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More marvels from space!

Contrary Brin - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 19:47
This weekend I will start a three part series on what must be a central tactic of the moderate-liberal-American alliance leading up to the 2018 elections.  But first, let's look up to space!

In August I will speak at both Science Foo (at the Googleplex in Palo Alto) and the Starship Conference in Monterrey. And in late September -- the annual NASA NIAC Symposium, this time in Denver and open to the public. Wowzer stuff! Stay tuned for details.

The Incentive Trap: When to Launch: An interesting article from Centauri Dreams talks about  the way that humanity has been – in jerks and starts – increasing the speed of our vehicles and machines, starting with the first railroad engine in 1804. There’s been a plateau since the 1970s, stalled “Voyager 1’s 17 kilometers per second as it leaves the Solar System. The Helios solar probes launched in 1974 and 1976 set the current record at 70.22 km/s. And looking forward, the Solar Probe Plus mission is to perform a close flyby of the Sun, reaching a top heliocentric speed of 195 kilometers per second, which works out to 6.5 × 10 −4 c

If Breakthrough Starshot realizes its goal, an interstellar lightsail may one day head for Proxima Centauri at fully 20 percent of the speed of light.” Note that I explore dozens of implications of Starshot-style missions, sending pellets or small capsules between stars -- in Existence.
The essay by Paul Gilster contemplates the Incentive Trap, in which launching an interstellar mission might be delayed by worries that another probe, dispatched a decade later, would pass it by!  See this whimsically treated in my story "The Avalon Probes," in my third collection Insistence of Vision.
== More gorgeous reasons to be proud! ==

These images from Jupiter were taken by the Juno spacecraft with a camera made by Malin Space Systems in La Jolla.  Unbelievable beauty. As if painted by Van God. (If you look closely at frame 5 and frames 10 and 11, you can see lots of these little white blobs sticking up above the cloud deck.  The immediate reaction from the atmospheric guys on the science team is that they are thunderstorms (there is evidence from one of the other instruments of lightning when we flew over these areas).

  Given their heights, they are probably a combination of water ice and ammonia ice.) And yes, someone else noticed the Van Gogh similarities.
And this image from Juno of Jupiter's south pole.The circular features are immense swirling cyclones, up to 600 miles in diameter. Wow. 
Juno will make a couple dozen more passes over Jupiter's poles... so more data and images await! 
And the Cassini mission has completed its sixth dive through the rings of Saturn -- as part of its Grand Finale mission before plummeting into the depths of Saturn's atmosphere. See 52 of Cassini's most beautiful postcards from the edge..
A free floating brown dwarf? Only 21 light-years from the Sun in Pisces, is SIMP0136  a well-studied brown dwarf star… or so folks thought. But UCSD’s Adam Burgasser has helped nail down that it’s more of a free-drifting planet, with mass of about 13 times that of Jupiter, right at the boundary between brown dwarfs and giant planets. Free-floating planets are easier to study because their dim light isn’t overwhelmed by the brightness of their host stars, which blinds the instruments that astronomers use to characterize an exoplanet’s atmosphere. That meant astronomers had already detected fast-evolving weather patterns on the surface.
 == Space technologies ==
SpaceX changes everything. This is so way cool.  They've never shown images like these, actually zooming in on the rocket as it falls, as the nitrogen puffs keep it oriented, as the stage re-ignites and as it lands.
Watch the whole thing while multi tasking!
When SpaceX launches the Falcon 9 Heavy - with three Falcon 9 cores (the Falcon 27?) - it will attempt to land and re-use all three first stages., Elon says. Hey ULA, you better get cracking.

Okay then... DARPA has granted approval to Boeing to build and test its reusable hypersonic military spaceplane XS-1 - the Phantom Express - which will launch vertically and land horizontally.

Sundiver? NASA to announce a mission to dive into the sun's atmosphere. 
Well, well, it seems that NASA has published a peer reviewed paper on their tests of the electromagnetic “EM Drive.” And – very tentatively – they seem to have found a very small effect.  I am hoping they had a few professional magicians on the evaluation team. And such things almost never scale up. Still, the effect is larger than a solar sail. So bring on the next stage of upgrades and tests!
Is weightlessness good for growing stem cells?
After circling Earth for an unprecedented 718 days, the U.S. Air Force’s robotic X-37B spaceplane touched down May 7 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at Cape Canaveral. And Elon won the next contract to launch it.
And construction begins on the 39 meter ELT -- Extremely Large Telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert, which will be the world's largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. 
== Can we move outward, while not looking down? ==
NASA was spared - overall - deep cuts in the Trump proposed budget. Sighs of relief? Only look at what was meddled-out. All three of the satellite programs that would have helped to nail down the facts regarding climate change, all wiped out by those who shout (in effect) "If we don't look, then it doesn't exist!" (Object permanence is something most humans learn by the time they are three.)

Also gone, the Asteroid Redirect Mission, nailing in place the weirdest aspect of America's current Civil War... the fact that Republicans are obsessed with putting more dusty footprints on the Moon while Democrats (and nearly all scientists and space entrepreneurs) want to at least take a closer look at a likely bonanza of wealth available for the taking, from asteroids.

Why would our insipid political struggles extend into space? Because that asteroid bonanza could undermine prices for materials we currently tear out of the Earth, threatening the sunk costs of resource exploiters. One reason why that cult also undermines sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. (Too late on that one, fellahs. Too late, thank God.)
In 1973, the celebrated Nigerian poet Odia Ofeimun contemplated the moon landing with a poem that said, “We are annexing the kingdom of the gods.” Read about how Nigeria is passionate about their space program.
== Missions and marvels ==
Here is a chart  (by Olaf Frohn) of all deployed and future space observatories showing their orbits, spectral bands and a graph showing spectral coverage vs. angular resolution for many of them, plus some ground based telescopes for comparison. 
Evidence for a giant tsunami after a rock struck Mars billions of years ago, when it (hypothetically) had oceans. 
Witness the moment when two young stars in the Orion Nebula collided, creating a fireworks display of prodigious color.
Fascinating results from Earth-based observations of an eclipse… when Europa passed in front of Io, revealing how Io’s lava lakes roil, churn and change. 
A new theory proposes that Earth may have arisen from a synestia -- a donut-shaped disk of vaporized rock at some point in time
Does space radiation harm animals? Freeze-dried space sperm -- stored on the International Space Station for 9 months -- results in healthy baby mice. 
Way-cool artist depictions of many other-planetary scenes, based on best-recent news from space. 
Okay are you convinced yet that we have a dazzling civilization? A spectacular and worthy one, we should defend?  

