Thursday, December 1, 2016

How Climate Change elected Donald Trump



Morality is not a set of abstract rules handed down from on high, or intuited from the structure of the universe. It is a utility function that maximizes genetic fitness. We evolved morality as a response to the evolutionary pressures of social living. This means that as the environment changes, so do our intuitions of morality.

In other words, what people perceive to be moral depends on what what they perceive to benefit their chance of passing on their genes.

Climate change is an undeniable fact; sea levels will rise, and billions of people will be displaced. This is properly terrifying. Humans respond to fear by becoming more authoritarian. Donald Trump won on one and only one policy: anti-immigration. Racism and sexism were relevant, but only as expressions of this fear. Trump’s true allure was his authoritarianism, his promise to close the borders, and his sociopathy.

Because those are the qualities required to close the gates to a horde of refugees. To stand back and watch a billion people drown requires it. They voted for the most horrible person they could find, because they want him to do something horrible.

Around the world, racism, nativism, and tribalism are on the rise. People are girding themselves for the battle to come. Their real concern is not that refugees are brown or Muslim; those are useful categories but not necessary. It is their mere status as refugees that is frightening.

Climate change is mostly caused by rich nations; its pain will be borne most heavily by poor nations. We have already demonstrated that we will not give up our luxuries for their dying; how much less likely are we to suffer the real and measurable privation that would come with both reducing climate change and caring for the people it displaces.

Hillary Clinton (and for that matter, Bernie Sanders) represented inclusiveness. Their leadership would have steered the lifeboat closer, to rescue as many people as possible, even at the risk of capsizing. Trump represents the opposite: the boats that left the Titanic early, only half-full.

To leave the sinking ship in an orderly fashion saves the most lives, but it also requires trust. The Republicans dedicated the last thirty years to destroying trust in government and largely succeeded. Now we unpack the dog-whistles and see that Clinton was not “trustworthy,” because Clinton could not be trusted to row away from the drowning innocents.

Despite all their talk of Christian faith and climate skepticism, their actions reveal their fear. Not just buying guns, but hardening hearts, quelling empathy, embracing strength, celebrating savagery.

It is, in their perception, the best way to survive the coming flood.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Woman is the n****r of the world

John Lennon wrote those words a long time ago.

Nothing has changed.

The best qualified woman, the smartest person in the room, with a thirty-year of history of hard work, applied for a job. A drunken boor literally walked in off the street... and they gave the job to him.

In the end, the best woman was still worse than the worst man.

The Republicans paid no price for breaking our democratic traditions. No candidate will ever again release their taxes. No candidate will put his assets in a blind trust; the Presidency will be viewed as a vehicle for making money. No candidate will worry about fact checking - Trump stood up and lied to thousands about a video they could literally have checked on their phones and they didn't care. No candidate will worry about Constitutional rights of the citizenry: calling for police monitoring of religious groups will be just another campaign promise.

So many traditions were smashed tonight, in a way that Bush at his worst never dreamed of. This was not a partisan election; this was not between Republican policies and Democratic principles. This was either a revolt against the norms of democracy, or an act of negligent homicide.

Either way, the people said they wanted change; well, they'll get it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Judgment at Verdant Court review & give-away

Publisher's Weekly gave me a very nice review:

Fast-paced…. Planck’s writing is as straightforward and clever as his protagonist. Fans will enjoy diving headlong into the action.

And Pyr is running a give-away on Goodreads:
 https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/205734-judgment-at-verdant-court

Woot!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sword of the Bright Lady on sale

Barnes & Noble selected my book as part of their "start a new series" promotion, and since everything is electronic these days, Amazon price-matched the ebook.

So now you can buy Sword of the Bright Lady for $2.99. (Oddly, for $2.99 AU in Australia, too, despite the exchange rate).

It only lasts for a week, so start clicking!

In other news: Judgment at Verdant Court will be out Dec 9, and I am 40K words into Verdict on Crimson Fields. Planning on having it finished by Dec, but that means I need to stop watching "BrainDead" every night.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

And I heard a great clatter, as if all the irony meters in the galaxy were silenced...

Mike Pence slams Obama for name calling.
“I don’t think name calling has any place in public life.” 
Nietzsche was wrong. It's not God who died, but irony.

Trump was on Twitter while Pence was uttering these words, emitting his usual stream of name-calling such as "Little Mike Bloomberg" and "Crooked Hillary."

Baghdad Bob has come home.

Friday, July 1, 2016

It Happend One Doomsday

Got a copy of It Happened One Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton in the mail today. It's a fun, fast read about the Apocalypse being delivered in demonic muscle cars. Urban fantasy isn't my usual fare, but I liked this one, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Filling in the Drake equation

Yes, there have been aliens

The odds that we are the first and last technological civilization seem to be irrational, as the article says, now that we know how many planets exist that could support life.

Which, in it is way, is depressing; because it implies that the controlling factor of the Drake equation is "how long a technological civilization lives," and that factor must be very, very small.