of viewing it. Donald Trump thinks solar panel imports should be taxed and solar subsidies cut so that this dynamic can be reversed. What a deal.
Wow, complicated. The crux? Yay, panel prices plummet! Boo to unfair trade practices and IP theft, Solution, let's make an allowance "for development" and then play fair.
Speaking of solar… a new hydrocarbon can absorb sunlight energy and store it for years,then release it as heat when flowed past a catalyst. Possibly storing summer heat for winter.


. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

View From a Cruise Balcony, Oosterdam, 3/9/19

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sat, 03/09/2019 - 16:59
Bye! See you all in a week!

Smudge Blesses the Travel Shirts

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 19:42
“Oh, you’re going away? Here, let me make sure you have enough cat hair for the duration.” Such a giving kitten, Smudge is. In other news, I’m off for another JoCo Cruise, so don’t expect to see too much here in the next week or so, since I don’t anticipate having a whole lot of […]

Oligarchy and aristocracy and power

Contrary Brin - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 19:02
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Much discussion is erupting across the West about a rising demand to do something about wealth disparities and skyrocketing debt. At Davos (we are told) it's all they talked about, including “the likelihood that a 70 percent (high end marginal) tax rate becomes policy." Ray Dalio, one of the wealthiest investors in the world, also sees such ideas gaining serious traction. Mohamed El-Erian, the long-time oracle of bond markets, writes in The World Post this week that what is most required to avoid a “synchronized” global slowdown “is a broad-based effort to bolster growth and address deep resentment about the inequality of income, wealth and, most importantly, opportunity.”

Essentially, we are seeing a split among billionaires over IQ and long range self-interest. Those who are smart enough to read up on past revolutions -- like Gates, Bezos and Buffett -- are saying "raise my taxes!"  

Evonomics has once again featured my assessment of Why Adam Smith and even Friedrich Hayek would be democrats today, given the almost 100% record of better outcomes for markets and competitive enterprise, versus the monopolistic and oligarchy-serving policies of the Republican Party.  Even conservatives now admit that conservatism has changed.  Take the Ronald Reagan who Republican activists idolize in abstract; in real life he raised taxes, increased regulations, signed environmental laws, and (worst of all) negotiated countless compromise give-and-take, pragmatic measures in tandem with a Congress run by the other party. As did Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley, giants who argued with genteel courtesy and who revered both knowledge and intellect, especially science.  Even the most fervid Tea Party aficionado would avow that today’s GOP has little room for such thingsas Goldwater and Buckley themselves proclaimed, to their dismay, before they died.”

(See a more recent appraisal of the economist Hayek - who made major contributions - vs. the polemical Hayek whose "Road to Serfdom" has proved diametrically opposite to correct in every prediction, down to the last detail.)

Highly correlated: “They Don’t Just Hide Their Money. Economist Says Most of Billionaire Wealth is Unearned: The concentration of wealth from rent-seeking.” by Didier Jacobs in Evonomics. 

And this clear revelation that concentrated wealth and inequality crush economic growth... as Adam Smith and anyone in the Greatest Generation would have told you.

== What do skyrocketing trade and budget deficits mean? ==

Ol' Two Scoops brags about the "economy," but which parts? Look at economic trends -- deficits and GDP and trade -- and ask: which items would have been affected by major GOP /Trump actions? Also, which saw no affecting GOP/T actions, and therefore likely just continued Obama era trends? Um, look at the trend lines and tell me who deserves the credit?




Elsewhere I show charts revealing that the second derivative of federal deficit is always negative across democratic administrations and positive across GOP ones. Less obscurely stated: anyone calling for 'fiscal responsibility" who remains a Republican is an utter-fool hypocrite.

