Month: August 2012

Asperger’s Man- The Search for Multi-Regional Human Speciation Part 2

Asperger’s Man- The Search for Multi-Regional Human Speciation Part 2

Could a Majority Aspergers Society Survive?

Aspergers is categorized as a dysfunction, but why would a society comprised of all aspies (affectionate term for Aspergers) be dysfunctional? There is nothing inherently dysfunctional about an individual with Aspergers. A society comprised of all aspies would be different socially and culturally than one comprised mostly of NTs (neurotypical or normal person) but not impossible or even improbable. Strength is not a problem in Aspergers they are no more or less strong than the general population. They are no more prone to psychological problems that aren’t caused by stress. Some researchers believe that many of the disabling aspects of Aspergers are brought on by stress.  This stress is caused by living in and around NTs. People with Aspergers experience many more stress related illnesses because they are constantly told to be and act normal.

The only thing that may limit an Asperger society is their sex drive which seems to be less intense than NTs.  This could be the reason NTs outnumber those with Aspergers from 100-500 percent depending on hich study you read. A low sex drive does not equate to “No” sex drive. If we look at the sex drive issue  in an evolutionary sense Asperger man’s decreased sex drive would result in fewer children and a lower population density than other hominid groups. This fits in with the overall speculative model for this possible human ancestor. Unlike his Homo sapien cousin Asperger’s man does not hunt in large cooperative groups. Instead he is a solitary hunter. This means that the Asperger groups would be protein poor compared to other human groups leading to lower population sizes. I think a suggestion for further study should revolve around family size in Asperger diagnosed families. Are the families smaller than average and a secondary study might look at infant mortality rates.

 What Would a Society Comprised of a Majority of People with Aspergers Look Like?

Hunters and gatherers tend to group in family units and extended family units. I see an aspie society as small 4-10 people where NT groups would have been 6-30 people possibly larger ( if I am remembering freshman anthropology). So political units in these hunting and gathering groups are merely extended families. We really don’t see much tribalism until the development of higher level social structures such as horticulturalists and agriculturalists. Aspies are social but they are social in a different way and tend to make small very tight groups of friends rather than the large social groupings that many NTs maintain. So an aspie culture is very possible on the hunting and gathering level of subsistence. In fact Aspie social groupings could be quite different from the extended family structure we see in NT hunter and gatherer societies. It is possible that instead of family groups aspies instead grouped into interest societies. Here I would also like to see a study of the relative strength of Asperger relationships between family members and those people the Asperger individual has deemed as friends. I would also like to see a study of the general age that an Aspeger individual leaves home. If these suggest that individuals with Aspergers form stronger bonds with non-family members and that these individuals become estranged from family more often it could lend credence to the idea that an Asperger society would be one revolving around common interests rather than common DNA. This could point to an evolutionary strength in Asperger populations. Where NT societies may be more (for lack of a better word) inbred, an Asperger population may seek outsiders to form cooperative groups. Interbreeding would not be as great a problem for the more outgoing NT society. They might breed with a greater number of individual in and outside their hunting and gathering group. These societies would remain genetically diverse in such a situation. An aspie society would not function in the same manner and the formation of interest societies over family centered societies would be a solution to inbreeding.

Genetic Evidence for the Evolution of Asperger’s Man

If Aspergers doesn’t have a simple single genetic component and these differences are more spread out over the genome say in two or more places it would explain why some people have more or less of these characteristics along the autism spectrum. It would bolster the idea that Aspergers represented a distinct genome inclusion separate from traditional Homo sapiens. These genetic markers would have been added to the human genome through interbreeding with ancient populations of people who expressed the Asperger genes. The simple explanation is that NT and Asperger populations interbred at some point in the past.

If Asperger’s man was a separate evolutionary sequence then these are  two things I expect to find relating to Aspergers.

1. Higher incidents of Aspergers in populations coming out of Central Asia, along European mountain ranges, within historically marginalized cultures such as among Jews, Romani gypsys, and the Basque. Also in areas that were traditionally considered harsh environments like parts of Scotland beyond Hadrian’s wall. I also would see spikes in parts of Asia that correspond to these same criteria.
2. We would likely see less Aspergers in Africa or in populations that have not traditionally intermixed with European and Asian populations.

 

Imagine Humans are Like Dogs. (not a perfect analogy)

Neanderthals are pitbulls they use their increased musculature to hunt large game and subsist almost entirely on meat.

Early modern humans are a social dog such as a spaniel they also hunt in large packs and subsist on both meat and vegetable matter. They are more emotive and outgoing.

