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Admire My Warty Gourd

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sun, 10/08/2017 - 11:58
One of the things we and our visitors did this weekend was pick up pumpkins for ourselves and our kids. They got pumpkins. I found this magnificent gourd and decided to call it mine. It is… wartlicious. Are you enjoying decorative gourd season?

The Mill in the Woods

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 13:15
Historic Bear’s Mill, October 7, 2017. Hope you’re having a very fine weekend.

Space Marvels! Be prepared to be wow'd... and proud...

Contrary Brin - Sat, 10/07/2017 - 13:14
Don't cheat yourselves of joy and pride. See just a glimpse of the marvels revealed by your Cassini mission to Saturn, the most discovered by curious humanity since God asked Adam to "name all the beasts." We're fulfilling that mission, and magnificently, gorgeously. You have reason to be proud to be a member of a species, civilization and nations that do stuff like this!
Another truly excellent article recaps in more detail the accomplishments of the spectacular 13 year Cassini-Huygens mission that explored Saturn, Titan, Enceladus and so much more.
On 12 October, asteroid 2012 TC4 will pass Earth, by as little as 4,200 miles. NASA is using this opportunity to test out some of its planetary defense systems. Measuring between 30 and 10 feet wide, it is just a little bigger than the Chelyabinsk meteor that explodeded over Russia in February 2013, shattering thousands of windows and injuring hundreds. Planetary defense systems currently used by NASA focus on observations and monitoring via a network of observatories.  

I am on the advisory board of the Asteroid Institute and the B612 Foundation, which are dedicated to protecting the Earth through detection, research and diversion. 
Astrometry measures the positions and placement of heavenly objects and the Europeans have specialized in this art, with the Hipparcos and later Gaia missions. The most urgent finding from this paper? Gl 710, a K dwarf will pass close to the Sun in about 1.3 Myr, perhaps just 16 000 AU away, which will bring this star well within the Oort cloud, possibly perturbing a lot of comets. I propose that we urgently begin planning now! 
See where I propose a method to deal with this by moving the Earth. (The only plausible method that I know.)
In my short story “The Crystal Spheres,” generations of humans spend their lives battling a cometary infall.
I am also on the advisory External Council of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program. Here’s one of the crazier notions we've recently funded at NIAC. The Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) project was first proposed back in 2015. AREE is a rover that uses Venus’ harsh conditions conditions to its advantage, relying on wind to power its mechanical computer and to communicate with a high altitude balloon via semaphore!  Steam punk indeed.   “Since Venus’ atmosphere is about 90 times denser than Earth’s  and heats up to about 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 degrees Celsius), designers have to make something hearty enough to sustain seriously hellish conditions.”  I gave the young innovators a combined attaboy with many technical finger wags. And this year they came up with much better designs.

Only... as I was rising to ask them a question, it came to me in a flash how to make a video camera that has almost no electronics!  Just one high-temperature photo-diode and three impact spark crystals... and all the rest consisting of a lens and some gears! After all, what would a Venus lander be, without a camera? ;-)

== More space! More space! ==
At the Mars Society Conference last month, at UC Irvine, I served on a panel with Larry Niven, Gregory Benford and Geoffrey Landis, while Mars Society president Robert Zubrin posed questions. You can listen in to the podcast thanks to the Planetary Society, as we speculate on matters of human destiny in space. Jerry Pournelle was supposed to participate and sent his regrets... the last any of us heard from him, alas. RIP.
Veering closer to home. There's a lot of buzz because it was announced at the recent AGU meeting that the moon's lava flows suggest there's some water in the lunar mantle. Does this prove that I am wrong and there truly are accessible resources on the moon... other than small deposits of ice at the poles?
Sorry. The moon has lots of good stuff.  But almost none of it is FRACTIONATED or separated into highly concentrated ores. On Earth fractionation or separation mostly happened from geo processes, magmatic or especially water streams above and below ground.  In asteroids separation happened because a proto planet began to form and then broke up.  Nothing like such processes happened on the moon.  If there is mantle water, it is in parts per million and you’d need to dig very deep, then crush and melt the rock.  Good luck with that. Indeed, good luck finding anything useful to humanity on the lunar surface, for our immediate needs, across the next few decades. That polar ice should be left to future lunar colonists, since we can get plenty from asteroids.

