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Happy Ent

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About Happy Ent

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    Godfather of the Weirwoods
  • Birthday 07/01/1968

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  1. Happy Ent

    Persepolis Rising (Book 7 of the Expanse) - SPOILERS

    Amen. And people keep wondering why there are so few arboreal authors.
  2. Happy Ent

    Persepolis Rising (Book 7 of the Expanse) - SPOILERS

    Mixed bag. Two good chapters, but a lot of filler. Chapter 23 sees Drummer in the arboretum of People’s Home. The description seems to disregard the effects of various gravity schemes on plant physiology – hormone production under coriolis, in particular for auxins, ethylene, gibberellins, and cytokinins. This is a huge blunder in an otherwise well-researched series. Maybe it can be rationalised because Drummer refers to the trees as “experimental”. My theory is that the Trade Federation does have protomolecule access, and has used it to construct plant-based superwarriors in the void cities, to finally take on Laconia. Extremely intriguing. Chapter 26 pays some more attention to the forgotten voices of Medina, when we see a park with trees. Pollination is mentioned, but only with Victorian embarrassment. Clearly, Space Opera is still not ready for some explicit descriptions of insect pollination – half a generation after a lesbian kiss on Deep Space 9. Some lazy plant violence imagery remains (“like an arrow shot into a tree”, “cut the rot out of the tree”, …), which will probably forever haunt this genre. In the final chapter (52: Naomi) there is finally payoff after all this buildup, when we get some poetic imagery of anemophily on Freehold. Thank you for this, I cried.
  3. Happy Ent

    German politics xth attempt

    This is an interesting formulation. Allow me to start there. The desire of others to immigrate to Germany is a fact of life. The most important question for this generation exactly is “how to steer it and how to deal with the consequences.” (My solution would be to prevent it, to advocate resettlement, and double down on Enlightenment values and liberal democracy. Others will disagree and want to open the borders and advocate multiculturalism and the values of inclusion and tolerance. These are real questions, with incompatible answers, and where intelligent and decent people ought to disagree, just on pretty much every other question of politics.) These decisions will have repercussions that utterly dwarf all other political decisions, and have larger consequences for topic X than vice versa. (Because demography and culture will determine education, welfare, labour market, research, crime, terrorism, surveillance, etc. more than the other way around. The only question where they may be a two-way street is welfare. Germany can decide to no longer be a welfare state, and turn in the US, which might curb immigration from MENA. But I don’t really believe that. Even a laissez-fair FDP utopia will be a less shitty place to live in than all of Africa.) — Now, the above formulation makes it clear that the immigration question is the sine qua non for the future of Germany, and that the German electorate is completely correct in its intuition of being scared shitless about the very unclear signals they are receiving from their overlords. The only parties who do not get this are now in government, and write the newspapers. What could possibly go wrong.
  4. Happy Ent

    German politics xth attempt

    Jo, Loge, I get all that. I was merely trying to reconcile some widely differing polls about how important Germans view immigration. In some polls, it’s the most important question by a mile. In others, it’s way down the list. I don’t know how that happens, and tentatively suggest differences in wordings (refugee is a very positive word in German), which might trigger different reactions among respondents. I could be wrong.
  5. Happy Ent

    German politics xth attempt

    I’m finding very different answers about what the most important question was. https://interaktiv.morgenpost.de/probleme-bundestagswahl-2017/ and https://www.wahl.de/themen/btw17 tell me it’s immigration (including refugees, integration), while tagesschau has Education, putting “immigration of refugees” (arguably, a much narrower topic than Immigration) much lower on the list. My hunch is that (as in most Western countries) immigration is now the most important topic, which is documented by the FDP/AfD wins. I could be wrong. (Remember that the 2017 Chatham House poll has a majority of Germans, just like most other European countries, wanting all further migration from majority Muslim countries stopped. The German institutes don’t pose that question to the German electorate, so we can’t really compare. People don’t have strong views on immigration or refugees — many Germans are refugees, or have close family relations with refugees, and immigration could easily by a positive contribution. But people have strong views about Islam, not much caring about if it’s home-grown, migrated, or fled.)
  6. Happy Ent

