Fuzzy little things that I find interesting.

Political musings from someone who thinks the S-D curve is more important to politics than politicians.

A comment left on Reddit

In response to the link to the following article:

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Science deniers in power are a profound threat to democracy | “You don’t have the option to say you don’t believe E=mc2. It’s true whether or not you believe it.”

What bothers me is the implication that just because there is scientific evidence that a problem exists, that there is only one “scientifically” acceptable political solution to solve the problem.

Politicians, which Dr. Tyson is implicitly attacking with his statement, are charged with the process of coming up with an acceptable solution to issues that face them. For example, take the problem of rising sea levels in Venice, Italy. The city is sinking, and it is causing the tide waters to overflow.

That Venice is flooding is clearly observable. That Venice is sinking is a scientific fact.

But politics is the art of solving this problem. To suggest that there is only one answer here–which we often see when we see people claim our politicians are being anti-science–is absurd. With Venice you can raise the city by injecting material underneath. You can create a sea wall. You can evacuate the city. You can leave it alone and allow the flooding to be a tourist attraction.

Solving Venice’s flooding problem is an engineering problem, not a science problem. Deciding which engineering solution to employ (and how to pay for it and how to coordinate repairs) is a political problem, not a science problem.

Sure, it is true there are sizable numbers of the population who deny scientific opinion when they formulate their solutions. Despite this last week’s protests the problem exists just as profoundly on the Left (with denial of nuclear energy and GMOs just to pick two) as it does on the Right.

And even with the primary issue the Left keeps bringing up that somehow the Right is “anti-scientific”, global warming, it seems to me the Left insists on trying to solve this problem through inter-country wealth redistribution and through greater political controls on the economy (either through regulations or through introducing things like carbon markets). And when someone on the Right points out there may be other engineering solutions to the problem rather than economic ones (which start smelling like top-down economic control), they are lumped in as “deniers”–despite the fact that a sizable percentage of commentators on the Right do not deny the earth is warming.

Worse, when engineering solutions are proposed, or when someone suggests that a warmer climate may be beneficial in some corners of the Earth–they are labeled “deniers”, and worse: the idea of “tipping points” are trotted out.

And let’s be honest: tipping points are inherently unscientific because they presuppose that at some undefined point in the future, at some undefined temperature point, some previously-unobserved phenomenon will take place at a global scale which will ruin any potential benefits of a slightly warmer world.

Tipping points are about as unscientific as they come: most people who write about them sound to me like ancient scholars quoting the Book of Revelations. We will suffer for our sins of consuming too much and being too wealthy by the Earth reaching a tipping point which will shoot up sea levels a hundred feet or cause certain insects to reproduce exponentially.

While flooding and locusts are quite biblical, it strikes me as not very scientific.

Fundamentally it strikes me the version of Scientism that Dr. Tyson is peddling is a close-minded faith that has One True Answer, handed to us by men in lab coats–a high priesthood which decided to start protesting only when it seemed the Trump Administration would cut their funding.

And in the recent protests I didn’t see very many comments about the replication crisis that faces a large amount of scientific research, or anyone discussing the problems with the increased misuse of statistics to test hypothesis and seek correlations without causation. I saw few complaints about errors in modeling as a scientific method, and a number of comments about the scientific method suggests it is reserved for the few, the elite who subscribe to a liberal-elite ideology, rather than being a practice that can be adopted by anyone with a methodological eye and careful record keeping.

By treating Science as a sort of religion with One True Way of Believing–a belief that encompasses everything from one’s personal religious faith to the political agenda and party one is supposed to vote for–I believe people like Dr. Tyson or Mr. Nye are doing science a great disservice. Rather than sharing the lesson that science is about careful observation and formulating a hypothesis which can later be tested (as Mythbusters did), but instead treating Science as a Fundamental Truth that Shall Not Be Questioned–they are actually undermining the core ideas of scientific discovery, and creating a generation of people who will not question the folks in lab coats.

Quote of the day:

Freedom is not simply the right of intellectuals to circulate their merchandise. It is, above all, the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their “betters.”

