Monday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. wr says:

    Hey science fiction readers — A week or so ago when Foundation premiered, we got into a discussion of whether or not Asimov was a “good” writer — that is, whether he had any particular skill with fundamental literary elements like character and dialogue, or if he was all about the ideas. That discussion then moved on briefly to his contemporaries, essentially the founding fathers of American science fiction.

    That started me wondering — who were the first American science fiction writers who started pushing into something we might call literature? For Asimov, Heinlein, Clark and their peers, it feels like words are tools that are used to tell the story and stay out of the way. The next generation, the Pohls and Simaks, were more sophisticated in their approach to character and irony, but still essentially craftsmen in prose.

    Obviously, that side of the genre still exists and thrives. But by the time of Dangerous Visions, there was an artier movement coming up as well. I think Robert Silverberg was pushing in that direction, along with Ellison himself, Samuel R. Delaney, Ursula K. LeGuin.

    But where do you guys think it started?

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  2. MarkedMan says:

    @wr: Bradbury?

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  3. CSK says:

    @wr:
    Edgar Allan Poe?

    Not an American, but H. G. Wells was known as The Shakespeare of Science Fiction.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Cheri Jacobus@CheriJacobus
    For every woman who, when a man takes credit for her work or idea is told, “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’”.

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  5. wr says:

    @CSK: “H. G. Wells was known as The Shakespeare of Science Fiction.”

    Why? And by whom?

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  6. CSK says:

    @wr:
    Brian Aldiss called him that.

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  7. CSK says:

    Todd Akin, he of “legitimate rape” fame, has died. He was 74.

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  8. CSK says:

    http://www.thebulwark.com/the=maga-trashiest-police-report-in-history/

    In which the burning question is asked: Is Corey Lewandowski a murderer or does he just pretend he is to get chicks

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  9. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I’m often on the side of the idea that public shaming can go too far when a person says something off the cuff that is stupid. If they own up to it and correct, let’s move on. But Todd Akin is an example for the opposite argument. He appeared to sincerely apologize and was the voice of reason. But once he knew his political career was over, he retracted his apology, attacked those who called him out, and made a minor career of playing the victim.

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  10. Jen says:

    I knew Akin when he was a state rep, and he always had some fairly fringe views, especially on the choice issue, but was surrounded by others who held the same nutty ideas.

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  11. Kathy says:

    Interesting factoid for the day:

    Early on in the 1918 flu pandemic, in the very first wave, vaccines were made to prevent it.

    This sounds good, until one remembers no one knew what caused the flu, nor did anyone posses the tools to identify the pathogen.

    So, what were these vaccines?

    To begin with, some European doctor named Pfeiffer, identified a bacillus as the causative agent. he was wrong, and was proven wrong in short order, but many scientists and doctors were left with the impression he was right. Bacilli could be cultured and then killed by applying heat, and thus they could be used for vaccination.

    This bacillus did cause respiratory tract infections, and could lead to pneumonia, but it didn’t cause the flu.

    What surprised me was that doctors or companies made their vaccines and sold or released them, absent much in the way of testing, certainly no double-blind randomized large scale clinical trials.

    They weren’t popular, and would not have helped against flu.

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  12. sam says:

    Speaking of things literary: On Ian Fleming as Craftsman

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  13. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: Well I think that gets to the heart of the whole problem with public apologies. They’re almost never sincere, since they’re the result of public pressure rather than the person realizing what they did was wrong. Sometimes a person says something they didn’t mean, but most of the time they’re put in the position of being compelled to express regret for something they still happen to believe, even if they could have articulated those beliefs a little more smartly. And I think that was the case with Todd Akin. It wasn’t just a slip of the tongue, it included terrible ideas.

