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About Altherion

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  1. Work at university in what capacity and for how long? Different countries have different standards on this. For example, in the US, the only scholars whose positions are permanent are the tenured professors and equally high-ranking equivalents which is why the competition for tenure-track positions is insane. France has what amounts to a permanent research scientist (aka senior postdoc) position and perhaps some others so your odds of getting a career in academia are somewhat higher (though still not very good). Basically, unless you are brilliant at your intended field or your intended country of permanent residence has an increasing number of senior professor positions and few candidates, don't count on a permanent career in academia. Some people are that good and some others are really lucky, but in general, it is not likely that a random person with a PhD will get a permanent and highly ranked (and thus at least somewhat high-paying) academic position in a Western country. Out of curiosity, what is your intended field of study and why do you think it will make you less employable? Most of the STEM and economic fields offer a reasonable amount of training for a set of fairly decent jobs outside of academia (e.g. in pharmaceuticals, programming, engineering, finance, etc.). They are not the most efficient way to get such training so there is still an opportunity cost, but they'll get you there. The humanities are a bit trickier, but there are likewise various jobs which you may be qualified for depending on your topic (e.g. natural language processing, museums, non-profits, etc.). A PhD generally doesn't make you less employable. It's just that if you don't continue in academia, you will have invested a lot of time and effort into areas which will probably not be useful to you in the future and you will enter lower on the non-academic career ladder than somebody of the same age and ability who dedicated themselves solely to this career while you were doing your PhD.
  2. But nobody interprets that law this way. As Mudguard pointed out, if you really want to take this very broad interpretation, hiring ex-MI6 operatives to investigate Trump would also be a crime. Furthermore, what about all of the non-citizens who donate money and volunteer their time for campaigns? No matter what politically correct euphemisms are used to describe them, by law, the ones here illegally are certainly foreign nationals and in fact even those here legally who have not completed the naturalization process are usually also foreign nationals. If you interpret the law broadly enough to indict Trump Jr., you can probably indict on the order of half the politicians in the country.
  3. I don't think the law about soliciting anything from a foreign person or group is that broad. It is illegal to ask them for money, yes, but I don't think it's illegal to ask for information. There are two reasons for this. First, Trump openly asked Russia for Clinton's missing emails and nobody brought this up. Second, the law would be ill-formed: where do you draw the line between simply having a conversation with a foreigner and soliciting information? The meeting with a foreign agent thing is also dubious. The lawyer in question misrepresented herself as a quasi-governmental agent, but she wasn't one -- she actually represented some oligarchs who wanted something from Trump. Do you still have to disclose it if it turned out to be some random foreigner rather than an agent? And yes, it is a big deal that Russia wanted Trump to win... but it is also something that was very widely known and not at all hidden: when the Russians found out that Trump won, they held a party in their parliament.
  4. Not when it comes from the Crown prosecutor of Russia, no. That whole email sounds like somebody desperately trying to seem important and well connected without having done much research on the matter. Aside from getting the title wrong, they also apparently didn't realize that the Prosecutor General of Russia is not entirely like the American Attorney General. There is no plausible reason why he should know anything secret about Clinton -- that is the domain of either the SVR (Russia's civilian Foreign Intelligence Service) or the GRU (its military counterpart, the Main Intelligence Agency).
  5. Yes. I read the emails and I don't see anything interesting in there except perhaps the usage of "Crown prosecutor of Russia". Not having been a monarchy for the past century, Russia has no such office; their equivalent of the American Attorney General is called the Prosecutor General (Генеральный Прокурор).
  6. At this point, I suspect many people who were at least ambivalent about Trump simply don't care anymore. It's the same deal as the boy who cried wolf: so much has been said on this topic that even if something genuinely incriminating was found (some meeting left off of some form or other doesn't qualify), it would simply be ignored.
