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Messages - Cain

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22351
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Indecision 08 Wingnut thread
« on: November 07, 2008, 12:10:05 am »
The GOP also attracts young, frustrated male virgins, such as Ben Stein.

22352
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Re: Trolls in Party Hats
« on: November 07, 2008, 12:02:13 am »
:mittens:

22353
The spread of information will not necessarily encourage stability.  Johannes Gutenburg's invention of movable type in the mid-fifteenth century led not only to the Reformation, but to the religious wars that followed it, as the sudden proliferation of texts spurred doctrinal controversies and awakened long-dormant greivances.  The spread of information in the coming decades will lead not just to new social compacts, but to new divisions as people discover new and complex issues over which to disagree.

I don't think sure we'll see another Reformation-like event, at least in the West.  My (limited) understanding of the violence attending the Reformation was that a lot of it was due to the fact that the Church ruled through ideology/theology; people who disagreed with that ideology could not do so without also challenging the power structure.  Now that Western governments (and by 'Western' I mean North America and Europe) have variations on constitutional democracies, the ruling class is not tied to ideology.  Every couple of election cycles, the ideology in power shifts; there's nothing revolutionary in disagreeing with the current ruling ideology anymore.

In the West, I would agree, although I would argue that the range of acceptable dissent has expanded, rather than there being no ideology per se.

I think Kaplan is talking about the Third World more, though.  Throwing in mass urbanization, a scramble for resources, megacities with their attending slums and massive, cheap advances in communications technology and you do likely have a recipe for trouble.  Especially in the context of Islam and Chinese Communism, not to mention the divided states of sub-Saharan Africa.

22354
The current headmaster of the school that Guy Fawkes went to said he considered the man heroic.

o-0

22355
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Indecision 08 Wingnut thread
« on: November 05, 2008, 05:49:17 pm »
Reverse-Bradley effect.

Lots of people in the Deep South said they were going to vote McCain, as to not be set upon by wild Freepi

22356
Or Kill Me / Re: ATTN: Mr. President
« on: November 05, 2008, 04:32:26 pm »
As you know, you have my condolences.

Here is to hope, and the fact your father knew something important to him had changed, before he passed away.

22357
This is, of course, the pretty much standard intro for all these kind of books.  Still, I appreciate not everyone reads them, so I am willing to set the scene, if you will.




In those cultures which fail to compete technologically, many young males may, like the warriors, rape and pillage in almost ritual style, wearign tribal insignia rather than uniforms, like Serb and Albanian paramilitaris, Indonesian militiamen, Muslim holy fighters in Kashmir, Chechen brigands and Russian soldiers.  Of course, places such as Serbia and Russia may recover politically and economically and their young men may become industrious.  Such blighted places will never form a majority of countries but will remain a periodically shifting minority - sufficient to create regional instability and constant crises with which statesmen must deal.

The media cliche the "global village" confers prestige on the very media which employs it; witness CNN.  But statesmen must grapple with difficult truths, not cliches.  Conflict and community are both inherent in the human condition.  While the postindustrial west may seek to deny the persistence of conflict, Africa, Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Caucasus, among other places, demonstrate its survival as ethnic and religious groups seek to dominate rivals and create their own dominions by toppling existing elites.

It takes a shallow grasp of history to believe that solutions exist to most international problems.  Often there are no solutions, only confusion and unsatisfactory choices.

[...]

Foreign policy crises are like battles.  Domestic policy tends to emerge from statistical studies and drawn out negotiations between executive and legislative branches, but foreign policy frequently relies on sheer intuition to fathom the often violent, fast-moving events overseas, complicated by cultural differences.  In a world in which democracy and technology are developing faster than are the insitutions needed to sustain them - even states themselves are eroding and being transformed beyond recognition by urbanization and the information age - foreign policy will be the art, rather than the science, of peramement crisis management.

