Back to: Normal service will be resumed eventually | Forward to: Tentative hypothesis

Someone please sack the script-writers

I mean, please. I know events have moved from shoddy scriptwriting to self-parody in the past month, but yesterday 2019 completely jumped the shark.

Donald Trump self-incriminating for an impeachable offense live on TV wasn't totally implausible, once you get beyond the bizzaro universe competence inversion implied by putting a deeply stupid mobbed-up New York property spiv in the White House, like a Richard Condon satire gone to seed—but the faked-up Elizabeth Warren sex scandal was just taking the piss. (Including the secret love child she bore at age 69, and her supposed proficiency, as a dominatrix, to reduce a member of the US Marine Corps to blubbering jelly—presumably Wohl and Burkman are now seeking proof in the shape of the hush-money payout to the delivery stork.)

But the coup de grace was Microsoft announcing an Android phone.

No, go away: I refuse to believe that Hell has re-opened as a skating rink. This is just too silly for words.

Someone is now going to tell me that I lapsed into a coma last October 3rd and it is now April 1st, 2020. In which case, it's a fair cop. But otherwise, I'm out of explanations. All I can come up with is, when they switched on the Large Hadron Collider they assured us that it wasn't going to create quantum black holes and eat the Earth from the inside out; but evidently it's been pushing us further and further out into a low-probability sheaf of universes somewhere in the Everett Wheeler manifold, and any moment now a white rabbit is going to hop past my office door wailing "goodness me, I'm late!"

481 Comments

| Leave a comment
1:

Speaking of the scriptwriters and Richard Condon, I'm pretty sure they have read (and are borderline-plagiarizing) two novels in particular; The Manchurian Candidate, and Prizzi's Glory (the third book in the Prizzi trilogy that began with the much-better-known "Prizzi's Honor").

I just hopw for everyone's sake that they haven't also read and strip-mined the plot of The Whisper of the Axe.

2:

Microsoft doing Android is merely the next step after Microsoft doing Linux.

3:

The most impressive thing about the Warren 'sex scandal' was her tweet where she went 'Go Cougars', referring to her alma mater. That's a beautiful sense of humour there.

4:

Her secret love child is 37 years old now, and Warren is not over 100 -- it supposedly happened while she was dean at wherever-it-was.

As I pointed out on Twitter: one of the new Surface devices runs Android, but the other runs Windows 10. I feel much better knowing that.

5:

Gate kind of spilled it when he said there is only room for 2 major phone OS's. Apple has the high end and Android the mass market.

And with enterprises screaming at MS to better deal with all the iPhones[1] the execs have in their pockets they made a decision to go with their own Android. Now the question is will all of those execs and mid level managers say "OK, I'll switch to a MS Android and trash my personal life setup with all of my extended family."

We'll see.

I expect unprecedented push back by users at all levels to IT saying "This is our new standard. Suck it up."

[1] While Windows and MS Office are waaaaaaaaay better at integrating with both major mobile OS's things are still a major PITA in so many ways. So so so many ways.

6:

I expect unprecedented push back by users at all levels to IT saying "This is our new standard. Suck it up."

And the iPhone-toting dudes tend to go all the way to the "Change the standards, I'm the one signing your paychecks" capability, so the probability of survival of such a policy is near zero.

7:

"I expect unprecedented push back by users at all levels to IT saying "This is our new standard. Suck it up."

We already get this with Outlook. One employee accidentally linked her personal address book with her business one (getting it wiped when she gets a new phone) then suddenly you can't use your iPhone Mail program to check your work email, it has to be the stupid Outlook app.

On a brighter note, fastest thing to stop me checking my work email....

8:

Microsoft has already been creating pretty good, and very deeply integrated Android apps: using your Windows device as a second screen for the phone, the Office suite, and a competitor to IFTTT whose name I've forgotten. Actually making an Android phone was probably pretty easy.

Oh and "The Everett Wheeler Manifold" is the name of my next band.

9:

The mind boggles. I wonder what next week's installment will bring? And what our local loon will do to get the limelight back?

10:

No Charlie, it's *not* April 1st 2020.
It's the End; you're in Tipplerania. This is number #5698576464574548765 of {NaN} reruns.

11:

I refuse to believe that Hell has re-opened as a skating rink
Well, according to the only person to have gone there ... it has.
{ The amazing SF work "The Divine Comedy" of course }
Try this image

Yup, Machurian Candidate

May I repeat a link posted by Dave the Proc in the "Case Nightmare Blonde" thread?
Here it is declaring, clearly, why BOZO is facing both ways & lying (twice) & trying to do mutually-incompatible things.
"Boggles" doesn' even begin to describe it.
Maybe I'll go with your Everett-Wheeler interpetation, as it make as much sense as anything, anything at all ...

12:

Microsoft has already been creating pretty good, and very deeply integrated Android apps:

Ditto on the iOS side. And the Mac Office dev team is doing awesome things.

But as someone else alluded to, trying to deal with an "office" Outlook contact list and a "personal" iOS list is a disaster. Actually it gives most disasters a good name.

13:

I was also feeling lost and confused, but then Marco Rubio was a spineless piece of shit, and that was like a lighthouse that brought me home. (https://twitter.com/JasonOverstreet/status/1180185703289778176)


Every day I see a headline that looks like it was tailor made to be shown against ominous music in a history documentary 20 years from now.

The way Boris is treating Parliament in the UK makes me think that even if Brexit is achieved, the UK will not survive as it is currently constituted: Scotland will bolt for the door, NI only a whisker ahead.

Meanwhile, the United States is going to be in denial about our civil war. I think it's coming. I don't see us getting off this path soon. I think that it will start during the next Democratic administration, and that the Democrats will deny that it is happening for as long as possible.

14:

My gut feeling about Surface Thing is this:

1. It's a lot cheaper to build a dual-touchscreen phone than a phone with the fancy foldable OLED thing that Samsung is trying to market. For one thing, you can use cheaper display elements plus hinges (and run them edge-to-edge); for another thing, less risk of the "fold" damaging the optics.

2. This means that it'll be easier for the low-end Android phone manufacturers to clone in.

3. It's being trailed a year ahead of the ship date, along with a whole new API to let apps take advantage of the dual screen nature. This is deliberate, to encourage third-party app vendors to get on the Microsoft API bandwagon.

4. Note that what killed Windows Phone wasn't the devices, but the lack of a viable app ecosystem. By running Android, MS will make an end run around this; and by encouraging third parties to plug into their API, they'll effectively embrace and extend the Android ecosystem as a whole.

5. Microsoft will take a bit of the high end of the phone market, but what this is really about is encouraging clone makers to build devices that run Microsoft's APIs, which will eventually amount to a Microsoft-owned fork of Android.

6. If it fails ... it's a Microsoft Phone, and a whole bunch of corporates will jump on board on principle because they already understand Android and MS is a whole lot more IT department friendly than Google (whose target is the consumer, because they're in the business of pushing ads at the public). So worst case is that Microsoft get a pin-stripe wearing, small but profitable, niche market.

15:

I'm sensing I may be in a minority here (yes, this is a major understatement 😉), but the Microsoft Android phone announcement was a big disappointment.

When I started in my industry (s/w and h/w dev for broadcast video/audio in the early '90s) the workstations at my lab were Sun and Sony (NEWS) - both Unix. I had early betas of Linux running at home. But the next few projects used Windows (had to use Japanese Windows for Workgroups 3.1 on one, which was a challenge - error dialogs in Kanji anyone?). And since then mostly Windows, though back into CentOS and Ubuntu for some things lately.

So as a result I've also used Windows on phones for a long time - from WinMo 6.5, through to Windows 10 Mobile, my 950XL is on the final straight now though. End of support in December, and a lot of apps gradually dying off. Which annoys me - the last few years have seen it mature into an 'it just works' OS. Slick, integrates with all the stuff I need it to, and I have a number of non techy friends I've recommended it to who have all loved it. Oh, and pretty much zero malware (yes, I know that's partly because of it being niche but also good design of their store, and Android seems like the wild west in this respect from what I've seen)

iOS isn't for me (or for that matter pretty much anything Apple), so next phone will have to be Android powered, let's see what the Google Pixel 4 looks like in a few weeks.

Totally agree on Charlie's points above though, I have a feeling that when it arrives next Christmas Santa might be bringing me one 😁

16:

... the UK will not survive as it is currently constituted: Scotland will bolt for the door, NI only a whisker ahead

You know what's really bonkers? Recent polls suggest that Welsh independence is up for grabs at this point! Apparently Wales voted 52/48 for Brexit, but it was carried on the votes of older English folks who'd bought retirement homes in rural Wales. Subtract the incomers, and Wales was roughly 52/48 against Brexit. And now support for independence is polling around 30%. Which is higher than it was in Scotland at the start of the 2014 independence referendum campaign. And Wales gets a disproportionate amount of EU regional development aid.

I have no idea where this is going, but it seems likely to me that Boris is receiving a short, sharp lesson in why he shouldn't have neglected his homework ... and either the Tory party will disintegrate, or the UK will.

17:

Meanwhile, the United States is going to be in denial about our civil war.

Obligatory re-read: "Random Acts of Senseless Violence" by Jack Womack (which I believe may be getting a reissue from Tor).

18:

Hey Charlie, you forgot the part where this is a plot by descendants of the Kaiser Wilhelm to finally defeat Perfidious Albion so the now-reunited German people can complete their military conquest of Europe!

20:

The Womack is a great read, but I don't want to live it.
I went on a Condon binge a few years ago, looks like I missed a few.

21:

There's been so much chatter about red/blue "civil war" in the US in the last few weeks that I wondered what that might look like geographically. So I dragged out my cartogram software and the county-level election data from 2016 and produced this:

http://www.mcain6925.com/etc/counties_2016.png

In the upper map, counties in the 48 contiguous states are color-coded blue for Clinton getting more votes, red for Trump, and no indication of how close the counts might have been. Yellow outlines show states.

In the lower map, the size of the counties have been scaled to reflect the total number of votes cast. The state outlines are so distorted as to be practically useless. I am struck by how consistently the Republicans have been squeezed out of the urban and dense suburban areas.

22:

Meanwhile, allow me to say this: Nancy Pelosi is the reincarnation of Eris on Earth--it doesnt matter how old she is, or what she looks like, or how closely her voice resembles a monotone--she possesses an inner essence that is inherently sexual, and this drives conservatives crazy.

She is, in other words, a powerful woman.

23:

It's the Illuminati working to destroy your faith in reality so that you turn away and they can do what they want.

Oh, and they're greedy and fairly stupid about a variety of things. But still.

24:

they're greedy
Selfishness is weakness.


25:

Someone please sack the script-writers
What, you don't find these episodes amusing? (I do, TBH. Easily amused.)
Or, the scriptwriters are amusing themselves while doing serious work, and their humor is not human.

A. Petri has been in good form this week.
A guide to the stages of Trump denial (Alexandra Petri, October 4, 2019)
Next came the finger-pointing phase during which you tried to insist it was someone else who had really done something wrong. You developed a set of slippery scales during this time, while your spine lost most of its original shape. You sprouted gills and sank into the mud and buried yourself in it. It made some of your suits fit oddly. But you got through it, didn’t you? You kind of loved the wonderful, cool mud in which you found yourself. It was your new home.
Then, at last, you discovered your courage. You found suddenly you could say or do anything. This is the feeling of the principle leaving the body. You found yourself saying that even if it were newsworthy (which it was not), what the president did was a very brave and good thing to do, that the real story was the Democrats who did a much milder version of it previously (then, it was still bad). The real story here is the people who are trying to take down the president. The president was right to do what he did. Also, he smells wonderful.

26:

I also loved the idea that her physically breaking a Marine wasn't a huge endorsement of her strength as a candidate.

27:

“I am struck by how consistently the Republicans have been squeezed out of the urban and dense suburban areas”

Remember this isn’t a map of “conservatism” so much as “voted for Trump in 2016” and while they are related, the thing that we’ve been shown elsewhere correlates most closely with voting for Trump is racism. Cities, beyond simply having higher population density, end up being necessarily a bit cosmopolitan, at least compared to small town USA. Cities also make people’s mutual interdependence much more plain. That interdependence is no less true out of the city, but people who live with more space around them can apparently pretend that they are independent, could fend for themselves if it came down to it they’re just not choosing to at the moment and so on*. City life makes this self-delusion impossible.

This isn’t to say there are no racists in cities. But in cities the majority of people need to understand certain facts of life, otherwise it just doesn’t work at all. It isn’t so much “squeezing out”, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. More a sort of selective pressure. People who are inclined to be conservative anyway just don’t like cities very much, probably at least in part for these reasons.

That’s an interesting map anyway. Had to put it up next to google maps to understand what’s happening in Arizona and New Mexico (even after Breaking Bad, and after spending some of my 20s thinking the place I really wanted to go study was the Santa Fe Institute). The band of blue across Alabama, Georgia and S. Carolina is interesting, as is the band that goes up the Mississippi and terminates at, roughly, Memphis. I know there are some big cities in those bands, but I would not have expected them to be so continuous. It can’t all just be conurbation, right? Like where you expect to see a big blue spot for Dallas, there’s actually just one county and that’s probably the poor end of Forth Worth.

The thing that is still a bit bewildering is the sheer number of counties in the South and Mid-West. I don’t know enough about the population densities in those areas, but surely some would have to represent, like, 2-3 people...

* Historical precedent, of course, shows that people are no worse at fending for themselves in an urban setting than they are in a rural one, including growing food.

28:

I am struck by how consistently the Republicans have been squeezed out of the urban and dense suburban areas.

That's self-selection at work. As a dyed in the wool urbanite I can tell you we're not driving conservatives out, so much as they throw shrieking hissy fits and run for the hills every time they're asked to extend their empathy just a little bit further.

29:
The band of blue across Alabama, Georgia and S. Carolina is interesting, as is the band that goes up the Mississippi and terminates at, roughly, Memphis. I know there are some big cities in those bands, but I would not have expected them to be so continuous. It can’t all just be conurbation, right?

That's the black belt.

30:

[Elizabeth Warren’s] supposed proficiency, as a dominatrix, to reduce a member of the US Marine Corps to blubbering jelly...

Waiting for Rule 34 to kick in.

31:

Other places, like the lower Rio Grande valley, have a lot of Hispanic/Latinx voters.

Having lived in a rural area, which is now deep deep red my experience is that people tend to vote for the same party label their parents (or grandparents) did, even though the party is nothing like what it was when their parents were younger. My mother described it as "My granddaddy burned his stubble, and my daddy burned his stubble, and if it was good enough for them, then it's good enough for me" - when the co-op extension people are trying to teach them that stubble-burning doesn't kill pests and turning a small herd of cattle into the field will be much better.

32:

Lack of education is the factor that appears to correlate most strongly with ethno-centrism (see Mutz and Manfield's study as an example). So one could infer that rather than conservatives fleeing to the country, it's the difference in educational opportunity that creates a divide between the two. To illustrate the point with an example from life, I grew up in the country and, as I was not smart enough to get a scholarship, the only way I could afford to get a tertiary degree was to join the military.

Here's the link to the study by Mansfield and Mutz.

https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818309090158



33:

Any second now there's going to be a deep fake turn up on a porn channel. Interesting times.

34:

Yes, group identification trumps all. :)

Mostly unstated by commentators and analysts but the best predictor for how people voted in 2016 was simply how they voted in 2012. One study found that (totally unsurprisingly) 92% of those surveyed who voted for Obama in 2012 also voted for Clinton in 2016. That makes explaining the remaining variance in voter preferences a challenging exercise.

35:

“That's the black belt.”

Cool, figured it would have to be something like that.

I should probably expand that my point about cities requiring co-operative behaviour. It isn’t that conservatives run away from this (though I’m sure some do), it’s that it’s harder to retain conservative values in a context where they are obviously anti-social and the assumptions they require one to make, either in terms of individualism or in terms of stereotypes about Other groups, are obviously wrong and shown to be in unignorable ways on a daily basis. Which means that living in cities can make people stop being conservatives. It’s hard to cling to a stereotype when you live among counterexamples.

Yes I’m conflating some things, no I’m not interested in talking about Not All Conservatives, that ship already sailed.

36:

I totally agree that education is also a strong influence regards both racism and conservative values (where these are regarded as different things). In some ways you can partly reject the idea that the formal knowledge transfer is the main factor, since this would depends heavily on what you study, and you probably won’t be as influenced by astrophysics as by anthropology, though of course people who are interested in astrophysics are less likely to be racist or conservative in the first place. But the influence of setting is similar to the influence of urban living: you study alongside a pretty cosmopolitan group, you see that academic achievement and ability is not generally related to stereotypes and you simply gain more first hand experience interacting with your Other groups. I imagine the military providers similar opportunities, but the social experience is fundamentally broken on purpose for @reasons.

Military education still has a lot of advantages - one of the best English departments in Australia is the one at the Australian Defence Force Academy, though I suppose it’s the only one not heavily razored over the last couple of decades. A relatively recent former head of the Australian Defence Force, General David Morrison (as far as I know, no relation to the current PM), went so far as to publish a reading list covering a range of knowledge he expected officers to be across. It’s a pretty good list.

37:

I thought about mentioning Wales but then I thought no, no, surely not. Don't over-egg the custard.

38:

@ 21 onwards ..
PLEASE remember, that for US "conservative" read: "Mad reactionary fascist bastard"
Unfortunately, the Conservatives here seem to have fissured ( fissioned? ) completely & the ruling faction is following the "lead" of thei US relatives.

Damian @ 35
Oh dear ... got to be done:

I am the very model of a modern Major-General
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights
historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters
mathematical
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news
With many cheerful facts about the square of the
hypotenuse
With many cheerful facts about the square of the
hypotenuse
With many cheerful facts about the square of the
hypotenuse
With many cheerful facts about the square of the
hypotepotenuse
I'm very good at integral and differential calculus
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
I am the very model of a modern Major-General
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral
He is the very model of a modern Major-General ....

Etc ...

39:

Greg, you might find this satire from the 80s entertaining. The piece relates to the the McClelland commission of inquiry into British nuclear testing at Maralinga, in South Australia, and uses G&S as the underlying body of work to rip off shamelessly. The bit I’m thinking of is at about 6:50 starting from “call the deceased”, and could loosely be headed “I am the very model of a Commonwealth Prime Minister”. But the whole thing is sort of fun, particularly the James “Diamond Jim” McClelland introduction. I don’t think the wandering minstrel stands up to hindsight scrutiny very well, I guess there really was a lot of blackface on television still in the 80s, some even at least ostensibly well intentioned.

40:

Greg @ 37 - More HMS Pinafore and 'When I was a Lad' :)

I guess my partial explanation (and opinion) of the current craziness on is that there's been an ongoing shift in western societies since the 70's and we've just hit the rapid phase change point. This change is driven mostly by the transition in advanced (western) countries to an information technology economy, some by globalisation and has resulted in a strongly bifurcated labour class of winners and losers. This leaves traditional parties floundering because what 'the people' believe and want doesn't actually line up neatly according to the old left-right list of concerns.

That's why the Tories will likely self destruct if they can't deliver Brexit, it's why Australia's Labour was (narrowly) defeated in the last election and why the Democrats could be bound for electoral defeat if they don't actually recognise that they have to win the electoral college. To survive they'll all have to reinvent themselves. I suspect that's exactly what BJ* is in the process of doing with (or to) the Tories even as we speak.

*Freely admit he could also be a blithering idiot.

41:

Meh. While racism predicts Trump voting well...

It may also be true that rural living is more conducive to conservatism than urban living. This is partially because the notion of pure self-sufficiency simply does not work in urban environments. (Homelessness comes much faster when constrained by the supply of housing.)

But, it is also likely because most governmental functions scale poorly with distance. (As a girl from school, ages ago, told me. Well, when some hobo came by and tried to rob us, we could have waited a few hours for the police. On the other hand, she had a rifle.) (And, in my hometown, keeping people out of the sheep was more challenging than you'd hope, on many levels.)

And also because, as a hopefully distant relative told me - all the smart young folks move away to the big city. (Nice enough man, just a bit disconcerting to find out that you share genetics with the after picture of a Renfield.). So, the rural regions tend to be left with the elderly and the incapable.

@33 I'd guess that differences in voting behavior can be partially attributed to misogyny, primarily in the Democratic party. There is a fraction of the Democratic party that is much more skeptical of voting for a woman than a man - which lowered turnout. There was also a slightly intriguing study that found that there was a significant subset of white liberals strongly persuaded by racist appeals. Logically, there is not a real reason that racism and liberal economics are necessarily inconsistent. There is an anticorrelation, but probably because empathy is predictive.

42:

“On the other hand, she had a rifle”

The capacity to take individual initiative including for self-defence isn’t a specifically conservative trait. It’s just mythologised as one, and certain circles have a strange fetish about it.

Rural areas are in fact quite dependent of a range of forms of collective action anyway. I think there’s already a problem with summarising that as “government”. There are locally based organisations for which the description is totally inaccurate, and there are organisations where a local branch handles local matters and maybe funding is organised centrally, whether or not by the state, and there are local representatives of arms of the state, which is probably what you mean by government. In practice rural communities require these all to work pretty much seamlessly together to just function in the general sense. The myth about rugged individuals extracting economic value from wilderness as an exercise of discipline and will is laughable and most communities there is a name for people who actually behave that way: thieves.

Self-sufficiency, on the other hand, tends to work better where there are more people available to contribute to making things work. Doing it as a rugged individual doesn’t typically work.

43:
4. Note that what killed Windows Phone wasn't the devices, but the lack of a viable app ecosystem. By running Android, MS will make an end run around this; and by encouraging third parties to plug into their API, they'll effectively embrace and extend the Android ecosystem as a whole.

They also have a much more well thought out hardware and service ecosystems now - as well as the more traditional app stuff. The Surface hardware is really rather nice and I see it in many of the same places I saw Mac laptops five years back. O365 is hard to beat for breadth of functionality for the price (if not necessarily quality throughout :–).

On the hardware side the phone/phablet space is the only real area where they don't have their own device — outside the all-the-CPU-cycles-you-can-eat hole the new Mac Pro sits in.

I've fully embedded in the Apple ecosystem ATM — but if I was gonna jump MS is more attractive to me than Google ATM.

44:

Yep. The best study to date I've seen on 2016 voting patterns was that done by Diana Mutz, her conclusion was that it was predominantly dominant group status threat (not economic hardship) that determined the 2016 outcome. Diana points out this reading is still consistent with other authors interpretations that emphasised race, gender or religion.

The key point is not that Trump has magically tapped into some deep vein of pre-existing misogyny (or racism) but that when a dominant group feel their place in the sun is threatened they tend to act badly. How else explain how nation that voted for Obama twice turns around and votes for his complete antithesis?

Looking at the rolling Woke-SJW Auto-da-fé that is the Democratic nomination process I kind of think they haven't got this...

Link. Status threat, not economic hardship, explains the 2016 presidential vote.
Link. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1718155115

45:

outside the all-the-CPU-cycles-you-can-eat hole the new Mac Pro sits in.

The new Mac Pro is the last even-remotely-mass-market UNIX workstation standing. Yes, Oracle will still sell you Sun kit. And if you are made out of platinum bullion, I suppose HP will sell you something with a Cray logo on the side; there may also be other workstations hanging on in niches—but modern GPUs have decoupled raw graphics performance from CPU-dependency, and the old ecosystems like SGI have dried up and blown away. These days you just use a PC with a stonking great GPU and good displays to render the output from a supercomputer cluster somewhere ... unless you want it all in one box, in which case Apple have your back (and your wallet).

46:

I maintain that the current farce is also clear proof that we do live in a simulation. The server is running out of space, so it defaulted to making two major NPCs using the same skin and hoped that we wouldn't notice.

47:

Rural areas are in fact quite dependent of a range of forms of collective action anyway. I think there’s already a problem with summarising that as “government”. ... The myth about rugged individuals extracting economic value from wilderness as an exercise of discipline and will is laughable ...

Self-sufficiency, on the other hand, tends to work better where there are more people available to contribute to making things work. Doing it as a rugged individual doesn’t typically work.

As someone who grew up on the edge of rural USA with relatives still operating medium sized farms I can see a lot of their thinking. In my widely extended family I'd say 3/4s went the college STEM or somewhat route. We had to move away for the most part. The jobs were just not there. Those left grew up farming 23/7/365. If you needed help there was no "ring up the local office of..." It was check with your friends and see if they could come over. And in most cases there was/is 100 years or more of family/friendly ties that operated to share work in busy times like harvesting.

Those on farms without too many animals could make arrangements for some folks to stop by twice a day for feeding and such. But ask a dairy farmer about time off and they'll either roll on the floor laughing or toss you through the door with extreme force. "What is this weeks of yearly vacation thing you speak of? We're planning a trip in 10 years."

My father talked about milking cows and having to keep his head against the flank or one who had a habit of kicking the pail over. Our neighbor talks of running to the barn barefoot for morning milkings as he didn't want to mess up his only pair of shoes. (30s US) So in winters first thing in the morning he'd put a board on top of the heat stove and run with it in to the barn so he could stand on it at least on the way there when his feet got cold. The joke (only partially) was once you got to the barn there were plenty of piles to keep your feet warm.

And I have more stories. And yes I believe them as I remember things like replacing an outhouse in my grandmothers house in 65.

My point is most of the people in this world have no concept of urban life. To them it is an alien world. TV only makes it worse. They just can't comprehend these people and how they elevate such trivial issues to important maters in their lives. And for some/many going off to college just makes them want to run back home and live a simpler life.

To them the urban issues that result in someone dialing 911 and have the police/fire/ambulance show up in minutes is just something they don't comprehend.

So they tend to look down on such uban wimps. Even if they don't say it out loud.

48:

The new Mac Pro is the last even-remotely-mass-market UNIX workstation standing.

And even at that, old-time UNIX coders will find a disturbing number of problems. X Windows is now a third-party add-on. Apple has "improved" things by putting important stuff in different places. The stock Tcl/Tk leaks memory like a sieve. An inconvenient number of CPAN Perl modules, or the underlying C-language libraries, won't build. Python 2 support ends in a bit over two months, but there's still no Python 3 in the standard kit.

MacPorts is a godsend. My next box will probably run Linux. Unless I finish getting addicted to Scrivener.

49:

Not entirely. There are more geeks, and people who have tame geeks, than you imply by that - and a high proportion of us run Linux workstations, and sometimes BSD or some other Unixoid system. We are no longer talking about a small minority, and are definitely talking about MANY more than Sun or HP supply. But, as far as COTS kit, ready to run, goes, I agree that Apple is the last - and it's not all that Unixoid.

50:

Without looking at current prices/devices, I'd guess that anyone with a couple-thousand dollars could build a Linux workstation with 64-128 gigs of memory, possibly with more than one processor if they went the AMD route.

I'm typing this in Firefox on a Ubuntu Box running XFCE which I built 2-3 years ago for around 900. 8 gigs of memory and a 1 gig graphics card. I think it will run two monitors at once if I'm so inclined.

51:

X11 dates to 1984; it's over a third of a century old, and no other windowing system of that vintage is still in use. Indeed, its client/server model has arguably been replaced by REST/Web 2.0, not to mention everything else having a better way to do shit like that.

The stock Apple scripting utils like Tcl/TK and Perl are ... well, Apple doesn't update them because (a) not invented here, and (b) the poison pill in the GPL 3 license. Best to roll your own, using MacPorts or similar (I use Brew instead, these days).

52:

My point is most of the people in this world have no concept of urban life. To them it is an alien world. … So they tend to look down on such uban wimps. Even if they don't say it out loud.

The worldwide figures were about 55% urban a couple of years ago, with the urban percentage going up. In the US only 1/5 of the population live in a rural setting. Canada is a bit more urbanized than the US. So most people are actually well-acquainted with urban life because it's their personal experience.

Rural people may think that they are ordinary folks and most people are like them, but the truth in North America is that they are a minority — and that's true even when you look at the entire world.

53:

On a more serious note, if I'm reading this right, US and UK cloud providers might (will?) soon (6 months in US) be subject to the worst of US and UK privacy laws.
For the picture of US Attorney General William P. Barr and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel:
UK and US sign landmark agreement to fast-track access to data from technology companies - US and British law enforcement agencies will be able to demand electronic data relating to terrorists, child sexual abusers and other serious criminals directly from technology firms based in either country. (Oct 4, 2019)

U.S. And UK Sign Landmark Cross-Border Data Access Agreement to Combat Criminals and Terrorists Online (Thursday, October 3, 2019)
Bold mine:
The United States and the United Kingdom entered into the world’s first ever CLOUD Act Agreement that will allow American and British law enforcement agencies, with appropriate authorization, to demand electronic data regarding serious crime, including terrorism, child sexual abuse, and cybercrime, directly from tech companies based in the other country, without legal barriers.
...
The Agreement was facilitated by the UK’s Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019, which received Royal Assent in February this year. The Agreement will enter into force following a six-month Congressional review period mandated by the CLOUD Act, and the related review by UK’s Parliament.

This is an executive aggrement under the US Cloud Act,
text of bill
Allowing things like this (bold mine because sovereignty is a big rhetorical deal in US "conservatism"):
It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a provider of electronic communication service to the public or remote computing service to intercept or disclose the contents of a wire or electronic communication in response to an order from a foreign government that is subject to an executive agreement that the Attorney General has determined and certified to Congress satisfies section 2523.”;
The Cloud Act appears to have protections for US persons against US law enforcement asking compliant other-government law enforcement for data access favours. Don't know about the reverse, and these inconvenient details tend to be violated at will.

54:

It's worth remembering that Clinton got three million more votes than the orange one. What gave him the win was about 77K votes in three states - a very small number that tipped the electoral college. He didn't win so much as slide in under rules that are at the state level.

