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The obligatory general election discussion post

This should be a trenchant, witty, explanation of what's going on in British politics right now, in the run up to a sudden-death general election on December 12th, but ... I can't. Even.

One the one hand: the Tory party has doubled down on their traditional Ugly Party vibe, appointing a swivel-eyed Trump impersonator who takes tips from Steve Bannon and triangulates his policies against the toadlike Nigel Farage. They've lurched so far to the right that they're basically indistinguishable from the circa-2012 Brexit party, except insofar as they actually have some MPs.

On the other hand: we have Jeremy Corbyn (again), now in a better suit, with a bundle of decent policies and a nuanced policy on Brexit that will merely piss off all the remaining 2 pro-Brexit Labour voters.

Above them both: a British political press that is cravenly, openly, pro-Conservative, to the extent of editing out a Question Time audience laughing at Boris Johnson when he was asked about sincerity — everyone knows his pants are on full afterburner, all the time — and doing everything they can to smear the opposition.

In the far corner: the SNP, who have their shit together and look set to sweep Scotland, but can't get more than 50 seats and therefore at best can only aspire to hold the balance of power between two major parties who are deeply hostile to them.

In the near corner: the Liberal Democrats, led by Jo Swinson, who was one of David Cameron's most loyal ministers between 2010 and 2015, based on her voting record, and who seems to be positioning her party (traditionally socially liberal but slightly to the right of Labour) to make a solid play for what used to be the Conservative mainstream.

The conservatives, according to all the polls (which are generally owned by conservative party activists) are in the lead. But their lead is about 3% slimmer than it was at this stage in the 2017 campaign, where Theresa May went from a 20% lead to a hung parliament in ten weeks flat. Also, there have been a record number of last-minute voter registrations (registrations closed last night), including a lot of first-time voters aged 18-35 who are obviously going to vote for the parties of student loans and stripping them of EU residence and travel rights.

And Corbyn, just this morning, dropped the nuclear weapon of British politics, a huge trove of government trade negotiation documents proving that the NHS is up for sale in Boris's proposed trade deal with the USA after Brexit. This, in British political terms, is about as popular as poisoning the dog, consigning Granny to a nursing home against her will, and fucking the Thanksgiving Turkey on the table in front of the entire family. However, with the toxic media environment we've currently got, there's no telling whether this news will even reach the swing voters in 2- and 3-way marginals who might just possibly need to know that this is what's coming for them in event of a Conservative majority.

It remains to be seen how this omnishambles of absolutely British proportions is going to play out, but I'd like to leave you with Sir John Curtice (one of the UK's longest-running and most expert election analysts), who opines that it's an unpopularity contest between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, with two outcomes: if BoJo gets a majority (325 or more seats) there will be a hard Brexit at the end of January 2020, and if he falls short of that, even if Corbyn doesn't become our next Prime Minister, there is no path forward that doesn't include a second Brexit referendum.

As for me?

I would like to vote for the minority party of which I am a member with a clean conscience, as I could in 2017. But right now, my constituency is a 3-way marginal: SNP incumbent, but also strong Labour and Conservative challenges. And it leans Conservative enough to have returned a Tory to Hollyrood (the Scottish parliament). So I'm going to vote tactically, for the SNP incumbent, who is a member of a centre-left party that adamantly rejects Brexit. Not my first choice, but the gap between the SNP and the Conservative candidate in 2017 was on the same order as the total of minority party votes, and this isn't a time to make a principled vote that splits the anti-Brexit opposition.

... And I'm back to considering talking to my GP about anti-depressants again, because this totally sucks (even though I know what I, personally, need to do).

614 Comments

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1:

Yep, I'd prefer to vote Lib Dem but in my constituency Labour looks like the best anti Tory bet. And so it goes...

2:

As an American, I used to envy the British parliamentary system. At least you guys have multiple parties that more or less told you who they were, sometimes in one word, e.g. "Labour" or "Brexit". We only get to choose which of exactly two evils to vote for every other year, assuming one party even bothers to field a candidate. (Third parties? Hah!) Especially this election, though, I now see how you're gored by the horns of a dilemma, just as we are.

Some sort of ranked voting system would improve ALL our lives but the people who might authorize it are the ones whose re-election depends on NOT giving voters a choice.

3:

Yeah :-(

Another referendum would help, a bit, but I don't really see a way out that doesn't go through some years of economic and social chaos. However, that's vastly better than what we will get if Bozo gets even a narrow majority.

4:

Can I have some of those anti-depressants please? I'm resigned to tactical voting for my Labour MP - who gained the seat in 2017 from the odious Brexiteering Tory incumbent. the missus cant bring herself to do the same because of JC's idiocy. Our MP is a decent local MP - classic centrist labour and strongly remain but keeping a low profile so his glorious leader doesn't kick off.

But christ being asked to chose between JC and BJ is like being asked to chose between the lesser of 2 village idiots.

I cant think of a Labour leader in the last 25 years who wouldn't be doing a better job than Corbyn, and I'm tempted to say even Michael Foot might have been in with a better shot.

All he had to do was look vaguely centrist for 6 months, instead he had to go "full on left wing" - or at least left enough for the papers to paint him as a communist. I suspect underneath it all is actually quite a principled man, but FFS what we need now is someone with just a quantum more of principle than BoJo who gleefully sold his years ago.

At this point I would willing vote for BLiar - and I hate him - but at least he knew how to get the press on side - even the Guardian shows distaste for Corbyn - look at that anti-semitism piece yesterady. Fair play to Charlie for pointing out that the Rabbi in question was hardly representative.

In an ideal world the press would not have such an influence on this election - but unfortunately they do - so we are fucked even before you factor in whatever omni-shambles is happening on social media. (I abstain from everything except an unlogged in follow on Twitter of OGH).

Swinson looked like a compromise choice until she started promoting herself as the next-PM, and even the statemanlike Sturgeon came out with that stupidity over Trident.

Its like none of them actually want to be elected, except for Bojo who will sell his kids, family and country down the river.

Bar a late surprise I think we're heading for a Tory majority and thats depressing as hell.

The only thing I have been able to do to me the illusion of some choice is to chuck some money at the Crowdfunder trying to unseat BoJo - but I suspect that's ultimately a nihilistic action which will let some other Tory Headbanger in.

5:

In Watford (a three-way marginal) the Green candidate has stood down under the terms of the Remain Alliance which here is represented by the Lib Dems. Two of the tactical voting sites are recommending Labour as having the best chance of keeping the Tory out. It's going to be a tricky choice. I hate FTPT.

6:

It is quite the CatastroFuckingShambles of an election, isn't it?

I can't think of one bright spot in the whole thing. A Tory leader whose whole career has been a masterclass in shafting anything (Both literally and figuratively) that crossed his path and who is so manifestly unfit for public office it makes my teeth hurt just to think about it. On the other side a man whose whole political career has been based on sniping at his own party from the backbenches and has been propelled into power by a entryist political sect. But even he doesn't deserve the press he gets from the likes of the Daily Hate. He could invent a cure for cancer and the British press would lead with "Red Corbyn Threat To Close All Cancer Wards".

Still there's a good chance that BoJo might lose his seat at the election. Now there is no consitutional impediment to him serving as PM while not a member of parliament but I wonder if it really would be tolerated by the country as a whole.

Meanwhile, north of the border, Wee Nippie is well on the way to IndyRef2. I still think it would be a mini-Brexit with the same economic damage effects as its big brother but I can't help think that getting rid of the likes of Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Farage and their followers from public life would make it a price worth paying.

Meanwhile the world is burning and the seas are rising while we squabble over the colour of our passports. Fuqsache, we are so utterly borked.

After you with the SSRIs, Charlie.

7:

Eight states -- Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, South Carolina and Vermont -- have an interesting "fusion voting" system where candidates can be listed under multiple parties, and it both keeps track of how you voted for a candidate and assigns the winner by total votes across parties.

In practical terms, that means that you can vote for Rip Rightwing as a Dominionist, an AntiTaxer, or a Republican; you can vote for Mary Moderate as a Green, a Farmer or a Democrat. The votes count towards making each party a "major" party and, presumably, influence the candidates' eventual policies.

It's clearly not as representative of actual sentiment as a real multiparty system, but it seems better (to me) than the other states are doing.

8:

Swinson looked like a compromise choice until she started promoting herself as the next-PM, and even the statemanlike Sturgeon came out with that stupidity over Trident.

Reminder: ditching Trident is long-standing SNP policy because Trident is about as popular as rabies in Glasgow (our largest city) because the subs are based only a few miles out of town. Thereby turning it into a major strategic target for the sake of some other country's sabre-rattling.

Scotland doesn't have an independent defense policy because Scotland isn't independent, but the papers coming out of the SNP suggest in event of independence it'd resemble Ireland or New Zealand, albeit possibly retaining NATO membership (e.g. maintaining the base at Leuchars in return for borrowing a fighter squadron from other, bigger countries -- Scotland can't reasonably sustain a QRA force of Typhoons and coastal/minesweeper security and a viable land army: something has to give).

Corbyn looks pretty good from where I'm standing: he's not a swivel-eyed carpetbagger like Blair or a neoliberal apparatchik like Brown, and he seems to genuinely want to fix the big social problems that have emerged over 40 years of right-wing rule -- and I include his New Labour predecessors in that: they put a sticking plaster on it, but didn't try to actually stitch up the wound.

9:

Meanwhile, north of the border, Wee Nippie is well on the way to IndyRef2. I still think it would be a mini-Brexit with the same economic damage effects as its big brother but I can't help think that getting rid of the likes of Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Farage and their followers from public life would make it a price worth paying.

That's about where I stand these days.

On the one hand, Scexit would be a negotiation nightmare and a clusterfuck with horrible short-to-medium-term economic effects. Brexit in miniature (somewhat mitigated by a return to the EU fold).

On the other hand: Scotland has been ruled by Conservative governments it voted against for well over half a century now. A chance to make our own mistakes without being farmed by external rentier overlords would be good.

10:

Funny isn't it: we all say we'd like honesty in politics, and here we have comments actually wanting politicians to lie. I kind of dig that JC is balls-to-the-wall. It might not be convenient, it might not be comfortable, and it most likely isn't a winning strategy. But fret not, we'll have the liars we ask for. And future politicians will refrain from any honesty whatsoever, citing Corbyn and his failure as the reason.

11:

Scexit would be a negotiation nightmare and a clusterfuck with horrible short-to-medium-term economic effects. Brexit in miniature (somewhat mitigated by a return to the EU fold).

Sadly Brexit makes the economic case for Scottish independence worse. At the last referendum we were looking at both Scotland and the rUK being members of the EU after independence. Now the deal would be Scotland in the EU and rUK out. How that would work in practise is beyond me. I imagine we would have a situation similar to the RoI and the UK with freedom of movement between the two states but there's no telling how stupid things can get these days.

12:

On the SNP only being able to get 50 seats or so: Perhaps they should follow the example of the Bavarian nationalists, and run candidates in the rest of the country.

"Don't you want to get rid of us?"

(Example poster: https://www.informelles.de/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/plakat_bayern_loswerden.jpg )

13:

'All he had to do was look vaguely centrist for 6 months, instead he had to go "full on left wing" - or at least left enough for the papers to paint him as a communist. '

Well, that's the thing, isn't it. That might have made /you/ like him more, but how many of those millions of people who've just registered to vote might not have bothered if they weren't being offered something radical?

It's not 1997 any more. Centre left parties that stick to centrism get bodied - see France and Germany for examples. Just because you yourself are centrist does not mean that the electorate is in 2019.

14:

Some sort of ranked voting system would improve ALL our lives but the people who might authorize it are the ones whose re-election depends on NOT giving voters a choice.

Well, there are some small-scale, mostly local government experiments with ranked-choice voting. The most prominent is in the state of Maine.

Ranked-choice voting in the United States

Now, if only the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact could come into force. But I don't see that happening as logn as the Republican party has enough clout in state governments to block it.

15:

Just an outside observer but Jeremy Corbyn seems to have a Hillary Clinton problem. The media has spent so much time shitting on him that actual beliefs don't matter. It is obvious to outside observers that he should take one for the team and step aside, but when in history has a leader ever given up power voluntarily? In the US we learned that the Hillary Clinton bogeyman of people's imaginations was scarier than the very real monster of Trump. Seems like a similar dynamic playing out in the UK.

16:

You also have Maine using ranked choice voting in all elections and it has already made third part voting a safe option, as Republicans were in the lead, but after independent candidates were eliminated, the second choice votes elected a Democrat: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranked-choice_voting_in_the_United_States#Maine,_2018%E2%80%93present

Give it a few years and as people become more confident in the system, an independent might come to power

17:

Love the Corbyn cancer ward comment!

I'm distinctly left-leaning, but earlier this year joined LD as they seemed to be the only party actually offering any hope to anyone hoping against hope that brexit could be stopped. Instead, they seemed to have reverted to the politician's ground state of party and power before anything else. Labour's 3 year prevarication has melted my brain, and their waffling about anti-semitism rather than doing something tough, then telling the press to fuck right off seems to have done them endless harm.

Even now, Corbyn is being attacked for AS, while the fucktard Johnson looks to be piling the country into the dumpster, and reaching for the paraffin and matches.

A curse on all their houses. Can we not have some SNP candidates down here ?

18:

Actually, it's unclear. If you have looked at what the proto-fascists are proposing (which is not the same as that which they are publicising), you will see that they are likely to sink the economy in the medium- to long-term, and even well-off people will get shafted. Whether an independent Scotland could get out in time and recover is less clear.

19:

when in history has a leader ever given up power voluntarily?

Interesting. If you google exactly this question, you will come up with several lists. I don't know enough of the history to evaluate most of these, but one name that was mentioned seems to me a perfect fit: George Washington.

Washington could have been president for life, king in all but name (and maybe even in name) if he had decided to go that way. But he stepped down. He was a tired and sick old man when he declined to run for a second reelection, and he had had enough. I'm not going to double down on Washington hagiography -- he was a bad dude in many ways. But in this he deserves credit.

20:

That was just a throwaway comment about human nature, not saying it doesn't happen, but I suspect you'll find it far more common for leaders quit due to losing an election, ill health, scandal, revolution, etc than saying "you know, I think someone else could do this job better than me".

21:

The problem is in favour of who? Corbyn is one of the few decent people left at the top of Westminster politics. MacDonnell is a diehard Old Labour fanatic, and I don't know of anyone else who is both to the left of Churchill and competent. And the Blairites would make things worse, just as Blair did.

22:

I suspect you'll find it far more common for leaders quit due to losing an election, ill health, scandal, revolution, etc than saying "you know, I think someone else could do this job better than me".

Yes, I agree with that.

23:

I'm already on the antidepressants, but more of them might not be a bad idea... except I know from experience that I'd be right in the middle of the dose-change trough on election day.

Here in Derby North, we have an... interesting... situation. The sitting MP, Chris Williamson, has twice been suspended from the Labour Party for unrepentant antisemitism (we've had the most mealy-mouthed non-apology letters from him) and has decided, for reasons best known to himself, to stand as an independent socialist candidate in order to split the vote. I'm really hoping for a Tory collapse and a Brexit Party split, but I'm not optimistic.

24:

"Don't you want to get rid of us?"

If they did that, they'd face the very real -- and horribly embarrassing -- prospect of becoming the majority party in the House of Commons in a platform of leaving the HoC. (Turns out the SNP are rather popular in England and Wales: they just don't run there.)

25:

I think someone's been doctoring the Westminster water.
All three major (English) party leaders are plainly bonkers, apart form other considerations ...

Swinson REALLY disappoints - she should be cosying up to the right of the Labour party to defeat Brexit ....
Didn't know about Corby's infprmation-dump - GOOD
What should swing it is someone to conveneintly "leak" BOZO's links with Putin & his cronies that has temporarily been suppressed.

In my constituency I'm voting Stella, who is loudly "remain" ... bothe she & her mother have told me, personally, that they despair of Corbyn regarding Brexit.

gorcycoale @ 4
Actually JC IS "Principled" - unfortynately he's also a fuckwit .....

Tony C @ 11
Sadly Brexit makes the economic case for Scottish independence worse. Entirely correct ...
EC @ 17 ...
No, they couldn't ... we'll all sink together.
Disagree re BLairites ... in these circumstances - not otherwise.
In the same way as I'm with "Momentum" of all people, as they are agin JC & firmly "remain"

26:
Some sort of ranked voting system would improve ALL our lives but the people who might authorize it are the ones whose re-election depends on NOT giving voters a choice.

The British electorate had that option in the 2011 Alternative Vote referendum, but blew it 68%–32%. Even if you are a Tory or Labour voter (both parties having campaigned No, on the general theory that turkeys don't vote for Thanksgiving, or Christmas), as a voter it is in your best interest to have a voting system that maximizes the sincerity of your vote.

27:

The problem is in favour of who?

I'd like to say "in favour of Dianne Abbott", but you know what? The racist shit-storm that would trigger would make the whole Labour/Anti-Semitism row look like a Reform Synagogue Service.

(She's the first black female MP and the longest-serving black MP ever in the House of Commons, and also the Labour shadow Home Secretary, where she will do a fuckton of good if Corbyn accidentally wins the election -- try to imagine the Windrush scandal happening on her watch, rather than Theresa May/Amber Rudd's.)

If not for the massive upswing of racism and xenophobia since 2000 (aggravated by the press, who hate her), she'd stand a good chance of being the UK's first black Prime Minister. But now ...? Only if Corbyn wins this election then retires/resigns/dies and Momentum rally behind her.

28:

Not quite reasons best known to himself - the redundancy payment for an MP leaving Parliament is far higher (over £10k more) if they lose the seat in an election than by simply resigning.

The Labour MPs who switched to the Lib Dems and are fighting for different seats took a far harder option.

29:

If I could vote (which I can't, non-resident and all that) I'd be voting strategically ABC* — which is how I voted in the just-happened federal election here.


*Anyone But Conservative.

30:

I'd like to say "in favour of Dianne Abbott"

I'd like to say that too if only for the LOLs. She could only attract 7% of the vote when she stood for the leadership in 2010. She makes the Magic Grandad look electable.

31:

We had one city (London, Ontario) conduct a ranked-ballot election in the last round of municipal elections here in Ontario. The conclusion is that ranked-balloting did not make much difference in the campaign (just as nasty / civil as the previous) or outcome.

However, some factors that influenced the election and outcome:
- municipal politics is non-party in Ontario, although party affiliations of candidates is generally known
- the previous mayor was not running, so no incumbent for that major race

One drawback was the increased counting / calculation time required, in that most winners were not declared until following morning. Apparently, there was additional controls implemented for this first trial of ranked-ballot.

32:

Yes, she's plausible, though I have mixed feelings about her effectiveness - and as you say, she has attracted nearly as much enmity as Corbyn (which makes me warm to her, of course). But I agree that we could really, really do with a session of her as Home Secretary in a government with a working majority.

Re #23: yeah, go for it!

More seriously, I can't imagine any other circumstances (short of revolution) which could get an adequate political restructuring. Especially if the Scottish people were reluctant to support Scexit, she might compromise and create a proper federal system with more civilised voting.

33:

RCV arguably made a difference in the 2018 Maine District 2 representative election. The Republican won the majority of the first-choice votes. But after reallocation of losing votes, a Democrat, Jared Golden, won, and is now the rep for Maine District 2.

34:

One drawback was the increased counting / calculation time required, in that most winners were not declared until following morning.

That's actually an advantage at the federal level.

A consistent complaint from the West is that the election is decided before they vote (because returns from more easterly ridings get reported in real time as they are available).

A simple fix would be not reporting results until the last poll closes, but for some reason that is held to be impossible (or not worth it), so having the results actually not available would be just as good.

35:

Also, many states now allow (or require) voting by mail, and those votes can take forever (well, weeks) to count, especially if they only require the ballot to be postmarked by Election Day. So the extra delay required to evaluate RCV ballots is not that important.

36:

The UK hasn't had a non-horrible Home Secretary since Roy Jenkins, 1965-67 (and a second turn in the barrel from 1974-76). Jenkins presided over the biggest reforms in policing since Robert Peel, abolished flogging in prisons, supported abortion and the decriminalization of homosexuality, resisted calls to restore the death penalty during the Northern Irish troubles, and was an advocate of integration, which today would be called multiculturalism.

It's doubtful that the Home Office as an institution could accept -- or survive -- an HS like Jenkins today. Which is why we badly need one, and I suspect Abbott is the only leading politician who could do the job.

37:

There is a view that the Home Office is itself mortally corrupting to any minister who attempts to run it. I'd be happy if it was to be split into pieces, but given that the Home Secretary is one of a handful of great offices of State (PM, Home Sec, Foreign Sec, Chancellor of the Exchequer), I can't see that happening either.

38:

Sadly Brexit makes the economic case for Scottish independence worse. At the last referendum we were looking at both Scotland and the rUK being members of the EU after independence. Now the deal would be Scotland in the EU and rUK out. How that would work in practise is beyond me. I imagine we would have a situation similar to the RoI and the UK with freedom of movement between the two states but there's no telling how stupid things can get these days.

If an independent Scotland is the EU and rump-UK has a comprehensive free trade agreement (you know, the one BoJo claims he can get done in single-figure months[1]) with the EU, then surely Scotland/rump-UK trade would be covered by said agreement? No particular reason why Scotland shouldn't join the Common Travel Area alongside the UK and the ROI, the only fly in the ointment being that when Scotland joined the EU it would have to commit to eventually[2] fully joining the Schengen Area which would be incompatible with the CTA. *Maybe* the EU might relent slightly, and offer the same sort of conditional opt-out that the ROI has - you can remain outside Schengen only so long as you remain in the CTA? Otherwise, yes that's a future problem ...

[1] I suspect he'll try for a bare bones zero tariff, zero quota deal (thus screwing over trade involving services) and then blame any resulting non-tariff barriers the EU puts up as being "the EU punishing the UK for leaving", whether he'll succeed on either count is another matter.
[2] In the same way AFAIK that it would have to commit to eventually adopting the Euro, though there's no maximal timescale given nor any method listed for the EU to "force" adoption. This doesn't stop the ultra-unionists claiming that Scotland would have to adopt the Euro immediately upon independence, and then in the next breath claiming that Spain would veto Scotland's membership application for the rest of time!

39:

The two US states whose mail ballots take forever to count are Arizona and California. Basically, both are using an absentee ballot system intended to handle a small number of ballots to process the majority of the ballots -- about 75% of all votes cast in Arizona and about 65% in California. The states that have gone to full-on vote-by-mail -- Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Utah (except for one county), and Hawaii starting in 2020 -- bought systems that automate what are slow manual processes in Arizona and California, and count their ballots in a reasonable time.

40:

But it makes for even more boring election night coverage for the media (as if that were possible). We might have to watch regularly scheduled programs or sports rather than endless forecasts of potential seat counts.

41:

That's a bit unfair to several since then - they may not have been actually nice, but they weren't all utter shits, though (at my estimate) 2/3 of them were. I agree that Jenkins is the last one who deserves any respect, and that Abbott is the only plausible successor.

To Bellinghman (#36): yes, I have heard that, but what puzzles me is the speed at which the loss of contact with reality occurs.

42:

Why would Scotland not be able to afford a army/navy/airforce? GDP seems comparable to Denmark which manages all 3 to some degree.

43:

For what it's worth, I think the policies Labour announced are probably a step in the right direction. But it doesn't matter, because nobody reads a manifesto, and the vast majority of people don't follow "the news" with any degree of seriousness. All that matters is how you appear on the 30-second TV clip (wonky glasses, somewhat lecturing tone, earnest but not slick), and what the government can squeeze out as headline narratives - today was beautiful, the scrapping of marriage allowance, which will cost £250/year to those affected, is portrayed as "Corbyn concedes lower earners could pay more tax" as if it affects all lower earners.

I grew up in the Netherlands, where we have our own excitement when it comes to politics. But the fundamental principle that no party can ever get a majority, so every government is a compromise, and as a consequence we're used to not getting what we want even if our party is the biggest party, is one I increasingly think creates a more mature way of talking about politics.

44:

Canada is gonna be very crowded, soon.

45:


the only fly in the ointment being that when Scotland joined the EU it would have to commit to eventually[2] fully joining the Schengen Area

The RoI has an opt-out from the Schengen agreement (I presume this is due to it being incompatible with the current arrangements with the UK) and I presume Scotland would be able to negotiate one for the same reason.

46:

Two might-have-beens.

1)The AV referendum could have been on the basis of counting and implementing on a constituency by constituency basis. Most constituencies voted no, but several voted yes. This would have resulted in AV becoming more familiar, leading to the FPTP constituencies asking to change.

2)We could have had a dual track system for one or two general elections before the referendum. Every-one votes twice. Once under FPTP. Once under AV. The results are counted and the MP's returned according to FPTP (because we haven't had the referendum yet) but the AV results are also counted and published, even though they don't do anything. Every-one gets to see the difference reported in the newspapers, resulting in a better informed referendum.

47:

To me the biggest surprise to date is how poorly Boris and his team have done this campaign.

While not expecting a great campaign, this is the same guy who successfully won campaigns for London Mayor and the Brexit referendum and the current mess seems out of character. Perhaps the Conservative Party problem isn't so much the leader, as the party itself can't run a campaign at this point?

[yes, I know everyone here hates him and sees through his lies and charade, but that doesn't apply the electorate in general].

48:

@43: Canada is gonna be very crowded, soon.

Nah, Canada is the second largest country in the world by area (9,984,670 sq. km.), with a population of only 35,881,659 (July 2018 est.), so its population density is only 3.59 persons/sq. km. Of course, most of that area is arctic, but hey, it's warming up nicely. And since most of the population lives within 200 km of the border with the U.S., there's plenty of room for homesteading.

(numbers from The CIA World Factbook)

49:

#33: Re not reporting until eveyone checks in that's mostly done in the US, they don't tend to call the presidential elections until California closes (this is where someone from Hawaii and or Alaska gets grumpy). Re more complicated voting systems I'd point out that Australia manages just fine with a large, Federal political system very similar to Canada's (and compulsory voting even!)

50:

Yet another reason to do it :-)

Seriously, just announce all the results at once, when they're ready. Allow a day or two for counting and recounting (the automatic recounts triggered when results are within x%, not the candidate-requested ones).

Announce the results at noon in Winnipeg. The East Coast gets them late afternoon, the West Coast gets them first thing in the morning. (Canada is 5.5 time zones wide, FWIW.)

51:

At least you don't have the forever campaigns we have here. I am SOOO ready to vote in the next national election. I'm not sure what's worse - an imminent election with an unpredictable but potentially dire outcome, or a distant election with another year of polarizing rhetoric.

Us USAians might as well have the election now; recent polling indicates most voters have made up their minds on El Cheeto Grande versus whoever the Democratic candidate will be. In the meantime we have daily doses of administration awfulness accompanied by internecine sniping between the Democratic candidates.

52:

Why would Scotland not be able to afford a army/navy/airforce? GDP seems comparable to Denmark which manages all 3 to some degree.

