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  2. Just gonna toss Serra’s name in to the mix. We don’t get much info about her, just a picture in a locket of a woman with big blue eyes and pale gold hair; but I’m guessing she had to be quite the beauty in order to go from working in a Lysene pillow house to the wife of Illyrio Mopatis. The man was willing to break ties with the prince of pentos to wed her… and keeps her stone hands in his bedroom (kinda gross and weird but ok).
  3. I'd bet your fingers were itching to type incinerating. Next time, pls be more subtle in bumping dumpsterfire clusterfucks back onto the recent feed I have myself to blame, choosing to beat this dead horse to announce the end of my hiatus, it's not like there are any lack of hatred threads...
  4. well, over here we have: Covid check at work (3G) and restaurants and venues (2G+), closure of restaurants at 11 pm, twice-weekly tests at schools, homeschooling after a number of positive cases in class is reached, travel restrictions, testing requirements for travel & quarantine, passenger locator forms... I'm sure I'm forgetting a number of things.
  5. Not sure how far into Act II of Expeditions: Rome I am, but I just reached the point where I gained a second legion and it's interesting how much it changes the feel of the strategy layer of the game. It's still doing all the same things as before, meaning it's still very limited compared to a true strategy game. But by having two separate legions that are controlled independently, it feels much more like I am actually leading a war. And based on the way the UI changed, I would not be at all surprised if you get even more legions later on.
  6. For my part, I can’t tell what normal is/should be and how far/close we are from/to that. I can look at the current situation and say it’s pretty much normal, everything is open, yes I have to wear a mask in indoor public places and stay in quarantine for 7 days if I’m infected, but I can essentially do anything and everything I’m comfortable with. On the other hand, I can also look at the same situation and say, well, millions of unvaccinated people (that is people without three doses) are denied access to events and certain entertainment facilities (IF anybody cares to check for a vaccination ID -which nobody really does, to be fair), they are denied travel unless they pay a fortune for PCRs or get vaccinated against their will and there are those who received Sinopharm or Sputnik V vaccines which don’t qualify them to travel. So I could ask, when can we all travel and go partying without mandatory vaccine passes/testing and not have to wear a mask? But at the end of the day I don’t really care because I think normal doesn’t have all that much to do with what I can and can’t do legally, more with how safe I feel to do anything. And that varies for everybody, and I’m sure most people, here at least, feel pretty much normal since last May and were maybe a little vexed about having to put a mask back on in November. Then again those who feel vexed by masks don’t tend to be the people who feel unsafe or don’t lead their lives as they did pre-COVID.
  7. Wow. I did see that Israel is now the worst country in the world when it comes to cases. Their fatality rate has also increased significantly. Almost as bad as it was last summer (although, still much better than last winter). It is also noting that the 4th vaccine did have some effect. https://www.timesofisrael.com/health-ministry-4th-dose-triples-protection-from-serious-illness-for-over-60s/ I'm still curious to see how long this effect will last. Looking at the current fatality rate, you wouldn't see an obvious improvement but Israel always had an uptake problem. Yes. There was a UK study which suggested that even if you exit hospital (after been hospitalised due to COVID) your likelihood of dying (over the next year IIRC) increases by 4. I believe they first felt they were in control of the virus (due to vaccination) rather than just picking a random date. Obviously, some people disagreed. It was then delayed because of the rise of Delta (IIRC)
  8. There is a fear but irrational may not be the right word. Consider Canada and Russia. Both are huge countries with a pretty thin population density. Canada only has 3 neighbouring countries that could conceivably invade. Those being the US, France and Denmark. Russia is surrounded by neighbours that can overwhelm it by population along with sea access that allows them to keep open supply lines. Russia has an extremely poor strategic position due to geography. This should be taken into account but in itself is not a justification for bad behaviour. Don't give a paranoid person a justification for being so.
  9. I think that's quite difficult for him to do that given his mental issues. It took him years of hard work on himself to get somewhere where his obsession with Cobra Kai didn't consume him, so that's not something that is easy to do.
  10. It's friggin freezing -26 C today. I'm worried about this truckers convoy coming into Ottawa at the end of the week. Now 80 km long from out West and more coming from the US via Detroit. We could be gridlocked in the city and I expect this will empty out store shelves. So I better get what I need for the next two weeks.
  11. Which suggests he may be planning for a “Chechnya” like crisis within his borders? Whatever border those may be as we, now, know Russia is willing to expand its borders?
