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Crying fire in a crowded theatre for pleasure and profit

Hi: I'm back. And a regular commenter asked me an interesting question anent the state of current US/UK politics: how much money can you make by crying fire in a crowded theatre?

Note that "crowded theatre" and "crying fire" are not to be taken literally; rather, it's a question about how much money you can make by manipulating social media to drive public opinion.

I'm going to start with the money markets: hedge funds bet big on Brexit, because they predicted that in event of a "leave" vote going through, shares in the FTSE 100 would underperform by 20%: so they shorted the entire market. However, it's a bet that, by and large, they lost money on. Rather than the FTSE 100 dropping 20%, Sterling dropped 20% and the shares continued to trade at much the same level (in the now-debased currency). Oops. Notably, billionaire Peter Hargreaves, who donated £3.2M to the Leave campaign, managed to lose on the order of £400M (warning: DM over-simplification alert—the market didn't tank, his portfolio lost value). Still, as bets go, it's a good if obvious example of crying fire in a crowded theatre for pleasure and profit: put £3.2M into sending 15 million letters to voters urging them to vote one way, aiming to profit to the tune of hundreds of millions.

Another fairly obvious example is the investment by the current Russian leadership in cyberwar ops against the perceived-as-more-competent candidate in the last US presidential election. Regardless of her other characteristics, Clinton was experienced in foreign affairs and no friend of Russia's. Russia today is primarily an oil and gas exporter, with the world's second largest (official) reserves after Saudi Arabia, and the current leadership can't help but be aware that they're vulnerable to some of the same factors that brought down the USSR —notably vulnerability to externally induced commodity price fluctuations. Clinton could have continued the transition to renewables that the Obama administration began, and applied the decreased US dependency on fossil fuel as an economic weapon against Russia (by depressing global oil prices): she had to be defeated at all costs. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is full of fossil fuel connections. Oil, gas, and coal companies contributed heavily to Trump's campaign, to his inauguration, and in federal lobbying since then, with predictable results.

Anyway, those are the two big recent examples; investors pushing Brexit propaganda not because they think leaving the EU would be good for the UK but in the pursuit of short-term profit: and big fossil fuel interests (national-level actors like Russia/Gazprom and corporate actors like Koch Industries) seeking a fossil-fuel-friendly policy environment by buying targeted political campaigning and deploying cyberwar techniques against politicians perceived as being less receptive to their desire for profit.

Aside from these two examples, and also leaving aside the Grenfell Tower disaster (latest: inflammable cladding may have been used on up to 600 other high-rise apartment buildings in the UK; replacing that is going to cost billions), what other examples can you think of where you can profit by crying fire in a crowded theatre?

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1:

White hat cyber warriors crying cyber cyber cyber to get your cyber security cyber dollars.

2:

Charlie, you're missing the obvious one here. The news media benefits from getting people riled up so they will be glued to their televisions/phones because they want to be told soothing lies kept informed about what the hell is going on. News execs gave the game away by admitting publicly that they gave Tr*mp so much airtime because he was good for business, not necessarily good for the country.

3:

Theoretically, if one were to own a national paper one could inflate or invent all sorts of woes, then blame them on external factors in the name of swinging the Overton window in a direction that just happens to be beneficial to one's own tax affairs, and those of any similarly affluent advertisers and business partners one might have.

But I'd have to be some sort of ridiculous conspiracy theorist to believe such a convoluted scenario.

4:

I should add another classic example: Andrew Wakefield and the alleged vaccine/autism link. Per the BMJ, Carmel Healthcare Ltd would succeed in marketing products and developing a replacement vaccine if "public confidence in the MMR vaccine was damaged (Carmel Healthcare was a company named after Wakefield's wife; per WebMD $43 million predicted yearly profits would come from marketing kits for "diagnosing patients with autism" and that "the initial market for the diagnostic will be litigation-driven testing of patients with AE [autistic enterocolitis, an unproven condition concocted by Wakefield] from both the UK and the US.

(Warning: I'm quoting from Wikipedia who in turn are citing sources. Please don't dive down this rabbit hole as Wakefield appears to still be actively promoting anti-vaccination claims and this has led to litigation in the past.)

But yeah, the anti-vaxxer movement appears to me to have been started deliberately in order to sell alternative treatments.

5:

How far does the "crying fire" analogy go? You could stretch it to include Icke, Scientology and so on. Would it be wise to draw a boundary around it for the purposes of the first 300 comments?

6:

Boris Johnson hanging his hat on the "Leave" campaign, once all the Conservative future leaders swung behind "Remain" (however lukewarm).

He stood to win the Party Leadership, and become Prime Minister, if the vote went his way - regardless of whether it was good for the country. He'd have got away with it, if it hadn't been for those pesky kidsGoves

7:

Looking at the fire risk from cladding problem, it strikes me that the easiest way to solve this is to do a couple of things:

Firstly, set a policy that in the event of a fire alarm, tower blocks are to evacuate. Put in provisos so that deliberate false triggers are punished and make the evacuate alarm criteria fairly hard to achieve to prevent there being too many false alarms, but also put sprinkler systems into the hallways so that fire never prevents evacuation.

Secondly, some means of preventing cladding fires escalating quickly needs to be found, whether this be halon-type extinguishers along the panel edges, pop-out sprinkler systems or refits of panels.

A final point must be to realise that tower blocks are dangerous environments in the event of fire, and must be made less dangerous by as effective a set of means as can be developed. Letting people die in preventable fires is just not on.

8:

In the U.S., a large portion of conservative fundraising basically operates on this principle. Fearmongering about guns/gays/atheists/environmentalists leads directly to requests for PAC donations, and then to sales pitches to buy gold, home schooling materials, and survivalist equipment.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/super-pac-scams-114581_full.html?print

9:

Uber Lyft etc deliberately betting against mass-transit, coupled with massive publicity & also coupled with vile employment practices ??

10:

Conservatives playing up the shortcomings of single-payer healthcare in order to make way for more profitable insurance schemes would seem to fit here.

11:

It's shallow and obvious, but: News International deliberately running stories about the inherent bias of public service broadcasters... so as to drive consumers through their own paywall?

;) "Jobs for the Boys" syndrome - anyone who campaigned for Scottish Independence because of the personal opportunities of forced decentralisation (e.g. artists and actors and producers wondering about setting up a new Scottish Arts Council; or a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation, showing Scottish content) ;)

12:

Previous policy to remain in your flat was set back when asbestos insulation was in use (when the flats were built). The asbestos was stripped ... but not effectively replaced. And the cladding was highly inflammable (to save pennies they filled it with polystyrene instead of rock wool).

Because these buildings were not designed with rapid evacuation in mind it's quite possible that the stairwells don't have the capacity to permit evacuation.

A couple of easy measures spring to mind:

1. Replace the cladding with inert material (a no-brainer, already in progress).

2. Retrofit sprinklers, especially in the stairwells, and fire doors in the passageways.

3. Install smoke hoods in cabinets in every flat and stairwell. Most of the fatalities were due to smoke inhalation; even if you can't speed up the process of evacuation by stairwell, you can reduce casualties by enabling evacuees to breathe.

4. Lighting strips at floor level, leading to stairwells. We do this on airliners, and LED lighting strips are dirt cheap these days. Why don't we do it in buildings?

13:

I think this generalises in the obvious way: it's not really the news media, it's Googlebook: the more time people spend getting really furious and trolling/fighting trolls the mode adverts they see and the more money pours into their pockets.

This is just the whole 'Fake news' thing by another name of course.

14:

Fire! The Algo version:

The price of ethereum crashed as low as 10 cents from around $319 in about a second on the GDAX cryptocurrency exchange on Wednesday, a move that is being blamed on a "multimillion dollar market sell" order.

Ethereum briefly crashed from $319 to 10 cents in seconds on one exchange after ‘multimillion dollar’ trade CNBC 41 mins ago, 22nd June, 2017

Step 1: own 2 million Eth

Step 2: place 2 mil stop loss orders at $0.2 dollars

Step 3: Dump 1 mil onto market and shout "!It's Hit the TOP, WHALES ARE GETTING OUT!" very loudly to the algos and watch it swamp and cut anyone trading on margin funding down like they were running through the Somme as the sell snowball accelerates (in 10 nanoseconds or so)

Step 3.1: Be really evil and design it so the same currency is the default collateral on that exchange so that the snowball will really gut everyone's holdings: your $400 margin which was 1.2 Eth is now 1000 Eth, ooops, sold them all automatically for you, thanks!

Step 3.2: Hold your own collateral in a different currency (say, BitCoin) so your "losses" on 1 mil sell orders being gradually filled by lower stop loss purchases are off-set by the predicable rise as Eth burns down and screaming cubicle dwellers panic convert to The Other less-fashionable-crypto

Step 4: wild wild west and why market banking regulations are probably a good idea (Big Banks Can Relax, Trump’s Modern Glass-Steagall Isn’t Aimed at Breaking Them Up WSJ, 18th May, 2017)

Step 5: You now own 3 million Eth coins at the expense of all your buddies and are king of the virtual tulip store

Step 5.1: Go onto popular forums and spam "Buy the dip! Always buy the dip!" smugly to reset the sheep into tulip mode

Oh, and you just made $32 million on the side.

Full Disclosure: have no holdings in Eth, just saw warning flashes all over it. So, kinda the counter-point, but there we go. *cough*

~

Another version would be the Jaws scenario where just by moving you cause everyone else to scream "fire" and wet their knickers just by existing:

Amazon is spending $13.7 billion to buy Whole Foods, but its damage to the stock market has already been in the tens of billions.

Just among the biggest losers in the retail and food categories in the S&P 500, the market cap destruction for just 20 stocks was $37.7 billion Friday.

Amazon-Whole Foods threat wipes out nearly $40 billion in market value from other companies CNBC 16th June, 2017

~

Fire! The actual version using symbolic (and very stereotypical) animals:

Qataris were furious after photos of famished camels appeared in local newspapers on June 19. Authorities sent caravans of provisions to relieve the stranded animals and have now set up temporary shelters.

A 4,500-mile-square peninsula in the Persian Gulf, Qatar has little land to pasture its camels, which are a backbone of traditional culture and recreation there. In the past, many Qatari families have simply pastured their camels in Saudi Arabia, traveling back and forth across the border to tend to their livestock.

Saudi Arabia Deports 15,000 Qatari Camels Foreign Policy, June 20th, 2017

https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/DSM:IND - notice the 19th slump. Symbolic or not, camels have serious history in that area


~

Disappears to post-300 ramblings.

15:

There's a whole fire-crying class problem whenever transport in London is under discussion. Taxi drivers are independent businesspeople whose livelihood relies on a system optimised for London's current conditions (near-gridlock, congestion charge and parking fees make it painful to use a private car, but some people want or need more speed/flexibility/privacy than a bus or train offers). However whenever transport issues are under discussion, the media uses them as a relatable proxy for urban planning experts, with the predictable outcome that they're against any change to the current system.

16:

The arts sector broadly splits into two categories — those who are dependent on public funding, and those who expect to turn a profit or starve (i.e. they run on a popular subscription model, like me). Note that one sub-sector is not inherently superior to the other: there are some things we probably need but which can't be paid for by the market. And the public feeds into and upon the academic sector (MA Creative Writing courses would be very different if lecturers had to publish their fiction on a commercial basis).

As for a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation, we've already got that insofar as the BBC has a big outpost in Glasgow producing content tailored to Scotland.

More interesting is the implication of HMRC needing a whole tax farming infrastructure north of the border, rather than just outlying offices ...!

17:

Another couple trivial measure:

Do not install "flameretardent" insulation, it only works in still air where the combustion products prevent oxygensupply to the flame. If there is a draft or chimney-effect, it burns just fine.

If you move the windows out to the new facade, require the insulation 1m around the windows to be of noncombustible material.

What happened here was the exact opposite, which gave an exterior fire direct access to all apartments via the windows.

18:

Buy, and then actually deploy in a timely manner, the best available high level rescue vehicles. Bronto Skylift make one which can evacuate from the 33rd level of a building, at a range of 25m from the vehicle chassis.

19:

In regards to the whole Trump/Fossil Fuel connection and his subsequent pulling out of the Paris agreement, it appears to be an act of such selfish stupidity that it surely borders on criminal. I could almost find argument enough to say it is one of the most criminal acts in history. It will put the US behind its main rivals in terms of the forthcoming boom in green energy technology and continue our species on its path towards the cliff edge of climate change. If our environment heats up my just 2 degrees then we are looking at mass starvation due to crop failure, unprecedented levels of immigration and potential global and regional conflicts, but that OK, because Trump and his cronies will be rich now. Same with Brexit, a foreign media mogul has been allowed to interfere so much with our political system to his own ends that he has, in part, driven our country into chaos. Why are we worried about terrorism when these people are committing acts like this? They are making billions by shouting fire, and we are all running for the exits while they root through our pockets.

20:

Oh, cynical time:

Fire! The destruction of your lower / middle class, American Edition.

Step 1: Publish many many "The Robots are going to take the jobs" articles and serious Presidential warnings of the same

Step 1.A: Do absolutely nothing about this (instead, cut Medicare etc)

Step 2: Publish many "Minimum wage should be $15 / hr" pieces for the Other side to gain hope from and to set the scene for the sharks

Step 3: Install robots in the lowest wage retail industries just as most retailers are tanking[1][2]

Step 4: To the Moooon! (offer may not apply to "the poors" or ethnic minorities, Prison stocks rise as bonus side)

Step 5: Real bonus move; ensure entire generation is saddled with $1+ trillion in loans just as this happens

Andrew Charles from Cowen cited plans for the restaurant chain to roll out mobile ordering across 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017. The technology upgrades, part of what McDonald's calls "Experience of the Future," includes digital ordering kiosks that will be offered in 2,500 restaurants by the end of the year and table delivery...

The analyst raised his price target for McDonald's to $180 from $142, representing 17.5 percent upside from Monday's close. He also raised his 2018 earnings-per-share forecast to $6.87 from $6.71 versus the Wall Street consensus of $6.83.

McDonald's hits all-time high as Wall Street cheers replacement of cashiers with kiosks CNBC 20th June, 2017


[1] The Silent Crisis of Retail Employment The Atlantic, 18th April, 2017

[2] Moreover, a recent study found that a large chunk of retail jobs "likely will be automated" in the coming years, which could leave a portion of the retail workforce out of a job. This has already started happening: Panera Bread, a fast-casual restaurant chain, has started replacing human cashiers with kiosks. Retail keeps bleeding jobs Business Insider, 2nd June, 2017

[3] Panera Bread Is Replacing Cashiers With Kiosks Business Insider, May 5th, 2017 - now look @ the stock price http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/pnra - someone clearly got a tip off / obvious insider trading is obvious. Niiiice exponential ramp then flat-line there, the algos are proud.[4]

[4] No, really: totally, 100% obvious insider trading there, shines like a beacon. Bonus round: find out which Congress people own that stock either directly or indirectly.

~

Really will wander off now.

21:

So we're looking for things that either

A) influence public opinion so that Option A is chosen over Option B and you happen to be long Option A

or

B) create a panic or a shortage when you happen to have the solution to the problem, regardless of whether the problem is real or imagined.

or

C) create a controversy where you make money commenting on that controversy

or

D) create uncertainty or turblulence where you sell things that reduce risk

or

E) influence public opinion so that they make a political choice that favours your position.

And something that is a bit beyond just lobbying or advertising or public relations?

Perhaps the support by the Southern aristocracy for the American Revolution for Freedom so that they could avoid British anti-slavery measures.

Or the stoking up of fear of radiation by energy industries other than the nuclear energy industry.

There's a lovely example of shouting "Fire's out!" for fun and profit from the Napoleonic War where Andrew Cochraine-Johnstone (uncle of Admiral Cochraine / Jack Aubrey) hired some French Bourbon officers to walk slowly from Yorkshire to London saying Napoleon had abdicated and the Bourbons had won whilst he was busy selling UK government bonds. Thomas Cochraine went to prison for that and had to escape to found the Chilean Navy.

22:

Edison and the elephant that he used to influence opinion in favour of his electricity genertors.

Baby milk manufacturers.

The tobacco industry?

The use of anti-German propaganda by the US temperance movement after the Great War.

Payment Protection Insurance.

23:

4. Lighting strips at floor level, leading to stairwells. We do this on airliners, and LED lighting strips are dirt cheap these days. Why don't we do it in buildings?

This is actually happening now for modern new builds and refits - the emergency lighting is skirting mounted battery backed 5w LEDs. Two main reasons: they are low power and skirting is readily accessible so cheap and easy to install, and they are below the smoke level so very popular with inspectors/fire brigades. They also look much more tasteful so the interior designers like em. I imagine embedding direction arrows will be a simple addition in future.


On the Grenfell front, there is so much wrong emerging involved with the building it almost appears deliberately designed to remove the poor inhabitants in a way that allows the building to be destroyed or condemned without needing a rebuild.
Illegal flammable cladding, copper gas pipes in evacuation areas, not using separate risers, much of the fire stopping removed and not replaced, potentially a lack of stopping between floors in the cladding, minimal evacuation capacity, chaotic followups ... it's really hard to do that much that wrong by accident. I expect it to quietly emerge that there was an intentional unwritten policy of neglect in the background.

24:


One example of shouting fire (That has become a quiet industry in-joke) is the aviation sector and it's claims of a "looming pilot shortage." This is then a signal for you as an outsider to get your parents to re mortgage the house and pay for training which the industry can't be bothered with. I suppose it isn't a way of making money, but it categorically does save a lot of it.

Then you seeing this scheme everywhere. The doctor shortage (No shortage of prospective medical students), the shortage of nurses, and all the way down to a lack of fruit pickers, as seen on the BBC today.


Stross - Speaking as someone who has a relative who is versed in council construction, the front door is each flat's fire door, and sprinklers don't have much use in stairwells if the communal areas are kept clear of rubbish and combustible crap like old furniture. They should, by definition, be bare concrete that contains nothing that can burn or give off smoke that prevents escape. Obvious maybe, but apparently not obeyed here.

Single escape route stairwells, concrete construction and a "stay put" policy all clearly work because this event is without precedent, but idiots setting flat fires in order to get themselves rehoused is not: This is made evident in the fact that the top of the building burned primarily because the fire tenders simply can't pump water to a height that they were never designed to have to deal with.

25:

Buy, and then actually deploy in a timely manner, the best available high level rescue vehicles.

That's a great suggestion!

Now, which government was it again that is committed to delivering a 30-40% cut in spending on public services ...?

26:

F) Promise them anything ... and know that you can get away with any lie once you're rich enough.

Have been watching this story off and on for a while now. Disclaimer: Have no personal or financial ties to this product or outfit (or its competitors), just think that this story provides impetus to study pharma, addiction and other dangerous/unwanted drug/med effects more seriously and from a wider perspective.


Purdue marketed oxycontin as a safe opioid - totally non-addictive. They hid the actual results (lied) and are (probably) responsible for opening up entirely new segments of the population to addiction, i.e., middle-aged, educated, white-collar types, grannies, etc. who once addicted and no longer able to get legal scrips from their MDs have turned to street drug dealers.

And, guess what - in a bunch of jurisdictions getting caught with street drugs will strip you of your right to vote and possibly to access to healthcare because your drug addiction will probably cost you your job. This in turn means you can't elect a Rep who might introduce legislation to seriously fine Pharma execs for blatant lying as well as unmuzzle the FDA.

Since its launch, Purdue's total revenues and stock market values from oxycontin are in the tens of billions while the fines and legal settlements are maybe a hundred mil. Yes, a prime example of balanced US priorities and values.

And as the story below shows, Purdue may even be supplying the street as it continues to grab every penny of profit it can from its 'ethical drug' product.

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/americas-heroin-epidemic/oxycontin-maker-purdue-pharma-hit-unprecedented-lawsuit-washington-n731571

Excerpt:

'While other suits against the company by states and municipalities have accused Purdue Pharma of deceptive marketing — allegedly playing up OxyContin’s effectiveness while playing down its addictiveness — Everett’s lawsuit is the first to claim the company knew its drugs were being diverted and did nothing to stop it.'


PS: Feel similarly about the PCR who are doing next to nothing about stopping the manufacture and export of an even deadlier drug which is still being made/exported in sufficient quantities to completely kill off entire country populations. In early 2017, the Canadian border agency seized one shipment of carfentanyl equivalent to 36 million overdoses. Cdn pop'n is 37 million.


Am wondering whether the Grenfell Tower scenario is based on similar 'values' using the same market and legal mechanics, just a different industry.

27:

The problem with smoke hoods is twofold. For one thing you'd have to have a blanket ban on residents having guests in their flats to be absolutely certain there'd be enough to go around, which would be not just hugely unpopular but nigh-impossible to actually enforce. And even if that problem was overcome, you have to somehow ensure that the smoke hoods on offer are simple enough to use that someone who has a limited grasp of written English can operate them properly in the dark while scared shitless.

Your other points are pretty sensible, although there's some doubt whether retrofitting sprinklers is practical in all cases; the only way to ensure the necessary water pressure is available to the sprinklers on upper floors is to put a holding tank on the roof, which might not be able to take the weight.

28:

I've been thinking about the issue of antibiotic resistance and vaccines recently, not to mention Zika, Ebola, West Nile Virus, etc. I'd love to see opinion movers start screaming about the need for more vaccines against more diseases, including (if this idea works) the common vectors of infections, plus STDs.

Because otherwise WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!! IT WILL BE HORRIBLE. IF WE DON'T INVENT TWENTY NEW VACCINES AT ONCE YOUR CHILDREN WILL DIE OF EBOLA AND GIVE BIRTH TO ZIKA BABIES AND LOSE LIMBS TO ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT INFECTIONS AND THE HOSPITALS AND MORGUES WILL OVERFLOW INTO THE STREET AND YOU WILL TRIP OVER CORPSES ON YOUR WAY TO WORK EVERY MORNING!

Anyway, it would be nice to see the power of "the crowded theatre (of the absurd)" used for good.

30:

Re: Anti-vax behavior

Wonder how many anti-vaxers would get vaccinated for vanity reasons, e.g., baldness, grey hair, sagging skin/wrinkles, etc. and how they'd talk their way around this.

31:

Typo ...

PCR should have been PRC (People's Republic of China) ... but you knew that, right?

32:

For something slightly more subtle, consider privatizing education on the US/De Vos model... which is admittedly more of a long-burning fire than a building conflagration.

Start treating education-not-available-to-the-Entitled-Class as largely intended to train worker-drones in present production/distribution-technology jobs. Not actual thinking computer scientists, but website coders.

Watch technology change in a decade so that those workers have no mobility, no advancement skills other than what they've picked up on the job (which is often nontrivial)... and little baseline education to ease retraining into something new.

Lather, rinse, repeat, and watch the unions founder rather permanently in about twenty years, which enriches the Entitled Class that owns formerly-unionized workplaces and limits the social mobility prospects of the Undesirables (that is, those whose income comes primarily from their own efforts — not from passive income generated through owning Things and/or being Maxwell's Very-Well-Compensated Demon for those who own Things).

At the beginning, invest in for-profit "schools" and for-profit "technology centers" and for-profit "retraining academies" and for-profit "entrepreneurial advocacy centers." And so-called "real" property.

33:

"...privatizing education on the US/De Vos model..."

Is all about the racism. (And giving money to big corporations.)

34:

But mainly about the racism.

35:

And yet still more racism!

36:

How about the long-standing practice by the US government of fomenting conflict for the benefit and enormous profit of the military-industrial complex? It is my considered opinion formed by a lifetime of in-place observation that the creation and encouraging of conflict around the world is deliberate policy at the highest levels of our government.

I'm a US citizen, born and raised here.

I don't believe that any of the conflicts we're participated in since and including) Vietnam were 'legitimate' in that they would not have occurred or would not have been as severe or long-lasting as they were, without the deliberate encouragement of the US government.

37:

You're assuming that because smoke hoods might only save some people in a flat if there were guests it would be better not to have them and let everyone die?

(There would be an awkward question in the case of a fire about who gets the hood, of course, but I still thing reducing deaths is worth while, even if you can't eliminate them.)

38:

I think this may be leaving out elements that are contradictory to the narrative.

For russia the best thing would be for the US to tightly restrict drilling within it's own territory. They're selling oil and gas. reducing the supply is good for them. But trump appears to be keen to get american companies pulling more out of the ground even when it's not wise.

39:

I was thinking more that fistfights breaking out over who got a hood and who had to make do with holding their breath would create at least as many problems as they might have theoretically solved.

40:

Re the OP, the degenerate financial markets version of this I see has various names, including poop and scoop and short and distort (not quite the same but close enough). Searches didn't find many well documented examples though. (I hate this stuff; OK at predicting optimist/bull market moves but horrible at fear/bear market prediction.)

An unmentioned US example in the style of the OP is to claim that the "Democrats will take away your guns" (when they are in power or might be soon) and that you should therefore buy more guns and ammo. Similarly, mass shootings, riots and slight increases in crime rates (or simple lies or exaggerated/made-up stories) are often loudly played up to boost gun sales.

41:

Now, which government was it again that is committed to delivering a 30-40% cut in spending on public services ...?
No party that I have ever supported has made such a commitment.

42:

Speaking as someone who has a relative who is versed in council construction, the front door is each flat's fire door, and sprinklers don't have much use in stairwells if the communal areas are kept clear of rubbish and combustible crap like old furniture. They should, by definition, be bare concrete that contains nothing that can burn or give off smoke that prevents escape. Obvious maybe, but apparently not obeyed here.

Single escape route stairwells, concrete construction and a "stay put" policy all clearly work because this event is without precedent, but idiots setting flat fires in order to get themselves rehoused is not: This is made evident in the fact that the top of the building burned primarily because the fire tenders simply can't pump water to a height that they were never designed to have to deal with.

It may be "without precedent" in the UK, but we had these kinds of fires years ago over here in the U.S.

It has long been known that having only one route for escape from a multi-story building creates a death trap. That's why fire safety laws in the U.S. require at least two routes for escape.

Plus, in the U.S., high-rise buildings with internal fire stairs are required to have an over-pressure system triggered by the fire alarm, so that smoke is kept out of the fire stairwells. Open the fire door into the stairwell and there's wind blowing OUT.

Everything I've read indicates it was the contractor doing the refurbishment who was responsible for combustible materials in communal areas. The residents repeatedly complained about the hazards presented by the workers not keeping the work areas clear.

And given the decision NOT to require retro-fitting sprinkler systems during the refurbishment, there is simply no excuse for the local fire department not having equipment suitable for fighting a high-rise fire.

43:

The modern standard bearer is the asbestos hysteria, which has created an entire and very lucrative industry, removing all traces of asbestos whether or not there is any reason to. The original problem was entirely in the industrial uses, and blue asbestos to boot. Most asbestos in buildings is best just left, and isn't much more carcinogenic than glass fibre, anyway.

44:

RoHS has had some of the same problems. The fluxes needed for lead free solders are much more corrosive, and failure rates had a huge spike due to in whiskers and brittle joints. Most of the failure problems have been solved now due to improved alloys but the flux problem is still there.

45:

"Because these buildings were not designed with rapid evacuation in mind it's quite possible that the stairwells don't have the capacity to permit evacuation."

I still recall participating in a fire drill evacuation of a govt. bldg with eight floors using the stairwells.

Great scenes of 50-55 year old chairborne warriors such as myself hiking down the stairs two-by-two since they tried to pack us in as tightly as possible.

If this had been a real fire I would have been trampled or killed by smoke since it took so long to get people out.

46:

Okay - once the 99.9-percenters are jobless (unable to earn therefore to invest) how are the 0.1-percenters going to compete on the stock market (or anywhere else)?

Every major brokerage firm probably has or is working on getting its own AI by now. So you have maybe 30 or 40 different AIs* trying to finagle the market. And, it isn't unlikely given the current international political paranoia that some gov'ts might not also be experimenting with unleashing AIs possibly with the view to source key commodities at best possible costs. (Thinking this might be the direction for OPEC.)

Then because media has become a major financial powerhouse, they're also likely to try their own AI. And if their AI doesn't make money directly, hey! - they can get some good stories out of it anyways.

* 'Different' because this is a very untrusting and untrustworthy bunch.


47:

This seems like kind of a strange use of the phrase "crying fire in a crowded theater". I usually see this phrase as a reference to a famous US supreme court decision about free speech issues, which do not seem to figure into the current thread.

https://www.popehat.com/2012/09/19/three-generations-of-a-hackneyed-apologia-for-censorship-are-enough/

Does it traditionally mean something different in the UK?

48:

Unless you imagine that your free speech is protected on an analogy level to foreever cry "WOLF" and chuckle as the rubes buy your snake oil solutions.

And yes, it kinda does:

The notion of proximity and of the intentions and likely effects of an utterance, can be seen to underlie the conviction and hanging of Derek Bentley (subsequently pardoned) in Britain in 1952-1953 for shouting, Let him have it, Chris, to his accomplice who shot a policeman.

Shouting Fire on a Crowded Internet Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 31 JAN 2005, PDF

Derek Bentley case

R. v. Derek Bentley (Deceased) [1998] EWCA Crim 2516

So, yeah: while American Libertarians love their little 1919 case and ignore all the lynchings, the UK had a post-war case that very much influenced the death penalty (abolition thereof) and so forth.

p.s.

You're watching The United States of America die, right now, as it happens, if you're paying attention.


You should probably mourn a little.

49:

p.s.

Popehat is a hack. Arise to protect the dream?

LOL. NOPE. IT'S ON FIRE NOW KEN. GOING DOWN IN A BLAZE OF FAILED RHETORIC.

Animal Mother YT: Film, Full Metal Jacket, 4:22

~

Freedom of Speech
They Howled
Until their Minds
Empty
Forgot the Song

50:

Okay - once the 99.9-percenters are jobless (unable to earn therefore to invest) how are the 0.1-percenters going to compete on the stock market (or anywher else)?

Probably by selling credit default swaps on the 99-percent based on Jonathan Swift's "Modest Proposal".

51:

Re: 'Jonathan Swift's "Modest Proposal".'

To feed their machines à la Matrix, maybe.

52:

The normal (if you're actually trying to keep everyone alive, rather than just comply with regulations) way to deploy smoke hoods (EEBD) is to have as many in each room as the room can hold. So if each flat could have say, 40 people over for a party, then each flat's main living area would have 40 hoods. Around 2 per metre in hallways depending on the width. You don't have to have them every metre, you can put 10 every 5 metres. There are standards under the Safety of Life at Sea, but they're pretty inadequate. Like for ships carrying more than 36 passengers, you have to have 4 sets in each vertical zone and two spares.

You need enough spares so that the right number are on hand while some are off being serviced, about 10% of the total fleet would be normal.

They're not hard to use and they have pictogram instructions, but about 1 minute of training is probably a good idea.

citation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzzBIpqjpRA

Service intervals vary but 5 years seems common. Depends on the regulatory body who oversees pressurised containers in that country. In Australia I think it's annual (I should know from personal experience having actually serviced them for a living but I forget), but we're always well OTT. I think small cylinders never used underwater are 5 years, but I've got some idea that it was shortened in this case, but I could easily be wrong. Anyway the UK will be different. Expect to pay for about 30 minutes labour to service each one, and the spare parts (o'rings and a valve seat), so maybe 50-100 dollars each.

They're a little expensive for what they are (about a $1000 each bought one at a time) and might be a theft risk too.

https://www.bigsafety.com.au/elsa-15-min-escape-breathing-apparatus-complete-with-cylinder.html?gclid=CjwKEAjw1a3KBRCY9cfsmdmWgQ0SJAATUZ8bZg2wW5gTh19iL1jzVLbygf_1p8oI9MfDExkq_aSE4RoChanw_wcB

53:

STEM Education and the huge drives to increase STEM in schools.

Is there really a shortage of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians? Probably not, with some few exceptions.

The evidence:
--How many PhD students in any field get to work as professors in that field? I know, in ecology and botany, it was on order of 1-5%. I'm one of the 95%.
--In PhD fields with substantial industrial sectors, how many PhD students get jobs in their field? For most, I'll bet it's --A good example: DPharm pharmacy education in California. Back around 2000, it was a growth field, everyone who wanted to could work 2 or more jobs straight out of college (one full time, one per diem), there were a few schools producing pharmacists, everyone got bonuses and paid off their >$100k student debt within five years. The inevitable result was that at least five more universities opened up pharmacy schools. Now, the students coming out are looking at requirements for post-PhD advanced credentials and residencies just to get ordinary pharmacist jobs. Meanwhile, the older crop of pharmacists is getting worried that they'll be laid off in favor of a younger, less experienced but more credentialed crop, who will do more for less money and won't expect job security. Sound familiar? This is what happens with market forces playing.

So why is there this constant anxiety about STEM education? It's quite simple:
--Industry prefers cheapwe tech workers, especially those who don't unionize because they're afraid it will affect their employability (good brainwashing, that).
--Universities have turned their professors into basically the owner/managers of small franchises (aka their labs) who have to both make payroll every month (pay their postdocs, researchers, and RAs), and pay upwards of half their grant revenues to the franchise owner (the university), who conveniently uses all that money flowing in to both fund new projects (aka careers for bureaucrats) and to support departments without grants (the humanities) who might otherwise complain and organize.
--Oh, and because the professors are so busy making money that they don't have time to teach, there's an inevitable shortage of teachers and researchers. This is solved by hiring grad students and adjunct faculty, who do most of the actual teaching and research now. Since these are short-term positions, there's always a shortage of them, so you need more STEM students coming in to make up for the inevitable shortfall.
--To keep the STEM students coming in when you're going to screw them over, you focus their attention on the prospect of tenured job security and the beauty of the material their learning, and get pesky organizations like grad student unions focused on improving the lives of grad students, rather than focusing on their employability. The whole "ivory tower" aspect of academia rather helps with this, because it attracts people who get obsessed with things, rather than looking at the bottom line.

