We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Maybe you will remember for the rest of your life where you were when you first read this post

Or maybe you, and I, will eventually wince, sigh, and add one more entry to the list that contains the Fleishman-Pons announcement of cold fusion in 1989 and the 2011 OPERA faster-than-light neutrino anomaly.

I followed a link in this tweet by Matt Ridley, and found this article by Sean Thomas in the Spectator:

“Have we just discovered aliens?”

It seems to be serious.

46 comments to Maybe you will remember for the rest of your life where you were when you first read this post

  • It did occur to me that it was odd of Dr Smethurst to speculate quite as boldly as she did. She spends a lot of time on her channel talking about standards of certainty and the standard seems to be pretty high in her field. The idea that a paper might be in “stuck” in peer review is tantalising, but then the whole point of peer review is to check the paper isn’t poppycock.

  • Y. Knott

    Nah, I won’t remember it – if only because I didn’t read it, but in reality OF COURSE there are aliens out there. That there is “US” here, who crawled up from the slime to rule (?) the world, means that somewhere out there “THEY” crawled up from their slime to do likewise to their world. And indeed, I view the numerous “oofoe” (UFO?) sightings as a positive thing, because it suggests that “they” figured-out how to make faster-than-light space travel work; maybe we can too. We know so little about ourselves – or our world – or our solar system – or the galaxy, or the universe etc etc ad nauseam, that us sitting here on our fat duffs proclaiming “WE are the ONLY ONES in ALL Creation!” smacks of conceit and hubris writ large; there are so many things, phenomena, nay – entire fields of study – that we can’t research or even imagine because we haven’t encountered them yet so we don’t know they exist.

    And the way I described it to my kids ( – a long, long time ago, to my despair; will the Race PLEASE get-on with engineering eternal life???) was thusly: imagine if you will, that dogs receive or develop the scientific method and learn how to manipulate DNA, and a grey-ribbon (dogs can’t see blue?) panel of ‘experts’ gathers to design the Super-Wolf. It’d be awesomely fast, and able to leap tall buildings, and have incredible hearing and smell and unbreakable fangs – but would it have colour vision? Likely not because dogs, due to the motion-detecting properties of black-and-white vision, don’t (?) see colours. What are all the things that we can’t see?

    Addenda – OOPS – it says dogs CAN see blue ( https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/what-colors-do-dogs-see ) The things you learn…

  • john in cheshire

    Why does no one posit the idea that “Aliens” are fallen angels and demons? That would make the most sense to me.

  • Stonyground

    The detection of organic compounds would be exiting because it would be proof of the existence of life that we mostly suspected would be out there. Radio signals containing some kind of language would be a much bigger deal. I don’t think that there is a lot to worry about given the distances involved. Any radio signals were likely to have been generated a very long time ago. The civilisation that created them might no longer even exist.

  • Exasperated

    I’m a simple soul so I’m asking. Does the term Alien always imply extraterrestrial?

  • MC

    Why does no one posit the idea that “Aliens” are fallen angels and demons?

    I think some do, more or less. There’s certainly some French chap who reckons ‘alien’ activity is beings from other planes, rather than planets.

    Generally, however, talk of real angels & demons tends to be associated with loonies….

  • Steph houghton

    No alien orignaly meant non citizen.

  • You have to cut Sean Thomas some slack. He has a brilliant, if eccentric, mind. His contributions over the years, under a variety of pseudonyms, to politicalbetting.com, make up for any deficiencies.

  • Fraser Orr

    It doesn’t seem to me to likely be a heartstopping moment. Sounds though that something is going round the community. But most likely that will be the discovery of some sort chemical signature that may well indicate something akin to exoplanetary biological activity.

    FWIW, I don’t find that surprising at all. I think life is probably pretty common in the universe. It seems to arise easily out of nature. Here on earth we seem to find it in even the most unlikely of spots. It seems to arise naturally as a consequence of chemistry and time anywhere there is liquid water — due to the unusual properties of liquid water.

    However, I think that people quickly make the jump from very simple forms of biological systems, even reproducing systems with some mechanism for adaption similar to DNA, all the way to little green men with laser guns.

