Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"Sovereignty" and a world-wide rush toward Putin-ism

The key word from Donald Trump's United Nations speech - "sovereignty" - should trigger alarms. That word — repeated 21 times in the 40-minute speech — has been widely discussed by politicians, pundits and the media, focusing on how Trump’s U.N. speech bounced between conflicting impulses "to the point of incoherence." In paying homage to American generosity on the world stage, for example, Trump cited several U.S.-funded global health programs... that his administration has cut. He praised the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II, even as he repeatedly vowed that the U.S. role in nation-building is finished.
Alas, I know of no one in media who has pointed out the most blatant thing about the "sovereignty" riff. It is a core catch phrase of Putin-ism. Along with "traditionalism," "western decadence" and "western false democracy," this mantra is recited by every national leader who has slid into the Kremlin's orbit, an anti-democratic axis that now stretches from Ankara, Tehran and Belarus across Asia, all the way to Manilla.
The fact that the same words are spouted by Islamist regimes, by Russian Orthodox czarist-nostalgists and by Marxist despots in Venezuela and Cuba reveals that this isn't about "left-vs-right" in any classic sense. It is about Oligarchy's last ditch effort to end the Great Enlightenment Experiment, before it is too late.
Of course "sovereignty" is not inherently an evil term - that's why it can be effective as a Trojan Horse. There's nothing wrong with a nation pursuing its own enlightened self-interest. But there are layers you'll not hear about from shallow media.

1. Deep context. The principal divide in American politics is not specifically racism or sexism, as horrible as those are. Nor (again) is it classic "left-right," not when competitive entrepreneurship and market outcomes always (and that's absolutely always) do better across Democratic administrations. The core isn't even the Republican War on Science and every other fact-using profession. 

All of those are epi-phenomena of the battle over horizons -- whether we're a culture that looks ahead toward future times, that confidently explores newness in knowledge, technology, goods and services... and one that expands horizons of inclusion. 

The last of these has always been a major American project, ever since Washington and the Founders repeated the achievement of Pericles, enlarging the council of enfranchised citizens from a 0.01% nobility to the 20% who were white, land-owning, English-descended males. During Andrew Jackson's Scots-Irish-Appalachian revolution, this circle expanded, as it did (with setbacks) with every generation that followed, leaving Periclean Athens in the dust. That circle now (imperfectly!) encompasses the largest fraction of resident adults of any civilization, reducing both injustice and terrible waste of talent.

None of these inclusion expansions came easy! No other issue has been as forefront in America's continuing (now in phase 8) Civil War. There was always a large minority who resented change and especially being chided with guilt trips. These neighbors of ours - often very decent folks - have horizons that are closer-in and more zero-sum. For a majority of Trump supporters, the sub-text - after being hectored to change their old-comfy habits in so many successive causes like LGBTQ and transgender bathrooms - is "stop nagging me!"

You can see where "sovereignty" and nationalism and nativism come in here. Everything is relative, to near-horizon folks. Within the context of America, everything is red-state vs those awful, oppressive, city-slicker blues. Within a context of the world, everything is America. And nothing is more suspect - more of a symbolic threat to their horizons - than the United Nations.
(Blatantly, if there were an alien threat, those horizon markers would shift!)

2. Why is "sovereignty" so important to Putin and other members of his axis? Because there's nothing more frightening to them than the rule of law. All of them have constitutions which - if properly followed - would threaten their positions of power and control over national wealth. Having seized their own nations' judiciaries and police, they fear three potentially lethal external threats -- intervention by international court systems, attacks by human rights NGOs, and actions taken by this era's still powerful imperial economic/military/cultural power... Pax Americana.

Those three threats have motivated "sovereignty" whimpers for decades. But things have changed, now that Vladimir Putin's long-sought anti-western alliance is firming into place. Moreover, in a coup of staggering proportions, they now have some unknown degree of sway with the constitutionally installed leader of America, who (coincidence?) is using domestic politics as a surface reason to proclaim the very same meme. 

Parse the U.N. speech with care. Note that his bluster is a tantrum of weakness. Because a confident pax power has no need to cry out "sovereignty!" What's normal is that the era's pax power is the one being accused of violating sovereignty! And sure, being mightiest hasn't always made the U.S. right... it's made huge mistakes! But on balance, Pax Americana has inarguably been by-far the best 70 years in all of human existence. No nation - when tempted by imperial power - ever used it with anywhere near as close a semblance to actual wisdom, or such net-overall positive outcomes. 

Anyway, it is the US president's job to make that case! Not to moan that 'we're not so special, after all!' Who is going to respect a pax power that whines? 

Moreover, note that while Trump did not did not discuss climate change, nonproliferation, human rights or the Middle East peace -- all of which were paramount to every past Republican and Democratic president, he did complain at length about “unaccountable international tribunals and powerful global bureaucracies” that sapped the sovereignty of nations. Donald Trump's message is to assert that the U.S. is a victim of the same international system resented by Putin, Erdogan, Khamenei, Lukashenko, Duterte and others. 

Do not think for a moment that the Kremlin lost value in its White House "asset," just because there's a Mueller investigation. They have been stymied in some ways -- the Crimea sanctions remain in place and adults have re-taken some U.S. national security posts. But they will keep trying to use their suborned national asset... as (I assert) the Saudis did with theirs, in 1991 and 2001.

3. Do not see Donald Trump's low credibility as a victory. A central argument of Putinism is Western Decadence. Elsewhere I have shown that every single zero-sum enemy of the American Experiment has pushed the exact same message -- that Americans are rich, happy, exploratory and have fun, all at the expense of some terrible sacrifice. 

Unable to grasp the concept of positive-sum, all of them claimed that yankees traded away manhood, virility, soul, fortitude, etc. in exchange for toys. The British in the 1770s, confederates, nazis, stalinists, jihadists... all have pushed exactly the same line, forcing Americans to disprove it, at great cost, every single generation.

They specifically deride democracy, either by spewing insanely wrong lies like the Tytler Calumny, or touting the nonexistent virtues of "traditionalism and hierarchy"... or else proclaiming that democracy is always a sham. That popular will is always perverted by cheating, so why not be open about it? (See: "Is democracy hopeless?")

 In pushing this line, the Putinists get help from our home grown confederates, but also from liberals who leap upon every Trumpism as a refutation of legitimacy. Let's be clear, Donald Trump is a Putin-axis "asset." But they don't mind him making a mockery of himself, so long as it de-legitimizes democracy.

I could go on. There are so many undercurrents that no one discusses. And of course that is the Putinists' greatest victory. They have even our brightest so busy reacting viscerally and instantly to superficial things, that only the schemers, themselves, grasp the big picture. Alas.

ADDENDUM: As it happens, I'm not the only one to notice how Donald Trump's U.N. speech mirrors the core elements of Putinism.


== The path to chaos  ==

Lest you dare to try to suppose that Donald Trump is the “disease” and not the biggest symptom of and ailment that spans the last 25 years, see this diagnostic closer-look: How America Went Haywire, by Kurt Andersen in The Atlantic. 

“President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community. People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality … That’s not the way the world really works anymore.”

This madness has been deliberately concocted. The war against all fact-using professions has steadily broadened and now includes the few that had previously been exempt… the “deep state” experts in the intel communities, the FBI and law-enforcement, and the U.S. Military Officer Corps. (Name one exception -- a fact-centered profession not hated-on by the risen confederacy. I challenge you right now.)

A side thought. The smartest folks I know see the stock market surge as the run-up to a crash. Still... I just read about how DT might save himself. It is scary. There’s talk of a tax holiday for U.S. corporations to bring home trillions stashed overseas. If DT just does that, then the money will all be spent on useless crap like stock buybacks and asset bubbles. But populist Trump MIGHT proclaim ”You can bring it back tax free if it all goes directly to U.S. jobs.”

It’s something he might do.  And it could prevent the 2018 recession.  Scary that there’s a scenario for him to get something right, temporarily.

== Map the Crazy ==

Want a map or rogue’s gallery of the factions in Donald Trump’s White House? (See this attempt from The Washington Post.) We know that Steve Bannon’s  neo-blackshirts made a tense alliance with The Family - the Kushner-Trumps - to use a Wall Street front-stabbber (the Mooch) to oust Olde-Republican Reince Preibius, before moochie’s towering offensiveness and ineptitude became too much even for Trump, who then fired him as a price for hiring General John Kelly to grab the reins in that madhouse.

The Washington Post
And yes, Kelly presumably is allied with NSC Chair and former general H. R. McMaster… but not another general (Flynn)….. Yipe!  

Then there are the Underminers! Listen to the black shirts howl that the second, third and fourth ranked folks in the White House are rife with leakers and others who dare to put other loyalties (like to the country or their children) ahead of sworn allegiance to POTUS. Okay, the cited article tries to map out some of it…

…and fails miserably.  The author’s categories suck, in my opinion. (For example combining a crazed warmonger, Putin-puppet and Bannon-ally (Flynn) with the conservative but desperate grownups McMaster and Kelly who are (one prays!) close to their adult peers in the Officer Corps.  Likewise, the map does little to show the Goldman-Sachs roots of so many. The Kushner-Trumps are their own category (forget “New York.”)  And the Olde-Republicans should show their ties to Olde-Money. And the links to Rupert Murdoch are crucial! Seriously, where are the asterisks and dotted lines leading to either Fox News or Russia? And the Saudis?

 Above all, the recently ousted Steve Bannon and Sebastian v. Gorka are not “conservatives”!  They are fascists in the old and dictionary-pure sense of the term – romantics with a fierce dedication to symbolism, cyclical destiny, national purity, volcanic hatred, disdain of expertise and (let's repeat the central trait) utter romanticism, in other words every single litmus test of fascism, by the book.  (Not the silly strawman images of that word that are bandied loosely and careflessly by lefties.)

Moreover, VP Mike Pence is no classic Republican, either; Dominionism is his central trait and that End-Times obsession makes him and his faction the most dangerous of all. 

Now that I am pondering it, this map is calamitously dumb except for one thing, it gets you arguing - as I just did - and learning about some of the faces who aren’t in the news.

Keep a link to this map! (And my criticisms). After all, I may be wrong, wholly or in part.  And we’ll need every navigation aid we can find. For another convoluted map, see the Los Angeles Times take on: How Steve Bannon became the face of a political movement.  Do not imagine he is irrelevant now!

Jiminy while we’re at it, how about mapping the crazy-complex loonies in the Cabinet and chairing committees in Congress?

== What about the audit? ==

Democratic politicians are nearly all dingbats who cannot parse an opening, even when it’s laid before them. Sure, some maneuvers would take courage and imagination – like my “Short Straw Proposal.” (Has Chuck Schumer recently read my proposal?)  But others just require a little common sense and a few spare neurons to rub together. For example –

-- Donald Trump refused to show us his tax returns “because they are undergoing audit.” But first of all, the two are not linked! Legally or in any other way. The one has nothing to do with the other.

