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About Altherion

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  1. Given the extent this investigation has exhibited thus far, I am not sure it that it can reach a state where all leads are exhausted within a reasonable time (e.g. one decade). This isn't about Trump and Russia anymore, it's about anything and anyone even vaguely related to Trump and there's a whole lot of these entities. Incidentally, for the people hoping that the US would intervene in Russian elections, this either didn't happen or it had no effect whatsoever: the results are currently being counted and both exit polls and early results show Putin winning with over 70% of the vote.
  2. I'm not sure that it is something that can be found by oneself, at least not for everyone. Part of the power of religion or communism or national movements is that one is part of something greater than a single human existence. It is extremely difficult to argue that humanity has become any less violent. I know Pinker has made such arguments, but three quarters of a century is very little on historical time scales and the main thing keeping the peace is not some newly found pacifism, but a quirk of technology that causes full-scale conflict between major powers to result in mutually assured destruction. We got lucky in that nukes were introduced at the very end of the war and have stayed lucky in that nobody has used them yet. The problem with luck is that it eventually runs out... Well yes, it's rather obvious in hindsight. The question is to which extent this also applies to our society -- it may very well be that a century from now, people look at democracy and human rights in the same way we currently see the class system of the Victorian era. The ones that are quantified are rising distrust in public institutions (e.g. mass media or the government) as well as increasing disbelief in the idea that the next generation will be better off. As Rippounet says, there's a bunch of others though.
  3. This thread is inspired by this New York Magazine article by Andrew Sullivan which is mostly in response to Steven Pinker's new book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Sullivan went to listen to Pinker's lecture and, in a nutshell, Pinker is a reputable scholar and I have no doubt that the statistics he has collected are accurate (at least enough so that his overall point is not undermined). However, like Sullivan and many others have pointed out, happy people do not vote for populists and there is a long list of other symptoms indicating that all is far from well. Thus, it could be that Pinker is simply measuring quantities which, while superficially beneficial, are ultimately irrelevant. What do people think? Is Pinker right in that the world is better than it ever was? Or, as the article suggests, has something crucial been lost along the way and the path we're on is a dead end?
  4. Highlighting the hypocrisy of the left is orders of magnitude more productive than most of the things today's media usually does.
  5. You can stand by anything you want, but it doesn't make it sensible. If, for example, there is a fixed number of places at elite universities and a significant percentage of them are allocated based on immutable characteristics, the people who do not fit the "affirmative action" criteria are undoubtedly worse off. Such policies inevitably screw over a fraction of the poor.
  6. That particular statement follows simply from the slightly less than zero-sum nature of today's good jobs and the zero-sum nature of high-end universities.
  7. Mostly, but far from entirely. For example, the left in both Europe and the US is in favor of increased immigration -- from Africa and the Middle East for the former and from south of the border from the latter -- despite the fact that these immigrants will compete with the poorest for both jobs and government benefits. Likewise, the left makes its distinctions regarding the weakest based on immutable characteristics such as race and gender (well, nearly immutable, anyway) and if some individuals among the weakest happen to be on the wrong side of those distinctions, they're actually far worse off than they would be without the left. All of that said, you are right: the left does favor the weakest... but what you left out is that they do so at the expense of the middle class rather than that of the rich. The latter do quite well for themselves whether the left or the right is in power. Well, it's either that or they will systematically crush you. At this point, the latter is arguably more likely: the ones in the US are much better armed and the ones in Europe have mostly sidelined the left and are now struggling with centrists.
