Interstellar and my Inner Anti-Abortionist.

Let’s start this review by warning you all that major spoilers follow. Then let’s talk about abortion.

If I squint really hard, I can sort of see how someone possessed of a belief in an immortal soul— and further, that it slides down the chute the moment some lucky sperm achieves penetration— might hold an antiabortion stance on the grounds that they’re protecting Sacred Human Life. What I can’t see is how that stance would be in any way compatible with actively denying the means to prevent such life from being jeopardized in the first place. And yet— assuming the stats haven’t changed since I last looked in on them— the majority of those who unironically refer to themselves as “pro-Life” not only oppose abortion, but birth control and sex education as well.

You can’t reasonably describe such a suite of beliefs as “pro Life”. You can’t even reasonably describe them as “anti-abortion”. What they are is anti-sex. These people just don’t want us fucking except under their rules, and if we insist on making our own we should damn well pay the price. We deserve that STD. We should be forced to carry that pregnancy to term, to give up the following two decades of our lives— not because new life is a sacred and joyous thing, but because it is onerous and painful, a penalty for breaking the rules. We should suffer. We should live to regret our wanton animalistic shortsightedness. It is galling to think that we might just skip gaily off into the sunset, postcoitally content, unburdened by the merest shred of guilt. There should be consequences.

Movies like Interstellar serve as an uncomfortable reminder that maybe I have more in common with those assholes than I’d like to admit.

*

In a market owned by genre, where every second movie is crammed to the gills with spaceships and aliens (or, at the very least, plucky young protagonists dishing out Truth to Power), Interstellar aspires to inspire.  It explicitly sets out to follow in the footsteps of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It wants to make you think, and wonder.

It succeeds, too. It makes me wonder how it could fall so far short of a movie made half a century ago.

This is not to say that Interstellar is a bad movie. It actually has significantly more on the ball than your average 21rst-century genre flick (although granted, that’s a much lower bar to clear than the one Kubrick presented). The dust-bowl vistas of a dying Earth evoke the sort of grim desolation we used to get from John Brunner’s environmental dytopias, and— most of the time, anyway—  Interstellar shows a respect for science comparable to that evident in Gravity and 2001.

This part was pretty cool.

This part was pretty cool.

Admittedly, my delight at seeing space presented as silent has more to do with the way decades of Hollywood crap have hammered down my own expectations than it does with any groundbreaking peaks of verisimilitude; it’s not as though every school kid doesn’t know there’s no sound in a vacuum. On the other hand, the equations Interstellar‘s FX team used to render the lensing effects around Gargantua, the movie’s black hole— equations derived by theoretical physicist-and-science-consultant Kip Thorne— have provided the basis for at least one astrophysics paper here in the real world, an accomplishment that would make Arthur C. Clarke jealous. The hole was carefully parameterized to let our protags do what the plot required without being spaghettified or cooked by radiation. The physics of space travel and Gargantua’s relativistic extremes are, I’m willing to believe, plausibly worked out.  So much of the science seems so much better than we have any right to expect from a big-budget blockbuster aimed at the popcorn set.

Why, then, does the same movie that gets the physics of event horizons right also ask us to believe that icebergs float unsupported in the clouds of alien worlds? How can the same movie that shows such a nuanced grasp of the gravity around black holes serve up such a face-palming portrayal of gravity around planets? And even if we accept the premise of ocean swells the size of the Himalayas (Thorne himself serves up some numbers that I’m sure as shit not going to dispute), wouldn’t such colossal formations be blindingly obvious from orbit? Wouldn’t our heroes have seen them by just looking out the window on the way down?  How dumb do you have to be to let yourself get snuck up on by a mountain range?

Almost as dumb, perhaps, as you’d be to believe that “love” is some kind of mysterious cosmic force transcending time and space, even though you hold a doctorate in biology.

"Love is a— you're joking, right? Please tell me you're fucking joking.

“Love is a— you’re joking, right? Please tell me you’re fucking joking.”

You’re probably already aware of the wails and sighs that arose from that particular gaffe. Personally, I didn’t find it as egregious as I expected—at least Amelia Brand’s inane proclamation was immediately rebutted by Cooper’s itemization of the mundane social-bonding functions for which “love” is a convenient shorthand. It was far from a perfect exchange, but at least the woo did not go unchallenged. What most bothered me about that line— beyond the fact that anyone with any scientific background could deliver it with a straight face— was the fact that it had to be delivered by Anne Hathaway. If we’re going to get all mystic about the Transcendent Power of Lurve, could we a least invert the cliché a bit by using a male as the delivery platform?

The world that contains Interstellar is far more competent than the story it holds. It was built by astrophysicists and engineers, and it is a thing of wonder. The good ship Endurance, for example, oozes verisimilitude right down to the spin rate. Oddly, though, the same movie also shows us a civilization over a century into the future— a whole species luxuriating in the spacious comfort of a myriad O’Neil cylinders orbiting Saturn— in which the medical technology stuck up Murphy Cooper’s nose hasn’t changed its appearance since 2012. (Compare that to 2001, which anticipated flatscreen tech so effectively that it got cited in Apple’s lawsuit against Samsung half a century later.) (Compare it also to Peter Hyam’s inferior sequel 2010, in which Discovery‘s flatscreens somehow devolved back into cathode-ray-tubes during its decade parked over Io.)

Why such simultaneous success and failure of technical extrapolation in the same movie? I can only assume that the Nolans sought out expert help to design their spaceships, but figured their own vision would suffice for the medtech. Unfortunately, their vision isn’t all it could be.

This is the heart of the problem.  Interstellar soars when outsourced; only when the Nolans do something on their own does it suck. The result is a movie in which the natural science of the cosmos is rendered with glorious mind-boggling precision, while the people blundering about within it are morons.  NASA happens to be set up just down the road from the only qualified test pilot on the continent— a guy who’s friends with the Mission Director, for Chrissakes— yet nobody thinks to just knock on his door and ask for a hand. No, they just sit there through years of R&D until cryptic Talfamadorians herd Cooper into their clutches by scribbling messages in the dirt.  Once the mission finally achieves liftoff,  Endurance‘s crew can’t seem to take a dump without explaining to each other what they’re doing and why. (Seriously, dude? You’re a bleeding-edge astronaut on a last-ditch Humanity-saving mission through a wormhole, and you didn’t even know what a wormhole looked like until someone explained it to you while you were both staring at the damn thing through your windshield?)

You could argue that the Nolans don’t regard their characters as morons so much as they regard us that way; some of this might  be no more than clunky infodumping delivered for our benefit.  If so, they apparently think we’re just as dumb about emotional resonance and literary allusion as we are about the technical specs on black holes.  Michael Caine has to hammer home the same damn rage against the dying of the light stanza on three separate occasions, just in case it might slip under our radar.

And yet, Interstellar came so close in some ways.  The sheer milk-out-the-nose absurdity of a project to lift billions of people off-planet turns out to be, after all, just a grand lie to motivate short-sighted human brain stems— until Murphy Cooper figures out how to do it for real after all.  Amelia Brand’s heartbroken, irrational description of love as some kind of transcendent Cosmic Force, invoked in a desperate bid to reunite with her lost lover and instantly shot down by Cooper’s cooler intellect—  until Cooper encounters the truth of those idiot beliefs in the heart of a black hole.  Time and again, Interstellar edges toward the Cold Equations, only to chicken out when the chips are down.

*

But the thing that most bugs me about this movie— the thing that comes closest to offending me, although I can’t summon anywhere near that much intensity— was something I knew going in, because it’s right there in the tag line on every advance promo, every Coming-Soon poster:

The end of the Earth will not be the end of us.

 Or

Mankind was born on earth. It was never meant to die here.

Or

We were not meant to save the Earth.  We were meant to leave it.

Which all comes down to

Let’s trash the place, then skip out and stick everyone else with the bill.

Check your technosapiens privilege, asshole.

Check your technosapiens privilege, asshole.

This is where I finally connect with my inner antiabortionist.  Because I, too, think you should pay for your sins. I think that if you break it, you damn well own it; and if your own short-sighted stupidity has killed off your life-support system, it’s only right and proper that that you suffer, that you sink into the quagmire along with the other nine million species your appetites have condemned to extinction. There should be consequences.

And yet, even in the face of Interstellar‘s objectionable political stance— baldly stated, unquestioned, and unapologetic—  I can only bristle, not find fault. Because this is perhaps the one time the Nolan sibs got their characters right.  Shitting all over the living room rug and leaving our roommates to deal with the mess? That’s exactly what we’d do, if we could get away with it.

Besides. When all is said and done, this was still a hell of a lot better than Prometheus.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Tuesday December 02 2014at 12:12 pm , filed under ink on art, reviews . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

93 Responses to “Interstellar and my Inner Anti-Abortionist.”

  1. Yeah, had many of the same thoughts, but I had to give it props for basically putting a bunch of hard sci fi concepts up on the screen, even if they had to surround them with cotton to soften the edges. It was pretty much a disneyfied Stephen Baxter novel.

    Can’t figure out how you can outrun a contamination like the one they were facing just by going into space. Wouldn’t it follow? Are they constantly purging O’neill cylinders to kill it? BTW it reminded me of your ßehemoth bug (Never could figure out how triggering a tsunami was supposed to sterilize the continent either, by the way).

    I liked the reliable AIs too, with this and Moon it looks like friendly robots are back in vogue.

    And, I’ve only seen relativity done on screen in anime before, so that was nice too.

  2. Nestor, I think that the tsunami was just the side effect of going nuclear on the area where behemoth was

  3. Haven’t seen it yet, so….

    But do have a couple of movie req’s and comment about a third, maybe a fourth.

    Snowpiercer and Transcendence. The first is a strange stylized version of our current predicament that Interstellar attempts to answer differently perhaps. The second, well, like Pete said in an interview some months back, you’d have to hold a gun to his head to be transferred into a computer system. {All our memes are belong to Hollywood.} That one kind of does that as well. There’s even kind of zombies in both, though you’d have to really squint to see that in Snowpiercer.

    An older one, The Giver, based on a book that is oddly {?} required reading these days in many schools in the States, was, I think, primarily anti-neoliberal and a statement about these same kind of questions about nature’s balance and who should have a say about that. It kind of {spoilerish} turns on its head when the question turns from abortion to capital punishment, making it perhaps also anti-neoconservative.

    Then there’s Sin City 2 which I neither confirm nor deny liking because it can get me into trouble in all sorts of ways with all kinds of people. A quote: “Looks like Christmas.” ‘Nuff said.

    Finally, a comment about the no-sex, no-abortion instructions question. I think that comes down to “go forth and multiply,” which in decrepit corrupt institution talk means invest in a future of more followers, who are also more crusade-friendly, ie cranky due to sexual frustration, because they aren’t enjoying life to the fullest. This lesson seems to be one that hasn’t entirely lost its luster despite its age, witness the mess south of the Canadian border where the mouth says one thing, but the professionals in DC do well when the party with the mouth is having a shindig in town. “Do as we say, not as we do.”

  4. I was seriously groaning throughout all that “intrepid pioneer” bullshit. Settler colonialism thinks it can just continue to go around trashing shit wherever you go, instead of learning how to live in the place you are. But hey, I’m just an indigenous girl. Settler colonialism is bullshit.

  5. It’s like reading my own thoughts about Interstellar. I literally face-palmed when Hathaway delivered the “love is quantifiable” speech. Great post.

  6. Peter, you had me at “Let’s trash the place, then skip out and stick everyone else with the bill”.

    Yeah, I think we’ve more than earned whatever calamity befalls our species, even if it’s our own doing. I believe it’s certainly likely that we could make this planet inhospitable to life for some time. Eventually, some forms of life might find a way to survive, at least if most others are killed off.

    As a woman, I have to say I get the ‘love is bullshit’ thing. I usually end up rolling my eyes at nonsense spouted about it’s supposed power. I wish we could all just accept it for what it is, and move on to more constructive pursuits. What sucks is that our society puts it on a fucking pedestal, along with our biological wiring (which could now be considered faulty in one sense, since the population is at an unnaturally high 7-8 billion). The only other organisms that can either keep up or outrank us there are rodents, insects, and various bacteria & viruses.