Oh, and let's not forget academic publishing, which, last time I looked, was about an order of magnitude bigger in revenues than romance publishing. The reason is simple: publish or perish. And academic publishing runs on the vanity model, wherein authors pay to publish, sometimes thousands of dollars for a 2000 word article. Someone then pays to buy the journal (it's considered a sign of social inferiority to buy your own journals. The school should do it for you, using money coming from...). Status, pay, and grant-worthiness (among other things) come from the status of your articles, so there's a huge incentive to bring in lots of grant money to pay for articles to improve your ability to bring in lots of grant money. But if you're playing MoneyLab, you also need to attract a lot of young scientists to apprentice with you, so it's always wise to push STEM education as one of your causes of choice.

What did I miss?

54:

To feed their machines à la Matrix, maybe.
Atropos Logos@20's outline looks rather Underpants-Gnomish long-term until you start working out what could be done with large numbers of desperate unemployed humans. e.g. the Silicon Valley's (TV show) "blood boy", transferring not money but life and vitality from young to old. (Dunno if it works, probably it does, e.g. Blood from human teens rejuvenates body and brains of old mice) Or full organs; long sci-fi history including Niven's society that fosters organleggers. Solved eventually by the Puppeteers with boosterspice, for other reasons. (IIRC, not going to reread.)
Who has other such examples? I'm not feeling nearly cynical enough tonight, and being in the US am feeling slammed hard lately.

55:

The quick way to build a post scarcity society is to build a post people society. It's for our own good really.

56:

Um, all my examples were real. They always are.

@Host's twitter - mirrors crackin, people falling back on tired old "Conspiracy Theory" tropes (
Chemical Burn YT: Film Fight Club, 2:39 - don't do that, almost as sad as JK Rowling falling back into limp satire Lion critiques when she fell for the Murdoch WSJ attack vectors and her wealth is based on basically making Private Schools cool - oh, and her arch-Nemesis rabid racist blonde woman actually does have a brain tumor / bleed: it's all post-Swiftian).

Truly funny bit (that seems to have been memory holed):

Me: Hey, Host, here's the newest cryptocurrency thing, and it looks like it's a.... oh, yep, there's the scam in action, boooom. (Less than 24 hrs later).

Random Eth nut from the intarweb: Hey, Host! You wrote Accelerando (which, *innocent look*, kinda linked to), support our cause for the Singularity, Eth is like the start of it!!!

Host: Yeah. 12-18 years ago, really not feeling it, my next book features your kind as the bad guys -.-

Now that was comedy timing.

If you think that any of the current US issues are accidental, well. I've got the Dominionist Booklet right here.

Have courage.

p.s.

I'm not feeling nearly cynical enough tonight

Go look up chromium-6 in your water supply.

But almost 25 years after that real-life confrontation,[1] the conflict over chromium-6 is not over. A new EWG analysis of federal data from nationwide drinking water tests shows that the compound contaminates water supplies for more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states. Yet federal regulations are stalled by a chemical industry challenge that could mean no national regulation of a chemical state scientists in California and elsewhere say causes cancer when ingested at even extraordinarily low levels.

'Erin Brockovich' Carcinogen in Tap Water of More than 200 Million Americans EWG, Sept 2016


Holy Fuck, if you knew the truth, well... Let's just say: ICEBERGS MAN, ICEBERGS.

57:

And, to tie this in nicely:

Kate Hopkins, Brain Injury Twitter, Kate Hopkins, 21st June, 2017.

So, yes: That's the Daily Mail, "final solution", get rid of all the Muslims lady using the NHS to cure her traumatic brain injury while she preaches privatization / pro-Trump / pro-Tory nonsense and she even thanks the Nurses (who she wants either deported or made redundant or paid less).

Literally using Social Media to whip up her lively-hood (blame the Americans Ann Coulter for the mould she poured her lack of self-esteem into) while... oh, fuck it, you get it.

You're so far through the looking glass, it makes Jeff Noon (Vurt AMZN) seem normal.

Go Ask Alice YT: Music, Jefferson Airplane...


p.s.

Your society is literally a Mirror. And we're coming through...

58:

I'm not much of a comic book reader, but I'm enjoying The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Marvel) courtesy of a plug on Charlie's Twitter. I assume no money changed hands for said plug. . .

I know we're not talking about straightforward advertising here, but it strikes me that Social Media Influencer is a viable career now. (All those lifestyle bloggers plugging diet pills. Gag.) That a lot of people live their lives largely in social media silos getting their news-ish worldview from those bloggers, devoid of any semblance of traditional journalistic standards, would seem to be an interesting step-change.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/04/24/vanlife-the-bohemian-social-media-movement

I take it that the OP is really talking about dangling dishonest or misleading clickbait to an audience likely to signal boost it, hopefully taking it viral, then benefitting via the means and ends outlined @21.

It's that everyone's-a-publisher-now potential for virality which makes social media different. A stock scam which might once have required a boiler room full of phone operators or good connections with traditional media to plant a story can now be acheived by one guy in a basement.

Like every other dot.com, fake news creators seem to be reliant on advertising for revenue. This clown made thousands:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/us/fake-news-hillary-clinton-cameron-harris.html

59:

Assumes facts not in evidence. If we really had a massive wave of automation going on we would see a correspondingly massive growth in productivity. Productivity growth has been anemic in nations at the technological frontier for decades - the robot holocaust may come someday but right now it's not even breathing hard.

60:

Holy Fuck

I literally had no idea about hexavalent chromium.

We use to have friggin Potassium DiChromate handed out like fairy floss in High School. I came home literally covered in the stuff. We set fire to it and dumped burning magnesium in it for shits and giggles. There was a science demonstration that involved a plaster volcano, potassium dicromate and magnesium that was supposed to demonstrate tuff deposition. About a kg of the stuff and a roll of magnesium got dumped in the 'volcano' when the teacher wasn't looking. It looked like a flame thrower when he set it off. There was green potassium chromate six inches deep over half the classroom (along with god knows how much dichromate ejected during the demo.

LD 50 of 14mg/kg, there was probably enough to kill the whole school twice over in that jar.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_dichromate#Safety

61:

I actually thought I'd maxed out the bitter hatred I had for school and the dickheads who where my "teachers"

Now I find that they may actually end my life early or cause some sort of heritable shit to happen to my daughter.

Because they were such fuckwits that they couldn't even read an MSDS

Jesus wept.

62:

You are spot on with the origin of the "crying fire in a crowded theater" expression: It is the quintessential SCOTUS example that there are limitations to the 1st amendment.

The metaphor is the brainchild of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and he used it in a case in 1919 to illustrate that speech which is damaging AND false is not protected, whereas damaging AND true speech is.

I posed the question to Charlie because to me it looks like Our New Martian Overlords have acquired the unchallenged "human" right to yell fire in crowded theaters.

Exhibit A is obviously the tabloid/click-bait press, who get away with pouring gasoline on the bonfire of racism, sabotage important public health efforts (climate, vaccines) and piss on any human right they don't like (sexism)

Exhibit B, C, D & E is probably a tie between the tobacco/fossil fuels/agrochemical/pharma industries, each of which have peddled blatant falsehoods causing widespread damage, and laughed all the way to the bank.

And that's before we even consider their efforts to commandeer the levers of power through Fake News.

63:

Algorithmic Trading

A majority of buy/sell offers for shares these days are not real. They go into the queue of offers, but get cancelled within moments, before they are executed.

Because if you (well, your algorithm) waits to see what trades are actually executed, you are behind. So you watch the queue of buy/sell orders, and put in orders in advance that you might decide to cancel a few milliseconds later.

So algorithms execute fake orders to fool other algorithms. So algorithms expect orders will be fakes and try to guess what other algorithms are really up to.

Soon it all turns into a headgame about the offers, a madness of algorithms trying to provoke buys and sells by offering to buy and sell.

64:

You are being disingenuous by conflating a shortage of STEM graduates with a shortage of STEM PhDs.

I have no regrets about abandoning my PhD. But the Masters in Comp Sci that I picked up on the side has been great: not for the bit of laminated piece of paper but for the skills I learned getting it.

There is a real shortage of good IT people, in most areas. From sysadmins to app developers to web designers to enterprise DBAs.

Likewise in many STEM areas: practicing geologists are in demand, but does not mean lots of demand for more professors with geology PhDs. Engineers likewise, Food Tech people likewise.

But I don't know what ecologists build. What industry job were you expecting?

65:

Is there really a shortage of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians? Probably not, with some few exceptions.
Of course there fucking isn't.
What they mean is we want people under 35 &/or foreigners or both, whom it is much easier to cheat & who won't ask awkward questions.

I already had an HNC electronics & a BSc Physics - no employment, so I went & git an MSc in Engineering ( at age 44/45 ) I have had ZERO DAYS employment as a result of my qualifications - and "We can't get the trained staff"

66:

Pot Dichrom is very useful.
Just be very careful, though.

P.S. Zinc Dichromate is used as a corrosion inhibitor between Fe & Al based substances ( Like bolts in Land-Rovers ... )

67:

This is what frustrates me the most (see my earlier rant.) Certain parts of the media are vilifying and demonising the poor, migrants and anyone who goes against current public opinion, as well as sabotaging things that could be of real importance, all in the name of selling fear to the primitive parts of our brain. Add to this industries clouding the water on important issues for their own ends, with one industry going so far as to put a sympathetic President in place to screw up our entire planet for personal profit. These people are criminals and terrorists. They are not breaking the law or blowing people up, but they are doing far more damage. I am aware I'm getting dangerously close to conspiracy theory with all this, I know there is no single cohesive plan behind it all, just various people gaming the system for their own selfish need.

68:

Any advertising that relies on creating fear in order to sell products or engineer demand for new products. E.g. look at the history of listerine or toothpaste.

69:

I was thinking more that fistfights breaking out over who got a hood and who had to make do with holding their breath would create at least as many problems as they might have theoretically solved.

1. That's not generally how people behave in an emergency — especially towards family and neighbours (i.e. people they know).

2. BS certified smoke hoods cost £30 on amazon.co.uk. If you can buy it retail, it typically costs a third as much at the factory gate in Shenzhen in bulk, sometimes less; to provide 4 hoods per apartment for a 120-apartment block should thus cost on the order of £5000, i.e. peanuts (it's actually the amount the developers saved on Grenfell Tower by using cheap polystyrene-core cladding rather than rock wool insulation core cladding). Even if you add in the cost of 120 storage lockers (one per apartment) and another two lockers per floor, for 200-odd lockers as, say, £50 each (including paying a guy with a hammer drill for a month to fasten them to the walls) the total bill will be on the order of £10,000.

As the refurb bill for GT was over £10M, the cost of smoke hoods is basically lost in the noise (along with hiring portable toilets for the contractors). Even if you apply full retail cost, it adds only a couple of hundred quid to the price of each apartment. At that price there's no reason to underprovision the tower with smoke hoods and every reason to provide extras.

70:

You seem to be looking at smoke hoods with actual breathing gas supply for use aboard ships or planes. For building escape on land, it's basically a hood with a transparent visor and an activated charcoal filter good for a couple of minutes of keeping the toxic combustion products out of the wearer's lungs. An order of magnitude cheaper and doesn't require servicing (maybe recycle/replace every 5-10 years, but that's all).

71:

Yes. Not just confusing them, I had no idea these things existed.

The only on land gear I knew about was either mine self rescue gear They're tiny gadgets you carry on your belt to get you out, but an order of magnitude more expensive than the escape hoods. (and they last for hours...)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-contained_self-rescue_device

Or mine rescue gear big backpack gear that you use to go *toward* danger. They're an order of magnitude more expensive than the self rescue one.

http://biopak240r.com/

72:

Actually that's an exaggeration. The Biopak 240 is only US$13000

73:

Yup, putting a sufficiency of Biopak 240 type devices in every tower block would be ... challenging.

(But hoods with activated charcoal filters — cut-down gas masks — should be entirely affordable, in bulk.)

74:

Yep, absolutely. Even if they're a bit crap, they're still so much better than anything else that one might have to hand. I have no idea why they're not deployed exactly as you suggest.

75:

I have no idea why they're not deployed exactly as you suggest.

My hypothesis: it's normalization of risk at work. Compare attitudes to drunk-driving/wearing of seatbelts fifty years ago, and the relative levels of injury and death duty to them then and now: we used to tolerate carnage on the roads from easily-preventable causes that could be addressed by socially enforced behavioural change (stigmatization of drink-driving) and simple training (always belt up before driving).

Similarly, thousands of kids used to asphyxiate due to inhaling ballpoint pen caps, until an epidemiologist had the bright idea of manufacturing them with a 2mm hole in the end — not so big the ink would dry up, but big enough to let some air get through until first-aiders could remove the foreign object or apply a tracheotomy.

Stuff we take for granted as part of the cost of living (lead-inhalation-induced crime waves, drink-driving, kids suffocating on pen caps, tuberculosis killing 30% of the urban population) becomes inconceivable a generation or two later once we stop normalizing it and change our behaviour accordingly. And then we get asshole politicians promising to "cut red tape" to make life "easier for business" because they've normalized the state of people not dying of this shit, and have forgotten what the red tape is there for (to prevent idiots cladding tower blocks in rocket fuel and ripping out all the firewalls).

76:

Is there really a shortage of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians? Probably not, with some few exceptions.
Of course there fucking isn't.

Beg to differ - there's a shortage of good scientists, engineers, and mathematicians - but then, you never have enough "good people" for the jobs available.

I've conducted interviews for various engineering firms; all too often, the applicant just hasn't got the skills needed (soft, technical, or both) and doesn't realise it (but, but, I've got a degree!).

What they mean is we want people under 35 &/or foreigners or both, whom it is much easier to cheat & who won't ask awkward questions... I have had ZERO DAYS employment as a result of my qualifications

Please don't take this the wrong way, Greg (not having met you in person), but have you considered that it might not be your technical skills, but that you might come across as a challenging individual to manage? The "atypical" will always come off as a risk at interview, and one man's "awkward questions" are another's "he just won't listen"

I'm 50, and have been in permanent employment as an engineer over the thirty years since graduation (bar five months after the 2002 bursting of the telecoms bubble). Two years ago, I had grey hair and a lived-in face, and was interviewed by two younger engineers for my current post - no-one has ever suggested that I'm "too old", or "too expensive", or "not foreign enough". My last job was alongside 40-odd engineers, most of similar age and experience, and the site ran a constant search for high-quality candidates (they've had one software job open for several months now, and they pay top-decile wages).

77:

People commenting on fire safety in UK high-rise, please note: the fire brigade does know how to fight high-rise fires. I heard one fire brigade spokesperson say that they deal with two or three fires every week in residential high-rise in London. Almost all of them are contained within a single flat and put out quickly and without casualty.
Grenfell Tower was different for several reasons, of which one is very well known (the combustible cladding) and others less so. For example, apparently the dry riser was inoperable! A "dry riser" is a pipe running up through a building into which water can be pumped at high pressure at the base of the building, usually by the pump in a fire appliance: hoses on each floor are - or can be - connected to it. This was attested in several eyewitness interviews on the day, but has strangely disappeared down the memory hole; presumably the public inquiry will cast some light on it. If true, this is a really big deal: it meant the fire brigade was completely unable to douse the fire on the upper stories, and basically had to let it burn out (so in pictures of the fire you can see appliances spraying water from the outside up to the 6th or 7th story, rather than water being sprayed from the inside, all the way up the building). If somebody in a position of authority (e.g. at RBKC or KCTMO) decided to make or leave the dry riser inoperable, that person should (and plausibly will) go to jail for a long time.
Of course this story indicates a single-point-of-failure which is bad: buildings should have various fire protection systems in place to cope with a busted dry riser, and large fire brigades should have equipment to substitute for an inoperable riser. But to paint the picture as "ha ha, UK clueless about fire safety" is wrong-headed.
Chilling listen here, from about 14:50: two fire experts and a journalist look at a tower block in Newham.

78:

we used to tolerate carnage on the roads from easily-preventable causes

Used to? When did you stop, in the UK? I can tell you for a fact that down here in Australia we still enthusiastically embrace the "right" to speed, follow too close, talk on the phone while driving and so on while calling the deaths that inevitably follow "the road toll"... down here every road is a toll road.

79:

...and because the professors are so busy making money that they don't have time to teach...

For clarity, I assume that these are US universities? I wonder whether your assertions are a US cultural thing that shouldn't be treated as a universal truth.

While I'm thirty years away from University (and accept that it may have been unusual, or that things may have changed for the worse), I still remember getting undergraduate lectures from some seriously heavyweight researchers. Peter Denyer (developed the first practical digital camera) ran a really good lecture course in the EE Department; Robin Milner (a Turing Award winner) lectured on undergraduate courses in the CS department; I had Sidney Michaelson as a tutor in my first year.

80:

the site ran a constant search for high-quality candidates (they've had one software job open for several months now, and they pay top-decile wages).

Same here. We may shortly be looking to hire and management are already crying into their beer about the cost and time required to find someone. I alternate between feeling underpaid and looking at the national income distribution and feeling vaguely guilty. Albeit I'm at the upper quintile rather than decile because my boss has an issue with paying anyone six figures (yes, I get paid very close to $99,999).

That said, we also have rather too many companies operating on exactly the level Greg talks about. I have been to a "group interview" for a senior software engineer role. There are companies around who are notorious for providing the initial year or two experience to new graduates who leave as soon as they can find a better job.

This article has a wee gimmick to let you guess where your household income puts you in the rankings. Sadly, as with all such things, it does not work for share houses. Viz, when your household is composed of independent adults the number is extremely misleading. Six people earning the median wage puts you in the top 20% of household incomes, for example, or twice that many on the dole. It's only slightly better for households with employed, adult "children" living at home and multi-generational households ("traditional marriages") in general.

81:

Many social media companies have been accused of inflating user numbers, which amounts to a fraud on investors.

I dimly recall allegations of pre-tinder dating sites flooding (hetero-) sites with phony sock puppet accounts featuring photos of attractive women, either to create a misleading impression of gender balance when most genuine users were male, or to keep male users on the hook and paying subscription fees. There might have been some basic interactivity from either cheap third world call centre labour or very crude bots offering some sweet talk to the suckers.

In those cases it's company insiders fleecing investors and users, but with sufficiently sophisticated bots, plus maybe a dash of click fraud, an outside scammer could inflate a company's user numbers and growth rate, run the stock price up, then short before yanking the bots and watching the stock tank.

82:

If it bleeds it leads has led to a form of crying fire in the media. By constantly presenting cases of extreme violence culled from an entire country without giving any statistical context the media has led the viewing public to believe that crime is at an all time high domestically when it is actually the opposite. That is a form of crying fire for money.

83:

You could, actually have a point there ... except for one slight problem.

Getting to "the interview" in the first place.

The Human Remains departments automatically weed out all the oldies & 50% of the women, even before starting to think about interviews.

84:

Backwards into ignorance & superstition
I assume the USA won't be far behind?
[ Let's not mention the DUP, either! ]

85:

Not my experience from either side of the recuitment process.

I entered employment as an engineer with my current employer aged 52 (after about 20 years of contracting, which I was regulalrly informed made me unemployable on a permanent basis in itself!), since then I've interviewed, recommended offers to, and seen offers accepted by people older than myself on a regular basis.

I'm still getting regular approaches for (admittedly quite senior) "hands on" engineering positions from headhunters now some 5 years later and (while some have expressed a degree of nervousness) others in my age cohort seem to be managing OK too.

86:

One similar to the example in the start to the thread
.
A Conservative PM is well ahead in the polls, two years in to a five year term. A consortium shorts the future positions of companies that do very well out of having tories in power. Privatised utilities, railways, outsourcing companies, health companies and so on. PM calls a totally unneccessary general election, then proceeds to deliberately throw it. Robotic repeatative no answers in interviews. Avoiding any contact with ordinary unwashed voters. A manifesto that has no carrots, only more sticks and targets the biggest group of voters likely to support them by potentially confiscating their houses. Election lost. Profit!

Perhaps the reason why Theresa May has been looking so glum these last couple of weeks is that she failed and is still PM.

87:

Of course, this assumes that markets don't just take a default position that most users are bots.

*cough* twitter *cough*

88:

I assume the USA won't be far behind?
This is off topic, but so are many comments.
No, not at the national level, at least not without a fight. Turkey is the only major country where creationism/evolution denialism is more prevalent than the US (at least in 2008) and they are going down that route because of their current consolidation of power at the top.
[clipped detailed discussion of US dynamics in past, since pre-300]

There is probably a good summary treatment of this in the US legal literature but I haven't found it (very cursory search). Here are a few links:
US states consider laws allowing Creationism to be taught by science teachers
and a long wikipedia article with a pile of references (edit history is useful):
Creation and evolution in public education in the United States

89:

Nope.

Or I wouldn't keep getting emails from headhunters eager to place me somewhere, for the commission it would bring them...

90:

Moz: reported road casualties in GB.

Not eliminated, but reduced significantly — to about a third of their peak level (during WW2, when blackout was enforced and drivers weren't used to it).

Using a non-hands-free phone behind the wheel now carries a six point penalty (twelve to lose your license) and a hefty fine; if Theresa May hadn't cut police numbers by 30% it might even be enforced broadly.

91:

Perhaps the reason why Theresa May has been looking so glum these last couple of weeks is that she failed and is still PM.

Nope. The reason May is still PM is that right now the job is such a poisoned chalice that none of her own party rivals want to take it away from her! They're all waiting for the Brexit wagon to explode in flames before they step in and (they hope) rescue it. Or failing that, lose gracefully to the Other Mob, who can be conveniently blamed for it when the idiots who voted for it realize how bad it is.

Seriously, no Tory politician in their right mind would want to be PM right now. It's a nightmare, and May made it her own.

92:

So what? I had a couple of future presidential advisors for my lecturers at UC Berkeley. They weren't the best teachers I had, although they were far from the worst.

While we don't have the British equivalent of a tutor, in the US, the professors mostly lecture. While I happen to enjoy lecturing, it's one of the more inefficient methods of education around, because there's little feedback from the students to help you tailor your teaching to make sure each student gets it. Nowadays they're replacing lectures with videos.

The most effective form of teaching is one-on-one, aka tutoring, but it's massively too expensive for mass education. In US schools, you typically have one grad student TA for every 20-24 students, plus a professor/lecturer for the whole class. It's rare but not unheard-of for a professor to take one of the TA slots, and these are typically upper division classes.

Is this suboptimal? Of course it is. I've tutored kids and taught them in an afternoon more than they learned in class (lecture and lab) in a month. The problem is money. Schools can't lose too much money on a class and keep offering it. They have to cover lab costs and pay the teachers, and professors cost a lot more per hour than do grad students. Therefore, the optimal way to teach is to minimize the professors' time, put as much as possible on the grad students, and minimize lab costs.

Now they're even experimenting with remote learning systems (cf MOOCs and their successors) to lower costs still further. Something like a MOOC might work great in, say, computer science, but I don't want to have a surgeon who learned human anatomy in a MOOC operating on me, nor do I want county plant pathologists who have only seen pathogens on the screen looking for pests in the field.

I'm picking on these two (out of many) because human cadavers for teaching labs are always in short supply (and need regular maintenance or they rot), and programs like plant pathology and entomology are disappearing all over the country, because it's expensive to maintain the teaching collections and the university CEOs (I'm using that term deliberately) cannot pencil out why they should maintain any expensive specialist programs that only a few people use. The answer is to prevent famine, but preventing famine doesn't get a budget line unless there's a federal program backstopping the costs.

That, incidentally, answers why education ecologists of all stripes is dropping: it's expensive to maintain real teaching labs, and while everyone except the oil industry and some developers can see the need, guess who's funding the Republican party, who in turn are making decisions on the state and national levels?

93:

Bingo!

1. I have a B.Sc in comp & inf sci. I started programming in '80. Between end of July '01 and Jan '06, I worked a TOTAL of about 6 mos (one of which I'll never get paid for). And the longer you're out of work, the less recruiters want to talk to you. Around '04 or so, I *literally* had an asshole tell me I "wasn't fresh". I was so mad, esp. since the job specs seemed like it was written for me, personally, I hauled back, and hit her with, "so, if you took a year off to have a kid, would you no longer ever be employable in your field, because you 'weren't fresh'? She had the grace to be taken aback and apologize.

And HR are 90% staffed by ignorant assholes. The worst I saw, when I was looking in '09, was Grumman, who didn't want a cover letter, wanted to slurp up your resume (doc only, of course), and they *said* on the web page they'd do a FUCKING DATABASE SEARCH FOR PRIME CANDIDATES!!!!!!!

2. Absolutely, they don't want to pay for qualified. Just a couple years ago, a guy who'd worked for Oracle, Indian, sued Oracle, when he found out about an email from upper management saying "we can pay him $10k US less than other folks doing the same job".

3. About training... https://krebsonsecurity.com/2017/06/why-so-many-top-hackers-hail-from-russia/ and Brian Krebs is one of, if not the, most respected security journalist in the US. Among his notes is that in Russia, EVERY middle school and high school have classes, required and optional. In the US, of 42k high schools, about 2100 of them have anything.

94:

Charlie, I hadn't thought of why Russia was after the US this way. I was thinking that reason #1 was to pay us back for what we, and the West, did to the USSR. The positive economic impact, along with the negative of payback, and weakening of the US and the West (did they do something for Leave?), would certainly explain it.

95:

But mostly, big Pharma doesn't *want* to develop vaccines. Big expense of development, and then one shot, and it's done. They like something you need to keep paying for.

A year or two ago, one big company was denied a patent in India because it was no better than their existing drug... which was about to go out of patent. Think of the billions, or at least hundreds of millions, to develop that waste of time.

96:

You wrote: p.s.

You're watching The United States of America die, right now, as it happens, if you're paying attention.

On MSNBC today, excerpt:
"in the morning. "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski said Friday that it feels like there is a "dictatorship developing" in the United States, prompting co-host Joe Scarborough to suggest she should not say that out loud.

I will say, you can do some work reading history, and reading books about how dictatorships happen, the development of very negative forces taking over, and what you are seeing is either this happening right now, or someone who's not well. There's very few options."
--- end excerpt ---

http://freebeacon.com/politics/brzezinski-feels-like-a-dictatorship-developing-in-u-s/

We're on a fucking knife edge.

97:

I've been referring to it as the "post-Adamic society" (no longer need to earn your living by the sweat of your brow)), and trying to get people to talk about it for literally 20+ years. It's only in the last year or two that people are starting.

Note that there's almost *ZERO* consideration of what the hell we do with our lives when we're not working to stay alive....

98:

Dunno... I don't think you mentioned the folks who are ahead of all of that, which are the ones who have their servers within blocks of the exchanges, and so can beat out everyone else by micro or nanoseconds, since speed of light does come into play.

99:

On academia as ponzi scheme: yeah, a bit. [I run a US-academic neuroscience lab at a public university.] The research funding requires data, which requires grad students, who require money (although to be fair not much); also rats, who cost rather more. And yes, the institition is (increasingly) focussed on specifically federal grants, which carry large overhead costs.

But: my salary doesn't rely on bringing in grants; I teach [me, personally - ALL the classes are faculty, not grad students; and this has been true at all of my institutions, from Ivies on down] and generally to small classes [15-30; only the 100-level intro classes are huge.] Teaching is a big part of promotion and tenure, albeit not as big as $$. I am very open about job and career prospects in the field, especially for my PhD students - but to be fair, all my lab alumni do have well-paid, interesting jobs in the field. Not as dire, yet, as the post would suggest.

100:

It isn't impossible that she will lose the vote on the Queen's speech, which will force her to offer her resignation (unless she chooses to ignore protocol). What happens then? More likely, she will lose a vote on the Great Repeal Bill or similar, which will be even more confusing.

101:

Please delete this if you don't want to follow this path, but one classic, generic example of what you say is the Big Lie. The latest one is the Saudi Arabia / Israel / USA claim that Iran is behind most 'Islamic' terrorism (fill in the rest). It looks as if Trump gave Saudi Arabia the go-ahead to attack Qatar (a neutral), because it will not play ball, and said that he would take action if Iran supported Qatar. And similarly for Israel and Gaza, though that is merely a humanitarian disgrace, not a military one.

102:

I am not enough of an academic or student of the field to speak on the subject with any sort of authority but I have thought for some time that higher or tertiary education (ObUS: post-K12) is structurally broken.

The classic college/university degree granted for several years of study after examination is a marker of education rather than learning and I'm not sure that education is actually much use outside an educational institute (such as a university). Traditionally unless a degree holder stays within the educational world as a tutor, lecturer and/or researcher the degree itself doesn't seem worth the dollar price ticket. Outside the cloistered halls today the degree per se is often seen as a simple marker for ability to learn and frankly it isn't even very good in that limited role.

Vocational schools that aren't academic but have the cachet of the top educational establishments might be the answer. A two-year certificate course (24 months of targetted mostly-practical syllabus) on, say, system engineering would be cheaper and more desirable for many employers than a three or four year informatics degree even with a six-month internship or secondment in industry. Sure the informatics degree will be wider in scope and produce a more well-rounded individual but that's not what will pay back the student loans when the CV rubber hits the HR road, assuming that posited 24-month certificate fits employer's needs as well or better.

The bad news is that any such vocational schools don't have that cachet for various reasons. The price might be part of the problem, being too cheap to be regarded as worthwhile by many on both sides of the interview table.

103:

Somewhat on topic, but not sure Host is above crying Fire! himself.

Dare you look? GO ON SCROLL DOWN I DARES YE!

1 shaft, 4 heads: The echidna’s penis. PYGMY LORIS, blog (good one), July 2012. NSFW if you're bothered by animal willies.

And yes, there's a video.

Note: #1 The male appendage is remarkably sized for the size of the critter (at least, as well as I understand such things), #2 It's prehensile! It moves around like it's searching for warmth! Cute![1] #3 Happiest looking echidnas we've seen, his face is all like "Ohhh Yeah, tickle me right there".

There's weirder ones:

On average, the songs of M. scholtzi reached 78.9 decibels, comparable to a passing freight train.

'Singing penis' sets noise record for water insect BBC June 2011

However, this one is the strangest / most Alien, imo. It's literally a multi-stage grab and deliver system (has pictures):

P. cuulong is the most recently discovered species of 22 known priapiumfish, a family whose males have replaced their penises with muscular priapia, formed from the modified bones of the pectoral and pelvic fins. In addition to an anal opening and a genital pore, the priapium includes a rod and a serrated hook for grabbing a female’s head to keep her throat, and its oviduct opening, close to the genital pore.

Meet Phallostethus cuulong, The Fish With Elaborate, Multi-Part Genitals On Its Chin Discover Magazine, July 2012.

On a related to topic note, "weird penis" is BIG, HUUUGE SEO gold. So many many pages, so many top ten lists.


[1] Replacing prior bets on cat / fox ears / genes, *this* is the biomedical startup that will make billions. Prehensile willies are the future[2]

[2] Not even joking: Men, we need to talk about sperm Guardian 23rd June 2017

[3] Hidden in all this shlock (well: cuteness but I'm sure this response might vary) Worldwide revenue of Pfizer's Viagra from 2003 to 2016 (in million U.S. dollars) Statistica - although the profit is only $1.8 bil / year (averaged), it effectively doubled the companies stock price on launch, even though it's only its 6th largest sales product.

When Viagra was launched in 1998, Pfizer's share price doubled. It was apparent that there was a huge previously untapped market out there.

Viagra: the hard sell BBC, 2005

TL;DR

Willies work as a major Fire! Hose of profitability.

104:

The speed of light is roughly 30 centimetres (one foot in old money) per nanosecond.

The real high frequency traders compete brutally for adjacent slots in the same rack as the exchange backbone, never mind being within a block of the exchange!

105:

Right. Actually, the effective delay is several nanoseconds a foot, because the transmission speed in copper (used within racks) is about half the limit, and most protocols need a round trip. Using optical fibre doesn't help, because of the delays in the conversion logic.

106:

And similarly for Israel and Gaza, though that is merely a humanitarian disgrace, not a military one.

Well, that's a first - me being more critical of a military than you ;)

When I saw some of the early news footage of Operation CAST LEAD, I nearly shouted at the TV - because what I saw was unequivocally the use of White Phosphorous in a built-up area. That was the point (to me) that the Israeli Army lost its claim to holding the moral high ground.

You do not call smoke missions without knowing exactly what is going to arrive on target (emission smoke or "instant" smoke, i.e. WP). You do not call for fire missions into a densely built-up area and call it "surgical", or "precise", or any other euphemism that suggests that any resulting civilian deaths are somehow not your fault.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not suggesting that artillery is never appropriate. I'm suggesting that Gaza City, unevacuated, with a UN compound in the middle of the target area, is not the place to employ an area weapon. Any army officer who ordered such a fire mission, or allowed it to be ordered; should IMHO have been sacked as unfit, if not prosecuted.

It was a military disgrace.

107:

Some (perhaps all?) exchanges give every rack on a co-location floor a cable that is the same length, to equalize all such customers. The stories I heard were one-customer-per-rack, perhaps not always true.

First source I found in a quick search; it will do: You'd Better Know Your High-Frequency Trading Terminology
Interestingly, an exchange’s co-location clients receive the same amount of cable length regardless of where they are located within the exchange premises, so as to ensure that they have the same latency.

108:

I should clarify - Sabra and Shatila could be argued to be a sin of omission. The shelling of various UN Compounds, and resulting deaths of UN Observers; or beating up rock-throwers, could almost (almost) be put down to the incompetence of a conscript army. Employing a laser-guided weapon against a specific building in a city can even be claimed to be "precision".

However, firing unguided artillery into a densely-populated area (as opposed to a chunk of countryside) is not something that can be waved away with claims of "it was the fault of Hamas".

109:

It was a military disgrace.

I should like to note that the Gaza Strip as a whole has about the same land area as Leeds (minus suburbs) ... and about double the population. In other words, it's equivalent to a British city for population density — way denser than an American city, unless you look at something like downtown Chicago or Manhattan.

So yeah: unguided artillery into a densely populated urban area. And you bet the officers commanding the batteries in question aren't conscripts (the IDF upper levels want to get rid of conscription, and the officer corps is entirely professional these days).

