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Since 1983, I have lived, worked and raised a family in a progressive, egalitarian, income-sharing intentional community (or commune) of 100 people in rural Virginia. AMA.

Hello Reddit!
My name is Keenan Dakota, I have lived at Twin Oaks, an income-sharing, intentional community in rural Virginia for 36 years, since 1983. I grew up in northern Virginia, my parents worked in government. I went to George Mason University where I studied business management. I joined Twin Oaks when I was 23 because I lost faith in the underpinnings of capitalism and looking for a better model. I have stayed because over time capitalism hasn't looked any better, and its a great place to raise children. While at Twin Oaks, I raised two boys to adulthood, constructed several buildings, managed the building maintenance program, have managed some of the business lines at different times.
Proof this is me. A younger photo of me at Twin Oaks. Here is a video interview of me about living at Twin Oaks. Photo of Twin Oaks members at the 50th anniversary.
Some things that make life here different from the mainstream:
More about Twin Oaks:
Twin Oaks is an intentional community in rural central Virginia, made up of around 90 adult members and 15 children. Since the community's beginning in 1967, our way of life has reflected our values of cooperation, sharing, nonviolence, equality, and ecology.
We do not have a group religion; our beliefs are diverse. We do not have a central leader; we govern ourselves by a form of democracy with responsibility shared among various managers, planners, and committees. We are self-supporting economically, and partly self-sufficient. We are income-sharing. Each member works 42 hours a week in the community's business and domestic areas. Each member receives housing, food, healthcare, and personal spending money from the community.
We have open-slots and are accepting applications for new members. All prospective new members must participate in a three-week visitor program. Applicants to join must leave for 30 days after their visit while the community decides on their application.
We offer a $5 tour on Saturdays of the property, starting in March. More info here.
Ask me anything!
TL;DR: Opted out of the rat-race and retired at 23 to live in the woods with a bunch of hippies.
EDIT: Thanks for all the questions! If you want some photos of the farm, you can check out our instagram.
EDIT2: I'm answering new, original questions again today. Sort by new and scroll through the trolls to see more of my responses.
EDIT3: We DO have food with onion & garlic! At meals, there is the regular food, PLUS alternative options for vegan/vegetarian/no gluten/no onions & garlic.
EDIT4: Some of you have been asking if we are a cult. No, we are not. We don't have a central leader or common religion. Here are characteristics of cults, FYI.
Edit: Yikes! Did I mention that I am 60? Reddit is not my native land. I don't understand the hostile, angry and seemingly deliberately obtuse comments on here. And Soooo many people!
Anyway, to the angry crowd: Twin Oaks poses no threat to anyone, we are 100 people out of a country of 330 million? Twin Oaks reached its current maximum population about 25 years ago, so not growing fast, or at all. Members come and go from Twin Oaks. There are, my guess is, 800 ex-members of Twin Oaks, so we aren't holding on to everyone who joins—certainly, no one is held against their will.
Twin Oaks is in rural Virginia, but we really aren't insular, isolated, gated or scared of the mainstream culture. We have scheduled tours of the whole property. Local government officials, like building inspectors, come to Twin Oaks with some frequency. People at Twin Oaks like to travel and manage to do so. I personally, know lots of people in the area, I am also a runner, so I leave the property probably every day. There are lots of news stories about Twin Oaks over the years. If you are worried about Twin Oaks, maybe you could go read what the mainstream (and alternative) media have to say.
Except about equality Twin Oaks is not particularly dogmatic about anything. (I know some people at Twin Oaks will disagree with that statement.) Twin Oaks isn't really hypocritical about Capitalism, Socialism, or Communism, we just don't identify those concepts as something that we are trying to do. Twin Oaks is not trying to DO Communism, we are trying to live a good life with equally empowered citizens—which has led us to try to maintain economic parity among members. Communists also do that. In making decisions in the community I don't remember anyone trying to support or oppose an idea due to excess or insufficient Communism, Socialism, or Capitalism. In most practical senses those words aren't useful and don't mean anything. So, no need to hammer Twin Oaks for being insufficiently pure, or hypocritical.
Twin Oaks is very similar to the Kibbutz in Israel. If anyone has concerns or questions about what would happen if places like Twin Oaks suddenly became much larger and more common, read about the history of the Kibbutz, which may have grown to possibly 1% of the population at their largest? There was and is no fight with Capitalism from the kibbutz—or with the State. My point is—not a threat.
To the other people who think that the ideas of Twin Oaks are interesting, I want you to know it is possible to live at Twin Oaks (or places like Twin Oaks) and happily live ones entire life. There is no central, critical failing that makes the idea not work. And plenty of upside. But do lots of research first. Twin Oaks maintains a massive web site. (Anyway, it takes a long time to read.)
But what I would like to see is more people starting more egalitarian, income-sharing communities. I think that there is a need for a community that is designed and built by families, and who also share income, and provide mutual support with labor and money. If you love this concept, maybe consider gathering together other people and starting your own.
Ideologically speaking:
-Ecology: the best response to ecological problems is for humans to use fewer resources. The easiest way to use fewer resources is to share resources. Living communally vastly cuts down on resource use without reducing quality of life.
-Equality: ideologically speaking, most people accept the idea that all humans have equal rights, but most social structures operate in ways that are fundamentally unequal. If we truly believe in equality then we ought to be willing to put our bodies where our ideology is. In a truly equal world, the issues of sexism and racism and all other forms of discrimination would, essentially, not exist.
-Democracy: Twin Oaks uses all manner of decision-making models and tools to try to include everyone and to keep people equally empowered. There is no useful word for this. We do use a majority vote sometimes, as a fallback. But sometimes we use consensus. We sometimes use sociocracy (dynamic governance). The word "Isocracy" (decision-making among equals), would be useful to describe Twin Oaks' decision-making model, but Lev in Australia has written an incomprehensible "definition" on Wikipedia, that he keeps changing back when someone corrects it.
-Happiness: The overarching goal of all ideologies is to make people happy, right? I mean, isn't it? Capitalism is based upon the belief that motivation is crucial to human aspiration and success (and therefore more happiness). Under Capitalism, equality is a detriment because it hinders motivation (less fear of failure, or striving for success). Twin Oaks believes that humans are happier when they are equal, and equally empowered. So the place to start up the ladder of happiness is to first make everyone equal. Well, Twin Oaks is mainly still working on that first step.
EDIT5: Some have asked about videos - here are links to documentaries about Twin Oaks by BBC, VICE and RT.
submitted by keenan_twinoaks to IAmA [link] [comments]

Superposition: Transcript of Audio Essay Episode 35

Hi. It's Eric with some thoughts for this week's audio essay on the topic of superposition. Now, to those of you in the know, superposition is an odd word, in that it is the scientific concept we reach for when trying to describe the paradox of Schrodinger's cat and the theory and philosophy of quantum measurement. We don't yet know how to say that the cat is both dead and alive at the same time rigorously, so we fudge whatever is going on with this unfortunate feline and say that the cat and the quantum system on which its life depends are a mixture of two distinct states, that are somehow commingled in a way that has defied a satisfying explanation for about a century. Now, I'm usually loath to appeal to such quantum concepts in everyday life, as there is a veritable industry of people making bad quantum analogies. For example, whenever you have a non-quantum system that is altered by its observation, that really has nothing to do with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Jane Goodall's chimpanzees are almost certainly altered in their behavior due to her presence. But there is likely no competent quantum theorist who would analogize chimps to electrons, and Goodall to our mission observable, executing a quantum observation. Heisenberg adds nothing other than physics-envy to the discussion of an entirely classical situation such as this.
However, I have changed my mind in the case of superposition, as I would now like to explain. To begin with, superposition isn't a quantum phenomenon. For example, imagine that you'd come from Europe to Australia, and that you had both euros and Swiss francs in your pockets. You might then be said to be in a superposition, because you have pocket change in both euros and francs rather than a pure state of only one currency or the other. The analog of the physical observable in this situation would be something like a multiple-choice question found on a landing card about the contents of your pockets. Here, it is easy to see the danger of this set up. Assuming you have three times as much value in euros as you do in francs, what happens when you get a question that doesn't include your situation as an answer? What if the landing card asked, is all of your change in A) euros or B) Swiss francs, with no other options available? Well, this as stated, is a completely classical superposition problem, having nothing to do with quantum theory. Were you to have such a classical question asked of you like this, there would have been no way for you to answer. However, if the answer were on the multiple-choice menu, there would be no problem at all, and you would give a clear answer determined by the state of your pockets. So, if the state in question isn't on the multiple-choice menu, the classical world is forced to go mute, as there is no answer determined by the system; whereas if it is found on the list of allowable choices, the answer is then completely determined by the system’s state at the time that the question was asked.
Oddly, the quantum world is, in a way, exactly as deterministic as the classical one just described, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. In order to understand this, we’ll have to introduce a bit of jargon. So long as the system (now called the Hilbert space state) is on the list of answers (technically called the system of Eigenvectors) corresponding to the question (now called a quantum observable) the question will return a completely deterministic answer (technically called the Eigenvalue corresponding to the state Eigenvector.) These are, in a sense, good questions in quantum theory, because the answer corresponding to the state of the system actually appears as one of the multiple-choice options.
So, if that is completely deterministic, well then what happened to the famous quantum probability theory and the indeterminacy that we hear so much about? What if I told you that it were 100% confined to the situation which classical theory couldn't handle either? That is, quantum probability theory only becomes relevant when you ask bad quantum questions, where the state of the system isn't on the list of multiple-choice answers. When the landing card asked if all your change were completely in euros or only in francs, the classical system couldn't answer because three times the value of your Swiss francs were held in euros, so no answer could be determined. But if your pocket change were somehow quantum, well then you might find that 75% of the time your pocket coins would bizarrely turn into pure euros, and would bewilderingly turn into pure francs 25% of the time just by virtue of your being asked for a measurement by the landing card. In the quantum theory, this is due to the multiple-choice answers of the so-called observable, represented by the landing card question, not being well-suited to the mixed state of your pockets in a superposition between euros and francs. In other words, quantum theory gets probabilistic only where classical theory went mute. All of the indeterminacy appears to come from asking bad multiple-choice questions in both the classical and quantum regimes, in which the state of the system doesn't fit any given answer.
Quite honestly, I've never heard a physicist rework the issue of quantum probabilities in just this way, so as to highlight that the probabilistic weirdness comes only from the quantum being overly solicitous, and accommodating really bad questions. For some reason, they don't like the idea of calling an observable that doesn't have the state of the system as an allowable answer, a bad question. But that is precisely why I do like it. It points out that the quantum is deterministic where the classical theory is deterministic, and only probabilistic where the classical theory is mute. And this is because it is weirdly willing to answer questions that are, in a sense that can be made precise, bad questions to begin with. That doesn't get rid of the mystery, but it recasts it so it doesn't sound quite so weird. The new question is, why would a quantum system overcompensate for the lousy questions being posed, when the classical system seems to know not to answer?
So why bring any of this up? Well, the first reason is that I couldn't resist sneaking in a personal reformulation of the quantum measurement problem that most people will have never considered. But the second reason is that I have come to believe that we are wasting our political lives on just such superposition questions.
For example, let's see if we can solve the abortion debate problem right now on this podcast using superposition; as it is much easier than the abortion problem itself. The abortion debate problem is that everyone agrees that before fertilization there is no human life to worry about. And that after a baby is born, there is no question that it has a right to live. Yet, pro-choice and pro-life activists insist on telling us that the developing embryo is either a mere bundle of cells suddenly becoming a life only when born, or a full-fledged baby the moment the sperm enters the egg. You can guess my answer here. The question of, is it a baby's life or a woman's choice, is agreed-upon by everyone before fertilization or following birth because the observable in question has the system as one of the two multiple-choice answers in those two cases. However, during the process of embryonic development, something miraculous is taking place that we simply don't understand scientifically. Somehow, a non-sentient blastula becomes a baby by a process utterly opaque to science, which as yet has no mature theory of consciousness. The system in utero is in a changing and progressing superposition tilted heavily towards not being a baby at the beginning, and tilted heavily towards being one at the end of the pregnancy. But the problem here is that we have allowed the activists, rather than the embryologists and developmental biologists, to hand us the life versus choice observable, with its two terrible multiple-choice options. If we had let the embryologist set the multiple-choice question, there would be at least 23 Carnegie stages for the embryo, before you even get to fetal development. But instead of going forward from what we both know and don't know with high confidence about the system, we are instead permanently deranged by being stuck with Schrodinger's embryo by the activists who insist on working backwards from their political objectives.
So, does this somehow solve the abortion issue? Of course not. All it does, is get us to see how ridiculously transparent we are in our politics, that we would allow our society to be led by those activists who would shoehorn the central scientific miracle of human development into a nutty political binary of convenience. We don't even think to ask, who are these people who have left us at each other's throats, debating an inappropriate multiple-choice question that can never be answered? Well, in the spirit of The Portal, we are always looking for a way out of our perennial problems to try to find an exit. And I think that the technique here of teaching oneself to spot superposition problems in stalemated political systems, brings a great deal of relief to those of us who find the perspective of naïve activism a fairly impoverished worldview. The activist mindset is always trying to remove nuanced selections that might better match our world’s needs from among the multiple-choice answers, until it finds a comical binary. Do you support the war on drugs, yes or no? Are you for or against immigration? Should men and women be treated equally? Should we embrace capitalism, or choose socialism? Racism: systemic problem or convenient excuse? Is China a trading partner or a strategic rival? Has technology stagnated, or is it in fact racing ahead at breakneck speed? Has feminism gone too far, or not far enough? In all of these cases, there is an entire industry built around writing articles that involve replacing conversations that might progress towards answers and agreement, with simple multiple-choice political options that foreclose all hope. And in general, we can surmise when this has occurred because activism generally leaves a distinct signature, where the true state of a system is best represented as a superposition of the last two remaining choices that bitterly divide us, handed us by activists.
So, I will leave you with the following thought. The principle of superposition is not limited to quantum weirdness, and it may be governing your life at a level that you never considered. Think about where you are most divided from your loved ones politically. Then ask yourself, when I listen to the debates at my dinner table, am I hearing a set of multiple-choice answers that sound like they were developed by scholars interested in understanding, or by activists who are pushing for an outcome? If the latter, think about whether you couldn't make more progress with those you love by recognizing that the truth is usually in some kind of a superposition of the last remaining answers pushed by the activists. But you don't have to accept these middlebrow binaries, dilemmas and trilemmas. Instead, try asking a new question. If my loved ones and I trashed the terms of debate foisted upon us by strangers, activists and the news media, could we together fashion a list of multiple choice answers that we might agree contain an answer we all could live with, and that better describes the true state of the system? I mean, do you really want open or closed borders? Do you really want to talk about psilocybin and heroin in the same breath? Do you really want to claim that there is no systemic oppression, or that it governs every aspect of our lives? Before long, it is my hope that you will develop an intuition that many long-running stalemated discussions are really about having our lives shoehorned by others into inappropriate binaries that can only represent the state of our world as a superposition of inappropriate and simplistic answers that you never would have chosen for yourself.
submitted by Reverendpjustice to ThePortal [link] [comments]