55:

My paternal grandfather had a dairy for some years, in the 20s and 30s. He had actual milking machines - I've seen a photo of him in the barn, in his coveralls, with some of the cows (milking Shorthorns). My father claimed to have put together one of the machines with hand tools when he was in junior high - that would have been about 1930. (Yes, he became an engineer. A damned good one.)

56:

I'd guess that anyone with a couple-thousand dollars could build a Linux workstation with 64-128 gigs of memory, possibly with more than one processor if they went the AMD route.

It would take more than 2000 bucks to build a really serious workstation machine, especially if you needed high-end GPU/APU cards for machine-learning, AI development, maths etc. However AMD are eating Intel's lunch in the higher-end CPU bracket in terms of throughput as well as price -- the EPYC chip has 64 cores and costs 4000 bucks less than the top-end Xeon server chips with fewer cores, fewer PCIe channels, fewer memory channels etc. Apple are still committed to Intel for power processing and their preferred CPU supplier is struggling to get their sub-10nm process lines working properly.

Right now if you're building a high-throughput workstation to run whatever you want at a particular cost point, the CPU choice has got to be AMD (an $8,000 ThreadRipper 32-core box or a $5,000 high-end Ryzen if you can't spunk down 20,000 bucks for an EPYC-based solution).

57:

As I noted, I hadn't checked prices recently, but regardless, it looks cheaper than the Mac option by considerable.

58:

While I do believe that we are present (in an appropriate sense) in all instances of the EWG multiverse at this time slice, I don't think improbability is the explanation.

This is a PART of the run up to "the technological singularity" where the perceived universe is changing faster than people can adapt to it. But it's also important to note that things analogous to this in one way or another have happened repeatedly in the past. The chaotic inflow of information just amplifies things, and exposes more people to the chaotic stream. The really strong indicator that we're in a low probability region is that nuclear war hasn't (yet) broken out. But India and Pakistan may solve that problem, and global warming at the same time.

Thus being in a low probability region may be due to the observer effect: "If you're not \"alive\", you can't see it happening."

59:

While I don't run Linux much (R PI's mostly) I do run into folks doing so all the time. But my stats may be somewhat skewed by my location. Currently I'm sitting about 1 mile from Red Hat HQ.

60:

I, personally, don't think that there's any necessary racism inherent in blackface. People like to dress up as someone different, and people like to see others dressed up as someone different.

The problem is that dark is associated with the psychological "shadow", and thus the fearful, taboo, etc. This, at least according to some anthropological studies, is valid across racial and cultural lines. My guess is that it's because it's hard to see darker things in poor illumination, but that's just a guess.

Consider, e.g., the US radio show "Amos and Andy". The reason that the actors were white was that blacks couldn't be hired, but the reason blacks couldn't be hired wasn't because the "Amos" and "Andy" characters were played by whites. And the show enabled listeners to identify with the troubles of the two cab drivers in a sympathetic way. (It *was* a comedy, but so was "I Love Lucy".)

61:
Apple are still committed to Intel for power processing and their preferred CPU supplier is struggling to get their sub-10nm process lines working properly.

Apple went with Intel, instead of AMD, because AMD simply couldn't meet the expected demand. That hasn't changed, so I don't expect Apple to switch x86 sources. (I don't think they'll make their own x86 chips, either.)

62:

Not true that "anyone could build a box". I couldn't these days (no space AND out of practice).

OTOH, various vendors will sell you a decent box for a few thousand. For example: https://system76.com/desktops/thelio-major-r1/configure

Getting an AMD processor is more difficult, but that's the default on the link I gave above.

So building a box isn't available to "everyone", but buying one is cheap compared to what it used to be.

63:

System-76 is a little pricey. I'd guess you can get the same thing at Fry's for $1500-2000, particularly if you've got a case and CD/DVD to reuse.

I looked at mine in more detail. I've got 6 cores (12 threads) on an AMD FX-6300 that's good to 3500 Mhz, 8 gigs of DDR-1800 Ram, a 1-gig NVidia card and 2 terabytes of HD space.

This was just under 900 bucks in 2016. Nothing to write home about, but when I crank up Alien Arena I'm getting 60 frames a second.

64:

Nah. A thousand, tops. My current one cost less than that and it was fairly seriously high-end for its time (nearly a decade back) - 16 cores, 8 Gb, 3 x 0.5 Tb disks, a medium-end graphics cards and a FHD monitor. Nor does one need to be a hardware expert - I am not, and just ordered what I wanted.

65:

Looking at current prices, you can probably get the cheapest Threadripper plus a motherboard and cooling for around a thousand, then spend what you want on a hard drive, memory, monitor, etc. I suspect you get into real "workstation" territory around 3000 or so if you need to do proper science/engineering, edit video or do 3d rendering on the fly - still far better prices than what System-76 or Apple has available.

Which ultimately isn't saying much. Our cellphones have more processing power and memory than NASA used to put man on the moon.

66:

Yeah. That 1-2k price point really represents a middle-of-the-road gaming rig, and the pricing sweet spot is there because there is a huge market for that, including liquid cooling and high-clock-rate clicky keyboards. It’s possible to build some interesting and useful things using the components made for that market, but you have to remember it’s all very consumer driven, with the QA set accordingly.

The machine I built around 10 years ago specifically to be a home VM lab has lasted pretty well, it specs very similar to EC’s box and cost about the same, though I filled a largish chassis with cheap 1.5TB spinning disks, with the OS on a pair of SSDs. I found I the main workload ended up being video based motion detection, and I ended up taking that out of virtual and running it bare iron (or close to). The spinning disk volume had always been intended as a ZFS, so the easiest medium was to make the host OS Ubuntu anyway (OpenIndiana could have worked, but I worried about getting drivers for the consumer-grade gear... Linux is about as far as you can go once you start including a GPU). The first component to start complaining of anything like impending failure is the power supply fan, and I’ll get around to replacing the power supply one day (the interim period being the machine is just shut down). I’ve stopped doing software based motion detection, will rebuild the distributed system with more Pis and probably some sort of PIR breakout module, or alternatively just record everything, setting up the caching and archiving to minimise power.

Of course building a big robust storage volume always leads to the perennial problem, you end up making it the default backup archive for every other thing, then don’t have a practical way to back it itself up regularly. Z raid with a hot spare helps that a bit, but unless you also keep a couple of cold spares, but the time you experience a failure you probably can’t replace the disk with like for like. And that doesn’t help if the problem is actually fire or theft. The new thing is being able to get 40Mbps up to the cloud these days, and I just haven’t had time to think about what to do next.

67:

Re: Android

Okay - I'm not a techie so don't get why the hate-on for Android. Looking at global market share though shows that Android has over 75% share, Apple 22% and the rest less than 0.5% share (max, each). Next - Samsung has the largest slice of the Android mobile phone market right now. Huawei was closing in but the past year's international politics seems to have put a damper on their momentum. So my guess is that China is now calling the shots esp. for volume manufacturing in this sector, MSFT sees this, hence the Android announcement.

A question:

What's the pace of new high tech (in manufacturing) being passed on to cheaper (me-too) brands now vs. 10, 20, 30 years ago? Just wondering whether now that manufacturing is mostly concentrated in China (rather than dotted across the globe) if there's more/faster tech transfer going on.

68:

Administrative note

Please drop the chat over how to build your own workstation—or take it somewhere else. It's a conversational black hole, and a topic killer.

69:

No prob. On the subject of "Fire the Writers" Trump is now blaming the whole Ukraine thing on his energy secretary, Rick Perry, once described as “the candidate for you, if you found George W. Bush to be ‘too cerebral.’”

70:

Next steps for future bullshit:

Trump is attacking Mitt Romney for gently chiding him; he's calling for Romney to be impeached, although that is not a thing for Senators. He's clearly trying to keep the rest of them in line, but it's unclear how long he will be able to command their loyalty if a vote to remove him were to land before them as if by providence.

So there's actually a real chance that there's a vote to remove Trump, and that it passes, and what would be really delicious is if it was 50-50 and required Justice John Roberts to cast the tie-breaking vote (as I believe he would be called on to do for an impeachment vote; the VP doesn't get to vote on his boss' performance) and thus suck SCOTUS ever-deeper into the morass.

Alternatively Mitch keeps the grumbling down, and there either is no vote, or the vote fails. Then Trump will, somehow, find something even worse to do to the country in "retaliation" for what's been done to him. I don't know what form the reprisals would come in, but they'll be sure to be disgusting, featuring brand new lows.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, some of the protesters have declared a provisional government. So the moment of truth for human rights in the western Pacific has come, and where is America in this? Completely absent, consumed by our own mad king pageant. Whatever happens in Hong Kong, good or bad, we'll be merely bystanders, incapable of even credibly mustering a sanctions threat (because someone already hit the trade war button). I fear what that means for the measures Beijing may use to "restore order" to the city.

In steadier times, perhaps the UK could have stepped up to the plate as an international leader hoping to mediate relations between China and the former British colony; whoops! the UK is also dealing with a leadership crisis of the sort that's gonna get its own section in the history curriculum.

I have no idea what the world is going to look like in 2 years. No idea whatsoever. Honestly, I'm not even too sure what things will look like by the end of the month. If we even have an election next year, I think I'll write in for Vermin Supreme.

Ladies, Gentlemen, and other Assembled Friends: now is the time for wild speculation.

71:

Sun stopped making workstations before Oracle bought them.

72:

I think Windows Phone died for 3 reasons. As you mention, the app ecosystem was a problem. But putting the Phone UI onto every Windows 8 machines created a lot of anger, and that angry userbase wasn't inclined to take a look at a phone with the same hated UI even if it made sense on a phone touch screen. Finally, Microsoft totally failed in getting carrier support in the US.

As for Surface, I disagree. I don't think Surface Duo is meant to create a fork of Android, if it was then they wouldn't have said they were working with Google on it. While I don't believe it has been made clear, the implication was there won't be a MS API for the Duo as such but rather it will be included in base Android.

Given how open Microsoft has become, how much of their stuff is now open source, and how much of the open source ecosystem that MS participates in a fork of Android would go against everything that they have been doing for the last 4 or so years and likely hurt them.

73:

I suspect Boris and friends, much like those honest Conservatives who answered the poll questions during the leadership campaign, don't really care much about the UK. If they did they would be doing things much differently.

No, my guess is like the poll said if the choice is England and out of the EU vs UK and in the EU the Conservatives will choose England and out. Not only does it get them out of the hated EU, but it also gets rid of many of those pesky voters who don't vote Conservative.

74:

I posted about a podcast that discussed the population split and causes in the other thread, and the short version is that there is a set of feedback loops working to make cities more liberal, and because that is where the jobs are the corresponding feedback loop that makes rural areas more conservative as those (primarily white) people get left behind by the modern economy (because the more open people have left to get an education, and then permanently left to go where the jobs are).

It's not a uniquely US problem.

75:

"...So there's actually a real chance that there's a vote to remove Trump, and that it passes..."

Keep in mind that the Dems decision to begin impeachment hearings was never about removing Trump from office. It's about winning the next election. *That* may happen, it's starting to look more and more likely.

The Reps are caught in a bind by their own propaganda--having persuaded a majority of their core supporters that their is a Liberal/Dem conspiracy to deprive white conservatives of their freedom, and that only cultural war can save them, they can't be seen giving in before the enemy--it would destroy their only remaining source of public credibility.

Of course the donor class doesn't care, one way or another. They expect to win regardless of who comes out on top in Washington. They're playing a long game, and can afford to wait until the anti-Trump fervor on the left dies out (which it will, eventually).

I'm afraid that I just dont see a path for the HK protestors that leaves them in a winning condition. MC can't give them the independence or the democracy they seek, and no one is going to force them to.

76:

Fair enough.

I could have tail-ended my comment above with the fact that in the future, I’m more likely to get a Mac Pro than build anything myself. Partly that’s to do with use cases, of course.

77:

“So they tend to look down on such uban wimps. Even if they don't say it out loud.”

Yeah - that is the thing I was getting at when I said it was laughable. In practice, urban and rural life presents different challenges, but that sort of attitude is a kind of self delusion tied up with identity. It’s is equivalent to macho chest beating types talking up a lot of fight, who are nevertheless no match for the slight, fast guy who can get a knife between their ribs before they can lift their knuckles off the ground. Or who don’t realise you cut lumber more effectively with a chainsaw that you can lift comfortably rather than just taking the biggest one, and that you need to service it pretty often.

Dairying is a hard road, my grandfather did it for 40 years and really all it did was tie him down. I agree there are people who wear that stuff like some sort of badge, like doing that work makes them entitled to judge what other people do for work. These are people whose opinions in general, after a decently long life so far and a lot of experience of such things, I have never found have much to recommend them. You might spend a while listening to people just to make sure they feel listened to, but still their views on some topics are worse than useless in terms of helping you understand even what their real perspective is. Everyone wants their self-delusion to make them Napoleon, right? Isn’t racism mostly about wanting to feel superior to someone, anyone? Well the thing that people “catch” by living in cities is that smug superiority is just like a secure ward of people who all think they are Napoleon, who are all the boss.

78:

The mess in the US now has a suggested name: "Crackpot Dome".

(I'd like a tablet to run reader software on, but the other software I want to run uses Android. Damfino.)

79:

Rural areas can be pretty much current on technology though - the place to go for classes in Excel and the like was, for a long time, the local ag extension station, in my parents' area of west Texas. Early adopters of computers, cell phones, satellite dishes, CDs, VCRs and DVDs...

80:

"But the coup de grace was Microsoft announcing an Android phone.

No, go away: I refuse to believe that Hell has re-opened as a skating rink. This is just too silly for words."

This is an example of the phenomenon known as Evil Empire Evolution. First it was IBM, then it was Microsoft, now it's the Google/Apple/Facebook axis. It hasn't been Microsoft for quite a long time now...

"...further and further out into a low-probability sheaf of universes..."

Well, sort of; the problem is some fucker keeps trying to edit the past/jump it onto a different track. cf. She of Many Names making references to memory editing, which is what it can look like. It's happening with increasing frequency lately, but it's been going a lot longer than just lately; related phenomena/figures include the accession of Thatcher, the introduction and later extinction of yellow magnetic-backed coded tickets on the London Underground, Douglas Adams, Pink Floyd, the GW150 Limited, the union troubles at the BBC, and the Vet and all who came after.

81:

Well, sort of; the problem is some fucker keeps trying to edit the past/jump it onto a different track. cf.

Yeah, you could feel the evil in the air, both before Brexit and also before Trump's election. Something very nasty is hungry and it wants to be fed. There's no attempt to push us into another universe, just push us off the track we were on in 2015...

82:

Yeah. I’m not often given to making “me too” comments, but 79 and 80 sum up some of my thinking on this.

83:

I think Windows Phone died for 3 reasons. As you mention, the app ecosystem was a problem. But putting the Phone UI onto every Windows 8 machines created a lot of anger, and that angry userbase wasn't inclined to take a look at a phone with the same hated UI even if it made sense on a phone touch screen. Finally, Microsoft totally failed in getting carrier support in the US.

In addition to these, I think Nokia, and Elop, also had an effect. If I remember correctly, at the time, perhaps about 2010-2011, Nokia's Symbian smartphones had quite a share of the market. There was the Iphone, and also Android, but they were still not the only ones. It was quite obvious to many people working with the phones that Symbian was full of historical debt, and hard to develop for, and hard to improve the system itself.

Nokia had done a couple of "internet tablets" at the time, which were kind of like small versions of modern tablets. They looked like small, thick versions of modern smartphones, and without mobile phone capabilities, so wifi only. After a couple of those, they integrated a phone with that, and that was the N900. These used the Maemo operating system, based on Linux, and had at least a small community of developers doing even free software.

These had also hardware keyboards and were quite thick, even at the time. Nokia then continued developing the Maemo OS, which changed to Meego at some point, and of course was trying to release new devices. For various reasons this took time, and wasn't as smooth as somebody had thought, which is of course quite usual when developing a new device.

As mentioned, it was quite obvious to many people that the Symbian had to go, replaced with something more modern. Then Nokia decided to make new phones with the Windows Phone operating system. One of the problems with announcing this was that there were no Nokia Windows phones available for months. The Windows phones had I think market share of something like 3-4 percent, and I have the impression Nokia was supposed to increase that to a much larger number.

Now, this wasn't a good thing for Nokia, especially when Elop called Symbian 'crap' in an internal memo, which of course got leaked. At this point, the smartphones they were selling were either Symbian, or a clunky, still somewhat prototypish N900. Obviously the sales of Symbian stopped immediately, and even though the N9 (successor to the N900, and what should've been the first one of a line of Meego phones) was eagerly expected, the developers for that moved probably overnight to Android.

With the hindsight we have now, we can see that this wasn't a good decision. I think part of the Windows phone failure was that the previous Nokia customers, who were a good portion of smartphone users then, did move very quickly to other platforms when Nokia's CEO implicated that the Symbian phones are bad, and there is no new phone in almost a year.

I think there is no single reason why the Windows phones failed, but this is also something I think mattered in addition to the reasons you gave.

84:

Charles H @ 59
There is an awful, bitter row going on in the folk/morris community about this.
Because ... SOME sides undoubtedly borrowed form "nigger minstrels" BUT there is also the ancient tradition of "Guising" - so that the local constable can say to the Magistrates: "Honet y'onner, they was all blacked-=up & I couldn't recognise any on'em" ( Note the implicit local contract in there )
REcords go back to well before the "B&W minstrels" types ... As in:
Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire on Plough Monday, 11th January 1768. He wrote:
“Plow Monday. All the Boys in the Parish with Hurdy Gurdy’s, black’d faces, Bells and Plows.”

Which causes a LOT of problems.
Though some sides now use a mixture of Black / Brown or drak blue instead - look up "Boggarts Breakfast"

TW @ 80
Um, err ... now there's a nasty thought.
I wish you hadn't started that one, as I'm not sure the meme will go away

85:

Also, this was about the Windows 7 version, not the 8 which came later. However, it was apparently quite hard to increase the market share of Windows phones after that.

If Nokia had succeeded in moving users from Symbian to Windows phones things might have been different, but in my view Windows phones were too small a market when the perception was that the competition was between Iphone and Android.

I did like the Windows phones myself, I had a couple of them, but for example the decision to sell Here maps from Nokia and uninstall that map software didn't endear me to the phones...

86:

I had a Windows phone exactly once, and it was the first of two occasions I carried a work-provided mobile (the second was an iPhone). The device was a Palm Treo and I actually quite liked it, while not really agreeing to the need for a physical keyboard. I had previously been a Palm fan, I read a bunch of Baen novels on an earlier Palm device and used it a lot. I laughed like hell when I read the Stieg Larson trilogy, since I used to use a shell on my Palm with in IR link to a Nokia phone which could GPRS back in the day. Anyway as far as I could tell there was really nothing wrong with Windows Mobile (maybe there were some questionable design choices in the integration space, I mean WebDAV, really? But small cheese in retrospect).

MS going droid makes perfect sense to me. All the never-Apple MS fanboys I worked with ended up going droid eventually. I personally always quite liked MS products in general, but never particularly got along with the people who *really* liked them, much as the industry is sadly overflowing with such people (a bit like the relatives David L talks about upthread, so convinced about their particular worldview being superior).

87:

It occurred to me that the thing about Microsoft products works pretty well as a metaphor for Capitalism. I think it is a cool technology that can be used to achieve great things if handled thoughtfully. If you turn it into an ideology, however, it’s just a bit unfortunate.

88:

Rural areas can be pretty much current on technology though...

That's an interesting thing which I've noticed myself. Out in rural areas individual people are often very hip to whatever the latest thing is, particularly when it is relevant to something they want to do. (GPS in remote areas with poor road signs? Hell yeah. Ham radio gear to keep in touch with the world from the Alaskan bush? Yes, decades ago.) This contrasts greatly with the cultural stereotypes, sometimes accepted by people living there, of rural populations being very conservative about everything. Cultural conservatism slows adoption of new attitudes and customs but does not noticeably slow acceptance of new tools.

89:

...what would be really delicious is if it was 50-50 and required Justice John Roberts to cast the tie-breaking vote (as I believe he would be called on to do for an impeachment vote...

Conviction in the Senate requires 67 votes (two-thirds majority). The presiding officer (Chief Justice Roberts) does not vote. Not going to happen unless the House inquiry finds something much worse than has come to light thus far.

90:

Palm dropped the ball badly, circa 2004-08, when it was glaringly obvious they needed to replace their original 68K-based (then ported to ARM) operating system. They made repeated false starts, then spun out their OS development arm ... and just as they needed it in-house as a strategic asset it was snapped up by a Chinese phone vendor. Meanwhile, the competition (originally Symbian) wasn't standing still, and then the iPhone and Android came along to eat their lunch.

Which was a crying shame; the Treo form factor was the best designed smartphone of the mid-00s, if what you wanted was a soap-bar sized device that you could type, do email, and surf the web on. (I loved my Treo 600 and then 650, despite the stub aerial.) They actually paid attention to the ergonomics, and the OS itself felt a bit like classic MacOS (circa MacOS 6.x). Knocked anything running Symbian into a cocked hat, unless you had the solid gold wallet to buy a Nokia Communicator.

Although what we're really missing is the trouser-leg of time in which David Potter didn't get cancer, so Psion didn't chicken out in the face of Microaoft's "Project Jupiter" vapourware and kept on going, and their colour EPOC/32 smartphone debuted in 2002/03, followed by a Nokia Communicator rival based on the Psion Series 5, only with an external keypad and display for dialing/phone use. Something like this, only by 2005 ...

91:

PEvans: Rural areas can be pretty much current on technology though...

This contrasts greatly with the cultural stereotypes, sometimes accepted by people living there, of rural populations being very conservative about everything.

And it also contrasts with the self-reliant stereotype, because that fancy technology wouldn't be there without cities. Likewise for 'traditional' tool like pickup trucks, combine harvesters, gas and electricity (very few rural areas are off-grid)…

If rural areas in Ontario were truly 'free' of those looked-down-on cities — such as being a separate province responsible for their own schools, hospitals, and roads — they would be unpleasantly surprised. Rather like those Brexit supporters who expect an independent Britain to keep their EU subsidies coming…

92:

Still - there is a difference. In the cities, the utility to income scale is a lot steeper and broader. Going to a minimum wage job is roughly equivalent to homelessness. So, the safety net needs to be much stronger than it is.

In rural areas, not so much. It isn't probably a qualitative difference, but I'd guess that rural areas will always be more skeptical of fiddly government interventions. (On the other hand, direct cash grants do work.). And, yes, there are myths of self-sufficiency, but there are also pragmatic differences.

In terms of the trousers of time, dunno, I think the Microsoft thing was predictable - sufficient evil actually is bad for business. So, they'd need to get someone in to be less evil. Weird, but not unexpected. For the US, the beige dictatorship has been around forever. The orange guy probably represents a breaking of the consensus. For the UK, it just seems so foolish. Maybe have a referendum, but spell out, in advance, that it will only be exploratory and that there will be a second referendum. Feels like someone is jogging the dice.

93:

Pols vs. polls

I get the feeling mostly from media reports of public opinion polls that the electorate and their elected representatives are growing farther and farther apart wrt to what's most important in their relationship, i.e., career/making money, raising the kids, where to invest their retirement savings, spend money on staying healthy or take your chances that you won't need expensive medical intervention in the future, etc. Looked at like a marriage, this relationship desperately needs counseling. Indeed, some Pols have become so far removed from/deaf to their significant others (electorate) that a divorce is the only sensible option.

Here's some polling history on Brexit:

https://whatukthinks.org/eu/

In the US, the polls still show an evenly divided population.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/do-americans-support-impeaching-president-trump/

Biggest hurdle (IMO) to getting DT impeached is getting two-thirds of the Senate to vote for impeachment. Could be done if the secret ballot were allowed in the Senate; it isn't. The closest to a secret vote is the 'division vote'*. Because politics in the US has become 'my party, right or wrong', if the Senate votes impeachment, the grass roots party members will probably find ways to rationalize --- same as always. [GOP-ers are authoritarians: they'll believe whatever you tell them to believe.]

Wikipedia:

'A division vote (taken by having each side stand) is rare in the Senate, but may be requested by any senator or ordered by the presiding officer if the outcome of the voice vote is doubtful.[24] Like the voice vote, a division does not provide a record of how each senator voted. The chair announces the result of a division vote. As in a voice vote, any senator may ask for a recorded vote.[24]'

Same issues seem to exist in the UK: because each Pol's vote is recorded and there would be hell to pay if you broke party ranks, the official party line (no matter how stupid/obsolete) gets toed. Personal political career cost of breaking party ranks is directly proportional to the age of the party which explains why so few Tories cross the floor.

94:

"Rather like those Brexit supporters who expect an independent Britain to keep their EU subsidies coming…"

The British equivalent of "The gubmint better keep its hands off my Medicare."

95:

short version is that there is a set of feedback loops working to make cities more liberal, and because that is where the jobs are the corresponding feedback loop that makes rural areas more conservative as those (primarily white) people get left behind by the modern economy (because the more open people have left to get an education, and then permanently left to go where the jobs are).

Then you have those of us in mid sized cities where tech is booming, people moving in, housing very tight so prices have tripled or more in 5 years for the "good stuff", etc... And the old guard is fighting to the death to force the 20-40 year olds to live a life from 1965-1975.

It is getting ugly. Our local elections are next week and while not stated this is the hidden meaning behind every candidate.

96:

For a bit of contrarian exposition here.

Those dairy farmers and their kin really get fed up being told by many in the cities and urban areas that they are stupid. Especially by some of the more vacuous minds that dominate the media at times. All the time use the product of their "stupid" labor.

It does not help things AT ALL. Tends to create some of those attitudes folks hate to hear from them.

I still have memories of my cousins from the big city of Detroit visiting and keep asking us to "speak hillbilly".[1] Then in later years asking why we didn't keep in touch much.

Oh, yeah toss in a big dose of "you should move to a modern city like we did".

Glad we didn't go to Detroit.

[1] I grew up in far western KY. The mountains were an 8 hour drive east at a minimum. The Mississippi River only an hour or so west. But we did warsh our clothes, much to the hysterical laughter of our citified cousins. And my father was one of the production line managers of a nuclear fuel plant. After growing up on a working farm in the 30s. And we lived less than 2 miles from that farm.

97:

Well, there's also no inherent racism in wearing white robes with conical hats that cover your face except for eye holes. Given the history of the US, I'd still not recommend to wear it to a fancy dress party.

98:

When in that House MPs divide,
If they've a brain and cerebellum, too,
They have to leave that brain outside,
And vote just as their leaders tell 'em to.

99:

Charlie @ 89
Meanwhile their "successors" are supposedly bringing out a folding-with-keyboard palmtop, operating on 'droid, any minute ( I think pre-production & even some 1st-production versions are now out.
Cosmo Communicator?

100:

Dunno though - don't underestimate the effect of having people wearing MAGA hats tell your kids to go back to Africa, or assorted country. To some extent, the jokes they hear are a lot friendlier than the underlying assessment.

I try to remember that we are human and just getting through life. It helps. That said, ending the ophoid epidemic isn't really a top priority in my book. I'd prefer treating the synthetic heroin addicts the same way we've treated minorities in the past until someone actually changes the law and organizes an amnesty.

I dunno - some part of the beige dictatorship might be seen as a very cold civil war. Next steps are automating trucking and call centers. After that, perhaps reducing farm subsidies. Solar has real advantages too, in reducing coal consumption. And electric cars are wonderful - hardly any moving parts - so significant layoffs.

On one hand, Democratic policies might help. On the other hand, Democratic policies might help the people voting against them. I still favor them, but it is a bit of a consolation.

I'd also argue the Democratic politicians should just drop gun control - leave it to the states. Essentially, the people who are being killed are mostly the ones buying the guns and their loved ones. Sometimes people get to live their choices.

101:

I no longer live near a Frys, and most people don't. System76 sells systems by mail, so they're available nearly anywhere. (Also, it's been decades since I could drive, which also limits my choices.)

That said, if money is more your constraint than availability, you can usually either build, or find someone to build, they system you desire at a lower price. The problem is avoiding Intel.

102:

Sort of off topic but was Computer Shopper a thing in the UK or Europe back in the day?

In the US for a long time it was an INCH THICK or more bound tabloid sized ad that you could buy. Everyone who sold anything computer related had an ad in it. Most of them 1/12 of a page. or less.

Totally destroyed by the Internet.

103:

As to why we only have 2 phone OS options these days.

After Jobs did his thing with the big unveil six month before it shipped.

- Android chief (Rubin) told his team to rethink. They survived.

- Blackberry heads said no one would want it and kept going. Till they ran off the cliff.

- Nokia couldn't figure out what to do and bounced around with all kinds of stuff till MS blew them up.

And others.

104:

What turned small-pocket-computers with integral wireless networking into the mass-market fad they are today is the apps that run on them. The Palm series and Blackberries didn't have the extra computing capabilities, storage etc. to do much more than the software they came with out of the box, ditto for the Symbian-series Nokias. Their platform OSes weren't expandable to cope with ten to a hundred times the computing power, fifty times the storage, five times better displays plus all the other things that the smartphone revolution squeezed into that slim Zombiefier you see in everyone's hands today as they stumble unthinkingly into traffic, off bridges, down open manholes etc.

The other half of the equation, that made the smartphone the thing it is today is ubiquitous data network connections and again that just wasn't there back when Palm ruled the roost and Blackberry was the phone for the businessman-on-the-go (and his secretary too if she was travelling with him). The iPhone's AMAZING 100kb/s-over-EDGE was a game-changer, assuming you were in one of the limited locations that had it.

105:

I try to remember that we are human and just getting through life. It helps. That said, ending the ophoid epidemic isn't really a top priority in my book. I'd prefer treating the synthetic heroin addicts the same way we've treated minorities in the past until someone actually changes the law and organizes an amnesty.