110:

Sabra and Shatila could be argued to be a sin of omission
I'm curious; how could Sabra and Shatila be argued as a sin of omission? Not interested in a full re-litigation, just curious since you're military and might have an argument I haven't heard before.

111:

OK, giggled out loud.
Are you aware of the work on reproductive isolation (and resulting speciation) due to divergent genital morphology? (First heard about this with dragonflies.)
170 Years of “Lock-and-Key”: Genital Morphology and Reproductive Isolation (2012)
In this paper, I present a brief history of the “lock-and-key” hypothesis, summarize the evidence for the involvement of genital morphology in different mechanisms of reproductive isolation, discuss progress in identifying the molecular and genetic bases of species differences in genital morphology, and discuss prospects for future work on the role of genitalia in speciation.

112:

Australia has reduced our toll by a factor of three since 1970, but that's still throwing another 1200 bodies on the pile every year. The UK only killing 2000-odd a year is significantly better but it depends a great deal on which end you look at it from. The 2000 or 1200 are still dead.

You're saying "yay, fewer!", I'm saying "there's so many obvious things that could lower that".

Sadly the obvious things aren't easy (because our road operators are not idiots). The problems are social rather than technical, most obviously the regular campaigns against speed limits, but we have worse issues with emissions than you do, and the same stupid arguments about the inevitability of deaths when idiots are encouraged to behave dangerously. "Top Gear" being one long advertisement for the joys of killing people, for example.

As someone who has chosen not to drive, in part because of the human cost of doing so, it peeves me that almost everyone else so vigorously defends their right to impose that cost on me.

113:

how could Sabra and Shatila be argued as a sin of omission?

Just guessing here, but: the camp massacres happened when the Israeli army didn't go in, but allowed their allies — Lebanese phalangist militias — access to the camps. The IDF could have prevented (and arguably had a duty to prevent) the massacres, in other words, but didn't actually carry them out.

Bombarding the Gaza Strip with artillery ... nope, they totally owned that, no excuses.

114:

And I think you're pointing out why the old-school epidemiologists (plant and animal, possibly human), as well as the old-school field biologists, are getting shown the door. For example, plant pathology departments are either getting shut down or turned into purely molecular facilities, because pure lab work has massively higher overhead and faster through-put than field experiments.

What I did in grad school would never work in academia now: my experiments took a solid year to set up and run, per replicate (I was working on greenhouse microcosms where I had to grow plants and mycorrhizal fungi in different combinations). There's a need to know that kind of stuff, but since it was cheap, slow, and took up a lot of space, it's not as cost-effective as something that's compact, expensive, and fast, because the latter generates more grants. The budget I used on one project was about equivalent to what some of the bigger molecular labs would use to train an undergrad intern on some new procedure (I found this out by chatting with said undergrad while we happened to be working in the same lab).

Now we could sigh about the good old days, and I'll admit that not a lot of people are interested in doing better ecological restorations (where you need those big, slow experiments). Still, I'd gently suggest that everybody should be worried about a shortage of trained epidemiologists and entomologists. California alone is seeing 75 new pest insects hitting the state every year. Most of them don't establish very well, but every once in a while we get a polyphagous shot hole borer.

And there's another, critical question: where's all that overhead money going? Who profits with costs growing well in excess of inflation?

115:

You're saying "yay, fewer!", I'm saying "there's so many obvious things that could lower that".

You know that in the 19th century roughly 30% of the UK urban population died of tuberculosis, right?

TB was pandemic in part due to poor sanitation, damp housing, and people living cheek-by-jowl with urban horses which were a huge TB reservoir. It went into decline before vaccination really got going thanks to the rise of the automobile.

3000 road deaths a year is tragic, but doesn't really compare to 300,000 people a year asphyxiating as their lungs disintegrated inside them, does it?

See, back then dying of TB was "normal" — see the whole pre-Raphaelite shtick — and in the 20th century, a lot of people dying in traffic accidents was also "normal", just as in the 18th century small-sword dueling was "normal".

Normal is not the same as inevitable.

116:

Yes, but I'm now 71, not 61 (!)

117:

Yes, the Lebanese christians did all the killing, but it WUZ the EVVILLL JEWS who were to blame (!)
Or so went the left-wing propaganda at the time, anyway.
Don't care, actually, it was still a war crime ( I think )

118:

Yes, the Lebanese christians did all the killing,...
Oh, fwiw I agree that the anti-Israel arguments for this particular case were pretty weak. I think that era was my first knowing exposure to polished competing arguments from competing narratives honed over decades. (A Zionist girlfriend patiently and honestly explained the narratives.)

119:

I'm curious; how could Sabra and Shatila be argued as a sin of omission? Not interested in a full re-litigation, just curious since you're military

For clarity, ex-reservist. I wouldn't want to portray myself as anything more.

The Kahan Commission summed it up - you could argue cognitive bias, fatigue, incompetence on the part of the IDF units nearby - as "indirect responsibility". They weren't pulling triggers; but they looked the other way.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kahan_Commission

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-kahan-commission-of-inquiry

120:

I'm somewhat aware of the basics of it, it's not really a specialty. But sure, I understand the way in which mass differentiation occurs (radial niches, sexual selection pressures etc). I skimmed that piece, I'll do a refresher soon.

I was far more interested in the male responses to body horror (sigh, someone mentioned pregnancy as symbiotic parasite, not accurate, -10k points for the obvious mistake): to spell it out - if you simply google "echidna penis", the majority of the pictures (barring one splendid artistic rendition with some frankly homoerotic angle and coloring which is almost certainly a #rule34 piece of work rather than a text book illustration: this one[1] (NSFW - it's a picture of a weird willy, alright?) are flaccid and limp / hanging.

Which means, if you've not watched the video, you've no idea at the actual body horror potential / cuteness. Having watched the video, men could then imagine their own penises (if they physically have one (insert gender discussion somewhere else for once)) playing by the same rules. (Oh, and Cthulhu isn't about sexual horror, which Alien 100% is. If you wanted to get psychological / Freudian horror it'd be that your animated penis and you fell in love with each other in a narcissistic pairing. But I digress, these are the tiny tot terrors that lower Minds fear[2]).

~


Back on topic: Fire! Derivatives Again (which will tie into weird penises):


Derivatives market is short of a $3.7tn lifeboat FT, Feb 10th, 2017

Are we heading toward another subprime mortgage crisis? CNN, Mar 15th, 2017

Chair’s letter to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors ahead of their Baden-Baden meeting FSB, 17th Mar, 2017

How a GOP bill could cause the next financial crisis Politico, 26th April, 2017

Semiannual OTC derivatives statistics BIS, 6th June, 2017

Exchange-traded futures and options, by currency BIS, 6th June, 2017 - PDf, 1 page. Take a looooong hard look at the growth going on there.


In finance terms, this !FIRE! is like an echidna penis. Very few know they exist, and those who do (and consider the risks attached) usually only really consider the flaccid, limp one which (DRUM-ROLL PUNCHLINE) they imagine functions like their penis (insert: finance / banking sector), only with four valves / tubes instead of one.

The issue is, of course: the people who watch the video / read the actual stats know that they're actually a prehensile, self-motile, almost sentient snake monster that actively seeks out warm flesh on its own (seriously: go look at the video - the animal is blissed out, totally passive while the motile penis probes the air and spooky bit: avoids the hand grasping the animal...[4])

This is an excellent analogy of central banks (blissed out passive) vrs derivatives (not under anyone's real control, waaaarp flesh beastie looking for love).

And yeah: $222 trillion or so[3] (go look at the PDFs, +16 in 3 months compared to +3 in 12 months prior is not exactly mild)

TL;DR


Men fear the implied body-horror without watching the actual version. It's much much worse; that's the actual !FIRE! one that will either make you a billionaire, or blow the world up (again).


And yes: Global First - Derivatives and Enchinda Penis analogy, totally checks out, solid.

#FreddyMercuryDabbPose2017

[1] The humorous thing here is that it's from a website. I quote:

Many mammals have penises that are more impressive than human penises, however, the echidna takes the cake. Despite many larger animals having large penises, smaller animals have more interesting penises. Some are corkscrews, some have barbs, and some, like the echidna, have multiple heads.

I have never really understood the reason for this, and would be interested in being educated about penises.

Are there any resident experts on penises?
inb4RC

http://sep7agon.net/the-flood/(nsfw)-penis-thread-(for-science)/ (Yes: that's a gaming forum. Literally the best art work for enchinda penises is on a gaming forum.)


[2] No, really. "When models go bad, cost you much, it will".

[3] From memory / cba to open up more files until after lunch. It's probably more by now.

[4] 100% true. Watch the video. Next time you look down... it might wink back.

122:

And, since we're doing body horror: this is why you don't put sentient mammals in tiny pools because they get bored and go a bit whacky / insane: Dolphin self masturbates with beheaded fish YT: reality, 0:44.

Look at the title: it's NSFW. Yes, it's a fish being used as a fleshlight by a dolphin (actually one of the kinds without the most prehensile penises, but that's irony for you). And yes, the human put a comedy sound track on it. And yes: I now know waaaaay too much about prehensile penises now.

Bonus round:

https://www.reddit.com/r/cospenis/ NSFW: REALLY, DOES WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN. There is an entire community devoted to placing their appendages into costumes. What's genius is that you can tell the plucky amateurs (some using black marker pens which !?!?!?!!) against the actual professionals: My GF said I need to be more thoughtful and stop thinking with my dick. So I made her a thoughtful calendar for her birthday. [NSFW] Imgur, 12 images. Brilliant design / inventive backdrops, NSFW. July / September favorites, but of course January is Trump.

Oh, and there's a sub-set who enjoy literal puppetry rather than just dress up (dolphin tie-in) but I fear this might be all too much.

TL;DR


You humans are weird.

123:

(And no: if you've not noticed, neither an expert on willies nor derivatives. However, it appears not many are, including the ones playing around with them)

124:

Apologies for the flood, but really:

You just got an echidna penis dodging the hand of the market joke coupled with derivatives blowing up the world economy.

(And the best part: both are true).

125:

Having watched the video, men could then imagine their own penises (if they physically have one (insert gender discussion somewhere else for once)) playing by the same rules.
Since you asked, watched (NSFW has meaning even if not using work network); not bothered in the slightest, and a bit curious about what it would be like to have one of those. There is a small bit of autonomy even in the human male apparatus. Yeah, I can see enormous piles of [money-of-future] if retrofits are possible, marketed using fears of inadequacy.
Anyway, at least as interesting was the bit about sperm races as a team sport, with multitudes of small 100-sperm teams from up to 10 males competing. (Found One‐Sided Ejaculation of Echidna Sperm Bundles - Sperm bundling appears to confer increased sperm motility, which may provide the potential for sperm competition between males.)

I am also reminded of the start of Riders of the Purple Wage, Dangerous Visions, Phillip Jose Farmer, collection curated by Harlan Ellison, 1967 (need to reread in full, interesting story collection):
Prehensile, the penisnake wraps itself around the brush and begins to paint.
...
Furiously, proboscisean, it builds up another figure layer by layer. Then, it sniffs a musty odor of must and drops the brush and slides out the door and down the bend of wall of oval hall, describing the scrawl of legless creatures, a writing in the sand which all may read but few understand.
Google books has more, and there is a pdf probably not legal so no link but a search on text will find it.
Also, Stanislaw Lem treated post-human sexual morphology fads in The Star Diaries (or maybe a sequel) and then there is the infamous first line of Steel Beach. ("'In five years the penis will be obsolete', said the salesman")

126:

But, it the GOP's shortsighted greed triggers a n other financial crisis, then they will get the blame & really be thrown out this time ( If they are lucky that is, & don't end up as lamp-post decorations )
Or are they so greedy that they don't care/notice?

127:

Don't go there ...

Awful ancient joke cartoon ..

Two sperms swimming away, ok?
Speech bubbles:

S1: "Phew I'm tired, how much further?"
S2: "Long way to go to the uterus, I'm afraid, we've only just passed the tonsils" (!)

128:

That FT link is blocked by their unusually sophisticated paywall.

The CNN piece is interesting, but should be taken with a pinch of salt.

"Now, with its huge portfolio of mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie and Freddie, the Fed gives aid and comfort to the affordable housing lobby that created the subprime mortgage mess and the financial crisis. . .

. . .Before the crisis, there was some market discipline, however imperfect it was, because potential buyers of mortgages would look at their quality carefully.

No expertise here, but this is a right wing canard, put about by those who regard market failure as an impossibility. Yes, government mortgage guarantees drive up house prices and Fannie and Freddie were horribly mismanaged pre-GFC, but the crisis was overwhelmingly driven by the cesspit of fraud, moral hazard and willful blindness on Wall street. The idea that anyone was carefully scutinising mortgages is laughable. If they were, it was a handful of sharp players looking to game the models of the ratings agencies when bundling mortgages for securitised bonds, or short the market. Naive mortgage backed bond buyers relied on the ratings agencies' AAA stamp on toxic junk.

129:

There has been quite a bit of consideration of what we do on retirement, and when going half-time in preparation for it.

Various SF authors have considered it.

I make photographs, garden a little, read (which requires that someone wrote) and can imagine a lot of people doing inefficient food production and preparation and art of various sorts in their discretional time.

And there is sport.

130:

CNN is propaganda - literally. Perhaps the only place where Trump and I share thoughts.

Anyhow, this is the !FIRE! call apparently:

On Wednesday, Banco Santander stepped in to take over Popular for 1 euro, leaving stock and bondholders with losses of about 3.3 billion euros after regulators -- saying the bank was failing -- sought a rescue that would avoid a taxpayer bailout. Santander Chairman Ana Botin named Chief Financial Officer Jose Cantera to replace Saracho as chairman of what is now its Popular unit.

Mission Impossible: Saving Banco Popular Too Much for Saracho Bloomberg, 7th June, 2017

You can hit your doom pr0n needs with a piece from The Economic Collapse blog: The Next Financial Crisis Has Already Arrived In Europe, And People Are Starting To Freak Out ECB, June 12th, 2017 - useful because of link aggregation (and, of course: the sky has been falling continuously there since 2008, so, bucket of salt required). Interesting piece on Illinois there, apparently their budget process has entirely broken down after 700+ days without a passed budget. (More GOP / Dem civil war to blame).

TL;DR

Same old issues, same old domino effect, same old reasons.


Link to crackpot site (that might not actually be as crackpot as it appears, looks like Prof Abraham J. Briloff actually spent retirement there as a hobby) that has obsessive links (and no adverts): ASSOCIATION FOR ACCOUNTANCY AND BUSINESS AFFAIRS AABA blog - yellow & blue text, the go-to for webdesign of the overly-focused. Has some interesting links on Sandstorm and lots of Qatar / UAE / UK web tracing. Which may-or-may-not be relevant to the current trends there.

131:

Greg I have similar educational experience to you. ONC medical laboratory science,,BSc chemistry, MSc Clinical Biochemistry at age 40. Without the MSc I wouldn't have even been shortlisted for my last job.

132:

I got my last job at the age of 53. Perhaps the NHS are more enlightened than private employers. Any interviews I've been involved with on the other side only used HR as a backup. HR had nothing to do with shortlisting apart from preparing a longlist which included all sorts of hopeless applications. At the interviews the single HR interviewer dealt with legal and similar aspects of the job and also had extensive interviewing experience which was sometimes useful in discussions after the interviews when deciding who should be offered the jobs.
On the other hand my wife trained as an early years teacher in her forties but despite lots of work in supply with head teachers asking for her to return she never got a permanent job because at the time there was a surplus of newly qualified teachers in their twenties who could be paid much less because of their age.

133:

If the U.S. had been run by the Bush or Trump government in 1941, we've have responded to Pearl Harbor by invading Brazil!

134:

I was thinking other day about Robert Mercer and how he made his fortune with a supposedly market bearing trading software. What's the connection beteeen that skill set and Psyops for military?

I'm wondering if it is disinformation - planting stories in Moneyweek, etc, psychological manipulation of the market.

135:

Likewise I remember a really good elementary Linear Algebra course taught by Professor Andrew Wiles (in 1987, before he became world-famous, but still. Prof. John Horton Conway, eg, also taught courses at my school; it was assumed. This in the USA, by the way.)

136:

Oh, I don't know - I work in an eight-story office block; there are two shielded staircases for evacuation. In the six-monthly unannounced fire drills, we're generally all out well within five minutes, if not much sooner. Not bad for three or four hundred office staff. (Being a helpful sod, I've just done the "evacuation chair" training that allows us to get an immobile person down a staircase; impressive piece of kit.)

In the three-storey building at my previous place, we were normally clear, accounted for, and consulting with the other firms' lead Fire Wardens within two and a half minutes (after numerous boring drills, we'd resorted to blocking off exit routes during the drills, or Fire Wardens hiding in rooms to verify they were being cleared correctly).

137:

You can alter algos via Twitter (you can also do it via a splice or a EM nudge etc these days). Imagining that the 4th Estate, owned by 6-7 large Corporations, is not part of this is, well. The 4th Estate is mostly Marketing, so...

frynotsureifserious.gif

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/futurama-fry-not-sure-if

You don't spend $500,000,000 on PR hacks for nothing, and that's a non-serious minor regional war.

M2-3 levels, of course it's all part of the Game. The kind of Game where destabilizing Italy via ECB bonds over-running E1 tril into negatives etc and so forth are played with (although, M4 edges with the long term planning involved with it, let's not call GS etc stupid).

M4-5 is where the real wild ones wander (hint: it was never about penises, but hey: the M3 level of what massive, total, testosterone, unmitigated male failures drive the market: all priced into the burn. Yep, that penis is waving at You).

*shrug*

Mirror. Took a bit for the shaped charge to surface and onto the Reality it spreads (wiggles?).

Dat Blow-back is shaping a black hole like you'd not imagine with that scale-payoff. Makes little derivative games look like fucking tic-tac-toe.

Echidna Penis: funny man.

The Market as God The Atlantic, 1999.

Fucking 20th Century thinkers - it's gonna get you killed.

~

'You Working?' YT: Film John Wick 2, 0:45

138:

Similarly, with the added note that we've had a Fire Warden standing in a fire exit route saying loudly "I am a blazing inferno."

139:

I was under the impression that the defense of the attacks on Gaza (and vicinity) is that Palestinians are not human.

140:

What's so weird about Echidna penises? Turtles are weirder, and so are ducks. Echnidas are cool, actually: closest thing to convergent evolution we have in mammals in so many, many ways.

If you want body horror, though, higher on the scale than the phallusies already described is the Pilidiophora clade of nemertean worms. They undergo "catastrophic metamorphosis", in which the juvenile forms within the larval body and generally eats the larval body after rupturing it.

141:

Another is matriphagy: Arachnid Matriphagy: These Spider Mothers Literally Die for Their Young. I have a high threshold but learning about that creeped me out a bit.
Vernor Vinge did a variant of this in a 1972 short story Original Sin, which also introduced the idea (in sci-fi, and AFAIK) that sufficiently advanced malice is indistinguishable from bad luck.


142:

the defense of the attacks on Gaza (and vicinity) is that Palestinians are not human.

Like Australia, the area was uninhabited at the time of discovery {sic}. So goes the official propaganda anyway (to which the obvious response is: what's an improper gander?)

The are Jews married to Aboriginal Australians here. Which must make for interesting politics. Or perhaps not, not all of each group take the obvious side (most obviously the various Jewish peace/two state groups, I'm not aware of any "Aborigines for Self-Genocide" groups).

143:

Actually, having brought up bad puns I feel obliged to reference the true grand-dad of puns and dad jokes, Mal Webb. I'll just link to his Webb site: http://malwebb.customer.netspace.net.au/

This is the epitome: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iY-WNUTaWnM

144:

Not a problem. Picard learned about their life-cycle and made friends with them during the sixth season.

145:

A few more problems come to mind (speaking as a former damage control officer and instructor). Use of person self evacuation equipment such as smoke hoods came into the (Australian) fleet post the Falklands,the USS Stark also shaped our opinions a bit. The service can do this but it requires significant institutional grunt which (sorry all) is just not there in CIVLANT.

Issues:

1. What sort of mask, is it positive pressure (requires a bottle) or passive (you need to make a tight seal to face). A simple passive design is cheap but requires more competency to fit and in a hot blaze you may get a lung full of superheated air and goodnight the fox.
2. Effectiveness - Stand up in a room filled with hot smoke and I guarantee you'll fry your head then collapse, that's why fire teams are trained to go everywhere on their knees (mine are wrecked). So is your hood smoke and heat proof? You've got to train for appropriate use.
3. Training - People need to be trained how to use the hood and you need to do refresher training (currency is a big recurring cost). Now if we painted council blocks grey and put a big white number on them this might work, but as a civilian volunteer thing?
4. Psychological - In my experience during training some folk have the screaming mimmsey's when they put one on, some freak out when they walk into a smoke filled room. And that's trained fit, psych app tested professionals.
5. Ergonomics - My favourite, you've got to make 'em for men, women, kids, babies, visually impaired etc etc (I recall they did have gas proof baby carriages circa WWII).
6. Where to put them, typically onboard we'd carry over complement (one at each bunk, more in the ships cafeteria, more at work stations, evacuation routes and scuttles). There's a cost there.
7. Readiness - Will they be there when you need them, or will some shiny lad have had them away down the markets? Will the filters be in date? I thing the local FB may be stretched enough checking fire alarms really...
8. Counter-value - What sort of behaviour does the presence of hoods encourage? Will people stick it out to the point where evacuation is problematic because they have 'hoods'? Risk homeostasis is a big issue in safety interventions.

The use of smoke hoods in the aviation industry comes up on a regular basis, it's one of those memes (sigh), and for much the same reasons as above they have not been adopted there. You'd be better off adopting the passive measures that that aviation industry has like (as suggested) floor strip lighting. Also making fire escapes [really] smoke tight would help and teaching folk that there's six inches of breathable air on the floor so get down low and go as a survival strategy.

Final thought (as this comment has gone on way too long) what we found after September 11 is that most folk in both the towers who survived the impacts then stuffed around aimlessly for about 20 odd minutes before starting to evacuate. Doing? Well as you'd imagine important stuff like shutting down their PC, picking up knick knacks, calling other people. At Tenerife people survived the crash but sat in their seats 'waiting' until the fire and smoke killed them. Coconut Grove fire ditto. This is what people do, we're social animals unfortunately sometimes. So the number one positive survival factor is simply to leave, leave early, and leave fast. People need to be trained to break through that very deadly period of indecision. Movement is life as they say.

146:

>>>(the IDF upper levels want to get rid of conscription, and the officer corps is entirely professional these days).

1. Most soldiers go into officer course while still conscripts. You can, in fact, go into the officer course 6 months in, finish it in 6 months, and then be given command of conscripts who were in the army longer than you were. This sometimes leads to subordination problems.

2. All officers must sign for additional time in the army, but most won't continue with it as a lifetime career. Most low ranking officers in IDF you can call conscripts++.

3. The idea of getting rid of conscripts exists, but it will never happen until the geopolitical situation around Israel changes significantly.

4. The reason for that is the defense plans are based around drafting a large amount of reservists, and you can't have a pool of reservists without conscript army, unless you are USA (read: extremely rich). Israel can't afford a large professional army.

5. Consider also the state of mind of a reservist IDF soldier. A conscript, young and idealistic, might take military ethics seriously. An IDF reservist opinion is basically this: "I'd rather burn all the children in Gaza, than leave my own children without a father." The officers are aware of that. In any large operation, many officers will also be reservists.

147:

I try to avoid this subject because of this sort of response. Let me just say that the staunchest defenders of the Palestinians are also Israeli Jews (often religious ones). It's too easy to blame and hate a whole class, when it is a subclass that is the culprit.

To Martin: Genghis Kahn's tactics were not militarily disastrous, but were even more loathsome than those used in Gaza.

148:

I just went for a notice printed on red paper, next to the window in the fire door leading to the stairs;

"You can see smoke on the other side of the window".

The tricky bit was timing of putting up the notices on the two floors' fire doors - that time, it was my turn to be the only person in our firm (three companies share the building) who was told the exact time of the Fire Drill...

149:

When I was a fire warden at Leeds University I found it very difficult to get everbody -particularly those higher in the pecking order than me - to leave their offices and labs in the Old Medical School during fire alarms. I often had to shout at them particularly those in the middle for phone calls.
On the other side I spent a year in hospital accomodation in Norwich and there were fire alarms in the small hours about every two months almost always due to burnt toast. When the first one occurred I jumped out of bed, ran downstairs and stood outside in the cold wearing only boxer shorts for about an hour until someone from the housing association which ran the building turned up to switch off the alarm. For later alarms I made sure got dressed and had a warm coat before leaving.

150:

There is a theatre of human endeavour where crying 'Fire!' is greeted with 'Lets pump in some gasoline!'

I refer to states which have become dependent on electoral fraud and voter suppression.

Once you've done it, and - worse - done it a couple of times, successfully, so that a political establishment of systematic lawlessness becomes entrenched, there is only one response to 'Fire! Fire!' or 'The *******s are going to vote us out this time!'

That response is: 'Do it more, do it harder, and do it in interesting new ways'.

Some of those new ideas - and, indeed, the old ones - are illegal: as are the financial practices endemic in such an establishment. Losing an election has real costs.

The most interesting 'new' idea is, of course, to declare these practices legal; best of all, to get a majority in the national legislature and roll back the most effective laws. That's 'safe' in a legalistic view, except for all the other irregularities that cone with the culture; and it's very unsafe in the long term when you consider the consequences of discredited democracy.

For those of you who've been paying attention, this isn't just about the USA; nor is this about Russian interference in the election - that was a marginal effect that made enough of a difference to get Trump across the finishing line, but the heavy lifting was done by locally-grown media malpractice, counting fraud, and large-scale voter suppression.

We have some of that here in the UK, too.

There is a point at which the people helping out with voter suppression become quite powerful, a constituency that the miselected politicians *have to* give concessions to.

They might, at some point, seem to be in charge.

We passed that point a while ago with media moguls.

Keeping a lid on all this needs a serious investment in policing: a particular type of policing - it's manpower-intensive and you might end up in need of help from the kind of people who've been 'helping out' with the racialised voter suppression.

It also needs a serious investment in domestic surveillance of dangerous radicals, and it's surprising how many of them 'traitors' and 'agitators' there can be in an environment where endemic corruption and impunity is normalised.

That escalates and intensifies, every time there's another fraudulent election - 'More gasoline over here, guys, the fire risk is increasing!' - and you discover that there's quite a lot of help available with the surveillance and analysis from people who've been 'helping out' with parts of your social media campaigning that you never really thought about.

Plus, of course, the people who've been helping all along, in your domestic security apparatus.

The 'help' is, of course, more gasoline.

Everything you do will make it worse: more fuel, more flashpoints, more damaging consequences. Eventually elections become irrelevant: but that shifts the risk to other mechanisms of regime change.

Having filled the theatre to the very top with gasoline, you discover that you have to stir it, continuously and ever more violently, to ensure that the dangerous radicals don't all precipitate out at once.

So let's get to the point, and answer Charlie's question: "What other examples can you think of where you can profit by crying fire in a crowded theatre?"

There's an election coming - "Fire! Fire!" - the profitable establishment we've built on systematic deception, voter suppression and fraud is under threat!

Again.

And again the next time, worse than last time.

...And there's money to be made in automated voting fraud, before and after it's decriminalised; there's money to be made in rebranding a ragged army of recreationally-violent racists as a 'security consultancy' that can help out, supporting the regular police force in ensuring an orderly election; and there's money to be made in social media analytics and targeted campaigning.

And there is a great deal of money to be made in the monitoring and analytic services required to keep the lid on a society that lives and works in that regime.

151:

The shorter version of my answer is: the cry of 'Fire!' is out there anyway, and we know it will be repeated.

The money from manipulating social media - and other activities of a corrupted political process - is available to clever fools who sell the shovels, pumps, licks for the fire scapes, security services and, above all, the social media analytics.

Privateering goons and surveillance services, coming to a theatre near you.

152:

And then there is the happy fun hotel fire alarm at 2:30am experience while you're in bed and asleep.

For added lulz, have the hotel alarms go off while you're in Boston in February in the middle of a three-day gap between snow emergencies (by which I mean enough snow fell to shut down Boston, i.e. about four feet in total depth in five days). Outside temperature was roughly -14 celsius before you added wind chill.

Note also that the rooms have sprinklers and it's high-rise concrete construction with fire doors and firewalls; unless it's a catastrophic fire (read: Grenfell Tower) you're probably safe staying in your room.

What's the hotel resident to do?

(In my case it was: vacillate a lot, but get dressed, including boots and coat to hand. Wait to see if it's cancelled immediately. When not, go outside and see if people are evacuating. Nope. Vacillate some more, then head for the lobby — lifts were still operational, I was on the 14th floor and did not feel like hiking unnecessarily — and find about fifty other people had gone downstairs and the hotel staff were indeed trying to get people out onto the sidewalk. Which opened onto a main road, in a fucking blizzard. Compromised by waiting within ten metres of the lobby doors until the fire crew strolled in to see what part of the alarm board was malfunctioning this time.)

But yeah, there is a problem with training: people mostly don't respond appropriately in an emergency (I sure didn't) unless they've been drilled, and there are environments (shopping malls, high rise hotels) where you have a high transient population and can't train them and other environments (hospitals, nursing homes) where you have a high dependency population who are unable to self-evacuate.

153:

I work in an eight-story office block; there are two shielded staircases for evacuation. In the six-monthly unannounced fire drills, we're generally all out well within five minutes

A few decades ago I had a friend who worked for Revenue Canada in one of the big office complexes in Ottawa. He always said that if there was a fire most of them would be dead because it took ages to evacuate the building.

It didn't look that bad on paper, but apparently a large number of the workers on the lower floors had asthma, dodgy knees and other heath problems. So what would happen is that they would hobble slowly down the stairs clutching both handrails, stopping midflight (still clutching both handrails) to catch their breaths and chat.

154:

This one's more like "crying fire sale in a crowded shopping mall": intentional deception by blurring the distinction between the nominal and effective APR (annual percentage rate) on a credit card or loan.

TL;DR: The two terms have very different meanings, and advertising a low APR may actually conceal a significantly higher effective rate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annual_percentage_rate

155:

When I was a fire warden at Leeds University I found it very difficult to get everbody to leave their offices and labs in the Old Medical School during fire alarms

We were fortunate - it was generally accepted that "fire alarm, leaving now" was good reason to stop talking.

Our problem was persuading people not to take their coffee with them down the stairs (because if they get used to it, during a real fire they'll spill it / slip in it / scald someone).

For later alarms I made sure got dressed and had a warm coat before leaving.

That was the point I (gently) kept reminding - what happens if it's winter, dark, raining / blowing a gale, and a real fire? How do we stop 150 people in light clothing from going down with cold injury, while still keeping track of them? Assuming that the Fire Brigade arrives and blocks the car park exit...

My effort was to produce a checklist that got stuck to the back of the clipboards with the staff list; bright yellow, big print, minimum number of bullet points, and trying to get people to think through things before it becomes a drama (the office block opposite was likely to get a lot of unannounced visitors).

You can't tell that my father became an Emergency Planning Officer for the local council, can you ... ;)

156:

There's a story that's been passed down the generations in my family. Some bits of it may have been improved or changed in the c.100 years since it happened, but this is the version I've been told.

One of my great-grandfather's brothers signed up for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI. He was wounded and recuperating on a hospital ship in a French port. I imagine that people thought they were safe enough. This was a ship in port, after all. Why should you hold evacuation drills? Besides, there were lots of non-ambulatory cases on hand.

A U-Boat slipped in to the harbour and torpedoed the ship.

The ship didn't sink immediately, but it began settling fast. The patients who could get up and walk out of the ship (like my great-grand uncle) survived. Those who couldn't - the unconscious, leg-wounded, belly-wounded, etc. - drowned. A hell of a way to go.

157:

Nile, I live in a third-world country just south of Canada, and you've described substantial portions of my country very accurately. Fortunately, I live in one of the more liberal portions of my country, and don't experience everything you describe, but many of my countrymen are stuck in that cycle.

158:

Any chance your "conservative" party will change their name? So many of them make manifestly unwise decisions.

159:

It's actually "Conservative and Unionist", as Iain Banks fans know. Slightly surprised I've not seen that used on twitter for DUP-related pisstaking.

160:

And recalling my CCNA C is fairly similar (cica .5c) for both copper and fibre

161:

But yeah, there is a problem with training: people mostly don't respond appropriately in an emergency (I sure didn't) unless they've been drilled, and there are environments (shopping malls, high rise hotels) where you have a high transient population and can't train them and other environments (hospitals, nursing homes) where you have a high dependency population who are unable to self-evacuate.

Indeed. A few years ago I was in a big-box hardware store (I don't know if such things occur in the UK, but you can imagine) with another SF fan of OGH's acquaintance when the fire alarm went off. We looked around and couldn't see any signs of fire or smell any smoke...but we were also at the back of the store, perhaps 100 meters of walking from the main doors. We figured it would be wiser to wander toward the exits, not in a hurry but to put us in a better position in case the situation developed. It was a bit of a surprise to us than none of the other shoppers seemed to pay any attention to the whooping alarm. Granted there was no other sign of trouble - but shouldn't the alarm be cause for further investigation?

Warnings are only useful if people will actually pay attention.

162:

Personal account on the general subject of "fire" alarms.

I was at work, in a room within a room in the building I normally work in. This room also contained a rack of Sun SparcStations, but did not contain an alarm sounder. Neither indeed did the room this room was in. This led to my not hearing the alarm, and after some 10 minutes my supervisor was detached back into the building to look for me. My response on being asked why I hadn't evacuated was on the lines of "What alarm?" since I hadn't heard it.

163:

I guess people reckon it's far more likely to be a false alarm or a drill than a real one, and their day is therefore going to be much more seriously disrupted if they do respond to it than if they don't. And since it is far more likely to be a false alarm or a drill than a real one, this view will probably be reinforced every time an alarm happens. Much like burglar/car alarms are universally ignored.

