The dream is real

Elon Musk’s new Starship is not the tall skinny pressurized-aluminum cylinder we’re used to thinking of a real rocket, but a fat cigar-shaped thing made of stainless steel, with tail fins.

I just listened to an elaborate economic and engineering rationale for this. And I don’t believe a word of it.

It had to be that way because Elon Musk grew up on the same Golden Age science fiction magazine cover illustrations I did, and it looks exactly like those.

Has tailfins. Freaking tailfins. And lands on a pillar of fire just like God and Robert Heinlein (PBUH) intended.

The dream is real.

302 thoughts on “The dream is real

  1. The Winston endpapers are a fine example of a picture being worth many words.

    I’ve long forgotten the printed words – which wasn’t that good despite some sourcing to famous names – but I will remember the end papers forever.

  2. One thing I find interesting is that from Verne through the 1950s, spaceships were usually imagined as financed by rich people. Once the Space Race started with Sputnik and NASA, spaceships became government projects. Now we’re back to rich people like Musk and Bezos and Branson leading the way.

    • Going from memory, an essay from I think G. Harry Stein perhaps published by Baen or in the There Will Be War series or maybe it’s Republic and Empire (really, “There Will be Government” Jerry Pournelle said), pointed out that for many many years NASA managed to suppress private industry ventures by their “experts” telling would be funders the proposals would never work. This was strong until NASA’s feet of clay became more and more evident with the Shuttle disasters, the incorrectly ground mirror of Hubble, etc.

  3. Musk seems to have come as close as anyone to beating the rocket equation into submission.

    Or at least fighting it to a draw.

    Next few years should be interesting.

      • Uranium (plutonium?) for lift-off would be a challenge. Not sure how to start a chain reaction and keep the space ship in one piece, or even multi-atomic pieces. But if we go that route, hydrogen fusion would be the way to go.

        In my opinion, we should think big. Create anti-matter and use controlled mixing with, say, water, for lift-off.

        • >Not sure how to start a chain reaction and keep the space ship in one piece
          Ask the Russians with their nuclear-powered ramjets.

            • > The Trust/Weight performance of thermonuclear engines is too bad

              He’s wrong. He’s assuming a thrust/weight ratio of 1.25, but the NERVA was operating close to range back in the 1970’s. With a prototype. Using 1970’s technology.

              The next-gen, flight-ready NERVA was expected to have a thrust/weight ratio of 7 or more.

              • Lower in the paper he calculates that you need a T/W relation of 10.
                To get payload fractions of zero (a launch vehicle of infinite size) you have to have a T/W at 900 sec Isp of over 10. That’s more than three times the T/W that Stan Borowski projects for his sporty 15K NTR design, which he says will have a T/W of 3.

                Nuclear rockets might be great when you are already in space, but the current technology seems to be totally inadequate for lift off from sea level.

                • Did you not read the part about “1970’s technology”?

                  7 was for the next-gen prototype (what would have been the first flyable prototype). Again, that was using 70’s materials and slide rule/rule of thumb engineering methods. I’ll bet they would have comfortably exceeded 10 for the final production model even given that.

                  Using modern materials, finite element analysis, and all the other engineering advances?

                  10 wouldn’t be a problem.

          • Strictly speaking, the Russians are going the way of nuclear (sc)ramjets (not sure of the specifics of their design), not rockets.

            • The technology for a nuclear ramjet is very similar to a nuclear rocket. You need a lightweight nuclear reactor the heats very large amounts of gas very hot.

              Just stick the ramjet reactor inside a hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine, and turn off the liquid oxygen.

        • > Uranium (plutonium?) for lift-off would be a challenge. Not sure how to start a chain reaction and keep the space ship in one piece, or even multi-atomic pieces.

          That problem was solved back in the early 1970’s.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NERVA

          > But if we go that route, hydrogen fusion would be the way to go.

          Maybe for the distant future. Fission rockets can be made to work right now.

        • “The Orion concept offered high thrust and high specific impulse, or propellant efficiency, at the same time. The unprecedented extreme power requirements for doing so would be met by nuclear explosions, of such power relative to the vehicle’s mass as to be survived only by using external detonations without attempting to contain them in internal structures. As a qualitative comparison, traditional chemical rockets—such as the Saturn V that took the Apollo program to the Moon—produce high thrust with low specific impulse, whereas electric ion engines produce a small amount of thrust very efficiently. Orion would have offered performance greater than the most advanced conventional or nuclear rocket engines then under consideration. Supporters of Project Orion felt that it had potential for cheap interplanetary travel, but it lost political approval over concerns with fallout from its propulsion”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)

      • FWIW, people who say “you can’t beat the rocket equation” lack imagination. It is an engineering problem. For example, one way to “beat the rocket” equation is to add reusable SRBs to your rocket. You aren’t actually beating the math, but you are focusing on your goal and finding alternative methods to achieve it.

        • Reusable SRBs are easier said than done. The Shuttle had “reusable” SRBs, and some estimates said they cost more to recover and refurbish than new ones would have. And that’s not including the added cost of the space shuttle that SRBs destroyed.

          Reusable LRBs, OTOH, exist now. Falcon Heavy uses 2, and Elon Musk has said that it would be trivial to increase that to 4.

  4. Hadn’t of been for NASA we’d have hotels on the moon…….

    Here’s to old Queen Isabella of Spain,
    Who was more than a little deranged.
    A bigot, fanatic and greedy for souls –
    To baptize the world was the first of her goals.
    But she bet on a dreamer,
    That’s how the wheel rolls,
    And afterward all the world changed.

    Queen Isabella, where are you today?
    The new Chris Columbus is wasting away.
    The same game is waiting, but no one will play.
    Queen Isabel, where are you now?

    The dream is real but sadly it’s not widely shared. The dream is real but the dreamers are fading away.

      • I don’t consider it NASA’s fault either.

        Robert Heinlein commented at one point that the biggest mistake he made in early SF was not understanding just how much space travel would cost.

        Early efforts at space travel were government funded because private industry couldn’t do it. The capital costs were enormous, and no individual private firm or consortium of firms could have come up with the money. They would have needed to get outside financing, in the form of debt or equity, and the people who would provide the loans or buy the equity would demand some evidence that the investment would at some point be profitable before committing the funds. For something as speculative as space exploration, such evidence did not exist.

        It’s one instance of government funding something considered socially desirable that doesn’t have an obvious economic benefit in any short or intermediate time frame.

        And a major incentive for doing it was the intense competition with the Soviet Union. The Soviets getting an astronaut into orbit before we did was a rude shock and a call to action. NASA funding rose sharply in the late 50s and peaked in 1966 at 4.4% of the Federal budget, then began dropping sharply as “keeping up with the Soviets” became less of a factor. (If the US had not been in intense “Cold War” competition with the Soviet Union, you can question whether the US would have attempted space travel at all.)

        (And note that NASA’s original funding came as a rider to an unconnected bill – agriculture, IIRC. NASA snuck in through a legisltatvie back door.)

        >Dennis

        • I’m loathe to put much in the hands of government, but someone pointed out that the discounted value of a dollar in 20 years is effectively zero. So anything large with a payoff that distant or a real probability of no payoff at all will probably be done by government or not at all.

          Methinks NASA did some real good, but we left it in their hands for way too long.

          • @Michael: So anything large with a payoff that distant or a real probability of no payoff at all will probably be done by government or not at all.

            Precisely.

            Methinks NASA did some real good, but we left it in their hands for way too long.

            I think they’re still doing good. But the need for the government to provide the money to build things like the launch facilities and heavy boosters need to get stuff out of Earth’s gravity well and into orbit or beyond has lessened. The fact that Elon Musk’s outfit can do this at all is the most significant factor I see here.

            >Dennis

            • @DocMerlin
              “Houses have a 30 year mortgage.”

              But during these 30 years, you are reaping the benefits of “owning” a house. That is different from investing in something that might start to give you benefits in 30 years.

        • > Robert Heinlein commented at one point that the biggest mistake
          > he made in early SF was not understanding just how much space
          > travel would cost.

          This was at least a common failing. I remember being pretty disappointed in one older book I read where the colonists all came in individual spaceships (well, maybe it was one per family), landed somewhere, then got out and starting building houses, exploring the ruined cities, etc. Though honestly I was more annoyed that the author got the atmosphere so wrong; the density and composition had been known for decades at that point. I can’t recall the title though.

          • @db48x: “Robert Heinlein commented at one point that the biggest mistake he made in early SF was not understanding just how much space travel would cost.”

            This was at least a common failing.

            Indeed, but writers in SF and (especially) fantasy historically had poor economic literacy, and made blithe assumptions about what was affordable. (Many still do.) I think RAH kicked himself – he was economically literate – and likely assumed he really should have seen that problem coming.

            I’m not sure, but I think the older book you mentioned might have been One in Three Hundred by J. T. McIntosh. Damon Knight reviewed in a <In ?Search of Wonder, and called is “A painful collection of avoidable mistakes”.
            >Dennis

            • When Heinlein was a young man, you could be an airplane from the Sears, Roebuck catalog. When the Fed made pilot’s licenses a requirement, Sears sold those, too. And *well* into Heinlein’s adulthood, a light plane was within the means of a middle-class buyer.

              The cost for trains, submarines, automobiles, and aircraft had dropped like a rock once production was sorted out. At the time, there was no reason to think the price of spacecraft wouldn’t drop too.

      • The budget excuse was quite comfortable for NASA, right up until Musk proved it was full of shit. In constant dollars, the annual NASA budget, in the nadir year of 1980, was roughly twenty times Elon Musk’s total net worth in October 2011. The reason NASA has utterly failed to deliver a single new manned spaceflight system in the nearly four decades since the Shuttle first flew is not a lack of funds.

        • NASA … the Wikipedia article on Arthur Arthur Kantrowitz has it right, I heard this from Kantrowitz’s mouth at a conference in the 1980s:

          According to Jerry Pournelle, “We could have developed all this [i.e. large scale commercial space development] in the 60s and 70s, but we went another path. Arthur Kantrowitz tried to convince Kennedy’s people that the best way to the Moon was through development of manned space access, a von Braun manned space station, and on to the Moon in a logical way that left developed space assets. That didn’t work, because Johnson’s support of the Moon Mission was contingent on spending money in the South: the real objective was the reindustrialization of the South. The Moon mission itself was a stunt.”

          And according to Kantrowitz that increased the Apollo budget by a billion dollars, which would be ~ 8 billion in today’s dollars, if you believe the CPI. Per a quick search, the original budget was $7 billion, “was quickly raised to $20 billion”, and ended up at $25 billion through 1972. Which of course could have included stretch goals.

        • None of SpaceX’s rockets can give you hotels on the moon, asteroid mines, manned missions to the outer planets, etc. For that you need a nuclear engine, and NASA spent years working on not one but two different types. They did this concurrently with the Apollo program, because they could do the math and see that any serious human presence off Earth requires better efficiency than any chemical reaction can provide.

          The NERVA engine would have been significantly more efficient than a chemical engine, with an Isp around 900 or possibly even better. It’s my understanding that they had done ground tests and built flight-ready hardware for the first flight tests when Nixon cancelled the project.

          The more speculative project was the gas-core nuclear lightbulb that could easily have been 10 times more efficient than a chemical engine, with estimates putting the Isp somewhere between 3000 and 5000. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_core_reactor_rocket

          For reference, the J-2 used by the Saturn V had an Isp of 420 and the RS-25 used by the Space Shuttle got up to 450. Some tests were done on an engine that would burn hydrogen, lithium, and fluorine which got an Isp of 550, but that’s probably got the worst possible fuel and exhaust to deal with, and it gives you just 20% extra performance for your trouble. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_rocket_propellant#Lithium_and_fluorine

          As for the money, it’s certainly true that NASA has spent far more on robotic missions than it would have cost to develop nuclear engines, but NASA’s funding is per-project. That is, Congress allocates money for specific projects rather than allocating money to NASA and letting NASA decide how to spend it. Congress consistently funded the NERVA project, but Nixon simply decided not to spend the money. I guess once the engineers were laid off and the facilities sold or repurposed, restarting the project after Nixon left office just didn’t seem feasible compared to the easier goals.

        • Indeed. The real problem was that the budget cuts made von Braun resign. THAT is the NASA’s problem. You cannot replace a genius with a committee of merely quite smart people.

          • Let me demur. Genius is useful, but what’s really needed is simply direction. Direction can be provided by having 1) goals and 2) leadership. Without direction, no organization ever gets anywhere.

            And, well. Since the paired events of reaching the Moon and von Braun’s transfer to DC, the Marshall Space Flight Center has had neither. Accordingly, it’s been as useless at achieving anything as, say, the Department of Labor.

            One can contrast the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which has at the very least a mission (scientific exploration of the Solar System) that’s generated specific actionable goals, and thus direction. There’s been nothing astonishingly breakthrough about the JPL’s work, but there’s been a nice solid series of useful scientific missions, and an institutional culture that expects things to get done. If the Great Observatories had been JPL’s responsibility rather than Marshall’s, I suspect the Webb would already be operational.

            I don’t know if Musk is a genius, but he’s providing SpaceX with both leadership and direction, and the result has been serious progress on a budget that Marshall would consider laughable. SpaceX has already achieved remarkable success in satellite launch, is a matter of months from putting people in orbit as part of Commercial Crew, and is building Starship prototypes.

  5. That was my first thought as well, but what’s actually intended is for the rockets to use nuclear engines so that they can have some gravity for most of the trip. Maybe he’ll do that for v2.

    • That also goes back to early science fiction. I vaguely remember a book, I think by Heinlein, which I read in the third grade or so, where the inventor of the rocket makes his plates out of thorium, so he can feed them into the reactor if necessary.

      • Rocketship Galileo, his first juvenile, but the plates were zinc, that was the working fluid of his nuclear reactor rocket.

        • Yes: the plot was it was a private project done on the cheap, using what were basically military surplus parts. Not super far from the real economics, but not close enough that Heinlein was happy with it.

          • @David Collier Brown: And IIRC, the book Heinlein told a story about. He got a long sheet of butcher paper, unrolled it on the kitchen table, and he and wife Virginia independently worked a problem in orbital ballistics to prove that his spaceraft could actually reach the specified destination from the specified starting point in the time he specified in the book. (He wanted Virginia to cross-check his numbers because he thought her math was better than his.)

            He told the story to a West Point cadet who visited he an Virginia in their home in Colorado, and the cadet said “But sir! Why didn’t you just use a computer?” RAH replied “My dear boy, this was in 1947!” The cadet was properly abashed.

            >Dennis

            • And IIRC, the book Heinlein told a story about.

              He related the story to us in one of the new essays in the 1980 book Expanded Universe, one of his most important books to read. As I recall, the calculations were for Space Cadet, the only orbiting done in Rocketship Galileo was seat of the pants in the very upper part of the atmosphere to bleed off velocity before they could then return the way man is supposed to as esr notes, on a tail of fire. They radioed ahead the important information, exactly when they returned wasn’t a big deal.

              As I recall, it was a Ph.D. who said “Why didn’t you use a computer”, I don’t think service academy cadets were quite so high in his estimation, his being one of them once upon a time. You memory is probably substituting the book name and theme for the guy who didn’t have a good sense of history.

              Which is one of the most important lessons in that book, he noted that to be truly educated you need history, math, and knowledge of a foreign language, the latter so that you’d really know your native language.

          • the plot was it was a private project done on the cheap, using what were basically military surplus parts.

            And one wave of his hand, he was still in the phase of hoping for an international system for regulating all things nuclear. The adult scientist was a registered nuclear engineer or whatever, he’d left his old firm when no one could come up with turbines that could handle the output of high velocity zine vapor from his system, and the company wasn’t interested in applications like flight.

            That status as a UN? registered engineer got him free atomic piles for the asking … I suppose that would be one way to incentivize scientists and engineers to not work on the sly. That plus the military surplus (including M1 Garands that were cheap compared to scoped bolt actions!!!), and the free except for food skilled labor of the teenagers, was just enough to put it all together on a shoestring cash budget.

            • One thing that struck me that Heinlein did not consider having the guys use M-1’s was feeding in a new clip of ammo into it wearing spacesuit gloves. Puts a whole new meaning to M-1 thumb…..

              • I’ve never had a problem with the bolt pushing my thumb out of the way when feeding a clip, as far as I know “M1 Thumb” comes from either not being careful when closing the bolt on an empty magazine, you’ve got to put your something down deep in the magazine well, or pulling on the operating rod handle with your hand upright when it fires, its handle hitting the web between thumb and forefinger.

                The former problem would not be much of an issue in the story, and is easily avoided by making you right hand rigid, so the op rod is pushed back with the knife edge of your hand, while the thumb depresses the catch. Then rotate your whole hand out of the way. A spacesuit gloved hand might even be able to pull this off….

          • I believe G. Harry Stein did a similar, shorter, work on the topic. The ship failed to reach orbit because cables used to control something-or-other were used, taken from a motorcycle. An angel investor came ’round at the end and promised better funding if they’d only buy new parts…

  6. I suspect it’s a bit of both. He asked for the Heinleinmobile, and his engineers did their sums and said it actually had some benefits, so they ran with it.

    Something similar happened in aerospace – the thing where a lot of new planes have raised wingtips apparently started as a marketing thing, not an engineering thing. The engineers found it actually reduced drag slightly, so they became common, but that was (at least, per the oral history I’ve heard) not where the idea originated.

