Saturday, September 09, 2017

Resilience Technology Part II: Simple measures to thwart possible collapse

Soon I will post about the passing of my colleague, science fiction author and unique American Jerry Pournelle. And of course much of what I post about today will be altered after we see what is wrought by Hurricanes Irma, José and Katia.  But this series conclusion is already prepared.

And it is about preparedness.

== What holds us back ==

There have been nasty pundits contrasting Houston’s recent experience with that of New Orleans during Katrina, snidely implying that some difference in civic character was responsible -- with possible racist implications. These nasty ingrates, of course, are ignoring the fact that a goodly part of the Cajun Navy – heroically swooping in to rescue Houstonians -- came from NOLA and surroundings, in all races and colors. 

Was the difference one of better preparation? For all their mighty virtues, Texans blatantly do not elect politicians who believe in foresight, preparation, planning, or even sapience. Houston's famous hatred of zoning and building codes blatantly contributed to tens of billions in damage that we'll all be paying for.

But in fact, we now know what may have made the biggest difference between Katrina and Harvey.

It seems that breakdown of the cell phone system was a chief factor that exacerbated every problem during the Katrina Crisis, crippling citizens of New Orleans from organizing themselves or collaborating with first responders. In contrast, partly due to post Katrina efforts by Verizon, AT&T and the others, cell systems in Houston proved more robust, serving people in many districts when they needed it most. And yes, this was also a matter of pure luck. 

Which brings up a pet peeve. For this entire century (so far) – and then some – I’ve said we could double North America’s resilience with one, simple reform…  demanding that phone-makers and cell providers give every unit the capability to pass along text messages peer-to-peer.

One anecdote from the Fukushima Disaster tells of a woman who was trapped and later found dead of dehydration in a basement. On her phone were dozens of outgoing texts. People had been walking and driving by for days, but the cell towers were down. If their phones all had a backup peer-to-peer texting capability, those messages would packet-hop until they reached a cell tower; then they go out to the world.

== Peer-to-peer text-passing. Small step; huge implications ==

The capability is inherent to “packet switching,” the underlying tech of the Internet, and hence we have known how to do this for 50 years. In fact, those clever tech innovators at Qualcomm have already incorporated this basic capability into their chips!  Qualcomm’s Matt Grob told me that P2P modes:

1.) Are now standardized (published in the 3gpp cellular standards.)

2.) They have done extensive tests/trials with partners – “it works great!”

3.) P2P capability has been developed to commercial trial grade.

Matt avows that much further work would be needed for AT&T phones to share texts with Verizon phones. But even if you were limited to one company, this could be a life-saver. Suppose you were a Verizon subscriber in an afflicted area, your send help texts could hop from one Verizon phone to the next until someone reached a working cell tower, at which point all the texts stored on her phone would leap forth across the planet.

Two important considerations:

FIRST - If we were to do this, we would gain unbelievable robustness. Take an extreme case: a hypothetical disaster that took down nearly all cell towers across the continent. Set up a few repeaters across the Great Plains and the Rockies, and Peer-to-Peer text passing (P2PTP) could give us a crude telegraphy system – just via texts hopping from phone to phone all the way from Atlantic to Pacific, uniting the country during any level of emergency. P2P telegrams. The Greatest Generation did pretty well with less.

== Well then, why the heck not? ==

It sounds blatantly simple even obvious. And yet, all calls for implementation of this emergency utility have been met with skepticism or opposition from the likes of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and even some device makers. All know what Qualcomm’s chips are capable of. And not one of them will turn the service on – not for the profit-potential or for the common good.

This article talks about their myopic obstinacy… and hopes that Hurricane Harvey might budge such unimaginative and unpatriotic fools. Though in fact, the report is about a much more timid thing that response agencies have asked for -- simple enhancement of the one-way alert system. We shouldn’t be satisfied with such measly steps; that is nowhere near enough.

In truth, there is no good reason for cell-co executives to fight against backup P2P texting! They could program their phones no to do this, if they detect a cell tower! Moreover, each AT&T and Verizon phone could be programmed to report such text-passings and bill the sender a small surcharge! (Giving small rewards to those who pass messages along.) The only net effect would be to gain a small revenue stream from dark zones that their current towers do not reach!

And yes, before many of you chime in, there are attempts to set up grid or mesh networks using Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth or other ways to get around the problem.  Here’s a walkie talkie app.  

Then there’s the Serval Network

… and Fire Chat. 

Jott’s AirChat feature allows users to send data and texts without a connection to the Internet, using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios within 100-feet of each other. 

More recent: with the arrival of Hurricane Harvey, a free app called Zello WalkieTalkie that lets your phone communicate as a two-way radio so long as you have a network or Wi-Fi connection, has shot to the top of Apple’s App Store, making it the go-to service for rescue workers in the Houston area, seeing as many as 7,000 new registrations per minute.

And people have written in to me with many others. (Feel free to offer more, below. under comments.) So sure, the super-skilled and savvy can already go P2P… and that barely begins to enhance our overall robustness. Not when they are limited to one user in ten thousand, and to places with easy-access WiFi.

No, Hurricane Harvey has made it clear. We need to start putting the screws on your favorite people, the cell phone providers. They could turn on this capability tomorrow! (Well, in maybe 6 months.) And they would gain business, not lose it!  That is, if they have technical brains higher than a cryptobiotic tardigrade.

And if the next disaster brings major losses of life and property -- losses that might have been avoided with a simple, robust comm system? Then it is time to bring out the lawyers. I mean it. Some law firm should start preparing this case, in advance, that a life-saving backup service was available the whole time, and that refusal to turn it on was tantamount to negligent manslaughter. They can pounce and then get 40% of billions.

== Coda ==

It looked like sci fi when a Hollywood film portrayed three hurricanes at a time in the Caribbean area.  Now see a picture of reality

All across Red America, folks tune into the Weather Channel. They make plans based on advanced satellites and storm models, peering days ahead with breathtaking accuracy.  The meteorologists who do this - having transformed the old, pathetic 4-hour "weather report" of my youth into forecasts that are now useful up to TEN days...  these geniuses are very well paid by a wide variety of eager customers from governments to insurance companies to shippers, agriculture, industry... and they have no need for piddling "climate grants."

And yet, lo and behold, all of them - every last one of them - will tell you human generated climate change is real and a danger to your children. The same gas-dynamics modeling equations that they use to track hurricane paths also feed into longer term models that fit global warming exactly. The same equations. They understand and use them. Fox News screeching shills do not. So, where do you get your science?

Dear Texans and Floridians, you have our prayers and comradeship. The nation stands with you.  You show fantastic resilience and courage. But you elect the worst politicians on the planet. Lying, thieving scoundrels who have betrayed you and our country, and your children in every conceivable way. As the media that you watch and listen to has betrayed you, by urging you to hate every fact-using profession. Their incantations are lies and the shiny "squirrel!" distractions they wave in front of you are beneath contempt.

The Republican party has sabotaged and slashed many of the satellites and instruments we need, in order to understand these things. They forbid state officials from looking at changes or preparing for them. They forbid NASA and other experts from even looking downward at the Earth! They scream slogans to over-rule evidence. They lie : "There's been no warming!" and lie and lie and outright pants-on-fire lie to you... and then they get YOU to repeat such outright, insane, dumbass lies.

Please, when the mud is cleared away and the tax dollars that we send to you are spent and when you get some breathing room, consider taking a community college class in some of this stuff? An online course? (See "Hurricanes: a Science Primer.") Visit the nearest university and wander the halls asking people who actually know something about what's actually going on? Ask your smartass niece or nephew. You'll find that fact-people aren't demons or commies! 

 And if you refuse to do any of these things, can we ask at least that you stop pretending you know stuff, just because Hannity croons it at you? American conservatism use to have intellects like Goldwater and Buckley and 40% of U.S. scientists.  (It's now 3% and plummeting.) 

American conservatism does NOT have to be lobotomized and self-destructively stupid. Your movement has been hijacked by monsters - you've been talked into electing them in great, howling packs. 

We're not asking you to become lefty flakes! Or even moderate liberals. We're asking you to take your movement back from lying shills and then bring a rational, science-friendly American conservatism to the bargaining table. 


We'll negotiate, I promise.

141 comments:

Annabelle said...

Can you do a single google search before you assert something? Literally the top result says that no climate scientists are not meteorologists and no meteorologists in general don't agree with climate scientists any more than the general public.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2016/04/meteorologists_and_regular_people_still_aren_t_sure_humans_cause_climate.html

Paul451 said...

David,
Did you mean the font size to drop so far in the Coda?

--

From the last thread:

Me: "Uhhh... sorry, EMPs mimic flares, but flares don't mimic EMPs."
Zepp: "Two words: Carrington Event."

Read my explanation again. Nuclear EMPs contain three components. One of the components mimics the geomagnetic storm from a massive solar flare or CME. That's the one that induces current in long antennas, such as powerlines. It has no effect on small electronics. It would not effect implanted electronics unless you were plugged into the wall.

One of the other components of an EMP is the one that induces high voltage in small electronics. That effect is not present in Carrington-like events. It's produced by gamma rays released by the bomb ionising atoms in the atmosphere. The released electrons travel to the ground at relativistic speeds, inducing overvoltage in electronics. It effects small circuits more because this pulse is of such short duration, charge doesn't have time to accumulate in longer antennas; but it probably punches through a normal Faraday cage since it's particle radiation not EM fields.

(The intermediate component is apparently similar to the electro-magnetic effects of lightning.)

So a nuclear EMP contains a burst of relativistic beta radiation, a lightning strike and a solar-flare/CME. (Plus the whole nuclear explosion thing.)

Paul451 said...

Jesus, Annabelle, did you even bother to read the article you linked to?

"Another reason for the low acceptance rates may have to do with who AMS members actually are. One thing they're not is all formally educated meteorologists [...] Just 32 percent of respondents held a bachelor's degree or greater in meteorology, and only 37 percent considered themselves experts in climate science. [...]
"Add to that the fact that television meteorologists—which are just around one-fifth of overall AMS membership—have a vested interest in not alienating the politically conservative portion of their viewership."


The article is talking about a group that includes TV weather presenters, while actual meteorological researchers make up a small percentage. David's talking about the actual researchers, not idiot fucking TV presenters.

[And even then, looking at the actual figures, 81% of AMS members agreed that human cased climate change is a thing.]

Annabelle said...

David was talking about the TV weather forecasters.

And what page of the report(https://gmuchss.az1.qualtrics.com/CP/File.php?F=F_cRR9lW0HjZaiVV3) is your 81% figure on?

TheMadLibrarian said...

Our cell phones (before smartphones) used to have a walkie talkie function that let you transmit locally (within about a half mile radius) without needing a cell phone network. The batteries also used to run for up to a week; my new cell runs dry in a couple of days because it needs to run cruft in the background all the time. I miss our old Pipers!

Paul451 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul451 said...

Try again. (Larry you were right. Half tags eat text.)

Me: "It would not effect "

Effect/affect. Always hated that one.

brian t said...

I was wondering - do you have any thoughts about Jerry Pournelle, who died on Friday? You have a nice blurb from him on your site, I see. I'm still waiting for the movie adaptation of "The Mote In God's Eye" ...

David Brin said...

"Annabelle" said...
David was talking about the TV weather forecasters.

No I was not. In no way. And your desperation to make excuses for your cult's raving insanity is, in itself, a symptom of insanity.

"Annabelle."

Jumper said...

The Buckley Challenge is to present a quote from William F. Buckley,Jr. that shows greater than average intelligence.

Paul451 said...

Annabelle,
David was talking about the TV weather forecasters"

Forecasters, not presenters. The AMS survey includes presenters, high-school teachers, etc. David said: "They make plans based on advanced satellites and storm models, peering days ahead with breathtaking accuracy. The meteorologists who do this - having transformed the old, pathetic 4-hour "weather report" of my youth into forecasts that are now useful up to TEN days... these geniuses are very well paid by a wide variety of eager customers from governments to insurance companies to shippers, agriculture, industry..."

TV weather presenters do not do this. They do not run satellites, they do not analyse data, they do not create and run atmospheric models, they don't make forecasts. They read out the things prepared by the actual meteorologists, via services which their stations subscribe to.

"And what page of the report is your 81% figure on?"

The article you linked to. 29+38+14=81. 13% disagreed with the idea of human induced climate change. 6% don't know.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Paul451, You got nuclear EMP mostly right. The secondary beta radiation (relativistic electrons) from a high altitude nuclear explosion never makes it to the ground, though.

