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Knight Of Winter

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  1. The idea that sensitivity readers exist to provide "inside" perspective for an author is nice in theory, but it runs into a number of obstacles. 1) if the goal is to provide insights for an author on a subject they're ignorant of why is sensitivity reading limited only to usual suspects such as ethnicity, race or sexual orientation? Does a non-chess-player author need sensitivity reader when writing about an aspiring chess player? Would middle class author benefit from sensitivity reading when writing about ultra-rich or ultra-poor, as if not to misinterpret their lifestyle? Does atheist writer need sensitivity check when writing about Buddhist or Protestant protagonist? Can extroverted author write about withdrawn introvert without sensitivity reading? Someone's hobby, activity or character trait can play a more important part of one's identity than race or ethnicity - and yet nobody apparently thinks about giving offence through unintentional ignorance in that fields. And also: 2) sensitivity reading only ever goes in one direction. If, again, the only goal was to give a writer perspective he's unable to have - then non-Jew author writing a Jewish protagonist needs equal amount of sensitivity check as Jewish author writing about a protagonist of some other ethnicity. Gay writer is equally ignorant of a straight protagonist as is straight writer about a gay protagonist. Etc. 3) if sensitivity readers become too much of a hassle for authors, they can (and will) simply side-step around the issue and not write about minority characters at all. Which is not the intended outcome, but nonetheless a realistic one. 4) it's the job of good art to sometimes write about difficult and controversial topics and explore dark parts of human nature. From everything I've read, I seriously doubt that sensitivity readers today would okay stories such as Love in the time of cholera or Lolita. I could go on, but 1) and 2) cover the main, moral dimension of this problematics. Unless some good rebuttal is given to them (and while I don't have one, I'm open to hearing it), than Ran's point stands: that sensitivity readers are less about giving different and new perspectives for unintentionally ignorant authors, and more about establishing some sort of informal moral police which gives cultural stamp of approval/rejection for authors uneducated in problems of current cultural climate. And for the record, I'm all for authors doing hardworking and thorough research on whichever subject they're writing about. I'm all for them listening to people who know more of them on a subject matter. What I'm not all for is privileging one particular set of problematics by giving them a clique of self-proclaimed experts who will act as an informal moral police. Oh, and for those who think sensitivity readers only give their feedback, while authors and publishers are the one who choose to implement a change or not, sadly that's not always the case. Public moral pressure, no matter how informal one - has been recently known to withdraw books from shells, or to stop the publishing process in the bud (here, for example). Which I find preposterous. Publishers and authors not publishing books which they deem bad or unmarketable is great. Customers boycotting books they deem offensive or plain bad is also great. But social media mob pressuring them into cancelling a book before it even reaches shelves, thus denying customers an opportunity to decide for themselves - just stinks.
  2. I don't disagree with you; however that's not what I was saying. I didn't state it's hard for nations (or Twitter) to change, just that it's very difficult for single individual to do much to enact that change in any system. You can look at nations as ever-changing flux of individuals, groups, information and ideas constantly appearing and disappearing on a public scene. Some people die or become disinterested in politics. New people come of age or become political. Some groups gain popularity, other groups fall into obscurity. Yesterday's crackpot ideas become mainstream, or vice versa. Random things influence public opinion in one way or the other. Of course nations change - otherwise we'd still be stuck in the Stone Age. That's not point of contention. Whereas, if you compare day before Musk's acquisition of Twitter and day after it - you'll see almost everything remained the same. It's users remained the same, it's staff remained the same, it's low and mid level management is the same - only thing that changed is the very person at the top. Twitter will change in some form for sure - in this age of ever-increasing flow of information and ideas everything changes at a hereto unprecedented rate, and so will Twitter. What I'm saying if that change will happen mostly independent of Musk. I'm saying that despite his position as new CEO, Twitter is far too big and complex for him and him alone to be a major agent of change.