Next time I will dive into how.. . ...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)

How to Get an Old Man’s War eBook Free (in the US/Canada) Through June 21st

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 12:00
Just join the Tor.com eBook of the Month Club! It’s that simple. You ask: “But how do I join the Tor.com eBook of the Month Club?” Well, here’s a link! (Note: After June 21st 2017, you can still sign up for the club, but Old Man’s War will no longer be on offer. Sorry.) You […]

The Big Idea: Michael Johnston

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 08:48
What does it take for a civilization to be “too big to fail” — and can any civilization in fact make it to that particular point? In writing his novel Soleri, author Michael Johnston had reason to consider this particular question, and came to a civilization near the Nile River for inspiration. MICHAEL JOHNSTON: I […]

New Books and ARCs, 6/14/17

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 17:11
Personally I find it reassuring that no matter what, new books and ARCs keep coming along. Here’s today’s stack. What here is on your own personal “to get” list?

Economic and Cyber Pirates

Contrary Brin - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 18:16
== Pirates among us! ==
In “Piracy on the Cyber Seas,” in The American Interest, Adam Garfinkle compares the wave of hacker exploits and attacks to previous ages of physical piracy. He systematically goes through the classic traits of nation states and discusses whether nations can even survive an era when malefactors can act freely, without being subjected to accountability.  It's an interesting read.
Alas, the word “attribution” is sorely lacking, though all of the intel and military guys I talk to are now obsessed with it. If you can attribute bad actions - not only to perpetrators but also to their backers - then you can deter.  Of course, this lies at the heart of Garfinkle’s quandary.
“As for obfuscating or causing to collapse the distinction between the criminal and the political, ransomware attackers illustrate a piling-on to the twin attack on the state ably described in the pages of The American Interest by Nils Gilman. In his 2014 essay, “The Twin Insurgency,” he shows how criminals and plutocrats unwittingly (for the most part) reinforce each other’s attack on the state, each creating forms of porosity the other can walk right through.”
According to Garfinkle, Gilman posits a third force in cyber-piracy, those whose anarchist or doctrinal leanings make them sincere in wanting to use cyberpunk methods and memes to bring down a decadent western establishment: “We may now imagine a triple insurgency, adding modern political pirates to the mix (along with plutocrats and predatory criminals). If it turns out, as I suspect is likely, that many would-be piratical hackers have a political agenda akin to the other well-known transparency saints of our time — Assange, Snowden, Manning—then we will see the concept of hostis humani generis come alive yet again before our very eyes.”

Picture the protagonists of Mr. Robot. Indeed, a day may come when such people are right about needing to bring down a corrupt and oppressive and un-salvageable system. The problem is that romantic twits, steeped in generations of "suspicion of authority" (SoA) propaganda from every Hollywood film, tend to believe such things out of ego, self-flattery and outright delusion attributing tyranical traits to the gentlest, most tolerant and open society ever seen. This bizarre contradiction doesn't matter much, when the brave-or-foolish cyber hero aims for transparency and light shining in dark corners. Assange and Snowden -- one of them somewhat admirable and the other a jerk -- styled themselves Whistle Blowers -- and did trigger some moderate changes and reforms, but generally revealed almost zero information supporting the notion of American Dystopia.
Back to Garfinkle. In his list of attributes of the state, the author leaves out all of our recent, enlightenment innovations:
1- Protecting and enhancing the ability of citizens to take semi sovereign actions independently, under a loose state umbrella and utilizing shared infrastructure.
2- Ending the conflation of the state with its leaders, ensuring that leaders who are exposed as malefactors can be eliminated without harm to the state, and thus ensuring that light is hardly ever lethal to the nation, only to metastacized cells.
Alas, Garfinkle does not consider the weapons that won us the Cold War.  By maintaining moral high ground across the period from WWII onward, we were able to attract defectors from the ranks of the communist adversary. Luring and protecting them became an art as important as espionage.  This same method should enable us to gain attribution within the cyber-pirate communities.

At which point, what you do with pirates is sic on them agents that leave us with plausible deniability.  Privateers.
== The Unseen Revolution that was killed in its tracks ==
And now, on to economic piracy.

I have long been puzzled why not a single business theorist or economist seems to recall what had seemed the elephant in the room, back in the early seventies, which was the rapid rise of labor ownership of capital. During the 30 years after World War II, amid the flat social structure and rapid economic expansion wrought by the Greatest Generation’s Rooseveltean contract, by-far the fastest-growing accumulations of capital were rapidly-vesting union pension funds. 

By 1974, those funds had a portfolio of about $150 billion, compared with a total price for the stock market of under $500 billion, representing 30 percent of the total value of listed companies. In effect, it seemed that simply by getting a fair share of profits — something that Karl Marx proclaimed could never happen —workers were well on their way toward ownership of the means of production.

One author wrote about the implications of this trend, in “The Unseen Revolution: How Pension Fund Socialism Came to America.”  Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005) was considered the top management thinker of his time. He authored over 25 books, with his first, The End of Economic Man published in 1939. What Drucker probably did not expect is that – by pointing out a trend – he played a huge role in preventing its final realization. 
“The Unseen Revolution” made this trend very clearly seen. A youth at the time, I recall reading hand-wringing essays, especially on the American right, by those who dreaded this peaceful, incremental and entirely non-Marxist type of “socialism.” Beyond hand-wringing, the moguls demanded actions to prevent it from coming true. They crafted arguments for the Reagan Revolution, which soon had two effects.
(1) enhancement of revenue to the old, ownership-rentier castes, through major tax cuts justified by the new Supply Side theory and neo-liberal (Chicago School) economists. And
(2) systematic under-funding of pension obligations.
Sure, one could argue that some of number two was necessary to avoid bankruptcy. But number one - from the perspective of forty years of absolute and perfect disproof of an utterly mad incantation - has been a parasitical raid of vampiric proportions. To make the point plain: not once has a Supply Side prediction ever come true. At all. Ever. Even once.
But it succeeded in its hidden purpose. Today, pension funds have accumulated global value in the trillions of dollars, and yet hold a far smaller share of total equity than Drucker predicted. Indeed, they hold far less - proportionately - than in 1975. Of course there is a reason for this, rooted in Drucker’s book, which should rank high on the pantheon of “self-preventing prophecies.”
Want irony? America was defying every single prediction of the Marxists, demolishing their confident predictions by reforming and creating an ever-flatter, almost classless society while retaining vigorous, competitive enterprise-based markets. The Greatest Generation - idolized in vague, vaseline-smeared abstract by the Trumpites - adored one living human above all others -- FDR - and their social contract worked spectacularly well.  