The relativistic electrons spiral around the Earth's magnetic field lines until they collide with air molecules in the mid-stratosphere. This means that about 10^25 helical antennas are radiating a single large EM pulse coherently in the stratosphere. It is like a giant phased-array antenna generating a single immense radio-frequency pulse before it goes out of existence.

The initial collisions with air molecules knock out more electrons, and those spiral downward at a lower energy. By the time they get out of the stratosphere, the electrons have lost most of their energy. On the ground, we only have to deal with a huge burst of electromagnetic radiation generated in the stratosphere directly above our heads. The relativistic electrons never reach the ground.

The initial EM pulse can induce large voltages in long lines as well as short ones. (The Carrington-like effects begin a few seconds later.)

In a near-the-surface nuclear explosion, the relativistic electrons (mostly generated by the initial gamma radiation) are mostly within the initial fireball. Any wires that the fireball hits, however, will have a huge current pulse induced in the wires. The relativistic electrons near the ground are stopped fairly quickly by the dense air. If you are in a building at the other end of a wire that is near the nuclear fireball, the current surge can literally be enough to cause all of the connected incandescent light bulbs to explode. (I've seen ordinary light bulbs completely shatter in nuclear EMP simulators.)

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

TV weather presenters do not do this. They do not run satellites, they do not analyse data, they do not create and run atmospheric models, they don't make forecasts.


One does. Tom Skilling in Chicago is old-school and might even be famous for it wherever you live. But yeah, that's the exception that proves the rule.

locumranch said...


"Jott’s AirChat feature allows users to send data and texts without a connection to the Internet, using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios within 100-feet of each other. (and) Zello WalkieTalkie that lets your phone communicate as a two-way radio so long as you have a network or Wi-Fi connection [DB]".

David proposes these Pay-to-Play commercial cellphone features (unless he's proposing free cellphone service for everyone) as a RESILIENT disaster-proof communication system, but I can do him one better following any disaster by simply talking to those people who are within '100-feet of each other' (and I might be able to extend that distance up to 200-feet by stretching some twine between 2 paper cups).

"Hey you", I would say, "Need some help?" using just the unamplified human voice to communicate at a distance of 100-feet, even though 9 out of 10 times my rural neighbours & I would refuse proffered help because we're prepared to care for ourselves for weeks at a time.

Likewise, those who can define the term 'resilience' know enough not to contact 911 emergency services with non-emergent calls, unlike the increasingly stupid majority given 24/7 MSM news coverage anytime flood waters ruin their carpet or interfere with their prime-time television viewing habits.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26040857/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/systems-choking-non-emergency-calls/#.WbSPbNOGMnM

As of 2013, about 71% of US Emergency Room visits were for non-emergencies and, from personal experience, I can tell you that things have only gotten much worse in this regard since then because literally every adverse event has been redefined as a progressive 'emergency'. So, please explain (in great detail) how more resilient cellphone service is going to fix widespread bipartisan solipsistic STUPIDITY.

http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/patient-flow/study-71-of-ed-visits-unnecessary-avoidable.html

Interesting 'Coda', btw, in which David appears to argue that isolated storms, hurricanes & temperature records are now seen as confirmation of catastrophic climate change. Does this view represent the new 'scientific consensus' on climate change, most specifically, that beneficial weather events prove nothing of consequence but adverse events provide definite proof of monstrous climate change? Really? Stupidity must be contagious assuming that this new view represents 'consensus'.

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/165048861836/are-the-hurricanes-and-temperature-records


Best
___
That poor Japanese women who died in her basement (though sad) is statistically irrelevant, insomuch as we could prevent more deaths by banning Japanese bathtubs then we could by investing in P2P text passing.

https://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2016/01/22/deaths-from-drowning-in-bathtubs-up-70-in-10-years-report/

Plus, "Hello 911? A disaster (bathtub; flood; tornado; hurricane; nuclear reactor meltdown) is threatening my locality. Could you come arrest it for me AND bring me a pizza as I'm feeling a bit peckish? No pineapple please. Chop-chop".

David Brin said...

It’s shooting fish in a barrel. Here’s what locum’s harmless plantation lords are doing. Using their wealth to turn Zurich airport into a non-national zone where they can store vast wealth, like 100,000 art works, without ever having to show any of the items or account for the trades even to Swiss authorities. Not. even. to. SWISS. authorities.

https://aeon.co/videos/the-swiss-warehouse-where-the-rich-hide-assets-and-wealth-leaves-no-trace

“but I can do him one better following any disaster by simply talking to those people who are within '100-feet of each other’”

Loon. Doesn’t even remember how I’ve publicized CERT and served as my neighborhood civil defense captain in several emergencies like the 2007 fires. I’ve done more for local and national resilience in any month than he will, across a dozen lifetimes. And I have no doubt at all I am a far better shot.

The rest is just moronic.

Greg Byshenk said...

David, is anyone dealing with the problems of scaling up local mesh networks?

I note that even the Serval site notes:

Mesh communications is an appropriate technology for complementing cellular networks. Think of it like two-way radio or CB radio that has been propelled into the 21st century. For long-range communications you will still need to make use of cellular or fixed telephone networks
or the internet.


One of the problems I see with the mesh network idea is that, on anything other than a very small scale, the routing issues become extremely difficult to solve.

Things are relatively easy if you have a small number of devices all talking directly to each other. But as soon as you reach a state where a device has a message for some device that it isn't connected to directly, it has to have routing; that is, it has to know where to send it so that it will eventually get to its destination. (Just sending it to 'everyone' tends to fail pretty quickly, as this can overwhelm the local network - as those who remember old-fashioned network 'hubs' may be aware.)

Internet (and mobile phone) routing is simple, because (at least at the level of individual user devices) it is usually strictly hierarchical: everything that I can't talk to directly is sent to a router -- and probably the same is true for that router, and the router that it talks to. Until one reaches the higher levels, where there are large, complex, dedicated machines that are able to track complex and changing routes.

Are there any solutions for mobile phone mesh networks? Without them, I fear that what is being provided is a false sense of security. That is, something that will seem to work, but will fail when it is actually needed in an emergency.

LarryHart said...

I continue to agree with myself (thanks Norman Goldman) about the debt ceiling, and this pretty much confirms it...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com :

There are really only two purposes that the ceiling theoretically fulfills. The first, envisioned when the rule was first created 100 years ago, is to encourage fiscal austerity by making it harder for the government to spend money it doesn't have. The second, which has only become apparent recently, is that the debt ceiling can be used as a political football by minority factions of Congress (ahem, the Freedom Caucus) who want to create some leverage by holding the government (and its credit rating) hostage.

Even if these two "advantages" are considered desirable, however, things have never worked out that way. The ceiling does not encourage austerity, as a quick look at the national debt tells us. And holding the government hostage tends to rebound on the partisans who do it, rather than allowing them to advance their legislative agenda. So, the century-old rule really doesn't have any positive impacts in reality. Meanwhile, the continued existence of the debt ceiling puts the government at risk of wasting hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments, as happened on the two occasions where the government defaulted (2011) or almost defaulted (1973). For all of these reasons, more than 90% of economists would like to see the policy abolished.

Fundamentally, the debt ceiling law is a crude attempt to repeal arithmentic. If Congress passes laws to spend $3.7 trillion and other laws to raise $3.2 trillion in taxes, then the government has to borrow $500 billion to make up the shortfall. Having a debt-ceiling law saying the government can't borrow that much makes no sense. (Actually, it is the cumulative amounts that are at issue, but it is easier to understand one year at a time).

locumranch said...


There urban centrism of David's response is astounding, his assumption being that only those populations that live 100-feet or less apart are qualified (or intelligent enough) to respond to emergencies, whereas those who reside in rurality must be unprepared slack-jawed yokels.

Unfortunately for the yokel contingent, I can attest that the US federal government appears to share these urban centrist views, this I know after serving about 8 years as rural EMS coordinator (and often sole medical provider) to a geographical area 2X the size of Los Angeles County.

After the Feds mandated electronic medical record systems for ALL hospitals, I watched in horror as local rural hospitals were forced to close their doors every time the wind blew & the power grid failed (about 2x/month) because the Feds just KNEW computer records were far superior to paper records.

I despaired over our rural EMS response times (averaging 80 to 100 minutes one way) due to the great distances involved, sometimes wishing for the enviable 45 minute response times of the bankrupt & poorly managed Detroit system.

These urban centrists are egoists who assume that a functional cellphone or P2P texting system entitles them to preferential service. These are the entitled demanders who carry their cellphones into our national parks and, without knowing their exact location, call for immediate assistance every time they sprain their ankles, which then requires an extensively expensive search & rescue response by mostly unpaid volunteers.

Our over-burdened EMS providers would just LOVE the utility of David's P2P disaster proof texting system as the 'Boy who cried Wolf' could call for help under almost any circumstance, including those times when he was peckish for his biweekly pizza delivery & his side-salad, compliments of the federal government.

No pineapple please.


Best
_____
Back in the day when I drove an ambulance in urban Oakland CA, about 50% of all our EMS calls were from non-emergent 'regulars' or 'frequent fliers' who we could identify by name based on their address alone, and things have gotten much worse since then as (circa 2011) 20% of hospital patients account for 80% of hospital costs

Jumper said...

The trick to managing p2p functionality is that all reception not specifically okayed by the walkie-talkie holders is off by default.

The idiot's "100 feet" remark is flack, of course. An entire subdivision is usually several thousand feet across, and with downed cell towers makes this type of rapidly evolving walkie-talkie network useful. A couple of designated "9-1-1 hubs" (just meaning one of the walkie-talkie holders) could route rescuers who themselves are spared local "chatterers" who might be attempting to use their private phone's walkie-talkie function poorly. There could also be a broadcast-but-not-receive feature for predesignated rescue or block-captain users to instruct listeners on queuing their calls for assistance in triage parameters. Useful civilians could quickly be given access to some more rescue operation comm.

Jumper said...

Neighborhood users activating their own walkie-talkie software would not, of course, be limited to the fire and rescue network. They could be creating their own local networks of friends and neighbors that don't clog other talk. "Betty Doe has coffee and barbecue out front of their house" would not be interfering with "We have a pregnant lady with a broken arm" on the other network.

donzelion said...

I'd love to know more about the p2p solution, but suspect (as is often the case in telecoms) that there are some other concerns in play. Perhaps a system like this already exists, to be activated only in the event of a catastrophic nationwide emergency (a nuclear attack). Our government can do things that massive hackee conspiracies shouldn't even dream are possible.

Telecoms have long had their own folks calculating what-if scenarios; they inherited vast systems built around cold war calculus long ago. Not to say they're right, or they know better and should be blindly trusted, only that public knowledge may not fully capture the reasoning.

donzelion said...

As for Locum's more cogent point, I've heard similar numbers broken down even more - 1% of patients count foe 20-30% of costs, the next 4% count for 20-25%, the next 15% count for 20-30% - the precise numbers vary, but a few 'hard cases' are consistently the main problem.

The outrage is that the 1% creating the most costs does not do so necessarily because their problems are so serious, but more often, they are quirky and distinctive, not subject to price containment strategies. These people used to be dumped in 'sanitariums' to die (or occasionally recover miraculously), along with tuberculoids, severely autistic, Downs syndrome, diabetic amputees, etc. We've partially progressed beyond that sort of barbarism, but have still barely begun to figure out what to do with this chronically expensive group (into which most of us will someday probably fall).

David Brin said...

The thing I have pushed for is not "walkie talkie." It is peer to peer backup TEXT passing... which is trivial and already implementable and could get a message from a dying women in Fukushima to her daughter in Maine.

There IS a problem of cost containment when 0.1% have spectacularly expensive bills. This is always a matter of triage and rationing. The Europeans ration in ways that the right calls cold-hearted... an insipid accusation, since in fact, it's an area where the US right is deeply philosophically compatible. The Europeans calculate how many high quality years an intervention might save. Children get almost limitless points. Many times the chronically elderly are just referred to hospice.

This is harsh, but much better than the pre-ACA way in the USA.... letting insurance companies eject the poor and sick.

US right wingers know the European approach is better. But it is... european!!!!

Jumper said...

Don't forget, in this internet age much is shaped by legacy telephone taxes! Skype is untaxed. Land lines are. Speaking of legacy, whoever owns the residuum MCI microwave relay network still gets a quiet payment from the USA for maintaining an alternative emergency communications channel - last time I checked. It's Wikipedia time, I think...

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi donzelion

I have heard that the major cost is in the last few days of life
This is when heroic efforts are made against the inevitable

And this is often where people - if they could actually choose - would choose NOT to be subjected to that level of abuse and pain for a few more uncomfortable moments

What we need is a 100% "Hospice" cover with everybody making their own end of life contracts years or decades before they need it
I'm not talking about unbreakable decisions - the owner of the decision should always be able to change it - but an actual decision that can be used to fend off guilty feeling relatives

How many people would choose the sort of final weeks in the intensive care over the final days in their own home or in the comfort of a Hospice?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Dr Brin
"The Europeans calculate how many high quality years an intervention might save. Children get almost limitless points. Many times the chronically elderly are just referred to hospice."

