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The Big Idea: Sue Burke

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 10:20
Got some houseplants? By the time you finish reading Sue Burke’s Big Idea essay about her novel Semiosis, you’ll never look at them the same way again. That’s pretty much a promise. SUE BURKE: Who’s in charge of the planet where you live? Is it you – that is, humans? Maybe. But not everything living […]

What happens to Starman and the Red Roadster? Post your quick-short story here!

Contrary Brin - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 14:13
Okay, on sudden impulse, here's a flash contest for the best very short Sci Fi story about how aliens or future folk might find and misinterpret Elon's Starman Tesla!

The rules:

Maximum 100 words!

Post it below, in this comment section. (Regular Contrary Brin commenters... self restraint please? Keep it short and favor our guests.)

Host retains control over posted content. Prize will be at host's discretion. You are to have fun and only fun.

I may ... maybe ... forward stories to... himself.

Such incentives! Ready, set, go....


(PS thanks for the suggestion, Joe Carroll.). . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and (site feed URL:


Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 13:17
The Pixel 2 is a tough little phone, but it turns out when you drop it from a decent height onto ceramic tile riiiiight on the corner, you may still have a problem or two. A thing to be aware, folks. Fortunately I procured a replacement Pixel 2, and with the transfer of the SIM […]

Oligarchy, emoluments, revelations and our path ahead

Contrary Brin - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 21:01
We'll get to more general and abstract considerations (my strength) in a minute. But first, in this week's fizzing news...
1) The Supreme Court's confirmation of a Pennsylvania ruling against gerrymandering is huge.  See more at bottom of this posting.

2) The infamous Nunes Memo proclaims that some FBI agents might have disliked the President, and therefore potential presidential crimes should not be investigated. (His House Oversight Committee seems determined to do no investigating of its own.) The assertion? That the wiretap that the FBI sought from the FISA court, covering former Trump aid Carter Page, was based on leads contained in the "Steele Dossier," compiled first at the behest of Trump's Republican rivals and then funded by Democrats.
Okay then. The FBI often gets wiretaps based on tips from mafiosi and from jailhouse snitches, but it's not allowed to follow up on leads supplied by... Democrats? Even by mainstream Republicans? 

The crux - mentioned by no pundits or dems - is that investigators and prosecutors - if they adhere to proper procedures - aren't required to be impartial! That's for judges. Investigators are supposed to want to get their man! Ken Starr & co. fizzed with volcanic hate for the Clintons, as did 24 years of GOP witch hunts that spent half a billions dollars (that's with a "B") coming up with almost nothing. But not for lack of eagerness!
Indeed, those eager-but-futile hunts proved (1) the Clintons (almost) utterly clean and (2) dems to be fools, when they helped end the post Watergate Special Prosecutor Law, that gave Starr vastly greater powers and insulation than Mueller has today.
Ending that law was the underlying-clever purpose of the Starr Circus, and the dems fell for it, proving again that the big-hearted, pro-science lugs are - well - 'challenged.' And so, we must now hold our breath, day by day, for when Two Scoops finally fires Mueller.

But Mueller is good. Watch. While Trump & co. fixate on the "Russia Thing," the main course simmers. Racketeering and money laundering. Which leads us to emoluments.  But first, let's set the stage...
== a mile-wide trail ==
My prediction from Earth (1989) and The Transparent Society (1997) -- long overdue, but inevitable -- is that we'd see the seamy underbelly of an oligarchy that's trying to topple our nation and civilization back into feudalism.  An under-rated appetizer was last year's info dump called the Paradise Papers, the latest in a series of leaks made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shedding light on the trillions of dollars that move through offshore tax havens. 

"The core of the leak, totaling more than 13.4 million documents, focuses on the Bermudan law firm Appleby, a 119-year old company that caters to blue chip corporations and very wealthy people. Appleby helps clients reduce their tax burden; obscure their ownership of assets like companies, private aircraft, real estate and yachts; and set up huge offshore trusts that in some cases hold billions of dollars.” 
This is going to take persistence and agility, And rigid dogma will not help.

