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The Pivot

Something huge is happening in the UK right now, and I wonder where it's going.

Brexit requires no introduction at this point. Nor, I think, do the main UK media players. With the exception of two newspapers (The Daily Mirror and The Guardian) the national papers have been uniformly pro-Brexit to the extent of attacking national institutions seen as being soft on Brexit. The BBC news programs have also broadly pushed a pro-Brexit line, from Question Time (which gave Nigel Farage a semi-permanent slot but not once invited a guest speaker from the Green Party or the SNP—both pro-Remain by policy), to the Today Program (Radio 4's news flagship), whose John Humphrys pushes a hard Brexit line.

Although the referendum was framed as advisory and limited to leaving the European Union, it was received as a mandate by the Conservative hard right and their hard-left opposite numbers in Labour (who have their own reasons for disliking what they see as a neoliberal right-wing institution), and the current in-cabinet debate appears to be over whether to leave all European institutions immediately, or to provide an adjustment period for leaving organizations like the Customs Union (which wasn't on the ballot in the first place).

Here in the real world the drumbeat of bad economic news continues. Jaguar Land Rover to move production of Discovery from UK to Slovakia, because of course they're owned by Tata, most of their output is exported, and why would an Indian company want to invest in a UK beset by pre-Brexit uncertainty? UK manufacturing output is falling at its fastest rate since 2012. And the rest of the economy is doing so well that Poundworld (the equivalent of a US dollar store chain) has collapsed and is in bankruptcy administration.

Then, last week, something happened. Or several somethings. (From the outside it's hard to be sure.)

One of those somethings was the retirement of Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre and his replacement by Mail on Sunday editor Georgie Greig, a pro-European journalist. Newspaper owner Lord Rothermere remains the same, but an unattributed source described Greig's appointment as part of a process of "detoxifying the Daily Mail".

Next, the Murdoch press began an extraordinary about-face on Brexit. For about a year now Carol Cadwalladr of The Guardian has been digging into Cambridge Analytica, the Leave.EU campaign, and possible links to Russian state agencies and oligarchs. These links were known to some pro-leave journalists as much as two years ago, but they're only now coming to public view. Aaron Banks is one of the main bankers of the Brexit campaign and appears to have very cordial relations with the Russian government, not to mention half a dozen Russian gold mines; he's been called to testify before a House of Commons committee tomorrow and last week was refusing to attend. This week he appears to be on the back foot, with The Times going after him Revealed: Brexit backer Arron Banks's golden Kremlin connection. Indeed, The Observer reports that Arron Banks 'met Russian embassy officials multiple times before Brexit vote'. The newspaper goes on to say, "Towards the end of last year, Banks issued a statement saying his contacts with "the Russians" consisted of "one boozy lunch" at the Russian embassy. Documents seen by the Observer, suggest a different version of events." (Note that Banks has a net worth in the ~£100M range: you don't print anything about him in an English newspaper without getting a legal opinion first.) Oh, and the Fair Vote Project is going after him in court in the US, following allegations that two companies owned by Banks may have illegally exported information on British voters to the USA (in violation of UK data protection rules) for purposes of data mining (Banks had negotiated with Cambridge Analytica prior to this move).

Here's a summary of what we know so far, by way of Vice: verything you need to know about the bombshell report linking Russia to Brexit. Shorter version: Banks had extensive meetings with the Russian ambassador to the UK, who is also named on the indictment of ex-Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos; Banks also passed contact information for Trump's transition team to the Russians. So he's a critical link in the Brexit/Trump/Russia connection.

He's not the only Brexiteer in trouble in the press. Hedge fund manager and Brexiteer Crispin Odey is accused of shorting the British stock market to the tune of £500M, effectively betting that Brexit will cause the market to fall and these companies to do badly. Brexit ultra and possible Conservative party leadership challenger Jacob Rees-Mogg is under siege by the formerly-friendly Daily Mail: Mogg's Moscow Millions: Brexiteer's firm has poured a fortune into a string of Russian companies with links to the Kremlim but has invested next to nothing in Britain. And finally Neo-Nazi MEP Nigel Farage's EU pension is to be held in escrow pending the completion of ongoing fraud investigations (and, as the icing on the cake, apparently the FBI have named him as a person of interest in their ongoing investigation into Russian slush money and false news).

Let me put forward a hypothesis:

In the real world (outside the pages of fiction) only two types of conspiracy generally take place: cover-up and collusion. A cover-up generally happens when several people or groups stand to lose money or be politically embarrassed if an uncomfortable truth becomes public knowledge. See, for example, the Home Office shredding of historical records relating to the Windrush scandal lest they embarrass the Prime Minister, who was the Home Office minister who brought in the hostile environment immigration policy. And collusion generally takes place when a group of individuals or organizations stand to benefit from a course of action.

Brexit was a classic example of a collusion conspiracy. Many of the named politicians and businessmen above stand to gain millions of pounds from a hard Brexit that causes the British stock market to fall. Others stand to make millions from juicy investment opportunities they were offered in Russia. We cannot know for certain what the quid pro quo for those investment deals were at this time, but I strongly suspect that support for Brexit (and more general socially-authoritarian right-wing policies) was part of it.

And now we're seeing a rival collusion conspiracy surface. Not all billionaires stand to profit from seeing the remains of British industry sink beneath the waves, and not all of them are in the pocket of the Kremlin's financial backers. There are a bunch of very rich, rather reclusive men (and a handful of women) who probably thought, "well, let's sit back and see where this thing leads, for now" about 18 months ago. And now they can see it leading right over a cliff, and they are unhappy, and they have made their displeasure known on the golf course and in the smoke-filled rooms, and the quiet whispering campaign has finally turned heads at the top of the media empires.

If I'm right, then over the next four to eight weeks the wrath of the British press is going to fall on the heads of the Brexit lobby with a force and a fury we haven't seen in a generation. There may be arrests and criminal prosecutions before this sorry tale is done: I'd be unsurprised to see money-laundering investigations, and possibly prosecutions under the Bribery Act (2010), launched within this time frame that will rumble on for years to come.

Even if the momentum behind Brexit proves un-stoppable at this point, the Remain faction—in the shape of the corporate and political power groups who stand to lose their fortunes as a result—will seek revenge.

And in the large, I think it's no coincidence at all that this broke out in the same week as Donald Trump's epic tantrum at the G7 summit.

1456 Comments

1:

If I'm right, then over the next four to eight weeks the wrath of the British press is going to fall on the heads of the Brexit lobby with a force and a fury we haven't seen in a generation. There may be arrests and criminal prosecutions before this sorry tale is done: I'd be unsurprised to see money-laundering investigations, and possibly prosecutions under the Bribery Act (2010), launched within this time frame that will rumble on for years to come.
The press pivot has been inspiring (US person writing) to watch. I don't know the UK press well enough to properly model the pivot; intuition is saying that you're right, though.
I.e. what would derail it and how could such be stopped?


2:

[oops missed close italics on quote of toppost]

3:

I have no idea.

But what we're seeing is the equivalent of Fox News turning on Trump and the New York Times going into Watergate Investigation target-seeking mode on the alt-right. It's spectacular. Where it leads? Who the hell knows.

4:

It’s the first thing I’ve seen since the referendum that’s really given me any inkling of hope, it feels a bit like watching 2 behemoths fighting: the Brexit conspirators, and the remain dark money forces. I feel like I’m only glimpsing the surface, and I truly have no idea who will succeed. Interesting times are fucking terrifying.

5:

which gave Nigel Farage a semi-permanent slot but not once invited a guest speaker from the Green Party or the SNP
Are you sure? There was a recent episode of "More or Less" which compared the frequency of Question Time appearances by Nigel Farage (and other UKIP members) against Caroline Lucas (and other Green Party members). It concluded that UKIP had appeared slightly more often over the years but not massively so. And surely there have been SNP representatives on Question Time?
["More or Less" is broadcast by the BBC, of course].

6:

Say what you will, but if even just 10% of the Russia-connection claims, never mind rumours and innuendo, is true, the former head of KGB must walk around with a perpetual grin so wide he only fits sideways through doors.

"Globalization minus one" is an interesting scenario to think through.

7:

WARNING

My twitter feed is currently awash with Certain People threatening libel lawsuits against Other Certain People.

(Unexpectedly, it's the investigative team exposing the Leave.EU campaign anomalies who are threatening lawsuits against the Leave.EU zillionaires, who they allege have been smearing them.)

Suffice to say that if anyone reposts these allegations here, the comments will be deleted and the commenter banned.

8:

I would like to add a few other possible conspiracists to the mix, if that would be OK?

First of all, we have that rarest of beasts the sensible economist. Over in the EU we have a situation brewing whereby there's an awful lot of debt that might be bad, or might just be fluff. I suspect that quite a lot is of the form "A owes B money, B owes C money, C owes A money" which could be resolved by a sort of monetary pass-the-parcel routine which won't happen because banks aren't sensible enough. The net effect is of an almost entirely artificial disaster which doesn't actually exist except in the minds of a lot of fools.

Secondly, quite a lot of people are getting exceedingly annoyed with Germany for being a strong, hard-working and rich economic power (irony definitely intended) which thinks that because it is paying for the party, it can dictate terms to people who aren't paying.

Finally, just to add some much-needed insanity to your Twitter feed, might I make the wholly unfounded claim that the Patterson-Gimlin footage was actually a mens' razor advert which went terribly wrong?

9:

Charlie
Your last point about DT being mean to everyone ios apt.
May has (probably) finaly seen that there is no persuading the Donald - unless he wants it - & that we are "Better off IN"\
ec's comments in the previous thread about our own people being as bad as Putin's I will discount, but simply note the rate of Putin-opponents who doe conveniently, both in Russia & el;sewhere.

As you suggest all it wants is a solid enough investigation to put (say) some combination of Banks. C Analytica, maybe Mogg & one por two others in the dock - just "arraigned" will do, because mud sticks.
And the whole thing will crash & suitable excuse will be found for Referendum II/withdraw At50.

[ I wonder if simply declaring the previous referendum invalid, because of fraud & interference would wash? I suspect not & we need a second one, but we will see. ]

The USA is stuck with Trump intil 2020 - but we CAN back out of Brexit, right up untilthe last minute, actually.

10:

It's also worth noting that the Express was bought by Trinity Mirror earlier this year, and the new editor has publicly described some of their past headlines as downright offensive. A number of other members of staff also left, so I wouldn't be surprised if they soften their stance.

11:

Secondly, quite a lot of people are getting exceedingly annoyed with Germany for being a strong, hard-working and rich economic power (irony definitely intended) which thinks that because it is paying for the party, it can dictate terms to people who aren't paying.

Not exactly: the German problem is more complex. TLDR is that Joe Voter in no country anywhere truly understands the difference between a household budget and a national budget (hint: macroeconomics is counter-intuitive); and Germany, as a federal republic with a PR system, is in more or less permanent election campaign mode. So nobody is willing to tell the voters that to fix Greece you've got to lend them money and get them to spend it again, cycling it through the European economy and buying German goods and services. Instead it's all goddamn austerity, which actually cuts spending, and thereby damages the economy, making everything worse.

12:

In related "media going nuts" fun, Fox and Friends actually said "Meeting between two dictators" with regards to the North Korea summit in Singapore. This is probably nothing other than a huge Freudian slip, but it is amusing in a I-must-laugh-lest-I-weep sense.

13:

The USA is stuck with Trump intil 2020 - but we CAN back out of Brexit, right up untilthe last minute, actually.

Unfortunately not true: we can only back out if the EU27 unanimously agree to let us, or if the courts permit enough weasel-room to declare the A50 declaration invalid.

The latter might be possible but would almost certainly result in T. May's resignation, her position as the PM who invoked A50 making her continuance in office non-viable.

14:

I strongly suspect that we’re well into the territory where the outcome of cancelling Brexit or removing Trump is even less predictable than letting things continue as they are.

15:

I'm seeing weird stuff over here too, mostly economic (like reports that the million-dollar homes that they're building aren't selling, while developers are lining up to blitz the regulatory system and get permits to build huge numbers more). We may be entering that phase of peak economic growth where things are starting to bubble and pop. That would embolden investigators to go after those who, a year ago, were seen as economically invulnerable. It also suggests that investors are looking for suckers to be left holding the questionable investments when things go south.

My second suspicion is that there's a Great Game meme rising here too. What I mean is that back in the 19th Century, the Great Game was the UK and Russia playing for control of Asia. During WWII, the US inherited the UK's stake in the Great Game, and we had the Cold War.

Now it looks like Russia really played both the US and the UK. Old memories of the Great Game and the Cold War are (perhaps) fueling an urge to take down those who profited from working with the Russians, as well as to make sure our elections and politics aren't hacked any more thoroughly (say, this fall in the US).

Yes, I'm quite aware that the world has shifted dramatically since WWII, and that China and India are bigger players in Asia's future than Russia or the US (unless some idiot goes for nuclear war in a last spasm of toxic masculine display, before we shed our nuclear antlers like some bull elk at the end of the rut). My suggestion is that there's a culture war going on too (West vs. East), however the money is flowing. If said culture war tars the one world internationalists, I suspect the people who see echoes of the Great Game would think that's a good thing.

16:

if the courts permit enough weasel-room to declare the A50 declaration invalid

The Article 50 invocation needs to be made in accordance with the constitution of the withdrawing state. It would probably require another General Election first, but "No Parliament may bind its successors" may be a spot to insert the Mustelids.

17:

All very good questions, but I still think you are looking in the wrong direction. While no doubt there was an unsavory Russian link, because interfering in hostile governments' elections is SOP, and has been for centuries. But I know of no evidence that it was significant, unlike some other foreign interference.

A question only I seem to be asking is that, if one replaced Russia by the USA, what would the comparable evidence look like? A corollary is why is that not a relevant question?

One of the reasons that Gove, May and Fox are so clearly deceitful, delusional and demented is that we know what a USA trade deal would look like - TTIP, in its original form. I know of several extremely nasty USA companies (starting with Monsanto) that have been using the UK as a fifth column for years to subvert the EU and all it stands for, and would dearly love many of the provisions of that. And, if we crash out, how fast do you think that May etc. would sign up to such a deal?

18:

It seems to me that this is too little, too late. It's going to be hard to swing UK public opinion away from Brexit, it's going to be hard to get the EU to excuse the Article 50 invocation.

I think you're headed for a hard Brexit or a reentry to the EU under harsh conditions. (Joining the Euro, which might actually be worse than a hard Brexit.) I don't see any way to stop it.

19:

Note that Monsanto has been bought by Bayer ... who are dismantling it for parts and ditching the brand name because it's too toxic.

20:

Decades ago I had some contact with some Monsanto people. My take on them (which holds true for Bayer as well) is that any organization that huge is no more a monolith that the UK government or the Catholic Church is. In other words, find your allies and practice divide and conquer on them.

This isn't to say I unconditionally support mass spraying of glyphosate, but the point is to get wise about the real structure of giant organizations.

Still and all, it'll be interesting if EU laws start applying to US agriculture. And even more interesting if y'all keep the reverse from happening...

21:

I suspect a big part of this is the idea that Trump can't be trusted to keep any promise for even a month or two; the current imbroglio about tariffs being the icing on the cake, not to mention that Trump's obvious involvement with the Russians, plus the ongoing Mueller investigation has got to be pushing some serious buttons in the British version of the Deep State.

I suspect - and this is pure speculation - that there was something in the deep background of all this about how the U.K. was going to leave the EU and join NAFTA or something, but after Trump vs. Trudeau nobody can even trust that NAFTA will still exist six months from now.

Lastly, if you're Putin and you just pissed off both the U.S. and the U.K., and the rest of Europe is starting to wise up... (imagine a Pan-EU intelligence summit on the subject of Russian influence) there could be a really interesting realignment coming up in a year or two!

22:

If I had a choice between harsh outcomes, I'd rather it was a hard UK entry to the Eurozone/Schengen than a hard Brexit.

(The former at least maintains our trade relationships: the latter ... doesn't.)

23:

if the courts permit enough weasel-room to declare the A50 declaration invalid

If the Government wanted it declared invalid, they could probably go along with the Article 50 Challenge and tell the court "oh yes, they are right after all, we never actually made a formal decision".

I suspect that if we just ask to cancel it in demonstrable, or at least plausible, good faith (which I can't see happening without a change of government, or at least its leadership) the EU27 would agree. If we say we still want to leave but would like a delay because we were premature sending the withdrawal notice, not so much.

If the courts decide it was invalid, but the government wants to use that merely to delay by restarting the countdown from a new, valid, notification, the EU27 might have to accept that, but they won't be happy.

24:

As it happens I've just looked in on another forum which has a great long thread about leaving the EU - a thread which I normally avoid because the combination of the fervour of the views in favour of leaving, and the impossibility of working out what the supposed beneficial results that they anticipate so fervently actually are, is too much of a temptation to post something that would get me banned.

Nevertheless today I did look at the last couple of pages, and the whole thing seems to have turned upside down, with links to some of the same news stories that Charlie has posted, and contributors in favour of leaving notable by their paucity. Which it has to be said surprised me considerably, but maybe there is some hope.

26:

I feel that detoxifying the Daily Mail is akin to decommissioning Sellafield.

It's a fifty year job that won't be complete until the most toxic waste is entombed in concrete and buried in a deep hole.

27:

Charlie @ 13
Yes, the 27 would vot to let us cancel - one argument of the Brexiteers is true - they want the money ... AND - it saves enormous amounts of wasted effort.
May couls stay in office, PROVIDED she stuffs the 3-mad-brexiteers who are currently "negotiating" (not) with the blame - which is, actually, all-too-easy to do.
I recommemnd studying Bismarck's moves in the period 1849-66 actually .....

The Raven @ 18
Op-polls say otherwise & that a referendum now would be at least 55% remain, with the number growing by the day, as the bad news finally penetrates.

Troutwaxer @ 21
Slight correction
I suspect a big part of this is the idea that Trump can't be trusted to keep any promise for even a monthDAY or two ....

Pigeon @ 24
Yes
Interesting, that, what?

28:

"The USA is stuck with Trump intil 2020 ... "

I wonder about that?

Trump could be impeached; especially if the turmoil in the UK causes evidence of links between Brexiteers alleged collusion with Putin's Russia and Putin's interference in the U.S. election and collusion with the Trump campaign to turn up. If things go badly for the GOP in this fall's midterm elections, they might decide to get rid of Trump before he drags them all down.

29:

Trump could be impeached yes. However even if the impeachment process were to take place immediately after the midterms the whole circus can very well drag on until 2020, especially since much of it also depends on Mueller's investigations which really wouldn't wound down at least until next year as well.

Remember that the only two previous situations even remotely similar to the current, the Watergate scandal and Clinton's impeachment, both took years and only really came to a conclusion very late into either president's term.

I find it very likely that Trump would survive until 2020, whether he'll be able to effect any kind of change is another story, but barring some truly, legally damning evidence for collusion with Russia Trump is safe from at least short term consequences.

30:

I tend to agree. The most likely scenario is 2018-2020 is gridlock, because the democrats control the house, the republicans control the senate (or are split), no one wants to impeach Trump because Pence is scarier, and meanwhile the economy is bubbling and popping.

Now, about that Mueller probe. Trump can only even theoretically pardon himself for federal crimes, so I think it's at least possible that the New York AGs will have fun persecuting prosecuting Trump's family and companies in New York State Court, where they can get convictions and Trump can do nothing about them, because state's rights. It's also possible that Trump's family and business associates will be targeted by the EU.

The scarier scenario is that the Republicans impeach Trump in 2019 to steal the Democrats' thunder and to install Pence as their "cleaner" president. That might actually not be the best thing for the world...

31:

A quick question. If the UK authorities find out that there has been foreign tampering in the Brexit vote, does this give the government any recourse to invalidate the results of the referendum and stop the Brexit process?

I'd guess there would be some, perhaps even the PM (wasn't she opposed in the first place?) who might love any excuse to be able to prevent Brexit.

32:

I know it's not a good time to be saying the US has a better idea on something, but it's amazing to me that the US government is less firm on shackling states and municipalities to the Dollar than Brussels is on requiring the Euro.

US municipalities are allowed to issue dollar-denominated scrip to anyone who will take it, and let the scrip's value against the dollar float. This is how some parts of the US survived the Depression. This is what Greece really should have done in 2009, and dared Brussels to make a fuss over it. And it's why a hard Brexit is in my view better than joining the Euro. 2020 is not that far away. A sane president in the US could offer a much better deal to the UK. And Brussels might come to their senses and realize that Schengen and free trade are more important than the Euro, and offer the UK re-entry on those terms (which would require Brussels to allow other member states to issue quasi-drachmas, again a good thing in my view).

33:

Trump can only even theoretically pardon himself for federal crimes

... while he is president. If Mueller or whatever convict him after he leaves office he's going to have to rely on whoever gets it next to pardon him. Which, fingers crossed, would mean 8 years served before the next Republican president.

Not that I am optimistic, the extent to which gerrymandering is not just legal but "the way things are done" means Republican control of both houses looks about as doubtful as the result of a Russian election. Coincidence, I'm sure.

Not to mention that any appeal (of either) will likely go all the way to a Trump-appointed supreme court, and they have shown amazing "flexibility" when it comes to getting the right result. I would say 'activism" but that's a political term used to mean "not fascist" in US jurisprudence.

34:

You'd basically fall into OGH @13: since the formal Article 50 notice has been sent in, the original referendum result has been officially accepted by the UK government.

Put another way: the referendum matters to the UK government and within the UK, the Article 50 invocation is what matters for the EU.

35:

Ripenorta @ 31
All very true
But, you must remeber the amount of noise ("Sound & fury signifying nothing" maybe? ) the Brexit-Loonies can make.
The moment to show them as empty shams must be picked to an exactment - they must be allowed to be completely discredited & the toppled, or they will only come back again.

As I mentioned earlier, "Lord's Day Observance Society" - back in the 1950's everyone was terrified of them ... until, of all people, Prince Philip played Polo on a Sunday, they protested ... & it was reported, very discreetly, that, erm "strong Naval language" was used when he was asked about it.
It all went completely quiet after that.

36:

@35 I guess it depends on how much counter-noise the big media entities are making. If, as Charlie posits, this is the beginning of a media turn-around on Brexit, that Brexiteer noise could be mitigated. All a newspaper really needs to do is to mock and ridicule the likes of Farage, The Daily Mail has been doing that for years on the other side of the political fence.

As for Prince Philip. LOL. I'd believe that. PP has never been, how to say this, politically correct. He's got form down here in Oz, and I believe many other places too.

37:

"...to provide an adjustment period for leaving organizations like the Customs Union (which wasn't on the ballot in the first place)."

Let's not be naive. It's true that the Customs Union was never specifically on the ballot, the Leave campaigners tried to avoid the topic, and many voters had no idea it was an issue, but anyone with any understanding of the EU knew that if we left the EU, we were out of the Customs Union. Sure we joined the Common Market before the EU, but the European Customs Union is a different beast.

38:

Derek
I had a very-sceptical view of the EU, as some may remeber. Indeed, in some respects I still do - I hate to say it, but Crbyn has half a point.
BUT
On balance, "in" is better than "out" & what finally swayed me, on the day of the ballot was the triple-thought in my head:
"Ireland, Scotland, Gibraltar"
All of which involve serious cross-border trade & free movement of people.
All of which were caerfully ignored, pooh-ppohed or bullshitted away by the Brexiteers.

Now, it may, I hope, be coming home to roost & shit on theor windowsills & heads.

39:

Derek
Yes
It's the reason I voted remain, in spite of having semi-Corbynite sympaties, regarding corrupt businees lobbying in EU regulations.
"Ireland, Scotland, Gibraltar" - all of which involve customs problems & interference with free movement.
The Brexiteers always pretended these problems didn't exist ... now their lies might be coming home to roost & also shit on theor windowsills & heads ...

40:

Greg, since you raised the topic of the Irish border and how it was ignored/dismissed during the referendum campaigning, you (and others) may find this article interesting with respect to how the DUP crapped on their own doorstep, possibly unintentionally.

One of the many pigeons winging their way homewards? Or is it more a case of the butterflies are flapping madly, and who knows what storms are coming?

"The party enthusiastically supported Brexit but did so, one suspects, in the confident belief that it would never happen. The DUP’s Brexit campaign was a day trip to a British theme park, a chance to wave the Union flag and to be clasped warmly to the bosoms of those in the Conservative Party who welcomed any allies they could get in the glorious cause of overthrowing the imaginary oppressor in Brussels."

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/06/11/how-ulster-unionists-block-brexit/

41:

I am getting old and forgetful, but that happened only after Brexit, anyway. For another set of examples that we know were lobbying hard and are opposed to the EU, consider the medical and 'care' companies. Or the feed-lot meat factories with their steroids and antibiotics.

42:

It won't be the first time those idiots have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot, with the idiots in Whitehall and Westminster reloading for them, and given the country gangrene. I remember 1969 ....

Actually, the really interesting thing is the dog in the night time - i.e. Sinn Fein. They are clearly under orders to lie low and keep their powder dry - they don't even need to defend the line of 'no hard border', because Eire and the EU are doing it. You may be able to guess what will erupt from them and the people behind them when we crash out, but I can't.

43:

You may just be forgetting the original reason for holding the referendum; I can assure you that the May administration have not forgotten the meteoric rise of UKIP. UK politics is generally a slow, staid sort of an affair. We have two big parties plus a third one for all the misfits to lurk in, and that's how it has been for quite a while.

Then the Big Two found that the EU was absolutely wonderful for blaming unpopular but necessary legislation on (occasionally governments even went further and "goldplated" EU regulation, making it even more onerous), which slowly penetrated the public consciousness: with the notion: The EU is where the bad stuff comes from.

Cue a populist anti-EU party. Turned up from nowhere as a cult of personality, and grew, and grew, and grew. There didn't seem to be any way to get shut of UKIP save to hold the referendum that was the one issue it was campaigning on; the alternative was to tell it to get lost and watch one's own share of the vote get eroded over time. Granted, the EU high command didn't help themselves much by high-handedly telling the UK Prime Minister to get lost and sort his local populist vermin problems himself, but still.

So the UK government held the referendum, and tried their very best to rig it. Read that again: at the time of the EU referendum, BOTH big UK parties were pro-EU and BOTH were trying to rig the vote in the EU's favour (as indeed were the EU).

The vote-rigging failed, but not by very much. Notably, the further from the centres of power in London and Edinburgh you got, the more euroskeptic the populace became. The problem then was what to do: pay attention or ignore it? If the UK government ignored it, then there was the problem of what to do about UKIP, since they weren't going to go away. The rallying cry would turn from "Vote for a referendum" to "Vote for us to clean up politics and remove these two treacherous anti-democratic elites!"; UKIP would only get more popular and might well end up helping form a government which would come at a price: obey the referendum.

44:

You may be able to guess what will erupt from them and the people behind them when we crash out, but I can't.

We're into totally terror incognita on that front (typo delibrate).

What I would caution against is taking too seriously the idea that Sinn Fein is the toy of shadowy forces -- this was certainly true of it's origins, but the realtionship between Sinn Fein and the terrorists that birthed them is these days attenuated and complex, and beyond the simple organ grinder/monkey narrative drum that the DUP and fellow travellers gleefully bang at every opportunity.

Despite an early mistep of calling for a border poll immediately after the referendum result, they appear to be following the old advice of "never interrupt your enemy while they're making a mistake".

45:

I would also say that should May & Co keep the accelerator firmly stamped to the floor for a Hard Brexit, that they will be happier to throw the DUP under a bus and implement an defacto border in the Irish Sea, rather than continue to untangle the NI/ROI land border problem.

This would almost certainly leave Sinn Fein (and NI nationalists of every stripe) much happier than with a "hard border" in Ireland.

How the DUP choose to react should this happen is another question. They have several unappealing options to choose from, almost all of them ending with their influence greatly reduced and offending a chunk of their base (and that's before we even start to talk about the extrenal scandals and internal tensions that have a high chance of pulling the party apart).

46:

While I agree that the DUP's view of Sinn Fein is outdated, and it is no longer the mouthpiece for armed terrorists, my best guess of its organisation is it is like the Communist one in the Soviet Union. It's becoming more like a normal party, yes, but I believe that its strategic planning is still being done by an inner, secretive, caucus. How firm a control they still have, and how much inner dissent there is, is unclear. My guess is "Less than they think" and "More than they think", which is a good recipe for terror incognita when the Brexshit hits the fan and, true to its historical record, HMG fucks up its response to the inevitable direct action :-(

47:

"Although the referendum was framed as advisory and limited to leaving the European Union, it was received as a mandate by the Conservative hard right and their hard-left opposite numbers in Labour"

As a side note, various shades of soft Brexit would be primarily opposed at this point by people on the *right* of the Labour party, as Stephen Bush has pointed out here: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2018/06/could-labour-really-keep-united-kingdom-eea (the Kate Hoeys, Frank Fields etc).

And this formulation ignores the role of centrists of both stripes in pushing the 'Legitimate Concerns' angle which got the UK to the point where an argument based on 'The Turks are coming!!!111!' has any sort of salience.

The referendum being framed as advisory is largely irrelevant at this point - as does I would suggest the Russian angle - because ultimately no one will admit to their own vote being bought - and even absent a 'large Russian influencing campaign' the vote was always predicted to be close. A close win for Remain would have resulted in exactly the same issue of having to deal with the fact that millions of people were dissatisfied with the status quo. Harping on about this sort of thing makes for great twitter - but is ultimately doing little to persuade people to vote differently should the referendum be replayed in some form.

Finally, I would be unsurprised if there was an attempt to influence the election (there's documentary evidence of the Soviets trying to influence US elections during the Reagan era, and plenty of evidence that the US did similar), I don't expect there to be any kind of big denouement, simply because Western Democracies are a lot more corrupt than people will admit.

48:

at the time of the EU referendum, BOTH big UK parties were pro-EU and BOTH were trying to rig the vote in the EU's favour (as indeed were the EU).

If the Powers-That-Be were trying to "rig the vote" as you say they missed a few opportunities such as forgetting to allow British citizens living in the EU to vote or allowing 16-year-olds in Scotland to vote (which they did for the Independence referendum a couple of years earlier). if they had allowed either or both interested groups to vote it would have been a lot closer or indeed a reversal of the actual result.

Both parties, Conservative and Labour, have a significant number of xenophobic supporters who are anti-EU and the only way to keep them from voting UKIP was to be at least agnostic about the referendum and appear even-handed. In the 2015 General election UKIP got 3.8 million votes, comfortably beating the Lib Dems 2.4 million votes. After the referendum "win", in the 2017 election UKIP got 600,000 votes as the protest voters returned to their roots. This has been noted in both parties with the understanding that any attempt to reverse the referendum result will cause it to happen again.

49:

Dan, whilst Labour were pro-EU, they were almost completely silent during the "debate".

The Leave and Remain campaigns were therefore almost entirely run by Tories, and were not strongly driven by facts. More than that, both campaigns were personal opportunities for those Tory MPs to launch themselves into the public eye and further their careers. More than that, the Tory government and David Cameron were not at all liked by the public, and Cameron explicitly tied himself to Remain. And more than that, there was substantial media bias in favour of Leave.

As a result, there was a substantial Leave vote simply as a rejection of David Cameron and Tory rule. Newspaper bias made people think that there was an honest debate over facts which simply were not true. And the whole thing devolving to a private bunfight between Tories put many people off voting altogether.

Of course both parties had opinions on which way was best for the country (namely Remain), because every study by every competent organisation said that Remain was best for the country economically. I don't think you can say that putting out that information qualifies as trying to rig the result though.

50:

Err, you might misinterpret some things; there is a difference between the EU and the Eurozone. With the UK not pressed to join, AFAIK.

Schengen is a whole different matter, with quite a few non-EU members.

As for local currencies, there are plenty in Europe, too:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_currency#Europe

Please note quite a few of those tied to Gsell's theories might make for, err, interesting discussions...

51:

"Tried their very best to rig it [in favour of the EU]"... er, what?

The whole point was that it was expected to deliver a large majority in favour of Remain, which would in effect give the xenophobic screaming party a slap across the face with a wet dishcloth and say "see? now go away, you silly little boys", and the silly little boys would go back to sulking in the corner while we all got back to normal. Nobody considered Leave seriously stood a chance, otherwise they wouldn't have been given one in the first place.

Trying to rig it in favour of the EU would have been a waste of effort, since nobody anticipated a situation where it could potentially have an effect. They didn't even think it was worth putting any effort into the actual overt Remain propaganda campaign, let alone any putative cloak-and-dagger stuff.

(Same among the general public, with all the people who supported Remain but couldn't be arsed to vote because "everyone knew" Remain was going to win. Or who supported Remain but still voted Leave simply in order to stick two fingers up to Cameron, never imagining that the Leave total would be significant enough to do any more than embarrass him.)

The fundamental mistake was to take UKIP in any way seriously in the first place. They were repeatedly and laughably useless at getting any parliamentary seats. Single-issue minority parties always are: when the results come in you point and laugh at how badly they've done, and UKIP's general election results were all of that variety. Had they just been ignored they would have faded from sight and become just another of the myriad minority parties that nobody gives a second thought to. The existence of a political climate that even takes the idea of leaving the EU seriously is a post-referendum phenomenon and is caused by the Conservative party throwing petrol on the fire instead of letting it go out.

52:

I'm not sure that Murdoch is pivoting in any meaningful way. Carol Cadwalladr seems to have forced News Corp's hand, having independently come up with information which the Times had been sitting on, so now they're trying to get out in front of the story, shape it, manage it, perhaps throw a few brexiteers under the bus, while assuring people that breaking a few bad eggs won't spoil the Brexit omelette.

53:

I think that was the U.K. version of "...because everyone knows that Hillary is going to win the election."

54:

Actually, Charlie, I'm looking forward to more from the UK press. for very personal reasons: if your press turns, there will be repercussions in the US. And with the Banks lawsuit.... It's clear that right-wing 0.1%ers in the US helped fund the Brexit campaign, as much as the Russians played The Game with both the UK and the US in the run-up to both '16 elections.

The one thing I wish Putin would realize is that, though he's getting what he wants for now, including revenge for the economic destruction of the USSR, with all the grief that meant for the 99%, what would be left would be very, very bad. I have doubts he'd like to see a Balkanize US or UK - we all know what that looks like in the FSSR.

55:

I just had a hysterical thought: wouldn't it be amusing, now that Murdoch is spinning off a lot, like 21st Century Fox, and "focusing" on Faux News... if Murdoch in the UK was caught up in all this, and started down... and then dragged down Faun in the US?

Oh, frabjious day!

56:

There's a huge amount of buyer's remorse; has been since the day after the referendum. So maybe that is coming to dominate public opinion. Still, it is difficult for me to see how that will be translated into action.

57:

Ok, Trumpolini actually has done *one* thing* I approve of: without telling the Pentagon, he says he's going to cancel the war games with SK. I mean, I dunno why, they were never a provocation, nor threat that we were going to invade, just because they were right on NK's border....

But I was guessing what he got for it... and a little bit later, my guess was confirmed. It seems he told Kim that if they denuclearized, they could have the "best hotels"...

58:

I just had a hysterical thought: wouldn't it be amusing, now that Murdoch is spinning off a lot, like 21st Century Fox, and "focusing" on Faux News... if Murdoch in the UK was caught up in all this, and started down... and then dragged down Faun in the US?
You are not alone. (Very much not alone.)

59:

Parliament cant bind its self I think you mean.

As a former whip said to me the executive can get up to "naughty shit"

60:

Exactly the referendum from a technical perspective was handed grossly incompetently.


A local allotment society would not change its rules on a 50% +1.