This is NZ - not Europe - but the "just referred to hospice" is actually a positive not a negative
If your body is knackered then a Hospice where they specialize on making you as comfortable as possible is much much better than a Hospital

One example - a Hospital will have all sorts of rules and procedures about drug use based on long term effects - so they will not give you some drugs as they have long term side effects - which is important if you are treating somebody with a long life ahead of them but of much less importance when you are dealing with somebody on their last few months


Jumper said...

I see now. You want a volunteer packet switching network. Such could not be "activated" directly by the comm companies, who are by definition offline/down. But could be activated by the selfsame p2p network transmitting a "code red" unlocking code. Another option is p2p all the time. A third option is the user decides whether to allow the "code red" to employ his device in the packet switching net.

Turning your device into an open anonymous p2p packet transmission volunteer router will reduce battery life. Severely. That's the rub.

Annabelle said...

SO you have results from a survey of the meteorologists? Not the climate scientists the meteorologists.

LarryHart said...

Tom Skilling knows climate change is real, and he's the uber-ist uber-meteorologist there is.

Ioan said...

Just to change the discussion towards another natural disaster which the press seems to have minimized: the 2017 Chiapas Earthquake in Mexico.

It was an 8.2 Magnitude earthquakes. The top 38 most powerful earthquakes range from a magnitude of 9.6 - 8.5. In short, while it isn't among the top 40 most powerful earthquakes, it is very powerful.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_earthquakes#Largest_earthquakes_by_magnitude

Here is my opinion of the earthquake divided into a list of good and bad.

Good
1. The loss of life was minimal compared to similar earthquakes. So far, there are around 90 casualties. This earthquake was much more powerful than the 8.0 magnitude 1985 Mexico City earthquake which killed about 45,000. Note that the 2017 earthquake also affected Mexico City. I realize that the geography of the two earthquakes is different, but that is still an achievement.

2. This shows the belief that Mexico's government is too corrupt to adequately enforce building codes to be overblown. Yes, the government is corrupt. However, I doubt the death toll would have been anywhere near as low if the government was as ineffective as a lot of Americans believe (this includes liberals). By comparison, a similar earthquake in Sichuan, China in 2008 resulted in about 88k dead
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Sichuan_earthquake

3. No one is confirmed dead in Mexico City this time around. This is a miracle considering Mexico City's situation. A few facts about Mexico City:

a. It has about 20.4 million people
b. It is located in a depression surrounded by mountains.
c. The poorer neighborhoods are perched precariously on the slopes of the basin
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/death-toll-from-powerful-mexico-earthquake-rises_us_59b57e50e4b0354e44127ea3?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009
d. Foundations of the buildings in the city have been weakened due to land subsistence caused by groundwater depletion

Ioan said...

Bad
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/death-toll-from-powerful-mexico-earthquake-rises_us_59b57e50e4b0354e44127ea3?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Of the about 90 dead so far, 71 were killed in Oaxaca, 15 in Chiapas, and the rest in Tabasco.

1. This shows the uneven nature of Mexico's development. While these figures are from 2012, you'll notice that the states which have the highest fatality rates are those that are the poorest.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mexican_states_by_Human_Development_Index

2. The earthquake happened of the coast of Chiapas, yet most of the casualties happened in Oaxaca. This might have more to do with the earthquake's geography than it does with earthquake preparedness?

3. It demonstrates that native Mexican states are poorer than the rest of the country
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mexican_states_by_indigenous-speaking_population

From that list, Oaxaca and Chiapas have 34.2 and 27.2 percent of their populations speaking a native language. By comparison, in Tabasco only 3 percent of the population speaks a native language.

Paul SB said...

Another thing to note about Oaxaca is that it has a history of revolt against the government in Distrito Federal. It may be that the extreme poverty of Oaxaca comes from deliberate neglect on the part of the the Mexican government, attempting to keep it weak. If they made a point of shoring up the economy there, perhaps the people would have less motivation to revolt.

There was an award-winning movie called "El Norte" which I saw ages ago in which a brother and sister come home to find that everyone in their Oacxacan village had been rounded up and trucked away by the government, so they head north hoping to avoid becoming the Disappeared like the rest of their village.

Ioan said...

Paul SB,

I'm not sure you can really blame government neglect for Oaxaca's poverty compared to the rest of Mexico. To my knowledge, Mexican development is driven far more by US multinationals as opposed to the Mexican government. You can legitimately make the argument that the Mexican government made Oaxaca less attractive than it would otherwise have been, but I wouldn't use that as a default assumption.

Sagan Android said...

I think I know why mobile phone companies are not inclined to permit these peer-to-peer upgrades.

The computers that we now have in our pockets are arguably as powerful as the early internet servers were in the mid-late 90s. If people had P2P capability in their pockets, sooner or later somebody would realize that each person who had a phone, could in effect, act as a node on a massively open internet.

It would be very hard for telecom companies to charge for access to the internet when everyone's phone with peer-to-peer software could supplant much of the existing infrastructure of the internet.

David Brin said...

Sagan that's why I suggested a very restricted system. Just text passing and just when the phone does not detect a working cell tower. That restriction plus allowing the cellcos to charge for such passed texts should make it less noxious and more bearable for the companies. And just that much capability would triple our national resilience.

Imbeciles think this is about expanded 9-1-1 calling. What loonies. It is about allowing all American to communicate and continue business with all Americans, through simple text grams, even amid the worst crisis.

Hey "Annabelle" Go to your nearest university and find the buildings where chemists and others who know stuff hang out. Ideally meteorologists. Go inside. Knock on doors. Ask. Get past your cult's incantatory priests and actually try asking questions.

You won't because you are a coward and incurious and a fool... worse, a yammering fool.

donzelion said...

Loan: the measure, to me, of Mexican resiliency is relative to other countries where a magnitude 6.5 eathquake can result in thousands of casualties. I argued to my wits end overseas that merely arresting (and occasionally charging contractors with capital offenses) was silly: extreme punishments (chopping off hands, imposing lashes) never result in routinely implemented laws.

Had the quake been in Mexico City though...well, lets be grateful for small blessings. Meanwhile, the true calamity awaits Bangladesh more than anyone else (maybe Nepal/India) - their flooding may drive millions from their homes for the long haul, where Irma's nastiness will only knock out jobs for a few weeks/months (one hopes).

donzelion said...

Duncan: "I have heard that the major cost is in the last few days of life This is when heroic efforts are made against the inevitable"

I have heard that too from doctors and hospital administrators. I have heard from a few public health operators and insurers that it's not really the heroic measures though (doctor's time is expensive, but seldom more than $1000/hr, add on a full crew and you're still capped at about $5000/hr). But that's the 4% metric. The 1% is "tough cases" - folks using specialized meds that cost $2000 per dose will have many times that spent on them before and after the dosage...

"What we need is a 100% "Hospice" cover with everybody making their own end of life contracts years or decades before they need it"

Not a bad idea, but that isn't medicine anymore, is it?

"How many people would choose the sort of final weeks in the intensive care over the final days in their own home or in the comfort of a Hospice?

Ah, but how many know that it is truly their last days, v. 'probably'? If you had a 5% chance of being saved by an expensive, heroic procedure, wouldn't you take it? Or perhaps your family would urge you to do so?

Paul451 said...

Geneva Freeport sounds like the perfect setting for a classic heist movie. Billions in assets, much easily tradable like gold and jewels, stored in a single handy location.

--

I'd love Loco to go to his refrigerator and pantry and count the percentage of items that come from his own neighbourhood. "Self-reliant".

Aside: "20% of hospital patients account for 80% of hospital costs"

That is always going to be the case. In every field, in every industry. That's just how the power-law distribution works. Every so often, someone ignorant of mathematics makes this startling discovery and runs off with the pixies, often causing tremendous harm before they are caught and suitably beaten.

Paul451 said...

Donzelion,
"Ah, but how many know that it is truly their last days,"

Something I've seen first hand. There's no apparent difference between the thing that turns out to be treatable and extends your high-quality life, and the thing that's just adding more suffering to a dying person.

Paul451 said...

Greg Byshenk,
Mesh networks have been subject to significant research for a couple of decades. DARPA, for example, has been very interested in ad-hoc networks. AIUI, the routing issue has several possible solutions, depending on the application. The one you probably want is "Shortest Path Bridging", IEEE 802.1aq, or MANET (which is optimised for rapidly changing meshes.)

(Not saying I understand any of it, "no need for a second phase signaling process to run over the converged unicast topology to compute and install multicast trees", just that it is there.)

--

Jumper,
"I see now. You want a volunteer packet switching network. Such could not be "activated" directly by the comm companies, who are by definition offline/down. But could be activated by the selfsame p2p network transmitting a "code red" unlocking code. Another option is p2p all the time. A third option is the user decides whether to allow the "code red" to employ his device in the packet switching net."

Actually, David's already covered that, repeatedly, over the years. He expects to have the phone switch to mesh-mode whenever it can't detect a suitable primary network. The non-emergency advantage that he keeps pointing out is that it benefits the network-owners themselves to have users at the edge of the network or in black-spots to be given a chance to bunny-hop back to the network-proper. Even if it only works for text.

This ability would also be extraordinarily useful for rural people and commercial vehicles. For example, being able to use a vehicle (with more power and the option of a large external antenna) to relay from your handset back to the network. Or the handset to the vehicle to an out-building to your home to the network. Or bounce across several homes in the area until back to the network. Or...

(It also helps with S&R in remote areas, if the searchers can ping the area with a mesh-call. Much easier than visual ID. There are phone-signal locators used by modern S&R teams, but apparently they are expensive and just gives you basic direction. A mesh-system would let them talk to the rescuee, and let the rescuee pass on exact GPS coords from their phone. In some regions, rescuers can be within 100m of the rescuee and never see or hear each other.)

"Turning your device into an open anonymous p2p packet transmission volunteer router will reduce battery life. Severely. That's the rub."

You'd be the guy dead in the desert from dehydration with a full water-bottle by his side.

If the network is down, the mesh is the only value for that otherwise completely useless battery powered computer radio device in your pocket.

Paul451 said...

Annabelle,

No apology? No admission of error? No even a fucking pause for thought? Just change the subject and keep attacking?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Paul/donzelion

We won't get a 100% easy differentiation between
"the thing that turns out to be treatable and extends your high-quality life, and the thing that's just adding more suffering to a dying person"

But in a lot of cases the difference is quite clear


Why is making your end of life "will" while you are still healthy "not medicine"??

Is a doctor (or nurse) dedicated to life by the hour or by quality?

With all of these we won't get everybody on board - but we should be able to start cutting the costs AND reducing unnecessary suffering

B.J. Lapham said...

I can't say that the option of pressuring cell phone providers through a negligent manslaughter charge is likely to work. IANAL, of course.

This is the kind of thing that needs to be handled through legislation or regulation - with Pelosi currently flattering Trump (as you suggested!) and giving him Big Wins, now would be an excellent time for a D/moderate R coalition to put this requirement on Trump's desk.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi BJ

now would be an excellent time for a D/moderate R coalition to put this requirement on Trump's desk.

I'm not an American but surely this is writing a law - a job for Congress not the executive?

Paul SB said...

Paul 351,

"No apology? No admission of error? No even a fucking pause for thought? Just change the subject and keep attacking?"
- Does this sound familiar? Oh yeah, our faux rancher does exactly the same thing, as does the sapling. Maybe there's a pattern here, something generalizable ...

locumranch said...


Thanks to Ioan for mentioning the Earthquake in Mexico, bringing us back to my main point regarding 'resilience' that appears anathema to so many of our special first world snowflakes who demand constant 'apologies' from Life, the Universe and Everything:

You are NOT special. You are NOT the center of the Universe. Your problems are NOT the world's. Your opinions are no more valid than anyone else's. Your concerns are your own. Your discomfort is yours alone. Your distress is yours alone. Your moral outrage belongs to you alone. You are as insignificant & undeserving as are the rest of us. As am I. So, shut up & wait your turn. Be pleasant. Stop your incessant whinging. Stop demanding priority status and try to make the best of your particular situation. Help yourself if possible. Pretend that you're an adult. Those of us who can help will help when we're capable of helping, but only if we desire to help you, so be NICE because nobody owes you jackshit.


Best

Marino said...