Asperger’s man (Homo Aspergerensis) is like a herding dog. He lives and hunts in a much more dense or confusing environment. He has developed traits that help in this but are less useful as a cooperative hunter. He does his job alone or in small groups.

These three branches interbreed to create a mongrel race which is the ancestor of Both Asians and Western Europeans.

Like dogs the mongrel exhibits a variety of traits from each group. Some of these traits are dominate and some recessive so we don’t often see all traits in the same person at once. This creates a spectrum of traits that may be hard to define. Just like a mutt dog you can look at it and see traits but can’t always place which breed the dog is descended from.

What is the Future for Asperger’s Man?

Neanderthals evolved to hunt large game, early modern humans evolved in African savannahs and along coastlines in more open country both developed genetic traits that are specific to those environments. Humans living in open range and along coastlines would have required more in the way of social interactions and social hunting and gathering practices. Animals are much harder to stalk and hunt in open environments and there are larger animals living in these environments. To take these animals requires strong social interaction. In fact hunting in open areas and on coastal plains would have required a massive amount of team effort.

I believe Asperger’s man evolved in more restricted terrain  which favored very small groups and individual hunters. The aspie as a product of mountains and deep forests would have been a more solitary hunter who used methods of stalking prey that required much more concentration and detail orientation. Things aspies are good at. Reading tracks and being able to see distinct patterns left by an animal fleeing through a forested terrain, or even differentiating animals from the cover they are hiding in would have been their strength.

Some people believe that Neanderthal alone was the origin for Autism and Asperger traits in modern populations. I happen to think that there were two distinct hominids contributing DNA to ancient man, Neanderthal and the unknown group I call Asperger’s man. In either case these articles look at how groups of people who exhibit Aspergers would have lived and worked differently from early modern humans.

NTs will always outnumber people with Asperger Syndrome. However the future is a place where Asperger traits are not only welcome but may be cultivated for positive gain. Humans that can concentrate on problems for long periods of time and can differentiate patterns from vast amounts of information are the perfect vanguard of our information heavy age. We may even see the rise of Asperger’s man once again as he successfully out competes the NT along the intricate webs of knowledge that hold our society together.

Asperger’s Man- The Search for Multi-Regional Human Speciation Part 1

Asperger’s Man- The Search for Multi-Regional Human Speciation Part 1

 

Introduction

My first love will always be archaeology and the study of what makes us human.This article is speculation. This is my personal musing on the development of certain psychological and physiological human traits. This is not to be taken as anything but my personal opinion. I have no evidence that there was an Asperger’s man. This article was also written several years ago and since then more evidence for the possibility of interbreeding with other hominids has come to light in Russia and in Africa that may support my original idea.

Multiregional Theory

The current  model of Homo sapiens evolution is that all modern humans evolved in Africa and spread out from there displacing, destroying, or even out competing all those other hominids they encountered. Multiregional theory has been set aside because it postulated that Homo sapiens evolved in more than one place and there were regional variations. We now know that in at least one case that of the Neanderthal that there was an evolutionary event that created what has been considered a separate species of Human but one capable of interbreeding successfully with Homo sapiens sapien.

So we now know that 3-4% of our genome at least in Asian and European populations contains Neanderthal DNA. This means that Homo sapiens were able to breed with Neanderthals and produce viable offspring. Which means that Neanderthals are most likely regionally evolved Homo sapiens adapted to their unique environment. This would seem to bode well for a reexamination of multiregional theory.

 

Multiregional Speciation?

What if there are other regional human variants that have bone structure so similar to Homo sapiens that they are classified as such, but they have evolved to exist in a different environment?

