Trekonomics – The Nightmare Ends- by Amanda S. Green



Trekonomics – The Nightmare Ends- by Amanda S. Green

The title of the post says it all. Perhaps, however, nightmare isn’t the correct word. Perhaps farce, or maybe even con, is more appropriate. After all, Trekonomics is a book that purports to be all about the economics of the Star Trek universe and yet the author does his best to avoid canon when it doesn’t suit his purposes and, when that fails, to pull out of thin air explanations for why what he says will happen.

I could continue looking at the book, chapter by chapter, but I’ll be honest. The author spends a lot of time saying basically the same thing. Like so many who hold out the socialist utopia, it is all hype and very little substance. So, we’ll fast-forward through most of it and hit the final “high points” of the book.

Let’s begin with this. Near the end, Saadia claims that if you believe Star Trek is about space travel, you are “taking it too literally.” Of course, he has to say that. Otherwise, none of his hand-wavium would make sense. Still, he isn’t to be deterred. He reminds us that, short of changes to the laws of nature, “highly improbable changes”, we will never have FTL travel. Nor will we have matter-antimatter reactors. Even though he doesn’t really address it, that probably means we won’t have replicators either. So how in the name of all that is holy are we supposed to reach this utopia he has painted for us?

According to him, we won’t, at least not if it is too far from our homes. He looks at history and says we are primarily a sedentary species, never travelling far from home. Exploration isn’t a “fundamental trait” of the human race. When we commute, we go the same route, rarely deviating, etc.

To say this is an oversimplification is putting it mildly. But then, what should we expect after the drivel we’ve gotten so far in the book?

If he says anything that is true, or close to it, it is the following:

Save for a few exceptions, the eccentric among us, we are stunningly incurious. As a species, we are mostly preoccupied with our day-to-day affairs, subsistence and such, and we free ride on the achievements of a few crazy ones.

The truth in the statement is that there are a number of people out there who are incurious. Others have bought into the sense of entitlement, happy to allow the state or someone else support them in the manner in which they would like to become accustomed. Yet, what Saadia doesn’t seem to realize is his own words condemn the Trek universe he has been championing for most of the book. After all, even though he says prosperity in the Trekverse is a universal sense of wanting to improve the state of life for all, aren’t they really simply happy to do whatever they want, knowing they will never need for anything? After all, there is no economy of shortcomings, of need, of limited resources. People don’t own the replicators, so they are relying on someone else – on the state – to provide them food, clothing, everything the replicators can manufacture for them.

Hmmm, has he ever heard of “the state gives and the state takes away”?

Saadia is also the master of the understatement without either recognizing or understanding the “why” of what he writes:

With development and the considerable improvements in standards of living brought on by the Industrial Revolution, the number and proportion of people involved in research and development has shot up.

My first thought as I read the above quote was “DUH”. Of course, the number and proportion of people shot up. They had more opportunities to join the research force. They weren’t having to go out and hunt for food or grow the crops. My second thought was that the nerds of the world could finally do what they wanted to do, what they were good at.

Where I really have the urge to reach through the computer screen to shake Saadia is when he climbs back on his soap box and begins his passive-aggressive bullshit about space travel and how he really doesn’t want to discourage the fanboys. But, he says, why don’t we use those resources instead to “to lift a billion people out of poverty?” Who knows how many Einsteins or other great thinkers we might have if we did. But even if we don’t find another Einstein, surely we’d get “30 or 40 million more engineers or programmers” from those we uplifted.


And pigs will fly then too.

Saadia’s ability to say, on the one hand, that the vast majority of people would rather have folks do for them and then, on the other hand, tell us we should find a way to pull a billion people out of poverty so we might – MIGHT – get additional engineers, etc. blows my mind. How in the hell are we supposed to pay for this? Who decides who gets the money and how much? He never answers the question. Instead, he uses it to show that Star Trek had it all backwards.


The Star Trek canon portrays the advent of the so-called new world economy as a consequence of the invention of the warp drive. . . I would go even further and say that faster-than-light travel and interstellar colonization are the most uneconomical of all imaginable endeavors for any civilization. You can’t finance them like the Dutch or English merchants financed ships in the seventeenth century. It won’t make you rich. There is no silver or sugar, no prized fruits from the pepper plant (Piper nigrum) to bring back from Sirius or Wolf 359 (not to mention that useless hellhole otherwise known as Mars).

My head is starting to hurt. Why would there be no “silver or sugar”, or something even more valuable to be found out in space? Why would we not be able to find resources we could use and that would propel even further innovation and invention? When the first explorers left Europe to find what existed on the other side of the sea, they didn’t know what they would discover? For all they knew, there really were dragons waiting to eat them. Saadia also assumes that the governments of the world are the only ones who would be able to fund such explorations. I look around now and see entrepreneurs like Elon Musk funding their own space programs. Who is to say there won’t be more like him in the future?

A species needs to achieve economic escape velocity first in order to spread through interstellar space.

He can almost get away with this comment. Except he overlooks the need to discover resources to replace the ones we have exhausted here on the Earth or the need for new places for humanity to expand to because we keep having babies (No, I don’t mean we are heading toward over-population anytime soon, not even in the next few generations.) It is just that Saadia makes these absolute statements and not once does he give solid arguments to support them.

Enough already with the space colonization nonsense! If anything, it is an expression of defeatism. It implies that this is not working out, “this” being Earth and the humans who live on it. It is an old pioneering fantasy. Let us build some kind of galactic Mayflower and leave this wretched and sinful place. It is as facile as it is misguided.

Now, how many of you read the above and didn’t get a little angry? In Saadia’s world, exploration is admitting defeat. He truly doesn’t take into consideration any of the very valid reasons why we might want, much less need, to expand beyond this world. Thank God, the early explorers didn’t believe as he did. Where would we be today if they had?

Here is the bottom line – or perhaps the punch line –for the book: “So no, the Vulcans are not coming. We are the Vulcans. Or rather, we must become the Vulcans—stoic, rational, altruistic. To me, that is the main lesson of Trek.”

Thank you, but no. I don’t want to become the Vulcans who turned their back on all that make humans unique. I’ll be a Ferengi or Klingon, even a Romulan or a Bajoran.

Saadia is quick, in a manner of speaking, to remind us of the Vulcan saying, “Live long and prosper”. In that greeting, “prosper” doesn’t mean gain personal wealth. The Vulcans are above all that evil capitalist schtick. To a good Vulcan, prosperity comes in the forms of accomplishments and service. It is the sort of prosperity “that arises from the cultivation of the mind rather than from greed, that antiquated and vulgar practice.”

So, if we are to go forward into the future, to head into space and to rise to the world of the oh-so-wonderful Trekverse, we must become walking, talking automatons, willing to stoically give to everyone else without expecting anything in return. Hand over your humanity, your emotion and your competitive spirit. March in lock-step with your fellow Federation citizen. The government will take care of you. It will give you a nifty replicator. You too can have everything you want, as long as it isn’t unique or too different from what your fellow citizens want or need.

Nope, if that is what being a citizen in the Federation entails, I don’t want to go there. Citizenship in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers universe is more enticing. At least the service there has a reward – citizenship. Either that or I want to live outside the Federation, a starfaring tramp steamer, a compass and the freedom to do what I want and go where I want is a lot more appealing than being part of the Stepford Federation.


198 thoughts on “Trekonomics – The Nightmare Ends- by Amanda S. Green

        1. Gentle hug and a transcontinental offer of the concept of a nice cuppa’. Hope you feel better soon.

          1. Am guessing cold, from very stuffy nose (main cause of can’t sleep) and mild headache. None of the familiar joint ache for flu.

            My poor boy apologised; he is usually the plague bringer, but I think I caught this one while on errands earlier this week, likely at the pharmacy when I went to get vitamins (irony!)

