Sandbox (4)

Sometimes very active discussions about peripheral issues overwhelm a thread, so this is a permanent home for those conversations.

I’ve opened a new “Sandbox” thread as a post as the new “ignore commenter” plug-in only works on threads started as posts.

4,243 thoughts on “Sandbox (4)

  1. dazz: It’s so scary. If Putin gets away with invading Ukraine, will he be encouraged to keep going just like Hitler did after annexing Austria?

    Putin got away with many things earlier, such as annexation of Crimea. It went so smoothly that he thought he could easily take the rest of Ukraine as well. But this time I hope EU and Nato have learned their lessons, stay determined and make the correct choices.

  2. Erik: But overall they know well enough what is going on. It is not hard to guess and, if interested, find foreign news on the subject.

    That’s reassuring. I had been under the impression that Russians had no alternative to state media. Thank you for setting the record straight!

  3. Kantian Naturalist: I had been under the impression that Russians had no alternative to state media.

    In terms of tv, radio and newspapers there is practically only state media. It has been increasingly dangerous to be a journalist in Russia, and it’s particularly dangerous right now.

    But their internet is not too different from ours. In China the internet is much different from ours, but not in Russia. Those in Russia who get their coverage from the internet are as up to date as we are. They know enough so that there are even street protests.

    And, you know, there were dissidents even in Soviet Union when there really was hardly any access to alternative knowledge, except classical literature. It’s a good start to have independent thinking and be able to identify propaganda.

  4. Erik:
    Ex-USSR, one of them Baltic countries.

    Hard to talk with Russians at my workplace on this subject. They are so visibly stressed and ashamed that they can start crying any moment.

    You can look up on Youtube how they feel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRoAXbOQhDI

    Good, glad to hear you’re safe
    ETA: I already watched that YT vid a few days ago.

  5. Having lived through McCarthy, Vietnam, a couple of Afghanistan adventures, Iraq, and so forth, the scary thing for me is when all the news media report the same thing the same way.

    In the US, you really have to work hard to get foreign news sources. Out most common sources are British, and I’m not sure that counts.

    I can’t remember the last time I saw news directly from Africa or Latin America.

  6. My news sources have been diversified all along and I can confirm that mainstream news are very similar across the world. The local topics differ, but global topics are the same everywhere. However, the little differences between e.g. American and (continental) European news highlight the difference in the method of journalism. In USA, opinion passes as reporting, and the terms opinion and reporting are constantly conflated in tv/cable/videostream. Even some opinion heads in USA who know journalism well enough to be aware that they are doing opinion, not reporting, occasionally say, “We have reported on this before…” something that is not allowed and never happens in Europe.

    If you want to be more conscious of your news consumption, I have some recommendations:
    – always look up at least two sources in different countries, preferably also in different languages, about the news you care about (no need to go through the effort about news that you do not care about)
    – if the newspiece you care about is unavailable in any other source, there is usually some significance to it – either there is false/biased reporting or you are somehow caring about the wrong thing
    – pay attention to the kind and genre of the sources, e.g. newspaper, video, radio, internet, newscaster, small-time reporter, corporate/syndicated opinion head, anonymous internet poster/unknown tweeter, etc.
    – is the newspiece original or is it reporting on some other source? (often enough newswriters copy-paste or rush-translate other sources, failing to explicitly state their source – newswriting is, alas, paid by quantity)
    – another important genre difference is regular quotidian reporting versus investigative reporting; the latter is the best kind of news possible but not every topic merits deep-dive investigative reporting; judge investigative reporting by academic standards

  7. J-Mac: Russian refugees?

    As far as I am aware, the only Russian refugees are those young enough, with skills and assets enough, to make a new life in the West and I suspect they only need temporary support if any. The vast majority of ordinary Russians don’t get accurate information on what is happening in Ukraine, nor are they able to do anything to change the path Putin has chosen.

  8. Erik: another important genre difference is regular quotidian reporting versus investigative reporting; the latter is the best kind of news…

    Any kind of reporting is a risky business in Ukraine. How many correspondents have been killed now? Reporting news not welcome by the powers that be in Russia risks a prison sentence of up to fifteen years. I hope the shocking news of civilians being murdered gets to be heard in Russia. But the population seems so fatalistic, even their beginning to believe information on atrocities, would that affect Putin’s actions?

  9. Apologies to fellow commenters. I’m horrified by recent reports of the devastation, starvation, rapes and murders happening in Ukraine and frustrated that can do so little to prevent what has been and is going on.

  10. FWIW, I’ll mention that U.S. officials should leave all talk of war crimes to foreign allies. As vice president, Joe Biden was part of a supposedly “post-partisan” administration that actively countered attempts to address the war crimes of the immediately preceding administration.

  11. Tom English,
    Wasn’t it Trump that pardoned some US military convicted of war crimes committed in Iraq? Difficult, I guess, to keep to moral high ground if you insist on exceptions.

  12. Tom English,

    As a Vietnam vet I carry with me a great deal of cognitive dissonance regarding war and war crimes.