Imagine that a group of Homo Sapiens evolved separately from other Homo sapiens groups possibly somewhere in the mountains of Central Asia. Neanderthal developed to hunt game in open areas in large family groups growing large bone structures and musculature, while this unknown species evolved in a more rugged forest or mountainous environment. Instead of evolving cooperative hunting and social structures like early modern humans, this unknown species developed a different more isolated way of dealing with the environment and unique ways of thinking. This unknown group is less social because they don’t hunt large herd animals cooperatively like both early modern humans and Neanderthal. Instead they hunt in rugged mountains or deep forests adopting a more singular hunting experience with one or maybe two hunters leaving for days or weeks at a time.
This group of hominids develop heightened senses. They are more sensitive to light because they hunt diurnally at dusk and dawn. Their others senses become heightened as well to make them more aware of danger. This is a dangerous time and while other hominids hunt in large groups our hypothetical people work alone. Their sense of smell and taste are stronger so they become somewhat picky eaters. Their sense of touch becomes more acute and along with that they would seem to have less tolerance to pain. While they are more sensitive to touch they are often more tolerant to temperature variations because they have evolved to live in smaller groups or alone and don’t have group body heat to fall back on. These heightened senses have a trade off. These people are less agile than their homo sapiens cousins because the brain and ear are working overtime on the other senses so these people may seems clumsier.
They are likely to sleep less soundly because they don’t have a large group to protect them. This group would experience more sleeping disorders as a result. Because they are less social they don’t develop as much social interplay or social understanding. They don’t require the ability to read the facial language used by other hominids when hunting in groups. They hunt in dense forests or mountains so this silent facial language would have no meaning to them. They have emotions but have no real evolutionary need to express these emotions because most of their time is spend outside of the main group or in very small groupings.
These people are also more intelligent on average than either Neanderthal or the other Homo sapiens branch. The are individual hunters so they can’t rely on the group dynamic to solve problems. This intelligence allows them to subsist in areas not suited to hunting large animals in groups. They become intensely focused on the task at hand and block out almost anything else. This would prove very useful when stalking prey animals and we see this behavior in many large cats. Their heightened senses have another advantage, they are much better at seeing patterns in their environment. They can discern the smallest detail that may be out of place this would make them excellent trackers, again an adaptation to hunting smaller game animals in a rugged environment.

Could this unknown race of man exist? Is there any evidence for him? Is he hidden somewhere in our genome? Yes, I would suggest that people with Aspergers fit this description. While there are some disabling factors in Aspergers most of those are stress related (fits of anger, depression, facial and body ticks). These stress related problems are almost entirely due to not fitting in properly in a non-Aspergers world. In an all Aspergers world those would probably not even exist.

What is Aspergers

The current belief is that Aspergers is a subset of Autism- The reasoning is that people with HFA (high functioning Autism) mimic Aspergers in many ways. I disagree and I believe that further study of the genetic component of both Autism and Aspergers will bear that the two are separate “disorders”.

Aspergers has a list of traits associated with it including

1. inability to “read” the emotions of other people through facial expression (this can be learned)This has often been mistaken for inability to show empathy.
2. Higher sensory sensitivity (light, taste, touch, hearing etc)
3. Lower sensitivity to temperature extremes
4. clumsiness
5. Intelligence level is always from normal to advanced (basically lower intelligent individuals do not fit into the criteria
6. ability to focus intensely on subjects (these are generally considered to be subjects of interest to the individual)

I’ll quote from wiki on the sensory aspect.

“Individuals with AS often have excellent auditory and visual perception.[33] Children with ASD often demonstrate enhanced perception of small changes in patterns such as arrangements of objects or well-known images; typically this is domain-specific and involves processing of fine-grained features”

If these are evolutionary traits then they fit well a hunter who spends much of his time focusing on prey in a very diverse environment. These hunters would by necessity and prey scarcity hunt and live in smaller groups and focus more on elusive smaller prey animals.

Yes this is all conjecture at this point, but all knowledge starts from someone asking a question. I am asking could there be an evolutionary component to Aspergers?

 

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Writer Mike Baron

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Writer Mike Baron

Mike Baron is the Creator of the comic Badger and co-creator of Nexus. He has worked on Marvel’s Punisher and is a contributor to Big Head Press.
I have always been a fan of your work. I first discovered Badger back in the late 1980s. I even painted Badger on a t-shirt because it was impossible to find t-shirts of comic characters back then that weren’t one of the top four spidey, hulk, superman, or batman. I think I was drawn to Badger because of the internal struggle between his personalities. At that time in my life I was struggling with who I was and who I wanted to be. The Badger story spoke to me as a teen in a way other comic characters did not. To show what a fan boy I was I think I still have all the first run of Badger, or at least most of them and they were not easy to come by in rural North Carolina back in the 1980’s.

