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Messages - jax

DnD Central / Re: Everything Trump…
Conan, in Howards telling, was a Cimmerian, and the real Cimmerians would geographically be Europeans. Not in the EU though.
There are at least two arguments against it.

Third, it would be fiercely attacked both from the "Out of One, One" camp and the "Out of Many, Many" camp, given the state of discourse today. That would of course also be a strong argument for it.

Presumably this too will pass. Which might lead to a fourth argument: Will it be as relevant for Missisippi in the 2040s as in the 2020s? It probably will, strife will always find a way.

But maybe something more specific for Mississippi? Is Panta rhei taken?
Who are you to be the Mississippi committee bookkeeper?
The Lounge / Re: Happy New Zealand!
And the world has almost reconverged again. Baker Island (in IDLW) is still left in 2020.

The day may have 24 hours, but based on time zones it has 26. 
The Lounge / Re: Happy New Zealand!
And Britain has left the building. Again.
DnD Central / Re: Today's Good News
Whether good or bad, it is that day of divergence again. (Public service for those of you not on the Lounge).
The Lounge / Re: Happy New Zealand!
Happy New Zealand everybody!
This has been a good tomb-looting year, or as Esquire puts it: We Sure Are Digging Up a Lot of Ancient Dead People These Days

The Norwegian and Spanish ones are late and thus out of period (Viking and Muslim age respectively), but the Egyptian one is right in time, full of Greeks hidden in boxes. 

Still, Esquire missed the biggest one, in Chengdu.

The increased political incentive for Scotland leaving the United Kingdom for the European Union is offset by the even stronger economic disincentive of a border between Scotland and England. In Northern Ireland the incentives go in the same direction. It makes more sense for Northern Ireland politically and economically to join Ireland (and the EU), though some will benefit from the current dual UK/EU regime.

Now, if Boris Johnson could follow through on his proposal to build that bridge from Scotland to Ireland there would be no reason for Scotland not to secede.

DnD Central / Re: Infrastructure
It's interesting, but not particularly surprising. Total biomass, the amount of carbon in all living things, is a pretty small number.

The Earth's crust is the top 1% of the planet in mass (and the atmosphere about 0.01% of the the crust).  Carbon is actually a pretty rare element in the crust, about 0.02%, while oxygen + silicon comprises ¾ of the crust. In total there should be something on the order of 100 petaton of carbon, which is plenty, but also abstract because the vast majority is inaccessible to living things (including humans) and non-living processes.

Actual biomass is much smaller, in the order of gigatons (millionths of petatons). Our World in Data made a prettier version of a PNAS study of total biomass (measured in carbon).

So measured in biomass, life is largely plants, and to be specific trees, and even more specific wood. But wood is just scaffolding, the living, growing cells of a tree live in the thin layer below the bark, as well as in the leaves.

Then again, plants since the very beginning have been extremely good at fixing carbon, from oceans, atmosphere and soil. From CH₄ to CO₂, from CO₂ to O₂. That has had far greater impact on the surface of our planet than anything we animals have done.

And of course, like today's trees, they have fixed carbon for hundreds of millions of year, creating our massive stores of fossil carbon. Accessible carbon is easily hundred times more than the carbon bound up in currently living. If we look all the living things and piled them up, they would make a heap of about 200 km³, the size of a medium-sized mountain (or a very large mine). We also consist of a lot of water, enough to create a nice lake by that mountain.

Now, our construction use much more abundant materials on the surface like sand, stone, cement. Apart from the chemical process to make cement (a major CO₂ source), these are very inert materials. It takes long time for them to affect the environment. The comparably much smaller amounts of fossil carbon, metals and more are causing us far more trouble.

DnD Central / Re: Infrastructure
It was more profitable than incinerating it. Which is profitable as well. Sweden and Norway are buying trash to feed their incinerators as we are not producing enough domestically. With its newest, and most stylish, incinerator add Denmark to the list. We might be facing a global trash shortage if this keeps going on.

What goes for plastics also goes for ships. Luxury cruise ships or scrap? Depends on their relative value.