Actually, I'd treat the synthetic opioid epidemic under two rubrics:
1. public health emergency, and
B> One MoFo of am appropriate payback for the Opium Wars, considering that China's currently supplying a majority of the carfentanil and fentanyl to the US.

With regard to 1, there's no use demonizing the opioid abusers. Yeah they're drug addicts, but they're also victims of a war we started most of 200 years ago. Worse, their gateway drugs are (the legal opioids) are coming straight from doctors' offices and pharmacies. The problem is that the fentanyls are both cheaper and more potent, so it's more profitable for dealers to make fake oxycontin pills out of fentanyl or carfentanyl, and if they get the dose wrong, they kill their buyers. That's the scary thing, is that carfentanyl is so potent that screwing up with it kills you very, very, rapidly. This isn't even theoretically a moral failing like becoming alcoholic, this is a get a wrong pill and die problem. Villainizing people who ingest or who are addicted does nothing to solve it.

With regard to 2, I'll bet you don't remember how the British East India Company began opium from their new India colony into China as a way to pay for the massive quantity of tea they were drinking? Per Wikipedia this accounted for 16% of company revenues in 1818. In the 1820s and 1830s, the US entered the trade, despite repeated bans by the Chinese emperor. At this point the Chinese had the largest economy in the world.

In 1839, the Chinese emperor, having been ignored by Queen Vickie, ordered all the opium in China seized. The British responded with military force, and the treaty of Nanking ceded them Hong Kong.

The first Opium War sparked the Taiping Rebellion, perhaps the largest civil war in human history in terms of deaths, and the Chinese economy certainly was NOT the biggest in the world by the time this mess went down. There was also the Second Opium War, which the Chinese also lost, forcing them to pay reparations to the western powers who'd beat them and legalized the opium trade in China.

Compared with what the Chinese suffered for opium in the 19th Century ...and compared with what the Indians, Pakistanis, and Afghanis suffered in the 19th Century as the British Empire consolidated its hold on South Asia opium production...And considering the misery that Afghanistan especially has experienced since then (and thinking about Kashmir and all the other instability left in the wake of the British Empire being a sore loser in the Game of Empire)...

Well, I'd say that treating the opioid crisis in the US and other western countries as a health crisis really is the sanest thing we can do. None of us can afford to go to war again, paybacks are a motherfracker, and people are dying. Do you really need to lash out still more.

***Note to Charlie or any author: feel free to do a cyberpunk-inflected reverse opium war, with the US in place of Qing China and the aggressor countries retaliating for centuries of fucked up imperial US and UK drug policy by forcing the US whatever's left of the UK to legalize the import of an endlessly shifting constellation of designer drugs.

106:

Well I’m going to drop the topic because is isn’t really going anywhere either, but you are increasingly lecturing someone who literally (partly) grew up on a dairy farm about how dairy farmers are sick of being called stupid. My contrary point is that to stop being called stupid, the easiest way is to stop saying stupid things. Just in case, to be clear I’m not saying that you are saying stupid things, just that where people declare a chip like this on their shoulder, it’s usually not totally unearned.

West Kentucky looks, by Australian standards, like commuting distance to Nashville, St Louis or Louisville. So the actual disctinction between “rural” and “exurb” or small-town-dormitory-burb is really quite blurry. I think people elsewhere have commented that a lot of what the USA calls “rural” or “small town” is really what everywhere else just calls the burbs. My grandfather’s farm is commuting distance to Brisbane, and the area is transitioning. It used to be rural, but is increasingly burbs. Highways and electric trains, power (since the 60s at least!) and even town water in most properties now.

107:

I'll bet you don't remember how the British East India Company began opium from their new India colony into China as a way to pay for the massive quantity of tea they were drinking?

In the few 1960-vintage British history books I read when younger, somehow the European invasions came across as 'protection of honest merchants from treacherous foreigners' — glossing over what the merchants were selling, and the fact that it was the 'foreigners' own country where this was taking place. Don't think they were called "Opium Wars" either. No idea how it is presented in school now (if indeed it is). It was a bit of a shock to discover, in my 20s, that the West had collectively been drug pushers in China.

When I was in China a decade ago, memory of the invasions was still fresh. I had a taxi driver get red-in-the-face angry about what the Americans did during the Eight Power Invasion (thinking I was an American) — glad I was able to get him to understand I was jianada-ren (and thank-you Dr. Bethune for that). What would the modern equivalent of stabling horses in one of the most important temples in the country be?

108:

What would the modern equivalent of stabling horses in one of the most important temples in the country be? In the US? Turning the New York Stock Exchange into a migrant intake center and adjacent Wall Street properties into squats. Before they get abandoned due to rising sea levels.

For those who don't know, the Eight Power Invasion is known better in the west as the Boxer Rebellion. Ironically, any of the better-known kung fu styles (at least better known in the West) root back to around this time.

I discovered the history of the Opium Wars even later, and I'm still shocked. Addiction and forced dependency are some of the bigger forces in both imperialism and colonialism.

109:

he OS itself felt a bit like classic MacOS (circa MacOS 6.x)

Yes, that was my experience too and part of the reason I liked my first Palm so much (the second, work issued Treo ran Windows Mobile). Even the slightly dinky script input language mechanism was useful, didn't feel "transitionary", but was a viable third way to enter text (I used it to drive a shell as well as just take notes). This would probably have been around 2003, the B&W model I had was already called a Palm Classic or something along those lines, much like the Mac Classic a decade or so before (9" and 2-bit B&W, not greyscale). It was well thought through and useful in the sense of getting out of the way, you didn't have to invent workarounds for any day-to-day activities. I later did have to invent such workarounds for Windows Mobile on the Treo, but that really *was* a transitionary device, physical keyboards in that size and form factor were always going to give way to something. This new MS device, the two screen clamshell, is just taking it full circle in an odd, right-angles-to-reality way.

110:

Well I’m going to drop the topic because is isn’t really going anywhere either, but you are increasingly lecturing someone who literally (partly) grew up on a dairy farm about how dairy farmers are sick of being called stupid. My contrary point is that to stop being called stupid, the easiest way is to stop saying stupid things. Just in case, to be clear I’m not saying that you are saying stupid things, just that where people declare a chip like this on their shoulder, it’s usually not totally unearned.

I disagree. In ratios. Yes there are stupid ones. but there are also hard working people who get fed up being called stupid due to their location of birth and where they live, NOT what they do.

So lets skip dairy farmers. My grandfather and his wife had a business for decades driving a panel truck around the area (100 mile radius or more) delivering merchandise to general stores. K-Mart and better roads killed that off. Thank goodness. These were NOT stupid people saying stupid things but were being called stupid buy their "urban betters".

West Kentucky looks, by Australian standards, like commuting distance to Nashville, St Louis or Louisville.

Until 1980 or so it was at least 4 hours to get from Paducah to anywhere bigger such as what you list. Now it is down to a bit over 2 hours to get to Nashville. (Less if you fly low.) More to the other places. And if not in Paducah add an hour or two to get to a major road. This is not flat desert/prairie. Rolling hills, creeks, etc.. that make for lots of non straight roads first laid out in the 1800s. Lots of little towns with 4 way stops. And so on. I did recently meet ONE guy who commuted from the south side of Bowling Green KY to the Nashville airport and that was over a 1 hour commute. Sorry but it just dog doesn't hunt.

Yes you can get from W. Ky to somewhere larger for a day trip. But a commute, no way.

111:

In rural areas you have to drive 10 or 20 miles to get to a post office or a grocery store. If the weather's bad, you may not be able to get out to do that kind of thing. (It's even worse if you're having to deal with a medical problem.)
That kind of thing pretty much kills any "self-sufficient" claims.

112:

Grandpa (and his sisters and cousins) grew up in northeastern KY - it's a long commute to anywhere, but it's possible to live in that area and work in, say, Morehead. The area is just west of Daniel Boone National Forest, and not (technically) in Appalachia, but it isn't wealthy. They all moved west between 1900 and 1920 - some of the aunts and uncles had left before 1870. (One of the cousins became a college professor, teaching engineering and vocational ed - but not in KY. Another became a doctor and medical professor in Louisville.)

113:

And on other important fronts.

The US will impose tariffs of 25% on Irish and Scotch whiskies.

And also 10% tariffs on Airbus planes.

Debate rages as to which will be more disruptive to life in the US.

And on a serious side, this is getting to be just plain stupid. Well really got to be a long while back.

114:

"In ratios. Yes there are stupid ones. but there are also hard working people who get fed up being called stupid"

This is where we are in one of those arguments about categorical generalisations. You basically just repeated my point. I'm not saying that all people in a certain place (or following a particular lifestyle or way of making a living) are stupid either. If some hypothetical people somewhere are doing that (and I'm sure there are), that's beyond my control and basically nothing to do with me.

The categorical argument is where someone says "some X are Y", in some cases even specifically saying this because there has been a proposition that "no X are Y" or "all X are not Y", and they are raising a counter-example. Then someone interprets this as saying that "all X are Y" and in turn refuting this proposition with a counterexample X that is not Y. I am not (really I thought quite obviously not, but there you go) saying that all rural people are stupid (betcha someone takes that specific phrase out of context as a summary of what I'm saying!). Going back to the original theme, that living in a city makes holding certain kinds of self-delusions more difficult, I would suggest this does not preclude the idea that people might find other reasons to forgo those self-delusions. I also said separately this doesn't make people leave the city so much as make people who live in the city less conservative.

I *am* saying that I think for someone who promotes certain values and in particular demonstrates a preference for suspicion and ill-treatment of people who are different to them, this counts against them in term of any assessment of their cognitive abilities. si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses, and all that. Of course, bewilderingly, they will interpret this as an attack on their free speech. The obvious answer to "I can't say what I think without someone calling me stupid" is "Then stop talking!".

Personally, having something of a rural background myself, I find the suggestion that all rural people are conservative (that is, intolerant of difference, acting out the rugged individualism fantasy, possessive and hyper-masculine) a bit offensive and maybe that's where you are coming from too. But to me that comes mostly from conservatives themselves, who put a sort of idealised frame around these things because they think they demonstrate some sort of honest simplicity (rather than a sophisticated ideological framework largely crafted anew and promoted via conservative media over the last 30-40 years). Coming from the bush, I am pissed off when people claim that gay people are not welcome in the bush, for instance, as though they are saying something good. Yet people get elected on platforms that go like that so go figure.

2 hours is a totally acceptable commute range here. I have worked in Brisbane with someone who commuted from the little town my grandfather retired to in the 80s, which isn't much less than that (maybe 1 hour 40 mins) by car, and around 2 hours if you get the train. People I work with now commute from similar distances (mostly by train, but some drive). It's something I've considered, if possible by train, because it gives you up to four hours a day private study time (podcast and audiobook time if you have to drive).

115:

That kind of thing pretty much kills any "self-sufficient" claims.

That's got to be the most impressively barefaced non sequitur in this thread so far!

116:

Put it this way, then: Damned few people in west Texas are self-sufficient, no matter what they want others to think. I don't think many people *anywhere* in the Plains states are - it's just not hospitable to that kind of life.
It's dry (annual rainfall less than 50cm), it's cold in the winter and hot in the summer, and there are storms that can blow you away - if hail doesn't flatten you. (East of 100W, it's somewhat easier - more rain, less snow and ice. But you get floods.) Your garden may not grow, your fruit trees may not bear, and there might not be grass enough to feed any livestock you might have.
And the towns are *still* not going to be close by, especially those with doctors and hospitals.

117:

I'm in the US. Regarding possible civil disorder, my thought is, for that to happen nationally, there would need to be some broadly held issue or objective, and some way to choose up the sides.

We have had past outbreaks of rioting, based on racial tensions, but the current angst involves whites (maybe even whites with money?). Superficially the division falls along party affiliation. But as per "beige dictatorship" and US political apathy, even a stolen election (2020 or 2000?) may not make people late for dinner.

Up thread someone pointed to the urban/rural divide. Rioting over crop price supports? If you are going to lose your farm, this might make lots of sense, but there are not many farmers.

Point being, well-fed well-entertained middle class white folks don't seem like dry tinder, even those who (like myself) earn a bit less every year. The desperation and opiate use in the rural US, I just read about. Has there ever been an actual post industrial class-based dissaccommodation? (That red-haired scamp!)

118:

Gotcha - thought you may be saying something quite different. I totally agree.

It has a lot of interesting parallels in (or isomorphisms with) general thermodynamics: patterns of homeostasis, systems with measurable inputs and outputs, network effects, entropic losses. The bell tolls for thee and all that.

119:

Rather than generally stupid people, there are a lot who are generally fairly intelligent, but there are one or two subjects on which they have made up their minds (or more likely their minds have been made up for them) and they are grimly determined not to be confused by mere facts.

There are some such on this blog. You know who I mean, and you might even be right.

Now if the main topics of interaction with outsiders involve such subjects, the people concerned are going to appear rather more stupid than they generally are.

I doubt there's any easy resolution of this.

J Homes.

120:

Every theory about electoral results espoused is probably true for someone, or a group of someones. Just don't expect to explain more than 1% of results with your pet theory.

I can tell you that in solid Red States many people choose a party so they can vote in its primary, not necessarily because they like that party or vote with them in the general election. That can also mean they have two opportunities to display biases, and different balances can result each time.

For instance a retired white lady might choose to vote for a slightly less conservative, younger Republican in the primary, then find she has to choose between someone she has seen way too many unfavorable news stories about or someone on the other side who she finds personally repugnant, who she voted against in the primary. If she has a longstanding belief that her friends would never vote for a woman, and then some late breaking news cements her unfavorable view, she might vote for Mr. Repugnant, or stay away from the polls, or just not vote for President.

She may be suburban, upper middle class, educated and liberal and still end up feeding into the Trump machine, even if she was never on FB (but of course she was).

Of course now she's horrified, and time has wiped her 2016 decision making process from her mind. But what to do? Just hope no one poisons the D candidate before the election? Protest? She's in a red state, remember. Everyone watches Fox, and her FB feed is still a mess of trolls and bots and algorithms.

121:

“2 hours is a totally acceptable commute range here. I have worked in Brisbane with someone who commuted from the little town my grandfather retired to in the 80s, which isn't much less than that (maybe 1 hour 40 mins) by car, and around 2 hours if you get the train. People I work with now commute from similar distances (mostly by train, but some drive). It's something I've considered, if possible by train, because it gives you up to four hours a day private study time (podcast and audiobook time if you have to drive).”

Two hours each way is not “totally acceptable” it’s an extreme hardship. And this is from someone who has done it for years up and down the SF peninsula. You talk of shit you know nothing about. Try it, it will burn you out.

You also can’t “commute from Paducah to Nashville” in 2 hours, you are looking at more like two and a half during commute hours assuming weather or accidents or highway construction doesn’t fuck you

From someone who has lived in every city discussed this is simply not a thing that happens in those areas except in very rare occasions. Outside of the east and west coasts, 2 hour commutes are seen as ludicrous and not even considered as an option

Not to mention since the economies are pretty shit in all of them there isn’t much reason to drive around from one to the other

122:

There are a couple of problems that may be less than obvious:

--One is the endorsement battle. As I've learned now that I've gotten dragged kicking and screaming into local politics, there ARE limits on campaign donations from individuals. There ARE NOT limits on campaign donations to parties, and there ARE NOT limits on what parties can donate to endorsed candidates. Even an endorsement from a committee of a party (the labor committee, the environment committee, the progressive committee, etc.) counts.

The result is that there are fierce fights for party endorsements that where very few people participate in deciding who gets funded. Since the local parties are basically money laundering operations (the description of an insider, not my own), once they get the endorsement, the cash spigots open, and they become much harder to unseat.

--The other is the problem with partisan primaries, such as we have for the President. People sign up which party they belong to, or "decline to state" (aka the Independents. There is a very conservative American Independent Party, and some decline-to-staters have found themselves stuck with a rather scary choice of candidates because they didn't read the fine print on their voter registration). Anyway, the "decline to state" crowd gets no vote in partisan primaries, so the only chance they have to influence the outcome of the election is the final vote.

This is a big problem for the Presidential election, because the rabid partisans choose the candidate through their primaries, but the people who generally make the difference in the election are the independents who didn't vote in the primaries. This is used to justify spending upwards of a billion per frontrunner on ad buys to get to these independents (it's probably wasted money, election-wise, but the media sure love the infusion).

--Oh yeah, and then there's California, which for state elections now has a nonpartisan election, where the two top vote-getters of any party in the primary go to the general election. There's been a lot of gnashing of teeth, but the real result, so far, seems to be a decoupling of party and donations. Developers and other businesscritters who normally donate to the Republicans have proved perfectly willing to donate to the Democrats, with similar outcomes.

The lesson there is that the problem isn't that one party is corrupt, but that money does corrupt the process. Dealing with THAT is a big issue. But to do that, you've got to get involved in the party (which for most people is like being asked to fix a leaking sewer pipe from the inside, I know. Remember what I said about kicking and screaming?)

123:

Outside of the east and west coasts, 2 hour commutes are seen as ludicrous and not even considered as an option

You know, places exist that don't fall into either of the categories you have in mind here. But point. I'm not saying that isn't a hard choice, and sure, I know very little about these areas, I'm aware they are probably rougher than I allowed for and a 2 hour driving commute isn't something I'd be willing to commit to in the longer term. Even doing it by train would be good in specific circumstances for a limited period.

When my grandfather was dying I was up at his place 2-3 times a week for a year or so, and that was hard enough (burned out a clutch in the middle of nowhere in that time). But the lady I worked with who commuted from the same place didn't see that as hardship so much as a lifestyle choice, apparently liked the drive if not the road (it's pretty shit). The last time I took my grandfather anyplace, which was a hospital visit to sign off on his state-supplied oxygen equipment, the grassy verges on the overpass to get to his town were on fire (bit frightening with the internal atmosphere in the car relatively rich in O2). Co-incidentally, my wife just told me that same valley is on fire now.

Anyhow, yeah you're right I've really got no idea how it works out for you. I remember a James McMurtry song from the 80s about Cape Girardeau, and now have it stuck in my head.

124:

Yep, I work with a guy who drives 90 minutes or so each way every day. Does not work office hours to avoid peak traffic and that's what gets it down to 90 minutes. I don't understand it myself, the only way I'd do it would be on the train working on my laptop. 3 hours on the train, 5 hours in the office... not ideal but I can live with that.

Note that in dense parts of the country many farmers hate seeing productive farmland turned into lawns and houses, and feel that doing so should be a crime. But many are also aware that land tax ("rates" in Australia) is the primary tool used to drive farmers off their land and that's a battle farmers have never won.

There's also the "rural atmosphere", which I remind people I meet who want to move to the country is a mix of chicken poo, diesel exhaust and 3am spraying. My feeling is that there should never be a way for anyone to object to a pre-existing land use, even if the exact thing they don't like is new. Viz, move in next to a farm and when they start using robots to weed crops at night... tough shit.

As far as farmers and holidays etc, too many farmers see themselves as price takers and that damages their ability to do anything new. The flip side is that many see "keep owning my land" as the most important thing, sometimes more important than living. Which is not something I understand because many (most) of that sort also hold onto the land by any means necessary including completely wrecking the land (salt pan production in many parts of Australia, soil mining virtually everywhere).

My experience was of family who deliberately chose farming setups that let them have holidays because the other way brings madness. We declared bankruptcy and walked away, which to many farmers is anathema... that's possibly the "real divide" :)

125:

Bit like people who move in next to a music venue, then start making noise complaints when, after a few months of lounge punk, a properly loud band does a gig there. A version of "why we can't have nice things".

126:

...
People moving to the countryside ... in a village & complaining about the church bells
People moving to the countryside ... just outside a village & complaining about the cattle/sheep etc ...

127:

See HERE
I do hope it turns out well, as I scraped enough money together to be a "backer" for about £220 off the price!
And my old Samsung phone is dying ... GPS doesn't work any more & some apps have stopped wroking as well ....

128:

People moving next to a mosque then complaining about the call to prayer. It's just like church bells, except more racist.

(in theory it doesn't *have* to be more racist, but in practice the non-racist objectors see their defiantly racist "allies" and withdraw. Both themselves and their objections. Or not, in some places).

I sometimes think that if the reactionaries (right wing, conservatives, whatever their professed identity of the moment is) were as smart as they like to think they are they would false flag the green and left groups purely to drive away the green and left. We see it very, very occasionally but it is either way more subtle than the people attending seem to be, or completely accidental. "don't let sand n***s near my kids" in the same place as "don't build a school on this farmland" for a brief moment until the fight starts.

Oh, and amusement around the Islamic school system: there's a mixed set of alliances between "don't teach kids about queers" in the conservative religious side, and "let's have a multicultural society" on the progressive + Muslim side. Lots of people not particularly comfortable in either of those alliances.

129:

Re. the synchronized political meltdown in Britain and 'Merica...

Sadly, USA and Britain nominally has the same language, so bad ideas/memes can jump across as easily as herpes. If you have different languages, someone at least has to go through the bother of translating things, which acts as a buffer of sorts (useful in the internet/social media age).
I don't see Boris Johnson going to the length of learning a second language to get information.
Meanwhile, if something actually matters there are usually people around who are willing to translate it -this is why we now have Stanislaw Lem's "Summa Technologiae" available in English only 50 years after it was written.

And if you recall Canadian politics, Harper went about implementing the policies of George W Bush in Canada.... although those policies hade been discredited in USA. The words from Fox News had burrowed so deeply into his brain that reality itself had no chance to assert itself. Maybe you should all adopt the Navaho language, or old Gaelic. Etruscan?

130:

Satire site The Newsbiscuit explains the attraction of the Dark Side to leaders;
The Dark Side is slimmer http://www.newsbiscuit.com/2019/10/04/the-dark-side-is-slimmer/

131:

#37 - Earworm!!

#124 and #125 - People moving next to a race track that was operational before "their new house" was built complaining about "those noisy racing cars", and worse getting support from the local authority.

Back at the OP - No sign of pigs flying over the loch outside the office window here.

132:

Greg: go back to my comment #89, which you replied to, and follow the link in it. I hesitate to say "teaching grandma to suck eggs", but ...

133:

I don't see Boris Johnson going to the length of learning a second language

It would need to be a seventh or eighth language. Fluent in English, French, Italian and Latin, gets by in German and Spanish.

134:

Sort of off topic but was Computer Shopper a thing in the UK or Europe back in the day?

Yes, kinda.

In the mid-80s, British magazine mogul Felix Dennis on a trip to the USA saw a copy of Computer Shopper and registered the name in the UK. His own (Dennis Publishing) version of CS launched in 1987. Same formula for the ads, but it also carried about 20% editorial content to justify the direct sales for the ABC rating (essential to garner the ads). This he farmed out to some UK microcomputer heavyweights from the good old days—ex Personal Computer World folks, who in turn had total authority to run an old-skool soldering-irons-and-assembly-language-tutorials computer magazine. Which they did, with the effect that the British version of Computer Shopper was like a weird collision between the American Computer Shopper and maybe Byte or Doctor Dobbs' Journal.

I wrote the Linux and free software column for a bit over five years. It was glorious; editorial HQ was built into a bizarre, sprawling farm stables in the home counties presided over by Jeremy Spencer, who on one occasion gave a friend of mine a tour of the farm in his hovercraft. Meanwhile the advertising side was handled in London at Dennis Publishing HQ, where all the other mags in the stable were based. Shopper was #2 in the monthly newsstand computer magazine charts, based on ABC audited sales: that level of revenue brought effective immunity to run good editorial content. At its peak Shopper ran to just under 1100 pages, of which around 200-250 pages were actual news, reviews, tutorials, specialist machine columns, and opinion pieces, mostly written by freelancers like me on an ongoing basis.

In the end ... the internet was eroding ad sales by 2002-03 and things slid downhill. In late 2004 there was an editorial coup by folks from one of the more conservative in-house PC magazines. They put the brake on some of the more interesting content and tried to make Shopper more like a regular computer mag, which didn't do anything positive to arrest the advertising sales slide and pissed off a number of the freelance columnists. Shopper dwindled to a mere shadow of its former glory, Felix Dennis died, and I'm not sure whether Dennis Publishing even exists any more.

135:

feel free to do a cyberpunk-inflected reverse opium war, with the US in place of Qing China and the aggressor countries retaliating for centuries of fucked up imperial US and UK drug policy by forcing the US whatever's left of the UK to legalize the import of an endlessly shifting constellation of designer drugs.

Insufficiently fictional.

I mean, do you really believe those Chinese chemical factories selling cheap carfentanyl via Silk Road or other Darknet outlets and shipping to the USA are unknown to the Chinese government? Sure, if someone forgets to grease the right palms or attracts too much unwelcome attention then maybe a manager or two gets parted out for transplant organs or sent for re-education ... but payback is a bitch, and non-Americans usually have enough of a sense of history that I think this trade wouldn't be happening without a quiet nod of satisfaction from the very top.

136:

Charlie @ 132
Err .. you don't HAVE a comment # 89 - you do have one @ # 90 - I think a comment got deleted somewhere ...
However
I have now looked at the link.
I think the word is .. OOps! Followed by Clang!

137:

The problems with a clamshell-with-keyboard device (as Planet Computing are currently rediscovering) are that (a) each language/region requires a different keyboard, hence a different SKU, (b) mechanical complexity, and (c) buttons can't easily be repurposed.

Drawback (a) makes for complexity in the logistics and fulfillment pipeline (to say nothing of direct order customers pestering you with "I ordered a UK keyboard layout but you sent me a US one" requests that have to be handled one-at-a-time). Drawback (b) seems to be largely a done deal these days (keyboards aren't mechanically complex any more), but drawback (c) is a killer.

The clamshell with dual screens is ... interesting. On the one hand, when you use the second screen as a keyboard it's inferior to a hardware keyboard (poor tactile feedback). On the other hand, the SKU proliferation goes away (you just use a different keyboard map in software) and you can repurpose it for other types of input device—drawing area, for example—or secondary display—MS's demo of email with a message list on one screen and an individual email on the other screen. And as a wildcard factor, on-screen keyboards are now almost universally supporting gestural/swipe input (even Apple and Microsoft have caught on), which is massively faster than hunt-and-peck on a sheet of glass.

Ultimately it boils down to whether the device is primarily a media consumption device, or for composition. For consumption, the dual-screen one is brilliant, but if you type a lot, you want a hardware keyboard. Same split as with laptops v. tablets, I guess.

138:

Best ones around here and in other parts of the US are new developments in idylic spots and people new to the area move in and find out it was available land as it is under the take off path of an airport 10 miles away. The real estate sales agents know what times are good for showing and which ones to avoid. Then after a few 100 homes are sold they sue the airport.

Me, I look at a map when searching for housing. I notice the coal power plan over the hill, the rail road crossing at grade within a mile, the airport runway extension lines, the bottom of a hill near a big body of water, etc... Most people don't.

139:

MS Phone is Android.

Interesting would be the agreements between MS and Google. You know the adoption of Chrome by MS was a part of this and had to reduce or eliminate the cost of the license of Android to MS.[1] And there is sure to be a big deal about patent cross licensing.

[1]Android is free but what gets on most all phones is NOT. Ditto the right to support or have input into the development.

140:

Ah, the glory days of CS (UK) and PCW, when I used to threaten "I'll hit you with my magazine!"

And since you may be interested, yes Dennis Publishing still exists, mostly in car magazines.

141:

From someone who has lived in every city discussed this is simply not a thing that happens in those areas except in very rare occasions. Outside of the east and west coasts, 2 hour commutes are seen as ludicrous and not even considered as an option

Thank you. Yes. On ramp to off ramp on I-24 on a Sunday afternoon is not a commute.

This gets into how in geography OZ and NZ are in no way representative of much of the world that people live in.

Just as small town Paducah is no way representative of San Jose, rural Kansas or Montana, or even the other end of Kentucky. (San Jose isn't built UP all that much but it is the center of a suburban sprawl that goes on for what seems like forever. Driving from Monterey to SFO late one Sunday with mostly no traffic seemed to take forever. It was an illusion caused by the continuous same scenery.) There is a lot of overlap in small town life in much of the US but also a very large amount of "local windage".

And people who've traveled to India, China, and such tell me it is hard to comprehend the vast numbers of people and just how hard it is to think about ways to do things that scale to those numbers.

This also ties back to the comments about how pacifism worked when France attacked NZ. A tiny island nation half way around the world isn't the same as border countries in the industrial first world. Look up WWII and tell my how pacifism would have worked.

142:

How to reduce the noise of impeachment talk in the US? Start a new (revised?) war/genocide in Syria. (Or get out of the way of those who want to start one.)

143:

At its peak Shopper ran to just under 1100 pages, of which around 200-250 pages were actual news, reviews, tutorials, specialist machine columns, and opinion pieces, mostly written by freelancers like me on an ongoing basis.

Oh there was editorial content in the US CS. I just don't remember any of it. For me it was the mag to pick up when pricing things.

And it was a big buyer beware. Not too bad when the instructions were in a bizarre UK/US English which was likely translated from Chinese via a dictionary. Worse was you got what was expected but the documentation (1 page pamplet) was in maybe Chinese. And worse yet was when the boot screen on the logic board defaulted to Chinese or Hindi.

144:

"I just hopw for everyone's sake ..."

[typo by Charles indicates shift to level Red-Alpha - commence evacuation of multi-vers] :)

145:

"The band of blue across Alabama, Georgia and S. Carolina is interesting, as is the band that goes up the Mississippi and terminates at, roughly, Memphis."

This could be what is called the 'black belt', a zone of high concentration of slaves before the American Civil War.

It's still a zone of a high concentration of black people, and therefore highly Democratic.

146:

"I thought about mentioning Wales but then I thought no, no, surely not. Don't over-egg the custard."

This will make it much easier to liberate England over the next decade.

The Scottish Republican can move in from the North; EU forces can stage in The Free Republic of Wales, and attack from the west.

