Images, Opera, Israel.

 

A bit of a break from the doom’n’gloom; instead of rubbing your noses in real-world apocalypsi, I’ll rub them in my fictional ones instead. Those at least have the advantage of cool cover art.

 

Air Quotes in Israel

First off, though, let me pull a 180 and announce something downright literally Utopian: to wit, the Utopia International Film Festival next month in Tel Aviv. You can be forgiven for thinking the title is intended ironically, but I assure you they came up with it long before the current missile volleys (and as I understand it Tel Aviv is out of the hot zone anyway). Anyway, I’ve been invited—there are workshops and panels in addition to the screenings— and I fully expect to be there with the BUG even though it starts in a couple of weeks and we haven’t got our flights yet.

Even better, a friend of mine recently returned from Gaza, so we’ll be able to hang out at Stormcrow Manor and compare notes afterward.

That should be fun.

 

A Canticle for Sarasti

I’ve been honored to hear my work inspire various bits of music over the years, and surprised how much of that music I actually liked. I have not been surprised by the fact that most of those tunes have been electronic, or ambient, or thrashy electrometal (I don’t know if “thrashy electrometal” is actually a thing, mind you—I just made it up now— but you get the idea.) What else would they be?

Well, since I asked: minimalist classical.

Last year, as I understand it,  Christian Valencia of Chapman University got together with this ensemble called Loadbang, and together they produced this nifty little 5-minute—well, Christian describes it as an “art song”, but it doesn’t have lyrics, per sé. Just a sung excerpt from Blindsight, from the POV of the probe that first intercepts the Burns-Caulfield transmission.  The tag on SoundCloud is “Contemporary Classical”.

Personally, I like to think of it as an unearthed  fragment of a lost opera. That fits nicely with both the non-rhyming prose-vocals and the orchestration (bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone and baritone singer). Plus the whole “unearthed fragment” bit explains why it’s only five minutes long.

Maybe, long after society collapses, some studious monk sifting through  the wreckage will find a thumb drive containing this file. Perhaps he will diligently bring it back to the monastery for preservation and decoding, and then— realizing that this message from The Before Time is but a fragment— he will spend the remainder of his stupid diligent life looking for the rest. Maybe that small cruel irony will give some degree of meaning to our fallen empire.

Anyway, here’s the link. Check it out. Personally I quite liked it, once I came to terms with the concept of a singing space probe.

 

F/Art (or, The Search For Better Acronyms)

You’ll have noticed the artwork. It’s been piling up for a while now, and I’ve just added a fair bit to the galleries.  The bulk of the new material can be found over in the Blindopraxia wing, and hails from just two artists, both Russian: Алекс Трейс and Dmitry Skolzki. Both have produced so many pieces that I ended up giving them their own subheadings. But there are also a couple of gorgeous new book covers (for Starfish and FFR) , a cool bit of fan art that could be a page ripped from a Starfish graphic novel, and a CGI rendition of βehemoth’s source code.  All in all, 26 new pieces of annotated art for your delectation, only a sampling of which is shown here.

Go have a look. After all, you can’t spend all your time on this one measly blog page. It just makes me feel stupid for spending all that time working on the others.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Thursday November 15 2018at 09:11 am , filed under art on ink, On the Road . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

93 Responses to “Images, Opera, Israel.”

  1. Israel eh? Deeply disappointing.

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  2. Is your friend returning after violating the ceasefire by sneaking into the open-air prison to murder Gazans?

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  3. Uh, no. Matter of fact, she came back after a fact-finding tour during which she learned about (among other things) automated Israeli wall-mounted guns triggered by motion-sensors. They started off by gunning down Palestinian goats and progressed rapidly to gunning down Palestinian kids. My understanding is that, Netanyahu’s best efforts notwithstanding, such commonplace atrocities get far more critical coverage in the Israeli press than they do in the American.

    I’ll give you a moment to pull your head out of your ass.

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  4. Slight correction: The name of the artist-who-is-a-former-nuclear-physicist on Tumblr is Rachell Redacted, not Rachel Redacted as you have on the page. The double L is there as a pun on “Chell” from the Portal game series.

    On https://vk.com/dark_matter she is going by Александра Дреннан which Englishifies as “Alexandra Drennan” (and is probably pronounced similarly). In HTML that would be
    & #1040;& #1083;& #1077;& #1082;& #1089;& #1072;& #1085;& #1076;& #1088;& #1072; & #1044;& #1088;& #1077;& #1085;& #1085;& #1072;& #1085;

    (extra spaces added before each # to prevent it from being displayed as HTML. Remove them if you want to use this.)

    I used this tool to convert a unicode string to HTML entities
    https://www.online-toolz.com/tools/unicode-html-entities-convertor.php

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  5. Not to argue for anon, but what have the American press got to do with it?

    You are breaking the cultural boycott of a state that has (just to take a recent example) spent the entire summer openly maiming and murdering imprisoned civilians with sniper fire. Im sure you have your reasons, but I for one am surprised that someone who generally seems so thoughtful and compassionate would make such a decision.

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  6. And AFAIC the Gazan Sentry guns are not automated, they are operated by the IDF field intelligence corps.

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  7. Let’s all just look at the pretty pictures, mmkay?

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  8. droid: Not to argue for anon, but what have the American press got to do with it?

    You are, in fact, arguing for anon, but no matter. I can argue with you both.

    I am aware of the despicable things that Israel has done to the Palestinians. I’ve seen the coverage of the blockades preventing humanitarian aid, the illegal occupation, the horrendous hypermilitarized overreaction to insurrection— and while I have some sympathy for the They want to wipe us off the map argument, I don’t think it excuses the sight of families settling down on nearby hilltops with picnic lunches to watch the shelling.

    The US is relevant here. They’re Israel’s biggest ally. They excuse all manner of atrocity where Israel is concerned, as they always have with any regime who serves their own political interests (Saudi Arabia is a great current example; doubtless you can think of others, in both hemispheres). I have been given to understand that the Israeli press tends to be more critical of Israeli policy than are the American press. This is relevant because Anon— assuming they aren’t using a VPN— lives in the US. Maryland, to be precise. There’s a certain irony in an American implicitly excoriating me for hanging out with people who, evidently, are far more critical of their own gummint’s actions than said Americans are.

    Bad as Israeli policy might be under Netanyahu, the US has wrought orders of magnitude more damage around the world— but I do not assume that the policy of a government reflects the opinions of every one of its subjects. If I did, I would never visit Ireland because of your nation’s backward views on abortion. I would never visit the US because of its governments backward views on— well, on pretty much everything, these days. (Of course, I’m not allowed to visit the US anyway.) I would not have visited St. Petersburg because of Putin’s repressive actions towards LGBTs and dissidents, or China because of their abysmal Human Rights records, or Poland because of their increasingly right-wingnut administration.

    But news flash: I’m not going to be hanging out with any of the people who do those things. Because there are a lot of other folks in those places who don’t like those policies any more than we do, and I don’t have a problem being friends with them. (Hell, last time I was in Poland, there was a Pride Parade.)

    So here’s a question for you, droid. You’ve hung around on this blog long enough. You’ve seen me post datelines from Russia, and China, and Poland. You’ve never complained before. Should I infer from this that you have no problem with the administrations of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping?

    Why is it okay to break bread with people in Beijing, but not Tel Aviv?

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  9. droid:
    And AFAIC the Gazan Sentry guns are not automated, they are operated by the IDF field intelligence corps.

    I was told motion-sensors. But I’ll be hanging out with her again in the next week or two, I can always double-check.

    Oge:
    Let’s all just look at the pretty pictures, mmkay?

    Oh God, yes. This was supposed to be a fucking puff post…

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  10. Ross Presser: Slight correction: The name of the artist-who-is-a-former-nuclear-physicist on Tumblr is Rachell Redacted, not Rachel Redacted as you have on the page.

    Oh of course. Will fix.

    And thanks for that link! I expect I’ll be using it a lot.

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  11. Peter Watts: Why is it okay to break bread with people in Beijing, but not Tel Aviv?

    I have no issue with either alone. What chafed me to respond was your clear implication that the film festival’s moniker only became ironic once the victims attempted to fight back, as though weekly massacres are a utopian staple. My post added causative context for the volleys you mentioned, in as flippant and insulting a manner as possible.

    Your subsequent posts indicate that my reaction was misaimed, and for that I apologize. Rash interpretation of poor wording was no justification for a hot temper.

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  12. Christ no. That’s the absolute last thing I wanted to convey— although now I can certainly see how it came across that way, to people who don’t know me well. I was going for a kind of grim gallows-irony, nothing more.

    I keep forgetting that body language doesn’t show up in these posts. I’ll try to be more careful in future.

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  13. With all due respect these are not good arguments Peter, and I think you are aware of this.

    However:

    Peter Watts: If I did, I would never visit Ireland because of your nation’s backward views on abortion.

    You could probably have chosen a better example there. We finally repealed the 8th amendment last year, the first chance we’ve gotten since 1983, after every other vote on the issue since ’83 rejected attempts to copperfasten the restrictions.

    Peter Watts:So here’s a question for you, droid. You’ve hung around on this blog long enough. You’ve seen me post datelines from Russia, and China, and Poland. You’ve never complained before. Should I infer from this that you have no problem with the administrations of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping?

    Why is it okay to break bread with people in Beijing, but not Tel Aviv?

    You’ve conflated several issues there. Poland certainly doesnt belong there as, despite their current government, theyre not, to my knowledge occupying another country or involved in any wars or major human rights abuses.

    Russia and China, sure. Huge nations with a vast spectrum of activities, but both with fairly despicable records in their treatment of both their own citizens and victims of their wars.

    There are fundamental differences though. Russia and China are both far too big for a BDS campaign to have a signifcant effect. Russia and China are not desperate to characterise themselves as liberal western democracies. Russia and China do not advertise their cultural integration as evidence of same and most crucally, Russia and China’s victims have not called for a cultural boycott of Russia and China.

    This is the crux of the matter. Palestinian civil society has called for BDS in solidarity with their cause and to aid in ending a brutal occupation which affects every sphere of their existence.

    And yes, there are plenty of decent people in Israel who are appalled at the acts of their government (not as many as might be hoped judging by opinion polls), and yes, Im sure many of those people are the same kinds of people you will be hanging out with, but it cannot be deined that making that journey is a politcal act which sends a political message, however inconsequential that may seem.

    Here’s something id ask you to consider. Givent that the arguments you have made here would also apply to historical situaitons, if this was the mid-1980’s, would you attend a convention in apartheid South Africa?

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  14. droid:

    You could probably have chosen a better example there. We finally repealed the 8th amendment last year, the first chance we’ve gotten since 1983, after every other vote on the issue since ’83 rejected attempts to copperfasten the restrictions.

    Correction, this year, probably shouldve gotten that right seeing as I campigned for it, but it seems so long ago now.

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  15. This post is turning out more interesting than expected.

    Some personal observations: When I lived in the Middle East I found it odd that the one country I had to be careful not to let stamp my passport was Israel. They’d let me in with stamps from every despotic country in the region, while most of those countries wouldn’t let me in with an Israeli stamp. In Cairo El Al landed with their entire flight crew – they weren’t being paranoid; many people in the region really are out to get them. I found conversations in the region would often be quite normal until Israel came up, then people would lose their shit. It was ridiculous.

    Israel isn’t blameless, but the creation of the country is a direct result of how other countries have treated Jews. At this point, most Israelis were not alive when the country was created, so the question starts to become, when deciding who has a right to live where, how far back do you want to go?

    Comparisons to South Africa are off-base. Jerusalem and the “right of return” have been sticking points in negotiations that have no parallel in the history of South Africa.

    I can’t help but wonder, had Watts’ friend just returned from Saudi Arabia, if the reaction would have been as virulent.

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  16. Ross Presser, I’m not that former of a physicist as any of you may think 🙂 Thanks for correction anyway

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  17. I understand the attitude of the independent observer visiting various countries for various reasons and seeing many people around with different values. Their opinion is important, and your profession as writer or journalist allows you to balance it. But it is not that simple when you start to take sides eventually, even subtly.