    Although I think life is very common in the universe, I think intelligent life is very rare, in fact it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we were the only extant example.

    One need only look at the data set we have. Although life is abundant on earth, it seems to quickly (in the geological sense of “quickly”) arise where-ever possible. Intelligent life? It has been around for a tiny fraction of the time life has populated the planet. Of course it depends on what you mean by intelligent, but in the sense of “able to create technology”, or better “where progress depended on intelligent decisions rather than biological evolution” human life has been in that place for maybe ten thousand years, maybe with the capacity for 100,000 years. That is 0.0002% of the history of earth, or to use the analogy where the life of earth is a day, this started about 10:30pm on December 31.

    And it is a singular event on earth. Of all the species the earth has produced, one out of billions has produced this feature. It seems fair to say that it is very rare, and there is no biological imperative that demands it arise…. it is just something that happened to happen here.

    I think it is worth giving a physical comparison. A few years ago I had the experience of observing a lunar eclipse. It is a beautiful phenomenon. Lunar eclipses happen because of a strange coincidence — that the ratio of the diameter of the moon and sun is almost exactly the same as the ratio of the distance to the moon and the sun. There is no physical reason for this — it just is a random happening. So it is my opinion that it is unlikely that you can watch a lunar eclipse on any other planet in the whole galaxy. Sometimes singular events happen without a cause, and I suspect intelligent life may well be like that.

    I should also mention that I think SETI is a big waste of time, insofar as it is based on radio wave detection. The progress of radio technology goes from loud and obvious signals to quiet and background noise like signals. To optimize the use of the available radio spectrum technology physics demand that we use quieter cellular signals, and that the signals look more and more like noise as it’s entropy is compressed out of it. So, EM signals, over time get quieter and look more and more like random noise as a consequence of physics. They are loud and noisy only for a very short time — not because of the way our civilization developed, but as a consequence of physics itself.

    These signals are impossible to remotely detect at any distance, and even if we could, we couldn’t tell the difference between them and just random background noise. So, the only possible way is if an alien signal was specifically directed at us at EXTREMELY high power. Why would they do that? Why would they choose us out of billions of stars?

  • Penseivat

    If there is alien life somewhere in the Cosmos (something the law of averages or probability will suggest there is), there is no reason to suggest that this alien life is at a stage where communication is possible. Perhaps this life is at a stage far behind, or in advance of, humankind. Today’s scientists would find it difficult to communicate with human scholars of the 1st century, or Neanderthals. Just imagine how difficult it would be to communicate with squid, dinosaurs, cockroaches, or bovines from planet X?
    Unlike the aliens of Star Trek, Star Gate, or Star Wars, where earth gravity of 1.4 lbs per square inch is acceptable; where oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere is breathable; facial and body reactions are on a par with Californians; and they would fit into human clothes, I would suggest that a first contact would be a mish mash of confusion. Human nature has shown that our political leaders first thought will be, “How can we take advantage of this?” Best to stay away.

  • Alex

    The word alien originally meant that which belongs somewhere else. An outlander. It developed the primary meaning of extraterrestrial comparatively recently. The word has been in use for at least two thousand years, and has cognates in English and other Germanic languages, but meaning an extraterrestrial for only a hundred years or so and it still had its original meaning as the primary meaning until around forty years ago.

    It is intriguing that there seems to be some pending announcement from the British scientific establishment. I wasn’t aware until this post so ta muchly Natalie for the interesting post.

  • Alex

    Today’s scientists would find it difficult to communicate with human scholars of the 1st century, or Neanderthals.

    After a little culture shock on both sides, I don’t think it would be difficult at all to communicate with 1st century scholars. Neanderthals might pose a greater difficulty but not insuperable. Chimp, Bonobos and humans have significant common sign language with slightly different semantics. Neanderthals would be much closer to humans in that regard, and not difficult to establish primitive communication. More sophisticated communication would probably happen in weeks, or even days.