            Am planning a nice, garlicky, gingery chicken soup for tomorrow’s dinner. Yeah, that sounds really good…

            1. I love ginger in my chicken soup. Nobody believes me when I say it’s in there, though…

              1. Then you are doing it right. Too much ginger overwhelms the chicken flavor. Enough is a marvelous enhancement.

                1. When under the weather The Daughter and I both like ramen with indecent amounts of ginger and garlic. Sometimes we don’t wait until we are under the weather to indulge.

              1. Since I can’t send have a rough recipe:

                Roast chicken (because then it’s easier for me), whole
                2 chicken bouillon cubes, 1 litre chicken broth, 2 liters water, 2 cups chopped onions (we have them, diced and frozen), 1 onion soup mix, 3 tablespoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoons crushed ginger (they sell these in jars here), 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce or Asian ‘patis’ fish sauce, 250-500g mixed frozen veg (carrots, peas and corn).

                Boil together, then simmer 1 hour. Pull out chicken, and separate meat from bones, put meat back, stuffing if you like for extra flavor. Add 1 l water and shell or short macaroni pasta., simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked.

                This is approximate because I’ll adjust water and seasonings as cooking happens, until I think ‘it’s done.’ So adjust accordingly to your taste.

            1. [envisions elderly Chinese in elaborate costumes, then realizes she’s probably talking about brighly colored fruit shaped like M67 hand grenades]

              1. Mandarins would be cool. They’d bring their own servants to do the household tasks while they sit next to you and read to you, or discuss something with each other in a low, soothing voice… 🙂

                1. Then they co-opt you and take over from behind the scenes while leaving you to think that you’re in charge!

              1. I’ve found Zicam and its competitors to be especially effective, but you gotta start quick. Zinc works, I gather, by interrupting the initial cycle of infection. Once the cold/flu is established, it’s less effective.

                1. less effective, but still better than not using it. But yeah, I try to start zicam before it really sets in often as a “just in case” so I wonder how often it is just something else, or something I stopped before it got bad.
                  Considering how often those around me are sick when I manage to miss it, I will continue trying to stay atop of things.

  1. Exploration isn’t a “fundamental trait” of the human race. Expressing a stated opinion of the author of Treknomics

    With several continents that are full of people who left somewhere else, or whose ancestor did … even those that we refer to as natives on most continents ancestors migrated there, albeit a good while ago … and we are supposed to accept that?

    Oh well, never mind. As observed, if the fact are problematic to the thesis the author conveniently sets them aside.

    1. Seems to be fundamental trait of life. All those uninhabited, inhospitable places seem to have something growing there if you just really look.

    2. One of my great-great grandfathers had 18 children, 16 lived, 8 went to America, 8 stayed in Sweden. So in that case I suppose we could say that on that line my “fundamental” genetic traits are 50% exploration and 50% stay-at-home.

      But really, ALL life attempts to fill all available space. It started in the seas and colonized the land… that transition certainly was greater than moving into space, to “that useless hellhole otherwise known as Mars” which is no more antithetical to life than the primordial landmasses of Earth. (Not hyperbole… in order to move out of the seas the *life* in the seas had to create atmosphere, had to convert CO2, had to essentially terraform the Earth so that it was possible to leave the protection provided by the water.)

    3. yeah I was gonna say… he says that, knowing most of his likely readers live in the U.S…. with a straight face.

      1. Yes. My response was, “what???”. Not only did my ancestors, from both sides of the family, come to the East Coast early, they didn’t stay there more than a couple of generations. Only reason subsequent generations haven’t moved further west, is we’ve ran out of land & crossing the next ocean puts us back where migration started (“old” world). Even then it is a dice roll whether all of us stayed in one place, some did, & it may appear most did, but that is an illusion because there are so many of us.

        1. The twit doesn’t seem to grasp that most people do not travel because of lack of desire but because of lack of ability, either financial or social.

          1. Yes, look at all the tourism that booms when times are good. You see it all over, in many cultures with any kind of leisure time. Even in the middle ages, the middle to upper class would go on pilgrimages, essentially tourism.

    4. Yeah, that is a valid observation because all of us humans all live in caves in these small coastal enclaves in Africa eating only shellfish to survive.

      Oh, wait, humans left that entire continent, going boldly where no man had gone before (and then later on, going boldly where some other dudes went a while ago because, hey, new girls over thataway), looking for new things to kill and eat and founding new civilizations, and spreading out through aggressive exploration to every corner of this planet. When we had to invent new method of getting around to cross vast uncrossable bodies of oceans, we did that. When we needed to create new ways of looking at waves and sea and sky to find every little spec of land on the vast Pacific, we did that too.

      Humans Do Not Sit At Home.

      1. One of the best movers of humans has been war. People flee before the fighting, moving in to new territory. Soldiers see new places. Besides the raping and pillaging that made the DNA travel a bit, soldiers often resettled after the fighting was done. So some didn’t move because they wanted to but because they were forced to.

        Same goes for famine, plagues, and just plain curiosity. People may just want to sit for generations but nature has a way to keep things stirred up whether we want to or not. So we adapted.

        1. When I mentioned this line of discussion to The Daughter she observed that if humans had stayed put where they initially developed we would probably be extinct.

      2. As I’ve mentioned before, the rest of the great apes are territorial to the point of extinction. H. Sap. as a species isn’t; at least not down at the individual level, which is why it has filled every viable ecosystem on the planet.

        There’s no environmental reason there aren’t orangs and chimps in Missouri or Wales…

    5. I think it pretty solidly supports the impression that the author confuses “humanity” and “me.”

      Against all evidence, he wants to say humans don’t move around?!?!?

      1. Hey, you have to remember that Saadia is a person of Social Justice; the common clay that wants to be molded and formed by government to become the New Soviet Man; the unbaked bread roll of the village bakery; the harbinger of the bright future of everyone staying at home as ordered, eternally waiting for the replicator repairman, while the elite like Saadia get Earl Grey, Hot.

        You know,…

  2. “Let’s fix our problems here at home before we look to the stars.”

    Since there’s no way that will *ever* happen, it’s just a hippy-dippy way of saying “be nice and do what we tell you.”

    I thought I’d missed something with Saadia’s sharp turn to “it’s all a fantasy anyway, so be nice little socialist pegs”. Sometimes audiobooks are abridged oddly, and sometimes I miss things if I’m concentrating on what I’m supposed to be doing.

    1. 80% or more in America go to bed with completely full bellies, in bed with sheets and blankets, in a home with an intact roof over their heads, with working sewage and clean water, and relative security from intrusion during the night, knowing that they’ll have more than enough food tomorrow, and worrying about which combination of the dozens of clothes they’re going to wear.

      Sure as hell looks like our “problems” here at home ARE fixed.

      1. Oh, hell. The primary dietary problem of our poor is that they re too fat. That hasn’t happened much throughout history.

        When the Usual Suspects started schweeming about the ‘Obesity Epidemic’ (do these idiots think they’re going to catch fatness, like the common cold?), I wanted to shout from the rooftops “Hey! How about we CELEBRATE for a week before we worry about this?”

        1. Sure, they might as well turn “epidemic” into a non-word, like “disease.” Long ago “disease” (as least as it was taught in the curriculum I had) referred specifically to bacterial or viral infections. Now it’s used for anything from amputation to having a bad attitude.

          1. Actually, there is some evidence for obesity gut bugs, and for preliminary pancreas infections that cause diabetes being catchable.

            But they do not mean it like that.

        2. Ran into something interesting– someone FINALLY went and actually checked the foundation of the “obesity epidemic.” A couple of scientists did a whole random recruitment, measure BMI correctly, then actually check for signs of metabolic ill health.

          30% of “normal weight,” 50% of “over weight,” 70% of “obese” and 85% of “very obese” were metabolically unhealthy.

          That’s a barely acceptable false result for a screening mechanism, never mind a diagnosis.

          Oh, the kicker? The folks who actually bothered to get a decent sized sample rounded up and CHECK this?

          I have no freaking idea how that’s psychology, but I salute them!

          1. Perhaps the crisis in reproducibility of psychology results has caused honest psychologists to get interested in actually trying to reproduce things?