– Thomas Sowell


The March For Scientism, The Religion

Untangling the March for Science

The ‘war on science’ that I am most concerned about is the war from within science – scientists and the organizations that support science who are playing power politics with their expertise and passing off their naïve notions of risk and political opinions as science. When the IPCC consensus is challenged or the authority of climate science in determining energy policy is questioned, these activist scientists and organizations call the questioners ‘deniers’ and claim ‘war on science.’ These activist scientists seem less concerned with the integrity of the scientific process than they are about their privileged position and influence in the public debate about climate and energy policy. They do not argue or debate the science – rather, they denigrate scientists who disagree with them. These activist scientists and organizations are perverting the political process and attempting to inoculate climate science from scrutiny – this is the real war on science.

The real problem I have with today’s various “Marches For Science” is not that they are marching for science, but something closely related: Scientism, the philosophical (and in some quarters, religious) belief in Science–often without understanding what “Science” really is.

And this fundamental error creates a whole host of problems.

We confuse science spokesmen like Bill Nye–who is an engineer, not a scientist–on pedestals presuming they have a moral and ethical position superior to their opponents.

Nye is a good example of someone who promotes science as a close-minded ideology, not an open search for truth.

We allow activist scientists–many of whom do not have degrees in the topics they opine about–to drive political debate without acknowledging the potential validity of the opposition.

One problem is that many of the marchers apparently believe that scientific evidence necessarily implies the adoption of certain policies. This ignores the always salient issue of trade-offs.

And this religion of Scientism has its acolytes, the protesters who believe in a close-minded ideology with priests and priestesses who pronounce from the altars of Science the unquestioned Truth.

Here, the march organizers offer little help. As they portray the world, there are only two kinds of people: pro-science and anti-science. Likewise, there are only two ways of acting: on the basis of science—facts, truth, data, evidence—or unscientifically, in accordance with ideology, self-interest, or mere caprice. “Political decision-making that impacts the lives of Americans and the world at large,” the march website declares, “should make use of peer-reviewed evidence and scientific consensus, not personal whims and decrees.”

And of course it ignores the real problems we’re seeing in the scientific realm.

A true “march for science” might tackle problems like the “replication crisis” or “confirmation bias.”

A real “March for Science” would celebrate scientific puzzles, disagreements, and competing ideas rather than fear them.

The March for Science has unleashed many things, that will be clarified with some distance and analyses from different perspectives. Hopefully some of these things are for the good of science, but I fear substantial backlash may be the main result of all this.

I don’t think there will be a backlash, because it’s very apparent to most of us what the “March for Science” really is.

A thinly veiled political attack on conservatives by liberals who are trying to use the fig leaf of science to promote liberal values.

When you say “hate speech is not protected by the first amendment”, what you are really saying is that violence against speakers you don’t like is justified by the Constitution.

And I don’t think that’s correct, Governor Dean.

No, Gov. Dean, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire does not recognize a “hate speech” exception

I’m pleased to say that I have read Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942), which is usually cited as recognizing a “fighting words” exception to the First Amendment — personally addressed face-to-face insults that are likely to start an imminent fight are not constitutionally protected. But that has little to do with “hate speech” as most people tend to use the phrase: (1) Such personal insults are constitutionally unprotected entirely without regard to whether they are bigoted. (2) Bigoted expressions of opinion that don’t involve such personally addressed face-to-face insults are constitutionally protected. (3) Indeed, statutes that target only bigoted “fighting words” for special punishments are constitutionally unprotected, even if they are limited to such personally addressed face-to-face insults, see R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992).

Indeed, “fighting words” as defined here–the supposed “hate speech” exception that Governor Dean is referring to–does not actually require hateful speech or even general insults as we think of them.

For example, “Let’s take this outside” would be fighting words if, in the context in which they are used, they refer to starting a fight rather than taking out a trash can.

Writing Prompt Time

Prompt: [WP] you can make wishes by keeping a neutral level karma. When you make a wish, you have to do good deeds till your karma is balanced again. One day you make a wish, you you find out your karma is overflowing in good. Now you have to do bad deeds to bring it back down.

“I didn’t mean to do it. Now, I really have no choice.”

It started when I discovered the sphere. Covered with ancient-looking runes, I discovered that by rubbing it I could wish for whatever I wanted. There was a catch, however. There is always a catch.