  3. For someone who thinks Twitter has a record of stupid bans for arbitrary reasons, Musk's proclaimed ability to stand by the idea of free speech would nominally be a good thing. I say nominally, because in reality I don't think much things will change. Twitter is far boo big, far too complex and far too popular system for any person to change it overnight, even if that person is the new owner and CEO. I think both left-wingers (who are afraid of Twitter becoming new alt-right breeding ground) and right-wingers (who seem to think Musk as their champion heralding new era of conservative revolution) are vastly off the mark. As to what of Musk's motives are - I honestly have no clue about it. What he presents himself to be is laid-back provocateur with delusions of grandeur who is desperate for attention and constantly flirting with borderline crackpot ideas - but underneath it all I don't doubt there is an intelligent and shrewd businessman with strictly rational and calculating logic underpinning most of his actions. Whether his true goal in buying Twitter is ideological, economical or a mixture of both - I don't want to begin to guess. Far more interesting discussion is one of Twitter's monopoly in its intended market. Whether you think "old" Twitter did some stupid stuff or "new" Twitter will start doing stupid stuff under Musk's regime - core problem underpinning all of it is that it has basically no competition. There is not another billions-users-wide platform for exchange of short messages and statement. If you're pissed with e.g. quality of your car, you can always sell it and buy a new model from different manufacturer. Whereas if you're pissed with Twitter, you can either...retreat from that model of online communication entirely or remain pissed on Twitter. If you want to hear and be heard by billions in form of quick messages - Twitter has no serious competition, and that kind of nigh-monopoly can't be good for end users. I'm just diagnosing a problem here, for I have no idea of how to solve it, if it's even solvable and if yes, should if be solved. All I can say is that I suspect current model is flawed, and don't know how to have better one while still retaining basic principles of democracy, ownership rights etc.
  4. My two cents: take it as a learning experience, ponder on whole situation and make sure never to repeat it again. And by that I don't mean "don't hook up with Betty again" but "don't allow yourself to again be in the situation which requires such grand scale deception and withholding of truth to work out". I could tell you to come clean - since Ronald deserves to know that woman he's planning a future with and his close friend hooked up; or to stay silent - since it only happened once and will needlessly complicate everyone's lives if discovered; but the crux of it is living a life and making decisions where truth is welcome and accepted and not Damocles' sword hanging over your head; with the ever-present danger of it hurting you and people around you if revealed. Think what concrete steps you might take with regards to this. If being intoxicated makes you do stupid shit - reduce your drug use. If you hook up with a woman - let it be hook-up that you're both happy that it happened. If you introduce sexual/romantic element in your friendship - make sure if this really is something you both want and desire, and not drug-induced escapade leaving hurt feelings and broken friendships in its wake. Etc. Not trying to be harsh here, for we all make mistakes. We all screw up - and with how profoundly I screwed up so many things in my life, I'm the last person to have any right to be judgmental towards anyone. What's important is that you analyze it, (emotionally) come to terms with what happened and come out of whole situation a bit smarter and a bit more enlightened, with lessons taken and learned. I hope letting it of your chest here helped you in some way and good luck moving onwards
  5. While, yes, it's true that all Lannisters committed some pretty bad crimes - the fact that Cersei is widely disliked doesn't have much to do being a woman, IMO. Comparing her to rest of her family, we can easily see that each of them has at least some redeeming qualities which make audience sympathize or root for them. Tyrion - who has been the victim of prejudice at least as much as Cersei. While he undoubtedly does some heinous acts, he does some genuinely altruistic or positive ones: making a saddle for Bran, giving Jon some useful advice, punishing Janos, doing reasonably well when named acting King's Hand etc. Jaime - who starts the series as child-murdering nigh-nihilistic bastard, but seems to be on a path to redemption and mending his past mistakes at least to some degree. Tywin - who is not much liked, but is much admired and respected - the reason being that he may be a cold jerk - but at least he's a tough and competent cold jerk. Cersei, meanwhile, has none of that. Not only is she pretty vicious and cruel - but she deoesn't recognize her own mistaked and try to mend them (like Jaime), nor does she command respect with her comtetence (like Tywin), nor does she balance her bad acts with kind and altruistic ones (like Tyrion) - in fact, I don't remember her acting even once in way that's not blatantly self-serving. Even in matters when she could easily garner audience's sympathy she ruins it with her cruelty and hypocrisy. For example, while she complains about being abused by Robert - she blatantly tells Sansa to suck it up when Joffrey starts to abuse her. While she is the victim of misogyny, she has no qualms enforcing sexist standards against Margaery. Etc.
