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Bloggingheads
03-22-2008, 09:27 AM

abaris
03-22-2008, 11:01 AM
As a Slovenian, I protest. The first concept of a geosynchronous satellite was proposed by Herman Potočnik - Noordung in 1928. Arhur C. Clark once wrote this:

<i>"This afternoon just as I was leaving for the Otters Club to beat up the locals at table tennis, I noticed two young European backpackers hovering around my gate. Stopped to find who they were, and discovered they were a couple of Slovenes, who'd hiked here to deliver this book to me!! Do you know it? I've never seen the original, and the illustrations are fascinating. Though of course, I was familiar with some of them, notably the space station design."</i>

You can find more about this here:
http://noordung.vesolje.net/vsebina/book.htm

thprop
03-22-2008, 11:59 AM
For me, the biggest "science" story of the week occurred Thursday evening at the Mall of America in Minnesota. The best laugh I have had in sometime. You cannot make this stuff up - not even the people at The Onion would make this up for one of their fake news stories. I don't think I can do justice to it so -
read the story in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/21/science/21expelledw.html)
PZ Meyers first blog entry (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/expelled.php) on the event
His second blog entry (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/a_late_night_quick_one.php)
Greg Laden's links to the story (http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/03/pz_myers_expelled_gains_sainth.php)

Briefly, there is a crap "documentary" with Ben Stein (http://www.benstein.com/stein2.html) titled Expelled. (http://www.expelledthemovie.com/) It shills for intelligent design. Some evolutionary biologists, including PZ Myers, appear in the movie. They were told that they were being interviewed for a movie called "Crossroads" that would explore the conflict between science and religion. Their comments were taken out of context and spliced with scenes of Nazi atrocities. Myers signed up, under his own name, to see a screening of the movie. He was not allowed in. His family and guests were allowed in to see it. One of his guests was not recognized - even though he appears in the movie. I guess Richard Dawkins is not that easy to recognize.

piscivorous
03-22-2008, 12:34 PM
Perhaps they should have read the book before seeing the movie. The symbology may have been self evident both in the "evil" nature of HAL and the obtuse ending.

bjkeefe
03-22-2008, 01:06 PM
For me, the biggest "science" story of the week occurred Thursday evening at the Mall of America in Minnesota.

Yeah, I saw that. Wasn't that just absolutely delicious?

Thanks for the extra links.

bjkeefe
03-22-2008, 01:32 PM
My nerd gland is low on secretions at the moment, which I'm sure will come as a big relief to the herd, but I do want to touch on a few things that John and George seem to have missed regarding Sir Arthur.

o It's a bit of an insult to say that Clarke's book was a "novelization." In fact, he wrote the book in parallel with the shooting of the movie, and is famously noted for talking about the experience of being able each day to write the next chapter after seeing the film rushes from the previous day. "The most expensive way to write a novel ever," he often said.

o Concerning the evil nature of HAL, it is an open question whether Clarke gave the answer or just supplied a rationalization, but in 2010: Odyssey Two, the explanation goes something like this: Part of HAL's programming involving mission goals was concealed from the astronauts aboard the Discovery. On the other hand, he was also designed to be as supportive as possible to the human crew. Eventually, a conflict developed between these two design parameters, the secret part of the programming involving the missions goals was determined to take priority, and the logical way to resolve the internal conflict was to remove the humans from the situation. This can be seen as a commentary on bad software design, the stupidity of the higher ups who send foot soldiers into dangerous situations, or some combination of the two.

o The Star Child at the end of 2001 is nothing more than the next step in the directed/forced evolution of the species of semi-intelligent apes that those who built the monoliths had taken on as a project. Recall that the story starts with a monolith appearing near a group of pre-Neanderthal-type "people." The implication in the movie is that the monolith has something to do with stimulating the use of tools. This is explicit in the book. At the end of the story, the sole surviving astronaut, Dave Bowman, is pushed through a rapid program that changes him into the next level of being, to the point where he becomes the Star Child.

Some of this is also open to debate as to whether Kubrick and Clarke were following the storyline in lockstep. The movie can be seen that way, and it can also be seen as Clarke watching Kubrick go his own way and then imposing a little bit of a logical or explicative framework around it.

The best book that Clarke wrote, IMNSHO, is Fountains of Paradise. I have something between a dream and a belief that the central technological marvel in that book will be built in the near future: the space elevator. As far as I understand it, R&D funds have been being spent on this for some years now. The biggest remaining hurdle is strong enough material for the cables.

As with geosynchronous satellites, Clarke is not the originator of the idea, and as with the satellite, he was quite careful to make that clear. But there's a good chance he'll be remembered for that, too, just as many people refer to those TV satellites up there as being in the Clarke Orbit. Apologies to our fellow Slovenian forum participants for the orbit, and to our Russian friends for the elevator. USA! USA! USA! Oh, wait, Clarke was British.

Okay. I'll stop there for the moment. Sorry for gushing, but Clarke is one of my all-time favorites. His sense of optimism was infectious.

bjkeefe
03-22-2008, 01:48 PM
I forget whether John or George said this, but the point was made that HAL was by far the most memorable character developed by Arthur Clarke. I agree. To the following point, though, that there aren't vivid characters across sci-fi, I don't completely agree. I accept that there is a lower than average population, compared to other genres.