    • Actually, Whitcomb winglets were used from the beginning for efficiency gains, not marketing. They did double duty on many Rutan designs, by doubling as vertical fins for yaw stability.

  7. Since we’re talking about cost: the assumption in most of the early science fiction was that moon rockets (and Mars, Jupiter, et al rockets) would be *nuclear* powered. Granted that they still would have astronomical costs (no pun intended), the cost might now or at least soon be within the reach of the richest people on earth today.

    Unfortunately, the anti-nuclear movement has made that impossible. Chemical fuel interplanetary rockets are barely within the financial reach of entire nations.

    • SpaceX’s Starship should be able to take a crew to Mars and back, and that didn’t take the resources of a country, just one person plus some other investors. I think that it’ll still prove to be too expensive to build a colony with it though. A long-duration colony is going to need frequent delivery of consumables and spare parts. With a travel time of 9+ months, that means keeping dozens of ships cycling between Earth and Mars at all times; even with reusable rockets that’ll be quite expensive. A few billion dollars a year is not technically out of reach of a large corporation, but most corporations would prefer to reinvest that money, or pay dividends. Does Apple still have 200+ billion saved up? Maybe they’d like to try spending it all in a decade or two.

  8. I have to say that I’m surprised and disappointed that ESR has had nothing to say about the lynch-mobbing Stallman recently suffered. It’s the Tim Hunt travesty all over again: screaming monkeys hurling shit at a man who has done more for humanity than his detractors ever have or ever will.

    • >I have to say that I’m surprised and disappointed that ESR has had nothing to say about the lynch-mobbing Stallman recently suffered.

      I have in fact expressed great misgivings about it on the previous comment thread. But there’s a problem – this isn’t like the Tim Hunt case, at all. In the Tim Hunt we know the specific accusation that got Tim fired and we know it was false.

      We don’t know either of these things in RMS’s case. There’s a cloud of possible causes, some of which wouldn’t justify canning him, some of which would. To take two extremes, if he was really fired for saying true but unpopular things on an MIT mailing list, that’s clearly wrong. If he was fired because he committed some behavior with a student that was colorably sexual assault (there’s an unconfirmed rumor to that effect), not so wrong. And RMS himself isn’t talking.

      Under the circumstances I don’t intend to go to war on this until, at least, I’ve heard RMS’s side of the story and know why he thinks he got fired. I’ve sent him email.

      • What is this “cloud”? I have seen no mention up until now about any bad behavior with a student. Every news report I’ve seen has mentioned *only* the true but unpopular things RMS said on a mailing list, and has given that as the sole reason for his firing.

        • >What is this “cloud”? I have seen no mention up until now about any bad behavior with a student.

          I have. Seen a picture of the woman in question, too. No proof, though.

          This might not give me pause if RMS were talking. He isn’t, and I wonder why. It’s not like he’s been slow to speak out about free-speech issues in the past.

          There’s also a possibility one of Epstein’s girls got at him. All too possible considering Epstein threw one at Minsky. Fearing an accusation of statutory rape would be a good reason to (a) keep quiet, and (b) not want anyone else stirring up things. Until I know that I wouldn’t be doing more harm to RMS than good, I’m not going to make a public stink.

          • >There’s also a possibility one of Epstein’s girls got at him. All too possible considering Epstein threw one at Minsky.

            I have to object to your word choice here. Women that have been in coercive sexual situations tend to get really fucked up ideas about their own culpability in the matter. Language like “…one of Epstein’s girls got at him” only exacerbates that. If Epstein threw a girl at RMS in such a way that RMS didn’t clue in (or not until afterward), that’s on Eppstein. If RMS did clue in, that’s on him as well as Eppstein. I have trouble imagining a scenario in which he wouldn’t have clued in, but OTOH, it’s probably not fair to RMS to speculate about the possibility that Eppstein did any such thing unless someone makes a public accusation in that regard.

            And when I talk about the fucked up ideas women get about their own culpability, I’m not even primarily talking about the women likely to object to your statement themselves: they’re at least clued in enough to make such an objection.

            • > If Epstein threw a girl at RMS in such a way
              > that RMS didn’t clue in (or not until afterward),

              Morally? Yes.

              Legally? No. (assuming she was under age).

              • True enough, but the point is that, if the scenario that ESR suggests occurred, the culpability attaches at least to Epstein, and very likely also to Stallman, depending on whether you’re talking morally or legally, and what exact scenario you posit. It does not attach to the girl as ESR’s wording of “There’s also a possibility one of Epstein’s girls got at him.” implies. I don’t think ESR intended to imply this, but precision of language matters.

                But it’s probably best not to say more on the matter unless an actual accusation involving Stallman is made. Speculations like this can start nasty rumors, so as I said above, it’s not fair to Stallman to continue with them.

      • “If he was fired because he committed some behavior with a student that was colorably sexual assault (there’s an unconfirmed rumor to that effect), not so wrong. And RMS himself isn’t talking.”

        The “students” at MIT are all 20+. In the past they would all be in the army or married by then: Either mercilessly slaughtering communists, or creating the next generation of valiant soldiers.

        • Traditionally, it would matter whether or not there was a quid-pro-quo aspect between the accuser and the accused e.g., professor->student taking his class or lab director–>student working in his lab.

          The old rule gave a nice bright line, but… in these woke days (MIT is still a university), that limiting principle has been greatly blurred. Perhaps even erased out of existence.

        • The key phrase–which you quoted–is “colorably sexual assault”.

          Since I haven’t heard the rumors, and given the milieu he was in wouldn’t really trust them anyway, I can’t comment past that.

          There’s a lot of self-flagellation that seems to happen with people who identify with the “woke” progressives.

        • > The “students” at MIT are all 20+

          Impressive. This is both a non-sequitur, and incorrect.

          First, “colorably sexual assault” does not usually include so-called statutory rape, which is the only sexual offense where an older age of the younger party would actually change the nature of the offense.

          Secondly, MIT (like most colleges) has incoming freshman that are as young as 17 every single year. Exceptional cases that are younger happen too.

  9. As it should be!
    “Give me technology we can trust, and give it fins like a Cadillac.” – Tom Smith, “Rocket Ride”
    Musk has given us functional rockets that land on their tails as they ought to, so of course he’ll give us the tailfins. And the polished stainless steel.
    Epic art comes not from government grants but from mad artists with eccentric, wealthy patrons. SpaceX is epic art, with incidental practical benefits.

  10. You put put PBUH after Robert Heinlein and call me certifiably insane for giving Jack Chick far lesser praise. …hmm… I just found out that Jack Chick might even have influenced the Starship design more than Heinlein:

    “So in 1953, Jack got a job doing advertising art and other graphic work for Aerojet-General Corporation, an aerospace company in Azusa, about 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles.” – chick.com

    • Given that our host is a Heinlein fan to the point of considering Heinlein a role model, and has had high praise for a Chick parody involving Cthulhu, did you really expect anything else?

      I suppose you could be worse. You could be the guy who came in here praising motherfucking Rushdoony

    • >You put put PBUH after Robert Heinlein and call me certifiably insane for giving Jack Chick far lesser praise.

      Knowing our host, I think there’s much more mockery of Muhammed than praise of Heinlein in that particular turn of phrase, however much of a fan of Heinlein he is. And whatever one thinks of Chick, our host is well known to characterize anyone with the slightest belief in the supernatural as insane, so that he would characterize Chick as such is utterly unsurprising.

      If ESR heard anyone use, “Heinlein (PBUH)” seriously, as if they actually believed that Heinlein was a prophet sent by God, he would mock them twice as hard, and characterize them as absolutely bonkers.

      I don’t like our host dismissing all religion as insane any more than you do, but let’s not descend to unjustified slander. There’s plenty to criticize without construing “Heinlein (PBUH)” as a serious statement.

      • >If ESR heard anyone use, “Heinlein (PBUH)” seriously, as if they actually believed that Heinlein was a prophet sent by God, he would mock them twice as hard, and characterize them as absolutely bonkers.

        That is correct.

        On the other hand, if anyone was the evangelical prophet of spaceflight, it was RAH. Other people did the heavy technical lifting; but he, as much or more than any other single person, created a popular constituency for it in the 40s and early 50s.

    • >Is no one out there working on a viable SSTO vehicle?

      The rocket equation makes that pretty tough. With chemical fuels you really need the mass-ratio drop-off from letting the stages loose. It could be done with an Orion drive, but that has…other problems.

      A chem-fueled SSTO might just barely be viable if you could launch it from 10K up a mountain. I’m not aware of anyone trying this.

        • Now that SpaceX has shown truly reusable TSTO they have proven many Known Truths to be false. One of those facts was the urgent need for SSTO in order to be efficient.

          SSTO can wait till we are using fuels that can reasonably support it.

          • One of those facts was the urgent need for SSTO in order to be efficient.

            Perhaps. But it does seem to be a stretch to imply we have achieved efficiency when a SpaceX launch costs $57 million.

            Pournelle:
            Since rocket engines are as efficient as jet engines, there is no reason why space operations should cost more than two or three times what long distance air travel costs. In particular, you should be able to buy a ticket to orbit for no more than twice what it costs to buy a ticket to Sydney.

            I think you’re aiming too low.

            • when a SpaceX launch costs $57 million.

              ……..which is why they pushed the reusable angle so hard. 57 million was the cost for the expendable Falcon 9. Fuel costs are a couple hundred thousand.

              You really need to catch up; it isn’t 2008 anymore, and it’s making you look silly.

            • >Perhaps. But it does seem to be a stretch to imply we have achieved efficiency when a SpaceX launch costs $57 million.

              Efficiency is relative. To consider ourselves to have achieved efficiency in an absolute sense, the cost of everything would have to be $0, and every human activity would have to break even on entropy.

              Falcon 9 is efficient compared to prior launch vehicles, or compared to the cost of a reusable SSTO. It is far from efficient enough for any of the standard pipe-dreams about spaceflight to be feasible (colonies off Earth, asteroid mining, etc.).

        • Comparing the strengths and weakness of the novels Pournelle wrote alone, Niven wrote alone and they wrote together, I deduce that I would trust Pournelle’s opinion on human social interaction from military tactics to politics and I would trust Niven’s opinion on technology and science, and never the other way around.

          Pretty sure Pournelle wrote the social aspects of The Mote and Niven the technological aspects? I mean if it was the other way around, you’d get technology as boring as the CoDominiums, and a social interaction system as unrealistic as the Lordkin.

          So on spaceships, let’s rather check what Niven said.

          • On the contrary, I’d trust Niven on logical games of many kinds and trust Pournelle on technological possibility.

      • A much simpler way than a mountain would be the “rockoon” method:

        Take any chemical rocket vehicle: Saturn, Proton, shuttle, whatever. Build it as if it were going to launch from the ground. But add two new features. (1) A large hydrogen balloon from which everything else hangs by a strong steel cable. (2) A packed parachute you can deploy (to get safely to the ground in case the balloon pops or the cable breaks).

        Now fly this thing as a balloon — up to 8,500 or 9,000 feet, as high as it will go — and then light off the rocket (and jettison the balloon).

        Result: You have just added a cheap and lightweight first stage, dramatically increasing how high you can go. Plus you have the added benefit of no longer needing a launch site that can withstand your rocket being lit there.

        • The altitude difference doesn’t get you that much of a boost. Most of the energy involved in getting to orbit comes from accelerating to 17500 MPH, not gaining 100 miles of altitude.

            • >100 miles of altitude gets a lot of atmosphere out of your way.

              I’m certain reduced atmospheric drag is negligible compared to the effects of not having to lift mass to 10K to get it higher.

              I just asked regular commenter Ken Burnside, one of the brains behind Atomic Rockets. He says he remembers from a calculation he saw years ago that launching from 20Kfeet buys you about a 15% mass reduction in booster and fuel mass, but doesn’t have other figures handy. It’s not going to scale linearly.

              • There are also benefits to be had in using vacuum optimized engines on the first stage.

                Of course with this plan you can forget about rapid reusability. Just another case of rocket designers chasing obvious local optimizations to the detriment of the system as a whole.

              • So according to Wikipedia, combined atmospheric and gravity drag losses are typically in the 1-2 km/s range, and 50% of the atmosphere is below 18,000 ft.

                It’s not entirely easy to disentangle atmospheric from gravity losses: a general principle I’ve learned in playing Orbiter and KSP is that atmospheric losses can be minimized by keeping your velocity down in the lower atmosphere, but this increases gravity losses, because gravity losses are minimized by a high acceleration and a more agressive turn to a horizontal trajectory, but avoiding atmospheric losses requires a lower acceleration, as well as a largely vertical trajectory in the lower atmosphere, in order to clear the lower atmosphere quickly and to avoid having too flat a trajectory before your vertical speed is high enough (flatten out too early and aerodynamic forces may prevent you from keeping your nose above the horizon, in which case You Will Not Go To Space Today).

                Launching from higher altitude helps with all of these factors.

                • >(flatten out too early and aerodynamic forces may prevent you from keeping your nose above the horizon, in which case You Will Not Go To Space Today).

                  LOL. And you may experience the wonders of…lithobraking.

          • >The altitude difference doesn’t get you that much of a boost. Most of the energy involved in getting to orbit comes from accelerating to 17500 MPH, not gaining 100 miles of altitude.

            It’s true, but the amount of fuel required to move upwards a foot varies inversely with altitude because of the mass-ratio dropoff. If you lunch from 10K up you don’t have to lift the fuel and tankage that a rocket launched from sea level needs to get to 10K.

      • At some point someone will lease a chunk of Ecuador for a spaceport, ten thousand feet up and on the Equator.

      • There may be no advantage. FWIW, the Nuclear Thermal Turbo Rocket I mentioned previously is an SSTO design.

  11. Who are these bastards trying to take RMS down? It seems they’re trying to get him to suicide. Even if RMS did everything they claim he did, he still didn’t do anything wrong: just is a man.

    Something America hates.

      • The website has been deleted.

        The Medium piece gives enough detail to conclude: (1) the author’s problem with Stallman was about his words; (2) those words were a hypothetical suggesting that “if [Minsky] had sex with one of Epstein’s victims, she probably did present herself to him as entirely willing” and therefore he did no wrong; and (3) this is an auto-da-fe straight out of SJWs Always Lie.

        The piece does not assert or even suggest that Stallman laid hands improperly on a woman anywhere, and I’m sure the author would not have omitted to say so if there were any way she could make it appear plausible.

        I do not share Stallman’s views about IP. But this should not happen to a dog.

  12. ESR: Some of The Americans seem to be looking into setting their net wider, now that they got RMS.

    https://twitter.com/infil00p/status/1173785404731904001

    >Joe Bowser @infil00p
    >
    >Here is ESR saying that Epstein wasn’t a Pedophile. Not a huge difference from RMS

    >Joe Bowser @infil00p Sep 16
    >Honestly, Open Source is full of fucked up abusers and anyone defending or connected to Epstein should burn.

    “Should burn” – Joe Bowser.
    Sounds almost like a threat to me…

    • >Sounds almost like a threat to me…

      SJWs accusing me of being evil and threatening me is, like, a day ending in ‘y’ at this point.

    • Meh. People have been saying worse about Eric for decades.

      What scared me was when they started going after moderates like Linus Torvalds.

      But as I said, we are in the Fourth Age, the old hacker culture having passed into Valinor.

        • When we win, do not forget that these people want you broke, dead, your kids raped and brainwashed and they think it’s funny.” – Sam Hyde

      • But as I said, we are in the Fourth Age, the old hacker culture having passed into Valinor.

        I’d say the true successors of the hacker culture are the people doing bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Of course, there also a lot of shills, idiots, and miscellaneous weasels doing that to, but that’s inevitable given how much money can literally be made there.

        • >I’d say the true successors of the hacker culture are the people doing bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

          That’s not the successors. Mostly, that’s us. If I had no other way of knowing this, the way I’m received when I encounter cryptocurrency folks would be enough of a clue.

      • >the old hacker culture having passed into Valinor.

        I get several requests a month from people saying “I want to be a hacker” and begging me to apprentice them. Not only are we still here, we’re still attracting aspirants.

        • You’d get a request from me if I was ten years younger. But since your time would be more appropriately spent on someone who’s not mid-fifties, I haven’t bothered to bother you.

        • You should borrow Jeff Read’s metaphor, and tell them “That ship has sailed.” And then warn them not to waste their time, or if they’re really persistent, that they probably just don’t have what it takes.

          THEN you’d get a nice crop of very determined hackers. ;)

          “‘My dear,’ said the old wizard, ‘after you have dealt with your thirtieth hero or so, you will realize that they react quite predictably to certain things; such as being told that they are too young, or that they are not destined to be heroes, or that being a hero is unpleasant; and if you truly wish to be sure you should tell them all three.'” — Eliezer Yudkovsky, _Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality_

          • That’s kind of the mentorship equivalent of the old rule that the best way to find out how to do X in Linux isn’t to go to a forum and ask a question — it’s to go to a forum and loudly proclaim how Linux sucks at doing X and Windows is so much better. Then you will get oodles of people eager to tell you how to do X in Linux.

            (Except where X = “sane, general asynchronous I/O”. Sorry, Linux, you got nothing on Windows overlapped I/O primitives and I/O completion ports.)