Second, why did no one demand verification from the IRS that an audit of every Trump return, across the last ten years, is underway?  Sure, there’s confidentiality. Perhaps IRS cannot do that without Donald Trump’s permission. So? Should not voices have risen, across the spectrum, demanding that DT give the IRS permission to confirm the very story that he was telling?

Above all, some democratic leader should have said: “I’m sure the IRS will be willing to cancel your audit, sir, in the national interest and at the request of all political parties. Just make the request, openly and publicly, and we’ll see if the IRS complies. Can you give us any reason why you’d not do that? Get yourself off the hook from an IRS audit that you blame for your lack of candor? Who wouldn’t do that?”

And finally, since DT has slipped around all of those approaches – because no democrat was smart enough to try them – then how about demanding the appointment of an independent ombudsman to look over the auditors’ shoulders, to ensure the audit is handled properly, and no advantage is given to the President?

Of course all of this is probably obsolete, because Robert Mueller has likely subpoenaed the tax records by now. They are almost certainly being sifted, as we speak… during the short time that Mueller has left before being fired.

== This will be a harsh phase ==
In honor of the courage, resilience and determination of the people of Houston, I will leave off with a quotation from Sam Houston, urging his fellow Texans to stay calm and not go along with the mob rush to secession:

"Some of you laugh to scorn the idea of bloodshed as the result of secession, but let me tell you what is coming….Your fathers and husbands, your sons and brothers, will be herded at the point of the bayonet….You may after the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, as a bare possibility, win Southern independence…but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of state rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction…they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South. ”

There is much more, from a mighty Texan-American. 

And in that spirit, here's your Halloween costume. Order soon. They may run out. Walmart has pulled the gray version but you can still get one for your mad uncle. Get him to come out. It'll be healthier for us all. 

121 comments:

NoOne said...

A clarification: AFAIK, Stephen Miller has not been canned. He reportedly wrote Trump's UN speech.

Here in the south (Gainesville, FL), I've had conversations with a few "sons of the soil" (during hurricane clean up when we all came together). They definitely pin the rise of economic inequality on a nexus between coastal liberals, multinational companies (fB, google, MS etc.) and Wall Street. This focus on economic inequality is the good side of right wing populism which you should encourage some more IMHO.

David Brin said...

NoOne I am fine with liberals pointing out that the beneficiaries of every Republican policy are the same oligarchs who oppressed our ancestors for 6000 years and who our parents, in the Greatest Generation, rebelled agains along with their favorite human being, Franklin Roosevelt.

Yonatan said...

Trump always excel at poking bears with weirdly phrased Rhetoric Sticks

Dan said...

Ahaa! Rhetoric Sticks really

Steven Hammond said...

So, this is a query that may be on point and maybe isn't regarding the cultural rift in America.

So, I was cooking dinner tonight and put on some music listening to Simon and Garfunkel with songs like The Boxer and America. These are profound and iconic songs by Jewish Americans and I thought about how much this minority has contributed just in the realm of music. What do white supremacists think about them and Bob Dylan? Is he excluded from their musical and literary canon?

I then put on the youtube recording of Jesus Christ Superstar and was discussing with my wife how groundbreaking that was back in the 70s. She mentioned how Gosdpell was also something she heard constantly as a child. Day by Day is one you'll all know.

In any event, I had to watch some of the videos and neither Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar are dogmatic at all. They may have been on the liberal end of Christianity, but why was that inclusive, hopeful message shut down? I know, growing up in Christianity at the time that it was a wonderful, hopeful time (except for the coming apocalypse that Hal Linsey let us know about in The Late, Great Planet Earth.


How could there be two major plays/movies about Jesus--emphasing the the positive bits--in such a short period of time and yet Christianity and people fell back on the same insular, exclusivist and anti-intellectual stance they had 100 yrs before? And theology they had 600 years before. This may tie into the whole optimism of the period regarding civil rights etc. as well, I suspect.

What went wrong? I'm not as concerned about why we don't have flying cars in 2017 as why MLK's dream hasn't come true--and maybe that of Jesus in the plays of the 70s.

David Brin said...

StevenH... it's for similar reasons to why evangelism shifted from the words of Jesus to the hate-drenched Book of Revelation. A seige mentality. Instead of reaching out to the world, hunkering away from it.

Jumper said...

I have had Neil Diamond's America running through my head recently. I don't know if it speaks well of the song that this old rocker likes it, or if it means I have too much corn in my diet. But there it is.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZlaBOE06es

Tim H. said...

Jumper, one of the things I liked about Cheech Marin's "Born in East L. A." was the use of Neil Diamond's "America" in the soundtrack. The United States, a melting pot, and better for it. Better yet if we could persuade influential "Preacher Creatures" to soft peddle the darker bits of scripture...

Tony Fisk said...

Just because someone of this establishment has been fired doesn't mean they're gone. A tool for obfuscation; the shell game is much favoured by oligarchs.

LarryHart said...

An aside: I'm still enjoying the heck out of "Psycohistorical Crisis", which was recommended on this list. It's been over a month, and I still have half of its 700 pages to go.

Which brings to mind a question for the people on this list (I believe there were at least two of you) who will only read a book if they can do so in one setting. I can't imagine trying to read this novel in that manner, or even understand the impetus to do so. To whoever asked rhetorically, "If you like the book, why would you want to stop?" I have two rhetorical answers:

1) If I like the book so much, why would I want to be done with it?

2) I want to stop because I have to eat, sleep, work, see my daughter's band play, make love to my wife, and other stuff like that. And with the hour or two that I have free in a day to do so, it's nice to have the book to come back to.

I understand this is a "two different types of people in the world" thing, and my point is not to be critical of others, but to genuinely seek understanding. In your minds, does it really take away from the experience of a long novel to put it down and come back to it between living the rest of your life? Is the necessity for a single sitting enough that you would forego reading an enjoyable novel because it's too long to read in one sitting? I'd love to know how that works for you, because I'm just not that guy. I'm a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

LarryHart said...

At noon today, it will be exactly eight months into the Trump University administration.

Inauguration Day comes in 1218 more days. Just saying.

Robert said...

Not only is the Washington Post diagram, as David pointed out, somewhere between useless and poor as a guide to the Trump Circus, it's also completely useless for getting around Boston.

Bob Pfeiffer.

LarryHart said...

Steven Hammond:

I then put on the youtube recording of Jesus Christ Superstar and was discussing with my wife how groundbreaking that was back in the 70s. She mentioned how Gosdpell was also something she heard constantly as a child. Day by Day is one you'll all know.


I grew up Jewish, so "Jesus Christ, Superstar" was my first exposure--at age 10--to the full story of Jesus, and it colored my thinking forever. I still quote lines from the play as if they are Scripture. When my daughter was an infant, the Jesus soliloquy was one of her bedtime lullabies, although I kinda cut that out when she was old enough to understand the words. :)

What struck me about later popular presentations about Jesus (including Godspell) is that JCSS presented a completely un-supernatural Jesus. He performs no miracles during the musical unless you count "knowing how the story ends before you get there." As someone who is not a Christian and who is very skeptical of the supernatural in general, the particular presentation "felt right" at the time.

Plus the music just got so stuck in my head, I had no choice. :)



Catfish N. Cod said...

@David Brin: I literally read your piece right after this one which points out the Putinism in Trump's speech rather clearly.

The rule of law is also, bizarrely enough, the oligarchs' reason for desiring federalism and devolution to state governments. State governments, you see, are easier and cheaper to bribe -- so much so that it is more effective to influence fifty states than one federal government that gets a hundred million eyeballs on it.

Trump never wanted respect: he wants either fear or adulation, as lords always do. Trumpists do want respect, but only on their own terms. The oligarchs, in the main, do not wish any of these things; they primarily desire power and influence, and are happy to have their efforts stay quiet. No one would know of the Duke of Owlsnest, or of his daughter, the Countess of Ruby et Violette, were it not for investigative reporting upon their seneschal and vassal, the second Lord Breitbart.

(Note: I would love to participate in a collaborative art project in which we assign proper titles for those who would be our masters... in an effort to provide them with the notoriety and subsequent scrutiny they have earned and richly deserve, but frequently and viciously shun.)

I'm keeping one eye on the markets, waiting for the first signs of the downturn. My ancestors lost their shirts in 1929 and people who bought in at the election of Obama in 2009 made a 300%+ killing. I don't discount the ability of this team's ineptness to produce such market swings again.

I would say the people the confederates don't shun are... agricultural extension officers?

....bear in mind the verifiable fact that science works. One of the most important reasons that the Fascist Axis and the Comintern collapsed was that they were unwilling to change policies in the face of facts and actively suppressed those who had the tools to accurately respond to reality. A believer might phrase it that God helps those who pull in the same direction as Her.

If confederates continue to insist on social and economic policies that are demonstrably detrimental, the blue states will continue to win even more and the red states will continue a relative economic decline, with the concomitant political power shifts. And there's only so much of that sort of disparity that the Union can sustain.

The sort of hopeless resignation that destroys the Enlightenment from the left. Give up and accommodate yourself to your assigned eco-niche, pathetic worm. Listen to your archdruid priest and burn your hopes and dreams on the altar of hubris. Confine yourself to your planet and acknowledge your manifold sins and wickedness by actually wishing for more than your inheritance as protoplasm soup. Fie!

Ecologically sustainable feudalism... is still feudalism. And despair is one of the greatest sins of all. John Michael Greer preaches despair (and melancholic consolation) as a way of life. Forgive me if I decline.

Russell Osterlund said...

Presidents leave a legacy, the type historians and history books use to characterize a president's term in office and place in history. We need to start working on a moniker for Trump now, so that it will stick to him in anyone's mind like (positive) "mother and apple pie" and (negative) "Hitler and Evil". The more it is repeated, the better it will make an impression on "Teflon Don". To a narcissist, it must strike where it hurts the most.

I nominate "the illegitimate President" - a close 2nd would be "the bastard President". Or in an older tradition, it could be "Trump the Illegitimate" or "Trump the Fake."

He may feel above the law and immune to any criticism now, but it must be made clear that history will be the final judge.

A.F. Rey said...

What struck me about later popular presentations about Jesus (including Godspell) is that JCSS presented a completely un-supernatural Jesus. He performs no miracles during the musical unless you count "knowing how the story ends before you get there."

I remember our Lutheran minister at the time complaining about that during a sermon. Leaving out the Resurrection at the end missed the entire point of the story in his view. Without it, Jesus was just another smart guy who got himself killed.

[I]t's for similar reasons to why evangelism shifted from the words of Jesus to the hate-drenched Book of Revelation. A seige mentality. Instead of reaching out to the world, hunkering away from it.

