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July 12, 2022

Comments

I realise that this is an extremely frivolous thing to say, given the serious nature of what these hearings are uncovering, but even so: thank God for another one - I was experiencing severe comedown after Wimbledon and needed some excitement. Also, we are in the middle of a heatwave, and in a country with almost no air conditioning and not enough ice, that is a very serious matter. I am sitting in a darkened room with an electric fan going full-tilt. The hearing will be a very welcome distraction, as well (hopefully) as another serious nail in the coffin of TFG and his enablers.

lock them up.

that is all.

I realise that this is an extremely frivolous thing to say, given the serious nature of what these hearings are uncovering, but even so: thank God for another one

The challenge, for the committee, is to maintain both the level of seriousness of the information provided and the demeanor of the members. So far, they are consistently meeting the task.

P.S. Good luck dealing with global warming there. (Here we're on our fourth day of triple (Fahrenheit) digits; that's pushing 40 in the modern world.) Perhaps it's time to consider installing at least a window air conditioning unit. If British stores still don't carry such, there's always the Internet....

Elsewhere, Texas is experiencing a serious heat wave.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/07/11/texas-record-heat-ercot-power-grid/

It's not just that they are seeing the highest temperatures in the 150 years for which there are records. It's that their electrical grid** is close to maxing out. "Close" as in they are within 0.6% of maximum capacity -- not a lot of buffer there. Which means they are looking at widespread brownouts and blackouts across the state.

Note that they have elections for Governor coming up. And people tend to blame those in office when bad things happen, whether they have any control over them or not (bad weather, e.g. hurricanes, excepted). So it could get dicey for Abbott, and for Texas Republicans generally. Texans may not figure out that climate change is real, but it's hard to miss that you lost power in a heat wave.

** Most of North America is covered by large (multistate) interconnected electoral grids. But Texas has its own.

If I have a fan, I'm comfortable up to about 92°F - 33°C. I have the thermostat set at 90°. Yesterday afternoon I turned the A/C off because ERCOT was running close to its limits and asking people to cut back on their power usage. Things were starting to feel a bit warm when the temperature reached 95°.

Earlier in the year, the pundits were predicting that both Californian and Texas were at risk for blackouts this Summer. More recently, some were predicting that the Midwest might be at a greater risk.

In recent years, North Central Texas has had average or lower temperatures in Spring and Summer and average or higher temperatures in Fall and Winter. Last year, the high on Christmas day was just a few degrees lower than the high on July 4th. This year we're having a more traditional Texas summer.

Well. More attempts at witness tampering revealed by Liz Cheney at the end, this time by DJT himself. He must be getting very worried indeed, and (as usual) is behaving in ways which continue to show his sense of impunity, and zero understanding of his own legal jeopardy.

this time by DJT himself. He must be getting very worried indeed

Especially if he isn't being careful to maintain some level of (not particularly) plausible deniability. I guess even a mob boss can get to feeling backed into a corner.

THe main way global climate change is affecting us (south end of Puget Sound) is to kill off most of the ocean wildlife. The loss of seabirds is dramatic. The orcas are malnourished.

On land the big change is the demise of the cedars. Luckily the species is not in trouble--we are experiencing a shift in where they are viable. I live in a transition zone and dead and dying cedars are our new norm.

Fuck all climate change deniers. May they be hated for all eternity.

I hope Trump gets legal consequences. It will be a real failure if he doesn't.

Fuck all climate change deniers. May they be hated for all eternity.

The sequoias! I just read about the dangers to them from the kinds of fires now happening. I find it unspeakably depressing to contemplate the demise of those extraordinary, inspiring giants.

Sequoias -- I spent most of April in northern California, in coastal redwood country. It was breathtakingly beautiful. One of these months there will be a BJ picture post focused on redwoods, but in the meantime here's a shot from my first day, at Roederer Estate, where we stopped to have sparkling wine while overlooking vineyards amidst redwood-carpeted hills.

PS Trying out 500px (photo site) embedding code -- not adjusted for size, so probably won't fit correctly.

Wine Country by Janie Matrisciano on 500px.com

What's amazing to me about that photo is that, from a distance, you lose the sense of what is (to me at least) the really astonishing thing about sequoias - namely, their size. But I couldn't help looking at the rest of that collection; you actually have a real genius for trees. Too many wonderful ones to single out by title, but for a tree lover like me it was a great treat. And as for "Cuffey's Cove", it reminded me of nothing so much as a Californian version of Ha Long Bay.