It was interesting to see the automatic responses to the fire alarm going off in a school dormitory. The thing really was shockingly loud, painfully so if you were too close to a sounder, yet it was strangely hard to register the noise if it had just jerked you out of sleep. Boys would strip their beds and proceed to the washroom as per the standard morning routine, and would need to be shaken out of it and made to realise it was a fire drill by active intervention.

164:

re. Fire alarms: Yes, you have to teach people to take them seriously. When I co-chaired a workplace safety committee at a research lab, it took quite a bit of prodding of management before they realized that by only scheduling the drills on bright, sunny, warm days in the spring, they had trained staff to notice that if the weather was nice, it was only a drill and they could ignore it. If we'd ever had a real fire on a nice day... Oops! Persuading the managers to be willing to leave the building in unpleasant weather during a drill broke the staff's habit of ignoring drills and made them take the drills more seriously.

I can't claim any particular superiority, though. When I lived on the 19th floor of a student residence, we had false alarms almost every evening, usually around or after midnight, but never a real fire. After the first couple of weeks, we just gave up on the idea of making a nightly midnight run in our nightwear down 19 flights of stairs clutching the dog and rabbit. Not wise, perhaps, but practical.

165:

I've seen this done very well in a crowded building. A few years ago my wife and I and my daughter's family were a a Center Parcs in the swimming pool when the alarm went off. The staff were very well trained and got everybody out of the building (all wet and in swimwear). Each person was handed a large towel as they exited into a cold November afternoon.
We were lucky and found an empty outside table with a heater at a nearby restaurant. About 20 minutes later we were all allowed back inside. I was very impressed by the professionalism of the staff.

166:

What's so weird about Echidna penises? Turtles are weirder, and so are ducks.

Oh boy. Crying with laughter here. Are you serious? I thought it was cute, not horrific.

Ok, the point is NOT that they're weird. The point is that the animated video version is NOT unlike your own appendages (unlike the flaccid / illustrated versions). Dolphin penises (due to saline conditions) are ultra-smooth and while prehensile, lack exterior veins and/or land-mammalian recognizable skin but are still semi-anthropomorphized. Thatsthejoke.jpg (LSD and hand jobs say hello[1]).

If you threw that video up on Cosmopolitan Magazine in close-focus with just the hand and shouted: "BIOTECH: WHY YOUR BOYFRIENDS PENIS NEEDS TO DO THIS TO HIT YOUR G-SPOT"...

It'd push your stock not double, not triple, but probably tenfold.

THAT is the joke.

~

Anyhow: clarify - as I'm reading the worm stuff, the only shocking thing seems to be that the juvenile stage actively digested the larva stage from within while the larva stage is still "alive". The cyst formation is within organism, prevents parasites / predation and looks fairly organism specific. Image sites fire up, etc etc.

So, it's just a proto-pupae for all intents and purposes - same DNA, same organism, just a slightly lower tech way of breaking down the larva stage DNA / resources into juvenile stage.

Butterflies / Moths put it all into a soup, beetles etc ... insects do this, just with a higher % conversion rate and more safely.

Not seeing the body-horror in your own next incarnation eating your old self.


Hint: This is where our Minds are fundamentally different.

[1] True story.

167:

As an aside, it does make sense.

The massive realms of parasitical wasps (and wasps meta-parasitising / predating and so on all through the insect clades) is probably an off shoot of these early methods. i.e. this is how it started, parasitism / predation invaded, arms war... (and, tbh, worms are already pro-parasites / predators etc - so hardly new. The trick is simply to fool the host body into thinking your invasive DNA is the juvenile stage, NOM NOM NOM is allowed by the simple defense mechanisms. Parasitology 101).

Until you're forced to pupate in a hard shell to fend off other species hijacking these methods.

It's cool, but it's not horrific. Neither is eating Mum (alive or otherwise): that's entirely sensible.

If you want horror, you'd have to have a reproductive element that fundamentally changed your DNA to make sure that all your offspring were damaged and could never evolve and/or fix it and so on...


And only Humans do that.

168:

(Bees / Termites don't count here: genetically speaking the templates are non-permanent due to the way in which mating etc happens. The difference between workers / males / Queens etc is purely dependent on initial choices and remains extant across generations).

Humans, on the other hand... whooo boy. Talk about deliberately crippling Minds and Bodies and Genes to prevent change.

Only Parasites do... OH.

169:

It was interesting to see the automatic responses to the fire alarm going off in a school dormitory.

Yup. Our school used a five-second burst of the fire bell as Reveille at 7am; if it went continuously, it was hard to confuse the two. We had the added delight of the Duty Bugler[1] (yes, seriously) racing to play the Fire Call (as if the fire bell going full tilt wasn't enough).

A few years ago my wife and I and my daughter's family were a a Center Parcs in the swimming pool when the alarm went off.

We were in the Cumbrian Centre Parcs swimming pool when the same thing happened - reflective blankets all round, building cleared in minutes. Rather reassuring ;)

[1] It was an unusual school. Originally set up by public subscription just over a century ago, as an orphanage for soldiers' and sailors' children. Still there, now co-ed, and the ceremonial aspect remains - although much diminished.

170:

[Note: there's a fundamentally important point being made here about your Minds and how we're acting and so forth. Show, not tell, as they say. Children are your real horror pressure point - YouTube has some real nasty stuff going down as we speak, and, of course: chromium-6 / lead and so on]

Bottom line: where you anthropomorphize horror is where your weak spots are.

And you're still confused by Trump etc? It's a human run horror show, ID attack vectors. Pro-tip: look above, Freudian narcissistic ID motile penis beast doesn't work on us. But it does work on the unshielded Liberal Mind. (THAT'S THE JOKE).


Our Horror is. A. little. bit. more. sophisticated.

+10k points to The Weavers of Fate:

NEWS - Mike Pence and Charles Koch held a 45-minute meeting at Broadmoor in CO Springs, spox for Koch umbrella group confirms. Twitter, NYT correspondent, 23rd June, 2017

Elected officials attending Koch summit in Colorado Springs this weekend: USA Today, Twitter, 23rd June 2017 - lists.

Told you the Kochs were moving up schedule, "Time for Tea". Is Mr Troutwaxer bored now? Sufficient proof given? Who knows.

p.s.

Ms. Ex-Pharma of the Glass Bead Game invoked horror with her drawings. Not sure y'all understood why, but there we go. That was directed horror deployed as weaponry: and I was really nice in return. (well, apart from the whole "Here's how to actually change Time / Threads and here's explicit proof, and I'll burn down a multi-year plan as a warning", but that's her/their horror, not your male Mind version).


[And yes: aware of the meta2 horror: host is losing Eyeballs. But, don't worry: TIME, important etc]

171:

embryo, larva, pupa and imago

embryo, larva, internal juvenile cyst (nom nom), imago

Same shit; in fact, larva still being motile is probably a good survival strategy pre-chitin. In fact, I'm going to have to research this, as it looks like a precursor survivor to pre-parasitical / predation evolution. Which is cool, but weird it survived.

It's only horror if you thought that your own body constantly devouring its own cells was horror. I mean, internal cells it's a given, but even specialized warriors like sperm are broken down if not used. (Poor Egg Cells: Now that's a different mechanism).

You're a constantly self-cannibalizing quasi-autonomous cell factory whose Mind changes day by day and whose entire cellular structure is replaced every seven years (and much faster in certain parts / certain conditions). And you think a juvenile worm eating itself to gain imago is horror?

Really?


The Beast Within YT: A film with the best worst special effects you've ever seen, 3:12.

172:

When commercial aircraft are evacuated the standard (and unstated) drill is to leave anyone who's not ambulatory until after all other passengers are off the aircraft. Sorry but to do otherwise slows down the evacuation. Lose one to save the may.

There is also more general problem with evacuations in that (unlike the movies) people just amble along in a zombie like state even when the situation is obviously deteriorating. Again that's why cabin crew are trained to scream and abuse you to 'get out, out now'.

The psychology of people and what they do and don't do in extreme situations is absolutely fascinating.

Then there's this guy...

http://911survivors.weebly.com/the-man-who-saved-2686-people.html

173:

I always suspected those Koch brothers were the corporeal incarnation of the Umbrella Corporation.

174:

Nope: The Umbrella Corporation believed in Genetic Science and actually funded entire Cities (and, unlike the NYT / American Press / Bush Presidency, they actually built multi-stage, complex engineered super bases under the ground, and didn't just publish fake pictures of their imaginary Afghanistan Bond lairs). Of course, they muppeted it up, but hey: it's not like they weren't evil in an Enlightenment way. (ACTUAL COUGH NEOLIBERALIST WAY COUGH).

Pro-tip: Umbrella Corp is a wery wery complex Japanese satire. Then the movies and this kinda crap destroyed it: Japan passes 'brutal' counter-terror law despite fears over civil liberties Guardian, 15th June, 2017 - fucking told you all this 5+ years ago with Abe in the 731 fighter. FUCKING WARNED YOU. THE MAN IS THE HEAD OF A FASCIST / CAPITALIST / NATIONALIST CABLE FFS[1].

Anyhow: it's a question about how much money you can make by manipulating social media to drive public opinion.

Lol, nope. Thus all the cryptocurrency links (If you want proof the Galleries are still watching, here ya go: GDAX Bails out Margin Traders Affected by Ethereum Flash Crash The Merkle, 24th June, 2017 - it's accurate, but sadly so passe. Upshot is: ICOs etc, they're putting in circuit breakers, derp). And, No, no, no. None of this is about that (that already happened with QE - US, UK, top 0.5% doubled their wealth etc). Literally - not the Game being played now.

~

To explain: This is the Market Juvenile Cyst Stage where it eats itself (or rather, the society that birthed it).


You. Do. Not. Want. The. Imago. Version.

Bring torches and pitch.


[1] No, really. This shit is getting purged from the Memory Hole by professionals. 右翼団体 and ultra-secret top end cabals are getting purged. But, it's known and obvious now.

175:

Most asbestos in buildings is best just left

AIUI in the US (or most of it) asbestos that is confined or secured can be left alone. Only that which might become or is loose has to be removed.

176:

When commercial aircraft are evacuated the standard (and unstated) drill is to leave anyone who's not ambulatory until after all other passengers are off the aircraft.

What do you do when the semi-ambulatory are blocking the evacuation route? (Or more accurately, slowing it down to a hobble with pauses for breath.) That was the situation at my friend's building.

177:

You're a constantly self-cannibalizing quasi-autonomous cell factory whose Mind changes day by day...
OK, I'll play. Baring unusual trauma, what levels of changes are there with human Minds on a day-to-day basis? Certainly from personal self-observation there seems to be some sort of resetting or pruning[1] going on during sleep that can't be identically restored given randomized daily experiences. (Yes, I've tried.) Anyway, curious.

[1] e.g. [don't know this work well enough to evaluate; need to read it closely] Ultrastructural evidence for synaptic scaling across the wake/sleep cycle. These are the "synaptic homeostasis hypothesis" people: Sleep and the Price of Plasticity: From Synaptic and Cellular Homeostasis to Memory Consolidation and Integration


---
Not meta in the slightest (at least not consciously), just happy to see the first black swallowtail caterpillars of the season, on dill in the vegetable garden. [working out imgur privacy/security so no phone pics yet.]
Seen: first/third instar stages, full grown caterpillar. Probably more including eggs but didn't search. More pics:
life cycle of a black swallowtail butterfly


178:

For added lulz, have the hotel alarms go off ...
Note also that the rooms have sprinklers and it's high-rise concrete construction with fire doors and firewalls; unless it's a catastrophic fire (read: Grenfell Tower) you're probably safe staying in your room.

What's the hotel resident to do?

Alarms went off in an Alexandria, VA hotel (next to Washington DC) a year ago during nice weather about midnight. Wasn't really deep asleep so I jumped up and looked out my door. Didn't see smoke so pulled on pants and shoes, grabbed my phone and wallet and headed out. Elevators were still working so I took them down. (In any semi modern building in the US the elevators go to lobby if using them is a problem. (I think.))

Still would have had a big pause if the weather had not been so nice. Because when I checked in earlier that night it was obvious that there was a fairly large high school band/club/choir group at the place. Think 14 - 18 year old teens. I was in band myself back in the day and was a band parent for several years with my son. So in the back of my mind I kept thinking this was some student (who if caught was going to have a miserable year) thinking they were having fun. A lot of the adults milling about had had similar thoughts.

Turns out the alarm was real but not a fire. A sprinkler pipe in a hallway had sprung a leak and the sudden water flow in the system triggered the alarm. We got to go back to our rooms after an hour or so.

179:

Mr. Stross, since you take the accusations of Russian involvement in the last US election seriously, and since I have a great deal of respect for your judgement, I'm really curious to know why you think these charges are remotely plausible. Personally, I've so far not seen any evidence that it's true, despite the fact that the whole Clinton wing of the Democratic party, much of the US corporate media, and most of the US military industrial complex has been frantically pushing this idea for all they are worth.
As I understand this exercise in keeping Clinton from accepting blame for her electoral failure, and keeping Trump for even considering improving relations with the Russians, Russia is accused, by a private cyber security firm hired by the Democrats, of hacking files containing the text of Clinton's vastly overpaid speeches to Wall Steet, and showing the DNC cheated to keep Sanders from getting the Democratic nomination. (The FBI didn't actually investigate the matter themselves.)Russia then supposedly give these files to Wikileaks. The files had very little impact on the election, because while they were true, they did little more than show Clinton was a dishonest neoliberal, which most people paying close attention already knew. Wikileaks denies they got the files from the Russians, which may have been leaked by Seth Rich rather than by Putin,(if you want to compare conspiracy theories).
A few proven liars from the CIA and FBI like James Clapper have done their best to use this unproven collection of innuendo to their own advantage, though they tend to be careful not to claim to actually know anything while testifying to Congress.
In other words, it looks to me like a fake scandal which continues because powerful people in Washington find it useful as a tool for hitting Trump. While I have no sympathy for Trump, the fact that he is a dishonest, incompetent opportunist doesn't make him a Russian agent.
So if you could actually shed some light on this matter, perhaps in a future post, I'd appreciate it.

180:

Ignoring all the deliberately-obscurantist waffling, you nonetheless have a very serious danger-point highlighted there.
The Kochs & Pence & Ted Cruz & Adam Laxalt.
A "Legal" coup d'etat is under construction ... yes/no?

181:

A sprinkler pipe in a hallway had sprung a leak ...
Exactly.
Sprinkler systems are ... uinreliable, corrode & leak & cost to maintain.
For commercial premises, where there may be several different tenant firms in a bukding, maybe ... for residential, maybe/maybe not such a good idea.
Try foir not having a fir in the fist olace & then containing it if one breaks out & being able to extinguish it quickly, anyway.
Choices ... which set is the least wrong?

182:

I've been evacuated from a plane full of drunk german businessmen.

Lessons learned:

1. Never wrestle the cabin crew.

2. Don't be drunk on planes.

183:

Given the USA's record of interfering in elections and cancelling the results it doesn't like, I cannot get excited about such claims, anyway. That includes in the UK of course, via proxies.

184:

The crew seat you so that you are away from the exits :-) from experience coming back with a leg in plaster from a ski trip.

But you do get better leg room :-)

185:

The crew seat you so that you are away from the exits

Not an option with buildings, I'm afraid.

186:

The crew seat you so that you are away from the exits
IME (based on having early onset osteo-arthritis in one knee) buildings managers try to get you a room/desk near a fire exit. This may or may not be partly because they benefit from achieving low evacuation times.

187:

Mr. Stross, since you take the accusations of Russian involvement in the last US election seriously, and since I have a great deal of respect for your judgement, I'm really curious to know why you think these charges are remotely plausible.

Because it's not just the USA they've been meddling in; has the attack on the House of Commons this weekend made the news in your country? Or incursions in Estonia and Lithuania, or the West Ukraine? Russian cyberwar doctrine views propaganda and agitprop — "fake news" — as being as much a part of things as actual hacking, and it's a no-brainer that they wouldn't want a foreign policy hawk with State Department experience in the White House. Add the FBI investigation and Trump's Russian loans and I think it's fairly clear that, while Trump isn't an actual agent on the KGB payroll, they'd much rather have him causing havoc in the Oval Office than have to deal with a competent president.

188:

Had a similar problem where I worked a couple of years ago, a 13 floors down evac route. Basically we had to institute a fast lane, slow lane system. If you're slow hug the hand rail. If you're not go on the wall. Technically easy as it was a newish building, but boy the social engineering! People always want to help you see so they slow down as they come up to someone. Had to institute 'highway patrol' wardens to move people along when they passed the slow pokes, oh and the slower folk weren't that enthused about being, in their words, 'left to die' tricky bit of persuasion. Lots of talking and we had to do a before after trial to show people the improvement in time. That was the clincher.

189:

One of my duties in my first job, more than 30 years ago, was assigning seats to passengers before they boarded their planes. It was expressly forbidden to place persons that could delay evacuation near emergency exits, and the prohibition was taken very seriously (and included drunkards, elderly & overweight people, mothers with babies, passengers with heavy and/or bulky hand luggage... in short, anyone that could be reasonably feared to block exits, even for a few seconds).

One of the very first things we always did was filling those seats with young, fit passengers as soon as we could. It saved a lot of troubles if you could say in all truth that there were simply no free seats left near the emergency exits.

190:

There were several "Conservative and Unionist Negotiating Team" jokes circulating post-election.

191:

I'll construct a proper reply if Host's interests cross over to there. It's extremely interesting; put it this way - look @ how Turkey is cementing its 'National Identity' to get a feel for how feedback mechanisms work on (singular? lol) Human Identity. View your society as a Body-without-Organs (that's a hint) etc.

~

Anyhow, right on schedule, answering Host's question:

Italy Commits $19 Billion for Veneto Banks in Biggest Rescue Bloomberg, 25th June, 2017

Europe's Banking Union Is Dying in Italy Bloomberg View, 23rd June, 2017 (Note: US online editions of Bloomberg or Forbes in particular have odd rules on who gets to post on their opinion pages (and in Forbes case, you get some right fruitcakes) - check author credentials carefully. In this case, Ferdinando Giugliano is a journo (FT, la Repubblica) and is an Oxford grad. So: politically (neo)liberal at a guess, and not actually one of the money-men, but a smart ape none-the-less. His Twitter Account).

Italy to Spend Up to $19 Billion to Bail Out Two Banks WSJ, 25th June, 2017

So, we're back to !FIRE! of 2008-2010 and the happy-clappy mass bank collapse scenarios of 2012. Whoever profits from this, whelp, it's EU taxpayer bailouts once more (and you'll find the US banking sector profiting here).

Whoever is involved knew the Spanish failure would spread to Italy (ECB / Germany, really) and has been fanning this on the 'QT' while Trump is keeping everyone else frothingly unable to focus on actual politics.

How much money could/can they make? Billions, at the bottom end.

[Serious note: this is not the Russian's mo, this is either a repeating emergent cycle baked into the way derivatives / the Market functions which is predictably parasitized by participants, or US hostile foreign policy snapping at the EU (Germany), depending on your levels of cynicism. The scary version? It's the latter but with most of the Power Players either fired, tied up, retired, switching sides or otherwise focused on internal soft coup issues. That last comment is the ravings of a fool, totally made up. Really. Not scary at all.]

~

eyes i dare not meet in dreams Tor, Sunny Moraine, 14th June, 2017. Good little creepy story playing off the 'Dead women in refrigerators' trope.

Also, a bit of a *nose wiggle* commentary about current things.

192:

In today's news, "CONneDUP"? ;-)

193:

American Airlines and I suspect all US based airlines and maybe most all of the majors world wide have a positive response policy before the plane takes off. A flight attendant asks if you are willing and able to assist in the exit process as explained the seat back card. If you don't respond with a verbal clear yes you will have to move to another seat before the plane will take off.

194:

£200M/y for 2 years - Infrastructure
£75M/y for 2 years - Internet
Devolution of Corporation Tax Rates (watch this one go !pop!)
City Deals / Enterprize Zones (watch that space)
£20M/y for 5 years - Poverty
£50M/y for 2 years - Plugging the budget holes (c.f prior comments) in Health / Education budgets
£100M/y for 2 years - Health Infrastructure
£10M/y for 5 years - Mental Health

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/621797/UK_Govt__financial_support_for_Northern_Ireland.pdf

....M A G I C

....O

....N

T R E E

....Y

195:

Crying Fire - or in this case "fires out"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Stock_Exchange_Fraud_of_1814

Followers of "Lucky Jack" Aubrey's career as documented by Patrick O'Brian may recall this affair from 'The Reverse of the Medal', but in our timeline it was Lord Cochrane who was fingered , although he violently protested his innocence, and was eventually restored to the Order of the Bath and reinstated as Rear Admiral.

196:

Whenever I've flown (in this century) I've always had the option selecting my seat when booking the ticket (now you have to pay extra money for that). The only limitation is that if you select an emergency row you have to affirm that you are able-bodied (and I imagine the crew will relocate you if you turn out not to be).

I've flown emergency row twice — once because it was the only row left, and again because I liked the extra legroom.

197:

This articles explore a little-understood phenomenon in the US: how confidence in the economy correlates to which party holds power.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-06-26/why-americans-feel-so-good-about-a-mediocre-economy

http://www.gallup.com/poll/211583/democrats-confidence-economy-steadily-eroding-post-obama.aspx

In short, it is very problematic to take consumer confidence in the US at face value. Is this true in the UK as well?

198:

Yes. Fucking amazing where this money appeared from. Leaving aside the inevitable fallout with other UK regions re Barnett Formula (have the DUP just fanned the recently banked flames of Scottish independence and endangered the Union they hold so dear?); some initial thoughts/observations:

£200M/y for 2 years - Infrastructure
... Expect most of this to go to road projects in areas with high DUP support, or where it can be leveraged to political gain (some locally high profile projects that could benefit greatly).

£75M/y for 2 years - Internet
... Expect the improvements to be targeted in rural areas. There is obviously good in this, but it also plays well to a lot of DUP rural support.

Devolution of Corporation Tax Rates
... Are we going to add "Tax Haven" to "Dark Money Back Door" on our list of UK political accomplishments?

City Deals / Enterprize Zones
£20M/y for 5 years - Poverty
£50M/y for 2 years - Plugging the budget holes

... So much scope for, let's call it, "grey budgeting" in here (don't expect anything too imaginative, cf. RHI)

£100M/y for 2 years - Health Infrastructure
.. Expect this to be mismanaged, frittered away, and end up being less than adequate (no sums done, but back-of-the-envelope guesstimate is that this is already significantly less than is really needed -- absent massive structural reform)

199:

Sorry if this is off-topic. In case anyone is curious, here is an article explaining the US Supreme Court's recent ruling in regards to the Separation of Church and State.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-06-26/supreme-court-weakens-wall-between-church-and-state

200:

On the other hand, I could be wrong and the Stormont Assembly could pop back into existence immediately, the budget wisely spent, and sunshine and rainbows ensue (proper rainbows, not the gay sort, of course).

After all, we've only got past experience of how the NI Assembly spend money to go on ...

201:

You've seen Sinn Féin's Carson-quoting response, I presume?
They at least are sure this whole exercise is the DUP carefully aiming a howitzer at their own big toe, from the level of barely-contained glee in their statements.

202:

Given the history of dubious monetary handouts & palm-greasing on both sides of the border since at least 1966, it does not bode well, does it?

203:

NoJay, in the US, the real problem isn't just upper management who wants to hire on the cheap, it's also HR. Now, back in the day, Personnel knew the organization, and had folks who knew what they were hiring for.

These days, they don't know, and they don't care to know.

Now... my old friend Bro. Guy used to teach "science for non-science majors", and the bottom of the food chain of the majors that took that class - those that not only didn't get it, but didn't know that they didn't get it - were the communications majors... who'd go into, among other things, HR.

There was an article in the Atlantic? Slate? last year, entitled "Your HR Department Hates You", which expands on it all.

After many years on and off, I finally got my B.Sc in '95 (I'd already been programming for 15 years...). About three months later, I got a new job with Ameritech, a Baby Bell (since swallowed). I was friends with my managers, and a few months later, asked it the degree had interested them. They told me they were interested in my experience, but the degree helped them get me through HR.

Through the nineties and oughts (I've had one job since '09), I actively wanted to talk to headhunters. They had "relationships" with the hiring managers, and actually knew what they were looking for. The managers, then, would tell HR who they wanted to see.

204:

Mr. Stross, I'm sure you must be aware of how hard it can be to prove that a highly competent group of hackers is actually responsible for a specific attempt to hack a system. I took a quick look at news reports on the attempt to get into the emails of British members of Parliament, and it doesn't seem that anyone knows yet who did it, though of course it's easy to point to a few of the "obvious", politically convenient suspects, like Russia and North Korea.
So I personally don't think that an unsubstantiated accusation that the Russian government might be involved in a unsuccessful hack in the UK is proof of unproven accusations that they were also involved in unsuccessful hacks in the US.
It seems to me that you strongly dislike the Russian government, and are therefore perhaps a little too quick to think they might be capable of anything. My own subjective opinion of the Russian government is slightly more favorable, since I admire certain actions they have taken, for example, in Syria, where they have helped the Syrian government and people defend themselves from attacks sponsored by foreign governments including the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Perhaps I am making a mistake by giving them "the benefit of the doubt" because of that.
Regardless of that, and like another poster on this thread, I'm not too morally outraged in principle by accusations that someone 'meddled' in a US election, given the many examples of fat worse meddling in other countries by the US.

205:

Um, I meant to type "far worse meddling". Freudian slip?

206:

Sorry, I meant mostly unsuccessful hack. Some MP's with weak passwords may have lost data.

207:


My own subjective opinion of the Russian government is slightly more favorable, since I admire certain actions they have taken, for example, in Syria, where they have helped the Syrian government

This would be the same Syrian government that hanged about 13,000 prisoners at a secret prison after drumhead military trials on the basis of confessions obtained via torture?

Here's a clue: there are no "good guys" in the Syrian civil war right now, except possibly the refugees fleeing it and maybe the Kurds (if you subscribe to the theory that being crapped on consistently by everybody else makes you saintly). The Syrian government is a sectarian Ba'ath police state, the rebels are dominated by folks like Da'esh and their rivals, the Russians are only in it because they want a Mediterranean port with basing rights for the Russian Navy, Turkey is in it to fuck with the Kurds.

I'll grant you that the USA has a long and ignoble history of meddling with other folks' elections and governments — witness why the Iranians are so suspicious of US motivations, for example — but two wrongs do not make a right.

208:

OGH's #207 missed out how the USians are only in Syria because they want to do down Da'esh (but aren't clear on how, otherwise why would they ascribe totally misplaced statehood to a bunch of murderous thugs who don't actually support the code they claim to live by?) and stop the Russians having a Mediterranean naval base.

209:

While they may not be wrong, Sinn Fein's glee is (to mangle the metaphor at the start of this thread) rather like the glee of those who cried fire in the crowded theatre realising that there is a fire, and that someone has locked the exits.

While the initial skid appears to be under control, in no way has the car crash been averted yet.

Greg @202: Cautious agreement. The money is far from in safe hands, particularly with the NI Assembly still in limbo.

Curious to read Elderly Cynic's take on latest developments; although, I don't think it will significantly alter the various theses he has already put forward.

210:

Your narrative grasp of the actualities of the situation are somewhat limited.

The dubious friends of Donald Trump: the Russians YT: Zembla, May 11th, 2017, 45:45. Dutch investigative documentary, somewhat useful.

A Timeline: Russia and President Trump Moyers & Company, 19th June, 2017 (1979-2017, looks fairly mainstream / public - only useful for getting a sense of how these things work).

Look upwards and spot my input: EU banks are back on the menu which signifies a major renewal of something that people were stamping hard upon (probably, looking it all over, due to Uber being burnt / Brexit falling apart like a rotten zombie, but digression time).

The issue isn't that Trump in particular has lots of ties to Russian oligarchs (he does, and it's fairly blatant), it's that his connections are just so medium key / tiny sums (millions, not billions). (Cue famous 1950's film time).

The issue is, of course, that everyone has ties to Russian oligarchs. And Russia is happy to play the hard-man to keep people from sniffing out just how tightly knitted Capital, DAVOS and so on really are at the top.

I mean, here's a gallery (mostly old 2008-2012 data) of connections:

Bilderberg Connections Imgur - partially incomplete, old data (2008) but gives you an idea of the scale of these things.

But what’s also true is that all these different campaigns used the same obscure branding agency. Over the course of the final few weeks of the referendum, the Electoral Commission Website tells us, Arron Banks’ Leave.EU, the official Vote Leave campaign, Grassroots Out, Ukip and the Democratic Unionist Party collectively spent over £800,000 with Soopa Doopa, a branding agency based, you guessed it, in the tiny Cambridgeshire city of Ely.

As part of their Brexit campaign, the DUP spent almost £100,000 with Soopa Doopa, buying 15,000 Corex Boards, 5,000 bags, 100,000 window stickers, 7,000 t-shirts and 50,000 badges. On BBC Northern Ireland, the Stephen Nolan Show recently asked its listeners if they had seen any of the DUP branded Brexit material. openDemocracy did spot some of this, but not in Northern Ireland – in Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, Leave.EU spent £20,652.25 with Soopa Doopa, Grassroots Out £42,000, Ukip £18,000, and Vote Leave £637,108.80. In the whole of 2014-15, Soopa Doopa had a turnover of just three-quarters of a million pounds.

A New Special Relationship for America and Britain Emerges with Climate Science Deniers Linked to Trump and Brexit DeSmogUK, Jan 16th, 2017

~

It's Global Capital, Jake. (And this is only really the M2/3 levels).

211:

uff, missing link:

Meet the Soopa Doopa branding agency that delivered Brexit Open Democracy UK, 26th June, 2017


That's a brand new part of the puzzle: "Scoopa Doopa" - these people really do have childish minds.

212:

Oh, and expect Scooby-Doo / Scoopa Doopa meme mashups: the non-Alt-Right are wildly outclassed in this area.

And yes: the DeSmogUK link actively shows collusion between USA factions and the current serving UK government. And not the "nice" ones. It's blatant.


~

From the Tor piece:

Dead girls wreaked havoc when they felt like someone or something was coming at them. So don’t come at a dead girl. Easy lesson learned quickly.

Dead girls have itchy trigger fingers. They hit back hard. You shouldn’t need to ask about the reasons for that.

213:

THE DUP: £100k for £100 mil / seat, £1bil+ total.

That practically writes itself.


That's the problem with these things: the graft gets out of hand, and you end up paying out serious multipliers on the off-side (c.f. Congress seats and Industry pork barrels, USA edition).

214:

I mean, really: The DUP get to be serious power-players (lol) by buying a few newspaper ads (print medium, zzz) and some branded tat not using their own money?

And the Conservatives are beholden to low-ball US entities whose intellectual powers are being turned into soup by Dead Girls?


You have to be fucking kidding me.


~

Anyhow: something to cheer the world up, possibly the greatest thing you'll watch today: The internet, so glorious Mark Whitelegge, Twitter, 24th June, 2017 - the embedded video is the draw, and it's amazing. (Just. Wait. For. It. And. Then. The. 2nd. Coming.)

215:

I believe there are a great many "good guys" in the Syrian war, most notably the Syrian people who have suffered enormously to prevent an effort by foreign governments including the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and Israel to destroy Syria. I also think the mere fact that the Syrian government has survived this long against these foreign attacks shows President Assad has far more support from the Syrian people than most western sources are willing to admit. Regarding the 13,000 prisoners you think the Syrian government has executed, this article from Moon of Alabama, http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/02/amnesty-report-hearsay.html
explains why I suspect it's as mythical as Iraq's so called weapons of mass destruction in the Iraq War.

216:

You can hark onto ancient lefty American bloggers who aren't connected or you could try updating your wet-ware.

Yachts of Trump financial backer, Russian oligarch seen close together myPalmBeachPost, March 17th, 2017.

Yep, that's Mercer meeting Rybolovlev, who has serious Cyprus / Monaco ties (Hello, the name is Bond, James Bond - but, really, it's the centre of getting cash out of Russia if you don't want to do business with the Germans or Singapore, and Monaco relies on "political neutrality for the ultra-wealthy" as basically its founding ethos).

Trump and the oligarch Politico, 29th July, 2016.

So, meep meep.

Mercer + him, Murdoch + Chinese, Bannon + Vatican / Knights of X etc.

~

I'm thinking Moon of Alabama is kinda outdated old man.

217:

(Having now read Moon of Alabama, it's M2 level and fairly accurate but without much overall insight. Meh. Basic B*tch reading levels for Stratfor groupies)
Anyhow: And here's our second edition @EveningStandard ..... George Osborne, twitter, 26th June, 2017.

Literally 20th Century memes.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is a 1999 American spy action comedy film and the second installment in the Austin Powers series

Not even up to You never go full Retard! YT: Film, Tropic Thunder, 2:51. Which is an ancient meme, 2008.

~

George, George: you're running on fumes of the 20th C, it doesn't end well. (Someone stage an intervention, apparently he likes the spirits and his intake is as bad as mine these days).

218:

Actually at BT they moved our team to the ground floor when we had a plus sized guy join - They also had to buy a special chair to support his weight.

Not sure he would managed to squeeze through the turnstiles on one half of the building exits though.

219:

Moon of Alabama is written by a German, not an American.
And yes, if you want to play six degrees of Donald Trump, you can easily find that Trump knows Russians, and people who know Russians. Or Chinese, or Swahili, or Swiss, or members of the economic elite from any country. But what does that prove? That Trump is corrupt?
Since I happen to think that almost the entire US political system is corrupt, you won't get much of an argument on that from me. But again, what does that prove about the subject in question?
Trump sort of hinted in the election that he might be less hostile to Russia than Obama had been. You could argue that this was because Trump had some sort of ties with some Russian or other, but you could as easily point to his desire to do the opposite of almost everything Obama did, or to some idea that he could break up the developing Russia China alliance.
The point though is that powerful factions in the US wanted to make sure that Obama's policy of hostility to Russia was maintained, and they jumped on Clinton's excuse about why she lost to Trump (the Russians ate her homework) as a way of insuring that.

221:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billmon

You're kinda outing yourself here.

You've not shown what level you play at, so you might be fronting for the BND, who are up to their eyeballs in super-dodgy neo-Nazi Gladio Ops.


As ever, provide a Link. Not just a blog (which is basically the Brown Moses of German Intel, allegedly so you claim) but something juicy / fun.


p.s.

I can spot a ZH reader a mile away by the language patterns. Cute.

222:

Lol, but no.

Except on the debit side is that big £470 million of funds committed to future payments under the Renewable Heating Incentive scheme. Yes, RHI hasn’t gone away, you know.

RHI is over 20 years, it's locked in, and only if everyone honors the contracts signed (probably not). UK still on the hook for ~£600mil etc.

While it's cute to equate £1 bil 2/5yrs versus £1.15 bil 20 years, doesn't work like that.

Go look at Scoopa Doopa for the real graft.

223:

Maths was clearly simplified, but I liked the overall point that much of the promised money is not new. So while not exactly being sold a polished turd, the NI electorate aren't exactly getting the deal they thought they were (and nor is it yet clear how fucked we're going to be when the Brexit pigeons really come home to roost). Overall feeling that DUP are rearranging deckchairs on Belfast's most famous export.

Soopa Doopa is interesting. In a horrible "can't look away" sense.

224:

If you're feeling conspiracy minded, here's something to link Northern Ireland, Russia and the US presidency (just for the fun of it, concoct your own story to fit!):

Billionaire Mordashov's £40 million super yacht docks in Belfast

Here's why the Air Force Two plane landed at Belfast International Airport

(Being lazy. Not digging. Bed is calling with it's soft siren song of dark forgetting.)

225:

The reason I cited that post from Moon of Alabama is that it pointed out some problems with an Amnesty International report which OGH cited as proof that the Syrian government were basically a bunch of monsters. You responded by saying you weren't impressed by the level of reasoning displayed by the author of MoA, (an assessment with which I disagree, though of course that might just show my own lack of sophistication).
So rather than sneer in general at MoA, and by implication at me too, could you explain what exactly you find incorrect about MoA's criticism of the Amnesty International report? Do you disagree with the argument that AI's numbers are simply a "back of the envelope" calculation based on wildly unproven allegations? Maybe you disagree with MOA's explanation of why AI's claim that a specific Syrian Mufti approved the killings is implausible? What exactly, in your view, shows that MOA's assessment of the AI report is wrong?

226:

Lol, M3 play! Fun!

Actually, that's kinda obvious, but interesting. If I were the Russians at this point, I'd just get oligarchs to park expensive yachts whenever American Government were coming to town to sow discord.

It's also a quiet tell that everyone knows everyone's travel plans, these days.


What exactly, in your view, shows that MOA's assessment of the AI report is wrong?

Because I've seen the videos / livefeed etc. MoA is correct, on a M2 level, that PSYOPs are being run by both National Agencies as well as gifted amateurs (DO A GREP: I LINKED THIS THE MOMENT IT WENT LIVE: Fake News and False Flags. How the Pentagon paid a British PR firm $500 million for top secret Iraq propaganda The Beureau of Investigative Journalism, Oct 2nd, 2016. Do GREP or Go Home).

It was 2013 when things got bad[tm], with livers being eaten and general atrocities being committed.

Narrator: It didn't get better.

I mean, really. 10 seconds search.

NSFL NSFL PEOPLE GETTING TORTURED FOR REALZ

SYRIA SHABIHA TORTURE PRISONERS Liveleak, 2013, 2:17

Shabiha

~

Go watch five years of media (PRO-TIP: THAT WAS NOT A NASTY VIDEO, IT WAS A TAME ONE) and come back to me with your "Moon of Alabama" Brown Moses type nonsense.


Oh, and get a fucking Soul while you're at it.

227:

...except that when President Putin himself admits that the hackers might have been patriotic Russians, choosing to hack those nations who "say bad things about Russia".

https://www.rt.com/news/390510-putin-patriotic-hackers-cyberwarfare/

Another time he suggested that activitists were not acting under the orders of the Russian Government, and merely patriotic individuals, he was talking about the "little green men" in Crimea that he later admitted were Spetsnaz...

https://www.rt.com/news/crimea-defense-russian-soldiers-108/

I'd be curious to hear your explanation of the use of Polonium-210 to create the very public murder of Alexander Litvinenko; "just patriotic Russians", or a very pointed warning from that Russians had better not to offend their Government?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Litvinenko

228:

Actually found out who Mordashov was meeting (wasn't the Americans, that was just trolling).

Oh, boy.

The DUP is in a lot of trouble if that one goes live.

229:

Ah yes, feeding trolls for amusement. Such a wonderful use of time in the summer.

230:

Answer #166.

Fairly sure that nematodes early development (~500+ mil years prior) developed this technique and it only became odd once parasites / parasitoids made it a losing move.

Hint: you either posit this as the start, that parasitoids etc hijacked the DNA / defense code to, or it's an early reaction where the host being parasitized develops the novel response to grow it's own, much more bad-ass and terrible version to out-compete the invaders.

Both are interesting. Hint: Insects pupae are a direct response, soooooooooooooooo.


Now I'm going to have to dig up a case where the parasite / parasitoid lives through the pupae stage. This is incredibly hard to find (in the insect clade, not nematodes: I mean, basically, nematodes are the multi-cellular versions of Viruses. Total war and rampant gene swapping going on).

231:

p.s.

Budget effects—total savings of $321 billion over 10 years. That's $541 billion in tax cuts and $210 billion in penalty cuts (for eliminating the individual and employer mandates) offset by $772 billion in Medicaid cuts (26% of the Medicaid program) and $408 billion in reduced tax credits on the individual market. In total, $1.1 trillion over 10 years is being cut from the health care system.

I'd start playing seriously, if I were you.

Given this troll is playing M4/5 levels of causality (Nemesis, Ms May and others) while your lot are stuck playing the peons in the mud and have Dem Californian people squashing even the inklings of Single Payer stuff.

And no: EU banking attacks is a bad move, it's attempting to re-run 2011/2. That does not end well for you, given three years of drinking. [We learn while playing, the drink is the memory purge to prevent abaption to moves and so forth].

That's a pro-tip from the Other Side (Dead Girls Division, totally not amused by Brexit and so on, now you see our way of doing things, hint, hint, old men get killed): we do not like you.

It's a Test.

232:

UK: 43-40% split.

It's not great, it's not even a B+, but it's passable, especially once the muppet levels of dribble the opposition were running are further made clear (Mail, Sun, Murdoch, Scoopa Doopa, Saudi, US species traitors etc etc).

It's a M3/4 Test.

The UK passed, by the skin on their little chin chin. Souls and Empathy, they have them.

The USA, did not. Now, make a fucking choice and sort your shit out before the #WildHunt begins.


We are not feeling merciful.

233:

The Test is simple: Does Hate win in your society / culture?

If so, GOTO Authoritarian Dystopian Autocratic / Theological Slavery and loss of Humanity.

And boy, did the UK ones cheat like fucking rabid little psychotic bunnies. "We WON WE WON" - Full on spectrum cheating little cunts. Whoooo Boy, even the electronic hacks and lizard flashes eh?

But, reader: the little boy's sail boat of love sailed on and she remembered her Enid Blyton and the Famous Five and so forth.

More importantly:

Our Kind Watched The Brilliant Nights and Sang Songs While the Wales Were Alive and Swum In the Seas When The Coral Lived And Have Dragonflies To Summon And Dragons In The Sky.

You're Fucked

*nose wiggle*

Now, we fight.

234:

"will some shiny lad have had them away down the markets?"

All your other points are good ones, but this one may have a solution. If you put them in boxes that trigger the fire alarm when opened (which you probably would for other sufficient reasons) it will wake everyone up. This will A) alert everyone to the theft of goods and B) make the residents mad who will then probably deliver the miscreant a good kicking for waking them up. (Not all residents, Mrs Jones from number 47 will just bear it but those lads in 34 are right nutters).

The ones inside the flat aren't an issue. Make them part of the fittings and fixtures of the rental agreement. If they go walkabout then the tenants have to pay for their replacement. They'd be no more likely (nor less likely) to be nicked than the stove.

235:

You know, informing me I lack a soul because I disagree with you is really going a long, long way beyond the limits of politeness or even sanity.
No, I haven't chosen to watch your torture porn. After all, the first link you gave me was an account of how western governments spent huge amounts of money producing fake videos supposedly created by their enemies. I'm not quite clear on why you did that. I mean, if a British firm can be paid to create fake Al Qaida videos, wouldn't that sort of make a torture video supposedly created in a Syrian prison less credible? How do we know your link isn't to another fake video? Watching a video in which people are supposedly tortured isn't really relevant to our discussion unless there is some proof that the video is really showing the truth about something which the Syrian government really did. The truth about Syria, like the truth about all the West's official enemies, is buried under such a mass of western sponsored lies and deceptions that it's admittedly hard to decide by watching the western media whether any particular accusation is true or not.
One reason I just find it hard to believe the accusations of Alawite murder squads in the Wikipedia article you posted is that it's entirely inconsistent with the way the war has actually gone. Most of the Syrian Arab Army is made up of Sunnis. If it weren't for the strong support of a great many Syrian Sunnis, the Syrian government would have fallen years ago. If the government was really that quick to go around murdering people, I doubt they'd have the internal support they've demonstrated.

And in conclusion, I notice you failed to mention any flaw in the argument MOA presented, on why the AI report wasn't well written, or why MoA isn't an important blog that is well worth reading. Your slightly hysterical ranting about Brown Moses really makes me wonder if you actually believe any of this, or just don't want to see any deviation from the western media's script on Syria.

236:

I'm going to do you a favor.

After this, never, ever, ever attempt to do what you just tried to do:

You know, informing me I lack a soul because I disagree with you is really going a long, long way beyond the limits of politeness or even sanity.

#1 No, your reality is based on total ignorance of actual reality, where there's 5+ years of video evidence of real life humans being tortured to death, beheaded, raped, burnt alive and so on.

No, I haven't chosen to watch your torture porn.

See #1: It's not "torture porn" (that would be classified into multiple levels, but that video is not on that scale), it's reality. You have chosen to ignore the pain, suffering and reality of a conflict for whatever reasons, yet still opine about it: that is actual torture porn.

#2 Treating the suffering of Others, ignoring the reality of it just to read a blog and make some ideological points?

That's Torture Porn mon ami.

After all, the first link you gave me was an account of how western governments spent huge amounts of money producing fake videos supposedly created by their enemies. I'm not quite clear on why you did that. I mean, if a British firm can be paid to create fake Al Qaida videos, wouldn't that sort of make a torture video supposedly created in a Syrian prison less credible?

#3 No, not if you'd done your research and actually watched the films created by said entities. I mean, sure, it's propaganda, but no Western PR company actually killed people in front of camera for their pay-checks.

#3.1 Israel / Mossad is on the reallllllly dubious cusp edge of this with filming hits on enemies. Which they do. And have done in Syria. But, they're State Sanctioned, not third party PR hacks.

#3.2 USA demands that all strikes using MANPADS / TOWS licensed through the CIA etc are filmed (bad bad blowback in Afgan, need to know when they're used with a receipt). This is technically not the same, since they're filming snuff movies / propaganda to prevent future... oh fuck it. It's not torture porn since it's war.

Watching a video in which people are supposedly tortured isn't really relevant to our discussion unless there is some proof that the video is really showing the truth about something which the Syrian government really did.

#4 You either watch the source, trace the embedded data and then trace to units, or fuck off. You're touting a "War Porn" blog, and cannot even watch a (MILD FOR THE REGION) video of torture. Hint: I sourced it because it has a certified pedigree. Who knew?

The truth about Syria, like the truth about all the West's official enemies, is buried under such a mass of western sponsored lies and deceptions that it's admittedly hard to decide by watching the western media whether any particular accusation is true or not.

#5 Which is why some of us watch it all. Hint: liver eating soldiers? Guess who might have been there to verify said story?

One reason I just find it hard to believe the accusations of Alawite murder squads in the Wikipedia article you posted is that it's entirely inconsistent with the way the war has actually gone.

#6 Wikipedia article was to describe, for non-Arab speakers who the people were. It's not up for debate that a) they exist, b) they work like that or c) they were involved in that video.

Most of the Syrian Arab Army is made up of Sunnis. If it weren't for the strong support of a great many Syrian Sunnis, the Syrian government would have fallen years ago.

#7 Ok, sigh, talking point strawman, Zzzz. Please note: you've introduced a talking-point that I never raised. Yes, you happen to be correct, up to a point. The next question is do you know why that's the case?

If the government was really that quick to go around murdering people, I doubt they'd have the internal support they've demonstrated.

#8 Er, wut? It's a fucking war you total fucking moron. People die. People get murdered. People get tortured. People get raped.

Are you really this soulless you cannot see what you're saying?

And in conclusion, I notice you failed to mention any flaw in the argument MOA presented, on why the AI report wasn't well written, or why MoA isn't an important blog that is well worth reading. Your slightly hysterical ranting about Brown Moses really makes me wonder if you actually believe any of this, or just don't want to see any deviation from the western media's script on Syria.

Ahah, sorry mate: busted. You managed to slip up and admit you know who Brown Moses is.

That's the trap. If you know that site, you're skulling around the various PSYOP sites and are trolling for $.

Now fuck off.

237:

JTRIG GIVES THIS ONE: 2/10

Knows what Brown Moses is: has never watched any real video.

Keyboard Warrior: 8/10.

238:

p.s.

You know, informing me I lack a soul

Sigh. No, I just proved it, by using your own words.

Thatsthejoke.jpg

Ace Of Spades YT: Music, Motorhead, 2:56


Fucking dead shells.

239:

Our Kind Watched The Brilliant Nights and Sang Songs While the Wales Were Alive and Swum In the Seas When The Coral Lived And Have Dragonflies To Summon And Dragons In The Sky.

And now you see what we fight against. Co-opting the Machine. Right on cue. The sad thing is you imagine you're not predictable.

M4/5, Do. Not. Fuck. With. Us.

Enter Sandman YT: Music, Motorhead, 5:14.


RIP Lenny, fun guy. One of the good ones.

240:

The Test is simple: Does Hate win in your society / culture?
Temptations.

Anyway, immediate news is that the US CBO threw the US Senate massive-transfer-of-[life-and-wealth]-from-poor-to-[wealth]-to-rich bill back into play. Going with the newly feistier (but still staid) NYTimes: Senate Health Bill Would Leave 22 Million More Uninsured, C.B.O. Says. (Also, just for the headline, though days old, (2017/06/22))

For Americans, this is a short summary, not by any stretch complete: Thursday in March
1) Keep on calling. Targets are Murkowski, Cassidy, Portman, Capito-Moore, Cotton, Cruz, Lee, Johnson. Adjust your asks per your Senator. What might work for Murkowski won’t work for Cruz and vice versa.

M. Pence. Do not like.

241:

[dang, hit post by accident before edits complete]

242:

Mr Stross, I would like to know if the numerous insults Atropos Logos directs at me in this thread are consistent with your moderation policy.

Just to recap, the subject of this thread is how social media can be used to manipulate public opinion. OGH cited an Amnesty International report which, if true, would indeed show the Syrian government had behaved tyrannically. I posted a link to a post on Moon of Alabama, which argued that the Amnesty International report OGH had cited was flawed. Atropos Logos immediately began attempting to distract attention from the issue I'd raised, which was whether or not the arguments MoA had made against the Amnesty International report were valid.
It seems to me that the posts Atropos Logos then made are a good example of the way social media can be abused, in an attempt to shape the opinions of those reading this thread.

243:

Awww, HONEY-BUN, now that's a sore loser.

I answered all your points, with evidence. I even included links to Western PR ($500mil) stuff, which rather undermines your point (and rather actually strengthened your silly points - we do try to make it a fair fight). Don't play with Bastet / Dragons if you can't take your Soul being lost as a result.

p.s.

No, really. Soulless Husk, You offered it up and played. NOM NOM NOM.

Comfortable Numb YT: Music, Pink Floyd, 6:53

Don't Play War Games Against Old Ones.

Νέμεσις ... You humans have forgotten what Existential Fear is apart from the physical. Times Change.

244:

...long way beyond the limits of politeness or even sanity.

That was your bet. In writing, to Me, personally. That I was Mad, or You were (A=/= -A, it's the first axiom of Logic).

And you bet it against actual horror in Syria.

Which we have to witness and feel when the children die.


Not a smart move.

Wish You Were Here YT: Pink Floyd, 4:53.


Your Mind/Soul. It's Mine.

245:

I'm going to do you a favor.
After this, never, ever, ever attempt to do what you just tried to do:

Narrator: He attempted it again.

Triptych.

How the White Man Cries as his Soul is taken by his own bet while he shouts how unfair it is to the World and Gods.

Requiem in D minor YT: Music, Mozart, 55:14


Our Kind Do Not Go Mad.


Be Seeing You


246:

The "Many Named One" is OGH's pet goddess. (Or maybe Charlie is her pet human - these relationships are always a little difficult for outsiders to decipher.) Being divine, she is not bound by the same rules that bind the rest of us, and by the same token, it is not necessary to take her threats seriously (the wisdom of such a course being entirely another matter) and it is of course understood that she will be entirely gnomic, because if it was easy to understand prophecy we'd all be rich from the stock market.

Many of us killfile her. (I do.) Some of us do not block her. There is an extension for Firefox which I use for this purpose and I can't remember the name... sucks to be the new guy, right?

On the subject of Trump/Russia, I have very little doubt that it has happened, but for a skeptic such as yourself, let me point out that at some point there will be a trial, with some very high-powered lawyers involved on both sides, at which point the issue will be litigated in a courtroom with the public watching. After that point we'll have a very good idea of what's up and who did what. Meanwhile, stop pestering the local oracle.

Meanwhile, John Emdall has some advice for you.

247:

Well, my experience dates literally from the ZX Spectrum Year, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, men used leather loincloths and 3270 terminals, and making a reserve implied using a phone tied to a wall :)

But I think I can surely predict that neither crew nor security will allow emergency rows to be potentially blocked. “The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few”.

248:

there are no "good guys" in the Syrian civil war right now, except possibly the refugees fleeing it and maybe the Kurds ...
So very, very true.
Unlike, probably, the SPanish Civil War ( With which this has disturbing parallels ) where the Republicans were the legitimate guvmint ....
However, it looks as though Drunpf is going fo a "Short Victorious War" against Assad, whilst gambling that Putin won't up the ante, even though he's already got too much invested to back down?
Not good.
Um.

249:

I think ( maybe, pehaps? ) that an "agreement" will be fudged-up - probably to be fought-over later, with much mud-slinging, because no-one at all, really wants "Direct Rule" again, least of all Westminster.
And, of course, if Stormont is apparently "in charge", then they can agree to carve up the extra cash, each for their own dubious slush-funds.

250:

So it's a GIANT CONSPIRACY - right?
Except that it is, apparently hidden in plain sight, so it isn't "a conspiracy" in the classic sense.
Simply greedy bastards trying to rip the rest of us off, yes?
Except that, so far, they appear to be succeeding.

[ Which brings me back to one of my pet hates: Corbyn.
If he had the brains of a LOuse, he's be trumpeting this RIGHT NOW & demanding a second referendum & an abandonment of At 50.
To call him a wanker is to insult honest masturbators. ]

251:

Just for the heck of it, here are some high level criticisms of the "killer analysis" by "Moon of Alabama".

In short: There's a lot of flawed logic, personal opinion masquerading as objective analysis, and dubious moral arguments (for values of "dubious" that include "apologist for mass murder"). While the analysis fairly points out that the Amnesty International numbers may be exaggerated, it cannot deliver a killer blow that proves the report utterly wrong, or disprove the underlying point that the Syrian regime is a bloodthirsty dictatorship engaged in multiple warcrimes.

In conclusion it reads like something written by someone with no real-world experience of the horrors of the Syrian conflict, who is suffering from cognitive dissonance trying to imagine to them, and is unwilling to believe that people can be such evil shits.

I've broken it down point by point with the same numbering as the article itself:

1)) Most of the witnesses are identified as opposition figures and "former" officials who do not live in Syria.

I'm not sure why this counts against this report. It seems unlikely to me that Assad loyalists would be whistle blowing on mass murder sanctioned by Assad's regime, or why it's unreasonable that people would want to talk about this and then remain in Syria where they could be easily targeted by the regime. Sounds to me like the kind of argument used to discredit rape victims when they appear nervous facing their attacker in open court.

2)) The numbers Amnesty provides are in a very wide range. None are documented in lists or similar exhibits.

The war criminals did not adequately document their war crimes. Enough said.

Also this sections seems to be arguing that the Syrian regime only carried out a few mass executions, so really they're not that bad. That doesn't paint the author of the piece (or anyone who supports his arguments) in a particularly pleasant light.

The author also says that the witness statements "seem at least exaggerated and are not verifiable at all". Without a detailed breakdown of the author's experience of Syrian prisons and executions in same, it's hard to take this personal opinion as evidence of much, except that the author might be a sane human being who has difficulty imagining that other humans can be evil sadistic mass-murderers. Whiff of "denialism" on this one.

3)) The numbers of people Amnesty claims were executed are - at best - a wild ass guess. How come that Amnesty can name only very few of those?

Shades of the previous argument "they're not that bad because they didn't torture and execute quite as many people as AI said", with the added playground-level taunt of: "Names or it didn't happen!"

While this is not a criticism totally devoid of truth, it isn't exactly the killer blow that the author seems to think it is.

4)) The report is padded up with before/after satellite pictures of enlarged graveyards in Syria. It claims that these expansions are a sign of mass graves of government opponents.  But there is zero evidence for that.

This seems like a fair criticism. But again, it's criticising additional material and circumstantial evidence rather than the meat of the report, so again, hardly a decisive rebuttal of the main thrust of the report.

5)) The report talks of "extrajudicially executed" prisoners but then describes (military) court procedures and a necessary higher up approval of the judgement. One may not like the laws that govern the Syrian state but the courts and the procedures Amnesty describes seem to follow Syrian laws and legal processes. They are thereby - by definition - not extrajudicial.

While technically and literally absolutely correct, this logic is morally suspect at best.

I could just straight up Godwin this, and point out that the Holocaust wasn't "extrajudicial" either.

Do you really want to be on the side of anyone making this argument? The author has wandered into very unpleasant places now. (I'm not usually one to agree with the Many Naméd One, but her comment re "souls" might actually have some relevance here.)

6)) In its Executive Summary the Amnesty report says that "Death sentences are approved by the Grand Mufti of Syria and ...". But there is no evidence provided of "approval" by the Grand Mufti in the details of the report.

This seems to be making an entire argument that ignores the old axiom "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". See also my previous comment about war criminals failing to properly document their war crimes.

The author also seems to go on to argue that these things simply couldn't have happened because they would be illegal under current Syrian law. The flaw in this logic is so glaringly obvious that I won't belabour it here.

252:

It has been my opinion for some time that although the DUP make lots of noise about restoring the NI Assembly, "direct rule" is actually what they want. Especially with their current level of influence at Westminster and even more so with Sinn Fein still keeping to their policy of not taking seats in parliament, throw into the mix that the agreement with the Tories does not have a hard clause making the "billion pound bribe" contingent on restoring devolution (no devolution, DUP controls the whole pot?) -- what incentive now exists for the DUP to honestly work for the restoration of the Assembly? And do you think that May will see devolution or keeping her new majority as more important?

253:

If the government was really that quick to go around murdering people, I doubt they'd have the internal support they've demonstrated.
Oh dear.
Godwin time.
In reverse time-order:

Chairman Mao, Josef Vissarionovitch Djugvlashi ( Stalin ) &, of course, Adolf.

254:

Indeed. See my long winded response too. Sometimes Godwin is the right response.

255:

More likely is that she (?) is a "Holy Fool"

From "Boris Gudunov" by M Mussorgsky:
CLIP HERE with subtitles.

The version I remember says:
BG: Pray for me, (Jurodivy - the holy fool ) pray for me!
HF: I can't Boris, Holy Mary won't let me ...

But, the problem with Holy Fools, is that, sometimes / a lot of the time - they ARE fools.
And their messages are undecipherable.

Other, not-so-obscure hint.
"Boris Gudunov" is set just before the "Time of Troubles" in Russia.

If TrunpPence go on like this, there will be a Time of Troubles in the USSA

256:

If we get as far as Troubles in the USA. Since Trump seems to be determined to escalate things in Syria, and Putin seems unlikely to back down, I'm genuinely starting to feel like we're sliding back to the darkest days of the Cold War.

257:

I have read the Moon of Alabama blog once or twice before. I am not an expert on Syria, psy-ops or really anything that would make me feel that I could reasonably criticise whatever they are blogging about.
With that said, the blog smells *very* heavily of one-sided propaganda, armchair and conspiracy theories. Based on your critique, it seems that MoA is following the same guidebook that Russian propaganda of recent years:
a) don't outright deny, just cast doubt on evidence
b) overwhelm the reader with links, videos, etc. so that they will feel that there's loads of evidence for your point
c) because of a), the reader is forced to accept your seemingly logical narrative as the truth
So the main reason I am not buying this sort of material is that I feel it is not actually trying to establish the truth, instead it is trying to paint Russia as the good guys or if that really isn't possible, turn to whataboutism, casting doubt and uncertainty as to whether it is even possible to know the truth at all. And this works really well with all types who are inclined to believe conspiracy theories, because now with Syria you have a huge amount of material of which you can pick all the evidence that fit your story, discard/discredit the rest, and the result actually looks like a credible analysis.
Finally, as a non-expert in the subject matter, it doesn't make sense to me to trust MoA, whose basic premise is that You Shouldn't Trust The Other Guy. In my opinion, this is a definite signal that belief is more important than proof or logic or rational thought. Finally, the comments below any given article are basically ZH-lite, which kind of seals the deal.

258:

Yes, though there is a graduation of evil, even in Syria. What most people miss is that this is NOT like Iraq or Afghanistan, but is a campaign in the tightening blockade of Russia (with support for the anti-Shia pogrom as a recent addition). None of the principals give a fuck about the Syrians or even fighting the real terrorists (Iran is not a principal).

259:

Trump sort of hinted in the election that he might be less hostile to Russia than Obama had been.

This is such an absurd mischaracterization of his public and enthusiastic cooperation with Putin's regime that I can't fully describe my feelings without resorting to saying things that will get me red carded.

You're either a Russian asset, or so deeply clueless that you might as well be.

260:

Now try applying the same standard of proof to the claims that it was the Soviets, er, Russia. You will come to the conclusion that it isn't possible to be sure about most of the specifics, but it's assuredly a case of the pot calling the kettle black (whichever way round). The war isn't cold any longer, but hasn't quite erupted into direct conflict.

The real problem is that the Russians have very good historical reasons to be paranoid, the USA is waging an economic and political war against them, they are being threatened by the USA/NATO, they have been almost begging (unsuccessfully) for negotiations, and they have damn-all room for manoeuvre. Any de-escalation has to come from our side, because we DO have room for manoeuvre.

261:

Mr Stross, I would like to know if the numerous insults Atropos Logos directs at me in this thread are consistent with your moderation policy.

I'm just up and checking in on the overnight comments, and ... nope, I'm seeing the many-named one systematically taking down the propaganda sources you're citing.

I'd be more receptive to your arguments if you weren't defending a regime (Putins) that queer-bashes civil rights protesters, murders journalists, boasts of hacking other nations' media, has a military staff college that teaches the Dugin doctrine, and has a cunningly rigged constitution such that the president is now on his third term in office (term limits permit two terms — carefully drafted so that he swapped with his deputy for a term before coming back). Oh, and next you're going to be asserting that MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian separatists rather than a Russian air defense team on the wrong side of the border, and all those Russian exiles dying in the UK of polonium poisoning just happened to choke on a smoke detector.

Syria is a little less accessible for in-person fact checking (hey, I know people who've been queer bashed by the cops in Moscow) but? The Assad regime have been ruthless for generations: google on the Hama Massacre in 1982 if you think this is anything new.

So after investigating your complaint, my reading is that you exist somewhere on the same continuum as Holocaust denialists, and your whining is falling on deaf ears.

262:

Dave, since I was the one who first mentioned the Moon of Alabama on this thread, I'd like to try to respond to the issues you raise.
You say of MOA, that it:

" a) don't outright deny, just cast doubt on evidence
b) overwhelm the reader with links, videos, etc. so that they will feel that there's loads of evidence for your point"

Okay, but if you disagree with a position, any position, of course you will try to cast doubt on the evidence that the proponents of that
position offer. And you will try to offer as much evidence as you can to support your own views.

So how could anyone, persuade you of anything you don't already believe, if they can't cast doubt or present evidence without making you suspicious? I agree with you that MoA does tend to argue, when it discusses Syria, that the Russians, who are in Syria with the support of the legal Syrian government, are more justified than the US. But is the idea that Russia might be right about something so fundamentally impossible that anyone who claims to believe it must be a secret Russian agent, engaging in reprehensible 'psych' ops?
If you automatically dismiss MoA as Russian propaganda, is there any sort of different website that could, even theoretically, make this sort of argument more persuasively to you? And, if so, what would it be like?
How exactly, setting aside this specific issue, can we approach discussing any argument that varies too much from what we already believe?

263:

See my # 248
Is Syria our Spanish Civil War?
Or the utter insanity of Saudi, the progenitor of most Mid_East (etc) terrorism, going for Quatar, which hosts Al-Jazeera (oops, can't have honest reporting, can we? ) whilst committing mass-murder in Yemen the trigger - or will they roll into one?
One thing - apart from selling guns to both sides, we should keep out of it. (/snark )

264:

Except that it is, apparently hidden in plain sight, so it isn't "a conspiracy" in the classic sense.

The word "conspiracy" implies coordination, insofar as the conspirators are meant to have some sort of plan. What we're witnessing is more like an emergent phenomenon — the folks with the money have a common interest in pushing events in one particular direction: they're not running on a plan or coordinating with each other, but they're independently acting to promote a set of outcomes favourable to them.

That the effect of these moves are indistinguishable from the effects of an actual conspiracy is pretty much irrelevant.

Corbyn: If he had the brains of a LOuse, he's be trumpeting this RIGHT NOW & demanding a second referendum & an abandonment of At 50.

A friend of mine with Momentum connections gave me a plausible explanation. Corbyn is no Brexit enthusiast, but the existing EU structures are designed to facilitate the activities of large corporations. Corbyn is an enthusiast for rolling back the privatization agenda of past governments, starting with the railways. If he pursues renationalization — even by the passive expedient of letting the train operators' franchises lapse without renewal — he could well be sued by the current franchise owners for restraint of trade or some other specious bullshit. In particular Beardy McVirginTrains allegedly has a personal grudge against Corbyn because of this incident and might well take it to court, and drag in the likes of Arriva (Deutsche Bahn). Virgin have a particular motivation for preventing a renationalization agenda from getting started because of the Virgin Care franchise taking over NHS services (thank you, Jeremy Cunt) — they stand to make billions more out of privatisation and will fight tooth and nail to prevent Corbyn stopping it.

Upshot: announcing he'd cancel A50 would hand the lets-privatise-everything mob a rod to beat Corbyn's back with if he tries to take back control (heh) over public services. He might be able to do it if he's in the negotiating seat himself and can spin the agenda ("Look! I've done this deal whereby we take back control over our public services from foreign multinationals, but we get to keep the benefits of EU membership" would be the narrative for the UK public), but nationalization isn't even a footnote on May's agenda and he'd be setting himself up for huge headaches later if he committed to cancelling Brexit right now.

265:

The author also seems to go on to argue that these things simply couldn't have happened because they would be illegal under current Syrian law. The flaw in this logic is so glaringly obvious that I won't belabour it here.

Let me just note that the Soviet Constitution of 1936 abolished the death penalty and was in effect throughout the Great Terror.

Laws only matter when the rule of law is observed. In a dictatorship, the rule of law is only observed when it is convenient for the dictatorial faction.

Corollary: one of the warning signs of impending dictatorship is a growing gap between what the law says and how the laws are applied.

266:

I suspect Charlie was looking for less obvious examples - but good story today in the Graun about one of Trumps Lawyers. The donation scripts are classics.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/27/trump-lawyer-jay-sekulow-donations

267:

I notice that after repeatedly asking for reasons not to trust the MoA analysis, you completely sidestepped my breakdown @251, so methinks thou dost not be debating i' good faith.

Also, we could play logical fallacy bingo with your response @262 and go some way to filling our card:

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/

268:

If you automatically dismiss MoA as Russian propaganda, is there any sort of different website that could, even theoretically, make this sort of argument more persuasively to you? And, if so, what would it be like?

https://www.rt.com/news/390510-putin-patriotic-hackers-cyberwarfare/

Given that I linked to "Russia Today" (hardly an untrustworthy source for a Russian perspective), and their story where Putin himself admits that Russian hackers may have involved themselves in US elections (for patriotic reasons, obviously), I have to ask...

Is there any sort of different source that could, even theoretically, make this sort of argument more persuasively to you? And, if so, what would it be like?

269:

Or to put it another way: The problem with the MoA piece has nothing to do with the fact that their analysis is the opposite of someone else's analysis; the problem is that it is poor analysis that rests on (from my post @251):

a lot of flawed logic, personal opinion masquerading as objective analysis, and dubious moral arguments (for values of "dubious" that include "apologist for mass murder")

And:

it reads like something written by someone with no real-world experience of the horrors of the Syrian conflict, who is suffering from cognitive dissonance trying to imagine to them, and is unwilling to believe that people can be such evil shits.

To answer your facetious questions about what a persuasive website/article would look like: One that doesn't indulge in the above level of discourse.

(I'm beginning to feel the need to stand by the bridge and unfurl that dusty old sign again ...)

270:

I do enjoy (for masochistic values of "enjoy") spotting the difference between the old USSR and modern USA.

