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Messages - dubsartur

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Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza / Re: US Politics 2021
« on: January 23, 2021, 07:19:57 PM »
Jubal might be interested in this one: an interview with a statistician who works for Democratic campaigns in the USA lamenting that "effect sizes are dropping" and that in today's media environment it is hard to learn by experience which actions win votes and which lose them (transcript and audio).  He has a suspicion that politicians who campaigned in the 1980s and 1990s have more practical wisdom than ones who entered politics in the smartphone era because it was easier to see what effects a speech or an ad had on the people and media in their district.  He mentions Vi Hart's Internet Votes problem without naming it; also context collapse (old and new media draw on everything someone from the Other Party says or does for its attack ads, so its hard to campaign one one set of issues and policies in Big Coastal City while members of your party campaign on different issues and policies in Ruritania, OK). 

He does not go into the deep problems with self-reported data ("how did you vote last election?" and "if the election was held today, who would you vote for as Senator?" are self-reported data) and the questions whether its plausible that substantial amounts of voters change parties based on headline news  :caradilis:  He talks about the paradox of 20-something universitied campaign workers and active party members typically in their 40s and 50s and 60s (and in the case of the Democrats more varied in skin tone than those workers), he does not talk about the party leadership of rich white people over 70.  He also talks about the trouble that individual donors are no longer representative of the party's voting base, so policies which win donations don't always translate into votes.  This helps me understand why Maciej Ceglowski shifted his focus from getting tech workers to organize to getting tech workers to donate to Democrats.

Edit: Former astronaut and governor General of Canada Julie Payette has resigned after a report concluded that she created a "toxic" work environment.  She was another of the women or racialized people who were proudly appointed or celebrated by the Trudeau government but ran into trouble (although this seems self-inflicted, whereas the Auditor General's resignation was Trudeau's fault).  The Prime Minister's Office does not seem to have asked two previous employers where she resigned after being accused of shouting at or threatening employees and went over an independent board established by the Harper government to choose candidates by explicit, publicly available criteria.  Her letter of resignation was perfect Trudeau-speak ("While no formal complaints or official grievances were made during my tenure ... I still take these allegations very seriously ... We all experience things differently")

The governor general represents the crown in federal ceremonial matters like the lieutenant governors do provincially.

How much of a problem will cancelling Keystone be for the federal Canadian government? Is it the sort of thing where Trudeau will be blamed for not making the case effectively to Biden/where do the Canadian public outside Alberta stand on this sort of issue?
Since the scraps of revenues after the international oil companies have feasted go to the provincial government, and since Alberta is a one-party state (federal Conservative MPs with the occasional NDP or Liberal, United Conservative Party MLAs with a NDP opposition) very little.  The QuĂ©becois are always careful not to let any one federal party feel entitled to their votes, like Norwegians always reminded the oil companies that the oil and gas is not going away and if they don't want to deal Norway will still be there when their other suppliers have dried up.  And Jason Kenny was already loudly positioning himself against the Liberal government (Albertans have grudges against the federal Liberals since Trudeau the Elder), so he does not have many favours to draw on (especially when he may need help paying for pandemic recovery).

The jurisdiction issue is why pipeline politics are so nasty in Canada.  Building the pipeline to Vancouver means First Nations protests in BC, and a risk of breakages in BC and its coastal waters, so Albertans can get richer.  And its easy for people in other parts of Canada to wag their fingers at Alberta and not talk about how Canada has one of the highest energy consumptions per capita in the world, was one of the places were petroleum culture and car culture was born, and has not been reducing its emissions for the past 30 years.

This one might interest Exilian members: a long form podcast on Internet service in rural Canada, and how companies like xplornet have effective monopolies and collect government subsidies without providing service similar to in big cities  Even in big cities in Canada, usually there are only two or three telecom companies, and services like cell phones are more expensive than in most rich countries.

I am not sure how long the explosion of streaming video and high-bandwidth gaming will last given the need to drastically reduce energy and resource consumption to limit climate change, but if the powers that be want everything to be online, they have to provide everyone with sufficient Internet service.  (For example, the big five Canadian banks were very aggressive in pushing electronic bank statements in the 2010s, because printing them and mailing them costs a dollar or so per customer per month and sending them electronically costs a fraction of a cent).

The Prime Minister says that improving rural Internet services is a priority but he hasn't set any goals within the current election cycle, just "by 2030."  But at least this is an example of how rural people in Canada deal with corporations and different levels of government to cause policy changes.

