did someone muck with the backend here

Re: End of Jobs

1

Academics often claim that they would continue doing research even if they became independently wealthy and didn't need a job (at least academic scientists claim this, I'm assuming the others do too).

I'd like to think so, but I'd rather not have it put to the test. I'd put the odds of me ending up like Heebie's pot growing friends at better than zero.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 9:49 AM
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There are enough people whose answer would involve something like "Purify world in flames of my own making" that something like this will never happen.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 9:53 AM
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I'm expecting to never retire, slowly descending the ladder of job difficulty as my faculties degrade with age. Eventually I'll be an 80 year old codger working the register at McDonalds.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 9:54 AM
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My wife insists I have a job. This has put a significant damper on my plans to live Humboldlt style.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 9:56 AM
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Have you tried the "Loving you is the only thing I have time for" dodge?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 9:57 AM
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3: I aspire* to being the mildly creepy, mildly charming elderly man who chides you for not using the CVS self-checkout correctly. And has done so for most of the last decade. God, our social safety net is awful.

* Not really, but gotta have realistic expectations.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:00 AM
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Count me as sceptical that heebie's friends were like that because they had all the money they needed, rather than being like that because they had all the pot they needed.

My view is that we already live like this some of the time - our lives are not entirely consumed by the need to make money and keep ourselves alive. We have spare time. Most people right now do not simply sit around and watch TV for the whole of their spare time. The most rational assumption seems to be that the same would hold true if far more of our time was spare time.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:00 AM
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But, as in the OP, it's not just more spare time. It's removing the structured time requirements.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:02 AM
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I retract 1.2. Of course I'd like for it to be put to the test, since the test would involve becoming independently wealthy.

The really important question, though, is: would the frequency of unfogged commenting go up or down? More free time suggests up, but without the need to procrastinate at work, maybe it would go down.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:03 AM
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Seems to me there'd be a period of doing little, but it would get boring for most people. It might take a couple years to find out what people would do.

Right now, I dream that I'd go to two yoga classes a day and get the yard in order.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:04 AM
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9: I bet it would go down. But maybe more late night commenting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:06 AM
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I could finally build a cob hut.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:06 AM
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This will never be a relevant question (unless a big old GSV pulls up to the planet and takes us all to Iain Banks land) because when there is no more paid work, the people who can't do paid work will die unless they can come up with some kind of subsistence/grift hybrid. I mean, they won't fall over in the moment, but they won't live as long because they can't access healthcare, live in bad conditions, etc - like Russia in the nineties but more so. The future will be like the present but more and worse.

There is nothing - and I say this as someone who has seen a lifetime of left-wing goofiness - that strikes me as goofier than the idea that wealthy people will ever, ever consent to a social arrangement which gives a decent life to all regardless of ability to work. What leverage would they have over us then? Even if the numbers could be made to work out on some kind of UBI, it would never, ever happen because our rulers and the remains of the middle and upper middle classes will not let it.

What will happen is precisely what you'd think would happen based on any familiarity with human history - the weak will go to the wall, the rich will grab everything they can get and instances of compassion and generosity toward the poor, sick and old will be isolated anomalies.

I'd believe that those anomalies around that star that were in the news a few months ago actually indicate some kind of orbital-building race which will generously come to earth and save us all before I'd believe in a a UBI-style workless future.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:12 AM
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Which, I mean, I find as depressing as you do and I'm kind of holding out for the aliens.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:13 AM
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Probably one could just look at the activities of the various aristocracies throughout human history to get a first approximation of what would it would be like. Some people would do stuff, some wouldn't. Some of this stuff would be great, some would be evil, everything in between, etc.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:15 AM
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13: The wealthy--like, really wealthy--would presumably still have enough money to have mini-submarines and ekranoplans and all the other things that make life truly worth living but no one expects to be part of a social safety net. (Maybe VR ekranoplan programs, though.) But the upper middle class, yeah, they'll (we'll) shit all over that. Perceived loss of status'd be too great. Gotta believe in those bootstraps. Bleh. Very Little Gravitas Indeed.

(Wondering now if The Repugnant Conclusion changes if you assume a sufficient number of sufficiently large ekranoplans.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:20 AM
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13 is right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:20 AM
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That said, if I didn't have to work I'd be ABD in about ten programs by the time I died - too lazy for an actual diss, I think, but motivated enough to do the rest of the work. I'd start with science fiction studies and go from there. (I assume that if I had good GREs and discreetly offered to pay full tuition out of pocket, a way would be made.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:30 AM
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Things have always seemed eerily frictionless and peaceful in thought-experiment land. I wonder what that would do to me psychologically if I lived there full-time.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:30 AM
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Since nobody has emailed me to let me know otherwise, I'm assuming I'm still ABD. Since 1996.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:32 AM
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Any minute I could sit down and write a dissertation. Laydeez.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:36 AM
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There is nothing - and I say this as someone who has seen a lifetime of left-wing goofiness - that strikes me as goofier than the idea that wealthy people will ever, ever consent to a social arrangement which gives a decent life to all regardless of ability to work. What leverage would they have over us then? Even if the numbers could be made to work out on some kind of UBI, it would never, ever happen because our rulers and the remains of the middle and upper middle classes will not let it.

I do think this is the most realistic scenario. The masses will get just barely enough to prevent rioting. Think food stamps and maybe basic housing vouchers. Maybe some stingy healthcare. Other than that: abject poverty, except for those who manage to get a job serving the rich.

That said, the more optimistic scenario isn't that elites decide to pity the masses and share enough wealth to give them a decent life. That, as you note, is foolish. The more optimistic scenario is that the masses are able to organize and through collective action, take a fair share by force. Through violence if necessary, peacefully where possible. That also may not come to pass (as I said, I don't actually expect it), but it's not pure fantasy.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:36 AM
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If I had abundant free time I think taking college classes would be one of my hobbies. I already do some of the online courses for chuckles, but a real class in a proper classroom would be better.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:41 AM
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It's in a spam filter somewhere, Mobes.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:41 AM
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The "masses" will be too busy taking what they can from those who have even less to focus on getting anything from the rich.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:43 AM
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In my free time I sure wouldn't read articles that feel like they have to tell me which words are the most important.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:45 AM
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Seems to me there'd be a period of doing little, but it would get boring for most people. It might take a couple years to find out what people would do.

That has been my assumption.

If I suddenly stopped needing to work I'd spend couple of months not doing much other than playing computer games and watching movies (and, hopefully, starting to get back in shape to be able to play bball again). And then, eventually, I would start to emotionally accept that I really did have free time and that there wasn't another shoe that was about to drop, and I would start creating structure and responsibilities for myself.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:45 AM
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24: My topic is "Next of Kin Notification Practices in Nigerian Banking."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:47 AM
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I find it interesting that Heebie says she enjoys her unstructured summer vacation when she has, what, four kids, none over 10 and at least one under 4? Five kids, maybe? I mean, I'm not doubting that your summer is unstructured in a sense, but the family would be much more demanding than a job or society. It's not really a relevant comparison to retirement or a post-scarcity economy.