We only started back down Marxian paths with Supply Side “reforms” that followed Karl’s description of oligarchic depredation, to a T.

No wonder Google searches for “Karl” and “Marx” have been rising rapidly, lately and young people can be seen reading works we had thought consigned to the dustbin of history. Those who most vigorously have claimed to despise Marxism have been most instrumental in seeing to it that his famous “spectre” is fast rising again, from the grave.
== The Arctic grows critical ==
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. But amid rapid climate change, Vladimir Putin is setting Russia up to take advantage of new shipping routes and oil deposits.  “The scale of Russian military and economic activity—driven in part by a national mythology and pride rooted in its northern identity—means that, regardless of U.S. policy, there is competition for Arctic power and resources. Benefits accrue to early movers, and the U.S. is not one of them.”
Russian officials’ rhetoric about its Arctic presence, coupled with military re-entrenchment, has been less than diplomatic. “Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister and director of Putin's Government Commission for Arctic Development Issues, has called the 1867 sale of Alaska a “betrayal of Russian power status” and has said that the Kremlin has a “right to reclaim our lost colonies.””

Yep. They're comin' for Alaska!  And you sourdoughs asked for it.
More than 4 million people live north of Earth's Arctic Circle, nearly half of them in Russia and the rest scattered among the seven other northernmost countries—the U.S., Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.  Have look at the distribution of Russian bases, including new ones, ringing the Arctic.  The U.S. Navy is deeply concerned. And there are no climate denialist cultists in the US Naval Officer ranks.  
== Miscellanea ==
Math proves that gerrymandering is deliberate cheating.
See the faulty numbers behind Trump's proposed border wall.
The horror… that hilarious send-ups should be so accurate: “Russian Officials Scrambling As Plan To Delegitimize Western Democracy Moving Way Faster Than Intended.”  -from The Onion.
Oh, and then, as the Vice-President tries to distance himself... "Pence began laying the groundwork for his own political future. On Wednesday, Pence filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to establish the Great America Committee, a leadership political action committee that will allow him to raise money for his political interests and make donations to down-ballot candidates."

I keep telling you folks. Pace yourselves.  Early impeachment would be a disaster!
The New Orleans mayor’s brave and moving speech about  the relocation, off of public squares, of four confederate monuments..Though a bit long-winded, he makes powerful points, especially that the Confederacy was wrong, wrong and wrong and we are all better for remembering just how wrong.  
I would quibble on one point. One particular virtue stood out from the general moral turpitude and awfulness of that atrocious “cause." That virtue was martial valor and ingenuity at war. Damn good fighters, them rebels. And I do not mind measures taken to note that one admirable quality, in the context of everything else. Sherman willingly acknowledged the fortitude with which Confederate troops battled for a cause: “though that cause was among the worst for which men ever fought.”
== Back to modern pirates! ==

It's still being fought. The new commandant of the US Air Force Academy can expect a rough reception from the surrounding hotbed of radical Christian fundamentalism – Colorado Springs. Indeed, it has long been known, even openly avowed, that such groups try to inveigle and suborn the service’s tradition of non-sectarian and adult secularity. But if any officer can ease the USAFA out of this trap, it will be Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin, former B-2 pilot and former commander of the Second Bomber Wing, who arrives soon with her two children and her wife. And yes, I put great faith in the stature, maturity and enlightenment-loyalty of our officer corps.

But of course, you will hear me remind you again and again: as redder political fortunes wane, they will seek distractions!  Even excuses for a clamping down. A Reichstag Fire. A Gleiwitz or Tonkin Gulf incident. What they really want is War with Iran. It would give the Saudis, the mullahs and Putin everything they want, along with all of those loving high oil prices. 

A blog commentator pointed out that back in 2001, Iran elected a moderate secular government and seemed poised to throw off the rule of the Mullahs. George W. Bush chose right then to start making noises about "the Axis of Evil" and sabre-rattling at Iran. The nation promptly retreated to the imagined safety of religious fundamentalism, a turtle pulling its head in.  And why shouldn't the GOP be secretly friendly to the mullahs and hostile to a democratic Iran?  Remember that the Mullahs destroyed Jimmy Carter and opened the way for Ronald Reagan. 

Today's GOP owes the Ayatollahs everything.
. . ...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: Steven R. Boyett

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 07:49
A World War II bomber gets sucked through time and space — and that’s the easy part of Fata Morgana. What was the harder part? As Steven R. Boyett explains, it’s everything else that he and co-writer Ken Mitchroney had to build up around that initial big idea. (Disclosure: As you can see from the […]

New Books and ARCs, 6/12/17

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 16:34
Hey, do you like books?  (This is a rhetorical question. If you are at this particular site and don’t like books, I really don’t know what to say to you.) Here are some new books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound in the very recent past. See anything you’d want to add […]

Two View of Tonight’s Sunset

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sat, 06/10/2017 - 21:56
Both pretty good, if you ask me.

What's interesting in science & tech?

Contrary Brin - Sat, 06/10/2017 - 15:52
Let's take a breather to look at one thing that's still going great -- among many in our maligned and under-rated civilization -- the pace of scientific and technological discovery, for example:

Facial recognition has progressed to a point where "dysmorphology" - the diagnosis of rare diseases - can be accomplished (initially) by computer analysis of a child's or adult's features.  This could be a valuable addition to the tools that we pioneered in the Tricorder XPrize contest, enabling quicker diagnosis and care in the field. 