            • If by ““sane, general asynchronous I/O” is meant “the little blue circle spinning whenever you try to do frigging anything”, then yeah, thanks, this past year working in a MS Windows / Visual Studio only shop has given me enough of a dose of that “sanity” to last a lifetime. (At the team meetings I would refer to it as VSNR, because the title bar more often said “Visual Studio Not Responding” than merely the application name.)

  13. @ESR I was thinking about this comment and yours above http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=8415#comment-2269018 simply not really understanding what the discussion is about. And then I realized that “anon” and probably a lot of others imply that accepting a patch from someone = conveying prestige, reputation, status etc. on someone. Sort Gordon Ramsay going on TV and saying “Anders Breivik can cook a great chili, man.” type of thing.

    But it isn’t really so. It only conveys prestige if someone’s name is in the contributor list, or thank-you list or whatever way you tend to hand out reputation.

    So an obvious quick fix would be that “odious” people will be anonymous contributors, without attribution.

    Then again I suppose I haven’t reinvented warm water now but this was figured out ages ago and everybody does this. I mean even before all this SJWry some people were always “odious”, some people made themselves professionally ridiculous by fucking something up badly so adding their name on a project would be bad advertisement in a quite objective sense and so on. So I wonder now if it would not work because those types are not only interested in “odious” people not getting prestige but have more of a purity framework, that “odious” people shouldn’t be touching the project at all because they will somehow make it ritually unclean.

    • >So I wonder now if it would not work because those types are not only interested in “odious” people not getting prestige but have more of a purity framework, that “odious” people shouldn’t be touching the project at all because they will somehow make it ritually unclean.

      That’s how they talk and behave.

      Also remember there are other associated pathologies. There’s an actual war against merit going on. Some of the leaders in the attempt to hijack hacker culture have said so.

      • Also remember there are other associated pathologies. There’s an actual war against merit going on. Some of the leaders in the attempt to hijack hacker culture have said so.

        I’m going to say something here that will probably make both hackers and SJW’s mad:

        I am what you have in the past called a “standard nerd”. I tend not to fit in well in mainstream culture, and to fit in in hacker culture and other STEM-ish classically nerdy cultures. And I see mainstream culture (or at least certain mainstream subcultures) trying to assimilate nerd culture, and I find that deeply troubling. But at the same time, I’m profoundly uneasy about how troubled I am about it, because in trying to put that troubledness into words, I keep finding that SJW vocabulary fits best, and I tend to disagree with at least 75% of their ideals and pretty much 100% of their means of persuading people to their cause.

        Namely, I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason I’m so troubled by the attempt to assimilate nerd culture into the mainstream is that nerd culture is a safe space for standard nerds like me: everywhere else we have to play by social rules, which, even if we’re passable at following, we’re always a bit behind the curve on. But in a few subcultures like hacker culture, we’re in the majority and get to call the shots on the social rules.

        Hacker culture isn’t necessarily a safe-space for non-standard nerds like you that can play the social games well but choose not to, but you are able/wiling to be considerate enough to the people whose safe space it is to fit in.

        The problem is, safe spaces are exclusionary. Many members of mainstream culture that try to enter nerd culture do so because nerds aren’t cool, but tech is, and they want the status that comes with being associated with it (I’ll call this type A), but I’ve met many that are genuinely smart and interested in nerdy things (type B), or that fall into both categories (type C). The type A’s can go fly a kite, and will react with rage when told to do so. The type B’s will likely fail to integrate into the culture socially, face criticism on a technical point, and respond along the lines of “how dare you treat me like this?” instead of the expected “your criticism is wrong because facts.”, at which point we nerds have a tendency to assume that the emotional, rather than intellectual, response indicates a deficiency in intellect, and a membership in the “type A” group. This will cause them to doubt themselves, which will make them more likely to react emotionally later down the line, and so things will spiral. Meanwhile, they are likely to be concerned that their association with nerds will reduce their status with their mainstream friends, and the worse their interaction with nerd culture goes, the worse this concern will get, and between not getting anywhere with the nerds and wanting to fit in to the mainstream, they’ll eventually give up. These types could integrate if a nonstandard nerd notices in time, turns up the charm, and briefs them on polite behavior in nerd culture.

        The real thorny problem comes with the type C’s, who actually have a great deal of potential merit-wise, but will absolutely not fit in if the tech-is-cool-and-I-want-status element isn’t dealt with. They also make it easier for type A’s to pass themselves off as aggrieved type B’s.

        Another thing that concerns me about nerd culture as a safe space is that even for the standard nerds, the ones with autism/ADHD type deficiencies in social interaction, I think that a large part of the social skill deficit in adult life comes from a decision to stop caring. I certainly have the social deficiencies, but I also have a very clear memory from around 3rd grade of the moment that I gave up on the social game, so I somewhat feel that having a culture that we dominate to fall back on may be preventing standard nerds from doing as well in social interaction as we actually have the potential for. OTOH, I don’t feel that we really would do that much better if nerd culture just got assimilated into the mainstream without the mainstream meeting us halfway, and I don’t entirely trust them to do that (speaking of assimilation and hijacking, that brings to mind another SJW term: cultural appropriation).

        In the best case scenario, I think approaching the issue from this angle could have the following benefits:

        1) Showing SJWs how exclusionary their safe spaces look from the outside.

        2) Showing SJWs that their attempts to paint the current gender-skew of the tech industry as being all about sexism come across as an attempt to gaslight a group that is mistreated in mainstream culture out of their safe space.nerds to confuse type A’s and type B’s, as the

        3) Showing nerds how exclusionary some of the institutions of nerd culture look to the mainstream.

        4) Showing nerds exactly what SJWs see in their safe spaces.

        And, in the worst case, if SJWs are rnerds to confuse type A’s and type B’s, as the eally unwilling to bend, it at least shows:

        5) In that case, how hypocritical SJWs are.

        SJWs may feel free to respond to 5) with a 6) whose wording should be obvious.

        • Didn’t bother reading your long dialectical essay when can I show your conclusions are nonsense:

          1) Showing SJWs how exclusionary their safe spaces look from the outside.

          They don’t care, They literally want us dead, but for now have to settle for destroying as much as they can of our personal and professional lives.

          2) Showing SJWs that their attempts to paint the current gender-skew of the tech industry as being all about sexism come across as an attempt to gaslight a group that is mistreated in mainstream culture out of their safe space.nerds to confuse type A’s and type B’s, as the

          See the answer to 1). This is about power. In Jim of Jim’s Blog terms, superior holiness. In Spandrel’s terms, Bioleninism.

          3) Showing nerds how exclusionary some of the institutions of nerd culture look to the mainstream.

          4) Showing nerds exactly what SJWs see in their safe spaces.

          Why should we give a damn, except if there’s some tactical insight to be gained for either protecting ourselves or destroying them before they destroy us?

          And, in the worst case, if SJWs are rnerds to confuse type A’s and type B’s, as the eally unwilling to bend, it at least shows:

          5) In that case, how hypocritical SJWs are.

          They don’t care. They axiomatically believe what they feel and do is right, they use slogans like “no bad tactics, only bad targets”. Did you not read this subthread above, where major figures in software openly wish for esr’s death for merely holding the wrong opinions on a bunch of subjects unrelated to being a nerd? An echo of the attacks just documented on an elderly lady using a walker for the crime of trying to attend a event Antifa declared to be a gathering of Nazis? They want old people with the wrong opinions dead in the worst way, which is why we have to give them complete control of our healthcare system.

          It’s not like we haven’t seen this game played out numerous times during the 20th Century, consuming a bare minimum of 100 million innocent lives. And that the exact pattern goes all the way back to the French Revolution, with its Terror and genocidal attacks on parts of the countryside that didn’t sign onto the program.

          • Why should we give a damn, except if there’s some tactical insight to be gained for either protecting ourselves or destroying them before they destroy us?

            You just answered your own question. There is tactical insight to be gained for protecting ourselves from following Jon’s suggestions.

            If you just give zero damns and unleash the hounds, you end up looking like the ogre to the people who are just now arriving at the scene, wondering what all the hubbub is about. They’re on the fence, see you punching SJWs, and decide they should help the SJWs. You just made your first and last impression.

            I’ve seen this happen. Hell, I’ve been hit by it. I’d get picked on in school, and in a spark of courage, I punch back, and that’s when the teacher happens to be looking. Result: I end up in the principal’s office, serve detention, and get out in time to get picked on again. It didn’t matter that I was right; what mattered was my timing and planning, which was piss-poor.

            It works differently in adult life – there’s no principal, but instead just other adults serving as your jury on the spot – but it still means the cycle continues. You might be fine with that, but one can be forgiven for wanting to break that cycle and move on to tougher and even more dangerous problems.

            They don’t care.

            Some of them don’t care. You’re not doing this for them; you’re doing it for the people who just arrived, and who still care.

            So yeah, punch people who are in the act of punching. At all other times, you hold your fucking fire.

            • Anyone who can look at a SJW in today’s Cancel Culture confrontations and decide to help the SJW is axiomatically a self-declared enemy.

              This is not even hard, who is so fresh off the turnip truck they don’t recognize the Left and have an opinion about it? Boomers I’ll grant you are stereotypically set in their ways, but I don’t think you’re including them in your take on this.

              • The SJW movement isn’t just cancellers. It’s fanatic Antifa, the Twitterati, a handful of writers on Medium, and shitstirrers doing it for a living on behalf of the Russians, but also social workers, your Facebook friend who’s gay and genuinely worried because of what he read from some Russian shitstirrer, another friend who’s black and got some unnerving death threats on his Twitter account, and the extended families of all of these people who are really too busy with their lives to take up with any of this but who still feel at least a little familial loyalty.

                [W]ho is so fresh off the turnip truck they don’t recognize the Left and have an opinion about it?

                (blinks at you, then waves in the direction of a map)

                Are you truly aware how many people there are? In the US alone? Let alone worldwide?

                I am including Boomers in this, by the way. Especially the ones who are retired, have several thousand bucks saved up, and have little else to do with their free time but surf the internet and write their Congresscritter. Except, bless their hearts, they don’t have enough time to get deep enough into the internet to dig into every brouhaha they read about. They skim the headline and the five people they follow on the Twitter their kid set up for them and get an impression.

                • Bravo!
                  Some of us old farts have been paying attention online since dialup days and newsgroups. I’ve been following ESR for more than a decade and finally read the Cathedral and the Bazaar. We may be old, but we’re not dead yet and we got your back.

          • @H:

            They don’t care, They literally want us dead, but for now have to settle for destroying as much as they can of our personal and professional lives.

            *Some* of them don’t care. A good deal more want us dead, and a good deal more than that want to destroy us personally or professionally because they see us as a threat. Even more than that don’t actually want to destroy us but have no sense of how much splash damage the weapons they want to use will do when deployed against the people they want to destroy. The ones deeper in are using language very much like your “they want us dead” to convince the ones less deep in to circle the wagons.

            Nobody becomes a full-throated, no-turning-back proponent of any political ideology in a day.

            At the very least we can innoculate their source of potential recruits. With luck, we can potentially get a decent percentage of the actual SJW crowd to actually stand down.

            Why should we give a damn, except if there’s some tactical insight to be gained for either protecting ourselves or destroying them before they destroy us?

            Because:

            A) Understanding what draws people into that crowd in the first place is the key to knowing how to stop them from recruiting and to figuring out how to get the people that can be convinced to defect to do so.

            B) Understanding behaviors of ours that resemble those of SJWs can help us avoid looking like hypocrites to neutrals.

            I wrote:
            And, in the worst case, if SJWs are rnerds to confuse type A’s and type B’s, as the eally unwilling to bend, it at least shows:

            5) In that case, how hypocritical SJWs are.

            Typo correction. I’m not sure what happened here. It looks like something that didn’t make it into the final draft of my post as a complete thought got into my clipboard, and got pasted into the middle of a word somehow. It also appears up around point 2 in my original post. The above should read:

            And, in the worst case, if SJWs are really unwilling to bend, it at least shows:

            5) In that case, how hypocritical SJWs are.

            You said:

            They don’t care. They axiomatically believe what they feel and do is right, they use slogans like “no bad tactics, only bad targets”.

            Some of them do, yes, but they *need* to use slogans like “no bad tactics, only bad targets”, because they need to egg on the less committed SJWs that don’t think that automatically. If every one of them thought that, it would be counterproductive to say it, because it’s noise that can alert targets when they could be waiting in ambush for the perfect moment to strike. But *because* not all of them are fully committed, they need to whip up the less committed ones, and then those need to whip up the even less committed, before they have the numbers they need to do anything.

            And my point wasn’t “In the worst case we show SJWs how hypocritical they are”, I was saying “In the worst case, we show the world how hypocritical SJWs are”.

            And I won’t deny that the worst case scenario may very well come to pass. Even if it’s possible to de-escalate, we might not manage it.

            It’s not like we haven’t seen this game played out numerous times during the 20th Century, consuming a bare minimum of 100 million innocent lives. And that the exact pattern goes all the way back to the French Revolution, with its Terror and genocidal attacks on parts of the countryside that didn’t sign onto the program.

            It goes a lot further back than the French Revolution. I am sure it goes back further than written history. It’s human nature.

            But keep this in mind:

            In Germany in 1932, the Nazis and the Communists were each saying of the other “they literally want us dead”, in order to whip up their respective, less committed allies. And in saying that *they were absolutely 100% right*. The Communists wanted the Nazis, and anyone who had anything to do with them, dead, and the Nazis wanted the Communists, and anyone who had anything to do with them, dead. And the German conservatives took up the Nazi cry of “they want us dead”, and the German liberals took up the Communist cry of “they want us dead”, and eventually the Nazis won and a bunch of Communists, and a bunch of their less committed allies, did in fact end up quite dead. The the Nazis lost the war, and a whole bunch of Nazis, and a whole bunch of German conservatives that weren’t smart enough to head west when the Russians rolled in from the east, ended up similarly dead.

            But it all could have been avoided if the less bloodthirsty members of either wing had been more willing to negotiate with each other than with the extremists on their own side.

            Trying to reason with the other side doesn’t guarantee that people won’t end up dead: You need to figure out who you can trust and what concessions are safe to make and most likely to actually win people over, and there are plenty of people throughout history that have screwed that up royally. But just assuming that the other side wants you dead, *even though it may largely actually be true*, just guarantees that on one side or the other (or both), the people that want people dead will get their way.

        • I am what you have in the past called a “standard nerd”. I tend not to fit in well in mainstream culture, and to fit in in hacker culture and other STEM-ish classically nerdy cultures. And I see mainstream culture (or at least certain mainstream subcultures) trying to assimilate nerd culture, and I find that deeply troubling. But at the same time, I’m profoundly uneasy about how troubled I am about it, because in trying to put that troubledness into words, I keep finding that SJW vocabulary fits best, and I tend to disagree with at least 75% of their ideals and pretty much 100% of their means of persuading people to their cause.

          That’s because modern SJW culture is in a sense a mockery of Nerd culture, in much that same way Sauron made Orcs in mockery of Elves. Nerd culture is for people with technical skills but poor social skills, thus they end up forming internal hierarchies based on technical ability and accomplishment.

          Inspired by the success of nerddom a lot of people, including many nerds, assumed that everyone who had trouble fitting in actually had technical or other important skills. Thus, people who didn’t fit into mainstream culture but had no technical skills attempted to form their own cultures. Unfortunately, since the subcultures were based on shared social problems rather than technical abilities, the result was that their internal hierarchy is based on who is “most oppressed” rather than anything objective. This results in a highly dysfunctional culture since anyone who succeeds is by definition not the most oppressed and thus doesn’t deserve his success. (Unless he’s successful enough that he can intimidate those who would point this out into keeping their mouths shut.)

          • >That’s because modern SJW culture is in a sense a mockery of Nerd culture, in much that same way Sauron made Orcs in mockery of Elves. […] Thus, people who didn’t fit into mainstream culture but had no technical skills attempted to form their own cultures.

            That is the most interesting and perceptive thing I have seem you write on this blog.

          • That’s because modern SJW culture is in a sense a mockery of Nerd culture

            This sounds right. It might be more specific to call it something like a Cargo Cult.

            Much of the shape of SJW Culture can be attributed to the fora from whence it spawned; first academia, then through such as Twitter and Tumblr and on into the wider world once the little sisters of the college gals got infected.

            Which is to say, the original Nerd Culture built these technical spaces, established a surface-level resemblance of being intended for outcasts, then the non-technical outcasts moved into those spaces and began acting like they think the Builders do though without any real understanding. A great big map/territory confusion, resulting in a bunch of primitive tribes acting like any primitive humans do, dancing around the cast-off artifacts of the Builders and very eager with their spears.

            The Tolkien allusion is better, though. For pendant’s sake: ’twas Morgoth who first twisted the Eldar into Orcs; Sauron just happened to be in the room taking notes.

            • @ktk: The Tolkien allusion is better, though. For pendant’s sake: ’twas Morgoth who first twisted the Eldar into Orcs; Sauron just happened to be in the room taking notes.

              Yep. And Morgoth did so because he could not do his own creation. Only Iluvatar could. He could create beings, but they lived only when he bent his will upon them. He could not give them independent existence. (Aule had the same problem when he created the Fathers of the Dwarves, but Iluvatar hallowed them for him.) Morgoth could get minions only by ruining existing creatures.