147:

"This change is driven mostly by the transition in advanced (western) countries to an information technology economy, some by globalisation and has resulted in a strongly bifurcated labour class of winners and losers. "

IIRC, in the USA support for Trump doesn't track well with income; it tracks well with race and education.

148:

Ah, nope. Sort of. Kind of.

All the people I know in the upper .1 % are Trump supporters. Lots of cognitive dissonance in many ways but they can't stand the thought of a "socialist" takeover.

149:

You need to understand that in many of these areas those red and/or blue counties are really a mosaic of red and blue voting districts. Which is why voter maps are such a fight. Many of those colors on the map linked are 52/48 ratios or similar. And yes there are also those 95/5 counties. Within 100 miles of me there are lots of both.

Generalizing in the US is hard just now. Always been a bit problematic but getting harder.

150:

The thing with MS and Chrome is that MS was already a big user of Chrome (via Electron) before the decision to move Edge to using Chromium.

So while I wouldn't entirely discount there being agreements between Google and MS, there is also a great deal do the fact that moving to an open source browser base made economic sense for Microsoft (any work they do in the future not only helps with Edge but also with all the apps written on Electron).

Then there is the fact that almost nobody was using Edge anyway...

151:

"Looking at the rolling Woke-SJW Auto-da-fé that is the Democratic nomination process I kind of think they haven't got this..."

I'm trying to figure out where you are getting that impression from.

The three front-runners are all US Senators; the one who's dropping from first (Biden) is doing so simply because it's not 1980 any more.

152:

Or the higher ground on at least one side, leading to streams flowing through in heavy rain.
People buy a place in the country because "it's peaceful" and then discover that it isn't. (Trucks, tractors, animals wild and domestic - and their byproducts - and other noisy stuff.)

(I live less than a mile from a grade-level crossing. It's not as bad as you'd think.)

153:
I'd also argue the Democratic politicians should just drop gun control - leave it to the states.
Counterpoint: Chicago.

Illinois does its best to regulate guns, but Indiana and its gun laws are right next door...

154:
What, you don't find these episodes amusing? (I do, TBH. Easily amused.)

Except that murders / assassinations of brown people are on a serious uptick since 2016. Brown people are still killed by racist police, with almost always zero consequence for cops doing the killing. Brown people are in (for profit!) concentration camps, where they are dying.

I've been slowly making my way through The Third Reich in Power. The parallels to the modern USA are frightening. Concentration camps started right away in 1933. Things got worse for groups the Nazis hated, but not all at once. It was just a steady "things are worse now than they were last month, and we can expect things to be slightly worse next month." The Nazis were able to start extermination camps in 1942 exactly because people had been desensitized by 9 years of 'this is just one small incremental step for the worse.'

So no. Not amusing in the least.

155:

That kind of thing pretty much kills any "self-sufficient" claims.

That's got to be the most impressively barefaced non sequitur in this thread so far!

Erg... It kills the idea that they *are* self-sufficient, but emphasizes that they don't benefit as much from centralized forms of assistance.

I.e. it points out that medical assistance is an external support system, while showing that it's not easily available at need, so if you can handle it yourself you will.

156:

If I remember correctly, the Black Belt is an example of geology determining politics. The soils in the black belt, due to the underlying geology, are really good for growing cotton. The current density of poor black voters in the region is, at least in part, due to the past industrial uses for lands in that region going back a few hundred years.

157:

Today the chemicals in our President's brain made him tweet:

As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over...

...the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!

Wow.

158:

You're joking, right?

159:

David L @ 5: Gate kind of spilled it when he said there is only room for 2 major phone OS's. Apple has the high end and Android the mass market.

And with enterprises screaming at MS to better deal with all the iPhones[1] the execs have in their pockets they made a decision to go with their own Android. Now the question is will all of those execs and mid level managers say "OK, I'll switch to a MS Android and trash my personal life setup with all of my extended family."

We'll see.

I expect unprecedented push back by users at all levels to IT saying "This is our new standard. Suck it up."

[1] While Windows and MS Office are waaaaaaaaay better at integrating with both major mobile OS's things are still a major PITA in so many ways. So so so many ways.

I guess if I ever had a reason to travel out of the country again I'd probably want a cheap "burner" phone, and one thing iPhones ain't is CHEAP.

If you were going to travel somewhere in Europe and/or Asia, what phone would you get, keeping in mind I'd only want Emergency Contact information in it and a way to make telephone calls to back home and would probably discard it once I got "back in the USSR" ... so I wouldn't want to spend a lot of money on it.

Better to buy one here or just write down the phone numbers I need to know on a piece of paper to enter into the phone after I arrive over there? I'm looking at the possibility of another trip to China in 2021? ... and this time I won't have to be the "adult supervision".

... and I'm hoping to visit the UK & EU at least once before I die (visit AGAIN for the UK).

160:

Nope. You can go to his twitter feed.

161:

I live less than a mile from a grade-level crossing. It's not as bad as you'd think.

I have (in college) and do now at times depending on which city I'm in. It takes a few weeks for me to learn to sleep through the long long short long. Some people though never do.

And in college the school system parked about 30 busses down the street. If you were in bed as they rolled by in the morning you were close to being late for your first class.

162:

Sorry. Attempted sarcasm.

If you'd told me half a decade ago that a US president would behave like that, and a significant chunk of the country would be OK with it, I'd have told you to pull the other one. Now it's just normal. Or at least usual.

163:

I'd be inclined to get a phone in Asia (maybe a flip phone or something like that) and leave it behind/save it for return trips. Ditto Europe. Means you don't have a phone right when you arrive at the airport, (which may be an issue).

But I'm used to the high prices of phones and cell service in Canada, so both of those are cheaper options than buying a burner phone here.

164:

Those of us who keep around an older iPhone just initialize and take those.

Otherwise visit Target or WalMart web sites and see what models are for sale then which are compatible with the countries you are visiting. For most of the planet that means GSM. For China, Verizon in the US and a few other places you get into CDMA. Japan is a world unto itself is my understanding of cells phones there.

Do NOT buy one of those cheap end cap grocery store Android things that have v1.3.x on them and no way to update.

165:

Damian @ 27: That’s an interesting map anyway. Had to put it up next to google maps to understand what’s happening in Arizona and New Mexico (even after Breaking Bad, and after spending some of my 20s thinking the place I really wanted to go study was the Santa Fe Institute). The band of blue across Alabama, Georgia and S. Carolina is interesting, as is the band that goes up the Mississippi and terminates at, roughly, Memphis. I know there are some big cities in those bands, but I would not have expected them to be so continuous. It can’t all just be conurbation, right? Like where you expect to see a big blue spot for Dallas, there’s actually just one county and that’s probably the poor end of Forth Worth.

If you superimpose it over Google Maps, I think you'll find that swath of blue follows I-95 south out of Washington, DC to the junction with I-20 and then follows I-20 west through Atlanta with a spur down I-85 from Richmond, VA down to Columbus, GA.

166:

Oh, replace your SIM when you get back if that matters.

167:

Elderly Cynic @ 49: Not entirely. There are more geeks, and people who have tame geeks, than you imply by that - and a high proportion of us run Linux workstations, and sometimes BSD or some other Unixoid system. We are no longer talking about a small minority, and are definitely talking about MANY more than Sun or HP supply. But, as far as COTS kit, ready to run, goes, I agree that Apple is the last - and it's not all that Unixoid.

Most of the people I know who run Linux workstations don't BUY Linix workstations, they buy components and roll their own.

168:

PCW...? Now there's a blast from the past! (but a pleasant reminder)

169:

It really woeries me that wales might make the jump, particularily if scotlamd goes. It makes far less sense for wales and we're talking at least a generation to see the benefit. Why?

Relavively powerless Senedd vs Scottish parliament is much less ready to rule.

Economy hugely reliant on public sector for local jobs and people working in england for large part of private sector. Wales is just starting to get the tax of residents this year, but lots of those people dont earn their mony locally.


No ready to go legal system, 900 years of commonality is a lot to untangle.


Im sure wales wpuld be successful eventually, but it would suck for a long time beforehand.

170:

This gets into how in geography OZ and NZ are in no way representative of much of the world that people live in.

That’s really funny. In some ways it’s sweet, and I want to say that it’s okay, Americans are unique and special anyway, whether things work completely uniquely differently for you or not. You don’t have to resort to such obviously ridiculous tactics as claiming that no-one from Australia can have a reasonable opinion about this thing in your world, the joggraffy is diffrunt, innit?

So sure, fine. We don’t have traffic here. Or crap, poorly maintained side roads. Or weird and complex overlapping responsibilities between the local, state and federal transport departments. Or idiots with shotguns perforating road signs. Or roads mysteriously renamed for dubious sporting figures with no consultation. Or kangaroos^H^H^H^Hdeer. Therefore I can’t comment about places that do have kangaroos^H^H^H^Hdeer. Not just in relation to roads, but on any sorts of topic, coz joggraffy. Fine.

171:

Troutwaxer @ 63: System-76 is a little pricey. I'd guess you can get the same thing at Fry's for $1500-2000, particularly if you've got a case and CD/DVD to reuse.

OTOH, if you're a dedicated Apple fan, there's always the "hackentosh" route. I wish Apple weren't so anal about it. Until they change their minds, I'm running a Mac Mini, but I know I could build a screamingly fast "hackentosh" if I chose to do so.

https://www.tonymacx86.com/

I specked out a Power "Hackentosh" build with Intel i9-9900K, 64GB DDR5 RAM, 8GB 4k video adapter (Radeon), 250TB & 500TB SSDs, 650W Power Supply, Full-Size ATX case, Macally USB Apple Keyboard & 3 button USB scroll mouse - $1586.00 buying all the components from "Big River". You could probably save on that shopping Newegg or Fry's. Doesn't include the OS or Display.

I'm not advocating violating Apple's policies about installing MacOS on non-Apple hardware. If you choose to do so, that's your decision, but I'm pretty sure it will run on that system.

OTOH, Windoze10 is something like $135.00 from "Big River" for the OEM version, and I'm pretty sure anything that will run Mac OS, will run Linux just fine.

172:

Will S. had it: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
You, as a writer, are looking for a working plot, me, as a math, is looking for a feasible solution. Neither is available.

173:

April_D @ 70: So there's actually a real chance that there's a vote to remove Trump, and that it passes, and what would be really delicious is if it was 50-50 and required Justice John Roberts to cast the tie-breaking vote (as I believe he would be called on to do for an impeachment vote; the VP doesn't get to vote on his boss' performance) and thus suck SCOTUS ever-deeper into the morass.

The Constitution requires "the concurrence of two thirds of the members present" to convict in an impeachment trial, and the Chief Justice doesn't get to vote.

174:

#133: - "Fluent in English, French, Italian and Latin, gets by in German and Spanish."
Unfortunately he's only fluent in lying in all those cases.

175:

Exactly. The real advantage of an impeachment is that it allows the case against Trump to be made twice; first in the House, then in trial in the Senate. The effects on the 2020 election will be quite powerful.

But like you I very much doubt that a conviction is in the offing.

176:

Are we still thinking a conviction would lead to an automatic pardon by a presidents Pence? So doing all that is possible to affect the 2020 election, hopefully yielding a Democrat presidency, house and senate, followed by another investigation with no pardon in the offing?

177:

If you don't want to think about stories about the Chinese "West European Company" introducing fentanyl to the UK in retribution for what the British East India Company did back in the '70s (1770s), then...

Well, there's always the possibility of collusion between those who suffered during the Great Game (China, and possibly Russia) finally having the satisfaction of dismantling their Great Game foe--the British Empire--by subverting its vaunted parliamentary democracy in a way that makes it attack what's left of the empire and rip it apart. This could hypothetically be done by shoving large amounts of money and resources and powerful local rebels and amoral businessmen, and also by helping promote pliable local politicians.

This sounds extremely dirty and underhanded, nothing like the way the UK "took up the white man's burden" to bring civilization to China and India back in the day, and certainly not the way the UK, let alone the US, played politics in the 20th Century.

Oops, my sarcasm remediation system just stopped leaking. Probably just as well. That's pretty vile speculation. Obviously, it's all not true. Sorry about the mess.

178:

Look up WWII and tell my how pacifism would have worked.

Yes, why don't we look at the history of neutrality during WWII. On the face of it seemingly Switzerland, Ireland and Sweden all stayed neutral and managed not to get invaded by any of the sides fighting WWII.

179:

David L @ 110:

"West Kentucky looks, by Australian standards, like commuting distance to Nashville, St Louis or Louisville."

Until 1980 or so it was at least 4 hours to get from Paducah to anywhere bigger such as what you list. Now it is down to a bit over 2 hours to get to Nashville. (Less if you fly low.) More to the other places. And if not in Paducah add an hour or two to get to a major road. This is not flat desert/prairie. Rolling hills, creeks, etc.. that make for lots of non straight roads first laid out in the 1800s. Lots of little towns with 4 way stops. And so on. I did recently meet ONE guy who commuted from the south side of Bowling Green KY to the Nashville airport and that was over a 1 hour commute. Sorry but it just dog doesn't hunt.

Yes you can get from W. Ky to somewhere larger for a day trip. But a commute, no way.

My mom was from western Kentucky. Even as late as the first decade of this century, when my kin folk wanted to go shopping in the big city, Paducah was where they were talking about. It's a little less than an hour driving time.

180:

David L @ 113: And also 10% tariffs on Airbus planes.

Doesn't Airbus have a manufacturing facility somewhere down around Birmingham, AL?

181:

the joggraffy is diffrunt, innit?

Whereas I was entertained by the idea that 0.3B merkins are more representative of "the rest of the world" that 0.02B strayns. There's that many Africans primarily relying on shanks pony and 1940's style bicycles. Slightly east of that nearly a billion indians seem unlikely to ever get personal combustion engines. Then you're looking at a billion chinese complaining that high speed rail is too congested because they can't build new lines and stations fast enough, and it looks as though fossil transport will be outright banned in most large cities within 20 years, hearing a lost merkin whining that the US is typical seems almost naive... until we remember that the US empire is also the major force pushing us into climate catastrophe. That seems suicidally short-sighted.

182:

I think that you will find that the majority do what I do, which is to either choose an off-the-sgelf design or specify what they want, buy the workstation complete, and install the software. The days when most Linux users built their own kit are long gone.

183:

Yes, why don't we look at the history of neutrality during WWII. On the face of it seemingly Switzerland, Ireland and Sweden all stayed neutral and managed not to get invaded by any of the sides fighting WWII.

I suspect that neither side saw much advantage to invading them during the war, given other concerns. In the actual event the Allies won, and they didn't want to invade them. In the counterfactual event that the Axis won, Germany would have left those countries as something to deal with later. A Nazi-ruled Europe would have absorbed Switzerland, Ireland and Sweden in a couple of decades at most.

184:

There is one US state which is able to do gun control at the state level quite effectively: Hawaii.
Exercise for the reader: why?

185:

Exercise for the reader: why?

It's hard to drive from CONUS to Hawaii?

186:

Swiss neutrality was not based on pacifism; quite the opposite.

187:

Charlie Stross @ 137: The problems with a clamshell-with-keyboard device (as Planet Computing are currently rediscovering) are that (a) each language/region requires a different keyboard, hence a different SKU, (b) mechanical complexity, and (c) buttons can't easily be repurposed.

I always wished IBM had done more with their butterfly keyboard

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRVJCtREW38

188:

For the aussies, while I haven't been there, I believe that the Blue Mountains are half-way reasonable model for the Appalachians.

There's a bit of difference when mountains get mixed in to travel routes. For example, in California, it used to not be a big deal to go from Fresno to Sacramento (171 miles, about three hours): get on the highway and go. It's flat like southern Australia. Eureka to Redding (147 miles) is a lot more interesting, and often impassable in the winter. That highway goes through the Klamath Mountains, which are a little rugged. A lot of California's geography (political and otherwise) is about where the mountains are, which is why the pot growers fend off sasquatch raids on their crops up in the Klamath, while the industrial farms (generally owned by international megacorps and billionaires now) near Fresno play with border politics to try to get the cost of Mexican migrant labor down as far as possible. It'd be stupid for them to do that in the Klamath, because there's not enough flat land to make latifundias sufficiently profitable.

189:

David L @ 164: Those of us who keep around an older iPhone just initialize and take those.

I've only ever had the one iPhone. I don't expect to "upgrade" any time soon (i.e. before the China trip can become a reality).

Otherwise visit Target or WalMart web sites and see what models are for sale then which are compatible with the countries you are visiting. For most of the planet that means GSM. For China, Verizon in the US and a few other places you get into CDMA. Japan is a world unto itself is my understanding of cells phones there.

Do NOT buy one of those cheap end cap grocery store Android things that have v1.3.x on them and no way to update.

Problem is, I don't know which phones are compatible with the countries I'll be visiting. Right now, I don't even know if I will be able to visit them. I didn't even have a phone with me when I went to China in 2010, but I did have access to computers I could use to send a Yahoo Mail "I'm here, wish you were beautiful" back home.

That's about all I'm thinking about a phone for travel for ... being able to call and let everyone know I've arrived safely & maybe figuring out where I am with the on-line maps. Probably won't be bringing it with me when I come back home. I've got a phone here.

190:

Damian @ 176: Are we still thinking a conviction would lead to an automatic pardon by a presidents Pence? So doing all that is possible to affect the 2020 election, hopefully yielding a Democrat presidency, house and senate, followed by another investigation with no pardon in the offing?

I just don't know which way Pence would jump. Look at how the pardon thing turned out for Gerald Ford, and he wasn't even implicated as a co-conspirator.

Pence is in it up to his eyebrows. He might want to avoid calling additional attention to his own role lest he face his own impeachment inquiry.

I think the Democrats should make it abundantly clear to Pence that if he were to circumvent the path of justice, he'd be in a world of shit all his own in addition to all that Trump had left him.

191:

Erm, Article 2, section 2 of the US Constitution:

"[The President] ... shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment."

So if any officer is actually impeached, his successors or superiors have no ability to pardon him. Nixon resigned without being impeached and then got pardoned.

Another fairly major blind spot in the US media, Article 2, Section 4: "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

They're also nattering on about whether an action falls under the "high crimes and misdemeanours" part. I'd redirect attention to the treason and bribery part of the rap sheet, at least occasionally. Quid pro quo looks kinda like bribery to me. Then again, I'm an ignorant rube.

However, the fact remains that President Pence pardoning President Trump for Impeachment would almost certainly be an impeachable offense in itself, which is why I think that, if it looks like the Senate Republicans decide some collective action against Trump*, he'll resign before they nail him.

*There's a great irony in how thoroughly the Republicans could stick it to both the voters they're scared of and their big bucks financiers (and to the democrats!) if they just took a page from the unions of a century ago and organized properly. Instead they're cowering in fear. Collectively. For example, all they have to do to their backers is to join with the progressive democrats to pass a tax bill on the ultra-wealthy, to fund payments to farmers and miners, for example.

192:

Elderly Cynic @ 182: I think that you will find that the majority do what I do, which is to either choose an off-the-sgelf design or specify what they want, buy the workstation complete, and install the software. The days when most Linux users built their own kit are long gone.

I can't speak for the "majority", only for those I know. The people I know personally who are using Linux for PERSONAL computing do roll their own. Partly because of the satisfaction of building your own computer.

The ones who just buy straight off-the-shelf systems get a Windoze10 system ... or occasionally Apple, although again that's mostly freelance "creatives" buying iMacs, MacBooks or iPads.

193:

Swiss neutrality was not based on pacifism; quite the opposite.

If you define pacifism as "not wanting to be at war", which is quite a common definition, it is. There's also a difference between personal pacifism and national, they can't work the same way. There were definitely pacifists running round free *in* Switzerland during WWII, put it that way.

There is a large degree of realpolitic involved, not the least of which is the use of pacifist as a slur and the widespread belief that pacifism cannot possibly work (and thus anything that works cannot be pacifist). This affects not just analysis, but also the realpolitic of declaring a leader or country pacifist. This is quite evident with religious figures, you have on the one hand Jesus, Mandela and Ghandi who are often seen as pacifists despite being both calculating about their non-violence and willing to use violence when necessary (Mandela was quite reasonably jailed for terrorism), but then you have Mohammed/Islam and the Sikh religion who are explicitly warlike (Sufism, soldier-saints, anyone?) but often quite pacifist in practice.

Sikhism is actually quite fun to analyse that way, being theologically pacifist (as is Christianity) but the Punjab problem (cough) means that extreme pacifism is suicidal, so the continued existence of Sikhs means they're not that strictly pacifist. On the other hand the religion also mandates carrying a weapon to use to defend the downtrodden and oppressed, and that causes problems of its own in "pacifist" countries that ban carrying weapons (including, interestingly enough, the USA).

Saying the Swiss are quite the opposite of pacifist is contrary to fact - they haven't declared war on anyone for quite some time, and they have very good internal reasons not to do that - keeping french+german+italian "sides" of their internal politics united means no aggression against those countries. I'd describe the USA as "quite the opposite of pacifist" based on their long history of avoiding peace at all costs. The Swiss could reasonably be described as having compromised on not declaring war rather than rejecting it as an idea, but I suspect that getting the country to actually declare war would require considerable political upset... so the practical politic could be described as "armed pacifism".

194:

> If you define pacifism as "not wanting to be at war", which is quite a common definition...

I've never heard that definition before. Wikipedia says there's a spectrum but that the most common definition is unwillingness to wage war under any circumstances (including defensively), which is what I thought it meant.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacifism#Definition

195:

There is no “highway” that goes from Redding to Eureka. There is the 299, a two lane mountain road that you’d have to be crazy to drive in the winter during a snow fall

In general all those east/west roads are pretty shakey in the northern part of the state, but that’s mostly because the interstates never went there.

196:

I suspect the list you're reading in wikipedia and seeing as "all criteria must be met" is actually a list of many different beliefs covered by the label.

Thus "including the belief that international disputes can and should be peacefully resolved" counts as pacifism, even when spouted by Trump or Putin and followed with "or we will launch the nukes"... but the latter not counting as pacifism. Much as "thoughts and prayers" counts as a Christian sentiment even when uttered by someone who immediately goes on to express un-Christ-like statements.

unwillingness to wage war under any circumstances (including defensively)

That one is IMO a strawman argument, which is why I dismissed it above. A country that absolutely refuses to defend itself and tells people so is just not going to last long - a neighbouring country or local empire will send in peacekeepers to defend it, then help it set up a more practical government. Whether such a country could exist in a pacifist world is IMO untestable.

I'd be willing to concede that it's real if you can name a single example of such a country that survived for more than a decade.

But yes, if you define that as a minimum standard to be considered pacifist I agree, that can't work, has never worked, and will never work in the future. Likewise someone who refuses to kill any creature is a dead person (ooops!), someone who refuses to defend themselves under any circumstances will die quickly (especially if their definition includes things like vaccines and cooking), and so on.

The trick is to read things as though you're dealing with actual living people who can think, and then ask "could what I'm saying about them be true". When DavidL says "pacifism can't work" I suspect him of tautology - he's come up with an impossible definition and proceeded from there.

197:

"Highway" =/= "freeway", and it certainly doesn't require more than two lanes.
It's a highway, officially and legally, no matter what you think. A lot of state highways are like that. (Yes, I've been across it. You don't want to be behind lumber trucks going uphill, or in front of them going downhill.)

198:

Pacifism is generally not a national belief but a personal one or a religious one

The US quakers would be a good example

And it generally does mean “not willing to commit violence under any circumstances “

Trying to apply the term to nation states is an oxymoron

199:

Yeah, sure just saying that you shouldn’t assume much by the “state highway” designation. It can mean anything from a freeway equivalent to a barely paved two laner

200:

I'm curious: how many times have you been on SR-299?

201:

I'm very much in the minority, but I've built my computers mostly by myself for the last 20 years (or assembled from pre-made components). Including the current one which runs mostly Windows 10.

202:

Hawaii does have an Interstate highway so I presume it's possible to drive there from the CONUS. Perhaps you just roll up your windows and hold your breath?

203:

Graham @ 169
There's also the "border problem"
The Anglo-Scottish border has (relatively) few crossing-points - after all a lot of it is v high hills/small mountains with bitter winter weather.
Even when the Solway Bridge was open there were only six railway-crossing points ( 7 if you include the Langholm branch! )
Wales .... even today there are 10 rail crossings.
Um.

Moz @ 178
Does not apply
Ireland wan't worth it to Adolf, paricularly, if the Nazis couldn't invade the bigger island, what chance would they have had with the smaller one, further away.
Both Switzerland & Sweden gritted their teeth, & ( Certainly early on in the war ) erm "accommodated" the Nazis much more than a neutral country should have.
The Wehrmacht were definitely against invading Switzerland, though, because although neutral, it's almost all mountain, it's hopeless for aircraft a lot of the time, it's not tank country & every single male in Switzerland could shoot straight.
Sweden allowed an awful lot, but, after Stalingrad, slowly started "withdrawing priveliges" shall we say? Also, after Norway, the Swedes were well-aware that they were next on the list & were not going to be caught off-guard.

Moz @ 196
Costa Rica?
Exception to prove rule, maybe?

204:

Yes, I was just thinking that he's sort of right - most roads in Oz and NZ have tarseal, and painted lines, and street signs. An awful lot have street lights, and quite a lot have kerbs.

Which is a profound contrast to where I've been in India, China and Latin America, where tarseal is variable, the lines if they exist are more like guidelines than actual rules, the traffic density can be through the roof, and you spend most of your time driving in quiet bewilderment at how it can actually work as well as it does.

But those are foreign people so have different geography too.

205:

Define "neutral". Sweden exported iron to Nazi Germany, and transported German soldiers by train to Norway.

On the other hand, we helped the Allies with deciphering encrypted messages. (See Arne Beurling, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arne_Beurling), and supported Finland in their war effort (or so I've been told).

Sweden basically tried to play on both sides.

207:

Define "neutral"

I don't think it was possible during WWII for a European country to stay right out of the war. Switzerland enhanced their reputation as an amoral wunch of bankers, Ireland tried to pretend it wasn't with the Allies, and Sweden likewise when surrounded by the Axis. My point was more that given opportunity and encouragement to join the war those countries opted not to.

Costa Rica is a fascinating example, thanks Greg. Sadly it looks as though they're now faced with the "we will send peacekeepers to help you revisit that decision" scenario. I wonder if the regionally charismatic leader was a key part of being able to stay pacifist for so long?

208:

foreign people so have different geography too.

I mostly agree, but I note that "human geography" is an important part of the field.

209:

I do think we have to give the writers credit for maintaining thematic consistency across 100's of seasons in regards to the British attitude to and treatment of Ireland and the Irish.

210:

Khoryos @ 206
Picking up on that ? insanity ? erm, strange claim:
it’s claimed that the radical abilities of propulsion and maneuverability are made possible thanks to an incredibly powerful electromagnetic field that essentially creates a quantum vacuum around itself that allows it to ignore aerodynamic or hydrodynamic forces and remove its own inertial mass from the equation. Thus, the ability to generate such high-frequency electromagnetic waves is key to the alleged abilities of this theoretical hybrid craft that can soar near effortlessly through air and water at incredible speeds with little to no resistance or inertia.
A reactionless drive?
You what?

Even a room-temp superconductor would change the planet by vast amounts.
Would certainly make going Carbon-Neutral a whole lot easier

But, there's also this ... With all this in mind, it's certainly possible that these patents are part of some ongoing information campaign designed to make America’s competitors question
If one used the word "disinformation", might one be closer, I wonder?
All very murky

211:

Looking at a 1:50K map over the English-Scottish border, I can see 2 current railway crossings, 2 dismantled ones, c. 24 classified road crossings, half a dozen unclassified roads / farm roads, and rather more forestry roads.

Where are the 6/7 you are counting - grid references would be nice?

To Dave_the_Proc (#209): yes, God help us all. Actually, the same applies to the English establishment attitude to Scotland, Wales etc.

212:

My first assumption was that it was some sort of nonsense cover, like the old Blue Book and early drone programs, but then what the hell would they be covering for?

Unless we also assume that all the official government UFO footage is completely bogus, and assuming they aren't actually aliens, whoever they're trying to bluff already knows exactly how to get the kind of performance they're making up pseudo-scientific nonsense for.

Shit's just weird, top to bottom.

213:

It sounds just like a spindizzy to me. A red mercury rocket must be in the pipeline, surely?

My guess is that this is just a more extreme example of the Itanic fiasco, because I have seen the phenomenon several times (and tried, and failed, to debunk it). What happens is that a second-rate or wannabee engineer and scientist becomes dictator, oops, sorry, director of an organisation and get suckered by a pseudo-scientific snake oil salesman (almost always a second-rate engineer or scientist himself). The director then overrides all of his senior staff that are still genuinely technical, either on the grounds that he has information that they don't have or because they are stuck-in-the-mud fuddy-duddies.

214:

EC @ 211
Going from E to W
1: The East Coast main line, just N or Berwick-on-Tweed, ex NBR Here

2: St Boswells - Coldstream by Carham NB/NER Here

3: Riccarton Jn - Hexham or Morpeth, NBR Here

4: The old NBR main line from Edinburgh to Carlisle, the Waverley route at Kershopefoot Here

5: The Langholm branch at Riddings Here

6: The Gretna bridge over the Sark, Cal R with GSW running powers Here

7: The Solway Bridge (!) here, too

215:

Thanks very much. I had missed 3 and 5 - the former because I assumed it was an old road, and the latter from carelessness. So, 2 current and 5 dismantled.

216:

Finding all the present, & more interestingly past crossings, of the Welsh border could be a lot more fun!
A useful source is the on-line version of the old Railway Junction Diagrams, form the Railway Clearing House now available through Wikimedia commons, organosed by county:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Railways_Junctions_Diagram_1914

217:

That's about all I'm thinking about a phone for travel for ... being able to call and let everyone know I've arrived safely & maybe figuring out where I am with the on-line maps.