I think it may have been because of a winnowing effect. The congregations that were not so "apart" from the world--and highly critical of it--lost their members over time as it became less necessary to be part of a faith to function in our society. So those congregations who survived were the ones who had a siege mentality, and offered their members refuge from the "terrible, sinful world" out there that would corrupt them and their children.

Steven Hammond said...

LarryHart said: What struck me about later popular presentations about Jesus (including Godspell) is that JCSS presented a completely un-supernatural Jesus. He performs no miracles during the musical unless you count "knowing how the story ends before you get there." As someone who is not a Christian and who is very skeptical of the supernatural in general, the particular presentation "felt right" at the time.

Plus the music just got so stuck in my head, I had no choice. :)



Your recent mention of JCSS is actually what led me to listen to it again. :)

LarryHart said...

A.F. Rey:

I remember our Lutheran minister at the time complaining about that during a sermon. Leaving out the Resurrection at the end missed the entire point of the story in his view. Without it, Jesus was just another smart guy who got himself killed.


No, the Jesus of the musical had vision. He knew the effect his particular death would have on the world. Regardless of His divinity or super-powers, that in itself is no mean feat. Christianity asserts that the deity (forgive me) "give his life" for a long weekend. It strikes me as more admirable that a normal human being might have given his mortal life for a story that changes the world.


Kim Maser said...

He's not quite as adept at beating people with the Jesus Stick, but the followers that appeals to seem to respond to both pretty well.
I have to wonder if the tax holiday carrot will have a similar affect.

matthew said...

I like "The Russian President" as the lasting nickname but "Trump the Fake" is a close second.

Regarding the use of "sovereignty" in Trump's UN speech, it is also a reminder that he is unanswerable to criminal charges due to his pardon powers. He was not only signaling to the world that he intends on ruling as an oligarch, but a message to his supporters and most especially Robert Meuller that he believes he has a "get out of jail free" card due to the sovereign power of his stolen office.

Robert said...

To someone with a background in mainstream non-Fundamentalist (but still fairly conservative) Christianity, it would be the differences between Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell that were significant.

Jesus Christ Superstar represents the views of the unchurched general public, is not really compatible with even fairly liberal theology, is less focussed, and is much more operatic, even histrionic.

Godspell is a pretty direct presentation of the content of the actual Gospels, with modern touches, and avoiding conventional piety as much as possible. That last aspect threw some of the dumber Christians, but most people who had actually read the Gospels themselves either liked it, or only disliked it for artistic reasons.

What really damns the Fundamentalists is their attitude toward Godspell. A quite faithful representation of the Gospel receives the silent treatment (not much condemnation), while they can't get enough Rapture porn.

On Larry's "long weekend" - certainly at least some Christians seem to think that way. I lean more towards the belief that Jesus fully set aside any divine attributes while on earth, retaining only sinlessness and a very close relationship with the Father, which may have only reached full strength at his baptism. He appears to have believed prophecies of a resurrection after three days, but by the time he died, it was probably only a matter of faith rather than real conviction. And there was also no communication with his Father toward the end. Throw in what crucifixion is actually like, and you get a lot more than a long weekend.


Bob Pfeiffer.

Jumper said...

I'm very blasphemous, Robert. I believe God took the form of a man and discovered that he Himself was unable to resist sinning. Therefore, forgiveness.

..........

On what to call the Trump presidency, the Age of Jabberwock.

LarryHart said...

Russel Osterlund:

We need to start working on a moniker for Trump now, so that it will stick to him in anyone's mind like (positive) "mother and apple pie" and (negative) "Hitler and Evil". ...
I nominate "the illegitimate President"


I'll second that, since I've been calling him that since the "rigged and fixed" election. Others on this list challenge that characterization, but I hope they'll change their tune after he pardons himself.

I'd like to see future lists of US presidents have a permanent asterisk next to this guy's name.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

On Larry's "long weekend" - certainly at least some Christians seem to think that way. I lean more towards the belief that Jesus fully set aside any divine attributes while on earth, retaining only sinlessness and a very close relationship with the Father, which may have only reached full strength at his baptism. He appears to have believed prophecies of a resurrection after three days, but by the time he died, it was probably only a matter of faith rather than real conviction. And there was also no communication with his Father toward the end. Throw in what crucifixion is actually like, and you get a lot more than a long weekend.


While admittedly flip, I didn't mean to make light of what Jesus actually went through.

If you're asking whether I'd be willing to undergo crucifixion, especially if I had "forgotten" by that point that I'd come back from it, I get your point, but I think you're missing mine. I admire the heck out of what Jesus put himself through, and I admire it even moreso if he's really just a mortal man.

I do distinguish it from the case where you or I might be called on to "give one's life" for a cause. There's typically an unspoken and unnecessary-to-speak connotation of "forever" in there, which is not the case when Someone dies for three days. Christians like to say that God "gave His life" for us as if it's the same thing. And here, I'm not talking about Jesus's possible perception of reality at the time. I'm talking about the situation today. If you believe the theology, then God is still there, and always has been. Jesus is tanned, rested, and ready for whatever comes next. He's not in the same situation you or I would be in after having given our lives.

SapphireHarp said...

Dr. Brin said, "The smartest folks I know see the stock market surge as the run-up to a crash. Still... I just read about how DT might save himself."

Is this published somewhere? I'd enjoy seeing the original articles.

Robert said...

Thanks for the reply, Larry. Good points. A part of my point which I took too much for granted would be that Jesus and God the Father would be experiencing what Jesus experienced in his death now, and also experience what human other beings experience because of this.

Another thing, is that, unlike many fellow believers, the idea of death being final doesn't bother me. Certainly a lot better than Hell, which I find incompatible with any possibility of God being good. I'm not going to be too rough on the early Christians for believing in it, though. They were being persecuted, and I'm not.

Of course there are plenty of things I can't wrap my head around, like the idea of God creating parasitic wasps....


Bob Pfeiffer.

Alfred Differ said...

I like 'The Russian President' as a label so far.

My personal label for him probably won't work for historians. 'The Fool'

LarryHart said...

Robert:

I'm not going to be too rough on the early Christians for believing in it, though. They were being persecuted, and I'm not.


First of all, thanks for the acknowledgement. Too many Christians I know, including my college roommate, seem to cling to "persecuted" as an essential characteristic of Christian identity. Trump voters sure seem to believe it.

But to your point, from the time I learned about Christianity (I mean more than just "Christmas is named for Christ"), I thought that one of the appeals back in the day was that first century life sucked for most people, especially in a place like Roman-occupied Judea, and that the promise of a next life which didn't suck was worth signing on for.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:


My personal label for him probably won't work for historians. 'The Fool'


"Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him?"

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I like 'The Russian President' as a label so far.


That sounds too much like Putin's actual title, though.

And while I blame Russia for being part of the perfect storm that brought us Trump, I don't think it was entirely their fault. And they must be having buyers' remorse by now.

"The Fascist President" might be more to the point. Or if I want to get nasty about it, "The Nazi President". Or if I want to get cute about it, "The White Su-President".

There's always "The Un-Presidented". He gave us that one himself. "I have the best words."

I actually hope that "Republican" gains as much infamy as names like "Dixiecrat" or "Socialist" do, so that referring to him as "The Last Republican President" is just as much of an insult as anything else.


Tim H. said...

LarryHart, the Republicans are looking more and more like the "Cattle call" for the razing of Rock Ridge in Blazing Saddles, (Polite) words fail me...

Berial said...

Tim I think 'The Onion' is already there ahead of you: GOP leaders confident They'll have the cruelty necessary to pass healthcare bill

LarryHart said...

Tim H:

LarryHart, the Republicans are looking more and more like the "Cattle call" for the razing of Rock Ridge in Blazing Saddles,


Remember back when Ted Cruz talked about which departments he'd eliminate from the cabinet, and in order not to do a "Rick Perry", he didn't acknowledge forgeting a department, but he did name one twice?

Ok, I had to look it up, but this is what he said:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/10/heres-the-agency-ted-cruz-forgot-he-wants-to-abolish/?utm_term=.42f420b4a75d

"Five major agencies that I would eliminate: the IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce and HUD," Cruz said.


At the time, I immediately hoped a reporter would follow up with:

You said Commerce twice.


So that Cruz could rejoinder:

I like Commerce.


Robert said...

Now that Godwin is dead, we can cut straight to the heart and call Trump "der F├╝hrer". Only need enough context to make sure it's clear he's alive (or is he? interesting). As for his Twitter product, it's "Trumptious Tweets."

Meanwhile, the American Christian Persecution Complex: "They wouldn't let me burn this witch! Persecution!"

Or as they say in Monty Python: "'Elp! 'Elp! 'E's oppressin' me! 'E's oppressin' me!"


Bob Pfeiffer

locumranch said...


The facts that David offers up in this thread are indisputable; however, the narrative that he offers up to explain the significance of these facts shows incredible leftist bias that exemplifies the growing divide between the conservative right & the progressive left.

By concluding that Trump's call for "national sovereignty" is a cause for alarm, David simultaneously repudiates the US Constitutional Principle of Independence and betrays his sympathies for global socialism & the so-called New World Order wherein every person becomes subject & subservient to non-representational global rule and anti-democratic governance reminiscent of the way that an increasingly unresponsive EU bureaucracy issues ORDERS to its member states.

David the Idealist forgets his history: He forgets that 'governance from afar' is a recipe for tyranny; he forgets that 'all politics are local'; and he forgets that the US Revolution was precipitated by the same type of 'taxation without representation' emblematic of both UN Edict & the Paris Climate Accords.

The right-minded & right-leaning conservative uses the very same facts that David cites & constructs a very different narrative as to their factual significance, concluding that any such submission to an unresponsive global bureaucratic elite is incredibly wrong-minded, eminently undesirable & potentially hellish.

Over & over, I have tried to warn everyone as to the non-sustainable nature of this divergent narrative; and, over & over, my warnings have fallen on deaf ears until the consequences of these irreconcilably divergent narratives became unavoidable, placing the west (at home & abroad) on the brink of global civil war.

(1) In Germany, despite a preponderance of glowing media pap, Merkel's CDU is poised to be 'Das Volked' in the A by the conservatives of both the AFD & Pegida.

(2) In a France subject to ongoing martial law, Marcon's 'En Marche' loses its footing & stumbles toward open revolt.

(3) In Spain, the PP ruling party struggles with more than 25% unemployment & attempts to suppress the relatively well-off Catalonia Separatists with an occupying force.

Rest assured, also, that the US version of 'Part Deux' rushes towards us, mostly because both sides talk TO each other but refuse to talk WITH each other, as they both demand that the other SUBMIT & obey an increasingly alien & irreconcilable narrative of the other's construction.

