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Whoops Apocalypse!

Whoops Apocalypse was a six part 1982 TV sitcom that aired in the UK during a particularly dark part of the cold war. It purported to document the last few weeks leading up to the nuclear apocalypse, and starred such luminaries as John Cleese and Barry Morse: it's available on DVD here. It features a chaotic and increasingly unstable global political situation in which nuclear alerts are accidentally triggered by malfunctioning Space Invaders machines; the naive and highly unpopular Republican U.S. President Johnny Cyclops is advised by an insane right-wing fundamentalist security advisor, called The Deacon, who claims to have a direct hotline to God. And the Shah of Iran is locked in the toilet of a cross-channel ferry. (Bits cribbed from Wikipedia because my memory is weak after all these years.)

Anyway, here are my notes towards a Brexit specific re-make of Whoops Apocalypse.

  1. Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister. Johnson is arguably the most unsuitable PM since 1832, if not before: here's another journalist's take on his wholly evitable rise. (The problem is, the next PM is the leader of the Conservative Party, and will be voted on by roughly 130,000 elderly Conservative party members: average age 72, by some estimates.)

  2. A prorogued parliament or a minority government ensues as saner ministers resign in protest—but there are not enough votes to sustain a motion of no confidence, because even the anti-Brexit Tory back benches vote in lockstep to avoid a snap general election: they fear losing their jobs in a massive backlash/protest vote more than they fear the consequences of clinging to power at all costs.

  3. The British economy continues its slide into recession as BoJo assumes he can cut Ireland out of the EU flock and bully Varadkar into submission: this works about as well as you might expect. The fact that Irish and other EU politicians read and speak English and are familiar with English cultural touchstones seems to have eluded the Brexiteers: but it means that they can't say one thing to their followers and another to the guys across the negiating table without being seen as transparently mendacious. Also, when an Eton-educated idiot evokes the wartime spirit in front of an Irishman, they're more likely to think of the Easter Rising and the Irish War of Independence (centenary ahoy!) than of the second world war. So: adoption of bullying rhetoric by a politically tone-deaf PM and dirigiste English nationalist negotiating team will be followed by Ireland doing a very effective imitation of a pissed-off mule, meanwhile holding the UK economy to ransom.

  4. President Macron of France sees Brexit as a problem to be solved as fast as possible, and issues an ultimatum over half-hearted requests to extend the October 31st deadline: "shit or get off the pot." Boris hears him and shits his pants (a deadline extension so close to his arrival in 10 Downing Street will fatally undermine his authortiy with the hardliners). There is then a run on the pound, which hits dollar parity, as the UK slides towards an uncontrollable Brexit with no transitional agreement in place and without any preparations and emergency plans (which were geared up for a March Brexit, then put on ice, at great expense).

Importing chemical supplies vital for ensuring that drinking water is safe is only assigned to the fifth priority level in the no deal emergency import ladder. Food? Forget about it ... until the shelves in Tesco and ASDA run bare due to panic stockpiling and are no longer re-filled, and hunger marches and demonstrations begin. Which rapidly escalate because the Home Office response is based on contingency plans for containing a re-run of the 2011 England riots, which presuppose 50% higher policing budgets and a much smaller hard-core of rioters. Back then it was blamed on economic decline and austerity, the effects of which were unevenly distributed: this time, it's fear of starvation, which affects everyone.

  1. Wild Card #1: War with Iran breaks out. The blame can be laid squarely on the shoulders of John Bolton, Trump's national security advisor, and on Trump's deteriorating mental condition: perhaps Trump decides it's time to wag the dog in the run-up to his re-election campaign.

In the UK, BoJo has awarded loyal, dimwitted, no-deal Brexiteer Ian Duncan Smith with the post of Defense Secretary in the Clown Car Cabinet. To say he's no Paddy Ashdown, or even an Anthony Eden, would be redundant. IDS is a former Guards cavalry officer, with no feel for Naval affairs: he decides to send the Royal Navy's shiny new (and underequipped) aircraft carrier) to the Gulf, along with a couple of Astute-class hunter-killers (because obviously bigger is better, and why would operating in shallow, restricted straits be a problem for the biggest and best blue-water nuclear submarines?).

HMS Queen Elizabeth hits a mine (or is nailed by a midget sub) and badly damaged. Alternatively, an Astute-class SSN is forced to surface and evacuate before sinking: surviving crew are captured by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Despite tabloid hysteria, there are no subsequent islamist terror attacks in the UK. However, British miltary advisors and diplomats throughout the Middle East come under attack by shi'ite irregulars who interpret the UK's bumbling in the Straits of Hormuz as proof that the UK is overtly allying itself with Saudi Arabia. One or more embassies is blown up, one or more tourists or diplomats is kidnapped and held hostage. (Probably in Iraq, Yemen, or Lebanon.)

  1. Wild Card #2: "London Bridge is down"—or is it just blocked? In the middle of this superposition of crises constitutional, military, economic, and civic, HM the Queen has a massive stroke and ends up in hospital on life support, in much the same state as Ariel Sharon. She's 92 years old, and despite being in relatively good health the stress of the past three years has taken its toll. The decision is eventually taken to switch off her life support once arrangements for two weeks of national mourning in the run-up to a state funeral have been put in place, in the middle of food riots and other emergencies.

Prince Charles, desperate to avoid being crowned King (he prefers to stay in his greenhouse communing with his vegetable patch) contemplates certain legal immunities available to him in his capacity as Duke of Cornwall, which will be lost the instant his mother officially dies. Will he, won't he, will he, order a nuclear strike on the UK, just to put an end to the misery ...?

Tune in for next week's thrilling conclusion to "Whoops Apocalypse: Brexit Edition"!

I could keep spinning this out—there are plausible timelines from here leading to the breakup of the UK before April 1st, 2020, mostly via a snap general election followed by election of a Brexit Party led ultra-right-wing coalition—but I'd rather not go there. Wisely, the original "Whoops Apocalypse" ended with the nuclear bomb dropping: it didn't continue and turn into Threads.

But the UK as a whole (not just Scotland!) is now entering a political singularity where our circumstances even three months hence are utterly unpredictable. And satire is no longer up to the job of shining a light into the darkness ahead ...

1267 Comments

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1:

At least if the planet keeps warming, even with the pound sinking you should be able to afford staying warm this coming winter.

The next is a different story.

2:

This is rather worrying in as much as your predictions usually tend to be on the conservative side... It seems to me that brexit and the related kerfuffle is the articulation of striving to an ineffable goal and knowing how well those usually turn out, I am somewhat disquieted that Boris has gone explicitly religious with his appeal to faith in the goal as a sensible means of achieving the goal. Is it time for a shiny New Management, I wonder. Will the legions of Granbretan storm through the Channel tunnel to lay waste the Continent, their success assured by the invocation of the Gods Chirshil though perhaps not Aral Vilsn (who I once saw buying a bottle of gin in Victoria Street).

3:

For those who haven't seen the miniseries or film, it includes one of the more grounded responses to economic problems:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBHHFnUqo5o

4:

Whoops Apcalypse was a favourite of my teenage years. So much good writing. I particularly fondly remember the scene with the new Labour government re-reading their first cabinet minutes from the back of a cigarette packet (nationalize everything and massively expand social spending, to be paid for by cancelling Trident, scrapping the Civil List and closing down the Daily Telegraph) and then wondering “how did the other governments make it last so long?”

But while it was wholly inferior to the TV series, I think the film adaptation a few years later is more apposite to our times; it starred Peter Cook as an insane Tory PM handing out Union Jack umbrellas that would protect people from nuclear blast and fallout if they just believed in Britain strongly enough. Which seems to be pretty much the Brexiteers’ whole plan for coping with the economic consequences from crashing out of the EU.

5:

Johnson is arguably the most unsuitable PM since 1832, if not before...

For a moment I thought you were being very rude to Earl Grey. (Great Reform Act, Abolition of Slavery, had a blend of tea named after him).

6:

I'm sure many other readers will have seen the recent Russell T Davies drama Years and Years, which was rather dark in tone, and explored a near future that got incrementally worse.

It's actually quite an achievement that considering the current situation, it managed to portray a future that was actually worse without a full-on apocalypse.

7:

The Threads continuation:

1. no-deal Brexit on Haloween leads to the Haloween Crisis and food riots by mid-November. The EU, with no desire to see Britain on fire, offers Boris a retroactive extension and a variant of May's deal complete with Northern Irish backstop, and he gratefully accepts it, pitching it to the nation as "plucky British blitz spirit saves the day".

2. Food riots are replaced by English Nationalist riots because of the PM's "stab in England's back". Farage's Brexit party lights its afterburners and begins active campaigning for the impending general election.

3. The government collapses in a vote of no confidence by early November: an election is called for late February 2020.

4. Support for independence from the UK in Scotland—45% in 2014, rising to 49% post-Brexit referendum—rose to 53% under PM Johnson. With the food riots, it's now risen to a consistent 55-60%. Replacing food riots with English far right riots has not helped the situation: a narrow Scottish majority for independence seems to be the post-Brexit new normal.

5. The general election results in a massive upset. The largest single party is the Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage, followed by the Liberal Democrats (pro-EU), followed by the Conservatives and Labour. New power blocs align, and Prime Minister Farage is granted his audience with the monarch and asked to form a new government in coalition with those Conservatives who are willing to hold their nose and follow the out-of-the-closet fascist.

6. Farage gloats and announces that he intends to roll back devolution. (This is one of the Brexit party's not-very-well-publicised policies.) He announces a forthcoming Sovereignty Restoration Bill to include restoration of direct rule in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as part of his government's first session. (Note: there are zero Conservative or BXP MPs in Scotland or Northern Ireland, and only one Tory MP in Wales.)

7. It takes time to put a new law through the mechanisms of parliament. The day after Farage's "taking back sovereignty" speech, the Scottish First Minister calls a snap election, on a manifesto of "if re-elected, we will hold a referendum on independence". Very quietly, they also apply to the Scottish Supreme Court to find that Boris Johnson's "raise national insurance payments throughout the UK and use them to cut tax on high earners in England" gambit has violated the Act of Union (1707) guarantee that taxation will be uniform between the kingdoms, and that the AoU is thereby terminated. The SNP also put in place provisions for consultative referenda using Henry VIII powers back in mid-2019, and authorize the printing of ballots and preparations for the referendum even before Holyrood is dissolved.

8. Dueling deadlines: the Brexit party in Westminster tries to rush the Sovereignty bill, but discovers that 20 years of divergent legislation means there is a lot of detail work to unwind before they can grab control over Scottish legislation. The general election in Scotland meanwhile rumbles on for 12 weeks before delivering a landslide SNP majority government (Labour and Conservative support plummets because of Brexit; the LibDems hold stable in their strongholds). The new SNP government green-lights the referendum at very short notice, pointing out that it's been debated interminably since 2012.

9. In a snap referendum in late April 2020, Scotland votes to leave the UK by a 58/42 majority. The very next week the Brexit Party government declares that Scotland doesn't have a parliament any more. Holyrood disagrees, and petitions Brussels for emergency readmission to the EU, and diplomatic recognition.

10. Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, from mid-November onwards the New IRA have been taking over border checkpoints, driving out the Police Sotland and Border Agency staff, and waving traffic through unimpeded. This makes them popular, for a while, until the UVF and UFF begin to reform and start kneecapping republicans, and things begin to spiral.

11. Farage demands that the Army should Do Something. The army doesn't have the personnel. So he orders the army to open their armouries to the UVF, and ships a bunch of Britain First irregulars over.

12. At the same time, Scottish Defense League (SDL) rioters start showing up in Glasgow and Edinburgh (note: the SDL is basically the EDL, complete with Flag of St George, raising trouble north of the border—this is a real thing here). This time they're breaking heads and shouting "Britain First! Scotland is British!".

13. The conflagration spreads, and by July the first waves of refugees are on the move ...

8:

I did not see it, but can add the following:

Davis (as Chancellor) drops tariffs on imports, as promised, and reduces the top rate of income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and fuel duty to please his and Bozo's core supporters. He does not make more cuts, relying on the Brexit boost and the expected boom to solve the problem; when that fails, and the internal promissory notes bounce like flubber, he takes the temporary expedient of printing money. You know where it goes from there ....

9:

Whoops Apocalypse was one of my favourites as a teenager too. Along with Blackadder, which reminds me: Satire can always shine a light on the past... though really the past is like SF, somewhere sufficiently distant to play our the moral dramas of the day without getting arrested, or sued or both.

10:

Davis announces subsidies to UK farmers (well, the big ones) to compensate for their loss of sales due to tariff-free imports; the WTO point out that such subsidies are not allowed under their rules; the UK and US leave the WTO and form the America First free trade zone.

11:

14. China's already-announced ban on combustion-powered private vehicles is for 2025; there's an announcement that due to the new battery technology just now publicly displayed, the ban is moving up to 2023. The Carbon Bubble pops rather more abruptly than planned. (You damn betcha all the money-manager-minions of those with their wealth in tax havens planned.)

Various Saudi princes and Russian oligarchs and even less pleasant persons find out that gold is useless (it's full of tungsten); the USD is useless (the Trump administration has responded to the crisis by declaring the US gold-backed at 20 USD/troy ounce, as God and the Founders intended); and the graph of the pound's value resembles the outline of the bag containing six weasels on powerful stimulants. Europe's money laundering laws may or may not be effective but they sure are making transactions slow.

Dirt, though, dirt is inherently valuable. We can get our money back in dirt. Nice, safe, English countryside agricultural dirt with inherent value from its productivity. PM Farage, who is generally entirely fine with the less pleasant persons, doesn't have time to pivot away from strong anti-foreign-ownership rhetoric meant for the EU; especially among the younger, active members of his party, they sincerely believe it. The attempts to take possession of tracts of land dissolve into complete chaos, as no one is sure who will shoot, can shoot, or is shooting at who over what. No one is real sure what the Britain First sorts got out of the armouries. (Someone in the Army may have a good idea of what is missing.) The Army appeals to Prince William for an Order in Council so it can start recruiting. You can only have so many constitutional crises at once; that one gets told to wait in line.

Various Scottish Peers get together. Everyone looks at the Duke of Atholl.

12:

There is then a run on the pound, which hits dollar parity,
Oh do come on ... down to 25 US cents is much more likely.

Charlie @ 7
NOT GOING TO HAPPEN
There will be a general election before 31st October this year, because BoJo is going to lose a vote of confidence - because at least FOUR tory MP's will have defected to the Lem0crats
Bets as to largets party?
Could be Liebout if fuckwit Corbyn gets off hois pot & backs remain ( Ecxept I suspect he won't because he's a wanker )
Lem0crats?
Certainky not Brexit-party

13:

Minor nitpick - IDS was Scots Guards, they haven’t had tanks (ie. Cavalry) since WW2. So, “Guards”.

Second, do the SAS get a tiger again? (Rik Mayall leading his doorkickers has been an often-used clip within the Army).

But “opening the Armouries” is thankfully less likely. The Army is more centrist than caricature has it; and more likely to start listening to Buck House rather than Downing Street in the case of political extremism. I think you’d find a Very British Coup more likely than Whoops, Apocalypse.

Jus so long as we can keep Admirals away from stage hypnotists, that is...;)

14:

No one is real sure what the Britain First sorts got out of the armouries.

Note: Britain First are real extremists—they're to the right of the English Defense League—but they're not outright illegal. For that I refer you to National Action, membership of which is illegal—it's a proscribed organization under the Terrorism Act, being identarian white supremacist terrorists associated with the guy who assassinated Jo Cox MP.

Problem is, when you drive them underground they're hard to track down: my money is on NA cells being embedded in BF, and using BF for recruiting.

If Farage is dumb enough to try to use Britain First as freikorps headbangers, he'll end up arming National Action terror cells by default. Assuming he doesn't see NA as the cadre to base his own version of the SS on …

See also NA sock-puppets Scottish Dawn and NS131 (National Socialist Anti-Capitalist Action) — both also proscribed.

15:

Dearie me, you mean that you actually think that the people whom the top-levels of income tax are paying that tax?

It is actually quite nice to be reminded that non-cynics do still exist.

However, I rather think that if the stupidly-high tax rates are abolished, then a similar effect to that seen in Thatcher's time in power will be seen. Once it isn't worth dodging a tax any more, people stop dodging the lower rate tax and the total take goes up. Partly because of that, and partly because if one is contracting an accountant to dodge one tax, one also gets the accountant to dodge as many other taxes as possible.

16:

NOT GOING TO HAPPEN

My scenario assumes that a no-deal Brexit under BoJo happens because the no confidence vote in August is botched, because MPs don't want to lose their seats, and everyone is standing around hoping that the horse learns to sing in time to save them.

I hope I'm wrong and you're right, but I don't think so.

17:

if the stupidly-high tax rates

What stupidly-high tax rate?!?

The upper rate of income tax is 40% in the UK, same as in the US: there's a 45% marginal band over about US $200,000/year, but in practice if you can earn that much you can employ decent accounts/wealth management consultants to avoid it (legally).

When you add in compulsory non-governmental revenue extraction, like US health insurance costs, we in the UK pay out less money than you in the US; slightly higher tax, but no need for health insurance.

The real problem is enforcement.

HMRC has lost about 30-50% of their staff over the past decade, and revenue enforcement is disporportionately aimed at benefit claimants (via the DSS) rather than at corporate tax avoidance (which accounts for 2-3 orders of magnitude greater revenue losses). HMRC istruggles to deal even with illegal evasion these days, as witness the craptastic rise and too-long-deferred fall of carousel VAT fraud.

18:

Yes. Reducing the 40% or increasing the threshhold would reduce revenue by taxing people like me (who just gets there) less - and my sort of income band pays a lot of the indirect tax in the UK. While I could go in for, er, aggressive tax avoidance, I can't be arsed - and I wouldn't suffer if I were taxed a bit more. The rates in the 1960s were stupidly high, at over 90% (and, in one extreme case, over 100%), but aren't today. Capital gains tax should go back to the top rate of income tax, as HMRC said it should, pronto, of course - but the real issues are where you say.

19:

#7 - That ignores the multiple other times that the Palace of Oathbreakers have violated the Treaty of Union Between Scotland and England, going back to 1708CE.

20:

The other possibility is that Bozo gets No Deal simply by obfuscation, prevarication and evasion - after all, even if Parliament passes a bill requiring him to cancel article 50, he could say "I hear what you say", say he will do it on October 31st, but simply not do it. Similarly, even Parliament realised he was playing that game on, say, October 25th, and passed a vote of No Confidence promptly, how would they force him to tender his resignation in time? It would require HM to dismiss him and appoint a PM who would, or cancel Brexit herself.

21:

I'm pretty sure Farage wants the tax status he thinks royalty ought to have. Pretty sure whoever thinks Farage is working for them is wrong, and medium-sure he's way over on the "evil" end of "stupid or evil?"

Things are obviously going to go right to hell. One way to deal with the realisation is "la la la", mainstream Tories; another is to push strong collective action. (Even the Chinese Communist Party isn't really at strong yet.) But if you're a greedhead? Never mind this community nonsense; I want to be king. Kings don't go hungry.

I remain amazed that this is an effective political stance, but it is doing fine just about anywhere in the anglosphere.

Can't think of anybody trying it who looks competent enough to pull it off; that doesn't rule out dumb luck during the increase of chaos.

22:

The no confidence vote #2 is an interesting one.

I think there are a batch of Tories who have held their nerve under May that she'll (somehow) see it through and see off the ERG and the nutters. If BoJo lurches the Conservative Government to be basically a Brexiteer paradise, they'll look at the opinion polls, they'll look at their long term future and jump from the Tory party. LibDems are a nice pro-Remain party that is anti-Corbyn, anti-ERG, centrist where they might feel somewhat at home.

They will then comfortably vote down the Tory government - the idea being that they cling to power under a new umbrella. For some, of course, this will be fantasy, but for some it will work. Opinion polls are pretty divided, just like the country still, but there are more and more seats around the country that are shifting to Remain as demographics works its way through. Standing as a Remain candidate in a clearly Remain party. Being able to say you campaigned Remain in the referendum too will be a vote winner in a lot of constituencies I imagine. Just as it will be a vote loser in another set of them, regardless of their normal political colour.

I imagine we'll see a four- or five-way mess of a next parliament, with the SNP + Labour + Lib-Dems as the biggest block and forming a coalition that may or may not be stable but will be pro-remain. (The SNP might be the fourth or fifth biggest party but will be enough of a bloc to give anyone a majority and it won't be the Brexit party or the Tories.)

To be honest, although I don't see it happening, I think my preferred outcome would be a Green + SNP coalition in charge... Everyone just says "fuck you all" and votes Green or SNP and screws them all over.

23:

with the SNP + Labour + Lib-Dems as the biggest block and forming a coalition that may or may not be stable but will be pro-remain.

Such a coalition is out of the question.

Labour see the SNP as their natural enemy in Scotland (and to some extent vice versa). Also both LibDem and Labour are unionist parties.

They might go for a Confidence and Supply arrangement to keep the BXP/Tories out, but not a formal coalition.

This also depends on whether Labour's leadership flips to oppose Brexit. Right now the rank and file are pro-remain, but Corbyn still equivocates. I suspect it's a combination of indecisiveness and unwillingness to interrupt his enemy while they're making a mistake (ahem, the Tory party while they're chewing their own guts out), but sooner or later it'll become clear that he's got to pick a side—and I'm not sure he'll make the right choice.

Green/SNP coalition (or rather, confidence and supply arrangement) is what currently runs Scotland. It seems to work okay; I have complaints, but compared to my complaints about Westminster governments under the Conservatives or Blairite Labour, they're nothing.

24:

There is a precedent for arranging the time of death of the monarch to suit the news cycle:

As he lay comatose on his deathbed in 1936, King George V was injected with fatal doses of morphine and cocaine to assure him a painless death in time, according to his physician's notes, for the announcement to be carried ''in the morning papers rather than the less appropriate evening journals.''

https://www.nytimes.com/1986/11/28/world/1936-secret-is-out-doctor-sped-george-v-s-death.html

25:

I agree with Eloise@22 that the most likely scenario is a new election, and it is going to be interesting. The Tories have spent the last decade burnishing their reputation as the Nasty Party (something that they had previously started to shed), while Labour have spent it recovering their old reputation as the Irresponsible Party.

This ought to be the moment for the Lib Dems to come back from the electoral wilderness into which they were cast as punishment for going into a coalition and abandoning a major campaign promise. Unfortunately the two people standing for the Lib Dem leadership have absolutely no name recognition, and most people probably didn't even know they were having a leadership contest.

26:

they fear losing their jobs in a massive backlash/protest vote more than they fear the consequences of clinging to power at all costs.

Welcome to the USA. R's are totally in on this just now. But D's practice it with a passion most of the time.

27:

While some kind of military engagement in the Gulf is very possible, I don't see the UK military engaging in the kind of brain-dead strategy you envisage in Wildcard#2. Boris may be an idiot, but the Chiefs of Defence Staff and the rest of the MOD are not. If the UK does get involved in military action then Iran will lose it. The problem will be what happens next; Iran is constitutionally incapable of making peace with us (c/f the Americans and the Clan in their little nuclear exchange), so the most likely outcome is that the Straits of Hormuz are closed to shipping while a nasty little war develops between Saudi Arabia and Iran. See this interesting article for an explanation of why Saudi Arabia is likely to do badly despite having so much more money to throw at the problem.

In the long run this might actually be a good thing. If Saudi oil fields are closed the West will be forced to confront its addiction to oil, which will hopefully hasten the move towards greener alternatives. Of course in the short run its going to be a second .

28:

Graydon @ 21
Royalty's ACTUAL tax rate is about 75-80% ... Though I see what you mena about Farrago.

Eloise @ 22
I imagine we'll see a four- or five-way mess of a next parliament, with the SNP + Labour + Lib-Dems as the biggest block and forming a coalition that may or may not be stable but will be pro-remain.
PROVIDED utter fuckwit Corby doesn't screw the pooch AGAIN, of course ... then I agree that is a very likely scenario.

Charlie: and I'm not sure he'll make the right choice. Being Corbyn, what do YOU think?

29:

I call Poe's Law. Charlie, I predict that whatever happens in the U.K. in the next few years will be even stupider than your description/prediction in the top post.*

* I should note that as I an American, I could write a description/prediction similar to yours. The next ten years in the U.S. will also be very stupid. (Nancy Pelosi is the Neville Chamberlain of our times.) I'm completely flabbergasted by how many people are being completely idiotic, all at the same time. It's like they put something in the water...

30:

I fear you are correct.

NB: Neville Chamberlain was actually good at his job; he was just out of his depth when it turned into a total war shootingfest. (The "peace in our time" photo-op? Was followed by him returning to Downing Street and quietly throwing the switch to ramp up emergency re-armament. Hitler hadn't fooled him: he just didn't want to cause a national panic, because the then prevalent vision of the Next War involved strategic bombing of cities using chemical weapons, millions dead in the first days, etc.)

31:

"...quietly throwing the switch to ramp up emergency re-armament."

There is not the slightest sign that Nancy P. is doing anything of the kind. She's far more concerned about challenges to Control Of The Party from her left to actually do anything about Trump.

32:

The evitability of Boris Johnson's continued career doing *anything* is the puzzling part for me. Here's a man who:-

* Repeatedly wrote fictional "news" articles, so egregiously that he was fired multiple times for it.
* Even more repeatedly wrote fictional "news" articles about Europe for which he was not fired, because he was employed by the Telegraph.
* Colluded with Darius Guppy in an attempt to have another journalist beaten up.
* As an MP, has a very low attendance rate for votes.
* Has had repeated affairs - I don't intend to judge this morally, but from the national security standpoint of having a PM vulnerable to blackmail.
* As mayor of London, displayed total incompetence on the Garden Bridge project, costing tens of millions and being rounded criticised for this incompetence in its public review.
* As mayor of London, stayed on holiday during major rioting.
* As Foreign Secretary, his statement ensured that Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe stayed locked up.
* As Foreign Secretary, repeatedly dropped racist comments during state visits.
* Has already bailed on the job once when it looked like he'd have some real competition and scrutiny.

So, failed journalist, failed husband and father, failed backbench MP, failed mayor, failed Foreign Secretary - and now the Tories want to make him PM. And amazingly the papers are not full of the ways he's managed to fuck up every job he's ever had, and has then been given his next job because of who his family are.

As far as I can see, the one positive in this clusterfuck is that Labour may finally have an opponent they all hate more than they hate each other.

33:

Periodically I wake up and start the day thinking:

"DT
Really?
Maybe it was a dream"

Sort of like Doc Brown when he was told that Ronald would be president in 1985.

34:

Yes. I suspect that he also felt it might confuse the enemy about the UK's intentions, slightly, though I doubt it made much difference. I agree with Troutwaxer, too - #8 was about the stupidest thing I could think of, but I am sure that Bozo and his pals will think of something stupider - they have the experience and attitude, after all. Though I suppose starting an all-out war with Iran would count.

35:

She's far more concerned about challenges to Control Of The Party from her left to actually do anything about Trump.

That's just the appearance. She actually is concerned about loosing the House again in 2020. The left of her "fight every battle to the death" doesn't understand national politics at all.

36:

How Stephen King Predicted Trump's Rise Decades Ago | Opinions | NowThis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXfklsKGwBU

37:

Has had repeated affairs - I don't intend to judge this morally, but from the national security standpoint of having a PM vulnerable to blackmail.

How do you trust someone to tell the truth when they can pull of the lies needed to have an affair with a partner/spouse who has even a bit of a brain?

38:

"She actually is concerned about loosing the House again in 2020."

If that's the case, she's completely chickenshit. She has Donald Trump, and his record, to run against, plus all the criminality on the part of Trump's minions... imagine how the right would have run against Obama in similar circumstances and you've got the kind of total war Pelosi could wage if she had a mind to do so.

39:

It seems very likely in the event of a no deal brexit that there will, within weeks, be rioting and looting. Later the cannibalism starts.
Leaving aside minor matters like keeping the lights and heating on as winter approaches, and the UK's lack of food security, there is also:-

The last UK cigarette factory closed in 2017 and manufacturing moved to Germany and Poland.

About 20 percent of UK beer is imported.

Almost all the wine is imported.

And those shortages will certainly get some people in a bad mood.

As to whether civil disorder leads to martial law and camps or to a volte face and rejoining the EU under any terms offered, we'll have to wait and see.

40:

One thing that's keeping Agent Orange afloat is that "The Economy is Doing Great!" (tm). This is partially true, in that good economic numbers favor the incumbent, and his are certainly good. Considering that he's tacked on a trillion or two to the national debt to inflate the fortunes of the billionaires, thereby (on average) raising the prosperity of everyone else, the average economic numbers do look great. Heck, some of it's even trickled down, so that all these idiotic building projects are in process around me, legalities be damned, but people are employed if they want to be.

Anyway, I keep hoping that the Great Halloween Disaster of a har dBrexit will pop the whole damn bubble and trigger a global recession. If it does, well, sucks for everybody, but it particularly sucks for Trump, because presidents who get blamed for recessions too.

Unfortunately, yes, Trump, along with Pompano and the War Walrus, might indeed trigger a war with Iran to take everybody's eyes off the polls and economy. It would be sad if the navigable portion of the Straits of Hormuz got blocked by sunken oil tankers and possibly the odd warship, but that doesn't matter to the US--we've already got batteries set up on the other side of the Strait, ready to lob the ultimate in highly explosive consumer goods at the Iranians, most of whom probably don't want to deal with any of this shit. But that's all the US Military Industrial Complex is now good for: destroying things, not winning wars.

The only thing that could make it worse might be that the killer heat indices flare up in the Gulf again, as they have the past two years.

Stock up on the beans, rice, flour, vitamins, meds, and water purifiers while things are good, I think.

41:

"It seems very likely in the event of a no deal brexit that there will, within weeks, be rioting and looting. Later the cannibalism starts."

The answer, unfortunately, is that everyone in the UK has to riot like they've been starving for a week before Brexit happens!

And everyone please note that I'm not advocating violence, just pointing out the Very Serious Problems involved with a poorly scheduled attempt to get the attention of your government. If you're in the U.K. and you haven't at least written a forceful letter, you're doing it wrong.

P.S. Yes, I have been writing to my Congress-person here in the U.S.

42:

I probably don't have to point out that the idea that we have an unstoppable military is, in itself, highly racist.

Consider the Iranians, for example. They really only have one military problem to solve: they don't have to worry about being invaded by the Afghanistan, Pakistan or the Iraqis. Turkey and Turkmenistan don't want their territory (I'm sure they keep plans on file, just in case) and I suspect the Russians are too smart to think taking on Persia is a good idea...

The sole military problem Iran has to solve is the U.S. (possibly acting as a proxy for the Saudis or Israelis.) Forget the Russian anti-shipping missles for a moment. If the Iranians don't have defense in depth, involving every possible layer of places the U.S. might capture while heading for Tehran, right down to some very careful planning for a guerrilla war against an occupation, including a ton of pre-cached equipment... does anyone doubt that their military has gamed this out on a millimeter scale?

The problem for the U.S. is that idiots like Bolton don't understand that taking Tehran is the easy part. (And it might not be that easy.)

43:

I think we agree that using Iran to "Wag the Dog" is a *really* bad idea, and I suspect that (as with Operation Downfall in WWII), the Iranian and US plans for the invasion are mirror images of each other. Probably the US MIC doesn't particularly want to go there, but they do have to follow orders if orders are given.

I'd disagree about Iran having only one military threat. They do have to deal with the problems of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and whatever is going on along the Afghan border as well. But as you point out, these are chronic problems, not acute ones.

44:

How do you trust someone to tell the truth when they can pull of the lies needed to have an affair with a partner/spouse who has even a bit of a brain?

I'm quite prepared to disconnect personal and professional. If he's competent at his job, his personal life can stay personal. So let's be generous and judge him on his professional track record.

We shouldn't have to trust someone to tell the truth when they get to high office. There should be ample evidence from their previous actions for how they're going to behave, and we can't expect them to change if they take office.
The problem for Boris Johnson, like Donald Trump, is that his professional track record over his entire adult life consists of telling lies and being found incompetent by his superiors.

My beef with this whole situation is that it comes down to a failure of journalism. Over the last few years, journalism has mistaken "lack of backbone" for "seeing both sides". When it comes to outright lies, the only two sides are right or wrong, and failure to choose is indistinguishable from consciously choosing "wrong". And the irony is that the biggest snowflakes in this regard are the conservatives, who can't stand scrutiny. It simply isn't "biased" to say "this man has a 30 year record of lying and being fired for lying and incompetence", because the evidence is there.

45:

Troutwaxer
From this distance ...
Pelosi appears to be doin the sensible thing: Teying to PREVENT an impeachment of DT - which will fail & help him win in 2020 ... it needs to be dragged out with as much dirt as possible dug.
Unless, of course, I've missed something?

46:

The sole military problem Iran has to solve is the U.S.

Wrong: Iran's pressing military problem is Saudi Arabia, which they've been locked in a regional Cold War with since 1980 and the Saudi religious revolution. It's a bitter, ugly, sunni on shia death-feud going back to the 7th century, and the US has been coopted into being the Saudi's dumb but useful thuggish henchman. (Ditto Israel, who have—under Netenyahu—shared military interests with the Saudi regime.)

The USA is not the centre of the geopolitical universe, whatever the policy wonks inside the beltway might like to think.