  12. More Clark Ashton Smith ideas that are used in ASoIaF: In The Seed from the Sepulchre, there is an alien plant that falls to Earth and infects human beings, kills them, and grows out of their skull as antlers, in ASoIaF, the greenseers' wear "antler crown"/ "driftwood crown" which is actually the weirwood growing out of their head and the weirwood circle above the head of the greenseer. The weirwood seed falls out of the sky, infects humans, and grows out of greenseers' skulls. The alien seed destroyed an entire ancient spacefaring civilization, and I think the weirwood destroyed the Great Empire of the Dawn and Valyria. In the Vaults of Yoh-Vombis, there is a fungus in a cave that destroyed an ancient civilization on Mars. The fungus attaches to your head and eats your brain, and lures people into the cave with psychic lures. George's story A Song for Lya is a variation on this story, (and it seems like the movie Aliens was highly influenced by this also.) In A Song for Lya, the cave fungus is a large red greasy mass called the Greeshka and in gaelic greiscealacan means "a red raw greasy mass" In gaelic lige ("liya") means "grave" and in Hindi lay means "song" and "destruction"--the hive-minded telepathic cave fungus lures Lya in to eat her brain, just like the cave fungus from Yoh-Vombis (and the weirwood with Bran) When you join the collective your individuality is obliterated. In Vulthoom, (audio and fulltext) a white alien tree landed on Mars as a meteor: “The Martians say that I fell from heaven like a fiery meteor” from another universe and lives underground in caverns and formed a Satanic cult. Vulthoom is a huge white bole, that is described as a heart, whose roots occupy the underground caves: “there reclined an incredible thing whose further portions and members wound away to an indefinite distance amid the machinery. Somehow, the thing was like a gigantic plant, with innumerable roots, pale and swollen, that ramified from a bulbular bole. This bole, half hidden from view, was topped with a vermilion cup like a monstrous blossom; and from the cup there grew an elfin figure, pearly-hued, and formed with exquisite beauty and symmetry” A little person growing out of a white tree—(the CoTF are attached to the white tree) Vulthoom is telepathic, and can see forwards and backwards in time. It makes a doppelganger to entice the main character to join Vulthoom. Vulthoom sleeps for thousands of years, and then is awake for thousands of years. Vulthoom secretes a hallucinogenic perfume that is like weirwood paste. Vulthoom wants to spread his cult to Earth, and his plan is to blast off of Mars from underground in a rocket that is secretly being built underground. "When all is ready, the ship will blast its way to the surface by means of atomic disintegrators. The very stone will melt before it like vapor. Ignar-Luth, which lies directly above will be consumed as if the central fires of the planet had broken loose." (the launch of the white bole Vulthoom parallels the Hardhome disaster and the Doom of Valyria, which I think were both weirwood launches, both were like the central fires of the planet had broken loose) His followers are called Aihai, and Vulthoom is associated with a three-headed dragon.
  13. Some of the ones here (Dstans) have admitted to skipping POVs which didn't 'interest' them, coincidentally the ones of the characters they hate, or at least dislike. So selective denial guys go all out on asserting their prejudices. The Dstans here have been mostly indifferent to the abomination except when protesting what the finale did to their fairy godmother Damn it, when the hell will Winds come out!? I'm close to blowing my brains out anyway, it's one of the few things I have to do before i die.
  14. In other hardly surprising news Süle won't renew his contract at Bayern and thus will be available on a free transfer. Let's see how this plays out. Chelsea is still the most persistent rumour.
  15. Defending the largest and most recently militarily aggressive empire in the modern world on the basis that it's been invaded in the past so its aggression is understandable is hilarious. Russia wants something from and/or for Ukraine that Ukraine does not want. The conversation should end there. Bringing up the actions of the US or anyone else in other nations is not a defence for Russia's actions now- it's a condemnation, because, short of human rights abuses that need immediate intervention, it's always wrong.
  16. It's definitely what gives Putin pause, since I'm guessing he imagines NATO intervening in a future Chechnya-like crisis within Russia's borders. Those two events also violated some important precedents in international diplomacy.
  17. Alright, what stable nation-state without potential crimes against humanity has NATO invaded? Or is the second qualifier what gives Russia (Putin) pause?
  18. I think Russia's concerns are about more recent invasions - specifically Kosovo and Libya, where NATO violated its own charter about being a purely defensive alliance.
  19. For the Record if we try to go down the Historical rabbit hole, yes, the US was a bad actor and should have invaded Mexico in 1846. @Werthead, I’m well aware of the basis for Russia’s irrational fear. But, Putin is playing on that irrationality to justify his beligerancy.
  20. This is very weak sauce. First, this is the argument that can go in circles forever. E.g between Germany and France or France and England or almost everywhere in the world. Do you think Germany can derive any rights to attack because France attacked them before? Well, they did and we all learned from the experience, it just took a few million deaths. Digging out those old zombies just shows an inability to learn from history. Second, the Russians are not exactly innocent in this. Just ask a all their neighbours. Just take a look at the map of the world. Face it, most of the world sees the Russian state as a bad actor because of their belligerent behavior. Pointing at past grievances and using them as an excuse only makes everyone else even more weary. If Russia really believes they have the right to attack other countries because different countries attacked them in the past, then it makes them even more dangerous to peace. At this point in time we are somewhat over the stage where you destroy your neighbors before they destroy you.