And the irony of ironies? Those who condemn Trump for 'low credibility' have little, low or no credibility themselves.


Best

David Brin said...

Catfish; wow.

LH: What struck me most in JCSS was the confrontation with Herod, when the temporal authority among the people asked Jesus for the same proof that he gave Galilean peasants and fishermen. The gospels are filled with - and proclaim the importance of - proof miracles. Then the veer around to say that Herod and the priests were sinners to demand some. But… um… wasn’t that their job? To demand miraculous proof, to separate among all the messiah pretenders, running around?

Yes, Herod gets all sarcastic and nasty. Still, despite biased, delivery, the message is entirely reasonable. And that may be one reason why fundies hated the musical, so.

As for the resurrection etc, when do modern minds protest: “this violates every rule of evidence! Where are the unbiased observers?

David Brin said...

Locum's tone was especially hi-meds, today. Congrats on that. Alas, if only it were accompanied by logic. His mind fglides aside and does not address a single one of the points that I actually raised.

Jumper said...

It strikes me that the only other place I have seen deranged idiots with excellent vocabularies is among the Russians who slither around on social media pretending to be Americans as they foul the waters.

Twominds said...

@Larry Hart

a question for the people on this list (I believe there were at least two of you) who will only read a book if they can do so in one setting.

I was one of those. It's not at all that I only want to read books that I can do in one setting, it's that a good book will run away with me, and then I find it hard to stop and do all the other things in the day. Since I know that, I plan some books for when I know I've got more time.

I will lay away a book for things that need done, but not wholeheartedly.

To all the commenters who took up my remarks on nuclear power, I'm sorry, no contribution from me yet. I'd hoped to use my lunch break to write, but a fire alarm drill got in the way. I'll try to do better.

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | one of the appeals back in the day was that first century life sucked for most people, especially in a place like Roman-occupied Judea, and that the promise of a next life which didn't suck was worth signing on for.

When has a commoner's life NOT sucked? I've never really bought this argument once I learned about pyramid shaped societies. Maybe nomadic HG life was less sucky, but since then we've produced ideas worth signing on for down through the ages. 8)

"Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him?"

The classic fool is not dumb at all. Instead, they are good at seeing and exploiting the gaps and saying what the rest of us are too tactful to say.

The idiots are the people who take the fool too seriously without closing those gaps.

And they must be having buyers' remorse by now.

I very much doubt that. Putin should be going for stretch goals right now. Buyer's Remorse comes later when we prove to be anti-fragile.

"The Last Republican President"

Okay. That one would be interesting if it comes true. It would also dot the i's and cross the t's. The Republican party is the replacement for the last major party. Back then the Whigs were divided over slavery and could not find a compromise. They came apart at the seams. The cyclic history guys would go bananas, but it certainly would be interesting if the current GOP failed in a related way. 'Horizon too small... again' would have to be carved on their tombstone. I'd feel a bit of schadenfreude for some of the sufferers, but not for long.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Larry
The problem with the "Psycohistorical Crisis" is that there is such a lot in there - I have read it several times and plan on reading it again

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | By concluding that Trump's call for "national sovereignty" is a cause for alarm, David simultaneously repudiates the US Constitutional Principle of Independence and betrays his sympathies for global socialism…

You might want to run for office. You are pretty good at taking what people say and concluding it means support for those you oppose. Maybe you think you are the smartest person here and can see through what we miss? Heh.

My beef with Trump’s reliance upon the ‘sovereignty’ term is that he is destroying one of the forms of power available to us in our dealings with the world. We call it soft power and the nicest version of it is economic soft power. Manly men underestimate what can be done with it, but I suspect he is more clueless about the consequences of his language than he is intentional about it. Manly men speak more with actions than with words, so they can be rather incompetent when they actually open their mouths.

The right-minded & right-leaning conservative uses the very same facts that David cites & constructs a very different narrative as to their factual significance, concluding that any such submission to an unresponsive global bureaucratic elite is incredibly wrong-minded, eminently undesirable & potentially hellish.

Of course. Your error is in thinking David wants to submit to an unresponsive global bureaucracy. The UN does some howlingly stupid things now and then, but even when they do well, one doesn’t submit. For example, some of the Millennium Development Goals make good sense no matter who pitches them, but in supporting them one isn’t submitting. It’s more about cooperation which is about…. Soft Power.

Trump is harming us and possibly doing it intentionally. I’m not sure about intent yet, but I do consider it as a possibility.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

LH: What struck me most in JCSS was the confrontation with Herod, when the temporal authority among the people asked Jesus for the same proof that he gave Galilean peasants and fishermen. The gospels are filled with - and proclaim the importance of - proof miracles. Then the veer around to say that Herod and the priests were sinners to demand some. But… um… wasn’t that their job? To demand miraculous proof, to separate among all the messiah pretenders, running around?

Yes, Herod gets all sarcastic and nasty. Still, despite biased, delivery, the message is entirely reasonable. And that may be one reason why fundies hated the musical, so.


Herod in the musical was comic relief, much like King George III in "Hamilton".

That said, I think believers would see the musical's Herod as doing the equivalent of a "birther" thing with Jesus, not so much legitimately asking for evidence as having pre-dismissed the claim.

Now if we're strictly working within the confines of the musical, Jesus shows no sign of actual supernatural powers. His followers would have been the ones to make claims that he could change water into wine and such. Herod is putting Jesus in the position of having to defend outlandish claims He never made, and treating failure to do so as proof that Jesus is criminal or insane. It would be like demanding that King Canute turn back the tide or else abdicate his throne.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

The problem with the "Psycohistorical Crisis" is that there is such a lot in there - I have read it several times and plan on reading it again.


I've already had enough trouble keeping the characters straight that I know another read is required. It's just that I can't re-read a 750-page book right away--probably a few years down the road. Next time, I have to re-read the original Asimov trilogy first.

I realize this blog belongs to an author of a different Foundation sequel, and I mean no disrespect, but none of the post-1980 sequels to Foundation (including the ones written by Asimov) provided what I personally was looking for in a Foundation sequel the way this one does.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Names for Donald Trump

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2017/sep/20/steve-bell-on-donald-trump-at-the-united-nations-cartoon

The "Grim Tweeter"

donzelion said...

re "The Global Bureaucracy" -

Damn them for drilling ozone holes and choking the sea -
For hunting whales to extinction's brink!
Curse them for trying to avert World War III
And for hemming and hawing in global group think.
The unresponsive global bureaucracy
Has never done anything at all for me
So I say, so I shout on the internet loud
(overlooking precisely how the web came about).

Steven Hammond said...

Robert said:

To someone with a background in mainstream non-Fundamentalist (but still fairly conservative) Christianity, it would be the differences between Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell that were significant.

Jesus Christ Superstar represents the views of the unchurched general public, is not really compatible with even fairly liberal theology, is less focussed, and is much more operatic, even histrionic.

Godspell is a pretty direct presentation of the content of the actual Gospels, with modern touches, and avoiding conventional piety as much as possible. That last aspect threw some of the dumber Christians, but most people who had actually read the Gospels themselves either liked it, or only disliked it for artistic reasons.

What really damns the Fundamentalists is their attitude toward Godspell. A quite faithful representation of the Gospel receives the silent treatment (not much condemnation), while they can't get enough Rapture porn.


As someone from a similar background, but not someone who has seen either musical in its entirety, (that will be corrected soon) your perspective is especially interesting. Also interesting is that, according to Wikipedia, the structure is based on a series of parables mainly from the Gospel of Matthew (who was always happy to add "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" to the parables he collected elsewhere.

One last thought regarding these plays that came out of that time, (from the Jesus Movement?) is that they have a very urban, contemporary, even "hippie" vibe to them. The Godspell movies was even filmed in NYC with characters and extras reflecting the diversity of that city. (I really liked the John the Baptist character who reminds me SO much of Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull) And remember, the target audience was those baby-boomers that are so decried by many of us. I'm on the tail-end of the group, BTW, b. 1962) I suspect the urban/"hippie" setting has much to do these days with the poor reception of Godspell amongst Evangelicals/Fundies.

So, anyway, my theory is that young people of the time read the gospels--often in translations and paraphrases that avoided King James english--and were somehow impressed by the life, thoughts, and philosophy of Jesus. Crossan likens him to the Cynic philosophers of the time. These young enthusiast ended up going to churches and... well, the old established theology/theocracy that tries to reconcile the OT genocides and a literal reading of Revelation with the Sermon on the Mount did its dirty work ending up with the Moral Majority in the 80s etc.

donzelion said...

"During Andrew Jackson's Scots-Irish-Appalachian revolution, this circle expanded, as it did (with setbacks) with every generation that followed, leaving Periclean Athens in the dust."

Not quite so (here's a very good book on that point.)

'Horizons of inclusivity'
Are present virtues projected, anachronistically
Into the world of the slave-owning sovereign:
'If a man enslave another man, no third may intervene'
21 times! Did you miss it? I didn't!
Twixt 'rocket man' gaffes, there's the key that he hints at:
The slave-owning class hates sovereigns most
No other threatens the lord's subject hosts.
The worst unaccountable international posts
Make harder the serving of Bubba's pork roasts.

The task at hand of our civilization
is to take back the virtues that built a great nation
from the rogues who usurp them, and the dogs who disdain
and restore something noble in a world gone insane.

locumranch said...


David claims that 'the most blatant thing about the "sovereignty" riff' (is that) It is a core catch phrase of Putin-ism', as documented by the use of the term 'sovereignty' within the US Constitution & Declaration of Independence, two subversive documents which were apparently authored by none other than a time-traveling Putin intent on world dominating INDEPENDENCE in defiance of a British Colonial claim supported by 18th Century International Law (ha), insomuch that any attempt to defy the United Will of an unelected international elite supposedly "delegitimizes democracy" (double ha).

It's such unrepentant false narrative BS like this that makes me wonder if Jumper may not be correct to suspect Russian, Baltic or Bolshevik INFILTRATORS "with excellent vocabulary skills" (intent on de-legitimizing Western Democracy) as a probable source of this misinformation:

So, who do we all know who writes fiction, has an excellent vocabulary, promotes socialism in the name of 'social progress', possesses a stereotypical Baltic surname & whose family hails from a nation that was dominated (until recently) by the former Soviet Socialist Empire? Any guesses? Anyone?

Of course, you'd have to be a tinfoil-hat wearing conspiracy NUTTER to even consider such McCarthyesque guilt-by-association Fellow Traveller nonsense, and I (for one, as the voice of reason) will NOT fall for such laughably transparent propaganda obviously designed to sow internal distrust, divide, conquer & destroy the Great Sovereign Nation of Murica (F*** Yeah!!) which remains the Last Bastion of Democracy.