== And yet more space! ==
A chain of small volcano cones has been found at the bottom of Valles Marinaris on Mars, dating back only a couple of hundred million years. Almost yesterday!
More utterly awesome images sent back by Juno from Jupiter. Wow ...  And these. And these. Enjoy.  And be proud.  I mean it. If you cannot find it in your heart to be fantastically proud of these... then be ashamed.
A way cool new amateur astronomy telescope co-sponsored by the SETI Institute frees the amateur from any need to handle tracking or identification of sky objects, does image enhancement and even let’s the scope automatically participate in pan-sky online surveys for research groups.
The BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module has spent more than 14 months attached to the Space Station.  Inflated to 14 cubic meters, its success opens the way for whole deployable-inflatable space stations, starting around 2020.
The Kepler telescope hunts for planets by looking for tiny dips in the brightness of a star when a planet crosses in front - known as a transit. To search for exomoons – moons circling a discovered exoplanet -- researchers are looking for a dimming of starlight before and after the planet causes its dip in light.  A candidate have been found, and a whopper!  This "exomoon" is likely to be about the size and mass of Neptune, and circles a planet the size of Jupiter but with 10 times the mass.  Very likely, the exomoon has moons.  What a universe.
A super-Earth has been discovered orbiting Tau Ceti, a star very much like our sun, just 12 light years away. The method – measuring radial velocity wobble – is different than the transit occultation approach and has more long term potential.  Scientists can almost  detect the wobble caused by an Earth sized body.
OMG how bizarre can the cults get? Apparently they can encourage evolution in action: people applying sunscreen directly totheir eyeballs in order to watch the solar eclipse. Yep we are a... diverse... species.  The "fermi" theory that makes sense? We're kept isolated because we provide incredible entertainment.
Cool video of a single cell ciliate “walking” along a stem.
Are neutron stars preyed upon by tiny black holes that them eat them from the inside? Might this explain many mysteries, such as Fast Radio Bursts and the existence of large quantities of Platinum-Uranium heavy elements?
Using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, scientists with the Breakthrough Listen initiative—a massive project dedicated to finding signs of intelligent alien life—recorded 15 repeating fast radio bursts (FRBs) on August 26. “Several explanations for FRBs have been suggested. One is a cataclysmic event, such as a neutron star collapsing into a black hole. But such an event would produce only one burst and therefore does not explain the repeating pattern of FRB 121102. Another possible explanation is that they are coming from a young, highly magnetized neutron star, but so far nothing like this has been detected in this region of space. Despite widespread speculation, the possibility of the signals coming from an advanced alien civilization has been largely ruled out.”
Did Wernher Von Braun have a Twilight Zone predictive moment? "The Martian government was directed by ten men, the leader of whom was elected by universal suffrage for five years and entitled 'Elon.' Two houses of Parliament enacted the laws to be administered by the Elon and his cabinet." page 177 of The Mars Project.
An amazing, actually globular, image of Antares hints at stellar storms.
== Politics and Space == 
See a choice interview by Walter Cronkite with both Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein on the day humanity landed on the Moon, when Heinlein said we should change our calendars. We were a people like this!  In fact, we are vastly greater and better now… except in one way. Belief in ourselves and the can-do spirit. Those who have deliberately undermined that spirit are predators. They are the enemies of your children.
Space and science should not be "political" , except in the sense of calmly assigning budgets and priorities in a grownup and ambitious program of outreach. Certainly NASA's budget has been safer than almost any other science agency - perhaps because it lets Republicans claim: "Who, me? How can I be at war against science when I fund astronauts?"  Of course let's put aside the cancelation of almost all climate or resource or environmental monitoring satellites, or the banning of use of the word EARTH from most NASA mission statements...
...because this goes much deeper. Tune in here and see the high quality of perspicacious individuals Paul Ryan appoints to science related committees, as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space and Technology's Space Subcommittee asks a panel of planetary scientists to speculate about the possibility of a Martian civilization thousands (not billions) of years ago.
Others will comment on this and joke about it.  Or sob that this is the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science. But let me draw your attention to a point most will miss... Rohrabacher's reference to the Moon, which is the destination beloved of Republicans, who want the U.S. to join Russia, China, Europe, India and billionaires in scurrying to repeat dusty footprints on a sterile, useless (for the immediate future) rock.
A coalition of nearly all space scientists, Silicon Valley investors and - yes, democrats - prefer to go prospecting asteroids, whose resources might make mining on our planet obsolete, pouring forth riches of mind boggling proportions.  But then, that fact underlies the GOP eagerness to stop the asteroid platinum rush. 

Their ruling caste has sunk costs in Earthly resource extraction.  There's nothing on the moon to render those investments worthless.  So by all means, back to the lunar dustball!
The Oklahoma Republican congressman President Trump tapped late Friday as NASA’s next administrator is one of the Climate Denialists that the GOP have packed onto the U.S. House “Science Committee.”  Jim Bridenstone doesn’t have a formal science background. His last job before being elected to represent Oklahoma’s 1st District in 2012 was as executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium.  Ah.
Okay. Let’s be fair and give the fellow room. Though it’s hard to judge from dismal articles like this one:“Bridenstine has made it clear he wants the U.S. to re-establish its dominance on and around the moon, a destination that the Obama administration had largely ignored as it focused NASA’s resources on a long-term mission to Mars.”
A cosmically stupid lie. The immediate goal set by the Obama Administration and by almost every scientific advisory board was a cis-lunar or lunar orbital station. Such a station would allow testing of duration methods for a Mars journey, true, but would also serve as an ideal place to bring samples from asteroids — where the real wealth out there is to be found. Additional uses for such a station include certain defense applications, plus... one nifty idea I had...

...such a lunar orbital station might provide (for profit!) services to other nations who wannabe next to plant dusty footprints on the utterly useless (for the foreseeable future) lunar surface. Put up a Lunar Orbit Hotel and Rest Stop and Lander Garage for all the paying tourists and national pride seekers!
More seriously, I remain perplexed. Why is this issue partisan? What’s with the Republicans’ quasi-religious obsession - cancelling anything to do with asteroids and insisting instead on replicating Apollo, going back down to the same dusty plains we visited decades ago, just like all the other wannabes? I can think of no reason for this GOP fixation, other than “if the scientists and Silicon Valley guys and Obama wanted something, we must cancel it and do the opposite.”
But let’s always hope. Welcome, Director Bridenstone. Here’s wishing you – and our hopes – well.
-->. . ...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: Kat Howard

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 10/06/2017 - 08:59
For An Unkindness of Magicians, author Kat Howard decided to go about things… well, just a little differently. She’s here to tell you why doing it that way made sense for her novel. KAT HOWARD: This is a book that began with an ending. Not the ending of the book–No, that took me a number […]

The Big Idea: Walter Jon Williams

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 10/05/2017 - 10:42
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but a cover can still tell you a lot about a book. When I saw the Quillifer cover, I felt like I already knew more than a little bit about Walter Jon Williams‘ titular character. In his Big Idea, Williams confirms my suspicions. Read on to find out who […]

A Brief Addendum to “Word Counts and Writing Process”

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 22:15
Done up in Twitter form, and archived here for posterity. 1. I have some people snarking at my piece about the writing in the Trump era by noting (say) Solzhenitsyn managing to write in Russia… — John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 5, 2017 2. The argument there, presumably, being that if he could do it, I […]

Transparency and Privacy: what we need, want and do not understand

Contrary Brin - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 11:50
Brett Horvath and Berit Anderson at SCOUT raise an important point about Apple’s new face recognition phone tool. “Face ID isn’t just about identity. It’s about mind-reading.” Brett is concerned about the possible combination of a) machine vision and predictive algorithms, b) micro expressions, and c) ubiquitous surveillance, which would allow oppressive regimes and bad actors not only to monitor the movement of dissident populations, but to actively read their emotions and predict behavior. “Now Apple is about to ship this technology stack to the world in what could be the most popular smartphone in history.”
Of course this only extends the lesson I taught in The Transparent Society. We will not preserve freedom by hiding. Nor will it ever be possible to conceal info from elites. Moreover, that is not how we got the freedom that we already have,
We will remain free by aggressively applying these tools upon all elites.  It is the only way we ever got freedom and it is the only way we can retain it.

