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The Big Idea: Claire Eddy, Ibrahim Al-Marashi, Anoud and Dr. Zhraa Alhaboby

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 09:56
Here in the US, our fate and fortune was tied up in Iraq for many years. But what does the future hold for that country now? Iraq + 100, an anthology of Iraqi science fiction, offers several views of possibilities. Now, the acquiring editor and three authors from the anthology talk a bit about the […]

Fogbow!

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 08:51
The conditions are not usually right around here to capture a fog bow in a full arc, but this morning I got lucky and also had my phone camera with me. It records panoramas, which was useful because the fog bow was just too wide to be captured in the usual 16:9 frame of the […]

Sunset, 9/14/17

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 09/14/2017 - 20:44
Nestling in behind the clouds.  Hope you’re having a great evening.

The Big Idea: Axie Oh

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 09/14/2017 - 10:51
From traded video tapes to the printed word, author Axie Oh’s debut novel Rebel Seoul has had quite the journey. Here she is to tell you how it all came together. AXIE OH: The “Big Idea” for Rebel Seoul was super soldiers, specifically female super soldiers, but let’s go back to the beginning. In 2001, […]

19 Years

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 16:38
Today marks the 19th birthday of Whatever, and once again I’m left to reflect that it’s a hell of a thing to be doing anything for as long as I’ve been writing here. Nineteen years ago today was four presidents back; Krissy and I lived in Sterling, Virginia; Athena, who is now in college, was […]

The likelihood of war

Contrary Brin - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 15:27
While nature flails at us - from hurricanes and quakes to solar flares - we all know that  we're in far greater danger from ourselves. (And, of course, we humans are responsible for some of nature's fury, too.)  So I feel compelled to use this soapbox yet again, drawing attention,  to the increasing likelihood of manmade hell, unleashed by an unbalanced leadership caste.

Elsewhere I discuss the deep-underlying syndrome of Republican Bipolar Disease -- generally a depressive determination to block every negotiation, obstruct all deliberation, ensure gridlock and castrate the mature, pragmatic society that the Greatest Generation built. For 20 of the last 22 years we've seen the laziest and least productive Congresses in history, holding fewer days in session, hearings or bills, while breaking records for fund-raisers. Indeed, Donald Trump himself - desperate for an accomplishment - has been attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose sole priority since 1995, along with Dennis (friend-to-boys) Hastert and Rupert (employer of perverts) Murdoch, has been to prevent the functioning of politics as a problem solving tool in the United States of America. In response, McConnell blames Trump's political inexperience that led to him setting "excessive expectations." 

Unintentionally, this reveals a clash of syndromes. While Donald Trump is in a perpetual state of narcissistic mania along with the alt-right media that support him, for most Republican voters and politicians the normal condition is a glowering stew of indolent depressive torpor. 

These lengthy depressive phases are crippling. But far worse are the inevitable-recurring manic phases, when Republicans turn their suddenly frenetic eyes to war.
== It's off to War we go ==
While the actual President of the United States of America spouts purple threats that exactly mirror those of Kim Jong Un, we tend to forget that there's a much more plausible way that war may come. 

Any attack on North Korea will be so precipitate and escalate so quickly that the likely consequences should daunt even a narcissist-solipsist. Even if every single nuke and missile is taken out -- and remember the N-Koreans have been digging, like mad, for 60 years -- there are still something like 10,000 artillery tubes in sunken, reverse slope revetments aimed straight at Seoul.  With or without nukes, the entire city will be crushed or in flames, within minutes of any order from Pyongyang. Now mind you, there is a potential upside here. China has chortled and enjoyed its position in all this for a long time, knowing that the U.S. can't do much about it. But When Trump makes noises just like Kim, the subtext is: "Hey, I'm just crazy enough to do this!"
No, this is not the conflict that "Trump wingman" Steve Bannon and his ilk have been itching for. Elsewhere I’ve described how an unholy alliance is conspiring together to push for a hot war between the U.S. and Iran

Consider history. Republican presidents always seek a foreign crisisto distract from domestic troubles. And boy, does Donald Trump need a big distraction. The Saudis - who co-own the GOP - want Tomahawks pouring into Persia, as do the less-smart folks in Israel. Steve Bannon and the American Dominionists view this as their beloved, biblically-ordained crisis. 