  6. So two days ago Josep Borrell, EU minister for foreign affairs, delivered a pretty fine speech. Some key points: - foundations of security and prosperity that Europe relied on don't exist any more. It's bases were protection from the US and cheap gas from Russia - both of which can't be relied upon any more. For the first - while he praises their cooperation with Biden administration, he's aware that soon Trump or Trump-like figure may come into office again. For the second - the idea of cheap, reliable and ever-available energy sources from Russia turned out be be false, plain and simple. - EU should work on becoming much more independent, both in terms of security and energy production. It should strive to produce more energy within its own borders, and this will require restructuring part of its economy. - in years to come, world will be shaped by rivalry between US and China, like it or not. He calls China system rivals - because both of them (west and China) have fundamentally different value systems and are trying to prove theirs is the best one. - at the same time, he's aware there are lot more nuances going on. Not everyone supporting west is a democracy, and there are a number of non-aligned, "swing" countries which don't gravitate towards one or another, but support either of them based on their own interest: like Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey etc. - he doesn't view west rivalry with China in terms of economy, but in terms of value systems and identity. He thins Europe should do a better job at demonstrating how political freedoms, democracy, economic prosperity and human rights are all correlated. Otherwise entire wester model will fail. - he's critical of EU diplomats, who proved to be slow and inert in times of crisis. And he frames today's political climate as one crisis after another. - he admits to huge mistakes regarding Ukraine. They didn't think Russians would actually attacked, despite being warned of precise date of the attack by US Secretary of State Tony Blinken. They also underestimated the efficacy of Ukrainian resistance. They didn't expect Putin would be so eager to always escalate the situation. - climate change and war have already crated a lot of huge problems and will continue to do so. Lot of things to discuss, for certain. Agree with its sentiments or not - I find lots of admirable things to say about this speech : clear sightedness, willingness to admit mistakes and learn form them, ability to correctly diagnose issues and form possible solutions, natural and practical language devoid of usual bureaucratic meaningless phrases etc. In the past few years, I've seen non-insignificant amount of European politicians' statements which suggest a lot of them are either grossly incompetent, willfully blind, deliberate liars or utter fools. Speeches like the one above show that this is not always the case.
  7. While keeping an open mind to all plausible explanations, there is a not-insignificant amount of unusual circumstances at play here. The thing is, each one of them is not definitive, and could be interpreted either way depending of what you're already inclined to believe. Yes, Niemann played way above his usual level, finding brilliant and non-obvious moves and casually outplaying world champion. But again - maybe he was "just" inspired and motivated Yes, Niemann's tournament performance dropped significantly after FIDE introduced stricter anti-cheating measures. But again - his drop could easily be explained by all the stress due to being falsely accessed. Yes, Niemann has admitted to cheating before. But again - it doesn't mean that he cheated this time as well. Yes, Carlsen has shown exemplary record of sportsmanship so far, losing many games in his professional career and not making a scene. Already taking so many losses in stride, presumably he'd not accuse anyone of cheating without some significant evidence, or at least strong suspicion. But again - maybe fame got to him and he made phony accusation for the first time Yes, no evidence of Niemann cheating was found. but again - maybe he used some hereto new and undetectable method. With ever-advancing technology, it's not that big of a leap. All in all, however this plays out - chess will be at a loss. Either there is some new undetectable way of cheating which possibly other cheaters will start to use; or a single player was unfairly accused and ganged up by most of online chess community. Either way - it's bad.