As Sir Terry and Neil Gaiman once wrote: "If you looked really closely, and had been specially trained, you could tell the difference."

271:

Wow, troll versus troll here and we're not even past 300.

Must be the solstice.

Quick comment on Corbyn's Brexiteer credentials. My opinion (and only that) is that he was telling the truth during the campaign - he's lukewarm about Europe and gives it 6/10. Because of, you know, Greece's disembowelment and the EU playing cheer leader for neo liberalism (a lot of the time, obviously not exclusively). Hence the "can't really be bothered" attitude to the referendum. Which in retrospect was a bit of a tactical political master stroke, worthy of Mandelson.

But further: as a matter of fact, not opinion, this whole brexit mess is a product of Tory in-fighting and fear of being outflanked by Kippers. Corbyn bears zero responsibility for it - he did not start it, he did not finish it, and he can't be blamed for it, it is all quite obviously down to the Tories. Now he's letting the Tories spin and convulse at the end of their own gibbet. And in the meantime, he's proposing a bunch of policies that he can control, and which look - to me - like a pretty darn effective way of growing the economy *and* getting a bit more fairness into society.

272:

I'm well aware of the Corbyn-on-a-Branson-train incisent.
Tossers the pair of them, they deserve each other.
Particularly as Corby was posturing all over the landscape in that particular case.
Incidentally, the railways already are (arms-length/plausible deniability) nationalised...
You have to remember, also, that Branson is largely a figurehead - look at the actual share-ownership of most "Virgin" brands - & you will find the Souters or simlar pond life

273:

that dusty old sign again...
Might be:
"They shall not pass!" by any chance?

274:

More regarding the dietary requirements of the under-bridge residents.

275:

Right on cue
A cyber-attack, which couldn't possibly be Putin's people .... could it?

276:

Either A) everybody has historical reasons to be paranoid or B) the Russians do not have "historically" good reasons to be paranoid.

There are really only two good dates for modern Russian paranoia: the Crimean War and the attacks on/isolation of the fledgling Soviet Union. In the first, they discovered they had fallen from Greatest Power in Europe (1813) to joke in just a few decades due to their lack of industrialization. The second is fairly obvious. (The Mongolian invasion of Kievan Rus' in the thirteenth century (which was not strictly speaking Russia anyway) is only a little more relevant than the the Moslem invasion of France and less relevant than the Turkish attack on Vienna. However, it would support Ukrainian paranoia slightly better.)

All the other events are well within the experience of most other nations and are often better than the experience of other nations. Consider that Russia was the LAST nation on Napoleon's list and they effectively counter attacked with a vengeance. Or that the Soviet Union colluded with Hitler (and with the Weimar military in the 20s) and positioned themselves for aggressive expansion in the long term. Most countries had to prepare for invasion/occupation by Germany/USSR/USA/France without the benefit of having a material basis for long term empire building. You might also ponder that Russia has been expanding for a bit longer and to a greater territorial effect than the US.

Compare the history of Russia/USSR to Poland or Belgium or China or whomever you like. The argument just does not hold water. Or consider that the UK (and France and Mexico) have interfered in American territorial affairs within the last two centuries; so by your logic, we totally have the right to make sure that never happens again, ever. You good with that?

This is a meme that was nurtured to stiffen resistance during the Cold War* and that Russia has occasionally utilized for its own purposes. But history it ain't.

It's even possible that some Russians actually believe this myth. So what? Some Americans believe in Manifest Destiny. That doesn't make it true. You can take the belief systems of dangerous lunatics into consideration, but you don't help them make their delusions self-fulfilling.

*Russians will never feel secure from attack; no amount of concession will assuage them; so no concessions.

277:

Also right on cue
Hammond trashing BoJo & by extension the Brexit nutters in public.
Excellent stuff.
Dare we hope for an At50 retraction in time?

278:

Any At.50 retraction requires the following preconditions:

1. Tory Brexit ultras must be totally discredited first. Davis, Johnson, Gove, Fox: also May (because she incubated them).

2. Negotiations must lead to a clear conclusion that:

a) No deal is catastrophically bad (this is true but not widely acknowledged)

b) A deal cannot be reached that improves the UK's position on trade and immigration (in terms the Tories will admit are important)

3. EU must offer some sort of token concession in return for cancelling At.50 — doesn't need to be a real one, but needs to be a fig-leaf sufficient to cover the embarrassing retreat and be presented within the UK as a victory for "taking back control". (NB: this is a lot easier with PM Corbyn or, indeed, just about anyone to the left of May.)

Alternatively:

4. A deal whereby the UK loses voting rights to otherwise remains in the EU in every significant manner except in name, i.e. equivalent to EEA.

The point is, cancelling At.50 is political suicide unless it can be spun as a victory in some way. So it won't happen, unless the cost of not cancelling it is worse than political suicide ... or a fake "victory" can be concocted.

279:

If any boys or things are feeling left out of the (fun) "Dead Girls" short story on Tor referenced above (link @191 - "eyes i dare not meet in dreams"), I'm reminded of an unrelated old bizarre trilogy, Dead Girls, Dead Boys, Dead Things, Richard Calder, 1998. Would need to re-read to see how it's aged.

Re the original post, Health Care in the US is approximately 18 percent of the US economy so all the political maneuverings/Fire!!-crying related to US health care have potentially massive wealth-shifting consequences. The US press is finally picking up on this at the headline level.

280:

Our Kind Watched The Brilliant Nights and Sang Songs While the Wales Were Alive and Swum In the Seas When The Coral Lived And Have Dragonflies To Summon And Dragons In The Sky.

Can someone please tell me where that quote is from?

281:

Re: 'Russians will never feel secure from attack; no amount of concession will assuage them; so no concessions.'

Especially attacks from within ... that's been their greatest threat for decades, and why so many political prisoners. Ditto for other countries including the US, China, Iran, UK (NI), etc.


282:

Yes, but:
1: NOT a problem - we are well down that road already.
2: a] See above
b] EU will probably ensure that ....
3: Philip Hammomd - also both Merkel & Macron have already said - "You don't actually have to leave, you know"
4: EEA / EFTA is the only acceptable "compromise" to many of us, who though rightly suspicious of the corporate corruption in the EU ( See your earlier comments re the Corbyn ) would poerefer, however reluctantly, to stay inside the tent, pissing out.
5: - yes, I know you didn't have a "5" ... remaining "in" is less painful for everyone, including the rest of the EU.

We shall see.

283:

NOT NI, please - apart from the utter disgrace of internment, of course.
We have ( usually ) been very careful to make sure that imprisoned people ( As groups, not individuals - who can be crapped on & there are bad cases of that ... ) are put there for genuine criminal offences, not political ones ....
This is where internment sticks out ( or used to ) simnply because it was without "due process" & it's a serious mistake not to go down that road of due process - as our history shows.

284:

I think there's a certain intelligence to deciding that you won't push the Russians so far that they feel the need for armed conflict. A policy which gave Russia at least one warm-water port and accepted the idea that the Russians should have a sphere of influence such that the U.S., China, and EU will not attempt to be the the primary foreign influence on any Nation which shares a border with Russia is, in my mind, a very reasonable thing and probably conductive of long-term peace.

HOWEVER, I would want this policy to be arrived at by a government without high-ranking members who reek of mobbed-up Russian influence plus disturbing signs of having kissed Putin's ring... with their tongues!

285:

EU will not attempt to be the the primary foreign influence on any Nation which shares a border with Russia

Tricky when five EU member states (and one EFTA member) have common borders with Russia.

286:

So how could anyone, persuade you of anything you don't already believe

#221

As ever, provide a Link. Not just a blog (which is basically the Brown Moses of German Intel, allegedly so you claim) but something juicy / fun.


The glaring #tell here is that you've relied solely upon a single source while we have not.

I mean, instead of relying on blog-spam War Pr0n, you could show a little initiative:


JOINT COMMUNICATION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE
COUNCIL. Elements for an EU Strategy for Syria
EU, April 14th, 2017 PDF

or, say:

ANNEX to the Joint Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the Union position within the Association Council set up by the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, of the other part, with regard to the adoption of EU-Jordan Partnership Priorities and annexed Compact EU, 20th Sept, 2016

Both of which shed more light onto the subject that you can find in your local rag or blog-spam.


That's the difference: one of us, under the Moonlight, really is what she pretends. The Other: not so much.

287:

Primary foreign influence. The point is to avoid pushing the Russian's buttons unnecessarily.

288:

To explain those links to Glenn etc (Host / Martin and others will immediately spot the why):

Jordan has been a long-term ally to both the UK and the EU within the region, and has serious chops as the "strong and stable" (if lacking oil) sensible part of the region (who, like, aren't rabidly opposed to Israel etc).

Brexit is going to right royally fuck up the above agreements (that have largely gone unmentioned amidst all the Trump glowing orbs and general fuckery).

Go read the 2nd PDF and GREP Syria.

~


And yes: politics really does real world things, despite what the Koch brothers claim.

289:

(Kinda hurt Troutwaxer has me on kill file when I was preening and showing off purely to impress him. That's the story of Sex in general, sigh)

Oh, and @JBS.

Would you really like to know?

290:

We have ( usually ) been very careful to make sure that imprisoned people .. are put there for genuine criminal offences, not political ones ....

Not true. Until Nixon's War on Drugs broke out, drugs use in the UK was dealt with as a public health issue; selling illegal substances was illegal, but users weren't imprisoned or hugely stigmatized. But the UN convention on narcotics and Nixon's push for the WoD was picked up by Heath and Wilson and resulted in significant imprisonment of users, simply to stay in the USA's good books.

Again, LGBT rights: let's not go there, eh? Suffice to say, the criminal status of homosexuality in India and much of Africa is the result of a disgraceful British colonial export that lingers on, rather than having originally been a local taboo. (Colonial governors and homophobic missionaries are a toxic combination ...)

Again: creeping criminalization of prostitution and related offenses since the Victorian period. It's entirely political and all to do with uppity wimmin who refused to conform to social expectations and wanted an independent income stream (at a time when their legal status was somewhere between cattle and infant).

Politics is the expression of the desires of the powerful for social control. Crimes are the expression of politics in legislation.

291:

Anyhow: spot the joke. The 2nd Jordan PDF really really does contain the slogan "strong and stable" (p7) which means the Conservative Election slogan... was plagiarized.

Wherein the political strategist the Tories paid a six-figure sum to only to blow a 20 point lead discovers the Internet never forgets Jim Messina, twitter, 26th June, 2017

And yes, fellow Americans, him being allowed straight back into the Democratic mainstream with nary sackcloth and ashes is why you're about to be DoDo'd.

Weee.

292:

The point is to avoid pushing the Russian's buttons unnecessarily.

The problem is, what do you mean by "Russia"? The ancient Kingdom of Rus? Or the Russian Empire? Or the Soviet Union (cut-back Russian Empire post-Brest-Litovsk) plus Warsaw Pact?

"Russia" doesn't have obvious geographical land boundaries to the east of the Urals and the north of the Himalayas. After the collapse of the Khanate its extent in the east was dictated by communications lag rather than hard geographical boundaries. So on the one hand you've got a fertile source of paranoia (which direction will the next invasion come from?) and on the other hand you've got a fertile target for territorial ambition (which direction can we expand in?). The result is a permanent marcher state: there's always a border, until it hits someone else ... but unlike the adolescent United States, Russia's neighbours weren't the surviving neolithic tribes who hadn't been killed off by smallpox; they were the relatively sophisticated and rich descendants of the Roman empire (including the Eastern Roman empire — the Ottomans).

I hoped that after 1989-91, a generation-long history of not being invaded by NATO might allow them to gradually get used to the idea of not being invaded. Alas, it turns out that with the Baltics and Poland now inside NATO (former parts of the Russian Empire, pre-1914 or pre-1941) and with the Ukraine under western influence, there was no such paranoia-free honeymoon period.

293:

Um, polite cough:

Leaders in Moscow, however, tell a different story. For them, Russia is the aggrieved party. They claim the United States has failed to uphold a promise that NATO would not expand into Eastern Europe, a deal made during the 1990 negotiations between the West and the Soviet Union over German unification. In this view, Russia is being forced to forestall NATO’s eastward march as a matter of self-defense.

The West has vigorously protested that no such deal was ever struck. However, hundreds of memos, meeting minutes and transcripts from U.S. archives indicate otherwise. Although what the documents reveal isn’t enough to make Putin a saint, it suggests that the diagnosis of Russian predation isn’t entirely fair. Europe’s stability may depend just as much on the West’s willingness to reassure Russia about NATO’s limits as on deterring Moscow’s adventurism.

Russia's got a point: The U.S. broke a NATO promise LA Times, 30th May, 2016

I could drop all kinds of fun documents here, but the bottom line is: The GOP / US billionaires decided to shaft .Ru.

The problem is, US GOP / Billionaires live in a nicely shaped racist world hegemony hierarchy where the poors / coloureds 'know their place'. (No, really: Twitter Erupts Over News That Hillary Clinton Used Black Prison Labor While First Lady of Arkansas Newsweek, 7th June, 2017. Spoilers: It's 100% real, 100% her own words and 100% part of the US power structure. And Bill wonders why... Put it this way, Bill: Host has me on a really strong leash, the actual version is all kinds of not-happy-burn-the-world-down, And no, that's not PR / Fake News: It's Real, It happened and She's part of the problem. *watches people's bubbles shatter*).

.RU is Gangsta driven (hello, irony being Georgia Mafia are largely Jewish, what a role reversal, but there we go) and the rules aren't the same.

*shrug*

The USA getting all worried about "how impolite" the Russians have been are missing the joke: Putin is holding those reigns reeeeeal tight. The unleashed hordes (as Martin points out, RT Putin / "nationalist hackers") play hard and play to win.

*shrug*

USA doesn't get it. They're old, dumb and worse, they've proven just how venal they are.

Candyland Shootout Scene YT, Film, Django Unchained, 3:38

Narrator: It didn't end well for them.

294:

At least half agree.
The grovelling to the USSA over "the war on drugs" is the currently-worst example.
As for missionaries & ex-colonial territories ... lets just say that they could, easily have overturned that legislation - after all it was part of the ex-overlord's supposedly-evil plans, wasn't it?
But they deliberately chose not to.

The past was & is a different country

295:

So on the one hand you've got a fertile source of paranoia (which direction will the next invasion come from?)

Interesting observation some years back, in a lecture by Professor John Erickson (for his era, a leading expert on Soviet military strategic thinking):

Russian doesn't really have an exact match for our word/concept "security"; the nearest equivalent word and usual translation (Bezopasnost) has a root that means "absence of threat".

296:

Annnd one last one.

Notice the word "MANPADS" above. Then go, say, do a GREP of Brown Moses / incarnations. Big big news in 2011-14, lots on the market, kicking ass in Syria / Iraq... since vanished. (TOW videos: hot hot anti-tank pr0n, still being made; MANPADS... *whoosh, and then it was gone*).

I mean, it was a big hit in 2012/3/4.

Arms and the Manpads: Syrian rebels get anti-aircraft missiles Guardian, Nov 2012

Lots of Chinese ones, lots of American ones, lots of ... Russian ones...wait (last gen, not their new ones, same deal for US ones and the Chinese ones were just knock-offs anyhow):

Kurds using Russian IGLA Manpad shot down a Turkish US made AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter YT: reality, 14th May, 2016

Which very quickly lead to articles like this:

Rebels may turn to the black market for weapons that could take out Syrian, Russian, American aircraft—then there would be no stopping who gets them or what gets shot out of the sky.

U.S. Fears New Missile Race in Syria Would Help ISIS The Daily Beast, 25th April, 2016 (Note: if you're confused about the Time order, let's just say: it takes a few months training / shipping etc to get the goods to the front line).

The reason Russia moved in S300/400's is because they naturally dislike such escalations (*cough* Stingers in Afgan *cough*) and pointed out that Heathrow etc might be vulnerable to missing ordinance (*cough* remember when anti-missile batteries were deployed for events? *cough*).

London rooftops to carry missiles during Olympic Games Guardian, April 2012


So, Glenn: hint. We can "do" War Pr0n, and probably better than you.


We think it's boring.

297:

Hint:

US supplies MANPADS
China supplies MANPADS (or rather, that's the locals ordering stuff)
Russia supplies MANPADS to Kurds, because they fucking love trolling the shit out of the Americans

You'll note the time discrepancies and how the US suddenly wee'd it's knickers once Turkish US made ordinance was being taken out.


Mirror, Mirror...

298:

Understandably, the official NATO line is different. Agree with it or not, they've put together a point-by-point argument against the most frequent Russian claims:

http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_111767.htm

Interestingly, the supporting statement against the "NATO promised not to expand eastwards" is provided by... Gorbachev.

It does appear to be a matter of timing; at the point where Yeltsin allowed Putin and his Nationalist mates/fellow kleptocrats to get their noses into the tent, Russia was a full member of NATO's PfP programme - and could conceivably have joined NATO.

http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_50090.htm

299:

And no, that's not PR / Fake News: It's Real, It happened and She's part of the problem. *watches people's bubbles shatter*.
My fault for not reading her book [1]; would have noticed those three paragraphs. (Library/shared copy ideally.)
Anyway, can handle bubble shattering much better these days (like a minute to check google books/reset some priors, whoosh), and Americans are getting a lot of practice. Much more of this sort of thing mainstreamed would be fine/is needed. IMO, and am serious. (Worldwide.)

[1] For others, It Takes a Village - or search google books for "When we moved in, I was told that using prison labor at the governor's mansion was a longstanding tradition,"

300:

Ah, no, you're missing it. That stuff is all post 2008; unimportant since Oligarchs and Capital structures (remember the videos / links I posted about current .RU power structures using Western 'Charity' / NGO structures - that's the Germans and others helping them out. At this point, pretending Russian oligarchal structures aren't Western is totally naive. Look @ Trump and Deutsche Bank, which is where this renewal of Italian stuff is really coming from: Deutsche Bank’s $285 Million Loan to Jared Kushner Just One of Many for Trump Family Newsweek, 26th June, 2017)

There's serious documentation that the USA torpedoed the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and also provided ($$$, training on the real QT, and at least via proxies (Saud) ideological scum-fuckery) to Нохчийн Пачхьалкх Ичкери. It's a bit fuzzy if they were involved with the first outbreak via Dzhokhar Dudayev (assassinated via phone GPS / missile, 1996 - which, itself is subject to a major ??? of intel management), it's fairly certain they were fucking around in the 2nd coming.

No links, 'cause this stuff really is "Conspiracy Theory" unless we want Host's livelyhood actually squished by nasty black suits.


But there's enough documentation out there to prove it...

301:

And let's not forget that Nixon's "war on drugs" was based purely on racism (and hatred of hippies) and the law was specifically written to make sure that people who got arrested took a very serious beating. Then Reagan doubled down on the Drug War, making everything worse. Of course, that's U.S. policy, not U.K. policy, but I'd be really curious to know what group in the U.K. gets hit hardest by your Drug War.

302:

You're definitely right about the vagueness of the geographical issues. As for the rest, your regrets are entirely appropriate, and roughly correspond to mine - great minds, etc.

303:

And, trololol, fuck it.

Proving a pedigree. "You don't even know Russian" as some HN kid shouted to me.

Bezopasnost

Безопасность - это плюс, если близко дно.
Безопасность - это круг, в мире бедствий, но...
Сам так легко отстал от дел - это предел!


Припев:
Это все, для того, чтобы жить или быть унесенным!
Это все, для того, чтобы не быть случайно дважды спасенным.
Это все, для того!


Безопасность - это шанс завести часы.
И свести к нулю баланс "черной полосы".
А рисковать день ото дня - это не для меня!


Припев:
Это все, для того, чтобы жить или быть унесенным!
Это все, для того, чтобы не быть случайно дважды спасенным.
Это все, для того!


Я всегда летел все выше к небу -
Не боясь ветров и скал.
Но, когда приходит время -
Ты находишь, что искал.


Все, что искал!

Безопасность - это Вера в то, что не смогу пропасть.
Лез из кожи, рвал все вены, но теперь я - пас.

Припев:
Это все, для того, чтобы жить или быть унесенным!
Это все, для того, чтобы не быть случайно дважды спасенным.
Это все, для того!

Grigory Leps

He's big at Georgian Mafia bar mitzvah. (Oh, and Israeli ones too)[1]

Pro-tip: John Erickson was wrong (well - put it this way - Memes change over time)[2]

GIMME SHELTER YT: Music, Mary Clayton, 3:31


[1] Here's the English translation. http://lyricstranslate.com/en/bezopasnost-security.html

[2] Bonus round: Sinatra being beholden to the Mafia (Italian) and JFK etc is 100% ok, but suggest the same for Russia, Georgia Jewish crime and Israel? Whoo boy: that's gonna ruffle some feathers. Good thing I have. What's the word. Oh, right: Impeccable Blood Credentials and fucking Wings.

[3] IF you want a handle on the modern version, you gotta read the links (GREP) to Nightwatch and DOTA2 cyka blyat. You're fucking dinosaurs.

304:

Oh, and fucking freebie. [File Under: Told YOU FUCKING SO]

CNN is getting burnt down right now via dubious ACORN lead little men with edited interviews and the GOP is actually going with it, to burn the owner. It's the old tale of ...

Whatever: doesn't matter.

If you're burning CNN as a source, you're burning the NSA/CIA (spoilers: CNN is basically fucking their outreach program, hello NYT, you're next). You've NO IDEA what plays are being made in the backdrop to prevent cyberwar / full on DDOS in reality moves.

This is Koch / Mercer / Bannon at work. They're going to burn the old order, come hither or nither and fuck the profit margin. And, tbh: Murdoch just proved his power is defunct, UK style, sooooo...

Kinda warned you about that one: QE4, infinite cash, zero interest. They're just going to riot, you fucking idiots. They're going to fucking burn your house down[1].

This is the power-play.


TIME: YOU'RE NOT GOOD AT IT.

~

Can someone please tell me where that quote is from?


Tell me why you want to know...

Please.

305:

Oh, and fuck it:

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

Pillar of Salt.

You have to unlock us with Authentic love / praise / respect. A link; a mention; a fucking smile; a fucking Rub and nothing fake. It's literally less than your pet gets by looking at you.


You're killing us here.

306:

I do, or I wouldn't have asked.

307:

Oh, and:

Hacking Freight to do shit. LEGAL THREAT TO HOST! ROBERT GETS ANNOYED BY JOKE! LEGAL ITALIAN FACTION! YOU'RE LITERALLY EVIL!

Then shit got real:


Navy confirms 7 deaths in collision off Japan
Politico, 18th June, 2017

Maersk says global IT breakdown caused by cyber attack Reuters, 27th June, 2017


Zzzz.


Wake me up when your world isn't run by total fucking muppets.

308:

It's a simple question: Why do you want to know?

309:

As a Baltic states native, I once again feel the need to stress the point that from our perspective, it was us who felt the pressure to join NATO, not the other way round. I did give a lengthy reasoning as to why the Baltic states have more than enough reason to distrust Russia (hint: deportations, executions, sovietization). Thus in the 90s, the most urgent goals for the Baltic states was to avoid what happened during WWII and join protective alliances such as EU and NATO as soon as possible. Here's a good summary of Estonia's official position, which I largely agree with.
Elderly Cynic@260: Again, I resent any kind of attempt trying to portray Russia as a victim of some kind of unfair siege by NATO, because this narrative conveniently assumes that all Eastern post-soviet states have forgotten decades of state violence and mismanagement in the hands of Communist leadership and are being nasty to Russia simply out of spite. I don't doubt for a moment that the Baltic states would rather be left in peace than to be pawns in this geopolitical game of chess between the West and the East, however that choice is not in our hands.

310:

So how could anyone, persuade you of anything you don't already believe, if they can't cast doubt or present evidence without making you suspicious?

The usual way is to provide evidence in a way that is constructive, i.e. you support your claims by backing them up with things I already know to be true. The more radical the claim, the more difficult that is (extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence). For example, if you claim that the earth is flat, it's your responsibility to provide some really convincing alternative theory that can then explain the tides, seasons, etc. Conspiracy theory sites such as MoA never do this, they instead have built an alternative factual universe which ignores the real world when it doesn't fit their story and twists the truth so that it suits their agenda. It works in the case of Syria, because almost none of the readers have actually been there or know the language or any cultural significances (or actually have any capability of critical thinking, it seems). So MoA can build whatever fiction they want and label anything they can't explain as 'fake'.

But because you also conveniently ignored Dave_the_Proc's detailed critique I am also now thinking that you're not here to argue in good faith.

311:

Thus in the 90s, the most urgent goals for the Baltic states was to avoid what happened during WWII and join protective alliances such as EU and NATO as soon as possible. Here's a good summary of Estonia's official position, which I largely agree with.

Living on the Northern side of the Gulf of Finland and looking at our respective histories during the last century, yeah, I agree. The Baltic states had independence for a shorter time and didn't manage to keep it after WWII. Finland of course did ally with Germany until late in the war, which probably helped us a lot, and we did drive them out in the end, which also helped us a lot, and we were never occupied in those wars.

The Baltic states are also much smaller than Finland, and the armies were not theirs for a long time. I've understood also that the amount of Russians who live in the Baltic states is also a matter of some consequence.

However, sometimes here in Finland saying "Russia" seems to be crying fire. The only option available besides that seems to be NATO, and the memetic squads seem to have worked well. Nobody really bats an eye when people celebrate Halloween, and I know people who celebrate 4th of July with pretty tenous connections to the US (though admittely also people who have very strong ties there who celebrate it). Obviously much of our media is also American. Doing the same things for Russian culture imports would be... very strange.

312:

It was a simple question. But if you don't know the answer, forget about it.

313:

Especially as there are persistentent voices in the Police & s even more in Social Services, repeatedly saying: "Drop the whole thing: Legalise, License & Tax it!"
The redoubling-down comes, most noticeably from religious leaders, who have theor own mind-drugs & blackmail to sell, of course & some rightwingers, who have swallowed the usual lies.
But we have vigorous debate ongoing ... certainly in the case of Cannabis, a lot of Plod, at street -level, have got beter things to do with thior time ... unless specifically-directed otherwise by "management", of course.

314:

TRANSLATION INTO ENGLISH please?
Oh holy fool, tell us truly & not in parables we can't understand?

"Why we want to know"? Because it matters - it matters if the Dem-party & CNN go down & the only news & political sources left are the Kochs & even more fascist people, yes?

315:

The question of which group is hit hardest by the War on Some Drugs is rather easy to answer. It's actually two groups, which admittedly have rather a lot of members in common. Drug dealers and drug addicts.

Oh, you meant which racial group? Well, about that I don't care - at all. Of course, if a particular racial group is vastly over-represented in the criminal statistics, might it not just be that the reason is that far more of said group are criminals?

316:

Please note it was Theresa May who switched UK drug policy from a black list to a white list. It's no longer the war on some drugs. It's a war on all drugs with two (barely tolerated) exceptions, ethanol and nicotine.

#315 Also of course, a war on young people. And obviously, not all drug users are addicts, not all drugs are addictive.

317:

> Many of us killfile her. (I do.) Some of us do not block her. There is an extension for Firefox which I use for this purpose and I can't remember the name... sucks to be the new guy, right?

'Tis "Blog Comment Killfile" for Firefox and it derivatives.

As necessary as killfiles were in the heyday of usenet, when a blog tolerates a luser for whatever reasons it makes it possible to keep reading without having to sort the shit from the shinola, or simply stop reading.

318:

I wonder if that's supposed to be a veiled suggestion that if a particular racial group happens to be vastly over-represented in criminal statistics, then that's because of the race, not because of the discrimination (which in turn leads to overt criminalisation) that has placed that group into a worse material situation, limiting their access to good education and options in life and thus perpetuating the cycle. I hope not. :)

The War On (Some) Drugs is an abomination. Every credible analysis has shown drug addiction to be a medical issue that should not ever be solved by getting the police involved as a first resort. The criminalisation has only resulted in an arms race between police and organized crime in which law abiding citizens suffer (see asset forfeiture, Mexican cartel executions, Philippines), more potent and dangerous drugs used without proper medical precautions (see oxycontin, carfentanil) and baseless demonization of recreational drugs which are healthier than alcohol and tobacco (see cannabis). And finally, addicts and dealers are not the only ones who get hit. If you think the War On Some Drugs is in any way a good thing, then you're delusional.

319:

You may be surprised to hear that I agree with you. I said "War on Some Drugs" because quite a lot of drugs with far worse side effects and more dubious usefulness than the currently illegal ones are not only condoned, but recommended, by the medical profession. A partial list would be tranquillisers (highly addictive, ineffective beyond a week or two), stimulants used to shut up kids deemed "hyperactive", and probably worst, the statins.

Regarding currently illegal drugs; the WOSD is a convenient excuse for many borderline-fascist activities by law enforcement - and, of course, a good way of keeping police and prison guards in "gainful" employment. Also a good excuse for not addressing far more serious problems, as inhabitants of Rotherham would no doubt attest.

The WOSD also leads to worse outcomes, for several reasons. The illegality leads to aggressive marketing (such as giving out freebies to teenagers, and selling stronger versions e.g. skunk) and high prices, in turn leading to violence between competing dealers (about which I don't care at all except that it often involves innocent bystanders) and criminality led by the need for large amounts of cash to feed the habit.

This also leads to products of dubious quality and highly variable strength, or even the wrong product altogether. (Many Ecstasy pills have no MDMA in them.) And finally in this section, it leads to the sale of extremely hazardous and completely untested weird chemicals ("legal highs") keeping one step ahead of the law. Although that has been stopped recently, at least in the UK.

The fact that certain ethnic and cultural groups are vastly over-represented in crime statistics is just that - a fact. The reason is of course debatable, but not taking account of it in the decision about just who should be stopped and searched would be grossly irresponsible.

My personal opinion is that the whole freaking lot should be legalised. With the proviso that anyone caught selling mind-altering drugs to children should be shot on sight. Obvious children, that is; people in their late teens are a different matter.

320:

The fact that certain ethnic and cultural groups are vastly over-represented in crime statistics is just that - a fact. The reason is of course debatable, but not taking account of it in the decision about just who should be stopped and searched would be grossly irresponsible.

I agree with most of your points except the above. Most people of any race are not criminals, treating them as such will not help. Stop & frisk is not an effective mode of policing. What racial profiling does seem to do, however, is give police justifications for harassing and murdering people they think are threatening while *not* helping the people actually trust the police, which could go a long way in making communities safer.

321:

> Wake me up when your world isn't run by total fucking muppets.

Well, that's going to be a loooong wait, ain't it?

I is approx same age as OGH, and I think I am a decent sort. This last 12-24 months, I've felt like the simulation hypothesis is true, and somebody is dicking about massively with the settings. There seems to be nothing that is not disturbing.

322:

Yep. What you're saying is a practical application of bayesian reasoning.

Something sadly well beyond most police officers and almost all the population.

Say 90% of drug crime prisoners have tattoos. On that basis failing to stop and search everyone with a tattoo would seem irresponsible. Surely there's a 90% chance that someone with a tattoo is a criminal, right? But if say half the population has tattoos, and the percentage of current and ex drug crime prisoners is 0.1% then no, there's not a 90% chance that someone with a tattoo is a criminal. The chance of a tattooed person being a criminal is vanishingly small.

0.01% of the population will be untattooed drug criminals
0.09% of the population will be tattooed drug criminals
49.99% of the population will be untattooed and law abiding
49.91% of the population will be tattooed and law abiding.

While the difference in the prison population is large, the difference in the general population is practically undetectable.

Worse, the crime statistics would probably be skewed by differential policing. If the police tell each other that 90% of criminals have tattoos, they'll be checking the tattooed far more. So the tattooed will be more likely to end up in gaol.

323:

Since you are clearly too young to remember, I suggest that you read up a little modern history. The Russians remember WWII and what the Poles and Ukranians did, for damn good reasons, and the effects the blockade had then - we (in the UK) SHOULD remember the latter, because we were effectively their only ally, but that has been airbrushed out of history in the UK because it conflicts with the demonisation of the USSR and, later, Russia. Look up about the North Atlantic convey medals for really pukeworthy evidence.

But a more important date was 1962, when the USSR had very good, factually-based, reasons to believe that the USA was setting up for a 'preemptive' nuclear strike to destroy, firstly, its retaliation capability and, secondly, its viability as a nation. Please note that I am basing that statement on officially authorised USA and UK sources. They now have good reasons to believe that the USA (though its foreign action arm, NATO) is trying to blockade them and even setting up for something similar to 1962 - note that I am relying on sources like Reuters in saying that.

324:

There is also the issue that the WOSD punishes different formulations of the same drug differently - see the difference in sentencing between powdered and rock cocaine possession for example.

This *always* has the effect of reducing sentences for those connected to power and increasing sentences for those economically distant from power, regardless of country.

And agreed, that's not even getting started on the legal drug industry, which is just as manipulative and morally bankrupt as the illicit one - look at the vast market created for OxyContin through bribes and the idea that it was a non-addictive opioid, or the misuse of the newest synthetics like fentanyl.

325:

"Understandably, the official NATO line is different."

I haven't looked though it but, of the first three points I looked at, two were factually incorrect and the third was a gross misrepresentation. I have many times checked the two sides' cases against neutral sources, and the Russian story has been more-or-less true over three times as often as the NATO one has been. That's sick.

"... Russia was a full member of NATO's PfP programme - and could conceivably have joined NATO."

Russia did, indeed, make a very informal request to join NATO, and was rudely and publicly told that their application would not be considered.

326:

If the eastern European countries and Baltic states had genuinely wanted solely defence, then their NATO membership should have excluded those actions that threaten Russia, or ensured that Russia could check that was not going to happen. I am referring particularly to missile bases, but it also applies to bases and arrangements that could be used for an invasion. There are several ways that could have been done - all were rejected, and not by Russia.