The Iranian Mullahs themselves would love such a limited "war," giving them an excuse to crush their own fast-rising, educated and moderate citizenry, while knowing that Russia will step in to prevent any real (as opposed to symbolic) damage from U.S. strikes. Of course the biggest winner would be Vladimir Putin; getting Iran as a Russian dependency has been a dream going back to the Czars. Oh, and the Saudis and Russians would get higher oil prices. A win-win-win-win for the anti-democratic cabal.
I’m not the only one who’s noticed this scenario. Read here how a combination of Trump Administration adults — Mattis, McMaster, Tillerson, Kelly and the Joint Chiefs have managed — so far — to thwart a U.S.-Iran conflict. 

Notice that it is our senior military officers who are foremost in striving to prevent war. Ditzty-romantic lefties who rave obsolete warnings about the “military industrial complex” miss the point. That’s not where today's war profiteers reside. Boeing and Lockheed benefit by building and upgrading deterrents. They don't benefit much, or at all, when the machinery is actually used. Indeed, money flows away from investment in new systems to logistics and support of casualties. It's Bush-Cheney family logistics-companies like Haliburton, Bechtel and Blackwater who raked in billions from the Iraq Wars, via secret, no-bid “emergency” contracts. But even they know the American people have no stomach for another ground war.
The American left needs to get over their reflex loathing of crewcuts. The women and men of the Officer Corps may be our salvation, when Washington has been seized by cranky-confederate toddlers.

On a related topic: I am no fan of Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul, but his recent efforts to get Congress to rescind the 2001 and 2002 War Powers acts deserve praise.  Joining him were Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine and Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, who said it was "way past time" for a vote. (Note that Flake has been a top hate target of Donald Trump, lately.) 

Congress should never give the President such a blank check, to throw us into endless wars at the stroke of a pen. But the danger of reckless abuse is now far greater than ever, with that cranky toddler-in-chief in the Oval Office. Alas, the effort to rescind and replace this carte blanche license-to-attack-anybody in our name failed.

(To be clear: while this vote was not along party lines, blame clearly falls that way. Former President Barack Obama sent Congress a proposed a reduction in his own blanket war powers, in 2015, though neither the GOP controlled Senate nor the House voted on the measure.)
== Glancing back at Korea ==

In the Washington Post, David Von Drehle writes: “regardless of what foreign leaders may think about Trump and his reckless rhetoric, the United States has its own track record in the Asian Pacific. While North Korea has necrotized under the Chinese protectorate, South Korea has flourished beyond any reasonable expectation. The contrast between Eastern and Western influence is as stark at the 38th Parallel as it was at the Berlin Wall, and countries pursuing their own interests will have no trouble choosing sides.”
It’s a very cogent and perceptive piece that you should read.
== Reiterating the point ==
This excellent reporting explores the three former officers Trump calls "my generals" -- Mattis, Kelly and McMaster -- who by any measure are the adults in this administration. Yes, they were from the moderate right wing of the US Military Officer Corps, politically.  But every sign (e.g their erudition, education, science friendliness and fact-using careers) suggests that the USMOC is our best hope for sanity to kick in, when it's needed most.
There are moderate and even liberal wings to the USMOC, though I expect that few are Bernie Bros. No matter. That is where I've long said the Democrats should recruit.  Not just candidates for swing congressional districts, but as many as 5000 retired officers to run in every deep-red state assembly district.

 And you can do your part, by pondering... "do I know such a retired officer I can arm-twist into serving, yet again?"