    Peter Watts: But news flash: I’m not going to be hanging out with any of the people who do those things.

    Yet in the case of Lviv you did. Not to be confused with the people who directly and openly terrorise people of their own country, treat them as invaders and a vermin for their culture and language. But you were repeating the words about “hybrid war” and “invasion” and so on – they belong to them and their supporters. And while I can not fully underestimate the power of ignorance projected by contemporary liberal media, I fail to understand how can an educated person fail to notice such horrendously obvious substitution of values.

    https://economics.unian.info/10339455-imf-expects-ukrainian-authorities-will-increase-heating-tariffs.html
    https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/11/1025861

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  18. My brother wrote that piece, but it’s fairly atypical of his works. I’m sure he was too humble to ask for a shout-out so I’ll post it here: he’s on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZflumvQtadyBMcOWnj0Alg
    And Instagram:
    https://instagram.com/christian.wav?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=1rad0awhhv64f

    Long time reader, first time writing in. Great stuff all around, thank you for sharing these strangely familiar artworks.

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  19. Phil:
    Comparisons to South Africa are off-base. Jerusalem and the “right of return” have been sticking points in negotiations that have no parallel in the history of South Africa.

    Apartheid was a unique historical scenario, however there are significant and obvious parallels. The Bantustan system of control and coercion in the West Bank. Segregated infrastructure and services. Rampant discrimination on ethnic and racial grounds. Disenfranchisement and lack of representation of Arab Israelis. VIcious and unrelenting dehumanisation and demonisation of Palestinians in politics, culture and media.

    Israel was founded and exists as a Jewish ethno-state, which is why it is now being held up as an example by white nationalists like Richard Spencer as a model.This is why people like Desmond Tutu have no compunction about using the word apartheid to describe it. Personally I think the best description is: ‘Apartheid with Israeli characteristics’.

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  20. Peter Watts:
    she learned about (among other things) automated Israeli wall-mounted guns triggered by motion-sensors. They started off by gunning down Palestinian goats and progressed rapidly to gunning down Palestinian kids

    Do you have any evidence for that? I would really like know.

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  21. FactsChecker: Do you have any evidence for that? I would really like know.

    This is from 2013, no doubt technology has since improved. I seem to remember reading an article in which Israeli school kids went to visit the control room.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBW9P6mragU

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  22. listedproxyname: But you were repeating the words about “hybrid war” and “invasion” and so on – they belong to them and their supporters.

    “Hybrid war” and “invasion” are appropriate terms to describe the attack on the territory of the sovereign, internationally recognized Ukrainian state by foreign armed forces. It has nothing to do with fact-twisting by “liberal media”, whatever that means. Criminal aggression is criminal aggression. Facts can be twisted, but in this day and age they are almost impossible to falsify completely, regardless of the source.

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  23. droid,

    Israel isn’t blameless – a number of its actions are only explicable as the expression of a minority (as we see in other religions) who wish to push an extremist agenda. Most Israelis would probably like things to settle down if there was a willing peace partner, but I wonder how honest even those countries apparently not openly hostile to Israel are being. Iran is held up as the country most interested in seeing Israel pushed into the Med, but the Middle East Lonely Planet Guide I shipped into Saudi eventually arrived at my house with the Israel section carefully cut out. Maps in that country did not include Israel.

    Thinking of Saudi, most of your description of Israel could apply equally to Saudi Arabia in relation to the Sunni Saud and Wahabi control of the Shiite majority population in the oil field regions, occupation of Yemini land in the south, and the segregation of Muslim and non-Muslim services and access. This does not excuse some Israeli actions, but again I wonder at the antipathy some people hold for Israel when there are so many other states and regimes equally deserving (each for their own unique reasons) of antipathy but which are accorded only passing scorn, if that. I find this even more puzzling given that the continued existence of most of these states is not nearly as tenuous as Israel’s would be if it did not maintain a raised level of engagement. (Regarding El Al, I meant to say that they fly in their entire ground crew – not flight crew, which is a given – which other Middle Eastern carriers do not find necessary to do.)

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  24. I reject the whatboutism argument. The left has continuously condemned Saudi Arabia and has called for boycotts, moratoriums of arms sales and sanctions. It is no coincidence that the Saudis are now Israel’s staunchest allies in the region.

    Whilst I agree that there is no love lost between Israel and its neighbours (and this may be partly due to Israel’s habit of invading and bombing states with impunity), the fact remains that virtually every regional actor has accepted the two state solution, UN 242 and a return to the 1967 borders as a basis for peace since the camp david accord with Egypt in 1978. In fact the entire planet has accepted this bar Israel, the US and various rotating client states. The Palestinians accepted this formally in 1989. Continuing hostility towards Israel is due to its historical role as a US ally in the region and its appalling conduct during the 50+ years of occupation of Palestinian territory.

    But fundamentally, if you accept that Israel’s behaviour is similar to Apartheid SA which you now seem to, can you explain why the Boycott of South Africa was acceptable when there were many other states in the world guilty of worse crimes than apartheid?

    This is the core of the issue. If you argue that Israel should not be subject to BDS because other states behave similarly or worse, then you must also argue that similar actions against SA apartheid were unacceptable.

    I would hope that any person of conscience would consider this carefully before breaking the boycott.

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  25. There is no guilt, just causes.
    I’d say, the big beach ghetto screwed it up: Freaking out a quarter of the planet’s population, while relying on a superpower prone to betray its allies every 4 years, doesn’t sound like a recipe for longevity. The Muslim world is getting younger and stronger, the West is getting older and weaker. If I was Palestinian, I’d give the Israelis all the land they wanted, let them build infrastructure and towns, provided that all the synagogues face Mecca. Lucky me, I miss the Jewish culture in Europe. But I’d prefer people to keep their lives and homes, regardless of their ethnicity.
    You can’t expect a country started in racist, colonialist times not to introduce racist, colonialist policies. It seemed to work, so they stuck to it, not expecting that the Holocaust shield, allowing them to do whatever they pleased, would ever fade. Well, we’re too busy preparing the mass murders of the future to regret the mass murders of the past. Would you blame present-day Jews for the biblical Canaan genocides?
    Israelis and Palestinians together form a highly functional, stable engine of hate, a shredder for humans. The cultural operating system programs people from childhood on, grinds them into its screws and cogwheels. Even if teleported to another country, they try to reconstruct the death machine, because that’s the only system they can function in. Feeling sorry for your crimes excuses these crimes, gives you the clear conscience of a sociopath that you need to keep going (it’s not just Israel, it’s a feature of mankind). It’s a healthy, strong organism that’s found its ecological niche – no matter how much its components suffer, such a successful top-notch beast won’t change from within. Just like the Great White Shark, it’ll carry on till harpoon day.
    That’s why it’s important for the artists, outsiders and eccentrics from all the world to enter such systems. Only a constant influx of new DNA, new codes, can cause mutations. Small cells of ideas, bubbles of insanity. Sometimes, cancer is the way to go.
    It’s like the Poles and Ukrainians: There’s a lot in the past you can never forget or forgive. You don’t have to. You just need to realize, you don’t want your children to go through this, and if it means swallowing down your hate, so be it.

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  26. droid: With all due respect these are not good arguments Peter, and I think you are aware of this.

    Hey, if I didn’t think they were decent arguments I wouldn’t have made them.

    And if you didn’t think they were decent you probably shouldn’t have conceded as much as you did in your response.

    droid: You’ve conflated several issues there. Poland certainly doesnt belong there as, despite their current government, they’re not, to my knowledge occupying another country or involved in any wars or major human rights abuses.

    I’d argue the theocratic elements of that administration translate into rights abuses for certain demographics, but fair enough.

    droid: Russia and China, sure. Huge nations with a vast spectrum of activities, but both with fairly despicable records in their treatment of both their own citizens and victims of their wars. There are fundamental differences though. Russia and China are both far too big for a BDS campaign to have a signifcant effect.

    So’s the USA. Unless you believe that Israel would have survived this long without constant US support— and unless you don’t believe that the US will continue to prop up that regime economically and militarily, regardless of third-party boycotts— then it seems to me that your reasons for letting Russia and China off the hook apply to Israel/US as well. The major difference is an extra step in the wire transfers.

    droid: Russia and China are not desperate to characterise themselves as liberal western democracies. Russia and China do not advertise their cultural integration as evidence of same

    I’m not entirely sure what you’re arguing here. You seem to be suggesting that the merits of a boycott hinge at least partly on the way a country’s PR department presents itself, independent of the abuses themselves— i.e. that a boycott of Russia and China would somehow be more justified if they simply started presenting themselves as “liberal democracies”. I find this an odd line of reasoning.

    droid: and most crucally, Russia and China’s victims have not called for a cultural boycott of Russia and China.

    I don’t know how much you can read into this. I can guess at one or two reasons why the Uygurs, for example, haven’t explicitly called for a boycott of China. You can keep silent because you’ve got nothing to say, or you can keep silent because there’s a gag over your mouth.

    droid: This is the crux of the matter. Palestinian civil society has called for BDS in solidarity with their cause and to aid in ending a brutal occupation which affects every sphere of their existence.

    I actually had not realized this. Didn’t even know what “BDS” meant until you sent me looking it up. I agree it’s a relevant factor I hadn’t considered when making my decision; I don’t think it distinguishes the Palestinian crisis from others as profoundly as you seem to, though. Surely we should stand up for the oppressed even when they don’t have a voice.

    droid: You could probably have chosen a better example there. We finally repealed the 8th amendment last year, the first chance we’ve gotten since 1983, after every other vote on the issue since ’83 rejected attempts to copperfasten the restrictions.

    Yeah, but in one way it’s an even better example: last year my hypothetical principled boycotty stand would prevent me from hanging out with you; this year, that would be cool. And yet you were the same damn person all along, no more deserving of ostracism last year than this. I understand the Big Picture demands for such sacrifice, but I don’t necessarily agree with them in every case.

    droid: And yes, there are plenty of decent people in Israel who are appalled at the acts of their government (not as many as might be hoped judging by opinion polls), and yes, Im sure many of those people are the same kinds of people you will be hanging out with, but it cannot be deined that making that journey is a politcal act which sends a political message, however inconsequential that may seem.

    It doesn’t just seem inconsequential; I believe it actually is, in the same way that neither Vladimir Putin or any of his cronies had any slight idea or interest in the fact that a midlist SF writer from Canada had breached their borders. But if my entry into St. Petersburg did convey any kind of message, then surely the statements I publicly made there— I referred to Putin as a “cold-eyed sociopathic killer”— also conveyed a message, if no more forceful then at least no less so. Surely my pointed questions to reporters and civilians and fellow authors in China— about Tibet, and government censorship, and social scoring— spoke as clearly as my willingness to make the trip.

    To be clear, I don’t think the messages I sent in either regime were delivered above an inaudible peep. But if you’re going to score the one, you have to score the others as well. And what little time I’ve managed to spend in any country— open, closed, or in between— has taught me things I would not have learned by staying home. I expect my trip to Tel Aviv to be no less educational, and I will ask just as many questions.

    droid: Here’s something id ask you to consider. Givent that the arguments you have made here would also apply to historical situaitons, if this was the mid-1980’s, would you attend a convention in apartheid South Africa?

    Paul Simon was asked something like that, after he actually did go to apartheid South Africa to collaborate with fellow artists during the boycott. Someone put to him the question: “As a Jew, how would you have felt about one of your colleagues traveling to Nazi Germany to perform?” Simon answered: “You mean, to play with Jews?”

    It’s certainly not an exact analogy. I don’t expect to run into too many Palestinians in my workshops (although I would not turn down an invitation to Palestine for that purpose), but as I understand it Arabs are not unheard of in Tel Aviv so you never know. And we will all be gathered in pursuit of common art.

    Hopefully, I will come home just a little bit smarter than when I left.

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  27. Phil: I find this even more puzzling given that the continued existence of most of these states is not nearly as tenuous as Israel’s would be if it did not maintain a raised level of engagement.