  7. That is an utterly bizarre expression to hear from somebody in the UK. The most offensive word is of course both taboo and widely used in the US, but I've never heard it used with "in the woodpile" here. I guess this is something that is specific to the UK since the article ends with:
  8. I am not saying that the private sector is the solution to all of these issues. Clearly, some issues (e.g. justice) must be taken care of by the government and others (e.g. health care) are much more efficient when they are taken care of by the government. My argument was that the interactions of US citizens with the US government are almost entirely negative. This is a matter of semantics. One can likewise argue that the large corporations of today which make up the bulk of the so-called "private sector" are in fact a part of "government". I am describing how it is supposed to work in theory; I do know that it is not true (or at least not entirely true) in practice. You are correct about finding a new job and the rest: some people who are lucky or very good can do it, but not everyone can. It is difficult to fight both at the same time: what do you use as a power base? Also, I think you are mixing up the European definition of liberalism and the American one. American liberals have a set of positions on race and several cultural issues which are either not as controversial or as prominent in Europe. As a result, a substantial fraction of the American population views the liberals as the oppressors -- and not without cause.
  9. I'll start with your second point because multiple people have made the first one and I want to consolidate the text. The "mountains of proof" link does not present any actual proof -- it's just a summary of various claims by various entities including the intelligence agencies, the Obama and Trump administrations and the Russian. As far as I know, no proof has been made available to the public. The DHS and the FBI issued a joint report which presents a mix of generic techniques and something that aspires to be circumstantial evidence. Of course, it is possible that the intelligence community would rather not make the evidence public to protect sources or methodology, but right now we only have their word for it and given their obvious antipathy towards Trump, their word is suspect. As to Trump's amusing appeal to Russia last summer, he was not encouraging a foreign entity to acquire information on his opponent -- by that time the information did not exist in the US. He was urging them to return the information to us if they had already acquired it in the past. Regarding the first point and also: If you read the linked article and the original Intercept piece that it links to, nobody got anywhere near the voting machines. The sum total of the actual damage done is that the account of one employee at a company that writes software for voter registration was compromised via phishing (i.e. the same trick of sending an email asking for account information that got Podesta). This account was used to send Word documents with malware to a long list of people including election officials, but, given that none of these were stupid (or at least they had decent spam filters), this went nowhere. As the Intercept article points out, there is potential here for disrupting an election or compromising the results. However, in this specific instance, neither Russia nor anyone got anywhere close to doing so. Phishing is the bread and butter of computer attacks -- it is used by both amateurs and professionals and every corporation or government of note is subject to many such attacks per month. The fact that one person in a company making software for voting fell for it and then proceeded to spam election officials (with no effect) doesn't amount to anyone hacking the voting machines. I don't agree with this. As with most bureaucratic entities, they are extremely sensitive to being slimmed down. Thus, "very good reason" can be simply that he does not give them the deference that they're used to and even vague mention of their powers being reduced (as far as I can tell, he has not done anything yet) is enough to provoke them. Consolidating some more: I am aware of the "fake news" on social networks, but I do not believe that its impact on the election was of the same magnitude as the release of emails from the DNC and from Podesta. There was a whole lot of information of various degrees of falseness floating around during the election (some even made it onto these forums) and I very much doubt that it changed people's minds (at least not on average). The DNC and Podesta emails received a great deal more coverage, most people accepted them as truth and they acted in only one direction rather than stochastically. The "fake news" is a second order effect and I very much doubt that Russia was behind the lion's share of it. All sorts of entities, both foreign and domestic blatantly try to influence the outcome of the US Presidential election. The foreign ones range from leaders of foreign countries preemptively commenting on the plans of presidential candidates when the latter touch their countries to random Macedonians who spread stories of dubious veracity not because they care about the outcome, but because this gets them paid. Why do you care so much about just one of these foreign entities?
  10. It's pretty funny that they have Boris Johnson at 150/1 -- he's not even a US citizen anymore!
  11. I didn't say "everyone else", I said a significant fraction of the electorate and of the leadership. McCain is an extreme example, but the phenomenon is not unique to him. Anyone born circa 1950 (and there are a lot of these people, especially in government) would have had the idea that Russia is the main enemy drilled into them for the first 40 years of their lives. Some people will be able to shrug this kind of conditioning off, some will not. Regarding the election: first, there has been no proof whatsoever released to the public that Russia had anything to do with it -- all we have are reports from intelligence agencies which are overtly opposing the current administration. Furthermore, even supposing Russia did in fact do everything it was accused of, what does this really amount to? They didn't hack any voting machines or otherwise tamper with the results; they merely inserted some information into the maelstrom that typically surrounds the election -- and it wasn't even false information! Is this really worthy of the fuss that has grown around it?
