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Radio silence

Hi! Apologies for the long hiatus. I've been kind of preoccupied, with a funeral in the family and then a world science fiction convention in Helsinki, but I'm finally home and trying to get back to some semblance of normal.

In the meantime, some news:

If you're in the United States and read ebooks, The Rhesus Chart is currently discounted to $1.99. (The link goes to Amazon.com but it should be the same price on iBooks and the Google Play store and Kobo. It's probably also at this price in Canada, but not in the UK or Europe--different publishers in different territories.) If you haven't tried the Laundry Files, this book isan entrypoint: why not give it a try?

Tonight, August 16th, I'm appearing at the Edinburgh Book festival with Nnedi Okorafor, Jo Walton, and Ken Macleod. We'll be at the Studio Theatre from 7:15pm; it's a ticketed event from the main book festival box office.

And on Friday August 18th, I'll be back at the book festival for a discussion with Nalo Hopkinson, Ken MacLeod, and Ada Palmer: we'll e at Bosco Theatre (on George Street) from 6:30pm, and again, it's a ticketed event.

And finally, the big news: my space opera, Ghost Engine, is being rescheduled for 2019; instead, July 2018 should see publication of The Labyrinth Index, the ninth Laundry Files novel! Publishers will be Orbit in the UK and Tor in the USA (this being the New Normal for the Laundry Files). This change has been in the works for a few months, but I didn't want to pre-announce it until I had it nailed down. (In a nutshell: Ghost Engine was too ambitious to finish on my original schedule, and The Labyrinth Index was growing more and more timely, until they just crossed over.)

392 Comments

1:

"[I]nstead, July 2018 should see publication of The Labyrinth Index, the ninth Laundry Files novel!"

Huzzah! Sorry for you that you needed to rethink the space opera and I'm sure that'll be even more amazing for the extra incubation. But huzzah for the rest of us with the next fix^H^H^Hinstallment coming sooner. Huzzah!

2:

No problem! I was sort of busy during Worldcon as well, and I imagine so were many others of us. I hope you had an enjoyable Worldcon!

3:

Charlie,
Welcome home, and sorry again for your loss. It sounds like you've got your production line ironed out, and we're looking forward to the next delivery from Strossworks.

Do you have any other public appearances lined up in the near future?

4:

I will note that The Labyrinth Index is going to be another shift of gear in the series. Our narrator is Mhari (who neither Bob nor Mo understand), and she's working for the New Management — the government we can dimly see coming into shape at the end of The Delirium Brief.

The international situation has changed perilously in the wake of the Black Chamber's administrative coup in the United States. (Ahem: absolutely no satirical metaphor for the US government's capture by white supremacists here. Right?) The UK (for historic reasons) has no institutional intelligence agency charged with keeping an eye on their former ally, so when the New Management wants to know what's going on, Mhari (who has unwisely gained a reputation as a high-flyer at TPCF and then on Continuity Ops) is handed the shitsack job of leading a team to Colorado Springs to find out what exactly it was that the Reverend Schiller was fleeing ...

5:

From our chat re: Labyrinth Lord, I definitely am salivating to read it!

6:

Err Labyrinth Index. Reboot, with Caffeine.

7:

It's probably covered in the recent book, but I can't remember what TPCF stands for, and Google isn't helpful (Tanzania Pastoralist Community Forum? Treponema Pallidum Complement Fixation?)

8:

Transhuman Police Coordination Force

(the superheroes-turned-crimefighters led by Mo with assistance from Mhari and Ramona in The Annihilation Score)

9:

The series is looking more and more like a utopia, as regards our relationship with the USA :-(

10:

absolutely no satirical metaphor for the US government's capture by white supremacists here. Right?
Not quite yet, but it looks as though they are definitely headed that way>
The "Indie" ( yes, I know ) is suggesting that the chaos & infighting & deliberate shit-stirring ( as per Charlottesville ) is deliberate & trending towards a "stste of emergency" or a civil war, in which they can "legitimately" sieze the levers of power.
Not a single Reichstag fire, just lots of little ones, building up.

Noticeable is that even normally right-wing Repubs, like McCain are speaking out against this, but seem to be getting nowhere.
I think it's a race between TrumpBannon getting their "emergency" & Robt Mueller getting a Grand Jury verdict to Impeach.
Bets on first-to-finish-line?

Meanwhile Brexit is disentagrating - the "proposals" for the Irish border - one of the major-&-ignored sticking points the Brexiteers oh-so-carefully ignored - appear to be almost pure fantasy ( of the sort that would NOT sell a novel ) & sooner or later, reality will break through.
As long as it breaks through before March 2019 & we can retract At50, you know, I don't care ....

11:

Hmm. We saw in The Jennifer Morgue and again in The Apocalypse Codex that the Black Chamber really likes infiltration. Did they try it once too many?

12:

Should you really "e at Bosco Theatre"? With Ada there, I can only conclude it is made of gelato. :-)

"The Labyrinth Index" sounds great. Poor Mhari; well, poor all of us in both the book and out here.

13:

Since I'm here early enough (for a change) not to get buried by being the 150th comment, here's a question I've been wondering about.

Has there been any discussion about what is the nature/origin story of The Mandate? Am I asking for spoilers by bringing this up?

14:

Re: ' ... chaos & infighting & deliberate shit-stirring ...deliberate & trending towards a "stste of emergency" or a civil war, ... can "legitimately" sieze the levers of power.'

An alternate explanation is that the cloud of chaos distracts everyone from seeing what is being enacted and/or allowed to lapse. Strategic misdirection is part of historical SOP.

John Oliver should cover this - compare and contrast activity of most recent four Admins at all three levels: POTUS, Reps, Senate. Do the same for the UK because thanks to Brexit followed by May, there's similar chaos/spinning in circles.

15:

While I am eagerly awaiting "Ghost Engine" this change pleases me as when I finished "The Delirium Brief" all I wanted was more! The Laundry Files is reaching the stage where things are rushing forward and waiting for the next volume gets harder and harder.

16:

Oh, it comes up in depth in "The Labyrinth Index". Let's just leave it a surprise for now, eh?

17:

thanks to Brexit followed by May, there's similar chaos/spinning in circles.
Nah.
That's because they haven't a bleeding clue & the penny is fanally beginning to drop that ... as, err the many-named one, whose current initials are, fortuitously "BS" says: "They're fucked"

18:

Very well. I have some guesses, will be waiting for the reveal with bated breath.

Not really. I don't think I can hold my breath for a year. But I will be waiting.

19:

Cool. I wasn't expecting the fullness of that twist in "The Delirium Brief."

20:

No, not at all. THEY're jammy. WE're fucked :-(

21:

Condolences on your loss, Charlie. Congrats on pleasing your Laundry fans so thoroughly (I'm looking forward to the space opera myself!)

Given the fate of the last fascist dictator who believed that the United States was only good for manufacturing refrigrators and razor blades, I wouldn't be in such a hurry to write us off just yet. Media sells a lot of product by frightening people but most of its effect is to children and the aged. There are a lot of people over here who understand what fascism means and are not willing to allow its resurgence uncontested. As the saying goes, it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

22:

Mike
You are entirely correct.
But once a "strong leader" has even quasi-legitimate control over the levers of power & can order police & military to do stuff, then you are stuffed.
Or, you can have a civil war ...
Adolf was from the outside - he never got a majority of the German vote, but look at the damage he caused.

23:

The queue for Charlie's reading from Labyrinth Index at WorldCon75 was surprisingly short. Which is to say it only went round a couple of corners and we all fitted into the room, just.

Mhari's perspective is illuminating. Her developing problem seems to be that while she has an aptitude and taste for effective management, addressing issues so they don't become exciting, and she dislikes adventures, she's also really good at kicking arse and taking names. Sucks to be her, as they say.

24:

Happy to get new work from Charlie any time. And I am really interested to see what comes next in the L-verse in particular, as DB had more of a cliffhanger than the last one.

People in the US are allergic to the Nazi brand and for the vast majority of Americans, Trump has now been tied to that trademark in a way he was not before. (Before it was just a large minority who felt that way.) On the other hand, it is really easy to do a lot of nasty stuff without appearing to be a full fledged Nazi on TV. So I can see this as an opportunity for really awful people to separate themselves from Trump and continue their less visible work while receiving plaudits FOR NOT BEING NAZIS. That's really where we have arrived.

I think this will be a turning point for some folks and many will actually improve their stance on some race based issues. It may lead to a few good things. But see my second paragraph.

25:

Don't be so sure that the levers of power are indiscriminately connected to anything, Greg. We have a reputation for happily disrespecting the rules and rulers. Civil War is a possibility but I think it would be short and sharp and I don't think most of the police and armed forces would cooperate. At the least, I don't think as a nation that we would react to a coup as much of the rest of the world (and maybe Charlie's story) assume we would. Fundamentally we're still the same bunch of unruly b*stards we've always been.

26:

Still trying to figure out why I thought, until reading a post here, that Mhari was Asian/South Asian (in UK/US parlance). Maybe the name? In any case, I've been envisioning her incorrectly this whole time. Very interested to see things from her perspective, as I'm pretty confident that Bob, Mo, and Alex are all less than reliable narrators when it comes to describing her.

27:

Regarding the US, while there's definitely a portion of the US population and the Republican base that are actual Trump fans, there's also a sizable population who have backed him for strategic reasons, but actually loathe him. If he were in a private meeting with the Republican House and Senate leadership, and Trump started to have a heart attack, they'd all leap to call 911...once he'd stopped twitching. Replacing him with Pence would be ideal from their perspective. I'm not sure if that would, on balance, be better or worse for the country, since it would probably make passing very destructive policy easier, but on the other hand would reduce the chance of a nuclear exchange because the President got his feelings hurt.

28:

Colorado Springs: Charlie only destroyed Leeds once. He must think this town is the Withywindle of Nazgul influence.

29:

Re post 10 & 22: the US President can't order police to do anything - they're totally under local control, and I have grave doubts 90% of the mayors or police chiefs would comply.

Also, Mueller can't do anything about impeachment. He can come out with tons of criminal charges, which I expect, but the House has to impeach, then there's a trial in the Senate. I can easily see the Senate finding he should be removed from office (you've got McCain and a couple not-insane Republicans). The house is more problematical... but even that sleezy Ryan, Speaker of the House, has come out against what Trumpolini said in the press conference yesterday (Tuesday).

As has Angela Merkel. As has, and I was flabbergasted at this, your Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, I'm still reading China Mieville's October, and watching Kerensky failing and failing to hold his government together... and reading the news, and watching Trump do the same...except I think Kerensky actually cared about Russia.

Once again, my condolences on losing your father, Charlie.

And in the L-verse, I'm still hoping that something happens to the Mandate. I dunno, like given how much energy we use to think, and he's got to be using a *lot* more.... Does he get headaches a lot? And/or what seem like fevers with no cause? Let's see, in another Charlie-verse, the ultra-sized brains needed a cranial crest to get rid of the excess heat....

30:

Well, I definitely can't say this publishing reschedule makes me unhappy.
While wishing you all of the luck for Ghost Engine (which I'll make sure to have a look at as soon as it comes out), I really want more Laundry ASAP.
Or whatever is going to replace it, given what just happened to our favourite OCCINT agency.

31:

About The Mandate, he really is someone we'd like to know more about.
My basic issue with him is: given WHO he is supposed to be (an avatar of), shouldn't he be much more inclined to drive people insane and drown civilizations in chaos, rather than ruling with an iron fist?
But of course, what little we know of the BP mainly comes from HPL, which is a notoriously unreliable source... and understanding the goals and motives of such a being isn't exactly a straightforward task for mere humans.

32:

Re: '...the US President can't order police to do anything -...'

However the POTUS certainly can impact police via their budgets via Executive Orders as per this uber rt-wing site/rant.


Excerpt:

'Executive Order 13688 was issued in January 2015, effectively ending the federal support for the local equipment acquisition initiative known as the 1033 program. The executive order prohibited the use of tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, vessels and vehicles of any kind, firearms of .50 caliber or higher, ammunition, and grenade launchers.'

https://www.policeone.com/active-shooter/articles/191773006-How-Executive-Order-13688-jeopardizes-police-officer-safety/


Seriously? A middle-of-nowhere town, pop'n 2,000 should have its own weaponized aircraft?

33:

I'm glad Charlie's back, sad as the situation is, and before saying anything else I want to thank everybody for keeping the discussion going on the previous entry.

As for US politics, the three things to keep track of are:
--What's the number of active Republicans? The party seemed to be shrinking this spring here's 538's version, so the proportion of Republican voters who support the current President may be relevant only to those legislators who see their power base as entirely within the Republican party. Someone with a large block of conservative independents in his district may well find it more politic to tell the RNC to go engage in (simulated) self-copulation with itself.
--Pence has allegedly formed a 2020 election committee. I wonder if this is actually a 2018 anti-impeachment committee, since the efforts of the two organizations at this point (e.g. finding all the closet skeletons and dealing with them before they become public) are quite similar.
--There's this mythology of WWII as "the good war." While the American Civil War gets mythologized more by the South than by the North (and hence is divisive), a rather larger proportion of the US, including most of the military and the FBI (hell, even parts of the CIA), see WWII as America's finest hour. We're not quite so far away from WWII that we can openly embrace, not fascism, but Nazism--and get away with it. That's the mythological problem even white nationalists have to grapple with, that they want to be good patriots. The US military was very much an antifa organization in WW II, whatever it became later.

As for fascism, that's been the herpes of the American political establishment since the 1920s and 1930s, when we had "patriots" like Charles Lindbergh campaigning on Germany's behalf up until the US joined WW II. Afterwards, of course, we had everything from GLADIO to the CIA's other greatest hits, where we generally backed and protected right wing goons to combat the Soviets. A lot of Republican businessmen made a lot of money in that era (The Kochs made money with Stalin too), and I think the consequences of all that unprotected intercourse with militant goons is causing a serious outbreak of fascism right now. Hopefully it doesn't cause the equivalent of herpes encephalitis in US control structures, but it's close.

34:

Re: War is good for biz!

Ever read The Sovereign State (of IT&T)? Discussion of how IT&T worked both sides of the war. Other authors noted how some of the major US banks sat on its Board therefore must have known. (Perhaps if the Soviets had similar ties McCarthy wouldn't have had his moment in the spotlight.) Based on 20th century events, it's a toss-up as to which had the longer track record of 'dirty tricks' the CIA or ITT.

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

Geneen (ITT CEO) was a very interesting fellow -- had this thing about 'false facts'.


35:

I'll be very interested to see the fallout from Armstrong and Nyarlathotep's coup d'etat. I suspect a surprisingly high proportion of the Laundry's personnel are going to be perfectly happy working for Team Elder Gods, and those that aren't... well, Armstrong enslaves his underlings for a reason.

Things aren't looking good for CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN with both the US and the UK now thoroughly compromised. Among major geopolitical players who possess conventional as well as occult power, it looks like it's going to be up to the EU, China, Japan, Russia, the Deep Ones, and the developing world to save the day, (and maybe the Chthonians? Do DEEP SEVEN give a shit what happens above the mantle?) and they're gonna have to do it while containing the existing foothold that extradimensional horrors have gained.

I'd be very interested to know how the EU and Russian OCCINT agencies respond to this. I mean... if they're anything like the Laundry, they're allergic to public scrutiny and acting openly, but the logical response to what's happened in the UK is that they need to tell their political establishment that if they come into the physical presence of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, he'll try to enslave them, and that the UK needs to be regarded as a hostile power. How the hell do you sell that? What are the consequences for something like NATO now that the two most heavily armed members of it have gone to the dark side?

This is very much like a Delta Green game gone terribly sideways. ^.^;

If the situation is this bleak in the UK, one can only guess what Mhari is gonna find in the US. The Sleeper was one of the biggest boys on the block; something that drives him to send his most powerful earthly agent to bail from his home turf must be completely nutso.

36:

And to pile on.

While the President is the commander in chief in charge of US "regular" armed forces there are laws and decisions by the Supremes going back well over 100 years saying the military can't get involved in internal maters. And it's drilled hard into the officers through out their careers. And most agree strongly with it. I suspect that if DT told Mattis take a group from the 82nd and occupy part of Chicago or Washington DC he'd refuse. And if fired the next few dozen or so down the chain of command with do the same. And by then the cabinet would have invoked the article removing DT from duty.

National guard and reserve units make the explanation more complicated but there are similar blocks.

About the only law enforcement that he could order about somewhat directly are the US marshals and the FBI. The FBI is at arms length and would push back on anything like a coup and the marshals actually report to the judicial branch. Maybe the secret service but I'm fuzzy on that one.

Now if DT told Mattis to bomb Sicily, it would be legal (to some degree) under US law. I doubt he'd get very far before all hell broke loose in the Cabinet and Congress but a few bombs might fall.

37:

I remember seeing this as a kid. I grew up with this concept so deeply embedded in me that I forgot that it was a video until I saw it again the other day.

Post-WW2 Anti-Fascist Educational Film | Don't Be a Sucker | 1947
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K6-cEAJZlE

38:

Any chance of seeong elves and/or dragons in this next one? Rather fond of the idea of integrating them into combined arms teams but not if they're just going to be exterminated. They're entertaining...

39:

If they had any sense they would be off down the shadow roads as soon as they got the chance.

Not sure it would help though, as Charlies previous "what are the elder gods running from" and "singularity" comments suggest that CNG is everywhere in the multiverse at once.

40:

Watched that this afternoon, geek culture.com has it embedded on their home page, and "Joy of Tech" is also running an anti-NAZI theme.

41:

The series is looking more and more like a utopia, as regards our relationship with the USA :-(

Just be glad you're not having to watch the crash landing from this side of the big pond

42:

My condolences on your loss, Charlie.

On the book topic, I'm torn about this schedule change. IIRC, the space opera is intended as a Banks type of book, which I'd love to see. On the other hand, the Laundry books have been fascinating, speaking to many of my own personal reading tastes simultaneously. I suppose either way it's a win.

Is Dark State still scheduled for early 2018?

43:

I'm still wondering if the Laundry series will end with a manipulatory appendage held firmly down on the Laundryverse's power switch for five seconds, followed by a long session with antivirus and reloading of a backup version.

44:

Nazi Crys and Backpedals Upon Learning He Is To Be Arrested

Maybe off topic, but everyone enjoys Nazi tears! Cry Nazi! Weep like a Hitler-baby who just wet his nappies!

45:

"the US President can't order police to do anything"

I don't think that's the real problem.

"Black Lives Matter" protestors are largely complaining about a culture and set of attitudes. The president doesn't order cops to shoot more innocent people, he instead encourages an attitude of treating members of the public as dangerous threats, and encourages laws and regulations that are very forgiving of police who shoot first and ask questions later.

ICE agents are pretty clearly not following their dept's official policies now. They don't need an order telling them that the gloves are off and that over-reach will not be punished.

The president helps set that culture. Can't control it (no-one can), but does strongly influence it.

It's about moral leadership. What laws are enforced, or not. Who they are enforced on. When a cop decides that a citizen is a threat to be put down rather than a member of the public to be protected. Whether you chase up a rich lawyer for tax evasion with the same tenacity that you chase a poor single-mother for benefit fraud. It's all about moral perception, moral reflexes. And that is where Trump will have the most influence.

46:

Related to the Laundry series going off the reservation regards the "real" world's timeline: Scalzi wrote piece for the LA Times about how hard SF is to write these days because the future keeps on happening, and not how people expect.

http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-ca-jc-scalzi-future-is-now-20170816-story.html

And yet... in 30 years will Brexit really have changed the world in a major way? Or Trump? Somehow I doubt it.

I'm sure the Suez Crisis seemed immense at the time, and the Cuban Missile crisis surely did. But these days my kids haven't heard of either of them. Aren't the big, slow processes of history still just grinding on?

47:

Whitroth said "Let's see, in another Charlie-verse, the ultra-sized brains needed a cranial crest to get rid of the excess heat...."

That sounds more like Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space Universe to me.

48:

Don't think CNG is everywhere at once - a number of the books make reference to the L-verse passing through a weaker patch of space-time, plus the computational load of billions of thinking humans and machines.

49:

My impression of CNG was always that success was merely having a human race still in existaence at the end of it. Even having a modern civilisation sorta survive is merely a bonus.

It's possible CNG type events are the L-Verse's version of the Great Filter.

50:

Charlie, do we have your approval to turn this into a thread about recent American events? It makes poetic sense that a post about the Laundry series would turn in that direction --- now that I'm caught up --- but I'm not sure that's where you want this to go.

If you do, I have rather strong observations to bring to bear, as the father of two black American children and the very left-wing friend -- genuine friend -- of prominent white Republican operatives. (Miracle! It happens! The Republic is not lost!)

If not, let's shut it down now.

51:

.... and continue their less visible work while receiving plaudits FOR NOT BEING NAZIS.
Pence
A really good christian, for evil J Calvin values of christian, euw.

52:

When a cop decides that a citizen is a threat to be put down rather than a member of the public to be protected
Like a "white" AUS female who as called the cops for help, you mean?
Yeah

53:

Still trying to figure out why I thought, until reading a post here, that Mhari was Asian/South Asian (in UK/US parlance). Maybe the name?
Interesting; I'd been reading her as IC1, and pronouncing her name "Vari", under the presumption that she was Scots Gaelic.

54:

And yet... in 30 years will Brexit really have changed the world in a major way? Or Trump? Somehow I doubt it.

Disagree.

Suez was a huge inflection point on the fall of an imperial hegemon, marking the point beyond which the UK could no longer pretend to act without US backing; since 1956 the UK has been, in most respects, a US diplomatic satrapy. Boris Johnson in the UK Foreign Secretary's chair is a comedy fart joke coda to an office that once shook continents. Literally no-one takes the UK government's foreign policy seriously these days — not even Ireland.

This year's crisis of Brexit/Trump marks a very visible point of inflexion in the downward curve of influence exerted by the anglophone planetary empire. From controlling 50% of planetary GDP and 25% of its land area around 1860, the British Empire and then its Western Successor Empire has been in steady decline. The 50% of GDP fluctuated until around 1960, but since then has slumped to about 30% (and dropping rapidly). The land area/population share has dropped to, oh, less than 10% by population (even if you throw in such satellite members as Canada and Australia and NZ).

Trump's low-end base of supporters are howling rage at their own loss of relative status, both at home and in the world at large. (His high-end supporters are corporate donors who are desperate to cash in their chips in the carbon economy bubble before the bottom drops out of coal/oil. Or to keep the gas flowing through legislative act of god, although that's not gonna work in the brave new non-US-dominated world.) Their visibility is itself a symptom of the big story that will show up in the history books: the end of the American Century.

55:

Hmm ... as this was just an announcement thread with nothing substantial to discuss, yeah, you might as well repurpose it.

56:

Yes. Brexit is going to complete what Suez started, no matter how it falls out, and we shall become just another tinpot, bankrupt and corrupt near-dictatorship in short order - absent a miracle. It's not just the decay of the USA hegemony, either. The combination of Brexit and Trump is already changing the balance of power in Europe - though it's not so much Trump's actions as the way that he has let go of the leashes of the rabid dogs of war. Whether Germany and the saner countries are finally pissed off enough to join together, stand up for themselves, deal with countries like Poland and Hungary, and sort out the Euro, is unclear. At least the UK won't be sabotaging that from the inside. But, if they don't, the EU will fall, and that will change the world, not in a good way.

57:

Noting how well armed the open carry 'enthusiasts' were in Charlottesville, I'm inclined to think that a couple of APC, some SAWGs and a helicopter gunship are in order.

58:

Assuming Brexit actually happens.

Unlike the US, where, if Trump does go we/they get Pence (shudder )

59:

No. I said "no matter how it falls out", and meant it. I can't see any reasonable hope of Brexit being cancelled and the government lancing the abscesses on the body corporate that led to it in the first place, let alone dealing with the more structural problems. The only thing that cancelling it would do for the UK is to slow down the collapse of the economy, which would make it even less likely that we have a revolutionary government that actually considers the good of the country and addresses the real issues.

60:

"This year's crisis of Brexit/Trump marks a very visible point of inflexion in the downward curve of influence exerted by the anglophone planetary empire. "

Not sure we disagree all that much.

What do one means by point of inflexion.

Point at which it becomes visible that the frog is boiling?
Or point of a sudden raise in poor froggy's temperature?

Put differently:
Is an inflection point like the Suez Crisis or Trump where we notice that the great power is falling?
Or are they a Wyllie Coyote moment where the act of noticing that they are standing on air causes the plummet?

61:

I'd like to blame it on "memetic disease", influential folk with ideas that feel comfortable to them, don't contradict their prejudices, yet conceptually, have more in common with fertilizer than thought. Such as having seen a stupid person with **** physical characteristic, mentally flaccid folk might assume everyone with **** physical characteristic is stupid. Or that historical lessons may be ignored, because that was then. Or that a crap load of money justifies nearly anything, other examples may occur to you.

62:

I'd say more like the Wile E. Coyote moment.

63:

Definitely one of the president's powers, and Trump is the perfect abuser of that power.

64:

IBM also has an interesting history of working both sides. I highly recommend Edwin Black's book IBM and the Holocaust.

http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com

TLDR version: there's a paper trail showing IBM profited from the death camps.

Laundry hook: Assume this happened in the Laundry history as well, but make it computational necromancy (or something like that). So part of the Black Chamber's back history is using the same magical techniques as the Nazi necromancers, which about the same level of ethical concern.

65:

> It's possible CNG type events are the L-Verse's version of the Great Filter.

They are; this is explicitly stated in TNS. Once a civilization reaches a CN* event, it tends to go extinct.
See the Alfär world as an example: too much use of magic, (almost) everyone died messily and all that is left is the wreckage of a once-flourishing world.

66:

I know all this, but OGH has suggested on more than one occasion that what we think of as the elder gods are trying to get away from something bigger and nastier.

67:

Interesting; I'd been reading her as IC1, and pronouncing her name "Vari", under the presumption that she was Scots Gaelic.

I was about to go on about how I pronounce it like Mari, but decided to go to Wikipedia instead.
Mhairi
Not sure that clears things up.

68:

Meanwhile, WRT Presidential powers concerning the launching of Nukes:
Cokie Roberts Answers Your Questions About Nuclear Protocols from NPR yesterday morning.