Re: "European" healthcare rationing. The healthcare systems are still ruled by each single nation state in Europe, by its own laws (Given that health is defined as a human, personal, constitutionally protected right for everyone, such rationing wouldn't survice judicial review from constitutional courts).
I'm not aware that such a rationing is operating in Italy. They may refer someone to an hospice, but when s/he is terminally ill with no hope for any therapy. My father stayed in a ICU for three weeks for a colon cancer before dying even being over 80; a dear friend of mine dide from a brain cancer and she was allowed to die in peace in a hospice (she was in her '40s) from the hospital, and she died two or three days later, after two brain surgeries.
So, in both cases, money was spent irregardless of age, until the last days.
Unless you define "rationing" stuff like not allowing heart transplant for someone who's in his '80s... but it would be a open chest surgery lasting many hours, and the patient wouldn't survive it.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

Geneva Freeport sounds like the perfect setting for a classic heist movie. Billions in assets, much easily tradable like gold and jewels, stored in a single handy location.


The same thought occurred to me on the way into work this morning. A plot twist could be that it begins with a writer developing the heist plot as fiction, and when it becomes obvious that it really would work, he performs the heist in real life. Or something like that might happen in real life.

It also occurred to me that if the story was realistic enough, someone might bribe the writer with a billion dollars or so not to produce it. But it would probably be easier (and cheaper) just to kill him.

LarryHart said...

Anyone else concerned about the effects of "transparency" of half of Americans' identity-theft-enabling information?

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Marino: one of the problems in American healthcare is indeed a failure to culturally accept, or fully inform, the patients and families when treatment becomes ineffective. We spend a lot of effort trying heroic last-ditch measures with very low chances of success. (But occasionally they do succeed!)

@locumranch: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What is privilege of any sort if not demanding priority status? Would you tell, for instance, a young lady who was raped by a son of a local Big Shot that:

"Your concerns are your own. Your discomfort is yours alone. Your distress is yours alone. Your moral outrage belongs to you alone. You are as insignificant & undeserving as are the rest of us. As am I. So, shut up & wait your turn. Be pleasant. Stop your incessant whinging. Stop demanding priority status and try to make the best of your particular situation. Help yourself if possible. Pretend that you're an adult."

In Tuscaloosa, that happened. Her community gave her pretty much that advice. And she killed herself.

Why? Not because she was a 'snowflake'. It was because she knew that justice was something her community actively denied. It wasn't just indifference: They would grant priority status to her rapist, listen to his incessant whinging, and consider him significant and deserving. He didn't have to pretend he was an adult. He was a rich white male with social status, and rules are for people other than him.

Multiply by several million and you have the cause of social justice movements. It's not that they are so special. It's that the powerful think THEY are so special -- they and those they favor.

---------------------

The flip side is your points about EMS utilization and ED purposes -- which are completely on point! Services need to be available that are PROPERLY PROPORTIONAL to the urgency of the problem. Diversion to lower-level urgent care, to PCP, to telemedicine needs to happen. Though your '20% of patients cause 80% of costs' statistic doesn't mean much: that's true of pretty much any power law. 20% of tech support calls cause 80% of tech support time, for instance.

The trick is how to triage properly. Costs are usually a blunt tool for such. For instance: consider a friend with a long-duration migraine, who was out of the medicine she needed to break the migraine.

Could she call her PCP? No, they were booked for months, and this medicine can't be prescribed over the phone; you need to be examined first.
Could she go to urgent care? No, for it was Sunday morning, and not a single UC was open in the whole city-wide system.
Could she use the telemedicine application? No, for legal liability severely restricted the list of diagnoses they would treat, and migraines weren't on the list.

Thus she was FORCED to go to the ED -- and pay a punitive co-pay -- and use up system resources that really weren't necessary -- just to get a prescription!

The problem isn't the government's rules, as clumsy as they often are; it's the perverse incentives that both public AND private entities promulgate. I regularly get insurance companies setting requirements just as obtuse and bassackwards as the government, and I don't get to avoid those any more than I can Medicare's, because our system needs all the revenue it can legally and ethically get.

Knowing you're EMS/ED makes me understand your grouchiness much better; you regularly get the refuse of the system and rarely see the people doing the 'right things'. They rarely need your services.

You want to encourage resiliency? Tell you what, let's see what would be more helpful:

A) Setting up a system -- public or private -- to spread education on tips and tools for resiliency;
B) Encouraging the spread of 'preparedness stores' such as exist in the West for providing survival supplies for any budget;
C) Haranguing and complaining and shaming people you think are morally inept for taking help offered

I'll wait.

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/opinion/columnists/climate-rush-limbaugh-hurricanes.html


...
[C]onservatives have grown increasingly hostile to science in general. Surveys show a steady decline in conservatives’ trust in science since the 1970s, which is clearly politically motivated — it’s not as if science has stopped working.

It’s true that scientists have returned the favor, losing trust in conservatives: more than 80 percent of them now lean Democratic. But how can you expect scientists to support a party whose presidential candidates won’t even concede that the theory of evolution is right?

The bottom line is that we are now ruled by people who are completely alienated not just from the scientific community, but from the scientific idea — the notion that objective assessment of evidence is the way to understand the world. And this willful ignorance is deeply frightening. Indeed, it may end up destroying civilization.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

It's not that they are so special. It's that the powerful think THEY are so special -- they and those they favor.


Loc is apparently being the stand-up comedian (or Dave Sim) who berates his audience for the fact that so few of them showed up. He blames exactly the wrong people.

A frantic citizen calls the fire department to report her house on fire. Loc would answer, "You're not special. Wait in line behind the guy abusing the system by calling for a pizza delivery. If that bothers you, then stop calling for pizzas!"

Paul SB said...

He is also illustrating a blindness that is entirely typical of conservatives - to see everything as individual, denying the existence of social problems. If one idiot ODs on opioids, he's an idiot. If we lose the same number of people to opioid overdoses every three weeks as we lost in the World Trade Towers on 9/11, that's a social problem. If one idiot won't go out looking for work, he's an idiot. If tens of millions of people have work but it pays so little they need government assistance to keep from ending up homeless, it's a social problem.

LarryHart said...

@Paul SB,

If one idiot votes for Donald Trump, he's an idiot. If tens of millions of people vote for Donald Trump, it's a social problem.

locumranch said...



Like Bertrand Russell, I find this whole Western cultural obsession with 'The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed' FALLACY -- this conflation of suffering & misfortune with virtue & heroism -- increasingly irrational & sickening.

I mean, really, a masochistic Catfish has no business in the defence industry if he actually believes this 'Superiority of the Victim' tripe that allocates specialness, deservingness & privilege to the assumed victim while condemning the assumed perpetrators as pathologically 'evil' because of their assumption of specialness, deservingness & privilege.

In terms of 'resilience', I have argued that 'No one is special' which means that I stand opposed to all types victim and/or perpetrator privilege, including to those special privileges & authorities that our host would gift to assorted fact-users & experts.

Isn't that SPECIAL? Various fact-users & experts think that they are the center of the Universe. They think that their problems are the world's; they think that their opinions possess more validity that everyone else's; and they think that their inherent SPECIALNESS gives them the right to order everyone else around. Narcissists they are, by definition. No wonder everybody hates them even they when appreciate & rely on their expertise.

Here's what the fact-users & experts can do if they wish to be LIKED, listened to & obeyed:

They need to 'Shut up & wait (their) turn'. They need to 'Be pleasant'. They need to 'Stop (their) incessant whinging. They need to 'Stop demanding priority status and try to make the best of (their) particular situation'. They need to 'Help (themselves) if possible'. They need to 'Pretend that (they're) an adult'.

And, most importantly, these fact-users & experts need to 'be NICE" and, then & only then, maybe the general public (who doesn't owe them jackshit) will listen to their advice & suggestions and 'gift' them with authority.


Best
_____
From the woman who calls in a house fire to the one who does the same thing to get a free pizza, LH argues that everyone deserves to be 'special', the problem being (to paraphrase Syndrome from 'The Incredibles') that 'NO ONE IS SPECIAL WHEN EVERYONE IS'. And, poor PSB makes the same argument, believing than individual problems become SPECIAL when they become 'social', as does David when he justifies a social P2P texting solution as the means to save those SPECIAL individuals who get trapped in their basements.

Twominds said...

@Marino 7:20AM

Re: "European" healthcare rationing. The healthcare systems are still ruled by each single nation state in Europe, by its own laws (Given that health is defined as a human, personal, constitutionally protected right for everyone, such rationing wouldn't survice judicial review from constitutional courts).
I'm not aware that such a rationing is operating in Italy.


Same here, Netherlands. I don´t know of rationing like Dr. Brin mentions. The experience of my family doesn´t support that notion, my mother, while terminal with colon cancer, got a stoma operation in her last days of life, in the hope that it would better her quality of life a bit while giving her a few more weeks (max 1-2 months in the best case). It was risky because of her extreme exhaustion, and must have been expensive. She fiercely wanted it, and that was the deciding factor, not a cost calculation.

Dr.Brin, could you please point us to where you find info on the European healthcare rationing based on age?

Jumper said...

It must be Monday. Tuesday is when loco calls for sympathy for the jobless meth-head and opioid-addict rurals, because it's not their fault. But today is all about stupid progressives, calling it a "social problem" and treating these rural jobless opioid-addicted meth-heads like snowflakes!

Jumper said...

Fish in a barrel indeed.

On another item, Google reveals a page on determining if or how much increased hurricane strength is trending.
https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes/

Paul SB said...

No one is talking about being special except for loco, who confuses both the enforcement of law and meeting the needs of society to be the same thing as granting special privileges, and showing that he still doesn't have the wits to parse a single word said by anyone outside his imaginary cadre. All he can do is parrot Rush Limbaugh snarking points.

locumranch said...


@Twominds in defence of David.

Healthcare rationing can take two forms, rationing by commission & rationing by omission. The US offers every available treatment option but rations healthcare (to a limited extent) based on ability to pay, effectively rationing healthcare by commission. In contrast, most of the EU nations ration healthcare by omission, by offering limited treatment options to everyone regardless of availability to pay (as was the case in the UK with the recent Baby Gard incident).

The easiest way to ration healthcare by omission is by limiting technological availability. On average, Japan & the USA have 2 to 4X the medical imaging capacity of any EU-based National Healthcare System; and, as in the case of the Netherlands & Germany, a patient in the USA undergoes medical imaging at up to 10 to 20X the frequency of the EU imaging rate.

http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/health_glance-2015-en/06/02/index.html?itemId=/content/chapter/health_glance-2015-31-en&mimeType=text/html

Also consider the availability of dialysis machines. The UK (with it's 65 million population) offers this life-saving therapy to only an estimated 40,000 patients per year, whereas the USA (with its 323 million population) offers this same serve to between 0.7 to 1 Million patients per year at over 4X the UK rate.

The US also spends more than $26 Billion Dollars on Preterm Infant Births (EGA 22 to 34 weeks) per year & can boast a survival rate of over 80% in this regard, BUT this effort has the major downside of artificially inflating US Infant Mortality rates. It's telling that EU-based healthcare systems provide little or no comparable data on neonatal survival, implying that they do not make a similar effort in this regard, and I can assure you that Germany does not even classify Preterm Births of less than EGA 34weeks as 'Infants', preferring to classify deaths by premature delivery as either fetal miscarriages or spontaneous abortions.

As far as the Netherlands goes, I could also share an unpleasant incident involving my sibling & a new-onset seizure in an Amsterdam Coffee Shop. My sibling received the 'best possible care' that NHS had to offer but that care did not include medical imaging or a head scan, causing a diagnostic failure that led directly to my sibling's death from a treatable brain injury.


Best
_____
Good show, Jumper, now blame the recent Hurricanes on Trump Derangement Syndrome like Jennifer Lawrence . And, you wonder why the majority of meth-headed red rural hillbillies hate your condescending blue urban guts?

Zepp Jamieson said...

I've got a question for the Brinites assembled, outside of Doctor Brin's essay on the effects of technology on disaster preparedness and relief, and I'm hoping I might get an answer to a question I've been posing over.
Let's say you have a space ship that is travelling at 99.99998 c. At that speed, the time dilation factor is 790 to one. If I understand the equations properly, the ship is also foreshortened to 1/790 of its length along its axis of motion, and its mass has increased by 790 times.
Would the mass cause the ship to implode in on itself, or would there be no subjective effect noticeable to the occupants? And would the foreshortening be an issue?
In theory, where the ship to reach c, it would be an infinite wave of infinite mass with no time, which I'm sure would be quite inconvenient for somebody.

PS: P2P is an excellent solution, but expect resistance because of the torrents issue.

Jumper said...

Probably, loco, for the same reason that any thief hates an honest man.