    It was actually a perfect combination–there were bad ideas there, though the way he said it is what made it extra-special. I could even see an argument that he was misquoted to a degree, but that’s only because the focus went entirely to the phrase “legitimate rape,” which could have multiple meanings. Anyone who reads the remark in context realizes he wasn’t saying there are forms of rape which are legitimate activities. I think he was trying to distinguish rape from something like statutory rape; in other words, it was a similar distinction to what Whoopi Goldberg apparently had in mind when she claimed Roman Polanski didn’t commit “rape-rape” (also a dumb remark, if for not quite the same reasons).

    Yet if he’d found a clearer way to phrase what he meant, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that he made the scientifically dubious claim that raping a woman causes her fertility to shut down so that she doesn’t become pregnant. That aspect of his comment didn’t get anywhere the attention of the phrase “legitimate rape,” even though it was at the heart of why the remark was so stupid and abhorrent. And I think that says something about the superficialty of the way most political controversies transpire; even when they are well-deserving of the level of attention they receive, as this one was (and as, say, Howard Dean’s “scream” wasn’t), they often end up focusing on the wrong things.

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  14. Michael Cain says:

    In its first oral arguments session for the term, the Supreme Court will hear an interstate water rights case. Rather than the typical dispute between western states, this one is between Mississippi and Tennessee. Several western states have filed an amicus brief, though. This case involves rights to ground water, and probably has bearing on another current case — Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado. That Texas case has the potential to drive very large changes in western water law.

    I know, I spent too much time as a legislative staffer in a western state.

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  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Todd Akin, another gift from Misery to the rest of the country.

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  16. MarkedMan says:

    This is probably primarily of interest to JohnSF. I finally had a chance to read the Shurkin article you linked to about France and the submarine episode. It was quite good but I felt it was based on an assumption that wasn’t explicitly called out: that France’s position vis-a-vis the Chinese in the Pacific is complementary rather than in opposition to the US position. If their position is compatible with the US view of the region and ensuing strategy, then Shurkin’s recommendations make a lot of sense. But if the US feels the French position undermines the American strategy, then the recommendations wouldn’t make sense.

    And I would note that in both articles you linked to, no attempt is made to understand the American position, i.e. WHY the US State Department treated France the way they did. In both, it is assumed that French interests are paramount and correct.

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  17. Scott says:

    @wr: I don’t have the slightest clue how to divide the written word into categories like stories or literature but one of my favorite SF authors was Roger Zelazny. I can still pick up Lord of Light and read it with pleasure.

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  18. Modulo Myself says:

    @wr:

    Not a huge SF reader, but along with Le Guin and Delaney there’s Ballard. Though he’s not American. His pre- Crash/Concrete Island novels have an ambiguity about dystopia that seems new. Especially The Drowned World where the real narrative is not the action of the book but the drive to go to the equatorial zones and adapt, IIRC.

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  19. Kylopod says:

    A side note for the discussion about the literary merit of sci-fi, especially with regard to Bradbury. I’m a graduate of UMBC (U. of Maryland, Baltimore County), and they’ve got a collection of very old Bradbury stories which they chose to preserve at a time sci-fi was widely considered garbage, and only much later had its value recognized (it’s kind of like graphic novels in that way).

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  20. Neil J Hudelson says:

    Re: Sci Fi literature. I don’t have any thoughts on when Sci Fi turned into “literature,” but this summer I read “Hyperion Cantos” by Dan Simmons and holy schnikes can that guy write. Fantastic prose, great plot, world building, etc. I finished “Fall of Hyperion” a couple of weeks ago and now I think I need to start seeking out all of Simmons’s stuff.

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  21. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    Ray Bradbury once wrote an endorsement for the late Arthur Lyons in which he remarked that he had tired of mainstream fiction and found more satisfaction is reading mysteries such as Lyons wrote.

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  22. Mimai says:

    2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine goes to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian.

    This pleases me to no end.

    Their work on temperature and touch receptors is incredible.

    And they are fantastic humans to boot!

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  23. Stormy Dragon says:

    @CSK:

    Not an American, but H. G. Wells was known as The Shakespeare of Science Fiction.

