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Chickens & nukes Aug. 30th, 2016 @ 02:40 pm
Those are two major traits of the last half a century that have become a central feature in a recent conclusion of a groups of scientists, which basically argues that a new epoch in Earth's development, called Anthropocene, should now be formulated separately from the Holocene:

Earth Enters Anthropocene Epoch, Thanks to Humans

This international team of researchers say the worldwide spread of plastics, concrete, and even chickens combined with man-made climate change has caused the Earth to enter its first new epoch in more than 11,500 years.

I'd say this comes a little late in recognising what has been obvious to many for more years than I can count. I would query only the name chosen - the Anthropocene assumes that there will be a future for humanity, which will look back with disgust, indulgence or incredulity on our 70-80 years of pure self-indulgence. Perhaps The Apocalene would be a better fit? Could we say the era that follows this one would be one of cockroaches, rats and things that crawl in the little remaining earth?

Just imagine... Aug. 29th, 2016 @ 11:10 pm
...The biggest stunt in the history of US presidential elections. I mean, Trump pulling a major "I was just pulling your leg, folks" trick at the very last minute, and abruptly ending his run to the White House. Claiming to have only aimed to teach America a lesson. John Oliver actually did a piece much to this effect the other day:

John Oliver Compares Donald Trump To 'The Kid Who Ran For President' & There Are Some Haunting Similarities

The awkward and lovable British comedian basically appealed to Trump (albeit seemingly jokingly) to choose the third from among the two terrible options that he currently stands before (losing the election and proving himself to be a failure, or, even worse, actually winning it and having to run the country). The third option is to do what this fictional kid did in the story that he cited. A kids book really, but very thought-provoking.

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It Takes A Village Aug. 28th, 2016 @ 10:06 am
Hello again, fellow political junkies! It's time for our new installment of ridiculously over-simplified hypothetical situations that you, being the benevolent ruler of your fictional state as per the NationStates model, would have to collide with. You know, your extremist decisions are somehow supposed to shape up your country in the way you deem most suitable. The last time when we had one of these polls, most of you sided with the CEO of a high-tech manufacturer, who argued that not only should robot wives be allowed to be produced, but there should be more competition on the market. But now the issue is a bit different, namely:

The Issue

A recently released book authored by Jennifer Nixon, your former Human Services Minister, has highlighted the financial and mental health concerns of parents in Insert Country Name. The book has thrust the issue of childcare back into the public spotlight.

The Debate & a PollCollapse )

Friday fun: The Stop Trump game Aug. 27th, 2016 @ 12:13 am
Hey, I came across this flash game which is not exactly the Punch Candidate X type of game, and it got me hooked up for the best part of an hour. Yeah I know, I'm a guilty procrastinator!


I'd love to have some suggestions for similar games related to the upcoming election - including with any of the other candidates in the primaries, and Hillary of course. Care to share?

Offtopic nonsense. ISIS protest exclusion from Olympics Aug. 26th, 2016 @ 03:16 pm
(From the UnNews section of the Uncyclopedia):

ISIS have access to plenty of Nike trainers.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- The Islamic State ('ISIS') have condemned their exclusion from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed the ban, imposed when I.S. declared a worldwide jihad against 'crusaders', Jews, homosexuals, and Pokemon GO.

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The Cognitive Dissonance of the Alt-Right Aug. 25th, 2016 @ 09:24 am
The so-called "alt-right" is an American political movement described as containing elements of nativism, white-nationalism (sometimes including separatism or supremacy,) a belief that Christianity is a core and essential element of "Western Civilization," as well as sometimes antisemitism and neo-reactionary opposition to Democratic forms of government. While this kind of movement is certainly not unique to the U.S., its popularity is, and that demands some examination.

As stated above, while the adherents of "alt-right" philosophy would deny that it has any one specific definition, it's become clear that it is, if not fundamentally aligned with, at least friendly with white nationalism and christian dominionism, and is at least somewhat hostile to democracy. This presents a problem: the vast majority of American citizens reject these things (or at least their most overt manifestations.) Most Americans were raised to believe in the ideals of the Enlightenment, the ideals held by the Founding Fathers: ideals of democracy, equality of race and gender, and freedom of religion. Admittedly, the U.S. has not always adhered to these ideals perfectly (sometimes not at all,) but they have always been held up a goal, an ideal to strive towards, and our understanding of them has only broadened over the centuries. In the early twentieth century, it likely would not have been hard to find folks who'd agree, at least in part, with the philosophy espoused later by the Nazis. Today, it would be much harder to find people willing to agree with that.