Anyway I digress on to the questions…

 

The Hitchhiker asks…

1. What inspired you to create Badger and in a larger sense what inspires all of your creations?

Once Capital accepted Nexus I sought to capitalize by launching another title. The boys insisted on a costumed crime fighter. I was walking down State St. in Madison wondering why a guy would put on a costume and fight crime. He’d have to be crazy. That was the first note. I looked at the shops I was passing. Badger Liquors. Badger Barber Shop. Badger posters. That was the second note. I’d read The Minds of Billy Milligan and it had always stuck with me. I guess I’d been looking to create an MPD super hero all along. I also had those eight pages of Ham the Weather Wizard that Jeff Butler drew so we decided to tack that onto the front of the story and that’s where Ham came from.
The urge to tell a story, to reach an emotional catharsis lies at the heart of all my story telling. It’s the same urge that drives songwriters, I think.
2. How did you get into the comic writing business? What is your advice for someone that is trying to break into the business today?
I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I’d been working with the Dude for several months when we learned via Steven Grant that Capital City Distribution wanted to branch out into comic publishing. I think the best way for young talent to break into the field is to produce their own comics. You can always get them read and all they take is sweat equity. I would guess that the second most popular route is to go to as many comic conventions as you can and hang out with the editors. Buy them drinks. Get them laid.
3. Comics sales seemed to explode in the 1990’s then sales contracted through the early 2000’s do you think that the trend towards the artist who was also the writer hurt comic sales? (I am a big believer that the artists draws and the writer writes and very few people are good at both) Or was it the internet that hurt sales in that time frame? There seems to be a rebirth in comics today is this due to Hollywood’s discovery of the superhero?
There are some terrific artists out there who for some reason think they can write. There are very talented writer/artists like Mike Mignola. But there are a lot of guys who draw great
who end up with writing assignments probably because it’s easier for the publisher. Some of these guys learn on the job. I don’t see where Hollywood has helped comic sales except in the case
of The Walking Dead. Maybe web comics will expand readership. The plethora of publishers today is due to numerous factors. People are desperate to do comics and will give their work away if it means being published. A lot of licensors are handing out licenses to publishers who don’t pay their talent just to keep the property in the public eye. There are a lot of vanity publishers. The big guys, particularly the big independents like Dark Horse, IDW and Dynamite, are very canny about what they publish. That’s why we see so many licensed properties and so few creator-owned at those houses right now. They are simply going where the money is.
4. What do you think is the future of comics? Is it online or are comics at least “profitable” comics going to stay print and paper for sometime to come?
When Henry Ford introduced the Model T experts quickly announced the extinction of the horse. They forgot that people love horses and collect them. Likewise comics. You can’t ride a comic and it doesn’t nuzzle, but you do get that warm thrilling feeling when you crack open a new book by your favorite creators. Print comics will always be with us. But the future of comics lies online. That’s where the readership will grow. These kids today, these kids…they don’t buy comics. They buy video games. And that’s why we see so many video game based entertainments as well.
You describe scififreehold as a science fiction site. I have written a science fiction novel called WHACK JOB which I plan to release digitally next year. It is guaranteed to blow your mind.
5. Scott Bieser of Big Head Press described you to me as the conservative of the crew there. Tell us a little about your political beliefs?
I think it’s fair to say I’m conservative. Of course Scott’s libertarian. Those guys are crazier than gerbils on acid.

 

Thank you for the interview. We appreciate your work and look forward to reading your new work WHACK JOB.
The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author John Ringo

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author John Ringo

This week we interview author John Ringo. He has had several books on the New York Times best seller list and he has over two million books in print. Ringo’s specializes in military/science fiction.

 The Hitchhiker asks…

Question 1- After reading There Will Be Dragons I had a sense that Heinlein had influenced your writing. Are you a fan of his work?

Very much so. Heinlein is the absolute sine qua non of science fiction authors. While I haven’t read all of his works, I’ve read most and he’s definitely my favorite SF author influencing both my writing and my life. Among other things, that bastard Sergeant Ho in Starship Troopers tricked me into joining the infantry.

Question 2- As an archaeologist I have worked on quite a few military bases .I have some amazing stories of insane things that happen in these places. Does your work ever reflect fictionalized real life occurrences from your time in the military and can you share one of these for our readers?

Duh. The US military is not competent. It is simply less incompetent than any other on earth and possibly any other in history. Every military organization, from the inside, appears to be chaos. That is, in a way, a good thing. War and any other ’emergency’ is chaos. The US military’s ability to float upon chaos can thus be seen as a strength, not a weakness.
For personal stories, Gods. Which? I was in the airborne. You don’t get much more chaotic than jumping out of airplanes, at night, the whole operation actually managed by a bunch of people who barely passed high school. The good ones are too long. Come to a con, bring a recorder and buy me a beer.

Question 3- What is your opinion of the importance of nanotechnology and genetic engineering? These two technologies seem to reoccur in your writing and I think many of our readers would like to hear your thoughts on them directly.