    Surely not the “we must exterminate the natives lest they get uppity and destroy us” argument again. I mean, it’s almost 2019. Isn’t it time for at least a creative remake of the old tune? Something that isn’t the same-old-same-old with an electro-pop beat sampled in?

    Phil: Most Israelis would probably like things to settle down if there was a willing peace partner

    Indeed. If those rebellious, silly children would only consent to being kept prisoners on their own land, starved and shot at for sport, the Middle East would become an oasis of peace and prosperity.

    Phil: Thinking of Saudi, most of your description of Israel could apply equally to Saudi Arabia in relation to the Sunni Saud and Wahabi control of the Shiite majority population in the oil field regions, occupation of Yemini land in the south, and the segregation of Muslim and non-Muslim services and access.

    Holy whataboutism, Batman!

    I mean, segregation of services is pretty bad, but concentration camps and wholesale slaughter of civilians are still a few degrees worse in my book. Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned about my genocidal politics.

    Although I don’t doubt that the Saudis would kick it up a notch, given half a chance. They already seem to have gotten away with it in Yemen.

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  28. Alex:
    Ross Presser, I’m not that former of a physicist as any of you may think Thanks for correction anyway

    Wait, so you’re still a physicist? Like, a nuclear one?

    Could I pick your brain sometime if I need advice on reactors or whatnot?

    listedproxyname: Peter Watts: But news flash: I’m not going to be hanging out with any of the people who do those things.

    Yet in the case of Lviv you did. Not to be confused with the people who directly and openly terrorise people of their own country, treat them as invaders and a vermin for their culture and language. But you were repeating the words about “hybrid war” and “invasion” and so on – they belong to them and their supporters. And while I can not fully underestimate the power of ignorance projected by contemporary liberal media, I fail to understand how can an educated person fail to notice such horrendously obvious substitution of values.

    I would be astonished beyond words if any of the book-loving SF geeks I hung out with were responsible for the atrocities of the Netanyahu administration— or even the food shortages in Ukraine you linked to. (In fact, I’m not entirely sure why you included those links; the one that isn’t paywalled doesn’t accuse Ukrainians of being cold and hungry andm in many cases, dead.)

    As for my use of terminology, if you can think of a better term than “invasion” for what went down in Crimea, I’d like to hear it (“spreading democracy”, perhaps?). And “hybrid war” strikes me as a perfectly legitimate (and politically neutral) term for any war waged simultaneously in different arenas and along different axes.

    Lucas Valencia: My brother wrote that piece, but it’s fairly atypical of his works. I’m sure he was too humble to ask for a shout-out so I’ll post it here

    Thank you. Your bro never even passed on those links; all I got was the SoundCloud page.

    FactsChecker: Do you have any evidence for that? I would really like know.

    I wasn’t there; I’m just reporting what she told me. But I’ll be seeing her in the next couple off weeks; I can ask for more details.

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  29. Peter Watts
    So’s the USA. Unless you believe that Israel would have survived this long without constant US support— and unless you don’t believe that the US will continue to prop up that regime economically and militarily, regardless of third-party boycotts— then it seems to me that your reasons for letting Russia and China off the hook apply to Israel/US as well. The major difference is an extra step in the wire transfers.

    Activism is not simply a moral project, there is also a practical aspect. You focus your efforts on areas where you have the best possibilities to affect change. The US, China and Russia are simply to big, too integrated with the world economy to be affected by a boycott.

    I’m not entirely sure what you’re arguing here. You seem to be suggesting that the merits of a boycott hinge at least partly on the way a country’s PR department presents itself, independent of the abuses themselves— i.e. that a boycott of Russia and China would somehow be more justified if they simply started presenting themselves as “liberal democracies”.I find this an odd line of reasoning.

    There are several angles to Israel’s project, one of which is the projection of the image of a modern, liberal democratic state. This is seen as integral to the continuation of the occupation as widespread censure and condemnation could well lead to more serious political and economic sanctions. This is why a major part of hasbara campaigns involve manipulating public opinion in Europe and elsewhere. Israel sees BDS as a threat as it threatens their attempt to normalise their political status and you can measure how effective BDS is by it’s reaction. Any involvement in BDS is now a crime in Israel. They have lobbied governments, most notably in Germany, the UK and US to criminalise BDS and extand the definition of anti-semeitism to include it. An Israeli court just fined a new zealand teenager for her paricipaiton in a successful campaign to prevent Lorde from playing a concert in Tel Aviv.

    I actually had not realized this. Didn’t even know what “BDS” meant until you sent me looking it up. I agree it’s a relevant factor I hadn’t considered when making my decision; I don’t think it distinguishes the Palestinian crisis from others as profoundly as you seem to, though. Surely we should stand up for the oppressed even when they don’t have a voice.

    Im qute shocked you have’nt heard of it. Its a fairly high profiile campaign thats been going on for years.
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/aug/14/bds-boycott-divestment-sanctions-movement-transformed-israeli-palestinian-debate

    Sure, but consider this anaolgy. Workers are treated badly by many employers, and perhaps many business should be boycotted as a result, but in the case of a strike you have a clear choice to cross the picket line.

    In Palestine you have an oppressed people calling for solidarity in a non-violent protest against their opressors. Regardless of the percieved moral imperative in oter cases, this a clear cry for support. Its an unambigious line to be crossed or respected.

    Yeah, but in one way it’s an even better example: last year my hypothetical principled boycotty stand would prevent me from hanging out with you; this year, that would be cool. And yet you were the same damn person all along, no more deserving of ostracism last year than this. I understand the Big Picture demands for such sacrifice, but I don’t necessarily agree with them in every case.

    Well no. There’s a question of scale here as well. All struggles are not equal. The restrictions on abortion, though reprehensible were not in any way comparable with the human rights abuses and misery the Palestinians are subjected to.

    That said, had campaigners requested a cultural boycott in ordr to put pressure on the government, I would hope it would have been respected.

    It doesn’t just seem inconsequential; I believe it actually is, in the same way that neither Vladimir Putin or any of his cronies had any slight idea or interest in the fact that a midlist SF writer from Canada had breached their borders. But if my entry into St. Petersburg did convey any kind of message, then surely the statements I publicly made there— I referred to Putin as a “cold-eyed sociopathic killer”— also conveyed a message, if no more forceful then at least no less so.Surely my pointed questions to reporters and civilians and fellow authors in China— about Tibet, and government censorship, and social scoring— spoke as clearly as my willingness to make the trip.

    Symbolism is important. “Just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean is made up of drops”.

    Paul Simon was asked something like that, after he actually did go to apartheid South Africa to collaborate with fellow artists during the boycott. Someone put to him the question: “As a Jew, how would you have felt about one of your colleagues traveling to Nazi Germany to perform?”Simon answered: “You mean, to play with Jews?”

    Ye-ah – Simon has never seemed all that comfortable with his decision, and his position is questionable at best.

    But to clarify, are you saying you would have broken the apartheid boycott. Would you have played Sun City?

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  30. Peter Watts: Wait, so you’re still a physicist? Like, a nuclear one?

    Could I pick your brain sometime if I need advice on reactors or whatnot?

    I’m not in nuclear field anymore, but still in the Nuclear University. Currently getting my master’s in cosmic rays. So maybe I’m not a right brain to pick (pun intended, i guess?). But if you’re out of options you know where to find me.

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  32. Fatman: Criminal aggression is criminal aggression.

    Criminal aggression is aggression, of course, but there’s also a criminal transgression – of the laws that you did not know and agreements you were not told about.

    Peter Watts: I would be astonished beyond words if any of the book-loving SF geeks I hung out with were responsible for the atrocities of the Netanyahu administration— or even the food shortages in Ukraine you linked to.

    About Israelites I do not know any links, but as for those who live in Western Ukraine it is enough to say that they support their government initiatives and contacts. You said it yourself – the president, the ambassador, the help from your government, etc. This is not a big community – the people you were hanging out with were most certainly hanging out with certain other people who bear full responsibility.

    Peter Watts: And “hybrid war” strikes me as a perfectly legitimate (and politically neutral) term for any war waged simultaneously in different arenas and along different axes.

    For outside observer that may seem to be “invasion” – if you plug your ears and shut your eyes really hard like most of UN does every time – but from the inside there’s a big debate about who is invading who. Any insider would know that there’s two sides of the conflict and they use their own language to describe the situation. “Hybrid war” is government-approved term, and it is a dead ringer to US-supported paramilitary units. The opposite side uses term “civil war” (there’s even different interpretations of it, but the term itself sticks). Chances are you ended up in the company that did not tell you everything you should know.

    How ironical. After all I’ve read from the books I liked so much, I would be really disappointed to find this development.

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  33. Now I was born in a country torn as it was being torn apart by a civil war at the intersection of the East and the West and really nothing grinds my gear as much as partisans from either side trying to justify themselves or people from the West swinging their moral dongs at the rest of us while doing basically fuck all about it. (y’all like cheap oil and staples and don’t try to convince me otherwise, the voting records are clear year to year) Naturally all of them are joke fodder for realpolitik cynics and I’m disappointed that people on this blog are taking such a naive stance on all of the above issues. Well no, naivety I can understand, after all I read books by foreign authors on the conflict in my country and it’s simply laughable how much they don’t know or missed and drew horrendously bad conclusion because they forgot that they don’t know what they don’t know. Really it’s the foolish assumption that they have the right to judge other people that pisses me off. There was this great line by Sisko in DS9: It’s easy to be a saint in paradise.

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  34. droid,

    So it is okay to associate oneself with murderous dictatorships like Russia and China, because boycotting them “would not change anything” and because they dont even pretend to be anything other than they are, but visiting Israel is clearly beyond the pale.

    Wow. Hipocrisy Levels at 105% and rising, i guess.

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  35. John Rodriguez,

    Well, it’s perfectly normal doublethink. We all know well, the media have no particular motivation to stick to the truth, and lots of motivation to twist and turn it. We all know well, if you don’t have a clue, better shut up and listen (or, as my old wise sensei, C64-san put it: „?Out of data error“). But the pressure to have an opinion is just too big. So you use the data you get from the media, because you don’t have another. Usually, you get your “own” opinion from the media, too – people who try to think from themselves, divert from it much less than they ought.
    I’m aware of these mechanisms, but I s t i l l participate in this. The environmental pressure to fit in, to adapt, is just too big. I’ve spent too much time trying to convince people to believe their own eyes, as not to learn: Seeing is not believing, believing is seeing. Outside of your belief system, you’re dead matter, blind, deaf and brainless.

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  36. droid:

    This is the core of the issue. If you argue that Israel should not be subject to BDS because other states behave similarly or worse, then you must also argue that similar actions against SA apartheid were unacceptable.

    I wouldn’t argue that Israel should or shouldn’t be subject to BDS. As an individual I wouldn’t boycott Israel, but wouldn’t argue that others shouldn’t. I supported South African boycotts, but that situation was very different in my view both for objective historical reasons, and because it was framed as a white/black thing where people may reasonably categorize me as the former. I certainly felt a sense of injustice more profoundly in that case.

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  37. droid: Activism is not simply a moral project, there is also a practical aspect. … The US, China and Russia are simply to big, too integrated with the world economy to be affected by a boycott.

    No, that’s exactly my point. I was talking practicalities, not symbolism— and practically, BDS is targeting not Israel but Israel/US. The US will continue to support Israel regardless of any boycott; shit, the very article you pointed me to suggests that the boycott has in fact ramped-up support for Israel. I mean, making survivors of Hurricane Harvey certify that they won’t participate in BDS before they qualify for disaster relief? Shutting down boycott-related discussion on campuses? Moving the fucking embassy to Jerusalem?

    The fact that we both abhor these things is beside the point. The point is— practically— that the US will not let Israel fail, for fucked-up religious and political reasons of their own. So like it or not, BDS is tantamount to taking on the ‘Murricans. Which is too big to cave to a boycott. Which puts the issue back into China/Russia territory.

    droid: Im qute shocked you have’nt heard of it. Its a fairly high profiile campaign thats been going on for years.