            1. Well, to me it says if you are going to publish a study that has any chance of showing that someone else’s results are not reproducible, make sure your study is of an area of science ion which it is impossible for your department chair to have ever published anything.

            2. Could be– or it might be that she got inaccurately buzzed on bad design or assumptions, so she went and checked somebody else’s assumptions.

          2. I noticed that kind of figuring long ago. 30% isn’t “normal” unless your sample set includes Bangladeshis and Ethiopians…

            1. Was pretty sure a good HALF of the folks here had pointed out “issues” with BMI– didn’t we have like two or three people for whom it was accurate?– but I was looking for that study that found that “over-weight” people were the most objectively healthy, the one where the gal was denied funding to do a bigger study, when I found Dr. Tomiyama’s study. I had actually been going to say that nobody had checked it….

    2. One of my favorite Babylon 5 quotes applies here, where Sinclair is being interviewed by an ISN reporter in one of the early seasons. She asks, “Is it worth it? Should we just pull back, forget the whole thing as a bad idea and take care of our own problems at home?”

      And his response: “No. We have to stay here and there’s a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you’ll get ten different answers, but there’s one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won’t just take us. It’ll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu and Einstein and Morobuto and Buddy Holly and Aristophenes .. and all of this .. all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars.”

      I’ve always felt that B5 was the more hopeful vision of the future than Trek, even though B5 has alcoholic and organized crime and drug dealers and all the warts and imperfections of humanity on display, while Trek seems to be a very sanitized, almost propaganda-like view of humanity. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Saadia is advocating for writing the whole thing off “as a bad idea and take care of our own problems at home”. Stupid and short-sighted, but not at all surprising.

      1. I thought that the Trek reboot was more hopeful, more optimistic, than the rest, not because everything was wonderful but because many things were very bad and yet they all went forward. Kirk went forward from his less-than-ideal childhood, Spock went forward from the destruction of his entire world.

        (The follow up movies were less this way.)

      2. As far as idealism goes, SF Debris pointed out that when Odo was throwing people in jail on flimsy evidence on our optimistic Star Trek show, Sisko, representative of the “idealistic” Federation, basically just shrugged his shoulders. Whereas on cynical Babylon 5, when Sheridan tried the same thing, Garibaldi resigned in protest.

      3. even though B5 has alcoholic
        Like Kirk and Company in Undiscovered Country?

        and organized crime
        A Piece Of The Action?

        and drug dealers
        Like Harry Mudd (Mudd’s Women)?


      4. I like Heinlein’s quote better … about the earth being too fragile for mankind to leave all our eggs in one basket. It also covers things like the various rocks floating around, etc.

  3. “But, he says, why don’t we use those resources instead to “to lift a billion people out of poverty?”
    Ah, yes, that age old plaint.
    Well, in the USA the biggest health problem of our “poor” is obesity.
    Then there is the problem of every place run just like he and his ilk demand we run things, turn out to be such lovely places like Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, etc, or failed states such as the USSR.
    I’m with you. Ferengi all the way.

    1. Never mind that many of our more recent technological advances come from research that was done for the space program.

      1. totally irrelevant to them. they always wave that off and a few will claim they would have come about anyway, or we don’t really need them anyhow.
        makes one want to apply a foot to their gonads.

      2. Exploration brings challenges, challenges bring invention, invention brings progress, progress (the real kind) bring prosperity. What’re they all got against prosperity that they are anti-exploration? Oh, yeah, it might seem easier to control those in continuous despair. Hope is their enemy. They hate it when you smile and laugh. Bring on the humor!

    2. > lift a billion people out of poverty

      Conveniently ignoring that all those people are under control of some armed national government which either doesn’t care about the welfare of those people, or is keeping them there by national policy.

      On his blog, Charles Stross talked about flying over the central US and seeing nothing but empty land, horizon to horizon. Why wasn’t it put to use feeding the poor and hungry of the world? Apparently his big concept didn’t involve grotty details like, you know, paying for that food and its transportation.

      Another big idea was some kind of giant project in, I think it was Mongolia. The fact the country has a government and an army and might not be amenable to his concept, at least without some kind of renumeration, wasn’t considered.

      1. also, apparently, eh couldn’t tell how much of that *was* farmland, and doesn’t know how much of that land is no good for farming.. like, large chunks between the rockies and sierras… etc…

        also, why is that up to us? there’s huge chunks of empty land in the places where people *are* starving, but they actively resist using any farming methods that postdate the renaissance.

        1. Two reasons for resistances to new farming methods, besides the whole “if you fail you die of starvation” type problems:

          1) if you are successful, the value of attacking you to take your stuff goes up
          2) if you are successful, your neighbors tend to be jealous, and will find a reason to hate you.

      2. Well, I guess the idjit has never noticed that we used to pretty much feed the rest of the world easily, even with all that empty land unused (or more likely he can’t tell farmland from wild) but fools like him decided that turning that food into fuel for cars was more important. Of course he also thinks the farmers should work for free or give their lands to the gov’t to be ministered as best it sees.
        ***Pol Pot, please use the Red courtesy phone, Pol Pot, Red Courtesy phone***

      1. One big clue is the way everyone is on about “income inequality” instead of poverty, and “food insecurity” instead of starvation.

      2. And, interestingly, in places where their views hold sway, the level at which poverty is defined (i.e., can’t get a house, etc.) goes WAY up. Like SF, where “very poor” is not too far below what I make (and just “poor” is well above my income).

        1. Note: in San Francisco, given the cost of living, $40-50,000 a year might be poverty wages, while in the Alabama backcountry, that will let you live quite comfortably.

          1. More like $104k/per household, now. That is just to have housing & food. Where housing does not mean owning. There are a lot of areas where $104k/year means you are set up really nice. One of the huge reasons why some areas resent the CA run away. Darn you can sure sympathize, but oh boy what it does for your property values; good if you are getting out of your area of Dodge, not so good if you are competing.

            Our general area is over ran by those fleeing CA (including hubby, but he fled 45 years ago for school & never returned).

            We could easily sell our current home, purchased $78k in 1988, for over $300k. However we’d also pay over $300k for a replacement. Plus our property taxes would sky rocket. Currently we pay $1800/year county taxes, even though we are in the urban grown boundary (city hasn’t gotten us yet over 55 years of trying**) because we pay allowed taxable amount (thanks to ’90’s state law) not market value, anything newer is going to be 1) In the City & 2) closer to actual market value. Difference between within City limits & not? A “free” library card. I can pay $80/year & do that (provided I want to brave downtown, uhhhh, not). Our property taxes would minimally triple (based off of what sis & BIL pay, they are in the city).

            **Grew up down the road same general area.

  4. “why don’t we use those resources instead to “to lift a billion people out of poverty?” Who knows how many Einsteins or other great thinkers we might have if we did.”

    Because if we devoted all those resources to trying to lift a billion people out of poverty, there wouldn’t BE any for those Einsteins or other great thinkers to develop anything. As for the “forget about manned interstellar spaceflight”, which is exactly what Saadia is saying, forget about it and there will be no reason to develop any of those Einsteins or other great thinkers.

    Talk about a vicious, nihilistic circle! Unfortunately, I’m afraid there will be all too many people who think Saadia’s book is the Gospel for where economics needs to go.

    1. He’s definitely getting cause and effect backwards. Putting off exploration or the creation of wealth by creating the industries that can take us to space destroys the very conditions that would create the wealth, create the research and engineering jobs, to lift a billion people out of poverty. (That and “good government” instead of socialist kleptocracies and patronage systems.)

    2. It also shows the current Ejimercatin’ Industry (not limited to merely PUBLIC skrewels) faddish obsession with “STEM” as the apex and apogee of all knowledge, dismissing the arts and languages out of hand.

      I’d love to see more Einsteins, but what of those who’d better thrive as Mozarts and Dostoyevskys and Michaelangelos instead?

      Eff ’em! That apple don’t matter! It’s the hard STEM all the way!

      Oy vey iz mir.

  5. > In Saadia’s world, exploration is admitting defeat.