== Always do the opposite == 
There’s zero science behind the administration’s effort to dump the higher gas mileage rules called CAFÉ standards. Even the auto industry’s opposition to CAFÉ is tepid. The standards save consumers tens of billions at the pump, cleaned the air, and propelled American cars to the highest levels of quality we’ve ever seen.  Today’s vehicles are packed with spectacular amenities and comforts, are more efficient and last many years longer (saving additional tens of billions for consumers.) There are no reasons to do this except…
Except the one that motivates Donald Trump above anything else, other than narcissism. And that is reversing anything done by Barack Obama. European leaders even made a game of it!  They found that they could sway DT in one direction or another, dependent on their answers to just one question: “Did Obama favor this?” They found that Trump’s reflex was perfect. Always do the opposite.
He has succeeded in one way. According to Gallup's historical data, the 44th president's approval rating stood at 56 percent this week in Obama's first term, while just 37 percent disapproved—in other words, almost exactly Trump's approval ratings, but reversed.
==  Take on the cult ==
The Climate Denialism Cult is not only stupid and treasonous, it hasn't worked well. Solar power has grown by 100 fold in the last 13 years, Ramez Naam says. It’s averaged around 35 to 40 percent annual growth over the last 20 years. Wind was a footnote in the energy mix 10 years ago, he says. Today, it makes 6% of all electricity in the US. In the sunniest parts of the world, unsubsidized solar is becoming the cheapest form of energy. Lately a deal in Dubai was signed for 2.4 cents a kWh—less than half US natural gas prices and lower than natural gas in the Middle East or Africa. See what my friend and colleague Ramez has to say about this. 
Storage and batteries are still key to making all this work with resilience and reliability, and they are often pointed to as the sticking point. The sun doesn’t always shine, even in sunny places. And for less-than-sunny places and at night, batteries are the vital link, storing away sunlight for later use.
But batteries, Naam says, are also improving faster than you might expect. “Over a 15-year slice of time, the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries tripled, and the energy cost per unit of energy you could store, dropped by a factor of 10,” he says. And there are a number of other more “exotic” battery technologies on the horizon.
(Side note: a “vaccine” against climate denialism? No joke.)  
To be clear: 

(1) I do not diss climate SKEPTICS who challenge this or that part of the problem. My friend Freeman Dyson drew undeserved ire for poking at a number of studies and "premature conclusions" for technical or procedural or logical faults, as did Berkeley Prof. Richard Muller. I defended them, because science thrives on adversarial accountability. Despite Fox-slander that scientists are conformist lemmings, most are among the most competitive humans our species ever produced.  
What these genuine skeptics have done is carefully distinguish themselves from the denialist cult's insanity, saying many of the things that I recommend here. If YOU want to claim you are a genuine "skeptic" - not a cultist - then you need to read that piece and ask yourself some questions.
(2) Notably, genuine skeptics do not move their goalposts! Muller laid down a set of falsification tests that were clear and achievable.  Later, when those test goals were achieved, he proved his honesty by announcing: "Okay, I am now convinced that human-generated effluents are changing the climate in dangerous ways."
(3) Denialist Cultists do none of those things.  They see nothing hypocritical about spending one decade screaming "there's no warming! We're heading for an ice age! Glaciers are increasing!" Then the next jeering "there's been no net-overall warming since 1997!" using as their baseline the then-hottest year in human history. (Some of the worst are still spewing that outright, bald-faced lie, despite the fact that each of the last 5 years was hotter than all previous ones.)
Then it shifted to "All right, it's warming. But humans can't be causing it!" Only - despite efforts to sabotage satellites, fire scientists, slash research and ordeing NASA and NOAA to look away, counter-proof towered into a mountain, and so...

... and so now GOP senators are seriously pushing the line that human-generated Climate Change is real and huge... but a gooood thing! 

Often the same imbeciles and/or shills will bounce around among these varied incantation-riffs and back, in the same day. Occasionally the same speech. Now why would they do that?
Simple. They are not about the facts or science, they are about policy. Specifically, preventing science from affecting national policy. That is why Newt Gingrich banished the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). It's why Trump has appointed no science advisor and almost zeroed out the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)... and why Ryan and McConnell have their sights on the Congressional Budget Office. 
If facts are allowed to affect policy, then the interests of the GOP's owner-oligarchy will be threatened. And hence we understand the underlying reason for the Fox-Limbaugh-Jones-Breitbart campaign to turn the ire of ill-educated white males away from their class enemies and real oppressors, over to hating "smartypants." All the folks who know stuff. All of them. It worked when a million confederate white males marched to die for their oppression plantation lords. It seems to be working now.
But then:

 (4) they didn't count on real America fighting back. Along with the world, innovating and sending the price of sustainables plummeting. A little help from Clinton and Obama went a long way, giving solar, wind etc a momentum that's now unstoppable, offering real hope of saving the world... and now the Kochs' sunk costs in coal mines are vanishing, as if in smoke.

== The war on fact is a war on you ==
"In the battle between facts and fake news, facts are at a disadvantage. Researchers have found that facts alone rarely dislodge misperceptions, and in some cases even strengthen mistaken beliefs.” 

