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  2. It's actually way less complicated than it looks on that graphic. The key player is the the parliament (Bundestag, or Federal Diet as it is called on the graphic). Just start from there. Their job is to pass laws and budgets (like in any other democracy it's simply the legislative body). As for goverment building (now comes a difference to the US), the parliament elects the chancellor (simple majority will do). The chancellor picks her (or his) cabinet (executive body). And they get the formal appointment by the President (otherwise a pretty useless position, I compared it to the role of the Queen in British politics once). If a vacancy on the supreme court arises (and of their term or age limit), the governing parties agree on their replacements, and they get formally appointed by the president (judificary part). That's essential the important bit. Now let's get a to the right side of your diagram, which makes it look a bit more complicated. As the name Federal Republic of Germany suggests, it consists of 16 states. Each state has their own parliament, goverment and courts. And with a somewhat limited power to pass laws compared to the US. (in any case in Germany there's also a law hierarchy. The higher (federal) law beats state law. Now the 16 states are represented in the second chamber of legislation. The Bundesrat or Federal council as it is called in your graphic. Population size of each state determines their voting power. The biggest states have six votes, the smallest have three. For some laws the consent of the states is needed (laws that affect the governing of the states, that interfere with their finances (so tax laws) and changes in the constitution). Otherwise they can also propose legislation by putting it forward to the Chancellor, which is then discussed and (possibly) passed into law by the Bundestag (did I mention that's the keyplayer). I think, that's about it. Ah, I forgot the election of the President. Basically the president gets elected by the Bundesversammlung (Federal assembly). The parties in the Bundestag and in the state legislatures send people there. Usually you see some celebrities there. They then get to vote on proposed candidates. I hope that cleared things up a bit.
  3. Everyday is bringing new sex scandals. So many creepers exposed but I think there are more to come. So I was listening to Andy Cohen on the ride in today (don't judge) and he had Melissa Gilbert on. She is the little girl from Little House on the Prairie. She later went on to have a decent career in made for TV movies and was President of SAG. She told an interesting story about reading for the Meg Ryan role for Oliver Stone's Doors movie. Apparently at an event before the audition Oliver had been talking shit about TV, he was above doing TV etc... Melissa got into it with him about it and he got pissed. Fast forward and she is auditioning. She claims he created a seperate audition script for her that would have made her crawl around on the floor in a sexually charged and submissive manner. She claims he did is specifically to get back at her for the prior incident. She seemed pretty credible and the way she describes it makes it seem pretty creepy. I also heard an old bit on Stern this morning where they were making fun of Mike Pence because he wont have dinner or be alone with a female for any reason. Their theory was he knows he cant control himself so he never puts himself in that position. Might be true but based on what is going on now seems like a not insane policy.
  4. Seconded. Really has taken any pleasure out of scanning this thread. This is such an odd season for me. I'm not wired as a fan of tanking, which is what my Bulls need to continue doing, possibly even through next season. We're all trying to see the kids develop, but hope for an L at the end. I've watched probably three or four times as many non-Bulls games this year as I usually would, though. Maybe it's for the best to get me out into the wild, as it were. I can get a bit tunnel-visioned with my teams.
  5. The one whose name is erased from memory reminds me that the Great Other has no name: Melsandre and Moqorro are quite clear that the enemy's name must not be spoken. This impies that invoking the name of the Great Other has consequences of some kind. While Davos goes on to say that his name may not be spoken; a more ambiguous restriction. While we are not given a name; we are given his titles; the Lord of Darkness, the God of Night does sound suspiciously like the Night's King. But further, there is a reference to "No Man", a euphamism for Faceless Man cursed as the kinslayer. I'm reminded of Arya's prayer, which amounts to a kill list, or curses on the names she speaks; and of Jaqen's reaction when Arya effectively curses Jaqen by giving him his own name for her last wish. I suspect that the Night's King and the Great Other are the same thing; perhaps even Jaqen's god, Him of Many Faces. There is a suggestion that there is power in speaking the name of the one whose name must not be spoken (or remembered) invoking the god's powers.