Why, oh why, is this concept so incredibly hard for very bright people to grasp? I know some very high IQ individuals -- people who can clearly see that our brief, Periclean renaissance is in terrible danger of tumbling into an old-fashioned despotism, empowered by new technologies of control. In conversation -- or after reading The Transparent Society -- they claim to grasp the concept of reciprocal accountability and sousveillance...  the application of light upward at all elites and authorities. But then...?

Then, the very next time that they confront the latest modern information crisis of surveillance, or leaks or hacks or state or corporate control, their sole reflex is to prescribe vague and impossible refuge in hiding.

It cannot work. It never has. It never will. It is cowardly, too! But there's a method that does work. We see it in action, every single day... if we just open our eyes. And look.

== Withstanding and overcoming a toxin ==
Well, well. I’ve done many interviews but I never thought I’d be in FASHION Magazine! The article is serious though, about how we — as individuals, nation and species — are all-too easily poisoned by the addictive drug of self-righteous indignation. The writer brought in a number of interesting perspectives I had not seen or considered, till now.  I like it when that happens!
But do go to the source… my original call for research into indignation addiction, which was republished in Barbara Oakley’s tome Pathological Altruism.
This is a poison that can be especially ruinous in times like ours, when cynical oligarchs are deliberately raking coals to get us all riled up. 

Yes! There’s plenty to be angry about. But that has almost nothing to do with the thing we must seek calmly and rationally. Victory.

== Hold on to our vital victories ==
Danger, danger. The most important civil liberties advance in the 21st Century so far was when the Obama Administration joined multiple courts in declaring a citizen may record the police. I wrote about this in The Transparent Society(1997; see p.160) and how vital it is that we can exercise sousveillance at the level of the street, where power can most-directly affect us. 

Now: "In a free speech ruling that contradicts six other federal circuit courts, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a district court ruling that says Americans do not have a first amendment right to videotape the police, or any public official, in public."

Sure enough, in a deep-red state, this principle is under attack. Only... I blame the good side lawyers! They base their arguments for sousveillance on the First Amendment and sometimes the Fifth... when it is in fact the under-appreciated SIXTH Amendment that most clearly safeguards the citizen from true abuse of power, by granting us the power to compel revelation of facts in our own defense, allowing us recourse to the ultimate defense...

...the Truth.
Ah, but did breathless news reports exaggerate?  Robert Shore: "I have now read both the District Court's decision and the Eighth Circuit opinion affirming the District Court. Neither says what the article claims. The closest approach is a statement that the general public doesn't have a constitutional right to film citizens in the lobby of a police station, and that's a far cry from ruling that citizens can't film police stops executed in public. There's just no substitute for primary sources."
I hope so. Better that Brin be wrong in a “Danger!” alert.
== Doing is more important than knowing ==
You Are The Product: A good, long read by John Lanchester: "Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more bout you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens." 
Yes, and worrisome and I am glad that these facts are being revealed and chewed on, by the public.  Only note THAT these revelations and discussions are happening. And second always remember that something matters far more than what others knowabout you.  

What matters far more is what they might do to you!  

To control the latter, it is futile trying to stop others from seeing. Show us one time when that ever worked for long. Ever. Once. 

What will make a difference is making sure that wesee everything about them.

== Worries & Concerns ==
Yipe, it turns out that speech-recognition devices can understand and obey commands given at completely ultrasonic frequencies. You may not be able to hear someone hijacking your cellphone, computer, or home automation system, but they can.
 China doubles down on anonymity: “According to China’s new regulations, Internet companies and service providers are responsible for requesting and verifying real names from users when they register and must immediately report illegal content to the authorities…. Furthermore, a new cybersecurity law that went into effect at the beginning of June requires tech companies to store important data on servers within China. While this is supposedly meant to protect sensitive information, it can also make it easier for the government to track and persecute Internet users.”

Jennifer Jacquet, assistant professor at New York University and author of the newly released -- Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool -- explores issues of guilt, conscience, and conformity, proposing that we need new ground rules when it comes to public shaming, particularly in a new age of ubiquitous, and volatile, social media.
. . ...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: David Walton

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 10:58
You want thrown gauntlets? David Walton throws one in the first sentence of this Big Idea piece for this novel, The Genius Plague. Read on to see it, and whether you agree. DAVID WALTON: Zombie books just aren’t creepy enough. They’re exciting, don’t get me wrong. When some drooling dead guy is breaking down your […]

Amish on the Highway

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 10:33
I often joke to people that in Bradford, where I live, a traffic jam is three cars behind an Amish buggy. It’s not actually a joke; when you see a line of cars going five miles an hour, you know there’s a buggy up on the front of that line. It is not actually a […]

The Big Idea: Nick Mamatas

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 09:33
Drinking and writing: Two activities that have gone together famously (and occasionally, infamously) over the years. Now here’s Nick Mamatas, co-editor of Mixed Up: Cocktail Recipes (and Flash Fiction) for the Discerning Drinker (and Reader), to add a twist to this celebrated concoction. Yes, I just made a pun. No, I’m not sorry. NICK MAMATAS: […]

2017, Word Counts and Writing Process

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 22:01
Today I wrote 1,850 words on Head On, my novel which is coming out next year. In any year previous to 2017, 1,850 words from me in a single day would be an okay day — slightly below my general average of 2,000 or so that I can reliably pump out on a daily basis, […]

RIP Tom Petty

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 17:13
This was the song that made me a Tom Petty fan and got me to buy my first album from him and the Heartbreakers. He’s gone now but leaves a hell of a fine musical legacy. Go listen to it.