  8. Watching HOTD I found myself remembering what many people said back when The Rogue Prince and Princess and the Queen first came out: that they couldn't bring themselves to care for any character and that their biggest takeaway was just "fuck the Targaryens". And, as a faithful adaptation, HOTD in my opinion faces the same problem: lack of characters we can relate to, care for or root for. Even with brilliant actors (really, casting team did their job perfectly) - I found whole lot of main characters just so... unsympathetic. Taking a look at the ensemble, we have: 1) Viserys - who is pretty ineffectual and weak-minded for the most part. Sowed seeds of almost-destruction for his own house due to his indecisiveness and turning blind eye to rising issues within his family. Last episode, #6, ups the ante by turning him into doddering old man who is easily bossed around by Alicent. Overall, not someone most people will sympathize with 2) Daemon - very fun character to watch, but hard to relate to due to his numerous egregious flaws. He engages in petty cruelty. He mocks dead infants. He seduces his underage niece. He kills his wife in cold blood. On the other hand, I think he gets decent amount of fan-base because he's the only main character with any kind of clear ambition and reasonable amount of competence to back it up. In the sea of clueless and ineffectual characters - this counts for more than something. 3) Rhaenyra - doesn't give the best impression either. Accepts Viserys' offer to be his heir, but doesn't concern herself with any of the stuff heirs were supposed to do (learning to rule, finding marriage partner, garnering alliances with powerful houses etc.), instead preferring to have fun and fly on her dragon all day long. And while this can be excused due to her young age (although it must be noted that other young characters like Robb and Daenerys are different in that regard), we see this same immaturity even after ten-year timeskip. Her decision to get her children fathered by Harwin instead of Laenor and making it obvious for all the world to see (if two of them had kids, they would have looked like Daemon's and Laena's daughters, instead of what Jace and Luke look like) is far from something any smart and mature leader would do in her place. 4) Otto - at best, he is moderately successful petty schemer. In the end, he couldn't restrain his power-hubgry personality to such a degree that even usually amicable Viserys had no choice but to sack him. 5) Alicent - was actually pretty likable pre-timeskip. While yes, she was a bit of a pushover who everybody took for granted, at least she was overall a nice person, loyal friend and gave smart advice to Viserys when he actually bothered to listen. Her being trapped in a loveless marriage got her a lot of audience sympathies. Post timeskip, she's like Otto 2.0. , just a lot more bitter and resentful. Her pushing her kids to hate Rhaenyra's is a startling example of both bad motherhood and bad statesmanship. Not no mention she comes off as a power-hungry hypocrite: while she's shocked and disgusted that Rhaenyra slept with Criston, she sees no issue in keeping Criston around as her crony. Or how she condemns Larys for killings of Harwin and Lyonel, yet doesn't report him and even takes advantage of the situation to invite her dad back in King's Landing to serve as new/old Hand. And while we're on a subject of Criston... 6) Criston - really, what more needs to be said about this guy. Even after ten years, he's still angry and bitter with Rheanyra; and his entire personality consists of inventing new petty ways to take his revenge for here, culminating in him encouraging royal princes to bully each other. A sad case of man being mentally trapped 10 years in the past. 7) Laenor - a character I was actually very excited about. Fire and Blood gave us very little info with regards to his personality - and I was curious how will show creators use his opportunity and where will they take his character. As it turns out - they made him into manchild whose only life goals seem to be drinking, fighting and fucking around. He reminds me a little bit of Robert Baratheon's character, not the most flattering of comparisons 8) Laena - actually pretty likeable. However, she's a minor character in the grander scheme of things and got killed of relatively quickly. 9) Rheanys & Corlys - again, two of more likable and relatable charactres in the show, who I would like to see more of, especially Rheanys. From what little we've seen, she would have made much better ruler than Viserys. 10) Larys - if there's such thing as pure unadulterated evil in the show, it's him. His only major act so far is killing his own father and brother (with whom he had no quarrels at all), just to curry favour with Alicent and grease his own political ascent. This man seems to be psychopathically devoid of any human connections and will cheerfully do any atrocity imaginable for his own political benefit. He's like Littlefinger, just without all the nuances that made Littlefinger multi-layered and interesting as a character. 