Best
____
Donald Trump is a Russian puppet in the same way that Barack Hussein Obama was a Muslim puppet, John F Kennedy was Papal puppet & L Ron Hubbard was a Thetan one. I mean, really, it's internally inconsistent to simultaneously assume that Trump is so corrupt that his loyalty can be purchased by a foreign power but so honest that his loyalty (once purchased) can stay purchased, much in the same way that he can't be both an 'evil genius' and an 'incompetent moron' at the same time.

LarryHart said...

Trump is a Russian puppet because they have blackmail material on him from the times he dealt with them because no legitimate bank would loan the deadbeat any more money. Trust and integrity have nothing to do with it.

And calling Trump an "evil genius" would be spitting on the concept of evil genius. Incompetent moron is closer, but useful idiot for evil is closer. Bull in a china shop (no pun intended) is probably closest of all.


donzelion said...

"Donald Trump is a Russian puppet in the same ways
that Barack Hussein Obama was a Muslim puppet" (so he says)
The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and the Kenyans proclaimed
They must aid BHO in his fight with McCain!
So they financed Obama's casinos, and his hotel chain
And he briefed them daily while on his campaign.
And Barry repaid them by breaking their monopoly
(Unlike Trump, whose benefactors - so far - benefit financially).

Trump's loyalty has always been mostly for sale
(Ask his wives, whom he promised to always be true)
And mercenaries flip, without thought, without fail
While the oligarchs laugh, and then twist their screw.
'The others are bad! The others are bad!"
That any believe it is still pretty sad.

David Brin said...

Okay, now THAT's the locum we know. An actinic storm of strawman ravings, so detached from any correlation with anything I said or meant that - once again - I have to blink in amazement at what a varied species we are.

donzelion the Rhymer!!

Jumper said...

Especially the part about "Typo Brin" and his language skilz.

Jumper said...

A jest. I realized some time ago "writer" is somewhat of a misnomer. "Thinker" is more apt for what we value. There is no doubt Dr. Brin is one of the best.

Jon S. said...

RE: "giving His life for a long weekend"...

I used to give this whole concept probably more thought than it really deserved, and the conclusion I eventually reached was based on something I'd heard around somewhere - "God can't really understand human struggles, He's God and never has to struggle!"

So, from this point of view, He assumed the form of a human being - complete with all the pains and weaknesses the human body is subject to. And in the end, He was tortured to death, in the most humiliating way a Jew at the time could conceive of (Mosaic law held that anyone who died hanging from wood was cursed, probably a reference to Deuteronomy 21:22). All of this was while He was subject to pain, and fear, and shame. After that, it became a lot harder to claim that He just doesn't understand what a mortal man goes through...

locumranch said...


It's a most absurd conflation,
Joining Putin to sovereignty,
Arguing slavery as freedom,
Places strain upon credulity.

;p

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

I realized some time ago "writer" is somewhat of a misnomer. "Thinker" is more apt for what we value. There is no doubt Dr. Brin is one of the best.


I agree with the first part, but not sure "thinker" covers the end product of what a writer does. It goes into the work, of course, but many professions have "thinking" as part of the job.

In the comics world, the term "creator" is used for writers or writer/artists, but that might be a bit pretentious (and un-specific).

Not sure where to go with this other than to throw it open for more suggestions.

LarryHart said...

Jon S:

"God can't really understand human struggles, He's God and never has to struggle!"
...
And in the end, He was tortured to death, in the most humiliating way a Jew at the time could conceive of (Mosaic law held that anyone who died hanging from wood was cursed, probably a reference to Deuteronomy 21:22).

Who makes these rules? Seriously!


All of this was while He was subject to pain, and fear, and shame. After that, it became a lot harder to claim that He just doesn't understand what a mortal man goes through...


I have a hard time believing that God has to learn from experience, though. If He "just doesn't understand" what His creations experience, that doesn't speak well for omniscience.

Assuming He does have to learn from experience, this might be uncharitable, but I don't see how being tortured to death on the cross teaches Someone what a regular zhlub goes through trying to get by and raise a family.

Having said that, the view you espouse here jibes with some of what Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his last novel "Timequake". It wasn't particularly about religion, but there was one bit in there that suggested that what Satan really does is to devise all sorts of distractions and entertainments to make life more bearable for God's creatures suffering through life. And Satan's reason for being rebellious--whether true or not--would have been something like, "You just don't understand what they go through."

LarryHart said...

A flippantly-stated but nonetheless serious question brought to mind by the latest Obamacare repeal attempt:

Why is the Republican Party trying to join ISIS and Boku Haram in intentionally promoting themselves as cartoon supervillains?

Paul451 said...

Larry,
Re: Trump.
"And while I blame Russia for being part of the perfect storm that brought us Trump, I don't think it was entirely their fault. And they must be having buyers' remorse by now."

The point of their current influence-doctrine is chaos. If it also gets you influence, that's fine too, but chaos is the purpose. An actual traitor is not necessary, a buffoon will serve fine. Trump's impeachment will likewise serve the cause, as long as its drawn-out, messy and violent.

(And something something something rhyme.)

Robert said...

I agree completely with Larry H. about the Foundation works. It's the Trilogy and Psychohistorical Crisis for me. Pity three very good authors were sucked into cleaning up Asimov's post-Trilogy mess; also a pity someone as good as Asimov himself made the mistake in the first place. I'll continue to respect our host enormously for the work that's completely his own, above all the first Uplift trilogy. I suspect that'll be the part of his work that'll be around when we actually start Uplifting species.

On another thread, I don't think Trump does much of anything deliberately, and may not have anything like normal consciousness at all. He is seriously mentally ill, and his textbook case (literally - see DSM-5 online) of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is only the beginning. Pity having a Holy Person as VP makes using the 25th Amendment a bad idea - otherwise it's a no-brainer.

I suspect the Russians, being realistic about such things, aren't interested in having Trump as a puppet, but backed him as the equivalent of throwing a hand grenade into the room. Though I agree with some posters that they may also be blackmailing him.

I also believe that his biggest reason for hiding his income tax returns, bigger than the crimes they would reveal, is that they would show his income was much lower than he wants people to believe, and quite likely that his net worth is negative.


Bob Pfeiffer.

Paul451 said...

Larry,
"who will only read a book if they can do so in one setting."

Not quite what I meant, I can stretch a long book out over a few days. But I read as if starving. And I do put off reading a long and/or conceptually-dense book until I know I have the space in my life to binge properly.

"does it really take away from the experience of a long novel to put it down and come back to it"

When I put down a book for too long, when life insists on interrupting, I often find it very difficult to get back into it. Once I'm inside the universe, I'm in, fully immersed; once I drop out of the universe, I'm out. Sometimes I have to start from the beginning in order to get back into the flow. Sometimes the previous chapter. Sometimes just skimming the last page before I stopped. That's why the length of the delay matters.

I got into the online super-novel Worm awhile back. It's... long. A million words, apparently. Each of the 26 "chapters" is roughly 350-page novel-length. I burned through the first half dozen chapters in a few days, playing havoc with my sleep, then I slowed down. But even with work, my so-called "life", and time with family, I got up to chapter 16 in perhaps just over a month. Then I stopped for awhile to catch up on my the rest of my alleged life. And it's been maybe six months since I've last read a page. Now I'm finding it very hard to go back to. I'm hoping I can get back into it by just re-reading the last couple of pages, a chapter at most. But I'm worried if I can't get into it again that easily, I may have to roll back to Ch.1 to find the path back in. Eep.

This also explains some of the gaps in my reading history. This kind of immersion-reading demands a certain type of author, a writing that flows (which Brin is good at), whereas IMO some of the beloved authors (Vonnegut has been discussed recently) require your kind of reading. A few pages, a chapter, stop and digest, pick it again with new insight... (Hence I think I've only read a couple of Vonnegut's, and none of the top-list titles like Slaughterhouse 5.) And there have been books where I've had to stop after a few pages, put it away, start again another time, stop, try again until {snap} those first 5-10 pages pop into place and I can binge through the rest of the book.

"It's been over a month, and I still have half of its 700 pages to go."

Less than 12 pages a day? I feel actual pain.

"I'd love to know how that works for you, because I'm just not that guy. I'm a different thing, in fact the opposite thing."

Robert said...

https://www.google.com/search?q=the+economist+cartoon+what+putin+thinks+of+trump&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi2-aiJwrbWAhUB1mMKHV-nCq4Q7AkINA&biw=1366&bih=638#imgrc=Bbkf4c3fvk9oyM:

Bob Pfeiffer

LarryHart said...

@Paul451,

I treat immersion in the universe (say with "Dune") slightly differently than you do, but that slight difference seems to make all the difference. Rather than wanting to stay continuously in the book without interruption, I want to say continually in the book for as long as possible.


Less than 12 pages a day? I feel actual pain.


See, I feel actual pleasure that I still have more pages to read than I already have.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Robert: "Mistake"? Perhaps, but Asimov was facing a corner he had already boxed himself into with the original trilogy: how do you keep narrative tension when the major plot, that the Second Empire will eventually be formed, rules out narrative tension?

(Spoilers for the entire series follow, in case you're not familiar with them all.)

The first novel, Foundation, solved it by having virtually everyone in the First Foundation stay completely ignorant of the true mechanisms of the Plan. But by the middle of Foundation and Empire, that was played out. Enter the Mule: a random event that could not have been Planned for. Repairing the damage to the Plan, and then sealing the breach in ignorance created by the repair job, formed the plot of the second half of the original Trilogy.

Where do you go from there? The sequence of Seldon Crises may be slightly interesting, but from a narrative standpoint, they're trivial. You can only do narrative repeats of "Dead Hand" -- people struggling with their own issues within the setting, but with no actual tension. The Second Foundation will make things work as Planned and the First will continue the reconquest by whatever social means are near to hand. Where's the story?

Foundation's Edge essentially redoubled the same answers to this question as in the original trilogy -- again searching for the Second Foundation, and with a planet of Mules rather than the one loner. Only Foundation and Earth came up with new narrative problems, building on the inherent boundaries of Seldonian psychohistory (with a galaxy-at-large/First Foundation of baseline humans, and groups of mentalic humans (Second Foundation, and later Gaia). Nonhumans, metahumans, and robots form no part of this process. At this point, Asimov had again written himself into a corner and was stumped; thus the Foundation prequels, which were Robot novels set in the Foundation backstory. Not even the "Killer B's" tried to write the last 500 years of the Plan out; our host was the only one that really tried to address the question (the others essentially wrote more Robot-on-Trantor novels) -- and left the sequel hook so that it could be actually explored, if the Asimov estate ever so requested. Again, the path forward was to examine the concept of the Plan, what it (and the First Empire before it) required to exist, and what either went wrong or could go wrong with it.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Looking at the entire corpus with the benefit of up to 70 years of insight, what we see is a universe where a technological transformation (usually called the Singularity, though I hate that term) has been postponed for 20,000 years -- first by robots, then the mind-altering virus that created the Caves of Steel, and then the vast sweep of Olivaw-guided history from the Exodus to the First Empire to the Foundations, the whole of which was designed to maximize humanity within the confines of an orderly pre-Singularity existence (for the Singularity must inevitably overwhelm the Laws of Robotics).