    German politics xth attempt

    Honest question: Isn’t the FDP just the virtuous way of voting for strong restrictions on immigration? As far as I understand, the immigration policies of AfD and FDP are more or less the same (they want immigration to be handled like Canada, Australia, or the US is handling them). Since AfD is unelectable for many voters, they go to the FDP instead. No?
  7. The visuals were great, it was good character development, etc. They are doing many things right. But he might as well drunkenly fumble with trying to un or rebolt a beer bottle, reminding us viewers that a lot of trivial things become life-critical in space. This would improve world building, would be dirt cheap, and give atmosphere—exactly the atmosphere of precariousness that I really, really like in the books. It’s the difference between lazy Earthers and the Belters and Dusters, for whom every single detail (forks, valves, doors) is potentially deadly. Book Belters are hypercareful, extremely competent, socially responsible, valuable, yet unruly. TV-show Belters are just a mob. — This also bugged me about the shots of Earth precariate in Bobby’s excursion in the next episode. Book Earth is on basic income; everybody has what they need, there certainly is no shortage of medicine, food, or housing. What Earth lacks (and Mars has) is meaning. This is an interesting, original, politically relevant view of the future, and it’s cheap to produce. Instead, TV-show Earth just gives us a Malthusian precariate (barter economy!) that we’ve seen on TV a thousand times before. It’s lazy and boring. I do realise that this is the Earth underbelly that we see from Amos’ POV in The Churn, so there is some canon behind these scenes. But Bobby’s Book POV sees something else (the basic income-dystopia), and that is what her character is supposed to be disgusted by: not that Earth fails to provide everybody their food and medicine (Earth is good at that!), but that Earth succeeds in providing everybody their food and medicine. So this adaption was bad world building and bad character development.
  8. So, Netflix (Sweden) is streaming this now. I can continue to bitch about physics. Weeping Somnabulist: 1:00. Nooo! The ship is facing in the wrong direction. Since Jupiter is in visual range, it should accelerate away by this time. 11:17. Somnambulist and Roci both under thrust, and docked to each other. This makes no sense and annoys me a lot. 35: Roci burning away from Jupiter moon Celine! Woot! Now, was that so hard? It makes complete sense when you see it, and gives a great visual. And great shot of the Roci hiding in a crater. 36: Somnabulist breaking towards Ganymede, then finally switches off the Epstein. Not good, since the station should be turned into glass by the drive. Several shots throughout the episode show spacecraft engaging the drive and flying away. None of them gets acceleration correct: In each shot, we see the drive lighten up, at which moment the craft immediately flies away at very high speed. Looks like Star Wars physics. What we should see is a gradual increase of speed, giving our brains a feeling of mass. (A similar criticism goes to the Solomon Epstein scenes, where his spaceship continues to increase acceleration throughout the flight. Why? The drive is on, so it gives constant acceleration, say of 1 G, or 5 G for drama, and increases its speed. The people responsible for all the space visuals don’t seem to understand the difference between speed and acceleration—to them, turning on the drive seems to give high speed. This really bugs me, because The Expanse books actually get this (very simple) physics (which we learn in school, and which corresponds to our intuitive understanding of how stuff moves, so it helps immersing us in the world) right, and it contributes importantly to the world building (how space ships are built, how interplanetary travel works, how battles work.) This would be cheap to correct, it just requires the diligence and professionalism of taking the setting seriously. Grumble-grumble. Later: Alex has a dozen beer cans floating in the Roci. Stuff like that continues to annoy me. Alex is a professional, living in space. Alex should be extremely diligent about not having stuff float around in a war ship (the beer cans become deadly projectiles the moment he engages the thrusters.) I’d like pilots and belters to obsess about such things (more than me); it could even be used to differentiate them from squatters, for extra world-building colour. In a space ship, everything must be bolted down, and our characters should care about that.
  9. Happy Ent

    German politics xth attempt

    The SPD needs to go full nationalism. Protect their own working class against the globalist, neoliberal elite. Strict border controls, zero immigration from MENA, strict secularism, principled defence of free speech, tough on law and order, clear preference to citizens over non-citizens, draconian assimilation policies, minimal welfare payments to non-citizens, make naturalisation very hard, no double passports, and very generous repatriation incentives for migrants. Strong focus on knowledge in education, over inclusion. Principled rejection of identity politics and all other forms of essentialism. (Not sure what to do with the Euro, though. It is a terrible idea, but helps Germany. So from a parochial point of view, it can stay.) All of this, though painful, is entirely compatible with social democratic ideals. Thilo Sarrazin (SPD) lays out most of these points in his books, in a perfectly social democratic fashion. The AfD would just die, and the working class (and even the precariate) would immediately start voting SPD again. Ideologically, the SPD should advocate Popper’s Open Society, not Soros’s.
  10. Happy Ent

    German politics xth attempt

    An interesting point is that we (again) get confirmation that the Turkish diaspora is (at least) two groups. There are highly educated, secular, liberal democrats from Ankara who move to the US. US Turks voted overwhelmingly no. (So did UK Turks.) And then there are Turks from the Anatolian Steppe who fail to integrate into modern Turkey just as they fail to integrate into modern Europe. They make up the vast majority of continental European Turks. They voted yes, roughly 2 out of 3. (More in Belgium.) Europe consistently fails to attract migrants that are compatible with European values and labour markets.
  11. Happy Ent

    Podcasts and Organizing them

    Rubin is pretty good at letting his guests speak, which I find courteous. His disinclination to push back on things he disagrees with is very deliberate (at least that’s what he says). I think the result is pretty solid. I agree that it would be lovely if he had an unapologetic leftist (such as me) on the show. Maybe we can suggest that for his fan interviews. Also: arboreal perspective. It would be very long, though.
  12. Happy Ent

    Podcasts and Organizing them

    Waking Up with Sam Harris EconTalk NPR Politics Slate Political GabFest Rationally Speaking The Rubin Report
  13. Happy Ent

    German politics xth attempt

    Prue, you seem to know of which you speak, but is this quite right? My impression was that the new 2000 ruling allowed you to take German citizenship while retaining your Turkish citizenship. So the problem was not so much obtaining German citizenship (which was possible all along) but simultaneously keeping the Turkish one. The former impossibility of doing so prevented many German-born Turks of obtaining German citizenship because Turkish citizenship had very high value to them, primarily because of Turkish inheritance laws. Briefly put, your clan would suffer economically by your disavowal of Turkish citizenship, which is why you were socially disincentivized to take German citizenship. (The value of your individual vote for the Bundestag is dwarfed by the value of your clan to some piece of land in Anatolia.) At least this was my understanding. If I’m completely off, please correct me. This seems to be a dumb thing to be wrong about.
  14. Happy Ent

    German politics xth attempt

    Well, we’ll see a flop in a few days. Then we have actual numbers on the democratic sentiment and allegiance of Turkish Germans, because (as far as I understand) their votes will be reported separately.
  15. Happy Ent

    German politics xth attempt

    Thank you very much.
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