LarryHart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

My admittedly-amateur understanding of those relativistic effects is that the foreshortening and such happen uniformly so there would be no subjective effect inside of the capsule.

"In theory, were the ship to reach c..." is only useful in thinking about what happens as it approaches c, because in practice, it can't reach c.

Paul451 said...

David,
Re: Emergency phone meshing.

Another idea to add to the list, for the day someone finally listens to you: There's no reason why a cell handset can't reach the EPIRB satellite network. Software-defined radio can easily switch frequencies and protocols. Power would be amped up (5W, typically), but it only needs to transmit long enough to send beacon ID and GPS location, around 4 minutes on current networks; and it's not something you've got jammed up against your head for years. Like PBLs, phones are registered to the person; unlike PBLs, they are nearly universally owned.

In theory, it could work out of the box with the existing Sarsat network, but it would help to update that system over time to be specifically compatible with cellphone based beacons (the extra data you can gain from getting more info from the rescuee would be invaluable. How many people? What ages? Lost but mobile, or hurt, or trapped? Water? Food? Shelter? etc. EPIRBs don't have text messaging, they don't have easily selected "type-of-emergency" icons, they are just on or off.)

---

Re: End of life decisions.
Me: "the thing that turns out to be treatable and extends your high-quality life, and the thing that's just adding more suffering to a dying person"
Duncan: "But in a lot of cases the difference is quite clear"

As I said, having gone through it, both versions, there was no obvious distinction between the two. And no agreement from medical staff. (In the first situation, one hospital was pushing to move her to hospice care. Then a visiting specialist happened to recognise a test result and transferred her to another facility, a week later she was home and recovering. In the second case, in hindsight, several months of horrible and ultimately worthless treatment could have been avoided; and yet medical staff mostly agreed with the value of treatment, right up until the final week.)

The real world is too muddy for proclamations, prior agreements, and formulas. People make the decisions, they have to, but it's horrible and messy and wrong.

Paul451 said...

Larry,
Re: Geneva Freeport

It works for all the heist tropes. The Die Hard type plot, where the bad guys stage a terrorist attack elsewhere to distract authorities from the actual heist (bringing in many transport planes and paramilitary troops to overwhelm security), the Hero is in the wrong place at the wrong time, probably with his estranged teenage daughter. No comment on the morality of Freeport is made. Or the Ocean's 11 heist, where a clever and intricate ruse is used to target a specific bad guy's stash; except, twist, it was to set up another bad guy, because the first bad guy is actually a heart-of-gold rogue and was helping all along, but it had to look convincing before the properly bad guy would open up his own stash, allowing the real heist.

Or the cheesy TV trope: the good guys have to retrieve one item, a particular piece of art owned by one bad guy, say a third-world dictator, in order to lure the main bad-guy-of-the-week, say a drug kingpin-cum-terrorist, out of hiding thanks to his obsession with that specific work. But they can't get cooperation from the Swiss, nor from their own bosses, so they have to go off-books and become the bad guys and use their unique talents to steal the work. Twist ending, during the hand-over/sting near the end of the episode, the third world dictator and a bunch of his elite Guard ambush the exchange; he had discovered the theft and tracked the team's flight. But the Heroes hero, and both bad guys are captured. The dictator is of course wanted by the Hague for genocide. The bosses forgive the team, but fake-sternly, with much complaining about the international problems they've caused.

"It also occurred to me that if the story was realistic enough, someone might bribe the writer with a billion dollars or so not to produce it. But it would probably be easier (and cheaper) just to kill him."

A plot for the story-within-a-story genre.

Paul451 said...

Loco said, without any awareness of irony: "You are NOT special. You are NOT the center of the Universe. Your problems are NOT the world's. [...] Stop demanding priority status and try to make the best of your particular situation."

Contradicting his entire urban/rural schtick; not to mention his whole creepy MGTOW thing.

"They need to 'Stop (their) incessant whinging."

Said the incessant whiner.

Catfish,
"Would you tell, for instance, a young lady who was raped by a son of a local Big Shot that: [the above]"

Yeah, he would. He's previously defended rape as being merely a justified response to feminism, denying men their "natural rights".

Paul451 said...

Zepp,
Re: Relativistic implosion.

From the frame of reference of the atoms in the ship, the other atoms in the ship are stationary; therefore they experience no added mass effects relative to each other. Likewise they don't experience any dimensional change, relative to each other.

They do see the rest of the universe so altered, however.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

In the first situation, one hospital was pushing to move her to hospice care. Then a visiting specialist happened to recognise a test result and transferred her to another facility, a week later she was home and recovering.


My dad, suffering from both advanced diabetes and dementia, unable to stand or walk, was recommended for hospice care and then lived another year and a half.

Anonymous said...

Just heard about the death of Jerry Pournelle at 84.

donzelion said...

Ah, September 11. 16 years ago today, by this time, I was still waiting in line at a local blood bank with some law school friends in Boston. The line stretched around the block for donors like me wondering what, if anything we could do.

In the weeks that followed, the Federalist Society contingent of my class (a few of whom are now judges) pinned the blame on Clinton. Some of that was fair (he could have done more); mostly, it was posturing. Yet Al Gore had proposed airline safety reforms in the mid/late '90s - provisions that a few key Republican Congressmen blocked at the time, just as they blocked as much of Clinton/Gore's agenda as they could simply because it was Clinton/Gore's agenda (since they adopted most of those terms in the Patriot Act, they never really had a problem with the rule - just the politicians in question - blow jobs were more important than national security, after all).

Three of those dinosaurs - Issa, Royce, and Rohrabacher still hold legislative office, largely through a handful of Orange County backers. Hopefully, they'll be retired in 2018, before they wreck the competent government Obama built.

donzelion said...

Zepp: "P2P is an excellent solution, but expect resistance because of the torrents issue."

I think a p2p system would be an excellent solution, so long as it is not (a) coopted/degraded, and (b) available for major catastrophes.

If a p2p system were widely known about and accessible, how long before hackers targeted it? Not hackers looking to make a buck from identity theft, but rather, 'privateers' looking to cause disruption in service to another government...I can imagine such a system in the hands of a Daisy from our host's Earth - someone deliberately using it to kill people (and doing so would probably be about as easy as using it for its intended purpose). However, if it was 'in place,' but kept a secret (mostly), and only useful when a presidential directive overruled the default programming on our smart phones - then few governments wouldn't even bother contacting hackers to exploit this possibility.

For hurricanes and other regional disasters, when there is a good and effective cavalry that can be brought in, certain solutions that might make it even more effective might be held in reserve for 'the big one.' Especially when we're considering non-localized emergencies that could wipe out or block the cavalry (e.g., nuclear war, severe epidemic, asteroid strike, and maybe solar emissions)...

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

In the weeks that followed [9/11], the Federalist Society contingent of my class (a few of whom are now judges) pinned the blame on Clinton.


One benefit to the Clintons of President Obama's 2008 election was that suddenly everything stopped being Bill Clinton's fault.

Jumper said...

Another downside to be considered is crime on p2p. Looters flash mobs, this sort of thing. Yes, I saw it on the hurricane news which reminded me as our discussion unfolds. Of course there are other methods of dealing with the various crimes. I have a feeling the hurricane looters don't know they are living in 2017. And I have a feeling some with brag on Facebook, and include their smiling faces with some of the loot.

David Brin said...


Zepp, the inhabitants of the spaceship do not notice any change in their rest mass, hence no implosion. But they do notice it gets harder and harder for their engines to add further “9’s” to their speed. The more nines, the harder it becomes for your engine to add another 9.

Locumranch! You turned cogent and admirable with this:

“You are NOT special. You are NOT the center of the Universe. Your problems are NOT the world's. Your opinions are no more valid than anyone else's. Your concerns are your own. Your discomfort is yours alone. Your distress is yours alone. Your moral outrage belongs to you alone. You are as insignificant & undeserving as are the rest of us. As am I. So, shut up & wait your turn. Be pleasant. Stop your incessant whinging. Stop demanding priority status and try to make the best of your particular situation. Help yourself if possible. Pretend that you're an adult. Those of us who can help will help when we're capable of helping, but only if we desire to help you, so be NICE because nobody owes you jackshit.”

Only there’s a problem. You forgot to include the quotation marks and explain that it is what you’ve just now started reciting in a mirror. Because that is the route to your salvation as a human mind.

We trained in science already recite “I might be wrong.” And then created a society of reciprocal accountability that YOUR cult is doing everything it can to destroy.

“Be nice?” You are commanding Americans to “be nice”? When you confederates started the nastiness and grand theft and cursing, calling us decadent fools for actually knowing things? Be nice??? We try to negotiate like adults and you lickspittle slaves of feudal lords kowtow to Dennis friend-to-boys Hastert’s iron law that no republican may aver negotiate, even for the good of the nation. Be… nice…

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Paul451 @Zepp: Those 'smushing' effects come into play if there is a relativistic collision and bundles of atoms moving at a fraction of lightspeed interact with each other. When the SS Thunderbird and a shuttlecraft collide at 0.98c, the shuttlecraft weighs 5 times what it would if it were traveling beside the ship, and is 1/5 the thickness, as seen by the Thunderbird. The onboard clock of the shuttlecraft seems to run five times faster, as the Thunderbird sees it. This has major implications for figuring out if the deflector shield will withstand the impact.

But the atoms of the Thunderbird are at relative rest and don't care. They act the same as they would in a peaceful orbit.

Relativity always happens to the other guy.

@locum:

First, condolences on the loss of your sib. That's a horrible event, the more so as you had the training to know it was the wrong call. I have lost loved ones recently and unexpectedly too: no one can describe the pain of it.

I didn't say anything about 'special'-ness of the victim. I don't know if the accusation was true or not; I don't know the circumstances. I don't know if they were 'deserving'. The point is that we won't, and can't, because privilege protected the accused. Not 'seemed' to, did, in documented events. Justice was not blind; she played favorites. The law was irrelevant, and facts were nuisances: the social outcome was all that mattered. The 'right' people, the 'good' people, won -- and reality did not determine what was 'good', but social standing. For nearly all history this was simply the way of the world.

You can either say "not my problem", and enjoy a false happiness in a society that would crush YOU or any of your friends or family just as easily and blithely, or you can fight for a better system. You can either be loyal to due process and equal protection and rights of the accused and all the things that the anti-federalists among the Founders insisted on explicitly naming, or shrug your shoulders and say that's only for the 'right' people. You can embrace the Patriotic ideal in the Revolutionary sense -- that injustice to another is a threat to your own safety -- or choose the Tory way of upholding the establishment regardless of its indifference. You can be a subject, or a citizen. Your choice.

awbryan said...

The opinions of experts get an automatic hearing; they should not be automatically obeyed. An expert, by his or her essential nature, is myopic: they don't get the big picture. A partial exception is worth mentioning for systems experts, whose focus IS the big picture... in which case, they can't see details. No mortal can comprehend the full complexity of the world; we must rely on each other.

No, the experts are not automatically right. But you cannot pretend they are automatically wrong, either, and you cannot simply blind yourself to the facts they have uncovered. Are you not an expert in EMS matters yourself? Why should I not decide that you are off your rocker, there are no problems with emergency management (after all, the ED by my house has excess capacity -- these tales of flooded EDs and delayed ambulances must be poppycock!), and tell you that such matters are your problem, not mine, so shut up and let my friend the football player-turned-MBA tell you how to do your job? It makes about as much sense: and you would (or maybe did?) feel an equal amount of rage that your hard-won experience was treated like garbage before nostrums that 'everyone knew' in their world but meant nothing to you.

I would rather my local farmlands stay well-watered and fertile, and my wilderness areas full of game for hunters to enjoy for centuries to come. I want my rivers clear, my beaches intact, and have no need to spend billions on dikes for every seaport from here to Quebec City. Climatology is not about hurting red-rural people, for God's sake. It's about keeping their beloved rural lands -- you know, the ones that feed and clothe us all -- from destruction.

So when red-rural people don't just object to the narrow vision of climate experts, don't just say they are flat wrong, but declare them a vast conspiracy against the red-rural culture; when say they're going to push for even more damaging actions, partly for local benefit and partly just for spite -- what are we to think? That you are the wise stewards of the land and that expertise should be equally respected? That we're underpaying you for your services to the urban zones? That you, not we, are the ones trying to be the adults in the room?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Healthcare and rationing

"Unlimited healthcare" is like clean water or fresh air - you simply don’t use more because it’s free!
You use what you need - using MORE healthcare is like going to the dentist for pleasure - some people may do that but NOT me!

