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Jo498

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Everything posted by Jo498

  1. Jo498

    Joy in the morning

    As for children's books: "Winter holiday" of Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" series even has a mumps quarantine! Highly recommended although one should start with the first book.
  2. Jo498

    Plague Lit...

    Sure. I am still glad that I finally got around starting the Decamerone, it's apparently one of the most influential prose works of the Western canon. The stories are all over the place from single page anecdotes (some are a bit trite or maybe relay on wordplay or nuances I don't get in translation) to short novellas, from morality fables to hilarious and saucy adventures (like one guy first accidentally falling down a latrine and later ending up (almost) in a bishop's sarcophagus he grave-robbed. The girl narrators might modestly blush but their tales are not prudish at all...
  3. Jo498

    Joy in the morning

    I used to like Tom Sharpe (whom I just conflated with Tom Holt, I don't think I have read anything by the latter), at least the few (mostly of the Wilt series) I read, years ago. Also David Lodge (often a bit too heavy on humanities university stuff) but both might not have aged as well as Wodehouse. The 1970s and 80s can be further away than the timeless pseudo-Edwardian age of Jeeves, Wooster, Uncle Fred, Lord Emsworth, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Barmy Fotheringay-Fipps, Honoria Glossop and all the others). Is "Joy in the Morning" the one with the improvised Blackface and lack of butter for removing the boot-polish? Wodehouse lost his edge at some stage in the 1950s but at his prime he is supreme and second rate Wodehouse is often still better than lots of other stuff. Graham Greene also has some rather funny ones, Travels with my Aunt, and Our man in Havana.
  4. Jo498

    Plague Lit...

    There is one Judge Dee novel ( I think "The willow pattern") that takes place during a plague outbreak in the city the judge presides over. It's not one of the best of the series, but still pretty good. Szczypiorski: A mass for the city of Arras (Msza za miasto Arras) Based on real events around 1460 Ph. Roth: Nemesis There is another shorter story at the back of my head (somewhat like Poes "Masque..." but I might be conflating it with another one. Coetzee: Waiting for the Barbarians (might not have the plague, I don't remember details but a great sense of impending doom) There are lots of books with episodes concerning outbreaks of or otherwise dealing with horrible diseases, e.g. Michener's "Hawaii" has one episode taking mostly place in the Lepra colony; I think there is also a Hornblower story with the plague. I started the Decameron yesterday (I am through with the first day of the eponymous deka hemerai). It has a fairly close description of AD 1348 plague-ridden Florence in the introduction/frame-story, but the stories told so far have no connection to the plague at all.
  5. Jo498

    Why does anyone like the idea of "the Singularity"

    This is an "argument" on the level that the Eiffel Tower is just something working men built from steel but that could be easily destroyed with a bomb, so it is not something that is "there".
  6. Jo498

    First Quarter 2020 Reading

    It starts *very* slow; the first 150 pages or so could/should have been condensed to half of this. It is also annoying that very shortish episodes without much action alternate. But it gets better. It does never get really good, IMO, but not so bad that it would not be somewhat entertaining. Overall, people who like Abercrombie are probably gonna love it as it basically has the same style, faults and strengths as his older books. Edit: I am about 70-80% through with Strange and Norrell. This is also a flawed book (too long and sluggish, among other things) but pretty great anway. And so much better written than most typical fantasy
  7. Jo498

    Tolkien 3.0

    Sorry, Varys, you know very well that a lot of this is historically simply wrong. Constantinople was a Theocracy. But Western Roman Catholicism was always based on the division of worldly and church power (despite the actual church leaders often striving for a lot of the former). In fact, Western Christianity is one of the very few (I am actually not aware of any other but I don't know much about Asia) civilizations in the history of mankind that developed a separation of church and state in modern times (besides also being of course the only civilization to ever develop something like enlightenment and "modernity") and this is clearly rooted in the fact that there was Pope and Emperor with some balance of power (and frequent struggles between them) and precisely not ONE SINGLE God-Emperor as in most or all Asian civilizations. And again, the Second coming is precisely the reason why it is antichristian to have a "total government" in the way of God-Emperors or Maoism or whatever. Because regardless of whether one actually believes in a second coming the whole point is that the temporal kingdoms are finite and not "the last word". Because the Kingdom of God is "not of this world" and the end of history is not some perfect earthly paradise. It's exactly the opposite of both ancient God-Emperors, Caliphates or modern totaliarianisms.
  8. Jo498