Here are some of the memorable SF characters that come to my mind:

o Heinlein's Lazarus Long, Slipstick Libby, D.D. Harriman, Manuel Garcia O'Kelly-Davis, Wyoming Knott, Prof. Bernardo de la Paz. Also, Heinlein did create a couple of memorable computer characters, Mike (HOLMES) and Gay Deceiver, along with everybody's favorite test tube baby, Friday.

o Asimov's Salvor Hardin, the first Mayor of Terminus in Foundation. Also, the Mule in one of the later Foundation books. Wendell Urth from several short stories.

o Mr. Spock. Also, Kirk, Uhuru, Sulu, Chekov, Scotty, and McCoy. And Harcourt Fenton Mudd.

o Picard, Worf, Data (and I rarely watched TNG)

o Those lames in the that other space series that only dorks like. Luke Solo? Hans Skywalker? Princess JarJar? Dick Cheney? Something like that.

o Sarah and John Connor. Also, cyborgs (Terminators) T-101 and T-1000.

Others?

bjkeefe
03-22-2008, 01:56 PM
I always had a different take on the physical appearance of the Overlords than John and the author of the NYT article did. To me, the fact that they looked like devils and hid themselves from the human race for several generations before finally showing themselves is just another example of Clarke's belief that religion was a childish aspect of humanity that could, and would, be grown out of. The appearance, then, is shown to be nothing more than a primitive, superstitious hang-up of insufficiently advanced people. It can also be interpreted as Clarke's impatience with prejudice based on superficial external differences.

Think about it. How cool would it be to have a prehensile tail? And horns would keep your hat on, even in high wind.

piscivorous
03-22-2008, 01:57 PM
o It's a bit of an insult to say that Clarke's book was a "novelization." In fact, he wrote the book in parallel with the shooting of the movie, and is famously noted for talking about the experience of being able each day to write the next chapter after seeing the film rushes from the previous day. "The most expensive way to write a novel ever," he often said.

o Concerning the evil nature of HAL, it is an open question whether Clarke gave the answer or just supplied a rationalization, but in 2010: Odyssey Two, the explanation goes something like this: Part of HAL's programming involving mission goals was concealed from the astronauts aboard the Discovery. On the other hand, he was also designed to be as supportive as possible to the human crew. Eventually, a conflict developed between these two design parameters, the secret part of the programming involving the missions goals was determined to take priority, and the logical way to resolve the internal conflict was to remove the humans from the situation. This can be seen as a commentary on bad software design, the stupidity of the higher ups who send foot soldiers into dangerous situations, or some combination of the two.

o The Star Child at the end of 2001 is nothing more than the next step in the directed/forced evolution of the species of semi-intelligent apes that those who built the monoliths had taken on as a project. Recall that the story starts with a monolith appearing near a group of pre-Neanderthal-type "people." The implication in the movie is that the monolith has something to do with stimulating the use of tools. This is explicit in the book. At the end of the story, the sole surviving astronaut, Dave Bowman, is pushed through a rapid program that changes him into the next level of being, to the point where he becomes the Star Child.

All three of these points were part of the original book, yet only touch on the symbology of creating a second sun in the solar system, "to remove the fear of the dark" and starting a new experiment in evolving life on one of it's former moons, now planet. The second book was actually written because having seen the movie no one was reading the original and demanded answers to what they didn't understand in the movie, oh and to probably make a buck or two off his new found audience. It was also written in a dumbed down; well since you weren't able to read between the rather obvious lines I'll give it to you at the 5th grade level style.

bjkeefe
03-22-2008, 02:12 PM
John:

Nice article and discussion about it. A big boost for hope.

I note another piece of evidence in support of the hypothesis that we might be able to evolve out of our apparent propensity for making war. Nearly unanimously, people in the US talk about the number of soldiers killed in Iraq as though it is a high number. It is, in many senses, and I'm glad we all agree. On the other hand, compared to other wars, it's way low, especially for five years of war. Granted, we still have that tribal thing going, where few of us seem to care much about the tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, but it's a start.

There's also a lot to be hopeful in the observation of the number of people with pacifist mindsets, and the larger number of people who fundamentally believe things like "war only as the last resort" and "war for defensive purposes only."

I want to add one line that I've never forgotten. I think it comes from a book called something like "But What About the Dog?" It's a novel of science fiction, involving time travel and endless war. People are arguing about the motivations and causes, and naturally, religion gets brought up. You'll not be surprised that I was ready to say "hear, hear."

However, the next line has a character saying, "Religion is not the cause of war. Religion is an excuse for war."

That kind of contradicts the thought that we can grow out of making war, but looked at in another way, one could say that war could be stopped if we concentrated on removing the excuses for starting to fight.

piscivorous
03-22-2008, 03:42 PM
John:

Nice article and discussion about it. A big boost for hope.

