Tag Archives: twitter

The battle must begin at state level

There are vital issues that get shunted aside in the ongoing public obsession over Trump’s latest tweetstorm. In The Case for Paying Less Attention to Donald Trump, Ed Burmila, in Rolling Stone, makes a cogent point that we should pay less attention to our current president — and more to what the confederacy is doing to our fellow citizens, down at the state level, where the GOP’s lock on more than thirty out of fifty statehouses and 65 out of 98 state legislature chambers, has set them to work doing no less than re-establishing feudalism.

LESS“Donald Trump’s presidency has been a disaster, but he has succeeded beyond his wildest expectations in one key way: getting attention – attention that fills the void where the rest of us have a soul…. (But fighting back) begins with winning back the state legislatures that draw electoral maps and make the rules that shape elections,” writes Ed Burmila.

In other words, this is no time for timid appetites. The goal should not be to shift twenty-five swing Congressional seats, but 125! And that will be a hollow victory without a thousand State Assembly wins.

These state races are the most important battlegrounds for now.

This coalesces three themes that I’ve pushed for some time.

impeach-trump1: Don’t seek to impeach Trump! Not yet. Our civil servants are now fully alerted to the insanity and they should be able to protect us, for the time being. For now, Trump is the Republicans’ nightmare. Impeach, and the confederates will just rally behind a President Pence and march with savage discipline. See this explored in more detail in my essay, The Move to Impeach Trump is a Trap.

2: Gerrymandering (one of the most horrific betrayals of citizen sovereignty) and other electoral cheats — such as voter suppression — are central. These plagues upon our electoral system have metastacized till even Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts cannot ignore them, anymore. (Or else they are simply not Americans.) But we need clever and strong backup plans, explored further in Gerrymandering & American Democracy.

3: Retaking many of those states will not be done by running Santa Monica liberals in deep red districts. Go ahead and run liberals and Bernites etc in swing constituencies. But in districts that are deeply conservative by personality, we need candidates who are pro-science, pro-rights, honest, logically fact-loving and un-bigoted… but who can also relate to locals… by personality.

Elsewhere, in a 3-part series, I talk about the richest possible source of such candidates, military colonels and captains. Men and women of rectitude who can compel even the reddest voter to actually listen to a democrat, possibly for the first time in his or her life.

See also 314 Action, which seeks to advocate for a pro-science and fact-based agenda in public policy — and also to encourage scientifically and technically trained men and women to run for office.

crowdpacBack to the article by Burmila… the point relates to how YOU should allocate your political time and energy. Yes, national issues matter! Give money to the fight against gerrymandering, and Schwarzenegger will match your contribution in this  campaign on Crowdpac: This is our chance to make gerrymandering unconstitutional. 

Furthermore, Burmila adds:

“The payoff of being politically active simply is greater in down-ballot races. House and Senate races are of course important, but the marginal benefit of adding one more volunteer to those campaigns is small compared to what an activist can contribute to a local race. Throwing your donation and evening volunteering hours into the miasma of money and noise that is a modern congressional race is like spitting into the ocean. In a local race, the time and money you can donate will be much more impactful. Knocking on doors and speaking to a few hundred voters on behalf of an unknown candidate in a state assembly primary could make a real difference.”

This is where you can make a difference — at your local and state level.

Give the rest of it a read. Then give some thought about that retired officer you know, who happens to live in a red district. It’s arm twisting time.

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Filed under politics, public policy

Science Fiction Authors on Twitter

A sampling of Science Fiction – or Speculative Fiction — authors on Twitter, many with interesting things to say about books, the craft of writing, SF news, as well as science and the future. In alphabetic order (compiled by Anonymous), the brief descriptions and selected works don’t begin to do justice to these fantastic authors. Yes, the list veers toward the SF end of SFF, with emphasis on writers of novels, rather than short stories. Apologies for the those who have been inadvertently left off. And many well-known authors, Connie Willis or Kim Stanley Robinson, don’t have accounts (probably because they’re busy writing)…

Daniel Abraham, Best-selling author and producer, half of the James S.A. Corey team (The Expanse, Leviathan Wakes) @AbrahamHanover

John Joseph Adams, editor of Science Fiction anthologies (Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Brave New Worlds) @JohnJosephAdams

Saladin Ahmed, Locus Award winning author (Throne of the Crescent Moon, Engraved on the Eye) @saladinahmed

SCIENCE-FICTION-AUTHORS-TWITTERBuzz Aldrin, Astronaut, Lunar Module pilot and moonwalker, as well as a SF author, collaborating with John Barnes (Encounter with Tiber, The Return) @TheRealBuzz

