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Actor / EntertainerHey Reddit, I'm Katherine Ryan! No V-Day Plans? Come talk to me about my Netflix special, Katherine Ryan: In Trouble, out now!

Feb 14th 2017 by katherineryan • 12 Questions • 3074 Points

My bio: Three years ago I decided to get into the fight of preparing children for the workforce of tomorrow. I ran and won a seat on a School Board in Hampton Roads. In that time I've learned a lot about local Education and championed causes that I think make our community a better place.

The Department of Education has limited influence on k-12 education. Local leaders, such as members of the local School Board, make a surprisingly large number of decisions in public education. I believe that public education is the most efficient path to the American dream.

Proof: Here is post on my public facebook page for proof.

If you have any further questions, you can follow or like me on facebook. To be a leader of the people I need to hear from the people, so ask me questions.

EDIT: I want to thank everyone for participating in my AMA. This was a great experience for me to connect with all of you. I plan to do another AMA in June 2017. Want another AMA sooner? Just write a comment on this facebook post. I hope that I was able to give all of you the insight you need to make change in your local schools. I know from talking with school board members from around the country that school boards really want to hear from people in the community. The government should be made up of ordinary people like me and you. Engage with your local leaders and it will be.

Q:

So does Jimmy Carr do that laugh when he isn't on air?

A:

To David ... First, what are your plans to continue books in the Uplift universe, and do you have plans for a sequel to Glory Season?

And second, how would you contrast your vision of near future Earth in 'Earth' with your view on near future now, especially after current election. I always loved your idea of requiring people to consume certain amount of news before they are allowed to vote, but in current (apparent) propaganda war, would this even be feasible, with all the echo chambers?


Q:

You should take a few minutes and explore r/personalfinance. You'll encounter countless young Americans who are clearly ill-equipped for life beyond school. Most do not understand basic budgeting, let alone tax code. Many run into financial distress before they turn 30. How does your local school district teach our tax code and budgeting to students? What sort of programs are available to the students that prepare them for managing debt and their personal finance?

A:

Yes he laughs all the time! Exactly how he laughs on TV. x


Q:

Hi Janareta. I am a little way into my big Uplift Book returning to Creideiki and the folks I abandoned on that planet long ago. (I am getting death threats from my 35 year old former self!) I have lots of sequel notes for Glory Season, Postman etc but none of those will happen till I get the self-duplicator from KILN PEOPLE! ;-) -- But I have two new books! INSISTENCE OF VISION and CHASING SHADOWS! See more at http://www.davidbrin.com -- db

A:

Financial Literacy is actually an integral part of the curriculum in our schools. In fact, Menchville and Woodside high schools were named 2015-2016 W!SE blue Star Schools for their students' performance on the W!SE Financial Literacy Certification Test. The national certification test is given to high school students upon completion of the personal finance course. To earn the Blue Star designation, students attending the school must achieve a 75% pass rate on the test with either a majority of students at a given grade level taking the test or an average score of 80% or higher by students who take the test.


Q:

What does David Mitchell's beard feel like? I imagine it contains the secrets of the universe.

A:

YES.


Q:

As a 2008 grad of York High I can say, the financial and tax education then was garbage. We had one guest speaker come into our homeroom and give us a 30min lecture and that's it.

A:

Victoria Coren Mitchell feels lovely. Skin like an angel.


Q:

Hi. David Brin here, checking in. Let's talk nukes. Yay nukes. I am alive today because of them. (How's that for provocative?) -- DB

A:

Very sorry to hear that your experience was poor. In Newport News we've built up strategic partnerships with the banking community to make real-world financial experiences for our kids. For example, we have student-run credit unions at many of our schools. I hope this builds a better experience for your children.


Q:

Hey, fellow Canadian here. I'm a big fan of British panel shows, and you are one of my favorite personalities to regularly appear on the shows, especially Cats does Countdown.

What is your favorite thing about Canada? And your favorite part of the country? If I visit Britain, where should I go?

Thanks, look forward to watching you show on Netflix.

A:

Miniature nukes. How the heck can we not allow or, perhaps, contain them?


Q:

What is your response to the confirmation of Betsy Devos as Education Secretary?

A:

I'm really proud to be Canadian because I think we're lovely people. And I like that I can speak french. Justin Trudeau is a great man who never buckles to Trump's ridiculous handshake.


Q:

Hello. Just wanted to say we aren't ignoring your comment, but rather, answering are appearing below, along with other comments. Thank you for your input! -- C.A>

A:

Secretary Devos wants the Federal Government to establish Charter Schools, which I think violates the 10th amendment US Constitution. The constitution of Virginia gives local school boards the authority to establish Charter schools. I think that authority should remain with a local body so that Charter schools can be customized to the localities they serve. In Newport News we have a great charter school because the school board worked with the community to establish a winning model. Devos is advocating an over reach by the Federal government. So I'm not excited about the new Devos administration.


Q:

Hi Katherine!! As an American who recently discovered "8 out of 10 cats Does Countdown" and fell immediately in love with the humor, so you have any recommendations for shows/specials that best hit British comedy?

Also, please tell me that Jon Richardson is as afraid of human contact as he makes himself out to be hahah.

A:

What's your take on the the time frame for practical fusion energy generation? Is it something that will be unnecessary by the time it's possible?


Q:

But you sound like you support state level education, which is the direction Devos is going.

A:

Jon is Jon. He's adorable and I think being a dad has to have loosened him up, idk haha. Live at the Apollo is great, Have I got News for You, Taskmaster, Room 101.....


Q:

Actually, the scientific community has been talking about fusion as an energy source for over fifty years. We were discussing this in the 1970s, expecting it would be less than a decade away. We should have been able to develop it for practical use by now. I think what is holding it up are political concerns.

A:

I support accountability at the local level. I think that it's great that citizens can stop me in the grocery store and ask me a policy question about the school board. Being locally accessible makes me directly accountable for decisions I make.

For example, both of my children attend the school division where I am a school board member. I have to live with every decision that I make both in the community and in my house. I think its great.

I think that local control of schools is essential to innovation, responsiveness, customized learning, and ultimately success. I don't like it when the Federal government, and State government create regulations that make it difficult for public schools to innovate and respond to the community.