    If we’re going with non-Americans, the first literary sci-fi novel is the first sci-fi novel period: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. So the question becomes when did sci-fi STOP being literary?

    PS – Extra Credits did a neat series on the history of sci-fi two years ago covering from Frankenstein up to Star Wars (with a brief tangent into The Lord of the Rings):

    Extra Sci Fi (ALL EPISODES)

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  24. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Mimai:

    Of course if Nobel season is starting, that also means the 2021 Ig Nobel Prizes are out too:

    The 2021 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

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  25. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I remember Orson Scott Card once remarking that because of Wells, Huxley, and Orwell, the British literary community has never had the same hangups as their American counterparts in thinking of sf as “not real literature.” Shelley would be yet another example, as she’s often credited as the inventor of the genre.

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  26. wr says:

    @Modulo Myself: “Not a huge SF reader, but along with Le Guin and Delaney there’s Ballard.”

    Can’t believe I forgot about Ballard. Absolutely.

    Did you ever see Cronenberg’s film of his Crash?

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  27. Kylopod says:

    Another point: while everyone remembers Frankenstein, Shelley’s second novel The Last Man, about a global pandemic, is typically classed as the first apocalyptic sci-fi novel.

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  28. CSK says:

    The Man in the Moone, written by Francis Godwin (Bishop of Hereford), published in 1638 but written earlier, is usually thought of as the first sci-fi novel.

    And no one so far has mentioned Jules Verne, whom I first read as a kid.

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  29. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: I think there’s a sense that Verne’s novels haven’t aged that well, despite the fact that he made some prescient scientific predictions and also has had a strong influence on the modern steampunk genre.

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    I’ll throw Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) into the mix, though I don’t know that he’d love being called a science fiction writer.

    I haven’t read much science fiction in the last 30 years. I avoid reading or watching things that are related to, similar to, anything I’m writing. Never read a romance before writing a romance, never read then-current middle grade before writing middle grade fiction, ditto YA. I never want to know what anyone else is writing in a genre, and since I write in so many different genres, I mostly just read non-fiction. It’s safe to say this is the opposite approach from most writers, but then again, after 150 books, 12 book series, no one has ever called anything of mine derivative.

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  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    Oh, and what about Lovecraft, everyone’s favorite racist, homophobic loon? Sci fi horror, but still, aliens and all.

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  32. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ll throw Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) into the mix, though I don’t know that he’d love being called a science fiction writer.

    Same with Kurt Vonnegut. I’m rather fascinated by writers who managed to write things which unquestionably fit the definition of sf but were published as “mainstream” fiction.

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  33. charon says:

    The author might not call this science fiction, but it looks like that to me. A lot of her stuff is kind of science fiction adjacent.

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

    Oryx and Crake is a 2003 novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. She has described the novel as speculative fiction and adventure romance, rather than pure science fiction, because it does not deal with things “we can’t yet do or begin to do”,[1] yet goes beyond the amount of realism she associates with the novel form.[2] It focuses on a lone character called Snowman, who finds himself in a bleak situation with only creatures called Crakers to keep him company. The reader learns of his past, as a boy called Jimmy, and of genetic experimentation and pharmaceutical engineering that occurred under the purview of Jimmy’s peer, Glenn “Crake”.

    The book was first published by McClelland and Stewart. It was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, as well as for the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction. Oryx and Crake is the first of the MaddAddam trilogy, followed by The Year of the Flood (2009) and MaddAddam (2013).

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  34. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    Marge Piercy’s written a couple of sci-fi novels, too, but she’s not known as a sci-fi writer.

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  35. charon says:

    @Kylopod:

    Player Piano was a selection of the Science Fiction book club.

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  36. CSK says:

    Sarah Ditum had an interesting article in The Guardian entitled “‘It drives writers mad’: why are authors still sniffy about sci-fi?”

