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  1. Jo498

    German politics xth attempt

    Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz are certainly not north of Hesse. The Greens aren't on the left in any meaningful sense, even considering that this word hardly means anything anymore (they are as "left" as Hilary Clinton, i.e. on the left of Trump but not much else). They are completely disconnected from the lower half of the populace and don't care for them, even if they have not publicly used "deplorables" or similar language. They are insufferably paternalist, smugly self-righteous and have hardly achieved anything on their original main topic, environmentalism in the last 10 years. (Remember that RWE was granted the right to raze that forest by a red-green government in NRW.) A few weeks ago there was a good commentary in the taz but I cannot find it anymore and it was from a guest (their regulars are not that smart) who said that the two major parties, namely the CDU and the SPD have allowed two large gaps. These gaps are a (traditional) conservative party and a social democratic party. And these gaps are filled respectively by the AfD and the "Aufstehen" movement or the Wagenknecht/Lafo wing of the Left. I largely agree with that. The only dim hope is that the SPD finally will be waking up now and change their ways. But it is probably too late. Similarly (although I am not sure if this is hopeful), the AfD will maybe achieve only one thing: Push the CDU/CSU a little further to the Right. Probably mainly in bad ways like law and order etc. But as long as there is a "coalition" (basically all but a few of the Left, and the AfD) claiming that there IS NO ALTERNATIVE on a large number of policies (EU, immigration etc.), so these issues are de facto not democratically controlled but rather bureaucratically administered, the AfD will keep growing because, bad and incompetent as they are, they are the only ones who at least claim that there are alternatives and that people should be able to decide between them. Apart from that more general "gap hypothesis" above, I think there are around three issues that made the AfD possible. All three were administered without any democratic control (not to speak of plebiscite) and many people disliked them: the Euro and yielding lots of control to EU bureaucrats since the late 1990s, Saving the banks in 2008 and open borders in 2015. (A fourth factor might be the slashing of pensions, welfare etc. by Red-Green as well as entering several wars that clearly were not defending German (or NATO terrain.)
  2. Jo498

    Exercise and Fitness: bro science debunked

    I have not really proceeded very much with the pull-ups and similar stuff (although I still do a little bit of hanging and a few pull-ups almost every day) but used the great weather (more like summer than mid-october) for running almost every day. I still keep it to comparably short distances (5-7km) and have a rest day every 3-4 days and so far nothing hurts which is good. And the scale scratched almost 70kg, admittedly still from the wrong side. If I go below 70, this will probably be the first time since the last millenium. BMI below 24, still not ideal for running but I don't really plan to go down much further. Otherwise I would have to buy lots of new clothes which I cannot afford...
  3. Jo498

    German politics xth attempt

    I am not sure about this rule of thumb. Hesse is right in the middle and the CDU used to be among the most right wing of all, except the special case of Bavaria. That's why the black-green seemed so incredible. Recall that only 10 years ago this CDU had a slogan using the foreign-sounding names of Ypsilanti (only acquired by marriage to a Greek!) and Al-Wazir to evoke xenophobia. Before that they had used money from illegal donations to finance a campaign against dual citizenship. In brief, they were among the most corrupt and despicable bunch imaginable. And then the Greens showed extreme spinelessness by entering into a coalition with them. I sometimes wonder if I will live to see the day when the Greens suffer for their many 180° turns, I really hope so. But right now they are riding an incredible wave. Anyway, Hesse could become more interesting than Bavaria. If black-green does not get enough votes, the SPD might grasp the opportunity for another black-red-coalition, to their temporary relief but certainly their final decay. Or three-party-coalitions would become necessary. Also, the AfD percentage will be more significant as an indicator without another strong conservative party (as the Bavarian Freie Wähler, there is an analogue in Hesse but they are way below the 5% threshold) around.
  4. With certain qualifications as I am only halfway through and it is not that exciting for us used to more modern pacing, although there is plenty of slaughter, battle and fateful passion, but it is interesting and the fantasy-like colorful exotism, decadence and wanton cruelty could have served as an inspiration for quite a bit of Essos (although I doubt that GRRM has read it), Gustave Flaubert: Salammbô. (Sometimes spelled with one m only and no circumflex.) The real historical background is a war between Carthage and her own former mercenaries (who were not paid properly and thus turned against their former employer) after their defeat in the first war against Rome. The title character is not historical, though (a daughter or the historical Hamilkar Barka and thus would have been an older sister of Hannibal).
  5. Jo498

    U.S. Politics: For Whom the Bell Polls

    Utterly unprofessional. Glokta would be outraged and immediately fire the responsible Practical.
  6. Jo498

