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Everything posted by Mentat

  1. I'm having loads of fun, which is the purpose of any game. The setting is a tricky one with all the steampunk and techno-magic stuff, but I think we'll all get used to it if we're ready to give it some time.
  2. I'd be interested. Plenty of experience playing pencil and paper D&D, but I've been missing out since COVID.
  3. Worse than who? It's easy to admire Orso, but one has to remember it's not really him who's in charge. It's the Closed Council, who have proven time and again they're ineffective bureaucrats who care little about anything except maintaining their own positions and keeping Bayaz happy. While Isher and his followers are conniving knaves with little in the way of redeeming qualities, Leo and Savine have shown some promise as prospective rulers. They may have had a downfall arc this book, accentuated by their foibles and mistakes, but ALH makes a good case of all they have going for them. It's hard to figure out fantasy logistics because there's so much we ignore. Maybe all these difficulties were not so and the rebels were aware (the fleet was otherwise engaged protecting the southern seas from pirates, the anonymous minor nobles were all fiercely loyal to the Brocks, Jurand painstakingly figured out all the logistics before falling from grace and we're simply spared the boring details...). Likely you're right, but since we don't know we simply have to take the book at its word.
  4. Though the grounds for this particular rebellion are mostly the petty ambitions of the rebels (the councilpersons want power and Leo wants to be a hero and saviour), the impression that the Union is very poorly managed is correct, and reasonable grounds for rebellion do exist. The Union is drowned in debt, has been involved in several costly wars (which it lost), its outer provinces are heavily taxed and malcontent, its common folk are on the verge of an uprising, etc. It's also a puppet regime beholden to an evil wizard. Trying to talk these grievances through with Orso would likely be to no avail, as he is himself a straw man and we have seen he can rarely get any kind of policy enacted if at all. Resting control of the Union from Bayaz and his cronies, defaulting on the debt with V&B, enacting policies that protect the common folk and ensuring the provinces have adequate military support if needed and aren't crushed by taxes, would all be rebellion-worthy, as none of this can be achieved under the current regime (not that I'm claiming all of this was the rebel councilpersons' or Leo's goal).
  5. Finished it and loved it. The answer to both these questions would be yes, though. The rebel councilpersons do turn up to the battle with the promised military support (though they do show their foolishness and lack of military acumen), and as far as we know their intention does seem to be to prop up Leo as the next king after their rebellion succeeds, which is what Savine wanted (with them being the power behind the throne as the Closed Council, but that's always assumed, and Savine is probably right to think she can outmanoeuvre them if need be). The rebellion had lots of hopes of success, and had some things changed (Rikke's defection, Leo falling out with Jurand and leaving him behind, the weather muddying the roads, the cavalry arriving just in time, the Burners having plans of their own...) it might have well succeeded. Just because we have the gift of hindsight doesn't mean it didn't have a chance (one could even argue its success might have been more likely than its failure).
  6. I find your assertion that the growing gravity of the climate crisis will unequivocally lead to general political consensus on what caused the problem, what the solution to the problem is and how we should go around achieving it baffling. Is there anything supporting it? Suffering and fear might lead to political polarization, exacerbated nationalism and xenophobia, extremism, etc. None of this is going to help, in fact it will only make solving the problem harder rather than easier as it gets worse. There is no solution to the climate crisis that doesn't require close international cooperation and broad consensus across different people and countries. Proposals on the far fringes of public opinion and the current political scene (however effective or desirable you might consider them) won't achieve this and are actually counter-productive if we agree that this is a time-sensitive issue and action is required now rather than 'the moment shit hits the fan' (whenever that is).
  7. I'm not sure I agree. We're not really speaking about any specific democratic nation, but most of them are social-democracies which accept private property and enterprise but at the same time intervene in the economy, redistribute wealth to greater or lesser degree, provide some kind of social network and while they don't own all the national means of production, do own a really big chunk of the nations' infrastructure (plus a whole lot of other stuff, participate in mixed economy companies, etc.). That was part of my previous point. Democracies tend to cover the middle ground institutionally. Different political parties might pull it in different directions, but democratic institutions (if working properly) also tend to have a 'moderating effect' on said parties.
