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CASE NIGHTMARE BLONDE, Part 2

I'm speechless.

Since the previous blog entry with this title (on August 28th, a scant 8 weeks or so ago) British politics has gone mad. The Prime Minister seized power so enthusiastically, that when he grabbed the levers of power they broke off in his hands. PMs are not supposed to lose Commons votes; in excitingly historic times it maybe happens a couple of times a decade. This guy is losing them weekly; in fact, it makes headlines when he actually gets a vote to go his way. When he arrived he had a narrow majority, but then he sacked 25 or so of his MPs, and now he's gone and pissed off the minor party that was propping his majority up so badly that the DUP has bailed on him (and are rumoured to be backing Labour's call for a second Brexit referendum). This is like having a skunk cross the road to avoid you because you smell bad. After the Scottish courts ruled his first Prorogation illegal on constitutional grounds Johnson has tried playing dog in the manger, culminating in his behaviour last night when, in response to the Benn Act requirement for him to petition the EU27 for a Brexit extension, he sent them an unsigned photocopy of the letter specified in the Act, with a handwritten request to ignore it. (We have a Prime Minister in full Petulant Schoolboy Meltdown Mode right now.) We have ... no, I can't go on.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic Preznit Shitrag (I love him really! No, honestly) tried to schedule the next session of the G7 at one of his own resort hotels, in order to line his own pocket. It's as if he can't spell "emoluments" and doesn't care that he's under investigation for impeachment, or something.

In today's Guardian, Nick Cohen has a column that makes sense of it all. In general, there are two rival schools of history: the Great Man theory (history is manufactured on the fly by very stable geniuses), and the movement of masses theory (aka Marxism, aka Economics, aka it's all about who's got the money). Cohen advances a third, highly plausible, theory, the Great Moron Theory of history, and manages to cite Norman Dixon's classic work, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence. Briefly: these political dumpster fires bear striking psychological similarities to the inflexible and incompetent generals who thrive in military institutions until they're challenged by the exigencies of actually having to, er, do war stuff. At which point they break, catastrophically: they confuse war with sport, expect their enemies to mindlessly impale themselves on the ends of their bayonets, and consequently pay more attention to self-advancement than victory. This can work (for a while) when you're not at the top of the greasy pole, but when you're at the top there's no further scope for self-advancement: you have to deal, or else.

Anyway.

I am now waiting with bated breath for the EU27's reaction to BoJo's clowning about. Hopefully, if they've got any sense, they'll grant him a 12 month extension (way more than he asked for); that'd instantly provide us with enough elbow room for a People's Vote and/or a general election. But more likely the pain is likely to drag out until the opposition get bored pulling the wings off the upside-down-and-waggling-its-lets-in-the-air Boris, allow a no confidence motion to pass, and then try to form a government headed by ... who? Jeremy Corbyn? (Forget Jo Swinson.) If we're very lucky it'll turn out that Keir Starmer is running the show behind the curtain and Jezza will obediently do as he's told: but that's probably too much to ask for.

One thing is, however, now glaringly clear: if BoJo manages to push a Brexit through (any Brexit) it's curtains for the Union. Currently polls in Scotland show a 54-56% majority for independence in event of a no-deal Brexit; this rises to 70% or thereabouts among the under-34s. Boris's contempt for Scottish politicians is pretty glaring: he's grown up in the wake of Margaret Thatcher's abandonment of Conservative seats north of the border circa 1980 and doesn't seem to realize that it'll take actual hard work to convince Scotland (and Northern Ireland) not to leave—prevaricating over issuing a Section 30 Order to permit a referendum only makes things worse (for which, see Barcelona). His predecessors are worried, with good reason; it seems likely that Johnson's bumptious Little Englander pose is going to rupture the UK.

So. What next?

1311 Comments

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1:

The polls amaze me. Most of them say the Tories would win a general election. How can the other parties be losing?

2:

The courts not automatically siding with the government of the day was a good sign.

How strong are other institutions like the police and military going to be in abiding by the law of the land, not just what the government says to do?

3:

It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I'm typing this from the cubbyhole under the stairs which I have equipped with bedding, a mountain of tinned and dried food and a paraffin stove (well, no, I suspect that would suffocate me and the cats, so I'm condemned to cold food until the lights go out, and also to emerging occasionally to attend to the call of nature). The cats are being surprisingly resistant to digging a real bunker, even after I attached the spades to their feet and told them where to look for Australia. There are only fields and my front garden between me and Fairford Airbase; should WW3 kick off due to Tramp's idiocy, I won't have to endure Brexit any longer.

OK, no, I'm not stockpiling/bunkering down -- there's no damned point. But the future is bleak.

Yes, with luck the EU will grant a long long extension -- enough time for our broke politics to sort itself out (not that I thunk any of them have the glimmering of an inkling of a clue) -- and also reset the clock on the transition timetable. But, like you, I believe the Union is history -- NI to Eire, Scotland to independence and back into the EU, the rest of us to a backwater of Little Eng;and with a powerless Welsh appendage.

My heritage is Welsh and English but I'd move in a moment if I could, except for ties to family and friends.

4:

In short, Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable. He has the peak support he will ever gain, and most of it sits within the Labour membership. So he can't be shifted in favour of a more palatable leader, but he can't gain any new support either. And the one thing he could do to gain support is announce unequivocal support for a people's vote. Which, as a committed Leaver, he won't do (also there are some Leave voting Labour constituencies where that could cost the party the seat... but those are actually relatively few). The SNP + Lib Dem + Green + some independents axis is great but in a general election will probably only serve to weaken the Labour vote. Also, FPTP is literally the worst democratic arrangement possible and in a modern democracy there is no excuse for it, unless you are one of the two entrenched parties who gain the most from it.

My take on what happens next: The deal might just pass on a knife-edge tomorrow, but the Letwin amendment, as I read it, makes it a dead duck anyway. The Letwin amendment requires the relevant legislation to be enacted before the UK can exit... which presumably means Parliament can vote down the relevant legislation should it choose to do so. Any constitutional scholars who can set me right on this score, please do. I doubt the EU will refuse the extension. So could there be a Vote of No Confidence? You could argue the Letwin amendment was actually that - designed to force the PM to comply with the law, a very strong signal saying "Parliament does not trust the PM to conduct his duties in good faith." Doesn't matter though, because there aren't the votes to push through an actual VoNC and the non-tory parties are too fragmented to agree on a government of national unity.

Meanwhile the stalemate continues. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson wants a general election because he knows Labour is too weak to win. A possible majority of MPs but neither of the major parties want a peoples' vote because Remain will most likely win on current polling*.

Factors that could change the situation:
- London Bridge falling down, as identified by Charlie already, so I won't rehash that.
- Corbyn dies unexpectedly, because that's the only way he's getting ousted any time soon. Say you get Keir Starmer as leader instead, that could be a huge game changer.
- The EU27 refuse an extension, in which case we're done for. I imagine Johnson would actually rip up the deal if he could get no deal and blame the EU for it.
- 1922 committee loses faith in Johnson and ousts him. Super unlikely, and they'd only put someone worse, probably Gove, in his place.
- Putin dies unexpectedly. The ALLEGED recipients of his largesse (who I shall not name here but you can guess who I believe they would be) suddenly find their funding dries up, and the Peoples' Vote campaign suddenly finds itself pushing on an open-ish door. There are still enough Aaron Bankses around to make the second referendum a knock-down drag-out fight though.

*But do be aware the current polling is pre-campaign, in which the Leave campaign will again lie through their teeth, supported by the billionaire-owned right wing press. Enough people are probably gullible enough to swing the numbers back.

5:

How can the other parties be losing?

It helps to be aware that the media environment is toxic. 80% of the newspapers are owned by extreme right wing billionaire tax exiles (Lachlan Murdoch is typical of this crew), the BBC's newsroom is compromised (forget conservative bias, Any Questions' editorial stance tilts towards Britain First/BNP/BXP), and so on. Also, the Conservatives' backers have discovered that election spending rules were drafted before social media was a thing, so while spending on campaign ads on TV and in newspapers is stringently restricted, nobody knows who the hell is spending what on Facebook and Twitter. (But we do know that BoJo's guru Dominic Cummings is heavily into targeted FB spend, using outfits like Cambridge Analytica to deliver ads to vulnerable swing voters in marginal constituencies).

It's also worth noting that the Tories are running to the hard right, trying to prevent UKIP—or now Nigel Farage's Brexit Party, which is basically the former British National Party (fascists) in a respectable suit, with shady American oligarch funding via small anonymous Paypal donations that don't hit the threshold for declaring funding sources—from stealing their votes. Electing Boris was to some extent a successful tactic against Farage, but it's prone to backfire.

As for the opposition ... all is not as it seems.

If there was a general election tomorrow, the SNP would scoop up all but maybe 1 or 2 out of over 50 Scottish seats. Scotland is Mordor as far as the Tories are concerned. That's the easy bit, so let's ignore Scotland for now.

Labour ... is divided: about 80%+ pro-Remain (the Tories are about 95% pro-Leave). Trouble is, their Leave support is concentrated in strongly pro-Leave constituencies which might well go to the LibDems or Tories. And then there's Corbyn. Jezza's problem is that he's a deeply sincere man of strong principles who has spent a third of a century as a stiff-necked principled dissident within his own party (under more pragmatic, not to say right wing, leadership). His entire history is sticking up to the Man. Now he is the Man and he doesn't understand how to do that. If we're lucky he'll have a heart attack and there'll be a rapid Labour reshuffle and someone like Keir Starmer will end up as leader. (A barrister -- same courtroom-debate-oriented background as Tony Blair -- only with principles, unlike Blair. Strongly internationalist, pro-EU.)

The LibDems have been drifting steadily to the right since 2007, unnoticed by most until 2010 and their coalition with the Tories. Now they're waiting in the wings like vultures, hoping to become the next centre-right party after the Tories disintegrate over Brexit. They will not cooperate with Labour, unless it's for very short-term tactical advantage. In fact, I think their leaders currently see Labour as the real long-term enemy. (The rank and file still contain a lot of unreconstructed liberal lefties: they're doomed to disappointment in the long term.)

The one ray of hope is that we have an FPTP electoral system, and while the opposition to the Tories is divided, the opposition parties now largely have disjoint home territories. That is: in many Conservative seats the LibDems are the main opposition, and in others it's Labour, but in those specific seats there is only one effective opposition party and the third party is only barely there. I've seen analyses of the polling that suggest despite the Tories having a 10-20% lead, the outcome of an election could well be a hung parliament simply because of the way the FPTP dominos fall.

And the one ray of gloom is the risk that it might be a hung parliament with enough BXP MPs to make a Tory/BXP coalition possible. In which case, holy fuck, we're doomed.

6:

The only opposition party that counts in the UK as a whole is Labour. The LibDems are still suffering from the Tory alliance, the Greens are Good but Smol, and UKIP and the like are hollow shells as most of them have defected to the Tories. Plaid Cymru, the SNP, Sinn Fein and the Unionists are local parties for local people.

And Labour is led by Jeremy Corbyn, who regards the EU as a neo-liberal Thatcherite scheme to disenfranchise the workers, trample on the working class, etc.

Those of us who voted remain, along with others who weren't allowed to vote such as then under-18s and non-British EU citizens resident in the UK, are faced with the best possibility of a second referendum to either go for the deal with May's name crossed out and Johnson's written in in crayon, or to remain in the EU.

Cambridge Analytica may be gone, but its successors are geared up to make sure that Remain doesn't happen, and they have the advantage on Facebook whose users if the care at all are overwhelmingly Leave, feeding off each others' ideas and the occasional nudge from carefully targeted ads. Facebook has more users than Twitter, which is more evenly split between Leave and Remain, but it's still too close. Plus as OGH has noted the mainstream media is overwhelmingly Leave

So be prepared for something resembling a deal to pass, then years if not decades of listening to the winners moan about why is Brexit going on after we left because we've still got to do all the trade deals to try to replace what we lost so we don't starve or die for lack of medicine...

And there I was looking towards a comfy retirement.

7:

Charlie: "...until they're challenged by the exigencies of actually having to, er, do military stuff."

I would rephrase it as 'war stuff'. Military stuff is garrison work and movement to/prep for war. It's much more orderly, and imposing a strict order is likely the best course of action in most cases. Entropy gets a vote, but a weak one, and the enemy gets none at all.

War is extremely chaotic; entropy gets fistfuls of votes, and the enemy's voting power is now revealed.

8:

Yup, you're absolutely correct. Editing the OP to reflect this!

9:

The streets of Paris have seen major advertising popping this week about where to go and what to do for British citizens working/studying here "Before Oct. 31st". Because nobody was sure there might be an extension deal coming.

10:

"The streets of Paris have seen major advertising popping this week about where to go and what to do for British citizens working/studying here "Before Oct. 31st". Because nobody was sure there might be an extension deal coming."

IMHO, if there is a No Deal, it will result in the largest forced 'cleansing' Westeran/Eastern Europe since WWII (everything I've heard about the English Home OIffice screams racist xenophobia).

That alone will tear at the UK's relationsihp with the EU for a generation.

11:

Half the matrix display boards on UK motorways are currently showing a message which says "Shipping to/from EU, Paperwork may change, Check online"

Which, of course, you can't because nobody knows what the requirements will be until the deal is agreed. I'm scheduled to work in the EU in November; will I need a visa? Will there be time to apply? Nobody knows.

Even if this was provably the will of the people it would be nice to think it was being implemented by people with some degree of organisation. How is any business of any scale supposed to prepare for an unknown business regime with less than 2 weeks' notice?

12:
Labour ... is divided: about 80%+ pro-Remain (the Tories are about 95% pro-Leave). Trouble is, their Leave support is concentrated in strongly pro-Leave constituencies which might well go to the LibDems or Tories.

Why would a pro-Leave Labour voter go to the LibDems? It seems unlikely to me that many who traditionally vote Labour would go to the Tories; the BXP, UKIP or even BNP seem more likely.

13:

I've gotten to the point that I actually don't care what happens. It's all happening a long way away, and I've done all I can.

In fact, just for the death of the UK, I'll say yay Brexit! I support Scottish independence, just like I support Catalan independence, on the principle of contrariness (that is, if 'they' support it, I oppose it, and vice-versa).

I also think that the "Western" countries are a bunch of hypocritical sods when it comes to self-determination. But that's neither here nor there.

14:

W.r.t. the last, exactly the same would be true with a 'pure' Conservative government or even a minority one with enough low cunning and sympathetic independents. They have already said that they intend to emasculate Parliament, make us subservient to the USA, and so on.

I believe that the one ray of hope in that case is that they will fuck the economy up quickly and badly enough that there is a serious rebound to the left, liberalism and independence (from control by the USA and oligarchs). I agree about Corbyn, but am unconvinced about Starmer being capable of running an effective revolution, and certainly not with a country as badly divided as the UK is. Attlee probably had an easier task, politically. Unfortunately, I don't see a candidate.

15:

And the one thing he could do to gain support is announce unequivocal support for a people's vote. Which, as a committed Leaver, he won't do (also there are some Leave voting Labour constituencies where that could cost the party the seat... but those are actually relatively few).

As I understand it official Labour policy is a second referendum after renegotiating with the EU, offering a choice between Remain and their deal. Though I am not a fan of Corbyn, that doesn't seem to be the sticking point.

16:

On your first paragraph, I really don't understand Question Time's stance. My suspicion is that their antipathy to the Greens is because the BBC dare not be seen to be even tacitly supporting pressure on the government to actually DO something about environmental issues, and program makers like Attenborough aren't going to muzzle themselves. But they don't have anything comparable to counterbalance in that case. Do you know the reason?

There's also a serious amount of foreign influence and money aimed at destroying Corbyn and all he stands for, Brexit be buggered. But that is coming from the two countries that the media (including the BBC and ITV) never, never dare accuse of such behaviour.

17:

How do you get capitalism to stop?

It has to stop; it's proposing to entirely devour its own entrails throughout Mother England.

No one was allowed to ask that question in public since the Wall came down. It's a question for which people are completely unprepared, and interestingly, there is absolutely no cohesion in the UK institutional response. (E.g., the rapid and determined decarbonization of the British grid, which no one with central power is trying to stop because they're completely occupied with this EU thing.)

So, anyway; the UK is going through a collapse of governmental legitimacy. It may not survive.

Positive signs:
- for the first time in centuries, it looks like the form of government is changing; Parliament is giving direction to the executive to implement. That's a much better formalism than presuming a majority. An able politician as PM could do something with that kind of role, and it significantly improves the path to something other than first-past-the-post. (FPTP has become legitimacy solvent among the under-50s these days.)
- people are asking a lot of questions about what they want the government to do, instead of treating it as an axiomatic norm
- no one in a position of eminence is advocating for the materially impossible; the constraint of facts is holding
- there's the real possibility of getting the EU to 500 kg gorilla the UK's accounting practice and tax avoidance problem

Negative signs:
- media has been captured nigh-completely by the Money, who aren't up for admitting that they've failed as a social organizing principle
- no one is admitting that the future is going to be a century or more of awful effort to try to keep everybody from dying, implying that the UK is going to have to do this collapse-of-legitimacy thing twice in quick succession.
- the "we need new political parties" step hasn't formally happened yet, in large part because it can't because of this state of permanent norms-crisis in Parliament; the historical habits of legitimacy are extremely important right now.


The core problem has nothing to do with the Conservatives vs Labour; the core problem is that the voting base is transitioning from whatever it used to be to an argument between "as many as possible should survive the future in such dignity and comfort as might be obtained" versus "I keep the loot forever, however I got it, pay no attention to the dying". Nobody is pretending to argue for rectitude or probity on the loot side; nobody is pretending to argue for absolute rights to property on the survive side.

This happening when "loot" owns all the media (and the police, but not the courts); it's happening when the whole EU foofaraw is being used to disguise the nature and starkness of the choices. It's happening in a context of eliminationist -- that is, directedly genocidal -- belief, some of which has captured the Home Office. There is not agreement on what law is or who it binds.

In most ways, task zero from the survive perspective is to make sure the EU accounting directives bite the plutocracy, and that the City (Mann, Jersey, the UK generally) stop being about hiding the loot. Task 1 after that is to find a path to political legitimacy for the mechanisms of government. I don't see any way to get that without doing something really drastic to the existing press.

It really is all about successor states, and figuring out how to make the one you want to live in more likely.

18:

Jeremy Corbyn is a concensus politician, not a Absolute Leader type like Blair. What he personally believes is not Labour Party policy, that's clear despite the best efforts of the media to label him as totally in charge of policy while straight-out lying about his actual beliefs.

He's too old and too principled to really be in charge of the second-largest Parliamentary party but the smarm merchants like Starmer, Creasey and co. can't get leverage with the members who vote for the Party leader. If only those lower-class oiks would do as they're told by their betters and vote for the correct lizard then Labour could be led by a proper politician into the era of an Even Newer Labour and fuck the grass roots.

19:

The problem is that Corybn is a sticking point.

Labour's "support" for a second referendum is fake - because it requires a Labour government first.

By requiring a Labour government (to renegotiate with the EU and allow for Corbyn's glorious version of Brexit) Corbyn / Labour have effectively ruled out a second referendum because there is no path from where Parliament currently is to a Labour government.

20:

That's ... kind of inarguable? Also, deeply depressing when you're stuck in the middle of it.

(At least Scottish politics isn't as fucked-up as UK-level British politics; if there were to be an independence referendum and independence got >60% (preferably >66%) of the vote, I could almost hope that the legitimacy of the new Scottish state would be sufficient. (Hint: rump Tory support around 25% and stubbornly refusing to go higher; main current party-of-government are social democrats who talk a good talk about a green new deal and are internationalist in outlook.)

21:

Simple answer to a somewhat complicated situation.

You have a country roughly divided 50/50 on a single issue, which just happens to be the only issue that matters (witness the fact that Parliament effectively is no longer doing anything about actually running the UK as they are paralyzed over the issue of Brexit for years now).

In a normal situation your two major parties would reflect that vote split, but this isn't normal.

While Labour as a whole are (at least now) firmly in the Remain camp, the Labour leader and his enablers are firmly in the Brexit camp.

So your two main parties are both Brexit leading to the current chaos as remain voters split between numerous parties as they attempt to find a home.

22:

For the (at least short term) good of the people of the UK I hope the EU gives an extension.

The problem, which I suspect some in the EU are pondering, is will an extension actually accomplish anything other than prolonging the agony?

After years, and several extensions already, Parliament still hasn't come up with a solution (sorry, saying we don't want no-deal without actually coming up with an alternative isn't a solution).

It's wonderful that all those people marched yesterday, but until Corybn is replaced nothing is going to change other than perhaps Boris, continuing May's strategy, wears down Parliament to the point where they support his bad deal just to get it over.

And it appears that the only way to remove Corybn from the Labour leadership is to have the voters give Labour a lesson at the ballot box.

So from a reluctant position I think the best thing the EU can do at this point is say the only way to get an extension is to call an election or referendum, otherwise we will be having this same discussion again in 3 / 6 / 12 months (or Boris finally gets his bad deal through).

While a lack of extension will obviously provide a great deal of pain to the people of the UK, it will also reset the system and as indicated by the host start up the process of moving to the next phase - Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving the UK - which should at least allow the people in those places to arrive at a better place in a decade.

23:

Joe5pack @ 1
SIMPLE ... in one wprd - Corbyn
He's fundamentally incompetent & not to be trusted with a used bog-brush
Hos own party desperately want a new leader in the Comoons, but are trapped
AND
Not enough people have (yet) switched to the LibDems to make a significant difference

Nojay @ 18
oh dear ... one small correction ...
"He's too old & too STUPID to really be in charge..."
Oh & STFU about Stella, OK?
We had the US christain fuckwits on my local streets again this week, screaming about bany murder ... directed at STella.
NOT having with that, thank you.

And you are STILL not recognising the BREXIT _ NOTHING ELSE MATTERS ... OK?

mdive @ 21 - yes

IF we get through without a no-deal Brexit or better still "Remain" ... I think The Union will survive - but ONLY of we "Remain"

24:

mdive @ 22
Correct - until your last
NI & Scotland will be in the same boat as lille england, I'm afraid, broke with soaring unemployment & wrecked industry ....
I strongly support "the union", but I'm despairing, like Charlie at this appalling mess

25:

"And it appears that the only way to remove Corybn from the Labour leadership is to have the voters give Labour a lesson at the ballot box."

One hopes, but (a) that doesn't necessarily happen and (b) the Tories + UKIP/Brexit + No Deal could cause serious harm in the meantime.

26:

I hear you on the deeply depressing!

(The dead-eyed corpse-fucker is running about 2/5 chance to be PM. The oods of doing it with a majority are way down there, but still.)

Scotland hasn't got much capitalism; it's certainly not much involved in the machinery of loot-hiding (although Scottish property would appear to be a significant portfolio item for at least the Old Money).

It probably helps that if you've got a formally seperatist party, you get people thinking about successor states and what do we want things to be like in the future; I don't think actually separating would have done Quebec much good but thinking about it did a world of good.

But, well, there was this short clip of Rhys-Mogg looking like to puke in the Commons going round; the UK money had a hundred years of hiding behind the Empire and another hundred of being the, or a, lynch-pin of banking in the Anglosphere; if the EU directive comes in, there won't be anywhere to hide. A lot of extremely corrupt people are being faced with the prospect of (at least relative) poverty and the resulting destruction of self-image. I doubt they're going to behave in entirely rational ways.

(As long as they can't manage cohesive parliament should be fine.)

27:

You're already looking at unrecoverable harm from Brexit; the money wants Hard Brexit for no more complex reason than that maximizes the value of their shorts on the pound.

A full-on No Deal means active genocide; that's what the Brexit faction's Little England wing wants, and there will be no way not to give it to them as the economic damage bites down and starts to gnaw.

What is good about Corbyn -- principles -- is what is bad about Corbyn -- inflexible. A desire to do what the party wants when the party takes a long time to cohere and when Corbyn's critique of the EU isn't actually, you know, incorrect would be challenging to someone much younger and more broadly educated. (Specialists, and this absolutely includes political specialists, tend to be hopeless outside their speciality. Big swings in political norms starkly reduce the utility of the skillsets of people the swing leaves in the exercise of power. And then we get the manufactured perception issues, the difficulty of managing unceasing hostility, and the whole vast problem of demands to make policy from feels. You cannot make policy from feels because feels don't scale.)

28:

I am of the opinion that Scotland (where I live) has been horrendously badly served by the Union of Crowns for the past half-century and more. And Brexit will only make things worse -- much, much worse.

However.

One obvious lesson from the Brexit fiasco has been that a 52/48 margin is no mandate for constitutional change.

And another obvious lesson is that divorce negotiations hurt like hell, especially when one party won't negotiate in good faith. The UK government is clearly not negotiating with the EU in anything like good faith; and it's vanishingly unlikely that it'll do so with Scotland. (I expect a Scottish transitional government with a mandate to leave will have a better grasp of reality than the European Research Group -- but remember, I'm an optimist.)

The power imbalance during negotiations between Scotland and rUK will be roughly the same as between the UK and the EU, i.e. a 1:10 population ratio between powers with roughly equivalent per-capita GDPs and a long history of trade intertwinglement across borders.

So any independence negotiations will take multiple years, involve taking a big economic hit, and be incredibly disruptive. And that's assuming we don't go the whole Yugoslavian monty and end up with a shooting war (although that currently seems unlikely).

In any sane accounting, a much better option from Scotland's point of view would be for the UK to federalize -- almost complete independence for the regions, but a common defense and trade policy. Unfortunately Brexit puts a stake through the heart of the latter -- Scotland is simply less xenophobic and more internationalist than England in this century: we want control over immigration policy so we can invite workers to move here, which runs entirely counter the current down south.

So in the absence of federation as a solution, I'll be voting for Scottish separation in the expectation of it causing a long recession at least as bad as 2008's (and possibly as terrifyingly deep as 1979-80's) and years of chaos -- but in the interests of uncoupling us from a locomotive driven by lunatics intent on driving us over a fallen bridge.

29:

Scotland hasn't got much capitalism; it's certainly not much involved in the machinery of loot-hiding

You need to look into Scottish limited liability partnership law, then. There's dirt there.

That clip of Rees-Mogg in the Commons glaring at the back of BoJo's head warmed the cockles of my heart.

30:

Michael (13): Not saying I'm against Scottish or Catalan Independence (If you had asked me 5 years ago I'd be dubious about the first because the North Sea Oil is almost gone, don't know enough to know about the second), but: it was in part "the principle of contrariness" that got us where we are today; a lot of people voted Brexit just to be contrary or to send a message because they assumed it wouldn't win (same with Trump). Would you have voted Brexit to be contrary, knowing what you know today?

31:

The side letter doesn't actually ask the EU to ignore the extension letter. At worst it grumbles that he didn't want to send it, that extension would be "damaging" and that "well, it's up to you whether to accept it". All technically true and (according to David Allen Green) Padfield-compliant.

32:

Absolutely, though not to the delight of the separatists.

Separation in Quebec died for one simple reason - the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, followed by Canadian legislation (the Clarity Act).

When faced with the inability to distort the message, and the requirement for a super-majority, followed by bringing in the First Nations into any negotiations, the issue died.

33:

One question I have for those who actually know about Northern Ireland (which I confess I know very little of, though at least I know it exists which puts me one better than the Brexiters): It seems to me that even without reunification the current deal would be quite good for it as it gives a British base that is in the EU, presumably British companies would flock to set up their EU trading operations there. So if the DUP were sensible they would support it...

34:

Banking is Big Business in Scotland and has been for three hundred years. The capital of Scotland is physically dominated by two sorts of buildings, churches and banks. The churches were built as signifiers of social piety by rich people, the banks were how they made their money. Mammon worship is still alive and thriving in these parts, the churches are gradually being converted into Weatherspoons and other secular temples.

It's not a coincidence that there's a statue of Adam Smith set up on the High street in the centre of Edinburgh, not more than a stone's throw away from the headquarters of one of Scotland's largest banks.

35:

Wait, I implied that extension would be damaging. I think that through very well :-/

36:

I remember, when one of the First Nations leaders talked about separating from a newly-independent Quebec, hearing a Quebecois politician state that that was impossible because Quebec was an indivisible unit. (Or words to that effect. Might have been the same chap that stated that they only needed to win the independence vote once.)

37:

Jamesface @ 4: Factors that could change the situation:
- London Bridge falling down, as identified by Charlie already, so I won't rehash that.

Sorry. Already lost the thread. Could someone explain that one in terms even a stupid 'murcan can understand?

38:

"London Bridge has Fallen" -- civil service code for "Queen Elizabeth just died".

Utter chaos is only the beginning. Two weeks of official mourning? Short-notice public holidays? State funeral? Process of government disrupted because suddenly, hey, new King?

It's actually worse than POTUS choking to death on a pretzel, because you've had to switch POTUS for VPOTUS in mid-session a couple of times in living memory. When QEII dies, it'll be the end of the longest reigning British monarch ever, and she's been in office since 1947.

39:

1952, actually. I remember having to colour pieces of thick, rough, dark paper with chalk to make a union jack, and stand by crossroads waving them as a (single) car drove past. I was baffled for years why we did that and, in many ways, still am. It was in Chilanga (now Zambia) and the eminence was only the governor general of the Federation or somesuch.

40:

One thing that baffles me when looking at British politics from the outside is how anti-collaborative it is. The ruling party is used to forming a majority government and getting its way. This "my way or the highway" attitude is reflected by all the major parties and their MPs.

Thus, the rebelling Tories will only accept a Tory PM, the LibDems will only accept a LibDems PM and Labour will only accept a Labour PM. The notion of "coalition governments" or "collaborating and compromising to save UK from the largest crisis since WWII" seems lost on them. To me, it does seem reasonable that when forming a coalition government, the largest block of that coalition also gets to select the PM.

If I understand correctly, Corbyn has proposed himself as PM of a government with a very focused program:
1) Negotiate a deal with EU that Parliament can accept.
2) Referendum where the options are remain or the Brexit deal from (1).
3) General election when the referendum in (2) has been held.
Given that Corbyn does not have a Labour majority, it would be hard for him to run from his promises, and a good faith negotiation could include LibDem and Tory ministers.

But no, the Remain and Deal wing of Parliament continues on with their infantile "my way or the highway" attitude, while the situation grows more dire and the public loses faith in Parliament and just wants this debacle to be over.

Unless Parliament gets its shit together, an extension serves no purpose. A general election also does not look to give anything better, unless one is a proponent of a no deal Brexit. Without a Brexit deal, a new referendum will just antagonize the electorate, and is likely to cause many to vote Brexit out of annoyance.

41:

Elderly Cynic @ 16: There's also a serious amount of foreign influence and money aimed at destroying Corbyn and all he stands for, Brexit be buggered. But that is coming from the two countries that the media (including the BBC and ITV) never, never dare accuse of such behaviour.

Yeah, but you ain't the BBC or ITV, so spill it!

I'm sure the good ol' U.S.of A. must be one of 'em, but who is the other?

42:

You really don't know? Israel, of course. Probably not all that much money, but one hell of a lot of covert pressure.

43:

Graydon @ 17: How do you get capitalism to stop?

It has to stop; it's proposing to entirely devour its own entrails throughout Mother England.

I suggest something like a Jubilee every decade where you round up all the CEOs you can catch and hang 'em [1] pour encourager les autres. Show trials optional.

I don't suggest making it a fixed interval, just do it at least once within any 10 year period (2021 to 2030). Keeping the interval random will keep the rest of 'em on their toes.

[1] I would suggest shooting them, but we want to discourage gun violence.

44:

My grand unified theory for why everything is going to shit all at once is that social media as the world's most effective personalized propaganda platform. As a result, some critical threshold of voters are making good faith decisions based on wrong facts. Not unknowables, not subject to interpretation, but statements that intentionally do not describe reality. In the past these low information voters would get their information from sources that at least attempted to resemble the truth, or would not vote at all, but now these people are whipped into a rage over things that are not happening or are greatly exaggerated.

I don't know how to fix this, it is sort of like HIV destroying a body's defense mechanisms. I suppose if I had a pile of cash I would invest in media teams that do counter-programming, with ads, memes etc that are project messages actually based in reality. For comparison, the anti-smoking campaigns in the US have been pretty successful (at least until e-cigs came alo g).