  7. Ryan,

    Probably, it’s been a while and my recollections are hazy. Hell it’s only been a couple of months and I need to reread Echopraxia to see if I can figure it out any better the second time around :)

    Given the structure of the movie it was never really in any doubt that “Plan A” would succeed (I mean they started with documentaries reminiscing aboutt he bad old Earth days) but at least the concept of it being a ruse to get people motivated was there.

  8. But why were the bonobos smashing femurs on the ground at the beginning of the movie? Oops. Never mind.

  9. I hated to politics of Interstellar and won’t even attempt to add to Peter’s take down.

    One thing I will defend are the waves. Watching the movie I had a horrible feeling of Prometheus striking (really, can’t use a weather satellite to detect that hurricane?) but here’s where they got the time distortion right.

    Keep in mind that for every hour spent on the surface 7 YEARS pass in orbit.

    That’s 61, 360.74 hours. Assuming that the waves on the surface were travelling at the same speed as the 2006 tsunami of 500km/hr that means for the ship the waves would appear to be moving 8.1 meters/ hour

    If the ship was orbitting the planet every 90 minutes it would be forgivable for the ships system to not notice this very insignificant movement.

    After reading this blog for several years, it’s nice to take you to school for once.
    That’ll probably be the only time.

  10. There’s a hilarious critique of Nolan’s Inception, and his general writing/direction issues, that points out that Nolan delivers every important bit of information three times. Characters will repeat to each other information they all already know just so that the viewers hear it three times and are sure to get it. It’s hand-holding, and it’s super annoying. Makes me think the director isn’t confident that people are paying attention to the movie they’re watching.

    That’s probably why there’s Caine’s repeated sentiment in this movie (haven’t seen it, don’t think I want to).

  11. I really wanted to love Interstellar, but ended up feeling pretty much the same way as Peter did. However, I live in Korea, and Koreans *love* Interstellar — it’s the fourth-biggest foreign film ever already. My wife really liked it, for pretty much all the same reasons Peter and I didn’t. Schmaltz sells, especially here (and China, where it’s also doing crazy business).

    But however mediocre the movie was, at least it tried to do a bit more than most Hollywood films do these days.

    As for the morality of it all, the people should suffer for their sins … well, as Paul Krugman points out all the time with economics, life is not a morality play. Stuff happens. Bad people often escape punishment. The meek inherent little. Maybe humanity destroys itself, or maybe it stumbles over a way to turn shit into energy in the nick of time. Life is absurd. Shrug.

  12. Ok, going to throw this out there even though, again, not seen the film nor the eyeroll scene.

    Seems to me that one way to look at love is as a drug. Saying it’s not important to humanity…if anyone is saying that…is like saying the Spice isn’t important to the Dune universe.

    As such, it alters perception and has had an incredible effect on the affairs of our often shitty species. In that sense, an alternate level of consciousness or whateverthefuck, it probably does transcend something or other. After all, “reality” is in our heads, created as theater by our brains based on our limited senses developed as the bare minimum required to survive thus far.

    {BTW, I find Lynn’s comment fascinating since all I tend to see these days is hatred expressed in one way or another.}

    That said, I think there’s something out there that would easily replace the need for objects of affection and be highly addictive if introduced. Call it a hunch.

    All of which was really just so I could plug yet something else. A new {?} website offering not only some sometimes decent TV, but built-in DVRing so you don’t have to watch the shows when they air. Saw an interesting doc on Ayahuasca on there, though it was hard to tell if one couldn’t just see the same on YouTube.

    http://pluto.tv

    But they had some older scifi films as well, and 24-hour dog, cat, and shark channels. Well, channels dedicated to them, anyway. Think they go off the “air” at some point.

  13. I think all in all it was a decent flick. Not the best imaginable, but come on, sci-fi is quite thoroughly contaminated with profoundly mysticist tropes and it is exceptionally hard to systematically eschew all of them (even the most respectable gentlemen can’t always resist the alure of having at least a little bit of “quantum telepathy” in some of their stories, right 😉 ?).
    The way “love as a physical force” was handled was clumsy and frankly stereotypical, but it could be so much worse that all in all, I can’t fault Interstellar too much.
    Some of the planets were whacky and goofy, yes, but I guess Nolanses hoped that at this point the viewer would be way too immersed to care, but with the kind of pacing Interstellar has, this hope turned out to be rather… misplaced.

  14. As is so often the case, The Editing Room did a great job making fun an overblown Hollywood film:
    http://www.the-editing-room.com/interstellar.html

  15. Stanoje,

    I’m pretty sure Nolan’s consciously embraced some of that lowest common denominator storytelling to try for some kind of populist or unaffected style. All the emotion and symbolism and infodump right there on the surface, with no pretentious nuance.

    It really galls an audience with some literary sensibilities, but if the rest of the movie is good, it can elevate the film to the level of a big splashy opera. I suppose it’s meant to feel mythic and sweep you off your feet.

    I guess I prefer it to needlessly obscure or difficult storytelling, but seems like the strategy is calcifying into a formula. I’m pretty sure I read “Audiences are stupid, make sure to repeat things three times” in a (bad) screenwriting 101 textbook.

  16. I had to go away and think about what I was going to say after reading your piece.

    Fundamentally I disagree with your position, because fundamentally I disagree with the anti-abortionist’s position, and what I see is a reversion to concrete-operational thinking over a more nuanced abstract-formal thinking in your response. The fact that we all can revert to concrete-operational thinking only demonstrates the point that Piaget made that even those that do develop into abstract-formal thinkers only maintain their thinking at this level for 30% of the time.

    My more nuanced response would therefore be that one needs to practice safe technological development and remember to recycle sensibly. In other words the same kind of advice one would give to youngster about sex – educating them, but allowing them to have as much fun as they want within safe practice.

    I would posit that what we’ll get will be about as far away as it’s possible to be from the position I stated, but that’s what survival of the fittest means – those rich enough to screw up will also be rich enough to ameliorate the consequences of their actions, while those who are poor will suffer the consequences of ignorance. Just like with the sex thing – the poor will be unable to afford abortions or have access to condoms etc. while the rich can have whatever they want.

    BTW: I was heartened to see more copies of Firefall and Echopraxia in the London Forbidden Planet superstore today. They even had a paperback copy of Behemoth for sale.

  17. Matt,

    I lost it at the line “Yes, we sunk all our hopes into a specialized vessel with no pilot because we all went to the Pacific Rim school of disaster planning.”

  18. Ugh, parts of this movie were so horrible, but there *were* bits I liked.

    I see in reviews that people really hated the exposition. I loved the documentary opening and closing as background noise. The constant refrain of the Dylan poem. granted, I think the refrain was repeated too often, but I wouldn’t have had it said only once. I don’t hate music for repeating just enough.

    I had similar reactions to the love as a delusional compass — and I thought at first the movie set it up to show that reality is the actual driver. the guy on the other planet, dead. not a love magnet. The data would be a sane basis for choosing a planet. It’s ironic that the guy was lying — I might say hate was the magnet. but it’s not. it’s just data. data can be wrong. humans are a mess.

    Might say that love is not a campass but a motivator. The daughter was driven by emotions and not just sheer curiosity about gravity. The emotions didn’t tell her about gravity, but they contributed to the amount of work.

    The NASA guy never even involving the pilot? wtf. wtf wtf.

    And I enjoyed pondering the differences from 2001. In 2001, the cold war is the menace. This movie is a conversation with 2001 about our menace.

    and it has disagreements with 2001 — no mysterious godlike entities whom we credit for uplifting us. just us.

    I guess you could hand wave and say the godlike entities are humans come back from the future to uplift their antecedents.

    yadda yadda. I’m still thinking through the movie. maybe I’ll come to dismiss it more soon.

  19. Amelia Brand’s heartbroken, irrational description of love as some kind of transcendent Cosmic Force, invoked in a desperate bid to reunite with her lost lover and instantly shot down by Cooper’s cooler intellect— until Cooper encounters the truth of those idiot beliefs in the heart of a black hole.

    To be fair, she was still wrong — it wasn’t the Power Of Love doing that, it was super future humans pulling a Xeelee-style closed timelike curve gambit on themselves. Cooper was just their instrument.

  20. The anti-abortionists restrict themselves to wanting personal responsibility, you should suffer for something you did. Mr. Watts is suggesting collective responsibility, not yet born people should suffer for what some portion of past generations did. Just wanted to say that makes no sense to me.

  21. Another science beef that no one else has seemed to pick up on.

    They required a 3 stage rocket to get into Earth orbit, but the landing craft was able to achieve orbit on two other planets with Earth-like gravity (one of them 130%) in a single stage.

    But now I’m just nit-picking. The politics sucked, the black hole was cool and my love for Anne Hathaway is unaltered despite the awful role.

  22. You can’t reasonably describe such a suite of beliefs as “pro Life”…:

    Sure you can. You just have to remember that “Pro-Life” is derived from “proliferationist”. Then it all makes sense.

    Don’t thank me, thank Ursula LeGuin.

  23. Aren’t we supposed to kill everything on this planet and live solely thanks to our unique technosapiens privilege? Remember how much biosphere tried to kill us, how much bottleneck events our ancestors have endured. Almost every singe species on this planet fully deserves its extinction. What, birds, you thought you have adapted with all you superior skeleton, feathers and other progressive traits? How about going into bottleneck, set up by some primitive neotenic mammals, that were not adapted to anything except pattern-matching, you reptilian motherfuckers[1]? Go parasitic, get useful or go meet Anomalocaris – fair choice, I think.

    [1] – literally motherfuckers, by the way

  24. Nestor: (Never could figure out how triggering a tsunami was supposed to sterilize the continent either, by the way).

    Ryan’s right. The quake was pure collateral. The GA would have much rather waited until tectonic conditions weren’t quite so dire, but the head cheese forced their hand.

    Greggles: After reading this blog for several years, it’s nice to take you to school for once.

    I wondered about that, but I’m dubious. It’s not the planet that stretches time like taffy, it’s the supermassive black hole that acts as the system’s primary. Get close enough to that event horizon and sure, you get massive time dilation— but that’s as you get closer to Gargantua, not the planet’s surface. The whole planet should experience time slippage to more or less the same degree. The difference between a ship in low orbit and one on the ground should be negligible.

    Or do I have to repeat the year?

    Ashley R Pollard: what I see is a reversion to concrete-operational thinking over a more nuanced abstract-formal thinking in your response. … My more nuanced response would therefore be that one needs to practice safe technological development and remember to recycle sensibly.

    Well yeah, of course. My reaction is completely visceral, which is why I have to admit to a certain unwanted kinship with the antiabortion crowd. Also why, at the end, I said I could only bristle, not object. One of the reasons why, anyway.

    Ashley R Pollard: BTW: I was heartened to see more copies of Firefall and Echopraxia in the London Forbidden Planet superstore today. They even had a paperback copy of Behemoth for sale.

    No, really? Are you sure? Because to my knowledge Behemoth never came out in paperback even in N’Am, and I can’t find any reference to such an edition online. (BTW, if you want to retain your high opinion of me, you may want to steer clear of that title; a lot of people hated it, even people who didn’t fall into the brain-dead trap of he-writes-about-torture-therefore-he’s-a-sadist.

    Jim: To be fair, she was still wrong — it wasn’t the Power Of Love doing that, it was super future humans pulling a Xeelee-style closed timelike curve gambit on themselves. Cooper was just their instrument.

    Yeah, but once Cooper was inside the tesseract, he was lost across an infinite timescape— and the only way he could find his way to the critical junctures, according to Cooper himself, was through the Force of Luurrve.

    Bookworm1398: Mr. Watts is suggesting collective responsibility, not yet born people should suffer for what some portion of past generations did.

    Oh, I think the bill is coming due sooner than you think. I’m pretty sure the Kochs and the Bushes and the Harpers will still be kicking when that happens, and my fondest dream is that we can force that tab down their throats.

    Not that it’s likely, of course. But it’s nice to think about.