Online maps are the bandwidth-killer; you really need 3G or 4G for that.

GSM works just about everywhere in the world except Japan and a couple of weird hold-outs that went with Verizon-style CDMA. 3G is slightly fragmented but works in most places, and 4G/LTE is even more standard—the only fragmentation is over which wavelengths are allocated in different countries, and phones are multi-wavelength devices.

But you will need roaming data, or wifi, if you want to use maps. Maps are a life-saver when abroad. And for that, you really want either Android or iOS, the more powerful the better.

(On the other hand, second-hand low end iPhone 6S's or iPhone SE's are available for not a lot of money and will get the job done, and a $150 Android is vastly more competent than a drug-store end-galley $75 Android. I'd view the cost of a smartphone as just another bolt-on for travel, like worldwide travel insurance with health and legal cover, and add it to the cost of the flights, which is always going to be significantly more anyway.)

218:

"I do think we have to give the writers credit for maintaining thematic consistency across 100's of seasons in regards to the British attitude to and treatment of Ireland and the Irish."

I'm really hoping that this was all a build-up to the Sassenach getting their comeuppance at the hands of the Celtic League. The scene where the Celtic Cross flag is hoisted on top of Westminster palace will be iconic!

219:

Ireland wan't worth it to Adolf, paricularly, if the Nazis couldn't invade the bigger island,

Ireland had one thing to offer Hitler (besides the family connection): lots of coastline which U-boats|could use for shelter/resupply while attacking convoys in the Western Approaches. Potentially a noose around the UK's neck. On the other hand, the Irish knew exactly how Churchill would react to them allowing their coast to be used for such purposes. And on the third hand, Churchill remembered 1916 and 1918-24 and probably viewed any British invasion of the Irish Republic as being about as sensible a move as Hitler's invasion of Yugoslavia (i.e. nope nopety-nope and once more nope with the stupid stick). So the UK didn't want to invade Ireland and Ireland didn't want to give them any motivation to do so (and Germany was far too far away to do so on their own initiative).

Switzerland: in addition to the Wehrmacht hating the idea of invading a mountain range defended by heavily armed lunatics, where do you think the Nazi top brass banked their loot? Some potent blackmail material there ...


Sweden: rearmed like crazy, terrain almost as inhospitable as Switzerland, plus, invading Sweden would almost certainly send a "you're next" message to Finland, a conditional Nazi ally against Stalin (remember the Winter War). So a Nazi invasion of Sweden would tip the scales from two occupied/one neutral/one allied in Scandinavia to three occupied/one hostile. Sucking up lots of troops on occupation duty and quite possibly to hold the line against the USSR. In other words, very expensive for little obvious gain (Norway at least had deep-water fjords for ships and U-boats and airfields within bombing and paratroop range of Scotland: it also secured access to the Baltic).

My betting is that if the Nazis had prevailed Sweden would have been a mopping-up exercise, Switzerland would have remained nominally independent (but in practice just a big "offshore" bank haven for top Nazis and about as independent as Vichy France), and Ireland would take whatever treatment the UK got.

220:

#158 - This makes the 3rd time I've seen the Twits in #157 (qv) quoted by/through different channels in 90 minutes since arriving at work!

#176 - AIUI there has never been a successful impeachment (Tricky Dicky resigned first) so I can't think that there's a mechanism for quashing one. A pardon legally means "you did it and accept that you did it but we're letting you go free anyway", so would still disqualify Trumpolini from running again. Which I think aligns with #191 yes?

#193 - And, of course, wearing the philabeag correctly requires one to carry a sgean dubh.

#209 s/British/English

221:

Yeah, Switzerland has been concentrating on making itself as unattractive a morsel as possible. I'd pity any invaders trying to get through the mountain passes and tunnels. Basel is the vulnerable bit, what with being a river port on the Rhine, but getting anywhere else from there is going to be tricky, except the bits elsewhere on that river

222:

Discussions of Ireland's quote-unquote neutrality tend to forget how driven by the domestic politics of the time it was. The Economic War was only over a year and the anti-Treaty IRA was still out there, bombing England and in contact with the Abwehr; De Valera couldn't afford to be seen "fighting Britain's wars" (and remember, his generation had been through something similar already with Redmond and the Volunteer schism at the outbreak of WW1) for fear of intensifying domestic unrest.

Now, had he thought Churchill's later offer to undo Partition was serious and likely to be followed through on...

223:

Given what happened to the promises to India, he was very wise to be suspicious.

224:

P J Evans @ 197: "Highway" =/= "freeway", and it certainly doesn't require more than two lanes. It's a highway, officially and legally, no matter what you think. A lot of state highways are like that. (Yes, I've been across it. You don't want to be behind lumber trucks going uphill, or in front of them going downhill.)

Certainly the majority of the U.S. numbered highway system started out as two-lane highways. In places, some of them still are.

225:

Unholyguy @ 198: Pacifism is generally not a national belief but a personal one or a religious one

The US quakers would be a good example

And it generally does mean “not willing to commit violence under any circumstances “

Trying to apply the term to nation states is an oxymoron

U.S. Quakers are also a good example of people who despite being pacifistic, willingly served in "non-combat" roles within the military, including front-line medics who regularly went under fire to aid wounded soldiers (making no distinction between ours and theirs).

226:

Nojay @ 202: Hawaii does have an Interstate highway so I presume it's possible to drive there from the CONUS. Perhaps you just roll up your windows and hold your breath?

Har, har!

227:

>But you will need roaming data, or wifi, if you want to use maps

I strongly recommend Here Maps (formerly Nokia Maps) which allows you to download sufficiently detailed maps of most of the world where you need to travel in advance, and then proceed offline using only GPS and cell triangulation. It is a bit hit and miss in more unusual locations like the Windward Islands, but all major countries are generally good and it handles inner city foot navigation well. It also has a mildly entertaining voice nav system that has a bunch of naming quirks like where roundabouts are "traffic circles". Doesn't do live traffic though.

228:

Elderly Cynic @ 213: It sounds just like a spindizzy to me. A red mercury rocket must be in the pipeline, surely?

I lean more towards it being some kind of distraction; similar to what a stage magician does with one hand so you don't notice what the other hand is doing.

229:

When I was there in the 80s (during the Cold War) one of the bus drivers took great pride in pointing out the doors to underground hangers in what looked like cliff faces. He said that they were designed so fighters could fly right out the hanger and into the air. I don't know if they had catapults (my guess is yes). Open doors, launch fighter, close doors.

He also told us that all men had military training and kept their weapons at home, so in the event of invasion they were basically ready for action almost immediately.

The phrase we used back then was "armed neutrality" rather than "pacifist". No attacking rather than no fighting.

230:

The use of "British" was carefully considered. The dismissive and contemptuous attitude to the Irish and Republic of Ireland publicly shown by Johnson, Westminster and sundry Little Englanders is shared by more than a few denizens of Northern Ireland (and I suspect by any rabid Unionists in Scotland too).

231:

Previous reply was meant for paws @220.

Paying insufficient attention to the reply link I clicked!

232:

We have a vaccine for rabid Unionism these days! ;-)

233:

I’ve driven every East / west highway over the coastal range between Corvallis and Redding at least once

The one I’ve driven the most is the 199

I’ve also riven some more questionable county road routes over the coastal range

I’ve driven the I5 over the siskiyous more times then I can count.

Why?

234:

Barry @ 218
What bollocks
There is zero evidence that the "Celtae" were really in Ireland or Scotland - see also Sellar & Yeatman
Anyway, what about us Vikings & Huguenots & Gascons?
More bloody racism

JBS @ 228
There is also the slim possibility that the rt-superconductor works... but, did you notice, it needs to draw power ( for making the piezoelectonics work ) to make it "go"
Which raises all sorts of questions about overall efficiency & power losses.
Um, err ....

235:

In hindsight, by provoking the Taipings, Western imperialists might inadvertently have done a backhanded favor for China, since nothing else but a megadeath uprising could ever have broken the stranglehold of Chinese landed gentry on economics and politics. The rebellion left undone a whole additional century worth of inevitable struggle, but it got the ball rolling. 

Comparable difficulty may be experienced by Western societies, in separating plutocratic influence from the levers of government power. But it could make a plausible background story for an alternate future history:  progressive forces in the E.U. and the U.S. start breaking free of domination by financial elites, only to find themselves confronted with an array of obstacles from Asian interests.

 Kind of like back when it wasn't enough for Chinese peasants just to shake off ancient baggage of the Qing empire, European and American forces also had to be defended against at the same time. Must have seemed like total chaos. Reminds me of Obama's quip about racism, "Just because it's the past, doesn't mean it's over. In fact it's not even the past."

Easy enough to dispute by saying money calls the shots in China same as everywhere, but the slam dunk response they gave to an N.B.A. manager's tweet about HongKong might well have vaporized billions overnight, no questions asked. Better double-check your cargo manifest, boss, that ship sailed 22 years ago.  
     

236:

I think the disconnect here is cultural and contextual. Outside of progressive activist circles, "pacifism" as understood colloquially in the U.S. is synonymous with "non-violent up to the point of not even defending oneself". I suspect this stems from the long presence of various Christian minorities in the U.S.--the Amish, hardcore Quakers, etc.--who adhere to such stringent forms of pacifism. The role of "conscientious objectors" back when the draft was still in force are likely a factor in American perceptions of the term as well.

TL;DR: if you use the terms "pacifism" and/or "pacifist", the modal American is--rightly or wrongly--going to think you're talking about absolute rejection of violence for any reason up to and including self-defense.

237:

As our OGH has explained before, what's "suburban" to Americans is "rural" to Brits. Based on your comments and Moz's, it seems that, similarly, what's "suburban"/"exurban" to Australians is "rural" to Americans. (Though I suspect Alaskans and residents of the less populated parts of the American West might have similar perceptions of distance and density to many Australians.)

Default perceptions are parochial. When discussing, adjust expectations accordingly.

238:

Yer whaa? Just WHAT English revisionist hallucinogen are you smoking? The Celtae in ancient Roman usage (i.e. Gauls) may not have got here, but the term "Celtic" has referred to the wider Celtic grouping in ENGLISH at least since the early 18th century.

Whether the Picts and Beaker people were Celtic is open to debate, true, but there is no doubt whatsoever that Celtic peoples (which include both Goedelic and Brythonic) lived over the vast majority of the British Isles by the time the bald whoremonger arrived. And that was a HELL of a lot earlier than the Germanic Johnnies-come-lately you mentioned.

Fer chrissake, how the HELL do you think that the languages of both Ireland and Scotland became Gaelic?

239:

Re: Room-temp superconductor & EM source

Saw this in a Nature Dec 2018 issue:

'Russell Hemley, a materials chemist at George Washington University in Washington DC, first announced evidence of superconductivity at −13 °C in May, and then revealed hints of an even higher, 7 °C transition, at a conference in August. His team is now publishing the results in Physical Review Letters1.'

Also, this:

'Hemley says that in as-yet unpublished follow-up work, his team detected another important sign of superconductivity: the material expelled existing magnetic fields from itself. The phenomenon is considered to be gold-standard evidence of superconductivity and, if confirmed, could clinch the team’s claim.'

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07831-x

Wonder how it's the Navy that's filing for the patent.


The UFO references look like a deliberate attempt at simultaneously hyping and disparaging the invention/device.

When I first read your comment my mind immediately visualized a UFO-ish looking something in the sky that could materialize, de-materialize, and then re-materialize at some farther location, had lots of bright multi-colored lights, could change/morph its shape in under a minute, was super quiet, could evade/not appear on radar, etc. Then I remembered seeing videos of 1,000+ drones doing all sorts of aerial tricks at the recent (May 2019) high-tech trade show in China. Think that Intel also recently sponsored some sort of drone 'light show' recently. There's also been some talk about such drones replacing fireworks - healthier (no lung disease causing particulates), quieter, re-usable, etc.

240:

EC
SOMEWHERE in the book-pile .... I have one titled: "The Celts, Ancient People or Modern Myth?"
Well worth the read.
But probably now out of date as modern genetic analysis is upsetting a lot of applecarts as regards where peoples came from, or didn't & how well they mixed.

241:

Ugh. I just did a search for "Celtic Cross Flag" and it seems that it has been taken over by neo-Nazis - red field, white circle, black (Celtic) cross. Well down the list are non-neo-Nazi versions of the flag.

Perhaps in a different version of WWII, Ireland joined the Nazis and successfully invaded the UK.

(This would have to be a *very* different history - Ireland as a wealthy, industrialized, militarized country in the 1930s would require a lot of changes to have happened).

242:

I accept that there are a lot of myths surrounding "Celtishness". The ones that I have seen and are probably false is that there was a distinctive Celtic culture, that there was a definite Celtic invasion (bloody or bloodless) and that the language grouping corresponded closely to a genetic one. And possibly that the Celtic genetic populations two millennia ago were the same as the Celtic ones are today.

However, almost all records and modern genetic data that I have seen indicate that the language grouping and associated populations now called Celtic were dominant over most of the British Isles (possibly except linguistically, for the Highlands and some of Ireland) at least 2,000 years ago.

243:

If that's the room temperature superconductor I read about, it requires pressures enough to break a diamond anvil to be formed. The article didn't say how quickly it fell apart if you reduced the pressure. (Think about pressures at the core of Jupiter.)

244:

Certainly the Celts invaded Ireland from Spain, and fought the natives until they were all dead. (The natives were given the part of the land below the surface, and became the "people of he hills".) You wouldn't doubt Taliesin would you?

245:

AIUI Celts are like druids: there are the real ones, and then there are the ones the Victorians made up and everyone since has talked bollocks about until a casual observer thinks that's all it's all about. Only with Celts it's more complicated because the Victorian druid bollocks class material covers multiple genera instead of just one species. So the word "Celts" on its own has become largely useless in any context other than the most broad and general unless you append a paragraph of detailed specification of exactly what kind of Celts you're talking about.

246:

I am reminded of Lysenkoism.

247:

The part of US70 that I've been on (Plainview, TX to Las Cruces, NM) was nearly all two-lane. I seem to recall it was multi-lane in towns and the few cities it went through. You have to enjoy looking at flat land, though, for most of that trip.

248:

Re: Pressure & room temp super-conductivity

True, they don't mention performance or device integrity at 1 atmosphere. Two million atmospheres' pressure to operate at room temp kinda limits applications. (Unless there's a cheap way of generating atmospheric pressure?)

Anyways - maybe this could be used to build devices to probe Europa which is thought to be covered in water that's miles deep.

249:

Um, no. The problem is the revision that's been true for 30+ years: replace IBM with Microsoft, and it's still, "no one ever lost their job by recommending M$".

Upper upper management thinks Apple is for weird "creative" people, and not for anyone else.

250:

There won't be a civil war. The worst it'll be is sort of the Branch Dildonians, multiplied by 10.

For one thing, they're mostly not geographically co-located. For another, they're way outnumbered by the rest of us. And finally... allow me to folk-process a very early Bill Crosby routine, that was about Cap'n Custer an' Cap;t Sitting Bull:
Cap'n militia cap'n, this is cap'n Army cap'n, cap'n Army cap'n, this is cap'n militia cap'n. Ok, I'm going to toss the coin, cap'n Army cap'n calls it, it's head.

Ok, cap'n militia cap'n, you get to get to your compound, with all the weaponry and ammo you and your buddies have, and cap'n Army cap'n gets to ride down the hill at you, with artillery, air and armored (tank) support.... (Or have we forgotten that Waco and Ruby Ridge happens when you get the gov't too pissed off?)

251:

Remember that one of the major threads that kicked off desegregation in the US in the fifties was the desegregated military during WWII.

And also, in factories, etc, you got a lot of "all o' them people, well, except for Joe, he's different"... and with enough of that, the kids aren't going to hear the first part. Living in metro areas means dealing with people with all backgrounds, while rural living tends to relate you only to folks who live near you... who have the same background.

252:

A more general response, which I posted on Case Nightmare Blonde, but...

By the way, folks, I just had an interesting thought about the ultra-rich: they don't actually want a fascist dictatorship... because they've seen, in Germany, for example, how they lose leverage over the government. I think what they really want is a House of Lords, where they play, and which has real power, and a lower house, for the rabble, that can scream and yell, but not make any real change.

In the US, they've been doing this with the Senate.

253:

A few comments... please note that when *I* say server, I'm talking actual rack-mount servers):
1. Oracle/Sun: NO. We had some, and dealing with Oracle/Sun "tech support" was self-abuse (and not in a good way).
2. HP bought SGI, too... and then, sometime this year (not sure if it's done yet), spun off support for it to Unisys (and the techs had *no* idea how they were supposed to get parts).
3. Dell, and a ton of Supermicro resellers will be ecstatic to sell you servers, with Linux, or with nothing on them. They range from $2.5k up, really up. Early last year, I think, the biggest box I ordered was from a Supermicro VAR, 4 CPUs, 144 cores, 2TB of RAM (yes, really), and that was just under $49k.
4. The smallest we ordered was a 1U box, 2 CPUs, 32 cores, 128G RAM, for 5. NVidia Tesla cards cost, plus they eat power - they need a separate cable to the m/b, because the socket they fit in doesn't give them enough. This is, of course, assuming you're using NUMA and CUDA.

This is based on having been spec'ing out and getting quotes and preparing the POs (to be signed off on) for almost 10 years for the US government.

Workstations - are you talking gaming machine, or actual workstations? We did all our real work on the servers, and used our workstation to display. We just built Ellen a new workstation, mostly she's gaming (not heavy, Civ VI), but we want to put Linux on it. She had a good case, we spent around $800 for the m/b, an Nvidia video card. an Intel Core 5, and 16G RAM.

254:

But I thought that the Shrub was sold on the basis of "someone you could sit and have a beer with"? And we're talking about it being the fault of, as Molly Ivins called him, "Goodhair Perry"?

255:

"Wild speculation"?

Sure: "the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments…[but] no person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present" is how the Constitution spells it out... and McConnel tells the GOP to stay away... and the Dems impeach because they're the majority who are present....

The protesters in Hong Kong declaring a "provisional government" are, how shall I put this, "too stupid not to tie their shoelaces together and not trip on them and break their necks".

Or was Tienanmen Square just a scene in a movie?

256:

Thank you, I've passed it along. I *adore* it.

257:

Trump says the whole Ukraine thing was Perry's fault. Beyond that I know not.

258:

"Drop gun control"?

To put it bluntly, FUCK THAT SHIT.

We need real gun control, and actually, national buybacks would be a really good deal.

And why national? Chicago has strict gun control laws... the states around it, not so much.

Wonder if there's a federal law about transporting firearms across state lines for felonious purposes?

259:

For me:
Workstation is the computer that I work on. It handles email and web browsing as well as programs running multiple processes in Python or Go. Multiple as in "gee, wouldn't 64 be an improvement, even though it's nowhere nearly enough".

It's always been a tower, and these days I need to be my own tech support, so switching to a rack mount isn't a good idea, because I've never set one up, and I don't know what's involved. But threads is a lot better than 4 was. (And I really want to avoid Intel, because this last year fixes [I assume] have really slowed down the system. Perhaps I'll do a fresh install from DVD to be sure that's the cause, but since others were reporting the effect, I don't really have too many doubts. If I'm reading the specs right, that lets out Supermicro. And I've had bad experience with Dell using custom parts that nobody else can replace. [True, that was multiple decades ago, but I never heard that they stopped.])

260:

A cyberpunk story? Hell, for the last five or ten years, we've been *living* in a cyberpunk future, which was NOT the 21st Century I signed up for.

As the secretary of WSFA (the local club) puts it during announcements, that he's looking for content for the club magazine, "Modern American politics counts as a dystopia."

261:

Please, can we do that? And while we're at it, treat the on-floor traders as what they are, testosterone addicts?

What a *great* way to run an economy....

262:

A two-hour commute ?acceptable"? Really? So, in effect, you're working 12 hour days (assuming only an 8 hour at work day)?

Hell, no. I actually looked at a house, when I was house hunting in '11, that was fabulous, and affordable...but *if* I was lucky, and traffic in the DC area wasn't a disaster that day, *maybe* I could have made it to work in 1.25 hours, or maybe 1.33.

I said no to it.

263:

Are you suggesting that my cell phone*, which is a flip phone, is only for cheap burner usage?

Humph.

* Cell phone - a cellular telephone, for speaking to someone at a distance.

Note that I was a sr. Linux sysadmin, in front of a computer (two screens, thank you) 8 hrs/day, plus lunch, plus eating my cereal in the morning and checking news and mail, and all evening (mostly) mail, news and writing... and you think I need to stare at a computer more exactly why?

264:

Um, no. New York State, and New York City, are going to have a ton of charges against him and his whole family... and those are *state* charges, and the President can do nothing about them.

265:

ROTFL.

Merkins... um, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merkin

Or maybe you mean 'Murricans?

266:

Pence was in on that phone call, along iwth Barr (US AG) and Pompeo (State). They are *all* guilty.

I think the correct form of address would be, Madame President Pelosi....

267:

I skimmed part of that the other day, and the "reactionless drive" looks to be the EM drive that's been bruited for years, and that NASA's finally testing.

268:

Costa Rica... that's where I heard, for years, that Americans could move there to retire, cheap living, get social security.... Lot of Americans there....

269:

What, you never saw the old, original google maps directions for getting from the US to London?

Drive to Boston. Drive to Fisherman's Wharf. Park. Jump off the pier and swim....

270:

No, you don't want a rackmount. A rack is, oh, about 2.5' or 3' deep, about 22" wide, and about 7' high.

You can do what you want - I was reporting what we've been using for 10+ years, and what we were happy with. On most servers (and I was dealing woth as many as 170+ servers and workstations), I rarely had to call tech support (of course, we also paid $$$ for the 5-yr, NBD on-site warranty).

Never had a problem with the Supermicro boxes from the VARS (well, except Penguin, where sometimes some of the the hot-swap drive bays didn't work....)

271:

Charles H @ 244
"Tuatha de Danaan? IIRC?
Or possibly the Fomorians or even both .....

Come to that, why are the Irish complainig about the "English" given their mythical history ...
This from wiki:
Lebor Gabála Érenn (Literal translation:"The Book of the Taking of Ireland") more widely known as The Book of Invasions, is a collection of poems and prose narratives that purports to be a history of Ireland and the Irish from the creation of the world to the Middle Ages. There are a number of versions, the earliest of which was compiled by an anonymous writer in the 11th century. It synthesized narratives that had been developing over the foregoing centuries. The Lebor Gabála tells of Ireland being settled (or 'taken') six times by six groups of people: the people of Cessair, the people of Partholón, the people of Nemed, the Fir Bolg, the Tuatha Dé Danann, and the Milesians. The first four groups are wiped out or forced to abandon the island, the fifth group represent Ireland's pagan gods, while the final group represent the Irish people (the Gaels).

whitroth @ 251
Given what happened later ( Notting Hill riots in the 1950's ) ... the really ironic thing about that was the reaction of the WWII Brits to US troops - they preferred "the blacks" because they were polite & better behaved.
IIRC in one place, the US demanded a "color bar" & got one ... the "whites" were disbarred & the "coloureds" welcomed ... oops.
See also "The Battle of Bamber Bridge"


@ 267
Otherwise known as the "Sawyer drive"? Or the EM-drive?
Which, IIRC is not actually reactionless.
And MIGHT be thought of as a "QM Hydraulic Jack" ( The nearest analogy I can think of ) - equal pressures over different areas, produces a thrust, yes?
Assuming, of course that it isn't all bollocks .....

272:

You have a problem with a giant pile of fur? 300M of them would be a really big hairball...

273:

It depends on what you can do on the commute.

Back in 1982, sundry Aotearoa Morris sides visited Sydney. During the visit, we were invited to stay overnight in the Blue Mountains by a chap who did commute from there to Sydney and back (he was a little surprised to learn just how many people he had invited, but to his credit he stuck to it). He had a 2-3 hour commute, and this was not unusual.

Of course, he travelled by train, and had breakfast on the train, which was kitted out with tables to allow eating and drinking, and I presume he could have dinner on the train coming back.

He could also rely on finding a seat, rather than having to stand.

It would have intolerable if he had to drive.

J Homes.

274:

The use of "merkin" to mean (USA) American dates from 1926, as used by a well-known, er, merkin: Ezra Pound.

275:

Re The Battle of Bamber Bridge: I wonder if Nevil Shute was drawing on that for one of the threads in The Chequer Board.

276:

Perhaps, but *I*, a native-born US citizen, always think of the wig.

277:

Costa Rica is a fascinating example, thanks Greg. Sadly it looks as though they're now faced with the "we will send peacekeepers to help you revisit that decision" scenario.

Eh? Costa Rica, like Panama, still seems to be in pretty good shape AFAIK, though there are, of course, some footnotes. What peacekeeper-inviting things are you referring to?


278:

"No, you don't want a rackmount. A rack is, oh, about 2.5' or 3' deep, about 22" wide, and about 7' high."

Of course, you don't need the whole rack; you can just have the rackmount box on its own, which is only a few cm thick, and put it under the sofa or some other convenient but otherwise useless bit of unoccupied space.

However, the "don't want" bit still applies. I have one, but the above procedure turned out to be impractical. The fans on its two CPUs not only look like jet engines, they sound like them too; the bloody thing makes a noise like a Harrier doing a vertical takeoff, and there is no place anywhere in the entire house that I can put it without it being loudly and annoyingly audible from every other place in the house.

279:

Looks as though the Sandinistas are putting pressure on Costa Rica to police their border more vigorously:
https://www.csmonitor.com/1985/0913/epacif.html
And incidents like this:
https://ticotimes.net/2019/01/18/four-nicaraguan-police-officers-killed-near-the-border-with-costa-rica


280:

Operation Green was the German planning document (one of three operational plans during the war coded as "Green"). OKW and the Kreigsmarine thought an invasion of Eire to be a more or less hopeless undertaking. They anticipated any German invasion force that actually made it to Eire would be cut off by the Royal Navy, though provisions were made if the Irish government invited the Germans to land and protect them from the British.

However, post Sealion occupation planning divided up the entire British Isles into six administrative districts run by the SS including an office in Dublin - implying that Ireland would also be occupied after a successful Sealion. The Nazis considered the Celts (Irish, Welsh, Scots) to by Aryan but not Germanic.

Operation Tannenbaum, also originally coded as Operation Green, was the planned but cancelled invasion of Switzerland by Germany and Italy during World War II. Hitler despised the Swiss calling their nation a "pimple on the face of Europe" and the Swiss as a "misbegotten branch of our volk". Mountains, heavy fortifications and a useful banking operation made Switzerland an uninviting target. Though if the Germans had won or at least established hegemony on the continent, Switzerland would have been eventually divided between Italy and Germany.

There appears to have been no serious operational plan for the invasion of Sweden (though there was one for Iceland, Operation Ikarus). Probably because there was no need to as Sweden was a safe neutral who continued to obediently ship iron ore to Germany. Post war plans for Sweden are also vague, though there are indications that all of Scandinavia (except Finland) was to be annexed to Greater Germany.


281:

"AIUI there has never been a successful impeachment (Tricky Dicky resigned first) so I can't think that there's a mechanism for quashing one. "

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_in_the_United_States#History_of_federal_constitutional_impeachment

"The House has impeached 19 federal officers. Of these:

15 were federal judges: thirteen district court judges, one court of appeals judge (who also sat on the Commerce Court), and one Supreme Court Associate Justice.
two were Presidents: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton; both were later acquitted by the Senate.[29]
one was a Cabinet secretary
one was a U.S. Senator."

282:

No need for a new script. Our current situation has already been written in John Brunner's "The Sheep Look Up". Environmental degradation endemic corruption, elites living in guarded fortresses, financial collapse,an incompetent president - its all there. The last chapters are a near perfect (realistic and horrifying) description of slow motion systemic collapse of the US.

283:

Well, the first article is from 35 years ago.

But, in terms of the border with Nicaragua I suspect it is more a case of semantics. In many places the police are in many ways similar to an army in the weapons and other materials available to them (whether it be every officer or special units), and it wouldn't surprise me if Costa Rica's border officers aren't thus better equipped than a standard "walk the city beat" officer.

So yes, Costa Rica doesn't necessarily have all the toys and capabilities of a real army but they can likely deal with the border just fine.

284:

In many places the police are in many ways similar to an army... wouldn't surprise me if Costa Rica's border officers aren't thus better equipped than a standard "walk the city beat" officer.

That matches my impression. Albeit "US beat officers" seem to be better armed and have access to heavier weapons than many armies.

Mildly distracted by a reddit blow-up on the topic of tencent being evil because they're Chinese, and specifically that the Chinese concentration camps are so much worse than the US/Au/EU equivalents that no comparison is meaningful and there is definitely no cause to take any action against anyone except the Chinese (and Chinese companies). There's a degree of systematic voting going on, but not to the extent I'd expect if it was state actor level.

285:

Got to agree about the use of Celts.

My problematic idea of Celts *in the Roman sense* is that it's one of those notions whose modern equivalent would be "Latino" to an American. It's them on the other side of the border, at least until you realize that some of "them" were present in what's now the US Southwest for centuries before America took the area over. And they weren't the first ones here, either.

Oh, and they provide a lot of migrant labor these days.

Obviously many will argue (and for good reason) with this idea. The reason I like it is that it provides a fun way to think about the future of California. Perhaps it will be like, oh, the fate of Roman Britain...

286:

Madeleine
Yes, he was - & other similar incidents.