47:

I'd have to agree that the Saudis and Iranians are fighting an ongoing series of ugly proxy wars.* But the Saudis have nothing resembling the capability to actually take war to the Iranians. (or vice-versa) Are they going to build a bunch of landing craft and cross the Persian Gulf? How about going overland through Iraq? Simply put, it isn't going to happen from either side. But the U.S. does have the ability to put troops ashore in Iran if we're willing to take the casualties.

What I was mainly talking about, however, was the idiotic-but-still-politically-acceptable US/British ideal of gunboat diplomacy, which unfortunately dies a very messy death about the time your opponents become able to build their own gunboats! (Which is why my first sentence involved the question of racism.) The essential problem is that politicians still believe we can dock a battleship someplace and send the Marines in for a quick regime change. How completely fucking stupid do you have to be to imagine that's going to happen in the modern world?

* If I were a very cynical politician I'd encourage these proxy wars.

48:

The essential problem is that politicians still believe we can dock a battleship someplace and send the Marines in for a quick regime change. How completely fucking stupid do you have to be to imagine that's going to happen in the modern world?

Nah.

There's some of that lingering about, but the thing Bolton, et. al want is fear; they're not safe until everyone is paralytic terrified to do anything other than exactly what they're told to do. What they want is not so much a war with Iran as a complete destruction of Iran; their war plan very likely includes doing their dead level best to lose a CVN early, because that way it's the national honour and (they expect) any response will be permitted.

Iran is sort of stuck in their brains over the Shah, a weird "how dare" combination of cowardice and white supremacy. It's not just about Iran and it's only peripherally about oil.

It's absolutely one hundred percent pure quill organic mad; it conforms to material reality in no way at all. But nothing in the way of setbacks or reality has done anything to the viewpoint the last forty-some years. I don't expect it to start changing now.

49:
The rates in the 1960s were stupidly high, at over 90%
Down from 99% in the war.

Of course this is meaningless, it applies only to the part of income over some limit (around GBP 200,000 at current values) and it's trivially easy to avoid earning more (while still getting the value in other ways).

50:

No, that's not the whole (or even main) reason for Iran's behaviour. Both the USA and Saudi Arabia are determined to destroy Iran as an independent country, utterly and completely - though in different ways. Iran is not being given an opportunity to do anything but to surrender to that, or resist to the death. Both the government and people know that.

51:

Actually, Graydon also has a horribly good point about fear, which is what drives the right-wing vote, to the point where I'd love to see the death penalty for the crime of making people more afraid than they should be.

52:

A murderous fascist psychopath story, I'm not often invited to these. I'll opt for the fairy tale second referendum ending.

Taser Implementation Squad gunmen kill a Spanish electrician for wearing a Fly Emirates shirt, shooting him fifty-two times in the head. They cover up for their careers' sake by causing an electrical fault fire at a large poorly maintained building full of people who have contributed nothing to society for two years. Jeremy Corbyn survives because he is on a school trip to Auschwitz to prove he isn't a Holocaust denier. Boris Johnson has been on a PR stunt pretending to live as a homeless person, because his girlfriend threw him out of No.11 for spilling champagne on a duvet.

Corbyn attempts to meet with the Queen to ensure the survival of Parliament's traditions and customs, however Johnson corners him in Legoland Windsor. He is saved at the last second by Greta Thunberg, who knifes Johnson in the Haunted House Monster Party and all the Conservatives explode.

Corbyn won't support Thunberg because of his principled commitment to seventies NUM values. He agrees to a police plan to restore order and they attack the rebels in the Battle of Trafalgar. The tasers suffer a mysterious electrical failure and they are forced to resort to beating the schoolkids to death with illegal truncheons. At the last second a flight of drones appear and smash the police lines with fuel-air explosives. [anyone else have the recurring napalm dream with the dead and dying riot gear constables? no?]

Meanwhile Anne Widdecombe and the Unsullied Party led by Grey Worm plead for a Britain free from fishmongers and slavery. Groupon exploit civil war in Britain with a fish curry offer, only if you order in High Valyrian. The massive worldwide response leads to the collapse of the electronic economy.

J. Gordron Brown then offers his services as a financial wizard to save humanity. His plan is to keep house prices stable by condemning British children to lifelong slavery. This only enhances the appeal of the Unsullied Party and they decide they can risk a second and decisive referendum, this time without the murder of an MP or an attack on Parliament.

53:

Stock up on the beans, rice, flour, vitamins, meds, and water purifiers while things are good, I think.

Toothbrushes, etc. 20L containers, because the cheap per-litre water purification tablets work per 20 litres. (that is, per NATO jerrycan.)

Clothing repair tools; laundry soap. Other soap. A cubic metre of sanitary tissue. Buckets. Socks. LED lights, and the means to charge them.

54:

Wasn't talking about Iran's behaviour at all.

They're generally being quite rational.

55:

I'm not totally up to speed on the topic, but wouldn't rice, lentils, various beans, vitamin pills and dried and canned fruit enable you to survive fairly well for quite a while?

56:

Only if you've got heat and water (ideally electricity and potable drinking water).

57:

I can arrange to have both; I already have litres of meths for my camping stove, rechargeable batteries galore etc, paraffin lamp, etc. I should be fine, it's the poor people and elderly who will die en masse. So helping stock up your local food bank a few weeks before would be a good idea. Plus encouraging MP's to do almost anything to avoid no deal brexit.

58:

Going beyond Charlie's "if the power stays on"; if that's not your accustomed diet and not your accustomed means of cooking, likely not. There's no fat on that list. The abstract human needs about 30% (20% to 35% ranges are given; varies by age and activity) fat in their diet. Rice and legumes are notably low in fat. Horrifying 16th century accounts of fat deficiency diseases have been found accurate as people get convinced fat is evil. Low fat diets and being cold'll kill you. "Food's short and the heat's out" in November's much worse than May or June.

"How to cook" is not assumed knowledge; it takes remarkably little "oops" to feed yourself a bacterial culture even if the power is on. If the power is off -- and thus refrigeration isn't -- it gets much easier to do yourself an injury. (Recreational campers, every year.) Most people today simply don't have the option of cooking over a fire, and improvised cooking fires don't end well, especially not with a dense population. (If faced with this problem, start a collective. Full-time cooks and big pots are more efficient of fuel and you're not a skilled cook can find fuel, plant potatoes, stop drafts, etc.)

Sanitation, urgh. Even when you have sewers, iffy water, no hot water, and intermittent sewers or inadequate sewage processing means an increased death rate. (Don't brush your teeth with non-potable water, but you must brush your teeth.) Throw in iffy food and intermittent food supply and a lot of people die. Get as strict about hand washing as an early 20th century nurse and it'll help. (Hence the soap on my list!)

This stuff is fragile if the central distribution networks for water, power, or gas go down. The way a no-deal Brexit sets up a regulatory blockade, all the distribution networks get doubtful quick. And none of the people making decisions have cooked for themselves in their entire lives; it's a sort of shameful knowledge kept by lower orders.

59:

Thanks, that's a good point about fat. I was going to keep some butter and margarine in the fridge to use for baking anyway, the question is what other sorts of fat can I store.

60:

Although I'm not part of the Rainbow Family, I've been learning a lot about disaster prep by reading up how they do it. Seriously, finding a remote place in the woods and hosting 20,000 people there for a week or month on about $1000 cash donated and the rest donated and salvaged goods and services. Then they put the site back the way it was before they leave. All done purely by volunteers who self-organize.

Some of the Rainbow kitchens have taken on a second life as volunteer disaster relief. They did a really good job in New Orleans after Katrina, for example.

There's a lot of Rainbow stuff on the web, so if you're looking for mass disaster prep, you can do worse than to go there. This isn't to rain on donating food to the local food bank, but there are other (perhaps better) possibilities for when things break down.

61:

Bull. Shit.

Note that the US just did that... and tax revenues keep falling.

62:

I'm getting a vague memory that Dan H is our resident hit and run neoliberal/ libertarian; reality is not his strong point.

Heteromeles #60 - good pointer, I'll look them up. The issue with our own prepping for brexit is just how much you can survive with and without other people in society and how much we can preserve. I like to be organised to meet potential problems, but there is only so much I can do myself as you know.

63:

Olives are a pretty good choice.

Nuts often have shelf-life issues; pasteurised nut butters in sealed glass if you're going for shelf life. The right kinds of cheese. Many sorts of dry sausage. Pickled herring. Most of the vegetable oils have shelf-life issues but the fancier organic single-pressing sorts into glass or stainless can be good for a year at room temperature as long as they stay sealed.

64:

"Neville Chamberlain was actually good at his job; he was just out of his depth when it turned into a total war shootingfest. (The "peace in our time" photo-op? Was followed by him returning to Downing Street and quietly throwing the switch to ramp up emergency re-armament. Hitler hadn't fooled him: he just didn't want to cause a national panic, because the then prevalent vision of the Next War involved strategic bombing of cities using chemical weapons, millions dead in the first days, etc.)"

Charlie,

I've been looking through the order books of the old LNER Railway Company. They received large sums from the government in 1937/1938. I think what was actually happening was that CIGS had asked for another year for rearmament, postponing the war for a year to 1939.

Funding was used to modernise the workshops -- and not just the railway companies, but Vauxhall were asked to design a new truck/coach chassis in 1937. So what we're looking at is dual-use funding. If there's war, then the factories can quickly be re-purposed; if not then we get new trucks, trains, buses and so on.

Finally in 1938 the LNER built a wagon ("Gun Set A") for transporting 14" and 16" naval guns. Also 55 ton ARM wagons for transporting Armour Plate. Admittedly this is more of a consequence of the failure of the 1936 London Naval Agreement, and the need to build the new KGV Warships.

We may get an answer from PRO Kew in 2039/2040 if either of us is still around.

65:

I really hope you're wrong about this (and I'm still kicking myself for not pulling the rest of my money out of the UK at the start of the year, when it was at least 1.31 to the pound).

By any chance is this view inspired by the following report over the weekend?

"Whitehall sources say the presumptive prime minister was left "visible shaken" after being briefed by civil servants to expect civil unrest if he goes through with his threat"

"A senior government source revealed that importing fresh food though Dover would only be the third highest priority in the event of no-deal, with clean water only fifth. Top of the list are life-saving drugs, followed by medical devices and fresh food. Nuclear power plant parts are then given priority over the import of chemicals to purify drinking water...."

66:

You could be right - it might not be a formal coalition although I think it will be more than a confidence and supply arrangement. There will be something to make sure they ally to stomp all over Brexit too. I don't know what that becomes in terms of the language a "Progressive pro-Remain alliance" or something? A semi-devolved coalition?

I was musing over dinner as the news was talking about all the Tory ministers resigning and BoJo's first putative cabinet and how he'll be a force to reunite the Tory party and then the country. Apart from spraying my dinner in a very undignified fashion at the thought of BoJo reuniting the country in anything except rioting, I let their thoughts on a cabinet percolate. They're talking him having to include a number of former Remainers in high positions to try and unite the party. Makes some kind of sense. As a true scion of Brexit, he can afford to be magnanimous in victory, in a way May couldn't. But if he goes too far, he pisses off the headbangers in the ERG. Do they then rebel (again) making the political calculation that they could have a hard nub Tory Right + Brexit coalition in charge? Personally I think they're mad if they go for it, but they stand up and tell us how easy Brexit is going to be and how the EU will let them change the backstop and so forth and seem to believe the insanity they spout there... It's easy for me to see them believing they could have a coalition of the nutters to get a hard right pro-Brexit coalition in charge.

Could be a really fun balancing act. Too far right and there are defections and no confidence. Too far to the centre and the nutters risk deposing him for a "True Brexit."

67:

Cheese basically keeps forever. You want a hard, pasteurised cheese if you're looking to store it, but basically any of the traditional English/Irish cheeses will do pretty much fine, even if you buy them in the supermarket. You want to avoid the runny French cheeses and things like ricotta, mozzarella and cottage cheese.

If you live near a farm, learn how to make ricotta - it's pretty easy if you have a source of milk and citrus and either heat or cold. And although it doesn't keep long, it keeps longer than fresh milk. As someone that doesn't use milk in drinks, I make it when we have visitors and I have to get milk in, it's quick and easy enough to do routinely and uses up the excess milk in a form I like.

68:

She's a neoliberal idiot. I have to email her office again, to point out that I can see how trying to impeach the President is such a bad idea, and led to two terms of Gerald Ford, and those two marvelous full terms of President Al Gore....

Oh, that's right, they didn't. She's turning away all the independents who would vote if she showed the balls that the freshmen Congresscritters do.

69:

Isn't it amazing... if the President is a Democrat, and the economy is good, or the economy is bad, and the President is a Reptilian, then we're all continually reminded that the President doesn't have a lot of control over the economy, while with the economy in the opposite situation, the Presdent's responsible for it....

70:

Like pretty much all the political survivors of the opposition to Reagan Revolution, she's completely convinced that a shooting civil war is a real risk and must be avoided.

It's suggested that the reason the tax rates stayed high after the New Deal was that there was an entire generation of oligarchs convinced that communist revolution and being stood in front of a wall and shot was a real, pressing, present risk. Something about the Reagan Revolution convinced the status quo democrats of that period that they were facing the same sort of risk.

I'd be inclined to point out that the mass ethnic cleansing has started and the machinery of government is not in a condition of obedience, so the risk... is absent, considered as risk.

But then again I am not at all a politician.

71:

Like pretty much all the political survivors of the opposition to Reagan Revolution, she's completely convinced that a shooting civil war is a real risk and must be avoided.

One of the reasons I am cautiously optimistic about the long-term breakup of the UK not descending into civil war: the population is overwhelmingly urban, the rabid nationalist brexiters trend old, and there aren't enough guns (and those that are circulating are almost all single/double shotguns and bolt action rifles—very few handguns, vanishingly few semi/full automatics). Also, we're on an island so it'd take time and effort to change that—you can't simply load up a truck with AK-74s (let alone a BUK-M TELAR) and drive over the border from the Russian Federation or the Ukraine.

But then … consider Rwanda, and the level of violence that happened using nothing more sophisticated than machetes.

72:

Trump certainly has committed impeachable offences.
Even more than Nixon. However, the politics are different.

An impeachment in the House that fails in the Senate is not helpful. See Clinton, William.

OTOH Pelosi publicly stomping on the Squad is bad politics.

On the gripping hand there is this perverse thing in US politics. Passing legislation means you lose support.

73:

From what I've read, Rwanda was carefully planned and propagandised. When the Mail and Sun start telling their readers to act violently against their neighbours and various state arms start stockpiling machetes and stuff, then you should get worried. But on the other hand I'd find it quite funny for a few seconds having to fend off several 60 year olds armed with machetes but no real idea how to use them because they've been inside shouting at the telly instead of walking the hills with me.

74:

Mair's gun was widely reported to be home-made, however the reality is more mysterious.

Who supplied the gun?

https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2017/june/who-supplied-the-gun

75:

I am a keen supporter of a tax cut in the U.S.─to wit, the 'Kennedy' Tax Cut of 1964 which brought the top marginal rate down (in the original case) to 70%

76:

Well, the last time we had a civil war it made a lot of use of slightly fancier versions of machetes, plus guns which weren't much more than pieces of steel pipe of the kind that is common as muck these days and which ran on explosives made by digging up piles of shit. (Electrolysing salt is a lot less unpleasant, even if you do have to use a car alternator connected to a bicycle.)

Though I think I'd rather be shot than hacked with an axe. It probably hurts less, and when you fall over you're further away from the guy with the weapon so he has less incentive to hit you a second time to make sure you're properly dead. Also at least with modern guns there's less chance of your leg coming off completely, and there's less chance of the wound getting infected.

Which brings up at least two more things to make sure you've got. Salt, not actually for making chlorates, but for eating, because it gets really valuable without modern supply chains (and even more so in a warmer climate). And some kind of closed iron pot to cook wood or coal in, so you can make carbolic bandages out of the gunk.

77:

Agreed. Cheese is great. One of the best things you can get for a concentrated source of protein and fat, so concentrated that nasty microbes can't eat it, and the one or two that do, you can eat them. And you can melt it over all sorts of dull things to make them more palatable.

Only thing is that nobody knows how to keep it because it's pretty much the reverse of how you keep anything else. It does not need to be in the fridge. It definitely should not be kept in those horrible plastic bags it comes in from the supermarket: it sweats oil and goes all manky, and the retained moisture allows some of the more dubious microbes to get a hold. It basically needs to be left out and just covered with cloth or something to keep the flies off. True, it does go all hard like that, and may well develop a coating of mould, but it's still perfectly edible, mould and all - and I like it like that anyway :)

78:

> Get as strict about hand washing as an
> early 20th century nurse and it'll help.

When I hear people start running too far with the Sanitation Hypothesis, I think 'These are people who don't understand just how clean you have to get before it starts getting counter-productive.'. Simply understanding how thoroughly bits of horse dung spread over everything makes the anti-germ fanaticism of our grandparents' (and in my case, parents'─I was a child of older parents and am skimming old age myself) generation make sense.

79:

Thank-you.

…though I'm sure that particular zombie economic hypothesis will keep shambling on, it's just too pleasant a notion for those with the money to promote it.

Meanwhile, perfectly, the current Administration have given the Medal of Freedom to Arthur Laffer.

80:

Vegetables jugged with the inclusion of vinegar, e.g. giardiniera, should be safer longer.

81:

jrootham @ 72
An impeachment in the House that fails in the Senate is not helpful.
This.
Impeaching DT will be a mistake - he HAS to be allowed to go down in fkames in 2020, with a Dem suoermajority in all fields ....

82:

I've used lemon juice for mozzarella and ricotta, but citric acid would keep essentially forever. have you ever used it?

83:

(Apologies for double-replying.)

If you've an heat source (or a good enough solar oven), and preferable some salt, you can bake ricotta into something that will last. Then, of course, if you do it right ricotta salata looks to be the easiest hard cheese to make....

84:

The problem for the U.S. is that idiots like Bolton don't understand that taking Tehran is the easy part. (And it might not be that easy.)
True.[1] But it's not just Bolton; the US has been ramping up its economic war against Iran, and the US and Iran don't fully agree on the differences/lines between economic warfare and hot warfare. Since economic warfare has high costs including human costs (e.g. the economic war against Saddam Hussein/Iraq in the 1990s, with excess death estimates in the hundreds of thousands IIRC), and those costs are being born by Iranians now, non-military people like Sigal Mandelker[0] play an important role as well. If the war goes hot, it will in part be her fault.

[0] The Woman at the Center of Trump’s Iran Policy - John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are the public faces of the “maximum pressure” campaign. But the Treasury official Sigal Mandelker is the one actually running its most important component. (Kathy Gilsinan, 2019/07/20) Note her background; "child of Holocaust survivors".
[1] Also, same author, Iran’s Human Geography: The Wicked Problem of People, Places, and Things that Complicates US Strategy (Adam Silverman, August 1, 2018). There are others but these are short and readable.
---
Fingers passed POST. Whoot!


85:

But if enough people agree that you aren't trying hard enough to stop trump now, by e.g. impeaching him, they won't vote for you in 2020. Allowing him to commit an impeachable offence every day, which he seems to be doing now, in the hope that people vote for you next year is pretty silly. Having it fail in the Senate just proves that the evil republicans are happy to see evil done, and can help rile up your base and others to vote for you.

86:

I'm convinced that even people who know that impeachment alone keeps Trump in viscerally believe that it would be worth something.

I think they fail to see how little it would mean to anyone who doesn't already dislike a Trump Presidency, as it would be classed as 'purely political'─you know, just like the investigation that was unable to clear the President of charges of obstruction of justice or the reporting of his manifest shady business practices.

I think they fail to remember how certain the opposition party can usually be of increasing their seating in the House six years into a Presidency and how impeachment one month before the 1998 election seems to have changed that into Democratic gains.

(I hope this sample of intra-party Democratic sniping in this forum can cheer-up our British co-readers just a little when they need it…as its wider version depresses me no end.)(My biases: I have come to appreciate parties that work as parties─I think being able to effectively manage your own party acts as a test of effectively managing the nation for some voters in the middle.)

87:

On the gripping hand there is this perverse thing in US politics. Passing legislation means you lose support.
On the fourth hand, Nancy Pelosi's political role is "Herder of Cats", so what she says and does should be parsed carefully. Same applies to her immediate underlings.
(I don't know what she believes, looks like an old progressive with some neoliberal beliefs, but she has called herself a political weaver.)
We shall see - this week is a bit of a test for her and I'm still mentally parsing the new budget deal but it looks a bit weak.

88:

The description of "Whoops Apocalypse" makes me sorry that I haven't seen the series; I avoided the film when it arrived at a local video store because the title and box description made me believe that it was similar to a "Carry On" movie….

I must admit to having bailed-out after four or so episodes of "Brain Dead" (in which we at least have alien insects to blame). If you've seen more, how would you rate it?; if you've seen the "W.A!" series, how do they compare?

89:

grr, didn't click link in preview: new budget deal. Schedules a fight for the newly elected POTUS late summer 2021.

90:

Maybe Prince Charles doesn't want to be King of a UK riven by civil war and violence - afraid he would end up like the first King Charles.

91:

.Most of the vegetable oils have shelf-life issues but the fancier organic single-pressing sorts into glass or stainless can be good for a year at room temperature as long as they stay sealed.
I'm pretty sure I've cooked with oil 4+ years old.
https://www.canitgobad.net/can-vegetable-oil-go-bad/
is interesting. They say 2 years for unopened containers is typical.

92:

I got this idea from seeing German Chancellor Angela Merkal described as the new "leader of the free world" and watching an episode of "Man in the High Castle" on Amazon Prime.

Scenario: A future refight of WW2 with Germany and Japan (as the last true liberal democracies - they are now the Good Guys) fighting America, Britain, France and Russia (led by the likes of Trump, Boris, LePen and Putin are right wing authoritarian nations - led by the UK they are also surveillance states - and are now the Bad Guys).

Instead of anschluss and Munich, Germany protects Austria and the Czech republic from an aggressive right wing Poland (which has banned press freedoms) when NATO falls apart like the League of Nations after America's withdrawal from the alliance.

Meanwhile, instead of a "China Incident", Japan acts to give humanitarian aid to a China that has collapsed due to ecological disaster and rising oceans, and helps South Korea reunify the peninsula after North Korea finally falls apart.

An incident with Poland leads to a general war in Europe with German high tech versus superior Allied numbers. The result is Blitzkrieg 2.0. Shortly afterward, America and Japan clash over islands in the South China Sea and the Philippines and a high tech Japanese cyber-warfare "Pearl Harbor" takes out America's fleet and most of its strategic assets.

The Germans and Japanese have a high tech advantage over the Allies due to America preferring to teach Creationism instead of science. As they advance, most of the populations greet them as liberators. Everywhere they liberate, the Germans and Japanese uncover detention camps for Gays, Muslims and Hispanics

Those responsible being brought to justice after the war.

93:

Well, impeaching the current US president is impossible. It has to be done by the senate, and they've pretty much indicated that Agent Orange could commit sexual mutilations on the corpse of a dead scout and post the video, and they'd stand by him so long as they thought his base had his back.

What the Republicans don't want to realize is that the ones who "secretly don't like it" could simply jump parties, give the democrats the majority, and the whole nightmare would be over for them. That obviously takes courage and character, and that's not where they are. It's the union solidarity problem all over again. Enough of them jump, and they can make life a living hell of continuous investigations for everyone currently holding them hostage to political
funding. But they won't do it.

The democrats disappoint in many ways, but the thing is, they're still trying to do their entire job, unlike the Republicans.

94:

Enforcement is way down here in the US too, to the point that the Mueller investigation more than paid for itself with the evaded taxes the stumbled over while looking for other things.

Cutting tax rates on the rich is much more visible than cutting funding on enforcement.

95:

The status quo cannot possibly survive.

The post-war status quo, especially in the US, is driven by making housing and automobiles and all that attends on these things major sectors of the economy. This takes a lot of laws; things are very much set up to penalise lack of car ownership or home ownership. It takes unity among a group of people (real estate developers and agents; car dealership owners) who are intensely selected for a specific set of social skills, limited principle, and innumeracy.

That's the base of the "conservative" political position. As the degree to which the status quo is doomed gets more and more obvious, the ability to find someone vaguely numerate or vaguely plausibly not a murderous authoritarian to represent it gets more and more difficult. No one wants to get up and advocate for the doomed.

They're absolutely determined not to change, though; that risks all their relative social standing, and in general humans can't do that. This part applies to everybody in the legislature anywhere, or it's supposed to. What went wrong (from the status quo POV) in the US in 2018 is that there are now a few folks in the lower house who are NOT committed to the status quo, and who would derive increased relative status from replacing it.

The US loose-dynamic-coalition party model can't cope with that. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

96:

I suspect you are unduly optimistic about Americans. The simplest story is that Trump is a symptom of pure racism.

Continual investigation is probably better than an impeachment that goes nowhere. The goal is to disgust Trump voters while encouraging Democrats to not skip the polls.

Notice that the orange maggot's numbers went up after his last series of tweets?

Also, sadly, I'll wager that any female candidate will do worse among Democrats than any male candidate. (There is a strain of misogyny among USians that is, if anything, stronger amongst the minority fraction of the party coalition.) Ever listened to fellow Democrats hating on Clinton while giving Biden a pass??? Ever listened to a fellow female minority Democrat who likes Trump because lies, occasional infidelity, and mild abuse remind her of her father? 'My dad was a good man - i mean - except for raping the maids - the beatings were just to maintain family order. Besides, my mom was a terrible wife. And sure, he was a bit of a crook, but still a good guy.'. 'Oh wait, Korea is part of China????@#$_&-_$#@@@!!!!!!'

Lastly, while a progressive candidate would be nice - there is a sizable Democratic contingent that is antiprogressive economically but votes purely on social issues. I suspect Kamela, Warren, or Biden with Castro as a VP pick are best case choices. And, honestly, I'd guess only Biden wins in spite of his fairly obvious failings. He'll bore Trump's base. (Because he is a boring white male)

I'd guess the highest no-deal risk is simply getting to October 31st with no progress because there is no acceptable outcome, followed by the EU eventually declaring 'gosh, you are out' on the very viable theory that a few weeks of rioting will bolster their negotiating position. Maybe around December to give an extra kick to UK retailers. I mean, I don't see Parliament passing anything but extension requests. And, well, no-deal may work out better for Brussels than May's deal. In so far as there are negotiations, after no deal, they become pretty one-sided. Better yet, if the UK breaks up, England gets the honor of being a warning. And, after London stops being a financial center, the EU gets a fair bit of extra business.

97:

I suspect you are unduly optimistic about Americans. The simplest story is that Trump is a symptom of pure racism.

In Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, the authors tells of being a Google Scholar and correlating Google keyword searches with election votes, broken down into counties.

The higher the percentage of voters in a county who actually voted for Trump (based on election results, not polling data) the more searches for "n****er jokes". (The terminal "er" included because Stephens-Davidowitz makes a point of distinguishing that terms from "n**ga".) It was, according to Stephens-Davidowitz, the most significant correlation between voting patterns and search terms.

So there is at least some data that indicates a significant positive correlation between Trump voters and a fondness for racist jokes.

Tentative hypothesis: Trump voters support him because he says what they want to say, and makes it more acceptable for them to hold the opinions they hold but previously felt constrained from expressing.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28512671-everybody-lies

98:

"I fear you are correct.

NB: Neville Chamberlain was actually good at his job; he was just out of his depth when it turned into a total war shootingfest."

This is the situation with Nancy, IMHO, except it's clear now that she's not going back home to prepare frantically for a war, but ...............

I think that it comes down to the Dem leadership being a bunch of old f*cks who either can't accept that the GOP IS SERIOUS THIS TIME, or assume that they, personally, will be OK (see Biden).

99:

"...given an opportunity to do anything but to surrender to that, or resist to the death. Both the government and people know that."

And after the Iraq slaughter, everybody in Iran knows what liberation would look like.

100:

"I think they fail to remember how certain the opposition party can usually be of increasing their seating in the House six years into a Presidency and how impeachment one month before the 1998 election seems to have changed that into Democratic gains."

And as has been pointed out, did not noticeably help the Democratic Party in '00.

101:

Consider Farage welcoming the riots, and knowing damn well that the Thin Blue Line of the Police won't hold, and that the Joint Chiefs won't play ball with his blustering demands to 'get tough'.

Exactly as he expected.

He doesn't arm the knuckledraggers of the EDL - theyy are doing sterling work with coshes, their fists, and racially-directed arson, but he doesn't actually *like* them and they're too disorganised and undisciplined to be an arm of government rather than a politically-useful terror - no, he takes up his friends' offer of help.

His friends in America, nice Mr Bannon and the hard, hard right; and the help comes in the form of Blackwater/Xe and KBR military advisors, who will be immune to prosecution for any actions against people and property.

I can see Boris doing this, too, if or when he loses control.

All the Westminster politicians have to do is keep the Army in their barracks for long enough to make it a fait accompli; our 'advisors' will get paid in land and bullion in the absence of hard currency - or subsidised by Washington, for trade concessions that are indistinguishable from economic warfare and kleptocracy - and they will not only restore order, they will ensure that free and fair elections are held every four years.

For special values of 'free and fair'.

Also: 'restore order' is a phrase best left unexamined, citizen.

102:

Bill Arnold @ 91
Keep it in the dark, or at least dim & at a stable temperature, preferably below 20 °C - & it will keep for a long enough time. After all, I keep fairly finely divided organic material ( Dried herbs ) in sealed glass jars in my pantry for a year - I've just filled my Thyme jar up, for instance ... next up - the "coarse" Oregano ... & I'll be cutting the sweet Oregano in the next week.

103:

The law was changed some years back to allow precisely that, though I can't remember under which PM.

104:

#64 - Well, that all squares with what I've heard including a sequence of events that was sort of "NC arrives Croydon and does 'Peace in our time'; Next Cabinet he says 'Well, gentlemen, I think I've bought us a year. I want your plans for re-arming at Cabinet next Tuesday'."

#66 - Eloise, if you want an example of London's fear of the SNP, just look at the Scottish Con(servatives) leaflet for the European Parliament election just gone. 2 sides of A4 which tl;dr as "Don't vote for Nicola Sturgeon because you'll be in referenda for evermore if you do".

#76 - Furthest North sea salt extraction that I know of: Saltcoats, Ayrshire, Scotland at 55.63N / 4.79W. It's fairly likely that there was also sea salt extraction in the Aberdeenshire and Moray fishing communities.

105:

There needs to be an action movie version of this where Charlie boy gets an attack of the Rambos and takes over for our own good. Of course since he has no real idea of economic realities for non-billionaires it doesn't end well...

Re bombs - while he might get away with using nuclear weapons, I don't think anyone has been quite stupid enough to give him an easy route to putting his finger on the button. Though that might change if he was supreme ruler or whatever.

106:

I'm replying to both bits. I've never made ricotta sallata, the amounts of ricotta I make are small enough it's not worth it to me - I eat the ricotta fast enough. If you've got any kind of reliable heat source it should be good though.

I have used citric acid, I prefer the taste with lemon juice, but I happen to live in a world where it's often easier to get pure citric acid than lemon juice. My partner works in a lab and diagnostic quality citric acid is easy to find. You need about a 0.35M solution to get the pH right.

107:

For Another take on BOZO becoming PM ... try this little piece from Diamond Geezer ...

108:

I will be getting all my information from newsthump until this crisis passes.

109:

Semi-apocalyptic scenario #321:
In 2024 America elects new president, a scandal ensues and the government collapses. But several years later after further economic and institutional collapse nobody can reliably tell who the president was, or who the candidates were, or what biography they've had, because of the amount of controversy spread in media and also targeted misinformation. As it turns out, everybody quite literally live in parallel mutually exclusive universes and backup documentation is wiped clean or encrypted.

All that, and also because of huge "extraterrestrial alien invasion" hoax happening at the same time, when people from security, intelligence and defense agencies all over the world are virtually doing insane trying to figure out who is bullshitting who and what part of it is connected to reality. I mean, of course, if this new "Area 51" meme will at some point run out of control...

I actually thinking about including this as a plot point in my literary works, if I ever manage to finish at least one in my lifetime.

110:

Much sympathy to you all.

Any chance of a recall vote, or something of that sort?

111:

Considering how much of an attention whore "Herr Drumph!" is, the ascension of the orange misfortune may inspire enough interesting "Hold my beer!" moments to rival Norman Spinrad's "World War Last". I hope we all live long enough to laugh about it.

112:

Well, it is possible to hold a vote of no confidence, but even if that were successful it just gets him fired rather than actually doing anything useful about the clusterburach.

113:

"Whoops Apocalypse . . . starred such luminaries as John Cleese and Barry Morse"

Must see! Monty Python meets Space:1999! Hmm, Netflix or Amazon?

114:

Any actual fix requires stopping the flow of money into politics.

Which Parliament could do, had it the mind and will to do so.

It's easy to joke about Her Britannic Majesty deciding to go all "we are not amused" but all the really interesting bits of relatively recent -- post Orange William -- British history involve Parliament getting behind someone not much burdened by doubt. For the pro-Brexit money faction, this is one of the risks of a prolonged Brexit process and one reason the official Brexit line comes down to "right now, right away".

It isn't any sort of likely just right now, but it gets much more likely given a collapse of civic order in a no-deal scenario.

115:

The trouble with your scenario is that the US government can't collapse—there's no constitutional mechanism for it!