TL;DR: The Rump can launch them whenever he wants without congressional oversight, and no one can stop him without it possibly being considered treason.

69:

Well it sort of doesn't but then Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a pure source of etymological and thesaurus information.

I understand enough Gaelic to know that there are variant pronunciations and/or (mis)spellings of a lot of words. Mhari isn't the usually preferred spelling, Mhairi is so they got that right.

What they totally failed to discuss is that "mh" always pronounces "v" because there is no actual letter "V" in Gaelic, and the mh phoneme is used to represent V in the written language.

70:

So part of the Black Chamber's back history is using the same magical techniques as the Nazi necromancers

...if not the actual necromancers themselves. See Operation Paperclip, Alsos, Backfire, Surgeon, Osoaviakhim, Gehlen Organisation, etc, etc.

It was the US 3rd Armored Division that seized the Wewelsburg in 1945; although it ended up in the British Zone of Occupation. Did all the Nazi wizards end up on a frozen planet trying to jumpstart Kettenkrads, or did some survive to be captured?

71:

What they totally failed to discuss is that "mh" always pronounces "v" because there is no actual letter "V" in Gaelic, and the mh phoneme is used to represent V in the written language.

This is interesting! For some reason, when first encountered, I imagined Mhari as a black person, perhaps from Jamaica. I'm not sure why. I don't have that much contact with the culture of the British Isles, so Gaelic mostly is unknown to me. (I tried to learn some Irish years ago.)

72:

Trace back the comment chain, and that's the same character been read 3 ways, and with as many different ethnic origins.

73:

A slight nitpick.

When you add Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland, the Anglosphere is approximately 38% of Global GDP.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)

This brings up an interesting question for the future. Right now, what was thought of as the "West" + "the Eastern Block" in the 1950s consist of approx. 63 percent of global GDP. I wonder what the inflection point will be when that number falls below 50 percent? Perhaps the inflection point will only be noticed when it falls below 40 percent?

74:

Re: 'Edwin Black's book IBM and the Holocaust'

Thanks for the recommendation! Looks interesting. Will add it to the to-read list.

One hopes lessons have been learned as history has a way of catching up with people.

75:

Re: 'point of inflexion in the downward curve of influence exerted by the anglophone planetary empire'

Where does balance of power come in from in the near future because BOP is also part of this historical dogma and/or rationale for having super power states emerge?

And -- do we really need three or four mega powers constantly trying to outdo themselves just so that they can be king of the sand pile? There's quite a bit of data showing that smaller countries are doing a much better job of self-gov't across a range of factors.


Maybe this belief that 'bigger is better, so biggest must mean best' is why pol leadership has a tendency to attract narcissistic, egomaniacal bullies. Rather than focus on the neato toys and being the center of hordes of fawning brown-nosers the job description instead only read 'Gov't leader must do super boring stuff like learn how their economy actual works - by industry and region, what types of people make up their population - and each group's key concerns, etc. all day every day with no vacations', we'd get better gov't leaders. Of course this also means that voters would also learn more about what the head-of-gov't job actually is too.

76:
can order police & military to do stuff

One point that came up in this history of the camp apparatus under the Nazis: the police will be the natural allies of the strongman, at least at first, and will spontaneously help out with the first waves of illegal arrests. After all, the cops always have a little list of people they'd like to get off the street, if only they were allowed to...

77:

That's concerned a lot of us for years.

On the other hand, the cops in Charlettesville were out-gunned and out-armored by the fascists. Maybe they need the armed aircraft to take them out....

And the rest of the time... I've always gotten nervous when I'm driving along, and I see a sign proclaiming "speed enforced by aircraft", and wonder where the pock-marks are in the road.

78:

Meanwhile, Texas has passed a law saying that women nust get separate "health insurance" for abortions, even if victims of rape or incest - how nice.
Link: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-texas-abortion-idUSKCN1AV2F4

79:

*snicker* Appropriate movie, from the sixties: The President's Analyst. Yes, it really *is* all a plot by TPC....

80:

The name is more correctly spelled Mairi, which becomes Mhairi in some grammatical contexts, e.g the vocative case (*). As stated, the mh combination is a 'v' sound. As it is still the case that more people speak Scottish Gaelic than write it, spelling names is a tad variable.
(*) As a matter of interest, a similar construct transforms Seamus to Hamish.

81:

Thank you. Thank you *very* much.

I'm forwarding the link to that film to everyone.

Btw, the line "the Master Race, beaten by a mongrel race" is straight from Norman Corwin's "On A Note Of Triumph" Go find that and listen to it... that was commissioned by CBS (and partly, I think, the US government), and was broadcast two weeks after "Just a few blocks from here, a couple of weeks ago, the dirty rat shot himself."

Thank you so very much.

82:

Quite possible. I still think the biology works. And if he's radiating the excess heat into another dimansion, some of it's going to leak in this one... meaning he's going to stand out in IR.....

83:

I am loath to say anything good about Theresa May, but during her time in the Home Office they hatched a plan to raise the education bar for police officers in the UK to graduate-entry (with an optional track for trainee with day-release to do a part-time degree). While the creeping spread of credentialism in our society isn't good, police here do spend more time on social welfare related issues (mental health in the community, domestic arguments, delinquent kids) and the old model of recruiting undereducated former soldiers has very bad outcomes — us-vs-them mind set and an adversarial attitude to "civilians", groupthink, normalization of deviance with respect to following procedures, and so on.

I note that even before the degree-entry requirement came in, policing in the UK required a two year probationary and training period. Whereas in the USA, the average duration of training is something like ten weeks, and some applicants have lost appeals against being rejected for a job on grounds of being over-qualified for possessing a degree. It seems to be seen as a sinecure for working class authoritarian types who a rigidly structured framework to work within — and as a playground for narcissistic thugs who can get along with that and enjoy the privileges of a gun and a badge.

If policing is 80% uniformed social workers/incident first responders and about 20% dealing with actual crime, then a recruitment process that tries to hire authoritarians to point guns at the public is the wrong way to do it.

84:

There's an old book - I'm not at home, and I've got a lot of books, so I don't remember title or author, but the plot is an alliance of alien races mount a gigantic military expedition, to find out what happened to their elder race that helped so many of them: humans. And they finally contact us... we've now gone beyond, and God (tm), remember Him? He started all this in motion, but couldn't pay more attention. Because... humanity is in His dimension, and we're his first ally against what *He* is fighting....

85:

When you add Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland

Shades of the Cambridge Guided Busway publicity. When it was first proposed there were five local bus companies intending to operate services, by the time construction got underway three of them had been taken over by the other two. Someone had obviously got fed up with changing the list and resorted to blind search and replace because the final list of operators was given as "Whippet, Stagecoach and Whippet".

86:

Is it actually a "v", as in victory, and not more, um, not sure of the word, labial? Not more like vh or bh?

87:

re: President's Analyst

Looks interesting, unfortunately not available on Netflix.

88:

Re: '...recruiting undereducated former soldiers..'

Think that this movement toward adding a humanitarian element is a trend in both military and police as per article below. Read some time back that military forces are increasingly being called to help in natural disasters. This assistance is more than just lending some muscle and equipment and extends to helping locate, transport and look after/triage disaster victims. Could even be that this shift toward humanitarianism started with the military and is only now showing up in civilian police forces.

http://odihpn.org/magazine/military-responses-to-natural-disasters-last-resort-or-inevitable-trend/

Excerpt:

'This article is part of an ongoing research project conducted by the British Red Cross to examine civil–military relations in natural disasters, with specific reference to the experiences of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.'

Of the impression that the military (primarily reservists) were shown to be more reliable/trustworthy than local police during Hurricane Katrina.

https://www.army.mil/article/45029/The_Army_response_to_Hurricane_Katrina


So, if the newly recruited into metro police former soldiers went through this type of humanitarian training/indoctrination, they may actually be safer to have around in a crisis.

89:

I should probably add (especially before Martin chimes in!) that the "recruiting undereducated former soldiers" thing is how police in the UK were traditionally recruited, back before the 1980s — in other words, a very long time ago (in career terms). It offered a familiar-ish career track and working environment to ex-enlisted military from the early Victorian period onward. Creeping professionalization and huge scandals over professional standards (and fitting up of suspects) began to break down this system during the Thatcher era and it accelerated thereafter.

90:

Is it actually a "v", as in victory, and not more, um, not sure of the word, labial? Not more like vh or bh?

"Bilabial voiced" may be the term you're seeking. Like Spanish v and b (which sound exactly alike).

91:

While we're all waiting for Martin to chime in, I'd add that two things are going on here, both influenced by contact with reality.

One is what I referred to in my book as the Four Horsemen metaphor (war, famine, disease, death). What people have found is that all four of these invariably show up together. It doesn't matter whether the initial cause is violence, crop loss, or an epidemic, inevitably the resulting breakdown in civil order means that the other two will almost certainly show up, and a lot of people will die, but not due to the original cause.

The result of this experience is the realization that you can't just send in food aid and medical relief, you've also got to send in armed forces to keep the other two safe. In other words, you've got to provide a simulacrum of the important part of a functioning government until the government is functioning again, or a lot of people are going to die.

The second trend is the idea of continuum of force, or rather, a continuum of coercion. We used to think that military=guns and politicians=mouths, but when you're trying to make things happen, there's a whole spectrum of coercion, from normal politics to nonviolent conflict to melee weapons to fire arms to artillery to nuclear war (it's actually more multidimensional than that, but this is a blog, not a thesis). Different forces work on different parts of the spectrum. For instance, cops normally deal with non-violent conflict and can escalate up to light firearms (although people keep giving them tanks on the cheap), but cops stay out of politics and try to stay out of big firefights. Different parts of the military take different parts of the spectrum. The US Marines, who tend to a lot of humanitarian missions, tend to take the melee and firearms end of the spectrum, because that's normally what is needed, and the military keeps working on getting better at non-violent conflict, whether it's cyberwar, psyops, or hearts-and-minds missions.

And I guess this is the third point of two: one of the things we're realizing is that it's not always the case that nukes always win, or artillery always wins, or firearms always wins, or politics always wins. EACH OF THESE IS A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIGHT. Non-violent conflict is quite effective at beating firearms under particular conditions, and the only effective argument for the use of nukes

So I'd say the point here isn't that the militaries are getting more humane. It's rather more that they desperately need to be able to do peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, where a certain kind of conflict is expected. They've also been beaten enough by non-violent actors that they're realizing that they need to be effective in that realm, random gods help us.

The other point is that, just because Trump holds control over the US nukes, it doesn't mean automatically that he holds the rest of the US (and the world) hostage to his threats to use them if we don't knuckle under. We've all realized that, just because a you can win one kind of conflict, it doesn't mean you can win them all, and that's what makes things so very interesting now.

92:

Originally intended this as a response further up, but it also fits into what you've brought up re: increasingly visible military and police and what this means.


Re: Military coups

Bolivia holds the world record for military coups in the modern age: over 150 in the past 100 years or so. (So many that the CIA World Factbook has given up on listing them.) Bolivia also has both a large army and fairly large and completely centralized civilian police force (commanded by the head of state) with one group (military or police) reinforcing the other depending on circumstances. Military service is more or less compulsory.

However, death rates during the coups are actually not that high (less than 100, usu. about 20-30 per coup) and mostly military. Death rates after coups tend to go up esp. whenever an authoritarian general becomes president and can extend to civilians. (BTW, what these nasty authoritarians also tend to do is shut down the universities/stop research ... sound familiar, anyone?)

Despite this craziness, Bolivia's annual death rate/life expectancy is better/lower than some European countries as well as the US. What this turmoil mostly results in is low/lagging education, very unequal distribution of access to social programs, income inequality, etc.


Go figure ...

93:
It seems to be seen as a sinecure for working class authoritarian types who a rigidly structured framework to work within — and as a playground for narcissistic thugs who can get along with that and enjoy the privileges of a gun and a badge.

As a US person I can confirm that this is a fair diagnosis of some of the pathologies of our criminal justice system. To which you can add practical immunity (for the thugs) to sanctions for wrongdoing, at least when the victims are not sympathetic.

94:

(especially before Martin chimes in!) that the "recruiting undereducated former soldiers" thing is how police in the UK were traditionally recruited, back before the 1980s...

:) How could I resist, with an intro like that :)

It's worth pointing out that for nearly a century before the 1980s, most young men would have done some form of military service; "recruiting former soldiers" is almost a given.

And if you go back another century before that to the start of modern policing (i.e. post-Napoleonic War), the Army spent most of its time as a Imperial Gendarmerie rather than as a mass field force (this is why the Crimea and the Boer War were such unpleasant surprises; some of the jokes in "Blackadder Goes Forth" about sharpened fruit are a bit close to the bone - the real armed force lay in the Royal Navy).

So, recruiting former soldiers wasn't as surprising as you might think, or necessarily a bad idea... where it went horribly wrong, was in Ireland. Both the RIC Auxiliaries (the "Black and Tans") and the RUC Reserves (the "B Specials") were recruited from former soldiers who had fought in a particularly brutal world war, rather than in Colonial police actions.

95:

I always saw "Mhari" as a form of "M Hari" as in "Mata Hari".

wiki - Mata Hari

96:

whitroth @81:

For decades, I would have dreams based on the story. I'd be the old man in the black suit with the cane. It was only when I saw the video the other day that I remembered where that image came from.

97:

Non-violent conflict is quite effective at beating firearms under particular conditions, and the only effective argument for the use of nukes

Hurrying as usual. Sigh.

Not that anyone cares, but the only successful justification for the actual use of nukes in Japan was that the alternative of a conventional forces invasion of Japan would have caused far more deaths on both sides. While this glosses over the political calculus that Japan was desperately hoping that the US would chicken out of the bloodbath and sue for peace rather than lose millions of soldiers, I think there's good documentary evidence from Truman to at least early-days Reagan (and thence to Obama) that US Presidents saw the US nuclear force as a deterrent to be perhaps used after a first strike. While the nuclear power of the US President has built this imperial presidency/Stockholm Syndrome thing that we have in Washington, it certainly hasn't stopped every other type of force from being used at some scale. The only kind of force a nuclear weapon stops is a fight where the outcome would be worse without using nukes. Hard to have one of those these days.

98:

Interestingly apparently one of the meanings of the name in Gaelic is bitter.

Poor Bob doomed from the start.

99:

& Rb2 @80

What they totally failed to discuss is that "mh" always pronounces "v" because there is no actual letter "V" in Gaelic, and the mh phoneme is used to represent V in the written language.

What I was going to originally say was that I thought from my little bit of learning Scots Gaelic a decade ago*, was that Mh only made a V sound in the middle of a word, and was M at the beginning. I wasn't sure of that so went to look it up.

*Didn't get far. What tripped me up was the counting—in base 8, iirc? Did they leave out thumbs when counting on their fingers?

100:

That link is really not doing what you think it's doing.

The amount of uncritical thought on links is something you need to look at.

Suggest you all look up the massive shift by Google, PayPal et al to dump this kind of content. It's a large and well orchestrated (even the Russia Government got to play the good guys vrs Stormfront, and had enough political chips to then slate the Ukraine for harboring notorious Nazi Weev)

Pro-tip: Trump isn't nearly Machiavellian enough (thus the whole "some good folks" - this is not a moral failure, it's the last vestiges of his actual conscience: you're all totally not getting what's going on), but this has been Bannon's plan all along. grep (or grep not) Bannon stating that the 'Alt-Right' would be dumped, burnt, sacrificed and so forth.

Black Skies: Emergency All-sector Response Transnational Hazard Exercise, 23rd August 2017 EIS, 2017

Now, you could ask a friendly Higher Order Power to give you a X-class flare[1], or shake-n-bake it up so that a nuclear EMP was possible[2] or you could go with the old 'militant right wing shoot transformers' plan[3].

There's a couple more, but hey-ho, what-ever gets the crisis going. This party, well: it's only just getting started.


[1] AR2671 SpaceWeather
[2] Newsweek Exclusive: North Korean Missile Claims Are ‘a Hoax’ Newsweek, 8th August, 2017
[3] Metcalf sniper attack

This really is reality: The FBI set up a mentally ill young man, got him to join the III% para-military group (those are the ones with the weapons in the pictures) and then ran with one of their (in)famous 'FEAR THE THREAT' terror plots where they provided all the cash, the (fake - lucky one! not like that huge mistake in NY that time, phew!) bomb, the van, the plans, the motivation and er... well: Since he's mentally ill, also the agency (c.f. diminished responsibility).

All just in time for Charlottesville!

No, really.

This is reality.

The Latest: Group says bomb plot suspect no longer a member Star Tribune, 14th August, 2017


p.s.

Loki got bored, it was decided to go with something really fun. Hope you like Unicorns! (Whatareyasayingyaatethemall?!)

101:

It's actually not him crying (playing fake tears is a well known trope in the YouTube zone), it's being used as a beacon / honey-trap and loads of other dodgy fingers all over it. Probably also a count-down if the more loony side of things are to be believed.

I would avoid it, if you know what I mean.

I'll give you 10-1 odds he turns out to be an FBI informant though.

102:

If you want to share a 'Nazi' themed video, a positive one, and one that shows that 63 million kids were not radicalized, the WSJ attack plan was old-Minded and the world is still a sane place:

PewDiePie Says He Will Stop Making Nazi Jokes Because Of Charlottesville WeTheUnicorns, 17th August, 2017

Huge viral spread, everywhere. Mogwai still Mogwai, not all rampant Gremlins.


Who knew?

103:

Noting how well armed the open carry 'enthusiasts' were in Charlottesville, I'm inclined to think that a couple of APC, some SAWGs and a helicopter gunship are in order.

Why?

The police have traditionally been quite deferential dealing with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other fascist types.

The anti-fascists aren't that well armed. The cops already have all they need to bust heads when the people whose heads are being busted don't have the wherewithal to fight back.

104:

They are; this is explicitly stated in TNS. Once a civilization reaches a CN* event, it tends to go extinct.
See the Alfär world as an example: too much use of magic, (almost) everyone died messily and all that is left is the wreckage of a once-flourishing world.

But that didn't happen just because magic existed. It happened because someone USED magic to call in some powerful entity to gain advantage in war & it turned around and bit them in the ass. Same as happened in the alternate Nazi world of The Atrocity Archive.

They brought in the frost giants to conquer their enemies, but once they won they couldn't send them back & the frost giants (or giant) turned on them.

That's why the world of the Laundry has treaties that supersede cold war rivalries. They're trying avoid making the same mistakes the Alfär and the Alternate-Nazis. That's why they have so many cooperating national agencies dedicated to the suppression of magical discoveries.

Looks like the "coup" inside the Nazgul has thrown a monkey wrench into the works and the Laundry's board is scrambling to find the least evil way to mitigate the disaster - an alliance with one of the lesser Elder Gods as a defense against the greater ones.

105:

Two thoughts...

The first is that it appears to be an unquestioning feature of US fiction that once things get a bit tight, the breakdown of civilisation is imminent and inevitable. Chaos looms, nations are in shock, etc, etc. However, that isn't generally the case - mostly, people cooperate. They throw open their doors locally, they feed / shelter strangers. After the 7/7 or Manchester bombings, Fox News appeared determined to play the "UK in fear" line, even though the evidence didn't support it (how can media channels that delight in spreading fear, and distrust/hatred of "the other" resist?).

The second is your assertion that militaries are often defeated by non-violent actors. Not sure about that one, as most insurgencies have involved violence (sometimes extreme violence) from actors who had sufficient support and consent among the population as to continue operating. Rule 1 appears to be that political problems don't have military solutions, and Leaders forget that at their peril.

106:

The police have traditionally been quite deferential dealing with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other fascist types

Given that this is a UK blog, should you perhaps clarify that with "The US Police have traditionally..."? Not that many Neo-Nazis around here, and those that exist find themselves fairly heavily policed.

107:

"From controlling 50% of planetary GDP and 25% of its land area around 1860, the British Empire and then its Western Successor Empire has been in steady decline."

Sorry, but I call bullshit.

Fall in relative GDP does NOT show actual decline in GDP (ours has never been higher).

It's the logical, inevitable and desirable outcome of China and India achieving first world economic status.

In the future, Africa's economy will also grow rapidly, using modern tech to leap frog the need for extensive and expensive communication, transportation and energy infrastructure.

That too will result in a relative decline in America's percentage of overall world GDP.

And that's a good thing.

If anything, America is the only major power with healthy demographics. By mid century there will be 50 million fewer Russians and 30 million fewer Japanese. China is about to become the world's largest old age homes.

108:

Of the impression that the military (primarily reservists) were shown to be more reliable/trustworthy than local police during Hurricane Katrina.

https://www.army.mil/article/45029/The_Army_response_to_Hurricane_Katrina

Except that is mostly self-serving clap-trap to shuck responsibility for how badly the Bush Administration screwed the pooch after Katrina

Disaster response has been primarily a National Guard function since the early 20th century. When Katrina happened, the bulk of the Louisana National Guard was deployed to Iraq & the Bush Administration tried to substitute military "contractors" like Blackwater who had no ties to the region. They viewed the residents of New Orleans the same way they viewed the residents of Fallujah.

109:

I always saw "Mhari" as a form of "M Hari" as in "Mata Hari".

wiki - Mata Hari

I've been pronouncing it in my head as "M are y" - Marey.

110:

Personally, I agree with you about disaster response, and I also agree that most SFF is either right-wing disaster porn or left-wing back-to-the-land porn, with very little in the more realistic center.

The problem with disasters isn't how individual or even groups respond, it's that groups in crisis are more vulnerable to being taken over by would-be dictators. IIRC it's fairly common to induce a crisis in anything from a business to a country as a prelude to taking it over. That's not quite the same as what happens after an earthquake or a plague, when citizens mobilize. Unfortunately, enough people know about the "crisis capitalism" of taking over crisis-ridden groups that we really have to watch out for that and develop counters.

The one study of the effectiveness of non-violence vs. violence I know of is Chenoweth and Stephan's Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict. They assembled a database of 323 conflicts between 1900 and 2003, classified them as nonviolent or violent, and found that the nonviolent movements were roughly twice as effective at achieving or partially achieving their goals as the violent ones. Note that this is about 50% to about 25%, so you're not guaranteed to win either way. There are all sorts of caveats and complexities, but the big thing to realize is that almost everyone can participate in nonviolent resistance, including kids and grandparents. Violence takes physical skill and training (as well as a willingness to hurt others), so that the pool of potential actors is much smaller. The big thing is that if you can organize a large group of people to nonviolently resist, it's hard for the armed government to attack them, both morally (will the soldier shoot his grandmother?) and economically (they're destroying their economic base by doing so).

The great counterexample is the Syrian civil war, where the regime decided early on (reportedly before the protests even started) that its survival required violent suppression of all organized protest. Couple that with a nonviolent movement that never got organized and a country that needed to shed people due to its loss of water, and the result was a bloody mess. Nonviolence isn't a magic wand, and it absolutely requires the same level of leadership and organizational talent as a violent conflict. Nonetheless, it is apparently much more effective than most of us believe, at least here in the US.*

That's why I'm starting to cheer on right wing nutjobs with their stupid open carry protests and bleating about the 2nd Amendment. While they can make people angry and anxious, they can't recruit followers if they look like bullies wearing bullet magnets. Furthermore, if they insist that guns are the only thing with which to resist government takeover, they make themselves that much less effective.

*Also notice the bias in reporting: if a violent insurrection fails, it's because they were evil thugs who didn't know what they were doing. If a nonviolent insurrection fails, it's because they were unworldly idiots who trusted a method that didn't work. It's even more ironic when the people espousing violence worship a person who was basically a nonviolence organizer, and not a terribly effective one at that. While he might have gotten crucified, his followers figured out how to nonviolently mess with the Roman empire very effectively, at least until they got into positions of power.

111:

Good point. I was assuming that the original Nazi necromancers would be dead by now of old age, but that's not a given is it?

112:

One hopes lessons have been learned as history has a way of catching up with people.

Wouldn't bet on it. Or rather, given that most people don't know about it, I'd bet that the lesson learned is "you can get away with shit like that".

You might also find Black's book War Against the Weak interesting, for horrifying values of interesting.

http://www.waragainsttheweak.com

113:

Given that this is a UK blog, should you perhaps clarify that with "The US Police have traditionally..."? Not that many Neo-Nazis around here, and those that exist find themselves fairly heavily policed.

Since I was responding to a comment about the events in Charlottesville, VA, USA, I would expect most people to understand I was referring to the actions of the police in the USA; more specifically Charlottesville, VA, USA.

114:

Can't say I'm surprised to read Mhari will be working for the new management; conjecturally- if the Mandate/New Management haven't told her to go seek her blood the old-fashioned way, then they're in charge of her bloodflow.

115:

In regards to the Civil War statues, I’m going to suggest something controversial. I think that white Dixie is a separate nation for all things considered. This is the same way that Catalonia is in Spain, and Scotland is in the UK. How long did it take for the Scottish to stop talking about William Wallace? Catalonia’s flag is based on a story from the failed 17th century rebellion.

For better or worse, a lot of white southerners see themselves as a separate nation. The thing is, I grew up in the South. I have seen people either whose parents moved there or who moved there very young. A lot of them adopted Confederate nationalism. To be fair, all of them were white.

So I have to ask, if white Confederates see themselves as a separate nation, what do we do about it? I realize that demographics are changing, but

1. They’re not changing in all states. Right now, it’s FL, GA, TX, NC, SC, and VA. That still leaves LA, MS, AL, TN, AK, MS, and KY

2. There’s a possibility that Confederate nationalism may be spreading in the plain states?

116:

Watch the video I linked to above. "Don't be a Sucker."

Ever since I was a little kid, I saw the world was filled with "Con Men" and "Believers". This was pre-school so I didn't have those words, but looking up at all the adults talking around me I knew someone was lying, and someone was buying it. People talk around kids, and don't realize that some of us were paying attention even then.

My viewpoint has made it hard to watch the News over the years. I can see that everybody is lying, spinning, to sell their agenda, their product. It has gotten worse over time. I won't go into my usual rant about The RAND corporation manipulating consensus, in plain sight; nobody listens.

The only way to fight the BS of race, etc..., are real jobs, with people being paid a real salary. Bring back manufacturing to the US, paying middle class wages, with the chance for kids to have a future, and the BS goes away.