Of course, it also raises chilling awareness of how far facial recognition tech has come... and how utterly useless will be any vain efforts to ban or restrict the technology.  Especially when it becomes capable of some degree of lie detection.  These tools will either be monopolized by elites (leading to Big Brother forever) or else used by all of us to hold accountably lying politicians and so on (Big Brother never.)  You decide. Better yet, see these possibilities explored by brilliant authors in Chasing Shadows.
Speaking of facial recognition, how about a dinosaur that is so well preserved that it “might have been walking around a couple of weeks ago,” as revealed in this spectacular find of a nodosaur in Canada. Skin, scales and yes a face.  “As it lumbered across the landscape between 110 million and 112 million years ago, almost midway through the Cretaceous period, the 18-foot-long, nearly 3,000-pound behemoth was the rhinoceros of its day.” 
== Innovative ideas ==
Elon's latest startup - The Boring Company - wants to dig tunnels under cities that can convey you past street traffic efficiently and end congested jams. Dang. (In fact, I worked a bit on this, thirty years ago with an idea for a "resonant-frequency drill" that was impractical then... but maybe it merits a fresh look?)
Physicists at the University of Houston have discovered a low-cost, efficient, and easily available catalyst that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen, using solar to power the electrical current used to split water molecules and produce hydrogen for energy. 
Amazing innovation? Or long-ago predicted in sci fi? Introducing “hearables” that consist of two waterproof earpieces, each equipped with a speaker, microphone, gyroscope, accelerometer, 27 biometric sensors, and a 4-GB hard drive in the right earbud to store music. Okay, soon. But present day hearables can already track your body temperature and heart rate, interface with a smartphone, allowing you to answer a call with a lift of the chin and shuffle your music with a few shakes of your head. Hearables also let you search the Internet just by speaking out loud — like an Amazon Echo that follows you anywhere.
Yes, I portray something prescient and similar used in my novel Existence, interfacing with augmented reality specs. (I also posit people won’t shout commands but instead use tooth clicks and “sub-vocal” larynx signals. In fact, the latter was forecast in Earth (1989). 
In a rather shocking experiment, Chinese researchers grafted the head of a smaller rat onto a bigger one while keeping the brain safe from possible damage due to blood loss. Their technique could one day be useful for human head transplants. Just don't get too excited.  The grafted head is alive. But it does not control the host mouse's body.  Good luck with that step.
So cool! And here's the latest from Boston Dynamics. Another dazzlingly weird and impressive robot. Google just sold BD to SoftBank, a Japanese conglomerate.
ITIF president Robert Atkinson has released a paper disproving the nostrum that technology has been destroying jobs at a faster pace, recently. An interesting report.  

== Space Stuff ==
Boeing: Deep Space GatewayHumans heading to Mars? In March, President Trump issued a mandate for NASA: get humans to Mars by 2033. NASA developed a detailed plan for reaching the Red Planet, identifying five intermediate phases -- starting with six SLS rockets to deliver components of the Deep Space Gateway (DSG), a new space station to lunar orbit.  A gateway to Mars, this cis-lunar station is a rare example of republicans actually overlapping interest with others! Many Republicans want to return to the moon (for reasons never clearly explained.) Others, including most scientists, would use the DSG to retrieve and analyze asteroidal resources that could make us all stinking rich. 

I propose a third use... offer the DSG in lunar orbit as a base to stage moon landings by all the wannabes out there who are eager to plant footprints on that (for the near future) utterly useless orb. Profitably sell services to the Chinese, Russians, Europeans, Indians and billionaires desperate to take short strolls in dust? Sure. 
Back to the NASA plan. Mars is a beacon for us, fine. Just remember. Phobos is likely a former asteroid and that Martian moon could be very important, indeed. 

Oh, but recall (indeed, never forget) that the GOP and Trump have ordered NASA to stop looking at the least interesting planet.  Earth.
More space!  Here’s a new video about the HoloLens augmented reality system being used in JPL’s rover mission:   An intriguing hypothesis that a Cold Spot in the universe - observed in the cosmic background radiation maps, cooler than the ambient average by a whopping cooler than its surroundings by around 0.00015 degrees Celsius - was caused by a collision between our universe and another bubble universe.
== Biology & Health ==
A new statistical study has found 52 genes that have at least a partial effect on human intelligence.  An interesting article on a very difficult problem. But can we please see correlations with autism and other disorders, as well? It is curious when you look at august mental-giant families, like the Huxleys, how often disorders accompany the gifts.Memory performance decreases with increasing age. Low dose Cannabis can reverse these aging processes in the brain. Hey, stoners, that’s LOW dose. Take note, you guys, who can’t remember (wow, man) where you put the car keys. Seriously. Toke only on weekends. Any more and it's an ambition destroyer.
Sometimes an urban legend medical treatment passes scientific tests with flying colors. According to a meta-analysis of three randomized controlled trials, zinc acetate lozenges may increase the rate of recovery from the common cold three fold. On the fifth day, 70 percent of the zinc lozenge patients had recovered compared with 27 percent of the placebo patients.
Okay you want weird? “A common parasite that lives in fish eyeballs seems to be a driver behind the fish’s behaviour, pulling the strings from inside its eyes. When the parasite is young, it helps its host stay safe from predators. But once the parasite matures, it does everything it can to get that fish eaten by a bird and so continue its life cycle.”  Actually, this has been known a while.  See this SMBC cartoon that makes a biting point… with which I wholly agree.Many parasites can change an animal’s behaviour to fit their own needs. Mice infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, for example, lose their fear of cats – the animal the parasite needs to reproduce inside.  Many species of wasps lay eggs in host ants or caterpillars and the host becomes a slave. There’s been some chilling sci fi, of late. 
The dinosaur-killer asteroid may have struck at the worst place possible.. Worst, that is, except from the point of view of tiny scavenger mammals who then left to us…
Oh but we’re unleashing all sorts of stuff: “As Ice Melts, Dangerous Diseases From The Past Could Rise Again. One more serious thing to worry about as the planet warms.” 
 == Hoaxes and rationality  ==
Heh, this is a good one – another skewering of the postmodernism cult. Oh, sure, you know that I far more often rail against the much more dangerous (for now) fact-hating madness on the entire political right. But real harm is done by a much smaller caste of raving, anti-science loonies on the very far left. (Note the distinction between ‘very-far’ and ‘entire.’) This postmodernist (PM) academic cult was shredded, a decade ago, by the “Sokal Hoax,” in which a PM journal ‘peer-reviewed’ and then published a paper on critical theory that was deliberately concocted to be utter nonsense.
Now it’s happened again, this time in a peer reviewed and published paper ‘proving’ that the male penis is not a reproductive organ but rather an oppressive social construct.
Alas, there is a sad side to this. Any rational view would chuckle and view this as a case of academia cleaning its own house through competitive accountability. But shills on the right will interpret it as proof "all academics are like this,” in promoting their war on all smartypants fact users. Of course, this ignores that postmodernists are allies of the mad right, in shared hatred of oppressive things called “facts.”
Okay now let me step back and be slightly more fair. The Sokal paper was written intentionally to be illogical and meaningless, and hence, its publication was scandalous. The “penis paper’ actually reads in a logical sequence, making assertions that some postmodernists might actually deem persuasive. Yes, it’s completely nuts, like most PM drivel. But this latest "hoax paper" is consistent with their worldview. And hence, I do not deem it to be anywhere near as devastating as the Sokal Affair.
In this context, ponder how, as Mike Gannis put it: “Reverence for word salad is anything but new.”
Here's Reginald Bunthorne's soliloquy from Gilbert & Sullivan's "Patience" ...
If you're anxious for to shine in the high aesthetic line as a man of culture rare,You must get up all the germs of the transcendental terms, and plant them everywhere.You must lie upon the daisies and discourse in novel phrases of your complicated state of mind,The meaning doesn't matter if it's only idle chatter of a transcendental kind.And every one will say,As you walk your mystic way,  "If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me,  Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!"
 And finally....
Well, they’ve built  their Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky. Yeesh.  We truly are beset.                                         -->. . ...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)