Firstly, all military organizations have fixed costs -- you need headquarters, you need training staff, you need barracks, you need ports or airfields. All of these come out of your budget before you buy one rowboat or one Cessna or one rifle.

I'd like to note that the USA has 50% of the entire world's military spending, and the EU has 60% of the rest: but the USA massively outclasses the EU because it has just one Pentagon, while the EU has 27 of them, all with their own staff of accountants and admin bodies and generals and defense ministries.

Scotland doesn't have this infrastructure: it has bits and pieces of it, but they're part of the UK national defense establishment and there are big holes. For example, AIUI all the UK's main battle tanks are headquartered down south, near Hereford (the main Army HQ); Scotland just has some isolated bases. Scotland does have one of the UK's 24x7 operational fighter bases, but the intercept controllers aren't headquartered there, and it relies on a bunch of other infrastructure (e.g. the RAF's AWACs fleet) that fly from other bases. And so on.

Next, the UK defense posture assumes global reach -- the ability to field an entire division anywhere in the world as part of a NATO or coalition force, the ability to maintain and launch nuclear missiles from submarines, the ability to field the two largest fleet aircraft carriers anyone operates after the US Navy supercarriers. A Scottish defense budget that ran to 10% of the UK budget (based on population proportionality) would be on the order of US $5Bn; for perspective I've seen figures of $1-1.5Bn to equip and operate a single squadron of Eurofighter Typhoons with 24x7 reaction capability, largely because of all the infrastructure costs -- never mind running a nuclear submarine or a landing ship.

A more reasonable match would be New Zealand or Ireland; similar population anglophone nations that don't pretend to be imperial superpowers. And if you look up their military capabilities on wikipedia you may get a surprise.

(Finally, Scotland has roughly 40% the per-capita GDP of Denmark. So less money all round.)

53:

@48: The problem with this approach is the gaping maw of the 24/7 "news" services with their constant need to fill the airwaves with something. It doesn't help that a significant percentage of reporters seem to be politics junkies.

54:

he only fly in the ointment being that when Scotland joined the EU it would have to commit to eventually[2] fully joining the Schengen Area

"Eventually".

I think I noted a few blog posts ago that Poland is committed to eventually joining the Euro ... but still runs on the Zloty, a decade later.

Similarly, Scotland, Schengen? Aside from it being a good idea (only England is blocking it, due to specifically English xenophobic politics), it can be finessed similarly.

55:

You're not allowed report exit polls until voting closes here.
OTOH, we vote under the PR-STV system so counting has such inherent drama the count coverage the next day is essentially TV sports for politics nerds.

56:

You're not allowed report exit polls until voting closes here.

Even that restriction is not law but just a voluntary restriction the mews media have agreed to among themselves.

57:

Just dropping by to say that I would happily live in Canada, but it isn’t so easy to get in nowadays, is it?

58:

Just dropping by to say that I would happily live in Canada, but it isn’t so easy to get in nowadays, is it?

As an recent immigrant to Canada, I can confirm that. It is particularly difficult for persons d'un certain âge to get permanent residency. The immigration system awards points for various things they consider good qualities in am immigrant. Youth is a big one.

I would love to stay here, but I will probably have to leave after three years.

59:

this is the same guy who successfully won campaigns for London Mayor and the Brexit referendum

The position of Mayor is largely considered a figurehead flagwaving exercise. He was widely reported, by members of his team, to never be actually doing anything, and when he did he managed to screw it up epicly (Garden Bridge, anyone?).

As for the Brexit referendum, that was won comprehensively by the newspaper owners (with some assistance from the BBC). A tub of lard could have won that (and some may say it did) with no extra help. And from that campaign, we still remember the lies like "£350m" on the side of that bus.

And then there was the previous leadership election. As the leader of the Brexit campaign, he looked credible - but he bailed when he was given a chance, without even going forward with his candidacy. That looks very much like a man who's a coward and who'll bottle the big decisions. And when May left, he was elected leader with remarkably little opposition, which looks too much like a backroom stitch-up.

And then there was proroguing Parliament, *and* trying to call a general election as another way to shut down Parliament. Even the most right-wing papers couldn't spin that as anything except an attempt to keep Parliament out of decision-making. The best they could do was to spin it as shutting out our elected representatives being somehow a good thing.

Boris managed to get away with it for a very long time by looking like an amusing idiot in the background. (And who on earth thought he was good at public speaking? Goodness only knows how crap the rest of that debating society were!) As soon as we had to face what he actually *is* and *does*, it's harder to get away from the basic corruptness and incompetence.

60:

Wrong here. *deletes ungenerous muttering about Americentrism; it's been a long day*

(https://www.bai.ie/en/media/sites/2/dlm_uploads/2018/09/Rule27_ElectionGuide_vFinal_English.pdf, page 10.)

61:

You could always buy a visa. (Business investment visa or whatever they're calling it now.)

Horrible deal for Canada. The Fraser Institute* did a study and discovered that refugees were a better bet for the country than businesspeople — they paid more taxes and created more jobs than people who's sole criteria of entry was that they would invest in Canada thereby creating jobs (and paying taxes).

Which is why I'm not opposed to increasing refugee numbers**.


*Right-wing think tank.

**Duly screened for terrorists, of course. "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the National Rifle Association?" :-)

62:

I stand corrected.

Thank you.

63:

A more reasonable match would be New Zealand or Ireland; similar population anglophone nations that don't pretend to be imperial superpowers. And if you look up their military capabilities on wikipedia you may get a surprise

Very different approaches with similar populations. NZ SAR responsibilities are from the equator to the ice, and mid-Tasman to halfway to Chile. Have four top-of-the-line maritime patrol aircraft on order, with ability to support global trade networks (e.g. Orions have been doing Indian Ocean 'anti-piracy' patrols). RNZN has frigates, a logistics ship, and a tanker. Supports regional security (East Timor, Bougainville).
The Irish airforce and navy are much less expeditionary, but their army has two brigades to NZ's one.

64:

Which. Of. Two. Evils.

That, sir, is 500% pure BULLSHIT, as fed to you by billionaires and neoConfederates.

50 years ago, maybe. Now? Really? I'm calling you a liar.

The late former Republican President Eisenhower SENT THE TROOPS INTO THE SOUTH to desegregate the schools.

LBJ shoved through Civil Rights, Voting Rights, and, oh, yes, Medicare and Medicaid.

St. Ronnie Raygun would liked to have been Joe McCarthy, except he was going senile... and had more sense on using the media.

Right now, Raygun would be called a RINO, a liberal, and a socialist - they called Obama that, who bent over backwards, while they bit his hand.

Look at who's running, and who's getting elected on the Dems.

And they're they same? Bugger yourself.

65:

"look centrist"? "centrist parties"?

THERE AREN'T ANY.

Just like the US, the billionaires have been funding the media and other organizations to lie to the public, to push them right.

Compare any of the "centrist" parties to the policies of either party 50 years ago... and you'll find the "conservative" parties out to the right of the extremists, and the "liberals" to the right of the moderates.

66:

Since I really don't know UK law, but I do know that the BBC is at least partly funded by tv taxes, wouldn't anyone have legal standing to sue the BBC for bias?

67:

@51: Another question would be "Why would an independent Scotland need a military?" or alternatively, "What sort of a military would an independent Scotland need?".

- Would an independent Scotland join the EU? Seems very likely.
- Would an independent Scotland join NATO? Hmm, less certain. They would have to negotiate what their contribution to the common defence would be: maintaining former RAF Leuchars with a rotating fighter squadron seems likely; negotiations with rUK re Trident basing would seem to be a sticking point (although you could certainly make the English pay for the privilege).
- Some sort of customs/fisheries patrol would be required, and probably some sort of territorial land defence. It's an interesting thought experiment.

68:

Yeah. Often I have wished that the SNP contested seats in England so I could vote for them. Those parts of their stance which are generalisable to the whole of the UK have tended to be noticeably more desirable than the locally available options.

This seat is usually Conservative, but occasionally goes Labour, and in either case those two parties are always miles ahead of any of the others. This election, the choice is trivial: thanks to Corbyn, the tactical choice is also the most desirable.

This election is not a referendum on the EU; it does not even allow that choice to be represented. The most it does allow is the possibility of avoiding the most damaging outcome. But whatever that outcome is, it will have become definite after a time which is short compared to the standard term of a parliament. Assuming the next government does manage to survive the whole term, three quarters of that period or thereabouts will be spent dealing with the outcome. Therefore what the election is really about is what happens next.

Sure it would be lovely if Corbyn would commit to support remaining. But as things are, that choice is not on the menu. The best we can hope for is to have an actual referendum where it is on the menu, and to achieve that, in many/most constituencies, a vote for Corbyn is, in terms of its practical effect, more pro-remain than a vote for an explicitly-pro-remain-but-anti-Tory-vote-splitting party. It is also a more practical measure towards not having to live under the Tories jumping up and down partying in the ruins and puking on the wreckage.

It is disappointing that Corbyn has been fucking useless over the remain/leave choice, but it is hardly a damning personal indictment; not only is he very far from unique in that regard, but the entire fucking parliamentary system has been fucking useless over a question which splits the entire country right down the middle like an axe. It is more useful to learn the lesson that we turn out not to have a system capable of handling questions like that, and maybe even do something about it. (Like, "well we get away with it most of the time, so put a bit more thought into not getting into them in future".)

Glasgow/Trident - this is surely a case of loose thinking. After all, if England gets nuked on its own Scotland is still fucked. The optimal way to experience a nuclear war is to be sufficiently close to an event for bulk tissue heating by X-radiation to boil your brain before the neurons can react, so it seems to me that being a major strategic target is better than not being one.

69:

"...than saying "you know, I think someone else could do this job better than me"."

I believe that was more or less how they did it in one period of ancient Rome. Wartime leader does the war thing, gets it finished, then says "I can't handle this peacetime shit, someone else can do it". There's some chap whose name I can't remember who is particularly remembered for doing this, but he wasn't the only one.

The obvious failure mode bit them in the end, of course.

70:

There's some chap whose name I can't remember who is particularly remembered for doing this, but he wasn't the only one.

Cinncinnatus is the usual example.

The problem with drawing examples from ancient Rome, though, is that we know MUCH less about what actually happened in pre-Empire times than most people think we know. I recently read Mary Bard's S.P.Q.R., and she makes this point forcefully, over and over. So often it comes down to whether you trust Cicero's version.

71:

Well, that was the Lib Dems being so desperate to do it that they couldn't wait for an appropriate time but instead were ready to grab at any opportunity, even a poisoned one, to have a referendum. (Insert cartoon of cacothaumaturgical malefactor with hideous grin handing over shiny apple.)

And then fucked it up by assuming that it's obviously a good idea so all you have to do is tell people what it is and they'll naturally vote for the sensible choice, even if the other side do start nachplappering FUD.

It has to be said there is a certain degree of schadenfreude in seeing the cacothaumaturgical malefactor fuck up their own referendum a few years later by doing exactly the same thing.

72:

"And from that campaign, we still remember the lies like "£350m" on the side of that bus."

Yeah, I remember that. As a lie.

And in particular, in the context of the principal dog turds, on the very next day, actually standing up and going "ner ner ner, fooled you, it was bullshit", in so many words and with deliberately maximised publicity.

And no-one gave a shit.

If there was any particular incident that truly and thoroughly confirmed that we really are fucked, I reckon that was it.

73:

Here's the thing. The johnson/tory 'let's get brexit done' slogan is a lie, as anyone who has been paying attention knows. The much-trumpeted deal covers only a tiny fraction of what has to happen to actually get brexit done.

Getting brexit done in the sense that means anything is going to occupy a very large fraction of the resources of the UK government and civil service for, let's say, a decade. During that time there will be greatly reduced bandwidth to get anything else done: everything else will get pushed back in the best case and in the worst case the system will fall apart in the way that overloaded systems do and lots of things will just get dropped (anyone who has worked in a job which was really two jobs knows what this is like: imagine that happening, but on a national scale).

Well, that's OK, right? The UK will suffer but they voted to suffer so fuck them, really. OK they only voted that way because Johnson and the people pulling his strings lied to them, but really, who cares about some small country being consumed by its own racist fantasies of a long-gone empire? We don't care about (Ukraine|Greece|anywhere in Africa), why should the UK be different, unless you live there (I live there)?

Except it is different. Because there's this problem we have which needs to be fixed within the next ten years or less. Fixing it is going to require enormous effort at the government level. It's also going to require international cooperation on a scale which has seldom or never been achieved before. So a country which has just said 'fuck you' to international cooperation and descended into a festering soup of overload as it tries to extract itself from one of the international systems which, really, are the only hope of fixing this problem, well, that country is going to do really a lot of damage to the prospects of fixing it.

How bad is it if the problem does not get fixed? It's bad. In fairly plausible cases it's directly catastrophic for the UK itself. In still more plausible cases it is merely indirectly catastrophic: the direct catastrophe happens elsewhere, but involves people with nuclear weapons and nothing to lose by using them with the obvious consequences. In either case people who are children today in the UK are going to have a really bad end to their lives in a way which hasn't happened for more than a century and a half, and then in Ireland rather than England (if there's one thing English people care about less than Scottish people, it's Irish people: even people with different-coloured skin matter more than Irish people).

Yes, of course I'm talking about anthropogenic climate change. Yes, it is real and if you think it isn't then fuck you.

So, yes:

vote tory, vote brexit, vote to burn your own fucking children on the fire of your own huge bigoted stupidity.

If you do that, then fuck you, fuck all of you.

74:

Best of luck.

It still astonishes me that our NZ parliament of FPP-elected MPs from an entrenched 2-party system abolished First-Past-the-Post in the 90s and put in our current proportional representation system. Makes one believe there really can be such a thing as MPs putting the good of the country ahead of the good of their career, or their party.

75:

Re:' Getting brexit done in the sense that means anything is going to occupy a very large fraction of the resources of the UK government and civil service for, let's say, a decade. During that time there will be greatly reduced bandwidth to get anything else done: everything else will get pushed back in the best case ...'

Agree. And because of the constantly escalating bickering, there will also be an end to diplomacy because if you are no longer expected to cooperate among/within your own tribe/country, why would you be expected to cooperate with outsiders.


Okay ...

This is likely to come across as weird, but here goes anyways ... because it's been bugging me and folks here might help me sort this out. (It also ties in with tfb's concerns.)

Basically, I've been wondering at what I find the really remarkable (unusual) 50-50 splits that seem to be constantly reported in terms of what the public thinks/feels about issues. This does not sound at all 'normal' to me - the convenient split, nor how long such a split endures. So, the question then becomes: who gains from such a result? Because this result is most often reported re: politics, then I'm going to assume that the motive is political. Conclusion: Deadlocks such as the current crop of supposed ideologically-based inanities are also a great way of derailing any practical policy-making. Added bonus of constant 50-50 splits is a perpetual state of anxiety which for people prone to authoritarianism is the worst possible state for them to be in, i.e., they'll grab at anything that provides them an 'answer'/relief. Tuning out/avoiding anxiety-producing stimuli/situations is a survival reflex for most creatures, humans included.


76:

Makes one believe there really can be such a thing as MPs putting the good of the country ahead of the good of their career, or their party.

Yes, it is real, and it does happen. It is just as naive and wrong to believe that there is no good in people as to believe that everyone is good.

77:

So, the question then becomes: who gains from such a result?
One easy answer is the (commercial) media, and for that matter any "industries" that profit off of political strife. As you suggest, this may not be sufficiently explanatory.

78:

I am just waiting for the movie.
Hugh grant as leader of minor party.
Julia Roberts as ny times as reporter.
Who else we want in the ensemble romcom:
Brexit or Bust, what the minor parties do in the dark

79:

Bellinghman @ 36
There is a view that the Home Office is itself mortally corrupting to any minister who attempts to run it.
Yes - Churchill, of all people, was a reformer ... he at llleast half-emptied the prisons & tried to get lighter senstncing ... but ran for being First Lord of the Admiralty in ? 1012? ... one - he wanted the job & two, the Home Office was obviously getting to him, even then.

Dave P @ 66
Scotland needs more coatal defence & fisheries partols tha it has RIGHT NOW.
If they break away completely, then they will need more tha that because you can guarantee that Putin will go ( excuse the word ) ... fishing.

Last thought for tonight ...
HUGE numbers of alomost-entirely young people determined to register theor ability to vote.
Will it, could it make a difference?

80:

As an outsider... is there really a chance that Ali Mani will beat Boris in Boris's electorate of Uxbridge?

That would be beyond awesome.

81:

Sorry, it's Ali *Milani*

82:

I doubt that my husband and I could scrape together enough for a visa...not at all surprising about refugees but kind of beautiful that it was discovered by a right-wing thinktank! oh well. I should probably be on medication too, or a total news blackout.

83:

Gordycoale #4 All he had to do was look vaguely centrist for 6 months, instead he had to go "full on left wing" - or at least left enough for the papers to paint him as a communist.

I'm old enough to remember when Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband were painted as communists for much less comprehensive programs.

Eldery Cynic #20 The problem is in favour of who?

Every now and again people mention Keir Starmer and I think, you know, he doesn't have all the baggage of Corbyn... and then I remember that I'm old enough to have seen Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband called Stalinists in the national press.

84:

Brief Americana interlude.
Trump posted a photo of himself Photoshopped to look like Rocky Balboa, and hoo boy (Michelle Mark, 2019/11/27)
I am amused. (If it were a Rocky IV photo, I'd be both amused and irritated.)
BoJo would never even consider doing that. :-)

85:

Cincinnatus was the Roman who resigned from leadership when the war was over. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cincinnatus

When the war was over he not only resigned, he exiled himself from the city. (I don't know for how long.)

OTOH, I don't recall that happening frequently in Rome. It did happen frequently in, I think it was, Ur. But there was a religious requirement for it, which was enforced by the forces loyal to the priests...until it couldn't be.

86:

SSRIs? Heck the USFDA recently pointed to some other interesting possibilities.

Considering the situation we're all in, I'd go with option B, especially since it's a single dose treatment if done properly.

87:

I'm with EC: who *exactly* should Corbyn or any other leader step down in favour of? It's not as though the Conservatives have a pool of viable candidates waiting anywhere (maybe Scotland?), and especially if you buy the outrage media idea that Corbyn is left/authoritarian of Stalin, who is he going to want as a replacement?

Where leaders do step down in favour of successors the record is mixed as to whether the transition is allowed by their party, and whether it succeeds if so. Which means every existing leader has to plot out the politics and decide whether stepping down in favour is even an option they have.

If you have the brutally cynical/Randian view that leaders are purely selfish *and* cripplingly shortsighted, in theory they would step aside anyway as soon as they have got what they can get out of being leader. Since that almost never happens I'm more inclined to take it as proof that the selfish view is wrong, rather than that leaders are even more purely selfish than I've suggested. You have to ask, how exactly does Corbyn benefit from staying leader if there's a more electable alternative available in the party who's not just going to set it on fire?

88:

Could we have our beige dictatorships back now?

Please?

89:

I think a plausible lesson of the Clinton loss is that when the right wing hate machine is so incredibly invested in an individual you don't make that investment pay off by running that individual in an election that isn't completely safe.

Sure, they'll switch the target when you do, but thats a huge loss of momentum.

90:

they'll switch the target when you do, but that's a huge loss of momentum.

They managed in Australia just fine, the 2010 coup/faceless men/she knifed him message did not seem to suffer from being incoherent, and they also had no problem switching from "Rudd is the devil" to their "Rudd is the only valid leader" campaign, and switching back once he was re-appointed.

Even if UK Labour appointed a right-wing lunatic as leader the press would treat that person like Hitler reincarnated, right up until they lost the election and became just another proof that Labour isn't fit to govern. The problem is that until the bought media are told that it's time for another Labour government they will hew to the party line.

91:

This thread seemed like a good day to post my Thanksgiving thoughts, which is that I hope the stooopid fokking turkeys which rule our two countries get to be roommates in Hell!

92:

Scotland can always take a leaf out of Switzerland's book, and decide that the armed forces only need to work business hours, borrowing assets from the UK, Ireland or Norway as needed for weekend cover...

I gave up a year ago and moved out of the country, I then spend a week jumping through the right hoops to make sure I get a postal vote, though it'll be interesting to see if one actually arrives. Like Greg I rather like my local Labour MP, she's sensible, educated, and seems to want to do her best for both country and electorate. Last thing I want is for her to end up in another bloody three way marginal again.

The Lib Dems can frankly go jump, although I hope they soak up a sizeable proportion of the wider conservative vote and keep the tories from power. I see very little difference between their policies and those of Cameron's time, just more of the modern "I got mine" philosophy.

93:

An independent Scotland would find it fairly simple to join EFTA - they would be a similar sized nation to the existing members, so be far less disruptive than the 600lb gorilla of the UK trying to rejoin. And they would already meet all criteria for membership, especially while the EU re-application process works through the system.

That would give them access to all the free trade agreements already in place without having to laboriously create new ones.

94:

Australians all let us rejoice, treasury is having yet another look at the superannuation savings scam.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/27/how-australias-superannuation-system-steals-from-the-poor-to-give-to-the-rich

Your submission is important, even just "progressive tax please" would be enough
https://www.treasury.gov.au/consultation/c2019-36292

95:

In NZ the Labour party went thru several different leaders before settling on Jacinda Ardern as someone who actually had charisma and might win an election. I don't understand why the UK's Labour party hasn't done the same, but obviously it's too late now.

96:

Complaining about a lack of good candidates is pointless - you don't know who will be a candidate the voters like until they get up in front of the cameras as leader. Jacinda didn't look the same before then, nor did Barack Obama IIRC.

97:

Moz
As I've said before, the real problem with Corbyn is that he makes Bozo look competent ....
AND - appears to be quite incapable of LEARNING ANYTHING AT ALL

PubliusJay
YES!
Bring beck the Beige ...

98:

AVR, the problem for Labour is that they don't appear to have any candidates that are acceptable to both the membership and the media, and there is a considerable supply of red conservatives like Greg for whom no Labour leader will ever measure up.

As OGH said, Diane Abbott would be the obvious candidate but the media struggle enough with her as an shadow minister, as do the far right hate squads. Remember that the UK has only had two women as PM, both conservative, and never someone who wasn't white. Only if she was 21 and Muslim that would she be more triggering. IMO appointing her would be sending her out to face a lynch mob, possibly literally.

So Labour really need to have an older white man as their leader, ideally a conservative-leaning one with close personal ties to the establishment, just so the media don't *start* with full on hate campaigns. He should ideally not be Jewish, but needs to be sympathetic to Israel and to have always supported the right (or far right) terrorists. OTOH as we saw with Miliband the gap between the media being 'not completely insane' and being even vaguely decent is large, and has only grown since he left.

99:

Like Greg I rather like my local Labour MP, she's sensible, educated, and seems to want to do her best for both country and electorate.

You know, most folks who have interacted with their local MP would say that. If you added them all up it turns out Parliament is full of them, not like the REAL Parliament which is chock-a-block with self-serving idiots and grasping con-men, every single one of them.

A while back a friend of mine met with his local MP at Westminster for lunch (he couldn't get away, he was busy) to get an update on what he and his office was doing about a land-use dispute his family was involved in. Basically an ex-RAF air base had been bought by a developer where my friend's family runs a flight business (pilot training, air charters etc.) During the planning inquiry the developer had promised to keep the air operations side of thing viable then later decided the runway would look nicer with a few million-quid homes planted along its length instead and besides the noise from the planes was putting off well-heeled customers.

They were impressed that their MP was getting involved, was clearly up on the details of the dispute and was amenable to their arguments such as the benefits to the nation of keeping a military-grade runway and operations area in working condition in case of emergencies and such. They went away thinking a lot better of MPs in general.

Their MP was David Cameron who was, at that time, Prime Minister.

100:

Moz
No
I quite liked Blair, until he grovelled to the Shrub
Gordie Broon was badly under-rated IMHO, as was Jim Callaghan.
Then there was Roy Jenkins, the best ( Far & away the best ) PM we never had, more's the pity.

101:

I think it does turn out that MPs are, well, just people.

I wrote to my (tory) MP about the prorogation of parliament, suggesting that it was his primary job to democratically represent his electorate, and that he should do that. He wrote back, and had clearly read and understood my letter. But he was going to support Johnson because (he did not say but I infer) if he didn't he'd lose his job and career, and he was not willing to do that: I'm sure he has a family who he has to look after, and in fact they are his primary responsibility, and who can blame him?

And that's just like most of us, isn't it? I care about climate change (I worked on climate change) ... but I have a Rayburn and I don't have an electric vehicle and so on. I could do without both of those, but I'd have to move somewhere an electric vehicle was viable and this would be a huge upheaval since we've been here for 20 years and would it make any difference, really?

So, yes, MPs are just people and most people are decent people. Except that we're decent in a strictly limited way: we're nice to people who we interact with but we just don't care at all about people who are a long way away either in space or time, or just people who get in our way too much. We are, in fact, not decent at all: we just fool ourselves we are, while really we're parasitic horrors, all of us.

102:

Blair left a trail of slime behind him from Day One. He's the basis of Charlie's Crawling Horror From Beyond Space-Time, the Mandate. Why you think of him fondly at all I don't know but then again he was certainly right-wing enough for a lot of Tories to switch their allegiance to him after Mister Grey's stint in Number 10.

103:

Yes, that's fair, it was a fairly generic statement.
My local MP was Tulip Siddiq, who comes from a seriously political background though. I initially decided to vote for her simply because her name sounded funny, but she soon earned quite a bit of respect from me. Didn't think much of her predecessor Glenda Jackson though. She was far more interested in the Hampstead than the Kilburn.

On the other hand my local MP in NZ I utterly hated, he was the perfect example of spoilt little rich kid who had everything handed to him. He also turned out to be about as good as Jeremy Hunt at being the hatchet man for the medical service. But he had a good PR machine behind him, and there is no way my electorate will ever elect someone other than blue since they changed the boundaries again.

104:

He should ideally not be Jewish,

Remember the Ed Miliband bacon sandwich "gaffe"?

The Milibands are secular Jews. (So am I.) I am convinced it got got pushed in the right-wing press because it was a useful dog-whistle: it told the Orthodox/Haredim "he's not one of us! He eats bacon!", while to everyone else it was just a sign of awkwardness (dripping with ketchup and grease: who wears a suit while eating something like that?) and not being a normal guy. In short, anti-semitic dog-whistling out of both sides of the mouth.

105:

He's the basis of Charlie's Crawling Horror From Beyond Space-Time, the Mandate.

No he's not.

(The Mandate is Alan B'Stard, with a side-order of Jacob Rees-Mogg, and added magic on top. Mind you, B'Stard was the sort of parody that aspiring ministers study for pointers on how to do it better, so ...)

Not disagreeing on Blair leaving a trail of slime, mind you.

106:

if he didn't he'd lose his job and career, and he was not willing to do that: I'm sure he has a family who he has to look after, and in fact they are his primary responsibility, and who can blame him?

I can. If he couldn't do the job, he shouldn't have asked for it.