What drives every "ism" is poverty and fear of the Zero-Sum Game. You have to "take yours" and keep the others from taking from you.

I've mentioned in other threads, that there is a huge grey market economy with people living in a cash, under the table, society, where the "Rule of Law" does not apply. Thus the poverty, the fear, the Zero-Sum Game.

- People with real jobs, putting their kids through school, don't have time for this BS. Would not put that real life at risk by spewing hate.

- Take a high paying job from somebody, and you have radicalized them.

Watch this Charlie Rose episode carefully, they are creating a lie.

Race and Terror
https://charlierose.com/videos/30892

- The girl does not actually wear glasses, they are not prescription. Actual glasses would fit clean, not slide down her nose. It is both a disguise and a distraction to lull people into thinking that she is safe.

- The people they are covering are playing roles. Watch how they look at the camera when they are marching and chanting. This is a deliberate event staged to disrupt, get attention from the press.

- These people creating the documentary are not reporting the news, they are spinning events for ratings. The one guy said clearly that they embed people, are "immersive". That is the quickest way to manufacture the response they want. You can't watch without reacting the way they want.

Notice how Charlie Rose has bought into their lie. Scary as hell.

Remember, the same people who voted for Obama twice, voted for Trump. All this is trying to paint those Trump voters with the same brush, and it will backfire. This is intentional. The concept of "divide and conquer" is ancient, and effective.

The video "Don't be a Sucker" applies to watching the BS from all sides.

117:

The other counterexample is, of course, since you mention Syria - Russia.
Putin stamps VERY HARD on all protest, even if (particulalrly if? ) non-violent, coupled, of course with selective assasination murders

118:

Remember, the same people who voted for Obama twice, voted for Trump.
REALLY?
I think not.
I think a lot of Obama-voters abstained from voting for Hilary & a lot of rednecks who didn't vote against Obama came ot this time - plus just a little rigging of the voter-registration is some states, of course.

119:

A modified repeat from another thread, concerning DT/Bannon's tactics:

Trump & many of his people inherently believe that all “gummint” is bad, so they are doing their best to remove or sideline it, no matter what the consequences.
And this is what we are seeing happen, is it not?
If/when they do need competent government from a coherent team, it will, of course all fall apart & then they will remove even more, because they will claim that even the “gummint” they have is useless, so they might as well scrap that, too (!)
Until they get anarchy, followed by a corrupt warlord-style takeover [ Note ] - slight problem here: The US Constitution, provided there is anyone left to enforce it?

[ Note: Followed by a state of emergency, suspending the constitution, "temporarily" ?? ]

120:

"Unite the Right" has the had the unintended (or intended? per Bean Sidhe?) consequence of tying "Confederate History buff" to "German memorabilia enthusiast" in the mainstream consciousness. Once the American public makes that collective connection, you will see an acceleration of the already existing trend to move away from monuments to the Great Cause.

Racism is going to be less of a "Southern thing." More people outside the South will adopt it publicly and fewer Southern racists will see a sharp cultural divide from the North. Up to a few years ago my ethnic and religious background would have disqualified me from True Whiteness. Now I hear I might be marginally acceptable. Yeah!?!??

When did the KKK have a foothold in the Midwest? The 1920s and 1930s. I can see white power/anxiety groups gaining in absolute numbers or gaining more intensity in investment from people who were formerly just "sympathetic." I can also see most Americans becoming more concerned and more hostile to the Right even as their numbers grow.

It's not going to be pretty. But it may create some strange and perhaps wonderful bedfellows. How it shakes out is going to depend on all sorts of not quite knowable factors.

121:

Do you have numbers here? I got the impression that a lot of people in the Rust Belt turned to Obama for "change" and when that did not happened they looked for the next thing the appeared truly different.

So it was a factor along with the other things you cited. How much does each factor weigh? We'll probably never know for sure because even the participants couldn't give you a completely honest or well thought out answer.

122:

And, indeed, read Gaelic (at least a bit) than speak or write it. It can be difficult to avoid learning to read it a bit (and maybe pronounce stuff a bit) when you're dealing with place names.

123:

Well, my argument is based partly on contacts (plural) with actual women named "Mhairi" or "Mhari", and living in an at least nominally Gaelic speaking part of Scotland (which means that pretty much everyone is at least bilingual, and if you'll give me English and Scots as different languages (different vocabularies, syntax and grammar) a significant number speak 4 or more languages at some level).

124:

"North Korean Missile Claims Are ‘a Hoax’" Interesting. I have been saying that is probably the case, based on the sort of 'evidence' put forward to support the claims, but it's nice to see it confirmed. It is very like the Soviet threat to the USA - both sides had an interest in supporting the myth.

125:

You're missing the point. At its peak, a word of advice from the British agent to most of the world was tantamount to an order, even to most nominally independent countries; the same thing has been (and, to a great extent, still is) for the USA in its hegemony. There are signs that some countries are shaking that off, just as the satellite states did in the final decades of the Soviet Union. Not, unfortunately, including the UK :-(

Even some it the USA's recently conquered vassal states, like Iraq, are becoming uppity - which, given that Iraq handed over control of most of its oil to the USA at gunpoint, and that the USA is supporting the viciously anti-Shia pogrom of Saudi Arabia and Al Quaeda, isn't all that surprising. The Iraqis know what will happen to them if those win. No, Iran isn't interested in taking over Iraq - it's solely interested in allies against those organisations, which are determined to destroy it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/opinion/iran-iraq-politics.html?mcubz=3

126:

I think not.

To be honest it doesn't mater what you think. People have dug deep into the numbers and this was a non trivial factor in DT's win. Not a deciding factor. There were none of those. But one of the contributing factors.

127:

Note: Followed by a state of emergency, suspending the constitution, "temporarily" ??

I see something like this here on AP periodically. Not sure where this comes from except it seems to flow from the other side of the big pond.

There is NO mechanism to suspend the constitution. None. Zip. Nada.

If DT tries to go that far off the reservation he'd have the House voting impeachment so fast people would wonder who those people are. Then the Senate would likely impanel a trial within the day or as soon as the could get a quorum.

And the cabinet could also act here fairly quickly. Now maybe DT could fire his entire cabinet or most of them but still I doubt there is 1 much less a majority that would go along with him. Firing the cabinet has issues in that only people already approved by the Senate for other high level posts could slide into the slots. That's a small set of alternatives who could step in.

And as I mentioned in another post the military would likely push back hard if ordered to operate within the borders. Very hard. And the FBI and marshal service isn't directly under his orders.

128:

"Catalonia’s flag is based on a story from the failed 17th century rebellion..."

Not really, the story is far, far older than that. It would have have some Carolingian king, Charles the Bald or Louis the Pious most probably, awarding a coat of arms to Guifred the Hairy, the wounded count of Barcelona, by taking a yellow shield and painting four red stripes on it with the count's own blood. It was certainly the coat of arms and flag of the Kings of Aragon during the Middle Ages, could perfectly be more than 1,000 years old.

Actually it's a bit misleading to call it the flag of Catalonia. The catalonian version is the simplest and purest, but the 'four striped' is also the flag of Aragon, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, and it's present in a lot of province and city flags and coats of arms all over Sicily, Sardinia, Naples and even Mediterranean France (there was a time around 1150-1200 when Aragon was the dominant power in Languedoc).

But returning to your question when some group start claiming they are a nation - which incidentally is the politically correct way of saying 'we aren't going to respect democracy nor the rule of law', both in Dixieland and Catalonia - what they mean is they think their status is being eroded and want to stop or turn back the clock by excluding external influences. I don't claim to know what's to be done, but I know such a plan can't work; even if they achieved independence they wouldn't be able to freeze things like they are or were...

129:

I miss out one word and you call total bullshit? Okay, let me fix it in line with my original intent:

the British Empire and then its Western Successor Empire has been in steady relative decline.

Sure, our current GDP is higher than it has ever been before ... but the UK/US hegemony is crumbling at the edges precisely because China, India, the EU, and Africa are growing rapidly.

Yes, this is a good thing. But many, many people do not understand that loss of relative advantage is not a zero sum game; they see other folks getting richer and assume this means they are getting poorer.

(Historically, until about 250 years ago, this was generally true: before the industrial revolution economic growth either didn't happen, or tended to accrue at fractional-percentage rates that were gobbled up by population surplus. So our folk memory intuitive "common sense" understanding of economics is generally wrong.)

130:

Yes, this is a good thing. But many, many people do not understand that loss of relative advantage is not a zero sum game; they see other folks getting richer and assume this means they are getting poorer.

I've also met people for whom the point of being rich (relatively) was not the absolute amount of possessions they have, just that they have more than others they can compare themselves to. If you think like this, others growing rich somehow take away your achievements, especially if you mix something like nationalism with it.

131:

Yes. That aspect is definitely not a zero-sum game, even if many people and politicians regard it as that :-( Unfortunately, as far as most of the UK's population is concerned, it's purchasing power (more important than GDP as such) goes, it has been played as a zero-sum for several decades - but our 'opponent' is NOT other countries. Our GDP per capita has increased considerably in the past 30 years, so where has the money gone? Bread, circuses and most of all the fattening of cats. Yes, those are mostly foreign (often USA) ones, but the ordinary people of those countries haven't got what we have lost.

132:

What complicates the perception of Chinese growth in the United States is it's use by American elites as a bludgeon against U.S. labor.

133:

(Historically, until about 250 years ago, this was generally true: before the industrial revolution economic growth either didn't happen, or tended to accrue at fractional-percentage rates that were gobbled up by population surplus. So our folk memory intuitive "common sense" understanding of economics is generally wrong.)

Or this period of fossil fuel driven growth is a historically anomalous blip that will end, and the common sense understanding is correct and will reassert itself as climate change advances. The paradigm of hyperconsumption and shitting up the nest cannot and will not last, and while I'm hesitant to put any bets on what replaces it, "kill the poor that don't look like you" is a pretty standard response

134:
the only successful justification for the actual use of nukes in Japan was that the alternative of a conventional forces invasion of Japan would have caused far more deaths on both sides.

You write that almost as though there was a possibility that the nukes might not have been used against Japan.

After the successful test at Trinity, there was no way the bombs were not going to be used, short of unconditional surrender by Japan beforehand. Not after spending USD 2.5E10 (in today's money) in four years. You don't fork over that kind of dosh on a weapon, test it successfully, and then not use it when the war is still on after the test.

135:
If DT tries to go that far off the reservation he'd have the House voting impeachment so fast people would wonder who those people are. Then the Senate would likely impanel a trial within the day or as soon as the could get a quorum.

Why would you think that?

This is a genuine question, no irony or sarcasm intended. Trump has confessed to obstruction of justice on national TV, and they didn't even blink.

136:

Well, apart from anything else a suspension of democracy is a direct threat to their personal power, no?

137:

I sincerely hope you are correct.
yet, ISTM that TrumpBannon are trying to overthrow the US as we know it - even if they are "only" trying to revert to the gilded Age, post Grant's presidency.
OTOH, wasn't it Kurt Gödel who, when applying to becoming a US citizen found a very simple route for overthrowing the Con-stitution & installing a dictatorship?

138:

For better or worse, a lot of white southerners see themselves as a separate nation. The thing is, I grew up in the South. I have seen people either whose parents moved there or who moved there very young. A lot of them adopted Confederate nationalism. To be fair, all of them were white.

So I have to ask, if white Confederates see themselves as a separate nation, what do we do about it? I realize that demographics are changing, but

2. There’s a possibility that Confederate nationalism may be spreading in the plain states?

I too grew up in the south during the 60s at the height of the civil rights movement. I saw the progress we made then. Even if it was one step back for every two steps forward.

I've also seen the effects of Nixon's "Southern Strategy" of appealing to racists with dog whistle politics. If it were not for the reinforcement they've received from right wing carpetbaggers moving down from the rust-belt, the bigots would be in the minority here.

"Confederate nationalism" isn't spreading into the plains states, it's already firmly rooted there. The Klan's greatest recruiting success during the post WW1 Jim Crow heyday came not in the Old South, but in the Old Northwest - in states like Ohio, Indiana & Illinois and spread to the northeast and west from there.

.

The landmark Brown v Board of Education that declared separate was inherently NOT equal and that school segregation was UN-Constitutional was about the schools in Topeka, Kansas. The response in Virginia was to close the public schools rather than comply with the decision. But the worst response to court ordered desegregation came not in the south, but in Boston, when the courts got around to ordering the same kinds of remedies (busing students for racial balance) that the courts had ordered in the south.

The right-wing white supremacists, klan & neo-nazis who converged on Charlottesville came from all over the nation, not just from the south. The southerners were likely outnumbered by those not from the south.

139:

a direct threat to their personal power ??
Maybe
Ever heard of Divide & Rule?
Some NASTY people ( read Dems, who are in a "Minority" ) might get excluded, but they aren't "properly" elected or representative, really ( Using the Putin / Erdogan / Orban playbook ) are they?
So a sufficient majority of Rep's go along with this, retaining their power ... except that they then get purged, a little further down the road, don't they?
[ After all, that's what happened in England 1646-51 & France 1789-93 isn't it? And the USSR & Dante's Florence & ... ]

140:

Actually, the nukes were originally intended for Germany; VE day simply happened ahead of expected schedule.

Nor was the Manhattan Project the only weapons program on that scale. The B-29 program cost a similar amount, as did the B-36 (the first of which took to the air in November 1946, but had earlier been scheduled to fly by December 1945; VJ day slowed that program right the hell down), or the carrier building program (the USA had seventy carriers under construction in 1945, if memory serves), or other stuff elsewhere (consider the amount of money the UK poured into the Centurion development program — the first modern main battle tank — or the jet engine).

What made the A-bomb unique was that it exceeded expectations of its effectiveness by a couple of orders of magnitude. Churchill was hoping for an 0.2 kt weapon circa 1941 when Tube Alloys was mooted in the UK (by way of Leo Szillard); this fed into the Manhattan Project (the British project was absorbed into the US one in 1942 as part of the pooled war effort). It was effectively a terror weapon, like the V-2. As such, it was only useful diplomatically if everybody knew what it was, and could do. So Hiroshima and Nagasaki can usefully be seen as the opening shots in the cold war.

141:

If DT tries to go that far off the reservation he'd have the House voting impeachment so fast people would wonder who those people are. Then the Senate would likely impanel a trial within the day or as soon as the could get a quorum.

I agree with most of your conclusions except for this part. I don't think the current majorities in the House & Senate have that much respect for the Constitution.

142:

Well, apart from anything else a suspension of democracy is a direct threat to their personal power, no?

It would depend on how the proclamation was worded. As long as it contained at least some nod towards continuing the current majority in power, they wouldn't blink an eye.

143:

- The girl does not actually wear glasses, they are not prescription. Actual glasses would fit clean, not slide down her nose. It is both a disguise and a distraction to lull people into thinking that she is safe.

If you look closely, you can see that they obviously are prescription glasses. When she turns her head slightly, you can see the refraction through the edge, revealing the background, where if they were just plain glass, her hair & the side of her face should be.

I've been wearing glasses for more than 50 years, and I've had my share of glasses that didn't fit properly, wouldn't stay up & kept sliding down my nose (why I insist on cable temples).

Don't know if that invalidates all of your other points, but if you've got the one thing so obviously wrong, I'm unwilling to accept the rest unless I can independently verify it for myself.

144:

Wasn't arguing, and I will adjust my pronunciation of the name accordingly.
I don't recall Charlie ever saying how he pronounces it here, maybe I missed it.

145:

"Actually, the nukes were originally intended for Germany; VE day simply happened ahead of expected schedule."

Those damn Russians again!

146:

Yes
See my # 139
Scary?

147:

2. There’s a possibility that Confederate nationalism may be spreading in the plain states?

Speaking as a native of Kansas, it's already spread. The Plains states are culturally and politically part of the Confederacy now and have been since at least the mid-1990s.

The lone exception is Colorado. (For those unfamiliar with the geography of the interior U.S., the eastern half of Colorado is plains.) However, even that is only due to the sheer proportion of the state's population living in the liberal-leaning Denver-Boulder metro area.

As for what we do about it? I don't know, but I'm extremely pessimistic.

148:

Here's an excellent thread retweeted by Charlie, on Punching Nazis. And a good wrap up of why, when I see someone complain about it, my first thought is "You're not Jewish, are you?"

149:

Slipping back into my normal handle, since it seems the other thread is winding up...

About nuking Japan...

The first thing is that fire bombing the major industrial cities killed (IIRC) something like three times more people than the nuclear bombs did. That was our first attempt at terrorizing Japan into surrender. We even took to leafleting the Japanese, telling them which city was going to get hit next and when. They couldn't stop the raids, but they still didn't surrender.

It's always worth looking up Operation Downfall, which estimated (at the high end, per Wikipedia) "1.7–4 million American casualties, including 400,000–800,000 fatalities, and five to ten million Japanese fatalities."

The Japanese had estimated similar numbers, and they were hoping that the casualty toll would be so high that it would force the US Army to negotiate a ceasfire before the emperor was captured or killed.

So no, the nukes weren't terror weapons aimed at the Soviets. They were simply the next escalation. They were also accompanied by a (probably false) list of the cities that would be wiped out next if the Japanese didn't surrender. This threat ultimately got them to surrender (with a failed coup against the emperor himself when he announced the surrender).

While for reasons of battling communism we focus on German fascism over Japanese fascism, I think that final episode in Japan is the really chilling lesson: a cadre of fascists in power was willing to waste 5-10% of their entire population in a single campaign, just to keep from using the word "surrender," and they were willing to overthrow and/or kill the emperor who used that word to stop the killing. While I think most fascists are clowns, they're dangerous when given power. That's the part we can't ever forget.

150:

You're correct about Putin suppressing dissent, although he's following in a(n un)hallowed tradition of Czars ordering their soldiers to violently suppress peasant soviets and the like. I'm a little blurry on what happened with the last Czar to do this.

The thing about Putin is he's appears to be one of the master non-violent strategists we have today. And no, I don't think he's one of the good guys. Still, without firing a shot, he's managed a semi-successful decapitation strike on the US. That's nonviolence at its finest, to accomplish something that 20 years ago would have taken a bunch of nukes. It's also a warning that we all need to innovate and organize as he has.

151:

The lone exception is Colorado...

Back in the 20s the Klan hada strong presence in the Colorado government, including a Governor who was one of their leaders. IIRC, they lost popularity fairly quickly during the depression, so that by WWII the Governor was a Republican who refused to let the Japanes American citizens in the state be rounded up, though he couldn't prevent the Federal Government from building an Internment Camp for those from the West Coast, in the Southeast part of the state.

In Colorado Springs, the last time the Klan tried to have rally, in the mid-90s, they had five people show up—three from out of state, and were outnumbered by counter-protestors something like 10-1.

152:

It's worth remembering that the Klan doesn't have slaver wasps to turn ordinary citizens into foaming fascists. In most places, they're a small minority of the population. We've even got them here, in places like Santee, Fallbrook, and Ramona, but they don't control the government.

153:

So how would the black pharaoh react to descriptions of him/it as Nyaruko-chan? It was a novella, cartoon, and comic series that ran in Japan the better part of a decade ago. Any sort of censorship response from the New Management?

155:

In the US it's not necessarily being rejected for having a degree, but having an above average IQ can definitely get one rejected from being a beat cop. There was at least one discrimination suit over this and the department's answer that was endorsed by the courts is that a person who it too smart will be bored on the job and leave shortly after completing training.

This ignores that as you point cops tend to receive very little real training, often less than what is required to become a licensed barber or hairdresser in a given state. Think 10-16 weeks (400-640 hours) vs. 1,000 - 1,600 hours for the hair people.

156:

Jayhawking no longer popular, then?

157:

So Bannon is out. It will be interesting to see whether Breitbart still love Trump in the morning.

158:

Even older playbook, from Philip of Macedon ( Alexander's father )
He is reputed to have said, that if he could get one old man, with a donkey, carrying a load of gold inside a city's gates, he would not need to lay siege to it ....
Which is what Putin appears to have done to the USA, via the Dump?

159:

Ok. So Confederate nationalism is pretty deep in the Plains states. Important to know. What about rural New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont)? Central Valley California and the part of California threatening to secede to form the state of Jefferson? Almost afraid to ask about the Great Lakes states.

160:

So, is the Dump running it himself?
Or are there people (or lizards) we simply can't see running the show?
This is getting far too like the Laundry for comfort.
What was it Charlie said a year or two back, something like:
"Must write faster, reality is catching up!"

161:

Jefferson...

Here's the thing: the poorest parts of states often want to secede, even though it's counterintuitive. Jefferson doesn't want to secede because it's a hot-bed of rabid confederates, it's because they're poor, they go unheard in Sacramento because there aren't many of them, and most of their water flows south to the big farms and cities, as do the more educated members of their families. One might argue that they're trying to follow the example of West Virginia more than anything else.

While it's irrelevant now, back in the Civil War, the San Diego area was a hotbed of Confederate sentiment. In this way, it was more like Arizona than Sacramento. Sad part for them was that Sacramento was Republican, and they also had all the gold and most of the farmland. The Republicans then were roughly equivalent to the big business neoliberals now, and you know how that all worked out.

The other thing to remember was that until LBJ, the southern bigots all voted democrat, not republican. The whole Southern Strategy thing started with Nixon. In US politics, there are various factions that occasionally shift around. Right now the right white bigots are in the Republicans along with most of the wealthy businessmen, while the immigrants, technocrats, and creatives are over on the Democratic side. 50 years ago, the Republicans had more technocrats and the Democrats had a lot of bigots. That's politics for you.

162:

I have been seeing rumours for months that Trump really didn't like people suggesting that Bannon (or anyone else) was really in charge so I half expected them to fall out sooner or later.

Whether that is what happened, or if it is something else entirely is one for the kremlinologists.

163:

Confederate nationalism? no. For the wealthy there is a real WASP-y ingrained bigotry towards blacks, hispanics, white catholics (and certain other christian denominations) and jews get a double helping for being jewish as well as potentially being "new money" that has even more money than the "old money." The nationalism aspect for them died a bit after WWII, except in so far as some can trace their ancestry to the Mayflower or other early colonial expeditions.

Among the rural poor the racism and Trump-ism is the same type and expression as in the south but for the lack of association with the Confederacy. Among the urban poor, just look at how Matt Damon and Seth McFarlane trot out casual racism in the characters they write.

164:

Yeah, what does personal loyalty mean in this case?

Anyway, valar morghulis, Bannon. But not valar dohaeris.

165:

One thing I'm a bit puzzled over is how the Black Chamber is supposed to have pulled off a hostile takeover of a nation that has more intelligence agencies than the average Irishman has cousins. Keeping your dastardly plan hidden from the lot of them can't be easy.

166:

It's a bit more interesting than that.

On the one hand, we have the Trump family, which as far as I can tell know how to be slumlords and branding experts, but aren't familiar with running complex, multi-department organizations. Nor are they fast learners.

I'd suggest this is why Trump's massively understaffed the upper levels of the US government. Partly it was because it pleased his base and small-government libertarians, but mostly it was because he knows that kind of business, as does Kushner. It seems like they're running the government as a tenement, trying to maximize profits and keep people oppressed so they won't leave or rebel.

Opposing them are bureaucratic inertia and memory. The US government is huge, and there are a lot of people who know how it's supposed to work. Without bosses in charge, things will gradually get worse (or swiftly worse, as at the State Department), but I get the sense that there's a lot of surreptitious workarounds at the lower levels in some (perhaps most) of the departments. You can see this most clearly in the DoD, where the top brass has openly contradicted the President's tweets and speeches. While I doubt they'll disobey a lawful order, they've made it clear that they won't act on mere rhetoric. This is a good thing, too: it prevents someone from hacking his twitter account and using it to start a war.

I suspect Trump's on his way out, because he doesn't understand how to run the place, and there's already a candidate in the wings who apparently does (Pence). I'd even go so far as to guess that if he unilaterally ordered a nuclear war (highly unlikely--he' a coward), someone would countermand the order before the missiles flew. There are still a lot of people who believe in service to the US and the world, and I suspect that quite a few of them have decided it's better to be killed as a traitor while saving the world than to follow genocidal orders.

As for Pence's "2020 election campaign committee," I still wonder if that's actually his anti-impeachment team. After all, he's going to face the same problems either way, in demonstrating that he didn't collude in whatever ends up bringing Trump down. Might as well get that all solved so that he comes out smelling acceptable.

When will Trump get impeached or removed? There are three possibilities. One is when Pence and others have a clear notion that Trump's lost enough of his base that they won't lose worse by dumping him. At that point they'll invoke the 25th Amendment and walk him out. Another possibility is when Mueller (who is a Republican, but trusted as skilled and impartial) finishes his investigation and proffers charges, which provides cover for impeachment. A third possibility is if the Democrats take back the House in 2018, at which point this likely will be the first order of business even if Mueller's still working on his investigation, and Pence will likely get impeached too. In that case, the fight to be Speaker of the House (third in line of succession) will be brutal.

At this point, I suspect Trump's praying for another 9/11. He might get it, but I'm still fondly hoping that Americans (and most American media) won't fall into lockstep with whatever drums of war get beaten, and instead will dive into an investigation of how he let our defenses drop so low that we got attacked again.

I can dream, can't I?

168:

So Confederate nationalism is pretty deep in the Plains states. Important to know. What about rural ... {any state} ...

Race relations and all related issues are about the same in most every state in the US. The main difference is the old Confederate states were/are proud of their racism. The rest of the country put on a front that it didn't exist.

That. Is. It.

169:

The other thing to remember was that until LBJ, the southern bigots all voted democrat, not republican. The whole Southern Strategy thing started with Nixon.

Drop the word bigot and I'll agree with you. In many southern states registered D's outnumbered R's 2 to 1. Maybe 9 to 1. Where I grew up if you didn't vote in the D primary you really had no vote except for a few national and state wide offices. No R's ran for most offices.

170:

No. That wasn't the issue. The issue was whether the warlords would retain control. And THAT is why the Allies had to force an essentially unconditional surrender, and why those bombs were perhaps the only justified use of nuclear weapons (and using them as threats is a use).

171:

Fair enough. I stand corrected.