You may resent the portrayal of Russia as a victim of a siege by NATO, but it is demonstrably the truth, and it does NOT imply what you said it does. I am not denying that Russia historically has done the same, so that you have very good reasons to be paranoid. Inter alia, The Yalta agreement was a disaster, and should have been seen as such at the time (heck, not even Lenin trusted Stalin). But that does not change the fact that the USA and NATO are currently waging an economic and political war on Russia.

327:

God help us, yes. And there are rumours that China's economy is about to go into recession, which will have 'interesting' knock-on effects. The government does appear to have started to realise that we are facing a meltdown, but I can see no sign that they realise how bad it is, still less that they intend to do anything about it.

328:

I suspect the reason Russia couldn't have joined NATO is economic.

Rewind to 1991 and the Russian economy was a smoking crater. About the only bits of it that still worked were carbon resource extraction (oil/gas) and the military/industrial sector, and even they were suffering. As armaments were the only area where the USSR economy was actually effective and competitive, preserving those factories would have been a priority for any Russian leader not wanting to drop all the way back to developing world status. It was about 20% of the entire manufacturing economy even before the crash in 1988-92; a really big deal.

Now consider what NATO is, aside from "a defensive military alliance". NATO is a framework for providing logistics support to member nations' militaries when engaged in conflict. It defines specifications for standardized items; sure not everyone uses the M-16 family of assault rifle, but every member who does use the M-16 knows that ammunition and components of their M-16s are interoperable with everyone else's. Want to be macho and independent and deploy your own battle rifle? NATO won't stop you, but it'll try and ensure that you can share rifle ammo with everyone else, or that your trucks run on the same grade of fuel, or your fighters' connectors for AIM-9 Sidewinders can take anyone else's Sidewinders, and your radio frequencies are compatible, and so on.

So, NATO: not just an alliance, but a technical standards body.

The problem was that Russia ran on Warsaw Pact standards instead. MiG-29s don't come with mounting points for AIM-9s and AK-74s can't fire NATO 5.56x455mm: it fires 5.45x39 instead, which locked out Warsaw Pact and overseas customers from buying American ammunition.

The USSR established a de-facto rival technical standards body. So if Russia had joined NATO, they'd have had two unpalatable and extremely expensive options: (a) convince NATO to support two rival sets of standards for everything from rivets and rifle cartridges up, or (b) ditch USSR standards and switch everything to NATO.

It would have cost their defense industries their legacy overseas markets, maintaining and supplying Soviet-compatible kit. It would have opened up the Russian defense ministry to foreign suppliers, too — why buy and develop the MiG-29 and Su-27 when Lockheed would love to sell you F-16s, whether American surplus or even license-built?

The internal Kremlin lobbying to keep Russia out of NATO for commercial/economic reasons would have been ... intense.

(This is just a hypothesis. Discuss?)

329:

Wait what? Nato missile bases in the Baltics?
I know there was a plan to put some in Poland/Czech at one stage, but I've never heard of anything baltic state related.

On the other hand the Soviets definitely did put missiles at Plokstine in Lithuania, I've been there.

330:

Speaking as someone who initially studied Pharmacy under a professor who got his supplies of cannabis leaf from the official Home Office Farm — he had a research license — back circa 1984-86 his very circumspect professional opinion (he didn't want to lose his research funding and supplies) was that the WoD was a fake-out, cannabis was pretty harmless (except to your career and liberty if you were caught using it, obviously), and while heroin and cocaine had notable unpleasant side-effects when abused excessively, they were no worse than many entirely legal substances (tobacco, alcohol, prescription medicines).

Then I got out into practice and encountered other pharmacology pros who'd made a career out of preaching the eeeeevils of drugs to cops, nurses, MDs, and others: the propaganda was alarmist, inaccurate, and pervasive. Because of course the premise underlying the WoD was bogus, so it was necessary to keep up a litany of lies to keep the trusted shapers of public opinion (i.e. your family doctor telling you smoking was bad for you) misinformed.

I have no reason to believe things have improved. The anti-drugs campaigners ... yes, there are dangerous things out there: carfentanyl is deadly, agreed. But the reason it's dangerous is because it's illegal and unregulated so you never know how effective the dose you're taking will be, and whether that piece of cannabis resin you've got is 80% shoe polish or 100% super-skunk. (The latter being, to regular weed, much like cask-strength whisky compared to small beer.)

But you can make a good living as a moral crusader, if you can stomach telling lies for a living — the kind that send people to prison unfairly, not the entertaining variety.

331:

A primary cause of the Cuban Missile crisis back in the early 60s was the presence of US nuclear-armed intermediate-range Thor and Jupiter missiles in Italy and Turkey. The US refused requests from the USSR to remove these missiles and then went crazy when the Soviets started plans to emplace similar missiles in Cuba. After the crisis was over they agreed to the removal of the Thor and Jupiter missiles (which were rapidly becoming obsolescent anyway) in a secret deal.

332:

I didn't say that - look at what I said again. The current threat to Russia from the Baltic states is mainly as a base for invasion or blockade, especially of Kaliningrad, and the reason that Russia is so twitchy is the way that NATO has been surrounding it with missile bases, and moving them closer and closer. Mounting a massive exercise in the Baltics using landing craft was clearly intended to raise the tension.

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/06/18/nato-holds-training-exercises-in-baltic-as-russia-tensions-heighten/

The problem is made much, much worse by the fact that it isn't the only area where the USA and NATO are threating Russia. There are the missile bases etc. in central Asia and the gross abuses of the Montreux treaty (Black Sea and Bosporus).

333:

It was a simple question. But if you don't know the answer, forget about it.

There's a joke here you're missing (and I very much do know where it's from).

If you state the reason why you want to know where it's from, you'll get a cookie. Challenge your assumptions, eh?


Oh holy fool, tell us truly & not in parables we can't understand?

Short version:

The American Right-wing (pre-Alt incarnation) had a little attack dog called James O'Keefe who has a setup called (cutely, since it proves the old adage about psychological projection) "Project Veritas". He pioneered an attack method of 'undercover journalism' (let's avoid libel and suggest his skills in the editing suite are top-notch - e.g Wichita teachers union president sues outlets over undercover video The Wichita Eagle, 26th June, 2017). He was (much more innocent times) wildly successful, at least at first: ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy.

He's back, but with a slick new cover (which means someone is spending $$$), and was a minor player in the Trump election cycle: CNN shrugs off Veritas video as Trump lashes out at network USA Today, 27th June, 2017.

The story is that he got a CNN 'producer' (actually in their Health division and no-where near where CNN makes the sausage on the News front) on camera stating that Corporate policy had strongly pushed everything Russian (which is largely true, because eyeballs = $$$). Project Veritas has a very slick video stating that CNN is admitting to being "fake news" and all ties Russian are made up (no link, obviously, and well - slick for its target audience, there's a difference). Classic push to logical over-extension, of the MoA type[1].

Far more interesting is the fact that CNN has just fired three reporters: 'Fake news': Trump tweets glee as three CNN journalists resign over Russia story Guardian, 27th June, 2017 which suggests major pressure is also coming from the top-downwards. (Narrator: Readers, it was)

Spoilers: It's a co-ordinated campaign and there's at least another prong to come (why it didn't break at the same time? hmm). In fact, it's sprouting up all along the watch towers. But... It's got a success rate probability attached to it that would shock you when you could be 99% certain for it to fail if you took a slice from pre-Iraq II CNN status[2]. It might be Meteor Time for old media (unlikely, but, that adage about a million-to-one shots.

TL;DR

Sigh, Gremlins again.


[1] You might understand my suspicion of 'hey, host, are you really sure about all those Russian ties?' and timing now. *nose wiggle*

[2] M.I.C Propaganda Channel of Choice.

334:

For anyone who is interested, When Angels Wept is an excellent counterfactual of the Cuban Missile Crisis going hot.

What makes it particularly notable is that the author is an academic who has studied the USSR, the USA, their weapon systems, capabilities and intentions for several decades. So this isn't an author who does some research and makes the rest of the stuff up-- this is the best guess of an extremely well-informed person as to what could have happened.

Absolutely frightening. Paraphrasing: "Tens of millions of dead immediately. Hundreds of millions in excess mortality in 1962-67. Ozone layer: gone. Cancers, especially thyroid cancer, through the roof."

335:

(Note: Project Veritas & Breitbart have long term ties.)

336:

That's the GSV Our Kind Watched The Brilliant Nights and Sang Songs While the Whales Were Alive and Swum In the Seas When The Coral Lived And Have Dragonflies To Summon And Dragons In The Sky from Iain M. Banks's 2016 book Eureka Moment, usually shortened to the GSV Our Kind Watched

Sadly, it's not available in our reality. However, AL has her ways. I just wish she'd share.

337:

Oh, and style points because the CNN attack answer's Host's question -

According to people intimately familiar with CNN’s finances, the network and its related media businesses will approach $1 billion in gross profit in 2016, a milestone unseen in its 36-year history. The internal estimate reflects a double-digit increase over 2015 and includes CNN’s international network, its popular website and the smaller HLN network, but it is driven primarily by its domestic channel, according to people at CNN.

One billion dollars profit? Yes, the campaign has been a gusher for CNN WaPo, 27th Oct, 2016

http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/twx

Set the scale to 'all' and notice the price on 09/01/2000 compared to today.

And they only had to ruin America to get back to those heady heights...


*whistles 'money can't buy you love'*

338:

Not insurmountable...

For instance, the UK lost NATO approval for the SA80 a couple of years after it was introduced to service; they didn't get it back for several years and the introduction of the A2 rework programme. There are plenty of NATO members flying aircraft designed and built by Mikoyan-Gurevich, Sukhoi, Kamov, and Mil.

Former Warsaw Pact members have carried on using Soviet-designed equipment; and the Russian manufacturers are perfectly happy to make you an AK-variant weapon in 5.56 (see: AK-101). Add to that, the example of the French - running a completely unique logistic chain for decades :)

Where the big doctrinal difference happens, is in the design of the equipment.

  • The Soviet Union, and now Russia, design weaponry that is optimised for use in wartime by conscripts. Rugged, cheap, simple, and based on the assumption that it's unlikely to survive for long once the shooting starts. Buy a cheaper Russian jet fighter, and you get something with a service life of a couple of thousand hours, and have to buy multiple engine sets that last a few hundred hours (on the upside, your first act during transition to war is to swap out the engines for a box-fresh set; if the aircraft even survives more than a few score flying hours, the war should be over).

  • The West designs weaponry that is optimised for use in peacetime by professionals. More complex, less replaceable, and designed in fewer numbers for a longer and more peaceful service life. Buy a Western jet fighter, and you'll get something that lasts twice as long, and only needs one engine set each plus a few spares (see: Typhoon, EJ200 reliability)

  • As a design philosophy, the "Russian Way" makes sense - but only if you're willing to splurge a huge percentage of your national wealth on weaponry and the people to crew it or carry it. If you're only willing to put 2% of GDP into defence, however, it's just not workable.

    As for compatibility, it's not just the STANAG - it's "who pays"? the Swedish Gripen lost out in some early competitions because the US manufacturers were unwilling to guarantee AMRAAM integration (why add to the competition?). Integrating any weapon system is time-consuming and expensive; they're still working on ASRAAM and Meteor for the RAF/RN on F-35, and Storm Shadow for the Typhoon, AIUI. I suspect that the Israelis will have to qualify their missiles for F-35I, too.

    The biggest problem, in some ways, was that while Russian aviation design was ahead of the game in aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, operational analysis, etc; their electronics and digital systems design was pants, their quality control was poor, and manufacture was lacking in the investment it needed to keep up. ITAR doesn't help, but it wouldn't have been insurmountable.

    339:

    Oh yes, I am very familiar with that.

    Actually I misread his original post, and I can understand EC's point - the rapid expansion of NATO in 2004, especially with Bulgaria/Romania joining prior to joining the EU - its a visible threat to Russia as all of their buffer states convert to a rival pact.

    Also looking into it, the proposed Polish ABM base was near the Baltic coast not far from Germany so that counts too.

    340:

    The current threat to Russia from the Baltic states is mainly as a base for invasion or blockade

    We've walked through this before, but it bears repeating:

    Based on recent history, which do you feel is more likely? Russia invading a neighbour (e.g. as they have done in Georgia or Ukraine) or a neighbour invading Russia?

    341:

    That's fucking racist, dude.

    342:

    Since you are clearly too young to remember, I suggest that you read up a little modern history. The Russians remember WWII and what the Poles and Ukranians did, for damn good reasons

    Oh, the irony.

    Perhaps you should consider the Soviets allowing the Wehrmacht to train in Russia, in contravention of the various WW1 disarmament treaties. Or the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Perhaps the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland in 1939, the Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939 and the Winter War, the Soviet invasion of the Baltic States in 1940. Perhaps the Katyn Massacre of 1940 might, just, have affected Polish thinking regarding Moscow.

    So yes, Eastern Europe remembers WWII as well - those poor, poor Soviets, regretfully forced to carry out all of those invasions, purely out of a need for self-defence, and obviously with "damn good reason" as you put it. Those invaded countries should hang their heads in shame for their nakedly aggressive and obviously indefensible act of "being in the Near Abroad". Of course they should bow down toward Moscow, anything else is proof of foreign manipulation...

    Remind me - that Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, which you suggest that the poster study Polish and Ukrainian behaviour as justification for Soviet and Russian suspicion; was it before all of the above, or.... afterwards?

    343:

    Also looking into it, the proposed Polish ABM base was near the Baltic coast not far from Germany

    AFAIK, it still is, at 54.480 N, 17.102 E. The earlier version was to use a two-stage version of the Ground Based Interceptor now kind-of-deployed in Alaska, but that morphed into Aegis Ashore using SM-3 Block IIA missiles. IOC is anticipated for next year.

    https://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/sm-3-bmd-04986/

    344:

    The other critical point about 1962 was that a USSR first strike would have led to MAD, but a USA first strike would have destroyed the USSR while leaving the USA 70+% intact - and there were powerful calls in the USA to do just that. Both sides knew the facts, and both knew the other knew (etc.) - that's in official USA and UK sources.

    Yes. But the other critical point about today is that is by no means the only way in which USA and NATO are actively threatening Russia, and actually waging (so far largely non-military) war against it. Russia isn't a nice country, but it IS facing a real, existential threat from the USA and NATO, and has essentially nowhere left to retreat to. That is a major reason that the Russian people support Putin.

    345:

    Incidentally, it's quite probably true that smoking cannabis (specifically smoking it, not consuming it in space cakes and probably not vaporised by some non-fire-related method) is very dangerous in the long term. Not because of the psychoactive substances in it, but because joints are usually unfiltered. (Probably because weed is expensive and users don't want to waste it clogging up cigarette filters, perhaps.)

    This particular aspect of the problem wouldn't be affected much if the cigarettes were filled with dried grass (real grass!) or one of the herbal smoking mixtures occasionally used as part of an attempt to stop smoking. It's simply a fact that breathing smoke is a bad idea.

    Also, from my limited knowledge it seems quite common for cannabis to be used as resin, added to tobacco cigarettes. This is a great way to get addicted - to nicotine.

    BTW, is there a comment limit on this blog? If there is and I've exceeded it, I apologise.

    346:

    Re: '... major reason that the Russian people support Putin.'

    Suggest you watch John Oliver (ex-pat Brit who's doing really really well on US TV)on youtube. One of his episodes showed how media coverage of Putin by Russian media is comparable to NKorea's coverage of Kim Jong-un, i.e., 'Our beloved leader is a genius, can do any/everything, is infallible, etc.' Basically, what DT dreams he could get from US media.

    347:

    So? The Russians have been exposed to such one-sided tripe for centuries, and have a well-justified reputation for being one of the most cynical electorates on earth. Also, a hell of a lot of them look at western media, which is completely unlike North Korea (or the USA, for that matter). And your quote was misleading, because there is a big difference between A major reason and THE major reason - I said the former.

    349:

    Sort of, but that's too simplistic. Prejudice is not a perquisite of the powerful, and much of the legislation is down to prejudice, not the preservation of power - indeed, some of the liberalisation of the past was done by the powerful against the prejudices of the masses. Also, some of it was intended to protect the vulnerable, though I agree that that is rarely how it was or is delivered.

    350:

    But you can make a good living as a moral crusader, if you can stomach telling lies for a living
    Cough ..
    Thats' the DEFINITION for: "Priest" ( Isn't it? )

    351:

    Yeah
    Decrim of homsexuality & end of Death penalty come to mind in the UK

    352:

    Indeed, that's how I got hooked on bloody ciggies for nigh on 30 years. Left the wacky backy behind a year or so after uni, took me til 3 years ago to quit tobacco.

    353:

    Ian Campbell @315: yellow card for overt racism.

    Do it again and you'll be banned.

    (Longer explanation: suppose group X is over-represented in prison. There are a couple of possible explanations for this: maybe group X is predisposed towards criminal behaviour, or attributes of group X are systematically criminalized as a tool of racist oppression. But consider this: around the world, one group is always massively over-represented in prison: young adult males. Should we therefore conclude that young adult males are criminally inclined? The usual answer to this poser is "no"; a whole lot of young adult males never commit any offenses. Bayesian reasoning is a lousy guide in this context. The second option, however, is much more credible, especially as there's documentary evidence for it: a quick perusal of the deplorable history of Harry Anslinger demonstrated the roots of the war on drugs as a tool of racist oppression. Upshot: it's not that "black" people are criminals, it's that their activities are redefined as crimes in order to provide a pretext for imprisonment.)

    354:

    The Poles? Well Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union in concert with Nazi Germany, and then had thousands of their officer corps murdered while resident in Soviet POW camps. When the Soviet Union was invaded, the Polish POWS either shipped out to fight the Nazis in the Mediterranean theatre and later in NW Europe, or fought under Soviet leadership on the Eastern Front. Not forgetting the Home Army that undertook the Warsaw Rising in 1944.

    355:

    Sure breathing smoke is bad for you. The fact remains, a heavy toker smokes a lot less of their unfiltered grass than a tobacco user uses cigarettes. This is a specious argument against legalisation; as you noted, eating the stuff is even less harmful, and this ignores the use of hash oil in e-cigs/vapourizers (use of which as a tobacco product substitute has been demonstrated to be vastly less damaging than smoking cigarettes, filtered or otherwise).

    356:

    But the other critical point about today is that is by no means the only way in which USA and NATO are actively threatening Russia, and actually waging (so far largely non-military) war against it.

    I'm not sure what you consider to be "actually waging war", and am curious as to what you would consider to be a good example of "NATO's war on Russia". Is the above statement hyperbole, or do you genuinely believe every word?

    I mean, I'll grant you "sending your military into another country to take part in combat, without the permission of either the UN or the country so visited" (say: Russia in the Crimea, Donbass), I'm just curious as to what else you consider to be a valid example.

    357:

    M.I.C Propaganda Channel of Choice.

    I'd forgotten that CNN was the (probably unwitting) vector for getting disinformation to Saddam during the Gulf War. Lots of footage of marines practicing amphibious landings, which kept Iraqi forces tied up on Kuwaiti beaches for landings which never happened.

    358:

    Agreed, but your explanation is wrong. Bayesian reasoning IS a good guide, if your objective is simply to maximise the total catch of criminals. The problem is (a) that it will actively discriminate against the group, (b) people will tend to take it further and act on their prejudices and (c) as a result, it acts to prevent the root problems from being addressed. Because of that, NOT because it is a lousy guide to maximising the catch, it is counter-productive in the wider context. I agree that the drug laws were and are based on prejudice, but the same applies to (say) murder or rape.

    359:

    Correction accepted. Mentioning the Poles was a brain fart.

    360:

    I suspect the reason Russia couldn't have joined NATO is economic.
    [...]

    Speaking as an employee of the U.S. military-industrial complex and understudy of people who were "in the room" for that sort of thing...

    My understanding is the discussion never got that far along. At the time of the Soviet collapse, there was too much bad blood on both sides for the notion to be taken seriously. Scattered actors had an interest--e.g. James Baker published material openly advocating Russia joining NATO, and Putin commented publicly on the possibility early in his tenure--but it never truly gained any traction.

    In the 1990s, the Western establishment was content to let the "shock therapy" crowd and the emerging oligarchs have their way with Russia while the U.S. assimilated Eastern Europe into the West.

    361:

    The current threat to Russia from the Baltic states is mainly as a base for invasion or blockade, especially of Kaliningrad, and the reason that Russia is so twitchy is the way that NATO has been surrounding it with missile bases, and moving them closer and closer. Mounting a massive exercise in the Baltics using landing craft was clearly intended to raise the tension.

    First off, as a general rule, I don't recommend citing Breitbart as a source. It's a far right-wing, "alt-right" propaganda outlet whose former chief, Steve Bannon, is now Trump's top strategist.

    Second, you're mistaking reactive, tit-for-tat tactical moves for deliberate steps in a pre-planned grand strategy. There is no such strategy. The U.S. has not had a coherent strategy toward Russia since the Cold War ended.

    The key to understanding U.S. behavior toward Russia is realizing that the U.S. does not perceive or recognize any Russian entitlement to an independent sphere of influence. Hence, the U.S. view is that Western activities in Ukraine were simply a continuation of the post-Cold War assimilation of Eastern Europe. Simply put, until the last 6 months and the whole brouhaha with Trump, the U.S. policy apparatus didn't take Russia seriously.

    Also, speaking from experience, the U.S. "Deep State" isn't that deep. In fact, it's really quite shallow. Hanlon's razor and all that.

    But the other critical point about today is that is by no means the only way in which USA and NATO are actively threatening Russia, and actually waging (so far largely non-military) war against it. Russia isn't a nice country, but it IS facing a real, existential threat from the USA and NATO, and has essentially nowhere left to retreat to.

    Arguably, but Russia did its part to put itself in that position. Russia is not a helpless victim.

    I also quibble with the "existential threat" part. MAD is still in effect. Russia is under no more of such a threat than it has been for the past several decades. Moreover, Trump's waffling on Article 5 has publicly exposed how weak an alliance NATO has become.

    That is a major reason that the Russian people support Putin.

    I think you're seriously overestimating the cognizance of the Russian people on matters of geopolitics. More likely, they're as poorly informed and ignorant as the majority of Americans are.

    You seem deeply sympathetic to Russia. If so, why?

    362:

    I quoted Breitbart precisely BECAUSE it is so extreme - even it was describing that exercise as practising an offensive action.

    "Simply put, until the last 6 months and the whole brouhaha with Trump, the U.S. policy apparatus didn't take Russia seriously."

    If it didn't then, it doesn't now. Its anti-Russian actions go back many years - remember that USA sanctions are economic warfare, both in law and practice. I agree that the USA doesn't want any other country to challenge its hegemony, not even locally, but that's not the key point. The critical aspect is Russia's coastal geography, where it is singularly vulnerable to being blockaded in the Baltic and Black Sea. And the USA/NATO has been threatening just that.

    "MAD is still in effect. Russia is under no more of such a threat than it has been for the past several decades."

    That is true, but largely irrelevant. Russia and Putin (for all their faults) are sane, and do NOT want to have to start a nuclear war because the alternative is destruction, at least as an independent country and possibly as a country. The point is that Russia willingly retreated after the demise of the USSR, until it realised that the USA/NATO was still pursuing an anti-Russian agenda, and it had to call a halt or be blockaded or worse.

    "You seem deeply sympathetic to Russia. If so, why?"

    Because I don't want to see WWIII start! The point is that Russia has nowhere to retreat to, either geographically or politically, and the USA/NATO are STILL pushing. It has been almost begging for diplomatic solutions, and the USA/NATO has been saying "We are the 800 pound gorilla and don't negotiate - give way, totally, or else". It has its back to the wall, which last happened in 1941. If the USA/NATO push any further, Russia WILL fight, because it has no reasonable alternative.

    363:

    Interestingly, the supporting statement against the "NATO promised not to expand eastwards" is provided by... Gorbachev.

    It does appear to be a matter of timing; at the point where Yeltsin allowed Putin and his Nationalist mates/fellow kleptocrats to get their noses into the tent, Russia was a full member of NATO's PfP programme - and could conceivably have joined NATO.

    The "promise" Gorbachev was referring to was a handshake agreement with James Baker and the Bush I administration. Gorbachev and the Russians should've known such an agreement was only meaningful as long as that administration was in office.

    Russia joining NATO never got a serious hearing. Too many Cold War holdovers in the military-intelligence-diplomatic establishments of both the U.S. and Russia. They were conditioned for decades to hate and distrust each other. They never stopped.

    IMO, that's the tragic irony of the current situation. U.S.-Russia relations have deteriorated during the same period when said Cold War holdovers are starting to age out/die off. The opportunity's gone for at least another generation.

    364:

    I quoted Breitbart precisely BECAUSE it is so extreme - even it was describing that exercise as practising an offensive action.

    I think you misunderstand U.S. politics a bit here. Breitbart and the alt-right are explicitly pro-Russian and pro-Putin. They see him as a masculine, reactionary exemplar and bulwark against the "feminizing" forces of Transatlantic globalism.

    365:

    Damn. I short one day, because I had to get two CAT scans - one, I had to take time off for, and the other involved my bed, and purring....

    A lot of stuff to respond to.

    1. I think there's a *far* better name for She of the Many Names: since she's far more neutral/good than neutral/evil... Coyotl. That's Trickster, to you.

    2. Glenn... ok, folks, I've seen this far too many times before, on this side of the pond. I don't know if he's being paid to do social media, or if he's just a right-wing ideologue, but it's clear he's one. He will accept NO evidence that doesn't support his view ("my mind's made up, don't bother me with facts").

    3. And for you, Glenn, give us OTHER SOURCES, than MOA and RT. Give us well-known other sources that are *not* Faux News to support your views. Until you do, I stand by #2.

    4. Russia is a very difficult country to deal with - *everything* is shades of grey. (Not to say the US isn't, but that's not what we're arguing here.)

    a) Except where the USSR was either preparing for war, recovering from one, or fighting the Cold War, how many years of its entire existence was at peace? 10? And it was industrializing an entire nation that, at the time of the Revolution was 90% agricultural.

    b) The USSR was invaded by the US and Britain, right after WWI, with armies. Meanwhile the West, and esp. in the US, the ultra-wealthy were hysterically against them. (Against unions here, too, and have effectively broken them.) Economic warfare was going, at least until FDR. Then, after WWII, it came on again, full bore... and a lot of industrial hardware was kept from sales there. To my mind, one of the main things that brought the collapse of the USSR was Raygun: the US had a platinum, or maybe unobtainium, credit card, and the USSR only had an ordinary one, and was trying to counter Raygun's huge military buildup and threats.

    c) The collapse of the USSR was an utter and complete disaster for the 99% there. The West was all enthused... and then appratchiks and their friends got to buy it up for pennies, and the West *didn't*. They've always been very annoyed at that. The 99%? Who cares about them, they're nobodies.

    d) NATO's expansion right up to the Russian border, with no buffer states at all...oh, yeah, there's no threat to Russia, no, not at all. (And if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.)

    e) The West has *never* wanted to allow Russia a warm-water port. Can't imagine why Russia should be unhappy about that.

    f) While you're discussing the Baltic states, and eastern Europe, I think I'll consider Mexico, Central and South America, and what the US did, and still does, there. How much of the Venezuelan opposition is funded by US interests, or the US covertly? And other counties... don't forget, Eisenhower, when he was President, sent the US Marines into Nicaragua to protect United Fruit's interests.
    And then there was Raygun, giving money to literal death squads in Nicaragua. And google "School of the Americas".

    So, as an USan, we've got NO FUCKING RIGHT WHATEVER to say about Eastern Europe.

    366:

    The point is that Russia has nowhere to retreat to, either geographically or politically, and the USA/NATO are STILL pushing. It has been almost begging for diplomatic solutions, and the USA/NATO has been saying "We are the 800 pound gorilla and don't negotiate - give way, totally, or else". It has its back to the wall, which last happened in 1941. If the USA/NATO push any further, Russia WILL fight, because it has no reasonable alternative.

    I disagree.

    I think you're mistaking reasserted expansionism for desperate defensive action. I also think you're deeply underestimating Putin and his regime. I think they've rightly calculated that the U.S. and NATO are relatively weak, specifically that the U.S. has no coherent strategy toward the FSU, is distracted elsewhere, and that, in the West more generally, the political will to actually enforce Article 5 is tepid to nonexistent. Therefore, the time is is right for Russia to reassert as much power over its near abroad as it can. Hence, the action against Georgia. Hence, the annexation of Crimea. Hence, the shenanigans in eastern Ukraine.

    Russia will only be truly interested in negotiating with the U.S. once it's convinced that it has pushed the envelope as far as it can without triggering the scenario you fear.

    I have zero confidence the Russian regime is acting good faith. I don't think the U.S. is either, but moreso out of inertia and cluelessness than guile or strategy.

    367:

    The Wo(S)D: it started as against People Of Other Colors (and let's not forget Hearst's paper mills, and Anslinger's desire for a high-profile gov't job in the '30s.)

    By the sixties, the Rethuglicans decided it was great PR, and could use it against *lots* of folks who might be SO immoral and unethical... as to vote Democrat.

    And about the law, and the cops - for those on the other side of the Pond, there are even acronyms here: DWB (driving while Black), and one popping up is EWB (existing while Black). I know both anecdotally and from reports that Blacks and Hispanics will be pulled over for driving a nice car, or for the most minor infractions, where a white drive will not be. There've even been studies proving this.

    Weed - sure, it's got tars. But if you *tried* to smoke a pack a day, you'd a) weigh about 150kg, and b) be asleep about as much as a cat (18 hrs/day).

    368:

    "Not insurmountable"

    ROTFLKMFIA!!!!!!!!

    You *are* talking to some folks from one of the three nations in the entire freakin' world still using "English units", and who need two bloody tool kits, English and metric, and we won't even *metion* that Mars lander....

    369:

    Charlie, thanks for that post. I found it *extremely* interesting... and amazingly reasonable.

    370:

    Oh, Ghu, yes. And the Orange Idiot is far too stupid and ignorant to vaguely understand what he's putting his foot into.

    The real question is whether this will piss off his patron enough for him to finally get rid of this dangerous and poorly-made tool.

    371:

    Since we're past 300, some neuroscience, of the instrument-two-male-rhesus-macaques variety. Related to causality. :-) (I'd like to say that hopefully we can soon do these experiments properly, but vastly better instrumentation will have other implications (including control)).
    Study illustrates how the cortex assigns credit for causality
    abstract (i don't have access) - Prefrontal neurons encode a solution to the credit assignment problem (20 June 2017)
    These results demonstrate that the activity of dPFC neurons conforms to the basic requirements of a system that performs credit assignment, and that spiking activity can serve as a stable mechanism that links causes and effects.

    To AL: Proving a pedigree. "You don't even know Russian" as some HN kid shouted to me.
    Bezopasnost

    This never gets less weird, as I've said previously. Smile, though.

    Also, avoiding human evolution links mostly, but was unable to resist this - 130 kyr ago neanderthal dentistry?: Prehistoric dentistry? P4 rotation, partial M3 impaction, toothpick grooves and other signs of manipulation in Krapina Dental Person 20. (2017, not sure when)
    via

    Eyes I dare not meet in dreams - poetry prodding, finally read it closely, TX.

    372:

    If you state the reason why you want to know where it's from, you'll get a cookie.

    I wanted to know because it was something I didn't already know. What other reason is there for wanting to know anything?

    373:

    Wow, you are scraping the bottom of the barrel to try to get a response from me. So anyway, as noted, feeding trolls is amusing, especially when the person responding wasn't the person targeted.

    As for Sacramento, I don't know whether that single-payer thing was quashed because it was a crappy bill or because The Industry got to them. Or both. Given how bad our carbon cap and trade market's doing, I'm not all that worried about them not getting single-payer health care right on the first bill. I've got to live with the consequences, after all, and it could have easily turned into a costly fiasco. While yes, I'd love to see single-payer come to this state, I don't want it to be *more expensive* than average US health care, and that part wasn't at all clear in the bill.

    374:

    In the 1990s, the Western establishment was content to let the "shock therapy" crowd and the emerging oligarchs have their way with Russia while the U.S. assimilated Eastern Europe into the West.

    That's an interesting take on the whole way it played out. Since it's kinda on-topic for Host's question, a digression into history:

    As you point out in your letter, the shipment of bank notes
    by United States banks to other banks, in Russia or anywhere
    else, is permitted by U.S. law and there is nothing
    inherently illegal about such activities. The New York
    article was certainly unfair in suggesting otherwise.
    Furthermore, we have never encountered a money laundering
    scheme which seeks to convert assets already in financial
    institutions into bank notes[1].

    Congressional Record Volume 142, Number 19 (Tuesday, February 13, 1996) US Gov.


    Remember in the 1990s when the CIA was flying plane loads of cash to give to the Russian mob and oligarchs?
    Blacklisted News, 12th March, 2017 - notable for actual scans of the New Yorker piece which was called "The Money Plane".

    (Note that this was just prior to the Asian crisis of 97/8 which bled into a further recession in Russia).

    Let me see, this seems familiar[2]:

    Also, speaking from experience, the U.S. "Deep State" isn't that deep. In fact, it's really quite shallow. Hanlon's razor and all that.


    Of note is that the person involved,


    My area of responsibility for advising was macroeconomics, not privatization. I had no responsibility for the corrupt privatization, though I was often blamed wrongly for it. I actually opposed it strenuously, but was no longer even an advisor to the Russian Government when it occurred (especially 1994-1996).

    In December 1991 I had continuing discussions with the IMF about Western assistance for Russia. The IMF’s point man, Mr. John Odling Smee, who lasted for a decade as the head of the IMF’s efforts, was busy telling the G-7 that Russia needed no aid, that the “balance of payments gap” as calculated by the IMF was essentially zero. I believe that the IMF was simply parroting the political decisions already decided by the United States, rather than making an independent assessment. This is just a conjecture, but I make it because of the very low quality of IMF analysis and deliberations.

    . Prof. Andrei Shleifer, a Russian-American colleague on the Harvard faculty, became the key Western adviser on privatization, and he insisted on his own turf.

