To Brennen, regarding #48: I’d love to be a participant in that discussion amongst your friends, but conclusions? Come now, I think you know better than that. Even if we all did reach any conclusions, I’d be immediately suspicious of them.
I think the fact that we all can take the same data and arrive at different conclusions is one of the unique benefits of being human.
Oh, and thanks for your recommendation of The Stainless Steel Rat some time ago; I read the first novel about a week ago and “Slippery Jim” DiGriz charmed me off my feet. A fabulous book, and a great example of the kind of SF I’d like to revive: wildly fun adventure.