11) Lyonel - another fan favourite, and rightfully so. However, he's still a relatively minor character who got offed relatively quickly. Put it all together, and what we get is a bunch of deeply unsympathetic characters who are hard to relate to, with only few exception being either quickly killed, or minor characters to begin with, or both; leaving behind a bunch of ineffectual assholes. This is not me hating on a show, which I think is really good and eagerly watch every new episode. I find many aspects to be very enjoyable, most of all tense and interesting plot. I care about what will happen and which direction story will go - I just don't care how it will affect the characters. It's not that they're undeveloped or badly written (far from it), just unsympathetic and unrelateable for me. And for many others, it would seem. Looking back at GOT, we can all remember strong emotional reaction many characters elicited in various audiences. Many people e.g. really liked Ned, related to him, rooted for him and were quite emotionally invested in his fate. Others formed similar bond with e.g. Daenerys. Or Robb. Or Tyrion. Or Arya. Or Davos. Even morally "black" characters like Tywin or Littlefinger had their share of fans, all thanks to how complex and interesting they all were as characters. In short, viewers exhibited the level of emotional investment in GOT that is not nearly as much exhibited in HOTD. When reading online reviews and discussions - I see people being quite hooked on with the plot. They comment on what happened and speculate what will happen next. But, when compared to GOT, there is a noticeable lack of investment in the characters. There are no legions of e.g. Rheanya, Alicent or Daemon fans anticipating how well will their favourite character do, celebrating their victories and gritting through their hardships. To give one example: I'm convinced that, if showrunners decided to suddenly kill any major character - the viewers would probably be shocked and amused. But they would not be angry and outraged, like with Red Wedding or Ned's execution. I don't have any grand conclusion to top it all off - I just think this is an interesting topic worthy of bringing up and discussing.
  9. One thing, which I haven't seen mentioned before. After West imposed sanctions on Russia, they were all like "well, we don't need you anyway. There are plenty of other countries (China, India etc.) who are just lining up to be our friends". Which was more than a bit odd, since culturally, historically and societaly - for the last few centuries at least Russia gravitated towards Europe, and nowhere else. Even nowdays, examples are numerous: - when Russians emigrated, they moved to Europe, and not to Asia. At the moment, there are plenty of Russians trying to avoid being mobilized and most of them are trying to get into Finland. I doubt many are trying to get to e.g. China - when rich Russians bought more houses for vacation or leisure, they bought them in European countries - not in Asian ones. - when rich Russians wanted their kids to get best education, they sent them to European universities - last year, Croatia was full of Russians who traveled two thousand (!) kilometers so they could get vaccinated with EU-approved vaccines which would enable them to travel across EU freely. - etc. At least that was the way things worked up until last few months. And now, with anything and anyone Russian basically being persona non grata in Europe, this process naturally stopped. Just one more way how Russia, by opting to invade Ukraine, basically shot itself in the foot and unfortunately went against its own best interest.
  10. For Europe I can be reasonably sure that answer would be "almost all of them". It's not like US is only lighthouse of democracy in the world, and other countries can only be democratic if graced by light shining from it. Each of them had their own path towards - or away from - democracy. While yes, Poland and Hungary are pretty authoritarian - there are many historical and societal reasons (largely independent of US) why that is the case. Specific circumstances made each of them what they are, and thinking other European or western countries would follow suit without USA's influence is overly simplistic. While I don't know enough to comment on Asian or South American countries you mention, that's some interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing it.
  11. I'm against it, and part of the reason is that my dad, along with his entire generation, went through obligatory military service in former Yugoslavia - and he considers it a year wasted in his life. While there were some positives (meeting new people he'd never get a chance to interact otherwise), lack of freedom combined with whole host of arrogant officers on a power trip made it into staunchly net negative experience. Every other recruit whose experience I've heard had similar sentiments. I do kind of understand (though understand does not necessarily mean agree with) it in countries that are on the constant brink of being pushed into warfare (e.g. Israel). As for the rest - surely young men can find something better and smarter to do instead of being forced into military, contributing to society and their own personal growth in these few months.
