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Friday various

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.12.18

1. Ol' buzzkill Mossy writes: Atlantic piece:

Suu Kyi and the military, which kicked Petrie out of the country for releasing a statement condemning the humanitarian situation in the country, share the same prejudices against the Rohingya, he said. "If you put that all together, there seems to be a common message coming out. It is not surprising. It comes from a similar vision of what the country should look like."
UN human rights report, which I haven't read, but says that the atrocities in Rakhine are also standard in Kachin and Shan. I want to say something mean-spirited like "Fascists can have charismatic activists too!" but I don't know enough to support that.

2. In lighter fare, enjoy this lede:

Scientists have discovered the bones of a Neanderthal child who had been eaten by a giant bird. The finger bones appear to have come from a child aged between five and seven. Whether the bird attacked the child, or if it scavenged the bones, is not yet clear.

 

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Guest Post - Manchin and West Virginia

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.11.18

LW writes: Aaron Bady writes about West Virginia and Joe Manchin, I think pretty well:

I've been away from West Virginia for a long time, so maybe the state has changed a lot; maybe a state filled with pro-union Democrats has been transformed by Fox News, despair, and resentment into a state filled with Republicans, and--in the natural workings of the democratic process--the state has voted out the Democratic party. Maybe all those people who used to be Democrats have fundamentally changed.
I don't really think so. I think it was the Democratic party that changed. A party that used to have a labor wing and an ownership wing--whose apparent political dominance of the state masked a deep and hard-fought division between Democrats like Charlotte Pritt, whose family worked in the mines, and Democrats like Joe Manchin, who owned the mines--gave way to a Democratic party that simply and directly served the interest of capital, that parrots Fox News talking points. Maybe the voters didn't stop voting for Democrats which produced a clean-red slate of GOP politicians; maybe the "voters" is a scapegoat for a party that stopped trying to be different than the Republicans. Maybe West Virginians stopped voting for Democrats because there no longer were any to vote for.

Fundraising and an overriding interest in candidates who can raise or provide funds are a big problem for political parties in the US. In other countries, the dynamics that select against candidates who are perceptive and compassion to real life problems are different, but selecting against them is common in most disasters I think. One common failing elsewhere is a focus on patronage and rewards for loyalists.

Heebie's take: That's a really interesting article, about the Democratic party in West Virginia in 1996, when Manchin sabotaged the Democratic candidate for governor:

In 1996, Charlotte Pritt was dangerous because she didn't: the daughter of a coal miner, like so many in the state, she imagined and dreamed a future for West Virginia, after coal. And so, in 1996, Joe Manchin supported Charlotte Pritt's Republican opponent in the general election, actively campaigning against her.

The article makes the case that Manchin is not a centrist Democrat out of principles, or because it's the best that you can hope to get out of somewhere like West Virginia, but because he's an opportunistic shithead who sees being a tie-breaker as an irresistible opportunity to lord power over others.

I have one major criticism of the article, which is this: he's trying to make the case that WV is not knee-jerk conservative, because as recently as 1996 it was completely Democratic. I don't know much about WV, but that argument would be flimsy in any other southern state, because so many southern Democrats were mostly just committed to being racist, and yet were very conservative, and just hadn't realigned yet to the newer racist party.

(In fact: when we talk about the death of bipartisanship, and the rise of polarization, the realignment of southern Democrats into the party of Assholes was really a necessary precondition for this to happen. The implication is that one thing that might eventually shake up the current stalemate of the parties - one being the party of assholes, the other just merely being the party of adults - is that people begin to obsess about some issues that don't cut across party lines neatly.)


 

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These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Doin's

Posted by Ogged
on 10.09.18

Speaking of political violence, this Jamal Khashoggi story is so macabre. Thanks for coming in, now please come into this room where a team of 15 people is waiting to murder and dismember you and remove all traces of your existence.

I guess there are a lot of jobs that weren't on those high-school self-assessments.

Of course, I wondered, what if Trump had this done to Jim Acosta? What portion of his followers would desert him? I suspect it would be very small, provided he gave them some cover story, no matter how flimsy. More and more, I've come to realize that these transparent covers are essential to people tolerating (or hell, celebrating) horrible acts. It doesn't matter if it's plausible or even if it makes sense, they just have to have something to say to ward off condemnation. The Kavanaugh "different assaulter" theory is a great example of this.


 

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Guest Post: He Said/She Said/She Said (A Marine's Convictions)

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.09.18

Dave W. writes: I don't think Unfogged discussed this when it first came
out, but it seems somewhat relevant in view of recent events.

A Marine history instructor was accused by two of his former students of
a past threesome while they were at the Naval Academy. One of them said
it was consensual and part of an ongoing relationship. One said it was
rape. He said it never happened, and no sexual relationship existed.
One military jury convicted him of misconduct (though it acquitted him
of the rape charge). Another board, despite being told to accept the
conclusion of the first as given, was convinced he was innocent, and
allowed him to stay in the service. He turned to the Washington Post in
an effort to clear his name. Evidence suggesting prosecutorial
misconduct emerged. And then, a long-lost cell phone was found...

Heebie's take: I'm short on time but it's good!


 

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Political Violence

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.08.18

Rightwingers are literally fomenting civil war violence. The most lunatic of them are openly fantasizing murdering anyone who opposes them politically (while stockpiling vast amounts of weapons). More scary than climate change? There are so many types of scary, who can say.

Via some of you, elsewhere


 

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Balance

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.08.18

Let's have a companion thread just to offset the horror of climate change.

1. Talk much? CharleyCarp says he got a 14 out of 25. I got 13/25. There's a couple words in there where I think I pronounce it both ways, according to some contextual cue that I can't pinpoint - "comparable" comes to mind. Usually I say COMParable, but if I were really thinking about a specific comparison instead of just meaning "roughly equal", I might say comPAIRable.

2. Hawaii showed me how they're being taught long multiplication. It's not the algorithm we all learned. If you want to multiply 45 x 367, for example:
- First, write out 45 and 367 as 40 + 5 and 300 + 60 + 7.
- Next, set up your parentheses: (_ x _ ) + (_ x _ ) + (_ x _ ) and (_ x _ ) + (_ x _ ) + (_ x _ )
- Next, write out each piece: (40 x 300) + (40 x 60) + (40 x 7) and (5 x 300) + (5 x 60) + (5 x 7)
- Multiply each term, add up each row, and then combine your two results.
It's slow, but it's so great in terms of understanding. I totally love it. There is no need in 2018 to waste lots of time mastering quicker algorithms - that's what calculators are for. You need to know your times tables up to 12, say, and then you need to understand deeply how numbers break down and operations scale up.



 

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Global Burning

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 10.08.18

We are so, so fucked.

I remember during the 2016 debates, a couple people pointed out that there were exactly zero questions about climate change in any debate (and at best a nearby question about clean coal, or something.) Climate change isn't even on the table as a real issue - it's a perennial thing, like Ebola or shark attacks, that some people get awfully het up about.


 

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