One major danger of the right's current madness is that the left might over-react, returning to its own past insanities. The Evonomics site is where calm, rational, brilliant scholars & others reveal how cheaters have betrayed not just the poor and middle class, but also enterprise, innovation, genuine market economics, common sense, national self-interest and even Adam Smith! 

The articles and studies get better and better. (I've published a few there.) If your cousin is one of that vanishing breed - a residually sane Republican - take her to Evonomics and tell her: "Only you can save enterprise capitalism from its age-old foe. Not socialism so much, but feudalism."

Which brings me to my question. You’d have to be deaf and blind not to see the signs of a growing movement of American conservatives who are fed-up... not just with Bannon and Putin and their Trump, but with Rupert Murdoch and the insanity promulgated by Clear Channel Radio. Signs are all there - especially among the Mormons - that vigorous conversations are afoot. Could it be about holding a convention of Sane American Conservatives?
If co, then here's a parallel event - the Miracle of 1947. Hey, if the dems could do it, why not you guys? 
Hence my question. Surely some of you have been approached by now? By people desperate to save American conservatism, before it is too late?
On the other hand, never underestimate the supreme power of obstinacy, combined with stupidity and cowardice. So far, none of the "white knights" of American conservatism as shown a glimmer of real courage. Moreover, if and when it is "President Pence," they will hurry to kowtow to a vastly worse madness that could kill us all.
== Emoluments ==
From another great site – the Hannah Arendt Center: “A number of legal historians have filed a brief in United States District Court in a case arguing that President Trump is in violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause ("FEC") of the U.S. Constitution. That clause states that "no person holding any office of profit or trust under [the United States], shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state." 

The Department of Justice, supporting President Trump, argues that "emolument" should be narrowly defined as "profit arising from office or employ." But historians argue that the emoluments clause was broadly imagined to protect against conflicts of interest and corruption.
"The framers adopted the Emoluments Clauses to advance core republican goals: to protect against corruption and the appearance of corruption;  to maintain a balance of state and federal power; and to avoid foreign entanglements with Europe.  The Emoluments Clauses were not a subject of great debate or disagreement in 1787 and 1788. The absence of controversy reflects a broad consensus against the dangers of political corruption. 

"Moreover, the extant voluminous records of debates, particularly those tied to the ratification of the Constitution by the states, demonstrate that in ordinary usage the word "emolument" had a broad range of meanings. It was not reducible to a simple fee or salary."

== Back to gerrymandering ==

There are many important aspects to the Pennsylvania gerrymandering ruling!

1) The refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to over-rule or put a stay on this PA case was issued by Samuel Alito! Indicating that he and Chief Justice Roberts may at last be willing to admit and act against a villainous cheat-treason. They - and Anthony Kennedy - have the fate of our republic in their hands.

2) In Pennsylvania, the state GOP have declared they will not honor the ruling - passively confirmed by the Supreme Court - commanding they redraw district maps away from gerrymander cheating. The claim: that only an assertive ruling by federal court can make them. Of course they are delaying in order to then declare "too late for 2018!"

Only, there is an "impartial redistricting method" that can be performed rapidly, even within a single month. It's my "Minimal Overlap" approach that avoids almost every complaint about redistricting by commission. It can be done swiftly and almost automatically by computer, and the State Assembly will have zero cause for complaints, zero!