    Athletics World Championships - 2019

    As many other track & field fans I was very skeptical about these Doha championships. I still think that it was wrong to have them there. And the conditions for the women's marathon and the race walking events must have been cruel (men's marathon apparently was not as bad). But apart from that it was a very good event. The conditions in the ACed stadium were close to optimal for most events except for the long throws (the men's javelin was the weakest event). And there were stunning competitions, often very close and exciting or with extraordinarily strong marks.
  9. Jo498

    Athletics World Championships - 2019

    She does look scarily thin, one shouldn't deny that. Extremely low body fat. Don't try this at home but I think with the close supervision by nutritionists and doctors that world class athletes usually get it seems that she is apparently o.k. Especially female athletes with too low a weight tend to get bone injuries (stress fractures) and this has led to the end of many careers but Klosterhalfen never had such an injury (which is quite common among high level runners, even those not having very low weight), so it works for her. As I said, she has had this appearance now for about 6 seasons of professional sports on an internationally competitive level (she already went to the Rio olympics at 19 and got as far as the 1500m semifinal), so she didn't drop there from a considerably higher weight. If you look at her instagram she can be seen lifting weights (and also some slightly creepy modelling pictures as well, although harmless for instagram standards I guess).
  10. Jo498

    Athletics World Championships - 2019

    Klosterhalfen has been looking roughly like this since she became internationally competitive at 17 in 2014. Since then people have been crying out that this anorectic body could not sustain a professional career. They were wrong; she has actually been injured far less than most other runners and kept improving all the time. If anything, she is a bit more muscular now than in 2016-17. She must be healthier than it looks, otherwise she simply could not have kept on professional training for now around 5-6 years. She is the greatest middle/long distance running talent Germany has ever had and has good chances to become the best woman without African heritage ever on the track distances (Paula Radcliffe's Marathon WR is still another thing, but Klosterhalfen has already beaten Paula's and Sonia O'Sullivan's as well as several Eastern Europeans' 3000m and 5000m times at only 22). Her bronze medal was the first non-African medal in the women's 5000m WC/Olympics since 2003. And as Luke said, have look at the shot putters. They don't look healthy either, only in a different direction.
  11. Jo498

    Literature Of Old: Plutarch, Appian, Herodotus

    Of course, Xenophon's Memorabilia is also important and supposed to give an account of the historical Socrates that is more neutral than what can be glimpsed from Plato's dialogues Now I looked it up, he wrote even TWO books on horses, one on horses and horsemanship in general (peri hippikês) and one about cavalry (hipparchikos, the cavalry commander).
  12. In Germany, petrol is almost twice as expensive as in the US (and has been for decades), mostly because of taxes. Regardless of this the number of cars doubled in the last 35 years or so (admittedly I cannot figure out the effect of the union with the Eastern part on this). In all countries that are fairly densely populated and have at least in most regions decent train/tram/metro public transport, we need to get rid of most cars. Not replace petrol cars by e-cars that are marginally (if at all) better for the environment. And the private cars that are still needed in rural regions should mostly be more like covered e-motorcycles, i.e. small and light, not like typical petrol cars of today. But again, this is socially and economically impossible in the current framework and conditions. Not gonna happen. Instead engineering ingenuity yields something like this, simply pure madness and therefore a valid symbol for our situation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porsche_Taycan
  13. Jo498

    Literature Of Old: Plutarch, Appian, Herodotus

    Ranke-Graves "Claudius" is mostly based on Suetonius, isn't it? There is always the problem of historians being rather polemical despite claiming to write "sine ira et studio", without wrath or partisanship. E.g., the notion of Nero as a total brute (like in seen in the book/movie "Quo vadis?") is due to Suetonius and Tacitus and wildly exaggerated. As for Plato: If someone wants to read only one, it should be the Republic. But to start there are much better choices like Symposion, Phaidon, Apology etc. Even Gorgias, despite being fairly long (and not with the best ratio of content and length)
  14. Jo498

