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Messages - jax

The school framework is used and it brought us to where we are, thus it is usable. And everybody who has given a thought to the matter understands that global interoperability cannot be had, as long as local cultures evolving at variant speeds are to be adequately described.

The global interoperability, providing an occasional synchronisation to connect the timelines of local cultures, archeological-philological evidence permitting, is the Western year-numbers BC/AD method. So all the necessary pieces in history education are already there.

Teaching history to children is pretty futile to begin with.
A general anti-educational attitude will definitely not help your cause.

It was the best available framework at the time. But it doesn't scale that well from "what happened in my village at my great grandmother's time" to 5000+ years of human endeavour.

Each our life-time adds about 2% to history (depending of the span of our lives and what we count as span of history). A child's conscious span is a tenth that. The first historical event I remember I was 4 and didn't really have a timeline until at least double that. To a child history is something that happens to other people, mostly the dead ones. Chronological stereopsis comes later, if at all. That is not a requirement for engaging with history, but it is part of the reason why we often don't.

I am no better at maths now than I was at my early 20s, I am probably significantly worse. But I do know a whole lot more history. That is pretty typical. We learn more, even much more, history after school than we did in school. I'd venture the guess that is the case most of you.

That is not «anti-educational», quite the opposite. Education should strive to instil an interest, even enthusiasm for, history, and give tools for acquiring an overview to learn more later in life. But data cramming in childhood is not optimal. We got a lifetime to fill in the blanks. A system like this gives us a frame on which to hang the new information.

A generational framing in turn is a tool for a much larger project:

A call for Big History

The chunks in my framework are completely arbitrary, but to which we can attach mnemonic labels as desired.
Also now the chunks are arbitrarily named (Middle Ages? Early Modern times? As times move on, these are bound to be renamed, so there should have been some deeper thought given to naming them in the first place). And the labels are mnemonic enough for teaching children. If the system is unusable to teach children, it is useless.

The current system is already in the spirit that you try to achieve, "Something is easier to remember if it has a name, even if a name is misleading. Names, just like the end points of generations, are arbitrary. In principle the names might be something like Alice and Bob, but hooks help." The current labels of eras are based on a messy, essentially arbitrary system of hooks to provide a reference point to the era, so we are already there.

There is a difference between a tag and a name. "The Middle Ages" isn't just a label, it is the name of a time period in Western Europe, with quibbles for its beginning, end, and geographic extent. The Middle Ages is a thing. A label is just a transient crutch, which can be personalised. If instead of "phone" you picked e.g. "US hegemony" or "the rise and fall of Japan" that's your prerogative.
DnD Central / Re: Today's Bad News
I was one step away from buying $25 in bitcoins in 2011, some technical snaggle stopped me. If I had done so and kept it, a very big if indeed, it would be worth somewhere between 100k and 1.3 million euro (I don't remember the date or the exchange rate). But I immediately lost interest, and never regained it, as a currency that variable is useless. A verdict I still stand by.

Far worse than useless, because in the manic phases Bitcoin "mining" rewards damaging behaviour.
Tricky to pick the right thread, Finding the best system of economy or
Today's Good News, but here we are.

Janet Yellen calls for a global minimum tax on companies. Could it happen?

CORPORATE TAXATION is one of the thorniest issues in international economic policy. Janet Yellen, President Joe Biden's treasury secretary, and a former head of the Federal Reserve, is duly weighing in. On April 5th she grabbed the attention of the occupants of corner offices worldwide with a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The headline was a call for countries to agree on a global minimum tax rate for large companies.

Such a levy, Ms Yellen said, would help "make sure the global economy thrives based on a more level playing field", and would help end a "30-year race to the bottom". Though the idea of a minimum tax raises hackles in tax havens in the Caribbean, parts of Europe and farther afield, many other big economies will welcome America's renewed commitment to multilateralism on tax after the prickly unilateralism of the Trump years.

Over the past decade, growing corporate-tax avoidance has met with a growing backlash. Breakneck globalisation allowed multinationals to replace fears of double taxation with the joys of double non-taxation, using havens to game the system. By exploiting mismatches between countries' tax laws, taxable profits could be cut or even made to disappear. The game became easier with the rise of intangible assets, which can be shifted between jurisdictions more easily than buildings or machinery. Big tech has been a big beneficiary: the five largest Silicon Valley giants paid $220bn in cash taxes over the past decade, just 16% of their cumulative pre-tax profits.


Brazil seems in the middle of multiple concentric crises.
DnD Central / Re: Today's Good News
The virus kills people, not the vaccine. The virus kills the economy, not the lockdowns.

There are plenty of givens, citizens' health, age, and resources; level of overcrowdedness, quality of and access to the health system, and so on. Based on your givens, and available information, you try to shape the best policy.

You don't want to cede control to the virus, because when you do, health system is overrun, carnage follows and death and disability spikes. When that happens lockdown is the only option. Even when this hasn't happened, lockdown may be the best or necessary way to prevent this from happen (where "lockdown" these days seems to be anything from an actual Wuhan-style lockdown to modest constraints on business or personal activities).