Wish for a million dollars? No problems; the money mysteriously shows up in your checking account. Want a gigantic mansion? The deed somehow shows up in your name, and keys show up in the mail. Wish for anything you want–and somehow it happens, but happens in a way that simply appears like it was just going to happen.

But the catch is that for every thing you wish for, you must then “work it off” by doing good. That first million dollars I wished for? I must have spent a year working at a local food bank working off the karma. Of course it took me another year to sort out what I needed to do; for the first six months all I knew was that every time I picked up the mysterious sphere, it glowed an angry shade of red.

The mansion–well, it was more a modest house in a nice neighborhood–I had to pay off in a soup line feeding the homeless. The nice car took less: a trip down to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina distributing blankets to people who lost their homes.

But after a while I got into the groove of things.

“You see,” I explained, “after a while you start feeling empathy for those you are required to help. The happiness in a small child’s eyes when he gets his first Christmas present after so many years without will warm even the coldest heart.”

I considered the man sitting in front of me. “I think it’s why I made my mistake.”

You see enough hungry, homeless, needy people going by asking for a small cup of broth or a piece of stale bread, and it’s hard not to wish for something to help.

Of course I had no idea that the karma associated with the wish didn’t come from the thing you wish for, but how you intended to use a thing.

So when I heard about the regional Food Bank in my area undergoing a massive shortage thanks to a flood which caused a third of the people in my state to go homeless, I wished for ten million dollars.

To help them.

“I had no idea,” I explained. “I wish I understood what I know now.”

The check was made out to the Food Bank, and then I went back to feeding the homeless in the food line, figuring that sum of money would require a lot of effort on my part. After a few months, I went home to see my progress by checking with the sphere.

But this time, instead of an angry red, it glowed a bright baby blue.

And I knew how I screwed up.

“You see, if it weren’t for the tornado that swept through downtown causing a massive influx of homeless people, I wouldn’t need to balance the scales. You understand, right? That I have to do something monumentally bad in order to balance the scales?”

The homeless man sitting in front of me was tied to a chair, a cloth stuffed in his mouth. On a table next to him was the sphere. And a knife.

“I know this will hurt. But in the long run, how many thousands of people like you will I be able to help?”

I usually don’t share links like this.

But I like good Science Fiction. And good Science Fiction is fiction which uses science (spaceships, interstellar flight, alien civilizations, artificial intelligence) to explore the edges of culture and of civilization. Great Science Fiction use these things as metaphors or as obstacles to overcome–and in that allow us to explore “what-if” hypotheticals which explore the edges of who we are.

Some of that can be quite uncomfortable. Some of it can be quite counter-intuitive. But all of it is great.

So when I share the link below, I do it with two purposes.

First, because I love a good read.

And second, if we declare certain elements of culture as “off limits” no matter how uncomfortable: if we, for example, declare an argument against abortion, a book which explores racism, or a plot which celebrates gender differences as “wrong-think”, we’ve shrunk the circle of things we can explore. We’ve limited our ability to explore uncomfortable themes.

We shoot ourselves in the foot thinking it will make us more comfortable to limit ourselves to our own comfortable back yards.

So here’s a link. Give it a go, and win some free books.

Even books which may make you uncomfortable.

Hell, it’s not like I’m peddling truly evil shit, like copies of “Mein Kampf” or “Das Capital”–though sadly I suspect there are plenty of people who would refuse to click on the link above who would love to have free copies of those books.

It depends on what “consumption” is, really.

The headline from Boing Boing is very typical of the discussions surrounding global warming and the need for a radical “rethinking” of modern capitalism.

You can’t consume your way out of global warming

One of the fundamental problems I personally see with a lot of discussions on this topic–as well as other shibboleths of the Left (such as income inequality and other issues surrounding social justice) is a misapprehension as to what “wealth” is, how wealth grows within a society, and how overall welfare of a society depends on this wealth.

The biggest problem most people have is that they basically don’t understand what wealth is.

To a classical Marxist (as well as many later thinkers), wealth is bound in the raw resources of the land and in the effort necessary to convert those raw materials into some useful item, such as a home or an article of clothing. Wade through dense babble such as this, and you arrive at the conclusion that wealth is determined by the value of certain resources (such as fabric or wheat) and the labor used to convert those resources into something useful (such as a dress or a loaf of bread).

