Jump to content


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Mentat

  • Rank
    Council Member

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location

Recent Profile Visitors

4,573 profile views
  1. Mentat

    Catalan thread continued

    I read an interesting statement by an Italian MEP saying the problem here is that the EU doesn't have an electoral law of its own, and instead has to rely on each individual member state's electoral laws. Spanish electoral laws state that in order to hold public office you have to perform a ceremonial swearing of the constitution before a Spanish official (who then gives you a letter of office). The Catalan politicians who are living elsewhere in Europe on a self-imposed exile and who were elected as MEP weren't recognized in Spain because they hadn't complied with this procedure. The ECJ eventually stated that the right of political representation trumped this merely procedural provision of Spanish law, so Puigdemont and Comín can now occupy their seats in the EP. With Junqueras it's less straightforward, because the provision in Spanish law is that a convicted felon cannot hold public office (which, in isolation, seems reasonable enough the ECJ can't really object). Since the ECJ doesn't really have a purview over the fairness of specific sentences passed by member states' courts, once the conviction was firm, the EP had no alternative but to terminate Junqueras' mandate. Europe's stance regarding nationalist movements within its member states continues to range between unfriendliness and pretending they don't happen and hoping they'll just go away on their own or that the member states will deal with them somehow (which is one of the reasons why they have hardly objected when Spain has been... let us say overzealous in dealing with the issue). Hopefully the new Spanish government will make head in it's negotiations with the ERC and we can arrive to some kind of solution.
  2. Mentat

    UK Politics: And Brexit came swirling down

    I may be mistaken, but I think we're confusing Capitalism (an economic system based on private ownership of most property and enterprise where most resources are allocated through trade) which usually opposes Communism (an economic system based on public ownership of most property and enterprise where most resources are allocated through policy) and Socialism (a political system based on a high level of taxation and regulation of the economy resulting in an abundance of public services and public redistribution of wealth through policy) which usually opposes Liberalism (a political system based on a low level of taxation and regulation of the economy resulting in a scarcity of public services and private redistribution of wealth through market forces). I'm not so sure. In Spain at least this would imply previously repealing the Constitution and leaving the European Union. In most western countries this would probably imply a major upheaval of their political systems rather than simply passing a law. The concept of means of production is also much more difficult to pin down than it used to be in Marx's day. All this said, I feel that this conversation is veering steadily away from UK politics. If someone would like to open a new thread, I feel like there's quite a lot of interesting things to discuss, though.
  3. I thought the "A God walks into a bar" episode had some glaring plot-holes (some of which have been commented on by others). - Why does Dr. Manhattan fall in love? At the end of Watchmen he was shown as becoming increasingly detached from humanity and his human emotions, completely unable to make his relationship with Laurie work. After 20 years I would expect him to be surfing the cosmos, not picking up girls in bars. There's also a bit of a bogus causal loop with his ability to experience all time simultaneously, where he goes to meet Angela because he knows he will fall in love with her, but wouldn't have fallen in love with her if he hadn't decided to meet her. - How on earth did the 7th K manage to beat/disable Dr. Manhattan? It's established that he's basically immortal and that it's beyond the powers of even the smartest man on earth to harm him. That's what makes Veidt's plan to alienate him and make him leave via the cancer scare so brilliant. It's completely implausible that the 7th K red-necks (with whatever tech they cooked up) could better Veidt's ultimately fruitless efforts. Also, as has been said, Dr. Manhattan could have disintegrated all of them and their weapon with a single snap of his fingers. The only thing that makes sense is that he loses on purpose, somehow foreseeing a better outcome and doing an Endgame gambit, but to what end? I speculate that the whole plot may be an attempt by Dr. Manhattan to commit suicide by presenting himself as a threat and have Lady Trieu somehow destroy him with whatever it is she's building. - Dr. Manhattan becoming human also seems like nonsense. It seems unlikely he would want to in the first place. The way he handles his relationship with Angela and its bumps seems completely different from the way he handles Laurie or his previous girlfriend (his colleague from the physics lab) and a being that exists at all times simultaneously doesn't learn from its past mistakes. Veidt's amnesia device which attaches to his frontal lobe (which it seems unlikely he even uses, as it has been established that his consciousness is not dependant on an organic brain, regardless of him adopting a human appearance) also seems far too gimmicky. In short, the Dr. Manhattan we get seems very different to the Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen. He's somehow living the Superman 2 subplot, but the whole point of his characterization in Watchmen is that such a powerful being would find it increasingly difficult to retain any semblance of humanity or attachment to humans (unlike Superman). I think Dr. Manhattan's powers are somehow dependant on him perceiving the atomic structure of everything in order to manipulate it (kind of like Neo's powers stem from his consciousness of the Matrix), that said, at this point I wouldn't rule anything out...
  4. Mentat