    It’s a gap in my focus, for sure. (Didn’t know about the Sami either, until someone pointed me in the right direction). My default perspective is biological and species-level: I regard humankind in general as an out-of-control pest species wrecking the global environment, and intramural conflict as the equivalent of competing anthills duking it out for territory. (In that sense, the entire Middle-East conflict is typically ridiculous, rooted as it is in conflicting fairy tales about whose Invisible Friend promised what patch of scrubland to who.) I learn about more local conflicts/abuses by reading the news and/or when people like you point them out to me, but Middle East issues have never been a specific interest of mine.

    That was a really good article, though. I like the Guardian’s coverage.

    droid: this a clear cry for support. Its an unambigious line to be crossed or respected.

    Except it’s not so unambiguous according to that Guardian angle, which quoted pro-Palestinians with real misgivings about the movement. (Not that that matters especially to my own mind; people should base their decisions on more substantive reasons than everybody else is doing it). And the same article explicitly states that “Nearly all of the corporate and student-led divestments have been selective: they have not targeted Israel as a whole, but only settlements and occupation.” Which means it wouldn’t apply to my appearance in any event.

    droid: The restrictions on abortion, though reprehensible were not in any way comparable with the human rights abuses and misery the Palestinians are subjected to.

    You’re probably right, in terms of absolute numbers. On a per-capita basis, however— and using the abortion label as shorthand for the overall hand of Catholicism in your country— you might have a hard time telling any of the thousands of kids victimized by those fuckers that they didn’t suffer “comparably” to the Palestinians.

    droid: Symbolism is important. “Just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean is made up of drops”.

    Again, that is exactly my point. (Maybe I’m just not being clear.) You speak of the symbolic impact (such as it is) of my willingness to travel into the heart of darkness, and fair enough. But then you also have to accept the symbolic impact of the things I say once I get there, which you don’t seem to.

    droid: Ye-ah – Simon has never seemed all that comfortable with his decision, and his position is questionable at best.

    I can’t speak to his level of comfort, but I think his answer at the time was spot-on.

    droid: But to clarify, are you saying you would have broken the apartheid boycott.

    I prefer the term “ignore”. There’s an almost Newspeakian connotation to your use of “break”, as though we’ve all signed onto the same contract and I am somehow in violation by doing something different. You can’t break a deal you never agreed to.

    But to answer your question, it depends on the scenario. If I’d been invited to P.W. Botha’s birthday celebrations, certainly not. If I’d been invited to visit Nelson Mandela, in a flash. If I’d been invited to teach a writing workshop to underprivileged kids, also yes, assuming the chances of me getting beaten to death en route were low.

    If I was invited to a genre event by someone I’ve been corresponding with for years— an aspiring marine-biologist/filmmaker who I advised on career choices, and argued over consciousness issues, someone who’s been trying to get me over there for a visit since 2016 despite knowing exactly where I stand on apartheid— then yes. I would go then, too.

    And that’s probably the major difference right there. I’ve got nothing against boycotts in principle or BDS in particular (and since Israel has apparently passed a law that lets them ban people who say things like that, you can now totally fuck up my plans if you want). But I wouldn’t see my refusal as a blow against an admittedly pernicious regime; I’d just see it as turning my back on a guy who seems smart and decent and possessed of the same scientific interests as me. Someone who’s been working to get me over there since 2016, though he knows my position on the Palestinian oppression. Someone I think I’d regard as a friend once we met and hung out for a while.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m not saying I’m right. Maybe I’m not; maybe I’ll come back home shaking with disillusion and betrayal, and feeling like I’ve been played as a patsy, and swearing to never make that mistake again. But I take that risk every time I travel to a land with a shitty human-rights record (and I include Canada in that list; do you have any idea how we treat our First-Nations people?).

    At the very least, though, I can say I’m being consistent across platforms. I don’t think you can.

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  38. Rich Romano:
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/hemimastigotes-supra-kingdom-1.4715823

    I saw this! We’ve discovered a whole new suprakingdom before we wiped it out!

    listedproxyname: the people you were hanging out with were most certainly hanging out with certain other people who bear full responsibility.

    For outside observer that may seem to be “invasion” – if you plug your ears and shut your eyes really hard like most of UN does every time … The opposite side uses term “civil war”

    Yeah, let’s go with that. The dude who makes his living making t-shirt art, the free-lance translator, the student subsisting on minimal scholarships, missing her family in Crimea— collaborators and war criminals, all of ’em

    As for “invasion”, maybe you can make the argument that Ukraine nationals ran across the border, grabbed a bunch of Russian soldiers, dragged them fully armed back into Crimea and won’t let them leave. But unless you can provide evidence to that effect, dude, you’re really just coming across like that eastern-European boss who met his end at the hands of Pickle Rick. Only with less gravitas.

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  39. Peter Watts: No, that’s exactly my point. I was talking practicalities, not symbolism— and practically, BDS is targeting not Israel but Israel/US. The US will continue to support Israel regardless of any boycott; shit, the very article you pointed me to suggests that the boycott has in fact ramped-up support for Israel. I mean, making survivors of Hurricane Harvey certify that they won’t participate in BDS before they qualify for disaster relief? Shutting down boycott-related discussion on campuses? Moving the fucking embassy to Jerusalem?

    The fact that we both abhor these things is beside the point. The point is— practically— that the US will not let Israel fail, for fucked-up religious and political reasons of their own. So like it or not, BDS is tantamount to taking on the ‘Murricans. Which is too big to cave to a boycott. Which puts the issue back into China/Russia territory.

    This is a misreading of both the aims and targets of BDS. It is precisely the intransigence of US policy which necessitates a wider campaign. Israel is not solely a dependent on the US. It relies heavily on trade and political support from the European union and others. If Israel is delegitimised and isolated from trading partners it’s policies will have to change in order for it’s economy to survive.

    It’s a gap in my focus, for sure. (Didn’t know about the Sami either, until someone pointed me in the right direction). My default perspective is biological and species-level: I regard humankind in general as an out-of-control pest species wrecking the global environment, and intramural conflict as the equivalent of competing anthills duking it out for territory. (In that sense, the entire Middle-East conflict is typically ridiculous, rooted as it is in conflicting fairy tales about whose Invisible Friend promisedwhat patch ofscrubland to who.)I learn about more local conflicts/abuses by reading the news and/or when people like you point them out to me, but Middle East issues have never been a specific interest of mine.

    Sure, but since the conflict over middle east and its energy resources has been perhaps one of the primary factors in the wrecking of the global environment, I would suggest that it’s worthy of attention.

    That was a really good article, though. I like the Guardian’s coverage.

    Yeah, and despite the fact that I don’t agree with everything there I deliberately picked something that gives a rounded view of the issue.

    Except it’s not so unambiguous according to that Guardian angle, which quoted pro-Palestinians with real misgivings about the movement. (Not that that matters especially to my own mind; people should base their decisions on more substantive reasons than everybody else is doing it). And the same article explicitly states that “Nearly all of the corporate and student-led divestments have been selective: they have not targeted Israel as a whole, but only settlements and occupation.”Which means it wouldn’t apply to my appearance in any event.

    You conflating the boycott and divestment parts elements there. Historically, divestment has focussed on the occupied territories. The economic and cultural boycott is generally targeted at Israel as a whole.

    You’re probably right, in terms of absolute numbers. On a per-capita basis, however— and using the abortion label as shorthand for the overall hand of Catholicism in your country— you might have a hard time telling any of the thousands of kids victimized by those fuckers that they didn’t suffer “comparably” to the Palestinians.

    With all due respect Peter, Ive forgotten more about the abuses of the Catholic church in my country than you will ever know, and I can say without equivocation that appalling as it was there is virtually nothing in the history that compares to the suffering of the Palestinians. There was no Nakba, no Sabra and Shatila, no ‘mowing of the grass’. It is an entirely different situation. If you want an Irish comparison you can look to Northern Ireland.

    Again, that is exactly my point. (Maybe I’m just not being clear.)You speak of the symbolic impact (such as it is) of my willingness to travel into the heart of darkness, and fair enough. But then you also have to accept the symbolic impact of the things I say once I get there, which you don’t seem to.

    You seem to be arguing for the inconsequentiality of your presence, yet also arguing that the consequentiality of your speech.

    Here’s a suggestion. Ask your host if he can arrange passage for you into the West Bank. See what happens. Speak out in favour of BDS, see what happens.

    I prefer the term “ignore”. There’s an almost Newspeakian connotation to your use of “break”, as though we’ve all signed onto the same contract and I am somehow in violation by doing something different. You can’t break a deal you never agreed to.

    You cross a picket line, you break the boycott, you violate a sanction. These are common adjectives.

    But to answer your question, it depends on the scenario. If I’d been invited to P.W. Botha’s birthday celebrations, certainly not.If I’d been invited to visit Nelson Mandela, in a flash. If I’d been invited to teach a writing workshop to underprivileged kids, also yes, assuming the chances of me getting beaten to death en route were low.

    If I was invited to a genre event by someone I’ve been corresponding with for years— an aspiring marine-biologist/filmmaker who I advised on career choices, and argued over consciousness issues, someone who’s been trying to get me over there for a visit since 2016 despite knowing exactly where I stand on apartheid— then yes. I would go then, too.

    Under the latter two scenarios, you would not be breaking the boycott, which applied to cultural events and normalisation of same. It did not apply to charities, activists, private visits etc.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m not saying I’m right. Maybe I’m not; maybe I’ll come back home shaking with disillusion and betrayal, and feeling like I’ve been played as a patsy, and swearing to never make that mistake again.But I take that risk every time I travel to a land with a shitty human-rights record (and I include Canada in that list; do you have any idea how we treat our First-Nations people?).

    At the very least, though, I can say I’m being consistent across platforms. I don’t think you can.

    Well, Im glad at least that we were able to have a constructive conversation, and thank you for your consideration of my points.

    As regarding personal conviction or consistency? Apart from the issues Ive raised above regarding the efficacy of boycotts, I decided in 2003 that I would not travel to the US and have refused to go to work conferences on several occasions since. I wouldn’t dream of going to Saudi Arabia or other repressive states and in general I wouldn’t take a long haul flight anywhere for environmental reasons. Flying to China, or even Russia seems outrageously irresponsible on those grounds alone.

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  40. The K:

    So it is okay to associate oneself with murderous dictatorships like Russia and China, because boycotting them “would not change anything” and because they dont even pretend to be anything other than they are, but visiting Israel is clearly beyond the pale.

    Wow. Hipocrisy Levels at 105% and rising, i guess.

    Ah! Tu quoque, my favourite logical fallacy.

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  41. You can find Palestinians in the Jaffa neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

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

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  42. Wow, somehow a random Canadian author has been made responsible for the behavior of peoples and governments across half the world, and I almost missed it. Way to step up Canada! Here I had mistaken him for being just an author, in fact a Science Fiction author.

    If he were just an SF author it would be his responsibility, his duty almost, to go places where I cannot go, and to meet people I will never meet, and get from them whatever they know, whatever they are, whatever they say, and return to his word processor to boil down all these things down to the best of his ability and offer them up to we the fickle public. Why he might almost have to speak to people and go to places that I disagree with, if you can imagine it!

    Well, now that the masquerade is over, Mr. Watts, there are some really annoying potholes on the road just past my house, and I disagree with several of the things my president said today, and also, I strongly disagree with the spelling of the English word “knight”. Please get to work on these things right away, OK?

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  43. Ken McE: Wow, somehow a random Canadian author has been made responsible for the behavior of peoples and governments across half the world, and I almost missed it. Way to step up Canada! Here I had mistaken him for being just an author, in fact a Science Fiction author.

    Hush, you. Watts is farther out on a limb than usual, and most of the arguments to this point have been cogent and cordial. I personally find it riveting and informative. This is what high level discourse looks like. Let’s not try to shut down such a rare thing in 2018 with reductive sarcasm in a misplaced attempt to defend our capably articulate host. He’s much better at it than you are.

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  44. Let’s compromise. We’ll allow Peter to go to the bad place as long as he promises not to enjoy the experience in any way.

    Nice pictures, you always get the best fan art.