    Abso-frackin’-lutely. And that’s why they hate the idea. Because it means *they* have failed, and there are still people who dare not to lick the chains that bind them.

    Really. They don’t like us, and we don’t like them. Colonization would seem to be an obvious solution… except that would mean there would be people out there, somewhere, who weren’t their subjects, and they can’t *stand* that thought.

    1. “Colonization would seem to be an obvious solution…”

      More and more these days, the obvious solution from where I stand involves idiots like Saadia and goons like Hillary dangling from trees like rotting fruit. I know it’s likely to spill over onto people I care about, but with the Left’s recent tendency to call for violence, it’s getting REAL tempting.

      1. Now, now, CSP, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I mean, I haven’t even bought my rope yet! I don’t want to be left out!

  6. So … yet more futurism from someone who shudders at the thought of an open future. Bleh. You read these things so we don’t have to!

    1. That was one of the things I disliked about the Lensman books. The Lensmen lived in a fixed clockwork universe; everything was, if not preordained, then predictable to such a level of accuracy it might as well be.

      I know a lot of people have gut-level problems with the concept of uncertainty, but I *like* the idea of an uncertain universe. I follow the idea of “free will”, and there isn’t any in a deterministic universe.

      1. fixed clockwork universe

        That was the actual physics of the time it was written.

        1. Actually, no. The novels were written in the 1940s, and quantum mechanics was decades old by then. There’s a passage in one of the novels where Smith mentions the transition between microscopic randomness and macroscopic predicability. The clockwork universe started going away in the 1890s with the discovery of radioactivity.

          1. My mistake.

            Of course, when the Arisians claimed to predict the Future, I suspected that they weren’t above “ensuring” that the Future they predicted would come to past.

            IE: They cheated. [Very Very Big Grin]

            1. And remember Mentor’s panic when Mom and the Kids throw The Plan out the window and go for broke to rescue Dad,

      2. I don’t think determinism is the issue. Suppose that you were assured that any time you had a decision to make, some truly random physical process would take place, and your choice would be based on it. Suppose, that is, that God played dice, not with the universe, but with you, like a cosmic D&D player trying to make a saving throw. Would that give you a sense of being in control of your life, your actions, or your decisions? It wouldn’t me. So far as I have control of my own decisions, I try to use it to avoid making important choices at random, and to attain a little more certainty about what I’m going to do next. . . .

        1. A great cosmic D&D player failing important saves could explain a lot.

          Also I’d like to go back to character creation and not dump stat wisdom this time.

          1. My circle of players are all used to point build systems like GURPS or Champions. Most of us have asked, more than once, “But what did I get for the points from all those disadvantages?”

            1. It’s the people who never played but still think it’s point build, who therefore feel free to abuse people with obvious advantages on the grounds there must be something hidden and terribly wrong with them.

      3. I’m not convinced that it was a deterministic universe. I think it was that the Arisians introduced the problem, for the writer (and reader) of how to deal with the fact that some of the characters were transcendent.

        We have three cases of explicit detailed Arisian prediction. One was easy — the Red Lensman in a particular store — but that’s a pretty gross manifestation, and it’s only a few centuries from “now” — which, for beings whose lifespan is millions of years, is essentially now. The second was supposed to be hard — the barber shop incident a few years in the future. And it was supposed to be hard (although it’s hard to trust whether the Arisians were downplaying their abilities in this case). And the third — finding Kinnison after he was transported by the random tube — was something that the Arisians could not solve by prediction (which, in a deterministic universe, they could), and could only be solved by a brute force search.

        Of course, the whole development of the Patrol/Lensmen/L3s was based on a prediction — but, even there, the Arisians were uncertain if it would work, which, in a deterministic universe, they could.

        It seems to me that Smith left lots of room for uncertainty — but, to the extent that he had to deal with the issues of transcendent beings, the uncertainties were only for “hard” problems.

        1. IIRC, the hard part was supposed to be where each hair the barber cut would hit the floor, at what angle and velocity, etc. He took the gross facts for granted. Like the Red Lensman being at a particular store.

          And it was made quite clear that the Arisians meddled. They didn’t screw with free will directly. They just knew, with exquisite precision, how a certain person would react in most (to how many decimal places?) circumstances and, when necessary, which buttons to push. Scary enough.

          1. Although, even there, they tried to leave people alone.

            As we explicitly saw from First Lensman, when they needed someone to fix the inertialess drive, it was an Arisian animating Bergenholm, rather than manipulating a real human.

      4. The thing that I hated about the Lensman books was that the Grey Lensmen were literally fuhrers (free men) free of any and all legal constraint outside of each individual lensman. I got the idea that Smith was saying that Hitler would have been right if only we had Arasians to set things up. (I know he was a friend of Heinlein’s so I doubt that he believed that, but the books sure sound like it.)

        1. They were free of legal constraints.

          But, given that the Arisians (who are close to omniscient) kill anyone who goes for a Lens (even before they go Gray) who would do evil in any form.

          It’s hard to for readers to deal with omniscience (or for writers, who don’t have it, to portray it in ways that the reader understands/feels it). It’s why you don’t see a lot of it being addressed in fiction (although some theologians try — while recognizing that, being human, they’ll fail).

          1. One of the things I liked about GURPS LENSMEN was that they got that. Lensmen were chosen (by nigh-omniscient superbeings) for their *inability* to betray their principles, and their dedication to the principles of Civilization–including individual freedom. A Lensman would never be a Fuehrer. Those who might have been died on the way to Arisia.

            The classic example, to my mind, was an NPC example–a young Lensman lieutenant whose upbringing had left him with a thoroughly Sixties attitude toward sex. He slept around casually. But he NEVER led a girl up the garden path. He ALWAYS made his intentions crystal clear. And he ALWAYS took “no” for an answer. (And since he was a Lensman and therefore a telepath, he ALWAYS knew when “no means no.” And, for that matter, whether he had made his intentions clear enough.)

            1. (For that matter, he ALWAYS knew when “um, I don’t know” meant “no.”)

        2. Yet, in the Smith world “Civilization” wasn’t the dictatorship that the enemy was.

          For all the power of the Grey Lensmen, they were focused on a very nasty external foe.

          They didn’t rule Civilization.

          Oh, I doubt that such “always good people” would be possible even with “angelic” over-sight.

  7. I just crossed the continent to take a job researching something (that might not end up working out … we’ll see – risks of the business) which might improve the world if we get exceedingly lucky. I’ve spent half my lifespan in school to acquire a deep understanding of math and physics, and I didn’t do it to wear a sedentary rut into an unchanging closed world.

    As our host Sarah might say: BOTH my fingers!

  8. > exploration

    Saadia does have a point, though indirectly. The Chinese, the Vikings, and the Egyptians may have all discovered the New World, but they went back home. The Macedonians and Mongols covered a lot of ground, then went back home.

    The Western Europeans, starting with Columbus, were driven by the desire for profit. Colonization, other than a few estates and tax collectors, wasn’t really part of the plan. British America was colonized almost by accident, as the infrastructure supporting the fishing and trapping industries grew into de facto polities. Nobody wanted to go to Australia, British Africa, India, French Indochina. Trader or government functionary, yes. Colonist? Almost never. New Zealand is the only place I can think of that was a direct colony; NZ’s history is anomalous in many respects. And you could probably count Hawaii, which had been spurned as not worth the trouble of the Russians or the British, until suddenly people were crazy to get there…

    Other than the eminently sensible idea of “not having all your eggs in one basket”, I see the driving factor for space colonization as “get off my lawn.”

    1. The Chinese, the Vikings, and the Egyptians may have all discovered the New World, but they went back home. The Macedonians and Mongols covered a lot of ground, then went back home.

      Hard to tell, because some of them didn’t; some went back, because they had something they valued there– but some folks valued what they found here, more.

      They’re not identifiable because there wasn’t as much coming over here, and we can’t see what they brought that got generally adopted. It’s like trying to figure out what part of a house is the addition when you have no idea what the original house was like, or even if it was a house, a barn or a store!