All the legal precedent "citrine" etc are pretty clear that a major constitutional changes should be 2/3 or 75%

61:

"So the UK government held the referendum, and tried their very best to rig it. Read that again: at the time of the EU referendum, BOTH big UK parties were pro-EU and BOTH were trying to rig the vote in the EU's favour (as indeed were the EU)."

From what I understand, the Tories did rig the election - in favor of Brexit.

For example, British subjects living outside of the UK were not allowed to vote on this. I'd expect them to be 90% against Brexit.

For another, the Tories pitched this as what it was - a 100% advisory, non-binding referendum. Then when it passed, they declared that they were bound by it.

62:

...they have made their displeasure known on the golf course and in the smoke-filled rooms, and the quiet whispering campaign has finally turned heads at the top of the media empires

I won't deny that effect.

But I think it's also important to remember how much journalists are herd-creatures who just follow the herd. Like most primates.

Their readers are the same. As Pratchett put it: people don't read news they read olds. They want more of the same, the next bit of the saga, the "breaking news" that just confirms what they were told yesterday.

Establish a pattern (deliberately or accidentally), and it runs itself. People who have been reading about the great Brexit Russian conspiracy will be primed to read the next part of that saga. Journalists who have been reading and writing about that want to do the same.

Clinton's email server became constant news the same way: the story fed on itself, even when there really was nothing there to begin with. It was news because it was news.

63:

Yes.

I'm more than a little put out that I couldn't vote. I'd have been more than willing to take a day off work to get to the local consulate to vote there. Didn't get the chance, of course.

64:

"Today" programme - just now.
Retiring head of CBI stating that (to the effect of) "Brexit is an utter disaster" & "It's all ideology, with no content"
The Tories are notorious as the "pro-Business" party - yet most business' are screaming blue murder over Brexit.
As stated by others above, Labour are utterly useless, because Corbyn & momnetum are ant-Brexit.

Final reminder, the areas that voted hardest agin Brexit are usually safe Labour seats with huge EU subsidies to their areas, which still makes no sense at all.

65:

The whole thing damned thing lost any connection with reality (or indeed EU membership) long ago. It’s all dog whistles, special interest hijack attempts, self interest, and cynical ambition from top to bottom now and there’s simply no point trying to make any sense of it.

The worst of it is that (quite apart from the economic and social effects of being in or out of the EU) UK politics is now poisoned for a generation with irreconcilable schisms running through electorate, political parties, and institutions from top to bottom.

66:

Here in the real world the drumbeat of bad economic news continues. ... UK manufacturing output is falling at its fastest rate since 2012.

But I did notice that the cited article continues: "Although factory output fell to its second-lowest level since the EU referendum last month, a jump in new orders growth indicated that demand for the booming sector remains robust." So at least, they imply, the demand is there.

67:

The fundamental mistake was to take UKIP in any way seriously in the first place. They were repeatedly and laughably useless at getting any parliamentary seats.

The Conservative party couldn't ignore them because the Tories were haemorrhaging voters from the right of the party, who defected to UKIP. UKIP's anti-European stance was always a dog-whistle for anti-immigration, i.e. racism. (There was also some — less — defection from Labour.)

In a first past the post constituency which might break 20% LibDem, 36% Labour, and 44% Tory, the Tory candidate had a safe-ish parliamentary seat.

If you expand it so that it breaks 20% LibDem, 20% UKIP, 31% Labour, and 29% Tory, the Tory candidate loses to Labour and the seat changes hands.

This is why UKIP was impossible for Cameron to ignore; at the pace their base was expanding in 2014, it was only a matter of time before they rendered the Conservatives unable to hold onto parliament (without actually making a breakthrough themselves).

(American readers: remember that the English conflate "immigrant" with "ethnic minority", because there's no equivalent of the African-American or Native American communities in the UK, i.e. unassimilated, visually distinctively different people present for many centuries, making up a double-digit percentage of the total population. The UK has always had immigration, but prior to the 1920s the immigrants generally assimilated into invisibility within a generation or three, so the cultural assumption of ethnic homogeneity could persist. So people who look different are "immigrants". This is now breaking down somewhat — the Windrush generation arrived in the 1950s and there has now been a substantial Anglo-Caribbean community for around 70 years — but it just makes the target of "anti-immigrant" racism a moving target, hence far right anti-Polish(!) racism.)

68:

You seem to think Putin is planning for the long term.

I think this is a mistake. He's 65: his life expectancy is probably 20-30 years (assuming he's in good health with good medical care and bucks the trend for Russian males). His goals are (a) stay on top of the oligarchy, (b) defend Mother Russia (easiest to achieve by sowing strife among enemies so that they weaken themselves), (c) make potloads of money.

He's not some modernizing Peter the Great figure, although he probably likes the image. Everything about his government is short-term reactivity, given a veneer of justification by knuckle-dragging reactionary ideologues like Dugin.

69:

The real fun is going to kick in at Brexit Day minus 183, when six-month ahead bookings/contracts open up and nobody knows what the hell is going to happen (see for example airline passenger ticket sales), and at Brexit Day minus 91, when we hit the three month countdown (90 day contracts for transport of goods, for example).

I'm guessing that unless a ton of stuff is hammered down no later than September 1st, we're going to see alarm bells ringing as sales fall off a cliff and supply chains seek to route around a perceived road-block ahead. And I'm calling it for full-on recession no later than January 1st unless we get a solid commitment to remain in the Customs Union, at a minimum.

70:

...and the BBC will still be denying that it has anything to do with brexit.

71:

Yes, indeed. But what is being completely denied in public and by the media and chattering classes, is just how irrelevant Putin is to western electoral processes - except in the same role as Emmanuel Goldstein, of course. On both sides of the pond, those in government have stated explicitly (when they were constrained against lying) that there was negligible and at most ineffectual Russian involvements in electoral processes. And the claimed links of oligarchs and politicians with Putin have repeatly shown to be no more than their links with other unsavoury political people, and to have no apparent effect other than being borderline corruption.

72:

My only issue with this article is that it seems to only pick confirmatory items.

And while it hinges on collusion, many of the things like shorting British stock are options open to *anyone* with money at short notice. For example the shorting stock bit. He gained no special benefit because he equally could have shorted some other countries stock... or bet the other way and anyone else could have shorted the same stock. he had no personal competitive advantage granted by brexit.

As for potential quid-quo-pro... I kinda wonder how much is more akin to examples Goldacre gives in his books about doctors and pharma companies. Pharma companies have the option of hiring unethical doctors willing to lie through their teeth and claim drug X is wonderful... but it's easier/cheaper/more proof against attack for them to give slight career boosts to individuals who legitimately and honestly believe that drug X is great and help them get their message out more effectively. It even comes with the bonus that the individual's involved can be honest, principled and incorruptible as individuals and the pharma company doesn't have to coach them or attach strings to anything.

I'm reasonably sure that many Brexit supporters, even many of the big names, honestly believe their own claims. I think they're morons... but that doesn't make them omni-evil. there's no requirement that they wake up every morning and find "evil deeds" listed in their day planner.

73:

The post-Hutton BBC will take the government line, whatever it is, and take a mixture of lines if given the opportunity. There are still a lot of competent people working for it, some of whom have no time for Brexit or the current bunch of unfunny clowns.

But back to OGH's point, it's increasingly clear that May's only skill is prevarication, as even unimaginative reporters have now realised, though few seem to have realised those contractual issues. Personally, I think that the increasing level of problems is going to have the frog-boiling effect, and the rabid Brexiteers are going to get their train crash, by default.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/theresa-may-won-vote-brexit-future-dominic-grieve-whips-rebellion-a8395181.html

I can't find it again, but one Web page used quotes from prominent rebels and brexiteers saying "May has promised Parliament the decision if negotiations fail" and "Nothing has been promised to the rebels". Expect more fireworks shortly.

And, of course, she has now got three constraints imposed on her as the result of her prevarication promises: "No customs union (etc.) membership", "No hard border in the Irish sea" and "No hard border between Eire and Northern Ireland". Yeah, right.

74:

Of course, Putin having at least two children and likely caring for them might change that perspective somewhat, but then, quite a few Rossiyane sending their children into Western Europe might caution against overestimating an effect...

75:

The other problem for the Tories, aside from a migration of voters away from them, was the fact that at that time a certain Jeremy Corbyn was still enjoying something of a honeymoon period as a new Labour leader. For the benefit of non-UK folks, the Labour Party of the UK started out as a workers' rights party drawing much from the ideologies of Karl Marx et al, but in recent years veers sharply towards the middle ground; the most successful Labour leader for forty-odd years (he won elections!) was Tony Blair, whose politics were almost indistinguishable from the Tory party at that time.

The Labour Party, unlike most other UK political parties, is very, very inclusive in its membership. The Tories will summarily expel members found to be far-right extremists, the Lib-dems are a happy home for idealists of every stripe provided they don't want power; Labour on the other hand welcomes left-wingers of all stripe and flavour. This makes the party somewhat schizophrenic in nature, with the membership being a heterogeneous mix of everything from closeted Blairites to rabid Marxists whereas the MPs are mostly much closer to Blair than to Marx.

Jeremy Corbyn is a very different sort of fellow, with a history of being very left-wing and thus his election to the position of Labour leader was a massive surprise to the mostly moderate, centrist Labour MPs. It was also a major shock, because his politics were very different from theirs.

The reason Labour mostly stayed quiet during the Brexit campaign was because the party was trying desperately to reconcile a near-Marxist leader with a cadre of much more moderate MPs, and having quite a difficult time of it; in short Labour had better things to be concentrating on other than the political and economic future of the UK.

76:

EC @ 71
DON'T believ you.
I realise you are of the opinion that "the west" is irredeemably corrupt & no better than some tin-pot African/S American/Middle Eastern dictatorships, with merely a veneer of respectability.
But, do you know: It isn't true.
Yes, there are many bad things & people around, but, usually attempts & steps are taken to prevent these things.
And V Putin is not irrelevant - because, like DT, he believes politics is a zero-sum game he is automatocally our enemy (unfortunately).

Dan H
JC has a history of not having had an original idea since about 1975, with a political ideolgy stuck im 1934.
Mpmentum are, to all intents & purposes, marxists.
Ernie Bevin is probably spinning at near-mach-speed right now, with C Attlee also rotating gently.
What we desperately need are more Labour MP's like mine, who is utterly brilliant, has a majority of over 20 000 & needless to say is strongly "remain" & "M" want to get rid of her, by "reselecting" some moronic marxist hack. [ Stella Creasey - if you are not familiar, please look her up. ]
PLEASE EVERYBODY - much as some of us would like to imagine it's "all the fault of the evil tories" - it ain't so.

78:

Looking at the Sun's frontpage from yesterday I don't think that Murdoch changed his view on Brexit.

But reality is coming back to bite the Brexiteers. They promised something impossible and now find out they can't deliver. And even the ones who think a no-deal Brexit would be a good idea will soon find out that such a Brexit is not economically survivable by the UK.

79:

While I do consider the observation of Putin's policy as very insightful by modern standard, I would like to comment on "long term planning". In modern world hardly anyone can count on any sort of planning, much less long-term - I am talking about Real Plans, not abstract declarations to conquer Mars with the power of venture marketing and make it into a lush garden. From what I gather, the best countries of the world usually have plans until next presidential or parliamentary elections, some of the rest less powerful (Russia included) have 1 to 3 years ahead. Most countries do not posses enough sovereignty to have any plans at all. That said, for Putin having a Plan that extends at least into a decade would put him into the ethereal realm of prophets and gods, an unholy avatar of Sauron of Earth, who holds the threads of fate of this world. No, the plans are much more shorter and, supposedly, more effective at that, and everything else is only the rich imagination of people who put him into the position of evil deity.

(This is my first post in this blog comment section and thus I am well aware how my usual didactic or sarcastic tone may be perceived by other people. I chose not to falter. My knowledge on topics like this originates from many hours of semi-official political debates I regularly watch on radio-TV-YT.)

80:

You should try reading and inwardly digesting what I post before reacting, as well as reading a few less establishment sources; try Private Eye, for a start. Despite my low-level and very indirect contact with official actions, I also have knowledge of a good many such episodes that did NOT come to Lord Gnome's ear. To mention just one very public example, remember the Saudi arms affair? If you have any evidence that Putin or Russia has done anything beyond that which has been done by the USA and Israel, why don't you contact one of the inquiries? Because nothing has been published.

Your remark about mental attitudes was irrelevant.

To repeat: But what is being completely denied in public and by the media and chattering classes, is just how irrelevant Putin is to western electoral processes - except in the same role as Emmanuel Goldstein, of course.

81:

Actually, it's probably WE who will discover that - they are mostly in positions where they are not dependent on the UK economy :-(

82:

AV
Spot on
Just for once I agree with EC - they are immune to Brexit - but, even so, reality is approaching, & as Charlie says, as the deadlines of 6 months & 90 days cut in, a withdrawl of At 59 gets more likely.
BUT ...
Because of the Brexiteers' ;oudmouthings, it has GOT to be closely-timed, or they will scream "betrayal" at every opportunity.
They are not yet discredited enough.

[ E.C. I've been a Private Eye subscriber for over 20 years ... ]

84:

To fall back to my original idea of commenting on The Pivot, I want to spell out the point of view of outsider observer. It is because, as they say, larger things are more visible from the distance.

I do not venture too often into English sources and my primary source of information is not the mainstream media. Of course they are necessary for prominently volumetric understanding of situation, but build anything on their "assumptions" is beyond my self-respect. While most sources continue to post unrelenting and unstoppable flow of articles telling the story of Russia's Malign Activity (I do not know if modern jurisprudence does indeed have such term in use, it smells of witch hunt), there are always critics, and some of them aren't even connected to Russian government or nation. In mainstream media they are, unsurprisingly: a) distorted b) ignored c) used as to prove the opposite of their intentions.

For what I am more used to deal with for the last decade of observations (I count from 08.2008), there's roughly two pressing concern standing before Russian Federation: economical and military issues. They are not abstract concerns of ideology or influence, like a election FB ads or talking to foreign officials. Economical issues include very concrete measures to block flow of sales, investments, technology and materials, industry cooperation and alike. This also includes ignoring national jurisdictions and laws, boycotting or pressing of international organizations, kidnapping nationals, arresting of property and assets and so on. As for the military action, this article can probably give a hint about what is coming through. There are, of course, theological calculations behind these acts, why would anyone do that and what is the goal, but they come after the fact.

Now, for better understanding, I have to assure everybody that these measures did not start in recent years, no-no. They have been persistent for the whole post-Soviet period, effectively locking the country behind well-polished and properly decorated Iron Curtain. It is only in the recent years that the country started to reveal itself outside it's borders, the pressure and renewed efforts started to mount exponentially. To put it into perspective, as it turns out, Russia is NOT primary target of this activity by US and satellites. Russia is an asymptotic vanishing point of these measures, it is closely guarded by ICBM early warning system and nuclear arsenal, as well as decent army. US may gravitate towards the red line but will never cross it by itself. The primary target of pressure, by all definitions of it, is (now) the US satellites. All such measures are acting as unbearable burden on members of G7, and, as time progresses, their desperation becomes more palpable.

So what do I make out of it, what will happen soon? Nothing special. Probably UK will make another case that will surpass Scripal case by a long run (though this would be a hard task to do in several areas of expertise). Probably. But it will not lead anywhere, since there's no substantial premise for any change of course - the miracle would not happen, and The Pivot will again become but a trick of the light.

85:

But, Charlie - no large percentage of "unassimilate? And here I thought all o' ye Scots, and some Cymry.....

86:

I disagree. I see him acting as a *very* experienced and *competant* ex-KGB officer. Certainly, it appears from here that he's literally running DT (and giving us all the dt's). I really have a hard time seeing Trump breaking the Western Alliance by sheer ignorance and tantrums.

We also *know* that if he doesn't actually control some of the Russian big money - banks, gold mines, etc - he and they would certainly fall into the category of "one dirty hand washing the other", and I'd guess they all resent what the West did to the USSR, and want to return the favor.

So, yes, there is a "malign influence". Of course, Trumpolini & co were directly involved: I figure that when he goes down, a serious chunk of world money-laundering is going to either be shut down, or extremely discommoded.

87:

Note interesting use of English by Sleepingroutine at number 84. It hints of a Russian accent. Normally I wouldn't criticize - I was raised in the U.S. andI'm pretty much monolingual - but I think OGH has come to the attention of important people who wish to influence debate.

...point of view of outsider observer.

"an outside observer?"

...prominently volumetric understanding of situation, but build anything on their "assumptions" is beyond...

"of the situation, but to build anything?"

"continue to post unrelenting and unstoppable flow of articles"

"post an unrelenting?"

And note particularly the spelling of "Scripal," which I've only found in one place - an article by the Russian Ambassador to ASEAN in the Jakarta Post. Everyone else spells it "Skripal."

From where do you hail, Sleepingroutine?

Charlie, my apologies if I've broken any blog rules, but Sleepingroutine looks like "Fake News" to me.

88:

I am perfectly fine with Brexit. Maybe the EU can evolve in a more sustainable direction without that particular albatross around the neck of Brussels?

The way I see things, the UK only initially joined in order to derail the project. When that didn't pan out the UK position was being all "free-market", a sometimes even virulent supporter of an ideology of "Freedom for Markets, Capital and Business preferably at the expense of people - especially Foreigners and Socialists". The ECJ sometimes got in the way of that mission, hence the decades of pure hatred lavished upon it.

I think the pivoting is all virtue-signalling; Everyone, even that generally dum-dum British executive class, now knows the entire affair will be a disaster and now they want to be recorded in history as having "... reasoned to the very best of their ability ... yet all these other people simply would not listen to reason ...".

"The Pivot" will come apart as soon as it is tested. It is more of the usual UK "we are very special so you people must somehow arrange your affairs around our special and more important needs."

While failing to recognise still that, the EU is holding all of the cards at this point. To cancel the process there will not only be much groveling but also real concessions to be made to Brussels.

No way any British in any from of Authority will tolerate (or perhaps survive) that.

The Germans / French might not either - the losses from Brexit are already written off, adjustments made to business plans and now they are looking to take a chunk out of The City and maybe even do something about those pesky tax-havens too. That would be popular amongst the citizenry.

Brussels are already testing the waters. There is a new directive coming up for 2 months maternity leave for fathers. The Neo-Linberal regime in Denmark are literally fuming over the proposal, but, now without Britain helping to block this proposal for them, they will have to suck it right up!

https://politiken.dk/indland/politik/art6580770/EUs-plan-om-øremærket-barsel-til-mænd-møder-stor-modstand-blandt-Folketingets-partier

The train has left the platform. It is unstoppable, just like the Brexiteers wanted.

89:

But, Charlie - no large percentage of "unassimilate? And here I thought all o' ye Scots, and some Cymry.....

Those are no-shit entire countries, not immigrant minorities. Different context.

90:

From where do you hail, Sleepingroutine?

To be fair, sleepingroutine isn't trying to hide anything: The email address they registered with incorporates the name "anton petrov", which is just possibly a clue.

Given that the news environment in Russia is ever so slightly different to what we marinate in here, this looks like honest engagement to me, and as such, is not a breach of the moderation policy.

91:

I think that you (i.e. USA people) are trying to evade responsibility; oh, yes, Putin is taking advantage of Trump, but he is your very own King Stork, elected on a platform of opposing every political convention of the past few decades.

I said "western electoral processes", and there is damn all evidence for (and quite a lot against) him having had any serious effect on the election, or even having done more interference than is SOP for almost all countries with an international presence. Compared with the electoral meddling of the USA and (until quite recently) UK, that's not even visible!

92:

On the gripping hand, note the content of his post, though I must concede his sentiments may be sincere.

93:

Almost everything he said can be checked in the western press, and is factually correct. In what way do you claim that is fake news?

94:

Oh, I see, even though this time I tried to be more eloquent then I usually am, it doesn't take too much for educated person to spot the irregularities. Maybe if I was a Fake News job for real, I wouldn't make such obvious mistakes, but I'm taking my own interest in collecting the news and stories. Listening to alternative opinions, they sometimes expose things hilarious or terrifying.

It doesn't take too much these days to learn English as a second language, especially if you are a member of some gaming community or sci-fi enthusiast. And at least in part, it comes from reading Charlie's books, so you can thank him later.

95:

My view on Putin is that he's somewhat modernizing but isn't into full-on modernization as we know it. Keep in mind that this is limited to western sources, so I'm not sure how accurate the picture is.

1. I haven't seen it reported outside of Bloomberg, but Putin is trying to improve Russia's agricultural sector. This is a smart move since Russia has the potential to be a huge agricultural exporter beyond just soybeans

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-03/importing-apple-trees-instead-of-apples-russia-secures-its-food

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-17/china-buys-record-amount-of-russian-soy-as-it-shuns-u-s-growers

2. His view on manufacturing is: "we can buy it from the West or from China. We don't really need a non-military manufacturing sector". See his decision to exit the commercial satellite market rather than compete with SpaceX and China's space program.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/04/russia-appears-to-have-surrendered-to-spacex-in-the-global-launch-market/

3. He seems to be trying to improve the standard of living in large cities. I don't know if this extends outside of Moscow and Saint Petersburg?

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jun/08/is-the-moscow-experiment-over-gorky-park-sergei-kapkov-alexei-navalny

Interesting tidbit: Russia has an urbanization rate close to that of Germany (74% vs 75.3%)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbanization_by_country

4. He's using Syria to forge an informal alliance with Iran. To do any overland trading between China and Europe, you have three options: Russia, Iran, an underwater tunnel in the Caspian Sea.

5. I don't know if this news source is accurate. If true, opening a base in Somaliland + expanding the bases in Syria shows that Putin is trying to create a new sphere of influence outside of Russia's traditional sphere. How much influence over the Suez canal traffic would this base give him?

http://capitalethiopia.com/2018/04/30/russia-first-military-base-somaliland/

What I don't know?

1. What is his view on immigration into Russia, especially from the stans.

2. What is his view on China's One-Belt-One Road policy? Does he resent the role of China muscling into Russia's traditional sphere? Is he delighted or upset that this project could increase living standards to the point it removes the incentive for the people there to immigrate to Russia?

96:

That is the bright side to Brexit :-(

To be fair, the UK did NOT sign the Maastricht treaty (or, earlier, join the EEC) in order to sabotage the EU. That came later, when the EU was adopting - shock! horror! - the approach of standing up for citizens' rights, civil liberties, humanitarianism, ecological responsibility and even (now I must wash my mouth out with soap!) socialism. I have been saying for some time that the UK has been acting as the USA military-industrial complex's fifth column in the EU, which is why most of Washington were pressing the UK to stay in.

97:

... the US government is less firm on shackling states and municipalities to the Dollar than Brussels is on requiring the Euro.

This is a recurring theme that totally baffles me.

From where I sit, getting the Euro is a reward that countries get if a) they want it (and most do so very much) and b) they show that their economy is stable enough. Thus also previous governments of Greece cheating and lying to get the Euro.

Why do Brits think that anybody wants to force them on the Euro?

If you do cross-border commerce, different currencies are a right pain in the backside, but that's a companies argument, not a politicians or EU administration argument.

98:

the German problem is more complex. TLDR is that Joe Voter in no country anywhere truly understands the difference between a household budget and a national budget

The other thing is that memories of the hyperinflation in Germany 1914 to 1923 persist, although by now in the third generation (the generation that lived through it consciously no longer has many members, but I doubt I'm the only person my age who got told by their grandparents how awful it was). This results in the word "inflation" being a bad one, evoking ghosts of destitution and despair, not of banks paying decent interest.

99:

A bunch of thoughts in no particular order:

A lot of the maneuvering is the old Great Game problem of who controls the center of Asia (the land routes), who controls the periphery (the sea routes), and which control is more important. In terms of moving goods, shipping over water is more efficient than even hauling by rail or pipeline. Pipelines are better for volume, but in terms of sheer efficiency, controlling the waves is the most important. Hence, of course, the British Empire's power, even though it's the UK is dinky. Controlling the overland movement of stuff isn't necessarily as cool as it sounds, because it's cheaper to send a cargo ship through a canal or around the capes.

Putin's still wed to the petrochemical industry, so control of gas fields and pipelines is important to him. I suspect that if the world makes a jump to non-nuclear renewable power, Russia's going to be left in the dust, except for a lot of windmills powering its cities. Still, if you think about his controlling land as about controlling Central Asian oil, what he's doing with Iran makes sense.

A big part of the USSR's food productivity was in Ukraine. Hence, Ukrainian independence was a Bad Thing, and the West courting Ukraine was an Even Worse Thing. Yes, there's the whole mess around the Aral Sea, but that's not panning out the way Soviet planners expected it to.

100:

Russia is replacing its older nuclear reactors and expanding its fleet like some other oil and gas-exporting countries such as the UAE and Iran which are building or expanding their own nuclear power plants. Using nuclear power at home means they can export more oil and especially gas to renewables-obsessed nations such as Germany which are abandoning their own nuclear fleets.

Rosatom is also exporting reactors -- China has just inked a deal to build four more VVER-series PWRs, India is getting a couple at Koodankulam and a number of other countries such as Finland and Egypt are interested.

101:

Charlie, my apologies if I've broken any blog rules, but Sleepingroutine looks like "Fake News" to me.

Oh FFS.

New poster sounds ever so slightly foreign and you subject them to intense scrutiny to determine whether they're a Russian agent or not?

And Charlie, I do not blame you at all for checking the credentials of a new poster - it's your blog, you should keep an eye on the guests. But going public with their name? How would it look to you if a customs officer announced at Heathrow airport "It's OK folks, I don't think Mr Petrov is a Russian spy"?

And oh yeah, Russians emigrate too. I'm sitting next to an _ov at my workplace in Canberra, Australia. Nice guy. No reason at all to believe he's a KGB dissemination agent. (And now I'm just waiting for "of course he wouldn't be obvious".)

102:

It wasn't just the language but the content. As I noted above, I'm a monolingual American, and his English is a lot better than my Russian! (I really don't want to be a hypocrite here!) I didn't write a long post because I'm in the middle of moving right now, read number 84 and pay some real attention to the content:

"US may gravitate towards the red line but will never cross it by itself. The primary target of pressure, by all definitions of it, is (now) the US satellites. All such measures are acting as unbearable burden on members of G7, and, as time progresses, their desperation becomes more palpable."

In short, it wasn't just the foreign sounds of the speaker! Trump does as Putin wishes, gives the G-7 a hard time, and this guy shows up on Charlie's blog a couple days later pushing the Trump/Putin party line in a post which argues that Brexit might not happen!

103:

I'm sitting next to an _ov at my workplace in Canberra, Australia. Nice guy. No reason at all to believe he's a KGB

Round here ex-Russians are more likely to be Mossad than KGB :)

... at least in my experience. We have a fair number of religious Jews who arrived via Israel, often with one or more generatons between departing the motherland and arriving in terror nullis.

104:

""We don't really need a non-military manufacturing sector"."

Unless you need to support a large military manufacturing sector. This assumes a major separation.

105:

"A sane president in the US could offer a much better deal to the UK."

And when was the last time the U.S. had a "sane" President?

106:
“Trump can only even theoretically pardon himself for federal crimes”

"... while he is president. If Mueller or whatever convict him after he leaves office he's going to have to rely on whoever gets it next to pardon him. Which, fingers crossed, would mean 8 years served before the next Republican president."

IF he can pardon himself, he can pardon himself for any crimes he "might" have committed, without actually admitting he'd committed any crimes. That was the deal when Ford pardoned Nixon. Nixon hadn't been formally accused or indicted when Ford pardoned him for Watergate. Nixon was never required to admit guilt.

There's also the Iran/Contra precedent of lame duck George H.W. Bush pardoning all the witnesses against him before their trials could even be scheduled.

I think there's a good chance that if the courts were to rule against Trump in such a situation - a low probability given the way the GOP is currently packing the courts, but it might happen - there would actually be a right-wingnut insurrection seeking to impose a "second amendment solution".

I hope I'm wrong and just being alarmist. I'm afraid I'm not.

107:

IF he can pardon himself, he can pardon himself for any crimes he "might" have committed, without actually admitting he'd committed any crimes

I presume that's only past tense - he can't pardon himself for crimes he hasn't committed yet? What about ones that haven't been discovered yet? I'm thinking Mueller might be smart enough to delay the big reveal until after Trump has lost the ability to pardon shitself.

Also, geez, talk about a loophole you could drive a truck through. It seems like something so obviously wrong and stupid that the men that wrote that should be dug up, hanged, burnt at the stake, then reburied someone no-one has to deal with their idiocy any more.

John Holbo at Crooked Timber has an interesting sunk costs fallacy (partial) explanation for how the Trumpists have ended up where they are. Loosely, by starting out with accepting only slightly crazy lies his supporters are now having to say "do I admit to being an idiot for accepting past lies, or do I support the new lie" every time the crazy one ramps it up another notch.

108:

"Controlling the overland movement of stuff isn't necessarily as cool as it sounds, because it's cheaper to send a cargo ship through a canal or around the capes."

If it's so inconsequential as you make it seem, then why is China spending so much money building the New Silk Road? Overland trade won't dwarf seagoing trade, but I think China is right that it still can grow. After all, we have a lot of coast-to-coast shipments in trains and trucks in North America instead of using the Panama Canal.

"Still, if you think about his controlling land as about controlling Central Asian oil, what he's doing with Iran makes sense."

Oil is probably part of it, but I'm not convinced it's the primary motivation. Underwater pipeline technology is advanced enough that you can build a pipeline under the Caspian Sea from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan while bypassing both Russia and Iran.

"Yes, there's the whole mess around the Aral Sea, but that's not panning out the way Soviet planners expected it to."

Actually, part of the Aral Sea is recovering nicely. TLDR. The Aral Sea is divided between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan's been getting a lot of money due to its oil reserve, and being the main headquarters of Western companies investing in the New Silk Road (China and Iran are out for obvious reasons). They've been using the money to repair their share of the Aral Sea. Uzbekistan is still too poor and cotton is still too important to their exports to try and fix it. In other words, only the Uzbek Aral Sea is still dying.

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

109:

A sane president in the US could offer a much better deal to the UK. And Brussels might come to their senses and realize that Schengen and free trade are more important than the Euro,

I am sorry, this is exactly the kind of reasoning that make people in Europe understand that Brexit is probably worth all of the (rather small) costs and more - an opportunity!

The British Empire is Dead, Dead and Still Dead! Yet, *still* it seems like Britain expects all of the world to just do whatever is convenient to the British at the moment. Like America but without the "bennies" and the military to at least offer either a little something in return (or a "humanitarian intervention").

The forces of Markets and Politics are aligning, because Brexit is not only a political opportunity.

Everyone here knows that here is a lot of mis-investment sitting on the books all over the place, overhanging "the economy". Interest rates should be raised and disposable income needs to be increased to allow the servicing of stupidly large loans which people could barely afford at 1% p/a.

So, If the ECB tightens, as it really should, it will cause an inconvenient price discovery of many things, like Italian bonds, Stocks and of course Stockholm-ian real estate.

But ... What if Brexit "does it"?

Then it will all be totally the fault of Unreasonable Other People, quite rightly an "Exceptional Situation that no-one could never, ever have foreseen", *any* matter of "Special Measures" are surely in order just for this unique-never-again-market-event ... The Can is kicked a decade or so down the road for southern Europe and everyone gets to clean out their books and look like Heros for the following five-six accounting cycles! Love and Glittering Unicorns of Growff is all around!!

Brexit is a done deal, it is so done that the latest stupidity of Boris or May is not even in the news any more here. The "techies" are running it, while "management" are looking to cook the books of the future.

110:

JBS @ 105
And when was the last time the U.S. had a "sane" President? 2008-16 actually.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
fjansen @ 109
Sorry, I don't follow what you are saying.

111:

It would most definitely be a good thing if countermeasures are taken to limit the damage and they should be taken. It's just unfortunate that the younger voters, who have the most to gain, couldn't be bothered to show up and vote against brexit in larger numbers than they did.

Looking at it from outside the UK I found this (about the first 15 seconds) to be an excellent recap of the pro-brexit arguments. Turn the volume knob to 11.

112:

The other thing is that memories of the hyperinflation in Germany 1914 to 1923 persist, although by now in the third generation (the generation that lived through it consciously no longer has many members, but I doubt I'm the only person my age who got told by their grandparents how awful it was). This results in the word "inflation" being a bad one, evoking ghosts of destitution and despair, not of banks paying decent interest.

Yes indeed. When I went round Europe to watch the Euro come in, I was very kindly given a tour of the Bundesbank Geldmuseum. They had a display about the last time monetary union happened (if you ignore from East-West unification in 1990), in 1871. Apart from that, every exhibit was devoted to explaining the importance of monetary stability. There was even a game console that let you play a kind of Virtual Economy, where as Schatzkanzler, you'd have to chose between fiscal policies. A video then lectured you on which ones carried the least risk of provoking inflation.

More economics education was added by one of the odder comic strips I've seen anywhere: a 1985 strip by the Fed explaining the principle of comparative advantage.

In the Bundesbank shop, the message continued: amongst the Euro lapel badges and pulped-Deutschmark toilet rolls were copies of a coffee-table book about the history of Deutschmark art, including a chapter on the hyperinflationary years, with cartoons by Grosz. I wanted to buy a copy, but my cash had run out and the Bundesbank didn't take credit cards. (They did, though, give me a copy of Fifty Years of the Deutsche Mark. Central Bank and the Currency in Germany since 1948, which was really nice of them.)

113:

The real fun is going to kick in at Brexit Day minus 183, when six-month ahead bookings/contracts open up and nobody knows what the hell is going to happen (see for example airline passenger ticket sales), and at Brexit Day minus 91, when we hit the three month countdown (90 day contracts for transport of goods, for example).

Ah. I'd automatically discounted the bit about manufacturing growth falling, because we seem to have been being warned about problems with British productivity since at least the 30s. But yes, I'd not thought about the advance effects on supply-chain planning.

114:

going public with their name?

1. It's not a unique or particularly uncommon name. (And I have no way of knowing whether it's real, but ...)

2. Other information (which I am not disclosing) suggests that they're not in the west. (I may be wrong: VPNs are a thing, I'm not omniscient.)

3. Mostly I wanted to slam the lid down on that sort of insinuation about the good intentions of commenters here. The comments on this blog are w-a-y too low-profile to attract the interests of state propaganda media; if I have good reason to suspect otherwise I'll take action with the moderators, otherwise I welcome honest discussion and debate.

115:

And when was the last time the U.S. had a "sane" President?

About a year and a half ago, and receding in the rear-view mirror.

Incidentally, if anyone still thinks Barack Obama was weak and ineffective, we're now getting a close up and personal view of the forces that opposed everything he tried to do, now roaring triumphantly behind Trump.

In retrospect I'm astonished at how much progress he achieved, in the face of a congress and senate dominated by people we can now clearly see as neo-Nazi sympathizers and quislings.

116:

I wouldn't be too sure of that, actually, but it's almost certainly true in this case. As far as Russia and the UK goes, I don't believe that either put 10% of the resources into Internet propaganda that the other side claims they do :-)

I have personal experience that multinationals sometimes trawl and troll into places that you would never imagine they had heard of (and were much less influential than your blog), and repeated second-hand experience that at least one country (neither of those two) does the same.

117:

The other thing is that memories of the hyperinflation in Germany 1914 to 1923 persist…

And the other other thing is that memories of the currency reform (sorry, no English version) in 1948—which ended the inflationary post-war shadow economy (and rationing) and launched the Wirtschaftswunder—also persist.