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  45. Not sure if this got lost in the moderation queue of if Peter’s just sick of me but…

    Ken McE:
    Wow, somehow a random Canadian author has been made responsible for the behavior of peoples and governments across half the world, and I almost missed it.Way to step up Canada!Here I had mistaken him for being just an author, in fact a Science Fiction author.

    Here’s one of these lowly Sci Fi authors showing awareness and support of BDS…

    Iain M Banks: The BDS campaign for justice for the Palestinian people is one I would hope any decent, open-minded person would support. Gentile or Jew, conservative or leftist, no matter who you are or how you see yourself, these people are our people, and collectively we have turned our backs on their suffering for far too long.

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/apr/05/iain-banks-cultural-boycott-israel

    And to clarify, as there seems to have been some (perhaps willful) misinterpretation here. Im not suggesting that you shouldn’t visit Israel or associate with Israelis. Im all in favour of conversation, debate etc.

    Im suggesting that authors, artists, musicians, academics etc should boycott cultural and academic events in solidarity with Palestinian civil society who have made this request as part of the non-violent BDS campaign.

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  46. Alex, very glad to hear that! 😉 The more physicists in the world, the better, I always say.

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  47. droid: It is precisely the intransigence of US policy which necessitates a wider campaign. Israel is not solely a dependent on the US. It relies heavily on trade and political support from the European union and others.

    OK, but if overall trade has in fact increased since the implementation of the boycott, the “wider campaign” would either seem to not be kicking in, or is being more than counterbalanced by increased trade with the US.

    Assuming the increased-trade claim is true, of course.

    droid: You conflating the boycott and divestment parts elements there.

    OK. Not clear from the article, and I’m obviously no expert.

    droid: With all due respect Peter, Ive forgotten more about the abuses of the Catholic church in my country than you will ever know…. If you want an Irish comparison you can look to Northern Ireland.

    OK. Wikipedia dedicates the bulk of its Irish Catholic Sexual Abuse coverage to Ireland (relatively little on Northern Ireland), so I jumped to conclusions.

    droid: You seem to be arguing for the inconsequentiality of your presence, yet also arguing that the consequentiality of your speech.

    No no no. I’m convinced that both are inconsequential— but regardless, I’m saying that if you’re gonna factor in one facet, you should factor in both. You were just pointing to the one and ignoring the other.

    droid: Here’s a suggestion. Ask your host if he can arrange passage for you into the West Bank. See what happens. Speak out in favour of BDS, see what happens.

    OK. Although I can tell you right now, based on ongoing correspondence, that at least my main contact for this thing is profoundly opposed the Netanyahu’s regime in general and the Palestinian occupation in particular. But I will certainly pursue the issue further.

    And honestly, it’s not the kind of thing you have to challenge me to do. I talked to the locals about the Crimean invasion when I was in Lviv, I talked to the locals about state surveillance and press repression when in Beijing. Of course I’m going to explore this stuff.

    droid: in general I wouldn’t take a long haul flight anywhere for environmental reasons.

    And you’re a better person than I on that score. I like to dine out on the personal measures I have taken to minimize my footprint— not having kids buys me a Godzilla’s worth of wiggle room, as well as littler things like not owning a car— but long distance air travel is a huge honking impact and I don’t deny it.

    strangefriend: You can find Palestinians in the Jaffa neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

    Thanks. Our local guide seems quite open to taking us off the beaten track.

    Nestor: Nice pictures, you always get the best fan art.

    I do.

    I kinda wish more people had remarked on that.

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  48. Peter Watts
    OK. Wikipedia dedicates the bulk of its Irish Catholic Sexual Abuse coverage to Ireland (relatively little on Northern Ireland), so I jumped to conclusions.

    Apologies if I wasnt clear. I meant that the only thing to happen on this island in the last 60 years thats even vaguely comparable to Israel/Palestine are the troubles. Even then (and its not the only metric of course) about 3500 people were killed over about 30 years. In this summer’s Gazan protests alone 168 people Palestinians were killed and over 15,000 were injured by sniper fire and bombardment. In the last major attack on Gaza around 1500 civilians were killed including 500 children. In that sense, even Northern Ireland, with all of its sectarian carnage, state murder and bloodshed and its terrible legacy of bitterness and hatred is only a drop in the ocean of Palestine suffering since 1948.

    Oh and they ARE nice pictures.

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  49. Peter Watts:
    OK. Although I can tell you right now, based on ongoing correspondence,that at least my main contact for this thing is profoundly opposed the Netanyahu’s regime in general and the Palestinian occupation in particular.But I will certainly pursue the issue further.

    One thing worth mentioning is that, unless your contact is Haredim then he has almost certainly served in the IDF. One thing that is often overlooked is that despite the terrible crimes committed by Israeli soldiers they are also victims of the occupation and their time in the military leaves many of them deeply traumatised.

    https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xkbwbk

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  50. droid: unless your contact is Haredim then he has almost certainly served in the IDF.

    Yes he has.

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  51. droid:
    Israel eh? Deeply disappointing.

    I’ve skimmed through your comments on this thread, and I must say… the level of ignorance, hypocrisy and asinine masturbatory self-righteousness is absolutely dumbfounding on your part. Let me just say that you know nothing about anything when it comes to Israel, its security challenges, the rationale behind its actions and so on and so forth. You just don’t. Whatever illusion you might have of understanding local complexities you got from watching the brainwashing machines like BBC is precisely that, an illusion.

    I’m just going to leave it here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iZjuiKZ2ho

    Oh, and BTW, I’m a proud Israeli and ex-IDF serviceman. Peter, you are more than welcome to Israel. I’m a huge fan of yours and will be absolutely delighted to see you in Israel. If you let me buy you a beer when you are here, I would be absolutely happy to.

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  52. Nestor,

    There are two ways of making people change their mind: you pay them or you force them. Rational arguments are just excuses for giving in to either.
    Mr. Watts wants to go to Israel, because he expects to be paid by the pimp in his head with lots of happy hormone crack. Others don’t want him to, because they get paid for that. The rest is just roaring, drumming with fists on chests and shaking the biggest club they can find. Global politics, death and pain make as much sense here as “I want to go to Israel, coz the color of my shoelaces matches the color of their airport floor”, but they’re big, powerful and menacing. Of course, it’s a fight within the same horde, so not killing each other, sticking to the rules and showing off with honor and mutual respect are obligatory weapons: If you can’t maintain order, you’re not worthy of alpha status, and have to fight without popular support.
    You try to appease them by splitting the banana. I’m just the crazy monkee trying to whore some attention by pulling faces and weird somersaults. Just as pointless as anything else here, but I fell off the bike two weeks ago, still can’t use my arm properly, so I’m killing time till I can return to my more practical hobbies.

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  53. Hi Peter – as an Israeli I’d like to welcome you to our little corner of hell.
    I don’t have a lot to say about BDS. it is, of course, in my interest that you do visit, but I’ll understand if you don’t.
    There are ways to take part in tours of the west bank and various areas of contention, but it’s better not to advertize such intentions on social media. Israel’s border control is notoriously good at following activists online and preventing “unwanted” visitors from entering.

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  54. paul z: Mr. Watts wants to go to Israel, because he expects to be paid by the pimp in his head with lots of happy hormone crack. Others don’t want him to, because they get paid for that. The rest is just roaring, drumming with fists on chests and shaking the biggest club they can find.
    […] Just as pointless as anything else here, but I fell off the bike two weeks ago, still can’t use my arm properly, so I’m killing time till I can return to my more practical hobbies.

    Mmm. Don’t forget those of us who get paid by hearing sober, informed arguments on issues we have *not yet made up our minds about* , or the many people in 2018 desperate for any general insight into how to expend our finite capacity for principled stands in the face of skyrocketing demand. Might also consider those who are simply interested in the author’s reasoning to inform how they view certain types of arguments from this source in the past and future.

    So I’m extraordinarily jealous you’ve got everything figured out for yourself. It must be a very comfortable brain to live in. Personally though, I’m fucking flailing these days, and my brain is full of wasps. So I value this information. If nothing else, people having informative, cordial discussions on subjects I’m concerned with makes the buzzing recede a bit.

    So as a courtesy, if anyone doesn’t have any particular dog in this race, or any point to make other than to deride the conversation because [insert reductive nonsense here], maybe consider just sitting this one out. And yes, I’m aware that the preceding request was by far the craziest thing anyone has said thus far in the thread.

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  55. I was talking practicalities, not symbolism— and practically, BDS is targeting not Israel but Israel/US. The US will continue to support Israel regardless of any boycott.

    I think the main target of the boycott is Israel/US, and trying to break that connection. It isn’t necessarily true that US will always continue to support Israel, or any rate, there are people who think that US domestic politics can change to reduce support for Israel current policies. We’ll see if that’s true, but the goal of BDS is more about symbolic political gestures and eventual votes than actual economic pressure.

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  56. Vova: I’ve skimmed through your comments on this thread, and I must say… the level of ignorance, hypocrisy and asinine masturbatory self-righteousness is absolutely dumbfounding on your part. Let me just say that you know nothing about anything when it comes to Israel, its security challenges, the rationale behind its actions and so on and so forth. You just don’t. Whatever illusion you might have of understanding local complexities you got from watching the brainwashing machines like BBC is precisely that, an illusion.

    The fact that you think the BBC – an organisation that pulled a humanitarian appeal on the basis of Israeli lobbying, removed a well respected middle east reporter from her post based on some mild criticisms of Israel, and whose viewers think Palestinians are occupying Israel at a ratio of about 60% – is somehow an anti-Israel brainwashing machine speaks volumes on your cognitive abilities.

    Im well aware of the rationale behind Israel’s actions. Its not unlike the rationale behind every occupier in history. Dominate, destroy, disenfranchise… or as Moshe Dayan put it so eloquently: “We don’t have a solution, and you will continue living like dogs, and whoever wants will go, and will see how this procedure will work out…”

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  57. Well that video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iZjuiKZ2ho) makes clear to me why some people advocate BDS so strongly and with such focus. It reminds me of conversations I had with some people when Obama was in power. Their dislike, even hatred, went well beyond the political.

    There seem to me two threads running through this. One probably leads back to the British occupation of Ireland and is political. The other seems to be an anti-Semitism comparable to the racism I detected underlying some of the antipathy to Obama. Both threads have the troubling facet of ignoring individuals in order to service political and other ends, which I also feel when I am told by way of an incredibly narrow and reductive argument where I must stand on Apartheid, or read that picket lines are broken not ignored.

    Regarding the latter, the term I’ve generally heard used in the more neutral “crossed”. Whether one uses “broken”, “crossed”, or “ignored” seems to me to depend on whether one is in the union on strike, management, or someone who doesn’t give a shit either way. There are also those who are not in a union or management who are trying to pay rent while putting food on the table while being subject to taxes which pay the salaries of unionized government workers and management, and not really able to make ends meet. If they choose to become scabs, are they breaking a picket line, or choosing not to rob a drug store to feed themselves and their family?

    This willingness to ignore individual positions to serve political, racial, ideological, or what-have-you, ends is something I find problematic, and having thought about it a bit, I’m ready to discount arguments made in support of BDS in the same way I ended up having to discount the arguments some people were making against Barack Obama’s policies, not because some aspects of those arguments didn’t potentially have some merit, but because those arguments weren’t really about the policies at all.

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  58. Vova: I’ve skimmed through your comments on this thread… Let me just say that you know nothing about anything when it comes to Israel, its security challenges, the rationale behind its actions and so on and so forth.

    In droid’s defense, s/he seems to know a lot more about those issues—or at least, has actively research them— way more than I have. (And if you’ve skimmed my comments, you’ll know I’m not exactly a fan of Netanyahu based on what I have read). This seems to me an argument worth having, and it’s nice to have it with someone who actually debates instead of adopting the common 21rst-century technique of getting up in your face and screaming at you.

    Sure, there’s a definite whiff of judgment in droid’s remarks, but anyone who hangs around the ‘crawl for any length of time knows that I’m not above the occasional self-righteous screed myself.

    bookworm1398: the goal of BDS is more about symbolic political gestures and eventual votes than actual economic pressure.