  21. There's a variety of answers to this and it depends largely on the view within Russia itself. It is very hard to discern if Russian political leadership really believes that a NATO attack on Russia is likely, or if they know 100% it will never happen but they are capitalising on the fear of it for their own political agenda. A repeated refrain is that the West would do well not to automatically assume that Russia's view of international events, history and political philosophy is in accordance with their own. The degree to which Soviet revisionist history colours modern Russian political thinking is quite striking (particularly myths about Britain and American "letting Russia bleed" rather than invading France in 1943 or even 1942, despite that clearly not being practical). There is also the very real fear in Russia as a whole of foreign invasion. Repeated invasions of Russia during and after World War I (including by British and French forces) and then during World War II (by not only Germany, but Italy, Romania, Hungary and Finland as well) killed over 30 million people, which is an absurd number which left a deep scar on the Russian national psyche. For comparison, Russia lost fifty times as many dead, most of them civilians, than the UK and USA combined during the Second World War. One of the reasons Germany is so reluctant to take a firm stance on Russia is due to Russia playing very successfully on Germany's war guilt for the atrocities it committed during WWII, despite some German politicians believing that the resulting counter-attack into Germany that left almost half of the same number dead and the resulting forty-five year military occupation of half the country, during which time millions more died, repaid the guilt and debt. But it's still a difficult subject in Germany. Fear of being seen to becoming more aggressive is why Germany is so reluctant to enlarge its military, build ballistic missiles or take part in overseas operations. There is also of course simple security concerns. If Russia had not undertaken hostile overseas action for many years and was broadly speaking a friendly country, Britain might still look askance at Russia inviting Ireland into a military alliance and stationing military units outside Dublin, or the US might do the same if Russia allied with Canada and placed troops - even a fairly small number - on the border. An additional concern is that NATO was specifically set up to contain Russia. That was its MO in 1949. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, there were arguments in favour of rebranding NATO or even officially dissolving it and replacing it with a practically-identical international alliance designed around mutual defence of all members (which could theoretically include Russia itself), but that was ultimately rejected and left NATO - an alliance designed to contain the ambitions of Russia, effectively - expanding around the western flanks of Russia's borders. Turkey's accession led to NATO controlling the entire southern shores of the Black Sea, and the Baltic States' joining put NATO troops (theoretically, anyway) within 85 miles of St. Petersburg. This led to fears in Russia of the country being encircled as a prelude to further attempts to curtail it. NATO may argue that it is an alliance of countries and it has an open door policy allowing any country to join as long as they are not nutjobs and that has nothing to do with Russia, but Russia's government believes - rather genuinely or just publicly for propaganda purposes - otherwise. NATO members may also, if rather quietly, be of the opinion that Russia is inherently a problematic country and adding more countries in Eastern Europe effectively prevents it from overrunning the eastern half of the continent as it did in 1945, and keeping Russian troops as far from Berlin, London and Paris as possible is an objective, if one that's not publicly spoken. Ultimately the problem is a shift in political ideology between the West and Russia. Both sides believed before, during and after WWII in spheres of influence, the idea that great powers would wield authority not only within their borders but also over surrounding nations. There are great countries and minor countries that are, effectively, vassals to their greater neighbours. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West effectively rejected this idea: each country, big or small, has sovereignty and that sovereignty stops at the borders. Your neighbour, no matter how big or small, is their own sovereign country and can do whatever they like and you have no say in it. Russia fundamentally rejects that idea and basically claims it has a say in what Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Central Asian Republics do, regardless of them being autonomous powers. That's where the fundamental problem lies. (And not unrelated is the growing pro-democracy or at least anti-Putin movement in Russia, both popularly and in political circles, and Russia's miserable economic performance due to both corruption and massive military spending, and Russia's feeling it doesn't want to clamp down on corrupting and reduce military spending when it can try to grow the economy by forcing neighbours to kowtow to it and effectively rebuilding the USSR)
  22. I wonder if Martin is referencing this verse: More references to red sin cleansed with white snow: What Does the Bible Say About Make White As Snow? (openbible.info) I think red sin refers to the blood of the innocent or having the blood of the innocent on your hands.
  23. What other than ditching mask wearing needs to happen for it to be a "return to normal"? Not sure where you live but if you live in the US there have been basically no restrictions other than wearing a mask, and enforcement of that varies geographically. Other than masks being recommended throughout The Omicron wave we've been back to normal here since last summer. This 'pick a date" seems an incredibly roundabout way of making policy. For mask recommendations, why use some transmissibility or hospitalizations metric instead? Why this need for an arbitrary date? In fact the govt response to the pandemic has more or less been "get back to normal asap even when people are still dying". Honestly cannot even see where this idea that we've as a society been dragging our feet to change policy away from pandemic measures is even coming from.
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