Superposition: Transcript of audio essay intro to The Portal Episode 35

Hi. It's Eric with some thoughts for this week's audio essay on the topic of superposition. Now, to those of you in the know, superposition is an odd word, in that it is the scientific concept we reach for when trying to describe the paradox of Schrodinger's cat and the theory and philosophy of quantum measurement. We don't yet know how to say that the cat is both dead and alive at the same time rigorously, so we fudge whatever is going on with this unfortunate feline and say that the cat and the quantum system on which its life depends are a mixture of two distinct states, that are somehow commingled in a way that has defied a satisfying explanation for about a century. Now, I'm usually loath to appeal to such quantum concepts in everyday life, as there is a veritable industry of people making bad quantum analogies. For example, whenever you have a non-quantum system that is altered by its observation, that really has nothing to do with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Jane Goodall's chimpanzees are almost certainly altered in their behavior due to her presence. But there is likely no competent quantum theorist who would analogize chimps to electrons, and Goodall to our mission observable, executing a quantum observation. Heisenberg adds nothing other than physics-envy to the discussion of an entirely classical situation such as this.
However, I have changed my mind in the case of superposition, as I would now like to explain. To begin with, superposition isn't a quantum phenomenon. For example, imagine that you'd come from Europe to Australia, and that you had both euros and Swiss francs in your pockets. You might then be said to be in a superposition, because you have pocket change in both euros and francs rather than a pure state of only one currency or the other. The analog of the physical observable in this situation would be something like a multiple-choice question found on a landing card about the contents of your pockets. Here, it is easy to see the danger of this set up. Assuming you have three times as much value in euros as you do in francs, what happens when you get a question that doesn't include your situation as an answer? What if the landing card asked, is all of your change in A) euros or B) Swiss francs, with no other options available? Well, this as stated, is a completely classical superposition problem, having nothing to do with quantum theory. Were you to have such a classical question asked of you like this, there would have been no way for you to answer. However, if the answer were on the multiple-choice menu, there would be no problem at all, and you would give a clear answer determined by the state of your pockets. So, if the state in question isn't on the multiple-choice menu, the classical world is forced to go mute, as there is no answer determined by the system; whereas if it is found on the list of allowable choices, the answer is then completely determined by the system’s state at the time that the question was asked.
Oddly, the quantum world is, in a way, exactly as deterministic as the classical one just described, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. In order to understand this, we’ll have to introduce a bit of jargon. So long as the system (now called the Hilbert space state) is on the list of answers (technically called the system of Eigenvectors) corresponding to the question (now called a quantum observable) the question will return a completely deterministic answer (technically called the Eigenvalue corresponding to the state Eigenvector.) These are, in a sense, good questions in quantum theory, because the answer corresponding to the state of the system actually appears as one of the multiple-choice options.
So, if that is completely deterministic, well then what happened to the famous quantum probability theory and the indeterminacy that we hear so much about? What if I told you that it were 100% confined to the situation which classical theory couldn't handle either? That is, quantum probability theory only becomes relevant when you ask bad quantum questions, where the state of the system isn't on the list of multiple-choice answers. When the landing card asked if all your change were completely in euros or only in francs, the classical system couldn't answer because three times the value of your Swiss francs were held in euros, so no answer could be determined. But if your pocket change were somehow quantum, well then you might find that 75% of the time your pocket coins would bizarrely turn into pure euros, and would bewilderingly turn into pure francs 25% of the time just by virtue of your being asked for a measurement by the landing card. In the quantum theory, this is due to the multiple-choice answers of the so-called observable, represented by the landing card question, not being well-suited to the mixed state of your pockets in a superposition between euros and francs. In other words, quantum theory gets probabilistic only where classical theory went mute. All of the indeterminacy appears to come from asking bad multiple-choice questions in both the classical and quantum regimes, in which the state of the system doesn't fit any given answer.
Quite honestly, I've never heard a physicist rework the issue of quantum probabilities in just this way, so as to highlight that the probabilistic weirdness comes only from the quantum being overly solicitous, and accommodating really bad questions. For some reason, they don't like the idea of calling an observable that doesn't have the state of the system as an allowable answer, a bad question. But that is precisely why I do like it. It points out that the quantum is deterministic where the classical theory is deterministic, and only probabilistic where the classical theory is mute. And this is because it is weirdly willing to answer questions that are, in a sense that can be made precise, bad questions to begin with. That doesn't get rid of the mystery, but it recasts it so it doesn't sound quite so weird. The new question is, why would a quantum system overcompensate for the lousy questions being posed, when the classical system seems to know not to answer?
So why bring any of this up? Well, the first reason is that I couldn't resist sneaking in a personal reformulation of the quantum measurement problem that most people will have never considered. But the second reason is that I have come to believe that we are wasting our political lives on just such superposition questions.
For example, let's see if we can solve the abortion debate problem right now on this podcast using superposition; as it is much easier than the abortion problem itself. The abortion debate problem is that everyone agrees that before fertilization there is no human life to worry about. And that after a baby is born, there is no question that it has a right to live. Yet, pro-choice and pro-life activists insist on telling us that the developing embryo is either a mere bundle of cells suddenly becoming a life only when born, or a full-fledged baby the moment the sperm enters the egg. You can guess my answer here. The question of, is it a baby's life or a woman's choice, is agreed-upon by everyone before fertilization or following birth because the observable in question has the system as one of the two multiple-choice answers in those two cases. However, during the process of embryonic development, something miraculous is taking place that we simply don't understand scientifically. Somehow, a non-sentient blastula becomes a baby by a process utterly opaque to science, which as yet has no mature theory of consciousness. The system in utero is in a changing and progressing superposition tilted heavily towards not being a baby at the beginning, and tilted heavily towards being one at the end of the pregnancy. But the problem here is that we have allowed the activists, rather than the embryologists and developmental biologists, to hand us the life versus choice observable, with its two terrible multiple-choice options. If we had let the embryologist set the multiple-choice question, there would be at least 23 Carnegie stages for the embryo, before you even get to fetal development. But instead of going forward from what we both know and don't know with high confidence about the system, we are instead permanently deranged by being stuck with Schrodinger's embryo by the activists who insist on working backwards from their political objectives.
So, does this somehow solve the abortion issue? Of course not. All it does, is get us to see how ridiculously transparent we are in our politics, that we would allow our society to be led by those activists who would shoehorn the central scientific miracle of human development into a nutty political binary of convenience. We don't even think to ask, who are these people who have left us at each other's throats, debating an inappropriate multiple-choice question that can never be answered? Well, in the spirit of The Portal, we are always looking for a way out of our perennial problems to try to find an exit. And I think that the technique here of teaching oneself to spot superposition problems in stalemated political systems, brings a great deal of relief to those of us who find the perspective of naïve activism a fairly impoverished worldview. The activist mindset is always trying to remove nuanced selections that might better match our world’s needs from among the multiple-choice answers, until it finds a comical binary. Do you support the war on drugs, yes or no? Are you for or against immigration? Should men and women be treated equally? Should we embrace capitalism, or choose socialism? Racism: systemic problem or convenient excuse? Is China a trading partner or a strategic rival? Has technology stagnated, or is it in fact racing ahead at breakneck speed? Has feminism gone too far, or not far enough? In all of these cases, there is an entire industry built around writing articles that involve replacing conversations that might progress towards answers and agreement, with simple multiple-choice political options that foreclose all hope. And in general, we can surmise when this has occurred because activism generally leaves a distinct signature, where the true state of a system is best represented as a superposition of the last two remaining choices that bitterly divide us, handed us by activists.
So, I will leave you with the following thought. The principle of superposition is not limited to quantum weirdness, and it may be governing your life at a level that you never considered. Think about where you are most divided from your loved ones politically. Then ask yourself, when I listen to the debates at my dinner table, am I hearing a set of multiple-choice answers that sound like they were developed by scholars interested in understanding, or by activists who are pushing for an outcome? If the latter, think about whether you couldn't make more progress with those you love by recognizing that the truth is usually in some kind of a superposition of the last remaining answers pushed by the activists. But you don't have to accept these middlebrow binaries, dilemmas and trilemmas. Instead, try asking a new question. If my loved ones and I trashed the terms of debate foisted upon us by strangers, activists and the news media, could we together fashion a list of multiple choice answers that we might agree contain an answer we all could live with, and that better describes the true state of the system? I mean, do you really want open or closed borders? Do you really want to talk about psilocybin and heroin in the same breath? Do you really want to claim that there is no systemic oppression, or that it governs every aspect of our lives? Before long, it is my hope that you will develop an intuition that many long-running stalemated discussions are really about having our lives shoehorned by others into inappropriate binaries that can only represent the state of our world as a superposition of inappropriate and simplistic answers that you never would have chosen for yourself.
submitted by Reverendpjustice to EricWeinstein [link] [comments]

[Table] Asteroid Day AMA – We’re engineers and scientists working on a mission that could, one day, help save humankind from asteroid extinction. Ask us anything!