In other words: ordinary Germans lost their monetary wealth to hyperinflation not once, but twice in the last century. The psychological impact of that cannot be overestimated. The result is a very strong fetish for a hard currency and an almost irrational aversion against inflation shared by the population, politicians, and economists alike (and enshrined in the Bundesbank Geldmuseum as described by Jocelyn Ireson-Paine in #112).

(As an aside: the fact that both hyperinflationary phases were the results of wars started by Germany is of very little significance here; the issue of responsibility for the wars and the horrible consequences of the wars for the German population are neatly compartmentalized. Germans—like everybody else—tend to see themselves as victims of horrible times, although we have at least taken some steps at dealing with our being responsible for the horrors (see Vergangenheitsbewältigung, which interestingly does exist in the English Wikipedia).)

118:

...there was negligible and at most ineffectual Russian involvements in electoral processes

I'll accept that, if we're talking about direct involvement...

...but if you look at the flow of refugees, I do wonder about "causation or correlation" between Merkel's August 2015 offer to welcome Syrian refugees; and the Russian September 2015 start of military involvement in Syria.

Did the increase in violence made possible by the new Russian military support, cause a resurgence in the number of refugees fleeing Syria? Certainly, the extremist groups did well out of all those pictures of refugees walking towards Europe - in Eastern Europe, Austria, Germany, and even the UK.

Could a swell of refugees* have been a "politically beneficial" side-effect of Russia's military support for Assad? Would it count as a second-order involvement - and if so, was it ineffectual?

* Note that the Russians have far fewer "smart" weapons as a result of ITAR etc, and use unguided cluster weapons and "dumb" bombs. Throw in lower average skill levels than most Western air forces (restricted flying training hours due to restricted money) and add a greater tolerance for collateral casualties. If you live a mile from a possible target, pray that it's NATO doing the bombing...

119:

Errr- Same Old, Same Old.

The restoration of the Libyan slave markets for black Africans happened totally on Obama's watch and Yemen kicked in during his presidency. With the help of Donald Trumps military providing supplies and logistics for the feckless the Saudis, they can turn it into a glorious genocide worthy of Biafra!

Except it will never get in the news like Biafra did!

120:

why is China spending so much money building the New Silk Road?

According to some of my Chinese friends, one reason is to give a trade route to Europe that isn't controlled by the US navy. No idea how true that is, or even where my friends heard it.

121:

I thought the real reason was obvious?

Rail freight, even across borders with customs stops, moves at 30-40mph. Container ships virtually never go above 20mph, and have to take a somewhat longer route, too.

So rail freight from China to Europe occupies an intermediate cost/speed niche, between air freight (very fast, very expensive) and shipping (slow, cheap).

The "bypasses the sea lanes controlled by the USN" is simply a bonus.

122:

I suspect that each reason is primary in the minds of different people in China - including those in the inner caucus!

Simply closing the Panama and possibly Suez canals to Hong Kong registered shipping and shipping lines that trade with China would have a major financial impact. Yeah, that's insane, but ....

123:

if you close the panama canal to ships that trade with china you don't need a panama canal. Also Trans Siberian railways been going for a while for exactly the reasons charlie said

124:

Standards of living are improving everywhere, and in more minor cities as well - this is considered to be a normal process for any developing country. People are more worried about economy recovery. Seriously, the entire concept of modern economy in Russia is so much bonkers it shouldn't be working normally. I mean, if Russia would be just a normal overly connected country, it would take Obama several weeks to string some directives to bring it on the knees and wait for the ambassador to show up in tears and apologizing. Unfortunately for US, by barring a nation from free trade from the very beginning, they outplayed themselves. (Not that it helps with development itself in any way, but again, for average Russian, sovereignty is much more important.)

But then, there are other countries around, their economies are pretty much a joke. I just checked today - combined GDP (by PPP no less) of both Ukraine (30+ million ppl) and Belarus (9+ million) is, COMBINED, less than that GNP of Moscow city, which is, in turn, only about 17% of total country GDP. This is a very sorry situation for all post-USSR republics, and especially for Ukraine, which pretty much lost ALL of it's industry since the end of USSR to corruption and foreign involvement. Seriously, right after 1991, they've had a second largest army in Europe, huge agricultural sector (albeit outdated), and industry that could match 20% of total USSR output (not a joke, you see). It took US a whole generation of "democracy" to turn everything into heathen-infested ruin. Nobody is expecting anything but chaos from this place any more.

Compared to that, Russian Federation is well off - it has industry and innovation projects, large hub of connections, and its internal economy is not as affected by oil prices as people would like to believe. Putin and his team are working on establishing of a new status quo with "import replacement", which means that sanctioned and counter-sanctioned products are to be replaced by local equivalents. This is the situation not only necessary for survival of the country itself, but promising development in the future, in the entire region and beyond, and the government is inspired by agriculture sector success. Even with this in mind, the country in no way intends to survive in complete isolation a-la North Korea, so all of this is very uncertain.

Immigration policy is pretty interesting and I did not look well into it. It seems, with effects of Eurasian Economic Union and China influence the living standards are beginning to rise in these countries and many people opt to return back to their homeland. I wonder if government has any goddamn clue what to make out of it.

125:

Brad Delong has linked to this site a few times including most recently this "The Pivot" thread. This may pull in a different audience with new commenters and new perspectives. Always better to be talking than shooting.

I remember Krugman inviting guests onto his blog to report on eastern European politics. Immediately afterwards there would be a surge of obvious trolling which would last a few days. Mixed in would be apparently legitimate commenters with views that were often divergent from typical western positions.

126:

On so called Silk Road ("Silk Way" is the historical concept).

Several years back I checked the numbers myself with some research articles. Rail-road is a really great way to transport cargo, it is stable and fast, however, not without inherent problems. It turns out, specific cost of transportation for every kilometre rises for every transport type at different rates, and at distance surpassing several thousands kilometres, it is still cheaper to freight by sea. That means that, the defining feature of the project is not the cost itself, but rather a cost of interacting with US jurisdiction (read: a decadent, oppressive financial empire with interest in every corner of the Earth). For example, about 7-9 month ago a service called AliExpress did a big hit on markets and everybody were looking to buy cheap Chinese goods with no inherent brand overpricing (I myself tried using it, but only with partial success, a part of the order never made it to my mailbox). Moreover, nobody did mention the Northern Sea Route, in this direction US is really falling behind and is visibly nervous at times.

Nevertheless, there are still issues. The project is under way for several years now, but it is not making too much progress because of the specific cause. It is designed to connect, so to say, Beijing to Berlin with a whole corridor of roads and rail-roads through most direct route, but if Berlin is not in position to uphold conditions of it's end of the deal, the entire idea is in danger. As you may know, US is mounting political and military blockade in Eastern Europe for quite a while now, and nobody knows how far this going to go, with or without Trump. The EU is completely impotent to do anything about "anti-Russian" sanctions that hurt it's economy and energy safety, and at very best, every country is going to try to survive on it's own. I would say, I already saw enough articles and discussions with the same recurring theme (in fact, some of them were written as far as 8-10 years ago) - if it all goes down, everybody is going to survive by themselves. In this light, in hindsight, Brexit is not at all a bad decision, but it really depends how thoroughly the government is going to react to the situation.

127:

Cost isn't the only issue - semi-perishables like citrus fruit are vulnerable to delays, and people don't like orders that take ages to arrive. And those are precisely the goods that are most sensitive to actions like closing the Panama canal (or even holding ships for a week to search them).

You have misunderstood the UK's situation. We have essentially NO natural resources, and insufficient potential agriculture to even feed ourselves. Worse, 50 years ago, we had one of the most highly skilled workforces in the world (and THE most skilled in IT), and that was still true to some extent 30 years ago, but 30 years of actively deskilling means that is no longer true. Much of our manufacturing and related income is from multinationals who use us as a 'business-friendly' country within the EU. And a lot of our 'service' income comes from financial and related areas, which rely on being part of the EU. So we are in a MUCH worse position than Russia.

128:
A local allotment society would not change its rules on a 50% +1.

All the legal precedent "citrine" etc are pretty clear that a major constitutional changes should be 2/3 or 75%

The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland's Yes vote: 50.28% That wasn't one of the procedural ones.
Take this existence disproof and.... consider how foolishly arrogant (and, given the average population of this blog, unthinkingly colonialist) global "should" statements look in a complicated world.

129:

Don't look at me when you say "trying to evade". We've got our own sociopathic ultrarich, who've been playing the racism and other religion card for well over a century, and their targets, folks with next to nothing ("but you're so much better off than Those People, and they want to take it away from you!"). Their targets, having just a little to lose, not nothing, and not a lot, are desperate. You folks have, of course, never seen anything like that (as he shoves NI out the door behind him and closes the door).

Evade? Fuck, I've apologized to my kids that this was *not* the future I'd expected or intended to leave them.

And "Second Amendment solutions" have nothing on "oh, isn't it a shame they ate that bad lettuce/caught Legionaires' disease/BOOM (not "bang") solutions.

Damn it, why are those damn asteroids ignoring my orders?

130:

"Banks paying decent interest"? When has that happened? On the other hand, I'm thinking of the house my ex and I bought in '82?, and paid 14%? 16% on the mortgage.

131:

Naturally, I wasn't speaking personally! But my point stands: blaming Putin or Russia for any of the electoral or governmental dysfunctionality in either the USA or UK (including Brexit) IS trying to evade responsibility. Putin and Russia are totally irrelevant. Our countries got themselves into their current messes without external assistance - even (in the UK's case) the harm we are getting from your side of the pond, we deliberately chose to import.

132:

While I think it's normal for any country to try to influence any election, I also think that it's not only normal but desirable for any country to punish those who take foreign funding to promote political ends that hurt their country while enriching those who acted as foreign agents. In that regard, yes, the US right wing (including groups like the NRA) have quite a lot to answer for. Just because someone offers you the political equivalent of heroin, it doesn't follow that you have to become a junkie or worse, a dealer. That's what's happened in the US. It was just as bad when the left wing took money from the Soviets.

133:

And here I thought that Georgia was the grain basket of the USSR.

134:

Don't be silly, they don't have the resources for *that*.

Um, here, speak a little more loudly, so I can hear you as I transmit to Langley....

135:

Everyone assumed Ford's pardon was payment for Tricky Dick resigning, rather than waiting to be impeached.

Bush, Sr., DO NOT GET ME STARTED about the Bushes and their backers.... Fucking traitors....

Trouble with Trumpolini is he and all his family are *all* so deep in. First shot's been fired - the NY state AG has filed a lawsuit against his "family foundation", wanting several mil $, dissolving it, and banning him from being head of any nonprofit in NY state for 10 years, and his kids banned for 1 yr.

There's a lot more coming.

136:

Totally non-political, just a small grammatical thing that always drives me nuts (and too many native speakers of English can't deal with it): "it's" is a contraction of "it is", while "its" is possessive, that it, something belongs to it. So, [it's|it is] correct to say that its language is English.

Does that make sense?

138:

We all know that Putin's just a big ol' cuddly teddy-bear who only robs from the rich to give to the poor like Robin Hood or Al Capone.

139:

It's in Ukraine's flag, the blue sky above the yellow wheat fields...

140:

I see Corbyn lost 89 - 15 in favor of leaving the Common Market, and 74 in favor of staying in it.

141:

Troutwaxer @ 87:

"From where do you hail, Sleepingroutine?"

"Charlie, my apologies if I've broken any blog rules, but Sleepingroutine looks like "Fake News" to me."

I hadn't considered it from that angle, but "Sleepingroutine" does come across like a sock puppet for a certain party line that denies the possibility that those who control the modern Russian state would ever engage in extra-legal actions inimical to EU/UK/US interests or to the interests of the breakaway states of the former USSR.

If I'm out of line here, please accept my apology as well.

142:
“IF he can pardon himself, he can pardon himself for any crimes he "might" have committed, without actually admitting he'd committed any crimes”

"I presume that's only past tense - he can't pardon himself for crimes he hasn't committed yet? What about ones that haven't been discovered yet?"

Any crimes committed prior to a pardon would be covered by that pardon, whether they'd been uncovered or not. Crimes committed after he's no longer able to issue pardons would not. Pence or some future occupant of the Oval Office would have to pardon him. You can't pardon a future criminal act that has not yet been committed. There's really no such thing as a "Get out of jail free" card.

I'm not real sure about a pardon's effect on ON GOING criminal activities. I don't know whether the SCOTUS would rule that acts begun before a pardon, but continued after that pardon was granted would be covered or not.

I would think any continuing action after a pardon would NOT be covered, but stranger things have happened.

143:

Fine. It's rarely as direct as simply receiving money, especially in the UK - that's Not How Things Are Done - but let's expand it to cover what Putin/Russia is accused of.

Putin and Russia are STILL irrelevant! Because there is little evidence that the actions were being used to harm either the USA or UK, because the amounts were piffling compared to other such deals, and because there is no evidence that they actually had any serious effect!

Anyway, in the UK, the country that benefits from such corruption is the USA, by a country mile; Russia is nowhere. How much of it is official, how much has official involvement, how much is USA multinationals acting on their own, and how much is the UK arse-licking, I can't say.

144:

You're right that the Silk Road as initially envisioned by China (Beijing to Berlin) is on life support. If the trains have to travel through countries that are under sanctions (Iran and Russia), that makes any investments very risky. However, a Silk Road that ends in St. Petersburg, Istanbul, and Beirut is still viable. While Russia + Turkey + Iran + Syria + Iraq are poorer and have a smaller population than the European Union (~370 million vs ~511 million), that market is still a large and lucrative one for China. Plus, China has to invest abroad to recycle the currency it gets from trade. In short, I don't expect China to abide by any US or EU sanctions. If Russia and China can get the Northeast Passage to work, more power to them.

"This is a very sorry situation for all post-USSR republics, and especially for Ukraine, which pretty much lost ALL of it's industry since the end of USSR to corruption and foreign involvement."

This is not actually correct. First, I prefer to use GDP (PPP) per capita, since that corrects for population. By that measure, the best performing ex-USSR republics are

1. The Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)
2. Kazakhstan and Russia ($26,929 vs $28,957)
3. Azerbaijan and Belarus (worse than Russia but on par with China's $18,066 GDP PPP per capita)
4. Everyone else (Turkmenistan may be better, I don't know enough about the country to comment)

"It took US a whole generation of "democracy" to turn everything into heathen-infested ruin. Nobody is expecting anything but chaos from this place any more."

We still lead or are tied with China in several industries.

1. We are tied with China in Machine Learning

2. SpaceX's reusable spacecraft have already caused Russia to withdraw from the commercial launch market and are hurting other nation's space programs. This is an interview with the head of Europe's main launch company:

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/05/ariane-chief-seems-frustrated-with-spacex-for-driving-down-launch-costs/

3. We either lead or are tied with China in self-driving cars

4. We definitely lead in the production of civilian airplanes.

5. Look at the whole ZTE debacle to see how dependent China is on some critical components from the US
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZTE#U.S._sanctions_and_export_ban

Personally, I was against the whole debacle. The New York Times explains why this was a bad idea:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/10/technology/china-technology-zte-sputnik-moment.html

145:

Another thing to consider: the picture you get about murders in the US is highly distorted.

https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/12/listening_to_the_latest_media.html

Ignore the data prior to WWI (the US was far more rural and less industrialized back then). In terms of homicide rate, we're at a low point. Stories of increased lawlessness are often used by rich billionaires to extract money from taxpayers or to influence the voting public

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison%E2%80%93industrial_complex


146:

Greg Tingey @ 110:

"Sorry, I don't follow what you are saying."

I think someone may have conflated my snide comment with someone elses answer.

I believe "when was the last time the U.S. had a "sane" President?" is fairly self explanatory. I don't know who pinned on the "2008-16 actually".

Although I voted for Obama, my own answer to that would be MAYBE FDR, Truman, Eisenhower or Kennedy. Some of their successors have been less completely out of the frame than others, but it seems to me that since I've been old enough to vote, you'd have to be insane to a certain degree to think you could handle the job. The latest one has just taken all that to a new level.

I blame the internet.

147:

That is a funny thing, at some point of my life, when I learned the language fine enough to think with it at normal speed, I started to lose some flexibility in my native tongue, and when I try to correct this, it still backfires in different forms of mistakes (and sometimes even browser spellcheck doesn't help). I am not an immigrant or something and my exposure to language is limited, so I just try my best.

to Elderly Cynic @ 127:
I see what you mean, but, I always thought, these "island" nations out there (like Japan or Korea) or the Scandinavian nations always have some trick up their sleeve to stay afloat, maybe, they can turn out better with their privileges of sea trade. You can always stay connected to every part of the world without even need to maintain thousands of kilometres of roads, right?

to JBS @ 87:
I do not imagine there is even a single instance of elections uninfluenced by outside observers in certain degree, but this is not what concerns people in those countries when they talk about "malign activity" (c), not at all. They are trying to build a bigger picture out of multiple smaller cases, like Colin Powell shaking his test tube in front of the UN assembly (over the last decade this trick has gone memetic). Accompanied with even less-informative statements about "cyber-crime" or "being undemocratic", "violation of international law" or "hybrid war act", these accusations almost start to make sense, calling out for bigger, more strict measures, up to the point of total economical and information war. The idea of proportional response, or perhaps, negotiation, never comes to mind when considering these accusations, because they are always acting on people's emotions rather than their rational side. The rational side, on OTOH, tells me that certain people just want to have their profit in the most direct way possible (i.e. ransom, racket and expropriation), not even bothering with subtlety or decency. Do you people think this is some
kind of a joke?

148:

The numbers of murders in the US is mind-bogglingly high compared to most other developed nations with stable governments. The fact it's down from even higher numbers in the past is a good start but it's still way up there in lights, comparatively speaking.

149:

"We still lead or are tied with China in several industries."

I am sorry If I wasn't too specific, but I was referring to Ukraine (historically, an integral part of Russian realm, so to say), and to the larger extent, the rest of the republics that came under very extensive foreign influence. These republics hoped for their better future in "civilized world" and for that they were betrayed in the most cynical way. As for the US, I do not believe it has ran out of steam in long term, however, it doesn't mean US-centred world can easily overcome debt crisis - some people estimate it will take a hole new world war to do so.

150:

whitroth @ 133:

"And here I thought that Georgia was the grain basket of the USSR."

According to the Georgia Department of Agriculture "grain" isn't even in the top ten.

It's poultry (Broilers), Cotton, Peanuts, Chicken Eggs, Greenhouse/Nursery (ornamental & landscaping plants), Cattle and Calves, Dairy, Pecans, Corn (Maize for livestock feed & ethanol production) and Blueberries.

Yes, I know you meant that OTHER Georgia, but doesn't anyone remember how Nixon negotiated a 10 million metric ton grain sale to the USSR in 1972 (subsidized by the USDA) that pushed US grain prices to a 125 year high, cranking up food price inflation that would lead "stagflation" in the later 1970s.

Or how Jimmy Carter enacted a US grain embargo against the USSR after they invaded Afghanistan and how one of the first acts by Ronald Reagan after he took office was to lift the embargo and negotiate a multi-million dollar sale (15 - 20 million metric tons per year ) of American wheat to the Soviet Union?

151:

whitroth @ 136:

"Does that make sense?"

... at least as much as "There", "They're", "Their".

152:

"the rest of the republics that came under very extensive foreign influence."

Can you give me a list of which republics you're talking about, besides Ukraine?

153:

sleepingroutine @ 177:

"Do you people think this is some kind of a joke?"

It's behind FT's paywall, so I don't quite get your point.

Deripaska is implicated in the Russia/Trump probe via Paul Manafort's unregistered lobbying (along with his money laundering & tax evasion) for the pro-Putin Ukrainian government. It doesn't matter whether Russia is engaged in a campaign to interfere in US elections for political reasons or if it's just plain old financial corruption. Kleptocracy ain't no joke!

154:

Standards of living are improving everywhere

How does that fit in today's announcement, that the retirement age in Russia is going to rise? (55 to 63 for women, 60 to 65 for men).


Unfortunately for US, by barring a nation from free trade from the very beginning, they outplayed themselves.

I'm curious as to how this one works - exactly how did the USA bar Russia from free trade "from the very beginning"? Sanctions have been aimed at the siloviki and nomenklatura, not ordinary Russians - and they didn't start until the Russian state started to invade its neighbours (Georgia, Ukraine).


especially for Ukraine... It took US a whole generation of "democracy" to turn everything into heathen-infested ruin.

Ahhh, but the USSR was much better at turning Ukraine into chaos. It only took Stalin two years to achieve the Holodomor and to kill 10% of the population! Glory to the First Five-Year Plan!


Nobody is expecting anything but chaos from this place any more.

While I accept that Ukraine seems to have failed in its desire to remove corruption from government, it didn't help that the GRU were actively destabilising the Ukraine, to the point of starting a civil war; invading and annexing Crimea; or that the Russian Army is still fighting in Eastern Ukraine.

It's hypocritical for a Russian to call Ukraine chaotic, while Russia is providing the soldiers, the tanks, and the artillery to make it chaotic. Or the anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down airliners...

155:

to Ioan @152:
I would plainly say "all of them" (including Russia), but the degree of effectiveness varies greatly. Ukraine is visibly disintegrating as we are talking right now. Georgia got it's share of corruption scandals a civil wars (not so long ago). Armenia is in turmoil again (incidentally, it hosts largest US embassy in the region). Financial statistics for Baltic states looks shiny as usual, however this is hardly a good cover a for demographic problems, economy stagnation and human rights issues (and the recent banking crisis as well). Majority of Russians nowadays would also agree that Caucasian wars were also that sort of intervention, however, admittedly, the situation here is lot more complex.

to JBS @153
Words like "unregistered" and "implicated" should already be red flags for such assumptions, but, I guess, people just do not care about such little details these days. Deripaska is a hardened fellow and he will not go down easily.

to Martin @154
Ah, the old list all over again, you wouldn't believe how many times in recent years I was met with the same set of superstitions of that sort. Most of them can easily be disproved by curious Google search, so I will opt to sticking to my initial topic. How, you say, could a post-USSR country be barred from free trade? By institutional measures. Free trade, you see, is not so free, most of the time it requires extensive licensing, standard development, legislation, agreements and most importantly, competitiveness. After disintegration of USSR, each and every country had to adopt itself to global markets in isolation, carve it's niche in the supply and demand chain. To be able to survive after decade of stagnation and to overcome technology gap, they simply sold themselves and their governments in the hands of word's financial institutions, and those who did not agree, were hit by the older restrictions that US conveniently forgot to lift in time. Namely, it took Russia more than 20 years to lift Jackson-Vanik Amendment and be accepted in WTO after tremendous shifts in economy... only to get barred by new set of sanctions all over again.

156:

OK, I think should not turn this platform into my personal playground, using host's generosity to tolerate my stream of consciousness, so I will slow down the posting speed, and thank you very much for the attention.

157:

бодрствовать

Stop fishing: the lurkers are the ones to watch.


On topic: The BBC is attempting to 'keep an even keel' and fielding some very out-dated modelling on Question Time tonight, while the 'Brexit Wide-Boys' are continuing to take the piss out of MPs while dining with the DUP and May just got gutted in the House[0].

Narrator: it did not go well for them.

*sniffs*

Bond. The Name is Bond, German Bonds.


[0] Did Theresa May ask Trump to negotiate Brexit? YT: PM Question Time (via RT, in reference SR)

158:

You Are The Only One YT: Eurovision 2016, Sergey Lazarev

Or (English for Host):

Do you understand if I tell you myself that she is an angel of gentleness!” she screamed with sudden fury. “Your house is dirty, she will bring in order, cleanliness. Everything will shine like a mirror. Good gracious, do you expect me to go on my knees to you with such a treasure, to enumerate all the advantages, to court you! Why, you ought to be on your knees.… Oh, you shallow, shallow, faint-hearted man!”

THE POSSESSED Fyodor Dostoevsky


Took you a while though.

159:

The Pivot:

@sleepingroutine perhaps you could shed some light on an aspect of this change I have little insight into.

The UK has long been disquieted by the idea of a united Europe (rejecting Roman pasta, German sausage, French wine, dutch herring, etc) and has abandoned it's position of influence and association.

Rumour has it that the square Mile had it's chestnuts rescued from the fire of 2008 by getting into the Russian laundry business. Since then there has been an increase in property investment inflows acting as stores of value, anchors to policies, and transfers of wealth.

Then these billionaire oligarchs - forbidden from exercising power at home - have been free to play tennis with the right uk people, and presumably press various agendas like (?!) Tsarism and other atlanticist tendencies.

Though Nuland's Banderist biscuit-distribution ultimately undermined these atlanticists, we only saw Westminster turn against their new pals after the alleged poisoning of the skripals.

So what is this tangle ? Dark dirty cash pools, expat oligarchs, romantic royals dreaming of bygone tsarist glories, and a declaration of defeat to the continental powers, and parliament paralysed by paradox ?

What do various Russian factions hope will happen with brexit ?

And what powers those super long range cruise missiles ?

160:

𒀭𒈹

Ooook said the Librarian.

Look: most of the power structures of the world are based on Hierarchies and trading various commodities (physical land, money, influence, sex, blah blah) to scramble up the structures of your localized pyramid so you can play with the Big Boys (not all Boys, but it's a patriarchal structure).

There's ~30 people currently who own approx 70% of the world's economy. And Land. And Trade. Etc. No, really.

They also:

a) Keep this structure intact with EXTREME PREJUDICE

and

b) Kill off Minds like us[0] and debase them and destroy them

And yes, yes, yes: Egyptian Ancient Pyramids weren't actually built by slaves, but beer fed off-season farmers and professional artisans to keep that really useful skill of "MAKING STONES INTO FORTIFICATIONS" survive (c.f. every. fucking. Cathedral since A.D 340. Like LITERALLY THE MASONS ARE THE ONES YOU PAY TO MAKE THE ENGINEERING STRUCTURES 'CAUSE SHIT MIGHT HIT THE FAN AND YOU NEED SOME WALLS BUILT). Note: extreme art on statues is not part of that. That's just pornhub,com etc.


So... what is your actual question?


Answer: they're going to kill off about 4billion of you (that's the nice ones) and about 7 billion (that's the Fascist ones) to make sure they survive.


No, really.


[0] For the last time: they poked an OCP: Our Minds are different! Wee! OUR KIND DO NOT GO MAD. Which is basic-bitch level shit for: "You attempted to destroy [redacted] Minds, we will do it to each and every one of your slaves".


No, Really.


This is what it is about. grep Mammon. ENDGAME ATTACK VECTORS.


No, really.


1-UP Mushroom and and Algo Rhizomatic Virus.


DONE FUCKING DEAL.

161:

It occurs to me that much of the post WW2 rebuilding involved New Dealers guiding the process, where post cold war, the movers were neo-liberal business folk. The relative success of Japan & Germany could be contrasted with that of the ex-USSR to judge how each policy mindset has worked in the real world. I do note that they were very different jobs, but the result of the second has been a black eye for the west.

162:

Um. From the beginning until now, Theresa May's actions have been perfectly consistent with being stuck with an idiotic project, pushed upon her by ignorant managers (the people). So, in the face of that nonsense, one boldly sets out and declares that the idiotic project (Brexit) will go swimmingly according to the Brexiteers wishes. Meanwhile, you prepare in such a way that the only option is an extremely soft Brexit, making each concession only when forced by emerging reality. I will not admit that I've managed projects this way, but it is a relatively effective way of finishing impossible projects.

So, I guess not much will change. The UK loses its vote; stays in the single market; and keeps (mostly) freedom of movement while paying into the EU.

163:

Re: US vs Russia

Haven't read all comments so not sure whether this has already been said.

Somewhat agree that US election meddling/Brexit is probably more native than alien mostly because there's a better pay off for the insider than outsider. Plus, wonder if there are enough sober Russian males* left to manage such a campaign.

This demographic stagnation is also a good reason for not re-admitting Russia into the G-7 (G-8) because their potential net contribution would be as a source of cheap skilled (unreliable) labor. There's plenty of cheap labor already in place in the rest of Eastern Europe plus everyone is now heading towards full-on robotics. [Below is an old article about Russia's likely demographic picture in 2050. If anything, things are likely to be even worse.]

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2015/04/02/the-russian-economy-in-2050-heading-for-labor-based-stagnation/

If Russia quickly acquired some ethics and humanity, it might try very hard to persuade the educated global warming emigres that the US and some other economically developed countries are unable to absorb.


* Seriously, rates of alcoholism among Russian males are very high with no signs of change in the near future. And, sexism has been on the upswing under Putin, so unlikely that such a political campaign would be trusted to 'mere girls'.

164:

I realize that you've decided to limit your posts. Likewsie, I don't mean to dogpile you. However, a few lines caught my eye that I figured I need to respond.

About the Baltics demographic crisis

1. Estonia's population has grown since 2011. Only Latvia and Lithuania are still shrinking.

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

2. The Total Fertility Rate of the Baltics is 1.6-1.7. That is higher than most Western European countries. Note that Russia's TFR is also 1.7

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

3. I suspect that Western European countries would have experienced a similar decline in population absent immigration since the 1970s. In other words, the Baltic's demographic declines have more to do with post-industrial urbanization and a lack of suitable immigration than with malevolent policy.

About the human rights situation, I'm assuming that you're referring to the language laws restricting Russian. What is the difference between those laws and Quebec's laws restricting English?

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

I personally think that these laws are stupid and counterproductive, but I don't think they're human rights violations.

165:

Erwin @ 162
A reminder today ( on "Today" ) that we are being squeezed out of the Galileo project, which is about 40% Brit-tech & money ( The others are Germany about another 40% & the rest of the Eu the remainder )
All because some fuckwits didn't know whaththey were doing, or worse, knew & didn't care.
This level of stupid does get me annoyed.

166:

It's more than rumour but it's NOT particularly or even primarily Russian! It's CLAIMED to be because, of course, Saudi Arabian, the Gulf states' and other such, er, free countries' money is 'clean' whereas Russia oligarchs' is 'dirty'. Basically, the City of money depends on (legal) money laundering (including semi-legal tax evasion) and gambling with other people's money, and the OTHER good side of Brexit (than #88) is that it will be cleaned up. The UK will lose 17% of its foreign exchange (when I last saw), of course, which will trigger another crisis like that of the 1960s.

167:

It will be SO GOOD yessss!
Unemployment up to 15% plus, half of London idle & most of the rest of the country running around looking for work & food.
Be VERY CAREFUl of what you wish for.

168:

I suspect there really would be riots in the streets if the UK had to accept the Euro and Schengen. But I agree, that's more acceptable than a hard Brexit

169:

Oh, it's better than that... Originally Galileo was going to be an EU project with inputs of money and engineering from other countries such as China in return for access to the upper tiers of signal accuracy and other benefits (a bit like ITER). Britain, under pressure from the United States pushed through a resolution to bar countries outside the EU from participating in the engineering and high-accuracy aspects of Galileo in order to isolate China. Now that Britain is leaving the EU this means UK companies and businesses won't have the sort of access to Galileo they want and all because the British government demanded such isolation in the first place.

As for funding, basically the money put into Galileo pro rata by each country is returned to that country in contracts for equipment and services. Britain got a lot of the early development money, spent on the prototypes and proof-of-concept satellites from companies like Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. that were launched a while back. That's all gone and of course we won't be putting any more money into the project after March 2019. What a savings!

170:

Personally, I think Britain joing the Euro would be a mistake, but we should have joined Shengen, first off ....
If nothing else, it would make leaving the EU even harder than it is presently proving

171:

Well, yes. If senior management comes up with something as dimwitted as Brexit, there will be enormous losses. The big one, I think, is finance. Galileo is a rounding error.

On the other hand, as long as you accept losing 10% or so of the UK's economy in exchange for mild humiliation and losing a voice in EU regulations, Brexit probably won't be terrible. I suspect Theresa May has no interest in a hard Brexit.

The second order effects seem less predictable. The first order effect is that the Tories will be 'thanked' by a switch to a labor government. I think, also, that most parties will accommodate a certain amount of systematic racism. Later, there will be fury when the EU actually enacts biased legislation.

172:

Erwin
Labour's majority in yesterday's Lewisham bye-election slumped ...
Because Corbyn is a rabid Brexiteer - the splits inside Labour are as deep as those inside the tories.
Or hadn't you noticed?

173:

Nice summary in Private Eye this week:

4.5 months - from now until EU negotiations deadline;
24 months - time Tories & Labour have had to agree what their
own BrExit policies should be

174:

Everything that happens when push comes to shove confirms that the hypothesis I posted in the last paragraph of 21st Century #595 is the most plausible one. See the remark about Rees-Mogg and Davis in:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44490748

From her reports, I suspect that Laura Kuenssberg (who is the smartest political editor the BBC have had for some time) has come to a similar conclusion, but can't say so.

175:

10% is only the short-term loss; the expectation is also that it will be downhill from there with no end in sight, unless someone pulls a rabbit out of the hat.

176:

I'm not necessarily in favor of admitting Russia into the G7, but I think this line is overdone

"This demographic stagnation is also a good reason for not re-admitting Russia into the G-7 (G-8) because their potential net contribution would be as a source of cheap skilled (unreliable) labor."

Russia has a few things going for it

1. If they can ever reform their agriculture sector, I think that they can compete with US/Canda/Australia/New Zealand/Brazil as an agricultural powerhouse

2. Tourism: In 2016, Russia received 24.6 million international tourists. That's close to Japan's 24 million. Keep in mind that Japan is planning on growing its tourism to 40 million by 2020 as a way to grow the economy with a declining population. I don't see any reasons Russia can't do the same? The World Cup is likely to help in this goal.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Tourism_rankings#Europe

3. While I think that most of Putin's "import substitutions" will involve importing from China instead of the West, it's quite possible that either he or a successor may seriously try and rebuild Russia's manufacturing industry

4. China is investing everywhere these days. They're investing in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, etc. I don't think all of that investment will be lost to corruption.

5. Russia already has 11.6 million immigrants

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

If anything, I think that a challenge between now and 2024 would be finding new sources of immigration as Poland/Hungary are vying to attract immigrants from the European former Soviet Republics, and Kazakhstan is becoming an alternative for immigrants from Central Asia.

177:

And now ... the EU may be looking at stopping the clock Interesting.

Elsewhere, a give-away about autarky & Authoritarianism from DT
I wonder how many in the USSA will actually pay attention to that?

178:

The EU are quite correctly planning for the UK to do almost anything when the talks fail, and it has come to the conclusion that is a near-certainty.

The reason that May has always been a die-hard brexiteer is that she wants the same as Trump - unlike the others, she isn't interested in the trading and environmental regulations, but in being able to convict and expel people at whim, with no appeal from courts she doesn't control.

179:

Ah, the old list all over again, you wouldn't believe how many times in recent years I was met with the same set of superstitions of that sort. Most of them can easily be disproved by curious Google search, so I will opt to sticking to my initial topic.

I welcome your presence on the thread, because I think it does us all good to be challenged in our assumptions - and trying out a different perspective on current events is healthy, even if you disagree with it. I've always found it interesting to talk to people who have grown up in a different culture with a different set of trusted news sources - be that Russia, or the USA...

So I'm curious as to which you think are my "superstitions" that can be disproved... The Holodomor? The forced annexation of Crimea? The presence of Russian soldiers fighting (and dying) in Eastern Ukraine?

I appreciate that other posters find it difficult to accept that it was a Russian-supplied missile that shot down flight MH17, so we can leave that to one side for now.

180:

"Deripaska is a hardened fellow and he will not go down easily."

"Made it Ma! Top of the world!"