Heteromeles @ 284
the fate of Roman Britain...
I assume everyone knows about Rosemary Sutcliffe's truly magic story, the "Eagle of the Ninth"?
[ Of which I have amazing memories, as it was broadcast - "Between 27 February and 3 April 1957" - I heard every episode & was utterly hooked.... ]
However, there are sequels
The Silver Branch / The Lantern Bearers / Sword at Sunset / Dawn Wind / The Shield Ring
If you have not yet done so: READ THEM

287:

Oh dear oh dearie me
I will simply quote the newspaper & leave the rest to you:

A no-deal Brexit poses a threat to toilet paper supplies as manufacturers reveal they are preparing for possible blockages at the border. ( ! )

288:

When I was in high school in inner Sydney in the 80s, a kid in my class commuted every day from Katoomba (at least, from Katoomba station, I believe his dad dropped him there from even further out). And yes, Sydney and Melbourne commuting is more extreme than Brisbane's. I had written a reply to Frank's comment up above somewhere about the Blue Mountains, with this anecdote in it because Katoomba is in the middle of them, but decided not to post it to avoid overdoing this theme. But I guess the shark got jumped along the way anyway so it's worth chipping in this simple point.


Anyway I suppose I forgot to mention that we don't have mountains here either, even fewer mountains than kangaroos^H^H^H^Hdeer, and definitely this thing called the Great Dividing Range isn't real. There's a quite a bit of "mistaken about some simple and easily demonstrable facts" in this thread that I don't have time or inclination to go through and correct. I may pick on some random points later for fun, when it seems less derailing.

289:

In modern English usage, it is a mildly insulting term for people from the USA - usually referring to the kind that are thoroughly ignorant about anything outside their immediate area (geographically and in other ways). The fact that it is the same word as a pubic wig is a bonus :-)

290:

#234 - There is evidence that the Celts were in Scotland and Ireland. (or do you want to argue that with Peter Berresford Ellis?)

#259 and #270 - Agreed about what a rack is. We have several of them at work, inhabited by private networks. Subject to having a suitable desk, you could use a rack mount design device to replace a tower.

#278 - I suspect that may be a comment on your box; I share an office part-time with a rack, which is not noticeably noisier than a tower system.

#280 - In this context, let's remember too that Sealion was abandoned because the Luftwaffe signally failed to "sweep the RAF from the skies".

#281 - OK, need to study more US Constitutional history.

291:

A two-hour commute ?acceptable"?

It depends very much on who you ask. There really are a significant number of people in Australia who commute at least that long each way every day. I personally think that's evidence of a disturbed mind among those who choose it, especially for the ones who drive themselves the whole way.

My choice has always been to move closer to work or find another job. The question I'm faced with is whether I can find another job or rent a better house, because right now neither are really to my liking. But I was faced with a 90 minute each way commute so I moved (amusingly it was the same via public transport, private car or by bicycle... you don't have to be very "inner city" in Sydney for car average speeds to drop to match bicycles).

Admittedly there are some who have it forced on them, either because they are rural and that's the job that's available, but if they're lucky if it's seasonal work at high wages (sadly government action for force wages down has largely eliminated those jobs). But others are "encouraged to find a job" by the government giving them the choice between that and starving to death. Australia has both savage means testing of benefits and a whole heap of "austerity measures" and "incentive to work" garbage imported from the lunar right (people who honestly believe that with 100,000 unemployed and 20,000 jobs advertised they could all find jobs if they wanted to, for example).

292:

A no-deal Brexit poses a threat to toilet paper supplies ...

I laugh and can summon no sympathy for the Little Englanders and UKIP shouters who may be trapped in the smallest room.

293:

Donald Trump self-incriminating for an impeachable offense live on TV wasn't totally implausible, once you get beyond the bizzaro universe competence inversion implied by putting a deeply stupid mobbed-up New York property spiv in the White House,
Did anyone notice Donald Trump threaten his own side by saying "they should investigate Pence"? We now have the spectacle of a mobbed-up guy indirectly threatening his 'business partners' with ratting them out to the feds, if he goes down. How is that going to work?

Mobbed-up people threatening with the authorities makes them a rat and mobsters take a very dim view of rats, even potential rats.

The Donald is clearly losing his marbles as is his clone The Boris!

PS:
Another thing about lost marbles is the epidemic spectacle of older men (almost always it is men), some of them even controlling billion-dollar fortunes, have access to nuclear weapons and all manner of spec-ops at their disposal or serve and protect them, and yet they are loosing their shit in public over one 16-year old girl, Greta Thunberg. What a Show of Leadership we have here?!

294:

In this context, let's remember too that Sealion was abandoned because the Luftwaffe signally failed to "sweep the RAF from the skies".

I'm pleased to discover that Google can still find the old essay Why Sealion is not an option. There are many takes on this subject but I rather like this one from the dawn ages of the internet.

295:

> (Norway at least had deep-water fjords for ships and U-boats and airfields within bombing and paratroop range of Scotland: it also secured access to the Baltic).

There were other, industrial factors in play as well. In short, there were grand plans to turn Norway with its abundant hydroelectric power into a large aluminum factory, which was to be used for airplanes. Norway also had a world class supply of molybdenum, used to temper steel for weapons manufacture.

296:

SS @ 294

I LURVE the phars at the start of that:
"Getting it to a workable state requires so many changes that an author's artistic license would be revoked."

Which brings us back to sacking the script-witers ....

297:

The fact that it is the same word as a pubic wig is a bonus :-)

Given the type of American the term usually refers to, there is an amusing parallel between their actions in covering for certain politicians and what the wig covers…

298:

P J Evans @ 247: The part of US70 that I've been on (Plainview, TX to Las Cruces, NM) was nearly all two-lane. I seem to recall it was multi-lane in towns and the few cities it went through. You have to enjoy looking at flat land, though, for most of that trip.

Funny you should mention that. I grew up in Durham, NC and during that time US70 was a two lane road through there. When I was in grade school (mid to late 50s), there were still traffic lights on US70. The city parks & recreation sponsored summer day camps (for kids who couldn't go to sleep-away camp) that started with a morning swim & then a gaggle over to a community center on the other side of the highway.

Nowadays that part of US70 is buried under I-85 (the same way I-40 overlays Route66). Plug 36.016969, -78.895887 into Google Maps to see where the traffic light used to be. The pool is gone from Duke Park, and Park View Baptist Church sits on the site of the old community center, which is doubly funny to me, because that community center was where I learned to dance.

I've driven US70 from Las Cruces to Alamogordo. Turned south onto US54 there because I wanted to photograph something I'd seen in El Paso on a previous trip.

Actually, I've driven US70 in a lot of different places between Atlantic, NC and Globe, AZ.

299:

whitroth @ 250: There won't be a civil war. The worst it'll be is sort of the Branch Dildonians, multiplied by 10.

For one thing, they're mostly not geographically co-located. For another, they're way outnumbered by the rest of us. And finally...

... for another thing, they have most of the guns.

It could be a bit messier and less one-sided than you think. One of the lessons they learned from Waco & Ruby Ridge was to infiltrate the U.S. military. I believe Truth, Justice and the American Way will prevail, but it ain't gonna' be no cakewalk.

300:

A clear sign of how bad things have become when we no longer judge on whether countries have inhuman methods of dealing with undesirables (aka "concentration camps") but rather on a sliding scale of how "good" they are.

301:

Not quite. A pubic wig is pronounced "merkin."

An American who is ignorant, etc., is pronounced "maarehken" with a very heavy accent on the first syllable. And you can hint, just a tiny bit, that there is a leading "a" sound, which means you end up with "ahMAARehKEN," in which case the first syllable is just faintly aspirated.

302:

Report Here stating that milliomaires & above are now paying LOWER taxes in the USA than ordinary Joes ...
Wonder if that will finally penetrate to them that votes Rethuglizard?

303:
someone you could sit and have a beer with

Which is another bit of irony - GWB has been teetotal since 1986.

I don't know when Trump stopped drinking (or even if he ever started) but his brother Fred Trump Jr. destroyed his life with alcoholism. One of the few life lessons that Trump seems to have learned is that alcohol = bad news.

304:

whitroth @ 266: Pence was in on that phone call, along iwth Barr (US AG) and Pompeo (State). They are *all* guilty.

I think the correct form of address would be, Madame President Pelosi....

Agreed, but who's gonna' bell that cat?

305:

whitroth @ 268: Costa Rica... that's where I heard, for years, that Americans could move there to retire, cheap living, get social security.... Lot of Americans there....

Murder rate has gone up recently. That's become a bit of a problem.

306:

Elderly Cynic @ 289: In modern English usage, it is a mildly insulting term for people from the USA - usually referring to the kind that are thoroughly ignorant about anything outside their immediate area (geographically and in other ways). The fact that it is the same word as a pubic wig is a bonus :-)

Technically, when referring to THOSE people, you should repeat the letter 'k' three times - 'merkkkin - so there's no confusion with that other bit.

Or if you want to be particularly offensive 'merKKKin just to drive the point home. And don't forget the apostrophe.


307:

Charlie Stross @ 137: “The clamshell with dual screens is ... interesting.”

I’ll second that for the keyboard dedicated screen. Texting on my iPhone is a bugger even going horizontal with the screen for the keyboard. I'm always pressing the wrong letter half the time.

308:

Oh, did I forget to mention how LOUD a rackmount server is? 4-6 fans, they *really* crank up a) during boot, and b) when the server is under *serious* load? [1]

Trust me, working in a machine room is Not Fun (nor the HVAC blowing on your head at about 15mph). The worst I had it was last year. We had some major repair work done in our small supercomputer, which was in the actual datacenter. The FE and I walked in around 13:10. Around 16:10, we went out, her to feed the meter, me to get a manual, and were back in about 10 min. We walked out at 18:10, as I recall, with our brains melting. We hadn't used the disposable earplugs by the entry door, because we had to talk to each other... Gee, servers have two sounds: the hum of the fan, and the whine of the motor....

Oh, also, you really don't want to put it under a couch, unless you want it to die, quickly. It needs a clear airflow... nor do you want it warm, or a wall, behind it.... They have temperature sensors, and will shut down if it gets too hot.


Oh, and I'm amused by "you can replace a tower with a rackmount". You can... and the smallest rackmount *starts* with the kind of hardware a tower *ends* with. *How* many cores and how much RAM does your tower have? Oh, and does it have a BMC (basically, a separate small computer that you can use to remotely power off/on, etc?


309:

Please. There are a *lot* of us who have been utterly appalled at the militarization of US police forces. The way I see them here, bullet-proof vest, gun, bunch of other stuff, they look paramilitary, not like the old cop on the beat.

310:

California? Like Roman Britain?

Right, I can see it now, a general appointed by the Governor, leading the National Guard against the wackos coming in from the east, and, oh, yes, the "2nd Amendment" types....

Ah, yes, General Arthur... and his small tanks, colloquially referred to as knights....

311:

ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!

So... no shit?

312:

It will be messier, and a lot of sabotage... but part of the thing is that all these Brave Defenders of the 2nd Amendment are 99% overwhelming egotists, and their "organizations" will tend to fall apart under stress of really going out to attack their perceived enemies, rather than sitting holed up in their compounds.

Come on, who is going to be their leader, giving orders? Faux News sure ain't....

313:

For one... y'know, Billy Graham, the late preacher, said, in an interview, he did not ever remember walking on a beach with the Shrub... which was what the Shrub remembered in him going dry.

A lot of folks have seen the Orange Nutcase as something called a dry drunk. And, of course, that says nothing about his coke usage.

314:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Police_State_Pittsburgh_G20.jpg

I look at that and I see the heavily armed police from 1990s cyberpunk miniatures*, that at the time seemed over-the-top and clearly the mark of a dystopian world. One more indication that we are living in a cyberpunk world (taking the 'consensual hallucination' of cyberspace as a metaphor, cyberpunk is a depressing good prediction).

Interesting that even with all the gear, police officers still feel threatened by a girl blowing bubbles :-/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/woman-who-encountered-officer-bubbles-sues-police/article584339/

Canadians shouldn't feel terribly smug — the G20 taught us that the police are quite willing to use authoritarian tactics against ordinary people, and to lie to their civilian oversight about what they are doing. (And it's telling that legally police are civilians, and yet internally they use that term for ordinary citizens as distinct from themselves.)

And interesting read, especially for Torontonians, is Alok Mukerjee's book Excessive Force — talked about in this article:

https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2018/03/24/g20-policing-fiasco-left-a-permanent-emotional-scar-former-police-chair-writes-in-new-book.html

*Shadowrun Corporate Police from the FASA miniatures packs, if memory serves.

315:

I was with friends in Britain long time back, and we made a point to visit Hadrian's wall. We got up on top - it was an easy location to do that - faced south, and gave them the one-finger salute, being barbarians, by Roman standards. (Some of my more recent ancestors were from north of the Wall. It seemed logical, at the time.)

316:

A lot of folks have seen the Orange Nutcase as something called a dry drunk. And, of course, that says nothing about his coke usage.

Carrie Fisher had things to say about Donald's sniffing problem. What can I say? I'm willing to trust her knowledge of recreational drug use. *grin*

317:

whitroth
Lots of shit, just no paper ...
Like the old, rude song to the tune of: "Oh dear, what can the matter be?"

318:

Heteromeles @108:

I discovered the history of the Opium Wars even later, and I'm still shocked.

Well, mate, as I grew up in the UK school system in Hong Kong (one of the few Yanks attending Peak School atop Victoria Peak), and never heard Word One about the Opium Wars, not at any time, there -- which was cheeky as all hell, because there wouldn't have even been a Hong Kong without them. Long years later, back in the USA, when I finally did some remedial reading, I was not only gobsmacked in reading about the Opium Wars, but prepared to volunteer my services to throw all the foreign devils clear out of East Asia for decency's sake -- and thus belatedly understanding how and why China proper feels about that.

When the 99-year lease on the New Territories expired on 1997-07-01, and Britain was allowed to save face by pretending as if it didn't have treaty rights to HK Island, Lantau Island, and the Kowloon Peninsula in perpetuity but just couldn't figure out how to supply enough fresh water without water pipelines from Guangzhou, I'll admit I laughed with the boys in Beijing and said 'Good.' (Not that the Special Administrative Region arrangement isn't anything but doomed to slow and painful tragedy. I fear for my home town, every day.)

Rick Moen
rick@linuxmafia.com

319:

Elderly Cynic @289:

In modern English usage, it is a mildly insulting term for people from the USA - usually referring to the kind that are thoroughly ignorant about anything outside their immediate area (geographically and in other ways).

Just so.

I'd say it's also more used by Americans about those Americans than by others about Yankdom, as we roll our eyes and mumble to ourselves 'Oh, Great Ghu, I really do wish I'd been cowardly enough to just sew a red and white maple leaf patch to my knapsack, and pretend to be from Vancouver, so as to not be associated with this embarrassment.' I always take my lumps and, if pressed, admit to US citizenship -- but softly point out that occasional Yanks stand out from the herd by having actual manners, willingness to shut up and listen, willingness to attempt other languages for diplomacy's sake, ability to find a first-floor flat, and even knowledge of how to correctly pronounce 'schedule' and 'Marylebone'.

No frellin' Marmite, though. There are limits.

320:

Nojay @202:

Hawaii does have an Interstate highway

Three, in fact, the H1, H2, and H3, all of which are on Oahu. All possible jokes have long ago been made and recorded for posterity whenever posterity gets really bored.

321:

Is it too soon for me to RANT about the stupidity of LOCAL government?

322:

Since nobody responded to tell me not to, I'll take that as a no.

I live in Raleigh, NC - Population 465,000. The surrounding "Research Triangle" area has a population of over 2 million. There are still LOTS of jobs in downtown Raleigh due to state government & all the companies that want to do business with state government having offices there, so there are LOTS of drivers coming into downtown in the morning and wanting to get out of downtown in the evening.

I live in a residential neighborhood; half a dozen streets 3 E/W, 3 N/S - kind of a Tic-Tac-Toe pattern; speed limit 25 mph; only one street has a sidwalk. I walk down the street when I go to walk the dog. No biggie, it IS a residential neighborhood.

I was 25 when I moved in and I've been here 45 years. I was young and all my neighbors were old. Now most of the neighbors are similar age that I was then. Lots of kids. Demographics are changing.

One of Raleigh's major thoroughfares passes within a couple of blocks of my house. The city started "work" on the street a couple of months ago. Tore up the surface (that thing where they grind up the top layer of asphalt) a couple of months ago and had done no work since then (other than putting up traffic cones around the sinkhole they created when they uncovered a missing manhole that had been paved over years ago).

Until yesterday morning, when they blocked off about 7 blocks of the street. No detour signs or any direction for the incoming commuters; forcing angry commuters to find their own way around the blockage. I go out to walk the dog and I'm confronted with angry, frustrated drivers speeding down the streets where I live, busting the stop signs and generally menacing anyone/everyone on foot (including the kids trying to get to the school bus stop).

And the police department won't even send out an officer to try to calm the situation. I counted seven drivers in a row running the stop sign up the block this morning in as many seconds.

Anyone know where I can find industrial strength caltrops?

323:

Sorry, I have a different feeling about it. I find the humidity, esp. around my eyes, gets high when I think of it.... In '14, we came over for Worldcon, and put over 1000mi (yes, really) in 8 days on the rental car, partly because we went to Wales, and partly to go up there. I could tell my kids that their grandfather had told their grandmother how amazing he found it, during the War, to walk on the Appian Way, 2000 years later. He was at the heart of the Empire, and I was literally standing on the Wall at the uttermost edge.

324:

Not only trust her knowledge of drug use... but I mean, come on, would you doubt the word of the Princess who was leading the Resistance?

(And yeah, there were a lot of pics and references to her on signs carried in the first few demonstrations....)

325:

Don't know the rude version... and the version I sing is

Oh, dear, where can the matter be,
When it's converted to energy
There is a slight loss of parity
Johnny's so long at the fair.

326:

Ok, I'll bite: how *is* 'Marylebone' pronounced? Maybone?

327:

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Google how to get somewhere. The first part of its reply was to walk to the Appian Way (well, Via Appia), and catch a bus from there.

Damned bus never turned up, but that's Rome for you.

Every now and then I remember that the road through our small rural town had at least one Roman Emperor pass along it, and I boggle. But in Rome itself, there'll be roads where the majority of them passed multiple times. The weight of history there gets me.

One day I'll get to visit Hadrian's Wall properly. I've seen it from the road a few times, but it was only this year that I first visited my family's ancestral village (a short hike to its north).

328:

Actually the "uttermost edge" of the Roman Empire in Britain, as far as a fortified border went, is Antonine's Wall a bit further north, running across the Central Belt from the Clyde to the Forth. Saying that there were established Roman army camps further north of that, in places like Ardoch in Perthshire supporting marching routes up the eastern side of the Highlands. Some of those camps were in existence in the same place for a couple of centuries.

There's a lot less left of Antonine's Wall today than the more substantial Hadrian's Wall so it's not as well known.

329:

Some people say something like that. There are several other possibilities. I found a list of them once. I pronounce it "Marry le bone", which turned out to be somewhere in the middle of the list. Or sometimes "Mary Lebany", "Marrile bone", or some other way which definitely isn't on the list at all but is more fun.

330:

Oh dear, what can the matter be
Three little old ladies locked in the lavatory
They were locked in there from Monday to Saturday
And nobody knew they were there.

Can't remember how it goes on but each little old lady gets a verse describing her particular predicament.

331:

I understand your frustration, though are you sure it is the city to blame or is it the private contractor that presumably was given a contract to do the road? Or a combination of both?

As for the lack of police interest, sadly quite often true no matter where you are given that the number of officers per 100k people has typically been dropping over time so they often don't have an officer to spare (at least until someone gets injured/killed and the political heat goes up).

332:

Our local government is where all the acid casualties from the experiments at the local looney bin ended up when it shut. They do stuff like:

- Insist on paving the High Street to a shitty standard, much lower than they use for any other road in the city, so it gets chewed up by the delivery trucks to the shops on it, while the surrounding and much more heavily trafficked streets don't; periodically re-pave it, to the same shitty standard, again and again, without ever learning what they're doing wrong; try and make out it's the trucks' fault, and think it would be a good idea to ban them, never mind what the shops are supposed to do without any deliveries; and moan about the repeated expense.

- Don't bother to do any maintenance on the town swimming pool, until it is in such a state it has to be "temporarily" closed; moan about the half a million quid they've let the backlog pile up to, and pither around for a few years over whether to spend it or just not have a swimming pool at all; then suddenly get the idea that 1.3e7 < 5e5, and find it no problem at all to spend the much larger sum on replacing it completely with a new pool on a different site which isn't "in town" at all.

- At the same time as the above dithering is going on, happily spend some millions on changing a large traffic island with a grassy centre about 15m across (O) to a squashed thing less than 5m across (| and covering the released space with concrete; utterly pointless, but they think it's the best thing they've ever done and still can't shut up about how brilliant they think it is and what a wonderful improvement it's made to the town centre.

Nor do they ever do anything which is not marked by the same degree of moronic unreality.

333:

whitroth @ 326
Mar-lee-bone
The other killer for USAians is: Leicester - pronouiced ... "Lester"

Pigeon @ 330
OK
The first lady's name was Elizabeth Draper,
she went inside & found no paper,
she ended up with a Bricklayers' scraper
... & nobody knew she was there ...

... alomst as incompetent as the London Borough of What the Fuck, then? (LBWF)

334:

whitroth @326: There's actually some variation in how people in Blighty pronounce 'Marylebone',. That's reflected here with two audio samples:
https://howdoyousaythatword.com/word/marylebone/
I usually hear it pronounced closer to the first sample. (Of course, as a mere upstart Californian, I'll gladly yield to guidance by any Londoner, in this matter. My long-ago residence on Trinity Church Square in Southwark doesn't quite signify.)

The general rule for UK pronunciation of words applies: 'If we borrowed it from the French, we must alter its form of utterance such that they will be infuriated.' Therefore, under no circumstances would a self-respecting Brit pronounce the wordlike Its 'Marie le bon' original form.

335:

A couple of small matters: (1) The Nanking Treaty grant in perpetuity (but quite reasonably contested later by China as being one of the Unequal Treaties) covered HK Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, and Stonecutter Island, but not Lantau Island as I stated upthread.

Lantau is most familiar to modern visitors as the location of the impressive new international airport, replacing the infamously dangerous Kai Tak Airport in Kowloon that my dad flew out of for Pan American World Airways. It's a quite large and rural island that sadly I never got a chance to visit when I was a lad on HKI.

Lantau Island was part of the 99-year lease on the New Territories that expired in 1997. Britain had leased that additional ring of land adjoining the Kowloon Peninsula primarily as a coastal buffer zone against South China Sea pirates. And, the word I heard leading up to the 1997 handover is that drinking water really was the major stumbling block: A pilot project attempted to add capacity by building a coffer dam across two island peninsulas projecting into the sea, to create a new reservoir, but projection were that the rump colony would still be critically dependent on China for drinking water without the New Territories, Lantau Island, and other small islands reverting in 1997.

(2) A few years ago, transiting on a long flight via Heathrow, my wife and I had an overnight layover at one of the airport-adjacent hotels. She sacked out, whereas I couldn't miss the opportunity to revisit where I used to live in Southwark during Ted Heath's administration, and so took the Tube into town, to revisit old haunts along Borough High Street. Upon return to Heathrow Terminal 4, just before walking to my hotel, a native Londoner asked help finding the Underground station, and I was not only delighted to comply but also added a few Murrican drawling overtones to my usual Midwest/California accent. Score!

336:

"The other killer for USAians is: Leicester - pronouiced ... "Lester""

I heard tell of one of the breed pronouncing the next town down the line as "Loogabarooga". Which I think is brilliant so now I call it that myself :)

337:

Milngavie near Glasgow is pronounced "Mulguy". Oddly enough, old ceramic bottles dating from the Victorian period my Mad Friend Norman and I found while snorkelling in the loch near to the town had the name as "Mulguy" embossed on them. This may have been a literacy thing, the bottles held some kind of ginger beer concoction marketed at the lower classes.

338:

Some of us actually are aware of that one. And "Wooster" (which tends to get misspelled as "Worchester". *sigh*)

339:

> Heteromeles @108:
>>I discovered the history of the Opium Wars even later, and I'm still shocked.

> Well, mate, as I grew up in the UK school system in Hong Kong (one of the few Yanks attending Peak School atop Victoria Peak), and never heard Word One about the Opium Wars, not at any time, there

I was shocked, horrified and embarrassed to be British after my first visit to the HK History Museum in Kowloon, which (in ~2004 or so) has quite a lot about the Opium Wars.

Nowadays of course I'm still embarrassed to be British, thanks mostly to (a) Boris, and (b) the weapons business.

340:

darkblue @339: There's enough of that to go around. I spent long years as a regular contributor on Philippines Linux User Group's main mailing list (despite being a Californian of Norwegian & English antecedents, who has yet to visit the islands), and what probably helped them decide I'm OK is when I expressed lingering anger and shame over my own country having chased the fathers of Philippine independence across the jungles of Luzon to assume the unwanted-overlord role from Spain and suppress the independence movement -- after allegedly arriving to liberate the islands. (Well, the fact that I knew some of the poems of José Rizal didn't hurt, either.)

One interesting historical tidbit: The squalid Philippine–American War of 1899-1902 got hastily settled on pretty benevolent terms (for those days, at least) in part because the American Anti-Imperialist League lead by Mark Twain, William Jennings Bryan, Andrew Carnegie, and other prominent public figures raised such holy hell in public about that war's immoral origin and goals that President McKinley pushed for a quick and peaceful settlement and get the issue off his political agenda. Twain was famously almost a one-man brigade against the war, e.g, there's a collection named A Pen Warmed up in Hell of his newspaper essays in protest, and my goodness was that powerful rhetoric.

To be clear, the US-dominated regime in Manila created following President Aguinaldo's surrender was far, far less than independence, but has usually been described as enlightened for its time. True correction of the situation didn't happen until after Filiipino and American soldiers fought and were imprisoned side-by-side in the war against Imperial Japan, after which public sentiment dictated that the islands be given back their sovereignty (a process already underway starting 1916 but interrupted by the war, and finally concluded in 1946).

A list of countries in the weapons trade ranked by sales volume is interesting. The UK is only #6, the majority to Saudi Arabia and Oman. The USA remains of course the worst offender, with the latest offence to the conscience being the country's fueling of the Saudis' depredations against Yemen.

341:

Our local government is where all the acid casualties

If only you lived in a democratic country you could stand for election to local government and use your obvious passion for such things to improve the situation. Or even stand at a national level and influence the environment that local government operates in.

And if wishes were horses the devil would drive a landrover.

342:

Whereas in Australia we use modern and sensible spellings like Woolloomooloo and Marayong which are pronounced as they are spelled. With a few oddities like Melbourne (pronounced Melbun or Melbin) and Eastbourne (pronounced East Born) because after all we do spik inglesh ere mate.

343:

Off topic - Splinter has ceased publication as of yesterday.
Now where will I find my daily dose of trumpocalypse-watching?

344:

Rick Moen @ 334
Ah, like the village near me: Theydon Bois
Pronounced: Thayydon Boys

Let's not get started on the sheer improbability of some English / Welsh / Scottish place-names, shall we?

345:

Australia has plenty of weird place names. I ran a small project in Dumaresq Valley, which was pronounced "jew merrick" (no valley). Getting stuff delivered (stuff like ISDN links) was a challenge. The other end terminated at the office on Goonoo Goonoo road (which lead to the town of Goonoo Goonoo), pronounced Gunna-ganoo

346:

Now where will I find my daily dose of trumpocalypse-watching?

Apparently everywhere. The ongoing Trump dumpster fire is once again dominating the news cycle - and his flunkies can't throw each other under the bus fast enough.

347:

Well, if people want to play "unpronounceable place names", I live in an area where most place names are originally Scots Gaelic or Old Norse. Will the rest of you just concede?

#334 - Bien sur monsieur. C'est "Marie le Bon"! :-)

#342 - Really? So why do you keep spelling "Hirta" as "Saint Kilda"? ;-)

348:

Pigeon @337 I went to uni there, and to be fair, that was the humorous nickname for it. Although we actually tended to write "Lufbra" everywhere except on formal documents, because life's too short and the place name is not.

349:

to Heteromeles @105

One MoFo of am appropriate payback for the Opium Wars, considering that China's currently supplying a majority of the carfentanil and fentanyl to the US.

There's no real reason to look so far down into history to see the reason US is so screwed over drug deals. There's always one common root - war, corruption and colonialism. Despite all the warnings, all the attempts to resolve the situation, US remains in Afghanistan, and Afghanistan remains major producer of the stuff. And if it wasn't enough, this stuff costs money. A LOT OF MONEY.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47861444

It is so simple and well known that I can not imagine how many billions of dollars went into cover-up of the situation that is happening in plain sight for decades and nobody ever bats an eye on it. Frankly, there's enough outrage of such "policy" that I would say if US is hit by that "epidemic", it serves them fxxking right. And there's no need to be shy about it.

https://www.insideover.com/society/the-golden-triangle-returns-to-shine-china-flooded-by-heroin-traduzione.html
https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2013/05/26/russia-fights-addiction-to-afghan-heroin-a24400

to Charlie Stross @135:

I mean, do you really believe those Chinese chemical factories selling cheap carfentanyl via Silk Road or other Darknet outlets and shipping to the USA are unknown to the Chinese government?

Hardly those contributions, going over the maritime US borders controlled by Coast Guard and dozens upon dozens of surveillance and intelligence agencies have any comparable impact to medicine that is sold completely officially, by prescription and in quantities that would put 19th century English colonialists and imperialists to shame.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opioid_epidemic

Another words, you should never underestimate people's ability to screw themselves over in a ways that are impossible to even imagine for their worst enemies. The irony of the situation makes me want to chuckle maniacally.

Meanwhile, liberal media is going head over hills over some companies that did not agree with their Chinese policies. Funny to see same people to contribute the growth of Chinese economy to "free marked" and "liberty" and "capitalism" only to double down on "communist government" which doesn't want to fold to their demands.
https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/10/apple-removes-app-hong-kong-044008

Well, considering current "free market" situation... shooting their legs with Huawei wasn't enough yet, so maybe chopping them with a great axe will improve the situation.