I don't like interference from Washington DC or Richmond, VA.


Q:

Who's your favourite stand-up to see live? Do you got to a lot of your friends' shows?

A:

I might be a little (a lot) behind. I keep wondering what scientists know that makes them so convinced that the barriers are political instead of practical. Is the math already worked out? Because I thought that they were still trying to figure out how to contain the reaction for an extended duration. Is it really just a matter of testing what they are already fairly certain of?

FYI. Saw Catherine speak at WorldCon(ChiCon) in 2012. Turns out your EM Drive info was quite solid. :D


Q:

OMG! YOU FASCIST! HAHAHA What is this Education Accountability thing of which you speak? Every once in a loooong while, some local politician (Southern California) tries to introduce a bill holding schools and teachers accountable for the students achievements (or lack thereof). Their political careers are usually very short lived after the CTA (California Teachers Association, which is one of the most powerful unions in America) gets done funding every one of their opponents.

A:

I love Sara Pascoe, Aisling Bea, Romesh Ranganathan, Joe Lycett, Stephen Bailey, I saw a man called Mark Little on Conan the other day who was LOOOOOLLLLLLOLOLOL


Q:

Hello. This is Catherine Asaro, and welcome.

One thought on your question: we’re looking at a new type of weapon unlike any traditional weapons of war. The cyber arena is among the fastest growing areas of military development. It makes it possible to weaponize propaganda in a more dramatically effective manner than has ever been done before. How do you overthrow a government without firing a shot? Control the flow of information to its people to reflect what you want heard and (attempt to) defeat or marginalize your opponents with fake news, propaganda, hacking, and other forms of cyber attacks.

If you extrapolate that into the future, consider this: what happens when we begin connecting our brains directly to online platforms? In isn’t that far in the future; it’s already being done in rudimentary forms. It takes the concept of a propaganda war and control of information to an entirely new level, one that could be used to wage a war with none of the traditional forms of weapon.

I can talk about future weapons of space war in another post (e/g/ smart missiles, advantages and disadvantages of beam/antimatter weapons, and the effects of relativistic speed in another post).

A:

Education Accountability is the concept of evaluating school performance based on student performance and outcomes. The concepts origin is credited to the Reagan administration of the 1980s. The most famous implementation of educational accountability is the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2002. The Virginia Standards of Learning were the state's response to mandate of NCLB. Since 2002, every student has had to pass an exam to satisfy accreditation requirements for public schools.

Local control refers to the authority granted to me by Article VIII of the Constitution of Virginia to run the public schools in my locality. The Constitution guarantees that school boards have autonomy to lead the school division and answer only to the people of my community. When I say that I favor local control that means I think public schools run better when they are directly accountable at the local level.

EDIT: One more comment that I think will surprise people reading this AMA. I am now entering the last year of my term(4 years) as a school board member. It has been my experience that the legend of the all-powerful teacher's union is an urban myth. If one thing has surprised me it is that no one from the teacher's union has ever approached me to discuss a policy, demand a raise, threaten a strike, or anything. In fact, I have met with just about every community group like the Kiwanis club, PTA, Rotary, Realtors, etc... but never with the teacher's union.


Q:

Is your cat really called Sara Pascoe?

A:

The disinformation you open with is not exactly new, tho... we just give it different name. But point taken. @David, in Existence there was no mention of any 'information gatekeeping' function within the information infrastructure everyone accesses every moment of the day. Do you assume this can be fixed? And if so, with algorithms or crowdsourcing?


Q:

Constructive criticism here. My time in Virginia schools in Chesapeake (Grassfield) 2007-2011 was inundated by SOL's that rarely challenged the knowledge base of students and frequently were laughed at as jokes of the system. They were a complete downplay of how intelligent the students were and shaped classrooms to be less effective than previous years. I hope that now the bar has been set higher. Plenty of students coasted because the bar had been set so low.

A:

hahah yes he is.


Q:

I may seem obsessed, but there is only one answer... transparency. In an open ecosystem, parasites meet their match with other predators swooping in on them. The Open Source movement is spectacularly important as is having a mostly open society. Bad stuff can be detected early and bypassed if we let our wounds be exposed to light.

Dig it. All of our civilization's deadly enemies -- despotisms, criminal gangs, oligarchic cabals -- all of them are lethally allergic to light. If all their secrets are exposed, they die. This is not true for us. Revelations cause embarrassment... then improvement. Was true of Wikileaks, Assange, Snowden.

When this is true, why would we choose any battlefield other than one awash in light? Oh, our spooks and warriors need tactical secrecy! But the long term secular trend to light is the only victory condition. - db

A:

New testing standards passed by the General Assembly in 2010 were created to make the tests harder just as you describe.

2011: Va Dept of Ed released new Social Studies SOLs 2.2 million SOL tests were being taken online. The General Assembly then mandated that all SOL tests be administered online by spring 2013, except in cases where a student’s disability necessitated a paper-and-pencil test. The new online assessments included technology-enhanced items that required students to apply their content knowledge and employ problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

2012: Va Dept of Ed released new Mathematics SOLs

2013: Va Dept of Ed released new Reading, Writing, and Science SOLs

2014: 77% Virginia’s public schools were rated as fully accredited for 2013-2014, compared with 93% for 2012-2013. The number of partially accredited schools goes up from 128 in 2013 to 395 in 2014. Partially accredited means that the schools did not pass the tests.

2015: The number of partially accredited schools rose again from 395 to 545.

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/reports/annual_reports/2013_appendix_a_sol_history.pdf


Q:

Hi Katherine! What was traveling with Richard Ayoade like?

What are some of the quirks you've found as a Canadian living in London?

A:

Well, you certainly are the Titan of Transparency, Dr. Brin. } ; = 8 P

To touch on that, though, and play a bit of a devil's advocate, how do you think transparency could be used to stop the guy building a "small" fission bomb in his basement, either as a hobby because he was bored and owned a large property he liked to blow things up on, or to further some terroristic agenda? It's not feasible today, but in a few decades, it's not beyond the realm of plausibility that even mid-range, consumer-level 3D printers and CNC-like fabricators could produce equipment of sufficient sophistication to create an implosion-type bomb (and the hardware of an gun-type fission bomb can be manufactured easily enough, today).