The United Conservative Government of Alberta is boiling because they bought their Keystone XL pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico for several billion dollars and the new POTUS is fulfilling his promise to revoke its hastily-granted permits.  They need better-paying markets for their oil to pay their public service and help their friends get richer, the US produces all the fossil fuels it needs so cancelling one pipeline from a place with 0 electoral college votes is not a big deal.

On 3 July, the maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI on the mainland and Newfoundland and Labrador which entered Confederation circa 1949 under Joey Smallwood) created an Atlantic Bubble where anyone from outside the participating provinces would have to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.  Due to the arrival of COVID variants, the explosion of cases in Alberta, and the number of tourists visiting BC for winter sports, British Columbia has been debating closing its borders to other provinces in the same way.  There are questions whether this would survive a constituional challenge in court.

Alberta, with a similar population to BC, has 11,096 active cases as of 18 January whereas BC has 4,331 as of 20 January.

The Atlantic Bubble burst as one province after another dropped out.

I think that many outsiders don't understand BC's policies, which seem to be grounded in a philosophy of anti-authoritarianism.  Many people who get paid to share their opinions are authoritarians at heart who just want to be the ones giving advice in smoke-filled room or being humbly petitioned to grant access to their contacts.  Health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has been clear about the philosophy underlining her recommendations.

The federal Conservatives are going to vote whether to expel MP Derek Sloan from the caucus for accepting a $131 donation from white nationalist (and CPC member) Frederick Paul Fromm. Edit: A majority voted to expel him under the Reform Act which some of the linked papers discussed in the Canadian Politics 2019 thread.  Earlier in this year Sloan was in the news for asking whether British-educated, Hong Kong born, Han-ancestry chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam "works for Canada or for China."  So the donation may be a pretext for MPs who have spent time in private with Sloan and have a good idea what he says when the microphones are turned off to get rid of him.

Edit: The premier of BC John Horgan announced on 21 January that:
The review of our legal options made it clear we can't prevent people from travelling to British Columbia. We can impose restrictions on people travelling for non-essential purposes if they are causing harm to the health and safety of British Columbians.  If we see transmission increase due to interprovincial travel, we will impose stronger restrictions on non-essential travellers."

Since the four maritime provinces already did this, Newfoundland passed a court challenge, section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has a "subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" clause, and section 10 of the Emergency Program Act of British Columbia allows a minister during a state of emergency to "control or prohibit travel to or from any area of British Columbia;" that wording is confusing.  People arriving in BC from other countries have to quarantine for two weeks.

Neurotypical people in similar situations often behave in similar ways, with just the names and the rationalizations varying.  Gwynne Dyer felt that debates about whether Canada should fight in Afghanistan sounded a lot like debates in 1939, 1914, and 1898.   A communications professor has written an essay on the time that radio stations deplatformed anti-Semite, pro-Nazi Father Charles Coughlin in 1938.

At first that was not a big deal since he had a newspaper and friends who were willing to print his rants about Jewish capitalist socialists.  So eventually the government turned the same weapon against him which they turned against people sharing information on contraception (and which state governments had turned against anyone criticizing slavery), banning his newspaper from the mail.  The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a summary of his career.

"Historians: ruining fun since Herodotus let out the truth about Helen and Paris?"

I think your conference is in early Feb so maybe it would be good for you to just arrange a small private chat not a full booze-up?

Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza / Re: US Politics 2021
« on: January 13, 2021, 02:21:08 AM »
Conversely to a lot of people hand-wringing over the social media blocks of Trump, though, I think the measure of the problem here is more that Trump wasn't reined in sooner on his propaganda outlets.
Remember that of all the voices he helped to silence, the one which made the CEO of Cloudflare cry "it is wrong for one company to have so much power to ban speech!" in 2017 was the Daily Stormer?

I think we are hearing the yelps of people who thought the purpose of corporate social media was to silence and impoverish women and foreigners and sex workers but not white men with money.  But fortune's wheel always turns and the revolution always eats its children.  Meanwhile 45 is welcome to send emails and texts and letters and to put anything he wants on his own web server (and to go on whatever TV or radio will have him).  If he is not yet in jail when the pandemic clears up, he could even pick a spot in Hyde Park!