    Greggles: They required a 3 stage rocket to get into Earth orbit, but the landing craft was able to achieve orbit on two other planets with Earth-like gravity (one of them 130%) in a single stage.

    Oooh, good one. Man, this is the movie that just keeps on giving.

    Comrade Ivan: Aren’t we supposed to kill everything on this planet and live solely thanks to our unique technosapiens privilege? Remember how much biosphere tried to kill us, how much bottleneck events our ancestors have endured.

    Or as Montgomery Burns once said, “Nature started the struggle for existence, and now she wants to call it off because she’s losing? Well I say, Hard cheese!”

  25. RedIndianGirl:
    I was seriously groaning throughout all that “intrepid pioneer” bullshit. Settler colonialism thinks it can just continue to go around trashing shit wherever you go,instead of learning how to live in the place you are.But hey, I’m just an indigenous girl. Settler colonialism is bullshit.

    That’s BS.

    Europeans (no other nations really went the whole ‘colonialism’ route) settled the world because it was the only way to get rich back then. Land was finite, all of Eurasia was already parcelled out and held by other ornery bastards.. so New World was it….

  26. Peter

    I wondered about that, but I’m dubious. It’s not the planet that stretches time like taffy, it’s the supermassive black hole that acts as the system’s primary. Get close enough to that event horizon and sure, you get massive time dilation— but that’s as you get closer to Gargantua, not the planet’s surface. The whole planet should experience time slippage to more or less the same degree. The difference between a ship in low orbit and one on the ground should be negligible.

    Or do I have to repeat the year?

    In Kip Thorne’s class maybe. From what I’ve read, he went to great pains to find a stable orbit where that time dilation would be possible around a black hole that wouldn’t cause spaggettification.

  27. Greggles: They required a 3 stage rocket to get into Earth orbit, but the landing craft was able to achieve orbit on two other planets with Earth-like gravity (one of them 130%) in a single stage.

    Maybe they had antimatter injection in that craft. It’d make sense to use that out in space far away from infrastructure.. even a little bit really helps, iirc. Bob Forward has a good book on various space drive stuff..

  28. This is pretty much the definitive Interstellar review (the ‘soars when outsourced’ line was spot on). The film was almost as bad as the Nolans’ fascist bat movies.

    Check out Transcendence, Mr Watts. Some good SF and politics lurking in that one.

  29. I pretty much agree with that last paragraph. Anytime someone says “we need space colonies as a lifeboat because we have screwed up the Earth / an asteroid will hit us” I tend to hear “I want a lifeboat for myself (because space cadets tend to assume they will be included) and screw the other seven billion people we will never be able to move”.

  30. slybrarian:
    I pretty much agree with that last paragraph. Anytime someone says “we need space colonies as a lifeboat because we have screwed up the Earth / an asteroid will hit us” I tend to hear “I want a lifeboat for myself (because space cadets tend to assume they will be included) and screw the other seven billion people we will never be able to move”.

    It’s Ok. Anderson Cooper will be fine. 😉

    https://cknall.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/bon-voyage/

  31. When Hardin made his lifeboat argument in favor of making hard choices and taking disciplined action towards overpopulation and food production, he was doing so against a background of the changing and shifting metaphors of shipwrecks and rebuilding ships at sea we’ve had in Western philosophy, literature, and cultural production for a very long time. The metaphor of the lifeboat assumes not only the perennial uncertainty and monstrous indifference of drifting at sea, but the prior destruction and sinking of the original ship. In this sense, we all already acknowledge the ruination of the past and pretend this is about saving something from the inevitable.

    But that’s not really up to us any more than it was up to dinosaurs. If we alter how our environment rearranges energy and material, then that’s that. Why be angry, why be wistful, why be nostalgic, when there are entire varieties of forms of life that will never, ever be again, which we will never know since they left nothing behind? Such will eventually also be our species’ fate, and that of whatever species evolve from us, if any. Everything becomes nothing on a long enough time line, and nothing will come of all of it, with complete certainty. Right?

    So why go about lamenting the spoiled world we leave behind for the yet unborn: should the dinosaurs have cried for us and thought better of what they were doing in their last days? Whatever evolves in our futures’ sidewalk cracks and irradiated bogs, especially if it lacks our particular strand of consciousness, will occupy the same kind of precariousness all life on this planet has been occupying.

    No guarantees of permanence or immortality to any of it. Not even the molecules. Not even time.

  32. Y.,

    If that’s the case, anti-matter was left out of the script. I enjoyed watching the movie (while hating the politics that underlay it. Seriously, Nolan is a fascist) but I couldn’t get over the discrepancy.

    10 seconds of camera time would have been sufficient to explain it away.

  33. I think Catholicism bans abortion because it destroys a future good thing. Without that piece of reasoning, killing /grown/ people isn’t wrong (who have you harmed? There’s no one there any more). Ie abortion has the same morality as regular murder – to make murder wrong, you have to use Catholics’ reasoning, which rules out abortion, too.

  34. I’m not going to share any thoughts about the story or message, and just make a short comment instead.

    If nothing else, at least the movie will hopefully have an impact on future science fiction movies about how wormholes and black holes are supposed to look (even if it is a spinning supermassive black hole with an accretion disc or not), and to have much of the scientific and technical principles correct.
    While an O’Neill cylinder may not be a new idea, then perhaps the sight of how it looks like on the big screen will inspire someone to give it more attention in another production.

    I’m not sure if they got the concept of evolution right (because humans finally understand the secrets of gravity, we will therefore evolve into 5D-beings), but that could be the challenge for another science fiction movie.

  35. I didn’t realize they had Kip Thorne as a consultant. I had been wondering why tidal effects and hard radiation didn’t kill everyone. Does he explain it somewhere?

  36. Sheila:
    Does he explain it somewhere?

    Here, kind of..

    tl;dr version is that Gargantua is, well, gargantuan: a supermassive black hole of several million solar masses. We’re talking galactic-center scale. So the tidal gradient is relatively gentle. He also had some kind of “thermodynamically cool black-hole physics” explanation for how the radiation was tolerable, too, although I can’t remember offhand what it is.

    You can see why they had to set it in another galaxy.

  37. Peter Watts,

    WEEeeeeeee! I think I might actually get that book. I like reading laypeople explanations for relativity and cosmology stuff. Have read things like Bertrand Russel’s The ABC of Relativity, for example. The First Three Minutes, etc.haven’t picked up a new one in quiet a while, as you can see.

    (there was a short book by Linde on inflationary cosmology I read once, which wasn’t exactly for laypeople but I could skim parts of it. plus he illustrated it with a cartoon.)

  38. mighty goat cheese: I think Catholicism bans abortion because it destroys a future good thing. Without that piece of reasoning, killing /grown/ people isn’t wrong (who have you harmed? There’s no one there any more).

    Allegedly, a grown human is an already present good thing.
    Also, by that logic, deciding to discontinue an artistic project is vandalism.
    And deciding to cancel a construction project is… vandalism with a side dish of terrorism.

  39. Corey,

    Uh, Transcendence is a movie in which the phrase “Love contains logical impossibilities” is treated as a deep and meaningful statement on the nature of A.I.

  40. When we wingnuts want to be nasty, we’re in favor of birth control. See the comments here.

  41. Sylocat, Transcendence is nevertheless pretty politically weird. It advocates a kind of centrally planned, command-style, techno-communal economy (which in the film is resisted by an alliance between the state and neo-Luddite terrorists). All the characters think Depp’s character is a monomaniacal dictator who turns everyone into subservient drones, yet he’s literally saving people, the environment and the planet. And everyone who turns to him wants to be used. This inverts most SF plots.

    Another thing weird about the film is how it embraces a kind of reductive view of personalities, humans, consciousness and love – everything is just the arbitrary result of grand causal chains – and yet is nevertheless some kind of weird, pro-technology, pro-transhumanist rant.

    Yes, i otherwise agree the film is flawed, especially the nonsense about scientists “uploading their consciousness” and all that.

  42. Corey:
    Sylocat, Transcendence is nevertheless pretty politically weird. It advocates a kind of centrally planned, command-style, techno-communal economy (which in the film is resisted by an alliance between the state and neo-Luddite terrorists). All the characters think Depp’s character is a monomaniacal dictator who turns everyone into subservient drones, yet he’s literally saving people, the environment and the planet. And everyone who turns to him wants to be used. This inverts most SF plots.

    Another thing weird about the film is how it embraces a kind of reductive view of personalities, humans, consciousness and love – everything is just the arbitrary result of grand causal chains – and yet is nevertheless some kind of weird, pro-technology, pro-transhumanist rant.

    Yes, i otherwise agree the film is flawed, especially the nonsense about scientists “uploading their consciousness” and all that.

    Watched it three or four times and could not actually decide which side, if any, the film came down on. You think it was that decisive? Not arguing, just wondering what I may have missed. Seemed to me more to be saying, “This is the cost of what you think you want.”

    There is that, as has been mentioned here before, problem with democracy and longterm planning problem.

  43. Greggles:
    Y.,

    If that’s the case, anti-matter was left out of the script.I enjoyed watching the movie (while hating the politics that underlay it.Seriously, Nolan is a fascist)but I couldn’t get over the discrepancy.

    10 seconds of camera time would have been sufficient to explain it away.

    I find it peculiar you are concerned with ‘fascist’ politics. Fascists killed comparatively a very small number of people and some of their better ideas, like the state mediating and trying to resolve class conflicts have been widely implemented in post WWII Europe.

    They weren’t even particularly insane, unlike the rabid national socialists. Nor evil, forming a minor colonial empire is very small potatoes when compared to say, trying to eradicate an entire social class, a-la Soviet persecution of the kulaks.

  44. “I think that if you break it, you damn well own it”

    Did we break it? I don’t remember the movie saying the disaster is man made…

    I agree this movie is very much like a Stephen Baxter novel (Flood/Arc came to mind), but Stephen Baxter is a good SF author no matter how you look at it. The movie has some small plotholes, but so does every SF movie or novel. Personally I think this movie is a lot more interesting than 2001, but that’s just me.

  45. Greggles,

    It’s much worse than that: in order to get a time-dilation factor of 600,000, the planet has to be practically skating on Gargantua’s event horizon. This means that its orbital velocity is just a hair below the speed of light, so where did they get the energy to match orbits? (And since all three planets are in orbit around a supermassive black hole, not a star, where is the sunlight coming from?)

    But go ahead, ignore all that, and it still makes absolutely no sense for them to even attempt to land on the planet, period: with 7 Earth years passing for every hour they spend on the surface, everyone on Earth will be long dead by the time they build so much as a shack. It’s completely idiotic.

  46. Y.,

    Y.: I find it peculiar you are concerned with ‘fascist’ politics. Fascists killed comparatively a very small number of people and some of their better ideas, like the state mediating and trying to resolve class conflicts have been widely implemented in post WWII Europe.

    They weren’t even particularly insane, unlike the rabid national socialists. Nor evil, forming a minor colonial empire is very small potatoes when compared to say, trying to eradicate an entire social class, a-la Soviet persecution of the kulaks.

    That’s your interpretation of fascism ?!!! I’m going to back slowly away now and not engage in what would be a fruitless timesuck of a conversation.

    Best wishes.

    PhilRM,

    Fair enough, I’m really not familiar with relativistic physics and implied (without stating outright) that I deferred to Thorne’s expertise. So yes, I will ignore all that.

    As far as the 7 years to one hour ratio, you have to orders of operation reversed. The main issue isn’t building welcoming habitation on the planets surface, but all the settlers landing safely. As the landing trajectories would be seriously fucked. Looking up at the sky with (potetially) 10’s of thousands of landing crafts might even block out the sun.

  47. Re: Greggles, on Y

    Don’t worry, it’s just a courtship ritual of his ^_~

  48. 03,

    03:
    Re: Greggles, on Y

    Don’t worry, it’s just a courtship ritual of his ^_~

    If that’s his idea of foreplay I’d hate to see the main event.

  49. Greggles: That’s your interpretation of fascism ?!!! I’m going to back slowly away now and not engage in what would be a fruitless timesuck of a conversation.