Emergency Pet Pictures Deployed

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 09:01
Because here in the US, it’s a day for them. Because today is a day when we will here about thoughts and prayers being offered, here are my thoughts on thoughts and prayers, from July 2016, in the aftermath of an event all too much like the event we’re dealing with today.

World-saving solutions and inspirations... and what's really in that tax bill

Contrary Brin - Sat, 09/30/2017 - 15:08
== Problem solving solutions ==
Contests to save the world? The MacArthur Foundation recently closed a competition called "100 & Change," which asks for proposals targeting specific problems on Earth. 

And now a new competition from the Global Challenges Foundation is calling for solutions to the world's most pressing problems, like conflict, climate change and extreme poverty. Registration for "A New Shape" is open until March 31 and proposals are due by September 30.
The simple-minded genetic determinism of ignorant white nationalists is backfiring on them. They are getting genetic tests to prove how Caucasian they are, and very few of them are getting the results they expect. Anthropologist Raymond Firth wrote a long time ago that whenever two populations meet, they may or may not bleed, but they will most certainly breed.
This raises a potentially effective – and hilarious – way to combat these groups.  Show up at their rallies and hand out coupons for 23 & Me or Ancestry.com…or some cheaper site… to get their haplotype inheritance markers tested.  At minimum, you’ll roil their pot, isolating the extreme racial purists and getting them acting hateful to many of their own recruits!  Even better, some of the marchers may get drawn toward both science and acceptance of complexity, plus identification with more than one simplistic (and actually nonexistent) “European” stock.  Heck, talk those Silicon Valley types into doing this in a test somewhere, then fund giving spit kits away at every rally!
== What the "Tax Bill" really is about ==
Gliding onward from "repeal and replace," now it's taxes. An architect of Republican Supply Side Economics reveals that he is sapient by admitting that evidence should change one’s mind. And evidence shows that Supply Side has always bee utter voodoo. Tax cuts for the rich have never - not once, ever- had any of the stimulative effects promised. And the Clinton tax increases led directly to the best growth since the 1970s.  Wealth transfers to the aristocracy are not invested in R&D or productive “supply” capacity - but instead inflate asset bubbles. Are you similarly sapient? Is your mad uncle?  “I helped create the GOP tax myth. Trump is wrong: Tax cuts don’t equal growth.”
Moreover, GOP tax cuts always led to skyrocketing deficits. So, where are all the budget balancers and deficit hawks now?  See where I prove that (surprise!) it is always Democrats who are more fiscally responsible. What? You prefer your comfy cliches over actual evidence?
But let's be clear. Sure, every line of the new "tax bill" will benefit Trump and his fellow oligarchs, above all. Yes, Hedge funds and lawyers get a special tax break. And other travesties. And your mad uncle who thinks these are ‘populists” is truly a jibbering, confederate loony. But the top goal of all Republicans, across every divide, has been to cancel out the Estate Tax… they call it the “Death Tax.” 
They know they’ll have to back off on some of their proposed middle class rapes and gifts to oligarchy, but that one will probably slip through, and there’s nothing more evil.  And it will slip through because half our neighbors have let themselves be suckered into fights over symbolism, like confederate statues, kneeling football players, and whether a “fence” can be upgraded into a “wall."
== Staunching the worst ==
Two bills introduced in August are designed to safeguard the independent prosecutor, whose investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election has roused Trump's public and private frustration. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) have proposed allowing a special counsel to contest any termination after the fact, while another bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) would require the Justice Department to seek judicial approval before any firing.
How silly!  Oh, sure, I am glad DP & GOP senators are recognizing the need to send DTrump a signal to leave the Mueller investigation alone. But in a BILL?  Where will you find the nineteen GOP senators willing to help 48 democrats to over-ride Trump’s inevitable veto?