US-Americans who get paid to share their opinions about politics love the phrase "rule of law."  What else but rule of law is a **** website banning a user for ToS violations who happens to hold public office, or refusing to be an accessory to incitement to riot?

I am hearing that metal detectors have been set up in the US Capitol and some representatives are calling this an atrocity.  Ladies and gentlemen, many children in their country have to pass through a metal detector just to go to school.  But those children tend to be poor, black, or immigrants and immigrants' children.

I still think Canadian politics feels from an international viewpoint like it's in a quiet phase: but that's compared to other countries, more than to the rolling average.

(Also, given that the governing party is governing as a minority, in a pandemic, it's interesting things aren't much more rowdy).
The people who like to gossip about Canadian federal politics suspect the Liberal minority government will call an election sometime this year while people are thinking about the pandemic not WE Charity or the RCMP.  There is also likely to be trouble when the provinces which handled the pandemic worst ask for federal funds and the other provinces point out that their taxpayers will be paying for someone else's screwups.  I think things are hot in Nova Scotia after the mass shooting and the mob burning of an indigenous fisher's buildings while police officers watched and did not intervene.

I think that the Greens and NDP are short of funds, the Conservatives and Greens recently changed leaders, and so they have been reluctant to risk forcing an election.  The Conservatives also have to deal with Trump BoJo and Ford making "Conservative" look bad (and even Jason Kenny in Alberta is in some trouble as COVID cases explode and MLAs take sunny vacations while telling constituents to stay home).

Edit: also, don't forget that Canada is being pushed to take sides in a great power game between China and the USA with the American tariffs and the house arrest of Huawei executive Meg Wanzhou.  And the new Trudeau government does not seem to have a clear, consistent vision of what to do with power, every few months they throw a new idea on the table but they don't always follow up and none of them has the drama of the program that he was made prime minister the first time to carry out.  So the federal government seems to be trying to avoid sudden movements which might overturn the canoe or send the log-driver headfirst into the river.

Looking it up, I note from a short Wikipedia browse that the Canadian senate seems to have undergone a number of changes in recent years, with lots of appointments to nominal independents such that there are now two independent groups which comprise over half the seats or some such, with the Conservative and Progressive (post-Liberal) groups combined amounting to less than the bigger independent bloc. Do you have any thoughts on that?
The Senate of Canada is an odd institution with a 17th-century flavour.  Traditionally, it was a place to give sinecures for party loyalists, and had a large elderly contingent who just go through the motions and collect the benefits while their professional staffers do the work.  Liberals and central Canadians (ON/QC) have the most chances to hand out these sinecures, so Conservatives and western Canadians (BC/AB/SK/MB) tend to lead the calls to reform or abolish it.  Its not something I follow like electoral reform or how to turn the Prime Minister into less of an elected dictator.

Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza / Canadian Politics 2021
« on: January 12, 2021, 02:53:34 AM »
So, last spring's observation that Canadian politics were in a quiet phase were a bit premature, although this government has run things more or less as expected.

According to a briefing for the Privy Clerk, the 46 year old reservist who broke into the gardens of Rideau Hall with loaded firearms on 2 July 2020 "was seeking to have the prime minister arrested for his policies related to firearms restrictions and COVID responses."  Apparently he left a note in his car saying something about a communist dictatorship.

There is growing anger at politicians and officials who traveled outside Canada over the holidays while telling the public to stay home and not mingle outside their household, and at provincial governments which are handling the epidemic especially poorly.  For many Canadians, spending a few weeks or a few months somewhere warm and sunny every winter is a treasured routine.  Parties which saw this coming and issued warnings to their caucuses tend to have less members to apologize for. 

Right now there is no one good book on Iron Age helmets in the oikumene, just a few with different focuses and blindspots.

Reallexikon der Assyriologie s.v. Helm: Archäologisch (horsehair helmet crests seem to have been invented by the Neo-Hittites then spread to the Assyrians and the Aegean)
Eero Jarva's Archaiologia on Archaic Greek Body Armour
Connolly's Greece and Rome At War (just keep in mind that a lot of his 'classical Greek' kit is from sites in Italy)
Encyclopedia Iranica s.v. Helmet (i)
Dintisis' Hellenistische Helme (2 volumes)
Bishop and Coulston's Roman Military Equipment

Helmets still have horsehair crests in the Strategikon of Maurice and a silver Lombard bowl

Early and high medieval Europe are not my specialty, but by the 13th century the Franks have those cuir boille decorations for the helm, and they last into the 15th century.  They serve the same function of making you look taller and standing out in a sea of screaming moving bodies and flashing weapons.  Codex Manesse and the Innsbrucker Wappenrolle and other MS interested in heraldry tend to show them alongside the shield   By the trecento we also have bascinets fitted with "a little tube of silver to carry the plume" for a few soldi extra.