  12. This is an interesting question with a variety of answers most of which probably contribute to some extent. First, Russia is hardwired as a primary antagonist in the minds of a significant fraction of both the electorate and the leadership due to Cold War propaganda. I'm thoroughly convinced that, for example, Senator John McCain will believe that Russia is the main adversary of the US until the day he dies and no amount of explaining how it is a shadow of the Soviet Union (see below) will convince him otherwise. Second, China is an economic powerhouse which has the means to retaliate if Western countries get too critical. It is both a market for Western goods and the place where a large fraction of them are manufactured. Make it angry enough and major corporations will suffer which tends to bring the politicians in line pretty quickly. Russia has one real means of retaliation, but that one is the The Last Trump for the planet as a whole and they won't use it for obvious reasons. There's not much they can do beyond that: they supply fossil fuels to Europe, but cutting off that supply would ultimately do far more damage to Russia than to anyone else and everybody knows it. Third, Putin is both more entertaining and more important than any Chinese leader and provides an effective focus for American media. Chinese Presidents are limited to 10 years (2 terms of 5 years each) and this is as hard a limit as the 8 year one in the US (i.e. they don't get to rule from the shadows afterwards). Can you name the two predecessors of Xi who served concurrently with Putin without looking them up? I could only think of one. On the other hand, Putin had his fun with "tandemocracy", but it was clear who was in charge all along.
  13. I'm replying to at least four different people people on this topic and my time is not unlimited. My apologies if I miss a post. The ones that Manhole Eunuchsbane listed (the Interstate Highway System, the G.I. Bill, the CDC, etc.). This is exactly what I was talking about with respect to infrastructure. In fact, despite living in a state which does have an income tax, I can repeat your complaint almost verbatim: the roads are lousy, there is constant construction and the tolls range from high to absurd (seriously, I've never seen a bridge with a $16 toll anywhere else). It is worse because if the government is doing something terrible, there will at least be direct pressure on it to change whereas a corporation tends to be immune as long as it stays out of the spotlight and can get away with a great deal more. My point was that despite my complaints about the US government, it is not actually that bad compared to most others (which is why I live here rather than elsewhere). You will undoubtedly deal with the private sector, but the private sector is not monolithic. If you dislike your boss, you can try to find another job. If you dislike the services you are receiving, you can usually (though not always) switch to a different provider. This is not possible with government: the only way to opt out is to move which is rather drastic.
  14. As I said, there undoubtedly was a time when government acted differently from the way it does today and it was probably regarded differently too. However, that time is long gone -- every one of the agencies, laws or projects you list was created more than half a century ago. Some of them continue to function today (albeit usually with some bloat over time), but this is hardly the achievement of modern politicians. No, but at least with the private sector, one theoretically has a choice of whether to use it or not. When this is not the case (as, for example, happens with patents on medicine), the situation can be even worse. I am not sure that governments in general have been all that efficient. The current US one is far from being the worst of the lot even compared to those around today -- there are countries where bribery is practically routine.
  15. I would not describe those as positive experiences. They might be if we weren't paying for them, but as it stands, the government is effectively acting as a general contractor which is tasked with certain critical tasks and gets them done, but almost always in a way that is expensive, sub-optimal and/or inconvenient. To take your examples, in most places, it is quite rare for the government to build new roads or other infrastructure. There was undoubtedly a time when it did this and I think people might have felt differently towards the government of the FDR or Eisenhower eras, but that time is long gone (in fact, I'm pretty sure it ended before I was born). Nowadays the government mainly does maintenance with the occasional replacement and pays an absurd amount of money for either one as well as taking an absurd amount of time and thus inconveniencing the population. Similarly, despite being really expensive, public schools in the US are mediocre at best and everybody knows it. Other critical services provided by the government also have well-documented issues and on the whole one would greatly prefer to avoid being in situations where one interacts with them -- even if their role is to help! In fact, even when the government is supposed to give one money (via Social Security, welfare, etc.) they usually somehow manage to make the experience a negative one. And of course there are the outright negative experiences which you mentioned. There are a few exceptions (e.g. refugees who have recently arrived in the US), but for the vast majority of taxpaying Americans, any interaction with the government is always a bad experience.