But there is hope. Research suggests that strategic inoculation with tools of critical thinking  could create a level of “herd immunity” and undercut the overall effects of fake news. When about 100 study participants were presented with the misinformation alone, their views did further polarize along political lines. But when another group of participants were first warned about a general strategy used in misinformation campaigns the polarizing effect of the misinformation was completely neutralized.
Read about the methods, because you — yes I mean you — are an important agent in this struggle to retain a scientific or at least rational civilization.

And be prepared to hold on tightly, as the Idiocrats try to foment war.
. . ...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: TR Cameron

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 12:46
We all make mistakes — but as TR Cameron recounts regarding his new novel Trespassers, some mistakes are bigger than others. TR CAMERON: What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made? Thinking about my own contenders for that title is a nightmarish undertaking. I relive countless relationship blunders, work miscalculations, and poor life decisions. It’s […]

The Big Idea: Susan Forest & Lucas K. Law

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 09:10
Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law tackle a topic in The Sum of Us that I wouldn’t have considered for an anthology of speculative stories. But the fault here is mine, not theirs, and in today’s Big Idea, the explain why their particular topic served as fertile ground for this collection. SUSAN FOREST: My father, […]

A Surprising Consanguinity, Starring Me and Chuck Wendig, Featuring Neil Gaiman, Mikey Neumann and Athena Scalzi

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 17:07
It begins thusly: The internet was made for this. 10 SOLID HOURS of Yakkety Sax. Turn your whole day into a Benny Hill sketch: https://t.co/3eslvlaBFY — Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) September 11, 2017 CITIZENS OF THE INTERNET: Neil Gaiman wants you to drive yourself mad. Don't give into his NEFARIOUS plan. Or do, I'm not your […]

New Books and ARCs, 9/11/17

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 16:06
Let’s start off the week right, with a big ol’ stack of new books and ARCs that have arrived at the Scalzi Compound. See anything here you like? Give it a shoutout in the comments.

The Death of an iPod Nano

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 13:09
Folks, let’s have a moment of silence for my wife’s iPod Nano, a fourth generation version of the machine, which finally called it a day after nearly nine years of service, which in this age of planned obsolescence, is an impressively long run. Krissy went to wake it up this morning to run on the […]

The Big Idea: Catherynne M. Valente

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 08:36
And now, some of the most famous authors in the English language show a side that you probably never knew about — and Catherynne M. Valente uses that side to build up her latest novel, The Glass Town Game. CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE: So let’s say you’re a geeky kid, like any other geeky kid. School […]

Which John Scalzi Novel Should I Read First?

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 15:33
I get asked a lot by people new to me (or new to my fiction, anyway) which novel of mine they should read first. I have a long-winded answer to this that says, well, I write nearly all of my books to be read as stand-alones, so no matter where you start you should be […]

Resilience Technology Part II: Simple measures to thwart possible collapse

Contrary Brin - Sat, 09/09/2017 - 17:09
Soon I will post about the passing of my colleague, science fiction author and unique American Jerry Pournelle. And of course much of what I post about today will be altered after we see what is wrought by Hurricanes Irma, José and Katia.  But this series conclusion is already prepared.

And it is about preparedness.

== What holds us back ==
There have been nasty pundits contrasting Houston’s recent experience with that of New Orleans during Katrina, snidely implying that some difference in civic character was responsible -- with possible racist implications. These nasty ingrates, of course, are ignoring the fact that a goodly part of the Cajun Navy – heroically swooping in to rescue Houstonians -- came from NOLA and surroundings, in all races and colors. 
Was the difference one of better preparation? For all their mighty virtues, Texans blatantly do not elect politicians who believe in foresight, preparation, planning, or even sapience. Houston's famous hatred of zoning and building codes blatantly contributed to tens of billions in damage that we'll all be paying for.