I note another piece of evidence in support of the hypothesis that we might be able to evolve out of our apparent propensity for making war. Nearly unanimously, people in the US talk about the number of soldiers killed in Iraq as though it is a high number. It is, in many senses, and I'm glad we all agree. On the other hand, compared to other wars, it's way low, especially for five years of war. Granted, we still have that tribal thing going, where few of us seem to care much about the tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, but it's a start.

There's also a lot to be hopeful in the observation of the number of people with pacifist mindsets, and the larger number of people who fundamentally believe things like "war only as the last resort" and "war for defensive purposes only."

I want to add one line that I've never forgotten. I think it comes from a book called something like "But What About the Dog?" It's a novel of science fiction, involving time travel and endless war. People are arguing about the motivations and causes, and naturally, religion gets brought up. You'll not be surprised that I was ready to say "hear, hear."

However, the next line has a character saying, "Religion is not the cause of war. Religion is an excuse for war."

That kind of contradicts the thought that we can grow out of making war, but looked at in another way, one could say that war could be stopped if we concentrated on removing the excuses for starting to fight.

It is obvious that certain societies and cultures are evolving away from war, it is unfortunate that this is not occurring universally across all cultures and societies. The Middle East is an example of where this evolution has been and to a large extent and still is unnaturally inhibited, thanks to there abundance of petroleum wealth and it's ability to support and sustain rule by dictators and tyrants. In order to allow for the evolution away from war and towards cooperation to progress this contagion of rule by diktat needs to be purged. It would be nice if dialog could achieve this, but the sustainability of this form of governance due to oil wealth makes this extremely unlikely.

I for one do not regret that we have placed ourselves smack dab in the middle of where this evolution must occur and are working to speed up the evolutionary process. An look at natural selection and evolution will reveal it to be a violent and destructive process, so one shouldn't be surprised that evolution to a more benevolent state of existence must necessarily dictate the destruction of those forces that oppose such evolution. In the world, as it used to be, time was one of our greatest allies in the evolutionary struggle towards a more benevolent existence; unfortunately the very ingenuity and cleverness we have used to allow for this evolution to occur now works to undo it. With the ever increasing rate of technological development and dispersal compressing the time line, for accomplishing this evolution, to a certain extent dictates intervention to restore the evolutionary process.

One would like that rhetorical speeches of indignation and outrage, or talking across the table would suffice in accomplishing such goals; but in some areas of the world, where this evolution is not occurring or in some cases regressing, intervention of the kinetic verity will be necessary and I see the Middle East a such an area and with their wealth from their petrol exports making it necessary now.

I don't think that I am the only one that holds this point of view and I close with a paraphrase from the grandson of the late Ayatollah Khomeini "The best thing that can happen to Iran is a swift American victory." this was said in 2001-2002 before we invaded Iraq and apparently he has not changed his mind Ayatollah's grandson calls for US overthrow of Iran (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/06/18/wiran18.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/06/18/ixnews.html) as of June last year.

P.S Edited for clarity. I would use strike through to do tis if it were available.

piscivorous
03-22-2008, 05:14 PM
I guess with all the important events of the last couple of weeks this minor issue has been overlooked by our science journalists. Climate facts to warm to (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23411799-7583,00.html) which has the following bit of informationMarohasy: "That's right. The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you've got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you're going to get a positive feedback. That's what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite ... (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they're actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you're getting a negative rather than a positive feedback."

Duffy: "The climate is actually, in one way anyway, more robust than was assumed in the climate models?"

Marohasy: "That's right ... These findings actually aren't being disputed by the meteorological community. They're having trouble digesting the findings, they're acknowledging the findings, they're acknowledging that the data from NASA's Aqua satellite is not how the models predict, and I think they're about to recognise that the models really do need to be overhauled and that when they are overhauled they will probably show greatly reduced future warming projected as a consequence of carbon dioxide."

look
03-22-2008, 06:10 PM
2001 was the first SciFi novel I ever read, and I lived for Clarke's books. I was surprised to hear John and/or George refer to HAL as evil...he was just very misunderstood! It was poignant when the astronaut was removing his program.

I have a faint memory of the protagonist from Childhood's End speculating that the physical appearance of the Overlords may have given rise to a sort of archetypal pre-memory that was the source of the form medieval devils took.

The idea that Earth will eventually give rise to a 'global consciousness' was explored in a very short story by Clarke, the title of which escapes me. It began with every phone in the world ringing simultaneously. When people picked up the receiver, all they heard was a gentle pulsing sound reminiscent of the ocean. Soon after, airplanes began taking off and missiles launching by themselves, etc. Apparently the computers and phone networks of the world had formed a consciousness...dun dun DUN!

Does anyone remember Harry Purvis from Tales from the White Hart? Harry was a customer who occasionally came into the White Hart, a tavern, and would come up with these clever stories that would sound outrageous, but by the end of the story there was just enough sense to them that they just might be true.

One of my favorite novels by Clarke was The Deep Range. It was a sweet story about an astronaut who'd been grounded by a space accident that so unnerved him that he couldn't return to space. So he was now in Australia working in the Great Barrier Reef on, IIRC, space-related science.