    Literature Of Old: Plutarch, Appian, Herodotus

    You could also try Xenophon who was a captain of cavalry, AFAIR. I think he also wrote a book about horses but the most famous ones are Anabasis (Retreat to the sea, from some military campaign in the middle east) and the Kyroupaidia, the (idealized) education of the Persian king. Admittedly, I never read him. Supposedly somewhat boring, it used to be among the standard texts when studying Greek at school because it is fairly easy straightforward prose (but my teacher preferred other stuff, e.g. Herodotus). The rough parallel in Latin is Caesar's Gallic War. There is also a Latin "clone" of Plutarch, Cornelius Nepos: Lives of illustrous men, but this is probably redundant after Plutarch. The most important next Greek historian would be Thucydides who is not as much fun as Herodotus but more "modern" (less hearsay and saucy stories, more political analysis). And among the Latin writers Livy and Tacitus
  15. A swede will be one of the people most affected by climate change? I think y'all are still missing the important points. It's not a few guys unwilling to give up their gas-guzzlers and having wet dreams about life on Mars (read the bloody book about the "Martian" to realize that this is a cold and dry dream). The comparison to an actual war is misleading. Of course almost anything would be possible with WW II like efforts. But this not going to happen. We knew most of what the "spoiled brats" are telling us since 20 years before they were even born. But we have done very little while continually paying lip service and producing even more hot air and CO2 by flying to big conferences in Rio, Kyoto, Paris and elsewhere. Why on earth should we suddenly change and not keep doing almost the same as for the last 20 years? In fact, most developments (societal, consumerist, geopolitical, economical) in the last 20-30 years have been clearly in the wrong direction. Both directly through fast consumerism, SUVs, flying galore in the "West" and the industrial development of huge formerly third world countries in the East and South. And indirectly by losing control of rabid global corporations (led by the "financial sector"), losing control of public infrastructure through privatization, rising social tensions through precarization, concentration of wealth, migration, economic pressure by globalization. It's not flesh and blood, it's powers and dominations. They are in control, the structures are rigged in their favor and they are not going to budge. But what should not be done? Don't drive, if possible, walk, ride a bike, use public transport. But recall that the latter also uses up lots of resources. Also a new hybrid or electric car can make things worse overall because of the resources already used up by production. Try to change your life's needs so that they can be met locally without long commutes, drives etc. Don't buy anything you don't absolutely need. Buy mostly used stuff (clothes, electronics, etc.). Share appliances, tools, cars etc. if possible. Use libraries. Buy local food. Grow or raise your own food. Reduce meat and dairy (except for locally grown). Share housing, live below your means to save space and heating. Take cold showers. Don't fly, don't take holidays in faraway places. Do a local tour with your bike or go somewhere by train. Boycott or disinvest global companies with bad envirommental records.
  16. Jo498

    What should be done... about climate change

    Greta is a symbol and she might eventually feel abused by what is happening with her now. But the problem is known since at least 30-40 years (some things since more than 50 years) and while some measures have been taken, the overall development since then was in a wrong direction. That's why I am extremely sceptical that it will be different this time. I am sounding like a stuck record, but again, simply look at the aspects of western lifestyle that are taken for granted today and that hardly existed 35 years ago or became far worse from a climate change perspective in that time, like frequent flying, fast fashion, takeaway meals and drinks, 24/7 streaming (while feeling "minimalist" rather than consumerist because no shelves of videotapes), new gadgets every two years, fat SUVs, etc. And structurally it is also rather worse because rabid capitalism seems without alternative (this was different in the 70s and early 80s and the capitalism of that time had been tamed) and political cronyism seems more powerful than ever.
  17. Jo498

    What should be done... about climate change

    I am not desperate. I simply think that people are kidding themselves wrt measures that can realistically be taken to change the way of living. And most political or public reactions all pretend that almost everything can just stay as it is, we will simply use electric cars or some far-fetched scifi things not having been developed yet. There are also plenty of fig leafs, e.g. banning plastic bags in Germany where we have had to pay for most of them since many years and where most of them are re-used and recycled or at least collected. Hardly any of these bags ends up in the landscape or ocean. (Also canvas bags or similar ones have been distributed or sold to replace plastic since the 1980s!) These fig leafs make people feel good while they don't have to change serious things about their lifestyle. What FFF etc. are demanding are often climate goals signed already in the mid-1990s by western countries but mainly ignored afterwards. Why should we expect that after 25 years of inaction (or often worse) this should suddenly change? I pointed out that theree are a bunch of bad lifestyle developments since then people will not easily give up (frequent flying, fast fashion, mail ordering about everything, takeaway with its flood of styrofoam cups, more electronic gadgets with shorter half lifes), far less go back to a mid-1960s level of quality of life or so. And almost all other conditions for such changes have become worse as well since the early 1990s. We have much stronger social tensions in Western countries because of precarization, economic differences, migration. The goverments have made themselves weaker and more dependent on big corporations, including privatization of infrastructure. Public infrastructure has (sometimes because of privatization, sometimes not) often deteriorated. And the economic pressures have risen because of China and other countries becoming serious competitors. They are now some subgroups stressing that socio-economical change is a precondition for the fight against climate change but this is also double-edged because they (usually some kind of far left) will alienate most of the populace and be easy scapegoats for the right winger who claim that this all is just a pretense for a new commie rebellion.
  18. Jo498