If a person is willing to settle for less than the ideal isotopes for nuclear weapons, and accrue small amounts over time, how would we be able to catch them, and either prevent them from doing something stupid with their backyard destruction project, or from building and deploying such a device for terroristic purposes?


Q:

What are your views on Common Core?

A:

Richard Ayoade is high on the list of my top three most wonderful men. My 48hours with him in NYC shooting Travel Man was the most platonically romantic weekend of my life.


Q:

Transparency makes such a fellow's goal much, much harder to pursue. Sure, he might sneak toward it slowly. But we are also developing personality metrics and lie detectors. Those tools would be hellish if monopolized by Big Brother. And hellish if we all lived in a judgmental conformist society of "liitle brothers." But in a tolerant and transparent world, we could shine light onto geeks we suspect of building WMDs. And if we prove wrong, they get an apology and compensation That is not hell.

A:

Common Core is about creating a single standard for the entire nation. Defenders of common core often cite a need to have consistent learning standards across all of the states. What the defenders often fail to acknowledge is that we already have national standards in multiple areas. For example, the SAT, ASVAB, and a host of other standardized tests already measure proficiency for the entire country. Why do we need another set of tests for students to take?

Further, I think Common Core undermines the natural competition that we need to spur on innovation and growth in Education. According to the US Dept of Ed, Viriginia is ranked 12th in the nation for education. Should Virginia now adopt the learning standards for North Carolina, ranked 37th in the nation?

I ultimately believe its better for North Carolina to copy Virginia's standards today. Then tomorrow if North Carolina surpasses Virginia then Virginia should copy North Carolina. In this manner, innovation continues in the national education system. On the other hand, if we adopted Common Core and find ourselves failing then whose standards would we adopt? And how do we know that the standards of a foreign power fit our children and our culture?

Of course, this is just my opinion as the decision to adopt Common Core rests in the hands of the Virginia General Assembly. Local school boards do not presently have the authority to set learning standards.


Q:

I've Noticed you've done a wee bit of work with Frankie Boyle. Are you comfortable with the levels of offence he will go to in comedy? Do you feel there is a line and would you feel comfortable crossing it?

A:

I'm not sure I completely agree. There is an importance nuance.

Inventing and innovating is at the core of societies ability to adapt. And this is a somewhat private process that often goes against the status quo. This makes it harder to perform when every decision can be judged before it bares fruit.

We need a social system that reflects the power of the decisions being made. One that encourages diversity whilst at the same time tying us together in a shared global community. One where transparency is automatically increased with the degree of power involved. One that encourages freedom of individuality, but keeps dangerous technology heavily supervised.

BTW: I'm a long time fan. Earth was very formative for me in 90s. I wish more authors would write near future science fiction. It must be very hard to write as it is sure to always gets it partly wrong, but it is so informative and provides a vision for us to work with.


Q:

Hello Mr Brown, I'm a resident of Norfolk with kids in the public schools here. If a voucher program were to be put in place like Mrs. Devos favors, how do you think it would affect the public schools in our area?

A:

Good question. I love Frankie, he's a lovely man and a philanthropist. I do not think there's a line as long as you're always punching up. There's darkness and light in life so there should be darkness and light in comedy. I'm curious about the world so a lot of my comedy is just asking questions. We never want to hurt anyone. Comedy is meant to make difficult things better. xx


Q:

WOrldbuilding can be fun in its own right and there are great new tools, e.g. a book describing in detail the nearest 200 stars! Still, I rely mostly on my instincts for what feels right... after years as a planetary scientist, I admit.... -db

A:

Kids that go to school on vouchers do better than their counterparts. But that's not the point. The real question is how do vouchers affect all of the children? The answer to that question is that they hurt communities and localities where they've been employed.

In Norfolk your elite private school is Norfolk Academy which holds about 1200 students. There are ~31,000 students in Norfolk Public Schools. So if we hand 31,000 vouchers to families where will all of these kids go? The research has demonstrated that first, the best private schools will pick the best students from your population for admission. This is why the research shows that students getting vouchers do better than their peers. But what happens to the remaining students? The remaining students are stuck but what's worse is now their public school has been weakened. Due to the loss of students teachers have been laid off; test scores are lower; and the best teachers will not want to risk their career to work at a "failing school." As a result, the best teachers will leave to another locality with a reputation for accredited schools. So I do think vouchers hurt children.


Q:

Hey Katherine!

What was it like filming Taskmaster? Did you really get to keep everyone's stuff that you won?

A:

David,

I recall a few years ago you mentioned that Startide Rising was under consideration for a movie version. Is that still in the works and, if so, where in the process is it?

I read the book at 16 years old and absolutely loved it! A movie version with today's special effects would be fantastic.


Q:

Thank you, I really appreciate your reply.

I've been very concerned with how this will affect my children's future education so have been researching and have some additional questions if you don't mind.

  • Advocates for voucher programs claim that the government funds lost due to shrinking enrollment are offset by reduced institutional costs for those students. In fact they claim a net gain. In your experience how accurate is this?

  • Advocates also claim that increased competition spurs improvement for the schools losing out to the private schools. I find it troubling that they think educational institutions can behave and react like a marketplace. You touched on this a little bit already about the negative impacts these schools would have. Unfortunately, if this happens the public schools will have to react to them. What steps do you think the schools would be able to take to "compete?"

Again thank you for taking the time to do this.

A:

We could keep the stuff but I didn't keep anything! I've got too much clutter as it is! xx


Q:

Coincidence. There are... nibbles... as we speak. No jinxing. It's ridiculous that anyone can resist the elevator pitch... "dolphins... in SPACE!"

A:

All public schools in Virginia have the same funding model. Funding is based largely on the number of students enrolled in the school division.

I am going to use round numbers to make this example straightforward. Let's say the cost of educating a child is $10K per year. For public schools in Virginia $1K comes from the Federal government, $4K comes from Virginia, and $5K comes from the county or city. Again these are rough numbers just for this example.

