Putting the life back in science fiction


The anarchist lich cult of intergenerational wealth
June 6, 2019, 11:55 pm
Filed under: American politics, book, economics, Legacy Systems, Speculation, Uncategorized

Time to use the blog to take a break from real life.  With our overheating hot local economy, there are numerous and problematic developments going through.  Since I work on conservation issues for an NGO, I’ve my energy the last three months dealing with all these projects, writing letters and testifying.  It’s basically something new every week.  I won’t get a serious break until the next recession, looks like.  Or until I write a blog entry.

Anyway, I haven’t been completely busy, and I have had time to read.  This isn’t a book review, more of an impressionistic rant based on some of the stuff I’ve been reading.  In part as opposition research, in part as research for how to write a wealthy villain, in part because it sounded cool in a radio interview, a few months ago I read (and recommend) Brooke Harrington’s Capital without Borders.  It’s a sociological study of wealth managers, the profession that helps the super-rich hide their money through offshore financial centers.  Prof. Harrington did a really neat study: she embedded herself in the community by taking (and passing) the wealth management training and certification course, interviewing as she went.  She was quite open about what she was doing, but because she has exquisite people skills and put in her time in the trenches studying with the rest of the students, passing the tests and getting credentialed, she got wealth managers to open up to her and to talk about their world and the clients they serve.  Her book is a very lucid exploration of an industry that prides itself on discretion and secrecy.  This book necessarily is about the nuts and bolts of how things work.  Anecdotes are used to illustrate more than titillate, and all of the identifying details are stripped off. Continue reading

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The Blue Sky Tipping Point
February 25, 2019, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Altithermal, climate change, deep time, Hot Earth Dreams, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Got some new climate science to talk about, yay! Actually, it’s not good news, but it is fairly solid model evidence for tipping point, up around 1200 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere (as I write this, we’re around 410.81 ppm).

The cause of the tipping point is Continue reading



Predictions for 2019
December 27, 2018, 5:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Although I didn’t realize that my last post was July 14.  I’ve been busy with stuff I can’t talk about (not writing a book, sadly) and family issues.

It being the end of 2018, what to predict for 2019? Continue reading



Vegetation on a Red Dwarf world

I’ve been running a blog post on Antipope while the owner is otherwise occupied.  Part of that posting was a short riff on what it would be like to colonize an earth-like world that orbits a red dwarf star Rather than bore that (largely techie) crowd over there to tears with an extended botanical geek-out, I figured I’d post it for the smaller, more discerning group here.

Here’s the question du jour: what would plants look like on a red dwarf world? Continue reading



Hot Earth Dreams, 2.5 years on
June 22, 2018, 4:26 pm
Filed under: futurism, Hot Earth Dreams, Uncategorized | Tags:

Sorry for not blog posting.  We’ve been in the middle of a housing blitz, wherein developers, aided and abetted by the County of San Diego, are trying to ram through a bunch of high end, environmentally damaging housing developments.  They realized we’re slow to respond, so they’re trying to inundate us.

Still, I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about Hot Earth Dreams, which was published back at the end of 2015.  Before I published it, I seriously considered sending it to a conventional publisher.  Aside from its unconventional format and my lack of a guaranteed audience as a Celebrity Scientist, the problem with conventionally publishing  was that (given the normal one year lag between submission and appearance) it would have been published in December 2016.  While I didn’t think we’d have the politics we currently have, I did think it would disappear in the media noise.

The book’s sold pretty well.  While it didn’t sell well enough to immediately make the jump to commercial success, it’s still selling a few copies every quarter, all over the world.  The reviews on Amazon have been mostly positive, too, surprisingly for a book on climate.  Thanks to all who reviewed it!

Hot Earth Dreams actually changed my life, in good and bad ways.  One good (?) way is that it got me seriously engaged in climate activism.  I’d originally intended the book more as a source-book for writing cli-fi, but once I had some idea of where we’re likely headed, I couldn’t just sit back and profiteer off it.  I had to get involved.  One bad (?) change is that I’ve had to deal with anxiety issues ever since.  You can’t live with even a speculative apocalypse for three years and not be affected by it.  My coping strategy is meditation, and it does help quite a bit.

But I’ll bet you might be wondering what comes next, and the answer is yes, I am planning a substantial rewrite. A lot has changed since I started writing in 2012.  Back then, I was struggling, a chapter at a time, to understand what was going on.  After sitting with all the information for years, I have a better idea of how all my half-formed ideas fit together.  Rather more importantly, there’s been quite a lot of scholarship since the 2012-2015 timeframe I was writing in, and some of it has been quite useful.  And then, of course, I got a bunch of comments.  Most of them were about typos, but a few were substantive, and all were welcome.

So yes, there will be a new version of Hot Earth Dreams coming out sometime.  I hope it will be in 2019, but given politics and life, who knows?  It will be a different book, one aimed a bit more at helping people, as well as a source-book for the distant future.  Perhaps this gives you something to look forward to?



The Doom of California (?)
April 27, 2018, 12:51 am
Filed under: California, climate change, futurism, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Since Weather West’s latest blog post and paper in Nature Climate Change got a lot of media attention, why not feed him even more links?  Anyway, the blog post is cool, the NCC paper is paywalled and I haven’t gotten around to asking him (Daniel Swain, the genius behind Weather West) for a copy yet.  And I figured I’d get back to talking about climate change for a post or two.

Continue reading



The hole-y multiverse theory

Hi, I’m avoiding writing yet another response to yet another badly conceived development.  So I’m wasting time writing a blog post.  This here dubious speculation is something I cooked up over on Antipope a little while ago, and just to make it easier to find the idea and mock it (or whatever), I figured I’d write it up here.  This is my two-bit, I’m-not-even-good-at-physics-let-alone-a-cosmologist take on multiverse formation.  Read it in that spirit.

As background, I’ve come to the conclusion that a rational society, especially an interstellar society, could do worse than to revere black holes.  After all, without SgrA*, the giant black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way wouldn’t exist and neither would we, so that’s our creator, at least in the local sense.  Since it appears that our ruling demon sultan SgrA* may be surrounded by a swarm of lesser black holes, I sometimes wonder if we should rename SgrA* “Azathoth.”  Especially if it turns out that those lesser black holes are emitting either drum-like beats of gravitational waves and/or monotonous, radio-frequency fluting whines.  Unfortunately, calling our creator and ultimate doom “Azathoth” would enshrine a rather nasty bit of islamophobia that Lovecraft emitted.  But none of that’s the point here.

Continue reading