A couple years ago I saw Clarke on a PBS-style interview, and he was sharp as tack. One of the things the interviewer asked him about was a program being run in poor nations where computers, housed in black boxes, are placed in public places so children can come and play with them. With no instructions, they can figure out how to eventually get to the web, etc. Clarke noted that it was reminiscent of the monolith at the beginning of 2001.

Farewell, Sir Arthur.

piscivorous
03-22-2008, 06:17 PM
Yea he was great. Most people I know of think of him as a science fiction writer but he was much deeper than that.

look
03-22-2008, 06:49 PM
It was great to see John and George again and listen to their cozy chat. Besides the material covered, it's things like George's skepticism ('yeah, well...') and his great laugh plus John's humor that make this a quality show.

Big Bang, Big Shmang (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9616?in=00:26:11&out=26:35)

bjkeefe
03-22-2008, 06:58 PM
I guess with all the important events of the last couple of weeks this minor issue has been overlooked by our science journalists. Climate facts to warm to (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23411799-7583,00.html) which has the following bit of information

That'll be good news, if true.

Still, it's one article, an opinion piece at that, published in a newspaper that is not exactly one of the world's best known outside of Australia, commenting on something a biologist (not a climatologist) said on a talk show. This biologist works for a think tank that SourceWatch describes (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Institute_of_Public_Affairs) as conservative and "free market" in their ideology, going on to say, in part:

Its key policy positions include advocacy for privatisation, deregulation, reduction in the power of unions and denial of most significant environmental problems, including climate change.

The author of the opinion piece, Christopher Pearson, is evidently fairly well-respected. Still, he has a history of taking paychecks from right wing sources, and self-identifies (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Christopher_Pearson), in part, as follows: "In lots of respects I'm an old-fashioned radical libertarian." Not to say that this automatically means he's not credible, but it does make me think the odds are good that he's going to tend toward the denier/skeptic camp. This suspicion is supported by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Pearson).

This biologist, Jennifer Marohasy, has by her own admission (http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/about.php) done no real research work in more than a decade. It appears that she completed her Ph.D., maybe did a year or two at most of post-doc work, and then pursued a management/PR/advocacy career. She does not appear to have published any peer-reviewed results since her grad school days; her publications (http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/publications.php) in professional journals appear to be limited to commentary and criticism. And of course, her education was in biology, and not anything to do with climate science.

So I think your sarcastic tone and implication that the "news" is being ignored are a little uncalled for, and I'd say it's probably a tad premature to declare: "Global warming. Not. Case closed."

look
03-22-2008, 07:03 PM
-Niven's Luis Wu, Speaker-to-Animals, Teela Brown, and Beowulf Shaeffer

bjkeefe
03-22-2008, 07:03 PM
look:

Does anyone remember Harry Purvis from Tales from the White Hart?

Yes! Those were fun stories.

A couple years ago I saw Clarke on a PBS-style interview, and he was sharp as tack.

He remained so. See here (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2008/03/another-piece-of-childhood-ends.html) for a video shot on his 90th birthday, three months ago.

look
03-22-2008, 07:19 PM
Very nice, Brendan, thanks for the link.

Wonderment
03-22-2008, 07:40 PM
I heard Clarke speak once, probably around 1970. The thing he said that I always remembered, and never really heard from anyone else, was that the ideal stable population for planet Earth was 100,000 humans.

He had chosen that number because he thought that would give you a rough chance of knowing everyone on the planet in your lifetime. An interesting criterion.

piscivorous
03-22-2008, 08:14 PM
That'll be good news, if true.

Still, it's one article, an opinion piece at that, published in a newspaper that is not exactly one of the world's best known outside of Australia, commenting on something a biologist (not a climatologist) said on a talk show. This biologist works for a think tank that SourceWatch describes (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Institute_of_Public_Affairs) as conservative and "free market" in their ideology, going on to say, in part:



The author of the opinion piece, Christopher Pearson, is evidently fairly well-respected. Still, he has a history of taking paychecks from right wing sources, and self-identifies (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Christopher_Pearson), in part, as follows: "In lots of respects I'm an old-fashioned radical libertarian." Not to say that this automatically means he's not credible, but it does make me think the odds are good that he's going to tend toward the denier/skeptic camp. This suspicion is supported by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Pearson).

This biologist, Jennifer Marohasy, has by her own admission (http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/about.php) done no real research work in more than a decade. It appears that she completed her Ph.D., maybe did a year or two at most of post-doc work, and then pursued a management/PR/advocacy career. She does not appear to have published any peer-reviewed results since her grad school days; her publications (http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/publications.php) in professional journals appear to be limited to commentary and criticism. And of course, her education was in biology, and not anything to do with climate science.

So I think your sarcastic tone and implication that the "news" is being ignored are a little uncalled for, and I'd say it's probably a tad premature to declare: "Global warming. Not. Case closed."

I see don't like the science disparage the source. But then again from the interviewMarohasy: "Well, the head of the IPCC has suggested natural factors are compensating for the increasing carbon dioxide levels... But you are quite right that it is not "Global warming. Not. Case closed." but then again it points more and more in the direction of "Global warming. Consensus Not."