The only actual, actual major effective actions by the GOP/T since inauguration were (1) mammoth tax cuts for the rich and corporations, under standard voodoo (never-ever right) supply side predictions of lower deficits, (2) a chaotic, roller-coaster, uncontrolled trade war, (3) demolition of our alliances and a war against fact-using professions. None of these have directly (yet) affected US core domestic economic/commercial activity and thus all of the curves regarding unemployment etc. are simply carrying on momentum of the fantastic 2009-present recovery from the Bush super-recession.

What those listed GOP actions have directly affected are both budget and trade deficits, which have skyrocketed. And wealth disparity.

Confederate Syndrome: getting “anti-elite” prols to fight for aristocracy

We’re all raised on Suspicion of Authority (SoA) - which is  a healthy message delivered in every Hollywood film. Alas, we're also taught to murmur “I invented it! My elites can be trusted, but not the elites who my elites tell me to hate! I'll aim my SoA only at them!” The central mission of Fox News and Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer and all of that crowd has been to rile up a lumpenproletariat into raging against cities and professionals and universities and science and especially the very concept of government, all of which stand in the way of the real elites re-establishing feudalism. This is precisely the playbook used by
plantation-lords who got a million poor white southerners to fight and die for them, in the 1860s phase of our civil war. This article shows the how and why of the oligarchy’s all-out funding of anti-modernist propaganda:
“When Steve Bannon - now fomenting populist revolution across Europe -called for “deconstruction of the administrative state”, he specifically targeted the systems of taxation, financial oversight, and public accountability that constrain the ultra-wealthy. The American hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, whose $60m offshore “war chest” bankrolled both Brexit and the Trump campaign, only began donating to political causes after the US Internal Revenue Service fined his firm $6.8bn for tax evasion. Arron Banks, the UK businessman with substantial offshore holdings, may have had a similar motivation: he became the largest financial backer of Brexit’s Leave.EU campaign following the imposition of costly international regulatory requirements on his insurance companies…. Populist ultra-nationalism is a project bought and paid for by global elites and their tax haven wealth.”
“Through the Paradise Papers we also learned that Donald Trump, who campaigned against the “corrupt globalism” of Hillary Clinton and proudly proclaims himself a “nationalist”, had surrounded himself with cabinet members whose vast fortunes are stashed in tax havens around the world. Some of these tax haven schemes link them to foreign adversaries of the United States.” writes Brooke Harrington in The Guardian

Not mentioned? The number of GOP officials and donors who have been buying up bolt-hole ranchita hideaways in Patagonia, New Zealand and so-called "seasteads." (Interesting: while Peter Thiel was enraged by this analysis of Seasteading I published, he went ahead (apparently) and followed every piece of my advice! The new plans - which I pre-illustrated in EXISTENCE - have a better chance of working... assuming the world goes to hell as much as these guys want.)
== WODI Time ==

WODI = "What if Obama Did It?" Like what if Clinton or Obama tried to force security clearances for unqualified and compromised relatives? Or coerced foreigners to buy up whole floors of hotel rooms as blatant emolument bribes? Or reported for debriefings with communist or "ex" communist dictators many times without any US professionals present? Of course the list of hypocrisies is endless. But you may not know this one:

The Senate Leadership Fund (super PAC run by McConnell's former Chief of Staff) got $3.5m from Russian oligarch Blavatnik. "Possible conflict of interest"?? Good grief, the GOP is taking bribes from foreign agents in plain bloody sight.

Speaking of which, had any Clinton or Obama official been 1% so blatantly compromised as Steve Mnuchin - lifting sanctions on his Russian oligarch pals - there would have been riots. … yet they howl outrage over Kyrsten Sinema’s thigh-high boots. See other examples of distraction outrage. Hilarious!
Even more uproarious is this visual meme, which implies that the 'socialist-sounding' quotation came from the right's bête noirs Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, when in fact...
...the author was Adam Smith, in Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter I, Part II On the Expence of Justice. 
Um... gotcha.