      1. There wasn’t a lot of contact.

        We know this because all of the Old World’s epidemic diseases made it over only after Columbus.

  9. All of this sounds as if the author’s vision is a descendant of the old Technocracy movement that Hugo Gernsback adhered to, which said that the scientists and engineers could bring us unlimited wealth if only they were not held back by cost accountants and tight-fisted investors who wanted a profit. Though it’s mutated over the years; when the Technocrats talked about unlimited wealth, they really meant wealth enough to pay for exploring the solar system, but as it’s become clear that socialism isn’t going to give us that, it’s been redefined as “wealth enough to give you everything you want,” as long as what you want is within culturally acceptable limits. That same redefinition can be found in Iain Banks’ portrayal of an allegedly “post-scarcity” society in the Culture novels. Still, the underlying socialist ideology is there. It was writers like Smith, Heinlein, and Anderson who gave us the actual “final frontier” concept of space.

    I don’t think he grasps the importance of diversity in biology. A species isn’t a vast collection of clones; it’s an ongoing process of variation, as full of weird experiments as a new artistic movement, and evolution takes place when some of those experiments succeed. Socialists characteristically think that the only options are one-dimensional difference, or hierarchy, with some on top and some on the bottom, and equality, where everyone is alike (though to paraphrase Orwell, some are more alike than others, because hierarchy always creeps back in); they never get the idea of multidimensional variation, or of productive exchange between different varieties, which is the basis of the market economy. (In fact, that old Trek slogan, “infinite diversity in infinite combinations,” exactly fits it.)

    And of course it’s the market economy that is starting to lift Africans out of poverty, despite the heroic efforts of their kleptocratic rulers to prevent this, and that has already started to do the same in China and India.

    1. “And of course it’s the market economy that is starting to lift Africans out of poverty, despite the heroic efforts of their kleptocratic rulers to prevent this, and that has already started to do the same in China and India.”

      Don’t forget the never-ending efforts of the Progressive Left to kill Industry, Development, and efficient farming dead, Dead, DEAD.

      My hope for the 21st century is to see Juan, Chang, and M’boto put their third-world brown feet up a few lily-white Progressive backsides, and get their long overdue Industrial Revolution going.

      1. My impression is that the leftists I’ve talked with would rather have the right to something, even if they don’t get any significant amount of it, then have an ample supply of it from a variety of sources, but without the right to demand it. They seem convinced that if the law doesn’t give them a right to shoes, millions of people will go barefoot.

        1. What many of them are convinced of (and deathly afraid of) is that if The Law doesn’t grant the right to shoes, millions of people will have shoes without feeling one iota of gratitude to Leftists. And that all be Truly Awful.

          They want to be Aristocrats. They want to have Droit de Seigneur (the Males, anyway, which explains why the females are so bugshit crazy). They want to graciously hand out nutritionally balanced, ecologically friendly, vegetarian Soylent Green while each supplicant kisses their feet.

          They are as revolting as the old Plantation Owners, or the Roman Emperors, and a great deal worse than the Social Darwinists (who were no saints).

          1. That’s kind of Ayn Rand’s account of it, too. When she tells the story of the Twentieth Century Motor Company, she describes how the first year, the workers had a big meeting and everyone had to explain what needs they had and why their needs were more urgent than other peoples (and try to minimize their contributions, as contributing more meant you were more able and those bore heavier obligations). And then the second year they just all went, one by one, to see Ivy Starnes, one of the three heirs to the plant, the Director of Distribution. She actually didn’t live significantly better than the workers—but she got her butt kissed hundreds of times more than they did.

            But I’ve also talked with people who don’t seem to have any prospect of being in positions of power, but who still are horrified at the thought of relying on the market. It’s like they go straight from “you don’t have an enforceable legal right to X” to “you will never have X under any conditions” without passing through any sort of intervening space.

            1. They also completely fail to observe that, in countries around the world during the 20th Century, having a ‘legal right’ to ‘X’ did not, in fact, even come CLOSE to ensuring that you would get any.

              The thing is, Socialism is sold as running on altruism. Which sounds wonderful, and it’s only Cranks like me who tiresomely observe “That isn’t run on altruism. That’s run on fear.”

              And it is only when you recognize that any system – call it Socialism or Monarchy – where you depend for everything on the State and the State defines what you must or may not do, is run on fear that you can see than a system that is run on greed is an obvious improvement.

              1. It was Kenneth Boulding, a fairly liberal economist, who commented that there are three basic social binding forces (and incentives), fear, greed, and love, and that socialists characteristically set out to replace greed with love—but what they accomplished was to replace greed with fear. I don’t think that’s a complete analysis but it sure makes an important basic point.

                1. Fear from *our* side. On *their* side, it’s pure love. The kind of smothering mother-love that C. S. Lewis describes (as a common distortion of Affection) in THE FOUR LOVES, and describes fictionally in THE GREAT DIVORCE and (in far more detail) in TILL WE HAVE FACES.

                  “You can’t leave! I’m still showing you how much I love you! How can I live, if you can live without me??!!”

                    1. One of his themes all through THE FOUR LOVES is that ANY good, including any form of love, can be distorted and twisted into something unspeakably evil–and the quickest way to do it is to make that good, that love, the object of your worship.

                      God is not a jealous God because he is greedy and insecure. He KNOWS what will happen to you.

                2. The thing is, greed appears to be built in, and in the few cases where it isn’t either the induvidual is a cipher, or a Saint. Ciphers are no problem, and you can’t plan for saints.

                  Fear can be imposed, to a degree and in general. It’s with fear that saints really become a problem, but fearful people also cheat wherever possible, if only because they deeply resent being afraid. So, fear is a bad motivator.

                  And love cannot be imposed. Oh, I suppose there ar deluded biochemists who think they are on the track, but my serious expectation is that they will only ever be able to induce infatuation…and that fades. So love CANNOT be used as a social motivator. One can try to create customs that will support it, but that’s about all.

                  (That last, BTW, is why I support Gay Marriage in spite of broadly despising the political groups who do. My wish for any person is that they live in a loving partnership, as I do. And I don’t give a fat damn what bedroom games they play.)

              2. Such as in states with socialized medicine, where “the right to health care” usually morphs into “the right to be put on a waiting list, so that if you haven’t died in five years, we might get around to giving you a bit of treatment.”

                1. Or worse. Samizdata recently had a post about an NHS hospital where, in the 1990s, some 450-650 elderly patients were prescribed doses of diamorphine likely to result in respiratory failure, and died. (C tells me that “diamorphine” is the pharmacological name for heroin.) Apparently the best predictor of getting that prescription was neither being terminally ill nor being in extreme pain, but being perceived by the nursing staff as “difficult.”

                  You can find this at , with links.

                  1. I’ve said it here before, but it bears repeating. All I ever needed to know about the National Health Service is summed up in the way the cartoonist Giles mocked it from the mid-‘50’s on. Giles was a Socialist and he STILL saw through it early.

            2. “you will never have X under any conditions” without passing through any sort of intervening space.

              Yes. And it’ a real fear. I knew a very nice older liberal lady who had no husband or live-in family relation. Estranged from her birth family, and had discovered that the “work family” painted by Hollywood T.V. is very much the exception, and hers wasn’t one of them. Most of her friends were online and far away. And she certainly didn’t trust her own ability to provide, as she had never made any choices while a young woman to ensure her own long-term independence.

              She absolutely wanted a socialist State that would give her a guaranteed medical program, and possibly a food-and-housing safety net. None of the side-consequences to anyone else, to our country mattered. Including the guaranteed killing of private social safety nets, and the long term failure of the State’s for most of the (ever-expanding and trapped) underclass.

              A mutual acquaintance, also a nice liberal lady, but with a lot more cultural capital was able to discuss the “side consequences” issue with me over tea once. No worries. The first named, poor chick, would become apoplectic. I used to think it was just me (I can be a difficult person) but I’ve seen this pattern again. I think it’s a real phenomenon.