  12. I dislike ganging up on lone poster arguing against almost everyone (and the comment directed at you mentioning betting on dead Ukrainian children truly was distasteful) so I'll try a new approach and respectfully bring one fundamental error I see with Chomsky's point of view here. He says how, given choice between utter destruction of one party and negotiated settlement we should always choose the former. The thing is - it's kind of a moot point - since pretty much everyone agrees with it already. If Ukraine and Russia entered peace negotiations - you can bet it would be hailed all across the world. And despite the animus many of us feel toward Putin and his politics, few actually root for the war and all the catastrophic consequences which go along. So if his point is that peace talks would be a good thing - then most of people already agree with him. Now, where Chomsky goes wrong is when he puts onus on wanting diplomatic settlement onto "us" - with "we" presumably being the West. And I think this is one fundamental error which underlines all of his writings on this subject: that he vastly overestimates western ability and influence to do anything in his particular case. EU or US are not militarily participating in this war, so I don't see how they have the responsibility to end it. If he's so concerned about finding diplomatic solution- why isn't he blaming Putin (instead of West) for not initiating peace talks - for he may be the only one with actual power and ability to actually do it. Instead: he thinks the West should do something to end the war - although it tried to dissuade Russia from starting it in the first place and isn't actively participating in it. If you reverse the situation: imagine that USA attacks Mexico, and e.g. China imposes sanctions of the US and starts giving Mexico free weapons. In that hypothetical case, what would Chomsky say, who has the responsibility to end the war - US who started it, or China who is arming the attacked party? So, if I could sum it all up in one sentence, it's this: Chomsky goes on and on about appeasing Putin and wishing for diplomacy instead of war - but I find him being pretty vague about any kind of action plan. So my question for him and you would be this: what should West actually do? What actual actions should in undertake to achieve his preferred solution?
  13. I think this is a key point, for much of Putin's strategy depended on it. I don't think it's controversial to say that Russia's recent history has been one of hardships and suffering. Be it Putin's regime, of communist USSR before that, or czarist Russia before that - Russia undoubtedly faced much larger degree of scarcity and government oppression that any of the Western countries. So he counts that his people, used to harsh life for generations - won't make much of a ruckus when western sanctions hit the fan. In his mind - it's the West who are weak and complacent. The doctrine he preaches to Russians is how Russia is strong and robust, while West is decadent, corrupt and weak. I bet he counted on European politicians being unwilling to impose sanctions, or failing that - on European citizens being unwilling to part with comforts that Russian gas brings them and pressuring their political leaders into stopping the sanctions. Well, it's up to us to prove him right or wrong.
  14. I doubt you'll find much you'd find surprising. There's a large pro-Ukraine sentiment amidst media, politicians and general population. Media usually reports some mixture of Ukrainian, Russian and international sources, along with analysis from various domestic military experts. Pretty much the only things that's missing (compared to e.g. this forum) are information from open-source news and analysts posting on various social media (Twitter etc.). And you guessed correctly that there is ample space given to damage to civilian targets - in terms of civilian deaths, exiles, war crimes committed and cities razed. Useful information. Thanks
  15. Interesting about US sources being conservative in terms of Ukrainian war progress - my experience with local and international news has been different. There's another cool topic you breach here - namely traditional media dragging behind open source sources in terms of speed and/or reliability - unfortunately I don't know enough to comment on this further. But does Russia have a quantity on its side? As far as I know, it doesn't - for both sides have something approximating 200k soldiers fighting for them. Now, yes - if Russia were to make general mobilization, it would have great numerical advantage, but so far that hasn't been the case. Perhaps this would be a good time to ask you, since you seem to well informed and always up to date with regards to war news. Where do you get your information regarding the war; what are your sources if you're willing to share them? Sigh....read again. "It seems that they're unable to differentiate between rooting for Ukraine (which is a moral necessity, to the point of it being too redundant to mention) and reporting news in a biased manner (which is unprofessional and bad journalism all around)."
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