Is SF Getting More Conservative?

Interesting article here at Pyjama’s Media, and a very interesting mass of comments ensuing. This is mostly American-centric so definitions of conservative, left, liberal etc are slightly different from the British version. I’d also submit that the question in the title is one that wouldn’t even be asked here. ‘One swallow does not a summer make’ would be the relevant proverb.

I am a complete science fiction geek.

It started when I was little more than a toddler. One of my earliest memories: sitting in the basement with my parents as they watched Walter Cronkite narrate one of the Apollo missions as it rounded the moon. (Which one? I couldn’t have been more than three or four, and I was born in 1971. You do the math.) It left an impression. I’ve been a fan ever since.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed more and more that science fiction has taken a bit of a turn to the right. I’ve also seen more than a few reviews lambasting those authors for their views — which seems to matter not a whit to their sales.

So I emailed four of them — two relative newcomers and two legends — and asked why.

The legends, Dr. Jerry Pournelle and Orson Scott Card, need no introduction. But it bears mention that Ender’s Game, Card’s best-known work, is on the Commandant of the Marine Corps recommended reading list as a treatise on what it means to be a leader. The newcomers, Lt. Col Tom Kratman (Ret.) and Larry Correia, both write for Baen.

Impending UFO/ET Disclosure by Obama Government.

Okay, not April 1st. I think that what must have happened is that I somehow did something or was involved in something that’s shoved me off main-line time down the probability slope into the Twilight Zone.

Chinese National Television Xinhua news is now reporting an impending extraterrestrial disclosure by the Obama administration.

The unprecedented national China TV news bulletin that U.S. President Barack Obama may be preparing to disclose U.S. relations with specific extraterrestrial races was broadcast on the official channel Xinhua on January 4, 2011 on the eve of China President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the United States.

Homeopathic DNA

Okay, enough already! Who drugged me into a coma for three months last January? And why did they think it funny to wake me up on April 1st? This is silly … or is it?

A Nobel Prize winning biologist has ignited controversy after publishing details of an experiment in which a fragment of DNA appeared to ‘teleport’ or imprint itself between test tubes.

According to a team headed by Luc Montagnier, previously known for his work on HIV and AIDS, two test tubes, one of which contained a tiny piece of bacterial DNA, the other pure water, were surrounded by a weak electromagnetic field of 7Hz.

Eighteen hours later, after DNA amplification using a polymerase chain reaction, as if by magic the DNA was detectable in the test tube containing pure water.

Oddly, the original DNA sample had to be diluted many times over for the experiment to work, which might explain why the phenomenon has not been detected before, assuming that this is what has happened.

BBC Biased.

Gosh, I’m so surprised about this article from Peter Sissons. There was me thinking the BBC was the home of unbiased reporting and excellence…

Peter Sissons tell us:
By far the most popular and widely read newspapers at the BBC are The Guardian and The Independent. ­Producers refer to them routinely for the line to take on ­running stories, and for inspiration on which items to cover. In the later stages of my career, I lost count of the number of times I asked a producer for a brief on a story, only to be handed a copy of The Guardian and told ‘it’s all in there’.

If you want to read one of the few copies of the Daily Mail that find their way into the BBC newsroom, they are difficult to track down, and you would be advised not to make too much of a show of reading them. Wrap them in brown paper or a copy of The Guardian, would be my advice.

Whatever the United Nations is associated with is good — it is heresy to question any of its activities. The EU is also a good thing, but not quite as good as the UN. Soaking the rich is good, despite well-founded economic arguments that the more you tax, the less you get. And Government spending is a good thing, although most BBC ­people prefer to call it investment, in line with New Labour’s terminology.

All green and environmental groups are very good things. Al Gore is a saint. George Bush was a bad thing, and thick into the bargain. Obama was not just the Democratic Party’s candidate for the White House, he was the BBC’s. Blair was good, Brown bad, but the BBC has now lost interest in both.

But whatever your talent, sex or ethnicity, there’s one sure-fire way at a BBC promotions board to ensure you don’t get the job, indeed to bring your career to a grinding halt. And that’s if, when asked which post-war politician you most admire, you reply: ‘Margaret Thatcher’.

Queensland Floods.

Because, apparently, Australia would be subject to increasing global warming drought, damming projects in Queensland were shelved and desalination plants built instead (now mothballed). This is a matter of record and a source of anger for many residents there. Also, it’s not a great idea to build on flood plains. However, the usual suspects are claiming this one for ‘catastrophic climate change’ and, as is usual, their grasp of history is about as firm as chocolate pliers.

17th January: Highest flood on record, occurred at Brisbane and Ipswich.

10th January: Heavy floods at Ipswich.

17th December: Flood at Ipswich.

11th April: Heavy floods at Brisbane and Ipswich.

19th and 20th May: Great floods at Ipswich and Brisbane; river at Ipswich rose 45 feet, and at Brisbane 12 feet.