    Alien life would, as you say, likely be so totally different that we might not even understand what it was. We’d likely stand more chance of effective communication with whales before doing so with entities from another biome.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Alex
    Alien life would, as you say, likely be so totally different that we might not even understand what it was. We’d likely stand more chance of effective communication with whales before doing so with entities from another biome.

    Not to forget that minor little detail that conversation is a bit difficult when each message back and forth takes considerably longer to deliver than your lifetime 😀

  • rhoda klapp

    Alien life would, as you say, likely be so totally different that we might not even understand what it was.

    Everybody knows aliens are bipedal, aboout six feet tall and have two arms, five fingers on each hand, two eyes but a lot of weird makeup. I’ve seen it in hundreds of scifi shows. They speak English mostly, with an American accent.

  • bobby b

    I’m betting they’ll just transmit a complete alien genome file set and a self-executing system that will start to transform humans into aliens.

    The first one will be called Elon . . .

  • Paul Marks

    The article appears to be speculation – as yet (as yet) there appears to be no real hard news.

    I am reminded of the Tucker Carlson, picked by other people on the right, that aliens were visiting Earth – the basis for this story was that the government was denying it. The fallacy that if the government lies a lot (which it does) then EVERYTHING it says must be a lie – so if says their are no space aliens a particular government base, there must be space aliens at this base. The weakness of the argument should be obvious.

    After a few days Tucker went back to other matters – matters with some real evidence.

    By the way…. if there really were space aliens on Earth all other matters (the corruption of the Bidens, the various wars, and so on) would be of little importance in comparison.

  • Schrödinger's Dog

    There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the appearance of life on Earth was an extremely unlikely event, so I’m very skeptical of the idea its existence elsewhere in the universe.

    But, supposing this is the real deal and life has been found on another world, as a space exploration enthusiast I’ll be very happy, as it will mean a lot more effort will be put into making interstellar flight a reality.

  • Phil B

    @bobby b January 11, 2024 at 9:30 pm

    No – Elon is the second. The first is Mark Zukerberg (as far as I can tell from the limited sample I’ve seen).

    But as the memes say “Another Biden corruption scandal/story is about to break. Unleash the Aliens!”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    On the subject of communicating with aliens, i recommend reading Dragon’s Egg and its sequel, Starquake, by Robert Forward.

    It’s about a small team of human astronauts investigating a neutron star and finding intelligent life on its surface. Communications are complicated by the fact that life on Dragon’s Egg is based on nuclear, not chemical, reactions; and are therefore much faster. When the astronauts appear, the locals have not yet developed agriculture; when the astronauts are ready to leave, the locals have overtaken them in science & technology.

    There is a memorable scene in which an alien scientist starts to receive a message from the astronauts, goes on vacation, and returning from vacation finds that the message is not yet completed.

  • JJM

    There’s not a shred of evidence that anything or anyone is out there so the truth is that it’s all speculation rather than science. Either there is “alien life” or there isn’t. I realize that’s not a very satisfying statement for Star Trek fans.

    Personally, I’ve occasionally wondered if aliens might just have skimmed by our planet sometime in the Paleoproterozoic and concluded, “Meh. Nothing to see here”.

  • bobby b

    Phil B
    January 11, 2024 at 10:37 pm

    “No – Elon is the second. The first is Mark Zukerberg (as far as I can tell from the limited sample I’ve seen).”

    On reflection, I can buy that.

    Or . . . They’ve actually been transforming Earth’s national leaders for some years, encoding the newly transformed aliens with the message “welcome all aliens” in order to make their physical arrival easier.

    But, with our “alien” definition being so wide, that message went horribly awry . . .

  • Zerren Yeoville

    We have been here before. Does anyone “remember where they were” 28 years ago at the announcement of the supposed discovery of micro-fossils in a meteorite identified as being of Martian origin?