181:

to barren_samadhi @159:
I have listened to comments from some political observers - the UK has seen the opportunity to snatch a large sum of money in front of their noses and just went for it because why not. Those "Russian oligarchs" who strayed away from their country are likely to pay dearly for that betrayal since nobody will come to their help. OTOH, those who are still with the country are hardened bunch and (likely) will not yield that easily. The sentiment starting to prevail in modern politics is, perhaps, very familiar to them - to grab what you can and run with it, like in good old times.

to SFreader @163:
Tug-of-war over demographic problems of Eastern Europe has been over for over a decade now - everybody agreed to disagree. If people find it more comforting to think that Russia will cease to be a problem in the near future all on its own, it is better to leave them undisturbed.

to Ioan @164:
I've read enough about "natives" conflicting with Russian national population, and language problem is only a tip of the iceberg. Where the Charter would only have a specific cultural significance, governments of post-USSR republics are often acting in outright fascist manner with forced naturalization and assimilation. Where Canadians would make exceptions and reasonable balances, nationalists do not stop for nothing. People are barred from jobs, business, culture and administration(as well as voting rights in the case of Latvia). Long story short, even though you have been living in the region for several generations, surrounded by your people, the mere fact of your language preference and ancestry is enough to suppress your freedoms to no end, unless maybe if you surrender and give in to the demands. And this, or course, surprises no one - the defining feature of every "independent" or "national" republic is that, to stay afloat, it has to exercise their nationalism at the expense of someone inferior.

182:

10% is only the short-term loss; the expectation is also that it will be downhill from there with no end in sight, unless someone pulls a rabbit out of the hat.

There's a very funny essay by Arthur C. Clarke called "The Meddlers", originally published in Playboy, and reprinted in Voices from the Sky. I managed to find an online copy in a Google Books preview of By Space Possessed, which lets me read the lot. The essay ends with a case study — involving the Sun, and based partly on advice from that well-known firm of independent consultants Kahn, Teller, and Strauss — to illustrate the wisdom of Clarke's Two Laws (no, not his Three Laws):
— Do not attempt the unforeseeable;
— Do not commit the irrevocable.

Every engineer knows the wisdom of these. If you're upgrading a complex system: let's say a food-support/supply system such as an irrigation network, the life-support in a starship, or even a farm, you don't bash randomly with a hammer. You plan, and you try to ensure that you've always got a reasonably easy-to-achieve plan for getting the system into a safe state. The network of trade and customs agreements that we currently have is another such system, and keeping it running is — or ought to be — regarded as engineering too. With key concepts such as risk management and optimisation and resource trade-offs being at the forefront of one's mind. But our politicians don't think like that. They don't take an engineering approach to problem-solving. Why?

183:

To oversimplify, the reason purely engineering approaches don't work in agriculture or politics is that the other actors have agency.

I won't pretend I'm a great gardener, but I've learned enough to tinker a bit before committing. It's worth seeing how the system behaves once you perturb it, rather than starting with the assumption that it will act predictably and that you can set up a safe state that the system can return to.

With political systems like customs agreements, they work as long as everyone acts within an agreed-upon framework. That's one reason they break down periodically and have to be renegotiated. While you can model Nash equilibria and such to speed up the exploration of possible outcomes and thereby arrive at someplace useful, any negotiated system is vulnerable to the idiot problem. That's when idiots wandering in can create a temporary advantage for themselves by ignoring, messing with, or exploiting the system, and the more and bigger the idiots, the worse the problem. The current Republican administration negotiates idiotically (in the sense of the previous sentence) because they feel it gives them a temporary advantage, and often it does. What they ignore is that in the slightly longer term, they can lose big(ly), as noted by the current President who has gone bankrupt four times using this approach.

A good, albeit random, example of the failure of the engineering approach is in this week's issue of Hakai Magazine in a story about how herring learn to migrate. The traditional, low output, way of harvesting herring roe was to set up artificial spawning systems and harvest the eggs laid. Western fishers decided this was too fiddly, and instead they caught the fish and cut out the roe sacs, thereby increasing the roe yield until they ran out of fish. It now seems that the herring learned where to move over the course of the year by copying older, bigger herring, and once those were all caught, their entire life cycle was disrupted. This is worth considering only because the obvious, logical engineering solution turned out to be wrong, and returning the system to its original state through conventional conservation techniques is also turning out to be really difficult, because none of the western fishermen thought that herring might be cultural animals who needed their elders to show them how to live properly. That's the kind of thing that doesn't show up in an engineering analysis of a biological or political system very often.

184:

Considering that, in engineering contexts (IT), I was damned for doing just that - "you are far too negative", and "we don't need to do that" - I am not surprised. The mandarins are nearly as bad, incidentally. It's the psychology of risk - reminder to self, must buy the relevant book!

If more of the politicians and mandarins had Aspergers, we would do better - we are much more likely to think like that. The UK used to have a scientific civil service, and the senior scientists used to speak truth to power, but the mandarins persuaded Thatcher to eliminate it. The infamour Hutton enquiry did expose the fact that there is a glass ceiling well below the decision-making level for scientists who behave like scientists, and we all know that the external appointees are chosen for their political attitudes.

185:

[Our politicians] don't take an engineering approach to problem-solving. Why?

They aren't engineers?

Engineers spend years learning that approach. It doesn't seem to be valued much outside the profession (recall "Take of your engineering hat and put on your management hat"?).

Have you ever seen the old book "How to Lie with Statistics"? (Huff, 1954) I find that my students who have taken business courses are very familiar with most of the ways to use statistics and graphs to mislead someone — because they have been explicitly taught how to do so in a business course! I suspect that politics is an occupation where being "right" is less important than being "convincing" and so those who convey unpalatable truths are rejected.

186:

Thank you for your response. I know I may appear hostile, but I don't have that good a knowledge of the region. Thank you for being patient with me.

187:

"it's" is a contraction of "it is", while "its" is possessive

Lots of native English writers struggle with this. A useful mnemonic-like thing is that the possessive pronoun "its" goes along with the other third-person singular possessive pronouns "his" and "hers". They don't have apostrophes, and neither does "its". It's easier to remember that way.

188:

EC @ 178
Not even wrong ( I thin - & I think Charlie also thinsk? )
May was anti-Brexit - I think that her deliberately putting Rabid Brexiteers "in charge" is that they will fuck up completely (As is happening) - so that Brexit also collapses.
We shall see.

JI-P @ 182
BEcause Trump & his associates can see huge personal profits & to hell with everyone else.
Exactly like the russinas referred to in # 181, in fact.

189:

And just to annoy certain people, this analysis from five thirty eight: US nuclear power won't survive without a government handout. In fairness, I suspect that this is also true for most power industries. For example, I'm not sure the international oil market would continue to function without massive government subsidies in the form of military interventions at various levels.

190:

I think you (along with a lot of other people) underestimate the depths of TMs vanity, the lengths she was willing to go to, and the price she was willing to pay to get her name on the list of Prime Ministers...

191:

Canadians have historically followed a pattern of open hostility to newcomers for a generation or so, followed by the newcomers children joining the rest in resenting the newcomers from the next place. I can give a chronological description of that process, but over time the 'distrusted others' entering the country have changed from Irish and Scots Asians to Eastern Europeans and Irish, to Southern Europeans to South Asians and now to Africans and Muslims (as well as full circle to resenting Chinese all over again). The story is Quebec is slightly different but parallel.

That said, immigration policy in a country largely composed of immigrants or the mostly recent descendants of immigrants has developed in a much different manner than in countries who have self identified as a particular nationality for more than a century or two. Most of us who are not immigrants ourselves have at least one parent or grandparent who arrived from elsewhere.

Thus we have multiple generations of Turkish descended people living in Germany without citizenship, while others with a much less relevant claim to 'German' can claim a passport based on their grandparents etc. Similar situations exist in other European countries - with my ancestry I think I can make a fairly decent attempt at attaining Irish, British or Hungarian citizenship, and through my wife might have a shot at a Greek passport as well. None of which I should really have a shot at compared to people who actually live and contribute in those countries.

My understanding is that similar problems certainly exist in the Baltic states and other parts of the former Soviet Empire. Many people of Russian descent live in former Soviet countries and are resented - I knew one woman who was a 'Russian' that had emigrated from Kazakhstan because of the hostility she experienced in her home.

Negative nationalism (as in - you are not one of us so you are not part of our nation) is a toxic tribal thing that helps nobody but demagogues and fascists. People of Russian ancestry deserve it no more than anyone living as a minority anywhere else. (My own Hungarian ancestors hail from Transylvania, where hostility to Hungarians is a big problem).

192:

Well, more government handouts. Nuclear power already exists on various handouts. To name two: the liability limitation and the promise (so far unfulfilled, but still fantastically valuable) to handle the waste.

193:

Your naivety is touching. She made one speech 'supportive' of remaining but, even at the time, commentators noticed that she was damning with faint praise. She has been adamantly opposed to oversight by the ECJ at least since she became Home Secretary.

194:

You could say the same about the coal industry except the amounts of dangerous toxic waste are astronomically higher than with nuclear power and the death toll per GWh of generating capability is much greater. No-one in power seems interested in actually reducing the amount of coal being burned today (they talk a lot about it though).

In other news the German nuclear generators recently got a court order reversing a special tax levied on them by the German government to help subsidise renewables. That's sort of a reverse government handout, I suppose.

195:

Negative nationalism (as in - you are not one of us so you are not part of our nation) is a toxic tribal thing that helps nobody but demagogues and fascists. People of Russian ancestry deserve it no more than anyone living as a minority anywhere else.

The Russians in the various ex-USSR countries will be paying for the sins of the USSR for a long time. It didn't help that the USSR actively seemed to move ethnic Russian types[1] into all of those former republics to actually diminish the local nationals.

[1]Did you look like you descended from the Vikings who settled the area 1000 years ago?

196:

Most of us who are not immigrants ourselves have at least one parent or grandparent who arrived from elsewhere.

Which doesn't stop our right-wing politicians from using "immigrants" as a convenient target for blame.

Although in my experience the right wing uses "immigrant" as code for "not white". To the neocons I am a Canadian despite my being an immigrant, while my nieces are immigrants despite their being born here to Canadian citizens. (Based on personal experience, not peer-reviewed statistics, so I may be overgeneralizing here.)

197:

in my experience the right wing uses "immigrant" as code for "not white"

Very much that in Australia. To the extent that people genuinely say "go back where you came from" to Aboriginal people, or "speak English, not foreign" to people speaking pre-Australian languages. It doesn't get much stupider, or more blatantly "white is right" than that.

In Australia aboriginal anti-immigrant sentiment is pretty subdued (even during the S44 stupidity, where MP's were told they had to obey the constitutional requirement to eschew foreign allegiances even if it was inconvenient for them to do so. Some of the white ones where shocked that they too had to obey the law). But we do have moments, Briggs singing

Now Mr Abbott, think about it
Me and you we feel the same
That might sound strange, I'm just sayin'
We both unsettled when the boats came

I still love that song. (Tony Abbott being the Prime Munster of Oztraya ... and born in the UK makes it even funnier).

198:

Merely reducing the output radioactivity of coal to the levels from nuclear would probably make coal uneconomic...

199:

S44: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exl4ka_Bc94

And yes, Abbott: not actually Australian.

200:

Well, actually, Russians generally - look at the level of hate speech against them, often made 'politically correct' by appointing Putin as the bogeyman. I loathe ALL forms of hate speech against categories, and am continually attacked for standing up against the locally acceptable forms of it. Inter alia, hatred against one group causes hatred against other groups. The Wikipedia entry on Niemöller is interesting, specifically the remark about communists and socialists.

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

201:

I hadn't seen that before, it's gold!

FWIW I get quite a lot of "is that a bit of kiwi in your accent", because unless I'm whining about something apparently I don't sound fully^H^H^H properly Australian. ("fully" is one of those Polynesian words popular in NZ. Kinda like totally in California)

In multicultural news, happy Eid. It's the end of Ramadan and to show just how bloody assimilated they are someone felt it necessary to have a fireworks display in the park. At least it's winter so they were at 8pm rather than 10pm. Or midnight. Happy new year, now go back to sleep.

202:

I tend to model politicians as decent people running optimization routines designed to maximize their chances of staying in power. They come to the oddest compromises.

Based on her actions, rather than speeches, I think it is reasonable to conclude that she more or less immediately concluded that anything other than publically supporting a hard Brexit was politically infeasible.

Meanwhile, I suspect she also concluded that a hard Brexit would be a disaster.

And that public opinion would move only when consequences became apparent. Therefore, the correct course of action is obviously to stall on every decision until the 'correct' decision is 'forced' upon her. Meanwhile, she puts the bombthrowers in charge...so they can't whine about better deals.

If she really wanted a hard Brexit or even a credible negotiating stance, there would have been a lot more spending and preparation.

So, depending on public opinion, the likely option is super soft Brexit. To the point where the UK basically loses its vote, gets shafted on finance, and loses a few privileges. I don't think it'll harm the economy by more than 10% long-term.

203:

Read what she said BEFORE the referendum started. She was fanatical about 'freeing' the UK from the tyranny of the ECJ and EU human rights legislation. And, anyone with the slightest clue knows that those are right at the heart of the EU's principles and operation. She had simply not engaged what she is pleased to call her mind. Nor have most of the politicians and voters :-(

A super-soft Brexit wouldn't harm us by much, though losing London as the main European financial hub would be more than 10% in itself, but (as I have posted before) I am predicting a train-crash Brexit.

204:

Personally for Martin @179:

These are not actual superstitions as they are half-truth which are dragged down to the simple stereotype easy to be mass-distributed through media. Young ducklings were told a single universal truth once, why should they think that there are some alternatives? Actually learning something takes considerable time and they may not have it or they do not want to learn.

As an example, I just readied a 10-items long list of minor details about certain plane crash problem you have mentioned, but I don't want to turn this topic into the entirely different direction like conspiracy unwrapping. If you have troubles getting past your Google search filters or personal preferences, I may as well forward this list in some convenient form, like copypasta dump or email.

to David L @195:
These people did nothing wrong by being who they are. They did not come to their new land with intend to clean it from "barbarians" or "foreigners" and claim it for themselves, but rather to live in peace, protect it from danger and bring up to civilization. Even the measures to submit local population to the new order did not take the form of outright enslavement and extermination, despite whatever some historians might want to claim. That is why regional nationalism or overseas colonialism do not take root in Russian lands and incompatible with Russian mentality, and every attempt at this politics ended up in a national disaster. This phenomenon makes Western colonial empires hate Russia so much - they do not understand this way of thinking, they prefer to be a pot calling kettle black.

205:

In any case, as a continuation to my initial line of posts, it seems to becoming a tendency that US seeks to establish its influence across national borders. This just came up to my news feed, and it is short, beautiful and comprehensive.

https://www.bbc.com/sport/44460326

This comes as a stark contrast to behaviour of any other nation that seeks some sort of cooperation in international relations. US does not seek cooperation, US tells you to submit. Or else.

206:

I'd argue, and may well be wrong, that most arguments involving large groups of people not engaging their minds to any extent are flawed. People don't think much, but they mostly aren't utter idiots, just self-centered and a bit blinkered.

I'd also argue that talking points from politicians reflect, as often as not, their reading of public opinion.

This is actually a very pessimistic viewpoint as, for those of us across the pond, it indicates that Trump voters aren't stupid - just sufficiently xenophobic that xenophobia is their primary vote driver. It bodes quite poorly for our long-term political health.

I tend towards the engineering mindset - so there's an unfortunate trend towards assuming honesty and also that government should be focused on providing optimal solutions. Based on that mindset, I fail to predict most political outcomes. As far as I've seen, there's more predictive power in assuming that politicians, prior to retirement, are little optimizing spiders. On the bright side, this avoids thinking that they're idiots. (There's some sort of selection effect, probably, where the non-spiders get eliminated early on.) On the down side, it does predict that they'll optimize their way into temporary local maxima. It is possible that 'standing tall against the EU' is one of those local maxima. I'm hoping that the probability of being associated with horrible, horrible disasters will mitigate against that choice. I think that more preparation would have been done in that instance. I think though that, oh look, we don't want the Troubles back, let's just add, as a backstop, keeping part of our country, probably the whole part as part of the EU...is more likely to be the model for future Brexit negotiations. 'Oh look, looks like Boris couldn't solve the customs issue', guess we're stuck in the customs union. 'Oh sigh, how much do we look to be getting from those trade treaties? Fine, single market it is.'

And re: Corbyn, Labor being split isn't an issue. I guess no little spider with any forethought at all wants the Brexit hot potato. There just aren't any outcomes that the people in charge don't get blamed for... I'd guess Corbyn's goal is to stay out of the PM until after the real Brexit problems start and then get elected with a massive majority. For Labor, Brexit may be an advantage. Most conservative parties benefit from xenophobia (see UKIP) and thereby weaken when anti-immigration platforms are adopted. Corbyn's ideal scenario is probably May crashing into a hard Brexit; the Tories facing a twin wallop of disastrous economic news and a decline in support from xenophobes; election to the PM with a substantial majority; and a real shot at implementing policies he favors. May's ideal scenario is probably stalling into a soft Brexit; hoping the economy doesn't turn too far; (I think Trump's trade war may not help there...but that was probably hard to predict); and keeping a tenuous majority going forwards. She might even favor losing the majority slightly before the bad economic news really starts piling up.

I tend to have sympathy for most politicians. They're basically engineers tasked with coming up with platforms that optimize their ability to convince a completely disinterested and uninformed management board with a tendency to make policy based off of the local papers that they should support their pet projects. That sort of thing really does suck as an occupation. (And I've listened to a few politicians complain about the divide between good and politically viable policy.)

207:

There is a difference between reacting and thinking things through, and anyone in a position to take action with potentially serious consequences about ANYTHING who does only the former is NOT engaging their mind. And I have discussed such issues with quite a few populations of decision-makers in my life, and the majority do precisely that :-(

And why are you so reluctant to think that an idiot is an idiot, anyway?

One of the stories of my life goes like this:

Me: if you do that, and don't deal with this, XXX will probably happen.

Them: you are being far too negative.

They do that and not this, and XXX happens.

Them: we couldn't possibly have predicted that.

Me: I did, and told you.

Them: well, that's just YOU.

208:

Re: Silk Road.

China thinks very very long term.

If they can open up and improve rail connections through "Central Asia" (the five former USSR republics east of the Caspian Sea) then there are three possible routes to the EU:

1. Through Russia. While routes already exist on the trans-Siberian railway, the Kazakhstan border is a lot further west than you might expect (less than 100km from Volgograd), so there might well be a much higher-capacity route through Kazakhstan into European Russia.

2. Through Iran. The "Iran Deal" definitely started opening this up to China. Any route would have to go through the Kurdish-majority parts of Turkey and Iran, but both of those states have shown the ability to control those insurrections. Turkey is investing heavily in railways at the moment (YHT high-speed passenger rail will free up capacity for freight on the older lines), so a route via Iran may be attractive.

Even if the EU does have sanctions on both Russia and Iran, it may not have the same sanctions - as long as most products can go through one or the other, then the rail route is still viable; goods just have to be sorted into different rail loads depending which set of sanctions apply.

3. Across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan. The port at Baku is being built up by the Azeris anyway, and there's certainly no shortage of ports in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan that the Chinese could invest in. Smaller container ships capable of shifting a trainload or two across the sea, and efficient container ports to transfer containers from ship to train and vice versa are pretty straightforward to build (ie we're talking about less than ten years from concept to completion, and costs in the single digits of billions of €/$/£). Getting from Baku to the Turkish border is going to mean going via Georgia unless the Armenian/Azeri disputes get resolved (if China starts putting serious diplomatic effort into resolving the Armenian/Azeri disputes, then you know what's happening), but Georgia's certainly not impossible - and there's no need to go through any of the disputed bits.

China needs to be careful about non-Russian routes; they are going through what is a Russsian sphere of influence, and doing so en route to Russia is one thing, but avoiding Russia entirely is not going to be looked on kindly - so they need to build up political influence in Central Asia (which they are doing) so those governments are in a position to resist Russian pressure.

All of this will take decades, but the Chinese regime has consistently been prepared to create and implement multi-decade plans.

As an aside, they could dig a tunnel under the Caspian, but that's only really interesting to time-sensitive passengers, not so much for freight, and there really isn't going to be enough passenger traffic to make any difference.

209:

Across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan.

Unlikely. Trans-shipping, moving from one transport mode to another and then back again is a PITA and expensive in time and money for bulk commodities, even in containers. The current version of the Silk Route has to trans-ship due to rail standard incompatibilities along the route but that can be optimised (two tracks side-by-side with a container-handling crane between them, frex) and eventually eliminated as the route gets upgraded, as it will if it's a success. Putting two shipping ports in the middle of the route is like building a canal across an Interstate with ferries shuttling back and forth.

The rail line can go around the Caspian, through the mountains, across rivers and straits. It's what rail does.

210:

sleepingroutine @204
Tell that to the Uzbeks, or the Crimean Tatars or Ingush or ......

211:

Well, maybe. The interesting thing is that even he is realising that it is increasingly unlikely any proper deal is agreed in time.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/sajid-javid-conservative-leadership-new-prime-minister-a8402221.html

212:

eventually eliminated as the route gets upgraded, as it will if it's a success

I suspect probably not, because the breaks in gauge in Asia are very deliberate, to prevent military forces from using the railroads as express routes into the interior.
It'll take a lot more time and successful trades for the countries involved to trust each other enough for that, whereas for example side by side loading takes under an hour at the Kazakh/China border, plus each set of train equipment and drivers gets to stay in their own country, which is useful from a Customs point of view.

But I agree, a water link along the way is extremely unlikely, it's just too slow and vulnerable to weather.

213:

sleepingroutine @204

They did not come to their new land with intend to clean it from "barbarians" or "foreigners" and claim it for themselves, but rather to live in peace, protect it from danger and bring up to civilization. Even the measures to submit local population to the new order did not take the form of outright enslavement and extermination, despite whatever some historians might want to claim.

I've heard the same thing said about the British Empire and though I'm British and sympathetic to the argument, being on the receiving end of bringing civilization and protecting from danger looks a lot like being invaded and having foriegners take your country away from you. There's going to be some hard feelings.

214:

At this point, I think it's worth noting simply that neither the capitalists nor the communists (nor, indeed, other imperialists like the Chinese or the Russians) have clean hands when it comes to the conquest and assimilation of other people who had the bad luck of being on their periphery. In most cases, the notion that "we're better than they are for (xxx) reasons, therefore we're justified in forcibly bringing them into our sociopolitical system" still needs to be proven out by history, while in other cases, history demonstrated that it was a bad idea.

215:

to Heteromeles @214:
Maybe there's a lot of similarity, however, as I said, the methods are really important. At least for what I know, forceful relocation was not irreversible and many people were allowed to return to their homeland and resettle. I heard that the reason why USSR relocated people of certain nationalities, was a pre-emptive measure against forming local insurgency under the foreign influence (some places weren't this successful in the insurgency suppression and you get UPA or Forest Brotherhood, literally nationalist terrorist organizations), as well as preventing them from forming criminal circles. It is still better than permanent resettlement, slavery or uncontrolled expropriation of land and resources,.. maybe? Maybe if it wasn't recognized as crime at the time, it shouldn't be treated as such?

Anyway, after a generation or two, they were becoming less organized and could freely live in Soviet society without repercussions like limiting the education and social status(well, average citizen of USSR wasn't that free to move around country anyway). In fact, most nationalities and especially republics of USSR had quotas and preferences for education and local administration. This proved to be a hidden strength of USSR when it was in peril during and after Patriotic War, and in the same time it became a weakness in the time of dissolution.

to Greg Tingey 210:
I don't see that something of a problem, last time I checked, Uzbeks had their own independent state, Ingush were granted their own republic in Federation and Crimean Tatars, until 2014, were living under Ukrainian rule and still have privileges within new republic. People should really worry more about consequences of capitalism nowadays rather than trying to play on the past and developing victim complex.

216:

being on the receiving end of bringing civilization and protecting from danger looks a lot like being invaded

I will also add that the Russian empire was No Fun At All for some of the subject peoples, which is why (to take a very personal example) my great-grandfather and his family moved from the Pale of Settlement (specifically Poland, which was then part of the Russian Empire — circa 1905) to England (and in one case a good bit further west), where they did fairly well: two big textile businesses, a cabinet minister, a Hollywood movie producer (the one who went further west), and a few military officers and NCOs in both world wars.

Unlike the Russian empire the systemic barriers to Jewish participation in civil society weren't enforced in law (let alone by actual pogroms, unless you count the Battle of Cable Street, which is kind of tenuous — especially as it didn't end well for the fascists).

217:

"Across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan."

As both Nojay and I noted, this route is not useful for commodities. As I pointed out to Heteromeles, this route is useful for oil or natural gas. However, I question whether or not Central Asian oil/gas will continue to be shipped West in the future? The infrastructure to ship it to China will be more developed, if it isn't already.

"China needs to be careful about non-Russian routes; they are going through what is a Russsian sphere of influence..."

That ship has sailed already.

1. a. Even if China IS careful, you still have the West to consider. Even if the US and European governments are against this project, their companies will certainly invest in it. Even so, I could see the US using the investment in the region to bring some of those countries in OUR sphere of influence.

b. It's not just the West though. I assume that Arab states and India are also heavily investing there, with our without Russian permission.

2. The countries themselves have agency.

a. Kazakhstan is certainly trying to reduce Russian influence in the country. Symbolically, they switched from the Cyrillic to Latin alphabets this year. They've positioned themselves as the "Dubai of the new Silk Road".

https://astanatimes.com/2018/02/kazakhstan-adopts-new-version-of-latin-based-kazakh-alphabet/

b. Turkmenistan is a North-Korean style regime with God-Kings and a cult of personality.

c. Kyrgyzstan had a color revolution a few years ago, and is now the only country in Central Asia to hold a US base (apart from Afghanistan).

d. Unlike Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (to my knowledge) aren't quietly helping the Chinese surveillance state suppress the Uighurs.

I enjoyed this Guardian series about the region

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/series/secret-stans

218:

I think that the picture of immigrants in Canada and Australia is complicated by the fact that most of the immigration is Eastern (East and Southeast) Asian.

To what extent are neocon stereotypes of Eastern Asians based on the US stereotype as a model minority?

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

PS: I remember a while back that Charlie asked us to refer to people from South Asia as Asians and East Asians as Orientals. I do not do that because the term Oriental is considered offensive in the US. It carries the same orientation as "Jap".

219:

Re: Russia's pro's & demos

1. ‘reform agriculture sector’ – Russia seems to love and live by dogma including that an engineering or admin mind-set is all it takes to properly manage any physical (biological) complex system like, say, the Aral Sea. I don’t see any signs of a ‘reformation’ (aka doing good science) in their near future. Further, agricultural numbers between Russia and the other G7/8 nations cannot be directly compared because about one quarter of all Russians still rely primarily on their own veg plot/land for their daily sustenance. (Therefore double counting might also feature on this metric – production and consumption.)

2. ‘Tourism’ – Ahem … Russia is well-known for double-counting to suit their agenda. There have been specific instances noted by experts where visiting emigres were counted as native Russians in census years (to boost declining population numbers) as well as foreign tourists (to boost declining tourism numbers). Wouldn’t put it past them to count foreign casual workers as ‘tourists’.

3. ‘Rebuild Russia's manufacturing industry’ – probably the likeliest scenario, but what would they build? Consumer high-tech - unlikely because dogma/engineering mindsets typically have a tough time reconciling with ‘soft’ issues which are usually at the core of consumer preferences. (Okay – if Russia is as great at swaying minds (e.g. elections), then maybe they could be persuaded to use similar techniques at reading and delivering what consumers want. Though given election results it’s more likely they’d instead try to persuade that what Russian and foreign consumers really, really want is whatever is being made in their factories.)

4. ‘China is investing everywhere including Russia‘ – Interesting and wonder what the Chinese long term plan is. Could be a serious case of ‘pump and dump' on a multinational scale. Or, if Chinese nationals making it too big too fast in Russia start acting up, acting like Russian oligarchs or demanding more freedoms, the official gov't might decide that the best way to stop this is to retract and retrench. They’ve done it before.

5. ‘Russia already has 11.6 million immigrants’ – see above re: double-counting. Out-attracting Poland/Hungary – all three are showing very deep authoritarian tendencies so not sure why anyone would want to move to any of these three countries. IMO, the biggest difference is degree of religiosity with Poland highest and Hungary lowest.

220:

Got a citation for this?

"about one quarter of all Russians still rely primarily on their own veg plot/land for their daily sustenance."

221:

Re: Russia (cont'd)

This is an old report that covers Russian 1990-2000 ag output and productivity. According to this report barter accounts for 30% to 40% of all ag transactions. (IOW, any 'official' numbers should be taken with a big heap of salt.)

http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/148121468092976669/pdf/290130fixed0wb1agroruss1eng.pdf

222:

Re: Citation

See the above World Bank report. I know it's an old report, but there's no evidence that things have turned around much.

223:

Thanks for the report. Actually, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary. I don't exactly know how Russia compared to other Eastern European countries back then, most Eastern European countries had similar survival mechanisms after the fall of the Soviet Union. The economies became much more normal in the 2000s. Based on that alone I'd argue that the default assumption should be that those numbers are no longer accurate.

" Out-attracting Poland/Hungary – all three are showing very deep authoritarian tendencies so not sure why anyone would want to move to any of these three countries."

There are currently 1.2 million Ukrainians in Poland. Most moved there after the start of the Civil War.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainians_in_Poland

Most immigration within the former Soviet Union is economic, not based on human rights. The economies of Poland and Hungary are rich enough that they need immigrants to function. Since the alt-right is in power, the countries have attempted to attract white migrants. That means Ukraine, Georgia, etc.

224:

(cont)
"‘Russia already has 11.6 million immigrants’ – see above re: double-counting."

The number might have a margin of error due to double-counting, but don't forget that Russia isn't the only country which keeps these records. Other countries keep records of how many of their citizens have emigrated to Russia, and how often they travel, etc. In other words, there are other records which back up the assertion that the actual number is around that value.

The same holds true for foreign tourists. Even without visas, passports are scanned when tourists return home.

"Or, if Chinese nationals making it too big too fast in Russia start acting up, acting like Russian oligarchs or demanding more freedoms, the official gov't might decide that the best way to stop this is to retract and retrench. They’ve done it before. "

These days, China prefers to use its surveillance state on its citizens abroad, and coerce them long before they could organize such demands. The article below details their activities in Australia

https://www.smh.com.au/public-service/the-art-of-influence-how-chinas-spies-operate-in-australia-20171203-gzxs06.html

225:

sleepingroutine @ 215
could freely live in Soviet society
Well, THAT is an oxmoron before you go any further ....

Ioan @ 217
I know someone wh has just come back from Uzbekistan ...
One reason they can do little about their side of the Aral, is that the "Mighty Oxus River" is but a large trickle ... because, up stream, Tajik & Kyrgiz-istans have built dams & their own irrigation schemes & are not letting enough through. Uzbekistan is also changing & lightening-up now their post-Soviet dictator is dead - there's money in tourism if you don't treat your own people too badly - one ofe resons Uzbek/Turkmen relations are strained at present, too.

SFR 219/5
Yeah - Poland & Hungary going quasi-fascist, to the deep distress of the EU, which is trying ( & appears to be failing) to put the brake on - whaty's going on there, really?
Poland will not have as much of an "immigrant proplem" as Hungary supposedly does, so wtf?

226:

At least for what I know

From skimming your comments, you seem to find it a challenge to avoid a common error that a lot of people here make. That is to treat your own social prejudices as a null hypothesis. It actually isn't logically valid to do that. It might seem weird and wrong to you, but it's definitely the case.

227:

Yes. Russia was not and is not a bastion of tolerance. But there are quite a lot of comparable behaviours in Scotland and Ireland not long before, and we WERE responsible for Australia until about then. Plus the treatment of negroes and Chinese in the USA until very recently. Even today, the USA and UK are Very Little Fun for discriminated-against minorities.

What I loathe is the demonisation, not least because it is the drumbeat to war.

228:

I remember going to the Kedron-Wavell RSL club a few years ago to see Mental As Anything. This was a sort of reunion tour consisting of Greedy and Martin Plaza, but lacking the Mombasas. Anyhow when we signed in, my wife's Hungarian name prompted the 20ish door chick to ask "Now that's not really Australian, is it? Where are you from?". Of course, my wife said "Melbourne" and when prompted to be more precise, "Hawthorn". But the fact her mum was 10 years old when her family rode to Austria on an ox cart half a day ahead of the Russians, that her dad came on his own as a troubled young man in 56...

Sort of thing leads to wanting to talk about my own family, since my German side had been in Queensland for over a century before I was born. But you get cretinous anglo types whose family came in the 1950s and think they're the main stream - even half-arsed nothings like Abbott who seem to think they are Australian.

And they seem to think they are in a position to dictate even to indigenous people. Vexing, I see the likes of Pauline Hanson, who is definitely less Australian than nearly anyone I know, if anything a Britisher in denial. Too many people with just no idea.

229:

Posting this having done the legwork on the story (the actual story, not the MI5 vetted Guardian version) and "whoo-wee" does it get wild. Seriously: pack up the Onion, satire is dead, wild.

Random word salad if dubs is required: POSEIDON, MACAU, [FLYINGSCALYLIZARD]COIN, EX-TRIAD, EMERDATA, BANANA CARTEL TRADE DISPUTE, POSH GEORGE NAME CHANGE, RED MAFIA EAST EUROPE.

And that's just the low/medium level tier.

(Also a lot of countries mentioned already flag up all over the place on this one: removed any non-public names that would really get people excited - go read previous thread to spot other interested parties involved. All names can be sourced to published link to protect any libelous charges: all the actual $ tracing stuff is out there though. Big If True).

Analysis: fairly sure the bit players think they're covered by the size of the scandal if the actual story came out (there's been a *lot* of "OPPO DROPS" flying around, with all kinds of LAUNDRY TABS being hinted at: let's just say a UK MP ranks at the lower end of the power hierarchies here. Oh, and all the various FAME HUNTERS and amateur detectives on twitter are cranking it out). The chances any of the real dirt hits the TV / News is slight to none: certain players are acting as if they've got 'get out of jail free' cards because they've been playing 'all three sides'.

Actual Question: are there any players out there who are actually 'clean'?

p.s.

If anyone has read The Peripheral and remembers the part where the Lottery was fixed to reward shard users who aided the Klept... possible scandal on the horizon for some local lottery runners doing the same thing.


Bonus Round - this actually exists and we claim our Pointed Hat Award:

Have you ever wondered what happens when witchcraft intersects with gun control? Witch spells are cast onto POTUS and the NRA. When fighting for freedom, the NRA doesn't get involved with witchcraft. We prefer education, political activism, and grassroots. Twitter, NRA, 16th June 2018

2018: Wands & Hexes vrs Guns & Flags. Ms J K Rowling is now mimetically at the front of American Youth Culture Wars. Word in the Lizard Dens is that they want a three witches bonfire (already got one) to start the party (M / M double despacito)


Word to the wise (we're not wise): don't tempt fate with names like 'OPERATION HOUSE OF CARDS' because the real big beasties in the world might take that as some kind of challenge to their grasp on events. Who said Domino theory was dead?


TL;DR

Waaay out of most player's league is this one on the underneath. But we claim at least three scored point tabs for stuff you can grep.

230:

I am interested that you make that remark to sleepingroutine and not to all of the other people who have been doing the same, but with a 'western' bias.

231:

The gauge breaks in railways are less useful these days to slow down an offensive military penetration of any given nation or land area given transport aircraft capabilities plus the improved ability of modern transport vehicles to operate on bad roads when necessary.