Individual officials can be impeached, imprisoned, or die and not be replaced (although the office of POTUS has continuity-of-governance defined so tightly that after you wipe out about a dozen of them it devolves onto some unelected civil servant) … but the election cycle runs on autopilot on a four year rhythm. Right now about half the cabinet posts in the US government are vacant—that's just how incompetent Trump is, he can't even find placeholders for offices of state—and yet the departments under them keep ticking over.

In every other respect your scenario sounds frighteningly plausible ...

116:

I dunno, are the 0.1% an "ethnic"? If not, there's a group that could use cleansing....

"You! Outta the gene pool, NOW!"

117:

Right. And as I noted about, the result of that failed impeachment led to those two great terms President Al Gore.

IT DOESN'T BLOODY MATTER: he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, it's her JOB to impeach.

And while we're at it, I need to write a bill to give to my Congresscritter and Senators, that reads,
A Nation of Laws, Not Men.

In furtherance of the settled principle of "no one is above the law', if a prosecutor finds sufficient evidence to indict and prosecute any appointed or elected official, including the President or Vice President, they are required by their Oath of Office to lay such charges before the court.

118:

Not so funny.

On the one hand, they can also go after you with vehicles.

On the other hand, they have to get a *lot* closer with edged weaponry than with a firearm.

And on the other, other hand... have I mentioned I used to fight heavy in the SCA, and yes, I *do* know how to use my (real) sword, and a mace, could use my 3lb hammer as a war hammer/mace....

But I'd rather just set up a guillotine on the Mall, once that two-year backorder on tumbrels comes through.

119:

YES!!!

Oh, and by '72, 16.33% of the federal revenue stream was from income taxes, and 25% from corporate taxes.

For reference, it's now 44% from income taxes, and 10% from corporate taxes.

120:

I can't wait until the first BoJo-Trump summit (damn, I just threw up in my mouth a little).

121:

We don't have a constitutional mechanism for no monarch, either, but have achieved it a few times. And, yes, while departments CAN keep things going, there comes a point when they collapse, too.

It could collapse in the sense that it cannot agree on anything, nobody is taking any notice of the POTUS and the other rabble, the departments have no money, and there is no actual governing.

I can also imagine another dodgy election, with the Supremes failing to make a decision, or the majority wanting to overturn it and being ignored by the chief justice and the executive, and two people claim to be POTUS.

Oh, yes, in theory, neither can happen - but ....

122:

On the one hand, the US gov't simply won't collapse like that. Well over 200 years of bureaucracy will keep it going, and we have, in the Constitution, a clear line of succession (for example, if one of those asteroids I keep calling on finally hits Mar-a-Lago with the Malignant Carcinoma and Pence both there, we have President Pelosi, no ifs, ands, or buts. (Besides, the meteor was clearly not just an Act of God (tm), but the deity's opinion).

On the other... I don't think everybody, but large groups with mutually-incompatible realities, and the Area 51/fake Alien Invasion... or, in some mix of those realities, was it a *real* invasion?

Please do, I want to read it.

I have to admit that one of my favorite stories is Butterfly Kid, by Anderson, from the late sixties. Non-violent aliens (resembling 6' blue lobsters) are busy conquering the universe: they come to an inhabited planet, figure out a way to destabilize civilization, arrive to restore order... and by the time the planet realizes it's been invaded, it's too late.

UNFORTUNATELY, they hit us, and they decide that a little blue pill that gets you high, and also produces material hallucinations that last as long as you're high, that have effects in the physical world.

And they're testing it by having a human drone selling them, or giving them away... in Greenwich Village in the late '60s.

123:

whitroth
But a Trunpeachment will almost guarantee his re-election.
Pelosi can see this & so can I - can you not?
MUCH better to wipe him out in 2020 & send him to jail ... permanently

EC @ 121
And, yes, while departments CAN keep things going, there comes a point when they collapse, too.
NornIron for example ... it's a very bitter farce

124:

No, the departments in Norn Iron have not collapsed, and they are kept going (after a fashion) by direct funding - if that were pulled, THEN it would be the scenario I describe. It's happened elsewhere and elsewhen, often enough.

125:

All that, and also because of huge "extraterrestrial alien invasion" hoax happening at the same time, when people from security, intelligence and defense agencies all over the world are virtually doing insane trying to figure out who is bullshitting who and what part of it is connected to reality.
The larger joke is that the hoaxes are deliberately seeded by aliens and made to look like hoaxes (for reasons!), and there are many aliens (from a HSS point of view), but they're not precisely invaders. One or a few are genuinely local and have been around for a long time, say approximately 4.5 billion years, waiting for a tech civilization to spontaneously develop with not much to do except tinker occasionally with biology in a deniable way. Motives, old and not clear. Another contingent is relative newbies that appeared shortly after the first large brained megafauna appeared, and the dominant ones are in late-stage slaveholder phase as a local population of a particular species with acceptably large brains spikes up and local tech improves to the point of being an emerging threat to them. Another contingent evolved and transcended elsewhere in the multiverse and they are benevolent ethical busybodies bouncing around similar points in parallel timelines looking for emerging tech civilizations and the associated crunch time. etc. (This is just one thread of variations. There are grimdarker threads.)

because of the amount of controversy spread in media and also targeted misinformation. As it turns out, everybody quite literally live in parallel mutually exclusive universes and backup documentation is wiped clean or encrypted.
Not gonna happen, too many backups. (The large-scale Russian efforts in this area are not helping. (This goes back decades.) Others are at fault as well but Russia is a very big and skilled player. The positive side is that people and orgs around the world are developing skills at identifying and spiking influence operations (including misinformation) real-time.)

126:

to Charlie Stross
The trouble with your scenario is that the US government can't collapse—there's no constitutional mechanism for it!
TBH, that I would not understand good enough to implement in practice, because at the time I was thinking of large-empire-type collapse, not entirely different from Rome or USSR, except USSR wasn't really a federation and rather a confederation of smaller more autonomous republics. I imagine the same wouldn't work for more solid federation of US for whatever reason - but OTOH this plot point was a minor one and could be skimmed over somewhat. The novel I was thinking about, actually takes place almost 15 years after that in entirely different part of the world.

to whitroth @122
I did write some sort of "test" work for myself about 2 years ago, but there were some problems with resolving the plot and I got bored and didn't finish it at practically 2/3 complete (20 000 words). I needed to clean up a plotline a bit to avoid unnecessary information dumps and therefore resolve the story climax part, but I guess I just got too distracted and delved into half-dozen other more interesting scenarios. And it's not the first time it happens to me when I have something to write down.

Other problem of course is that it was fairly easy to me to write it in my native language, and direct translation to English would be marginally possible with some idioms replaced - but my initial target audience isn't well-represented in my country, I guess. So, I got stalled eventually, and after that I came up with more structured narrative for something entirely different... But anyway, thanks for the encouragement, I think I need to try and review my text once again.

I don't think everybody, but large groups with mutually-incompatible realities, and the Area 51/fake Alien Invasion... or, in some mix of those realities, was it a *real* invasion?
That is, actually, a pretty ironical - a part that I was concerned with later on. (Did I mention I get distracted easily?) It is about a view on aliens not as actual little green men but rather creatures of pure information or something similar. So nope, everybody are pretty sure it wasn't really aliens that caused the collapse of the world as we know it and then rebuilding of it, and they aren't nowhere near the Earth at the time. However in the same plotline, eventually, almost 50 years later there's a huge spoiler, akin to the that interesting part at the end of Neuromancer trilogy, where main characters decide to visit aliens by themselves.

127:

And I say NO IT WON'T. The Reptilians tried to impeach Clinton, and failed. Did you miss where we had two fucking terms of the Shrub in the US? GOP all the way?

Even if it fails, it will piss off everyone not in his base that the GOP refused to punish his criminality, and they'll turn out for the Dems.

128:

#33 (?) A faction of fanatical Remainers discover that due to an error in the marriage agreement of Charles and Camilla, the children of the Duchess of Cornwell from her prior marriage have been entered into the succession. They declare mildy charming food writer and TV personality Tom Parker-Bowles King Thomas, and have him cancel Brexit. Ultra-Leavers suddenly acquire a great affection for Cromwell and the declare Rees-Mogg Lord Protector.

129:

Graydon @ 21: I'm pretty sure Farage wants the tax status he thinks royalty ought to have. Pretty sure whoever thinks Farage is working for them is wrong, and medium-sure he's way over on the "evil" end of "stupid or evil?"

Stupid or Evil is not really an either/or proposition. Our own DIS-illustrious That Very Bad, Unpleasant Man® narcissistic-sociopath ASSHOLE "president" has proven repeatedly it's quite possible to be BOTH extremely stupid AND extremely evil at the same time.

130:

Before I let myself get too worried about Charlie's prognostications I try to remember that in the past he's had to scrap an entire novel into which a lot of hard work had passed because the Real World made it look safe and cozy while he was writing it.

I'd like to take the attitude that the plucky Brits will find their own way out of the mess but events over on this side of the pond make me wonder whether Buckinghamshire might actually be safer than Indiana, at least in the medium term. I've managed to halfway convince myself that the Orange Gibbon truely is a Russian agent following a plan to dismember the country through racism-inspired civil war, with the UK as a precursor to try out technique and practice disinformation, confusion and disorientation (I suspect Alfred Bester might recognize things.)

Is there any event or combination of events which would cause British royalty to at least offer an opinion? If not, do they own overseas properties to which they could decamp and offer at least a smidgen of warning?

131:

Well, it is possible to hold a vote of no confidence

Right, that’s the term I couldn’t think of this morning(too early), and is mentioned in the OP, as well as several comments.

132:

Paul @ 27: While some kind of military engagement in the Gulf is very possible, I don't see the UK military engaging in the kind of brain-dead strategy you envisage in Wildcard#2. Boris may be an idiot, but the Chiefs of Defence Staff and the rest of the MOD are not. If the UK does get involved in military action then Iran will lose it. The problem will be what happens next; Iran is constitutionally incapable of making peace with us (c/f the Americans and the Clan in their little nuclear exchange), so the most likely outcome is that the Straits of Hormuz are closed to shipping while a nasty little war develops between Saudi Arabia and Iran. See this interesting article for an explanation of why Saudi Arabia is likely to do badly despite having so much more money to throw at the problem.

In the long run this might actually be a good thing. If Saudi oil fields are closed the West will be forced to confront its addiction to oil, which will hopefully hasten the move towards greener alternatives. Of course in the short run its going to be a second.

I think the next logical step is for the UK & other cooperating navies to organize escorted convoys through the straits of Hormuz. I don't know if the Royal Navy and/or other cooperating navies (which COULD include the U.S.) have enough small warships to handle the job. My understanding of the problem this past weekend was the Royal Navy ship HMS Montrose was too far away to take any effective action. It looks like it's going to require escorts in close proximity & that suggests convoying them.

Hopefully, having escorts close by would act as a deterrent to further Iranian piracy, but if it doesn't, I don't see anything wrong with the Royal Navy sinking Iranian pirates or shooting down their assaulting helicopters.

133:

David L @ 35: She's far more concerned about challenges to Control Of The Party from her left to actually do anything about Trump.

That's just the appearance. She actually is concerned about loosing the House again in 2020. The left of her "fight every battle to the death" doesn't understand national politics at all.

Still, doing nothing is just as much a loser as doing too much. Which is worse? Losing the House in 2020 because they stood up to Trump's bullying or losing the house in 2020 because they caved in to it?

Sometimes, you got to say, "NO MORE! This is where I stand. Win or lose, this is principle we have to fight for!"

134:

A useful precedent?
HM asks BOZO to form a viable government BEFORE becoming PM - as was previously done in 1964 - so, yes there is precedent!

135:

"Defense"?

Charlie, how could you?

136:

Is there any event or combination of events which would cause British royalty to at least offer an opinion?

I really really hope not!

The British constitutional framework is rickety and fragile enough without succumbing to reflexive worship of royalty. It has horrible failure modes—just look at Thailand for a worked example.

I note that it seems to be mostly Americans who want the Queen to dive in and save us from ourselves. I ascribe this to the weird, anachronistic role of the US president, who is basically a late 18th century British monarch with added term limits (because that's the office the constitutional framers modeled the role on).

Really, the only useful intervention the monarch could make would be to advise a PM who has dug himself into a hole to do the right thing for the country and call an election. And they're bloody unlikely to do that unless it's glaringly obvious that the PM is frozen in the headlights of a crisis and needs a gentle push to do the right thing.

137:

Hopefully, having escorts close by would act as a deterrent to further Iranian piracy, but if it doesn't, I don't see anything wrong with the Royal Navy sinking Iranian pirates or shooting down their assaulting helicopters.

The Strait of Hormuz, at its narrowest point, is about 21 nautical miles wide.

Iran operates the P-270 Moskit, which can be fired from TELARs hundreds of kilometers away and flies fast enough to cross the entire width of the strait in roughly 20 seconds.

If the Iranians get really angry, rather than mildly irritated and sending their equivalent of the Coast Guard to take a ship into port for inspection, the technical term for a destroyer/frigate in the Strait of Hormuz is a "target".

138:

Also, I will bet a dollar to a dime that most of Europe is unimpressed by, er, Prunt's request because they quite rightly feel that the UK started the piracy, and it's a purely UK/Iran row. Let's see whether Bozo resolves the situation or makes it worse - few commentators are prepared even to guess which.

139:

Isn't our system (as currently implemented) much like a late 18th century British monarch, subject to not pissing off his own party enough for them to vote themselves out of office, and conditional term limits (i.e. the limit applies only if the voters then choose some other party or parties?)

Frankly, it's a choice among rotten apples.

140:

IT DOESN'T BLOODY MATTER: he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, it's her JOB to impeach.

Well, let's look at the consequences: either Agent Orange is impeached, at which point Tuppence becomes President (and he doesn't seem to have understood The Book he yammers on about following), and Agent Orange is free to run for President again.

And if the impeachment fails (which is guaranteed at this point), Trump's base is energized and his opponents are demoralized.

--or--

Someone does a thorough congressional investigation of the executive branch that distracts the hell out of the White House, much as they're trying to distract the hell out of the democrats at the moment. This mucks up the Orange campaign, while disgusting his supporters.

Then Agent Orange loses the election.

One minute after his successor is inaugurated, the Southern District of New York AG serves a warrant on the entire Orange family aside from Barron, confiscates their passports as they are very definitely flight risks, and serves up charges on *every crime they committed while Agent Orange was in office, if not before.* Then there's a long, very thorough trial, with Agent Orange held in solitary confinement for his own protection and to keep him from running (he's a billionaire; he's got esoteric ways of doing a runner). Presuming he's convicted, he serves his term (I can pray at Rikers, but we'll see) in solitary, also for his own protection. Ditto for The Vile Offspring and Their Spouses. Meanwhile, lawsuits claw into whatever fortune and assets he has, to make people whole again.

Now, do you really want them spending our energy on an impeachment?

141:

If the Iranians get really angry...

As in, the Royal Navy violates the UNCLOS provisions for transit of territorial waters by a warship? The Iranians waited for the Royal Navy to violate the transit provisions for commerce off Gibraltar before they did the same thing in Hormuz. I note that HMS Montrose wasn't "too late", they were just too late to do anything without entering Iranian waters under conditions that would have been a pretty clear violation of the treaty terms. Someone in the chain of command -- wisely, IMO -- chose not to start another round of escalation.

142:

Not opening the impeachment proceedings is dereliction of duty and renders them complicit.

It's not at all likely they're going to win the presidency in 2020 because the US does not have fair elections and the state GOP parties will do anything to keep the ethnic cleansing going.

The point, the policy, the whatever you want to call it is to abolish amendments 13 through 17 and 19. I'm sure they'd prefer de jure but de facto will do. The idea that they're playing the same game or accepting the same rules is pretty nonsensical.

Almost all the time, politics is the art of the possible. Sometimes -- and this is absolutely one of those times; climate change would make it so if the current US government were saints and marvels -- politics is about necessity.

Some things it is necessary to oppose.

143:

I find myself conflicted. I look forward to OGH's next post on Brexit and related topics, right until he puts them up. Then I'm horribly depressed for days.

144:

The way it collapses is another “shutdown” where Congress can’t agree on a funding bill that the President will sign, or that enough of them will support to override a veto. Keep it up long enough and bureaucrats start to quit because they need to eat. Eventually not enough people are left who know how things work to restore the system even if the funding comes back.

Having that actually happen requires a combination of stubbornness and stupidity no worse than what the U.K. Parliament has demonstrated while failing to deal with Brexit.

145:

It would be cool if the vote of no confidence was the very first motion after BJ takes office. Maybe they could set a record for shortest PM term, measured in minutes.

146:

* Has had repeated affairs - I don't intend to judge this morally, but from the national security standpoint of having a PM vulnerable to blackmail.

How do you blackmail someone over something everyone knows he does and assumes he's done more of than is already known, and many admire him for doing? It's like blackmailing Trump over having sex with prostitutes, or Duterte for murder... what are you going to reveal, exactly?

147:

So you're saying you don't just want justice, for you it has to be a particular procedure, even though you already know going in that said procedure will not render justice due to the way the court is stacked?

Come on, this is America. Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion, not for all the other stuff he did. If Trump spends the rest of his life in jail for raping girls alongside Epstein, he spends the rest of his life in jail, regardless if it's that or breaking the emoluments clause.

The principle I'd like to see formed, since Obama never bothered, was that presidents are always liable for their acts, once they leave office. He let a bunch of war criminals walk free, and it set a very bad precedent.

148:

jrootham @ 72: Trump certainly has committed impeachable offences.
Even more than Nixon. However, the politics are different.

An impeachment in the House that fails in the Senate is not helpful. See Clinton, William.

That's no excuse for failing to perform due diligence in the House's oversight role. They should be moving ahead with public hearings and accumulating the evidence. Do that and eventually the weight that evidence may overwhelm even the most Neanderthal GOPer (rhymes with groper).

149:

Gerald Fnord @ 79: Thank-you.

…though I'm sure that particular zombie economic hypothesis will keep shambling on, it's just too pleasant a notion for those with the money to promote it.

Meanwhile, perfectly, the current Administration have given the Medal of Freedom to Arthur Laffer.

Maybe what we need instead of the "Medal of Freedom" is a "Medal of FREE LUNCH" just as a reminder there ain't no such thing.

150:

Heteromeles @ 93: Well, impeaching the current US president is impossible. It has to be done by the senate, and they've pretty much indicated that Agent Orange could commit sexual mutilations on the corpse of a dead scout and post the video, and they'd stand by him so long as they thought his base had his back.

That's not how it works. Impeachment is strictly a power held by the House of Representatives. But after a President is impeached, he is tried in the Senate where it takes 2/3 majority [67 votes currently] to convict & remove from office.

The GOPers (rhymes with gropers) DID impeach Clinton. What they were unable to do was CONVICT him in the Senate and remove him from office. It seems unlikely that the Senate as currently constructed would convict Trump, but that doesn't mean he can't be Impeached, or that just because Mad Mitch won't convict him that he shouldn't be Impeached. There's something to be said for standing on principle.

It's been said that if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything ... and I believe that's true.

151:

Greg Tingey @ 107: For Another take on BOZO becoming PM ... try this little piece from Diamond Geezer ...

Do you think he (whoever he happens to be) could try just a little bit harder to make his text completely unreadable?

152:

I absolutely don't want justice; I can't define it. (it's about like trying to be good.)

I want the ethnic cleansing to stop prior to a general collapse into genocide, which is where it's going, very much on the Rwandan model rather than the Nazi one.

Absent something approximating a mass popular movement, Trump will certainly be reelected if they live that long. The US does not have free or fair elections and the number of states that can not return for Trump is not sufficiently great for any other outcome. (Same thing as Bush fils, only this time the actors poised to exploit the complete lack of audit anywhere in the election process are much more capable and overt.) Absent at least one of sustained public opposition by the Democratic Congress to Trump -- an unrelenting advocacy of the rule of law, which is about the only plausible angle upon which anybody can support the notional status quo -- or a comprehensive collapse of governmental legitimacy followed by a sustained demand for change on the order of continuous general strikes (what Puerto Rico is trying to do), no such mass public movement will appear on sufficient scale.

In less words, the only alternative to the civil war you almost already have -- there's ongoing organised efforts to prevent the function of entire government agencies -- is for the plausibly legitimate extant machinery of government to solve the problem. Since there's a great deal of sincere disagreement about the nature of the problem, that's not anything like a sure thing but it's plausible. (Demonstrating leadership when people are scared goes a long way.) The pretence of business as usual and throwing everything on a certainly corrupt election does not suffice the circumstances.

Only Pelosi is old and affluent and can't bring themself to do something that will certainly destroy the status quo, because the status quo is something they believe in. (The Squad will subject the status quo to breaking on the wheel if that's what it takes, and this explains nigh-all of Pelosi's hostility toward them.)

153:

Charlie Stross @ 115: The trouble with your scenario is that the US government can't collapse—there's no constitutional mechanism for it!

"Constitutional" is what the Supreme Court says is Constitutional ... Bush v. Gore; Citizens United v. FEC; Shelby County v. Holder ... Dred Scott v. Sanford... need I go on?

154:

Heteromeles @ 140:

"IT DOESN'T BLOODY MATTER: he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, it's her JOB to impeach."

Well, let's look at the consequences: either Agent Orange is impeached, at which point Tuppence becomes President (and he doesn't seem to have understood The Book he yammers on about following), and Agent Orange is free to run for President again.

And if the impeachment fails (which is guaranteed at this point), Trump's base is energized and his opponents are demoralized.

You're still confusing Impeachment in the House of Representatives with trial, conviction & removal from office in the Senate. Pence doesn't become President UNLESS Trump is CONVICTED & removed from office by the Senate.

At that point Trump would be FOREVER barred from holding ANY "office of trust under the United States Constitution". That's just the way it works ... is supposed to work. Anyway, that's what the Constitution says is supposed to happen.

Given the current makeup of the United States Senate, Conviction & removal are highly unlikely, but it's not a foregone conclusion.

When the Watergate hearings started in Congress, no one would have been willing to say that Nixon could be impeached - he'd won reelection by the greatest one-sided electoral majority in American history up to that point - much less convicted & removed from office.

But the evidence that came out of the Watergate hearings convinced Goldwater and other Republican leadership that not only COULD Nixon be impeached, it was highly likely that he WOULD be impeached ... impeached, tried AND CONVICTED & removed from office. They didn't want to go there, but they were convinced the political landscape had changed sufficiently that it was no longer in their favor to resist impeachment. Opposing impeachment would cost them far more than standing firm with Nixon. That's what the current GOPer (rhymes with groper) leadership in the Senate has to be convinced of.

The problem with Pelosi is not that she won't go ahead with impeachment, she won't even go ahead with the necessary oversight hearings that could produce the evidence to justify impeachment. Or they might produce evidence that does NOT justify impeachment.

We just don't know, because Pelosi won't conduct the oversight hearings that could tell us.

And sometimes, win or lose, you have to stand on principle. I think that's where we're headed, but does she have the backbone to draw a line in the sand; to say "NO MORE SURRENDER"?

--or--

Someone does a thorough congressional investigation of the executive branch that distracts the hell out of the White House, much as they're trying to distract the hell out of the democrats at the moment. This mucks up the Orange campaign, while disgusting his supporters.

Then Agent Orange loses the election.

One minute after his successor is inaugurated, the Southern District of New York AG serves a warrant on the entire Orange family aside from Barron, confiscates their passports as they are very definitely flight risks, and serves up charges on *every crime they committed while Agent Orange was in office, if not before.* Then there's a long, very thorough trial, with Agent Orange held in solitary confinement for his own protection and to keep him from running (he's a billionaire; he's got esoteric ways of doing a runner). Presuming he's convicted, he serves his term (I can pray at Rikers, but we'll see) in solitary, also for his own protection. Ditto for The Vile Offspring and Their Spouses. Meanwhile, lawsuits claw into whatever fortune and assets he has, to make people whole again.

Now, do you really want them spending our energy on an impeachment?

The problem with Pelosi right now is she is NOT going forward with the Congressional investigations. She's not standing up for Congress as a CO-EQUAL branch of government ... or the House as EQUAL to the Senate.

Another problem you're ignoring is What happens when DT loses the election in 2020, but declares it was a rigged election? NULL & VOID; Fake News! Stolen by Hispanics and other ILLEGAL NON-White immigrants!

What happens when Mad Mitch; the Wicked Witch of the East and the GOPers (rhymes with gropers) in the Senate back his play? How does it play out in the Supreme Court?

Does Pelosi have the fortitude needed to lead that fight? That's where I think the comparison to Chamberlain holds true. He didn't have the fortitude to lead the fight when it came.

155:

Heteromeles @ 147: So you're saying you don't just want justice, for you it has to be ...

Bullshit STRAWMAN argument.

156:

Oh, come on. For a U.S. President, being a war criminal is part of the job definition. Yes, some are worse than others -- crimes, and presidents -- but surely nobody since Machiavelli can entertain fantasies of the virtuous ruler. Looking at English history, it wasn't till Walpole in the 1700s that a minister could lose power without facing execution, prison, or exile, and it's pretty generally since been seen as an improvement. Though I do admit that Trump is giving that proposition a torture test, so to speak.

157:

Some comments on the discussion. As a disclaimer I would like to point out that I am not from USA or UK.

I would be quite surprised if even hard Brexit would cause serious problems with food or medical supplies. That is assuming that there is real intent to avoid them. Just declare that UK will not perform any border control for some time (in order to sort out an efficient system during that time). Importing stuff should not be difficult to solve.

Having the problems on purpose is another issue entirely.

The overall economic craziness of a hard Brexit is a completely another issue.

On USA and Trump... As a part of my job I have been participated some analysis of US politics. It seems to me that Democrats and other people who dislike Trump and his policy tend not to recognize that Trump is giving his base what he promised.

Trump promised to turn US law more conservative and more political. Done (look at the appointment of judges all around).

Trump promised to make government smaller. Done (by not appointing people to many positions and rolling back regulations).

Trump promised to do something on immigration. Done.

Etc...

Although Trump regime appears chaotic and dysfunctional, he has been quite active on several real issues. His regime seems to be a very ideological one. Heartland's voters will get what they wanted (ultra-conservative, evangelical interpretation of law, less government, political tools like gerrymandering in order to keep non-white people in check, etc).

If getting those ideological ideas fulfilled means worse healthcare for the people living in Heartland and zero taxes for the rich, well, you know that sacrifices have to be made in order to get something you really want.

158:
Just declare that UK will not perform any border control for some time
... No. I honestly cannot articulate what a horrible idea that would be -- even worse than no deal.
159:

Yes, having practically no border control for imports has apparently been a real disaster for e.g. Luxembourg.

But you are right, bad phrasing from my part. Being lax on import control is not the same as having no border controls at all.

160:

Briefly on the subject of U.S. impeachment:

The House can open an Impeachment Inquiry without having to impeach. This dials their oversight powers up to 11, and some of the crap Trump is currently pulling stops being legal.

The House can decide not to impeach even after opening an Impeachment Inquiry. This is the basis on which any arguments over impeachment must occur. Consider what happens if Trump is constitutionally unable to, for example, claim executive privilege, but Pelosi doesn't have to have a vote - the relative advantages shift dramatically.

Also, the time for an impeachment inquiry to begin is probably after the Orange Shitgibbeon signs the current budget.

Further, if the House finds a lot of really, really bad stuff, and the Senate refuses to find Trump guilty, (probably on a party-line vote) then the Senate looks bad, so there's this issue to consider as well. Essentially, the current arguments on the subject are not terribly well-informed on either side.

Sorry for the brevity and any poor communication - I really don't have much time for composition tonight.

161:
The House can decide not to impeach even after opening an Impeachment Inquiry

5-4 odds that SCOTUS would rule that the 5th amendment applies to impeachment Republican Presidents, and thus attempting to impeach him once means they could not do so again for the same acts.

162:

Diamond Geezer does it again A must-read for black humour, I'm afraid ....
AND
... JBS @ 151
If you object that much - try CTRL+C & copy to another window!

& @ 153
I knew about Dred Scott & Citizens United - I had to look up "Shelby/Holder" - yuck.
I assume that IF the "D's" win in 2020, the latter two need over-writing by Act of Congress - immediately?

Graydon @ 142
Even if you are correct about "Amendments 13 - 19" - & you may be ...
That's not the point.
Even with the rigging & gerrymandering, at presnet the R's are going to lose everything in 2020 - UNLESS there are impeachment proceedings going on - at which point you will get another 4 years of the shitgibbon.
Trump WANTS an impeachment process, so he can energise his base & if very "lucky" get a state of Emergency declared .....
Don't go there - heteromeles is correct!

... @ 152
REALLY - is it really that bad - you don't think the "D's" can win in 2020 AT ALL?
I thought that the rigging could be swamped if enough people came out - with pitchforks, if necessary.
there's ongoing organised efforts to prevent the function of entire government agencies
Yes, we've noticed that - why? What's the point - what's the "profit" in it for them in doing so - please explain.

RvdH @ 145
VERY unlikey
The best time for a "No Confidence" vote is early September - call General Election & BEG "Brussels" for an extension - which I think they would give at that point - they know how many peole here think Brexit is a disaster, after all ...

Troutwaxer @ 160
POINT
Open enquiries - into the Shitgibbon's Impeachment ... & just keep the enquiries going until the election ... nice one, like it!

163:

I'm not even sure I like the Aster 30's chances that much. It's not clear how many Moskit launchers Iran has, but the UK can put at most 144 A-30s ready to launch in theatre, at which point we get a potential for a "Weber scenario" under which the T-45s can be fired dry and in the Gulf...

164:

I suspect that if you were to attempt to import something from outside the EU into Luxembourg airport you would not find lax border controls. Which is not to say that if you had the right paperwork filed it wouldn't be a quick and simple process, but that's not the same thing as lax.

Inside the EU is a different matter. No border controls when there are bloc-wide systems for tracking goods and services with regulations for quality and safety.

165:

Iran will have very few Moskit missiles and launchers. They're very big and very expensive, intended to mission-kill CVNs if not sink them outright. Silkworm, Exocet and missiles in that class are another matter and they will deal with destroyers and frigates quite well. Saying that the Type 45 destroyers (which mass more than most WWII light cruisers) are 21st century fighting ships with a low radar profile and modern electronic countermeasures whereas Silkworm and other 20th century anti-shipping missiles are quite dumb comparatively speaking.

Aster 30 is really intended for airborne threats rather than missiles and no-one really thinks the Iranians have much of a fixed-wing attack capability. Helicopters are a possible airborne threat.

It's notable that a lot of the Royal Navy's minesweeping capability is currently in or around the Gulf area which indicates what sort of threat is taken most seriously by tactical planners.

166:

Nojay
They only have to blow ONE right out of the water, to, erm, "dissuade" anybody from beiong stupid enough to try again, though, don't they?

167:

How do you blackmail someone over something everyone knows he does and assumes he's done more of than is already known, and many admire him for doing?

Boris is known/suspected of having fathered children with women he's had affairs with; the underreported (except in Private Eye) thing about his shouting match with current gf. Carrie Symonds is allegedly something to do with Boris having decided to trade Carrie (age 31, Public Relations manager) in for a younger model (in both senses of the word).

In point of fact, when Paddy Ashdown (now deceased, former Lib Dem leader) was revealed to have had a long-standing affair in the early noughties his polling figures rose.

Cheating on your spouse is basically as unexceptional among British politicians these days as it used to be among the French (remember Francois Mitterand's state funeral, when his wife, mistress, and their children all attended together?).

What would it take to be blackmailable in the UK, given that even fucking a dead pig's face didn't destabilize Cameron? I'm guessing supplying Class A drugs (not just consuming them but actual dealing, on a large scale), having an extramarital arrangement involving underage prostitutes, substantiated claims of rape, and actually going through with a threat to have a journalist's legs broken (Boris merely bloviated and threatened it).

NB: these guidelines apply to Eton/Oxford/Union/Tory MP overlord caste members only. To the rest of us, they're a lot less forgiving.

168:

The principle I'd like to see formed, since Obama never bothered, was that presidents are always liable for their acts, once they leave office. He let a bunch of war criminals walk free, and it set a very bad precedent.

I hate to bring this up, but Obama committed war crimes, too. He gets a pass for the extrajudicial execution of Osama bin Laden only because ObL was a quintessential Emmanuel Goldstein figure, easily depicted as a monster: I'd be a lot happier if he'd been captured alive and dumped on the doorstep of the ICC in Brussels to face trial for crimes against humanity. But that's not how Empire rolls, and the US executive branch exercises imperial power with global reach.

Every US president since Truman has, outside of a declared war or a UN authorized engagement, authorized the perpetration of crimes against humanity. Initially the Cold War was used as a justification, but since 1991 they haven't even bothered with that excuse.

(I am not going to get into the similar but smaller-scale crimes authorized by British Prime Ministers, although they usually got some sort of judicial approval or legal opinion first—but Tony Blair should definitely be up in front of the ICC over his involvement in Iraq.)

169:

Point taken, but: Silkworm can still kill a Type-45 if it isn't intercepted, so if a Silkworm pops up on radar it will be engaged. Rinse, spin, repeat until the Type-45 is low on ammo, then shoot a Moskit at it.

This is the scary scenario the RN planners have to have a solution in mind for before they can send a Type-45 destroyer in, because we don't have very many of them and they're very expensive (and also prone to crapping out if the water temperature gets too hot for their heat exchangers).