Or airplanes. Just a couple decades ago Airbus A380 was to be the flagship of the company with a list price of $450 million, while the older Boeing 747 had a price of $380 million. Both are now discontinued. Both had fuel economic and business model for an earlier age. So when the Hollywood movie Tenet was produced, they found it was cheaper and more fun to crash an old (non-flying) 747 than to hire a few CGI programmers in Bangalore.
DnD Central / Re: Infrastructure
Recycling (of plastic) does not work. It never worked.

Sure it did, when it was profitable. But changes in business processes, supply and demand can make something profitable unprofitable or something unprofitable profitable. A resource can become a waste product and a waste product a resource. Now, these calculation make little or no considerations of externalities, side effects of trade. If they did the outcome would be different.

It's a dynamic system, and some products like these plastics are on the wedge between resource and waste.
The descent of the Republican party into totalitarianism has been a long time coming, Trump only accelerated the fall. For a while you could reasonably say that the Democratic party was the party of more government and the Republican party one of less government. 

Now the Republican party has become the party of taking and holding control by any means possible. Thus the US have a two-party system comprising the Democratic Party and the Totalitarian Party. That is not a very healthy state. Hopefully for the country the GOP will start reform from within before it gets another stab at power. 

Magyar divides the autocrat's journey into three stages: autocratic attempt, autocratic breakthrough, and autocratic consolidation. 
"The populist does not de jure eliminate the separation of powers," Magyar writes, "but he connects the branches through his competences of appointment in a single vertical of vassalage." The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, calls it the "vertical of power." What allows the aspiring autocrat to transform the institutions of government is either a supermajority in parliament or, in a presidential system, a monopoly on political power--a situation in which the Presidency and Congress are held by the same political parties. Americans aren't used to thinking of a monopoly on political power as a problem; on the contrary, we think that these are the conditions necessary for a President to be able to carry out his political agenda. In fact, with the power to confirm Presidential appointments concentrated in the Senate, Trump didn't even need the House. In four years, Trump has created a "vertical of vassalage" that runs from him to Barr to the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and to the courts. Its extension is Fox News, which has served as the fourth branch of Trump's government.

By Declaring Victory, Donald Trump Is Attempting an Autocratic Breakthrough
DnD Central / Re: DnD entropy

Walter Williams RIP
When he was younger. he used to fill in for Rush Limbaugh regularly. I miss his tag-line, "Walter Williams, black by popular demand!"
He will be greatly missed.

Last post: 2019-04-18, 01:35:01
This post:  2018-04-26, 17:11:35
Old interval: 4 days 20 hours 40 minutes 9 seconds
New interval: 8 days, 15 hours, 35 minutes and 34 seconds

Previous delta: 15 hours 58 minutes 38 seconds
This delta: 3 days 18 hours 55 minutes and 35 seconds
Last post: 2020-12-03, 10:54:38
This post:  2020-12-12, 09:20:43 
Old interval: 8 days, 15 hours, 35 minutes and 34 seconds
New interval: 8 days, 22 hours, 26 minutes and 5 seconds

Previous delta: 3 days 18 hours 55 minutes and 35 seconds
This delta:  6 hours 50 minutes and 31 seconds

Congratuations to @OakdaleFTL for causing the longest break.
We got a poll of sorts for GOP candidates and voters.

DnD Central / Re: Everything Trump…
In China Trump would have succeeded, in a democracy he won't.
So it's still legal in the UK (barring Scotland)? Here it has been illegal for 41 years.

Then again the English have had a reputed penchant for punishment, must have been why.

I don't know why it is still legal in Belgium, though.

Child corporal punishment laws

It's been the law in Scotland for over a year. Any breakdown in society yet?

DnD Central / Re: Everything Trump…
Let's just say that it is lucky Trump wasn't president of China when the epidemic started. On the other hand you Americans voted out Trump, the Chinese cannot do that. Overall a win for the US.
DnD Central / Re: Everything Trump…
Rudy Giuliani couldn't cause more trouble and embarrassment to the Trump administration if he was secretly paid by the Democratic National Committee.
DnD Central / Re: Everything Trump…
By the "logic" you used in another thread, jax, Xi's handling of the Wuhan outbreak (forbidding travel to other parts of China, but not international outbound travel...) is responsible for over a million deaths...