== Your hopeless “decent” neighbors ==
There are so many moral turpitudes of today's gone-insane, treasonous right. (And most of you know I used to skewer lefty zealots too, till we needed to unite against a death cult.) But of all the go-to-hell travesties, nothing beats the maniacal Alex Jones hatred of the Parkland kids.

But set aside the mad, confederate uncles, racists and Kremlin-loving boors. They aren’t important, compared with one group that could save us all, if ostriches pulled their head out of a holed-of-denial. All of us know some RASRs (Residually Adult-Sane Republicans) – decent folks who know their party and movement have gone stark-jibbering insane, but who keep chanting “I must keep supporting this horror show, because…. Democrats!”
I know some of these guys, who must have giant shoulders by now, from hourly shrugging off the latest Fox/GOP/KGB monstrosity with "that's terrible and sure the entire leadership caste of the Republican Party is a pack of lying traitors but… but… but… here’s an anecdote about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez!."
Which brings up… “What Does Tucker Carlson Know That the Republican Party Doesn’t?" His populist "attacks on the priorities of the “ruling class” have set off a maelstrom.” Carlson’s recent rant against out of control capitalism has a lot of folks all over the spectrum scratching their heads.
Me? I think the explanation is simple. Positioning. He wants to have cred as an “independent” voice - when Trumpism collapses. More and more center-right Americans are clinging to one straw: “I know my side and my party have gone insane-evil-treasonous. But… but liberal socialists are as bad!” Carlson is only stating this aloud, with the net effect that “I can trust Tucker, when he says to vote GOP just one more time.”
Take the stunning, despot-serving moral turpitude of Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Lee Atwater (at that sameswamp-lobbying firm!) and all their clients, including Trump and other casino lords and Mafia dons. See below for details. But RASRs shrug that off.
Likewise the sexual perversion of so many of these guys. (Stone famously "sold" his wife several times to other men, on the sex-swinger scene.) It's a trend: from Larry Craig and Roy Moore and Dennis 'friend to boys' Hastert on down the line, to the normalization of high rates of gambling, drugs, pimpery, all the way to a divorce rate double that of Democrats. Family values. Huh.
Shrug. No, all that matters is "judges and tax cuts." Two Good(?) Fruits from a tree that’s proved 99.99% poisonous. RASRS will continue to hold their noses - ignoring the war on science and the Putin putsch, the destruction of our alliances and the ongoing assassination of our entire planet - saying it’s worthwhile, just to get those two things... 
...even though it's now proved that every single Supply Side largesse to the aristocracy had diametrically opposite-to-promised effects, pumping passive-parasitic rentier asset bubbles while dragging money velocity down to almost-zero while spurring NO added R&D or industrial investment... as Adam Smith would've warned you. As the Greatest Generation would have told you.
Any patriot would deem the Putin stuff alone – relentlessly-proved outright and open-glaring treason -- sufficient to get down into the streets with pitchforks and torches, chasing Rupert Murdoch and his shills out of the country. But not our poor RASRS, who clutch Fox sobbing, begging to suckle the latest rationalization incantation. “Tucker! Hannity! Rescue me with another anecdote about lefties!”
Careful guys. Even today’s TVs emit some radiation. Also, your desperate tears will soak into the LCD screen and give you a shock.

. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

The Big Idea: Mallory O’Meara

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 03/05/2019 - 10:37
As a film producer, Mallory O’Meara knows that the amazing designs you see in movies don’t magically appear out of the thin air — they’re the work of dedicated creators and craftspeople. So when O’Meara set out to learn more about the mind behind the Creature from the Black Lagoon, she discovered a story that […]

View From a Hotel Balcony, 3/4/19: New York City

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 03/04/2019 - 16:16
My hotel put me on the top floor, and my room has a balcony. The view is pretty nice. I’m in town for the Audie Awards, for which Head On is nominated in the science fiction category. We’ll see how it does. But no matter what, I get this view, which I can be happy […]

Wonders from biology and predictive songs!