    It’s not my ‘interpretation’. Do I need to restate the dictionary definition? I’m well aware of it.

    I’m noticing that fascists were not that as keen on murdering people as the other two major totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. They apparently weren’t even really keen on executing political opponents. In fact, there apparently weren’t any political judicial murders. (Or if there was, let me see the link)

    Fascist Italy executed* 26 people during it’s entire duration. I can’t find any reference to extrajudicial executions either. There were Chekists who murdered more enemies of the people in an hour.

    In fact it does seem to me that journalists were less imperiled by fascists than they’re by the US deep state. Though maybe it was because it was impossible in those days to have someone’s car crash by hacking it’s internals…

    Methinks, if one wants to consistently annoy the permanent gov’t, it’s best not to rely on electronics in any dangerous circumstances, so perhaps driving an old Land Rover is a good idea. Then they’d have to give you a heart attack, so perhaps it’d be also best to be known as a health-nut and have regular checkups..

  50. To be fair, a lot of hard sci fi ends up with 5-dimensional beings from the future who may as well be magic. Baxter does it, Greg Bear does it, Clarke did it first.

  51. 03,

    Wow! Look at him go.

  52. Y.: I’m noticing that fascists were not that as keen on murdering people as the other two major totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. They apparently weren’t even really keen on executing political opponents. In fact, there apparently weren’t any political judicial murders. (Or if there was, let me see the link)

    Well, the page you link says that “However since World War II, historians have noted that in Italy’s colonies, Italian Fascism displayed extreme levels of violence, such as the fact the deaths of one-tenth of the population of the Italian colony of Libya during the Fascist era, including from the use of gassings, concentration camps, starvation, and disease; and in Ethiopia during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War and afterwards, by 1938 a quarter of a million Ethiopians had died”

    I suppose you don’t count people with high skin melanin content as “casualties” at all ?

    Y.: In fact it does seem to me that journalists were less imperiled by fascists than they’re by the US deep state. Though maybe it was because it was impossible in those days to have someone’s car crash by hacking it’s internals…

    Do you, by chance, share water supply with whoever :) ?

  53. Greggles:
    03,

    Wow!Look at him go.

    Of course you’re not going to say anything remotely relevant. Fascism is a deeply flawed concept, but at least it’s not based on denial of human nature*. Didn’t promise to bring about the end of history or paradise on earth either. None such attempts have yet worked out.

    Instead of pointing and laughing, you could go and provide some documentation on Italian fascist political persecutions? Can’t find anything except harassment and imprisonment/exile of of major political opponents, like say, Gramsci. All in all, a couple of thousand people in a nation of forty million. Compare that to Communist Czechoslovakia, arguably the eastern-bloc nation with mildest repressive measures: 140 000 jailed or sent to labor camps, country one quarter of Italy’s size.

    Yet wearing a Che T-shirt is considered okay, while fascism is a snarl world. History is indeed written by the victors.

    *

    the essence of man is an expression of the social relations he finds himself born into, reflected back onto society.

    That is, socially constructed. Interestingly, Marx himself did not share that view.

  54. @ Y

    “Do I need to restate the dictionary definition? I’m well aware of it.”

    Apparently not – the link you produce there is the dictionary (well, Wikipedia) definition of Italian Fascism. Helpfully, though, there is a hyperlink in the text to Fascism as a general political term, i.e. the term that pretty much everybody (apart from you, apparently) uses – including the Italian fascists themselves; Montreux ’34 had a consciously internationalist agenda in which the Nazis and the Spanish National Syndicalists were seen as brothers in the struggle. I think you’re being deliberately obtuse here.

    There is no doubt that Communist repression killed significantly more innocent people than Fascism in its various incarnations, but then it mostly took place in countries that had a lot more people to work with. I don’t think the Fascists lost that particular competition through lack of trying.

    And whatever small number of murders Italian fascists may (I’m dubious about your figures) have committed on their home turf, they were certainly pretty enthusiastic about outsourcing mass murder to their National Socialist pals.

  55. Re: Y

    If you admit that fascism in general and Italian fascism in particular is flawed, what is your issue with decrying Nolan as a fascist (someone who follows, or at least sympathizes with, a deeply flawed concept) ?

    Nobody said that “it would be better if Nolan was a dirty commie” or somesuch.

    The Y. one doth protest too much.

    :p

  56. Also, Che Shirts are perhaps the greatest and funniest insults contemporary capitalist people could inflict upon a dead motherfucker like Che.
    I especially like this one http://galerie.alittlemarket.com/galerie/product/117906/t-shirt-t-shirt-che-guevara-mickey-1496088-che-mickey-rendendu-ce8a9_570x0.jpg

    If there is an afterlife, I hope Che is forced to gaze upon this one. For all eternity :)

  57. I gotta say, the mutation rate on this blog is nowhere short of Chernobyl scale. I ramble on about the latest SF blockbuster, turn my back for a moment and all of a sudden everyone’s arguing about the definition of fascism, and whose favorite team racked up the highest number of kills. I’m almost tempted to try reviewing “Frozen” next, just to see where that would end up.

    All that said, though,

    03: Che Shirts are perhaps the greatest and funniest insults contemporary capitalist people could inflict upon a dead motherfucker like Che.

    The t-shirt I liked best showed the standard sexynoble Che visage over the words “I have no idea who this is.”

  58. Richard Morgan: And whatever small number of murders Italian fascists may (I’m dubious about your figures) have committed on their home turf, they were certainly pretty enthusiastic about outsourcing mass murder to their National Socialist pals.

    Were they? Antisemitism never really took hold among Italians, it seems to have been pushed on them for reasons of realpolitik by Mussolini and adopted only somewhat among the fascist elites.

    Also, Italians interned some Jews during the war(Jewish refugees) but refused to hand them over to the Nazis, deportation to extermination camps only started after fascist Italy fell apart.
    Although maybe that was because the camps themselves were not under fascist but rather military control?

    I would not call that ‘enthusiastic’ outsourcing.

    On the other hand, the catholic fascist first Slovak Republic paid Germans to deport Slovak Jews, naturally with money stolen from the Jews themselves. That seems like enthusiasm.

    I don’t think the Fascists lost that particular competition through lack of trying.

    I tried looking, but at least the Italians ones really did not go for political murder much. But this seems weird. Anyway, fascists shot plenty of their own people during the war, mainly partisans.

    There is no doubt that Communist repression killed significantly more innocent people than Fascism in its various incarnations, but then it mostly took place in countries that had a lot more people to work with. I don’t think the Fascists lost that particular competition through lack of trying.

    I think they did. Per capita too. The only fascist regime that truly went for indiscriminate mass murder was Nazi Germany, for reasons of insane racism and expediency.

    All the other more-or-less fascist regimes, like Franco’s, executed certain political opponents. Whereas Soviets and their followers, like say, Cambodea, China and Vietnam started out with a ‘let’s hang a hundred people to show we mean business’ approach.

  59. Peter Watts,

    Peter Watts:
    I gotta say, the mutation rate on this blog is nowhere short of Chernobyl scale.I ramble on about the latest SF blockbuster, turn my back for a moment and all of a sudden everyone’s arguing about the definition of fascism, and whose favorite team racked up the highest number of kills.

    Godwin’s Law is inescapable. No one has actually accused anyone else of Nazism, but it’s definitely trending that way.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

  60. Little known facts: noticing bars with lots of people wearing Che t’s and “radicals” who wear Chinese undies are great ways to ID gov honeytraps. Had to be there.

    https://mccoyote.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/the-black-boot-diaries-bar-none/

  61. “The only fascist regime that truly went for indiscriminate mass murder was Nazi Germany”

    Incorrect – read Paul Preston’s “The Spanish Holocaust”. He gives the base figures right there in the prologue, but the whole thing is worth reading as a painstaking and fascinating audit of a slaughter every bit as sweeping and genocidal as anything conceived in Germany, Russia or China. (Again, the numbers don’t climb as high, but Spain was a small and pretty sparsely populated nation at the time compared to those others). You’ll also find, incidentally, accounts of Italian fascist aviators strafing refugee columns out of Malaga, Mussolini being a big supporter of Franco’s war on anyone reckoned to belong to the international Jewish-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy (yes, you read that last bit right).

  62. “I’m almost tempted to try reviewing “Frozen” next, just to see where that would end up.”

    In a climate change denial snarl-up, obviously…….

  63. Slightly more on topic: everything “Interstellar” failed to deliver, in a glorious three minutes and fifty seconds:

    http://www.erikwernquist.com/wanderers/

    (h/t Paul McAuley). I’m guessing the Sagan narration is from the original “Cosmos”, but I’m not sure of that.

  64. Peter Watts,

    People didn’t like Behemoth? I can’t Imagine why, it seemed on the same level as Starfish and Maelstrom (My favorite of the three) but maybe that’s because I really liked learning more about the world those novels inhabited.

    I still say that a GTA clone kinda game set in the rifters Universe would be awesome

  65. Ryan:
    Peter Watts,

    People didn’t like Behemoth? I can’t Imagine why, it seemed on the same level as Starfish and Maelstrom (My favorite of the three) but maybe that’s because I really liked learning more about the world those novels inhabited.

    I still say that a GTA clone kinda game set in the rifters Universe would be awesome

    Agree. Also with second part: hear Road Warrior is getting the reboot.

  66. Peter Watts:

    All that said, though,

    The t-shirt I liked best showed the standard sexynoble Che visage over the words “I have no idea who this is.”

    There’s also this vaguely squid Che..

    Richard Morgan: The Spanish Holocaust”

    The thing is Franco’s forces were not exactly fascists, just like calling the Republicans were not just Moscow-supported bolsheviks.

    But yes, upon further reading it does look like the slaughter there was quite thorough. ~200k out of a 25 mil nation is a lot, and apparently it was not even well organized.

    However, it does seem to me that describing the Nationalist side in the war as ‘fascist’ would be simplifying things, there were four major factions though each of them really hated communists..

    Anyway, you’re right.

    Richard Morgan: You’ll also find, incidentally, accounts of Italian fascist aviators strafing refugee columns out of Malaga

    That doesn’t really prove much. Aviators firing at everything that moved and/or specifically targeting civilians was pretty much a thing back then. Americans did that, Soviets did that, Germans probably did that too at some point. Everyone else just didn’t have enough winged death machines probably..

  67. 03:
    Re: Y

    If you admit that fascism in general and Italian fascism in particular is flawed, what is your issue with decrying Nolan as a fascist (someone who follows, or at least sympathizes with, a deeply flawed concept) ?

    Nobody said that “it would be better if Nolan was a dirty commie” or somesuch.

    The Y. one doth protest too much.
    :p

    What irks me is that everyone decries fascist.. communists get a pass.

    My sis studied in Italy, and while by local eastern-European standards she’s a wide-eyed pinko but in Italy she was seen by her fellow students as some sort of right-wing extremist ..

    Outside of areas which had been communist once communists are seen as not particularly harmful by the majority. Meanwhile, whatever they touch turns into shit and the entire ideology is based on bullshit. Look at Venezuela. An oil-rich country in the tropics.. requires food rationing. Way to go.

    As to me, I’m not in favour of fascism. It has it’s positives, however, it’s not radical enough, lacks ambition, imagination and checks & balances..

  68. whoever:
    Little known facts: noticing bars with lots of people wearing Che t’s and “radicals” who wear Chinese undies are great ways to ID gov honeytraps. Had to be there.

    https://mccoyote.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/the-black-boot-diaries-bar-none/

    I think you need to read up on this..

  69. Despite all the talk of time dilation and the importance of time and whatnot, it still seemed possible for the spaceship to travel from the Ice Planet to the surface of Gargantua in a matter of hours if not minutes. If they have that kind of engines, one is left to wonder why they bothered with the three-stage rocket*, and why the crew wasn’t crushed to a pulp when accelerating.