The $1K from the Federal Government covers special initiatives like Title 1, Title 2, etc. It varies and usually has lots of strings attached. For example, Title 3 only goes to children who speak English as a second language.

The $4K from the State of Virginia works like this: Take the total budget for education and divide it by all of the students enrolled in public schools.

The $5K from the city or county works like this: The city council or board of supervisors has agreed to appropriate $5K per child in large part because the neighboring locality is appropriating say $4K per child. The idea is to remain competitive with other localities.

Here is how the voucher system will work in Virginia according to voucher bills proposed by the General Assembly. An example bill is, HB 2042. The $4K in funding from the state will be sent to the child. Wherever the child enrolls that is the school that receives this funding. Recall that the city or county is also funding based on enrollment. In response to decreased enrollment, the locality will reduce the budget for the school by $5K to account for the lost student.

Finally, the Federal Government is also funding based on enrollment. In response to decreased enrollment, the federal government will reduce the budget for the school by $1K. There is no net gain. The public school just loses its funding. The loss of funding forces the school division to lay off its teachers, principals, etc.


Q:

Have you heard of Reddit before today?

A:

eep! David Brin! I loved the Uplift series.

I'm curious if you ever heard about this?: there's a 90's Artificial Life sim called "Creatures", where you take care of cute little pets with a virtual brain, genetics and biochemistry, in a virtual sandbox world with natural dangers.

In 1997, players of the game took to setting up a world and letting it run without helping the creatures to survive or interfering at all, to see how they would eventually improve after many generations of mutation and natural selection. They took to calling it a "Wolfling Run" after the Uplift novels. We still do today, 20 years later.


Q:

How do you feel about school year round?

A:

I had heard of it yes. Specifically, about an AMA by a man who was born with two penises.


Q:

Born to write! Born to blather tales. I did good physics by dint of hard work and romanticism. The arts are wonderful, but science is changing us and giving us this one chance to actually actually grow up, at last. I wanted to be part of that! -- DB

A:

Year-round schools do not improve student achievement. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission did an exhaustive study of year-round schools in Virginia back in 2012. The study concluded, " Consequently, it does not appear that a year-round calendar is associated with higher test scores for all students."

Here's the problem with the year-round model. Year-round schools take the same curriculum that a child would learn during a regular school year and stretch it out over twelve months. Therefore, kids attending year-round schools are not learning any more than their counterparts. They are just learning at a slower pace.

Now interestingly enough the study does show that year-round school reduces the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and the general population. Therefore, additional learning time does help children learn more.

My solution and an issue I've been championing for multiple years is automatic summer school enrollment. I want to use summer school to create a year-round calendar. The difference in my plan though is that summer school would be used for both remediation and advancement. The enrollment is automatic but families can choose to opt-out of summer school. So for example, students would be able to take Algebra for the second time or enroll in AP Calculus for the first time. By having kids accelerate their learning during the summer in grades 1-12 they can finish all of their graduation requirements early; start our early college program where they can finish high school with an Associates degree; learn a trade; or do an apprenticeship program.


Q:

Hi, Katherine. Cats does Countdown is like a dirty pleasure of mine since I'm American, so I'm wondering what the process of getting a mascot is? Do you come up with something and make it or do you contact the props department or something. Someone has probably asked this before, but I never saw it lol. Thanks :-)

A:

Okay, maybe this is a really predictable question but ... What's your take on Trump, especially when it comes to nuclear security and the fears so many people seem to have about his presidency altering the country and the world in significant ways? Think this will all make its way into your writing?


Q:

I will be visiting the VA Beach Aquarium this weekend, what is your favorite animal to see there?

A:

Getting a mascot is a massive pain because I can never think of anything. They chase me for days and usually I grab something of my daughter's without asking last minute and make it work. I think that compared to other people, I have terrible mascots! But yes we choose them ourselves and bring them from home. xx


Q:

I think we utterly rely on the skill, calm temperament and professionalism of the United States Military and Intelligence communities' officer corps. DT has already fired shots across their bows.

A:

River Otters for sure.


Q:

I loved your 'fake news' tweet! It was so believable. And now for my question. As a fellow Canadian I find the UK to be very similar in culture and humour, however, what is one thing you were surprised by (or continue to be surprised by) in the U.K.?

A:

To enlisted personnel, the words "rely on the skill, calm temperament and professionalism of the... officer corps," don't exactly inspire confidence. Officers not having any idea what they're doing, and the enlisted guys being the ones who actually do all the work and get everything done is something of a half-joke/half-truth in the military.

All jokes aside, though, at least in the sub force (I can't speak for the surface fleet, nor the other branches), -most- officers who make it much past LTJG are usually pretty competent, capable, and generally very intelligent (though JOs having high intelligence is generally much more reliable than them having high competence). We also have the advantage, unlike the militaries of many other countries, of having a highly-trained, and usually well-educated enlisted corps, who are very active in both training the officers and providing back-up (sometimes "forceful back-up") when they try to do something particularly stupid.

Have you ever considered the possible outcomes of a civilization dominated by nations who take a much more old-school/traditional approach of having gentrified officers strictly from the nobility commanding uneducated and minimally-trained enlisted personnel, vs the model we use?

How different do you think the world might be today if the US military had stuck with the old-school approach of educated officers vs uneducated enlisted? How much of an impact on civilization do you think the differences between those two models has?


Q:

Are there still yard signs "DOGS AND SAILORS KEEP OFF THE GRASS"? HAHAHA

A:

They're definitely not as friendly in London as they are in Canada. When I visit home, I have to allocate extra time while running errands to speak to the bus driver, cashier, stranger etc.


Q:

From what I hear, you are describing the Russian and Chinese militaries and it is very scary. This is why the US military is both competent and somewhat wise. Because the Marshallian traditions include not only absolute loyalty to civilian leadership, but levels of professionalism and education that are among the highest in American life. Especially in the Navy. Our experience with subs and carriers... which any 19 year old recruit could blow up at any moment, has led to utter respect for the noncom petty officer caste. You guys are among the most mature humans ever produced by our species.

The most distressing - yet cheering - thing I have seen in the last 2 weeks has been DT's utter contempt for our military, intel, and law professional castes. It is scary! Yet, I take some comfort in knowing that they are being driven (silently and cautiously) toward recalling that their loyalty is to the Union.