The problem with the Strait of Hormuz is that in a UK/Iran confrontation there's no way for Iran to defeat the UK but no way for the UK to "win" a war with Iran. (We're going to throw a couple of hundred Tomahawks at them, then send our entire 80,000 strong army to occupy … the Persian Empire?) And it could easily break the RN—not for a few years, but in perpetuity (depending how reckless BoJo is about throwing good ships after sunk ones).

170:

It worries me that people seem to think that Trump will definitely be defeated in 2020. People like Seymour Hersh think that the chances of him winning re-election under the current system are very good indeed. Even Doonesbury is raising the spectre of a Trump re-election, albeit for comic effect: "Always bet on the cornered rat" indeed.

The 2020 election will be even more corrupt than usual. If one side (mostly) plays fair, and the other goes all-in on voter suppression, vote tampering and electoral fraud, I can easily see Trump hanging around until January 20th, 2025. Unless a heart attack / stroke / whatever gets him, which is possible since he doesn't take care of himself. Of course, DJT's father lived on into his 90s, so health crisis-removal isn't something to count on.

171:

Yep. And it’s treating ObL and AK as a warring actor on the world stage that got us where we are today. It legitimized the AK organization as having parity with a nation state. Which is exactly what ObL wanted. Better that they’d been charged and treated as criminals, and the whole issue treated as a policing exercise. Pizdets.

172:

Speaking as an armchair dilettante rather than someone who's seen the invoices and the CIA reports of what the Iranians have on hand, any Moskits they have would be kept back for the real targets, an American CVBG which would have to be flooded with multiple missiles to get one Moskit through the defence screen. Frankly I don't really see the US putting a CVN at risk in tight water close to a hostile shore like the Straits of Hormuz. A CVN's job is to stand way off in blue water and deliver air power inland using the range of its embarked planes to stay out of trouble as much as possible.

There are several problems on the Iranian side of things -- missiles degrade in storage, the batteries die, the rocket motor material ages (it's stable but it's still made from very active chemicals with lots of bonds that will break given time, heat, cosmic rays etc.) They need a lot of TLC and I'm not sure any Moskits they might have are actually flight-ready or reliable. The other thing is that Moskit has a great reputation on paper and they've been fired in tests but whether they are actually the "carrier-killer" they claim to be has never actually been proven.

Silkworm and Exocet are simpler dumber missiles, within the capabilities of the Iranians to maintain and upgrade or even copy and roll their own versions. Moskit with its sea-skimming Mach 3 flight profile is something else.

173:

Frankly I don't really see the US putting a CVN at risk in tight water close to a hostile shore like the Straits of Hormuz.

They don't need to: the Strait is only about 90nm long, which is well within the flight range of an unrefueled F/A-18. The CVN is more likely to stooge around in the waters outside, providing air cover for the B-52s and B-2s that do the real work of taking out Iranian coastal defenses before they throw the USMC into the meat grinder—

No, wait, you're going to invade the Persian Empire? Pull the other one, it's got bells on.

The Walrus' wet dreams aside, invading and occupying Iran simply isn't an option. Breaking a lot of shit and making an example of Iran is another matter … but that's best done with strategic bombers. The CVN is only needed to stooge around, look menacing, and provide cover for crushing the air defenses. Gone are the days when the B-52 stream would simply nuke their path into hostile territory using SRAM/AGM-69 against every SAM site or air base that got in their way en route to the target for the really big nukes, although here's a happy fun primer on DEAD (the predecessor to today's no-nuclear air defense suppression techniques).

174:

Private Eye has a very interesting report on Agent of Chaos by Norman spinrad - starring a bumbling Boris Johnson!

175:

The change that really made me puke was that ministers were forced to resign only because of such sexual shenanagins (later extended to financial misdemeanours). I remember when, at least sometimes, they resigned because they had ballsed up their job. Yes, I know what to blame (the who is a bit less clear).

176:

Charlie
Cheating on your spouse is basically as unexceptional among British politicians these days as it used to be among the French
COUGH
Lord Palmerston was rumoured to have fathered a child, when he was over 70 ... Disreali, in oppostion insisted that it be hushed up "Otherwise they'll all vote for him!"

EC @ 174
Said issue of the "Eye" also has a superb cover-picture

177:

[putting a USN CVN at risk in a conflict with Iran]
They don't need to

But a certain faction really, really wants to do it. Lose a CVN, and it's the national honour; Iran can be threatened with nuking unless it bends the knee completely, unconditional surrender. (Various eminent clergy get sent to Riyadh to be tried for heresy and beheaded, unconditional.) Congress will authorise anything, including massive spending on directed energy weapons, as many CVNs as Bolton thinks there should be, and whatever other imperialist pet projects are queued up at the money spigot.

Fail to lose the CVN and the Iranian's long expensive effort to be a credible threat dies the death and the USN's myth of invincibility is greatly enhanced.

The imperialist faction sees this is as a win-win scenario, but likely sees the loss scenario as the larger win.

178:

I wish that wasn't plausible.

179:

The imperialist faction sees this is as a win-win scenario, but likely sees the loss scenario as the larger win.

The faction in question hasn't thought it through that far. Indeed, they're not second-order thinkers, much less third- or fourth-order thinkers, at all. Bolton and Pompeo are neocons and have the same naive assumptions they and their cohorts did about Iraq: that the U.S. will be greeted by the locals as liberators. They are nowhere near as clever or as self-aware as you think they are. It really is hubris and wishful thinking all the way down.

In stark contrast, the professional military community--uniformed and civilian--is fully aware of how a war with Iran would go and what the consequences would be. The plans exist, the scenarios have been wargamed multiple times over, the full costs have been calculated and projected, and it's all been briefed to the political leadership.

The problem is that the political leadership will do what they want regardless of what the professional community tells them. The leadership operates on confirmation bias and only listens for what they want to hear.

180:

"It worries me that people seem to think that Trump will definitely be defeated in 2020."

My bet in our unofficial workplace betting pool is that Trump will have a clear victory. He has been delivering what he has been promising. And we (as a company) will be quite likely to lose a significant amount of money if Trump is re-elected. Therefore I do not appreciate that possibility, it is very likely that I will personally lose money if he wins (no bonuses etc).

I would really like to see that the next US president will be somebody from the improvement-oriented side of the Democratic contenders. That is, however, quite unlikely according to our estimates. The Democrats are likely to select somebody like Biden, who will be decimated by Trump.

Therefore we are betting on the second season of The Trump Regime.

Some of my cynical colleagues have even tried to set up a betting pool for a third season, but fortunately that is unlikely.

181:

The military may be aware of the direct military consequences, but they can't be of the political ones and longer term military ones, because NOBODY knows what would happen if Trump area-bombed Tehran or even used nukes. Even if Iran has plans for that, and the USA knows them, neither side can be sure of how other countries would react and where that would lead. At best, they can make wild guesses and advise against opening that wormcan.

182:

Every US president since Truman has, outside of a declared war or a UN authorized engagement, authorized the perpetration of crimes against humanity. Initially the Cold War was used as a justification, but since 1991 they haven't even bothered with that excuse.

Agreed, with the possible exception of Carter (that's just me not remembering what happened in the late 1970s).

This is where I have to point out that so far, Trump on the international scale has been less destructive than the previous two Bushes, which goes to show how going about the norms of the office allows you to get away with so much more.

Ignoring the illegal wars for a moment, there's still the argument that the President is not above domestic US law for domestic US actions, and that's where it gets more interesting. As with the Capone example, prosecuting the Bush administration for lying to Congress to get us into a war would be useful for halting that particular gambit again.

There are a couple of problems that it would be nice to solve, and both of these get at presidential responsibility.

1) Should there be a threshold of wealth above which the law no longer applies to you?

2) Should the possession of nuclear weapons render you above the law?

American policy, both implicitly and explicitly, has formulated Presidential power around the second point, ever since the USSR demonstrated its nukes. It's the US version of the Dead Hand, that the President can use nukes to unilaterally end civilization if he sees the need. No President after Truman*, who's ever thought about it very hard, has ever decided that a first strike was something they'd ever do. Unfortunately, the US never got around to amending the Constitution to deal with the reality of nukes, and so we're getting increasingly hypocritical about how it all works.

That's where capturing a billionaire who's a crappy President and subjecting him to the rigors of the US legal system becomes so important. It won't deal with Reagan or Bush I's war crimes, but it's a start.

183:

I wish that wasn't plausible.

Please stop freaking out, sir. You're upsetting the horses.

It's not plausible. Check the second reference from Bill Arnold at #84: https://mwi.usma.edu/irans-human-geography-wicked-problem-people-places-things-complicates-us-strategy/

Problem 1: losing a CVN is stoopid. Yeah, it gets us into war with Iran, and quite possibly loses us Taiwan. And China's not podunk. And it gives us fewer resources to fight with Iran, assuming we're that stupid. And we're not that stupid.

If you want a ship to get blown up to justify a war, that's what Destroyers are for. See the Gulf of Tonkin mess. You don't throw away a capital ship on an opening gambit, any more than you sacrifice the queen to take a pawn.

The CVN involved is sitting well out of missile range, while the US Army puts artillery and rockets in friendly countries on the south side of the Gulf. This has already happened, so why bother losing a CVN? There are plenty of destroyers already in place if a ship needs to be sacrificed.

Problem 2: The US military is over-stretched, its equipment (including ships) are not getting proper maintenance, readiness numbers are below standards, and the military is having trouble meeting recruitment goals for specialties like, oh, flying planes. That's what Bill's article pointed to. AND THIS ANALYSIS WAS PUBLISHED BY WEST POINT. It's no secret, and the problems have been in the media for years. We're in a horrible position to start a war with a medium-sized country, and if we did, as noted, we'd likely lose Taiwan and possibly South Korea to the Chinese.

Now I'm sure you (and especially Graydon) are all-fired up to prove me wrong, but I'll add a final point: You've been suckered by Trump. Remember, this is the gaslight special? The man whose only strategy is bullshit, bully, and settle? He's in the middle of the bullshit and bully phase with Iran. Iran's following the by-now standard play book of standing up to the bullying. Unless Trump totally loses control of the situation, the next phase will be the settlement.

Anyway, if you're wallowing in fear over US actions, there's a high likelihood that you're the victim of Republican psyops. Rational investigation's the best cure for that stuff, and its not worth wallowing in anything so psychologically toxic.

Now please get back to figuring out countermeasures against BoJo the Clone of Orange.

184:

I disagree with your analysis.

If he's impeached, and not convicted, a good part of the US already hates and despises McConnell, and the GOP will be blamed.... Um, you *did* notice the turnout last year, right? The shocking huge turnout, including younger voters?

185:

You have a misperception: Trump is only *saying* he's giving them what he promised... or is complaining that the courts, or the Dems, are preventing it.

Other than hollowing out the federal gov't, and the tax cuts for the rich, he's actually gotten very little done.

Hell, earlier this year, I read an article in mainstream media, with someone in a farm state, who'd been a strong Trump supporter, and now is saying that they feel like a fool, and no way.

Meanwhile, the Dems are passing a *lot* of laws for their base, that McConnell and the GOP won't even consider in the Senate.

Oh... and McConnell's new challenger, in KY, is already at par with her warchest (money).

No, folks on this side are going to be lining up to pile on, and vote. I also guarantee that there will be tons of court challenges, same day, for folks illegally tossed off the voter rolls.

186:

About that low radar profile, etc... in the Straights, dumb point and shoot would work... and it's not like a warship can maneuver faster than a rocket or jet from the shore can get there.

Actually, if I were Iran, I'd have hidden launchers right by the shore, stationed about 5km apart, and just hit the "open the pod bar, er, garage doors" and fire.

187:

Bullshitters fall into three categories, though most are a mixture:

1) Those that ignore their own bullshit.

2) Those that sucker themselves by their bullshit.

3) Those that attempt to turn their bullshit into reality to avoid losing face.

The first group is unpredictable, but the latter two are seriously dangerous. The question is what is Trump's mixture.

188:

Our side will be all over their asses. I assure you, voter registration will be running like mad.

Already is, actually.

Plus, a few states lost the GOP total domination, like Michigan and N.C.

189:

Again, I'm afraid your view from your country misapprehends what's happening. Biden... I've seen a headline that his best day was the day he announced. He's been steadily sinking. Bernie's up there, as is Harris.

On the other hand, Warren keeps climbing, and I've seen at least one mainstream article that folks who originally said "never Warren" are coming to see her as a moderate choice.

I suspect (ok, hope), it will be her, and perhaps one of the challengers for VP. Hmmm, picking someone like Castro or Buttiegieg for VP would do what the GOP's done for decades, a VP that makes you not want to assassinate the President.

190:

"You have a misperception: Trump is only *saying* he's giving them what he promised... or is complaining that the courts, or the Dems, are preventing it."

Unfortunately I have to disagree with you. The Trump Regime has been very effective in changing the courts. Look at the new judges all around. That is likely to have very long lasting impact on how the law is interpreted in USA.

There are several other issues also. Like having lead and asbestos fine again. And so on. A Happy New World, but less regulation from the evil government.

The number of people who believe that government is, by definition, evil is surprisingly high. When you add the religious aspect to that, then The Second Season of The Trump Regime does not look that impossible.

I will be very happy to be proven wrong, but our estimate is that the next season of The Trump Regime is the most likely outcome.

191:

"On the other hand, Warren keeps climbing, and I've seen at least one mainstream article that folks who originally said "never Warren" are coming to see her as a moderate choice. "

I have to agree that from my point of view Warren looks like somebody I would vote for. She has a real policy, well-thought proposals etc.

In addition, I agree that with a proper campaign Warren (or somebody like her) would have a real possibility of defeating Trump. Not a good one, but a real one. That assuming that the possible/will-be Democrat voters really will go through the pain of being able to vote.

I do, however, suspect that the Democrats will go for a moderate male and lose the election. And then I will be able to cash my bet on the second season of The Trump Regime.

192:

Oh, and being the Cheerful Charlie* that I am, my bet's on

* No relation to OGH, it's from the old Pogo comic strip.

193:

I've got it: BoJo makes his first state visit to the US as PM, and says the wrong thing to the Orange, and Orange tries to throw him under the bus.

The Tories, of course, stand up, affronted for him. T, shocked, starts tweeting that the Queen should fire him.

Ending one: she has staff tweet back, "We Are Not Amused.", and a naval incident is set up with the US. Seeing this, Macron makes nice. All the right in the US goes up in arms over Being Friends With The French, and the US civil war starts, GOP on GOP.

Ending two: she has staff tweet "we agree", fires him, and asks the LibDems to form a government.

194:

>No, wait, you're going to invade the Persian Empire? Pull the other one, it's got bells on.

Or you could just invade the parts that have oil and set a puppet state there, destroy the infrastructure of all the other part, and install automatic machine guns on the perimeter to mow down anything that approaches.

195:

JReynolds @ 170: It worries me that people seem to think that Trump will definitely be defeated in 2020. People like Seymour Hersh think that the chances of him winning re-election under the current system are very good indeed. Even Doonesbury is raising the spectre of a Trump re-election, albeit for comic effect: "Always bet on the cornered rat" indeed.

More than that, I worry that it doesn't matter whether Trump is re-elected or not. He'll claim that he won the REAL vote, dismiss everyone who didn't vote for him as "fake news" and refuse to leave office. If he gets away with it, and there's a good chance he will, it then becomes a question of what he does in 2024? Does he comply with the 22nd Amendment, or does he declare that null & void as well? Will there even be an election in 2024?

196:

Apropos of nothing, I was just realized we should congratulate OGH on his prescience in not giving the King in Orange Yellow a bigger role in the Laundryverse, especially in dealing with the governance of the US or UK. Had he chosen that worthy, I suspect he'd be rather annoyed with current events...

197:

Agreed, with the possible exception of Carter (that's just me not remembering what happened in the late 1970s).

Nope! Supported the murderous dictatorship of the Shah of Iran so effectively that when it blew up in the Shah's face the USA was blamed for a lot of domestic woes. Then sent troops in to try to rescue the embassy hostages (the Desert One fiasco)—okay, they shouldn't have been hostages in the first place, but military action on foreign soil with anticipated civilian deaths is still illegal.

Oh, and then there's the way Zbignew Brzezinski's push to destabilize Afghanistan (as an attack on the USSR's muslim underbelly) and the CIA's Operation Cyclone, which laid the kindling for the Afghan conflagration of the 1980s and 1990s and 2000s and …

And then we've got to ask how much of Operation Condor can be blamed on Carter, and the murder trials arising from that are still on-going to this day.

BTW, destroyers are no longer disposable! The Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyers are of roughly 10,000 tons displacement, same as a WW2 heavy cruiser; the USS Zumwalt, admittedly a bit of a weirdo, is much, much larger to the point where if class inflation wasn't a thing it'd be called a battlecruiser. These are billion dollar weapons platforms able to hit targets hundreds of nautical miles away with precision missile strikes; the Type 45 "air defense" destroyer is merely supposed to provide SAM coverage for a carrier group out to a radius of about 200 miles, with radar coverage out to 500 miles.

The only respects in which these things resemble an old-school destroyer (pre-WW1: "torpedo boat destroyer", displacement 250-500 tons; WW1-WW2 era: 1500-3000 tons) is in crew size—they're tiny by capital ship standards due to automation—and hull design (light on armour and internal compartmentalization).

In fact, if you want to lose an asset to justify a war, your best bet is probably a tanker. Big, showy, lots of flames, a crew so small you can fit them in a single lifeboat/rescue chopper, and much cheaper to replace.

198:

Charlie Stross @ 173: The Walrus' wet dreams aside, invading and occupying Iran simply isn't an option. Breaking a lot of shit and making an example of Iran is another matter … but that's best done with strategic bombers. The CVN is only needed to stooge around, look menacing, and provide cover for crushing the air defenses. Gone are the days when the B-52 stream would simply nuke their path into hostile territory using SRAM/AGM-69 against every SAM site or air base that got in their way en route to the target for the really big nukes, although here's a happy fun primer on DEAD (the predecessor to today's no-nuclear air defense suppression techniques).

Actually, if it comes to war with Iran, a better comparison might be how the USAF suppressed (and/or failed to suppress) North Vietnam's air defenses to protect the B-52s during Operation Rolling Thunder (2 March 1965 until 2 November 1968), Operation Linebacker (9 May to 23 October 1972) and Operation Linebacker II (18 to 29 December 1972) WITHOUT resorting to nuclear weapons.

199:

Jar @ 180: My bet in our unofficial workplace betting pool is that Trump will have a clear victory. He has been delivering what he has been promising. And we (as a company) will be quite likely to lose a significant amount of money if Trump is re-elected. Therefore I do not appreciate that possibility, it is very likely that I will personally lose money if he wins (no bonuses etc).

He may in fact win reelection legitimately, although I don't think we can ever be sure he's not cheating, but HAS he delivered on his promises? Drained that swamp?, Built that wall?, Repealed Obamacare and replaced it with something better?, Reduced taxes on working families while forcing the 1% to pay more of their fair share?, Forced China to buy more U.S. goods & export fewer goods to the U.S.? ... Made America Great Again?*

As far as I can tell, the only promise he's "kept" is the one where he said he didn't want to start any new wars, and that one looks to be on mighty shaky ground.

*What does the asshole mean by AGAIN, America was already great before slimed his way down the escalator.

200:

whitroth @ 184: I disagree with your analysis.

If he's impeached, and not convicted, a good part of the US already hates and despises McConnell, and the GOP will be blamed.... Um, you *did* notice the turnout last year, right? The shocking huge turnout, including younger voters?

A lot would depend on how overwhelming the evidence for him having committed "High Crimes and Misdemeanors".

With Nixon and Watergate, the evidence was so overwhelming that Nixon resigned before he could be impeached. With Clinton and "Whitewater", the evidence was so weak they couldn't get a simple majority, much less the required 2/3 vote to convict ... they couldn't even get all of the Republicans to vote to convict.

201:

Other than hollowing out the federal gov't, and the tax cuts for the rich, he's actually gotten very little done.

He's got the ethnic cleansing rolling. Non-white voting's getting really challenging, and trending more challenging. The "any white man can kill any non-white for any reason, anywhere" isn't there-there, not yet, but it's closer. (Pretty much there for the police de facto.)

That's the really important stuff for the big chunk of the white electorate who view the possibility of the US losing its white majority status with "Ok, let's kill all the non-whites. Problem solved." responses. This is the main thing Trump has delivered and looks likely to keep delivering.

202:

Charlie Stross @ 197: BTW, destroyers are no longer disposable! The Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyers are of roughly 10,000 tons displacement, same as a WW2 heavy cruiser; the USS Zumwalt, admittedly a bit of a weirdo, is much, much larger to the point where if class inflation wasn't a thing it'd be called a battlecruiser. These are billion dollar weapons platforms able to hit targets hundreds of nautical miles away with precision missile strikes; the Type 45 "air defense" destroyer is merely supposed to provide SAM coverage for a carrier group out to a radius of about 200 miles, with radar coverage out to 500 miles.

That's part of the reason why I hedged with "I don't know if the Royal Navy and/or other cooperating navies (which COULD include the U.S.) have enough small warships ..." I was thinking "frigates" or "littoral combat ships" that have been in the news fairly recently, mostly problems getting them into production/service.

203:

Remember also, the consequences of impeaching Agent Orange before 2020:

--He's removed from office
--Tuppence becomes President
--Agent Orange can still run for re-election, and now that he's not president, he has more time, plus a dedicated base out for vengeance or something.

Now, let's play the "maximize democratic victories" version of this:
--Do a *thorough* investigation of Agent Orange before 2020, while selectively leaking all the problems he has to fire up the democratic base.
--Aim to retake the Presidency and Senate
--This is actually the more important goal: if the democrats control the house and senate, even if Agent Orange wins in 2020, he WILL get impeached if there's good cause found by the investigation leading up to the election.

If The Orange is no longer President, then he no longer has immunity and Tuppence is no longer an unexploded bomb. At that point, ALL prosecutions can go forward.

204:

I'd also point out, since I missed adding it, that having majorities in the house and senate also mean that judges (particularly the BreaKa the Bro) can also be impeached. That's also important, for obvious reasons.

205:

It was pointed out elseweb that you don't have to start impeachment with trump, you can start with his fellow swamp monsters, working your way up. The negative publicity and information coming out of such hearings would be too juicy for a lot of the media to ignore, so would help counteract the right wing bias in american media.

206:

Yeah, about that.... A majority of America is really not ok with that. Even all the security guards and cops pulling the profiling, and random idiot racists, get majorly made fun of, and wind up losing jobs, etc.

Don't believe that the majority is as divided and racist as Faux News and the GOP want you to believe.

207:

Actually (snark) that might be all some of the littoral combat vessels are good for: drawing overwhelming fire and sinking dramatically and with maximum consequence. (/snark)

208:

I'm somewhat alarmed by the number of people who think that the UK can resolve brexit-related import problems by just adopting really lax customs habits.

There's a massive hole in that view, because every lorry that enters the UK needs to leave it again, and there's no way that the EU will adopt lax customs habits just because we have. So every lorry that arrives in Calais, Rotterdam, etc, will need to be checked. If most of those lorries are empty, then the checks can be fairly quick (with a random sample pulled aside for thorough examination to make sure they're not, eg, smuggling heroin under the floorboards of the trailer).

But even a quick check on every lorry will cause a massive increase in the time it takes to turn around a ferry, relative to just driving straight off with no customs activity as at present. So even those very simple checks mean that you get fewer lorries through each port. (It also means the end of pretty much all UK exports to the EU, of course.)

Also, if you want those very simple checks, the lorries need to be empty. Which means that whoever bought the goods transported to the UK needs to cover the logistics company's costs for travel in both directions, rather than, as now, just one. (Sure, some lorries cross the channel empty, but mostly firms try to arrange to have cargo loaded as much of the time as possible. Drivers are expensive, and have legally limited hours.)

So you have a substantially reduced quantity of goods coming in, and much higher costs for transporting them. And that's the best-case scenario. If the UK government really annoyed the EU - say by deliberately wasting time in negotiations, repeatedly announcing to UK papers that they're cunningly lying to EU authorities, and then appointing a probably-narcisistic fascist as PM[1] - there's no reason they couldn't insist on full checks of every vehicle on the grounds that we'd repeatedly demonstrated bad faith and couldn't be trusted.

[1] purely a hypothetical scenario; I'm sure the Tories wouldn't do anything of the kind.

Given the reduced flow of imports, avoiding shortages would require very careful state enforcement of priorities, and substantial economic redistribution to ensure that the burden didn't fall entirely on poor and/or disabled people who are already struggling. I can't imagine the Tories (especially under Johnson) doing either of those things.

209:

"And if the impeachment fails (which is guaranteed at this point), Trump's base is energized and his opponents are demoralized. "

As has been pointed out repeatedly, the GOP brought impeachment against Clinton, and did well from it.

210:

"Also, the time for an impeachment inquiry to begin is probably after the Orange Shitgibbeon signs the current budget."

Before. Right now, Trump et al. are conducting a 100% opposition against the House, refusing to respond to *all* subpoenas. That means that the House has go to court for everything, taking months if not years.

Their one big gun was the budget. Pelosi has destroyed that weapons - worse, she's set it up so that the next president, who might be a Dem, will have to deal with it in his/her first budget.

211:

"5-4 odds that SCOTUS would rule that the 5th amendment applies to impeachment Republican Presidents, and thus attempting to impeach him once means they could not do so again for the same acts."

From my understanding, SCOTUS has been very careful about impeachment. It's likely the equivalent of the Queen overruling Parliament.

Also, the House can choose from hundreds of charges.

212:

You did notice the response to the Mueller Report when it came out?

The biggest group in the electorate at this point are those who don't vote, and these people tend to break democrat. The single biggest strategy of the Republicans at this point is trying to make sure as many people as possible don't vote democratic. Their tactics include gerrymandering, closing polls, purging voter roles, and especially making democratic voters so disgusted that they stay home, thinking it's a waste of time.

Anyway, we'll see whether we get to impeachment or not. The last resolution to impeach went down in flames six days ago, regardless of how us blue dogs feel about it.

213:

If you want to do some light reading, Dominic cummings, infamous law breaker, has a blog full of his crazed ideas: https://dominiccummings.com/
Charlie pointed out I think on twitter that he's a singularitarian. On his blog you can see how he worships scientism and loves to take things out of context to support his barmy ideas.

214:

"Do a *thorough* investigation of Agent Orange before 2020, while selectively leaking all the problems he has to fire up the democratic base."

So far, they aren't doing that. Trump is playing a slow waltz with them, and they are going along with it.

"This is actually the more important goal: if the democrats control the house and senate, even if Agent Orange wins in 2020, he WILL get impeached if there's good cause found by the investigation leading up to the election."

The same thing that you've cited is still the case - there's no way that the Senate would convict.

"Agent Orange can still run for re-election, and now that he's not president, he has more time, plus a dedicated base out for vengeance or something."

If he was convicted, he could not. If he agreed to a deal, he could not. Also, he'd be a loser, and this time he'd be a known quantity, rather than the guy who could promise everything.

As for the base being primed, they are already.

215:

You're mostly right, but, to quote article 2: "Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law."

So if the deal he reaches is removal from office...

The other part is even more important, that he doesn't go from the White House to prison. Impeachment is simply removal from office and (hopefully) disqualification from holding federal office again.

216:

I'd argue there is a significant proximity gradient. Most, though not all, USains are okay with citizens of any stripe living in the same state.

Still, nearly half would prefer that fewer brown people enter this country.

And about 80% would riot if my personal edict was passed. (Any county with median rental prices > 50% of the median income is immediately zoned for high density housing. Environmental impact reports, et cetera, are no longer required.). Why? Because we already use zoning as highly effective de facto segregation and are willing to spend 4+ hours a day commuting to keep the other away.

My mildly uneducated guess is that an early impeachment is just a boost to Trump's election chances. My other mildly uneducated guess is that typical progressive and minority voters will hold their noses and vote for anyone, even Biden. It'll be hard to whip Trump voters into a froth over Biden.

Would Warren be better and Harris more competent? Sure. I'd guess, though, that the energy, eg, Warren might get from a progressive base will be more than balanced out by the hate she'd get from socially conservative (read misogynistic Democrats). My wife laughed when Obama beat Clinton. (Relative status of women and minorities) Then, add in the activation of a Republican base that likes women even less...

I could be wrong or unduly pessimistic. Based on Trump, I'm an optimist.

217:

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/29111/divisions-with-u-s-emerge-as-u-k-proposes-european-force-to-protect-tankers-from-iran

After his opening summary of the situation, which he called a "hostile act," Hunt then formally announced that the U.K. Department for Transport had advised all British-flagged ships to avoid Iranian waters and the Strait of Hormuz, something that had been previously reported. He also asked that any British-flagged ships that insisted on making the transit alert U.K. authorities of their decision "to enable us to offer the best protection we can."
Lastly and most importantly, Hunt said that the United Kingdom was working to create a European maritime protection mission to further protect shipping in the region and that HMS Duncan would eventually join that multi-national force. It is not clear if the U.K. government's plan is for this to be a European Union-led mission, given that the United Kingdom is separately working to extricate itself from that political and economic bloc as part of a process commonly known as Brexit.
"We will now seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to support safe passage of both crew and cargo in this vital region," Hunt said. "The new force will be focused on free navigation, bearing in mind that one-fifth of the world’s oil, a quarter of its liquefied natural gas, and trade worth half a trillion dollars pass through the Strait of Hormuz every year."

That certainly makes sense.

218:

Barry @ 209:

"And if the impeachment fails (which is guaranteed at this point), Trump's base is energized and his opponents are demoralized. "

As has been pointed out repeatedly, the GOP brought impeachment against Clinton, and did well from it.

Slightly different circumstances. The GOP impeached Clinton during a sour grapes 105th Congress Lame Duck session between the time they lost House seats in the 1998 election and when the 106th Congress convened in January 1999 (most notably that jackass House Speaker Newt Gingrinch lost his reelection bid & got sent back to Georgia).

219:

I do get that a majority of the US is absolutely not OK with that.

This is nigh-completely irrelevant; the machinery of government is absolutely one hundred percent pure quill delighted; that's what ICE exists to do, and the people who built it built it competently.

One of the things people don't pay enough attention to is that you need nothing like a majority for a revolution; a committed 10% seems to be sufficient. The great white supremacist evangelist mammonite movement is about 20% of the US population; that's plenty.

What you do with that 20% of the population who do not recognise the legitimacy of the mechanisms of civil government is a hard problem; it's reminiscent of the whole Protestant problem in Europe, for exactly the same sorts of reasons.

220:

The great white supremacist evangelist mammonite movement is about 20% of the US population; that's plenty.
Ah, now I see where you're coming from. However, that movement is not a monolith (many sects hate the others), and has exploitable fault lines (e.g. the scriptural support for Republican partisan politics is ... weak[0]) and many of the worst of their leaders are extremely corrupt and can be taken down or significantly weakened by exposing that corruption. So there is a fight to be fought in the US, if we can rapidly find the will and skill to fight it.
Also, Trump is polling really badly and he's continuing to unravel mentally and the US media are much more awake than they were in 2015/2016 and Fox News is showing occasional cracks. (I think the boycotts have spooked them a bit.) I don't see any similar shift in the UK media but maybe am missing it?

Mind you, I can argue the other side of the argument too, but you're already doing that well.

[0] this made me laugh: Ecclesiastes 10:16 - Woe to thee, O land, when thy king [is] a child

221:

EC @ 187
And Drumpf appears to be a mixture of # 2&3 ... very dangerous.
What category is BOZO the clown?

Jar @ 190
Like having lead and asbestos fine again.
WHAT? - I must have been asleep when that went past - when did this happen & how was it allowed?
Cannot the "House" put a stop to it?
I do, however, suspect that the Democrats will go for a moderate male and lose the election.
If you substittute "reactionary & past it" for "Moderate" - you are dangerously close to correct.
Come on, even AOC is to the right of & considerably saner than Corbyn, not that that's difficult - [ NOTE, below ]

JBS @ 195
PART of that is almost certain.
I think DY will go down to serious defeat in 2020 - & will refuse to accept it ....
Which departments & sections of the US Aremd/Police/Security forces will follw "the consitution" & which will follow their "Leader" ???
Messy

Chris J @ 208
Precisely - unfortunately - see my "NOTE" below .....

@ 218 & 219
20% back the great leader ( Or shall we say "guide"? ) - right ...
In the critical 1933 election Adolf, even then did not have a majority - about 34% of the vote in fact, on a PR system
BUT - two other things ... he outmanovered them & seized power from within, once he had office ( As Trump is doing, by not filling posts, except fascist judges )...
And active support - meaning party membership:
120k in 1929, 200k in 1930 & 800k in 1931
But even that would not have been enough without the economic collapse & internal divisions in the rest of the "ruling class" - source for all of this is my copy of the Brit Naval Intelligence history of Germany, published during WWII.


[NOTE: W T F with Corbyn & Liebour?
They are more concerned with internal faction-fights & ideological purity than in STOPPING BREXIT
We have a semicriminal clown, employing known actual criminals sitting in No 10 & what are Liebour doing about it?
FUCK ALL.