    * The obvious answer is because Nolan wanted to evoke that majestic feeling of Apollo 11 in perhaps the most ham-handed way he could. It’s actually one of those things that grated me throughout the film; I like space things. I like thinking about spaceships and travelling to Titan in a Space Shuttle mounted on a Saturn V, and I like the movie ‘Sunshine’ because it has a pretty cool spaceship in it. Yet ‘Interstellar’ tries so hard to invoke that dreams-of-the-space-age feeling that it feels like I’m being strangled. Moon Landing conspiracy theory being adopted as true, Nolan? Really?

    It got almost offensively privileged; the world is dying and starving, yet what really matters is that the US-American main character gets to run off and play with spaceships because spaceships are cool. It really ties in with the attitude the film has that the solution to totally-not-Global-Warming is to just give up hope and spend all our resources on finding another place to wreck. It was probably not intentional, but ultimately the message I felt the film left me with was one where the poor had to starve and die so the rich could pursue their vain hope of escaping the consequences of their actions.

    That’s, of course, reading a lot into the film, but it felt hard not to read it this way when it exists against the cultural backdrop of Global Warming and modern international relations.

  70. Y.: I think you need to read upon this..

    Already well familiar. What I said happened, happened.

    Believe me, I understand the reticence to accept that the world is not the way we think it is.

    But let’s think of it this way. Ever been treated special? Anyone? Ever had a party thrown in your honor? Had someone who was thankful for something you did treat you like a superstar?

    That’s how it is for the 0.1% all the time. Everyone else lives to serve them and their interests and that includes the US military, the banking industry, politicians, and the venerable-and-broken US intelligence community.

    Conversely, when you pose a threat, even a teeny, tiny one, to that system that treats the top dogs like little gods, that same system comes down on you and you become a pariah. Just the way it is. They seek all kinds of ways of making you conform.

    http://mccoyote.wordpress.com/navy-mind-control-paper/

  71. Reading this review again made me wonder if Mr Watts has ever attempted to put forth a definition of “love”.

    I’d be interested in see others on this comment board attempt a definition as well.

  72. Corey:
    I’d be interested in see others on this comment board attempt a definition as well.

    “It’s like one of those questions, “pirates or ninjas?,” “cavemen or spacemen?”, “hackers or spies?,” “What’s Batman’s D&D alignment?”, and “Ginger or Mary Ann?” / “Edward, Jacob or Pleasekillmenow?”

    It’s interesting to ask and discuss, but has no definitive answer because it is an abstract concept. Batman has been done by so many writers you can answer it pretty much most ways.

    Neuroscience describes the chemical states. So how about “an emotional/mental state in which a person experiences a neurochemical reward approaching euphoria via merely a thought”?

    Biology perhaps describes it as an evolutionary method of ensuring both cooperation and reproduction. Without it, you’ve got solitary rapists and prey who would feel no need to rear the result having been attacked.

    In any case, it is very much like a drug. It can serve as “liquid courage” and make people do and say things they would not normally do. Some people have killed for it, just like for heroin or whatever. There are opoids involved.

    If you haven’t read the posts, there’s a few about oxytocin, which gets mentioned in Transcendence toward the end.

    Of course gotta throw in my three cents here, the fact that it is a neurochemical state, or at least that is part of the whole–it can become habit-forming and all the rewiring it does affects thoughts as well, means that it is also manipulatable. It is going to happen one day. May not be quite what Huxley envisioned, but it will.

    Of course, that was part of the point in Maelstrom with the folks on the Strip, IIRC. They didn’t riot because the food they were eating from the cyclers was laced with anti-depressents to pacify them. Then there’s Bondfast Formula IV, used by Helen Keeton on Siri.

    Seems like there was another definition I was thinking of as well…but I can’t recall what it was.

  73. Corey: Reading this review again made me wonder if Mr Watts has ever attempted to put forth a definition of “love”.

    I’d be interested in see others on this comment board attempt a definition as well.

    I go with the Heinleinian functional definition (paraphrasing): Love is the condition in which someone else’s happiness is essential to your own.

    Distinguishes it handily from ‘lust’ and ‘like’ and ‘trust’ and all sorts of other things that often get wrapped up with love but aren’t always there. And of course, love’s not psychic, so it’s possible that you’re happy and someone you love isn’t because you can’t perceive that… I suppose you can throw in some kind of ‘awareness of’ in the definition, but I’ve grown to used to the formulation as it is. And happiness is itself a complex and non-binary situation (you could be miserable about a particular situation but broadly happy about your life, or vice versa… I’m not sure it means you don’t love somebody if they’re mourning a dead relative and you just win the lottery and you happen to be a little happy about it, presumably such bumps, over time can be considered statistical outliers if the broad trend is accurate. But in that rough sense, it makes sense to me on a gut level: if you can be happy knowing someone you love is miserable, then you don’t really love them (but you might be really really good friends).

    How does the condition arise? Got me. Chemicals and $!@#. Brain’s weird. Sometimes perfectly healthy people are seized by the desire to end themselves, and sometimes you get into illogical states where somebody else’s happiness is essential to your own.

  74. Peter Watts: Not everyone hated it, by any means.I’ve even read the occasional review that describes it as the best of the trilogy. But I think there was a certain knee-jerk response to the explicitness with which I described Taka’s torture at Achilles’ hands— apparently some folk thought that the only reason I’d write to that level of detail was if it was actually getting me off. Which implies either that a) those people are idiots, or b) I get really, really hard thinking about lysteriolysin analogs and receptor-mediated endosymbiosis, because I went into pretty excruciating detail about those things as well.

    At the same time, though, even people who hadn’t replaced their neorcotices with SJ-reflex arcs often found Behemoth more of a slog than the other two books. And in all honesty, I was tired when I was writing it. I’d actually wanted to move on to something else, but was convinced by my then-agent to stay with “the winning formula”. But my rifters batteries were kinda drained, and I think it showed. It would have been a better book if I’d waited a while and come back to it fresh.

  75. Corey: Reading this review again made me wonder if Mr Watts has ever attempted to put forth a definition of “love”.

    Peter D: I go with the Heinleinian functional definition (paraphrasing): Love is the condition in which someone else’s happiness is essential to your own.

    Damn, the other Peter beat me to it.

    Yeah, I think Heinlein kinda nailed it that time. We could all go on about the underlying neurology— why post-coital cuddling just happens to coincide with the time it takes sperm to inject their payload, why love tends to fade once offspring reach a certain age (or the relationship reaches a certain age without having produced any offspring)— all those mechanisms that reduce love to the functional utility of mate-guarding and gene-spreading and kin selection. And I’d argue that even when one loves non-kin (the way I love my step-pones, for example), it’s not so much a disproof of love’s biological origins as it is evidence that those mechanisms are a bit sloppy in the targeting department, as things are wont to be when hammered haphazardly into shape by 4.5 billion years of natural selection.

    But how love feels, what it is, as opposed to merely what it’s for? I think Heinlein was right.

  76. To be honest, haven’t read enough of his stuff to judge where else he goes with it, but Clarke in Rendezvous with Rama, lead astronaut with two wives, circumventing law by having one on Mars and one on Earth, I guess. Nelson compares himself to sea Captain Cook with regards to minute/hours delays in communications instead of weeks and months:

    “[Nelson’s] wives had nothing to complain about.”

  77. whoever: Believe me, I understand the reticence to accept that the world is not the way we think it is.

    Personally, I’d like to accept your world.
    It’s a cool Lovecraft county where a Majesticesque entity (group of entities) is running amok across USA with highly exotic technology, executing manipulation gambits of unprecedented organizational sophistication and robustness (of course, if I were to take your word for it, they do it for the abjectly preposterous Marxist/Zizekist goal of “permanently acquiring” something as trivial and near-obsolete as labor, but hey – in a way, an insane covert meta-organization is perhaps even more fun than sane one).

    It’s an interesting, fascinating place, not as cool as Lovecraft Counties where Cthulhu and demons exist, or where USA is actually ran by a secret cabal of AIs accidentally created by MIT in mid-seventies,but still cool. I’d say on par with the world where Grey Aliens actually exist and are actual extraterrestrials.

    whoever: But let’s think of it this way. Ever been treated special? Anyone? Ever had a party thrown in your honor? Had someone who was thankful for something you did treat you like a superstar?

    That’s how it is for the 0.1% all the time. Everyone else lives to serve them and their interests and that includes the US military, the banking industry, politicians, and the venerable-and-broken US intelligence community.

    Well, that clocks in from $400 to $1800 per hour, depending on specifics :)

    On a less prostitut-ish and more serious note, I don’t think many people, even among the “trusted allies in the military”, treat the 0.1ers the way you describe.
    I suppose it might be necessary to feign a kind of affection when you try to get a few more (hundred million) bucks out of a grouchy octagenarian multi-billionaire, but it only goes so far (“best friend experience”, lol)

    whoever: Conversely, when you pose a threat, even a teeny, tiny one, to that system that treats the top dogs like little gods, that same system comes down on you and you become a pariah. Just the way it is. They seek all kinds of ways of making you conform.

    I doubt that you, Peter, or anyone else among the ones who partake of this dear forum pose even a minuscule threat to the well-being of 0.1%

    They are quite thoroughly insulated, and perhaps the only true adversary they have remaining are aging and death.
    I doubt you are a reification of those two.

  78. You gonna start this now, as the closing thread clock is ticking? :)

    I don’t really see proven and known to exist tech as being high unless one is uninformed. The Frey effect was demonstrated in the early 1970s. Sierra Nevada Corp’s MEDUSA even got press. John Marks got a memo via FOIA stating that CIA’s technical office had already established control over certain species of animals and the intention was to turn it to man next. That particular doc did not indicate the method.

    MKULTRA itself consisted of 150 or so sub projects ranging from drug testing {well over 100} to gassing children at a Summer camp with hallucinogens.

    Now we know that on top of outsourcing real torture, performing waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress postitions, etc. they were also using anal feeding–denounced as bogus by the AMA–as simulated rape.

    Let’s be clear: this is fascism. Corporate control of the government, which is the correct definition. The US, after the fall of the USSR, was an unopposed superpower. Though it may be cliche, it is nonetheless true: absolute power corrupts.

    The world I’m describing is the one heavily documented in the 1970s as being the result of a perfect storm of corruption, greed, overzealousness, and fear. It is COINTELPRO. It is MINARET. It is MKULTRA. All of those, unlike the Cthulhu, actually existed and there is plenty of reason in a post-9/11 world, one in which Dick Cheney had a say, is the case again.

    From the Church/Tower hearings in 1975:

    “Groups and individuals have been harassed and disrupted because of their political views and their lifestyles. Investigations have been based upon vague standards whose breadth made excessive collection inevitable. Unsavory and vicious tactics have been employed–including anonymous attempts to break up marriages, break up meetings, ostracize persons from their professionals, and provoke target groups into rivalries that might result in deaths. Intelligence agencies have served the political and personal objectives of presidents and other high officials. While the agencies often committed excesses in response to pressure from high officials in the Executive branch and Congress, they also occasionally initiated improper activities on their own and then concealed them from officials whom they had a duty to inform.”

    You have any number of motives right there.

    Then you can get into just how many of those things mentioned in the end notes of Pete’s books, which he made clear he included as a nitpick shield, are actually funded by DoD and/or CIA. For chrissake, you’re talking anout among other things ensuring the loyalty of employees via messing with memory and/or brain chemistry. If you don’t think that is of interest to these people, then you are woefully misinformed.

    As for me, I was just a patsy. Believe NSA was spying on my clients and tenants where I worked and CIA was using me as cover in case the info theft was discovered. Believe real purposes, since many of those companies are American, are things like insider trading. This would seem to be borne out since Keith Alexander made some exotic trades in Chinese and Russian companies while director of NSA:

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/10/22/why-was-the-nsa-chief-playing-the-market/

    That’s all it was. Something happened, they decided to roll it up and try to sweep it under the rug. The rest is distraction, though informative. The PSYOP against Michelle Bachman was on the one hand kind of funny, but leave it to the scumbag DNC to make me feel sorry for her. Then the Kochs, and then winding up working for them one day a week two years later? Preposterous.

    Now, I’m quite certain that the news in Holland or wherever is not like it is here, now. Here, every other story is about scaring the shit out of people. It hasn’t stopped since 9/11, it hasn’t gotten better with a Democrat in the White House, if anything, it is intensifying.