107:

The Milibands are secular Jews. (So am I.) I am convinced it got got pushed in the right-wing press because it was a useful dog-whistle: it told the Orthodox/Haredim "he's not one of us! He eats bacon!", while to everyone else it was just a sign of awkwardness

I assumed there was also a vibe of 'he can't eat a bacon sandwich normally - he's not used to eating one' about it - again an anti-Semitic dog-whistle.

108:

I know I can't eat a bacon sandwich normally. Not because I'm Jewish (that's a different and much-reduced* branch of the family), but because I never eat them (or any messy sandwiches for that matter).

Seems an odd qualification for a public figure: "must be able to eat a bacon sandwich".


*Courtesy of Mssrs Schicklgruber & Jughashvili.

109:

who can blame him

I can. The 'job' is representing his constituents. He stood for it with that understanding.

I don't see a fundamental difference between that and an engineer deciding to sign off on the dodgy plans because management will fire them otherwise. An engineer that does that loses their license — we don't say "oh well, they had a family so what else could they be expected to do".

110:

In general, it is terrible ethics to excuse bad actions because they were done for the good of your family and children. One meets lots of people on facebook, etc, who are proud to say, "I would kill to protect my kids."

It is understandable that people act so, but it is not excusable.

111:

In a situation of clear and immediate danger, I hope I'd be able to kill to protect my grandnieces.

"Crazed chap with an ax trying to chop up the grandkids" kind of situations don't happen very often, though, and if one did happen I'd probably just freeze, like I have in every other emergency situation I've been in.

112:

And I should note that I'd fully expect a trial etc. afterwards, to determine if there really was no other alternative.

113:

But killing someone who is clearly about to dice your grandnieces is an objectively good action. There's no ethical dilemma there. The problem comes with folks who claim (and history shows that some of these claims are plausible), for instance, they are willing to commit murder to protect their children from subversive ideas like atheism and vaccination.

114:

Yes and no. Most backbench MPs are like that, and SOME of the front-bench ones. But I know a lot of people who have tried to get them to do their (constituency) job, and failed dismally.

115:

Or, to reiterate your earlier example: an engineer who allows a dangerously unsafe design to go into production to protect his own children from the harm they would suffer if he was unemployed. Even if we assume that his concern is entirely for his children and not for himself, it doesn't excuse the action.

116:

TOXIC slime. Much (perhaps most) of the near-fascist actions the current baboons are perpetrating date back to his legislation and other actions.

As someone with no Jewish ancestry that I know of, I fully agree with you that the press treatment of Ed Miliband was disgusting, was of the form you say, but don't know the proportion of the obvious factors in causing the enmity against him.

117:

Meanwhile, a big new poll (sample of 100,000 people) give Boris a 68 seat majority - though some of the polling took place prior to the manifestos being published.

But it shows Labour losing a lot of seats in its traditional north of England heartland.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/27/mrp-poll-conservatives-on-course-for-68-seat-majority

118:

EC
There's a strong "Palestinian" ( Do note the quotes ) faction within Labour - their eqivalent of the OLD F.O. "Camel Corps" - who will try do do down anyone they PERCIEVE to be in the slightest way "jewish".
They are now basically against anything to do with Israel, at all, not "merely" Bennie Netanyahu & the ultra-zionists & their settlement pogroms. I got my ears burnt by one about a year back, when I met an old acquaintance who had changed her wsince I lat met her & she started ranting on.
I walked away from that one ....

119:

Meanwhile, a big new poll (sample of 100,000 people) give Boris a 68 seat majority

No it doesn't, although that's how it's being reported.

The poll, by YouGov, gives them a spread, with a majority of between 3 and 68 seats. Only the upper number is being reported widely. Hint: if non-Tory voters think it's going to be a shoe-in for Boris, they are likelier to stay home. If it's close, they'll turn-out and vote.

Reminder: YouGov was set up and run by Tories.

I'm seeing reports elsewhere (of variable, so questionable, authoritativeness) that Tory advertising spend on Facebook pivoted this week towards defending marginal Conservative seats rather than trying to win marginal Labour ones, which is really telling: something's got the wind up them. And then there's this: Tory candidates issued with attack manuals on how to smear rivals.

In my view, these are signs of something going badly adrift with the Conservative election machine. Yes, they went into the campaign with a 17% lead over Labour; but lest ye forget, in 2017 Theresa May went in with a 20% lead over Corbyn and nearly lost. This time, to my eye, it looks quite likely that the election is going to be even closer ... and the Tories aren't confident of victory.

120:

He may not be The Mandate, but I always think of Warren Ellis' Smiler for some unknowable reason:

121:

The Smiler was indeed based on Blair. (And bits of his speeches were lifted from Dame Shirley Porter during the Westminster Housing Scandal.)

122:

And then there's this: Tory candidates issued with attack manuals on how to smear rivals.

Oh, that's merely evil, like mailing voters fraudulent census forms.

People must be both evil and cartoonishly incompetent to write attack manuals on how to smear rivals and then do a mass mailing sending those manuals to their rivals.

This is the kind of nonsense no fantasy or science fiction author could get away with, like someone butt-dialing a reporter and leaving a recording of their secrets on voicemail or a recursive assassin conspiracy... I don't believe the simulation hypothesis but for a few years now politics has looked as if some teenager has slammed the Evil, Stupid, and Silly sliders far past any reasonable settings just to see what happens.

123:

'he can't eat a bacon sandwich normally - he's not used to eating one'

I'm reminded of Gerald Ford's famous encounter with a tamal(*):

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ezkvxk/how-a-plate-of-tamales-may-have-crushed-gerald-fords-1976-presidential-campaign

(*) https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tamal

124:

There have also been disturbing sightings of US politicians eating pizza with a fork.

125:

"Remember the Ed Miliband bacon sandwich "gaffe"?"

Actually, no.

I remember seeing people making comments about Ed Miliband and sandwiches, and from these I was able to deduce that there had been a news item about Ed Miliband eating a sandwich. To which my reaction was "oh for fuck's own bloody sake" followed by assorted ranting about the state of the media these days plus the state of the public who think it's worth commenting on, and complete disinclination to expend any of my valuable neurotransmitters on anything so pointless as actually looking for and reading the initiating piece of journalistic idiocy.

It wasn't until I read your post that I had any idea it was a bacon sandwich. That word had been thoroughly filtered out by the time the kerfuffle made it through to my awareness. Which I guess is a sign that things could be worse.

126:

I gather he'd never met tamales - which isn't strange, as they were still pretty regional at the time.

For those who haven't met them: they're something like a steamed dumpling, made with a special kind of maize-flour dough, stuffed (usually) with something else, usually savory but sometimes sweet, and wrapped in maize husks before steaming. The filling is something like a relish; the maize shell is the best part. They're especially common for winter holidays. (The place I worked had a charity fundraiser one year where tamales were sold for about $12 a dozen, and people were buying several dozen, fresh from the steamer. They made more than $20K that year. I bought three dozen myself and shared with friends. They were delicious.)

127:

> I don't believe the simulation hypothesis but for a few years now politics has looked as if some teenager
> has slammed the Evil, Stupid, and Silly sliders far past any reasonable settings just to see what happens.

Hmmm. It may have been a Charlie post where somebody was talking about us being in the late capitalist end game? I think we're also in the late democracy end-game. All the serious players who are in with a real chance know that to win an election you tell people what they want to hear, and you need a media and PR organisation behind you selling that.

I call professional politicians "belief chameleons." How many times have you heard them something along the lines of "well clearly we hadn't got the message the people were trying to tell us, so we need to go back and work out what they want us to tell them, so we tell them what they want to hear. That way we'll get elected next time. So there's zero conviction, or doing the right thing, or any of that. They pretty much blatantly tell you that they only want to tell you what they want to hear so you'll elect them. Then, as everybody knows, once they're in, probably 50% or more of the manifesto goes straight out the window.

We know capitalism doesn't work, and we know democracy doesn't work. What we really need is for someone to come up with better replacements for both that is sellable and implementable. Who knows, maybe a catastrophic species endangering crisis is what it will take to give us the kick up the ass to find something better. But it's too early for people to get the message just yet - maybe once the clock is at 11:59:50 from midnight that people will start to get the message.

128:

Tamales haven't been regional since at least the 1950. Good ones may have been, but Hormel canned tamales are something I ate occasionally in the early 1950's. (Well, they were cheap. Can't say much else for them.)

OTOH, there are lots of different kinds of things called tamales. When I got one at a Mexican restaurant, it was so different from what I expected that it's hard to say. Then a different Mexican restaurant had a different interpretation. I think that basically a tamale is ground filling surrounded by corn meal but the proportions and the sauces that are used with it seem to vary wildly. Eating one variety doesn't prepare to to eat another gracefully.

129:

I understand that in the more tropical parts of Mexico they're wrapped in banana leaves before steaming. Many regional cuisines there - what the US got, until relatively recently, was from the northern states like Sonora and Chihuahua. (Regional and even town-level cuisines are becoming more common, especially on "taco trucks", which are mobile kitchens.)

130:

Hormel canned tamales...

...can be purchased from Amazon. I am tempted to buy a can and give them a try.

131:

There have also been disturbing sightings of US politicians eating pizza with a fork.

Just a fork? You really need a knife too, to do it properly.

(Yes, I eat pizza with a knife and fork. Open-faced sandwiches too. I blame the Dutch side of the family for that :-)

132:

Just a fork? You really need a knife too, to do it properly.

To become infamous, a fork is sufficient!

133:

To become infamous, a fork is sufficient!

... just ask Bill Clinton!

134:

{people say} "I would kill to protect my kids"

But they won't take any action to reduce carbon emissions. "I'd do anything for my kids, but I won't do that" as Meatloaf put it.

135:

This...
Exactly. Today I'll be cycling into town to sit in the rain protesting the current government's action on climate change (their action is to speed it up as much as possible)

Re: "all our problems would be solved if only we had preferential voting", I give you 'Australian Politics' as a counter example. I think it was OGH who once said something along the lines of "if I'm ever unsure of the morally correct side of a complex issue, I can always check with Tony Abbott (our then PM) sure in the knowledge that he'll be on the side of evil".

136:

[In response to my 'who can blame him']

I can. If he couldn't do the job, he shouldn't have asked for it.

Yes, exactly so. I was being either sarcastic or ironic: I never know the difference really. Whichever it was, I did not mean that he should not be blamed: he should, as you say, not take the job if he is not willing to do it, and at the point where he is not willing to do it he should quit. He's not exactly going to starve.

137:

Surely the best current candidate for the mandate is Priti Patel, those dead dead eyes with the howling emptiness of the void behind them?

I can certainly imagine her as the meat puppet lure of some pan dimensional horror, with waves of malevolence rolling off her as she builds a tzompantli from the bodies of anyone brown who is unfortunate enough not to be as privileged as her.

138:

Surely the best current candidate for the mandate is Priti Patel, those dead dead eyes with the howling emptiness of the void behind them?

Priti Patel hadn't emerged from the spawning vats when I first wrote the Mandate, circa 2013.

Otherwise, she'd be a natural.

139:

I can think of several reasons for a military.

1. You need a coast guard. Really you do. I'm generally against ordinary people going down with their boat, for example.

2. In case of major or national disaster (who else has enough manpower to go door-to-door to get folks to the cooling center, or out of the floods?)

3. Whoo else ya gonna have ta keep the sassenach tories from stealin' your (significant other), or your seats in Parliament?

140:

Yeah, about those polls.... You hear/read reports that say, "people were asked"... no, they weren't. Have you ever been called, and been polled? Limited choices, and if your answers don't fit, they're ignored. Please respond to, "Tories do the best job of governing", on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being "so-so" and 5 being "they made me rich!!!"

The polss are also biased as to WHO THEY ASK. Until my late wife and I moved to Rogers Park in Chicago in the mid-nineties, both of us 40 or 40+, NEITHER OF US HAD EVER BEEN CALLED TO POLL. I have a friend I used to work with who lives in Anacostia, a DC neighborhood that's mostly black, and she, around my age, has NEVER BEEN POLLED.

Part of the trick, of course, is they call random numbers... *after* they've chosen the LEC (the neighborhood defined by the first three of the seven digits). And now that they're calling cell phones... it was in a neighborhood they wanted to poll that you got your phone #.

Finally, I don't care what bs you give me, I do not believe that, with the above biases, polling 800 or 1200 people in an entire state or country gives valid results.

141:

I've known one or two folks who eat a pizza that way. They're *weird* and twisted. (Possible exception: Chicago deep dish pizza.)

On the other hand, I don't understand at all what y'all are talking about, going on about a "bacon sandwich" that's got ketchup and is messy. The only bacon sandwich I can think of is a BLT. But then, a bacon cheeseburger isn't a sandwich....

142:

>1. You need a coast guard. Really you do. I'm generally against ordinary people going down with their boat, for example.

In the UK the Coastguard is indeed responsible for coordinating search and rescue. But they are decidedly non-military, with most of the people on the ground being volunteers. They also only field land based searchers or helicopters.

The ones going out to sea in the fast boats are even further disconnected - they are the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a charity set up to save lives at sea, and almost their entire complement is volunteer with professional equipment funded by donations and grants.

Yes, the military is often brought in for assistance in proper offshore rescue, especially in particularly hazardous conditions - a friend of mine was one of the guys rescued in this incident for example. But for anything up to around 50 miles out to sea it'll be the RNLI who'll come and get you.


I do think that there is a strong need for military maritime surveillance, especially to keep an eye on who is fishing where, but that's the boring side of the military, and substantially cheaper than the fast jets. One plane can cover an awful lot of ocean, the ones Denmark uses also double as VIP transport when the royals need to travel.

Modern all weather patrol boats are smaller and lightly manned as well, which works well from a practicality standpoint, if not so well from the how many admirals can we justify viewpoint.

143:

"A more reasonable match would be New Zealand or Ireland; similar population anglophone nations that don't pretend to be imperial superpowers. And if you look up their military capabilities on wikipedia you may get a surprise."

NZ is the most isolated country in the world. But also is a trading nation.

So NZ's defense strategy is to "give credible support to a rules-based world order".

We have important regional commmitments to support several much smaller island neighbours in the middle of the world's biggest ocean, and oceans are really big and fisheries rights that you can't defend from deep-water poachers don't exist. So we have a small but capable deep-water navy, some naval air-recon, and the ability to deploy a small amount of infantry for disaster relief or as part of a multi-national force (with a focus on special forces and engineers).


But Scotland is not the most isolated country in the world. Not sure we are a good example for comparison.

144:

That wikipedia article on Priti Patel links this:
Indian-origin MP takes BBC's ‘Modi coverage’ complaint to UK ministry (Jun 22, 2014)
working to excise the remaining impartiality from the BBC in 2014.
To which I quote (bold mine):
The political map of India today (November 28, 2019)
The unexected loss of Maharashtra was a rude shock to the BJP, coming as it did after the loss of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the Congress in December 2018. The party's hold over Haryana weakened recently and it runs a fragile government in Karnataka. In the coming weeks and months, its popularity will be put to test once again when Jharkhand, Delhi and Bihar go to the polls.

The side-by-side maps from 2018 and 2019 are interesting. Less saffron now. Right-wing nationalists (Hindu Nationalists in India) aren't winning everywhere.

145:

It's also worth noting that the Australian military, which is much more capable than the kiwi one, chased a suspected fish pirate half way round the world because apparently these days shooting at pirates is not the done thing. You would think that "stop and be inspected or we will stop you" would carry some weight but apparently just chasing them round the world is preferred.

http://www.antarctica.gov.au/magazine/2001-2005/issue-6-autumn-2004/feature/poachers-pursued-over-7-000-kilometers

Given that the Australians have a bunch of frigates, some submarines, about 6 different sorts of fast patrol boats, long-rage aircraft as well as fighter aircraft that are allegedly also long-range, and a bunch of other stuff, you would hope that an unarmed fishing boat would stand no chance. But the Viarsa came very close to being "Emu Wars II: all at sea".

146:

protesting the current government's action on climate change (their action is to speed it up as much as possible)

Sadly my boss had a tantrum about none of my team being in the office today so I've had to go into the office instead. These 1pm-4pm protests aren't the most convenient. But I'm there more often than not (by train, it's ~2 hours each way on the bike).

147:
The sitting MP, Chris Williamson, has twice been suspended from the Labour Party for unrepentant antisemitism

What the heck do you have to do to get suspended TWICE from the Labor Party for anti-Semitism? Was he marching down the street in a full Nazi uniform or something?

148:

Have you ever been called, and been polled? Limited choices, and if your answers don't fit, they're ignored.

Not only have I been called, I've been the person calling. For a few years I lived with a telephone pollster and his company needed extra help sometimes.

You're not wrong, but you're not completely right, either. Designing a good poll is hard, with failure modes that are not intuitively obvious, and it's all too easy to screw this up without meaning to. (There are some people who will design slanted polls on purpose and they are not well regarded in the profession.) The need for limited choices should be obvious; extracting useful information that way requires practice and reality checking.

Sequential dialing of all the numbers in an exchange is one way of doing it[1] but hardly the only one. These days there's much less correlation between phone number and geographic location than there was thirty or forty years ago - and that's just for land lines, never mind cellphones.

The math about how accurately small samples can reflect large populations sometimes gives surprising answers but you can look it up if you want. The birthday problem and the German tank problem are just the start.

[1] Sequential dialing will turn up people who furiously demand "How did you get this number?" and refuse to admit understanding how integers work.

149:

But Scotland is not the most isolated country in the world. Not sure [New Zealand is] a good example for comparison.

<deadpan> Scotland isn't even the most isolated country in the United Kingdom. </deadpan>

150:

<deadpan> Scotland isn't even the most isolated country in the United Kingdom. </deadpan>

<deadpan>Physically or mentally? Or both?</deadpan>

151:

OFF topic
Location of potential members of 666 squadron ( List at the bottom )

LAvery @ 123
I eat pizza with a fork!
I cut it into appropriate-sized slices & then pick it up with the fork ... After all, it avoids having greaasy slippery fingers on the all-important glass of vino that goes with it!
( See also Robt Prior )

Charlie / Gordycoale @ 136/7
Ms Patel scares me ... OTOH you get revolting fascist slime like this, as well.
The BJP seem to be thoroughly nasty people, don't they?
What is it with this almost world-wide drift towards either fascism or authoitarianism?
Just noticed Bill Arnold's post @ 143 - good.
Other headlines also follow-up on SS' comment, I'm afraid: as if some teenager has slammed the Evil, Stupid, and Silly sliders far past any reasonable settings

whitroth @ 139
Like Jury Serice, actually
My father was never, ever called & neither have I been.
But, someone I used to work with, now long dead, was called 3 times in 14 years.
Of course, I *have* been stopped in the street for (usually) marketing questions ... but being me, I usually give them answers that are at least 4 SD's away from the mean 😂
Then there was the time, I had fun answering a set of Q's which took about 5 minutes, only to destroy the whole thing, when it turned out that they were asking about TV advertising & I Professed complete ignorance, as I didn't ( still don't ) have a TV.
The surveyor was royally pissed off, how sad.

152:

Sequential dialing will turn up people who furiously demand "How did you get this number?" and refuse to admit understanding how integers work.

Types of numbers: Integers, Rationals, Reals, Complex, Secret

I'd tell you about the Secret numbers, but I can't because they're...

154:

I have a non-computable phone number. Doesn't everyone?

155:

No, mine's a transfinite number :-)

156:

All you have to do is to stand up against Israel's atrocities against the Palestinians or, worse, for someone who has been accused of anti-Semitism for doing so or, absolutely unforgiveable, refer to the doings of the mvbaists in demonising people of the latter two categories. I have personal experience of the actions of the ****ist lobby in suppressing political opposition in the UK, and there is ample evidence that at least some of it is foreign political interference. It is very noticeable that the Jewish MPs and similar who get targetted are precisely those who do what I describe above, and the ****ists get a free ride. Yes, there is genuine anti-Semitism in the Labour party, though no more than in the Conservatives, but that is NOT what is being targetted.

No, Greg, neither personalising the evil nor blaming it on the victims' supporters is based on fact. Yes, of course, some of the latter are anti-Semites, BUT THEY ARE NOT THE CAUSE OF THE ATTACKS ON JEWISH MPS.

157:

EC @ 155
Sorry, don't understand part of your post - agree that there is real anti-semitism out there AND that some have piggybacked using the real greivances of the Palestinians as an excuse, but the ****ist lobby? No, you have temorarily lost me, there. Fascists?

158:

It is a word OGH has asked us not to use.

159:

Hormel canned tamales...

...can be purchased from Amazon. I am tempted to buy a can and give them a try.

================

You will deeply regret doing that. Whatever Hormel puts in those cans, they are very different from real tamales, and not in a good way.

160:

You will deeply regret doing that. Whatever Hormel puts in those cans, they are very different from real tamales, and not in a good way.

Well, it would be an experience.

161:

One of the oddest things about the "NHS for sale to the US" stuff is that hardly anyone ever talks about "specialist" mental health and learning disabilities hospitals, and how much of this provision is now owned by US healthcare and investment corps.

Cygnet is part of UHS, The Priory Group is part of Acadia, Elysium is owned by BC Partners.

Why wasn't this central to reporting on Whorlton Hall for example? Or the many other scandals involving UHS/Cygnet.

Notably this isn't even just an English thing - it's just as prevalent in Wales and Scotland. A very odd blindspot.

162:

Types of numbers: Integers, Rationals, Reals, Complex, ...

This is a pet peeve of mine. Real numbers are no more "real", in the ordinary English sense of the word, than any other type of number. But because we're stuck with that nomenclature, it becomes difficult to discuss the fundamentals of number systems without tripping over the conventional meanings of the word.

163:

Then you get things like Pascal (which I really learned programming with), which has the datatype 'Real' which isn't a real number but a floating-point one...

164:

Then you get things like Pascal (which I really learned programming with), which has the datatype 'Real' which isn't a real number but a floating-point one...

That goes back at least to Fortran, leading to this hoary joke:

God is Real...
...unless declared Integer
165:

Eh? I am someone who has discussed such systems since the 1960s, was describing such issues in a lecture just an hour or two ago, and have never seen that problem. It may well affect laymen who want to use such 'advanced' differences without being prepared to understand the concepts.

Yes, the terms real, imaginary and complex in the context of numbers are philosophically misleading, as is integer, but it really doesn't cause trouble once people realise that they are just tags for specific mathematical concepts. And it's not hard to explain the concepts of integer and real number to even quite small children.

166:

Re: 'Have you ever been called, and been polled?'

Yes - but only on my landline*. And I've also been called three times for jury duty selection.

I'm sufficiently familiar with the polling/marketing research industry that I can recognize the names of the key outfits. Also know what the generally accepted practices/protocols are re: sampling and questionnaire design (including rating scales) which all of the polls that I have participated in have followed. I have hung up on a few surveys too - and contacted the outfits running the survey to (officially) complain.**

Check out ESOMAR if you're interested in best practices (esp. privacy) for the industry - globally. Below is a link to their polling resources page. IMO, ESOMAR probably has the most consistent track record for being consumer-friendly/protective: do not kill the goose that lays your golden eggs.

https://www.esomar.org/polling

* Landline vs. mobile - for the longest time only landline numbers were allowed to be sampled for surveys. Key reason was financial burden on the called-upon mobile customer who would then have to bear the cost of participating in that conversation.

** Seriously folks, most developed countries do have official gov't standards for this industry and this often includes some means for filing consumer/general public complaints. If you suspect a 'survey', then follow-up and/or complain.

167:

hardly anyone ever talks about "specialist" mental health and learning disabilities hospitals, and how much of this provision is now owned by US healthcare and investment corps.

Specialist services get nibbled off first, because few people are directly impacted and so it flies under the radar. Imagine if general A&E services, or the ambulance service, were privatized and sold to a big American healthcare conglomerate: there'd be an immediate uproar at national scale, because everyone needs them (A&E is known as ER in the US).

Reminder: this is also how private equity/vulture capitalists work over the corpse of a corporation they're asset-stripping.

168:

One of the oddest things about the "NHS for sale to the US" stuff

To me the oddest thing about this is that it is even possible for anyone to think it is a good idea. In the never-ending debate about health care in the USA, there is one constant that everyone has been able to agree on for at least 40 years: it's a disaster, and the wheels are about to come off. (How it is that everyone can agree for forty years that "the wheels are about to come off" I leave as an exercise for the student.)

169:

'Tis easy. What is being worked towards is a system where the British taxpayer picks up the bill, and the NHS then is required to subcontract a USA health provider to deliver the service. The latter can therefore inflate its markup, and is immune from being sued by the patient, so it's a win-win. The UK politicians pushing this all go private for their health care, anyway, and often have some kind of arrangement with the health providers (e.g. a lucrative directorship on retirement). Any wheels that come off will do so on someone else's watch, so it's not their problem.

170:

The part that is thought a good idea is to create income streams for rentiers, that this may introduce inefficiencies in service and unsatisfactory outcomes is not considered a sufficient reason to block privatization. It is how they worship their God.

171:

To me the oddest thing about this is that it is even possible for anyone to think it is a good idea.

They don't think it's a good idea, they think it's a lucrative idea -- for them, that is.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that you can't understand most US Republican party activity unless you analyze it in terms of who profits from it financially in the short term. And the same goes for the UK's Conservative party.

The original UK Conservative rhetoric around privatization (Thatcher, circa 1975-85) was about getting the state out of areas where it had no business operating (e.g. running airlines and other non-infrastructure stuff that could be left to competition in a regulated or deregulated market environment). But from about 1985 onwards, as it became clear that privatization was a way to make money, the politicians boosting privatization were increasingly motivated by personal greed.

This is now the force driving the push to sell off bits of the NHS. It's nothing to do with improving public service provision (hell, that fig-leaf had definitively slipped when it turned out that they sold off the Post Office at a loss) and everything to do with making a buck. Literally.

172:

But because we're stuck with that nomenclature, it becomes difficult to discuss the fundamentals of number systems without tripping over the conventional meanings of the word.

There are many somewhat regrettable examples of specialist terminology using words in ways that diverge from the common usage. "Critical" and "criticism" are a favorite example.

173:

There are many somewhat regrettable examples of specialist terminology using words in ways that diverge from the common usage. "Critical" and "criticism" are a favorite example.

Granted. In molecular biology, "transcription" and "translation" have specialized meanings that have little to do with their ordinary English meanings. But "real" and "imaginary" (in the ordinary English senses) are such a fundamental concepts, both in everyday thought and in philosophy, that their pre-emption leaves a remarkably large hole.

For instance, I contend that all numbers are imaginary. Unfortunately, I can't just say that, even to people who have the intellectual furniture to understand the argument I'm making, without a bunch of tedious explanation of how I am and am not using the words.

174:

I contend that all numbers are imaginary...

In fact, it is much easier to explain this claim to a person with no mathematical training.

175:

Why not? It's an ancient concept in philosophy, and widely accepted. As I used to say (NOT originally) as an undergraduate: mathematics is not a science; it is an art. There is also Kronecker's remark:

"God made the integers; all else is the work of man."