Source
There are several people answering: Paolo Martino is PM, Marco Micheli is MM, Heli Greus is HG, Detlef Koschny is DVK, and Aidan Cowley is AC.
Questions Answers
Can we really detect any asteroids in space with accuracy and do we have any real means of destroying it? Yes, we can detect new asteroids when they are still in space. Every night dozens of new asteroids are found, including a few that can come close to the Earth.
Regarding the second part of the question, the goal would be to deflect them more than destroy them, and it is technologically possible. The Hera/DART mission currently being developed by ESA and NASA will demonstrate exactly this capability.
MM
I always wanted to ask: what is worse for life on Earth - to be hit by a single coalesced asteroid chunk, or to be hit by a multiple smaller pieces of exploded asteroid, aka disrupted rubble pile scenario? DVK: This is difficult to answer. If the rubble is small (centimetres to meters) it is better to have lots of small ones – they’d create nice bright meteors. If the rubble pieces are tens of meters it doesn’t help.
Let’s say that hypothetically, an asteroid the size of Rhode Island is coming at us, it will be a direct hit - you’ve had the resources and funding you need, your plan is fully in place, everything you’ve wanted you got. The asteroid will hit in 10 years, what do you do? DVK: I had to look up how big Rhode Island is – a bit larger than the German Bundesland ‘Saarland’. Ok – this would correspond to an object about 60 km in diameter, right? That’s quite big – we would need a lot of rocket launches, this would be extremely difficult. I would pray. The good news is that we are quite convinced that we know all objects larger than just a few kilometers which come close to our planet. None of them is on a collision course, so we are safe.
the below is a reply to the above
Why are you quite convinced that you know all object of that size? And what is your approach in finding new celestial bodies? DVK: There was a scientific study done over a few years (published in Icarus 2018, search for Granvik) where they modelled how many objects there are out there. They compared this to the observations we have with the telescopic surveys. This gives us the expected numbers shown here on our infographic: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
There are additional studies to estimate the ‘completeness’ – and we think that we know everything above roughly a few km in size.
To find new objects, we use survey telescopes that scan the night sky every night. The two major ones are Catalina and Pan-STARRS, funded by NASA. ESA is developing the so-called Flyeye telescope to add to this effort https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2017/02/Flyeye_telescope.
the below is a reply to the above
Thanks for the answer, that's really interesting! It's also funny that the fist Flyeye deployed is in Sicily, at less than 100km from me, I really had no idea DVK: Indeed, that's cool. Maybe you can go and visit it one day.
the below is a reply to the original answer
What about Interstellar objects however, like Oumuamua? DVK: The two that we have seen - 'Oumuamua and comet Borisov - were much smaller than the Saarland (or Rhode Island ;-) - not sure about Borisov, but 'Oumuamua was a few hundred meters in size. So while they could indeed come as a complete surprise, they are so rare that I wouldn't worry.
Would the public be informed if an impending asteroid event were to happen? And, how would the extinction play out? Bunch of people crushed to death, knocked off our orbit, dust clouds forever? DVK: We do not keep things secret – all our info is at the web page http://neo.ssa.esa.int. The ‘risky’ objects are in the ‘risk page’. We also put info on really close approaches there. It would also be very difficult to keep things ‘under cover’ – there are many high-quality amateur astronomers out there that would notice.
In 2029 asteroid Apophis will fly really close to Earth, even closer than geostationary satellites. Can we use some of those satellites to observe the asteroid? Is it possible to launch very cheap cube sats to flyby Apophis in 2029? DVK: Yes an Apophis mission during the flyby in 2029 would be really nice. We even had a special session on that topic at the last Planetary Defense Conference in 2019, and indeed CubeSats were mentioned. This would be a nice university project – get me a close-up of the asteroid with the Earth in the background!
the below is a reply to the above
So you’re saying it was discussed and shelved? In the conference we just presented ideas. To make them happen needs funding - in the case of ESA the support of our member countries. But having something presented at a conference is the first step. One of the results of the conference was a statement to space agencies to consider embarking on such a mission. See here: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/documents/336356/336472/PDC_2019_Summary_Report_FINAL_FINAL.pdf/341b9451-0ce8-f338-5d68-714a0aada29b?t=1569333739470
Go to the section 'resolutions'. This is now a statement that scientists can use to present to their funding agencies, demonstrating that it's not just their own idea.
Thanks for doing this AMA! Did we know the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 (the one which had some great videos on social media) was coming? Ig not, how comes? Also, as a little side one, have there been any fatalities from impact events in the past 20 years? Unfortunately, the Chelyabinsk object was not seen in advance, because it came from the direction of the Sun where ground-based telescopes cannot look.
No known fatalities from impacts have happened in the past 20 years, although the Chelyabinsk event did cause many injuries, fortunately mostly minor.
MM
the below is a reply to the above
How often do impacts from that direction happen, compared to impacts from visible trajectories? In terms of fraction of the sky, the area that cannot be easily scanned from the ground is roughly a circle with a radius of 40°-50° around the current position of the Sun, corresponding to ~15% of the total sky. However, there is a slight enhancement of objects coming from that direction, therefore the fraction of objects that may be missed when heading towards us is a bit higher.
However, this applies only when detecting an asteroid in its "final plunge" towards the Earth. Larger asteroids can be spotted many orbits earlier, when they are farther away and visible in the night side of the sky. Their orbits can then be determined and their possible impacts predicted even years or decades in advance.
MM
There must be a trade-off when targeting asteroids as they get closer to Earth, is there a rule of thumb at what the best time is to reach them, in terms of launch time versus time to reach the asteroid and then distance from Earth? DVK: Take e.g. a ‘kinetic impactor’ mission, like what DART and Hera are testing. Since we only change the velocity of the asteroid slightly, we need to hit the object early enough so that the object has time to move away from it’s collision course. Finding out when it is possible to launch requires simulations done by our mission analysis team. They take the strength of the launcher into account, also the available fuel for course corrections, and other things. Normally each asteroid has its own best scenario.
Do you also look at protecting the moon from asteroids? Would an impact of a large enough scale potentially have major impacts on the earth? DVK: There are programmes that monitor the Moon and look for flashes from impacting small asteroids (or meteoroids) - https://neliota.astro.noa.g or the Spanish MIDAS project. We use the data to improve our knowledge about these objects. These programmes just look at what is happening now.
For now we would not do anything if we predicted a lunar impact. I guess this will change once we have a lunar base in place.
Why aren't there an international organisation comprised of countries focused on the asteroid defence? Imagine like the organisation with multi-billion $ budget and program of action on funding new telescopes, asteroid exploration mission, plans for detection of potentially dangerous NEA, protocols on action after the detection - all international, with heads of states discussing these problems? DVK: There are international entities in place, mandated by the UN: The International Asteroid Warning Network (http://www.iawn.net) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (http://www.smpag.net). These groups advise the United Nations. That is exactly where we come up with plans and protocols on action. But: They don’t have budget – that needs to come from elsewhere. I am expecting that if we have a real threat, we would get the budget. Right now, we don’t have a multi-billion budget.
the below is a reply to someone else's answer
There is no actual risk of any sizable asteroids hitting earth in the foreseeable future. Any preparation for it would just be a waste of money. DVK: Indeed, as mentioned earlier, we do not expect a large object to hit is in the near future. We are mainly worried about those in the size range of 20 m to 40 m, which happen on average every few tens of years to hundreds of years. And where we only know a percent of them or even less.
President Obama wanted to send a crewed spacecraft to an asteroid - in your opinion is this something that should still be done in the future, would there be any usefulness in having a human being walk/float on an asteroid's surface? DVK: It would definitely be cool. I would maybe even volunteer to go. Our current missions to asteroids are all robotic, the main reason is that it is much cheaper (but still expensive) to get the same science. But humans will expand further into space, I am sure. If we want to test human exploration activities, doing this at an asteroid would be easier than landing on a planet.
this is another reply Yes, but I am slightly biased by the fact that I work at the European astronaut centre ;) There exist many similarities to what we currently do for EVA (extra vehicular activities) operations on the International Space Station versus how we would 'float' around an asteroid. Slightly biased again, but using such a mission to test exploration technologies would definitely still have value. Thanks Obama! - AC
I've heard that some asteroids contains large amounts of iron. Is there a possibility that we might have "space mines" in the far away future, if our own supply if iron runs out? Yes, this is a topic in the field known as space mining, part of what we call Space Resources. In fact, learning how we can process material we might find on asteroids or other planetary bodies is increasingly important, as it opens up the opportunities for sustainable exploration and commercialization. Its a technology we need to master, and asteroids can be a great target for testing how we can create space mines :) - AC
By how much is DART expected to deflect Didymos? Do we have any indication of the largest size of an asteroid we could potentially deflect? PM: Didymos is a binary asteroid, consisting of a main asteroid Didymos A (~700m) and a smaller asteroid Didymos B (~150m) orbiting around A with a ~12 hours period. DART is expected to impact Didymos B and change its orbital period w.r.t. Didymos A of ~1%. (8 mins)
The size of Didymos B is the most representative of a potential threat to Earth (the highest combination of probability and consequence of impacts), meaning smaller asteroids hit the Earth more often but have less severe consequences, larger asteroids can have catastrophic consequences but their probability of hitting the earth is very very low.
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Why is there less probability of larger asteroids hitting earth? DVK: There are less large objects out there. The smaller they are, the more there are.
the below is a reply to the original answer
Is there any chance that your experiment will backfire and send the asteroid towards earth? PM: Not at all, or we would not do that :) Actually Dimorphos (the Didymos "moon") will not even leave its orbit around Didymos. It will just slightly change its speed.
I'm sure you've been asked this many times but how realistic is the plot of Armageddon? How likely is it that our fate as a species will rely on (either) Bruce Willis / deep sea oil drillers? Taking into consideration that Bruce Willis is now 65 and by the time HERA is launched he will be 69, I do not think that we can rely on him this time (although I liked the movie).
HERA will investigate what method we could use to deflect asteroid and maybe the results will show that we indeed need to call the deep sea oil drillers.
HG
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So then would it be easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts, or to train astronauts to be oil drillers? I do not know which one would be easier since I have no training/experience of deep see oil drilling nor becoming an astronaut, but as long as the ones that would go to asteroid have the sufficient skills and training (even Bruce Willis), I would be happy.
HG
If budget was no object, which asteroid would you most like to send a mission to? Nice question! For me, I'd be looking at an asteroid we know something about, since I would be interested in using it for testing how we could extract resources from it. So for me, I would choose Itokawa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25143_Itokawa), which was visited by Hayabusa spacecraft. So we already have some solid prospecting carried out for this 'roid! - AC
this is another reply Not sure if it counts as an asteroid, but Detlef and myself would probably choose ʻOumuamua, the first discovered interstellar object.
MM
the below is a reply to the above
Do we even have the capability to catch up to something like that screaming through our solar system? That thing has to have a heck of a velocity to just barrel almost straight through like that. DVK: Correct, that would be a real challenge. We are preparing for a mission called 'Comet Interceptor' that is meant to fly to an interstellar object or at least a fresh comet - but it will not catch up with it, it will only perform a short flyby.
https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/ESA_s_new_mission_to_intercept_a_comet
After proving to be able to land on one, could an asteroid serve as a viable means to transport goods and or humans throughout the solar system when the orbit of said asteroid proves beneficial. While it is probably quite problematic to land the payload, it could save fuel or am I mistaken? Neat idea! Wonder if anyone has done the maths on the amount of fuel you would need/save vs certain targets. - AC
PM: To further complement, the saving is quite marginal indeed because in order to land (softly) on the asteroid you actually need to get into the very same orbit of that asteroid . At that point your orbit remains the same whether you are on the asteroid or not..
can the current anti-ballistic missiles systems intercept a terminal phase earth strike asteroid? or it is better to know beforehand and launch an impacting vehicle into space? DVK: While I do see presentations on nuclear explosions to deflect asteroids at our professional meetings, I have not seen anybody yet studying how we could use existing missile systems. So it's hard to judge whether existing missiles would do the job. But in general, it is better to know as early as possible about a possible impact and deflect it as early as possible. This will minimize the needed effort.
How much are we prepared against asteroid impacts at this moment? DVK: 42… :-) Seriously – I am not sure how to quantify ‘preparedness’. We have international working groups in place, mentioned earlier (search for IAWN, SMPAG). We have a Planetary Defence Office at ESA, a Planetary Defense Office at NASA (who spots the difference?), search the sky for asteroids, build space missions… Still we could be doing more. More telescopes to find the object, a space-based telescope to discover those that come from the direction of the Sun. Different test missions would be useful, … So there is always more we could do.
Have you got any data on the NEO coverage? Is there estimations on the percentage of NEOs we have detected and are tracking? How can we improve the coverage? How many times have asteroids been able to enter earths atmosphere without being detected beforehand? Here’s our recently updated infographics with the fraction of undiscovered NEOs for each size range: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
As expected, we are now nearly complete for the large ones, while many of the smaller ones are still unknown.
In order to improve coverage, we need both to continue the current approach, centered on ground-based telescopes, and probably also launch dedicated telescopes to space, to look at the fraction of the sky that cannot be easily observed from the ground (e.g., towards the Sun).