45:

One obvious lesson from the Brexit fiasco has been that a 52/48 margin is no mandate for constitutional change.

While I agree with that statement, others might not. For instance, the SNP would have been overjoyed with a 52:48 win in 2014... And will no doubt insist on a simple majority in any second independence referendum (which will likely succeed after any hard Brexit)

46:

How does a post-Brexit Scotland independence movement get around the fact that Spain will never allow such a nation into the EU; will at the very least provide decades worth of roadblocks and obstruction?

47:

I'd subscribe to - a breakdown in the beige dictatorship. My wife's Korean. (Number 1 in xenophobia, number 2 in food waste and divorce) (Practically American...) And, well, her take on the populist slogans is that, where she's from (which is really Korea of a few decades back) - everyone agrees on eliminating the foreigners.

Now, in Western democracies, we've had a long alliance between globalist free traders and people actually focused on reducing poverty. And yes, poverty overall has gone down remarkably. But, at the cost of giving the wealthy access to a giant labor pool, which boosted capital relative to labor, which results in glaring inequality, which gives us... Well, it turns out populism is an easier way to break through than something more enlightened...

GL with Brexit. There doesn't seem to be a good outcome. Perhaps the best is a no deal, followed by an economic collapse, followed by a decade of economic losses, followed by dissolution of the union, followed by reentry under a provisional membership?

Now, some sort of fudged deal, followed by a gradual loss of economic influence, followed by the dissolution of the union might be better? This might happen when some real capitalists realize exactly what their losses will be and explain to some Tories exactly how they need to vote to keep breathing.*

*Something underappreciated, probably, is how rapidly people running booze in, eg, Prohibition transitioned into the respected upper class. And how the older generation still is perfectly capable of directed violence. I wouldn't be surprised to see some very pale MPs voting oddly and miraculously passing some sort of deal.

48:

Could use the example of Rome and have them beaten to death by the rest of their board of directors?

49:

Actually, Spain has said that it would support Scotland rejoining the EU. Whether it would ....

50:

Jezza's problem is that he's a deeply sincere man of strong principles who has spent a third of a century as a stiff-necked principled dissident within his own party

I suspect that’s more Corbyn’s opinion of himself.

As others have mentioned, I think that (like Michael Foot, William Hague, Michael Howard) he’s unelectable. Popular within his party faithful, but lacking support in the wider electorate.

From my perspective, he has shown repeated lack of judgement. I could understand him declaring that Northern Ireland was a mess of bigotry, that political problems demand political (not military) solutions, that negotiation is the only way to success. But I can’t forgive him hosting and supporting the leaders of a terrorist campaign while they were still bombing and shooting civilians, or (as the minutes of various 1980s meetings suggest) declaring support for the brave volunteers of PIRA fighting against the oppressive forces of the imperialist state. I can’t trust the judgement of a man who more recently appeared at a memorial for Black September members, some who carried out the attack on the Munich Olympics. It’s right up there with visiting the Yasukuni Shrine as an act of cluelessness.

Frankly, it comes across as “I’ve decided which side I’m on, so they’re all Freedom Fighters brave and true” and utterly lacking in the analytical skills (or even pragmatism) that national leadership demands. He’s either stunningly naive, or just not very bright. Neither is good.

51:

So in the Canadian election which is about to conclude (likely in a minority government), the Conservative Party has run ads "claiming" that if re-elected the current PM will legalize all hard drugs, and they have done this targeting the immigrant Chinese community.

Yet that is not either official policy or an election promise.

But given the legalization of marijuana is has enough of a smell of being true that it is likely very effective.

They essentially can get away with it because its on Facebook and there is no way to prevent it because Facebook doesn't care.

As long as Facebook exists in its current state a fair election is impossible. It simply lacks the checks and balances that traditional media offered, and thus offers no accountability.

52:

I expect a Scottish transitional government with a mandate to leave will have a better grasp of reality than the European Research Group -- but remember, I'm an optimist.

The key differences IMHO are that they aren’t motivated by personal greed, and they’re willing to learn.

The good part was ditching Alex Salmond; during the referendum, he mishandled much of the economics, presumably through “I was an economist, I don’t need to listen to anyone else”. For instance, being completely blindsided by the question “what currency are we going to use?”, or being caught lying about legal advice over EU membership. He was a bit too attached to the personal aggrandisement for my liking, and the current court case effectively removes him from the board.

Many of the arguments used in 2014 have been amply demonstrated over the last three years - it won’t be “the easiest deal in history”, the other side will be negotiating purely in its own best interests, and EU membership isn’t a given.

So I expect the next effort at an independence White Paper will be a lot more plausible / better worked up, than the last one; and if Brexit goes ahead, or Boris Johnson remains PM, it will likely succeed.

53:

As I understand it official Labour policy is a second referendum after renegotiating with the EU, offering a choice between Remain and their deal. Though I am not a fan of Corbyn, that doesn't seem to be the sticking point.

Which, as I recall, the PCC had to be dragged kicking and screaming into, having tried to distract the membership with a purity campaign against the deputy leader first.

54:

I still find it deeply ironic that many ex-pats aren’t allowed to vote on Brexit because we’ve been out of the country for 15 years. I missed being able to vote in the referendum by two months,

The other kicker related to it is that Cameron had in his manifesto that ex-pats would be given the vote, and that’s one of the things that if he’d done might have switched the vote.

In the meantime, like the other Brexiters such as Farage, Lawson etc..., we’re all getting EU passports or moving our money out of the country despite the financial cost as frankly, we don’t trust the Tories. .

55:

I think you need to read Adam Smith. Popular imagery of his ideas tend to leave out the details of the reasoning. He deserves that statue.

Of course, he was wrong in places, but so was Newton, and is economic theories are closer to being as based in facts as Darwin's. (I.e., he was reasoning based on observations, but couldn't do experiments, and didn't really know the basics of what he was theorizing about. Game Theory, e.g., hadn't been invented, and statistics was too new and difficult to use.) Given what he was working with his theories are remarkably correct...but they don't align with common understandings of what they are or mean. The best comparison for accuracy of public image would be with Social Darwinism vs. Evolution.

56:

I've been reading choice section of OGH's new post to Heroic Hubby ("heroic" because he bears my company, now for more than 30 years), and Heroic Hubby's comment after was, "They need to reinforce Hadrian's Wall."

But, he refuses to be drawn on which side is reinforcing against whom.

I'm just grateful that for whatever choice Charlie has in the matter, he chooses to remain sane enough to write messages like this top post: it helps, it really does.

57:

1. We all agree Corbyn's unelectable*

2. His official policy is a second referendum, a people's vote, after winning a general election

3. He's still not electable

4. I suggest that his electability is not contingent on supporting a second referendum, but instead on all the other baggage that he has

5. Since the issue is his electability, then I freely admit his lack of support for a second referendum before an election, and suggest this impacts his electability only marginally

* Though I would expect a stronger showing on the day of a General Election than the current polls suggest; as noted Labout Party members like him, and because of that tens of thousands of them will get out and canvas, talk to people face to face, explain the pitch. In the last election Canterbury, a constituency next door to mine, swung from Conservative to Labour for the first time ever. Observers** noted that there was a lot of activity at the university to get students to vote, but I also know the Labour Party activists at the university were able to get a lot of young people to go out and spread the message. Corbyn can get the boots on the ground to get the word out. That's still not enough.

** In a note pedantic even for this place, although Nick Cohen's article is on the Guardian website, the Sunday version of the Guardian is technically a different publication, The Observer for reasons that I leave to the readers to discover

58:

Graydon @ 26
Disagree re the history, but one can HOPE ... that the rest of the EU give us a long extension ...
And wait for the howls of protest immediately after 1st January.
I think you might find "the press" changing their attacks to being against the greedy thieves.
I live in hope.

Charlie @ 28
In any sane accounting, a much better option from Scotland's point of view would be for the UK to federalize
Something I've been saying for years .....

@ 28
CORRECTION
6th February 1952 - I remember the radio announcement that poor old George had snuffed it

Jeff R @ 45
Goood question

Martin @ 49
Actually, how about stunningly naive AND not very bright?
He's at least as bad a BOZO when it comes to ignoring evidence.
[ p.s. His stance on the Fascist invasion of the Falkands wasn't exactly intelligent either - yup this good socialist grovelled to the fascists ]

59:
Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic Preznit Shitrag (I love him really! No, honestly) tried to schedule the next session of the G7 at one of his own resort hotels, in order to line his own pocket. It's as if he can't spell "emoluments" and doesn't care that he's under investigation for impeachment, or something.

And his "acting" chief of staff went on a talking-head show this morning and admitted that the orange POS thinks his job is "hospitality". In which case, as was pointed out elseweb, he's moonlighting as preznit.
It gets worse every week. Where is that giant meteor we need?

60:

Whereas attending the funeral (and honouring the memory) of the person ultimately responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacres is fine.

What you say is sort-of true, but ignores the wider context. I side with OGH's opinion.

61:

While you are editing: I think it's meant to be "legs-in-the-air"?

Looking at the Northern Hemisphere mess from Australia (where we have our own Trump-lite) it's difficult to understand why the Labour Party doesn't grab the Remainder banner as its rallying cry.

what's the basis for Labour's stance?

62:

mdive @ 50 - A good argument for Facebook to be trustbusted and broken up into smaller parts with strict regulation of some kind. But what regulations might work across boundaries and not make things worse?

Much of the rise of monster social media and tech companies can be compared to an Outside Context Problem. We were bumbling along on our metaphorical island with what seemed like a full grasp of the world, and these massive social media steamships pulled up and changed the rules.

Some opportunistic locals are trying to bend the new rules to their own goals, but we really have no grasp of the actual effect - aside from total chaos as our existing systems and assumptions of how politics work are upended.

Comparable to the arrival of sea pirates and smallpox in the Americas in the late 15th century.

63:

what's the basis for Labour's stance?

The EU is absolutely committed to a form of virtue-signalling low-debt neoliberal trade order.

Labour, quite sensibly, hates that for the clear and simple reason that it guarantees that union action on the Anglo model will never, ever win. Union action on the mitteleuropean model requires the boss to believe the union is fundamentally legitimate and that what you're really doing when you run a company is facilitating collaboration between the labour supplier (that is, the union), the material suppliers, the design team, the financial team, and the marketing team to make the best possible use of available resources. The observation that the UK management culture and anglo management culture generally cannot possibly support this is entirely correct. So there's a fair big chunk of labour that's old guard socialist and thinks the ability to win a fight with management is the most important thing.

So far as I can tell, the younger side figures that trying to win a fight with management didn't work well at all; Thatcher made it very clear that the options actually on offer don't guarantee submission prevents starving and the money, or, rather, the Anglo money, is totally convinced that making stuff has terrible lower-class cooties anyway. The fix is clearly to transition manufacturing in the UK to branch plants of zaibatsu who know how to actually make stuff and collaborate with the union. Big generational and cultural divide among socialists.

Plus, Labour-the-party has this laudable bottom-up consensus policy building mechanism. What it hasn't got is a consensus; it's a pre-Anthropocene political party, and hasn't picked a side between "survive" and "keep the loot". It's likely going to fail entirely and spawn at least one successor because it's incredibly hard to get people to switch context in place.

64:

You need to look into Scottish limited liability partnership law, then. There's dirt there.

Oh, surely. There's a good bit of dirt anywhere there are landlords.

I think that's different from the kind of thing that involves helping foreign potentates hide the boodle. Certainly it's been instructive to watch the Vancouver and Toronto real estate markets versus Montreal's.

65:

"the deal with May's name crossed out and Johnson's written in in crayon"

It's people like 'im what cause unrest.

66:

Not particularly “fine” (the funeral of a corrupt bigot with a bad history; arguably a war criminal, if unconvicted); but then, he was the Prime Minister of an ally, so attendance was “diplomatically necessary”. Having said that, I’m no fan of Blair...

That was never the case for attending a memorial for Black September; as I said, it’s like turning up to the Yasukuni Shrine with a bunch of Japanese extreme right-wingers, and claiming that you were only there to remember the civilian victims of WW2. An act of unutterable stupidity for a politician - unless, of course, he knew what he was supporting but thought it was justified...

67:

At this point the Labour membership is all for remain - look at the news stories about the attempts made by the membership at the recent party conference.

But Corybn wants Brexit, so the Labour "Party" doesn't support remain even though it means that they won't win the next election.

68:

Anything can happen during an election, and as elections have seemingly become more volatile predicting outcomes in advance is dangerous.

Having said that, don't expect a repeat of the last election.

Labour managed to do well because May was incompetent at electioneering, and because Corbyn successfully told both remainers and leavers what they wanted to hear and thus both sides were willing to vote for him under the belief that he would deliver remaining / leaving as appropriate.

As the young / student population is heavily remain, this is what gave Labour their surge in the polls as those young people who don't want to leave the EU did the natural thing and supported the major party that "supported" remain. Thus the scenes at festivals like Glastonbury where Corbyn was treated like a messiah.

But as discussed under previous topics here, Labour's official position of not making a decision while fence sitting with a leader who wants Brexit has resulted in both sides abandoning Labour (and note that Corbyn no longer goes to those festivals, as he doesn't want to be booed).

So the young students will not be turning out to vote for Labour again, and while the UK elections are different than the EU and local elections, the word on the doorsteps is very much anger at Labour for refusing to choose a side (hence why the party members so desperately want Labour to change to a remain party, they have gotten the feedback from the doorsteps loud and clear).

69:

Re: young students & Brexit

Below is the breakdown by age group. Do not understand why the seniors want to leave the EU. (Xenophobia?)

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2016/06/how-did-different-demographic-groups-vote-eu-referendum

Serious question:

What does the UK do better than the EU?

70:

Spain will never allow such a nation into the EU

Spain hasn't said that. In fact, the Spanish government has explicitly denied that. Their objection is to admission of a region after non-legal secession from an EU member state. If the UK is out of the EU first, it's a non-issue, and if Scotland leaves the UK (even a UK remaining in the EU) legally, it's also a non-issue.

The whole business was whipped up by the "better together" campaign as a stick to beat the independence campaign with.

71:

We all agree Corbyn's unelectable

Nuanced dissent: I don't think Corbyn is electable, but Boris, especially going by his disastrous track record so far, is perfectly capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and handing the election to Jezza (if the latter has the wits to know what to do with it).

72:

“Overweening ambition dedicated to one goal – self-advancement", in Dixon's phrase certainly fits Boris, but I'm not sure much else does. He's no stiff necked, inflexible, spit and polish martinet. Enthusiastically unprincipled flexibility has got him where he is today. My impression is that he's a comedian using his schtick to play a demogogue on TV. Rather than fight to the last man, he surrenders at the first sign of opposition, in the courts, or on a border in the Irish sea, on the sole condition that he be allowed to declare a great victory to the rubes. I doubt he's so delusional that he actually believes himself to be a capital-G Great Man, bending history to his will. He must know that he's the opportunist who grabbed the flotsam of Brexit to surf the wave of history rather than shape it, and is now trying not to drown while mugging for the cameras.

A better parallel might be the adventurists who lobbed in to command of so many disastrous 19th century exploration expeditions by virtue of being reckless and ambitious whilst posh. If the map just says 'Here be dragons', and they went to Eton, who's going to call them out on their bullshit? https://www.nytimes.com/2000/05/21/books/another-fine-mess.html (One free article then paywall).

Trump, OTOH, is utterly delusional, desperately, needily driven to affirm his Great Man status, and possesses a malign, Asimovian Mule's talent for disrupting the norms and trends which might otherwise constitute the stochastic process of history. He's a much better fit for Cohen's catastrophic moron theory. Again, though, there's nothing spit-and-polish about Cadet Bonespurs.

73:

I still occasionally wonder if Russia's going to claim victory in the Great Game after the US and the UK finish this collective mess our Blond Ambitions have gotten into.

So far as the US goes, anybody who could have held Agent Orange's mouth shut has left the building, so we're apparently left with Unfiltered Orange Kool-aid (tm) which we're supposed to drink or something.

Not that I have any idea what will happen in the next month, except that (as with the crises of a century ago), it will largely be forgotten in a century, one way or another.

74:

Do not understand why the seniors want to leave the EU. (Xenophobia?)

They've got ring-fenced state pensions and the NHS so they're buffered from the worst consequences of austerity. Those of them who're old enough to remember the war are mostly too old to vote (they're in nursing homes now: a few spry survivors remain, but they're all pushing 90+) and the ones in their 60s to 80s grew up on stories of wartime glory and standing alone against Germany: a romantic yarn that doesn't actually hold water, let alone bear any resemblance to the modern world. The ones who get exposed to the immigrants who keep the NHS and nursing homes running are mostly too ill to vote, so the ones doing the voting are the xenophobic but not-too-infirm who don't like it when the shopkeeper speaks foreign in front of them.

The UK, at least until fairly recently, was a world-beater at one thing: end of life/hospice level terminal care — not the world #1, but right up there in the top 3. Go figure.

75:

None of the uncertainties of Brexit have been resolved by yesterday's vote in Westminster.

The proximate uncertainty - will Parliament reject the latest bad deal and precipitate Hard Brexit? - has been kicked down the street as far as possible: and that's not very far, because the motion that passed mandated detailed scrutiny of the current deal, followed by another vote.

The immediate uncertainty is whether we'll be allowed the time to do that: will the EU27 grant an extension?

So a crash-out no-deal Brexit on October is still very much on the cards.

There are several points for the EU27 to consider: do they actually want to waste their time attempting to negotiate with Johnson, who does not negotiate in good faith and seems unable to deliver even if he did? At what point is the cost of all this uncertainty become so high that pulling the plug is a better option? Is there a ticking time bomb, an appalling act of malice against by the knuckle-draggers at the Home Office against EU citizens resident in Brexitstan, that will turn EU opinion decisively against all trade with the UK?

And if they do agree to an extension, crashing-out at the end of it is still a possibility.

A leading probability, given Boris Johnson's inability to deliver anything else; and his likely victory in the coming election will deliver a hard, HARD right government of deregulators, asset-strippers, money-launderers, arms dealers, rack-renters and polluters that will be repugnant to all of the EU.

Except, of course, a couple of hard-right nationalist regimes in Eastern Europe... Whose populations have observed the hostility and violence against gastarbeiters prevalent in Brexitstan today.

So: our position continues to weaken and Hard Brexit hasn't gone away.

Tomorrow morning I will see, first hand, how the markets are reacting.

76:

In the time since this all started the death rate in England and Wales has been a bit over half a million a year, and nearer 600k a year have turned 18 and got the vote. Interesting to think what those changes would do to the figures.

77:

A point about the markets: it costs money to maintain shorts and derivatives positions, and the possibility of an extension could be quite expensive to the members of the ERG who are reputed to be betting against Sterling and the wider British economy.

Short positions, in particular, can cost a lot of money if the market moves against you.

78:

I'm not convinced by the "students won't vote Labour this time" argument. They really don't have anywhere else to go, and the current climate is making 'not voting' quite toxic (which I think is a good thing!)

The other thing that needs to be remembered is that, whatever the Brexit position, a general election is about a lot more than that. And the Tories have a significant problem here, which is that feet on the ground really, really matter.
In 2015, they tried to bend electoral rules and essentially hit about 20 LibDem marginal seats with a concerted paid-for activists effort - they bussed in people they were paying (out of national funds) to surgically strike those seats. It worked (catastrophically well, as it turned out but that's a different story) but they got into a lot of trouble with the electoral commission, which meant that they had to stay notionally clear of that in 2017. Meanwhile, Momentum in Labour were building a different model. It had some effect in 2015, but in 2017 it started to work very, very well - local volunteers were being moved around to where canvassing and support was needed, so that there were quite a lot of unexpected results.
Move on a couple more years, and the Tories have a shrinking membership who are less inclined to do the legwork, and Labour still have a mass membership and probably more data.

So whilst the headline poll figures report Labour doing badly, I am not at all convinced that, come an actual election campaign, individual constituencies won't have some very targeted action.

I mean, I still can't see an outright Labour majority from anywhere now that Scotland is lost to them (and whilst the "Labour/SNP coalition of chaos" argument might still sway some folk, it's lost a lot of power.) But I also find it quite hard to believe that the 30 or so seats that the Tories would need to win an absolute majority (especially now they have knifed the DUP so publicly) are available either. And much as the LibDems are clearly on the right now, the 2010 coalition left a lot of scars.

79:

Uh? Nyarlathotep? Where are you?

Time to read a Charlie Stross novel and escape into a better world, I suppose.

80:

US/UK dual here. My UK citizenship is due to my USAF dad being stationed in England when I was born; no strong ties there. I do have ties to Ireland but unfortunately one generation past being able to get an Irish passport. Anyway I have loved being an EU citizen and was upset that I wasn’t able to vote in the referendum. I’m trying to get up to speed on UK politics and one thing has really puzzled me: why do I not constantly hear Remain folks say something to the effect of “ Hey leavers we hear that you’re upset with austerity etc., give us a chance to fix it. We don’t need to leave to fix it, give us a chance and we’ll make righting these wrongs a priority.” (Note that I don’t feel that they should reach out to xenophobes or racists.) I read the Guardian, but maybe I missed something!

Inquiring minds want to know.

Also I am so sick of this freaking Brexitrumpocalypse.

Taking the redeye from Barrow back to California tonight so probably can’t check replies until tomorrow but would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.

81:

Labour would love the election to be about anything but Brexit given their fence sitting, but the reality is that pretty much any other issue is currently in a distant second place to Brexit.

Regarding the students, if you are remain (and most of them seem to be) then you only have 2 choices if you live in England and Wales - the Liberal Democrats or don't vote at all.

A vote for Boris is a vote for Brexit.

A vote for Corybn is a vote for (a Labour) Brexit *

That is why the students are unlikely to show up and vote for Labour.

* - yes, there is a sort of commitment to a second referendum. But in a referendum between a Labour Brexit and remain, does anyone really want to predict the outcome?

82:

Do not understand why the seniors want to leave the EU. (Xenophobia?)

Possibly. Certainly fits a number of Brits in their 80s that I've met.

I remember hearing one dear old lady get very upset that she had to line up behind foreigners to get back into Britain. Given she'd have been in the line for passport holders they would have been British subjects; I suspect they looked a bit too dark for her to consider them "British" (sadly), but decided not to pursue the matter.

However, generalizing from the half-dozen Brits that I know to all elderly British voters is something I won't do.

83:

Anybody else notice that the whole world is coming unraveled with protest in the streets from Santiago, Chile to Hong Kong to Extinction Rebellion to Barcelona to Beirut to Kurdistan?

https://www.thenational.ae/world/the-americas/protests-around-the-world-violent-clashes-hit-chile-hong-kong-lebanon-and-barcelona-1.925415

Something is going on here.


84:

Possibly. Certainly fits a number of Brits in their 80s that I've met.

Last time I was in Britain, some years ago, I stayed as a house guest of an almost eighty-year old person (long story but involved relatives and deceased friends). During our stay they made it clear that immigrants were a big problem (this was on the coast of Wales in a town which the austerity seemed to have hit badly, and which got much money from tourism). I didn't know them that well, but I was kind of amazed when they told that they were an immigrant from the Netherlands and lived on basically British money from the goverment at the moment.

I didn't question this further, because I didn't want to upset my host and I didn't think I'd gain anything by angering them.

We were there for four days. The only newspaper that they subscribed to was Daily Mail. On the third day I had to go to the town to buy Guardian to make sure I wasn't going mad. After our host saw that paper, they said in a condescending tone "do you know that this is a very... left newspaper?" and when I said that yes, I do, left it at that.

85:

What you have here is a lot of angry people who have no hope latching onto whatever cause they feel they can make a difference to (in this case, Brexit). It doesn't matter to them what the consequences are - they made a difference.

What we need is a project people can be inspired to participate in (rather than forced to do so). We've run out of circuses such as the millennium celebrations and the Olympics. We need to equivalent of landing man on the moon of the sixties for the British in the 2020s... any ideas?

86:

My parents (both 76) are both Remainers and Unionists. They found their siblings’ attitudes to the Scottish independence referendum, bafflingly inconsistent (Remainers, but Nationalist Glaswegians) and driven by a mildly parochial worldview... but they’ve always been atypically liberal. Dad left school at 16 without qualifications, joined the Army, autodidact, just back from diving in he Maldives; Mum a teacher, just about to head off on her next textile-art mission; they’ve travelled the world together.

My parents-in-law (late 80s) are weak Remainers and Daily Mail / Telegraph readers. It’s taken twenty years, but either they now appear to take the Mail with a big pinch of salt... or they’ve got better at humouring me. Perhaps I’m inoculating them against the stream of “brown people take over UK, enforce Sharia” fear+hate headlines... ;) father in law finally acknowledges that I’m not a hopeless leftie Blair-loving Corbynite for thinking that the Mail is a fascist rag; I don’t suggest he should start cutting eyeholes in his pillowcases ;)

87:

Rocketpjs @ 51
"Social Media disruption"
Which passes me by as I refuse to go near Arsebook & only use Twatter from this computer, about 5 or 6 time a year.
Nonrthelss a contract on Zuckerberg might be a good idea?
He, personally seems like a really unpleasant right-wing complete shit, up there with Kalanick, who might do well as lamp-post decoration?

SFR @ 68
I personally DO NOT BELIEVE this shit about the oldies wanting Brexit - I'm 73 & the only people I know who favour it are all younger than me.
Between 45 & 70 in fact. Mostly those who saw the late 60's - when older children or those who still "admire Thatcher" (shudder) in fact ... carefully ignoring that one good thing she did was be consistently pro-EU.
The really old remember "the War" & understand, quite well, why the EU is a good idea.

Charlie @ 70
Yes.
What a pair of wankers - & traitors, too, both of them.
...
& @ 73
NO For reasons, see above.
I really think your - AND EVERYONE ELSE's evaluation of the age/demographic for "Leavers" is flat wrong.
Mind you, I'm relying on personal anecdata ....

mdive @ 80
UINLESS your local Labour candidate/MP is firmly "REMAIN" as mine is ... except, of coure the mometum-wankers & idiots [ like nojay here ] are more concerned with ideological purity, than , you know SAVING THE COUNTRY?
Arrgh!

JUST NOTICED my typo referring to Zuckerberg ... "Norntheless" - I think I'll leave it, given what the Norns do for a living!

88:

On the silver lining side, there is a certain amount of joy in watching the DUP get fucked over.

Also, despite a last minute stunt in trying to recall Stormont, it looks like the legislation from Westminster enforcing equal marriage rights and decriminalizing abortion in NI is going to come in to force today/tomorrow.

#FuckTheDUP

In answer to "whomever" @33, speculating "if the DUP were sensible", in short: They aren't. There is a longer answer explaining how they are effectively a single-issue party of protest, dressed in serious clothes, but I haven't the time to delve into that right now.

89:

I've an aunt in England (~80), a staunch leaver and Labour supporter. From what I've heard she's been told the EU is a terrible thing (by media & her surviving friends) for so long that it's no longer in question to her. My cousins over there might have a different view but I'm not in touch with them except via her.

90:

Re: 'ring-fenced state pensions and the NHS'

Thanks for the explanation!

At odds with my impression from the below FT article that old-age related health budgets had been targeted.

'England’s National Health Service will be unable to deliver the ambitious vision set out in its long-term plan if the government does not address funding cuts in areas such as illness prevention and care for the elderly and disabled, frontline managers have warned.'


https://www.ft.com/content/226a7c76-9104-11e9-b7ea-60e35ef678d2

91:

Lots of misinformation here about Labour and it's Brexit policy. The policy does change over time, but not as much as is made out.

Current policy is that Labour will vote for a second ref amendment the next time the government brings a deal to parliament. They are in negotiations with all opposition parties, including the DUP, to try and make that happen.

This is not terribly surprising given that Jeremy Corbyn and the vast majority of the PLP voted in favour of a second referendum on any deal all the way back in the April indicative votes and that it has been Labour policy to support a second ref on any Tory deal for literally years and on any deal at all for months.

Labour has previously said they would prefer a GE first, but that can't really happen before the deal vote.

So could we have had a GE instead? We would have needed an extension to have time for it. There have been two ways available to parliament to get one: waiting for Boris to be forced to by the Benn act; or setting up a government of national unity (GNU). A GNU sounds attractive, but it's very hard to imagine any leader of it who could command both Labour back-benchers and the (notoriously unrebellious) Tory rebels.

Maybe if the LibDems had publicly said that they would back Corbyn that would have put enough pressure on the "rebel" Tories, but I doubt it. Maybe if Corbyn had backed a centrist it would have gone through, but again, I think that would have been a very hard sell to Labour back benchers and I doubt all of the Tory rebels would have voted for it anyway.

92:

What has been targetted, primarily, is the care budget - which has always sat uneasily between the NHS and local authorities. The NHS in the limited sense, hasn't had its money reduced, but has been hammered with government-imposed bureaucracy (including PPPs) and is facing much more demand, some of which is care-related because the local authorities HAVE been hammered, which it has not been funded to deal with.

93:

As I have been saying (and been flamed) for ages, we have had 40 years of the deliberate dumbing-down of the British electorate and malicious and false anti-EU propaganda, from both our foreign and non-dom. controlled media and leading politicians.

94:

I am no authority on British politics, being a Dirty Foreigner, but "A Different Bias" made a reasonable explanation for the bizarre mess. It is, the mutants who want to crash out without a deal want this because everything is about leaving EU before the new rules against hiding money in tax havens come in force 1 january 2020.
(If they fail they will not have the same strong motivation to bugger everything up after 1 January. They will still try to sabotage everything, but without the fervor of the past year)

A different bias: "Why Are Brexiteers So Desperate for a 2019 Brexit?" https://bit.ly/2LoI8ga

95:

Yes, blaming Corbyn for the tribalism of Labour is malicious bollocks.

96:
My impression is that he's a comedian using his schtick to play a demogogue on TV
I suspect you're half right; per Martin Rowson's "PG Wodehouse bollocks" story, among others, he is absolutely doing it on purpose (I can't remember who pointed out even the "Boris" thing is pure affectation: his friends call him Alex) but this is someone with a track record of ignoring detail, not doing the work, and bluffing his way through on the day that goes back to secondary school. Demagoguery is exactly the low detail, high bollocks mode that would allow someone like that to function in politics.
97:
A GNU sounds attractive, but it's very hard to imagine any leader of it who could command both Labour back-benchers and the (notoriously unrebellious) Tory rebels.
*cough* :-P
98:

Have been wondering about this for a while: impact of polls on voting.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/2489665?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

'Abstract

Can political polls alter the choices voters make on election day? Prior research on cognitive consistency suggests they can This article develops a set of hypotheses based on cognitive dissonance theory concerning the effects of exposure to the results of political polls on voters' expectations about the outcome of the election, attitudes toward the candidates, voting intentions, and choice These hypotheses were tested during experiments conducted during the 1992 U S presidential election and the 1993 New York City mayoral election. The results demonstrate that political polls do alter voting behavior Voters use political polls as a way to maintain or move to a state of cognitive consistency. Depending on which candidate voters expect to win as well as the candidate for whom they intend to vote, polls can have no effect, lead voters to change their expectations about who will win, or lead voters to actually change their preferences and their voting behavior. The results have important implications for public policy and for survey methodology.'

Next, there's a Canadian developed AI (Polly) designed to predict election outcomes. We'll see how 'her' predictions pan out vs. today's election results.

https://thewalrus.ca/political-polls-are-flawed-can-ai-fix-them/

Website showing 'Polly's' election projections for some key areas/ridings:

https://hkstrategies.ca/hk-asi/

Interesting - wonder whether the developers have ever tested Polly in the UK or USA.

99:

I'm kind of hoping the next post in this series will discuss Case Nightmare Orange.

100:

Robert Prior @ 82:

Do not understand why the seniors want to leave the EU. (Xenophobia?)

Possibly. Certainly fits a number of Brits in their 80s that I've met.

I remember hearing one dear old lady get very upset that she had to line up behind foreigners to get back into Britain. Given she'd have been in the line for passport holders they would have been British subjects; I suspect they looked a bit too dark for her to consider them "British" (sadly), but decided not to pursue the matter.

The thing I think you need to look at is what's going on behind the racism. Who benefits?

I know that here in the U.S. there is an active campaign to stoke White middle class racism against Blacks & Hispanics, and I have to ask WHY?. Who benefits?