My parents have managed to keep very busy since retirement, but come to think of it, I wonder if they're going to start getting bored. For the past several years they have always had one major project or another going on. Building and setting up a winter home, helping with my wedding, helping with my sister's, and they basically hosted my sister's wedding, which spurred them to do a ton of work on and around their old house. But that's over now. I don't have any more siblings who will get married any time soon. They have one grandchild and might get more in a couple years, but live in a different state from both my sister and I, so they can't be too active in grandkids's/s' lives. They like to travel but have pets, so can't do it all that much. I don't know what they're going to do with themselves when they're at home besides go for long walks.

I love the idea of more unstructured free time. I'm sure I'd waste it but I'd have fun. The last time I had more than a week unstructured was in 2008 (unless paternity leave counts, and I don't think it should), and I was unemployed at the time, so there was some pressure to find a job. And I'm definitely not much of a workaholic or anything, I just use vacation days almost as fast as I get them.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:52 AM
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There is nothing - and I say this as someone who has seen a lifetime of left-wing goofiness - that strikes me as goofier than the idea that wealthy people will ever, ever consent to a social arrangement which gives a decent life to all regardless of ability to work.

Mind you, the Overton Window of Goofiness has a tendency to shift a lot. Look at the welfare state we have today compared to what it was 100 or 150 years ago.
As does the definition of a decent life, though. The US absolute poverty line is $15 a day - $22k a year for a family of four. Giving everyone that is about $150 billion a year. But how much do you need to have a decent life?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:55 AM
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I'm in an interesting situation now, living a few thousand miles east of my job, so I am free until about 3pm then work until late and go to bed right when I'm done. During the day I'm taking language classes, playing tennis with my wife, swimming a few times a week (followed by a sauna and hot tub, cheap public gym facilities are great), cooking lunch for the family every day. But I do feel like I have to find something to do other than just reading and commenting about the end of America under Trump. I don't know if that's because I feel like I have to be able to answer at the end of each day, "So what did you do today?" which is itself probably a product of work/accomplishment obsessed society.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 10:58 AM
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30- Not to go all bob on you, but at some point isn't the ability of some people to get a decent life dependent on the fact that others can't get it? Or is the assumption that scarcity of "decent" things- entertainment, more than subsistence food, recreation- solved by automation/AI/aliens?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:01 AM
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Certainly there are many positional goods.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:08 AM
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The rest of the thread is going to be devoted to a debate over whether Frowner's 13 is completely correct, or only 99.5% correct.

Except for ajay, who in 30 is promoting Urp's more optimistic scenario in 22.last. But urp sees the problem with that scenario: Once people have something to lose, it's hard to radicalize them enough that they will do what is necessary to demand something better.

Once I retire, I'm going to go back to school so I can write a dissertation proposing a perverse Maslowian (Maslovian?) hierarchy of needs, in which the US white working class has been lifted just enough out of poverty that it can indulge in its more abstract aspirations, such as racism, xenophobia and willful ignorance.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:17 AM
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Count me as sceptical that heebie's friends were like that because they had all the money they needed, rather than being like that because they had all the pot they needed.

"Pot will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no pot."


Posted by: Confucius | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:18 AM
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29 is sort of where I went with this. The things I'd do for entertainment and self-improvement if I didn't have three children are different from the ones where I have to get up every morning and provide food and support and whatnot. I like the first hypothetical a lot better, but I love my children and of course they're worthwhile. It's just hard to even imagine pure leisure or even the kind of civic-minded volunteerism we were also supposed to think about. I'd sleep!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:19 AM
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33- To wit.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:27 AM
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The rest of the thread is going to be devoted to a debate over whether Frowner's 13 is completely correct, or only 99.5% correct. Except for ajay

I apologise for mellowing everyone else's harsh.

But I don't think 32 is correct; I don't think any of the goods required for a decent life depend on other people not having them. It's food, shelter, clean water, health care, access to education, entertainment, recreation - I can't see why any of those can't be extended to cover the entire population. Not everyone can have everything they want, of course, but that's different.

Once people have something to lose, it's hard to radicalize them enough that they will do what is necessary to demand something better.

History is against this. Once people have something to lose, that's when they tend to be most motivated to demand radical change. Revolutions are not led by the starving, immiserated peasantry. They don't have the energy or the time or the skills or the social networks, and they are extremely risk-averse.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:30 AM
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13 is typical left-wing claptrap. The reality is that someday we will have a referendum on UBI, and everyone will get a say, not just the rich. And that referendum will lose, because 80% of the country needs 20% to take a big shit on every day to feel good about themselves.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:31 AM
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Look at the welfare state we have today compared to what it was 100 or 150 years ago.

Or the one we will have in 10 years time.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:32 AM
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I'll invoke Thumper's Rule about the OP link. Maybe it's borderline-nice to ask who the audience for that piece is imagined to be.

In practice I think it's entirely a red herring. There are layers and layers of social obligations ready to enter those 8-12 available hours a day once paid work recedes; the question is only who is entitled to ignore them, or not.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:33 AM
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Oh great, now Ajay has decided that every single word is important.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:33 AM
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No, italics means every single word is a quote. Because it's me saying it all!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:36 AM
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32. There is no "lump of money", there is no "lump of labour"; so why would there be a lump of stuff, except to the extent that we run out of natural resources?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:37 AM
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Maybe the recent Republican enthusiasm for Russia can be leveraged to convince them socialism isn't so bad?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 11:42 AM
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Guess I'm a relative optimist here. It seems entirely possible that people in 40 years or whatever (assuming a relatively non-catastrophic result from global warming) will be bitching about the ten hours a week they have to spend streaming themselves playing video games in order to make ends meet.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:09 PM
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I find it interesting that Heebie says she enjoys her unstructured summer vacation when she has, what, four kids, none over 10 and at least one under 4? Five kids, maybe? I mean, I'm not doubting that your summer is unstructured in a sense, but the family would be much more demanding than a job or society. It's not really a relevant comparison to retirement or a post-scarcity economy.

I send 'em to daycare and summer camps. (A fact which I'm mildly embarrassed about, due to conversations where the other person is taken aback that I'd do such a thing.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:09 PM
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Has anybody ever considered the idea that maybe the workers should own the means of production?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:29 PM
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I sort of do, except for the software.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:33 PM
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47: Makes sense, I guess. How long is the summer camp? I've read about some months-long camps, but growing up the only kind I ever went to was just a week long.