As it happens, the Constitution has a provision that would let Congress - by simple majority - appoint an “other body” under the 25th Amendment that could do two things (1) make strong (though perhaps sub-binding) rulings about the President’s power to evade justice, and (2) issue - in conjunction with the Vice President, a temporary removal of presidential power. Elsewhere, I explain how this works.
== Art Inspires the Awakening of Our Union ==
With his new site, Woke Giant, Patrick Farley, the brilliant artist who did my Existence trailer and “Spiders” and First Word and so many other fantastic web comics, has been putting out incredible, moving posters to help inspire, as America wakes up again to the resurgence of confederate treason.
Meanwhlie... Blackwater's founder - Erik Prince - offers a plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan.  Charging us just a few tens of billions/year and removing lawful supervision of conduct. In effect: "Let me handle things; just go back to your soaps and video games."  All right, that's my paraphrasing.  But no person - not even Rupert Murdoch - so personifies that effort, to shift America from an open-accountable and fact-using republic to an empire-oligarchy complete with mercenary armies, bread&circuses, a shift that the Romans went through with Caesar, and that Orson Scott Card extolled in his novel EMPIRE. (Indeed, a power transfer to unaccountable demigods that Card pushes in every single tale that he writes.) Watch for the other shoe to drop. Trump hinted that Afghanistan would have to start handing over mineral and other wealth (poppies?) presumably to Trump-Murdoch-Cheney connected companies.
Our parents in the Greatest Generation faced similar choices, as did their forebears in 1918, the 1870s and earlier.  For good reason (they knew more about this danger) they chose their favorite living human: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, instead of such monsters.
And monsters rise again... see Farley's image: You again? Stop the "Alt-Right" subtitled, "We beat 'em before. We'll beat 'em now." Though I would have given the loony-hateful romantics torches. Tiki torches. Tiki torches, fools? The fact-users that you hate got us to the Moon and Mars and Jupiter and Pluto, and are developing fusion power. You've chosen to wage war on all the folks who know stuff. How do you think that's going to turn out?
And while we’re on the power of art…
Don't Be a Sucker! is a short educational film produced by the U.S. War Department in 1943 and re-released in 1947. The film depicts the rise of Nazism in Germany and warns Americans against repeating the mistakes of intolerance made in Nazi Germany. It emphasizes that Americans will lose their country if they let themselves be turned into "suckers" by the forces of fanaticism and hatred. The film was made to make the case for the desegregation of the United States armed forces by simply revealing the connection between prejudice and fascism.
== political miscellany ==
This missive on Huffpost: “Why Democrats Could Consider Registering Republican To Stop Trump” is a dumb version of my own earlier suggestion. Indeed, is it time to reconsider a mass migration of blacks and other minorities to Mississippi or Alabama? They are already almost 40%! Hey Amazon, set up shop there.
I could not care less about Louise Linton (Mrs. Secretary Mnuchin) and her tiff on Instagram.  Yes, she came across as a spoiled brat… though if you read her posting, I deemed it non-heinous. Bratty, but not as bad as reports.  No, what IS interesting is how this author on the NPR website-blog uses the non-event to riff onto “marginal disutility” in tax rates and to teach some interesting aspects about progressive taxation systems.
== Reflections ==
“He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.’  Donald Trump?  No. Look who.
“For as wealth is power, so all power will infallibly draw wealth to itself by some means or other.”    – Edmund Burke (1780)
“Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution.”      – Francis Bacon (De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum, 1623)
“That mankind as a whole shall become richer does not, of necessity involve an increase in human welfare.       – John Bates Clark
“Riches: The saving of many in the hands of one.”                               – Eugene V. Debs
Those persons who comprise the independent classes are dependent upon two things: the industry of their fellow creatures; and injustice, which enables them to command it.      – Based on John Gray (A Lecture on Human Happiness, 1825)
“No rich man is ugly.”– Zsa Zsa Gabor  . . ...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, 9/29/30

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 16:33
Well, September went pretty quickly, didn’t it? To send it off, here’s a stack of new books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound. Tell me what speaks to you from this stack, down in the comments.

The Big Idea: Jon McGoran

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 11:29
What’s the next step beyond gnarly tattooing? Jon McGoran has an idea, which makes up the central conceit of Spliced. But how he got there is another story entirely. JON McGORAN: I came up with the idea for Spliced while researching my book Dust Up, an adult thriller about biotech in big food and pharmaceuticals. […]

The Big Idea: Alethea Kontis

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 09:25
In When Tinker Met Bell, Alethea Kontis is working in the universe another author. How does she do it? As it happens, she drew inspiration from another universe entirely, one she visits once a year. ALETHEA KONTIS: In 1996, fresh out of college with a Chemistry degree and absolutely no idea what to do with […]

The Piece I Wrote For This Evening is Totally Not Relevant Anymore, So Please Enjoy This Cool Picture of a Stick Bug That Was On My Sliding Glass Door Instead

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 19:04
I love these things. They are so cool looking. And the multiple reflections going on are pretty nifty too.

It's not left-vs-right, stupid. It is symbolism.

Contrary Brin - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 16:14
After a formal and erudite posting, let's relax and let our hairy opinions down to talk about lots of things... starting with symbolism.

Ah symbolism. It has always been of central importance to Republicans, who do very little else when in power. Take their obsession with the naming of Aircraft Carriers. (The other thing they do, of course, is hand over the nation's wealth to oligarchs. Hence their 21st Century affinity with Putin.) How ironic then, that U.S. conservatives style themselves as the hard-nosed, pragmatic bunch vs. wooly-headed, liberal idealism.

So what about all those Confederate statues that Donald Trump calls "beautiful"? New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu offers intelligent perspectives on the difference between remembering and revering historical figures.

What bugs me is the simplistic nature of all this. Hey, I am willing to parse a spectrum of confederate monuments, and Robert E Lee is way at the near end -- yes a rebel-traitor who owned slaves and tried to help dismember his country... but also representative of the one genuinely admirable virtue that the otherwise-horrifically-evil Confederacy could claim. Those virtues being (mostly) honorable battlefield courage and martial resilience. 

Those virtues were also displayed by Stonewall Jackson and Nathan Bedford Forrest. Except for the "honorable" part. Unlike Lee, those two were pure sons-of-bitches, evil right down to their cores, and proved it repeatedly. 

Lee, in contrast, tried to control his army in ways that followed the letter and spirit of then-current codes of war. Moreover, he acted vigorously - in 1865 - to accept the offer of lenience made by Lincoln, and reciprocated by calling on all Southerners to "be good citizens" of the United States. That last bit -- staunching all calls for a guerrilla rising -- served the nation well enough to merit leaving a few effigies standing. A few street names in place.

(A side note: I've always thought Lee was over-rated as a general. He had one trick that he used - brilliantly and successfully - over and over... pounce on the flanks of a befuddled, lumbering, larger invading army. Aggressive, predatory defense. Yes, he was very good at that. But it did him zero good in his doomed-from-the-start Antietem and Gettysburg Campaigns. Moreover, when a general came along who shrugged that method off (Grant), Lee realized that he was doomed.)

If Forrest and Jackson had mostly yin, but a little positive martial yang, there's no justification for any hagiography of Jefferson Davis, whose image should be trampled far worse than Benedict Arnold (who actually saved the Revolution four times, before proving incompetent as a traitor.)

My conclusion? R.E. Lee could remain in statuary at public places if balanced by great heroes of progress and tolerance. The SOBs Jackson and Forrest should be sent to battlefields or parks run by the dizzy daughters of the confederacy, places where the topic is generalcy and no one interested in other things will have to deal with them. As for Davis's representations and most other confed monuments, that were erected in the 1920s and 1960s in order to scream white power? They should be chiseled to dust. And I include Stone Mountain. 

But thanks guys. This is rousing the Union, at last. 