101:

rosieoliver @ 85: What you have here is a lot of angry people who have no hope latching onto whatever cause they feel they can make a difference to (in this case, Brexit). It doesn't matter to them what the consequences are - they made a difference.

That may be partially true, but I think they DO care about the consequences

They've fallen for BIG LIES that BREXIT (or a border wall or expelling all immigrants or ...) will make their lives better.

102:

The obvious answer is that racists who are in public competition with non-racists win.

The right wins if it can make being racist an attractive property in a politician because they can campaign on that while their opponents can't without compromising their existing support and their principles.

Fear is powerful and racism-related fear can become a key topic. Which is why I think the latter years of New Labour disgraced themselves with anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Similarly for rhetoric against benefits claimants and so on. Hate and fear are powerful emotions that you can exploit more if you are less scrupulous, and the right is almost always less scrupulous than the left.

103:

I know that here in the U.S. there is an active campaign to stoke White middle class racism against Blacks & Hispanics, and I have to ask WHY?. Who benefits?

Racism amounts to a caste system; and one particularly entrenched in the USA. "Black" and "white" are movable, changeable categories (Irish and Italian Americans were "black" in the 19th and early 20th century; ditto Jews: Non-Mexican Hispanics were consistently redefined as "black" from the 1970s: and so on.)

The thing about caste systems is that they define relative social status, and hive apes/tribe monkeys are all about raising their relative status, as it is a gatekeeper for food and reproductive opportunities. A racist outlook enables low status "white" individuals to feel superior to "blacks" regardless of any actual success/merit on either part: it's an attractive excuse if you can't get ahead.

If you want to pick someone's pocket, a good first step is to distract them by directing their attention elsewhere. Racism is such a distraction: economic hardship abounds, but racism helps the kleptocrats responsible to direct blame towards a scapegoat, rather than their own bulging pockets.

For bonus lulz, accuse the scapegoat of being rich and conspiratorial (hint: projection). It worked for Tsarist Russia and Nazi Germany, where Jews were carefully targeted for pogroms carried out by angry poor non-Jews at the direction of corrupt, wealthy non-Jews. Why wouldn't it work now?

104:

A GNU sounds attractive

And rather musical:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqgPyqyh4X4

105:

Re: '... and the right is almost always less scrupulous than the left.'

The right has also been increasingly distancing itself from facts/data/reality esp. in the areas of immigration and taxation. Real data shows that immigration has substantial net benefits to (human) Brits. Similarly, real data shows that there is a way toward better, more effective, less punitive - to humans -- taxation, i.e., get corps to actually pay their taxes.

BTW, new (more humane) tax regs come into effect in the EU in January 2020. But even if the UK was officially (on-paper) out of the EU by Oct 31, it's unlikely that all UK orgs and residents would also immediately cease all financial transactions with the EU, e.g., buying/selling meds, tourism, etc. by Dec 31/19. Further, since the rest of the EU countries would continue to track and report all trade transactions with all their buyers at a certain minimum level of detail (at a very microscopic level these days), detailed hard financial data on all EU-UK trade transactions would exist*. I'm guessing that it's probably not a very large leap between 'who's sending how much money where' to 'what taxes should have been paid if you can throw this type of money around'?

* I'm guessing that such data would probably be available (for a small fee) to UK institutions, econ grad students, and of course tax lawyers looking for new clients.

106:

I don't even know that there is a lot of racism in that generation. Sample size half-a-dozen isn't large enough to draw conclusions.

My grandfather didn't much seem to care about race or gender (from what I remember). Working class Brit, fought in WWI, the Troubles, and Home Guard in WWII.

Given the large number of (unacknowledged*) Indians fighting for the Empire in WWI, I wonder if he fought with them and so unlearned the racism that seems to have been endemic back then. Can't ask him now, sadly.


*Unacknowledged in many history books, anyway. But given that he fought in Greek, Palestine, Mesopotamia and well as Ypres and the Somme, it's likely he met some Indian units.

107:

Something is, indeed, going on here. It's the run up to "the technological singularity". Robots are taking some people's jobs. Other jobs are being redesigned and deskilled or automated. Lots of people feel insecure. And finance is so complicated that nobody understands it.

FWIW, there's a recent mathematical proof that capitalism leads to an increasing level of economic stratification, with most of the money ending up at the top. They don't say whether this is good or bad, however. Just essentially inevitable. But if you understand the math, this may show you how to fix the problem. Or not. Some seemingly simple math problems haven't been solved for centuries.

That said, it still looks to me as if a human level (NOT equivalent) AI will be available sometime around 2035. I've no idea what it's goal structures will be like, and that's as important as anything else. Of course, a nuclear war could cause that to not happen, and the nuclear club keeps expanding. Currently there should be a hard watch on India and Pakistan, but the news, at least, seems to be largely ignoring them. And some countries are developing hypersonic missiles, so first strike paranoia can be expected to increase.

There's no guarantee at all that the singularity will be survivable, but given the common sense shown by the current crop of "leaders", it would seem to be the better choice, if we can live long enough to get there.

108:

"I'm kind of hoping the next post in this series will discuss Case Nightmare Orange."

Actually, things have been looking up. The current regime can still do a lot of damage, and even has a chance at re-election, but all the recent headlines have been moving in the right direction.

As for racism--most implicit racists (that is, people who are not consciously trying to be racist) are almost always driven by irrational fear. They see the world changing, they dont understand or trust it, and someone in a position of leadership and authority tells them it's all *their* fault. They are inclined to believe them.

109:

Thank you for the Wodehouse bollocks link.

Boris's chaotic dishevelment seems to be a genuine part of his personality, or pathology, and carefully calculated pose, or branding exercise. He's one of those charmed monsters who've figured out how to use their flaws as a weapon against everyone else. This story was telling:

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/06/my-boris-story/

I mostly stand by my assertion that Trump and Boris aren't good fits for Dixon's model of military incompetence. Neither of them would have failed upwards in the military. Neither impressed their teachers and tutors in institutional settings. Both of them succeeded best as performative insurgents on the fringes; Oxford debater, Brussells correspondent, Queens real estate spiv bringing some flash to Manhattan, reality TV star.

110:

Re: The right is less scrupulous than the left.

I think you've misidentified the problem. Rather: "Those wielding power are less scrupulous than those not wielding power."
This is partially for the perfectly sensible reason that they are less in danger if they are caught. There are other reasons, but that will suffice.

111:

I mean, performative insurgents on the fringes of institutions, exploiting the flaws and loopholes of the system- the tax break, the Apprentice edit suite, the media's appetite for the controversial soundbite, without the discipline or pro-social requirements of working within it.

Hence the chaotic flailing when they find themselves inside the system, bound by the rules instead of gaming them.

112:

I can assure you that there was and is, but most of it is NOT of the viciously harmful sort typical of the USA south, anti-Jewish pogroms etc. It was (and still is) more of the sort you will find described in Kipling (whether or not it was his personal view) - "because we are superior, it is our duty to protect and help (as well as rule) lesser races." Yes, offensive, but it means that people with that sort of racism are often a lot more liberal to outsiders than 'non-racists' are. On the other hand, some are extremely nasty bigots.

My father was an officer in a Sikh regiment in WWII, and was demoted because he told a general that his men's sleep was more important than polishing their brass for the general's inspection.

113:

I didn't think that it was possible, but Bozo has gone down in my estimation.

114:
They've got ring-fenced state pensions and the NHS so they're buffered from the worst consequences of austerity

They're not buffered from all of it tho… and the care/community cuts have hit many retired state pension folk I know very, very hard.

Old folk are also often living in the places hardest hit by austerity. They're out here with me in the rural South West, etc. — where food bank usage is 3x the food bank usage per-capita as London… and so on.

The leave voting pensioner is seems to be mostly portrayed as well off, living on their boomer equity, and/or waiting to retire to Spain. I’m close to 50 now — so I know a bunch of retiree age folk. The ones who fit that stereotype I know voted remain. Coz they're not idiots. The leave voting pensioners I know down here in Sunny Dorset are the ones counting the pennies on their state pensions. The one whose has had the hole in the wall of their council flat for the last 18 months. The ones who see their kids and grandkids having a shitty time. The ones having to go begging to their kids to help cover the care costs.

Yeah — they're making a really freaking dumb decision driven by lies and, sometimes, racism. But I don't think it's coz they're not hurting. Quite the opposite.

(also IIRC the correlation to voting was stronger on region & education level than it was to age — and yet the nice simple divisive young/old story is the one that gets told most often… odd that :-)

115:

I disagree.

Thinking about it, here's what I think is happening:
first, it's about time for another youth revolution (think 1968).

Against this, is the massive control over the fast majority of the media by the ultra-rich, who bombard the public 24x7x365.25 with propaganda... and we know that a lie, repeated often enough, tends to be accepted. Note that the media barons all travel in the same rarified circles (the 400, for example), and though they may dislike each other, there are things they will cooperate on... and not paying taxes is one huge one. (If it wasn't, austerity would not be the thing it's been for decades.)

So, it's a lot like the '30s, with leftists against tools of the rich... and right now, with the 'Net, and demographics seriously starting to look bad to the wealthy, they're making their big putsch, er, push.

116:

I've been ordering a meteor to hit Mar-a-lago for years, and noooo, they don't. Right now, I'd be ecstatic if Gojiro swam up the Potomac.

117:

Thank you, tremendously, for that link. That makes way more sense than just them wanting to pick the bones.

118:

Re: The right is less scrupulous than the left.

I think you've misidentified the problem. Rather: "Those wielding power are less scrupulous than those not wielding power."

I'd argue against that. Canada's left have run cleaner campaigns in the last two elections than the right; indeed, if we end up with a 'Conservative'* government tonight you could make a good case that the Liberals (and NDP) would have won if they'd fought dirtier.


*Scare-quoted because I'm not certain exactly what they are conserving…

119:

Re: "Those wielding power are less scrupulous than those not wielding power."

Depends on how you define 'scrupulous'*. Some of the head of gov't right-wingers/wanna-be tyrants seem pretty 'scrupulous' in putting forward exactly the right lie to wind up whatever audience they're addressing at the moment.

*'diligent, thorough, and extremely attentive to details.'

OTOH, would agree that those wielding power are more susceptible to becoming dismissive of dissenting opinion. I wonder how much of DT's and BoJo's 'I'm special' is because too few people who were supposed to mind or educate them didn't call them out when they screwed up. (Sorta a cumulative winner effect)


120:

Some good news: Net-and-Yahoo couldn't form a government, so it's up to Gantz. And the Yahoo can look forward to indictments.

121:

Speaking of Trump ignoring the "emoluments" clause thanks in part to the GOP letting him get away with it (and much, much more) for the first two years of his shit-show administration … I’m sure you’ve been following the US Air Force stopovers at Prestwick Airport outside Ayr, Scotland and US Air Force crews having long layovers at Trump Turnberry Resort 40 minutes away. It appears that the US Defense Department spent $11 million for jet fuel at Prestwick Airport, fueling at a US military base would have been cheaper:
https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000016d-08f8-d6ab-a97f-4afb19f90000

Trump Turnberry Resort lost $4.5 million in 2017, then miraculously went up $3 million in 2018.

122:

In completely unrelated news, a reminder that 100m of sea level rise is perfectly survivable...

https://youtu.be/bBxXJ7LFBvM?t=576

It would be sad if it turned out that the "primitive savages" dealt with that problem much better than us "much smarter, more advanced" people can.

124:

Same problem in Australia: blah blah most voters support the party they voted for at the last election, with those voting for the winning party supporting it more strongly. That's explicit support for "coal is good for humanity, human rights are terrible and god is on my side" among other weird things. The subtle difference is that in Australia we're very calmly standing around the dumpster fire discussing how well managed it is.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/16/more-than-60-of-voters-approve-of-major-parties-performance-essential-poll

As someone said to me recently "oh, but for optional long distance travel flying is more efficient than driving" to which I could only respond "efficiency is not actually relevant when you claim to agree that you shouldn't be doing it at all".

125:

I can’t forgive him hosting and supporting the leaders of a terrorist campaign while they were still

But you apparently can forgive every other British Prime Minister for not just doing that but actively supporting terrorists and not coincidentally working hard to make sue they use British weaponry in their campaigns?

Saying Corbyn is special because he chooses the wrong terrorists is a political decision with no more impact than Greg's "I don't like Corbyn" ranting.

126:

Who said I forgave the others? Blair was delusional and faked up evidence to join a war... Cameron and May did little to slow down Yemen.

The difference, while slight to civilians in Belgrade or Baghdad, is that the IRA actively sought civilian deaths in their wars, as their primary objective. Their bombs were often never intended for military targets. The kneecaps that they took power drills to, the hands smashed by breezeblocks, the suspected informers that they ordered killed, the drugs they supplied? That’s not “the wrong terrorists”, they’re terrorists by any objective measure.

Perhaps it’s just personal, having school friends made orphan, or being regarded as a “legitimate target” by the people Corbyn adored. He wasn’t trying to backchannel a peace agreement, he wasn’t trying to understand their motives, he wasn’t trying to deter them from the path of violence. He knew what they were doing, he was basking in the reflected glory of the struggle against imperialism, and he supported them.

127:

Re various:

"Those wielding power are less scrupulous than those not wielding power."

Being able to minimize the risk of being caught is part of what you can do if you have power. Being able to minimize the punishment if you are caught is part of what you can do if you have power.


Or to put is more cynically, those not wielding power aren't more scrupulous. They just don't have as many opportunities to be safely unscrupulous.

128:

Who said I forgave the others?

It's pretty pointless having a discriminator that doesn't discriminate. Saying "Corbyn is bad because he's just like all the others in this important regard"... what is the point of that statement?

Oh, oops, you didn't say that. You said "Corbyn is bad" and then stopped. Apparently the implication that he's the same was there, but the phrasing suggests that he's different. If I say "landrover drivers are planet-raping morons" hardly anyone who doesn't know me is going to conclude from that that it's the qualifier at the start that's redundant, rather than being the distinguishing characteristic that makes the rest of the statement meaningful.

129:

I can totally understand your viewpoint, but I think as you say you're also too close to events to have a truly neutral view. It originally came across as "he supports terrorists" to which we all say "yes, but so do the Conservatives. Just that his are fighting us so they are the wrong ones?".

After all, in order to make peace you need to talk to both sides, and you have to have people from your side willing to make the effort. And Governments due to their own policies are tainted pretty much by definition. Corbyn has pretty much always been opposed to the mainstream view, and is seen as a friendly figure in political circles. He is also viewed as a naive pacifist, which also helps. I have no issue with him being friendly with the political wing of an independence movement. There is no evidence he ever endorsed the violence in any way shape or form, even if he almost certainly did talk to active terrorists, knowingly or no.

Hypothetical - would the peace settlement have happened under a conservative government?

130:

The year is 2192. The British Prime Minister visits Brussels to ask for an extension of the Brexit deadline. No one remembers where this tradition originated, but every year it attracts many tourists from all over the world.

https://mobile.twitter.com/julianpopov/status/1185664196178042880

131:

whitroth @ 120
Ditto - apparenly Trudeau has held on - just, though the Blockheaded-Quebecqois have gained too ....

Moz @ 124
See Martin's first sentence in # 125 - mee too ( And I have good reason not to trust Corbyn any further than BOZO, incidentally )
And the rest, too ...

132:

You are ignoring the fact that deliberate negligence is tantamount to malice, in all respects other than it allows the perpetrator to use it as an excuse.

The frequency with which the Saudis bomb civilian targets such as school, hospitals and wedding parties is AT LEAST deliberate negligence, and we aren't JUST turning a blind eye - we are providing them with military support, at least with officers in their control centres and maintenance staff for their aircraft. The same applies to Israel's attacks on Gaza and Lebanon, though we 'merely' support them politically and by selling arms, and (to a lesser extent) to even the USA (in its attacks on independent journalists and so on).

No, you and people who take your line, are at best being hypocritical. It is extremely unpopular (indeed, now often illegal in the UK) to attempt to balance the record, but some of us attempt to do so.

133:

Potentially, yes. If I recall, Prior started the negotiation process. No, Blair does NOT deserve the credit - it was a result of many years' work by a lot of people, including Mowlam, who Blair sidelined in order to take credit for it. I can't even guess whether Thatcher would have allowed it, but almost certainly Heath would have done.

134:

deliberate negligence is tantamount to malice

The recent Iraq war explicitly started with a war crime - the official story from the US and it's vassals was that "shock and awe" was designed to kill so many civilians and destroy so much civilian infrastructure that Iraq would be unable to fight back. I'm a little fuzzy on the legal fine print that distinguishes acts of terrorism from mere war crimes, but I'm personally comfortable calling that terrorism. It meets the "mass killings as a political act" criteria, just not the "by a non-state actor" one, so in theory the leaders of the various countries and armed forces should be executed after fair trials rather than abducted and tortured to death. But if it's good enough for Bin Laden it's good enough for his murderer.

135:

I don't have the reference handy, but I believe that recent evidence has surfaced that secret negotiations with the IRA with the aim of a peaceful resolution began under the Conservative government prior to Blair and New Labour (or Tory-lite if you prefer). I can't recall if they started under Major's tenure or Thatcher (I think the latter).

Aside: One thing that tends to unite both ends of the political spectrum in NI is fury at Blair's contemptible treatment of Mo Mowlam. As one of the few SoS that actually cared about the future of NI, she has significant respect across the political spectrum here (and amongst the general public too).

136:

Yes, that's my recollection, too, as I indicated. Your last paragraph is interesting - that opinion is fairly rare this side of the Irish sea, but some of us hold it.

137:

The original name was going to be something like "fear and terror", but someone pointed out to Dubya that was, er, politically unclever. Anyway, I heard it used a couple of times before they changed it.

138:

apparenly Trudeau has held on - just, though the Blockheaded-Quebecqois have gained too

Minority government. Willing to bet it doesn't last, as the CPC seems to be following the Republican playbook so I expect automatic opposition to anything the Liberals do. (Happy to be wrong, but behaviour of the provincial CP followed that pattern.)

Saskatchewan voted solidly CPC. Alberta CPC except for one NDP riding (in Edmonton). Rural Ontario solidly CPC (except the North); urban (and Northern) Ontario went Liberal/NDP (so centre/left*).

Suburban GTA ridings were pretty close (my own riding went Liberal by 0.1% of the voters). Without the PPC the Conservatives would have picked up some seats; without the NDP the Liberals would have picked up more. Insert standard rant about FPP voting and the need for consensus and compromise here.

You'd get a much more nuanced and reasoned analysis from Graydon, if he feels up to posting one.


*Canadian political spectrum is roughly Green-NDP-Liberal-CPC-PPC, although really the Greens shouldn't be on the conventional spectrum. Not certain where BQ falls. Left off the original CPC (Communist Party of Canada) as they are too small to run candidates in most places.

139:

I forget how many comments we’re supposed to get up to before veering wildly off topic, but this is definitely tangentially relevant to the OP and arguably totally relevant.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/julian-assange-appears-confused-at-extradition-hearing-struggles-to-recall-his-name

I worry about Assange’s descent from his heyday to his current pitiable state, because there but for the grace of dog and all that. I have generally maintained I thought that answering his accusers in Sweden was in his own interests, but that all seems a bit irrelevant now. I definitely don’t think he should be extradited to the USA, given there is no excuse to see the charges as anything but political and the likely outcome as pretty tragic. That’s totally leaving aside that the rule of law in the USA is in about the same state as healthcare in the USA. That’s not the case in the UK, at least not as a general rule and not yet, but it seems likely that the blonde-orange relationship will be a major factor in the outcome. Australia is definitely not fulfilling its consular responsibilities, either.

For some reason I’m thinking of Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudon, though there are some even more depressing follow-on thoughts there.

140:

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE

Okay, I'm fed up now: no more chewing over who is/isn't a terrorist, please! (It's way off-topic.)

Also, no more Assange until after comment 300. (Ditto Reality Winner, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden. Maybe that particular nexus deserves a separate blog post ...)

141:

Meanwhile in the midst of the Blonde/Orange madness, Canada continues along its refreshingly sane and boring course.

142:

"I'm kind of hoping the next post in this series will discuss Case Nightmare Orange."

Actually, things have been looking up. The current regime can still do a lot of damage, and even has a chance at re-election, but all the recent headlines have been moving in the right direction.

I mostly agree, but there is an important nuance. Things are looking up politically mainly because they're heading south so rapidly governing-wise. Trump feels cornered, and this has elevated his already dangerous petulance and irrationality to a truly perilous level. Financial markets have not been performing well, the USA has no coherent foreign policy that anyone can identify, and foreign governments have been invited to FUBAR the next election.

Rs have no interest in going down with the ship if he sinks it, so some of them are beginning (tentatively) to question whether enabling Trump continues to be in their best interests. As you say, "The current regime can still do a lot of damage" -- do we really want to find out how much? "There's a lot of ruin in a nation", but finding out how much by testing to destruction is not an idea that most find attractive.

143:
... and the right is almost always less scrupulous than the left.

This is a temporary historical aberration, not a general rule. The Left has not recently been attracting the kind of will-to-power careerists who cause real political harm. Give the Left a shot at real power and that will be corrected.

I mean, I identify as "leftist" myself, but think it's important not to lose sight of how the world really works.

144:

I don't even know that there is a lot of racism in that generation.

Well, that depends. In my experience, an old navy man I used to know was fairly typical. For him, it was the case that "niggers begin at Calais", but on individual basis he got on extremely well with foreign friends and contacts from his time during the war. This tension between the abstract and the specific is not unusual, I think.

And I'll never forget being gobsmacked when somebody of that age, otherwise pretty open-minded and sensible, said to me (I quote verbatim): "But Mike, don't you understand? If this goes on, in fifty years time we'll be all coffee-coloured!". Apparently a terrible fate!

145:

XKCD points to another unforeseen consequence of Brexit.

146:

If this goes on, in fifty years time we'll be all coffee-coloured!".

So, less skin cancer? Sounds good! :-/

147:

EC @ 131
Agree ... indeed I strongly suspect the Saudis of a hands-off, plausibly deniable & false falg operation on that tanker ... it's just too, too pat for my liking

RP @ 137
BQ is surely well to the right? A Nationalist party thoroughly disliked by the Aboriginal Inhabitants - see the bust-up when they tried to secede & the natives said, "You do that & we will secede from you!" followed by much racist badmouthing from BQ - IIRC.

148:

Charlie Stross @ 103: For bonus lulz, accuse the scapegoat of being rich and conspiratorial (hint: projection). It worked for Tsarist Russia and Nazi Germany, where Jews were carefully targeted for pogroms carried out by angry poor non-Jews at the direction of corrupt, wealthy non-Jews. Why wouldn't it work now?

Well, "they" have to be careful. "They" can't go too far persecuting the Jews if they're going to keep the State of Israel sweet so it can rebuild the temple and bring on the nuclear Armageddon that presages the second coming.

Racism, classism, castism are all just ways the [non-Jewish & Jewish]** rich use to divide those beneath them on the pecking order to keep themselves on top. And it's pure dog-in-manger selfishness.

** There are Jews among the 1%, and I don't see them acting any differently than rich Gentiles, but they are NOT made evil just because of their religious heritage; nor does their heritage make them righteous.

149:

D. Mark Key @ 108: As for racism--most implicit racists (that is, people who are not consciously trying to be racist) are almost always driven by irrational fear. They see the world changing, they dont understand or trust it, and someone in a position of leadership and authority tells them it's all *their* fault. They are inclined to believe them.

That's the point I'm trying to make. Most "racists" aren't even aware they're being racist. They're just afraid. And their fears are not irrational, but those fears ARE being deliberately misdirected for the profit of the 1%.

Why does the matador wave a red cloak in front of the bull's face?

150:

Adrian Howard @ 114: Yeah — they're making a really freaking dumb decision driven by lies and, sometimes, racism. But I don't think it's coz they're not hurting. Quite the opposite.

I wonder if their relative level of distress makes them more vulnerable to lies from 1% that BREXIT will improve their circumstances?

Are they struggling so hard just to keep their heads above water that they no longer have the strength to ask why they've been thrown out of the lifeboat?

151:

Adrian Howard @ 114: (also IIRC the correlation to voting was stronger on region & education level than it was to age — and yet the nice simple divisive young/old story is the one that gets told most often… odd that :-)

So, who benefits from the lie being accepted while the truth is ignored?

152:

SFReader @ 119: I wonder how much of DT's and BoJo's 'I'm special' is because too few people who were supposed to mind or educate them didn't call them out when they screwed up. (Sorta a cumulative winner effect)

Rich man's disease - wealth and power allow you to surround yourself with people who have a vested interest in no one ever telling you no. It can be especially bad if it starts while you're still a child.

153:

@152:

Rich man's disease - wealth and power allow you to surround yourself with people who have a vested interest in no one ever telling you no. It can be especially bad if it starts while you're still a child.

I'm dubious of this as an explanation of Trump. I agree that, in material terms, he got what he wanted. But he has struggled for the respect of the Manhattan elite most of his life. He is the most conspicuously insecure man on the planet. When I watch Trump, it seems everything he says and does screams "Love me! LOVE ME!!"

154:

[[ Body cancelled as per Charlie's command - mod ]]

155:

Some of the 0.1%, mainly among the 0.01%. Few of the 1% (even using a UK 1%) will see any benefit.

156:

Re the "Jeremy Corbyn is a principled man etc." point, my issue isn't anything at all to do with talking to (or even talking up) terrorists. John Major made talking-to-the-IRA official policy and got the GFA and disarmament as a result. NI had an elected government for a few years, and if Ian Paisley could work with Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams then there's little reason for us mainland Brits to be sounding off about it now.

No, my problem with Jeremy Corbyn's leadership is his team's approach to dissent. This is a guy who spent his whole career on the back benches, voting to his conscience. Dissent with leadership has been his life. But since he's been in charge the Shadow Cabinet has been a revolving door, as anyone who disagrees with him has been kicked out. It very much appears that he can't work with people who disagree, and that's a big problem in politics because everyone's got a different opinion on something.

I had really high hopes for him when he started off, because his previous history was all about principled action. Of course the press hated him, because they hate anyone with principles. But as time has gone on, those principles just don't seem to have stuck so well, and that's a real disappointment.

Like OGH, I think leaving Keir Starmer off the top spot was a real waste. With a strong career outside politics, highly intelligent, and well-regarded by pretty much everyone, it would be much harder to write him off as a Loony Lefty.

157:

LAvery @ 153: @152:

Rich man's disease - wealth and power allow you to surround yourself with people who have a vested interest in no one ever telling you no. It can be especially bad if it starts while you're still a child.

I'm dubious of this as an explanation of Trump. I agree that, in material terms, he got what he wanted. But he has struggled for the respect of the Manhattan elite most of his life. He is the most conspicuously insecure man on the planet. When I watch Trump, it seems everything he says and does screams "Love me! LOVE ME!!"

Actually with Trump, I think it did start with his childhood; combined with his relationship with his father. No one could tell him no, but no matter how successful he becomes, his father is never going to love him. The respect of the Manhattan elite will never be enough to substitute for that.

PS: Charlie, if my comment at 154: is a violation, I apologize. Please delete it. I had already hit submit before I saw yours at 140:.

158:

Racism isn't a black-and-white issue! Many racists are NOT afraid, some are merely bullies, and the type I was referring to in #112 is merely being tribal. MikeA's experience is typical of that group, many of whom were perfectly happy being treated by a 'foreign' doctor, working for a 'foreign' boss, employing such people, voting for them, etc. They just didn't invite them home, let alone marry them. The vicious ones you seem to be thinking of are something else entirely.

159:

Actually with Trump, I think it did start with his childhood
This much is plausible.

No one could tell him no
That's the part that I doubt. I think Trump has had people telling him "No" his whole life. More specifically, "No, you're not one of Us. Don't even dream it."

160:

BQ is surely well to the right? A Nationalist party thoroughly disliked by the Aboriginal Inhabitants

Also (AFAIK) supporters of social programs. Grayson could give you a better picture, I'm sure.

We really need more than two axes.

161:

Case in point: Peggy Noonan, who is by way of being a high priestess of Republican Manhattan elites, just published a column in the Wall Street Journal that fairly drips with disdain for Trump. It also drips with disdain for Democrats in Congress. ("Dripping with disdain" is Peggy Noonan's brand.)

Trump, the crude new-money boy with the Queens accent has been facing this all his life.

162:

Quebec is in general a left wing / socialism supporting population but with desires of separation amongst a minority based on language and identity.

So lots of support for social programs, lots of support for "corporate welfare", low support for religion and formal marriage (I believe the lead Canada in common law marriages).

163:

Be interesting to watch, but the key point is despite some seat predictions a week ago the NDP didn't have as much of a surge as predicted, and while the Bloc did well again not as well as thought a week ago.

A week ago it was looking like the Green / NDP / Liberal seat total wouldn't amount to a majority so either Bloc or Conservative support would be required for anything (and for those outside Canada, requiring the support of the Bloc "aka Quebec separatists" is politically interesting). However actual results have the Liberals just 13 seats short of majority (170 required), and the NDP with 24 seats can easily keep the government going and make the Conservatives irrelevant.

I think we will get at least 2 years for two reasons. First, the NDP was in bad shape financially going into this election and thus really can't afford another election anytime soon (note that Harper succesfully exploited this and wrote the playbook). Second, the NDP and Conservatives will want to be able to spend some time investigating the SNC-Lavalin issue to try and dig up some damaging stuff and with the Liberals no longer controlling committees they now have their chance.

Also, while the NDP wasn't wiped off the map as expected at the beginning of the election they still didn't do all that well considering both 2nd half election predictions and what might have been possible given the Liberal weakness.

Expect leadership reviews if not replacements by the Greens, NDP, and Conservatives. In fairness to Scheer difficult to know how much at fault he is given that for most of Canada the problem is the Conservative platform, Singh certainly performed better than expected but is it good enough (or perhaps more accurately is there somebody better in the wings) for a second try, and May seems to have issues running a campaign that could be holding the Greens back.

I don't think the PPC was all that much of an influence, certainly the west GTA ridings I took a quick look at all were decided by reasonably large margins. Not to say there weren't a small number of problems for the Conservatives, but I suspect there were very effective with their pre-election campaign against the PPC to render them meaningless.

164:

Re: 'Quebec - character/politics'

Still have some family there and visit every few years. Probably one of the few places on the planet where talking about politics at the dinner table is normal/expected.

What's Quebec really like ...

Like a lot of places, depends on where you go. Montreal & Hull (across the river from Ottawa) are very internationalist with plenty of tourists, foreign students/researchers and immigrants. Quebec City feels like you're sorta in some remote part of France but not - kinda snooty - and good luck trying your high school French if you're more than 5 miles outside the city.

Politics - Federally, often Liberal esp. when Tory majority is looming. But anything can and does happen including long-time, respected cabinet level MPs splintering off from already in-power parties. The Bloc Quebecois was started by a bunch of Liberal and Tory MPs. WRT political alliances, federally, the BQ is the epitome of the 'a la carte' party: BQ (as of last night's TV election coverage wrap-up) is still on record saying that they will support any other party as long as that party's legislation benefits Quebec, does not force Quebec to provide gas/oil transport access, does not enforce tolerance of religion. (BQ wants religion out, period.)

Citizen activism - frankly I really like that in Quebec when citizens march on the streets, their gov'ts listen.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-protest-history-archive-photos-1.5298928

165:

UPDATE

Quoting my own tweets just now:

A government too weak to resign put a bill that doesn't do what they say it does before a parliament who refused to rubber-stamp it to meet the govt's schedule so now the gov't is going to try and get parliament to sack it again so we can have an election campaign for Christmas.

Am I right here?

Is this basically just Boris the Clown very elaborately handing us a gift-wrapped coal for Christmas now that his cunning plan to fill the trick-or-treaters' haloween bucket with razor blades in toffee has failed?

166:

I suspect that it will not be that straightforward. Inter alia, a vote to dissolve Parliament may fail (again), the EU may refuse to extend until they have some idea of what for, and for how long, and Bozo will rub his hands with glee at the prospect of timing out. Whereupon, in Parliament, ....

I can also certainly see the government proposing a vote of No Confidence in itself, and losing, which would be surreal beyond anything we could have imagined until recently. But you are probably right that such a vote is in our future.