There is also this "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. and that my friend is a factl (http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/001320pachauri_on_recent_c.html).

Or The Mystery of Global Warming's Missing Heat (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88520025)

As far as the sarcasm goes it is about the extended political discussion of Iraq, based on their feelings about it. They do call the diavlog Science Saturday after all not the The Moral and Philosophical Ramblings of a Couple of Science Writers Saturday. Just my own particular peccadillo for the tendency of this to occur when ever these two get together. And since you and others tend to "rate" the diavlogs this minor bit of hypocrisy " I think your sarcastic tone and implication that the "news" is being ignored are a little uncalled for" is "a little uncalled for"

Wonderment
03-22-2008, 11:55 PM
As the resident pacifist around here, I feel obliged to both thank John profusely for doing this research and to take a shot at answering the Big Question .

My level of confidence that war is inevitable (and sooner or later terminal for civilization) is about 80%.

I'm sort of an anomaly in the peace activist community, since virtually everyone I know is much more optimistic and hopeful. I'm glad John is hopeful too. We need hopeful people.

I think the strongest evidence for pessimism comes from anthropology and primatology: chimapanzees turn out to be homicidal gangbangers; orangutans are rapists; gorillas are infanticidal terrorists. So much for the great apes (i.e, us).

Primate aggression is bad enough, but xenophobic violence in humans is considerably worse. Chimps just form gangs and beat up the other "fuckers" (literally); we rationalize (and industrialize) the same behavior.

The "logic" of Yanomami violence is pretty depressing. The culture of murder, rape and kidnapping among the Yanomami is based on paranoia. You merely have to imagine that your enemy is plotting against you. The excuse for a murderous rampage is typically "sorcery." Someone gets sick in Village A, so it must be a sorcerer at work in Village B. Let's go ambush him, kill him and his brothers, steal his daughters and use them as sex slaves.

Street gang warfare is the same. So-and-so "looked funny" at my bitch. He disrespected us. He's dead.

Just like Bush, actually. Anti-Arab xenophobia was in the air after 9/11. In a paranoid frenzy we were susceptible to Sadaam as the Big Sorcerer who dissed us. The witchcraft he had was the imaginary WMDs.

Bottom line: It's like Field of Dreams: If you build the human male, the memes to justify mass murder will come.

In John's Discovery article he identifies the big problems (emphasis added):

Despite the signs of progress against our belligerent side, all these scientists emphasize that if war is not inevitable, neither is peace. Major obstacles include religious fundamentalism, which not only triggers conflicts but also contributes to the suppression of women; global warming, which might produce ecological crises that spur social unrest and violence; overpopulation, particularly when it produces a surplus of unmarried, unemployed young men; and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

He also has the right ideas of promoting the education of females, promoting democracy, seriously studying nonviolent conflict resolution, creating a global culture of peace.

I'll keep at for the rest of my life, but I don't expect miracles.

sammythecat
03-23-2008, 06:10 AM
Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars, and Jules Verne's Captain Nemo.

bjkeefe
03-23-2008, 12:59 PM
I heard Clarke speak once, probably around 1970. The thing he said that I always remembered, and never really heard from anyone else, was that the ideal stable population for planet Earth was 100,000 humans.

He had chosen that number because he thought that would give you a rough chance of knowing everyone on the planet in your lifetime. An interesting criterion.

In Imperial Earth, he makes the case for 1 billion as being ideal, too. Another pleasant dream.

bjkeefe
03-23-2008, 01:00 PM
Sammy:

I have not read either of those, sadly, but it strengthens your nominations to say that I do well know the characters.

bjkeefe
03-23-2008, 01:34 PM
pisc:

I see don't like the science disparage the source.

I would have bet my house that this was going to be your immediate response. Of course, it never bothers guys like you to label everyone who offers evidence or analysis contrary to your view as liberals bent on making you buy CFLs or academics determined only to keep their research grants alive. Or to say "AL GORE LIVES IN A BIG HOUSE!!! PLUS HE'S FAT!!! ZOMG!!! LOL!!!"

I was not disparaging the source. I was asking you to consider the source: a professional advocate whose earlier scientific training was in another field, whose words were uttered on a talk show and were being recounted by another source whose history and political leanings are also well-known, in an opinion piece in a newspaper. I'm sorry if I fail to agree that this is "science."

I don't want to get into another debate about global warming with you, especially when what passes for supporting evidence in your estimation is third-hand hearsay. How can you be sure the IPCC chairman was being quoted correctly, or if so, that the remarks are in their proper context? Maybe they are, maybe they're not. The point is, you are lunging for bits like this with a complete lack of critical thinking.

I'll be the first to admit that there remains a great deal of uncertainty about global warming, especially when it comes to making projections based on computer modeling and noisy data. I'll also agree that we should not grab for the first giant government-run "solution" that comes down the pike in response to this problem. But I cannot understand why guys like you are so content to ignore the reasonable case for the possible calamities. I must say, your chronic willingness to pick out individual bits of data that you like, while ignoring all the rest that you don't, serves only as an impediment to addressing real concerns in a responsible and adult fashion.