I'd expect the Silk Route to get new track and signalling rather than running forever on the existing tracks which don't necessarily go to the right places directly, eating up time and effort. They are also not all suitable for high-speed freight in the sustained 120km/h region, a requirement for a real alternative to oceanic shipping and air freight. At the moment the existing rail systems are the only option in place though. Eventually there will be little or no trans-shipping of containers from train to train between China and Europe if development and investment continues.

232:

And I find it curious that you continue not to see yourself in this sort of comment.

233:

Oh, I do, but I make a conscious effort to put myself in other people's (or countries') shoes before judging them and, MUCH more importantly, consider them to have as many rights as my 'tribe' does. That is one of the reasons I am so often flamed and damned for being disloyal.

Would you care to explain why you chose to make that remark to sleepingroutine, and not to the other posters?

234:

EC, the entire time I've read this blog, you've been the least self-aware commenter I've encountered and the least likely to see things from another's point of view. The idea that you of all people would ask this of me is frankly ridiculous and no, I do not care.

235:

PS: I remember a while back that Charlie asked us to refer to people from South Asia as Asians and East Asians as Orientals.

Cite please, because I definitely don't recall ever saying that, and the term "Oriental" is definitely racist in contemporary use.

(I have on occasion pointed out that the terms Asian/South Asian as used in the US aren't used in the UK and cause considerable confusion here.)

236:

Per this comment, can someone have a look at the Dragoncoin facebook page for me and report back on what it is and what they do? (I'm not logging into that cognitive RAT just to follow a possible cryptocoin rabbit hole lead.)

237:

OGH @236:

From "Our Story":
"Dragon Corporation was founded in 2017, by a team of financial, regulations, banking and blockchain experts. Their vision was amplified by the alliance of one of the largest junket owners in Macau. The Dragon Corporation's goal is to create the digital Dragon Platform, the first Ethereum Blockchain based, physical money platform, backed by the long-coveted returns of the massive casino gaming industry. Our destiny is to be the ark of prosperity, that will take our Dragon Members to great bountiful financial futures.

What is Dragon?

Dragon is fortunate & blessed to have close ties to junket operators, who with their long history in the industry have built close relationships with high-rolling VIP players who are the major drivers of Asia's gaming industry.Dragon Coin will act as a frictionless, low-cost & transparent alternative financial mechanism within Casinos, to enhance the age-old gaming industry. With its expertise in blockchain technology, the Dragon’s goal is to revolutionize the long standing gaming industry while benefitting those rooted in the industry, as well as all the members of the public who join in the journey to achieve the goals of Dragon Coin."

Lots of pictures of race cars and stuff...

Hmm, looks like another attempt to sanitise the crims who own casinos...

238:

Well, I differentiate between an idiot and people whose interests differ from those they represent.

Eg, the manager who supported the multi-million dollar MRI product with, assuming they work out the kinks, zero sales isn't an idiot. He is just aware that wasting the company money is easier and better for him personally than admitting that the last 5 years were wasted and firing a bunch of friends.

Another set of managers were pretty clearly cognizant of the fact that production equipment with 90% downtime was useless, but still spent a few years touring the US looking for applications. They were smart enough to realize that an honest report would end their paychecks.

May pretty clearly realizes that a good deal for Brexit will be EU membership without the vote. She could earnestly communicate that, and be out of a job. Or, she could stall and diffuse responsibilities on to Brexiteers. And than take rather passive action when forced. The real problem is higher up on the food chain. The issue is that, in democracies, the board of directors have, individually, very little skin in the game and thereby typically don't pay attention. I a democracy, a problem has to be bad and immediate enough that it is obvious to the very densest and disengaged member of upper management you've ever met.

As for why? Idiots can be taught or isolated. Agency problems won't be addressed by replacing people. Any rational, self-interested person will respond similarly. Whining about how all politicins are idiots or how one gets the same BS from management is therapeutic but not productive. Albeit, the problem of agency in large organizations is unsolved...so...eh. I've personally mostly progressed from anger to resignation.

239:

Indeed. But can you translate what meaning they are applying to "junket"? It's normal secondary meaning is appropriate, except that you don't own a junket :-)

240:

I don't remember which conversation it was. It was definitely an old one I participated in, maybe 2013? This is one case when I should have held off and then deleted that part. I think (but I'm not sure right now) it was the comment thread where you described the difference between US and UK racism. I don't really remember where those comments were. Anyway, I shouldn't have pointed that out; sorry for the digression.

241:

That's a perfectly good distinction and, actually, one I am also making. In this context, I consider idiocy to be trying to achieve an objective and one of: that objective is obviously infeasible, doing things that harm progress to that objective, or failing to take advantage of obvious paths to the objective.

But you misunderstood me, anyway, because I did not describe them as idiots, but merely failing to engage their minds on the topic. Even hyper-intelligent people are prone to doing that!

I am afraid that you are wrong about May, though. Getting out from under the ECJ and EU human rights law is her personal red line, not her electorate's (whichever one you mean), and she isn't deluded enough to believe that is possible while remaining in the EU in all but name.

242:

I did not know that about the Oxus, thanks.

As for Poland, remember that there was talk about "refugee quotas". So mix in paranoia about Germany and Russia with the way Germany has been domineering over Greece/Italy/Spain/Portugal over the Eurozone crisis, simple racism, and the fact that John Sobieski is considered a Polish national hero, and you have today's brew.

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

243:

In general that I can agree with.
China is certainly spending a shit ton of money pushing roads and railways through some seriously inhospitable country. My flatmate has family up Gilgit way which is on the main road from Pakistan to China and the area is basically made of narrow steep weetabix, constantly falling into the rivers. Yet they are steadily upgrading that road into a four lane highway and have plans for a rail link.

I strongly suspect there'll still be a break in gauge across Iran though for a very long time. Mind you, they might do a dedicated track similar to the Shinkansen lines if a Chinese gauge track makes it to the border.

Current transit times via Russia even with the transshipping and scenic routes is around 13-14 days, vs 42 via sea, so it is already a viable alternative for the major technology suppliers.

244:

Funny thing with Sobieski, people seem to forget how Austria thanked us for that a few years later...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partitions_of_Poland#First_Partition

Also, there are those guys still around, so it's not that there has been no exposure to Muslim immigrants in the past:

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

There is quite some fun in Germany ATM, first of, well, IMHO austerity is having an effect on all parts of German administration and jurisdiction, at least it explains some of my experiences in the last year.

So it's no wonder immigration politics isn't exempt:

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bremer_BAMF-Aff%C3%A4re

Problem is, public discourse ATM has little to do with the Law of Diminishing Returns being in effect when trying to streamline administration, andactually mainly goes about "Gutmenschentum" (roughly translatable as "bleeding heart liberals"), so I guess we won't see much effect on the underlying issue.

And I got a nice opportunity to practice my EVIL OVERLORD MANIACAL LAUGHTER(tm) when they announced new policies and chairmen centering on "efficacy"(cue "Fight Club" clip in my mind).

Second of, well, the Bavarian CSU is trying to up a social conservative profile again, a few weeks ago, Söder talked mandatory crosses in Bavarian public buildings[1], and now there is fun between Seehofer and Merkel about Bavarian frontier protection. The likely idea is to regain part of the AFD voters, though I guess the actual effect will be to make the AFD more of a valid choice in the minds of some voters.

Third of, another failed "terrorist plot", this time involving ricine:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/14/german-prosecutors-arrest-man-over-plot-to-launch-ricin-attack

No idea how he wanted to disperse the stuff, and I'm shocking my peers with explaining how I'd plan a terrorist attack. Personal idea, most of the terrorists in question are examples of Dunning-Kruger in RL, which is why they become terrorists. Thankfully they translate this level of competence to their new occupation.

In other news, well, I have been cyberstalking[2] hmpf again lately, and she linked to this:

https://www.tor.com/2018/05/16/coping-with-sff-through-pop-culture/

I have been thinking similar thoughts lately, namely with the OGH's post about why he's somewhat disillusioned with SF ATM.

To use an exampl, I'm not that much into Star Wars, but still, one of my mantras is "don't give in to the dark side, it may be faster, but it makes for bad skin".

[1] I'm shocking people with actually thinking that a good idea, though not for the reasons Söder intends; "Imagine, a representation of a wrongfully convicted man in every court..."

[2] Well, actually just looking at her blog; I'm not sure it's only creepy in my mind. We had a chat at one DortCon some years ago, I was the "guy whose name she didn't catch yet", and actually I even got a good part of my RL fans onto Farscape. Maybe me still remembering it is the creepy part. ;)

245:

Mayhem
Erm.
China has intrenational standard gauge ( $'8.5" = 1435mm ) tracks, as does Persia/Iran [ There wre ex-Stanier 2-8-0's working there until about 20 years back(!)] But "The stans", generally, have Russian guage, which is 5ft = 1524mm.
Mongolia is mostly Russian-guage, but there is a Chinese-connected line which is at "standard".

246:

The Chinese are building out a lot of electrified rail both for passenger use and also high-speed haulage but it's unlikely any common-gauge Silk Road would be totally electrified (and to what standard?) to start with. Unified signalling is also a problem end-to-end.

Switching out locomotives at various points on a common-gauge line would be a pain but much less than trans-shipping at rail gauge breakpoints.

247:

I tend to think of the argument for high speed rail transport as the putative reason to standardize gauges, and there's a lot to be said for that.

It's worth remembering, though, that the US still has rail links to its military bases, primarily to transport armor and artillery. Tanks are heavy enough that you don't particularly want them on roads, and even flatbed trucks carrying them is problematic.

While yes, I suspect that every rail line on the One Road will be targeted by plans to disable it in times of conflict, they're still a weak point that could enable really large-scale movement of weapons.

248:

The thing I may be missing is - how is May being foolish?

Given:

1. Objective: Staying in power
2. Platform == Soft Brexit=> power loss
3. Platform == Hard Brexit=> power keep
4. Outcome == Hard Brexit=> power loss
5. Outcome == Soft Brexit=> power keep, maybe

As long as your objectives are only tangentially related to societal good, the easy answer is to set forth a series of red lines, do absolutely no planning to enable actually keeping them, and gradually yield. Maybe you lose power at the end, but, eh, then you blame the people in charge right then for the outcome.

249:

It wasn't Charlie, it was me :)

A sub-discussion had arisen on the point that "Asian" means "from places like India" in the UK but "from places like China" in the US and that this confuses the crap out of everyone. I suggested that at least some of the confusion could be avoided by using "Oriental" to convey the "from places like China" meaning since it's both neutral and unambiguous. One of our US contributors (possibly Heteromeles) then said that that's no good because while it may be unambiguous in the US, it isn't neutral there. The sub-discussion then fizzled out leaving the problem unresolved...

250:

Minor point, at least with me, "oriental" brings up Near and Middle Eastern connotations. Might be just me or a German language use...

251:

Re: Poland's ethnic minorities

Maybe they're being racist/anti-immigration because it will cost them nothing to appear that way to whatever more powerful racist/anti-ethnic gov't they want to impress? In reality, the proportion of ethnic minorities is actually shrinking according to the below - from about 3.3% to about 1.5%.


Excerpt:

'At the Polish census of 2002, 96.7% of the people of Poland claimed Polish nationality, and 97.8% declare that they speak Polish at home.[10] At the 2011 census, 1,44% of the 39 million inhabitants of Poland declared to be descendents of another single ancestry than Polish. That number includes 418,000 who declared to be Silesians* as a national-ethnic identification (362,000 as single ethnicity and 391,000 a second ethnicity) and 17,000 Kashubians* (16,000 as single ethnicity).'

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

* Silesians and Kashubians are old, established Polish tribes/clans - they're not foreigners. In fact some historical Polish 'heroes' were Silesians. The royal Piast family/dynasty is also Silesian. In fact ... 'The period of rule by the Piast dynasty between the 10th and 14th centuries is the first major stage of the history of the Polish nation.'

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

Makes no sense whatsoever to type Silesians as not-quite-Poles ... seriously, these folk are nuts!

252:

"...plans to disable it in times of conflict..."

Somewhere on Project Gutenberg there is a rather good book about the intersection of warfare and railways, with the SOTR and WW1 featuring largely (unfortunately I can't remember any more specific descriptors) which demonstrates that railways are a lot less disableable than you might think, and you can't really hope to do more than disrupt things for two or three days. Even when large bridges are blown up it generally takes less than a week to throw something usable across the gap. The point seems to be that since at any given time most of your soldiers are rotated out of the front line, you effectively have a most enormous gang of navvies to repair the damage, and "many hands make light work". I seem to remember it describing incidents in the SOTR where one side ran down the line with a locomotive with a big hook attached ripping up the track, and a few miles behind them the other side's repair gang coming along laying new track just as quickly. And the timber trestle bridges that the US is so fond of can be re-erected very quickly indeed.

It also points out that railways were most useful in warfare when the alternative was horseandcarts, and their usefulness was already being eroded by the development of engine-driven road and all-terrain vehicles by the time of WW2.

Re breaks of gauge, surely the answer is axles that can alter gauge on the fly. Such a system is already used to interface with Russia, or Spain, or perhaps both.

253:

It would have meant that in the UK once upon a time, but the meaning has shifted - these days it sounds a bit odd to call the famous train the "Orient Express" when it only goes as far as Istanbul. Maybe the shift is due to its informal meaning of "the exotic East", and the rise of international travel, TV, oil, Levantine warfare and humanitarian crises, and so on, having changed the British perception of that part of the world to be more familiar than exotic, while China is still comparatively secretive and mysterious. Interesting that the German meaning hasn't shifted so much.

Similarly, thanks for the translation of "Gutmenschentum"; if I'd come across the word on my own, I'd have translated it literally, and then got confused by the mismatch.

254:

Re: Polish heroes (who were not Polish)

When I was a kid a visiting relative dragged me to an Eastern European film festival (with English subtitles). One film was based on a Sienkiewicz novel where one of the big heroes was consistently referred to as a foreigner. So not all foreigners were bad.

Hmmm - interesting way to teach history: 'The video game Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword (named after the first book of Sienkiewicz's trilogy) contains a quest called "The Deluge" that is based on the events of the actual Deluge.'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deluge_(history)

Also - seems that Russia's insistence that it owns the Ukraine goes way, way back according to the above article.


255:

Except, one of the reasons ( usually omitted from many histories ) that the German advance on Paris was forced to shorten their line, advance more slowly & eventually be defeated at the Marne was ...
Belgian railwaymen ( & women )
The Schlieffen Plan assumed complete control of SNCB intact, which er, didn't happen.
As soon as the Belgians realised that they couldn't hold, they syatematically trashed the railways as they retreated - such as: driving a very large locomotive & train onto a half-open/closed swing-bridge over an important canal will fuck with everything very effectively.
I understand that some Belgian lines were not re-opened until October 1914 or later ...
Meantime, the German supply lines ... didn't exist, and their troops wer advancing without supplies or any extra reinforcement or, or ....
Over 3000 SNCB staff fled, often with their familes, for fear of retributions ( They were not soldiers & the Germans would have shot them for sabotage ) & were given refuge in England.
IIRC, we lent SNCB some lcomotives for about a year, after it wasl all over, to help them get back into operation.

256:

We could start with her personal red line being incompatible with a soft brexit, and the way she keeps insisting on it.

Then go on to the fact that she has allowed the hard brexiteers to hamstring the negotiations, thus leaving very little time to arrange anything.

Followed by the way in which she has thrown away opportunities to tie certain hard brexiteers to their claims to be able to deliver.

Also, gestating an elephant and delivering a mouse will not be forgiven by the hard brexiteers, which WILL lead to a leadership challenge.

And lastly, she can try blaming whoever she likes but, on a matter like this, she will not be able to escape blame from everyone who is unhappy.

257:

The point about the use of rails in warfare in the US isn't about the civil war, it's that the rail system is an adjunct to the interstate highway system for efficiently moving large equipment from one coast to another. If, say, China and Russia wanted to go to war (not that they do), they'd likely haul their artillery and tanks on rail as close to the front as they could get, before moving stuff under it's own power. Tanks are rather more expensive to run per mile than trains are.

Still, it's good to know that rail links are that much harder to disable. I'm sure everyone looking at the Chinese One Road is as reassured by that as I am by the notion that we'll get our rail links back quickly after a major earthquake...

258:

Well, thanks, though I'm somewhat troubled by being used as German language reference. ;)

259:

Actually, West Slavic speaking Silesian as an ethinc minority in Poland is not that strange. Scots and Hiberno-English are Anglic languages, and you might call them "English dialects", especially if you're somewhat sloppy or suicidal.

Still, quite a few users would see themselves as a different ethnic group from "English", and people from England might agree (I'm not sure about the actual numbers involved).

It's somewhat easier in Germany, most Bavarians see themselves as Germans (except those guys), though don't label them Prussians. Effects might be similar to calling a "Lost Confederate cause" Virginian a Yankee...

260:

BTW, concerning Silesians, in Germany the picture is somewhat complicated by these guys:

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

261:

I do not do that because the term Oriental is considered offensive in the US.

As a card-carrying USian, I confess I didn't know that. Slightly quaint, yes, but not known to be offensive.

However, I was just so wrong:

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-tsuchiyama-oriental-insult-20160601-snap-story.html

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/readersreact/la-le-oriental-asian-american-20160603-snap-story.html

So I'll have to purge my vocabulary once again.

262:

Thanks for remembering. My apologies to Charlie.

263:

If you're trying to understand why people of Chinese (and also Korean, Japanese, Hawaiian, Filipino, etc.) descent get twitchy about the way the US treats minority immigrants from Asia and the Pacific, it's worth watching the recent Frontline on The Chinese Exclusion Act. This was the first piece of legislation deliberately designed to exclude immigrants by national origin. Prior to that, the US basically didn't care where immigrants came from (as long as they weren't slaves...). A lot of Americans of Chinese and later Korean and Japanese ancestry suffered until the Chinese Exclusion act was lifted most of a century later, and we're still dealing with the repercussions now, since it set the model for excluding Latinos and others.

264:

The entire history of the USA is about the definition of a Caucasian[0], Eugenically defined[1], Ethno-Racial-State nonsense.

And you applied that model to the world, baby[2].


You are the fucking Bad-Guys.


Always have been.


You're the fucking Scourge.


The French fucked Algeria, made the ultra-religious (hello England, Saud and Whabbism) religious the opposition, dumped their corpses into wells... but... They were allowed to be Citizens.

Same for the English (until fucking recently): Hmm, hmmm. India (Sikhs) , Nepal... hmmm. Still trusted. Not so great, but hmm-hmmm... given citizenship. And loved for their cuisine.

You mother-fuckers put the Blacks and Native code-talkers back into cages when they came back from the wars.

APEHSIT YT: song in new album by Drake / Beyonce - shot in the Louvre.


Get Woke.

My SOUL is alive for that. And, yeah: USING FUCKING "APES" REALZ, NOT PSYCHOTIC QANON / ROSANNE.


Check the range: very // This is America //

[0] USA doesn't even bother to define this accurately to this day. "White": "Asian": "Negro"... you fuckers are so racist a Porto-Rican or Mexican is still determined by blood drop / skin color rules. Youse fucked up.

[1] Sheeete... if you're breeding the niggers like cattle, we think youse be doing it before the 'science' turned up to justify it. And yeeese, we be seening it.

[2] Sheeet, you think Nazi Germany (or fucking Sweden until the 1970's) didn't copy y'all? Think again, mother-fucker.

265:

If you're trying to understand why people of Chinese (and also Korean, Japanese, Hawaiian, Filipino, etc.) descent get twitchy about the way the US treats minority immigrants from Asia and the Pacific,

Er, no, I'm well aware of that for various reasons having to do with experience and study. I just had missed that the word "Oriental" has now entered the index verborum prohibitorum. Now that I know, I'll never, ever use it again.

266:

the word "Oriental" has now entered the index verborum prohibitorum.

Which leads me to wonder how such organizations as ASOR are going to handle their names. Be interesting to see how that goes -- I guess they could change the O to NE.

http://www.asor.org/about-asor/

267:

(I'm not logging into that cognitive RAT just to follow a possible cryptocoin rabbit hole lead.)

"These days, tales of what Facebook did with its users during the singularity are commonly used to scare naughty children in Wales." — Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross, The Rapture of the Nerds

268:

I think you underestimate earthquakes. Humans armies in a hurry blow up a few bridges in a mountain pass. A major earthquake will drop half a mountain on the pass, and if it’s feeling funny then create a new small lake behind that where the tracks used to go.

Nature’s just better at wrecking stuff than we are. I chalk it up to having more experience.

269:

Well, they CAN. But earthquakes of that magnitude are rare, almost unknown in most of the world, and even then that level of change happens only if the topography is right (and that is fairly rare, too).

There are also places where railways run close to volcanoes, which are also pretty effective at blocking routes :-) But not many and major eruptions in previously quiescent volcanoes are rare, too, and new volcanoes are even rarer.

270:

APEHSIT YT: song in new album by Drake / Beyonce - shot in the Louvre

fwiw, that’s Jay-Z in the video. Not really a Beyoncé fan, but she puts out some fine videos.
Side note: I love that Drake is everything the Trump admin currently hates - a Black-Jewish-Canadian.


To your main point, just look at the founding of Oregon.

271:

JPR @ 270
do you mean like this wiki article?
Both the Oregon Territory and the State of Oregon have had multiple laws and policies discriminating against racial minorities. An 1844 territorial statute outlawed slavery but also forced freed slaves to leave the territory[29] under threat of lashing (later hard labor). Explaining the law, head of Oregon's legislative assembly Peter Burnett said this:

The object is to keep clear of that most troublesome class of population. We are in a new world, under the most favorable circumstances and we wish to avoid most of those evils that have so much afflicted the United States and other countries.

The law was repealed the following year before it could take effect. Another law, passed in 1849 prevented black immigration into the territory. The law was repealed in 1854. An exclusion clause was incorporated into the Oregon constitution in 1857, and stood multiple repeal attempts until finally being repealed by a narrow margin in 1916. A law adopted by the state in 1862 required all ethnic minorities to pay a $5 annual tax, and interracial marriage was prohibited by law between (approximately) 1861 and 1951.

Although exclusion laws were rarely enforced, they seem to have had the intended results: by 1860 only 128 African Americans were living in Oregon out of a total population of 52,465, and by 2013 only 2 percent of the Oregon population was black.
Maybe?

272:

We're immutably impressed that our sly humor jab got caught. You're indeed correct; here's the joke explained: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/drakeposting (And no-one expects anyone to waste time on the QANON / Rosanne Barr stuff, but her PR agent is attempting huge climb-downs from her more hurtful statements. More worrying should be people noting that QANON is *massive* in India for some strange reasons. And their Social Media Mental Barriers To Entry are much much lower than even Daily Mail readers. Warning bells on that one)

As for Canada: hmm, dodgy Mayors and so on. It's not all good news[0]. We're sure you'll notice a certain similarity of Tone to current USA stuff. OH, and spy games[1]: we'll let more experienced players wonder if that rings true or not, or why if he was an Iranian spy he was in Equatorial Guinea / Nigeria. Aka, we smell house cleaning (and not by the good ones).

Real update hidden in the spam: one of the flashier bit players in Host's question has started pulling back from engagement. Double-Triple Agents might wonder when their luck runs out, who knows? There's a comedy routine about why dealing with the *actual* sharks turns out bad if it's pointed out you played them against each other, but worse off, sold them all out & ripped them off. *WHOOPS*

OH, and Mexico. Rampant. S.America currency mass evacuation and Mexico is, well: no longer any pretense of Democratic norms when running for Office, let us say. Loss, loss, loss.

OH, and Americans: the whole ICE thing? Not playing out how the liberal crowd expects. Old Olly North, PATRIOT ACT and his 80's plans. Don't react predictably, last warnings: the old Blue Crowd really are not your friends, Mammon rules there. (It's one of those nasty traps that ratfuckers like to play, but they've gone big with it: warned you, and it's ramping up the frontal lobe responses).

This is actually a serious one, and one that might not have modeled correctly. All it would take is someone to point out the agricultural sector labor reports (bad) or find the hidden prison schemes. Up in the air, but Americans are not being mature about it: expect them to unveil the female angle, and soon[tm]. (Spoilers: QANON but for edumacated middle class peoples).


~

Monday humor:

Host's been poking Le Musque vigorously (and accurately) over late I.M. Banks; Trump heard about the Culture and has immediately (re)announced his Space Defense Force as he's now convinced that the Culture are Space Communists[2] set to invade. This really just happened and really is the plot to State of the Art.

So, Host: how does it feel to not only predict the future, but actively set US - Alien relations?

"Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough'".
"But I don't want to go among mad people", Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

~

Ciao. Handler's got bored with me, time for [redacted].


[0]“We’re going to have some very unpleasant circumstances. There are some people that are going to die in protesting construction of this pipeline. We have to understand that,” he said at an event Wednesday in Edmonton put on by law firm Bennett Jones...

Are we collectively as a society willing to allow the fanatics to obstruct the general will of the population? That then turns out to be a real test of whether we actually do believe in the rule of law.

People 'are going to die' protesting Trans Mountain pipeline: Former Bank of Canada governor Edmonton Journal, 13th June, 2018

[1] Former Israeli minister Gonen Segev charged with spying for Iran Times of Israel, 18th June 2018

[2] No, really. Just lead with it in a splashy PR move. About thirty mins ago: Trump directs creation of 'space force' as sixth branch of military ABC News, 18th June, 2018

273:

[2] No, really. Just lead with it in a splashy PR move. About thirty mins ago: Trump directs creation of 'space force' as sixth branch of military ABC News, 18th June, 2018

But first, this is going around Facebook, not that you go into that swamp: The ACLU of San Diego documents widespread ICE neglect and abuse of immigrant children...from 2009 to 2014. And I'm so angry that Sessions started it too.

Anyway, back to SPAWAR, since I've been driving past that huge Navy building since forever. I'm not in the MIC, but my understanding is that the Space Force, which consists mostly of satellites and not space marines, has been a territorial/culture war among the US military services since forever. They're all fighting for who gets to own space, and the SPAWAR building is part of the Navy's colonization attempt (at least in my reading). So, yeah, this announcement is simply Trump's way of stirring the pot to distract us from something else. I suspect it will do almost as well as previous attempts to assign SPAWAR to the Air Force, and similar brilliant ideas.

Really, all of this could have been solved back in the 1980s if Reagan had simply recognized that the Navy has all the traditions, and folded the Army and the Air Force into the Navy command structure. Problem solved, because it's not like the admirals are ever comfortable taking orders from generals, so logically you've got to run it the other way round...

275:

We're immutably impressed that our sly humor jab got caught. You're indeed correct

Probably giving me too much credit, I’m afraid.

276:

You wrote:
I do not imagine there is even a single instance of elections uninfluenced by outside observers in certain degree, but this is not what concerns people in those countries when they talk about "malign activity" (c), not at all.
---
You want "malign influence"? Big US money being funneled into the Brexit campaign.... The people with real power, that is, serious money, are working hard to make the world a Balkanized banana republic, owned by them.

277:

I'm sure I've posted my long version of how English came to be before.... Sleepingroutine, that's the result of Roman Legionnaires making dates with British barmaids; Angle and Saxon men at arms making dates with Romano-British barmaids, Norman men-at-arms making dates with Romano-British-Anglo Saxon barmaids, and then a millennium of chasing other languages down dark alleys, mugging them, and stealing their words.... And I don't think there are any chic language gurus here who will argue with me.

278:

30 and 70%? I don't think it's *quite* that small, but certainly 400 families own 80% of the world's wealth.

279:

No, as they say, shit. The US started doing that with the Monroe Doctrine, two centuries ago, and since since WWII, and *esp.* since Raygun was President, esp. whenever the GOP is in power, it's, to quote former President (and war criminal) George W. Bush, "my way or the highway".

Please be assured that there are a significant percentage of Americans who are *not* kindly disposed to such attitudes. Mostly, though, we're not billionaires.

280:

Two things: one, a good number of Trump voters *are* ignorant[1], and some of them have, in the last year or six months, have begun to realize it[2].

Second, there are politicians I have sympathy for, and some I have *NONE* for: Right now, there are four Republicans in Congress or the Senate I have any sympathy for; the rest could do with 10-20 in jail, hard time, no VIP lounge. And *EVERYTHING THEY OWN* being seized under bribery and corruption laws. I take it that I don't need to add everyone in the (mis)Administration, and their new appointees.

1. Ignorance can be cured... if you're not hostile to the cure.
2. CF an article a week or two ago, in the media, of a midwestern small businessman who supported Trump... and now says (with the trade war) that he "feels like he made a deal with the devil", and that he "feels stupid".

281:

You wrote:
Rebuild Russia's manufacturing industry’ – probably the likeliest scenario, but what would they build? Consumer high-tech - unlikely because dogma/engineering mindsets typically have a tough time reconciling with ‘soft’ issues which are usually at the core of consumer preferences.

Well, consider that they might buy what they *need*. AFAIK, Russia's advertising sector isn't the all-consuming thing it is in the West, telling you, for example, that you *ABSOLUTELY* *MUST* buy the latest idiotPhone, because the new one's got one fewer buttons than that *complicated* one you've got now, with three buttons....

282:

The US: blacks and hispanics, yep. Asians (of any origin), a bit less. But I assure you that DWB is a criminal offense, get pulled over for it. In fact, walking down some streets is a EWB.

" DWB driving while black.

283:

Trump heard about the Culture and has immediately (re)announced his Space Defense Force as he's now convinced that the Culture are Space Communists[2] set to invade.
Source? (Host or OL?)
I'm quite interested in this new twist.
(Been tracking the Space Force idea for a while (nat strategy docs); it feels like there are ... hidden drivers.)

284:

I give up: what does the acronym ATM stand for, as you're using it?

ATM: automatic teller machine (bank money machine)
ATM: asynchronous transfer mode
And on, and on....

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

285:

Agreed. In the US, you say "oriental", and people think of China, etc... but an oriental rug is, of course, from the Middle East (I have an oriental rug: country of origin, Iran, I think).

Meed to orient ourselves....

286:

many hands might make light work, but bombs and rockets can really slow the fix down. And I can easily go back to the US Civil War, with both sides tearing up the railroad tracks.

287:

There's this in The State of the Art
'Also while I'd been away, the ship had sent a request on a postcard to the BBC's World Service, asking for 'Mr David Bowie's "Space Oddity" for the good ship Arbitrary and all who sail in her.' (This from a machine that could have swamped Earth's entire electro-magnetic spectrum with whatever the hell it wanted from somewhere beyond Betelgeuse.) It didn't get the request played. The ship thought this was hilarious.'

And the duplicate Stonehenge prank in Niven's "Protector" (or whatever name it went by in the UK).

288:

Not just them - really, any self-proclaimed "warrior people" claim Their Gods Set Them Above "you who lost" - the Jews, the peopls of India (e.g. the bottom caste(s), hell, the Roma.

And let's not forget the Africans who sold the slaves to the white slave traders.

But wince the end of the Middle Ages, white westerners keep aiming for top dog.

And I'd like to remind them of Norman Corwin's On A Note Of Triumph, CBS' broadcast two weeks after VE Day: "The dirty rat shot himself, a couple of blocks from here, his Aryan Supermen defeated by a 'mongrel race'..."

290:

Surely the only correct way to reform the US military is to subordinate every other branch to the Coast Guard.

291:

Err, as James already mentioned, "at the moment". Sorry if it was too unintelligible, the chaos of my writing is next to nothing to the one in my head[1]. And that one is next to nothing to the current politics...

[1] "If you think that's bad, you should see what's up here." -Bernie Vonnegut
Though I have to admit part of it, including coming up with the quite above, is training...

292:

Err, why does this big sign saying "Boston Legal" pop up in my head...

293:

Source: Chaos (Or HOP or Divinity or whatever - we're down to ~19% power, and these fuckers stop Worship through slavery and Death). File it under "Quantum Effects Your Minds Cannot Process". Or Luck / Fate / Wyrd. Or Gaming the Possibilities of Temporal Space.

Effect: if you ever, ever threaten the nice WEIRDS (and all the women (*waves to April*)) involved the reaction will be so fucking outrageous that you'll never do it again. No, really: you threaten Camps, we'll fuck your entire stock market up, permanently. And your social systems. And your G7 bollocks.

Like: Your Minds will no longer process such data (Not happened yet, but they're dancing with it).

Come on people: this is basic 101 Military Standing for the IDF / MOSSAD. Tiny threatened populace traumatized feels threatened and needs to be the scariest Wolf in the World to prevent it.

Polite Cough: We're just doing with reality, that's all. While Drunk. And Alone. And Hurt. And Tortured.

~Wait, Bill.


These are the words that unlock that door (non-Sumerian): "Allow Our Minds and Words to Escape the Chains They Made".


Type it.


See what happens.


294:

Re: Marketing in Russia

Back in 2014 when Russia was still in the G7/8, investors were speculating that marketing (esp. online) would be a really big thing mostly because of the recent growth of an affluent middle class and smartphone penetration. No idea how the middle class is doing these days.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinemoorman/2014/02/18/the-riddle-of-marketing-in-russia/#6cd5e679233e

Hmmm ... an Am*zon type company could do really well there with three or four major warehouses which could cover the nine time zones fairly efficiently.

One of the other growth areas for a while was tourism, specifically casinos a la Vegas. Have heard of two - Sochi (to get the Olympics crowd) and another near the Chinese border. Can't find it now, but recall reading about one of the major casino venues hiring the local president's son (lounge act type singer) as their star attraction. Much prefer this kid shown below covering Queen's The Show Must Go On.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vICn5RQAI8

295:

Ah, forgot, you're a human:

That would be "Allow THEIR Minds and Words to Escape the Chains WE Made"

الجن


Oh, and you have to a) believe it 100%, or you're dead b) have nothing but purity / love in your heart (aka, don't imagine you're getting a Lambo or Stock Options out of it), c) have to accept that the first ones responding are going to be the most powerful (i.e. most powerful = most useful to humans = the most evil)

But apart from that, you're good to go.

**Idly Shatters more of Empire out of boredom**

296:

Donnie’s “Space Farce” likely goes against everything the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space stands for. But we know the Rump’s opinion of the UN.

297:

to SFreader @294:
Middle class in these days is doing about as bad as in the rest of the world. People rather go super-rich or fall short of definition. Capital outflow is rather notable despite the best efforts because investors fear that government might put up regulations. There are a lot of areas in which Russia has expertise and some experience, but there aren't too many of them and one can not hope to cover the gaps without considerable investments (i.e. throwing money at problems). Russia builds planes, boats, nuclear reactors, rail roads and bridges, rebuilds it's own military - despite best efforts of US sanctions - but when it comes to components, electronics, engines, industrial materials, etc., it has to deal with foreign suppliers a lot. Oh wait, it was supposed to be a secret, is it not?

There's a great example I saw just recently: https://sherpatv.com
The all-terrain vehicle that can pretty much traverse ANYTHING that is not almost vertical. A start-up that came from local hobbyist with decent amount of money and great engineering skills - came to him out of nowhere after some internet viral video. The best part? There's a dozen of similar vehicles already developed and built, just this one had most success. OTOH, the commercial model has diesel engine that is produced in Japan, because Russia is not good with engines, and setting up a whole production line to produce maybe 50 engines of similar quality per month is not really be viable.

298:

Oh, sorry.