I have had child-free weeks since Atossa was born. Cassandane has gone to visit her parents with Atossa and not me twice. In both cases, though, I was still working a 9-to-5 job.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:33 PM
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What a way to make a living.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:34 PM
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I thought the point was that there weren't any workers, because the means of production ran themselves. I mean yes, it's an idea I've advocated for 50 years, but the details will need rethinking if everything is done by AI. (And by everything, I obvs don't mean every last jot and tittle, but 60-70% of current jobs seems quite realistic.)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:35 PM
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50: Just day-camps for now. 2017 will be the first summer I really have to patch things together for Hawaii, because they let you go back to the daycare for the summer for a year or two.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:38 PM
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There's a summer day camp where I am that will pick up your kids at your house and dump them back at the end of the day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:40 PM
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We haven't tried it yet. It's strictly a non-smoking camp.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:41 PM
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50: "Day camps" are de facto daycare for working families and a necessity during the summer. Childcare in this country is such a mess.

We'll have our first experience with this in 2017 too. My daughter has requested engineering camps and possibly also learning to shoot a tiny longbow.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:50 PM
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I had a great idea, at 9am someone from work emailed me which was 3am his time and I deduced that it was because his baby had woken up. So I thought there should be a service that employs people in other time zones who would normally be awake at your ridiculous baby waking hours and you can pay them to take care of your baby so you can sleep. Too bad babies insist you actually feed them or change them or whatnot. It's a failure of IT as usual.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:53 PM
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Shouldn't she start with a tiny crossbow and work up to tiny longbow?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 12:58 PM
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For some values of "should," I guess.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:04 PM
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Would you rather teach the tiny-longbow class or the tiny-crossbow class?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:05 PM
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That could probably be on a depression screening questionnaire.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:06 PM
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I'm envisioning a startup built around "telepresence for babies." Think it can get funded?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:07 PM
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What ever happened to that guy who hacked 2-way baby monitors and freaked the shit out of a bunch of toddlers?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:15 PM
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Its probably a bad idea, though. Most babies are broke.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:15 PM
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Broke but they usually aren't carrying any debt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:17 PM
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Until the 2019 Educating Our Future Act, which ends property taxes and funds primary and secondary schools by having every newborn contribute $250,000.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:18 PM
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Which can be paid by selling organs, a stated policy preference of the leading candidate for FDA commissioner. If God didn't mean for people to sell organs, why does everyone have 2 of most of them? FDA co-chair Thiel would also like to have a word about your blood type.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:22 PM
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having every newborn contribute $250,000.

People who don't understand the national debt would argue that they already do.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:24 PM
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65/66: I just finished reading Charles Stross's Neptune's Brood, which imagines that new people are created with debt that they spend decades paying off. Given that in this reality people are robots that can live centuries or millennia, this is less onerous than it appears--but he's explicit that it's child slavery bondage labor.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:30 PM
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Maybe given more time Livingston would read.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:30 PM
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"I believe the children are our future. Hold the close to make sure they can pay."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:40 PM
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"Hold them close"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:49 PM
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It takes me hours to stand up and go to the store and I have no pot and nothing like the amount of money I want. I have all the best intentions for setting schedules but in reality rely entirely on fear of being yelled at and unpredictable flashes of inspiration for getting anything done. Sometimes I think that I were rich I could have a fake farm and just raise a few goats and have interesting correspondences and that somehow the goats' needs would structure my schedule but honestly those goats would just die.


Posted by: Clytie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:53 PM
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I do like goats though.


Posted by: Clytie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:55 PM
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Goats are pretty hard to kill by inattention.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:57 PM
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Watch me.


Posted by: Clytie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:58 PM
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Then you could try a rental goat.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 1:59 PM
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What about the men who stare at goats?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:02 PM
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They probably have to buy one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:02 PM
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Nothing looks as rented as a rented goat.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:03 PM
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Alas, doing donuts with it in a parking lot is probably not that exciting.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:05 PM
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||

I have a really bad feeling that my relationship with Chani may be coming to an end though I dearly hope not. But she wants to have a "talk" that sounds pretty damned ominous to me. I thought things were going well between us though we're both under quite a bit of pressure with work. Still we don't even see each other much what with living in different countries and all.

|>


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:05 PM
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And I'm fucking btocked.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:07 PM
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I don't know much but I know that only monsters say they want to have a talk without just saying the words that would be in the fucking talk.


Posted by: Clytie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:09 PM
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Is it just me or has it been much easier recently for you to become btocked in Arrakis?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:10 PM
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Canonically "talk" means breakup or marriage, right? Or I guess shacking up but I thought that just sort of happens, like pregnancy.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:12 PM
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I am on an extended break for work and collecting unemployment. The last three months have been from my own savings and I have another five months on the State's dime. My original intent was to use the time for creative writing, but I am finding the unstructured days difficult, plus my girlfriend smokes pot regularly and I join in more often than not. Also, writing is fucking hard and the stress of knowing the money will run out is slightly paralyzing. If I knew I could continue like this indefinitely, though, I'd take a bunch of college courses and probably be more relaxed about the writing.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:13 PM
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Good luck & ample sympathy, Barry, but let's not forget that 2016 is the Year of the Cat and the Mouse, so btocked is wise.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:14 PM
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If everyone is drunk or stoned, then I'm leaving the office too.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:18 PM
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I'm neither drunk nor stoned. I'm proctoring a final. Also I have severe sniffles.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:20 PM
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69: In the Poor Man's Fight trilogy, it's just mandatory, privatized K-12 education where everyone gets billed at age 18. But magnanimous as the corporations are, they reduce your debt if you do well on the final test (which they also run).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:20 PM
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77 makes me consider that I might enjoy hiking more if I rented goats to haul my shit.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:22 PM
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I've had the most flemiest cold since Thanksgiving. I still hauck up stuff every morning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:23 PM
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Man is born broke. He lives by spending. The grace of death is debt cancellation.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:23 PM
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92: That's how I found that link. On Backpacking Light.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:23 PM
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Thanks all. And sympathies Awl.

85 I In Dubai for the film festival now but I broke down last month and reneged on my vow not to do the sad hotel bar drinking in Arrakis once I found out there was a Belgian Beer Cafe in town. Still keeping it to no more than once a week tho. Annd a friend with a booze buying license got me a lot of stuff at the one place you can but to take home in Arrakis.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:24 PM
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Thanks all. And sympathies Awl.