Since you bring up Iraq, I will note that your attitude in this area mirrors your approach to talking about global warming. Your habit is to bring up little cherries, like casualty rates considered over carefully selected time spans, while dismissing any view of the big picture, like the trillion-dollar price tag, the continued lack of Iraqi national stability, and the absence of any sort of exit strategy for the US. You then use these bits to claim that everyone who doesn't agree with you is involved in some sort of conspiracy to suppress The Truth.

It's flat-out juvenile, is what it is. If you really want us all to make progress on these critical issues, you ought to consider an approach other than rigidly clinging to your view of how things ought to be.

bjkeefe
03-23-2008, 01:43 PM
Wonderment:

I'll keep at for the rest of my life, but I don't expect miracles.

That strikes me as a good attitude. There are many factors against ending war and other violence, but there are also plenty of signs of hope. The best, and maybe the only, thing to do is just to keep at it.

While I'm not a complete pacifist, I do have your back.

piscivorous
03-23-2008, 03:04 PM
pisc:I would have bet my house that this was going to be your immediate response. Of course, it never bothers guys like you to label everyone who offers evidence or analysis contrary to your view as liberals bent on making you buy CFLs or academics determined only to keep their research grants alive. Or to say "AL GORE LIVES IN A BIG HOUSE!!! PLUS HE'S FAT!!! ZOMG!!! LOL!!!"

I was not disparaging the source. I was asking you to consider the source: a professional advocate whose earlier scientific training was in another field, whose words were uttered on a talk show and were being recounted by another source whose history and political leanings are also well-known, in an opinion piece in a newspaper. I'm sorry if I fail to agree that this is "science."


This biologist works for a think tank that SourceWatch describes as conservative and "free market" in their ideology...
I would call that disparaging the source.

The author of the opinion piece, Christopher Pearson, is evidently fairly well-respected. Still, he has a history of taking paychecks from right wing sources,... I would call that disparaging the source.
This biologist, Jennifer Marohasy, has by her own admission done no real research work in more than a decade. It appears that she completed her Ph.D., maybe did a year or two at most of post-doc work, and then pursued a management/PR/advocacy career. She does not appear to have published any peer-reviewed results since her grad school days; her publications in professional journals appear to be limited to commentary and criticism. And of course, her education was in biology, and not anything to do with climate science.
I would label the sentence above as disparaging the source and I suppose that all the members of the IPCC have formal educations that have something to do "with climate science."

I don't want to get into another debate about global warming with you, especially when what passes for supporting evidence in your estimation is third-hand hearsay. How can you be sure the IPCC chairman was being quoted correctly, or if so, that the remarks are in their proper context? Maybe they are, maybe they're not. The point is, you are lunging for bits like this with a complete lack of critical thinking.
That is a bit of failure in critical reasoning itself. I have to take the numerous sources, that make reference to the chairmans statement as factual representations of them given no denials that I can find by either the chairman himself or his surrogates.

I'll be the first to admit that there remains a great deal of uncertainty about global warming, especially when it comes to making projections based on computer modeling and noisy data. I'll also agree that we should not grab for the first giant government-run "solution" that comes down the pike in response to this problem. But I cannot understand why guys like you are so content to ignore the reasonable case for the possible calamities. I must say, your chronic willingness to pick out individual bits of data that you like, while ignoring all the rest that you don't, serves only as an impediment to addressing real concerns in a responsible and adult fashion.If one can't present responsible science, which yo so lightly dismiss as " individual bits of data", done by reputable scientists that point to the anomalies from the projected outcomes, given by the models, to suppot ones belief that the models are flawed then I guess Al Gore is right the debate is over.

Since you bring up Iraq, I will note that your attitude in this area mirrors your approach to talking about global warming. Your habit is to bring up little cherries, like casualty rates considered over carefully selected time spans, while dismissing any view of the big picture, like the trillion-dollar price tag, the continued lack of Iraqi national stability, and the absence of any sort of exit strategy for the US. You then use these bits to claim that everyone who doesn't agree with you is involved in some sort of conspiracy to suppress The Truth. So when I link to sights like Iraq Coalition Casualties (http://icasualties.org/oif/) or Iraq Body Count that (http://www.iraqbodycount.org/)"carefully selected time spans" encompasses the duration of campaign in Iraq. As far as the costs go in term of real money spent since the 2003 invasion it is about 600 billion. Since 2003 the GDP of the US is about 62,119 billion or about 9/10 of 1% percent of the GDP for that time period. Will the eventual cost be higher undoubtedly even if we could snap our fingers and have all troops and equipment home today the equipment reset cost, medical and benefit costs would continue. But these are future costs to be accounted for in future years of GDP.


It's flat-out juvenile, is what it is. If you really want us all to make progress on these critical issues, you ought to consider an approach other than rigidly clinging to your view of how things ought to be.

bjkeefe
03-23-2008, 03:14 PM
pisc:

Noted. I'll let you have the last word on this thread.

Nate
03-24-2008, 10:03 PM
For more information on why violence in general (of the war variety and others) is declining, as well as theories on why this is the case, Steven Pinker's TedTalk entitled "A Brief History of Violence" is excellent:
http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/163

(Robert Wright is even mentioned starting at around the 14:50 mark)

bjkeefe
03-24-2008, 10:34 PM
That's a good talk. Thanks for the link, Nate.