              1. I can give you two examples of “owed” VS “my responsibility” just in my family – differences in grandparents.

                Grandma died, when she died everyone figured her estate was her house. Period. Grandpa had died almost 30 years before leaving her with 4 children 16 or younger at home; youngest 9, second oldest disabled, would never live unassisted. Older 2 were married with families of their own. She’d had no career, other than occasional “egg” money, which was not possible at their home at the time he died. When she died, she not only left a paid off home, but a small savings (total net estate was about $200k). This all on income, at the time of her death of about $450/month SS.

                Grandma & Grandpa die – died within 3 weeks of each other in their 90’s. Lived at home. Net estate, after creditors got “paid”, was $2000, the amount that comes off the estate for the person “in charge” (court insisted came off the top). Because the estate did go to the courts for distribution of funds. Creditors got 10 cents on dollar owed. Family was surprised property was worth more than the loan on it. It was universally figured that family would go into the house & pull sentimental, no-value items, & turn everything over to the bank for the bank & creditors to bicker over. Their income/month was about $2000/month. They shouldn’t have had home loan payment, at one time the property was paid off; they should never been given a loan. Their credit cards were fully maxed. You know those little checks that CC send? Isn’t that free money? Family could see the train wreck coming. Could do nothing about it.

                1. I have family that’s approaching the second sort. I’ll not get into details, because of blood pressure, but the eldest generation enabled a couple very entitled generations downstream to very adverse consequences. I don’t see any way they’ll work themselves out of it, and my ability to care was bent, spindled, folded and mutilated several years ago.

                  When you know the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train, it’s best to do something other than to run toward it.

                  1. In the 19th century, people said, “From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” Painful though it is, it’s probably a good thing if that’s still happening.

                  2. We are watching a train wreak coming for some cousins whose parents were very wealthy (7 to 15 mil. depending on days gossip), & parents are now both dead. Everything is suppose to be in Trusts, which is in full control of the oldest, who by “tradition” it should 100% belong to & be the judge on how much younger siblings get for allowance. Who, per gossip, are not happy.

                    Don’t have a dog in the fight, expect nothing out of the estate. Hand me the popcorn & lets watch events unfold, gossip anyone? … FYI, my give a sh** has up & ran away when it applies to any of the siblings. Parents sowed the oats, now the kids are reaping the sorrow.

                    Ironically, as much money there is in the estate, I fully expect the next generation (grand & great-grand) kids to be left with nothing by the time the siblings (their parents) are done with the money, no matter how the fighting turns out. It will be long gone.

            3. “you don’t have an enforceable legal right to X” to “you will never have X under any conditions”

              If someone else doesn’t pay for it, they’re keeping it away from you. :/

              1. Yes, like the demands that health insurance (a) always be provided by an employer if possible and (b) include contraception regardless of the employer’s views on the issue. Planned Parenthood would provide birth control pills for less that $50 a month, which is about the price of a cheap Starbucks drink in the morning. And I think if you were really poor they had a sliding scale that went lower than that. I can’t help thinking that there were many young women who valued their morning caffeine more than they valued not getting pregnant . . . but didn’t want to admit that to themselves. Instead they wanted to force other people to pay for what they wouldn’t pay for.

                1. Part of it is wealth, I think, which has made it so that we don’t expect economic contributions from our children. So we now reach adulthood without ever having to spend our own money on necessities, on clothing or food, or helping the family to pay bills… all money a “kid” gets goes towards optional stuff, stuff they want. All NEEDS are the responsibility of someone else. And if you’re a parent who believes that it’s okay to have all members of a household contribute when necessary, to “help out” and buy groceries, you’ll be considered a monster.

                  So yeah… if I *need* it, then someone else should pay. Then I have money for things that I *want*.

                  1. Hey, I think Laura (very famously) worked to help the family in the Little House books. It was a rather horrible experience, but all the same, everyone pitched in.

                    No wonder Little House is now BadThought.

                    1. The agenda (racist !! eleventy !!) is never the (real) agenda.
                      Power is always the agenda.

                2. Pretty sure WalMart birth control still starts at $9/28d, possibly less if you pick it up three cycles at a time.

                  Admittedly generic and some formulations don’t work for everyone, etc.

                3. People forget that our employers involvement with health care is primarily a tax dodge. You really don’t want employers making decisions based on someone’s current health status … the end result tends to be bad and spawned all kinds of additional laws and regulations.

                  1. Its not really just a tax dodge, it was also to attract employees. It used to be in many more job markets that people used the benefits packages in considering an employer.

                    1. I never heard the “tax dodge thing”.

                      What I heard, employers wanted to attract new employees but were afraid to increase offered increased salaries because this was the period when the government was doing price/wage freezes.

                      They believed it was safer to offer “fringe benefits” than to offer “increased salaries”.

                    2. Employer provided, tax exempt, health insurance came about as a means to attract employees during WWII wage freezes.

    2. A technocracy was exactly what Eisenhower warned against in his Farewell Address. “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” Funny how the Left never seems to remember that part of his speech, even as they endless point to his warning about the “military-industrial complex.”

  10. Let’s think about the amount of engineers that might be realized by ‘lifting people out of poverty’.

    I am strongly convinced that someone can get an engineering degree without becoming an engineer, and without being a functional enough person to apply themselves to the practice of engineering.

    Engineering isn’t magic, it is doing, doing things that won’t happen on their own.

    A marginal human being, someone who has great difficultly being successful in life, is not going to be all of a sudden be managing a engineering career if they get an engineering degree. Cutting engineering school standards, giving the very poor a free pass, and graduating more engineering majors is not necessarily going to translate into well earning engineers.

    The ‘lift a billion out of poverty, create more engineers’ is a similar sort of magical thinking. Those who are poor because of government regulation and thieving governments, yeah, address the cause and you will get more wealth and productivity. Habit, custom and personal preference are not so easy to change. Heavy government spending on social programs? LOL.

    Also, Marie Harf’s ‘terrorism is caused by poverty’, if true, suggests that poor people have too depraved a mindset to be trusted with an engineering education. XD

    There are a lot of great engineers who came from a very poor background. There are a lot of great engineers who came from a very wealthy background. They didn’t become great because someone held their hand all the way to greatness.

    Great, good, and competent engineers are qualitatively different from lousy or incompetent engineers in name only.

    Saadia’s assistance to the engineering profession will likely be on par with David Hogg’s.

  11. > very poor background

    Thinking of the famous ones, I can’t come up with any who came from better than what we’d consider “lower middle class” nowadays.

    1. I know a guy, who strikes me as having a lot to teach about engineering management, who told me that he worked to support himself independently from his early teens in a small town. Maybe that is included in what you think of as lower middle class? General Gavin of the WWII airborne also comes to mind, but he wasn’t really an engineer, so perhaps my thinking is simply confused.

      Certainly, these days a lot of folks coming to engineer school directly from highschool well prepared have had parents with the luxury to give them a decent foundation in math and getting things done. Even if by putting them to work from a fairly early age by modern standards.


    Okay, thus far these posts have been hilarious. I’m not laughing at your pain, Amanda, really I’m not. I’m laughing at the Federation, which despite my love of Star Trek, is ridiculous. And I’m laughing at Saadia for seeming to take it all seriously and thinking that a bunch of second-rate TV writers have found the secret to the perfect society.

    But this makes me angry. This whole, “Oh, humans aren’t curious, we don’t really want anything more than three square meals a day, we shouldn’t go to the stars until everything on Earth is perfect” is really just another way of saying, “Suckers! I got you to read my socialist rantings by pretending they were all tied to you stupid fandom. I actually hate this show you love so much, and think you’re stupid for believing it.”

    Okay, Saadia, that’s it. I hearby sentence you to a year on Betazed. You will spend every day in counseling sessions with Deeana Troi, where she will tell you the blatantly obvious. You will spend every evening at diplomatic receptions with Lwuxana Troi, where she will spend all her time condescending to you and lecturing you on your every thought. If, after that point, you don’t understand the desire to get on a ship and sail far, far away, there’s no hope for you.