  8. Look, if either the people who voted for Republicans or the people they voted for were actual Nazis, people like you would be, at best, in prison. The Republicans currently control both the legislative and executive branches of government as well as the governments of most states. This is much, much more power than the actual Nazis (i.e the ones from Germany circa the 1930s) held before they moved to make their control permanent. The Republicans have done nothing of the sort and will almost certainly lose power in the upcoming elections. What you (and, more importantly, the media you are taking your cues from) are doing is more than a little dangerous in the manner of the boy who cried wolf. The Republicans do not even remotely resemble Nazis, but you've devalued all of the words that might reasonably apply to them (words like 'racist' and 'sexist') to the point where nobody pays attention if you call them that anymore so you've moved on to a different one. The problem, of course, is that you're devaluing this word as well and if you ever do encounter something that is similar to the actual Nazis, when you call them that, people will say "so you mean like roughly the half of the country that votes Republican, right?" For example, consider this New York Times article about the recent election in Italy: Of course, neither M5S nor Lega are truly fascist, but the New York Times lacks the language to make such distinctions -- at this point, all they can do is call them fascists and bring in Bannon so that their (mostly American) audience understands what they mean. This and similar coverage from European outlets (who, to be fair, are not nearly as ham-handed) didn't actually help all that much: M5S won the most votes for an individual party and Lega won the most for a coalition (though neither has enough to form a government on their own.
  9. Why? It's not going to accomplish anything material, it makes for really great pro-Putin propaganda (which is why they're making the accusation) and it invites retaliation.
  10. No, or at least not in the US and probably not in most of Europe either. Today, both the left and the right redistribute wealth, they just redistribute it to different groups. For example, I am in the middle class -- certainly very far from being rich. The grand total redistributive effects of all of the political maneuvering in the past decade on me personally is that I had to pay a penalty for not having health insurance when I took half a year off from work (because of ACA) and that my federal taxes went down after the recent tax reform. Most of the redistribution is between various sectors of industry; the effects on ordinary people are marginal with the exception of those who win the equivalent of a political lottery (e.g. in the case of ACA, this is not the relatively large number of people who got government-sponsored health insurance, but the far smaller subset of these who actually got healthcare they desperately need as a result).
  11. It applies to both internal divisions within the large groups and to the large groups themselves (which are simply divisions of the entire society).
  12. Divide-and-rule is one of the most primitive strategies those in power use to stay in power which is why you see it all over the world. It is much, much easier to manipulate multiple groups which hate each other than it is to do so to a single united group. The demonization you perceive is not an accident: such hatred needs to be carefully nurtured and propagated across generations.
  13. I've finished reading several of these now and rather than starting a new thread, I'll resurrect this one to comment on them: I would rate Dread Empire's Fall as "good, but not great." I liked the prose less than nearly all of the other books I've read recently (to be fair, I'm mostly picking books from the Hugo Award for Best Novel list and then reading other stuff by those authors). The relationship is exactly what you say it is and it's alright. I've already said that the Liveship Traders Trilogy is worth reading, but after finishing it, I'd qualify that by also putting it into the "good, but not great" category. There are actually several love stories here and all of them are reasonably well done, but the books are simply too long for their own good. In my experience, it is very rare for an 800+ page book to be outstanding -- there are some that are great despite being even longer (e.g. A Storm of Swords), but even the best of them have a lot of pages where I wish the author would simply get on with the parts I care more about. All three of these books are more than 800 pages long and none of them is as good as A Storm of Swords. Also, Hyperion is a genuinely excellent book -- the best of all of those I mention in this post and not by a small margin. It's a kind of science fiction Canterbury Tales and some of the tales have internal love stories. It ends on a cliffhanger and continues in Fall of Hyperion which is not as great, but still very good. Unfortunately, there is a significant drop off in quality from there to Endymion and another one to Rise of Endymion (i.e. the books get progressively worse). Since they start from so high up, even the last one is not bad, but nor is it very good. There is a lot of retconning here and hanging a lampshade on it does not make the reader any less confused. Also, the last one is probably too long by 30% or so -- I think at some points it reached Robert Jordanesque levels of descriptiveness. As to the central love story in the third and fourth books... to be honest, I'm not sure whether it qualifies because, in an absolutely bizarre turn of events,
  14. Some people would have gone for Jill Stein or the libertarian or, in an even more futile effort, fought for some write-in candidate (probably Sanders). Most would have simply accepted that the establishment had won again.
  15. They most certainly do. For example, one of them main arguments of the Republicans opposed to Trump during the 2016 campaign was that his views and behavior are way too far from the norm and having him run would drag down the Republicans running for Congress.