    Huh. That pretty much directly contradicts droid’s claim that BDS could be aimed at Israel (and not at China or Russia) precisely because Israel is small enough to feel the economic pressure of a boycott.

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  59. Vova: I’ve skimmed through your comments on this thread, and I must say… the level of ignorance, hypocrisy and asinine masturbatory self-righteousness is absolutely dumbfounding on your part. Let me just say that you know nothing about anything when it comes to Israel, its security challenges, the rationale behind its actions and so on and so forth. You just don’t. Whatever illusion you might have of understanding local complexities you got from watching the brainwashing machines like BBC is precisely that, an illusion.

    I was wondering how long it would take for something like this to pop up.

    The fact that you think the BBC is some kind of anti-Israel brainwashing machine is indicative of your ability to understand the world. This is the organisation that refused to broadcast a humanitarian appeal due to Israeli lobbying, that fired an accomplished mid-east correspondent because of mild criticism of Israel and one that leaves the majority of it’s viewers assuming that Palestine is occupying Israel.

    Im well aware of the rationale behind Israel’s actions and its not radically different from any other occupier in history. Destroy, dominate, coerce, erase, or as Moshe Dayan so eloquently put it: “We don’t have a solution, and you will continue living like dogs, and whoever wants will go, and will see how this procedure will work out…”

    VovaI’m just going to leave it here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iZjuiKZ2ho

    Fantastic. A bunch of Irish people being far to polite to tell a cretin to f*** off and simply saying whatever they have to to get rid of him.

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  60. This is 100% off-topic, but I’ve long wanted to make comment here simply stating my tremendous respect for your writing Mr. Watts — Blindsight was literally life changing and massively inspirational to me as a lifelong writer of science fiction and fantasy. Beyond that, the themes and messages you weave into your work — what some I now learn seem to view as “angry” — are vastly important to me, and deserve all of the attention possible.

    I don’t have a “favorite” author (because I have too many), but in terms of modern, active writers, I can say with full-confidence that yourself and R. Scott Bakker stand firmly at the top of that vague list, as much for the fiction you both write as the for the non-fictional commentary on the very genuine existential calamities looming in our future (and, really, already occurring). I hope to that my own work can be another vessel for the sort of dangers our planet is collectively and mostly ignorantly hurtling toward at breakneck speed.

    And here I must be a bit presumptuous I’m afraid, but I wondered if I might be able to ask for some creative advice on a science fiction idea, since you more than any other author — or just a generally smart person — that I know of seem like that might be mildly intrigued and certainly well-equipped enough to humor the idea.

    So aside from my lifelong epic science-fantasy series, I have spent the last four years or so doing independent game development. I love video games but the fact is that the genre is in DIRE need of growth and maturity on just about every level, but particularly in storytelling.

    Thus, I’ve been pouring what effort I can into creating a game that incorporates many SF concepts, while also taking one of my favorite genres and attempting to give it a “hard-sci-fi” treatment — that of kaiju, or implausibly immense creatures fighting each other to the death.

    I consider myself fairly clever when it comes to making the implausible (maybe impossible) into some plausible, to the extent that it’s a bit of hobby in itself for me at this point. However, few things have challenged me like trying to make KAIJU plausible — particularly within the parameters of my game’s story, wherein the monsters have to be from Earth (taking some inspiration from your novel Starfish, I’ve posited that the Kaiju are a form of life — or something that is at least “life-like” — which came into existence at some point before the Cabrian explosion, so like Behemoth, the Kaiju in my game are from a completely distinct tree of life, having formed separately from our own biological family).

    Now I could go on at GREAT LENGTH making a wall-o-text here with all my ideas for their possible biology and evolution of these beasties, but I’ve written quite a bit already here and really am just sort of probing for your possible interest, if any, in taking a shot at giving Kaiju an scientific explanation that at least sounds like hard sci-fi — the standard for this genre is incredibly low, but I can’t help shooting for the stars with my creative projects 🙂

    In any case, I reiterate my infinite gratitude for having been able to learn and be inspired by your fiction, and hope you are doing well in life, love, and art.

    -Francis Buck

    (Oh, and if you happen to interested in a position as “co-writer/scientific consultant” in a hard-as-nails science fiction indie game — or if you’d like to take a gander at the material I’ve already put together for the story and the kaiju-biology, — feel free to e-mail me at any time to fmb137@gmail.com) 😉

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  61. -DA-,

    Yes, it was. And believe me, I’d swap my mind for yours any time.
    I can’t take without giving. I’m trying to add a different point of view to the debate. Yours is as valid as mine of course, and I’m interested in the facts and other points of view as well. But there are different levels in any discussion, different aspects.
    Your irritation proves my point: It’s not fun to divert from your usual track of mind, try something else. But this is a science fiction author’s blog, for hell’s sake, he gets paid for considering different points of view.
    What I see here is a serious discussion by intelligent and well-informed people, little doggies performing the trick Pavlov has taught them: ruminate information they mostly get from magical rectangles with pictures and letters on them, in a certain way and with no questions asked. It’s fun, that’s why millions of little doggies in the world do it all the time. It pays off to obey the master, he might make you his top bitch and the pack will look up to you, you get rewarded with real status and real power. That’s what „serious“ means.
    This is data incest, specialization, domestication by selection: The better you get at serving the powers that be, the more it hurts to do anything else. Well, if that’s your choice, it’s not a bad one. But when you’re done licking Pavlov’s balls, you might pay some attention to the jester’s wrecking ball.
    Consider this a footnote. Now back to the doggies show.

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  62. Apologies for the double posts. There’s a weird delay here for me.

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  63. paul z: And believe me, I’d swap my mind for yours any time.

    Yeah, but only because you’re prone to making wild assertions based on poor information. I assure you, it wouldn’t be an upgrade for anyone who frequents the ‘Crawl. Even for you.

    paul z: But this is a science fiction author’s blog, for hell’s sake, he gets paid for considering different points of view.

    I would have been happy to consider any point of view on the actual topic at hand. My objection is specifically to those comments attempting to de-legitimize or shut down the conversation.

    I’m also not certain why you think that the points you’re getting at are in anyway way novel or unfamiliar to this particular author or anyone who follows him, no matter how floridly you express them. He seems willing to have the conversation anyway, and I’m interested in hearing it.

    Since further engagement with you on this off-topic would run contrary to my stated goals, you’ll have to forgive me for declining to address you further. Apologies if it has already proved distracting for anyone else.

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  64. Phil:
    Well that video (There seem to me two threads running through this. One probably leads back to the British occupation of Ireland and is political. The other seems to be an anti-Semitism comparable to the racism I detected underlying some of the antipathy to Obama.

    Yes, Ireland has seen firsthand the effects of colonialism and occupation. The scars are fresh even now, so clearly there is natural support for the occupied. Our history is replete with the kind of brutality that has been meted out to Palestinians so there is a natural sympathy and we generally recognise the situation for what it is.

    Phil:
    Well that video (The other seems to be an anti-Semitism comparable to the racism I detected underlying some of the antipathy to Obama.

    ‘It seems’? You should be very careful about throwing accusations of anti-semitism around, especially on such flimsy grounds. Uniquely in Europe, Ireland has almost no history of anti-semitism. In fact we were the first country in the world to recognise Judaism in its constitution. Prejudice exists everywhere, of course, but that’s a wild and unsupported slur.

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  65. listedproxyname: Criminal aggression is aggression, of course, but there’s also a criminal transgression – of the laws that you did not know and agreements you were not told about.

    Ah yes, the secret truth that Western/liberal/UN/Masonic-controlled media try to suppress. But which are somehow never formulated into a rational, coherent argument that can be fact-checked. How could I forget about those?

    Vova: I’ve skimmed through your comments on this thread, and I must say… the level of ignorance, hypocrisy and asinine masturbatory self-righteousness is absolutely dumbfounding on your part.

    And here’s another one! It’s like comments section Bingo!

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  66. droid:
    Apologies for the double posts. There’s a weird delay here for me.

    I’ve found the same thing. Some posts have a five minute edit countdown and some immediately vanish. I figure the universe is trying to tell me something and go off to do something else, but the post always appears a few hours later, warts and all. I still haven’t figured out what accounts for the difference.

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  67. Peter Watts: I like to dine out on the personal measures I have taken to minimize my footprint— not having kids buys me a Godzilla’s worth of wiggle room, as well as littler things like not owning a car— but long distance air travel is a huge honking impact and I don’t deny it.

    That’s one I struggle with too. I get to say I have to do it (mostly) for work, but the guilt is still there.

    Ken McE: Wow, somehow a random Canadian author has been made responsible for the behavior of peoples and governments across half the world, and I almost missed it. Way to step up Canada! Here I had mistaken him for being just an author, in fact a Science Fiction author.

    It is odd how “OGH in Israel” turned into “OGH supports the Israeli government”.

    That is some of the best fan art I’ve seen posted here.

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  68. -DA-,

    Oh, don’t run away. I’ll be as gentle as I can, I promise. Sorry for my poor social skills. I’m still much more kind to others than to myself.
    Does the sentence “I’m trying to add a different point of view to the debate” strike you as trying to end the debate? I want more debate, not less. I also told you, every point of view is legitimate, there’s nothing wrong with the way it’s happening. It would only be wrong if it was the only way it’s happening. The software here is not prepared for a multi-threaded discussion, so you need to scroll a lot and piece the chunks of each thread together, but is it really so much work?
    Are my comments off-topic? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. The zeroth law of thermodynamics. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people just to do their jobs, you can’t run an Evil Empire without firemen, bakers and nurses. And intellectual elites who divert all the energy freed by injustice into leading the same discussion over and over. Do you think oiling the humans shredder is ethical?
    You might also consider the idea that my comments don’t seem new to you because you only perceive the part of them you already know. It’s not meant as a personal attack, but my attempts to combine politeness with directness usually fail.

    Peter Watts,

    I already told you, if you tell me to shove off, I will. You might have already done it, I’m not sure. But you screamed some weird stuff about me and Darwin while slamming your straw shack door shut, which I consider unfinished business, so I keep knocking. My arm is getting better, so I’m gone soon anyway. I’m tired. Never think outside of the box, no matter what you find out there, you won’t be left back in. It’s just not worth it.
    Now that you know that, all the answers you’re looking for are outside. Can you resist the temptation?

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  69. I was about to rip ya a new one (virtually)

    But then I saw you comment:

    Peter Watts,

    “I actually had not realized this. Didn’t even know what “BDS” meant until you sent me looking it up. I agree it’s a relevant factor I hadn’t considered when making my decision; I don’t think it distinguishes the Palestinian crisis from others as profoundly as you seem to, though. Surely we should stand up for the oppressed even when they don’t have a voice. ”

    And I’m glad I checked my impulse.

    Omar Barghouti is one of the founders of the BDS campaign, is quite articulate and explains clearly his reasons for the campaign and why Isreal and why right now.

    I’ve had friends visit Tel Aviv who had a wonderful time there and I hope you do too.

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  70. Peter I hope you don’t fall for the lies of BDS proponents.

    It is a propaganda campaign of misinformation and lies disguised as a human rights movement.

    They use rhetorics to demonize and delegitimize Israel without regard to facts or context.
    You see examples of these rhetorics in some comments above, such as: “prisoners on their own land, starved and shot at for sport”, “concentration camps and wholesale slaughter of civilians”, “there is virtually nothing in the history that compares to the suffering of the Palestinians”, and so on.

    Arguing with them is like arguing with Creationists. And they are known to bully and intimidate those who are not convinced by their agenda so be prepared for some persuasion.

    Israel is not the greatest evil on earth, Palestinians are not the greatest saints on earth.
    This conflict did not start in 1967 or in 1948. If one at all seeks to form an informed opinion about this on going conflict then BDS propaganda is the least reliable source on the subject.

    Welcome to Israel.

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  71. Gotta be honest, I have met a lot of Israelis and a lot of Palestinians. The Israelis were always nicer, so when it comes to those two I prefer Israel, despite not agreeing with some of the shit they do

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  72. The US repeatedly vetoed UNSC resolutions to put Apartheid South Africa under sanctions until there was widespread support amongst the US voting population. This was spearheaded by the cultural boycott by American artists. Remember this?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aopKk56jM-I

    Anyways the die has been cast this time around, I hope you have an awesome time this trip and also hope you reconsider next year.