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  37. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve long bemoaned the poor quality of the main stream media. I’m not talking about bias, which is a different issue, or both sider-ism, or access based journalism, which are all serious issues. In this case, by “quality” I mean basic journalistic competence and craft. Josh Marshall provides a perfect illustration today:

    A weekend story in the Times actually claimed that in his meeting with House Democrats Biden had for the “first time” that the two bills were linked. Apparently we all forget that just couple months ago there was a whole faux mini-scandal when Biden threatened to veto the hard infrastructure bill if the two weren’t passed together.

    This was in the frickin’ NYTimes! And this wasn’t something that was a footnote and could be lost in the shuffle. At the time of the kerfuffle mentioned above the media went back and forth for a couple of weeks as to whether this was a strategic mistake by Biden. And there were a number of complaints in this very comments section about how portraying Biden coupling these two bills as a “change” was in direct contradiction to the facts, because he and Pelosi had made it clear weeks before that was their intention. Yet, here we are, a couple of months later and this whole history has once again gone into the black hole of inconvenient facts.

    The NYTimes piece is simply wrong, and that comes before any analysis for bias or other journalistic misdeeds. Wrong on the facts.

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  38. Stormy Dragon says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Quoting myself from elsewhere in response to a Mark Jacobs tweet about bad journalism:

    The real problem today is that most “journalists” aren’t actually journalists, they’re entertainers.

    Any discussion of journalistic practice or ethics is pointless until we have actual journalism.

    Take, as an example, the infrastructure bills. Actual journalism would focus on what state our infrastructure is in, how it could be improved, etc. Lots of interviews with civil engineers, urban planners, social workers, etc. that no one has heard of before.

    But that would require a lot of work and would be pretty boring.

    So instead we get a focus on inter-politician drama, turning the entire issue into some WWE worked shoot that’s more about pumping up the crowd for the big fight than about informing.

    And even in his “apology”, Mark Jacob is keeping up the kayfabe that his failures as editor were about trying to be a good journalist and failing, rather than owning up to the reality that his real goal was selling more papers to people who want politician catfights.

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  39. Kathy says:

    When I read fiction, and for me that’s well over 90% science fiction, I care mostly about two things: 1) the ideas implicit or explicit in the story (including small details), and 2) the story itself.

    Just about everything else is secondary. As far as language goes, I prefer clarity to anything else.

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  40. JohnSF says:

    @wr:
    Cordwainer Smith is a contender.

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  41. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: The NYT, along with the rest of the supposedly liberal MSM, really love their Dems-in-disarray stories. They’re not about to let facts, or well informed analysis, intrude. There’s a reason NYT allows comments only on editorials, and not all of them.

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  42. Modulo Myself says:

    @wr:

    Yes, it’s pretty good. I liked the High-Rise movie that came out a couple years ago as well.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Tom McCarthy but his books have a similar feel to Ballard. Remainder, I think, was brilliant.

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  43. JohnSF says:

    @wr:
    Olaf Stapledon albeit in a weird, and often very non-novelistic way.
    David Lindsay, also for the weirdness, in a different way, in A Voyage to Arcturus
    Possibly C.S. Lewis “anti-science fiction” trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength.
    William Morris News From Nowhere a possible.

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  44. steve says:

    I mostly agree with Kathy about what to value in sci fi, however, there are a number of series I stopped reading because they became unbearable with lack of character development. The wife always laughs when I tell this, but it is easier for me to suspend disbelief and accept aliens and spaceships rather that the hero is surrounded by beautiful women (the women in the stories are mostly beautiful) and not getting laid because they are waiting for the right person or cant make up their mind.

    Steve

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  45. Mister Bluster says:

    Whistleblower: Facebook will lose money if they fix algorithm. And they know it
    Ha! Facebook can’t make any money now. Site looks to be down (can’t find server) at least not working via Safari or Chrome.
    Maybe they are reviewing their policies…Ha! Ha!

    Now here’s the EDIT key.