              There’s a parallel with folks incapable of doing their own creation moving into spaces formed by those who can do things and attempting to take over to gain the status they think is conferred by being there. The notion that status is conferred in that space because you can do stuff doesn’t seem to occur to them

              (In another Tolkien parallel, this is like Al Pharazon the Golden of Numenor listening to Sauron and believing he could be immortal simply by living in Valinor.)

              >Dennis

              • >Al Pharazon the Golden

                That’s Ar-Pharazôn the Golden to you, mudman. The King never saw an Arabic definite article in his life, and I am certain he would insist on the crown in the last syllable.

              • > For pendant’s sake

                Did you mean “For pedants’ sake”?

                > from whence it spawned

                “Whence” means “from where”, so “from whence” means “from from where”.

                (I am frequently described as a “pedant” or engaged in pedantry.)

              • > There’s a parallel with folks incapable of doing their own creation moving into spaces formed by those who can do things and attempting to take over to gain the status they think is conferred by being there.

                This process has been accurately described as taking the healthy, productive social structure, killing it, skinning it, and wearing the skin, much like the insectoid did in MIB.

          • Pretty much, yeah. The way I put it is that SJWs, by and large, are normies — shit-tier normies who desperately want to get a seat at the cool kids’ table, but can’t. So they take over the nerd table instead and remake it in their own narcissistic image. Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.

            However — unlike the SF, comic book, and video game fandoms, which were taken over by groups who cared little about the art form itself — hacker culture is different in that some of the best and most influential hackers have fully signed up for the social justice agenda. Which is why I think we’ll just have to accept that there’s been a shift in the hacker value system.

            • some of the best and most influential hackers have fully signed up for the social justice agenda.

              That just means they’ll be more surprised when they get denounced and thrown out by the SJWs who don’t care about programming.

            • >some of the best and most influential loudest-mouthed hackers have fully signed up for the social justice agenda.

              It was ever thus. Yelling and tub-thumping is not an indicator of quality.

              • The two are not mutually exclusive.

                A single Tweet from classic entryist Steve Klabnik can get a Midwestern conference presentation quickly canceled. Note this is a guy so extreme that in October 2014 he said:

                Thinking about it, the far right has never been as powerful and overtly supported in tech as in this current moment.

                Between GamerGate, Weev, and Moldbug, it’s not even a “conservative tendency” or something, but outright fascism.

                I’m not sure what a ‘tech antifa’ would look like, exactly, but it’s sorely needed.

                Someone with a French name then mentioned the antifa movement there “and they’re often just as violent :-(“, to which Klabnik replied, “yup. 100% okay with that, personally.” The French guy demurred, and got in reply, “the only things fascists respond to is violence. Ignoring them or letting them attack you doesn’t help“.

                See also Anil Dash, not too long ago elevated to CEO of Fog Creek, although I suppose that outfit isn’t really influential anymore, but as far as I know he still is.

                The set of influential SJWs in tech have a proven ability to end people’s conventional software and systems careers. Yes, not an indicator of quality except in manipulating society, but as direct opponents of the conditions that bring about and maintain quality.

                I’ll repeat Sam Hyde, “When we win, do not forget that these people want you broke, dead, your kids raped and brainwashed and they think it’s funny“, and submit that if we dismiss them like I’m sure the Bolsheviks were for a long time by many, we’re going to regret it.

                • >See also Anil Dash, not too long ago elevated to CEO of Fog Creek

                  Holy shit. That was founded by Joel Spolsky, who was in the top 5 most interestig “tech” bloggers ever, his ideas like “all abstractions are leaky” or “hire people who are smart and want to get things done, not by credentials or experience” are still widely quoted.

                  And then somehow Spolsky turned into a full out SJW. He is one of the very rare cases when it is someone actually talented and succesful doing it. Anil Dash fits into that picture rather perfectly and look at this part of his bio:

                  “He was the director of Expert Labs, a “Government 2.0 initiative that aims to connect United States government projects with citizens who want to become more involved in the political discussion”.

                  I mean, SJWery is mostly a bioleninist recruiting strategy for the new political elite. It sounds tinfoil-hatty to say it is all moved by “feds”, but… pushing it on Silicon Valley does give a lot of people of a certain amount of Beltway smell. And Anil’s rather obvious links to the Beltway here really fit into that picture, that things he goes into do become a sort of a political operation.

                  • Spolsky may yet get based when he comes across the SJWs’ latent antisemitism. Motherfucker was in the Israeli army — which means he trained to fight the SJWs’ beloved Palestinian Muslims.

                    Atwood I’m not so sure about. Oh, speaking of, StackExchange is blowing up right now because they banned a moderator by applying what I predicted would become the new SJW standard for disciplinary action: suspected risk of CoC violation, not actual CoC violation in fact.

                    What’s worse, it was suspected risk of violating a preferred pronouns clause that hadn’t been finalized yet. By avoiding the use of pronouns entirely.

                    So now if Alex is a person and you avoid the pronoun issue altogether by saying “Oh yeah, I know Alex. Alex lives in Louisiana with Alex’s mother. Alex has three cats.” Etc., that’s hate speech and a bannable offense.

                    Honk honk, motherfuckers.

                    • I absolutely enjoy how while you are on the far left of economic issues you are very based on this stuff. Is there a unifying principle linking the two? Something along the lines of “Robespierre, you idiot, stop guillotining all these sans-culottes?”

                    • Oh, for fsck’s sake. I have adopted that strategy for dealing with the surnames of many of the people from Asia who work for ${EMPLOYER}, whom I only know from email/chat, because I have no clear way of knowing which names are male v. female.

                      The old SNL “Pat” sketches are hate speech by now.

                    • When the story appeared on Slashdot, I read the top 84 comments out of 400 and some (at that time) and the majority of the comments made the points…
                      – humans have two genders
                      – some humans come in psychological problems, and wish they were a different gender.

                    • Sorry… I edited the wrong sentence…

                      Most Slashdot comments made the points…

                      – Humans come in two genders.
                      – Some humans have psychological problems, and wish they were a different gender.

                    • @TheMonster the Chinese I work with have all adopted English first names to make things easier for us. Actually not for our sakes, it is apparently a widespread method in teaching foreign languages all across Asia but I have heard it is sometimes used in the US as well that the students adopt a first name in the language taught. So Johnny is sitting in a French class and if the teacher addresses him as Jean-Claude that is supposed to be motivating to do it right or something. Dunno. It weirds me out a bit to be honest. But that is where the English first names they were using came from.

                    • >the Chinese I work with have all adopted English first names to make things easier for us.

                      When I traveled to Taiwan I made a point of asking each local who introduced him/herself with a Western name to tell me his/her Chinese one. I would then pronounce it, watching the subject’s face to see if I’d botched it (and if so how badly) and asking to hear it again until I could get it right. The delighted smiles when I did were very much worth the investment.

                      However, I caution against trying this with Chinese unless you have Frodo ear – that is, you know you can accurately recognize and reproduce speech sounds that are not in the inventory of a language you speak. It’s easy in Japanese, which has as simple and regular a sound system as Italian or Finnish. But Chinese phonology is tricky, you could easily end up with your best effort producing a wince-inducing parody – and that’s before we even get to the tone contours.

                      Korean is kinda bitchy, too – they have some odd consonants. Thai and Bahasa Indonesian, dead easy. Vietnamese…I don’t think I’d want to try this in Vietnamese, I haven’t heard enough of it to wrap my head around the phonology.

              • It was ever thus. Yelling and tub-thumping is not an indicator of quality.

                How about being a high-level kernel hacker, like Matthew Garrett is, and Sage Sharp and Valerie Aurora once were (before they peaced out due to lkml toxicity)?

                • >(before they peaced out due to lkml toxicity)?

                  You just answered yourself. People who can’t play well with others and/or destroy the functioning culture round them are not high quality. This remains true even among hackers who are pretty rhino-skinned about poor social skills and abrasiveness.

            • Pretty much, yeah. The way I put it is that SJWs, by and large, are normies — shit-tier normies who desperately want to get a seat at the cool kids’ table, but can’t. So they take over the nerd table instead and remake it in their own narcissistic image. Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.

              No, they’re wannabe normies who don’t realize that “normal” doesn’t exist.

              And many of them are genuinely smart and capable people, but they’re so desperate to be “normal” that they hunker down to avoid being tall poppies in a short field. These particular ones know that they belong at the “cool kid’s table”, but they’re so desperate not to stand out that they try to drag the “cool kid’s table” to wherever they perceive “normal” to be, and try to get the cool kids to hunker down with them. And when the “cool kids” object to this, they think that it’s because the “cool kids” are trying to be cool and want to exclude them, when the fact of the matter is that the cool kid’s table is where it is because for the “cool kids”, the way things are done in normal-land *hurts*.

              And so these particular unfortunates end up posing as posers: They want to fit in with the “normies”, so they play dumb. But they want the smart people to recognize their intelligence, so they walk up and demand that their intelligence be recognized without dropping the dumb act. And the smart people just see a dumb person demanding that their merit and intelligence be recognized without proof, which is the height of rudeness in smart culture, so they get smacked down, hard.

              • By “cool kids” I meant like Chad and Stacy, not people nerds think are legitimately cool. Think back to high school, or if the memories are too vague or painful, try watching a few John Hughes movies from the 80s, and you’ll get the idea.

                If you look at some of the screechiest voices in the SJW space — your Zoe Quinns and Randi Harpers — you’ll see a pattern emerge. Girl is narcissistic enough to structure her life around getting attention but is too ugly or crazy to get the sort of mainstream sexual attention every girl craves and only Stacys can take for granted. Girl finds nerd subculture that is full of low-tier thirsty betas who go absolutely apeshit if they discover even a modestly hot girl who’s into their hobby. Girl does not give a shit about said hobby, and makes zero effort toward actual competence in said hobby (the only programming I’ve ever seen Zoe Quinn do is posing with an unread copy of SICP on her twitter), but nevertheless demands respect and leadership and cries about harassment, misogyny, toxic masculinity, etc. when it is not given. Beta nerds white knight for girl and become little more than dispensers for the attention and validation she craves, like tiny male anglerfish clinging to the female and becoming little more than sperm emitters.

                The fact that beta nerds are attracted to intelligent women is a vulnerability these girls have learned to exploit — especially since there’s a whole subculture, hipsters, devoted to signalling that you’re more intelligent than you actually are. All it takes is the right pair of glasses, a sham personality and some choice quotes from Foucault, Chomsky, or bell hooks and she can be a brainy dream girl to the sort of nerd who doesn’t know better.

                Maybe your pattern holds truer for the sort of person who actually has displayed some sort of competence, as some of the hacker-culture entryists have.

        • Nerd culture is not a safe space in the SJW sense of a space where your viewpoint will never be challenged. Quite the contrary; if you want whuffie in a technical nerd space, expect to have your perspective challenged and criticized all the time. And realize that there’s nothing personal in it.

          (For SJWs, everything is personal, the personal is political, and hence every criticism is a microaggression.)

          • No, but standard nerds aren’t threatened by having our viewpoints challenged. What we can’t stand to have challenged is something else that I can’t quite put my finger on. Attitude(?) maybe, but that doesn’t seem quite right.

            • @Jon Brase: What we can’t stand to have challenged is something else that I can’t quite put my finger on. Attitude(?) maybe, but that doesn’t seem quite right.

              I’d make it Status.

              Like anyone else, nerds will object to being looked down upon as lesser beings by broader society simply because they are nerds.

              They want to be evaluated on who they are and what they can do, not on what they are that they likely don’t have a choice about being.

              >Dennis

              • Aye, that rings true, but it hurts because status is what we pride ourselves on giving absolutely zero fucks about. Sour grapes, I guess…

                • >Aye, that rings true, but it hurts because status is what we pride ourselves on giving absolutely zero fucks about.

                  There is a difference. Normie status is about social games that nobody will give a shit about when all the players are dead. Our status is based on having built stuff that works.

                  • >that nobody will give a shit about when all the players are dead

                    You are forgetting that at the root it is all about competing for reproduction. The emptiest of the empty suits I have ever saw is Justin Trudeau, but he does have three kids and they probably are getting a better start at life than 99% of people due to all the stupid games daddy plays and often wins.

                    • If Trudeau were not the son of a famous person, you wouldn’t know his name. So it’s really not the games daddy plays; it’s the games grand-daddy played.

                • Jon Brase: Not exactly.

                  Giving absolutely zero fucks is relative. It means that within the nerd community, what confers status in broader society is irrelevant. Nerds will certainly be concerned with their status within the nerd community, but it will be conferred and displayed in a different manner.

                  But the nerd community exists within the boundaries of a larger society, and must interact with that society. Being looked down upon for being a nerd can hurt.

                  It’s actually better these days than it once was, and being a nerd or geek is now a potential source of status in larger society. But that brings problems of its own, like the incursion of folks into nerd and geek communities because of perceived status, who don’t have the ability to do the things that get you status in nerd and geek communities in the first place.

                  >Dennis

                • It is impossible to give zero fucks about status. However, status is in the eye of the beholder, and while usually people interpret status as status in the general mainstream society, in reality everybody has their own reference groups consisting of living, dead and fictional people, and everybody cares about status in their eyes.

                  In fact I am not really even sure there is really such a thing as general mainstream society and status in it, maybe it is just subcultures without one general mainstream culture existing.

                  For example I mentioned sometimes that it seems to me as far as vehicles vs. status go, the high status people are not those anymore who drive a Lambo but those who drive a Prius.

                  However some have expressed their opinon here that they are a small group of people living thankfully far away from where he lives. Yes, but to me that small group seems pretty influential in todays politics and all. Yet, it is not 100% clear that mainstream society exists and Prius types are high status in it. Maybe they are simply a subculture, and while the subculture is in itself influential and powerful, people outside the subculture do not share its status-assigning opinions.

                  I don’t know. To quote Spandrell from spandrell.com, we are being ruled precisely by the kind of people who liked, enjoyed going to school. Partially because they were the cool and popular kids. But cool and popular kids were not, in some sense, actually cool and popular. Everybody pretended to like them but few really did. It was very much like a stock exchange of popularity, you pretended to like people because you expected that expressing public like for them makes you yourself likeable. Schelling-points?

            • > No, but standard nerds aren’t threatened by having our viewpoints challenged.

              Emacs SUCKS.

        • I don’t really know about hacker culture as such, but programmer culture in general stopped being a safe space for standard nerds long ago, far before SJW entryism, as the numbers of programmers swelled exponentially and thus more and more normies got recruited. This was far, far before SJWery.

          Not only hackerdom or programming, even “IT” or “computers” in general used to be normie-free spaces, hence the joke “The profession is getting all watered down, some of the latest hires even have girlfriends.”

          Textbook example is DHH of Rails fame (and actually got some kind of a hacker of the year award for it) https://dhh.dk handsome guy with hot wife and a hobby of car racing, about as non-nerdy as possible. Yet an excellent programmer in his own, rather “opinionated” way.

          After a lot of thinking of what makes nerds nerdy, I eventually came to accept the popular opinion that it is some amount of autism spectrum. A very light amount actually. Basically it just results in overly literal-mindedness: https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/schrute-facts but “not getting it” leads to social isolation. This makes one excellent at programming as computers, too, are basically overly literal-minded autistic genii, one simply has to be a bit autistic to be good at it as non-autistic people would tend to be frustrated that the computer does what they literally say and not what they mean. At least that’s what I thought until I realized there are excellent non-autistic programmers from ESR to DHH. It is possible that some people are capable of switching in and out of literal-minded and non-literal-minded mode.

          Actually I can do that too. For me autistic literal-mindedness was just a slower learning curve, 30+ I got better and better at reading between the lines and getting the “joke”. [1] However, apparently some people like ESR are doing it the other way around, not having been born literal-minded but yet somehow learned to be when it is necessary (math, programming) later on.

          Before computers became a thing, nerdy people were either into STEM, or in some cases just bookwormery, as in the case of written text the literal meaning and the real meaning is closer to each other. Okay, reading between the lines is still necessary but the gap is narrower in written text as the writer cannot rely on body language and suchlike to get the real meaning across. For example, if you read Dante’s bio on Wiki and then his De Monarchia, it is not really hard to figure out that all his biblican praises to imperial monarchy boil down to giving the middle finger to his personal rivals, the guelf politicians of Florence.

          For this reason, intellectuals, bookworms were IMHO usually a bit on the spectrum. If you like books more than parties, that is often because the real vs. literal meaning gap is narrower.

          [1] It also helped that I learned the theory of how human communication works. Basically in our subconscious there is a module that is obsessed about social status. However our conscious minds are rational and are constantly rationalizing the input from the Social Calculus Module. And we are living in a period of history where sounding rational is in itself high-status creating an interesting feedback loop. The result is that we see people engaging in heated debates quoting 143 statistics of why sportsball team is better than your sportsball team. The trick is not take these entirely seriously, while they sound like those stats are the rational reason for theirs being objectively better, in reality the social calculus module is just emitting “my gang yay, your gang boo” signals and the rest is rationalization. So all this you can ignore or take it as a fun game to play if you feel like playing. But if you want to put people into an actually rational mood for solving a technical problem, you have to frame things so that for them it is somewhere between status-neutral to status-positive, but not overly so, as then you get irrational over-enthusiasm. Also, the harder trick is finding out status in the eyes of exactly which reference group?