    See Obama advisor Cass Sunstein on running COINTELPRO type PSYOPs on US citizens and I think the picture becomes clearer. I think it even explains Alex Jones.

    Maybe you think it doesn’t affect you overseas. It does, it can, it will…given time.

  79. whoever: I don’t really see proven and known to exist tech as being high unless one is uninformed. The Frey effect was demonstrated in the early 1970s.

    Going from “frey effect” to projecting a voice that doesn’t sound like a bad SHODAN impersonation is a huge high-tech leap.

    The whole “animal control” memo is neither particularly damning nor remarkable without a method indication and control specifics (teleopping a rat via brain implants would be a high-tech achievement, not because implanting electrodes into a rat brain and doing some basic conditioning is that hard, but because miniaturizing a good power source and a good, robust radio solution to the point the rat can reliably carry them is no small feat, and miniaturizing them to the point that the gear can be concealed within the rat is an even greater feat – though probably not exactly beyond modern capabilities… still very high-tech tho)

    whoever: MKULTRA itself consisted of 150 or so sub projects ranging from drug testing {well over 100} to gassing children at a Summer camp with hallucinogens.

    And it is remarkable that besides various creepy failures and embarrassing gaffes the MKULTRA produced precious little in terms of understanding how the mind works or can be manipulated.
    The US of A did not make a “mentat breaktrhough” or dollhouse-style mind transplantation discovery. SCP-style murder-memes are still way out of reach.

    Perhaps the true mystery the infamous MKULTRA evidence purge was supposed to hide is that fact that the program was an unscientific mess and a tremendously expensive failure.

    But given apparent fact that Manchurian-style assassins and murder-memes remain reliably out of reach makes this, IMHO, an open secret.

    whoever: Now we know that on top of outsourcing real torture, performing waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress postitions, etc. they were also using anal feeding–denounced as bogus by the AMA–as simulated rape.

    Let’s be clear: this is fascism. Corporate control of the government, which is the correct definition. The US, after the fall of the USSR, was an unopposed superpower. Though it may be cliche, it is nonetheless true: absolute power corrupts.

    Let’s also be clear that besides being unethical/fascist, it is also unscientific and ineffective.

    Evidence clearly demonstrates that torture, no matter how harsh, does not produce reliable intel.
    Which clearly indicates that money spent torturing “unfriendly sorta-terrorists” is money well wasted.

    Again, my claim isn’t that CIA secret prisons don’t exist – they do.
    My claim is that they are ineffective at achieving any meaningful goal and thus do not qualify as a part of a competent conspiracy (hell, these guys can’t even keep their “secret torture jails” secret. That’s very unimpressive), and thus I can’t accept your world of competent, powerful conspiracies (even competent powerful conspiracies with “insane goal” stipulation in place)

    whoever: Then you can get into just how many of those things mentioned in the end notes of Pete’s books, which he made clear he included as a nitpick shield, are actually funded by DoD and/or CIA. For chrissake, you’re talking anout among other things ensuring the loyalty of employees via messing with memory and/or brain chemistry. If you don’t think that is of interest to these people, then you are woefully misinformed.

    Dude, it’s also of interest to me :) (I’d very much appreciate a capability of technologically establishing loyalty, instead of having to be nice to people :) )

    Doesn’t mean I have anything approaching deployment-ready technology in my hands.

    whoever: As for me, I was just a patsy. Believe NSA was spying on my clients and tenants where I worked and CIA was using me as cover in case the info theft was discovered. Believe real purposes, since many of those companies are American, are things like insider trading. This would seem to be borne out since Keith Alexander made some exotic trades in Chinese and Russian companies while director of NSA:

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/10/22/why-was-the-nsa-chief-playing-the-market/

    That’s all it was. Something happened, they decided to roll it up and try to sweep it under the rug.

    Okay, so, if I understand you right, you believe that you’re being targeted because you became aware on local foul play on behalf of a TLA.

    Would seem plausible in principle, if not for methodology you imply.

    Framing you for some moderately easy to fabricate crime and locking you up for good would be way easier than running a complicated PSYOP thingie that has more failure points than there are holes in a chunk of swiss cheese, let alone trying to re-use you as a vector to influence a third party (if memory serves, you did make a claim of them trying that) in an even more complicated Xanathos gambit.

    whoever: The PSYOP against Michelle Bachman was on the one hand kind of funny, but leave it to the scumbag DNC to make me feel sorry for her.

    Googled Michele Bachman,

    Are you implying that at some point in her life Bachman was not a repulsive family values / christian sexual traditions peddling abomination, and that this state of being a repulsive social conservative is something an angry TLA “hacked” into her “mind” ?

    whoever: See Obama advisor Cass Sunstein on running COINTELPRO type PSYOPs on US citizens and I think the picture becomes clearer. I think it even explains Alex Jones.

    So per your opinion Cass Sunstein (who I have mixed feelings towards) et. al. “engineered” the stark raving mad A. Jones persona as some kind of complicated ploy to discredit people who are suspicious of government ? (which is a way more complicated gambit than what seems to be supported by his “conspiracy theories” publication, and way less reliable)

    That would have been wicked cool if true, but we’re talking about people who can’t keep a secret prison secret, wasted a ton of money on torture despite scientific evidence that no good intel is generated via torture, and were scammed for many years by a company they outsourced background checking to (which failed to do any checking and just took their money while falsifying protocols). Oh, and they dosed civies with various psychoactives for years, without good rhyme, reason, or scientific methodology (per my reading of MKULTRA-related materials, when various covert drug deployment experiments were carried out, they didn’t even have a fucking control group for crying out loud, which is epic science fail)

    I can totally believe in Keith being an insider-trading scumbag and in NSA using their intel capability for “fun and profit”.

    I can not believe in an actually competent, long-term conspiracy being maintained by these folks.

    And I absolutely cannot take a “labor-related” conspiracy seriously (Grey Alien Guys rate as at least ten times more plausible, in my book)

  80. 01: Going from “frey effect” to projecting a voice that doesn’t sound like a bad SHODAN impersonation is a huge high-tech leap.

    And it’s been 40 years since then. In your fantasy world, they just stopped?

    The whole “animal control” memo is neither particularly damning nor remarkable without a methodindication and control specifics…

    There you go again with the implants. Why in the fuck would anyone need implants? The brain is already biolectric.

    And it is remarkable that besides various creepy failures and embarrassing gaffes the MKULTRA produced precious little…

    Soooo…you were there right? Because the documentation was destroyed by DCI order so we don’t actually know what they succeeded with and didn’t. We know that the LSD experiments were not done scientifically but were rather done much like the torture program: letting a bunch of psychos loose.

    The US of A did not make a “mentat breaktrhough” or dollhouse-style mind transplantation discovery. SCP-style murder-memes are still way out of reach.

    Who mentioned ‘Dollhouse’? You constantly ascribe shit to me I never mentioned. It’s pretty simple: drug target silly, harass/torture to point of desperation, “control” actions via PSYOPs and V2K. Quotes are because it’s about making the target want to do what you want, not pressing a button on a remote control.

    Perhaps the true mystery the infamous MKULTRA evidence purge was supposed to hide is that fact that the program was an unscientific mess and a tremendously expensive failure.

    ‘Expensive failure’ is not in their vocabulary. This is part of the perfect storm of problems: outsourcing. Again, happened with the torture program and even CIA admitted it was a mistake to let contractors evaluate themselves.

    But given apparent fact that Manchurian-style assassins and murder-memesremain reliably out of reach makes this, IMHO, an open secret.

    See above again: it’s just Pavlov’s dog. Breaking people via drugs and torture is possible, right?

    Let’s also be clear that besides being unethical/fascist, it is also unscientific and ineffective.

    Ineffective in what way? The US has military bases all over the world, does practically anything it wants without anyone being able to tell them no. Our and multinational corporations can buy their own candidates through the Citizen’s United ruling.

    Evidence clearly demonstrates that torture, no matter how harsh, does not produce reliable intel. Which clearly indicates that money spent torturing “unfriendly sorta-terrorists” is money well wasted.

    Disagree with that completely. This was not botched; this was intentional. The more you inflame hatred, the more likely you provoke action which you can then spin as unprovoked and excuse to throw more bomb$$$, invade wherever you please.

    Same with torture: purpose is false confessions that get worked into the intel chain, justify more contracts, continuing the budget.

    Post 9/11 the system quickly got too big. There just wasn’t and still isn’t enough for this machine to do. Therefore it has expanded into other sectors. It seems weekly we here more about police and NSA surveillance being used for purposes other than what it was sold on–note it was only sold AFTER it was discovered, lied about, and the lies were discovered as lies.

    My claim is that they are ineffective at achieving any meaningful goal and thus do not qualify as a part of a competent conspiracy (hell, these guys can’t even keep their “secret torture jails” secret. That’s very unimpressive), and thus I can’t accept your world of competent, powerful conspiracies (even competent powerful conspiracies with “insane goal” stipulation in place)

    Again, meaningful goal is keeping the WoT going for longer than Vietnam. Vietnam made the fortunes of many Congressmen. The math is easy.

    You are half correct on the secret prisons. They want it to get out to the right people. But the majority of Americans still don’t even know about the secret prisons much less stuff like rape with broken bottles because we have the worst mainstream media in the world. This is where your competent CIA comes in:

    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/04/former-l-times-reporter-cleared-stories-cia-publication/

    And again quote:

    http://mccoyote.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/wpid-img_20141125_130905.jpg

    You realize that worked, right?

    Dude, it’s also of interest to me (I’d very much appreciate a capability of technologically establishing loyalty, instead of having to be nice to people ) Doesn’t mean I have anything approaching deployment-ready technology in my hands.

    Okay, so, if I understand you right, you believe that you’re being targeted because you became aware on local foul play on behalf of a TLA.

    Would seem plausible in principle, if not for methodology you imply.

    Framing you for some moderately easy to fabricate crime and locking you up for good …

    Many, many times, many, many ways. Not being inside any of these orgs and confusion being part of the idea, I cannot say for certain, but turf wars seem to be part of it. The Bachmann PSYOP I did, I did without realizing until afterwards why I really did it. I did it because I was extremely angry at the Democrats. It was what they wanted, however. Bachmann wound up raising more money than any Congressional candidate in history, more money than many Senate candidates raise. This meant Right money went to protect her instead of other, closer races throughout the country.

    But in order to get me to do that, they put me through hell. Anyone capable of doing that does not have the best interests of human beings at heart. Though I did also run one later, knowingly, on Koch, that was similar in that I was thinking “anything to make this stop.” Clearly part of the purpose of the “torture” is to make operatives callous and do as they are told.

    would be way easier than running a complicated PSYOP thingie…

    Who says they like or embrace easy? Maybe there’s research angle. When your life isn’t worth spit, maybe they prefer to squeeze as much data out of you before, as Snowden joked, shooting you in the face and throwing you out of a plane.

    …that has more failure points than there are holes in a chunk of swiss cheese…

    And I’m still here.

    …let alone trying to re-use you as a vector to influence a third party (if memory serves, you did make a claim of them trying that) in an even more complicated Xanathos gambit.

    Not sure what you are referring to precisely, but yes. Used me to harass Clooney {whereas I thought I was coming to him with a cool story} not realizing the hell he had been through during and after shooting Syriana. He later said that he considered suicide as a result of it.

    Googled Michele Bachman, Are you implying that at some point in her life Bachman was not a repulsive family values / christian sexual traditions peddling abomination, and that this state of being a repulsive social conservative is something an angry TLA “hacked” into her “mind” ?

    Thought occurred to me that she might have been ‘shroomed or something, sure, but my main point was torturing me made me madder at the torturers than those the torturers intended me to take my frustration out on, or at least put them on par with the likes of her.