The end of life bit does need to be sorted - my experience here is that the medical people are very good at determining the best way forwards
BUT that they treat the patients wishes as paramount - and a Hospice is not just for the last few days
My wife has MSA - and is steadily getting weaker - I look after her at home but the Hospice does a tremendous amount to help including giving us both respite periods - Jane has now had four one week stays in the actual hospice (over the last year)
The major shortfall with the NHS here is mental care - the resources are not in place

Robert Sandstedt said...

The routing priority would be to get the messages to a tower for relay to the ultimate end point. To be successful, the P2P software would need to be location aware of itself and peers relative to the nearest towers.

Robert Sandstedt said...

This is the Telex version of CB and family band radio, not a 911 hot button. Urban and suburban density population centers would absolutely benefit more than rural populations, simply because of density. That doesn't mean that rural populations would get not benefit from having a communication network that's independent of central infrastructure and provides discreet communication between users. Channel crowding in CB & FRS frequencies is a significant hurdle in coordinating emergency responses.

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

@LarryHart | I wouldn't count the purple wage folks as parasites because I never got the impression that they actually wanted that outcome. After a few generations of living that way, they might come to expect it, though, and that is when I might change my mind. 8)

Though David's purple wage people didn't figure prominently in the novel, I suspect they found ways to do something they found at least partially fulfilling. The problem was they couldn't do that AND make a living at the same time. As long as someone tries to become more tomorrow than they were yesterday (by their own definition mostly), I'm disinclined to call them parasites. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@Donzelion | We need parasites the same way we need thieves, murderers, and terrorists.

Yah. We don't need them, but have them anyway. There is a problem in the definitions, though, and that means we are likely to keep the around. Aristocrats were not lumped in with thieves centuries ago. Neither were the priests. Nowadays? Heresy used to be treated as a very dramatic crime. Murder of the soul or something like that. Nowadays?

As we grow up, we are moving the goal posts. I'm okay with that mostly as long as we notice that we are doing it. Today's parasite was yesterday's community leader. Today's parasite might be tomorrow's needed social t-cell... or object lesson. 8)

I've got a different attitude with respect to parasites than I had a few years ago. I've passed through an auto-immune disorder and survived, so I know I have an immune response that triggers on something that wasn't lethal, but the response came real close. We've evolved to deal with parasites to some degree, thus removing them has serious consequences. This has led me to ponder analogous social situations.

Paul451 said...

Re: Capt'n Zepp's Ship

David,
But they do notice it gets harder and harder for their engines to add further "9's" to their speed. The more nines, the harder it becomes for your engine to add another 9."

To be pedantic, the ship and its occupants don't notice that. They instead notice the greater and greater distortion of the universe outside the ship. Pancaking ahead, distorting and warping behind (in addition to the blue/red shift). They'll still feel exactly the same acceleration from the drive.

Catfish,
"The onboard clock of the shuttlecraft seems to run five times faster, as the Thunderbird sees it."

Slower. Each sees the clock on the other as running slower.

Robert Sandstedt said...

Telcos could monetize the system by charging a nominal fee during non-emergencies. There are countless times I've wished for text communication while away from home cell coverage.

locumranch said...


Briefly I found myself in agreement with Paul451 when he said "The real world is too muddy for proclamations, prior agreements, and formulas. People make the decisions, they have to, but it's horrible and messy and wrong", and then the fool goes & contradicts himself with his self-righteously thoughtless moral proclamations.

With David, I concur. I know the value of the memento mori. I often stand in front of the mirror while reciting sentiments analogous to the "You are NOT special" verse, and I know that I am a terrible person who has failed in every way that counts.

And, though I be a terrible person & abysmal failure, I still tower head & shoulders over a largely execrable but well-loved humanity in terms of morality, education, intellect, effort, accomplishment & material success, and I despair because our society of dunces AGREES that I am the best of the best of modern humanity, as if I was some sort of black-hearted Florence Nightingale or a demonic Mother Teresa (who were both accused often of misogyny, btw).

I wasted years attempting UPLIFT on my own species, only to be betrayed at every turn, and I despaired until I accepted the nihilistic joy of ZFG, the rot at the heart of Golden Astrobe, the wisdom of natural selection, the salvation inherent in destruction and the fiery triumph of the Cassini Probe.

Under certain circumstances, Enlightenment & Adaption may follow Death & Destruction.


Best
____

Hospice is the most reasonable course of action in many circumstances. It leads to Acceptance (Peace), the fifth & final Grief Stage as described by Kubler-Ross.

LarryHart said...

awbryan:

No, the experts are not automatically right. But you cannot pretend they are automatically wrong, either, and you cannot simply blind yourself to the facts they have uncovered...


That's the thing he keeps missing (like a bad marksman). Experts don't demand to be obeyed. They provide potential solutions to our problems. It's one thing to respectfully disagree with expert advice, but it's another thing entirely to refuse to listen on the grounds that they didn't suck up to you enough to make you feel good about taking their advice. It's not as if keeping the planet livable is a favor you're doing for the scientists, and for which they owe you due compensation in return.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

I wasted years attempting UPLIFT on my own species, only to be betrayed at every turn, and I despaired until I accepted the nihilistic joy of ZFG, the rot at the heart of Golden Astrobe, the wisdom of natural selection, the salvation inherent in destruction and the fiery triumph of the Cassini Probe.


There but for the grace of the God I'm skeptical of and the love of a good woman could have gone I. The dark mirror that reminds me what not to do.

It doesn't make you less of an a-hole, but now you've got me feeling sorry for you. I hope that bothers you as much as I think it does.

Viking said...

"Telcos could monetize the system by charging a nominal fee during non-emergencies. There are countless times I've wished for text communication while away from home cell coverage. "

"Sagan that's why I suggested a very restricted system. Just text passing and just when the phone does not detect a working cell tower. That restriction plus allowing the cellcos to charge for such passed texts should make it less noxious and more bearable for the companies. And just that much capability would triple our national resilience."

You guys are rolling over. There is a saying by a French dude: every people get the politicians they deserve. The 21st century version goes: every people get the phone companies they deserve.

It is our freaking phones!!! Just like it's my money, my paycheck doesn't belong to society, a tax cut is not an "expenditure".

This idea that the phone company has the right to bilk us for all ways of communicating is ludicrous. The way to get Dr. Brin's peer to peer radio is not by bribing the phone company. It is by punishing anti competitive behavior. But that might involve delayed gratification, so it is a non starter for most liberals.

I am back from camping, having reread "Foundation's Triumph". Very interesting in light my current awareness of our hosts ongoing reminders about the evils of aristocracy.

David Brin said...

Locumranch, we can appreciate your being heartfelt and honest with us. Indeed, - and while it may sound self-serving and patronizing, it this case it seems also apropos to ask... have you checked your chemical balances?

So much or the current wave of paranoia, indignation, depression and general grouchiness (all of them deeply addictive mental states, proved to trigger reinforcing endorphin releases) appears to be rooted in such things. And while we need to be warned against the conformity-inducing euphorias of BRAVE NEW WORLD, dysphoria and anhedonia have nothing to recommend themselves, as alternatives.

While you may be superior in accomplishment to the human or even American average... you do see that the cult has parceled out all of the groups who are inarguably superior to YOU, and classifies them as morally inferior enemies, to be despised... and you don't find that suspicious? Just a little flattering-pleasing-convenient?

No, what is worst is the ingratitude. You are the recipient of so much more than you ever earned. The rest of us here (mostly) are pretty darned smart and accomplished. But our biggest saving grace is that we notice how lucky we are.

(Guys, notice how I treat him, when he tries? Use this.)

donzelion said...

Duncan: I don't think I responded to this earlier, though I meant to -

"We won't get a 100% easy differentiation between [that which is treatable and that which extends suffering]...But in a lot of cases the difference is quite clear"

Agreed; I believe it's the 1% (maybe more like 10%) where it's not quite clear, and more often, where the costs aren't quite clear that makes for difficult policies and painful choices. If there were one place we don't want experts making the choices for us, it would be this one. But if there were one area where experts could easily dictate choices to us without our knowledge on the most life/death decision we will ever make...it would be this one.

And worst of all: if we don't try to use experts well when setting the rules into place and making these decisions, other factors WILL decide on our behalf - accidents of fortune (or rather, who has a fortune and who does not), most often. Were we to follow nature's laws here, life expectancy would likely be far shorter. Were we to follow market's laws unfiltered by our best efforts, life expectancy would be shorter for most people...

"Unlimited healthcare" is like clean water or fresh air - you simply don’t use more because it’s free!"
Not entirely certain I agree. But again, how and what is used really depends on how the system operates. The last I'd heard, French doctors prescribe ADHD treatment drugs about 25% as often as their American counterparts - it's not that French people have ADHD 25% as often, nor is it that the drugs are 'rationed out.' Rather, the system frowns upon diagnoses and prescriptions without fairly extensive behavioral interventions first; we have a far shorter history of including mental health drugs in all policies (basically, we've only done it universally since the Affordable Care Act).

"You use what you need - using MORE healthcare is like going to the dentist for pleasure - some people may do that but NOT me!"
I point out mental health because 'need' can be a difficult thing to assess, and that's an area where the problems become quite stark. Don't think I'm actually disagreeing with you though - based on anecdotes (and a few areas of pharms where I know a thing or two), 'free' health care systems appear to be abused less than the world's most 'expensive' health care system, but abuse does happen (my child's runny nose merits an emergency room visit...etc.).

donzelion said...

Alfred: "Aristocrats were not lumped in with thieves centuries ago. Neither were the priests."
LOL, not entirely sure I agree with that either... More like, if all men are inherently evil sinners, some do as they wish, and pay the pardoner for their sins - while others...

"Today's parasite was yesterday's community leader."
Possibly, as a parasite may appear to be something other than what it is. Not everyone who breaks their oaths is a lying, nasty fraudster looking to suck wealth from other people. But some are. Narcissists have often learned to exploit the illusion of compliance with social norms to achieve personal ambitions - occasionally, such folks even become 'leaders.'

"We've evolved to deal with parasites to some degree, thus removing them has serious consequences."
We've evolved to deal with parasites, yes, but not to BE parasites (although Agent Smith of the Matrix might say otherwise).

Paul SB said...

Donzelion,

This has been brought up here before:

"French doctors prescribe ADHD treatment drugs about 25% as often as their American counterparts - it's not that French people have ADHD 25% as often, nor is it that the drugs are 'rationed out.' Rather, the system frowns upon diagnoses and prescriptions without fairly extensive behavioral interventions first..."

There is a cultural side to this problem - which is to say, superstructural. The European people I have know have given me the impression that shame is at least a little bit less of a driver of life there than it is here. As a general rule, Americans seem to be much more concerned about passing blame (and firing people) than they are about actually solving problems. The numbers of people who have mental disorders is staggering, but no one talks about it because it is seen as the ultimate shame. It's not just that a "crazy" person is the most pitiful and despised creature in the world, but since everyone assumes that mental faculties are mostly genetic, that it is a deep shame to even admit that someone in your family has one. It is even shameful to admit to having a friend who has a mental disorder, as if just by being associated with someone you get some sort of "shame cooties" - as if only crazy people could make friends with a crazy person. I think European people take the need to solve these problems more seriously than the desire to deny them. Here we want to make the problem go away as fast as possible, and erroneously assume that popping a pill is going to do that. Then we can get back to our comfortable denial.

But if I am wrong in how I've characterized people from Europe, I would be glad to have them chime in.

Paul SB said...

A thought on resilience - why do we build homes out of wood in floodplains and hurricane zones? And then after the flood or the storm surge destroys our homes, we replace them with - guess what? - new homes made out of wood. This makes sense? Yet I never hear anyone bring this up after a disaster involving water, as if we can hardly conceive of having a home made of sturdier materials, less vulnerable to water damage and growing toxic molds. Not exactly high-tech, though, and technology is sexy...

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

Exactly what is he trying? He has done this before, and as I have noted before, his playbook of rhetorical techniques is well worn by aggressive and highly competitive religious proselytes. This looks very much like the sympathy ploy, which he can then use to drive a wedge between people and issues. But notice how he can't even do this without coming across as stuck up. I saw plenty of that, too, in the old days before I escaped. he attempted to "uplift" his species? I'm sure you can imagine what he would consider "uplifting." And the use of this term is obvious flattery.

Catfish N. Cod said...

locum.... brother. Fellow human. I don't know how to express my empathy in an effective way. My instinct (though retarded by respect for personal space and the digital medium of our discourse) is to give you a big bear hug. I honor your openness, your honesty, and the experiences that have led you to such pain.

