Nightcap

  1. Exercising religion and taming faction Lael Weinberger, LARB
  2. Out of a silent planet Nick Nielsen, Grand Strategy Annex
  3. The broken promises of mid-century liberalism Kim Phillips-Fein, Nation
  4. Grand plans and failed forests Kelvin Mulungu, Africa is a Country

Wats On My Mind: I for one welcome our Venusian overlords

Reading the headlines, this was my thought process, almost exactly. Is xkcd evidence of alien mind probes? Also, “Venus?? I thought they said Venice!”

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/evidence_of_alien_life.png

Nightcap

  1. The separate worlds of Covid-19 Leah Windsor, Duck of Minerva
  2. Whose freedom? Anti-lockdown protests Dahlia Lithwick, Slate
  3. The glory—and risk—of cities Joel Kotkin, City Journal
  4. Still don’t believe in aliens? Robin Hanson, Overcoming Bias

Nightcap

  1. When do emergency measures turn into dangerous government overreach? Jonathan Wolff, Times Literary Supplement
  2. A philosophy of fear – and a society of scolds Daniel McCarthy, Modern Age
  3. The perils of lockdown living Sayed Kashua, New York Review of Books
  4. It’s time to take UFOs seriously Alexander Wendt (interview), Vox

First Contact, libertarianism, and astropolitics

Permit me to speculate.

Earth is currently composed of 193 or 195 states, depending on who you ask. There are several more states that have an ambiguous status within the world order. Of these states, dozens have bureaucracies dedicated to scientific research in outer space.

Now suppose there is life on a planet close to ours, say on Proxima centauri b, and suppose further that the life there harbors an intelligence that mirrors our own.

How many countries would be on Proxima centauri b? Given how difficult it has been here on Earth to establish global dominance, I have to assume that the same difficulties face other extraterrestrial life in nearby star systems. I assume this because if they haven’t been able to contact us, or are unable to contact us, they are likely on the same playing field as us when it comes to intelligence.

What if the United States or its much more libertarian successor, the Federation of Free States, allies with a country on Proxima centauri b, while China allies itself with another country on proxima centauri b and Russia allies itself with a third Centaurian country?

I think this would be the most realistic scenario for First Contact. If there are species out there with higher intelligence and better technology, I don’t think they would even bother with us or with the Centaurians, not even if they needed our help. Would we, as humans, ask for the help of baboons if we were stranded in the desert with a broken arm? Have we ever thought it necessary to eliminate another species simply because it existed or even because it might pose a future threat? I think those of us who can achieve the same type of reasoning based on the same limited cognitive ability of our brains will be brought together in our section of the Milky Way.

Basically, I think when First Contact happens, it will be the same ol’ geopolitics playing out, but instead of being geopolitics it will be astropolitics. All the more reason for libertarians to eschew unilateralism in favor of federation.

Cixin Lui’s trilogy has been on my mind, as has Neill Blomkamp’s short film Rakka.

Nightcap

  1. China’s race to find aliens first Ross Anderson, Atlantic
  2. What happens if China makes first contact? Abhijnan Rej, Diplomat
  3. Is coronavirus a preview of alien life reaching earth? Jeffrey Kluger, Time
  4. A beautiful photo essay of some old, abandoned airplanes Zero Anthropology

Nightcap

  1. Permutations on Ernst Bloch’s “S is not yet P” Nick Nielsen, Grand Strategy Annex
  2. “‘Emergencies’ have always been the pretext …” Peter Boettke, Coordination Problem
  3. The Villager And The F-18 Deep Prasad, Medium
  4. Neill Blomkamp’s experimental film studio is AWESOME Andrew Liptak, Verge

Nightcap

  1. Soviet science fiction magazines Winnie Lee, Atlas Obscura
  2. The truth about Area 51 Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics
  3. If aliens contact us, we won’t understand William Herkewitz, Astronomy
  4. Adapted aliens Robin Hanson, Cato Unbound

Nightcap

  1. On science fiction and cultural anthropology Matthew Wolf-Meyer, Fieldsites
  2. The case against galactic government Michelangelo Landgrave, NOL
  3. Planeterra Nullius (a very short story) William Lempert, Minds and Hearts
  4. The planets and you Caleb Scharf, Scientific American

Nightcap

  1. The empty seat on a crowded Japanese train Baye McNeil, Japan Times
  2. Interstellar conversations Caleb Scharf, Scientific American
  3. Donald Trump is a weak man in a strongman’s world Ross Douthat, New York Times
  4. The Poland model: left-wing economic policy and right-wing social policy Anna Sussman, the Atlantic

Nightcap

  1. Are libertarians being purged from the GOP? Scott Sumner, EconLog
  2. The Left still doesn’t understand Clarence Thomas Myron Magnet, City Journal
  3. How cult leaders brainwash their followers Alexandra Stein, Aeon
  4. Is dark matter hiding aliens? Caleb Scharf, Nautilus

Nightcap

  1. The Reciprocal Transit (aliens might be watching us) Caleb Scharf, Life, Unbounded
  2. No government, no problem Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg
  3. Syria and Arabia: The great divide Robert Carver, History Today
  4. The French Left catches up to our own Jacques Delacroix Andrew Hussey, New Statesman

Nightcap

  1. The Fermi Paradox Tim Urban, Wait But Why
  2. The aliens among us Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg
  3. Yes, ownership matters Chris Dillow, Stumbling & Mumbling
  4. America’s Messiah complex Colin Dickey, New Republic

RCH: “10 Worst Space Disasters in History”

My latest at RealClearHistory:

When I think about space disasters, I am reminded of the space battle between Earth and Trisolaris in Liu Cixin’s fantastic sci-fi novel. Stay with me here. Liu Cixin’s Dark Forest novel needs to be read. In the novel, humans make contact with a nearby alien civilization, who proceed to make plans to invade earth, wipe out its human population, and re-populate it with themselves. The first battle between Earth’s space forces and the would-be invaders ends badly for Earth, as thousands of space warships are destroyed in a matter minutes by a Trisolaran probe. The novel brings up an uncomfortable theory that humans have been all-too-willing to neglect: what if the universe is a hostile, deadly place instead of a curious one?

Please, read the rest.

Nightcap

  1. The extraterrestrial next door Adam Hadhazy, Space.com
  2. Reporting reports: colonial medical institutions Jonathan Saha, Colonizing Animals
  3. The best way to defeat totalitarianism? Treat it as a joke Anna Aslanyan, Spectator
  4. Bureaucrats in the Defense Department: An ethnography Jonathan Wong, War on the Rocks