The cure is not worse than the disease, except in a handful cases, but there have been plenty cases where the cure has been wrong, badly timed, or ineffectual. The opportunity cost, the pandemic not handled, has generally been higher than the cost of this cure.

DnD Central / Re: Today's Good News
Congrats, Col.! (Think there's any chance the current admin. will -if the facts do- admit that Fla. and "it" right; while Ca. and NY/etc. got "it" wrong? :)

? These four states are all middling, Texas lowest among them with 13.2%, California highest with 16.9%, but no massive difference. 

Yes, that was badly phrased. The number of cars is the main problem, but switching to electric motors helps a lot. Roughly speaking an EV has half the lifetime emissions of an ICE vehicle (1/6th in the best case). But if there are twice as many EVs as there are petrol cars today, little is won (though by that time "best case" ought to be normal case). They are still cars though they pollute less and are less noisy.
Somehow the awesome Tesla engineers have not even come up with the idea that the electric car batteries could be removable: Arrive at the refill station, give away your empty batteries, put new charged batteries in the car and continue. It would be somewhat faster, I suppose. If not, then electric cars can only survive by forcing them by regulation.
I imagine it's very much a matter of cost of some sort. The concept is beyond obvious after all.

Two (or three) worlds

The initial attraction of Tesla, presumably what attracted Musk to join Tesla in the first placce, was the faster, smoother sports car. The electrical motor is superior to the combustion engine, but the battery is an inferior energy store.

Nio was not the first Chinese company with swappable batteries. I trace that evolution back to this beauty:

Spotted in China: Xiaoshuidi Electric Vehicle

Not the first electric car by any means, but one of the prettiest. The goal was obviously not a sleek sports car, but a way to get where you want cheaply. Crucially it was powered by a good old (and cheap) lead acid car battery, and those batteries are standardised, and thus swappable. 

There were earlier pioneers, like the Norwegian Pivco/Think Global, that preceded either by a decade. Neither sleek nor cheap, but environmentally conscious, it never achieved commercial success.

That car was basically a driving battery. In that regards it reminds me of the Scania NXT concept vehicle. The concept is to swap hoods, so that it can be a bus at day, a cargo truck at night, but all that means is that you can swap the drive train.


I promise to examine "your" charts after a while. (I'm gonna have to print them out!)

Thanks for the Vivaldi refresher-trigger for a sojourn. The social layer seems functional if fallow. I might rereturn.

It was that stratigraphical map that was the direct trigger for my proposal. Earth history is ridiculously long. Human history is ridiculously short. We have lived though much of human history in our own life times.

Including geological time. When we went to school, geological time was simple. Cambrian, Silurian, the like. Learning two hundred names for different geological periods is not an option, at least not for me. A numerical system would make more sense. The 5:5:3 notation for generations is a direct inheritor. As is the application of the chunking/drill-down of geological time onto the much shorter human history. 

I was definitely taught in terms of "chunks" in my history lessons from the first to the university under some six or seven different teachers. Year-numbers were there, but so were the "chunks" like Bronze Age, Dark Age, Medieval Times, Age of Enlightenment. Did jax have a single bad history teacher throughout his school years?

Moreover, the chunks cannot be universalised. In different places there are different ages at the same absolute time, because the titles of the ages are descriptive of level of culture, not of time. For example, the people of Papua New Guinea are still happily in Stone Age as we speak, though somewhat distracted from it by an occasional smartphone.

Exactly. That framework we learned at school is unusable, and not interoperable (we learned about "the Viking age", which is basically the time when Scandinavians interfered with UK politics, Lindisfarne to Stamford Bridge, which made little sense in a Scandinavian context, or a Non-Scandinavian context for that matter). Even back then the teachers knew, but what could they do? Teaching history to children is pretty futile to begin with. The chunks in my framework are completely arbitrary, but to which we can attach mnemonic labels as desired.

History in Eurasia (with North Africa as honorary member) is a continuum. Less so the rest of Africa, even less so the rest of the world. But events are synchronised at irregular intervals. No island is an island.
Second to biology, history may be the field that has advanced the most in our life times. Whatever you learnt at youth is but a small fraction of what we now know. And this doesn't end. All the while our actual history is ridiculously short, a few hundred generations (to which we're adding a few more every life time).

Now we would be in the first year in the 171th generation since Lower Egypt reportedly got clobbered by Upper Egypt, and the Old Kingdom of Egypt began (or in the 246.16th generation if you opt for decimal).

So what can we do with too much information, especially if we intend to remain blissfully unaware of most of it? We can chunk it. 5000 years of global history is not tractable, 170 generations kind of is. Especially if we ignore 150-160 of those. Of course, the full prehistory is a little more terrifying (my scheme covers the upper left corner, crossing into the Upper Pleistocene). But again, that's a framework behind the framework we can ignore. 

If we focus on the good times, it isn't too bad. 


DnD Central / Re: Maps-Maps-Maps! ?
So the US President is a Catholic. The President pro tempore of the US Senate is a Catholic. The Speaker of the House is Catholic. 6 out of 9 US Supreme Court justices are Catholics. Maybe now is the time to turn the Vatican State into the US 51st state?