85 I In Dubai for the film festival now but I broke down last month and reneged on my vow not to do the sad hotel bar drinking in Arrakis once I found out there was a Belgian Beer Cafe in town. Still keeping it to no more than once a week tho. Annd a friend with a booze buying license got me a lot of stuff at the one place you can but to take home in Arrakis.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:24 PM
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I was surprised it was only $35/goat-day which made me realize I had no idea how much goats cost. You could probably sell me a goat for like, ten thousand dollars. Or you could have until ten minutes ago. Now I've wished up.


Posted by: Clytie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:25 PM
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94 is truth.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:26 PM
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AIPMHB, my hometown had a charity goat raffle in the summers. It worked well because you bought tickets for other people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:27 PM
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Our city owns some goats to mow some lawns, IIRC.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:28 PM
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Thanks, Barry! I should be the one offering sympathies. And I'm definitely less depressed than when I was working.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:33 PM
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I did take some time off to freelance/write my book hahaha when I was in my 20s and it was legitimately traumatically boring/baffling, and makes it hard to fantasize about expanses of self-structured time.

As opposed to the super structured life I have now when I'm like ok from 4-5 I'll google "goat how much."

Barry, sorry. I hope things go better than you fear they will.


Posted by: Clytie | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:38 PM
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98/101: San Francisco also has goat-rental landscaping. Apparently the goats have eaten all the xmas trees they can for the year already, though.


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:47 PM
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97: Thanks for the explanation. I hope all goes well.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:49 PM
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104- It can get a little out of hand though


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 2:53 PM
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IMHMSTB I bought my wife a goat for her birthday, many years ago. $3. A gorgeous animal. (There are a couple of pictures in the pool.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 3:14 PM
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I've never had much trouble filling time. Had a 5 week period between last final and the beginning of bar review where I'd moved all my stuff to a storage unit, and just drove around. Amherst, Quebec, Kalamazoo, Council Bluffs, Babb, Vancouver. Etc. It was great.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 3:18 PM
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Ah, the endless question of socialism or barbarism.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 3:53 PM
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I blame my ex for a lot but not for exposing the younger girls to a goat escape because I'd have done the same if it had been my weekend.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 4:31 PM
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Links!

The Second Thing I Think Of When Somebody Says Humboldt County

and sorry if this is some kind of dupe

New Inquiry reviews Peter Frase Four Futures which is boringly exactly on topic.
Be a fun book for a group thing if I weren't insisting on a woman writer's representation, not that I matter. Maybe a long sf novel instead, trolling me, you devils.

As far as revolution or #13 above, who the hell knows. I predict nothing but black swans turning daylight to dark. Smart people I know are saying we are in a pre-revolutionary condition, or post-revolutionary after Trump, understanding that such conditions also are fertile for horrific wars and such. Whatever, cumsee, cumsaa.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 4:34 PM
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I had links to Carol Anderson's White Rage, Chris Hedges, and Coates Obama encomium but I realized they are too off topic.

Everybody knows what I would/will/am doing without work. Smoke and read.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 5:13 PM
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87

I did that about ten years ago. Was laid off by a failing company, didn't get hired immediately, decided to work on one of my ideas for a novel. Got a couple of chapters into it in about six months, never nailed down where it was going, even.*

Then I got hired due to a friend's recommendation and the "novel" still sits there on my computer.

* Since then fairly pwned by Silicon Valley cross-product REAMDE, though I had less blood than the latter.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 5:20 PM
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If reamde isn't a thing, it should be.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 5:35 PM
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It's a book by Neal Stephenson. I think he wrote it because some people complained there wasn't enough violence in his other books. It involved hackers, MMOs, terrorists, and lots and lots of guns.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 5:41 PM
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... and explosives, too.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 5:42 PM
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It involved hackers, MMOs, terrorists, and lots and lots of guns.

My problem is I'd want to write a pacifist novel that doesn't romanticize guns and weapons. But that sounds super boring.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 5:59 PM
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There are definitely ways to do "pacificist novel" without being super boring. They tend towards the "depressing beyond belief" end of things, though.

I would pour funds into a Kickstarter for a cyberpunk "Mother Courage and her Children," as long as I got to engage in suitably extreme public histrionics if the author fucked it up.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 6:18 PM
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1.1: This is definitely true for me. If I suddenly became wealthy, my work life would not change much except that I would have much nicer office furniture, actually enjoy holidays instead of viewing them as opportunities to catch up on manuscript/grant writing, and tell many more people in my day-to-day work environment to fuck off.

I am deeply afraid of retirement. Walking away from work and facing nothing but open leisure until I die is like a shut-in syndrome, paralysed-but-conscious-during-surgery, cask-of-Amontillado level nightmare of mine. Brrrr.


Posted by: Swope FM | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 6:21 PM
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1.1: This is definitely true for me. If I suddenly became wealthy, my work life would not change much except that I would have much nicer office furniture, actually enjoy holidays instead of viewing them as opportunities to catch up on manuscript/grant writing, and tell many more people in my day-to-day work environment to fuck off.

I am deeply afraid of retirement. Walking away from work and facing nothing but open leisure until I die is like a shut-in syndrome, paralysed-but-conscious-during-surgery, cask-of-Amontillado level nightmare of mine. Brrrr.


Posted by: Swope FM | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 6:21 PM
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I'd read stuff and walk in circles thinking about meaningful projects I'd never actually do. It would be ok, but I'd never stop feeling guilty.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 6:39 PM
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God dammit. Twice the nightmare.


Posted by: Swope FM | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 6:40 PM
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Good luck Barry and Awl!


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 6:40 PM
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There are definitely ways to do "pacificist novel" without being super boring.

Yeah, but I get squicked-out writing sex scenes.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 7:15 PM
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Just make one character a goat.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 7:52 PM
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I had in mind more horrors-of-war, no-heroes scenarios... I guess you'd still have ample squick opportunities. Wow, I've used the ghastly word "ample" twice in this thread, MUST BE WORK DEADLINE MADNESS.

I can't make myself type out a sentence about what I would do if I didn't have to work for money. Guess I'm too close to the problem? Awl, good luck, writing is indeed ridiculously hard, and perversely gets harder as you get better at it.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 7:54 PM
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ample syrup


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 7:54 PM
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ample leafs


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 7:55 PM
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Ample turret spouting forth.


Posted by: Opinionated Soviet Tank Commander/Lactation Consultant | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 7:59 PM
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+s


Posted by: Opinionated Soviet Tank Commander/Lactation Consultant | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 7:59 PM
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I had in mind more horrors-of-war, no-heroes scenarios.

Yeah, I just looked up Mother Courage. That's pretty strong stuff. A cyberpunk version of that could be amazing.

I wasn't going for no-hero's, but rather, setting up heros that can accomplish important things without resorting to violence. Like a non-violent MacGyver*.

Yes I know MacGuyver didn't use guns. But he sure got into a hell of a lot of fistfights. And his antagonists are violent. I don't even want violent antagonists. The whole point is to reject violence as a plot device.

