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Clueless Northman

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  1. First Activision game I played was Ghostbusters on good old C-64. Shanghai then, and later Call to Power indeed. They also published Quake games.
  2. More than 240 countries? Did the USA disappear while I was sleeping and we now have 50 more countries on our hands?
  3. I would say that the numbers would matter. If that's just 500 troops on the border and a couple thousands in Kiev, even a paranoid Russian would see it's not an invasion force. On the other hand, having NATO troops on the border would basically be a stealth entry of Ukraine into NATO, and that would mean a major Russian reaction. But I don't see them invading or bombing NATO troops. Bombing to bits every Ukrainian military place which doesn't have NATO troops, on the other hand, would be highly possible. Anti-tank missiles probably would be of very limited use if things go bad; Russia will massively rely on artillery to hit Ukraine. That's what we must avoid at all costs, because it will end badly for most (only major power who might benefit is China), and very very badly for Ukraine. Sadly, the back-and-forth of military escalation is still going on, which is very bad news.
  4. Well for once they're beating UK... That would be 2.25 mio daily cases in the USA, considering France's population of 68 mio.
  5. Oh nice! About the screaming and thumping, it might be some ritualistic move before the duel, or Jamis' signature when fighting? After all, Paul makes some symbolic (for the Landsraad / Empire worlds probably) salute before engaging the fight.
  6. Yet if we consider ancient Greek and Latin texts, we've lost more than 95% of them (heck, Brett might even consider 99%, and sadly I don't rule out such a calamity). Granted, less for the late Imperial period, since for obvious reasons a big part of Christian writings have been kept - half of all Greek texts written until Justinian era are from the 3rd/4th/5th/6th centuries AD, more than what's been kept from the previous entire millennium of Greek literature. Granted, the reason isn't that barbarians burned the books, it's that Christian copyists didn't give a fuck about most of what wasn't Christian religious writings - the amount of Christian fluff that's been preserved (Migne is quite revealing) is bordering insulting compared to the fact they lost most of Livy, Sappho or Sophocles. I would also take exception with his comment that Greeks didn't give a damn about other or older literature - mostly possibly, but it seems that the early Ptolemies wanted to collect most existing literature if possible, at least as a prestige project, thus the early Greek translation of the Bible for instance, or Manetho. Last but not least, sure, Christianity copied classical works, but at the end of the day, had Christianity never taken over and had classical religions and cultures remained and slowly evolved, odds are that we would've kept a lot more ancient writings. I haven't checked what %% of 600-1200 literature has survived though, I'm far less acquainted with that era and I fear that we just have no trace left of a lot of these works - contrary to plenty of lost Greek writings, for a starter we know for a fact there were hundreds of tragedies that've been lost even if we don't know their titles or exact amount. Odds are that less has been written, specially outside monasteries, and odds are that the losses are higher than for Christian Late Antiquity, though probably fewer than for non-Christian ancient literature. As for the Empire, Brett makes a very good point: one key reasons why Rome was successful for so long and then was beaten down is that for centuries it never let a major military power standing on the empire's doorstep (Parthia excepted, but even Parthia was massively mauled several times to the point of succumbing to the Sassanid revolt). Once the emperors decided the borders were good as they were and no expansion was required, it meant that the peoples on the other side had plenty of time to observe, be beaten up by the legions, and to improve their own military, strategy and tech-wise. This didn't happen during most of the Republic and early Empire because any enemy military would be destroyed and the country occuped and integrated. I won't blame the Empire, there are logistical and economic reasons not to expand forever, specially in places that were far less welcoming and prosperous.
  7. Weird as hell is even mild, it sounds downright wrong - as DMC said, you can't assume "the" applies to Republic/State or whatever, we're not talking about "the Ukrainian Soviet Republic". I'm not sure why it was used this way to begin with actually.
  8. Absolutely; the question is if it was a good idea to let them into NATO as well. Frankly, we're not talking about USSR and the Red Army that took Berlin, we're talking about post-collapse Russia. If EU as such isn't a deterrent enough, then the Union is quite a joke imho; when we have an alliance of basically the entire continent, we shouldn't need US help to deal with military matters, except when facing a superpower or a massive alliance. Of course I don't mean a deterrent as in the EU military stopping Russian troops a few miles from the border - NATO itself can't do that -, but because as a whole it should eventually be a military significant enough to cause trouble to Russian army - and most predators only attack when it's a safe bet, they don't like doubts and rarely risk getting mauled, even if they'd be eventually victorious. But you're totally right about the main effect of NATO membership: a few NATO troops act as a tripwire; Putin shouldn't risk it unless war is already ongoing or he feels totally cornered, he might be a jerk but he's not a lunatic, he's smart enough to have a high level of self-preservation. Definitely, from a Ukrainian point of view. Though I'm not sure what would've happened if they kept them - I'm not sure even Yeltsin would've been ok with having nukes so close to his borders. Still, at the time, the key issue was dissemination, the West wanted as few nuclear countries as possible; pressure to give them away wasn't merely coming from Russia. Ukraine sending back the nukes to Russia is, imho, the biggest argument to use on Putin: he has a moral obligation to compromise and not to bully Ukraine like hell. Does it make any sense in English, grammatically? I mean, we can use "the United States", but people don't tend to say "the Germany" or "the China". I don't see the etymology as relevant - it's not the first or last area to basically mean "borderlands", most countries' names actually meant something a long time ago and we're not bothering with "the". It only fits in language that would systematically use articles with country names, like German or French.