    UK Politics: A Partly Political Broadcast

    A reasonable concern, but you needn't fear. The c in Scexit is silent (as in Scion). The correct pronunciation is Sex-it. Also, watch Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance if you haven't.
  5. Mentat

    Catalan thread continued

    Sorry to necro this thread, but the sentencing against the Catalan politicians involved in the secession referendum just came out today (as reported generally in the news, here's a link to The Guardian). A bit of a mixed bag. They were found not guilty of rebellion but guilty of sedition, misallocation of public funds and disobeying a court order, with sentences of between 9 and 13 years prison and bans of holding public office for most of them. That said, though the prosecution requested the court rule the defendants should spend at least half of their sentence in jail the court refused to do so, which means after having spent a quarter of their sentencing in jail they could be out on probation. Since most of them have already spent two years in prison, this could be relatively soon. Likely there will be a human rights violation case bought before the ECJ on this issue. There do seem to be some irregularities regarding the judicial process (though in my opinion they're quite minor), so the Catalan politicians might have a case (though the ECJ will only rule on any possible violation of human rights or lack of due process, it will not review the sentencing given by the Spanish court).
  6. Mentat

    The Charitable Deduction and American Anti-Statism

    In Spain you can get a deduction from your income tax of up to a 10% of your liquid income for donations to approved charities. Since the % of your liquid income that is paid as tax is progressive, the deduction is progressive on paper, though people with low income obviously have less disposable income to spend on charities. I'd guess a good amount of charity donations goes to the Catholic Church. This is interesting. Do you have some numbers or stats available you can share?
  7. Mentat

    The Simulation hypothesis

    In the first possibilities there are two 'me'. The original 'me', who is a human out in the really real world and the second 'me' who is a simulation of the original me built for nefarious or scientific reasons. The second 'me' is still a conscious entity independent of the real me (which might well continue existing after the biological 'me' is dead). It doesn't really matter if it's some lines of code, a brain in a vat or a digital scanner of my brain. The physical reality behind the ghost is irrelevant (though going back to my original post, a digital scanner of my brain seems like the easiest way to go about this). In the second example there is also a 'me'. I might be nothing more than some lines of code in a computer, but in terms of individuality that doesn't really make me any different than, say, HAL 9000 or the Terminator. Moreover, remember that a simulation as an experiment doesn't offer any valid data outside of its frame of reference, so the really real would have to be similar to the simulation for it to have any purpose. A good example of this is the Black Mirror episode 'Hang the DJ'. Though we never get to see outside the box there is a heavy implication that what is out there is very similar to what is in there, otherwise the whole thing makes no sense. The Sims are also a good example because, while the individual Sims aren't currently self-aware, their world is an abstract representation of the real world their creator (programmer) inhabits. If, in a thousand years, The Sims 800 includes self aware Sims for the player to coddle or abuse, each Sim will think of itself as 'me', and they won't be wrong. The personality of these future Sims might well be a digital copy of the personality of actual humans. No, in a simulation scenario there must be a 'creator' entity from the really real who is (or was) responsible for the simulation existing and a conscious entity that exists within the simulation and is unaware of the fact that it lives in a simulation rather than in reality (hence, is being tricked or fooled). Your Xbox is not a conscious entity (and neither is Kait, though she would be more akin to what I was thinking of if you want to use a video game as an example).
  8. Mentat

    The Simulation hypothesis

    But there has to be a 'you'. Otherwise who is being tricked? It might be that I'm not who I think I am, but there must be a ghost within this simulation or the whole proposition stops making sense. The ghost might be an AI, a brain in a vat, a human in a pod a la Matrix or whatever else you fancy, but that doesn't really matter. If reality is a simulation then whatever is outside the simulation (really real) is unknowable, as is the nature of the ghost in the simulation. There must be something out there to support the simulation, though, and something in there to be fooled by it. Otherwise you have, indeed, lost me.
  9. Mentat