Nanotech is probably going to be a huge technology in the future. True nanotech, though, I think is further off than most proponents think. I could be wrong but even taking in Moore’s Law, I don’t see functional ‘in the environment’ nannites in less than fifty years. Too many hurdles in material science to jump.
Genetic engineering, though, ‘synthetic biology’ as it’s starting to be called, is the next ‘big wave.’ We’re at the point, as we were in the early ’80s with software, where everything is low hanging fruit and ‘basement labs’ are completely doable. That has both good and bad implications. The difference between software and bioware is that when some joker creates a software virus, lots of people are given a bad day. The potential for scriptkiddies in bioware is that they can give lots of people their LAST bad day.
The difference is sizeable and is the basis of the book I’m currently working on. I’m not a ‘Frankenstein’ believer in the ‘dangers’ of technology. But when you have the ability for some bright 13 year old to make Spanish Flu in his mother’s basement… There are some issues there that we’d better start addressing. And saying ‘you can’t do that, it’s illegal!’ is not ‘addressing’ the issue. It would both degrade research and be functionally useless. But that would tend to be any government’s reaction. Make a law and you’ve fixed the problem. Like, say, drugs.

Question 4- Many of your works involve the collapse of civilization and the heroes that rise to stem the tide of savagery that rises. If society were to collapse what precautions in your opinion could the average person take to ride out the worst?

The ‘worst’? None. Except be mentally and emotionally prepared for it. Have guns, have food, have friends and hope you have more friends (and or ammo) than the person who only has guns and friends. Doing ‘extreme’ preparations for apocalypse is silly. And unless you have a job that you can do in the middle of nowhere and don’t want to have a Hooters nearby… You really can’t ‘plan.’ All you can do is be mentally and somewhat physically prepared. Anyone who doesn’t have some stocks of food and water, no matter where they live and work, is an idiot. Probably the major attraction of an ‘apocalypse’ for most readers is that (contrary to Hollywood zombie movies) it really would tend to weed out the idiots.

Question 5- This website is devoted to conservatives, objectivists, and libertarians. It may be the only right of center science fiction news and lifestyle site on the web. I am not 100% certain of your political ideology but I think I can deduce some of it from your writing style. Do you think that there is a market for more conservative/libertarian science fiction?

First, I’m sort of libertarian with sense. I don’t think, I know, that humans cannot do without government. OTOH, it’s a good servant and a terrible master. So call me a fascist libertarian. I’m not sure that it’s the only ‘right of center’ site on the Web. In fact, if you count Instapundit, who regularly reads and often reviews my books, it’s definitely not the only one. But instapundit isn’t entirely SF based so you pays your money and you takes your choice as my mom used to say. As to the question does there need to be more? You need to read more Baen. Again, this discussion is endless. There are any number of liberals in SF and fandom who don’t even realize there are conservative/libertarian SF fans. My EXTREMELY libertarian novel Live Free or Die (Baen) was number 18 on the NYT hardcover list. And libertarian/conservative SF novels almost invariably outsell ‘liberal’ oriented novels. (Compare the my sales to China Mieville. He has the recognition, I get the money. I’ll take the money.)
Yeah, you definitely need to read more Baen.

 

Thank you for the Interview we appreciate you taking time out to speak with us.

Why They Still Died on the Paleo Diet

As a practitioner of the paleo diet (although not perfectly), I get a lot of questions about it.  One of them was aimed more at the philosophy of it.  “If it is so great, why did they not have as long a life expectancy as we do?”  I suppose this is a fair question given the claims of the Paleo Diet.

There are many factors that go into computing life expectancy and diet is only one of them.

1. Life expectancy also takes into account the infant death rate.  Remove this death rate and you actually get a fairer picture of what a group of people’s lifestyle and technology does to their life expectancy.  Along with this is mothers who die giving birth due to complications.  Modern medicine has caused these two problems to diminish significantly.

2. Environment – No, I am not talking about pollution here but the fact that modern man has learned to shield himself from the elements better as well as generate heat and cold better than our prehistoric brothers.  There are also the perils of hunting itself.  When I practice my Paleo Diet I head to the grocery store and buy my meat and veggies.  My ancestors had to grab a bow or spear and go kill something and some of those somethings had claws and horns.  In those situations, the hunted can become the hunter and even if it does not kill you a wound can be just as lethal.

3. Lack of Knowledge About Infection – this leads to of course how many people died from a lack of having germ theory or a proper understanding of what causes infection.  They also lacked the understandings of what to do when infection sets in.  Modern pharmacology did not exist and what did exist in the form of medicine was trial and error with herbs and superstition.  In the Paleo world a small cut could lead to death.