          • >one simply has to be a bit autistic to be good at it as non-autistic people would tend to be frustrated that the computer does what they literally say and not what they mean.

            “Non autistic” people are stupid fucking morons. They also hate anyone with a brain. All they want to do is cummm in muuhh wuuuhhman. They’ll sell their family out for a dollar (because a dollar gets them closer to muuhh wuhhman)

            • >“Non autistic” people are stupid fucking morons.

              Now, now. I’m neurotypical. You going to call me a moron?

              Neurotypicals aren’t actually all stupid. It just looks that way because so many of them are constantly running in the sociosexual-status hamster wheel, you’ve got that much right. But some have enough brain despite that attention-suck to do things you would find interesting.

              Readily verified observational fact: there are neurotypicals capable enough to do the things you find interesting. Follow the logic; compared to them, you’re the stupid one – they can play where you can’t. It’s true this is a tiny minority of neurotypicals I’m describing, still you ought to think about what their existence implies and maybe cultivate a little less arrogance.

              • You’re not autistic, but I wouldn’t call you neurotypical

                At the risk of Stallmanesque well-actuallyism, some in the autism advocacy community have coined the term “allistic” to describe those without one of our particular range of afflictions. You may wish to use that term.

          • The result is that we see people engaging in heated debates quoting 143 statistics of why sportsball team is better than your sportsball team. The trick is not take these entirely seriously, while they sound like those stats are the rational reason for theirs being objectively better, in reality the social calculus module is just emitting “my gang yay, your gang boo” signals and the rest is rationalization.

            And nerds don’t do this? Vi vs. emacs?

            • @Jeff Read And nerds don’t do this? Vi vs. emacs?

              I think everyone might do it.

              Some programmer forums coined the notion “Religious Argument!”, and invoked it when that sort of argument came up. They recognized that the drivers were emotional, and the underlying belief being defended resided in the same place that opinions on religion did, and arguing about them was a waste of time.. (In SF fandom, a corresponding example is the definition of SF vs fantasy. Discussing what the differences are can be a fun way to spend some time, as long as you recognize the argument will never be settled. The late SF writer Damon Knight talked about SF being “What I point at when I say the word”.)

              Emotional beliefs are not amenable to rational argument, because the beliefs themselves aren’t rational. Trying to counter beliefs like that with rational argument and facts is a non-starter, and don’t try.

              And some beliefs are so deeply held that they are part of the holder’s “sense of self”. Questions of the belief can be seen as attacks on the person holding them, and produce a violent response.

              This is what makes psychotherapy a sometimes dangerous profession for the practitioner. The process of psychotherapy revolves around getting at those unconscious beliefs, and making them conscious and explicit, so the beliefs can be examined and perhaps modified.

              We all carry around an unconscious notion of “This is who I am, and how I fit into the world.” That notion is formed beginning at a non-verbal age, absorbed from the adults around us It is usually set in broad outline between 5 and 7 years of age. Once we have adopted the belief, our prime goal is to defend it. Evidence that supports our belief is clutched happily to our chest. Evidence against it is ignored or rejected.

              The issue, of course, is how well our belief system corresponds to external reality. Beliefs somewhat incongruent with reality produce behavior we call neurotic. Beliefs really incongruent with reality produce behavior we call psychotic. Adjusting beliefs like that to correspond to reality is a complex and very difficult process, and may take years to accomplish if it happens at all.

              >Dennis

              • >In SF fandom, a corresponding example is the definition of SF vs fantasy. Discussing what the differences are can be a fun way to spend some time, as long as you recognize the argument will never be settled. The late SF writer Damon Knight talked about SF being “What I point at when I say the word”.)

                I used to think this was a perpetual religious war too, until Greg Bear actually cracked the problem in 1994. Rough quote:

                Science fiction is the branch of fantastic literature which affirms the rational knowability of the universe, and has as its most characteristic emotional feature the ‘sense of wonder moment’ in which the reader feels he has achieved a new and larger comprehension of the universe.

                You have to pay attention to every word of that definition; notably, “knowability” without “rational” does not suffice, and you need to know that “fantastic literature” involves the creation of a counterfactual secondary world. But once you have grasped it, you’ll find that it not only bears a lot of weight as a genre characterization but greatly illuminates neighboring genres such as fantasy and horror.

  14. I do believe the dream is real and that The Man Who Sold The Moon will eventually happen, sort of; but I really doubt it will be Musk, mostly because of the record he has already built up with Tesla, Solar City, and the Boring Company as well as SpaceX, and what it says about his character and his financial know-how.

    In fact, I’m surprised he’s not already in prison for insider dealing, from when he had Tesla bail out Solar City (mostly at the expense of Tesla’s other shareholders, to benefit himself as the only major investor in Solar City). And with Tesla’s self-driving feature causing repeated wrecks and Tesla cars spontaneously catching fire, I’d be surprised if his next move isn’t to rescue Tesla by tapping the SpaceX treasury.

    Then there’s the fact that both Solar City and Tesla largely designed their products to make money from federal subsidies and not the marketplace.

    But at least he hasn’t been #MeTooed yet. ;-b

  15. In fact, I’m surprised he’s not already in prison for insider dealing, from when he had Tesla bail out Solar City (mostly at the expense of Tesla’s other shareholders, to benefit himself as the only major investor in Solar City). And with Tesla’s self-driving feature causing repeated wrecks and Tesla cars spontaneously catching fire, I’d be surprised if his next move isn’t to rescue Tesla by tapping the SpaceX treasury.

    I wish your last thought wasn’t credible, that SpaceX is what he’s utterly serious about, but he had SpaceX bail out Solar City before he had Tesla buy it.

    Then there’s the fact that both Solar City and Tesla largely designed their products to make money from federal subsidies and not the marketplace.

    Quoting Jim of Jim’s Blog:

    Immediately after the [English Restoration], we see Ayn Rand’s heroic archetype appear, the scientist engineer CEO, mobilizing other people’s capital and other people’s labor to advance technology and make that technology widely available. Often these were people who before the restoration had competed for superior holiness, (analogous to Musk’s subsidized and money burning tesla, solar panels, and solar batteries), but after the restoration competed for creating technology to produce value (analogous to Musk’s reusable booster rocket.)

    (If you read the above link, note how he confounds Pilgrims with Puritans, is called on it, and ignores the correction; rhetoric first, facts second if at all.)

    And:

    Musk is a serial scammer, always hyping technology that does not exist and that he has no real intention of producing, but his reusable booster was a real technological achievement….

    Musk’s electric cars and solar city are scams, which could have only produced a profit through Hillary’s crony capitalism, but he really did intend the BFR, the re-usable earth to orbit and back again rocket.

    Between his reckless behavior, be it “pedo guy” or not playing ball with the SEC, SolarCity panel installations burning buildings due to awful workmanship and maintenance, the genuine scams like Tesla’s “autopilot” pushed way past what it can do…. Latest is people using its remote “come to me” feature witnessing in horror their car crashing into things or going down the wrong way in a one way parking lot lane (it does have a deadman switch, if you take you finger off the button, it stops).

    Add the debacle of the Tesla’s recent production, which includes not making enough? any? spare parts for owners to repair damage like produced by the above, the Gigafactory on Panasonic’s side that has a 15% scrap rate very late in the production process (that’s an appalling story which makes me question the quality of the 3 million per day that do get turned over to Tesla, then again Musk and company plan for individual cells going kaboom as he noted in his advice to Boeing WRT to the 787), and everything I hear about Tesla’s recent financials in the light of the proceeding, it’s questionable he’ll stay in control of SpaceX long enough to see the “Starship” though, and unlikely to the point of colonizing Mars.

    As Jim notes, SpaceX now has the Eye of Soros on it, although that’s not yet showing up in the results (the Crew Dragoon blowup was stupidity, but easily patched to be a one use “get me away from the exploding booster!” necessary function, the land it on a tail of fire function already abandoned for NASA).

    But he has shown what you could do if you set up the right incentives, which NASA and the military ordering ballistic missiles never did for switching those rockets to general commercial use, and he’s built a cadre of aerospace engineers that we lost some time ago, Jerry Pournelle noted at some point about his 70,000 lb SSTO concept that it could no longer be built with the available talent. I witnessed this first hand in the first phase long before then, the early 1970’s aerospace bust, when my family hired an laid-off electronic engineer who was delighted to get back to that field after doing everything including cleaning toilets to avoid becoming homeless. Learned a lot from him.

    • Meh.

      “Elon is done!” is getting almost as overplayed as “Trump is done!”.

      And that is before we figure in the FUD that has been generated by the short sellers. May they end up bankrupt and penniless.

      • On the other hand, as we saw from the Theranos fiasco, in today’s business environment it’s possible for a company whose underlying product is 100% fraudulent to stay a media and Wall Street darling for a decades. Maybe even longer, after all it collapsed due to a WSJ expose, not due to running out of money.

        • @Eugine Neir: That’s not unique to the current business climate. It’s been true about as far back as you care to go. Remember the “dot COM” bubbles of the 90’s, where the notion was a that the Internet was a whole new paradigm, and stock prices would rise forever, in absence of little details like revenues and profits? It took a while for reality to set in.

          From what I could tell, the woman behind Theranos was a typical phenomenon. She had and sold a bright idea that had to potential to revolutionize the industry she was in, assuming the underlying idea was valid and the research proved it out.

          But the research didn’t prove it, independent studies could not reproduce the results she was selling, and the roof fell in. She then dug herself into an ever deeper hole because the last thing she could admit was that she was wrong and she failed, and others would all point and laugh at her. (It’s hardly the first time that ever happened, either. Most of the others it happened to historically were males, by why should a woman be an exception?)

          The usual claim is that the market is rational. Thing like this get used as evidence the market isn’t rational. The market as a whole is rational, but there is no guarantee actors in it are. They might all be total loons, and sometimes are.

          >Dennis

          • >The market as a whole is rational, but there is no guarantee actors in it are. They might all be total loons, and sometimes are.

            The important point is that markets punish irrationality. As you say, this does not guarantee individual rationality, but over time it means aggregate behavior is asymptotically rational.

            • @esr: Indeed, markets punish irrationality. We see that in things like market “corrections”, and lots of grimly amusing responses by those getting corrected about why what is happening to them wasn’t their fault and they weren’t idiots for doing what they did.

              I haven’t looked, but I suspect there is a fair amount of commentary from folks who bought into Theranos along that line.

              >Dennis

              • But let’s not forget Keynes’ comment that “Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.” In a social mania like the one that has had the West in its grips for so long, since the Left purged “Reaganomics” from its vocabulary….

                But outlaws like Theranos are a bit more difficult, and it was so outlaw that when it set up a “real” testing lab it didn’t hire the legally certified people to run it, follow the legal requirements in running it, etc. The real trick was scientific knowledge, if you didn’t have a sufficient background to realize instantly after reading how what they were trying to do was flatly impossible, who were you going to believe?

                Although watching for illegitimate behavior is useful, and Theranos had its share. For the current example playing out, WeWork’s now ex-CEO but still chairman of the board and I think majority voting share owner was recognized as a self-dealing scammer long ago, buying real estate that WeWork then leased. I’ve seen estimates that he’s extracted up to $700 million out of the company.

            • I’d rather say they eliminate than punish. It is not about incentives – those tend to be social – but redirecting resources from one market actor to another. It is really not about making bad investments and losing them is painful – it is about having less resources to make bad investments with.

              Anyway, the efficiency of the culling behavior of the market depends on how quickly people are coming up with newer and newer versions of irrationality. I suspect when tech progress goes really quickly, a lot of new and new kinds of irrationality do get generated and they don’t get culled quickly enough. Not saying government would be better, just saying neither would be very efficient. Sort of imagine how Darwinian evolution works in the presence of a very high fertility rate and a very high mutation rate. Not too well?

          • I’m not sure that’s still true. Specifically, I’m starting to suspect that due to QE, if a company is close enough to the Central Bank spigot for the Cantillon effect to kick in, it can continue running based on rolling over debt and investment without making any actual profit nearly indefinitely, or at least until the whole system collapses.

            • @Eugine Near That’s nothing particularly new. But being “close enough to the Central Bank spigot for the Cantillon effect to kick in” usually means being politically well connected. That’s nothing new, either. Lots of examples exist of high ranking politicians doing favors for heavy campaign contributors, like funneling government money their way to keep them from going belly up.

              >Dennis

              • Politicians are small fry. The real power is the permanent bureaucracy.

                That’s nothing new

                What’s new is how much of the economy is operating in this way. It used to be that large companies went bust due to running out of money rather than due to being the subject of a WSJ expose. Heck, there used to be a whole cottage industry of turnaround specialists who would use drastic measures to save or attempt or save companies that were running out of money.

  16. Regarding the project requirement that the vehicle go to Mars and return. Okay. But does all the crew have to?

    Are there no volunteers for a mission that includes, as the reputational-reward, the chance to be among the first to plant their bones in a grave on Mars? Go, stay, run the equipment needed for re-fueling and finding air and water, making tools and products, growing potatoes in manure … go, live as long a possible upon the new world, die fulfilled, having made a home for others to follow? Some later others of whom, maybe, also stay, and some of whom choose to go back. And maybe even some who commute. And of course for some later posterity that uses the foundations laid near the first graveyard on Mars as a springboard to someplace even farther out.

    An Andy Weir “Martian” scenario, but on purpose.

    • I don’t understand why I keep seeing above-ground buildings being proposed for Mars colonization. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress got it right: just carve the homes out of the bedrock underground. I don’t know the details about Mars, but on the Moon, instead of the wild temperature swings on the surface, there is a stable -27C or so underground, something Siberians or Alaskans are pretty used to dealing with. Living underground also helps with meteorites not breaching and the air not escaping and all that.

      Granted we don’t have those super efficient cutters as in that novel. But I would just send a robot ship that deploys solar panels and deploys a bunch of dog sized robots with either spider legs and just normal drills and similar tools, and they just periodically connect to the solar charger to recharge. And then just wait. They won’t be very quick but in a few years they could carve out a pretty decent underground city. And send the humans only then.

    • @Pouncer:
      Regarding the project requirement that the vehicle go to Mars and return. Okay. But does all the crew have to?

      I don’t know if this project is still alive (last I heard they were having some financial difficulties), but the Mars One Project intends to do exactly that.

  17. @Eugine_Nier: What’s new is how much of the economy is operating in this way. It used to be that large companies went bust due to running out of money rather than due to being the subject of a WSJ expose. Heck, there used to be a whole cottage industry of turnaround specialists who would use drastic measures to save or attempt or save companies that were running out of money.

    Those turnaround specialists still exist. There are various outfits who are subjects of controversy who buy distressed companies and use drastic measures to turn them around, with the intent of selling them for a hefty profit once they are a going concern again. (Bain Capital is probably an apposite example, though that’s not all they do.) .The turnaround measures tend to include downsizing and large layoffs, so they aren’t well thought of. The fact that if they didn’t intervene, the company would go belly up and everyone would be out of a job doesn’t seem to penetrate to the objectors.

    Another tactic is the Leveraged Buyout, where the company is taken private to escape market demands for results the company can’t produce, and the restructuring takes place under the radar. (A grimly amusing example is Dell computers, who went private in a LBO to escape market demands it couldn’t meet. But recent tax law changes have made that status untenable, so Dell is looking at an IPO to get back into the public markets.)

    But there are also those who do their best to cover up the losses and keep everyone from realizing the company is running out of money, using fraudulent accounting to disguise the truth and get financing. That sort gets the WSJ expose.

    Again, this is nothing new.

    >Dennis

  18. Technical site layout note: long comment threads are hard/inconvenient ro read in this site layout as comment’s lines get broken at a word or two length and so are the squares around them. This make one read a line vertically.

  19. ESR:
    guix.gnu.org/blog/2019/joint-statement-on-the-gnu-project/

    They’re really trying to take everything from RMS.

    • https://ethicalsource.dev/

      “The Ethical Evolution of OpenSource”

      Also Christine Peterson created the opensource movement (by extension: all free software), according to the white women. Maaaallleeesssssssss had nothing to do with it.

      I told you not to have the women involved. Men do all the actual work; the women take the credit and rule over the men. That’s how whites live. Man = beast. Woman = slavemaster.

    • The reason why has a lot less to do with his views on Epstein (many gender studies theorists have even more horrifying views about child sexuality and paedophilia) or his “behavior” towards women and more to do with the fact that he would not adopt a Code of Conduct for the GNU Project. Stallman is a lefty in the vein of Chomsky. He puts individual rights and freedoms first. Codes of Conduct are mainly tools for social-justice enforcement and are promoted by those who favor social justice over individual liberty.

      • @Jeff Read: The coverage I saw relating to RMS’s resignation from his position at MIT left me thinking his real problem was being clueless enough about the politics to defend Epstein on an internal MIT mailing list. His defense may be factual and accurate, but the lynch mob convened to pillory Epstein will not accept it – it is contrary to their world view and agenda. By defending Epstein, he became another to be cast into the Outer Darkness.

        It’s possible RMS understood what can of worms he was opening and what might occur. I’ve met him, and doubt it. ESR knows him far better and may be able to provide a better picture.