As a quibble, I don't think the coastal redwoods are commonly called sequoias, although their Latin name includes that word. My understanding is that they tend to be taller but not quite as wide, on average, as the ones in the Sierras.

For more, here's the Mendocino gallery on my picture website. It's not really finished; eventually there will be some stories as well as pictures.

I love trees as well. As is apparent from my pictures. My pal and mentor and editor Steve teased me early on in our acquaintance about how my pictures could be called Tree #1, Tree #2, Forest #6, etc.

And no mention of Sequoia Sempervirens (even by implication) fails to bring back thoughts of Dan Simmons's Hyperion Cantos. I have never been an avid or comprehensive sci-fi fan like some of the folks here, but I've read that series several times. The treeships are only one among the memorable images...which also include blowing the farcasters, which never fails to connect, in my mind, to the blowing up of a famous bridge in one of Starhawk's novels....

Rambling mind tonight.

(And what *did* anyone who watched some or all of it think of the hearing today?)

The stat on Giant Sequoias that gets me is that the bark (not the whole trunk, just the bark) can run over 30". "Giganteum" indeed.

Some of the Sequoias are too tall to get water all the way to their tops from the ground. They're dependent on mist flowing in from the coast and accumulating on their upper reaches.

what *did* anyone who watched some or all of it think of the hearing today?

I didn't catch much. But I did think Cheney got one thing wrong. Not as a matter of law (because she is right there), but as a matter of psychology. She said “President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child. Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices.”

But Trump, for all his years, is a child. And a badly behaved one at that. In my (limited) experience, the average 10 year old has more maturity.

There's no need to read the story, but check the montage of the eight candidates for Conservative Party leader. Well done that party for embracing diversity. Now if you could just try honesty and sense...

But Trump, for all his years, is a child.

No, he isn't. That is exactly the irrelevant nonsense that she's addressing.

He has agency. He makes choices. He's a mind-bogglingly selfish psychopath, so he uses his agency badly and makes anti-social, destructive choices. But he is not a child.

"This appears to have changed the strategy for defending Donald Trump. Now the argument seems to be that President Trump was manipulated by others outside the administration, that he was persuaded to ignore his closest advisers, and that he was incapable of telling right from wrong. This new strategy is to try to blame only John Eastman or Sidney Powell or Congressman Scott Perry or others and not President Trump.

In this version, the president was "poorly served" by these outside advisers. The strategy is to blame people his advisers called "the crazies" for what Donald Trump did. This, of course, is nonsense. President Trump is a 76 year old man. He is not an impressionable child. Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices."
- from Liz Cheney's opening remarks

Add deliberate intent beyond the shadow of doubt to the list of privileges for the well-to-do, when guilt by association is damning enough for the common man.

If one's defense is "I was bamboozled by the flim-flam man!" when one's job is the judgment to make sound decisions based on the advice of experts in their respective fields, that sounds a lot like an admission of gross incompetence. Maybe one doesn't go to prison for that*, but it should be absolutely disqualifying for any future office. But I suppose we already had 2 shots at that.


*He should totally go to prison, tho.

He has agency. He makes choices. He's a mind-bogglingly selfish psychopath, so he uses his agency badly and makes anti-social, destructive choices. But he is not a child.

I agree.

If one's defense is "I was bamboozled by the flim-flam man!" when one's job is the judgment to make sound decisions based on the advice of experts in their respective fields, that sounds a lot like an admission of gross incompetence.

I agree squared. But of course, this is only an excuse. It's much worse than gross incompetence, horrifying though that would be in the most powerful man on earth. It is what Janie said: he didn't care about the legality, he only cared about what he wanted, and was perfectly happy to let the country and your democracy go to hell. He would probably, if he had succeeded, tried to remain POTUS for the rest of his life, with the position going to Ivanka when he died.

Posted by accident before proof-reading, and before taking out that final sentence!

What we have here is not so much a smoking gun but a blazing inferno that used to be an armory.

Hell, the former president is still apparently trying to tamper with witnesses to stop them snitching on his obviously criminal behavior.