    So per your opinion Cass Sunstein (who I have mixed feelings towards) et. al. “engineered” the stark raving mad A. Jones persona as some kind of complicated ploy to discredit people who are suspicious of government ? (which is a way more complicated gambit than what seems to be supported by his “conspiracy theories” publication, and way less reliable)

    No, that his ideas were put to use by CIA domestically. Alex Jones was connected to CIA subcontractor Stratfor by Anonymous. Twice, actually. Once was wrong {there was another Alex Jones at Stratfor who was not the disinformation agent}, but the other made it pretty clear that PrisonPlanet, AlexJones, and the third domain I’ve forgotten at the moment were all Stratfor by IP address at one time. Additionally, Jones has a few employees who popped over from there, it’s even on their resumes.

    A lot of people take Jones seriously. Why is that, if he’s stark raving mad?

    That would have been wicked cool if true, but we’re talking about people who can’t keep a secret prison secret,wasted a ton of money on torture despite scientific evidence that no good intel isgenerated via torture, and were scammed for many years by a company they outsourced background checking to (which failed to do any checking and just took their money while falsifying protocols). Oh, and they dosed civies with various psychoactives for years, without good rhyme, reason, or scientific methodology (per my reading of MKULTRA-related materials, when various covert drug deployment experiments were carried out, they didn’t even have a fucking control group for crying out loud, which is epic science fail)

    Well, a lot of it is done the mundane way:

    https://mccoyote.wordpress.com/navy-mind-control-paper/

    But computers help identify the trends, groups, etc. and you can control who sees what for the most part. How we are informed shapes our view of the world, as does which sources we trust.

    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/

    The point of mass surveillance becomes clearer.

    And I absolutely cannot take a “labor-related” conspiracy seriously (Grey Alien Guys rate as at least ten times more plausible, in my book)

    Wow. You should {not!} visit the States. It’s all they talk about between ISISes/Ebolas/Sony hack BSes is how workers and government are sucking billionaires dry. And lay off the whatev…there are no greys! 😉

    They have also succeeded in making Americans think that torture was necessary and that these wars are justified. That is not by accident, nor was it unintentional.

  81. For the “labor conspiracy,” see:

    http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=michael_ledeen

    1981. Then scroll down. This was Rove’s primary visitor in the White House.

    According to one author, GLADIO was, is, and likely will be the prime method of controlling governments including those of the EU. In essence NATO runs, or heavily influence, most of the world’s terrorist organizations. Note the connection–a phony one–to an Italian freemasonry lodge. That was an intentional false lead on Ledeen’s part. This is how those crazy conspiracy theories get started.

    Well, one way…

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alejandro-rojas/exair-force-law-enforceme_b_5312650.html

    Here’s the book I’m referring to. For example, Ireland was on its way to a peaceful transition to independence when the UK government, through NATO’s GLADIO, turned IRA violent. Once public opinion turned against Ireland for the use of violence, the independence talks were scuttled.

    http://www.amazon.com/NATOs-Secret-Armies-Operation-Contemporary/dp/0714685003

    The original idea, Ian Fleming’s brother developed it, was to create “French undergrounds” in European countries to have a ready-to-go resistance force in case of Soviet invasion and occupation. When that didn’t much happen, they repurposed the groups to influence domestic politics.

    This was later used again in places like the Balkans and Turkey. A big pro wrestling situation where the US and allies denounce radical groups that they themselves created, funded, trained, etc. ISIS may have been this very thing, given weapons to overthrow Assad.

    But when they go haywire, there is no cause to fret because they can just recycle them, point to the extremism, and even maybe get some black magic-loving sexual predator to take over a coffee house and throw up an ISIS flag. Fear = money, because who you gonna turn to for protection?

  82. 01:

    I’m sorry to preempt a reply, but I think we’re talking about five different things at once and, while this is good practice for me even though you are not likely my target audience, I’m not sure how otherwise this is going to be productive. So let me step back a second.

    My goals, in general, are as follows:

    To draw attention to the fact that, contrary to 24, Jack Ryan, James Bond, The Wire, etc., the primary hidden agenda of the intelligence communities is not the health and well-being of the average citizen, but rather first and foremost the survival and expansion of the industry itself. How that manifests varies… Insider trading, targeting activists, furthering political goals of powerful lobbies, etc. This includes the exact opposite of what the stated goal is at times, up to and including actually making people and property less safe, or failing that, to feel less safe to the same general effect.

    Second, the only defense for the average citizen against this is to understand the means and methods. Prey adapating to the predator’s adaptations, so to speak. While Snowden helped draw attention to the virtual versions of this, I am trying–due to a lack of a Snowden in these circles–to do similar for the real world. It’s in part a stage magic show that, rather than believe actual magic {most of the time, some conspiracy theories go there of course} we instead believe whatever crap spews from Anderson Cooper’s, Chris Matthews’ or Bill O’Reilly’s maws.

    False flag is a real phenomenon. The Bush administration talked with the UK about painting “UN” on a side of a plane and shooting it down themselves or tricking Iraq into doing it, so they would have an excuse to invade. Do you think they’d have recommended it if they didn’t think they had a decent chance of keeping the truth from the public?

    The myth of trickle down economics continues. Progress in productivity has meant that fewer now do the work that it used to require many. What then are those who there simply aren’t enough jobs for to do?

    Apparently live on the Strip and be medicated. Doesn’t have to be presciely correct to be in the ballpark of where it’s going and, therefore, not something your elities necessarily want in the mind’s eye of Joe Q. Public.

    We must adapt. That cannot happen while in denial. I think that sums it up.

  83. whoever: And it’s been 40 years since then. In your fantasy world, they just stopped?

    In my world, the capability to induce this effect in a moving target without massive distortion is still out of reach, because it would require preposterous, outright physically impossible antennae precisely tracking a head in real time (how the fuck would you even handle precise head tracking without a LOS on your target, let’s say through a wall).

    Oh, and while you’re at it, you’re better not let the narrow beam hit some shitty Chinese electronics, or you’ll get some kind of freaky Silent Hill reenactment right there.

    And even if you pull that, you would still need to somehow project the “pseudovoice” in such a manner that person will interpret it as “his/her own thoughts” and not “a booming voice of schizophrenia”.

    And we don’t even know where to start on that (though I might admit that it is theoretically possible if you can somehow model what the “inner dialog” of a person is experienced like and attune the Frey pseudo-voice you’re projecting with your preposterously sophisticated antenna array to those parameters. Which is, at this point, “soft scifi”)

    Oh, and the antenna array will have to fit in something like a van. You can’t afford driving a radome 200m in diameter around.

    whoever: There you go again with the implants

    Just an example.
    Non-invasive technology is even a bigger feat, tho, so point stands.

    whoever: Soooo…you were there right? Because the documentation was destroyed by DCI order so we don’t actually know what they succeeded with and didn’t.

    1) “you can’t disprove” is ass-hamster logic, by that kind of logic you could insinuate the existence of Yahweh, aliens and yes, ass-hamsters.

    2) the apparent inability of TLAs to keep even most banal of their shit under wraps (by behavior-modifying employees and contractors) and induce even the most annoying political opponents into suicide suggests that even under most ass-hamstery assumptions MKULTRA did not yield any reliable behavior management techniques.

    whoever: See above again: it’s just Pavlov’s dog. Breaking people via drugs and torture is possible, right?

    Not in ways that would produce manageable, functional behaviors.
    I wouldn’t bet any money on the subject being able to shoot a gun at a designated target reliably.

    whoever: Disagree with that completely. This was not botched; this was intentional. The more you inflame hatred, the more likely you provoke action which you can then spin as unprovoked and excuse to throw more bomb$$$, invade wherever you please.

    Same with torture: purpose is false confessions that get worked into the intel chain, justify more contracts, continuing the budget.

    You do realize this is not a sustainable “business process”, right ?
    (of course, it doesn’t matter for those brass who retire before shit starts meeting fans, but that still is not sustainable enough for a long-term conspiracy)

    whoever: Again, meaningful goal is keeping the WoT going for longer than Vietnam. Vietnam made the fortunes of many Congressmen. The math is easy.

    Well, I vaguely recall you claiming that “meaningful goal” was some long-term labor allocation shenanigan, not merely rekindling the terror cash-cow until USA runs out of retrograde (but technically innocent) countries to invade.

    If your sole proposal is that “they ignite wars to make profit”, I could kind of believe that, but I would also remain remarkably unfazed.

    Where I come from, profiteering from war and death is also known as “monday”, so if your sole “conspiracy motive” claim is “starting a profitable war”, to me, that would be a forty cake conspiracy.

    I wouldn’t even feel too displeased with the TLAs, if its a war with people I vaguely dislike for reasons of mine (and if a bunch of Blackwater conservitards get a few extra vent holes in them, that’s like, a bonus as far as I am concerned)

    whoever: You are half correct on the secret prisons. They want it to get out to the right people. But the majority of Americans still don’t even know about the secret prisons much less stuff like rape with broken bottles because we have the worst mainstream media in the world.

    Nay, I think US of A takes, maybe, fifth or sixth place in terms of MSM shittiness.
    You need to travel more

    whoever: Many, many times, many, many ways. Not being inside any of these orgs and confusion being part of the idea, I cannot say for certain, but turf wars seem to be part of it. The Bachmann PSYOP I did, I did without realizing until afterwards why I really did it.

    Okay, now I am positively curious.

    Do you claim you are the person responsible for her being a hideous traditionalist abomination, or the person responsible for her getting a pile of money to blow on various christarded shenanigans?

    whoever: This meant Right money went to protect her instead of other, closer races throughout the country.

    So, in the end, you (and your TLA “malefactors”) acted as a force of good, by throwing a wrench into rightwinger machine of religious nonsense, preposterous ultra-randroid economics and repulsive trad-value conservatism by means of forcing “Right’s money” to go towards an unelectable candidate?

    If that’s true… I say, even as a non-american who is never going to be a US citizen/resident/whatev , I owe you (and your TLA dudes) one 😀 😉

    whoever: Who says they like or embrace easy? Maybe there’s research angle. When your life isn’t worth spit, maybe they prefer to squeeze as much data out of you before, as Snowden joked, shooting you in the face and throwing you out of a plane.

    That would imply that they have also made a breakthrough in scientific methodology, gaining the capability to extract good-quality data out of one-off case studies carried out in poorly controlled, irreproducible environments.

    Also, at this point we would need to add super-scientific personnel to the list of people involved in these highly sophisticated super-operations (we still assume that the TLAs are made up from “people”, not “Machine Gods”, right?)

    whoever: Not sure what you are referring to precisely, but yes. Used me to harass Clooney {whereas I thought I was coming to him with a cool story} not realizing the hell he had been through during and after shooting Syriana. He later said that he considered suicide as a result of it.

    You do realize this is a needlessly complicated high-risk gambit on part of hypothetical malefactors ?

    If they wanted to remove Clooney, there are so many more reliable ways than using you that it’s not funny. Especially since you do not appear to be a very reliable TLA vector of influence, lol (that is, you do not seem to behave in ways one would expect a reasonable “tool of the Man” to behave)

    whoever: No, that his ideas were put to use by CIA domestically.

    You mean “A. Jone’s” ideas or Cass Sunstein’s ?
    The latter is entirely plausible (that’s like, the point of his work, lol) but he didn’t suggest anything particularly outrageous.

    whoever: Alex Jones was connected to CIA subcontractor Stratfor by Anonymous. Twice, actually. Once was wrong {there was another Alex Jones at Stratfor who was not the disinformation agent}, but the other made it pretty clear that PrisonPlanet, AlexJones, and the third domain I’ve forgotten at the moment were all Stratfor by IP address at one time. Additionally, Jones has a few employees who popped over from there, it’s even on their resumes.

    I wonder if I ever purchased any domains that had at some point in time been associated with an “unwholesome” IP like that.
    That could easily turn very embarrassing.

    But given that STRATFOR are the think-tank that is running very low on “think”, as far as I can tell (when was the last time they got anything right?), a connection with someone who self-identifies as a “paleoconservative” is not entirely implausible, I’ll give you that

    whoever: A lot of people take Jones seriously. Why is that, if he’s stark raving mad?