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  73. So… on a slightly lighter note…
    Peter, when you get to Tel Aviv, other than your panel appearances, do you plan something like a meet-and-greet with fans? Or a pub night?
    I’m a long time fan [1] and would love to have the opportunity of meeting one of my all-time favorite authors in person.

    [1] humblebrag warning: I was involved with the israeli translation of Blindsight as a sort of science advisor to the translator, who is a very good friend

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  74. > Uniquely in Europe, Ireland has almost no history of anti-semitism.

    Well, to be fair on us, we were *very* busy with hating the protestants. And the presbyterians. And the anglicans. And the brits. And the travellers. And the spanish students. And black people (remember our birthright citizenship referendum, started because our hospitals were about to be overrun by Nigerian women having anchor babies? https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/baby-scam-uncovered-as-refugees-use-legal-loophole-26069381.html) And the Chinese. And the Filipino nurses. And Pakistanis and Indians unless they have bows and arrows, and Muslim Extremists (the blow-ins!) and the eastern europeans who’re all flying here from Lithuaniastan to take our jobs, all one of them, and of course the Poles.

    I mean, with all of that to do, we were only able to do the bare minimum of hating Jews. Sure, we were able to refuse them entry to Ireland when they were fleeing the holocaust and we did keep that up after the photos of the camps in Poland were shown to everyone in the world in ’45, but we never really put our backs into it, it’s all a history of small, individual things, never anything really systemic, just ask Alan Shatter. I mean, okay, there was our Minister for Defence during WW2 who was elected on a platform of clearing the Jews out of Ireland, and there was the Limerick Pogrom against Jews, and the no-Jew policy in our sports clubs, but we didn’t *really* get into it.

    Ireland. We’re a lovely little country really, if you don’t look too close and don’t ask questions and forget everything when you go to sleep at night.

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  75. Greggles: The US repeatedly vetoed UNSC resolutions to put Apartheid South Africa under sanctions until there was widespread support amongst the US voting population.

    Yeah, like, apparently, mr. Watts missed this little detail when praising certain country’s government. Though I shall repeat again I do not blame him for visiting anyone in particular, it is his awareness that is important – at least he will be able to make right choices in time.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-un-nazi-glorification-resolution-vote-against-free-speech-far-right-white-supremacist-neo-alt-a8066761.html

    “America was one of three nations to vote against the yearly resolution, called: “Combating glorification of Nazism, Neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”.”

    “The two other countries that voted against the resolution were Ukraine and Palau, while 131 voted in favour and 48 nations abstained.”

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  76. Mark Dennehy,

    It’s hard to understand today, that racism was science and genocide a minor misdemeanor till 1946, when some racists and mass murderers decided at Nürnberg without prior warning, that things they’d been doing all over the planet for centuries are horrible crimes, if done to palefaces in Europe. This explains the shocked faces of Nazi big fish there – after all, they’d only done what everybody else was doing, only better – no one had ever told them, there was anything wrong with it!
    Evil’s a force of nature. You’ll find it in the laws of physics, in the simple, basic and primitive. Complex systems, like humans or states, are futile attempts to escape it – we’re all trying to do whatever we consider good. But all they can do is give it new disguises.

    Francis Buck,

    You’ve probably thought of it yourself, but in case you haven’t…
    For most of history, Earth has been inhabited by unicellular organisms. Their genetic diversity must have been far greater than that of any life that occurred after the Cambrian Explosion, which also shows that they might have been much superior to modern-day bacteria: Our ancestors had to develop in their niches to near-perfection for millions of years, before they were collectively strong enough to have the master race for dinner. Modern bacteria are probably just the rats and cockroaches, the most primitive forms that survived the end of their world.
    But there’s always that isolated cave, maybe deep under earth, powered by magma. There, something old might have evolved on. Small systems develop faster than large systems, if they get destabilized often enough, e.g. by chaotic input of energy (because the same amount of energy has a bigger effect on a small system than on a big one). Complex, “experienced” systems can take more kicks than simple systems, something that destroys a sand castle won’t kill a dog.
    What happens if a bacteria colony that evolved in an isolated environment suddenly gets exposed to ours? Well, in 999 999 out of a million cases, it’s quickly devoured by better adapted organisms.
    But you might invent event 1 000 000: Miners break through to a world of extremely diversified microorganisms that are used to violent environmental changes and fierce competition. Our digestive tracts and immune systems are just a joke for them. Once confronted with our DNA, they start to “experiment” with it, mutate and recombine it at random. The overwhelming majority of experiments fail, you get the planet covered by rotting corpses. But some succeed. And that’s how you get your kaiju.
    You might put them in water, giants are more effective and scary there. Maybe they dissolve into hungry pulp, once they get on land. Maybe them and the surviving humans are competing for resources after the mass extinction, their newly created chimera races try to get out of water and conquer land, humans need to catch fish to escape starvation. Maybe you spice it up with some unpredictable land mutants. Maybe you call it “Cambrian Revenge”, since it’s a similar scenario repeating itself.
    I’m thinking of a scene where Our Hero defeats a kaiju in an epic fight, taking only a tiny scratch. The blood attracts a tiny, hungry blue shark. But that’s just my sense of humor.

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  77. Francis Buck,

    You might consider a symbiosis between the kaiju and some sort of anaerobic or plant-like mutants much better at photosynthesis than normal plants (maybe they can recycle global warming heat?): As they split carbon dioxide up, there’s a rapid rise of oxygen in the atmosphere and lots of carbon as construction material for bodies – conditions which favor big, fast-evolving beings. Kaiju breathe this oxygen, and pay back the oxygen-farters some way, maybe by digesting biomass for manure.
    You might also say, it’s the destabilization of Earth biosphere by man which opened the door for the Bactocalypse (pretty much like the destabilization of Earth politics opened the door for atavisms like Hitler or Trump): Chaos also favors those who change and adapt fast and have no scruples. Maybe it could become a modern version of “War Of The Worlds”: As Wells showed colonialism from the point of view of the victims, you could show the devastation of environment from the point of view of creatures who can’t keep pace with the changes.
    But it’s your story alone, I’m just suggesting stuff. I’m quite sure, you have better ideas. Good luck!
    [OK, calling rats and cockroaches “primitive” was the wrong choice of word, but I forgive myself. I hope they forgive me comparing them indirectly to Trump.]

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  78. Phil: I’ve found the same thing. Some posts have a five minute edit countdown and some immediately vanish. I figure the universe is trying to tell me something and go off to do something else, but the post always appears a few hours later, warts and all. I still haven’t figured out what accounts for the difference.

    I don’t know if it’s The Universe or just WordPress, but it happens sometimes. First-time posters go automatically to Moderation; if I’ve approved one post, though, subsequent comments by that author are supposed to go through automatically (unless I’ve flagged them specifically for some reason, which happens only rarely). Sometimes, though, repeat approved posters go into Moderation anyway. I don’t know why— in some cases it might be because they embed a shitload of links so the system flags the comment as spam, but that doesn’t cover all instances by a long shot— and anyone held back has to wait until I approve them manually. And since I sometimes don’t come back here for a few days at a time, y’all just get backlogged.

    It’s an ongoing problem, but a really low-priority one, so I’ve never got around to tracking down the root.

    paul z: But you screamed some weird stuff about me and Darwin while slamming your straw shack door shut

    No. I spent considerable time trying to parse the things you were trying to say, gave you credit for the things that made sense, shook my head at the things that didn’t, then pointed out that on those occasions where you held forth on something I knew about, the claims you made were often wrong. I concluded that since you seemed to be making so many wild assertions in areas in which I had some familiarity, I couldn’t trust your assertions when you ventured into areas in which I was ignorant, and that further discussion wasn’t a productive option under those circumstances. I no more screamed then than I am screaming now (another instance of you making an inaccurate assertion in a field in which I have some expertise).

    paul z: Can you resist the temptation?

    Easily.

    Greggles: Omar Barghouti is one of the founders of the BDS campaign, is quite articulate and explains clearly his reasons for the campaign and why Isreal and why right now.

    Will check him out. Thanks.

    un-droid: Welcome to Israel.

    Hey, I’m not there yet. I may never get there, depending on how intrusive they want to be with my laptop.

    Michael Grosberg: Peter, when you get to Tel Aviv, other than your panel appearances, do you plan something like a meet-and-greet with fans? Or a pub night?

    I’m not sure. I’m certainly open to the possibility, and the organizers have suggested something along those lines. One of the things they suggested, though, was a reading involving my Israeli publishers, which I think probably overestimates my popularity by quite a bit (one novel and one story published in Hebrew, both years ago— it’d probably be charitable to even call me “obscure”). So I expressed reservations about that. Still, pub nights always sound fun.

    Michael Grosberg: I was involved with the israeli translation of Blindsight as a sort of science advisor to the translator, who is a very good friend

    Awesome. Think you could get them interested in Freeze-Frame Revolution?

    listedproxyname: Watts missed this little detail when praising certain country’s government.

    I might have missed something here. I’ve praised any country’s government? Anywhere?

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  79. Oh. I meant „screamed“ in a humorous way. But OK, time to say goodbye.
    You’re still one of my favorite writers, not only because your level of optimism is almost low enough to be realistic. I stuck to you, because your answers were still among the most intelligent I got. I take it, you didn’t read my text about how basic principles of Darwinism apply already on the level of physics, but you might.
    The text about consciousness you gave me contained the type of research I concluded at school, to resist my teachers’ attempts to assassinate me with boredom: I just looked into my own head and excluded anything I didn’t see my consciousness doing. Nice to see, sound science confirms my musings, but conclusions along the lines of “the dishwasher is superfluous, because it doesn’t cook, as some people used to believe before” are ridiculous.
    As for wild assertions, heavens, you can check anything I claimed in any physics book. Seriously, what’s more likely: “Photons don’t have mass, and I need to redefine mass to make this true, and take this redefiniton one step back, inventing ‘relativistic mass’, and live happily ever after, without giving a further thought to it”, or “after falling below a threshold of size, the behavior of mass changes”? Science has wonderful modules in it, as anyone can see, but there’s too much fudge DNA in it, and they need to be rearranged a bit. Someone with more brains than I have should get to work at it.
    Since I won’t comment any longer, here’s one last about the highest step of human development you talk about in NF. You forgot that one resource is limited: Emotions. Whatever such unrestricted beings might feel, they’d have to mix it from ingredients we already know. Maybe they’d leave our universe to find new emotions, new forces, new values outside the good-evil-neutral spectrum that governs ours. Maybe they’d explore other states than our to be or not to be, maybe discover some God who neither exists nor not exists, but qr4fz – is in a state unknown to us, beyond anything we can understand. We can only grasp our own world, and there are enough hints in it to conclude, it can’t be the only one. Maybe they realize, they can’t change the past, they can’t undo Auschwitz, and do the only thing angels can do: Rebel. Go after whatever force created our world, try to overturn it, and rewrite the laws of nature, so they can erase suffering from history and future. And fail, as all the others before, because that’s the only thing that can happen. You’re still ages from understanding the fractal pattern.
    But you made your choice, and I envy you. Keep writing great stuff, keep asking questions, keep turning a blind eye to the world outside scientific journals, where the answers are. Resist the temptation and be happy. Good luck.

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  80. Peter Watts: I might have missed something here. I’ve praised any country’s government? Anywhere?

    I do not insist you are aware of your own contribution, which is what I was pointing out before. I thought, you should be, when you mentioned support of your own government (these are most obvious signs). You should realise that the right-wing drift, government war rhetorics (wither it is “hybrid war” of “invasion” bullshit) and racism aren’t different sides of the conflict, they are parts of the same problem in the region.

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  81. Hey!

    Just wanted to say I’m very excited for your visit to Israel!

    Have tickets for both days with your talks (Man is the Utopia site bad…); will be happy to also say hello at e.g pub meeting, etc.

    Safe flight and easy passage through the terminal!