You don’t have to be a federal prosecutor to know that the standard for criminal conviction is beyond reasonable doubt.

Is it reasonable to think that Donald Trump understood the effects of inciting an armed mob to come to a protest that he promised would be wild?

Is it reasonable to think that his incitement was intentional just after an unhinged meeting in the West Wing about overturning the election he had just lost?

Is it reasonable to think that violence and interfering with an election might take place after he urged the mob to go to the Capitol alongside him?

It is obviously beyond reasonable doubt. And it is certainly worth putting to a jury to decide for themselves.

Don’t take my word for it. According to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll, 69% of Americans think Trump bears some responsibility for the attack on police at the Capitol.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jul/13/criminal-investigation-donald-trump

That 69% poll result is somewhat encouraging, but only in the context of the inexplicable continuing support for Trump among Rs. Let's hope that will soon be a thing of the past....

69% of Americans think Trump bears some responsibility for the attack on police at the Capitol.

But did they ask how many of the 69% fully approve of the attack and only wish it had succeeded?

I live in a HOA that has about three hundred acres of common area kept as a forest. WE are responding to climate change with a replanting program that includes sequoias. This is part of a small movement all around the SOund to plant sequoias. I will not, of course, see them get much bigger. I'm not really optimistic that they or anyone else will be around in one hundred years. Humans have never handled change well and they changes we are facing now are going to accelerate beyond our capacity to cope. Past behavior being the best predictor of future behavior, that means we will not have an outbreak of common sense. MOre likely lots of wars and lots of corporate fascism. But we planted the trees anyway.

A poem to go with wonkie's comment ... I might have been introduced to the poem here, but I don't remember.

It's much worse than gross incompetence, horrifying though that would be in the most powerful man on earth.

He is grossly incompetent and it is and continues to be horrifying with the prospect of him regaining office. And he isn't a child though he acts like one.

"If CheetoBenito truly believed the election was fraudulent then he was acting in good faith albeit on bad advice. But that's not criminal. In fact, it's quite patriotic if you think about it, and he should probably award himself the Trump Presidential Medal of Awesome™." - Trump Defense Team, probably.

It's shameless and transparent, but whatja expect?

The wild card is still DoJ.

The Manhattan DA's office halted its Trump probe amid reports that DA Bragg was unsure he could secure a conviction. The lead prosecutor resigned with a very different opinion.

Is Garland also the kind of guy who would back away from charges unless he is 100% sure of conviction? Especially against a former president? I have no idea.

Wow. I don't think I've ever seen that poem before. Thanks, Janie.

But did they ask how many of the 69% fully approve of the attack and only wish it had succeeded?

No. Cripes.

He has agency. He makes choices. He's a mind-bogglingly selfish psychopath, so he uses his agency badly and makes anti-social, destructive choices. But he is not a child.

I phrased my comment badly. What I meant was that he acts like a child. I agree that he is still responsible for his actions, and should be held accountable.

But recognizing that he behaves like a petulant, badly spoiled, child can be helpful in predicting which destructive choice he will make. Thus him opting, not even for the course the Crazy Team of advisors advocated, but for the armed mob attacking the Capitol. It's why I can see him telling his cultists to stay home in places (e.g. Georgia) where his preferred candidate lost the primary.

Posted by accident before proof-reading, and before taking out that final sentence!

Not sure why you would have. That Trump would have gone for President for Life seems entirely likely.** Less sure that he would have gone for dynasty, simply because I'm not sure how much he cares about what happens after he's gone.

** The political hacks that he appointed to the Supreme Court would pribably have cheerfully ignored the 22nd Amendment. Not sure they could have gotten a majority, even with the ideologues. Then again, he might have decided to ignore the Court, too.

A truly awesome picture, courtesy of the James Webb Telescope:
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap220713.html

Great picture, wj. Thank you.

From wj's link:

Analyzing light from two separate arcs below the bright spiky star, Webb's NIRISS instrument indicates the arcs are both images of the same background galaxy. And that galaxy's light took about 9.5 billion years to reach the James Webb Space Telescope.

It's hard enough (impossible?) to fathom a timespan of 9.5B years, let alone the distance light (F**KING LIGHT!!!) has travelled over that amount of time.

