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About Liffguard

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    A gentleman and a scholar.

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    Devon, UK

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  1. Liffguard

    Bull**it Jobs

    Yep, I definitely get this too. I'll be sat there with maybe an hour or two's work to do for the day. And when it's done I'm just left to stew in my own paranoia and insecurity. Wait, was that really it? I must have missed something important. I'm gonna get chewed out. I'm gonna get fired. I've tried asking for more, several times. Each time I'll get slung the odd bit of make-work before the issue drops out of my manager's attention. And then, even worse, occasionally more real work does come my way, and my brain is so paralysed with stress and boredom that I struggle to raise the motivation to get on with it. Vicious circle. Even worse, it's an open plan office, so if I want to use my computer for something else, I have to be hyper-alert about who can see me and who's paying attention, elevating the stress even further. I think, as has already been raised in this thread, this is an issue that's somewhat inherent in any job without an output that's either numerically quantifiable, or at least tangible (you can't necessarily measure the output of a carer, but carers can definitely observe the tangible good effects of the work they do).
  2. Liffguard

    US Politics: Mail and Managers for Mitch

    Totally separate argument, but is the US constitution not democratically illegitimate anyway? There was no democratic input into its creation, several classes of people were barred from every having any democratic input, and although it has subsequently been ammended, it was ammended through the application of its own rules, which were themselves illegitimate. And it definitely had no democratic input from anybody alive today. I'm not sure why anyone would consider themselves morally bound by it. Sure, in practical terms you can't just ignore it, because lots of other people with power will still try and enforce it in some way (whether in good faith or otherwise). But if you want to do something good, and the constitution says you can't, and changing it isn't a realistic option, then trying to get around it in some way seems like a totally legitimate tactic from my point of view.
  3. Liffguard

    Christopher Tolkien Passes Away at 95

    Very sad to hear. His work made the world a brighter place.
  4. Liffguard

    Authors Behaving Like A**holes

    Yeah I know the terms get conflated quite a bit, but I think that Morgan is less a terf and more just a standard-issue transphobe. Although in most cases I guess that's a distinction without a difference.
  5. Liffguard

    US Politics: Mail and Managers for Mitch

    Edit: board playing up. Please ignore.
  6. Liffguard

    US Politics: Mail and Managers for Mitch

    I'm not American, but I was curious, so I took the quiz. Sanders-15, Warren-13, Steyer (who?)-11, Yang-10, Buttigieg-9, Gabbard-7, Klobuchar-6, Biden and Bloomberg both 4.
  7. Liffguard

    UK Politics: And Brexit came swirling down

    I know I've been banging on about David Graeber a lot recently, but this analysis is really worth a read IMO. The Center Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the Brexit Election
  8. Liffguard

    Authors Behaving Like A**holes

    He also does the thing where transphobes say that binary sexes/genders are just basic science, ignoring the vast swathes of considerably more advanced science that entirely trashes this concept. Almost as if the subject was significantly more complex than laymans' simplifications suggest.
  9. Liffguard

    Nuclear weapons

    Depends a lot on the type of weapon, the yield, where on Earth it detonates, and how high. Very roughly, airburst (i.e. the primary fireball doesn't touch the ground) has relatively low fallout. Groundburst (i.e. the primary fireball makes contact with the Earth) has a lot of fallout.
  10. Liffguard

    Nuclear weapons

    To be clear, that figure includes weapons that are no longer officially in service, but have not yet been physically dismantled. Commissioned weapons either deployed or in storage number just over 4000 for the USA. Edit: Also, for obvious reasons, exact figures are hard to come by. But these rough figures seem to be fairly widely agreed upon.
  11. Liffguard

    Nuclear weapons

    Fair point. Saying that reducing current weapons is never discussed was making too broad a case. But yeah, I definitely don't think it gets the attention it deserves.
  12. Liffguard

    Nuclear weapons

    My understanding - and I'm willing to be corrected by anyone more knowledgeable - is that the President has total authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. It is also my understanding that the US military regularly runs nuclear drills wherein the operators don't know until the actual point of launch whether or not it's a drill. They do this specifically so that the operators won't know whether or not to refuse the order to actually launch. I don't know how high up the chain of command that level of ignorance is maintained. Currently over 6000 each.
  13. Liffguard