    Should we even be courting the possibility of attracting the attention of extraterrestrials anyway? The late L. Neil Smith included the observation in his novel ‘Forge Of The Elders’ that “For a number of excellent reasons, all sapients begin as predators” … and if that strikes you as too depressing a thought, then consider the proposition that Charles Pellegrino and George Zebrowski advanced in their novel, ‘The Killing Star’ that the first move of any alien species on discovering humans would be to wipe us out as a potential threat, because even the tiniest risk of them being wiped out by us is not worth taking. Pellegrino and Zebrowski lay out the rationale like this:

    “1) THEIR SURVIVAL WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR SURVIVAL. If an alien species has to choose between them and us, they won’t choose us. It is difficult to imagine a contrary case; species don’t survive by being self-sacrificing.

    2) WIMPS DON’T BECOME TOP DOGS. No species makes it to the top by being passive. The species in charge of any given planet will be highly intelligent, alert, aggressive, and ruthless when necessary.

    3) THEY WILL ASSUME THAT THE FIRST TWO LAWS APPLY TO US.”

  • Colli

    On the subject of communicating with aliens, i recommend reading Dragon’s Egg and its sequel, Starquake, by Robert Forward.

    Fiasco by Stanisław Lem is also good.

  • Roué le Jour

    I estimate one in a thousand planets with microbial life. One in a thousand of those having multicellular creatures running around on dry land eating each other. One in a thousand of those getting smart enough to build a civilization, and if that isn’t rare enough, our own immanent defeat by people with no practical interest in space whatsoever suggests that technological societies don’t last long enough for there to be more than one around at a time. Yeah, we’re on our own and aliens, like gods, ghosts and monsters, are figments of our imagination.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The search for intelligent life continues. It seems to be on the decline on the Earth.

  • Paul Marks

    Johnathan Pearce – yes.

  • Paul Marks

    As has been pointed out above (for example by Phil B) “the space aliens are here” is a classic distraction tactic that has been used since at least the 1960s.

    However, it also serves another purpose – it discredits other dissent, as soon as someone comes out with “the space aliens are here!” everything else they say, or that people associated-with-them say, is discredited.

    It is a very simple method for discrediting dissent “feed them stuff about space aliens – if they fall for it, then all the real stuff, on other matters, they have – will be dismissed as Conspiracy Theory” – yet this simple establishment (Deep State) tactic works again-and-again.

    Perhaps Snorri is correct and our diet fogs our brains.

  • James R

    I may be wrong, but this seems to reflect observations of exoplanet K2-18b by Madhusudhan et al in Astrophysical Journal Letters last year and the subject of a long non technical article in the November 2023 edition of the magazine Astronomy Now. The JWST has indeed found a potentially very strong biosignature in the atmosphere of the exoplanet – it is Dimethyl Sulfide, which on earth is only produced by phytoplankton in our oceans and depletes in our atmosphere in only a few days – meaning any DMS would need to be continuously replenished. K2-18b is 120 light years away, orbits a red dwarf in the habitable zone and is strongly suspected to be a hycean world – hydrogen atmosphere over global ocean. Mass 8.6 times earth, diameter 2.6 times so density quite low – not a rocky body, more ice based, but not a mini Neptune as no ammonia in the atmosphere (there is carbon dioxide and methane). It isn’t certain yet because the biosignature is still tentative (comes from only two transits of the exoplanet across its star) and there is still work to be done about hycean world chemistry to definitely rule out abiotic origin. But yes, it’s very promising. Not a secret, and the Spectator is very much behind the times, but definitely interesting.

  • Kirk

    I’ll believe that we’ve got aliens running around when I run into one down at the local supermarket…

    The entire issue says far more about the “believers” than it does about the aliens. You want someone, some “big daddy in the sky” to come save you? Yeah; and these are the same people who laugh at the godly and religious for having a similar impulse.

    I’m sure that there’s intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos. What else am I reasonably sure of? That they’d hardly spend a bunch of time and effort to come here and kidnap/probe random people, or bother to even do more than say “Yeah, there’s life here…” on a quick fly-by. Any resources we might have to offer are available elsewhere and are much easier to access there, as well. Why haul things out of a gravity well?

    So, actual aliens are unlikely as hell. Not based off the behavior we think we see demonstrated. A much more likely explanation? General human nuttiness. This isn’t a new phenomenon, at all… If you go back and look at the newspapers from the Old West, you’ll find hundreds of accounts of people describing visits by aeronauts from the East, or Europe, or wherever else they could make sense of. The descriptions were of people tying up their balloon/aerial machine, and joining these “witnesses” by their campfires for coffee or a meal.