  8. Yes, but all states codify some specific ideological/political/economical traits into their core (usually by inclusion in a Constitutional text which requires a super-majority to modify). These characteristics are not immutable, but they do tend to be stable. It's kind of like the difference between a concrete building and a tent, neither of them will last forever, but you expect the concrete building will be there next year and the tent wont. The U.S.S.R. was a communist state (for a certain definition of communist, I guess, but let's accept this for the sake of argument), there was a single party, which was the communist party and the hammer and sickle featured in the national flag and state emblem. It didn't last forever, but as long as it did, it was representing communism as its defining trait. Democratic states (while obviously not lacking a founding ideology) also define themselves by the fact that most other ideologies (those that are not abhorrent to its core) can be espoused, publicly advocated and, if popular with the voters, politically represented in its parliament or government... but that none of them define it, and whatever the policies or ideology of the governing party are, come four years, they could be entirely different ones (because there might be a different government). Thus a democratic state can't be communist in the same way it can't be left-wing (even if a left-wing party might currently be in power, passing left-wing laws and implementing left-wing policies). Its core requires a level of "neutrality" or "mutability" that would preclude it, even if its population tends to lean heavily to the right or to the left (it certainly can be argued that most Western states' "neutrality" is suspect and that it's far from the blank slate I'm depicting... but I think my point stands regardless).
  9. Perhaps. Different social-democracies have different approaches to healthcare. The private sector would sure like a bite out of that cake, and it's not impossible specific policies nudge it towards a more hybrid private/public model, or healthcare becomes part of the discussion in a future trade treaty with the U.S. or something. Or maybe not. My broader point is that specific policies (regarding, for instance, healthcare) are much more susceptible to change and evolution than the whole political make-up of a country. I think Obamacare is a good example (though the NHS might not be, I'm not British, so I may be out of my depth here).
  10. Yes, but. I'm as bad as predicting the future as the next guy, but if we accept this ideological axis (borrowed shamelessly from a post by DMC on a different thread) as true, we can see that some economic/political positions are in the extremes (like fascism, anarchy or state socialism), while others (liberal/conservative) are closer to the center. I'd posit that a democratic society will be prone to drift towards central positions. Extreme economic/political positions, on the other hand, could conceivably arise from a democratic vote, but would likely not be sustained by one on the long run. For this to happen they would require an authoritarian state. Specific matters of policy (such as your healthcare example, or things like gay marriage) would be far more susceptible to change with the times as the social mores does. I have no answer to that, though it seems intuitive to me (and mostly supported by recent history). I'd be fascinated to read you argue the opposite, if you believe so and feel thus inclined. Yes, but in this case said communist economy is an accident. A temporary policy which is susceptible to change come the next general election. It's not a definitory quality of the state (unless it becomes the new mean which most citizens consider political normalcy and introduced into a constitutional text, but see above). If there were both a communist and a capitalist party to choose from in China, they might choose their membership differently, though. The Chinese Communist Party might also not have been in power for as long as it has. Agreed. 'The future will most certainly be different from the present' is not enough of an argument if you're pointing to a very specific one, though.
  11. Democratic super-majorities for positions in the far end of the political spectrum seem very unlikely (and though thought-experiments are fun, if they stretch plausibility too far I might question their usefulness). Even if for some reason a super-majority such as you describe appears (say, as a reaction to very out-of-the-ordinary or extreme events), I would expect political opinion to revert to the mean sooner rather than later. So, even in your thought experiment, my question still stands. In a purely democratic society in which this third of the population currently in the minority can criticize the government, point out its inefficiencies, compare itself to other countries, try and change people's minds and stand for election every four years under a banner of change, can your democratic truly communist state survive without slowly meandering towards a hybrid social-democracy?
  12. Isn't it? Can a truly communist state survive without an authoritarian government (with all that it implies, including restrictions to freedom of speech, press, publishing, etc.) to make sure it doesn't slowly meander towards a hybrid social-democracy? Honest question.
  13. Wouldn't this: https://www.britbox.com/home allow you to watch a BBC series from the US? It has a 7 day free trial too, so it might not cost you any money if you want it solely for one specific series.