222:

I can assure you that as a democractic socialist party, labour has been very busy discussing brexit and it's various issues. But the party also exists to get into power to do good things, certainly better nicer things than the tories. There's an entire manifesto with soft left policies for you to read, if you want to.
However for some reason the media keep attacking the party because of anti-semitism. Labour policies are not discussed and it is assumed they don't have any. Couple this with continued attempts by right wingers inside the party to take over and oust Corbyn, and things look like you think they do. But meanwhile there is plenty of desire to take office and reverse the evils of the Tory government.

Finally, can you tell me what labour can actually do about johnson and his band of crooks? If you go and read Hansard, you'll find that Corbyn et al have been highlighting the evils of the tories every day they can, but you don't hear much about that in the media and all the centrist commentators are basically fascist enablers these days. What exactly can labour do? Go on Greg, tell us. HOw can they get the current government out of office, when may survived a number of votes of no confidence because sufficient tories and brexiters lined up behind her?

223:

Presuming he's convicted, he serves his term (I can pray at Rikers, but we'll see) in solitary, also for his own protection.

A footnote, admittedly after the conversation has moved on: The Rikers Island complex holds nearly 100,000 occupants but is primarily a holding facility for people awaiting trial (because it's in the Bronx and conveniently located to pretty much every courtroom in New York City); relatively few serve their sentences there, mostly convicts given relatively short sentences.

I'll suggest that The Donald is a high profile prisoner and may require maximum security for his own protection. The most famous such facility in New York state is Sing Sing about 30 miles north of NYC but it's not the largest and it's close to Manhattan. I propose that he be housed in upstate New York, far from the city, in the biggest maximum security facility they've got. That's in the town of Dannemora but its name is the Clinton Correctional Facility.

I could tolerate Donald Trump being locked up there for the rest of his life. Couldn't you?

224:

#180 - A Third Term would require a retified Amendment.

#186 - "Stand by for action. Anything can happen in the next half minute..." ;-)

#193 - That's just silly; there are no buses in the Yousay! ;-)

225:

1 is a number. Specifically it's the number of votes of no confidence Mayhem faced, and ConDUP was all that took; no requirement for votes from other Wrecksiteers.

226:

The reasons for the media attacks on Labour using anti-semitism as a claim are well-known. In increasing order of importance:
1) There is a considerable amount of genuine anti-semitism in both the Conservative and Labour parties.
2) The Kingdom of Israel Revanchists are trying to complete the take over of UK politics.
3) The New-Monetarist oligarchs and other external forces are trying to destroy the last chance of seeing any socialism return in our lifetimes, and complete the transition to the New Order.

227:

Mainly (1) - isn't it obvious? God alone knows what he is going to do, because I am sure that he doesn't.

228:

Technically, there is no difficulty, and many people have been saying for some decades that the UK navy needs a sizeable fleet of small vessels. Think WWII MGBs and corvettes, with 1/3 the crews, and modern technology but with comparable armament. Bugger foreign adventurism - their job would be dealing with wayward commercial vessels around the UK (transport, fishing, pollution and other), 'having words' with foreign warships in international waters, searching for submarines, and so on. Obviously, they would have the capability of world-wide travel (few seas get rougher than some of ours do) with refueling, but that's not what we need them for.

If Bozo and his bigots had any sense, they would announce such a plan, commission competent designs, FUND IT, and give contracts to the obvious places in the northern wastes of the UK.

Obviously, when it comes to actual WAR, they wouldn't stand a chance - but they would be fine for playing chicken with the Iran Revolutionary Guard, discouraging pirates in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere etc. And a DAMN site cheaper. And British, rah, rah rah.

229:

Yep, it's pretty obvious that "anti-semitism" is the only piece of mud that seems to have stuck to the wider party, so the mainstream media is using it for all they can.

By contrast there is so much mud hitting the tories that it gets knocked off by the next bit and buried in the trail of debris.

I mean, both sides have anti-semites, and both I'm sure have problems with all other religions as well, because so it seems does 10-20% of Britain. The tories though have sex offenders, public hate speech, cronyism, corruption, a fundamental lack of competence, staggering wastes of public money, and through tory controlled councils manslaughter through gross negligence not far short of murder. But Anti-semitism. Wooo. Better keep them Reds outta power lest the country be in *real* trouble, right?

230:

Charlie pointed out I think on twitter that he's a singularitarian. On his blog you can see how he worships scientism and loves to take things out of context to support his barmy ideas.

And this is probably the time for a reminded: singularitarianism (which Cummings appears to be an adherent of, along with the rest of the LessWrong shitball) is basically a secularized Jesus-free reimplementation of Christianity. Fits the same design pattern for an appealing salvationist doctrine with Apollonian aesthetics. Roko's Basilisk as Satan.

231:

what are Liebour doing about it?

Two things.

a) Per Napoleon, "never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake". The Tory party is ripping itself to shreds over Brexit. Remember, if they don't deliver the hardest of hard no deal Brexits, half their base will desert to the neo-Nazi Faragist party; and if they do deliver it, they trash the economy (and they're traditionally the party of business: when the Chambers of Commerce and the Confederation of British Industry are howling angrily at them, something has gone very wrong indeed). So Corbyn's plausible plan is to sit on his hands, not sacrifice Labour voters unnecessarily (the Labour loyalists who want Brexit because there's always a good 20% of any population group who are totally divorced from reality), while the Tories explode.

(BoJo's election could be the beginning of the end game for them, although how long it takes is unclear right now. Could be days—to a snap election and a loss of power—could be years, in the worst case scenario.)

b) Corbyn is old. No offense, Greg—I know he's younger than you—but most British political careers are coasting on fumes by his age: if he becomes PM now he'll be the oldest first-term PM since 1832 or earlier. He's had 30-40 years of being a conscientious objector: it's very hard to change the habits of a lifetime, and the threat (or promise) of becoming PM has put him totally outside his comfort zone. He's slow to respond to sudden pressures (witness the "labour antisemitism" fiasco amplified by the right wing press—I'd say it's more of a British antisemitism problem, shared by the Tories, but with enough fools inside Labour to provide plausible kindling for an orchestrated media firestorm of abuse). So I suspect he's just dithering, hoping that something will come up to save him tomorrow if he doesn't commit to anything today.

I can't tell which of (a) or (b) is the dominant factor right now.

232:

What I am concerned about is that Labour's opponents may destroy Corbyn and socialism before the Conservatives auto-destruct, possibly by fragmenting Labour enough to fail to win the next election. We will then get another (puke) Blairite revolution and the country will complete its transition to a 17th century social system and banana republic economy. My estimate is that we are one good lurch from those becoming irrevokable.

No, that's not because I love Labour's policies or am the sort of socialist they would recognise as such, but because we need SOME kind of halt to that drift before it is too late.

233:

Finally, can you tell me what labour can actually do about johnson and his band of crooks?

No, but American humorist Andy Borowitz reacted to BoJo by announcing British lose right to claim that Americans are dumber. I assume some news organs in the UK are desperately trying to not notice how he is seen outside the UK, or for that matter outside their offices.

234:

It's probably unfair to blame Vinge for it, though he can't escape SOME blame, but popularising the very notion of the plausibility and imminence of "The Singularity" was harmful, as a very few of us observed at the time. It was mathematical and engineering nonsense (i.e. fantasy) dressed up as hard science fiction, and has led a huge number of otherwise intelligent people (no, not Cummings) into sloppy thinking. Yes, it started out restricted to science fiction but, as you note, it has now got into mainstream politics. I don't know if anyone predicted that - I certainly didn't, even though I realised some of the harm that would arise.

As I have said before, similar remarks apply to the whole bullshit surrounding NP, especially the fantasies about P=NP, but that did not escape into the outside world before it got subsumed by The Singularity. It did immense harm to computer science but, frankly, merely joins thousands of other such scientific myths in that. And, again, much the same can be said about quantum computing.

And yet most people can't believe that we potentially face a genuine near-singularity (i.e. step change to a different state) from climate change :-(

235:

Guthrie @ 222
ALL I can see at present is that my Labour MP - one of the very best of any party in the entire House is under constant threat of deselection by Corbyn's wankers usually called momentum. How to throw away a 20 000 majority (!) with both hands.
Labour is STILL trying to face both ways at once on Brexit ( Because Corbyn wants OUT - just like BOZO ) - which thay simply cannot do - they have got to come down on one side or the other ....
I've heard/seen Charlie on "Not interrupting your enemy making a mistake", but for fuck's sake this is the future of the entore set of countries for the next hunderd years at stake eher, & they STILL don't get it!

COUNTRY, Constituency, party should be the priorities - & both tories & Liebour have got it exactly backwards.

CHarlie
FUCK the "Boney" maxim - see what I wrote above about COuntry first?
Anyway ...
when the Chambers of Commerce and the Confederation of British Industry are howling angrily at them, something has gone very wrong indeed Even madder & worse than that, the CBI & the TUC issues a JOINT STAEMENT screaming .. "STOP Brexit!" - attentiion paid was zero ....

Though I'm older than Corbyn, I am still capable of changing my mind & opinions, in the light of "new" or previously unknown-to-me facts. Corbyn either can't or won't, which is why he is unfit to be trusted with any public office - so not old - STUPID, actually.
Meanwhile BOZO, as you have pointed out in the past is actually very intelligent, but such an egomaniac that anything is possible - he's dangerous & he's got to go ....

EC
You don't get it do you?
A reversion even to Blairite policies would be a welcome relief from the current pushed-drift towards racism & not-so-crypto-fascism ... but no, let's be ideologically pure & fuck it up.
THIS is the EXACT idiot mindset that's trying to unseat Stella!

236:

You don't get it do you?

Blair's reign was NOT a halt of the slide, let alone a reversal, but suspended some of the more obvious aspects. HOWEVER, it made no attempt to tackle the slide and, in other, more subtle ways, made changes that would assist it in the future. PPPs? Emasculation of the press? Laws that enable the government to classify opponents as terrorists? More subservience to the USA military-industrial complex? Tick, tick, tick, tick. And that's just what I can think of offhand.

I am not convinced that Creasy is the angel you claim she is, though not convinced that she is a bloody Blairite, either. And, given that the attempted unseating of Corbyn started as soon as he was elected, it's a moot point who is attempting to suppress whom. I agree that Momentum are idiotic fanatics, BUT SO ARE BLAIRITES - just less obviously :-(

237:

OKay, so, you've got nothing, no plan for Corybn, but want him to magically do exactly as you tell him.
He knows a no deal brexit is bad, which is why he's against it, as is the labour party. He and part of the party are okay wiht a labour brokered brexit, but the question is how to get one, and on that he/ the executive would like an election and a labour government in power, but can't quite persuade enough people to vote for them. But they've also committed now to a further check referendum on brexit options, which yes, is trying to appeal to all sides; a lot of people on both sides need to stop acting like children and demanding that their parents do whatever it is they want them to do or else they'll cry, and realise that there is a lot of politics going on here and there needs to be some give or take. Hence another referendum isn't a great option, but it isn't the worst.

Corybyn has changed his mind on a number of points, although I can't recall exactly what. Also, the labour party, despite blair and brown, isn't actually a dictatorship...

A reversion to blairite policies isn't what this country needs, given the deep poverty and destruction of society that the tories have done. Lots of people see this, but it's very hard to persuade people that more than that is needed, especially with centrist media wankers and the 90% right wing press ignoring everything.

Have you read the labour manifesto yet?

238:

#228 - True this; I even know ex-RN people who like the idea of patrol boats armed with something like an Oerlikon 40mm, a pair of Browning 50cal, and some semi-automatic rifles.
For examples of the sort of stuff a ship like this can do, look for the Australian drama "Sea Patrol" and ignore the arc plots.

#235 - When I moved here in 1995, I was moving to a "safe Labour seat". Since then, the seat has returned SNP MPs and constituency MSPs.
Elderly Cynic's #236 seems particularly relevant in this context.

#237 I have no idea what the "right wing press" are ignoring, because I'm ignoring print press, and broadcast beside radio bulletins.

239:

guthrie @ 237
Look the ONLY "deal" brexit we are going to get is the one produiced by the Maybot, right?
No-one at all wants that, which reduces the choices to "No Deal" or cancel At 50 ... also correct?
So, are Liebour going to campaign for reamining in the EU or not?
As I keep on saying that is the ONLY thing that matters.
The Liebour manifesto is totally fucking irrelevant & you can't/won't see that either!
Brexit - nothing else matters - STOP IT ... ( Brexit, that is )

240:
My other mildly uneducated guess is that typical progressive and minority voters will hold their noses and vote for anyone
Maybe (I suspect not, but anyway); are the votes of misogynistic Democrats who might vote for Trump instead of a woman more valuable than voters who aren't motivated to go the polls for the Same Old Crap? Because there's a lot more of the latter.

Obama sold "Hope" and had turnout ~10% higher than 2016. Warren sells "Competence". I don't know Harris' selling point, but I suspect it would have a wider appeal than your own definition of Biden's - "Republicans only hate me because of the '(D)' after my name".
241:

"Competence" has never been a good selling point to the usual voters in USA.

Ask Al Gore.

Heck: Ask all the republican candidates from last time around.

Warrens chances depend a lot on older women not making the same stupid assumption of "signed sealed and delivered" as last time.

But her chances stand and fall with a massive turnout of previously non-voting younger women, because US men, no matter what age, as a rule do not vote for women if they can avoid it.

242:

I can see one other Brexit "deal" happening, if BoJo has the balls (and the smarts) to do it.

Bear in mind he's the Tory who said "fuck business". So I assume nothing is off the table, right?

It's this:

* Get a snap general election and win big—that is, big enough to not have to rely on a confidence and supply agreement with anyone, much less the DUP.

(Note that this is only even possible if he figures out how to claw back votes from Farage's Brexit party. Which this current cabinet of head-banging lunatics looks like an attempt at.)

* UNILATERALLY expel Northern Ireland from the UK: declare it to be an independent kingdom, goodbye and thanks for all the fish.

* While the fallout cloud is still drifting and everyone is in shock, ram through May's deal minus the Irish Border Backstop, which is no longer needed. Result!

For good measure, jettison Scotland at the same time (on the most onerous terms he can get away with). In other words, give Nicola Sturgeon what she's asking for and give it to her good and hard, in the expectation that Scotland will be begging for readmission to the UK in about ten years' time if the Americanization of the rump UK economy goes to plan. (Clue: it won't, it can't, it's stupid, but whatever.)

Note that this plan has the classic Boris hallmarks: it's big, it's bold, it relies on showmanship, shock, and awe, and who cares about details and consequences? It cuts the Gordian knot of the backstop, and furthermore if he can contrive to lose Scotland he gains a baked-in 10% tilt towards the Tories for a generation. May and her predecessors were unionists—but does anyone really believe Boris gives a shit about the U in UK?

243:
Note that this plan has the classic Boris hallmarks: it's big, it's bold,
...it's illegal.
Unilaterally evicting Northern Ireland is against the GFA; though, as it is a Boris plan, that's unlikely to prevent him trying.
244:

Depends on how much investment the Money has in Scotland. My guess would be that they're OK with EU law covering that if they get the greatly desired "no taxes on the rich" outcome in England.

245:

The problem is the Electoral College. (Yes, it sucks and needs to go. Yes, it structurally warps the system in favor of the right wing. No, that's not going to change before November 2020.)

An "energize the base" strategy makes sense for the national popular vote. I have no doubt the 2020 Democratic candidate will win it. But, it's electorally meaningless. The leftie non-voters the progressives seek to activate don't live in the necessary places in sufficient numbers to win the Electoral College. Juicing Democratic turnout in California, New York, and other already blue states doesn't achieve anything. A further complication is that the progressive faction's marquee agenda items--reparations for slavery, open door immigration, etc.--are alienating to suburban moderates (i.e. white women) who swung to the Democrats in 2018. So, a base strategy runs the risk of being a wash or even a net negative.*

Winning the Electoral College in 2020 means 1) holding every state Hillary carried in 2016 and 2) flipping Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin back to the Blue column. That means building off the Democratic House victory in 2018, running to the middle, and focusing on kitchen table issues like health care and education to carry suburban moderates in those three states. Biden, as meh a candidate as he is, gets this. His Democratic competitors need to figure it out post-haste.

Zooming out, the larger issue is that, in democratic societies, longer life-spans have the effect of prolonging the political power of older, conservative voters thus slowing the pace of social reform.

*Unless the U.S. economy tanks between now and next November.

246:

Obama sold "Hope" and had turnout ~10% higher than 2016. Warren sells "Competence". I don't know Harris' selling point, but I suspect it would have a wider appeal than your own definition of Biden's - "Republicans only hate me because of the '(D)' after my name".

Things need to change. We're in a time when politics is the art of the necessary, rather than the possible.

Everybody over fifty says "things do not need to change". They're wrong.

Everybody under fifty is finding out that nothing is quite so important to high-status primates as keeping their status.

The great genius of Brexit is that it casts the preferred change of the oligarchy as the necessary change of "maybe the lower orders will survive". It makes it almost impossible for their to be non-kabuki politics about Brexit, because you can't take Brexit on without taking on "things need to change" and you could maybe do one or the other but you can't do both. (The Queen could do both, if willing to risk the monarchy. The Queen is not willing to risk the monarchy.)

247:

You almost have it right. It needs to be "STOP BREXIT and then implement _________." Where ______________ is stuff like "Cool leftist idea for protecting people against predatory banks" or "protect our tax base against money laundering" or whatever the UK needs.

248:

Jesus. I wish this didn't seem like a real scenario in the current climate!

That aside, I popped by to post this interesting bit of weirdness:

How did Trump end up in front of a presidential seal doctored to include a Russian symbol?

Inadvertent cock-up? Epic trolling? Something more sinister?

249:

Violating the GFA isn't the UK's problem if the UK withdraws from the GFA … and from Northern Ireland. At that point (makes hand-washing gestures) NI is Someone Else's Problem.

That's why I think this might appeal to Boris. It's simple, ignores all the details, and if only it wasn't for those pesky Northern Irish MPs it might be possible. And who knows? After the next general election ...

250:

Yep. The legalities seem unlikely to disturb Johnson too much.

And given how this shit-show is circling the drain, I'm not sure how the population here would react. In the short term this might cause worse problems than Brexit, but if it lead to a fast-track re-unification (which the Irish Government seems to be starting to take actual, if tiny, steps towards prepping for) would the pain ultimately be less than that of being shackled to an ever more socio-politically bonkers Britain?

An interesting question, for values of "interesting" defined by that ancient curse...

251:

To be clear (for Americans), this would be like Trump and McConnell dealing with the vexed problem of statehood for Puerto Rico by telling PR, "fuck off, you're on your own" and cutting them loose at a month's notice.

It's not a good idea. But it's the sort of idea that might appeal to the lunatics now running the asylum.

252:

"Per Napoleon, "never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake". The Tory party is ripping itself to shreds over Brexit. Remember, if they don't deliver the hardest of hard no deal Brexits, half their base will desert to the neo-Nazi Faragist party; and if they do deliver it, they trash the economy (and they're traditionally the party of business: when the Chambers of Commerce and the Confederation of British Industry are howling angrily at them, something has gone very wrong indeed). So Corbyn's plausible plan is to sit on his hands, not sacrifice Labour voters unnecessarily (the Labour loyalists who want Brexit because there's always a good 20% of any population group who are totally divorced from reality), while the Tories explode."

IMHO, this is related to the US posts on this blog - there's an assumption, rooted in the Long Long Ago Time, that if the Opposition shoots itself in the foot, then the other party will benefit. As has been seen in both the UK and US, that's far less of the case. I think that there's an underlying assumption, that the Opposition is not the Enemy. It's clear in both countries that the right-wing parties feel that any opposition is The Enemy, while carrying on policies almost deliberately designed to weaken their countries.

From the outside, I've noticed that the Tory rhetoric is to blame every problem that they themselves created on 'betrayers'; they are *already* at the spot where their current rhetoric has prepped their followers to blame all problems on them.

253:

If the Labour Party (or more accurately its current leader) was truly existing to get into power then they wouldn't be doing what they are doing.

The media keep attacking Labour about anti-semitism because Labour leadership keeps refusing to deal with the issue - if they had dealt with the issue years ago then the media would have to try and find something else.

But the biggest problem is that Labour leadership is totally ignoring the fact the UK politics has changed in the last 4 years, and that to a large extent manifestos don't matter - what matters is your Brexit position. But because leadership also wants Brexit, just a Labour version, they are unable to connect with the voters disgusted with the Conservatives / UKIP / Brexit Party and thus have allowed the other parties to gain momentum as the "true" alternative to the Conservatives.

The problem now is that as the electorate has wised up regarding Labour leadership, said leadership no longer have any credibility on the Brexit issue and even a decision to change to remain to appeal to the (now apparently) majority of the public is unlikely to work as the general public no longer trust them.

254:

"b) Corbyn is old. No offense, Greg—I know he's younger than you—but most British political careers are coasting on fumes by his age: if he becomes PM now he'll be the oldest first-term PM since 1832 or earlier. He's had 30-40 years of being a conscientious objector: it's very hard to change the habits of a lifetime, and the threat (or promise) of becoming PM has put him totally outside his comfort zone. He's slow to respond to sudden pressures (witness the "labour antisemitism" fiasco amplified by the right wing press—I'd say it's more of a British antisemitism problem, shared by the Tories, but with enough fools inside Labour to provide plausible kindling for an orchestrated media firestorm of abuse). So I suspect he's just dithering, hoping that something will come up to save him tomorrow if he doesn't commit to anything today."

Note that what you are saying is that the Labor Party's leadership has *extremely* inflexible and unlearning leadership in the most rapidly changing times for the UK since the summer of 1945. That's an amazing flaw for the party, and likely a fatal one.

255:

"...reparations for slavery, open door immigration, etc.--are alienating to suburban moderates (i.e. white women) who swung to the Democrats in 2018.

But these are not standard Democratic ideas. These are ideas that come from "the loony left" rather than mainstream Democratic thinking. "Reparations for slavery" is a non-starter as soon as one starts to think about the actual ideals of justice: if I kill someone can the seventh generation of their descendants sue my great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren? You might be able to argue that there are living Blacks who were damaged by Jim Crow or redlining, or more modern forms of racism such as the weaponization of drug laws, but even then the youngest survivors of Jim Crow would be something like sixty years old... so on both practical grounds and according to the issues of justice, how would such a plan work? And how would you avoid creating conditions that were ripe for exploitation by something like an asset-forfeiture scheme aimed at Black people? If someone has considered these issues I'm opening to hearing their plan, but this is very much a matter of throwing red meat to the far-left.

Open Immigration is a little more interesting, particularly if the process went both ways. For example, under some kind of Open Immigration scheme, if I see a cool economic opportunity in Mexico, can I freely move down there? Also, can you guarantee that Open Immigration (with it's probably influx of poor immigrants) won't damage the economic prospects of U.S. Citizens? "Immigrants are trying to steal my jobs" sounds very racist. But "Immigrants will lower the demand for labor and thus create lower wages" sounds fairly rational. I suspect that the conditions created by Open Immigration, if it went both ways, would be very good in a hundred years, but the first twenty years could get a little painful.

Your average Democrat has no interest in either of these. Pro-Union? Yes. Pro-Equal Rights? Certainly. Pro-Retraining for people hurt by economic circumstances? Sure. Pro less-expensive-health-care? Definitely. But the two ideas you brought up are so fanciful that applying them to the majority of Democrats isn't even wrong.

256:

I'm fascinated. Would Boris campaign on the plan to expel Northern Ireland?

257:

There'd be immediate violent rebellion with Ulster Volunteers magnitude popular support.

NHS workers at the prospect of being 'managed' by the HSE, I mean.

258:

I would guess no, for the simple reason that you don't know what the reaction of the general public would be.

The Brexit ultras likely wouldn't like it because it wouldn't get them their "pure" Brexit as it would make the acceptance of the current deal possible. So they would vote Brexit Party.

But I would guess the bigger danger would be moving the election from Brexit to UK nationalism, with those wanting the maintaining of the current union abandoning the Conservatives.

259:

"...a lot of people on both sides need to stop acting like children and demanding that their parents do whatever it is they want them to do or else they'll cry, and realise that there is a lot of politics going on here and there needs to be some give or take. "

It's *all* been take, take, take by the Brexiteers. The only reason that they haven't succeeded yet is that there are enough Tory MP's who realized that they have a choice between a hated deal (the best that they can get) and crashing the country.

260:

" It makes it almost impossible for their to be non-kabuki politics about Brexit, because you can't take Brexit on without taking on "things need to change" and you could maybe do one or the other but you can't do both."

I disagree. Brexit is a major piece of fraud - they promised that the UK people would have all of the advantages and none of the disadvantages that there were no disadvantages, and that anybody contradicting them was fearmongering.

261:

I would like to say that is quite impossible - unfortunately, I can't in all honesty do so :-( A slightly more moderate form of that, which could be finessed to conform to the GFA (by the mandarins, natch, as you are correct that Bozo doesn't care) is:

Bozo wins big, and signs up to the withdrawal agreement together with backstop, with an arrangement that Northern Ireland (and Gibraltar) remain part of the EU customs union. He can rely on Sinn Fein sabotaging any attempt to challenge that in the courts and, as there is no prospect of Stormont reassembling, organises semi-permanent direct rule in consultation with Dublin. And, yes, he also starts to restrict immigration from there, together with Eire and the rest of the EU.

This does not change anonemouse's prediction much.

262:

Yep. All this, and what anonemouse said too.

The question that is uppermost in my mind on this is: If the DUP are no longer in the loop what is the actual incentive (in the current Westminster/rUK political climate) to keep NI?

If the only thing you want to do is deliver Brexit (and don't need the DUP top do so) and damn the consequences (which on the surface seems to be Johnson's preference), ditching NI seems like a no-brainer. It may actually gain him further popular support in the rUK amongst Brexiters of all stripes for reasons that should be fairly obvious.

263:

You know what ?

That would work.

Yes, some idiots will shoot other idiots, but they will kill a lot less people than the present heat-wave, and crucially for Boris it will be Somebody Elses Problem.

I can even see Boris calling the snap election on that plan, because with the help of the Mega-Murphy-Phones he can easily sell to the little englanders, that the only problem is that the racism was not taken to eleven right from the start.

I'm sure it will be documented that NI costs England a lot of money, "and gives us nothing but grief in return", and Scotland will be blamed for "meddling" and "holding England back" etc.

I can even see history teachers explain 25 years from now, that it was only thing and thus the right thing to do in the first place.

Somebody send him a link and let's get it over with...

264:

Right. I don't talk politics with that sort of person much, nowadays, because it is bad for my blood pressure. But, as someone brought up in that environment (and being from the same class and of the same age as the people who voted Bozo in), you understand them perfectly. I doubt that those of other classes and ages are any better.

265:

It was mathematical and engineering nonsense (i.e. fantasy) dressed up as hard science fiction, and has led a huge number of otherwise intelligent people (no, not Cummings) into sloppy thinking.
In my school days I was a big fan of our old USSR sci-fi authors A/B Strugatsky. They are less than famous in the west but they were pretty mainstream at the time, especially in area of serious sci-fi talk inside the country. Therefore I've read almost 100% of their bibliography and I clearly remember that they've come to similar conclusions at some point at about mid-80s. Practically you can say that early ideas of transhumanism were floating in the air, everywhere. As for brothers, they've implemented term "vertical progress", which could be somewhat compared to "singularity", although it wasn't exactly technological in their novel written at the time.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Time_Wanderers
Although compared to today's standards, it was described a bit different to what most people imagined at the time. They've focused on individual progress of selected number of human beings, rather than evolution of society as whole - and the evolution of consciousness and expanding human potential. And the conflict that appears out of the fact that only some percentage can achieve such evolution, while the rest are forever bound to more classic ways. I realize now, compared to new "cyberpunk" stuff that was gaining popularity at the time, it seemed to be almost archaic. Unfortunately, later on most of "singularists" were more fascinated with purely technological "ascension" that pretty much discarded the humans as disposable anachronisms who outlived their use.

Yes, it started out restricted to science fiction but, as you note, it has now got into mainstream politics. I don't know if anyone predicted that - I certainly didn't, even though I realized some of the harm that would arise.
Well this is one of the unfortunate things that nobody could have predicted. Not in the sense that wouldn't arise, but in the scope how far it will go (see "interplanetary rockets", "tube trains" and "bricks out of dirt"), while not going far enough really. It is such a shame our real world can't be built out of rendered models.

Meanwhile:
About 3 weeks ago I bought "Electric state" hard cover book that magically appeared in bookstore nearest to me (translated, ofc). It isn't a masterpiece of storytelling, being an illustrated book with pieces of narration scattered around, but certainly a great experience to have it in hands. I still have some bits of nostalgia for paper.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sRKEgyZgW8

266:

Are we talking "litoral" vessels? I see that the word, itself, means "coast" or "coastline". So, we position them, and sink them, and then they defend the coastline from the vicious attacks by Poseidon, and make a nice artificial reef.

267:

You wrote:
And about 80% would riot if my personal edict was passed. (Any county with median rental prices > 50% of the median income is immediately zoned for high density housing. Environmental impact reports, et cetera, are no longer required.).
---
I LOVE IT! That would *kill* the friggin' house-flippers (buy a place, redo the kitchen, slap on a coat of paint, sell, one year later, for 150% of the purchase price (like the one I saw, in '11, bought in 2010 for $275k, real estate did that, will in spring '11 for $390k).

Btw, I say that as a homeowner in what I keep reading is a county that has one of the highest median incomes in the US.... (I'm not in one of the #insert nose_in_air.h good areas).

268:

I agree the brexiters have been all take, but there have been quite a few remainers, of lower status, fame, voice, etc, who have spent the last 2 or 3 years telling labour to become a fully remain party or else, in complete ignorance of the actual state of electoral politics in the country and despite the complex polling which indicates that this is a very messy issue. Because they aren't the ones in power and have had little direct effect, I haven't exactly said much about them or slagged them off or whatever, but they do need to get a better idea of the actual politics in the house of commons and elsewhere. My ire is 99.9% reserved for the evil tories and their supporters.

269:

They did institute new and better systems for dealing with accusations etc a year or more ago, it's just the media doesn't cover them, preferring to go for the silly personal stuff which is also tangled up with the anti-semitism.
You seem unaware that there are and should be differences between the tories and labour. If people can switch from tory to labour on the basis of their brexit position then lots of labour voters won't vote labour because labour will be too right wing; Corbyn et al picked up a lot of votes because they went for a proper left of centre manifesto and suchlike, and have been banging on about being actually left of centre and here to sort out the tory mess for ages. The labour party has been trying for several years now not to let brexit swamp everything else, but some people, media especially, don't want to know.

270:

But I would guess the bigger danger would be moving the election from Brexit to UK nationalism, with those wanting the maintaining of the current union abandoning the Conservatives.

The thing is, Brexit isn't about the EU at all, when you get down to it: it's about English identity politics.

Dragging the union kicking and screaming into the focus of attention would probably be a good thing because that's part of the package: England has not only lost its empire but can no longer sublimate its own sense of identity in "British" identity.

However, really nasty undercurrents might also surface if we go there.

271:

That's an interesting question itself, and not my area of expertise, but the money people I know of are all internationally mobile and have properties in Scotland and England, and often elsewhere in Europe, and their money is salted away all over the place. Some of those big sell offs of the footsie etc in the last 18 months have I suspect been done by their money managers, in preparation for everything going to shit.

See too the German manufacturing going into recession just now.

272:

I've loved the idea of sending da bum up da river to Sing Sing... but I could live with him spending life in Clinton.

273:

Yup. What I've thought of it for a long time.

On the other hand, the idea of Marxian communism, with the state withering away, also sounds like secular millenarianism.

*sigh*

Why I'm a socialist, not a communist.

274:

Um, Labour switching to a remain position doesn't turn them into a right wing party, not the least of which because the majority of Labour supporters are at this point for remain.

But the bigger point is that to a large extent, like I said, the manifesto and its goals are irrelevant. The last election to a point, and the next election will be fought on Brexit and Brexit only.

So regardless of the manifesto, if Labour remains a pro-Brexit party (which is what people have come to realise despite is public indecision) then they are fighting Conservatives for the Brexit vote while the remain vote goes Liberal Democrat / Green / etc.

Labour picked up votes in the last UK election for 2 main reasons - first that May was a terrible leader in an election, and secondly because they managed to convince younger voters they were remain, and the older Brexit voters that they were for Brexit.

That won't work again, as the younger voters have had their eyes opened that Corbyn played them for fools. This is reflected not only in recent polls and elections, but in the disappearance of the public support for Corbyn and his resultant absence from Glastonbury.

But the biggest problem is that this fencing sitting, trying to have things both ways, is now coming across as a leader who cannot make a decision - and that isn't good as leaders are expected to make decisions.

275:

Note, btw, that both Wisconsin and Michigan now have Dem governors, who have been undoing what the previous scumitarians did to rig the vote.

276:

You wrote:
Everybody over fifty says "things do not need to change". They're wrong.

I object. I'm well over 50, as is my SO, and my ex, and a *lot* of other folks I know, and we all disagree, we all think there needs to be a Change.

Wish I could find the PO for that order of tumbrels....

277:

Right. I am over 70, and I agree.

278:

Everybody over fifty says "things do not need to change". They're wrong.

I'm over 50, and working for change. Less convinced it will happen than I was when I was younger. Also politically further left than I was when I was younger.