I could on and on about all the things that affect life expectancy, but these are the ones that jump to mind immediately.  The point we paleo people are trying to make is simple.  You don’t see the rapid plaque build up in the arteries, tooth decay and shorter weaker people in paleo societies.  You see them in modern agricultural ones.  You see it when grains and sugars become the staple foods instead of the occasional find by the gatherers.  Anthropologists simply do not see diet causing the early death of the paleolithic people or even tribal people of today.  We do see that in our modern one however.

It seems then that the best avenue for longer and healthy life is to combine the modern medical understandings of the human body with the diet of the past that our bodies are designed to accept.  That way the best of both worlds combines to make us healthy and stronger.  It may also be the key to extending our lives a little bit farther.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Dr. Jerry Pournelle

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Dr. Jerry Pournelle

We have a special treat for our readers this morning. One of my all time favorite authors Dr, Jerry Pournelle.  Having co-authored my third favorite book Lucifer’s Hammer (1 and 2 are both Heinlein works) I was a little nervous to contact him and more nervous to actually ask for an interview. Luckily I got over that  and I am very proud to present this interview for our audience here at the Freehold.

Normally we like to ask four questions about the person’s work and a fifth question being about politics. Many of our readers are very familiar with Dr. Pournelle’s writing. In fact in my circle of acquaintances both on the internet and in real life Lucifer’s Hammer is referenced quite often along with many of his other work’s. So we focused this interview  on asking Dr. Pournelle political questions.

 The Hitchhiker asks…

1. My first conscious introduction to you was the forward you wrote for Heinlein’s Take Back Your Government In fact your forward and that book helped make me a politically aware person. It also influenced me to vote for Ross Perot that year. Do you think Perot was the right man at that time and do you think third parties actually accomplish anything in our society beyond being a spoiler for one of the large party candidates?

 

The goal of many adherents of the Perot movement was to alter the political process of the United States, and particularly the party nomination process; specifically to move some of the control of that process back down to the precinct and legislative district level where it had been for a century. It was not so much support of Perot himself as of the viability of a third party candidate with popular support.

 

 

2. Lucifer’s Hammer is a favorite in my crowd. I like to think of that crowd as the rational preppers. Do you have any thoughts about how and why the prepper movement has developed in this country to such an extent?

 

I’m not sure what you mean by prepper. It is not a word I use. Citizens ought to be prepared for local emergencies, and I was at one time an Emergency Preparedness merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts, and as Assistant Scoutmaster I insisted on Emergency Preparedness in our local troop. I was also involved with the Civil Defense network and activities. I do not believe that the Federal Government can establish an agency to take the place of what used to be Civil Defense, and it seems clear to me that the frequent FEMA failures illustrate this.

Self government requires citizens willing to participate in self government rather than rely on distant government organizations to take care of them. During the Cold War the primary threat to civilization in the US was from nuclear war. In my view the best way to survive a nuclear war is not to have one, but if that fails, then there are obvious steps one may take to make survival more probable. Today the threats are quite different, as are their probabilities.

 

At my age I would not expect to survive the collapse of civilization, nor would I expect to be able to conduct a point defense against organized marauders. Local Civil Defense organizations were the best preparation against the failure of national military deterrence – and had the merit of making that deterrence more stable. There are preparations that regions can make against threats to civilization – such as world power failure following enormous solar flares. They aren’t being made now. How effectively individuals or small communities can prepare against a million people with limited resources and time before starvation in a world without electrical power (no refrigerators, no pipelines, no food distribution system operating in a world of ‘just in time’ delivery to grocery stores, etc.. etc.) is not so clear or obvious. Again local Civil Defense organizations with a chain of command and some contingency plans would seem to have the best chance here.

 

The old notion of survival companies able to hole up and survive the first months following nuclear war and fallout with its casualties doesn’t apply when no one is sick yet but everyone is starving, and cars still run, bridges are still intact, but fuel is running out. That kind of Hobbesian world makes for rather depressing science fiction novels.

 

3.Our readers are concerned about the space program and NASA. While I believe personally that commercial space exploration is the future I can not stress how important the contributions of NASA scientists have been to our society. We certainly would not be doing this interview over email without some of the technology developed in the Apollo era and beyond. In light of all your work in the aerospace community do you believe NASA still holds an important role in space exploration?

 

I have long ago said that governments are supposed to look out for our grandchildren now that we no longer have kings and aristocrats who do that. The problem is that government does only a few things well. It can organize for defined missions like Apollo, but then the standing army created for doing that tends to stay around and absorb resources.