Dr. Brin left open the possibility that the virus is what must be overcome; that is, that the version of humanity Daneel has been shepherding is not baseline humanity but a modified version incapable of sustaining the Enlightenment that a Singularity requires. Reversing, overcoming, or circumventing that problem would therefore be the crowning achievement that permitted a successful Second Empire (as well as a post-Singularity society). It's a well-chosen problem, as the solution likely will require the pre-Singularity ingenuity of the First Foundation (designed to be a controllable version of the Enlightenment), the mentalic surgery of the Second Foundation, and the ecological integration of Gaia (which, as a discarded title put it, functions as a Third Foundation).

As for how that happens.... well, that's plot, isn't it? And now there's a narrative tension again, as the three Foundations discover once again that there's more to the Plan than just the Plan. Which was the requirement for plot advancement that Asimov lacked after Foundation and Earth.


Or at least that's my take. After all, Our Gracious Host is the one with the professional skill and the prior experience to comprehend the literary superstructure of the series.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

@Robert: "Mistake"? Perhaps, but Asimov was facing a corner he had already boxed himself into with the original trilogy: how do you keep narrative tension when the major plot, that the Second Empire will eventually be formed, rules out narrative tension?


Well, my question is why did he have to worry about it? The last book of the trilogy was published in 1953. Why--in the 1980s--did he decide that more Foundation stories needed to be told, especially if he felt he couldn't really tell more "Foundation stories" but instead had to tell different kinds of stories in the same setting?

Having said that, the original setting could serve as a backdrop for any number of new stories. There were still some 700 years of interregnum to go, after all.

LarryHart said...

CONTINUING WITH FOUNDATION SPOILERS...

Catfish N. Cod:

Only Foundation and Earth came up with new narrative problems, building on the inherent boundaries of Seldonian psychohistory (with a galaxy-at-large/First Foundation of baseline humans, and groups of mentalic humans (Second Foundation, and later Gaia). Nonhumans, metahumans, and robots form no part of this process. At this point, Asimov had again written himself into a corner and was stumped; thus the Foundation prequels, which were Robot novels set in the Foundation backstory. Not even the "Killer B's" tried to write the last 500 years of the Plan out; our host was the only one that really tried to address the question (the others essentially wrote more Robot-on-Trantor novels)


IIRC, "Foundation and Earth", the latest novel in narrative time, ended on a cliffhanger which was never to be resolved. All of the subsequent novels, including the ones by the three B's, took place earlier in time, when Hari Seldon was still alive.

Several years back, on the Cerebus list, I remember stating what I would like to have seen in a new Foundation Trilogy. From memory, it went something like this:

BOOK 1: A tale set near the end of the interregnum, when the establishment of a Second Empire is getting close, but is not yet a certain thing, and there is opposition acting against it ever happening.

BOOK 2: The events leading into the establishment of the Second Empire, recognizing that there is no single moment at which an Empire comes into being. By the end of the book, we and the characters realize it has happened, or at least it is inevitable.

BOOK 3: A tale OF the Second Empire, working out the possible failure modes that such an organization might fall into.

I would have wanted these books to follow directly from "Second Foundation" and not concerned itself with any of the novels whose purpose was to tie the Foundation universe to the Robot universe.

LarryHart said...

Hey, I was actually able to find that original post on the subject from 2008:


1) The last days in which there is still some question as to the
inevitability of the Second Empire, and some last-ditch resistance
by those who don't believe it to be a Good Idea. By the end of this
book, the question of whether it's a Good Idea or not might still be
open, but the fact that Second Empire is coming is more or less
inevitable, though it hasn't happened yet.

2) By the end of this book, although no character would
realistically be calling it "Year 1" or anything yet, it's obvious
to the reader that what we've held in mind as the Second Empire
already exists de-facto. I haven't thought out just what the
conflict in this book is, but thinking of a less-enlightened version
of "V For Vendetta", perhaps the agents of change (Foundation) are
not quite so willing to give up their role once their goal (Second
Empire) has been achieved.

3) This book would be a "Year One" (though I don't mean that
literally) tale of the fledgeling Second Empire that would
demonstrate (perhaps for the first time) to the reader just HOW this
Second Empire is a better social institution than even the First
Empire ever was. The point is to bring some sort of closure to the
reader--not just "Ahhhh...they made it to the Second Empore", but a
more satisfying "Ahhhh...it was all worthwhile after all!"

Y'know, thinking of Alan Moore in this context takes me to saying
that I wouldn't mind finding out that Seldon never expected the Plan
to stay on track for 1000 years, and that the only good he expected
to accomplish was giving people a psychological goal to keep them
from despairing completely during the Dark Ages. But others that
followed from him DID believe--or at least believed in what THEY
thought the Plan entailed--and made it so. Seldon "made it all up,
and it came true anyway." Heh.

A.F. Rey said...

New York Times reports that Trump requested “a report detailing the estimated long-term costs of the United States Refugee Admissions Program at the federal, state, and local levels." A preliminary report from the Department of Health and Human Services showed that refugees bring in $63 billion more in government revenue than they cost.

So the Trump Administration had any revenue considerations removed from the final report, and only report the costs.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/us/politics/refugees-revenue-cost-report-trump.html

locumranch said...


Asimov, biochemist, writer and polymath
Built Foundation on this thematic singularity,
Of humans always remaining human, always,
Regardless of travel, time and all technologies.

Hari Seldon's Science of Psychohistory,
Assumes that humans stay human, ever consistent,
As opposed to the Pinkerian Better Angel heresy
Which presumes human extinction & replacement.

LarryHart said...

More on Foundation:

I did read once that Asimov didn't have the ending of "Second Foundation" completely worked out when he started, and that some of the false solutions that were disproved during the trilogy were possible endings that the author himself had once considered and then discarded.

One possible solution that occurred to me way late in the game is that there never was a Second Foundation, but that the myth of a Second Foundation keeping things on track was somehow necessary to give the First Foundation an edge and keep them motivated.

donzelion said...

Small wonder how Locum's wit may somewhat shine
Triteness, disavow; adopt in lieu a playful rhyme.

Ask Crimea of Putin's intent
Aggressive foreigners interfere (it's clear)
Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea need not consent
They must simply accept, comply to assigned spheres.

Twas Lincoln's better angels which
Pinker cited to Locum's chagrin
Few contest fair reason's role
In matters humanitarian.

donzelion said...

Bob Pfeiffer: "I don't think Trump does much of anything deliberately"
Perhaps deliberate non-deliberation? So long as the surfaces prevail, nobody looks more closely at the impact of the executive orders to ask qui bono.

"the Russians...aren't interested in having Trump as a puppet"
Trump did receive ample backing from Saudis once upon a time; he hasn't exactly been a Muslim puppet. NBC also helped rebuild his brand, but hardly pulls his strings (and his 'gropester' tape was pretty straightforward blackmail material that just failed to impress conservatives - it's only immoral when a Democrat grabs women down there).

A 'hand grenade' theory is plausible, but I suspect Putin simply hated the Clintons: would Milosevic still be a useful, loyal acolyte if Monica's blue dress had been found in 1996, rather than November '97?

"I also believe that [Trump's] biggest reason for hiding his income tax returns...is that they would show his income was much lower than he wants people to believe"
Concur. Trump's 'income tax' returns wouldn't show the earnings of the long list of Trump companies, most of them privately held. If his counterparties knew how much he claimed in dividends from those entities, they'd know who got which deals from him, when he put his own money on the line, where he was vulnerable, etc.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

(... it's only immoral when a Democrat grabs women down there)


That's true of pretty much anything now. "It's only immoral when a Democrat does fill-in-the-blank." It's also only an outrage when a Democrat breaks any kind of functional norms, allowing Mitch McConnell (of all people!) to castigate Senate Democrats for obstructionism.


Trump's 'income tax' returns wouldn't show the earnings of the long list of Trump companies, most of them privately held. If his counterparties knew how much he claimed in dividends from those entities, they'd know who got which deals from him, when he put his own money on the line, where he was vulnerable, etc.


And isn't it funny how much suspicion was heaped on President Obama for not publicly releasing certain documents, but there's no problem with Trump not doing so.

Cue Richard Nixon:

If the [Republican] president does it, then it is not illegal.


Alfred Differ said...

When pondering the angels of Pinker
he proclaims like he's such a big thinker
speaking of our grand heresy
as though we were the clerisy
that emitted the previous stinker

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "And isn't it funny how much suspicion was heaped on President Obama for not publicly releasing certain documents, but there's no problem with Trump not doing so."

Tragicomic, rather. That said, I'd be shocked if Trump obviously broke the law on those returns; he hires lawyers and accountants to prepare them, and they are probably not fools.

I sort of like the approach of forcing a presidential candidate to disclose before being listed on the state ballot as in California (and some 22 other states considering such a measure).

LarryHart said...

@donzelion,

I don't really care if Trump broke the law. The point is, those returns reveal something that he doesn't want us to know. If you mean that President Obama's birth certificate might have proven that he was ineligible for the office--well then what was the point of requiring the "long form birth certificate"? The "certificate of live birth" established he was born in Hawaii.

So did the birth announcements in the Honolulu newspapers, unless one accepts the theory that those notices were planted in 1961 with the expectation that that black child would someday run for President of the United States.

donzelion said...

Alfred: But...are we not that clerisy?

A fun exchange, this. Reminds me of Chaucer's "The Tale of Sir Thopas;" rhymes 'nat worth a toord!' perhaps, yet better by far than the long winded moralizing otherwise on offer.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

sort of like the approach of forcing a presidential candidate to disclose before being listed on the state ballot as in California (and some 22 other states considering such a measure).


I virtually guarantee you that no Republican candidate will ever be disallowed on a ballot for a technicality. A Democrat? Sure, that's what technicalities are for.

Exhibit A: remember George W Bush's 2004 reelection where they had the convention in NYC on September 11? That date was too late for some states' 60-day requirement for a candidate to be named on the November ballot. They of course received special dispensation, as not having W on the ballot for something so trivial as a legal deadline would have been an outrage.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

And in that spirit, here's your Halloween costume. Order soon. They may run out. Walmart has pulled the gray version...


What on earth did they pull the gray version for? It hurt the confederates' feelings to be reduced to an identity group?

donzelion said...