167:

In my riding if the PPC votes were given to the Conservatives they would have won. Thought I saw another couple that were like that, but can't remember which ones (was looking at the Star's interactive map).

If you went PPC -> CPC and NDP -> Liberal, then the Liberals would have won my riding. But if you just go PPC -> CPC, then the CPC would have won. (So, absent Bernier, my riding would have gone Conservative.) Given that we did end up Conservative at the provincial level, I'm actually kinda grateful for Bernier right now :-/

Also note that if you look at the voting patterns within the riding, recent Chinese immigrants (from mainland PRC) tend to vote Conservative.

168:

EC & CHarlie
Tusk ae al are saying both "It's in Westminster's lap" & simultaneously not-pubicly-offering a long extension ... they can see that if ANY sort of formal extension request comes in, they will grant it ... long enough for the NO-HIDING-you- laundered-money rule comes in ... at which point they are failry sertain Britain would vote "remain" or a very very soft brexit.
Just, again "just" a matter of outmaneuvering BOZO & Cummings & co.
BOZO knows the tide is now running against him, but he is determined to snatch the nation's defeat & his victory form the jaws of victory/defeat, if you see what I mean ...

169:

Surreal Politics
LATEST ... is that MP's have voted to APPROVE a withdrwal Bill "In Principle" ...AND AT THE SAME TIME ... blocked any possibility of gettting it done by 31st October, thusly forcing an extension.
Here we go again ....
Incidentally is this proof that we are NOT living in a simulation, as no artifical set-up could possibly be this utterly bonkers?

170:

From what I know, the Orange Fool desperately wanted to be like his father (who participated and was booked by the cops in an anti-Catholic riot)... and utterly desperate for his father's love and approval, which was not going to happen. He's been like that ever since, just getting more so.

Of course, now that the impeachment inquiry is real, he's falling apart, rapidly, esp. with officials who say "subpoena? sure, I'll come talk"

171:

Um, yeah, it is proof. As the well-known aphorism about writing has it, a story has to be believable and make sense. Reality has no such limitations.

172:

In re Trump's desire to get respect: I gotta agree with LAvery in 153. Trump is long past the point where he'll ever feel accepted, but is constantly seeking acceptance anyway. Worse, he seeks that acceptance clumsily and then reacts like a spoiled child when he doesn't get it. His entire presidential campaign was an example of same.

Going further LAvery, this time from 163: As for Noonan et al not accepting him,

Trump, the crude new-money boy with the Queens accent has been facing this all his life.

There are likely some folks stuck up enough that they'll never get past anyone's Queens accent and nouveau riche life. But when you add him just being a flat-out *ssh*le, it pretty much means nobody will ever get past the accent and nouveau. For folks like Noonan, it just intensifies the vitriol.

173:

The Grauniad is reporting that Labour is set to back a general election once the EU27 confirm an extension (posited to run until January 31st, i.e. 3 months).

Boris has bankrupted his own political capital faster than just about any PM on record since the civil war (and I'm not talking about the American one). If he doesn't win an outright majority, I expect he'll be given the boot by the 1922 Committee.

So ... we're looking at a snap election before the end of the year, then either another Conservative government steered by Boris, or some sort of coalition. If we're really lucky the latter will announce a people's vote on whatever deal they can get through the Commons; if it's the former, then we're probably stuck with a Boris Brexit (and subsequent reign of misrule).

174:

Extremely looking forward to seeing how the Brexit Party look to perform in my constituency. Very much enjoyed my choices in 2015, when Farage was reported to be neck and neck with the (former UKIP) Conservative candidate. I was so pleased to find myself in the stupidest of all tactical voting situations.

175:

Ah, the madness of brexit! Just what will future historians make of it all?

Just some brief thoughts here though - my £1's worth (post brexit value -- about 0.00001p).....

Isn't it intresting how the ERG tories have changed their tune? It might just be that they have finally realised that their desired solid-granite crash-out brexit is very unlikely to happen. So they've backpeddled and decided on a plain old "hard brexit". COINO prehaps? (Crash out in name only, aka Hard brexit). What happened to the old line "No deal is better than a bad deal"? (NB: There is a difference between hard brexit and crash out).

On younger people that someone mentioned above my guess is they just won't vote at all. Maybe they just make the calculation that "all the old people have politics zipped up" and that "my vote won't change anything". Or I could be wrong of course. I know a few people who are younger and that is what they are saying to me btw -- what's the point?

As for the BBC I still think they are in at least part worried by the prospect of being privatized. Mind you the whole standard of (I'm thinking of TV) in the UK has been declining overall since the '90s. Sometimes though I listen to BBCR2/Jeremy vine show and on occasion It really does sometimes feel like "the conservative show". Ugh. Mind you post brexit maybe the BBC becomes the Boris Broadcasting Corporation?

Somebody above mentioned the polls above in a post. My thoughts? Really you should ignore whatever the polls say about the different parties -- polls only work if what you are polling is at least - bottom line - relatively stable. Politics right now is a 180 direct opposite of that so the polls are simply claptrap. Our politics is completely messed up. The polls might have well asked "Do you support giving everyone in the UK a free pink elephant?" for what it is worth. You'd have the exact same nonsense results. Garbage in, Garbage out.

How can scotland leave the UK btw? I know I have said this before but unless the tories grant another referendum on the subject (current chance is 0%) how will that happen? From what I can gather the SNP can't just say "we want another referendum" and just get it.

And I agree about the lib dems shifting right - a role first started by Nick clegg and his disasterous decision to go into coalition with the tories. The lib dems to me look like a bunch of kids looking into a sweet shop - they can't quite get in but try as hard as they can to look like the cool kids inside but just can't quite make it. Sort of "wannabe but failed" tories.

Random thought: Given bozo boris' nature, should he win an election might he be tempted to go full-trump and if he can't get his way in scotland instead just revokes the scottish parliament? As thatcher once did simply reduce scotland down to a mere province.


I forget where I head this btw - but I've heard it said that the tories also want to become more like the US republicans....uh oh.

2020s are surely going to be an intresting time. I wonder how the young voters of the 2020s would cast their vote (again, a thought -- young people who are currently too young to vote now but will be able to in the 2020s; once they find social media to be the horrible place it truly is (and affects their life badly; for example when you go to try to get your first job) what if there's some sort of big SM/tech backlash from that generation......

Or maybe all this wrong and in a couple of years' time we are back to the beige dictatorship?

ljones

176:

I think, despite the excitement and drama, we are exactly where Boris & Company want to be.

For the Brexiters there are 2 main issues.

One, leave the EU.

Two, have a parliamentary majority of sufficient numbers so when things start to go bad they can stay the course and prevent a quick return to the EU.

Ideally, they need an election prior to leaving so that they both get the maximum time in government, but also so they have a clear election campaign and no "side effects of Brexit" to cause the Brexit supporting part of the electorate to change sides.

To that end things are working out well - they have a well defined set of enemies in the SNP/DUP/Labour/Liberal Democrats to blame everything so far on.

Yes, to us sensible people Boris has many issues, but I suspect on a campaign trail he will do well (which he demonstrated during the referendum).

Upon winning his majority, Boris will then quickly convene Parliament and do a no-deal Brexit prior to Christmas and then settle in to enjoy the holidays.

If Boris fails to get his majority, then the UK will crash out at the end of the extension anyway because the new divided Parliament will be no better than the current one.

I also hope I am very wrong.

177:

#142: "As you say, "The current regime can still do a lot of damage" -- do we really want to find out how much? "There's a lot of ruin in a nation", but finding out how much by testing to destruction is not an idea that most find attractive."

No, of course not. But if it's going to happen anyway (and it is), then I prefer that it happen in a way that does reciprocal damage to the regime. Ideally, Trump sinks not only himself, but *Trumpism*.

#149: "That's the point I'm trying to make. Most "racists" aren't even aware they're being racist. They're just afraid. And their fears are not irrational, but those fears ARE being deliberately misdirected for the profit of the 1%."

I guess you're right--it isn't irrational to fear that your economic and cultural privilages are being taken away, because they are. One could even formulate a version of self-interest where they are rationally attempting to favor individuals who are closely related to themselves at the expense of others at greater social distance. The problem isnt that they are irrational so much as they are wrong--blacks arent really deserving of their subordinate status, and the privileges they confer on their families come at the expense of the greater good.

178:

D. Mark Key @ 177:

#149: "That's the point I'm trying to make. Most "racists" aren't even aware they're being racist. They're just afraid. And their fears are not irrational, but those fears ARE being deliberately misdirected for the profit of the 1%."

I guess you're right--it isn't irrational to fear that your economic and cultural privilages are being taken away, because they are. One could even formulate a version of self-interest where they are rationally attempting to favor individuals who are closely related to themselves at the expense of others at greater social distance. The problem isnt that they are irrational so much as they are wrong--blacks arent really deserving of their subordinate status, and the privileges they confer on their families come at the expense of the greater good.

They're wrong. That formulation of "self-interest" is a lie. It's an injury self-inflicted by ignorance.

Who is feeding them the lie that Blacks & Hispanics can only have progress at the expense of the white working class? Who benefits from excluding Blacks & Hispanics from equal participation in society?

Why can't we make progress together, White & Black & Hispanic & Asian & Native American? If we ALL work together we can ALL be greater than the sum of our parts; we can make this nation live up to the promise of the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution and BE the "shining city on a hill", a beacon for all of mankind.

Who benefits from holding us back from joining together and why do we let them do it? How do we penetrate the nightmare these people are living and wake them up to the possibility that a truly egalitarian society can make their lives better; that progress doesn't have to come at their expense?

How do we break the hold the liars have on their lives; on our lives?

179:

There are still reasons to doubt a Tory majority right now, quite apart from the flukiness of the 2015 result which was the only one since 1987 to return a reliable Conservative majority. Even if Johnson managed to get one, I would be very, very surprised if he could keep it - he is not a party manager like John Major or a smooth operator like Cameron. He is a bluffer, and that only works for limited periods of time, albeit very well when it does work.

But let's try:
1. Scotland. Everyone will lose everything to the SNP barring one or two (I will be surprised if the SNP don't end up with close to 50 again.) This doesn't affect Labour so much because this has already been factored in, although it does raise the amusing prospect of the LibDem leader losing her seat whilst her party does well elsewhere.

2. The South West. Which is where the LibDems will likely recover a few seats. [There is also the glorious prospect of Hugo Swires losing his seat in East Devon to an Independent who has slowly but steadily been encroaching on him for the past decade or so and with tactical support may well tip over the line this time.]

3. The Cities. London and Manchester will likely become totally Tory-free zones (there's still a chance of them saving the City of Westminster but the MP is standing down and at the moment the Tories are intent on selecting Brexiters even in Remain constituencies.) Other cities will likely stay strongly Labour. As has been noted, it's mostly the Towns that went Leave.

4. Tactical voting. It will be a factor, albeit not necessarily a 'public' one. There are a lot of independent antiBrexit groups now who are sharing data; it was effective in the Euro elections. (I will stick my neck out and predict that Bristol will get the second Green MP thanks to this.)

5. The Party Machines. Labour themselves may not be entirely ready, but Momentum certainly are. I think they could single-handedly save about twenty close marginals with their feet on the ground regardless of what they actually think about the candidates (although Caroline Flint will be lucky to get any help...) Whereas the Tories have a largely elderly membership who are torn between their love for Boris and their love for Nigel Farage. This will have an effect.

6. The candidates. There is going to be churn in the Tory ranks with the MPs like Grieve and Stewart who have effectively announced their resignations. They won't stand as 'spoilers' but they will be unlikely to campaign for their successors and that will have an effect. (This is true for Labour too, but nowhere near as dramatic.)

7. The Brexit Party. I don't think they will be a factor. But they are more likely to create random havoc for both sides than win anything.

8. The manifesto. This can be a real factor, especially in a close election, as May discovered in 2017. We had a preview of the next Tory manifesto last week at the Queen's Speech and it really didn't fly very well at all, apart, amusingly, from the bits they nicked from the 2017 Labour manifesto... We still urgently need a social care solution, and something to fix the local council funding problem. And although neither party will offer anything sensible here, they may become big issues. And, of course, they will need to specify their actual Brexit policy this time around!

In 2017, May managed to hang on to 317 seats, largely thanks to the surprising Scottish resurgence. If the Tories lose 10 of those, half-a-dozen in the SW and their last few City seats, then they would need to win a whole lot of seats in N. England (and, to be fair, Wales) to even come close to a technical majority. And yes, the peculiarities of FPTP mean that we could get a very, very weird result. I just can't see it being so skewed as to give Johnson his safe majority.

180:

Or it's a glitch in the matrix, unraveling in real-time. Brexit has become a chaotic feedback loop, compounding the errors.

BJ is not human, but a rogue agent trying to destroy the simulation from within.

181:

mdive @ 176
Nasty - I do hope you are wrong
Of course, BOZO is being HELPED by fuckwit Corbyn who WILL NOT BACK REMAIN ....
Thus dividing both the political opposition to the (now) ultra-right who seem to be running the tories these days AND the "Remain" opposition between Lem-0-crats & those Labour members who back "remain"
QUESTION for Nojay: Do you want a Corbyn left-wing government outside the EU, or do you want to remain in the EU?
Because, at the moment, you & momentum are going to get neither, we are going to get something like a US Republican misgovernment, idiots.

JBS @ 178
And these people whom you criticize are exactly the same as Trump & Putin, both of whom believe that politics, domestic & international are zero-sum games, & that win-win situations cannot exist

Scurra @ 179
Also, Corbyn could well lose hos seat to the Lem-0-crats, for his EU fence-sitting ... which would amuse me hugely!

Your numbered points ...
3: Labour in the cities? When officially Labour is NOT backing "Remain"? Some Mp's, like Stella, who are publicly strong-remain, yes, other, not so sure, see my comment above.
4: Tactical voting - TICK
5: LOTS of people loathe momentum, for good reason. ( What's momentum's postion on the EU - someone please enlighten me? Ah - checks - they are pro-Remain - what happened, an outbreak of sanity, can't be allowed! )

Conclusion - almost certainly a hung parliament?

182:

Update.
It appears even BOZO has realised he probably won't "win" (overall majority) a General Election & has, for the moment, backed down - presumably to try to invent another whizzo wheeze ( Or even Cunning Plan ) - but, if as seems likely, we get ANOTHER 3 months, how much will the new EU finance rules affect people's understanding ( & anger) after 1st January?

P.S. Do NOT call it "Money Laundering" ... I got ranted at yesterday - apparently in professional financial circles whatever the crooks in the Brit Overseas territories get up isn't Money Laundering, as defined ... it does have some other technical term, but I don't know what at the moment .....
The ranter told me that she does Money Laundering updates every month ( She's had to report several people/organistaions so far ) & there hasn't been a whisper about the new EU rules ... so it must be under some other heading.

183:

I have been ranted at for saying the same, and I fail to see why I should change. It is washing the tax liability out of the money, which passes the duck test for laundering.

They aren't going to make a scrap of difference in the short term, because the UK won't enforce them. In any case, the UK government and bankers will do what they usually do, and did last time - introduce a lot of bureaucracy and completely pointless rituals that annoy the law-abiding people in the 1-10%, and let the criminals in the 0.1% off scot-free.

In the longer term, I don't know.

184:

@181: Yes, I can't see the outcome of a new election being much different to the 2017 result except that the Tories may only have 300 seats (rather than 317) and even if they were closer, they can no longer count on the DUP - who, in any case, may well suffer a bad kicking themselves, giving the UUP some seats back..

(I am a constituent of Corbyn. He won't lose. He might dip below 66% but that's about all. He is a superb constituency MP who does all the legwork, supports local groups and advocates for his constituents - yes, I have benefited from that myself. He would have been an excellent leader of the Labour party at almost any time except *right now*. (I am not a Labour voter. But I can tell the difference between MPs who try to be representatives and MPs who are just there for themselves. And Corbyn is the former.)

@182: That's always the difficulty with technical/jargon terms that have slipped out into general usage but mean something very different in the specialist field. They usually get upset about "monopoly" when it is 'misused' when they know perfectly well what the general understanding of the term is. And, of course, there's also the wilful obfuscation by people who would rather we argued about definitions than about the actual problem...

185:

If I might return your attention to the issue of Scotland being involved in imperialism and hiding the loot; one reason Scotland can appear so much better, if you don't go far enough back to involve the slave trade or tobacco or cotton industries, is that since London was the capital with all the money and power, greedy and ambitious Scots went to London.

Many of them ended up in India, and brought back great fortunes stolen from the natives. They used the money to rebuild the family home or build a nice new mansion, sometimes going into politics to represent a Scottish seat. 'Scotland' was an enthusiastic participant in the British imperialist project and benefited to some extent. See also the works of John Buchan...

186:

How can scotland leave the UK btw? I know I have said this before but unless the tories grant another referendum on the subject (current chance is 0%) how will that happen? From what I can gather the SNP can't just say "we want another referendum" and just get it.
...
Random thought: Given bozo boris' nature, should he win an election might he be tempted to go full-trump and if he can't get his way in scotland instead just revokes the scottish parliament? As thatcher once did simply reduce scotland down to a mere province.

Firstly, I'm pretty sure everyone knows that the SNP can't get another referendum just by asking for one. But the constant "gissa referendum" talk keeps the issue visible, keeps their base interested and motivated, and draws a clear line between their single-minded pursuit of a separatist goal and the clusterfuck down south (ahem: irony intentional).

It also signals that after the next general election IndyRef 2 is totally in play as a bargaining chip in return for the votes of about 50 SNP MPs (the SNP is currently poised to sweep up almost all the Commons seats in Scotland). This may or may not be pivotal in the next election.

As for the risk of Boris going full Trump and trying to abolish Scotland ... I'm certain he'd do it if he could. I'm equally certain that the process of getting it through the House of Commons would drive Scottish public support for independence past the 60% point -- it's about the fastest (maybe only) way to secure a supermajority for Scottish independence. Nobody likes being pushed around by a bully, especially one who is already widely loathed and distrusted in Scotland.

Then he'd have to get it through the courts. As we've seen, the Scottish courts take a different view of the constitutional powers of the executive from the English courts. Just about anything could happen -- it's even possible that the Court of Sessions would rule that such a power grab violates the Act of Union and thereby constitutional power defaults to the Scottish parliament, not the Westminster one. (It all depends on the legal arguments.)

Nor does it stop the Scottish Parliament from running a snap election on a simple platform: "if we get a majority of seats we will take it as a mandate to unilaterally declare independence", then dump it in the lap of the courts. Which would result in an utter clusterfuck, but by that point, who cares? The UK is in the grip of Mini-Trump, a no-deal Brexit is receding in the rearview mirror, Operation Yellowhammer is in effect, we've got Rule by Decree (aka Henry VIII Powers) -- at this point, one more source of constitutional chaos will be nothing to get worked up about. NB: no automatic fast-track into the EU in this situation (it'd definitely upset the Spanish government), but we'd be out of the EU anyway so it doesn't necessarily make that aspect of things any worse.

187:

Also, Corbyn could well lose hos seat to the Lem-0-crats, for his EU fence-sitting ... which would amuse me hugely!

I'm going to say that from my point of view, the best possible outcome of a snap general election is: narrow Labour minority, SNP sweep Scotland, Corbyn loses his seat ... resulting in a MacDonald led minority Labour administration with an SNP confidence and supply agreement. SNP get their independence referendum, Labour get to negotiate a Brexit deal then hold a people's vote, timing set so that the Scotland vote happens after the Brexit vote. Also agreed that Labour gets a 5 year term in office with SNP support even if Scotland votes to leave the UK (ie independence negotiations won't complete until after the current parliamentary session).

The SNP won't block the last hope of staying in the EU unconditionally (it'd be electoral poison in Scotland). They can sell the delayed Indyref to their base as an emergency solution in the event that the English are dumb enough to vote for Brexit twice. And Labour get a running start at fixing the past decade of catastrophic damage inflicted on the UK by the Tories.

188:

That's always the difficulty with technical/jargon terms that have slipped out into general usage

I have given up complaining about the misuse of "shoddy". Which is a specific type of woolen textile made from recycled/reclaimed fibres, and was mistakenly used by journalists covering the Crimean War to refer to poor quality uniforms shipped to the troops dealing with a Russian winter.

(My grandfather was in the shoddy trade, in a big way.)

Ditto "hacker". Sigh.

189:

“ in professional financial circles whatever the crooks in the Brit Overseas territories get up isn't Money Laundering, as defined ... it does have some other technical term, but I don't know what at the moment .....”

Thieving? Arbitrage? Bricolage? Arseholism?

Okay, one or other of those might not be a technical term.

190:

There is going to be churn in the Tory ranks with the MPs like Grieve and Stewart who have effectively announced their resignations. They won't stand as 'spoilers' but they will be unlikely to campaign for their successors and that will have an effect.

To the best of my knowledge, Greieve is still saying that he *will* stand as an Independent Conservative for his current constituency of Beaconsfield. He is a popular local MP and I understand there is an unofficial agreement that Lib Dems won't stand in Beaconsfield, which would effectively give him whatever Lib Dem vote that might be going. I would not bet against him beateing any official Tory canditate.

191:

I sympathise, because I find people get confused when I use "shoddy" in a technical sense. But, from the OED's references, it doesn't really seem to have been established as a precise technical term long before it started to be used more generally (30 years, at most), and it had at least two (related) meanings in the wool industry. The OED even speculates that it may have been a transfer of "shoad", which is dirty coal or ore fragments.

"Money laundering" is much worse because it was FIRST used by the press, and adopted as a specific technical term only later. You can see the same abuse of English by taxonomists, who get religious about the generic use of terms like "cabbage white", "bluebell" and even "conifer".

There are much worse problems with "exponential" and "singularity", because the popularised misuses lead laymen to misunderstand fundamental properties of the very phenomena they are talking about. And that bleeds over into the real world, via actions taken by powerful singularians (the Demonic Cummings is not unique) :-(

192:

There are much worse problems with "exponential" and "singularity"

And don't get me started on "inflection point".

193:

Quantum.

Popular usage is almost 180° opposite to technical meaning.

194:

More recently, the media has changed the meaning of 'troll' and 'trolling' to suit themselves, probably out of total ignorance of online culture and in the need for a quick easy one word term to plaster all over the front pages.

195:

Quantum.

General rule: Folks who use the phrase "quantum mechanics" usually know what they're talking about. But when you hear "quantum physics", duck and cover. It's usually a preface to the view that there are NO RULES, that physics says "any woo can happen".

196:

I could see Boris allowing Scotland another referendum - he has after all already given in to the break-up of the UK with the "border down the Irish Sea" of his Brexit agreement and while the DUP has obviously been howling about it they appear to be the only ones upset.

So if having Northern Ireland leave is now acceptable, it may not take much more for a Conservative government to decide getting rid of 50 seats that will pretty much always oppose them and interfere with their majorities is a good idea.

198:

It is (fortunately) not certain, but neither is it unlikely.

Obviously the national polling numbers can be misleading, and you really need seat level polling.

But, as I indicated we are somewhat biased in as much as we all see through Boris and his act. In the real world though Boris for the last month has been improving his numbers in the "viewed as best PM" polling while Corbyn has trending downward by a small amount.

Despite what we now know about Brexit and how damaging it will be the referendum numbers are still quite close. But, it is likely a safe assumption that the numbers change if you break them down by country/territory. Scotland and Northern Ireland are remain dominant, but they aren't going to vote Conservative anyway. Which would seem to indicate that England and Wales are still in favour of leaving, which benefits Boris.

Now add in the polling about the most important issues according to voters(*) - 70% say Brexit is the most important issue (healthcare is a distant second at 35%).

So combine an election that is all about Brexit (and hence manifestos are unlikely to have much sway, particularly given Boris has copied much of Labour anyway), an electorate in England/Wales that is pro-Brexit, and Boris not only be viewed as a better PM than Corbyn but improving his numbers, and a Conservative majority isn't all that far fetched.

* - and this is why Boris and his advisors want an election prior to leaving - because with the Liberal Democrats still recovering from their coalition damage and Labour still attempting to play both sides, it gives the Conservatives a clear advantage at the polls.

199:

Actually, the technical meaning (*) is almost the opposite of the technical meaning (*)!

(*) Of the word.
(*) Of the theory.

200:

Y'know, between idiots on Question Time suggesting that Ireland reunite into one nation as a solution to Brexit, and the ex-Northern Ireland secretary *quoting Michael fecking Collins in the Commons* and hoping he didn't share his fate, there really isn't any justification anymore for saying that anyone competent is in charge...

201:

You'd get a much more nuanced and reasoned analysis from Graydon, if he feels up to posting one.

Well, I don't know about nuanced. (Or reasonable.)

The Canadian Greens are innumerate moralists; they're getting votes as people start to panic about the climate, but they're not capable of articulating useful policy.

The NDP have three horrible problems; they've stopped being left in that they've stopped arguing for structural economic change (Brian Mulrooney's tory government -- actual government, not platform! -- was to the left of the current NDP platform), they're lumbered with a (probably correct) perception that they can't form an effective government (I mean, they never have before; the learning experience would be epic); and they're apparently structurally incapable of going from "good idea" to "here is the specific proposal". (E.g., some better voting mechanism. Yes, yes, some form of proportional rep could be an improvement; how do you propose to implement it, especially given PEI (4 seats guaranteed at Confederation), Quebec (one quarter of the seats per the great constitutional wrangle) and Section 3 (guarantee of meaningful political participation to every Canadian citizen; it's why we no longer have substantial cash deposits to run for federal office...) of the Charter? It's not a trivial question and no one seem able to present a specific proposal.)

The Bloc Québécois are (aside from being separatists) old-school European Democratic Socialists. If they would stop being separatists and run candidates outside of Quebec they would replace the NDP. As it is, they're the most actually left federal party, but this more or less doesn't matter because they're actively against confederation and can't produce a consistent federal policy stance in consequence.

The Liberals are the party of the status quo; Justin says pretty things but the actual policy is some distance right of centre (e.g., contesting human rights tribunal compensation judgements about genocidal abuses of the indigenous population, approving pipelines, etc.) They've been running on the illusion of competence since Chretien got deposed. Socially, they're good at saying the right thing about diversity (that is, society runs just fine without enforcing a prescriptive social norm); they've managed to not make things worse in this regard while in government. (As a contrast to Harper, this looks pretty good, but less good as time passes and the active political memory of the Eater of Kittens fades.)

The CPC are, under Sheer, pro-genocide white supremacists. (If you're pro-increasing-fossil-carbon-extraction, you are way some lots serious pro-genocide. It's probably not the only way they're pro-genocide, but it's the least ambiguous way.) They're also way way off in "no facts please, we're conservative" land. But they are also the resolute party of declaring and enforcing prescriptive social norms; the CPC vote is a pretty good measure of the percentage of the Canadian population who are authoritarian in outlook.

The People's Party are the folks who think the CPC are unclean because they're too tolerant, especially of weak and effeminate notions like having a government and collective solutions to problems.

None of these are attractive; none of these are answers to the challenges of the day. The vote kinda reflects that, collapsing into what amounts to meta-tribalism.

Confederation has three huge problems right now; one is regional economies that won't acknowledge that their fossil carbon wealth is fake and rests on implicit subsidies. (~quarter trillion in unfunded environmental liability without counting the atmospheric carbon load just in Alberta.) This has let the oil curse in but good.

Two is that everyone keeps blathering on about prosperity, as though there can be prosperity under Late Capitalism or as though there can be prosperity in the Initial Anthropocene. Nobody's managed to stand up and say "here are some facts; here is what (my party proposes) we need to do about those facts". The kids are getting on for being willing to murder people about this particular failure of political articulation with reality.

Three is the collapse of an agreed public morality; there used to be one, a big part of what the 1967 Centennial was for, politically, was to create one; that held until 2008, mostly sorta. It's completely gone now, and no one has admitted that either we need a new one or we need to go Full Materialist. It makes actually having a political debate really difficult when there isn't much of a common universe of discourse.

Plus, the issues at hand are extremely difficult; the minimum useful response is on the order of full national mobilization. The policy we need is not policy we can get while there isn't an agreed set of national goals. (This may be contributing to the lack of useful climate policy from any party; it might just be that politics selects strongly for innumeracy and it's really tough to get people with high social skills to recognize that you have to make people unhappy now based on something that's going to happen years from now.)

That said, keeping the CPC out of power is strongly preferable; gleeful active evil is worse than passive clueless evil.

202:

Your last line perfectly captures my reasons for voting as progressive as party apparatchiks allow.

203:

Speaking from the perspective e of a melanin-challenged person here. It’s been decades since I read A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn but I remember an interesting bit about the early days (when US was still a colony, I believe). So many indentured servants and slaves were running away and joining indigenous communities that the wealthy white men passed a law forbidding interracial liaisons. I agree, if only decent people of all races could come together to do good, it could be a gamechanger. I think a place to start is for liberal white people to reach out to other communities and listen. We are the ones with a bit of extra comfort and privilege. Then we can in turn try to build a bridge to other brainwashed white people. It’s very difficult work but I try. I live in California and my dad’s side is in Kentucky and Arkansas. Talking to them is really hard; when I visit I practice avocado diplomacy (bring some with and make *good* guacamole for the relatives). I make points pretty gently realizing that I am the only flaming liberal they know. I wish there was a clear path; I am terrified about the future but have decided to try to help, even if it’s spitting in the wind.

204:

Sorry. Thought I'd include the link:

https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2012-06-01

You know, I am honestly not so bothered by this usage of "quantum leap". Admittedly, a quantum leap is not usually a big thing, in absolute terms. But it is discontinuous, which is, I think, usually the point that people who say "quantum leap" are trying to get across. Without the word "discontinuous" in your vocabulary or the vocabulary of your interlocutors, "quantum leap" is not the worst conceivable substitute.

Of course, not many physicists remain who believe that quantum leaps really happen. (Of course, this depends on what the words "really" and "happen" mean.) That basically comes from the Copenhagen Interpretation (under the guise of "wavefunction collapse"), which is, I think, largely discredited in the eyes of contemporary physicists.

205:

I agree about "quantum leap" - that is, after all, the original meaning of the term, back in the days when Einstein and Planck first proposed quantisation as a model, and well before there was such a thing as an actual quantum theory in the modern sense.

As far as I know, the claims that the Copenhagen Interpretation cannot be right are entirely religious, though someone may have produced some concrete evidence when I wasn't looking. But that is another topic.

206:

@JBS #178: "That formulation of "self-interest" is a lie. It's an injury self-inflicted by ignorance."

I'll nit pick and point out that subjective values can't be lies or ignorant, provided they are expressed authentically. A nihilist who thinks life is bad and wants to destroy the universe isn't "wrong" in any objective sense of the term.

It's important to present empirical and rational arguments against racist belief systems (and other anti-humanitarian ones as well), but it doesn't do any good not to recognize the self-interest involved from the individual's point of view. Economic growth may not be zero-sum, but race-based privileges are. Upper middle class white people indeed are losing their privileges with respect to people of color, and this will indeed probably make life somewhat harder for themselves and their offspring. That said, the counter argument might be "you're being lied to", but another one is "we are all better off when black people spend more money on consumer goods."

"A truly egalitarian society" isn't going to fly in the US, for any demographic group. For better or for worse, "meritocracy" (however it is defined) is deeply ingrained in American culture. The best should go to the best, and if it isn't seen to do so, people across the socio-economic spectrum get uncomfortable (including the working poor). We may not agree on who the "best" is, or what criteria qualify one, but that there is and ought to be a "winner's class" is something nearly all of us feel in our bones. The trick here is to change the culture of certain groups so that "race" is no longer one of the criteria. That's doable.

207:

An of-topic note for Heteromeles:

https://menafn.com/1099166276/October-Rainfall-in-Canal-Basin-Lowest-Ever

Summary: It may be that climate change is starting to cause problems with the water supply for the Panama Canal. Not good for the Canal, and doubly not good as the 2e6 people in the area use the same water supply for drinking.

We now return you to BJ, DT and other horrors.

208:

As far as I know, the claims that the Copenhagen Interpretation cannot be right are entirely religious, though someone may have produced some concrete evidence when I wasn't looking.

There may be people who "claim that the Copenhagen Interpretation cannot be right", but I have never heard such a claim. It is an "interpretation", not a theory. By design, all interpretations of quantum mechanics make the same experimental predictions. So whether an interpretation is right or wrong is a philosophical issue, which perhaps one may call "entirely religious".