    Exercise and Fitness: Keep On Keepin' On

    This is probably a rather German (Austrian, French...) perspective, but a good quality cake (homemade or from a good traditional bakery/confiserie) is most certainly NOT junk food. Anyway, if the furnace burns hot enough it will burn anything.
  7. Jo498

    Science vs. Pseudoscience

    Then everything collapses into skepticism and we don't need any further discussion. We simply bracket each and every bit of knowledge with a skeptical gloss (whatever we think to be the case could be entirely different, because it ain't necessarily so and we might be deceived, brains in the vat etc.). But such a general skeptical gloss is a) a cheap way out of epistemology and b) not the way any scientists think. In fact in my limited experience most scientists are staunch realists until challenged. When challenged, they typically collapse far too quickly into a pragmatist stance: it's all just working models etc. - (I don't want to spend billions of tax money on scientist toys like LHC if it is NOT about discovering deep truth about nature but just fiddling with working hypotheses and models) But even then they don't turn into Pyrrhonian Skeptics. But the point is probably different. There is no problem with evolutionary theory as a theory of a restricted domain, i.e. the evolution of biological systems, including physiology of perception etc. But an inconsistency arises if one takes ET as a theory of almost everything, including epistemology. Because epistemology is about how to arrive at true justified belief = knowledge. Now in evolution everything is mainly survival conducive, including beliefs and human rational faculties. But we need our rational faculties to be truth-conducive which is not at all guaranteed by their evolutionary history. It is doubtful if as some believe the evolutionary history is actually an argument against them leading to the truth, because if there is a difference between survival-conducive (false) beliefs and truth, evolution should favor the former. In fact, there are plenty of examples (found in many popular books) about us miscalculating risks etc. because it is much better to be safe than sorry. There are other things where untrained humans are systematically error-prone. However, the fact that we can actually recognize such differences, e.g. that people make more/different mistakes when presented with logically equivalent problems in different guises, briefly that we can distinguish between correct logic and psychological tendencies (that lead to certain errors) shows that we can to some extent "step outside" our default position with the help of abstraction, logics, maths etc. Logics and maths are both pre-supposition of systematic rational thought and science and they are also far more general than any particular evolutionary developed wetware. Logical derivation and rational justification are simply a different level than physiological-natural causation (or evo history). And we cannot do without them (we can not even formulate arguments, let alone scientific theories) and we cannot deny the existence of such fields of a priori knowledge and "forms of thought" that transcend the biological implementation. From a "pluralist" perspective that takes sciences as restricted to certain domains, this is probably no problem at all. But it is at least very strange from a "naturalist/biologist" perspective that a) such a "realm" of general a priori knowledge exists at all and b) that some smart apes like humans have access to that knowledge.
  8. Jo498

    German politics xth attempt

    But every possible challenger to Merkel will hardly be/look stronger or more confident, quite the contrary. Who would be the backstabber in the hope to become successor? I wouldn't trust any of them but I don't see anyone with the guts or the desperation to try this. I think they will try to weather the next two elections because no big surprises will happen. Sure, both CSU in Bavaria and CDU in Hesse will be weakened but they will still be the strongest party and very probably lead some coalition government. The AfD will not become too strong in these regions. The shit will hit the fan next year with lots of elections, most importantly Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg
  9. Jo498

    Exercise and Fitness: Keep On Keepin' On

    If one has to wear glasses no sport involving a ball is really very good... my favorite in school was volleyball but I was never tall enough to play it competitively (and my decen aerobic capacity as a kid was also wasted there).
  10. Jo498

    Exercise and Fitness: Keep On Keepin' On

    Handball is said to be more rough and dirty than soccer which seems hard to believe at first. Fortunately I never had do play it at school. In my school time in the 1980s and in my region of Germany it was clearly the second favorite after soccer and professionally the local clubs were doing far better than the soccer clubs, several playing in the first German handball league, I think. (Although the best team from the major town is a basketball team and has been for decades.)
  11. Jo498

    Exercise and Fitness: Keep On Keepin' On

    I guess you could describe handball as a mix between basketball and soccer. I was not aware of the ambiguity, anyway it is this sport here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handball I don't think all that many people have such "heavy build" naturally (most of us are not Samoans), i.e. without lots steroids (kidding) or specialized training, especially not as teenagers when most nonprofessional team sports take place. So depending on what and how one trains one might not develop such a heavy build or will in spite of it develop enough aerobic capacity and agility to do well in soccer or basketball. Many of them can still play defensive positions or goalie in soccer, probably also ice hockey. Or they have to forego team sports and do something else like shot put, weight lifting, maybe rowing or boxing. But it is an interesting point. Maybe one reason why soccer is so immensely popular throughout the world is that it can accomodate lots of body types even at a professional level. I mean, what other professional sport could someone like Maradona (very short and slightly stocky) have excelled in? But even then, if one is slim/slight for ones age and not very fast and agile, one will typically not be good at any popular team sport.
  12. Jo498