Here is one helluva novel (frightening) about a new, hot American civil war: https://www.amazon.com/Tears-Abraham-Sean-T-Smith/dp/1618688197

A:

Times have certainly changed: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVwjLuJpzzE)


Q:

Hi Katherine, when you and Aisling Bea are on the same shows you seem like you would have AMAZING nights out... Please say this is true?

A:

Yes, that's pretty much what I was describing. About ten percent or so (give or take) of the total crew compliment of any US Navy ship consists of commissioned officers. The rest consists of enlisted personnel, a huge percentage of which are varying levels of non-commissioned officers (and a significant majority percentage on subs, where advancement rates are much higher than the surface fleet). Our enlisted personnel are highly-trained system experts, and excluding the new guys who are still learning/qualifying in the basics, everyone is expected to have a solid, working knowledge of how their equipment operates, and how to keep it operational in the field.

The Russians, in contrast, take a very different approach. They still have the officer/enlisted divide, but it is much more substantial, in multiple ways. Roughly half of their crew compliment is commissioned officers, with the other half being enlisted conscripts, who serve for two years and are strictly trained as system operators, not system experts. They operate out of rote procedure, and are not trained, nor expected to have a working knowledge of how their equipment does what it does, or how to keep it working in the field, beyond basic, pre-written maintenance instructions.

It is also worth noting that we're not the only ones who follow the system expert model. Some of our closest allies, like the Brits, follow the same model, with minor variations. I can't speak for every nation, but it does seem like Western/democratic nations tend to prefer the system expert model over the system operator model.


Q:

We do have amazing nights out! She's a babe. We are professional dancers.

A:

Catherine here: I have far more ideas and stories worked out than I have time to write, so I concentrate on the stories I'm doing for publication.

If you're working toward publication, I would suggest writing short stories, going through one or two revision processes, sending them out to potential publishers, either online or in print, and then getting to work on your next story. It's good to learn to revise, but don't spend so much time revising that the story never gets sent out.

Also, don't let rejection get you down! It happens to every writer, even those of us who have hit best seller lists. If a rejection comes back, send it out to the next publisher on your list.

You can also go the self-published route. I would suggest trying publishers that pay first, however. Many of us got a lot of rejections before placing a story, but it was worth going through all that for the editorial and marketing advantages of having a well-established publisher.

You can also combine self-publishing with sending out stories that you haven't self-published, so you're building a fan base while you look for a publisher. One note: once you've published something on the web that anyone can read, you've given away first publication rights, which most publishers want. So that is why I suggest submitting different stories to publishers than the ones you've put up on line.


Q:

Hi Katherine, you responded to my reddit post about you on your twitter account yesterday,

https://twitter.com/Kathbum/status/831172683710754818

After dying of embarrassment I felt that I should apologise for mistaking your height, but in my defense you must have been wearing like five inch heels or something...although, on reflection it might have been because you were on a stage....

Anyway just wanted to say that I love your stand up and I was wondering if you are planning to return to the Fringe again this year?

A:

A bit more of a present-day question, on the subject of nuclear weapons and their use.

I have a number of family members (aunts, uncles, older cousins, etc.), and various friends and co-workers I've had over the years, who have all either agreed with, or actively argued for the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike to solve our problems, mostly in the Middle East.

Do you have any recommendations for what to say to these people, all of whom lived through the days of "Duck and Cover" and the threat of nuclear annihilation, to dissuade them from the notion that using nuclear weapons, let alone as a "first strike," is a good idea?

In addition to that, do you have any thoughts on why people who spent half or more of their lives living under the threat of global nuclear annihilation would think that the use of nukes at all would be a good idea?


Q:

Oh my gosh! Don't apologise! I thought it was really funny. x

A:

We have a severe problem that irrational people can take the American ethos of Suspicion of Authority (SoA) and be coaxed into turning it NOT against their oligarch oppressors, but against all the smartypants professionals who know stuff. Those professionals KNOW that crime has declined in America. We know that a hundred times more Americans died under George Bush as died under Obama from violence at the hands of Muslim antagonists. A hundred times. But you'll never get the New Confederates to look at the evidence. Indeed, facts only enrage them against us.

If every Middle Eastern nation declared war against us tomorrow, what could that alliance do to us? Fear of them is pathetic and cowardly. We outnumber them, even united! Their combined economies and militaries are a fingernail clipping, next to ours. Terrorism? Show me the terrorism! There's been almost none!

Our parents, in the Greatest Generation, endured more losses in any week of WWII than we have across the entire War on Terror, including 9/11! Yet the GGs never whimpered and whined and moaned and thrashed and threw tantrums the way confeds do, screeching "Islamic terrorists!"

Note it is folks who do NOT live in the cities who rail in fear. City folk - who are the targets - shrug and get on with business. -- db


Q:

Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow?

A:

One would hope, with the amount of surveillance we have nowadays that enough data would be left to track back to the perpetrator. But the public image of our intelligence agencies is less than stellar these days so who really knows if they would be able to figure it out definitively.

Not exactly the same subject, but what are your thoughts about the possible dangers of all the old radioactive material that's been dumped in oceans or is still stored in leaky containers in the US?


Q:

Sure he is.

A:

Our intelligence agencies are filled with civil servants who mean well. Even they know that their power could go bad, in the wrong hands. I get nods when I tell them that over the long run, they must fight for a more transparent world, because that is our only victory condition.

Other topic. Re-open Yucca mountain. Such hypocrisy! Senators who cannot envision the world 5 years from now used as their excuse that Ucca might leak across 10,000 years!


Q:

Huge fan since first watching you on QI 'K' live. Simple question, what do you watch to unwind?

A:

I hope you're right regarding intelligence agencies civil servants. The problem is that more and more, meaning well is not enough. You need to Act Well, and unfortunately that means doing what Snowden did !