Regarding the last part of your question, small asteroids enter the Earth atmosphere very often (the infographics above gives you some numbers), while larger ones are much rarer.
In the recent past, the largest one to enter our atmosphere was about 20 meters in diameter, and it caused the Chelyabinsk event in 2013. It could not be detected in advance because it came from the direction of the Sun.
We have however detected a few small ones before impact. The first happened in 2008, when a ~4-meter asteroid was found to be on a collision course less than a day before impact, it was predicted to fall in Northern Sudan, and then actually observed falling precisely where (and when) expected.
MM
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DVK: And to add what MM said - Check out http://neo.ssa.esa.int. There is a ‘discovery statistics’ section which provides some of the info you asked about. NASA is providing similar information here https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/stats/. To see the sky which is currently covered by the survey telescopes, you need to service of the Minor Planet Center which we all work together with: http://www.minorplanetcenter.org, ‘observers’, ‘sky coverage’. That is a tool we use to plan where we look with our telescopes, so it is a more technical page.
Are there any automatic systems for checking large numbers of asteroids orbits, to see if the asteroid's orbit is coming dangerously close to Earth, or is it done by people individually for every asteroid? I ask it because LSST Rubin is coming online soon and you know it will discover a lot of new asteroids. Yes, such systems exist, and monitor all known and newly discovered asteroids in order to predict possible future impacts.
The end result of the process is what we call "risk list": http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page
It is automatically updated every day once new observational data is processed.
MM
What are your favourite sci-fi series? DVK: My favorites are ‘The Expanse’, I also liked watching ‘Salvation’. For the first one I even got my family to give me a new subscription to a known internet streaming service so that I can see the latest episodes. I also loved ‘The Jetsons’ and ‘The Flintstones’ as a kid. Not sure the last one counts as sci-fi though. My long-time favorite was ‘Dark Star’.
this is another reply Big fan of The Expanse at the moment. Nice, hard sci-fi that has a good impression of being grounded in reality - AC
this is another reply When I was a kid I liked The Jetsons, when growing up Star Trek, Star wars and I also used to watch with my sister the 'V'.
HG
When determining the potential threat of a NEA, is the mass of an object a bigger factor or size? I'm asking because I'm curious if a small but massive object (say, with the density of Psyche) could survive atmospheric entry better than a comparatively larger but less massive object. The mass is indeed what really matters, since it’s directly related with the impact energy.
And as you said composition also matters, a metal object would survive atmospheric entry better, not just because it’s heavier, but also because of its internal strength.
MM
What are your thoughts on asteroid mining as portrayed in sci-fi movies? Is it feasible? If so would governments or private space programs be the first to do so?What type of minerals can be found on asteroids that would merit the costs of extraction? Certainly there is valuable stuff you can find on asteroids. For example, the likely easiest material you can harvest from an asteroid would be volatiles such as H2O. Then you have industrial metals, things like Iron, Nickel, and Platinum group metals. Going further, you can break apart many of the oxide minerals you would find to get oxygen (getting you closer to producing rocket fuel in-situ!). Its feasible, but still needs alot of testing both here on Earth and eventually needs to be tested on a target. It may be that governments, via agencies like ESA or NASA, may do it first, to prove the principles somewhat, but I know many commercial entities are also aggresively working towards space mining. To show you that its definitely possible, I'd like to plug the work of colleagues who have processed lunar regolith (which is similar to what you may find on asteroids) to extract both oxygen and metals. Check it out here: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2019/10/Oxygen_and_metal_from_lunar_regolith
AC
Will 2020's climax be a really big rock? DVK: Let's hope not...
Considering NASA, ESA, IAU etc. is working hard to track Earth-grazing asteroids, how come the Chelyabinsk object that airburst over Russia in 2013 came as a total surprise? The Chelyabinsk object came from the direction of the Sun, where unfortunately ground-based telescopes cannot look at. Therefore, it would not have been possible to discover it in advance with current telescopes. Dedicated space telescopes are needed to detect objects coming from this direction in advance.
MM
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Is this to say that it was within specific solid angles for the entire time that we could have observed it given its size and speed? Yes, precisely that. We got unlucky in this case.
MM
Have any of you read Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven? In your opinion, how realistic is his depiction of an asteroid strike on Earth? DVK: I have – but really long ago, so I don’t remember the details. But I do remember that I really liked the book, and I remember I always wanted to have a Hot Fudge Sundae when reading it.
I was thinking about the asteroid threat as a teen and came up with this ideas (Hint: they are not equally serious, the level of craziness goes up real quick). Could you please comment on their feasibility? 1. Attaching a rocket engine to an asteroid to make it gradually change trajectory, do that long in advance and it will miss Earth by thousands of km 2. Transporting acid onto asteroid (which are mainly metal), attaching a dome-shaped reaction chamber to it, using heat and pressure to then carry out the chemical reaction to disintegrate asteroids 3. This one is even more terrible than a previous one and totally Dan Brown inspired — transporting antimatter on asteroid, impacting and causing annihilation. Thank you for this AMA and your time! DVK: Well the first one is not so crazy, I have seen it presented... the difficulty is that all asteroids are rotating in one way or another. So if you continuously fire the engine it would not really help. You'd need to switch the engine on and off. Very complex. And landing on an asteroid is challenging too. Just using the 'kinetic impactor' which we will test with DART/Hera (described elsewhere in this chat) is simpler. Another seriously proposed concept is to put a spacecraft next to an asteroid and use an ion engine (like we have on our Mercury mission BepiColombo) to 'push' the asteroid away.
As for 2 and 3 I think I will not live to see that happening ;-)
What is the process to determine the orbit of a newly discovered asteroid? The process is mathematically quite complex, but here's a short summary.
Everything starts with observations, in particular with measurements of the position of an asteroid in the sky, what we call "astrometry". Discovery telescopes extract this information from their discovery images, and make it available to everybody.
These datapoints are then used to calculate possible trajectories ("orbits") that pass through them. At first, with very few points, many orbits will be possible.
Using these orbits we can extrapolate where the asteroid will be located during the following nights, use a telescope to observe that part of the sky, and locate the object again.
From these new observations we can extract new "astrometry", add it to the orbit determination, and see that now only some of the possible orbits will be compatible with the new data. As a result, we now know the trajectory better than before, because a few of the possible orbits are not confirmed by the new data.
The cycle can then continue, with new predictions, new observations, and a more accurate determination of the object's orbit, until it can be determined with an extremely high level of accuracy.
MM
What are some asteroids that are on your "watchlist"? We have exactly that list on our web portal: http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page
It's called "risk list", and it includes all known asteroids for which we cannot exclude a possible impact over the next century. It is updated every day to include newly discovered asteroids, and remove those that have been excluded as possible impactors thanks to new observations.
MM
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That's quite a list!! Do you guys ever feel stressed or afraid when you have to add another dangerous candidate (and by dangerous I mean those above 200m) is added to this Risk List? Yes, when new dangerous ones are added it's important that we immediately do our best to gather more data on them, observing them with telescopes in order to get the information we need to improve our knowledge of their orbit.
And then the satisfaction of getting the data needed to remove one from the list is even greater!
MM
What inspired you to go into this field of study? I was fascinated by astronomy in general since I was a kid, but the actual "trigger" that sparked my interest in NEOs was a wonderful summer course on asteroids organized by a local amateur astronomers association. I immediately decided that I would do my best to turn this passion into my job, and I'm so happy to have been able to make that dream come true.
MM
this is another reply DVK: I started observing meteors when I was 14, just by going outside and looking at the night sky. Since then, small bodies in the solar system were always my passion.
As a layperson, I still think using nuclear weapons against asteroids is the coolest method despite better methods generally being available. Do you still consider the nuclear option the cool option, or has your expertise in the field combined with the real-life impracticalities made it into a laughable/silly/cliche option? DVK: We indeed still study the nuclear option. There are legal aspects though, the ‘outer space treaty’ forbids nuclear explosions in space. But for a large object or one we discover very late it could be useful. That’s why we have to focus on discovering all the objects out there as early as possible – then we have time enough to use more conventional deflection methods, like the kinetic impactor (the DART/Hera scenario).
It seems like doing this well would require international cooperation, particularly with Russia. Have you ever reached out to Russia in your work? Do you have a counterpart organization there that has a similar mission? DVK: Indeed international cooperation is important - asteroids don't know about our borders! We work with a Russian team to perform follow-up observations of recently discovered NEOs. Russia is also involved in the UN-endorsed working groups that we have, IAWN and SMPAG (explained in another answer).
how much can experts tell from a video of a fireball or meteor? Can you work out what it's made of and where it came from? https://www.reddit.com/space/comments/hdf3xe/footage_of_a_meteor_at_barrow_island_australia/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x If multiple videos or pictures, taken from different locations, are available, then it's possible to reconstruct the trajectory, and extrapolate where the object came from.
Regarding the composition, it's a bit more difficult if nothing survives to the ground, but some information can be obtained indirectly from the fireball's color, or its fragmentation behavior. If a spectral analysis of the light can be made, it's then possible to infer the chemical composition in much greater detail.
MM
I've always wanted to know what the best meteorite buying site is and what their average price is?? DVK: Serious dealers will be registered with the 'International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA)' - https://www.imca.cc/. They should provide a 'certificate of authenticity' where it says that they are member there. If you are in doubt, you can contact the association and check. Normally there are rough prices for different meteorite types per gram. Rare meteorites will of course be much more expensive than more common ones. Check the IMCA web page to find a dealer close to you.
Just read through Aidans link to the basaltic rock being used as a printing material for lunar habitation. There is a company called Roxul that does stone woven insulation that may be able to shed some light on the research they have done to minimize their similarity to asbestos as potentially carcinogenic materials deemed safe for use in commercial and residential applications. As the interior surfaces will essentially be 3D printed lunar regolith what are the current plans to coat or dampen the affinity for the structure to essentially be death traps for respiratory illness? At least initially, many of these 3d printed regolith structures would not be facing into pressurised sections, but would rather be elements placed outside and around our pressure vessels. Such structures would be things like radiation shields, landing pads or roadways, etc. In the future, if we move towards forming hermetically sealed structures, then your point is a good one. Looking into terrestrial solutions to this problem would be a great start! - AC
What kind of career path does it take to work in the asteroid hunting field? It's probably different for each of us, but here's a short summary of my own path.
I became interested in asteroids, and near-Earth objects in particular, thanks to a wonderful summer course organized by a local amateur astronomers association. Amateur astronomers play a great role in introducing people, and young kids in particular, to these topics.
Then I took physics as my undergrad degree (in Italy), followed by a Ph.D. in astronomy in the US (Hawaii in particular, a great place for astronomers thanks to the exceptional telescopes hosted there).
After finishing the Ph.D. I started my current job at ESA's NEO Coordination Centre, which allowed me to realize my dream of working in this field.
MM
this is another reply DVK: Almost all of us have a Master's degree either in aerospace engineering, mathematics, physics/astronomy/planetary science, or computer science. Some of us - as MM - have a Ph.D. too. But that's not really a requirement. This is true for our team at ESA, but also for other teams in other countries.
What is the likelihood of an asteroid hitting the Earth In the next 200 years? It depends on the size, large ones are rare, while small ones are much more common. You can check this infographics to get the numbers for each size class: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
MM
Have you played the Earth Defence Force games and if you have, which one is your favourite? No I have not played the Earth Defence Force games, but I just looked it up and I think I would liked it. Which one would you recommend?
HG
How close is too close to earth? Space is a SUPER vast void so is 1,000,000 miles close, 10,000,000? And if an asteroid is big enough can it throw earth off its orbit? DVK: Too close for my taste is when we compute an impact probability > 0 for the object. That means the flyby distance is zero :-) Those are the objects on our risk page http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page.
If an object can alter the orbit of another one, we would call it planet. So unless we have a rogue planet coming from another solar system (verrry unlikely) we are safe from that.
How can I join you when I'm older? DVK: Somebody was asking about our career paths... Study aerospace engineering or math or physics or computer science, get a Masters. Possibly a Ph.D. Then apply for my position when I retire. Check here for how to apply at ESA: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA/Frequently_asked_questions2#HR1
How much is too much? DVK: 42 again
Are you aware of any asteroids that are theoretically within our reach, or will be within our reach at some point, that are carrying a large quantity of shungite? If you're not aware, shungite is like a 2 billion year old like, rock stone that protects against frequencies and unwanted frequencies that may be traveling in the air. I bought a whole bunch of the stuff. Put them around the la casa. Little pyramids, stuff like that. DVK: If I remember my geology properly, Shungite forms in water sedimental deposits. This requires liquid water, i.e. a larger planet. So I don't think there is a high chance to see that on asteroids.
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‘They are us’ – an urgent, uncomfortable call to action