The more labor put into the object, the more valuable it is and, vice versa, if the production of an object only takes a little effort, it is only worth a little.

If you look up the definition of wealth on Wikipedia, you find a slightly different variation of the same thing. Wealth is the surplus of resources or possessions. Depending on the context, it could mean natural resources or it could refer to money (and proxies for money), or it could refer to savings or the value of real estate.

To an economist, wealth is related to the desirability of a thing. For example, a hungry man who desires a loaf of bread may then exchange something else someone else wants (money) for the thing he wants (bread)–and literally thousands of books and millions of pages have been spent explaining how this simple swap of desirable things leads to modern economies.

None of these concepts are wrong, at least on a very narrow level.

But when discussing the evolution of society–when discussing how we have, through the creation of wealth, moved from living in caves to living in high rises–none of these definitions are really adequate.

As we know from simple supply and demand analysis, an excess of supply satisfies demand, and thus drives down the price of a product. You simply cannot crank out shoes or shirts or car breaks indefinitely, with every shoe or shirt or break having the same value as the previously produced one.

After all, how many shoes does the world really need right now? A billion? A hundred billion? Ten trillion?

At some point, shoes stop being a valuable and useful commodity and start becoming landfill–a waste of resources and of the time to produce them.

This is, by the way, how the Soviet Union fell. If (as a historic materialist would have it) wealth is resources plus the labor to produce a thing, then it doesn’t matter if the current 5 year plan produces an excess of shoes. There is wealth in the excess. The homeless who scrounge the landfills where the excess production is sent are the richest men in the world.

And while desirability does help explain the modern economy far better than simply assuming a product is worth what labor and materials were used to produce a thing–it helps explain a Picasso, for example–desirability alone is inadequate to our understanding. Just because crystal clear glass was highly desirable to 12th century consumers doesn’t mean anyone made money selling crystal clear glass–it simply did not exist until the folks on the island of Murano discovered techniques for creating and blowing crystal clear glass in the 14th century.

Certainly those 12th century consumers would have loved to own an iPhone.

Wealth, at least when talking about the evolution of society and the growing wealth in places like the United States, does not strictly come from natural resources or from labor.

It comes from knowledge.

It comes from knowing how to produce more exotic forms of fabrics and more exotic forms of rubber, synthesized using methods discovered using science and implemented by chemical engineers. It comes from knowing how to create machinery that can shape those fabrics into specialized shapes while minimizing waste, moulding the synthetic rubber into a more useful shape. It comes from creating a factory layout which allows workers to produce not just shoes, but high quality tennis shoes or running shoes or a dozen other types of shoes depending on use.

It comes from discovering the right mix of soda ash and the right quartz pebbles to use in the right proportion and heated to the right temperature to produce 14th century Murano glass–a secret Venice tried to preserve by prohibiting glass maker from leaving–and by putting to death those who attempted to share knowledge.

What makes an iPhone valuable is not the Chinese workers who assembled the parts from parts created from all over the world. What makes an iPhone valuable is the knowledge behind the design, the software that it runs, the men and women who crafted and engineered and created not just the device, but all the processes used to help assemble it.

Why we’re all clothed rather than running around in thread-bare rags is because of a series of inventions starting with primitive looms to the creation of automated power looms, leading to cheap cloth and eventually cheap clothing. In the 17th century a fine gown would cost as much as a new automobile today. Nudity laws existed in California from the 1800’s simply because the natives in California could not afford to cover themselves. Today even the poorest of us own clothing, and we take clothing so for granted that we have laws against people going without.

And the power looms themselves can be assembled from raw materials by anyone, assuming, of course, they have the right knowledge and experience machining the right parts and assembling them in the right way.

Knowledge drives wealth and arguably knowledge is wealth.

So when I read the shibboleths of the Left arguing against consumption, arguing against wealth creation, arguing about the evils of wealth inequality–I really have to wonder what the fuck they are thinking.

Wealth creation is the inevitable result of learning and accumulating knowledge. Inequality in part arises because new techniques and new knowledge is unevenly distributed–even despite the Internet. Consumption is driven by desire–but providing what people consumes comes from suppliers learning how to create better or more desirable items. And in a sense, consumption is driven by knowledge.