Wish there was a way around the diffraction spikes caused by the physical characteristics of the telescope. Maybe there's a way to post-process images to remove them.

9.5B years is pretty close to the theoretical visible edge of the universe. Everything beyond that is moving away from us at greater than the speed of light.

Hubble/Webb slider comparison.

Maybe there's a way to post-process images to remove them.

Certainly it could be done. In fact, you could probably remove the foreground stars altogether. But I think NASA is going for unedited reality in what they publish.

Pete, thanks for that slider. I'd seen a side-by-side comparison, but couldn't lay my hands on a copy that wasn't buried in a paywalled article.

Certainly it could be done. In fact, you could probably remove the foreground stars altogether. But I think NASA is going for unedited reality in what they publish.

I've been reading up on them. The six major spikes are due to the overall hexagon shape of the mirror. Also:

Every object in the view has spikes, but they're only big and visible on the very bright objects.

NASA leaves them in for multiple reasons. There's some way to use them to get precise information about the mirror alignment that some kinds of analysis can use. The math to remove them is straightforward, but the price is loss of contrast and fine detail.

The radius of the observable universe is reckoned to be about 46 billion light-years.

I confused the observable limits with the age of the universe - 13.8 billion years. Don't know the implications of that and the 46 billion lightyear observation limit.

Back on the Jan 6 front, it appears that Trump and his (current) coterie have decided the Mark Meadows is the guy who will get thrown under the bus.
https://digbysblog.net/2022/07/13/whither-the-loyal-mark-meadows/

It really looks like a typecase for flipping a witness. But that's Trump -- demand loyalty but never return it. And, I suspect, he's always surprised when loyalty to him hits a limit.

Whatever Meadows testifies to under oath will be denounced as lies. What will be fun is when Trump moves on to his usual "I barely knew this guy and I had no idea what he was doung." Riiiight, barely knew his chief of staff. LOL.

So is it that, since the universe is expanding, the stuff in it is relatively much farther away at this point in time than it was when the light from it was emitted? So we can see it as it was while it was still within 13.8 billion light years of us, but may not be able to see it as it is in the future once it has moved farther enough away from us that light will be able to reach us (since the universe is expanding faster than light)?

nous, there are two factors involved. First, the universe is expanding (well below the speed of light); it has been for a long time. The combination means that the stuff we see, while it was a very long way away when the light we see was emitted, it is even further away now. So the visible universe isn't as big as the universe is today.

Second, because the universe is expanding, the frequently of the light we see is longer (to our eyes) than when it was emitted. That's why, to use the traditional analogy, the sound of a train whistle differs depending on whether it is approaching or receding. So what was emitted as visible light is seen by us, specifically by the Webb Telescope, as infrared (or longer).

Sufficiently distant galaxies are travelling away from us faster than the speed of light, according to the cosmological definition of velocity.

I'm working my way up from here:

https://futurism.com/how-can-space-travel-faster-than-the-speed-of-light

It's been a couple decades since I took any (undergrad survey) courses in cosmology, so I'm out of date, out of practice, and out of memory.

Meanwhile, back on Earth:

https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2022-07-13/3rd-arrest-made-in-alleged-colorado-election-security-breach

Liars keep lying about other people lying.

(I had one of those brain farts where it took me a second to remember how to spell "liars.")

Liars keep lying about other people lying.

Trying, even if unsuccessfully, to commit election fraud is such a great way to assemble details for accusing others of having done so.** Lends a certain plausibility when you have all those details on how it's done.

** Although, if you have the imagination to invent thermostats and dead Venezuelan dictators tampering with election results, it's not obvious why you would need to.

Don't forget the mules.

Indiana attorney general vows to go after doctor who treated 10 year old rape victim. At the same time GOP politicians all over the US claim the whole rape story is a hoax. Meanwhile the rapist has been caught and confessed to crime.
Is it still impolite to wish infections with facial necrotizing fasciitis on people?

Hartmut, it would be impolite not to.

(back to long-time lurking...)

At the same time GOP politicians all over the US claim the whole rape story is a hoax. Meanwhile the rapist has been caught and confessed to crime.

I'm seeing them first claim it was a hoax. And then, once the guy was charged, drop that (without, of course, acknowledging that they were wrong) and talk about how horrible he was. Plus pledging to go after the doctor who performing a procedure which is legal (for the moment) in his state.