Contrary Brin - Sat, 03/02/2019 - 18:01
Amid a worldwide  war being waged against every fact-profession, we must do more than fight back politically. We must keep up our morale as a vigorous and confident scientific civilization. And so, here's your weekend dose of amazing news.

== Bio wonders ==
Rats with paralyzing spinal cord injuries were able to walk again after receiving 3D printed implants loaded with stem cells. The cells grew and reconnected the severed portion of the rats' spinal column, giving them control of their rear legs. And yes, this appears to be happening. Your tax dollars, going to miracles.
It'll take a while to help humans. Meanwhile, though, some pretty cool synergy from Japan, where a startup that develops robotics for physically disabled individuals has hired 10 employees suffering from spinal cord injuries who, working from bed, can now operate 4-foot interactive OriHime-D robots with eye-tracking software, enabling them to engage directly with customers and earn a 1,000-yen hourly wage. Not mentioned – the AI software will learn from these interactions and grow better at duplicating what the human controllers do. Still “With approximately 2.7 million physically impaired patients in domestic care, as well as an aging population, Japan has now seen a host of technological solutions for its handicapped citizens." Globally, this impact could reach approximately 15 percent of the world population. (From the Abundance newsletter.)
More brains! “Teenager belts out song during brain surgery to preserve her ability to sing.” 
== We're players.... ==

More evidence that an ant colony operates a lot like a brain. The colony at large can make group decisions and have memories. Of course Kevin Kelly talked about this in Out of Control.
An amazing experiment inserted genes that allow plants to get rid of a toxin far easier and thus free up energy in "C4" photosynthesis for growth. Preliminary signs are amazing. Though always in such cases I wonder – “why was this low-hanging fruit? Why didn’t nature stumble into this herself, across 2 billion years?”  True, there are some paths that are hard to “stumble-into.” Some of those may lead to greater human longevity. But the low-hanging fruit questions always make me wary.
You’ve all heard of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, right? Games that explore the theory and pragmatic practice of “trust” have come a long way, thanks to computers.  This fascinating tutorial / interactive cartoon illustrates the problem. We need to understand this because it goes to the heart of why we built a society where some trust is possible. And why cheaters want to wreck it.
Researchers performing an amazingly broad analysis of gene activity within the brains of frogs, rodents, fish, and birds found certain sets of genes were more likely to be “turned up” or “turned down” in monogamous creatures than in the non-monogamous species.
Peter Limbergand Conor Barnes attempt to map the various memic wars taking place simultaneously in our riven society, in an interesting online article: “Memetic Tribes and Culture War 2.0.” They perceive us engaged simultaneously in six crises: 
·       The meaning crisis weakened our collective understanding of what ought to be.·       The reality crisis fractured our collective understanding of what is.·       The belonging crisis took away a genuine feeling of community.·       The proximity crisis removed distance from conflicting views.·       The sobriety crisis reduced our agency and turned us into addicts.·       The warfare crisis transformed our minds into weapons for hidden wars in plain sight.
While I understand the memetic divides that they lay down, I perceive the landscape a bit differently. The biggest dichotomy, in my opinion, involves the positive sum game.  While humans grasp the concept of cooperation toward shared goals, the positive sum concept is a difficult one, since almost no human societies practiced it.  Nearly all were zero-sum, and despite generations of pro-positive propaganda (especially via Hollywood) the concept is difficult even for millions of Americans. Indeed, if you grasp positive sum, it almost compels your position along most of the Limberg-Barnes spectra.
== End times? ==
The last time the Earth’s magnetic poles flipped (reversed)  was 781,000 years ago, but it's believed to have occurred every 20,000-30,000 years over the last 20 million years, so are we a quarter of a million years “overdue”?  That was roughly when Homo sapiens was emerging as a distinct species. And it makes you think, on several levels, especially now as the mag-field is undergoing unusual fluctuations, with the till now dominant part of the North pole – the Candian part – weakening rapidly in favor of the portion that emerges in Siberia. 
Another semi-random thought about end times? You all know the song “It's theEnd of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” Way fun... but I mean I mean jeez, most of the pop and political figures run-off in the lyrics are completely obscure now! Either R.E.M. or their heirs should do a new version every decade or they should license it! Seriously, it's a public trust and... why the heck not?