== Farewell White House Science Office ==
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy was one of our jewels. Normally, OSTP had about 60 staffers, to help assist WH personnel in creating fact-grounded policy. President Obama expanded it well past 100, bringing in loads of question-asking consultants and speakers… like yours truly (twice in 2016 alone). “The size of the office under the Obama administration reflected Mr. Obama's "strong belief in science, the growing intersection of science and technology—” reports CBS News.
Beyond advising the President on scientific discoveries and their implications for national policy, OSTP was involved in encouraging breakthroughs in STEM education and re-igniting a generation of skilled programmers. Heading OSTP was the Presidential Science Adviser, a position generally filled by some of humanity’s sharpest minds.
All of that is over. President Trump has attrited the Science Office of OSTP to zero… that’s zero staff to consult with West Wing policy makers over anything scientific or related to science. OSTP as a whole is down to a couple of dozen placeholders.
Elsewhere, I wrote about David Gelernter, who seemed a front runner for the Science Adviser post, under Trump. A bizarre and polemically-driven person, Gelernter apparently would have been far too scientific for this White House. Perhaps they sensed that he would be capable - in extremis - of saying the hated phrase: “um… sir... that’s not exactly true.”
That, after all, was the criminal offense of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) which was banished by Newt Gingrich in 1995 for giving honest answers. And the fate now apparently destined for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), for similar treasons against dogma.
It is this fevered spite against all fact-users that makes our current civil war completely unrelated to the old-hoary-lobotomizing “left-right” political “axis.” When all outcomes and metrics of U.S. health and yes, economics and capitalism do vastly better under democrats, fact users become Enemy #1.  And that’s all fact-users, now including even the FBI, the Intelligence Community and the U.S. Military Officer Corps. (Look up the term “deep state” to see how the mad right is justifying attacking even them!)
Fans of the movie “Idiocracy” - and die hard confederates - may openly avow wishing for this rise of the know-nothings.  But your conservative aunt might be swayed to pull away from this madness, if you dare her to name one profession of folks who actually know stuff that is not under open attack by her crazy husband and his ilk.

She knows she will need skilled people, from time to time.  Even if he convinces himself that fact-people are all satanic.
== Why didn’t Obama speak out? ==
The ability of our confederate neighbors to concoct excuses for the plantation lords seems to have no limits. Now that it’s openly admitted and proved that the Trump family, the Trump campaign manager and the GOP leadership all actively salivated over and sought Russian help, the new Fox line is “why didn’t Obama speak up?”
Now we know why. Because Obama did try to negotiate with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan on a joint statement deploring any foreign meddling, in compromise language that would be non-partisan. It was the president’s job to be cautious and judicious and not leap to yell. (Remember those days?) What was their response?
McConnell threatened Obama that if he even mentioned the “Russia Thing” in public, the GOP leadership would accuse Obama of election meddling. No matter how much FBI and CIA evidence was presented to those two, the response was the same. In other words, outright, deliberate, partisan treason.
From Scout: "James Clapper, Former Director of U.S. National Intelligence, and John Brennan, Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum about Trump, Russian hacking, and national security. The entire hour-long conversation is a must-watch, remarkable for the candor and urgency expressed by two world-class intelligence minds.
Said Clapper: “One of the things I’ve recommended to the Senate Intelligence Committee is that maybe there should be a requirement in the future that before all presidential and congressional elections, 120 days before, the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the FBI should say what’s the state of cyber intrusions that are designed to compromise the integrity of the electoral system,” Clapper suggested.
Clapper, of course, was referencing the tension the Obama administration faced between sharing what it knew about Russian interference with U.S. citizens and being perceived as trying to throw the election for Hillary. But while the U.S. may have been the most prominent example of international hacking designed to skew the outcome of its election, it certainly will not be the last.
Oh, but more and more grows clear. I have wondered for some time where’s been the reporting on Donald Trump’s mob connections. What? You are shocked? Shocked that a casino owner and slumlord, involved in international money laundering might have been in business with shady characters? Let’s be clear about this.  The sanctions against Russia that Putin and his Kremlin are angriest about are the ones specifically targeting money launderers. See Trump's Russian Laundromat, from The New Republic.
== Count the vote honestly ==
California officials have gone to the big Defcon hacker convention challenging the best to test security of votingsystems and ensure fair elections. You’ll find no representatives from red states. The top qualification to be the Republican Secretary of State is how eagerly and effectively you support gerrymandering, voter denial, rigged voting machines, plus “losing” thousands of registrations just before every single election.  Your Republican neighbors won’t even deny this, anymore.  They are proud of it, the confederates.
Which leaves the democrats as honest… but stupid.  The response to Trump’s “Voter Fraud Commission” should not be “there’s no voter fraud!”
It should be: “There have been almost no examples of fraudulent voting, but plenty of cheating by red state officials.  So here’s the deal. We’ll go along with your ‘investigation…’ plus gradually ramping up voter ID… in exchange for —
— compliance assistance to help poor Americans GET ID!
— a full appraisal of the nation’s voting machines.
— an end to the blatantly criminal and treasonous cheat called gerrymandering. See my proposed 3-sentence solution.
Make it an offer of a fair deal. "We'll address your concerns - like undocumented voters or dead people shambling to the polls - if you'll help stop the treasonous cheats of your side.
For the Dems to fail to express their objections in this positive and assertive way is just dumb.
So, sure, one side is more honest, caring and fact-based. But it’s still hell-bent on Idiocracy.
== Newsletters vs blogs == 
The world of “newsletters” is kind of elitist, in that they cost subscription fees - often paid by your employer - if you are high enough in the company to extort it. I have been urged to shift from blog mode to a newsletter, that could then help pay college bills!  But the tradeoffs are harsh:
1. Subscriptions to their newsletters can keep very smart people in business, doing their research, preparing solid reports. (Full disclosure: I get many of my newsletter subscriptions for free.)
2. But subscriptions limit the number of readers — and hence your immediate influence in changing things. Though you may be zeroing in on an elite.
Among the best and most important newsletters would be Mark Anderson’s Strategic News Service. Mark is a brilliant forecaster with one of the best, big picture views of how technological change sweeps through our certainties in business, science and the real world. SNS also runs the annual Future in Review (FiRe) conference.  If I time this posting right, it will come out while I am at this year's FiRe!
Among many other things, Mark has been the most powerful voice denouncing and revealing the devastating effects of tech-spying and IP theft, which are destroying the ability of Americans to keep paying for the trade deficits that have uplifted the entire developing world. This shortsightedly rapacious predation of western (especially Californian) creativity proves that the mercantilist powers are not as smart as they think they are.
Here’s a link to the opening of an SNS newsletter — a 2-parter written by one of Mark’s top Asian analysts — and I hope some of you will talk your company into purchasing you access.  Because this could be among the most important series that you read, when it comes to international affairs and trade.
Indeed, it reveals how extremely aggressive things have become, as we (via cheap WalMart imports) finance cultural and commercial and conceptual war against our very societal underpinnings.
(Often there are side routes to peeking in at these newsletters. Take this important example on Chinese business practices.  And this YouTube of a Mark Anderson talk on the problem, one of the biggest that our civilization faces.)
My newsletter subscriptions range from the Institute for Ethics in Emerging Technologies to the Lifeboat Foundation to John Mauldin’s investment letter to George Friedman’s strategic overview.  In all such cases, ranging from left to right, I have a reputation as a challenging gadfly… hey, it’s my role in life!
. . ...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)