But in fact, we now know what may have made the biggest difference between Katrina and Harvey.
It seems that breakdown of the cell phone system was a chief factor that exacerbated every problem during the Katrina Crisis, crippling citizens of New Orleans from organizing themselves or collaborating with first responders. In contrast, partly due to post Katrina efforts by Verizon, AT&T and the others, cell systems in Houston proved more robust, serving people in many districts when they needed it most. And yes, this was also a matter of pure luck. 
Which brings up a pet peeve. For this entire century (so far) – and then some – I’ve said we could double North America’s resilience with one, simple reform…  demanding that phone-makers and cell providers give every unit the capability to pass along text messages peer-to-peer.
One anecdote from the Fukushima Disaster tells of a woman who was trapped and later found dead of dehydration in a basement. On her phone were dozens of outgoing texts. People had been walking and driving by for days, but the cell towers were down. If their phones all had a backup peer-to-peer texting capability, those messages would packet-hop until they reached a cell tower; then they go out to the world.
== Peer-to-peer text-passing. Small step; huge implications ==
The capability is inherent to “packet switching,” the underlying tech of the Internet, and hence we have known how to do this for 50 years. In fact, those clever tech innovators at Qualcomm have already incorporated this basic capability into their chips!  Qualcomm’s Matt Grob told me that P2P modes:
1.) Are now standardized (published in the 3gpp cellular standards.)
2.) They have done extensive tests/trials with partners – “it works great!”
3.) P2P capability has been developed to commercial trial grade.
Matt avows that much further work would be needed for AT&T phones to share texts with Verizon phones. But even if you were limited to one company, this could be a life-saver. Suppose you were a Verizon subscriber in an afflicted area, your send help texts could hop from one Verizon phone to the next until someone reached a working cell tower, at which point all the texts stored on her phone would leap forth across the planet.
Two important considerations:
FIRST - If we were to do this, we would gain unbelievable robustness. Take an extreme case: a hypothetical disaster that took down nearly all cell towers across the continent. Set up a few repeaters across the Great Plains and the Rockies, and Peer-to-Peer text passing (P2PTP) could give us a crude telegraphy system – just via texts hopping from phone to phone all the way from Atlantic to Pacific, uniting the country during any level of emergency. P2P telegrams. The Greatest Generation did pretty well with less.
== Well then, why the heck not? ==
It sounds blatantly simple even obvious. And yet, all calls for implementation of this emergency utility have been met with skepticism or opposition from the likes of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and even some device makers. All know what Qualcomm’s chips are capable of. And not one of them will turn the service on – not for the profit-potential or for the common good.
This article talks about their myopic obstinacy… and hopes that Hurricane Harvey might budge such unimaginative and unpatriotic fools. Though in fact, the report is about a much more timid thing that response agencies have asked for -- simple enhancement of the one-way alert system. We shouldn’t be satisfied with such measly steps; that is nowhere near enough.
In truth, there is no good reason for cell-co executives to fight against backup P2P texting! They could program their phones no to do this, if they detect a cell tower! Moreover, each AT&T and Verizon phone could be programmed to report such text-passings and bill the sender a small surcharge! (Giving small rewards to those who pass messages along.) The only net effect would be to gain a small revenue stream from dark zones that their current towers do not reach!
And yes, before many of you chime in, there are attempts to set up grid or mesh networks using Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth or other ways to get around the problem.  Here’s a walkie talkie app.  
Then there’s the Serval Network…. 
… and Fire Chat. 
Jott’s AirChat feature allows users to send data and texts without a connection to the Internet, using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios within 100-feet of each other. 
More recent: with the arrival of Hurricane Harvey, a free app called Zello WalkieTalkie that lets your phone communicate as a two-way radio so long as you have a network or Wi-Fi connection, has shot to the top of Apple’s App Store, making it the go-to service for rescue workers in the Houston area, seeing as many as 7,000 new registrations per minute.
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And people have written in to me with many others. (Feel free to offer more, below. under comments.) So sure, the super-skilled and savvy can already go P2P… and that barely begins to enhance our overall robustness. Not when they are limited to one user in ten thousand, and to places with easy-access WiFi.
No, Hurricane Harvey has made it clear. We need to start putting the screws on your favorite people, the cell phone providers. They could turn on this capability tomorrow! (Well, in maybe 6 months.) And they would gain business, not lose it!  That is, if they have technical brains higher than a cryptobiotic tardigrade.
And if the next disaster brings major losses of life and property -- losses that might have been avoided with a simple, robust comm system? Then it is time to bring out the lawyers. I mean it. Some law firm should start preparing this case, in advance, that a life-saving backup service was available the whole time, and that refusal to turn it on was tantamount to negligent manslaughter. They can pounce and then get 40% of billions.