The above is just a small sample. If you go and check here at ‘Queensland Flood History’ you’ll discover enough to boggle the mind. This has fuck all to do with ‘catastrophic climate change’.

Underwater Oil Rigs

This seems like a good setting for near-future SF, something for Peter Watts I reckon:

Petrobras plans to turn science fiction into reality to extract oil from the vast pre-salt oil fields discovered off the south east coast of Brazil.

The plan is to construct ‘cities’ more than 2,000 metres under water, containing machines, giant pieces of equipment and robots that could inspect the systems being used to extract millions of barrels of oil. Many operations would be fully automated while others would be controlled by humans at a distance.

Time to Stop Paying N.I.?

West Kent PCT tells us, “We are committed to delivering equality of opportunity for all service users, carers, staff and wider communities.”

And now tells us:

From this month, patients who smoke and need planned surgery will have to complete a NHS Stop Smoking course before their operation.

Patients who are clinically obese or with a BMI (body mass index) of more than 30 will also have their surgery delayed and will have to carry out a weight loss programme.

So, if you smoke or you are too fat you don’t get the surgery. It doesn’t matter that this is a service you have been forced to pay for all your life.

H/T Dick Puddlecote

No Icebergs but Plenty of Ice.

Caroline, who has a fascination with the Titanic, booked us up to go to the O2 yesterday (O2 is of course a better name that ‘Millennium Dome’ and its associations with the laughable ‘millennium experience’ and about a billion in wasted money, for a fucking tent) but, with the weather we’ve been having, we were starting to have second thoughts. However, in the end I said let’s just go for it, so we did.

There was ice and snow everywhere and the road leading down to Althorne station was a sheet of ice (apparently roads to railway stations are not main routes that need gritting?), but if you don’t drive like a dick that wasn’t a problem. We parked at the station where only three cars occupied a car park that was normally full, and waited for out train, which was only a few minutes late. This would take us to Shenfield where we would then change for a train to Stratford, then hop on the Jubilee line heading for the O2.

However, the train stopped at Wickford and we then had to wait for three-quarters of an hour for another train to take us to Stratford. Luckily the pies and coffee there were cheap and good and, during the ensuing journey, some lunatics dressing up as super heroes (on their way to a party) were aboard to cheer us up.

At Stratford, because we hadn’t actually checked which stop we had to get off at to get to the O2 we did that old-time British thing and asked direction from a couple of policemen. They hadn’t got a clue and were in danger of putting us on the wrong course until another traveller put them right. We had to go to North Greenwich. From there to the O2 is just a short walk, and soon we reached the ‘Bubble’ where the Titanic artefacts display was located. Unfortunately I can’t put up any photographs because we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. It was all pretty interesting and the American staff there were very informative and helpful. We spent an hour and three-quarters checking out the exhibits.

What they do, when you go in, is issue you with copy of a ticket for one of the Titanic passengers so, on the way out, you can see whether or not you survived. Both Caroline and I did survive, though she wasn’t in first class like me. They also take a photo against a green screen so on the way out you can buy a picture of yourself standing before the staircase Leonardo Dicaprio swanned down in the last scene of the film. Within the exhibition there is also a block of ice maintained at the temperature of the sea most of the passengers went into. Really, all they needed to do was turn off the heating.

After this we enjoyed a meal before heading home. On the way out I got a proper look at what I have to put forward as a contender for any ‘ugly building’ awards there might be.

Stratford was a nightmare. It took us half an hour to find a platform at which a train was due to head in the direction we wanted to go. Whilst waiting there we watched the train before ours arrive, full of people and with loads of people on the platform wanting to get on. It was like a scene out of some disaster movie with the crowds trying to escape the tsunami or the Martian war machines. When the doors finally closed, leaving a lot of passengers behind, I half expected to see severed limbs on the platform. When our train arrived the scenario was little different and, of course, you find that once aboard the train the problem stems from selfish dicks clustering about the door and not moving on down the carriage.

This train took us to Shenfield where similar scenes were being enacted. I was waiting for station staff to come out with machine-guns and leashed alsations, but station staff were notable by their absence. Here, and at Wickford station was where I started to feel the urge to lob a brick at any visible loudspeaker. The phrase, ‘we apologise for any inconvenience caused’ tends to cause one to doubt if there’s any contrition involved when it’s a recording being played ad nauseum. It then occurred to me then that a better name than the one painted on the sides of the trains might be ‘National Excuse’. I also noted how the phrase, ‘for your safety and comfort smoking is prohibited’ was always immediately followed by ‘for your safety and comfort this station has CCTV’ (note: I might have the precise wording wrong here, but you get the gist of it). Another one was something along the lines of, ‘due to the adverse weather conditions the platform is extremely slippery’. Well, no shit Sherlock.