Krissy and Daisy Welcome You to the Weekend

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sat, 06/10/2017 - 11:52
Hope it’s a good one for you. 

Comey at the Senate

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 15:54
Hey, Scalzi! It’s me, your fictional interlocutor! Oh, God, you again. You know why I’m here! This is about the James Comey testimony yesterday, isn’t it? Correct!  *sighs* Fine, let’s do this. James Comey testimony! Your thoughts! Well, assuming Comey was truthful and reasonably accurate in his testimony, and to be clear I suspect he […]

Is This the End of Our Hero, Coke Zero?!??!!??!?

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 10:46
Someone just tweeted me, “What do you think of them axing Coke Zero?”, which was not the first thing I wanted to read when I woke up this morning. But rather than panic and set fire to everything in my house at the thought of only having vile Diet Coke to drink when I crave […]

Discerning the Real vs the Unreal

Contrary Brin - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 19:52
Before weighing back into the political morass, let me link to this article on why we seem to be eating – instead of investing in – our innovation seed corn.  Combine with failure of management with foreign theft of intellectual property from the Inventing Nations… plus the War on Science (and every other fact-using clade in American life), and you get an assault upon the wellspring of all our successes as a nation and as a civilization.
Take the 58% cut of the Fossil Energy Office which is not a den of evil, folks. FEO research enabled scores of small players to do the slant drilling that had been limited to Big Boys, like Exxon. The resulting plummet in natural gas price is what made coal virtually extinct in the U.S. and brought us (under Obama) so close to energy independence we could (and did) shrug off threats from petro sheiks and Russian oil mafiosi. Til they bought themselves a White House.

How bad can it get, when the new Trump Budget – in order to fund yet another insane Supply Side tax gift to oligarchs – is slashing research at every level, from cancer and biomedicine to canceling California’s $10 million earthquake warning system. And if that sounds like a petty child taking revenge on a state that did not vote for him,sift through the budget and find scads of other examples. For example, arm-twisting Boeing and Lockheed to move production from Washington and California to (in order to to prop up) failing Kansas, or else lose out on Saudi contracts.
Let’s be clear, this is not “politics.” Under Democratic administrations, gushers of net tax money have always flowed from blue states to red states. Because we are one nation and our brethren have needed help. Oh, but you know brothers. Some are smart and generous. Others….

Only note the latest news. Over-riding a veto by their insane Gov. Sam Brownback, the chastened Kansas legislature has rescinded most of the Supply Side tax cuts for the rich that Brownback pushed for almost a decade. Like every single other Supply Side experiment, it delivered only deficits and pain and red-ink and bankruptcy and pain for everyone except those oligarchs. But prepping for another round at the federal level is the number two reason for Trump's slashing attack on R&D and other federal investments in our future. The number one, of course, is just hate.
== Impeachment redux - and the Great Despotic Axis! ==There was a lot of commentary and feedback from my earlier posting: Don't Impeach! Plus why is Trump really in Saudi Arabia?Regarding the first of those two topics: a Constitutional scholar weighs in with perspectives on why, if possible, we should approach any talk of impeachment with cautious and grownup deliberation.  (And please re-read that posting of mine! Every reason I gave just doubles, every week. Leave Trump right where he is. Seriously.)

Regarding the second topic from that post, some of you offered hope that Rouhani's landslide re-election in Iran might put the kibosh on Saudi-centered drums, beating a call for the U.S. to attach the Persian Republic. The hate-Iran screeches are growing frantic! Some are railing that Iran will attack and conquer the entire Sunni world any minute now... depite being vastly outnumbered, out-gunned and their nearest Sunni neighbor having stacks and stacks of nuclear weapons! 

Oh, but then the connivers can always try a Tonkin Gulf or Gleiwitz Incident, alongside their terrorist Reichstag Fire. And they might get complicit help from the Iranian mullahs, who can see their grip on power gradually slipping away. A nice little war would suit them, too, reinforcing their grip. And Putin would love seeing stupid U.S. attacks drive Iran into his orbit. Winners all around - that is among despots.

Along similar lines, note the cozying of Trump with Ankara... and here’s a basic IQ test. Why is Philippines President Duterte jumping like a lapdog for Vladimir Putin in Moscow? Putin's anti-western axis now stretches from Ankara and (he hopes soon) the mullahs of Iran, all the way past partial ally Beijing to Manilla and... yes... Washington D.C. And if none of you can put the pieces together, I hope and pray our Intel Community has.