It's not left-vs-right, stupid. It is symbolism. And the Science Office.

Contrary Brin - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 16:14
After a formal and erudite posting, let's relax and let our hairy opinions down to talk about lots of things... starting with symbolism.

Ah symbolism. It has always been of central importance to Republicans, who do very little else when in power. Take their obsession with the naming of Aircraft Carriers. (The other thing they do, of course, is hand over the nation's wealth to oligarchs. Hence their 21st Century affinity with Putin.) How ironic then, that U.S. conservatives style themselves as the hard-nosed, pragmatic bunch vs. wooly-headed, liberal idealism.

So what about all those Confederate statues that Donald Trump calls "beautiful"? New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu offers intelligent perspectives on the difference between remembering and revering historical figures.

What bugs me is the simplistic nature of all this. Hey, I am willing to parse a spectrum of confederate monuments, and Robert E Lee is way at the near end -- yes a rebel-traitor who owned slaves and tried to help dismember his country... but also representative of the one genuinely admirable virtue that the otherwise-horrifically-evil Confederacy could claim. Those virtues being (mostly) honorable battlefield courage and martial resilience. 

Those virtues were also displayed by Stonewall Jackson and Nathan Bedford Forrest. Except for the "honorable" part. Unlike Lee, those two were pure sons-of-bitches, evil right down to their cores, and proved it repeatedly. 

Lee, in contrast, tried to control his army in ways that followed the letter and spirit of then-current codes of war. Moreover, he acted vigorously - in 1865 - to accept the offer of lenience made by Lincoln, and reciprocated by calling on all Southerners to "be good citizens" of the United States. That last bit -- staunching all calls for a guerrilla rising -- served the nation well enough to merit leaving a few effigies standing. A few street names in place.

(A side note: I've always thought Lee was over-rated as a general. He had one trick that he used - brilliantly and successfully - over and over... pounce on the flanks of a befuddled, lumbering, larger invading army. Aggressive, predatory defense. Yes, he was very good at that. But it did him zero good in his doomed-from-the-start Antietem and Gettysburg Campaigns. Moreover, when a general came along who shrugged that method off (Grant), Lee realized that he was doomed.)

If Forrest and Jackson had mostly yin, but a little positive martial yang, there's no justification for any hagiography of Jefferson Davis, whose image should be trampled far worse than Benedict Arnold (who actually saved the Revolution four times, before proving incompetent as a traitor.)

My conclusion? R.E. Lee could remain in statuary at public places if balanced by great heroes of progress and tolerance. The SOBs Jackson and Forrest should be sent to battlefields or parks run by the dizzy daughters of the confederacy, places where the topic is generalcy and no one interested in other things will have to deal with them. As for Davis's representations and most other confed monuments, that were erected in the 1920s and 1960s in order to scream white power? They should be chiseled to dust. And I include Stone Mountain. 

But thanks guys. This is rousing the Union, at last. 

== Farewell White House Science Office ==
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy was one of our jewels. Normally, OSTP had about 60 staffers, to help assist WH personnel in creating fact-grounded policy. President Obama expanded it well past 100, bringing in loads of question-asking consultants and speakers… like yours truly (twice in 2016 alone). “The size of the office under the Obama administration reflected Mr. Obama's "strong belief in science, the growing intersection of science and technology—” reports CBS News.
Beyond advising the President on scientific discoveries and their implications for national policy, OSTP was involved in encouraging breakthroughs in STEM education and re-igniting a generation of skilled programmers. Heading OSTP was the Presidential Science Adviser, a position generally filled by some of humanity’s sharpest minds.
All of that is over. President Trump has attrited the Science Office of OSTP to zero… that’s zero staff to consult with West Wing policy makers over anything scientific or related to science. OSTP as a whole is down to a couple of dozen placeholders.
Elsewhere, I wrote about David Gelernter, who seemed a front runner for the Science Adviser post, under Trump. A bizarre and polemically-driven person, Gelernter apparently would have been far too scientific for this White House. Perhaps they sensed that he would be capable - in extremis - of saying the hated phrase: “um… sir... that’s not exactly true.”
That, after all, was the criminal offense of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) which was banished by Newt Gingrich in 1995 for giving honest answers. And the fate now apparently destined for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), for similar treasons against dogma.
It is this fevered spite against all fact-users that makes our current civil war completely unrelated to the old-hoary-lobotomizing “left-right” political “axis.” When all outcomes and metrics of U.S. health and yes, economics and capitalism do vastly better under democrats, fact users become Enemy #1.  And that’s all fact-users, now including even the FBI, the Intelligence Community and the U.S. Military Officer Corps. (Look up the term “deep state” to see how the mad right is justifying attacking even them!)
Fans of the movie “Idiocracy” - and die hard confederates - may openly avow wishing for this rise of the know-nothings.  But your conservative aunt might be swayed to pull away from this madness, if you dare her to name one profession of folks who actually know stuff that is not under open attack by her crazy husband and his ilk.