  6. I'm currently reading Arya's chapter p.592 when Lord Beric offers a silver stag for her dreams (although it's wine and a song she gets). Has anyone tried to interpret her dreams yet? I know they met with her on one earlier occasion too. This time the dream is as follows: "I dreamt a wolf howling in the rain, but no heard his grief [...] I dreamt such a clangor I thought my head might burst, drums and horns and pipes and screams, but the saddest sound was the little bells. I dream of a maid at a feast with purple serpents in her hair, venom dripping from their fangs. And later I dreamt that maid again, slaying a savage giant in a castle built of snow." And the first time Arya saw the little dwarf women on p.302: "I dreamt I saw a shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag, aye. I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings. I dreamt of a roaring river and a women that was a fish. Dead she drifted, with red tears on her cheeks, but when her eyes did open, oh, I woke from terror." Some of these sentences are quite obvious. The shadow with a burning heart (meaning the shadow conjured by Melisandre) butchering a golden stag (Renly). The maid at the feast with purple serpents in her hair? Savage giant in a castle built of snow? Will all this make perfect sense once I've read SoS or later in the books?
  7. Anhingas are cool. You probably also saw cormorants out there, because they tend to hang out in the same areas as Anhingas and pelicans.
  8. Personally, I think it was because Aegor thought that Daemon II was weak and he was not completely wrong; Daemon was no swordsman or jouster and relied on his is dreams as a plot armour for why he would succeed in his conquest. We, the readers, and a few characters in the series know that the dreams are prophetic, but in many cases such as Daemon's, they completely backfire on the dreamer. Also, as others have already pointed out, Daemon was homosexual. We don't know how Aegor or even most of Westeros feel about homosexuality, the fact that our known homosexual characters aren't open about it could suggest that the general population isn't okay with it. Jon Connington seems to try hard to hide what he truly felt for Rhaegar, Satin is generally disliked for being a former whore (even if it was just gay-for-pay) and that the fact that the whore that Whoresbane killed was a man is something that they simply whisper about, seems to prove the general opinion of homosexuality in Westeros. It's going to be difficult to get the people's support if they generally frown upon a very important part of him. Also, if he does somehow take the Iron Throne and keeps it, who will be his queen and how will they have children? If his homosexuality is well-known, then the true parentage of all of his children might be questioned.
  9. I quite like the attempts at 'clever' nonlinear storytelling where they jump around and go back to show what was happening just before a scene we've already seen. It's just a shame that the pay off is so feeble.
  10. I'm fairly sure it would be stopped if the scenario was Hannity randomly calling for it on Fox, perhaps because he has a hangover that day. However, what one person calls insane, another person can call legal and justified. The various calls for immediate war with Iran for example are seen as both legal and sane by some parties. The scenario where nukes might really be dropped is this: North Korea is about to have the capability to deliver a nuke to the mainland US. At that point some will be arguing that the only legal and sane thing to do is anything that stops NK from becoming a nuclear power. Now I strongly disagree with that, but Trump is likely to listen to it. So yes, I'm terrified, and Congress has shown little interest in doing much about it, beyond some noises from the Senate foreign relations committee. Some of the Congress critters, such as Senator Corker, who are very worried about what Trump might do, may not want to tie future Presidents hands or take much responsibility for decisions that are politically risky. If the GOP tax plan is so good, why do they lie so much about it? They ran on a middle-class tax cut. They’re delivering the opposite. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/11/20/16674640/gop-tax-plan-lies Why the Trump Administration Is Suing to Block the AT&T–Time Warner Merger The lawsuit may pit AT&T and Time Warner against the Justice Department. But it's the tech industry that might suffer the most. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/11/trump-att-time-warner/546443/
  11. I just got my new field guides in. I got Stokes Eastern Guide and Kaufman field guide to birds of North America. So many birds. I think a quick look may have cleared up a mystery from my trip to Baton Rouge. I saw what I can only describe as either a giant turtle or a duck with no body in the lake. I think it may have been an Anhinga. It was nearing dusk. Found this bird while looking up different species of pelicans. This shit is hard. Everyone in my yard STILL just looks like a bird.