Claude Blair and David Nicolle are good 'go tos' for medieval arms and armour.

Announcements! The Town Crier! / Re: WINTER CREATIVE COMPETITION: AURORA!
« on: January 10, 2021, 03:57:32 AM »
Then even though its the 20s, I might be able to get something together!

Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza / Re: US Politics 2021
« on: January 07, 2021, 11:40:09 PM »
When asked for parallels in US history, the r/AskHistorians folks had to reach for things like the pogrom against the black population of Wilmington, NC and gunpoint removal of its government by a Red Shirt mob in 1898.  They could not find anything in the 20th century US.  Its also worth saying that this happened simultaneously in many different states and territories although the events at the Capitol got the most attention.

For the timidity and stupidity of our enemies may we be truly thankful.  Political violence is a strong tradition in the United States.  But I do not know if the United States can go anywhere good from here.  The killing did not stop after Tiberius Gracchus' body was hauled out of the Forum.

Edit: To be tactical and journalistic (thinking about the next two weeks not two decades) the resignation of several US cabinet ministers makes it less likely that a majority will invoke section 4 of the 25th amendment.  I think that cabinet ministers are the "the principal officers of the executive departments" in the text of the amendment.

Edit: The gang with the beards, the bullet-resistant helmets, the black tactical gear and the bundles of temporary handcuffs look like someone I knew in Alberta.  Jordan Guy MacDonald Goudreau, the wannabe conquerer of Venuzuela last May, was from Calgary.

Edit: I am also seeing allegations that at least six state legislators were in the mob which stormed the Capitol

If you are new to this world, David Neiwert, who has been studying the radical right in the United States for 20 or 30 years, has a new book Red Pill, Blue Pill: How to Counteract the Conspiracy Theories That Are Killing Us (Prometheus, 2020) Amazon.   

Yes, aesthetics is the word I was looking for!  40k is one part a 'Hyborean age but for military adventures' (the Hyborean Age let REH tell oriental adventures, Injun Fighting, pirate stories, Latin intrigues, and crusader adventures in one setting) and one part a reskinned Warhammer Old World (Chaos Warriors -> Chaos Space Marines, elves -> Eldar).  There are even hints that the Old World might be out there somewhere in the void.  it does not even engage with science in the <insert tecnobabble> way, but it has all the visual tropes: spaceships, FTl travel, psi, aliens, city-worlds, declining interstellar empires.

One of my go-to models is rational vs. dramatic fiction.  Rational stories are about working out the consequences of a premise, dramatic stories are about whatever is exciting. So in Star Wars travel happens at the speed of the plot, whereas even Tolkien carefully worked out the chronology of Frodo's journey to Mt. Doom on a map, and Heinlein was proud of working out the orbital mechanics for Destination Moon on a roll of butcher's paper, he on one side, Virginia on the other, then checking each other's work.

I'd usually take a muuuuch broader definition of SF! But I see what you mean.

I guess one case par excellence to look at in a wider definition of Science Fiction are things like the Necrons, who have a very clear Egyptian theme. I suspect there's a lot more tangential referencing when one looks into casual use of e.g. glyph systems, pyramids, pharaonic imagery around rulers, etc. The pyramids-aliens-space trope is definitely one that's seen a lot of use.
The Necrons appeared pretty recently in the Wh40k-verse, didn't they?  Like the past 10 or 15 years?  Around when the Tau were introduced?

Glyphs and pyramids often draw on Mesoamerican and Mesopotamian archaeology, like in "Red Nails" (which has a laser wand, carnivorous stegosaurus, and mesmerism so the line between fantasy and SF is fuzzy) or "At the Mountains of Madness."

Light novels (for fascistic understandings of 'entertaining') by Baen often have a "god-king" trope which is vaguely inspired by stereotypes about Egypt.  Karl August Wittfogel's hydraulic despotism comes up in Niven's "What can you say about Chocolate-Covered Manhole-Covers?" but I can't recall it being a major trope in worldbuilding like historical cycles, the Fall of the Roman Empire, or ideas about feudalism.

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