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  82. droid:
    Not sure if this got lost in the moderation queue of if Peter’s just sick of me but…

    Here’s one of these lowly Sci Fi authors showing awareness and support of BDS…

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/apr/05/iain-banks-cultural-boycott-israel

    And to clarify, as there seems to have been some (perhaps willful) misinterpretation here. Im not suggesting that you shouldn’t visit Israel or associate with Israelis. Im all in favour of conversation, debate etc.

    Im suggesting that authors, artists, musicians, academics etc should boycott cultural and academic events in solidarity with Palestinian civil society who have made this request as part of the non-violent BDS campaign.

    It’s very easy to pick sides when it comes to the Israel / Palestine issue. I’m not going to say Israel has any moral right to live there, in my opinion they were idiots for settling there. Should have asked the UN for a part of Germany instead. What they’re doing there is ugly, but there are no nice ways of dealing with the issue. If we move beyond romantic notions of good and evil and rights and talk real-politik, it’s a no brainer.

    One side are people in thrall to a virulent and thriving meme complex endorsed by all the right people*. Even if the entirety of Israel were as obnoxious and hard to deal with as haredim, they’d still be more sympathetic.

    *no, really they did.

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  83. Y.: *no, really they did.

    Not this nonsense again.

    Europeans (and Americans) conveniently forget that most Europeans (and many Americans) either actively sided with the Nazis, or were openly sympathetic to Hitler’s regime. The Axis was more than just Germany, Italy and Japan. But give them half a chance and they readily bleat about “Muslim support for Hitler”, even though this support, as evidenced by the article you linked, never amounted to anything.

    Christian support, on the other hand, massively contributed to the Nazi war effort. Is anyone writing pseudohistorical articles about that relationship?

    Y.: One side are people in thrall to a virulent and thriving meme complex endorsed by all the right people*.

    The article you linked to clarifies that there is no difference between delusional Islamic fundamentalist bigotry and all other delusional fundamentalist bigotries. While I agree, I don’t see how it can be interpreted as support for your previous statement.

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  84. Fatman: Not this nonsense again.
    Europeans (and Americans) conveniently forget that most Europeans (and many Americans) either actively sided with the Nazis, or were openly sympathetic to Hitler’s regime. The Axis was more than just Germany, Italy and Japan. But give them half a chance and they readily bleat about “Muslim support for Hitler”, even though this support, as evidenced by the article you linked, never amounted to anything.

    Christian support, on the other hand, massively contributed to the Nazi war effort. Is anyone writing pseudohistorical articles about that relationship?

    Nazis wished Germans were Muslim because they thought it’d make their task of eradicating the threat posed by global Jewish conspiracies easier and thought Islam was more suited for a militaristic nation than Christianity.

    Christians saw Nazis as less of a threat than Bolsheviks. At the time it was understandable perhaps because Nazi atrocities against Christians have not yet really taken place and Nazis weren’t militant atheists, whereas Bolshevik/left atrocities against Christians were a matter of record.

    I don’t see how you can object to that.

    Belief in global Jewish conspiracies with nefarious aims and implausible capabilities these days is found mostly on /pol. And is very prevalent in almost every Muslim country, save perhaps Indonesia/Malaysia where they have their middleman disproportionately successful minority, ethnic Chinese.

    Besides, the past is over. We’re merely dealing with its consequences,and I’m still unsure why you are worried about Christian bigotry, which is officially despised and powerless, and Islamic fundamentalism which is given cover and protected under the guise of fighting against ‘islamophobia’ and supported by multiple rather rich countries and the fact that giving money to religious charities is one of the pillars of faith for Moslims.

    Fatman: The article you linked to clarifies that there is no difference between delusional Islamic fundamentalist bigotry and all other delusional fundamentalist bigotries. While I agree, I don’t see how it can be interpreted as support for your previous statement.

    Scope matters. If there’s five thousand delusional bigots, that’s one thing. If delusional bigots have their own country and access to nuclear weapons, it’s something else. No one knows what’s going to happen in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, or how serious Iran is about wiping out Israel.

    Meanwhile, biggest and most widespread group obsessively controlling women to ensure rapid population growth are fundamentalist Muslims. Reflect on this and then tell me if you’re still so sure fundie Islam is not a bigger threat than Christian dominionism..

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  85. Y.: Nazis wished Germans were Muslim because they thought it’d make their task of eradicating the threat posed by global Jewish conspiracies easier and thought Islam was more suited for a militaristic nation than Christianity.

    That’s a part of the opinion expressed in the opinion piece you linked to. Facts, however, indicate that a) Nazis never spread Islam, or elements of Islam, through their militarist nation, and b) Christian nations did not embrace Nazism out of a fear of Bolshevism, but out of a love of fascism. In the early years, the two ideologies coexisted quite peacefully.

    Ancient irrational hatred of Jews at least contributed to this Christian embracing of fascism, and several European countries participated in WW2 purges and killing of Jews with no prompting from the Nazis. Let’s not even get into past Christian crimes against Jews in Europe, which would require a blog of their own.

    Y.: Belief in global Jewish conspiracies with nefarious aims and implausible capabilities these days is found mostly on /pol.

    You must have never visited the US, or certain parts of it. I can point you to the results of the recent presidential election, and the groups who have voiced support for the winner of that election. True, it’s nowhere near most of the population, but Judeo-Masonic-Globalist conspiracies are very much alive and well in the most powerful Christian-majority nation in the world.

    Y.: Islamic fundamentalism which is given cover and protected under the guise of fighting against ‘islamophobia’ and supported by multiple rather rich countries

    Belief in global Islamic conspiracies with nefarious aims and implausible capabilities these days is found mostly on… rifters.com?

    Y.: Reflect on this and then tell me if you’re still so sure fundie Islam is not a bigger threat than Christian dominionism..

    What you’re posting to are opinion pieces, and everyone’s entitled to an opinion. Such facts are presented within those pieces fail to support the claims. Reflect on this and tell me if you’re still so sure every blog post written by bigots is a relevant source of information.

    Y.: If delusional bigots have their own country and access to nuclear weapons, it’s something else.

    Israel has had nuclear weapons for years, and so has North Korea. I believe international pressure will prove a sufficient deterrent. Climate change will wipe us out long before any fundamentalist lunacy.

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  86. Crawl ate the last half of my post.

    Y.: Reflect on this and then tell me if you’re still so sure fundie Islam is not a bigger threat than Christian dominionism..

    What you’re posting to are opinion pieces, and everyone’s entitled to an opinion. Such facts are presented within those pieces fail to support the claims. Reflect on this and tell me if you’re still so sure every blog post written by bigots is a relevant source of information.

    Y.: If delusional bigots have their own country and access to nuclear weapons, it’s something else.

    Iran has been wiping out Israel for four decades. The Israeli government has had nuclear weapons for years, and so has North Korea. Delusional bigots with big guns were given those big guns by even bigger world powers, and remain obedient to pressure from these powers. Climate change will wipe us out long before any fundamentalist lunacy.

    But point taken. I’ve been watching the political developments in India closely.

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  87. I liked the pictures.

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  88. As an Israeli fan, I’m very happy to hear you’ll be visiting! I don’t usually go to such events, so I don’t know if it’s appropriate, but any chance you’ll be able to sign a hardcopy of Blindsight?

    Regardless of the above, for what it’s worth, I’ll be happy to participate in any kind of extra-curricular social events later on, if they happen.

    Cheers and bon voyage!

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  89. listedproxyname: . I thought, you should be, when you mentioned support of your own government (these are most obvious signs).

    Ah yes. You must be talking about the praise I heaped upon my government here, or here— or even here, where I wistfully fantasize about the assassination of Canada’s prime minister.

    I see it now.

    Y.: Should have asked the UN for a part of Germany instead.

    I’ve always wondered about that myself. Given that they couldn’t really settle anywhere that wasn’t already occupied, why not at least displace the fuckers who’d tried to wipe you from the face of the map? Would there be no satisfaction at all in pushing them aside, grinding them under, taking all their best stuff and watching the door hit their asses on the way out?

    I’ve been told that no Jew would ever want to live in Germany because of how Germany had treated them, and on one hand I get that. On the other and, though, you’d think owning your oppressors would be at least partly the point.

    Fatman: Belief in global Islamic conspiracies with nefarious aims and implausible capabilities these days is found mostly on… rifters.com?

    Hey!

    asd:
    I liked the pictures.

    Thank you!

    Vladimir: I don’t know if it’s appropriate, but any chance you’ll be able to sign a hardcopy of Blindsight?

    Of course it’s appropriate. I’d be happy to sign a bloody napkin if that’s all you got. (I consider it my moral duty to pay it forward; William Gibson once signed my Do It Yourself Guide To B.C. Small Claims Court.)

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  90. Peter Watts: You must be talking about the praise I heaped upon my government

    No, I meant quite the opposite. If your government starts to support you despite your best efforts at harsh criticism, there’s is a good reason to check your six. Among some others.

    It kind of blows me away that my own government would support me thus. Prophets are supposed to be without honor in their own country, after all (and that’s certainly been my experience at the con level).

    Just for the record, this is not something of a mystification, the issue is very much real.
    https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/canadian-government-comes-to-the-defence-of-nazi-ss-and-nazi-collaborators-but-why

    Of course, every time this topic becomes highlighted, every connected official is committed to reply in following manner:
    – we did not do it
    – it is a misinformation
    – and an enemy diversion
    – these are not people you are looking for
    – we conducted full investigation and found nothing but statistical errors
    – we did NOT do any of it
    – we are committed to investigates any of such possibilities
    – we are completely sure you are mistaken
    – did we already mention that we have nothing to do with that?

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  91. I’ve always wondered about that myself. Given that they couldn’t really settle anywhere that wasn’t already occupied, why not at least displace the fuckers who’d tried to wipe you from the face of the map? Would there be no satisfaction at all in pushing them aside, grinding them under, taking all their best stuff and watching the door hit their asses on the way out?

    Re why Israel?
    Zionism started well before WWII.
    I know it’s Wikipedia but have a glance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Zionism
    The World Zionist Organization was founded in 1897 with the explicit goal of founding a Jewish state in Palestine. Europe had a long history of being horrible to the Jews — the Zionists thought enough was enough, time to get out.
    Isreal didn’t “just happen” — it was the result of a long plan.

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  92. Peter Watts: I’ve been told that no Jew would ever want to live in Germany because of how Germany had treated them, and on one hand I get that. On the other and, though, you’d think owning your oppressors would be at least partly the point.

    There’s an awesome book written by an East German professor of classical antiquity about the time she said ‘fuck it’ when the orders to board the train to Auschwitz came. She easily conned the rather naive German bureaucracy and slipped and reported herself as having been deported.

    By the time they figured it out it was a month later and again she fooled the agents who came to get her at 6 in the morning.

    Her parents’ insistence that she attend the same school as working class children saved her life, pretty much. Other Jews who were hiding this way could very rarely hide among the proletariat, they just didn’t know any of the culture.

    IIRC, she said she stayed because she felt at home in Berlin, and also because she was greatly impressed by the bravery displayed by the communist resistance in Berlin. They were very helpful at extreme personal risk towards the ~1500 Jews who were in hiding there.

    Must’ve been a bit weird. East Germany was also full of ex-nazis. But I believe she didn’t really think people were that free to make choices.

    Fatman: Belief in global Islamic conspiracies with nefarious aims and implausible capabilities these days is found mostly on… rifters.com?

    Suure. The hundreds of millions of Muslims who think Sharia is preferable to Roman or English style legal codes are a conspiracy. So are all the people who were cheering on those Daesh fanatics.

    You’re standing knee-deep in the Nile, Fatman.

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  93. Y.: Suure. The hundreds of millions of Muslims who think Sharia is preferable to Roman or English style legal codes are a conspiracy. So are all the people who were cheering on those Daesh fanatics.

    Yet for all this zealotry, only a handful of Muslim-majority countries have gone 100% Sharia.

    Hundreds of millions of fanatics, nefarious secret support from multiple rather rich countries, and they can’t even clean up their own back yard. What’s the world coming to?

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