When I took my first QM course (1978 or thereabouts), the CI still reigned supreme, so that's what we were taught. I hated it on sight. Its main infelicity is that it divides physical events into two types, measurements and events that are not measurements, and prescribes different rules for the measurements (which cause wavefunction collapse) and non-measurements (during which the quantum state evolves according to a unitary operation). And it leaves to intuition what is a measurement, and what is not. This failure to define what a measurement is struck me then, and still does today, as a defect. (An early idea that measurements require a conscious observer became popular in science fiction, but was generally dismissed by physicists.)

Since then the distinction that the CI makes between measurement and non-measurement has become mostly unnecessary, as a better understanding of quantum decoherence has developed.

209:

Re: But when you hear "quantum physics", duck and cover. It's usually a preface to the view that there are NO RULES, that physics says "any woo can happen".

The horrible thing is that whild it doesn't mean there are no rules, it does mean that anything can happen...and allows you to calculate the probability. Personally, I disagree with that because I don't accept continuity. Things below a certain degree of probability *can't* happen. But that value is quite low. (I estimate it, for no valid reason, to be about 1 chance in 10^-66.) But people don't understand probability. (Hell, *I* don't understand probability beyond the simple stuff, and I'm a statistics major. Being able to calculate it doesn't mean you understand it.)

210:

You can't produce evidence that the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum physics is wrong without also invalidating all the other interpretations, because they all predict the same measurable results. That's what the "interpretation" part of the name means.

211:

Ok, being picky, I can see your friend's complaint. Money laundering is taking money obtained illegally (prostitution, drug running, extortion, etc), and putting it into something (like, say, buying condos), then legally selling the "legally" purchased item.

Meanwhile, playing international accounting games to avoid paying taxes isn't money laundering... it's tax fraud.

212:

Please... do *not* get me started on "galactic/intergalactic". As far as I can tell, the people who use those terms in public appear to think a small private airport that can only handle planes up to 8 seats is an "international airport".

213:

(Hell, *I* don't understand probability beyond the simple stuff, and I'm a statistics major. Being able to calculate it doesn't mean you understand it.)

Probability is a problem. I don't have a problem with probability that arises from incomplete knowledge, as it does in Kolmogorov's axiomatic probability theory. But when you claim that probability is physically fundamental, as interpretations of quantum mechanics do, you're in philosophical sticky territory. I recently heard a lecture by Lee Smolin in which he essentially dismissed all of Quantum Theory because of its inability to explain (as opposed merely to calculate) probability.

That, I thought, was throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

214:

Yes, but that dismissal is exactly the sort of religious attitude I am referring to - we don't have any evidence either way. Something I thought of a LONG while back (40+ years), but did not dare express publicly while I was working in academia, is that a lot of otherwise explained or highly implausible phenomena fall into place if you postulate that massed human belief can affect the laws of physics, or even just quantum mechanics probabilities. That was published in a respectable journal about a decade back, which I found interesting.

That is, of course, no excuse for the politicians who seem to believe that they can change reality just by asserting falsehoods often and strongly enough. SOME things can be changed that way, but not all.

To Charles H (#209): boggle. I have difficulty understanding people who think deterministically.

215:

I did see an ad, a long time ago, that you can make big money as a quantum mechanic....

216:

Being able to calculate it doesn't mean you understand it.

Isn't that one of the 'models'? That we can't understand it, but we can compute it. (This was described as the "shut up and calculate" interpretation at the seminar I went to at Perimeter Institute a few years ago.)

217:


Sabine Hossenfelder is currently discussing the quantum measurement problem:

https://backreaction.blogspot.com/2019/10/what-is-quantum-measurement-problem.html

Me, I've long thought that the principal problem with the Copenhagen interpretation is that it relies on an act of magic.

219:

that dismissal is exactly the sort of religious attitude I am referring to

If you're referring to the idea that "measurement = conscious observation", no, that is not religion. It is an experimental issue, that has been settled conclusively in favor of the answer that "measurement" in the CI sense does not require a conscious observer.

Because (in the CI) a quantum system evolves differently when it is measured and when it is not measured, it is possible to design experiments in which measurements are made by instruments, then look at the end state and figure out whether those instrumental measurements caused wavefunction collapse. This experiment has been done, and they do.

(Now, if you really want to stretch it, I suppose you could claim that the conscious observer who looked at the final state of the system after the experiment was over retroactively caused all the wavefunction collapses that occurred earlier. But I would hardly call the dismissal of this sort of special pleading a "religious attitude".)

220:

Horse hockey. "Race-based privileges" is right-wing propaganda... except that it means "best" is translated to "best, and we all know anyone not 'Really Aryan, er, White', can't ever be 'best'".

The middle class isn't loosing privileges, it's loosing to the rich taking ROI, and *blaming* it on that, the same way lower-class whites think that "those people" are getting government benefits that they're not.

221:

Greg Tingey @ 181: JBS @ 178
And these people whom you criticize are exactly the same as Trump & Putin, both of whom believe that politics, domestic & international are zero-sum games, & that win-win situations cannot exist

Well yes. Those are just some of the reasons I oppose Trump, Putin et al.


222:

Sabine Hossenfelder is currently discussing the quantum measurement problem:

https://backreaction.blogspot.com/2019/10/what-is-quantum-measurement-problem.html

Interesting. But I think she unfairly dismisses decoherence theory by interpreting "decoherence" in the narrowest possible sense.

Me, I've long thought that the principal problem with the Copenhagen interpretation is that it relies on an act of magic.

There is that. But as a fan of The Laundry Files I can live with a little magic.

Isn't that one of the 'models'? That we can't understand it, but we can compute it. (This was described as the "shut up and calculate" interpretation at the seminar I went to at Perimeter Institute a few years ago.)

Yes, that view has been attributed (whether fairly or not, I don't know) to Richard Feynman.

223:

I have a question about the 39 bodies found in a "truck" in Essex. I know the driver has been arrested on suspicion of murder, but knowing something about how trucking works in the U.S., how do the police know that the driver was responsible?

In the U.S. it's common for independent drivers to "contract" to pick up a sealed trailer at point 'A' and deliver it to point 'B' without ever knowing what's actually inside other than what the manifest lists.

Usually, there's some kind of broker involved who assigns a driver a payload to deliver. The drivers are not allowed to break the seals & look inside the trailer. In fact they're liable for arrest if they do break the seals.

How does that work in the EU & UK? What's the evidence the driver knew he was smuggling people? Or if he didn't know there were people inside, why is he the one being held responsible?

224:

Sorry. I didn't think your wording through carefully enough, so responded to a different assertion. Mea culpa. I always understood the only plausible form of the interpretation was to include anything that could distinguish one 'collapsed state from another to be an 'observer'. The attitude I was referring to is the one that claims that wave function collapse doesn't happen.

W.r.t. #213. Boggle! What on earth is implausible about probability distributions being the base algebra for the universe, instead of real or complex numbers? Yes, I agree that it blows most people's minds - but what's wrong with that?

225:

Damian @ 189:

“ in professional financial circles whatever the crooks in the Brit Overseas territories get up isn't Money Laundering, as defined ... it does have some other technical term, but I don't know what at the moment .....”

Thieving? Arbitrage? Bricolage? Arseholism?

Okay, one or other of those might not be a technical term.

So there's a thought ... What do you call it when the word's are "technically correct", but not actually "technical" terms?

As for calling it "money laundering" ... it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck ... it's a duck.

226:

W.r.t. #213. Boggle! What on earth is implausible about probability distributions being the base algebra for the universe, instead of real or complex numbers? Yes, I agree that it blows most people's minds - but what's wrong with that?


Yes, perhaps Kolmogorov probability spaces are the stuff of which the uni/multiverse is constructed. Why the Hell not? This proposal neatly sidesteps the questions of the origins of probability in quantum mechanics.

227:

"The middle class isn't loosing privileges, it's loosing to the rich taking ROI, and *blaming* it on that, the same way lower-class whites think that "those people" are getting government benefits that they're not."

These are not mutually exclusive options. Yes, it is partly what you are describing, but I assure you from personal experience that white people in the US, regardless of class, have certain privileges over people of color, regardless of class. Remember Jesse Jackson's admission that he was more afraid of seeing a black youth on the street at night than of seeing a white one? Research on job interviews, health outcomes, treatment in the classroom all supports the hypothesis that white people receive preferential treatment over people of color, even in casual interactions with few stakes involved.

It's these privileges that are being lost. And upper middle class white men from a suburban or rural background feel this loss more than anyone else. It partially explains the differential suicide rates for white males.

This is all implicit racism. People aren't quite able to articulate exactly how they feel, even to themselves (maybe they have suppressed it) but they feel it and it matters. I feel it, and I try to make a good faith effort to transcend my implicit racism (with varying degrees of success). I can easily imagine how people with less self-awareness than I have might self-identify as conservative. There, but for the grace of God...

228:

D. Mark Key @ 206:

@JBS #178: "That formulation of "self-interest" is a lie. It's an injury self-inflicted by ignorance."

I'll nit pick and point out that subjective values can't be lies or ignorant, provided they are expressed authentically. A nihilist who thinks life is bad and wants to destroy the universe isn't "wrong" in any objective sense of the term.

But what of someone who has been convinced to become a hihilist for someone else's profit? Has he been lied to? Isn't the proposition that "life is bad" a lie when it is imposed from without?

It's important to present empirical and rational arguments against racist belief systems (and other anti-humanitarian ones as well), but it doesn't do any good not to recognize the self-interest involved from the individual's point of view. Economic growth may not be zero-sum, but race-based privileges are. Upper middle class white people indeed are losing their privileges with respect to people of color, and this will indeed probably make life somewhat harder for themselves and their offspring. That said, the counter argument might be "you're being lied to", but another one is "we are all better off when black people spend more money on consumer goods."

I do agree there are those who have been lied too so many times that they believe they must inevitably lose for anyone else to gain, but they must be educated to see that prosperity for all is better than prosperity only for some.

"A truly egalitarian society" isn't going to fly in the US, for any demographic group. For better or for worse, "meritocracy" (however it is defined) is deeply ingrained in American culture. The best should go to the best, and if it isn't seen to do so, people across the socio-economic spectrum get uncomfortable (including the working poor). We may not agree on who the "best" is, or what criteria qualify one, but that there is and ought to be a "winner's class" is something nearly all of us feel in our bones. The trick here is to change the culture of certain groups so that "race" is no longer one of the criteria. That's doable.

I don't see how you can have "meritocracy" if it's not egalitarian? How can it be "meritocracy" if only some are permitted to have merit based on the color of their skin or social standing because their grandfather managed to steal a great fortune?

229:

whitroth @ 212: Please... do *not* get me started on "galactic/intergalactic". As far as I can tell, the people who use those terms in public appear to think a small private airport that can only handle planes up to 8 seats is an "international airport".

So what would you call a private airstrip in the Bahamas from which you can fly to Florida or vice versa?

230:

I have a question about the 39 bodies found in a "truck" in Essex. I know the driver has been arrested on suspicion of murder, but knowing something about how trucking works in the U.S., how do the police know that the driver was responsible?

Short answer: they aren't telling us.

Longer answer: in England, there are strict controls on reporting of information surrounding a crime that hasn't come to trial yet, because (a) no first amendment, and (b) the overriding priority of ensuring a fair trial by not prejudicing the jurors. This isn't arbitrary: trials have been abandoned in the past because a juror saw and was affected by TV or newspaper coverage of the crime, or read about it on the internet. Full information is disclosed during or after the trial.

(I happen to think that in this respect the British legal system(s) are superior to the American ones, at least in terms of outcomes, because a biased jury is ... not good. This is one of the reasons why I'm not a free speech absolutist.)

Meta answer: container/trailer movements in and out of the UK are monitored because they have to pass through customs checkpoints -- the UK isn't part of the Schengen zone, so there's also passport control. The tractor unit arrived from Northern Ireland, so came via ferry, which also requires clearing a customs checkpoint and passport control (because it's coming from Ireland). There are ANPR cameras on the ports and on the motorway network, so the vehicle movements would also have been monitored.

The trailer arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge and got to the industrial park around 12:30am. The tractor unit, driven over from Northern Ireland, arrived there around 1:30am, the driver (aged 25, so almost certainly not the independent owner of the tractor -- those things are expensive) called an ambulance, the ambulance arrived and notified the police about the bodies at 1:40am.

What I suspect happened is an organized people-smuggling ring had a major oopsie with a consignment. Probably the trailer got delayed for a couple of days, or the air holes weren't big enough, or something ... but it continued on to the hand-over point. Ihe kid/useful idiot driving the tractor for the next segment realized something smelled bad, checked out the back, panicked, and called the ambulance service. And the cops promptly arrested him because he's the only warm body they've got at the scene of a horrendous crime.

Notice that the driver was "arrested on suspicion of murder". This justifies holding him for questioning, but he hasn't actually been charged yet; my guess is he'll end up being hauled up on lesser offenses relating to human trafficking. What's going on now is a large-scale murder investigation. It might be downgraded to a lesser crime if they conclude it was a genuine accident, but it's still horrendous and involved a large scale smuggling ring. Worst case? 39 murders, possibly more to be linked in, and a major organized crime ring. Which should tell you why the authorities are so keen not to prejudice the jury (or leak information about an ongoing major anti-gang operation).

Final note: the UK police forces have been on the receiving end of gigantic spending cuts over the past decade, but still pride themselves on going to town on every murder (first degree homicide) investigation. It's the one crime they're guaranteed to pull all the stops out for, and a 39-fatality incident is a once-a-decade event.

231:

Additional note: in UK English, a "truck" is not a pick-up truck unless pick-up is specified (they're rare American imports). A truck or lorry is generally a goods vehicle with a load capacity larger than the PLG class (Private/Light Goods—covers cars, small vans, and pick-ups: IIRC it's about a 2.5 ton limit). So 2.5-10 tons for a non-articulated one. Articulated trucks or "artics" are typically forward-control tractors (the cab is on top of the engine, not behind it -- American-style long-nosed tractors are vanishingly rare in Europe) towing a trailer, just like in the US, except EU regulations require side-underrun bumpers and some other safety features that the US trucking industry has lobbied successfully against for decades. In general ones permitted on the UK roads are not necessarily lighter/smaller than their US equivalents but they are shorter and more maneuverable, of necessity (narrower roads!).

232:

"Notice that the driver was "arrested on suspicion of murder"."
It's also possible it is a way to keep driver locked safely away and safe( r ) from being silenced. People committing these crimes are not generally posessed of a surfeit of niceness.

233:

Update: I'm seeing reports that the truck driver has been released without charges. (Which strongly suggests the police are satisfied he had nothing to do with it. Turned up to pick up a trailer, found something horrible, called an ambulance, got his face splashed all over the tabloids as some kind of serial killer. Poor guy.)

234:

From what I heard on the BBC, it wasn't even his trailer in any real sense. He was someone who took a unit, picked up a trailer and delivered it. How he discovered the bodies is unclear.

235:

...but did not dare express publicly while I was working in academia, is that a lot of otherwise explained or highly implausible phenomena fall into place if you postulate that massed human belief can affect the laws of physics, or even just quantum mechanics probabilities. That was published in a respectable journal about a decade back, which I found interesting.
Link, or something to search on?
(I'll withhold discussion until post-300.)

236:

I've never talked to a truck driver* who liked "Cab overs", collision survivability was inferior to long nosed tractors, at least with the safety standards of half a century ago.

*Admittedly, a small sample, I'm not that social...

237:

Sorry - I can't remember.

238:

whitroth @ 211
THANK YOU
International Tax Fraud ... as in Brit Virgin Islans, Man, Jersey etc ...

RP @ 216
Yeah - "Shut up & calculate" (!)
Um, err ...
EXCEPT THAT ( # 722 ) IIRC R P Feynman rejected the CI, but not on those grounds ... he was a full-materialist, as I understand it & rejected all forms of CI mystcism

239:

There's a pretty large literature based on the idea that brains affect quantum probabilities, proposed as a way of dealing with the mind/body problem. (Google "quantum mind".) But I'm not familiar with any literature about the idea that *massed* human brain activity affects anything. (Except, of course The Laundry Files.)

240:

@167: Assuming one vote would naturally go to another is always a mistake. Here in BC the NDP routinely grumble about 'their' Green votes being stolen, and resulting in non-progressives getting elected. The Green voters I know would rather open a vein than vote NDP (who have historically thrown the environment under the bus at any sign of trouble provincially, and infamously campaigned against our carbon tax in one election).

Graydon @201: I think you are a bit hard on the NDP, but that may be my bias. They have managed to produce competent governance in a few provinces when elected, and there is a fairly common practice of moving up or down governmental levels. The current BC government seems to be doing an half decent job of at least beginning an effort on climate change while also making efforts in the social realm - though they are beholden to the Greens which does make a difference.

Ms Notley in Alberta did a creditable job of competent governance for her improbable term, though of course the natural governing party is now doing their best to scour the province of competence.

One very real (for backbench MPs) factor in the likelihood of no more elections until October 2021 is that it takes 6 years for an MP pension to vest. If the crop of trained seals that took office in 2015 force an election before then at least some of them won't get their bonbons. Given the high volatility of the current electorate, I doubt any self interested MPs will be willing to pull the plug.

The CPC are in a bind. Their electorate are passionately committed to being angry at the rest of Canada. Even when they were in charge for a decade and the oil was booming, the CPC grassroots carried a massive persecution complex. Now that they have lost and the oil is less profitable the whining is at a fever pitch.

If the CPC attempts to negotiate or compromise with the rest of the country their base will throw them to the wolves. If they pander to the prairies they will always be a Prairie party - basically Reform with some token Tories, much like before.

241:

I've never talked to a truck driver* who liked "Cab overs"

Hi. What would you like to talk about?

Most truck drivers spend a lot more time driving in tight spaces than colliding with things. Inside cities there are also length limits to think about - would you rather have an extra two pallets in the back or a pretty bonnet to look at all day?

Longnoses are popular in the outback, not least because it's easier to get at the generally much bigger engine, and when your length limit is 50m or more no-one cares that the tractor is a couple of metres longer. You also tend not to back road trains round corners, or for that matter do much in the way of tight corners.

242:

I think you are a bit hard on the NDP, but that may be my bias. They have managed to produce competent governance in a few provinces when elected

As I've said before, I grew up in Saskatchewan under the NDP. Social programs, yes, but also ran the province in the black, with a small sovereign wealth fund from resource extraction (much smaller than Alberta's Heritage Fund).

Progressive Conservatives got elected (what's now the Conservative Party) and promptly spent the saved money and ran the largest per capita provincial deficit in Canada.

Which is why the prevailing media slant that right-wing parties are fiscally responsible and left-wing parties are spendthrifts bugs me so much, because I know from lived experience that that's not so*.


*And it also ignores the federal Liberals under Cretien and Martin lowering the debt, while Harper (CPC) raised it.

243:

But I'm not familiar with any literature about the idea that *massed* human brain activity affects anything.
Yeah, that's the bit that makes me want to read the paper that EC noticed. (e.g. worship is one such activity.)

I'd expect than in this type of formulation one would normally try to minimize the number of exogenous (outside one's self or group) observers.


244:

Never said I wanted to talk, just offered an old recollection. "Cab overs" were a common sight when I was a child, now it's rare to see one that isn't abandoned in a field.

245:

Is it really though? Thinking globally :) - The remark I remember from decades back was that the average Caucasian in the mid-West was going to react poorly when the prosperity for labor was smeared across the globe and they reached equity with the average Chinese worker. Thinking locally, my wife has fond, fond memories of living in the third world - her family, though not rich, could afford servants. Systematic inequality is essentially required for a servant class. (Cause, if your time is worth the same and the job has a low barrier to entry - people do it themselves...) So - prosperity for all necessitates losers. (Barring the development of a fairly generalizable AI)

Thinking oddly, I also wonder how much of inequality is fake. I had a Chinese co-worker and his wife move back. They were definitly in the 1% - seeing as they had a lousy, tiny house in a nice area in California. But...that doesn't seem like a great standard of living. Is the person in Tennessee with the 4 bedroom mansion really worse off than the Californian living in a tiny apartment? If you corrected income for housing costs - et cetera - how much would inequality change? (Now, it might get worse - which would be intuitive - as minimum wage in CA is much worse then minimum wage in the Mid-West.)

Regarding meritocracy, I think the thesis is that competence, hard work, ability, et cetera play enough of a role to justify a broad range of outcomes. I'm not sure that holds up - if anything - social mobility is going down. That said, it does seem that, past a certain level of ability, people can still do well. I do suspect that, if you separated the population in quartiles by 'ability' (how would you even measure that? And separate from provided personal capital?) the correlation between race, class, et cetera and outcomes would grow weaker for the highest quartile.

There are a range of possible sensible, reasonably functional societies. Even the one we live in, currently, qualifies. (My standards are really low.) It could be improved - though the target probably differs based on the assessment metric. That said, there are some changes that could probably improve most people's metrics.

For example, the healthcare system is close to an antioptimum. It should be possible to enact a government-controlled system that provides better care to more people for significantly less expenditure. Objections seem to be somewhere between BS and ideological. Beyond that, health care risk aversion is one reason people don't start new businesses. Similarly, a basic income would tend to reduce risk related to job loss, hopping and would enhance labor bargaining power significantly - which would result in more efficient labor allocation. That and housing is too expensive - mostly because it is too easy to stop people building high density housing. Finally, given the racial history of the US, there's no excuse for not requiring body cameras and increasing accountability for officers of the law.

246:

"But what of someone who has been convinced to become a hihilist for someone else's profit? Has he been lied to? Isn't the proposition that "life is bad" a lie when it is imposed from without?"

Now, this is getting tricky. IMHO, almost everything anyone tells you is for their own profit or advantage in one way or another. If that can be taken as a given, then "caveat emptor" comes into play, which places primary responsibility for the consequences of a message on the recipient (that is, the one who enacts the consequences). My presumption is that the message recipient (the one who has been lied to) is also acting out of self-interest, and therefore should be treated as a rational actor with agency. I don't understand how anyone can "impose" a proposition on someone outside of North Korean brainwashing centers.

Besides, and this is important to understand, it's not entirely a lie. Like all effective propaganda, it's based on a kernal of truth. They really are losing something--something that has tangible and immediate benefit to themselves and their families. You and I may understand that they are getting something back for their loss, but that is longer term and harder to see.

"I don't see how you can have "meritocracy" if it's not egalitarian? How can it be "meritocracy" if only some are permitted to have merit based on the color of their skin or social standing because their grandfather managed to steal a great fortune?"

I used to know some guys in what in the US is referred to as the Militia Movement. One of the defining events in their lives was the memory of their parents moving out of their childhood neighborhoods because the blacks had moved in, who would therefore cause all sorts of social problems. They look at their old neighborhoods, see trash and vandalism and groups of young men in hoodies hanging out on the corner, and they blame race. "Black people screw everything up" one of them told me. They're wrong, but attributing these attitudes entirely to conservative lies is a mistake, and actually lets them off the hook too easily. They have an active role in the development of their own attitudes. A lot of it is based on personal experience, misinterpreted. This belief of mine is a twin edged sword--on the one hand I hold them responsible for their own racism, but on the other I also feel optimism that many of them can be reasoned with.

As for egalitarianism vs. meritocracy itself, that is a separate issue from racism. An American can be relatively racism free and still share the belief that the best should only go to the best, because that's just fair, and it serves the interest of the greater society. There are all sort of follow-on implications of these beliefs. For example, that there should be a business leader elite that simply has more skill in managing a large organization toward success than any of the employees would (even acting collectively). Another implication is that something similar should prevail in the political world. We are the most individualistic culture in the world--we just aren't attracted to collective solutions to social problems.

247:

The CBC analyzed the results and came up with a list of ridings where vote splitting may have influenced the result - no surprise but the NDP, Liberals, Bloc, and Conservatives all benefited in some ridings so it likely can be considered a non-effect for the country as a whole
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/vote-splitting-liberal-conservative-ndp-bloc-2019-election-1.5330440

Any calculation on forcing a new election will have a bunch of considerations, and your pension one will certainly be a factor. But the finances of the NDP will likely be a bigger factor - their fundraising has been so bad they were forced to take out a mortgage on their head office building at the beginning of the year.

You are right about the Conservatives - they have a problem in that their base, which is primarily Alberta, have boxed them into policies that the voters of Canada reject. They are in many ways similar to the Republicans in the US, but can't benefit from the combination of the 2 party system, gerrymandering districts, the electoral college, and the (in many ways undemocratic) senate.

On the other hand recent history seems to be suggesting the Canada, despite FPTP, is in an era of minority governments dominating election results. If one looks at the post 1990 results (the formation of the 2 regional parties in the Bloc and Reform) the only time there have been majorities is when the right wing vote was split (in the 90s between Reform and the PCs), or when the Bloc self-destructed (which gave us the Harper and Trudeau majorities). There will be other factors, but it could mean that polling won't indicate a good time for a new election anytime soon.

248:

CBC poll reporter tweeted today that the PPC only influenced the result in 7 ridings (out of 338), of which 6 went Liberal and 1 to the NDP. If all 7 went Conservative the election outcome would not change, and the Liberal/NDP would still have a combined 174 seats.

The recent Chinese immigrant voting pattern is not surprising given the way the Conservatives targeted them with Facebook ads during the election lying about the Liberals, claiming that the Liberals intended to legalize hard drugs.

249:

In the meantime, perhaps taking advantage of the media watching the Trump circus, Senate Republicans have apparently introduced a bill that would force schools to monitor their students online behaviour, as well as encouraging ISP and online platforms to share information with law enforcement along with a bunch of other stuff. Called the RESPONSE act.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/23/republicans-mass-shootings-school-surveillance

https://qz.com/1734420/what-a-new-us-bill-to-halt-mass-shootings-gets-right-and-wrong/


250:

I think you are a bit hard on the NDP, but that may be my bias.

Several provincial NDP parties have performed competently, no question. But the provincial parties are not the federal party, and vice-versa. (Queue up everyone who has ever had to explain that the BC provincial liberal party is the party of crony capitalism, low taxes, and environmental disdain, plausibly to the right of the left edge of the US Republican party.)

Then there's Rae and the Ontario debacle, which makes it mercilessly clear that a smart leader with the best of intentions but no practical political understanding can find a spectacular way to drag their majority into a pit where it proceeds to thrash to death.

In fundraising terms, the NDP has collapsed into an attempt to be respectable on Bay Street; they can't possibly. The people involved would feed their own livers to the homeless before they declared the NDP respectable. The cost -- ceasing to have any structural change in the platform -- means even long term supporters are increasingly meh. It was a big mistake, and it isn't obviously recoverable. I expect the next couple of election cycles to see the Greens devour the NDP.

(The Greens are by and large not politically effective; they can't separate feels from policy and are not good at noticing that you have to present a really convincing portrait of a better future if you want people to take an economic hit now.)

I don't think Justin can do anything much with the "we reject these facts, and demand new ones" going on in Alberta; not only is he the son of the Antichrist, ritually excoriated for things he hasn't actually done, the real solution -- put in an enormous amount of geothermal power -- would require both raising taxes and getting serious about climate change in a "no, really, we're about to break the existing economy past all recall" sort of way. That's long overdue, but the Liberals are the party of the status quo. It'd take a wiser man, and a stronger.

251:

In fairness to Justin, nobody around the world has come up with a way to really deal with the issue of climate change without breaking the economy in such a way that the are run out of power by masses with pitchforks.

I mean Germany is considered by many to be a "Green" country yet still gets 35%+ of their power from coal...

252:

You start by finding everyone with money in a tax haven and making them poor -- one pair of shoes, one shirt, three pair of socks, poor -- for the rest of their lives. It assigns guilt pretty accurately and it gets you a long way with "things are really going to change".

And then you get right up front with "food first, housing next" and you just do the thing. The technical problems aren't significant compared to the social and political difficulties.

It'd take capitalizing farmers; it'd take novel forms of collective organization. It'd take being really unsubtle about consigning the greedhead norms of the present to the ash heap of history. The limited liability corporation, all notions of keeping the loot, and the open resource cycle economy get consigned to the ash heap, too.

It's not difficult to see what needs to be done, or even how to do it; the hard part is that you can't get even close to the power to do it without identifying as rich. (Which Justin isn't; Justin's sort of vaguely comfortable. But Justin's life experience is that of someone who can expect to introduce his children to the Queen as he was himself introduced as a child.)

253:

WreRite @72:

https://www.nytimes.com/2000/05/21/books/another-fine-mess.html (One free article then paywall).

Easy workaround, for now:

1. Toggle off Javascript support.
2. Load the nytimes.com URL in a private browsing window.
3. Re-enable Javascript support.

Works because a private browsing window has all-new user state, hence the server thinks it's setting your HTTP cookie for the first time. Disabling JS is necessary to prevent JS-based sniffing detecting your use of private browsing.

Above works on many sites that haven't yet made JavaScript a functional necessity just to load substantive page contents at all. When nytimes.com escalates and actually requires JS, subtler measures are necessary, such as defanging or selectively ignoring served JS.

Mark Dennehy @200:

the ex-Northern Ireland secretary *quoting Michael fecking Collins in the Commons*

*blink* I am confirmed in my suspicion that someone is putting LSD in my coffee.

Greg Tingey @87:

Nonetheless a contract on Zuckerberg might be a good idea?

Those of us who live near him and the Faceplant installations tend to daydream about someone (for the record, someone else) garrotting him with Peter Thiel's intestines, FWIW. He and it are if anything worse as a local phenomenon than from a distance.

Charles H @55:

I think you need to read Adam Smith.

The popular understanding indeed doesn't match very well the real Adam Smith. My favourite example is one the late John Kenneth Galbraith took great joy in pointing out to captains of industry worshipping at Smith's altar: Smith was opposed to 'joint stock companies', the term of that era for what are now called corporations. He felt that history had shown joint stock companies cannot compete with smaller firms, attributed this fact to certain organisational deficits, and concluded that joint stock companies should be established only under rare circumstances.


On the overall subject of this page, pondering the difficulty Remainer voters have had, over the last few years, coming up with sound tactical-voting party selection (outside Scotland), I cannot help speculating that their, um, zugzwang(?) dilemma is a previously under appreciated weakness the Westminster system's had all along -- specifically the baleful effect of FPTP combined with gerrymandering and single-member representation for districts. I'm certainly saying nothing new here: Commenters all the way back to John Stuart Mill have spoken of the shutout tendency against minor parties.

At the risk of sounding like a voting-theory geek (and Hugo Award voter), maybe the long-term fix is a ranked-choice algorithm instead of FPTP, redistricting by a neutral body, and proportional allocation of seats.

Prof. Denis Mollison of Heriot Watts University outlined what looks like a workable system in 2014 in his paper Fair Votes in Practice: STV for Westminster. It was of course ignored except by voting-theory geeks, and probably would require pitchforks and torches in the street to get The Powers That Be to permit it.

A fair voting system, it should be warned, brings fairness even where you don't like it very much, e.g., it would probably give the likes of UKIP, NF, and BNP more participation.

254:

Called the RESPONSE act.
Also at The Guardian, a day earlier, and mentioned in that piece:
Under digital surveillance: how American schools spy on millions of kids - Fueled by fears of school shootings, the market has grown rapidly for technologies that monitor students through official school emails and chats (Lois Beckett, 22 Oct 2019)
(bold mine)
Some proponents of school monitoring say the technology is part of educating today’s students in how to be good “digital citizens”[0], and that monitoring in school helps train students for constant surveillance after they graduate.
“Take an adult in the workforce. You can’t type anything you want in your work email: it’s being looked at,” Bill McCullough, a Gaggle spokesperson, said. “We’re preparing kids to become successful adults.”


This would be true if they also taught ways to avoid surveillance by controlling authorities (government, workplace, etc) and other potentially hostile entities.

[0] of Oceania?

255:

Regarding the truck driver who called in the 39 bodies in "his" trailer, I am not surprised at the news that he's been released. As Charlie and others have pointed out, a lot of times a trucker has no idea what's in his sealed trailer.

That said, we've had several ugly "bunch of dead bodies in a trailer" scenarios in the USA in the last few years that have resulted in serious criminal charges for the trucker. In one case (I don't have links) he was parked in a Walmart parking lot and bystanders called police because the pounding and yelling of the trapped and dying people in the trailer became audible. The driver had a hard time convincing anybody that he didn't hear nothin'.

