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Erik of Hazelfield

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Everything posted by Erik of Hazelfield

  1. Something I’ve learned in my career is that it’s almost always possible to change stuff for the better of you speak to your boss. Drowning in work? Ask them to prioritise your tasks. A function or team of the company that never delivers? Bring it up. Give concrete examples. Small things like this rarely make a bad situation perfect overnight, but it can help. The caveat is that you have to do your part. If you get some priorities, make sure to really finish them. If your manager doesn’t listen or care - that’s your cue to look for a new job.
  2. I know that, of course, and I never claimed or believed that he invented those things. But he did come with a vision and he did put his money where his mouth was. He invested much of his PayPal fortune into SpaceX, which very nearly went bankrupt after a series of failed booster landings. He should also be fairly credited as the one who showed the world what an electric car can be - fast, beautiful and useful. Expensive, sure, but there’s a market for that. He insisted on building a network of fast chargers so that Tesla owners could travel across the US and Europe without problems. Those were good decisions that accelerated the adoption of electric cars by years if not decades (my guess).
  3. I used to think Elon Musk was cool, back when he stuck to making electric cars and sending rockets to space. As far fetched as his Mars plans were, I thought they were inspiring and thought provoking, in a sort of “yes we can” spirit. Everyone else seemed to come up with reasons why electric cars or reusable rockets couldn’t work - Elon attacked the core of the problem, and succeeded. In hindsight it may have been obvious, but like Columbus and his egg, Musk was the one who actually did it. He also seemed like a fun guy who added references to Spaceballs and David Bowie to his cars and rockets. Sending that Roadster to space was mad and beautiful. I mourn the loss of that man. He probably never existed in the first place, but in my mind he did. Now he’s behaving like a clown and a bully, and it seems like a mystery how he could ever have run a successful business. I even sort of hope his Mars plans fail, for the reasons cited. I’d rather stay on a ruined Earth than living under a guy like that on Mars.
  4. I happen to be a tad bit interested in American football, which is very unusual in Europe, so I've heard of the phrase "Hail Mary pass" from there. I don't think I've ever heard it used in any other context.
  5. Intimidating the West through terror bombings and nuclear threats indeed seems to be the strategy now for Russia. Weakening the resolve of the West so they stop providing guns to Ukraine and start applying political pressure to get them to accept a deal instead. I very much hope, and think, that it’s too late for that though. Germany are building several new LNG terminals to be able to receive large container ships of fossil gas from the US, Nigeria and other places. Norway are already supplying as much as they can. Europe is ridding themselves of the dependence on Russian gas at a record pace. The US never had it in the first place. The nuclear threat, while worrisome, will probably not work either. Most world leaders realise the risk of allowing nuclear blackmail to pay off. All we have to do is keep supplying Ukraine with all we got and hope they continue to win.
  6. Very likely. I have the same approach - when speaking English, I pronounce my name as the English “Eric”. No point in trying to push a pronunciation that no one can manage. The way I see it, I have an English name in much the same way as the pope is called Francis or Franciskus or Francisco depending on country. Did you ever cover the practice of translating royal names? That could be fun.
  7. I wouldn’t say the Swedish way of pronouncing Annika rhymes with Monica. It’s closer to Anne-Icka but it’s not really that either. The Swedish short “a” just doesn’t exist in the English language. At the beginning of this clip (00:09) you’ll hear it: Cool to hear about the impact she had on US girls’ names. I don’t think most Swedes understand just how big she was.
  8. A Swedish professor of defence is certain - the bridge exploded due to a truck carrying dynamite or similar civilian explosives. The driver would have been either unknowing or a suicide bomber. His motivation: 1) It’s a very powerful blast, from the looks of it at least 10 tons, up to 30. The fact that the fireball reaches the upper railway part of the bridge almost immediately indicates the power. 2) The smoke is white. Military explosives have an oxygen deficiency causing black smoke. It’s not strange if dynamite would be transported to the war. It can be used to clear obstacles, build foxholes etc. 3) The train was a target. It’s just too good to be a coincidence that a train carrying fuel would be hit. The truck must have overtaken it. It looks like diesel fuel pouring all over the bridge from the train. 4) No missile carries this amount of explosives, and the lower bridge would have protected the truck from an attack from the water. Link in Swedish: https://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/a/8JQMbr/explosionen-pa-krimbron-professorns-slutsatser
  9. Thanks for sharing! Those prices seem very well deserved and their discoveries are both interesting and useful.
  10. Glad to hear that, Helena. I’m permanently off the dating market, as previously reported. Our son is seven months old now, he’s the cutest thing in the universe, and the three of us have moved into a new house. Life is great. I just need to get my shit together and plan an epic proposal.