(And Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" - again, should be updated at least every 20 years.) And yes, I’m “just sayin.”
While we’re at it, is “Feel it still” by Portugal the Man by or about a guy my age? One who can still kick it?  Just askin’…
== Powers of sight ==
Known to some as “Brin’s Corollary to Moore’s Law,” the cameras get smaller, faster, better, cheaper, more mobile and vastly more numerous each year… and it is up to us whether this results in Big Brother forever… or never.  Now the next stage in miniaturization of lenses. Researchers at MIT have developed a process to shrink objects down to nanoscale size. Materials are placed in a gel in the desired configuration, and the gel is then exposed to acid, shrinking down to (up to?) a tenth the initial size. 

"The MIT team is now exploring potential applications for this technology, and they anticipate that some of the earliest applications might be in optics -- for example, making specialized lenses that could be used to study the fundamental properties of light. This technique might also allow for the fabrication of smaller, better lenses for applications such as cell phone cameras, microscopes, or endoscopes, the researchers say. Farther in the future, the researchers say that this approach could be used to build nanoscale electronics or robots." reports Science Daily. (Thanks blogmunity member Andy.)
Of course the Asimov novel and the flick FantasticVoyage come to mind. With James Cameron talking about a vivid new-CGI remake. This is one that should be utterly remade, every 20 years! 
Of course, over a longer term, what we need is better local and distributed energy storage, so that sustainables like daytime solar or wind can provide what we need anywhere and around the clock. Alphabet’s moonshot factory X has spun out “Malta”; the  pumped thermal energy storage system uses vats of molten salt and a liquid that acts like antifreeze to make  renewable generation more productive while dramatically improving power grid stability and resilience.
== And finally... ==

It’s called sequential excitation of polymerization and I worked on this concept – for both 3D TV and 3D printing – in 1980… and got distracted by other things, so no credit and no brag! Except to say it’s about time! 

“Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a new 3D printing method that can produce complex shapes at up to 100 times the speed of traditional 3D printers. In conventional stereolithography, 2D images are projected onto liquid resin that hardens when exposed to light, but the stacking of these solid layers is far too slow a process for commercial-scale print runs. By using two different wavelengths of light, however, this printing method can now selectively harden specific parts of the printed resin while keeping resin near the projection window liquid. This allows for continuous printing (no incremental layering involved!) and massive speed improvements.”
Rick Arthur, one of GE’s senior directors for R&D, has written extensively about technological change and resilience.  Here he talks about testimony in D.C. about “the future of work.” 
A compound derived from a strain of bacteria that lives inside a common parasitic worm is three times more potent than DEET in repelling mosquitoes. An interesting evolution story and a hopeful discovery.  
And to finish up... something transfixing. Another rotating ice disk. Seen 'em before, but literally and figuratively cool.

Got a science morale boost?  Great. Share these with a friend... and remind her/him that all of this will shut down if the feudalists regain power.. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

New Books and ARCS, 3/1/19

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 17:47
Hey! It’s March! And to start off this month, here’s a super-sized stack of new books and ARCs to peruse. As always, if there’s something here you’re interested in, tell us about it in the comments. And welcome to the third month!