They're in a difficult position, since a substantial majority of the population, including a majority of Republicans, disagrees with their position on abortion. So "it never happens" and "let's talk about anything except that 10 year old rape victim" are the best of their bad choices. (Unless they are willing to change their position. Which, so far, very few are.)

They are not going to change their positions. They have redistricted everything into safe havens for themselves, but only if they stick to their extremist platform. The only danger for their elected position is if they allow anyone to the inside right.

As long as they can make Democrats waste most of their votes in deep blue districts they will continue to push an extremist course of action.

I wonder what would happen to policy if we started drawing electoral maps to make them maximally competitive?

I wonder what would happen to policy if we started drawing electoral maps to make them maximally competitive?

I'm guessing that the California (and other states with non-partisan, aka independent, non-legislature redistricting panels) legislature provides a window. Eventually, I think they will figure out that extremism is counterproductive. But the California Republican Party's behavior suggests that it may take decades for the idea to get thru.

I'm guessing that the California (and other states with non-partisan, aka independent, non-legislature redistricting panels) legislature provides a window.

Colorado has such a commission. In case I haven't said so lately, I am incensed over the Congressional districts they drew. Colorado gained a new district this time around. It is absolutely clear that the commission's primary goals were: (a) leave each of the seven incumbents in the new version of their district, and (b) make each incumbent's district lean a little bit more towards their party.

It is absolutely clear that the commission's primary goals were: (a) leave each of the seven incumbents in the new version of their district, and (b) make each incumbent's district lean a little bit more towards their party.

Which is not at all what I was thinking about.

I'd be interested to see someone model what congress would look like if all districts were drawn to be a) compact and b) minimize the number of "wasted" votes per the analysis done in the WI redistricting SC case - with no regard for incumbency.

I'd be interested in a model which drew districts which were a) compact** and b) ignored incumbants. But without concerns about "wasted votes". That, if considered at all, should be a distant third.

** With a caveat that the parts of the district be connected by major roads. Not just geometrically compact. Thanks to geograpgical features (mountains, rivers, etc.) you can have areas which are close to each other as the crow flies, but hours apart by surface travel.

I'm specifically thinking about the "fewest wasted votes" criterion because that would make every district more competitive, and thus force it to be more responsive. You are always saying, wj, that eventually a party is going to drift so far away from the public will that they will be punished in the polls. Fewest wasted votes would most lower the threshold for that to become a driving factor.

But nous, how do you plan to identify who (specifically, what address) is the source of a wasted vote? Without negating the concept of a secret ballot, that is.

What do you do with those who split tickets? (Admittedly a declining number currently. But we've been thru periods of "vote a straight party ticket" before.) Do you look just at Federal offices? Just at state offices? Some to-be-defined weighting of various offices?

And wouldn't be interesting to see how many wasted votes there might be if you didn't consider incumbants, but didn't worry about wasted votes either.

I'd consider the definition of wasted votes used in the SC case. Could be estimated from party registration and past results, and ticket splitters votes are, by definition, never wasted.

And this is a modeling exercise, not yet an action plan. I'm not sure what you are trying to learn from your proposed districting standards. I'm trying to see how making the districts more competitive would affect what sort of legislation passed and whether the results became too heavily weighted towards short-term policy goals or if they settled into a more moderate equilibrium. A more middle-of-the-road model might give more ambiguous results and reveal less.

A question on the compact and wasted vote criteria. How do you feel about communities of interest? Most of the states that I'm familiar with start their requirements for districts with equal population, compact, and preserve communities of interest.

Just my impression, with no votes to back it up, but if the criteria for US House districts in Colorado were equal population, compact, and minimize wasted votes, rural Colorado would lose its voice entirely.

if the criteria for US House districts in Colorado were equal population, compact, and minimize wasted votes, rural Colorado would lose its voice entirely.

Lose its voice entirely? Or merely cease to have a disproportionately large influence? (Which, arguably, reduces the voice of urben voters.) Nothing blocking them from using persuasion to get stuff done. And the essence of democracy is that, if group A has lots more people, group B has fewer, and thus less ability to force its views on the majority.