176:

Of course, I *have* been stopped in the street for (usually) marketing questions ... but being me, I usually give them answers that are at least 4 SD's away from the mean

For all of my adult life, people have come up to me on the street to ask for directions. Most often, this is in a city where I'm visiting and I have no idea about the answer. The first time I visited Manhattan (NYC) with my aunt and uncle I warned them about it. They then thought it was hilarious when a tourist couple brushed past my aunt and uncle to ask me how to find the subway.

177:

They don't think it's a good idea, they think it's a lucrative idea -- for them, that is.

All right, perhaps "think" was not the right verb. I should have asked how it is possible to argue that this is a good idea. Surely they have to do that, right? This have to go before voters (right now, in fact) and tell not entirely unconvincing lies explaining how selling the NHS to US companies is going to produce benefits for them, the voters?

178:

Charlie @ 166
EXACTLY how it was done to the Railways
Just before WWII the "bog four" were integrated transport unbdertakings, runnig buses as well as trains - the buses rant to the stations & CONNECTED & specialist transport services for goods, like express parcels & hotels by the major termini.
And, of course, the shipping srvices, extending from railway ports across the narrow(er) seas.
These were gradually removed, one by one as it wasn't part of the "core" operation.
Result ... EVRYTHING was fucked-over.

@170
Yes ..
SOME of the early priviaisations actually worked ...
THEN they noticed that SOME people couild make £OADASMONEY! out of it ... downhill all the way from there on.

Micheal Cain @ 175
I got that in Köln back in the 1960's when I was asked for directions form a pair of almost stage-typecast US tourists ....

179:

Difficult to articulate the mood in NI towards the General Election.

Brexit (and particularly the final form it takes) matters, here perhaps more than any other part of the UK, yet the politics has as usual been reduced to "Green vs Orange" rhetoric and mudslinging.

Parties have attempted pacts in some constituencies to leverage tactical voting, but the prevailing Unionist/Nationalist narrative is still likely to swamp all other considerations.

Some expect the DUP to get a kicking, but seeing as their main opponents for Unionist votes (the Ulster Unionist Party, UUP) seem set on making the Monster Raving Loony Party seem like serious contenders, they still seem likely to win plenty of seats.

180:

#173 Lavery:

> For instance, I contend that all numbers are imaginary.

It's probably more understandable if you say that all numbers are an abstract concept. Though you might then have to explain what something being an abstract concept means :-).

181:

It's probably more understandable if you say that all numbers are an abstract concept.

It may be more understandable, but that is different from what I want to say.

182:

I got that in Köln back in the 1960's when I was asked for directions form a pair of almost stage-typecast US tourists ....

I've never been able to figure out what the attraction is. The tourists in Manhattan were very obviously a couple, from East Asia somewhere, and I was the young man from Nebraska by way of a couple years in Texas. Similar things have happened to me in at least New Orleans, San Francisco, and Seattle.

I have wondered if it's related to this: If I sit on the floor in the corner of a room in a house with a litter of puppies running loose, eventually the whole litter ends up with me. Also works for 18-month-old toddlers.

183:

You probably give off that midwestern friendly/helpful vibe. I have it too, and I get asked for directions all the time at home, and frequently when traveling.

184:

Regarding MH&LD specialist hospitals:

There are other factors that have made these particularly vulnerable to privatisation.

Most of the people in them are detained under the MHA and aren't particularly attractive - violent men, women with diagnoses of personality disorder, inarticulate and disturbing people with LDs - meaning that they have little rights and even less public advocacy.

There's a well-meaning ideological commitment since the late '60s that these places shouldn't exist at all - Norman Lamb's advocacy is a good example - which in practice means NHS providers abandoning these services.

185:

Because British politics as presented to the sheeple has not been decreasingly using even irrational debate for 30 years now, since the media were deregulated by Thatcher. The Conservative pitch is solely using tribalistic slogans and hate speech against their opponents - what Dave_the_Proc (#179) says about NI is equally true (now) of GB.

Corbyn is actually less into that than almost any recent leader of the principal parties, which is one reason he is having trouble.

186:

whitroth @ 140: Yeah, about those polls.... You hear/read reports that say, "people were asked"... no, they weren't. Have you ever been called, and been polled? Limited choices, and if your answers don't fit, they're ignored. Please respond to, "Tories do the best job of governing", on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being "so-so" and 5 being "they made me rich!!!"

The polss are also biased as to WHO THEY ASK. Until my late wife and I moved to Rogers Park in Chicago in the mid-nineties, both of us 40 or 40+, NEITHER OF US HAD EVER BEEN CALLED TO POLL. I have a friend I used to work with who lives in Anacostia, a DC neighborhood that's mostly black, and she, around my age, has NEVER BEEN POLLED.

I got poll calls a few times over the years. One or two were honest polls where they actually wanted my opinion. Others were obvious "push polls" of the "Do you think [insert name of Democratic candidate here] should stop beating his wife?" type.

The last poll I remember was a poll by (for?) the Federal Reserve on Federal Reserve's Monetary Policy & they actually had a woman come to my house to ask me the questions and note not only my "strongly disagree (1) to (7)strongly agree" responses, but my comments on how I arrived at those positions & even my opinions on whether they were asking the right questions.

Thinking about it now, they may have sent me a letter first to ask me if I'd be willing to participate in their poll.

I've also participated in one of those "focus group" polls where they invite a number of people in ... in my case it was a LARGE focus group (one of many) with several hundred of us in a room where they played various pop songs & we rated whether & how much we liked/disliked them, which resulted in a new radio station entering the local market adopting an "oldies" format.

I just realized I'm a hopelessly, middle-class fuddy-duddy. Is there such a thing as a LIBERAL fuddy-duddy?

Nowadays, any "poll" calls are just as likely to be a scammer trying to steal your identity as it is a genuine attempt to determine public opinion. And the problem can only get worse with the ubiquity of robo-calling SPAM & caller ID-spoofing. I no longer answer the phone unless it's someone on my contact list. How would a pollster contact me if they did want my opinion?

whitroth @ 141: I've known one or two folks who eat a pizza that way. They're *weird* and twisted. (Possible exception: Chicago deep dish pizza.)

On the other hand, I don't understand at all what y'all are talking about, going on about a "bacon sandwich" that's got ketchup and is messy. The only bacon sandwich I can think of is a BLT. But then, a bacon cheeseburger isn't a sandwich....

I have seen people put ketchup on a BLT (bacon, lettuce & tomato) sandwich. Which I consider to come under the heading of OK, different strokes for different folks I guess ..." ... although I'm pretty sure (having eaten a full English and/or Scottish breakfast) that "bacon" in the UK is more like the "Canadian bacon" you get in a McDonald's breakfast "sandwich" than it is like the American bacon you get on a BLT.

187:

I just realized I'm a hopelessly, middle-class fuddy-duddy. Is there such a thing as a LIBERAL fuddy-duddy?

You just proved the existence theorem.

188:

I just looked him up, and wikipedia has the story: he said that there's antisemitism, but it's small, and that a lot of the accusations are weaponizing the word.

For example, I will happily say that I support the right of Israel to exist, but to say that I'm a self-hating ethnic Jew if I say I hate the government is like saying I'm antiAmerican if I hate the GOP.

And, of course, Palestinians are semites....

189:

You wrote:
What is it with this almost world-wide drift towards either fascism or authoitarianism?
---

Simple answer: the GOP and St. Ronnie did things to US tax laws that let millionaires become billionaires, and this is their idea of the New World Order: their push to own the world.

190:

I'm sorry, but there are (fnord) no secret numbers.

Except, of course, for certain billionaires phone #'s.

191:

I think several folks, including you, have missed the point I was making about them now calling cellphones: you lived, at least once, in a neighborhood that they would consider falling, with the right racial, ethnic, and economic groups, and so you probably fit those criteria.

193:

Mayhem @ 142:

>1. You need a coast guard. Really you do. I'm generally against ordinary people going down with their boat, for example.

In the UK the Coastguard is indeed responsible for coordinating search and rescue. But they are decidedly non-military, with most of the people on the ground being volunteers. They also only field land based searchers or helicopters.

The ones going out to sea in the fast boats are even further disconnected - they are the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a charity set up to save lives at sea, and almost their entire complement is volunteer with professional equipment funded by donations and grants.

Yes, the military is often brought in for assistance in proper offshore rescue, especially in particularly hazardous conditions - a friend of mine was one of the guys rescued in this incident for example. But for anything up to around 50 miles out to sea it'll be the RNLI who'll come and get you.

The United States Coast Guard didn't start out as a military service. That only came about around the time of the "First World War". Even then, they remained under the Department of Treasury up until 9/11 happened & the "Department of Homeland Security" was created.

It actually started out as several different organizations that were amalgamated around the beginning of the 20th century for budgetary reasons. Originating with the Treasury's revenue cutters responsible for catching smugglers & enforcing import duties (the Federal Government's primary income at the beginning of the 19th century), they folded in the Lighthouse Service and the Lifeboat service to assume responsibility for maritime safety & rescue at sea as well as along the coast.

And when the U.S. entered WWI, the Uboat campaign came to American Waters.

After the war, the Coast Guard was tasked with enforcing prohibition & stopping the rum runners which required them to be armed at least as well as the people they were trying to stop.

Even today, they're not under the Department of Defense, even though service in the Coast Guard qualifies for Veteran's Benefits. It's part "military" & part "law enforcement" in one agency.

194:

My first wife and I had that happen in 1970, in Montreal (we're from Philly). Our most obvious guess was that hippies don't do tourist-like stuff, so we must be local.

195:

Deep dish pizza should certainly be eaten with a knife and fork. So should many calzone's.

OTOH, a BLT is just bacon, lettuce, and tomato between two slices of bread. Where did the hamburger come from? (OK, I left out the optional mayonnaise. But it's optional.)

196:

I accept that you have inside knowledge of polling, but I don't accept your justification of the polls I've refused to answer part way through, because of too many slanted questions.

It is my feeling that every poll I've encountered in the last two decades has been slanted, so saying the people who design slanted polls are not well thought of in the profession is, at best, disingenuous. If most of the profession is ignoring the opinions of some small sector, saying the profession doesn't think well of the majority is as close to lying as one can get without being a politician.

Your justification of small numbers is also extremely weak. That requires that the sample actually be random, and there are rather strong indications that it isn't. It's closer to "sign a petition and get on a poll".

197:

Point of note for Americans: what the British call "bacon" is what you probably call "Danish bacon", or even "ham". It's fried or grilled, piled up deep, and served between slices of buttered white bread, with nothing else (except possibly ketchup or brown sauce for those who can't take their dead pig naked).

Heavenly, food of the gods, utterly unlike anything in American cuisine, etc.

198:

And there are those who deny the existence of Real numbers. Rationals, yes...but a rational of infinite length is proof that you've chosen the wrong base to represent it. And complex doesn't require real.

This does require that one deny continuity, but that's not problem. I, for one, believe that the universe is discontinuous, probably at around 10^-33 centimeters.

What this is based on is the denial of all sorts of infinity. There's no obvious way to determine that it's an incorrect viewpoint, or that the converse is. But it denies that in "for all epsilon there exists a delta such that" epsilon can decrease without limit. Rather it considers that a convenient simplification when dealing with "large" things far from the level of discontinuity.

199:

How can people say "The wheels are about to come off for 40 years?", they can say it because ever since around 1955 people look back and say health care now is worse than it was a decade ago. And they aren't wrong. More extreme problems can be treated, but average care is continually getting worse. And costs have been rising a lot faster than inflation (except for a couple of years when inflation leapt ahead).

That said, I was relatively unaffected, as I was a military dependent during the early part, and stopped being a dependent about the time military benefits stopped being adequate.

200:

I can assure you that denying continuity IS a problem, but that refers to the properties of number, not measurements in the universe. The former does not imply the latter - indeed, in some viewpoints, measurements in the universe aren't even deterministic.

201:

Also remember that, in addition to what Mayhem said, the British coastguard and border control (originally customs and excise) are not the same, not at all. I believe that your coastguard always was the equivalent of the latter.

202:

And there are those who deny the existence of Real numbers.

Indeed. Despite their apparent familiarity and simplicity, the reals are the most mysterious type of number. Whole numbers and thereby integers arise naturally from set theory. (Transfinites, too, if, unlike the finitists, you allow the existence of infinite sets.) Rationals are easily constructed as a quotient set of ordered pairs of integers, identifying (a,b) with (c,d) if ad = bc. Complex numbers are of course constructed as ordered pairs of simpler numbers, with arithmetic operations defined such that one member of each pair can be interpreted as a coefficient of sqrt(-1).

The reals, despite their apparent intuitiveness, were not really understood until the 19th century, when the great mathematicians of that time (Cauchy, Riemann, Weierstrass, etc) invented analysis. The reals can be constructed from the rationals, but only in rather complicated, not immediately intuitive ways, for instance as Dedekind cuts, or as quotient sets of Cauchy sequences.

Thus it was that Kronecker said, "Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk".

203:

Charlie @ 171:

To me the oddest thing about this is that it is even possible for anyone to think it is a good idea.

They don't think it's a good idea, they think it's a lucrative idea -- for them, that is.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that you can't understand most US Republican party activity unless you analyze it in terms of who profits from it financially in the short term. And the same goes for the UK's Conservative party.

While it does seem to be all in the service of who can steal everything that's not nailed down (and IF I can pry it loose with this here jack-hammer it wasn't nailed down!!!) ... in the U.S. you have the situation where the "Republican Party" (R.I.P.) sold its soul to NEO-Confederates who want to actively undo the Emancipation Proclamation along with the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.

Plus their determination to DO ANYTHING to grab and hold on to power led to their cooperation with the Russians (You didn't think the Russians just interfered in the Presidential election did you?) to steal the election in 2016.

And 2016 wasn't the first time the CorruptRepublicans used Russian hackers to steal computer data from their Democratic (and democratic) opponents.

In the U.S. we have this thing called RICO - Racketeer Influenced Criminal Organization to describe organized criminal enterprises. Nowadays, "Republican" and "Racketeer" are synonyms. I think you can better understand the current state of U.S. politics if you realize that Donald Trump didn't corrupt the Republican Party, he just saw a chance to take advantage of their corruption for his own profit.

204:

Michael Cain @ 176:

Of course, I *have* been stopped in the street for (usually) marketing questions ... but being me, I usually give them answers that are at least 4 SD's away from the mean

For all of my adult life, people have come up to me on the street to ask for directions. Most often, this is in a city where I'm visiting and I have no idea about the answer. The first time I visited Manhattan (NYC) with my aunt and uncle I warned them about it. They then thought it was hilarious when a tourist couple brushed past my aunt and uncle to ask me how to find the subway.

You must have an "honest face".

205:

LAvery @ 177:

They don't think it's a good idea, they think it's a lucrative idea -- for them, that is.

All right, perhaps "think" was not the right verb. I should have asked how it is possible to argue that this is a good idea. Surely they have to do that, right? This have to go before voters (right now, in fact) and tell not entirely unconvincing lies explaining how selling the NHS to US companies is going to produce benefits for them, the voters?

They're sociopaths. Although they will eschew the "entirely unconvincing" lies, lying to voters in order to line their own pockets doesn't matter.

206:

Although they will eschew the "entirely unconvincing" lies, lying to voters in order to line their own pockets doesn't matter.

Yes, I got that. What I'm asking is, what are the "not entirely unconvincing lies" that they tell to justify these actions to their voters?

207:

Charlie Stross @ 197: Point of note for Americans: what the British call "bacon" is what you probably call "Danish bacon", or even "ham". It's fried or grilled, piled up deep, and served between slices of buttered white bread, with nothing else (except possibly ketchup or brown sauce for those who can't take their dead pig naked).

Heavenly, food of the gods, utterly unlike anything in American cuisine, etc.

We just call that a "ham sandwich", 'cause in the U.S. "bacon" means strips of sliced pork-belly.

Most places in the U.S. when you say "ham sandwich" people think of "ham" as a thin sliced deli meat, but here in the American South, you can get a ham sandwich with real thick slices of ham on white bread [1]. We do more often use mayonnaise instead of butter and frequently garnish it with lettuce & sliced tomato.

[1] I'll ask for whole wheat bread if they've got it, but many places white bread is all they got.

208:

More extreme problems can be treated, but average care is continually getting worse. And costs have been rising a lot faster than inflation

A phenomenon known to economists as Baumol's cost disease, and it's probably impossible to fix short of us developing a human-equivalent general AI.

Simply put: you can improve productivity per person-hour worked in manufacturing or agriculture or software development (maybe), but certain service jobs are resistant to productivity improvements. If a waiter can serve 20 diners in an hour, they can't somehow improve and serve 40 per hour -- because the speed of each job is limited by external factors. Similarly, a doctor might be able to do 5 consultations per hour but can't reasonably double their throughput. However, the wages of waiters[*] and doctors have to be competitive with the labour market as a whole. So labour costs tend to rise even though "productivity" is constant.

This is without reference to price-jacking of pharmaceuticals, or knock-on effects from overstaffing in the management/insurance industries.


[*] Yes, I know about the disgraceful American practice of expecting waiters to subsist off tips and not receive a salary: IMO the practice is abusive and should be illegal.

209:

I can assure you that denying continuity IS a problem, ...
I have a friend who is (well, was) a professional mathematician, and he disagrees with you. And he has other friends who still are mathematicians who disagree with you.

Well, of course that depends on what you mean by problem. If you mean "That creates a lot of proofs that need to be redone" you're correct. They've done many of those proofs successfully...but there are a LOT more. Basically all of math that depends on infinitesimals and infinities. But the assumption of infinitesimals was never really justified, and, really, "two copies of the real numbers, and paint the numbers in one copy red and the other copy blue.....". I really don't understand how anyone could have accepted that as a valid argument (even though I did at one time).

210:

Not unless the ham is fried first, and served piping hot!

211:

Elderly Cynic @ 201: Also remember that, in addition to what Mayhem said, the British coastguard and border control (originally customs and excise) are not the same, not at all. I believe that your coastguard always was the equivalent of the latter.

As I understand it, "excise" is a tax on a particular class of goods, while "customs" would be tariffs imposed on imported goods. Some imported goods could therefore be subject to both "excise" and "customs".

Revenue cutters had no role in collecting either excise or customs; they were tasked to prevent smuggling and ensure that all imports into the fledgling U.S. were properly accounted for so that they could be appropriately taxed.

212:

The US Coast Guard also does scientific research. (One of my brother's classmates went to the Coast Guard Academy and helped design some of their research ships. He figured it was better than the military - they graduated from high school in 1970.)

213:

You ask this every time it comes up :)

There is a certain well-known children's song which we always used to render as:

Daddy's going to take us to the loo tomorrow
Loo tomorrow, loo tomorrow
Daddy's going to take us to the loo tomorrow
We're going to stay all day.

If you apply the reverse transformation to the name of the vintage locomotive used in The Titfield Thunderbolt the resulting string is also a correct replacement for EC's asterisks.

(EC @ 156: Has he? I must have missed that. I wondered why you were censoring yourself so meticulously. Thank you for the refresh.)

214:

Much like "Canadian bacon" then, but in bigger pieces?

215:

Charlie Stross @ 210: Not unless the ham is fried first, and served piping hot!

Now you're getting into an even smaller (dying) subset of Southern cuisine, but that's what we'd call a "HOT ham sandwich". Won't find many places in the cities that still serve it, but ask for it at some small town "grill" - the kind of small rural restaurant that serves local farmers - open from about 5:00am to 2:00pm six days a week and they won't bat an eye.

Breakfast is eggs - scrambled or fried, bacon or sausage (or both) with grits & toast; lunch is usually the "blue plate special" - meat du jour & two veg with sweet ice tea (you might be able to get UN-sweet ice tea in Atlanta, but not in Spivey's Corner, NC) and either peach cobbler, apple cobbler or banana pudding for desert.

They're not open for supper. If you want to eat out at supper you go to the big city like Clinton or Dunn.

But yeah, you can get a hot, fried ham sandwich here if you know the right place.

216:

Let's not forget Conway's surreal numbers, which encompass (IIRC) everything not involving the square root of -1 -- see e.g. Wikipedia.

217:

As regards the NHS in particular, the method seems to be mainly to shout about "£BIGNUM for our NHS" and rely on the similarity of the information content of UK news media to that of a slurry of dog shit to minimise the number of people who realise where it's actually going.

As regards privatisation in general, somehow or other the assertion from the Thatcher years that privatisation makes things better and cheaper has become so embedded in the public consciousness that people now accept it as the kind of fundamental dogma to which any challenge produces such overwhelming cognitive dissonance that any desperate argument provides grounds to reject it. Point out even the most blatant logical contradiction and you'll get some bell replying that since privatisation they never run out of post-it notes in the office any more and thinking that's a conclusive argument in favour of the general case.

218:

Let's not forget Conway's surreal numbers, which encompass (IIRC) everything not involving the square root of -1 -- see e.g. Wikipedia.

I stand corrected.

Sorry -- I meant reals are the most mysterious among the commonly used types of numbers.

219:

there are those who deny the existence of Real numbers

Someone really missed a chance there... why are there no unreal numbers?

220:

I have a fairly good mathematics degree, have been using some of those skills all my life (professionally), and am pretty sure that you have misunderstood. Bugger redoing proofs - you have introduced the concept of convergent series that don't converge to anything, finite integrals that don't have a value, and so on. Plus (probably) denying the existence of important mathematical constants, like pi.

Re #218: complex numbers are VERY widely used, too, and quaternions are becoming increasingly used in some fields (though are still unusual, even there). And, in some contexts, even transfinite numbers are fairly commonly used.

221:

Should you visit the UK and find yourself assailed by hunger but unable to locate a chippy, don't bother looking around the town centre, where you will typically find masses of packaging which exceed the contents in both mass and value enclosing some conventional item burdened with a funny foreign name and consumable in two bites, sold for a price which adds considerable insult to the injury of still feeling hungry afterwards. Rail travellers in particular are expected to subsist on such fare, at prices which make the tickets look cheap.

Instead, head out to an industrial estate. There you will find (by following your nose) one of the Roundworld spawn of CMOT Dibbler and Harga's House of Ribs: a van parked up attached to a caravan-sized square trailer with a large hatch on one side through which Harbler serves the food of the gods.

A bacon sandwich from such an establishment consists of two industrially thick slices of bread, cut with a bread knife from a loaf of industrial cross-section and spread with an industrial quantity of butter, enclosing an industrial quantity of bacon as per Charlie's description. The first thing you notice is how hard it is to squash its thickness into your mouth to take a bite. The second is that it was well worth the effort. The third is that the little paper napkin it is served in is lamentably inadequate to contain the oozing which commences as soon as the structure is disturbed.

Additional or alternative fillings include burgers, sausages and fried eggs, in any desired combination; also available, in squeezy bottles, are ketchup, brown sauce, and the kind of mustard that you can eat raw by the tablespoon without ill effect. All of these tend to increase deliciousness and all of them augment the already industrial levels of ooze.

222:

My phone number is a member of the set of numbers which are not numbers.

223:

A hold-my-beer contest between Americans and UK people is never a good idea. I am amused (been for a while about this, reasons) at this latest round. Trump, addressing troops in Afghanistan:

“A thing called space. You know about that right? Space. We’re going to have space covered very well. We’re covering it now but we have to cover it to a much greater extent” pic.twitter.com/FYq1JQ36C7

— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) November 28, 2019

and, bold mine:
Mulvaney Sports American Flag Polo And Space Force Hat After Trump’s Afghanistan Trip (Christian Datoc, November 29, 2019)

The BoJo "lies" story could grow some strong legs, though.

224:

Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews, full stop.

If your statement that "of course Palestinians are Semites" was, as most such statements are, designed to confuse or defuse the meaning of anti-Semitism, that is itself anti-Semitic.

On the other hand, despising Netanyahu in particular or the current Israeli government in general doesn't in any way make you an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew.

225:

"...statements ... designed to confuse ... the meaning of anti-Semitism, that is itself anti-Semitic."

By that measure, the usage of the term frequently espoused by... er, the Titfield Toilet Transformation crew... is itself antisemitic; whence it follows that whitroth's comment is the opposite.

226:

My phone number is a member of the set of numbers which are not numbers.

A blast from the Internet's past:

In _Popular Communications_ magazine, June 1990, p. 4, the editor, Tom Kneitel, tells of his woes with The Phone Company's call-waiting service, and how he got the runaround when he tried to cancel it. He wasted their time in turn: [Grammar as published.]

"Whom do you suppose it was at the phone company that came up with the idea of putting area codes in parenthesis, as in (800)-555-1212. Doesn't appear to serve any practical purpose, nor does it match up very will with the rules governing the use of parenthesis...

"The other day, I called telco... I told them that I had discovered my phone might be defective because it was missing the symbols necessary to dial long distance calls. I said that I could find a star and a crosshatch on the buttons, but not those curved ones that go around the area code. How was I to make any long distance calls if my phone was missing those buttons?

"I got the impression that even though they...had...heard it all, this one was a bombshell that caught them off guard. A surprising string of supervisors and managers took the time to tell me that it wasn't necessary to actually include the curved symbols in my dialing, but they either handed me off to someone else, or promised to call me back when I demanded to know why the curved lines were there if they were meaningless.

"Another twenty minutes of being pushed on this end and I suspect they would have promised to send over a telephone with parenthesis buttons because it was the only way to finally get rid of me.

"Even so, it was less than an hour of enjoyment for me as they squirmed to keep a straight face while dealing with a crackpot... A small price they paid for the year of beeping I endured as a result of their infernal _Call Waiting_."

227:

So if I don't hate them, I just dispassionately decide that the world would be better without them and act to implement that decision, it's not anti-semitism?

Just asking because in Australia the decision that Australia was uninhabited (or could be made so) is generally regarded as anti-aboriginal these days. It was made in pity rather than hatred, comforting members a dying sub-species who were unable to comprehend or cope with the transition to civilisation that was underway. Even the white blindfold brigade don't try to deny that racially based genocide is racist, their focus is on denying the scale and especially denying any specific evidence. Think fossil fuel companies or tobacco companies "other people who do what we do are wrong and evil, but our operations are environmentally friendly. Why, we even have solar panels on our petrol stations". Likewise "Sydney was colonised peacefully, we even kept some of the original place names". Conditions apply, not all viewpoints are applicable to the situation, things have changed since then, that was history*, and so on.

* that things that happened yesterday and continue to happen today are history, right?

228:

I was lucky that I got a phone number that's a string in pi. So I only have to remember a shade over 67 million digits of pi and there it is.

229:

It is my feeling that every poll I've encountered in the last two decades has been slanted...

Unfortunately, it can be profitable to take a dump into the public punch bowl. (Examples: too much of UK & US politics the last three years.) Ways to close down people who understand the laws well enough to not do anything spectacularly illegal are few.

Your justification of small numbers is also extremely weak. That requires that the sample actually be random, and there are rather strong indications that it isn't.

Getting results that look random but aren't is an entire family of pitfalls that can make a data set distorted or useless. It frequently comes up in the physical sciences too. Designing a good experiment can be hard.