The Limits of My Knowledge, Professionally (and Otherwise)

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 22:20
Someone asked me about “imposter syndrome” today on Twitter, so I linked over to the piece I wrote about it a couple of years back. Not surprisingly, this being Twitter, some folks had criticisms of the piece; one of the most cogent came from Lindsay Ellis, who essayed it in a multitweet thread which begins […]

A Weight Loss Strategy I Can’t In Good Conscience Recommend

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 10:20
It’s called food poisoning! And if you look at the weight chart above, covering this week (I have one of those scales that records my weight every time I step on it), you can probably guess when I had it. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t pleasant. Fortunately it seems to have run its […]

Stone Cold America-Killers

Contrary Brin - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 16:46
As former "great guy" and trusted factotum Michael Cohen testifies in Congress, the right's media calls him a "convicted liar," and we keep waiting for other media to point out the obvious. Alas, it's important to remember that Democratic politicians are absolutely dismal at the art of polemic. They will yatter about grownup things like violations of trust and the law, when we desperately need to peel off just another ten million residually-sane conservative Americans from the collapsing confederate coalition. This will take much-simpler cudgels, like: 

"How many 'great guys' must later 'betray' Donald Trump, before you'll admit that he's a lousy judge of character?" 

Here's another: 

"How many times must Donald Trump hold secret debriefing sessions with communist despots - or conveniently "ex" communist dictators - without any reputable U.S. officials present, before you'll admit something fishy is going on?"

Or:

"Here are 100 Fox/GOP/Trump lies. We offer a million dollars in wagers on any or all of them. And if you refuse to bet, it confirms that you are gutless liars." 

Oh, I've got a million of 'em, ready to supply to any demo-pol who can imagine using judo, for a change. For example, consider a rock-hard truth about traitors.


== Stone Cold America-Killers ==
Gary Trudeau warned us for 30 years about Roger Stone, the real life "Uncle Duke*." With partners Paul Manafort and Charlie Black, he lobbied for the world’s most despotic dictators and the “Torturer’s Lobby” e.g. Mobutu of Zaire, Marcos of the Philippines, and Putin's puppet Yanukovich of Ukraine. Also casino lords and mafia dons. 

Donald Trump was one of Black, Manafort & Stone’s first clients. "Lee Atwater, known for his racist "Southern strategy" politics and Willie Horton fear-mongering, was a partner. It was Stone’s idea for Trump to revive Obama "birtherism" (And you must taunt your mad uncle "Where's the "amazing proof from Kenya" Trump promised, years ago?")
Is this the most spectacularly and proudly evil-stinking part of the "swamp" that imbeciles chanted for the GOP to drain? Or is it the K Street lobbying firms that now write nearly all legislation offered by Republican members of Congress?
Portrayed by Fox as a poor-terrorized 66 yr old geezer, Stone posts beefcake brag-pics of his pecs - (I am older, buffer and braggier, but demonstrably not as evil) - and a tat of Richard Nixon between his shoulder blades. (Mine-own ink is one of those magic eye illusions, the one turning Albert Einstein into Marilyn Monroe… but you really have to squint.)
== The Putin Rationalizations ==
Down in my blog's comment community there’s been an argument that includes contributions from a smart Ukrainian fellow, about whether we should pay close heed to the words of self-justification uttered by the leader of today’s worldwide mafia-oligarch putsch. Our friend from Kiev complains about Russian media that calls his country utterly controlled by Nazis and fascists. Sure, it's nasty stuff. But we need to separate two things: propaganda and the leadership's own rationalizations. Sometimes they overlap. Still, Vladimir Putin has been remarkably open and clear about his rationalizations.

Putin and his clade were raised on contempt for all western concepts of accountability, rule of law, democracy or self-determination. Hence he does not perceive the deposing of Yanukovich in any of those terms. As a Russian, he leans toward paranoia. As a lenin-raised KGB agent, he can see things in no other way. Hence he ascribes the Ukrainian democracy movement entirely to agitprop activity by Western NGOs, not to the Ukrainian people making a sovereign and intelligent choice.