    The phenomenon is a lot like schizophrenia, in that it expresses the zeitgeist of the times more than anything else. You don’t see the same expression of the thing in different cultures, similar to the way “voices in the head” here in the West are usually telling you nasty things like “Kill your neighbors” and in other cultures are saying nicer, more comforting things to their schizophrenics.

    I rather doubt we’re ever going to have honest-to-God aliens show up, not out here in the cosmic boonies. We’re too far from things, physically, and unless our understanding of the universe is really off, the travel constraints mean that the closest we’re likely to come will be some highly arguable and questionable radio waves coming in.

    Or, not. The universe is a strange place, full of surprises. It’s entirely possible that the “alien visit/probe” thing is actually our own remote descendants who’ve somehow figured out time travel, and they’re coming back here to do historical investigations. Which would explain the interest in probing, along with all the rest…

    On the other hand, who the hell knows? The whole thing could be some graduate student’s sorry attempt at running a “universe simulation” over a long holiday weekend, and we’re all really resident on some computer somewhere as mere code. Which would explain a lot of features of both life and the universe as we observe it.

  • Steven R

    We know life can exist. We’re proof of that. We know the same laws that govern physics and chemistry (including bio- and organic chemistry) are the same everywhere in the universe. And we know the universe is unimaginably large. Far too large for a human mind to fully grasp it would seem. So yes, if life can happen on our mostly water covered rock orbiting an unremarkable star in an unexciting arm of a normal run-of-the-mill galaxy there is no reason at all that this place should be unique in harboring life nor of life evolving to some level of intelligence. We just haven’t seen any evidence of it. Yet.

    That said, I am far less concerned with life somewhere else in the cosmos than I am about things like Mitch McConnell’s deal that effectively is amnesty for illegal aliens, the skyrocketing cost of housing, inflation, megacorporations and banks dictating DEI and undermining every institution, WEF, the ever-expanding war in the Middle East, watching the entire West continue to commit suicide, and a myriad of other concerns that are far more pressing and immediate in my life.

  • Fraser Orr

    @JamesR thanks for this. I KNEW I had heard something about this before but you pinned it down. I did a bit of digging. Here is a YT video discussing this from Dr. Becky Smethurst, who is always interesting on astrophysics. She is a bit skeptical and gives I think a balanced view of the evidence.

    I do want to say again, the general public often confuse “life on alien planet” with “little green men with ray guns” which this most certainly isn’t. But obviously the audience here is way too smart to make that mistake.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Steven R
    We know the same laws that govern physics and chemistry (including bio- and organic chemistry) are the same everywhere in the universe.

    I’m actually not sure that is true (that we know that.) It seems a reasonable assumption and all of modern astrophysics is based on it, but we certainly don’t know for sure that is true. Let’s remember to recognize the limits of our knowledge. Based on current theories “normal” matter consists of 5% of the universe, “dark matter” consists of 25% more of it, and dark energy the remaining 70%. We have a deep understanding of “normal” matter, we know very little about dark matter and we know almost nothing about dark energy. So, we know almost nothing about 95% of the universe. I think there might be a bit of a gap to fit in some surprises.(To be clear, we know so little about dark matter and dark energy that we don’t even know it exists despite the fact that theory says that the room you are sitting in is filled with both.)

    And we know the universe is unimaginably large. Far too large for a human mind to fully grasp it would seem. So yes, if life can happen on our mostly water covered rock orbiting an unremarkable star in an unexciting arm of a normal run-of-the-mill galaxy there is no reason at all that this place should be unique in harboring life nor of life evolving to some level of intelligence.

    There is also no reason that it should. Humans have a very poor understanding of probability. To give an example, if you shuffle a pack of playing cards well, then the order of the cards you have left has almost certainly never been seen before in human history — even though packs of cards are shuffled a thousand times a minute in every casino in the world, and have been for two hundred years. Why? Because we have absolutely no concept of how large 52! actually is.