  9. The only reason we have annual flu shots is that the strains mutate fast and are numerous enough that we face a very different virus every year, on that mostly evades last year's shot. We know that this is not the case with covid, so even a yearly shot would be quite ludicrous. Having a new shot every 4 months to counter a virus that is as stable as covid is downright ridiculous. The only question is how many original doses are required, according to which schedule - as said, 2 doses months apart might actually be enough to get the basic immune response, and 3 doses are needed because we had to jab people quick to blunt the pandemic. Israel already sees that the 4th dose boosts immune system for a month, then it's back to pre-booster levels. They're going to have to show very convincing evidence that it's needed for me to get a 4th shot before 2030, unless of course a new variant broadly screws up previous immunity. Besides, we're all going to get in touch with Omicron, which will be its own booster for at least half the planet.
  10. This has been a two-ways trend for centuries. Teutonic Knights come and expand, massacre locals, then got beaten back - including by Poland eventually, because these guys were such jerks. Poland decides to mess up Russia when its centuries-long dynasty goes down, occupies Moscow, eventually gets repelled, then gets deluged by all neighbours, Russia included of course. Swedes once again decide to expand across all Eastern seashore of the Baltic and to shut off any Russian access to the sea, then get cocky and get beaten up, losing territories to Russia. After several centuries of having their own regional and expanding empire from Baltic to Black Sea, Poland (-Lithuania) get destroyed by a coalition of their main neighbours, with Russia taking a huge chunk of it. France decides to rule over all Europe, things get heated between Napoleon and the czar, he invades, goes to Moscow, and then Russians go to Paris. Same shit twice during the first decades of the 20th century. Most of these were imperialist endeavours aiming at conquest and subjugation, sure, but the very last one - and possibly the first one with the Knights - were downright genocidal in their intent, meant to eventually wipe out the locals so that the entire place could be colonized by Central Europeans (Germanic) settlers. Considering what happened the last time a Western invader came knocking, considering that Putin was born in Leningrad, had a brother who died during the siege and a lot of family who died during the war, it's not surprising that the country is quite paranoid about Western intents and is wary about a military powerhouse edging ever closer to Russian borders. There are many people that think Israel's militarism and actions are fully justified because it's meant to prevent another Holocaust, yet they act surprised with the worries of people and countries across Eastern Europe - frankly, Poland, Russia and Ukraine all have valid reasons to be fearful, considering what happened to them in the last 110 years. What's frustrating is that all sides act like if only their very own worries are important, their intentions are pure and benevolent, and the other sides never have any legitimate concern. They're afraid of the other side and that fear tends to blind them to the fact that the other guy is just as afraid for historical reasons, and these fear and blindness cause them to take actions that will easily appear aggressive to the equally paranoid other side, and things can easily aggravate without any side actually meaning to attack. Then of course there are more external actors like US, China, Western Europe and whatever else, who don't have to fear military invasions and just want to improve their economic and strategic position without giving caring about other side's justified fears and without giving a fuck if Eastern Europe gets torched once again. So basically, the key issue here is: how to make all sides accept current borders and make sure they're not going to expand and invade the others? This requires some kind of non-aggression treaty offering guarantees that all countries will be safe from the others, otherwise they're just going to end up in an arms' race and war becomes increasingly likely.
  11. Which is why the only obvious hypothesis is that he doesn't want to invade Ukraine and his goal is to create some thick buffer all around Russia - so neutralizing Caucasus, Central Asia, Ukraine, Belarus and Baltic States. Stalin went overboard in 1949 and USSR went into massive overreach, even more when they propped up "friendly" regimes all across the world. Something Putin is keenly aware of and has denounced numerous times. Annexing Ukraine would be pure nonsense, they have nothing to gain from it and it would be a huge dead weight considering the sorry state of its economy and industries - made worse obviously by the fact that most of the locals would hate Russia's guts and would support an insurgency. A complete basketcase like Zhirinovsky might do it, but Putin should be braindead if he goes this far. As the US has threatened, there would indeed be no need of Western military intervention to fully sink Russia: just let them invade, occupy and annex Ukraine and Russia would be gutted and nearly destroyed before the decade is over. On the other hand, there's an obvious risk of Russia sending some troops in the current rebel areas, sending them better weapons, and even using artillery and missiles to destroy core Ukrainian targets, specially military ones, causing massive destruction and plenty of deaths including plenty of innocent civilians. Still, I never feared invasion from Soviet Red Army back in the 80s, I'm surely not dreading any Russian invasion across all Eastern and Central Europe right now - and that's without even taking into account the logistical nightmare and the different track gauges once you cross into Poland. The current "Russians are coming" media stuff is pure fear-mongering. There's plenty of reasons to bash Putin and Russia, but planning to take over the whole continent is not one of them. This is just like with Iran: US put bases all around, ever closer to the border, yet when the target becomes wary and freaks out, it's a sure sign that the target is the main cause of unrest and the one that causes the threat of aggressive war - never any reflection that it's actually a dangerous feedback loop with each side's reactions causing more dangerous and fearful reactions from the other side. You mean Kissinger? After all, he's been quite vocal at least since the 2014 crisis that Ukraine just can't fully join the Western club like that - Russia should join as well or Ukraine should be kept as a kind of middle ground, being both a buffer for Russia against "Western aggression" (which has occurred at least once a century for a very long time) and for Central Europe, Poland to begin with, against "Russian aggression" (which has also occurred quite often - as Tolstoy said in War and Peace, there's an ongoing process of big movements westwards and eastwards following each other, in one sequence or the other).