== Can we set up a fact-checking service immune to "partisan" charges? ==
The portion of that blog getting the most attention was a small suggestion I made, toward the end, that strong bipartisan efforts be made to develop something the nation and civilization desperately needs – a fact-checking service that is above all conceivable dogma-based reproach. 
Our counter-intelligence professionals are deeply worried about new kinds of attacks upon America by foreign powers that are vastly more sophisticated than the ones that meddled in our 2016 elections. They are struggling to  understand the battlescape of this new information war. “As Americans tweet and like and upvote their way through social media, they generate a vast trove of data on what they think and how they respond to ideas and arguments--literally thousands of expressions of belief every second on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Google. All of those digitized convictions are collected and stored, and much of that data is available commercially to anyone with sufficient computing power to take advantage of it," writes Massimo Calabresi in Time.
This  excellent journalistic exposé takes you through the scary path that this underground campaign of social sabotage has taken — following patterns that Fred Pohl eerily predicted in The Cool War — revealing how our own technologies have been turned against us, and why we are so vulnerable.
What the story leaves out is the central, core fact that ties it all together. For you see, most of these failure modes rely on subjectivity — the ability to sway people with appeals to emotion, group loyalty, crowd momentum and rumor mongering. 

All of these approaches fail when people are calmly willing to weigh facts. So the agenda relies utterly upon demolishing two things… both calm and facts.
In my recent blog posting, I propose four reforms that could be enacted if just thirty mature-adult Republicans joined with Democrats in Congress. But the most important would be to appoint a commission to find some way that all Americans could verify clear facts or refute blatant falsehoods. Clearly, if facts do not start gaining advantage over lies and rumors, we are doomed.
 == Is a truly trustworthy fact checking service even possible? --
Here is how I answered one noted journalist.
I suppose my main point has to do with the much-better alternative to impeachment that might solve so many more things. That would be the Great Adult Republican Defection (GARD), that so many of us have been hoping for, across the last 25 years. Sure, it never happened, despite the ever-deepening spiral into madness on the American right, for a number of reasons.
1. Brain scans show that conservatives have much stronger reflexes for both disgust and loyalty. Hence, millions of them, who wince and admit "Yes, my side has gone crazy" will also grimace at anecdotes about screaming Berkeley protesters, and growl: "But liberals are worse." That is the essential Fox line, nowadays. At the high end, it is the mantra smoothly conveyed by the Worst American -- George F. Will.
2. Republican politicians have been terrorized into tight discipline, first by the Hastert Rule, then by the Tea Party and Fox, and now by the ferocity of Trump supporters.
3. Some, like John McCain and Susan Collins and David Brooks, may now just be waiting for the right time and for the right excuse-narrative.
It's vital that we offer the remnant community of adult conservatives a way to step up that both saves face and will not seem - at surface - to be a betrayal.  I think they might be persuaded to view the deliberate Demolition of Facts - and the accompanying war upon all fact-using professions - as an existential threat to the republic, one that is orthogonal to the left-right spectrum.  Moreover we now know that foreign foes have weaponized lie-based propaganda, making this a matter of national security. See: Inside Russia's Social Media War on America.
At present, both Facebook and Google are struggling to come up with systems to identify rumors and refutable lies, but it's not easy.  
Long ago I saw this coming and proposed a method that would truly solve this, over the long run. But we need something quicker.  (My concept was lead article in the American Bar Association's Journal on Dispute Resolution (Ohio State University), v.15, N.3, pp 597-618, Aug. 2000, "Disputation Arenas: Harnessing Conflict and Competition."  Available on Amazon.  
No, what we need right now is a means to grade fact-checking services and protect them from the standard-reflex dismissal that they are "partisan." This can happen in a number of ways, but they all boil down to seeing the top, venerable sages of grownup conservatism step up to bolster the effort with their reputations.  In addition to McCain, Collins, Brooks, Rubin and so on... envision Sandra Day O'Conner, Warren Buffett and -- yes -- George W. Bush... all backing a temporary bipartisan commission (non-governmental) to come up with trustworthy ways people can refute what's false.
Why would these Republicans do this, joining with eminent Democrats and others? Well, for one thing, it would combat the madness without explicitly betraying their party. They could even say it's for the long term good of American conservatism. (It is.) 
Of course, one can foresee screams of outrage from the Murdochians, calling this an attempt to form a "Ministry of Truth." Hence a counter-narrative must be ready -- e.g. that the commission aims to help design a framework for competitivefact-checking, distributed among rivals and with citizen level involvement. But the framework must have at-top a supervising layer of the most reputable Americans - especially adult conservatives - who can say "these fact-checkers are mostly non-partisan. We vouch for them."
In essence, this restores the old rebuttal rules that Fox fought against, decades ago. Indeed, if I had my way, the GARD would include restoration of those fairness doctrines. But the key point here is that this issue would give the long-awaited (and till-now cowardly) Adult Conservatives a platform to act in ways that are ostensibly not a betrayal of party. An act that could do more for the republic than any other.
My other proposals from that blog posting -- e.g. giving the joint chiefs authority, if unanimous, to passively delay rash presidential orders, or opening the president's appointments calendar, or for moderate senators to vet his appointees together -- all are emergency measures that might ease the panic and pressure, if impeachment talk starts to boil. Those three would demand more guts from McCain & co... more desperation.
But the fact-checking suggestion is different. It is urgently needed, whatever the state if the "I-word." And it could happen in ways that save some face.

. . ...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, 6/8/17

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 17:01
You look like you might be interested in a big stack of books and ARCs, so, hey, here’s a stack matching that very description. What moves you in this stack? Tell us in the comments!

The Big Idea: Catherynne M. Valente

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 08:35
Catherynne M. Valente is one of the most interesting writers in speculative fiction today, not in the least because when she gets worked up about something, she doesn’t just yell about it — she creates art about it. This explains her latest, The Refrigerator Monologues, and now Cat is here to explain it to you. […]

This is a Terrible Pun and I’m Ashamed of Myself for Thinking of It

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 07:58
But not so ashamed that I won’t share it. And so timely: You’re welcome.

Catching up with Sci Fi News

Contrary Brin - Tue, 06/06/2017 - 15:14
Okay, let's just do a science fiction news roundup!