350:

mdlve @ 331: I understand your frustration, though are you sure it is the city to blame or is it the private contractor that presumably was given a contract to do the road? Or a combination of both?

I'm sure it is both, but ultimately it's the City's responsibility to adequately supervise the contractor and it's definitely the City's responsibility to manage traffic along the "detour", which is not even marked as such - there are just barricades where the road is closed leaving it to the individual drivers to find a way around the closure.

As for the lack of police interest, sadly quite often true no matter where you are given that the number of officers per 100k people has typically been dropping over time so they often don't have an officer to spare (at least until someone gets injured/killed and the political heat goes up).

I would have more sympathy towards that argument except for another recent incident where a major thoroughfare was closed by an accident leaving drivers to find their own detour around the scene, merging three lanes down into a single lane that could turn off at a traffic signal.

When I finally managed to get to the intersection I witnessed a half dozen (or more) officers (5 Police Dept SUVs on scene) standing in a circle, with their backs to the traffic jam watching the fire department try to clean up while the wrecker drivers tried to extricate the vehicles and completely ignoring the traffic jam behind them (which tailed back more than a mile from the scene.

Not one single officer was doing anything to direct traffic around the accident scene.

To be perfectly honest about it, thinking now I'm hard pressed to figure out what the Raleigh Police officers actually do, other than forget to turn on their body-cam before shooting some unarmed citizen running away from them.

351:

I'm in California. We have some winners of our own. "Port Hueneme" is usually good for confusing the tourists. (The second word is pronounced "Wye-knee-me".)

352:

Greg Tingey @ 333:whitroth @ 326
Mar-lee-bone
The other killer for USAians is: Leicester - pronouiced ... "Lester"

I knew the Leicester/Lester one. It's like Worcester is pronounced "Wuuster"

353:

One going the other way. In Middle Georgia, Houston County is pronounced "How-stun." Nothing to do with the city in Texas.

354:

gasdive @ 345: Australia has plenty of weird place names. I ran a small project in Dumaresq Valley, which was pronounced "jew merrick" (no valley). Getting stuff delivered (stuff like ISDN links) was a challenge. The other end terminated at the office on Goonoo Goonoo road (which lead to the town of Goonoo Goonoo), pronounced Gunna-ganoo

Bet y'all don't have a town named Lizard Lick (pronounced just like it's spelled).


355:

I hear that if you approach the border crossing from Ontario and claim to be from 'Tow-RAHN-tow', you are regarded with disbelief because anyone actually from there would have said 'Tah-RAH-nah'.

Near me, the City of San Francisco bedevils visitors with 'Noe Valley' ('KNOW-eee') and Gough Street (rhymes with cough, I kid you not).

Of course, we partially mangle some of the colonial Spanish place-names, possibly the worst affected being 'Los Angeles', properly pronounced as ''Lohs AHN-hell-ehhs', as attendees of the Prix Victor Hugo Awards Ceremony in 2006 (Glasgow) may recall.

paws4thot @347: Old Norse names as an Ultima Ratio Regum against furriners? Could work generally, but we Viking-decendants would remain a nuisance. When European airspace was shut down because of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano's ash emissions in 2010, and my countrymen complained about the impossible name, I replied 'Sorry, can't see the problem. It's eyja=island, fjalla=mountain, and jökull=glacier, pronounced exactly the way it's spelled. What's so difficult?'

I'll concede the frightening effect of Scots Gaelic, for now, albeit my understanding is that my Norwegian cousins have no problem meeting halfway in oral conversation with residents of northern Scotland, during visits. (Because bloody Vikings.)

356:

Regarding when Eyjafjallajökull emitted all that ash, it wasn't just European airspace that was impacted... myself and Dear Hubby got to spend time with OGH and his Loving Spouse, because that same cloud ended up stranding us in Japan.

On pronunciations: Dear Hubby is Dutch, and we've been married just over 30 years by now. We'd travelled together to the USA for fan events, and we reduced some of our NYC friends and hosts to laughter whenever I tried to pronounce the names the way I'd learned... from studying & speaking Dutch.

There were at least a couple of fans who thought I was making fun of them (I wasn't!!) because I'd automatically was pronouncing (mostly sur)names as close as I knew in those names' countries of origin. *wince* Ooops.

357:

Clean-up in aisle 356...

Oh *argh*

"Because I'd automatically was pronouncing pronounce

(Slinks quietly away to her corner, muttering she really ought to have known better....)

358:

Ah yes, Gaelic - take a word, delete at least half the letters entirely, replace two thirds of the remaining letters with completely different ones, and you might be getting close to a spelling which does sound at least a little bit like what it's supposed to sound like.

It is said that the spelling is actually very nearly phonetic, but I suspect this is only true if you have never had any contact whatsoever with the Roman alphabet being used for any other language at all.

359:

Scott Sanford @346:

The ongoing Trump dumpster fire is once again dominating the news cycle - and his flunkies can't throw each other under the bus fast enough.

More and more, I get recurring flashbacks to the main private-college-preparatory high-school entertainment of my freshman year, the cresting Watergate scandal of 1974, having been, in the preceding election, the lone George McGovern supporter in my class among the mostly rich brats rooting for Nixon and CREEP. (I said, following the landslide election, 'You'll be sorry, just wait.')

The differences are of course profound and unsettling. Unlike Nixon (or Bill Clinton), the Toddler-in-Chief is like a monkey with his paw stuck in a jar, totally obsessing on impeachment, enemies everywhere, and probably his Precious Bodily Fluids, and thus completely unable to talk or think about anything else, even though the few competent advisors he has left keep telling him to STFU and talk about anything else. And of course there's far, far less assurance that key parts of the framework (such as the courts and Senate obeying their oaths of office, not to mention the rotten-from-the-head Justice Department) will function. One thing that's a lot like 1974 is the bracing tilting of polling results against the president. Which itself is making the jar-obsessed monkey even more insane.

A good argument can be made that the entire last three years have been a subtle plot to make Nixon look utterly wonderful.

The Nosferatu (I mean Giuliani) story keeps upping the ante on implausibility. Now, it turns out that he didn't hire the ex-Soviet Thomson and Thompson (er, Parnas and Fruman); they hired him! And the reason they were all about to flee to Vienna is that's where fugitive-Ukranian Putin-money-bagman natural-gas oligarch Dmytro Firtash[1] currently lives under house arrest. Possibly, they were headed there to get Uncle Vlad's latest orders for the Toddler-In-Chief.

More and more, comedian John Oliver's term 'Stupid Watergate: a scandal with all the potential ramifications of Watergate, but where everyone involved is stupid and bad at everything' is looking less like a gag and more like base reality. In particular, the current jibe about Rudy Nosferatu is that, when you hire him as your attorney, he can skilfully negotiate down your parking ticket to manslaughter.

[1] Highly recommended reading, to understand how Firtash, Ukraine, the invasion of Crimea and Donbass, and Putin's frustrated oil-and-gas aspirations fit into recent disruptions everywhere: Rachel Maddow's just-released book Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth. Even Maddow has been surprised at how timely her work has proved, of late.

360:

I hear that if you approach the border crossing from Ontario and claim to be from 'Tow-RAHN-tow', you are regarded with disbelief because anyone actually from there would have said 'Tah-RAH-nah'.

TRAH-nah. Or TEE-OH.

361:

Pigeon @358: I will not speak to Scots Gaelic, but my wife, who following our marriage answers to the sonorously two-thirds Hibernian name Deirdre Saoirse Moen, explained to me why Irish Gaelic spelling seems so utterly confounding: She says that Irish [Gaelic] written orthography was something of a committee compromise that semi-matches each of the four predominant Irish dialects in the Gaeltacht, throwing in a few vowels here and there as a sop to each of them.

(As she's of Irish and Swedish extraction, while I'm Norwegian and English, our standard explanation to friends is that we're obliged to take turns being each other's colonial oppressor.)

362:

darkblue @343:

Now where will I find my daily dose of trumpocalypse-watching?

As Scott Sanford implies, the challenge is in contending with the embarrassment of choices, and finding the degree of gobsmacked incredulity that suits your preferences.

On the slightly scurrilous and way-too-heavy on the editorialising side, but occasionally insightful, there's PalmerReport. Expect to skim a lot, to find the nuggets among the dross.

Malcolm Nance's Twitter stream has high S/N and relevance. He's a no-bullshit ex-USN intelligence expert and Washington insider whose sane and well-informed comments I consider essential.

A one-stop review of each day's Toddler-in-Chief insanity can be found at What The Fuck Just Happened Today?.

And you can always have a nice cup of chamomile tea and read well-considered, intelligent, political-broad-church observations at The Atlantic, which I think my near-neighbour Laurene Powell Jobs over in Palo Alto (widow of Steve Jobs) bankrolls for its useful role as an intelligent neutral ground and reminder that mishegoss is not inevitable.

363:

Greg Tingey @333:

almost as incompetent as the London Borough of What the Fuck, then? (LBWF)

It looks me some pondering by this dodgy ex-South Londoner to decipher said nickname for London Borough of Waltham Forest, way up north at the North Circular Road (and continually polluted and blighted by it). Well played.

364:

The street in Manhattan is also House-ton.

365:
"Port Hueneme" is usually good for confusing the tourists. (The second word is pronounced "Wye-knee-me".)
Mais bien sur. How else could you pronounce it?
366:
Cities also make people’s mutual interdependence much more plain.
Cities, as I think pterry pointed out, are where people are polite and civilised.
367:
The Surface hardware is really rather nice
apart from its tendency to explode into a thousand shards of broken glass if you breathe on it.
368:

Well, that means that some day now I'm going to try to read the Guardian and get the dread HTTP error 451 - Unavailable For Legal Reasons.

Hell I'll probably get the same reply from Antipope.org.

369:
I, personally, don't think that there's any necessary racism inherent in blackface.
Are you black? Because if you aren't it's not your decision to make.
370:
I'd prefer treating the synthetic heroin addicts the same way we've treated minorities in the past
What, death camps? You can't do that they're white.
371:
On the face of it seemingly Switzerland, [...] stayed neutral and managed not to get invaded by any of the sides fighting WWII.
Switzerland was so neutral it insisted that German armored columns traversed the country only under cover of darkness.

I've met older Swiss who were still bitter about the effects of the economic embargo the allied powers imposed after the war in retaliation for that. (It didn't last long).

372:
Online maps are the bandwidth-killer; you really need 3G or 4G for that.
On Android the simple solution for that is Open Street Map, thee OSMAND app lets you download vector versions of the maps that take very little space. Free for 3-4 countries. In my experience more up to date/trustworthy than Google, and if you find an error you can fix it yourself.
373:
you can just have the rackmount box on its own, which is only a few cm thick, and put it under the sofa or some other convenient but otherwise useless bit of unoccupied space.
Traditionally an IKEA "LACK" occasional table. Google "lack rackmount".

(Minor problem -- most rackmount machines are *very* *very* loud).

374:
and gave them the one-finger salute, being barbarians, by Roman standards
The Romans were barbarians -- they didn't speak Greek. You were merely uncivilised.
375:

Well, see. My curiosity is to find out how many wrong color people would need to end up in prison before we actually changed the drug laws. I am perfectly willing to run a live experiment. And would, if elected, make any attempt to deal with the ophoid epidemic contingent on exactly that...see... forgetfulness and forgiveness would be lovely a few decades after the minority population in prisons had actually gone down. Personally, I'd also prefer incidence related policing. (So, if 15% of abc are drug dealers and 10% of xyz are drug dealers, but the prison time spent by xyz is, on average, 3x as long...as I recall, non hypothetical, but mostly rooted in poor people being easier to arrest.) Well, you could try to address disparities in sentencing, representation, et cetera, or you could just up the policing of the underrepresented. So, triple arrests for drug offenses in primarily Caucasian regions and increase by probably 100x in wealthy regions. It would probably also solve most of the police murder disparity. Do I sound bitter? It would definitely end the drug war.

From a pragmatic perspective, yes, people would suffer...but...the advantage of adhering to a uniform rule of law is that we don't continue with an idiotic drug war. Allow exceptions and then minorities always get the shaft.

@whitroth. Gun control would be lovely. But, there is not a national consensus sufficient to pass a constitutional amendment. And...I often fail to feel much urgency towards stopping a middle aged maga supporter from killing himself. I really do consider it a personal failure, but, meh, priorities.

One thing I have maybe not expressed clearly is that, overall, jokes, at least among minorities, about rural dwellers, are, um, much kinder than the veiled assessment. More dangerous and evil than stupid. I am really looking forwards to a spread of California style politics to the rest of the country. Funny part is, it appears likely that being less racist costs Republicans votes, so the transition may be pretty abrupt - there has been a real change in CA. Not to progressivism, but to something perhaps less actively malevolent. Give it a decade and Texas flips.

376:

or you could just up the policing of the underrepresented

Ah, but then taxes would have to go up because prosecutors would be dealing with people who can afford lawyers, and mostly good lawyers at that. Success rates would also go down as a consequence. It's a much more effective use of police and court time if they focus on those least able to defend themselves.

This is also why the US doesn't invade China to impose democracy and freedom there.

377:

"Gough Street (rhymes with cough, I kid you not)."

That's how the name is usually pronounced, Shirley. (Edward) Gough Whitlam, Australian PM from '72 to '75 is the main example here. Most people also pronounce Vincent van Gough that way (acknowledging it's slightly different in Dutch).

378:

..and the reason they are loud is they make a lot of heat, which the loud fans are there to extract into the "hot aisle" in the datacentre. If there's no cold air coming in from the other end, the waste heat is not being extracted, and the thing is under a sofa, there's a decent risk it will start a fire.

379:

Damien @377:

That's how the name is usually pronounced, Shirley.

Admittedly. Still, it's an endless source of local amusement for San Franciscans, watching auslanders attempting to guess. 'Goo' is a particularly common bad guess.

380:

Your proposed solution to "disparities in policing and sentencing" ignores the fact that those disparities are the entire point.

The rationale for criminalizing narcotics and waging a continuing war on drugs in the USA was to give the white ethnostate another tool for beating down on the non-white and poor demographics. The US prison system as it currently exists (especially in the South) is a outgrowth of the slave plantation system. To the way of thinking of the good ole' boys who came up with this system, if you're not allowed to own slaves any more, there needs to be a work-around: so the post-1865 work-around was to have the state own the slaves and rent them out to whoever was willing to pay for the labour.

Add in "care in the community" and the wholesale replacement of secure hospitals for the mentally ill (or just plain inconvenient) with prison, and, well, I'm not going to believe the USA is even trying to get over its racist legacy until we see not only decriminalization and harm reduction policies on drugs, but also mass prison closures, and an end to private prisons and for-profit prison labor. Remember, the USA jails about ten times as many people per capita as the UK—the leading carceral system in the EU.

(NB: this isn't to suggest that the UK is a whole lot better—we have our own problems with institutional racism in places like the Home Office.)

381:

You might think that this was excessively cynical:
It's a much more effective use of police and court time if they focus on those least able to defend themselves.

But today I learn that it is the explicit policy of the IRS.

https://www.propublica.org/article/irs-sorry-but-its-just-easier-and-cheaper-to-audit-the-poor

The IRS audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%. Now, in response to questions from a U.S. senator, the IRS has acknowledged that’s true but professes it can’t change anything unless it is given more money.

ProPublica reported the disproportionate audit focus on lower-income families in April. Lawmakers confronted IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the emphasis, citing our stories, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Rettig for a plan to fix the imbalance. Rettig readily agreed.

Last month, Rettig replied with a report, but it said the IRS has no plan and won’t have one until Congress agrees to restore the funding it slashed from the agency over the past nine years — something lawmakers have shown little inclination to do.

On the one hand, the IRS said, auditing poor taxpayers is a lot easier: The agency uses relatively low-level employees to audit returns for low-income taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit. The audits — of which there were about 380,000 last year, accounting for 39% of the total the IRS conducted — are done by mail and don’t take too much staff time, either. They are “the most efficient use of available IRS examination resources,” Rettig’s report says.

On the other hand, auditing the rich is hard. It takes senior auditors hours upon hours to complete an exam. What’s more, the letter says, “the rate of attrition is significantly higher among these more experienced examiners.” As a result, the budget cuts have hit this part of the IRS particularly hard.

382:

So... allow the IRS to keep a proportion of what they collect... a proportion which is zero below a certain threshold, and goes up by the cube or something above that.

383:

(That's threshold per taxpayer, of course, not on the total they collect.)

384:

Cough. It turns out that auditing the rich is significantly cash positive. (fact, albeit unsourced). It would be perfectly pragmatic to privitize auditing the rich, while letting the businesses keep a few percent of the results. :) Heck, no real reason you couldn't treat it like asset forfeiture for the police...well, maybe not. At least one IRS employee was really frustrated because auditing poor people was mandated to restrict audits of the rich.

@stross Yes. Those proposals are more venting than sensible policy. But. Wait a decade or two. The Republican party is dead in California. Within 2 decades (but it could happen anytime really), the Republicans will be dead in Texas. (There comes a time when voter suppression isn't enough, then the new guys remove the voter suppression and you end up going from even to 45-55. And, there isn't a fallback. Lowered racism probably reduces more turnout than it persuades. Now, the Senate will hold out a while longer... So, at that point, we'll be faced with stasis. And I really would advocate jailing a few million ophoid addicts until the red senators got behind ending the fricking war on drugs. At this point, it really is just smile, organize, and wait. It isn't rational or right, but, meh. Afterwards, I sort of favor even-handed of enforcement of the law until people get more sensible. That said, Republicanism may be dead in CA, but elitism is probably higher than elsewhere. Meh. But, eh, we actively resist coming to terms with racism here. I hope the orange guy is a last scream before death, but it will realistically take decades. Once racism is less of a factor in national politics, some progress might be possible.

Albeit, the last study I checked indicated that, overall, for the US, when considering state and federal prisons, incarceration is mostly driven (5/6th?) by violent crime. So, meh. We'd really need to come to terms with releasing violent offenders in an effetive way.

385:

That can't work. Even politically, the deal is that the tax department is hated but tolerated because they want what's right, not everything they can get. Especially in a country like the USA where corruption is assumed everywhere, one of the few things the IRS has is a residual reputation for fairness.

One response is, yeah, but the rich broke their side of the deal first. Once wholesale tax evasion is the norm there's no deal left, what matters is how much the IRS can get and to hell with notions of fairness. That's a very old view of taxation, and I fear we're going back there at a rate that is perhaps not obvious to the casual observer.

What I see is large companies making the switch from more classic "we're an entirely legitimate company using the tax law to maximise profit" (1970's multinational) to explicitly and overtly "we DGAF what your stupid law says, we're not paying you any tax" (modern multinational, especially techbro ones). The response to that *has* to be brutal, one way or another. Nationalisation is impossible, but blocking is just expensive. Given the choice between seeing your country gutted by multinationals or damaged by excluding them ... hey, hi there Russia, how's it going?

It's interesting hearing from local minions who are on silly money (more than 5x the *average* wage) about how their company offers to arrange their pay such that tax is minimised. The smarter ones realise that that is done for the convenience of their employer rather than the staff. But they're also aware that they're riding the line and sooner or later it will end, probably in the form of a letter from the tax office indicating their actual pay and the actual tax payable and please supply the missing tax... they do not expect their employer to care, help or even acknowledge that there is a problem. The one saving grace might well be the Australian tradition that tax is paid by the employer, and missing tax payments is an issue between the employer and the tax department. But when the employer is offshore and refuses to discuss it what happens?

386:

I can speak Latin - but not Greek. So I'm still a barbarian.

387:

One of the problems is that the enforcement side of the IRS has been systematically defunded over the last 20 years. They don't have the people or money to take on the 1% (or especially the 0.1%).

388:

According to D. Jones pronunciation dictionary, there are five different ways of pronouncing Marylebone:

'mærələbən,
'mærələboun,
'mærəbən,
'mæribən,
and
'mɑ:libən

(all pronounciation given using the IPA... hope they'll display properly)

389:

moz @ 385
"we DGAF what your stupid law says, we're not paying you any tax"
Or any other law, like employment ... Uber is the expolitative poster-boy for this.
Hopefully, they are going to come expensively unstuck in London, quite soon.
[ Both the GLA & HMRI are after them & there's a Supreme Court case pending on "Employees" ]

390:

That's a great name. No Lizard Lick here.

391:

Britain does have Wyre Piddle though.

392:

Not to mention: Twatt.

393:

Oh dear ... OK
Steeple Bumpstead ....
Shellow Bowells

Pratts' Bottom

394:

Albeit, the last study I checked indicated that, overall, for the US, when considering state and federal prisons, incarceration is mostly driven (5/6th?) by violent crime.

Or inability to pay fines. Look at Peter Watts for an example: convicted of failing to follow instructions of a police officer, which is an automatic felony. Given choice of paying fine or jail — and at the jail he'd have been charged for room and board. Had enough money to pay the fine, otherwise would have ended up wit jail time and a debt. And failing to pay fines and charges is another crime…

And this was a northern state, not a southern one.

Set against that, I discovered when debating gun control with my brother-in-law that Canada's low rate of gun crime (relative to the US) was there before we had any gun control at all*. There's something about US culture that allows/accepts higher rates of violence.

*We have gun control now, but I'm not certain how effective it is given how long a border we have with the US. It probably keeps the military weapons out, but handguns are pretty easy to get illegally here. Most handguns used in violent crime in Toronto were smuggled in from the US.

395:

Bell End
Shitterton
A range of Bottoms, from 2 to 6 miles in size...

396:

I see BJ is making further attempts to import a big American problem into the UK:
Boris Johnson accused of using Queen’s Speech to rig result of next election - The PM is planning to make showing photo ID compulsory in order to vote (Mikey Smith, Nicola Bartlett, 13 OCT 2019)
Massive differential disenfranchisement of non-conservative voters is functionally equivalent to massive voter fraud by Tories. (Votes reduce to integer counts.) The US has been fighting battles over this for years, with the "conservatives" mostly winning so far, and also packing the courts with partisans to lock in their anti-democratic measures. It will take some extreme (as in violation of the some of the remaining existing norms, at the least) measures in the US to reverse and/or soften these anti-democratic rules/laws/measures.

397:

acckkk "whole number counts". Though some politicians wouldn't mind if vote counts of their opponents could go negative.

398:

Unfortunately, s'an easy answer. And, basically the same one every time. If you see something weird in US politics, 80% of the time, it is pure racism. There is probably an additional admixture of dislike for federal government, based mostly on interference with, oh well, racism again.

'We need guns to defend against the hordes of brown folk.' see NRA. I also suspect that something about the original immigrant mix was a bit half-baked. Memories, possibly inaccurate, of Europe shipping its dregs to the US - probably doesn't help, but may explain part of the failure of the rural US. Not sure it is actually true.

My recommendation (jk) - build a wall. :)

For the prison population, overall, as far as I could tell (google skimming) - it is mostly violent crime. Decreasing the population would require changes in sentencing, support after release, et cetera.

399:

And from my old neck of the woods: the River Piddle, and Puddleton (which used to have an 'i' instead of a 'u'.

400:

Meanwhile
An outbreak of pure Romanticism & possibly an-almost-zero-Carbon method of trading specialist goods.
As seen here
I foresee two problems ...: One - paying decent wages, given the cost/benefit
Two: SAILING across the Bay of Biscay, posssibly in winter, um ....

401:

Robert Prior @394:

Although the December 8, 2009 incident that Toronto SF author Peter Watts endured was pretty squalid, I don't think you have the facts quite right.

(1) His conviction was for assaulting and interfering with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the Blue Water Bridge crossing from Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan. Assaulting a Federal officer is indeed a felony
(18 U.S.C. § 111). That same section also makes it a felony to 'forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interferes with' specified Federal officers in the performance of their official duties, including border guards.

Peter claims that all he did was emerge from his car at the border crossing, repeatedly ask 'What's going on?', refused to get back into his car when ordered, and admitted to having had some sort of 'physical altercation' with a border officer, one Andrew Beaudry. He was then punched, and then ordered to get onto the ground, which order Peter again refused, instead standing and saying 'What is the problem?'. Beaudry then pepper-sprayed, handcuffed, and arrested Peter. If a true account (and I see no reason to disbelieve him and witnesses who support his recounting), the response was pretty eye-raisingly jackboot-enabled behaviour from the Michigan-based border officers, but it's sadly true that resolutely refusing to get back in your car when border officers order you to, and refusing to get onto the ground when ordered to, does legally constitute interference with USCBP. You don't have to 'follow instructions of a police officer' categorically in the USA any more than in any British-derived legal system, but refusing lawful orders like 'Get back into your car, now!' or 'Get onto the ground!' from a border officer is a criminal act, full stop. I devoutly wish USCBP had been more tolerant or the judge had let Peter off with a warning, but it looks like Peter's criminal act was real (and I've known since age 5 that you must watch your step at an international border crossing, any international border crossing).

(2) You are correct that 43 US states attempt to charge inmates for the cost of their imprisonment, a pretty wretched effort to soak the poor. (I happen to be well informed about this scandal because ACLU, of which I'm a member, follows it.) Albeit, it is incorrect to suggest that this is exactly like debtor's prison, i.e., you cannot be given more prison time if you cannot pay jail or prison fees. The state may attempt to collect the alleged debt, i.e., sue the prisoner or ex-prisoner. Most often, the state doesn't make that attempt, reportedly, in the general case of inmates who don't have much.

However, the Federal prisons do not implement such practices, and Peter was convicted and fined on a Federal, not state, charge. Hence, no, he would not have been hit up for 'room and board', if incarcerated on that charge.

(3) You are definitely entirely incorrect that failure to pay court-ordered fines is another crime. This can, however, result in additional jail time pursuant to the terms of the original conviction.

402:

“incarceration is mostly driven (5/6th?) by violent crime”
Given what you say, what fraction of that “violent crime” is robbing a liquor store and how much is disobeying an officer while darker and/or poorer than Watts? And how much of the sentence is due to the offense, and how much is enhanced by an inability to pay bail and/or fines?

403:

Robert van der Heide @402: Not a complaint, but your response was not to my comment #401 as shown in the metadata, but rather to Erwin's comment #384. I gather that you probably hit, in error, the Reply control on my posting rather than on Erwrin's.

404:

Should have been clearer I was linking them. What you wrote in #401 casts doubt on the reliability of the classification “violent” refered to in #384.

405:

Some further minor details on the Peter Watts, in case any are interested:

1. This was a random customs inspection on his crossing back into Canada. At the end of the arrest, he was released on the Ontario side of the border crossing (but faced indictment and trial subsequently in Michigan).

2. During the trial, Peter's very competent attorney Doug Mullkoff eviscerated most of the claims of border guard Beaudry and his slack-jawed colleagues, and the downright shoddy work of prosecutors. But that left Peter with one serious problem:

3. The conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 111 was a contentious one, handed down by a jury after 5 1/2 hours of deliberation. Reportedly what swung the jury against Peter was the second of two incidents in a row of failure to comply with a border officer's order, the one where he refused to get onto the ground. But for that, the case probably wouldn't have even been charged.

U.S. Circuit Court Judge James P. Adair dug in his heels at the notion of jail time, largely because the jurors reached out to him and said they felt that incarceration would be ridiculous in this case. Peter reported that in Adair's sentencing proceeding in July 2010, all jail time was waived (rejecting the presentencing report, which had recommended a 6 month sentence, with 60 days suspended upon payment of court costs) provided he paid a US $500 fine plus assorted court costs totalling US $1128. He claims he'd have had to serve his term, if he elected incarceration in St. Clair County (MI) jail, which he says attempts to collect from inmates US $60/day for room and board. He might be correct about a handoff to state incarceration on a Federal charge; this is outside my wheelhouse, but it seems surprising.

406:

Hoping this isn't too much legal neepery, but to clarify: Judge Adair's sentencing order was suspended sentence of 60 days' jail time less any time served, with the jail sentence waived if Peter paid the US $500 fine and US $1128 court costs. So, Peter could either hand over US $1628 and go home immediately, or serve something short of 60 days if he would not pay the fine and fees, after which he could go home and St. Clair County and the District Court would consider him a debtor for jail room/board and fees/court costs, respectively. He reasonably elected the latter option, peeling off some of the US $2000 cash he had with him

Of course, now with a felony record, he is barred from further US visits absent Feds acting to set his persona-non-grata aside, which unfortunately is unlikely.

As what I hope is a useful contrast, I had my own encounter with a somewhat overbearing cop in 2010 while coping with an absurdly horrific situation at my aged mother's house. (My wife blogged some details, a couple of year later.) Short version of background: My sister, her thug husband, and their younger son moved into Mom's house in 2006 and squatted, continually refusing to move out when Mom demanded this. For years, I drove 150km there a couple of times a month to help Mom pay her bills, file her bank statements, and deal with any correspondence. Sister and thug hubby kept scheming to take over Mom's finances and control physical access to her house, towards which the thug periodically threatened me with violence. I just avoided conflict and persisted.

The threats became worse after Mom revised her will in 2009 to restrict Sis's inheritance in response to her brood's squatting, etc. In the 2010 incident, after the thug's latest threat to 'beat me up' had failed to scare me from the premises, I was startled to look up from Mom's office desk, where I was doing paperwork again, to see a police officer. She told me Sis and thug, who were then being spoken with by her fellow officers, had called the PD to complain about my presence, and that as 'residents' (I said 'You mean squatters?') they wanted me to leave. I was unimpressed, and detailed how I was present at request of the property owner, who was now napping upstairs, that I was doing her business by expresss invitation, and that I would be leaving when done doing her business and passing desired social time with the property owner, and not before.