Enter the alt-right. The alt-right is facing a problem: most folks reject what they are offering, when it's presented openly and honestly. Most Americans do not want nativism, white nationalism (or white separatism,) neoreactionism, or dominionism.

The alt-right has a solution to this problem.

16 points.Collapse )

Cognitive DissonanceCollapse )

What does this have to do with the alt-right?Collapse )

SunlightCollapse )

Learning from Rio's mistakes Aug. 25th, 2016 @ 12:45 pm
Now that the Rio Olympics are over, everyone's looking with hope to the next host in 2020, Tokyo. The IOC has decided to add 5 new sports to the next Olympics: baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, climbing and surfing.

What's more important though is, will the Japanese learn from Rio's mistakes. Exceeding the budget for the Games has become a norm these days, but it's also becoming increasingly serious a problem. The initial budget for building the sports facilities in Rio was $ 3bn, but it eventually swelled to a staggering 4.5bn. The organisers of Tokyo'20 have come up with a similar initial budget, but the current estimates show that the amount could become 17.8bn, which is amazing. The average expense for the sports halls and stadiums is hovering around 9bn in recent years.

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Speaking of France and Muslims: Aug. 24th, 2016 @ 09:17 pm

It's worth bringing up a dirty little politically incorrect secret here.

Where and when it all beganCollapse )

What happened afterCollapse )

And now in the 2010sCollapse )

I actually expect Europeans to behave better than the boorish and ignorant people on this side of the Atlantic. When they prove to be human just like we are, it's disappointing as all Hell. It's bad enough to see ignorance and idiocy and self-inflicted wounds recurring again and again and again and again here. I just hope that France, unlike us, remembers better the better angels of its nature and rises above the easy temptations of hatred and contempt. And if it did, it would be a wonderful instance both for France for all humanity.

As Turkey finally decided to invade Syria, it's worth noting some context here: Aug. 24th, 2016 @ 08:57 pm

Four or so years ago, Assad started shelling Turkish villages and Ankara wanted a major NATO intervention in the Syrian Civil War.

cut for length and linksCollapse )

Does Turkey's intervention amount to anything more than oppressing a long-oppressed group denied its rights still further? Yes. At the end of the day, the USA and the EU must decide if they intend NATO and anti-terrorist rhetoric to mean anything, or if Turkey, which is clearly degenerating into the worst excesses of the region it's in, should have a free hand to engage in wholesale imperialism using anti-terrorism as a cover.

Then again too it's a bit late to decide that particular barn door should be locked after 2003 blew it wide open and carried off the whole farm with it. The real victims here will remain the long-suffering people of Syria who've seen their country halved and turned into a latter-day variant of 1930s Spain with Great Powers fighting over the twitching corpse purely to prove a point.

The new birthers Aug. 24th, 2016 @ 01:07 pm
Remember the whole Obama birth certificate debacle? Now there's this:

Debunking the Hillary Clinton health conspiracy

"From Donald Trump and his top surrogates to the right-wing media and its engine rooms of outrage in the blogosphere, Hillary Clinton's opponents are ramping up efforts to sow doubt over the candidate's health."

I don't know if this is a concerted effort or it's just that The Donald picked up a conspiracy topic at random, then flamed it up as only he can, and his hacks duly followed suit. But one thing is for sure: right-wing folks sure as hell are extremely susceptible to, well, extremes. Conspiracy theories abound in that sort of mindset - the government is after them, it's all part of a grand global plan to subdue their freedoms and take their guns, etc.

Examples aboundCollapse )

The most banal conspiracy of all time Aug. 23rd, 2016 @ 08:01 pm
Conspiracy theories are like mushrooms: just when you begin to think they're gone, they pop up back again. Oh, and they're also kinda smelly. Case in point:

Yep. It's the old tired Moon-hoax conspiracy. It has been debunked so many times, it's not even fun to contemplate it any more.