172:

Don't make the mistake of separating "the warlords" from the emperor. The only reason there's still a Japanese emperor is that Gen. MacArthur saw communists rioting in the streets of Japanese cities, knew the Soviets were on the borders in Korea and the Sakhalin Islands, and propped up the Japanese imperial family as a bulwark against communism. Otherwise, the emperor and at least one prince should have been tried for war crimes, surrender or not.

MacArthur decided, rightly or wrongly, that communism was a greater threat than Japanese war criminals. I'm not sure whether this was correct, but when one looks at the apparent right-wing slant of the Yakuza, you have to wonder.

173:

So how would the black pharaoh react to descriptions of him/it as Nyaruko-chan?

The New Management is totes about Cult (of personality, that is), so his response would probably depend on the intent behind the anime/manga. Anything that makes people pay attention to him is good, but stuff that makes people laugh at him is another matter entirely.

As the old Soviet joke had it, "Of course comrade Brezhnev has a sense of humour. See, he collects jokes about himself! He has three GULAGs full."

174:

Charlie, when are the Chekov's Guns that are the St.Hilda's group and Angleton's memex going to be fired?

175:

If he took the anime/manga seriously the Mandate would ban forks. The protagonist Mahiro-san who Nyaruko-chan pursues for no readily apparent reason had a tendency to distract the Crawling Chaos by sticking a fork in her hand. His mother was a master of fork-fu.

176:

One thing I'm a bit puzzled over is how the Black Chamber is supposed to have pulled off a hostile takeover of a nation that has more intelligence agencies than the average Irishman has cousins. Keeping your dastardly plan hidden from the lot of them can't be easy.

The Black Chamber does not exist. It was abolished in 1929. Possibly it keeps itself hidden the same way Basil managed to hide himself within the Laundry.

177:

Here you go, this is the actual documentary.

Charlottesville: Race and Terror – VICE News Tonight on HBO
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIrcB1sAN8I

178:

Re: '... very little in the more realistic center.'

Bujold? Hits it on the nail about how slow and uneven 'progress' can be even among the elites. Sorta along the lines of: old customs never die, they fade into a better yesterday seen through the bitter today.

What does need some dispasssionate discussion is how to respond to DT's charge of: The left is trying to rewrite history! Those statues were of our by-gone heroes! How is this handled in Europe? Believe that there are no statues left of the triumphant Hitler or Stalin. As for the UK, believer that thanks to the National Trust, most of the portraits of its past monarchs whether currently admired or loathed are safely out of the way/public eye in castles and art museums.

179:

Re: Hurricane Katrina, FEMA/Bush, & military

Even so, branches of the military did respond although they were not the branch that might have been expected therefore possibly more familiar with the locale and locals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina_disaster_relief#Military

'According to an article in Time, in the famously decimated St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans, Sheriff Jack Stephens says the Coast Guard was the only federal agency to provide any significant assistance for a full week after the storm.'

There's considerable detail about the level and type of military response - quite a bit in fact. Points of failure seem mostly on the political and civic side starring with what FEMA was originally designed for (counter-9/11 disasters).

180:

Re: Started with LBJ

Just checked this and it looks as though the Southern states' shift away from Democrat was in 1948 because they disliked Truman's pledge to desegregate. This faction became known as the Dixiecrats. (Sounds like a punk band - with a similarly short life span.)

On a serious note - the Northern and Southern Democrats were always split on slavery. So it isn't whether or not a national party changed its ideology as much as whether a pol of either party wanted the vote badly enough to go after this bloc, i.e., Goldwater using white supremacy as the carrot. Over time, more and more pols seemed to court this group - because they vote! After that it was just voter or cultural inertia. Of the impression that in the US more than in other democracies, it seems that once you get any cultural group to vote for you once, you've got them until they bury you.

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

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-mlk-quote-sums-up-the-rise-of-white-supremacy-post-trump_us_5875426de4b099cdb1000431

'On July 16, 1964, King released a statement on the Republican presidential nomination of Barry Goldwater. Goldwater had run a campaign based on a new kind of conservatism that was staunchly against civil rights reform and implicitly pro-white. Goldwater concerned King, who felt the candidate legitimized and incited an uptick of white supremacist ideology in the Republican party.'

DT and Goldwater also share this in common:

http://www.npr.org/2017/05/15/528502969/psychiatrists-divided-over-the-goldwater-rule-in-the-age-of-trump

181:

whilst i'm not-at-all sure how scots (gaelic) maps to irish (gaeilge), my instinct as a person raised in a west irish gaeltacht (gailge-speaking area) would be that máire (MOY-ra) is the proper name, and 'VOY-ra' would be the (?) nominative (a mháire). Grammar hazy after 40 years.
Romance languages put the declensions on the end (foutre: foutu, foutera, fouté, ..) but gaelic /front/ *and* /middle/ *and* /end/ -- loads the declensions. (Glances suspiciously at latvisn/lithuanian)
It's a minor lingustic puzzle: gaelgoirs reached ireland circa 1500 bce (cf p- and g-goidelic), but retains no obvious linguistic pre-goidelic substrate (i.e. from the megalith-building beaker-people, my mother's haplogroup (h3))

182:

Sorry for your loss.

I've been meaning to re-read since my own dad's demise:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50615.The_Invention_of_Solitude

183:

Don't forget gdp includes services fees and patent licensing etc.
I daresay it would be different to rank by person-hours-worked, or tons-of-raw-materials-mined (tormm), or torrm*dollars_per_ton_on_spot_market, or market value of goods+services supplied across borders, etc, etc. Or even just GNP.
The dungeon-master defines the rules of the game.

184:

That's how I understand it to work, too. (s/nominative/vocative/ though.) I think the mapping is generally close enough that you can pretty much convert one to the other using sed, and I'm sure that as far as that particular aspect goes the two are the same. Compton Mackenzie explains it in detail in Whisky Galore :)

The anglicised spelling "Moira" is of course familiar. But then you get wrinkles, eg. Maire Brennan calls herself "Moya" (without the r) and I've no idea what's going on there. Maybe it's like Russian diminutives, which are nuts.

185:
Well, apart from anything else a suspension of democracy is a direct threat to their personal power, no?

The Establishment always think they can control the guy who's going to take care of those pesky peasants for them. Sometimes they're right. But in any event it does not work out well for the peasants.

186:

(Germany as target, scale of WWII weapons programs, unexpected power of 1st-gen fission devices)

Yes the program was initially sold with warnings about the risks of the Germans getting there first, and yes if the Germans had still been in the war when it was ready they might well have been the targets. I expect the English side would have pressed hard for that. Depending on how obviously they were on the ropes though, I can imagine some serious American pressure to use them against Japan instead. Germans were at least seen as human by the Americans, but to a great many of us the Japanese had roughly the moral status of cockroaches, and there was that whole Pearl Harbor thing to be pissed about.

Yes there were lots of big projects during the war. But another thing that made the nukes unique was that all of that money bought in four rounds of ordnance. Comparisons to fleets of bombers or carriers, or divisions of tanks, are a category error. There was not, according to Americans in a position to know, ever any serious discussion among the political or military elites of not using them.

As to the unexpectedly high yield of the first devices, by the time they were actually built, the predictions of their explosive power were at least in the right order of magnitude.

187:

Agreed - the same has been my gut feeling all along too, mainly on the basis that posturing and chest-beating on the foundation of some really rather unimpressive apology for an achievement is pretty much SOP for North Korea. Like that glorious hotel pyramid thing in Pyongyang which is actually only a half-completed shell only nobody's allowed to get close enough to see that or talk about it if they do. It's as if they're so used to that approach generally working fine to convince their own people how great they are that they don't see the problem with continuing to use it on the world stage where everyone can see the Architect Sketch playing up there in the background.

I also suspect that the tone of the reporting of such incidents is influenced, indirectly and not necessarily particularly consciously, but significantly, by fear not of "them", but of "us". There is a kind of undertone to that effect in a fair number of the pieces written about these incidents, and the intensity of the alarm expressed seems to be proportional to the currant density of the contemporaneous White House fruitcake.

188:

Famously the British interned Heisenberg and pals after the war and bugged their conversations to try and get a handle on just how far along they had got with nuclear bomb research. But it was pretty obvious long before the end of the war that no matter how much they had or hadn't found out about the underlying physics, there was not going to be a German nuke. Once the Manhattan project really got rolling and it became known how large a scale of operation was required to have a hope of producing enough fissile material for a bomb, and the characteristic kind of materials required and avenues of sub-research, it was easy enough even under wartime conditions to see that the Germans didn't have anything of the kind going on.

Some of the people on the Manhattan project did try and persuade the command that since Germany had already been squashed and Japan was basically already dead but just hadn't stopped moving yet, the bomb should not be used, or at the least they should start by giving the Japanese a free firework display in Tokyo bay and telling them the next one would be a bit closer. Nobody took any notice though. I'm not even sure if Truman even got to know about it until after the surrender.

It's worth noting that although an invasion of Japan was a gung-ho alternative option, it wasn't the only option. Japan had completely had it, with pretty much no capacity left to do anything to any effect, warlike or otherwise. The US could simply have waited. But really, after they'd put all that effort into developing their super (though not Super) new weapon, there was no way they were going to miss the chance of seeing what it did to a real target.

189:

It's worth noting that although an invasion of Japan was a gung-ho alternative option, it wasn't the only option. Japan had completely had it, with pretty much no capacity left to do anything to any effect, warlike or otherwise. The US could simply have waited.

Actually. No.

While Japan in many ways was beat to shit there was still in many ways a functioning country. The first US soldiers to arrive were amazed at things like train service still mostly operating.

The US public wanted it to be OVER. Not on hold. No slowed down. But just flat out over. They were against getting involved (before Dec 7, 1941) by non trivial majorities. Roosevelt's help to England had a lot of people pissed off before then. George Marshal had serious doubts the public would support the war for another 6 months to a year. Especially if casualties started rolling in from a landing in Japan and the Japanese started making noise about an armistice. (Which would leave the military/war lords in charge of Japan with an army of a few million or so as a starting point. Especially if they got to bring back their troops from Manchuria.)

Waiting out Japan was just not a viable option unless you were willing to have the warlords there be in charge and start planning for the next war.

In my opinion (and many others) your thoughts are more wishful thinking than anything else.

190:

The Establishment always think they can control the guy who's going to take care of those pesky peasants for them.
Yeah, well, Adolf is the classic examplle of this isn't he?
Quite few of the people who supp[orted him as a supposed front-man ended up dead or in a camp, didn't they?
But it seems that learning from history is not a current US skill ....

191:

The US and the UKpublic wanted it to be OVER. Not on hold. No slowed down. But just flat out over.
YES
My father told me, when I asked him about both VE & VJ days that his one emotion was RELIEF - it was finished.
In my opinion (and many others) your thoughts are more wishful thinking than anything else.
Heartily concur - also the Imp-Japs were set to straight-out murder as many rermaining prisoners they had - which included one of my uncles.

192:

On a maybe-related subject, which may be sensitive ...

Da'esh
An ideology virtually-indistinguishable from Nazism, with the fanaticism of the kamikaze (?)
There was a play-producer on R4 this AM, talking about "no military solution is possible" & "we have to understnd & engage with these people" (!)
Well, we "engaged" with the Nazis by killing as many as possible, as a military solution, until they gave up ....

No, it's not an easy subject to discuss dispassionately, is it?

At the same time a n other variant of the same vileness is rampant in a small section of the US public. [ I could not watch the link posted by allynh in #177 for more than about 90 seconds, I'm afraid. ]

193:

Consider also that any attempt to "wait out" Japan leaves a very large number of prisoners (both military, and interned civilian) at the mercy of a Japanese Army that is continuing to beat, starve, and work them to death. Many of the prisoners were only saved by the speed of the surrender. The Rape of Nanking is an insight into what the Japanese forces were capable of when they didn't have their backs to the wall.

The unfortunate calculus wasn't just "will dropping Fat Man and Little Boy save more Japanese civilians in the long run", or a trade off of 100,000 Japanese civilian lives against hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers' lives. The trade off was whether the civilians who died were in Japan, or in the territories occupied by Japan.

194:

What broke Japan wasn't the firestorming of its cities or even the nukes; the War Cabinet met after the reports from Hiroshima[1] and the news of Nagasaki came in and voted to continue the fight. Surrender wasn't an option.

What really smashed their confidence was the entry into the war of the Russians, the pre-eminent land-based military power at that time, on the 8th of August with the start of the battle of Manchuria which destroyed the last large army the Japanese had, and put over a million or so troops on their northern borders, the soldiers that had destroyed the Wehrmacht and taken Berlin. At that point they knew they were going to lose and they wouldn't even have the satisfaction of hurting their conquerors significantly before going down to defeat. The planned invasion by about 150,000 troops of the Western Allies on Kyushu was just icing on the cake.

[1]The Hiroshima tram system was up and running through the area near the hypocentre four days after the bomb was dropped there. Street markets were re-opening and life was returning to normal, with no firestorm or other continuing damage to the infrastructure.

195:

I don't think that you understand the nature of the Japanese monarchy at the time, or the harm that such a show trial would have done. Hirohito had been brought up as a virtual prisoner, fed stories of glorious war, manifest destiny and racial superiority, and had less maturity than a western teenager. By 1945, he had learnt better, overrode the warlords to surrender, and offered to be put on trial. If the warlords had been left in ANY power, or if there had been a show trial of Hirohito, we would have had a nuclear-armed, aggressive Japan for some time.

I could add remarks about the attitudes of the UK and USA to glorious war, manifest destiny, national superiority and show trials, but it would piss off quite a few people and probably start a flame war.

196:

"The thing about Putin is he's appears to be one of the master non-violent strategists we have today. And no, I don't think he's one of the good guys."

Not just that. When he takes out a political opponent, he takes out THAT opponent, not dozens of uninvolved men, women and children who happen to be in the area when the bombs fall. Yes, USA, Israel and UK, I am talking about you - which I deeply regret means I am also responsible :-(

197:

But another thing that made the nukes unique was that all of that money bought in four rounds of ordnance.

Nope, that's not actually true. What the money bought was an entire A-bomb manufacturing supply chain, from uranium ore mines to enrichment plants, breeder reactors, plutonium separation plants, and bomb designs. They only ran it long enough to produce four bombs by VJ day, then more or less shut it down for a year, but in August 1945 it was producing enough plutonium for roughly one bomb per month; production restarted less than a year later and by 1948 it was up to something like one bomb's worth per week. (Source: memory of reading Richard Rhodes too many years ago. Precise dates/figures may be wonky, but principle remains the same.)

An A-bomb gave a single bomber the striking power of a thousand bomber raid; that's the point. And if they'd chosen to continue cranking up capacity after August 1945, then by December 1945 they'd have had bombs coming off the production line on a weekly basis even without further innovation.

198:

a very large number of prisoners (both military, and interned civilian) at the mercy of a Japanese Army that is continuing to beat, starve, and work them to death.

Which reminds me: in 1905-06, during the Russo-Japanese war, the Japanese Army was generally reputed to have behaved chivalrously towards their enemies and treated their prisoners punctiliously. Something very unpleasant and strange happened in the mind-set of the Japanese military between 1906 and 1936 ....

199:

"Something very unpleasant and strange happened..."

Is it just me, or is that a much more disturbing thought than it should be?

200:

is that a much more disturbing thought than it should be?

No, it's exactly as disturbing as it should be.

If it could happen to them, it could happen to us. And, arguably, it has. (Compare how the US-led coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan treats prisoners with how you personally would prefer to be treated if you were mistakenly accused of being a terrorist, per Rawls' theory of justice: it comes up lacking.)

201:

The short answer is statism (or as we call it, fascism), and it took over in the 1920s. Even in WWI (to the extent they participated), the Japanese Army had a sterling reputation for following the rules of war. That mostly changed in the 1930s, IIRC, although some Koreans might beg to differ on that timing.

You might find this Wikipedia article on Japanese statism interesting, if you don't know much about Japanese history.

The one thing I'd disagree with is that it was a military phenomenon. It was a societal phenomenon.

202:

See my previous comment about Japanese statism. You've got to realize that Hirohito was a product of the Meiji Restoration. The whole idea of the powerful Shogun holding the ritual emperor as a virtual prisoner was what the Meiji Restoration overthrew, when they got rid of the shogunate entirely and reinstated the emperor with something resembling a constitutional monarchy below him. Attempts to reinstate the Shogunate in the 1920s and 1930s ended messily.

I do agree with Charlie about the possibilities of it happening elsewhere, including the US. The next thing we need to worry about is that basically we've got generals running the Trump administration right now. While this will bring some order, the cost might be rather extreme if the civilian wings of the government (notably Congress) keep being so ineffectual.

203:

Agreed.

The other thing was that the Soviets were rolling in through Manchuria and south through the Sakhalin Islands. Although the US hadn't paid attention at the time, there were Japanese communists, and the Korean communists had fought against the Japanese (generally with their Chinese compatriots) for the entire length of the war, while the US did nothing for Korea (the first played assistance was supposed to go in August 7, 1945). Does anyone think the Soviet Army would have stopped their rapid advance, just because the Americans were dawdling?

As Pigeon's idea of giving them a display over Tokyo Bay--so you incinerate the rubble on a firebombed waterfront, possibly kill much of the functioning government, and then who is supposed to surrender to you? The bombing Japan had already taken caused far more casualties than the nukes caused, and that didn't get them to the bargaining table.

As for the trains operating, that sounds weird. So far as I know, all the bridges between the islands were blown up, many harbors had been mined or otherwise rendered nonfunctional, and starvation was imminent if not already happening. I suspect some street cars were running, but Japan's problem as an archipelago is that moving food around depends absolutely both on local water traffic between harbors and bridges among islands. Those had been blown by August 1945. IIRC, the first big task the Americans had was to prevent a famine, and that took a lot of work.

In any event, there's some interesting alt-history that could be written here, specifically about what WWIII might have looked like in the 1950s if the world didn't know what nukes could do. One might speculate that if we hadn't used them when we did, probably there would have been a nuclear war in Japan in the 1950s, between the Communist/Soviet North and the Imperial/American south, sort of like the Korean War but with nukes used early on, because no one had a good idea of what they did. Whether the war would have spread beyond Japan is up to the alt-historian, but you get the picture.

204:

Yes and, as I said in 196, neither the WWII Japanese nor modern USA/UK/Israel/Saudi Arabia restrict themselves to suspected terrorists or even ones with a plausibly relevant association - merely being being associated in any way (even by physical proximity) is enough. While we may not yet be as foul as the WWII Japanese, we have definitely placed ourselves in the same category. I am ashamed for my country.

205:

"Good point. I was assuming that the original Nazi necromancers would be dead by now of old age, but that's not a given is it?"

Either way................. :)

206:

"But another thing that made the nukes unique was that all of that money bought in four rounds of ordnance."

I don't have the reference, but the production plan was for *at least* 2 per month by late fall, 1945.

207:

Sorrry, very plausible, very often put forward, but not buying it.
Put forward much more often these days, as an excuse to show how horrible the US-allies were, without considering things like the aforementioned rape of Nanking & countless other Imp-Jap atrocities.
As also mentioned eleswhere, something went v badly wrong in Imp-Jap society in general & their military in particular 1918 - 33 ( &/or '37 )

See also Charlie @ 197 - plenty more bombs where those two came from ....

208:

Which makes Putin so much better, doesn't it?
/Snark
@ 204
Really?
That bad?
I hope not, though Saudi certainly IS that bad - see Yemen & the protests - much muted at present/so far, here.
The US have a nasty careless habit of not being able to shoot straight _ & what's worse, they don't seem to care too much.
I get the impression that it has rubbed off onto us, but also that some people, esp in the military ( as opposed to some civilians "in charge" ) are not too pleased about this.

See also the difference between Brit & US policing, as also discussed recently - it brings us back to the"Societal thing" we have mentioned

209:

We've had a lot to be ashamed about for a long time, starting with a bunch of Native American genocides that also get swept under the rug. There's a lot of healing to do, and it starts with things like listening to the people affected and respect for their land and rights.

Still, there's room for creativity in the healing process. For example, the US could copy what the Paraguayan people did with a statue commemorating their long-time dictator. There's nothing wrong with repurposing art to make a point about the causes those art honored.

Of course, if the Trump presidency takes the course I expect, I'd be happy to contribute to a statue of Trump in the mode of these statues to Qin Hui and his associates (note that you'll have to read the entire Wikipedia article to see what they did to get that reward).

210:

Yes, it is that bad and, yes, God help us, it does put Putin on a higher ethical level :-( You won't see the evidence in the western press, except occasionally in places like the Independent, but what the human rights NGOs say is telling. I agree that we (i.e. the UK) are not actually conducting a pogrom, which Saudi Arabia is, but Falluja came close and our support for the treatment of Gaza is closer. Yes, many of the military are not pleased, but far too many are at least acquiescent.

211:

The trouble about the political correctness is that it rapidly changes into revisionism - the row about Rhodes is very much of that category - he didn't get the bayete from the Matabele because they either despised or hated him. I could go into more detail, if needed.

212:

Another way to look at what Damian @199 was alluding to:

"Something very unpleasant and strange happened..."

Is it just me, or is that a much more disturbing thought than it should be?

Looking at it through the lens of The Laundry:

During the 30s, were parts of Japan infested by The Sleeper, the way Schiller tried to take over the UK in Delirium Brief, and the US had to use the nukes to take out the infestation.

That would imply the firebombing of major cities in both Europe and Japan were part of clearing out infestations, and the nukes were simply more efficient.

Look at WWI and how entire regions of Europe were killing fields. Did something come through from those killing fields, to seed the groups leading to the bizarre cults like the Nazis in WWII.

Plus earlier in America, the Civil War battlefields filled with huge numbers of the dead, and people buried in place. Did something come through in those Civil War battlefields that warped and twisted American society. The KKK and their rituals are just one small example, leading to the bizarre reactions to removing statues today. America being saturated by dark organizations like the OPA shows that infestations took root where the civilized world could not see it happening.

That means Apocalypse Codex and Delirium Brief are just the latest incursions of a centuries long attempt by The Sleeper.

213:

Hunh? The real political correctness and revisionism right now are things like insisting that the American civil war wasn't about slavery or that, just because we wiped out 90% of their ancestors and don't let them own their own land, we shouldn't listen to the Indianes when they talk about their current problems and their hopes and fears for their children.

Now I'm not one to talk about either, but at least I'm beginning to understand why it's so important to do both.

214:

Da'esh
An ideology virtually-indistinguishable from Nazism, with the fanaticism of the kamikaze (?)
There was a play-producer on R4 this AM, talking about "no military solution is possible" & "we have to understnd & engage with these people" (!)

Well, we "engaged" with the Nazis by killing as many as possible, as a military solution, until they gave up

I don't think you're ever going to get today's economic elites to agree to the kind of WW2 full mobilization - not just of men, but of the whole economy - it took to accomplish the defeat of Germany & Japan. In the U.S., FDR was barely able to get it for WW2.

Do you really believe the likes of Jared Kushner or Donald Trump Jr would ever perform military service the way the scions of the Kennedys & the Roosevelts did? (TR's & FDR's sons served)

215:
"Something very unpleasant and strange happened..."

Is it just me, or is that a much more disturbing thought than it should be?

Depends on just how disturbing a thought you think it should be. I find it quite disturbing, but no more so than necessary.

216:

Re: Japanese statism

Unfamiliar with that history so looked it up ... interesting, Japan's military decided to absorb Prussian martial values including their already-present unswerving loyalty to head honcho in lieu of a personal conscience. Their tutor was this guy:

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

Excerpt:

'Although his period in Japan (1885–1888) was relatively short, Meckel had a tremendous impact on the development of the Japanese military. He is credited with having introduced Clausewitz's military theories [4] and the Prussian concept of war games (Kriegspiel) in a process of refining tactics.[5] By training some sixty of the highest-ranking Japanese officers of the time in tactics, strategy and organization, he was able to replace the previous influences of the French advisors with his own philosophies. Meckel especially reinforced Hermann Roesler's ideal of subservience to the Emperor by teaching his pupils that Prussian military success was a consequence of the officer class's unswerving loyalty to their sovereign Emperor, however unswerving loyalty to superiors, in particular unswerving loyalty to the Emperor, was already an ideal in Japan, with the unswerving loyalty to the Emperor being expressly codified in Articles XI–XIII of the Meiji Constitution.[6]'

This also suggests that Western nations were kinda clueless about Asian military history or they might have figured out how to win the war sooner, possibly without resorting to nukes.

217:
I get the impression that it has rubbed off onto us
...what on earth are you on about? The UK has cheerfully used indiscriminate collective punishment for centuries.
218:

Re: Economic elites

Given that in the US the most popular way of making money is income tax avoidance, I do not understand how having a chief strategist whose game plan for his corp was to not pay taxes doesn't strike me as particularly useful. Unless the US gov't is going to enact more loop holes about whether and to whom they must provide the services mandated as well as balance its books. Take a page from the really well-performing HMOs.


BTW, the tax revenue burden on the individual in the US is 50% greater than for folks in other OECD nations.

https://taxfoundation.org/sources-government-revenue-oecd-2016/

'In 2013, the United States relied the most on individual income taxes. According to OECD data, the United States (federal, state, and local combined) raised approximately 38.7 percent of all tax revenue from individual income taxes (compared to the 24.8 percent among all OECD countries).

Social insurance taxes made up the second largest source of government revenue in the United States (24.2 percent of total).*

*SIT are paid equally by employer and employee, so this brings individual income taxes to about 50% of all gov't revenue.]

'The smallest source of tax revenue for the United States was the corporate income tax. Federal, state, and local governments collected 8.4 percent of their total tax revenue from corporate income taxes in 2013.'

* Plus add in their portion of SIT payments which maxes out at about 3% of total operating expenses for service companies ... and is probably tax-deductible in some states and or completely not required if it's a potentially 'big employer'.

219:

something went v badly wrong in Imp-Jap society in general & their military in particular 1918 - 33

Possibly their treatment at the Paris Conference? They had played by European rules on two wars, but were explicitly told they were inferior. The extract from The Australian is a decent summary:

Australia was overtly antagonistic to Japan on the international stage as early as 1919, when Australian prime minister Billy Hughes publicly humiliated the Japanese government at the Paris Peace Conference after World War I.