I was very much interested in seeing what happened when communities of interest were broken up, somewhat. Compactness would keep the regional flavor of the rural areas, but would force them to engage in compromise *during the election process* and put pressure on the representative to represent a more broad consensus of views or lose their seat.

I don't see that concentrating communities of interest helps with getting anything for those communities (other than pork).

I don't see that concentrating communities of interest helps with getting anything for those communities (other than pork).

My sense is that, for many, culture wars victories weigh more heavily than traditional pork. Possibly because, in part, they still get some pork (i.e. infrastructure spending) no matter how districts are drawn.

My interest in discovering what happens when communities of interest are forced to interact with others to get things accomplished is grounded in what I've read about Deliberative Democracy.

https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/04/deliberative-democracy-depolarize-america/

Would more competitive districts drive something like this deliberative process? Don't know. But we are doomed if we don't do something to break up the combination of high polarization and growing economic inequality.

I'm all for competitive districts. But I'm doubtful that, in the current political environment, it would result in moderation.

Consider the whole of California as a "district". Overall, California is pretty moderate, so it's not like a moderately conservative Republican couldn't win.** And yet, since Prop 187 passed, the GOP here has determinedly gone ever further to the extreme right. It's gotten repeatedly punished at the polls, at all levels, as a result. Without any sign (that I can see) of a return to the center.

I'd like to believe that they will eventually get their heads on straight and return to the center. But I'm increasingly, if reluctantly, doubtful that it will happen any time soon.

** From the mid-1945s untill the end of the 20th century, unless your name was Edmund G Brown, if you were Governor of California, you were a Republican. (Even including Ronald Reagan.) Not a flamingly liberal record, no matter our current reputation.

I wonder if the CA GOP is refusing to moderate because social media and the PACs are both federal, so the donor money and the party identity are outside of local control?

Hard to say from where I am, because the OC GOP is up to its eyeballs in white supremacists and evangelicals backlashing against the megachurches in favor of Qanon BS.

Marina Hyde on the insanity of the current Conservative leadership race, and its real world context. This short para, on only one aspect of that latter, gives something of a flavour:

Their own Commons chamber is leaking to the point of occasional closure, this week saw a four-day fire on Salisbury Plain, and temperatures of 40C are forecast for next week. I’m not sure how much more the gods of metaphor can do to make the situation readable for these people. Let’s face it, they did pestilence for the past two years and got nowhere.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jul/15/britain-burns-tories-leadership-contest

The best electoral system for most purposes is single transferable vote in multi-member constituencies, which is why so few countries use it.

Colorado should use the method to elect its congressmen, making the whole state a single constituency. Then if one seventh (or a bit less) of its voters choose to vote for a candidate representing rural interests, they get a congressperson. Or if not, fair enough.

And the whole problem of defining congressional districts goes away.

Another system that makes Gerrymandering much harder is two reps per district. The top two vote-getters are elected. If you pack districts too much, they'll be more likely to get two reps from the district-majority party. The party that would otherwise have been favored by having lots of districts with majorities just large enough to ensure that the majority candidates would win will be likely to elect one candidate from each party.

That's not so hard to exploit: you create several districts which are 60-40 to the other side, so elect 1 rep from each party, and a few which are 80-20 to your side.

Sure, but it might more obvious what you were doing it and you couldn't get the same kind of majorities that you can under the current system. It also depends on what the overall split is between the parties in the state. Minority majorities would be far more difficult to achieve.

It's kind of funny how it turns the strategy on its head, though. Now you're packing your own voters.

I don’t rant much anymore because I see targets to rant about everywhere, including on the Democratic side. That’s been true before but things are so bad now I just don’t see the point in it.

So instead, I am going to express my enthusiasm for Martha Wells’s fantasy books set in the vaguely France-like imaginary country of Ile Rien. I especially like the Tremaine character in the Fall of Ile Rien trilogy. I read it a couple of weeks ago from the library, bought the books, read it a second time and am now on the third reading. The plot is decent— it is your standard “ evil empire trying to conquer the world” setup with the good guys getting their butts kicked, things looking hopeless, etc…. What makes the books stand out is the character of Tremaine, but all the secondary characters are well- done, including the annoying ones. Tremaine herself is a depressed, suicidal, smart, witty daughter of a criminal mastermind. Every trilogy should have one.

