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A Dystopian Trilogy Worth Your Time

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

[by J. Scott Shipman]

Wool, by Hugh Howey

Shift, by Hugh Howey

Dust, by Hugh Howey

Friends, In 2013 I read Hugh Howey’s Wool after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal. Howey’s is a cinderella story; he wrote his novel in installments at his blog, and his story, Wool was picked up by a publisher. The response was so overwhelming, Howey wrote Shift, which is a very good prequel and Dust picks up the story to the conclusion.

I gave away my paper copy of Wool  a couple years ago, but was pleased to see a graphic novel of the same title by Jimmy Palmiotti (Author), Justin Gray (Author), Hugh Howey (Author), Jimmy Broxton (Illustrator), Darwyn Cooke (Illustrator). The graphic novel filled in the gaps of my memory and helped visualize Howey’s imaginative and frightening new world below ground.

This trilogy is summer reading at its best. Story has duplicitous politicians, brave idealists and truly clever on-the-fly tactics—and a bit of not-too-syrupy true love. Howey is a gifted storyteller and weaves a credible yarn of a future where humanity is consigned to silos buried within the earth and surrounded by a poisonous atmosphere.

Strong recommendation!

 

 

Black Swan (bookstore) vs Red Hen (restaurant)

Monday, July 9th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — a parallelism post, more than one about free speech and civility ]
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Lexington, VA, and Richmond, VA, the logos:

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A neatly observed opposition, more or less a natural DoubleQUote, between the Black Swan incident where a fellow customer assaulted Steve Bannon verbally in a bookstore and the restaurant incident where the owner of the Red Hen restaurant ejected Sarah Huckabee Sanders, saying her views did not conform to the ethic — or should that be ethos — of the restaurant:

Now from a purely amateur natural history perspective, in a match between a black swan and a red hen, muy money is on the swan every time, as I trust Nassim Nicholas Taleb would agree. And Nabokov too, for that matter.

From a popular consumer interest perspective, if the match is bookstore vs restaurant, restaurant wins hands down — but I’d go with bookstore, especially if it’s a used bookstore..

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As to civility vs freedom of expression, thank God I’m not a cop or a judge — I require both. And that’s certainly a paradox, and probably a koan our society will have to face one of these days.

Steve Bannon as a person I find intriguing to the point of sympathy, because he’s read many of the oddball authors I have, though my resulting observations come out of left field, and his out of right..

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But none of that is what ultimately draws me to this post, it’s the delicious double parallelism of red vs black, swan vs hen.

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I’ve been wondering, putting together this post, whether the bookstore is named for NN Taleb’s celebrated book, or for the wildly popular ballet film of thet name:

Btw, Vogelgesang is birdsong: hen cluck, swan song.

Sweden — maybe a little too transparent for comfort?

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — the wholesalest leak of secrets evvah ]
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Whether you think with the poet Rabbie Burns, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, gang aft agley” or with the strategist Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy”, you may not have been too surprised when the Jeff Goldblum character in Jurassic Park preaches Chaos theory and says, “One thing the history of evolutuon has taught us is that life will not be contained .. it crashes through barriers .. life finds a way.”

Goldblum is right of course, which is why not so long after, there’s a velociraptor loose in the kitchen:

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All of which is to say: there’s no planning for human hubris and idiocy.

Case in mind-blowing point:

Worst known governmental leak ever is slowly coming to light: Agency moved nation’s secret data to “The Cloud”

This would be laughable, except..

Sweden’s Transport Agency moved all of its data to “the cloud”, apparently unaware that there is no cloud, only somebody else’s computer. In doing so, it exposed and leaked every conceivable top secret database: fighter pilots, SEAL team operators, police suspects, people under witness relocation. Names, photos, and home addresses: the list is just getting started. The responsible director has been found guilty in criminal court of the whole affair, and sentenced to the harshest sentence ever seen in Swedish government: she was docked half a month’s paycheck.

Just a sample:

Last March, the entire register of vehicles was sent to marketers subscribing to it. This is normal in itself, as the vehicle register is public information, and therefore subject to Freedom-of-Information excerpts. What was not normal were two things: first, that people in the witness protection program and similar programs were included in the register distributed outside the Agency, and second, when this fatal mistake was discovered, a new version without the sensitive identities was not distributed with instructions to destroy the old copy. Instead, the sensitive identities were pointed out and named in a second distribution with a request for all subscribers to remove these records themselves. This took place in open cleartext e-mail.

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Oh, and I think this qualifies as a Black Swan.

Dept of Unintended Consequences

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — whether a fabricated meme or true to life, this surely counts as a fine & fun example of the unanticipated ]
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Quelle surprise!

Concerning the Future — black swans & white

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — in concern, yes — and hope ]
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timeline-with-swans-sm

I know which I’d choose — but I can’t speak for the powers that be (Ephesians 6.12 included).

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Here’s a paragraph from David Barno and Nora Bensahel, The Future of the Army: Today, Tomorrow, and the Day After Tomorrow:

Some future developments can be predicted, but others will be unexpected and unforeseen. “Black swans” —- unpredictable events with very serious consequences — will be as inevitable then as they have been in the past.105 In 2000, for example, no analyst could have possibly foreseen all of today’s disparate security challenges—the 9/11 attacks, the rise of al-Qaeda and ISIS, a resurgent Russia annexing Crimea and threatening neighbors with force, and China building artificial islands in the South China Sea from which to project power, among others. Unpredicted and unpredictable events will indubitably disrupt sober defense planning and could shift US defense priorities in an instant — especially if there were a nuclear exchange overseas or if a weapon of mass destruction were used against the homeland.

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I’m somewhat sceptical of the polling methodology used by the Lincoln Leadership Initiative to generate these conclusions reported by The Hill:

Among those who say they will vote for Trump, 48 percent say he’ll create a database to track Muslims? 36 percent say there will be race riots? 33 percent say the government would default on its debt? and 32 percent say Trump would punish his political opponents and authorize internment camps for illegal immigrants.

Only 22 percent of Trump supporters believe he will start a nuclear war.

Whatever the reliability of the poll — and I’ve asked — it seems clear that at least some potential voters believe Donald Trump, if elected president, might use nuclear weapons, perhaps in the fight against ISIS.

I’d call the database, the race riots and the debt default that Barno and Bensahel mentiom black cygnets at best, but the prospect of nuclear war almost qualifies IMO as a full-on black swan — and I’d refer you back to the final sentence of the Barno-Bensahel quote above:

Unpredicted and unpredictable events will indubitably disrupt sober defense planning and could shift US defense priorities in an instant — especially if there were a nuclear exchange overseas or if a weapon of mass destruction were used against the homeland.

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Barno-Bensahel sat they would consider a nuclear exchange a black swan in their chapter on 2020-2035, whereas Trump’s first term, if he were to be elected president, would barely touch the beginning o0f that range — so that particular black swan, if it is one, might conceivably occur quite soon.

But note that word “conceivable” — a true black swan, to my way of thinking, would be something that hadn’t even occurred as a possibility to forward thinking folks like David Barno — indeed not even, with all due respect, to John Robb.

And Barno-Bensahel predict out to 2040.

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My own predictive vision as a student of wisdom literature and propecies of various kinds shows me the following timeline:

timeline-with-swans

It goes without saying that I could be wrong — a whiter shade of swan might make all the difference.


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