Wonderment
03-24-2008, 11:04 PM
Pinker makes some interesting points, but the trends towards diminishing levels of violence in democracies and modern civilization in general are offset, IMHO, by 1) the civilization-ending potentialities of WMD, and 2) the likelihood of planetary ecological disaster and/or non-state terror reversing both democratization and prosperity.

Also, I think Pinker's idea about a general heightening of moral sensibilities is questionable. Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Hitler and Bush/Cheney had ample access to human rights education. Pol Pot, for example, studied in France for four years, and both Hitler and Bush/Cheney won elections in democratic societies.

All these murderous sociopaths are atavistic, and there is little reason to assume we've learned much about preventing the future empowerment of such leaders, especially the freelancers like Bin Laden.

piscivorous
03-24-2008, 11:48 PM
Pinker makes some interesting points, but the trends towards diminishing levels of violence in democracies and modern civilization in general are offset, IMHO, by 1) the civilization-ending potentialities of WMD, and 2) the likelihood of planetary ecological disaster and/or non-state terror reversing both democratization and prosperity.

Also, I think Pinker's idea about a general heightening of moral sensibilities is questionable. Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Hitler and Bush/Cheney had ample access to human rights education. Pol Pot, for example, studied in France for four years, and both Hitler and Bush/Cheney won elections in democratic societies.

All these murderous sociopaths are atavistic, and there is little reason to assume we've learned much about preventing the future empowerment of such leaders, especially the freelancers like Bin Laden.

Mopst of the following come from Source List and Detailed Death Tolls for the Twentieth Century (http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat1.htm)
Pol Pot 2,000,000 (est), Mao 40,000,000 , Stalin 20,000,000, Hitler's murders: 17,000,00 on top of War-related Democides 20,946,000. To equate Bush/Cheney with the list you supplied is a little beyond the pale and far from supporting you argument shows is shallowness and will instead of getting people, with a modicum of understand the historical nature of the individuals named and the nature of their rule, to consider your arguments seriously less likely not more.

If I could get you to peruse one piece it would be this one The Liberation of Karmah, Part I (http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2008/03/the-liberation.php). When you see the faces of the children and their interactions with the Marines perhaps you will begin to understand that there is more to Iraq than just the inevitable carnage of war. Yes it is by an author that supports our efforts over there but this is a guy that spends a lot of time throughout the Middle East and may just have something to say worth listening to.

bjkeefe
03-25-2008, 03:58 AM
pisc:

To equate Bush/Cheney with the list you supplied is a little beyond the pale ...

Another way to look at it is to say that the feelings about Bush/Cheney strengthen Pinker's argument. Ditto the reaction to 9/11. That is, the killing of ~3000 Americans on one day by terrorists, and the loss of 4000 US troops and however many Iraqis over five years, are all seen as horrific according to modern sensibilities.

bjkeefe
03-29-2008, 02:07 PM
Coming across this (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/29/science/29collider.html) reminded me of Frederick Pohl, which naturally reminded me of another character from sci-fi who qualifies as vivid. Hard to say why I forgot about him when I started the list; coulda just been a McCain moment.

Anyway: Robinette Broadhead, from Pohl's Heechee books.

AemJeff
03-29-2008, 03:19 PM
I meant to compile a complementary list a week ago. These are strictly from novels and series, and I take note as I post this that none (except Fleet Of Worlds, which is a late prequel to the Ringworld series) are from much less than tweny-five years ago. I think that says more about me than the literature.

Nessus from Ringworld and Fleet of Worlds by Larry Niven
Horace Bury from Niven and Pournelle's Moties series
Molly from Neuromancer by William Gibson
The Finn from Neuromancer by William Gibson
Lord Jagged from The Dancers at the End of Time series by Michael Moorcock
The Iron Orchid from The Dancers at the End of Time series by Michael Moorcock
Elric from Michael Moorcock's eponymous series (though I guess that really counts as fantasy)
Sam/Sidhartha from Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
Cat from Eye of Cat by Roger Zelazny
Vaughn from Crash by J. G. Ballard (Maybe calling this one science fiction is stretching the definition. I tend to think of Ballard's output in those terms, however.)

bjkeefe
03-29-2008, 03:36 PM
AemJeff:

Thanks for jumping in. We share a preference for scifi from days of yore, it appears, but I'm interested to see how few from your list I've read. I don't know why I never got into the Ringworld series -- I like a lot of other Niven and Pournelle stuff. Some of the stuff that you say borders on fantasy will likely remain on my must-not-read list. I only like "hard" sf.

I'd say the Moties themselves are pretty vivid, although a species is not really a character, according to the challenge. Ditto the elephant-like invaders in Footfall.

AemJeff
03-29-2008, 07:21 PM
AemJeff:

Thanks for jumping in. We share a preference for scifi from days of yore, it appears, but I'm interested to see how few from your list I've read. I don't know why I never got into the Ringworld series -- I like a lot of other Niven and Pournelle stuff. Some of the stuff that you say borders on fantasy will likely remain on my must-not-read list. I only like "hard" sf.

