Print Story Glide by the people as they start to look and stare
By TheophileEscargot (Sat Dec 03, 2016 at 03:10:04 AM EST) Reading, Watching, Me, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Good Cop, Bad War", "The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August". Watching. Me. Links.

What I'm Reading
Good Cop, Bad War by Neil Woods, JS Rafaeli. Was prompted to read the book after reading this article. Neil Woods is a former undercover policeman who specialized in playing junkies in order to track down drug dealers. When he started around the start of the Nineties, he found it relatively easy and felt he was helping put away violent criminals.

As time passed and he moved around the country to places where his face wasn't known, he noticed the drug dealers adopting more countermeasures. They were more violent, more paranoid, and started using user-dealers as human shields: only making deals via them, and disposing of them with deliberate lethal overdoses when suspicious.

In this more paranoid world the only way he could make connections was by taking advantage of the more kindly of the junkies in an area, who were then put away for as long as the violent criminals he despised. At the same time his superiors pushed for more results, putting him at risk as he had to behave unrealistically, for instance making new deals when still supposed to be high from the last one.

Eventually he decided that this arms race wasn't just ineffective but actively harmful. He quit the force and became active in the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition movement.

Interesting book, with fascinating tales of life undercover.

What I'm Reading 2
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Another excellent bit of high-concept SF from Claire North. A handful of people, the ouroborans, live their lives over and over: as young children they recover the full memories of their previous life and can live again making different decisions.

The Cronus Club is a group of such people. After finding that attempts to change history have disastrous consequences, they ban major alterations to history.

It's classic SF in the way it carefully follows through the implications of its premise. Battles between ouroborans are like Cold War spying operations: you need to trace the "point of origin" of your opponent so you can take him out at birth or in the womb, while concealing your own point of origin from him.

The book feels like a bit of a cross between a time travel novel and a spy thriller. Unlike the last book of hers I read though, Touch, the pace does slacken at time and it becomes a bit more psychological.

Overall, I found it gripping and fascinating. Well worth reading.

What I'm Watching
Saw X-Men: Apocalypse. The retro series moves into the Eighties: this time there are Pac-Man machines and Ronald Reagan clips in the background as a mutant supervillain tries to take over the world, some teens struggle with angst, and Magneto and Mystique dither over whether to be villains or not.

Has a few nice touches like a super-speed rescue scene. But the final battle goes on far too long.

It's hard to keep interest in a long-term franchise going, but there are ways to do it: introduce new characters, have a long-term plotlines emerge, focus on smaller stories. This film doesn't do those: we've seen the same plot and characters before.

Also taking the series as a future history tends to undermine the basic concepts of the X-Men. It's partly about teenagers growing up, partly an allegory of civil rights struggle. Teen angst if you're reminded the characters have been around for decades. When you're reminded that every ten years or so mutant supervillains cause immense destruction and loss of life trying to take over the world, official hostility to mutants doesn't seem that unreasonable.

Mildly entertaining but you can easily miss it.

Pressures at work have thankfully eased off a bit. New team are fairly well up to speed, and with the other developer back at work I'm not as constantly slammed. New release is in testing: nothing came back in the last few days, though we'll probably have a few urgent fixes as the bugs come in.

Toddler had his third birthday recently, enjoyed it a lot. Though he did keep plaintively saying "It's my birthday!" for the next two days afterwards. Told him he gets another one in a year and fortunately he doesn't yet realise how long a year is.

Also had to take him to a hospital checkup which was a bit of a struggle as we were three hours in a waiting room waiting for various specialists. No problems reported though. Sat next to a little girl with a really horrific, huge, facial disfigurement, felt so sorry though she seemed happy enough. Had to work hard to try to act natural as I didn't want the toddler to pick up on it.

Socioeconomics. Can Uber Deliver? Parts 1 2 3.

UK Politics. Is HMRC engaged in a policy of victimisation for the sake of achieving meaningless performance targets? The divided remains of Remain. Blair discovers centre ground is now a smouldering hole. Progressive Alliance? How May's government differs from Cameron's.