"By Morgan Godfery | Contributing writer March 13, 2020
A proper reckoning with March 15 2019 demands that we take up a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism. An essay by Morgan Godfery.
This work is made possible by Spinoff Members.

1

I was cleaning out the garage the other day and found an old Crusaders jersey. If I remember right it’s their team kit from 2005, the white knight sewn into the chest and the old Ford logo printed in the centre. The jersey itself is still as fresh as new paint, a novelty purchase from when we were passing through Christchurch on our way to Christmas in Oamaru. I was a year 9 in school and a Super 12 jersey was the kind of item you had, just so you could say you had one. This is about the same time it was still acceptable to whisper things like how the white players in the Crusaders were responsible for their team’s championship success, playing their footy with brains, and the problem with mid-table finishers like the Blues were too many brown boys who only knew how to throw their weight around.
I’m not quite white-passing, but my upper middle-class accent, generally preppy affect, and not-quite-pasty-not-quite-brown skin makes me ethnically ambiguous enough that people are happy to share their thoughts about big Polynesian units, Asian immigrants, Muslim terrorists, and the Jews. The first time I remember running into entirely casual racism was in Christchurch, on the way back from that Christmas in Oamaru, when a retail worker caught up with me on the street apologising for short-changing me in store. I didn’t realise or particularly care, but years later I thought about his apology. “Sorry, I just Jew-ed you”.
At the time it was nothing to me. In high school and later in my flat at Victoria that was just what people said. “Jewing” someone was a verb for ripping them off, taking an advantage, or just a way to give someone a bit of stick. In my experience it was especially popular with the Christ’s College boys, which probably has something to do with the city’s private schools inheriting their culture from Britain’s public schools. “A Jewish boy at a public school almost invariably had a bad time,” wrote Orwell in 1945. Things probably aren’t that much better in 2020. The other day I read an old mate – a private schooler too – on Facebook joking about how Jews are useless at sport.
I suspect for good liberals this is probably shocking. This isn’t language that ever sneaks through our circles. But outside of our cosy hermetic world words like coconut, boonga, fob, wog, gook, curry muncher, towelhead, the hundred variations on the N word, and “Jew” as more than a noun are common currency. The stains from that vocabulary seep into every part of the culture and society, and nothing much has ever been done to wash it out. The first time I remember encountering deliberate, menacing racism is on the rugby paddock when a white coach was yelling at my mate on the wing “run you BLACK bastard”. I thought about that moment when spectators in Christchurch were caught vilifying Fijian player Sake Aca in 2015, screaming from the stands “black cunt”.
Fandoms like to imagine their sports, multicultural rugby especially, as pure and independent realms (“a level playing field”) absent race, politics, or any disadvantage other than skill. It’s a seductive argument, I’ll concede that much, but it’s so self-evidently false it still surprises me every time someone insists on it earnestly. Sport? Not racist? In 2012 talkback callers and trolls went after then Blues coach Pat Lam and his family for the great crime of simply being Polynesian. In 2010 former All Black Andy Haden was put through the wringer for telling media the Crusaders only recruit a maximum three “darkies”, presumably to preserve the team’s famous brain-brawn balance.
Even in the laudatory histories New Zealand rugby was, and probably remains, a notorious nexus for down home conservatives, know-nothing administrators, and out and out racists. In 1960 the rugby union sent the All Blacks on tour to Apartheid South Africa, waving the team off without any Māori players or officials in a remarkable sop to the country’s colour bar. In 1976 the national team were sent back, this time defying international calls to cut sporting ties with the racist state. In protest at the tour more than twenty African countries led a boycott at that year’s Olympics, a moral stand that should perpetually shame New Zealand Rugby. Not racist? As if.
In an ideal world the Canterbury Crusaders would study this history, carefully considering whether their decision to retain the team name is another brick in rugby’s wall of shame. The managers might consider how “deus vult”, meaning God wills it, a battle cry from the first Crusade, and “Acre 1189”, a reference to a siege in the third Crusade, are URL shorthands and postscripts for white supremacist users constructing a historiography for their neo-fascist movement. The managers might also reflect on how real-life white supremacists in countries like Brazil, Norway, and Australia are adopting the Knights Templar, the Christian warrior monks who made up the crusading hordes, and the literal white knight that was formerly the Canterbury team’s logo, as their saints.
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CRUSADERS MASCOTS AT AMI STADIUM IN CHRISTCHURCH IN 2019. PHOTO: DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES. FEATURE IMAGE: FRIDAY PRAYERS AT AL NOOR MOSQUE ON MARCH 22, 2019. PHOTO BY SANKA VIDANAGAMA/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
As it happens the team’s managers, after kicking the issue to a “market research” firm shortly after March 15, made the call to save the name. It’s an unconscionable decision, for obvious reasons, but the team bosses seem cognitively incapable of reasoning through the issue and its implications beyond mere “branding”. In a statement announcing the name-stay the team’s PR people wrote “for us, the Crusaders name is a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community,” as if it’s possible to just reframe the holy war using a press release. It’s a cretinous thing to do when not even a year earlier an alleged shooter undertook a massacre at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques as part of his own “crusade”.
A28-year-old man is before the High Court facing 52 murder charges relating to the events of March 15. What we know about his life is little, save the things he was curating about himself online, which in this essay I treat with caution and scepticism. But it seems clear enough the Australian citizen was an obsessive for the Crusades, scribbling references to the religious war for the Holy Land across the weapon police accuse the man of using to carry out the massacre. Investigative reports note in his pilgrimage to Europe the 28-year-old – who pleaded not guilty to all charges – made particular visits to Christian-Muslim battlegrounds in the former Ottoman Empire, apparently as a tribute to the crusading warmongers he was so keen to match.
To outsiders the obsession with this particular historical episode is probably bizarre, if not creepy. But in the nether world this man and his neo-fascist comrades inhabit they imagine they’re acting out the thesis and title in Samuel P Huntington’s The Clash of Civilisations. In his 1993 essay the American political scientist argues that in the immediate past global conflicts were between warring ideological factions – capitalism and communism – but post-Cold War conflict will centre between clashing civilisations. The West vs the rest. Christianity vs Islam. The Crusades II.
In Huntington’s telling, and in the alleged shooter’s head, the West and the Islamic world are fated to compete. Yet that competition won’t centre over economic issues like stable oil supply lines, or even political issues like the territorial integrity of Western allies in the Middle East, instead the clash is meant to happen over Islam’s apparently regressive values and the West’s progressive tradition. It’s a striking thesis, especially for the generals and politicians who were hunting for cover for their military adventures in the Middle East and East Africa in the late 80s and early 90s. But it was always a notion that was impossible to apply, reducing the Islamic world to a series of stereotypes (it never had its enlightenment) and setting it against an equally reductive West (it did have its enlightenment).
The late Edward Said, the Palestinian scholar, cut right to the heart of Huntington’s argument in identifying it wasn’t an argument at all – rather, he was “a partisan, an advocate of one so-called civilisation over all others” who maps billions of people into “vague” and “manipulable” abstractions and then presents it as a true account of the world. “Thus to build a conceptual framework around the notion of us-versus-them is in effect to pretend that the principal consideration is epistemological and natural – our civilisation is now and accepted, theirs is different and strange – whereas in fact the framework separating us from them is belligerent, constructed, and situational.”
In other words, the thing separating the Christian us from the Islamic them, to the extent a clean separation is possible at all, is history – of colonialism, of Cold War power politics – and not immutable categories like “the West” or “the East”. That the categories exist at all are a function of history and political convenience, not a universal law stipulating conflict as the only end. Yet for the neo-fascists like the alleged shooter every thought they cherish orbits this particular rock: that the entire Islamic world is one dirty blob of terrorism, rape, and invasion, and that all its more than one billion members act with a single purpose and co-ordination unknown in the entire history of humanity.
But why commit to a dichotomy so obviously stupid at all? The 28-year-old grew up in Grafton, a waterway town in northern New South Wales, and in his time on the Eastern seaboard it seems unlikely he ever actually met many Muslim people at all. In his own family’s account they were just ordinary Aussies. It’s impossible to interrogate the claim – every family thinks itself the norm and we can’t penetrate their private lives to investigate how true it is – yet the family were probably ordinary in one sense. They were unremarkable. Just another white family. The alleged shooter’s parents were in traditional jobs. Mum a teacher. Dad a rubbish man.
The people who were closest to him – cousins, old school mates – pinpoint his OE to Europe as “the moment”. As RNZ reports in his manifesto the alleged shooter recounts his trip through North Korea and Pakistan, paying tribute to the locals’ kindness and hospitality (noticing the contradiction he explains he doesn’t hate the yellows and blacks who stay in their own “homelands”). Eventually he lands in Europe, road tripping France. In one passage he despairs that he can’t seem to find an all-white town or city. In another passage his travels take him, quite conveniently, to a cemetery for the European dead of the world wars. “I broke into tears, sobbing alone in the car,” he writes, mourning the apparent Islamification of Europe. “Why were we allowing these soldiers deaths to be in vain?”
He didn’t realise that the dead he mourned died trying to kill people like him.
In 2018 I wrote (presciently, without claiming too much credit for an insight this awful) that “white nationalism is, for the basement dwelling 4chaners, mouth breathing Redditors, and Youtube philosopher kings, nothing more than a desperate search for an alternative fatherland”. That search is what drove the alleged shooter from his Australian home. “The origin of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European… most importantly, my blood is European”. To the alleged shooter his actual home was irredeemable. “What is an Australian but a drunk European?”
In each claim is a desperate narcissism, reaching for an imaginary identity when your existing accomplishments don’t match your personal ambitions. It’s tempting to extend that psychoanalysis. The alleged shooter’s fetish for imaginary “whites” is a cover for the trauma of being a nothing, disembodied. Or maybe the urge to order and rank the world into competing civilisations is a neurosis, like stacking your knives and forks in a row. Perhaps the pleasure he takes in trolling is jouissance, a momentary transgression in the service of briefly feeling. Yet those readings are weightless if they stand alone. The alleged shooter’s interior life is relevant, certainly so for a conviction on murder, but studying the actually existing politics that shaped his positions and actions seems more important than base speculation.
In The Invention of Tradition the historians Terence Ranger and Eric Hobsbawm argue that traditions, far from the ancient wisdoms of old, are often nothing more than recent beliefs that help foster a common identity when – to borrow from Said – “organic solidarities” like the family or village break down. The inventions are easy to spot in the courts and parliament where British ritual connects the two institutions to a pedigree and past that their move half away across the world broke. In the neo-fascist movement the inventions are slightly more subtle, taking actual historical happenings like the Crusades and pick-and-mixing the symbols (Knights Templar), battles (Acre 1189), and language (deus vult) that they can contort around the various anti-Muslim bigotries.
The idea that traditions are a kind of stand-in where old connections break down seems especially apt in settler colonies where the relationship to the past and a present community often amounts to nothing more than a shopping list of shared habits and references. Gumboots as culture. I appreciate that description could come across as banal, or even malicious, but it gets close to the impulses apparently guiding the alleged shooter: the search for meaningful political connections and political community. As he saw it Australia had no identity to offer. Instead he found his connection in an “imagined community” – in violent European nationalisms – and online.
“I am a racist”, the man writes in his manifesto. His neo-fascists comrades were too.