People from the previously mentioned group who don't want unbiased results won't care, except that they may intentionally choose samples that support the results they want to get.

230:

Just re-posting Moz's link from the other thread,to make sure everyone sees THIS criminally insane legislative stupidity

Windscale @ 180
Correct ... if one takes an "Imaginary" number as the general case ... then all the other are subsets of the former ... maybe.
WHat about the Transcendentals, though, "e" & "π" etc ... ?

JBS
Is there such a thing as a LIBERAL fuddy-duddy?
Yes, me .....

Charlie @ 197
YES!
... I have just eanten grilled bacon on toasted home-made bread, dribble, etc.

EC @ 198
I thought it was another two (three?) orders of mgnitude smalle than that?
~ 10^(-35)
Um err, "Planck Length" - yes?

Pigeon @ 213
The real name of the locomotive?
Which was & is "Lion" -> noil / Thunderbolt -> tlobrednuht
Uh?
What are you smoking?

Publius Jay @ 224
Yes, but ...
This is where I came in some way back ... I expressed shall we say dislike (?) of Bennie & his crew & was immediately ranted at about "It isn't just him, it goes back to the founding of Israel & the Plaestinians & ..."
Which is where the accusations against Corbyn & much more accurately, some of his friends do stand up[.
Seamus Milne is a nasty piece of work - definitely in the camel corps.

231:

I was lucky that I got a phone number that's a string in pi.

Same here, but probably no luck involved. Pi is generally believed to be a "normal" number (as are almost all real numbers). If so, any string of digits of any given length will occur in it somewhere.

232:

My phone number is a substring of both e and π. Some luck, huh?

233:

Did you know that 90% of numbers are made up?

234:

Greg: The transformation is not reversing the order of the letters, it's swapping initial L and Z.


Back to the topic at hand, what do people think of the chances of a very hung parliament?

235:

Back to the topic at hand, what do people think of the chances of a very hung parliament?

(I cannot pass up a straight line.)

Sorry, no, I don't have any hope of a well hung parliament.

236:

what do people think of the chances of a very hung parliament?

Very low.

Rope is cheap enough, but few can tie a decent noose these days… :-)

237:

Rope is cheap enough, but few can tie a decent noose these days… :-)

Practice makes perfect. :-}

238:

I was lucky that I got a phone number that's a string in pi.

Me too. https://www.angio.net/pi/piquery.html tells me that it's a bit more than 160 megadigits in. Uncanny, isn't it?

239:

https://www.angio.net/pi/piquery.html tells me that it's a bit more than 160 megadigits in.

Mine is not within the first 2x108 digits :-( That's a probability of e-2 ≈ 13.5%.

240:

Half remembered math here : any arbitrary (but finite) sequence of numbers can be found in any transcendental number. pi and e are transcendental.

gasdive may have been facetious here.

241:

Nope, sorry. You have misremembered. That's absolutely normal numbers. Nobody knows if pi is one. It is conjectured that e is.

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

242:

Correction: normal to base 10. Sorry.

243:

Re 104: Didn't realize that about Miliband but that makes sense; my only exposure to the bacon "gaffe" was after Cameron and the Pig there were jokes about him realizing just where that pork had come from :-) . As a resident of NYC this gets familiar as NYC is a very Jewish city but the Jewish politics get Very Complicated, and in fact, the super Hasidic areas were the only places that voted for Trump (literally everyone else rejected him).

244:

#226: (This is super off topic but I think we have reached the allowed limit?) . One of the interesting things about DTMF as defined by Ma Bell in the 60s (and I believe the UK system was based on it) is it's actually a 4x4 grid, with 4 extra tones that don't have buttons on normal phones (labelled A, B, C, D). The US Military uses (used?) them and before everyone realized what a disaster in-band signalling was the phone companies but otherwise they are implicit...

245:

gasdive may have been facetious here.

Yes, we are all riffing on the same joke (except perhaps MikeA, who may not have realized immediately that gasdive was making a joke).

246:

"The reverse transformation" does not mean "the transformation of reversing the order of the letters", but "the reverse of the transformation that was applied to the song" ;)

247:

Yes !
My advanced math are now 30+ years old.

248:

There's even an SF short/shaggy dog story about mathematically-ignorant Species 1 making some bargain with advanced Species 2 to obtain a library which is fantastically small yet contains all of Species 2's knowledge, and what they get turns out to be an algorithm for generating the digits of pi. The twist is that the protagonist by chance immediately recognises his phone number in the early output, so the story ends with Species 1's reaction being not "yeah, thanks a fucking lot, you wankers" but "fuck me, it works!".

249:

There are other approaches to many of the problems you are talking about. And integrals, as such, don't exist without infinitesimals. But there are summations. Also infinite series don't exist.

You *must* be aware that it's intrinsically impossible to demonstrate an infinity. You can't count an infinite number of things no matter how quickly you count, just for one example. You can never encounter it in actuality, but only abstract it from "I don't see how this could end". Modular arithmetic, however, would look just like that if you were small enough within the system. Even things like googoleplex are just names embedded in syntax. There is a terminating way of reaching them, but nobody can ever do so.

So. Infinite series can't exist, but all we can know is approximations to what we think they would resolve to. And there are finitistic methods of resolving that. (At least I think that the finitistic methods are as general as the continuous methods, though I'm not an expert in the field.)

Math is a very large field, and it's not surprising that you wouldn't know all of it. Nobody does. But continuity is a thought construct, not an actuality. (My friend would be appalled at my argument, because he considers math more real than the universe he lives in...or rather considers it a subset of it. I haven't felt that way since I took advanced [i.e. post calculus] analytic geometry.)

250:

Well, you're right that "antisemitism" is hatred of the Jews, but it's quite a silly word to use to mean that, as most of the Jews aren't Semites, and the Palestinians are...unless maybe they're Arabs, in which case the only Semites involved are the Falasha.

I agree that being nit-picky about the word in a discussion is distracting, but since this is already in process...
OTOH, many programmers and others of similar ilk will be nit-picky because that's how they think, rather than because they are prejudiced. Around this board, I think that's what I would assume.

251:

I wonder how many times one must have been dropped on their head as a baby to fail to notice that sometimes words and phrases mean something different from their constituent parts. Like spotted dick. Or democracy.

252:

"Head over heels" (used in the meaning of "upside-down") confused the hell out of me as a child.

253:

I say "outside in" rather than "inside out", and you'd be surprised at how many people think about it then say "that's wrong". Most laugh, with varying delays, but oh boy some people.

Also "wrong the round way".

No, I'm not a dad, why do you ask?

254:

My friend would be appalled at my argument, because he considers math more real than the universe he lives in...or rather considers it a subset of it.

That's sometimes called "Mathematical Platonism", for reasons that become obvious if you read Plato. I more or less subscribe to the view myself. Or, at least, I believe that truth in mathematics is something quite distinct from experiential truth. But I have given up trying to persuade those who believe that all math is fundamentally physics.

255:

And then there is Max Tegmark, who believes (or at least suggests) that all physics is fundamentally math.

256:

In fact, it was always my (possibly flawed) understanding that Mathematical Platonism is the fundamental basis of magic in the world of The Laundry Files. And that that goes some way to explain why the Laundry has need for certified combat epistemologists.

257:

About mathematics and physics and reality and stuff, there's a famous lecture by Eugene Wigner, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

https://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc/MathDrama/reading/Wigner.html
The first point is that the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it. Second, it is just this uncanny usefulness of mathematical concepts that raises the question of the uniqueness of our physical theories. In order to establish the first point, that mathematics plays an unreasonably important role in physics, it will be useful to say a few words on the question, "What is mathematics?", then, "What is physics?", then, how mathematics enters physical theories, and last, why the success of mathematics in its role in physics appears so baffling. Much less will be said on the second point: the uniqueness of the theories of physics. A proper answer to this question would require elaborate experimental and theoretical work which has not been undertaken to date.
258:

This does require that one deny continuity, but that's not problem. I, for one, believe that the universe is discontinuous, probably at around 10^-33 centimeters.

So what you're saying is that the reals are a useful approximation :^)

259:

I don't know if I read that story as a child and it's stuck, but I do know I'm always bemused by high profile copyright cases where who pop star sues another pop star for singing a tune similar to one they wrote at some earlier point in time. Given that pi in base 8 contains every song that can ever be written, it seems comprehensively absurd.

260:

Former professional mathemtician here (and in analysis, too, so putting my biases up front). The problem with restricting yourself to the rationals isn't continuity (you can play epsilon-delta games just fine with rational numbers) or infinitesimals (the 2x2 matrix [[0 1] [0 0]] has most of the algebraic properties that classical infinitesimals have, and you can define calculus via it if you are so inclined). The problem that the real numbers address is completeness.

If you just stick to the rationals, you find that there are useful numbers like sqrt(2) which don't exist in the rationals and you can't even write down precisely except as "sqrt(2)", so you add them in and get the algebraic numbers. But they don't include useful numbers like e and pi which are even harder to describe but still come up all over the place, so you throw those in as well, plus everything you need to make computation with them work. But there are still "missing" numbers and so rather than keeping on adding in more and more numbers every time we find some new useful number that's missing, it makes sense just to cut to the chase and see if we can include every number that we can so that there aren't any more "missing" numbers. And that's (more or less, give or take the various ways of performing the completion) the real numbers (or the complex numbers if you add in i).

Is the universe really complete in this way? To some extent it doesn't matter: standard real analysis and geometry provide a very powerful computational framework that scientists use to build very good models that predict observations. Scientists can also be fairly confident that they are building on a solid foundation: if a model gives a wrong prediction a scientist can be reasonably confident that the problem is with the model, not some hitherto undiscovered problem with calculus. What pitfalls there are are well understood (at least by mathematicians).

For example, I don't care that I can't produce an infinite sequence physically. I can reason about them as a class just fine, and the reasoning holds true for any particular example that you can describe finitely, no matter how exotic.

This is sort of the same approach that floating point numbers (or other finite representations of real numbers) take. They provide a practical computational framework where, if you avoid the well-known issues, you can reliably perform computations to solve problems.

Plus, I personally find analysis fascinating and that it fits well with my way of thinking (compared to, say number theory).

261:

And to get back to the matter at hand - I have no clue how this election will turn out, and my own personal voting choices won't make a huge difference regarding brexit. Where I live the choice is between strongly remain Labour or Lib-dem, with the Tories a very distant 3rd.

I'll probably end up voting labour, as I am confident the local MP will vote strongly pro-remain, and generally I think Labour's policies are more in line with what is needed in non-brexit policy.

262:

I'm not a mathematician; I took math in college through the calculus of multiple variables, and failed [intro to] differential equations twice, so I'm hardly more than an amateur.

My view is that all numbers are complex, with both transcendentals and reals being different subsets of complex numbers, and integers a third subset (of reals, if that makes it easier).

263:

I voted on Thursday when my postal ballot arrived; filled it in and posted it back. The seat is vacant as the incumbent Tory was accused of sexual assault and 'resigned' and there is now a newbie on the ballot. Prior to the Tories the seat was SNP and those are the two parties that could win the seat. I didn't vote Tory.

264:

Always worth testing any claim about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics is to see how well it works with either a shovelful of dirt or, better yet, the same shovelful when it was intact soil.

The problem I'm pointing to is what to do when counting, units, and boundaries break down radically. For example, you may have heard something about perhaps 320 miles of fungal hyphae in a cubic foot of soil. This is a wild-assed guess, because it's not just a function of scale (in the fractal sense: hyphae make reticulated networks look simple), if you're crazy enough to try estimating the length, you're going to destroy some unknown portion of it while measuring. Then you're going to have to figure out how lumpy a single-celled fungal yeast cell has to be before it's a hypha, and other subjective messes.

That's just one type of organism. In soil you also get interesting imponderables like whether the "aquatic" bacteria living in a film of water on part of a fractalized lump of soil counts as a miniature pond, which leads to the question of how many water molecules per unit volume are necessary to make an environment aquatic.

Then there are ecosystems: inside the lump of soil where you're trying to figure out if it's the "bottom of a nano-pond" or just wet clay, there's a rudimentary anoxic ecosystem where the most common bacteria are respiring hydrogen. The distance between the oxic and anoxic systems can be less than a centimeter, depending on characteristics such as porosity in the lump of soil.

And so forth. Quantification of phenomena for description and analysis is a central problem in soil science, which is why progress is so slow. It's hard to quantify the lumps. All the problems seen with fractals, where results depend on the scale of analysis, seem to be magnified in soil, not just because things that do interact are scale variant (fungi are generally much bigger than bacteria, sort of like rats and pipes), but also because phenomena normally studied by different fields (such as physics, chemistry, and biology) interact in ways that awkwardly affect the outcome of any question you ask. For instance, whether a bit of water on a lump of clay counts as an aquatic environment depends on things like the shape of the lump, the chemistries of the bits of stuff embedded in the lump, how these the surface tension of the water (a scale issue as well, but critical for bacteria) and so forth.

And finally, since soil's the biggest atmospheric carbon sink we can readily access, it's really, really important to understand this hyperdiverse fractal set of scale variant messes sufficiently well to develop a suite a readily scalable methods to get the carbon not just buried, but stable in the soil for a century or two.

So the soil's a realm where the fundamentals of quantification are hard to apply, but we really do need quantification regardless. If mathematics is unreasonably effective in describing the natural really world, I really do hope that a group of soil mathematicians emerge *extremely soon* to help the dirty minds who already work on soils to up their game.

If this isn't possible, then math has a confirmation bias problem, where it assumes that the problems that can be dealt with mathematically are the only problems worth dealing with, and things like the survival of civilization are trivial applications of existing theory.

265:

Just a sarcastic, troublemaking thought:

In terms of sheer resource consumption, the global middle class is one of the biggest problems the world faces. Getting rid of the middle class, leaving a world of only the rich and the poor, might be therefore seen as a step towards saving the Earth.

Now obviously there's some BS and obfuscation involved, as many of the problems are caused, not just by the consumption volume of the middle class, but rather more by the short-term profit-seeking of the super-rich, and these not just for the sake of money, but for the power and influence that accrues.

Be that as it may, are there any known plots or novels that have this as a theme, that the super-rich are trying to remove the middle class and impoverish the rest as a way to save the world?

266:

are there any known plots or novels that have this as a theme, that the super-rich are trying to remove the middle class and impoverish the rest as a way to save the world?

You mean rather than just having is a backdrop for the real subject of the novel?

It would be a really amusing defence for MBS or someone of that ilk "yes, I was trying to eliminate the middle class and impoverish everyone else, but I was doing it to SAVE THE WORLD".

(BTW, the smoke is particularly bad in Sydney today, I'm coughing just sitting in my living room. How good is the cricket?)

267:

I bought myself one of these a few months ago.

https://www.harveynorman.com.au/philips-series-2000-air-purifier.html

(on special)

Back in July a swamp near my house caught fire. It's still burning. This filter has been a literal life saver. My childhood asthma had come back.

268:

I am put off by the cost of the filters. I have a large washable HEPA filter in the garage, but the box for it was coreflute and did not survive the move. I think I will build a new housing this week and set it up here. That setup made my shedroom quite comfy during remote bushfires, but the house I'm in now is larger and very well ventilated (in the Mafia sense), so I fear I would need something like your unit. A coworker has one like that and recommends it.

Or I could just sit here coughing and feeling miserable. Hmm. Get off the couch and go for a bike ride in the heat or not...

269:

I've been considering making one for years, but when I needed it, I needed it *now*. It also has a meter, which I didn't have and which was surprisingly useful. I found there's a big gap between it being safe and it being smoky enough that you can see the smoke in the room. I had a few days of wearing a twin filter mask, but I couldn't sleep in it.

270:

Hmm, a quick cardboard mock-up later it turns out that 10 litres/minute or so is not enough to make a detectable difference inside this stupid house. I either need more, louder fans or a completely different setup. I think I will buy one of the expensive filter holders ($150 for the unit, $90 for a replacement filter... remind you of anything?). It's annoying because I only need it for a few months until I move back to the shedroom, but a few months without sleep is not good, and a few months of constant coughing is going to make me very unhappy. So, "would you pay $200 to save your life?" Geez, Einstein, I don't think so.

This also occurred to me wrt to certain billionaires. The Koch brother(s), for example, were faced with the question: you have sixty billion dollars in assets that will be worthless if the world goes carbon neutral. How much are you willing to spend to prevent that happening? Any economist will tell you that the correct answer to that question is "sixty billion dollars", while the more cautious types might say "fifty nine billion dollars, maybe a bit more".

It does explain some things. Perhaps it also clarifies that the people with the billions are by and large exactly as amoral as they are portrayed.

271:

Always worth testing any claim about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics is to see how well it works with either a shovelful of dirt or, better yet, the same shovelful when it was intact soil.

The examples you bring up seem to be issues with defining the questions. Doing that can be nontrivial. Cranking through the mathematics to an answer once someone has figured out what the question should be is relatively straightforward.

Looking at measuring fungus per unit volume, that combines a coastline of Britain problem combined with the real-world challenge of sample collection.

272:

This also occurred to me wrt to certain billionaires. The Koch brother(s), for example, were faced with the question: you have sixty billion dollars in assets that will be worthless if the world goes carbon neutral. How much are you willing to spend to prevent that happening?

Hm. Another view: If I had sixty billion dollars of carbon-dependent assets, it would be worthwhile to sell them off to someone indistinguishable from a Koch brother. He's both stupidly rich and very old; he "wins" by having a big number quoted in his obituary (and dying before his assets are worthless). I win by having sustainable energy assets worth maybe only thirty billion dollars - but after the implosion the carbon investments are waste paper and I'm still rich.

No doubt people can point to real-world examples of high-value short-lifespan assets sold to rich suckers short-term investors.

273:

“Back in July a swamp near my house caught fire”

Most Australian sentence ever.

274:

THE PROBLEM ... with ascribing the Universe to be mathematics, rather than Physics appears the moment you get "difficulties" like Gödel's Incompleteness ....
Maths rests on Axioms, Physics rests ( Or is supposed to rest - I'm looking at YOU "string" theorists ) on evidence.

Scott S
No doubt people can point to real-world examples of high-value short-lifespan assets sold to rich suckers short-term investors.
Uber taxis
... unless, of course the ultra-right behind the crooks get to change the regulations
The whole thing is a giant "ponzi" scheme, a bubble ... which can ONLY make a profit if they have become a monopoly supplier & have driven off ALL competing road transport, including buses.

275:

It also has a meter... there's a big gap between it being safe and it being smoky enough that you can see the smoke in the room

Mine had a little blip to 20-40µg/m³ this afternoon but it's all back under 5µg/m³ now. My lungs don't agree. But it is much better than the 500+µg/m³ last week. And geez, your house is either huge or the smoke must be really bad.

I'm beginning to think every home should have one. They're cheap in first world terms, and very handy. A bit like a carbon monoxide alarm next to the smoke alarm... for the cost why would you *not* have one? Although on that note... make sure there is a way to silence both of them for an extended period. I bought one of the "five year battery then throw it away" ones and last fire season it decided that the smoke level inside the house was too high and the only way to shut it off for more than 5 minutes was with a hammer. Sold in Australia but apparently not rated for bushfire season...

276:

“Real numbers are no more "real", in the ordinary English sense of the word, than any other type of number.”

Constructivist mathematicians would not consider them real.

Their view would be:
Unless you have a method of constructing a number, it does not exist.

They also reject the Law of the Excluded Middle - that is the claim that every well formed Mathematical statement is either true or false. So they are immune to Hilbert-style diagonalisation arguments.

You get a coherent maths from their views, and a physics that works. But (they tell me) it can be bloody hard to prove things which are very easy to prove in normal maths.

Assuming Reals exist helps get us useful answers.

My view:
So Reals exist. Because the true axioms of mathematics are whatever gives us the most useful mathematics.

277:

If the rewrite of Kerbal Space Programme uses Quaternions then I will accept that they are numbers.

But “Numbers which are more complex than the Complex numbers” is not going to win them hearts and minds.

278:

I like that plot trope so much that I'm making a note of it because it's exactly the sort of thing an aspiring minion of the New Management would come out with.

279:

Careful... A lot of people started treating 1984 as an instruction manual.

280:

"SOME of the early priviaisations actually worked ..."

David Edgerton's latest book documents how a number of the privatisations were preceded by massive re-orgs to make their operations and cash flow better prior to privatisation.

281:

_Moz_ @275 It was smokey enough some mornings that there was a distinct loss of contrast when viewing objects at 5 metres indoors. It usually cleared a bit when the sea breeze came in at lunch time, but the BOM had one 24 hour average of nearly 2000 ug/m3. Today it's the clearest for weeks and we've opened up the house to air it. We even got a couple of mm of rain. Right now it's 30 so the filter is off. On the bad days, with the windows shut and towels under the door, and the filter going full blast we were around 160 in the lounge room. (for those slightly less obsessed with PM 2.5 levels, WHO says the 24 hour mean limit is 25 ug/m3)

Icehawk @273 I guess it is, Particularly when you remember July is the middle of winter here.

282:

That's pretty much the situation that existed in medieval Europe -- a small number (perhaps a thousand or so) really rich people who were absolute owners of entire nations and city-states, a tiny middle-class of merchants, artists, clerks, lawyers, priests etc. who worked for or were supported by the rich and the other 98% of the population were desperately poor and worked for a living, usually digging dirt.

Today we define people who work for a living and are moderately affluent as middle-class which doesn't quite map onto the older definition. Their earnings and financial situation such as holding a mortgage and not paying rent make them (merely) affluent working-class but it helps to distinguish such folks from the scroungers and layabouts of the real working-class.

A good way of figuring if someone's working-class or not -- if they stop working to earn money do they starve to death in less than a year's time (absent social funding to support them)?

283:

Sigh. PLEASE read what YOU post! To quote you in #198:

"This does require that one deny continuity, but that's not problem. I, for one, believe that the universe is discontinuous, probably at around 10^-33 centimeters."

I (correctly) pointed out that it is a major problem - not as far as a physical model of the universe goes, or even as computing does, but as far as working with the mathematics. I can assure you (from actual, direct knowledge) that it is MUCH harder to work with any of the relevant mathematics without it. If you want evidence, look at how people handled those issues you describe before it was introduced as a principle.

Yes, you have correctly understood that it is an introduced principle, and that a great deal can be done without it, but you cannot use most of the general results, so each case has to be handled using special tricks, and it's MUCH tougher. And, yes, I have done attempted it, because I wanted to check for myself!

You are simply wrong that the methods not using it are as general as those that use it. In order to get any reasonable degree of generality, they have to introduce one or more concepts that are very close to continuity by another name.

284:

Yes :-( Actually, it's already being done. But, in fact, what they are really doing is to turn us all into a powerless underclass.

As far as the destruction of the middle-class goes, you can see it in the way that decision-making is becoming increasingly centralised and senior jobs downgraded, even in circumstances when it makes no sense. I remember when bank managers had the authority to approve loans, but it had already reached the lecture (and often professor) level in academia by the time I retired. Lower levels went long ago.

But that's not all.

What #282 said is dogma, but always was seriously misleading. What could be called the 'lower middle class' in most of mediaeval Europe (but isn't by historians, for very good reasons) was much larger, because it included all of the free craftsmen, inkeepers and similar. Many were illiterate, but they were often fairly well-off and essentially independent of a feudal overlord.

The classic class structure is a later innovation, and the key factors of the working class were (a) that it did most of the work that was essential to keep the society working and (b) that was largely manual labour of some kind. In the UK, it vanished to almost nothing by the 1960s, the aristocracy had done so much earlier, and it was generally agreed that "we are all middle-class now". The term was recently reinvented for the underclass that was deliberately created by Thatcherism, but it is not even remotely a WORKING class.

This is a critical difference if we want to improve anything. While many of those people ARE underpaid, as a class, their work is decreasingly important to the running of society, and an increasing number are 'underemployed'. That is not good news. We are already up shit creek, and current proposed developments (e.g. self-driving vehicles, automated deliveries, automated/online 'services' and 'AI') are proposing to destroy our paddles.

285:

Craftsmen and inn-keepers worked for a living, they were working-class. A blacksmith that stopped smithing would starve. The middle-class were supported by the rich powerful patrons they served, Leonardo da Vinci painting for the de Medicis and the like.

Better-off working-class folks like accountants and doctors didn't (and still don't) like the idea they are similar to the coal miner, the ploughman, the Rude Mechanical in that they work to get paid to live. It fits their feelings of superiority to elevate themselves above the mud people, indeed to claim their position to be similar to a da Vinci and the like hence the increasing numbers of people who call themselves middle-class while working for a living.

The real Masters Of The Universe are fine with this, whatever the little people want to believe in that regard is okay with them as long as they work their guts out for their owners.

286:

You'd be an evil, genocidal maniac guilty of crimes against humanity, but not an anti-Semite. (You also wouldn't fit a number of other categories describing hatred against particular groups including sexist and homophobe.)

287:

Getting rid of the middle class, leaving a world of only the rich and the poor, might be therefore seen as a step towards saving the Earth...

There are two (at least) distinct ways of doing this. You can either literally get rid of the middle class, e.g. execute them all, or ship them off to another universe, or you can change their group membership by enriching a few of them and impoverishing the rest. (Presumably many more get to open door #2 than door #1.)

Any preference either way?

288:

heteromeles & CHarlie
Actually - yes - it was tried in a half-hearted manner at the end of the Middle Ages/high Renaissance period, when the merchant class got going & the old aristocracy tried their best ( In some polities) to suppress them.
Didn't work out because the merchant class provided money for both military expeditions & the rulers' foibles.
AND - OF COURSE: Shogunate Japan - where the middle-class merchants were, in theory at least, below the peasants.

.... nojay @ 282 has noted the same, I see.
AND
LAvery @ 287
That is how it was done in Shogunate Japan ... most were pushed down into the peasantry or other underclass', but a few were "promoted" usually into the Samurai class.
Very notably, those people responsible for firearms manufacture in the last few years pre-Shogunate & in the periond of Toyotomi Hidayoshi & then Tokugawa Iayesu ......

gasdive @ 279
Same people as using "The Handmaid's Tale" for the same purpose, largely.

289:

Charlie,

On your opinion piece:

There are 59, not 50 MP seats in Scotland. Just for the sake of accuracy. If this has aleady been addressed, then apologies.

290:

the true axioms of mathematics are whatever gives us the most useful mathematics...

Many mathematicians would disagree with that thought. For one thing, it is to some degree an absurdity to speak of "the true axioms". Axioms are just a starting point from which one elaborates a theory. Whether they are true or not is not relevant, and indeed, hardly meaningful. Whatever works to give you a mathematically interesting theory is OK. For instance, is the Axiom of Choice in Set Theory true? You come up with an interesting theory whether or not you include it among your axioms, or its negation.

Beyond this, being "useful" is not, in the eyes of many mathematicians (fewer now than formerly, I think, but the attitude is still out there) a Good Thing. For instance, GH Hardy wrote (with apparent pride), "No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world". Hardy was a number theorist, and he seemed proud to work on something so profoundly useless. (Of course, it wasn't -- modern cryptography relies on number theory. I imagine this would dismay Hardy.)

