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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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Speaking of weaponized info: Now it's hypocricy. You-know-who beat up on Hillary about how incredibly irresponsible she was by allowing her email, and classified documents, to be exposed to hackers. Now a congressman calls for House investigation of Donald Trump's terrible Android phone In the month since he took office, Donald Trump has refused to drop his Samsung S3 in favor of the standard secured phone. That's a huge security problem, since conventional phones are vulnerable...

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In a new study, scientists say they have found evidence along the New Jersey coast that an extraterrestrial object hit the earth at the same time a mysterious release of carbon dioxide suddenly warmed the planet, some 55.6 million years ago. The warm period, known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), is often cited as the closest analog to today's rapid human-induced climate change. The study does not explicitly say that an impact triggered the PETM, but the implication is consistent with the authors' previous work suggesting such an abrupt trigger. By contrast, mainstream theory says that the carbon came from volcanism or some other earthly cause, over thousands of years.

Most scientists say that the carbon release at the start of the PETM took anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 years. Many suspect it came from a surge of massive volcanism. The resultant warming may have been abetted by a sudden release of frozen methane from the seafloor, due to warming from the carbon, changes in the earth's orbit or shifts in ocean circulation. Temperatures ascended 5 to 9 degrees Centigrade (about 9 to 16 Fahrenheit), during a nearly simultaneous warm period that lasted some 200,000 years. The planet was essentially ice free, and sea levels drastically higher than now. Many small, single-celled ocean-bottom creatures went extinct.

In 2013 Schaller and James Wright of Rutgers University (also a coauthor of the new paper) published a study asserting that the PETM carbon release was virtually instantaneous. Their evidence: extremely high levels of carbon isotopes that appear in a narrow band of the Marlboro clay representing just about a dozen years. This band, it turns out, is near the newly found impact ejecta layer.

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Here’s an interview with someone hated by both parts of the far-left and the entire right, Professor Stephen Pinker, who, along with Peter Diamandis (“Abundance”) has used facts to shatter the delusion that everything is spiraling into hell. That mythology doesn’t help inspire us to save the world, but rather spreads nihilism and cynicism. In fact, statistically, there are dozens of reasons for (guarded) optimism! Which, in turn, ought to inspire a can-do spirit and belief that we can act vigorously, to solve problems. Pinker is interviewed by Phil Torres. One special insight: When people believe that the world is heading off a cliff, they are receptive to the perennial appeal of demagogues: "What do you have to lose?" Sound familiar?

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This weekend I post about the "Deep State" - a buzz term suddenly revived and hurled in unison by rightist media. It stands for all of the knowledge professions, supposedly united in conspiracy against Real Americans. Only now this includes - especially - the US Military and Intelligence Officer Corps. The irony - that alt-right media fire this precisely-times salvo, all in parallel, while crying "conspiracy!" - is rich. But you need to come by: I'll help you track this meme. You should grasp its cleverness... and long-term foolishness.

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Libertarians. You're kidding, right? Your movement has been taken over by Cato shills, Steve Forbes, the Kochs, and to what end? They know you hate the Republicans. But all they have to do is get you to shake your head and ditto chant their mantra: "Yes, but of course statist Democrats are worse!" ... Idiots.

Name an issue! Market enterprise, entrepreneurship, competition and all market metrics do better under dems. Always and in all ways. Is it red states legalizing pot? Democrats deregulated the ICC, CAB, ATT, GPS and the internet. Show me ONCE when goppers did any deregulation that did not benefit oligarchs, the enemy of enterprise denounced by Adam Smith.

Trump has filled his cabinet with Goldman-Sachs billionaires and resource extraction subsidy parasites, but YOU only wince, instead of recognizing the march of feudalism.

Now Net neutrality and privacy. You... are... morons. Seriously, I say it with love. I speak at libertarian events and want to see us evolve into freedom. I wrote The Transparent Society. And it is in love and camaraderie, libertarians, that I call you fools and puppets who have betrayed everything Adam Smith stood for, and the Founders.

The Stooges had more brains.

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Okay so this happens when you pound on all the smart people. Slowly, but with rising momentum, they learn to fight back.
So, literally a false flag operation.

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Trump’s divided America… my latest political posting looks at the issues that divide us, from ideology and economics to climate change

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The NASA announcement of seven earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby red star, five of them within that star's Continuously Habitable Zone (CHZ) or Goldilocks (just right) zone is wondrously thought provoking in several ways:

1) Just the awe and wonder of it. And how amazing it is that the transit method has found so many systems, when it can only catch 5% of what's out there.

2) Note the scale of this system. The star puts out 0.05% as much light and heat as our sun. All of the planets orbit within the same distance range as Jupiter's outer moons.

3) Ponder what science fiction foretold. This is essentially the mini solar system that Arthur C. Clarke envisioned surrounding an ignited Jupiter, in his novel 2010. (This is Arthur's Centennial year.)

4) With that in mind, ponder Goldfinger's Rule. One planet in a Goldilocks Zone is happenstance. Two might be coincidence. Three....? Five...? I'm not "sayin'"... just hinting.

5) Before you get excited, remember these planets are likely to be tidal locked, with one face permanently starward. And tiny red stars tend to be Flare Stars, intermittently burping radiation. So any life would face challenges.

6) This system would seem an excellent target for some kinds of exoplanet direct viewing missions. Advantages: Well-understood orbits and a very dim star, allowing better contrast. Disadvantages: planets are very close to their star and hard to separate... only the system is close to us, so that's partly offset.

7) Should we aim SETI scopes in that direction? Yep! Should we send "messages" before thoroughly talking it over? Nope. A sure sign of immaturity and unscientific cultism.

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Will the coming scientists’ march be effective or counterproductive? This author on Slate asserts that Culture War is so locked in that the marchers will only be preaching to the democratic base. That the GOP is already so hostile to science that the marchers will only nail in place Red America’s suspicion that all scientists are partisan lefties. “In a post-election analysis at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver found that Trump held a 31-point advantage in the nation’s least-educated counties, while Clinton held a 26-point advantage in the best-educated ones—and concluded that income explained only part of this effect.”

Daniel Engber further asserts: “In the same way that fighting the War on Journalism delegitimizes the press by making it seem partisan and petty, so might the present fight against the War on Science sap scientific credibility. By confronting it directly, science activists may end up helping to consolidate Trump’s support among his most ardent, science-skeptical constituency. If they’re not careful where and how they step, the science march could turn into an ambush.”

But Mr. Engber misses the point. Science and journalism are not isolated cases. Indeed, an you name for me one fact-using profession of knowledge and skill that’s not under attack by Fox & its cohorts? Teachers, medical doctors, journalists, civil servants, law professionals, economists, skilled labor, professors….

In fact there are three educated clades not under open attack by the Murdochian-Confederate cult. Can you name them?

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Sci fi offers a simple explanation. He is an attention vampire. However many hate him... however little he actually accomplishes... an attention vampire will flourish as ever-more humans look at him, feel emotions about him, say his name.

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