        >Dennis

        • >It’s possible RMS understood what can of worms he was opening and what might occur. I’ve met him, and doubt it. ESR knows him far better and may be able to provide a better picture.

          I don’t think he clued in either.

        • My short response is that the Epstein thing was the cover needed for an ouster that was a long time coming.

          My longer response would involve mentioning that RMS never defended Epstein, he defended Minsky. Epstein he thought of as a “serial rapist”. The fact that RMS’s opinion had to be creatively edited by the press to create a more sensational story should be a clue. Journalists collaborate with SJWs all the time; google “GameJournoPros”.

        • > RMS’s resignation from his position at MIT left me thinking his real problem was being clueless enough about the politics to defend Epstein on an internal MIT mailing list.

          What’s publicly available about MIT Media Center’s financing looks downright skeevy. It doesn’t have the right smell for “money laundering”, but there’s a bunch of things about it that I find questionable.

          It’s entirely possible that, far from being clueless, Stallman has chosen to leave before people start poking around asking pointed questions nobody wants to answer.

          • Well, while I was at MIT, the Media Lab had the reputation for mostly producing presentations catering to suits and journalists. With most of their experiments consisting of badly duplicating work done by more competent researchers elsewhere at the institute.

      • > Stallman is a lefty in the vein of Chomsky. He puts individual rights and freedoms first.

        Chomsky is a syndicalist and a socialist, he doesn’t give a fig about “rights” and “freedoms”.

  20. ESR: https://daringfireball.net/2019/10/correction_regarding_an_erroneous_allegation

    Apparently you “smelled disgusting”, according to a proud white woman, though she doesn’t quite recall:

    Quote:

    > OMG, I was referring to the guy on our board, so it must have been Eric Raymond. I’m so sorry. I did conflate them. I guess I assumed there were not two creepy guys talking about free and open software.
    >
    > I’m positive it was Eric Raymond. In retrospect, I don’t know for sure if he smelled or if the woman I worked with and who was propositioned by him merely found him disgusting.

    Can you just sue all these women for libel, please.

  21. [popped out for readability]

    However, I caution against trying this with Chinese unless you have Frodo ear – that is, you know you can accurately recognize and reproduce speech sounds that are not in the inventory of a language you speak. It’s easy in Japanese, which has as simple and regular a sound system as Italian or Finnish. But Chinese phonology is tricky, you could easily end up with your best effort producing a wince-inducing parody – and that’s before we even get to the tone contours.

    I wonder how well I’d do. Mom was born and raised in Hanoi, and Dad worked as a Vietnamese translator in the Army. They’d speak to each other every so often. I picked up a little Vietnamese, nowhere near enough to make complete sentences, but I did hear enough of it that I think I’m familiar with its inventory. Combine with a lifetime of playing the piano and being irritated when people sing off-key, and I’d say I’ve got tonals down. I can even do that weird “Nguyen” sound that makes me want to blow my nose afterward.

    So now I’m wondering if Chinese would have anything I couldn’t notice. (Or mimic, which is another issue. I hear rolled Spanish Rs just fine, but I have the hardest time saying them.)

    Also, I know there have to be a lot of Chinese dialects, but I couldn’t name one except by luck. And I imagine Xi speaks what would be their analog to Midwestern English.

    • @Paul Brinkley: Also, I know there have to be a lot of Chinese dialects, but I couldn’t name one except by luck. And I imagine Xi speaks what would be their analog to Midwestern English.

      There are a variety. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_varieties_of_Chinese

      Xi will speak standard Mandarin, which is effectively the court language in which law and politics are conducted, and likely will use simplified Chinese characters to write in it. Other dialects will be spoken in various areas. The thing that made China possible was that while various areas might speak mutually incomprehensible dialects, they all used the same ideograms to write it.

      (And to some folks in China, Mandarin is the tongue of the oppressors who conquered their area and became the rulers.)

      Analogous issues exist in India, where something like thirty mutually incomprehensible languages are spoken. Hindi is the court language, and business is conducted in English, so it all sort of works, and India is an actual country.

      >Dennis

      • >There are a variety.

        Also note, Paul, that the degree of mutual comprehensibility between Chinese “dialects” is not high. I’ve heard it said that, for example, Mandarin and Cantonese are about as divergent as German and Spanish. If not for political insistence, “Chinese” would be an entire language family with a pretty high level of internal variety.

        While Chinese is at an extreme in this regard (along with Arabic), “languages” that are actually collections of mutually incomprehensible dialects flying in loose formation are not unknown in Europe. Italian is the example I know from personal experience – even when I was reasonably fluent in Tuscan (the national standard, more or less) I couldn’t make out barely a word in Sicilian.

        Typically in these cases you get a cladelike structure where geographic adjacent dialects are largely mutually intelligible but divergence increases with distance; if I had known Calabrian dialect I could probably have stumbled my way through Sicilian, and vice-versa.

        It’s also typical for native speakers in contexts like that to be diglossic, moving relatively easily between their local dialect and a national standard language. I have no doubt those Sicilians would automatically have spoken intelligible Tuscan at me if they thought I needed to understand them – they might not even have been consciously aware they were code-switching when they did so.

        There are variations. Mandarin, Tuscan Italian, and Standard German have significant native-speaker populations. Modern Standard Arabic, by contrast, isn’t really a street dialect anywhere; it’s what people on television and in movies speak.

        The dialect spread in English is really quite narrow compared to most languages. You can find mutually unintelligible pairs of local dialects, but you have to work at it harder than in most other languages. And effectively every speaker can also produce a tolerable approximation of either Standard American or BBC English.

        • “Entire language family” in the sense of Germanic or Romance, you’re saying? I can buy that.

          And, arrrrrgh. This was an actual point of contention at trivia last Thursday. We had to list the ten most commonly spoken languages in the US, and while brainstorming, I mentioned both Mandarin and Cantonese, and we blundered into just putting Cantonese which was counted as singular Chinese by the emcee – and probably counted against several teams. (What really flummoxed me? German doesn’t make the top ten.)

          You say effectively every speaker can do Standard American; I’m not quite that sure. A friend told of a documentary, I think maybe back in the 1990s, of American accents. The Appalachians required a translator. I’m not sure I believe it, but I’ve heard how isolated they can be.

          • >“Entire language family” in the sense of Germanic or Romance, you’re saying? I can buy that.

            Yeah. Actually broader than that – there’s almost as much divergence in Chinese “dialects” as there is in the entire Western end of the Indo-European family.

            >(What really flummoxed me? German doesn’t make the top ten.)

            German is one of those languages that has been almost completely ineffective at spreading out of its “heimat” – term linguists use for ancestral homeland. Germanic languages are notoriously bad at this, with the sole exception of English.

            >The Appalachians required a translator.

            But they don’t talk that way when they’re not in the mountains, unless you ask them to. Take ’em down a few thousand feet and the accent lightens a lot. That’s kind of your clue that Appalachian is less a dialect than an accent or what sociolinguists call a “speech register”, one of several sets of speech production habits a user of one language carries around to be elicited by different social circumstances.

            • I think AAVE is the same. The “white voice” from Sorry to Bother You is a thing.

              In college I befriended one of the cafeteria ladies. She was black. One day I overheard her talking to a coworker, also black, and found them quite unintelligible. I said to her, “You whiten your speech when I’m around, don’t you? Because my white ears can’t understand when you’re talking to your friends.”

              Similarly, many years ago there was a TV special on with longtime friends Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King. The accents of both women were more pronounced when they were talking to each other than what they used in their general-audience television appearances (King was a Connecticut news anchor at the time.)

          • @Paul Brinkley: “Entire language family” in the sense of Germanic or Romance, you’re saying? I can buy that.

            Yep. It gets odder than that. I talked to a guy years back who described a construction project on Montreal. The construction workers would mostly be French speaking Metis. The project hired French foremen from Paris. The version of French spoken in Quebec has diverged remarkably little from the French spoken in Paris when the French colonized Canada. The version spoken in Paris currently has diverged a lot. They wound up sending back the French foremen and hiring English speaking foremen, so at least it was explicit that different languages were being spoken. :-p

            Arabic is another can of worms. I believe there are parts of the Koran no one currently alive can understand, because they are in a really ancient Arabic dialect. And some Arabic dialects have diverged enough that some linguists think they now are different languages. The closest thing to a standard Arabic is the flavor spoken on Egyptian TV, which is seen throughout much of the Arab world. But as Eric commented, it’s not what the locals speak at home.

            The linguist joke is that a language is a dialect with an army and navy.

            Germanic and Romance languages are all part of an overall family called Indo European. Linguists have identified a proto Indo-European language from which they all derived, and using sophisticated techniques have been able to compile a vocabulary of about 2,500 words. (It’s complicated by the fact that proto language apparently had a consonant that has since disappeared.) A recent read here is “The Horse, the Wheel, and Language”. The questions about the proto Indo European language are who spoke it, when was it spoken, and were did the speakers live? The author is an archeologist (and married to a linguist, IIRC,) who thinks he’s discovered the answers to those questions.

            There is no way Cantonese alone should be accepted as singular Chinese. And yes, Cantonese and Mandarin are quite different. A friend speaks Mandarin, and commented about the amount of Cantonese used in Chinatown stores. One reason is that Cantonese is rich in curses. :-)

            I don’t think every speaker can do Standard American either, in the sense of speaking it, though all should understand it when spoken. When I was in elementary school in Philadelphia, a teacher commented that I had no accent. In fact, I did, but it was the Midwestern standard you heard from TV news anchors. What she noticed was that I didn’t have the local accent. Despite growing up in Philadelphia, I never acquired the local Philadelphia accent. I’ve met folks from elsewhere I am pretty certain could not accurately reproduce a Midwestern Standard accent when speaking. They might come close enough to be understood by someone speaking a dialect far enough removed from theirs that comprehension was difficult, but no one would mistake it for the real thing.

            >Dennis

            • >I believe there are parts of the Koran no one currently alive can understand, because they are in a really ancient Arabic dialect.

              Probably in Syrio-Aramaic, actually. A lot of the Koran is written in Aramaic calques; I blogged about this.

              >A recent read here is “The Horse, the Wheel, and Language”.

              Excellent book, but requires some correction by the paleogenetic evidence. Read my discussion here.

            • >I’ve met folks from elsewhere I am pretty certain could not accurately reproduce a Midwestern Standard accent when speaking.

              Not functionally necessary. I said “a tolerable approximation” of SAE or BBC English because I meant “readily mutually intelligible with a birth speaker of that reference dialect if they tone down their accent a bit”. Or to put it a bit differently, in English most “dialects” are basically accents or speech registers with a fancy hat and a handful of heirloom lexical items.

              Few languages other than English have a dialect spread so narrow that this is true. Sicilian Italian isn’t just an accent, it’s really serious lexical and grammatical divergence. Two Arabs from different regions have to switch to an MSA that nobody normally speaks. Two speakers of “Chinese” can be completely unable to communicate in speech and have to write ideographs.

              English-speakers think our narrow dialect spread is normal, so we class local speech habits as “dialects” based on differences that would seem almost absurdly fine-spun to, say, an Arab. My point is that this is not normal. Not at all. It’s not completely unique – dialect divergence in Spanish is not very high either – but it is highly unusual.

              • My point is that this is not normal. Not at all. It’s not completely unique – dialect divergence in Spanish is not very high either – but it is highly unusual.

                Artifact of globe-spanning empires (British, Spanish) with a strong transmission of ruling culture, coupled with the rapidly-increasing rates of communication as obtained in the last 400 years to act as mutation-inhibitor?

                Which is to say, a cultural language mutation-resistance arrived at via bureaucratic necessity.

          • German is hard to learn for others, but at least English is quite easy to learn for German-speaking people.
            So it was rather natural that the German immigrants switched to English, instead of expecting others to understand them and at least get a basic grip of the grammar.

  22. @esr: Re the distinction between SF and fantasy

    I used to think this was a perpetual religious war too, until Greg Bear actually cracked the problem in 1994. Rough quote:

    It still is a religious war, because the vast majority of folks arguing have never seen Bear’s formulation (and some may not be aware he exists.)

    I just tell folks SF and fantasy are parts of an overarching category called fantastic fiction, and there isn’t a clear dividing line between them. I can think of about six series offhand where the answer to the question “Is this SF or fantasy?” is “Yes.” :-p

    >Dennis

  23. @Jeff Read: You’re not autistic, but I wouldn’t call you neurotypical…

    At the risk of Stallmanesque well-actuallyism, some in the autism advocacy community have coined the term “allistic” to describe those without one of our particular range of afflictions. You may wish to use that term.

    Part of the problem is precisely what is neurotypical. Like a lot of other things in current society, it’s a definition in a state of flux. (And on those lines, I’m not sure there currently is the “normie” society ESR spoke of earlier.)

    Being involved in running SF cons, I interact with a lot of “on the spectrum” folks. For reasons not clear to me, many such attend the cons I run.

    The issues they present are in communications. A major hot button at SF cons currently is males behaving badly to females. A lot of that has roots in being on the spectrum.

    An on the spectrum male attends a con and sees a woman he finds attractive. His mating reflex is stimulated, and “I wonder if she’s willing to have sex with me?” will become a question.

    In our culture, the male is expected to make the first move in the mating dance. He needs to discover whether the object of his attention is legal, available, and willing to have sex with him. The mating dance is initiated.

    Most of the mating dance takes place on a non-verbal level. We discern how people are reacting to us by facial expression, tone of voice, and body language. Many on the spectrum folks simply don’t perceive those cues. They will behave in manners the woman will find offensive because they simply don’t realize they are being offensive. Code of conduct complaints follow and things drop into the toilet.

    My advice to women attending cons like that is that many males there are on the spectrum, and won’t get the non-verbal clues. Their best strategy is to simply say “I’m flattered that you find me attractive but I’m already spoken for and not available Please try elsewhere.” It’s a direct and explicit statement, easily understood, and will probably be a relief to the male involved. He won’t have to guess about how he is perceived.

    Too many women are unwilling to make that direct statement. In some cases it’s social conditioning that you aren’t supposed to be direct in those circumstances. In more pathological cases it’s fear that the rejected male will take possibly violent action against them because she rejected him. Er, not at any SF con I attend, but convincing the woman of that is quite another matter.

    (And I saw a post from an on the spectrum male elsewhere stating that he had learned to interpret facial expressions, but was backing off from trying in many cases. It was hard work, because what other folks do on an unconscious reflex level was something he had to consciously consider while interacting with others. Conscious bandwidth was limited, and attempting to understand facial expressions competed with the reasons he was interacting in the first place and what was needed to accomplish what he was attempting to do.)

    >Dennis

    • “My advice to women attending cons like that is that many males there are on the spectrum, and won’t get the non-verbal clues.”

      That looks a lot like the “excuse” for violence against women you hear in Arab cultures: Men cannot control themselves, so women are to blame when they are violated.

      If you are bright enough to visit a con/conference etc., you should have learned to control yourself. If you cannot read the non-verbal cues, then you should wait until you get the right verbal cues.

      And for what it is worth, I understand that women consider almost all men to be “on the spectrum”, at least compared to women.

    • No. You don’t understand it, unfortunately. The situation is not like a man of average attractiveness not picking up cues (because he is from a different culture etc.) Rather most autistic men are considered by women so extremely unattractive, they react with a strong visceral disgust to not only any indication of sexual interest, but even to the very idea that such a critter has sexual interests at all. It is probably the “genes like this shouldn’t be reproduce, ever” evolutionary module firing on max output.

      And we are living in age where people think they are not responsible for their own emotions, their emotions are automatic reactions to the actions of others. In an age where people say “you made me feel sad” and mean it very literally. This emotivism or subjectivism or dunnowhat is typical of this age. People forget that you can learn to control your emotions e.g. with meditation. So if an action of another person made one feel bad, it follows the other person did something bad. Hence it is felt as sexual harassment, assault etc.

      Suppose an action must reach -10 utilons / hedons in the person targeted in order to call it harasssment. It means if a man of -1 attractiveness is moderately pushy, 5 push, that is still kinda okay. If a man of -1 attractiveness is pushing hard, 10 push, then it feels like harassment. If a man of -2 attractiveness is pushing moderately, 5 push, feels like harassment. If a man of -10 attractiveness is doing something very very mild and normal, say 1, it also feels like harassment.

      Example: https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/touching-teenage-girl-way-home-17061816

      The old solution was this: lay down clear rules of etiquette. If someone goes beyond, you can complain. If someone does not go beyond but still makes you feel bad: suck it up, ask politely to stop, or just stand up and leave.

  24. My advice to women attending cons like that is that many males there are on the spectrum, and won’t get the non-verbal clues. Their best strategy is to simply say “I’m flattered that you find me attractive but I’m already spoken for and not available Please try elsewhere.” It’s a direct and explicit statement, easily understood, and will probably be a relief to the male involved. He won’t have to guess about how he is perceived.

    My advice to you is to shitcan giving advice to women. They do not like being patronized, or made to feel they have to tolerate behavior that makes them uncomfortable or fearful. Give advice to the nerds instead. Start with “If you don’t know whether a woman is interested in having sex with you, assume the answer is no and move on.”

    Too many women are unwilling to make that direct statement. In some cases it’s social conditioning that you aren’t supposed to be direct in those circumstances. In more pathological cases it’s fear that the rejected male will take possibly violent action against them because she rejected him. Er, not at any SF con I attend, but convincing the woman of that is quite another matter.