The rebooted Omni-Online has featured Ten science fiction books that "changed the genre forever." While flattered to be included on this list - I'm not sure I deserve to be.
Ray Kurzweil’s “Accelerating Intelligence” site has featured Preparing for Our Post-human Future of Artificial Intelligence -- my rumination about our future in a roboticized world.  Can AI be taught ethics?  And can we arrange things so that doesn’t matter? I suppose this is one of the essays that led to the recent (and weird) analytical listing of some "David Brin" fellow as "top influencer in AI."
In addition, the Kurzweil site offers capsule reviews of my novels: Kiln People and Foundation's Triumph.
News in. Science Fiction author Allen Steele is recovering from major intestinal surgery.  He says that he's "in awe of the state of medical science that can keep me alive when only a decade ago I might have been a write-off. Instead of one year, I'm told I can expect another 10 to 20. Time enough to write a few more novels, at least." See his latest novel, Arkwright
Our gain, pal.  I gotta admit, I am almost as glad of this - for his value to our civilization - as I am for a colleague and friend.  My recent posting -- extensively shared by thousands -- offered long, verbatim quotations from epic science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, revealing his amazing prophecy of an America falling into perilous failure mode. But it’s not the only one dragging dead sci fi authors into modern struggles. This article hearkens to “The Trump-like terror lurking in Asimov's Foundation.”
Reminder: there’s a website dealing with "Brin Predictions" that tracks how well I’ve done with forecasts or visions in novels like Earth or Existence.  So hey guys, whenever you see a big hit - or fail - in prediction by me, do feel free to drop by and rank me!
One big hit recently was in nonfiction.  Preparing an update of my “Big Threats” presentation for the Naval Postgraduate School, I came across a 1998 slide discussing methods that nations have used against their foes, in “hot,” in “cold,” and in “cool” wars. And right there listed was “potential subornation of our national leaders by hostile powers.”  I recall back in 98… and again especially  in 2004… mentioning this at the CIA and getting blithe smirks, as if such a thing could never, ever really happen.  Even though it’s ancient in the playbook of dirty rival tricks.  Who’s smirking now, guys.  Um… not me.
Scientist, public speaker, and author David Brin joins Hank Garner’s podcast, talking about Why he wrote a murder mystery first, moving the plot along in science fiction, writing believable stories, the Costner adaptation of The Postman.. and more.
Another Brin compendium fansite.
See this 1986 flyer for my first book signing at Forbidden Planet in London.
Robert M. Pirsig, who inspired generations to road trip across America with his "novelistic autobigraphy,"-- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance -- died in April at the age of 88.  I was of an age to immerse myself in the marvel of his book, which seemed a far better approach to philosophical transcendence than the fantasies of Carlos Castaneda… and Pirsig helped me to question the west’s silly obsession with that merchant of smug delusion, Plato.
Indeed, the main character in my story “Senses, Three and Six” (from The River of Time) was inspired to a large degree by  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
==   Sci Fi weirdness in real life: we’re reality TV for aliens! ==
People are prank calling President Trump's new office to report illegal "criminal aliens" — just not the type of "aliens" President Trump had in mind when he created the office.
What a weird species we are.  Seriously? The top Fermi Paradox theory in the "Zoo Hypothesis" category is that we provide reality TV for aliens! I wrote about this satirically in Existence. Only now it seems a decent explanation for Donald Trump - that he was meddled into office in order to boost ratings. Here are other examples:
Oh, my.  This Argentine man is spending a lot to permanently alter his features and become… an elf.
Jiminy. Please don’t click on anything on this page. Just scan to be amazed that sci fi weird tales have a completely new venue in bizarre paranoid scenario-building. I mean yeow! Six of the dead Challenger astronauts are alive and working under their own names, and in prominent public positions. Without even a figleaf theory as to why anyone would have concocted the plot or gone to so little effort to conceal it.  It hurts behind the eyeballs. 
Speaking of which... okay you want weird? “A common parasite that lives in fish eyeballs seems to be a driver behind the fish’s behaviour, pulling the strings from inside its eyes. When the parasite is young, it helps its host stay safe from predators. But once the parasite matures, it does everything it can to get that fish eaten by a bird and so continue its life cycle.”  Actually, this has been known a while.  See this SMBC cartoon that makes a biting point… with which I wholly agree.
Many parasites can change an animal’s behaviour to fit their own needs. Mice infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, for example, lose their fear of cats – the animal the parasite needs to reproduce inside.  Many species of wasps lay eggs in host ants or caterpillars and the host becomes a slave. There’s been some chilling sci fi, of late.
A blog community member, Paul S-B, refers you to these delightful succulents whose bulbous leaves look like dolphins!  

I give one minute answers - by voice, on your phone - to your questions via the Askers App

== Writer Biz ==

Watch. This inanely meddlesome California law will simply be adjusted or canceled Meanwhile, it will be used as an anecdote against liberal over-regulation. Well, it is! But that’s the point.  It won’t stand. “The legislature recently expanded its autograph law (which formerly only applied to sports memorabilia) to include any signed item worth over $5—including books.  Under that law, sellers must produce a certificate of authenticity and maintain detailed records of every sale for seven years.”
Bah, never let it be said that the left is completely lacking in idiots. They just don’t run the movement, as is true on the right.
Two new sci fi shows that look like fun. Well, the trailers are, at least.... One seems a spinoff or steal from Galaxy Quest.   

. . ...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: A. J. Hartley

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 06/06/2017 - 08:47
In today’s Big Idea for Firebrand, author A. J. Hartley explains that when it comes to worldbuilding, like Ringo in the Beatles, he gets by with a little help from his friends. A. J. HARTLEY: The core of the Steeplejack series, the idea at its heart, came out of the collision of two smaller ideas […]

How dangerous is Republican manic-depressive disease? Both bipolar phases are destructive, but the manic ones kill.

Contrary Brin - Sat, 06/03/2017 - 23:30
== A weaponized narrative ==


Joel Garreau writes about how our latest strategic worry – “weaponized narrative” -- seeks to undermine an opponent’s civilization, identity, and will by generating complexity, confusion, and political and social schisms. It can be used tactically, as part of explicit military or geopolitical conflict; or strategically, as a way to reduce, neutralize, and defeat a civilization, state, or organization. Done well, it limits or even eliminates the need for armed force to achieve political and military aims.