As future crises arrive in steep waves, our leaders will realize that our world is not "modern" or "postmodern", but only a continuation of the "ancient": a world that, despite its technologies, the best Chinese, Greek and Roman philosophers might have been able to cope with.  So too, would those like General Marshall, who maintained the ancient tradition of skepticism and constructive realism.

22358
The evils of the 20th century arose from populist movements that were monstrously exploited in the name of utopian ideals and had their power amplified by new technology.  The Nazi Party began as a crusade for workers rights organized by a Munich locksmith, Anton Drexler, in 1919 before Hitler took it over in the following year.  The Bolsheviks also emerged amid emancipating political upheaval and, like the Nazis, exploited the dream of social renewal.  Once the Nazi and Bolsheviks were in power, the inventions of the Industrial Age became crucial to their crimes.

[...]

Populist rage is fueled by social and economic tensions, aggravated often by population growth and resource scarcity in an increasingly urbanized planet.  In the coming decades, 2 or 3 billion more people will live in the vast, impoverished cities of the developing world.  Global capitalism will contribute to this peril, smashing traditions and dynamically spawning new ones.  The benefits of capitalism are not distributed equitably, so the more dynamic the capitalist expansion, the more unequal the distribution of wealth that results.  Thus two dynamic classes will emerge under globalization - the entrepreneurial nouveau riches and, more ominiously, the new subproletariat: the billions of working poor, recently arrived from the countryside, inhabiting the expanding squatters settlements that surround big cities in Africa, Eurasia and South America.

[...]

The spread of information will not necessarily encourage stability.  Johannes Gutenburg's invention of movable type in the mid-fifteenth century led not only to the Reformation, but to the religious wars that followed it, as the sudden proliferation of texts spurred doctrinal controversies and awakened long-dormant greivances.  The spread of informatio in the coming decades will lead not just to new social compacts, but to new divisions as people discover new and complex issues over which to disagree.

22359
This is for discussion of the book by US reporter Robert Kaplan, called Warrior Politics: Why Leadership demands a Pagan Ethos.

I've reviewed this before, but I'm reading it again currently, because it is an interesting book, and Kaplan does an interesting job in both explaining Realist thinking, and tempering it with a basic sense of morality.  Because it is quite different from usual Judeo-Christian interpretations of Christianity, I think his book is a good starting point for looking at the realist worldview, from a broadly classical position.

I call Kaplan a liberal realist, because that most closely mirrors his worldview.  He accepts the basic premise of realism, that of anarchy, the primacy of power over morality, self-interest trumping altriusm etc.  Yet he also believes institutions can be built at the international level to mitigate and manage this anarchy, much in the same way that government at the national level can balance various interests against each other in relative stability.

Next post will be some quotes from the book, in a roughly chronological order.

22360
Aneristic Illusions / Re: OFFICIAL POLITICAL CARTOONS/PIC FREAD.
« on: November 05, 2008, 02:32:16 pm »

22361
Techmology and Scientism / Re: Is it mad science time yet?
« on: November 05, 2008, 02:23:17 pm »
They should grow the mammoth in a test-tube.

A really, really big test-tube.

22362
book of 1 John

This should be plastered all over the internet.  Especially in response to that goddamned Leviticus passage.  Why isn't it?

I suspect because most Fundies do not read the Bible, and those who do are usually directed in their studies by batshit crazy pastors.  However, your suggestion has merit.

22363
The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Re: Trolls in Party Hats
« on: November 05, 2008, 02:03:13 pm »
Bump

22364
Aneristic Illusions / Re: Indecision 08 Wingnut thread
« on: November 05, 2008, 01:57:09 pm »
And now this thread can retire, as a momument to batshit insanity everywhere.