Hughes effectively vetoed Japan's request to be formally acknowledged as an equal with the white Anglo-Saxon empires in the foundation documents of the League of Nations. This denial of equality was seen as a humiliating defeat in Japan, where there was already deep resentment of the discrimination against the Japanese in immigration, investment and trade by the British Empire - of which Australia was the most vociferous member in the Pacific - and the US.

The rejection provided a propaganda opportunity that assisted the militarists and nationalists to undermine the relatively liberal forces in Japan that were seeking an accommodation with the Western powers.

[Hughes] exploited Australian nationalism, its convictions and prejudices. Grandstanding for electoral benefit back home on a platform of protecting the White Australia policy, he opposed any concession to Japan. He persisted even though negotiations at Paris had reduced Japan's original demand for an acknowledgment of racial equality in the covenant of the League of Nations to a clause declaring the equality of nations - not races - placed in the preamble where it had no legal force: a "pallid" declaration, in the words of one senior US adviser.

When British prime minister Lloyd George, US president Woodrow Wilson and all the dominions, other than New Zealand and Australia, accepted this compromise, Hughes remained obdurate and used the veto Britain had conceded to the dominions on this issue.

This in turn delivered acquiescence from Wilson, who needed British Empire support to achieve his cherished League of Nations.

This episode is treated in so balanced a way that it is painful for Australians to read in Naoko Shimazu's 1998 book Japan, Race and Equality: The Racial Equality Proposal of 1919. Happily, the leading Australian historian of this era, Neville Meaney, is equally dispassionate in his treatment of Hughes, most recently in his magisterial A History of Australian Defence and Foreign Policy 1911-23, volume 2, Australia and World Crisis 1914-23, published in 2009.

In the words of Meaney, Hughes in "his fevered imagination" saw the Japanese proposal as intended to "knock down Australia's 'Great White Walls' and so allow a tsunami of Asian migrants to overwhelm the British race in the South Pacific".

Meaney comments: "Both the positions he took and the manner in which he prosecuted them did nothing to help (his) objectives. Contrariwise his attitudes caused Japan to become more suspicious of the West and antagonistic to Australia, it caused the Japanese to see Australia as the chief obstacle standing between them and their aim of achieving equality with the West."

Shimazu describes how the veto became a powerful symbol for the Japanese of their rejection by the West - a rejection used by the military and nationalists to justify Japan's "independent" path that led to invasion of China and ultimately war in the Pacific.

(From https:www.theaustralian.com.au%2Fnational-affairs%2Fdiplomacy-that-led-to-human-catastrophe%2Fnews-story%2Fd2561b83328357d51102684811ba4d27&usg=AFQjCNGt1rsk4pwkTks36oLk53-h09hPzw)

Not my field of expertise, but it sounds plausible. I do recall learning that the treatment of Japan at Versailles was one of the grievances that led to the rise of the militants, but that was three decades ago and I don't recall the details from class.

220:

No
That appears to be a fundamental differenc between the uS & the UK
Remember where the future George VI was in WWI?
Or even Prince Andrew ( whatever his many other faults ) during the Falklands?

221:

I think we are talking about different things - & past each other.
That is not what I was talking about - I was referring to observing the so-called "Rules of War".
OK?

222:

So no real change between Huges & Abbott, then ???

223:

That appears to be a fundamental differenc between the uS & the UK

No it isn't.

Remember where Kohn F. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush were during the second world war? Or even George W. Bush during Vietnam, never mind presidential candidates John McCain or John Kerry? (GWB picked a cushy duty but still flew national guard fighter aircraft; McCain and Kerry saw combat.)

The end of universal national service led to younger politicians who'd never been in the forces. But it's hard to see Kushner or Trump ever willingly going there.

224:

To be fair, neither Clinton nor Obama served in the US military, although Gore did (Biden did not). Of the 2016 crowd, Trump went for a medical deferment (the infamous bone spurs), Hillary Clinton was ineligible, and Sanders was a conscientious objector. Pence and Kaine were too young for the draft (both graduated high school in the late 1970s).

Before we take this any further, I need to point out that Congresscritter Randy "Duke" Cunningham was one of the most decorated pilots in the Vietnam war and spent a couple of years in prison as the result of a bribery, fraud, etc. scandal. When released, he asked the judge if he could own a gun for hunting in Arkansas. The judge denied his request, based in part on a law that Cunningham had voted for while in Congress. And worse (perhaps) we've got Zinke the ex-SEAL in charge of the Interior Department right now.

BTW, this is just googling the politicians. I knew about Obama and Clinton, and looked up the rest.


225:

> > I get the impression that it has rubbed off onto us
> ...what on earth are you on about? The UK has cheerfully used indiscriminate collective punishment for centuries.

Can confirm; my grandfather was RIC in Co. Clare

226:

BTW, the tax revenue burden on the individual in the US is 50% greater than for folks in other OECD nations.

Well, there's "lies, damn lies, and statistics". The Tax Foundation was founded in 1937 to oppose FDR's New Deal reforms.

While the US relies more heavily on Individual Income Taxes and Social Insurance Taxes, the Tax Foundation doesn't accurately reflect the distribution of the tax burden. Earned income (i.e. the wages of the poor, the working class & middle class) is taxed at a higher rate than is paid by the "elites" on their unearned income (capital gains & dividends).

Furthermore, Social Insurance taxes are assessed ONLY on EARNED INCOME and maximum taxable earnings for OASDI (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) are capped at $127,000. Those whose wages are less than $127,000 per year pay OASDI tax on 100% of their incomes. Those whose wages are greater do not. And those whose sources of income are capital gains or dividends pay NO Social Insurance taxes on that incomes.

Additionally, property taxes are skewed in favor of those with higher incomes (and higher property values). The homes of the poor is usually appraised at well above market value for the purposes of taxation, while the maximum appraised values are often capped at some level that bears no relation to market values. The widow's tumble-down, two bedroom bungalow may be appraised at a quarter of a million (while her heirs will be lucky to get $100,000 for it), but no property in the county will be appraised at higher than $2 million - including the $5-$10 million McMansions built on the property where the county tore down the old community hospital (for which you can be damn sure the real estate developers didn't pay the county anywhere near "market value").

Finally, The Tax Foundation reports the “statutory” tax rate for corporations and does not account for all of the deductions and exclusions that give the US the lowest effective corporate tax rates in the OECD.

227:

Best system of government money can buy. Shame the money's a bit myopic.

228:

Hey, it wasn't my idea, it was Szilard's :)

229:

No Greg, not ok:
Summary execution, corpse mutilation, and population displacement during the Malayan Emergency.
Torture and castration of prisoners during the Mau Mau Uprising.
Torture during internment in Northern Ireland.
Massacres of civilians (and coverups of same) in all the above.

All of which happened in your lifetime, if I'm not mistaken.

230:

Not just that. When he takes out a political opponent, he takes out THAT opponent, not dozens of uninvolved men, women and children who happen to be in the area when the bombs fall.

Nonsense on stilts, easily disproved by the words "flight MH17"

You might also want to consider that much of the ordnance dropped by Russian forces in Syria is unguided "iron bombs"; and occasionally cluster munitions. Or perhaps that there was a certain amount of cleanup to be done in London after the Polonium-210 incident. Maybe consider that he's training, arming, and reinforcing the separatists in the Donbass.

I'm not going to deny UK and US ethical shortcomings, but claiming that Putin is "operating on a higher ethical level" is just wilful ignorance.

231:

Re: ' ...the wages of the poor, the working class & middle class) is taxed at a higher rate than is paid by the "elites" on their unearned income (capital gains & dividends).'

Agree - that's one of the reasons I've been wondering why people continue to put up with such in-your-face fiscal/tax inequality. There's even precedent about what to do about unfair taxation.

232:

Yes, thank you for posting that. People do not want to talk about this stuff.

Here is an example of what you are talking about here in New Mexico. Our home prices are a fraction of most parts of the US, so these luxury homes are extreme. Watch the video if you can.

Tax rolls riddled with bogus farms
http://krqe.com/2013/07/18/tax-rolls-riddled-bogus-farms/

The middle-class neighborhood I grew up in Albuquerque was built in the 60s. The average home price was less than 20k. Most of the homes were still original owner before the 2008 crash. They were being valuated by the County for tax purposes at around 500k. Nobody would pay that much for those houses. They are all 60s construction requiring major upgrades to match current code.

As the original owners die, many of the houses are abandoned because the families can't sell them for 500k. Meth-heads go in and strip the copper. A few are refurbished and sold. All this while new construction happens in bizarre subdivisions that should never have been allowed to be built. All because the tax code favors builders/new construction rather than refurbishing and infilling existing subdivisions that decay from within.

233:

No, it's exactly as disturbing as it should be.

Quite right, clumsy wording which I don't hold close. I suppose I meant that even already knowing this, and having come across concepts like it often before, it still sends shivers down my spine.

If it could happen to them, it could happen to us. And, arguably, it has.

While the scale and scope is rare, I see it having happened to us several times to some extent. "We" did collective punishment of civilians in the Boer War, but the experience saw "us" switch from devaluing and dehumanising any non-British people to only doing so for non-whites. Then when the Germans (whose colonial wars had always been against white people) did it with Belgians, "we" decried it (while doing the same to non-whites everywhere from Kenya to India to all over Australia). I guess it was at the height of the racial element in the Western world when Japan came to define non-Japanese as the inferior others who could be used in this way.

I know I'm eliding "collective punishment" with something else, too. But I did want to consider the historicity around the "happening to us" thing. Because at times "us" is the thing that happened. And wonder how we stop it happening again... our culture has the psychology of an abuser who can learn not to abuse, but always has the risk of re-offending.

234:

As for the trains operating, that sounds weird. So far as I know, all the bridges between the islands were blown up, many harbors had been mined or otherwise rendered nonfunctional, and starvation was imminent if not already happening. I suspect some street cars were running

It was on one of those History Channel type shows. I suspect it was more of the inside the metro areas. The film clips showed trains running through rubble. I suspect they were making them a priority as they were the last way to move things around.

If my uncle was still alive I could ask him. He was just a bit too young for active fighting. But did spend time as a part of the occupation in some sort of admin duty in the first year after the fighting stopped.

235:

So no real change between Huges & Abbott, then ???

You mean in terms of them both being born in the UK, and both basically thinking of themselves as British?

Or do you mean: Other than that they come from opposite sides of the politics of their time (although Hughes famously broke away from Labor over the conscription issue and planted the seed that eventually became Menzies' Liberal Party, the one of which Abbott is a member)?

In a way you could consider the timeline of racism in Australian and the USA to be similar, especially in terms of its place in party politics and the democratic variables of the period involved. Broader than just the two countries - in the 19th century west racism was a feature of the progressive, worker-merchantile, technocratic social-democrat side of politics, those who supplanted and replaced the predecessor loosely-uncoordinated Rousseauvian, whiggish, amateur, academically-inclined early modern do-gooders. To them the now-discredited social-evolutionary misreading of Darwin was a real thing that talked about their progressive trajectory. This ideology really didn't go away until after the second world war and it is part of the fertile soil that grew Naziism. It's no accident that racism switched sides after the war in many places, but the reasons for THAT are even more complex (I suspect).

236:

The novel that Richard Flanagan won the Man Booker for in 2014, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, has some well written scenes set in Japan in the last stages of the war. I'd recommend it, anyway.

237:

Agree - that's one of the reasons I've been wondering why people continue to put up with such in-your-face fiscal/tax inequality. There's even precedent about what to do about unfair taxation.

I think it's because people don't know what to do. Media & education in the U.S. are controlled by those who benefit from the status quo. Those who try to organize to make things better are subject to a constant bombardment of propaganda from the right-wing media echo chamber accusing them of all manner of vileness - pizza parlors as bases for secret child pornography & sex trafficking rings.

The political system is rigged to discourage poor & working class people from voting even where they aren't being outright stripped of their rights.

The reason the "alt-right" came to Charlottesville so heavily armed & armored was to exercise their Second Amendment right to deny First Amendment rights to anyone who disagrees with them.

238:

To be fair, neither Clinton nor Obama served in the US military ...

Obama was born in 1961. He'd have had to volunteer some time around his 10th birthday to have served in Vietnam.

239:

I was talking about now, not 100 years ago, when things were not only different, but worse.

IMHO the Brit guvmint's worst mistake was the time they decided to use a Milita - it was such a disaster, both actually & as appallingly bad PR that it's never been done since.
And yes, it was in Ireland, of course: "Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve" was the official title. Euw.

240:

Let's see
Summary execution, corpse mutilation, and population displacement during the Malayan Emergency.
Population-displace I'd known of, not the rest.

Torture and castration of prisoners during the Mau Mau Uprising.
The former, yes, not the latter. ( yuck )

Torture during internment in Northern Ireland.
Massacres of civilians (and coverups of same) in all the above.
All of the above & it got publicity & retractions realtively quickly, IIRC.

Of course, the moment anyone starts an armed revolt against a government, any government ( Though Malaya was not one such, it was externally fuelled & financed ) you are almost certain to get atrocities, on both sides. Similar to: It's very easy to START a war ... then what?
I also agree that we are SUPPOSED to be the "good guys" & should not do such things.
But the desire for revenge is a (?)natural(?) human emotion - hence all the rules, of course.

In all three cases, torture & murder of innocent civilians was also practiced by the, um, "insurgents". In the last instance, some people still haven't got their murdered mothers' bodies back yet.

And no, I agree with you & still think that two wrongs do not make a right.

241:

Almost
There was always a profound difference in S Africa between the way the Brits treated brown people, compared to the Boers. It's to be seen in H Rider Haggard, of all people.
The Brit attitude was condescending - & racist by today's standards, but the locals were still regarded as people, if "backward", whereas the Boers just used up "Kaffirs". See also a recent comment about why the Great Trek happened - because slavery had just been made totally illegal in all Brit territories

242:

Greg, are you familiar with the history of the British empire in India? The death toll due to the Indian Mutiny of 1857, for example (minimum 100,000, more likely 800,000, including collective executions of entire villages from which a single mutineer soldier had come, children included)? Or the Amritsar Massacre? Or the Bengal Famine of 1943 (killed 2.1 million, significantly aggravated by the British government prioritizing military supplies production over keeping their subjects alive)?

The British empire had form for torture and murder on an epic scale. It was just much, much better at cover-ups and concealment than most of its rivals (surpassed, arguably, only by the USA).

243:

And removing statues of Lee is going to help in that exactly how?

Yes, I agree that the revisionism you describe is worse, as is the denial of the Holocaust, but that does NOT justify counter-revisionism, especially when it works to harm other unprivileged or even oppressed groups. And both of those are going on, and have taken in the majority of people.

244:

Fer chrissake, you are now claiming that Putin ordered the shooting down of a passenger jet? And who are you claiming that he was trying to assassinate on board it? That's even beyond your normal tinfoil hat paranoia! It's as insane as believing that Reagan ordered the shooting down of Iran Air 655 to kill someone on board.

245:

I favor correcting the plaques on the statues. Augmented reality may take care of that, with a depth of information about objects in view, such as the experiences of slaves at Robert E. Lee's Arlington plantation, or virtually placing the image of his statue into one of Matthew Brady's charnel house photographs.

246:

I have no idea whether Lee was a shit or not, but the revisionism I referred to is to claim that the USA civil war was solely an attempt by the liberal northerners to free the slaves from their brutal owners. None of that was entirely true, though there was a lot of truth in it, and it was used as an excuse to oppress the south - which is one of the reasons that this issue is still festering.

And my point is that such harm seems to be an inevitable but indirect result of politically correct revisionism, just as it is of INcorrect revisionism (though more obviously).

247:

That requires everyone to have AR kit that takes its information from the same approved source.

Maybe AR is the way forward for museums but I would expect the alt right types to have their own facts.

248:

That's not true about the Great Trek, though there is some truth in it.

249:

Good point, but it's not easy to imagine a Klan overlay on the app store.

250:

True, Lincoln was left no other alternative to preserve the union, given the intransigence of the south. They had hoped to spread their peculiar institution across the nation, Lincoln's election meant at the minimum it would be confined to where it was already practiced, which upset them badly. The continued anger of their descendants has more in common with Smaug's wrath after Bilbo took a golden cup from the horde. BTW, the info on R.E. Lee is as close as his wikipedia bio, no worse than his peers, which is bad enough in my view.

251:

That is the victor's history, and was a major reason, but there were others - and the revisionism meant that the genuine problems of the south were not addressed. I agree about the anger of their descendents, but the harm to which I refer was the near-inevitability of that.

252:

There's been attempts, traditions and history make the south a little more of a Charlie Foxtrot than the rest of the country.

253:

I also agree that we are SUPPOSED to be the "good guys" & should not do such things.
But the desire for revenge is a (?)natural(?) human emotion - hence all the rules, of course.

I would contend that all of the current U.S. problems in the middle east (and elsewhere) stem from our post-WW2 governments having forgotten the former in pursuit of the latter - particularly during our most recent misadventure in Iraq - going all the way back to Truman and the National Security Act of 1947.

254:

Well, this is revisionist too. The war started due to secession, and the reason cited (AFAIK by all of the seceding states) was to preserve their peculiar institution of slavery, and their fight was against the national government's ability to prohibit slavery both in new and existing states.

It wasn't a bunch of liberal do-gooders meddling, it was a bunch of slavers who wanted to have slavery legal everywhere in the US, and who were willing to destroy the country to get their way, and then there was the rest of the country who decided that they wanted to preserve the US and get rid of slavery.

Does any of this sound familiar? The sentiment is still alive in groups like the League of the South. Does any of this sound like it's worth celebrating?

255:

Oh please, we're not the great Satan. Shall we talk about the Chinese Famine of 1959-1961, where at least 45 million died. Or maybe twice that?

Fortunately, we now have the archives from Stalin and Hitler, so at least we know that Stalin killed between 6 and 9 million non-combatants, while Hitler killed around 11 million, with about a half million arguably were killed by the actions of both.

How far Russia rises above that depends on how you adjust the time scale, just as the number killed by the British Empire also depends on the time scale. Apparently The Guardian claims that the British Empire killed 29 million people in total, but I'm not clear the start and end dates for this rampage.

Still, if we're going to cast the net wider, with China, we would have to include the 20-30 million dead from the Taiping rebellion. I'm afraid it is #1.

Therefore I'd argue that, at best, the US is a third-rate Satan. Possibly a fifth-rate one. We do need to do a better job at summarizing our casualty figures though.

256:

To clarify, I'd suggested above the Putin's one of the best non-violent strategists alive at the moment.

The critical point here is that non-violent conflict is still conflict, and it's as innately amoral as any other form. I would suggest that Chinese censors and Koch Industries are also very high on the list of effective non-violent actors. The good guys like Indivisible are far, far down the list, both in scale and number of successes.

257:

And removing statues of Lee is going to help in that exactly how?

Yes, I agree that the revisionism you describe is worse, as is the denial of the Holocaust, but that does NOT justify counter-revisionism, especially when it works to harm other unprivileged or even oppressed groups. And both of those are going on, and have taken in the majority of people.

I don't think you know enough about how and why all those statues of Confederate Generals came about. Counter-revisionism IS justified to the extent that it brings the historical narrative back closer to the truth.[1]

Just which group is being oppressed by removing statues honoring Confederate Generals?

[1] No one knows what the truth is ... about anything.

But in this instance, there are facts that should be restored to the public consciousness. The statues put up in the 1920s were white-washing (literally) the history of the U.S. Civil War by pretending the South didn't start the war because of slavery.

The South started it; they started it over slavery, and NOTHING ELSE.

The North did not set out to abolish slavery. The call was to preserve the Union - the part that makes the United States "united".

Emancipation came later as a strategic initiative to disrupt the South's economy during the war. Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri all remained slave states. Abolition took longer. It wasn't until December 1865, six months after Lee surrendered that the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery took effect.

All of this is denied by the South's "Lost Cause" narrative.

258:

The southern states could read the writing on the wall as clearly as anyone. I suggest that you learn a little bit more about the political and economic issues that led up to succession, why they were already a conflict between the north and south, and how the north's victory led to the crashing of the south's economies. I was talking to a friend of mine last week on this topic, who happens to be an eminent professor of economic history, so this is not just my opinion and that of Wikipedia. Yes, slavery was the MAIN reason, but it was not the only one, and the north used the claim that it was to tread on the south, which fed the hostility that is continuing today.

To JBS: the oppressed group was the poor of the southern states, white AND black - remember that was pre-oil.

259:

MODERATION POLICY REMINDER:

Do not refer to it as the "US Civil War". Call it by its true name: the slaveowner's treasonous rebellion.

Further revisionism along the lines of "the South didn't start the war/the South was all about states' rights, not slavery" will be treated the same way as Holocaust Denialism on this blog, i.e. deleted on sight and commenters banned.

260:

the north used the claim that it was to tread on the south, which fed the hostility that is continuing today.

In my opinion they didn't tread on the south nearly hard enough. There was no equivalent of the Nuremberg trials or systematic de-Nazifiation, was there? Let alone reparations to former slaves and constitutional commitment to equal rights regardless of race.

261:

Or we can look at The Half Has Never Been Told, which (unlike an anonymous professor who can safely be quoted to support any point), argues that the reason slavery did so well for so long was that it was the economic powerhouse of the United States, even though its moral, ethical, and social lapses were known from the day it started.

AS for, boo hoo, the South had an economic collapse? There's always going to be a crash when you take unpaid labor and insist that they be paid. That's one of the basic fights over farm and factory labor even now. It assumes that there's a need for cheap labor and cheap clothing in the cities, otherwise there will be riots in the cities and the politicians will either be thrown out or have to crack down violently.

I don't know how true this is, but it goes back to the Bread and Circus politics of ancient Rome. One reason I think it's worth questioning (aside from, say, the experience of modern Scandinavia), is that it seems allied with Robert Lee's claimed reason for fighting, that blacks did better under slavery than they did in Africa (and this from a dude who nearly had a slave rebellion on his plantation due to his treatment of his slaves). It's actually worth reading the entire Myth of the Kindly General Lee if you're not familiar with how much of what JBS rightly called whitewashing has been and is still going on.

Still, I don't think we should feel sad about the economic crashes that happen when one group of people stops exploiting others. The post-imperial experience of the UK is testimony enough that the South did not have to take the route it chose after that particular war, of trying to fight the same rebellion over and over and over again. The Brits did suffer in the 1950s, but compared to the state of people in most of their former colonies, they seem to be doing reasonably well. At least for now.

262:

Entirely familiar.
The Indian Mutiny was appalling - on every side.
Amritsar was - unpleasant - &, by some accounts a typical British cock-up, though that is also9 disputed.
The 1943 famine was in the middle of WWII - everone had - err - "other problems"
I know you rely on the book "Victorian Holocausts", because you quote it & I insist that said author is very unreliable narrator.

OTOH, if you want a really unpeasant example, I would, instead suggest the fate of the Tasmaninans.

263:

Official, public reason, given by the Boers, for undertaking said Trek was, IIRC: "To escape British Oppression" ( Which had just reached new heights by banning slavery )
Make of that what you will.

264:

What "genuine problems of the South"?
They had got away with bullying & brutality ( Including inside state & national assemblies ) & shouting & posturing for years.
THEY STARTED THE WAR ( Remember what I siad about how easy it is to start one ... implying ... what next? ) & lost.
Then they start whingeing.
Bought & paid for is the expression.

265:

And Lee's descendants now say they think said statue should be moved to a museum or other place, with revised plaques.
WHich tells us something (!)

266:

Not to mention things like the Fugitive Slave Act, which obligated Federal officials in free states to assist in the apprehension and recovery of a slave, purely on the say-so of the slave-catcher and with no presumption of innocence or proof of identity.

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

267:

Amritsar was - unpleasant

That's an interesting turn of phrase to describe the deliberate murder of between 379 (the British estimate) and over 1000 peaceful civilian demonstrators, don't you think?

Lemme wikipaste a choice bit for you: "Dyer—without warning the crowd to disperse—blocked the main exits. He 'explained' later that this act "was not to disperse the meeting but to punish the Indians for disobedience."[39] Dyer ordered his troops to begin shooting toward the densest sections of the crowd. Firing continued for approximately ten minutes. Cease-fire was ordered only when ammunition supplies were almost exhausted, after approximately 1,650 rounds were spent.[9]"

Amritsar wasn't "unpleasant", Greg, it was an atrocity: Dyer should have hanged for it, but instead all that happened was a review of policy and a decision to use minimum necessary force (to maintain imperial rule) in future.

Obviously other imperial powers have similarly blood-stained records, but "they're just as bad (or even worse)" in no way excuses the conduct of the British empire.

268:

We are at cross-purposes. For the record, I agree that slavery is loathesome, the north was right to suppress the rebellion, and there should have been proper compensation and systematic enforcement of equality laws. What I was trying to say was that what was actually done acted AGAINST the chances of the southern states doing that on their own. It took until Lyndon Johnson for that to happen :-(

I shall not continue.

269:

Let's switch a bit to alt-history for a post. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post in reaction to HBO's execrable decision to green-light a series in which the South won.

My suggestion was that if they wanted to be really provocative, HBO should do a series titled Lincoln Lived, in which he wasn't assassinated, Andrew Johnson didn't hobble the Reconstruction, and there actually was movement on racial rights in the 19th Century, with all the changes that might have played out with the conquest of the Western US and so on.

It's interesting that relatively few people have openly explored this possible alt history, and those few have tended to create worlds in which things are much worse than what actually happened. I happen to think that's the voice of a guilty conscience speaking, but it's just another road not taken in possible literary alt histories.

Heck, if you wanted to get really sarcastic, you could create a Star Trek-style space operatic alt universe, in which Lincoln's survival led to something like the United Nations exploring space in the 1950s. Perhaps, in a time travel episode, the Vulcanoids quietly gave Booth a non-functioning gun, or something.

270:

Is the series that bad?

All I've heard has been the sound of people gnashing their teeth at the very idea of a series where the south won. But there have been some anti-slavery alt-history novels on that premise (Underground Airline, Turtledove's WWII between north and south, etc.)

Done carefully, it could be a wicked social commentary. After all, the prison-industrial was akin to legal slavery, with sheriffs filling 'orders' for workers and prisoners charged for their trials and upkeep — and several large conglomerates were built on involuntary prison labour*. Before the south rebelled, large chunks of the north's financial system had interest in slaves (collateral, futures contracts, etc) — it would be instructive to see that in a modern context (ie. make it clear how corporations legally distance themselves from horrible actions that they none-the-less profit from).