279:

Well okay, you say the next election will be fought mostly to all on brexit. Some of us disagree, or see that as only part of the issue; the question is how much can parties and individuals swing the outcome, and who decides it will be fought only on brexit anyway? The media?

280:

I see a headline from CNN, that BoJo "promises a quick exit from Europe." So, Charlie, I think you weren't thinking big enough; I assume this means he's planning on moving the Royal Navy into the Channel, and pushing Britain across the Atlantic.

Just make sure he doesn't stop over where Atlantis used to be....

281:

And about 80% would riot if my personal edict was passed. (Any county with median rental prices > 50% of the median income is immediately zoned for high density housing. Environmental impact reports, et cetera, are no longer required.). Why? Because we already use zoning as highly effective de facto segregation and are willing to spend 4+ hours a day commuting to keep the other away.

Boy, the slum lords would love you: What you're proposing is a free license to build tenements and shanties, never mind the lack of sewer hookups, potable water, or fire hazards.

Thing is, the problem IS NOT the environmental impact reports (EIRs). I'm working on commenting on four of those suckers at the moment and I know parts of CEQA really, really well.

CEQA, for those who don't know, is a law that at it's heart asks what any good parent tries to teach their children: before you do something, figure out what problems it's going to cause, make sure you try avoid those problems as much as possible, try to fix the ones you can't avoid, and if you're going to cause damage, try to make sure that the benefits from what you're doing outweigh the damage caused.

The problem with CEQA is not the cost. I've had a businessman tell me that CEQA is decimal dust in the cost of building a project, and if the developer can't afford the CEQA costs, they have no business building the project, because their profit margin is too low.

There are problems with slow CEQA document processing (often under Republican mayors/supervisors who shrink the size of the development services department, then complain that it can't handle the capacity as an excuse to get rid of it), and there are problems with labor unions filing frivolous CEQA suits as a way to try to get labor contracts with developers.

But the major problem is that many developers prefer to pay for steaming hunks of male bovine excrement masquerading as EIRs, then to bribe donate generously to re-election funds to get the projects approved regardless of complaints, so that the only brake is litigation.

Then there's us, the environmental community. We sue over things like, oh, projects on lands that's supposed to be parks, for good reason, because there are major wildlife corridors (one area's burned 17 times since 1910, most recently in 2007). Want to build over 1,000 high end homes there with one road in and out? Why yes, the Republican majority supervisors voted to do just that. Three times so far on four separate projects. These are all crappy places to build homes, and we can pretty much guarantee that the people who might move there would have no clue how dangerous they are, simply because those who did have a clue wouldn't buy the homes.

Anyway, said supervisors have a general plan that obligates them to build affordable housing, and they're dragging their heels on it. Meanwhile they're voting for General Plan amendments to build these high end fire traps, while whining that the environmentalists are stopping them from building affordable housing. We aren't, but it's a convenient lie.

Taking the EIRs away won't solve this problem. At best it will let unscrupulous landlords build tenements and charge high rents for them, at worst it will allow developers to build high end homes, claim*(without proof) that they're affordable, and donate to electeds' re-election campaigns so that they vote for the lies.

The solution is hard work:
--testify at hearings, and comment on this problem. Right now it's the environmentalist community who's doing a lot of advocating for affordable housing, even though it's not our specialty, because the affordable housing advocates aren't showing up where they can make a difference.
--Get involved in making affordable a budgeting issue for the electeds by showing up and testifying when they're doing budgets.
--Get involved in electing people who will work on this, and defeating those who want to be sock puppets for old-school sprawl developers.
--Donate to the campaigns of politicians who favor affordable housing (they're always democratic these days, often people of color)
--Make sure that the affordable housing you advocate for isn't a shanty town or a slum. Those are easier to make then you think, especially when you take away regulation on what's built where.

282:

Elderly Cynic @ 228: Technically, there is no difficulty, and many people have been saying for some decades that the UK navy needs a sizeable fleet of small vessels. ...

If Bozo and his bigots had any sense, they would announce such a plan, commission competent designs, FUND IT, and give contracts to the obvious places in the northern wastes of the UK.

I notice that Jeremy Hunt got fired, so I guess the idea of any kind of cooperative effort with Europe to deal with the problem is RIGHT OUT.

283:

"The thing is, Brexit isn't about the EU at all, when you get down to it: it's about English identity politics. "

Yes, that has been obvious to practically anyone outside UK.

Personally I did estimate the probability of Brexit to be something like 40% (before the vote), but I was looking at the economic aspect and thought Brexit to be utter madness. My colleague who is a political scientist with a large part of sociology thrown in, estimated the Brexit probability to be over 75%. She was right, I was wrong.

But then a point on USA. I think that most of the liberal/progressive/leftist commenters do not understand the appeal of Trump. Trump promised to turn USA to the "values that made America great". Make America Great Again.

Many progressive-oriented people think that economy has something to do with that. They are wrong.

The Trump Base thinks that "Make America Great Again" means that the liberal nonsense will be thrown out. It is an ideological, not economic statement. Trump has been delivering that ideological change. Just look at the number of blatantly Republican and/or ultra-conservative judges appointed during The Trump Regime.

The law in USA will be mainly political issue for a long time. The Republicans have achieved a revolution by changing what the law means. Brilliant achievement.

The most competent of the Democratic contenders is, in my opinion, Warren. But I agree that a great deal of Democratic voters will either stay at home or vote for Trump. Warren is a woman, which is a sin in some people's eyes. In addition, she is like the teacher who taught you to read and write and who seemed to know all the right answers.

Therefore I am betting on the Second Season of The Trump Regime.

284:

Inadvertent cock-up? Epic trolling? Something more sinister?
Here's another. I admire this effort, a lot, if there was intent involved. :-)
Trump's doctored presidential seal leads to firing (25 July 2019)

Instead of holding 13 arrows - a reference to the 13 original states - the eagle in the doctored seal clutches a set of golf clubs in its left talon.

285:

General question: have there been any successful (or even semi-successful) efforts in the UK to boycott products advertised in Murdoch media properties?
My quick searches came up empty.

286:

Charlie @ 242
SLIGHT problem
That progamme of BOZO's that you mentioned is defined as Treason - it is directly contray to EIR's coronation Oath & her constitutional duty.
This could be a slight problem
but does anyone really believe Boris gives a shit about the U in UK?
No, I don't & neither do the rabid brexiteers ... but a huge number of the rest of us do .... again, sight problem.

anonemeouse @ 243
So, it's illegal? BOZO has already employed a criminal, held in contempt of Parliament as an advisor ...

Graydon @ 246
Everybody over fifty says "things do not need to change". They're wrong. Utter bollocks - I'm 73 & I'm screaming for change, especially in the Liebour party & you haven't even noticed?
SEE ALSO 276 - 278

Troutwaxer @ 247
Whatever ...
Let's remeber that Churchill offered De Valera & "Eire" NI on a plate - & they turned it down, because NOTHING ELSE MATTERED but defeating the Nazis ... And WC, having enocountered NI protestant-nutters at Curragh & arms-shipments in 1913-14 had zero sympathy with tose aresholes...
My opinon od "Dev" went down another notch, when OI forst learnt of that fiasco, many years ago, now.

mdlve @ 253
If the Labour Party (or more accurately its current leader) was truly existing to get into power then they wouldn't be doing what they are doing.
YOU NOTICED - Graydon & EC have not, yet ... which is the problem.
UK politics has changed in the last 4 years, and that to a large extent manifestos don't matter - what matters is your Brexit position - which echoes my stance, I notice ...
& @ 274
- now tell guthrie, please?

Barry @ 254
YES
... ditto @ 259

guthrie @ 269
Excuse me & everybody (house rules) FUCKING GROW UP - PLEASE?
What part of "Nothing else matters" don't you understand?
A Corbyn goernment ( Which is a joke) is acceptable IF we remain in the EU - & you know how much I despise his stubborn stupidity - yes?
& @ 279
Like I said - join the real world ....

287:

Greg Tingey @ 235: I've heard/seen Charlie on "Not interrupting your enemy making a mistake", but for fuck's sake this is the future of the entore set of countries for the next hunderd years at stake eher, & they STILL don't get it!

That idea should be contingent on what kind of mistake your enemy is making and what the consequences are for the rest of us.

If you saw your "enemy" in a pub "drunk as a lord" and then getting behind the wheel of a bus full of passengers prepratory to driving it off the White Cliffs of Dover (just to see if it will fly), wouldn't you intervene to try and take the keys away?

288:

I'm over fifty.

Statistically, we don't exist. The risk is too big and the change is too large.

(Keep in mind that the minimum ante is now something on the order of "abolish capitalism, great personal wealth, and fossil carbon extraction; at the lowest possible economic cost, but do it." There are a lot of quite left-leaning people who would by no means go that far.)

289:

“Some idiots will shoot other idiots, but they will kill a lot less people than the present heat-wave”

The trouble is that one can’t rely on the idiots to shoot only others of their ilk. A large number of people end up being shot for wearing the wrong coloured jumper* that day, or “looking at me funny”. Then of course there are things like car bombs, which are less discerning again.

* Sure most normal people will trash any green or orange clothing immediately, but then it will be that people think you’re unionist if you wear blue and republican if you wear red, and then it’s fractal all the way down. Schismers gonna schism and all that.

290:

The thing is, Brexit isn't about the EU at all, when you get down to it: it's about English identity politics.

I'm not sure I agree.

I think the English identity politics are a tool being used in an attempt to create an untaxable class. (A desire to be untaxable was a perennial problem with European aristocracies, and if what we're seeing in the Post-Reagan regulatory era is an aristocratic resurgence, well. Why not get the habitual problems back, too?)

I think Sunzi had a solid point about the need to know both your enemy and yourself; I think that inverts, so that you can know someone by observing their selection of enemies as they understand them, and is sure looks like the core of Brexit is driven, not by "anyone who constrains the free will of the English is my enemy", but "anyone who thinks they have a claim on my money is my enemy".

This is not to say I don't think the core Brexiters aren't dreadful white supremacists in their own views and practices; it's clear that they are. What's not clear is whether they've noticed there's disapproval of that in certain quarters.

So I don't think the plan is "win a general election"; the bits about "have to neutralise the Brexit party" in that ring false. It seems unlikely Farage and BoJo aren't part of the same plan. I'd suppose the point includes winning a general election, but on the way to formalising membership in the untaxable aristocracy.

291:

Elderly Cynic @ 236: More subservience to the USA military-industrial complex?

I would just like to take a moment to point out that a substantial portion of that "USA military-industrial complex" are owned by British banks & corporations.

Splinter, beam, etc.

292:

paws4thot @ 238: #237 I have no idea what the "right wing press" are ignoring, because I'm ignoring print press, and broadcast beside radio bulletins.

Doesn't really work. You have to be at least periphally aware of what they've got on their minds so you're ready to dodge the knife in the back.

293:

Poul-Henning Kamp @ 241: ... because US men, no matter what age, as a rule do not vote for women if they can avoid it.

I guess I'm the exception that "proves the rule", because I've voted for women lots of times; NEVER a GOPer [rhymes with groper] woman, but numerous women nonetheless (local, county, state & national).

294:

And among younger Americans, that's no longer the case. Meanwhile, us Boomers are getting up there....

295:

anonemouse @ 240: Obama sold "Hope" and had turnout ~10% higher than 2016.

My problem with Obama is that after he sold "Hope", he sold out. He tried too hard to be bi-partisan, failing to recognize that the GOPers [rhymes with gropers] would never compromise even if he offered them everything they wanted.

FUBAR007 @ 245: A further complication is that the progressive faction's marquee agenda items--reparations for slavery, open door immigration, etc.--are alienating to suburban moderates (i.e. white women) who swung to the Democrats in 2018.

Reparations for slavery. I'm not against them, I think it's needful. I just can't figure out how to do it justly. You can't correct one wrong by creating another wrong, and I've seen no scheme yet that threads that needle.

296:

Dave_the_Proc @ 248: Jesus. I wish this didn't seem like a real scenario in the current climate!

That aside, I popped by to post this interesting bit of weirdness:

How did Trump end up in front of a presidential seal doctored to include a Russian symbol?

Inadvertent cock-up? Epic trolling? Something more sinister?

A spokesperson for Turning Point USA stated, "One of our video team members did a Google Image search for a high-res png (file) presidential seal," adding that the individual "did the search and with the pressure of the event, didn't notice that it is a doctored seal."

It was apparently an innocent mistake. They fired him anyway.

297:

It always was, for reasons I pointed out in #138. What you may have missed is that Prunt is no less arrogant and ignorant than Bozo, just more plausible.

298:

So? I am not denying that it ceased to be purely USA-dominated and became 'multinational' some time ago.

I Like Ike.

299:

No, I have noticed. But I have a LOT more time for a person or party who has ANY half-decent principles (even if I don't completely agree with them) than who is purely and simply interested in power. You clearly don't mind.

300:

A mental exercise: list the various parties in the Gulf and ask which war each of them wants.

The Kingdom wants someone else to prosecute a war if annihilation against Iran, with just enough of a role for the some - but not all of the Saudi armies to be plausible victors.

Everyone who lives next to the Kingdom wants... What?

And which wars, to what end, are wars that Iran doesn't want, but would fight very hard indeed if the alternative was the House of Saud triumphant over the whole of the Middle East?

What war does Turkey want, and what opportunities for gain are on offer to their generals?

301:

...because US men, no matter what age, as a rule do not vote for women if they can avoid it.

Things are changing. Using share of state legislative seats, by state, as a rough proxy, Nevada currently has 52% of seats held by women. This map color-codes states with 30% or more of the state legislative seats held by women in pink, the others in baby blue. The match is not perfect, but there's a strong correlation with the red/blue partisan maps from 2016.

302:

Troutwaxer @ 255:

"...reparations for slavery, open door immigration, etc.--are alienating to suburban moderates (i.e. white women) who swung to the Democrats in 2018."

But these are not standard Democratic ideas. These are ideas that come from "the loony left" rather than mainstream Democratic thinking.

Not the "loony left", which is not so loony as you might think. These are ideas attributed to Democrats by the same mainstream media that hounded Clinton about her "emails" and completely ignored Trump's history of criminality (money laundering, wage theft, MLM & ponzi schemes ... sexual assault) and blatant racism. If you believe their bullshit, you know fuck all about what Democrats really want.

Redlining and Jim Crow have real effects that are still evident today. Democrats favor ameliorating those effects. Trump and his "base" want to bring back segregation and Jim Crow, as well as giving force of law to religious discrimination.

Open immigration and asylum are NOT the same thing. Democrats favor Due Process (and humane treatment) for asylum seekers. And they want to find some path to citizenship for "DREAMERS" - undocumented persons who were brought to the U.S. as minor children; those who are here "illegally" through no fault of their own. They seek the same for victims of sex trafficing, who were also brought to the U.S. against their own volition.

LEGAL immigrants don't lower wages. CORPORATIONS exploiting undocumented immigrants lower wages, because they know the immigrants will find it difficult to go to court seeking redress. Corporations hire undocumented workers because they know the can cheat them on their wages.

... and you forgot equality of access to opportunity that doesn't discriminate on the basis of race, creed, nationality, gender or sexual orientation. You can't guarantee equality of outcomes, but you can guarantee everyone has an equal opportunity to compete for those outcomes; that no one is denied the chance to get ahead because their skin is the wrong color, or they don't believe in the right god, or because they love the wrong people.

303:

The problem is, perhaps as a part of human nature, we all tend to want to point to 1 thing that explains Trump as if changing that one thing fixes everything.

What Trump has done, in his rambling way, is put together a coalition of groups that all apply their own issue to MAGA.

Yes, for many the issue is the courts and the "liberal nonsense" - this shouldn't come as a surprise given that Bush2 used the threat of gay marriage to get voters out.

But there also other groups under the Trump umbrella - those who are racist and want the US to return to a nice white country - and those where the economy is the issue like coal country or pretty much anywhere outside of a city that is getting left behind in the economy of the future.

The closest you can come is to say that they all want to return the US to say the 1950s, where everyone had a good job and everyone went to church and the none-whites were either non-existent or "knew their place".

Either way, you get all those groups together and that is what gave Trump the Whitehouse.

304:

whitroth @ 294: And among younger Americans, that's no longer the case. Meanwhile, us Boomers are getting up there....

WHAT is no longer the case among younger Americans? WHERE or WHAT is it "us Boomers" are getting up to?

When y'all are replying to something I wrote, I wish you would supply enough context (@ NNN or quote something) so I can figure out what you're replying to.

305:

Elderly Cynic @ 297: It always was, for reasons I pointed out in #138.

WHAT always was? Context?

306:

The problem is that the incentives are completely misaligned between people, eg, commuting to work and people living in an area. For people living in an area - housing scarcity is a good and they will, and do, use any lever available to sabotage any new project.

When someone waits 2-3 years into a project and then files an appeal (halting construction - the environmental impact review cost is not negligible.) ...and thereby ended construction on a local Whole Foods pretty much solely because some local grocers didn't want competition. It had been in planning for 5+ years... We also lost out on construction of a national laboratory in place of a largely abandoned racetrack.***zzZ

The whole 'work hard' thing may work occasionally, in much the same way that upward mobility in the US does. However, on average, it fails.

I'd be perfectly fine with a high density unit going into an area with insufficient sewage and the local government being forced to upgrade.

That human cost is much lower than that of a janitor commuting for 4 hours daily to clean houses in a wealthy neighborhood because the people there simply don't want poor people living anywhere nearby.

I mean maybe just letting people vote by working address would help.

307:
Let's remeber that Churchill offered De Valera & "Eire" NI on a plate - & they turned it down, because NOTHING ELSE MATTERED but defeating the Nazis ... And WC, having enocountered NI protestant-nutters at Curragh & arms-shipments in 1913-14 had zero sympathy with tose aresholes... My opinon od "Dev" went down another notch, when OI forst learnt of that fiasco, many years ago, now.
No, he didn't: he offered to ask the Government of Northern Ireland to assent to being rejoined to Éire, and a year later - after midnight, after learning Pearl Harbour had been attacked - sent a telegram quoting the IPP's anthem and offering to meet. Given the Ulster Volunteers armed themselves at the suggestion of Home Rule, there's quite a distance between "I'll ask" and serving it up on a plate....
(Dev was a bollocks, but that's unrelated to this matter.)
308:

Yes, there are a lot of people who take the Singularity as a religion, and have unrealistic ideas about what is possible. But this doesn't mean it's not (currently) happening. It's unfolding a lot more slowly than the proponents expected, but it's happening. The current electoral politics is a clear part of it. Jobs that people have expected to be there and pay well are being automated away. And you can't predict what's going to happen next.

Now seriously people have always felt this about there current state, but there are times when it's happening more rapidly...and this is one of them, and has been, and increasingly so, since the early 1900's. An argument can be made that it dates back to the industrial revolution, and is part of what set off the US Civil War, with massive centralization of power.

My guess is that the current rate of change will hit an inflection about 2035, as AI becomes more capable. What that's going to mean is an open question, and anyone who tells you "This is what it means!" is either deluded or lying (or an author...i.e. they're saying that in a context where you are supposed to recognize that it's fiction). But exponential trends can't continue forever without something breaking. Singularity means that this is a point where things are undifferentiable. I usually say unpredictable, but that's not quite right, it's just that the old models all stop working. In this case I can't tell whether it's more like taking the square of x or the square root of x as x moves from 1 towards -1.

309:

Please don’t give him any ideas!

310:

Yeah. I get all that. And I get more than all that.

I'm just saying that both things are slogans at best, comparable to right wingers saying "Execute people who have abortions" or "Put Gays in camps." Nobody making serious policy believes them.

People making serious policy believe something kinda-sorta like "reparations for slavery" or kinda-sorta like "open immigration." But the don't come close to either of those ideas as you phrased them in your original post.

311:

JBS @ 287
Precisely ... BOZO is preparing to drive the whole nation - all 3.5 nations, actually, over the cliff & Corbyn certainly appears to be doing nothing about it...

EC @ 299
And which arsehole did you pull that uuterly not-even-wrong conclusion from?
The IMPORTANT thing is to stop Brexit - yet both Corbyn & BOZO are putting party before country - a principle I "do not approve of" shall we say?

Troutwaxer @ 310
comparable to right wingers saying "Execute people who have abortions" or "Put Gays in camps." Nobody making serious policy believes them.
WRONG
People who have abortions are being sentenced to life in Jail - right now ... in good old Romam Catholic christian central america .... & you can bet the ultras in the US would love to import the custom ...

312:

The context was purely and simply the posting of yours I was responding to - if you have just referred back, all would have been clear. But, to assist you, you said:

"I notice that Jeremy Hunt got fired, so I guess the idea of any kind of cooperative effort with Europe to deal with the problem is RIGHT OUT."

313:

A certain Greg Tingey's.

Firstly, your claim that Brexit is the critical thing is not everybody's opinion - I am one of those who regard halting the slide towards 17th century society and a banana state economy as far more important.

But, even more importantly, you started foaming at the mouth and gibbering hysterically against Corbyn when he was elected, NOT just on Brexit grounds, and have several times said that a Conservative government is preferable to one of his. And, if you think that they have any principles other than greed, you are deluded.

Corbyn's (public) Brexit position has always been consistent with those of his MPs, party and voters - none of which have consensus except that No Deal is unacceptable.

314:

It depends on what you mean by "it". Yes, there is change along those lines, but it is almost certain not to become exponential let alone become a true singularity. You may as well say that we had a singularity during the electronics revolution (say, 1947-1987).

315:

#246 - Another over 50 who wants change.

#266 - In context, a "littoral vessel" tends to mean low draft and tonnage, designed primarily for patrolling coasts and archipelagos; British "fisheries protection vessels" and US "Coastguard cutters" for example. As discussed up thread, British Motor Gun (and Torpedo) Boats, and German Schnellboots from WW2 would also be examples.

#268 - I can't think how to do it effectively, but I'd like to see a poll that establishes which party people actually support, and associate that with their position on Brexit.

316:

EC
STOP IT
You automatically put the very worst interpretation possible onto things I haven't said - I used to have an unpleasanr Aunt who did that ...
As for: Firstly, your claim that Brexit is the critical thing is not everybody's opinion - I am one of those who regard halting the slide towards 17th century society and a banana state economy as far more important.
BUT - Brexit will accelerate the trend to Rees-Smaug's vision of Britain - or can't you see that?
Brexit has to be stopped, FIRST, as a prerequiste for the second, actually.

Corbyn's public position on Brexit has been to face both ways at once, actually.

317:

“automatically put the very worst interpretation possible”

That’s what cynicism is. See my objections cross thread.

318:

“Nobody making serious policy believes them.”

It might not be serious policy but don’t doubt there’s legislation for that happening in a state near you. It’ll be not even half thought through and accompanied by unintended consequences galore, but when did that ever bother them?

319:

A mental exercise: list the various parties in the Gulf and ask which war each of them wants.

What westerners think they want: oil revenue, luxury goods, bombs and tanks.

What they actually want: water security, food security, energy security, an end to external powers meddling in their affairs, death upon the unbelievers (starting with the folks down the road they've had a doctrinal dispute with since 602AD).

(Note: this is "they" at the macro/political level. At the individual/family level they mostly want what everybody else wants—water, shelter, food, clothing, a stable environment with a working justice/arbitration system, improved prospects for their children. But it's only since the late 19th century that western rulers have bothered paying even lip service to these things; in the middle east it's still the exception rather than the rule, although the Arab Spring and the Iranian Green Uprising concentrated minds wonderfully.)

At the sharp and pointy end of climate change, the sunni/shi'a doctrinal feud can be distilled down and merged with water security, genocidally: as in, kill the infidels and take their aquifers. This makes about as much sense as John Bolton and the other neocon idiots in the USA thinking the answer to everything that ails the US is another short victorious war—but power elites ain't necessarily smart folks, they're born to power, they don't need to be cunning and wise.

320:

I maintain that we've been through a couple of singularities already.

The first one was the development of language. Without language, we didn't have oral transmissible culture: we were just smart tool-using apes. With it, the rapid spread of ideas between individuals and groups became possible.

The second was the development of writing. I shouldn't need to explain this one's significance, should I?

The third, contingent on the first two, was the development of practical artificial intelligences in the 17th-19th centuries, in the shape of the corporation: a structure for intelligently pursuing objectives without being dependent on impetus arising from a single person. (We might, if we squint, view the modern republic and its civil service as a related version of this system.) Earlier versions going back to the development of writing and agriculture (or before) tended to happen because of a head man, or a committee of head men (the elected governments of the early Greek democracies; the Roman senate).

All our modern AI/computing stuff has done, for the most part, is to automate category 3 and render it less dependent on human bodies.

321:

I mostly agree with your three singularities, but the third has a little twist.

It is not just _any_ corporation, but the corporation with such a diversified and dilluted ownership, that it becomes autonomous.

I think the first real exemplar of this was AT&T, who with their 5% dividends to millions of individual stockholders could treat the annual meeting as a PR-show, rather than as an exercise of power.

Today the majority of big companies operate on a double-arms-length principle: Their shares are held by other corporations, mostly investment funds, and most of their shares are held via indirect means (pension funds) where the actual owner is actively discouraged from not only deciding what to invest in, but also from attempting any kind of influence.

322:

"But then a point on USA. I think that most of the liberal/progressive/leftist commenters do not understand the appeal of Trump. Trump promised to turn USA to the "values that made America great". Make America Great Again.

Many progressive-oriented people think that economy has something to do with that. They are wrong. "

I disagree - I think that most progressives felt that it was racism and general right-wing scheisskopfenism.

The 'liberal' elite MSM, such as the New York Times, pushed the 'economic anxiety' theory because they are extremely corrupt referees, who deliberately don't call fouls on the right whenever possible.

323:

"If you saw your "enemy" in a pub "drunk as a lord" and then getting behind the wheel of a bus full of passengers prepratory to driving it off the White Cliffs of Dover (just to see if it will fly), wouldn't you intervene to try and take the keys away?"

In addition (as I've said before), this assumes that the consequences of the mistake will largely fall on the Tories. That's naive politics in normal times; in these times it's extreme incompetence.

324:

And further, the Labour leadership has smeared their message. They aren't the Remain Party but rather the 'Brexit, me too!' Party. This means that it'll be easy for the right in England to play 'both sides did it', along with the accusations of backstabbing.

325:

In context, a "littoral vessel" tends to mean low draft and tonnage, designed primarily for patrolling coasts and archipelagos...

The Canadian Kingston class coastal defense vessels may be larger than you had in mind but Canada has a lot of coast. I had the pleasure of visiting the HMCS Whitehorse years ago and it struck me as a very appropriate amount of naval vessel for keeping troublemakers away from Canada. This was so long ago it still had a WWII vintage 40mm Bofors gun on the deck, which I read has been declared obsolete again but did fulfill the purpose of establishing the ship as too much naval force to ignore entirely.

Scotland might not need the mine sweeping capacity or the 5000 mile range, but different tools for different jobs.

326:

While I agree with the importance of the transitions, my objection is to the abuse of the term "singularity" and the delusions it leads to. In particular, despite the importance of those, there was neither a sudden transition nor a replacement of one state of being by another. I could give more details, but I hope it's not needed.

It's a minor form of the delusion, but consider the Brexiteers' claims that the Northern Ireland border problem can be solved "by technology". Similarly, the claims that AI will solve classes of problem we cannot solve today, rather than just automating existing solutions.

The point is that exactly the same kind of delusion as the popularisation of "The Singularity" has led people into - as you youself said in #230 - and at least the latter is actually a result of it. That was predictable from the start; what wasn't obvious was whether it would spread to outside science fiction / fantasy, or even take over within that.

327:

The Canadian Kingston class coastal defense vessels may be larger than you had in mind

970 tons?!?

That's a large WW1 destroyer! (Except far too slow to hunt down and kill torpedo boats … although I suspect the 15 knots is for the specified 5000 nm range, and it can probably sprint a wee bit faster for a few hours.)

328:

I maintain that we've been through a couple of singularities already.

The first one was the development of language. Without language, we didn't have oral transmissible culture: we were just smart tool-using apes. With it, the rapid spread of ideas between individuals and groups became possible.

This is a thing I've gone on about elsewhere, so this pump is already primed. The point:

Not only are you right about this but the first example seems to be the only real world example of a capital-S Singularity as the lesswrong crowd imagines them: a total phase change in human existence that can't be understood from outside or from before the event.

Others? There are plenty; these are the lowercase-s singularities that will indeed change society, like industrialization or the invention of the telegraph. Written language is a wonderful invention - but it's easy enough to explain to those who don't have it. ("Man, those Egyptians! Their artists are so good they can draw the words out of a person's mouth!") It can even be duplicated, as Sequoyah demonstrated (not the tree, a Cherokee who saw that white men had an advantage with their literacy trick - so he invented a written language and taught his people to read). I expect humanity will have more of them, only a few of which we can see coming from here.

329:

According to the Wikipedia entry, it's 9 kts for that range, 15 for continuous high speed. On the other hand, 9 kts sounds fine for a mine sweeper.

330:

Your Kingstons are a fair bit bigger than I had in mind. I was thinking more like an Australian Armadale class, which never had a minesweeping capability, displacement 300 tons (standard load), range 3_000 miles at 12 kt. It's not like the Aussies don't have a fair amount of coast too.

331:

I'm aware Greg. But in the U.S. these things are far enough outside the mainstream that I think they mainly function as recognition signals; nobody in the U.S. is ever going to execute a woman for having an abortion - maybe after another fifty years of propaganda, but certainly not now.

332:

death upon the unbelievers (starting with the folks down the road they've had a doctrinal dispute with since 602AD).

I’m nearly convinced that Mohammad bone Sawman, would very much like for the US to go to war with Iran, so that he doesn’t have to. And the Walrus would be happy to oblige, he’s been itching for it since the Reagan years.
That supposed Revolutionary Guard boat removing a mine? Just try proving who it was. Those tankers were intentionally not sunk, the holes were well above the water line—though, on the other hand I’m sure Iran doesn’t want an oil spill on it coasts.

333:

I maintain that we've been through a couple of singularities already. The first one was the development of language. Without language, we didn't have oral transmissible culture: we were just smart tool-using apes. With it, the rapid spread of ideas between individuals and groups became possible.

Well, you are a writer, so you would think that...

Here's the thing: humans are not unique in language. If the researchers are right about what sperm whales (especially among cetaceans) do with sound, human language isn't even the most complex form of acoustic communication evolved by mammals. Among other things, sperm whales appear to precisely duplicate sounds. So not only are they seeing their deep ocean environment with their "words," not only are they precisely communicating what they see by duplicating what they hear, they also communicate in ways that are really hard to decode (apparently the acoustic spectra look something like what you'd get off a fax machine), and can snort (what else do you call a click made with your nasal apparatus?) so loudly they can kill squid with a click stream and cause damage to human divers whom they accidentally click at too loudly. (Apparently baby sperm whales are more dangerous in this regard, as some divers have been partially paralyzed by being too close to a baby's click stream when the calf swims up to investigate them. The adults are more careful around humans swimming near them, which should tell you a lot about the complexity of their thinking). And we say that sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can never hurt us? We're not at the complex apex of the verbal ability scale.

A lot of things use various forms of complex, coded verbal communication. Language is a gradation, not a phase change. I'm quite sure primates had coded screams for "Hawk!" "Snake!" and "Large Mammalian Predator!" a very long time before we evolved things like recursive sentences.

No, the first phase change, as noted in previous blogs, was learning to start fires. I don't think it was a singular event, but rather an accumulation of observations and development of technique. At first it allowed us to effectively "digest" cellulose without having the guts for it, thereby getting the energy out to process other foods externally. Then we learned all the ways we could use heat to process and detoxify food, as well as keeping us warm. Then we learned that we could use our "external rumens"* to process the landscape by using fires in a variety of ways. Then we learned that if we cooked special rocks, they changed too (starting with chert, which makes better tool material if heat treated under a camp fire). Then we learned that if we cooked just the right rocks (like gold) hot enough, they melted. Then we learned to make kilns, learned to cook different rocks together in recipes to make alloys, and the race was on to see how much we could do with really hot fires.

Now we're at the logical end-point of that, where modern civilization is burning so much stuff that the waste gases are changing our climate. Whether or not we go extinct, we will likely cause an extinction event, produce a large transient spike in our climate (transient on the order 100,000-200,000 years unless we get off our blogs and do something about it), and will have mixed species across continents in a way that will affect evolution for a billion years.

That's what I call a phase change, and the part where we started playing with alloys only happened around 5,000 years ago, give or take. Think about what artificial intelligence will have to do to top that.

*I first saw the term "external rumen" used to describe how earthworms process the soil. They eat, poop, eat their poop, poop, eat the poop that contained the poop, etc. until it's worm castings all the way down. Most of the stuff they're digesting is outside their bodies, hence the idea of a shared external rumen in your local worm bin. A campfire that warms your body and helps process your food into edibility is doing much the same thing as the earthworms' shared external rumen by breaking down the lignin, cellulose, and other materials in wood, not just outside your body, but in ways that can be shared.

334:

There is some ugly legislation out there, but nobody is campaigning on the idea that anyone should be executed for having an abortion. Maybe jailed for life, or fined, or making it a felony or a misdemeanor, but not executed.

I'm talking about "recognition signals" rather than policy. Is this not obvious?

335:

970 tons?!? That's a large WW1 destroyer!

It's a fair cop; Canada is really big and their solutions may not apply to reasonably sized nations. *grin*

336:

I disagree - I think that most progressives felt that it was racism and general right-wing scheisskopfenism.