I know what some'd say now. "But, but, vids like these do have some valid arguments!"

I guess if some aliens are watching us right now, they must be dying of laughter. Speaking of aliens, I suspect we've come to a point where even the appearance of genuine aliens (heh!) would be met with apathy by the public (despite having all those Alien-Greeting U.N. Ambassadors appointed, and all that). It may well be that people have been so over-saturated with all sorts of conspiracy theories that we could end up in a The Boy Who Cried Wolf situation, if you know what I mean.

But seriously...Collapse )

Persecuting headgear Aug. 22nd, 2016 @ 10:04 pm
What's a burqa, and does it have a place in our place? That's the question that a number of European societies have been pondering about for some time. In Germany for example, some province ministers of the interior have decided to ban the controversial headgear as part of the measures to counter Islamic radicalization. Other countries already have some experience in that respect, most acting on a regional principle, some at a national level.

In France, the ban on niqabs, burqas and all such paraphernalia has been in place since 2011. The penalty fee is 150 euros. So far, about 2000 such fines have been imposed, and one Algerian entrepreneur even boasts with the fact that he has personally paid more than half of those.

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The greatest flip-flop is yet to come Aug. 21st, 2016 @ 11:16 pm
Trump now says he plans to legalize some undocumented immigrants

"Trump plans to announce a major shift on immigration policy next week. The Republican candidate met Saturday with Hispanic leaders who said he told them he regrets prior comments about Mexicans."

Wait, wasn't he supposed to be very, very, extremely tough on illegal immigrants? Didn't he call Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals? Didn't he vow to deport every single one of them? Didn't he praise Operation Wetback, the infamous mass deportation program of the 50s? Hasn't he been standing next to victims of crimes perpetrated by illegal immigrants? Hmmm...

Dammit, how dumb do they think everyone is? Within 5 days, you hire one of the most reprehensible racists as your campaign manager, and now you want everyone to believe you might change your stance on immigration - um, just so you can get elected and then change your mind back again... please.

Inconsistent, unpredictable, wavers and weaves in the slightest breeze - oh yeah, this is a sign of real "strength", "honesty", "confidence". This man is the biggest con man of all time. It's stunning that such a huge number of people still support him and intend to vote for him.

Friday wow. The true Olympic spirit Aug. 20th, 2016 @ 12:10 am
In this day and age of commercialism in all domains in life, including sport, it is nice to occasionally remember what it was all meant to be about originally. Two cases in point:

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Methinks these guys doth have way too much fun :-D Aug. 19th, 2016 @ 01:54 pm
Fake human sacrifice filmed at Cern, with pranking scientists suspected

Spokeswoman at high temple of particle physics suggests ‘scientific users’ of the Geneva facility ‘let their humour go too far’ with staging of occult rite

I think this is just brilliant. And the most priceless part? The way it riled up the conspiracy junkies. :-)

The unneeded burden Aug. 18th, 2016 @ 07:39 pm
In a recent NYT interview, Trump warned he'd change things in NATO if he became president, the US likely refusing to defend those NATO members who refuse to fulfill their commitments to the alliance, namely investing at least 2% of their GDP into defense. His works may've caused a slight panic in some East European capitals, where it was interpreted almost as an outright rejection of the infamous Article 5 of the NATO code, which says any attack on any member automatically means a collective military response from the whole alliance. Now analysts also believe a possible Trump presidency would mean the money NATO member countries would have to pay would increase, which could mean another Trump idea could become fact: reducing the number of NATO members.

At a first reading, the isolationism that radiates from these ideas has a purely economic reason behind it, as much as the alliance has become a burden for the US for quite a while. The US now practically funds NATO, and simultaneously guarantees the bulk of its military might. It's a fact that only 5 out of the 28 members have fulfilled the 2% requirement: the US (3.6%), Greece, UK, Estonia and Poland. This means a Trump presidency could mean 23 NATO members (including Germany, France, etc) would automatically be left out of the US "umbrella". Trump is saying the wasting of funds does not help the efficiency of those investments, and NATO's arsenal is too old and useless, and needs overhauling. Which means even more military expenditure from all members.