Wells is better known for the Murderbot stories. I read the first one and liked it but haven’t read the others yet.

Thanks for the recommendation, Donald. I have the first Murderbot book, but haven't read it yet. I like the sound of these Fall of Ile Rien books though, and will investigate.

Where does the GOP find these people???

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/07/15/abortion-women-womb-gop-montana-tschida/?itid=hp-more-top-stories

Montana state Rep. Brad Tschida (R) is arguing that a woman’s womb “serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being.”
The mind boggles.

The Supreme Court delivers a long overdue and unanimous decision.

"No one witnessing a burglary in progress would call 911 and ask for a doctor. Likewise, it makes no sense for a doctor to consult a cop about prescribing medications. Yet in the past decade, law enforcement, driven by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), has taken a large and inappropriate role in monitoring and dictating the amount and kind of pain medications doctors may prescribe. Once this threshold is crossed, doctors are subjected to tactics that would horrify anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Constitution. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided such tactics are unacceptable."
Supreme Court Tells Cops To Stop Playing Doctor: The unanimous decision is a good first step for getting law enforcement out of prescription decisions.

Oh, something I forgot about the top-2 scheme is that they split their voting power in congress in proportion to the number of votes they received. So gaming that becomes far less effective.

With the many 60/40 districts and a few 80/20 districts, your 60/40 districts will elect a 0.6-vote rep and a 0.4-vote rep. Your 80/20 districts would still be able to elect 2 in the 80% party with a full vote between them, but that's not much of a margin. Nothing like what you could get with a single rep elected with a majority or plurality (depending on the rules in whatever state).

"The unanimous decision is a good first step for getting law enforcement out of prescription decisions"

I guess that's a side effect of getting a bunch of cranky oldsters in a judicial chamber comparing ailments, as cranky oldsters do.

Any chance that the USA will do the civilized thing and legalise medical diamorphine?

No, I thought not.

For all its faults the UK energy use per capita is half that of the US, nevermind the "developing world". So I don't think mass use of air conditioning is the way forward really. That said, I'm glad I have it at work...

The real killer will be this winter, when people won't be able to afford heating their homes anymore.

I would really like to have a chat with a few representatives of the fossil fuel industry who knew this would happen since the 70s and did everythingin their power to prevent any countermeasures being implemented.

There's a bit of anger on my part of course, but it's mostly curiosity about their psychological profile: you're not torturing someone, killing someone or starting a war even- no, you're making sure the whole world goes to hell in a handbasket, despite knowing how to prevent that from happening.

How did they deal with the cognitive dissonance, or did they not even perceive any dissonance ? I mean they were smart people and I'm sure most of them had children.

Gftnc—

Further boosterism for the Martha Wells trilogy—

http://imakeupworlds.com/index.php/2014/02/

Kate Elliot is a pretty good writer herself— I liked her SF version of the rise of Alexander the Great “ Unconquerable Sun” ( an interstellar version with the Phillip and Alexander characters as women).

Donald, there were an original two about the same world, have you read those? I think they were her first books, so maybe not so polished?

Yes, I read those also and liked them. The first one, The Element of Fire,she rewrote precisely because she thought she could do a better job with the writing. I read the revised one. The other one, the Necromancer one, is very good too, but I love the trilogy because of the Tremaine character. And everything else. ( The Necromancer is Leo a prelude to the trilogy, but you don’t have to read it first. It just has a few of the same characters thirty years earlier. ). She also has a book of short stories set in that world, fleshing out the lives of some of the characters before they appear in her novels.

The world itself is interesting. It is a fantasy so it has magic, but otherwise it is sort of modeled on France.

So the first one has a Three Musketeers feel, with wheel lock pistols and men fight duels with rapier and dagger and there are Kings and Queens but also wizards and the Fay as part of the background.

The Necromancer book has a roughly 1880 level of technology.

The trilogy is roughly like 1910, though not precisely. For instance, the bad guys have Zeppelins but not planes. It is sort of a mix of technological levels from about 1900 to 1940.

Most of the fantasies I read have a medieval level of technology though I have come across others, but she basically set up an imaginary world and goes through the history. I like the stagnant technology of most fantasies but this works too.

“ is Leo” is some sort of weird spellcheck correction.

Thanks, Donald. Appropriate steps taken.

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