  11. NATO membership would be logical. After all, we’re dealing with a country that has shown blatant disregard for previously signed treaties, let alone international law and diplomatic relations. How can Ukraine trust Russia to uphold their part of any peace deal when Russia openly declared parts of Ukraine as Russian and denies Ukraine’s right to exist as a nation? One way is that they don’t, with the result being an arms race between Ukraine and Russia. The other solution is some sort of externally enforced peace, with guarantees of military aid being offered if Russia would attack again. NATO is the easiest way to accomplish this because it already exists and has a thought out framework of operation. The pre-war idea that Russia feels threatened by NATO and that expansion of NATO to the East is a violation of the Cold War era power balance seems to me like a less than compelling argument at this point. Since it’s only a defensive alliance no one should be threatened by it. One idea I’ve been toying with is that the whole world could be a member of NATO, including Russia. That way any country wanting to attack another would face the combined armies of the rest of the world. Why not? (There are probably a million reasons why not, please share if you have any!)
  12. Sure, we (or rather my dear compatriots) did vote for a particularly nasty brand of right-wingers. But calling it a backsliding of democracy is, well, maybe not so accurate. From the looks of it, the nationalist party won’t even be part of the government. Even if I was saddened by the results, the people voted and they’ll get what they voted for. That is democracy. Some of the nationalists have made some noise about reforming public service but that’s about as much backsliding of democracy as I can see.
  13. Living in Sweden, heating is not optional. Fortunately my new house has a geothermal heat pump which is one of the more efficient solutions. Coupled with additional insulation in the attic and triple-glazed windows, it’ll be ok even if the electricity bills will be high this winter. I’m thinking about installing solar panels on the roof to further reduce the electricity costs. The ROI is faster than ever.
  14. To be clear, I agree with most of the things you just said. I don’t have any trouble understanding why the Chinese would see their government as superior to democracy (which is, after all, the topic of the thread). Economic growth, nationalism and propaganda is a recipe for popularity for any government, even if it throws some minorities under the bus. Insert your favourite example here. I just cringe when people who live in real democracies defend the idea that China is no worse than the Western democracies, because that implies economical growth is all there is and that human rights like freedom of speech, the right to choose your government, tolerance for other political views and so on don’t matter. And that’s where I disagree. Case in point.
  15. I disagree with some of the posters here implying, directly or indirectly, that China has a good system of governance, can learn nothing from the Western democracies, is no worse than the US, or some combination of the above. That is a load of horseshit. China is one of the world’s most repressive states. It has an imperialist agenda, commits cultural genocide in Tibet and Xinjiang, uses forced labour and concentration camps in the latter, violates the agreement to keep Hong Kong free, threatens to go to war against Taiwan, follows a ridiculous zero-tolerance covid policy, has no freedom of speech, has a horrible environmental record, tries (and succeeds) to export their censorship abroad (Hollywood movies don’t criticise China nowadays for fear of being shut out from the Chinese market), kidnaps other countries’ citizens, spies on its own people, spies on foreign people and companies, refuses to acknowledge its role in the Tiananmen square massacre, has an increasingly megalomaniacal leader who wants to stay for life, and so on and so forth. Despite all of its recent success and the country’s richness in history, culture and geography, China’s system of government is a cesspool of lies, corruption, arrogance, misguided pride, bullying and disregard for human rights. How anyone can have any trouble acknowledging the superiority of democracy over this abomination of a governmental system is beyond me.
  16. So the takeaway is that it’s possible to convince countries to be democratic just to play nice with the US? I’m not sure I’m buying it. If that was the case then surely sanctions and threats would have a better effect than they do? What’s the secret sauce to pushing democracy in other countries? Why did it work in some cases and not in others? It’s an honest question. Can there be something learned here?
  17. Is it really true though that democracy is some uniquely Western/European thing? Of course you can argue that many democracies outside Europe are founded on the legacy of colonialism, where Western ideas already existed once those countries became independent. But every country’s road do democracy has been different. Taiwan and South Korea developed democracies from military dictatorships. Japan was an extremely authoritarian society, was democratised by force, yet democracy stuck around there. (Afghanistan - well, different story.) Thailand has drifted in and out of democracy, Indonesia has their own version of buddhistic democracy and so on. All those countries are very different from the Western philosophical traditions.
  18. About that - the social democrats don’t mind nuclear so much. The greens (Miljöpartiet) on the other hand were founded in the 80s after Chernobyl. Anti-nuclear was their main reason to exist back then, and it’s still very much in their DNA. Did this contribute to a loss of left votes? Probably, since nuclear is now popular again. Until recently this was no big issue in Sweden as nuclear has been steadily replaced by wind power which is cheaper and faster to build, even though it has the drawback of being weather dependent. (Fossil electricity generation hasn’t been a thing in Sweden since forever thanks to hydro and nuclear power. No one heats their homes with oil or gas, it’s all electricity and heat pumps). So there was an agreement in place since 2016 between the established parties about the energy issue, saying new nuclear can be built but it has to bear its own costs, and until 2022 no one has been interested because of the long build time, huge investments needed and low electricity prices. To be honest I don’t think a new government can pull off a build start during this 4-year term either. Neither am I sure they should. The current high prices on electricity has nothing to do with lack of power in Sweden - it’s due to a combination of a weird price-setting model and a lot of export to Europe. Some power companies are getting very rich at the moment, selling their cheap-to-make energy for fantasy prices. The greens have performed abysmally for the past decade. In a time where climate is on everyone’s lips, they are narrowly hanging on to their place in parliament, saved by tactical voters who want a leftist government.