2

One of the first inspirations he cites is Luca Traini, a 28-year-old Italian neo-Nazi who, with a 9mm glock, went on a drive-by shooting injuring six African migrants in Macarata in 2018. The racist rampage lit a fuse under that year’s Italian general election. The left went after Matteo Salvini, the League Party leader, the same party in which Traini stood as a mayoral list candidate, for inspiring his violent work. In an ordinary election a political leader would make an immediate climb down, condemning Traini and his crimes. But Salvini, best known in the English-speaking world for closing harbours to refugees crossing the Med, was surprisingly consistent. He said the left had “blood on its hands” for packing the country with “illegal migrants”. The unspoken implication: Traini was doing his patriotic duty.
The alleged shooter, watching on from another hemisphere, found a brother in arms. The two men had built their identities around all the same hatreds and had clothed their boogeymen in all the same threads. One stitch for migrant “invaders”. Two stiches for liberals and Marxists, and a needle for the “race traitors” among them. But where the twin gunmen’s hatred really met, transforming from online big noting to a real-life passion, was in protecting “their” women. Traini undertook his crime as an apparent act of revenge against the three Nigerian refugees in court for killing 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro.
In his manifesto the alleged shooter offers a similar provocation, taking 11-year-old Ebba Akerlund’s death as his red pill. In his self-mythologising, the Stockholm truck attack, a deadly terrorist attack that took Akerlund’s and four other lives, was his waking moment. “It was another terror attack in the seemingly never-ending attacks that had been occurring on a regular basis throughout my adult life,” he wrote. “But for some reason this was different”. What was that difference? Akerlund. An innocent. It’s a vile misuse – he doesn’t care for anyone or anything beyond himself – but the narrative demands an affect, the shooter turning in his coward’s rags for a knight’s armour.
For neo-fascists it’s essential to tell their origin stories through the opposite sex. For aspiring movement leaders like the alleged shooter it’s the fight to protect the “virtue” of “our women” against “Muslim rapists” that forces their hand. For lurkers, shitposters, and like-avores it’s the feminists and “Staceys” who never recognise the genius and vigour of their own race (plain meaning: “women don’t want me”) who lead them into fascism. Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger, a martyr for beta males, undertook his crimes and suicide as an apparent act of “retribution” against women for denying him the sex and love he thought of as his by right.
This, not the customary declarations of love for the race, or even the thrill of sharing the same enemies, is usually the heart of online fascism – it’s a reaction against women.
In Male Fantasies the German sociologist Klaus Theweleit argues the fascist men who fought against the Weimar Republic from 1918 to 1933, and who went on to prominent positions and a political home in the Nazi regime, were in their heads and hearts afraid of women. For the “Freikorps” there were two womanly classes: White Women, “the nurses” representing order and servitude to men and country; and Red Women, “the communists” representing disorder, whoring, and the end of patriotic men. The latter were the women the paramilitary movement were under an obligation to kill. In one speech a general complains that when “a few old girls get blown up the whole world starts screaming about bloodthirsty soldiers”.
“As if women were always innocent,” he said.
This is why every fascist movement purges women first – metaphorically and actually. In Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema the American historian describes how films under the Duce’s regime “remove the Italian woman from the colonial space”, portraying the colonies as where men might find purpose through trans-national thuggery, and attacking women’s emancipation at home as a “corrupting” force and a check on the people’s success. The alleged shooter undertook his killings with similar illusions. That he could forge a new identity in gun fire and blood, and that liberated women (and Jews) were responsible for his personal and racial decline. In his manifesto the opening line is “it’s the birth rates”, repeated three times.
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THE WELLINGTON 15/3 VIGIL HELD AT THE BASIN RESERVE (PHOTO BY ELIAS RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES)
It’s easy to diagnose the same pathologies in his comrades. Game developers Zoë Quinn, Brianna Wu and media critic Anita Sarkeesian – the victims in 2014’s Gamergate troll – were made targets for harassment for no other reason than they were women crossing the border between a man’s stuff (the spacies) and a woman’s role (sex and housework). In New Zealand the death threats against Golriz Ghahraman, our first MP who arrived in New Zealand as a refugee, are so frequent Parliamentary Services ensures special protection for the Green MP. The critics go after Ghahraman for everything from fakery (her “CV” is a lie, she isn’t a “real refugee”) to acting as part of a globalist conspiracy to wipe out the white race. It’s impressively stupid, of course, but the point isn’t the truth in the charges. It’s that an Iranian-born woman sits in our parliament.
The same trolls go for the prime minister on Twitter’s #TurnArdern hashtag too, condemning Jacinda as a lazy woman (#parttimePM) who coasts along on nothing more than her femininity (“she’s a pretty communist”). That’s hardly out of the ordinary, of course. In the 2000s print commentators were comfortable enough to throw equally chauvinist slurs at Helen Clark, using “Helengrad” for Clark as the controlling woman and “political dominatrix” for ball-breaking the men around her. The difference is today’s trolls serve their sexism with Islamophobia on top. Last year activist Rangi Kemara found a telling correlation between tweeters of Turn Ardern and tweeters of Islamophobia. The Christchurch man selling MAGA hats – “Make Ardern Go Away” – on TradeMe once wrote he would destroy “mosque after mosque till I am taken out”.
Give me the misogynist, to corrupt an old saying, and I’ll show you the Islamophobe.
Simone Weil, the French philosopher, would recognise in the turn to Europe – and the turn against women – a classic “uprooting”. In almost every country material comfort and security often rely on cutting the cord between a person, the past, and a present community: removing Indigenous people from their land; separating citizens from their homes and families in one place for work in another; and reducing people to their supposedly “innate” categories (race, gender, etc). These uprootings, in Weil’s words, are a “sickness of the soul” that leave men especially vulnerable to demagoguery. In their search for past and present connections they turn to “false conceptions” like patriotism and national greatness, and at the core of each in 2020: hatred for and fear of women.