 

There are things that government can and should do. I summarize that as “Prizes and X Projects”. I wrote that briefing a long time ago, and it’s available as “How to get to Space” http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/gettospace.html

 

 

4. There is a belief that Republican administrations are anti-science. I can understand where some would feel that way because of the anti-evolution crowd among the religious right. However when I have looked at the numbers, presidents like George Bush increased NASA funding while the Obama Administration has slashed it. What are your thoughts on the political difference in spending for science?

 

I was campaign manager for the first (and successful) campaign of Barry Goldwater, Jr. for Congress. Barry was on the Science Committee and attempted to save a number of advanced research projects such as NERVA. My old friend Dana Rohrbacher has long been a congressional friend of advanced research projects. Newt Gingrich tried to introduce Prizes for space projects and has long been known as a space cadet. There is a place for government in space development. But I covered all that in the last question.  See http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/gettospace.html

 

 

5. Since the first four questions were political in nature I thought I would save a science fiction question for last. The modern trend in speculative fiction is away from hard science fiction and has moved towards a melange of vampire eroticism, mystical children, and medieval fantasy. Even when Hollywood attempts a science fiction story (see my review of the new Total Recall) they infuse the story with so much pseudo-scientific gobbledegook that it gives me a headache. Do you think that this lack of interest in hard science fiction says something about our society?

 

When I first got into science fiction, fantasy was a small branch of SF, and SFWA was the Science Fiction Writers of America; fantasy writers could join but it was a courtesy. Now fantasy is much larger in sales than SF. On the other hand, science fiction still sells. Lucifer’s Hammer was fifteen weeks on the best-seller list, and continues to sell well as an electronic book (and indeed eBook rights are probably worth more now than print rights for many SF works).

 

The American public school system has become a national disaster, and we have a generation unprepared for understanding science or science fiction; and a school system that believes that everything is relative and thus a matter of opinion (including so far as I can see the value of Planck’s Constant and the solution to the problem of 12.3 + 44) isn’t likely to generate students fond of works like The Cold Equations, or for that matter that kind of tales I tell which still have stories of honor and loyalty. Fortunately the Internet has produced a remedy, and those who really want to learn can turn to the Kahn Academy and various MIT and Cal Tech lectures, and such like. The means for learning are out there.

 

And, as Mr. Heinlein used to say, mankind will go to space, but there is no law of the Universe that says that the language spoken out there will be English.

 

America has the potential to go back to space, beginning with Moon Colonies and continuing to the asteroids and beyond. I wrote all that years ago in my non-fiction book A Step Farther Out http://www.baenebooks.com/p-922-a-step-farther-out.aspx and it’s still pretty valid.

 

Dr. Pournelle Thank you for this interview it was a genuine pleasure.

Tribute to a Stainless Steel Rat

Tribute to a Stainless Steel Rat

I just found out that Harry Harrison passed away this morning at the age of 87. I want to express my condolences to his family. Harry Harrison touched many lives including my own. I can’t express the joy I had reading the adventures of slippery Jim DiGriz over the years. I normally hate stories about criminals but Jim was just the right kind of criminal. Not a villain in any sense of the word but a man who was bored by a society that was too artificial, too controlled, and just to damn uptight. The “Rat” was not Harrison’s only creation by a long shot and his other work stands just as exulted in the annals of science fiction. Who doesn’t know what soylent green is made of? We owe at least the inspiration for Soylent Green if not the product itself (cannibalism was added by the filmmakers) to Harrison’s novel Make Room, Make Room.  He was also an Illustrator for EC comics and an anthology editor. He is credited with raising the standards of science fiction as literature by creating strict guidelines for the anthologies he was involved with.

Harrison was a visionary. He understood something about the human condition and how to make people laugh. That is something most writers today miss. We all have a little bit of Slippery Jim in us and that’s why Harrison’s writings will stay fresh forever.

Please take a moment today to remember one of science fiction’s great story tellers.

Nuke it from Orbit- Part Two of We Must Nuke Mars Now Before It Is Too Late

The year is 1987 and a 17 year old has an epiphany. That 17 year old was me and I was a Junior in high school. While I was obsessed with sex like all other teen males, I was also obsessed with science fiction. Heinlein in particular was my favorite and still is all these years later. This infatuation with Heinlein made me a little more militant and a lot less liberal than my fellow students. Don’t get me wrong all teens are liberals to some extent and in my own way I wanted to save the environment. My plan was to seed Mars with Earth life and recreate the garden Earth. Of course I was naive and full of liberal clap trap fed to me by teachers, but I still had a germ of an idea that I would not let go.  How to terraform Mars in my lifetime? I decided to learn why Mars is not habitable now rather than learn how people wanted to terraform it.