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  46. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Their entire enterprise–Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus–seems to be suffering DNS issues.

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  47. Jay L Gischer says:

    My list if sci-fi writers with really good prose style and character development includes Zelazny and Vonnegut. It also includes Douglas Adams. Adams himself once said that he didn’t think of himself as a sci-fi writer, but a humorist that happened to write about spaceships and aliens. But then, he continued, it must be observed that the space ships and aliens keep showing up in his work.

    Frankly, I’m with Harlan Ellison in that I don’t make that strong a division between sci-fi and fantasy. It’s all “speculative fiction”. AND, that allows me to include another humorist, Terry Prachett. Pratchett’s work, as a whole, serves to illuminate his views on what civilization is, and how it works. He does this while being very funny, because, as Ursula LeGuin (great stylist, great ideas, only average on narrative structure IMHO) once wrote “It wouldn’t be the Tao if there weren’t jokes about it”.

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  48. Mister Bluster says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:..DNS issues

    I only use FB of all those. I already miss our local Town site. Citizens are fast to post video of the cops using excessive force on 15 year old HS students who forget to remove their back packs before entering the local Quik Shop. Moderators are fast to remove said videos as they fear liability issues.

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  49. George says:

    @CSK:

    If non-Americans are included, I’d say Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” was a definite contender for first high literature science fiction. And Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and Orwell’s “1984” both qualify as literature and science fiction.

    And of course Jules Verne had a whole host of literature level science fiction stories.

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  50. JohnSF says:

    @JohnSF:
    That comment lost the last line in a mangled edit:
    All non-American, though.

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  51. CSK says:

    @George:
    I mentioned Verne, though Kylopod contends his work hasn’t aged well.

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  52. flat earth luddite says:

    @MarkedMan:
    mon dieu, but of course French interests should be paramount the world over. After all, we are the French!

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  53. Modulo Myself says:

    @CSK:

    I think that ‘genre’ fiction has a scale that can crowd out actual reality, and that there are good reasons behind not wanting to be SF, or any kind of ‘genre’. Who’s a greater fuck-up? Saruman for yielding to his lust for power or Isabel Archer for marrying Gilbert Osmond and perhaps being stuck with him forever?

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  54. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Rex Chapman
    @RexChapman

    Kindness. Pass it on…

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  55. Jen says:

    Gov. DeSantis’s wife Casey has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

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  56. keef says:

    Breaking News:

    The Big Guy has offered to give up his 10% if China will quit violating Taiwanese air space. NBC is reporting that Chairman Xi, a noted NASCAR fan, was heard to respond “Let’s go Brandon!!”

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  57. JohnSF says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I’m still inclined to think that the State Department didn’t intend to treat France the way the State Department did.
    Every thing that has happened since points to the “failure to notify” being primarily due to Scott Morrison’s decisions, and based on Morrison and Johnson both desiring a row with France, and State not understanding what was going on until the storm broke.

    It is not as if France, from the American point of view, had some magic means of preventing the deal if the US and Australia were agreed on it. They have zero leverage in such a case.
    Not telling France has no upside for the US.

    As to why Morrison chose that course, the reasons almost certainly lie in Australian politics, not relations with France, and Morrison’s relations with the conservative faction closely aligned with Rupert Murdoch’s New International, which was calling for a nuclear strategy, and the scrapping of the French deal, from the outset.

    It is these domestic political factors, and that the submarine deal is regarded by many Australians, including staunchly pro-US conservatives, as damaging to national defence, that make me think that the whole SSN deal could easily fall apart after Morrison leaves office.

    Getting the AUKUS deals (whatever the heck they actually ARE) over-identified with one faction in Australian politics is probably not a great outcome for the US.

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  58. Jen says:

    QAnon loons are rattling on about how FB, Instagram, and WhatsApp being down are the beginning of 10 days of darkness (the electrical grid is next, according to them) and that Trump will be reinstated at the end of this period.