Think it is safe to say that the US as the domain of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants has well and truly ended.
The sense of deja vu is strong. I did link to my Back to the Space Age piece in another thread, but I guess a rerun is better than an also-ran. (Speaking of media nostalgia, I guess I should watch For All Mankind, but haven't gotten around to it yet.)
This must be a topic for the What's Going on in the Vatican City State? thread. Though there are some very strange American Catholics around. Whether that is because they are American, because they are Catholics, or because of the combination thereof I am not the one to tell.

Anyway, the US got a Catholic president again. Yay/nay? The last one was John F. Kennedy.
DnD Central / Re: Facebook vs. Apple
Now it looks like your link is clean indeed. Sorry if I accused you for no reason. I am paranoid enough to look at links about 50% before clicking (and 90% after clicking), but I should aim for a 100% before clicking.

I habitually remove all gunk from URLs before posting, and I knew I did it here. That also includes Google AMP URLs, and when I bother the mobile URLs, and all that is not referring to the real resource. As far as I know sites are not really currently using this information to build up a profile, but it is morally wrong anyway.
DnD Central / Re: Facebook vs. Apple
I grew up with commercial television... Advertising is part of everything.

Up until this century you watched/read advertisements. Advertisements didn't watch/read you.

No, @ersi, that URL doesn't track. The web site will of course, if you let it.
DnD Central / Re: Facebook vs. Apple
Loathing of Facebook practices is probably something we all can agree on.

Silicon Valley pushed corporate surveillance as a business model, and none more so than Facebook.

But opt-in is flawed, whether GDPR or this scheme, and Apple's is weaker. A stronger, simpler, better scheme is not to allow these companies to opt-in in the first place.

For a decade now we have lived under 1984-style two-way screen, Silicon Brother is watching us whilst we are browsing the grass. Combined with way more effective use of Big Data, this leaves a path open to each our favourite dystopia. So plug that peekhole now while we can.

EU's top privacy regulator urges ban on surveillance-based ad targeting

The Soviet-beloved troika, and before the Roman triumvirate, were not that great or stable a power structure. Still, the troika London-Berlin-Paris could have had more life to it than it got. Oh well. Berlin and Paris are fairly aligned on Russia anyway.
Being the "foreign minister" of the EU is kind of a weird position in that the EU doesn't really have a foreign policy. We absolutely should, but foreign policy is one thing the member countries don't want to give up. That said, I think his predecessor, Federica Mogherini, did a pretty good job in this role.

I don't have an opinion on Borrell yet. The Kremlin went out of their way to humiliate him. Whether that was a good move remains to be seen. He seems to have been somewhat miffed by it.

My visit to Moscow and the future of EU-Russia relations

I went to Moscow this week to test, through principled diplomacy, whether the Russian government was interested in addressing differences and reversing the negative trend in our relations. The reaction I received points visibly in a different direction. So, as EU we will have to reflect on the broader implications and chart a way forward. We are at a crossroads. The main parameters of the geopolitical landscape of the 21st century are being drawn.
 But ultimately it's not up to him, but the member countries, particularly France and Germany. 

Russia humiliates Borrell in Moscow

In hindsight I can somewhat forgive to Merkel and Hollande when they sucked up to Putin some ten plus years ago. It was still stupid and dangerous to suck up to Putin, but times looked bright, particularly in the Western Europe, so their ignorance was somewhat understandable.

But Borrell's behaviour is dangerous and absolutely unforgivable. He is straightforwardly treasonous, because everybody should understand that this is a time of near-war wrt Russia. In order to restore the credibility of the EU, Borrell must be deposed swiftly.

EU to impose sanctions on Russians over Navalny by March summit, diplomats say
Same old, same old. "The fossil fuel industry's disinformation machine turned on before the lights even went out."

Why on earth would right-wing people with connections to the fossil fuel industry lie about 'frozen wind turbines' in Texas?

Why did you start counting at around 3.000BC? the real scale in my opinion would be around 40.000 years ago, with Homo Sapiens.
Course in that case you would have 40000/30=1333 generations where nothing happens during 1200 generations. A bit boring story.

For that, blame the Egyptians. A pretty natural starting point is the bronze age. The need for copper and tin led to a Eurasian trading network all the way from Japan to Scandinavia. That would also coincide with the diffusion of writing, technology, farming surpluses, cities, organised warfare and so on. So 3500-4000 years ago, 120-130 generations ago would be a happening time to begin our period. If we set the Younger Dryas as a convenient starting point for agriculture, we could split that into three parts of about 4000 years, the first third would mostly have been lost in the fog of prehistory, but by the end we'd have fairly functional agriculture with the first animal-driven ploughs, modern pottery and so on. The second third wouldn't be so dramatic either but at least we'd get some stories, and the first individuals we know the name of. And of course, byt the third everything was buzzing, and there are little differences with the world today.

That third could be trisected as well, roughly before antiquity, during antiquity, and now (after antiquity).

But by bisecting as I did (arbitrarily with the first king of united Egypt), this counting would start closer to the beginning, and we have 170 generations to work with, rather than 120.
Just passing this on,