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While we bicker about Trump's tiny hands over here... Aug. 17th, 2016 @ 08:16 pm
Hey, folks! Want some geopolitical blitz-style case-in-point, eh? All right then, since you insisted, here it is:

Russia-Iran cooperation in Syria send message to US

When you don't play along with us, we'll turn to your foes and rivals in a heartbeat. That's basically the message. Russia has put bombers and fighter jets in Iran, and troops for the first time since WW2. Just to remind of the context here. Iran supports the Kurds in North Iraq, and the Shia majority of Iraq, and Assad, Russia's crony in the Levant, whom the Iranians view as their best vessel for establishing that West-East crescent spanning the entire region and connecting Iran to the strategic Mediterranean (new oil has been found near Cyprus, now being contested by several countries; plus, those pipelines have to pass from somewhere if Iran wants to bypass the tricky Gulf rivals).

Things are getting complicated down thereCollapse )

Saving the Donald from himself... Aug. 16th, 2016 @ 04:50 pm
...Is a doomed mission, obviously. Here's a look into the matter, as his campaign seems to be unraveling pretty fast at this point:

Inside the Failing Mission to Tame Donald Trump’s Tongue

I think there are two conclusions sticking out. One, Trump is a one-trick pony. He's got just one mode he feels comfortable in, and is therefore afraid of moving away from it. He's unhappy and uncomfortable whenever compelled to do so. And two, even when he understands the need to change the mode for a while, and does agree to change it (like when he tried to make a coherent speech on fiscal policy, finally reading some text from a teleprompter, cleverly written by some of his campaign managers), he just can't seem to be able to do it for much longer than a few minutes.

And when he inevitably shits over it all, and even when some of his allies attempt to sweep the shit for him on his behalf, he again doubles down on his own BS. Like that bit where a conservative TV pundit asked him if he didn't mean Obama had created the conditions for ISIS to thrive, rather than literally meaning Obama was the founder of ISIS - and Trump said that no, he did mean Obama was the actual founder of ISIS. And then he said he had been sarcastic all the while. But then he said he hadn't been "entirely" sarcastic. And so on and so forth. You get my drift.

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The Kremlin is trolling this election pretty hard Aug. 15th, 2016 @ 07:38 pm
First there was the Russian hacking into the DNC's emails, and Trump's call for the Russians to hack into his opponent's communications; then there were the allegations of deep Russian connections amidst Trump's highest-ranking aides... And now, somewhat logically, comes this.

Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief

Another day, another piece of drama coming from Putin's general direction.

His campaign already in tatters, The Donald alienating everybody left and right, and evading every and any attempts by the public to compel to him to settle upon a coherent message, this might be one of the last nails in his coffin (although we've learned time and time again that underestimating Trump is the direst mistake one could possibly make, as far as elections go).

Whatever the final outcome, we now know for sure that Trump's chief campaign manager has been a mercenary lobbyist for Putin's crony in the Ukraine, the deposed and discredited Viktor Yanukovych. And that doesn't bode well for a hypothetical Trump administration (Heaven forbid!) which is going to be supposed to put America's interests first and foremost at the international stage.

We've talked about a bunch of neocons recently endorsing Hillary, and this potentially meaning that her administration could adopt neo-Bushonian policies; what about a bunch of Putin pals effectively running the administration of a candidate who has actually indicated that he'd "delegate" most of his domestic and foreign policy to his surrogates while retaining as his only prerogative the Making of America Great Again!?

All My Bits Are Belong To You Aug. 14th, 2016 @ 09:23 pm
Hey, my beloved procrastinators! It's time for our new installment of ridiculously over-simplified and unbearably polarized hypothetical situations, inspired by the NationStates online game - you know, that place where you're the benevolent ruler of your own fictional state, which you're completely free to shape as you please, based on the extreme choices you make in situations like the below presented. Last time when we delved into the depths of True Democracy(tm), the bulk of you guys sided with Sven Yeltsin, the political strategist who argued that negative campaign ads should be left alone. Now the issue is somewhat in line with our monthly topic, women empowerment. Plus something more...

The Issue

Robotics giant Robot4U Inc. has caused an uproar in Insert Country Name for its new product – Mindy The Robot Wife. Budding ‘AI rights’ activists and feminist groups have demanded the sale of such units be outlawed.

The debate & a pollCollapse )
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