    I can hope for the total humiliation of Russia, long overdue, and at the same time, not be a cheerleader. I guess what I hope for most is the collapse of Russia.

    Unless they find the WMDs.

    Gallows humor.

  13. I accidentally found myself discussing this topic with someone from India a few days ago.

    He said the Russians were sweethearts compared to the British. Can’t verify the truth of that, but I can’t deny it. Americans paint themselves as sweethearts in war, but there have been notable lapses.

  14. dazz,

    I’m afraid the WMD thing was a bad joke, a reference to the US/Iraq war.

    Did we ever find them?

  15. Alan Fox: Wasn’t it Trump that pardoned some US military convicted of war crimes committed in Iraq?

    Right.

    Perhaps more apropos: Using remotely piloted aircraft to assassinate nonstate actors, the U.S. has killed thousands of innocents. No matter how much the assassination teams do to avoid collateral deaths in each of their aerial strikes, a program of many such strikes is sure to produce many collateral deaths. George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump knew that their strategic assassination programs were killing many innocent people. And Joe Biden knows the same. Thus there is good reason to put the last four presidents of the United States on trial for crimes against humanity. Of course, the chance of that happening is nil to none.

    Are the American people complicit in the negligent manslaughter, euphemistically called “collateral damage,” resulting from the strategic assassination program of their country? I’m inclined to say that ascribing collective guilt to a people is itself inhumane. In any case, one ought to consider the question carefully before blaming the Russian people for the atrocities in Ukraine.

    [Edited for clarity.]

  16. petrushka: I guess what I hope for most is the collapse of Russia.

    Unless they find the WMDs.

    Gallows humor.

    WMDs:Nazis :: Bush:Putin

    petrushka: I’m afraid the WMD thing was a bad joke, a reference to the US/Iraq war.

    Insufficiently woke, no doubt, I continue to believe that jokes about bad things can be good.

  17. Alan Fox: As far as I am aware, the only Russian refugees are those young enough, with skills and assets enough, to make a new life in the West and I suspect they only need temporary support if any. The vast majority of ordinary Russians don’t get accurate information on what is happening in Ukraine, nor are they able to do anything to change the path Putin has chosen.

    You should disconnect your cable TV.

  18. Alan Fox:
    J-Mac

    I don’t have cable. If you disagree with my comment, make a case.

    I go to buy organic foods from the Mennonites. Would you like to guess how many of them were affected by COVID? ZERO. Why?

  19. J-Mac: I go to buy organic foods from the Mennonites. Would you like to guess how many of them were affected by COVID? ZERO. Why?

    Umm… Because they don’t watch cable TV?

  20. Is it true that Canada the only country left in the world that doesn’t allow the citizens to fly out of the country without the proof of the gene therapy?

  21. Apparently nobody has made a post about it here, so I am going to. I plan to shed some light on exactly why and how it is not very interesting.

  22. Erik,

    I would be interested in reading a post about it, one that isn’t full of rabid
    pop-atheists claiming that irreducible complexity has been refuted for decades, and when asked how, respond, “Well, if you don’t know….”

    Seems to be primarily watched by the lowest level of youtube buffoons.

  23. UD is discussing abortions. Why aren’t you? Not related to biology enough? I’m interested in some opinions 🙂

  24. Neil Rickert:
    Erik,

    In my opinion, such discussion usually produce more heat than light.

    But this is quite enlightening for non-Americans how such a topic can be heated.

  25. Erik: But this is quite enlightening for non-Americans how such a topic can be heated.

    Pretty simple, I think. If abortion is regarded as a medical procedure, no problem. If it’s regarded as a religious procedure, things get heated.

    Although, even as a medical procedure, there is some heated debate as to whether private medical decisions should be made by the individual based on that individual’s situation, or made by the government and imposed on the individual regardless of any other consideration. And here is where religion gets invoked, since the only reason anyone thinks government should make such decisions is a religious reason.

    Interestingly, here we have an illustration of how a minority, even a relatively small minority, can use the power of law to impose their will on a majority if they are organized, funded, focused, patient and tireless. A group of single-issue fanatics can sometimes defeat a vastly larger group of people with many other concerns which in sum outweigh that single issue.

  26. Erik:
    When the court becomes activist in overturning case law, legislators become more active in legislating https://abc7ny.com/house-democrats-pass-2-bills-on-abortion-care/12054365/

    Sigh. From that article:
    The measure passed in a 219-to-210 vote. No Republicans voted in favor of the bill.

    The Women’s Health Protection Act now goes to the Senate, where it previously failed to move forward after the House first passed it in September 2021.

    Any abortion-related legislation will likely meet a similar fate in the upper chamber, where Democrats need 10 Republican votes to overcome the 60-vote filibuster.

    Given the expected near-even representation in the Senate and the rigid ideological positions of both sides, I don’t expect any serious legislation in my lifetime. Instead, I expect endless court battles with judicial decisions swinging back and forth at every level.