    Crazy, crazy, crazy.

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  59. Jen says:

    @Neil J Hudelson: Well, this is strange.

    The entire domain is gone? Does that make sense?

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  60. JohnSF says:

    @flat earth luddite:
    After all, we are the {insert any given nation with aspirations to be a Power here}

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  61. Jay L Gischer says:

    I can only think of two technical reasons for a DNS blackout of facebook.com. One is ridiculous incompetence on the part of FB, and the other is a concerted DOS attack centered on DNS servers. Given there are other properties with the same problem, my money is on #2. Off to go see what the breaking news is…

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  62. Mu Yixiao says:
  63. Modulo Myself says:

    Speaking of tech issues, I’m having an SSL problem with my 2015 Macbook which started on 9/30. This site, for example, comes up on all of my browsers with the error: NET::ERR_CERT_DATE_INVALID. I don’t get this error on my work computer (a PC) or my phone. Just my Macbook.

    I can get to this site on Opera and Chrome but I have to post on Safari. Other sites, like wikipedia, were blocked completely. I had to go into my keychain access and alter wikipedia’s certificate. I have a friend who does IT with Macs and he pointed me to that fix. That was beyond me. I’m guessing my OS needs to be changed to something more recent, but the computer is otherwise humming along, and I’m hesitant to switch.

    Anyone else having this problem?

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  64. Jay L Gischer says:

    Hmm, there are reports that facebook.com was up for sale for a bit, but that does not seem to be the case now. (For instance, see https://lookup.icann.org/lookup). This definitely seems the work of hackers. A prank, a protest, or something intended for financial gain in some way?

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  65. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ll throw Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) into the mix, though I don’t know that he’d love being called a science fiction writer.

    Along those lines Kurt Vonnegut should be added in here.

    [Edit] and I see that @Kylopod jumped in there as well. And big +1 to @George’s suggestions.

    And while she is probably more “second wave” of literary science fiction, let’s not forget Octavia Butler playing a big role in literary Sci Fi–in particular “Kindred.”

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  66. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    With FB down, how are we supposed to obtain a Facebook IT degree to determine why FB is down?

    You’re right. It makes no sense.

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  67. dazedandconfused says:

    @Michael Cain:
    I’ve been wondering how the laws will work, if solar panels on everybody’s roofs become common. What happens, legally speaking, when a neighbor’s trees become tall enough to halve or more someone else’s supply of power?

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  68. Mister Bluster says:

    @Jen:..Trump will be reinstated at the end of this period.

    The first thing that Trump will do once he is back in power is make Keef the Head of The Ministry of Truth.

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  69. dazedandconfused says:

    @wr:

    As science fiction is the mythology, it started with Melville. Moby Dick the first great work of American science fiction.

    At the time the world was just barely charted, there was still a lot of mystery as to exactly was out there and a lot of ships still just disappeared without a trace. The sailing ships were the starships of that time.

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  70. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @keef:

    Have you ever seen a comic try out his hyper-local material while on the road?

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  71. Kylopod says:

    I remember reading that Edgar Allan Poe is often cited as having written early sci-fi, though I can’t quite remember any works of his which would qualify; he’s better known as a pioneer in the horror and detective genres.

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  72. Jen says:

    @Mu Yixiao: OMG:

    this is most likely a case of Facebook network engineers pushing a config change that inadvertently locked them out, meaning that the fix must come from data center technicians with local, physical access to the routers in question. The withdrawn routes do not appear to be the result of nor related to any malicious attack on Facebook’s infrastructure.

    I…wow. Just incredible. It’s going to take them ages to fix that.

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  73. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Jen:

    And, apparently, they can’t get to the servers because they employee access cards aren’t working.

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  74. Kathy says:

    Bet no one ever thought “Captain Kirk heading into space” would someday be headline news.

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  75. Jen says:

    @Mu Yixiao: If this was an accident–and from what I’ve seen/read, that’s the likely explanation–it’s astonishing how many points of failure have failed.