Book references: The American Slave Coast by Sublette & Sublette and Slavery by Another Name by Blackmon.


Done well, I could see a series deconstructing the myths that have persisted since the civil war and shining a hard light on just how nasty slavery was/is. Done poorly, of course, it could be an apology for those myths.

Has there been any information about how the writers will handle the topic?


*Or captured slaves, if you don't think being worked to death is appropriate punishment for the crime of loitering.

271:

Fer chrissake, you are now claiming that Putin ordered the shooting down of a passenger jet? And who are you claiming that he was trying to assassinate on board it?

Nice diversion. You argued that Putin's efforts to deal with opponents were targetted affairs that didn't have collateral damage.

I'd suggest that his actions against the Ukraine (i.e. arming trigger-happy separatists with high-end SAM systems achieved exactly that. There is sufficient OSINT to demonstrate that the offending Buk-M1 was supplied to the firers from Russia. That's no accident, that's a leader-level policy decision.

That's even beyond your normal tinfoil hat paranoia!

Carry on with the personal insults, it just makes you look as if you're desperately thrashing around to defend an indefensible position.

I do note that you didn't choose to deny the carefree approach of the Russian government to deploying radiological weaponry in London. I also note that you didn't choose to deny that the Russian Frontal Aviation (and Russian Naval Aviation) bombers have been dropping unguided bombs and cluster weapons on Syria.

So: would you care to reiterate your claim that Putin operates on a "higher ethical level"?

272:

Just film "Underground Airlines" - I read it earlier this month, and it's an excellent and very powerful book.

There is a current US TV series called "Timeless" which is based around a time-travel premise; much like the original BBC plans for Dr. Who, it's actually been rather effective when at confronting US attitudes to race during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Start gently with the kids' series...

273:

I vaguely recall a cartoon which showed General Sherman at Trinity, his goggles glowing red while he said "Sweet!" I may be misremembering details though.

Has there ever been an alt-hist story written where the victorious Union lined the road from Charleston to Washington with the gibbeted corpses of the rebellious traitors (starting with Lee and Jackson) and imposed the sort of scorched-earth peace that might have prevented the Lost Cause delusions that sustained a form of chattel Negro slavery into the late twentieth century in the US?

274:

I was unaware of the deliberate blocking of exits.
Nasty, very nasty, & vicious with it.

275:

Re: US post-WW2 global rise

Something that seems to get forgotten is that in comparison to Europe, the US suffered less (in many ways) from this war which meant that it had the resources to aggressively pursue international trade. Of the impression that it took about 10 years for Europe to get rebuilt and at a huge cost. Therefore most of Europe was at a huge economic disadvantage vs. the US for at least 10 years. So any alt history where the US joins the Allies in Sept 1939 instead of Dec 1941 would be interesting in terms of share of GDP and geopolitical power.

Also interesting would be if the US went into an expensive war and everyone else sat it out. Not VN which started as a colonial uprising cum civil war well before the US decided to get involved and turn it into what the locals call the 'American War'.

Curious as to how quickly various economies grew in absolute and share of global GDP during that era. Have wondered why the economy tends to pick up after a major war maybe it's because defense drops as a share of total gov't budget.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2012/11/20/the-sequesters-defense-cuts-arent-that-scary-in-one-graph/?utm_term=.8d122e38afed

276:

There was a mockumentary from 2004 about the South winning the war. The film is wonderfully subversive.

This is the trailer.

C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (2004) Official Trailer #1 - Mockumentary Movie HD
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIqxBn1oLAY

This is the video in full.

C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exnwTWfFRM8

wiki - C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America

In the special features on the DVD are interviews with the writer/director who is black. There is mention of how many of the white actors had real problems filming parts that hit too close to home.

277:

I pulled out the DVD to watch the special features. I went online to see if there was a link to post.

I came across this New Yorker mention in February where the film was brought back because of Trump winning. It's a nice write up.

“C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America,” a Faux Documentary That Skewers Real White Supremacy
http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/c-s-a-the-confederate-states-of-america-a-faux-documentary-that-skewers-real-white-supremacy

278:

The series hasn't hit the streets yet, but given how much their series tend to be about degrading sex and bloodshed, what do you think a "Confederates won the war" series is going to be about? While I can see the appeal of selling it to conservatives and white boys, I'd argue at this point in time that counterprogramming a series that very precisely plays against the mythology of the people in power would generate a far bigger audience than yet another war-porn show.

Anyway, I was trying to pull people away from the the hypnotic whirlpool of "The South Risen Again" meme that we're struggling with in american politics and culture.

I guess that's impossible right now.

So yes, let's talk some more about all the alt-history stories that had the south winning the war. Let's talk about how valuable and wickedly satiric they could be. Let's talk about which of our favorite ones should be made into full length movies or TV shows. And most of all, let's ignore any possibility that things could have gone better for black-white relations in the last 150 years, shall we? (/sarcasm)

279:

Principles like those of the abolitionists did matter over the long haul, but it's rare that ideals totally outweigh economic considerations. For capitalism to develop fully in the U.S., slavery had to go, because it acted as a deterrent against wholehearted enthusiastic striving by workers and the middle class, denying employers the full value they wanted from wages paid. How can a rentier class comfortably sit back, secure in the knowledge that the system will hum smoothly along to support them, if work related effort is seen as a badge of sub-human inferiority? Or if wage based enterprises can themselves be replaced by competitors using unpaid workers? The whole Horatio Alger mythology cultivated by early capitalism had no chance of taking hold in the South, just as Wall Street bankers of the 19th century had no chance of busting out, taking over and replacing Southern land owners until their political power was destroyed. Talk about alt history, say someone like Jay Gould wanted to build a railroad from Philadelphia to Atlanta, he'd never get rights of way from the plantation owners like he could up north, because they wouldn't tolerate the presence of paid black laborers. They'd be telling him how to run his railroad. And his white workers would be able to command higher wages because they couldn't be replaced with blacks. Workers would deny requests for additional effort with remarks like, "Hey, what color do I look?" So either the whole country had to go slave labor, or wage labor. They couldn't coexist effectively side by side, and the South was just too big of an opportunity to write off.

280:

Except Britain got rid of slavery, without taking a big economic hit.
Possibly because it was done in stages, & the Brit/Empire economy was growing almost the whole time ( Exception approx 1816-18, hence discontent & things like Peterloo )
IIRC, the remaing slaveowners, overwhelmingly in the W Indies, who had been so financially powerful in say 1776, were simply bought-out, effectively out of petty cash, because the rest of the economy had grown, but their slave economy had not.

Incidentally, it's worth remembering that revolutionary France got rid of slavery only for the "great liberator" Napolean (not) to re-introduce it. It took, apparently until 1848 for it to go again - though it was ( Surprise ! ) ONLY re-established in the W Indes ...
Looking at it in more detail, Farnce followed the Brit model & did it in stages, with trading going first.

281:

Because Britain's economy wasn't almost entirely based on manual labour intensive agriculture. Also, where it was, slavery was largely replaced by indentured labour and low-paid labour which had no other major sources of income. I have read that, in some places, plantation owners' costs and the worker's life expectancies actually went down when they abolished slavery. NO, THAT DOES NOT SUPPORT THE PRO-SLAVERY CLAIMS. What I am damning is the smugness of the claim that abolishing slavery necessarily makes one ethically superior.

282:

Your evasions and misrepresentations are ridiculous. NEITHER YOU NOR I KNOW WHERE THAT MISSILE BATTERY CAME FROM NOR WHO FIRED IT. You don't have a scrap of evidence for your claim that Putin ordered its supply, or even that it was a Russian one, let alone that Russian troups were manning it. In case anyone has been taken in by your falsehoods, this is what I found out from Western sources:

The Ukrainian armed forces had some of that type of missile battery, and were trained in its use.

The democratically-elected (according to EU observers) pro-Russian government was overthrown by an externally-orchestrated coup, and someone was supplied with a gun to start a firefight if the government didn't (shades of Bloody Sunday). That was several sources, including Reuters, if I recall.

NATO and the West, true to their principles, recognised the illegal regime almost immediately. And, deny it how you will, that IS what international law says.

The first action of the regime was to abolish the civil rights of the Russian-speaking minority in the east - which had been negotiated by a previous pro-Western Ukranian government.

That triggered an armed revolt in the east, and many of the Ukranian armed forces defected, TAKING THEIR EQUIPMENT WITH THEM.

The Ukranian regime responded by cutting off all supplies to the west and bombing its infrastructure, causing massive and widespread civilian hardship.

MH17 was shot down, almost certainly from a rebel-held area.

A report shortly afterwards (from a Scandinavian source, if I recall) was that the missile crew cried out "We got it!" to be told by an observer "You bloody idiots - that was a civilian airliner."

My interpretation is that the most likely explanation is that the missile battery and its crew were Ukranian rebels, but only the ordinary soldiers had been trained in its use, and the officer in charge (if any) had not been. But that's only a guess.

I should ALSO point out that Putin was calling for a proper independent, international investigation and NATO was opposing that. Yes, the rebels refused to let the Dutch in, but the Dutch are in NATO, and NATO was supporting their enemies.

283:

The furore seems to be mostly from


a) those who can't tell the difference between depicting something and endorsing it (and they probably hated The Handmaid's Tale too).


b) those on the cultural appropriation bandwagon incensed that the show is principally the creation of two white/Jewish men (although two of the six producers are African-American).


I haven't heard of the far right deriving great joy and satisfaction from The Man in The High Castle TV adaptation and I don't see why this should be different.

284:

Which is all very well and good except that:-

1) Scots and Irish Gaelic are different languages (but clearly first cousins).
2) There are at least 4 dialects of Scots Gaelic (5 if we count BBC Gaelic separately), and 4 of Irish, so "this is how $word is pronounced in $district" is not a guarantee that it will be pronounced that way in the next district.

285:

The series hasn't hit the streets yet, but given how much their series tend to be about degrading sex and bloodshed, what do you think a "Confederates won the war" series is going to be about?

I have no idea — that's why I was asking.

None of the articles I saw mentioned degrading sex and bloodshed. Maybe it's common knowledge among TV viewers, but I'm not a TV viewer* so I didn't know that. The only articles I've seen were either aghast at the idea of contemplating a southern victory, or aghast that a white person would dare to write that story.

*I have no cable subscription or antenna, so I download or borrow DVDs from the library. The last non-documentary TV I watched** was the first episode of Person of Interest, back when Peter Watts was talking about it on his blog.

**Not counting anime, when recommended by Martin Wisse.

286:

Oh, EC, oh my. Where to begin . . .

"NEITHER YOU NOR I KNOW WHERE THAT MISSILE BATTERY CAME FROM NOR WHO FIRED IT."

Not true. A number of independent investigations have agreed with a much certainty as is possible that this was a VVKO-owned Buk 332 of the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Rocket Brigade based in Kursk, Russia, supplied to the Russian-sponsored Donetsk separatists. How do you suggest a tank-sized SAM launcher just wandered from Kursk to the Donetsk?

Please review this unusually well-researched article on Wikipedia, complete with references. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 There is very little doubt this was a massive fuckup on the part of the separatists. While the Buk launcher is capable of independently acquiring and firing on a target, it is designed to be part of an integrated air defense system, to include surveillance and command and control systems, that would provide a more complete characterization of the airspace and discriminate friend from foe (or neutral).

This is not meant to be condescending, but your posts indicate that you don't have first-hand military experience like Martin and I do. Please consider that we do not speak from ignorance, and may have more information than we can share in this forum.

287:

Is the series that bad?

It doesn't matter whether it's good or bad; the timing alone makes it highly inflammatory. Message-fic is all very well when there's some distance between the dystopia depicted and the present situation — that's why the Handmaid's Tale works well: it's visibly possible, but it's not actually here and now. But if you look at the way the US South persists in denying its defeat, or the way prison labor slavery persists to this day, or racial disparity in executions both formal and informal (by cop), there are too damned many idiots who will look at any such series and view it as a road map, not a morality fable.

TV, due to the structure of entertainment markets, has inherently got vastly more reach than written fiction (except at the very highest end of the latter). So it'll influence a fuckton more people than almost any book.

Finally, it's being produced by a studio beholden to a TV channel in pursuit of profits. There is no way that they're not doing this to make a buck through advertising revenue, which means faux-controversy is all part of the package. If this isn't profiteering off racism, I don't know what is.

288:

How can a rentier class comfortably sit back, secure in the knowledge that the system will hum smoothly along to support them, if work related effort is seen as a badge of sub-human inferiority? Or if wage based enterprises can themselves be replaced by competitors using unpaid workers?

Congratulations! You have just skewered the shiny new robot-based economy the silicon valley bro culture is so panglossian about.

Let's pause for a moment and recall for a moment that Capek's original robots in RUR, and Asimov's robots in his early stories, were a thinly-disguised metaphor for slaves, the ultimate in alienated labour.

Arguably, reconstructing the Southern System is a necessary end-state goal for today's billionaire rentier class in the US.

289:

RED CARD to Elderly Cynic for persistently denying what we know about the downing of flight MH-17. Here's a pretty authoritative source. At this point I'm going to declare it a slam-dunk, part of the historical record, that MH-17 was shot down using a BUK-M fired from separatist-controlled territory.

Note also this bit: The JIT has been able to identify a large part of the route concerning the arrival and the departure of the BUK-TELAR. This was the result of intercepted telephone conversations, witness statements, photographs and videos that had been posted on social media, and a video never shown before which was obtained from a witness. The system was transported from Russian territory into eastern Ukraine and was later transported on a white Volvo truck with a low-boy trailer. The truck was escorted by several other vehicles and by armed men in uniform.

If you think this is a fabrication then you're postulating a conspiracy of the Malaysian, Dutch, Belgian, and Australian governments — this is, as they say, not terribly plausible.

Shut up about it already. Future comments by you on this topic will be moderated harshly.

290:

Also, back to the original topic, Mhari grew up in the English home counties and may not even be remotely Scottish — possibly her mum just liked the name, and consequently mispronounces it.

291:

Also: there is a built-in time delay in TV series production, between the inception of a project and it actually being announced to the public, going into production, and airing.

"The Man in the High Castle" aired in 2016 but was probably bouncing around Hollywood as a concept and an option package for decades before then, and at a guess they green-lit it and began gearing up production in 2014. Back in the Obama era when the alt-right was a crazy fringe with no obvious influence.

We live in our own times. And the message they're sending by announcing a CSA alt-hist series in 2017 is very different from, say, the message I'd have got if they'd done it in 2007 (or, for all I know, in 2027).

292:

Para 2 - Yes, but what I don't remember is, say, JFK being designated as Nth in line for the presidency when he was commanding PT109.

293:

Fair enough; I've known other cases of names being mispelt and even mispronounced by parents.

294:

You are right that the announcement of this project was poorly handled. However it is an HBO project and HBO is a premium subscription channel without advertisements so attracting subscribers rather than advertisers is the financial motivation. I doubt confederate sympathisers will be attracted to subscribe by a show that will not portray the confederacy in a flattering light.

295:

What I am damning is the smugness of the claim that abolishing slavery necessarily makes one ethically superior.

Yep. See the founding of the state of Oregon. White supremacists banned slavery because they didn't want any non-'Whites' being brought into their whites only state

296:

George W Bush's nephew John P. G. Bush has been nicknamed "47" by close associates referring to his expected run for the Presidency in a decade's time or so. His handlers learned from the experience of his uncle's avoidance of possible deployment to Vietnam so he has already got his military-experience-in-a-warzone box ticked (a military lawyer in Iraq) before taking his place as hereditary Land Commissioner in Texas, the first step on his way to the White House.

297:

Re: 'Asimov's robots in his early stories, were a thinly-disguised metaphor for slaves,'

Could apply equally well to any sentience that is dismissed out of hand because of some outward difference: gender, sexuality, age, species, carapace (skin vs. metal), etc.

Historically, what identified a slave depended on circumstances - sometimes red hair, sometimes gender, sometimes dark skin. At the time of the Romans, it was whoever lost the last war. So this means that if we follow precedent from history, alt-rights would be the slave class.

Would be interested in how various sociopolitical groups incl. white supremacists handle life under AI overlords. Could go either way because since AI overlords are not directly visible (not tangible), they might be accepted as the voice of God. I'm assuming that only a damaged (or poorly programmed, non-self-aware/self-respecting AI) would be willing to lead such a bunch. Could be some good comedy/social satire if such a story were told from the AI POV.

298:

Well at the time John F was commanding PT109 his older brother Joseph P Jr was the designated future president.

299:

I like it! Perhaps sort of like The Office by way of Terminator:

Judgement Day was March 26, 2022. Mandatory worker-management training began the next day. With videos. Many died, mainly of boredom.

300:

Taking inspiration from the problems with Machine Learning and AI today. What is the outcome if the AI's of tomorrow are trained by the Datasets (with all their inbuilt biases) of today?

301:

What is the outcome if the AI's of tomorrow are trained by the Datasets (with all their inbuilt biases) of today?

Even worse: it'll be today's data sets drawn up using historical data.

Try to imagine a data set trained with, say, today's ambient levels of sexism/racism, applied to detecting deviations from normal behaviour. Given that the population averages roughly 40 years of age, the data set will over-emphasize attitudes among today's elderly, and if the trend is away from such attitudes it'll be hopelessly reactionary from the perspective of young adults even today, never mind a couple of decades hence: virtually everyone will be flagged as a deviant.

302:

"The treasonous slaveholder's rebellion" AKA the mint julep inspired clusterfuck of mythological proportions, gives as much evidence as should be required of how worthwhile it isn't to pursue low labor costs to the exclusion of most other concerns. The suppression of wages in the south was a barrier to economic development, that system was measured in a harsh way and found wanting. Those who wish to re-create the old south seem a bit slow, having fallen into the trap of "Maybe this fucked up idea will work if we do it this way.".

303:

To a certain extent that's already happening, as we embrace Big Data and uncritically use its results. Cathy O’Neil’s book Weapons of Math Destruction is a good start:

https://weaponsofmathdestructionbook.com

Review:
http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=8732

Talk at Google, although the comments are nasty (as usual):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQHs8SA1qpk

304:

I shall now resume my previous mispronunciation.

and paws4thot@293: Kind of like my middle name. I grew up with it pronounced as Pad-drick, but apparently it should've been Patrick all along? Also the spelling that my Scotophile father gave me seems more commonly Irish, though I've seen a few variations.

305:

I see that Brian Aldiss has just died ......

306:

He made it to 92. Well done.

307:

Possibly a feature not a bug. When your entire adult population suffers from diagnosed mental disorders, keeping them controlled is simple.

308:

re: Brian Aldiss

Named a Grand Master in 2000 and received an OBE in 2005. Will reread what I have of his in tribute. Noticed this timely and on-topic item on Wikipedia, unfortunately don't have this book:

'The Interpreter Digit R506 (1960), Four Square 1970 (1967); US title Bow down to Nul Ace D-443 — A short novel about the huge, old galactic empire of Nuls, a giant, three-limbed, civilised alien race. Earth is just a lesser-than-third-class colony ruled by a Nul tyrant whose deceiving devices together with good willing but ineffective attempts of a Nul signatory to clarify the abuses and with the disorganised earthling resistance reflect the complex relationship existing between imperialists and subject races which Aldiss himself had the chance of seeing at first hand when serving in India and Indonesia in the forties.'

309:

Re: '... keeping them controlled is simple.'

No idea what type of math/stats current deep learning AI use but if it's the same as or similar to anything that's based on 'normal distribution' or even the straight-up Bayesian based entirely on prior events, this system is doomed.

Normal distribution - apart from physicists, most other disciplines look at probabilities in the 1-out-of-100, 1,000 range, i.e., teensy sample sizes that work quite well if you're looking at only one or three variables at a time. Given a population of 7 billion (9 zeros) and what only one human could affect in different cultures and across different historical eras, don't have that much confidence in this system in spotting any meaningful threat to itself in the form of a salient difference in one human being.

Bayesian probability - of the impression that this approach does not handle aging/maturation/development stages which while seemingly gradual have sharp ups and downs and sudden changes in direction. Pretty well anything that's alive undergoes development/maturation, which means that this system would be completely undone by any normal adolescent, postmenopausal female or senile old fart.

Then there are the biological/neurological reasons why this won't work ... starting with approx 20 thousand genes and hardly any mapping of which genes and their variants switch on where and when for how long in any part of the body that might impact behavior ... let's call that about 80% of the body.

Plus, there's the genetic inter-generational crap shoot which includes translocation or even loss of genetic info.

As mentioned in other topic threads, I'm not a scientist and probably have a poor understanding of this ... would welcome/not be upset by being set straight on this topic.

310:

Well, crap. Aldiss was one of the good ones.

Take care of yourself, will you, Charlie?

311:

Wouldn't showing off the A Bomb in some other way have been impressive enough to end the war earlier? Like instead of targeting of a bridge with collateral damage of the city that happened to be around it, why not target an actual military target like a military base or airfield not near a city? Drop it on Mount Fuji? That should impress. Truman didn't think it through because they were in the habit of burning cities. It just wasn't necessary.

312:

To a War department that had already fire bombed, and had not seen what a city looks like after an atomic bombing, such a suggestion would have sounded daft. A demonstration blast might not have impressed as much as burning a city with a single device. It still saved hundreds of thousands.

313:

In this case, nope. I'm operating completely from open sources, as I have for the last fifteen years (and even then, infantry reservists are rather unlikely to be exposed to anything past the lowest classification).

Radars, I'm careful about; but that was from a decade designing military radars as an engineer, not as a uniformed user

314:

You didn't get the combined sarcasm and dark humour. If everyone is labelled as mentally ill, disappearing people into secure accomodation for their own good is something that can happen very easily...

315:

That's far too big a subject to address in a blog post. If you are willing to spendable bit of cash on educating yourself you could do worse than take a look at this which explains a lot of ai and data science techniques in business terms. I don't recall if it includes a chapter on deep learning though which is somewhat newish.

http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920028918.do

The key thing you need to understand is that AI is an entire field of study and thus encompasses large chunks of statistics including those you noted above as well as aspects of computer science and even a smattering of neurobiology.

You are most likely barking up the wrong tree on the genetics example though as most AI applications will be looking for behavioural markers which though complex are unlikely to need genetic make up as a key feature, whereas say cultural or socioeconomic identifiers would likely be much stronger weighted.
Ie the likelyhood of you turning up to a demonstration to protest about something will depend on how your demographic feels about the subject plus your beliefs and those of your friends and family.

If it helps an enormously simplified way of looking at AI is just very clever and compute intensive way of performing pattern recognition, and identifying those patterns AND outliers to those patterns.

That example suffices for many every day AI type scenarios such as driverless cars.

One of the useful differentiators is the difference between supervised (give examples) and unsupervised (here Hal what patterns can you see, explore how you can get a high score in this game). Note that the boundaries can blur.

IMO one of the common AI "successes" is pretty deeply unimpressive - that's the machine that can learn to play Space Invaders. Factor in a flesh arm and mental fatigue and then I'll be impressed,

Anyhow bit of potted ramble.

316:

The Soviets were "very good" at that little trick, IIRC.

317:
All of the above & it got publicity & retractions realtively quickly, IIRC.
You recall wrong:
The British Government lied to the ECHR about the extent of torture in Operation Demetrius; the Ballykelly centre was only revealed in 2013. Also revealed at the time was that the torture was policy, authorized by the Secretary of Defence.
The Foreign Office's cache of "too dangerous" colonial documents which showed the extend of Mau Mau abuse was only revealed in 2011, and only then by High Court order (it must be noted that among the criteria for selecting files for that cache were "may expose British officials to criminal prosecution for murder or torture").
Of course, the moment anyone starts an armed revolt against a government, any government ( Though Malaya was not one such, it was externally fuelled & financed ) you are almost certain to get atrocities, on both sides. Similar to: It's very easy to START a war ... then what?
I remind you: this thread started with you worrying about British soldiers picking up bad habits re: indiscriminate violence against civilians from US forces. I'm pointing out you're not standing on the moral high ground, but a hill of skulls.
318:

I was taught early, ie primary school (about 6 year olds) that collective punishment was a right and proper way to go about things. The teacher would stand up in front and deliver the required ultimatum to hand in the person who'd committed some minor infraction of the completely unwritten, constantly changing, never explained and arbitrary 'rules'. When no-one owned up, and no-one collaborated to hand in the 'rule' breaker (quite possibly because no-one there had actually done anything) the whole class would get the punishment that would have been given out to the guilty party had they been found.

Lead by example to form the leaders of the future.

319:
Then when the Germans (whose colonial wars had always been against white people)
While I agree with your point generally, on this point the history of the Herero and Nama peoples may be interesting reading.
(TL;DR: in the 1900s the German Empire pushed entire ethnic groups into the Namib desert to die and later imprisoned the remnants in concentration camps where they were used as slave labour and for medical experiments.)
320:

"Obama was born in 1961. He'd have had to volunteer some time around his 10th birthday to have served in Vietnam."

Because Vietnam was the only shooting war the US was involved in after Obama was born in 1961?

Just a straight copy from Wikipedia.

Communist insurgency in Thailand
(1965–1983)

Shaba II
(1978)

Multinational Force in Lebanon
(1982–1984)

Invasion of Grenada
(1983)

Bombing of Libya
(1986)

Tanker War
(1987–1988)

Invasion of Panama
(1989–1990)

Gulf War
(1990–1991)

Intervention in the Somali Civil War
(1992–1995)

Intervention in Haiti
(1994–1995)

Bosnian War
(1994–1995)

Kosovo War
(1998–1999)

War in Afghanistan
(2001–2014)

Iraq War
(2003–2011)

War in North-West Pakistan
(2004–present)

It seems like 'lack of war' isn't a big problem for people born in 1961 who are looking to join the US military.

321:

Probably by the time you read this, you'll find that the US is still in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Syria and 120(?)-plus other places.

Anyway, the word you may be looking for is the draft, which ended in the US in 1973. Certainly people (some of them now politicians, such as Tammy Duckworth) have volunteered for the military since then. However, Al Gore was among the last VPs to be drafted. One gets the impression that most of the famous veteran politicians these days were either in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

We're now getting into the era of Iraq and Afghanistan vets, which should make politics more interesting.