That claim is widespread in Trump circles, but that does not make it any more true. Policies in China were and are on a provincial and county level, much like the rest of the world. So when the Wuhan airport closed, January 23 according to memory, the other airports stayed open, and they closed piecemeal, depending on the province they were in. But when they closed, they closed domestic and international flights.

Those of us who actually paid attention in December, January, February (ahem) could follow the obstacle course of foreigners trying to return home to their respective countries before the plague arrived. Flights cancelled, prices soaring, and how to get from the city you were in to the airport in time, which (provincial borders were closed and which were open at a given time. The big problem, and panic, was how to get out of China, to third country if need be. In a few weeks, with all airports closed, special evacuation flights were all that were left. Those who didn't get on them were stuck (but a few weeks after that the tide turned, and China was safer than the outside world). 

Was the Chinese response good? Absolutely not. Trying to control the narrative and contain the epidemic on the hush for about two weeks at exactly the wrong place (Wuhan is the land transportation nexus of China) at exactly the wrong time (just before Spring Festival) was a horrible and deadly blunder. The system is partially to blame, local government is partially to blame, but Xi personally is definitely to blame. 

But keep in mind what we are talking about, a weeks-long delay for an unknown pneumonic disease that could be SARS-like. Now, nearly a year after, when this is no longer a "novel" disease, Trump is still spreading misinformation and sabotaging efficient response. Mind you, this is no MAGA invention. We see the exact same behaviour in earlier pandemics, e.g. the Spanish flu, or in some other countries. 

As it happen, the failing initial Chinese response might have been fortuitous for the rest of the world. If the Chinese had followed the proper "gold standard" script we might ironically have been worse off. Instead they went almost overnight from "wut, me worry?" to full lockdown in Wuhan and successively most of the country. A typical underreact-overreact pattern. But the overreaction, apart from mostly stopping the pandemic in China, gave another early warning to take this seriously. Most importantly, we didn't know until March that asymptomatic and presymptomatic people could spread this disease. The disease would probably have spread by stealth for weeks or months if they had gone by the book. Which seems to be how it spread in Europe and North America. Eyes on the border, we didn't really notice that it was spreading within, until it was too late. 

So, which Xi is responsible for thousands, likely tens of thousands of Chinese deaths, primarily in Wuhan/Hubei, he might have on the whole saved hundreds of thousands of lives world-wide. I am not going to credit him for that. It wasn't intentional. They really wanted to stop the disease, and they certainly didn't want it outside their borders, and overreacting happened to be the right medicine. But other places, like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, showed that you could suppress the disease without overreaction. 

DnD Central / Re: Everything Trump…
Trump: So predictable, so tragic.
You don't often "go off the deep end," jax: To what do you refer?

That's not going off any deep end, though I did make a slight miscalculation (Vietnam doesn't count, does it?).  On revised counting the total US post-war war deaths are about 103k, plus another 3k in 2001. The number of Covid-19 deaths today is around 231k. So that would have to make Donald Trump responsible for about 50% of the US deaths, which is higher than I would be comfortable with. But the year is still young. (Not so much the Covid fatalities. Unlike the soldiers, likely in their twenties, they have a median age in the seventies)

The death toll Trump is personally and directly responsible for is significantly smaller. This study "conclude that the rallies likely led to more than 700 deaths (not necessarily among attendees)."

So how many lives were cost due to the administration's mismanagement and misinformation, compared to a typical administration and an ideal administration? Many factors are not up to an administration anyway, like demographics and geographics, Some a single administration has little influence on, like state of health system, some they have a lot, like pandemic readiness and actual policy when it strikes. As a federal country, state administrations play their part.

The mismanagement is more likely to cost lives earlier on (though there are plenty of opportunities further on), while misinformation have a longer trajectory.  Actual studies a year or two from now will give a more precise estimate, but it would be tens of thousands of deaths directly attributable to the Trump administration, a large proportion to Donald Trump himself.
This week (or month) we'll see if the man responsible for more US deaths than all the wars since World War 2 and 11 September combine is going to be re-elected by the same Americans, or not.