Charlie Jane Anders, Founding editor of io9, short story writer and Science Fiction author (All the Birds in the Sky) @charliejane

Lou Anders, Science Fiction author and Hugo Award winning editor (Frostborn, Nightborn) @LouAnders

Kevin J. Anderson, Best-selling Science Fiction author (The Sisterhood of Dune, Hellhole)   @TheKJA

Lou Aronica, Science Fiction author, editor and publisher (Blue, Differential Equations) @laronica

Catherine Asaro, Nebula Award winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author (Saga of the Skolian Empire, The Quantum Rose)   @Catherine_Asaro

Madeline Ashby, Science Fiction author and consultant (Company Town, iD) @MadelineAshby

Neal Asher, English Science Fiction author (The Departure, Zero Point)  @nealasher

Margaret E. Atwood, Booker Prize, Arthur C. Clarke Award winning author and poet (The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake) @MargaretAtwood

Paolo Bacigalupi, Locus, Hugo and Nebula Award wining Science Fiction author (The Windup Girl, The Water Knife)  @paolobacigalupi

John Barnes, Science Fiction and YA author  (Tales of the Madman Underground, Meeting Infinity) @JohnBarnesSF

Steven Barnes, Science Fiction author and frequent collaborator with Niven and Pournelle (Beowulf’s Children, Lion’s Blood) @StevenBarnes1

Elizabeth Bear, Hugo and John W. Campbell Award winning Science Fiction author  (Hammered, Blood and Iron) @matociquala

Greg Bear, Nebula, Locus and Hugo Award winning Science Fiction author (Darwin’s Radio, Queen of Angels) @greg_bear

Chris Beckett, Arthur C. Clarke Award winning Science fiction author (Dark Eden, The Holy Machine) @chriszbeckett

Lauren Beukes, South African SF author, comics writer and journalist (Broken Monsters, The Shining Girls) @laurenbeukes

Ben Bova, Six time winner of the Hugo Award;  Science Fiction and non-fiction author and Editor (Grand Tour series, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame)  @BenBova

David Brin, Hugo, Nebula, Locus and Campbell Award winning Science Fiction author (Startide Rising, The Postman)  @davidbrin

Tobias S. Buckell, Science Fiction author (Sly Mongoose, Halo: The Cole Protocol) @tobiasbuckell

Emma Bull, Science Fiction and Fantasy author (Falcon, Bone Dance) @coffeeem

Monica Byrne, Upcoming Science Fiction author and playwright (The Girl in the Road) @monicabyrne13

Pat Cadigan, Arthur C. Clarke Award winning Science Fiction author (Synners, Fools)  @Cadigan

Christian Cantrell, Software developer and Science Fiction author (Containment, Equinox) @cantrell

Orson Scott Card, Hugo and Nebula Award wining Science Fiction author (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead) @orsonscottcard

Jeff Carlson, Science Fiction and thriller author (Plague Year, Plague War)  @authorjcarlson

Adam-Troy Castro, Science Fiction, Fantasy and YA author (Tangled Strings, Emissaries from the Dead) @adamtroycastro

Becky Chambers Science Fiction author (The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A Closed & Common Orbit) @beckysaysawr

C.J. Cherryh, Hugo and Locus Award winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author (Cyteen, The Pride of Chanur) account no longer exists

Wesley Chu, John W. Campbell Award winning Science Fiction author (Time Salvager, Time Siege) @wes_chu

Liu Cixin , Chinese Science Fiction author, winner of the Hugo Award and the Galaxy Award (The Three Body Problem, The Dark Forest) @liu_cixin

Ernest Cline, Best-selling author and screenwriter (Ready Player One, Armada) @erniecline

Peter Clines, Science Fiction and horror author (The Fold, 14) @PeterClines

August Cole, Senior Fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center, director of The Art of the Future  (Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, War Stories from the Future (ed.)) @august_cole

Eoin Colfer, Young adult Science Fiction and Fantasy author (Artemis Fowl, The Supernatualist)   @eoincolfer

Brenda Cooper, Science Fiction author (The Silver Ship and the Sea, Wings of Creation)   @brendacooper

James S.A. Corey, New York Times best-selling pseudonym (The Expanse, Nemesis Games) @JamesSACorey

Paul Cornell, Award-winning author and screenwriter for Doctor Who (The Severed Streets, Who Killed Sherlock Holmes) @Paul_Cornell

Bruce Coville, author of Young Adult fiction (My Teacher Is An Alien, Aliens Ate My Homework) @brucecoville