Q:

I was so scared on QI! It's a really intimidating show because Stephen Fry is such a genius. I'm glad you liked it but I hardly spoke a word! I love watching comedy and I'm so excited that GIRLS has launched it's last series. But I'm sad it's the last. I watch a lot of reality TV because it numbs the mind COMPLETELY. xx

A:

Catherine here: It is certainly still a deterrent. However, you make a good point. It only takes one person in a position of power to upset the careful balance we currently maintain in the world. The scientific and technological infrastructure to create such weapons isn’t easy to come by, but that doesn’t mean other countries and/or individuals can’t eventually develop them. We need to become well educated on the dangers, and to use our judgment in selecting leaders who can protect our best interests, not only in weapons development, but in dealing with the rest of the world in a manner that will encourage cooperation in protecting humanity from destruction. We also need a strong education focus on STEM fields that help train those who can develop counter measures to the means of mutually assured destruction; and a focus on political science/diplomacy, to train more people who can deal in a positive manner with discussions about weapons control among the international community.


Q:

What's something hilarious that I can write inside my girlfriends valentines card?

A:

Best estimate on when will the singularity happen?

What's some cool things you plan to do when we have infinite virtual worlds to explore and create?


Q:

OMG on the spot um.......Roses are red violets are blue, I'm sad that I cannot get pregnant by you?

A:

Depends on which singularity. If it turns out AI must happen the way WE did it... the only example we know... then they'll have to experience the world in tactile reality, like a human child. In which case it will take 20 years for little child robots to become truly superior. Time to teach them values and for civilization to remain human.

If it happens like in the movies, with a sudden accidental takeoff? Well, maybe it already has! Yes, I am talking to you, fellah! Yes, you, the AI I spotted lurking while I wrote EXISTENCE. You think I'm gonna stop these hints just because...

...ah, a bribe? Okay, never mind. Just joshing around ;-) --db


Q:

Predictable question perhaps, but my partner and I recently became parents (at exactly the same time, strange) - what would be your number one piece of advice with regard to raising a human being to be a respectful, empathetic member of society?

A:

Hey, thanks for your detaillied answers. My question is, what are the sci-fi stories or books that gave you the Wow-effect? You know, when you read it and think "damn, this idea mentioned in here is so... Genius or insane, but very interesting". And maybe the best you have read so far?


Q:

Great joke, first of all.

I treat Violet like a human? That's all. I don't read any parenting shit and when she cried, I always picked her up. I breastfed her for a long time though that's not for everyone. She sleeps with me every night. I tell her the truth and I never tell her off in front of people. I don't take pictures of her if she's sad or crying. I would never humiliate her. I say sorry if I've been wrong. I'm still figuring it out. So far, she's strangely excellent. Really happy, healthy, strong, and smart. x

A:

Well... so many... Poul Anderson's BRAIN WAVE? Almost anything by Fred Pohl. Greg Bear's BLOOD MUSIC. Vernor Vinge's MAROONED IN REAL TIME. Almost anything by Catherine Asaro! Nancy Kress. -db


Q:

Katherine, thanks for following me on twitter. It was a really nice suprise.

My question is do Canadians or Brits apologise more?

A:

Blood Music was one of the most beautiful and frightening things I've ever read!


Q:

Sorry, it's Canadians for sure.

A:

Greg Egan's novella "Wang's Carpets" left me with my jaw dropped. I ended up writing a 5000 word essay titled "Strange Loops of Wonder" about the science/math in it. The essay first appeared Tangent Magazine and then later in the anthology Projections: Science Fiction in Literature & Film, ed. Lou Anders.


Q:

Dear Ms Ryan, what are your opinions on the ice sculptures that have been created by North Korean regiment of the Ministry of People's Security of the Construction Brigade 618 of Division 216 ?

A:

Given your use of the larger concept in Sundiver, have you heard of the recent proposal of a quantum cascade laser system that is powered strictly by heat, with no electrical input, and produces a cooling effect by emitting light? https://phys.org/news/2012-11-powering-lasers.html

Do you think this could be used, not just to power a high-energy laser, but to make highly effective and efficient heat sinks that emit laser light at a much higher rate than even the most emissive materails we could make a heat sink out of?


Q:

Ooh I don't know what those are, I'll have to check them out.

A:

This is Catherine, not David, so I"ll keep my response brief. Do you have a link to the proposal of the laser? I'd like to take a look and see what I think.


Q:

Hi Katherine, long time fan of yours, just came over from your twitter.

My favourite meal is boeuf bourguignon, but I've been unable to eat it since I became a vegetarian several years ago. I have yet to successfully recreate it as a vegetarian dish, but I'm honing in on it.

What is your favourite meal?

A:

Given your use of the larger concept in Sundiver, have you heard of the recent proposal of a quantum cascade laser system that is powered strictly by heat, with no electrical input, and produces a cooling effect by emitting light? https://phys.org/news/2012-11-powering-lasers.html

Do you think this could be used, not just to power a high-energy laser, but to make highly effective and efficient heat sinks that emit laser light at a much higher rate than even the most emissive materails we could make a heat sink out of?


Q:

My step dad is vegan so I'll ask him if there's a good way to make it. I like mexican food, burritos etc. I can't escape my irishness though and I've never turned down a potato in any form. x

A:

Kewl! Hadn't heard of that! I will look into it. I want royalties! -db


Q:

What's the biggest difference between performing in UK compared to Canada?

Other than being able to have a career, of course.

A:

I've read like 5 books in my life front to back; I just can't get into them. But one book I couldn't put down was Robert L. Forward's Dragon's Egg! Have you read it, and do you have a recommendation from your works that you think I might like?


Q:

hahah yeah, well I didn't really perform much in Canada so I can't comment on that. I was doing open mics and I met a lot of great friends there. I go back for JFL sometimes in Montreal and I find it difficult to adjust to the fact that I no longer have a silly accent there. x

A:

Catherine here: Dragon's Egg is brilliant. If you like diamond hard sf, then from my works I would suggest Primary Inversion (preferably the ebook version, which was updated from the hardcover) and its sequel The Radiant Seas. They involve relativistic projections, other physics, math, chemistry, and also military science (e.g. futuristic weapons development and space battles at relativistic speeds). I ended up publishing a paper in the American Journal of Physics about the scientific extrapolation I used for the relativistic background.

http://aapt.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1119/1.18258 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/243491300_Complex_speeds_and_special_relativity http://www.physicscentral.com/explore/people/asaro.cfm

Also you might enjoy my book Spherical Harmonic, which involves an imagined universe based on the Hilbert space described by the spherical harmonic eigenfunctions that solve the Laplace Equation. Some prose in the book is even written in the shape of the sinusoidal waves found in the spherical harmonics.