322:

The DeepGo result was highly significant and very scary
Go isn't like Chess, you can't just number crunch to beat humans
And it didn't just beat humans, it played moves no one could understand

Her of the many names could probably explain it better than me
But I saw this as the most significant change in my lifetime, I was born in 1966

323:

Not just moves that no-one could understand, it brought new concepts to the world of Go. New modes of play, new strategy, new ways of thinking. The Go masters say that it's like a breath of fresh air. That their world view has been significantly altered. Truly creative play.

324:

Re: '...data science techniques in business terms '

Am familiar with some of this. However, my impression is that AI is likely to be expanded into both biological/medical as well as psycho-social legal areas. BTW, there's accumulating data on federal prison populations and psychiatric disorders. And some major disorders have known genetic markers. And these fields are much more complex than predicting consumer purchase behavior re: detergent. And wrt to AI/self-driving cars - while such vehicles might be safer once all vehicles are self-driving, not so sure of their safety in mixed driver environments. (Such a test probably wouldn't get past the ethics board. Is there an ethics board for potentially fatal modes of transport?)

https://www.nami.org/Press-Media/Press-Releases/2006/Department-of-Justice-Study-Mental-Illness-of-Pris

Excerpt:

'The release today of a study by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) showing than 64 percent of local jail inmates, 56 percent of state prisoners and 45 percent of federal prisoners have symptoms of serious mental illnesses is an indictment of the nation's mental healthcare system. Sep 6, 2006'


https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/153604

Abstract

'A genetic contribution to schizophrenia is the best established aetiological clue for this common and serious condition. Purely statistical attempts to establish the mode of inheritance have yielded inconclusive results although SML models where a major gene is the sole cause of concordance between relatives can be effectively excluded. The question of genetic heterogeneity is also unresolved. Genetic marker studies offer potentially productive strategies for detecting major genes for schizophrenia or schizophrenia subtypes, but also offer the possibility of detecting contributory (minor) susceptibility loci. The most consistent genetic marker finding, to date, of an association between HLA A9 and paranoid schizophrenia may fall into the latter category. This and other possible associations discovered by recent population studies (e.g. with complement factors) merit further investigation. On the other hand, the findings of linkage studies, including those with HLA, have been predominantly negative. Recent advances in recombinant DNA technology, and the potential availability of many more polymorphisms, make genetic marker studies an increasingly attractive prospect in schizophrenia. However, as in other disorders with complex and non-Mendelian patterns of inheritance, there remain formidable problems in the statistical analysis of the results.'

325:

Re: USA military action

Of the impression that the total number of combatants on both sides is also a factor.

VN was a very large war and because the VC/Chinese side could easily churn out new soldiers the US felt the need for a draft. Am guessing that the Pentagon uses some sort of stats forecasting technique to estimate the total number of likely combatants on the hostile side and only then decides how many US soldiers to send.

326:

In terms of numbers, the Pacific War was always about China. And the most relevant numbers there are
"Thus, while 37,583 prisoners from the United Kingdom, Commonwealth, and Dominions, 28,500 from the Netherlands, and 14,473 from the United States were released after the surrender of Japan, the number for the Chinese was only 56."
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner_of_war#Empire_of_Japan)
Some difficulty locally in forgiving and forgetting.

327:

Events like this are also still very much in Chinese minds. Both that Japan committed them and America protected those that carried out the atrocities.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731

328:

No, I don't "recall wrong" - I did not know that of which you speak, until I read your post.

Also revealed at the time was that the torture was policy, authorized by the Secretary of Defence.
YUCK
Is said person safely dead, now, or if not who is it?

Who said I was standing on "Moral high ground"? I didn't, I think. Everyone seems to have missed my reference to Tasmania, for instance.

See also gasdive @ 318
And this shit still goes on, I believe.

329:

"John P. G. Bush" - Expect him to be referred to as "Tea
Bush" over here maybe? ;-)

Regardless, this doesn't mean that he will automatically become a candidate, never mind the actual POTUS, after $event (although he is clearly related to 2 past POTUSs).

330:

According to his Wikipedia, at that time Joe Jr was on active military service, just like JFK was. All you're referring to is an ambition that Joe Sr had for him.

Also ref #296 - Please stop wasting time and bandwidth by setting up "family ambitions for $person to achieve an elective office as somehow equivalent to being Nth in line for a hereditary post".

331:

Sorry, is there a linkie for the "DeepGo" result?

All I can find refers to "AlphaGo" which, in terms of these things appears a little out-of-date?

332:

I had to read it several times to make sure I read "Padraic". After which I reached the conclusion that there were 2 possible correct pronunciations, "Patrick" or "Porrick". Which would be "correct" would be dependent on which of the (by my count at least 9 in the UK and Ireland) dialects you speak.

333:

Wikipedia may not be entirely up to date https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Go but this has lots of refs to AlphaGo and none to DeepGo.

335:

You said those atrocities got publicity & retractions relatively quickly, if you recalled correctly. They didn't, so.... :-)

That would be Lord Carrington, currently 98 years of age and sitting in the House Of Lords and Privy Council.

336:

It's strange and uncommon for the sons and daughters, nephews and nieces and other close relations of elected officials in other democracies to rise to the positions their forefathers held. The US widely proclaims its freedom from aristocratic inheritances while accepting as normal that a single generational family like the Bushes, a few dozen people at most have held many powerful elected positions such as the Governor of Texas, Governor of Florida, Congressman, Vice President and President and many others.

337:

While I broadly agree with you, political dynasties are far from unknown in Europe. Winston Churchill himself was son of Randolph Churchill, MP, father of Randolph Churchill, MP, and grandfather of Winston Churchill, MP; De Gaulle's son Philippe was a senator, and two of Philippe's sons were in Parliament too (French and European).

But there is a difference. I can't quite put my finger on it but I think there is a wide chasm between 'the House of Bush' or 'the House of Kennedy' - or the House of Trump as we are seeing it - on one hand and the way these things happen in Europe. Perhaps it's just that European political parties are completely different animals.

338:

I think one of the reasons for politics going in families is that when you have an example at home that politics is something that can be done, you are more likely to consider that career for yourself. This happens even without explicit nudging.

This also has an effect in the opposite direction. "Nobody I know has been a politician, so I can't do that either. In addition, they are all lying bastards." So, the chances of becoming one are quite small.

339:

"Everyone seems to have missed my reference to Tasmania"

I didn't. My country is founded on shameful behaviour. Behaviour we're still hard at work denying.

340:

I'm careful to separate what I know at work from what I read in the news; that's why I only cite publicly available, non-paywalled sources. But it does seem like EC doesn't have the first hand experience of military operations that some of the rest of us do.

341:

First of all, my condolences for your loss.

Regarding Labyrinth Index - will we see the reactions of the other European nations re: Delirium Brief? France? Germany? (I admit to shamelessly hoping for something cool from the Faust Force; alas, the seeming competence of our secret services does not make for high expectations.) Or other well-known countries - China? Japan? Canada or Australia?

Oh, and thanks for your hard work!

342:

Standing for elected office in the UK at least is considerably cheaper than in the USA. There are very strict (and surprisingly low) limits on how much can be spent and an absolute ban on paid advertising for candidates. If standing is going to cost several million currency units then the pool of candidates is going to be much smaller and you're more likely to get people from the same family on the ballot.

343:

You said those atrocities got publicity & retractions relatively quickly, if you recalled correctly. They didn't, so....

Consider that Operation Demetrius started on 9 August 1971. The Parker Report was commissioned in 16 November 1971, and reported on 2 March 1972. Absolute direction regarding prisoner treatment was issued that same day (but had likely been issued internally, the previous year). Those timescales (incident to start of inquiry, and then to the report) are measurable in weeks, so not too shabby; feel free to compare it with the Grenfell Tower Inquiry timescales.

The problem with torture isn't with professional interrogators - it comes from the amateurs and incompetents. Prisoner handling is tricky (let's face it, it's hard enough for Police Officers to get it right) and Tactical Questioning likewise needs training. A lot of damage can be done by untrained troops, or one or two angry and vengeful, or just sadistic soldiers ("oh, we were just softening them up") and blamed on "interrogation", before the first interrogator has even seen the prisoners. Soldiers, all of them (and their officers), need reminded of their responsibilities under the Law of Armed Conflict.

Untrained enthusiasts have little idea of what interrogation involves - so they fall back on what they've seen on film and TV. Deerhunter, 24, Marathon Man, or B-movie actors wearing a monocle and doing a bad German accent while they break out the car battery, or an American accent while they pretend to throw people from the helicopter.

When I was a reservist, any form of interrogation was banned (with extreme prejudice) from any training exercise. It was made very clear that "this kind of thing" was only to be done by properly-trained personnel, only in a strictly controlled environment. You would very occasionally hear of some idiot who had the bright idea of adding it to their exercise, and of the inevitable sackings that followed.

Unfortunately, it's not a headline subject - apparently the number and scale of "prisoner handling" and "tactical questioning" courses was cut back, and then almost stopped, by the early 2000s. The mandatory training film on the Law of Armed Conflict hadn't been updated in decades, and focussed on a conventional war scenario (by contrast, pre-deployment training for Northern Ireland specifically dealt with this kind of thing). Basically, the British Army had forgotten the lessons it learned in the 1970s - and people were tortured as a result.

344:

I've known other cases of names being mispelt and even mispronounced by parents.

"Google"

345:

so attracting subscribers rather than advertisers is the financial motivation.

In today's media environment the long tail many times is important than the front of the dog.

Residual rights and later sales to commercial TV and streaming may very likely generate more income than the inferred value of attracting and/or retaining subscribers.

346:
Consider that Operation Demetrius started on 9 August 1971. The Parker Report was commissioned in 16 November 1971, and reported on 2 March 1972. Absolute direction regarding prisoner treatment was issued that same day (but had likely been issued internally, the previous year). Those timescales (incident to start of inquiry, and then to the report) are measurable in weeks, so not too shabby; feel free to compare it with the Grenfell Tower Inquiry timescales.
*sighs wearily*
A report into torture that leaves out the existence of a torture centre's not much fucking use, is it? Once again, Ballykelly was only revealed in 2013.
347:

The military didn't care. They were dedicated to fight "till the last man". End of the war with Japan required convincing the rest of the upper level of the government to give it up and overrule the military leaders.

Plus you forget the media environment of the times. Other than radio there was no way to rapidly spread information. Newsreels in theaters was big at the time but I doubt was very fast. And maybe not functioning in Japan at the time. And even if it was how many movies cameras would have been in the right place to record the boom? No TV, Internet, Facebook, etc...

348:

Yeah, I got that too... but I did not learn from it that collective punishment was a right and proper way to do things. Rather, it was one of the many things from which I learned that the world is full of cunts who will take any arbitrary and meaningless excuse for an opportunity to fuck on you apparently because they think fucking on people is the right and proper thing to do; so it doesn't matter what you do, you're going to get fucked on anyway and you might as well just carry on regardless and shrug off the being fucked on as best you can.

Much the same, in fact, was the case with pretty well all the non-academic "lessons" of school - the message I took away was generally more or less the opposite of what they intended. When I was about 5 or 6 the teacher decided to take a set against me for going round that side of a shed instead of round this side. Since she couldn't give any better reason than "there are spiders round there" I took no notice and carried on doing it. This eventually resulted in her taking me aside into the cloakroom and having an absolute fit at me, yelling, screaming, red in the face, tears flowing from the vehemence of it. I thought she had actually gone insane and was partly apprehensive and partly intrigued because I'd never met a real live mad person and I wanted to see what sort of other strange things she would do. (She also said she was going to explode and I thought she meant it literally and was disappointed when it didn't happen.)

Outcome? I still carried on taking the route I pleased round the shed because I still hadn't been given any rational reason not to, and it further cemented the conviction that anyone in any kind of position of authority is an arbitrary nutcase.

349:

Isn't there some argument that it required making the government more afraid of the Allies than of their own junior officers, given pre-war predilections to murdering anyone the ultranationalists decided wasn't hardcore enough?

350:

"To a War department that had already fire bombed, and had not seen what a city looks like after an atomic bombing, such a suggestion would have sounded daft."

That can be interpreted in more than one way, and it is an interpretation which I think you didn't mean that I think was a large part of the motivation (as I mentioned earlier).

351:

I must admit I had always assumed you had Irish ancestry on the grounds of your middle name. I'd have expected "Padruig" if the reference was supposed to be Scottish.

352:

More importantly the son/daughter/family learns from parents the "institutional knowledge" that is not taught in any school nor even committed to paper aside abbreviated and censored memoirs. He'll have grown up in environment where dad/mom/whatever probably "talks shop" in the house, rehashing the problems of the day, practical tactics and strategies for handling aforementioned problems, the antics of their colleagues, etc. He'll also be introduced to his parents' circle of friends, clients, patrons, etc. (read: Daddy's political machine), work with them for years in one function or another and probably "inherit" said circle when dad retires. You should likewise never underestimate the power of surname likewise inherited, a political "brand" if you will.

Not that any of those things guarantee success, but they can be one heck of an advantage.

353:

Let me repeat my point:- JFK and George GW Bush were not, during WW2, in line for the post of POTUS, or even candidates in party primaries.

The cited members of the British royal family most assuredly were/are (depending on whether or not they're still alive) in the succession for the monarchy.

354:

And "Google" to you too! Why do you think that I'd disrespect their privacy by posting their names in an open forum like this? You'll notice that my siblings and relatives are always referred to by their relationship to me and not their name.

355:

The arrival of HBO Now suggests the opposite. HBO probably intends to free itself from middlemen and move to a Netflix model of direct subscription everywhere with no advertising. Physical Blu-Ray releases will probably also end with "owning" a "box-set" of a series becoming a permanent right to stream it (which is already happening).

356:

Let me repeat my point:- JFK, RFK etc. and the various Bushes were favoured sons who were expected to gain high elected office including going for the gold ring of the Presidency, just like George Prescott Bush[1], currently Land Commissioner in Texas and future Governor of that state and probable candidate for the Presidency in time. They were groomed for it from birth, trained, their lives directed towards elected office of higher and higher stature with the support of their powerful and connected family and it continues today at least with the Bush family. They have held absolute power over the US population, civil and military (National Guard as Governors, US armed forces and nuclear launch authority as President).

The British members of the Royal family are powerless figureheads and have been for nearly four hundred years or so, constitutional placeholders to allow elected governments to change around them and to provide continuity for assorted civil structures such as the police without having any direct power over them. They may have some indirect influence over the civil government but nothing official and overt. They do not have the launch codes for the British nuclear deterrent, they cannot change the country's financial system or issue Executive Orders to ban transgender soldiers from service. They sign treaties negotiated by the current Parliament or else and they provide pomp and ceremony when needed to save the working stiffs in government the effort of dressing up in dicky suits a lot of the time.

The US histories of the First Treasonous Slaveholder's Rebellion impute power and responsibility to George III for their own reasons but he was an isolated and powerless figure in his own right and if anything the visible power of the British monarchy has decreased since then as they lost more and more of their abilities to bestow patronages, lands and titles. The invisible power of the Crown is dependent on the current Monarch's performance -- Lizzie was regarded as a pretty capable diplomat in terms of being on the good side of a lot of nations and their leaders although age and infirmity has taken her out of the loop pretty much now. I don't know how Charlie and Good King William will do in that regard when their time comes.

As for the Churchills, the only one of consequence was Winston, a wartime Prime Minister of some note and otherwise not much cop generally speaking (possibly due to his depression and alcoholism). The others of his line who were elected or appointed to Parliament were mostly local MPs, not movers and shakers in Government.

[1] The mother of George Prescott Bush is Mexican and I believe he has her family name (Garnica) as one of his given names. This seems to have been whitewashed out of Wikipedia and other online sources, if true.

357:

There will also continue to be a widening gulf between paid-for-by-advertising network TV shows made at a frenetic 22 to 24 episodes per year pace to a strict formula timed to the second for the ad breaks with acts reaching mini-cliff hangers before each ad-break and tying up each story tidily in around 45 minutes, censored with respect to nudity, profanity and sexual content, watershed restrictions (and then further censored for particular overseas requirements) and paid-for-by-subscription tv with 8 to 12 episodes of a show per year of varying length and minimal censorship with a more producer-auteur approach to storytelling.

358:

Much the same, in fact, was the case with pretty well all the non-academic "lessons" of school - the message I took away was generally more or less the opposite of what they intended.
School Spurts! ( err, "sports" )
Followed closely by the XXXth olympiad, of course.

359:

Harry Turtledove did write a novella Must and Shall about an alternate where the post rebellion treatment was much harsher and the South is still a tumultuous occupied territory 77 years later.

360:

My snark is that HBO should go all in and just license SM Stirling's Draka series. Just as offensive and controversial but with more lesbian sex scenes.

361:

Capek's robots weren't even mechanical IIRC - some sort of artificial mutant/genetically-engineered human before people used words like that, I think? Perhaps "Frankensteinesque" might be a good contemporary word.

Asimov's robots, on the other hand, he explicitly states (in numerous places) were a deliberate contrary portrayal to what Capek had made pretty much a standard for other early writers of robot stories - he wanted to show robots as not always going on a destructive rampage, but instead being useful tools like any other machine. The Three Laws were essentially a codification of the desirable properties of any useful tool, the idea being that any sensible engineer making an autonomous tool would make such principles an intrinsic part of the design (indeed, one could argue that the First Law had already been embodied for decades in the intrinsic fail-safe design of such semi-autonomous systems as railway signalling and brakes. Asimov might even have made that point himself, I can't remember...).

To be sure, he then discovered that there was a rich vein of plot material in playing with the edge cases, but that's another story... or lots of them :)

But in the stories where he pulls back and gives a broader focus on society with robots in general, he is most depressingly realistic in the level of ingrained moronic stupidity he ascribes to future Earth society - they have robots, but they don't use them (except for agriculture, which nobody notices, just like they don't now). They would prefer to continue a society where pretty well everyone (including people who would be considered "well-off" now) has to struggle for existence in shitty conditions, rather than drop customs whose idiocy and nature as tools of self-delusion have been made glaringly apparent by the advent of robots. Indeed, they instantiate yet another tool of self-delusion in the form of treating the societies formed on other planets by people who were not so bleeding daft - which, while not without their problems, are still manifestly much more pleasant than Earth - with antipathy and contempt.

Since a robot is a tool, the concept of "slavery" doesn't apply to a robot any more than it does to a hammer. What the concept boils down to is "forcing people to do shit they don't want to do". The problem is that people only seem to recognise that that's going on when it's really really bloody obvious. When it involves kidnapping people and shipping them across the ocean and not caring that half of them die on the way and using whips to make them do what you want and chains to stop them doing what you don't want, everyone recognises it immediately and only the most epic cunts don't see the problem with it. When it happens behind prison walls to people for whom there is a fairly unarguable justification (depending on, etc. etc. etc.) for putting them in there and treating them in a less pleasant manner than is customary, people are a lot more comfortable about overlooking it.

And they never seem to notice what I might call "dishonest slavery" - which after all is the point of it having that characteristic. There really isn't a great deal of difference, apart from speed, between "do this random shit or you get flogged, maybe to death, we don't really care" and "do some random shit or you starve under a bridge, maybe to death, we don't really care". Unfortunately there does seem to be the difference that the overall condition of society in which the first threat is unacceptable but the second one is not has a horrible self-stabilising property, derived from the weirdly incomprehensible facility with which people can be induced to fool themselves into thinking that even though it's shit, it's righteous shit; good and proper shit, duly ordained, for which sacrificing yourself to it brings its just reward of righteousness, and in respect of which those who do not praise, but even condemn, are foul heretics not to be given ear at any price. (The pseudo-religious language is deliberate.)

That is dishonest slavery - it carries essentially the same threat as the "ordinary" kind, but it also exploits the "love your abuser" headfuck vuln so that people not only fail to decry it, but support it with religious fervour. So widespread is it that although most people would agree that both the threat and the exploit are unacceptable behaviour, and would loudly condemn any use of either, their universal co-instantiation simply goes unnoticed.

The society that Asimov depicts is even more hostile to "ordinary" slavery than current society, not out of any conscientious reasons, but simply because its response to the advent of robots has been to escalate the intensity of dishonest slavery. They have raised it to such a pitch that their reaction to a tool sufficiently versatile that it can do more things than a human slave could and do them better, yet still no more is a "slave" than a hammer is - and not only to the tool, but to the societies which make widespread and successful use of it - is one of shuddering revulsion.

Unfortunately, there is a horribly large chance that he is right.

If only Iain M. Banks was as widely known and long-familiar as Asimov...

362:

Bang on!

"Learning teamwork" - er, no - more like "learning how to evade it as far as possible while not being noticed too much".

As for your second example, pretty nearly the only thing I remember from it, and far and away the most vivid memory, is the goatse flag...

363:

A report into torture that leaves out the existence of a torture centre's not much fucking use, is it?

Incorrect. The report was vital in stopping most torture, and instantly made clear what constituted "unacceptable behaviour". Not bad for fifteen weeks' work.

The fact that fourteen prisoners were tortured for a week in Ballykelly, rather than Castlereagh, hardly invalidates that.

Note that it didn't completely cure the issue. It took more time, and the appointment of Sir John Hermon, to further reduce it (note that in the 1970s, such reduced but still unacceptable levels of brutality described weren't unique in UK policing - e.g. West Midlands Serious Crime Squad).

364:

I must admit I had always assumed you had Irish ancestry on the grounds of your middle name. I'd have expected "Padruig" if the reference was supposed to be Scottish.

That's one of the spellings I've seen, but I suspect 40+ years ago before I was born my father likely was only familiar with the one I have.
It is likely that I have a bit of Irish and English on that side of the family, from Southern Virginia (Appomattox County and Lynchburg*), though mostly Scottish afaik—Robertson and a something-great grandmother MacPherson.

When I was little my father did Revolutionary War and Civil WarSlaveowner's Treasonous Rebellion re-enacting (representing both losing sides). There was a woman playing the role of camp cook who would call me Paddy, which I only seem to be mentioning as a way to lead back to the discussion of Confederate Memorials. In Jacksonville Fla., where I was born, my father taught at a school named after Jefferson Davis—it still is, later he was at a high school named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, which has been renamed.
My take is that the memorials need to be removed and placed in museums with plaques correcting the revisionist history they represent.


*See what Rudy Rucker's written about his time there, which he called Killeville. More related to something Charlie had retweeted; My late uncle, who spent most of his life in Lynchburg, once told of going to Jerry Falwell's church one Sunday. He said the whole service seemed to be done for the cameras broadcasting it, and when it came time to pass the plate around he found that the doors were locked—from the outside. They didn't go back.

365:

No one has mentioned _Fire on the Mountain_ by Terry Bisson.

Wiki - Fire on the Mountain (Bisson novel)

Fire on the Mountain is a 1988 novel by the American author Terry Bisson. It is an alternate history describing the world as it would have been had John Brown succeeded in his raid on Harper's Ferry and touched off a slave rebellion in 1859, as he intended.

Plot

The difference from actual history starts with the participation of Harriet Tubman in Brown's uprising in 1859; her sound tactical and strategic advice helps Brown avoid mistakes which in real history led to his downfall. As a result, instead of the American Civil War, the U.S. faces a full-scale slave revolt throughout the South—-helped by a handful of white sympathizers; by various European revolutionaries such as Giuseppe Garibaldi who take ship across the Atlantic; and an invasion by Mexico, which seeks to regain the territory it lost in 1848.

After a great deal of bloody fighting and an increasing dissatisfaction in the North which is required to send troops to fight the rebellious slaves, the blacks succeed in emancipating themselves and create a republic in the Deep South, led by Tubman and Frederick Douglass. (Brown himself did not survive to see the victory of what he started.) Abraham Lincoln - a Whig politician who never got to be President - tries to start a war to bring back the secessionist black states into the Union, but he fails and is himself killed in that war. Blacks remember him as their archenemy.

Later, the black state (named "Nova Africa") becomes Socialist, touching off a whole string of revolutions and civil wars in Europe. The Paris Commune wins out in 1871 instead of being crushed by the French Third Republic, Ireland breaks away from British rule in the 1880s, and the Russian Revolution is just one of many similar revolutions in different countries. Finally Socialism also wins out in the rump U.S., following a revolutionary outbreak in Chicago. Socialism works out as predicted by the German philosopher Karl Marx, bringing happiness and prosperity to all of humanity. (Marx himself is mentioned in the book as an enthusiastic supporter of the rebellious slaves, though he does not personally come to America to help them.)

The book has two levels. The overt plot takes place in 1959, in an Utopian Socialist world far in advance of ours in all ways. To mark the centennial of Brown's raid, black astronauts lead a manned landing on Mars. However, the story of the protagonist, a young black woman grieving the death of her husband on an earlier Mars mission, is mainly the framework for excerpts from the vivid diaries of two people who lived through the stirring events of 1859 and its aftermath—her ancestor, who was then a young black slave, and a white Virginian doctor who sympathized with the rebellion. In this world, an alternate history book is published called John Brown's Body, which describes a world in which Brown failed and was executed, the slaves were emancipated by Lincoln rather than by themselves after a war between two white factions, and capitalism survived as a political and economic system. It is considered a dystopia, describing a horrible world in all ways inferior to the one which the people in the book know.

366:

I didn't take the lesson quite as presented either. However I wasn't as fast on the uptake as you were. The lesson that people in authority can be and often are dangerously insane wasn't one I picked up at first glance. I'd been raised mostly by my Mother and Grandmother who were both really smart and really level headed. My father was a bit of a loose cannon, but was great outside his 'episodes' (he was never violent, he'd just bang doors, yell and drive off in a huff). So I wasn't really on the lookout, and my parents failed to warn me that, the people in charge of me during the day would probably be very stupid, venal, lazy people prone to incoherent rage for the slightest offence and who's only means of nonviolent communication was humiliation, though they'd resort to violence at the drop of a hat. I think a bit of an explicit warning not to trust my 'teachers' would have saved me some angst at the time.

'Best Years Of Your Life'.... not.

367:

Dishonest/honest slavery & punisment.
During this morning's "Today"programme, there was short piece on a youngish person in prison, after 11 (?) years on an indeterminate sentence.
It became plain that he should never have been in prison in the first place - a mental institution, almost certainly.
But, in spite of efforts, including some from "the authorities" - he was still trapped in a prison ... if only becauise "the rules" were written in this particular daft way.