  12. Now a few words on everything else in the NFL: -Who could have predicted the demise of KC? I mean, what were the odds that defenses would stack the line and stop Hunt and say- week in and week out - "We bet Alex Smith cannot beat us"? Who could have predicted this?!?!?!? I mean what are the odds that after week 5 (with a record of 5-0) Alex Smith's passer ratings would be 88.6, 84.9, 77.6, 103, and 61.5 and the Chiefs would be 1-4 in their second 5 games. Stunner. I can't believe the Chiefs have been unable to ride the Alex-Smith-Train to the promised land. They just lost to THE GIANTS! This is not an inter-sport game; they did not suit up the San Francisco baseball team or anything. No, the New York Football Giants. Who look like a baseball team trying to play football. The Chiefs lost to that. No, they are not going anywhere this season. -Minnesota just sat the Rams the fuck down. Great win. -We can take the Packers out into the back yard and shoot them, right? Loosing at bad enough. Loosing at home is bad enough. But getting shut out at home? To Joe Flacco? Yeah, you are a very, very bad team. And lets all watch out for the Ravens. John Harbaugh knows how to get a team to play and that team has elements that can be dangerous. They could EASILY upend a team in the playoffs. Especially a team like, say, the Chiefs. -I love watching the Saints play. I do- great QB, fantastic running game, and a defense that is suddenly working and not getting suspended for dubious bounty-based scandals. That team has everything to win the playoffs and it would be great to see Brees in the big game again. -Remember when people thought the Bills were good? I mean BEFORE they lost 3 in a row, had an utterly avoidable QB controversy, had some water-boy throw 5 INTs in one single half of football (PR of 17.9; QBR of .3..... POINT THREE!!!!). And before they gave up 54 points to the Chargers? Lets all look away so the Bills can die with dignity. -Game of the week - prior to Monday Night - was Bengals at Broncos. There's no punchline... that IS the punchline. -Which leads us to the Seattle. Seattle is not a terrible team ... yet. But look at this: here are the teams the Seahawks have defeated this season: SF (1-9), Colts (3-7), Rams (7-3), Giants (2-8), Houston (4-6 and without Watson and Watts), and Cards (4-6). That's ONE team with a winning record and two others that were not the same team when they faced the Seahawks due to massive injuries. Seattle's wins come against teams with a record of 21-39. Their defense is in shambles and their head coach is ... showing signs of ... stupidity? The Legion of Boom is now Bust and nobody can stop the bleeding. I don't think Pete Carroll will be the mind behind the turnaround. I think we are watching the end of something and the bandwagon will get very light soon.