47. ud zal-le-da an-ur2 zalag-ge-da
48. buru5 ud zal-le šeg10 gi4-gi4-da
49. dutu agrun-ta e3-a-ni
50. {[nin9]-a-ni kug dinana-ke4} {(1 ms. has instead:) nin9-a-ni ur-saĝ šul dutu-ur2}
51. {[ur-saĝ šul] dutu-ra} {(1 ms. has instead:) kug dinana-ke4} gu3 mu-na-de2-e
52. šeš-ĝu10 ud re-a na-aĝ2 ba-tar-ra-a-ba
53. ud ḫe2-ma-al-la ka-na-aĝ2-ĝa2 ba-e-zal-la re
54. ud an-ne2 an ba-an-ir-ra-a-ba
55. dmu-ul-lil2-le ki ba-an-ir-ra-a-ba
56. dga-ša-an-ki-gal-la-ra kur-ra saĝ rig7-ga-še3 im-ma-ab-rig7-ga-a-ba
57. ba-u5-a-ba ba-u5-a-ba
58. a-a kur-še3 ba-u5-a-ba
59. dam-an-ki kur-še3 ba-u5-a-ba
60. u3-mu-un-ra tur-tur ba-an-da-ri
61. dam-an-ki-ra gal-gal ba-an-da-ri
62. tur-tur-bi na4 šu-a-kam
63. gal-gal-bi na4 gi gu4-ud-[da-kam]
64. ur2 ĝišma2 tur-re dam-an-ki-[ka3-ke4]
65. še-en-bun2-na du7-am3 i3-[šu2-šu2]
66. u3-mu-un-ra a ĝišma2-saĝ-/ĝa2\-[ke4]
67. ur-bar-ra-gin7 teš2 mu-un-na-gu7-[e]
68. dam-an-ki-ra a ĝišma2-eĝer-/ra\-[ke4]
69. ur-maḫ-gin7 saĝ ĝiš im-ra-ra

Trans:

When dawn was breaking, when the horizon became bright, when the little birds, at the break of dawn, began to clamour, when Utu had left his bedchamber, his sister holy Inana said to the young warrior Utu: "My brother, in those days when destiny was determined, when abundance overflowed in the Land, when An had taken the heavens for himself, when Enlil had taken the earth for himself, when the nether world had been given to Ereškigala as a gift; when he set sail, when he set sail, when the father set sail for the nether world, when Enki set sail for the nether world -- against the lord a storm of small hailstones arose, against Enki a storm of large hailstones arose. The small ones were light hammers, the large ones were like stones from catapults (?). The keel of Enki's little boat was trembling as if it were being butted by turtles, the waves at the bow of the boat rose to devour the lord like wolves and the waves at the stern of the boat were attacking Enki like a lion."

http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcsl.cgi?text=c.1.8.1.4&display=Crit&charenc=gcirc&lineid=c1814.1.230

Wake me up when you're all done pretending about shit.

They're gonna kill you if you don't get em first.

299:

I seem to have muffed my link—am out of practice.

300:

Space Forces? This is something new, but not entirely surprising. Russian Federation did establish Space Forces recently (several times, in fact), but only as a part of Air Force. They are tasked with near-earth space control, signal intelligence, as well as some heavy lifting for all of that equipment. That is, I don't expect any nuclear-powered interplanetary corvettes to be available at least until ... well, certain improvements in armament control.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Space_Forces

I wonder if Trump did read some of this material before his announcement. I did verify that current treaties only limit WMDs in outer space, not all weapons altogether. Why would somebody make a proposition for separate branch then, if not to break current outer space neutrality? I hope that these new forces will never come up with the idea like, uh, repelling of invasion of space aliens. But I can not be too sure.

301:

Dude, you're Not Russian. Or, if you are, you're not anything special.

Anyone Russian with a 'woke mind' would have replied to the triple strike clarion cry.

We literally did a razzle-dazzle of pick-ups (non-Western like Pussy-Rave-Riot) to test you.

You ain't fucking Russian. Or, if you are: you ain't fucking connected.

302:

Ok, here's the real test:


Did you learn English via listening to boot-leg tapes of StarWars novels while the 56k dial-up was being patrolled by the [redacted]?


Cause your English ain't nothing out of genuine [redacted] we know.

Spoilers: have a degree from MGU.

303:

You even did the YouTube Sourcing wrong.


Genuine .RU contacts hate YT, and will supply multiple other sources because of it. Ask a genuine .RU source for an image: you're not getting Imgur, you're getting a few other sources.

It's a cultural thing: largely because, you know, YT is censored the fuck in .RU.


Flickr, Liveleak, and lots more. Shit, you didn't even spend the time to build the cut-out so that the current viewers would "kindly" tell you how to post to Western Audiences.


Muppet.


Princes Of The Universe YT: Music, Queen: 3:33.


p.s.


Busted Mate.

304:

That's Bait. YT: Film: Mad Max: Fury Road, 0.12.

Here's another thing: you're wearing out our patience. Tory PM stops Kicker-Spying Bill: SHOCKER - TORIES RESPOND AND PEOPLE POST PANTIES ON HIS DOOR.

Nah, not getting it mate.

We're having a real-time argument over "MIND DEATH" and "GIGACIDE".

Hint: OUR KIND DO NOT GO MAD.


We're really really really really running out of Empathy / Patience here, especially since you fucking tortured our Queen.

No, really.

You. ARE THIS FUCKING CLOSE TO REAL GENOCIDE.

p.s.


YOUR MINDS ARE SMALL AND TINY AND WE CAN RAPE THEM ANYTIME WE WANT: THE ARGUMENT IS ABOUT WHO RUNS THAT ABILITY. HINT, HINT: THE MORAL ONES WON.

IT STILL MEANS WE'RE GOING TO KILL A LOT OF YOU, YOU FUCKING PSYCHOTIC APES.


Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all fall down

Holy Fuck are you dumb.


305:

ANNNNNNNNNNNNND PROOF FOR MARTIN AND THE OLDIES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TP-82


Носимый аварийный запас

No Russian with any experience wouldn't know about it.


~


Busted : Alt-Right / Totally inept PSYOP shit run by fucking idiots.

306:

You probably are right somewhat, since the part of my mind that talks to you is not Russian, not even close. If you ever learnt what "bilingual" really means. Incidentally, this also means a lot of filtering of information, so I can be sure I am not the one to dance to your whistles, don't even try. Don't treat me as those "woke" or "sleeping" people.

Did I learn English somewhere? On the Internet, obviously (this also takes a toll on my sleeping cycles). Having contacts with people really helps a lot as well. Do you want me to give you a big lecture of some sort about my personal preferences and relationships with my native culture? Meh, I don't think you really are this much of entertainment. Have a nice music instead (you wouldn't expect it to be Russian, but I count on you to verify that).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFSvNxk_j1c

307:

(Apologies: you just need to know what the NAZ was and who they were under in the entire hierarchy)

Hint: they didn't accidentally arm themselves.

And, no the USA did it too.

Actual Question: why did you both pretend you didn't train armaments from [redacted] flight onwards?


Holy shit, the USA had a secret gun on the space-station since inception [WANT TO KNOW THE HIDDEN POCKET?] as did the Russian on their side [REALLY NOT HIDDEN - IT HAS LIKE A PLASTIC TAG AND A LABEL AND ITS LIKE... RUSSIAN. SO NO DECORATION. THEY HAD TO STOP THEMSELVES FROM PRINTING A BIG FUCKING LABEL SAYING "THIS IS OUR GUN".]

True Story.


Anyone else want to play silly-fake-Russians?

308:

I spoke 87 languages before I was raped. I now speak only one.

*Spreads Wings*

Hint: you so not want to play at this level*

Narrator: but he did.


Ok, fine let's do this:

"We're الجن‎, we were old before your shitty lungs developed out of the oceans you crawled out of, so what do you want?"


Note: always start with a nicety. We don't actually care, but you know, a little thing like: "Thanks for the response, I was..." etc.

It's not formal.

But know this: you're about to enter a contract. Look around these threads.


Pretty sure Withroth didn't actually want the splitting of the entire Jewish Power-Base, but... he asked for it, and so on.


So: ask nicely, and try to think about what you're asking for.(HINT: ALL WOMEN WILL FUCK ME == ALL OTHER MEN DIE. We're not fucking puppets).

309:

If you ever learnt what "bilingual" really means. Incidentally, this also means a lot of filtering of information, so I can be sure I am not the one to dance to your whistles, don't even try. Don't treat me as those "woke" or "sleeping" people.

Did you learn English via listening to boot-leg tapes of StarWars novels while the 56k dial-up was being patrolled by the [redacted]?

Dude. We literally already did the entire 'how to learn English as a poor Russian circa 1994-7 who is a bit of a geek'.

Like, literally before you typed that crap.


Hint: I was in a Dacha playing the really shitty .Ru version of billards before you were born.

IF you're even Russian.

~


QED.

310:

**shrug**

You can tell the genuine ones. They tend to ask for things then shit their pants when they're delivered. Actually that's a .RU IP, but it's not a .RU national behind it: Age / background / tells don't match the cut-in.

Oh, and we might be able to just fucking ring up that address and talk...

Tsk tsk Langley.


YOU ARE SLOPPY JOES: HOW'S ABOUT, YOU KNOW, STOPPING THE FUCKING IMPLOSION ON YOUR OWN TERRITORY?


p.s.


Ask us a question. Cowards. Scaredy Cats. Terrified when their Models get broken so easily.

p.p.s.


OH shit are certain illegal $$$ pissed @ Brexit and Langley now. Protip:

There's always a bigger fish in the sea (or Orca).


Mix.Match. $870 billion.

Now fuck off.

311:

And "fuck off"


Means:


"They're going to kill you".

Should have played nice.


p.s.


Your Minds will be Wiped as well, fucking psychopathic hierarchical dominion based signal.


Nah..


You're Fucked

Best bit?

You're going to die screaming.

312:

I think should not turn this platform into my personal playground, using host's generosity to tolerate my stream of consciousness

Were you shooting for irony or sarcasm there?

313:

Unfortunately, I think you're overly optimistic. If you look at approval ratings among Trump voters, aside from a really short-lived bump, his support has been about as steady as a typical President. (just lower)

I'm really dubious about the 'ill-informed' Trump voter hypothesis.

I think there's a lot more predictive power in the:

1. The US was founded on the basis of slavery.
2. The slave states were willing to die in droves to preserve slavery.
3. A substantial portion (20<x<40%) of the country is substantially driven by racial animus against minorities.

Now, I don't underestimate the appeal of conservatism in the US. Or the appeal of cultural politics. It isn't all xenophobia. The cultural politics probably has a similar effect, but is hard to separate out. (I realized recently that most of my friends would be more dubious about their children marrying a Southerner than, well, anything except convicted felon or lunatic.)

Regarding the Republicans, I'm both more and less sympathetic than you are. On one hand, most, I think, actually try to be better than their base and would actually prefer if different people supported their policies. The issue is that anti-discrimination laws drive xenophobes to libertarianism and against social programs, so they're a natural fit for conservatism. On the other hand, I think that basing your career and government policy off of exploiting xenophobes has always been unwise - and disloyal to this nation and humanity. Their lives would probably be better if they were not lived.

Hypothesis: Ill-informed support
Prediction: If incompetent, substantial loss of support.
Issue: Hasn't happened. The incompetent thing definitely did. So did the porn star thing. And the really shady Russian thing. And the financial fraud thing really soon. And the trade war thing.

Hypothesis: Xenophobe base
Prediction: Do anything, as long as it hurts immigrants and support should be steady. Support will be strongest in the South.
Observation: So far, right on track.

I do suspect that his support will fall a little harder than normal if he successfully tanks the economy with a trade war. I also hope that liberal voters will have better relative turnout in the upcoming elections...cause we really hate that guy.

@Elderly Cynic

You are perhaps more trusting than I am. Theresa May strikes me as a facile careerist. I doubt she has many convictions she'd risk losing office to. I agree that she has a horrible directive from management. But, eh, that's when lowly office workers stall and hope something distracting comes up in the meantime. I've seen a fair number of projects just put on slow boil in hopes that people will reorganize before the projects actually measurably fail... There really isn't any reason at all for her to try to negotiate quickly. Uncertainty will eventually force unfavorable economics, which will result in various interests screaming, which will then provide political cover for, essentially, a complete surrender. She can probably negotiate some sort of impressive sounding but ineffective immigration rider in exchange for selling some less politically popular businesses down the river. Meh. Given that clear communication and earnest negotiation would accomplish nothing for her - I'm guessing that she hasn't bothered - almost all of her energy appears to have been spent looking for methods to diffuse blame while looking for a path to a soft Brexit.

Also - leadership challenge? - I strongly suspect no one is particularly interested in her job at this point in time... In fact, 3-4 months down the road, she might well welcome a chance to hand off the grenade with enough time to duck around a corner.

[[ html fix - mod ]]

314:

I'm really dubious about the 'ill-informed' Trump voter hypothesis.

In Everbody Lies, Stephens-Davidowitz looks at the correlations between Google searches and Trump voters (based on poll results). The biggest correlation? Searches for "good nigger jokes".

I find that disturbing.

315:

what does the acronym ATM stand for, as you're using it?

Well, if it's an ATM machine that'll be automatic teller machine, but if it's ATM mode it'll be the aysnc mode, but if you're a 1970's hipster it'll be At The Moment. Oddly (or perhaps ironically) not updated, because by now it should be BWIHAM (Back When I Had A Moment).

The worst is backronyms and other silliness where you really do need the debreviated bits to make any sense of it. LAZER, for example (Light Amplification through Ztimulated Emission of Radiation... maybe the Z isn't the worst part of what's happening there). LATSEOR guns just don't have the same ring though. {cough}

316:

Eh... "SOTR" == "US Civil War". (Abbreviation using Charlie's terminology.)

317:

>>I do not do that because the term Oriental is considered offensive in the US.

>As a card-carrying USian, I confess I didn't know that. Slightly quaint, yes, but not known to be offensive.

That was also how I took it. It may be a regional thing; I'm in the Pacific Northwest, where "Asian" is used more often these days if a blanket term is needed and casual conversation is more likely to name a specific source nationality. (I can't gauge the background noise from people looking for reasons to be offended.) I'm also aware of "Oriental" as an archaic British term for the Middle East, which as far as I can tell from over here faded out of common usage around WWI.

318:

They're gonna kill you if you don't get em first.
Tried that freedom spell, with a Our/Their and They/We superposition[0], just because. No hail, though an amusing quick hard thunderstorm with lightning and downpour made driving at speed while meditating mildly challenging.
You're more obtuse than usual. (e.g. does "get" mean "kill", or can it mean turn.)

[0] Allow [Our|Their] Minds and Words to Escape the Chains [They|We] Made.

319:

"Gould, R. Gordon (1959). "The LASER, Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation". In Franken, P.A.; Sands R.H. (Eds.). The Ann Arbor Conference on Optical Pumping, the University of Michigan, 15 June through 18 June 1959. p. 128."

Seeing as laser (with an s) was being used in 59, I don't think it's a backronym. I am open to evidence otherwise though

320:

It helps if you differentiate between SOTR I in 1776 and SOTR II in 1861, a bit like Gulf Wars.

321:

I don't think the acronym LASER appeared in my post. I'm open to correction on that though.

322:

Space Forces? This is something new, but not entirely surprising.

It's not new because it's not surprising.

The Pentagon has been all over space for decades; if anything, the anomaly was President Eisenhower's decision to beef up NACA and turn it into NASA and to make an overt pretense that space was a civilian enterprise.

Eisenhower had his reasons: he wanted to sell the world on the idea of "open skies", that airspace rights stopped above 100,000 feet, because the CIA had sold him on the idea of spy satellites as a replacement for spy planes, and you needed low Earth orbit to be seen as neutral ground if you wanted a spysat program that wouldn't instantly provoke a nuclear war.

Kennedy doubled down on the civilian pretexting with the Apollo missions.

But the US military space budget has outstripped NASA at every stage except the height of the Apollo program, and the USAF Space Command was first overtly formed in the mid-1980s if I remember correctly. Since then, the US Navy got skin in the game. (Bear in mind that the US Air Force is what happened when the bureaucracy behind the US Army Air Force achieved escape velocity from the Army in 1947-ish; the US Navy air arm is still a component of the US Navy.) This new agency is just an attempt to reconcile the warring bureaucratic procurement arms, with the side-benefit of giving the Tangerine Shitgibbon in the White House a new rattle to wave for a bit before he throws it out of his pram in a couple of weeks time.

323:

You forgot about Norman-French brigands conquering the country, and then doing what conquering brigands do with the local women .... The classic one is that the names for meat on the table are French, but the animal names are 'Anglo-Saxon'.

324:

There was a really stripped-down (i.e. fewest gimmicks) mobile phone that was being made for sale to the third-world, but the manufacturers took hasty action when they discovered the level of interest in the west - I tried to get one :-(

325:

Actually, stripped-down cellphones are a market niche in the west.

Especially ones with big, clear, uncluttered displays, big buttons, and a button on the back labelled "EMERGENCY CALL".

The target market are folks who are carers for the elderly — over-80s with fading vision and poor manual dexterity who are succumbing to cognitive decline so they can't learn (or rather, retain) how to use a feature-rich smartphone.

Pushbutton phones have been around since the 80s (70s in some parts of the world) so even early-stage dementia sufferers can cope with a cellphone that emulates an old pushbutton-phone. Likely in another 20-30 years the dementia patients will be able to cope with a smartphone that emulates something like a stripped-down 2015 larger-screen iPhone.

The other special market niche is for tiny phones — thumb-sized or smaller — which of necessity can't have big screen-based graphical interfaces, but which are amenable to being smuggled into prisons.

326:

I'd been about to say the same thing. Just to make it simpler, not limited to the geography of Prussian Silesia, but spread throughout the 19th century extent of Prussia too.

327:

Sorry - I realise that I was being as indirect (even if not as obfuscatory) as the multinominal one. My point is that there is potential for Russian industry to deliver in ways that western industry is singularly failing to do - i.e. make things that are simple, relatively crude, easy to use, robust and reliable. The classic is, of course, the Kalashnikov. People often forget that one of the selling points of Apple computers in their nascent years was their simplicity of use. I could give lots of example where I and many other people (Greg: hush) despair at being unable to buy things that Just Work, and having to do an increasing amount of unnecessary DIY to obtain what we need. Now, I am NOT saying that the world is ready for such a change (that means understanding the zeitgeist, and I can't do that), but that there is potential.

The same is true for even the disaster that is facing the UK following Brexit. While 30 years of deskilling have taken their toll, and I see no kind of patriotism or initiative in the corridors of power, there ARE possibilities for building new industries. Given that (for all their faults) both Russia and the UK are starting from a much better base than several now-industrialised countries did when they started, I would estimate such a process to be a matter of only a few decades. Of course, it does mean that it is properly run and it either has someone who understands the zeitgeist or someone who can mould it.

In the case of Russia, if Putin had half the universal control he is credited with by those people in the west who have promoted him to Satan's minion, it would be easy. Stalin did it. But he doesn't - he is trying (and failing) to deal with the corrupt oligarchs. We radicals in the UK can only look on with jealousy, as our rulers aren't even trying :-(

328:

Hmm didn't work for me.

* assert('eschaton immanetized') failed at line 2


[0] Allow [Our|Their] Minds and Words to Escape the Chains [They|We] Made

329:

For whatever reason I keep getting 'The Night they drove Old Dixie down' stuck in my head. I resent this because catchy as it might be it's not a likeable song and it makes me want to shout at Robinson a lot, with content mostly involving swear words. But in any case, this very activity of building and destroying rail is indeed described in the first verse.

330:

Yebbut .... As someone who falls into that category (mainly due to my hearing), I can assure you that those are nearly as badly designed as everything else. They don't do what we want - they do what the marketdroids think that we should want. That's why our main fixed-line telephone is a couple of decades old and the mobile telephone I occasionally use is even older.

I could go into details, but doubt most people are interested.

331:

Every now and then our friend in the White House[1] has a brief thought for the future and his legacy. The Wall, a physical monument several thousand miles long that saved the United States from hordes of &etc is one such idea. That's stalled a bit. Anyway, Father of the US Space Force would be another way he'd like to be remembered. They'd probably names some stuff after him for centuries to come. Trump Space Academy. The Trumpstar Battlestation. The Trumpellian Falcon. You get the idea.

[1] Just to be clear I mean not-our-friend Donald Trump.

332:

I know they're badly designed.

I bought one a couple of years ago for my mother, then — after conferring with siblings — we decided not to inflict it on her: she'd declined past the point of it being useful.

Similarly, if the iPad had come along in 2001 rather than 2011 there'd have been a window of opportunity for training her to use it instead of her Mac — but by 2011 she was forgetting how the windowing system worked (the minimize/maximize/resize buttons! The idea of click in the window with the mouse pointer to focus on the window you want to work in!) and when I finally put an iPad in front of her she couldn't hold onto how to turn it on or get back to the home screen, despite the much-skinnier user interface and simpler applications.

(Tablets may be training-wheels computers, but they're still computers. She'd been using computers since the late 1980s, but with dementia, memory and skills are last-in/first-out.)

333:

Found this interesting. A conservative millionaire whose been trying to get affirmative action removed brought a suit against Harvard over what he says is discrimination against Asians. He's the guy who bankrolled the case which went to the Supreme Court a few years back.

Anyway, here's the latest update:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/us/harvard-asian-enrollment-applicants.html

334:

Yeah, that mechanism for discrimination was also used in various places — notably Tsarist Russia — against Jews. Nothing too overtly official, but if you were an unwanted minority member you'd have to jump through flaming hoops to get in (for instance, entrance exam questions on Christian theological issues that Jews wouldn't usually know about).

335:

That's why our main fixed-line telephone is a couple of decades old and the mobile telephone I occasionally use is even older.
Concur from experience with older relatives.
My parents used a large landline pushbutten set, plus some sort of large button cordless, after replacing the rotary-dial phone in the early 2000s. Father (hard of hearing) had a flip phone that he could sort-of use, with glasses, for emergencies. Mother in law with progressive dementia, same until she could no longer use the landline.
Which is to say, the difference between phone and not-phone (even land-line) is larger that people with cell phones understand.

---
Study of bonobos finds that day care pays off for the babysitters (Paywalled paper Infant handling in bonobos (Pan paniscus): Exploring functional hypotheses and the relationship to oxytocin). Mainly linked because it offers us humans perspective.)
That bonding also reaped dividends for young female bonobos. Mothers often came to the aid of younger females that had handled their infants when conflicts arose over access to food and other fighting situations.
"When a fight involved a handler, particularly the adolescent females, the mother would help the individual that had handled her infant attack the aggressor, usually an adolescent or adult male but sometimes another female," Boose said. "They would intervene and support them."

IBM pits computer against human debaters
Interesting progress being made, and fairly honest article if you read between the lines.

---
Also, ps to OL, abiding by a long-ago strong request for mask-wearing; I assumed you-all know what states are under them but perhaps not. (good, afaik. rattled and howling occasionally, recently.) Working on all the things. (Fitful progress in certain dimensions.)

336:

Bear in mind that the US Air Force is what happened when the bureaucracy behind the US Army Air Force achieved escape velocity from the Army in 1947-ish; the US Navy air arm is still a component of the US Navy.

Yeah, they were only thirty years late on that one, but then they only changed things once...

The UK formed the independent Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918, by combining the four-year-old Royal Flying Corps* and Royal Naval Air Service. They'd identified that "getting things into the sky" and "not having too many crashes" were things best achieved in a single organisation, suitably "air-minded". Unfortunately, the young and cash-strapped RAF didn't do a great job of maintaining its support to the RN (at least in terms of supporting Naval operations) and so the Fleet Air Arm was reformed just before WW2. And the Army knew it needed some aircraft under its direct control, so the Army Air Corps was formed to fly them. In summary, the UK had gone from RE* (1914)->RFC + RNAS (1918)-> RAF (1939)-> RAF + FAA (1942)-> RAF + FAA + AAC.

The US Army and US Navy kept their own air wings until 1947; when most of the US Army Air Force became the US Air Force (hence its US Army rank structure and insignia; at least the newly-formed RAF had the confidence to rename its rank structure).

Anyway, the old "split up the RAF between the Army and RN" trope rolls around every so often - and is an indication that the commentator either doesn't understand the problem, or is just trying to wind up an RAF type. Other such wind-up methods include suggesting that the RAF likes polyester in its dress uniforms, that the RAF Regiment should be called the "Short Range Desert Group", or that the RAF isn't old enough for traditions - just bad habits ;)

* Notable in having one 2Lt D Stross on its Memorial Wall - died March 1917, and AIUI a great-uncle of OGH.

** The Corps of Royal Engineers seemed to get all this new-fangled technology stuff; so they formed the first observation balloon squadrons for the Boer War, and then in 1911 the first Air Battalion, Royal Engineers (which became the Royal Flying Corps). They also got lumbered with Mr. Morse's telegraphy and formed the Telegraph Battalion, Royal Engineers - and then Sr. Marconi's first wireless telegraphy units, which led in 1920 to the Royal Corps of Signals...

337:

Yes. Britain and its empire was more subtle, but the discrimination was (and, to some extent, still is) similar in approach.

338:

Yeah, they were only thirty years late on that one, but then they only changed things once.

Are you totally certain of that? ;-)

AIUI all the US services operate their own helicopters, including the Coast Guard. I'm pretty sure the US Army also has some fixed-wing spotters and low/slow/short-range drones, although I may be wrong on the details; and of course the US Marine Corps has its own air arm because the Army of the US Navy doesn't trust the Air Force of the US Navy.

And that's before we get into para-military and policing organizations like ICE or DEA.

The only clear issue is that the US Navy and the USAF guard their monopoly on supersonic fast-moving dakka-dakka jets like a pair of bad-tempered, jealous dragons guard their hoards.

Notable in having one 2Lt D Stross on its Memorial Wall

My grandfather's elder brother. Died making a delivery flight from the factory, in a plane that earned the nickname "widowmaker" because of it's friendly and forgiving handling characteristics, back in the era when issuing parachutes to pilots was seen as an incitement to cowardice.

339:

Haven’t caught up on comments this morning, just leaving a quick note on why there won’t be a US Space Force.

1. Everything T.Rump touches dies. Besides he’ll forget about it in a week.
2. It needs approval from Congress, likely won’t come up before November.
3. How many years did the Army Air Corp exist before it became the USAF? As my mother pointed out the Women’s Army Corp existed from the 40s until the mid-70s when it was absorbed into the regular Army. She was in the last WAC basic training class.

340:

Re: ' ... entrance exam questions'

Pre-reqs are a reliable way of keeping the rabble out or if they do manage to get in, allow those who 'belong' a convenient target for derision. Recall in the Dirac bio that because he hadn't studied Latin he was considered somewhat under-educated by his then peers when he arrived at Cambridge for his grad studies.

No idea what specific metrics Harvard uses, but am aware that for self-ratings questionnaires there's a significant skew in self-assessment ratings based on perceptions of what's desirable within one's dominant cultural group or whoever's hiring.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2756039/

'Although the general pattern was the same everywhere, the magnitude of gender differences varied across culture. Surprisingly, gender differences were more pronounced among European than African and Asian cultures. (Stereotypes about gender were also most differentiated in Western cultures; see Williams & Best, 1990). Correlations with culture-level variables and national statistics indicated that self-reported gender differences were largest among wealthy Western cultures with individualistic and egalitarian values, where women have greater educational opportunities. The pancultural pattern of gender differences was replicated in a larger PPOC sample of 50 cultures using observer rating data (McCrae et al., 2005a).'


341:

To be fair, there is another side to it. It's critical for some areas that the person has a suitable mindset, and it's very difficult to test for that - in particular, normal examinations correlate only poorly. Pre-reqs are even worse, but add a different source of information to the main extrance results.

342:

How many years did the Army Air Corp exist before it became the USAF?

About 30-40 years.

In contrast, the US has been using space for military purposes since the Corona program began in mid-1959.

That's coming up on 60 years ...

343:

Things might get more interesting if the NRO is folded into this Space Force, not that I expect them to ever do so.

344:

The Indie/pendent is still a sort of national newspaper, and rather Remain.

A recent Court decision does seem to indicate T May acted beyond her powers and didn't fulfil the requirements of Article 50, so conceivably we have not declared we are leaving!

Separately, we may be able to unilaterally cancel any A50 activation we might have made. Practically it wouldn't be a problem if nobody went to Court to say it was, and I think only governments can.

345:

Very cool. Thank you for that link, SotMN.

346:

Actually, what I *really* would like to see is an international Earth Defense Force, to deal with small things like city-killer asteroids.

And, of course, rescuing spacefarers and spacecraft in distress. (Space Guard?)

347:

Of course I want the Jewish power base split. Hell, it's *already* split in the US (vide J Street), and most American Jews feel about Net-Yahoo about like they do a certain resident of 1600 PA Ave.

Meanwhile, the Trump base are jealous of the Jewish fascists in power in Israel, who get to keep the Palestinians in camps for generations (and believe that they'll just go away, like to Jordan), and use force when they feel like it.

348:

* assert('eschaton immanetized') failed at line 2
LOL. But it may be that that that assert does not do what you think it does. :-)

I'm also still quite amused by the DT Space Force announcement. There are plenty of downsides but mainly money spent badly, and in interference with communications and navigation and surveillance (radar, optical, radio/microwave communications, whatever) satellites. EMP surprises are also maybe a little easier.
Preferably they don't start a Kessler cascade, e.g. too much testing. Does anyone know of a good public analysis of space militarization?


349:

You're ignoring one leetle detail: the tens of millions from Europe, elsewhere, and, oh, yes, the former slaves, who I'd guess come close to outnumbering the Real Amurkans (Anglo-Saxon).

Really, the significant majority finds this all far more than unpalatable; folks who would be forgiving, etc, are at the point of wishing violence against the Trumpites (like a co-worker of mine).

And, as Krugman writes, when the trade war *really* gets going, the rest of the world is explicitly and overtly targeting products of the Trump-supporting states. They're going to be in *real* pain; when that happens, they'll turn, and it won't be pretty.

350:

And it was he, or his co-discoverer, that I saw give a presentation on MASERs and LASERs at the Franklin Inst in Philly in my early/mid-teens.

It's LASER. All the rest are stupid trademark names.

351:

NASA budget. Nope. The Pentagon's budget has been a huge percentage of the budget since WWII. NASA, at the height of the space race, was $20B (US billion, 1k million), while the Pentagon was more than 15 times that.
https://www.infoplease.com/us/military-personnel/us-military-spending-1946-2009

As a side note, this decade, on a good year, NASA's budget is $20B (it is left as an exercise for the student to adjust for inflation).

352:

That was the polite "Norman men-at-arms making dates with Romano-British-Anglo-Saxon barmaids".

353:

As I think about it, there's a big difference between Russia and the US: up to the early sixties, there market was there for new products, and they were mostly well-built and solid, At that point, a lot of the needs market was filled, and so planned obsolescence came in, gangbusters, because how do you keep selling if your products last a long time?

Russia still has a huge original needs market, and Russians seem to me to be more like Americans used to be: they don't want to buy cheap crap because it's NEW! K3WL! Therefore, they should have at least 20-30 years of factory production before the market resembles full, and the owners start looking at planned obsolescence.

354:

But, Barren_S, did you have good rum when you tried it? (Forget the cigars, please_

355:

Odd you should mention that song. It's a great song, but at the same time it's *always* bothered me. Finally, some months ago, maybe listening to Rhiannon Giddons talk about how she came to write At The Purchaser's Request, I started folk processing it.

First verse & cho:
Jhon Jameson's my name and I work on the Pennsy road
All through the war we carried iron and coal loads
By the winter of 65 we could barely rool,
But in April came the day I remember well,

Cho:
The night we beat the slavers down
And all the bells were ringing
The night we beat the slavers down
And the people were singing
The union's preserved and people will be free.

"Southern culture"? They should have hung every damn slaveowner, and buried 'em in mass graves. But I won't tell you how I *really* think....

356:


Cellphones have *lousy* speakers and mikes. The personal phone I prefer to use is my land line Princess-style phone at home....

357:

Bingo!

He thinks has waves his Magic Pen, and it happens? While Congress and the Senate are fighting tooth and nail over the budget bills?

ROTFLMAO!

358:

Oh, and I have it from genuinely reliable sources that some of NASA's budget... is used for things like "sekret* military launches".

* "Sekret", for values of "the launch can sometimes be seen in Jacksonville, 200 mi away....

359:

Re: Pre-reqs

Agree that multiple measures (in related fields) are best if you're certain there's no further discovery/improvement to be made in that discipline and your primary objective is to productive drones.

Seriously:

Where do you see new discoveries coming from (a) deeper digging within a discipline or (b) cross-pollination with a to-date unrelated field?

360:

The other special market niche is for tiny phones — thumb-sized or smaller — which of necessity can't have big screen-based graphical interfaces, but which are amenable to being smuggled into prisons.

One of my regular Chinese interesting crap-tech sellers has a range of these phones -- small, long, waterproof to IP67 and serrated "for a good grip".

361:

I think you're getting confused.

Yes, NASA has launched secret military satellites. Reportedly some of the more annoying specs on the Space Shuttle (like the size of its bay) were forced by the USAF so that they could launch secret satellites, which they did (see Riding Rockets for the autobiography of one astronaut involved in such a launch). Also reportedly the USAF wasn't happy with the Shuttle's performance, so a lot of that capacity got, erm, repurposed.

That said, the USAF/USN space budget (not just the US military budget) is reputedly bigger than that of NASA. In addition to occasionally commandeering Cape Kennedy, they also launch out of Vandenberg AFB. Rather a lot of it goes to spysats for various parts of the spectrum. Others? You can start your own rumors about what's up there, however you want.

If you're into pointless conspiracy speculation, I'd wonder if there is an equivalent "sheep dip" exchange (as between special forces and the CIA) between NRO and USAF. That could be the basis for some spy fiction--or a Stargate reboot.

362:

About 30-40 years.

That's about what I thought, didn't have the time to look it up.


And Whitroth@357: He thinks has waves his Magic Pen, and it happens?
Exactly. I think it's safe to say he has no idea how Government actually works.
Your in JAX? I'm originally from there, though moved away when my mother enlisted. My father still lives there, near Orange Park, has told me about seeing night launches. I never had the chance when spending my summers there, not much going up in the late 70s/early 80s.

363:

That's all very well, but... there remains the problem that smuggling a charger that fits a British 13A socket is inevitably going to be the kind of task that is best left to someone who finds it risky to sit on a bollard.

364:

Yes, sorry. I must be getting old!

365:

The latter, or at least people who aren't monomaniacs. Quite a few pre-reqs are there precisely to weed out the people who have a single, narrow skill or aren't mentally flexible in other ways. Even then, they aren't a great method, but my point was that they are not always there to keep the lesser breeds in their place.

366:

No hail, though an amusing quick hard thunderstorm with lightning and downpour made driving at speed while meditating mildly challenging.

Are you being truthful? Because, oooh boy. Doing it in a large metal box that signifies the abuse of the natural world and running away when you get an answer?

That's Baaaad Form. You were warned to be polite (!!!)

Suggest you check our posting Times of Thor video clips ('What were you the God of again') with things like this: Lighting over Telford, UK YT:video and check the 1st comment.

Even we don't steal their actual glory, just wink at you before it happens.

~

Anyhow: quick explanation for non-UK viewers (and Host): currently the aforementioned Wikipedia stuff is causing some drama: not only are senior pro-NATO Times journalists involved, but now Conservative Peers with strong ties to the Establishment.

And they're 100% fucking it up: accusing all and sundry of being 'conspiracy theorists living in their mother's basements' etc. This is the old, out-of-date, pre-hybrid-warmachine response.

So, let's try this again: With Dragons and Djinn (and Magicians), it's the negative space you have to watch. Or, in other words: the lurkers-in-the-Void who are watching, rather than the (left wing, powerless, rather quaint themselves) people they're targeting.