22365
Literate Chaotic / Re: Cainowrimo
« on: November 05, 2008, 05:18:51 am »
Aporia Inc. offices, Kensington, London, 11:03 PM

Alexander Fleck knew it was late, but that had long ceased to bother him.  This project, though nearly 6 months old, was so time-consuming, so important and yet so fascinating, working overtime on it was more of a pressure on his wife and friends than it ever was for him.  He almost disliked coming home from the office now, having to shift his thinking back from the concerns and deadlines and expected targets back to things like small talk, the latest television shows and intimate moments.

Though he certainly didn't mind the last of those things, he thought with a sly grin on his face.  But no, work came first.  Especially important work, and nowadays, all work was important.  Standing up from his desk, he decided it was time to do the rounds.  See who else was stupid enough to be here at this hour, and if they had anything useful to report, beyond the usual monitoring.  He walked to the door, twisted, then threw his pen, managing to land it in his now empty coffee mug.  Perfect, and from nearly 20 feet as well.  He smiled again, as he left the office marked, not entirely incorrectly, but somewhat misleadingly as Head of Marketing.

Taking the elevator down to the next floor, he saw a few lights were still on, especially in the field operations and research and development sections of the building, part of his personal empire within the corporate giant that was Aporia Inc.  He decided on R&D first.  They had a better coffee machine in there, for starters.  Walking in, he looked around.  This office was always a minefield of the bizarre, the exotic and just plain odd.  Which was to be expected, he thought to himself, given what their primary and overriding function was now.

He kicked a squash ball out of the way, and cleared what appeared to be some stage props from a magicians show, before making his way to the minor electronics lab at the end of this section of the building.  If one were to watch him pass, they would see doors with names such as “Memetic Targeting Unit” and “Pataphysical Research Lab” as he walked down the corridor adjoining the R&D common room, where usually most of the useful research and theories were stumbled upon, much to the chagrin of the management.

Slipping into the electronics testing room, he watched as what appeared to be a flower, in a sealed plastic chamber, was made to emit a bright pink gas.  A mouse, which he had not previously seen, then darted out from behind some blocks that had been left in the chamber, abruptly falling over.  “And what is this, exactly?” he asked.  The three technicians present spun around, obviously not expecting anyone else in the room.  “Oh...sorry sir, we mustn't have heard you there” said the project leader, while another turned down the radio on the desk.
“No problems” he replied easily.  “I know its late, and besides, I have a soft tread.  But what is this that you're working on?”  He indicated the plant again.
“Oh, this is an ersatz plant.  Its going to be a delivery system, for various airborne or contact compounds.”
“Oh, of course, Plan B” he said vaguely, waving his hand.  While this was only a part of the research Aporia was currently doing, there had been concerns that, despite the incredible resources already poured in, the current methods they had been using were not efficient or fast enough.  Therefore, the management had overseen the creation of a backup plan, in case the rate of habituation was too slow.  If they could not achieve what was necessary through legal, if questionable, methods, than outright illegal ones would be considered.  Such as randomly dosing the population with hallucinogens, Fleck thought.  Lets hope it doesn't come to that.
“Excellent stuff” he said out loud, more to deflect from his wandering thoughts than anything else.  “Is there anything else the labs are working on right now?”
Another of the technicians spoke up “we're working with the Memetic Targeting Unit to look at unconventional deployment methods we may not have considered before.  There's not much yet, but as soon as we have anything workable, I'm sure you and Operations will receive our plans and projected results, for further testing.”

Fleck considered that for a moment.  “Alright then.  Thank you for your time, gentlemen.  I'll let myself out, and keep up the good work.” He smiled again, then left.  Walking up to the coffee machine, he got himself a cappuccino, then sighed.  It wasn't as good as the shop just down the road.  Starbucks or Costa or whatever it was.  One of those big, interchangeable chains.  Either way, all of them, without fail, could make coffee better than this machine.  Not that the machine was bad, just that it was late, and he needed something that would give him a jolt, really keep him going.  Well, at least he could console himself with the fact it was Friday.  He could take the weekend off, once he finished his rounds and actually got home.  Not too long now, of course.  Taking a second sip, he decided to check out Field Operations, or as the rest of the company had started to refer to it, “ops”.  Sounded a little too military, and sinister for Fleck, though when he thought about it, Field Operations was not much better.