    And I come back to the example I gave of the lunar eclipse. The coincidence that causes it is so unlikely I’d bet you a beer that there are no other planets in the galaxy where you can observe a similar phenomenon. It isn’t because the earth or the moon are so special. It is just a weird random event, as random as your shuffle of a pack of cards. And I think intelligent life is most likely of the same nature. But for sure, I’d like to be proved wrong. (Though I also think we don’t even have the technological capability to prove me either wrong or right currently. There could be a technological civilization on a planet round Alpha Centuria, and I don’t think we could know for certain.)

    Like I said above (and for the reasons I gave above) I think life is probably fairly common in the universe, I think intelligent life is exceedingly rare, in fact I think there is a very good chance we are the only example of it in our galaxy.

  • Kirk

    Given the number of “hacks” that go into human consciousness and self-awareness in the first damn place, plus the inherent unreliability of our senses…?

    I think it’s a much better bet to say that there’s a bunch of shared delusion going on with regards to all these “alien visitations” than it would be to posit an advanced technological civilization arising near enough to us to visit, and then doing so during our lifetimes.

    There’s a long history of similar things, going back even beyond recorded history. You can see halo-like images in some cave paintings; the descriptions of the things Ezekiel saw in the Bible sound a hell of a lot like UFOs, there are Egyptian and other carvings that all look as though they had been carved after seeing astronauts. All the odd little things like the “purses” you find many figures clutching in images from around the world….

    Now, a lot of people look at that stuff together, and what do they say? “Oh, obviously: ALIENS!!!!”

    Me? I look at it and marvel at the continuity of human madness; I think it’s a lot more likely and plausible that our ancestors shared a lot of the same mental processes and dysfunctions we possess, and that those things tend to manifest in similar ways, to be interpreted however you like.

    Occam’s Razor would say “Man is nuts in consistent ways across the centuries” rather than “We’ve been visited by ALIENS!!!!”

    As well… Where the hell is the evidence? Shouldn’t there be something to see, something incontrovertible to find, that would show all these “Ancient Aliens” were here? How about now? Where is the wreckage, the physical signs left behind?

    I’m gonna remain a skeptic. I think it’s within the realm of possibility, but… I’ve seen little to no real proof. It’s like the situation with cryptids: I’ve heard stories about Sasquatch since I was a kid, but having spent a bunch of time wandering around their supposed stomping grounds, I’ve only seen some things that make me wonder. Nothing concrete, nothing certain… The other thing is I’ve also talked to some old-timers who claimed they used to go around with fake footprints, in order to prank their friends. I’ve seen the fake “bigfoot sandals”, and compared the carvings to the pictures that others have put up in books and websites, and there’s a hell of a lot of resemblance between them, right down to where the carving knife slipped.

    World’s a strange place, but a lot of the weirder things we’re supposed to accept are very hard to swallow without really convincing evidence that their adherents aren’t showing up with.

  • bobby b

    Fraser Orr: “So it is my opinion that it is unlikely that you can watch a lunar eclipse on any other planet in the whole galaxy.”

    Okay, help me out here, I’m baffled. If you can fiddle with the moon’s orbital plane, can’t you have a lunar eclipse with every lunar orbit so long as the planet playing the Earth’s part is sufficiently large? What am I missing? Did you mean a solar eclipse?

  • Kirk

    I think you’re going to have an eclipse no matter what the hell you’re doing in any system similar to the Earth-Moon example. It’s sort of physically impossible to not have one, if I understand the premise behind that statement, which struck me as being a little out of whack with my understanding of astronomy and orbital mechanics…

    Not sufficiently up on the issue to really comment, but I’m glad I’m not the only one going “WTF?”

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    What am I missing? Did you mean a solar eclipse?

    I did. So I am going to slink off in embarrassment now.

    FWIW, I just also put my foot in my mouth when a scoffed at someone who said “There are more hydrogens in a molecule of water than stars in the whole solar system.”

    It hasn’t been a good day with the whole “speaking” thing.