    This is not a pathological case. Violent retaliation against women who reject men is common enough that it is now considered a woman’s right to say nothing or to “ghost” any man she isn’t interested in, if not something of an imperative for her own self-preservation.

    Read the room, mate. The new standard adopted by society is zero tolerance for creepy behavior. If you have a history of making women feel threatened or uncomfortable, then you are considered a danger to all women and society will want nothing to do with you. Every man is Schrödinger’s rapist until he proves himself trustworthy beyond any doubt. Just because you have good intentions doesn’t mean you will even get a chance to prove yourself. Tough. Life isn’t fair. (Also a good one to tell your autistic friends.)

    You have a choice before you: Run a con that’s welcoming to women, or run a con that’s welcoming to creepy nerds. You have to choose one. You can’t have both.

    (And I saw a post from an on the spectrum male elsewhere stating that he had learned to interpret facial expressions, but was backing off from trying in many cases. It was hard work, because what other folks do on an unconscious reflex level was something he had to consciously consider while interacting with others. Conscious bandwidth was limited, and attempting to understand facial expressions competed with the reasons he was interacting in the first place and what was needed to accomplish what he was attempting to do.)

    I know that feeling. Programming is a profession that’s gone from being friendly to autistics (and even allistic introverts) to almost completely hostile to them, because in the 21st century, software is developed by teams, not individuals, so the emphasis is on communication and collaboration. People skills and EQ are at least as valuable as technical know-how in this space.

    • >Every man is Schrödinger’s rapist until he proves himself trustworthy beyond any doubt.

      “Every woman is a castrating bitch who will plunder your wallet and break your heart.” This doesn’t sound any less paranoid or malignant when it’s turned around – and feminists who actually believe it end up as crazy cat ladies wondering what happened to their fertile period and drowning their sorrows in box wine.

      In fact almost nobody actually believes this; we can tell because if it were a common belief mixed socialization in our culture would look much more like it does in the nastiest low-trust societies where that fear is actually close to being justified.

      We are only told that that “Schrödinger’s rapist” is a widespread belief as a power play, a way to put anyone with a penis at a political disadvantage.

      • “In fact almost nobody actually believes this;”

        If you socialize with grizzlies or big cats, then you must always be on your guard. Reports of people who do socialize with big predators and get mauled are a dime a dozen.

        Men are not grizzlies, but a typical man can kill a typical woman with his bare hands. Many women need time to forget that, especially those who have experienced it first or second hand.

        “In the United States, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44.”
        “An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.”
        http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/domviol/facts.htm

        • Men are not grizzlies, but a typical man can kill a typical woman with his bare hands. Many women need time to forget that, especially those who have experienced it first or second hand.

          Also Winter: “I want to deny women the means to protect themselves”.

          • The women I know prefer to not have to defend themselves by force by a very wide margin.

            Having to shoot someone you know tends to result in trauma. I know some men prefer to shoot people over preventing violence. But women seem to abhor that option.

              • > I see there are elastic uses of words like “people” and “violence” at work.

                Not sure what you are meaning here. I use:
                Violence as in “hospitalization” and “death”.
                People like “85% of domestic violence victims are women. “

                  • If current statistics are reliable, that proportion is approaching 50%, at least in the middle-to-lower-upper-classes who ultimately define common culture.

                    Granted, I have a strong self-bias on this, being a man who was in a physically, and in all other ways, abusive marriage for 19 years, (and I’m not a stereotypical “beta”… I’m rather socially dominant, actually.)

                    Also, one must consider the fact that domestic violence is a huge problem in lesbian relationships.

                    Bottom line, there’s a hell of a lot more going on here than just testosterone.

                    –Shannon

            • The women I know prefer to not have to defend themselves by force by a very wide margin.

              Well that’s nice and all, but you are postulating a world where that simply isn’t an option. I don’t get to make my decisions based on owning a personal starship no matter how much I’d like to have one.

              I know some men prefer to shoot people over preventing violence.

              Cute false dichotomy.

              But women seem to abhor that option.

              I suspect this has more to do with the women you know. Over here rates of concealed carry among women are skyrocketing.

              • “Well that’s nice and all, but you are postulating a world where that simply isn’t an option.”

                I go to meetings, international conferences, where the behavior described here from “cons” is simply not seen. I actually asked several women there and they had never seen that too.

                Neither work-place harassment nor domestic violence are solved by shooting the culprits. The same for obnoxious or dangerous behaviors at “cons”.

                • Men are not grizzlies, but a typical man can kill a typical woman with his bare hands.

                  You really should make up your mind on what context you are talking about.

                  Neither work-place harassment nor domestic violence are solved by shooting the culprits. The same for obnoxious or dangerous behaviors at “cons”.

                  Well domestic violence covers a wide enough range to have both “stern talking to”, and “empty a magazine into the scumbag” as solutions to various problems within it. But for the rest of the quote; doesn’t anyone remember The Slap?

                  Because (via fiction) I remember The Slap. But I guess that is violence and thus no different than torturing someone to death for a week or something.

                  • We used to have this notion of “make the punishment fit the crime” Erasing information about the severity of an offense benefits the wrong groups, and can spell doom for ordinary people. I’ve talked about this before. Note that there are adults on the sex offender registry in the US because they tried to kiss a girl at elementary-school age. And there are also reports of school cops arresting six-year-olds.

                    • Yes, this is a special case of anarco-tyranny. Notice also what happened to Stallman for writing an email that could maybe be construed as defending Epstein, while Epstein’s actual clients seem unlikely to suffer any consequences.

                • Academic or professional conferences have an implied expectation of professional behavior. There is a much more relaxed, casual atmosphere at fandom cons, which have girls dressing up in sexy cosplay, etc.

                  That said, resolving ambiguity about what kinds of casual and social behavior are acceptable at a fandom con, including sexuality/flirtation, etc. is (or rather should be) the reason why these cons adopt codes of conduct.

            • The women I know prefer to not have to defend themselves by force by a very wide margin.

              Of course they do. They outsource the use of force to men. This is part of human nature and why historically, in most societies, war was almost always waged only by men, the women only taking up arms when the homefront was breached and there were no men around to protect them. More to the point, we all would rather not visit harm on another person, if we are civilized people of sound mind. But violence, or the threat thereof, underpins every aspect of even our civilized society, and you can’t abstract it away totally; there will always be the risk that violence will visit you whether you be its perpetrator or its victim.

              There’s a libertarian theory of feminism which states that women’s rights only really became possible in a context of pervasive civilian gun ownership, because a gun allowed a woman to wield force just as effectively as a man. “The great equalizer” as it were.

              If the women in a society were dependent on men for personal protection, as most women were before the gun, then they were beholden to those men for defense of their rights, but the gun upset that balance and made women capable of defending their own rights. And in fact, even if you look at pre-gun societies, those whose martial culture favored the bow over the sword and spear admitted more women warriors.

              Force, or the threat of force, underlies all personal defense, all concept of rights that can be protected, and all concept of law itself. The infrastructure that keeps your Dutch society humming along and the dike pumps turning to keep the sea at bay, all that is paid for with money taken from you and every other Dutch citizen by force. You may not mind it — you clearly (and justifiably) prefer to live in such a society — but that doesn’t make it any less true. If you choose not to pay your taxes, men — with guns — will come and take you away and put you in a cell.

              D’you think the Japanese are so polite and nonviolent are that way because of genetics? Fuck no. They’re that way because centuries ago, a samurai could slice you in half if you looked at him funny, so being polite and showing that you mean no harm became culturally-grained survival traits.

              Even the far left’s thought leaders realized the role of violence in civil society. “Power flows from the barrel of a gun” was a meme coined by frickin’ Mao.

        • Men are not grizzlies, but a typical man can kill a typical woman with his bare hands. Many women need time to forget that, especially those who have experienced it first or second hand.

          Many women in modern Western societies seem to have already forgotten this, if they ever knew it in the first place. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be pushing for women in military combat roles.

      • and feminists who actually believe it end up as crazy cat ladies wondering what happened to their fertile period and drowning their sorrows in box wine.

        Funny how that works. Almost like humans don’t function particularly well when completely alone. Or when they have zero contact with the opposite sex.

        Maybe if they had analyzed humans instead of fish and bicycles they would have noticed that.

      • We are only told that that “Schrödinger’s rapist” is a widespread belief as a power play, a way to put anyone with a penis at a political disadvantage.

        Not everyone with a penis, shitlord. You are making the cisnormative assumption that a penis implies masculinity (or its lack implies femininity).

        (This needs a big /s. I can barely keep a straight face typing that.)

        • Not everyone with a penis, shitlord. You are making the cisnormative assumption that a penis implies masculinity (or its lack implies femininity).

          (This needs a big /s. I can barely keep a straight face typing that.)

          /me blinks in wonderment

          I can remember when you would have earnestly bought into that. The first person I saw the use the word “cisnormative” critically in a conversation I was part of was you.

          What happened? Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

          • Buncha things. One of them was “Sokal Squared”. Lindsey, Boghossian, and Pluckrose — all leftists, all actually interested in the issues SJWs purport to raise — basically did for social-justice academia what “Doctorin’ the TARDIS” did for the British pop charts: showed all and sundry how naked the emperor is, and how you can be accepted and even highly ranked by simply repeating the expected tropes. Their final flourish was to paraphrase a section of Mein Kampf, replacing “Jews” with “men” and “Germans” with “feminists” and adopting the expected lingustic style and citations to other papers in the field. It got accepted into publication in the Journal of Women and Social Work.

            I’m sympathetic to the plight of trans people. They’re more prone to bullying, harassment, rejection, and unprovoked violence, as well as psychological issues. “I’ve never met a trans person who isn’t fucked up somehow” is something I hear from trans people themselves. All of these things deserve and warrant sympathy. But at the end of the day, the trans community constitute a very small segment of the population. That doesn’t diminish the need to protect their rights, but it does mean that “penis=male, vag=female” is an excellent first-order heuristic, most trans people know this, and their doctors certainly do. Like crime rates among the black community, it’s become one of those blind spots of Things You Don’t Talk About for fear that mentioning it might enable bigots.

            That reminds me, stay tuned for when the truscum vs. tucute feud hits the wider community. Basically, truscum believe that gender dysphoria is a necessary condition for trans identity; tucutes do not. The tucutes will probably get the upper hand and excommunicate and deplatform their truscum counterparts from art, fiction, comic, game, and software communities as well as universities, etc. as the majority of the trans community is vilified as “transphobic”.

            Another was the unfolding saga of Zoe Quinn, who really wants to be seen as a top female game developer, comic writer, novelist, whatever she is this week, despite having no appreciable skill at any of these nor interest in developing such skill. Despite having all the earmarks of a poser, chatlogs reveal that she weaponized her “Crash Override Network”, an ostensible antiharassment service, to harass her enemies, ex-boyfriends, and anyone who might expose her, so again, the fact that she is laughably incompetent became a sort of open secret no one was allowed to publicly acknowledge. Her story culminated last month when another game developer committed suicide after she went public with sexual abuse allegations against him. The allegations were revealed to be likely false.

            I thought feminism was supposed to be about removing the obstacles that prevent capable women from doing the same things capable men do, not giving any woman who asks a free pass because vag.

            The third big thing was the Great Linux Struggle Session of 2018, especially when considered as part of a greater effort to neutralize or excommunicate the old-school hackers, which I believe it is — wretched, evil kulaks that those old-school hackers are. You’ll see more shit like this go down.

            I’m a bit surprised myself; I actually used the phrase “long march through the institutions” to describe the effectiveness of open source entryism.

            • >I’m a bit surprised myself; I actually used the phrase “long march through the institutions” to describe the effectiveness of open source entryism.

              You give me hope. Maybe the mind-virus has done so much overt, cumulative damage that its virulence is becoming impossible to hide even from people infected with it.

              Now you’ll get to find out what it’s like to be in my shoes – so easy to see what’s going on, so hard to get anyone to actually break out of their bubble.

              • You give me hope. Maybe the mind-virus has done so much overt, cumulative damage that its virulence is becoming impossible to hide even from people infected with it.

                At the risk of being a broken record… Gamergate really was the set of fifty foot tall flaming letters saying that Tarquin is Evil. Gamers as a culture are even deeper into “stop bothering us and let us do our thing, or at least stop treating us like the literal dregs of society” than even 2A supporters. A lot of people from every part of the political hypercube got woken up. How many can be glimpsed by the number of our current culture warriors who got their start there.

                Trump came along a couple years later and underlined it. All the “zomg gamergate my-soggy-knees elected Trump!1!!!” stories were “false but accurate”.

                The failure of the Long March is now certain. The question is how much Fire & Blood we can avoid, and how many things will be rejected because in the past they became skinsuits for said march.

                • Gamergate in many ways was the most successful operation of the MRA’s, they had a slight change of tactics just before then and I know for a fact that a bunch of them invaded en mass when it kicked off.

                  They gave the gamers a bunch of the structure of how they were going to be attacked and the talking points of how to fight back.

                  You can still see remnants of this popping up in the culture today, watch the last Dave Chappelle special and see if you can spot the MRA talking point being slipped in that I thought would be another 10 years before it entered the zeitgeist :-D

            • Another was the unfolding saga of Zoe Quinn, who really wants to be seen as a top female game developer, comic writer, novelist, whatever she is this week, despite having no appreciable skill at any of these nor interest in developing such skill.

              “This will be no mere personality schism, though… Rapture’s genius will be held within her DNA, able to shift into desired patterns at will. A Utopian cannot be confined to a single throw of the genetic dice. When needed, she is a composer. A dancer. An engineer. She truly will be the People’s Daughter.”

              Except, you know, without any of the relevant skills.

            • Wow, Sarah Mei is a treat:

              PSA: “diversity of thought” is always used disingenuously. It’s in the same category (& used by the same people) as terms like “SJW” and “PC.”

              “Diversity of thought” basically means they’re going to get a bunch of white men together who disagree about stuff.

              I can smell the totalitarianism from here. But that’s probably another word she’ll tell us we’re not allowed to use.

              Is she trans or just homely?

              • “Diversity of thought” basically means they’re going to get a bunch of white men together who disagree about stuff.

                Which is completely different from the picture of (I think) Vox editors having a meeting. The one with a dozen plus identical white women how all think the same thing.

                Or that someone like Herman Cain got taken out ASAP. Or any other of the endless list of examples.

            • I’m sympathetic to the plight of trans people.

              So am I, in much the same way I’m sympathetic to the plight of schizophrenics. Doesn’t mean one should indulge their delusions.

              • ” Doesn’t mean one should indulge their delusions.”

                I for one believe trans people when they say their transformation was the best thing they ever did.

                The hallmark is mental disease is unhappyness. Most Trans people feel much better after transformation. Many can even be considered cured, if you consider them ill before.

                  • Yep, people often regret medical decisions. Even life saving ones.

                    In my country, no irreversible treatments are performed until children reach the age of 18.

                    Even good psychological care will not prevent some people making decisions they regret later on.

                    I do not know why these people regret their change. I have seen reports from (born again) religious people who regret it out of fear for god or their community. Some cannot cope with the discrimination by family and relatives. And some will simply regret what they decided earlier.

                    And many are happy with the change.

                • I’m pretty sure some people who cut off other body parts feel much better after their amputations, too.

                • Didn’t you also say:

                  “I’ve never met a trans person who isn’t fucked up somehow” is something I hear from trans people themselves.

                  • You’re confusing me with Winter.

                    I know, I know. It’s not like you have a thing against those of us on the left. It’s just that we all look alike to you.

                    • “You’re confusing me with Winter.”

                      Sorry, but I never said that.

                • Far as I know, gender transition is the only thing that seems to help. And as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else, why not?

                  Where things get sticky is in things like transgendered women competing in women’s sporting divisions. The powerlifter Janae Kroc, for instance — formerly Matt Kroc — still has a physique that will enable her to outlift any cisfemale powerlifter even in her weight class. There was recently a study that suggested transmen — people who were born female and are on testosterone — were outclassed athletically by transwomen — people who were born male and have NO testosterone, except maybe trace amounts introduced through their HRT.

                  I expect the results of this study to be quashed.

                  • >Far as I know, gender transition is the only thing that seems to help. And as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else, why not?

                    Um, because the gender reassignment fad is spilling onto children who are being pushed into surgery before they’re anywhere near competent to make their own decisions about the matter?

                    The politics of transgenderism and how it interacts with left-liberal virtue signaling has turned into a monster that mutilates little kids. I don’t have many referents for “pure evil” outside of Communism and Naziism, but I think this counts as one.

                    • “Um, because the gender reassignment fad is spilling onto children who are being pushed into surgery before they’re anywhere near competent to make their own decisions about the matter?”

                      Which is plain nonsense. What does happen is that after due psychiatric evaluation, puberty is delayed until the children are old enough to decide on a transformation.

                      “The politics of transgenderism and how it interacts with left-liberal virtue signaling has turned into a monster that mutilates little kids.”

                      Which is a clear demonization of doctors and parents.

                      It is clear that human suffering has to take a back seat with you to ideological hatred.

                    • >Which is plain nonsense.

                      Is it? Consider this.