Agreed, but I don't think the NYT was 100 percent wrong. The economic anxiety is directly related to such things as "fear of immigrants stealing their jobs" or on the other side, the things police/teachers with racial animus can do to a Black person do have economic consequences. Politics on the Liberal side is about "dividing up the pie fairly." On the conservative side it's "making sure my slice of pie is bigger."

337:

Charlie ... ( @ 319)
Minor typo...
The Battle of Karbala was in 680 by christian reckoniong .....
& @ 320
FIRE / Language / Writing / PRINTING / Industrial revolution, particulalry ELECTRICTY ...

Barry @ 324
YES - this is what I'm saying also & "EC" either cannot or will not see it, which is a pity, actually.

EC @ 326
Agree (!)
Singularities can take many years to happen, but once past them, there is no going back - which is ( I think ) the important principle.

338:

"There is some ugly legislation out there, but nobody is campaigning on the idea that anyone should be executed for having an abortion. Maybe jailed for life, or fined, or making it a felony or a misdemeanor, but not executed."

They are campaigning and successfully passing laws so that abortion would be murder, the same as any other murder (except definitely pre-meditated).

They *say* that *of course* it *goes without saying* that women wouldn't be face the penalties for murder, but they *writing* so that that would be the case.

339:

More to the point, it is almost impossible to medically distinguish between an abortion and a natural miscarriage after the fact. Especially a chemically-induced abortion. Unless a blood sample is taken within hours of the morning-after pill, there's just no way to know.

Consequently in countries like El Salvador women who have been unfortunate enough to miscarry are being prosecuted for murder and jailed for life. Most recently, an underage rape victim who miscarried received a 30 year jail sentence.

This is the logical destination of the Republican War on Women of Reproductive Age in the USA. Even if you don't like abortion, this isn't about opposing abortion: it's about locking down womens' social options and punishing them for not being baby incubators first and people second.

340:

Troutwaxer @255: But the two ideas you brought up are so fanciful that applying them to the majority of Democrats isn't even wrong.

But, because hyperbole + excess = ratings, mass media makes it seem that way to the muggles.

Unfortunately, in politics, perception matters more than reality.

JBS @295: Reparations for slavery. I'm not against them, I think it's needful. I just can't figure out how to do it justly. You can't correct one wrong by creating another wrong, and I've seen no scheme yet that threads that needle.

To be fair, the Democratic candidates and party apparatchiks who’ve pushed the concept mainly view it as a rhetorical flourish a) to sustain awareness of racism and African-American poverty as public issues and b) to strengthen existing policies such as affirmative action, welfare benefits, etc.

The true believers, on the other hand, seems to have in mind something like a “whiteness tax” or a government-mandated transfer of a percentage of wealth/property from white Americans to African-Americans. (Note: regardless of the degree of their morality, neither of these would survive the inevitable challenges in court.)

Meanwhile, the pundits who advocate for the idea—most notably Ta-Nehisi Coates, who revived the idea with an article he wrote several years ago—seem more interested in reparations as a forcing function for a truth and reconciliation process. The financial aspect is important but secondary. The African-American political/activist class views the U.S. as a super-sized analog to apartheid-era South Africa and, accordingly, views Nelson Mandela, his followers, and their reforms as a model.

341:

Note that this plan has the classic Boris hallmarks: it's big, it's bold, it relies on showmanship, shock, and awe, and who cares about details and consequences?

Are we sure that BJ and DT are not related?

342:

Elderly Cynic @181: The military may be aware of the direct military consequences, but they can't be of the political ones and longer term military ones, because NOBODY knows what would happen if Trump area-bombed Tehran or even used nukes. Even if Iran has plans for that, and the USA knows them, neither side can be sure of how other countries would react and where that would lead. At best, they can make wild guesses and advise against opening that wormcan.

The guesses aren’t wild; they’re educated. Operational plans, particularly the post-conflict phases, are developed, wargamed, and evaluated in consultation with subject matter experts drawn from the intelligence, diplomatic, and area studies academic communities. Understanding the local, regional, and global contexts is an integral part of the process. No, they can’t know with absolute certainty what will happen, but they do try to think through the consequences up to and including the worst case.

As for advising against opening the wormcan, they do that. But, like I’ve been saying, the political leadership does what it wants regardless.

Nile @300: The Kingdom wants someone else to prosecute a war if annihilation against Iran, with just enough of a role for the some - but not all of the Saudi armies to be plausible victors.

Yep.

What war does Turkey want, and what opportunities for gain are on offer to their generals?

To exterminate the Kurds and reacquire territorial control of a chunk of Syria.

Ataturk’s Turkey is long gone. Contemporary Turkey is a resurgent Ottoman Empire under a different name.

Charlie Stross @319: What they actually want: water security, food security, energy security, an end to external powers meddling in their affairs, death upon the unbelievers (starting with the folks down the road they've had a doctrinal dispute with since 602AD).

FWIW, the high-level analog used in the U.S. foreign policy community is that, in geopolitical terms, the Middle East is stuck in its version of the Thirty Years War.

Personally, I think the Middle East is geopolitically insoluble. Particularly by any power located outside the region. The borders don’t reflect facts on the ground. The regimes are mostly imposed constructs with little or no relationship to the needs and wishes of their publics. Outside intervention, by the U.S. or anyone else, just makes things worse.

I’d love to see the U.S. unilaterally withdraw all forces from the region and let the locals sort it out for themselves. Restrict our involvement to humanitarian aid funneled through the UN and NGOs. Oil prices would skyrocket, but that might just have the side benefit of incentivizing accelerated de-carbonization of the U.S. economy. Realistically though, Russia and/or China would just move in to fill the void, and the ensuing refugee crisis would dwarf what we saw in Syria a couple of years ago.

343:

"This is the logical destination of the Republican War on Women of Reproductive Age in the USA. Even if you don't like abortion, this isn't about opposing abortion: it's about locking down womens' social options and punishing them for not being baby incubators first and people second."

I think that you are having the wrong point of view. You think about this in a more or less rational way. You just need to let your rational thinking to go for a vacation in order to understand the GOP opinion.

I have some sympathy for the GOP point of view, even when I think that point point of view to be utter madness. I am, actually, a church going Christian of the protestant variety. That is the reason I think that I can understand the GOP point of view. I really do not agree with the GOP point of view, but I am still uneasy about the whole issue.

In its most basic form the idea is that the new life is given by the God. Therefore it is an act against the God to prevent the birth. It may be that the rapist will be given death penalty, but the victim is supposed to give the birth. Remember, life is a gift from the God.

At the same time the thinking includes, in its purest form, very strong penalties for rapists and pedophiles. Death is the default solution.

In the purest form of this thinking the rapists will be killed, but the victim is required to give birth. The God has been served.

344:

Erwin @ 306: The whole 'work hard' thing may work occasionally, in much the same way that upward mobility in the US does. However, on average, it fails.

Seems like there's a lot less "upward mobility" in the US in the 21st Century than there was in the 20th. As in almost none.

345:

A straw in the wind ...
For complicated reasons I won't go into, I have a copy of last week's issue of "Country Life" magazine - big glossy & you would think county-tory through & through, yes?
Two opinion articles des[airing of both main pol-parties trending & grovelling to their repective extremes, with no regard for the welfare of the whole country.....
And One-&-a-Half articles, representiung the despair & anxiety of Farmers, facing a no-deal-brexit.

The tory party was supposed to be the party of business & of the farmers, right?
Yet the CBI & the IoD & now the Farmers are desperately begging for a course-change, only to be told by the BOZO to fuck off ...
Same as Ireland has just been told that "we don't give a fuck" about the internal border or its regulation.
I mean, seriously w.t.f?
Or have they actually swallowed their own lies whole & complete, & really be;lieve all the lying bullshit, or what?

346:

Elderly Cynic @ 312: The context was purely and simply the posting of yours I was responding to - if you have just referred back, all would have been clear. But, to assist you, you said:

""I notice that Jeremy Hunt got fired, so I guess the idea of any kind of cooperative effort with Europe to deal with the problem is RIGHT OUT.""

Ok, now I know which of the half-dozen or more posts I made on Thursday you were responding to.

347:

It is hard for me to express just how FUCKING PISSED OFF AT THE NEOFASCIST PHRASE, "the looney left", and I define anything described by it as being a restatement of what Rupert Murdoch says.

Now, about some ideas... may I ask folks to ignore 'Nam, and look at all the other things LBJ pushed, and passed (Civil Rights, Medicare...) and tell me if that's the "looney left" also... or whether I am NOT exaggerating in calling the GOP, and all the right neoConfederates and neoFascists.

348:

a) It is no longer the case that most census-question-definition "white males" will never vote for a woman, vide the 2018 elections.
b) Us Boomers are getting up there in age, and starting to die off. Is that clear enough? Too many folks I know are gone, and it would be interesting if I'm around for 20 more years....

And, yes, I was eligible in the sixties for a free trip to the other side of the world, and instead, I was in the streets, including Chicago in '68.

349:

Charlie Stross @ 320: I maintain that we've been through a couple of singularities already.

The third, contingent on the first two, was the development of practical artificial intelligences in the 17th-19th centuries, in the shape of the corporation: a structure for intelligently pursuing objectives without being dependent on impetus arising from a single person. (We might, if we squint, view the modern republic and its civil service as a related version of this system.) Earlier versions going back to the development of writing and agriculture (or before) tended to happen because of a head man, or a committee of head men (the elected governments of the early Greek democracies; the Roman senate).

All our modern AI/computing stuff has done, for the most part, is to automate category 3 and render it less dependent on human bodies.

Poul-Henning Kamp @ 321: Today the majority of big companies operate on a double-arms-length principle: Their shares are held by other corporations, mostly investment funds, and most of their shares are held via indirect means (pension funds) where the actual owner is actively discouraged from not only deciding what to invest in, but also from attempting any kind of influence.

And that's what is killing democracy ... UNACCOUNTABLE corporations. Unaccountable because management can do anything it wants, break any law and cannot be called to account because the "corporation" is the person who commits those crimes. Corporations have become organized criminal enterprises; a cloak under which people, REAL people, ACTUAL REAL PEOPLE can get away with murder.

I believe the U.S. needs a Constitutional Amendment declaring only natural people are "persons", that corporations are NOT persons. For legal purposes, any act of a corporation needs to be defined as an act of the CEO and other active managers of the corporation. The only limit that "limited liability" should provide is that individual shareholders are not FINANCIALLY responsible for more than their investment, unless they are ACTIVE managers and/or board members.

350:

I have never agreed with Jefferson once

We have fought on like seventy-five diff’rent fronts

But when all is said and all is done

Jefferson has beliefs. Burr has none

"The Election of 1800", by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

351:

Yes, we did. It didn't impact society as widely, but it was a technological singularity. The problem with the current one is that it's happening in a whole bunch of areas at once, from technology to jobs to environment to politics to military to... well, just about everywhere.

These things don't last, but they can be extremely disruptive while they're going on. And the current one is strong enough that I put the odds of humanity (not civilization...that's separate) outliving the century at around 50%...and consider that a wild guess. (IF true General AI happens, civilization could outlast humanity. If a major, but not extreme, war happens humanity could outlast civilization. But if we fall, don't expect to be able to recover along the same path.)

352:

I'd count this form of Artificial Intelligence with originating (IIUC) with the Byzantine Empire and their bureaucracy. Corporations "merely" separated it from government.

353:

I see very little evidence that they (the US right wing) want to punish rapists, or even acknowledge the possibility that it could have happened. The justice system is set up to make even claiming that a rape has happened not only difficult and humiliating, but usually without result.

I acknowledge that because of the nature of the crime it's usually difficult to be certain that the accusation is correct. That doesn't explain why it's made so humiliating.

354:

An interesting point is that under law as written, if not as interpreted, any corporation that "conspires to break the law" should be prosecutable under the RICO statues, with ALL it's wealth confiscated BEFORE it gets around to trying to defend itself.

Another one is that while the corporation itself may not be able to be sent to jail, the same cannot be said of the executive levels, and even of the "working stiffs" who acted as the agents of the corporation. But that prosecution is also almost never done.

355:

Scott Sanford @ 325:

In context, a "littoral vessel" tends to mean low draft and tonnage, designed primarily for patrolling coasts and archipelagos..."

The Canadian Kingston class coastal defense vessels may be larger than you had in mind but Canada has a lot of coast. I had the pleasure of visiting the HMCS Whitehorse years ago and it struck me as a very appropriate amount of naval vessel for keeping troublemakers away from Canada. This was so long ago it still had a WWII vintage 40mm Bofors gun on the deck, which I read has been declared obsolete again but did fulfill the purpose of establishing the ship as too much naval force to ignore entirely.

Scotland might not need the mine sweeping capacity or the 5000 mile range, but different tools for different jobs.

Some notes from Wikipedia on the classes of ships I had in mind when I suggested the UK might want to institute escorted convoys through the Straits of Hormuz.

The littoral combat ship (LCS) is a set of two classes of relatively small surface vessels designed for operations near shore by the United States Navy. It was "envisioned to be a networked, agile, stealthy surface combatant capable of defeating anti-access and asymmetric threats in the littorals." Littoral combat ships are comparable to the corvettes found in other navies.

Modern navies began a trend in the late 20th and early 21st centuries towards smaller, more manoeuvrable surface capability. Corvettes have a displacement between 540 and 3,000 long tons (550 and 3,050 t) and measure 180–420 ft (55–128 m) in length. They are usually armed with medium- and small-caliber guns, surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and antisubmarine weapons. Many can accommodate a small or medium antisubmarine warfare helicopter.

The introduction of the surface-to-air missile after World War II made relatively small ships effective for anti-aircraft warfare: the "guided missile frigate". In the USN, these vessels were called "ocean escorts" and designated "DE" or "DEG" until 1975 – a holdover from the World War II destroyer escort or "DE". The Royal Canadian Navy and British Royal Navy maintained the use of the term "frigate"; likewise, the French Navy refers to missile-equipped ship, up to cruiser-sized ships (Suffren, Tourville, and Horizon classes), by the name of "frégate", while smaller units are named aviso. The Soviet Navy used the term "guard-ship" (сторожевой корабль).

Ocean escort was a type of United States Navy warship. They were an evolution of the World War II destroyer escort types. The ocean escorts were intended as convoy escorts and were designed for mobilization production in wartime or low-cost mass production in peacetime. They were commissioned from 1954 through 1974, serving in the Cold War and the Vietnam War.[1][2]

The Royal Navy & the USN managed to produce escort vessles during WWII to counter the U-Boat scourge. I don't see how that mission has changed all that much just because Iran doesn't use U-Boats in that way * ... other than you can see a pirate speed-boat or helicopter coming. Yeah, I understand about Iran's coastal missile launchers, but those could legitimately be pounded into dust by the USN's carrier based bombers if they were used to fire upon ships in the international corridor through Hormuz.

* Yes, I know Iran has submarines. They don't appear to be using them the way the Germans used U-Boats during WWII

356:

Troutwaxer @ 331: I'm aware Greg. But in the U.S. these things are far enough outside the mainstream that I think they mainly function as recognition signals; nobody in the U.S. is ever going to execute a woman for having an abortion - maybe after another fifty years of propaganda, but certainly not now.

Nobody is an awfully broad generalization.

No State CURRENTLY makes having an abortion a capital crime, just as no State currently makes it a capital crime to provide legal abortion services.

357:

"I see very little evidence that they (the US right wing) want to punish rapists, or even acknowledge the possibility that it could have happened."

Ah, I see. Unfortunately I have to agree.

It is possible that my own ideological/religious context makes me blind to that type of things. In my own context rape is one the most hateful crimes. That is because in my thinking a new life, a child, is a gift from the God to the parents who want the child.

A rape is completely against my beliefs.

358:

Ah - Peter Cook was perfect in the film.

359:

Anyone remembering the dissolution of the Yugoslavia will say you're wildly optimistic. It's going to be a lot worse.

360:

Troutwaxer @ 336:

"I disagree - I think that most progressives felt that it was racism and general right-wing scheisskopfenism."

Agreed, but I don't think the NYT was 100 percent wrong. The economic anxiety is directly related to such things as "fear of immigrants stealing their jobs" or on the other side, the things police/teachers with racial animus can do to a Black person do have economic consequences. Politics on the Liberal side is about "dividing up the pie fairly." On the conservative side it's "making sure my slice of pie is bigger."

Point of fact: You are correct that the NYT was not 100% wrong; merely "99 and 44/100th percent" wrong.

OTOH, you don't appear to understand "Liberal politics" in the U.S. at all. You keep citing the New York Times description of "Liberal politics" as if it were factual.

It's NOT about "dividing up the pie fairly", it's about ensuring no one is denied the chance to get a slice (of whatever size) because of race, creed, gender, etc.

The Preamble to the United States Constitution IS the Liberal manifesto:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."[1]

Liberals believe that should apply to EVERYONE in the U.S.; that no one is excluded from the general welfare and that no one is denied the Blessings of Liberty just because of where they came from or what color their skin is or what religion they believe or who they love.

So called "Conservatives" are perfectly happy to have a smaller slice of the pie as long as they can be sure that Blacks, Hispanics, Poor People ... won't get any part of the pie at all.

------------------

[1] It's a statement of purpose. The founders had feet of clay, and they failed when it came to the question of slavery.

The actual Constitution failed to deliver on Jefferson's promise "that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness".

But the founders knew they were not perfect and that writing the Constitution they couldn't foresee every problem. That's why they included the ability to Amend the Constitution to correct any problems that might arise. We're still working to be worthy of Jefferson's high flown rhetoric.

361:

David L @ 341:

"Note that this plan has the classic Boris hallmarks: it's big, it's bold, it relies on showmanship, shock, and awe, and who cares about details and consequences?"

Are we sure that BJ and DT are not related?

Craniopagus Conjoined Twins? Each got half of a brain when they were separated.


362:

I dunno. We apparently had language for at least 70k years... but human life *radically* changed what, 17k years ago? 12k? Possibly with agriculture*, when we could settle in larger groups than hunter/gatherers (or even nomads). A few hundred thousand years or the latter, and then *poof*, ceramics, and new stone age, then metal....

A second massive and sudden change could be ascribed to either the Industrial Revolution... or maybe the printing press, which spread knowledge, which allowed the Industrial Revolution.

So much of the We're Heading For The Singularity!!! seems to be more of what's been going on since at least the seventies, except more so... and then it's "sorry, most jobs are done by automation", and the conversation that I've been trying to get started for 25-30 years, and only in the last year have I seen people starting to talk about it: what happens in what I refer to as the post-Adamic society, when you no longer need to earn your living by the sweat of your brow, or rather, when you don't have a job to earn food or shelter? What do you do with you life, and I don't mean the folks here, I mean the *billions* who ain't here.

* Actually, we were pushed to develop agriculture once the cats domesticated us.

363:

FUBAR007 @ 342: Personally, I think the Middle East is geopolitically insoluble. Particularly by any power located outside the region. The borders don’t reflect facts on the ground. The regimes are mostly imposed constructs with little or no relationship to the needs and wishes of their publics. Outside intervention, by the U.S. or anyone else, just makes things worse.

I’d love to see the U.S. unilaterally withdraw all forces from the region and let the locals sort it out for themselves. Restrict our involvement to humanitarian aid funneled through the UN and NGOs. Oil prices would skyrocket, but that might just have the side benefit of incentivizing accelerated de-carbonization of the U.S. economy. Realistically though, Russia and/or China would just move in to fill the void, and the ensuing refugee crisis would dwarf what we saw in Syria a couple of years ago.

At the very least, I think we'd need some kind of maritime patrol of the mouths of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to keep them from exporting their bullshit. Not stopping all traffic; just monitoring & triage to quarantine the infection.

364:

The question no one asks: which jobs are they going to steal?

I mean, most Americans don't want stoop labor, and most of that's been automated.

Now if *I* were running, I'd be screaming to the skies about how many jobs any of these millionaires in Congress have personally created... *in* *this* *country*.

365:

“Now we're at the logical end-point of that, where modern civilization is burning so much stuff that the waste gases are changing our climate.”

I’d like to expound on that. We’ve been terra forming the planet to suit our needs for the better part of 10,000 years starting with the agricultural revolution. Farming settlements starting out as small villages, then becoming towns and cities as populations grew. Technological advances also ramped up over this period, constructing canals, dams, roads, metallurgy, ship building, etc. All this created by a species that consumed more and more natural resources, forests, land, and water. The entire Mediterranean region became deforested starting about 3,500 years ago, and much of Europe about 2,000 years ago.

Then our species started a period of circumnavigation of the planet a little over 500 years ago. It was during this period that populations grew exponentially along with consumption. With in 300 years North America became deforested east of the Mississippi River because of the agricultural needs of expanding populations. 200 years ago gave rise to the Industrial Revolution and the discovery of fossil fuels, coal, oil, and natural gas (prehistoric flora and fauna) extracted from the under the earth to burn for energy. Hence, rising CO2 levels.

Today we have a society based on consumption, that is the belief that the more that is consumed the better off everyone is. We even came up with financial institutions and mechanisms to help perpetuate this system of more consumption called banks extending loans/credit and governments extending deficit spending. Bottom line, we are a very greedy species.

366:

That's one thing - the concept of a corporation as an "artificial person" came through court cases in the 1860's-1870's in the US. There is *no* Constitutional basis. Why an Amendment, when all you need to do is write a law?

And the law, of course, should make it clear that all misdeeds by the corporation are, by definition, the *guilt* of the execs.

367:

whitroth @ 348: And, yes, I was eligible in the sixties for a free trip to the other side of the world, and instead, I was in the streets, including Chicago in '68.

Almost won the booby prize jackpot myself. Got the notice for the pre-induction physical in October 1970 (mine wasn't quite as much fun as Arlo's). Was told to watch my mailbox, the letter would arrive in a couple of weeks. If I had any travel plans I should keep my local Draft Board informed of where I could be reached by mail.

Politics ensued and for some reason the letter didn't come. Didn't come in November. Didn't come in December ... didn't come in January 1971. Never came. And after January I more or less forgot about it (the draft notice, not the war).

I enlisted in the National Guard in 1975. Retired in 2007.

368:

whitroth @ 366: That's one thing - the concept of a corporation as an "artificial person" came through court cases in the 1860's-1870's in the US. There is *no* Constitutional basis. Why an Amendment, when all you need to do is write a law?

And the law, of course, should make it clear that all misdeeds by the corporation are, by definition, the *guilt* of the execs.

Because the Supreme Court couldn't rule that a Constitutional Amendment is "UN-Constitutional".

369:

Perhaps you didn't know: rape is *not* about sex, but about power, "power over".

Which is why you read about frats, etc, fucking another guy, but not thinking they're gay.

370:

You've probably heard this, but if not I think you'll like it:

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

(Oysterband: My Country Too)

371:


I have my own personal version of the Alice's Restaurant massacre, runs 10-12 minutes, with two-part harmony an' feelin'. The high point is where they sargant where I went for my physical looks at me, looks at my papers, looks at me, motions me away from his desk, which I assume was bugged, looks at my papers, and looks at me, and say, and this is a direct quote, not a paraphrase, "Is there anything that will get you *out*?"

372:

Sorry, but as I said, there is *nothing* in the Constitution that supports the concept of an artificial person.

And I'd also say that, before you (or they) answer, consider carefully that it they say an artificial person is a person, with all the rights and duties thereof, I'll walk out, buy cloud time, set up about 10,000 AIs, incorporate *all* of them, and register them all to vote.

373:

I dunno. We apparently had language for at least 70k years... but human life *radically* changed what, 17k years ago? 12k?

The water rose up. (Last glacial maximum is 21k years BP.)

It is extremely difficult to begin to tell what was down there on the continental shelves; there are scholarly articles about human caused features ("that was probably a canal") and the gene-examining end of botany is starting to think initial agricultural domestication in the tropics happened quite some time further back. But we can be reasonably sure that was the nice land, and where a goodly portion of the people were. You can make the argument -- though I have no idea how you'd falsify it -- that the post-melt environment was the first time humans got into sustained resource competition with each other.

374:

One of the problems you get into with the "no artificial people" clause is that contracts and lawsuits only happen between "people." Without this, you can't sue a company, you can only sue a person or people. Similarly, you cannot contract with a company, you can only contract with a person.

So let's talk about, say, cell phones. Without corporations, you buy your phone from a person, and you contract to get your phone service either with that person or with another person. If your contractors leave the company, your contract for service is void until you make a contract with another person. Given the high turnover rates of salespeople, this could get troublesome.

Anyway, it's ultimately kind of feudal. Those who would prosper in an anti-corporate society would be those who were loyal and trustworthy.

That's the advantage of corporations. Thing is, they're not the biggest problem.

As all the billionaires know, the point is control, not ownership. Only people can own things, and once you're a person who owns stuff, you can be taxed on that stuff. Relationships cannot be taxed. Since a Trust is a relationship (you trust someone to take care of your stuff), if you have a trust owning your stuff, technically, you do not own it. Furthermore, it cannot be taxed, because a person doesn't own it. However, within certain limits, you control the stuff that your trust owns. A classic example of a limit caused by a trust is what happens to properties in trust during a divorce. The divorcing partner may try to get half of what's in the trust, only to discover that their ex does not own the trust, and the trust will not allow them to take half the property out, because they do not own it. This is a standard dodge to allow the rich to not pay their debts. They may technically be paupers, owning almost nothing, but they control billions in property.

This is the biggest problem. Currently the economy that's floating out there in offshore financial centers trust heaven is around $60 trillion, or three times the size of the US GDP. This is the tail that wags dogs all around the world.

Now, we could get rid of trusts, which would cause various problems. More importantly, they'd make the world financial system look more like that of, say, Saudi Arabia or Latin America, both places where trusts aren't exactly welcome. Perhaps that would be an improvement?

Anyway, those trillions of dollars sitting out there, untaxable, owned by people who do not want to pay their debts, that's what's causing the trouble. The corporations are just part of the mechanism of control. And when you hear that megacorps are more interested in control than in immediate profits? That's also what's going on.

375:

Could you explain what corporate personhood has to do with executives getting away with crimes?

If you instruct a human being to commit a crime, and then that human being goes and does as you instruct, then YOU can go to jail for that. (For conspiracy, if nothing else.) So I don't see how any amount of corporations-being-like-humans protects the executives from going to jail.

Am I missing something?

(I am assuming you are talking about crimes that the executives somehow cause the corporation to commit. If the secretary is relaying coded messages for the mafia without the executives' knowledge, I assume you'd agree the executives are not responsible for that.)

376:

explain what corporate personhood has to do with executives getting away with crimes?

At the very brutal end, the executives who authorised the safety shortcuts in Bhopal killed thousands of people. Allegedly I hear that not only is the company that employed them extremely willing to sue anyone who claims or even suggests liability might exist, but that this isn't the place to discuss the topic.

Now, outside of a corporate context, if I was to release 45 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas in the middle of a major city I kind of think the legal system would take a dim view of my actions. Even if I said "I didn't mean to do it, I was just storing it in this rusty tank in my backyard while I tried to work out how to get around the court order banning me from storing it here". Pretty sure that even in the US I would end up in jail.

But as an employee of a corporation I would be completely outside that kind of criminal law enforcement action, and I'd at worst be told that I'd been naughty, the corporation would pay my fines and then pay me to retire. Contrary to the "just following orders" doctrine you may have heard about*, employees who follow orders, even implicit suggestions, are almost never liable for the consequences (e.g. US corporations that kill don't see their CEO executed). The "corporate person" is obviously completely outside of the normal legal sanctions system - you can't arrest one, deny it bail, then imprison it. Fines are never multiples of the assets except when ownership shenanigans take place, where for actual people fines frequently exceed their assets even for minor offences.

* note that the US exempts itself and the people it orders from this doctrine.

377:

We have a looney left, probably about five-percent of the population. We also have a looney right, which seems to be more like twenty-percent of the population (thanks Faux news.) Seventy-five percent of America is within spitting distance of rationality, though most prefer not to go there.

For myself, I'm fairly far to the left - my great-grandfather had a Communist Party Card with a three digit membership number - but I'm more a European-type socialist than anything else. (If I had to vote for President today, I'd probably go for Warren.)

378:

"It's NOT about "dividing up the pie fairly", it's about ensuring no one is denied the chance to get a slice (of whatever size) because of race, creed, gender, etc."

Your description is much better. I realized I'd done a poor job of describing Liberalism almost as soon as I'd posted: I plead insufficient caffeine.

379:

The whole thing is not terribly rational.

Rationally, you'll get a better job or a new job when the economy improves. You'll lose your job when the economy gets worse. Meanwhile, you should be playing defense where your own rights are concerned.

380:

They don't have to be related. That's what makes human language a singularity, at least in my terms - humans become Lamarckian, rather than Darwinian.
(Frank and others will argue about my definitions of Darwinian, I'm sure. But the point remains - "fitness" is transmissible, for people. Along with other things.)

381:

Well. The presumption that immigration hurts no one seemed to be rooted in an approximation in which there was no friction and therefore citizens in, eg, stoop labor jobs immediately found something more skilled as they were displaced. While this might be somewhat true on a generational perspective, it probably isn't true on shorter timespans, as many people retrain by dying and having their children perform different tasks.

The reality is that there are perfectly nice people who simply have very limited upwards potential.

Eg - our occasional maid service is much cheaper than it would be otherwise. And yes, she is a citizen - and a nice lady - just with a few issues which prevent upwards mobility.

Now, this doesn't change the probably fact that the models I have seen indicate that creeping automation is a bigger component in reducing the need for low skilled labor.

(Regarding upwards mobility, it is still true that a sufficiently skilled, capable, and lucky individual can do very well in the US - probably better than elsewhere. That said, the system serves those below, um, the 75th percentile poorly. Another issue is that an awful lot of bright people end up in finance, which is largely unproductive. A bright side of Brexit could be the end of London as a financial center.)

But this gets back to a singularity. The notion of a singularity from an individual viewpoint is probably BS. But...from a generational viewpoint - they are more common. By this I'd mean changes that occur faster than our societal fabric can cope. and by cope, it is probably an epheumism for giving the old people time to die. Maybe the spread of calculating machines. (Which naturally lead to horrible outcomes for many calculators). Or maybe to the development of self driving cars (which will be personally awesome as my wife is an interesting driver but which will probably not be great for the average trucker). The gradual development of generalizable AI will most likely gradually replace most occupations. (As most occupations, when you come down to it, are depressingly stupid.) (Seriously, try working in regulatory for an established product.)

The next crisis is probably creeping joblessness coupled with out of date economics.

In my darker moments, I console myself by opting for solar power and support of self driving cars because of the pain they inflict on Trump-supporting regions and note that immigration, long-term, will probably be higher under Trump-like policies than under Democratic ones. (Obama supported eVerify, which would probably discourage economic migration.)

382:

The presumption that immigration hurts no one seemed to be rooted in an approximation in which there was no friction and therefore citizens in, eg, stoop labor jobs immediately found something more skilled as they were displaced

Not really. You’re assuming that all immigrants become unskilled labourers, and that’s plainly false. Instead you should expect pretty much the same mix of unskilled, professional, highly skilled, etc as the rest of the community (and a bias toward an appetite for education in the younger generation).

The outcome is that the economy in the destination country grows with the population growth, which is the normal way for an economy to grow. That means as demand increases the demand for all sorts of labour increases to take up the extra jobseekers. That is actually how it works. Where it doesn’t work like this is where demand and the supply of labour are decoupled. And the business model for many producers may depend on “illegals” being a source of artificially cheap (in other words not very far from slave) labour. And in other words the present situation is engineered to the advantage of dishonest players in a way that an open system would not.

383:

"what happens in what I refer to as the post-Adamic society"

Aha! Someone else who calls it that :)

And as to what do people do... the answer is (in very many cases)... Nothing.

And that is JUST FINE.

If people want to spend all their days sitting on their arse watching TV then let them do it. Don't get on their case about it or complain that their talents are somehow being wasted. If they actually have any to avoid wasting they are at least now in a position to decide to do something with them instead of watching TV; the real waste of talent is with all the people who currently do not have the choice of doing something with them instead of doing something that could and should better be done by a machine or just not done at all.

People will have the opportunity to do all kinds of things that currently are done badly because you can't get the time to do them unless you do them so as to make money. It will be an obvious godsend for "the arts". Think of Charlie being able to write what he wanted at the pace that best suited him, instead of having to write what publishers dictate will sell at a pace also dictated by the publishers. I'm bloody sure he would be not one whit less popular, and would have an audience at least as large and as appreciative, but probably quite a bit more diverse; what he wouldn't be writing would be blog posts about how the pressures he has to deal with in order to carry on doing something that he wants to are fucking him up.

It also helps matters for sciences - mathematics being perhaps the most obvious - goodness only knows how many potentially brilliant mathematicians have been wasted down the centuries because nobody wanted to give someone money to do maths. Drug development will be assisted because there won't be any distractions to supersede the aim of making people not be ill, and no motivation to invent obscure ways to make them ill so you can then sell things to put them back to normal. "Green" chemistry will also gain the input of the currently untapped pool of amateur talent, who already have a head start in that field from the ingenuity necessary to do interesting chemistry at home without filling your house with 1000 different flavours of highly toxic shite. Greg will be absolutely in his element, breeding new vegetables to cope with new conditions. And so on.