  13. Overall I think he did a good job. My favorite female character - no big surprise here - is Dany. While her AGoT romance story is somewhat hookey, I don't think it is any more unbelievable than the thing we have later got with Jon and Ygritte. I don't think it is a problem with her as a character as much as that GRRM simply isn't very good at writing convincing romance. OTOH there is a chance that there might be more to it yet - Qaithe makes it quiete clear that before Dany makes it Westeros she will have to break her "If I look back, I am lost" principle, and reflect on her past life. Dany had never quite psychologically dealt with the fact that Drogo had been a slaver and that if she met him post-ACoK, she would consider him her enemy, a fundamental part of the local slave trade. In fact in her early AGoT chapters, she thinks of herself being sold to him like a slave. In this regard, Quaithe's "To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow" - together with her reunification with the Dothraki at the end of ADwD - promises that this aspect of her past may be dealt with in future. I was far more impressed with how GRRM portrayed her relationship with Daario. She was not demonized for her sexual attraction to him and his character has served well as a good projection of her ID. The weakest aspect of the portrayal of her sexual life was certainly her bicurious episode with Irri. Unless she gets a female paramour later, I don't see the purpose of that. Personally, I haven't got the impression that she has been too hypersexualized by the text (aside of her sexual shenanigans with Drogo). It is true that she describes what is happening with her body often, but honestly, I am somaticly oversentive and self-aware of my body, and I tend to have similar thoughts throughout the day. Of course, other women may feel it differently. Going by TWoW spoiler chapters, we are likely to get a couple more of sexually active preteens in the future, and I must say I wonder how GRRM tackles the issue with them. All that said, I find other aspects of Dany's character far more interesting and important than her sexuality. Her draconic sense of justice - good or bad - is certainly something I can relate to. The complex feelings she has for her abusive brother. Her status as an eternal globetropper that seaches for a safe place to belong. Her internal conflict of Mhysa vs Mother of Dragons - her painstaking searching for finding the right ratio and getting them in harmony, so she could become an effective leader and ruler is fascinating, imho. She is such a rich character. I could talk about her for hours. My #2 on the list would be Arya. It may be surprising, but the tomboy part of her character is the one I care least about. It is interesting in the relation to how she doesn't fit into the Westerosi society and how that informs her character (i.e., her low self-esteem and insecurity), but her passion for her hobbies itself leaves me cold am I have never exactly been a tomboy myself. However, she is not portrayed as "not like the other girls" for it, nor is she the type to blabber "I have only male friends" BS, which scores her character plenty of brownie points with me. Out of all the Stark children, she's also the one Stark child that thinks of her mother a lot, in spite of their differences. After Jon, Catelyn appears to be the person she longs to reunite with the most. Much like Daenerys, Arya is a character characterized with deep empathy for others as well as a firey temper, but due to diferent circumstances, she's been forced not to act freely at them. The third one would be... Catelyn, I guess? I love in Catelyn many things that I love in her daughter Arya. I feel that these two are different on the outside, but very similar on the inside. Catelyn's as much impulsive and limited by Westerosi patriarchy as Arya, but she has learned to vent her tendencies though available means and adopted the Westerosi "patriarchy brain" to act in accordance to... which is both fascinating and frustrating. Catelyn is a character that I have always adored as a fictional creaation, but had a hard time liking as a "person". On the whole, I think she is a very believable portrayal of a quasi-medieval noblewoman, with the good and the bad things that come with it. She's also like the only POV female character that has a wholly positive relationship with another female character that becomes a POV - i.e., Brienne. That is, at least, until the Lady Stoneheart mess. Her behavior towards Brienne warmed me a lot towards her, because she seems to be the only person outside her family that she protects. Unfortunately, Catelyn is also a prominent sufferer of the "Mother who Loses her Children Loses her Mind" syndrome that I really could do without. It happend to Catelyn in the moments before her death, it happened to her sister Lysa, it happened to Alannys Harlaw Greyjoy, it happened to Rhaenyra Targaryen, it is happeining to Cersei. Enough of that bullcrap please. Otherwise, I have a great deal liking for Brienne of Tarth and Arianne Martell. Brienne is a believable subversion of the tomboy trope, and in Arianne I like many things that I like in Dany - she gets to act on her ambition and sexual desire without getting a villainous treatment, but she lacks Dany's empathy