    I am gobsmacked.

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  76. inhumans99 says:

    Folks, Keef’s somewhat daily drive-by posts are starting to remind me of the 5 O’Clock Charlie episode of MASH. In the episode this poor soul flies over the 4077th and drops one bomb daily from a Cessna type plane in the hopes of hitting what he believes is an ammo dump. Of course 5 O’Clock Charlies always misses the mark, but his regularity in trying complete his task becomes an anticipated event around the 4077th and folks start betting on how far from the mark he will miss his mark, and it is considered one of the better episodes (at least I think it is a top tier episode).

    That is Keef, always coming in for a drive-by post, and always seeming to miss his mark. Not to mention that you need to decipher what point you think he is trying to make with his post, and only then can you say to yourself, aha, I think I get what he was going for with his post but cue up the sad trombone because any cursory attempt at a deep dive into his post and the point he thinks he has made falls apart.

    Keef as 5 O’Clock Charlie, I feel like it tracks.

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  77. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    Now how do they tie Facebook, ten days of darkness, and the triumphal return of Trump together?

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  78. Jen says:

    @CSK: Aren’t some of those loons crypto currency nuts as well?

    That’s not going great today either:

    Crypto firm mistakenly sends out $89M, asks users to please return it

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  79. Joe says:

    @Jen:

    It’s going to take them ages to fix that.

    In the meantime, civility and world peace will probably break out. It’s like the cities becoming smog free a few weeks into the 2020 lock down.

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  80. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    Oh. My. God.
    Good luck with that endeavor.

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  81. Jay L Gischer says:

    Ok, it’s looking like my take of malice is mostly wrong. Yeah, there’s probably some pranking going on in response to the outage. What I’ve gleaned from this very technical thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28748203) is that the primary cause appears to be an issue triggered by a reconfiguration of some Border Gateway Protocol reconfiguration, either by FB routers or by peers, I’m not sure. This created a cyclical dependency issue, it seems.

    What do I mean by “cyclical dependency”? Well, consider if you forgot your password to log in to your computer. But that’s ok, because you wrote it down. Of course, having written it down, you wanted to keep it secure, so you put it in a safe. And of course the safe has a combination that you want to remember, too, so you put it in a file.

    On your computer.

    Which you can’t log in to.

    That’s a cyclical dependency. And of course, adaptations to COVID make things worse. Also, a NYTimes reporter is saying she’s spoken with FB employees that say their cards won’t let them in the building. That can’t help.

    Honestly, this sort of situation is what the word “cluster***k” is made for.

    ADDENDUM: I see most of this is already posted upthread. Carry on!

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  82. Michael Cain says:

    @Jen: I have a friend and former colleague who once mistyped a command at a network operations center outside Denver and disconnected large chunks of the UK from the internet. Fixing it required waking someone in the UK up at 3:00 in the morning because they had to physically attach a laptop to the serial port on the router for one of the main US-UK fiber cables.

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  83. wr says:

    @Jay L Gischer: If this keeps up for more than a couple of days, Facebook is going to have to send their employees out on the road to go to the homes of adolescent girls and tell them in person they’re fat, they’re ugly, and no one likes them.

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  84. CSK says:

    @wr:
    I’m so glad I went to high school before social media existed. It was quite bad enough then without Facebook et al.

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  85. CSK says:

    One of Trump’s megadonors, Ken Griffin, has bailed on The Former Guy.

    ReplyReply
  86. Mister Bluster says:

    I’ve got Facebook. Didn’t even have to log in.

    ReplyReply
  87. Mister Bluster says:

    Just logged out of FB and logged back in. IT”S BAAAAAACK!!!!

    ReplyReply
  88. JohnSF says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    And, just for a few hours, the world thought there was hope of deliverance. 🙁

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  89. Mister Bluster says:

    @JohnSF:..deliverance

    First thing I see is a great pic of two friends of mine who are fine, decent human beings!
    Our paths don’t cross much anymore due to the disease. I’m glad to see them.