Anyway, it's too early to celebrate a defeat of villainous cheater-traitors. Justice Anthony Kennedy must survive! And Roberts and Alito need to prove they have awakened.... and finish this rescue of the American Republic.
. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and (site feed URL:

The Big Idea: Jasmine Gower

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:46
Tedium: Sometimes it’s an excellent motivator. Author Jasmine Gower explains how, and how it helped her novel Moonshine come to life. JASMINE GOWER: The appeal of fantasy is the satisfying escape into the truly impossible, unattainable adventures beyond the reach of even our most exciting moments in the real world. Fantasy provides an opportunity to […]

Kirkus Review of Head On

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 09:36
It’s the first trade review of the book (and, in point of fact, the first review of the book, period), and it’s a good one, and calls Head On “Very clever, wonderfully satisfying fun.” There’s a pull quote for you. And it’s nice to have someone entirely uninvolved with the book give it a thumbs […]

Head On: Tour Schedule and Signed Pre-Orders via Subterranean Press

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:42
Tor has announced my tour schedule on its site, and Subterranean Press has announced that if you order Head On from them, you’ll get it signed by me! Details for both below. Tour: Here are the tour dates on (say that three times fast). The tour runs from April 17th through the 25th. For […]

The end of the 'American Century'?

Contrary Brin - Sat, 02/03/2018 - 18:46
== Shifting Power Structures ==
I've long noticed that each of the last three or more centuries only began to show their "theme" or nature about a decade and a half into them. Culminating in 1918, World War One ended what had been an ebullient century of Optimistic Industrial Europe, that began with the Treaty of Vienna in 1815, which ended the French Century, and so on. Back in December 2013, Bloomberg ran a piece of mine and they insisted I be specific about 2014. But in fact, the pattern seems approximate... but chilling.
Shall we fear that the 2016 election of Donald Trump presages the collapse of the American Century? Certainly, every single action that he takes... and the Republican Party... seems aimed at demolishing the web of alliances built by Marshall, Truman, Eisenhower and so on, while devastating the scientific and entrepreneurial excellence that dazzled the planet. Our reputation as reliable partners, as logical problem solvers and as pragmatic negotiators lies shattered, just as other powers rise up, proclaiming "It's our turn, now."
To be clear, I am no believer in mystical crap like "cyclical history" or romantic pattern-seeking twaddle like "Fourth Turning" generational "theory." But It's all right to experience a "frisson" of worry, as the Concave (or American) Century sure seems to be giving way to something else. We still have time to win this phase of our Civil War and regain our formidable strengths, I believe. But we need to get cracking.
Here is the Bloomberg article, reprinted on my own site.

== Facts are inconvenient ==
Diametrically opposite to his claims, Donald Trump has signed less legislation at one year than any other president since Hoover.  If your dogma is hate-all-government, then why does DT brag so, about a legislative “record” (that isn’t remotely true)?
Where Trump has surpassed most modern presidents is the number of pages of legislation, most of it in the new tax bill that passed with zero hearings, crafted in secret by only two dozen top Republicans and their lobbyists.  Congrats on that.
Dig this. The GOP has run Congress for 20 of the last 22 years, and across that time they were the laziest in U.S. history, holding the fewest (non-Clinton-lynching) hearings, introducing or passing the fewest bills and holding the fewest days in session… but breaking records in days spent fundraising or closeted with lobbyists. Look at the stock value of K Street lobbying firms and tell us about “draining the swamp.”
Now, your values may rank higher some of Trump’s actual accomplishments, such as driving a mass exodus of skilled civil servants, e.g. from the State Department, eviscerating the IRS so that the number of audits has collapsed, and cancelling consumer financial protections. (For example, a hated Obama-era rule that your financial advisor must tell you, when he is guiding you into investments that serve him, and not you.)