    What should be done... about climate change

    I think there was a misunderstanding. I was not talking about climate curves. I am not sure about them but I don't at all want to dispute their plausibilty. I was talking about curves representing the # of cars and flight miles etc. I wrote all this many pages ago. When did the bloody conferences in Rio and Kyoto take place? 1995? Look at the development since then. It went in the WRONG direction: More cars, more planeflights. About the only thing that has been flat or slightly decreasing since the 90s (actually stable/decreasing since the 80s in Germany) is meat consumption so many love to preach about. In virtually anything else (including exotic plant foods brought in by plane, like every vegan's favorite avocado) we became worse, often much worse in the last 30 years. While being environmentally conscious all the time with our loud mouths. And for people born in that time this is simply their accustomed lifestyle. They have trouble imagining it could be any different. They are not aware how much energy the servers use so they can live "minimalist" lifestyles without shelves of videotapes like their consumerist 1980s parents because they stream everything at anytime. And so on. Without the force of something like the French or Russian revolution nobody will make western Joe and Jane Sixpack change their lifestyles as radically as it would be necessary. Maybe we get such a revolution (it would have the additional "benefit" of killing a few million or so) but I seriously doubt that. If politicians take away people's lifestyle (and recall that in many countries under/middle class people have been struggling or just getting by for a decade or two), they will not be re-elected. Then you will have Bolsonaro types im power and no climate conscious policy at all. If there will be catastrophic developments the people the respective region will simply have to suffer them. The world is not changing their lifestyle and it very probably is economically impossible anyway (again "impossible" short of a 1917 scale worldwide revolution). Because worldwide is the next important word. IF the west had done something in 1997 or so, it would have had a large impact because they were the main resource wasters. Now the impact of Western Europe and even the US is comparably small compared to India and China. Germany and France are almost irrelevant on that scale, Sweden most certainly is neglegible.
  19. Jo498

    What should be done... about climate change

    I don't doubt that psychotherapists might become busy. But a lot of this is lipservice and affects only very few people, probably often overly sensitive or with pre-conditions. Look at # and sales of cars in the last 20 years, look at # of flight miles etc. and nobody will believe that such curves will suddenly turn around, they might get less steep but even if the become flat we are a very long way from a turnaround. It is socially and economically impossible. Everything that is happening right now is actually strengthening this impression for me despite lip service to the contrary. I grew up in German "hereditary guilt culture" (although for some reason it was different in the 1980s, probably because of more first hand contact with grandparents who only remembered their suffering in the war, not what they were responsible for) and I think it is absurd to feel personal guilt for things that my grandfather was to some extent (if only by not dying as a martyr to prevent them) responsible for. This hand has been overplayed and we already feel a rightwing backlash. And here we are dealing with very concrete atrocities where we can name names. I think it is downright pathological to feel guilt for more distant or more general historical conditions like slavery. This existed since the dawn of time and we might as well be proud that "we" (western European nations in the last 200 years) were almost the only civilization that abolished and fought slavery. Although this pride would be silly as well because *I* didn't risk any wealth, health or career by supporting abolition. (And of course we still had and have and support conditions not so much better than slavery.) Do all what you can to fight slavery and similar conditions NOW but don't waste any guilt about distant history. History was what it was and it was brutal most of the time, but that's the snow of the last millenium. And the same applies to people feeling guilt for what they think of as simply living their lives and doing their jobs. Nobody who is not somewhat pathologically oversensitive or whatever one would call such a condition will fall for this. Call it repression but it is a "normal and healthy" repression.
  20. Jo498

    What should be done... about climate change

    This "guilt" is far too "distributed" to work. For an atomic bomb or a death camp you could name authors or at least nations who were responsible. (And as has been pointed out certain nations/groups deal with clearly attributable atrocities in quite different ways as everybody knows but for some reasons hardly ever bothers to mention.) But almost everybody (and therefore nobody) would be "responsible" (in the vague and indirect sense of contributing to climate change aka living a normal western lifestyle) if a drought or flood gets worse because of climate change than usual and 100k people die instead of only 10k. As for wars, there is no more obviously just war than the one fought defending your home and your family. It's almost irrelevant if the attackers are fleeing from flood or fire, they are aggressors and you are the defender. Furthermore, almost all mainstream parties and factions in Western countries seem mostly fine with aggressive wars to secure resources/access etc. in distant regions under thin pretense. These wars are clearly unjust (compared to home defense) and de facto supported and sustained by most liberal/leftist parties. So we are fine with unjust wars, why should we have qualms with justifiable home defense?
  21. Does any of the later books fill the gaps in the first trilogy? E.g. I never really got what happened around Thorbardin, did I simply forget it or is this glanced over in the first trilogy? The most annoying thing about the first trilogy might be that Laurana morphs from spoiled brat to great leaderess almost off screen and in that latter function is insufferable.
  22. The "Twins Trilogy" is much better, the first trilogy has a few good scenes and characters but overall feels disjointed and episodic (for the reasons pointed out above). And of course not very well written (although I think it is a bit better than what I've read of Crystal Shard and Drizzt Do Urden where some episodes read like RPG scripts which they probably started out as). I never read the "second generation" after enduring a couple of standalones ("Wanderlust" and another one, I think) that were really bad. As for the juvenile talking this is still a problem with highly regarded "adult fantasy" of today. Even decent writers seem to have hardly any clue for levels of language or they do them in a very heavy-handed way (roughly in parallel with social distinctions). Martin's actually lost such distinctions in language and the way people talk. They exist in the first book or two but by volume 5 not only Tyrion but also Danaerys or Jaime mostly talk or at least think like guttersnipes. And it's worse in some supposedly more "hard-boiled" books.
  23. Jo498