When we finally got home I had to drive back from the station in second gear, never going above about 20 miles an hour. The car is in the garage now and I’m sitting next to the radiator, never to venture out again unless for essential supplies. You guys who have to go through that shit every day have my deepest sympathy.

Cannabis Factory

Just posting this here because this is our local town, in fact Caroline used to work nearby this building at one time. I snaffled this from the Essex Police site. But then, this is not as close as the big cannabis greenhouse discovered in our village. Seems to be a common criminal occupation in Essex and, when in a Dengie 100 pub you mustn’t ask why you saw an aeroplane landing without lights on a local field. But it’s a crying shame that they’re destroying all this. They should legalize it and tax it. We need the money.

More than 8000 plants with an estimated street value of £2 million were discovered during a raid on an industrial unit in Heybridge near Maldon on Tuesday, November 9.

Nine purpose built rooms housing 280kg of skunk plants in various stages of growth and a sophisticated set up of lighting and hydropnic equipment were uncovered at a former print works in Hall Road.

Officers estimate the factory will have cost in the region of £250,000 to set up and may have been involved in supplying drugs across the UK and possibly abroad.

The factory also included its own electrical substation which had been illegally linked directly into local mains power supplies.

It is the largest ever discovered in Essex and is thought to be one of the biggest ever uncovered across the UK.

4.8 Trillion National Debt.


If you stack £50 notes on top of each other, one after the other, the stack would need to be over 6000 miles high to achieve that amount. If you threw £50 notes out of a window at a rate of one every second, it would take you over 3000 years to reduce that stack to zero. Martin Durkin came out with various neat little analogies during Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story, like, for example, Chancellor Osborne’s spending cuts being the equivalent of trying to empty a full to over-flowing bath, which is still filling from the taps, with an egg cup. He also came out with some plain statements of fact, like, the debt for every man, woman and child in Britain is £77,000, and growing, like, if you sold off every house in Britain that wouldn’t pay it.

He also tells us in simple terms how we got into this position what with politicians buying votes, spending on crap, borrowing from the future to saddle future generations with debt. By politicians, who all agree that monopolies are a bad thing, creating state monopolies, like one of the biggest on Earth, the NHS. And he has a neat counter to the claim that any other option would lead to in-it-for-profit medical organisations. Do we refuse to buy our next car from Toyota, our next flat screen from Samsung or our next loaf of bread from Asda because they are all in it for the profit? Would we instead prefer state-manufactured products like the wonderful stuff produced by the soviets?

Of course, the Keynesians, Guardianistas and other daft socialists would claim, ‘But it’s not that simple!’ It is. You don’t spend what you haven’t got, and you don’t keep borrowing when you’re already heavily in debt. Simples.

Another target is welfare, the dole, how we are paying people to sit on their arses and remain in poverty. Last year the welfare bill was larger than the tax collected, which is unsustainable madness. Durkin tells us that the public sector in Britain is now bigger than the private sector and is a bloated parasite sucking up wealth, killing its host. If this continues the money will die and, really, before we get out of that there will be blood on the streets.

But there’s a way out and it is quite simple. Slash the public sector by half, make welfare a limited net and not a lifetime one, privatize the NHS and get rid of all those non-jobs because, when the figures are totted up, all those state jobs we regard as essential are filled by about 2 million employees, whilst on top of them are 5.5 million bureaucrats. Slash taxes to 20%, flat, nothing else, and paid only by those earning above something like £15,000 a year. Don’t, for example, tax someone on £15,000 then feed the tax back to them in benefits after the pointless bureaucracy created for the purpose has taken its cut. All of this would instigate an almost immediate regeneration, as it did in Hong Kong, the tiger economies and China (which incidentally has a public sector about half the size of Britain’s).

It’s not going to happen, however. Because the public sector is now 53% of the economy, and most of those working in it are not going to be turkeys voting for Christmas. It’s also the case that a large proportion of the population doesn’t have a clue about economics, and have thought processes that end at ‘money from the government’ and cannot stretch to ‘but the government has to get its money from somewhere’. Many don’t realise that every time the government does some ‘quantitative easing’ it’s actually taxing them yet again. Many don’t understand that whilst money will never run out, it can soon enough end up being valueless.

I rather think that sitting in our nice warm houses, with our shiny cars outside, with our TVs, computers and mobile phones, with our frequent trips to the supermarket and regular purchases off the Internet, we’re living in a false reality. It’s like one of those disaster movies in which you first see the cast of characters living their daily lives before things turn nasty. The asteroid is drawing closer, the terrorists are finishing the bomb wiring and loading their weapons, the tsunami is just starting to rise over the horizon or, being more relevant and prosaic in our case, the bailiffs are starting up their vans.

I wonder if now is the time to load the loft with canned goods, buy a generator and stock up on diesel, and then inquire of the local hoodies where it might be possible to buy an AK47. I wonder if right now is the time to take out any savings we have and turn them into Krugerrands, before Sterling turns into a poor and slippery substitute for Andrex.