Katherine Cramer, Science Fiction author and editor (The Hard SF Renaissance, The Year’s Best SF Series) @KathrynECramer

Justin Cronin, New York Times best-selling author, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award (The Passage, The Twelve) @jccronin

Julie Czernada, Science Fiction and Fantasy author and editor (This Gulf of Time and Stars, No Place Like Home) @julieczernada

Jack Dann Award-winning Science Fiction and Historical fiction author (The Memory Cathedral, The Silent) @jackmdann

Ellen Datlow, Hugo Award winning Science Fiction and Horror editor (The Best Horror of the Year, Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror)  @EllenDatlow

Aliette de Bodard, Software engineer, Nebula and Locus Award winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author (House of Shattered Wings, In Morningstar’s Shadow) @aliettedb

Charles de Lint, Fantasy and Horror author (The Onion Girl, Widdershins)  @cdelint

Cory Doctorow, John W. Campbell and Locus Award winning Science Fiction author (Little Brother, Makers)   @doctorow

Diane Duane, Young adult and Science Fiction and Fantasy author (So You Want to Be a Wizard, Wizard’s Dilemma, plus many Star Trek novels) @dduane

Tananarive Due, Science Fiction, fantasy and mystery author, screenwriter and producer (Ghost Summer, The Lake ) @TananariveDue

Scott Edelman, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror author and editor (What Will Come After, What We Still Talk About)  @scottedelman

Kate Elliott, Fantasy and Science Fiction author (The Crown of Stars, Cold Steel) @KateElliottSFF

Eric Flint, Science Fiction author and editor. Writer of alternate histories. (1632, 1636: The Saxon Uprising)  @EricFlint

Gregory Frost, Fantasy and Science Fiction (Lyrec, Shadowbridge)  @gregory_frost

Neil Gaiman, Locus, Hugo and Nebula Award winning Science Fiction Author (American Gods, Coraline). Also Graphic Novels (The Sandman)  @neilhimself

Charles E. Gannon, Professor and Best-selling and Nebula nominated author (Fire with Fire, Raising Caine) @cegannon1

David Gerrold, Hugo and Nebula Award winning Science Fiction author and screenwriter (The Man Who Folded Himself, The Martian Child) @DavidGerrold

William Gibson, Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Award winning Science Fiction and Cyberpunk author (Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive)  @GreatDismal

Max Gladstone, Science Fiction/Fantasy author (Full Fathom Five, Last First Snow) @maxgladstone

Kathleen Goonan, John W. Campbell Award winning Science Fiction author (In War Times, This Shared Dream) @KathleenGoonan

Steven Gould, New York Times best-selling Science Fiction author and short story writer (Jumper, Reflex) @StevenGould

Daryl Gregory, Science Fiction and Fantasy author (Afterparty, Harrison Squared) @darylwriterguy

Nicola Griffith, Nebula and James Tiptree Award winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author and editor (Ammonite, With Her Body)  @nicolaz

Lev Grossman, John W. Campbell Award winning Fantasy and Young Adult author (The Magicians, The Magician King)  @leverus

Eileen Gunn, Nebula Award winning Science Fiction author and editor (Stable Strategies and Others, The Wiscon Chronicles) @eileen_gunn

Elizabeth Hand, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author (Walking the Moon, Winterlong) @Liz_Hand

William Hertling, Science Fiction author (Avogadro Corp., A.I. Apocalypse) @hertling

Nancy Holder, Bram Stoker Award wining Science Fiction and Horror Author (Pretty Little Devils, Wicked: Revelation), as well as works in the Buffyverse  @nancyholder

Nalo Hopkinson, Aurora and Locus Award winning Fantasy and Science Fiction author (The New Moon’s Arms, So Long Been Dreaming)  @nalohopkinson

Jason M. Hough, Best-selling author (The Darwin Elevator, Zero World) @JasonMHough

Hugh Howey, Best-selling Science Fiction author (Wool, Sand) @hughhowey

N.K. Jemison, Locus Award winning author, Hugo nominee and short story writer  (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Killing Moon) @nkjemisin

Guy Gavriel Kay, Canadian author, poet, and producer (River of Stars, Children of Earth and Sky) @guygavrielkay

Kay Kenyon, Science Fiction and Fantasy author (Maximum Ice, The Braided World)  @KayKenyon

T. Jackson King, Science Fiction Author and reporter (Stellar Assassin, Escape from Aliens) @TJacksonKing

Dani Kollin, Prometheus Award winning Science Fiction author, with brother Eytan Kollin (The Unincorporated Man, The Unincorporated Woman) @dkollin