    1. yep, rather than lifting all of humanity to the stars, Saadia is yet another prog who thinks we should spent pour time contemplating our belly button lint.

  13. Most (?) people are lazy, which is why if everything was provided most (?) would sit on their bums and watch reality television all day… the rest would be perpetual students always learning new things. Actual production is often tedious, even in a career one loves.

    Lots of “on the spectrum” people love Vulcans because it gives them permission to be analytical and logical and forgives them for not emoting properly.

    There’s incredible wealth in our own solar system. Perhaps not on Mars so much, or at least not accessible on Mars (darn you, Mars, for not having plate tectonics) but the rare earth and platinum group elements just floating around out there are way better than silver or sugar.

    We are, in fact, studying anti-matter.

    1. Good spot to drop this:

      The average nickel iron asteroid contains enough nickel and iron to lift the entire world to our standard of living for a hundred years.I’ve been told that’s actually a conservative estimate.

      That same asteroid is also going to have enough platinum group metals to create a serious crash in the price of said metals.

      But we shouldn’t do this, in Saaaaaaaadia’s opinion, because we can’t achieve a perfect socialist utopia of perfect equality here on earth first.

      1. Vermin like Saadia desperately want to undermine efforts to explore, exploit, and create because such efforts make it blindingly obvious how little vermin like Saadia actually contribute to society.

        Whereas a ‘Prefect Socialist Utopia’ will necessarily reward a Saadia’s pettifogging, intellectual vacuity, and emotional sadism by putting him in charge.

        In his mind, anyway.


  14. > ends

    “The Snarkmistress, having extracted all the entertainment value from the pathetic mish-mash of socialist propaganda, flicks the shreds from Her razor claws…”

  15. I’m trying to remember science fiction in general and I think that even the outright socialist authors who have written about societies based on the “dole” because someone or some group are particularly gifted and do all the work and build all the wealth… it never turns into Star Trek.

  16. “Enough already with the space colonization nonsense! If anything, it is an expression of defeatism.”

    This guy wants all the Scots to stay home in Scotland and not build North America, because its easier for the lairds to keep their boot on everyone’s neck that way.

    Sorry, sonny. I’ve got warp drives to build and planets to terraform. And really, do you want to leave a Scotsman with nowhere to run and nothing to lose? Does that seem like a good plan?

    1. If these morons had the sense to look forward to what happens when you corner a bunch of pugnacious people. they would pipe down and accept that they were put on earth by Providence to ask actually PRODUCTIVE people ‘do you want fries with that?”

      1. Not nice. People who ask “Do you want fries with that?” well are actually much more productive than they are. They also tend not to do that job for very long before getting a better one.

        1. most of these folks are going to make a career of asking me if i want whipped cream on my almond milk mocha latte.

    2. Of course he wants to keep the Scots bottled up, he thinks he’ll be on the winning side of Culloden rather than the losing side of Bannockburn.

    3. “This stuff is used to treat heart attack… and snow globes are a bit of fun, and so here, have fun.”

      “Did you really just give them nitroglycerin snow globes?”


  17. Wow, this is in perfect alignment with the stuff roiling the Star Wars fan base about Disney’s Iger wanting to fire Kathleen Kennedy as head of Lucasfilm, but nobody will take the job:

    Both Saadia and Kennedy have decided to dive into something which they actively hate, both the premises each milieu is based on and the implementation of the stories told from those premises, in order to change every darn thing about it so they can fix it.

    Actually, now that I think about it, this is what CBS did with STD too – in each case they hate the premises, don’t like the stories, really dislike the fans, and are diving in to fix it all.

    1. I’d heard that STD got a little better once past the introduction. I’ve only ever watched the free episodes. Actively hated them. But what I’ve heard of the ship captain (whatever the heck his name is) I might like him.

  18. Oh goodie! If we just become Sandia’s New Soviet Man, all will be gum drops and rainbows and replicators. Where have we heard that before? And how many – literally – we have the God damned pictures on the internet – mountains of skulls do we get to pile up this time?

    What a vile religion. What an evil little book.

    1. You know, I sometimes wonder if there isn’t a whole science of war-memes out there waiting to be discovered, and Communism was just the first of many.

      That might be nice, because then you’d understand the structure of the thing, and be able to design a defense against it. Right now Communism is like syphilis and all we have to fight it is mercury.

      1. What I want is the vaccination against [Name here] that causes American Blacks, Jews, Mexicans, and other tribal groups to embrace the very thing that is destroying them as a tribe.

        Shoot: If you’re willing to take “white people” as a tribe that exists above and beyond a reflexive defense mechanism, what is it that drives this tribe into the arms of the very people/ideology that have worked tirelessly to destroy it: I.e. the swastika panty version of the alt right – the socialists.

  19. “There is no silver or sugar, no prized fruits from the pepper plant (Piper nigrum) to bring back from Sirius or Wolf 359 (not to mention that useless hellhole otherwise known as Mars).”

    Isn’t that exactly what he said Dilithium crystals were, earlier in his screed?

    1. Yes, but play fair. He was talking then about the premises on which the fictions of ST were based. If he wants to turn around and say, “Yes, but those are fictional,” he’s not contradicting himself. Though perhaps he imagines that ST fans don’t realize that it was science *fiction*.

  20. These Trekonomics pists keep sucking me in when I think there’s nothing to add.

    You asked if the stuff about exploration being, in short, a juvenile, obsolete, and wasteful indulgence. Well, yes, it raises my temper, but not because I feel insulted or anything. (There’s a lot of stuff I do that’s worthy of insults.) It angers me because the author is telling his readers his opinions which he thinks are facts! People generally DO NOT explore only when they have achieved total satisfaction already. They explore when they are sorely lacking something, maybe to the point where existence isn’t certain. Telling people that it’s foolish and irresponsible to explore before everything is going swimmingly is IMHO a judgment borne of a lack of knowledge.

  21. Harlan Ellison was mentioned a couple of times during the discussions on last weeks Trekonomics post. I am sad to report that the legendary Harlan Ellison has passed away, apparently in his sleep, at age 84

    1. He may have been a grouch, and possibly a but overrated, but he was still a mighty figure of the field.

    2. I’m tired of writers dying. Can we declare a filled quota and not lose anyone else until 2019 or so? 😟

  22. I’m not the world’s greatest Star Trek fan, but if memory serves, the motive of Zefram Cochrane in inventing the warp drive was for money and the chance of retiring to a tropical island with lots of nekkid women. Which pretty much utterly and totally undercuts the point Sandia is trying to make here.

    1. Briefly mentioned in the original ST one show where he was featured. Explicitly stated to the horror of the STNG engineers & officers who worshiped him. Not only financially motivated to get out of dodge, but also because he could. But, for the betterment of his species – heck no, was “are you nuts?”

  23. According to him, we won’t, at least not if it is too far from our homes. He looks at history and says we are primarily a sedentary species, never travelling far from home. Exploration isn’t a “fundamental trait” of the human race. When we commute, we go the same route, rarely deviating, etc.

    Does he follow up with what he’s smoking?

    The only time I can think of when people don’t move around is when there’s a good reason. Like “I want to harvest the crops I planted.” Or “my job is 8am every day AT THE SAME PLACE.”

    1. This statement others people who have had their legs cut off, and been chained in a mine. Which is totally a normal part of the human experience, if you talk to a schizoid Marxist ODing on some strange cocktail. 🙂

  24. This doesn’t even discuss the harm done to our inner city kids forced to suffer from schools choking on large numbers of undocumented students crowding the classrooms, straining the resources.

    Our Immigration Policy is Endangering Children
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Let me come right out and say it as bluntly as I can: our immigration policy is endangering children.

    No, I haven’t lost my mind. No, I’m not talking about “children in cages” — which appear to have been a feature of the Obama administration — or the fact that the same Obama administration lost a lot of those children in the system.

    I’m talking about our lax enforcement of immigration laws, and the fact that no matter where you come from or why, or even what your record is if you show up at the US border with children you have a good chance of staying. (Or if you show up at the border saying you’re a child, even if the claim is unlikely.)