If that's you, then you probably believe it actually matters what symbol foreign  agents wear on their lapels. The very same fellows you used to rave about when they wore hammers and sickles, as villainous enemies of everything American, are now great pals -- the very same men -- since they switched to wearing crosses. Dang, got to hand it to them. (The last five minutes of Blast From the Past were prophetic!)
== The (Potemkin) Korean Candidate  ==
Have you wondered how North Korea developed sophisticated H Bombs and ICBMs so swiftly? Those warmongering for a U.S.-Iran fight claim it’s Tehran that’s been helping. This article shows otherwise - that NK lured in rocket and nuclear scientists  who lost their jobs at the end of the Cold War. But it implies the help came one worker at a time. But what if a neighbor of NK had a geopolitical reason to want this present situation?  Consider the benefits of having a puppet regime that can strike at America… while you have utter deniability.  Anyone who thinks the Kim regime has been anything but a wholly-owned subsidiary, since 1950, is naïve.
Berit Anderson, CEO and co-founder of, is a global expert on this subject. Scout broke what may have been the earliest story on how what she calls "computational propaganda" was used by a foreign power's info-war teams in a torrent of well-orchestrated and smartly planned efforts to affect outcomes in both state and national elections inside U.S. boundaries. Today, experts are reasonably certain that the same teams and techniques were used against Britain to affect the Brexit vote, in Spain during the Catalan rebellion, in France, in Germany, and elsewhere.
Worse yet, there appears so far to be no real solution, and politicos are assuming, in public, that all upcoming elections in the world's democracies will again fall under info-attack by the same powers.
As a result of all the above, Berit has been speaking around the world on the issues relating to this direct threat to free speech and democracy, from New York to Lithuania to Brussels, Amsterdam, Estonia - the list gets longer daily.At our recent FiRe conference, Berit was interviewed by the BBC's Ed Butler. Video is available here
== Conservatives: rebuild cred by being “right” more often! ==
In New York, crime has fallen in each of the major felony categories, with just 285 homicides in the city, the lowest since reliable records have been kept. The numbers portray a city growing safer even as the police use less deadly force, make fewer arrests and scale back controversial practices like stop-and-frisk. And what to do with that fact? Point and scream at Chicago! Though the New York trend is by far more typical across the nation.
This article demands “Affirmative Action for conservatives on college faculty." Now I actually like good debates! I want there to be fact-loving and cogently collegial conservative voices on campus! The problem is that they are rare, compared to the prevalence of fact-hating, dogmatic fanatics. 

And yes, there are dogmatic leftists - a problem that is rife, at the 5%+ level - at almost any university; anecdotally a clade of drivel-spinners and even bullies. PC screechers did their own cause vast harm in the 1980s, by driving off campus conservatives like Paul Wolfowitz and his neocon pals, who sought shelter in faux-academe "institutes" like Heritage, where their madness went unchecked by collegial interaction or feedback. Campus sanctimony junkies thus share some blame for the lunatic excesses, when neoconservatives got their chance at policy-making. 

Still, lefty university loons are much more rare than media imply… and that problem certainly won't be helped by adding other crazies “for balance”!
Matthew Reed Bailey offers an explanation “why Liberals are demographically more represented in Academia than are "Conservatives." This has to do with "roughly 80% of Conservative Policies being discovered to be "just wrong" over the last 50 years.” Bailey avows “only in the areas of Free-Trade and Globalization do they "Get it right."  

I would add a few more narrow islands of cogency on the right. They were okay to resist the left’s worst crime/mania of the last generation — the insipidly insane notion of desegregation by Forced School Bussing, which permanently alienated 30 million American voters and led directly to the revival of today's Confederate Coalition. That sanctimonious-drooling madness has never been admitted by a single leftist, for the self-destructive and criminally stupid mistake that it was.

And coming up to contemporary matters, let me prove my contrariness by stepping up and avowing that today’s right is on-target criticizing a democratic policy to emphasize family reunions in legal immigration. Sure it sounds nice, but when you think about it — beyond parent and child — it is flat-out evil. And I mean that word. With the best of intentions, perhaps, it is truly an evil policy! Dems should offer it up as a bargaining chip.

In fact, I invite you to look back at Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America" of 1994, a spectacularly brilliant piece of political theater that helped sweep the GOP into power over Congress for 20 of the last 24 years. If you actually read the "Contract" carefully, about half of the proposals are -- well -- somewhat reasonable. Of course, they are the promises that later gopper leaders -- worse than Newt -- went on to betray. (Still, democrats, study the "Contract" method! It worked. Consider how. And these other suggestions.
== Alas, a sane conservatism should be right more often than that! ==

Beyond that, it’s sad that conservatives - many of whom I like - can never tabulate how often their “side” has been flat-out wrong, and learn from this that they need to revise — not their best-core values, but their reflexes and methodologies and especially who they accept as allies. 