Ted Kosmatka, Science Fiction writer (The Flicker Men, The Games) @TKosmatka

Mary Robinette Kowal, John W. Campbell Award winning Author and puppeteer (Shades of Milk and Honey, Forest of Memory) @MaryRobinette

Nancy Kress, Hugo and Nebula Award winning Science Fiction author (Beggars in Spain, Probability Space) @nancykress

Mur Lafferty, Campbell Award and Parsec winning author and podcaster  (Six Wakes, Playing for Keeps) @mightymur

Margo Lanagan, World Fantasy Award winning author (Yellowcake, Tender Morsels ) @margolanagan

Ann Leckie, Hugo and Nebula Award winning author (Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Mercy) @ann_leckie

Ursula K. Le Guin,  Booker Prize, Hugo, Nebula, Locus Award winning science fiction and fantasy author (The Left Hand of Darkness, Lavinia) @ursulaleguin

Paul Levinson, Locus Award winning Science Fiction author (Silk Code, The Plot to Save Socrates) @PaulLev

Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Science Fiction author (Hero, To Kiss or To Kill) @JLichtenberg

Ken Liu, Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy award winning author and translator (Grace of Kings, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories) @kyliu99

Ian McDonald, British Science Fiction author , winner of the Hugo, Locus, Philip K. Dick and John W. Campbell awards (Luna: New Moon, The Dervish House) @ianmcdonald

Seanan McGuire, John W. Campbell Award winning science fiction author, who also writes under the name Mira Grant (Feed, Symbiont)  @seananmcguire

Maureen McHugh, Hugo, Locus and James Tiptree Jr. Award winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author (China Mountain Zhang, Half the Day is Night) @maureenmcq

Will McIntosh, Hugo Award winning Science Fiction and YA author (Burning Midnight, Soft Apocalypse) @WillMcIntoshSF

Vonda N. McIntyre, Hugo and Nebula Award winning Science Fiction author (Dreamsnake, The Moon and the Sun), also many novels in the Star Trek Universe @vondanmcintyre

Ken MacLeod, Scottish Science Fiction author (The Stone Canal, The Sky Road)  @amendlocke

George R. R. Martin, Best-selling Hugo and Nebula Award winning Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror author (Game of Thrones, A Dance with Dragons) @GeorgeRRMartin

Elizabeth Moon, Nebula and Robert A. Heinlein Award winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author (The Speed of Dark, Kings of the North) @emoontx

Richard K. Morgan, Science Fiction and Fantasy novelist (Altered Carbon, Thirteen) @quellist1

James Morrow, Award winning Science Fiction author (Towing Jehovah, Galapagos Regained( @jimmorrow11

Ramez Naam, Tehnologist, public speaker and author  of nonfiction as well as Philip K. Dick and Prometheus Award winning Science Fiction (Nexus, Apex, Crux) @ramez

Linda Nagata, Nebula and Locus Award winning Science Fiction author  (Vast, Memory)  @LindaNagata

Annalee Newitz, founder of io9, tech editor at Ars Technica, non-fiction author (Scatter, Adapt and Remember) @Annaleen

Emma Newman, Author of urban fantasy and science fiction (Planetfall, After Atlas) @EmApocalyptic

Garth Nix, Australian fantasy and YA novelist (Shade’s Children, To Hold the Bridge) @garthnix

Naomi Novik, Hugo and John W. Campbell Award winning author of alternate history (Crucible of Gold, Tongues of Serpents) @naominovik

Nnedi Okorafor, Professor of creative writing and Hugo Award winning author (The Book of Phoenix, Lagoon) @Nnedi

Daniel José Older, Author of urban fantasy and young adult novels (Shadowshaper, Bone Street Rumba) @djolder

Malka Older, Science Fiction and thriller author (Infomocracy, Null States) @m_older

Peter Orullian, writer of epic fantasy (Trial of Intentions, The Unremembered) @PeterOrullian

Eliot Peper, writer of science fiction thrillers (Cumulus, Neon Fever Dream) @eliotpeper

Gareth L. Powell, Winner of the BSFA Award for best novel (Ack-Ack Macaque, The Recollection) @garethlpowell

Sir Terry Pratchett may be the greatest writer of fantasy and comedy, winner of the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, now deceased (The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic) @terryandrob

Tim Pratt, Hugo Award winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author (Spell Games, Dead Reign)   @timpratt

Cherie Priest, Locus Award winning Science Fiction and Horror author (Boneshaker, Fatham)   @cmpriest

Hannu Rajaniemi, Locus and John W. Campbell Award winning Science Fiction author and mathematician (The Fractal Prince, The Causal Angel) @hannu