But who's going to read a book about duct tape and procedural liberalism?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 8:14 PM
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And Swope, I think your nightmare is totally avoidable, since there is loads of all-consuming volunteer work that can be done after retirement from pretty much any career. You just need to make plans in advance.

I have a possibly related phobia, which is that I hate to go out to run errands during the weekday -- say, to the post office to mail a package, then pick up a few groceries, then to the cafe to get beans. This is completely unbearable in the burbs and was even unpleasant in the city. Being out doing stupid, picayune little things among people with nothing productive to do during working hours gives me the fantods. By contrast I find the morning train commuter rush intensely soothing, and then to zoom along in a crowd of foot traffic headed to work... If I ever left the costly city, I bet the lack of mass-transit commuter comforts would cost me most.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 8:17 PM
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The diversity of responses to this question is interesting.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-14-16 8:23 PM
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120

My mother retired last May and decided to take up weaving to fill her time. She wove me a 10 x 3 "shawl" and some dish towels for Christmas this year. I guess the plus side to retiring is she can make her own attractive but relatively useless woven goods instead of buying ones made by Mayan women like she used to.

I'm in the Madrid airport waiting to fly to Prague, if anyone is awake.



Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 1:24 AM
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Also, why is it that free wifi at foreign airports works quite well, and the wifi at O'Hare is about as effective as stabbing your eye repeatedly with a chopstick?


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 1:27 AM
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Maybe in our post jobs society someone can investigate this issue.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 1:28 AM
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employer-sponsored ekranoplans


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 1:30 AM
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Thanks for the support, all. It's not what I'm working on, but I think writing a pacifist novel can be very interesting. The world's problems aren't all due to capitalism, after all. So what kind of society would contain them indefinitely? Imagine a person with Trump's (or, more interestingly, Putin's) psychological profile growing in a pacifist society. I'm imagining something like bonobos, maybe? So the sex scenes would be focused not on titillation, but on really addressing psychological tension. How many hours of people gently soothing a narcissist would actually make a difference? Would people volunteer to group hug the frantic and psychologically wounded until they were "better"? How would a society bent on that end continuously administer some equivalent of therapy to people who, at least initially, would not be interested in it? And of course, we are all fucked up to some extent. So how do we divide the carers and the cared-for?


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 2:26 AM
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I think writing a pacifist novel can be very interesting. The world's problems aren't all due to capitalism, after all.

Would there be a difference between a novel in which all problems are solved without violence or war, and a pacifist novel?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 2:34 AM
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Yes. Do I lose points for not responding to the prompt correctly? Rephrase 138 accordingly: I think it would be interesting to write a novel that genuinely imagines how a post-violence society functions.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 2:45 AM
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I agree! I was just unclear about what you meant. And it's a very interesting imaginative exercise. (Though I think it could end up in a pretty dark place, once you start to imagine what forms of non-violent compulsion you could use. Ever read "The Country of the Kind"?)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 3:14 AM
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"The Dispossessed" sort of goes there, as I remember.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 3:32 AM
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Yes it does.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 3:37 AM
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141: Sorry, I guess those were my insecurities showing.

Ever read "The Country of the Kind"?
I have now! Thanks for that.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 3:40 AM
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It kind of gets at the first question you want to ask: OK, so your society is "post-violence"; what happens when someone in it commits a violent act? Do you still have some form of compulsion?
For that matter, could you even imagine a post-compulsion society?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 3:48 AM
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139: Which SF author was it who said "The universe is enemy enough", having been asked why there were no antagonists in his/her books?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 4:11 AM
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sf revolving around suppressed violence

BNW, drugs, sex, and caste

Alfred Bester, Demolished Man, ca 1953, telepathic cops prevent crime and violence

Kate Wilhelm, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sing, clones have enhanced empathy; variation Arthur Clarke, Childhood's End

James Tiptree, Houston Houston Do You Read, extermination of men

Isaac Asimoc, The Naked Sun, people loathe personal contact

Robert Silverberg, Time of Changes, denial of self, lack of individualism; IMO weak concept and execution; Zamyatin We is maybe better


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 5:01 AM
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I'm imagining something like bonobos, maybe?

The Japanese novel and anime series Shin Sekai Yori, From the New World specifically references bonobos and sex as release, including homosex, mainly during stressful adolescence

Intensely complicated ideologically, it is a far future pastoral village society of radically strong telekinetic people without defenses, so that a single individual can kill a city and can't be stopped. Violence is prevented two ways:1) with genetic and psychological imprinting (and elimination of the intractable), and 2) an inferior subject caste that is allowed to wage war among themselves, providing vicarious release

This is a metaphor/allegory for post-colonialism in an age of nuclear superpowers, among other things. Brilliant and brutally challenging.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 5:18 AM
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I miss having free time. The combination of being promoted a couple of times and then switching jobs to the private sector means I work quite a lot of hours. And then on top of that, my wife and I split child care pretty much exactly 50/50.* So I have genuinely free time that can be measured in the minutes per week.

I used to think I was quite lazy, but I've realised that I'm actually not. And I used to do quite a lot with my free-time in terms of hobbies and personal projects: music, photography, etc.

I think if I had long sabbatical period I would probably pursue some language learning, some academic study, and continue with music. I also think -- and this is something I've only come to in the past couple of years** -- I'd continue coding.

I'd also like to write a proper popular history and philosophy of science book that could act as a corrective to the 'yay! science. yay atheism! yay penises!' style of writing about science, without sliding the other way into lazy relativism.

* we are together, not divorced, but we both work jobs that involve long hours, so the only way we make child care work is by both doing a lot of solo child care while the other works.
** I've done it for years and years, but I've only recently come to the point where I find satisfaction in doing personal coding projects.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 5:33 AM
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Oh, and I suppose Forbidden Planet

Creatures from the idddddddd, oh noes

Came to mind cause one of the subtleties of SSY is that the telekineticism operates when they are sleeping or unsconcious or sick, warping the world outside the village. Again, a metaphor for colonialism/racism, in which the benign and benevolent ideology of the paternal metropole operates psychologically on the periphery/subject race.

What makes it brutal is that the identifiable protagonist is a teenage girl telekineticist, kinda like an ante-bellum work from POV of a white supremacist. No, she does not make it all better. She buys in, cause the alternative is death and destruction.

And you are probably supposed to hate her.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 5:35 AM
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If I won the £42m rollover, I'd put you on payroll to write that book. Because somebody needs to and I should think you're as well qualified as anybody.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 5:36 AM
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138 gave me nightmares, Awl. I look forward to reading what you're more officially working on once it's out in the world!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 6:00 AM
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SSY taught me many things for which I'm grateful

One is that non-violence is an ornament, a luxury of the privileged, protected and powerful. Unless like an ascetic, you renounce everything protected by violence and the potential.