291:

I may have been getting confused by the attempts to reduce the total number of MPs, which included reducing the number of Scottish constituencies: did it go through, or was it overrun by one Brexit-related snap election or another?

292:

Nojay @ 282: Today we define people who work for a living and are moderately affluent as middle-class which doesn't quite map onto the older definition. Their earnings and financial situation such as holding a mortgage and not paying rent make them (merely) affluent working-class but it helps to distinguish such folks from the scroungers and layabouts of the real working-class.

Given my life experience and family background, I find your description of the working class as all "scroungers and layabouts" pretty damn offensive, just so you know.

The modern working class arose with the industrial revolution. In the U.S. FDR's reforms for recovering from the Great Depression made is possible for the working class to become part of the "middle class". Nor do the working class choose to be "scroungers and layabouts", but their jobs, the jobs that paid enough for them to become part of the middle class, have been stolen from them by the capitalists & rentiers.

293:

No one would have believed, in the last years of the twentieth century, that middle-class finances were being watched keenly and closely by intellects cool and unsympathetic, which regarded the accumulated pension funds with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans to grab them. And early in the third decade of the twenty-first century came the great disillusionment.

294:

JBS
I THINK you may have missed the impled sarcasm, there.
"Scroungers & layabouts" is standard tory-speak & is often parodied as such

295:

His descriptions of the mediaeval period and definitions of classes are something that would make most mediaevalists and sociologists splutter.

That gratuitous classification of the modern underclass is ONE of the myths that I was attacking in the last paragraph of #284 (the other one being the claims of the likes of Owen Jones). Yes, you are correct, but you are ignoring the fact that many of them are far less skilled than they used to be and could not do those jobs. Both of those aspects started out accidentally but have been deliberately enhanced by 'our rulers' over the past three decades or so, and BOTH need reversing to improve matters. What really will NOT work is the simplistic, and largely obsolete an erroneous, assignations of blame and proposed solutions by both 'left' and 'right'.

296:

I can guarantee that I am confused by that! I think that the changes are due to take place at the next quinquennial election, or perhaps the first one 5 years after the Act, but may well have missed a few gyrations.

297:

Many laymen think of mathematics as being applied mathematics (= theoretical physics), where that IS true. Pure mathematics (mathematics in a stricter sense) is an art, and takes whatever form the practitioner wishes - any relevance to any universe, real or imaginary, is purely incidental. It is perfectly reasonable to choose axioms incompatible with even the ZF ones, and see where that goes.

298:

"There are two (at least) distinct ways of doing this. You can either literally get rid of the middle class, e.g. execute them all, or ship them off to another universe..."

And now we know what was the real back-story of Golgafrincham.

299:

"The working class
can kiss my ass,
I've got the
foreman's job at last!"

An old ditty sung, of course, to the tune of The Red Flag. Working-class folks aspired to not being working-class but they and their descendants unto the third generation were going to be working for a living even if their great-grandkid was an accountant or a ward sister or whatever.

A truly rich person on the other hand could lose 99% of their wealth overnight and still have easily enough left in hand to live a more frugal lifestyle for decades without having to take a minimum-wage job in a supermarket to keep a roof over their heads and their belly full. If that happened though their flappers (Gulliver reference there), their managers, personal secretaries and other dependents would have to find another MOTU to attach themselves to real quick.

300:

So, since we're up to 300, here's something I've wanted to get thoughts on. Does anyone who knows more about the subject than me (which is pretty much anyone who actually KNOWS anything) have any ideas about the likely endgame of the events in Hong Kong?

Will the Hong Kong protesters be able to keep it up? It's already impressive how long they've managed to maintain their enthusiasm. Will they eventually (when?) start to get bored? Will they escalate? If so, how?

How long can Xi tolerate this? It makes him look weak, right? "Weak" is a Very Bad Look for a dictator. Or can he pull off a Handicap Principle inversion? "I'm so strong, I don't need to pay attention to this irritating Hong Kong flea." Is Tiananmen II on the table? Would it work?

301:

And it occurred to me last night that numbers are frequently represented as points on a plane, with a "real" axis and an "imaginary" axis.
There should be another axis for a third dimension. What would it be?

302:

I should point out that what I was asking about was not the verifiable erosion of the traditional middle class, but rather whether anyone had seen either of the following:

--Someone propose deliberately abolishing the middle class (presumably through impoverishing them by a mix of automation and flooding the market with qualified people to force down wages)
--This idea gets used in a story.

The idea of a 2-4 class society (few nobles, mostly peasants, sometimes a middle service class and often a penal slave/public works class, where the slaves are owned by the king and sometimes the nobles) seems to be a normal state for agrarian societies. It's kinda where we're headed now.

With the question, I'm asking whether some bright bulb has decided to conflate what seem to be global social trends with a push to decrease GHG emissions by getting rid of the biggest group of consumers: the middle class. The financial mechanism is shown above, while the social mechanism would be vilifying consumption and NIMBYism, glorifying decreased consumption, financing low-paid labor such as reforesting, multi-cropping, and carbon farming, and so forth.

This isn't just a story suggestion, although I'm perfectly happy for people to use it (spoiler alert, I'm planning on using it repeatedly, not that I'm a published author or have much time for fiction). The problem is that, as with communism, egalitarian movements like the Green New Deal could easily get respun to support this kind of thing.

303:

Boredom is probably not the problem, but beyond that I have no clue what will happen.

If the protests follow the plan of the Tiananmen Square debacle, the leaders of the protest will try to disband, only to be met with rebellion in their ranks, coming primarily from people (often rural) who came late to the protest and don't want to be the ones who failed. This will stop them from taking their victories and retreating to consolidate, and push the protesters as a group into over-reach, where they will be crushed.

The general paths to victory for the protesters seem to involve things like a major earthquake in Beijing or similar (e.g. Hong Kong falls off the leaders' radar due to bigger problems), or the unrest spreads so far and fast that it becomes more useful for the government to come to an understanding rather than punish the protesters. Given how huge China is, I don't see this happening any time soon. But I could be wrong. The Chinese have long-term problems with Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan, so I'm not sure when they will hit their limits for applying coercive force and have to find other methods.

But this is speculation, so this is a useless answer.

304:

Re: ' ...any ideas about the likely endgame of the events in Hong Kong?'

Not an expert but ... figure that Xi's actions will in part depend on how much the US continues to piss him off given the on-going trade bickering and the Hong Kong 'Human Rights Act' the US Senate passed a few days ago and which should appear on DT's desk any day now.

Mostly feel that whatever foreign policy is actually acted on by the US will depend on what the accountants say. Confounding this is that China holds over $1 trillion of US debt. Another possible confound is that China keeps getting/financing more international infrastructure projects. Good for: keeping skilled Chinese engineers employed, enriching Chinese bankers/financiers, and building more trade with foreign partners via spill-over goods and services. By increasing the number of countries owing China for large-scale infrastructure projects, it becomes easier for China to eventually achieve one of Xi's objectives, i.e., become the dominant monetary power on the planet.

Also feel that the current decision-makers (US & PRC) are fundamentally incapable of caring about any 'human rights' aspect.

305:

Re: ' ...global social trends with a push to decrease GHG emissions'

Maybe this will help a bit:

Mark Carney - current Governor of The Bank of England, past Governor of The Bank of Canada - has just been named United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance effective February 2020. (Bloomberg held this post previously.)

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-50621625

Carney's been pushing for the financial sector to calculate in GW-related effects into their financial products.

306:

the Hong Kong 'Human Rights Act' the US Senate passed a few days ago and which should appear on DT's desk any day now.

He signed it 27-Nov. (My guess is he would rather not have, but since it passed both houses with near-unanimous support, he'd have been looking at an override if he tried to veto it.)

307:

One more axis isn't enough. You need two more, for a total of four, which is the quaternions. Otherwise you cannot define multiplication in such a way as to have an identity.

J Homes

308:

I think you're thinking of quaternions, which have one real and three imaginary axes, usually called i, j, k. They are imaginary in the sense that i2 = i2 = k2 = -1. But there is a price to pay: multiplication of quaternions is not commutative.

309:

The next step is octonions, which have 7 imaginary axes. Octonion multiplication is neither commutative or associative. (Yuck!)

310:

RE: Getting rid of the middle class humanely.

Here's a thought, and I apologize if anyone takes this as a slight on Buddhism.

The idea is that we're near or in a period of peak human numbers, and the global human population will undoubtedly fall at some point this century. In my understanding of conventional Buddhist doctrine, humans are the only organism capable of attaining enlightenment, which I'll define (incorrectly) as getting the punchline reality, seeing Mara's work for what it is, and thereby exiting from the continual, unsatisfactory recycling that every being, gods, demons, humans, animals, and memes, is subject to.

Thus a goal for Buddhists right now is to maximize the number of enlightened arahants ASAP, since there's never going to be a better time to help masses of people break the cycle than the next few decades. Conventional Buddhist practice (a renunciate's life of meditation) won't accomplish this, because getting people to become monks and nuns (and their otherly gendered equivalents) takes too long and doesn't guarantee results.

What might guarantee results is a combination of:
--Cheaper, faster, better, functional MRI studies of realized adepts of all genders, to determine if there is such a thing as an enlightened brain (my understanding is that there is, in the sense that long-term meditation produces noticeable differences in human brains).
--Drugs such as psilocybin, LSD, Ketamine, and others becoming legal for treatment of addiction, depression, and other issues (this may well happen in the next ten years). My reasoning is that Michael Pollen took LSD, then did a meditation test and scored as an experienced meditator in a study when he sat there remembering his LSD trip. He's not an experienced meditator, but that one trip apparently made huge changes.
--A rapid growth in the sophistication of transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is another technology for reshaping how brains think.

You can see where this is going: if the technology existed for rapid enlightenment via a combination of FMRI, TMS, and psychedelics in the appropriate setting, it might be possible to help people achieve enlightenment, not in five years as Buddha did, but in a few treatments that those of middle class means could afford. How is this a bad thing?

A huge surge in enlightened people might have enormous effects on politics and resource use (I don't think most of the enlightened would be avid consumers, for example). However, Buddhism has historically coexisted with authoritarian rulers, so mass enlightenment isn't necessarily a victory for democracy or egalitarian government. Instead, a massive surge in people taking the side exit away from an endlessly recycling universe might leave behind those who were too poor to afford this way, and people who were too addicted to power and money to think it was worthwhile.

The end result almost certainly would not fulfill the Boddhisattva oath of staying out of Nirvana until all sentient organisms had passed through before them, but I could see mass enlightenment both ameliorating the impacts of consumer capitalism on climate change and decreasing world population. But in a positive and humanistic way.

311:

Thanks to those who are telling me that there are two more axes - my math isn't that advanced! (It's also rusty. But most of what I've needed in the last 30 or so years doesn't get much past algebra.)

312:

But if you believe Cohl Furey, octonion math underlies reality, which is one of those things that the discerning fantasist can use to bring Lovecraftian tropes into the 21st Century.

313:

And just to annoy the mathematicians, wouldn't it be ironic if it turned out that the universe behaves as if it has dark matter, simply because it runs on octonion math, and has so many imaginary dimensions? (Yes, I do know what an imaginary number is).

Also, just to annoy the physicists and further annoy the mathematicians, the ultimate irony of the 21st Century might be if we have two models of reality, quantum theory and general relativity, that turn out to be irreconcilable by experiment. In other words, the general model performs perfectly in all experiments that can actually be performed, we find no hint of new physics, and neither axions nor WIMPs nor any other kind of dark matter is discoverable using the technology available before the climate crisis rearranges everyone's priorities. Physicists are ultimately left in the position of saying that they have these really good theories that apparently explain everything except each other, and thus we have no idea what a vast majority of the universe actually is, nor do we know if time is real or not. But physics is definitely the queen of sciences, because it can explain everything that it is successful at explaining.

314:

Re: DT & Hong Kong

Danged! - Somehow missed that headline - thanks!

That said: still think that US financial interests are the key motivation. (How's Crimea doing? Similar enough issues and retaliatory measures by major trading partners including the US esp. re: crowd control weapons, etc. Haven't been following the news lately.)

315:

A huge surge in enlightened people might have enormous effects on politics and resource use

Here's your whacky option: if enlightenment can be induced, then obviously it'll cost money to achieve -- and as likely as not, it's going to take something relatively exotic/expensive like TMS rather than cheap off-the-shelf hallucinogens (otherwise we'd have gotten there a long time ago: think mediaeval ergotism outbreaks).

So: enlightenment is a middle/upper class thing that is aspirational, and to achieve enlightenment takes money. Thus, Buddhism eventually gives rise to its own toxic variant of the prosperity gospel ...

316:

still think that US financial interests are the key motivation.

How many times do we need to repeat that they're not US financial interests? They're just financial interests that happen to have coopted the jurisdiction of the de facto planetary reserve currency, is all. There's nothing specifically American about them besides their use of the US dollar as a platform for laundering the proceeds of their globalized looting and pillaging.

317:

@315:

Many people do not appreciate that the so-called enlightenment period coincided with the widespread replacement of hard liquor by coffee.

Several notable contemporary people have commented extensively on this, including Mozart and Ludvig Holberg.

It is quite plausible that the lack of enlightenment in UK and USA these days are partially caused by deficiencies/surplusses in modern industrialized food.

318:

A number of caste systems around the world are based on Buddhist teachings about enlightenment. Lower-caste folks are further from Nirvana and are thus less worthy and higher-caste folks are obviously better suited to ruling in this Earthly world.

319:

I don't want to be enlightened. I enjoy karma.

320:

And just to annoy the mathematicians, wouldn't it be ironic if it turned out that the universe behaves as if it has dark matter, simply because it runs on octonion math, and has so many imaginary dimensions?

No, why on Earth would that annoy mathematicians? After all, it was they who invented/discovered octonions. Surely they would be delighted!

321:

What, because I'm conflating the word imaginary in imaginary numbers with the word imaginary in the so-far-impossible-to-detect dark matter and dark energy? I don't think that word means the same thing in each context, which I (apparently wrongly) assumed people who actually cared about such things.

322:

Well, if you want to bring on the squick, it's actually more interesting if you assume that it becomes increasingly possible for someone to go to a spa for a week and come back as enlightened as if they'd spent 20 years practicing under a guru in the Himalayas.

We'll get to how they'd change in a minute, but the important question is: who would go to such a spa, and who would not go? At a first cut, those who would go would be those who could afford it, those who desperately needed it to deal with anxiety and depression, and those who thought it would give them an edge in society. Those who would actively avoid enlightenment would score high on right-wing authoritarian follower and leader indices, plus those who are simply too poor to afford the treatments.

That leads to an interesting and drastic divide, because the authoritarians tend to be into a rather delusional and frightened take on reality. Contrast that with the enlightened, who have become comfortable with reality as it is. Note that in conventional Buddhism, reality as it is is unsatisfactory (aside from fleeting good experiences), ephemeral (nothing lasts except really big black holes and change), and non-egoic (things are conglomerations of atoms that are always in some state of change, rather than unitary beings). Not only is an enlightened person comfortably living in this reality without clinging to anything, they are also compassionate to those who live with it and especially with those who suffer under their delusions.

The enlightened are rarely plaster saints, but they don't bother to mask themselves, because they are comfortable with reality. They are who they are, imperfect, ephemeral, and changing as that is. Again, contrast that with the authoritarians, for whom the mask is everything, and what is hidden behind it is hidden for a reason.

And finally, think about the enlightened gradually decreasing in number. It's not that enlightenment removes sexual drives (although it does remove cravings reportedly), but that someone who is unafraid of death may not have the same desire to have a child to "carry on the line" as someone who is normally afraid.

So that's the root of any conflict: enlightened people who are taking themselves out of reality, leaving behind, well, the authoritarians, leaders and followers, and the poor. In the long run this is a poisonous (if traditional) setup. In the shorter term, the question is how much change the enlightened can make in the world's climate change karma before they go off to their final enlightenment and cease to dwell in this vale of tears. That's not much time before the authoritarians take over.

323:

You can see where this is going: if the technology existed for rapid enlightenment via a combination of FMRI, TMS, and psychedelics in the appropriate setting, it might be possible to help people achieve enlightenment, not in five years as Buddha did, but in a few treatments that those of middle class means could afford.
Very interesting thoughts!
"Appropriate setting" would include a tree of runbooks depending on individual mental types (and reliable means for identifying them), and success would not be guaranteed, and might need several treatments, not a few or one, and it would be a bit dicey until the fMRI-based feedback was reliable, but yes. I'd add DMT, and combinations (e.g. DMT/Ketamine (the One(s) With The Many Names chided me for suggesting that one) or perhaps Psilocybin/Ketamine) to the list.
Many religions would treat this as an existential threat to them, especially if it was out of their control.

This (from a 2016 thread here) suggests that mass enlightnment would be interesting, with a lot of heterogeneity. The most helpful essay on meditation I've ever read, TBH. It took him a while, through traditional means.
My Thoughtmenu on Enlightenment (Vinay Gupta, November 1, 2014)
This is how it really works. You’ve got your Buddhas and your Christs and your Mohammeds, and your Abrahams and all the rest of these people – they experience these cosmic states of consciousness, they generate their own mythology and then they run around telling you they’ve discovered the secrets of the Universe – you should do it their way now.
This is why I don’t teach. I don’t teach because I’m an asshole. I have a strong tendency to bite people unpredictably, which is not surprising given what my personal history looks like. You can’t necessarily expect to get a perfectly smooth even curve if you start with something that looks like an anvil wrapped around a black hole. Un-mangling the human personality is a completely separate axis of activity from simply understanding the nature of stuff.

324:

I just realized I'm a hopelessly, middle-class fuddy-duddy. Is there such a thing as a LIBERAL fuddy-duddy?

There is. For Americans, if you watched "The West Wing", or you belong to one of those very progressive Presbyterian or Unitarian churches, or you love NPR a little too much, you're a liberal fuddy-duddy.

For the British, I think you can just measure it by proximity to Greg.

325:

“ The middle-class were supported by the rich powerful patrons they served, Leonardo da Vinci painting for the de Medicis and the like.”

A piece of historic flotsam for you:

When Galileo discovered the large moons of Jupiter, he did not name them the Galilean moons (as we do).

He named them the “Medicean moons”. After the richest people he knew.

326:

heteromeles @ 321
Erm, err ...
AIUI "Dark Matter" is a thing ... something has been detetcted & which produces observational results & "dark matter" is the placeholder name for this whatever-it-is turns out to be.
OTOH, "dark energy" seems to be pure handwavium, rather like "strings" - yes?

327:

Nope. Dark energy is as real as dark matter - a placeholder name for "we don't understand these measurements".

Proposed explanations for it are pure handwavium. I'll give you that.

328:

Nope. Dark energy is as real as dark matter - a placeholder name for "we don't understand these measurements". Proposed explanations for it are pure handwavium.

The difficulty with explaining dark energy is not coming up with an explanation for why it is there. It's been obvious for close to 100 years that there ought to be vacuum energy. (It is even measurable in some conditions.) The difficulty is to explain why there is so LITTLE of it.

For my money, the Anthropic Principle is the best bet.

329:

To give dark matter its due, it does work as a unified explanation for a diverse variety of observations. So it is an ad hoc hypothesis, but just one rather than a collection of different ones. Doesn't mean that dark matter actually exists, but whatever's causing those observations sure acts like gravitating matter.

Dark energy -- quien sabe?

330:

Given the way that its amount and properties have been repeatedly tweaked to try to fit those observations, and is still somewhat unsatisfactory, "a unified explanation" is considerably overstated. More importantly, it is only one of many possible tweaks to the theory and has no experimental evidence to support it over the others. I agree with dpb that it's pure handwavium.

To LAvery (#328): in the models I have seen, dark energy is not the same as vacuum energy.

331:

There's a cool explanation for dark matter: Entropic Gravity. I heard Erik Verlinde give a seminar on this not long ago.

To oversimplify: what "Entropic Gravity" theories propose is that there is so such force as gravity, really. Rather, that which we call gravity arises from entropy maximization. The entropy involved is that resulting from quantum entanglement. Verlinde showed that the Einstein Field Equations can be derived in this way. He also showed that the rotation curve of galactic clusters (which was the first observation that led to the idea of dark matter) arises naturally from Entropic Gravity. There are fewer free parameters in this theory than in dark matter theories.

332:

BTW, the estimable Sabine Hossenfelder just published a comment on dark energy and the possibility that it's an observational artifact.

https://backreaction.blogspot.com/2019/11/dark-energy-might-not-exist-after-all.html

333:

BTW, the estimable Sabine Hossenfelder just published a comment on dark energy and the possibility that it's an observational artifact.

Interesting and plausible.

I will be disappointed if this turns out to be true, though. You know, Martel, Shapiro, and Weinberg predicted, well before the measurements that determined (perhaps incorrectly, if what Hossenfelder here reports is correct) that the cosmological constant (AKA dark energy, AKA vacuum energy) would be nonzero, but very small. This prediction was confirmed by the supernova observations.

It looked like a classic case of a theory producing a surprising prediction that was later borne out by observation. Very beautiful.

The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
--Thomas H Huxley

So, if it turns out that the supernova results were wrongly interpreted, I will grieve and try to somehow go on with my life.

334:

I will grieve and try to somehow go on with my life.

Me too, but it will be hard. Very hard.

335:

to LAvery @300:
I'm going to judge with respect to my own sources I renew every so often.
So, since we're up to 300, here's something I've wanted to get thoughts on. Does anyone who knows more about the subject than me (which is pretty much anyone who actually KNOWS anything) have any ideas about the likely endgame of the events in Hong Kong?
The outlook is not good for anyone, because Hong Kong is stuck in trade war, in a very unfortunate situation between hammer and anvil. The larger problem is that the same place is also occupied by pretty much most of the rest of the world.
1. HK is a very valuable piece of property and place for business that was being transferred from UK to China over considerable time and still is in transition. It is worth noting that this implies no interaction with any US politics whatsoever, except for the fact that US doesn't give a flying f**k about anybody's sovereign rights. So you can meet scenes like this on the streets and in parliament.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFfQvZc-Jeo
2. US absolutely definitely would like to destroy and pillage such a valuable asset to its benefit, if only it had a spoon long enough to do it reliably. Luckily for them, HK and UK officials showed just enough weakness for that to fly. What can be said is that US is a type of power that can not be stopped by reason alone, it will continue until the city is a smoldering pile of rubble on Chinese territory and all of it's value is transferred to US. In theory, there's also other option, where it safely decouples from US influence and becomes a type of Singapore establishment with broad influence on the region. In practice, there are many option in between.
3. This is where DT appears. DT has a perfect plan for this situation (which involves a whole lot more assets than the city alone) - to rouse a short victorious war and declare himself a winner in it, profiting US big time and paving the road to his own second term. Whatever he'd do, he is not mad enough to fire up the conflict to the point where it leads to global thermonuclear war, but his goal is rather meager - trade agreements and other political stuff.
The problem with short victorious wars(SVW) is they can be disastrous if applied out of habit rather than out of need and opportunity, without consequences carefully calculated. They are not really suitable for large stagnating powers, nor large powers in general (IMO, because then they are more like police operations). And recent examples show as much. Brexit, AFAIK, was supposed to be a SVW with EU for some trade and legislative sovereignty (at least initially?). And so were some other recent conflicts, say, Crimea and Syria conflicts are clearly intended to be SVW against Russian influence in corresponding regions - by whoever the hell is planning all of this in P-gon.
4. Now the funny part, because this is a thing I kind of figured out on my own.
Recently US has a weird habit of solving its internal problems by application of external effort and international moves, which is also highlighted by chronic inability to distinguish between internal and international affairs.
https://twitter.com/SquawkCNBC/status/1197511188092985345
HK is clearly not only China's asset, but also to DT. For his plan to succeed, he needs to facilitate a swift conclusion with his SVW before all hell breaks lose and he is hanged by the yardarm. That involves putting out the fires and stopping protests before they sparkle more conflict. Especially important in the city that has GDP of average sized country. BUT, the moment his opponents realize that HK is the asset to him, they will torch it from all sides - which is already sort of happening. The problem is that if that is bound to happen, those who are going to put all blame on him will have just enough time to do so before the entire thing blows up.

Will the Hong Kong protesters be able to keep it up? It's already impressive how long they've managed to maintain their enthusiasm. Will they eventually (when?) start to get bored? Will they escalate? If so, how?
History teaches us that they never get bored, as long as they are sponsored and stroked in the right places. Then they've won over with HK(if it ever possible), they will eye the mainland China, because this is what they are paid for. You can imagine such a big work force that is under threat of losing their jobs - and they are very suitable for fifth column to stick more American influence deeper into China's internal affairs. And China will not tolerate this and it will act until the entire system is stopped on its tracks, disarmed and exposed, even if it will take to destroy the special status of the city and most of the businesses here.

336:

The proposed changes to numbers of MPs and (obviously) constituency boundaries have not taken place as the (almost certain) consolidation of my constituency with another would have moved me into another one; from a Tory MP who was taken to court over 2015 election expenses to a Tory MP who had the whip taken away because of sexual harassment accusations. Though he's not standing in this election (still suspended), his wife is.

337:

Gasdive @228
>I was lucky that I got a phone number that's a string in pi. So I only have to remember a shade over 67 million digits of pi and there it is.

That properly tickled me. Thank you.

338:

to Charlie Stross @316:
How many times do we need to repeat that they're not US financial interests? They're just financial interests that happen to have coopted the jurisdiction of the de facto planetary reserve currency, is all. There's nothing specifically American about them besides their use of the US dollar as a platform for laundering the proceeds of their globalized looting and pillaging.
No. Just no. Allow me to I disagree strongly. There is a lot of truth insight in this matter present here, but this cannot be right entirely. Of course they are responsible, and every US citizen is every bit as responsible for what's happening with his country as he is involved with it. Yes, I solidly agree that most of them are completely uninvolved in this dumpster fire of economy, especially judging by assets they have. Yes, the US is a client state to global elite, for the most part.

But it does not make difference in any other respects. They will be held accountable nevertheless, because this is the only way the things ever work. Because if they will not be, the chain of irresponsibility will bring about things that weren't thinkable in last two worlds wars. Every time, every conflict that other countries only dare to tread lightly and not to get their feet wet, US barges in personally, goes waist-deep and puts their hands in it up to its elbows. Doesn't matter if there are some alligators in the deep, because the US is too fat to take a note of such small issues. Well, at least this is how it's positioning itself in all the purpose of diplomacy - not so much for the real deal.

But every time there's a call for responsibility, for humanitarian help, to uphold the rule of law and respect anybody at all, US just drops everything, runs back home and does not pick up phone. And everything that is left behind is ruin, anger and conflict. "My work here is done". Which is very much a financial interest issue because when you've just ransacked a country, crashed it's economy, bribed it's politicians, sparkled a little civil war, crime and terror outbreak and itty-bitty political purge, there's nothing as good as some financial profit to be gathered along the way.

to SFReader @314:
How's Crimea doing? Similar enough issues and retaliatory measures by major trading partners including the US esp. re: crowd control weapons, etc. Haven't been following the news lately.
Crimea is doing pretty well, mostly because since that time US has involved itself in a dozen more "retaliatory measures" completely unrelated to it and does not bother to look back all the time.