This is my long way around the barn way of saying that it makes sense with 39 dead people that a careful and professional investigation would involve the arrest and excruciatingly detailed interrogation of the driver -- but if his "didn't know nuthin', didn't hear nuthin'" story checks out, we wouldn't expect him to be held or charged.

256:

Rick Moen @ 253
OK I'll bite ..
Assume I'm in either Chrome or Edge, ok?
1. Toggle off Javascript support. HOW?
Where do I go to do this?

Because there are several sites that do this & such a workaround would be VERY useful

Answers on a postcard, please!

Bill Arnold @ 254
Just copying what the murderous fucking Hanare doing isn't it?
[ Recent reports of gang-rapes & semi-mass dissapearances of Uighurs are even worse than previous. There's a genocide going on right before our eyes - & like Adolf, no-one is doing anything about it. ]

Bacchus @ 255
Apparently he is still (using the old phrase ) "helping police with theor enquiries" ... but it seems obvious that he was not responsible for the deaths.

Elsewhere
Another step towards Gilead
And BOZO & the tories seem to be tearing themseleves apart over what to do next, whilst the mop-head is being accused of misleading Parliament & has (again) evaded a select committe enquory ... this, surely, cannot continue?

257:

1. Toggle off Javascript support. HOW?
Where do I go to do this?


Turning off Javascript entirely is presumably in your Preferences settings somewhere.

It's more useful to be able to do this selectively, blocking it for certain sites and allowing it for others. I've got an add-on that does this for Mozilla but a quick web search turns up similar things for Chrome such as ScriptBlock and Sybu. Do those look useful for you?

258:

It was a one-off paper, and got universally ignored (as far as I know). I was also very busy, and did not have time to read more than its abstract. I could explain the basic logic. It's about as testable as any form of cosmology.

259:

For those following the horrible lorry deaths story, the latest (still scant) details:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-50162617

It looks like the driver has not been released, but it is not clear whether there is any intent to charge him or whether he is still under suspicion.

260:

Scott Sanford @ 257:
GOT IT - thnks for the hint

Chrome/settings / Advanced / Site Settings / Javascript / allowed/not

261:

I learned to drive in my grandfather’s car, and turning the high beam on or off was a foot switch to the left of the clutch pedal. In essentially every other car I have ever driven it involved manipulating the indicator lever in some way. To understand how you would turn the high beam on or off in your car, without specifying what kind of car it is, I’d suggest referring to the manual (and I honestly don’t know one end of a Land Rover from another, so even more so).

Your question here is equivalent to how do I turn high beam on or off? The answer is that it depends on your car, or rather web browser. Looking in “Settings” is probably a good start.

262:

I did the dance of Java off / load website / close window / Java on and after a while it got old. Installing an extension let most of this happen automagically, saving me time and effort. I hope it works for you.

263:

The recent Chinese immigrant voting pattern is not surprising given the way the Conservatives targeted them with Facebook ads during the election lying about the Liberals, claiming that the Liberals intended to legalize hard drugs.

Not just that. (And don't forget the We-Chat ads that somehow weren't declared by either the platform or the party…) The mainland Chinese immigrant vote trended Conservative back in Harper days.

A friend of mine from mainland China (been here two decades now) explained it to me this way.

First, society in the PRC is racist and homophobic, so those parts of the right-wing platform resonate with them. Canadian-born-Chinese remember the head tax, but more recent immigrants don't care about that and do care that too many brown and black folks are being let into their safe haven country.

Second, recent Conservatives in Canada are much more about favours and connections than the other parties (which at least make the effort to appear to be treating everyone equally). Given that guanxi is how the PRC runs, this is familiar and natural to mainland Chinese — they know how to play the game to get what they want. (Ignore what's said publicly or written in a regulation, make personal connections, trade favours.)

No idea how right she is, but it matches the behaviour of relatively recent immigrants I've encountered at work (until recently we had a huge ESL program, mostly from the PRC).

264:

I'm calling the lorry deaths story an entirely foreseeable side-effect of Brexit.

The dead were all Chinese nationals, which strongly suggests labour trafficking.

The essentially racist/xenophobic rhetoric around Brexit has led to emigration from the UK hitting a ten year high in 2019, as EU nationals head home in droves. (Not aided by the Home Office utterly fucking up over allowing them to register for permanent residence, the Tories blowing hot and cold over their status, and the whole Hostile Environment policy.)

This has led to crops and fruit rotting in the fields.

And there's an ongoing low-level drip of news stories about gangmasters and illegal immigrants held in near-slavery conditions on farms.

Putting it all together, I'm pretty sure that if you could track the spot price of a trafficked field labourer on the UK black market you'd see that prices have spiked in 2019. Which means profits, which means organized crime.

265:

Damian @ 261
My current 300Tdi has a stalk-operated dip - I think the serie II dis likewise, as did my Rover P6 years ago, but the P4 had a foot-toggle - very common in the 1950's

Charlie
Perversely ..
Brexit means FEWER pale-pink "Europeans" & many more subservient "wogs & coons" to do the slave-labour for dem Massas' - yes?
THe vicious racist irony of it all is, obviously, not lost on me!
[ Do note the quotes - but that is how the bastards driving all this will speak amongst themseleve, when others are not listening ] Meanwhile, I'm just wondering how long before they turn on the jews ....
I'm also fairly certian that the vicious hate being spewd out against Mr Speaker Bercow is for just this "reason"

266:

Yes, very much, but with one dissention.

I am not convinced that the Home Office behaviour IS a fuck-up, in the sense that they are attempting something and making a pig's ear of it. I have been deeply suspicious that the organisation has been favouring such trafficking for decades, possibly because it keeps prices down. Whether the corruption originates at the political level or the mandarinate or both, and whether there is any individual corruption (as distinct from supporting it as 'good for the economy'), is something I can't guess. I think that their policies are achieving exactly what they intend.

As you know, I weight my judgements almost entirely on what people and organisations do, as distinct from say, and everything I have read over several decades points in that direction.

267:

I have been deeply suspicious that the organisation has been favouring such trafficking for decades, possibly because it keeps prices down.

That implies that the Home Office institutionally gives a shit about the economy. I'm pretty certain that they don't: see Theresa May's budget priorities (while she was PM) as supporting evidence.

The Home Office is the natural home of Stalinists -- authoritarians who believe we could live in the New Jerusalem tomorrow if everybody would just fucking shut up and do as they're told. So the solution to every problem is another beat-down. Economics (and the Treasury) are all about feedback loops which literally make no sense to authoritarians (because in the real world, people game the system and actions generate pushback).

The government isn't a monolith. It's a loosely bound hive of competing interests, and civil servants tend to stick (and get promoted) in the institutions they are temperamentally suited for. So this sort of shit is what happens when the gears don't mesh properly -- little people get crushed between the teeth.

268:

#27: > You're already looking at unrecoverable harm from Brexit; the money wants Hard Brexit for no more complex reason than that maximizes the value of their shorts on the pound.

I suspect it's a bit more than that. That horrid EU thing does things like champion workers rights, clamp down on big business and things like that. All very nasty if you're a really-big international business. Also, I think one of the difficulties for UK businesses is the cost of labour. I suspect though that has been mitigated to some extent by inbound migration. But even with the inbound migration, I would guess that the cost of labour is expensive compared to other 3rd World/developing nations. Plus there's the fact that the Pound has historically been quite highly valued which is horrible for repatriating your earnings in foreign currencies.

So, get out of the EU, then pound devalues significantly making exports more viable and you get more Pounds for your foreign bucks. Throw out as much of the EU labour legislation etc. as you can get away with and then start the hard yards of really cutting back on everything.

269:

Postcard version, because browser security settings I can do something about...
(Scary political tides, not so much.)

Chrome is dead easy.
NYT as an example
Load the site.
Click on padlock icon in address bar, then cookies
Scroll down the list of cookie domains until you get to the ones from nytimes.com and nyt.com. Select each one (you can select the domain you don't need to select each cookie) and click block.
Click done, it will say you need to reload, don't yet.
Now to disable javascript for the site, click padlock again, then "site settings".
Go down to javascript and switch it to blocked.
Close the settings page and click reload.
You should now be good to go without affecting any other sites or having to go through a privacy mode/reloading dance.

270:

@269: Muchas gracias! I've wanted to figure this out ever since NYT and WaPo started blocking private browsing.

271:

I mean Germany is considered by many to be a "Green" country yet still gets 35%+ of their power from coal...

The US has three almost completely independent regional electric grids. In 2018, the western grid got 40% of its power from renewables and only 21% from coal. No one talks about how "green" it is.

272:

Well, yes, but .... I didn't mean that they actually either gave a shit, or understood economics, but that it was used as an excuse. My main point was that their de facto tolerance of human trafficking is just too consistent to be plausibly merely a side effect of their authoritarianism.

And they are likely to dislike EU workers because those workers have rights, and their own governments put pressure on the UK when the Home Office allows those rights to be trodden on (or treads on them itself).

273:

Organised crime, indeed. I wonder where you could find an organisation, or organisations, that have decades of experience in facilitating smuggling operations of all stripes and much experience in avoiding and evading the law?

Perhaps a reach, but also perhaps not.

The driver comes from close to South Armagh…

(Aside: We're about 28 comments from someone parachuting in and explaining how they pointed this out months ago, in vague oracular terms, and how we're all … idiots.)

274:

My read is that their "tolerance" of human trafficking is a symptom of their incompetence, not actual tolerance.

You're seeing a conspiracy where I see flagrant incompetence.

275:

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

276:

Doesn't work that way unfortunately in this day and age. The UK, as a country with essentially no natural resources, must therefore import most/all of the inputs for manufacturing.

So while a lower pound would seem to help when selling outside of the UK, any gains are lost because the raw materials costs have gone up.

Not to mention that you are now adding regulatory and paperwork burdens onto the exporter that they didn't have previously for exports to the EU.

There is a reason business is very pro-remain unless they have a CEO who wants Brexit for ideological reasons.

277:

Conspiracy is too strong a word, and incompetence implies that they are actively trying to stop it. Compare it with the abuses in detention centres - there is not a scrap of evidence that they are trying to stop that, or even give a fuck, and it isn't implausible that it's tolerated in the chance that it would discourage people from seeking asylum. I know that I am unusual, but I regard deliberate negligence or incompetence to be as culpable as actual commission of the offences.

To Dave_the_Proc: ugh. I hadn't thought of that, but had heard reports that they had included people smuggling into their repertoire, as well as brothel-keeping, drug-pushing and extortion.

278:

Also, I think one of the difficulties for UK businesses is the cost of labour.

Nah, it's nigh-all management incompetence.

One evidence for that is the confusion between cost -- what did we pay? -- and value -- what's the ratio between benefit and cost? (Confusion is being nice and supposing they're not actively pro-slavery.)

So you get business decisions made on the basis of per-worker costs; if you hold value constant, offshoring generally increases labour costs. What it does let you do is hide a value drop in a price drop, and increase the amount of money that's retained. UK workers are generally very cheap in value terms. (that is, UK business management culture has successfully depressed wages.)

One of the really simple, clear examples is what happened to denim jeans; you can no longer get for love nor money new production denim jeans of comparable value than what the union workers produced up to the early 80s. The profit-maximizing machine ate the value.

279:

Perhaps because one grid out of 3 doesn't mean much, and the definition of renewables isn't always great for climate change or the environment in general

The US government states 2018 production was 63.5% fossil fuel, 19.3% nuclear, and 17.1% renewables.

Unfortunately the renewables category includes burning things (albeit only 1.5%) but also 7% hydro. While hydro is (once built) "green" in that it doesn't involve burning anything, it often comes at not just an initial ecological cost but dams on rivers can also have ongoing ecological costs, thus why the tendency these days is to remove dams rather than build them.

280:

any gains are lost because the raw materials costs have gone up.

It's worse than that.

Commodities have two prices; the extraction cost and the market cost. If the extraction cost exceeds the market cost for any length of time, the general market mechanisms dismantle the industry. Keeping the market swings from dismantling something important during six months of market cost going over the extraction cost isn't trivial and requires far more industrial policy than anybody in the "markets suffice" organizational sphere actually has.

281:

I wonder how this whole Brexit thing is going to end? It's thrown our whole normal relatively stable political system into complete upheaval.

From WIU the "Boris Brexit bill" passed its first hurdle in the House of Commons with a majority. So far, apart from "we don't want a no-deal", that's the only Brexit option that's actually achieved a majority in the HoC, albeit only once and at the initial ask of many. It fell down on the "we want to rush things through in three days" test. Maybe the Boris withdrawal bill can get through, but that seems unlikely to be quick enough to complete by 31st October. Also if the bill gets too heavily amended away from what the Govt. want then presumably, since it's their business, they could just pull it? Whatever you think of it, it seems that the Boris bill is the only current potential end in sight. But that probably needs a shortish extension to see if it can get through both houses, which I wouldn't like to say is guaranteed.

The recent events in the HoC seem to mimic roughly what's going on in the UK as a whole. There's probably a slight majority for Brexit, either because the MP believes in Brexit, or because they reluctantly conclude that having asked the people what they want, you can't really go against that. The problem for Brexit however, is that whilst there might be a slight majority for "Brexit", there isn't any majority once you say: "OK, you want Brexit, but what sort of Brexit would you like exactly?"

The only other thing that there seems to be consensus on in the HoC, is for a general election, albeit contingent on first having an extension to Brexit. I'm not sure how that would turn out, but I would fear another no-clear-majority situation - potentially even worse than where we currently are. The Tory party face the possibility of losing votes to the Brexit party if they can't come to some sort of accommodation. That accommodation doesn't have to be a deal between them - the Brexit party could just decide that it makes no sense for them to compete against the Tories in non-marginal seats if they think they'll get most/all of what they want if the Tories win. The risk for the opposition parties is a splitting of the opposition vote between multiple non-Tory parties. I'm not sure however how much the opposition parties are likely to collaborate amongst themselves - I would guess probably not much if any. So then it comes down to how well individual constituencies manage some sort of "tactical voting" scheme to not let an "undesirable" (to them) candidate sneak in. That could be undesirable in terms of a political party, but also undesirable in terms of their remain/leave position.

In terms of going back to the public, it seems to me that for fairness you have to offer three choices:

* Remain,
* Deal Brexit (whichever is on the table and deliverable at that point),
* No-Deal Brexit.

But I can't see the Brexiteers going for that because they'll say "that's not fair, you're splitting our vote across two pots whereas there's only a single remain pot." Maybe you can get around that with some sort of cunning proportional representation scheme like STV, but I would think that would be controversial in itself!

It's not clear to me that there's an available and deliverable non-acrimonious end to this. It seems, whatever happens, it is going to leave some close to 50% of the population deeply unhappy with the outcome. And then there's the potential unhappiness in Scotland and Northern Ireland. I suspect though that Northern Ireland and Wales are not currently that likely to leave the Union at this point.

282:

My main point was that their de facto tolerance of human trafficking is just too consistent to be plausibly merely a side effect of their authoritarianism.

Sounds like illegal agricultural labour in the US, from what I've heard.

283:

Yeah. It's not incompetence and it's not conspiracy; it's systemic. There's a consensus; slavery is fine if it raises profits.

284:

I wonder how this whole Brexit thing is going to end? It's thrown our whole normal relatively stable political system into complete upheaval.

Spoiler: it's never going to end.

(At least, not within my lifetime -- unless Scotland leaves the UK and rejoins the EU, in which case as a Scottish citizen and resident it's not my problem any more).

Leaving aside the wealthy hedge fund backers and the billionaires, Brexit taps into the roots of English nationalist identity.

Brexit is a utopian project. Like all utopian projects it can't fail therefore if it fails to produce the right results (a halcyon return to a 1950s utopia that never existed) it can only have been betrayed. So there will be witch hunts and purges and doubling down on Brexit, much like the French and Russian and Iranian revolutions (although hopefully less murderous).

NB: a utopian project doesn't necessarily create something we would think of as a utopia; it just means that its supporters think it's a utopia. For a modern depiction in fiction see Gilead in "The Handmaid's Tale", or Oceania in "1984". These are nightmarish dystopias to our way of thinking, but to a religious dominionist or an authoritarian absolutist they're desirable outcomes. Ditto Brexit, to an English nationalist who thinks the British Empire was a good thing, fondly remembers the verse in the royal anthem about "Rebellious Scots to crush", and can't understand why Dublin doesn't want to join us in taking back control and recovering our lost glory.

Anyway ... Brexiters and Remainers have polarized, diametrically opposed definitions of their core identity as citizens, like monarchists vs. republicans, nationalists vs. internationalists. The remainers want to return to a status quo ante that the brexiters see as occupation by a foreign power: the brexiters want an "autonomy" that the remainers see as stripping them of their citizenship rights in a greater whole.

To this extent, the precise type of brexit we end up with is irrelevant: if we end up with brexit at all, it will tend towards the most extreme, insular, rabidly xenophobic and nationalist strain over time, while if we end up rejecting brexit the gammon will be upset and they won't go away.

285:

Charlie Stross @ 230, 231 & 233: Update: I'm seeing reports that the truck driver has been released without charges. (Which strongly suggests the police are satisfied he had nothing to do with it. Turned up to pick up a trailer, found something horrible, called an ambulance, got his face splashed all over the tabloids as some kind of serial killer. Poor guy.)

Elderly Cynic @ 234: "From what I heard on the BBC, it wasn't even his trailer in any real sense. He was someone who took a unit, picked up a trailer and delivered it. How he discovered the bodies is unclear.

That's what I was wondering about, based on the U.S. model where the driver is frequently a contractor (who may own the tractor or be leasing it from a finance company or may be an employee of an independent owner). The trucking company owns the trailers (or may be leasing them from a finance company) & the driver is basically told to "Go here & pick up this trailer and deliver it there by such and such a date.

ASIDE: What little I know about the U.S. trucking industry comes from people I know complaining about how hard it is to make a living as an independent owner/operator - those "trucks" aren't any cheaper over here. Apparently the predominance of long nose tractors in the U.S. has to do with comfort on really long hauls, which Europe & the UK have comparitively few. But we do have them in the U.S.

Charlie's surmise that the driver went to pick up the trailer, noticed a smell & looked inside makes sense, although this morning I'm seeing reports the refrigeration was on and the temperature inside the trailer had been as low as -25° C.

How does that ferry work? Is there a tractor attached during the journey or is it like the U.S. intermodal trains where a "Tug" is used to load the trailers and another tug unloads them at the other end? Although looking at images just now it looks like they now use a container crane to load the trailers on trains. Will the U.K. police have access to the driver who delivered the trailer to the ferry?

286:

Charlie @ 274
flagrant incompetence ... well we are talking about "British Management" aren't we?

.. @ 284
Brexit taps into the roots of English nationalist identity. I strongly object to that ... there are some of us who regard themselves as "quiet nationalists" who loathe everything Brexit stands for ( Especially since I was nearly conned by them ... )
What's wrong with being a English/Scots/irish/etc etc ... nationalist & ALSO being a happy European? No conflict at all - to me, at any rate.
However: Brexiters and Remainers have polarized, diametrically opposed definitions of their core identity as citizens - I'm horribly afraid you are correct ... the Brexiteers remind me of two damned past Brit movements;
1) Those toasting "the king over the water"
Or - much worse
2) The RC establishment 1553-58 - whose trail of murder, torture & intolerance left a mark in England until at least 1829 ( or maybe 1779 ) ... but in Ireland, right up to the present day.
NOT a pleasant prospect.
Agree re. the "It must be the fault of the EVIL foreigners!" meme to come when Brexit fails - see also persecution of jews ... [ Fails either way incidentally: They will start agitating if we withdraw AT 50 ... & they will start agitating about 2 weeks after a hard Brexit when reality bites & they refuse to recognise it. ]

287:

284:

> Spoiler: it's never going to end.

Yeah, I can see it... You took a deal so we didn't get a "proper Brexit". If we'd have had a proper Brexit... Or variations of the possible alternatives.

Still, at least there's Invisible Sun to look forward to :-).

288:

It's about successor states. We're not keeping the present; I mean, we never do, but when you're getting your history at the decade/week rate, it starts being a directed set of choices. And those currently powerful want to be at least as powerful in the future. (If they cared about the fate of others, they wouldn't be currently powerful.)

(The only systemic fix for this is a very flat power gradient.)

The ... I dunno, fix is the wrong word; the response, let's call it the response, ought not to be "status quo"; that's now one with Thebes the Golden. The response ought to be "Schengen", "Euro", "implement the Heineken map" (Full Heptarchy!). One might not get it, but it gives the gammon something to have to respond to; it's hard to get a prefered outcome when you are solely responding to the other fellow's latest clever notion.

289:

Oh, I think they will. They'll go back to where they came from (ahahaha): back to Dregabsland (Don't REally Give A Big Shit), to consume large quantities of beer and fatty pork and shout at the other football team.

After all, the current situation is purely an artefact of propaganda: it isn't actually all that long ago that nobody really did give a big shit; EU membership was just something to grumble about to prevent life becoming too flat, and a long way down the various surveyed lists of things people base their votes on. Propaganda input is needed not only to move it up those lists, but to keep it up there against the forces of ordinary apathy pulling it back down to its normal position. And the forces of apathy get stronger over time, while the propaganda force gets weaker, the more so the more nothing actually happens.

The binary classification into "Leave" and "Remain" factions obscures the growth of a third mode of thought as the genuine affiliation of people from both sides of the binary division: the "I don't really care any more, I just want them all to shut the fuck up about it already" group. Once the decision is finally made one way or the other, a whole lot of people will sigh in relief and openly admit their adherence to that mode.

The fear that revoking A50 will forever reduce the country to a state of permanent chaos overrun with rioting gammons (and the corollary that the risk is therefore not worth taking) is a misguided generalisation of a more specific concern applicable to Tory MPs for whom "chaos" means "not voting Tory", and "forever" means "as far as the next election". On that short timescale there surely will remain enough discontent to ruin their personal chances. Me, though, I find it kind of hard to be sorry at the idea of the Tory party being fucked.

I reckon the more serious long-term unrest hazard is leaving, not remaining. Because then there will be actual real stuff to get upset about rather than just propaganda, so the propaganda fatigue effect isn't there, and it will be something that happens to all people regardless of their leave/remain affiliation, instead of something that didn't happen to half of them.

290:

Still, at least there's Invisible Sun to look forward to :-).

Invisible Sun got delayed repeatedly because:

* My editor died (he was also a personal friend)
* My father died
* My mother died

Each time someone dies while I'm working on a book the book gets associated with death in my subconscious and my muse goes on strike for six months, minimum. Which is why Invisible Sun is so overdue.

It'll happen eventually; in the meantime, will a Laundry novella and the first book in a new spin-off series set in the Laundry universe keep you happy? (Because nobody died during the writing of those ...)

291:

Erwin @ 245: Is it really though? Thinking globally :) - The remark I remember from decades back was that the average Caucasian in the mid-West was going to react poorly when the prosperity for labor was smeared across the globe and they reached equity with the average Chinese worker. Thinking locally, my wife has fond, fond memories of living in the third world - her family, though not rich, could afford servants. Systematic inequality is essentially required for a servant class. (Cause, if your time is worth the same and the job has a low barrier to entry - people do it themselves...) So - prosperity for all necessitates losers. (Barring the development of a fairly generalizable AI)

Wouldn't it depend on HOW "prosperity ... was smeared across the globe"? Sure Americans won't like it if you TAKE AWAY their prosperity to give it to others (whether in the U.S. or in China) ... but that's the LIE I keep pointing to. Prosperity for others doesn't require taking anything. And leaving aside whether having a "servant class" is rational, the color of your skin or ethnic origins should not condemn you to perpetual servitude.

The GOP & the 0.01% keep talking about "pulling oneself up by one's own bootstraps", ignoring the fact that they did not do that themselves. Inherited wealth & privilege and the power to game a rigged economic system to ensure the overwhelming majority of the wealth generated comes to you is NOT "pulling oneself up by one's own bootstraps". And that ignores the system being rigged to keep people at the low end from even owning shoes, much less boots & straps.

Regarding meritocracy, I think the thesis is that competence, hard work, ability, et cetera play enough of a role to justify a broad range of outcomes. I'm not sure that holds up - if anything - social mobility is going down. That said, it does seem that, past a certain level of ability, people can still do well. I do suspect that, if you separated the population in quartiles by 'ability' (how would you even measure that? And separate from provided personal capital?) the correlation between race, class, et cetera and outcomes would grow weaker for the highest quartile.

How are you going to separate out "provided personal capital"? Are you going to count just those who manage to rise on their own and ignore anyone who inherited wealth? What percentage of the "highest quartile" is made up of people who got there by "competence, hard work, ability, et cetera" and what percentage of that "highest quartile" inherited their position?

"Social mobility" is being restricted. It's not a "meritocracy" if some are "born on third base & believe they got there by hitting a triple". And it's definitely NOT "meritocracy" if the color of your skin and/or ethnic origins determine whether or not you're even allowed to play. IF you are automatically selected for the team because of your family's wealth & position in society, while others are denied even the chance to "try out for the team" because they were born the wrong color or have the wrong ethnic heritage or their grandfather didn't manage to steal a great fortune ... that's NOT "meritocracy".

Claiming that it IS, is just another lie.

I don't think we'll ever be able to get rid of privilege. That's just not in human nature. But government shouldn't be enforcing privilege.

292:

will a Laundry novella and the first book in a new spin-off series set in the Laundry universe keep you happy?

Temporarily. In the long term, we are insatiable.

293:

"it isn't implausible that it's tolerated in the chance that it would discourage people from seeking asylum."

I thought that was the whole point. To create a flux of failed asylum seekers who tell all their mates "don't go to Britain, it's worse than it is here, the fuckers put you in a concentration camp". Otherwise we'd either deport them straight away or let them live in decent conditions in the meantime (in the community, or failing that, no worse than Cat D prison equivalent).

294:

in the meantime, will a Laundry novella and the first book in a new spin-off series set in the Laundry universe keep you happy? (Because nobody died during the writing of those ...)

But seriously... that sounds awesome.

295:

Isn't that one of the 'models'? That we can't understand it, but we can compute it. (This was described as the "shut up and calculate" interpretation at the seminar I went to at Perimeter Institute a few years ago.)

That's the Copenhagen Interpretation. It's widely accepted because it's the simplest, in some senses. I tend to prefer the EWG Multiworld interpretation, but there's no observable difference in the predictions they make.

296:

> Invisible Sun got delayed repeatedly because:

I'm not complaining about the pushbacks. I'm aware that any pre-announced release date is tentative, and that "life may happen." Your reasons are perfectly understandable, and you have my sympathy and condolences, for what that's worth. (You know, the whole "thoughts and prayers thing"...) I hope you're working through your grief in your own way and time. In the meantime, don't do any more work than you feel you want to and need to. Besides, my Amazon pre-order currently says 20th Jan - albeit I wasn't paying much attention to the year! I think that's potentially close enough to likely "post Brexit" as to be something welcome to look forward to as a post-Brexit tonic. What would Miriam do if faced with Brexit?

> in the meantime, will a Laundry novella and the first book in a new spin-off series set in the Laundry universe keep you happy?

Since I wasn't even vaguely expecting those that would be great!

297:

Both the individual and mass versions of the idea are of course fun to play with authorially, so there is a lot of fiction written about them. They are also attractive ideas to persuade yourself that they actually apply, and it is easy to do, given such things as observation/confirmation bias, and the inherent impracticality of testing many of the consequences. So there is also a lot of festering bollocks written about them (with a greater or lesser claim to be serious). But they tend to be pretty bloody useless ideas when it comes to making bridges stay up.

298:

D. Mark Key @ 246: Besides, and this is important to understand, it's not entirely a lie. Like all effective propaganda, it's based on a kernal of truth. They really are losing something--something that has tangible and immediate benefit to themselves and their families. You and I may understand that they are getting something back for their loss, but that is longer term and harder to see.

And that's where I disagree. They aren't "getting something back for their loss" because they aren't losing anything and it's a LIE to tell them that they are.

I used to know some guys in what in the US is referred to as the Militia Movement. One of the defining events in their lives was the memory of their parents moving out of their childhood neighborhoods because the blacks had moved in, who would therefore cause all sorts of social problems. They look at their old neighborhoods, see trash and vandalism and groups of young men in hoodies hanging out on the corner, and they blame race. "Black people screw everything up" one of them told me. They're wrong, but attributing these attitudes entirely to conservative lies is a mistake, and actually lets them off the hook too easily. They have an active role in the development of their own attitudes. A lot of it is based on personal experience, misinterpreted. This belief of mine is a twin edged sword--on the one hand I hold them responsible for their own racism, but on the other I also feel optimism that many of them can be reasoned with.

I agree that some racism is self-reinforcing, and that those people need to clean up their act, but I'm still asking, "HOW did they come to those mistaken beliefs?" Not excusing them; I just want to know where they came from.

As for egalitarianism vs. meritocracy itself, that is a separate issue from racism. An American can be relatively racism free and still share the belief that the best should only go to the best, because that's just fair, and it serves the interest of the greater society. There are all sort of follow-on implications of these beliefs. For example, that there should be a business leader elite that simply has more skill in managing a large organization toward success than any of the employees would (even acting collectively). Another implication is that something similar should prevail in the political world. We are the most individualistic culture in the world--we just aren't attracted to collective solutions to social problems.

Racism and meritocracy are NOT separate issues. There can be no meritocracy in a racist society. You can't have a meritocracy where "best" is defined by the color of your skin, your ethnic heritage or religious background.

You can't have a meritocracy without egalitarianism. "Egalitarianism" isn't about outcomes, it's EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to do your best; to be the "best" you can be irregardless of your race, creed or color. Everybody gets the chance to try and succeed OR fail ... the system doesn't give anyone an unfair advantage or an unfair handicap. You can't "fail up" in a meritocracy.

How is your "business leader elite" to be chosen? Is it those who best grasp the concepts of managing the large organization? Or is it a self selecting minority based on nepotism, crony capitalism and white privilege ... "I'm the best choice for CEO, 'cause my daddy was CEO, and his daddy before him and besides, that other guy is a [racist epithet]."

I understand how human nature works, but don't justify a system that favors some because they were born into high status & privilege and punishes others because they were not by calling it a "meritocracy". That's a LIE.

And again, who benefits when society accepts these lies? And how do we build a society that is not based on those lies?

299:

But they tend to be pretty bloody useless ideas when it comes to making bridges stay up.

Indeed. As a former (now retired) neuroscientist, I am unable to discern any scientific merit in the quantum mind lit.

300:

"Egalitarianism" isn't about outcomes

Egalitarianism is totally about outcomes.

If it's not about outcomes, it doesn't persist.

(Of course you want a range; we're social primates, status is very important. But you don't much range; one order of magnitude is for this purpose plenty some lots.)

301:

"don't go to Britain, it's worse than it is here, the fuckers put you in a concentration camp"

I recall reading that Britain detained refugees from the Nazi's (as possible spies) and conditions were so bad that some who had escaped Nazi prisons committed suicide.

Can't locate the reference. It was a book on the Kobo I gave to a friend, so I don't have it anymore. Not certain how true it is.

But looking at the Boer War, yeah, the Empire has form for nastiness…

302:

"...Theory because of its inability to explain (as opposed merely to calculate)..."

...which is normal. What varies is how many levels you have to go down through before you get to axioms. And things are only explained when there aren't any axioms.

303:

Pigeon @ 289
The fear that revoking At50 will forever reduce the country to a state of permanent chaos overrun with rioting gammons
Yes - they are shouting VERY LOUDLY & making lots of fuss & everybody seems scared of them ... exacttly the same tactics the US "South" used 1840-61 - threats & bullying & they were allowed to get away with it ... the cure was a lot worse in the end.
These people are bullies - stand up to them!

304:

The kind of reception we gave to at least some refugees from the Nazis is pretty horrifying just to discover as a historical fact. I don't recall offhand anything about the physical conditions being substandard compared to those for other detainees such as PoWs (not that those were necessarily great), but I imagine that the considerably greater horror of being a refugee and then finding that's what you get would itself be enough to drive some people to suicide.