    The Simulation hypothesis

    What I called "moot" is the focus on "accuracy". The word doesn't have any impact if one does not already agree that a) our perceived/scientifically modelled world is roughly as it appears to be and b) it is possible to simulate this perception to a certain accuracy that it becomes indistinguishable from the reality. But if we are in VR from "births" and all the time we have no clue about a) and therefore nothing to compare reality or simulation with and therefore in b) accuracy or indistinguishability becomes a moot point. The VR could be wildly "inaccurate" or fantastic on purpose. The "simulation hypothesis" is both specific (with the ass-pulled probabilities) and unspecific in the way you point out. But regardless of this, I struggle to understand how one could not agree that it would be momentous news to realize that I am not a human in a world that is roughly like it appears to common sense and science but rather some pure spirit or some computational structure falsely believing to be a material human in a world that is roughly as it appears etc. (Again, I don't know enough about Vedanta, Buddhism and similar eastern religions, but neither Judaism nor Islam nor Christianity expect me to believe that I was wrong about all this. They agree that most of my worldly knowledge is largely correct. It merely has to be supported/expanded by some spiritual or revealed knowledge about nonmaterial beings.) I don't see how alternatives in laws of nature or the setup of the universe are relevant here. There was never a scientific theory that was not underdetermined by data. There was never a theoretical framework for these data forced by logic and maths alone. There are always choices in theory-building. (That seems part of the plight of string theory: too many options, not enough restrictions.) But a simulation would have far fewer restrictions, so nothing like this would apply.
  24. Jo498

    The Simulation hypothesis

    "Accuracy" is a distraction and basically a moot point. Recall, there is no way for those "inside" the simulation to compare it with an outside universe (if the latter exists at all). Simulation is actually the wrong term, one should rather say virtuality or VR. Nobody could know if it is a simulation of something similar or just a completely fantastic VR that bears little or no relation to a universe outside (if the latter exists at all). Nobody in this VR has ever done a physics experiment. Certain "minds" have been fed certain data that created the appearance that they were doing a physics experiment or more likely that they read about such an experiment in a pop science magazin. Recall again, there is no need for 7 billion minds. It could be only you ( e.g. an apparent accountant who never did any physics beyong middle school (in her VR "life history") being fed the impression that you live in a world with 7 billion people etc. If the virtuality hypothesis is correct, almost everything you believed is (utterly and completely) wrong. (Think of the matrix, only far more radical as you might not be a human in a vat but something else.) It's a much more radical reversion or leap of faith than starting to believe in e.g. traditional christianity. The latter leaves almost all of your former beliefs in place (there is world with humans and animals one interacts with, one's sense impressions and current science are basically correct about its domain etc.), it only requires to expand this to a bunch of miracles and an additional larger domain of being that is immaterial and includes angels etc.
  25. Jo498

    The Simulation hypothesis

    Not quite. To remain within the cave metaphor: In the simulation argument we are still the prisoners in the cave and the simulators are the ones doing the pageantry we are watching. But there is no world outside the cave with the real things and the sun (or at least it is not necessary for the argument). So there is an important difference in that there seems to be no way to get "enlightened" and step out of the simulation but for Plato it is possible to get out of the cave by philosophy and maybe spiritual discipline. This lack of enlightenment is another point where the simulation is a poor simulacrum of more traditional religion or spirituality. And the simulation theory also misses the main point of the realm of forms (outside of the cave), namely to explain the regularity of the appearances, the objectivity of maths etc. It's the wrong kind of idealism, namely Berkeley's , not Plato's they give a simulacrum of.
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