Those western NGOs were - of course - agencies of a conspiratorial war waged against Russian interests by Western powers, especially Clinton and Obama and Clinton, against whom he personally and openly swore revenge. He claims we were the first to us "deniability warfare", via those NGOs. Whereupon his deniable aggressions in Georgia, Crimea and the Donbas -- and Brexit and helping Donald Trump -- are all justified retaliation.

It is very important to read Putin's rationalizations and understand them. It seems he is being quite open and is sincerely angry. Crazy-batshit evil? Yes, and if his oligarchic-mafia cabal wins, then humanity may go extinct. We will certainly lose the stars.

Which means understanding him is even more important than ever.
== A governor at last... and focused on a topmost issue ==

At last, a democratic politician is stepping up to make Climate Change a core issue. Washington governor Jay Inslee believes his focus on the environment will resonate with voters. And yes, I agree that the climate should be near the top... right under the restoration of FACT as an element in modern life and politics. 

But my biggest reason for joy at Inslee's announcement is simple. Senators aren't ideal candidates. Not by historical statistics. Even the generally admirable and wise Sen. Barack Obama lacked experience as an administrator that sapped his ability to get things done, during his narrow, 2-year window of opportunity. A governor or ex-VP gets points, in my estimation.
Dig it, the clever thing would be Biden-Warren, with old Joe making it clear she'd be co-president for one term - while she learned administrative ropes - then his successor for two. Admit it, the combo could both win and deliver.
== Political Miscellany ==
What a great idea! Sandusky,Ohio, Makes Election Day A Paid Holiday — By Swapping Out Columbus Day.  It solves two problems in one fell swoop. Make this a movement! And on odd numbered years it can alternate with Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Since early 2016 the IRS has quietly repeated  that federal privacy rules prohibit the agency from discussing individual tax matters, but “nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.”
“The IRS stresses that audits of tax returns are based on the information contained on the taxpayer’s return and the underlying tax law — nothing else,” the agency said. “Politics and religion do not factor into this. The audit process is handled by career, non-partisan civil servants, and we have processes in place to safeguard the exam process.” - according to USA Today
Still I ask: Can the IRS verify THAT such an audit is underway? 
(1) it should be easy, since the subject (DT) has said so publicly and thus waived confidentiality. 
(2) Dems should push a bill allowing the IRS to say that much. 
(3) It's been 2.5 years, much longer than Mueller in a far less complex matter... so finish the audit already? Push a bill at McConnell allowing the IRS to expedite. 

== Shutdown fallout ==
You FAA folks (and other hero civil servants), you have our love. And ground delays are better than crashes. But a suggestion for next time? If FAA folks are seeking a "work action" that still lets them morally do their best job to keep us safe, then can you find a way to de-prioritize corporate and private jets? 
A huge-glaring symptom of U.S. wealth-disparity sickness has been the plummet of rich folks using First Class and thus riding the same planes as us. (It is the biggest reason air travel (and security) have deteriorated.) Their separate jetports should be at minimum picketed. Taxes raised. And if they keep pushing us... more. Tax private jets till they scream and return to First Class and fly with us. There is no better way to remind them we share a nation.

-----
* Yes, yes. Uncle Duke was originally based on gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson. But over the years Duke became an archetype for cynical-criminal service to international and domestic despots, hardly a Thompson riff.
. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

Smudge Shot, Plus Internet Update

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 19:23
First, let’s get you all a kitten picture, stat: Yes, he’s adorable. And an asshole! But also adorable. As most kittens his age are. And yes, he’s still a kitten until at least late April or early May, which would be our best guess for his birthday. Enjoy these last couple months of his kittenish […]

The Big Idea: Brett Frischmann

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 09:17
Author Brett Frischmann wrote a non-fiction book about the consequences of technology. But he wasn’t done with the topic yet, nor it with him — and that’s how his novel Shephard’s Drone came about. Here he is to explain what happened next. BRETT FRISCHMANN: Human beings have special powers. We can imagine things that don’t […]
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