Which is not to say that we can't still have a space programme if we want to. As long as enough people want one to get together to do it. That shouldn't be too hard when competition between nations will be no longer limiting the potential supply of talent any more than the current vast waste at the individual level will be.

The only people who really will be worse off are those who really can't know what to do with themselves if there isn't someone else acting as an external prosthetic imagination (as distinct from the considerably larger number of people who just think they can't because they're too used to not doing it). They can... eerrrerrrruuuhhh... oh, fuck it, join the army I suppose, we can always have a special one just for them to be in even if we don't need it for shooting.

384:

The archeology around the baltic hints that agriculture happened by necessity due to overpopulation.

The long period previous is remarkable in the sense that absolutely nothing seems to happened. Hunter gatheres migrate to the forrest inland during winter and to the coast during summer for several thousand, possibly up to 25 thousand years. Almost no technological innovation seems to happen in this period.

(Look up the "kitchen-middens" where they dumped their oyster-shells)

But there is signs that the population keeps growing, slowly but growing, and at some point, food-stress seems to have forced them into a more laborious lifestyle which eventually turns into agriculture.

385:

One of the interesting aspects of "post-adamic" society is that it will be horribly exposed to fashions and fads.

Imagine a television documentary about a small group of people who jump on their bikes in Denmark in August, and heads for the south to spend the winter some where with olives, then in march, jump on them again and head north for a nice beach vacation.

They EU citizens, so of course they can do that, and why wouldn't they ?

Next year, you have 200.000 people on bikes, trashing up and down through Europe like a plague of locust...

386:

I think the best bet at rolling back the unaccountability of the 1%'ers is to move taxation to transactions between separate entities.

Basically a VAT with no refund.

It used to be that taxes on wages was a good proxy for overal economic activity, but so-called "Intellectual Property" which does not require physical transport, automation and off-shoring has ruined that.

Taxing *all* economic transactions means that even FaceBook & Google would pay tax on their turnover in Denmark for instance.

The advantage of taxing this way is that while profits are fictions to be manipulated, the transaction which moves money from purchaser to seller is very much a fact.

My back of the envelope calculation says that in Denmark we could replace the revenue from the current 25% VAT, the corporate tax and the income tax with a 5% transaction tax which multi- and trans-nationals could not escape.

The easiest way to implement it would be to make banks and credit cards responsible for sifting the 5% of while the money moves.

One particular nice aspect of this is that it all but eliminates economic paperwork when starting a company. (But of course not health-inspections etc.)

Interestingly, OECD is currently moving towards a turn-over tax for transnationals.

387:

I dunno. We apparently had language for at least 70k years... but human life *radically* changed what, 17k years ago? 12k? Possibly with agriculture*, when we could settle in larger groups than hunter/gatherers (or even nomads). A few hundred thousand years or the latter, and then *poof*, ceramics, and new stone age, then metal...

You're not wrong.

That was definitely a singularity, and a very important one in the human story. I'm thinking you may have missed my point about there being two kinds of singularity.

There are the lowercase-s singularities which change civilization, such as the development of agriculture, writing, or steam engines. We've had a bunch of those, some more important than others. Then there's the uppercase-S Singularity as futurist wankers imagine it, a nigh magical transition that cannot be understood from outside and makes the people within it fundamentally different from those without. I think humanity has only had the one.

Other phase changes can be considered without taking part in them. There are people who have examined the benefits of life with agriculture or the internet or cats and decided to give it a miss.

388:

Whitroth @ 362
But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.
Of course the Man was wild too. He was dreadfully wild. He didn’t even begin to be tame till he met the Woman, and she told him that she did not like living in his wild ways. She picked out a nice dry Cave, instead of a heap of wet leaves, to lie down in; and she strewed clean sand on the floor; and she lit a nice fire of wood at the back of the Cave; and she hung a dried wild-horse skin, tail-down, across the opening of the Cave; and she said, ‘Wipe your feet, dear, when you come in, and now we’ll keep house.’
....‘Ah,’ said the Cat, listening, ‘this is a clever Woman, but she is not so clever as I am.’
.......
Cat said, ‘I am not a friend, and I am not a servant. I am the Cat who walks by himself, and I wish to come into your cave.
......

I am being supervised by the UNSPEAKABLY CUTE Birman Tom-Kitton ( aged 11 ) right now.
If I don't make enough fuss, he will start to polish himself on the top right corner of the second screen ... yeah - who'se in charge here ????????

JBS @ 363
I think we'd need some kind of maritime patrol of the mouths of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to keep them from exporting their bullshit.
FAR far too late fopr that, the dealdy brain-rot of islam is out across the planet, just like christianity, also from that benighted region, rotting brains & killing & enslaving .....

Pigeon @ 383
Greg will be absolutely in his element, breeding new vegetables to cope with new conditions.
Already started in a very small way ... saving & selecting seed from difficult-to-find varieties & selecting for ones that do best in my microclimate & also applying classic selection pressure to a very attractive plant that is also a potentialdrug supply ( Papaver somniferum ) by rooting out all the "Boring red ones" - I'm now getting all the dark-purple / double / parrot-headed / very deep red types instead as I apply that filter to the available gene pool!
Keeps all the Bumble-bees v happy too.

PHK @ 384
REQUIRED reading
"Early Humans" ( in Britan ) No 134 from the amazing New Naturalist series

389:

Fines are never multiples of the assets except when ownership shenanigans take place, where for actual people fines frequently exceed their assets even for minor offences.

This is not actually true. I can give you a hard, factual example.

Back around 2011, the US DoJ went after Apple and the Big Five publishing conglomerates for price fixing, in response to a complaint by Amazon (which at that time haf 92% of the retail ebook market stitched up, and didn't want Apple and the publishers making an end run around the Kindle platform).

It's a lot easier to prove collusion than it is to prosecute a monopoly, as the DoJ discovered previously (breaking its teeth on AT&T, IBM, and Microsoft). So the DoJ since about 1995 focusses disproportionately on price-fixing, and jointly sued Apple, HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin Random House, and Macmillan. They demanded fines equal to a percentage of the annual revenue of the parties to the lawsuit.

Apple didn't want to get into a pissing match with the DoJ (risk of a sore-ass DoJ adding anti-trust charges over the closed iOS platform: medium to high) so bowed out immediately.

The DoJ then went after the remaining defendants … keeping the level of fines the same. One by one, the publishers caved, pleading guilty, because they're big but they're much, much smaller than Apple and the fines were onerous. Last one standing was Macmillan, a subsidiary of a privately-held company. Eventually they caved, too. As Joh Sergeant, CEO of Macmillan, explained to his authors: "we're not guilty, but the risk is too great—the level of fines we're facing as the last defendant exceed our market valuation and would instantly bankrupt us".

It's all about the politics, and in this case, the politics of the DoJ declining to prosecute an obvious monopoly (Amazon had 92% of the US ebook market at the time Apple announced the iBooks store: they're still around 90% in the UK and 80% in the USA) in favour of going after the folks trying to break the monopolist's business model.

390:

Next year, you have 200.000 people on bikes, trashing up and down through Europe like a plague of locust…

Politely: bullshit.

The USA already kinda-sorta has this: snowbirds — mostly retirees with modest assets, who discover an RV (self-propelled mobile home built on a truck/coach chassis) is cheaper than a house, and so they up sticks and migrate, spending the winter in Florida and the summer somewhere cooler/more pleasant.

Leaving aside that RVs are much worse for the environment than bicycles, I'm pretty sure there are rather more snowbirds already living this lifestyle in the US. So if you want an example of a fad lifestyle, you should probably try a bit harder ...

391:

Oh fucking SHIT
Rees-Smaug has issued instructions to his staff, one of which is actually illegal ... and I quote:
"Use imperial measurements."

I mean WHAT THE FUCK?
I started using what was than called the "mks" syatem, back when I turned 14 in 1960.
The International System of Measurements is the NATIONAL STANDARD & is enforced by law - unless you are Rees-Smaug it seems.
We use a couple of old "Imperial" meansurements by convention & for convenience - the Pint & the mile ... but even there, they are DEFINED as metric equivalents: 568 ml & 1.6 km, respectively ( to 3 sig figures, anyway )

392:

That is not the case in the UK. In many cases, the employee IS held criminally responsible - though the executive who gave them orders (with the threat of the sack for refusal) is not. I have been close to being in the former situation.

393:

No, it isn't necessarily illegal. The UK is a mess as far as units goes, and we have (deliberately) never completed the transition. Metric units are used for some purposes, Imperial for others and there is no constraint in yet others. Yes, I agree that our units are now defined in terms of metric: a mile is exactly 1,609,344 millimetres, incidentally.

He did have two good rules: double space after full stops and no comma following 'and'. Both help with comprehensibility.

394:

A friend of mine resigned from a job a few years ago after being instructed to cut corners on a safety critical system. Took legal advice and decided the risk of a few weeks unemployment was worth it.

He hasn't regretted it.

I can see it being a harder decision if you don't have marketable skills though.

395:

The UK is not that different. As you may have noticed, I am probably best described as a heretical radical, with anarchist and socialist tendencies. There are more of us than is often admitted, which is not to say that any two agree on anything :-)

http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/350.html

396:

double space after full stops and no comma following 'and'. Both help with comprehensibility.

Wrong.

Double-space after full stops is best handled by the document processor's text styling system, not by introducing spurious whitespace that will require a regexp to filter out when the document is processed by a non-human thing (e.g. a web scraper extracting content from official documents in order to help inform the public of MPs correspondence).

And the comma exists for a reason: it separates subordinate clauses which, in the presence of a conjunction, denoted by and, disambiguates a proposition. (Apply JRM's law to the preceding sentence then try to make sense of it.) Here's where a missing comma cost a company $5 million. (A badly drafted law governing contracts omitted a comma; as law-making is precisely what the government is there to do, I find JRM's cavalier approach to punctuation … disturbing and, furthermore, pretentious.)

398:

You need a regexp, anyway, to handle the case of the full stop occurring at the end of the line. And a lot of text is read as it is created, in simple 'ASCII', not formatted by a fancy system. I remember when the rule "no double spacing" came in, and it was part of the "secretary modern" style including no spacing between paragraphs or paragraph indentation. Such text is damn near unreadable because, if you lift your eyes for a moment, you can't find where you were. But it WAS fractionally cheaper for the publisher, because it packed more on the page, so that's all right, then.

I agree with you about subordinate clauses, but what I thought he was referring to was this regrettably common practice: "Grease-Smaug was a sanctimonious child and, he hasn't changed since." Therefore the instruction is wrong, because it is seriously ambiguous.

399:

I find JRM's cavalier approach to punctuation … disturbing and, furthermore, pretentious.

The whole style thing is typical of him though. It's a callback to "old" standards, and is wrong.

It also plays into his eccentric Victorian bullshit — which like the Boris persona detracts from what an evil little so-and-so he is.

400:

You will realise the consequences of the latter case, but others may not, because I realise I didn't explain in detail. Sorry. If the clause following the "and," is itself followed by a subordinate clause, the commas parse the sentence as if the clause following the "and," is subordinate, when it is not. I have seen that many times, and it's damn hard to parse - one example took me a minute of head-scratching.

In a way, I am surprised at his rule, because using a comma after "and" in the way I described was common in the 17th century, and had more-or-less disappeared until it was resuscitated recently.

401:

EC
Not so
We are fully "metricated" - i.e. ALL offical measurements are made in & using the "International System of Units" ... & it hasn't been called "metric" for some time, now.
The two outliers are defined as stated by my self, above.
Besides which I'm certain no-one under the age of at least 50 has the faintest idea what "imperial" units are or were ....
It's stupid, it's illegal & it causes confusion.
Note: - I have zero intention of going back to "imperial" except for 568-ml of BEER per serving, thank you very much!

On a side-note I see that Corbyn has finally admitted that a no-deal would seriously harm the NHS - took long enough ... now then, when is he going to back a "final say" - i.e. how long before he is dragged, kicking & screaming to face reality?
OTOH, I see that the Lem0crats are proposing to "Not Stand" against known popular "remainers" in other parties where necessary, to avoid splitting the vote.
ALL we need now is a for a Vote of No Confidence to succeed - which require at least some of the following conditions:
Get the SNP to vote as "Not confident" - will they, or would they rather wreck Britain & the Union for their cheished, supposed even-more-bankrupt-than-England "independance"?
Get at least 10 & preferably 20+ left-wing tories to vote "Not Confident"
Bribe the NI loons to vote "not confident" since money & corruption is all they appear to understand ....

402:

Oops. For illegal immigration, there is a tendency to tend towards the lower end of the spectrum in wages. For legal immigration, the tendency is probably towards the higher end, but with a habit of significantly underpaying for an equivalent job. Last startup I worked at typically boosted pay by 10-15k after someone got a green card.

So, for illegal immigration, there should be a change in the relative supply of unskilled labor. (Which is seen, as, eg, stoop labor would otherwise be rather more costly.)

Another way to put is that, anytime someone claims that citizens won't do some type of work - it should rephrased to either - citizens won't do that type of work for the wages offered because we can hire cheaper labor or the business is noneconomic without lowering wage rates by importing labor.

Now, yes, any generic increase in labor supply just grows the economy and more than that, with an aging native workforce, funds care for retired workers. But, the implemented immigration system in the US does disadvantage low skill citizen workers.

Now, if you were interested in raising low skill wages, a mandatory e-verify program and some sort of immigrants right bill where you could sue for triple damages if underpaid relative to comparable labor, also with h1bs owned by the worker rather than the company, would actually help people impacted by immigration. Now, this would still be bad, eg, for me, because strawberries would be expensive and we probably couldn't afford maid service.

One frustration is that the current administration is more interested in evil-signalling than actually doing anything substantive. I mean, something worse than policies I disagree with. From a national perspective, not even wrong. I mean, decent politically for racists, but not even productive.

403:

Bribe the NI loons to vote "not confident" since money & corruption is all they appear to understand ....

The first rule of that sort of politics is that you have to stay bought. Anything else is bad for future business.

I expect the DUP to stay on side for the duration of their current agreement for that reason alone.

404:

Road signpost distances are in miles, speed limits are in MPH, etc. And at least the latter (probably also the former) are used in the law of the land. For evidence:

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1983/1168/contents/made
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/24/contents/made

A quick search finds that troy ounces (as well as pints) are still legal for trade, and yards and ounces are defined (for what purposes, I can't say). There may well still be others used for other purposes, and I certainly have seen acres used (recently) in sales material.

405:

Actually, I think that both of you are maligning them. For all their grievous faults, they are generally a party of principle (often loathesome principle, to be sure). The most likely reason for them to break off the arrangement is because they believe that Bozo has shafted them, or is about to.

Their current potential demands (and they haven't made them yet) are because they made an arrangement with May, and they have said that it needs to be renegotiated with Bozo. I don't think any of us here know exactly what they and May agreed, which includes the term of the agreement.

406:

This is the DUP you're talking about, who were never going to vote down Theresa May on a confidence matter for fear of causing a Sinn Fein-supporting PM yet still wangled a billion quid for a confidence and supply arrangement. Let's not presume crowbarring another chunk out of the Tories is beyond their talents.

407:

Snowbirds are precisely USAnian pensioners, I don't think you can find a more bicycle-adverse demographic if you tried.

In the post-adamic society in Europe we are talking about, it would be young people from bicycle-native nations like Denmark and Holland.

Not really a relevant comparison if you ask me...

My point is that if you have the majority of the population lounging around with enough resources to survive without any scheduled duties, you'd better have a good way to deal with flash-mobs...

408:

My understanding, by hearsay, is that 10-15k is about what it costs reach year for a company to help push through a green card and upkeep some other work visa. But the one time I saw salary info for an immigrant from China I think he was paid around 2/3 of what his peers were paid, which was more like 40k different.

409:

Greg, I'm fairly sure that under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act the motion of no confidence has to be submitted by either the Government or the official Opposition, so Corbyn. And he won't submit another unless he thinks he can win an election.
Although the SNP is now the third largest party, so that means they get three days a month to debate their pet motions, so in theory perhaps Ian Blackford can submit a confidence motion via that route. Whether the Speaker accepts it is a different question.

410:

Get the SNP to vote as "Not confident" - will they, or would they rather wreck Britain & the Union for their cheished, supposed even-more-bankrupt-than-England "independance"?

They'll vote no confidence in Boris. It's inevitable.

a) Boris is extremely unpopular in Scotland—more than 70% regard him as untrustworthy and incompetent, and while his presence as PM raises support for Scottish Independence about 3-4%, not voting to get rid of him would play really badly throughout Scotland.

b) There's a risk that if Boris is allowed to stay in Number 10 his headbanger cabinet will push him to roll back devolution. (Ruth Davidson won't do anything to stop that—she's on his shit-list.) So they want him out; Corbyn would be much easier to deal with (even though he leads a party that see the SNP as an existential threat to Scottish Labour).

c) There are two outcomes to a confidence vote: the government falls, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, SNP are no worse off than they are now. If it falls, there are two outcomes: Boris is re-elected, or he's given the boot. Same argument applies.

The only real risk for the SNP in voting no confidence in Boris is that he might win an election, with an expanded majority. But if he thinks he can do that he'll force an election anyway.

Get at least 10 & preferably 20+ left-wing tories to vote "Not Confident"

That's the hard part.

The Tory party is the party of clinging onto power by any means possible.

This is also true at an individual level, and expecting Tory MPs to vote no confidence in a Tory government right now, with BXP snapping at their heels, is like asking turkeys to vote for Mr Big Bad Wolf.

411:

"You’re assuming that all immigrants become unskilled labourers, and that’s plainly false."

That's a good point. When my grandfather arrived in the U.S. he immediately got a job with the University of Minnesota as a translator in Russian and Yiddish.

412:

Another way to put is that, anytime someone claims that citizens won't do some type of work - it should rephrased to either - citizens won't do that type of work for the wages offered because we can hire cheaper labor or the business is noneconomic without lowering wage rates by importing labor.

A few years ago when the neocons ruled Canada, food retailers in Fort MacMurray* had a hard time finding minimum-wage employees to serve coffee and donuts. Turns out when there's a lot of high-paying jobs around people prefer them. For a while they did what they could with student labour**, but then they realized that they would make more money with cheap labour who couldn't take a high-paying job elsewhere — so they petitioned for and were granted the ability to hire foreign workers (using a program that grants temporary work visas to foreign workers with critical skills no Canadian has). The visa is granted for a particular job, you see, so the worker can't simply quit and go to a high-paying job elsewhere.

So rather than a rising tide lifting all boats, business owners discovered a government-sanctioned method of chaining the lowest-level workers to anchors. And pouring coffee for minimum wage became a critical skill.

*City closest to the Tar Sands, who's economy is dependent on, and strongly distorted by, oil sector wages. Cost of living was high because of the number of people working in the oil sector (who made incredible wages).

**One Tim Hortons franchise offered university scholarships to long-term employees, for example.

413:

With regard to low wage/immigrant workers, there's an interesting development going on. I'm not an economist and don't fully understand the implications, but FWIW,

https://www.expressnews.com/business/local/article/The-worst-we-ve-ever-seen-San-Antonio-14117030.php

‘The worst we’ve ever seen’: San Antonio hotels are struggling to find workers by Madison Iszler July 23, 2019 Updated: July 24, 2019 4:27 p.m. [EXCERPTS]
With San Antonio’s unemployment rate hitting historic lows, hoteliers in the city’s $15.2 billion tourism industry are struggling to find housekeepers, dishwashers and waiters.

It’s never been easy recruiting for jobs that involve hard work and low pay, but the crunch is reaching new levels of pain.

To attract the entry-level workers they need, companies are forced to raise wages and change hiring practices. [a hotel staffing company], for example, is bringing on more part-time workers and relying on temp agencies for help with staffing — a departure from years past.

In a humming economy, hotel operators aren’t just competing with each other, said Ed McClure, CEO of Boerne-based Phoenix Hospitality Group, which recently opened the Bevy hotel in Boerne. They’re also up against construction firms, retail stores and health care organizations hungry for the same entry-level workers.

A broken immigration system doesn’t help. The hospitality industry depends on many immigrant workers, including those with H-2B visas for seasonal work and undocumented employees.

414:

EC @ 404
SIGH
YEs, but, very important but ... the BASE UNITS are all International System ... all the others are "derived" & are accepted by long convention.
You will find however, that all legal defintions are in "International" - this is what the mis-named "metric martyrs" was all about - they refused to have their scales ( principally ) re-calibrated to IS standards, or to show both sets of measures.

Charlie ...
Re. BOZO .. more than 70% regard him as untrustworthy and incompetent THE SAME applies here, actually ...

I think Hammond f'rinstance would vote Boris down - how many would follow him?
I am of the opinion that we can survive a Coryn "government" IF we are in the EU ...
But if we are out of the EU & especially if no deal ... then it doen't matter which so-called "government " we have it will be an utter disaster...

Here's a list ( which may not be accurate ) of why BOZO is unsuitable

1. Sacked for making up a quote while working as a newspaper journalist. Three times.
2. Sacked for lying about an affair.
3. Discussed having a journalist beaten up.
4. Endangered a British citizen jailed in Iran, likely caused the doubling of their sentence form 5 to 10 years, and was forced in parliament to apologise.
5. Called black people 'picaninnies'.
6. Mocked Muslim women as 'letterboxes'.
7. Used racist terms to describe Barack Obama.
8. Propagated the £350m-a-week Brexit lie.
9. Doubled down on this by stating that pledge of £350m a week was “grossly underestimated”, and claimed that leaving the EU would free up £438m for the health service (Jan 2018).
10. Lied about Turkey joining the EU.
11. Repeatedly ignored conflict-of-interest rules. Three times in a single year.
12. Spent millions on the London Garden Bridge project (literally zero to show for this spending). This cost will be met by the taxpayer
13. . Spent £300,000 water cannon that cannot be used because they’re illegal.
14. Spent thousands ordering a new design of London bus that became a ‘sauna on wheels’, and which required a conductor when the remainder of the infrastructure (ticketing, etc) was set up for ‘no conductor’.
15. Called gay men 'tank-topped bum boys'.
16. Recited a colonial-era poem in Myanmar in front of several local government big-wigs. Literally had to be physically stopped by the British Ambassador.
17. . Wrote a dirty limerick about Turkey’s President and a goat. ( OK, that MIGHT be a good point! )
18. Insulted the entire city of Liverpool.
19. Said Africa needs its old Colonial powers to come back.
20. Claimed money spent of a child abuse investigation was 'spiffed up a wall'.
21. Called the French ‘turds’ who ‘shafted Britain’.
22. Compared the EU to Adolf Hitler.
23. Proclaimed ‘fuck business’ when asked about the effect of Brexit on the UK’s economy.
24. Said ‘fuck the families’ of the 7/7 bombings (allegedly).
25. Branded Hillary Clinton a ‘sadistic mental health nurse’.
26. Cosied up to a President he had previously stated was ‘unfit to rule’.
27. Refused to back the UK Ambassador to the US.
28. Deliberately flew out of the country to avoid a vote on Heathrow Airport, having previously stated that he would ‘lie down in front of the bulldozers’, if construction ever started.
29. Advocated leaving the EU but suggested building a bridge across the Channel in order to remain connected.
30. Also advocated building a bridge linking the UK to Ireland.
31. Literally started his career writing EU myths about straight banana regulations and similar.
32. Had to cut short a 2015 visit to Palestine due to his pro-Israel remarks (while he was Foreign Secretary).
33. Described the people of Papua New Guinea as ‘cannibals’. While he was Foreign Secretary.
34. Described Black American basketball players as having "arms hanging below their knees and tongues sticking out".
35. The day before he was due to appear as an advocate against FGM, he publicly mocked the “obsession” of women aid workers on ending FGM.
36. Cost taxpayers an estimated £323 million with a bungled Olympic Stadium conversion.
37. Told EU leaders to, "go whistle" over the ‘divorce bill’.
38. Told a fellow politician to “get stuffed” when they asked him about cuts to the London Fire Service that occurred while he was Mayor.
39. . Called for Scottish people to be blocked from becoming prime minister because "government by a Scot is just not conceivable."
40. Lied about voting in May 2019 local elections.
41. Spent an estimated £24million on his cable car vanity project. That goes from nowhere to nowhere, and which averages a few dozen passengers per day.
42. Can’t remember how many children he has.
43. Has dodged questions on whether he has ever used cocaine.
44. Took credit for the ‘Boris Bikes’ (actually planned and implemented by his predecessor Ken Livingstone).
45. Took credit for the Olympic planning (actually planned and 90% implemented by his predecessor Ken Livingstone).
46. Caused a diplomatic incident with Italy over his remarks (threats) about prosecco.
47. Also made up a story about how all Italian men have small penises.
48. Wrote two newspaper columns before the referendum - one for ‘leave’, and one for ‘remain’, and decided to publish the ‘leave’ one because it was better for his career.
49. Claimed that the Libyan city of Sirte (destroyed in the civil war with horrendous civilian casualties) would have a bright future as a luxury resort ‘once they cleared the dead bodies away’.

Cut-out-&-paste for your convenience ( Public or otherwise )

415:

The metrication of Imperial units happened a long time back, when we both in primary school - and, yes, the inch changed. That's not what almost anyone means. I gave you one current legal definition in Imperial - I am damn sure there are lots of others, but there are far too many laws to check.

416:

Don't bet on them being all young - there are a hell of a lot of us elderly cyclists, even in the UK, and a lot more many European countries. But, as OGH implied, it's a problem we could adapt to.

417:

From a national perspective, not even wrong. I mean, decent politically for racists, but not even productive.

The right does not want a modern economy. A modern economy is the wrong kind of competition and severely disadvantages the "women, cattle, and slaves" social fabric the right requires to have any organisational or economic relevance. Do not expect the right-wing policy to be economic prosperity; the right wing policy is to reduce the capability of the economy to a level where their preferred social organisation makes sense.

Yes, this does mean they're in favour of climate change, not merely in denial about oil revenue; the more food insecurity, the better, as far as they're concerned. They'll never go hungry. And it will get rid of that awful large-co-operating-group, educate-all sort of post-industrial social competition and go back to "who's your daddy?" the way god intended.

418:

Unfortunately, yes. But there IS a ray of light. If Bozo betrays Parliament and defaults us out of the EU, there might well be enough MPs to vote him out. Provided that the enemies of socialism have not destroyed the Labour party by then, the reaction to what will be a fairly impressive economic crash might well get Corbyn in with a sizeable majority. And he might address the issues.

Yes, far too many "might"s, and all are very speculative, but that's the best plausible outcome I can see :-(

419:

IIUC, the archaeologists think that people first got into sustained resource competition around beds of shellfish. You could argue, I suppose, that they weren't people yet, but there's no reason to assume that kind of competition ever went away.

FWIW, pack predators defend rich hunting grounds, so the odds are the habit goes back quite far in the hominid line...possibly to proconsul, or even further...but the further back you look, the sketchier the evidence is. Still, I think that "competition for easy access to resources" should be the default assumption, and that it would be the contrary argument that would need defending.

420:

I think you are grossly overoptimistic. A large number of people who are bored out of their minds will find something "interesting" to do, but it won't necessarily be socially beneficial. Some will be, but it's so much easier to be destructive than constructive, and people are lazy. (Not as lazy as lions or other long-time predators, but lazy.)

421:

The wild-card of course is Parkinssons Law :-)

422:

EC @ 415
Are you doing this deliberately?
If so, PLEASE, please, STOP IT?

Yes, there are derived "imperial" units in common use, but the legal & educational definitions are International System.
Rees=Smaug is going back to a past none of us want, against ALL Science & Engineering (As one might expecty from a complete Arsehole like him ) simply so that he can wave his willy. I wouldn't be suprised to hear him use the "Vierte Reich" meme that the more extreme nutters have been using about the EU.
It makes me so angry - it was the one guaranteed thing that would make my late father lose his temper, too ...
And, I'm NOT INTERESTED in your attempting to accomodate Rees=Smaug in his ignorant smug arrognat posturing just to wind me up.

@ 418
No
Because Corbyn has a long history of fucking-up ...
But we desperately need a Vote of No Confidence to succeed - which is a matter of TIMING, as much as anything else.
And Corbyn "IN" after an economic crash AFTER we are ouit of the EU WILL BE TOO FUCKING LATE - there will be no recovery in my lifetime, nor that of our "children" either, so it's utterly pointless.
STAYING IN the EU first ... then economic reform, because the other way around is simpply not possible.

423:

" STAYING IN the EU first ... then economic reform, because the other way around is simpply not possible."

Unfortunately true.

"And Corbyn "IN" after an economic crash AFTER we are ouit of the EU WILL BE TOO FUCKING LATE"

Still vastly better than the alternative though - ie. for the country to go to shit while being ruled by a party of selfish wealth who just want to make sure that all the bits worth anything go to them.

424:

"The easiest way to implement it would be to make banks and credit cards responsible for sifting the 5% of while the money moves."

NO NO NO NO NO... Terrible idea.

Because of the terrible potential it has for augmenting the trend which already stands in severe need of reversal, of banks and the like becoming inserted into every fucking transaction no matter how trivial, down to the point where you can't even buy something as cheap and commonplace as a pint of milk or a loaf of bread without a fucking bank account. Which quickly leads to me not having to buy bread or milk at all, it being provided by the prison system as a result of me trying to maintain my food intake in the absence of means to pay for it.

The thing to change is simply all the silly rules that let companies dodge taxes by pretending to be somewhere else. On which I am not even remotely knowledgeable, but I am nevertheless very strongly inclined to believe that they are in large part the aggregate outcome of innumerable previous measures designed on the same principle, ie. some "even-handed" blanket measure that is supposed to catch the principal targets in its folds while being comparatively much less of a burden to those who barely tent it - of which the inevitable result is that the main targets immediately find some escape route that isn't available to normal people, and the entire burden, plus all the unconsidered side effects that come with it, lands instead on those who were supposed to not be much affected - borne out of legislators being too nesh to tilt solidly and directly at the targets most in need of targeting.

In the particular case in question an obvious failure mode is banks with a head office address that is some garden shed in Switzerland or a public toilet in Luxembourg, owned (in real terms as opposed to fairyland ones) by the same old Apples and Amazons, armed with an immunity to "foreign" auditors and several hundred gigabytes of arguments which are at the same time both legally unassailable and complete undiluted bullshit to "prove" that what looks like hundreds of billions of bucks of business nevertheless only attracts taxation to the sum of forty-seven dollars, twenty-two pence and a Hershebian half-dong.

If the solution does have to be a scrupulously "even-handed" blanket measure, then one could do a lot worse than to change the various definitions of "legally unassailable" so as to make them definitely incompatible with "complete undiluted bullshit"...

425:

"Next year, you have 200.000 people on bikes, trashing up and down through Europe like a plague of locust..."

They do that already, but they use planes.

426:

"something "interesting" to do, but it won't necessarily be socially beneficial."

Sure. I said that right at the start. Most of them will sit on their arse watching TV, and there is nothing wrong with this. The distribution will be somewhat different, but the total number of those who do things that aren't beneficial won't change much.

The number of people doing things that are maleficial will go down, because people won't have to do them in order to eat any more, nor will they be culturally brainwashed into misclassifying them; those who actually want to do them will no doubt exist, but in very small numbers (as with any perverse taste), and moreover will be unable to do them to any effect without the current framework to give them meaning.

We already do have a large class of people, numbering some millions, who do have the time to spend all day watching TV but don't have the option to do something less vegetable instead - both because they simply don't have the money, and because it incurs a large risk of them losing what little money they do have. The existence of this class of people gives us several decades of experiential evidence that they do not in fact compensate for the boredom by constantly smashing shit up. Of course some of them do, but the great majority do not; and of course it is only the minority who do that anyone else notices.

Another noteworthy point demonstrated by this class of people is that in less oppressive times, when the "large risk" constraint did not apply, they did use their freedom of time to do constructive things. An obvious example exists in all the well-known bands who began their careers doing gigs for the petrol money using the time resource they had available while on the dole. Less conspicuous are all the individuals who used the time to do volunteer work. Can't get away with doing either of those these days, but back when you could, people did it a lot. (And still do if they can manage to do it in a solidly deniable manner - not so easy, because of the obvious contradiction, but there nevertheless are a few people who manage it to their satisfaction.)

The trouble is that this class of people has been and is universally classed purely as a problem, both in general policy terms and in terms of how those people who belong to it are made to think, and therefore something to be avoided, eliminated, and, in default of those, suppressed and ignored except when an opportunity arises for vilification - instead of being looked at as an example/model/source of evidence from across the entire spectrum as opposed to purely from the negative end. The term "tomorrow people" kind of suggests itself.

[ This post includes a Fuck You Arse-Mug CommaTM. ]

427:

Do not expect the right-wing policy to be economic prosperity

Well, not for everyone.

The website of the Reserve Bank of Australia is probably not a place most people would visit for a laugh but, in the debate about unemployment, the pitiful rate of Newstart and a government defined by “have a go to get a go” theatrical self-starterism, oh, oh, oh, there are some sad, bleak chortles to be found there.

It’s on that very website that the RBA quite blithely admits – with none of the jobs-and-growth sleight-of-hand to which politicians are disposed – that the very fabric of the Australian economy is one woven to ensure a perpetual pool of unemployed workers.

https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/26/having-a-constant-pool-of-unemployed-workers-is-deliberate-policy

For those with a more technical mind than the heat has left me, here's a link to the original bulletin:

https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/bulletin/2017/jun/2.html