Cat Rambo, Fantasy and Science Fiction author and editor (Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight)  @catrambo

Marguerite Reed, Philip K. Dick Special Citation award winning author  (Archangel) @MargueriteReed9

Mike Resnick, Multiple Hugo and Locus Award winning Science Fiction author (Starship: Mutiny, Santiago)  @ResnickMike

Alastair Reynolds, Former ESA scientist, Science Fiction author (The Medusa Chronicles, Blue Remembered Earth) @AquilaRift

Rudy Rucker, Philip K. Dick Award winning Science Fiction author and mathematician (Software, Realware)  @rudytheelder

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Hugo Award winning Science Fiction and Fantasy author and editor (Hitler’s Angel, Totally Spellbound) , as well as works in the Star Trek universe @KristineRusch

Geoff Ryman, Professor of writing, author of Science Fiction, fantasy and historic novels (Was, The Unconquered Country) @geoffryman

Brandon Sanderson, Science Fiction,  fantasy and  author (Calamity, Firefight) @BrandSanderson

Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell  Award winning Science Fiction author (Rollback, Flashforward) @RobertJSawyer

John Scalzi, John W. Campbell and Hugo Award winning author (Fuzzy Nation, Old Man’s War)   @scalzi

Lawrence M. Schoen, Award-winning author (Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard, Buffalito Destiny) @klingonguy

Karl Schroeder, Aurora Award winning Science Fiction author (Permanence, The Sunless Countries)  @KarlSchroeder

Scott Sigler, Parsec Award winning Science Fiction and Horror author (Infected, Contagious)  @scottsigler

Dean Wesley Smith, Science Fiction author (Laying the Music to Rest, The Hunted) @DeanWesleySmith

Michael Stackpole, Science Fiction and Fantasy author and Game Designer (I, Jedi, Evil Trimphant) @MikeStackpole

Bruce Sterling, Hugo and Campbell Award winning Science Fiction and Cyberpunk author (Distraction, The Caryatids) @bruces

Neal Stephenson, Hugo, Locus and Prometheus Award winning Science Fiction author (Quicksilver, The Diamond Age) @nealstephenson

Charles Stross, Locus and Hugo Award winning Science Fiction author (Halting State, Rule 34) @cstross

Rachel Swirsky, Nebula Award winning short story writer (How the World Became Quiet, A Memory of Wind)  @rachelswirsky

Lavie Tidhar , Seiun Award and World Fantasy Award winning author (Central Station, A Man Lies Dreaming) @lavietidhar

Ian Tregillis, Physicist and Science Fiction author (The Rising, The Mechanical) @ITregillis

Hayden Trenholm, Science Fiction and mystery writer ( Blood & Water, Strangers Among Us) @HaydenTrenholm

Catherynne Valente, James Tiptree, Andre Norton award winning SF and Fantasy author (Fairyland, Radiance) @catvalente

Jeff VanderMeer, Fantasy and Science Fiction author (Finch, City of Saints and Madmen) @jeffvandermeer

Andy Weir, Best-selling Science Fiction author (The Martian) @andyweirauthor

Scott Westerfeld, Young adult and Science Fiction author (Leviathon, Uglies)  @ScottWesterfeld

Fran Wilde, Andre Norton Award winning Science fiction and fantasy author (Updraft, Cloudbound) @fran_wilde

Daniel H. Wilson, Roboticist and New York Times best-selling author (Robopocalypse, Robogenesis) @danielwilsonpdx

G. Willow Wilson, World Fantasy Award winning and Graphic Novel author (Alif the Unseen, The Butterfly Mosque) @GWillowWilson

Gary K.Wolfe, Science Fiction editor and critic @garykwolfe

Alyssa Wong, Nebula Award winning author of science fiction and horror (A Fist of Permutations and Wildflowers ) @crashwong

Charles Yu, Science Fiction novelist and short story writer (How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Third Class Superhero) @charles_yu

 

Other Science Fiction sites:

SFX Magazine, Sci Fi and Fantasy Magazine  @SFXmagazine

StarShipSofa Podcast of Science Fiction stories @StarShipSofa

Locus Magazine, Science Fiction and Fantasy News @LocusChat

SF Signal, a Science Fiction blog @sfsignal

The Hugo Awards, News on the Hugos @TheHugoAwards

io9, Commentary and updates on Science, Science Fiction and Media @io9

SFWA Authors, Blog posts from members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America   @SFWAauthors

Clarkesworld, Online Science Fiction Magazine @clarkesworld

Tor Books, Science Fiction and Fantasy News @torbooks

Baen Books, Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing @BaenBooks

Ace Science Fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing @AceRocBooks