Another is the "Let's you and him fight, I could stop it but won't cause freedom, but my hands are clean."

As in overlooking the complicity with arms sales to Syrian rebels for years, and then crying at the massacres.

Obama met a final straw in Yemen, after years of helping the Saudis, ending his term with a PR move? Monster. Monster. Worst Prez ever.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 6:16 AM
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I have a possibly related phobia, which is that I hate to go out to run errands during the weekday -- say, to the post office to mail a package, then pick up a few groceries, then to the cafe to get beans. This is completely unbearable in the burbs and was even unpleasant in the city. Being out doing stupid, picayune little things among people with nothing productive to do during working hours gives me the fantods.

Huh, I absolutely love doing this. I mean, not as much as other things I might do in my free time, but way more than trying to fit errands in around my work hours/days. Rocking up to a mid-week market just because I can is wonderful.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:15 AM
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How many hours of people gently soothing a narcissist would actually make a difference?

Six.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:16 AM
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re; 154

Yup. A couple of hours pottering around. Run a few gentle errands, maybe wander through a gallery or museum. Take a few photos. Check out a record shop, or browse for some books.

Perfect way to spend an afternoon.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:23 AM
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Six.

Is this based on research? Because surely there is some good narcissist-soothing research out there, even if NIH funding for narcissist-soothing trials has dried up in recent years.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:28 AM
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Everything is in the literature.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:30 AM
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Before we had a kid, because my wife works Saturdays that'd be my routine. Spend the morning doing a bit of house-work, laundry, weekly food-shop, whatever. Maybe play the guitar for an hour, and do a bit of light exercise. Then head out into London for a few hours of pottering, shopping, etc being a flâneur, then home to cook dinner.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:35 AM
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Second 154. One of the best things about being a student. No queues! Parking everywhere!


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:40 AM
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A flaneur is like a sommelier or a saucier, but for flans.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:40 AM
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160: Before there was an internet, getting student parking involved very long queues.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:41 AM
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The third Michelin star can be obtained only by baking a perfect flan while strolling to the diner's house.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:43 AM
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According to google, a sommelier was originally in charge of saddle packs. "Thank you, we'll have a bottle of the Lafitte '89, and would you mind popping out to the stables and checking that our pack saddles are properly stowed."


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:49 AM
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I wonder if I've ever eaten anywhere with a Michelin star?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:53 AM
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According to google, I haven't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:54 AM
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re: strolling, a recent favourite quote I read.

Enrico Fermi was asked by one of the graduate students working on the Chicago Pile-1 (the first reactor) what he'd do if his maths was wrong and there was a (Chernobyl-style) disaster.

Fermi: "I shall walk away, leisurely."


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:55 AM
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Going to museums or record stores is great (obviously) -- for some reason every midday grocery store is dreary. I'm talking about actual chores, not pleasurable stuff. Context is often running out during a work at home day when there's not even really time to do the errands let alone be a flaneuse


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 7:58 AM
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Seconding 154/156. Also always fun to see what people are out and about during the day. If nothing else, the Jews for Jesus people do far more day time proselytization that I would have guessed. Or maybe they carefully time it to coincide with my dentist visits.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:00 AM
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I haven't seen them in years. I guess because if I'm out during the day, I'm in Oakland.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:03 AM
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166. I have, on a couple of occasions. They were both genuinely fucking fantastic. However, the one which went on to get three stars didn't strike me as qualitatively better than the one with one star. I think there's a limit to how good food and service can get, and beyond that you're basically fooling yourself.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:04 AM
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If not, there's always ketchup.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:05 AM
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Anyway, it turns out there isn't a single Michelin-starred restaurant in Pittsburgh or Nebraska. I'm rarely anywhere else.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:08 AM
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re: Michelin star.

I have, but only one star. Nairn's before he sold it to concentrate on TV and his cookery school.

The food was very good, but no better than I've had in other places. What was nice was that the dining room wasn't over-crowded, and the general vibe was pleasant and not overly hurried or over-attentive.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:09 AM
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Well that's what you can do with your UBI when there are no more jobs: start a restaurant in Pittsburgh and shoot for a Michelin star.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:10 AM
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I'm afraid the French wouldn't understand perogi.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:12 AM
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It'll be quite hard as, near as I can tell, Michelin hasn't even reviewed restaurants in the US outside of a few metro areas (NYC/Bay Area/DC/Chicago).


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:13 AM
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Right, the chore aspect is what makes this hard even as the thought experiment it's apparently not supposed to be. At one level, all I want in the world is to sleep through the night and not have to get dressed and take care of anyone when I wake up. (This will possibly happen for as much as a week in June or July, if Lee actually does keep Selah while the older girls go to Girl Scout camp, but one day would be really nice.) But making chores even relatively pleasurable usually means giving up something good somewhere else.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:16 AM
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Huh it turns out I have been to most of the three star restaurants in NYC for work dinners. Totally wasted on me since I eat like three things (out of an unwillingness to spend energy on thinking about what I want to eat, see e.g. Seven Almonds). Also because it was for work so everything just tasted like thwarted ambition.


Posted by: Clytie | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:16 AM
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Speaking of food, today the bus took me by a truck full of dead deer. I had assumed they were picking up ones that got hit by a car, but maybe it's a new delivery service.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:17 AM
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180 could combine 101 for municipal goat lawnmowers/deer corpse delivery service. You'd need like a sled I guess.


Posted by: Clytie | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:19 AM
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Anyway per 179 it's pretty weird that I am as neurotic about small choices as the president is, but that I am somehow not the president.


Posted by: Clytie | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:20 AM
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Have you tried threatening women more often?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:26 AM
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167: another related quote, someone asking Fermi if he had called the first atomic reactor the "Pile" because of the Italian pila, a battery, a term first coined by the inventor of the battery Alessandro Volta, and thus serving both as a hat-tip to Fermi's great fellow-countryman and as an adumbration of the potential of the nuclear reactor to serve as a source of electrical power... and Fermi said no, it was from the English word "pile", meaning a heap, because it looked like a heap.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:32 AM
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Seconding 168. I have to run out now to pick up a parcel from the post office and go grocery shopping, without having finished the tranche of work that was supposed to get done before I allowed myself to leave the house, and it just adds to the general stress and guilt. I love pottering/flaneusing, but only when I don't have the dark god of deadlines breathing down my neck.


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:44 AM
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For my then GF's birthday I took her to a fancy place that is heavily favored to receive a star in the next edition of the Michelin guide, but that's as close as I come. It was fucking expensive, but we had five courses of absolutely delicious food, and she loved every minute, so I guess it was worth it. The service was incredible - before I realized I wanted a thing it was taken care of already.