You don't have to feel that uplift is a personal duty, much less a personal failure. It is so much larger than any of us, even Dr. Brin with his larger megaphone. We advance grindingly slow, with the speed of drifting continents. One often has to study deep history across thousands of years to see it at all, and the anthropology of a hundred thousand years to really appreciate it. In day to day conversations and actions, it's frequently imperceptible. A million steps forward; a million less one back.

But it's there. So hard to see in one's daily life, but millimeter by halting millimeter, we get better. We adapt and improve.

"We are born broken, and live by mending."

And if the fight has been too much for you, rest from it! Your advice is valuable. I know that seems incredible, so hard and so often have we pushed against your arguments. But it was never the admonishments of caution, of knowing that limits exist somewhere, of the laws of unintended consequence and the destination of the road of good intentions. I only wish your criticism were more constructive.

What we stand against is the despair. Not just melancholy, but the insistence that "all is vanity" means inaction is the only appropriate response. All it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing. Not all actions are appropriate. But inaction, we feel, is even more inappropriate. Evolution alone is too slow to help those we care about. And we live in an age of wonders... perhaps, though grindingly hard, perhaps even a hint of salvation.

I pray -- no, I beg -- that you not take these words and turn them to further acid in your heart. Do not feel anguish if people say that they care. Because underneath all the anger engendered, there is empathy. I know so many past and present neighbors who feel similar feelings, think similar thoughts.

And as hard as I know it sometimes is in the medical profession, which stigmatizes such things -- seek assistance if you find it appropriate: chemical or conversational or both. I know full well that despair is no way to live.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N Cod:

Your advice is valuable. I know that seems incredible, so hard and so often have we pushed against your arguments. But it was never the admonishments of caution, of knowing that limits exist somewhere, of the laws of unintended consequence and the destination of the road of good intentions. I only wish your criticism were more constructive.


I often agree with loc's premises. It's his conclusions/solutions I find bizarre, especially the contortions by which he blames everything he doesn't like on progressives. That's why I think of a stand-up comedian lashing out at his audience for how few of them showed up. He's yelling at exactly the wrong people.

Maybe I read too much in, because I've already gone through this with the Canadian comic book writer/artist Dave Sim. He too considered himself to be a minority of one, who is right while everyone else is wrong. He despised feminism. He claimed that because of that political stance, the comics world largely deserted him, and he lashed out at the only ones he could lash out at--the ones who were reading his words because they hadn't deserted him. He thought marriage and reproduction were terrible choices for a thinking man. In his younger, atheistic days, he wanted sex with every attractive woman he met, and made fun of the monogamous for having too few encounters and paying too dearly for the ones they had. Later, in his religious phase, he made fun of the monogamous for having (one) too many sexual encounters. He intentionally cut himself off from any sort of "temptation" that makes life bearable, and then concluded that life sucks.

Sound familiar?

Jumper said...

https://i.imgur.com/XQX2G8x.jpg
They put the furniture there for safekeeping before the hurricane arrived.

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com, concerning Hillary's book:


She says that she regrets calling half of Trump's supporters "deplorables," but makes the point that they are deplorable. It just wasn't wise saying it out loud.


Heh.

donzelion said...

Paul SB: I hate to be contrarian, though we are on a contrarian's blog after all...

"There is a cultural side to this problem [of medicalizing certain issues that might be handled otherwise, like prescribing drugs as a first line for mental health issues] - which is to say, superstructural."
Agreed.

"Americans seem to be much more concerned about passing blame (and firing people) than they are about actually solving problems."
When it comes to health issues, this is largely because once someone can be blamed for causing it, they may be induced to pay for it. Since our health care costs 2-5x what others do (and for 320 million people, provides no better care), we have strong incentives to blame.

I do not know Europeans are less prone to stigmatize than Americans (have heard anecdotes, but really, this would be hard to measure - and I'm skeptical of most claims of psychological distinctions...skeptical because such claims would need strong, concrete evidence or they would account for everything and thus explain nothing). Rather, most other people with national health systems have weaker financial incentives to allocate blame in order to pay their medical bills.

In America, because 'cost' lurks behind most health issues, 'medicalizing' a problem (e.g., drug addiction) is often seen as WORSE than 'criminalizing' a problem (e.g., lock up the addicts, and anyone who sells to them, and anyone else whose 'weird' behavior appears to show resistance to police or potential threats). Medicalizing a problem invests (primarily) one set of professionals with addressing it - criminalizing it invests a different set of folks (with somewhat lower professional hurdles).

"Here we want to make the problem go away as fast as possible, and erroneously assume that popping a pill is going to do that."
Mental health was irregularly covered in insurance policies before the Affordable Care Act. We've only had 5 years or so (actually, more like 3) where we tried implementing solutions a little like the Europeans (and still, a vastly different superstructure applies). Hence, this is an area of improperly 'medicalizing' a problem (converting behavioral issues to pharmacological solutions) - insurance just didn't cover the other options (some of which are at least as effective, and many of which are far more cost effective).

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dr Brin, Catfish, Paul, thank you very much for your responses.

"But the atoms of the Thunderbird are at relative rest and don't care. They act the same as they would in a peaceful orbit.

Relativity always happens to the other guy."

Not the answer I wanted to see, but definitely the answer I needed to see.

Hi ho, time to do some rewriting. Again, thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart quoted the Hill: "She says that she regrets calling half of Trump's supporters "deplorables," but makes the point that they are deplorable. It just wasn't wise saying it out loud."

Well, she's right. Not that being right is the same as politically correct.

I liked Al Franken's response to Trump's equivocation that there were some good people on both sides in Charlotteville: "If you are marching with Nazis, you are not a good person."

donzelion said...

Paul SB: "A thought on resilience - why do we build homes out of wood in floodplains and hurricane zones? And then after the flood or the storm surge destroys our homes, we replace them with - guess what? - new homes made out of wood."

I believe the answer to that question also answers the question "who is most likely to oppose claims about global warming?" Oil companies (and exporters) are generally comfortable with science - their livelihood depends upon it. But they don't employ that large a segment of Americans...construction is a different story.

I do NOT believe the engineers who build those homes are 'bad engineers' who don't know science. Rather, they like the standards developed by agencies painstakingly 50 years ago, when global warming was hardly a widespread notion - and if federal programs consider changing those standards, a home built for $40k in a flood plain would need to be built for $50k (and sold for $200k instead of $160k)...

"This makes sense?"
It makes sense the same way one buys clothes for $20 that can only be worn a few times before being discarded and replaced (and thus, a total clothing budget doesn't fall even as one shops the 'sales' and buys 'bargains'). Intentional obsolescence. Intentional fragility.

"Yet I never hear anyone bring this up after a disaster involving water, as if we can hardly conceive of having a home made of sturdier materials,"
Some choose to live in trailers; most have few other affordable options. Most neighborhoods fight low income housing tooth and nail, so these zones of poor, weak housing get built where people have weak communities to fight those efforts...like flood plains.

Where things cross the line is in the 'denial/fraud' side of the story: "those scientists are trying to shut down your housing construction job!" "Those immigrants are taking your construction job!"

The high school educated folks who had good paying construction jobs in the bubble years of 2002-2007 remember what they had, and have been taught to pin the blame for no longer having steady employment in that sector on immigrants, on regulators, on Democrats, on anything other than what actually caused it. They want their bubble back (make America great again) - and Obama did not play ball to make that happen (by further embracing outmoded standards and processes).

donzelion said...

Catfish: "What we stand against is the despair. Not just melancholy, but the insistence that "all is vanity" means inaction is the only appropriate response."
Beautifully writ. I'm not entirely sure that 'despair' is the enemy - it too is a natural expression of human emotion, for some of us, one that lingers a lot more than it seems to do for others. Rather, there is the Ecclesiastic despair (an old Solomon, with his bevvy of brides and concubines no longer affording the same pleasure they did when he offered his 'Song of Solomon') - and then there is the cynical despair, which snidely shows up where others are working and intrude and impedes.

"And we live in an age of wonders... perhaps, though grindingly hard, perhaps even a hint of salvation."
The well-meaning critic LOVES the age, the wonders, and seeks only to protect them, to improve upon them.

Then there is the Jonah-style critic - "You folks are all gonna die if you don't repent!" (folks actually repent) Jonah, by himself watching the cities NOT burning: "Darn it, I wanted them all to die!" (a tree miraculously grows over him, giving him shade from the Sun)

Where Locum is concerned...the fact he says/writes what he says/writes HERE - instead of in the limitless forums and echo chambers of like-minded available - with people who are at least as smart as he is, who will chastise him, chide, mock, and 'play' - tells me a bit about his needs, fears, feelings. He is looking to flex his contrarian wings with a group that will actually call him on bullshit. That is probably why many of us come here; we find no similar group of 'friends' at a local bar, church, or other gathering place - so we make do with the free flow of our own strange sort of cyber-Socratic dialogue.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp | It's all a lot easier to track with a 4-D model of what is happening. Velocity is just a rotation if time is a direction, though the rotation uses hyperbolic angles instead of circular ones. Take a stick and throw it at something. How it interacts with the target might depend a bit on how it is rotated when it arrives.

In a 4-D model, your momentum while at spatial rest relative to something else points up the time axis. Since you are always at rest with respect to yourself, you can use that vector to point along your time axis and others can use it to figure out which way you think time flows. When a spaceship moves in one spatial direction at nearly the speed of light, other observers will think the time axis for people on that ship points in essentially the same direction as their motion. The spatial and the temporal directions of motion become essentially the same. At the speed of light they would be precisely the same... if that could be done.

I struggled with special relativity as a student until someone drew the 4-D pictures and showed me geometric algebras for keeping track of it all. It's pretty simple if you have the right tools and the weirdest thing in the world without them. 8)

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Larry Hart quoted the Hill: "She says that she regrets calling half of Trump's supporters "deplorables," but makes the point that they are deplorable. It just wasn't wise saying it out loud."

Well, she's right. Not that being right is the same as politically correct.


When I posted that, it wasn't to disagree with her. :)

I like pointing out that the concept of political correctness--things that are true, but that you are not allowed to say--is alive and well on the right.

It's also interesting that when someone says half of Trump supporters are deplorable, all Trump supporters act as if she personally insulted them. I'm reminded of a bit from Woody Allen's "Play it again, Sam":

Diane Keaton: Did you hear? Another Oakland woman was raped.

Woody Allen: I was nowhere near Oakland!


Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred Differ wrote: "I struggled with special relativity as a student until someone drew the 4-D pictures and showed me geometric algebras for keeping track of it all. It's pretty simple if you have the right tools and the weirdest thing in the world without them. 8) "
I would love to see those 4-D illos. I ground my way through the Lorentz Contractions and all that in college, but I never really got a "feel" for relativistic phenomena.

Jumper said...

Ridding a house of wood is one thing. Getting rid of all the plaster or wallboard is another. Mildew grows okay on plaster or sheetrock, and stone, too, but at least you can pressure wash stone and concrete. It's probably best to not have a floodable home in the first place.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart wrote: "I like pointing out that the concept of political correctness--things that are true, but that you are not allowed to say--is alive and well on the right."

Yeah, only now they call it "virtue signalling". I caused several of them to have major brain eruptions on the Gaurd by observing that when someone accused others of 'virtue signalling' it almost always meant he was about to do a little dirtbag-signalling.

David Brin said...

Some of you express impatience with my patience with locumranch. But I think donzelion nails it: “Where Locum is concerned...the fact he says/writes what he says/writes HERE - instead of in the limitless forums and echo chambers of like-minded available - with people who are at least as smart as he is, who will chastise him, chide, mock, and 'play' - tells me a bit about his needs, fears, feelings. He is looking to flex his contrarian wings with a group that will actually call him on bullshit.”

Guys we all need training in how to minister to grouches. And you can see that I call his bullshit what it is… but will gladly reward cogency moments. And courage.

And remember… this is not a troll. It is a strange and grouchy man expressing pain and anger — (Sometimes via lying strawmen) — but not as a drive-by bomb thrower.

raito said...

Re: Special Theory of Relativity

Einstein's Masterwork: 1915 and the General Theory of Relativity 1st Edition
by John Gribbin is excellent for giving good layperson explanations of a lot of similar material. As well as showing what Einstein was reading and who he was talking to. Good to recommend to people who want to know.

On another topic:
http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/344488-hackers-break-into-voting-machines-in-minutes-at-hacking-competition
leads to:
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/09/11/virginia_to_scrap_touchscreen_voting_machines/
and:
http://www.elections.virginia.gov/Files/Media/Agendas/2017/20170908BWP.pdf

Naturally, Virginia voted Democratic in the last Presidential election.

Jumper said...

Yeah, well, I was about to express some respect for showing a little honesty, but the fiery belch of white-hot volcanic sulfur blew my intention into the ocean.

donzelion said...