  27. Erik: UD is discussing abortions.

    Yes. I’ve been paying far too much attention to Uncommon Descent recently. I’ve even posted a comment or two. One obvious difference between TSZ and UD is that TSZ is much less US-centric than UD and participants tend not to be, on the whole, right-wing religious zealots.

    Also, as I’ve often complained about, I don’t think we have any women contributing here currently (or at UD). I don’t see how another discussion by men concerning the rights of women would be very productive.

  28. The composition of the US Supreme Court does seem very odd to this outsider. How did it come to this?

  29. Alan Fox:
    The composition of the US Supreme Court does seem very odd to this outsider. How did it come to this?

    Obama did not nominate many judges, so Trump had a chance to nominate a bunch.

    Flint: Given the expected near-even representation in the Senate and the rigid ideological positions of both sides, I don’t expect any serious legislation in my lifetime. Instead, I expect endless court battles with judicial decisions swinging back and forth at every level.

    So it’s divided both in courts and in legislatures. And in the states, so lots of reasons for abortion tourism and abortion pill smuggling. Good for the economy, I guess, even though it’s grey economy and black market.

    The whole country looks extremely polarised. Jan 6 2021 could have set off a civil war. Also, Democrats could have annihilated the Republican Party immediately afterwards, had they wanted to. But they seem to like the system and the situation the way it is. Because lots of problems means employment for politicians. Solving all the problems would be the end of politics.

    With regard to abortion, Ireland in Europe used to be an outlier for a long time. And right now Poland tries to take that position, but there is not such polarisation as in USA, not even close.

  30. Alan Fox: The composition of the US Supreme Court does seem very odd to this outsider. How did it come to this?

    The Senate took the rather unprecedented step of refusing to hold confirmation hearings for Obama’s one nominee, Merrick Garland. (This is different from rejecting a nominee on the basis of confirmation hearings, which has happened in the past. I’m not sure it’s happened since 1987.)

    So, the Senate created a situation that the far right could then take advantage of, by suggesting to the Trump administration two conservative Catholics (Kavanaugh and Barrett) plus Gorsuch. So 1/3 of the Court consists of Trump appointees.

    (Some liberals blame Ginsberg for refusing to retire while Obama was in office and he could replace her with another liberal. My conjecture was that she simply refused to accept the possibility that Clinton could lose to someone like Trump.)

    Erik: The whole country looks extremely polarised. Jan 6 2021 could have set off a civil war. Also, Democrats could have annihilated the Republican Party immediately afterwards, had they wanted to. But they seem to like the system and the situation the way it is. Because lots of problems means employment for politicians. Solving all the problems would be the end of politics.

    I think there’s something to this, though I have a somewhat different interpretation.

    As I see it, the Democrats and Republicans have very different attitudes towards norms, procedures, and institutions.

    The Republicans will be committed to norms and procedures if doing so allows them to advance their policy objectives and will abandon norms and procedures if that’s what advances their policy objectives. This is what makes them seem like hypocrites, but there’s a clear vision at work: adherence to procedures is a means like any other, and it’s fine if doing so advances them towards the goal, and not if it doesn’t.

    By contrast, Democrats have a commitment to norms, procedures, and institutions for their own sake. Nancy Pelosi recently said, “we need a strong Republican Party.” This isn’t true — the country doesn’t need one — but the Democrats need a party that they can oppose. At bottom, all the Democrats offer is opposition to whatever the Republicans are doing. The Republicans know exactly what they want and how they’re going to get there, and they set the terms of the debate. The Democrats do not have a compelling vision of what they want the country to be like, who they want us to become, or how they’re going to solve any of the problems that we face.

    Put in general terms, the Democrats are a conservative party and the Republicans are a reactionary party. I say that because the Democrats want only to hold onto existing norms and procedures for as long as possible, regardless of the harms those procedures are causing — because those procedures benefit the wealthiest of all Americans, and those are the people who donate to the Democrats.

    The Republicans are radical reactionaries who want to dismantle the New Deal, the Civil Rights movement, and the gains made in the 1970s and since for women and LBGT people.

    For the Democrats, it’s always the 1990s and nothing will change that — for the Republicans, they want to return us to the 1950s (but without returning us to the very low levels of income inequality and steeply progressive taxation that made their idyllic world possible in the first place).

    So the reason why the Democrats haven’t taken advantage of the January 6 insurrection isn’t because politicians don’t like solving problems, but because the Democrats don’t have any positive policy proposals or even a vision of what they hope to accomplish. All that they offer is resistance and opposition to whatever the Republicans are up to.

    As for how we got to this point: as I see it, the decisive error was made by Bill Clinton and Al Gore when they decided to abandon the working class. They decided that the future of the Democrats was with college educated suburban voters, and stopped caring about working class people and people with a high school education (or less). They abandoned the working class and left them completely vulnerable to right-wing populists like Trump. The “Trumpification” of the working class has been a long time coming — I’ve seen it developing my whole life.

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