(I should stress that attempting to use the police as a weapon in intrafamily disputes absent, say, physical violence, is Just Not Done in my professional-class California Scandinavian-American family. I can only assume that this ploy was suggested by the thug, who is a not-very-bright cracker from the Florida Panhandle, where presumably this sort of trailer-trash scheming and attempting to seize the rights and property of the elderly is routine business.)

The officer eventually hauled out what she imagined to be the ultimate weapon, and said 'If you don't leave, we'll just have to bring everyone down to the station to sort this out.' (Oh, noes! Not the station!) Whereupon, I visibly relaxed, smiled broadly (the officer's expression conveyed 'Oh-oh'), and said serenely, 'You could do that, but then there will be one hell of a lawsuit.' She asked me to please wait while she summoned the officer in charge and asked me to repeat for his benefit, which I did. Whereupon, the whole squad vacated without another word.

Point is, you never, ever physically resist peace officers or disobey their apparently lawful orders. (I would certainly have gone to the station, while telephoning my attorney, keeping careful notes, and politely declining to answer questions.) What you do is keep your powder dry, make no problematic statements or provocative actions, and then take their entire departmental budgets in a subsequent tort action -- and that's why what I said, when accompanied by otherwise scrupulously compliant actions, were Words of Power.

407:

Hard to say - and I definitely don't know. Even going by sentenced crime is hard - prisons list the worst crime pled to and courts often plea bargain away larger offenses....there are doubtless better studies than the ones I have found...

That said, by comparison to, eg, Finland, US sentences for property and violent crimes are 3-9x longer, which goes a fair way to explaining much of our disparity. Then, assume doubled crime rates and you get to 7x+, which is close to the multiplier.

408:

Being an incorrigible law geek, I dug a bit more on the Peter Watts case. On his blog, he made reference to one of the jurors having written a letter to Judge Adair saying she was 'worried about the way in which 750.81d could be used as a club against the innocent'. Reference is to a section of Michigan's state penal code making assaulting, obstructing, etc. certain officers of the law a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. But Peter was tried in U.S. District Court, which is a bit confusing. I'm left unclear on whether he was indicted on state or Federal charges, or both. But that's where the range of possible sentencing appears to have originated, in Michigan's statute.

409:

Further law geekery: A commenter on Peter Watts's blog commented that it appears untrue that Peter's felony conviction bars him from future entry to the USA, as Immigration and Naturalization Act section 212(a) bars persons convicted of crimes only if it's a crime involving 'moral turpitude', a conspiracy to carry out same, or violation of controlled substance laws.

It's possible there's more to it (I'm no lawyer, let alone an immigration lawyer) -- and, it's possible that Peter Watts would just rather not risk further encounters with US border officers. If he's inclined otherwise, though, he might wish to ask an attorney's advice.

410:

One other note...CA and NY have substantially reduced their prison populations. (~25%). Some red states are still increasing.

To be fair, even some Republicans recognize that the incarceration rate is an abomination.

411:

In other Stupid Watergate surrealistic news: A congresscritter from Floriduh, Brian Mast Republican from the 18th District -- SE Florida below Miami, plus the Florida Keys -- tweeted this morning on the 244th birthday of the US Navy: 'Happy birthday to the US Navy! To the men and women who serve to keep our waters safe, we thank you.'

Below those words was a nicely staged lateral view of a battlecruiser, overlaid with the words:

'Happy Birthday
U.S. Navy

Brian*Mast
U.S. Congress'

Unfortunately for Representative Mast, the battlecruiser in question turns out to the the Russian Federation's heavy nuclear missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy (named for the tall 18th C. chap better known in the West as Peter the Great).

Yes, all due gratitude to the Kirov-class flagship of the Northern Fleet, as it does its patriotic duty patrolling the Barents Sea, the better to keep US waters safe.

412:

it's possible that Peter Watts would just rather not risk further encounters with US border officers

Given his attitude and behaviour that would seem sensible.

Border crossings are fraught at the best of times, and the US is busily working its way up the scale from scary to terrifying, even for many US citizens. It's one thing that puts me off about the US in particular.

Albeit the "we have to stop flying" issue makes it a bit moot, Australia being an island and all that.

413:

_Moz_ wrote:

Given his attitude and behaviour that would seem sensible.

Concur. Because:

Border crossings are fraught at the best of times....

Amen. Having visited, e.g., Romania during the Nicolae Ceaușescu regime when merely walking through the Bucharest or Constanța airports was a study in concentrated anxiety, what with teenage farmboys waving AK-47s everywhere, I kept being reminded that you were well advised to watch your step, keep your mouth shut, and do whatever anyone in uniform tells you to do -- both there and at any other international border. This really isn't difficult to figure out.

Back in the late 1980s, my then-employer elected to send me to (don't laugh) undergo some technical training at CompuServe headquarters in Columbus, Ohio for a couple of weeks, and somewhat recklessly footed the bill for an unlimited-mileage rental car. I telephoned my courtesy-uncle Fred in East Lansing, Michigan, and proposed dinner somewhere between us. Looking at a map, I proposed Windsor, Ontario, in part because at that time I'd never visited Canada, despite a lifetime as an airline brat. So, at the end of that business day, I junketed across Ohio and Very Lesser Indiana to Detroit, Michigan, where the Ambassador Bridge crosses the Detroit River southwards to Windsor, ON.

I motored up to the Ontario border official on the bridge, keenly curious about what I'd be asked about by our esteemed neighbours. The officer looked very skeptically at my rented Ohio car, my California driver's licence, and my US Passport. There was a long pregnant pause, and he said:

'You know, we don't let you bring guns into Ontario.'

I'm sure my face was the very picture of bogglement, and also working really hard to stifle my traitorous sense of humour, that might have forced me to say 'Well, darn, will you help me unload the boot, then?' Instead, I blinked a few times, said 'Right. Understood, sir.' Another long pause, and he waved me through, probably because that level of astonishment cannot be faked.

(I'm sure the poor man has encountered all too many Murricans who think nothing of toting their blunderbuses across international borders, or who don't entirely believe the latter are real, or both. So, I was and am far from taking offence. I was just bewildered.)

414:

I've crossed a lot of borders (for an Australian I'm sure your average European has many more) including ones engaged in active shooting wars, military checkpoints and in/out of dictatorships and nothing comes close to the US border. I'm not going into that country again barring something extraordinary.

415:

Bogglement worked for me too.

I flew into LHR near the end of a 6 month cave diving trip. I got the usual "why are you here?" and I explained that it was much cheaper to get a 4 stop RTW ticket than pay for two single fares 6 months apart.

He said that was difficult to believe, and I agreed that airline pricing made no sense to me either.

Much evil eye... Long pause.

"What can you say that would convince me your not intending to stay in the UK?

I did a complete boggle, and said "I'm *Australian*" (like why would I willingly stay on this damp cold little island?)

"Oh, righto, I'll give you 3 months then"

416:

I couldn't agree more. I've crossed a fake border (Moldova / Transnistria) secured by a whole bunch of Russian-looking chaps in Russian army-looking uniforms (weirdly with tape covering where various insignia would be!) with Russian-army issue weapons and it was a calmer and more efficient process than entering the USA.

417:

Reminds me of two more anecdata:

1. My wife Deirdre Saoirse Moen arrived at Liverpool airport in winter weather a few years ago, flying by herself with minimal luggage on an utterly improbable itinerary (SFO to Paris to Johannesburg to Dubai to Venice to Liverpool to Chicago to SFO), and H.M. Border Agency officer looked with overtones of great skepticism at her quite Irish-looking face, US passport, 2/3 Irish name, scanty luggage, and planned two-day stay in Liverpool, and said 'What brings you to Liverpool on a cold and rainy day in January?' She smiled and pulled out her ticket to the special concert scheduled for Sir Paul McCartney the next day, and said she had been a devoted fan of Sir Paul for half a century.

All was forgiven, and suddenly she was a welcome guest with commendable taste in music.

2. Similarly, she once arrived in Bermuda for a scheduled brief stay, and H.M. Border Agency officer was concerned she might be just a penniless American intending to be a public charge. She mentioned being employed as an engineer in the Safari Web browser group at Apple, and he asked if she could prove it. 'One moment', she replied, and hauled out a first-generation iPad engraved on the back with Steve Jobs's signature.

'Say friend and enter.'

418:

American Citizen with American passport here. I was once (a few decades ago) on entry taken to a room and interrogated by 2-3 men for what seemed like 10 minutes at the time (as currently remembered). Just why are you traveling, what do you do for a living, etc. My story ever since is that I shared a name with a national labs weapons scientist. (True (not related) and they have
special travel rules.) Not sure though; may have been on their name-radar for some other reason.

419:

I've been turned back at a non-border (North Cyprus) for the crime of having a surname that looks like a Turkish name - I 'should' have traveled from Turkey, rather than planning a day-trip from Nicosia. Fortunately wasn't a border that anyone recognized at that time, so I don't have to declare it when entering actual countries.

420:

#418 and #419 Having the same name as someone the US doesn't like is a scary thing. A friend of mine has the same name as a moderately famous US whistle-blower/traitor. He lives in a tiny Australian country town (the sort where no one locks doors) at the end of a dead end road.

One night, shortly after said famous person disappeared, in the middle of the night, many men in black, with black balaclavas and automatic weapons poured into his house through every door and window. None of them spoke a single word. They shone a torch in his face, looked through the house for a few minutes and then left as silently as they arrived.

I've known him nearly 40 years and to my knowledge this is the only wierd story he's ever told and I have no reason to doubt it.

There's a whole world out there that operates on a different plane to the rest of us. I don't think any of us would have thought that a spy on the run would be using their real name and real address for things like drivers licenses nor would we think storming the house of everyone going by that name with zero attempt to hide would be worthwhile. But that's the alt reality of the professional spook.

421:

The only time I've ever been even remotely bothered at International borders was the very first time .... going from Belfast to Dublin in 1965.
On arrival at Amiens St station, the Garda/Customs people wanted to know .... "if I was carrying any contraceptives".
Amusing ... the following year, crossing from the Netherlands to Germany, for the first time, at an obscure post in the middle of nowhere ... couldn't give a toss about passports, but did we have a "Green Card" ( Which in those days meant international motor-insurance cover )

422:

#356 and #357 - If it helps, I do the same.

#358 - You forgot "...completely different ones, add 2 or 3 extra ones at random intervals to follow the pronunciation rules, and you might..."
So yes the spelling is "nearly phonetic" but you have to memorise the pronunciation rules to know which letters are only there to modify the pronunciation of another one for that to be true.
Oh and Gaelic claims to have only 22 letters in the alphabet; as an example, "TAXI" is spelled "TACSI" but pronounces the same.

#361 - That sounds plausible.

423:

Border crossings are fraught at the best of times, and the US is busily working its way up the scale from scary to terrifying, even for many US citizens.

Having not been to the US since 9/11, I can't comment on what it's like now from personal experience. In the 90s it was just a matter of showing my driving license to the nice chap at the border and getting his advice on the best route to Bloomington.

In this millennium I've visited China, Mongolia, Iceland, and Greenland; the border officials were polite and the process smooth.

424:

Erwin @ 375: Well, see. My curiosity is to find out how many wrong color people would need to end up in prison before we actually changed the drug laws.

Generally, they won't put you in jail for having prescription opioids as long as you can find a quack who will keep writing you prescriptions.

425:

gasdive @ 390: That's a great name. No Lizard Lick here.

When I first encountered it back in the 60s, it was nothing more than a wide spot on US 64 we passed through going down to the beach at Nags Head. The town was so small they only had to use one post to mount both "city limits" signs. It's grown a bit since then.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Lizard+Lick,+NC+27591/@35.8164066,-78.3840562,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89ac469ad0bad99d:0x9e071c9dd944ba5f!8m2!3d35.81639!4d-78.37528

It's grown so much it has its own Wikipedia entry.

Looking at the map now, I wonder why we ever went that way on US 64? NC 98 went due east from our house, & joined up with US 64 near Bunn, NC and going through Raleigh to pick up US 64 added an extra 10 miles to the trip (using the highways that existed back in the 1960s).

426:

Rick Moen @ 408: Being an incorrigible law geek, I dug a bit more on the Peter Watts case. On his blog, he made reference to one of the jurors having written a letter to Judge Adair saying she was 'worried about the way in which 750.81d could be used as a club against the innocent'. Reference is to a section of Michigan's state penal code making assaulting, obstructing, etc. certain officers of the law a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. But Peter was tried in U.S. District Court, which is a bit confusing. I'm left unclear on whether he was indicted on state or Federal charges, or both. But that's where the range of possible sentencing appears to have originated, in Michigan's statute.

It was a difficult read, possibly due to "incoherence ... on prescription painkillers", but as best I can figure out, the juror's letter to the judge makes no reference to any specific laws state or federal. The reference to the Michigan Statute came from Watts himself and I suspect he doesn't know the difference between state and federal laws.

All the evidence I'm aware of is he behaved like a jackass, got himself arrested and is mad because he was convicted. By his own account he behaved like a jackass again at his sentencing. Sounds like he got off more lightly than he deserved.

427:

Bill Arnold @ 418: American Citizen with American passport here. I was once (a few decades ago) on entry taken to a room and interrogated by 2-3 men for what seemed like 10 minutes at the time (as currently remembered). Just why are you traveling, what do you do for a living, etc. My story ever since is that I shared a name with a national labs weapons scientist. (True (not related) and they have special travel rules.) Not sure though; may have been on their name-radar for some other reason.

I've only traveled internationally twice since 9/11 (funny how you even though in the USA we put it month/day and the whole rest of the world puts it day/month, if you say "nine eleven" everyone knows what you're talking about ...) round trip from Iraq to Scotland in 2004 and round trip from the U.S. to China in 2010.

I didn't have any hassles with "customs" going or coming on either trip, and that includes going through the checkpoint from Hong Kong to Mainland China when I handed the inspector a plastic bag full of 35mm film cassettes and asked him to hand inspect them and NOT put them through the X-Ray machine (included my last two rolls of Kodachrome - final day of processing was 4 days after I got back home to the U.S.)

I barely remember having to go through customs when I arrived at Rein-Main in Germany. I just caught a taxi from the air base side around to the commercial airport side where I did have to show my passport to get into the part of the airport where the departure gates were located. The flight I was on from Germany to Scotland landed somewhere in England (Birmingham?) and we all got off and went through some kind of passport control checkpoint, and got right back on the plane.

On my return I had to change flights at Heathrow and there was another passport check to get into the part of the terminal where my flight back to Germany boarded. Back in Germany I had to find a "courtesy phone" to call the air base & they sent a van to pick me up to take me back over to the military side of the field.

428:

JBS @426:

All the evidence I'm aware of is he behaved like a jackass, got himself arrested and is mad because he was convicted. By his own account he behaved like a jackass again at his sentencing.

Yes, he really did, didn't he? Even at the sentencing, he lacked the situational awareness or plain common sense to just make a brief statement that he was dreadfully sorry for his part where he'd repeatedly ignored lawful orders from a border guard, had learned what a serious tactical mistake that had been, and would never do it again. Anyone with even a particle of sense would have, and I'm sure his very competent attorney advised him to say exactly that.

I certainly can't complain about the sentencing being unjust, and his legal guilt was self-evident from the admitted facts. The sentence was on balance rather mild. The whole thing was just regrettable and not a great look for anyone concerned, including US border guards whaling away at a gangly and physically slight middle-aged writer just for standing on the bridge asking questions rather than following guards' orders. Even as a senior sysadmin, I'm not that fond of jackboots.

429:

I know Peter. His account is rather different. It's important to note that he isn't a "gangly and physically slight middle-aged writer"; at least at the time, he was over six feet tall and ripped. (Also, only barely qualified as middle aged.) The border guard in question, in contrast, was about five foot nothing and noted for a severe attitude problem (think in terms of small guy syndrome). Peter wasn't able to get on the ground in ten seconds flat when ordered to because he was still processing having been punched in the face.

This sort of thing is why I no longer visit the USA regularly. It's too fucking scary.

430:

Oh, border officer Andrew Beaudry is definitely a thug with a screw loose, whose worthless ass should have been fired long before the incident, and doubly so when he and (if I understand correctly) other members of his squad lied outrageously, under oath, to a Federal judge.

Thank you for the correction about Peter's physique. I was going by blog postings from someone who attended the trial, and who described him as slight and (attempting to quote from memory) '160 pounds soaking wet'.

431:

Also left out of the story: said ground was slush and ice, this being a parking lot in the middle of winter. Having been raised in Canada, it would take me more than ten seconds to process "you want me to lie down in icy water, in the middle of winter" even without being punched in the face. Wet clothing is crap at insulation, and in winter insulation can be the difference between life and death.

After the kerfuffle, Watts was left on the Canadian side of the border, without winter clothing (which was in the impounded rental car), in the middle of the worst blizzard in several years. If Canadian border security hadn't broken their regulations and let him into their (closed) facility he might have frozen to death. (The OPP warning for that storm were basically "stay home, stay safe". It was a nasty one.)

And I wouldn't describe Watts as "ripped". In good shape for a chap in his 50s, yes, but not with the prominent muscles that "ripped" implies on this side of the Pond.

432:

These points about the second order equating to 'lie down in slush during the worst blizzard of the season without anywhere to get out of the elements afterwards' would have been an important thing for Peter's attorney to stress to the jury. Probably, none of us here was in that courtroom, so don't know what the jury heard, and whether they heard this reason why someone hearing the order would be incredulous and confused to hear it. The fact that they reportedly were swayed towards conviction by Peter failing to follow the second order suggests maybe the lawyer failed to harp on that.

The fact is that, in any contested trial, the quality of the lawyering, the persuasiveness of what's laid before the judge or jury, matters a great deal. I learned this during the murder trial of Linux kernel coder Hans Reiser, over across San Francisco Bay from me in Oakland, accused of murdering his estranged (and missing) ex-wife. I was intrigued by this because (1) I'd met Reiser socially a couple of times, and was having a difficult time picturing him committing brutal murder, and (2) this was a very rare example of a murder charge going to trial even though there was no body and not even evidence that someone was deceased.

Every day of the trial, I read the in-person coverage from the attending Wired and S.F. Chronicle reporters, and summarised them for our local Linux user group. All the way through to where the jury handed down a first-degree conviction instead of the second-degree conviction requested, my best guess had been that prosecution hadn't been able to make the case, and that because proof beyond a reasonable doubt was necessary, and there still wasn't even compelling reason to think Nina Reiser was even dead, that he'd be acquitted.

When that shocking jury verdict arrived on a Friday, I knew that either I'd missed something vital, or that the jury had gone completely off the rails -- and I said so to my readers. It turned out, I'd missed something vital, which was the experience of actually being there instead of reading journalists' dispatches. It turned out, Reiser had insisted on taking the stand during the trial's final three days, tried to talk his way glibly out of everything, and had convicted himself -- something not apparent from the coverage. The jury had correctly assessed Reiser from his own extremely self-sabotaging and unbelievable presentation: After spending the weekend in Alameda County Jail pending transfer to prison, on Monday he offered to take searchers to the body burial site if he could bargain down his conviction to second-degree murder. And thus, it was finally clear that justice had been done.

I was chastened about being so wrong, but said this is the reason criminal trials get decided by juries or judges, and not by hangers-on over the Internet -- because actually hearing evidence and argumentation is an essential and valuable part of the process.

433:

While at UBC circa 1998 I had a classmate who worked as a border agent both at the border and at the airport. He related a great many tales of US citizens asserting their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms and having to explain that their Holy Amendment held no sway here. Some chose to leave in a huff, which is fine with me.

434:

I will gladly apologise for the parade of officious idiots, Rocketpjs. Sadly, I completely believe your classmate's tale.

435:

I've not had a bad border crossing experience. The most disturbing was entering Hong Kong on a ship during one of the times what people were pirating ships like I was on, sailing into HK, picking up cargo, leaving, dumping the crew then disappearing. The very obviously heavily armed "customs inspectors" and their very intense large dogs were quite emphatic about making sure everything was exactly in order. As a first experience of entering another country it was very different. Leaving Aotearoa by contrast was more about explaining what I was doing and why to a nice lady who seemed more like an inquisitive auntie than an official.

Getting back into Aotearoa has always been the "hardest", meaning that every single time I have to unpack my bags and demonstrate that I have indeed cleaned all the camping and bicycling gear very thoroughly, and I am not in possession of any stray seeds or other vegetable matter. At least that is actually necessary and a good idea...

436:

I wouldn't even try to bring used camping gear into NZ.

When I go I buy a new pair of shoes that I carry and I wear a retired pair (or bare feet) to the airport. I throw the old ones away in the departure lounge and don the new ones just before boarding.

437:

Agricultural inspections are absolutely serious, and for good reasons, in Enn-Zed, Oz, and Chile from my personal acquaintance, those all being biological 'islands' at great risk from transported pests and diseases. Before visiting those places, I even carefully clean my trainers (US: sneakers), before even considering putting them into my duffel.

For one thing, I'm a gardener, and wouldn't want to ferry a pestilence to another land any more than I am happy when other people do that to California, itself a semi-'island' for biota. E.g., California in recent years has had to be under a severe quarantine that bars most transportation of citrus plant tissue, because some idiot accidentally imported to Florida (where else?) around 2005 an insect called the Asian citrus cylid, carrier of a devastating plague called citrus greening disease (caused by bacterium Candidatus liberibacter) -- which plague then moved to devastate Texas orchards, and so we in California are doing everything possible to keep it away from California's trees.

I wasn't entirely aware of this until I asked a friend in an adjoining county for a cutting of his Calamansi (calamondin, Linnean name X Citrofortunella microcarpa, or Citrus madurensis) tree to graft onto mine where the graft died (owing to a mishap with my drip irrigation system) but the host citrus plant is still robust. He replied, sorry, that would violate state agricultural quarantine, and he's right. (In the spring, I will be able to order some disease-free-certified shoots from University of California at Riverside, which takes extra precautions and has a permit to sell and ship in-state.)

438:

Update, in case of interest: By this late date, citrus greening disease, also known by its Mandarin name huánglóngbìng, has now reached some isolated parts of Southern California (in and near Los Angeles), and California Dept. of Food and Agriculture are now working on isolating the invasion, with luck ending it in place, and preventing spread. (Thanks, Florida!)

439:

I wouldn't even try to bring used camping gear into NZ.

Sadly my dominant reason for travel is "go somewhere, ride bicycle there, go home" and buying a new bike+camping kit would be prodigiously expensive - it would be cheaper to pay for storage for a few years between trips. Not that it matters right now, my next flight will be for my mother's funeral and I don't expect that for quite some time.

Cleaning camping gear isn't particularly hard, just tedious. And I'd much rather do it myself than have customs do it for me (with fire!)

441:

For those who like looks at photos of random landscape and stuff, here's one of my visits back home: I start you with a photo of something I found amusing, an unlocked door with a warning sign "risk of battery explosion"... I didn't open the door because that's not the point.

https://moz.geek.nz/mozbike/ride/nz-2004/12-05-leaving/nztour-rolleston-16-moz.html

(there's a bunch of broken links, I'm still ... 5 years later... fixing the site up after moving it)

442:

I love photos of random NZ landscape. Thanks.

Maybe too much actually. I often have to slap myself and stop spoiling rides in Australia with the constant thought "NZ is better".

443:

You're welcome :)

I have some random photos of Oz too. I find it different, although having been mobbed by leeches in Queensland I do sometimes appreciate the difference (on the other hand, "insect mesh" on Australian camping gear is often irrelevant to Kiwi sandflies (biting midges) much to the disquiet of Australians)

This shot of the vicious wildlife about to eat an innocent tourist just wouldn't happen in Aotearoa:
http://www.moz.net.nz/photo/2004/06/18-depot-beach/murramarang-30-moz.html


Albeit a lot more of my Oz photos are the other sort of wildlife with incidental landscape :)
http://www.moz.net.nz/photo/2008/01/01-highandry-all/

I should see if I have any shots of my Uluru trip floating round and maybe put those up too.

444:

Though according to the Steele dossier he's more of a Micturian candidate!


ducks

445:

Rick Moen @ 428: JBS @426:

"All the evidence I'm aware of is he behaved like a jackass, got himself arrested and is mad because he was convicted. By his own account he behaved like a jackass again at his sentencing."

Yes, he really did, didn't he? Even at the sentencing, he lacked the situational awareness or plain common sense to just make a brief statement that he was dreadfully sorry for his part where he'd repeatedly ignored lawful orders from a border guard, had learned what a serious tactical mistake that had been, and would never do it again. Anyone with even a particle of sense would have, and I'm sure his very competent attorney advised him to say exactly that.

By his own account, his attorney advised him not to say anything, which probably was very good advice he chose not to follow.

Charlie Stross @ 429: I know Peter. His account is rather different. It's important to note that he isn't a "gangly and physically slight middle-aged writer"; at least at the time, he was over six feet tall and ripped. (Also, only barely qualified as middle aged.) The border guard in question, in contrast, was about five foot nothing and noted for a severe attitude problem (think in terms of small guy syndrome). Peter wasn't able to get on the ground in ten seconds flat when ordered to because he was still processing having been punched in the face.

What I haven't been able to get a clear picture of is what precipitated that incident, i.e. why did the border patrol agent punch him in the first place?

446:

JBS
Because:
1: He was US Border Patrol ... SEE ALSO this utter insanity & gratuitous shitting on people because they can ....
2: Even given the above, he was known for being an arrogant arsehole, with "small man" arrogance ( Boney, Adolf, Stalin )
3: He felt like it & KNEW he could get away with it.

I still want to know why he was not charged with what we would call criminal assault? ( probably [1] above .... )

447:

One of the jurors reported seeing the agent outside her house, sitting in his vehicle watching the house. Seems odd behaviour for a law enforcement officer to be watching the house of a juror in a case the officer is involved in.

When I've talked to Watts, I've noticed that he seems brutally honest — the kind of chap who'll say "that's not true" to the boss, rather than "that turns out not to be the case". And not shy about asking questions. This may well have rubbed someone the wrong way.

I've got friends who were cops. They independently agree that police now are much more authoritarian, more willing to use force/violence than when they were serving. (One left because they didn't like the changes — wasn't what they'd signed up for when they started a couple of decades before.) This is Canadian police, and American police seem more militarized, and allowed to be more aggressive, than ours. (I wonder if Forcillo would have been convicted in the US.)

448:

Likewise, no bad border crossings. Maybe I’m just sufficiently institutionalised to feel compliant rather than outraged; and I tend not to notice firearms; but Australia seemed more strict than the US, mostly because of the food import rules. And New Zealand had a nice dog that ran around the baggage area and was ever so happy about a rucksack with “Nepal” and “India” patches, being collected by the scruffy and confused-looking young lad with a scrawny beard :)

I’ve also had the experience of carrying guns into America (for my sport; I used to compete in target rifle); which caused some confusion when I realised I’d made a huge mistake in forgetting that my kneeling roll was filled with grass seed. Double-wrapped in polythene inside a leather bag, so not likely to contaminate - but I declared it on the arrival form so it could be disposed of. Anyway, faced with a choice of “should I go via the BATF declaration channel or the Department of Agriculture channel” at Atlanta airport, the BATF took me through theirs and seemed utterly disinterested about the seeds. I took them home again, switched to plastic beads as a filler, and used it as a cautionary tale to younger teammates ever after...

Taking target rifles in transit through Hong Kong (en route to Sydney and Auckland) was fun; even though the team’s cases weren’t supposed to leave the aircraft, the newly-Special Administrative Area customs types insisted on inspecting all of it, on the tarmac under the aircraft, accompanied by a team of police (because, guns). Opening a rifle case that’s just down from 30,000 feet in an unheated hold, on a humid night in the tropics, leads to instant and dramatic condensation. On rifles that were immediately shut back into their cases, put back on the plane dripping wet, and flown to Australia where local customs and event organisers locked them away for the next 24 hours. I was very glad that I’d greased mine for transit, and that there was no rust as a result. Yet another cautionary tale ensued...

449:

JBS @445:

What I haven't been able to get a clear picture of is what precipitated that incident, i.e. why did the border patrol agent punch him in the first place?

With the important proviso that IMO this in no way justifies violence, by Peter Watts's account, the altercation started when Peter exited his car and repeatedly asked something like 'What's going on?' and disregarded Beaudry telling him to get back in his car. Beaudry responded (very excessively) to this lack of compliance by punching him.

Many decades ago, I once made the mistake of exiting my car at the beginning of a traffic stop here in California, been calmly directed to get back in, said 'Yes, officer', and did so, something apparently that many new drivers (and visitors from other countries) do.

On a more-recent occasion, I happened by accident to drive past a major police operation and, for reasons initially unclear, was flagged by an officer to pull over, and detained for about an hour and subjected to somewhat aggressive questions (which I politely deflected, as I had no obligation). In the middle of that, I was told to exit my car, which turned out to for a pat-searching of my person. They questioned in particular my ownership of the vehicle, and tried to give me a hard time over my not remembering correctly the month I bought it. I directed them to my purchase paperwork in the centre console, and said if they had a problem with my ownership title, they needed to take up the matter with California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Eventually, I was told that the issue was that the car's licence plate (UK: number plate) was that of some quite different vehicle, something apparently done by accident at the used-car dealership. What they didn't tell me is that they had obviously been doing a sweep using an Automated Licence Plate [Number Plate] Reader of all cars passing the police operation, and mine had alerted as a possibly stolen vehicle. I'm betting it was a big drugs bust, and they had hoped I was a money courier in a stolen car, and were looking forward to another arrest and the civil forfeiture of my ratty old sedan.

So, the expectation is that police during such an encounter might order you to stay in (or get back into) your car, or exit the car, lean up against a wall with your hands about your head on it, etc., and that you will comply. (If the police action lacks a legal basis, your recourse is in court where you get to seize their departmental budget.) You shouldn't stand and ask questions rather than complying. Getting punched in the face for such questions and absence of alacrity in complying is a bit extreme. I am dismayed but not entirely surprised.