To stop this cycle–that is, to stop the cycle of learning: of figuring out better ways to deliver the things people want and need or to figure out new things that may make our lives eve better–is to invite disaster.

That’s what happened in the Soviet Union before it fell: in a real sense people were prohibited from learning how to make better products or what products would serve a country best–as all decisions about production were centrally controlled.

Any industry where we prohibit experimentation and learning and the expansion of knowledge, we see stagnation and eventual failure.

So when we discuss things like global warming–and start suggesting that perhaps the expansion of wealth is the problem and that the only way to stop global warming is to slow down or stop wealth expansion–I see it in light of the above.

What I see is the Left asking people to stop accumulating knowledge.

To stop figuring out better ways to create and distribute products. To stop investigating new techniques for making materials or working on new algorithms. To halt learning how to better address the needs of a growing population more efficiently and to stop learning what would make children happy on Christmas.

Which is ultimately why I despair at the shibboleths of the Left.

Because they’re fucking stupid.

And I mean that in the most literal way possible.

A thought about taxes.

Remember: if you pay taxes–and everyone, even the poor, pays taxes (such as sales tax, property tax, and employee payroll tax)–it means you made money.

Writing Prompt

In response to a writing prompt: “A ship is drifting into the solar system, Earths first contact. The ship is empty.”

The first observatory to spot The Object was the Keck Observatory on Hawaii’s Maunakea summit, and like new discoveries, was done entirely by accident. The Object was spotted during an observation of a primordial galaxy, and showed up as a glitch in the data; an error in the spectral analysis of a 13 billion year old galaxy.

Normally such minor glitches are ignored. Sometimes things just happen: a ripple in the atmosphere, a bird flying near the field of view, or even a microwave oven turned on for a hungry popcorn munching grad student who forgot the blackout period have caused glitches in the data. This observation would have also been ignored if it weren’t for a bright-eyed and busy-tailed grad student who was working that night, and who wanted to know the source of the glitch.

The Object was eventually named the Donner-Brand object–after the persistent grad student and the professor who insisted on credit (despite drinking Mai Tais at a local bar when the object was eventually spotted)–had its trajectory plotted, and other scientists started investigating the material composition of the newly discovered asteroid. Early theories had the object’s origin as somewhere within the Oort Cloud beyond Neptune’s orbit, and the fact that it would eventually pass within 1 AU of the Earth made the object of particular interest to observers who wanted to understand the composition of the dust cloud beyond the rim of the Solar System.

It was also fortunate for those observers that a joint NASA/ESA mission was on the drawing board to test a series of new space probes for gathering materials from asteroids for space mining. Named the Gayatri Project, a large Saturn rocket would launch with more than two dozen small EM-drive equipped probes who would meet various targets, sample them, and return the samples back to Earth. It wasn’t hard to ask the committee to add Donner-Brand to the list of potential targets.

It wasn’t until Donner-Brand passed within the orbit of Saturn a decade after its discovery that scientists started to wonder at its composition.

By this time Professor Suzanne Donner was a full time lecturer and astronomer who spent a considerable amount of time observing Oort cloud objects and particularly the object that was named after her.

“What makes Donner-Brand rather interesting”, she told a room full of professors at a small gathering to discuss Gayatri targets, subconsciously blushing at the self-reference, “is that it has an extremely variable albedo, almost as if the object had large smooth surfaces rather than the typical pitted surfaces we would expect of an asteroid.”

“We don’t know what to make of this”, she continued after a pause. “But the sheering forces necessary to create large smooth surfaces on an asteroid suggest some yet-unknown phenomenon at play.”

It was her talk, combined with other observations that the asteroid contained a number of very interesting metallic alloys, which convinced the Gayatri project managers to target the largest of the tugs to Donner-Brand.

A year later, as final plans were being put into place for the various tugs, the first images of Donner-Brand came in from the Mars orbiting telescope platform.

The reason for the highly variable albedo became apparent.

Before the observations could be made public, Professor Donner found herself along with a half dozen other scientists and the project leads of the Gayatri Project summoned by the President of the United States and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“So what do we know?” asked General Perry asked. Perry was one of the primary advisers to President Alexander.

Professor Hayes cleared his throat a little nervously. The idea of a bunch of civilian scientists being summoned by the President–and it was clear the “invitation” was not optional–was quite intimidating.