and drive to attempt to change the world for the better. I do hope she will survive becoming Dany's antagonist. I just wish GRRM left out the description of her nipples... or the whole chapter from Arys Oakheart's POV. Melisandre is a character that I am very interested. So far she has been presented mostly as a mysterious boogie woman that knows how to do magic and serves as a mouthpiece for her religion. Only with her ADwD POV chapter, I have gotten the impression that there is a human being hidden deep beneath the priestess of Rh'llor. Asha is a character that I don't feel strongly about either way. She is a fine gal and I don't dislike her, but she's the tomboy that GRRM played straight. That does not make her a bad character, just not a one that I can personally relate to much. Cersei... let's just say that I used to empathize with Cersei before we got her POV. The sad thing is that she has said a lot of truthful things about Westerosi gender roles, double standard, and misogyny... but I feel that her utter evilness and stupidity in all other matters undermines the message. GRRM would have done better if Cersei had become sociopathic and hateful due to her treatment by Tywin and Robert instead of having been born a narcistic psychopath or whatever little girls that throw their friends down the well tend to be diagnosed with. She's the evil, ambitious queen that misuses her sexuality to get she wants played straight in all her glory, and she's delusional on the top of it. Bah, at least she has a good sense of humor, I guess. That said, the more people try to make her the sinful Eve to Jaime's innocent, mislead Adam, the more positively I am going to regard her (at least she owns being a villain and tries to think, as opposed to her twin). The female characters that I think GRRM executed badly are the Sand Snakes, imho. I do not mind much, because they are such minor characters, but nontheless they are quite subpar as far as GRMM's usual standard goes. They are tropey and mostly one-dimensional. But, there is still hope for them, since the future books should focus on the Dornish plot. Another fail (though not to the same extent) is Selyse, imho. It's not the idea that a nasty woman tried to self-realize through religion and her husband's career and social standing - that is quite believable. The part I abhorr is how the narrative supports making fun of her appearance - it is not that the other characters are being petty and insensitive, but that she does not seem to be extended any sympathy by the narrative for it (as opposed to Brienne). Much like with Cersei, I feel GRRM lost an opportunity here. Sansa is a difficult character for me. It's the character I have tried to like, but have not succeeded in doing so. Which is strange, because among all the female characters in ASoIaF she is perhaps the one most like me (with some Brienne and Dany thrown in). She's a character we're not meant to like when the story starts, and it seems it stuck with me. While all of the other POV child characters are too clever and mature for their age, AGoT Sansa goes the other direction, although it gets better later on. She has moments when she shows some spirit and I genuinely like her, but most of time I'm not sure what she's really thinking and feeling (the case in point being her treatment of Sweetrobin), and I just don't quite trust her. It also does not help that some of her qualities that I possess are the negative ones that I try to curb in myself (for example, her screaming at Arya in AGoT... not that I have ever told a loved one that they are ugly and should die, but you get the idea).
  14. Those things are intricately connected. Take Tommen and Myrcella as examples. They technically don't have a claim to the Iron Throne yet while a sufficient number of people still (publicly) believe they are the trueborn children of King Robert Baratheon they are not put down as the abominations born of incest and adultery they actually are. Jon Snow the bastard of Eddard Stark has no claim to the Iron Throne. He has at best some weak claim to Winterfell (assuming we ignore the Night's Watch thing for a moment). And that's the state of affairs right now. Jon Snow is the bastard of Eddard Stark. He has no claim to the Iron Throne. If nobody ended up believing the Targaryen story Jon would never have a claim to the Iron Throne. The exact nature of Jon's parentage is irrelevant for the question of a claim - even a Targaryen bastard would have some claim to the Iron Throne. Just a very weak claim in comparison to trueborn Targaryens or legitimized Targaryen bastards (take the bastard Benedict Rivers-Justman as an example - he was never legitimized by anyone yet still became the King of the Riverlands). If people believed Jon was Rhaegar's bastard they could also believe he should be king (especially if there were no other suitable claimants around at the the time). But his looks should make it very difficult for quite a few people to buy that story. And that's why they are important. Even more so, in light of the Aegon story. People would have to be utter fools to first fall for the Aegon story - which they most likely will - and then by the Jon Snow story (which is going to sound even more ridiculous than the Aegon story, and is going to be much harder to believe).