                      I have friends who are trans, and have for decades. While my skepticism that reassignment surgery is actually a good thing for them has increased recently, I think adults should be free to make their own decisions in the matter without interference from me or anyone else.

                      Minors under the knife or being given puberty blockers is another matter. I don’t hate trans people, but I am beginning to seriously hate trans activists.

                    • “Is it? Consider this.”

                      I do not see 21 years as sacred.

                      For cosmetic, and other, surgery the age level is 18, and even cosmetic surgery is allowed under 18. Furthermore, the trans cases I see are where teenagers get puberty blocking drugs until they reach the age of consent. If they decide not to follow up, puberty will set in delayed but otherwise normally.

                      “Minors under the knife or being given puberty blockers is another matter. ”

                      Then you should listen to trans children having to go through puberty in a body they abhor. Suicide risks are considerable. Puberty blockers are harmless compared to that.

                      The alternative to puberty blockers is years of heavy anti-depression medication and psychotherapy.

                      Your ideas about “virtue signaling” make their parent look like psychopaths.

                      But I think that is your central idea: All lefties are psychopaths.

                    • But I think that is your central idea: All lefties are psychopaths.

                      Well, they are making it damn hard to falsify the proposition….

                    • “Well, they are making it damn hard to falsify the proposition….”

                      Dehumanizing the opposition is the upshot of genocide.

                      But then, the GOP, the champions of the Right, already locked up children, including babies, in cages, and installed concentration camps.

                      So why should I be surprised by this answer?

                    • But then, the GOP, the champions of the Right, already locked up children, including babies, in cages,

                      Sorry, Obama was not a member of the GOP.

                    • @Eugine Nier
                      “Sorry, Obama was not a member of the GOP.”

                      Nope that was Trump and the GOP that locked up children in cages. I know that Trump still claims Obama is in charge, but that is his personal delusion. Whether you want to share in his delusions is your personal choice. That still does not make these delusions real.

                      Also, the GOP is responsible for its own human rights violations. Whether or not others did it too is never an excuse.

                      https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/06/23/trump-falsely-says-obama-started-family-separation/1540733001/

                      PS, the fact that Trump and you have to resort to lying about this already shows us the devious nature of USA conservatism.

                    • >PS, the fact that Trump and you have to resort to lying about this already shows us the devious nature of USA conservatism.

                      Trump was not lying in this case. The Obama administration really did start the family-separation stuff. When this first became a public issue the press embarrassed itself by screaming Trump Trump Trump while running “kids in cages” photos that turned out to be from 2014 – two years before Trump was in office, let alone before separating the kids was applied to a wider class of border-jumpers.

                      Probably a good thing, too, though I am not certain of this. A shocking percentage of those kids seem to have been trafficked to illegals not their actual parents.

          • Need to get him to a GwG. I don’t think it will take much to get him chanting “Repeal the NFA”.

    • > My advice to you is to shitcan giving advice to women. They do not like being patronized, or made to feel they have to tolerate behavior that makes them uncomfortable or fearful.

      That’s funny. I’ve been told loudly, vehemently, repeatedly, insistently and quite patronizingly that part of living in modern society is that I very much do have to tolerate increasingly many behaviors that make me uncomfortable or fearful, backed up by both legal and extralegal force of “antidiscrimination”.

    • Violent retaliation against women who reject men is common enough

      Presumably using the same math that says we have a mass shooting every day in the US.

        • Yes, and most of those are in the, ahem, diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. Not the kind of people who attend cons.

          • Maybe that’s because racists intent on mass shootings find their favorite targets in “diverse and vibrant” neighborhoods.

            • Now you need to explain why so many of the Diverse and Vibrant are so murderously racist towards their fellow Diverse and Vibrant.

              Or stop lying about the frequency of mass shootings by lumping them in with the gang warfare your side nurtures so much. That would work too.

              • “by lumping them in with the gang warfare”

                You mean like the “Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting”? Or the “Virginia Beach shooting”, the “STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting”, the “University of North Carolina at Charlotte shooting”, the “Poway synagogue shooting”, or the “Aurora, Illinois shooting”?

                My impression is that you could not care less about the victims, any victims. You only care about the guns.

                • The US is a very large country with a disproportionately large violent underclass, and so there’s about forty murders in the US every day. It is impossible to care about every victim. If you want to hold up “The X shooting” the onus is on you to argue the positive case for why that particular set of murders deserves positive attention, especially if the shooting is much less than forty people and should at the outset be assumed to be cherrypicked from background noise.

                  Much the same as if I held up “Left-handed Nigerian-Americans over six feet tall murdered so-and-so many people this year” – doesn’t justify particular scrutiny of tall left-handed Nigerian-Americans without a lot more attention paid to base rates and other corollaries.

                  FWIW, the first shooting Winter mentions here murdered three people.

                  • @Ex
                    ““The X shooting” the onus is on you to argue the positive case for why that particular set of murders deserves positive attention,”

                    The argument started with “Presumably using the same math that says we have a mass shooting every day in the US.” above where I replied that it was every month. After which comments tried to fake them away by claiming they were all gang war related.

                    The whole point is that the mass-shootings are correlated to extremely high murder rates which are correlated to even higher traffic death tolls, opium crises, and preventable deaths due to lack of medical care.

                    Looking from abroad, I can only conclude that Americans simply do not care much about the life or death of fellow Americans. So they also do not care about yet another school massacre or another 100k deaths from misprescribed opiates.

                    @Ex
                    “The US is a very large country with a disproportionately large violent underclass, ”

                    An underclass which is made and maintained by the USA all by themselves. If your only tool is a gun, all problems become victims.

                    • The whole point is that the mass-shootings are correlated to extremely high murder rates

                      Except this is only true if you include gang shootings as “mass-shootings”, in which case they also correlate with “diversity and vibrancy”.

                      Looking from abroad, I can only conclude that Americans simply do not care much about the life or death of fellow Americans.

                      And looking from abroud at the Netherlands, I can only conclude that the Dutch are perfectly willing to Euthanize their elderly and anyone with a sufficiently serious medical problem to keep costs down in your socialized medial system.

    • You have a choice before you: Run a con that’s welcoming to women, or run a con that’s welcoming to creepy nerds. You have to choose one. You can’t have both.

      The latter is what people used to do (at least for your definition of “creepy nerd”). Then feminists insisted on coming to the cons anyway and then insisted that they change their policies to accommodate them.

      • Hey, I didn’t make the rules, nor did I say I agree with them. I’m just elucidating the rules of $CURRENT_YEAR society as I understand them. Society makes rules, and metes out punishments, above and beyond the law, as it should be. And if the society is pathological, the society is pathological. It still means that in most cases you need to engage with it on its terms, or it will punish you with the tools it has available (exclusion, reputational damage, etc.).

        If you do business in a mafia-controlled part of town, and someone comes to your door demanding you pay protection to your local Don, you’d better pay protection or else. It doesn’t matter that it’s not fair. It doesn’t matter that you shouldn’t have to. In the conditions that prevail right then and there, you will face dire consequences if you don’t pay up, so the smart thing to do is pay up.

    • >Violent retaliation against women who reject men is common enough

      That sounds like diversity at work. 10 against 1 that 95% of it is not done by middle-class whites born somewhere in the West. There was a video a good looking feminist made, walking while a woman in NY, recording all the catcalls and all that. I couldn’t determine the exact ethnicity of the catcallers but it was pretty much the “global south”.

    • Give advice to the nerds instead. Start with “If you don’t know whether a woman is interested in having sex with you, assume the answer is no and move on.”

      You realize this is nuts, right?

      A guy notices a woman across the room. He has no idea whether the woman might like to have sex with him. So he should…. move on?

  25. I absolutely enjoy how while you are on the far left of economic issues you are very based on this stuff. Is there a unifying principle linking the two? Something along the lines of “Robespierre, you idiot, stop guillotining all these sans-culottes?”

    Over on Hackernews, using the term “SJW” can get you in real trouble. The term is what RationalWiki calls a “snarl word”, that is a derogatory word that says more about the user than it does about the target. In this case, if you use the term SJW, you will immediately be considered one of the alt-right (or, worse yet, a member of GamerGate, sworn to harass women wherever they be found) and your opinions can be dismissed readily.

    So when discussing why the SJWs are so damned malicious on Hackernews, I put it like this: there are those on the left who, like Noam Chomsky, favor individual freedom. They believe that private property and corporations impede freedom just as much as governments do. But the dominant current of the left in the USA — and elsewhere — favors social justice over individual freedom, “social justice” roughly defined as “equity for certain groups designated as marginalized”. They cannot even take the concept of freedom of speech very seriously; for example in New York City it is a crime, punishable by $250,000 fine, to use the term “illegal alien”. (Yes, this is super unconstitutional, but until it is ruled so by a court the law stands.) If push comes to shove I start naming names and showing receipts. There’s no need to conspiracy-theorize about SJWs because they can’t even get a proper conspiracy together. They’re so drunk with power that they spill their spaghetti all over Twitter on a regular basis.

    But the bottom line is, I come down on the individual freedom side of this divide at the end of the day. Racism, sexism, and anti-LGBTQ discrimination are all serious issues that need solutions. But overhauling entire cultures to pander to them and punishing people for noncompliance/wrongthink is not the answer. My YouTube suggestions are blowing up with people who tick all sorts of diversity checkboxes (black, queer, female, LGBTQ, etc.) who just want to read a good comic book about Iron Man, or use a dependable Linux distro, or watch Star Trek without being assaulted by whatever lol-so-random meme the bluehairs cooked up at their local Sweetgreen. Who’s looking out for them?

    By the way, the Stallman flap has had the effect of making Hackernews based as fuck (by Hackernews standards anyway). It used to be that so much as insinuating that Coraline Ada Ehmke is up to no good with her CoC would get you downmodded to -4 (the lowest you can get on HN) in a heartbeat. But lately when I’ve called her out and other named individuals, I get voted up.

    • Over on Hackernews, using the term “SJW” can get you in real trouble.

      Yes, unfortunate what happened to it. But given how pwned Sam Altman is, I am not surprised.

      My YouTube suggestions are blowing up with people who tick all sorts of diversity checkboxes (black, queer, female, LGBTQ, etc.) who just want to read a good comic book about Iron Man, or use a dependable Linux distro, or watch Star Trek without being assaulted by whatever lol-so-random meme the bluehairs cooked up at their local Sweetgreen. Who’s looking out for them?

      Are you talking about the people who don’t like what SJWs are doing but will themselves attack anyone who actually fights SJWs?

    • But the bottom line is, I come down on the individual freedom side of this divide at the end of the day. Racism, sexism, and anti-LGBTQ discrimination are all serious issues that need solutions.

      Doesn’t work that way. If you accept the SJW’s premises, their conclusions logically follow.

      For example, if the differences between races on things like IQ and time prefrences are indeed real than “racisms” isn’t a problem and most so-called “racists” are merely acting rationally based on said differences.

      On the other hand, if the differences aren’t real than the observed difference in outcome must be caused by racism; and since we’ve eliminated overt macro-racism decades ago, the differences in outcome must be entirely caused by covert and micro racism, e.g., evil micro-aggression ray emitted by whites. Hence, there is a moral imperative to root out covert and micro racism by drastic means.

      • >Doesn’t work that way. If you accept the SJW’s premises, their conclusions logically follow.

        If you think the actual premises of SJWs have anything to do with anti-sexism or anti-racism or anti-prejudice-of-the-weekism, you haven’t clued in enough yet. Those are just the ideomania’s infective hooks. The actual premise – the purpose of the mind virus – is a level deeper, mostly hidden from the SJWs themselves, and reads roughly like this:

        Individualism, high social trust, all competing religions, free markets, free speech, patriotism, objective science, honesty in language, the biological family, and every other tool or basis on which to resist the totalitarianization of society must be discredited and abolished.

        How do we know this? Because we’ve had decades to observe the mind-virus. The surface memes, the cause of the week or the year, mutate constantly as the ideomania finds more mascot groups to use. The underlying direction and effect of the infection is constant.

        • If you think the actual premises of SJWs have anything to do with anti-sexism or anti-racism or anti-prejudice-of-the-weekism, you haven’t clued in enough yet. Those are just the ideomania’s infective hooks.

          Yes, and I’m talking about SJWism as expressed in the mind of a typical SJW or SJW recruit, as opposed to the whole infrastructure of leftism. And the SJW-memeplex needs to be able to justify itself based on the it’s recruitment hook, which is why said hook also functions as a premise.

          • And the SJW-memeplex needs to be able to justify itself based on the it’s recruitment hook, …

            As long as there is an undertow of “dissent is treason” ready to drown anyone who changes one jot or tittle of dogma… no, it does not. Once a prospective recruit has been hooked and isolated from alternative viewpoints, the linked threat of total social isolation is enough to guarantee any nonsense can be “supported” by the target’s own rationalizations.

            • Both are used. Having a false premise means anything can be justified from it since everything flows from a falsehood. The “dissent is treason” is used to discourage people justifying the opposite of the official position using the false premise.

            • In the spirit of the punishment fitting the crime (even in triviality!) I am unable to upvote the downvote I gave, because “You already voted”.

              • Heh. You’re right. I can’t even undo the downvote I gave myself. :P

                Eric, I’m not sure that “voting on comments” adds anything but noise. Is this a configurable option in the WP theme you’re using?

                • >Eric, I’m not sure that “voting on comments” adds anything but noise. Is this a configurable option in the WP theme you’re using?

                  Yes. Anybody else think it’s adding value?

                  • I like the voting. It shows me how people are responding to comments, and gives me a little dopamine rush when people like mine. I’ve gotten more into Reddit in recent years because I like those fake internet points I get when I make a popular post. But I wouldn’t say they are critically important here.

                  • I’d call the voting mostly harmless and very modestly helpful. My druthers would be to keep the voting but turn off the threading, with “turn off the threading” having the higher preference if the two happen to be linked.

                    • I’d like threading to stay, but with a significantly reduced indent (or a “responsive” theme that turns indenting off on mobile devices).

                    • I think threading is overrated. Threading makes it more difficult to find update comments with a page refresh, and every so often you want to bring together ideas from several threads for a new comment.

                      For threaded comments, sometimes I wish there was a feature that let you set a particular date and time, and allowed you to jump to comments made after that. The default date/time would be the last time you loaded up the page before you refreshed it; perhaps the feature can even keep track of several refresh times….

                  • No.

                    At least here it isn’t doing more than a passive rating though. Reddit’s idea of making your comments more valuable and viewable because they’re more agreeable is terrible by design.

  26. How ’bout: “The Council and the Club” ?

    The Town Council meeting has to be open and more or less inviting to everyone. It may be wise to have a formal code of conduct.

    Clubs are different. They also have codes of conduct, formal or informal, but the meetings do not have to be open and inviting to everyone. Clubs, like cons, exist partly as a place people can go where they like the atmosphere, and like being with people that like that atmosphere. But different clubs are different – for example, ya got the chess club and ya got the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. It would be ridiculous to join a club and then announce that you don’t like the atmosphere, so it must be changed.

    • “Council” isn’t right.

      I was actually thinking of the classic New England town meetings and community association meetings. Professional and academic conferences would seem to be similar. The local Chamber of Commerce meetings, maybe. Families. Labor unions.

      I am thinking most people move to a New England town because they like the town, not because they like the town meeting. The town meetings are important because the people that live in the town want a voice in what happens to it…. Being open to almost everyone in the town, giving people a voice, and being a forum to propose change, are essential aspects of the meetings. (I gather that in practice, they are the most polite, and most boring places on earth.)

      But clubs are generally different – often quite different and not easy to join. Many clubs go to great lengths to only accept the right sort of people and require sponsorship by an existing member… you know, men’s clubs, country clubs, made men, the Hells Angels.

      So, “The Council and the Club” doesn’t work. “The Family and the Fan Club” works. I suppose that the alliteration isn’t essential.

    • I’m glad he is defiant. Why is it that we the hackers who actually write the original code are ruled over by do-nothing presenters (sf conservancy etc, who attacked stallman), do-nothing foundations, and do-nothing random women?

      It wasn’t always like this. We used to rule our “communities”, now we are moderated and banned by people who do not do anything. We are like slaves now.

      • Why is it that we the hackers who actually write the original code are ruled over by do-nothing presenters (sf conservancy etc, who attacked stallman), do-nothing foundations, and do-nothing random women?

        Because, they don’t actually “do nothing”. They spend all day playing political power games.

      • Not all the “random women” are do-nothing. Some of them made valuable contributions. Of course, even Rudi Dutschke said that in order to do the long march through the institutions right, you need to get good at what the institutions do.

        That said, it’s still better to be one of them than a do-nothing man like MikeeUSA, who has seemingly contributed nothing but shitty, ugly game mods and anti-woman screeds.

  27. ESR: Regarding “Bell Labs Plans Big 50th Anniversary Event For Unix ” ( tech.slashdot.org/story/19/10/12/1625237/bell-labs-plans-big-50th-anniversary-event-for-unix )

    Where is RMS? He wrote emacs, and the most often used binutils on *nix OS’s, and gas, gcc, etc. Along with starting the free software movement, which spawned opensource, and got us Linux (which linus has now given away and abdicated).

    • RMS stole Emacs from Gosling — and he never really was a fan of Unix or Bell Labs so I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t show, even without everything else that’s going on.

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