    The Simulation hypothesis

    Why do you think that?
  10. Mentat

    The Simulation hypothesis

    The easiest way to simulate a human experience would be to interface with the brain and make the brain believe it was seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling something that it wasn't. Creating an entirely fictional experience in the way someone creates a Hollywood movie may seem complicated, but it doesn't necessarily have to work that way. Imagine you can record an hour of my life with a device and that someone else can then relive that hour with a similar device experimenting everything I felt just exactly the same way I did. Why, you could even record a persons entire life and then have that be the simulation. You could have millions of people living that one same life in a simulation. It may seem that this wouldn't work because it would be a completely passive experience (the person in the simulation just gets to live a life vicariously, but doesn't get to make any decisions), but I think there's a good chance it would (the person in the simulation would simply get 'overwritten' by the original person who lived the life and come and regard their personality and decisions as their own).
  11. Even if he really, really wanted to do this, I can't see Boris Johnson conjuring up a majority in the current HoC to pass anything. He has alienated the opposition and a good chunk of his own party to extents Theresa May never did. He really needs a GE and a different HoC (and he knows this perfectly well, hence his insistence on a GE).
  12. See, if I was a remainer I'd want to have the GE before October 31st. At that point it's become perfectly obvious that there are no alternative arrangements and no possibility of a deal being put in place. The Conservatives would effectively be running on a pure No Deal Brexit platform. Of course, if they win the GE they might well be able to take back the request for an extension or do something else that ensures Brexit on the 31/10... but as much as I hate the idea of Brexit, the UK is a democracy, and at that point I think it's fair enough. The turkeys have voted for Christmas and then doubled down. Let them have their day. An election post-October with an extension may make some of Boris' foibles more apparent, but Jeremy Corbyn has also been known to put rope to good use when he's given some, and it basically allows the Conservatives to run a campaign based on going back to Brussels and forcing them to accept a New Better Deal which Boris Johnson will force down Brussels throat, because he's not afraid of No Deal, and that means Brussels will ultimately cave to whatever his demands happen to be. Of course this is utter hogwash, but since Labour also secretly hopes to go back to Brussels and get a New Better Deal from Brussels which the HoC and The People will overwhelmingly uphold when put to them, they won't contest it too much. I think this muddies the waters enough to give the Conservatives an electoral advantage they wouldn't otherwise have.
  13. The problem with Ref3 would be there's no level of concreteness to add to the Leave option, and by now I should hope most Leavers have realized there really needs to be one. Would Leave be with No Deal (an unpalatable option), with Theresa May's Deal (another unpalatable option) or with a New Better Deal to be negotiated really soon by Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn (a both undefined and unlikely option)? After the rejection of Theresa May's deal, Leave needs the pipe-dream of a New Better Deal to remain alive to be really viable. Even with only two months to go, Boris Johnson keeps saying he's confident in negotiating a Better, Backstopless Deal if the HoC will only give him free rein to do so (despite this being a ludicrous assertion). No Deal is still only the fall back option if all else fails. Labour, on the other hand, still appears confident that, if it wins a GE, it will be able to negotiate a New Better Deal that will win over the Conservative and Labour voters (at least they have conceded they will put it to a referendum, I think...). Revoking A50 is a clear and unambiguous option, but what's behind the other door?
  14. Mentat

    What should be done... about climate change

    I think you might be right, but it seems extremely risky. Frightened people are not good decision makers, and counter-productive decisions seem just as likely as productive ones, if not even more so. While that's fair enough, I think since we mostly agree on what is needed (massively reducing carbon emissions) questions of implementation (how exactly should we go about it) and political viability (how to push the needed reforms through the current political system) are the more productive and interesting discussion. I understand you advocate that part of pushing the needed reforms through the current political system is introducing changes in the system itself, and I don't really disagree with you, even though I might disagree with some of your specific proposals. It's not without it's problems (said quota could easily become a commodity, and it would encourage a black market), but it's an interesting proposal. Choice is definitely a good sell. Maybe if I install solar panels on my roof I can take two flight a year instead of just the one or if I change my SUV for a Prius I can have a steak once a week. I think your argument would benefit from some concreteness. How does the current socio-economic system prevent the resolution of the climate emergency and what can be done about it? See, intuitively I'd say it's very hard to have one without the other. Start sharing ideas and the rest will follow naturally. I could be wrong, though, as this isn't something I know much about or have given much thought to. I'm really not interested in convincing anyone else of anything, or "winning" an argument... well, okay, I guess I enjoy a rhetorical scuffle as much as the next guy... but I enjoy it just as much when I myself I'm convinced of things I previously ignored or misunderstood. I'm not always easy to convince, though. I can be biased and stubborn just like anyone else.
  15. Mentat

    What should be done... about climate change

    I was going to say you might want to give yourself a bit of wiggle room for compromise in case your campaign doesn't work as well as you want it to... but no, you're right. Diluting the message would be a mistake. Accommodate political reality as far into the process as you can afford to.