Museum of Science Fiction, to open in Washington DC @Museum_SciFi

Hollywood Science Fiction Museum, to open in Hollywood, @hollywoodscifi

Fantasy Faction, Fantasy Book Reviews @FantasyFaction

B&N SF & F, Barnes & Noble Science Fiction & Fantasy @BNSciFi

SF Encyclopedia, Updates from the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction @SFEncyclopedia

SF Editor’s Picks, editor’s Science Fiction recommendations @SFEditorsPicks

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Filed under books, fiction, literature, novels, science fiction, writing

Galactic Self-Reproducing Probes? (Plus tweet-ready miscellany!)

HideBigBrotherCropFirst a note: my op-editorial, If You Can’t Hide From Big Brother, Adapt was syndicated around the world in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune and a longer version, Snooping vs. Privacy: Lessons for an Age of Transparency in the Christian Science Monitor, among other venues, offering a little wisdom about the value of calm pragmatism in the defense of liberty and safety in the Information Age.

Oh, and regarding a matter that’s “completely different”: In The Immortality Debate“Decision theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky, biologist PZ Myers, author David Brin and moderator Eneasz Brodski discuss the potential pitfalls and implications of human immortality – both biological and socio-political. Disagreement on the desirability of indefinite lifespans leads to a fascinating conversation.”  

== Are alien probes already in our solar system? ==

It’s Easier for Aliens to Visit than previously thought: George Dvorsky lately reported – on the ever-brash io9 site – about recent calculations suggesting that “Von Neumann” self-replicating probes, (which I’ve put into my fiction since 1983) might be able to “fill the galaxy” — leaving one copy at every star in the Milky Way — within just 10 million years after the first such probe was launched into space.

That is a mere eyeblink, in comparison to the Milky Way’s 10-to-12 billion year age, or its 220 million year rotation rate (at our distance from galactic center.) This new calculation is based on a number of assumptions.  First that Einstein rules. Sorry, no warp drive or even traveling faster than 10% of the speed of light.  In other words, it’s a robotic mission.  (Though, as I show in Existence, that doesn’t mean it can’t be ‘human.”)

Second, while the traditional Von Neumann probe would decelerate into the next star system, then use asteroidal resources to make and launch its copies, the recent paper by Nicholson and Forgan, offers a unique version, based on a speculative notion: that probes might gather enough raw material (and energy) to copy themselves while hurtling across the cold, black near-emptiness between stars. By building its daughters out of interstellar atoms — not having to stop and mine asteroids — a mother probe might drop one into a system that it passes and toss others at varied angles past the new sun, using a slingshot effect to hurl them in varied directions with great efficiency.

I’m rather skeptical of the core assumption — building robot copies extirely from collected interstellar atoms… but I’m willing to ponder it, maybe in a future story!

OpenLetterAlienLurkersIn fact, I have been working at this general topic — both as a scientist and as a science fiction author — ever since I attended the Los Alamos conference on Interstellar Migration around 1983, when Jones and Finney first analyzed the rate at which such “Von Neumann probes” might be able to set a daughter in place around every star in the galaxy.  By the way, they calculated a figure even lower than Nicholson and Forgan.

Of course, the question of why we haven’t yet encountered such probes in our solar system is provocative.  It makes the already puzzling problem of the “Fermi Paradox” or Great Silence even more daunting. Folks can read a dozen reasons why such probes – lurking in our solar system – might choose not to respond, even to earnest entreaties that have been made already, by radio and internet. Or else, read more about SETI.

I chose to make this quandary, in fact, the core element of Existence.

That is less a “plug” than simply a followup and offer to those of you who wish to follow up this teaser with scads and skeins of threads leading in new directions. There are many quirky aspects to this one idea, and the number of possible variations can be mind boggling. Even (especially) to the voraciously curious!

== Amazing Miscellany ==

It can be difficult to know what’s real and what’s fake when it comes to digital art these days. But don’t torture yourself worrying about it now: Here are some of the most photorealistic 3D renderings on the web.

Bites from a voracious tick known as the Lone Star are leaving some suddenly allergic to red meat.  Unlike most food allergies, the symptoms typically set in three to six hours after an affected person eats beef, pork or lamb—often in the middle of the night. The bite that seems to precipitate it may occur weeks or months before, often making it difficult for people to make the link. Geez one could come up with a dozen sci fi scenarios behind this one. Hm. Villainous PETA conspirators… honey, call agent!

Daily closing of India and Pakistan Border crossing — a terrific show. Almost a Monty Python comedy skit, but actually kind of encouraging as it is choreographed and sure beats use of nuclear weapons!