  15. I disagree, comparing avians to mammals wouldn't be accurate. Avians are a subgroup of dinosaurs who are themselves a sub group of archosaurs, who are a sub group of reptiles. Monkey's are a subgroup of primates who are a subgroup of mammals. If anything I'm being overly generous to monkeys who really should be compared to dinosaurs. Avians and mammals aren't remotely on the same level of magnitude. Mammals would be better compared to reptiles or archosaurs. Sure, but I don't accept that the comparison should be mammals to birds. And reptiles and archosaurs both have fully aquatic members.
  16. One can argue whether the voting age should be 16 or 18, but I think it's unreasonable to change it just for one referendum. WRT the EU Parliament, we can make a difference at the margins, with list PR, but it's nothing like as decisive as FPTP. Our trading performance is actually a good deal better with countries outside of the Single Market than with those inside of the Single Market. It is generally in surplus with the former, and heavily in deficit with the latter. That suggests to me that the Single Market has not worked out terribly well for this country.
  17. She never says he was brought down by his brother. It is there, in you very quote (the red part). He's not rumored to be a Brandon Stark. Old Nan says "mayhaps" just because she's bullshiting him to enhance the thrill of her story.
  18. Today
  19. I believe obsolete in the sense that it didn't happen the way that particular story predicted, therefore that reality is "obsolete". Of course, a lot of stuff we've seen in SF films can still happen, but since they may happen at a later date, it will be a different reality.
  20. If I thought D&D were capable of grasping this simple concept, I'd agree with you, but Bran is now Expositiontron 9000. His visions and his conclusions from here on out are gonna be 100% correct all the time and be used in courts of law to convict former supergeniuses/jetpack riders that are suddenly too dumb to demand a trial by combat.
  21. Because I don't believe it is purely racist to be upset about a rapidly changing cultural landscape, I think its a natural human condition seen the world over. Had immigration been handled sensibly in a more controlled manner then there would have been no Brexit.
  22. If there is no logic behind the unhappiness then what is it other than racism?
  23. Just checked about the Doom in TWOIAF and I confess you're right. I thought it was an impression of mine, but it was on the book. Sorry for playing Captain Obvious here. However I didn't find any mention of a connection between the Doom of Valyria and The Citadel's commitment against magic. I know it's a secret because it's a conspiracy, but since you didn't especified which part of my answer was copied from TWOIAF I imagined I had plagiarized both parts. Would you mind telling me if is that so?
  24. I have a question. I think it is in Littlefinger's best interest that Cat stays in Winterfell, he loves her and if Ned gets arrested for treason surely Cat would get arrested as well if she was there. But wasn't she expected to go to KL but didn't because of Bran? So doesn't that make Littlefinger incredibly lucky? Surely he would have another plan to keep Cat out of King's Landing seeing as he couldn't predict Bran's fall?
  25. Note that the general doesn't even say that: He says he has an advisory role and he specifically doesn't say he'll refuse insane orders, only illegal ones, and those he will refine in order to produce something legal. He also rather conveniently assumes that Trump will display a sudden interest in legality and take advice on board. If that doesn't turn out to be the case it could get quite complicated. (Also the publicly available info on the chain of command suggests it goes: Donald > Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff > Stratcom > These guys so it's not clear Hynter would even be in a position to discuss the Bozeman annihilation order). I don't want to get too categorical, it's possible that the CJCS would try and halt a rash, Fox-and-Friends-induced order to melt Pyongyang, maybe even successfully. But the people who study this stuff say US nuclear chain of command is all about enabling Presidential authorisation, not challenging it. In that way, the US president is the absolute monarch of a kingdom of nukes.
  26. I agree the public services thing is a bit of a red herring, but for both sides of the argument. Its the focus of the argument, but I think many people won't come out and just admit they are not happy that there has been a large influx in immigration into some areas, making them basically unrecognisable from a decade ago. I think that unhappiness is natural and doesn't amount to racism either.
  27. Ok, so why did the white walkers choose that location for their waill?
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