Apple under fire for labelling Crimea as part of Russia in its apps
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/28/apple-under-fire-for-labelling-crimea-as-part-of-russia-in-its-apps
Which is especially notable because Apple can be kicked out of country because they don't pre-install any software besides the one they own themselves.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50507849

Turkey increasingly captive to Russia as Western sanctions loom
https://thearabweekly.com/turkey-increasingly-captive-russia-western-sanctions-loom

"Nord Stream 2 poses a grave threat to the national security of the United States and our European allies"
https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/three-months-left-to-kill-nord-stream-2/

IOC calls for ‘toughest sanctions’ over deleted Russian doping tests
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/nov/26/ioc-toughest-sanctions-deleted-doping-tests-russia

And that's only what I've just remembered.

339:

Greg Tingey @ 294: JBS
I THINK you may have missed the impled sarcasm, there.
"Scroungers & layabouts" is standard tory-speak & is often parodied as such

Then it should have been offset in some way to indicate it was a sarcastic "quotation" rather than his own view of the working class.

340:

How many times do we need to repeat that they're not US financial interests? They're just financial interests that happen to have coopted the jurisdiction of the de facto planetary reserve currency, is all. There's nothing specifically American about them besides their use of the US dollar as a platform for laundering the proceeds of their globalized looting and pillaging.

I wish I knew whom we're talking about here...

341:

LAvery @ 300: So, since we're up to 300, here's something I've wanted to get thoughts on. Does anyone who knows more about the subject than me (which is pretty much anyone who actually KNOWS anything) have any ideas about the likely endgame of the events in Hong Kong?

I expect it will end with something similar to the "Tiananmen Square Massacre".

342:

LAvery @ 309: The next step is octonions, which have 7 imaginary axes. Octonion multiplication is neither commutative or associative. (Yuck!)

Unless I can get them breaded & deep fried, I say the heck with them.

343:

Unless I can get them breaded & deep fried, I say the heck with them.

Have you tried the Iowa State Fair?

344:

Re: ' ... to repeat that they're not US financial interests?'

They are as long as pols (esp. DT/GOP) as well as assorted accountants/economists can point to these 'interests' and label them as belonging on the USofA's balance sheet.

345:

Re: "Tiananmen Square Massacre"

Anyone know whether the PRC have edited out the Hong Kong protests from official mainland news reports? (Most mainland Chinese below a certain age have never heard of Tienanmen Square.)

346:

Jezza, take my energy! Go on and do it!

347:

Poul-Henning Kamp @ 317: Many people do not appreciate that the so-called enlightenment period coincided with the widespread replacement of hard liquor by coffee.

What do you mean by "hard liquor"?

When I hear "hard liquor", I think of distilled spirits, and I don't think those were widespread back then. In fact, I was under the impression that widespread distribution of distilled spirits followed "the enlightenment"?

348:

bugsbycarlin @ 324:

"I just realized I'm a hopelessly, middle-class fuddy-duddy. Is there such a thing as a LIBERAL fuddy-duddy?"

There is. For Americans, if you watched "The West Wing", or you belong to one of those very progressive Presbyterian or Unitarian churches, or you love NPR a little too much, you're a liberal fuddy-duddy.

Haven't watched much of anything on TV for about 25 years (Doctor Who, Glee & NCIS seasons I can get from Usenet or on DVD) and the only time I go to church is if I get invited to a wedding or a funeral.

The only one that even comes close to me is NPR, and I don't "love" it so much as I default to it because it appears to have the LEAST right-wing, corporatist bias. The best that can be said for NPR is it's not as untrustworthy as all the other media organizations.

And even NPR seems to bend over backwards & twist itself into a pretzel trying to achieve "balance". They do at least tell you when something they're reporting impinges on one of their corporate sponsors.

349:

@347:

You are very much wrong then, throughout northern Europe distilled spirits were drunk pretty much the way way vodka still is in rural Russia.

Distillation starts as an alcymists thing in the 1500s and then it basically just accelerates up to some point, typically in the early 1900's where governments do something about it.

For instance, at its peak, around 1800, Denmark had around 2500 licensed distillers.

Coffee arrives in this haze of alcohol, coinciding with all the thoughts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness & other peoples heads etc.

Precisely how much difference the coffee made is impossible to say, but there is a lot of first hand evidence that it played a significant role in building the "imagined communities" which founded the nation states of northern europe.

350:

Verlinde's entropic gravity requires anti-de Sitter space, which our space-time ain't. Consequently it is entirely unclear whether it has anything to do with what we know as gravity.

352:

Both coffee and alcohol distillation were known to the Arabs, and possibly distillation was experimented with by the Romans. Popularizing them is a different thing.

In any case coffee houses, like the earlier Muslim tea houses, were places where people met to do business and where political groups met to talk politics. As a result, the coffee houses played a role in the rise of capitalism and democracy.

How critical is it? The thing to remember is that the Enlightenment period was separated from the Renaissance by the Little Ice Age and misery such as the 30 Years War. Those helped show that the previous political system worked very badly (hence the Treaty of Westphalia and the rise of the idea of unitary nation-states).

So it's not clear whether coffee is a cause, a creator of a coffee house culture that became an incubator for change, or irrelevant. Given that Ethiopia (the home region for Coffea arabica) and Yemen (the first major coffee trading port) did not become world leaders in enlightened intellectualism centuries before English merchants got their mitts on the stuff, I tend to think coffee is at best a factor, not a cause.

HOWEVER, for Alt-History buffs out there, imagine if an an alternate timeline version of coffee really was a brain superfood that triggered scientific enlightenment when suitably processed and ingested. In this alt-world Ethiopia could take the place of Wakanda in world history by hoarding SuperAfroCoffee to itself, instead of vibranium.

353:

JBS @ 347
Wm Hogarth Gin Lane, 1751
Ah, I see EC had the same set of thoughts ....

OTOH - distillation.
Known to have been used in Bronze-Agee Akkad, c 1200 BCE - for perfumes.
Known to have been used for booze at least as early as the 12th C in Europe & slightly earlier in Song China.
Line from film "The Lion in Winter ...
Philip Augustus of France: "Have you tried our new Brandy Wine?"
Henry II: "The Irish have been making that since before the snakes left!"

354:

Verlinde's entropic gravity requires anti-de Sitter space, which our space-time ain't. Consequently it is entirely unclear whether it has anything to do with what we know as gravity.

For sure. But entropic gravity is still, IMHO, a fascinating idea.

355:

@352: "imagine if an an alternate timeline version of coffee really was a brain superfood that triggered scientific enlightenment"

I'm pretty sure I read a smashing funny short SF story about that: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/fiction/coffee.html

356:

LAvery@300 asks "any ideas about the likely endgame of the events in Hong Kong?"

Before I get too exercised over any supposed curtailment of democratic freedoms in HongKong, I'd really like to see an example of actual functioning democracy among Chinese people anywhere, or it doesn't  have to be particularly Chinese, just any East or Southeast Asian democracy that we would recognize as such, even at a state or county level. To illustrate what I mean, is there any country in that part of the world where multinational corporations like Apple would take a competitor like Microsft to court over a patent infringement, and try the case before a jury rather than just settling their disputes out of court? Or an instance like Flint Michigan's  water crisis, where  researchers from out of state could spotlight a public health crisis and have their work upheld even in the face of determined resistance by local authorities? I couldn't  imagine cases like that occurring without private sponsorship by influential members of  government, even in South Korea or Japan. Why? Because direct conflict and confrontation against established authority within a legal framework to resolve disputes on their abstract, objective, rational merits as determined by disinterested, independent citizens is not how governments are set up to work in Asia.  Ever, as far as I know.  

It has to do with their cultural environment more than anything, the emphasis on family unity and conflict resolution by consensus, which in nearly every case means that whatever the boss says goes, same as we have in our private business corporate environments in Western democracies. It's a lot like their whole society is one big corporation, with all the upward focus of authority that implies. 

So don't get too misty eyed over brave fighters for democracy, they're not fighting for anything like what we'd recognize as our own political ideals.  They'd be the first ones to turn around and run a society on personal connections, better known as guanxi.  I think they're just mad because they've had  a sweet deal up to now in their protected enclave where they can be big fish in a little pond, and now they're realizing that protected status won't last forever, so they have to start cultivating patron-client, mentor-protege relationships same as their competitors in the rest of China, or they'll simply be outmaneuvered in the marketplace and diminished in their status and importance as time goes by. But of course "as time goes by" means right now the present value of a stream of payments is reflected immediately in HongKong real estate deals and housing prices today. The old family fortune starts to shrink, most of it's in real estate anyway, yeah sure you'll take to the streets and throw molotov cocktails.

 So its more like something we'd recognize as corporate infighting, office politics, not public policy resolution.  Interference or involvement in a dispute between HongKong and China will be perceived, by any old Asians in general, much the same way as Steve Jobs would have seen actions by Microsoft to influence his board of directors.

Maybe there's a reason why genuinely disruptive technologies could never get a foothold in an Asian society first, they'd never win their first court case against the industry they were disrupting. And when everybody knows that in advance, it has an effect on decisions like, should I put my money on this guy or not. Leaves plenty of room for development and implementation of existing concepts, but it's nice to know America still has it's uses in the larger scheme of things. At least for now. Give enough billionaires enough time to take over everything, and we might just succeed our way into total global irrelevance. I guess the U.K. can show us how to make that transition in style.      
           

357:

Re: A number of caste systems around the world are based on Buddhist teachings about enlightenment. Lower-caste folks are further from Nirvana and are thus less worthy ...

I don't know about "a number", but the Tibetan version, at least, is further from what Buddha taught (as repeated by "The Word", which is supposedly the least corrupt version) than Calvinism is from what Jesus taught (as repeated by the red letter version of the King James).

IOW, people are willing to corrupt any of their "highest beliefs" to justify their superiority over others.

358:

LAvery@300 asks "any ideas about the likely endgame of the events in Hong Kong?"

I notice you didn't answer the question.

359:

Distillation is old, but getting the poisons out isn't as old. That's a lot less important for perfume. It's important that the tubing of the still not contain much lead, e.g., and that wasn't known by the Romans. Presumably the alchemists knew about it, but what are they going to do? Glass tubing that could be easily bent didn't exist...and glass doesn't lose heat very well anyway. So, lead-free copper tubing had to be developed. And rubber wasn't around, so seals were difficult. The alchemists *did* develop mercury seals...but you don't want those around a still that's producing something you're going to drink. Cork is good, but doesn't yield a tight seal. So cork + wax, but that's temperature sensitive. Etc.

OTOH, I expect a lot of people got heavy metal poisoning without it being noticed. Certainly lots of alchemists did. And that does interesting things to judgment.

360:

Jeez, y'all were busy while I was away eating turkey and NOT shopping!

@139: Obviously, any sovereign entity has to control what enters and exits its borders, including coastal waters. Not being very familiar with UK agencies, I default to comparisons with US agencies.

The US Coast Guard (USCG)was discussed in entries 193, 201 and 211. Formerly under the Department of the Treasury, USCG was one of 27 agencies rolled into the lurching homunculus that we call the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) post-9/11. The USCG has eleven statutory missions:
- Ice operations, including the International Ice Patrol
- Living marine resources (fisheries law enforcement)
- Marine environmental protection
- Marine safety
- Aids to navigation
- Search and rescue
- Defense readiness
- Maritime law enforcement
- Migrant interdiction
- Ports, waterways and coastal security (PWCS)
- Drug interdiction

The US Customs Service (USCS) was responsible for policing the movement of goods into and out of the country, collection of tariffs, and policing the movement of illegal goods. The Border Patrol was responsible for policing the movement of people and goods crossing (primarily land) borders. USCS and Border Patrol were merged into DHS and then split into US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Where the missions between these agencies diverge is somewhat unclear to me, but ICE has a clear (and brutal) focus on preventing illegal (and legal?) immigration.

My real question is what missions beyond coast guard and customs enforcement (including fisheries) are appropriate to an independent Scotland that is a member state of the European Union, and possibly of NATO?

361:

@197: Charlie, even Brits have a range of opinions on the best bacon sarnie, but yes, we USAians also enjoy a hot pork sammie. I saute a nice thick slice of smoked ham in butter, adorn with German scharf senf, and add sharp cheddar on brown bread - YMMV.

362:

Please also note there is at least one NATO member (Iceland) without any standing military.

363:

I brought in a bacon cheeseburger, because I was trying to understand why *anyone* would put ketchup on a "normal" sandwich with bacon.

364:

Sorry, as an American, I don't know Danish bacon. Canadian bacon, yes.

Had British bacon while we were staying the couple days in Bloomsbury, The slices weren't quite as thick as you make them sound, though definitely *not* the USan idea of bacon.

365:

The Romans used to boil sour wine in lead vessels to replace the sourness of acetic acid with the sweetness of lead acetate, aka "sugar of lead". There's an enormous difference between that sort of game and the odd soldered joint in copper pipe/sheeting to make a still: on the one hand you're deliberately (if ignorantly) introducing lead compounds in tastably-high concentrations, whereas on the other you just get whatever trivial amount leaches from the small surface area of the joint under non-acidic conditions. The latter can be ignored outside the laboratory.

Where you do get toxicity problems is with concentrating not just the ethanol but all the other constituents of yeast shit, which have effects ranging from a bad head in the morning to long-term neurotoxicity. Distillation by differential vaporisation tends particularly to concentrate methanol, which we all know about, while differential solidification emphasises the heavier-molecular-weight contaminants of which there is a rather greater possible variety.

I suspect a significant factor in refining the process to reduce the levels of contaminants was the increase in the number of (comparatively) large commercial distilleries. This would not only have lowered the overriding importance of sheer alcohol content as a measure of the quality of the product while increasing the importance of flavour, which is said to be greatly affected by the level and mix of contaminants (I dunno, it all tastes like petrol to me, indeed petrol is more pleasant), but also made it much easier to maintain and refine a body of knowledge about how best to do it, without having to continually rediscover chunks of knowledge lost when some particular hooch-maker died off and never being able to move it forward.

366:

Wheat bread? *chuckle*

Around '89, a bbq place opened on the curve on FM 1431, how we had to go to get out to the immobile home (this was Texas, outside Austin). You buy a pound or two of bbq, and they just hand you a whole loaf of cheap white bread, no other options.

367:

Once, thank you, I had the misfortune to eat in a Burger Queen (not King) (NASFiC, Louisville, '79), and would up getting "fried balogna", I think it was. I did not feel well for hours.

368:

Sorry, I thought I knew a good bit of English usage, but... chippy? "industrial estate"? Harbler?

'Course, your description is making me want to hit a *real* deli (of which there are one, no more than two in any US major metropolitan area, forget small towns), and I want a corned beef special: 8oz (I've seen it weighed) (Jewish) corned beef on rye, with cole slaw on top of the meat, and Russian dressing on the bread. Somewhere around 6cm high.

369:

Go fuck yourself.

I have, in old books, seen the area labeled the Semitic peninsula.

That, along with the *fact* that a majority of the Jews in Israel are *not* "Semites", but Ashkenazi, whose ancestors do not appear to have ever lived in that area of the world in history, allows me to use my definition.

And while we're at it... back around 1970 or so, a cousin of mine got married, first marriage, and she married a Sephardic Jew, fairly dark skinned. Of *all* of our side of the family, *only* my parents would go sit and talk with his side.

What do you call *that*, except Jewish antisemitism? (It's not merely racist bigotry.)

370:

I'd be happy to demonstrate what I think of it with some US Senators....

371:

The simple explanation is that it's the language that's required to describe the universe.

I've always read there are 20? 200? words for snow in Eskimo. The idiot weather people have started, a decade ago, talking about "snow showers", as though that made any sense.

It's hard enough trying to teach math (not arithmetic) in English. You *really* enjoy beating your brains out how to explain the volume of a sphere in other than math?

372:

But that presupposes that our Lords and Masters, the ultra-wealthy, want to deal with the hoi polloi, much less the proles. You don't think they hand their car keys to a ...VALET..., did you? They're completely surrounded by their middle class retainers, who surround the wealthy hangers-on, who surround the rich.

Get rid of the "middle class", and they're stuck flushing their own toilets!

373:

No worries! I'm delighted to hear I'm sometimes amusing.

374:

The GOP started that by the late seventies.

375:

Meanwhile, in Australian politics:

The irony of a government put there by foreign interference in the form News Corp announcing on News Corp that they're going to fight foreign interference.

The risk of so much irony in one spot collapsing into a black hole seemed to pass Scott Morrison by.

https://www.news.com.au/national/morrison-announces-task-force-to-combat-foreign-interference/video/dfd0e24e73e12ff836634c2ff6155e14

376:

@#$%^&*(#$%^&*($%^&*($%^&*()$%^&*()!!!!!!!

The usage of the phrase "middle class", in the last 40 years or so, bears the same understanding of it as 99% of all journalists using the words "galactic" or intergalactic": it's in negative numbers.

Actual middle class are small-to-medium business owners, the *real* self-emploeed (doctors or lawyers in private practice, for example).

What they're REALLY talking about is MIDDLE INCOME. Given the report after report over the last few years, that a medical bill or other emergency costing $400 or $1000 would bankrupt most of the people mislabled "middle class", they're really WORKING CLASS, but the wealthy have banished the concept of "the dignity of labor", and oh, you don't want to be *working class*, you want to be Middle Class (and that way you won't want to join unions, for example).

377:

I'm just wondering how long China's going to let that go on. Given the results of Tienanmen Square, and that a lot of these are well-connected people, I'm expecting more like the end of the Prague Spring.

378:

Enlightened, enlightened.... You of course know that the higher the educational level of a woman, the fewer children she has... (and that's a 1:1 correlation).

379:

I thought we already had all of this.

I mean, you *are* saving up your money so you can become a Scienterrologist, and reach whatever level of clear they're selling this year, right?

380:

I think you've missed some developments in the last 40 years or so. What's happened is the New World Order... which, to the wealthy (like the late fmr President Bush, Sr., meant diversifying their wealth so that \satire little annoyances like unions, strikes, political movements, and such didn't bother their pretty little heads. /satire.

So, they basically *buy* small countries (or pay off larger ones) to act as tax havens, and their money is nowhere at all, it's all in the Cloud. They move from place to place. They may *prefer* the US, where a lot of them are from, but at this point, their staff makes one country indistinguishable from another.

381:

Oh dear, sorry...

Chippy: fish and chip shop; establishment selling deep fried square-section potato rods about 10mm on the short sides and deep fried fish in batter, also deep fried sausages in batter, deep fried burgers in batter, deep fried onions in batter, and even, legendarily, in Scotland, deep fried Mars bars in batter, although I suspect they only do that to gross out English tourists. All these things are bundled together in sheets of paper, either "wrapped" which is a completely enclosed package to take home and eat there, or "open" which is a partially enclosed package to eat out of with your fingers as you walk along dodging the seagulls swooping on the contents. The paper is supposed to be newspaper but these days it's just boring blank white stuff, probably because of some health and safety bollocks. Apart from the mobile vendors under discussion, a chippy is the only British food service establishment where you will actually get a good, filling meal for well under a fiver (and if you do spend the whole fiver you'll get far more than you can possibly eat).

A chippy is also a carpenter, but that's not important right now.

Industrial estate: a kind of wart that grows around the edges of towns. Buildings consisting basically of a tin roof on a brick base erupt and people do industrial things in them while parking their cars around the outside. They look like this on a map http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=389254&y=264573&z=115&sv=389254,264573&st=4&ar=y&mapp=map.srf&searchp=ids.srf&dn=570&ax=389254&ay=264573&lm=0 and like this from a plane http://realla-media.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/uploads/property/photos/original/4G5_7gjcU6Umb04hWAEyIg_OcK9WcIzSFgbXuDVbkkf8A.jpg

Harbler: an amalgam of Harga and Dibbler.

Snow showers are also something we've had over here for yonks. After all, we have rain showers, and snow showers are just the same thing only colder and fluffier - and, fortunately, less frequent, so the qualifier "snow" is required, as without it usages like "Tomorrow will be cloudy, with scattered showers" are taken to refer to rain.

Now I must ask you in return: what is Russian dressing, since I guess you don't mean Putin putting his clothes on? And how does Jewish corned beef differ from the usual stuff that grows with a metallic rind on it and you twist the stalk to get it off?

Sphere: that's easy. Fill a bucket to the brim with water. Immerse the sphere in it. The volume of the sphere is the mess on the floor, and you make them clear it up to drive the point home.

382:

"Chippy" = fried fish and chip shop, often chicken as well, often takeaway.

"Industrial estate" = area where the zoning rules allow small-scale industry and similar, seperated from residential areas.

383:

We also have hail and sleet showers.

I can answer the Jewish corned beef question - it's (lightly pickled) salt beef, sometimes called pastrami, not that 50% fat abomination you refer to. Not difficult to make, incidentally, but damn hard to buy in the UK.

384:

Pastrami (in the US at least) is actually smoked corned beef.

385:

The key to the spread of distilled spirits was the invention/availability of reliable and precise temperature measurement mechanisms so that your customers did not go blind from drinking methanol.

386:

...and nearly all the languages use the words for "water of life" to refer to what you get if you take locally available stuff and make moonshine with it. Or even drop the "of life" bit and just call it water.

387:

In the UK, it could be either. Just like bacon. It's completely different from the Fray Bentos tinned gunge. I was explaining for a Brit.

388:

Thank you, but I see I'm probably not going to understand - "damn hard to buy in the UK" means I'm unlikely to have any useful point of comparison, while "pastrami" to me is the first half of the combination "pastrami and rye" that people eat in American novels and I have long resigned myself to not knowing what it is :)

389:

I try not to listen much. But then, they sold out, completely, in Nov of 1995* - I literally turned off NPR for about four months, and I'd been donating since the earlier '80's. By about mid-summer of '96, they were reporting during one week of the Congressional hearings on ADM monopolistic practices, and Wed of that week, suddenly, ADM was a sponsor, and covered died.

This is why I read the Guardian every morning, for actual news, then I go to google news (which *also* isn't as good as it was 6-8 years ago, I no longer see links to The Scotsman, or the Asia Straights Times, or the Hundustani).

* You cannot imagine how much I LOATHE AND DESPISE Bob Edwards. During that first US gov't shutdown that the Grinch set up, he had some freshmen Reptilians, and he handed them their talking points, with nothing even moderately hard. I'd literally never heard brown-nosing before that. AND THAT PIECE OF SHIT HAS THE GAUL TO WRITE A BIO OF EDWARD R. MURROW, WHO STOPPED UP, RATHER THAN BREAK.

390:

whenever I see video of ScuMo I end up wishing I had Adam Hills magic buttons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eVVaDxaOJ4

"A turd the size of Disneyland Paris" indeed.

391:

To be honest, it looked like sarcasm to me when I read it, and I had no idea it was a standard Tory talking point.

392:

HAS THE GAUL

Asterix?

393:

Think slices of ham, but made from beef.

The ridiculous thing is that, even within living memory, salt beef was widely eaten in the UK - as in boiled beef and carrots, or spiced beef which was sliced and eaten cold in sandwiches. You now have to order it specially from good butchers or buy from fancy delicatessens. God alone knows why.

394:

Years ago I listened to a BBC podcast on the French Revolution (probably In Our Time), and one of the professors made two points that weren't emphasized (or even mentioned) in many of the books I'd read on the subject:

1) Many of the principals were young men*.

2) They had generally consumed a lot of wine by the time the debates got going (running late into the night), so that some of the excesses of the terror need to be seen through the lens of "many/most of the delegates were well on the way to being drunk".


*Something that's generally true of most history: the protagonists are often much younger than they would be nowadays — so our default assumption a age based on role needs to be checked.

395:

No, I reckon it was the other way round: distilled spirits have been all over the place for donkey's years, but it was the shift to production in large(r) scale distilleries that enabled those measurement techniques to be effectively collated, refined, and taught to successive generations of distillers, rather than being something the local hooch maker might be good at but probably wasn't and anyway who cares if it gets you pissed.

396:

Thanks, that gets me far enough to reckon it's probably quite tasty.

397:

You might be able to find "pastrami on rye" in a Jewish delicatessen. The traditonal method is to boil the pastrami, put an inch-thick layer of pastrami between two slices of rye bread (generally white rye) with yellow mustard and a couple slices of dill pickle. The whole mess is then made secure by pinning the pieces of bread together with a couple decorative toothpicks.

Half a dill pickle is typically included as a side dish.

398:

Giant ( as in door-stopper ) SALT BEEF SANDWICHES are still available in London.
Start in Brick Lane & one or two other places.
Some pubs do them as well ...
Dribble
Especially if with decent mustard & Haimish cucumberlets ...
NOT "rye" bread" but a dcent grainy wholemeal is often the accompanying "slice"
More dribble

399:

You can get pastrami and salt beef in slices in plastic packets in the local co-op supermarket here in small town south east England. They are perfectly edible in a sandwich though not a patch on some better ones I've had from delis or the smoked fish and meat place my Dad orders stuff from for Christmas.

400:

What they're REALLY talking about is MIDDLE INCOME. Given the report after report over the last few years, that a medical bill or other emergency costing $400 or $1000 would bankrupt most of the people mislabled "middle class",

Wrote this a while ago and it still seems right.
An alt-measure of class based on income security might be something like
-1*log((estimated :)probability of achieving destitution at least once in the next 5 years).
Natural log and a 5 year window seemed about right when written; I'd skew them less optimistically now.
Part of the joke is upwards class migration via gaming the estimated probabilities. Also, some professions are safer than others.
Already destitute would be level 0,
extremely poor would be level 1 (37%),
middle poor would be level 2 (14%),
lower middle class level 3 (5%),
middle middle class level 4,
middle upper class level 5,
middle filthy rich level 6,
middle upper filthy rich level 7,
dictator of a continent level 8,
planetary ruler level 9
(Even planetary rulers have to worry about revolutions, asteroid impacts, alien invasions, OCPs, etc)

401:

Took me until 2016 to pull the plug on NPR. Dating back to 2000, I'd gotten in the pattern of not donating to them during election years, then even numbered years, then...

What got me all the way off NPR was All Things Considered covering the 2016 election. As background, I've always loathed the sound of Trump's voice, so extended clips of him ranting (more than ten words) cause me to turn off the radio. So there I was, stuck in traffic, wondering what was going on in the world. Top of the news report: Trump. Switch off for 60 seconds. Turn back on. Trump. Repeat. Trump. Repeat 7 times more. Trump still speaking. They let him ramble on for ten whole minutes. Then they covered something Clinton said. How did they do it? Through an extended clip of what Trump said in response.

They're not getting a penny from me again.

402:

The chippy my sis and I went to in California has fish-and-chips, plus deep-fried veggies. It's very good, though eggplant slices get a little mushy when battered and fried. Very small; you have to wait for the food. But it's served straight out of the fryer.