== TWEETable Highlights! ==

Bowing to the inevitable, I have decided to do my latest dump of amazing miscelklany in handy, tweetable bits, for your convenience! That means both linking and displaying the web URLs.  We’ll see if folks like this.

How the Tesla Model S is made — Behind the scenes: a wonderful video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_lfxPI5ObM

adriftRivers and tides of fog and clouds and air, flowing around the bridges of San Francisco.  A gorgeous video homage – Adrift by Simon Christen.  http://vimeo.com/69445362

xkcd offers perspective on the changing pace of modern life. Still… Twitter lobotomizes. http://xkcd.com/1227/

Forty websites that will make you cleverer right now!  http://inktank.fi/40-websites-that-will-make-you-cleverer-right-now/

AmericaWaterwaysGorgeous view of America’s waterways…Zoomable map highlights extensive #USGS data http://bit.ly/19h09CZ 

New life for hobbled planet-hunter #Kepler? Microlensing could allow continued search for #exoplanets http://bit.ly/18XSU66 

Quirky Quark Quartet…First particle containing four quarks is confirmed http://bit.ly/19OqZoK 

We need a Fixer not just a #Maker Movement  http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/06/qq_thompson/

The difference between Geeks & Nerds — based on Twitter Research: http://www.bitrebels.com/geek/differences-geeks-nerds-twitter-research/

This Robotics Dad makes me feel wholly inadequate as a father! https://www.sparkfun.com/news/1159

Chinese anti-pervert stockings. Girls wear these hairy panty hose to deter men with inappropriate intentions. http://bit.ly/18Fx9EW

Flash Mob – re-enacts Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

Ten epochal inventors who did not get rich.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23179103

Existential Star Wars: If Sartre had co-written StarWars! http://bit.ly/177HG8s

Here’s what Elon Musk’s new project may look like: http://io9.com/heres-what-elon-musks-secret-project-might-actually-l-793683502

Ten of the scariest aircraft landings caught on video.  http://jalopnik.com/the-ten-scariest-aircraft-landings-caught-on-video-866278053

Like Synthpop electronic music?  Try “Drunken Saucer Attack” and others by Talin. https://soundcloud.com/music-by-talin/carpe-noctem

The great Pitch Drop experiment.  Since 1927, only eight droplets of the decade-slow goo have plummeted from funnel to cup.  Finally, caught in the act! http://bit.ly/13lRr0x

All right, this is fascinating. Why are testicles kept in a vulnerable dangling sac? It’s not why you think. http://slate.me/1bZzjmy

or follow more tweets at: https://twitter.com/DavidBrin

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Disturbing Trends in the News

Worrisome. The War on Cameras in Reason details police threats, phone confiscations, detentions, felony charges and convictions of citizens for the ‘crime’ of recording officers on duty. Yet, laws are vague and vary greatly from state to state. The central issue revolves around whether taping police without their consent is a violation of wiretapping statues, and whether police have a reasonable expectation of privacy in public encounters with citizens—or if they are to be held accountable for their actions on the job.

We’ve discussed this here before.  Yes, a recent Supreme Court case appears to have settled this matter, in principle. The imbalance of power between individual and state is so huge that the citizen must — must — retain the one thing that equalizes the playing field somewhat.  The truth. In practice, this will still be a hard fight.  I tend to worry much less about restricting what the government and other elites can see (how you gonna stop em?) than about preserving our right to look back!

But can we look?  Really?  We have the illusion of choice…but six media giants now control a staggering 90% of what we read, watch or listen to. These companies are: CBS, Viacom, Disney, GE, NewsCorp (which includes Fox and the Wall Street Journal) and Time Warner (which includes CNN, HBO, Time and Warner Bros). The largest owner of radio stations in the U.S., Clear Channel, operates 1,200 stations, airing shows by the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity, with programs syndicated to more than 5,000 stations. And who owns Clear Channel? Bain Capital purchased Clear Channel shortly before Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential bid  One clear reason why conservative talk show hosts support Mitt? And weren’t we supposed to be more independent and broad in in our access to information, by now?

Well, at least now we know who to blame for what’s happened to the History Channel.

A horrifying brain drain. “At some Ivy League schools last year, up to half of the graduates went into finance or consulting, a move that could have a profound effect on the economy in the years to come.”  Crum, any civilization that does this to itself deserves what will happen next. The very brightest, who do NOT fall for this trap will simply leave the country. A genuine “brain drain.” Leaving the finance twits in charge of a society that explores nothing, invents nothing, produces nothing except paper short-term-parasitic profits. Ever hear of the Golgafrinchan B-Ark? Think about it.