305:

BAD NEWS: A majority of voters in England, Wales and Scotland believe that violence against MPs is a “price worth paying” in order to get their way on Brexit, an academic survey has found. Reported in the Guardian just now, study by political science departments at Cardiff and Edinburgh universities, both leave and remain factions (although more leave) think violence is both likely and a price worth paying if it gets them their preferred outcome.

When I talk about this feeling ominously like Yugoslavia circa 1991, I am not kidding: this isn't about economics, it's about self-definition of identity, and people who feel their identity is under attack are likely to get violent.

I want Scotland to UKexit before it gets sucked into the coming English civil war.

306:

Windscale @281:

Maybe you can get around that with some sort of cunning proportional representation scheme like STV, but I would think that would be controversial in itself

You're actually confusing two concepts, there. 'STV' is an example of a ranked-choice voting algorithm (an alternative to FPTP) -- but it is not a proportional representation one, but rather has a winner-take-all outcome because it elects a single member district-wide.

Let's consider as an example the Hayes and Harlington UK Parliament constituency, where a friend of mine lives in west Greater London near Heathrow Airport. In the 2017 General Election, results were as follows:

Labour (John McDonnell) 66.5%
Conservative (Greg Smith) 28.6%
UKIP (Cliff Dixon) 2.4%
Liberal Democrat (Bill Newton Dunn) 1.3%
Green (John Bowman) 1.2%

Using the prevailing FPTP vote-counting, McDonnell walked away with it, of course, but also in fact definitively so. A hypothetical ranked-choice voting method would have permitted each voter to say something like 'I like Smith, but, if it turns out I cannot have him, I want my support automatically switched to Newton Dunn in hopes of not losing to that rat-bastard McDonnell, and if Newton Dunn gets eliminated, then Dixon, then if not Dixon, then I guess Bowman' -- but, with an outright majority, McDonnell is going to mop the floor with his opposition under pretty much any algorithm.

So, with the present Labour domination in Hayes and Harlington, basically your vote doesn't count at all. You are going to get Labour.

This is similar to the current situation in most of California, where there are six accredited political parties:

Democratic Party
Republican Party
Peace and Freedom Party
Green Party
Libertarian Party
American Independent Party

Only the first two have ever held statewide office, and I'm unclear about whether the other four have ever even won a mayoral seat anywhere; they're basically ideological protest-vote vehicles. But also, in the last 20 years, the Republican Party has come gradually under such disgrace that it's been unable to hold a single statewide office over the last few elections, and Republican affinity among California voters is, IIRC, falling below that of 'declines to state' aka 'independent' voters.

But I digress. Let's get back to Hayes and Harlington. Imagine that, instead of selecting a single MP for the constituency, the General Election selected ten MPs for it. Those might then be awarded as seven to the Labour list of standing candidate and three to the Conservative list. (The three other parties would still get shut out, as below the noise floor.) Anyway, that's a (somewhat half-assed on my part) example of proportional representation.

True proportional methods are use for the Netherlands and New Zealand Houses of Representatives, for example.

Anyway, controversial? Naturally. When Worldcon voting for the Hugo Award was under attack for several years by the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, we longtime Hugo voters were struck with the fact that most of the critics couldn't quite get their minds around the concept of ranked-choice voting at all, except to pronounce pretty much everything about it 'unfair', as failing to correspond to First Past The Post, the method endorsed by God Himself. You would hear them talking about voting 'for' a candidate, and you would try to help them by saying 'Actually, it's ranked-choice voting, where you state your choices, which in fact specifically you rank. Thus ranked-choice voting, you see.'

Careful, patient explanation got the point eventually across to some of them, not counting those who tactically preferred not to understand, who screamed, yelled, and left the toilet seat up.

307:

mdlve @ 249: In the meantime, perhaps taking advantage of the media watching the Trump circus, Senate Republicans have apparently introduced a bill that would force schools to monitor their students online behaviour, as well as encouraging ISP and online platforms to share information with law enforcement along with a bunch of other stuff. Called the RESPONSE act.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/23/republicans-mass-shootings-school-surveillance

https://qz.com/1734420/what-a-new-us-bill-to-halt-mass-shootings-gets-right-and-wrong/

Seems like he might have one good idea in there; doing more to stop un-licensed gun dealers selling to people who can't pass a background check. I expect that part will be opposed by the NRA and it will be left out of any final law passed by Congress.

308:

My personal take is that each individual interaction is calcuable. However, when we start talking about many, many zeros in the exponent of the number of interactions....

Oh, why, yes, I do like DeBroglie-Bohm mechanics, and pilot wave.

PS. Still sulky over continuous creation, and still like a torus-shaped universe....

309:

Ok, *now* I understand where you're coming from - they're upset about not being able to walk to the front of the line by default.

I see those same people driving all the time (90% of Lexus and BMW drivers, for example). I really want to stop them, walk over to their car with my 2lb sledge, and give them a notice on their car, including the windshield.

310:

Bill Arnold @ 254: Called the RESPONSE act.
Also at The Guardian, a day earlier, and mentioned in that piece:
Under digital surveillance: how American schools spy on millions of kids - Fueled by fears of school shootings, the market has grown rapidly for technologies that monitor students through official school emails and chats (Lois Beckett, 22 Oct 2019)
(bold mine)
Some proponents of school monitoring say the technology is part of educating today’s students in how to be good “digital citizens”[0], and that monitoring in school helps train students for constant surveillance after they graduate.
“Take an adult in the workforce. You can’t type anything you want in your work email: it’s being looked at,” Bill McCullough, a Gaggle spokesperson, said. “We’re preparing kids to become successful adults.”

I don't think the surveillance is meant to make the kids safer, it's just to keep the school officials from getting sued.

311:

Oh, yes, but the point about the speculation I thought of (and the one described in that abstract I saw) is that it is neither more nor less plausible and 'scientific' than much of what is done by modern physicists. As far as Penrose's woo and similar crap is concerned, I fully agree with you. Let me explain a bit more.

The 'massed mind' aspect is because a person who can call storms might be able to do so surrounded by millions of people for thousands of miles who believe in it, but not when surrounded by disbelievers. That fits very well with the next point.

One piece of evidence that it explains and 'conventional' science doesn't is that some carefully reported observations from well-respected scientists in earlier centuries are now deemed to be impossible. Yes, scientists make mistakes, but some very consistent phenomena seem no longer to be repeatable.

Another is the anomalously effective way that certain branches of physics have predicted phenomena, even when the predictions have not always been compatible. Some of it is just adding parameters and tweaking the theory until it matches the data, but not all. Yes, they may just have been very lucky guessers.

Of course, it's implausible speculation, but no more so than a hell of a lot of stuff that is claimed to be 'real science'.

312:

The Bahamas are offshore islands, so it's still a small airport.

Got a runway long enough for a 737 or an Airbus 380? Then we'll talk.

HOWEVER, when they start talking about how an interplanetary probe, *inside* the solar system, is "intergalactic adventure"....

313:

Michael Cain @ 271:

I mean Germany is considered by many to be a "Green" country yet still gets 35%+ of their power from coal...

The US has three almost completely independent regional electric grids. In 2018, the western grid got 40% of its power from renewables and only 21% from coal. No one talks about how "green" it is.

Yeah, but they keep setting California on fire, and that's NOT "carbon neutral" by any stretch of the imagination.

314:

Charlie Stross @ 274: My read is that their "tolerance" of human trafficking is a symptom of their incompetence, not actual tolerance.

You're seeing a conspiracy where I see flagrant incompetence.

D. Mark Key @ 275: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

The difficulty lies in recognizing the point where stupidity is no longer an adequate explanation.

315:

Ok, in the US, I've seen some cab-overs... but they were *always* obviously intra-metro area. Long haul *requres* big engines. Hell, just going through the *moderate* hills of the Appalachians in northern Maryland, on I-68, you're hitting heights > 2500', and I've seen 5% grades. Out west, with the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, and the Coastal Range....

For that matter, dunno if you have them in the UK, but I *really* dislike double-trailers - that's where one tractor is pulling *two*, linked together. And out west... let's not discuss *triples* (yes, they really do).

Std. trailer is 53', btw.

And about canb-over survivability... I've recently been interested in early electric locos, specifically, the Pennsy's P5a boxcab. They were building them for several years, then there was a serious accident, and the crew were killed... and they modified them, so that the crew was in the middle, not the front.

And I have mentioned here, in the past, that my late father-in-law, who was an engineer on the MoPac, finally retired because he couldn't take the stress of the assholes driving tanker trucks of fuel who would try to beat the train at grade crossings....

316:

On California parties:
My brother first registered, back in 1971, as P&F. Later, he and his wife were registered as Greens. Several years ago, they both switched to the Democrats. If there was a viable party left of the Democrats, he'd be in it.

317:

EC @ 311
but some very consistent phenomena seem no longer to be repeatable
EXAMPLES please - a.s.a.p.

318:

That's a combination of climate - high pressure over the Great Basin causes dry winds flowing toward the coast - and a poorly-maintained electrical transmission/distribution system. It's not caused by the power *sources*.

319:

I could have done without hearing that :-( I will ask my friend who correctly predicted the Yugoslavian civil war what he thinks.

320:

Does any of the literature have the balls to use the acronym psi?

321:

Storm calling is the classic one, especially in Africa, and is the one I know of that has no even remotely plausible explanation using modern science.

322:

You wrote:
I used to know some guys in what in the US is referred to as the Militia Movement. One of the defining events in their lives was the memory of their parents moving out of their childhood neighborhoods because the blacks had moved in, who would therefore cause all sorts of social problems.
---
I'd like to meet them. More, I'd like to BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF THEM.

I grew up in north Philly. It was kindergarden or first grade that the first black kid came into my elementary school.

In fourth grade, I was the 26th white kid left in the school.

Why? Because a) REAL ESTATE AGENTS WHO SHOULD BE HUNG BY THEIR TOES AND LEFT TO DIE who first sold one home to a black family, then they and their buds went around "oh, the schwartzes moving in, property values...) so they could get rich, screw what had been a lovely neighborhood... and b) COWARDS who moved out, and the neighborhood wouldn't have changed if THEY HADN'T RUN AWAY.

The kids, now in the militia movement, are still cowards, and they go all "2nd Amendment" because they are cowards.

323:

Forgot to mention: my folks didn't leave. I left home at 19, I think, and they stayed in the apt building for at least another five years, until the fire (block long, 4 story apt building).

324:

Charlie Stross @ 290:

Still, at least there's Invisible Sun to look forward to :-).

Invisible Sun got delayed repeatedly because:

* My editor died (he was also a personal friend)
* My father died
* My mother died

It'll happen eventually; in the meantime, will a Laundry novella and the first book in a new spin-off series set in the Laundry universe keep you happy? (Because nobody died during the writing of those ...)

Write what YOU need to write. When it gets to the bookstores & libraries we'll read it. Doesn't matter if it's this one or that one or something completely different. That's what being fans means.

325:

Scream, rant.

Farmers? What "farmers"? The number of "family farms" is staggeringly SMALL. As of the US 1990 Census, "family farm" was no longer a recognized occupation, as it was less than 1.5% of the population. 90%+ of the "farmers" in the US are agribusiness.

326:

Thank you. Most of the time, I just go from a link on somewhere else, like google news, but....

Greg, and anyone else: if you're running firefox, install NoScript, preferably a month ago.

It allows you to selectively allow links, etc, on demand, and you can choose if you're allowing it temporarily, or permanently. I, for example, go to a lot of places... but NEVER allow google-analytics.com, or anything with an *ad* in it.

327:

Long haul *requres* big engines. Hell, just going through the *moderate* hills of the Appalachians in northern Maryland, on I-68, you're hitting heights > 2500', and I've seen 5% grades. Out west, with the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, and the Coastal Range....

Well, there you go; there aren't any 2500 foot high roads in the UK, and the longest you can drive in one direction without falling into the sea is about 1000 of your miles ... but only in a car; the first 50 and last 200 miles are too narrow for a full-size articulated truck.

The continental EU has higher mountains but doesn't seem to have a problem with the same trucks losing power, unlike the stupidly slow long-nose trucks I've overtaken in the USA and Canada (crawling up the hard shoulder on relatively shallow gradients).

Note that the forward control tractors on European spec HGV/LGV trucks are not the same as American ones; they frequently have a crew rest area (bunk) behind the driving compartment. They also have engines developing 330-450HP; not sure how this stacks up to the US long-nose ones, but they don't seem to have any trouble maintaining 60mph and up on motorways.

More than one trailer is rare in the UK; not enough room to turn the rig around, let alone reverse it. (Our motorway lanes seem to be about 80% the width of the lanes on a US interstate: driving is more fatiguing -- let alone driving a big rig -- simply because you need to stay alert and it takes more adjustments to stay in lane.)

328:

Just checked: pretty much the highest point above mean sea level on the UK motorway grid is Shap Fell on the M6 in Cumbria, which reaches the dizzy height of 316 metres, or just over 1000 foot-thingies.

329:

> blacks had moved in, who would, therefore, cause all sorts of social problems.

This is my thing about immigration I think. I'm not anti-immigration, but I think I'm for immigration control. The reason for that is that there are certain societal norms that are really important for the happy continuance of our society. People who move here aren't necessarily aware of the responsibility to keep to those things. That's fine and expected - it's just an education thing. It might take a generation or two for complete integration, but again, there's no rush, that can be managed. The ability to manage that however depends on the rate of influx remaining within the society's capacity to integrate those people. But if the rate of influx suddenly becomes too high, then you end up with "September never ends":

http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/S/September-that-never-ended.html

That decline was not just Usenet though, it was the whole of the Internet. I miss the Internet before September 1993.

The other thing I think could've been better is that particular communities were allowed to congregate in particular places. I can see why they might want to do that, but I think it would've been better for integration if people would've been more evenly spread across the UK, maybe in small groups for support whilst they needed that.

Anyway, I think how we were going to (and should going forward) integrate migrants into our society is something that deserves a lot more thought.

330:

Okay.... I think there might be a few misconceptions here.

One is that lots of trucks in the US have what are here known as "sleeper cabs" (google for pics). You *really* think there are lots of motels that can accommodate semis when guys pull over to sleep on routes that might be 3,000 miles long? There are a few (flying J truck stops for example), but they're mostly shower/get refueled/get resupplied places. Before the stuff was outlawed, I remember stopping in a Flying J that had an interesting array of ephedrine products out on the counter, next to the very large pocket knives, the alcohol, the caffeine, the tobacco... Fun places to get gas.

Anyway, as to why trucks go slow up hills; there are a couple of plausible reasons.

One is that some company trucks have GPS trackers on them and fine the drivers for going over the speed limit. That was a thing a few years ago. Not so sure how prevalent it is now, but if someone's stuck going the speed limit on the US interstate, they'd better be in the slow lane, so that normal idiots like me can zip past.

The rather better reason, as I've learned in my EV, is that climbing hills fast eats fuel like crazy. The same thing happens in petroleum rigs, but we don't notice it because gas gauges tend to more inaccurate than battery meters and refueling is fast enough that you don't worry about running down your gasoline supply. If gas was $10/liter, everyone but the wealthy would be putting slowly up the hills.

Anyway if high speed delivery isn't needed, going somewhat slower works better. Now yes, electric cars aren't gas cars. With an electric, getting stuck in gridlock is not much of a problem, because you expend more energy on the AC than on going forward slowly. Idling a gas engine isn't so efficient. However, there's always a sweet spot for a gas engine that maximizes the MPG, and that's the annoyingly slow speed at where the hypermilers hang out. If a trucker's not on a tight deadline, hypermiling in the rig is the best way to maximize profits, and that usually means going slow uphill and coasting downhill.

331:

Double trailers... not really. You want Australia for that sort of thing. We have a sort of one-and-a-half version, a small box-bodied truck with the cab built in towing a similar body but without the cab, but I think the load capacity is less than one full-size trailer, and it's basically done for manoeuvrability.

Noses... early British diesel locos nearly all had a smallish nose ahead of the cab, with small auxiliaries like compressors in it, and sometimes a bog (though how you contorted yourself to use it I'm not sure). Sometimes it is said that this was done to provide crash protection, or to make the drivers feel safer because they thought it did, but I'm not sure how true this is. At any rate, it didn't, and later designs preferred a flat front for better visibility. Now the fashion has changed back again - someone has got the idea that if cars have crumple zones then trains ought to have them too, and they don't even have to be any bigger than on a car, because they're magic so you can just ignore the two or three extra orders of magnitude of mass. So we get a loco with a couple of jerrycans' worth of volume stuck on either side of the nose, giving it the appearance of a hamster with its cheek pouches stuffed with Lego so it looks as daft as the idea is.

332:

In the US there are lower speed limits for trucks, on a lot of highways. I've been on highways with trucks that are being driven at higher speeds than traffic was moving, and it was frightening; there were some near-accidents, with the trailer fishtailing.

Also, some of the highway grades are fairly steep - I5 between Castaic and Bakersfield hits 6% at both ends, and it's not going to improve - and trucks can't go fast with any kind of load. (It's hard enough in a small car.)

333:

My hybrid does not like stop-and-go traffic; it drains the rechargeable battery pack. But it enjoys getting out on the highway, other than that. (I don't generally use AC; I prefer opening the window a bit.)

334:

Which is why the farmers -- remnant, and would-be -- would need capitalization. And marketing boards and other forms of collective operational viability guarantees.

We know with some confidence that the thing the woodland tribes were doing when the settlers showed up gave comparable/equivalent maize yields, and that's not counting the squash and beans. How you do that isn't entirely in the category of current knowledge, but it's that kind of thing we need to start doing especially quickly. (It won't hold more than a generation most of the eastern US, but people need to eat every day. Getting through the 2020s and the 2030s has to come before getting through the 2040s.)

Then we get into the whole concept of "neighbourhood potato greenhouse", and that needs capitalization, too.

335:

Perhaps crumple zones on locamotives are intended to help the drivers survive striking a car or cow rather than another train or a mountain.

336:

The question is, how fast does stop-n-go drain the battery? In my Bolt in a traffic jam, I'm mellowing along at 1 kwh (this thing can go up to 20-30 kwh for rapid acceleration, on a 65 kwh battery pack, and it draws 0.5 kwh just sitting). If you believe the display, I can putter along for upwards of 60 hours at 5 mph or so, meaning that I'll go 300 miles, instead of the rated 240 miles.

That's the thing I like about this EV: it's really a commuter car, and it does best in heavy traffic. Where I get in trouble is long road trips early in the morning on rural freeways with significant hills (the I-15, for example). The average traffic speed is around 80 MPH (including the semis), and if I'm silly enough to keep up, I can drain half the battery going 100 miles (that's a loss of 20 miles' range simply from going fast uphill). If there's not a charger, I'm going to have some trouble getting home.

337:

Uh-huh: when I talk about American trucks "going slow up hills" I'm not talking about losing 10-20mph on a long upslope -- I'm talking about them dropping into a crawler gear and proceeding at barely more than walking pace. That's pretty much unheard of in the UK; there aren't any gradients long enough to slow down that much (yes, we have some steep roads -- one I know of is 9% -- but they're not long).

Yes, there are truck stops everywhere on the UK motorway grid; usually a parking area off to one side of every service station (which in turn are seldom as much as 50 miles apart). Yes, yes, I know it's not like that in the USA (let alone Canada: I vividly recall spotting a sign on the Trans-Canada Highway saying "next fuel 330km").

338:

There's a section of the Trans Canada in BC signed for "next 40 km, 8% grade".

It's got a bike path on the shoulder; there is one and only one place to put a road through those mountains. People do actually cycle through there.

339:

People regularly cycle up 25-30% grades in the UK - I have to push above 20%. There are a some major roads (i.e. ones used by articulated lorries) with over 15% grades. No, they aren't high, but it's the steepness that needs the power.

340:

P J Evans @316:

On California parties:
My brother first registered, back in 1971, as P&F. Later, he and his wife were registered as Greens. Several years ago, they both switched to the Democrats. If there was a viable party left of the Democrats, he'd be in it.

It's not easy being Green.

The California dilemma could be solved, getting back to my earlier point, by switching to a proportional-representation system. One fairly pure example of that is the Israeli Knesset, a 120-member unicameral legislature reportedly closely modelled on Kerensky's pre-October Revolution Duma in Petrograd. Each party posts a list of individuals it is standing to be MKs. Each Israeli voter votes for the party list of one party. If, say, Israeli Labor Party gets 15% of the nationwide votes cast, then the first 0.15 * 120 = 18 candidates on its list get to take seats.

(The real-world setup is a bit more complicated, e.g., there's a electoral threshold that must be cleared before a party is qualified for representation. In the Knesset, that was 1 percent of the vote from 1949 to 1992, 1.5 percent from 1992 to 2003, 2 percent from 2003 to 2014, and 3.25 percent since 2015.)

Anyway, Knesset-style proportional systems makes minor parties truly viable, in exactly the way they are not (statewide, at least) in California. Some would say too viable: There was a long history of some of the smallest represented parties in the Knesset having disproportionate ability to exact favours and influence because they could be the 61st vote that makes or breaks a governing coalition.

While I'm talking about Israeli political matters[1], at the time Yugoslavia exploded, I said to my Israeli friends, 'This might not have happened if they'd had a tradition of youth movements', and they nodded. Almost all Jewish, Druze, and also IIRC some Arab Israelis join a youth movement (or, in Hebrew, a tenu’at noar), long before high school. The point is that young people form, there, friendships across practically all societal boundaries including home-language and socioeconomic. (They tend to be each aligned with a political movement, but, hey, nothing's perfect.)


whitroth @326:

Greg, and anyone else: if you're running firefox, install NoScript, preferably a month ago.

As someone who's lectured (e.g., slides, lecture notes) on this subject for a long time, I've seen far too many users bounce off NoScript or its competitor uBlock Origin / uBlock Matrix, expecting them to be out-of-the-box solutions and being unprepared for them being tools to configure a solution.

Most users of the Web are unwilling to tackle the task of taming Javascript, the keystone tool employed behind the scenes to impair users' privacy, security, and performance, which is what NoScript or uBlock Origin / uBlock Matrix equips you to do, through an iterative process of saying 'No, I don't want to run that' or 'Maybe I'll be willing to run that', which if you take it seriously requires some commitment.

When I finished delivering the cited lecture to Silicon Valley User Group in 2011, I asked for an honest show of hands, as to how many were seriously considering carrying out my recommendations in addition to just hearing me talk about them. I saw maybe two hands out of about fifty attendees. I thanked them for their honesty.
[1] Those vexed at Israel for various good reasons, please don't yell at me. I'm just a Scandinavian-American agnostic gentile who happened to have once been a kibbutz volunteer as part of a family tradition that I continue to think of as A Good Thing: Dad felt in 1945 when he was demobilised from the US Army Air Corps that Europe had let the side down, and that one of the small constructive things he could do was physically help the Jewish community in Palestine, and then later in new-born Israel, first flying supply flights and then being a kibbutz volunteer. I respect his act of conscience.

341:

Re: ' ... if you're running firefox, install NoScript, preferably a month ago.'

How does it compare with Ghostery? Does it work equally well on both PCs and Macs? (We have both - and they're getting kinda old.)

342:

Did a bit of googling, and found out that climbing lanes (US) are called crawler lanes in the UK. Guess the US is better at going slow than the UK is, at least in politics and semi-tractors going uphill.

344:

Odd coincidence today: I read two articles comparing items of modern life to abusive relationships. One compared the current US president to an abuser in an abusive relationship and warned (From the perspective of a victim's rights advocate) that the most dangerous time is when we leave the relationship, especially given that the abuser has the full force of the executive branch and the nuclear football with which to threaten, and that failure to leave only emboldens him to be more abusive.

The other article compares phones to abusive partners. Fun quote from that article: "“We love our phones, but we do not trust them. And love without trust is the definition of an abusive relationship.”

Both are worth reading. Both mention gaslighting quite a lot, too.

My frivolous thought (since I always think frivolously while my brain tries to encompass the horrors of modern life): if you're writing a tale set in something resembling the modern day, especially a thriller that deals with current politics and both a distrust in and dependence on technology, are you writing a gaslighting fantasy?

345:

Neither of those obstructions comes above drawbar height; the cheek pouches would go straight over the top of them, and the cab itself is higher still. The danger in those instances is of part of the car or cow getting under the wheels of the train and twiddling it off the track.

346:

There's a hill (well, mountain pass really) on I-80 Eastbound in Nevada. Every time I've driven it there were semis in all lanes going

347:

There's a hill (well, mountain pass really) on I-80 Eastbound in Nevada. Every time I've driven it there were semis in all lanes going slower than 20 mph. Yes, I KNOW they can't do that. Not legally. They do it, anyway.

Sorry for last message. I neglected to escape an "<".

348:

SFReader @341:

How does it compare with Ghostery?

Prior to 2018, Ghostery was proprietary bloatware, and I cautioned people away from it entirely, as I did from Abine's Better Privacy for the same reason. In 2018, they went (theoretically at least) open source under Mozilla Public License 2.0, thus no longer proprietary, but I expect it's still bloatware.

Like NoScript and uBlock Matrix / uBlock Origin, Ghostery does some curating of Javascript snippets your browser gets asked to execute. It comes with some built-in opinions about what scripts ought to be run by default, whereas the alternative extensions default to 'run no Javascript snippets; let the user decide over time which ones to enable on particular sites'. Ghostery also has a significant assortment of other bells and whistles (which some of us call bloatware).

The original sponsoring company Evidon, Inc., and now also the new sponsoring company Cliqz GmbH , have a rather cosy relationship with certain favoured advertisers. Also, the newest versions gratuitously generates advertisements of its own to show to Ghostery users.

I have a strong prejudice towards do-one-thing-and-do-it-well tools that you probably don't share, and that mass-market computer users a-fortiori don't share, so of course apply your own decision criteria.

349:

in my EV, is that climbing hills fast eats fuel like crazy

That's because the more power you draw the less battery capacity you get, it's a feature of chemical batteries that can't be avoided. Those trucks don't have the same problem.

Also, just as a general note, power is measured in watts but energy is measured in joules (or watt-hours for convenience). The battery holds energy and gives out power. So if something uses a watt-hour, that's energy and does not specify a time period over which the energy is delivered. My phone uses kilowatt-hours of electricity, just over several years (~10 watt-hours per charge).

Anyhoo, trucks up hills: infernal combustion engines have an "most efficient high power output" at a given rev number, and that is different from their maximum power (ie, the "not quite falling apart" level) and the "most efficient cruise power" level. The first is generally used to go up hills. If the truck is overloaded/underpowered it's possible but unlikely for the optimum power level to be walking speed. But it's also entirely possible that the truck is cooling limited, or simply badly maintained/very old, so the maximum sustained power at slow speed is very low. In many countries trucking is a marginal industry so it's safest to assume that trucks going slowly are old and poorly maintained.

FWIW in Australia ~600 horsepower is a big truck, 1000hp is oh look at the shiny, and 300hp will just barely keep a fully loaded B double at highway speeds. The B double is your "biggest truck allowed on any major road", typically with one 20 foot container on the intermediate trailer that has a semi hitch plate on the back allowing a second, 40 foot container/trailer on the back, but in Victoria they allow two 40 foot units on some roads. Those are also based on the ~12m length limit for a trailer, so non-container trailers will be the same length.

350:

Elderly Cynic @339:

People regularly cycle up 25-30% grades in the UK - I have to push above 20%. There are a some major roads (i.e. ones used by articulated lorries) with over 15% grades. No, they aren't high, but it's the steepness that needs the power.

In my experience, duration matters a great deal, too.

Not surprisingly, the city of San Francisco has some amazingly steep bits of paved roads, including a 10 metre stretch of Bradford Street in the non-touristy Bernal Heights neighbourhood that is an astonishing 41% grade. (Yes, I've bicycled up it. It's insane, and the remainder of that street being 24% doesn't help, either.) (And yes, the Kiwis here can justly boast, here, about Dunedin's Baldwin Street having an average 35% grade, as can the Welsh about Ffordd Pen Llech in Harlech being average 37.45%. I won't stop you.)

But the ones that can be soul-crushing are the ones that are merely steep but go on and on and on. My shopping errands across San Francisco by bicycle would often traverse the hills in the middle, on the east side of the central massif you would find yourself ascending Clipper Street. I doubt it's over 10% grade, but because it goes on unremittingly for many blocks, the experience is just brutal, especially with a heavy bag of groceries on one's back.

351:

I've walked up Bradford. In the US, another fun road is Waipio Valley Road in Hawai'i, which averages 25% and goes to 45% in a couple of spots. The sign at the top warns that this is 4WD only. It's a bit of a hike from the top and a nice destination, even if it's not worth swimming at Waipio Beach (it's one of those beaches that's "enjoyed by experienced surfers" which tells you most of what you need to know about the speed of the currents and the height of the waves. The lack of anyone else swimming in the waves that are crashing right on the beach tells you most of the rest of what you need to know).

352:

Ten minutes of stop-and-go is a noticeable drain. It recharges fairly well one traffic gets moving again. but it really isn't happy before that.

353:

Legal truck speed limit in the 6% grade sections of I5 is 35mph (signage: Trucks Use Low Gear). Most of them can do that. Some can't. But between those two sections, it's not a big problem.

354:

Heteromeles, I very nearly decided to hike down Waipi'o Valley Road and back from the outlook at the top, the last time I was on the Big Island, but leaving my family bored at the tourist outlook while I spent an hour doing that would have been inconsiderate. The view from the top is stunning enough, anyway.

Not only is the road strongly disrecommended for anything but 4WD, but also all of the rental car companies specifically prohibit driving it. Not only might they find out directly from GPS gear in your rented car, but also the notoriously peevish residents down in the valley tend to jot down licence plate information and inform on car renters. Worse, of course, if your vehicle becomes stuck, cannot navigate the return climb, and needs to be expensively towed out, they'll show up to laugh and point.

At the expense of half a day and a few ducats, you can have a professionally driven tour (in a 4WD van) that not only descends the famous road but visits 500 metre Hi’ilawe Waterfall and other highlights of the valley.

355:

the ones that can be soul-crushing are the ones that are merely steep but go on and on and on.

There are occasionally bicycle tourists camped half way up Porter's Pass between Christchurch and the Southern Alps, because it's about 20km of steady climbing into a headwind... usually at the end of a long day riding gently uphill into a headwind. The great thing about Porter's is that it's the first pass on the way to Arthur's Pass, and also the point where the wind round the world gets funnelled into a valley. So going up it you know that it's not going to get better for at least 50km, and that 50km is going to take more than a day. The scenic marvels of the township of Arthur's Pass are as nothing compared to the insidefullness of the buildings.

Riding up the other side if you go the other way is a weird experience, because you invariably have a tail wind that is faster than you could possibly pedal (normally when you have a tail wind up a hill it is just enough to stop all relative air movement)

356:

Heh. I've hiked it twice with my wife (thanks for the ego boost). I agree that the tour is faster, but it's more fulfilling to walk to the waterfalls and down to the beach. Really. Then again, we're the kind of people who hike over a'a trails in water shoes (we're holdouts from the barefoot craze), so I guess we aren't exactly normal.

357:

Skippers Canyon road is amazingly scenic and that link is worth looking at just for the photos. I don't think there's any rental car company that allows their vehicles to be driven on that road.

It is somewhat scary to ride a bicycle on because of the other traffic, but otherwise as safe as any high mountain road in that area.

Remember: in Australia it's the wildlife that will kill you, in Aotearoa it's the geography.

358:

People regularly cycle up 25-30% grades in the UK

Sure! And here, too; the routes in and out of Toronto's ravines are like that.

The thing about that stretch of the Trans Canada is three things.

There's the distance; it goes on and on.

If you're going up, you're doing it already at some altitude and into a head wind coming down off taller mountains. (That long steep stretch isn't the bit up from Revelstoke into Glacier National Park, but the wind at least remembers being there.)

And the third thing is that the road has a plummet off to the right, the side you'll be on headed east, and BC doesn't provide guard rails for them. (They plead futility; there's so much, and it would cost and cost and not do a whole lot of good.) There are 19th century train wrecks still down in some of the valleys and stern injunctions to the curious not to try to go down there.

359:

And I feel we should stress that "the other traffic" includes frequent minibuses towing trailers overfilled with kayaks and rafts.
Even with the passing spaces there isn't much room left on the road.


360:

_Moz_ @357: Holy mother of god, that looks even worse than 'El Camino de la Muerte' as seen in Top Gear's Bolivia Special. I believe you that it's stunningly beautiful, but I'll content myself with photographs.