I suffer or am blessed with aspergers depending on how you see it. That means I often see problems reversed from the way other people see them. So I came at this problem, like so many, backwards and it quickly gave me a solution. This was years before the internet and I realize now that others had thought of this before me, but I had come up with this idea on my own. My idea was to NUKE the hell out of Mars. I wanted to do something Robert Heinlein had taught me….I wanted to use  “naked force” to solve a problem.

“Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any
other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.
Nations and peoples who forget this basic truth have always paid for it
with their lives and freedoms.” Robert Anson Heinlein

I didn’t want to nuke it randomly. I wanted to apply pressure through the use of Nukes at strategic points on the plant’s surface. To create on the planet the optimum conditions to produce a runway greenhouse effect. A grid of Nuclear explosions over the North and South poles of Mars during the Martian summer would accomplish the goal. These explosions would melt the Carbon Dioxide trapped in the poles and the carbon ash fallout would blanket the remaining ice raising the albedo of the poles. The water ice that wasn’t instantly unfrozen would unfreeze in the warmer temperatures of a world with a much denser CO2 atmosphere. Simple and elegant, it would be the most effective use of “Naked Force” in the history of man.

Not many years later I would be on the internet and I got in touch with several physicists and NASA personnel always pushing my idea, which I had learned by then was not unique. I always got the same answer. Doing something like this would bring out the anti-nuke nuts in droves and even if it was a good idea it would never happen. Well folks, time is running out. If we conservatives win this Presidential election and are able to maintain control of the House and take the Senate this will be our last chance to poke the environmentalists in the eye and make a new home for ourselves. It won’t render Mars inhabitable but it will take it a long long way down the path.

We must nuke Mars now, time is running out!!!!!

We Must Nuke Mars Now Before It Is Too Late

Every other site on the net is discussing the Curiosity rover touchdown last night. I am as excited as the next person and we did a story on it last week. There is little for me to say that hasn’t been said better on a hundred different web sites and TV channels.  The massive coverage is great. I never thought we as a nation would get excited about space again. When the progressives slashed NASA to the bone four years ago I was sure we were done. Now that the rover is on the surface and people are excited again I want to look beyond just these robotic ventures to mankind’s destiny on Mars.

There are several programs working to place men on Mars and some mean for humans to stay on the planet as colonists. I think the Mars One project is getting a little ahead of itself.  I do however applaud the ambition of Mars One project to have permanent settlements on Mars by 2023, but there is some initial ground work we need to do first, and it can be accomplished by 2023.

I am talking about terraforming Mars, and no it does not take hundreds of years to make Mars a much more habitable place than it is now. What it takes is the will to make it happen and the will to buck the environmentalist wackos that have stymied the space program over the years. The left is quick to tell you how much more scientifically literate they are compared to anyone on the right. They will tell anyone who will listen that conservatives, libertarians, and even objectivists could care less about science and science education. It is all a lie. The progressive left is the biggest obstacle to scientific advancement that has ever faced this country. The left destroyed the promising nuclear rocket program of the 1960s. That program was developing rocket engines that could have taken us across the solar system in weeks instead of years. The left left has all but gutted NASA in favor of Muslim outreach (see link HERE) and mothballed our space program as well as the next generation of shuttles in favor of a corrupt welfare system which wastes more money on fraudulent payouts in one week than NASA has budgeted for an entire year.

The left is no friend of science and on top of that the progressive left is at heart controlled by the environmental movement. An environmental movement enamored by a fascination with luddite solutions to all problems. In fact if these people such as Steve Chu who is Obama’s Secretary of Energy and has expressed the opinion that this nation needs to pay more for energy (so we quit driving and we eliminate suburban areas), and Cass Sunstein who was Obama’s regulatory Czar (who wrote a book about how rocks and trees should be given the right to sue landowners for damages) get their way there is no way on Earth and especially Mars that we will advance any further technologically. In fact these are the people that will force environmental regulations on anyone who think they can utilize the Martian environment. We as a society need to act now and act decisively to make Mars ready for habitation before the progressive law makers make that all but impossible.

How do we accomplish this feat? How do we terraform Mars in a manner that is quick and efficient and can be accomplished with current technology? I suggest we Nuke the Red Planet till it glows.

Post to be continued……..(and you thought I would just tell you why we should nuke Mars. Think about it until I post the second half of the article)