Climate denialism is blatantly a political-dogmatic cult whose ranting rationalizations are funded by coal barons, petro boyars and oil sheiks, using the same ad agencies that promoted "tobacco is harmless" and “cars don't cause smog,” and "it doesn't matter that our bays and streams kill fish and catch on fire!"... all while waging all out war against science and every other caste of knowledge in American life, sabotaging the research we need in order to find out whether humanity and america and our children might be in danger.
The U.S. military is made up of people who tend largely toward a crewcut-conservative personality. Yet, the US military officer corps is also fact-centered. They were the first American institution to realize that racism, and later sexism, boiled down to crippling presumptions that simply wasted tons of talent that warriors could not afford to forego. Likewise, officers know that climate change is a real threat to the republic, just as they know that foreigners meddling in our elections pose real danger, possibly at the level of war.
Alas, sane-adult American conservative civilians can afford the refuge of incantations. Deep-down, they know this is untenable — e.g. that most of the sexual perverts in politics and nearly all the child molesters are republicans. So they have just one recourse: to chant incantations issued by Fox that anecdotal far-lefties are representative of all liberals.  

It is a lie. Anecdotes about lefty-flakery have zero bearing on the vast majority of moderate-pragmatic, science and fact loving Democrats.

There can be another America-led Century. And if so, the next stop in Star Trek. If not, then feudalism, the natural human social order, will clamp on forever.  It all teeters on whether we can over come this tipping point crisis. And it won't happen till the Confederacy is quelled, yet again, and conservative Americans rejoin the actual conversation about our future.

== Listen to fact-people ==
Captain Mark Kelly (US Navy, retired) is a combat veteran and former NASA astronaut and brother to the American who stayed in space for a year. He writes: “This year has been an unequivocal disaster for the future of the planet.” He is very clear about what’s happening. Tell your mad uncle to look him up.  
. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and (site feed URL:

New Books and ARCs, 2/2/18

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 02/02/2018 - 17:44
The books and ARCs keep coming, and this week we have a very fine stack of them. See anything here that sends a thrill to your eyeballs? Let us know in the comments!

Tech obsolescence? Universal Basic Income? And the Age of Amateurs

Contrary Brin - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 22:47
Thought provoking for the coming weekend: Stewart Brand’s “Long Now” reflections about which aspects of our world change rapidly... and which more slowly... and how this can help us grapple with vital issues, like education.
One from my own such list: About a century ago, John M. Keynes prophesied that rising industrial production would pour forth so much wealth with such automated efficiency that the forty hour week (just then coming into fashion) would be reduced to thirty hours, then twenty, as jobs were shared and and the working class got more leisure time. 

As it happened, there was a vast world out there that still needed to industrialize, and the West’s appetite for ever-more goods kept factories and mines etc. humming hard for all of those decades. Indeed, the developing world uplifted itself primarily out of the spending by Americans and others, of trillions of dollars on mountains of crap we never needed. A strange - and by far the most successful - kind of foreign assistance. And yet it never threatened the 40 hour week.
But there’s something on the horizon. A century forestalled, the era foreseen by Keynes seems about to dawn, with automation appearing about to render most kinds of human industrial employment wholly or partially obsolete. Indeed, many white collar jobs and even creative tasks seem prone to takeover by AI systems. Local production of goods and food may end the long chains of container ships crossing oceans, an ecological godsend, but perhaps tipping the world economy into convulsions.

