Putting the life back in science fiction


The Malthus-Boserup Ratchet
February 7, 2017, 11:05 pm
Filed under: climate change, Oceania, sustainability, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

This is an idea I picked up from Patrick Kirch.  While it is used to explain population growth by Polynesian archaeologists, I’m starting to wonder if it can be repurposed to a wider context.  The basic idea starts with the notion that, just perhaps, Malthus was wrong.

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The Way of the Island Locust

Sorry for the click-bait title, this has nothing to do with martial arts.  It’s a reference to a post I wrote in December 2015 about humans being locust-like in our ability to have mass outbreaks when and where conditions are right.  My idea was that we call these outbreaks civilization.  I came at this from the biology side, but of course the anthropologists and archaeologists have been looking at the same phenomenon in their own way for quite a long time.  Over Christmas, I ran into a highly readable version of their thinking based on archaeology and anthropology from Oceania, one of my favorite regions, and…

well, there hangs a substory.  I was originally going to post this after Christmas, but I realized I didn’t quite understand what was going on.  So I read more books by the same author (Patrick Kirch), developed some germ of understanding about what he thinks is going on, and finally looked up to realize that it’s been a long time since I posted last.  Anyway, if you want to read about my holiday reading, aka how a small group of people settled the Pacific using mostly indigenous resources and founded one and possibly two archaic, pristine states, then read more after the jump.

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2017 Predictions, Piled Higher and Deeper
January 5, 2017, 11:02 pm
Filed under: 2017, climate change, futurism, Speculation | Tags: ,

Over Christmas, we had all the relatives over, and our beloved nieces gave us their colds.  Well, I’m not sure it’s just a cold, because I’ve been spiking a fever every evening for the last week, but we loved seeing them anyway.

All this is in explanation for why I haven’t said anything over the holidays.

Anyway, 2017 predictions.  I’ll throw mine out, and feel free to add yours at the end.

BEFORE I START, HERE’S A WARNING: if there’s any US online publication that you need for climate science or anything else, download that sucker before January 20th.  There’s no reason to think it will be available on the 21st, although hopefully the Wayback Machine and international mirror sites will help.

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2016 Predictions: The roadkill edition
December 27, 2016, 5:35 pm
Filed under: 2016, climate change, Hot Earth Dreams, Speculation, Uncategorized | Tags:

As 2016 waits for the knackers, I figured I’d go back to the predictions I made last January to see how far off I was.  While yes, I understand that I’m not supposed to look backwards, because the past is gaining on us and they’ve got the original papers on what we owe the future, well, I’m still a pessimist, so let’s see what I got wrong.  Or right.   Continue reading



From here to Technofeudalism (or not)
December 18, 2016, 6:48 pm
Filed under: 2016, futurism, Speculation | Tags: ,

This was prompted by a comment by Wolfgang Brinck on the last post, that we’re going into a feudal society, with the capitalists in the place of the feudal lords of the Middle Ages.  It’s not that simple, of course, but here’s a way we could conceivably get to something resembling that state. Continue reading



The Gordian Knot of 21st Century Small Farms
December 16, 2016, 3:55 am
Filed under: organic gardening, Worldbuilding | Tags:

This is something I’ve been thinking about since November.  One of the big political cries in the US, on both ends of the political spectrum, was some form of increased isolationism, framed mostly as getting the US out of various entanglements in various countries, and investing in the many, many places that have been left behind by globalization.

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Interesting Times
December 11, 2016, 1:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

To quote Talking Points Memo: “Trump’s administration ends up being made up of plutocrats, right wing extremists and generals. Basically, exactly what you should have expected, unless you were stupid.”  Yes, El Cheeto Grande is probably a Russian tool, yes, the electors should do their jobs and hire someone else, not that I expect them to, and yes, this looks like another coup for Big Oil, which is in bed with both Russia and many US politicians, most especially those in the Republican Party (many of the latter might be chained to the bed, but that’s a different industry).

When I wrote Hot Earth Dreams, I naively thought that our addiction to oil was self-inflicted, that it was more about us not willing or able to break the habit than about having the pushers put guns to our heads to forcibly derail any attempts to get off oil, by, say, going solar, getting an electric car, or paying attention to what the climate is doing.  That’s another thing that needs to change in the next edition of Hot Earth Dreams.  We do have solutions, but we’re being prevented from implementing them.  It’s not our own moral weakness.

I’ll also point out that there are parallels here with both what the tobacco industry did in the 20th century and what the slave industrial complex did in the 19th century.  In that latter case, remember what happened when we forced the issue?  Well, when someone launches a carbon-neutral cyberwar, that will be the 21st Century equivalent of the American Civil War, on a global scale.  However, we’re not yet so embedded in our Internet of Things that we’re sufficiently vulnerable to such attacks.  Yet.  Want to get that internet-enabled burglar alarm for Christmas?  Maybe you should buy it for those embarrassing family members who voted red in November.  Don’t tell them how to change the password, either.

Actually, I didn’t want to talk about this stuff, but reality keeps interfering with my plans to write a nice, philosophical piece about the problems with populism, isolationism, and the whole back-to-the-land meme that we all seem to turn to as the cure for all ills, right or wrong.  Oh well.  Instead, I’d rather talk about the weather.

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