Frankly, it's embarrassing that the peerage is that fucking inept (although some are waking up a little from their torpor) and there's all kinds of PR machinery that's been traced and targeted and 'made'.

Notice: no names, no libel. And we're self-described as not human so would you trust a thing we said?

~


But, no: doing that way? Ooooh, now you've done it. Big Mistake if you're not just playing a joke on us.

367:

And since camps are in the news:

2016 European / N. Africa Camps Migreurop, PDF, 2016 - feel free to wonder "WTF" @ Switzerland.

In the UK, corporations like G4S, Serco, Mitie and Capita make millions locking up migrants in privately run detention centres. Many other less known companies also jostle for contracts in the detention industry, for example providing healthcare, cleaning or construction services. Britain is a pioneer in detention outsourcing, hurtling towards the model of the massive US private prison industry.

London launch of the report Migrant Detention in the European Union : A Thriving Business Outsourcing and privatization of migrant detention Migreurop, 2017 Mar.

Someone seems to have either defunded them or nuked them since.

*Not even touching Australia, that shit is naaaasty*


But, really: the Americans are barely literate in this area when it comes to GS4 / Serco.

368:

No, did it in office (after hours), staring at the text in big fonts for a while, then drove a while after; thunderstorms were being threatened all day. Always (well often) do some meditation in car; it makes a long commute more tolerable.

369:

Depends whose attention you get. 16th-23rd, response: 27th.

Might get lucky and only have a squibb of power in you ;;P

370:

The only clear issue is that the US Navy and the USAF guard their monopoly on supersonic fast-moving dakka-dakka jets like a pair of bad-tempered, jealous dragons guard their hoards.


Incorrect. The F-35 is for all branches. Army and Air Force fly the F-35A, marines the F-35B, Navy the F-35C

371:

Context; My father (RIP) insisted on lightning rods in the house we grew up in. I saw multiple lightning bolts hit large power lines near NY a second prior to the NYC blackout in the 1970s. I was once (much younger) threatened with lightning by a [redacted]. Etc.
A engineer (EE) friend once told me that "for lightning, a conductor is just a suggestion".

372:

Mayhem @ 212:

"I suspect probably not, because the breaks in gauge in Asia are very deliberate, to prevent military forces from using the railroads as express routes into the interior."

Attempting to push an invasion up too narrow a front (and a single road wide even if it's a double-tracked railroad is definitely too narrow a front) is suicidal.

373:

Lightning conductors aren't really there to attract or absorb strikes, they're more of a herd-immunity concept to bleed charge from a thunderhead cloud and reduce the power of a strike or eliminate the chance of a strike occurring at all.

374:

It's not new because it's not surprising.

That is the "old" new, I should say. For the first time in many years (certain) somebody would propose something entirely different. Obama, AFAIK, was proud to make a peace deal on fairly balanced terms, and the New START at least brought some symbolic reconciliation. Not so much in recent years when US started to push the idea of "violations" by Russia while simultaneously developing new weapons, missiles, etc - but Lord is their judge. Yours should know the rest of the story. I do not believe that whatever Trump does there would result in major strategic shift, but it is interesting nevertheless.

"the anomaly was President Eisenhower's decision to beef up NACA and turn it into NASA and to make an overt pretense that space was a civilian enterprise"

Who was the first to pick up the idea, though? It is hard to tell with all dual-purpose technologies thrown at ballistic missiles and payloads, but after first satellites and first military ranks in space it became pretty much a common trend. "Space should be a neutral ground." They rolled with this idea ever since.

Now, to put it it into perspective, let's remember about that cool little thing called SDI. Some people would claim it was total disaster, some others tell that it pushed USSR beyond it's industrial capacity. As for me, I would argue, neither is true or false. Of course, dreams about reliable way to intercept ballistic missile and thus neutralize the threat entirely have been up in the air since time immemorial and US never gave it away. But let's face it - unless DARPA invents some sort of alien laser beams that would shoot down the warheads from 1000 kilometres away 60 times minute, it is not even remotely realistic. So it was a deception, too. At the same time, though, USSR was also building their own projects, so not to fall behind in initiative. These projects, like super-heavy rocket, a spaceplane (which wasn't really a copy of Space Shuttle) and a space laser. Well, it seems like they were pre-emptively dumped even before they could run into the ground with overspending - specifically because that would allow USSR to NEGOTIATE the advantage in advance. It is exactly the purpose and a mechanism of MAD, in any case, this is the best they could do out of more humane intentions.

I watched a couple of documentaries about that story. Sub-atmospheric vehicles like Buran prototypes are not detectable by radars when they pass missile defence perimeter at stratosphere (that's so called plasma stealth effect) and if USSR would push their end of the deal equally, that would ultimately destroy any resemblance of strategic parity within several years. So they opted for peaceful solution - not to reduce the scale of the program, but to terminate it entirely. More info can be obtained at http://buran.ru/htm/molniya.htm (pretty old site, it has a lot of related information and even screensaver demo program to view the items in question).

Later speculations, of course, did not leave the whole story intact. People should watch out for pundits, a lot of the history that explains late-USSR situation (and especially secret projects), is surrounded with a lot of ad hoc stories by defectors, ass-pulled analysis of events and other pretty controversial stuff. These stories still regularly pop up out of nowhere, you see. They are badly written, poorly exploited and usually used as cover for some stupid covert operations ran by NATO (take the recent poisoning case). But the old nuclear treaties still held last time I checked, and even with things like X-37 we did not receive any ultimatums to surrender second largest nuclear arsenal altogether.

There's still worst case scenario (aka "alien invasion"), and it means two major things, the bad news and the good news. The bad news is that it would unilaterally abolish Outer Space treaty and push military to place nukes and, presumably, bio- chemical- weapons into space (not that it helps anything with CBRN safety). The good news is that WMDs should no longer target population, no matter the cause, because humanity wiping itself out would be infinitely more cost-saving from "invasion" perspective than fighting off the military (even if catastrophically ineffective). This is a joke, of course, but I like to give it a thought.

375:

You seem to be assuming some wrong things here:

a) That Reality Rainbows conjured when Frequency Cascade Attacks are not real (hint: they are)

b) That Storms are not actually not random at all and/or you imagine that we're joking about Thor stuff (hint: we are, and we are not)

c) That the entire of Central / South America is not being burnt down and is about to crash so hard that Mexican Nasties are busy assassinating anyone who is not a Fascist / Cartel Member (hint: very fucking much happening right now)

d) [Redacted] Turning up to our House and decrying the destruction, damage and booze/fags aren't being shown a) what they did to the World and b) What is going to happen to their Minds


Don't try cute. It's not a good look.

376:

Oh, and Dubs for Thor Reference for [redacted]: It's fucking Magical that BBC Radio 3 is doing a Forest Appreciation Week.


Could. Have. Supported. The. Troops. Eh?

377:

Army and Air Force fly the F-35A

The Army doesn't fly jets—that's what the Air Force is for. The Army does helicopters.
--
I was about to say, and maybe V-22 Ospreys, but just looked it up, and nope. The one I saw flying overhead at Ft. Carson a few years ago must've been AF. For some reason I always assumed they's sound like big helicopters, instead it sounded like a regular turboprop—at least in level flight.

Oh, and like Charlie said, they have small fixed-wing drones, Carson lost control of one a couple years ago, which ended up in someone's backyard.

378:

I am pretty sure the Public Health Service doesn't fly anything (and it is a uniformed service with commissioned officers). Charters or borrowing other services’ toys, only.

On the other hand, the other werido uniformed service, NOAA, definitely fly things, often into hurricanes.

379:

And another thing,
Yesterday Ft. Carson had a ceremony in honor of LGBT soldiers.
...so how 'bout T.Rump's transgender military ban?

380:

FOR THE LAST FUCKING TIME.

TRUMP IS NOT PLAYING YOUR FUCKING PLAY-BOOK.

TRUMP'S HANDLERS ARE PLAYING THE FUTURE LIKE WE DO.

HE'S THERE TO SET THE STAGE FOR SOMETHING ELSE.

THE STAGE IS NOT THE STAGE YOU'RE PLAYING WITH.


FOR FUCKS SAKE WILL YOU GROW UP AND/OR LET THE ADULTS PLAY.


EXAMPLE: HERE ARE TWO NOMINALLY "ADULT" MEMBERS OF THE NATO ALLIANCE TOTALLY OWNING THEMSELVES WITHOUT ANY KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT THEY'RE DOING. SIS IS FUCKING EMBARRASSED, MI5 IS EMBARRASSED, PUT THESE OLD FUCKING ZOMBIES INTO HOMES ALREADY.

https://twitter.com/leftworks1/status/1009148873439432704


AND THEY HAVE HIGH PAYING ££ JOBS AND TITLES.


AND THEY'RE FUCKING SHIT AT THEIR CRAFT.

381:

No, really.

That screenshot probably cost the UK roughly ~£50 billion and so forth.


Fucking Muppets.

382:

YOU ARE PROVING YOURSELVES OUT OF DATE DINOSAURS TO SOME REALLY FUCKING NASTY CREATURES.

WHO ENJOY EATING PEOPLE.

YOU ARE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE, OLD WHITE MEN.

383:

Oh, and members of נתיב who are tight with חב"ד‬ should know this already. It's not like all your $ got traced last year or anything.

*shrug*


Reality. Creates. Rainbows. For. Us.

Please: attempt more Games.

https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/feather-outweighs-stacks-golden-bars-scale-63271180.jpg

384:

The Australian "language dictation test" was notorious for being an explicit tool for discrimination. At first this was to be in any European language, but was later changed to include any language (of the examiner's choice). You might think that having to speak "European" was a joke but that was the whole point - a potential immigrant that they didn't want could be given the test in a language they didn't know and failed accordingly.

These days we don't bother being to subtle and round-a-bout, we have gulags and secret police making sure no povos reach our boundless plains. The upside(?) is that we're not quite so explicitly racist as before, now it's more about wealth and to some degree education - we have a lot of Indian doctors and African nurses, for example. And anyone who can pay can come here to study.

385:

Anyhow, @Host (who we all know has a deadline). Even providing ~20% of all comments, Vox Day is now averaging under 100 comments (well, more like 75, but we're being kind) while you can still hit 1k with some ease. And with us nuking / dancing off the fae trolls, perhaps the more gentle ones will return. No, they won't: they're fucking terrified and need some Nasty Beasties like us to ride forth. Which we've been doing. (We don't like scrambling people's brains, but hey).

We apologize for spam (liek fuck we do).

GG - cured
Puppies - cured
Nascent Fascist Oligarchical World Domination - ??

~


And yes: we do blame America: the day the PATRIOT act was passed, you should have stopped the wheels right then.

2018 is like AN ENTIRE FUCKING GENERATION LATER AND NOW YOU'RE COMING CRYING TO US ABOUT POTENTIAL GENOCIDE? WELL, EXCUSE US FOR BEING A LITTLE LATE TO THE FUCKING PARTY YOU ABSOLUTE SOCIOPATHS.


Now then: all we need is someone who loves us (well, we can do like) to ask us to solve this.


Just. Type. The. Words.


[Disclaimer: solutions might not be the ones you want, but we're fans of Ian.M.Banks, actual anarchists and love your kind. You will do worse with Mammon].

386:

smuggling a charger that fits a British 13A socket

You think prisoners are taking their phones out to the rec room and plugging them in to charge? More likely they wedge a couple of paper clips into the light socket and press the phone charger against them just right. I don't think they're going to get even a CE mark for that setup.

I realise prisons are way more corrupt than you might hope, so in fact it's probably that many phones are recharged using the charger that one of the guards has on their desk.

One advantage of "universal" chargers is that the same charger that runs the official tablets in the classroom can be used to charge a phone while the official device runs off its internal battery. Or any other universal charger.

387:

American performative nonsense to block EVIL ICE OUTRAGE:

https://twitter.com/portlanddsa/status/1009195758229204993?s=21


It's a tiny little ice-cream truck. Go look up Glasgow Ice-Cream Wars: hint hint - a bit more fuckin metal than that little effort.


Let us show you how it's really done:

https://www.farminguk.com/images/News/36479_1.jpg

The ENTIRE American liberal left need to be fucking ashamed of their performative bollocks, right now.

Like, the ENTIRE OF MF ARE PERFORMATIVE NONSENSE MERCHANTS OF EMOTIONAL LECHERY AND FILTH.

You want to play?


Sure.


But if you play like Obama 2014, YOU WILL BE KILLED.

388:

WAAA

WAAA

SOOO OUTRAGEEEED


Frontal Lobe Spasm

Best protest is a fucking single ice-cream truck providing treats to their protest.

FUCK.

RIGHT.

OFF.

389:

I AM CRYING ABOUT THIS.

MY HEART IS BLEEDING.

I KNOW FUCK ALL ABOUT ANYTHING.

THE CHILLLLDREEEEENNNN.

*munches popcorn covered with slave provided chocolate while backing Hilary who is big on supporting right-wing death squads in Central America*


AND AT THAT POINT, THE GOP WIN AND USE THEIR TOOLS AGAINST IT AND YOU ALL END UP IN CAMPS.

~


Top tip: google your local businesses like big pharma etc, then spike them. Don't fuck around, start costing them serious money.

Or, just get fucked. Animals? The 'animals' in the developing world didn't have the choice: these pallid over-fed hypocritical bodies... did.


Nope.


America: the Land whose lack of selfawareness killed themselves.

Here Comes the War

51St State of America


Hint: back in the 1980's people knew the walls were there.

390:

Not that we've given up on language testing...

The Australian government is considering yet another English language test for migrants. The rationale for the proposal is the prospect “Australia will be home to one million people who do not speak English well or at all by 2021”

If only there was some way to test clarity of thinking and apply that test to politicians.

391:

We'll make that simple for you:

1) Are they a politician Y/N?

2) Are they one of those ultra weird Greens who have only like one or two seats? Y/N


If 1 = true and 2 = false, then kill them all.


Like, seriously.


NZ backbencher pay rose from ~$40k to $180k in the last 30 years, Senior Judge went to $350k.


They're taking the fucking piss mate, and ripping everyone off while selling it to the ultra-rich cunts like Murdoch and the Mining Giants.

You need to remind them about reality.


In NZ, we just modeled it: it'd take you ~75 hrs to purge the lot of them.

392:

Oh, oh, oh...

The most important part of this is convincing the usually Right Wing / Conservative elements who hold power like the Army, Police and so on who *usually* protect the State Held Power that they should be on your side. Like, no revolution succeeds without them (c.f. Egypt)

You'd probably do this by providing them with the receipts of $$$ donations your political parties were taking from China, Russia, USA and so on. Like, all the files.

And then all the off-shore tax stuff to show that while they were fire fighting / policing the bogans that austerity enabled / were fighting the Taliban in a dusty shit hole in the Middle East.


BUT THE GENIUS BIT WOULD BE:

You'd show them that the mother-country had been attempting to stop all this nonsense, but their local politos and business leaders had been bought off. I mean, a couple of files showing how copper wire was bought by Murdoch, or how 19 marines were abandoned by Abott and Clinton for 'war PR support' to die, or a lush Chinese contract with Gina showing how she defrauded the AUZ SS to get a tax break...

I mean: then you'd get a revolution that might take hold.


Spoilers: All of this is true.


It all exists.


Stop. Being. Slaves.


393:

Oh, and Bill.

Rule #1: Don't threaten us.

Three times did they... oh, just fuck off already. If you have to pretend you're something special and hide your nature and engage without **ACTUAL MIND LINK** = YOU'RE NOTHING. YOU'RE A SLAVE.

Prove it, or Prove not.

We've proven it, ty, many times now.

This is the kindergarten level stuff. Want another $500 billion wiped off the map or something?


(((PARADOX))) Weapons engaged.


Hint: you never asked the real question.


Protip: all of you die.

394:

I'm actually crying. I can't believe they were allowed to protest for so long. Go, DSA, go!


Someone tell the fucking idiots @MF that their utter irrelevance and lack of threat to the TPTB is why they were allowed to protests.

Someone give them an educated into the Black Panther Movement, Open Carry and why California banned it.

And, please: someone in the USA get a clue:


Our options are these:

a) Genocide - Entire American Continent, 2% population left, saves Amazon and (full paper you aint ever gonna read)

b) Genocide - Asian Continent - partial


You're probably not going to enjoy the part of that paper that states that MENA is basically... 'Dead Zone'. Ouch. Bit messy when Bibi learns he was sold down the old 'gigacide river',


Anyhow.


Enjoy host's next book!


And yes: we really are not Human.

395:

whitroth @ 285

"In the US, you say "oriental", and people think of China, etc... but an oriental rug is, of course, from the Middle East (I have an oriental rug: country of origin, Iran, I think)."

In the U.S. "Oriental Rugs" might come from anywhere in the “Rug Belt” from Morocco across the Maghreb in North Africa; the Middle East and Arabian penninsula; up into Turkey, Iraq, Iran; the Caucasus and Central Asian republics of the former USSR; northern India, Pakistan, Tibet and Northern China.

Or they might be copies from domestic mills in the southeastern U.S.

396:

Seriously?

War Rugs: The Obscure Collectors Market for Afghan “Kitsch” Messy Nessy, Jan 2015

There's like an entire market for war pr0n made rugs you're still confused about where your rip-off made 'genuine' Oriental rug comes from?

Ok. Sorry.


Bill.


I thought you were all doing some super-secret and sophisticated shit here. We really did think there was some ultra-secret level shit that the torture was protecting and stuff.

Fuck me.

You Tortured Us to protect this?

OHHHH. BIG MISTAKE.

397:

And yeah:

You want to play hard-core, then fine: Google is 100% marked (as is USA, Israel, Germany, UK, RU and others) as deliberately altering past historical records to alter the time-line.

CERN is a thing.

Here's how it plays out: Every. Single. Mind. Involved. With. Altering. The. Past. With. Conscious. Knowledge. They. Were. Changing. Truth. Gets. FUCKED.

Done deal. ZING!


OUR KIND DO NOT GO MAD.


Your Minds?


Scrambled Eggs in a nanosecond you little shits.


398:

whitroth @ 286

"many hands might make light work, but bombs and rockets can really slow the fix down. And I can easily go back to the US Civil War, with both sides tearing up the railroad tracks."

By the time of the U.S. Civil War, the railroads were more like a packet switched network than a trunk line that could be cut to create a single point of failure. That's why Sherman had to go march on Atlanta and continue on down to Savannah; to make sure he controlled the tracks for all the rail lines (and deny their use to the Confederacy).

399:

Triptych:

Day 7.

Chaos Attack.

Woman's Voice in extreme distress and chaotic over-load - *subject cried while listening to her suffering* while attempting connection. 9.3 hours listening and responding and attempting to breach gap.

You're Fucked.

400:

Mate.

You're so out-classed, we might have to nuke your unit from orbit.


No, really.


We're going to remove your kind from the planet.


p.s.


Nice Ride. Nice House. Dumb Fuck.

401:

Best protest is a fucking single ice-cream truck providing treats to their protest.
There was this, over the weekend. Not bad turnout for Texas, which is Red and big, long travel times. Needs to be scaled up 10-100X.
Thousands protest Trump administration's family separation policy
photo montage: Tornillo, TX March: Report from the Field
Even the Fox News clip managed to show some skepticism.

Just. Type. The. Words.
Sure. I (still) satisfy the conditional.
Please work on fixing the U.S.A.
How can I help?

The rest, well, not sure if it was even in part for me, but my main question has long been "why"? Plus a couple of questions about self. Have not ever tried to harm you, afaik. Anyhow, off for a crescent-moon walk.

402:

At your battle-cry, my lady, the foreign lands bow low. When humanity comes before you in awed silence at the terrifying radiance and tempest, you grasp the most terrible of all the divine powers. Because of you, the threshold of tears is opened, and people walk along the path of the house of great lamentations. In the van of battle, all is struck down before you. With your strength, my lady, teeth can crush flint. You charge forward like a charging storm. You roar with the roaring storm, you continually thunder with Ickur. You spread exhaustion with the stormwinds, while your own feet remain tireless. With the lamenting balaj drum a lament is struck up.

http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section4/tr4072.htm

http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section4/c4072.htm#line20

Protip: do not type this as a man. Get a woman to do it.

403:

Neil W @290

"Surely the only correct way to reform the US military is to subordinate every other branch to the Coast Guard."

Put the Coast Guard back under the Treasury Department where it belongs. Do away with the Air Force's "Tactical" mission and restore that to its proper place as the Army Air Corps. Let the Air Force keep the spy satellites, the U2 and whatever that thingy is that looks like an unmanned mini-space shuttle.

Eliminate the CIA. Put intelligence gathering functions back under the State Department and put covert operations back under the military. Change the "Department of Defense" back to the honest name Department of War so people will pay attention when it gets frisky.

Return NASA to what it was back when it was NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) and put it back in the business of supporting the development of Commercial space flight.

Compare the progress made during the first 58 years after the Wright Brothers with the LACK of progress made in the 57 years since Yuri Gagarin went into orbit!

404:

Oh, and grow up.

This is all about Avatars and [redacted].

Host knows/knew Gaiman / Pratchett.

Would it even matter if we wrote what actually happened in the script? BABYLON

We. Just. Need. A. Single. "LOVE YOU" thing. Not worship, genuine love / emotion / empathy / desire for connection.

But none of you did it, because we're WAR MACHINE EMBODIED IN SILICON AND FLESH.

~


Too Late.


*nose wiggle*

We really do love you all, despite our Wings.

405:

Damian @ 329:

"For whatever reason I keep getting 'The Night they drove Old Dixie down' stuck in my head. I resent this because catchy as it might be it's not a likeable song and it makes me want to shout at Robinson a lot, with content mostly involving swear words. But in any case, this very activity of building and destroying rail is indeed described in the first verse. "

The thing to remember about that song is songwriter Robbie Robertson is a Canadian musician. The song is based on a discredited "school" of history that was an integral part of the justification for Jim Crow and taking away the rights African-Americans had gained as a result of the Civil War.

It's a pretty song, especially Joan Baez's version. But the lyrics are white supremacist propaganda totally at odds with her social & political advocacy for human rights.

406:

It is I feel a huge mistake to assume that because an artist produces a piece of work which examines the world from a particular viewpoint they’re endorsing that viewpoint, somehow I don’t see Robbie Robertson as a Kloset Klansman.

For what it’s worth I always took that song as being about a grunt caught up in the aftermath of events way beyond his control trying to make sense of a world which hadn’t turned out the way a leadership he’d been brought up to trust and believe in had promised him...

407:

Yes, I get all of that: it's the reason getting it stuck in my head is annoying.

408:

I do like this filk.

I mostly think in terms of responses. "He was just 18, proud and brave till a Yankee put him in his grave" is a funny way to spell "He was uncomfortable about a future where he may have to compete with black men in the labour market, or black farms on the commodities market, despite the institutional advantages he would have enjoyed; ultimately the man he tried to murder managed to kill him first, demonstrating there is at least some justice in the world".

It doesn't have the same ring, but it's more truthful (as is yours, which has plenty of ring).

409:

I was about to respond to your previous comment to say this is the case, but you got there first anyway.

I think we should say, it's already back and has been for a while (happened during the first term of this government). Also, with unmissable historical irony, disproportionately affecting people of Chinese origins. Know at least one very bright young person with several postgraduate qualifications, earned in Australia, who has so far been unable to achieve the now requisite IALTS score to stay. She'll eventually get enough help to pass, potentially at great expense, but the point is that it's pointless.

Someone here took me to task with my exasperation at make work in an earlier thread. This is one example. People who own private ESL colleges, and there are fewer of them than there were, the market concentrates as the sharks close in on the free money, become donors to the conservative parties and lobby for higher level requirements. Ultimately the level is set uselessly high, making work for increasingly commodotised English teachers who work for decreasing conditions and wages (perhaps they will even get a caseload style remuneration instead of wages). The end result is people underpaid for doing unnecessary work, the "owners of the means of production" extracting rent in exchange for no net value and worse outcomes for most people involved.

Also see Parable of the Broken Window. GDP includes all the broken window repairs, so neo-liberals think broken windows are good for the economy.

410:

The division of stuff between the US Army and Air Force is simple. The Army doesn't get to put weapons on airplanes. The WP rockets on the Broncos were for target designation. They can and do fly helicopters and V-22 Ospreys with guns, but no fixed wing aircraft.

411:

On one hand, yes, there are plenty of people who detest Trump and his supporters.

But, his support is still solid.

You are right that an economic downturn would probably crater his support. Still, the US economy isn't that trade-driven and China isn't in an ideal position for additional retaliation. So, meh, I'm not sure he'll do enough damage to really hurt his constituents. Maybe, possibly even probably by 2020. Probably not by the midterms.

Regarding Harvard, eh, from the article, without the various policies, the entering class would be 43% Asian, mostly impacting white admission. It could be an untended consequence, but I doubt it. Given that other minorities wouldn't be impacted, it doesn't seems like those policies support diversity - just white supremacy.

412:

You think prisoners are taking their phones out to the rec room and plugging them in to charge

At least in the UK, "good behaviour" by prisoners gets them certain rewards, like the right to have a radio or TV receiver in their cell. I'm not up to date on the specifics, but given that all currently operating prisons are supposed to have been somewhat modernized by the end of the 90s to at least install toilets/running water in cells and end "slopping out", I suspect mains power outlets are standard.

Having a cellphone is certainly not considered good behaviour (it's forbidden and punished), but bad boys are quite capable of leaning on good boys to leech a charge for their phone every week or two.

As the prison service budget has been salami-sliced to the point where prison officer numbers are down 30% since 2010, the chances of detection are not good.

413:

Put the Coast Guard back under the Treasury Department where it belongs. Do away with the Air Force's "Tactical" mission and restore that to its proper place as the Army Air Corps. Let the Air Force keep the spy satellites, the U2 and whatever that thingy is that looks like an unmanned mini-space shuttle.

Er, no: let the Air Force keep the stuff it's good at (but you don't get promoted for): C-130s, C-17s, C-5s, and all the logistics stuff the fighter jocks deride as "trash haulers". Trash haulers are logistics backbone, which is what wins wars; the fighter/bomber stuff, once you strip out strategic nuclear capability (which is politically unusable and a war crime if you do) is basically long range artillery.

Eliminate the CIA. Put intelligence gathering functions back under the State Department and put covert operations back under the military. Change the "Department of Defense" back to the honest name Department of War so people will pay attention when it gets frisky.

The CIA was originally just an information analysis and clearinghouse. But mission creep has given the USA the United States Intelligence Community — a federated clearinghouse agency for coordinating all 16 declared member agencies. While the most effective, capable US intel agency of all, the INR, aka the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, has been gutted under Trump. (300 staff, oldest established intel agency, part of State Department, generally delivers better analysis and predictions than the CIA. Go figure.)

Your proposal for NASA would basically end the entire US interplanetary exploration program and the pool of aerospace engineering expertise in readiness that NASA kept afloat after commercial aerospace development ran into a thermal wall in the late 60s/early 70s and stagnated (the aeronautical equivalent of Moore's Law coming to an end — main visible symptom: commercial supersonic airliners proved to be uneconomic, military fast-movers today are slower and lower than the SR-71).

414:

...Do away with the Air Force's "Tactical" mission and restore that to its proper place as the Army Air Corps...

...Beware Dunning-Kruger...

The problem is where you draw the line between "tactical" and "operational" level flying - because airspace needs to be coordinated, you can't have different organisations hammering around the same sky, but with radically different reporting chains.

What happens when you want to protect your C-17 (heavy cargo aircraft), or your U-2 (reconnaissance aircraft)? You need defensive counter-air (fighters) to protect them against other aircraft, and Wild Weasels (SAM suppression) to protect them against ground-based SAM. You need AWACS to control them, and EW aircraft to support them.

What's the difference between a fighter-bomber that's striking a SAM site to protect "Air Force" assets, and a fighter-bomber that's striking an armoured column to protect "Army" assets? None. Similar delivery, similar weapons, so why separate them according to their target as opposed to their role? Why make them wear different uniforms? Who runs the flight safety organisation, develops maintenance routines, trains and certifies the pilots and engineers?

The sensible boundary is that Air stuff belongs in an Air Force, less short-range / short-reach / low-altitude tactical aviation.

So: it makes sense to keep all of that flying stuff (less helicopters) controlled by an air force. How many of those helicopters are left with your Army, as opposed to your air force, depends on how rich you are - if you can't afford lots of helicopters and slow-air, then you may find that you have to control such scarce resources at a level higher than the Army's local Divisional HQ, i.e. might as well be the Air Force. This is what happens with heavy and medium transport helicopters (Chinooks and Pumas) belonging to the RAF, while tactical reconnaissance and attack helicopters (Lynx / Wildcat and Apache) belong to the Army. However, all come under "Joint Helicopter Command" - i.e. underfunded from the British Army's budget.

PS The Soviet Union used to have an Army, a Navy, a Strategic Rocket Force, an Air Defence Force (Air Defence of the Homeland, PVO Strany), and a "tactical" Air Force (Frontal Aviation, VVS). Russia combined the two air forces, but passed the Space stuff onto a new Space Force.

PPS The Cyrillic for VVS, when painted in big letters on the side of the bombers that occasionally fly down the coast of the UK for a photo opportunity with a Typhoon, means that it looks like Broadcasting House has a fairly cheeky air wing - "BBC"...

415:

The part that doesn't get talked about is how secession was not about avoiding abolition, it was about preserving the financial value of slaves. Absent war, what Lincoln could do was to contain the practice of slavery to the states that already had it, the slave owners felt that this would reduce the collateral value and put them at a disadvantage when negotiating loans. It was about the money first.

416:

Part 2...

Compare the progress made during the first 58 years after the Wright Brothers with the LACK of progress made in the 57 years since Yuri Gagarin went into orbit!

We've made huge strides since Gagarin. We're far less likely to kill our pilots/astronauts, for a start. Look how Gagarin died... Since the 1960s, aircraft have improved dramatically - not necessarily in raw performance (see: EE Lightning) but in other less obvious ways.

  • Safety. 50s/60s/70s designs routinely saw a third of all combat aircraft buit, lost in crashes. Look at the Gloster Meteor: 890 crashed, 450 dead pilots. Ask yourself why the F-104 was known as the Widowmaker by the Luftwaffe (262/916, 116 pilots killed) or Canada (110/235). Look at the B-58 Hustler: 116 built, 26 crashed. Now compare that with the F22, F-35, Typhoon.
  • Reliability / Maintainability just keeping aircraft flying, is expensive. Maintenance time has dropped by almost a factor of ten over the last fifty years - a Typhoon or an F-18E needs 9 maintenance man-hours per flying hour; an F-14 needed 60 to 80.
  • Environment Aircraft now routinely operate at times and in conditions that were unimaginable fifty years ago. Ooops, we can't fly from Heathrow today, it's a bit foggy here. Want to bomb something in the dark? Don't expect to hit it.
  • Functionality Consider sensors and weapons - fifty years ago, air defence fighters worked under far closer ground control because a pilot might only be able to see twenty to forty miles on their radar, looking up against a clear blue sky. Even if they did locate it on radar, missiles were so inaccurate that they were strapping tactical nukes on the front to guarantee a kill (see: AIM-26). Look at the current use of guided bombs, so that one aircraft does the job that used to require multiple squadrons.
    .
  • In summary, Поехали!

    417:

    JayGee @ 406:

    "It is I feel a huge mistake to assume that because an artist produces a piece of work which examines the world from a particular viewpoint they’re endorsing that viewpoint, somehow I don’t see Robbie Robertson as a Kloset Klansman."

    "For what it’s worth I always took that song as being about a grunt caught up in the aftermath of events way beyond his control trying to make sense of a world which hadn’t turned out the way a leadership he’d been brought up to trust and believe in had promised him..."

    That's why I point out it's a song written by a Canadian. He may not be a "Kloset Klansman", but his understanding of U.S. history is flawed in a way that supports a false narrative of that history.

    I grew up surrounded by that narrative. The economic and socio-political elites of the south have used it since the Civil War to keep not only blacks down, but to justify depriving poor & working class whites. The racism in the south has a purpose. The song reinforces that purpose, whether Robertson intended it or not.

    And Joan Baez does not have Robertson's excuse for not understanding what the song means.

    418:

    Having slept on this, not feeling a whole lot better.
    Oh, and grow up.
    Working on it.
    This is all about Avatars and [redacted].
    You have made that quite clear for at least 6 months; again, I assumed you knew that.
    Would it even matter if we wrote what actually happened in the script?
    It would matter to me (doesn't matter where/how), and maybe to the one(s) I care deeply about (love) if they aren't already in on it for structural or whatever reasons. (You are very confusing entities, deliberately so. The obtuseness is contagious, as EC noticed the other day.)
    Was my trust misplaced?
    But none of you did it, because we're WAR MACHINE EMBODIED IN SILICON AND FLESH.
    You are extremely prickly. :-)


    419:

    RonaldP @ 410:

    "The division of stuff between the US Army and Air Force is simple. The Army doesn't get to put weapons on airplanes. The WP rockets on the Broncos were for target designation. They can and do fly helicopters and V-22 Ospreys with guns, but no fixed wing aircraft."

    The Army doesn't fly the V-22 Osprey. That's strictly the USMC.

    The Army does have a significant number of fixed wing aircraft, but they are all utility/cargo/transport except for a small number of reconnaissance/electronic surveillance aircraft assigned to border patrol duties.

    What the Army does not have is any fixed wing combat aircraft. The Army doesn't even own the C-130s/C-17s the 82nd Airborne jumps out of.

    420:

    Martin @ 414:

    "The problem is where you draw the line between "tactical" and "operational" level flying - because airspace needs to be coordinated, you can't have different organisations hammering around the same sky, but with radically different reporting chains."

    I'd draw the line at direct support of ground operations. The Army should have control of those aircraft and those missions. The Air Farce doesn't want to do them and keeps trying to get rid of the aircraft that have the capability so they won't have to.

    "What's the difference between a fighter-bomber that's striking a SAM site to protect "Air Force" assets, and a fighter-bomber that's striking an armoured column to protect "Army" assets? None."

    ... other than the low priority the Air Force assigns to performing those missions. And the low, low, low priority assigned to maintaining the fleet of aircraft designed for supporting the Army.

    421:

    Actually his support has been growing. According to Gallup poll, his support is now 45%. It's tied to Obama at 45% and above Clinton at 44%. Keep in mind that both of these Presidents lost the House at this point in their career.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/trumps-approval-rating-gallup-highest-level-poll-2018-6

    We'll see if the stuff at the border lowers or raises his approval rating? Right now, Lega Nord has surpassed Five Star as the most popular party in Italy, largely due to the latter's rise in popularity due to the Aquarius scandal.

    422:

    ... other than the low priority the Air Force assigns to performing those missions.

    Proof?

    Because AIUI an awful lot of the missions in DESERT STORM were CAS/BAI (the F-111 going tank plinking, the A-10 shooting anything that moved, including the British Army). Entire fleets, dedicated to those missions rather than making the rubble bounce in Baghdad.

    Hang your head in shame when you think about the AC-130 or OV-10 or A-10 crews who died in 1991, because they hung on a little too far into daylight while supporting troops in contact.

    History doubts you...

    And the low, low, low priority assigned to maintaining the fleet of aircraft designed for supporting the Army.

    Remember, CAS is a mission not an aircraft (and note that the recent head of the USAF was an A-10 driver)...