Yes, there will be job losses... accompanied by vastly improved ability to produce anything humans want.
If the Keynes era dawns, then we’ll face decisions:
- Who will own the means of production and the cornucopia that pours forth? If it is a classic, feudal pyramid, then exploitation and unfairness are guaranteed, followed by revolution. But it needn’t be that way.
- Will paychecks be replaced by UBI or Universal Basic Income? Or else by giving every citizen a “share” in these urban factories and farms, so they can live off dividends?
- Either way, how will folks spend their time?  We are already in an under-appreciated era of hobbies, pastimes, avocations and amateur sagacities. There are more blacksmiths and sword makers in the U.S. today that in the Wild West or European middle ages.  In my novel Foundation’s Triumph… and separately in EARTH… I posited an Age of Amateurs, and it is already here -- almost completely ignored by pundits, economists and jeremiad-spewing pessimists.

But… will that suffice for all people?
- If all of this happens under the guidance of Artificial Intelligence, will they help us to design better ways for a better era?  And will we agree with those super-minds about what “better” means?
== Getting better all the time...==
A living human may spend a whole life earnestly improving. He or she may become among the wisest of our wise.  Then they die.
The one thing that can improve cumulatively... and after 6000 years of feudalism, we finally did start to do it... is civilization.  We are better, stronger, more perceptive and knowing and -- yes -- wise than all our ancestors. As the best of those ancestors would have wanted!  (Indeed, if they failed to make this happen, then that indicts them as unwise! The best compliment you can pay the "Greatest Generation" is to admit that they made America even greater, and then greater still.)

This rising path is not because of some leftist historical imperative. Nor is it the right's insane teleology of so called "cyclical" history. It is the result of several Enlightenment inventions like reciprocal accountability, that foster positive sum games. Those games mean that a civilization that outlives human members can grow wiser than the sum of its parts.
Fanatics hate this concept! They want the individual human soul to be the only thing that matters.  Zero sum. You get to be a lord or a peasant. You're "saved" or spend eternity in some sadistic hell. But if there are positive sums, then there is something better, greater, more important than one egotist's soul. That more important thing is... us.
I believe that. Hey, let's admit that I have an ego the size of the sun! And yet, I avow that I'm relatively unimportant. There are things worth dying for. And we are building them. Together.
One of you reminded us of a quote  quote from Joan Vinge, in her prize-winning novel "The Snow Queen."
"Indifference is the strongest force in the universe. It makes everything it touches meaningless. Love and hate don’t stand a chance against it. It lets neglect and decay and monstrous injustice go unchecked. It doesn’t act, it allows. And that’s what gives it so much power."
== Miscellaneous items of interest! ==
Your Biases: This site offers a poster of hugely important wisdom about the ways we fool ourselves. These are somewhat different than "logical fallacies."  They overlap, but are separate things. (The same folks offer a logical fallacies poster.)
Onalytica: This site specializes in tracking topics and traffic in order to trace who are the biggest "influencers" in each of several dozen fields.  Imagine my surprise when their influencer chart of Artificial Intelligence (AI) had a familiar face at the very center of the mesh.  Oh, this isn't the first group to reach a similar metric-conclusion about my place in the discussion.  I just find it rather... well... not entirely plausible!
Still, there's a need to rock any set of comfortable assumptions, especially in such an important field. And poking is what I do...  Let's all poke away! 
Poor millennials! Here's a good story on the millennials' challenges and economic changes. More than a bit whiney, but there are legitimate complaints. And yes, the ones I have met are better people than boomers! And yes, that is to the credit of boomers and X-gens! Because we were clearly great parents.
Forget doll houses! This New York exhibition offers miniature landscapes and cityscapes with moving cars and people and a variety of techniques.
The ‘500 mile problem’ is especially acute between LA and San Francisco. It will be a decade before the Super-High Speed Train is completed… or Elon’s alternatives get traction… and the airport hassle is nasty.  So a new company is offering luxury sleeper busses that deliberately slow down to keep the ride smooth and so that you’ll get a full 8 hours.  
This Goop Shaman cleanses your wardrobe of evil spirits. Some people simply have too much money. It's our duty to relieve their burden. The bigger picture? This was “wisdom” in 99% of the societies our ancestors lived in. Enemies of the enlightenment want to bring back this darkness… and not all of them are on the mad-right.  The left has its… (sigh.)
A philanthropy prize award winner Community Warehouse sells high quality, donated construction materials and staffs the operation with ex-offenders. Taking a page from Costco, the organization is members-only and offers low-prices to members, which include landlords in the neighborhood. Through its straight-forward operation, the Warehouse serves ex-offenders, the neighborhood, and repurposes materials from construction sites all while running a business near break-even.
Separated at birth? We all run into or spot humans who look a bit like us. Lots of folks used to comment on my (I think vague) resemblance to Andre Agassi. Now some say I’ve got “a total Peter Gabriel thing going on.”  PG is a hero of transparency who has funded Project Witness for decades, so that’s cool.  I wish I had a voice like his.
Proclamations of doom are perennial flowers which have sprouted in the garden of human imagination since earliest times. Oracles appeared whenever turmoil caused nations and peoples to feel uncertain about the future. From ancient Sumer, to India, to Iceland, astrological portents used to set off recurring waves of public hysteria. In honor of the coming (or not-coming) Rapture event... may I reprint an article of mine from the last century? It seems even more relevant today. Alas.
== And More miscellany of interest! ==