I miss having a girlfriend to spoil.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 8:50 AM
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re: 184

Have you read Richard Rhodes' book?

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

Just finishing it now, and a couple of things stand out.

One, whenever people call for a 'new Manhattan project for $foo' they have no fucking idea what they are talking about.

Two, seriously, the world has gotten small. The sheer scale of accomplishment and the basic decency of many of the people involved in the story.*

Not just the scientists, but the politicians and administrators, even the ones who are quite unsympathetic, and bull-headed. They look like giants compared to the current political scene.

* Niels Bohr, in particular.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:13 AM
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" Bohr arrived in Scotland on 6 October in a de Havilland Mosquito operated by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The Mosquitos were unarmed high-speed bomber aircraft that had been converted to carry small, valuable cargoes or important passengers. By flying at high speed and high altitude, they could cross German-occupied Norway, and yet avoid German fighters. Bohr, equipped with parachute, flying suit and oxygen mask, spent the three-hour flight lying on a mattress in the aircraft's bomb bay.[96] During the flight, Bohr did not wear his flying helmet as it was too small, and consequently did not hear the pilot's intercom instruction to turn on his oxygen supply when the aircraft climbed to high altitude to overfly Norway. He passed out from oxygen starvation and only revived when the aircraft descended to lower altitude over the North Sea."


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:15 AM
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Second 187. A truly great book. My best history professor introduced it as 'One of those books where you think, "I wish I had written that"'. ttaM, would you care to expand on 187.1?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:22 AM
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Pierogies are underappreciated in this country, though not by my husband who makes them from scratch once a year. Maybe tonight would be a perfect night to eat the sauerkraut ones we have (with extra sauerkraut and sausage).

My retirement goal is to read all the books. I'm pretty sure I could get through a couple years of not working by just reading and napping. With some jaunts to a coffee shop to be around, but not interacting with, people.

Eventually I'd probably buy a seabird island and run a long term demographic study but I'm less enthused about that now. I'd hire folks to do most of the work but I'd always come out for the chick banding.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:25 AM
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Seabird and cheese pierogies. Mmmm.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:30 AM
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whenever people call for a 'new Manhattan project for $foo' they have no fucking idea what they are talking about.

Indeed.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:34 AM
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187: I have read it, and it's terrific - one of the books that I recommend indiscriminately to everyone who asks for book recommendations.

190: I think this means that hydrobatidae is going to grow up to be my dad. Good news hydro! You will achieve your retirement dreams! (He didn't actually buy the island seabird reserve but he helps run it.)

whenever people call for a 'new Manhattan project for $foo' they have no fucking idea what they are talking about.

One very interesting point that I think Rhodes doesn't make is that, yes, the Manhattan Project was huge, but it was not abnormally huge by the standards of wartime. The project to develop the B-29 Superfortress bomber (which dropped the bombs on Japan) was about 50% more expensive than the Manhattan Project. The defining feature of Manhattan was its try-everything-at-once approach. They ended up building two entirely different atomic bombs, and enriching uranium using three entirely different methods.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:42 AM
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I have recent relevant experience! I am coming to the end of four months of unemployment. My time has been very unstructured. It's hard to separate my own periodic mild depression from what it's like to have nothing to do except periodically apply for jobs you're not interested in. All I can contribute is that if all the jobs are going away, we need more cats, because they improve the situation.

Oh but the other thing I have to say is that no matter how unsettling it is not to have a purpose, it beats going to most jobs.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:44 AM
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193: Oooh, which island/seabird if that's not too identifying?

I definitely need to move closer to the ocean though.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:44 AM
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good job>school>nothing>bad job


Posted by: Clytie | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:45 AM
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193: the exact name would be a bit identifying, but it's off the coast of Scotland. Puffins, kittiwakes, shearwater, that sort of thing.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 9:47 AM
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re: 189

I didn't mean anything particularly clever. I just meant that the combination of scale, speed, expense, and expertise is sometimes amazing.

The uranium enrichment program (as mentioned by ajay in 193) involved three different processes, each of which entailed building gigantic factories, all of which were incredibly sophisticated chemical and electrical engineering scaled up from lab scale to mega-engineering scale -- in the case of some processes they were designed and tested on microgram sized scales, and then scaled up to ton scale. Each process required super fine tolerances, but on absolutely vast size, and they were dangerous with it. And they had to run cascading into each other, thousands of times over, just to generate tiny amounts of U235. And yet, they were producing industrial quantities within months of starting. And they did that in a matter of a few months.

They built entire cities in weeks.

Or the bomb design. They came up with a final design in February, and they blew it up 5 months later.

The rich have eaten the world. The idea that we, now, could muster that level of commitment in terms of expense, and expertise, even just in terms of basic project management is hilarious.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 11:59 AM
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re: 198.last

Not that complicated projects don't still happen, and engineering feats happen. Just that the idea that some kind of coordinated collective endeavour of that kind (or Apollo, for that matter) just seems a political/social impossibility.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 12:14 PM
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198.last word.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 12:28 PM
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They built entire cities in weeks.

All while hiding them from the world.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 12:36 PM
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The thing that blows my mind is that the gun device dropped on Hiroshima was never tested before use. All the tests were on the implosion device, which is much trickier to get right.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 1:43 PM
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Did they have a fallback if it dropped but didn't go off? Would it just made a small, messy explosion in a way not conducive to reverse-engineering?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 2:33 PM
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Would it have mattered if it could have been reverse engineered? The Japanese couldn't have started up the required industry at the time. I guess it would have sped things up for the Soviets had somehow gotten to southern Japan first, maybe?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 2:36 PM
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I did a middle school report on the Manhattan Project so I am an expert. It wasn't tested because the limitation was fissile material, the theory was pretty sound since they'd already had reactors that showed the capability of reaching criticality. If I remember correctly they weren't quite sure how big the boom would be but they knew there would be one. I guess the big risk was that Japan/USSR could have scooped up the enriched material and had a big head start on enrichment, but it would have had to have been a complete dud to allow that and the high explosives alone were enough to ensure that the U235 would at least be spread all over even if it failed as a nuclear device.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 2:42 PM
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Right about reverse engineering. It's true as a thought experiment that they'd be able to pull together a remarkable amount of 235, all they'd need if the mechanism failed. But that implies they'd have recognized it for what it was if it didn't go off.

I can see them coming back for it once the Plutonium one went off, but it was moot by then anyway.

The bomb was to change minds: Japanese fighters to the death and the Russians.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 2:55 PM
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The basic idea of the gun-style bomb was simple. And the Soviets had spies in Los Alamos anyway. The hard work for that bomb was entirely about the U235, which, per above, would have entailed huge levels of industry.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 3:20 PM
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If I remember correctly they weren't quite sure how big the boom would be . . .

