fivemack

fivemack

  • Commented on Constitutional crisis ahoy!
    If Europe had a continent-wide social insurance fund, it would have continent-wide rules about when you could claim from it. Greek public sector employees -- Greece has had a really vigorous clientelism problem again since the Ottomans, it was reinstated...
  • Commented on Constitutional crisis ahoy!
    Greece's tax rates are not particularly restricted by the EU; the problem with Greek taxation is a ubiquitous (that is, by anyone paid much over minimum wage) and long-lived (that is, at least since Greece was an Ottoman province) culture...
  • Commented on Clickbait spasm: 14 gizmos I used in 2015
    Oh, and a power brick. Not a particularly exciting power brick (PowerZen 16000mAh), but being able to decouple 'find a power outlet' and 'charge your devices' is fantastically helpful when travelling, as is not having to make the choice between...
  • Commented on Clickbait spasm: 14 gizmos I used in 2015
    Specialist toy: iOptron SkyTracker. Medium-sized metal box, weighs about a kilo, fits on a standard tripod, keeps a 2kg camera+lens in sync with the rotation of the stars for ten minutes at a time. Lets you take plausible astrophotographs with...
  • Commented on Fantasy shibboleths
    _Between Flesh and Steel_ by Richard Gabriel (unfortunately a rather expensive hardback or a Kindle of the same price) looks a pretty decent history of military medicine, though doesn't seem to be all that filled with names. Makes the point...
  • Commented on Fantasy shibboleths
    One of the most impressively alien things I've read in years is Jared Diamond's _The World Until Yesterday_. Say what you like about _Guns, Germs and Steel_, I'm willing to believe an anthropologist with a focus on New Guinea when...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    My parents have been to the China-Mongolia border a couple of times as tourists. There is a significant terraforming operation going on there - when the Gobi dust gets loose and blows away it is a pollution hazard in the...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    I have certainly seen reports in which Iraqi refugees are saying that the bit of Da'esh from which they fled had leadership containing former senior members of Saddam's intelligence apparatus. ( http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/04/baathists-behind-the-islamic-state.html and http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/islamic-state-files-show-structure-of-islamist-terror-group-a-1029274.html ) " Confiscated documents of former...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    "Additionally, most soldiers that I know are happy with the conviction of Sergeant Blackman RM after he murdered a wounded prisoner." That's good to know. I was quite alarmed to see (the reporting was very low-key, but http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34659199) dozens of...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    The big question is whether paying off the local elite is better than using your gunboats to become the local elite. It may be. The interesting time will be when we see the first anti-Chinese pogroms, and the first nationalisation-without-compensation...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    I imagine I could catch the 20:15 from Heathrow to Addis tonight and be married by Halloween. The aphrodisiac effect of "I have a million birr in the bank and an EU passport" is not to be sniffed at. The...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    Building and staffing hospitals is in some ways the straightforward thing to do. A hospital needs some money, some land, hiring a few dozen Chinese doctors willing to work overseas in a highly prestigious project at a good salary for...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    I'm a bit confused by an argument that Chinese investment in Ethiopia is primarily resource-driven - as far as I can see the main push has been to get Chinese heavy-industry companies to build the big new dams which will...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    There are many more Chinese people than Westerners who have both the skills required to run a general store, and a set of alternative prospects in life such that running the general store in Mwinilunga appears the most attractive option....
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    This ends up as the kind of question where the research required before you can think of answering it includes holing up in a hotel room in Chongqing watching CCTV-14 (Chinese state television's answer to CBeebies), notebook in hand, for...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    "Heck, if the first successful colony ships have a large Polynesian population then the majority of human planets will be nothing like Earth after a few centuries." Well yes - but, unless you start making assertions about Polynesians being natural...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    "Anglosphere" clearly isn't quite what I meant; there's a three-way distinction between Europeans going to countries to settle them and essentially overwrite the population that was there before (US, Australia, Argentina, the Caribbean though the settlement there was by imported...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is definitely a counterexample, thanks; as are Dilma Rousseff and Michelle Bachelet in South America. Hasina Wajed and Park Guen-Hye are female members of political dynasties; the idea that descendants of the monarch might be human despite their...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    The Arabs aren't terribly much more local to, say, Ghana than the Chinese are (Accra is only half as far from Riyadh as it is from Beijing), and the history of interactions between Arabs and black-Africans is long, horrible, and...
  • Commented on The Future Is Not American
    I think @notsam has quite an important point which is being a bit neglected in comments - that, despite significant effort, the idea that women are in all ways human is a good deal more solidly in place in the...
  • Commented on The Biggest Little SF Publisher you never heard of pulls on the jackboots
    Jason Sanford ran the Bookscan numbers on the novel nominees: The Goblin Emperor 1.8K The Dark Between the Stars 1.9K Lines of Departure 2.36K Ancillary Sword 8K Skin Game 94K (not a typo: Skin Game outsold The Goblin Emperor 50:1)...
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