    Besides I missed my Railfan videos.

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  90. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Hm. That was a very short ten days.

    Has Benito the Cheeto reinstated himself yet?

    ReplyReply
  91. CSK says:

    I can log into Facebook, but then I get a message saying that it will be back “very soon.”

    ReplyReply
  92. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..Has Benito the Cheeto reinstated himself yet?..

    I’m sure he’s taking credit for fixing the FB outage. Likely did it with his landline touchtone phone.

    ReplyReply
  93. JohnSF says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    It’s a pity that Facebook can’t revert to being the relatively benign tool for inter-personal contact it started out as.
    Drop the solipsistic enabling news-feed, and stamp on the malicious disinformation propagation instead of just relentlessly snaring every possible last cent of ad revenue for Zuck’s bank account ego trip.
    The silly thing about the FB strategy is that finally provoking governmental regulation will probably hurt them a lot more than would just exercising a bit of common-sense self restraint.
    Ho hum.

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  94. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @sam: The author makes a good argument. Still, I find myself reluctant to call James Bond novellas “literature.” One of the reasons I feel that way is because I read Ian Fleming, but I generally don’t read what my peers have called “literature.”* Something in my contrary nature and crackerness, I suppose.

    * I just realized that there is one exception to my rule, if you will, on reading literature. I occasionally select a book that people claim to be a selection counting as literature to read at night. They put me to sleep very efficiently.

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  95. Jen says:

    Apparently, the Trump people didn’t realize that as a board member, Lewandowski couldn’t just be canned. So, they’ve launched the “Make America Great Again, Again” PAC as a way around him, since Lewandowski is apparently refusing to step down.

    So many clowns. So few cars.

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  96. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    Now, hold on. Benito may be on to something.

    Since he won’t get Biden, and Harris, and Pelosi, to step down either, he should just set up another country. Maybe his boyfriend has some spare land near the Chinese border, some place nice where he can build a wall for cheap.

    ReplyReply
  97. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    Perhaps he could set up next door to the Jewish Autonomous Oblast of Birobidzhan?
    A place I came across in some Soviet literature years ago, and has intrigued me ever since.

    It is one of two official Jewish jurisdictions in the world, the other being Israel.

    Oddly enough, Russian Jews not all that keen; peaked at about 16% of the population in 1939, now only 1%.

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  98. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: My guess would be that Poe gets credit for writing sci fi in the same vein that Frankenstein gets regarded as sci fi. Today is my first experience with having that novel described at sci fi, but it’s been 2o years since I taught literature and times, tastes, and perceptions change.

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  99. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “Now how do they tie Facebook, ten days of darkness, and the triumphal return of Trump together?”

    Any way they want to. It’s their religion; they get to make their own rules.

    ReplyReply
  100. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Well, that makes as much sense as anything QAnon does. Which is to say, very little.

    ReplyReply
  101. JohnSF says:

    @CSK:
    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    And I beheld when the Lamb opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

    Or else someone just forgot to pay the electricity bill again.

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  102. JohnSF says:

    I actually happened across a thread (reddit IIRC) while following a link chain from a new item on the Q-Anon reaction to the election, which got into a mashup of somewhat non-canonical Biblical prophecy, geometric whackadoodle, and (ahem) normal Q-Anon.
    My word, those folks are out there!

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  103. OzarkHillbilly says:

    When it comes to SciFi, for me, tell me a good yarn. I want a story that pulls me in. That’s it. Yes character development is part of that. So is plot line. So is prose. Mostly tho, I want a story. Whether it’s history, science, nature, cooking, wood working, philosophy, fiction… Tell. Me. A. Story.

    Come to think of it, that’s the most important part of anything I read. I can figure out the rest of it. Tell me a story. If you don’t have a story to tell, why are you writing?

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