Here's a very tiny sampling of past apocalypse ravings. Maybe 0.0001%.  In case you missed the reason. Here's the latest silliness. There has got to be a way to corner guys like this into making a bet on it! Better yet, go to his followers and offer pet-care contracts... we'll take care of your pets after you rapture. But pay in advance!
Yipe! There actually are “after the rapture pet care” sites! They cover a whole range. This one is hosted by (they assert) rapture believing evangelists whose apparent sincerity is only exceeded by their stunning hypocrisy. They guarantee that their volunteers are unbelievers who won’t be saved… and who will nevertheless sign up to do this – without any vetting or listing of those ‘volunteers’ by location or any guarantee they actually exist. Never mind that. The trusting folks who register (for a $10 fee, kept by the organizers) can then dismiss all worries from their minds, content that some damned-but-generous atheist or Jew will slog across the apocalypse, with blood pouring from his or her eyes, to care for your cat (when there will be vastly more urgent calls for compassion, nearby), and do all that for zero compensation. Never mind that you prayed daily for Armageddon to bring this suffering to anyone not exactly like you. Rest assured that these vetted martyr-saints will handle everything for Fluffy, while dodging seven-eyed scorpions and Beasts and lion-horses…
…as stunningly depicted in this fabulous, terrifying/hilarious web comic by Patrick Farley.   

But… wait… what did I just call those volunteers? Could that mean what it seems to mean?
Possibly less of a scam are sites created BY the non-saved, who treat it as a business venture that can be enforced and supervised by the rapture-saved folks' Jewish (and presumably left-behind) lawyers.  
On a lighter note. Some of you may recall that GLORY SEASON featured – along with feminist genetic engineering and other marvels – a rustic version of Conway’s Game of Life. Here’s one more simulator to play with.
Now... rise up and believe again! Lovely. Procul Harum in 2006 doing “Whiter Shade of Pale” with a pops orchestra.
And end on a note of enjoyment. Entertaining…. Best stunts of the year.  And we’re supposedly decadent?   Age of amateurs, indeed. We are beyond amazing. We're amazingly amazing!
-->. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and (site feed URL:

Attention: Book Name Change for The Widening Gyre

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 13:47
The Widening Gyre, the second book in the Interdependency series, is getting a name change to: The Consuming Fire.  Please note it for your records. (Also note: The Last Emperox, which was formerly the tentative title of the second book of the Interdependency series, until I changed to The Widening Gyre, now The Consuming Fire, […]

The Collapsing Empire and Don’t Live For Your Obituary on the Locus Recommended Reading List

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 11:08
Any year in which a work of mine makes it onto the Locus Recommended Reading List is a good one (for me, anyway). This year, I’m happy to say two made it: The Collapsing Empire and Don’t Live For Your Obituary, in the Science Fiction Novel and Non-Fiction categories, respectively. How cool is that? Answer: […]
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