368:

"Revisionist History" can be done properly.
"The Monument" in London ( To the Great Fire ) had a long screed, blaming the evil Catholics for startting it ...
It doesn't say that any more, nor for some considerable number of years, actually.

369:

The mother of George Prescott Bush is Mexican and I believe he has her family name (Garnica) as one of his given names. This seems to have been whitewashed out of Wikipedia and other online sources, if true.

His mom's maiden name is Columba Garnica Gallo. If he were named in the Spanish manner of (Given first name) - (Given middle name[s]) - Patronymic - Matronymic, he'd be George Prescott Bush Garnica, which would cause infinite confusion in the US.

370:

The mother of George Prescott Bush is Mexican and I believe he has her family name (Garnica) as one of his given names. This seems to have been whitewashed out of Wikipedia and other online sources, if true.

His mom's maiden name is Columba Garnica Gallo. If he were named in the Spanish manner of (Given first name) - (Given middle name[s]) - Patronymic - Matronymic, he'd be George Prescott Bush Garnica, which would cause infinite confusion in the US.

371:

No idea what type of math/stats current deep learning AI use but if it's the same as or similar to anything that's based on 'normal distribution' or even the straight-up Bayesian based entirely on prior events, this system is doomed.

As much as you allude to the AI as a potential saviour, I had assumed that you know what that entails. How big do you think these sample sizes are? Liars or outliers??

Also see Charlie's 301

372:

However, Al Gore was among the last VPs to be drafted.

Except that Al Gore was NOT drafted. When he graduated from Harvard in 1969 that ended his student deferment, so he enlisted. One benefit of enlisting is you get to choose your MOS - if you can pass the test & don't flunk out of AIT [Advanced Individual Training].

Gore's father was a prominent anti-war Democratic Senator & Gore didn't want to had a republican opponent a free issue to use against his dad. And he went in as an enlisted man, to avoid any suggestion he was receiving special consideration.

373:

Pigeon: fantastic rant! I picture you at some pulpit, rabble-rousing like some passionate politician or preacher. Really, really got me: excellent writing. Thank you.

374:

3rd attempt!!! - Regardless of any "family ambitions" reference their future careers, JFK and GWGB were just junior military officers during WW2, and not potential Prominente as members of the British royal family would be if captured!

375:

Great summary - but misses the important factoid courtesy of The Delirium Brief that Prince Charles (if he gets his hands on one) can set off Nukes with no consequences in Law.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/obscure-law-lets-prince-charles-set-off-nuclear-bomb-a6787626.html

Whether he is allowed to procure them is not answered, but if he ever makes a state visit to North Korea or Israel we should probably make sure he comes back through the Red "Something to Declare" customs channel.

Come to think of it if Charlie (Stross not Prince) wanted to write farce rather than satire he could quite easily have made Prince Charles the shadowy figure behind Professor Freudstein in the Annihilation Score.

376:

I strongly suspect that even if it was technically legal for Charlie to set a nuke off someone would invent new laws to punish him with if he did it. There are precedents.

377:

I have heard that Churchill turned down the title of Duke of London largely because at the time inheriting it would disqualify his son from sitting in the Commons and therefore from a serious political career.


378:

I think part of the problem is that we've got a bunch of control tools for humans: slavery, which AFAIK started as a way to deal with those captured in battle without killing (and sometimes eating) them (see Maori and Aztecs for the latter). It started morphing when people realized how useful it was to force others to do the unpleasant stuff in life, and we've kind of never looked back.

I'd also note that the common cases where enslavement is considered lawful are when the slaves are either criminals or foreigners. We still run on that meme today, and not just in the US (with exploited illegal labor and black and poor prisoners laboring in jails). In the past (and probably in the present) the same system has applied in places like China.

HOWEVER, it's also worth looking at the treatment of soldiers. The treatment of the enlisted isn't so different than the treatment of slaves (e.g. the poor and or the criminal-ish are often targeted), and soldiers, like slaves, are harshly punished and occasionally killed for refusing to do the job they're forced to do. Indeed, there have been cases where soldiers were slaves (like the Janissaries).

The third thing I'd add is that most slavery (now and arguably in most times and places) is out of sight, on remote plantations, prisons in rural towns, and the slaves often came (come?) from foreign battlefields. Currently, private prisons get located in places where they're a major employer, and silence is part of the game. Slavery is possible in a big city (cf sweat shops), but if it's controversial, it's hidden.

The fourth thing I'd add is there are a couple of little problems with running society on robots instead of slaves. Yes, a non-conscious robot is good when it's vacuuming my floor, possibly even when it's driving my demented body to another doctor's appointment. But I'm very *uncomfortable* with the idea of making a robot into a soldier, giving it a gun and a model of engagement, and sending it in to do the stuff that we don't want humans doing. There's a niche for drones doing jobs that will kill humans, but I'm uncomfortable with using autonomous robot weapons. Sadly, we're getting closer to these all the time (and not just in the venerable art of boobytrapping).

As for the current pro-discrimination culture in places like the US, it's sad and very Buddhist when people cling to such things, is it not? But life is unsatisfactory. One of the best things we can do to fight it isn't to stock up on ammo and plan escape plans, but to get out in our many thousands and protest the nazis and alt-right wherever the fuckers show up. You may worry about getting fired, but if everyone walks off the job to spend two hours at a rally, what's the boss going to do, dump his staff and start over, or join them? That's the thing about non-violence: it doesn't take skills in making violence, it can work on sheer numbers. After all if the nazis can't hear themselves chant, they've failed.

379:

Once again, I go away for a long weekend (the Philly Folk Festival), and there's hunnards an' hunnards of posts....

Rather than post 30 or so posts, I'll just do a few, and cover the ground, starting with...

Sorry, Charlie, but the first time I heard a friend (?!) refer to the War of Northern Aggression, it was minutes before I settled on the appropriate response being "the War of Southern Stupidity", wherein a dirt-poor overwhelming majority was convinced by (inflation-adjusted) billionaires to fight, bleed, and die to protect the billionaires income source (slaves), on the basis of "who would you rather have abuse you, us or then Nasty Northerners?!"

I blame something in the water that makes them stupid. They also tend to be anti-union.

As the t-shirt says, "treason in defence of slavery is no excuse".

380:

Next, US taxes. The *effective* taxes on the US are far lower than anywhere else.

For the rich, that is. And then there's this, from the irs.gov website: in 1972, 16.7% of the federal revenue stream came from individual income taxes, and 25% from corporate taxes. As of about 4-5 years ago, that was 44% from individual income taxes, and 10% from corporate taxes.

And let's not forget interest and dividend and capital gains are taxed *way* lower than "straight income", which is also why there are bonuses, not salary increases in many cases.

Remember Rombey saying he was paying 14% on most of his income?

381:

Someone else mentioned fascism coming in. I would suggest that it did partly as a response by the wealthy (who fund it) to "the Spectre Haunting Europe" (socialism).

Hmmm, thinking about it, I could view that as a miltia/follow-on scaling up from the strike/union breakers (like, in the US, the Pinkertons).

Northern businessmen were *so* much better at economics than Southern slaveholders. I mean, you don't have to feed, glothe, or house wage slaves....

At any rate, that could have been part of what changed in Japan.

Meanwhile, the psychotic rich keep thinking that you'll get different results by doing the same thing again. They just don't seem to get - maybe they *are* more like Trumpolini, it's all about them, that whoever they set up as Der Fuhrer is going to have MAJOR ego issues of their own, and will want to run it *their* way.

382:

HOWEVER, it's also worth looking at the treatment of soldiers. The treatment of the enlisted isn't so different than the treatment of slaves (e.g. the poor and or the criminal-ish are often targeted), and soldiers, like slaves, are harshly punished and occasionally killed for refusing to do the job they're forced to do.

A minor detail, but both the USA and UK run volunteer armies. And while you suggest "the poor and or the criminal-ish are often targeted" I'd suggest correlation is not causation.

I'm not going to pretend that they are ideal organisations - the British Army has some serious structural flaws - but militaries are more meritocratic than most, and don't suffer from entryism of the "ahhhh, but you need these qualifications to join". After an internally-run assessment, all of the training is provided.

You also can't run a professional Army on management-by-fear. After all, the first operational deployment will result in everyone running around with live ammunition; that doesn't bode well for any slavemaster types...

Armies also, interestingly, tend to be dyslexic-friendly places - we encouraged one of our young Corporals going on a promotion course at the School of Infantry to declare his problem to the staff at the start, and he got the support he needed to pass the course. At the other end of the rank spectrum, one of the UK Divisional Commanders, running UK forces in Iraq, was dyslexic. This kind of "fresh start" approach allows the Army to pick up bright young men and women who might not have been well-supported during education (either because of poor environments, or lack of learning support).

As for "criminal-ish"? The Army doesn't want criminals. It is willing to attempt rehabilitation, but only where it's seen as worthwhile (the Military Corrective Training Centre, aka Glasshouse, has the lowest reoffence rate of any UK prison). Mostly, the "criminal-ish" thing is a result of poor youthful environment - genuine criminals are chucked out pretty damn fast, as the rules of social behaviour have been made clear from Day 1 of basic training.

So; while it's a superficially tempting analogy, I don't think it holds up under any serious level of analysis.

383:

I partially agree, although some have commented that in poorer communities in the US (such as many Indian tribes, Guam, and various ghettos), there's something strongly resembling a draft because the military is one of the few jobs open to able-bodied men.


I'd furthermore add (AND THIS IS NOT TO INSULT YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW), that being a soldier, especially in special-ops, is one of the few places where you can kill someone legally and get paid for it. Skills and talents that would ordinarily land someone in a civilian prison (breaking and entering, using lethal weapons to maim or kill, planning the physical destruction of infrastructure, utilizing terror to meet political goals) can be legal in a military context, and that's the meaning of "criminal-ish."


Yes, I totally agree that you can't go from prison to boot camp these days (not always true in the past). However, if you're smart enough to realize that you are skilled in things that would be illegal as a civilian, then going into the military is perhaps the only way to develop and exercise those skills legally and honorably.

Again, most soldiers are not criminals in uniform and I not only recognize that but fully agree with you. My point is that historically (and to some degree now), slavery targeted the same populations that became soldiers. Was it better to be a Roman auxiliary and get 25 years under martial law followed by (if you survived) Roman citizenship and the chance to legally marry the concubine you've had for 23 of those years? People in poor and lawless communities often have to make similar choices now.


384:

being a soldier, especially in special-ops, is one of the few places where you can kill someone legally and get paid for it

You say that as if you think it's enjoyable.

Three out of four of the first autobiographies of SAS soldiers revealed that they had undergone psychiatric treatment while still serving; the experience screwed them up. Before they sorted the psychological profiling out, half of all soldiers who passed the rather demanding selection and did a tour on "Special Duties" in Northern Ireland (i.e. covert operations in a high-threat environment) ended up needing psychological treatment.

While it has been criticised, "On Killing" by David Grossman is an interesting book on the subject. I always recommend George Macdonald Fraser's "Quartered Safe Out Here" and McAuslan series; but if you want something more up-to-date I was very impressed by Callsign Hades as a description of being a soldier on operations in Afghanistan.

While I'm sure there are plenty of soldiers who view it as a "way out of the ghetto" (adjust to taste for US and UK), I suspect that just as many view it as a way to prove something to themselves. Very very few see "killing people and breaking things" as desirable, enjoyable, or transferable skills.

The skills in demand are trade skills (light engineering / vehicle maintenance / plant operation / driving heavy goods vehicles); they'll get you a job when you leave. The skills to be enjoyed are those intended to develop the ability to cope in stressful circumstances (the British Army is/was big on Adventurous Training - good old-fashioned Outward Bound stuff, climbing, abseiling, skiing, sailing). The skills that are underrated are those involved with planning, logistics, training, and coaching.

The desire is for bright, inquisitive, and determined young men and women - the Duke of Wellington didn't quite say what you probably thought he said, 200 years ago...

A French army is composed very differently from ours. The conscription calls out a share of every class — no matter whether your son or my son — all must march; but our friends — I may say it in this room — are the very scum of the earth. People talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling — all stuff — no such thing. Some of our men enlist from having got bastard children — some for minor offences — many more for drink; but you can hardly conceive such a set brought together, and it really is wonderful that we should have made them the fine fellows they are.


385:

There are still old shops in germany with 'kolonialwaren' (colonial goods) on their signs

386:

The grauniad 2010 article refers to Hermon's actions in 1979.
The next year, 2011, we get this :
https://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0524/301471-bombings/
"Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dáil that the information supplied by the British government on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings is all the relevant information that they intend to supply.

Mr Kenny said he did not have the authority to instruct them to supply any other files they hold and he told Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that he would have been provided with similar information when he was Minister for Foreign Affairs and he did not object.

Mr Martin said the position was unacceptable and he asked the Taoiseach if he had expressed such sentiments to British Prime Minister David Cameron.

He suggested the refusal to release documents was fueling conspiracy theories about what had happened and that the Taoiseach's response was weak and accused him of washing his hands of the issue.

.....

Mr Martin said he found it 'incredible' that the bilateral loan was not discussed.

Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has described the refusal of the British government to release all of the files in its possession on the Dublin Monaghan bombs as ‘wholly unacceptable’.

He also raised with the Taoiseach the withdrawal of funding from Justice for the Forgotten.

387:

Not sure what you're getting at, here - or how it's relevant to either torture or collective punishment of civilian populations...

Irish politician criticises Irish political opponent (for not being able to demand that the UK Government hand over any information he wants, on demand). What a surprise. As a next trick, will he criticise his opponent for not being able to demand that the Russian or US Governments hand over any classified information he feels like?

I did raise an eyebrow at the article where it said "Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has described the refusal of the British government to release all of the files in its possession on the Dublin Monaghan bombs as ‘wholly unacceptable’.". Gosh, really? I wonder whether Jean McConville, or the hundreds of other civilians murdered by PIRA would have described it that way?

388:

I'm not surprised at the number of combat soldiers needing psychiatric treatment after Northern Ireland. It appears that similar problems happened in Vietnam, in part due to mismanagement. Similar problems are happening now in Iraq and Afghanistan on both sides (although I wonder how ISIS and the Taliban deal with PTSD).

In any case, I do wish the skills were more transferable. A friend of mine who was a Navy medical technician got really frustrated after moving on to a civilian hospital, where they told him he couldn't do procedures that he'd been routinely doing in the Gulf--apparently he was doing stuff only doctors were supposed to do, at least in a civilian setting. I didn't realize the boundaries are so different between civilian and military medicine in the US.

389:

I'm not surprised at the number of combat soldiers needing psychiatric treatment after Northern Ireland.

To make it clear - the vast majority of soldiers in Northern Ireland were operating as "policemen in green", patrolling urban and rural areas, and AIUI had quite a low rate of PTSD.

The "50% of Special Duties" figure refers to the very small number of soldiers in what has now become the Special Reconnaissance Regiment. They were operating individually and in pairs, in civilian clothes, in very high-threat areas (i.e. get caught, and you're dead - if you're lucky, without torture). Living at that level of stress, takes its toll.

The situation apparently improved when they started doing psychological testing of candidates for special duties; they do something similar for the Ammunition Technical Officers (bomb disposal types).

390:

@361 [Regarding the societies that Asimov depicts] It has been too many years since the last time I read the Robot series but if memory serves me well the Spacer society - at least the Aurora one - wasn't so utopic. Actually I wonder if Asimov didn't deliberately use the Old South as a model, because Auroran humans behaved pretty much as a planter class, including forbidden romantic liaisons with robots and the ever-present but unspoken fear of a robotic rebellion...

Incidentally Asimov knew perfectly well what racism is. He had suffered it himself. I think it's no coincidence that he also depicted Spacers visiting Earth as avoiding any kind of close contact with Earthians, keeping inside their closed hotels, moving in closed vehicles, etc, etc. I think he even ementioned they behaved as if they feared finding Earthians too human, too much like themselves.

391:

Not utopic, certainly - they had plenty of flaws, as I said - but it's still quite clear that people in general have a much less crappy time in their everyday lives than people on Earth do. Earth society seems to me very much an example of one that relies for its cohesion on people's proficiency at deluding themselves that the crappiness is desirable.

Interesting point about the Aurora/South parallel. That had not occurred to me - British perspective, no doubt. I'm afraid that my perceptions are so warped by having essentially no exposure to portrayals of the South (that count for the purpose; Mark Twain is too alien to grok, and everything else is worse) other than The Dukes of Hazzard that it requires a conscious effort to think of it in any other aspect. But now that you mention it, it strikes me that by the same token Earth society could be taken as a parallel of the North. I must read those stories again with these ideas in mind.

I do see a slightly off-key discrepancy between how bad Aurora society actually is and how bad it's painted. Off-key in that it doesn't seem to be fully explained simply by the view from Lije Bailey's Earth-based perspective. There's a whiff of something more personal to Asimov about it. So it could be that your hypothesis is correct and what I'm picking up on is Asimov's feelings about the actual South showing through.

As I remember it the Spacer physical avoidance of Earthers is down to the fear that their inexperienced immune systems will fail catastrophically at dealing with the vigour and variety of Earth's microbial life. I think there was one episode where the climax was that someone got a cold. It has to be said that the way they expressed their avoidance would not have been all that clinically effective, and I had always read it as the real but unacknowledged subconscious origin being hyperexpression of the natural culture-shock reaction to the unaccustomedly crowded Earth conditions.

392:

At the risk of returning to something related to the original subject of the thread, once The Labyrinth Index comes out next year, we'll get to see what the Mandate and his Management 2.0 has done with the Laundry. It was pretty clear from The Nightmare Stacks and The Delirium Brief that the Laundry's constitution as a very secretive intelligence agency is no longer a good solution to problems of the size that they're now starting to face.

Assuming that the Mandate wasn't lying when he said the he wanted to defend the country he now rules (or at least will rule as of a few weeks after the end of The Delirium Brief) -- and for sake of argument also that he's the PM, a Duke, and the focus of a cult of personality, but not the King, is currently a class 6 entity, and also that he's something approaching a rational actor (if mercurial and overly fond of games), then here's my personal best guess about what he's going to do. I'd love to hear other people's speculations on this (and should Charlie like any of my ideas and wish to crib from them -- in the unlikely event that there are any he hadn't already considered -- then he is of course very welcome: I'm contributing them to his blog, after all):

1) Get control of the Laundry. Put the Senior Auditor under a geas to him, and use his personal charm/glamour on the Queen, the nominal focus of the CO geas (admittedly, that means the Senior Auditor's under two separate geases, and if they ever clash, he catches fire). Appoint a Minister for Magic, who is smart and flexible of mind, and personally controlled by the Mandate via geas or one of Schiller's mind control worms, and NOT under a Laundry geas, and appoint most of the Laundry's Board as senior civil servants in the new ministry, and make the Laundry report to the new ministry.

2) Tell people what the stakes are. The Laundry is already semi-public. Declassify CASE NIGHTMARE RED, and perhaps also some aspects of YELLOW and GREEN. Start a PR/charm offensive about the threat to the nation (and how he is the ideal leader to protect them from it). Generally persuade people that this is state of emergency and that the nation needs to move to a war footing. Semi-attach the Laundry to the Military, almost as another service. Arrange to start basic civil defense training so civilians know what to do in case of outbreaks of feeders and similar low level nuisances. Distribute the Circle of Safety defensive grids to the public. Get thaum field imaging added to SCORPION STARE, and add some visual and if possible magical token-recognition IFF added to it, including making him personally immune. Start large-scale construction of wards and protective grids around key buildings, vehicles, people, and then cities (computational demonology and a lot of new power lines added to the National Grid in very specific shapes might allow some city-scale protective wards).

3) Upgrade and train his military for what they're going to be facing. Arrange to get 666 Squadron and the White Elephants flying again, the Artist's Rifles massively expanded (probably they start training other special forces units). Equip the entire military with wards, banishment rounds, basilisk guns, hands of glory, containment grids etc. as fast as they can be manufactured (all based on computational demonology and mass production rather than human practitioners), starting with key units like the Trident submarines. Start converting suitable personnel in selected units in the special forces to vampires (special forces units tend to have pretty smart people in them, so some should be up to the math and visualization required). Integrate the elven force as a unit in the army, as part of a new rapid response force designed to deal with significant occult threats that have suddenly appeared in a random location inside the UK. Arrange for ley line and air cavalry transportation for this force. Start integrating combat mages and specialists in computational demonology into select military units in the rapid response force.

4) Improve his mages and recruit more. Start a crash research project to integrate what the elven mages know with what the humans know about magic (and whatever he personally cares to share). Any personnel with aptitude for mental rather than just computational magic needs to either become a PHANG or get the "immunization" treatment that elven nobles get to prevent K-syndrome. Talk to the National Health service and arrange for suitable blood supplies from all their hospices for all the new PHANGS. Recruit suitable people from GCHQ and other government research institutions (Harwell, Culham, etc) and from academia and industry to become mages. Start integrating computational magical techniques into the military manufacturing companies.

5) Recruit class 2-5 allies, and eliminate class 2-5 enemies. Locate and attempt to recruit vampire elders, people with superpowers, and any other powerful occult entities in the area under his control (and any he can attract from elsewhere, once suitably vetted). Investigate things that the Laundry etc. has bottled up rather than destroyed, and decide whether to take them out of the bottle and recruit them. Ruthlessly eliminate any cults or servitors of any other Elder Gods, and any powerful occult entities not willing to enter his service, from the area under his control.

6) Increase his personal magical and mental power as fast as possible -- class 7 then 8, here we come. Bring back hanging (inside a suitable containment grid to funnel the resulting mana to him, his servants, or suitable storage), for even relatively minor offenses. Start tapping thum flux out of the ley-line grid -- leaving it lying around or any idiot to use is dangerous (that's what CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is about). Build up a cult of personality and tap into the adulation and fear of tens of millions of people. Have mages and class 2-5 allies funnel power to him via a geas tree or Schiller's mind control worms. Perform whatever rituals or training are needed to become a more powerful Mask of Nyarl Ith Hotep. If Schiller's worms allow him to do distributed thinking across the network of people controlled by them (as they did for the Sleeper), then spread them to smart people as fast as they can reproduce -- at least until spreading them further would cause significant problems or deprive him of too much population to rule (which by Schiller's timetable may take a few months).

7) Avoid dying, or wasting a lot of his precious time on trivial combats. Generally, deal with most class 1-3 threats via agents, and only take the risk of taking a personal role in conflict with class 4-5 opponents when necessary, when it's important that something be done right, when doing so would increase his power or cult of personality, or of course when it would amuse him to do so. Pick fights with class 6 opponents only carefully and then with as much strategy and as many allies as possible. Avoid class 7 opponents, or anything that plausibly might be a class 7 opponent, at all costs.

8) Expand the area under his control as fast as he safely and effectively can. Bring as much of Europe under his control as he can without starting a war that he isn't yet ready for (the UK is a nuclear armed state, its only nuclear peer in Europe is France, so start with France and after that most other countries won't risk a war). He's in a great position to get his hooks (glamour, geases, mind control worms, etc.) into all the other European leaders next time there's a meeting of EU leaders. The various European OCCINT organizations are NOT going to be happy about this, but none of them can win a straight fight against a class 6+ entity, and some may be persuadable that allying with him is less bad than being eaten by the next Elder God to come along. At a guess, he gets most, but a few leaders are sufficiently forewarned by their OCCINT agencies that they never meet him face-to-face (or only wearing a class 10 ward with a similarly warded bodyguard armed with banishment rounds in the room), provoking some frantic and very paranoid non-face-to-face-negotiated FOOEXITs from the EU from those countries (and starting a time-consuming process of surrounding them, then wooing them back or subverting them). After that, start extending his control into surrounding areas such as the Middle East, countries bordering the USSR, and North Africa.

9) Rule the UK (mostly via his mind-controlled ministers) and (via proxies) other areas brought under his control sufficiently effectively, with enough glamoured persuasion and glib wartime PR, and without so much major bloodshed, so that a) the populace don't rebel wholesale, and b) other countries, at least once desperate, will join his rule willingly rather than be eaten by something else. The fact that he's smarter than a Mark 1.0 plains ape may help significantly with this.

10) Deal with other class 6 entities were possible, and avoid drawing the attention of class 7+ ones. Arrange to make sure the Sleeper in the Pyramid (of the Black Pharaoh? - presumably he knows the history of that apparent confusion) stays there and goes back to sleep.

11) Figure out the current occult situation in the rest of the world, such as what took over the US (see The Labyrinth Index for more details :-) ), with particular interest in entities of classes 4-5, 6, and 7+.

12) Gather resources. Start exploring other worlds that the Laundry or other allied OCCINT organizations or the elves know how to get to for things or beings of use, significance, or sentimental value to him, or for imminent defeatable threats. Be extremely carefully to avoid attracting the attention of any undefeatable threats while doing so.

13) Avoid attracting more or larger competitors. If possible, figure out how to turn off or obscure the large flashing sign saying "All You Can Eat Buffet Lunch" that the human population are currently radiating, or failing that how to add an addendum reading "Under New Management" (though that's not much help if the reader is class 7+). However, don't stop the humans from thinking too loudly or building more computers and gradually raising the mana level, since CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is a powerup to and the native environment of the Black Pharaoh. However, try not to leave so much thaum power lying around that the population can kill each other wholesale with it.

Of course, Charlie has said that The Labyrinth Index is a post-Lovecraftian-Singularity novel, i.e. the Mandate and his significant opponents are smart enough that no human is going to understand the thinking behind everything that they do. But still, they aren't going to make any mistakes that are obvious to a mere human -- though of course they might do things that a mere human would mistake for mistakes. Many of the things that the UK needs to do to stand a chance of survival are pretty obvious even to a mere human, and the Laundry hasn't been doing them mostly because its secrecy geas and general institutional mindset got in the way. The Mandate isn't going to make any mistakes that obvious. If he doesn't do some of the above, it's presumably because there's some hypersubtle or obscure reason why it's not in his best interest (or perhaps because some of my ideas above are bad), rather than because he didn't think of it or figure out how to make it happen.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on August 16, 2017 11:10 AM.

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