But not as intimidating as the long-range fuzzy photograph of Donner-Brand now being projected behind him.

“The object appears to be some sort of space craft, about the size of a Boeing 747. There are an array of four cylindrical objects at what appears to be the back of the craft, and a bulbous cylinder at the front. We theorize that the cylinders at the back are some form of…”

General Perry cut him off. “Is it a threat?”

Professor Donner spoke up. “We don’t think so. The object is not exhibiting any sort of thermal radiation; it appears to be as cold as any asteroid we’ve observed before. We are not receiving any radio waves or detecting any motion. I think it’s dead.”

General Perry: “Could this be a ruse? Could there be some sort of automated system waiting to wake up?”

Professor Diaz spoke up. He was one of the observers at Keck Observatory who had been watching the object as it approached its perihelion within the orbit of Mars. “I don’t think so. Remember, any electronic components would generate some heat–and given the shape of the object, that heat would not be easily radiated away. Donner-Brand is not showing any infrared radiation as far as we have been able to detect.”

“So,” General Warren, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, turned and faced the Gayatri Project representatives. “Can we tug this thing back to Earth?”

A handful of scientists on the other side of the table huddled together, and started scribbling notes on a series of papers. A couple of tablets came out, a bunch of ellipses were drawn on a bunch of papers, and finally Professor Shaw, the team lead, piped up.


That earned a scowl from a handful of the generals at the table.

“Look,” Professor Shaw stared down the half of the table overflowing with brass. “We’re a privately financed project, so even assuming I could get permission from the corporations and governments funding our project, which I very much doubt, I would need to share that discovery with everyone who helped to finance our project.

“Second, the best we can do is perhaps alter the orbit of the object to place it between Mars and Earth, so we can go back at a later date with another tug to pull it back to the Earth. But we’d have to accelerate the launch by…” Professor Shaw turned to one of the members of his team, who piped up with “about 4 months”.

Shaw turned to face the General. “We’d need to move our launch date up by 4 months.”

“What would that take?”

“Well,” Professor Shaw subconsciously rubbed his chin. “We’d need to get more manpower to build the tugs, and we’d need to move the launch site, and ideally we’d need to assemble the rocket faster and…”

General Warren raised a hand and stopped Shaw. “How much money.”

Shaw huddled together with the other scientists, then spoke up.

“I don’t know.”

“Guess,” an increasingly irritated General Warren asked.

“Perhaps $80 billion?” Shaw cautiously replied.

Murmuring broke out around the room. At the end of the table, President Alexander stood up. The rest of the room fell into silence.

“This is potentially the single most important discovery in the history of mankind. You’ll get your money and whatever manpower we can provide.”

Such a discovery could not be kept secret for long, and President Alexander knew it. Phone calls were made from the White House, assurances were made, invitations extended to various professors and politicians from the all of the Group of Eleven countries to discuss sharing the data and an potential economic windfall that may come from first contact.

It was also clear from the discussion that President Alexander would need to put someone in charge of the second mission to retrieve the object. While he wan’t a scientist, his grandfather worked for a shipping company and his father’s political aspirations were fueled by meeting truckers and longshoremen–so he knew something about logistics.

You don’t just park something at a depot if you don’t know how you’re going to move it to the store.

How we’d pull in the object–well, that was a job for the eggheads at NASA.

The advantage of having two dozen tugs designed originally for two dozen targets swarming a single tumbling object is that you can gather observations from two dozen different vantage points rather quickly.

With Donner-Brand, this was extremely useful.

Despite its size, the object was significantly lighter than the scientists had calculated–in large part because a space craft is not an asteroid. Spaceships are hollow, not solid. It also helped that the object was not tumbling very rapidly; it allowed the tugs to stop the rotation of the craft so as to control it better.

Each tug had a small artificial intelligence on board, so they could quickly swarm Donner-Brand. One of the tugs landed on a forward windshield and was able to send pictures of the interior back. It appeared to be empty. Along the top there appeared to be several recessed hatches; one of the scientists theorized they may have been escape pods. Scorching existed alongside the port side of the hull.

It took three months of continuous thrusting to alter the orbit of Donner-Brand, at which time all but one of the tugs were completely drained, still attached like so many electronic barnacles. The last remaining operating tug confirmed the orbit was relatively stable.