3

What’s notable about this neo-fascist movement isn’t necessarily its reach but its mode. Online, yes, but more importantly: politically free. Other than finance, the alleged shooter had no political or bureaucratic restraints. He could post all the tell-tale things he apparently did, and it seemed neither the police nor the spy agencies would ever flag it. He could acquire the semi-automatic weapon the Crown charge him with using with nothing more than a gun licence – and the seller was under no obligation to log the purchase. And he could move between Australia and New Zealand’s practically open borders with only a passport and a straight face for the eGate.
I hope you register the irony in this. Borders were the very thing the alleged shooter was desperate to enforce against the Muslim hordes. After moving to New Zealand, ostensibly to plan an attack back home, the 28-year-old found instead that “the invaders were in all of our lands”. Even at the bottom of the world in formerly lily-white Christchurch. “Nowhere was safe”, he wrote. The alleged shooter, in a bonfire of pomposity and self-regard, actually did think himself at the centre of a civilisational struggle between the out-bred West and Islam. In the mind of the manifesto writer, massacring Muslims would enforce the borders the supposed sell outs in government wouldn’t.
But in allegedly killing the innocent people he did he wasn’t taking on a powerful soon-to-be majority. Rather, on one side is the 28-year-old with all his political and social freedoms, and on the other are the shooting’s victims who were living their lives under significant political and social restraints. The spy agencies were dedicating their resources to “Islamic terrorism”, not the alleged shooter’s terrorism. Police commit more resources to “street gangs” – that is, Māori – and barely even bother with the alleged shooter’s brothers and sisters in white power. The immigration department, as any anecdote can confirm, focuses disproportionate attention on non-white entries, and the only people who move freely between borders are people like the 28-year-old.
In short: non-white people live their lives under scrutiny and surveillance.
The government’s official response to the Christchurch shooting is to extend that scrutiny and surveillance to, well, white people. Jacinda Ardern is leading reforms to gun laws and the rules governing how online users share violent, racist, and other objectionable material. Last month the country’s top spies told a parliamentary select committee that they’re keeping watch on dozens of suspect characters. Police, even a year on, are still making home visits to destroy illegal weapons and otherwise interview lurkers and posters. The changes, taken together, rightly remove the freedom and options the alleged shooter had, and make it almost impossible for his comrades to organise.
Yet as good and necessary as those changes are some of the structural conditions that produce the racial distinctions the alleged shooter holds so dear are left intact.
In organised debating one of the famous moots is the “balloon debate”. In it each speaker, usually arguing on behalf of someone famous, proposes why the others shouldn’t toss him or her over the side of a hot air balloon in order to save the others. It’s a riveting hypothetical, placing six people in disaster’s mouth and exercising the collective choice to doom one and rescue the others. But for anyone who understands how it feels to have their apparent merits and demerits subject to “debate”, with someone else drawing up a balance sheet in red and black, it’s horrendous. The idea is we’re born equal, but after that all bets are off. This is what women, takatāpui, Māori, Muslims, and other deviations from the “norm” deal with most days.
Are we worthy?
It’s the same principle that organises immigration to New Zealand: who’s worthy? In our system the government literally attaches “points” to the world’s hopeful according to their potential for improving the lives of the hosts. Good English? Points. A tertiary qualification? Add to the tally. Assets? You’re basically in. The system’s political champions admire this approach for its rationality. Unlike the US where immigration sometimes relies on a lottery – eg the American Diversity Immigrant Visa – or just keen racism – i.e. the Muslim travel ban – New Zealand immigration is hassle-free and non-discriminatory.
It’s a self-serving argument, of course, because an immigration system where the purpose and function is defining inclusions and exclusions (who’s in and who’s out) is never neutral. When Winston Peters calls for tighter English language requirements, for example, that’s really an argument for conferring an advantage on applicants from the Anglosphere over people with equivalent skills or greater need from other parts of the world. This isn’t explicitly discriminatory, at least in the sense the exclusionary threshold doesn’t depend on a person’s race, but the impact is racist in that one group of people (mostly white) enjoy an advantage over another group (mostly non-white) thanks to nothing more than the great good fortune of being born an English speaker.
It’s a perversity. Yet this is what border systems, including our points system, do: they force you to think about inners and outers. The threshold between the worthy and the unworthy. This is one reason the refugee-led campaign to end the “family link policy” was so important. In removing the rule barring African and Middle Eastern refugees from settling in New Zealand (unless their family were already here) the campaigners saw to one of the worst racial exclusions our border system made. If you’re an optimist you might hope the other racist exclusions in our border laws – like The Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act, the legislation stripping Samoans of their Privy Council-confirmed New Zealand citizenship – are but a campaign away from abolition.
I’m a pessimist.
I suspect most people imagine borders as objects, a line in the ground demarcating our country from theirs. Yet the American southern border, as one example, is notable more for “the Wall’s” absence than its presence. The northern border is even less dramatic, a largely wide-open space with fences here and there to pen in the farm animals. In New Zealand airlines usually enforce the country’s borders thousands of kilometres from our actual line on the map. Under the Advance Passenger Screening programme carriers only board passengers with the appropriate documentation.
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A POLICE OFFICER DEMONSTRATES ILLEGAL GUN MODIFICATIONS. (PHOTO: RNZ / ANA TOVEY)
It’s another marvellous technocratic achievement, appointing airline staff as de facto border patrol agents. But like the points system the screening programme’s impacts can end up perverse and racial making it almost impossible for refugees and asylum seekers from “non-visa waiver countries” (i.e. the developing world) from ever making it far enough to lodge a claim for protection in New Zealand. The programme, more than anything else, exposes borders for what they really are – a list of biased inclusions and exclusions – and the structural violence borders perform are in whom they include (the English-speaking, the educated, the wealthy) and who they exclude (the desperate, the poor, the mostly brown and black).
The alleged shooter and the neo-fascist movement understand a struggle is happening over the nature and function of borders. This man recognised new borders – the “balkanisation of the US” – as the only way to guarantee “the future of the White race on the North American continent”. His comrades, like the neo-Nazi who went on a stabbing riot on a train in Oregon, claim their end goal is smashing the US into competing ethno-states. For them – and their king in President Trump – reconfiguring the borders, whether as policy changes to the inclusions and exclusions or new border lines entirely, is the best way to guarantee their political supremacy this century.
Are borders by their very nature racist?

4

I took my last trip to Christchurch a month and a half after March 15. I had a speaking engagement with Network Waitangi Otautahi, the local tauiwi Treaty group. I thought about putting it off. Post-March 15 the only conversations that seem urgent and necessary are about March 15. Taking up space felt wrong, and even stepping off the plane felt intrusive. The city was grieving. Even the affect was off. People were unusually quiet in public spaces. In private one person I spoke to was literally in tears. We weren’t talking about March 15 at all but she was thinking about it every day. Even that felt like I was taking up space. Am I here to grieve too? I thought about Sam Neill breaking down in a taxi when the news broke, openly weeping, and how he took comfort from his Muslim driver.
Hmmm.
I spoke, in the end. Not entirely comfortably, but an intervention of one kind or another felt right after the racism debate went from “individual hate” to “firearms access” to “the internet”. Each is its own valid connection, sure, but it felt as if all the most important connections were missing. In the English-speaking world it’s fashionable to name private, individual acts as “racist”. The intolerant, unfair, or simply racial things that fall out of people’s mouths. Like “cheeky darkies” on the 7pm telly. But it’s unfashionable, of course, to name racist systems. Instead bureaucrats and opinion-makers opt for euphemisms like “unconscious bias”, reducing racism to a state of mind and not a systemic design.
This is why I thought it important to issue a reminder, in the very small way that I could: racism is a social relation. It’s the principle governing the relationship between coloniser – the people who took this land and built the institutions to control and profit from it – and colonised, the people from whom the land was taken and the institutions built to protect and exploit the founding theft. The same principle shapes the relationship between citizens – people who enjoy all the rights the state confers – and non-citizens, outsiders who must prove their worth through their contribution to citizens.
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These are the systemic conditions that produce racism – unequal power relations – and it’s what makes it so easy to condemn the Māoris or the immigrants or whoever else. When one people are up and the other are down, and the scales are apparently resistant to any remedial attempts to balance them with Treaty settlements or an increase in the refugee and asylum seeker quota, it makes it seem as if their disadvantage is a state of nature and not a centuries-long project to exclude certain people from prosperity. To the alleged shooter his victims were by their very nature irredeemable, abusing the West’s generosity, and he understood himself as enacting the same permanent exclusions his ancestors made, from the Crusades to the war on terror.
In this sense, the alleged shooter was an individual racist. Of course he was. But in another sense he was taking our exclusionary systems to their logical end.
Is there any response to savagery like this? The government’s reforms are one. I entirely support them. And yet they fall so short. People will still define their identity in different nationalisms, just like the alleged shooter did, so long as there are racist border system to enforce them. Neo-fascists will still define their identities against women as long as there is an unequal “domestic sphere”, an unequal workplace, and a society where one group – men – accumulate and exercise disproportionate power over another – women, trans people, non-binary people. That makes the struggle against the alleged shooter’s politics longer than his trial, his probable conviction, and his probable imprisonment. It’s a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism.
On my read Simone Weil’s original, vital insight is that as people and communities we find our identities in the obligations we owe – and in the obligations owed to us. In those reciprocal relationships we find meaning and purpose. In the give and take, in its delights and frustrations, and in the everyday work of making a home in these islands. This is where we find our roots, connecting to each other in different ways – whether as Māori or women or Muslims – but never excluding. “They are us” is an inclusion. They are us is an affirmation. They are us is also an urgent and uncomfortable call to action. As New Zealanders, it’s our responsibility to take on every exclusionary system, whether it’s racist borders or enduring gender roles. The memory of those who lost their lives on March 15 demands no less."
submitted by lolpolice88 to Maori [link] [comments]

Overwatch Survey 2017 Results!

Hi guys, first off I just wanna say a huge thank you to you all for taking part in the survey! I was aiming for 5,000 within a week and we got 10,000 in less than 48 hours! I closed the survey off at 10,013 responders – sorry to all who didn’t get to take part, there will be more!
Here is the information in a very simplified format. If you would like any more specifics please just ask below and I will try my best to help!
Thank you all for taking part – hope you enjoyed it and hope you find some interest in the results!
Please note – This information is not a representation of the entire Overwatch community/player base, but is a somewhat good indication of the users who frequent this Sub. Even so, there 10,000 responses while there are over a million subscribers so take the information with a grain of salt. Make of the following information what you will!
Results are posted in order of most votes, second most, third most and least due to time constraints. I will post more later along with the actual raw data.
UPDATE: Sorry it took so long, but here is a spreadsheet of all 10,013 responses for whoever is interested. Again guys, thanks for taking part! Link: https://goo.gl/JQgR54
Gender
Age
Region
Purchased Overwatch:
Platforms:
Statements on Sexism/Racism/Homophobia
Current Level
Most Played Hero
Favourite Hero
Class which needs a hero the most (even when Moira is considered)
Class least fun to play
Most played Game Mode
Most popular Skill Rating
Favourite Arcade Mode
Would you consider playing Arcade even after you get all your loot boxes?
Favourite Assault Map
Favourite Hybrid Map
Favourite Escort Map
Favourite Control Map
Favourite Arcade Map
Favourite Event
Loot Boxes Purchase Frequency
Loot Boxes average spend per transaction
Overwatch Improved in Year 2?
Overwatch community improved in Year 2?
Season Length - too long?
Would you like a Clan System?
More options to spend Competitive Points on?
Is content released at a reasonable pace?
Would you consider paying for an expansion including an array of maps, characters, cosmetics, game modes or Story?
Would you like to see an Overwatch animated mini-series/movie?
Would you like an Overwatch story mode?
Have you lost interest since purchasing?
Do you follow Overwatch ESports
Console players, do you want a PTR?
Top 3 most recommended features – excluding Clans & Story Mode
Feature Most Needed right now?
submitted by apagandolasluces to Overwatch [link] [comments]

