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David Brin
Futurist, Science Fiction Author, Scientist. Advocate for a Transparent Society.
Futurist, Science Fiction Author, Scientist. Advocate for a Transparent Society.

David's posts

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Following an amazing 30-fold increase in PV sales over the past nine years, the solar industry in the U.S. now employs more than 260,000 workers nationwide. That’s more workers than Apple, Facebook, and Google combined. This spectacular rise -- declared impossible under the bushites -- was unleashed by the democrats' brief, manic time in power -- 2009-2010 -- and protected under Obama.

And now it is too late for the oil sheiks and coal barons and their paid (Fox) shills to stop it. Because Adam Smith is now aboard. There is vastly more money to be made in renewables than in fossil fuel development. Sorry dinosaurs. Sorry fossils.

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And you didn’t expect this? As if I haven’t warned you for night on 30 years?
A hidden spy camera in an innocuous looking AC to USB wall charger plug.

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All right, tell me the "alien cylinder" raved about on Fox doesn't remind you of something...

... that an astronaut lassos in the first scene of EXISTENCE? Have a look at the amazing video preview-trailer for Existence, with incredible art by Patrick Farley!

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In the run-up to Saturday's March for Science, I've posted a missive that starts with more about the vacant position of White House Science Adviser, then riff into the Singularity! (And my article about it, at Ray Kurzweil's site.) Plus some amazing sci-news, demonstrating that we're still an amazing (the MOST amazing) human civilization!

Oh, if there's not a Science March near you? Consider standing on a streetcorner with a sign saying SUPPORT A SCIENTIFIC CIVILIZATION. You'll get some honks!

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Girding yourself for Saturday's science march? This article will steam you, offering much more detail on the White House Science Adviser office, first officially established by President Eisenhower, offering a partial list of responsibilities.
"Manage NASA strategy and budget. Work with the Office of Management and Budget on federal research and development investments. Deal with climate change, both in terms of mitigating it and diffusing the controversy. Testify before Congress. Oversee the National Science Foundation. Execute whatever the classified work on national security and homeland security might be. Forge science and technology cooperation agreements with nations like Brazil, China, India, Russia, and Korea. Support the State Department on other science-related initiatives. Put the president in contact with top outside experts when necessary. All in all, (Obama Science Adviser John) Holdren worked in approximately 70 different science fields at any given time."

Even when the office was demoted, under George W. Bush, the WHSA - Jack Marburger - was a prestigious scientist who remained in a science-unfriendly administration because of crucial roles in the National Security Council -- roles that are now, under science-hating Donald Trump, deliberately left unfilled.)

Now look again at my recent posting about the fellow who was DT's top candidate for the Science Adviser role - David Gelernter - and see how this whole thing just gets weirder and weirder.

March on Saturday. 

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A hilarious and yet insightful riff on how one can use the placebo effect – even knowing the “medicine” is fake – to achieve positive-desired outcomes.

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As NASA’s Cassini spacecraft moves toward its Grand Finale, it will conduct its final and closest flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan on April 22, 2017, passing over Titan’s surface at just 608 miles (979 kilometers), where instruments will conduct closeup observations of the hydrocarbon lakes near the moon’s north pole and use radar to look through its atmospheric haze and image surface detail. One of the most amazing sites in the Solar System.

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"2,250 square miles of coastal Louisiana is expected to be lost" in the next 50 years. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency over the state's rapidly eroding coastline. Oh, and the US Navy is desperately worried about 12 new Russian bases on the nearly ice-free Arctic.

There's your "politically correct science." Morons.

Everybody march on Saturday.

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Looking back toward its origin... This glorious image from the Cassini spacecraft shows Earth (and our moon) viewed between the icy rings of Saturn!

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This essay attempts to show (days before the big science march) that scientists need better tactics in explaining matters like climate change to the public. And yet, I find the writer’s proposed methods to be little improvement:

“Research also shows that science communicators can be more effective after they’ve gained the audience’s trust. With that in mind, it may be more worthwhile to figure out how to talk about science with people they already know, through, say, local and community interactions, than it is to try to publish explainers on national news sites.”

Sure, but the suggested methods are way to wimpy for this stage of a civil war, in which every fact-centered profession is under fire. As the author himself shows:

“At a Heartland Institute conference last month, Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House science committee, told attendees he would now refer to “climate science” as “politically correct science,” to loud cheers. This lumps scientists in with the nebulous “left” and, as Daniel Engber pointed out here in Slate about the upcoming March for Science, rebrands scientific authority as just another form of elitism.”

This kind of tactic needs ferocious, not tepid response. I find it effective to point out that half of the modern economy is built on scientific discoveries of this and earlier generations. And that Soviet tanks would have rolled across western Europe without our advantages provided by science.

I ask whether expert opinion should at least inform public policy, even if experts prove to be wrong, maybe 5% of the time. I ask them if we should listen to the US Navy, which totally believes in climate change, given that the Russians are building twelve new bases lining the now melting Arctic Sea.

I ask why, if they demand more proof of climate change, their leaders so desperately quash the satellites and cancel the instruments and ban the studies that could nail it down.

Sure, it pleases vanity to envision that scientists - in fact the most-competitive of humans - are sniveling “grant huggers.” But if that’s so, then:

1- where is a listing of these so-called “grants”? After 20 years, no one has tabulated a list to show that every scientist believing in climate change has a climate grant?

2- what about meteorologists? They are rich, powerful, with no need of measly “climate grants.” Their vast, sophisticated, world-spanning weather models rake in billions from not just governments but insurance companies, media and industry, who rely on the miracle TEN DAY forecasts that have replaced the old, ridiculous four-hour “weather reports” of our youth. These are among the greatest geniuses on the planet… and every single one of them is deeply worried about climate change.

3- Funny thing. The Koch brothers and other coal barons and oil sheiks have offered much larger grants” to any prestigious or widely respected scientists who will join the denialist cult… I mean camp. None has accepted. So much for the “motivated by grants” theory.

No, I’ve weighed in elsewhere about how to deal with this cult. And it does not pay to be gentle.
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