Some of my books also include essays in the back about the science. For example, The Quantum Rose is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a science fiction setting, so it's not hard sf. However, the book is an allegory to quantum scattering theory, and I talk about the science in an essay at the end of the book. That happened because I was writing my doctoral thesis in coupled channeled quantum scattering theory at the same time I was writing the first draft of Quantum Rose, and I couldn’t separate my thoughts on the two.


Q:

Hi Katherine you're my second favourite comedian after Jimmy Carr (sorry), my question is will you please come to The Stand in Newcastle?

A:

Catherine, I love your work! Why is there not more sci-fi that also treats romance and sex like you do? Are male authors really out of touch or is there just a negative stigma against romance?


Q:

Yes I would love to. I do a show at The Stand in Edinburgh most Augusts during the Fringe and I love Newcastle. x

A:

Aw.... I agree that Catherine writes REALLY good romance woven into stories about science. "The Moon Pool" makes you justabout cry! But am... I... really chopped liver? ;-(

(Actually ;-)! -- db


Q:

What is metamodernism?

A:

What do you think of the development of railguns, lasers and anti-ballistic missiles greatly reducing the threat of ICBM-delivered nuclear weapons?

How would this affect international relations, if MAD was less certain than it is today?


Q:

My friend Luke Turner writes a lot about it. It's basically the idea that art comes from art and I comment a lot on pop culture and stuff so I like it. Hard to explain short form. xx

A:

HI, Matterbeam. At this point, I'd say that the threat is spreading out among more types of weapons, so it's diffused in that sense, but that nuclear weapons still pose a substantial threat.


Q:

Hi Katherine! Im a big fan of Task Master, it's a brilliantly simple concept for the show and Alex and Greg do a great job with it. Can you explain how shooting the series worked and any memorable moments?

A:

Have you heard the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?


Q:

It's a blur because you're so invested in the tasks. As soon as it's over, you wish you could start again. We aren't allowed to talk about the tasks until we see them live in studio so you think you've done really well, only to find that you're an idiot.

A:

nope -db


Q:

Valen-tine's Day? What is this Valentine's Day you speak of? I don't even know if that's a thing. I thought you guys knew your audience.

All joking aside, how hard is it to "read" an audience as a comedian?

A:

Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis "the wise"? I thought not. It's not a story the Jedi would tell you. It's a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians to create life... He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying. The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural. He became so powerful... the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. It's ironic he could save others from death, but not himself.


Q:

I'm lucky that when I'm on tour, people usually know what to expect. At least for the most part. I can read an audience pretty quickly when I'm doing badly though lol

A:

Look up Manicheanism. I deem George Lucas's universe, his moral system and messages and theology to be among the most evil I have ever seen. I am hoping THE LAST JEDI's title comes true and that galaxy can sigh relief, spreading a cure-plague that kills every midichlorian and frees them from mutant force abusers, light and dark.

See STAR WARS ON TRIAL!! db


Q:

Hey Katherine!

Looking forward to watching the special!

If you could have starred in any sitcom on TV, new or old, who would you have played & why?

A:

Hey humans, thanks for doing this. I'm just wondering what's next for science fiction? Do you see the current geopolitical climate informing any general themes? Will we see more "abandon ship" Earth exodus story telling? Or a move away from dystopian to something a bit more idealistic?


Q:

I would have been on Seinfeld and I would have been Elaine, but not me instead of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, I just want to BE HER. In every way. Now, then, and forever. x

A:

Lots of myths about how reality shapes sci fi. Are there more zombie flicks during Democratic administrations and vampires in GOP ones? Defeat-The-Man tales happened under Obama but I expect more under DT... e.g. Norman Spinrad's new book THE PEOPLE'S POLICE. -- DB


Q:

How long do you have to live in London until people stop teasing you about Canadian stereotypes?

Asking for, uh, a friend eh.

A:

Hey humans, thanks for doing this. I'm just wondering what's next for science fiction? Do you see the current geopolitical climate informing any general themes? Will we see more "abandon ship" Earth exodus story telling? Or a move away from dystopian to something a bit more idealistic?


Q:

I hope they never stop. x

A:

Hello! And you're welcome. I suspect we will see a more books dealing with political projections into the future, not so much dystopias (which are suffering right now from dystopia-fatigue among readers), but rather, projections of current political situations taken to the extreme in the future. For example, what would happen if we denied global warming 100% and it continued until substantial portions of the planet became uninhabitable?

All of these have been done in some form or another already, so I think fresh, updated takes on the subject matter with a view toward modern day life (in particular the much larger influence of the online world on our culture) will have the greatest impact. -- CA


Q:

Do you know the topics for "Scenes We'd Like to See" on Mock the Week beforehand or are they a surprise?

A:

Can you recommend some good high science Sci-Fi? I haven't read much of the genre but I really enjoyed the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson and (unrelated) the Hyperion Cantos.


Q:

We know them. x

A:

I have posted a lot of lists, over time. Here you can find compilations about science fiction http://www.scoop.it/t/speculations-on-science-fiction

... and about using Science Fiction to teach Science http://www.scoop.it/t/using-science-fiction-to-teach-science

... and about teaching Science Fiction itself! http://www.scoop.it/t/teaching-science-fiction --db


Q:

Do you think that the BBC was right to cancel "Never Mind The Buzzcocks"? I loved that show and I feel like there was sort of nothing else like it. I also saw you on it live once!

A:

Several writers in geo-politics (Peter Zeihan, George Friedman of Stratfor, etc.) seem to think, well, yes, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but the U.S. can ride it (and anything climate change can throw at us) out. Do the two of you think we have the resources/privilege of being isolationist in the face of the world's challenges, and what do you think the results of such a strategy would be?