Back in the day, when he had started with Aporia, ops had been nothing more than a few dedicated screw-offs, who used unconventional marketing techniques, such as online games, viral videos, word of mouth internet whispers, pranks and other events to draw attention to their various clients.  They had been quite good too, considering the oddballs that were involved.  Anyway, it had been tiny.  Less than 10 people, and usually closer to five.  But now, now...

They had hit the 100 mark last week.  And that was just the start.  Once the current training cycle had finished and the newest members had a few successful operations under their belt, then they would start approving and opening regional offices.  North America's was already being expanded massively in preparation, and offices in Russia, Beijing, Sydney, Tel Aviv and other locations were also going through a similar upheaval.

It was going to be a nightmare to keep track of, Fleck knew.  Hell, it was nearly bad enough now.  Fortunately, more personnel and funding were being slated for his department, which would help.  Still, this would require him to either devote all his time to operations and promote others to oversee R&D and other departments, or else massively over-extend himself.  He didn't really like either of those options, though he knew which one was more sensible.  Shaking his head, he walked into operations.

At this time of night, there were less than 20 people here, in total.  Most were manning phones or desks, either making calls and providing information, or else typing into screens, tracking and recording information which would hopefully be useful in the future.  Others were doing more arcane things, such as plotting lines on maps, or else reading books and making notes.  He grabbed the nearest person, who happened to be a map plotter.

“Excuse me” he said pleasantly, “but who's currently supervising this section?”
The man started to speak, but was interrupted by a woman furiously typing into a computer.  “That would be me, sir”, she called.  “If I can just have a minute to finish this entry...”
“Take all the time you need, I'll be waiting” he replied.  She took a few more seconds, slammed a couple of keys, then relaxed, standing up.
“Sorry about that sir” she said, walking over and shaking his hand.  “Alice Band, current supervisor to this motley crew.”
“Of course, Ms Band.  I'm just passing through, looking for an update.  Don't worry about anything too formal.  How are things?” he asked.
“Not too bad” she replied.  “Of course, its always a little more hectic at nights, because we have less people, and half of the sort of people who are willing to work the night shift are loonies of one sort or another-”
“Including you?” he asked with a sly grin?
“Especially me.  I'm in it for the money” she laughed “and if willing to forego what little light we get nowadays for some extra pay isn't a sign of lunacy I don't know what is.”
She was right, of course.  They advertised for night staff especially, instead of instituting shift work patterns on the department.  Which was fair, it made for more motivated workers, but it also meant you had to put up with the sort of person willing to work all night and sleep all day, in contradiction to what 90% of the world did. 
“But apart from that, all is good.”
“Mostly,” she said, nodding.  “Our teams in South London, Edinburgh, Bristol and Liverpool have all clocked off for the night.  Manchester is still ongoing, but they check in every half hour or so.  They've got some very good material actually, I'm sure you'll be impressed with the video quality and exposure.  Oh, there is one minor problem though...”
“And what might that be?”
“Ipswich hasn't reported in yet.  That's not totally unexpected, they're working close to the base there, so they may just be not taking any risks.  But they did miss their last deadline, which was nearly 15 minutes ago.”
“Well, I'm sure its nothing” he said.  “Though no doubt you know the procedure to follow should the team not break radio silence in the next 6 hours.”
“Got it down clean, no worries.”
“Incidentally...is Martin around?  I haven't seen him lately, it would be good to catch up on the old times.”  Martin had been one of the original operations guys, a genius at guerrilla marketing and virtual legend within his own select sphere of expertise.  However, with the company expansion of late, he hadn't had much of a chance to talk to him, or pick his brains about recent events.
“Sir...Martin is with the Ipswich team, the one currently operating in Rendlesham Forest.”

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