  14. I don't think Spaniards are more stupid or foolish than anyone else... but I do stand by my original assertion, they (we) as a society tend more towards the chaotic spectrum than the lawful one. The reason that our lockdown has been one of the harshest in Europe is because the government thought (and I'd agree), that people (a large enough amount of them, anyway) would disregard any recommendation or regulation that wasn't very strictly enforced. Barcelona and (specially) Madrid may be the Spanish coronavirus hotspots (it could hardly be otherwise, the virus thrives where people concentrate and cosmopolitan places got a head start on infection ratings before any countermeasures were implemented), but Barcelona is also an amazing city, and one of the cultural and business hotspots of Europe. I love the theater, and so often find myself wishing I could enjoy the Barcelona cultural scene without facing a two hour drive and an astronomical number of tolls. Take the good with the bad! I'm no health expert, so I don't know if we should ideally keep stores and bars closed for longer, but I think the government has been de-escalating lockdown as slowly as it was politically, economically and socially viable to. Countries like Italy and Greece have already started to open up. Anyway, best wishes and stay safe.
  15. I'd also appreciate a link. Spain has been trying to balance an economy heavily dependent on the tourism industry and coronavirus concerns. Not opening up to foreign tourism during the summer would have been absolutely devastating for an already hard hit sector. That said, if the regional authorities are concerned for the rate of infections in Barcelona, they're well within their right to request central government to hold back in advancing it to the next stage of lockdown (or even, I think, have it fall back to a former stage). Tourists will not flock to a place with health restrictions blocking their access to bars, restaurants and clubs. Even if Spain completely opens up and lifts all restriction, I'm sure lots of potential tourists will be weary of traveling this summer. I live in Reus, and my feeling here is that people have acute lockdown fatigue (I certainly do). The Spanish lockdown has been one of the harshest in Europe, and people are really tired and wishing for it to be over. The Spanish government has also lost much of the initial support for declaring the state of emergency. It was anyone's guess if the latest extension would pass right up until the last second. Even if it really wanted to (which it likely doesn't as these measures have become increasingly unpopular) it's unlikely it could enforce lockdown much longer. Spaniards do tend to be chaotic in nature, and often find restrictions and regulations stifling (I work in local government and see it all the time) and ignore them any time they think they can get away with it. Law enforcement has been working lots of over time and are now stretched thin (and also grumpy and unwilling to nag people about social distancing or mask wearing). Albeit all this, numbers in Spain have been improving steadily. I'm confident things will get better over the summer. The risk of contagion while outdoors has been established to be pretty low anyway. Just take sensible precautions and don't panic!
  16. My understanding is that it is indeed a subsidy. There's an article on BBC News about it, but it's rather lacking in actual figures or precise information (mainly because it's simply not available, the Spanish government has not been forthcoming). I think I'd personally favor replacing the current safety net with a universal basic income, though I do understand people who might be getting less opposing it. As I said, the amount of social workers and bureaucrats in the public sector which would become redundant (and thus the potential, if eventual, savings) would be very large. In general I would agree that most left-wing parties (certainly Podemos) operate within the frame of a capitalist social-democracy, whether that is neoliberalism or not is a different question.
  17. From what I understand the current PSOE + Podemos Spanish government is going to implement what they call an "Ingreso Mínimo Vital" (minimum vital income). Though it hasn't been passed yet (indeed, Podemos tried to pass it urgently, but the two governing partners run into some disagreements and it didn't happen), from what I know about it it isn't really a basic universal income but simply a subsidy for people without means to weather the incoming economic crisis (not that that's a bad thing). I do think a basic universal income would be economically feasible (even easy...) if you eliminate all subsidies, like unemployment, retirement, etc. (and potentially save the government millions of euros in civil servants who work allocating all manner of subsidies, though this probably wouldn't materialise immediately). In Spain, though, this would require a broad political consensus for the reworking of several very basic laws, so it's not likely to happen in the near future.
  18. Mentat


    I truly adore this movie. A powerful reflection on guilt, depression and making amends. I've recently enjoyed Made in Abyss as well as seasons 3 of Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia. I'm currently watching Megalobox which is pretty 'by the numbers' but engaging and beautifully animated.
  19. [email protected], por si me quereis escribir cualquiera de los dos.

  20. Hola Alberto, soy Joaquín.

    Me alegro que a María le hiciese ilusión que George le dedicase un libro (entre su club de fans no se le suele llamar el gordo :P). Yo tengo 3 en tapa dura dedicados ya. Me falta el festín de cuervos, que no tengo ni idea cuando podré ir a que me lo firme. Seguramente para entonces ya haya salido el quinto.

    Mi correo es j...

  21. Sí, soy Joaquín ¿Que tal Alberto? El domingo nos fuimos un poco pronto (serían las 11:30 o así...) por lo que no nos vimos después de la fiesta. Espero que lo pasáseis bien el resto de la Octocón. Yo ya estoy de vuelta por Valencia y currando otra vez para pagarme la próxima convención ;-)

    Por cierto, el bebé de tu foto es tuyo y de María? Es muy mono.

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