361:

I'll second that.
(I think Tioga Pass road was like that, before the late 60s, when they widened it to an actual two lanes. Never went over the top - we only went to the Meadows, twice, from the west, though we had friends who did it. One couple did it twice, for their honeymoon (in a Model T) and for their 50th (or maybe 60th) anniversary.)

362:

I’m assuming there’s a decent crossover here of Neal Stephenson fans, but I read the rise and fall of d.o.d.o. which has an enjoyable treatment of (without getting too spoilery) people influencing quantum probability to perform “magic”. The rub is that certain aspects of the modern world make everything highly observed, removing any uncertainty at the quantum level and hence the ability of people to influence it.

363:

EC
"Pilot Wave", huh?
My then-immediate boss & I used to look at this, back in the 70's - deeply unfashionable - the QM/Rel incompatibility was, at that time HERESY - even though it's true - nbowadays, there's a lot of public head-scratching which must be some sort of improvement.

whitroth @ 326
I have firefox, but use it about twice a year - I usually use chrome

PJE & Charlie @ 332
The speed-limit for "trucks" in the UK is lower, too 60 mph, as opposed to the 70 for cars ....Percentage Grades grrr ..
RANT
WHy the FUCK couldn't they stick with the old method, which was the Tangent of the angle?
I mean "1 in 4" is really easy to understand ( & means you have a rise angle of 14 ° ) but
WAHT THE FUCK IS THAT IN PERCENTAGE?
Or any other percentage-grade as a tangent ....
[ Like W.T.F. is a 25% grade? - I in 4 or something else? ]
ENDrant

and Rick Moen @ 350: merely steep but go on and on and on Like Putney Hill in London? ( 1.6 km ) - 0h & yes, I have cycled up it.
In the Great Green Beast, of course, I simply select "low ratio box", start in second, go to third or 4th & let it chug happliy away ....

Moz @ 349
Um ... 1000 HP ( 0.75 MW ) is a small freight loco in the UK - like one of these ancient but reliable workhorses

364:

Ah yes ... people dead-body smuggling ...
From this morning's paper:
"It is believed that Mr Robinson, who was only in control of the container for around 35 minutes, may have found his gruesome cargo and called the ambulance services himself.

Security sources told the Telegraph that they were focusing in on a south Armagh-based criminal gang with links to dissident paramilitaries.

The three men, with bases very close to the Irish border, are suspected of involvement in orchestrating the smuggling operation that ended in tragedy on Wednesday with the discovery of 39 Chinese nationals in Essex."

365:

Greg Tingey @363:

WHy the FUCK couldn't they stick with the old method, which was the Tangent of the angle? I mean "1 in 4" is really easy to understand ( & means you have a rise angle of 14 ° ) but WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT IN PERCENTAGE?

As a maths major, I agree that just plain tangent would have been more rational to use, but the 'percent grade' is just the tangent (rise over run) times 100. So a 1 (unit of vertical rise) in 4 (units of horizontal run) slope is a 25% grade.

It's a bit dumb, but in a lot of the world, it's the terminology you will hear and must therefore contend with.

366:

It's much less so on a trike with a very low bottom gear, but yes. HOWEVER, diesel motors do not have souls to crush, so that long slopes are no problem (overheating and fuel consumption aside). And there are cyclists who seek out long, steep climbs and claim to enjoy riding up them ....

367:

I used to be one of those cyclists, but the truth of the matter is that I was mostly motivated by the prospect of getting to the top and going down.

368:

I am about the same age as Greg Tingey, and was taught (and examined on) converting fractions to decimals to percentages, including in my head, which I still do. A trickier issue is finding out when it's referring to the tangent and when to the sine (i.e. using the road distance), which starts to become significant in this context above about 25% (1 in 4, for those who prefer that).

369:

Thread on how bad the survey design (and reporting of results) on that violence to MPs thing - for starters the question was about the (undefined) _risk_ of violence.
https://twitter.com/Fellwolf/status/1187610735729369090

370:

While there is some head-scratching over the quantum mechanics / relativity conflicts, there are still far more people claiming that there IS no conflict (usually because the speaker's tribe is right, and the other tribes need to fix their models). My problem is that it is all well beyond my skillset, so I can't be sure when people are bullshitting.

But I am inclined to side against the relativists, because the amount of bullshit that they excrete (and which I can show to be bullshit) is considerable.

371:

Most users of the Web are unwilling to tackle the task of taming Javascript...

I believe you. *tired sigh*

I already use NoScript but have a question that I hope is a no-brainer to someone who's studied Javascript antics more than I have. Too often my computer will warn me of an unresponsive script and offer to stop it. Is there a way to make Firefox show me the scripts running in the background and let me kill them? This seems like an obvious feature but I have not found it.

372:

Yeah. I looked at the survey and wasn't impressed. I am a little less inclined to be rude about it than Kim Warren, as I know how hard it is to write good surveys on even less inchoate topics. And some of the questions that they should have asked (e.g. "Do you, personally, approve of violence against MPs who oppose your position?") are politically contentious, and possibly even illegal. But I do agree that the researchers shouldn't have tried it unless they were prepared to do it rather more carefully, and it doesn't really indicate anything more than this has become a dogma of both tribes.

373:
I’m assuming there’s a decent crossover here of Neal Stephenson fans, but I read the rise and fall of d.o.d.o. which has an enjoyable treatment of (without getting too spoilery) people influencing quantum probability to perform “magic”.

In Anathem also there is "magic" based on manipulating QM (in the MWI).

374:

Not as far as I know, and it might not help, anyway. If Firepox could kill the script with even a good chance of recovering, my guess is that it would do so. In a large number of cases when I get that, the script is doing something with the X Windowing System, which is a suppurating heap of crap if ever there was one. Usually, clicking on the 'kill' button works, but sometimes I have to run my cleanup script, kill processes as root, use Control-Alt-F1 and kill the X server, or even power cycle the machine!

Just killing the script might get you back with a running browser, but no mouse, and the focus somewhere in outer space, or any of the zillion other dysfunctional variations the X Windowing System is prone to getting into.

375:

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. was also faster-paced than recent Stephenson books, in a way I like. I credit the coauthor.

As an aside, I fear Stephenson is suffering from Successful Author Syndrome, where the editor doesn't have the clout to get the author to trim unneeded words.

376:

I mean "1 in 4" is really easy to understand ( & means you have a rise angle of 14 ° ) but
WAHT THE FUCK IS THAT IN PERCENTAGE?

I have always understand 25% to be another way of writing the number 0.25. Thus, to me the statements "The grade is 1/4" and "The grade is 25%" are exactly equivalent.

377:

@Charlie

"Its never going to end : BREXIT is a Utopia project "

Absolutely right, and what makes the present situation worse is that the EU is also a Utopia project. The result of 2 colliding Eutopias has never been pleasant ...

378:

If Firepox could kill the script with even a good chance of recovering, my guess is that it would do so.

Darn. I was hoping I was overlooking something obvious or (more plausibly) that there was a known add-on to do that.

It's true that I'm using a cheap and slow laptop at the moment, purchased originally as an emergency substitute, that's prone to slowdowns anyway. The most annoying thing is for it to freeze up, then display the Stop Unresponsive Script warning for a moment then, as the predetermined amount of realtime having passed since the decision to show the warning was made, hide the option to do anything about the problem before the human can react.

I'd really like a 'Show Scripts' option on the browser, similar to Task Manager on the OS. But then, I'd also like Task Manager to allow me to set limits on how much resources a program can grab; too often I've watched everything else freeze up while Norton or Firefox grabbed 100% of disk access I/O.

379:

...the EU is also a Utopia project. The result of 2 colliding Eutopias has never been pleasant ...

I'd say the EU was more practical, in the sense of "What can we all live with that will keep us from having another damn World War across Europe?" But a certain amount of inaccuracy is worth it for the coinage Eutopia.

380:

If the window is still unresponsive, click on the 'close window' box, and it should reappear. If it doesn't, see my recovery cascade described above.

381:

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. was also faster-paced than recent Stephenson books, in a way I like.

I agree. It was the most exciting Stephenson book since Reamde. I enjoyed his latest outing, Fall, or Dodge in Hell, but it could have moved faster.

382:

Pretty sure it is always the legs of the triangle not the hypotenuse for calculating grade. i.e. 100% is a 45 degree angle

383:

Percentage grades... pain in the arse... sure, it's "just a different way of writing the same fraction", but the difference is whether you set the numerator to 1 and vary the denominator, or set the denominator to 100 and vary the numerator. So you've got this upside down crap going on all the time and you keep having to do 1/x in your head.

Said to make it easier because a bigger number means a steeper gradient, but it doesn't.

Moreover, because it's upside down, it gives you precision where you don't need it but squeezes you for precision at the end of the scale where it's important. Railway gradients give you reasonable numbers as 1 in x, but silly strings of decimals which are not robust against rounding errors as a percentage - so it's particularly daft that the international railway industry seems so keen on percentages these days. While on the road, who cares about the ability to clearly distinguish 30% from 33% - just leave it as "1 in 3" for signage and "too bloody steep" for conversational use.

384:

If the window is still unresponsive, click on the 'close window' box...

Yes, closing the browser and restarting is the obvious last resort. (Often from Task Manager.) Happily things are rarely that bad.

385:

Haha yes, we largely missed out on the info dump section, like one hundred pages of orbital mechanics in seveneves. Sometimes those bits cans on for a while.
@lavery 381: I know, some of the segments of on the second day egdod created the sea and the rivers and whatnot went on too long for my taste, and the discontinuities in time/plot were a bit jarring (like there is no fallout from kidnapping/murdering someone?) Don’t get me wrong though, I did enjoy it overall.

386:

Don’t know if you want to muck around with it but process explorer will give you quite a bit more info on a process than task manager (like network connections, file handles, more thread level details)

387:

You do not have to go so far as Australia to find double trailers. Common in continental Europe as well. Here in Sweden the limit is 25 meters and 60 tons with 80 tons for some specific routes. Then the Aussies are more extreme with 172 tons and more than 50 meters, like small trains. As comparison a large freight train is more in the low thousands of tons.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truck#Maximum_sizes_by_country

388:

Haha yes, we largely missed out on the info dump section, like one hundred pages of orbital mechanics in seveneves.

Speaking of which, is what happens to the moon in Seveneves the way Cassie's planet was destroyed in (well, prior to, actually) The Nightmare Stacks? The latter book refers to "a ritual that shattered the moon". Did anyone from Cassie's planet manage to escape into orbit? Or did they just not have the technology/magic to get off planet?

389:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truck#Maximum_sizes_by_country

I'm puzzled by this, because I have seen double-trailer semis on the US interstates. They're rare, for sure, but they do exist.

390:

I'm taking two college level classes this fall for the first time in years, so I haven't sought out Fall yet as I know I won't have the headspace for a complex novel.

391:

As an aside, I fear Stephenson is suffering from Successful Author Syndrome, where the editor doesn't have the clout to get the author to trim unneeded words.

It has taken me a long time to realize this, but the truth is, no author has the clout to force an editor to publish something they don't think will sell. (And I've heard tales I shall not repeat in a public medium of record about major bestselling authors who got themselves sacked by their publisher for trying to go over their editor's head to get them sacked for editing.)

The truth is, Neal Stephenson sells like hot cakes. And what editors don't have is lots of free time for editing: the term "editor" actually means acquisitions manager these days, and what editing they do is almost a hobby -- the business itself doesn't care if the book's unedited and full of typos (as Kindle Unlimited demonstrates) as long as it sells. If the editor's too burned out to edit, they'll be more than happy to delegate the job to the author's agent. And Neal's books are huuuuuuge. Why annoy the goose that lays the golden eggs when you can better spend resources paying the extra bills for copy-editing, typesetting, and proofreading the work (which scale linearly with length)?

392:

I'm taking two college level classes this fall for the first time in years, so I haven't sought out Fall yet as I know I won't have the headspace for a complex novel.

Lot of interesting ideas in there. It's almost more of a philosophical treatise than a novel. (Well, it's a Stephenson novel, after all.) It's the first fiction I remember to have read that really takes the idea of uploading ones personality seriously. The idea has been around in SF forever, but the authors usually accomplish it in one line that just assumes it is straightforward. (E.g. Ghost in the Shell, Zelazny, Gibson, ...) As a neuroscientist, I'm very aware that it's not so simple, and that right now, it is impossible. (Not in the "it physically can't be done" sense, but in the "no one really has a clue how to do it or possesses the technology" sense.) So I was intrigued to see Stephenson take the challenge seriously.

And then, there's also a story in there somewhere, I believe.

393:

Speaking of which, is what happens to the moon in Seveneves the way Cassie's planet was destroyed in (well, prior to, actually) The Nightmare Stacks? The latter book refers to "a ritual that shattered the moon". Did anyone from Cassie's planet manage to escape into orbit? Or did they just not have the technology/magic to get off planet?

Instead of developing the tech to get off planet into space, they developed the tech to get off planet into a parallel universe ... which is what the plot of "The Nightmare Stacks" hinges on.

Note that the All-Highest's redoubt is roughly 60 degrees north, inland and well above sea level, and buried under sedimentary rock. If a planetary ring forms from the debris of the moon, and then there's a Hadean bombardment from the infall, most of it will land in the oceans and within the tropics. Note that Cassie's Moon didn't explode (implying ejecta coming out in all directions with Ke greater than the gravitational potential energy binding the Moon together); it shattered (mechanism unspecified, but I'm hand-waving for "enough energy to put the Moon's component material into orbit around its center of gravity, but not enough to blast it out above lunar escape velocity in all directions).

Finally: nope, I didn't work it all out at the time, I winged it with no expectation of going back to revisit it — I wrote it in 2014-15, and Seveneves wasn't published until a point in 2015 by which "Nightmare Stacks" was in production, and also I crashed out of reading "Seveneves" on page 2 or 3 probably in 2016 (because I was burned out on Stephenson monoliths when it came out and didn't buy it until the price dropped).

394:

The idea has been around in SF forever, but the authors usually accomplish it in one line that just assumes it is straightforward

Have you tried Hannu Rajaniemi's "Quantum Thief" trilogy yet? The second book ("The Fractal Prince") takes it more than a little bit seriously ...

Also, I'm pretty sure Greg Egan has your back, at least as far back as "Diaspora". (My path to it in "Accelerando" riffed off Hans Moravec's proposal, although that was more of a thought experiment aimed at persuading a mind/body dualist to rethink dualism than a practical design.)

395:

But I think she unfairly dismisses decoherence theory by interpreting "decoherence" in the narrowest possible sense.

It's probably just a difference in preferences as to how to phrase things, but it appears to me as if decoherence doesn't so much solve the quantum -> classical problem as hide it. Hide it legitimately and successfully (mostly) I hasten to say.

396:

the business itself doesn't care if the book's unedited and full of typos (as Kindle Unlimited demonstrates)

Yeah. I've gotten a few Python books on Kindle and it's amazing how badly written they tend to be. Not just bad English, but in not a few cases incorrect/inconsistent Python. But they were cheap, so there's that...

397:

Meanwhile ... Over here in "Case Nightmare Orange ShitGibbon" land.

https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-edit-graham-is-crackers-20191024-g3ilzrx3sfgwddsdym273khhly-story.html

Nothing new here. I call this to your attention merely because I LOVE THE HEADLINE, although they do have a point about Graham's hypocrisy.

Something to keep in mind - this IS the New York Daily News, which is almost the American equivalent of The Sun - as in readers "don't care who runs the country as long as she's got big tits."

But, even a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn. Anyway, be skeptical about any NEWZ from the site you cannot independently verify.

And it really is a GREAT headline.

398:

They block it in Europe. I really MUST get around to signing up to a good 'anonymiser', but it takes effort to find one :-(

399:

I would have said arrest the entire Republican Party in the U.S., but I think that would amount to more-or-less the same thing.

400:

Hannu Rajaniemi, Greg Egan, Hans Moravec...

Many thanks. I will definitely look those up. In fact, I am doing so, even as we speak...

401:

The antics of the quantum mechanics in this respect remind me strongly of people trying to get to grips with an issue while not yet having systematised the underlying concepts. A simple example is limit functions in probability without measure theory, but there are zillions of other examples from the history of science (e.g. dynamics before differential equations). Assuming I am right and it is solved, students of 2300 will look on modern techniques in the same way that modern ones look on Newton's geometric proofs.

402:

Right up until the epilogue of Seveneves, I was speed-reading and had decided not to buy another of his because it was tediously describing some implausible science etc., but the last third of the book convinced me to try again. I am finding Anathem better, but I have only just started it.

403:

Charlie Stross @ 327:

"Long haul *requres* big engines. Hell, just going through the *moderate* hills of the Appalachians in northern Maryland, on I-68, you're hitting heights > 2500', and I've seen 5% grades. Out west, with the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, and the Coastal Range...."

Well, there you go; there aren't any 2500 foot high roads in the UK, and the longest you can drive in one direction without falling into the sea is about 1000 of your miles ... but only in a car; the first 50 and last 200 miles are too narrow for a full-size articulated truck.

The continental EU has higher mountains but doesn't seem to have a problem with the same trucks losing power, unlike the stupidly slow long-nose trucks I've overtaken in the USA and Canada (crawling up the hard shoulder on relatively shallow gradients).

Note that the forward control tractors on European spec HGV/LGV trucks are not the same as American ones; they frequently have a crew rest area (bunk) behind the driving compartment. They also have engines developing 330-450HP; not sure how this stacks up to the US long-nose ones, but they don't seem to have any trouble maintaining 60mph and up on motorways.

More than one trailer is rare in the UK; not enough room to turn the rig around, let alone reverse it. (Our motorway lanes seem to be about 80% the width of the lanes on a US interstate: driving is more fatiguing -- let alone driving a big rig -- simply because you need to stay alert and it takes more adjustments to stay in lane.)

We have cab-over trucks here in the U.S. both with and without sleeper arrangements.

The ones without are generally used for short-haul - driver comes in in the morning picks up the truck & trailer; delivers the trailer & perhaps brings another trailer back; but he's going to return the truck that evening to the same terminal he started out at that morning, get off work and go home to sleep.

Cab-over trucks with sleeper arrangements are used on longer hauls. As I noted before, the truckers I know say the long nose trucks are more comfortable on the long haul. Whether that's true or not, I can't really say, but that's the perception that's been communicated to me.

Double-bottom trucks (one tractor & two trailers) aren't all that common here in the U.S. either. They've only been allowed on Interstate and U.S. Numbered Highways for about 45 years. (Some western states allowed them before that, but they couldn't be used in interstate commerce.)

It was part of legislation passed during the national fuel crisis after the 1974 Arab Oil Embargo; same legislation that mandated 55 mph speed limits nationwide. Trailers for double-bottoms are shorter than standard trailers. You're not allowed to run double-bottoms using full-size trailers.

The biggest double bottom users appear to be UPS, FedEX, etc. shuffling cargo between distribution hubs that might not have enough traffic to load a full size trailer. It's a cost saving measure because the driver can just drop the trailer & pick up another instead of having to wait while the cargo handlers unload a trailer & load it up again before proceeding to the next hub.

Even rarer are "triple-bottoms", and we have nothing like Australia's "road trains".

404:

No - I have seen both done. You are probably right about modern conventions, as the only cases I saw that I was certain that it was the hypotenuse were published a long time ago. What I am suspicious about is whether it is culture- or context-dependent, like the question of whether A/B*C means A/(B*C) or (A/B)*C. But, please let's NOT start that one again!

405:

SFReader @ 341:

Re: ' ... if you're running firefox, install NoScript, preferably a month ago.'

How does it compare with Ghostery? Does it work equally well on both PCs and Macs? (We have both - and they're getting kinda old.)

I believe the programs do different things. NoScript blocks unwanted javascripts & Ghostery tracks the trackers, although there may be some overlap.

406:

Scott Sanford @ 371:

Most users of the Web are unwilling to tackle the task of taming Javascript...

I believe you. *tired sigh*

I already use NoScript but have a question that I hope is a no-brainer to someone who's studied Javascript antics more than I have. Too often my computer will warn me of an unresponsive script and offer to stop it. Is there a way to make Firefox show me the scripts running in the background and let me kill them? This seems like an obvious feature but I have not found it.

Oh yeah! If you ever get an answer to that question somewhere else, I hope you will share it here.

407:

That "fifty million net worth" threshold thing for signing up to a tax haven isn't particular to a political party; it can look a bit like it but money is fundamentally apolitical on all issues except "keeping the loot" and "no one can tell me what to do".

There's an alliance between the money and the slavers; it doesn't make the two groups the same, even if there are individuals in both groups. Neither maps reliably to the GOP. (The GOP contains members of each.)

Take a look at Jeff Sharlet's The Family for another major faction input into the "facts are what we say they are" tendency.

408:

Long nose trucks have a couple of advantages that immediately come to mind.

You aren't sitting on top of the engine, which can lead to more cabin space and more ability to deal with noise and vibration.

More possibilities for improving aerodynamics, thus decreasing fuel consumption

You also can access the engine without tilting up the driver space, which means you don't need to worry about items going flying around the cabin.

So if you are in a country like the US where you aren't space constrained there is little incentive to go with anything else.

409:

JBS: The New York Daily News is unavailable in the EU because GDPR (our personal data protection directive) privacy rights are too draconian for their intrusive ad/spyware. And I can't be bothered bringing up the VPN just to read one article. Summary, plz?

410:

Um....in the meantime back to brexit. (!)

Since the EU is waiting for parliament to make up its mind and parliament is now essentially in check-mate mode (both sides blame each other so nothing is moving) have the odds just increased greatly of us crashing out on Oct 31st? 6 days and counting btw.

While I'm here these brexit diagrams can be intresting to look over too;

https://techpolitics.eu/downloads/brexitwhatnext/


ljones

411:

Skippers Canyon road is amazingly scenic and that link is worth looking at just for the photos.

That website also lists Hart's Pass in the US Rockies. I've been there, and yup, wouldn't do that one on a rainy day. And didn't enjoy meeting oncoming traffic while I was coming back down. But since it's an access point to the Pacific Crest Trail, I will do it again.

412:

Prompted by the original post, I have been reading (have almost finished, in fact) Norman Dixon's On the Psychology of Military Incompetence. It occurs to me that All-Highest is a near-perfect point-for-point case of an Authoritarian incompetent military commander.

413:

Long time since I've read it, so I can't remember if it mentions a certain non-fictional figure's use of that title. But - yeah, the cap fits.

414:

JBS @298: "They aren't "getting something back for their loss" because they aren't losing anything and it's a LIE to tell them that they are."

That's objectively wrong. We **know** that racism pays: blacks are paid less than whites for the same jobs, they get fewer jobs for the same qualifications, they receive reduced quality education, worse health care, etc., etc., even controlling for poverty. This is what they are losing--the ability to take those advantages for granted. An egalitarian economy in which every demographic is working at maximum productivity would probably be better for everyone, but that's uncertain, and in the future, and we know that human beings discount benefits proportional to uncertainty and time deferred. Plus, no one is asking them, so it's being done to them, and that's never fun. Point is--a rational person could accept the facts and you and I understand them, and still prefer privileges in the present.

""HOW did they come to those mistaken beliefs?" Not excusing them; I just want to know where they came from."

Over-reliance on anecdotal data: they remember their parents making a prediction that the neighborhood would go to shi* once those people moved in--and now they look at those old neighborhoods, and it seems to them that their parents were right. That their parents moving out was one of the causal factors in making it come true is something they don't get.

"Racism and meritocracy are NOT separate issues. There can be no meritocracy in a racist society. You can't have a meritocracy where "best" is defined by the color of your skin, your ethnic heritage or religious background."

But a society can be relatively free from racism and still prefer meritocracy over egalitarianism. Besides, it's not an objective question--it's a question of values. Believing that one race is more deserving than another is not empirically wrong because that's not an empirical question (provided the belief is espoused openly--the justifications for this belief might be wrong, depending on what they are). They can, of course, be immoral, but that's a different debate.

"You can't have a meritocracy without egalitarianism. "Egalitarianism" isn't about outcomes, it's EQUAL OPPORTUNITY to do your best; to be the "best" you can be irregardless of your race, creed or color. Everybody gets the chance to try and succeed OR fail ... the system doesn't give anyone an unfair advantage or an unfair handicap."

That, my friend, opens up a whole 'nother can of worms, that's been the source of centuries of philosophical debate here in the states. Since this post is already too long, I'll just point out that what is or isn't fair is also not an empirical or objective question.

"How is your "business leader elite" to be chosen?"

I would describe the beliefs of my more conservative brethren (since that's what I'm doing here) as "Social Darwinism Light". In other words, without being able to articulate it in words, they assume that the ability to overcome life's challenges and succeed is self-evident. A CEO is a CEO because the are good at being a CEO, full stop (unless the company goes broke, then it's their own damn fault). Bear in mind that a lot of these people actually are corporate managers of one kind or another, and have a non-zero chance of one day becoming some sort of executive themselves.

"I understand how human nature works, but don't justify a system that favors some because they were born into high status & privilege and punishes others because they were not by calling it a "meritocracy". That's a LIE."

Oh, believe me, I'm not justifying it. I'm refining my tactics. And taking Sun Tzu's advice. IMHO, by calling it a mere lie, I actually think you are *underestimating* the true insidious nature of racism. If it were just a lie, all we would have to do to eliminate it is tell the truth. Sadly, we've been trying that and it isn't working. It's actually one manifestation of human nature.

Graydon @300: "Egalitarianism is totally about outcomes. If it's not about outcomes, it doesn't persist."

Sad, but true. Give people unequal outcomes, and say goodbye to equal opportunity. "Death taxes!"

Whitroth @309: "Ok, *now* I understand where you're coming from - they're upset about not being able to walk to the front of the line by default."

Congrats, you get it. Double irony points if you recognize where this line comes from: "You see people cutting in line in front of you!"

Public Service Announcement follows: I realize you are probably kidding, but we try very hard to promote non-violent protest, for a variety of reasons, most of which will occur to you.

But yes, real estate agents back in the day were basically ratfucking.

Windscale @329: "This is my thing about immigration I think. I'm not anti-immigration, but I think I'm for immigration control. The reason for that is that there are certain societal norms that are really important for the happy continuance of our society."

Bear in mind that here in the states, immigration is a different issue ("blacks" here refers to Americans of African racial descent--most of whom were "immigrated" here against their will, and whose exclusion from integration was literal and deliberate).

But otherwise, I don't disagree. Every nation has a right to regulate who enters their boundaries. Now, if we could only agree on the entry criteria...

415:

Graham is crackers: Lindsey Graham, one-time Clinton impeachment manager, leads the charge against Trump impeachment in the Senate
By Daily News Editorial Board
New York Daily News |
Oct 24, 2019 | 3:59 PM
Managing impeachment hypocrisy.
Managing impeachment hypocrisy. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Get your head around this if you can: Sen. Lindsey Graham Thursday unveiled a resolution condemning House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, on the grounds that it has proceeded to date largely behind closed doors.

Graham is the man who, as a Republican member of the House in 1999, voted articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton out of the Judiciary Committee almost entirely on the basis of the behind-closed-doors investigation of one Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.

He is the man who, as a manager of the impeachment when Clinton went to trial in the Senate, argued that a president who lied under oath about a consensual sexual relationship should be removed because, “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role.”

And who back then said, “The day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is that day that he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from Congress over the impeachment process away from Congress and he became the judge and jury.”

Now he ignores outright defiance of multiple subpoenas by the Trump administration.
[More Opinion] Why is New York cracking down on political speech? »

Now he pillories as “illegitimate” an inquiry that has already put many key players under oath, uncovering previously unknown and so far unrefuted facts about President Trump’s malfeasance and corruption.

Now he whines about secrecy despite the fact that 47 Republican committee members, totaling about a quarter of the caucus, are allowed to participate in the depositions in question.

Now he bobs, weaves and ducks to contend that a president pressuring a foreign power to trump up an investigation into a domestic political rival, quite likely by withholding congressionally mandated military aid, is a-okay.

Now he pretends his late, old honorable friend John McCain wouldn’t see right through his shameful abandonment of all principle in his pitiful metamorphosis into a partisan dead-ender.

416:

Sorry for the lack of quotation marks ..my copy of word isn't behaving itself in co-operation with a download from TOR. All taken from text from the original article.

417:

Wait, you mean co-ops and collectivization?! Oh, horrors, think of all the ROI banks and hedge funds, er, you lose.

The other problem is the Native Americans did things like three-sisters crops, growing *three* separate vegetables in the same field... which is *not* something viable, in general, with mechanized planting and harvesting.

418:

I've seen plenty of confusion perpetrated in writings concerning railways whose rapid gain of altitude is one of their principal features. They are often described as something like "it goes from altitude a to altitude b in a distance of r (cor, that's dead steep eh?)", with it being thoroughly unclear whether r is the projected horizontal distance between the two points, the ray-of-light straight line distance, or the number-of-wheel-revolutions distance along the track. I've encountered all three, depending on where the author got the figures from (which often means depending on where that source in turn got them from, and so on, back perhaps to some enthusiastic journalist at the opening of the line who didn't even get it right to begin with...) and while in some cases you can fairly easily dismiss the wrong options as being obviously silly, in others you have to refer to independent mapping to figure out what they're on about.

419:

Yep. And it would sure suggest why some of their supporters stay with them.

Be "fun" to suggest that to a supporter, if you really wanted to pull someone's chain.

420:

Big-selling author syndrome has been around for a while. I've always said that if Marion Zimmer Bradley had John W. Campbell editing Mists of Avalon, it would have been a third shorter, and a Hugo-winner. (That is, if reading it wouldn't have given Campbell a heart attack.)

421:

Actually, I'm reading a book right now that's among those being considered for a Compton-Crook Award, Breach, and it's *not* gaslighting and *very* good. It's set in the mid/late 50's, in Berlin... in an alternate world where magic works... and other than that, it could have been written in back then. The writing is *good*, and the cultural context (she walks into a meeting, "get us coffee, why don't you, though she's not a secretary, etc) is dead on.

422:

Well, to be real, its competition is the NY Post, of the famous headline "Headless Body Found In Topless Bar".Also, they are sorta-kinda liberal, where the NYPost would consider Atilla the Hun liberal.

423:

Two-trailer semis are also called "18-wheelers", and they're common in California. (I understand that Utah allows "road trains" with three trailers, but many states do not.)
I think the maximum length for one-trailer rigs is 70 feet - that's the usual length for truck scales.

425:

Haven't read it, but the Amazon description... sorry, Bay of Pigs was *not* military incompetence, it was a political pipe dream. They were *sure* that The People (who were completely beyond fed up with the dictator Batista, and the Mafia, literally, running Havana and a lot else) were going to rise and throw out the socialist Castro... and they were expecting support from the US, which the CIA had promised (apparently) and the new Democratic administration said, "are you stupid?"

426:

You wrote:
But yes, real estate agents back in the day were basically ratfucking.
---

"Back in the day"? I live in Montgomery Co, MD, a DC 'burb. RIGHT NOW, they're doing their best - what do you think "house flipping" is, and why do you think housing is so expensive in so many areas?

427:

Haven't read it, but the Amazon description... sorry, Bay of Pigs was *not* military incompetence

Your analysis is not inconsistent with what Dixon has to say about Bay of Pigs.

428:

The 25yo driver of the lorry is reported (Friday evening) as remaining in custody, with no mention of charges. Being detained for his health is a possibility I guess?

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/oct/25/essex-lorry-deaths-investigation-gathers-pace-with-more-arrests

429:

To expand on what I just wrote: Dixon does not cite Bay of Pigs as an example of military incompetence. In fact, Bay of Pigs is not one of the examples he describes and analyzes in detail. It is only brought up briefly near the end of the book to make a specific point.

430:

Elderly Cynic @398:

They block it in Europe. I really MUST get around to signing up to a good 'anonymiser', but it takes effort to find one :-(

I rather like FrootVPN. It lets me be in Stockholm without 15 hours of air travel, and, worse, a change of flights at O'Hare International.


Arnold @415:

The NY Daily News carries no water for the Trump crime family and its enablers for the simple reason that they're in New York City and have decades of experience of them as a crude and vicious organised crime mob.

(On another matter, er, I hate to have to say this, but even NYC tabloids are entitled to copyright title.)