403:

Given the report after report over the last few years, that a medical bill or other emergency costing $400 or $1000 would bankrupt most of the people mislabled "middle class",

Middle-class bankruptcy is the issue that got Elizabeth Warren into politics.

She was an law professor studying finance, who got sucked into the debate about making it harder to go bankrupt in the USA. A debate the banks won (supported by the congress establishment, especially Joe Biden). She looked at who in the US was going bankrupt. And why. Her book on the topic "The Two Income Trap" is really interesting.

You're far more likely to go bankrupt in the USA if you're double-income parents with kids than if you're single or childless.

Middle-class parents fear failing their family. They try live in a decent school area with high real estate costs, they try to put their kids through college. Once they've bought a middle-class house and committed to a middle-class lifestyle for their kids they're unwilling to give that up because they feel they will fail their kids if they do. But if they lose their second income they're in big financial trouble.

If grandma has a stroke and needs someone to care for her, or little Jenny has a major medical issue and needs a parent at home, or if Bill has post-concussion syndrome and can't work for 3 years, then suddenly the family is hit with both huge medical bills *and* a loss of one of the two parents income.

Add in an unwillingness to give up the family home, move to where the schools aren't as good, stop paying for kids college, and what you get is the pattern of American bankruptcy - where most bankrupts are hard-working families who got unlucky.

Professor Warren's research clearly showed a finance industry which was shitting on the middle-class American dream, and when she took that congress she got nowhere because congress served the big financial donors.

This radicalized her, and got her into politics.

404:

Or, as happened to friends:
job goes bye-bye, you're over 50 so new jobs are hard to find and usually aren't as good,
you still think you can get back to the income level you had before and refuse to change your lifestyle (or accept lower-paying jobs that are actually available),
then your partner's job goes away and your combined income isn't enough to keep things going without the major changes you still won't make.
Then your marriage goes away, and the house, and you're stuck with whatever Social Security will pay you based on the years you worked.

405:

“Harbler: an amalgam of Harga and Dibbler.”
That didn’t help much.

406:

the Thanksgiving Turkey on the table in front of the entire family

Is this a thing in the UK or were you just using imagery from around the world?

407:

I'm not sure this band is familiar with the common english usage of their name: https://vagitarians.bandcamp.com/

In related news, I have coined macropodarian to describe "vegetarian who eats kangaroo" because if the pescitarians can do it so can I.

The season of joy and goodwill begins at my workplace with a lunch at a restaurant that caters for the whole gamut of culinary needs, from pasta with chicken, pizza with chicken to salad with chicken. Their "weird people" options are a pasta with fish and a "vegetarian" pizza with fish. The kosher option is the same as the vegetarian one, a glass of water.

408:

@402 - the local chip shop when we still lived in Milpitas (southern tip of SF bay) was
a) really good
b) possessed of a fryer made just down the road from where I was born - in Caerdydd.
A Chinese family in California running a very British chip shop with a machine and customer from Wales. What a world.

409:

FWIW in Aotearoa corned beef is just as per wikipedia, with the caveat that it is sometimes made with nice cuts of meat so you get really quite edible corned beef, rather than the jellied salt leather than comes in cans. The islander love of the tinned muck is a bit like my ex's love of condensed milk... it's comfort food from when they were kids and it was the delicacy their parents bought if they felt rich/as a holiday treat. The canned stuff seems like the salty version of "luncheon meat", otherwise known as "meatlike stuff too crappy to be made into sausages", and the only grade below that is "american hot dog".

410:

The people running the one whose menu I linked to are South Indian, I understand. I don't know where their fryer is from - but it definitely works. (My sis and I are Evanses by birth, so...)

411:

Pastrami is apparently originally from Romania - beef that's salted, then dried, and has various seasonings added. It's good - especially on rye bread. It's also not much like corned beef at all. (In the US, it's also possible to get "turkey pastrami", which is treated the same way. It's not quite the same, but still tasty.)

412:

Ah, but poms who are ethnically Chinese or actual from-China Chinese? You might find that they're indeed immigrants... from Wales :)

413:

Amusing and possibly informative parallel between the various right wingnuts and weeds: Vavilovian mimicry. Philosophically/politically, the ones that stray too far from "modern liberal society" get eliminated so what we have left is the ones who sound kinda like liberals/libertarians regardless of their underlying philosophy.

http://crookedtimber.org/2019/12/03/vavilovian-philosophical-mimicry/

So philosophical conservatism should be theorized in terms of the following four factors:

1) an element of aristocratic anti-liberalism (animus against the agency of the subordinate classes.) Cf. Robin.

2) an element of Vavilovian, pseudo-liberal mimicry. Anti-liberalisms that survive in a liberal environment will tend to look like each other because they are all, as it were, trying to look enough like liberalism to not get weeded out as too anti-liberal. But these resemblances, because they are protective mimicry, are actually misleading. At least superficial.

414:

RvdH @ 405
c m o t Dibbler There you go!

Moz @ 409
Oh no ... you can easly go below that ... cue Monty Python & ... & ...
SPAM - NOT the electronic version, of course

@ 412
There is a district of Cardiff/Caerydd which used to be called "Tiger Bay" - the major locomotive depot on its edge was & is called: "Canton" ( 86A in BR codes )
It's still there, as a "TMD" for diesel units & locomotives

415:

Same with a lot of places that US troops went in or after WWII - Hawaii, the Philippines, Korea - they all have an inordinate fondness for spam in their local dishes.

South Korea has a comfort food option that is basically a stew of aliced spam, instant noodles, cut up hot dog sausages and tomato sauce, because those were the foods that became readily available in the post war period.

416:

Looking at the Brit elections from the antipodes I’m struck by the parallels with our last election. TL:DR policy wonks on the left allowed a lackluster conservative government to thread the needle to victory. Oh and a leader who people just don’t warm to. The obsession with ideological purity rather than result, well the impotent are always the purest.

417:

That's very Orientalist.

There *is* a functioning Democracy in Asia with Chinese people, and it's in Hong Kong[1]. There is a place in Asia where disputes between companies go to courts and not via patrons. It's Hong Kong. What we're[2] fighting for is the preservation of the current system as it was promised in the Basic Law[3] but which China is trying to roll back to the connections/patronage/abusive-legalism model they use.

The fundamental problem is that about 40% of HK is 'Blue' i.e. pro-establishment/police, with about 60% being 'Yellow' (pro-democracy). There's also lunatic fringes who are rabidly libertarian (Those loons with the US flags), rabidly pro-China, and just rabid in general.

The protestors have the rock-solid support of the Yellow 60%. These are people born here, or those who's parents/grandparents fled the Cultural Revolution. In Hong Kong, approximately no-one under about 30 considers themselves Chinese Nationals at all, and everyone, especially students like my teenage son, have watched "Winter on Fire".

The most likely option is that the protests will continue to escalate until there's actual footage of police killing someone on camera and then the place will erupt. Next most likely is that the police just stop being such massive dickheads and tell the government to find a political solution. (They're liking their Overtime Pay, though, and are not acting like they're ever going to held to account.)

Failing that, a massive recession in China could lead to Xi flinching (or being removed) and the other CCP leaders are much less hardline. That's probably a few years away, but the protests are now in month 7, and it's not going to stop.

On the plus-side, at least the worst of the mainland tour groups aren't allowed to come here anymore, in case they see protests happening, so we've got that going for us. Which is nice.

[1] In the recent District Elections, where the pro-democracy side won 90% of seats with about 60% of the popular votes, the election proceeded perfectly normally on schedule as they've done since the late 1990's. Biggest election turnout in HK history. The problem is that the higher political levels (Legislative Council [~Parliament] and Chief Executive [~President] are rigged against the popular vote and in favour of appointed mediocrities.

[2] I'm not Chinese but I've lived in HK for more than 20 years, family, here, local schools. I'm an immigrant, not an expat. Plus I've been tear-gassed, and that's the requirement for calling yourself a Hong Konger these days.

[3] The handover Arrangement, and our constitution: https://www.basiclaw.gov.hk/en/basiclawtext/index.html

[4] Error - +++OUT-OF-CHEESE+++ Footnote not found. Still not alt.fan.pratchett

418:

Budae Jjigae (army stew) - as well as American spam, hot-dogs, baked beans, processed cheese and ham the stew/soup has ramen, scallions, garlic and other vegetables and the flavour comes from kimchi and gochujang. Kimchi is cabbage (or other vegetables) fermented with chili and shrimp/anchovy/fish sauce and gochujang is a fermented chili paste. So quite tasty.

419:

Thank you. You know, that is almost the only answer I've gotten here that supposes that the endgame will depend on what people in Hong Kong and China do, rather than on events happening on the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean.

420:

Americans tend to assume that the USA is the centre of the universe and everyone else's politics revolves around them.

This can give them some unpleasant surprises, when dealing with the rest of the world.

421:

Charlie @ 420
The Battle of Bamber Bridge comes to mind

422:

On the subject of chippies:

Many in NI also serve battered and deep fried scampi (dreaded wiki link here), the best I have had (also excellent chips and fish) is from here. Catch is landed quite literally across the road, potatoes from local farms. My mouth is watering thinking about it.

423:

The US can do nothing. The UK could grant citizenship to anyone with a HKID card and Permanent Residency (Anyone with the right of abode here, and a vote.) This is highly unlikely given the current politics in the UK.

No one else can help, as no one is willing to put pressure on China. This might change or be changing as the repression in Xinjiang is becoming more public. I won't hold my breath.

If we had the space travel we expect from 2019, HKers would be Belters, and we'd steal a church and set sail for Ceres.

424:

Americans tend to assume that the USA is the centre of the universe and everyone else's politics revolves around them.

This can give them some unpleasant surprises, when dealing with the rest of the world.


You know, back in June I had a fellow from another country tell me a near identical thing.

He was from Bolivia.

"unpleasant surprises" indeed

Y'all may want to ignore our centrality to things, but that doesn't mean we ignore you.

425:

I blame Margaret Thatcher. She could -- and should -- have granted HK citizens full UK residency rights, but vetoed it for purely racist reasons in the early 1980s. And she was a bleeding-heart liberal compared to her current successors, who have immigration policies calculated to outflank the NF/BNP/whatever the fash call themselves this decade.

Probably the last, most shameful, own-goal in the entire history of shameful own-goals scored by the British Empire in retreat (by the mid-80s there wasn't much of an Empire left for which to fuck things up any more).

426:

The US can do nothing.

You should have this argument with @sleepingroutine (@335). (Who, I'm pretty sure, is not an American.)

427:

If we had the space travel we expect from 2019, HKers would be Belters, and we'd steal a church and set sail for Ceres.

"A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure."

Coincidentally the in-story date of the events in Blade Runner has just passed.

Any "Belter" civilisation would make the current Chinese government look like a bunch of suicidal Libertarians. Belters live in habitats that are one loose rivet away from killing everyone inside in fifteen seconds hence rules and regulations and no dissent or democracy permitted at all. Allowing ordinary folks to fly inter-asteroidal craft which can rack up terajoules of kinetic energy and apply it to a thin-skinned orbital structure, not gonna happen. Total ubiquitous surveillance is only the start and culling anyone with dangerous ideas of "freedom" and "liberty" is the only sane thing to do if the Belter population is to survive. After that it gets worse.

428:

There were rumours that millions of HK Chinese who had British passports were going to come to Britain under the old rules, all arriving in a year or two after the Territories treaty lease expired and housing, feeding and employing that number in a short timescale was considered impossible.

The expulsion of Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin and the resettlement of about 27,000 of them in the UK in 1972 had been quite a traumatic affair, politically speaking and the vision of a hundred times that number of immigrants flooding into the UK caused the rapid change in UK residency rights of overseas territory residents.

429:

There are very few politicians whose primary goal is to make flyover state voters happy. (Almost all of them are elected by flyover state voters.) That coming to the attention of US foreign policy is the same category of event as a natural disaster does not make the USA's whims central to others' politics.

430:

Coincidentally the in-story date of the events in Blade Runner has just passed.

Yes. Deckard met Rachael Wednesday, November 20. (This info is not available in the first film, but in Bladerunner 2049 they play back a recording of that interview, and a time stamp dating it to 20-Nov-2019 is visible. (Or so I've heard. I didn't notice it when I saw the film even though 20-Nov is my birthday.)

431:

@401: "Unbiased news" is an oxymoron. I'd prefer to see an honestly stated editorial stance to "presenting both sides" as if they're always of equal weight; otherwise known as spineless equivocation.

Post the 2016 US election, I've taken pains to examine the editorial stance of my news sources, whether stated or not. Faux News is just that, and the agitprop mouthpiece for the Current Occupant. CNN tries to be somewhat neutral, but their disbelief in the nonsense coming from the mouths of the Republicants (tm pending) shows through. MSNBC would as soon have all the right wing locked in a soundproof room somewhere.

Jeff Bezos has set loose the Washington Post to harry El Cheeto Grande, much to my enjoyment. Not that I'm a fan of Bezos himself of Big River's business and personnel policies, but as a true multi-billionaire, he shrugs off the railings of a self-announced paper billionaire.

I've gotten to the point that I keep a finger on the mute button because I can't stand the sound of the Current Occupant's voice. I'm really looking forward to a time when I don't see his face, his name, or hear his voice on the news for weeks at a time. I'm sure many of you UK residents feel the same about your current "leader".

432:

Typo: that should be "OR Big River's . . ."

433:

Looking at this from the outside of the UK, I think that it is a given that Boris Johnson will get a landslide victory. Everybody understands what he is promising ("Get Brexit Done"). On the contrary, the promises by Labour are too complicated, they require reading more than one sentence. Some of them require thinking and that is a major sin in the political circles.

So. Be prepared for a major overhaul of NHS. You should read that as privatization. That will, of course, be advertised as improving the efficiency and giving more freedom to the patients. HUGE cuts on taxes and you will pay for your healthcare.

A clear and complete victory on the real goals.

434:

“Harbler: an amalgam of Harga and Dibbler.”
That didn’t help much.

If you don't read Prachett's Diskworld series there's little way to explain, but to give you a flavor:

Dibbler is a "slick-but-stupid salesman who keeps going broke trying to sell people things that obviously won't work. But he's such a salesman that people often buy the stuff anyway. E.g. he sold a dragon detector that was a piece of wood at the end of a long rod."

Harga is the owner of a greasy spoon, who serves nearly inedible food (that Sam Vimes appreciates...likes probably isn't the correct term). (Never mind who Sam Vimes is, here the important thing is that he's the viewpoint character in a few of the books.)

435:

Poul-Henning Kamp @ 349: @347:

You are very much wrong then, throughout northern Europe distilled spirits were drunk pretty much the way way vodka still is in rural Russia.

Distillation starts as an alcymists thing in the 1500s and then it basically just accelerates up to some point, typically in the early 1900's where governments do something about it.

Not disputing the role coffee might have played in the "Enlightenment". And I can see it displacing wine & beer as fuel for philosophical discussion, but I just don't believe it displaced widespread the consumption of distilled spirits.

436:

There's also lunatic fringes who are rabidly libertarian (Those loons with the US flags), rabidly pro-China, and just rabid in general.

I think it was Hoffer who said that the common thread linking fanatics is fanaticism, and that it isn't uncommon for there to be 'road to Damascus' conversions (so a fanatic Sgplorgian becomes a fanatic anti-Sgplorgian).

437:

whitroth @ 363: I brought in a bacon cheeseburger, because I was trying to understand why *anyone* would put ketchup on a "normal" sandwich with bacon.

Before you can do that you're going to have to locate a certifiably "normal" person to ask.

438:

Given the current state of things, I agree that any Belter civilization would need to be controlling. But I'd go further...any civilization living in small enclosed artificial areas surrounded by an inhospitable environment (e.g., Mars, Antarctica, Sub-sea communities, etc.) will need to be controlling.

The place where I disagree is that I don't think it will need to be oppressive. With people in charge it will be, which will destabilize it. The reason it will destabilize it is because when there are centers of controlling power, those who end up in the positions will be selected from those who are interested in the exercise of power.

So we really *need* an AI in charge, and one that has an appropriate set of motivations. This is tricky. We also need an improved sociology to enable the calculation of stable societies, and improved virtual reality (one that, at minimum, doesn't induce nausea in most people) to provide an outlet. And improved energy sources. And technology for a "nearly closed ecology".

Given this, we can have a tightly controlled society that's not oppressive, and will work in space, as well as other hostile environments. But it's going to need to be tightly controlled, because artificial environments are not as durable as planets are. But it sure won't be libertarian...except, possibly, in VR.

439:

I liked this line from Wikipedia:

"when American commanders demanded a colour bar in the town, all three pubs in the town reportedly posted "Black Troops Only" signs"

440:

whitroth @ 366: Wheat bread? *chuckle*

Around '89, a bbq place opened on the curve on FM 1431, how we had to go to get out to the immobile home (this was Texas, outside Austin). You buy a pound or two of bbq, and they just hand you a whole loaf of cheap white bread, no other options.

I knew it had to be Texas from the FM 1431" ... I was at Ft. Hood twice. Plus I have to drive all the way across Texas to get to Arizona (to visit friends & National Parks).

And what is bbq (BBQ or barbecue) (and what ain't) is a whole 'nother argument. Hell, you can't even get people to agree on how to spell it.

441:

@ 438: Perhaps a Heuristically-programmed ALgorithm?

442:

And what is bbq (BBQ or barbecue) (and what ain't) is a whole 'nother argument.

BBQ is what you get at Mike Anderson's or Sonny Bryan's in Dallas, TX.

Any other answer you may hear from poorly informed responders is simply incorrect.

443:

Pigeon @ 381: Harbler: an amalgam of Harga and Dibbler.

Ok, but what are "Harga" and "Dibbler"?

Now I must ask you in return: what is Russian dressing, since I guess you don't mean Putin putting his clothes on? And how does Jewish corned beef differ from the usual stuff that grows with a metallic rind on it and you twist the stalk to get it off?"

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

The only difference I know is in this case "Jewish" probably means "Kosher" (i.e. corned beef produced in accordance with Orthodox Jewish dietary laws), particularly as practiced UPSTATE New York.

444:

Texas and Louisiana are in a hair-pulling, eye-gouging free-for-all fight in the middle of the street arguing about whose BBQ is better while Georgia stands back, aghast that they are competing so vociferously to merely come second in the BBQ standings.

Chili, on the other hand...

447:

David L @ 406:

the Thanksgiving Turkey on the table in front of the entire family

Is this a thing in the UK or were you just using imagery from around the world?

For me that always conjures up the image of Norman Rockwell's "Freedom From Want" painting that he did to illustrate FDR's "Four Freedoms".

The other three are "Freedom of Speech", "Freedom of Worship" and "Freedom from Fear".

448:

@435:

Absolutely, Coffee was very much a luxury for the elite at the time, but dont forget that the so-called Enlightenment was entirely about the elite gentry. Women and poor people not so much.

449:

@ 438: Perhaps a Heuristically-programmed ALgorithm?

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

450:

According to Tom Standage, A History of the World in Six Glasses, coffee as served in the coffee houses was an absolutely vile drink. It was prepared and drunk the way it was because of licensing laws that didn't make sense.

451:

But I'd go further...any civilization living in small enclosed artificial areas surrounded by an inhospitable environment (e.g., Mars, Antarctica, Sub-sea communities, etc.) will need to be controlling.

Hong Kong city has a population density of 6,300 people per square kilometre according to online sources. It's one of the most densely populated locations in the world. It cannot support itself in terms of fresh water, food, energy etc. and is surrounded generally by an inhospitable environment (the sea on one side, an unfriendly government on the other). If even a little of the support infrastructure provided by the Chinese government went away there would be mass deaths within a few days.

I am going from memory here and we have a commentator who actually lives there so I stand to be corrected but -- AIUI the terms of the 99-year lease arranged by the British Government with the then-Chinese government (at gunboat-point, as was usual for those times) was for Britain to control the area called the New Territories adjacent to Hong Kong which provided Hong Kong with its fresh water, some agricultural capabilities and the like. Hong Kong itself was not part of the deal, like places such as Gibraltar it was a British Overseas Territory (see discussion previously about the island chains in the Indian Ocean where the US has leased an airbase on Diego Garcia from the UK).

Before the lease expired and the New Territories reverted to Chinese control the British government negotiated a return of Hong Kong to the mainland government under conditions of partial self-determination for the residents. This benefited the Chinese who could use Hong Kong as a outwards-facing freeport of sorts and saved face for the British as well as reducing the chances of a large exodus of refugees with British passports. Hong Kong is, under the terms of that arrangement, part of China though and not an independent state, no more than Washington DC is despite its peculiar Constitutional condition.

It's now been over twenty years since the New Territories lease expired and the arrangements were put in place and mainland China has changed in many ways, economically speaking. The old men in Beijing may well think it's time for a new arrangement, to integrate Hong Kong more closely into the nation it belongs to. China has a history stretching back thousands of years of dealing with rebel provinces and it doesn't usually work out well for the rebels.

452:

LAvery @ 442:

"And what is bbq (BBQ or barbecue) (and what ain't) is a whole 'nother argument."

BBQ is what you get at Mike Anderson's or Sonny Bryan's in Dallas, TX.

Any other answer you may hear from poorly informed responders is simply incorrect.

Pfffffffffft! The ability to correctly prepare barbecue, to appreciate barbecue or even know what barbecue is, is inversely proportional to one's distance from the intersection of highways US-64 and US-301.

453:

That was good. But it contributed to the ongoing bloat of my too-rapidly-growing reading list.

454:

Sounds like you’re probably in possession of at least one book written by my father. Maybe several since he ghostwrote a lot for “bigger names “.
He worked at the tiger bay works when I was born and then moved to Crewe to boss the place. My childhood trainset was British Rail and supposedly I did over 60,000 miles before I was 3. Quite a lot behind steam. Obviously my childhood consisted largely of visiting steam railways and traction engine rallies.
Oh, and the chip shop owners were Chinese but the older daughter was so like totally California Girl...

455:

Past 300 and half again so a derail of the derail might be forgivably interesting, especially regarding herbicide resistance:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2019-12-02/glyphosate-resistance-metabolism-based-found-in-barnyard-plant/11740574

When I studied pest resurgence I didn’t really look at herbicides, but I wonder whether there is a risk of resurgence dynamic here (or anyway with glyphosate). .

456:

Respectfully suggest JBS really just needs to read Pratchett. So many background references here will just fly over the head of anyone who hasn’t. Start with Guards, Guards! and move through that arc first, for a shortcut to these vendors and their offerings.

457:

The problem with "controlling," in the authoritarian sense, is that both authoritarian leader and authoritarian followers seem to be crap at solving complex problems that require a lot of people to work together for the common good, and the leaders are rather worse than their followers, at least in one limited study. (cf: Altemeyer's Authoritarians).

That said, there's a difference between top-down control and a high degree of systemization, and I think the latter may be what you're aiming for. The best analogy for an asteroid settlement isn't Hong Kong, it's Tikopia or one of the other little Pacific islands that were settled in the last 2000 years. The better-off ones (Marshall Islands, Kiribati) do tend to settle into authoritarian states, but the more marginal ones do not. As with a space station, it takes a tremendous amount of knowledge, skill, and people skills to live on a barren little island with a fairly impoverished reef system. Conversely, it takes a rather more luxurious and more forgiving ecosystem (like the much larger systems of atolls in the above-named archipelagos) to support even one family of authoritarian leaders, since to a first approximation said leaders are resource parasites, especially if they insist on conspicuous consumption and monopolized violence to maintain themselves in power.

458:

Before you can do that you're going to have to locate a certifiably "normal" person to ask.

Seen looong ago:
################
The good thing about living in the Washington DC area is that you can go to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and meet one of the US Standard Reasonable Persons. Privately, she told me she hates those calibration runs where they find out what makes her panic. She prefers the tests where she acts in a prudent manner.

On my next trip to Belgium, I hope to meet the ISO "Personne Raisonable."
#################

459:

Are you sure that they're not a Californian with multiple personalities, who thinks they're an uneducated Midwestern Mormon working for the CIA, pretending to be a Russian bot, pretending to be a well educated Russian? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Internet_dog.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

460:

Well I might deliberately conflate this version of authoritarianism with competition and suggest a reversal of a conventional wisdom. Competition isn’t effective under conditions of scarcity because it is inherently wasteful[1]. This carries a worrying suggestion that conditions of abundance are a precursor to competitiveness and authoritarianism, that eliminating scarcity does not have the Banksian effect but rather its opposite.

We know from studies of inequality that relative disadvantage is a higher stressor than absolute scarcity. And there are multiple levels where things work differently. It isn’t simple, but there are worrying implications.

[1] If this is contentious, I’ll expand separately.

461:

I'd rather expect it to be more like air traffic control. There's ATC that's nominally an absolute Dictator, but everyone wants that because it keeps them safe. The controller's job is to ensure safety and if they get it wrong they have a bit of a personal crisis and some training or they go do something else. The (sensible) pilots know ATC is their friend who helps, not a policeman looking to catch them out.

BTW, I wish Australian police were trained in that attitude... Police should be the grease that keeps society running smoothly for the benefit of all, not head crackers and bully boys.

462:

Police should be the grease that keeps society running smoothly for the benefit of all, not head crackers and bully boys.

That's two sides of the same coin.

If you're in the protected class police will facilitate whatever you want to do, and if you're not they will make sure you behave appropriately around members of the protected class. There are philosophical dreamlands where *everyone* is in the protected class, but since we've never seen one in practice it's not entirely clear how that would even work.

The Australien Government has an ad out explaining the benefits of their Quiet Australia Policy. It's worth watching.

463:

Jeff Bezos has set loose the Washington Post to harry El Cheeto Grande, much to my enjoyment. Not that I'm a fan of Bezos himself of Big River's business and personnel policies, but as a true multi-billionaire, he shrugs off the railings of a self-announced paper billionaire.

Why Jeff Bezos Bought The Washington Post (Stephanie Denning, Sep 19, 2018)
[Bezos:] “When I’m 90, it’s going to be one of the things I’m most proud of, that I took on the Washington Post and helped them through a very rough transition.”

Yeah, he's ruthless in business. (And I've ignored multiple pings (some apparently interesting) over the years from their recruiters because of their personnel policies reputation.)
This makes the "When I'm 90" comment believable.

---
_Moz_ at 413:
Enjoyed that "Vavilovian mimicry" piece. Still messing with it, playing with mixing the metaphors even more.

464:

This morning I went to ride to work and discovered that the filters on my pollution mask have solidified overnight. They're not just dirty any more, they're actual blocks of concrete.

Sadly the local supplier has a next-week shipping policy (I ordered and paid for a replacement 8 days ago, it's not here yet), so I have ordered a cheap copy from China and I fear that will arrive first. My local bike shop doesn't sell them and my usual bike shop has nothing from Respro left in stock and the supplier is also out. I am probably going to end up at the local big box hardware place paying $100 for a less convenient version, just to get me through the next week or so of biking in the smog.

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