    Science vs. Pseudoscience

    The idealized model proposed is not fulfilled by a lot of "hard sciences" as for example geology and biology are far less general than most physics or chemistry and often deal with "single systems", say the ecology of one particular island or the anatomy of one species. (And as I seem to recall from the 1990s even hard physics often dealt with very "poor statistics", I think the top quark or one of the more exotic things back then orginally was discovered on a very narrow data basis of at first only a handful of "events".) Anyway, the problem with economics as well as lots of sociology, psychology, nutrition science, educational science, even plenty of medicine (many fields that have done poorly in reproduction studies) is mainly that we have extremely complex systems that are very hard (or unethical) to screen from outside influences. (There are also new feedback loops. Chemical systems do not care about chemistry. But economical systems use economical theories to organize themselves.) So often we can only do so much and the alternative would be not to do any inquiry into these fields at all which usually would be worse (maybe not always, though). It is true that often the mantle of science is used to present rather uncertain, restricted and ungeneralizable results as "scientific" but overall I'd say one could classify even the more problematic of these sciences more charitably as "protoscience" (like 18th century chemistry or so). They will maybe never leave that stage, it is simply naive to expect the universe to be such that all systems at all scales can be inquired into with methods that worked extremely well in physics and chemistry. So skepticism is certainly called for. Because of their immense societal influence and power I am more worried about this problem in medicine and economics than in sociology, though. As for (most of) the humanities, they usually are not pseudoscience because their methods are entirely different, they deal with a different kind of "data" e.g. history and we (should) trust them to have developed appropriate methods that are simply different from natural sciences.
  13. Jo498

    Exercise and Fitness: Keep On Keepin' On

    futbol, football, Fußball, calcio... is the main reason American football is not popular elsewhere. I wonder about the history of rugby on the continent. To me it seemed non-existing (it certainly is in the normal German media), that is, I knew that it was played in Britain, I am surprised that France is so good there. Although a quick check reveals that it is the only non-commonwealth nation with considerable success. Rowing is not really an elite sport in Germany. Germany never had the equivalent to Oxbridge or the Ivy League and while there are sports in HS and at university, they don't really play a role comparable to some other countries (and sports was never really mixed with academics here; I guess the Germans lost WWI because they had not been steeled on the playing fields of Eton or Rugby) . With rowing clubs people don't need to buy their own rowing boats. Sure, it is not "plebeian" as football but not as elite as e.g. tennis used to be until the Becker-triggered boom of the mid/late 1980s Handball has an interesting history. Until the 1950/60s it was mainly played outside on a soccer field (but with smaller goals, I think) with 11 players. Because this was apparently rather boring and because of the inclement weather in the central/northern European countries where it was popular it moved inside and turned into a rather different fast-paced game. Before women's soccer became a thing it was the most popular analogue to football for girls in Germany (and probably many other European countries).
  14. Jo498

    Exercise and Fitness: Keep On Keepin' On

    How on earth did you get the rugby idea? Admittedly, I didn't even know that France and Italy did rugby at all, for me it was entirely a UK + commonwealth thing, almost like Cricket or Polo. But overall I am pretty sure that even something like field/lawn hockey is bigger in most of Europe (ice hockey certainly is as a professional and spectator sport). The by far most popular European team sport that is almost ignored in the anglo-world is handball. With rowing it is more complicated. As said, the Eight of Germany or the UK are objects of national pride and you will probably have a rowing club in every city with a lake or river. But I doubt that participation is even remotely comparable to tennis or the "simpler" endurance sports like swimming, cycling, running. Probably because sports do not have the role in HS and college in Europe they have in the US the gap between (semi)professional or highly ambitious sport and hobby/fitness sport/exercise is larger, I believe. That is, there will be far fewer people than in the US who played or exercised a sport on the rather high level of many US HS or college teams in their youth. Another difference is (or at least used to be) that in Europe, "fit" typically means slim and in good condition in general or for endurance sports whereas in the US it seems to mean (very) muscular and good at weightlifting.
  15. Jo498

    Exercise and Fitness: Keep On Keepin' On

    Rugby is irrelevant in continental Europe. Rowing is a small niche. You always have to distinguish between popular spectator sports and popular participation. As a simple rule, football (soccer) dominates both in Europe by a huge margin. After this it depends on the country, handball and basketball are fairly popular in most of continental Europe and there is also some participation, especially by teenagers. Professional rowing is the pride of some nations (UK and Germany, for instance) and it is also somewhat popular as a hobby, but not even close to running, cycling, swimming etc. I don't know how close the connection between fitness goals in middle age and popular spectator or other sports is.