  19. Yes. The speaker of the Riksdag (parliament) appoints a prime minister candidate that will try to form a government. If this government can get accepted by the Riksdag then the candidate will become prime minister. If it fails, a new prime minister candidate will be appointed by the speaker. After four failed attempts, a re-election is triggered automatically. Accepted means that a majority of the chamber does not oppose the government, which means there can be more no votes than yes votes and the government will still be chosen. It will run into problems later though because in order to pass a budget you need a majority yes votes. This past term has been quite messy with several votes of no confidence, governments resigning and coming back, and even governing on the opposition’s budget. This situation has probably not helped dealing with the very real problems Sweden are facing.
  20. Elections were held in Sweden yesterday. I worked in the election and came home at 03:30 after counting all the votes in our district and bringing the ballots to the city hall for final count on Wednesday. Preliminary results indicate the right wing parties take over, but it’s super tight and neither coalition admitted defeat on election night. At the time of writing there’s one mandate difference, so post votes may affect the final outcome. The nationalist party “Sweden Democrats” are now the second largest party after the social democrats, but it’s very unclear what the government will look like because the other right wing parties have said they don’t want them in the government. The same situation applies on the left side where the liberal center party doesn’t want the former communist left party in the government. It’s all rather messy.
  21. In imperialist Russia, irony reverses YOU!!!
  22. I realise now that my post probably came off as a bit whiny. For the record, I do agree that standing up against tyranny and for democracy is worth a lot of sacrifice, and the Ukrainians are obviously taking the brunt of it so compared to them we don’t even have much to complain about. This is more about feasibility. Replacing Russian gas takes more than a few months, probably 2-3 years or more. When people start freezing in their cold houses, when they start defaulting on their payments, when industries are forced to close due to high energy costs - then governments across Europe will feel increased pressure to do something about it. It can get ugly real quick. We may not be talking about just some regular recession, this could be far worse than anything we’ve seen in a very long time. I don’t think most people realise just how bad it can get. Of course this could all have been avoided if Europe started moving away from Russian oil and gas back in 2014, because the reasons were there already, but that would have required some foresight and courage from our politicians so of course we couldn’t have that.
  23. In other news that hasn’t been much discussed in this thread yet, winter is coming - and it may weaken Europe’s resolve to keep up the sanctions. Putin is increasing the use of the gas weapon, having turned off the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. They’ve been citing maintenance reasons but from what I’ve read (can’t find the source now) Putin is more and more open with the fact it’s due to political pressure. Much of Europe, especially Germany, is dependent on Russian gas for heating. But even the nations which are not will be feeling the price hike. Here in Sweden for example the electricity bills have risen by a factor of at least 4, often more, and that’s in summer when the consumption is low. Houses here are heated by electricity, increasingly by various variants of heat pumps but often by direct electric heating. The kind of increase in electricity bills that many households will experience this winter is brutal - for many, untenable. The situation is similar in pretty much all of Europe. The war is no longer something that happens to someone else far away - the consequences will be felt all across the continent. Governments are scrambling to reduce the effects by introducing various (expensive) price protection schemes, but it will still hurt. We’re looking at one of the most severe recessions and reduction in living standards that Europe has felt since possibly WW2. Putin’s hope is that Europe will be divided over this and that many countries will be pushed to abandon sanctions, stopping weapon shipments to Ukraine and maybe try to push Ukraine to accept concessions to end the war and have Russia resume gas deliveries. We just bought a house and the electricity bills coupled with the raised interest rates, increased food prices and parental leave will definitely be felt. Luckily we have some savings so we should be ok, but others will face a tough winter.
  24. I have a new favourite, from Dune: In the film, I think it was shortened to “judge a man by what he hates” or something like that. The more I think about it, the more I realise how true it is. What do you hate? Racism? Imperialism? Slavery? Gays? Libtards? It really does tell you loads about a person.
  25. The scorched earth tactic is defensive in nature. It makes sense when your country has a strategical depth and you can withdraw deep into your own territory, forcing an attacker to stretch his lines thin in order to hold that territory and putting a strain on his supply lines. It makes less sense when you are the attacker. As an invading force you need to hold on to the territory you conquered. Withdrawing from the lands you invaded is exactly what your enemy wants. Scorching the earth may achieve something - revenge, teaching those pesky Ukrainians a lesson, weakening the future Ukraine or whatever - but I can’t see how it would help the Russians win the war here and now.
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