“Far from being simply a U.S. or U.K. phenomenon, shifts to “post-factualism” can be seen in Poland, Hungary, Turkey, France, and the Philippines, among other democracies. Russia, whose own political culture is deeply post-factual and indeed post-modern, is now ably constructing ironic, highly cynical, weaponized narratives that were effective in the Ukrainian invasion, and are now destabilizing the Baltic states and the U.S. election process.”
Garreau continues: “By offering cheap passage through a complex world, weaponized narrative furnishes emotional certainty at the cost of rational understanding. The emotionally satisfying decision to accept a weaponized narrative — to believe, to have faith — inoculates cultures, institutions, and individuals against counterarguments and inconvenient facts.”
Let me add that I've talked about weaponized narrative for decades. A couple of months ago I gave an extended, three hour mini-course on "Threat Perspectives" at one of the military/intel colleges, and drew gasps from the audience, when I showed slides from 1998 presentations, describing methods that might be used against us in the future.  These included "imposition of disinformation upon the U.S. populace" and "subornation of elements of U.S. leadership castes." And yes, those slides were part of presentations to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and other groups, way back in the last century. 

And no. Nobody listened then. They assumed I was talking sci fi, even though these have been standard methodologies ever since Sun Tzu.

As the train conductor chided in the movie Top Secret: "I warned you... (a lot more than) TWICE!"

== Rationalized war ==
Under the Bushes we had “neoconservatives” or “neocons” like Wolfowitz, Nitze, Perle, Adelman, who concocted rationalizations for both Iraq Wars and the quagmire in Afghanistan. These followers of a bizarre emigre philosopher named Leo Strauss openly admitted that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with terror attacks against the U.S. or its interests, or ever had Weapons of Mass Destruction. 

When pressed, the neocons proclaimed that their goal was for America to assert its imperial power, not in the wimpy, mostly-peaceful ways established by Marshall, Truman, and Eisenhower, but by imposing our will directly upon the world.  That word — “will” — was used with such frequency that many of us were reminded of Leni Reifenstahl.
A surface frosting that was supposed to make this palatable? The notion that our forceful will would impose, teach, and justify democracy around the world, finishing the job that began with the fall of the USSR. But when pressed, the neocons’ favorite catechism was taken straight from Leo Strauss, “we’re an empire; we should act like one.” (Never mind that this was the way of thinking that had torched Strauss’s European homeland, wreaking hell on Earth and turning him into an ingrate-refugee.)
Ah, but the neocons’ time in the sun was brief. As pain from the bungled Iraq and Afghanistan wars set in, George W. Bush and the GOP turned on the Straussians with stunning speed, tossing fellows like Wolfowitz, Perle, Adelman, Nitze and so on overboard, just as soon as their stock of rationalization incantations were no longer useful. 

That briefly-manic, sick-but-utopian era swung to the other side of U.S. conservatism’s bipolar disease, a more typical grumpy cynicism, in which the GOP’s sole purpose became to prevent action of any sort, especially if it might benefit the nation with Obama getting credit. Hence, except for Supply Side vampire guzzles for the top 5000 families, almost  no negotiation or legislation was allowed. Especially not infrastructure repair, which would have released high velocity cash into the lower middle class.
Oh, but pendulums swing. Now the Republican Party is back in power and signs of a fresh manic phase are abundant. Senior military officers can read these tea leaves and are deeply worried, as men like Steve Bannon make grand, new, “philosophical” declarations in favor of violent, imperial over-reach -- above all yearning for war with Iran.
The newest, manic rationalizations no longer speak of “spreading democracy.” That neocon patina of democratic proselytism is gone. Now, Bannon and his alt-right buddies foam with their own brew of teleology, racism, confederatism and apocalyptic yearnings.  

There are layers to this bitter new cake. Underlying it all is yet more supply-side-vampiric craving, the will of the party's masters. Next, the dominionist-endtimes thing is very real, and would take priority under any President Pence (take note, you "impeach now" fools).  Another layer is the "deep state" meme of hatred toward fact-centered public servants. And finally, there is "cyclical history" -- the utterly disproved insanity pushed by yet another Strauss (&Howe) in a cult incantation called "The Fourth Turning."
These Crazy Years were cogently predicted in the 1950s by Robert A. Heinlein.

== Do I exaggerate this manic-depressive Republican syndrome? ==

In this article,  Flemming Rose describes a meeting with Bannon that sounds strikingly similar to press interviews with neocons, back in early, pre-911 days of the G.W. Bush White House, frothing with justifications for a coming rampage of American imperial power. Specifically, Bannon rages that we are “at war with Islam," despite the fact that we so vastly overshadow that world, in power, wealth, science, technology culture and numbers that comparisons are ludicrous. Oh, and our  parents endured more pain and casualties during any one week of World War Two than we wimps have, across the entire War on Terror.  And those parents never panicked, screeching as these neo-neocons do.
To be clear, Rose knows about Islamic Terror:  I was the target of Islamist ire for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. But a war against all Muslims is not the solution.”
Rose soon discovered that War against Muslims — very likely a trumped-up assault against Iran — is only a means to mobilize the nation and take firm hold of our military, not the end in itself: Bannon is angry. The object of his anger is the “globalized elite.” He argued that Trump is just the beginning of a rebellion that will grow increasingly aggressive in the coming years. In a way, he told me, Trump is not the real thing ― only a premonition of what will ultimately come. “Just wait and see,” he said.”
Oh, please read those Heinlein quotations, again and again.

Another passage makes clearer the passionate — manic phase - the spirit of ordination and transcendentalism that has returned to the halls of the White House: 

“Ronald Radosh, a social historian affiliated with the conservative Hudson Institute, wrote recently about talking to Bannon at a book party in November 2013. According to Radosh, the guy who is now Trump’s chief strategist proclaimed himself a “Leninist.” According to Radosh, Bannon explained his Leninist tactics this way: “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
Further: “What disturbed me the most in our conversation was Bannon’s apparent belief that violence and war can have a cleansing effect, that we may need to tear down things and rebuild them from scratch.”
The thing about transcendentalist mystics is that they make such declarations without being able to cite even a single example! All of our progress, across the years since 1776, has come from the positive-sum efforts of mature, calm, negotiating adults and builders. Yes, we have had to fight, at times.  But always against the guys who want to ‘tear-down and cleanse.’
In fact, the specific target chosen by the Bannononites is not the point! He is very clear about his ultimate goal. And -- washed free of all disguises and trappings -- it is to be Nathan Holn.

. . ...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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