Larry: "The point is, those returns reveal something that he doesn't want us to know."
Fair enough. I wrote that thinking of Bob Pfieffer, and the many others who expect to find smoking guns there. We probably won't. We still ought to know.

In California, the Republican who opposed the measure wanted to amend it to add birth certificates as well. I don't see that as a problem (Obama released his birth certificate in 2008 - Trump just saw no benefit in accepting the same 'short form' birth certificate that every government agency accepts as a routine matter).

The 'power to tax' is one of the core authorities of a sovereign state: America takes an outlier view on how this power manifests. The federal government can tax U.S. citizens on income derived from anywhere in the world, but the states can only tax income derived from sources within that state (which is the normal practice for other countries as well). The next time Trump mentions the word 'sovereignty,' I'd love to see his detractors refer to taxes and throw that in his face.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | No sir. We are not. I'm referring to the noble savage authors who committed treason against our civilization. 8)


Pinker's claims about us have a propensity
to produce refutations of high density
some scholars they flip out
when confronted with doubt
but our concern has moved on to intensity



Heh. My knowledge of the more poetic use of our language is about as gutter-born as it can get, but I DO note that this effort forces me to say what I mean in FAR fewer words. That's probably a good thing for all concerned.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

The federal government can tax U.S. citizens on income derived from anywhere in the world


I'm always reminded of the Monty Python line, "I would tax all foreigners living abroad."


In California, the Republican who opposed the measure wanted to amend it to add birth certificates as well. I don't see that as a problem (Obama released his birth certificate in 2008 - Trump just saw no benefit in accepting the same 'short form' birth certificate that every government agency accepts as a routine matter).


I don't have a problem asking for a candidate to prove he is a natural born US Citizen. I have a problem with pretending he hasn't done that long after he has. I also have a problem with what's bad for Obama not being bad for Ted Cruz.

During the birther thing, I remember some right-wing talking point that what President Obama had released was a "Certificate of live birth", which was apparently something different from a "Birth Certificate". Curious, I looked up my own certified copy of the thing that proves to employers that I'm eligible to work in the United States, and it says it is a "Certificate of live birth".

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | What on earth did they pull the gray version for?

Probably Charlottesville.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Which presumes human extinction & replacement.

The technically more useful description of what we are doing is self-domestication. Such people are still human, but the social order that emerges from them tends to be more tame... hence Pinker's claim that we are somewhat less violent.

The best counter-claim I've seen regarding Pinker goes like this. Yes... we are less violent on average now, but when we DO lapse, our violence is very intense. Many more deaths occur in very short time periods now than ever before. That kind of violence shocks in ways a more average, low level, grinding violence can not.

The counter to this claim, though, is that our technological ability to act against large numbers of people has grown recently, so the desire to do such things in the past had no real outlet for most of us. Maybe it has always been there and we settled for the lower intensity violence we could afford. Thus, it might not be a new thing, so don't get bent out of shape about it.

Most of the non-scholarly counters to Pinker, however, appear to come from those who believe humans are inherently sinful. That makes Pinker guilty of heresy. The cool thing about heresies, though, is that they are NOT if they can be reasonably proven. Instead, the believer is forced to face an error of faith.

A.F. Rey said...

Unfortunately, admitting an error in faith is an error in faith. :)

donzelion said...

ALfred: LOL, "I DO note that this effort forces me to say what I mean in FAR fewer words. That's probably a good thing for all concerned."

I must as well, my prose unswell. ;-)


Alfred Differ said...

@A.F. Rey | yah. Compounded upon another one since we are supposed to recognize that we are fallible. The question is whether we still are when Truth is Revealed to us. I'm not a believer, so I don't have a dog in this race, but from what I've read it would seem our fallibility is inescapable. Even when told a truth, we can screw it up.

Because the popular understanding of Galileo's trial is so wrong, I took some time to study the way the Catholic Church deals with heresy trials and correcting errors of faith. I wanted to get it right when teaching astronomy. Guilty until proven Innocent seems to be the rule, but at least they have room for such a proof. Not easy, of course, but then they ARE worrying about immortal souls. I'd probably be ultra-cautious too regarding change if I believed in such things. I like to think I wouldn't be trapped, however, in a pastoralist view of things, but who knows.

Ultimately, though, it seems like a colossal waste of our gift of mind to avoid self-correction. Our need to rely upon each other to see what we cannot ourselves see exercises our gift of love. If I was a believer, that would strike me as such an obvious coincidence that it couldn't be a coincidence at all. Practice your gifts or suffer. Choose.

Alfred Differ said...

A dopamine low, causes minds to slow
Sparing Paul SB, my clutter-filled spree.

David Brin said...

Jon, he died after just a few hours on the cross. Most took a week or more

Catfish… I explain Isaac’s decadal rhythms of explanation followed by critique, followed by a new rationalization… here.
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-robots-and-foundation-universe.html

And yes, I brought it full circle back to the Foundation.

Actually, you did a fair job of summarizing a difficult situation.

LH: “All of the subsequent novels, including the ones by the three B's, took place earlier in time, when Hari Seldon was still alive.”

Yes, though the “wager” I have Hari offer Daneel, in FOUNDATION’S TRIUMPH refers to the one piece of information we have that is dates many centuries LATER that Foundation & Earth!

“BOOK 1: A tale set near the end of the interregnum, when the establishment of a Second Empire is getting close, but is not yet a certain thing, and there is opposition acting against it ever happening.”

That is what I imply happening, in my timeline, with a great conference taking place on Pengia, to decide what to do about Gaia/Galaxia. Here's that special denouement that I promised in the afterword of Foundation's Triumph!

David Brin said...


Locum’s 2nd poem actually wasn’t insane, but thought provoking. Alas, he only scratches the ruminations I do in FT.

=========
Clutching the one book of Kindergarten,
Perma-children rave and rant and drool,
Denouncing any other book (like science),
That trains co-creators - graduate school.

Dreading any grownup skill or duty,
They clutch certainty, and Daddy’s lap.
“Kindergarten lasts till we all drop at seventy!
“God forbid that we’ll ever grow up!”

Apprentice creators join Dad’s workshop,
And many girls/boys can sing that song!
But unlike Pan, these Lost Boys hate all fun.
Adventure, like knowledge, is all wrong!

So, on His lap they cry out Daddy’s glory,
As if that’s why he made us, just to praise.
To live then die in fear and adulation,
Cursing those who grow up, and create.

David Brin said...

Here's that FT denouement

http://www.davidbrin.com/fiction/foundationdenouement1.html

Alfred Differ said...

Speaking of reading other books, the big Gravitation book by Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler was still new when I was in school. I remember two of my professors buying it and trying to self-learn enough general relatively to be useful. They did it as a team in what was an obvious statement that they could not do it alone. I imitated them a few years later and bought my own copy and could see why I needed a team too.

I had the pleasure many more years later of presenting at a gravitation conference a paper that touched on their field along a tangent. Classical field theories can be geometrized with or without curvature and one of them stumbled upon by my professor and one of his other students had some neat features. In the front row was one of the authors who politely asked why he should learn this new stuff. I had failed to motivate the audience before showing them the meme to be acquired. In a moment of honesty, I told him there was no reason until his theory had more unexplainable issues than it had. His smile said that was the right answer.

Today, I have the pleasure of seeing that his theory does and the next generation is tackling it and pushing the consideration of alternatives. Apparently the field is still healthy with physicists still reading the big book of Creation and translating it into smaller books that are still big enough to act as excellent door stops. Between holographic weirdness and this bi-metric notion with oscillations, I couldn't be happier for them all.

https://phys.org/news/2017-09-gravitational-oscillate-neutrinos.html

Bill_in_the Middle said...

Robert, Google advised it couldn't find the link as typed.

Alfred Differ said...

...and then there is this particular book.


https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-09-exosomes-link-insulin-resistance-diabetes.html


The more years go by, the more I think of these researchers as engineers.

I'm a member of a civilization that is learning how to do this. 8)

David Brin said...

Alfred I owned a copy of MTW in binder form!

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

LH: “All of the subsequent novels, including the ones by the three B's, took place earlier in time, when Hari Seldon was still alive.”

Yes, though the “wager” I have Hari offer Daneel, in FOUNDATION’S TRIUMPH refers to the one piece of information we have that is dates many centuries LATER that Foundation & Earth!


I'm as critical of Asimov himself as I am of any other writer for turning the Foundation series into something else. To me, that is reverse alchemy--turning gold into lead.

That state of affairs is certainly not your doing, and I'm taking great pains not to be dismissive of your handling of the task as presented. I'm just pointing out that the task you were given was different from what I (personally) longed to see in a Foundation sequel--an actual continuation of the original series without the need to tie it into the Robot history or out-of-nowhere concepts like Galaxia. "Psychohistorical Crisis" is as close as I can imagine to what I was looking for.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin again:

Yes, though the “wager” I have Hari offer Daneel, in FOUNDATION’S TRIUMPH refers to the one piece of information we have that is dates many centuries LATER that Foundation & Earth!


Yes, I loved that you threw that in there, and it reminded me that we already did know something from 1060 FE. But that made me even more unsatisfied with the later books that Asimov himself wrote. Because he ignored that fact that he himself had given us, and instead took the series into (what seemed to me to be) such a divergent course that it couldn't possibly get back on track to recover the original Seldon Plan on the original schedule. Asimov took us to a divergent future that couldn't lead to the *no spoilers* references we saw in the original books, and then abandoned the future altogether for an endless retrospective on Hari Seldon the man.

Gold into lead. My own personal opinion and taste, of course.

NoOne said...

I for one loved the Galaxia (super Gaia) idea originated in Foundation's Edge and continued in Foundation and Earth. And, I thought that the Dominion (in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) came close to what Galaxia beings might be like (without being completely evil of course). In fact, Asimov (and David or anyone else authorized to continue the series) could easily have imagined the next threat facing an emerging Galaxia: the entire super organism almost gets hijacked by aliens from Andromeda (or wherever). The failure of Galaxia would then be seen as stemming from the single organism mode with the correction being continuous oscillation between the one and the many. This is why "objective" artifacts like books etc. are necessary to counteract the extreme nature of the single organism (which of course has its own strengths like a solo perspective).

David very clearly saw this and there's an exchange between Seldon and Olivaw (in Foundation's Triumph) where Seldon asks if there's any need for books in Galaxia. I think the single organism mode could be the harbinger of the next major crisis confronting the fledgling Second Empire based on Galaxia.

Paul SB said...

Is verbosity truly better in verse than in prose?
Or is it six of one, half a dozen of the other, you suppose?

Slim Moldie said...

Regarding Foundation Series and Asimov

Some of you are overlooking the self-imposed constraint Asimov chose when he created his human-only universe. Recall the whole John W Campbell platform of human superiority over aliens. David enhanced the series by adding the Xenocide at the hands of the robots in FT.