I'd say the Moties themselves are pretty vivid, although a species is not really a character, according to the challenge. Ditto the elephant-like invaders in Footfall.

I strongly suggest reading Ringworld. IMHO it merits every bit of hype that's been lavished on it through the years. It's Niven's best solo novel. (Outclassing its sequels by a long margin, particularly the latter two.) Moorcock's Dancers is probably doesn't qualify as hard sci-fi, but it lives in the same neighborhood - The Elric books are definitely straight fantasy. Crash is about as far from "fantasy" in the sense we're using it here as it's possible to get. It's a favorite of mine but can only be recommended with strong caveats.

I can't resist adding one more character to my original list (I could have gone on for pages, I'm struggling mightily to restrain myself.)

The Kidd from Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney

OK, I'm done now.

bjkeefe
03-29-2008, 07:28 PM
AemJeff:

Crash is about as far from "fantasy" in the sense we're using it here as it's possible to get. It's a favorite of mine but can only be recommended with strong caveats.

Well ...? We're waiting ...

What are the caveats?

I can't resist adding one more character to my original list (I could have gone on for pages, I'm struggling mightily to restrain myself.)

Oh, go on. I'd like to hear some more.

The Kidd from Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney

I am almost sure I read that one, but nothing specific about it comes to mind. (I might have been flashy-thinged at some point in the past.)

AemJeff
03-29-2008, 09:38 PM
Caveats for Crash? It's a book whose themes are deeply intertwined with the objectification and graphic depiction of sex, as well as account of obsession from various points of view. It's literary rather than pornographic, but it's strong stuff.

Oh, go on. I'd like to hear some more.

Ok, here's another thirty:

Sandor Courane from The Wolves of Memory by George Alec Effinger
Reid Malenfant from Stephen Baxter's Manifold series
Horselover Fat from Valis by Philip K. Dick
Frank Frink from The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Jason Taverner from Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
Bob Arctor/Agent Fred from A SCanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
Hoppy Harrington from Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick
Stuart McConchie from Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick
Sangamon Taylor from Zodiac by Neal Stephenson
Hiro Protagonist from SnowCrash by Neal Stephenson
Cirocco Jones from John Varley's Gaea trilogy
Pham Nuwen from Vernor Vinge's "Deepness" novels
Phaethon from John C. Wright's The Golden Age and its sequels
Manfred Macx from Accelerando by Charles Stross
Aineko from Accelerando by Charles Stross
Robin/Reeve from Glass House by Charles Stross
Alex from A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Lorq von Ray from Nova by Samuel R. Delany
Ted from Harlan Ellison's "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"
"Richard Burton" Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series
"Samuel Clemens" Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series
Valentine Michael Smith from Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
Paul Atreides from Frank Herbert's Dune Series
Baron Harkonnen from Frank Herbert's Dune Series
Long John Tony Tyrone from Annals of Klepsis by R. A. Lafferty
Genly Ai from The Left Hand of Darkness bu Ursula K. Le Guin
Moussa from Child of Fortune by Norman Spinrad
Brother Francis Gerard from A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Fred Cassidy from Doorways in the Sand by Roger Zelazny
Priscilla Hutchins from The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt

bjkeefe
03-30-2008, 04:47 AM
AemJeff:

Thanks for the caveats. Thanks also for the list. I haven't read most of them, but now I know where to look the next time I'm in the mood for some SF.

A Canticle for Leibowitz is one of my favorite sf books of all time. I guess I disagree a little bit about the vividness of the character of Br. Francis. If someone asked me about that book, the first character that pops to mind is the Isaac Newton figure, and the second is the Wandering Jew. I think of Br. Francis as a role player in getting the story started, and the story itself is what is the most vivid -- in agreement with John's (George's?) hypothesis.

AemJeff
03-30-2008, 09:09 AM
You're probably right about my choice from Canticle. It had been longest since I'd read it, 30+ years, I'm guessing; yet I knew that I wanted that novel on my list - its too good to miss, and along with Dune and one or two others seems like it demands inclusion. Brother Francis was the first character I remeber meeting in detail while reading it, and the tone and the milieu of the story, even for a post-acpocalypto is deeply strange. I remember him as my guide through that world in the beginning portion of the book better, I think than I remember the rest of the book. Which, for me, is a happy sign that it's time to re-read Canticle.

bjkeefe
03-30-2008, 09:20 AM
AemJeff:

Speaking of post-apocalypse settings -- one of my favorite subgenres, btw -- I'd say that several of the characters from The Stand by Stephen King are quite vivid: Tom, Nick, Larry, Mother Abigail, Stu, Harold, Nadine, Trashcan Man, Flagg, etc. It's arguable whether this is sf, but I'd say it's at least close to being in the genre, especially if one's definition of sf allows fantasy.

Long time since the Canticle, eh? I bet you'll love it just as much upon rereading. I know I did -- I think I let a decade go by between readings once, and I thought it hadn't lost anything. I've probably reread it ten or fifteen times since -- it's acquired the status of comfort food for me.