She knows she will need skilled people, from time to time.  Even if he convinces himself that fact-people are all satanic.
== Why didn’t Obama speak out? ==
The ability of our confederate neighbors to concoct excuses for the plantation lords seems to have no limits. Now that it’s openly admitted and proved that the Trump family, the Trump campaign manager and the GOP leadership all actively salivated over and sought Russian help, the new Fox line is “why didn’t Obama speak up?”
Now we know why. Because Obama did try to negotiate with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan on a joint statement deploring any foreign meddling, in compromise language that would be non-partisan. It was the president’s job to be cautious and judicious and not leap to yell. (Remember those days?) What was their response?
McConnell threatened Obama that if he even mentioned the “Russia Thing” in public, the GOP leadership would accuse Obama of election meddling. No matter how much FBI and CIA evidence was presented to those two, the response was the same. In other words, outright, deliberate, partisan treason.
From Scout: "James Clapper, Former Director of U.S. National Intelligence, and John Brennan, Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum about Trump, Russian hacking, and national security. The entire hour-long conversation is a must-watch, remarkable for the candor and urgency expressed by two world-class intelligence minds.
Said Clapper: “One of the things I’ve recommended to the Senate Intelligence Committee is that maybe there should be a requirement in the future that before all presidential and congressional elections, 120 days before, the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the FBI should say what’s the state of cyber intrusions that are designed to compromise the integrity of the electoral system,” Clapper suggested.
Clapper, of course, was referencing the tension the Obama administration faced between sharing what it knew about Russian interference with U.S. citizens and being perceived as trying to throw the election for Hillary. But while the U.S. may have been the most prominent example of international hacking designed to skew the outcome of its election, it certainly will not be the last.
Oh, but more and more grows clear. I have wondered for some time where’s been the reporting on Donald Trump’s mob connections. What? You are shocked? Shocked that a casino owner and slumlord, involved in international money laundering might have been in business with shady characters? Let’s be clear about this.  The sanctions against Russia that Putin and his Kremlin are angriest about are the ones specifically targeting money launderers. See Trump's Russian Laundromat, from The New Republic.
== Count the vote honestly ==
California officials have gone to the big Defcon hacker convention challenging the best to test security of votingsystems and ensure fair elections. You’ll find no representatives from red states. The top qualification to be the Republican Secretary of State is how eagerly and effectively you support gerrymandering, voter denial, rigged voting machines, plus “losing” thousands of registrations just before every single election.  Your Republican neighbors won’t even deny this, anymore.  They are proud of it, the confederates.
Which leaves the democrats as honest… but stupid.  The response to Trump’s “Voter Fraud Commission” should not be “there’s no voter fraud!”
It should be: “There have been almost no examples of fraudulent voting, but plenty of cheating by red state officials.  So here’s the deal. We’ll go along with your ‘investigation…’ plus gradually ramping up voter ID… in exchange for —
— compliance assistance to help poor Americans GET ID!
— a full appraisal of the nation’s voting machines.
— an end to the blatantly criminal and treasonous cheat called gerrymandering. See my proposed 3-sentence solution.
Make it an offer of a fair deal. "We'll address your concerns - like undocumented voters or dead people shambling to the polls - if you'll help stop the treasonous cheats of your side.
For the Dems to fail to express their objections in this positive and assertive way is just dumb.
So, sure, one side is more honest, caring and fact-based. But it’s still hell-bent on Idiocracy.
== Newsletters vs blogs == 
The world of “newsletters” is kind of elitist, in that they cost subscription fees - often paid by your employer - if you are high enough in the company to extort it. I have been urged to shift from blog mode to a newsletter, that could then help pay college bills!  But the tradeoffs are harsh:
1. Subscriptions to their newsletters can keep very smart people in business, doing their research, preparing solid reports. (Full disclosure: I get many of my newsletter subscriptions for free.)
2. But subscriptions limit the number of readers — and hence your immediate influence in changing things. Though you may be zeroing in on an elite.
Among the best and most important newsletters would be Mark Anderson’s Strategic News Service. Mark is a brilliant forecaster with one of the best, big picture views of how technological change sweeps through our certainties in business, science and the real world. SNS also runs the annual Future in Review (FiRe) conference.  If I time this posting right, it will come out while I am at this year's FiRe!
Among many other things, Mark has been the most powerful voice denouncing and revealing the devastating effects of tech-spying and IP theft, which are destroying the ability of Americans to keep paying for the trade deficits that have uplifted the entire developing world. This shortsightedly rapacious predation of western (especially Californian) creativity proves that the mercantilist powers are not as smart as they think they are.
Here’s a link to the opening of an SNS newsletter — a 2-parter written by one of Mark’s top Asian analysts — and I hope some of you will talk your company into purchasing you access.  Because this could be among the most important series that you read, when it comes to international affairs and trade.
Indeed, it reveals how extremely aggressive things have become, as we (via cheap WalMart imports) finance cultural and commercial and conceptual war against our very societal underpinnings.
(Often there are side routes to peeking in at these newsletters. Take this important example on Chinese business practices.  And this YouTube of a Mark Anderson talk on the problem, one of the biggest that our civilization faces.)
My newsletter subscriptions range from the Institute for Ethics in Emerging Technologies to the Lifeboat Foundation to John Mauldin’s investment letter to George Friedman’s strategic overview.  In all such cases, ranging from left to right, I have a reputation as a challenging gadfly… hey, it’s my role in life!
. . ...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)
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