  • bobby b

    No slinking. The solar eclipse point was well worth it. We are all deeply improbable. And I don’t know why I fixated on that one small part of your comment. The mind wants what the mind wants, I guess. 😉

  • bobby b

    P.S.

    “There are more hydrogens in a molecule of water than stars in the whole solar system.”

    Great trick! Right up there with the old “what’s heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of rocks?”

  • Fraser Orr

    I’m going for a tortured relevant link here…. one thing that makes me remember this day above all else is not so much the alien thing but the fact that Trump’s prosecuting DA and prosecutor are involved in a DEEP scandal (pretty tortured, right?) Basically the DA gave the million dollar job to her married boyfriend, and then he took her on thousands of dollars of vacations.

    I’d love to hear any legal insight on this as to how serious it is for the two lovers (or alleged lovers) and what impact it will have on the Trump case. Apparently adultery is a crime in Georgia, so we are likely to see the DA taking the fifth, which is shocking. But the real question is — is it sufficient to get the charges dismissed with prejudice, or will it be reassigned? And to whom, if the county’s DA is in the soup. Is it sufficient for them both to get disbarred, or perhaps even criminally charged? Presumably either way it means a big fat delay.

    It think it is especially significant because this is the one case that a Republican president can’t fix for Trump should he or she be elected (being a state case.)

  • Kirk

    I don’t think any of the prosecutions of Trump get past the first appeal… There’s too much obvious meddling, and the legal theories are tortured, at best. Even the classified document “scandal” isn’t much, when you consider the normal standards applied to other presidential papers of other presidents. Friend of mine did a bunch of work in the Truman library referencing the Korean War. He found entire file cabinets full of classified stuff that had never been properly declassified for placement in Truman’s library, stuff he had to go back and get the Pentagon to document and declassify so he could use it in his work. Took years, and he didn’t get a bunch of it, because the stuff was still classified.

    This is all about this year’s election; if Trump gets convicted on any of it, it won’t last past appeal and the election.

    The thing to be concerned with, here, is the precedent established. The rule was, you left your predecessor the hell alone, and then politics didn’t become a zero-sum game like you have in so many despotic countries. They’re breaking that, so now there’s nothing to be lost by playing Emperor Augustus and destroying the power of the opposition. The Democrats are going to rue the day they did this, and I expect that we’re going to see some entirely unexpected political Black Swan event replace the arseholes currently running things. Or, it’s all going to crash and burn brightly in the night. Who the hell knows? All I can say for sure is that the fact that they’re breaking all these norms to go after Trump indicates that they’re scared spitless of something about him, and I don’t know what.

    None of this really makes the slightest amount of sense, from the standpoint of keeping things ticking over and remaining even slightly normal. Trump could have been easily co-opted and made a part of it all, but for some damn reason, they chose to try and destroy him… Which seems to be making him stronger by the day.

    I suspect it’s all going to end with something really spectacular, like an assassination or they’ll just grab him and imprison him for some new trumped-up charge. Which will then turn everything even nuttier than it is right now.

    Ya just wish for some normalcy, you know? The weird dial has been turned up past eleven for too many years, lately.

  • Beaneater

    Long-time lurker, infrequent poster here. This is a great community, and Fraser Orr is one of the people I really enjoy reading. However, I will quibble with two things in his first post on this thread:

    1. “I think life is probably pretty common in the universe. It seems to arise easily out of nature. Here on earth we seem to find it in even the most unlikely of spots.” This is a bit of a non sequitur, I think. The fact that life, having arisen (presumably?) once on Earth, fills it quite thoroughly doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with whether or not life arises easily out of nature. Life spreads pretty aggressively here, yes, but maybe it doesn’t arise easily.

    2. “…very simple forms of biological systems…” There is no such thing. Back in Darwin’s day, for instance, humans could have been forgiven for thinking that cells were pretty much blobs of goo with some vital impulse. Now we know that the simplest bacterium is absurdly, stupidly complex. The jump between non-life and life is immense and currently baffling. The best modern theories of abiogenesis are, shall we say, rich in speculation (though maybe there have been developments I don’t know about; it’s not my field).