Of course President Alexander lost the re-election to a fear-mongering Presidential candidate who used fear of E.T. to win the election. Politics plays out like that sometimes. The Russian Federation also saw a similar overturn of its leadership based on provincial fears–but all of this was theater.

In private the Donner-Brand spaceship was eventually brought into orbit around the Earth, scientists investigating every square inch of the craft. They discovered the craft was apparently designed to hold a dozen crew-members; the shape of what appeared to be chairs suggested they were four-legged creatures, though no images of them appeared in the databanks of the onboard computers.

Much of the space ship used technologies that could be easily extrapolated from existing Earth-based tech: air scrubbers used slightly more efficient compounds to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. The windshield proved to be a polymer compound not too dissimilar to existing clear polymers known to Earth scientists.

The computer interfaces were nearly completely indecipherable; based on trinary logic the computer displays appeared to be full of static, at least until a color-blind linguist noticed that the static was actually a sort of cursive language written horizontally in one color and vertically in another. Once people figured out the vertical writing were interface hints, and the horizontal writing was status reports, understanding the intent became far less difficult.

What excited everyone, however, was the devices underneath the floor plates which generated gravity. The technology appeared to be related to the technology which powered the four massive engines at the back: same principles, different techniques to different ends.

That alone took three decades of the most cleaver scientists to fully understand–and even then the best any scientist could do to explain the phenomenon involved a few short-cuts and a lot of hand-waving about 13-dimensional particles.

But engineers, on the other hand, don’t need to understand quantum mechanics to know if you dope a piece of silicon with phosphorus and boron the right way you can make a transistor.

And engineers don’t need to understand Unified Field Physics to know if you wrap copper coils with the right shape around a special organic compound, then excite the compound with radiation while simultaneously electrifying the coils, it appears to generate gravity. Shape them one way and you get a 1 G pull to a floor plate. Shape them another way and you get a reactionless drive as your spaceship “falls” towards its target.

A lot of experimentation later, and they learned how to reverse the effect: allowing objects to “fall away” from a massive gravity well, in an effect that left the scientists who thought they worked the theories out scratching their heads.

Sixty years after insisting on wasting everyone’s time tracking down a spectral glitch at the Keck Observatory as an undergraduate, Professor Suzanne Donner stood on an observation deck, looking at the stars. In space, with the sun blotted out by Jupiter, the stars were remarkably bright.

They never learned where the spacecraft came from, or why it eventually fell towards our Sun. Some thought the spacecraft had been floating for eons. Others wondered if it were even real. A few worried that its owners would be back–and deep underneath the Cheyenne Mountain complex, an underground bunker of sorts was busy constructing a fleet of spacecraft capable of defending the Earth. Few (including Professor Suzanne) knew of the complex.

But it didn’t matter to the folks at the Jupiter station.

First contact was not what anyone had expected. It wasn’t an alien invasion force here for our water or the molten core of our planet. It wasn’t a bunch of bug-eyed monsters looking to steal our women or a race of peaceful, logical people seeking to “live long and prosper.”

It was a junked spacecraft that looked like it had been hit by an asteroid or a piece of space debris or some sort of unknown weapon.

A junked spacecraft that now allowed Professor Donner to retire amongst the stars.

When those charged with enforcing the law refuse to follow the law, why should the rest of us bother to listen to them?

Labor Department Mutiny

That’s one reason President Trump last month directed the Labor Department to review the rule. Specifically, the President asked Labor to investigate whether the rule is likely to reduce access to retirement-savings vehicles or related financial advice, whether the rule has caused disruptions in the industry that may harm retirees and investors, and whether it will lead to more lawsuits. If a review determines any of these things had happened, the department is to propose revising or abolishing the rule.

So what was the Labor response? Last week the holdovers from the Obama Administration announced that “the Department has concluded it would be inappropriate to broadly delay application of the fiduciary definition and Impartial Conduct Standards.”

Translation: We don’t care what an elected President says.

Fire them. Fire the whole lot of them.

Because if you don’t, basically with the bureaucracy in open rebellion against a duly elected President, what do we have? Gangster government?

Remember: Americans celebrate the shooting of government officials.