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Tywin Manderly

International Thread 4

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@DMC We don't actually disagree on anything, this is more of an afterthought to chitchat...

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As I said above to Raja, my point about Western values mattering is because they were employed in the US' assertion of soft power during the Cold War, and that's because they served the US' (and western Europe's) interests.

Yes. 'tis one of the reasons why I like Leffler's "For the Soul of Mankind": the title reflects the fact that the Cold War led both superpowers to at least pretend to be working for the common good, with obviously positive outcomes in some cases.
I personally believe that the US & the Soviet Union did actually come very close to working to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether. Had things gone just a little differently, Ronnie & Gorbie would have made the declaration and even the most hawkish officials would not have been able to renege on the agreement.

But that was then. It seems to me that since then, "Western values" have become truly empty words in geopolitics, with Trumpism being the end result of a steady process of deterioration. Of course, I could still be proven wrong, but I think unless China starts fighting "for the soul of mankind" too, the US will have no incentive to promote its values in more than words again.

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2 hours ago, Rippounet said:

But that was then. It seems to me that since then, "Western values" have become truly empty words in geopolitics, with Trumpism being the end result of a steady process of deterioration. Of course, I could still be proven wrong, but I think unless China starts fighting "for the soul of mankind" too, the US will have no incentive to promote its values in more than words again.

I agree that without a legit rival, there is no incentive for the hegemon to justify and propagate the normatively "positive" aspects of their ideology/governing framework.  As you mentioned, Reagan and Gorbachev did a pretty important job towards reconciliation regarding non-proliferation/disarmament.  I often think of how different the world would be if FDR lived for, like, six more months.  Dropping the bomb was a great and terrible way to kick off the Cold War, and then everybody took Kennan's suggestions way out of context to construct the Soviets as an existential threat instead of continuing a more diplomatic relationship.

Looking forward, Trumpism is the reflexive response to the emerging rivalry with China.  It's striking that we're entering the 20s, which last century was characterized in America by burying our heads in the sand and embracing isolationist sentiment.  Hopefully we can do better this time, but considering we've had 30 years to figure out what happens next and we're still where we are, I'm not optimistic.

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I saw this on CNN this morning.  Anger in South Korea over the US Ambassador's Japanese Heritage.  His mother is Japanese and his father was American.  The article focuses on the fact that he has a mustache and as such bears some slight resembelance to Japanese leaders during the occupation of Korea by Japan.  

I'm of two minds about this.  Appointing a person of Japanese ancestry as the US Ambassador to the Republic of Korea may not have been the brightest or the most thoughtful move ever.  However, looking at the flip side, the man isn't Japanese.  He's an American isn't the reaction of the Korean public really tone deaf?

Here's the article:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/17/asia/harry-harris-mustache-intl-hnk/index.html

From the article:
 

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Harris was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and American father, who was a Navy officer, and some online commentators have pointed to Harris' heritage along with the mustache in their criticisms.
 
But Harris isn't Japanese, he's a US citizen. And calling him out for his Japanese ancestry would almost assuredly be considered racist in the United States.
 
South Korea is a homogenous society without racial diversity like the United States. The CIA World Factbook doesn't even list other ethnic groups living in South Korea on the country's page, instead just referring to the country as "homogenous." Mixed-race families are rare and xenophobia remains surprisingly common.
 
Harris, who has dedicated years of his life to the service of his country, said in an interview with the Korea Times in December that the only times his ethnic background has come into play was when he criticized China for its actions in the South China Sea, and recently, in South Korea in connection to his mustache.
 
"I understand the historical animosity that exists between both of the countries but I'm not the Japanese American ambassador to Korea, I'm the American ambassador to Korea," he said. "And to take that history and put it on me simply because of an accident of birth I think is a mistake."
Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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It's quite dramatic how concentrated global wealth is.

Just 162 Billionaires Have The Same Wealth As Half Of Humanity

https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5e20db1bc5b674e44b94eca5

The report uses a striking analogy to put these amounts of wealth in context. If everyone sat on their wealth piled up in $100 bills, most people would be sitting on the floor, a middle-class person from a rich country would be the height of a chair, and the world’s two richest men would be sitting in space.

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On 1/17/2020 at 8:30 AM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

However, looking at the flip side, the man isn't Japanese.  He's an American isn't the reaction of the Korean public really tone deaf?

Different cultures place different degrees of emphasis on nationality and ethnicity. The US is actually fairly uncommon in how little is placed on the latter. On the other side of the spectrum is, for example, Japan, which is famous for treating any non-Japanese as foreigners even if they were born in Japan and are Japanese citizens. I'm not familiar with Korea's attitude towards this, but it's probably closer to that of Japan than to that of the US.

On a different note, the World Economic Forum (aka Davos) 2020 annual meeting is taking place in Switzerland from Tuesday to Friday this week. It's probably the only event in the world where one can find both Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg:

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Donald Trump could be the main attraction, having skipped the event last year. He is due to give a speech on Tuesday, the day his impeachment trial begins in the US Senate.

Meanwhile, Greta Thunberg is due to deliver another combative message on climate change - after trekking her way up the Alps to Davos rather than using public transport.

Other big names will be Sanna Marin, prime minister of Finland, who at 34 is the world's youngest serving premier.

 

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Last year at Davos that Bregman dude called out the decreasingly progressive tax structure of the world, which led to this amazing unaired interview with Tucker Carlson.

 

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7 hours ago, larrytheimp said:

Last year at Davos that Bregman dude called out the decreasingly progressive tax structure of the world, which led to this amazing unaired interview with Tucker Carlson.