Frankly when I was a teenager reading Foundation’s Edge and Earth I thought the whole I/ We Gaia thing was annoying as hell. But with a bit of hindsight. Bliss and the Solarian child—both of whom are not “human” are Asimov winking several times while he opens the door to ETs as players at the table for the post foundation second empire.

This would lead me to wonder, if the series continued after Foundation and Earh, would the “Bad Check” of Asimov’s fiction--Daneel Olivaw or one of his pupils mutate and come up with some sort of idk, asymptotic law of robotics? A robot that values sapience . Oh, but wait, didn’t the 3 Bs address that, too? :)

Regarding a description of the Trump presidency from earlier. I would go with
“The Interruption.” Or “The Commercial Break.” I was trying to cobble something together with placental expulsion and fistula, but I’ve got a cold and am not thinking clearly enough.

Which leads directly to my dumb Star Wars thought which came to me while hacking up flem in the shower. Star Wars the Science Fiction equivalent to hacking up flem in the shower. Anyway, I started thinking about how Jabba the Hutt is the best SW example of 45. But then I had to quickly correct that because Jabba gives us evidence of intelligence, plus who would be his Kremlin handler? Obviously that cute little Jim Henson monkey-lizard muppet thing, which actually has a name you can look up, Salacious Crumb. But then it hit me. What if Jabba’s little pet was actually the real brain in the operation and the slug was just the little guy's avatar/mouthpiece via telepathy-- explaining why the Jedi mind tricks wouldn’t work and leaving the door open to bring the real Hutt back. Oh the horror. The horror. Ack ack ack

Tony Fisk said...

@Slim, did you ever come across the theory that the ultimate Sith Lord was, in fact, Jar-Jar Binks? It was very well argued, but the counter-argument was devastating.

LarryHart said...

Slim Moldie:

Some of you are overlooking the self-imposed constraint Asimov chose when he created his human-only universe. Recall the whole John W Campbell platform of human superiority over aliens. David enhanced the series by adding the Xenocide at the hands of the robots in FT.


I'm not overlooking it so much as willfully ignoring it. There was nothing in the sense of the original Foundation trilogy that implied there was a question or a mystery about how the galaxy became populated with humans. I never thought of it as anything other than an analogy of the earthly continents populated by humans.

Think of it this way--I'm presuming you're familiar with the Russian novella "Metamorphosis", which explores what happens to a human being who wakes up one morning as a giant bug. The book never explains nor implies the need to explain the mechanism by which that transformation occurred. It starts with the premise and explores consequences.

When I use the Dave Sim-ism of "a kind of reverse alchemy, turning gold into lead", I mean specifically the fact that the series became driven by some kind of "need" to explain its fantastic premise as part of the history established in a completely separate series of stories--the robot books. In Brin-related terms, I don't want to slog through a sequel of (say) Glory Season or The Postman full of convoluted and dubious "explanations" of how those books fit into the Uplift universe.


Frankly when I was a teenager reading Foundation’s Edge and Earth I thought the whole I/ We Gaia thing was annoying as hell. But with a bit of hindsight. Bliss and the Solarian child—both of whom are not “human” are Asimov winking several times while he opens the door to ETs as players at the table for the post foundation second empire.


I was a bit older when those books came out, but I figured there was a third book of that new "trilogy" coming out because of the cliffhanger ending. If there was anything to explore in that direction, Asimov decided to abandon such exploration. It would be as if Star Wars had gone back to the prequel trilogy after ESB and never resolved Han Solo's kidnapping or the mystery of Luke's parentage.


Regarding a description of the Trump presidency from earlier. I would go with
“The Interruption.” Or “The Commercial Break.”


Yeah, there is something to be said for describing the Trump (University) Administration in terms of tv, especially reality tv. I imagine TV-Guide style teasers for new episodes along the lines of "Season Premiere: Last season was all a dream! But wait. What is Neil Gorsuch still doing on the Supreme Court?"

George said...

LOL

Marino said...

"Think of it this way--I'm presuming you're familiar with the Russian novella "Metamorphosis"
Ahem...Franz Kafka was Czech, and lived most of his life in the Austro-Hungarian Empire...

LarryHart said...

@Marino,

While I'm sure you know your stuff, I coulda sworn I read that book during high school while doing Russian novellas.

I trust my point stands.

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/21/world/asia/kim-trump-rocketman-dotard.html


Responding directly for the first time to President Trump’s threat at the United Nations to destroy nuclear-armed North Korea, its leader called Mr. Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” on Friday and vowed the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.”


I don't know who to root for.

David Brin said...

LH - Like many, I was incensed, in the 1970s, when Asimov decided tocombine the robots and foundation universes. The latter… though later and interstellar, had no robots! Explaining that situation so it might make senses became the central obsession and it demanded the central tragedy — a deliberate lobotomization of humanity. A reversal in which the “masters” were vastly numerous, un-knowing, cheap and manipulated en masse, while the “servants” were few, all-powerful, all knowing and in complete control.

As it happens, after making that one, self-indulgent unification, Isaac proceeded to brilliantly explore implications, one after another. And I humbly followed, tying it all together. And leading to a return of human sovereignty.

What I have Hari say is: “Bring on your Galaxia and your Spacers and even invaders! They’ll be absorbed by the bigger civilization I’ve ignited. And there will be encyclopedias.”

NoOne shows what the conflict would be in the sequel I had contemplated.The ultimate compromise between Galaxia and the Foundation.

LarryHart said...

From what I'm hearing on the radio this morning, the latest bribe attempt to get Senator Murkowski's vote on the Graham-Cassidy "health care" bill is...that her home state of Alaska would be allowed to keep Obamacare rather than be subjected to the monstrosity they want her to vote for.

This is getting more farcical by the moment. How the f### does this even count as "budget reconciliation"?

A while back, we noted with sadness that the American president could no longer be plausibly referred to as "the leader of the free world." Now, I'm afraid that the United States can no longer be plausibly referred to as "a nation of laws."

Viking said...

@NoOne

I am not aware of lack of individuality in the STDS9 universe's Dominion.

I do thing TNG's Borg is a more apt analogy to Galaxia.

Since we are talking about North Korea, anytime I read more about those poor creatures, it brings memories of this Frederick Pohl story:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_at_the_End_of_Time

Especially the interregnum:

"Upon arriving in orbit, their ship is badly damaged and Viktor is forced into the onboard freezer systems. They are eventually rescued and unfrozen four hundred of the colony's years later, to find the colony in an even more desperate situation. The star around which the colony's world orbits has dimmed considerably (due to the energy being siphoned off to accelerate it) and they are now travelling so fast that, due to relativistic effects, the universe around them has shrunk to a bright dot. The colony has become factionalized and heavily religious, with scientific investigation discouraged."

PS, re Trump and North Korea, except for the imbecile overtones in referring to Rocket Man etc from pop culture (I cringe at idolization of dancers, athletes, musicians, actors, TV personalities, ETC, they can stay in the Team America universe with the other popular airheads), there is not much difference between Bill Clinton's threats and Trump's threats:

http://www.nytimes.com/1993/07/13/world/clinton-s-warning-irks-north-korea.html

Both were threatening the destruction of North Korea.

donzelion said...

Viking:

Bill Clinton tried both 'carrots and sticks'
The 'Agreed Framework' appears to have worked
Until Congress cut it off (those pricks)
In the war over Monica's skirts.

Junior tried 'sticks and more sticks'
"Evil axis must fall"
Sent Saddam packing, but never got cracking
On the bastard that hijacked us all.

Obama tried 'strengthen the South' - TPP
Link all our friends to a bloc
So that northerners learned of prosperity
As a possible reward for straight talk.

Did it work? I don't know.
South did certainly grow
As did West v. East Germany
And in time, just perhaps, it's the way that we win
Without shooting one enemy.

donzelion said...

Today in solar energy - anyone paying attention?

Notice the solar panel ruling by the International Trade Commission? Bloomberg noted that Suniva, the "Georgia-based" company that went bankrupt, claiming 'cheap imports,' is itself a subsidiary majority-owned by a Chinese manufacturer, Shunfeng, which opposes the lawsuit. Hmmm...

In Irma's wake, I've seen substantial spread of a story Wired reported last year about how Florida sought to hamper solar investments. Florida's bill essentially pit non-solar homes v. solar homes, just in time for the 2016 elections. That's unlike Nevada, where their own similar solar laws took effect months before the 2016 elections, galvanizing out-of-work solar installers to vote the opposite way...Intriguing...

donzelion said...

And one less serious observation, though our host may have all his worst fears confirmed:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/22/saudi-arabia-accidentally-prints-textbook-showing-yoda-sitting/?WT.mc_id=tmgoff_fb_tmg

No wonder he thinks Yoda is the most evil character in all of human literature. There he was, masterminding the formation of the UN! (No accident, the 'unofficial capital' of Saudi Arabia at the time was Jeddah, rather than Riyadh...not unlike Jedha, where light sabers come from...).

More seriously: this is the sort of error that illustrates how Saudi textbooks are formed, fitting my contention that their infrequent lapses into horrific slander reflect less a national policy or conspiracy to foment hatred than editorial laziness (a problem that occasionally befuddles even American textbook publishers, though few show any American leaders secretly guided by the green villain).

LarryHart said...

@donzelion,

Wasn't there some similar famous picture with Osama Bin Laden and Burt from Sesame Street?

LarryHart said...

I may have to start liking John McCain again.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/us/politics/mccain-graham-cassidy-health-care.html


“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” Mr. McCain said. “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”


Not quite "I like democratic governments that don't get captured," but 'twill serve.

* * *

From the same article, how the f### does Senator Cassidy reconcile these two things? Emphasis mine.


But Mr. Cassidy said: “The Affordable Care Act has become too unaffordable for too many people. As long as that’s the case, I’m going to continue working for something that works for that fellow with a daughter who has a pre-existing condition who’s right now paying about $40,000 a year. That’s unaffordable.
...
The bill would also give states the ability to opt out of insurance regulations under the health law. States would be able to seek federal waivers that would allow insurers to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing medical conditions ...

David Brin said...

onward

onward


(Though donzelion: 60 years of relentless "all Jews must be killed!" rants in nearly all textbooks may be a bit hard to explain with "inadvertence.")

Onward

onward

Jon S. said...

You misunderstand the point of that interpretation of the Cross. It wasn't to teach God about suffering - remember, the job description requires Him to be omniscient, so of course he knows about it.

It's to prove to His creation that He understands.

Bill_in_the Middle said...

From a historical perspective, I would offer the moniker "The Wrong President". Not only the one who had fewer votes but the one who consistently makes the wrong decisions and acts in an inappropriate way.

Berial said...

For titles I'd go for something like 'Littlefingers' or 'Zaphod Beeblebrox'.