The road to Brexit - a personal journey

Brexit. How did it come to this? As someone who was conflicted about the vote and who attempted to weigh up the arguments rationally, I would like to offer to the readers of reddit, a personal story of how my thinking evolved in the lead up to the vote, how I voted, and how my thoughts have developed since then.
Rather than post a one-sided polemic, justifying a particular view, I want here to present my thoughts as accurately as I can describe them, including nuances and doubts along the way. That probably means I'll end up getting criticism from both sides - but perhaps some people might be interested and appreciate it. So, here goes...
About Me
Demographic information: white male, 40s. Rural working class by family background; middle class by education and profession.
Voting affiliation: usually Conservative; formerly Liberal Democrat.
Background
I was never enthusiastic about the idea of the European Union, but rather saw it as a means to ensure trade and co-operation on a practical level. Certainly if you'd asked me 10 years ago, I would have argued that it's better to stay in to try to influence it for the better. But over the years, I had become less certain of this view, due to seemingly one-way ever-increasing centralization in the EU, towards something more akin to the United States. Actually worse, as I can foresee the EU taking more power from member states than does the US federal government, in some areas this is already the case in fact. At least the US has the 10th Amendment. But despite this strong skepticism of the EU institutions, I've always seen the other European countries as friendly, important allies, and want to see good trading, personal and cultural relationships across the continent of Europe. Therein lies my conflict.
Influencing factors
  1. The Euro. A single currency for the whole of Europe! What could possibly go wrong? As we know, plenty did go wrong. Perhaps this was the first indicator that something was seriously wrong at the heart of the EU project. It seemed to confirm a suspicion: that the philosophy of centralization and political integration was more important than practical economics. A generation of EU politicians, who so believed in the project, seemed to have allowed their utopian vision to override practical, pragmatic considerations. Furthermore, as the EU gets ever increasing powers, it will inevitably be run more in the interests of Euro members. As a non-Euro member, the UK would be particularly exposed to being forced into things against its national interest.
  2. Government by continent. I am in favour of international trade and co-operation. But I really don't see why this has to be done to such a large extent at continent level. The idea of the EU seems to be predicated on having strong border on the outside and you're either in it or out of it. Sure, on a practical level, there may be some need for some Europe-wide institutions, and there are plenty of EU agencies that I'd be happy to part of. But for me the EU goes way beyond what is necessary or desirable. My preferred model would be less tied to continental masses. Especially when it comes to western democracies: I see no reason why links with Canada or Australia must necessarily be lesser than those with European countries. I am also skeptical of the need or benefit of a "European identity" that is distinct from people in other continents. Like how UKIP supporters are sometimes branded "little Englanders", I think that fanatical EU supporters can equally be branded "little Europeaners".
  3. Localism. I am in favour of the decisions in general being taken and the most local level that makes practical sense. Indeed, the UK itself is too centralized too, and I would welcome more powers for cities and counties. Despite any claims to the contrary, the EU can and does make laws on things that could easily be left with member sates. The mantra is harmonisation, but that might be just another way of saying centralized control. Some things will necessarily require international bodies to decide upon, but where this is necessary, in many cases it might make more sense to have global bodies rather than continental ones.
  4. The votes for prisoners judgement by the ECHR. It might seem esoteric - and before people jump in to say it: yes I know the ECHR is not an EU institution. But there was a lesson to be learned here, so let me explain. This was an outrageous decision and an affront to democracy. I was disgusted. Not just at the decision, which was offensive enough, but at the fact that there was apparently nothing that could be done about it. A court had ruled it, so that was that. In my view, the UK should have immediately left the ECHR in protest at this decision. Don't get me wrong, I am in favour of human rights law, and would happily subscribe to the basic text of European Convention on Human Rights. But what we had here was unaccountable judges overstepping their remit into areas of political policy, without being subject to democratic accountability: If it had been a UK judge, at least the Parliament could subsequently change the law. What this case showed to me, more than anything, was the absolute and critical importance of sovereignty and democratic accountability in a political system. While the ECHR might be relatively easily ignored for now, clearly this represents a danger: future outrageous judgements, perhaps next time by the ECJ, would be binding. So while not directly an EU issue, this case for me was critical in developing my thinking about questions of sovereignty.
  5. The awkward UK. It always seems to be that we are the ones that are holding things in the EU back. Personally, I can't really understand why other countries seem happy to subordinate themselves. But if that's what they want, maybe we should just get out of the way and let them get on with it. On the other hand, by staying in, perhaps we could find common cause with others to offer a different vision for Europe - one that is more strictly limited to the practical needs of co-operation over trade.
The lead up to the vote
When the referendum was announced, I wasn't clear how I would vote. I decided I would wait and see what David Cameron came back with after negotiating a so-called "reformed EU" package. Sadly, the answer was not much. Even in the face of one if its biggest members and contributors having serious doubts about even remaining a member, the inflexibility and zeal from the EU was undiminished. They were willing to call our bluff.
I listened to the debates. Both campaigns in truth were awful. Whether it was the £350 million we send to the EU, or the £4300 a year worse off, there were stupid statistics being thrown around on both sides. The one thing that cut through was the "take back control" message. The reason this resonated, in my view, was that is crystallised in a neat phrase the pre-existing concerns over the sovereignty question.
Apart from the fears that the economy would be worsened if we left, I don't remember a single convincing pro-EU argument being made from the Remain side. It might be have been put: "Vote Remain - the EU is a necessary evil"!
If we were to Leave, I could see, there would be short term uncertainty and turmoil, and it would give the politicians on both sides of the channel a big headache. On the other hand, if we were to Remain, the forces in favour of centralizing the EU would see it as tacit approval for their plans. Still, leaving outright felt too extreme to me, too drastic. I was also put off by some of the more strident anti-immigration messages that were coming from certain Leave extremists, but there were plenty of mainstream politicians arguing what seemed to be a reasonable case for Leave (and I'm not counting Boris in that list). I found myself wishing there were another other alternative, a middle ground. But, it was a binary choice, so I had to pick a side.
What should I do? In the end, I couldn't see how I could vote for doing nothing, which is what a Remain vote would be. A message had to be sent. Even if, as the polls were saying, Remain would win, a very close result might at least act as a warning.
The day of the vote
With some mixed feelings, I voted Leave.
The immediate aftermath
Watched the results coming in with some surprise, to say the least! Did I feel happy or joyful that my "side" had won? No, not really. I felt trepidation. Had I done the right thing? In truth, I wasn't sure. But, had I voted Remain and that side had won, I'm sure I would have felt a different set of anxieties - the consequence of having a vote where neither option is entirely satisfactory. The trouble with being on the winning side, is you are then partly responsible for what follows. There is a certain joyful freedom about being on the losing side - you can take the moral high ground at anything that goes wrong subsequently. Still, I did have a sense of optimism that despite the initial upheaval, a new beginning where the country reconnects more directly to the wider world was possible.
Events since the vote
There have been two events since the referendum that have caused me to question my vote:
  1. Calling the 2017 general election. I am completely with Brenda from Bristol here. Having triggered Article 50, you would think the government would have been fully concentrating on the exit process and preparing a sensible new arrangement. But no, instead Mrs May decides to put selfish party advantage before that of the country. Although I was angry about that, I still voted Conservative, as the best hope for a decent Brexit deal.
  2. The election of Donald Trump. What a disaster: America first, protectionism, and anti-free trade. My Leave vote had been in large part to have more global links and co-operation, but now this vision seemed a lot less likely. Leave and Trump voters are often mentioned in the same sentence, but my definition of Leave is virtually the complete opposite of Trump's policies.
Current state of play
So how do I feel now? I still hope that a decent deal can be found that maximises trade and co-operation, but at a level that the UK as a whole feels comfortable with, both Leave and Remain voters. However I have my doubts, the referendum has opened up a cultural division that I don't see disappearing even after Brexit is complete. The whole country is still polarized as ever, and the issue has now become a matter of political identity - something I regret.
Unsurprisingly, the EU institutions are intransigent and inflexible as ever, so getting a decent deal is not going to be easy. Does that mean Brexit should be cancelled and revert to the status quo? I don't see how that can happen either, the mistrust and negative feeling toward the EU institutions has only grown, and I wouldn't feel optimistic about that option either - the issues outlined above with the EU would still be there if we remained in on the same terms.
In summary, I still have some hope that Leave will turn out to be the best long-term option, given the unfortunate binary nature of the vote, but wish a different solution could have been found - a genuinely reformed EU - that would have avoided having the vote in the first place, and potentially have been a more satisfactory outcome all round.
Phew, that about sums it all up. Thanks for reading this long post.
Edit: Some have asked me about the future arrangement and what kind of deal I think there should be, so I'm going to add a new section:
Future
I support the ongoing negotiations, and subscribe neither to the "relax, everything will be great" blind optimism of some Brexiteers, nor the "everything will be disaster, cancel it at once" cries of some Remainers. I think in the end, if a sensible compromise is found, it'll probably be less of a big deal than people are expecting. People will adapt to the new system and carry on as normal.
As a mere layperson I can't say exactly what I think the deal should be, but my desire for us to be more interconnected directly with the wider world necessitates leaving the customs union - otherwise, there isn't really any point in Brexit at all! I am open to exploring EFTA-style arrangements though if they can be made fair to both sides.
The atmosphere is tense at the moment but I think we all need to take a breath, remain calm, and hold our nerve, and then assess the final deal (both economic and sovereignty-wise) once negotiations are complete.
submitted by shieldofsteel to ukpolitics [link] [comments]

MAME 0.207

MAME 0.207

It’s almost the end of February, and more importantly it’s time for MAME 0.207 to be released! We’ve added two Nintendo Game & Watch titles this month: Fire (wide screen) and Snoopy Tennis. If you’re at all interested in plug-and-play TV games, this is going to be a huge update, with all the newly-supported JAKKS Pacific titles, including Disney Princess, Dragon Ball Z, Nicktoons, Spider-Man, and Wheel of Fortune, as well as a number of matching Game-Keys. The other big batch of additions this month comes in the form of a whole lot of e-kara cartridge dumps from Japan. For younger players, we’re steadily filling out the V.Smile software list, with eighteen newly supported titles. The VGM software list has been updated with the latest video game music rips, and we’ve added some more original floppy dumps and clean cracks to the Apple II software lists.
With the latest improvements to the MIPS R4000 CPU, WD33C93 SCSI and SGI Newport graphics emulation, it’s possible to install and run IRIX in MAME. This is a milestone achievement, and wouldn’t have been possible without some amazing dedication and collaboration on the part of the contributors and team members involved. With the addition of graphics and mouse support, Windows 1.0 runs on MAME’s Tandy 2000 emulation. MAME continues to add additional variants of supported systems, including the HP 9825T and the Esselte Modulab educational system.
Newly supported arcade games include an earlier prototype of Rise of the Robots, bootlegs of Ghost Chaser Densei and The Glob, and additional versions of Raiden Fighters 2, Guardian Storm, Pasha Pasha Champ, Lethal Enforcers, and X-Men. General usability improvements include friendlier Apple II disassembly, the restoration of key map support in SDL builds (Linux/macOS), and better initial window positioning on Windows.
You can get the source and Windows binary packages from the download page.

MAMETesters Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

Software list items promoted to working

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

Translations added or modified

Source Changes

submitted by cuavas to emulation [link] [comments]

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