And, if I recall correctly, part of why Hiroshima was selected as a target was that it was less damaged by previous bombing than other Japanese cities and so would make it easier to tell exactly how much damage the nuke did.

Checking wikipedia . . .

[Possible target] cities were largely untouched during the nightly bombing raids and the Army Air Forces agreed to leave them off the target list so accurate assessment of the weapon could be made. Hiroshima was described as "an important army depot and port of embarkation in the middle of an urban industrial area. It is a good radar target and it is such a size that a large part of the city could be extensively damaged. There are adjacent hills which are likely to produce a focusing effect which would considerably increase the blast damage. Due to rivers it is not a good incendiary target."

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 4:16 PM
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I forget from whether it was Rhodes' book or some other source, but the guy who died from "ticking the dragon's tail"* presumably was working with the two hemispheres used in the gun version of the bomb?**

* This involved pushing the hemispheres closer and closer together to gather data on how close they really had to get to trigger the explosion. Either they underestimated the radiation output or he slipped as he was doing it. Stories differ.

** This wouldn't work on the implosion bomb as there were many small pieces that in pairs wouldn't go critical.***

*** All of this is from fairly ancient memory so it may be wrong.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 12-15-16 5:34 PM
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re: 209

Plutonium cores for the implosion bomb. Two people died from different experiments on the same core. The core itself picked up a reputation.

The implosion bomb was two hemispheres with a tiny pea sized neutron initiator in the middle. The hemispheres of plated plutonium, the initiator of polonium and beryllium. The idea was that the two hemispheres were less than critical mass, but when imploded they became much more dense when squashed to a fraction of their starting size, the neutron paths became shorter and it went supercritical.


There were a couple of 'dragon's tail' experiments. There was that one -- with the two halves of the implosion bomb -- and another that Frisch invented for the gun bomb, which involved dropping the 'bullet' through a hole in the 'target' and measuring neutron output as it went critical for fractions of a second. The success of that was why they didn't test the gun bomb.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 2:25 AM
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The idea that we, now, could muster that level of commitment in terms of expense, and expertise, even just in terms of basic project management is hilarious.

Not sure about that. The Manhattan Project cost $25 billion (in 2016 dollars) and lasted four years. Apollo was eight times as expensive. Polaris was far more complex - they had to invent PERT just to manage it. I would imagine that SAGE was almost as complex.
There are half a dozen defence projects happening right now in the UK and US which will cost more and take longer. Nuclear missile submarines are amazingly complex projects - the Trident Successor project in the UK will be far more expensive and take far longer than the Manhattan Project. What was special about the Manhattan project was the level of secrecy it aimed at (but didn't achieve) and the amount of fundamental science involved. It wasn't that it needed unprecedented levels of management skill. If you read Rhodes, you'll realise how amateurish a lot of the MED management was.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 2:55 AM
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The core itself picked up a reputation.

Don't core shame.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 5:55 AM
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Check your privilege. That core didn't grow up with the backpack! it was machined out of a block of toxic, highly radioactive plutonium as part of a military-industrial complex plan to use so-called hard science's vapid instrumental rationality to brutally vaporise real bodies OH FUCK IT WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO EDUCATE YOU *flounce*


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 6:40 AM
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Alex is indulging in Pusplaining.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 6:49 AM
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Or possibly Fat Mansplaining.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 6:50 AM
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Speaking of, there are donuts in the kitchen and a Christmas party at 1:00.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 6:51 AM
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Thanks for 198.
215 is good.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 7:17 AM
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211 is true, but OTOH I think ttaM is quite right in terms of the speed of action. I doubt any comparable project could be done so fast today if necessary, especially if it involved acquiring huge properties and building huge and dangerous facilities.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 7:22 AM
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It would be interesting to see how quickly Japan could build a functioning atomic weapon today, should the US pull out of its military commitments and the regional security situation go pear-shaped. It has all the the nuclear material and technology needed, and presumably the expertise. Estimates I've seen range from "virtually overnight" (Biden being less than subtle to Xi in 2014) to several years, though six months is the usual figure that's bandied about. Given how intensely people do work on projects there when required, though, I wonder if it might not be weeks rather than months. (Obviously I have no desire to see this actually happen.)


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 7:54 AM
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2014 s/b 2016


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 8:02 AM
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I doubt any comparable project could be done so fast today if necessary, especially if it involved acquiring huge properties and building huge and dangerous facilities.

The Manhattan Project also created a tremendous mess. There are tanks of liquid waste at Hanford which are just an undocumented radioactive/toxic nightmare that no one wants to go anywhere near (and which leak into the water supply on a regular basis).

219 is a very interesting question and I'm sure that a lot of effort has gone into answering it in various government agencies around the world.
Just googling around, it seems they are 18 months away from opening a reprocessing plant that could handle 8 tons of Pu per year (and could technically open it pretty much immediately; it's just politics stopping it). Or they could reopen the smaller, older one at Tokai. So producing the five kilos of Pu doesn't seem like it would take that long. Once you have it, you've done the difficult bit. You need to come up with a good initiator design, and a good implosion design, and then smelt the Pu into a core shape. Six months doesn't sound unreasonable.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 8:04 AM
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Further to 221.1, yes, sure, those aspects would take longer. But that's because it's more difficult now to displace native populations and recklessly pollute the countryside with lethal radioactive waste. I don't think either of those developments are particularly unfortunate, or particularly to be blamed on the rich eating the world.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 8:06 AM
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221.3: Japan already has a huge stockpile of separated plutonium, so the production time for that part at least would be zero.


Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 8:13 AM
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Great. Now I don't know what to get them for Christmas that they don't already have.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 8:18 AM
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Maybe some whales?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 8:19 AM
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223: for safety reasons, I hope that in fact what they have is a large number of small stockpiles of separated plutonium, with judicious gaps between the piles.


This is the tale of Frederick Worms
Whose parents weren't on speaking terms,
So when Fred wrote to Santa Claus
It was in duplicate because
One went to Dad and one to Mum,
Both asking for Plutonium.
See the result: Father and Mother
Without consulting one another,
Purchase two lumps of largish size
Intending them as a surprise,
Which met in Frederick's stocking and
Lay level ten square miles of land.
Learn from this dismal tale of fission
Not to mix science and superstition.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 8:23 AM
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,[applause]


Posted by: Nw | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 3:28 PM
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Did anyone else see 225? That's absolutely magnificent.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 6:00 PM
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I think you mean 226.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 8:00 PM
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To be fair, 225 is pretty good too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-16-16 8:03 PM
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