    Nuclear weapons

    I’ve been thinking a lot about nuclear weapons recently. Specifically, I’ve been thinking a lot about how little we seem to spend thinking about them as a species, given the threat they represent. Since the end of the cold war they seem to have mostly fallen off the public radar. Even when interest occasionally spikes, usually when a “rogue” nation looks like it might acquire a weapon, it fades again pretty quickly. And the discussion is almost entirely around how to prevent others from acquiring weapons, never about examining the case for the existing ones. It’s been mostly two books that have sparked this thought process in me, Command and Control by Eric Schlosser and My Journey at the Nuclear Brink by William Perry. Both have made it starkly clear that the odds of a nuclear disaster are much higher than many people tend to think. This might seem like an alarmist metaphor, but I think it’s mostly valid. Imagine if the USA and Russia invested a huge amount of money into robot building programs. They each deploy a huge fleet of autonomous robots, one for every human being on Earth. Each robot is small and unobtrusive, but it picks a human being and follows it around for the rest of their life. It doesn’t really get in the way, it just hovers around beside you. Aside from the cost of developing and building the robots (which is considerable), their existence can be largely ignored. Oh, and every single one of these robots has a gun permanently pointed at its human’s head. Always. And at any time, Putin or Trump can go into their offices, press a button, send out a signal, and every single robot pulls the trigger. Would we stand for this state of affairs? Could we live with it? It sounds bizarre and slightly unhinged to say it out loud, but it is indisputably true that, if he felt like it, Donald Trump could end nearly all human life on Earth. He could do it today. He could do it right now. He could do it with a single command. We all of us have guns pressed to our heads every day. We just can’t see them, hidden away as they are in submarines and silos. I’m sympathetic to the argument that the existence of nuclear weapons has prevented any large-scale great power wars from breaking out since WWII. Maybe living in a permanent Mexican standoff is the price we pay for relative peace. And I’m sympathetic to the deterrence argument, that the very devastation of these weapons is exactly what prevents them from being used. No one wants to be on the other end of one, so no one will use one first. Makes sense. Except, of course, that this entirely presupposes informed, rational actors. It presupposes that there will never be a miscommunication that goes too far before being corrected. It presupposes that a major nuclear-armed state will never be taken over by a fanatic government. It presupposes that a rational government will never find itself in a desperate enough situation (climate-change influenced water wars maybe?). There are a lot of different factors that prevent a weapon from being fired. And as long as these factors continue to line up in the right way, we’ll be fine. But on a long enough timeline, eventually they’ll line up in just the wrong way. All of the failure points will align. And it only has to happen once. Just once. To be clear, I’m not necessarily arguing for unilateral disarmament. If we’re in a multi-party Mexican standoff situation, then I can see how one side suddenly dropping their gun could actually make the situation less stable. I’m arguing that multi-lateral nuclear disarmament needs to take centre stage in political discourse going forward. As voters and citizens, we need to start demanding that our politicians treat the topic with the intense seriousness it deserves.
  14. Liffguard

    Authors Behaving Like A**holes

    Just had a look into it too, and yikes. That...is deeply disappointing. To anyone else reading, without going into too many details, Morgan has some pretty backwards views about trans people, views that are sadly common in the UK, and isn't hesitant in publishing those views.
  15. Liffguard

    Top books of 2019

    My top non-fiction for the year was Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber. I also really enjoyed Bullshit Jobs, but that's ultimately a much more lightweight work. Debt had a much greater influence on my subsequent thinking; about money, about markets, about morality, and about they ways we relate to each other as people. Also, for such hefty book with such a dry subject matter, Graeber is a very engaging writer. I didn't once get bored reading this. My top fiction was Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. One of the things I love about her five gods books, and this one in particular, is how she deals with magic not just mechanistically, or as an unassailable mystery, but as well-developed theology. Also, no other contemporary mainstream fantasy writer can get you inside their characters' heads the way Bujold can. She creates characters with very realistic and sympathetic inner lives.