    Personally, I will be surprised if we ever find so much as a bacterium(-equivalent) out there. But I’d be happy to be wrong.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Beaneater
    Fraser Orr is one of the people I really enjoy reading.

    I appreciate the feedback — it is nice to know you aren’t just yelling into the void.

    1. “I think life is probably pretty common in the universe. It seems to arise easily out of nature. Here on earth we seem to find it in even the most unlikely of spots.” This is a bit of a non sequitur,

    I think this is a fair point, and arguing when there is so little data can be a bit futile, but let me offer a different thing in support of what I am saying — based on my understanding of the history of the earth life arose on earth pretty much at the first moment it was possible for it to arise. Which would certainly be suggestive of the idea that it is a natural consequence of chemistry and the right conditions. (Of course “at the first moment” I am talking about geological time rather than human time.)

    2. “…very simple forms of biological systems…” There is no such thing.

    This also a fair point, but I was thinking more in relative terms. A bacterium is dramatically simpler than a little green man. I have heard a number of discussions of the idea of “life” prior to crucial macro molecules like RNA and the ribosome, but you kind of end in a philosophical discussion as to “what is life”, which is often futile. Perhaps if we could settle the question of whether viruses are alive we’d be in a better position to judge whether some bag of alien chemical reactions counted too.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    My brother is keen to point out that in a Universe as vast as our, then all the aliens on our tvs and movies must turn up somewhere. To which I reply so they are not likely to be in our neighbourhood! Then again, they do all seem to speak English, so maybe they are nearby, and listening…

  • Fraser Orr

    @Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray
    Then again, they do all seem to speak English, so maybe they are nearby, and listening…

    That’s not true, some of them speak Klingon. However, ALL of them seem to be sexually compatible with humans. Go figure.

  • Jim

    “All I can say for sure is that the fact that they’re breaking all these norms to go after Trump indicates that they’re scared spitless of something about him, and I don’t know what.”

    No, they aren’t scared, its not that rational, they are just entirely deranged. The Left have been infected with a mind virus, that has programmed them to be convinced that anyone who opposes them is utterly evil and must be prevented from gaining power. Trump is the apex of that opposition pyramid, and therefore all efforts are focussed on him. They couldn’t tell you in concrete terms of anything that he would do that would be so terrible, just that he is evil in and of himself and must be opposed on those terms alone.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Jim
    They couldn’t tell you in concrete terms of anything that he would do that would be so terrible, just that he is evil in and of himself and must be opposed on those terms alone.

    But a part of that is that Trump didn’t really do too much outside the normal overton window. He cut taxes a little, he did a good job on the border, he conducted the ISIS campaign largely in a NeoCon way, but with a level of competence you don’t normally associate with the NeoCons. But he was not really a radical reformer. He still borrowed massive amounts of money (after all, Trump is in real estate, so debt is a natural part of his thinking), he didn’t close down a single government department, and, supposedly he shut down a lot of regulations — but does anyone feel that after four years of Trump we are less burdened with regulations? I don’t.

    So the reality is he isn’t much of an actual threat to the establishment, in terms of their policies and actions, with one exception. He is uncouth. He is rude. He isn’t sophisticated. He says nasty things about the wrong people. He is déclassé, with BOTH the acute accents. He isn’t “one of them”. That is really their objection. Like some southern Georgia lilly white golf club having a flamboyant gay black guy in the club. He might be able to play golf, but everyone is uncomfortable when he is around, its embarrassing when he makes a scene, and my god he parks that big ugly pink Cadillac in the parking lot. What did they say about Obama? The first nice clean black guy. A nice trophy black guy they can have in the club who knew which knife and fork to use, and who didn’t do fart jokes with the ladies.

    What is the real objection to Trump (not just from the left, but from the whole establishment from McConnell to McDaniel, to Rice to Comey). It can be summarized in the phrase “How gauche.”

    Contrast that with Ramaswamy — another nice clean blackish guy who knows the rules about cutlery and fart jokes, but who is an ACTUAL threat to the massive state and their comfortable cronyism. Were he a bit more of a serious contender he would be the only person they wanted less than Trump.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>