 

That was absolutely wonderful. Thanks. 

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@Rippounet

I thought there was a French politics thread, but I couldn’t find it so I’ll ask it here. I took four years of French in HS, and one of the things I remember is that buildings aren’t allowed to be more than six stories. My new laptop’s screensaver randomly shows you different places to travel to, and yesterday it was showing pictures of Paris and I was taken aback by the skyscrapers. Is this a new thing (I studied French from 03-06) or is that six story rule only for the older parts of the city?

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11 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

@Rippounet

I thought there was a French politics thread, but I couldn’t find it so I’ll ask it here. I took four years of French in HS, and one of the things I remember is that buildings aren’t allowed to be more than six stories. My new laptop’s screensaver randomly shows you different places to travel to, and yesterday it was showing pictures of Paris and I was taken aback by the skyscrapers. Is this a new thing (I studied French from 03-06) or is that six story rule only for the older parts of the city?

Yeah, the French politics thread was really active for the elections in 2017 so it's hiding somewhere...
Anyway yes it's for older parts of the city, the "intra-muros" Paris. Plus, the further away you are from the center and the higher the buildings can be. Maximum heights for buildings are 25m in the center (which is indeed going to be 5 or 6 stories most of the time), then 31 and 37 as you move outward (so you can get 9 or 10-story buildings in some areas, even within Paris itself). There are also quite a few exceptions to the rule like the Montparnasse tower.
The skyscrapers you see are most probably La Défense business district which is 3km west of Paris (but easily accessible). It was built outside Paris precisely to have shiny skyscrapers and be able to pay homage to Hans Gruber every Christmas*

*jk, obviously

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9 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

Yeah, the French politics thread was really active for the elections in 2017 so it's hiding somewhere...
Anyway yes it's for older parts of the city, the "intra-muros" Paris. Plus, the further away you are from the center and the higher the buildings can be. Maximum heights for buildings are 25m in the center (which is indeed going to be 5 or 6 stories most of the time), then 31 and 37 as you move outward (so you can get 9 or 10-story buildings in some areas, even within Paris itself). There are also quite a few exceptions to the rule like the Montparnasse tower.
The skyscrapers you see are most probably La Défense business district which is 3km west of Paris (but easily accessible). It was built outside Paris precisely to have shiny skyscrapers and be able to pay homage to Hans Gruber every Christmas*

*jk, obviously

First, lolz.

Okay that makes a lot more sense. I just don’t recall ever seeing pictures of Paris with the skyscrapers before. I thought the laws were specifically so you could see the Eiffel Tower from several miles away.

On a side note, I’ve always liked how the city is built. It’s layers of rings is very similar to my hometown (Minneapolis). The wealthiest neighborhoods can be right nextdoor to the poorest. Never been a fan of the wealthy walling themselves off despite being a member of three country clubs the day I was born.

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I heard one of the reasons was because the catacombs under Paris are so extensive that the ground can’t support the weight of tall buildings 

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1 hour ago, DireWolfSpirit said:

So in more Davos happenings, it turns out Prince Charles is quite the impressive environmentalist.

 https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/22/business/prince-charles-climate-davos/index.html

I long for the day when such leadership could return to my own shores here in America.

He’s been like that since forever but it mostly only got reported as “he talks to his plants when he’s gardening lol”

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54 minutes ago, Maltaran said:

I heard one of the reasons was because the catacombs under Paris are so extensive that the ground can’t support the weight of tall buildings 

That’s one of the must see things on my list when I go to Europe. I’ve got $5,000 set aside to hopefully spend two months there in the summer of 2021 (theoretically a gift to myself for going back to grad school or law school in the fall of 2021).  

Currently looking into how I could maybe teach there too.

Edited by Tywin et al.

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2 hours ago, Tywin et al. said:

Currently looking into how I could maybe teach there too.

I remember a few years ago when I was forced to take some "how to teach" course that all graduate students have to do at my school, a couple ESL guys I met said they're always in high demand all over the place.

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2 hours ago, Tywin et al. said:

That’s one of the must see things on my list when I go to Europe. I’ve got $5,000 set aside to hopefully spend two months there in the summer of 2021 (theoretically a gift to myself for going back to grad school or law school in the fall of 2021).  

Currently looking into how I could maybe teach there too.

You should both read the Book Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert MacFarlane.  It has a long chapter discussing the author's exploration of the Paris Catacombs.

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Surprised no one has mentioned that new virus that appeared in China. The Chinese government seems on top of limiting its impact, locking down the originating area.

Makes me wonder what would happen if a novel virus developed in a U.S. city.

The Chinese response of curtailing travel/public services/entertainment will undoubtedly save lives. Would such a thing be allowed in the U.S.?

 

Edited by A True Kaniggit

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9 minutes ago, A True Kaniggit said:

Surprised no one has mentioned that new virus that appeared in China. The Chinese government seems on top of limiting its impact, locking down the originating area.

Makes me wonder what would happen if a novel virus developed in a U.S. city.

The Chinese response of curtailing travel/public services/entertainment will undoubtedly save lives. Would such a thing be allowed in the U.S.?

 

How did the US deal with the 1918 Flu Pandemic?  We kept shipping troops to the trenches of WWI spreading the disease to Europe.

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19 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

How did the US deal with the 1918 Flu Pandemic?  We kept shipping troops to the trenches of WWI spreading the disease to Europe.

I'll have to look into specifics. But in 1918 I'm not sure if anything was done. 1% died, didn't it?

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