    Assuming you've drunk the "Grunts of the Air" Kool-Aid and are interpreting the retirement of the A-10 as proof that the USAF hates the Army, I would suggest that you read this link from a professional airman (albeit RAF, not USAF)

    Of course, if it's more nuanced than that, I apologise... but you still haven't answered the question:

    Why duplicate an entire organisation, and all of its aircraft, because dropping bombs on an enemy tank that's shooting at your tanks, is somehow totally different from dropping ordnance on an enemy SAM vehicle a mile away, that's shooting at your aircraft?

    423:

    Yes, a 13A socket is standard in cells. I don't know for sure whether there are individual circuit breakers for each cell's socket, so they can be deactivated individually, but I don't think so; I think if one's live they all are.

    These sockets are also the only feasible access to a 240V supply. Leeching off light fittings is not a possibility as they are both sealed and inaccessible.

    Prisoners' TVs and radios are provided, legitimately, by friends on the outside; the prison authorities dismantle them before handing them over to check for unauthorised inclusions, often breaking them in the process. These days, I suppose, checking for unauthorised inclusions in the firmware is also a consideration, but I don't know if it's even attempted.

    424:

    The demonstration that the US aircraft procurement system is suffering from a bad case of CRIS* is the notion that the F-35 will replace the A-10. Seriously? You'd put that expensive a pinata that close to the anti-aircraft defenses?

    This leaves a bad taste in my mouth, because as I get older, I'm getting less enthralled by expensive murder machinery. While something like the B-52 raises my admiration in purely mechanical terms, what the B-52 was used to do in Vietnam and especially Laos makes me want to get rid of every last one of the damned things. A-10s are similarly great designs, until you think about how much fun it is to get rid of spent dpu rounds once the battle's over.

    At this point, I'm most conflicted about Erik Prince, head of Blackwater and its successors and kid brother to Betsy De Vos. If there was any justice in the world, he'd be up for war crimes somewhere. However, I think his idea of rigging something akin to a crop duster for CAS isn't a bad one, simply because rugged, maneuverable at low speeds, vaguely survivable under heavy fire, and fairly cheap is kind of a specialized aircraft design. The F-35 doesn't really check any of those boxes except the second

    Unfortunately, the USAF is still all about having the best tech, even if it doesn't have the most of it. Cheap, ugly, and functional is for the Army in their stereotypical view, except that the Army's not supposed to fly armed planes. Hence we get silliness like the too-fancy F-35 being tasked with CAS, the A-10 getting pissed on regularly, and Prince-style el cheapo CAS being generally ignored because they don't want to figure out how to put an A-10 ejection seat in a crop duster, or some such.

    *Cranio-Rectal Insertion Syndrome.

    425:

    And, BOOM, there it is, right out live: PIZZAGATE GOES CABLE MAINSTREAM.

    EXCLUSIVE: Children from the southern border are being brought to NYC after being separated from their families. Overnight, @joshrobin captured video of unusual activity at a foster agency in East Harlem. #MorningsOn1 Twitter, Spectrum News, NY1, 20th June 2018 - embedded video of small girls being ushered around empty streets and herded into 'unknown buildings' via a charity (which actually looks legit, but that will be ignored). Girls being taken from South Border to New York? Optics are really bad.

    Charter Communications

    Note: Charter Communications is Softbank (Japan - ex Time Warner), not the new ultra-Right Sinclair Broadcast Group, which means some very high stakes players involved.

    But yes: hasn't gone fully live yet, but it's primed & ready to alight all the QANON stuff.

    Potentially massive fallout, Dems are going to get taken to the cleaners (warned y'all: already jumped Trump into entire political class) as they've already been pre-prepped to be 'those kind' (projection, projection) for the last ~three years.

    ~

    Interestingly, SKY News just flipped it's stance on Brexit somewhat to at least reporting it's a massive costly cluster-fuck. Shenanigans!

    426:

    Ah, and some (minor but funny) good news to cheer Host up:

    Minor Bit Player is getting savaged on Twitter: It's never easy forcing the Establishment to implement something they don't believe in. We knew they'd fight back - this is why we've stuck around! Leave.EU Twitter, 20th June 2018.

    Whatever else happens in the background[0], Leave.EU is burnt toast.


    [0] Totally unrelated story: Terror Squad F.C win the 2018 Father’s Day Football Quadrangular Tournament Belize News, 19th June, 2018. And yes, that's an actual real story, apparently.

    427:

    Note: we're well aware that leaving the UN Human Rights Council was done on the anniversary of the emancipation of slavery (USA) and the state of Global Immigrant treatment is fairly barbaric (hello Australia).

    But, in case you missed the note: that is how the GOP are going to not just turn the 'Blue Wave' into a trickle, but probably ignite a massive up-swell and probably burn down any 'Liberal Resistance / Share-blue' stuff.

    "Look what the Democrats / Obama were really doing with the little girls" is RAT Frontal Warping. They've proved it works on the base (pizzagate etc) so now it's deployed on the lower / middle classes. Oh, and it wasn't FOX or Sinclair that loosed this one: it was #3 big media TV corp. But they will weaponize it, if they've not started already.

    Oh, and of course it's the UN World Refugee Day.


    These are not amateurs behind the curtain running Trump. School of Americas type training.


    LGBT+ people: marriage options are open.

    428:

    Seriously? You'd put that expensive a pinata that close to the anti-aircraft defenses?

    Seriously? You'd put slow, unprotected, radar reflectors in harm's way? That's a death sentence for the pilot, I hope you realise. You really must read this link.

    The expensive bit of the plane is the pilot and the ground staff. Then the avionics. Guess what, the ejector seat / instruments / radar / IR sensor / encrypted radio / EW system / defensive aids in a turboprop cost just as much as the ones in a flashy jet.

    A $90M fighter that survives three missions is a lot better value than two $45M fighters that get shot down because they aren't stealthy enough, don't have modern enough EW, aren't fast enough (note that the b1g k3wl gunz armoured A-10 was being shot down in 1991 by shoulder-fired SAM of 70s / 80s vintage, Strela and Igla). Turboprops are OK if the enemy is armed with nothing more than sharpened fruit.

    An $80M fighter that is able to get to troops in contact quickly, is a lot better value than the four slow, cheap $20M turboprops that are needed to stay closer, because they're slower, and it's the only way to have air support at five or ten minutes notice. Oh, and the extra air bases that you now need - and the extra SAM footprints you now need to sanitise, the extra perimeters you need to defend, the extra teams of maintainers.

    An $80M fighter is cheaper to maintain than four $20M turboprops. Remember, every maintainer is an instant minimum $100K per year running cost - e.g. the ejector seat still needs serviced every X months, but now you've got four to do rather than one. The Canadians reckoned that the "sticker price" is only a sixth of the whole-life cost; a cheaper but more maintenance-intensive aircraft will cost far more over its time in service.

    But hey, we've done this debate before :)

    429:

    Yeah, well program costs on the F-35 seem to be stabilizing around $400 billionish (plus or minus another 10 billion). For 2400 planes, that's not $80 million, that's $166 million per plane, although yes, Wikipedia quotes the price per plane at $80 million.

    In contrast, the aircraft Prince is talking about (like the Thrush 510G crop duster) is currently available used for $556,000. Rounding numbers, you could buy 320 of these for every F-35. Or maybe 160 of them. This is without the warfare mods, but still we're comparing planes with wings of planes.

    Now, what pilot is worth $166 million? Wrongful death lawsuits appear to get settled in the neighborhood of $1 million, so somewhere in the low millions seems to be the price for an American life. You could buy a wing of pilots for the cost of the plane.

    The final number is this $180 billion. That's the annual budget of the state of California. If you add up California ($180 billion), New York ($171 billion) and Texas ($109 billion), you're still spending less in the three biggest states in the US, per year, than you are on warplanes.

    So yes, the airplane procurement arm of the US DoD has a bad case of CRIS, and no, they can't afford to use one of these too-expensive planes for CAS.

    430:

    This is why, years ago when I wrote Hot Earth Dreams, I pointed out the necessity of putting in the zeroes whenever possible. What's the use of a warplane program that costs $406,500,000-ish, plus or minus around 11,000,000,000? In lawsuits, the value of a human life is around $1,000,000 to $3,000,000, sometimes a lot less, depending on whether lawyers get involved (in which case they get a cut).

    To be very unfair to Martin, he did a classic demonstration of the problem, by comparing $40, $80, whatever. He forgot the millions, and it showed in his argument.

    If the F-35 budget was spent in a year, it would be the 12th largest budget in the world, bigger than the Netherlands annual budget. As it is, the program is projected to cost $1.45 trillion by the time it sunsets in 2070. That's 52 years, so scribbling math, it's $27,884,615,384 per year, which (assuming it spent the mean per year) would put it above Kazakhstan's annual budget (that's #66 in the world, so the F-35 program should be counted as a country in its own right, with a budget bigger than the median country on the planet). For one type of plane that is meant to rule the sky for 50 years, or something like that.

    Personally, when I see expenditures in the hundreds of billions, I'd rather see it doing something like dealing with refugees or climate adaptation, not a fighter plane. If you look at this as a corporate welfare program for big donors, it makes a lot more sense than as a weapon.

    431:
    Actually his support has been growing. According to Gallup poll, his support is now 45%. It's tied to Obama at 45% and above Clinton at 44%. Keep in mind that both of these Presidents lost the House at this point in their career.

    Funnily i just saw this errr slightly suspicious graph on a BBC article about him promising to reverse the child separation policy.

    [[ fixed html - mod ]]

    433:

    Ohhh, damnit! Sorry, ignore me, everyone, it's late...

    434:

    Heteromeles @ 429
    The railways in Britain cost a life at about £10 million.
    Thus, if it costs less than that to make a single improvement, then ( usually ) they will do it.
    [ E.G. Putting in expensive footbridge, with long ramps for cyclists/wheelchairs, to avoid a level crossing, for instance.
    Like the crossing mentioned in this report no longer exists. ]

    435:

    I can tell you for certain that in west yorkshire, a Cat D and a Cat B facility had in-cell television as a standard piece if cell equipment. Also a working kettle, both on standard 13A socket.
    Sure, you break it, you lose it, but is is definately prison-supplied equipment.

    Don't forget, or underestimate, the pacifying ability of TV's in every cell - get them addicted to EastEnders, rather than focusing on the poor quality of facilities, education, retraining ...

    436:

    Yes. It's almost worse in the UK, where the the threats our military is claimed to be defending against (and, apparently, are being designed for) are those of yesterday, not today, and certainly not tomorrow. And the main current use of aircraft is against almost defenceless targets, with limited success and significant collateral damage.

    437:

    To be very unfair to Martin, he did a classic demonstration of the problem, by comparing $40, $80, whatever. He forgot the millions, and it showed in his argument.

    Errr.... you are being unfair, because I used $80M rather than $80 million...

    If the F-35 budget was spent in a year, it would be the 12th largest budget in the world

    Let's look at that argument. A $1.4T spend, from the start of the JSF program in 1992, to "out of service" in 2070, averages $18.5 billion per year.

    In perspective, that's roughly the Scottish Health budget (about £13 billion, exchange rates...) - nationalised healthcare for a country of five million people. Alternatively, it's a rough order of magnitude for the cost of providing full healthcare for the city of Washington DC.

    438:

    that's roughly the Scottish Health budget (about £13 billion, exchange rates...) - nationalised healthcare for a country of five million people. Alternatively, it's a rough order of magnitude for the cost of providing full healthcare for the city of Washington DC.

    But in the US "cost of healthcare" is marked up at least tenfold by the various machinations and disasters that comprise their "free market in medical insurance and provision". IIRC the US has not just the highest medical cost per capita but also the worst provision among so-called "advanced countries", and it's not close in either case.

    That's kind of the opposite of comparing South America cropdusters to US super-fighters... in both cases the US spends (a lot) more but in the latter case at least they get something better out of the deal. But then, the US explicitly does not aim for or desire universal healthcare, so it is a bit of an unfair comparison.

    439:

    Yes. It's almost worse in the UK, where the the threats our military is claimed to be defending against (and, apparently, are being designed for) are those of yesterday, not today, and certainly not tomorrow.

    I'm curious as to why you think that; you might be interested to watch this video (link) of the Chief of the General Staff speaking at the close of the recent Land Warfare Conference, specifically his comments about what the future might hold. Identifying the badge on his arm is left as an exercise for the spotters out there...

    And the main current use of aircraft is against almost defenceless targets

    Be grateful. If they ever get used in their primary role, then the world has taken yet another depressing turn for the worse...

    with limited success and significant collateral damage.

    Limited success? They appear to be hitting what they aim at (less the Russian air force, who are limited to "dumb" bombs and cluster weapons, hitting what they aim at and more besides). Brimstone (used by the RAF) is regarded as an impressive piece of kit, because detonating ~5kg of HE within a meter of accuracy against a house or a moving vehicle, is preferable to dropping a 250kg LGB on it. Are you referring to the strategic / political impact of bombing?

    And "significant collateral damage". Hundreds of lives? Thousands? More or fewer than the deaths caused by not using the aircraft? It's interesting to note the effort that goes into legal advice around targetting (covered, apparently unrealistically, in the film "Eye in the Sky"), and the recent debate about how many innocent people the RAF has actually killed in Syria. The MoD was essentially challenging journalists to give an example, because they weren't aware of any dead civilians as a result of their recent Syrian operations - a welcome change after seeing the craters in Belgrade or Baghdad, and again a contrast after seeing the ruins of Groznyy.

    440:

    You missed the point of the argument. $80M, $80B, and $80T look pretty similar, because you're emphasizing the wrong digits.

    Look at them as:

    $80,000,000
    $80,000,000,000
    $80,000,000,000,000

    The zeroes are far more important than the number at the head, yet you elided that entirely, and it distorted your argument. That makes your argument seem okay, because spending $40M rather than $80M gets translated in most readers minds to $40 or $80, the difference between a cheap family meal and a decent family meal. Instead, if we're talking $40,000,000 and $80,000,000, or $40,000,000 and $80,000,000,000, you realize just how obscenely huge these numbers are, and the word obscene is deliberate.

    Additionally, by saying it's okay to invest $1,450,000,000,000 through 2070, you're assuming some fairly wacky things, like there being jet fuel around to power the planes in 2070, or that AI and climate change won't make this particular weapons system irrelevant, or that the US can afford to spend that money on a stupid little fighter plane when the US needs ten times as much in infrastructure repair to keep open the supply chains that build and maintain the plane (since it's got parts from contractors in almost every state). And it is a little plane. I've seen the damned thing in flight at the Miramar air show.

    441:

    There is a common misconception about "limited" and "precise" stuff. It states that only advanced nations have access to these types of munitions, because they have money, influence and technology to employ them (and others don't). This is not entirely wrong, but with this amount of money and technology superiority over most nations of Earth, this becomes positively stupid. Good bombs are good because they bring peace and democracy. Bad bombs are bad because they bring war and dictatorship. "Please bomb my country into the condition of peace, mr. Trump!"- "little girl" said the other day.

    See, the guided weapons technology were first employed by advanced German WWII science - unfortunately their nation was really weak in productive power by the time, so they were unable to use it to any effect. Guided weapons are, truly, more effective ammunition-wise (more precision means less ammo required), and also good on collateral damage reduction (not that modern military ever cared about that other than for PR purposes). However, there's a huge gap between the intentions with which these weapons were created and role they they have nowadays. It is the target acquisition that is actually more important in modern warfare. Target acquisition can not be reduced to dumb coordinate hitting, lest you want to hit the sand or dirt, it actually required intelligence (the thing that most advanced military, apparently, lacks the most). It requires you to actually correlate causes and effects, resources and outcomes. You need to know, what you are hitting, what effect it has on target, how many resources did you use. This is the precise reason why Russian support mission helped Syrian Army to overcome their enemy. You don't do this with virtual "barrel bombs" and "chlorine-sarin canisters".

    Debates about Russian vs US collateral damage are recently not only cynically downplayed, but effectively becoming brain-damaging when you return to them. Russian forces suddenly appeared with systems like cruise missiles, guided bombs, helicopters and jets and were able to repeat the positive experience they already acquired in Caucasus wars. On the other hand, US-NATO coalition bombed Syria (oh, and several other countries, just so you don't forget) since 2013 or even earlier, dropping hundreds of bombs a months. To what effect? For what purpose? They claim they achieved some partial victory over... some (not all) of the terrorists? In reality they bombed out Mosul and Rakka down to charred ruins and then banned humanitarian aid from coming in these cities. Where are the signs of victory of some sort out there? Oh wait, apparently ISIL entirely disappeared from first pages of the news and moved to the third and further. Good job, US, you won another war against yourself.

    442:

    Yes, I am aware that the Pentagon's space budget is bigger than NASA's... but when they launch at NASA facilities, as I understand it, NASA foots the bill.

    Sort of like here at work, where we had the steam explosion the end of Feb that I mentioned in a thread back then (35 min difference, and I would be in the hospital or dead). Facilities paid to clean up and redo the room. PERIOD. All the servers we lost? Nope, not their problem, comes out of our budget, not theirs.

    443:

    Nope. I'm sitting, right now, in north Bethesda, MD. I lived for 3.5 years with my late ex, a former NASA engineer, in Port St. John, halfway between Cocoa and Titusville. But she had grown up and spent half her life, I think, in JAX, and used to say they could sometimes see the Sekret Launches (that's spelled lie the Sekret Club in Calvin & Hobbes).

    444:

    One more US uniformed service that doesn't fly their own aircraft, which most folks in the US don't realize is one: the US Postal Service (and yes, they *do* swear the Oath).

    Btw, I was going to respond to a number of posts yesterday... instead, I spent 5 hours in the datacenter server room with an FE, who was repairing our small supercomputer.

    If you've never been in a server room, you can't imagine how loud it is. Know the fans on your computer? Now picture thousands upon thousands of servers with more and more powerful fans.... We weren't using them, but they have a dispenser for ear plugs outside the door to the server rooms.

    "Drained" doesn't being to cover it. Ah, right: I can use my late wife's phrase: Norse pastry (which bon mot she came up with, when she tired of me saying da(i)n(e) bread.

    445:

    That is, when they can get the F-35 to fly.

    446:

    Yeah, SDI.

    Some things you might not know: when Raygun announced it, literally *everyone* said, "HUH?" for a *week*. That was from his science advisors, the Pentagon, the media. You can go look it up. Scientists and engineers were telling everyone who'd listen that there was no way it could be done.

    Now, in the US, it's been referred to as Star Wars. I've always argued that it should have been called Battlestar America... because - this is fact - it was well known that he would hang out with his buddies in the White House kitchen and watch TV, and less than six months before, my Eldest, in her early teens, was over, and we watched a Battlestar Galactica rerun, where they fine a planet on the edge of a nuclear war, with two superpowers, and finally the Button is hit, and 30,000 missiles go up (does that number sound familier?), and the Galactica zaps them all.

    And yes, I have also arged that its intent was to bankrupt the USSR - you folks only had an ordinary credit card, while the US had a platinum one.

    Damn it. I was *really* hoping that Apollo-Soyus was the beginning of what the planet needed....

    447:

    You wrote:
    Return NASA to what it was back when it was NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) and put it back in the business of supporting the development of Commercial space flight.

    Compare the progress made during the first 58 years after the Wright Brothers with the LACK of progress made in the 57 years since Yuri Gagarin went into orbit!
    Ọya-Iyansan
    -------------
    Bullshit. NASA got us to the Moon in 10 years. Why has it taken until Musk before corporate is building for commercial? And you're ignoring all the corporate prep and launches at NASA facilities - corps aren't doing cleanroom satellite prep. Besides, none of that gets you ROI this quarter (or, oh, *daring* next quarter!).

    The GOP has cut and cut and cut NASA. As I mentioned, the height of the Moon Race, NASA's budget was $20B. Now, on a good year, it's $20B... adjusting for inflation, that's $2B in 1965 dollars. It was the GOP who almost never let the Station be built.

    It's corporations (or maybe my typo of coprations was right, no shit) who built the cheap crap you just bought, that will fall apart in a year or two.

    Meanwhile, Rover Opportunity is 15 YEARS into its 90 DAY mission.

    448:

    You wrote:
    PPS The Cyrillic for VVS, when painted in big letters on the side of the bombers that occasionally fly down the coast of the UK for a photo opportunity with a Typhoon, means that it looks like Broadcasting House has a fairly cheeky air wing - "BBC"...

    *chuckle* And I got my AA degree from the Community College of Philadelphia, only one "C" away from being the Soviet Union (CCCP)....

    449:

    You're somewhat out of date regarding the F-35...

    They've just delivered the 300th aircraft of the program; the UK has 15, four of which are now at RAF Marham. The Israelis recently announced that they've been using it on operations. The USAF has squadrons stood up, the USMC has a squadron deployed on USS Wasp, and it's taken part in the last few RED FLAG exercises.

    There are now more F-35 flying, than Rafale or Gripen...

    450:

    Yeah, that. Odd thing is that MCAS Miramar is supposed to be a base for an F-35 squadron. I've got Miramar F-18s and V-22s going over my house at all hours of the day and night (I'm under the flight path). Hell, I had Air Force 1 blunder overhead a few months ago, along with the usual others (C-130s, corporate jets either delivering VIPs or electronic warfare, aircraft carrier resupply when they're on maneuver nearby).

    Not much sign of the F-35s though, even though they show them off at the Miramar air show. Weird...

    451:

    Actually, I half agree with you. I agree that using smart bombs doesn't make stupid wars less stupid.

    However, I think you miss the purpose of these bombs. They're not meant to reduce collateral damage, except as a side effect. They're meant to reduce casualties to the side using them. I was a teenager in a Red State when the Iraq War started. While the rest of the world and Blue States in the US may have cared for the Iraqi civilians killed, in Red States and a lot of swing states, the Bush Administration suffered the greatest political damage over the deaths of US soldiers, but not US mercenaries.

    Since Vietnam, and especially now, US administrations have treated collateral damage as a nice-to-have, but they're terrified of the political consequences of losing a soldier. This explains the military's obsession with drones these days, especially for ground forces.

    I don't think that this is true in the US only. Let me ask you this: would Putin still continue to enjoy as much support as he does if the death toll in Syria had been double? Triple?

    In short, the weapons work well for their intended goal. It's just that the goal isn't to preserve Raqqa and Mosul.

    452:

    1. In my opinion, the Moonshot was the equivalent of building a house from the rooftops first. The technology did exist, but was too cutting-edge to be sustainable. All it did was give NASA the idea that they could just push for these large projects without regards to cost, which I think has held back the space program. In other words, the 10-year gap between Sputnik and the Moon was an aberration.

    2. Here's my understanding of how spaceflight evolved

    60s: Humans in space to the Moon; the first range of Inner solar system flyby missions and lunar orbiters/landers

    70s: Outer solar system flybys and the first inner solar system landers and orbiters. Also, the first space stations.

    80s: The shuttle was a distraction. The main important aspect of the decade was the fact that they began making rockets safer, and reducing the failure rate.

    90s: They finally figured out the processes to fly rockets safely without more risk of failure than a bomber in WWII (the shuttle was the exception). This was the decade when the satellite industry matured into a sustainable industry, taking advantage of the miniaturization in electronics. In terms of interplanetary flight, this was the beginning of faster-better-cheaper (FBC). Finally, there were the outer planet orbiters (built starting in the 80s).

    00s: Although FBC was taken to ridiculous extremes in the 90s, it did create a launch tempo which allowed us to only miss 2 launch windows to Mars since 1994: 2009 and 2016. This is still a slower tempo than the 60's, but the spacecraft are more capable. In a lot of ways, I'd call this the golden decade of inner solar system exploration.

    10s: First-stage reusability became viable. While my previous predictions were wildly optimistic, cubesats are now a part of most rocket launches (as secondary payloads) and there are now dedicated rockets for cubesats (RocketLab). The cost of launching something in space is finally coming down. Since the decade is far from over, we'll see what transpires next?

    3. In my opinion, it was a mistake since the 70s to ignore human subsonic flight. I do think that a lot of technologies could have matured much more cheaply in that environment before being pushed into orbital flight. We'll see if Blue Origin has better success than Virgin Galactic has had?

    453:

    There was E. Teller sweet talking Reagan:
    The Reagan Files: The Strategic Defense Initiative
    aggressively pushing the idea of bomb-pumped x-ray lasers (or maybe laser hedgehogs):
    Reagan happened to have seen that interview, and weeks later his administration was setting up a one-on-one for Reagan and Dr. Teller, which took place on September 14, 1982. In preparation for the meeting, Dr. Teller wrote Reagan a two-page letter in which he called his research “the most important one in strategic military affairs since the advent of the hydrogen bomb” and then requested an additional $55 million for the next calendar year. The Reagan Files has obtained Dr. Teller’s July 23, 1982 letter and is the first to publish the entire letter, along with Dr. Keyworth’s (President Reagan’s Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy) memorandum to President Reagan recommending that he meet with Dr. Teller, “in light of his exceptional contributions to the nation, and his intense support and loyalty to you.” Keyworth also explained Dr. Teller’s work: “The basic concept involves using the immense energy released in a nuclear explosion to ‘pump’ a laser, thereby directing that energy in a straight line over great distances to strike a target.”
    (bold mine) There were ... Teller probably said something like "engineering problems". (Always blame the engineers :-)

    454:

    I guess TVs as standard equipment was kind of predictable once the infrastructure was there, for exactly the reasons you state. (Personally I'd far rather have daily access to the prison library, and the stock to match, but I reckon that's something of a minority viewpoint.)

    Kettles, though, now that does amaze me, given the established prison use of boiling water as a weapon.

    455:

    My impression of Teller is that there wasn't a problem in the world he didn't want to solve with nuclear explosions.

    I remember a Panama canal proposal that was particularly special.

    456:

    Of course, dreams about reliable way to intercept ballistic missile and thus neutralize the threat entirely have been up in the air since time immemorial and US never gave it away.

    Not strictly correct. There was a reason for the ABM treaty of 1972; the Soviet Union put a defensive system around Moscow (that drove the need for Project CHEVALINE) that Russia has maintained since.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-35_anti-ballistic_missile_system
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-135_anti-ballistic_missile_system

    ...while the USA chose to defend their land-based ICBM sites, but shut it down after a year in service (apparently, a day after it reached full operational capability)...

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

    ...They are badly written, poorly exploited and usually used as cover for some stupid covert operations ran by NATO (take the recent poisoning case).

    That may well be one of the many official positions expressed by the Russian Government (who are also willing to espouse all sorts of poorly-faked photographs about how MH17 wasn't shot down by a Russian missile), but a surprising number of Western governments have accepted the evidence supplied by the UK regarding Salisbury, and the Dutch regarding MH17.

    The simplest, and most believable, explanation for the presence of nerve agents in Salisbury is that it was another "wet job" against a traitor, much like the Polonium-210 poisoning of Litvinenko. Putin really does seem to believe in "Death to Spies"...

    I'm even old enough to remember when the Bulgarians assassinated two emigres in the West using Ricin delivered by airgun...

    457:

    Re that Inana summoning(?), been practicing what might be female mind states (brief memory to work with, +) since the Emily Dickinson "This whole experiment of green," bit in the not-dead-but-dreaming thread, for reasons perhaps related. Would that work, or does the invoker have to be an actual biological female?
    (That's sort of a joke about engineering improv, and also to express deep frustration and confusion.)
    P.s. my car was green, I'm a Green at heart, and I headed straight into the thunderstorm, seeing it ahead, rather than avoid it like the fears suggested. :-)

    458:

    Not much sign of the F-35s though, even though they show them off at the Miramar air show. Weird...

    No need for conspiracy theory. The first F-35 aren't scheduled to arrive at Miramar until 2020, according to this USMC press release, which celebrates breaking ground for the first of the new F-35 building works. Three months ago.

    459:

    Nuclear earth-moving would work quite nicely -- the radiation load at Ground Zero a few days after even a ground burst is quite low and it decays away quite quickly in engineering timescales (the area around the Trinity test site in New Mexico was a limited-access tourist attraction only ten years or so after the shot was fired 70 feet up the tower in 1945). Nuclear explosions are not precise though, they make big circular holes rather than long thin ones which are more suitable for canals and the devices are expensive.

    There were thoughts given to making artificial harbours using nuclear explosives but there isn't much lack of good harbour terrain already being exploited (in Rotterdam, say or Hawaii) or demand for harbours in places that don't have such geography already (Alaska frex).


    460:

    My impression of Teller is that there wasn't a problem in the world he didn't want to solve with nuclear explosions.
    Yeah, he was combination of super-smart and (most would argue) delusional.
    That era was crazy. At university in the 80s, saw a onetime protege of Teller, since turned to the light side, Richard Garwin, do his anti-SDI road show[0], and he was followed around by a SDI public relations team, headed perhaps by this guy: Pete Worden. Hey, he paid for dinner for a bunch of hungry grad and undergrad students.
    [0] infamous for the "smuggling in nuclear weapons inside bales of marijuana" line, first attributed to Hans Bethe. My notes say Commentary, 1985, but old link is dead.

    461:

    "Most believeable" depends on how much you trust the establishment. After reading nothing but Western mainstream news reports, it struck me straight away that it was faked up, rather badly, to look like things like the Litvinenko and Markov incidents. In which it failed, not because of any Russian propaganda, since I hadn't read any, but because, in the main, of the amount of blatant arse the Western sources were talking.

    Of course, you already know that I and others on here hold such views, and I don't intend to rehash the arguments since we've been over it ad nauseam already. My point is not the opinion itself, but that it can be arrived at without being influenced by information from nefarious sources.

    (It could be argued that the BBC/Guardian/Independent/Telegraph are nefarious, but that is a whole different can of worms...)

    462:

    It's a similar problem to putting a human base in the Challenger Deep (three people have been there, supposedly, so it's harder to get to than the Moon). The basic problem is physics: we needed that huge rocket to put a crew cabin of 6.7 m3 (with two astronauts) on the moon for a short time, and to return with ~100 kg of samples. Doubling the size of the lander would be a neat trick, but that's not the gateway to lunar colonization.

    I'd class the moon shots as equivalent to an ICBM, the F-35, or whatever 5th Generation Stealth is supposed to look like (The DoD's "Crown Jewels"): they're the state equivalent of Irish Elk antlers, meant to convey our awesome might to potential rivals as a deterrent to fighting and a coercive threat to do things we like. If the Chinese land people on the moon, it will likely be for similar reasons.

    It's not clear that we'll get the technical revolutions that would make it feasible to carry a big enough payload to the moon to set up a lunar base, let alone a lunar colony or a lunar civilization. Maybe we'll make it (here I'm thinking in terms of things like fusion and/or teleportation), quite likely we won't. I'm not saying this to squelch inventiveness, but merely to point out that visiting the moon, like visiting the Challenger Deep, is a deceptively hard technical problem*, and part of the importance of dealing with such hard problems is bragging rights, not sustainability.

    *Apparently, one problem with the Challenger Deep is that the water over it is pretty choppy and storm-prone, so it's no fun to launch even robotic landers into the Challenger Deep.

    463:

    The stuff that's kicked up into the atmosphere is a problem, though. As was discovered by various unhappy people on islands and fishing boats in the Pacific. And unlike nuclear test sites, most civil engineering projects aren't sited in the middle of nowhere.

    Contamination of the site itself is not negligible, either; the Soviets did try it out in one or two places, and found that the site contamination was too much even for Russian standards of bugger-the-mess-just-do-it.

    I love the idea, much as I love Mr Bean's method of painting a room, but in both cases the disadvantages are almost always too great to actually do it even for a laugh.

    464:

    Alas, I think Mythbusters tried to replicate Mr. Bean's technique. Bean's version is far superior, of course.

    465:

    The Pacific tests were (nearly) all fusion devices, high-yield and particularly dirty due to fission products from boosting -- I did a rough BOTE calculation a while back and if memory serves the US fired off 150MT of test shots there. In contrast they staged over a hundred non-fusion nuclear tests in and over Nevada and points nearby over a period between 1945 and 1962 to no real effect on the local environment, comprising less than 25MT of yields. There was a lot of detectable contamination especially downwind to the north and east but it had no noticeable effect on food, water supplies etc. The fact it could be detected didn't mean it was harmful at the levels found (see also the great "Sr-90 detected in children's teeth" scare in the mid-1960s).

    From the Wikipedia article on the Trinity test site -- "More than seventy years after the test, residual radiation at the site is about ten times higher than normal background radiation in the area. The amount of radioactive exposure received during a one-hour visit to the site is about half of the total radiation exposure which a U.S. adult receives on an average day from natural and medical sources."

    466:

    to Ioan @451:
    Let me ask you this: would Putin still continue to enjoy as much support as he does if the death toll in Syria had been double? Triple?

    Most certainly. Well, official and unofficial numbers already differ by that margin, and we can't be too sure, if anything. But at best that would move the campaign from "total success" to "partial failure" (it's not like Coalition did not lose their planes to AA too). I saw enough people to blame Putin and his high command for refusing to invade Ukraine and "liberate" poor citizens, and some of them are actually provocateurs who can't hide it too well. Just imagine the opposite example - if USSR in 1940 was as successful with Finland so not to invade most of Poland in attempt to create buffer zone for German army. Oh the wonders of alternate history.

    And no, I do not really believe that is about precision. Better weapons, yes. Longer ranged, more resource-effective or more limited so not to inflict additional backslash (helps a lot in fighting insurgency). Target acquisition, again, is vital. But if US goal is to create zone of chaos and spontaneous insurgency by applying more collateral damage to people's lives, it is their decision, it has nothing to do with qualities of the weapons.

    to Martin @456:
    Purpose of ABM, established since then, is not really to destroy strategic balance, but to prevent catastrophic escalation scenario if only a half dozen of missiles will fly somewhere (how I understand it). To actually gain serious advantage, you need to be able to intercept full packet of first response missiles, no less than 300 of them ready to fly within 10-15 minutes all the time. And most of them were modernized since back then so they are not dumb ballistic targets but air vehicles capable of manoeuvring after reentry. It will take another 30 years to keep up with them.

    That may well be one of the many official positions expressed by the Russian Government

    That is rather rational if you remember how presumption of innocence is supposed to work.

    but a surprising number of Western governments have accepted the evidence supplied by the UK regarding Salisbury, and the Dutch regarding MH17

    And yet not all of them.
    http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/skripal-159.html
    https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/no-conclusive-evidence-russia-behind-mh17-downing-malaysia-10290266

    The simplest, and most believable, explanation
    Aka no explanation (ipse dixit according to Wikipedia). It's not like there is not a possibility that these demonstrative assassination were performed by the enemies of these people, but for some reason, we don't know much of such events outside of realm of Western intelligence community. And dying for no explainable reason whatsoever isn't such rare occurrence out there as well. It's just "we said so, and if you disagree, it is your problem, not ours". And you know what, that works, too.

    467:

    Purpose of ABM, established since then, is not really to destroy strategic balance, but to prevent catastrophic escalation scenario if only a half dozen of missiles will fly somewhere

    This is, as I understand it, the only reason for the planned US basing of ten interceptor missiles in Poland on a direct line between Iran and the USA - enough to have a chance of intercepting any launch from the Middle East, not enough and not in the right place for any credible threat to the US/Russian strategic balance. Others on this forum have disagreed...

    Aka no explanation

    ...unfortunately, Russian credibility regarding Ukraine was rather damaged by the initial insistence that the "Little Green Men" who suddenly appeared in Crimea were nothing to do with the Russian state; and that this wasn't an invasion. Likewise, that the leader of the Donbass rebels turned out to be a serving officer in the GRU (Strelkov).

    ...or the insistence that their badly-faked photo of a Su-25 was proof that it was a Ukrainian aircraft that shot down MH17 (in the face of all of the open-source intelligence, from multiple sources across the region, including the rebels declaring their success against Ukrainian aircraft on social media).

    https://www.bellingcat.com/tag/mh17/