    For same reasons a lot of people take [ christianity / islam / *insert arbitrary traditional religion* / grey aliens / “traditional” values / “collective unconscious” / astrology / *insert favorite nonsense here* ] seriously.

    whoever: Well, a lot of it is done the mundane way:

    https://mccoyote.wordpress.com/navy-mind-control-paper/

    I love it.
    Spinning this as “mind control” is a bit like spinning NAT as a “network security solution”.
    I mean, it’s not entirely fallacious, but it is a… rather insidious overstatement.

    whoever: Wow. You should {not!} visit the States. It’s all they talk about between ISISes/Ebolas/Sony hack BSes is how workers and government are sucking billionaires dry.

    Dude, I know, I was to US (I occasionally come to visit certain events, professional and… recreational 😉 ) but that does not mean that “labor conspiracies” make any more sense than “cake stealing conspiracies” (and by “labor conspiracies” I am specifically referring to one of your speculations that the “endspiel” of TLAs is establishing some kind of guaranteed labor source in USA)

    whoever: And lay off the whatev…there are no greys! 😉

    Greys are remarkably hard to disprove, as long as you’re willing to rationalize past sheer preposterousness of manned biological interstellar travel and the complexity of a conspiracy needed to keep them hidden (which is a funny hypothetical to ponder)

    whoever: They have also succeeded in making Americans think that torture was necessary and that these wars are justified. That is not by accident, nor was it unintentional.

    I think you don’t need very hard to make people accept torture of people they dislike as “justified”.

    The claim that there is a certain effort to support foreign military adventures on behalf of CIA and the likes is not implausible.

    In fact, I would argue that intelligence agencies (not just US agencies, ANY intelligence agencies) inherently benefit from military conflicts, and as such, have an organizational interest in sustaining those

    However, the “TLAs work to support wars” is not the sole claim you make, and not the claim I have any particular beef with.

    whoever: For the “labor conspiracy,” see:

    http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=michael_ledeen

    1981. Then scroll down. This was Rove’s primary visitor in the White House.

    According to one author, GLADIO was, is, and likely will be the prime method of controlling governments including those of the EU. In essence NATO runs, or heavily influence, most of the world’s terrorist organizations. Note the connection–a phony one–to an Italian freemasonry lodge. That was an intentional false lead on Ledeen’s part. This is how those crazy conspiracy theories get started.

    I wasn’t referring to “labor conspiracies” in the sense of “CIA having fingers in labor-ish movements” but rather refering one of your previous claims (made on this fine blog) that the terminal goal of this whole shebang is to establish some kind of sustained local labor source for the super-rich.

  84. And one more regarding the alleged “failure” of Mkultra drug testing. American artist and socialist {his thought crime} Stanley Milton Glickman. Was he, you think, any note important than a novice comic book writer or a “midlist” SciFi writer {who is actually the best, sales notwithstanding}?

    https://mccoyote.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/just-another-psyop/

  85. whoever: o draw attention to the fact that, contrary to 24, Jack Ryan, James Bond, The Wire, etc., the primary hidden agenda of the intelligence communities is not the health and well-being of the average citizen, but rather first and foremost the survival and expansion of the industry itself. How that manifests varies… Insider trading, targeting activists, furthering political goals of powerful lobbies, etc. This includes the exact opposite of what the stated goal is at times, up to and including actually making people and property less safe, or failing that, to feel less safe to the same general effect.

    I don’t think that many people outside of “believes in angels” demographic believe that something like an intelligence agency can be “nice” / “well-meaning”.
    Intelligence people are inherently mean-spirited, that’s necessary to do a job like that (just ask Third, lol !)

    whoever: Second, the only defense for the average citizen against this is to understand the means and methods. Prey adapating to the predator’s adaptations, so to speak. While Snowden helped draw attention to the virtual versions of this, I am trying–due to a lack of a Snowden in these circles–to do similar for the real world. It’s in part a stage magic show that, rather than believe actual magic {most of the time, some conspiracy theories go there of course} we instead believe whatever crap spews from Anderson Cooper’s, Chris Matthews’ or Bill O’Reilly’s maws.

    I tend to disagree with you on technological, and more importantly, managerial plausibility of certain measures you claim are being perpetrated in “meatspace”.
    Managing many such field ops would require tremendous skill and a godawful amount of contingency planning.

    whoever: False flag is a real phenomenon.

    Of course it is, and nobody claims otherwise.

    A particular even being a “false flag” event is another matter of discussion.

    whoever: The myth of trickle down economics continues. Progress in productivity has meant that fewer now do the work that it used to require many. What then are those who there simply aren’t enough jobs for to do?

    Apparently live on the Strip and be medicated.

    That’s not trickle-down, that’s socialism 😀
    Or rather, limited capitalism, but with an apparent socialist streak. Yes, the streak is kinda mean, but it’s a setting written by Peter, lol 😀

    Proper trickle-down would be fencing the refugees off, setting up a bunch of killbots with high-caliber autocannons to guard the perimeter and letting the refugees “pull themselves up by the shoestrings” without handouts such as “calvin cyclers” and whatnot.

    whoever: Doesn’t have to be presciely correct to be in the ballpark of where it’s going and, therefore, not something your elities necessarily want in the mind’s eye of Joe Q. Public.

    The only alternative to Strip-like scenario (maybe nicer, kinder, less “Wattsian” one, with robot-built warm housing, robot-fabricated fancy food that is “indistinguishable from caviar”, as well as free internet and free sex-bots for Strip denizens) is proper trickle down, aka “starving and freezing to death”.

  86. whoever: And one more regarding the alleged “failure” of Mkultra drug testing. American artist and socialist {his thought crime} Stanley Milton Glickman. Was he, you think, any note important than a novice comic book writer or a “midlist” SciFi writer {who is actually the best, sales notwithstanding}?

    how exactly is this a “successful” result, unless you believe that there is any measurable utility to be found in neutralizing various artists who vaguely disagree with your org’s political position (and even then, this particular op was kinda lame – it would make more sense to poison him with LSD* completely clandestinely, without the whole needless “argument in public” affair)

    __________________
    * I wonder if effect permanence was intentional.
    People don’t often go irrevocably insane from single LSD exposure…

  87. 01: I don’t think that many people outside of “believes in angels” demographic believe that something like an intelligence agency can be “nice” / “well-meaning”.
    Intelligence people are inherently mean-spirited, that’s necessary to do a job like that (just ask Third, lol !)

    Hence, you probably aren’t my audience. Idiots here love that shit and believe it.

    http://www.cnet.com/news/celebrities-rage-on-twitter-after-sony-cancels-the-interview/

    I tend to disagree with you on technological, and more importantly, managerial plausibility of certain measures you claim are being perpetrated in “meatspace”.Managing many such field ops would require tremendous skill and a godawful amount of contingency planning.

    Fair, but I think it works better than you would expect. It is easy, when a person is emotional, confused, etc. to present two or three options. That’s all you need.

    That’s not trickle-down, that’s socialism

    Agree. That was just making it relevant. Though it’s socialism with a very limited scope. I’ve often said Watts is an optimist. Your robot scenario makes more sense to me.

    But then there’s the whole Achilles botfly thing that makes sneezing a potential hazard to your health. And one wouldn’t want to do that in Lubin’s general direction either.

  88. 01: how exactly is this a “successful” result, unless you believe that there is any measurable utility to be found in neutralizing various artists who vaguely disagree with your org’s political position (and even then, this particular op was kinda lame – it would make more sense to poison him withLSD* completely clandestinely, without the whole needless “argument in public” affair)
    __________________
    * I wonder if effect permanence was intentional.
    People don’t often go irrevocably insane from single LSD exposure…

    I think it likely they didn’t much care, assumed he would jump off of something thinking God had granted him wings or some such.

    And it might not have been just LSD. Several people were given LSD in the “experiment” that drove Frank Olson crazy, but one witness admitted that there were two flasks and Olson was the only one who drank from one of them. His problem, having developed a conscience after seeing fatal nerve gas tests on UK soldiers.

    As for whatever drugs, if any, in my case, I did ask one expert. Apparently he is too busy with other stuff to get back to me on the answers. Don’t know. He replied once, then nothing.

    He is an interesting dude, though.

    http://www.vice.com/series/hamiltons-pharmacopeia

    Kind of reminds me of Neil Gaiman.

  89. Peter Watts,

    You’re right I’m not sure, so I went back and checked and the booked had morphed back in Maelstrom, my bad, what can I say? Senior citizen moment, visual attentional bias, whatever I’m stupid.

    Nothing to see here, move along, just someone being wrong on the internet. My bad.

  90. Re whoever, on angels and organizations

    I’m actually a corporate spook by trade (we call it “competitive intelligence”, but I prefer “corpse spook” lol), so take my position with as much grain of salt as you want, but 01 is kinda right.

    I did field ops that are many times less risky and less complex than “organized stalking” would entail, and it is always a terible managerial mess.
    Things rarely go as planned, third parties with too much time on their hands start to intervene, employees are unreliable – even the loyal ones, and you have to always be on your tiptoes.
    Admittedly, our “boutique consulting company” isn’t CIA, but I suspect that whatever boons you get by employing people with actual “operator™ training” are more than negated by greater complexity and risk of the stuff you describe (most of the things we do here in corpse intel aren’t explicitly illegal so, more often than not, we can just calmly walk away when things start spinning themselves apart, and thus we can afford a degree of chance that would be fatal to a more dangerous, explicitly illegal activity, especially one involving special equipment)

    CIA would have to develop a preposterous number of contingencies if they were to carry out a massive harassment campaign across USA for an extended period of time without getting caught with their pants down (and full of highly-classified frey-radios and poisons), and maintain them meticulously.

    And that’s before we take the possibility of operatives going rogue or other intelligence organizations getting involved into account.

    And let’s be frank. the CIA we see do not have that level of professional excelence, to the point of being actually cringeworthy at times (I mean, they still use polygraphs, for crying out loud,because retiring this quacktech would require admitting that they were wrong for many decades and might have explicitly improved the chances of foreign subversion during recruitment)

    P.S.:
    When humans are emotionally distraught, they become unpredictable.
    Thus, you can’t really count on a traumatized person to consistently follow one of the several alternatives you present.

    CIA might very well be able to drive a person insane (some people are teetering so close to insanity that, all things considered, they need the tiniest push), but doing that in a manner that would yield a coherent, predictable result is a matter of finesse which, again, is inconsistent with people who dump LSD into civvie foodstuffs and fail to kill a single old commie scumbag (despite trying for literally decades!)

  91. Oh, I forgot to say something about angels

    Saying something about angels, then.

    Whoever, do you really believe that any argument can convince someone who is gone to the point of believing in a preposterous supernatural critter from abrahamic myths?

    I mean, you’re dealing with people who harbor multiple outright delusional beliefs (ranging from angels to CIA being reliably, consistently pro-social and probably also to crystal healing and vaccine conspiracy), and you basically go ” this fact here, that evidence there, and the evidence over there is not some “sheet of paper” but an official document from this and that congressional comission or this and that FOIA request” ?

    Messages from “base reality” (as Nihei characters would put it) is almost incapable of reaching the depths of their pathological thinking, poetically speaking. That audience is hard to work with, unless you’re willing to somehow integrate into their delusions (maybe you can spin yourself as an angel sent to uncover a gay-muslum-communist conspiracy inside the CIA 😀 )

  92. *Any* argument? Yes. You convince them that they are the Devil Incarnate.

    http://mccoyote.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/janus/

    :)

    http://www.waterholes.com/~dennette/comix/watchmen/_ix-27-2__.gif

  93. Anyway, not so much my pareidolia as it is others’ inability to see the invisible gorilla:

    http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/videos.html

    Fascism, corporate control of the government, is here. May not be complete, may not be able to see it cuz itcantbetherforeitisnt, but it is progressing and should be obvious to anyone who doesn’t think, “The rollout of drones domestically is for my protection from [insert really not a true threat outgroup here]” or protests caused a man to kill two cops. An absurd notion that should telegraph to the police where their union leader’s heart truly lay:

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/wall_street_takes_over_more_statehouses_20141114

    This one is clearly upset about it…

    http://t.co/ArGWX5ZxgF

    …but taking it out on all the wrong people.