    This is endangering children in all the usual ways. …

  25. Good thing, too, as it looks like we are close to seeing >5% GDP growth, carrying serious risk of inequality between those who are productive and those who aren’t.

    There’s No Reason to Feel Guilty About Prosperity
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Recently a friend of mine wrote a post on how the West is dying of self-hatred, and how he can’t understand how people are infused with so much self-hatred for no reason, or how we – since no other civilization has done this — are managing to kill ourselves through self-flagellation.

    At which point I realized I knew how this came about. I knew it perfectly well.

    You see, it’s like this: I was there when Portugal flipped from national socialist to international socialist. I was in elementary school. I know how the teaching changed.

    The national socialists were, for all their faults… well… nationalists. They might pound the drum of national glory and the “Portuguese race” (mutt. No, seriously, mutt.) but they didn’t try to make you feel ashamed of things you’ve never done.

    Being proud of things you’ve never done because your ancestors did them is different. It’s the sort of thing that both boosts your self-esteem and puts a floor under how badly behaved you’re willing to get. That is, it tells you that a certain level of behavior is owed to those unknown ancestors. Old form of bringing the youth into the pack, as it were.

    International socialism, which in practicality meant Russian nationalism, since the Soviet Union/Russia was held as the model of things to be by its practitioners, sought to run down the love of individual country. This is known as psychological warfare and a way to soften countries for invasion.

    As for why it took up in Western culture? There are many reasons. …

  26. But even if we don’t find another Einstein, surely we’d get “30 or 40 million more engineers or programmers” from those we uplifted.
    Ummm, if *we* “lift” them out of poverty, they’re much more likely to become the content stiffs than the crazy-engineering-marvel-maker engineers.
    Part of the reason the industrial revolution accomplished what it did was that individuals made it happen – not that it happened to them.

  27. Let us build some kind of galactic Mayflower and leave this wretched and sinful place.
    I don’t think he knows what the Mayflower was about. And he’s pretty ignorant about America if he thinks the Mayflower founded America. (Jamestown was around for a long time before Plymouth Rock was run into.)

    What about the troublemakers* (Scots-Irish) and the Odds (Mormons) and the people who just thought it was cool (Daniel Boone)?
    (* Oh, and very American-centric of him to believe ours would be the prime example. How about Australia? How about the friggin’ Vikings?)

    a compass
    Heck, who needs a compass? “Second star to the left, and on until morning.” 🙂

    1. > Heck, who needs a compass?
      Was done, too.
      In that there were settings where FTL happens via pseudo-random jump routes. 1 of 100000 drones pops again in some system with human presence (or at least within communication laser range), dumps its navigational data — yay, we got a new road into somewhere. As long as it’s repeatable, it’s at least somewhat usable, never mind if it’s a long ring, every part of which is one-way.

  28. There is a marvelous video online on Quantum Locking, by superconductor research group via one university from israel. I suggest people look that up if they like future tech that is already here.

    As for books, I have gotten more good out of Windswept House, Born in Blood, and Rulers of Evil than I dare say, most people would get out of this Trek Economy novel: another form of fiction written as fact rather than fact written as fiction.

  29. Not entirely irrelevant …

    In DS9 S1:6, Star Trek Pops Out The Ferengi And All Its Associated Foibles
    It becomes one of DS9’s strengths as a show that the writers take this joke of an enemy species and convert the Ferengi into an interesting people with history and culture of their own.
    By Kyle Sammin
    “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s” sixth episode, “Q-Less,” brings back two recurring characters from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (TNG) in a plot that has the crew racing against the clock to solve a problem that could lead to the deaths of everyone on the station.

    It also provides one of the first opportunities in the series to explore an alien race who will play a larger role in DS9 than in any other incarnation of the Star Trek universe: the Ferengi. How the show portrays the Ferengi says a lot about how Gene Roddenberry and his successors viewed humanity in general and capitalist humans in particular.

    The two guest characters are Vash and Q. Vash (played by Jennifer Hetrick) is the more easily explained of the two: she was an archeologist of dubious morality who became the romantic interest for Captain Picard on two TNG episodes. Q is more mysterious: he is a member of the Q Continuum, a group of seemingly all-powerful beings, all of whom are named “Q.” This particular Q (played by John de Lancie) was a thorn in Picard’s side over the course of the series. “Q-Less” is his only appearance on “Deep Space Nine.”


    Vash came aboard with various artifacts from the Gamma Quadrant, some of which have obvious analogs to those of more familiar cultures—a dagger, a necklace—and some of which are more mysterious. She stows them in the safes in the station’s assay office and searches for a way to dispose of them for a profit, which naturally leads her to Quark. Meanwhile, unexplained power drains like the one on the runabout begin to happen on the station.

    What Vash Shares with the Ferengi
    Vash’s profit motive is possibly the oddest thing about her in a world where humanity has supposedly left capitalism behind them like bear-baiting and witch-burning. This puts her out of sync with her own people and explains her familiarity with the Ferengi, who have often served as Roddenberry’s caricature of twentieth-century humanity’s greed and lust. Originally conceived as a serious enemy, their money obsession and small stature led TNG’s writers to convert them into more of a humorous nuisance species.

    Ferengi became one of Roddenberry’s typically on-the-nose moral lessons. “See these people?” he seems to say, “See their obsession with wealth, their dishonesty, their misogyny, their narrow-mindedness? That’s how you (American television viewers) appear to more enlightened folk (science fiction writers).”

    That was pretty much the extent of it on TNG, but post-Roddenberry, on DS9, we begin to see the writers develop the Ferengi into a more nuanced nation. They remain greedy, but, like humans, also begin to be seen as individuals with some good traits. It will become one of DS9’s strengths as a show that the writers take this joke of an enemy species and convert them into an interesting people with history and culture of their own. It will lead to a lot of interesting plotlines in episodes to come.


    Vash’s exotic goods are fetching fantastic prices at the auction, with all the bills paid in latinum, a presumably un-replicable substance that the Ferengi use as currency. Latinum was invented by the series’ writers as a workaround for the problem of currency in a world where any substance can be produced in a matter replicator.

    Logically, it is a cheap out, but adding it adds the idea of money and commerce back into Star Trek, which, as we have discussed in earlier recaps, is what makes DS9 work. Looking back, it is remarkable how quickly the show overthrew Roddenberry’s core ideas about his universe. In the first six episodes, we have already seen money, religion, and conflict among the crew. And it all made for some interesting plots.


    Here is another departure from old-style Star Trek: Vash does not learn her lesson and immediately reverts to her nasty old capitalist ways. It’s a more cynical ending, but also a more believable one. It symbolizes how “Deep Space Nine” is Star Trek coming to terms with itself.

    Instead of showing the ideal of the perfected human, the New Federation Man, we have an episode starring a wonderfully old-style woman and a Ferengi who typifies all of our vices with the saintly Starfleet crew serving as supporting cast. Flawed characters make for better storytelling, and “Q-Less” is an excellent case in point.

    Kyle Sammin is a lawyer and writer from Pennsylvania.

    1. I think I watched all the seasons of DS9 on review. Surprisingly, the first episode Emissary, reminded me of my own recent conversion from Deism into one of the Christian/spiritual lines.

      The plot and writing was definitely different than TNG. Voyager, meanwhile, felt more political and more Noble Savage + Prime Directive.

      After I found out how certain ancient texts told a history of humanity that was more fantastic and sci fi than whatever the sci fi writers came up with, I became far less interested in human science fiction. Genesis Six, 1st Enoch, Mystery of Water: the world as we see it is more of a fantasy world than anyone had ever put into the mainstream consciousness.

  30. In other words, Saadia just wanders in circles and never leaves the fog. Unsurprising.
    As to “trekonomics”, see also ( — somewhat naive, but sums it up good.

  31. So this guy says we all need to be Vulcans… Is he not aware of the part in Star Trek where the Romulans destroyed Vulcan and there are virtually no Vulcans left? I’d rather be a more successful species than that, thank you very much.

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