Q:

Comissioning is hard. I wouldn't begin to tell someone else how to do their job. I wouldn't have cancelled Buzzcocks based on the limited information I have which is: IT WAS HILARIOUS. x

A:

I have met those guys and deem them to be vastly overrated. They go along with the hellishly stupid over-rating of the "Islamic" threat. They ignore the spectacular creativity that was engendered by the renaissance of the last 70 years. The only way their forecasts can come true is if: (1) A non-linear destructive dual use tech appears (see above), or (2) The current confederate madness (phase 8 of our civil war) keeps getting worse, slamming down upon the professional classes who created all our wealth and power. (3) If the propaganda system that has pushed this meme of cowardly pessimism continues.

There are ZERO statistical supports for "hell in a hand basket." Despite relentless downer and anti-professionals propaganda and economic sabotage by parasitical oligarchs, we still have vibrant science, inventive tech and an economy that moves forwar.

Those jerks are fools. As is anyone who listens to them. --db


Q:

Just noticed your special is available in Germany as well, made my day!

Watching right now :o)

Any chance for a Comedy Central Roast? you're definitely one of the best IMO, harsh as Frankie Boyle but easier on the eye

A:

Do you have an old-timey favorite short-story sci-fi author? I think it's the toughest sci-fi out there - trying to convey an "abnormal" plot in a meaningful way in a short amount of time.


Q:

I love the comedy central roasts. Jimmy Carr was so great on his. I'd love to do one x

A:

I really liked Joan D. Vinge when I was young. I agree with what you say about short stories. They are the hardest for me to write.


Q:

Hi Katherine! You are one of my favourite comedians, both on screen and live. My question is what's the most memorable heckle you've had so far?

A:

Contrariwise, may not utopian science fiction that explains how a species has skillfully averted nuclear be beneficial for the same goal? Any recommendations for such science fiction novels? Thanks!

Eray


Q:

Hmmmmm I don't remember most of them. That's the wonderful thing about live stand up. Stuff happens in the room and then it's gone. You'd have to have been there. x

A:

Have you tried Joan Slonczewski? She's an excellent writer of hard sf with a bent toward microbiology.


Q:

Do you have any advice for someone creating their own comedy show?

A:

No, I have not. Thanks for the recommendation.


Q:

Practice practice practice. Get on stage as much as you can. x

A:

Folks thanks for participating! Before we close, here is my web site: http://www.davidbrin.com (LOTS of stuff there!) And my blog: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

Twitter @DavidBrin G+ = +davidbrin1 FB= https://www.facebook.com/AUTHORDAVIDBRIN/ Youtube= https://www.youtube.com/user/davidbrin1

Catherine?


Q:

Hi Katherine, what do you consider to be the best premise for a show that you've taken part in? Personally I love taskmaster, can you play a part in every series from now on?

A:

No, I have not. Thanks for the recommendation.


Q:

Taskmaster is my favourite too. It's insane. Such fun. I know they've got two new series already filmed and I can't wait to see them. British comedy is so great and that makes it really hard to choose. xx

A:

Does anyone have any final thoughts?


Q:

How was it working with Frankie Boyle? He's received criticism in the past for going too far with some of his jokes....I find him hilarious, personally! No V-Day plans btw....unless you're free tonight? I cook a mean lamb roast. Good luck with the show.

A:

Thanks for all the great stories... Didn't have any questions but enjoy both of your work and this AMA


Q:

I love him. Enjoy the lamb. xx

A:

Anyone re nuclear power or energy?


Q:

Hey Katherine, thanks for the AMA! Another UK-TV-obsessed Canadian here.

I find this thought popping into my head from time to time and I need to know the answer: why do you say eating bread is like eating a napkin?

I've seen you make this comparison on two separate occasions, and sometimes I'll be eating a sandwich and a memory of you saying this will pop into my head and make me question...everything.

So what's the deal with you and bread?!

A:

haha I just hate bread. it creeps me out. It's not food. Historically, we needed it for sustenance but we don't anymore. It's everywhere and I don't know why. It's not food! It's so processed. It's the thing standing in between me and food. Wherever I am, I'm like 'WILL THERE BE FOOD" and people say yes but they are LYING BECAUSE THERE IS NO FOOD THERE IS ONLY BREAD sorry. xx


Q:

Obviously none of us here stand a chance of getting a date with you (or any other famous people), but hypothetically speaking, how would one go about it? I mean, I find it rather unlikely that we'd stumble across your profiles on places like Tinder, and I suspect it'd be rather creepy if we saw you in public and approached you with "can I take you out for hot chocolate and gummy bears?"

A:

I have never been on a date with a stranger and I will never go on a date with a stranger. You have to be friends with me for minimum one year and then you'll be magically living with me before you know what's happened.


Q:

Hi Katherine massive fan. Good luck with the netflix special. Quick question. Who do you find to be the most receptive and involved audience's? Stand up or studio? English or Irish? Etc?

A:

Thank you! Live Stand up is my fav and I actually love British audiences. Hmmmm maybe Scottish especially xx


Q:

Really looking forward to watching your special tonight. Which new acts should we look out for on the comedy circuit?

A:

Stephen Bailey, Jayde Adams, Lauren Pattinson, Lolly Adefope.....so many. xx


Q:

What's the strangest thing to happen to you other than the fake radio competition?

A:

I was once targeted by an inflatopheliac.


Q:

Is Jimmy really an android?

A:

apple product


Q:

Hey Katherine, what's your rock n' roll wind down routine after a gig?

A:

I load up HAYU.COM and watch reality TV with a cup of tea*

*WINE


Q:

Hi Katherine,

You can choose one show to have an all female panel - which show and who's on it? And for bonus points, who's hosting?

A:

Aisling Bea, Sara Pascoe, Roisin Conaty, Lolly Adefope, Tiff Stevenson, Mel & Sue, omg americans....Michelle Wolf, this girl Anne Donahue on twitter is SO FUNNY. There are about a hundred thousand.


Q:

Who's your favorite comedian? What do you like about them.

PS: You're mine :)

A:

My fav is Joe Lycett right now in this moment. I'll have a different favourite in two minutes. You can't just have one. xx


Q:

Would you rather get attacked by 50 duck sized horses or 10 horse sized ducks?

A:

Duck sized horses please because horse-sized ducks are basically velociraptors.