== Coda ==


It looked like sci fi when a Hollywood film portrayed three hurricanes at a time in the Caribbean area.  Now see a picture of reality

All across Red America, folks tune into the Weather Channel. They make plans based on advanced satellites and storm models, peering days ahead with breathtaking accuracy.  The meteorologists who do this - having transformed the old, pathetic 4-hour "weather report" of my youth into forecasts that are now useful up to TEN days...  these geniuses are very well paid by a wide variety of eager customers from governments to insurance companies to shippers, agriculture, industry... and they have no need for piddling "climate grants."
And yet, lo and behold, all of them - every last one of them - will tell you human generated climate change is real and a danger to your children. The same gas-dynamics modeling equations that they use to track hurricane paths also feed into longer term models that fit global warming exactly. The same equations. They understand and use them. Fox News screeching shills do not. So, where do you get your science?
Dear Texans and Floridians, you have our prayers and comradeship. The nation stands with you.  You show fantastic resilience and courage. But you elect the worst politicians on the planet. Lying, thieving scoundrels who have betrayed you and our country, and your children in every conceivable way. As the media that you watch and listen to has betrayed you, by urging you to hate every fact-using profession. Their incantations are lies and the shiny "squirrel!" distractions they wave in front of you are beneath contempt.
The Republican party has sabotaged and slashed many of the satellites and instruments we need, in order to understand these things. They forbid state officials from looking at changes or preparing for them. They forbid NASA and other experts from even looking downward at the Earth! They scream slogans to over-rule evidence. They lie : "There's been no warming!" and lie and lie and outright pants-on-fire lie to you... and then they get YOU to repeat such outright, insane, dumbass lies.
Please, when the mud is cleared away and the tax dollars that we send to you are spent and when you get some breathing room, consider taking a community college class in some of this stuff? An online course? (See "Hurricanes: a Science Primer.") Visit the nearest university and wander the halls asking people who actually know something about what's actually going on? Ask your smartass niece or nephew. You'll find that fact-people aren't demons or commies! 

 And if you refuse to do any of these things, can we ask at least that you stop pretending you know stuff, just because Hannity croons it at you? American conservatism use to have intellects like Goldwater and Buckley and 40% of U.S. scientists.  (It's now 3% and plummeting.) 
American conservatism does NOT have to be lobotomized and self-destructively stupid. Your movement has been hijacked by monsters - you've been talked into electing them in great, howling packs. 
We're not asking you to become lefty flakes! Or even moderate liberals. We're asking you to take your movement back from lying shills and then bring a rational, science-friendly American conservatism to the bargaining table. 

We'll negotiate, I promise.


. . ...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)

RIP, Jerry Pournelle

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 22:51
Word reaches me by the president of SFWA and other sources that Jerry Pournelle passed away today, in his sleep. This makes it a sad day for science fiction. Pournelle was an outsized voice in the field, publicly often cantankerous and privately quietly devoted to the field, both as a member and former president of […]

New Books and ARCs, 9/8/17

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 16:21
Another September weekend, another stack of new books and ARCs for you to peruse. What looks good? Spill in the comments! (If you need a bigger picture to look at some of the graphic novel titles, here you go.)

The Big Idea: Ferrett Steinmetz

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 12:23
Nerds love the idea of the Singularity, but as Ferrett Steinmetz hypothesizes in The Uploaded, even in the Singularity, the rapture of the nerds is not evenly distributed. FERRETT STEINMETZ: Writers are evil people. You’re walking down the aisle of your wedding, lost in marital bliss, and your writer friend is thinking yes, yes, this is […]

Yes, I’ve Heard About the New South Park Game’s Difficulty Settings

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 13:57
And yes, the game rather concretely makes the “lowest difficulty setting” point. Here’s an article about it. And here’s the video showing it in action: Before anyone asks, no, I had nothing to do with it, and no, I have no idea if the people who made the game read or knew about my article. […]

The Big Idea: Max Gladstone

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 11:12
Cities, sisters and war: Max Gladstone’s new novel The Ruin of Angels talks about each, together and apart. Here he is to explain how it all weaves together in his work. MAX GLADSTONE: Consider two sisters. Kai and Ley live in different worlds, but sit at the same table. They grew up together, but they […]

Sunset, 9/6/17

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 21:28
One long shot, one close up.
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