  12. Yeah, Western media are hopeless. Nuclear countries bitching about each other and accusing each other of wanting to attack in full strength isn't exactly great and actually cause for serious concern. I don't think Russia's current leadership is stupid enough to invade Ukraine. Bomb its military to bits, sure, but boots on the ground beyond the separatist areas would be bonkers because it's obvious that most Ukrainians would oppose it and partisan warfare would ensue. Russia had enough in Afghanistan and knows very well how military overreach is a very bad idea; even if Putin might think USSR as such was viable, he definitely is of the opinion that USSR trying to control half the planet doomed it and he might even consider that the Warsaw Pact might have been too much. Sending military stuff and possibly troops to Latin America is basically trying to put the same pressure on the US that the pressure has been putting on Russia by shipping stuff to Ukraine. We're back at a Cuban missile crisis kind of poker game - missiles in Cuba being an answer to US missiles in Turkey. Frankly, I think Russia would stop worrying if Ukraine was actually a "no-side zone", frozen between EU/NATO and Russia-China, not being allowed to join one side and being able to trade and deal with both as some kind of neutral country - a bigger Cold War Finland -, and being at long last quite safe because no side would dare to touch it for fear of the other side's reaction. Sure, I understand that some Ukrainians probably dream of joining EU, but that's never going to happen (not just because of Russia, but first of all because of peoples of EU have enough of its expansionism); any deal about Ukraine's status should allow it to keep the current level of freedom of movement with Europe, and should also allow some kind of more privileged access to Russia than EU or US has. My bottom-line has been the same for decades: NATO is now useless and should've been dismantled once Warsaw Pact was over and USSR went down the sink. Let Europe worries about its own security. Having NATO expand across all Eastern Europe is ridiculous and serves no defensive purpose. It's not "North Atlantic" anymore, I don't know what it actually is, but it's an expensive blob that is of no real use to barely anyone in Europe or America, except a few political leaders and some weapons manufacturers. To be blunt: why the fuck should any American or Canadian care about what might happen to Russia, Ukraine or Macedonia? Heck, why any Englishman should care about that? It's time to let go of dreams of global hegemony, and it's time to let go of the lunacy of wanting to be the world's cop. Countries and alliances should worry about their own defense and security, and stick to that. You don't defend NYC or London by fighting in the Donbass; you defend these places by having powerful navies and airforces first of all.
  13. 25 hours for KOTOR 1? That sounds like a rushed first-time playthrough unless you don't bother with some side-quests and epxloration. Granted, I'm always slow and thorough, but iirc it took me nearly 45h the first time. As usual, 2nd playthrough was faster by possibly up to 1/3. Yet even the average and median playtime seem globally to be quite longer than 25h: https://howlongtobeat.com/game?id=9111 Sure, it's not BG2, Skyrim, Witcher 3 or the last Assassin's Creed ones, but one can't seriously complain about KOTOR's length. I could see some people complaining that Jade Empire was shorter than most Bioware RPGs (I don't think it took me more than 25h indeed), if not the shortest of them But KOTOR is reasonably timed, compared to many other great games - don't think it's shorter than Witcher 2, or Deus Ex (original or HR), or Dishonored; it would be quite rich to complain it is too short.
  14. The number of previous doses or infections doesn't really matter with Omicron. It replicates so fast that only the amount of antibodies matter, and your odds of being infected and sick are lowered considerably if you got your last taste of immunity a few weeks ago - having had a 2nd dose 3 weeks ago will protect you more than having had a 3rd dose 4 months ago. Previous exposures help with the core layer of the immune system - T and B cells -, not with the outside layer of antibodies; they can react reasonably fast to mass-produce antibodies and help you get over Omicron infection in a few days, instead of having to go to the hospital. Hopefully, getting Omicron after vaccine doses will have a similar, and possibly way better, effect as getting mixed vaccines - first Pfizer, then Moderna, or first AZ then Pfizer: the immune system will better react to a slightly mutated virus.
  15. Just fucking do it. If he wins, he should never be considered the "best player ever", based on him cheating to enter. It's not Tennis Australia who decides who can enter the country. He fucked up. He had a full year to get a vaccine.
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