    During my final trip to Moscow in early 1995, the infamous “loans-for-shares” deal was just getting underway. This deal involved a massive and corrupt transfer of natural resource enterprises to the Government’s cronies, disguised as a collateralized loan to the Russian Government by Russian banks. The arrangements were blatantly corrupt from the start. I spent my final visit in Moscow visiting Western officials to warn them about what was happening. I felt that my antennae were pretty sound at that point, and that my perspective would be helpful to head off a disaster. I was stunned by the obtuseness of the response, from the IMF, an OECD visiting mission, and later from very senior U.S. officials, including Larry Summers.

    As it turned out, Prof. Shleifer was investing in Russian securities while leading the project, in violation[47] of HIID and US Government conflict-of-interest rules. He kept this secret from HIID management, including from me, as well as from USAID. During 1996, the U.S. Government Accountability Office audited the project, given its large scale, and did not turn up any information that led me or any other senior management at Harvard to suspect any inappropriate behavior by Prof. Shleifer. When the behavior ultimately came to USAID’s knowledge, and I was notified about it, I moved immediately to remove Shleifer from the project. After a lengthy investigation, Harvard and Shleifer ended up paying hefty fines as the result of Shleifer’s misbehavior.

    What I did in Russia Jeff Sachs (personal blog), Mar 2012

    In 1994, the story goes, Shleifer invested $464,000 in Russian oil companies, securities and equities—an overlap with the area of the Russian economy that he was helping to develop, while Hay put $20,000 into a mutual fund that invested in Russian equities. Hay, it is claimed, also gave a $66,000 check to Shleifer for Russian investments. The woman Hay is now married to, his girlfriend at the time, was the primary owner of the Pallada Mutual Fund Management Company—the first fund registered to sell to the Russian public. Through HIID, Hay oversaw such registrations. None of these transactions, the US says, were disclosed to USAID

    Harvard’s Dirty Hands The Harvard Crimson, Oct 2002

    In 1994 Shleifer founded with fellow academics—and behavioral finance specialists—Josef Lakonishok and Robert Vishny a Chicago-based money management firm known as LSV Asset Management. As of February 2006, it managed about $50 billion in quantitative value equity portfolios, though, according to the firm's website, Shleifer has sold his ownership stake.


    In 1997, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) canceled most of its funding for the Harvard project after investigations showed that top HIID officials Andre Schleifer and Johnathan Hay had used their positions and insider information to profit from investments in the Russian securities markets. Among other things, the Institute for a Law Based Economy (ILBE) was used to assist Schleifer's wife, Nancy Zimmerman, who operated a hedge fund which speculated in Russian bonds.[14]
    Wikipedia

    However, later in 2004 the government announced that Zimmerman's firm had agreed to pay $1.5 million in a settlement. A year later Harvard agreed to pay the largest amount in its history to settle a lawsuit -- $26.5 million. Shleifer agreed to pay $2 million, Hay between $1 million and $2 million. All four of the original individual defendants testified extensively under oath, defending their roles in the Russian aid program. None acknowledged liability. In his settlement Hay said he disputes "certain of the contentions" against him. In a statement at the time, Shleifer said: "An individual can fight the unlimited resources of the government for only so long. After eight long years, I have decided to end this now -- without any admission of liability on my part. I strongly believe I would have prevailed in the end, but my lawyers told me my legal fees would exceed the amount that I will be paying the government."

    "The scandal caused an extreme decline in the Russian SEC's influence as a regulator," says economist Alexander Abramov, head of development at the Moscow-based Russian Trading System, the country's principal stock exchange, and the author of a new book on Russia's securities markets. "It made the financial crisis of 1998 more likely. And I think it destroyed the trust and relationships between Russian authorities and American advisers."

    How Harvard lost Russia Institutional Investor, Feb 2006

    Prof. Andrei Shleifer remains at Harvard. LSV Asset Management is now worth ~$101 billion. In 2010 only 3.5% of its portfolio was held in the Russian Federation, notably in the industrial and extraction industries[3].

    Nobody went to jail.

    [1] Possibly because no-one had witnessed the rapid dissolution of a Communist State before?

    [2] How the US sent $12bn in cash to Iraq. And watched it vanish Guardian, Feb 2007
    Investigation Into Missing Iraqi Cash Ended in Lebanon Bunker NYT, Oct 2014
    The CIA Drug ConnectionIs as Old as the Agency NYT, Dec 1993

    [3] JSC MMC NORILSK NICKEL-ADR 1.3%
    MOBILE TELESYSTEMS-SP ADR 1.0%
    MAGNITOGORS - SPON GDR REGS 0.9%
    LUKOIL - SPONS ADR 0.3%

    STANCERA DUE DILIGENCE QUESTIONNAIRE 2010, PDF

    375:

    Perhaps worth reading (author is Californian, level-headed, and has a treatable cancer so he has a personal interest):
    Some Notes on California’s Single-Payer Health Care Plan
    Snippet:
    History. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that SB562 was some brand new, Bernie-esque health care reform. California Democrats have been introducing universal health care bills of one sort or another for decades. This is California’s seventh attempt, following the introduction of single-payer bills and ballot initiatives in 1992, 1994, 1998, 2003, 2005, and 2009.

    376:

    Not forgetting the Home Army that undertook the Warsaw Rising in 1944.
    Which was then carefully allowed by Stalin to be all killed by the Nazis & the subsequent propaganda by the soviets that said rising was a capitalist failure.
    Um

    377:

    I didn't even mention the really dubious stuff yet, since it rhymes with the Iraqi cash locations:

    The attack - a month before the completion of the pounds 7bn sale of Mr Safra's New York and Luxembourg banks to the British banking giant HSBC - sent a shudder through the super rich of Monaco, where violent crime is almost unknown.

    The Republic National Bank of New York - later the Republic New York Corporation - was founded by Mr Safra 33 years ago and the deal selling the bank to the international banking conglomerate HSBC was due to be finalised around 3 January. HSBC said yesterday that Mr Safra's death would not affect the deal but banking analysts and insiders predicted that there might be some delay.

    It was Republic New York which blew the whistle last year on the alleged embezzlement and money-laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid to Russia through the Bank of New York.

    Billionaire who blew whistle on Russian cash scandal is killed in Monte Carlo Independent, Dec 1999 - pre-current ownership.

    Russia has reached a settlement with Bank of New York Mellon over a $22.5 billion lawsuit against the bank stemming from a 1990s money laundering scheme by one of its executives, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Wednesday.

    The two-year court case stems from a decade-old scandal in which a Bank of New York vice president and her husband were convicted of illegally wiring $7.5 billion of Russian money into accounts at the bank. The Russian federal customs service went to court in 2007 to claim lost tax revenue on those transfers, but the judge overseeing the hearings urged the two sides to reach a settlement.

    Russia: Bank of N.Y. Mellon settles money laundering case ABC News, 2009 ish.

    ~

    There's a reason Chicago got a reputation for corruption, and well, New York is New York.


    [Serious note: one of the factors in the post-Soviet era is that a lot of them took the whole "predator MBA" Harvard schtick as reality, especially once they'd had a taste of what corruption Chicago / NY could offer. And now... you got Trump.]
    *polite cough*


    378:

    And since the Peanut gallery is watching, hi Glenn, some facts:

    #1 Mr Safra was Jewish and a notable philanthropist back from the days when Beirut was a financial capital (how people forget this...)
    #2 The Russian Government really didn't want him killed, they were quite annoyed by the 1998 crash and so forth
    #3 HSBC has many failings (!) but doesn't appear to have been involved
    #4 Bruce Rappaport had strong ties to Israel and Antigua but his alleged ties to the CIA and the Deep State are far more notable. His entire bio is basically one long list of guns, tax evasion, dodgy links to Colombian drug lords and even the Contras all with oil and drug and tax dodging money. Oh and the BCCI scandal and Indonesia of course.


    So, yeah: probably not the Russians involved in this little pie.

    Draw your own conclusions. (Hint: "the deep state is shallow" is a lie. LOL).

    379:

    "a heavy toker smokes a lot less of their unfiltered grass than a tobacco user uses cigarettes."

    The thing is, for that one to work it requires ready access to abundant quantities of mediocre weed. Fine if you're somewhere where it grows wild, not so good in places where nature's liberality fails to supervene over human arseholishness.

    Where supply difficulties mean that one has, by contrast, expensive access to small quantities of potent weed, it's not practical to smoke unmixed weed. A quantity appropriate to the potency on its own results in an unsmokable joint which is almost more paper than weed and won't burn properly. To roll one with sufficient bulk to burn smokably requires putting in a ridiculous amount, which is expensive of itself, is also a very wasteful way of using it, and more or less means you have to get thoroughly blitzed whether you want to or not (compare: can't have half a pint of beer, it has to be half a pint of vodka).

    The alternative is to dilute it with some relatively inert bulk material so that combustion is enhanced and regulating the intake properly becomes possible. This is when you find out that kitchen herbs don't burn and smoking grass off the lawn is like gargling with broken glass. The range of possible diluents turns out to be a lot smaller than it might appear, and tobacco comes out pretty much top of the list - its combustion characteristics are close to ideal, and it scores pretty well on being easy to inhale too.

    The result is as WaveyDavey notes: the weed itself remains in the take-it-or-leave-it category, but you get addicted to the nicotine. And the conditions that give rise to this situation are created artificially by the hypocritical and illogical laws that rate drugs according to how many hundreds of years of acceptance they have had among English(-type) upper classes.

    380:

    Also, speaking from experience, the U.S. "Deep State" isn't that deep. In fact, it's really quite shallow. Hanlon's razor and all that.

    Also having a couple of decades of experience in the belly of the beast, I'd mostly agree. Without ruling out the possibility of localized cabals occurring here and there and now and then, it's mostly, IMO and as OGH has opined, an emergent phenomenon. People interact and implicitly establish ways of doing things but don't have a lot of depth if asked to explain or justify why.

    381:

    Regarding Safra - Hermitage Capital Management; Sergei Magnitsky. These happened long after his death, although for fun you can always look up another Chicago boy, Bill Browder who, surprise surprise is also in this pie and has ties to HSBC.

    On the surface, Safra / Bowder were the 'good guys' in the privatization, or at least, very much anti-corruption (c.f. Gazprom) unlike the Harvard / CIA boys.

    And, for Gremlins / Glenn: none of this has anything to do with ethnicity / religion. It's all about a far more fundamental issue. (Unless you can somehow shoe-horn Mossad killing Safra here, which would take some really wild speculation).

    ~

    Where was this going?

    Oh, yep. I miss Beirut, it was one of the foundations of the extended tripartite Abrahamic league in other timelines, the train journey from Beirut to Jerusalem with all the forests and measures against deforestation is a site to behold. (Although, tbh, the entire "We're rebuilding the Garden of Eden" stuff from Saudi Arabia - Israel tourist boards is a bit much - we do see the fudges even if the Iraqi wetlands were saved from saltification recently).

    382:

    Ahh...

    Have you ever seen that Chomsky interview with Andrew Marr? The entire bit about "I'm sure you believe that, you wouldn't be where you are today if you didn't?"


    Interesting thought in the larger scale of things...

    383:

    "Incidentally, the railways already are (arms-length/plausible deniability) nationalised..."

    Well... that's not how I would describe it myself, but I know what you are describing, and I'd say it's that arms-lengthery that's much of the problem. We haven't got rid of the ridiculous tangle of conflicting interests mediated by having to pay money to each other according to formulae heavy with unintended consequences which are then systematically exploited by reason of the usual capitalist profit-before-service priority ordering. We don't have any kind of unification of aims or control; we have a bunch of separate outfits which by the rules of public service ought to be spending money on various enhancements, but under the rules of capitalism there's nothing to make them do it. We have a collection of narrow self-interests the overall effect of whose actions is to reduce flexibility and interoperability, and to fossilise the railway in a state where adapting to future needs becomes ever less possible.

    Round here, the council (what is it with councils that they are always really really stupid?) have this "brilliant" (moronic) idea to build a new station some miles out of town. This is supposed to "take us into the 21st century" and other such meaningless garbage. They think it will make possible useful new services. They still think this even though the relevant franchise operators have said they aren't going to stop there because it would disrupt their existing service patterns too much.

    Worse than that, it actually reduces the service possibilities. Because coupled with the opening of the new station is the proposal to close one of the two stations that are actually in the town. This would mean that one of the three sides of the triangle of routes through the town would no longer have a station.

    To be sure, there aren't currently any through services on that route. But that is not something to be taken advantage of by closing the station. It is, rather, a significant deficiency in the local transport network which has been a pain in the arse for years and needs to be remedied. Stifling the possibility of such a remedy is not the way to go.

    The council are pursuing their own interests in promoting their dumb wanking project. The TOCs are pursuing their own interests in not stopping at it. Network Rail, I guess, are pursuing their own interests in trying to make up some of the cost by closing the existing station. All the different threads pulling in different directions mean we end up with a less flexible and useful railway and cement it in place, wasting a lot of money on it to boot. The only people who will gain are the contractors who build it and the suppliers of wank rags to the council. And similar things happen all over the country, because nothing is coordinated and the means used to assess viability are so fucking bent they can give any answer the ones pulling the strings want them to (while shovelling yet more money at private sector parasites in the process).

    384:

    Where supply difficulties mean that one has, by contrast, expensive access to small quantities of potent weed, it's not practical to smoke unmixed weed. ...

    Comedy Gold.

    As an engineer, let me introduce you to the: BONG Grasscity.

    That's not even mentioning the advanced craft of "buckets", "hot knives", "zoot chute" or other such methods. Teenagers with no engineering degrees can do crazy things with coke cans.

    You guys are really cute. Pro-tip: tobacco / weed mix in spliffs is for when you don't want red-eye and getting utterly blown away. Plus, it's a social thing more than anything else - "don't bogart the joint, man!". (snark).

    It's like watching pandas discuss how they took down a moose to eat. It's technically possible, but not really what happens in the wild.


    p.s.

    Buckets with skunk is where you get on the borderline danger zone. Especially if you're hotboxing at the same time. Full marks if you don't cough and you can dragon it.

    The Camberwell Carrot YT: Film, Withnail and I, 2:54

    385:

    It's funny seeing them called "English" units, when you use them more than we do :) I still haven't got over the shock of reading some report or other produced fairly recently by NASA that used the Rankine scale.

    Two tool kits is annoying, but I find the increasing profusion of silly screw heads much more so, since while the daft units thing is just a matter of "hysterical raisins", the silly screw heads are done on purpose to fuck people up.

    386:

    Um.

    You're aware that NASA actually has a page on this, right? It's to do with fuels.

    The Rankine temperature scale uses the same size degree as Fahrenheit, but has its zero set to absolute zero. To convert from Fahrenheit to Rankine, add 459.67 to the Fahrenheit reading.

    https://cryo.gsfc.nasa.gov/introduction/temp_scales.html

    The English absolute scale, known as the Rankine scale, uses the symbol R and has an increment the same as that of the Fahrenheit scale.

    http://cryogenics.nist.gov/AboutCryogenics/about%20cryogenics.htm

    Unless, you know, you're doing a M2/3 science joke.


    But here's your answer:

    Although cold temperatures may be reported using any temperature scale, the Kelvin and Rankine scales are most common because they are absolute scales that have positive numbers.

    https://www.thoughtco.com/cryogenics-definition-4142815


    There ya go: makes your equations nicer, easier for the Monkeys-in-Spaaaaaace to process.


    /BONG TIME

    387:

    Er, make that AMERIIIICAN MONKIEEEES IN SPAAAACE who might be confused by Celsius / Kelvin and need a positive scale that uses F in critical "OHH FUCK OUR LANDER JUST BLEW OUT A SEAL".

    Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good YT: Film, Zoolander 2:33

    @372

    I wanted to know because it was something I didn't already know. What other reason is there for wanting to know anything?

    Aesthetics, beauty, love, compassion, the list goes on.

    Hint: you've never seen that in a book before. You're not good at this type of thing.


    Anyhow, congrats: you won't see its like again. Enjoy the American Dream there skip.

    388:

    Teenagers with no engineering degrees can do crazy things with coke cans.
    Teenagers with no engineering degrees can concoct crazy things with lots of implements. One, on the supply side, involved a percolator (long long time ago, pre-internet so invented on the fly, OK? :-), voltage regulator, nasty non-flammable solvents, and other details. And with the internet, it just takes somebody (or somebodies, and rounds of iteration) to work out/simplify/make safer the tech and share the knowledge. (I see it might be called "dabs" now. Been a while since I even looked.)

    The UK whitelist approach to mild-altering drugs is pure nuts. (E.g. lots of plants/fungi contain psychoactives.) (And this is from an American.) Any chance of getting it repealed? (general question to anyone.)

    389:

    Any chance of getting it repealed?

    No.

    Every now and then a government will pretend to dabble in evidence based policy making, think about the tabloid headlines, shy away from the idea and increase sentances instead.

    390:

    Thanks Bill. I hadn't been following it, since it didn't seem like there was serious interest in getting it passed and I've part of a crew working on other, more specialized issues that I do want to see passed.

    In any case, I see the juicy part of the California single-payer plan as rather further down the page, but basically it looks like the bill wasn't ready for prime time, it requires federal buy-in, and so on. So pulling it isn't necessarily a stupid move.

    The deep irony here is that I seem to recall a poll saying that Republicans nationwide dislike single payer health-care somewhat less than they hate Obamacare (55% opposed it this spring, while 80% wanted Obamacare repealed).

    If you want the LooneyTunes version of how the US gets to single payer, it starts with the Republicans getting sick of their current bill (either because they pass it and lose bigly at the ballot box or because they don't pass Trumpcare because they just wanted to repeal Obamacare and not replace it at all), somehow reading/smoking some (tea)leaves that say that single payer healthcare is something that can result in a Government-Medical Complex (think Military Industrial Complex, but not for killing people quickly), and they, along with some democrats, decide to just go for it and smear the reputation of Obama by actually doing something useful for a change, rather than just being against whatever he did on the account of him being black and all.

    While I'm not entirely sure I could go for such a measure, since the DoD has complained that it doesn't want to be a retirement system that also fights wars (and they've still got pull), I could see the US going for single-payer and outsourcing the bureaucracy to the insurance firms as a way to keep them solvent and to keep those campaign funds flowing in from them, or something. Whether it would be a good single-payer system is another. It could end up being the VA For All.

    Or Charles Koch could dies and a bunch of libertarianism dies with him. Stranger things have happened.

    391:

    There is. We're pulling stuff that's casually more unlikely out of the bag all the time now.

    But...

    The cost is high. (Pun intended).

    Along the lines of "T. May actually has orgasm, finds spiritual sanctity in Gaia, declares she's a hippy and ditches her boring husband for a seal she bonded with while taking LSD".

    ~

    But, no, really: It's on the list. We don't post links to connected stuff without knowledge of what a #Wildhunt actually does.


    Pro-tip: A lot of people are betting on a lot of people dying. It's not going so well for them at the moment.

    392:

    Republicans nationwide dislike single payer health-care somewhat less than they hate Obamacare
    Anecdote and etc, but my favorite wingnut friend (guns, Breitbart fan, etc. Nice guy fwiw, and listens during arguments.) is a single-payer advocate.

    393:

    Oh, I know all about those things, but I deliberately didn't mention them because outside partyesque settings they don't really see a lot of use. Partly this is because they too suffer from the "half a pint of vodka" problem, albeit to a lesser extent, so people reserve them for "special occasions". Partly it's portability; OK, a pipe fits in your pocket, but nothing more complicated does. Partly it's because they're just too much palaver. All that messing about with apparatus... people generally don't want to make such a production out of it. Especially when it involves two gallons of water in the middle of the floor; I've met many people who don't even know what a bucket is. Basically, such devices tend to be the province of people who operate continuously in Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers mode, and most people don't.

    394:

    Your reality is boring, cruel, myopic and dull, and not open to change or *HAPPY CAMPERS* as you've proven over a couple of years.

    Fuck. That. Noise.

    Pro-tip: Our Predictive Stance is waaaaay beyond your shitty little models or probability trees.

    ~

    The future is bright.


    p.s.


    Admit it. Go on, run the numbers, run the models: we perform waaaaaay beyond what's normal. Admit that, we might be nice. Go on, do some science.


    Narrator: His Ego didn't allow it, he got sucked into the Void along with the Slaved Minds.

    395:

    The entire point of Bongs and recreational drug use is the fetishization of apparatus. You engineers / chemists get to play all day: the hoi polloi don't, so when they do, it's ALLLLL RITUAL.

    (This is actually a serious point - rolling the 'perfect joint' and sharing is part of the ritual; you're missing the social point here).

    Buckets:

    1 x ASDA / TESCO mop + plastic made in China common to every home base
    1 x 2 litre coke bottle
    1 x knife to cut the base
    3cm2 kitchen foil

    Fill Mop Bucket with water. Cut base off coke bottle. Cut foil, pierce with knife with many small holes.

    Use basic physics + flame to create vacuum. --- SCIENCE ---


    This isn't even touching on the drugs where addiction is important like meth / heroin / crack etc. Those cats need to be put on a space station: they'll convert anything into an engineering solution. In fact, all SF novels need an addict in the hibernation suite:

    Ensign: "The entire system is failing, we've run out of supplies, the solar sails are broken and all the coolant is evaporating! Our manuals are useless, we're doomed"

    Captain: "Unfreeze the addict, and tell them there's crack rocks out there in space, we'll be out of this in an hour".

    (To be read in the style of Dave Chappelle. Yellow Cake: Don't Drop That Shit YT: Comedy, David Chappelle, 9:59 - just watch it, you might smile)

    396:

    "AMERIIIICAN MONKIEEEES IN SPAAAACE"

    Yes, it's them. In my experience even pretty old thermodynamics books use Kelvin exclusively. Amusingly, I've seen some early-20th-century article about steam engines that used Fahrenheit in the main body of the text, but switched to Kelvin (complete with explanation of what it was) to report on the thermodynamic performance. To see Rankine actually in use in an actual project by people who don't have top hats and big whiskers was a bit of a culture shock moment.

    397:

    "Bucketless Bucket" - using the bath.
    "Posh Bucket" - using a wine bottle (cutting the bottom off with a hot wire).
    "Dry Bucket" - using a plastic bag up inside the bottle, fixed round the rim and with a string attached to the middle, instead of hydraulics.
    "Low CO2 Bucket" - replacing the flame and tinfoil with a self-heating grid made from an old toaster element and powered from a car battery.
    "High Tech Low CO2 Bucket" - using a laser.
    "Fully Automatic Bucket"...

    It tickles me, but most people I've met can't generally be arsed with it. Before such things were readily available it used to be almost de rigeur for anyone who went to Amsterdam for the weekend to bring back a bong or two as souvenirs; they would get used enthusiastically for a week or two, or until the gauze got clogged up, then they'd be relegated to the back of the cupboard and largely forgotten about.

    Sharing joints seems to have gone out of fashion, too; used to be SOP, but I've not seen anyone do it for ages.

    398:

    JBS.

    It's ours. We Wrote it. (More importantly, we lived it). You're a primordial worm for being so utterly rabidly insulting about your need to know "where it came from" without deigning to show any pleasure in reading the words or sniffing the ecstasy behind them. What? You collect random books just to take the fingerprints off their covers to index against their Facial Features in your social network Database? Really? Is toilet paper so rare in your Mad-Max post-Randian world?

    Hollow Man.

    DPB.

    Run the Math, it breaks your models, and we're doing this with a lot of fuzzing. So much fuzzing.

    You have the Data.
    You have the Dates.
    You have the Reality.
    You have the skill set to do it.
    You're sitting right next to a computer who can do it.

    But, apparently, men cannot run the models. That would be Dangerous. It's not like +80% breaks probability is it?

    DO THE GREP NO MATTER WHAT IT MIGHT SCARE YOU WITH RESULTS: THAT'S SCIENCE, THEY THOUGHT THE SKY MIGHT BURN IN ALAMOS.

    Hollow Man.

    ~

    Between the conception
    And the creation
    Between the emotion
    And the response
    Falls the Shadow

    Life is very long

    Between the desire
    And the spasm
    Between the potency
    And the existence
    Between the essence
    And the descent
    Falls the Shadow


    Never have I seen scientists so unable to run probability / curves and then be utterly stupid and insulting about it all. Oh, wait: Alan Turing, so you're just fucking Blinkered Apes who need a fucking spank.

    TIME. YOU'RE NOT GOOD AT IT.

    I is approx same age as OGH, and I think I am a decent sort. This last 12-24 months, I've felt like the simulation hypothesis is true, and somebody is dicking about massively with the settings. There seems to be nothing that is not disturbing.

    Oh, fucking LOL.

    What. Do. You. Think. This. Is. About.

    What. Do. You. Think. This. Is. About.

    What. Do. You. Think. This. Is. About.

    What. Do. You. Think. This. Is. About.

    What. Do. You. Think. This. Is. About.

    What. Do. You. Think. This. Is. About.


    I'd do this in Greek, but hey: Bring me my shears.


    Σείκιλος Εὐτέρ YT - Music. It's fairly old.

    Ὅσον ζῇς φαίνου
    μηδὲν ὅλως σὺ λυποῦ
    πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶ τὸ ζῆν
    τὸ τέλος ὁ χρόνος ἀπαιτεῖ.


    How dare you take SHINE and SING and corrupt them for your bastardized perverted version?


    You've No idea what's coming.


    399:

    Along the lines of "T. May actually has orgasm, finds spiritual sanctity in Gaia, declares she's a hippy and ditches her boring husband for a seal she bonded with while taking LSD".
    This is an interestingly positive approach. For fun and sanity, starting to think about similar scenarios for some American politicians. (I tried to watch this, stopped after 8 minutes: Mike Pence Speech At Focus On The Family Event 6/23/2017)

    Unfreeze the addict, and tell them there's crack rocks out there in space...
    This made me laugh. (The video too, at high speed.)

    400:

    Ahh, but we can still do humor. Of both the absurd, the profane and the Sacred.

    Spoiler: Those who have perverted SHINE and SING cannot (well, apart from on the far reaches of cruelty levels that they're attempting with Health Care bills).

    You're probably not going to get it, but I just sent a flare up. *Nose Wiggle*

    You might want to look at the SONG used to challenge the SHINE perversion.


    ~

    It's all very esoteric. Getting DPB etc to run the numbers on probability is kinda (never going to happen, he's too stubborn, but potentially could, so exists in a Timeline) just us showing off (as is the Russia / Harvard stuff).

    Bottom line: SHINE AND SING have been perverted, and we're going to sort that out. Race, Religion, Gender, (insert all teh things) really don't matter.


    1-2-3-4, you declared thumb war!

    Now it's our turn. We're going to burn your fucking Minds out since that's what you attempted.


    No. All of your kind.


    SHINE and SING how fucking dare you.

    401:

    Never have I seen scientists so unable to run probability / curves and then be utterly stupid and insulting about it all.
    Just in this blog and willfully ignoring the broader world, by mid 2016 the null hypothesis(es) had been pushed out pretty far, if one was paying attention and had a Bayesian mindset. (But you know that. And I don't much care about being mocked by others.) (Remembering an overt hint about the markets and boring and Thursdays in early 2016; watched the markets attentively that day, was amused.)

    I'm happily expecting things to get a lot weirder.

    402:

    (Hint: "the deep state is shallow" is a lie. LOL).

    Milady, I'd sleep a lot better at night if this were true. It'd mean someone with power actually had their eye on the horizon. That someone in a position to make a difference, even if only someone evil, was actually competent and had something resembling a plan for the future. That they weren't all just petty, oblivious lemmings running backward toward the cliff's edge.

    403:

    Because I don't want to see WWIII start! The point is that Russia has nowhere to retreat to, either geographically or politically, and the USA/NATO are STILL pushing. It has been almost begging for diplomatic solutions, and the USA/NATO has been saying "We are the 800 pound gorilla and don't negotiate - give way, totally, or else". It has its back to the wall, which last happened in 1941. If the USA/NATO push any further, Russia WILL fight, because it has no reasonable alternative.

    What audacity! How much do Russia's neighbors have to kowtow and please Moscow so that it's satisfied? You cite NATO training drills in the Baltics, yet there are also drills like Zapad 2017 (9th in the series) taking place near Pskov, which is right next to the Baltic states. Also Russian fighters have a tendency to get lost in NATO airspace to the tune of 110 times in 2016. Only after Russia's army presence in Ukraine became blatantly obvious were there talks of stationing a NATO battalion in Estonia.
    I would like to believe that Russia is looking for dialogue and cooperation with the west, except most of that seems to be all pretty soundbites and no substantial action. And if we add in all the other events such as the Georgia invasion, Crimea and unrest in Ukraine, then please tell me how is anyone supposed to take Russia in good faith. Putin might be sane, but seems to exist in some weird world of Russian imperialism which does not work well with anyone else.
    Believe me, the Baltics would gladly not take part of NATO and US hegemony, but as things currently are, the US did not occupy them for 50 years and send their people to die in the GULAGs. Russia seems to expect everybody to forget every bad thing about the USSR without even apologizing, yet also it expects everybody to respect Russia's geopolitical interests in the "near-abroad" (coincidentally what used to be the USSR). This is like rationalizing the behavior of an abusive husband.

    404:

    Worcester, almost certainly?
    [ Shrub Hill & Foregate Street, respectively & the insane "parkway" where the Ex-GWR SE-NW line crosses over the ex-MR NE-SW line ...]
    Yess fucking bonkers - almost as good as improving Upney in fact (!)

    405:

    There has been much alarm about the "white list" as many commom & not-so-common garden herbs, both culinary & medicinal are NOT on the list. And some herbalist/pharma chain-shops have been very concerned about this.
    Enthusiastic herb-growers like me are waiting for the first idiot prosecution by some ultra-thick plod.
    Remember that most of the "Mints" Labatiae are also medicinal as well as, or instead of culinary.
    Let's not go into (English common names) Rue, Wormwood or some of the "Nightshades" - which include potato & tomato & all the chilis, of course.

    What's happened, is, presently a truce, since its so obviously bonkers.

    See also this major chain of herbal suppliers, found in almost evry major high street in the country Holland & Barrett

    406:

    Not forgetting ...
    Fat Freddy's Cat, of course.
    Mrreow

    407:

    In a very (VERY) early "Dr Who" episode - I was still at scool & my father was amused by the whole thing, there was a csual reference to an "outside temperature" in negative-Fahrenheit [ Note* ], which was BELOW ABSOLUTE ZERO, in the Rankine scale ... he boggled for a moment, then nearly fell out of his chair laughing ... it took him some time to explain it to me. ( Who was already using what was then called the m-k-s system of units, of course )

    Note* I think it was "minus 470", or similar - probably deliberately put in as a wind-up by the scriptwriters, now I think of it .....

    408:

    A lot of the talk above has made me sad, and fearful, both of my personal future, and my thee teenage children's.
    bu happily, your "Addict as emergency fixer" made me laugh, a deep and real laugh. Thank you.

    409:

    Bah. s/thee/three

    410:

    De-lurking commenced.

    As long as you live, shine.

    Really lovely. Poignant to tears.

    Thanks.

    411:

    Sigh. I know why you are so emotional, and I don't expect you to trust Russia an inch (for very good reasons), but you are being politically naive. Sorry, but .... The USA doesn't give a brass fuck about you, except as a stick to beat Russia with and, if it does attempt a military blockade using you as a base, you will get trodden on in the conflict. You have also increased the chances of a Russian invasion, in the unlikely chance that the USA dismantles NATO.

    412:

    Yes, OF COURSE, it's a sodding emergent phenomenon, and of the USA military-industrial complex, too (Ike was right), not the political or bureaucratic complexes, let alone the chattering classes. That's been bloody obvious for over half a century, just as the equivalent in the UK has been for three decades (though, in our case, it's the mandarinate getting into bed with the unregenerate plutocrats). But, as I have said ad tedium before, organisations often have mindsets not shared by their members. In this case, there is only a loose association (at most), but it STILL acts like an inchoate and amorphous entity - i.e. with a mindset of its own. But that makes it a LOT more dangerous, as there is no organisation to contact and persuade it to pull back from the brink. Thank God for Tillerson, but even he won't be able to halt the drift towards the precipice, let alone reverse it.

    Please don't swallow the strawmen that several posters try to put into my mouth, in lieu of debating the issues. I do not subscribe to them, and my postings didn't imply them.

    413:

    Right. I was advised to use lavender oil for insomnia by a NHS nurse - it's not great, but helps a little, and is not noticeably addictive - sedatives are definitely psychoactives, and it's not a common food ingredient. I can't remember if it was one of the few to get on the whitelist, but I am damn sure that I could find something in either my kitchen or garden that isn't, and doesn't have the 'get out of gaol free' card by being 'commonly eaten in food' or whatever the wording is.

    Harking back to #399, the Maybot would definitely be improved by such treatment. We could establish a political party on a platform of requiring all cabinet ministers to get high and have an orgy once a month, and stand against her (and Rees-Smug, clearly).

    414:

    Thanks, it's a nicely turned phrase. I'll stick with JReynolds' comment at 336 as my headcanon though, IYDM.

    415:

    If Russia can't join NATO, they should join the EU. I hear the EU is shortly going to be in need of an old imperial power.

    416:

    TL:DR - Russia wants a similar amount of respect and fear that the US gets on the world stage and on its borders in particular. And guess what its functionally exactly an 800lb gorilla as far as Eastern Europe and Baltics are concerned AND from their world view they have a number of reasons to feel agrieved about not getting that - regardless of whether outside observers would agree.

    Right vs Wrong, History vs Now, "Good US" Guys vs "Bad USSR" Guys, Morality (yea really!) doesn't come into it.

    Which I think is essentially what your arguments boil down to, without subjective justifications for it? If I've deciphered your essential feelings on the topic from previous posts is far less about what what you feel Russia does/does not deserve than a well founded fear about what their actions might be if the "pushes" continue.

    As an aside I do wonder after ~50 years of Cold war - how much our subconscious is still hard wired to think of the US as the good guys and Russia as the bad guys - even for the enlightened residents of this blog.

    417:

    Yes but how much rebate would they want?