Self censorship? Social media giant Twitter announced they would block messages on a country by country basis, to “to withhold content from users in a specific country while making it available to the rest of the world.” This policy will allow Twitter to grow internationally into countries with “different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression”, but won’t affect China or Iran where Twitter is already completely blocked.

An unprecedented loss of Arctic sea ice over the last few decades suggests we may soon see an ice-free Arctic summer. But then, as I have linked many times before, the US Navy has long known this and is making major plans. So are the Russians. Maybe THAT will get through to your crazy uncle.

Digital thievery is rampant! Have a look at the precautions that US corporate officers, scientists and government officials have started taking, before getting on a plane to China.  “If a company has significant intellectual property that the Chinese and Russians are interested in, and you go over there with mobile devices, your devices will get penetrated,” said Joel F. Brenner, former counterintelligence specialist. We’re not enemies!  But things are passing through a phase where it just makes sense to be careful.  You’ll actually get more respect when they know you’re smart enough to protect yourself and your endeavors. Seriously, read the description of what a cautious businessman does to stay digitally clean and no bring home spyware.

The media does seem to have a polarizing effect…Would ANY new data make you change your opinions on hot button issues such as the death penalty, abortion, same sex marriage, legalization of marijuana? Or God? Or the fact that US taxes are near a 100 year low? Any data at all? Read about opinions beyond the reach of data.

Cadmium, a carcinogen and neurotoxin, may be as hazardous to children as lead. Current regulations are based on threats to adults; recent studies show possible links with learning disabilities and retardation in children.

== Better Accountability through Visualizing our World==

Shining a light into the darkness: I knew I liked the guy, despite resenting the soul-sold handsomeness… The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), begun by George Clooney, is an attempt to use technology to deter civil war and atrocities against citizens in Sudan. SSP combines satellite images and field reports with Google Maps to track movements of troops and displaced people, bombed villages, mass graves and other evidence of large-scale violence, providing public access to updated information on these long-suffering areas.

An ever-reddening glow: NASA video depicts global temperature data over 130 years

Speaking of heating… this map shows hot spots for terrorist attacks within the U.S.–a third of attacks occur in urban areas.

How is water used worldwide? Researchers map a global water footprint detailing water usage. 92% goes to growing food, 40% toward the export of products.

Satellite data reveal the extent of China’s air pollution problem–finding dangerous levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5, less than 2.5  microns).

Accountability on a local basis: the energy usage of New York’s buildings, visualized.

When 30,000 square feet isn’t enough…aerial views of mega-mansions. Even as the size of the average American house shrinks after peaking during the boom, several of the wealthy are building gigantic homes of 20,000 square feet and more.

==On the Technology Front==

 Virtual devices will read your hand motions and gestures and provide what you want—meaning technology will appear even more like…magic. If you hold up your hand, a map or keypad will appear, for you to retrieve or send data. Sensors on the ceiling will monitor your gestures, and respond.  I portray this in Existence…

CleanSpace One, an $11 million “Janitor Satellite” under development in Switzerland, would be the first of a series of craft launched to clear orbital debris, grabbing items with its robotic arm.  Read a better method in chapter one of my next novel.

Patrick Tucker suggests that Artificial Intelligence will be America’s next Big Thing, directing traffic, managing electrical grids and resources, aiding doctors, lawyers and police, analyzing satellite data, optimizing manufacturing and design, developing new medicines and cures, leading to a third Industrial Revolution. Yet, the roboticization of the factory floor will have human costs, as well. See Making it in America in The Atlantic.

Researchers make iron invisible to X-rays, using quantum interference.

==Miscellaneous Fiction/Film==

I’m quoted in this article on Prophets of Science Fiction–and the interplay between science and Sci Fi.

A few sci-fi-ish films from this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Eeeek!  A “re-imagining” remake of the worst sci fi pile of drivel ever made… Space 1999!

Fascinating perspectives from Jonathan Dotse – an IT student, blogger, and science fiction writer based in Accra, Ghana. He discusses the future of African science fiction.

How does Science Fiction influence Public perception of science topics such as Genetic engineering, cloning, nanotechnology? See an article in Biology in Science Fiction.

Glimpse this new Nigerian sci fi film! Kajola.

Seriously? Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. In this movie, that axe isn’t just for chopping down trees… and it looks as if it just might (unbelievably) be worth checking out!

Russian speakers, see a translation of my essay about The Uplift War.

Enough of a coolstuff dump for ya?  Well… the year has just begun…

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