"And remember… this is not a troll. It is a strange and grouchy man expressing pain and anger — (Sometimes via lying strawmen) — but not as a drive-by bomb thrower."

Ah, we haven't heard from dear old 'Car Sitter' in months! I'm starting to lose track of the death path we're inevitably marching along. ;-)

A.F. Rey said...

I'm starting to lose track of the death path we're inevitably marching along. ;-)

Have no fear. "For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction..." It's unlikely we'll fall off the path.

We just might miss some of the roadside attractions along the way without Car Sitter to point them out. :)

Steven Hammond said...

I often think that if Locum Ranch did not exist, our host might need to invent him... ;)

I am perplexed as to why he continues to engage here, but the sheer number of posts addressing him in some fashion (as I am now) might explain it.

I had a nice rambling post regarding LR's identification with Kohelet, (the narrator of Ecclesiastes) but deleted it. Catfish and Donzelion caught LR's identification with this character quite well in their usual eloquent, caring (and human way) . I will say that the sad resignation regarding the meaningless of existence that Kohelet presents shouldn't logically be accompanied by the anger and resentment LH seems to have. And yet, I don't think Kohelet has let go of anger and resentment either...

Paul451 said...

Jumper (and PaulSB),
"It's probably best to not have a floodable home in the first place."

I'm surprised the Queenslander (stilt-house) isn't more popular in flood-prone regions in the US.

Build the main house on stilts (height depending on local flood-levels). If the necessary height is sufficient, the ground level is used as a carport, workshop, recreation areas, etc.

It's bizarre to see houses ruined by two or three feet of standing water.

David Brin said...

Paul there are thousands of apartments in LA that perch above stilted garages. They must all now be refitted vs quakes!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dr Brin wrote: "Paul there are thousands of apartments in LA that perch above stilted garages. They must all now be refitted vs quakes!"

In the vast majority of cases, it wasn't even because of flood threats; it was because of space constraints. Land is generally very expensive, parking is necessary, and it's much cheaper to park a car on or under a dwelling than alongside it.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'm still laughing. I'm setting up a Wordpress blog, and came across this option:
Enable proofreading for the following grammar and style rules when writing posts and pages:

Bias Language
Clichés
Complex Phrases
Diacritical Marks
Double Negatives
Hidden Verbs
Jargon
Passive Voice
Phrases to Avoid
Redundant Phrases

Yes, thanks to the miracle of Wordpress, even I can sound literate...

Alfred Differ said...

AI as a fungible utility. Not unlike electricity.
If only it would get here sooner and make us all sound literate. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp | I struggled with classical E&M theory too. My grad school grades in those classes nearly got me tossed out. Turns out both mental blocks are resolved by the same insight. Electric and magnetic fields are two sides of the same coin in a 4-D model and Maxwell's equations reduce to two (or one in a geometric algebra) and are kind of obvious. Obvious in hindsight, of course. After that particular realization, I decided we were teaching physics all wrong and I was deadly serious about that conclusion. The analogies we build upon have VERY poor foundations under them.

The drawings are all sketches my professor drew for us. Class notes. Not even close to being ready for prime time. They worked, though, because he was there in front of us poking us when we got the analogies wrong. Heh. There is nothing like having an experienced mind looking at yours stumble along and then prodding you when you screw up.

I'll look through my notes and see if any of the sketches are presentable.

Jumper said...

I was the pile driver quality checker for a while. I wore earplugs. Educational. It costs a lot to put a foundation on them. More than a fairly large amount of concrete. Plus the ties have to be robust, you can't just stick bolts into the concrete all along the wall footing because there is no concrete wall footing. That expense explains why there aren't more of them. But 8 feet above 100 year surge is probably good for a while anyway.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re building on piles

Here the cheaper way is simply to dig your way down to solid and then backfill with gravel or some sort of hard core and build the ground level up that way
Up to a meter or 1.5m that seems to be a cheap way of doing it

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: That would be lovely. Let me know if you find anything!

Alfred Differ said...

Here in California, we aren't sure what 'solid' is anymore. When I walk along the beach and look at the cliff faces, the quartz inclusions run along bazillions of fractures. Poke the rock hard enough and it crumbles to bits. The house I'm living in sits on a foundation that sits on soil that sits on that stuff if you dig down far enough.

I'm actually in a piece of the Pacific plate I think. It won't be here much longer. Neighboring sections have been scrapped up and either washed back out to sea or deposited on top of the portions to the east. We joke about heading for Alaska, but the turf we are on won't really get there.

However... Wood = cheapest. That's why.
We don't use it for larger office and retail spaces, though.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jumper said...

It's Florida, Duncan. ("Forget it Jake - it's Chinatown.") It's not so easy to bore down to something solid; it's not there.Just saturated sand. Your idea of rammed earth is good but even that must be trucked in. One breach in a container wall and mere gravel would be too loose. But there's this technique from back in my day:
https://www.nps.gov/casa/learn/historyculture/coquina-the-rock-that-saved-st-augustine.htm

David Brin said...

Coulter sneering "what storm? Limbaugh crying "It's all fake!" then "I'm evacuating only cause I was ordered to!" (Wuss.)

Denialists... Dominionists claiming this is Heavenly wrath on America for doing LGBTQ... when it's the Confederacy getting hammered. ...

Is this the time to strike that crazy uncle hard? Not for his sake.... but your quiet aunt who is listening from the next room.

Tony Fisk said...

I was thinking that maybe the Floridans could have offered to strap Rush into a large and comfortable throne facing out to sea and Irma on some Miami beach, where he could bellow "GO BACK".

@alfred I must confess I scuttled sideways when it came to the paradoxes of special relativity.

How does a souped up DeLorean enter a garage measured to be the same size as it is?

According to the garage attendant, the back of the foreshortened vehicle enters the garage before the front exits. Yet, according to Doc and Marty, the bonnet's out long before the boot is in.

It turns out the solution lies in Spock's analysis of Khan's strategies: a brilliant mind, hampered by three dimensional thinking. Each observer is seeing parts of a structure, in another frame, at different times.

reason said...

Paul SB
"It's not just that a "crazy" person is the most pitiful and despised creature in the world, but since everyone assumes that mental faculties are mostly genetic, that it is a deep shame to even admit that someone in your family has one."

Oh come on Donald Trump is President. Being crazy can't really be that much of a stigma.

Tim H. said...

Doesn't look like crazy to other empathy-deficient folk... to whom compassion may seem like a maladaptive trait.

LarryHart said...

Steven Hammond:

I will say that the sad resignation regarding the meaningless of existence that Kohelet presents shouldn't logically be accompanied by the anger and resentment LH seems to have.


I'm not proud of myself when I become angry at individuals I don't really know. I've tried to avoid the problem by ignoring most of his posts lately.

That said, it's not the sad resignation that I take issue with (I actually felt a certain kinship for that latest "betrayed by everyone" post, and seriously thought that there but for a few bad choices could have been me). It's the invective directed at exactly the wrong people and the constant misattribution of people's words on this blog that gets me. For example, somehow my assertion that a citizen calling the fire department for an actual fire is not responsible for those who abuse the system by ordering pizza becomes "Larry_H claims that everyone is special."

That's where the anger originates. I don't believe I'm engaging in resentment. But as a good liberal, I might be wrong about that.

Steven Hammond said...

@ LarryHart

I actually meant to write "LR" (Locum Ranch) and not LH.. So sorry. I really hadn't seen any sad, nihilistic resignation on your part on the order of that Locum Ranch expresses, nor the resentful anger.

My apologies for the typo!

LarryHart said...

@Steve Hammond,

Actually, from now on, whenever loc types something about me, I'll assume he made a typo and meant his own name instead. His posts will make more sense that way.

donzelion said...

Jumper: "It costs a lot to put a foundation on...But 8 feet above 100 year surge is probably good for a while anyway."

If I recall correctly, the Obama era specification, which Trump scrapped in August, mandated 24 inches above a 100 year surge before any federal funding would be allocated to rebuild/repair (increased from 18 inches), though I'm not confident on any of those numbers. I had heard that such a new spec might add $3000-$6000 or more for a mid-sized private residence depending on where it was, soil conditions, etc. - which could translate to $20k - $40k extra for the house when sold.

Do those numbers sound reasonable to you as a finger-in-the-wind estimates? Not as nationwide averages, mind, or anything 'concrete' like that (weak pun)...

A change in such a specification could have hit current owners hard, especially owners of multi-family units (condos and apartments)...risks on new properties that they insured against and planned, specced for development in the next 1-5 years would become uninsurable...hence, those developers would scream against 'global warming' (esp. outside urban areas).

Paul SB said...

Reason,

I think Tim covered this one pretty well. To people whose assumption set is that all people who are not member son their social club are crooks, Donald Grope is exactly their kind of crook. It's pure projection on their part, while reasonable people see the obvious lunacy.

Paul SB said...

Donzelion,

Coming from a (former) European:
To be frank, it sometimes seems that the American idea of freedom has more to do with my freedom to do what I want than your freedom to do what you want. I think that, in Europe, we're probably better at understanding how to balance those competing claims, though not a lot.

- Douglas Adams

Don’t dismiss the role of culture and collective expectation so easily. While what you note about financial incentives is true, it took a certain mentality, a certain set of standards, to create systems where the financial incentives work against a culture of shame and blame. And this goes way beyond the medical realm. Business leaders et downright gleeful when they can fire someone, often to take the fall for their own mistakes, and the threat is always looming. Why fix a problem when you can fire someone and pretend that it makes the problem magically vanish?

And you are right that mental health coverage was much more spotty before the ACA, but the problem of doctors giving out Prozac like it was candy was being noted way back in the ‘80s.

Paul SB said...

Donzelion, con't

It sounds like you are in agreement with the Samuel Vimes School of Economics. But I think there is more to it than just that wood is cheap and engineers don’t want to change their building standards. Even the rich often live in mansions made of wood (and plaster, to acknowledge Jumper here - plaster which disintegrates in water, but is easier to work with than stone where it comes to wiring). It’s more that we see wooden homes everywhere, so our brains assume that this is “normal” - and nearly everyone desperately wants to be “normal.” There’s a bit of a mental block to overcome.

Paul SB said...

Regarding our faux rancher, I’m sorry but I am going to have to be contrary. Catfish, Donzelion & Larry are all showing the kind of compassion and understanding that put them on the other side of the bridge from that person. It is to their credit, as well as Alfred’s efforts at exposing his lack of logic. But this has been going on for some time, and he may once in a year or two feign gratitude, it never takes long for him to go back to hurling invective and spitting vitriol at everyone (except for the Sapling). he has shown himself incapable of human decency, and incapable of even pretending to have it for more than a few minutes per year.

Larry asks why he keeps coming back here, and our host suggests that this is some kind quality. I find this ironic, given his frequent use of the term “indignation junkie” which he illustrated so well in his novel “Existence.” Locum could spend all his time in an echo chamber, where he would be one of many fish swimming in a large pond. Or he can come to this much smaller pond, and, like Milton, be a disproportionately large fish. Count how many posts in any given thread are devoting to debunking everything he says. Every playground bully dreams of getting this much attention, make this many people angry.

Which pond is going to give him the greater pay-out in terms of dopamine coursing through his nucleus accumbens?

Larry, as far as his constant blaming of the victims, and the amazing mental acrobatics he has to go through to distort his picture of reality to make the victims seem to be the perpetrators, that’s not so hard to understand. He simply has chosen sides. I finally found a web site that gives a fairly clear explanation of Evans-Pritchard’s idea of Segmentary Opposition, which is a science nerd’s way of saying that sides exist to oppose each other. The conflict is the point itself.

http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/anthropology/courses/122/module6/seg_opp.html

My daughter did a cartoon once to explain this, using sports fans in a London pub to get the idea across. Either way, the point is that he can never be convinced that the people he calls his friends are anything less than saintly, while all the rest of us are repulsive, wrong, evil and stupid. That’s all there is to it.

Jumper said...

Maybe they should just start building massive pyramids by the seashore and outdo Giza, with penthouses and smaller units up the sides far above the sea.

I really am in no position to even estimate costs of bringing in via dump truck say 10 yards of suitable fill (about a 2oth of a project which would at least marginally improve a small lot) for Miami environs. I could call someone, or try the internet to get prices. Otherwise I'd be making stuff up.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Anonymous said...

"American conservatism use to have intellects like Goldwater and Buckley"

Yes, and what happened? Technologies have eroded the dignity of the past-- the Faustian bargain is we get STUFF instead. Anything you want except for dignity. BTW, DR. Brin, if you'd read George Will carefully you'd see he is better than you think; an updated version of Buckley and Goldwater. Not as good as them but again, such is part of the bargain.