Overseas politics. Liberal anti-politics Overcoming elite feminism. Learning From Trump in Retrospect. The European elite have developed a death wish.

Random. Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch discovered?

Pics. Computing Division, 1924 Japanese love hotels. Lonely cars in 1970s New York.

Local. 15 Ways To Improve London's Train Network.

Articles. The druggy dinner parties that started anaesthesia.

< that time of year again | My 10 year old TV died >
Glide by the people as they start to look and stare | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Learning from Trump in retrospect by lm (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Dec 03, 2016 at 08:52:30 AM EST
  1. Trump lied about jobs
  2. Trump lied about income inequality
  3. Trump lied about policy
  4. Trump lied about trade
  5. Trump lied about poverty
So if we learn from Trump, the lesson would be "tell the people what they want to hear regardless of the truth of the matter or your actual position"

I'm especially disturbed by the suggestion that Obama should have stopped negotiations on a treaty he thought was good policy because it was hurting Clinton's campaign.

There are some salient facts about this past election.
(1) Clinton won the popular vote by a significant margin.
(2) Clinton lost the electoral college by a very slim margin in a number of states.
(3) Each of a very large number of factors can explain (2).

(3) is probably the most understated point here. This US election cycle was filled with a large number of events and causes that in and of themselves could have swayed that razor thing margin I mentioned in (2). These range from voter ID laws to Comey's letter to Congress 12 days before the election to Ed Rendell's observation of misogyny at work (no woman won statewide office in Pennsylvania this year while several Democratic men did) to Clinton's position on free trade and more.

It seems to me that the most important takeaway for Democrats should be to get those blue and swing states that haven't yet joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to do so. This is the second time in less than 20 years that the Democrats have won the popular vote but lost the electoral college. The compact is a mechanism whereby individual states write into law that their electoral votes will go to the winner of the national popular vote once a sufficient number of states write the compact into law. Right now ten states and the District of Columbia have joined the compact. They're currently 105 electoral votes short of meeting the requisite number.

The second takeaway should be resumption of Howard Dean's 50 state strategy. The GOP has an institutional advantage because their party heavily supports state and local candidates. This is why they control statehouses and state legislatures far past their level of popular support. Once Howard Dean stepped down from the DNC chair, his successors ignored his "more Democrats, better Democrats" across the board strategy.

The third takeaway should be primary reform. Less than 17% of registered voters voted in any primary (or caucus). The end result is that we had two viable candidates that almost no one wanted to see in office.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Yeah, don't learn from Trump by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Dec 03, 2016 at 09:22:10 AM EST
But it sure makes a lot of sense to learn how to deal with Trumps. And shutting down liars and giving them short shrift is always going to be incredibly important.

The Trump campaign kept baiting the Clinton campaign to attempt to argue the facts. And they fell for it because, well, they had the facts all in their favour, right? But then Trump Gish Galloped them, and they came out looking fuzzy.

And even though Clinton supporters knew they were right, they ended up feeling exhausted from the fight and I think this as much as anything else depressed turnout.

[ Parent ]
It's a hard thing to do by lm (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Dec 03, 2016 at 03:02:12 PM EST
In world where Jimmy Carter listing off real facts can be silenced with Ronald Reagan's "there you go again" and lose the debate and the election, the question of just how to handle a guy like Trump is pretty wide open.

You can't sound condescending.

You can't sound like an expert.

You can't give an answer that can be ignored with "that's just you're opinion man" or changing the subject or "wrong!".

It takes the ability to develop a strong narrative to define the Trump in a bad light.

That's not an easy skill to learn.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
There's also the problem of the press by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Dec 03, 2016 at 03:27:04 PM EST
Why cover actual issues and policies concerning actual voters, when you can cover e-mail "controversies"?

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
There are a lot of press problems right now by lm (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Dec 03, 2016 at 03:36:24 PM EST
The 50s through the 80s was something of a golden era in news organizations in the US.

Nowadays the most important aspect is selling eyeballs to advertisers. Only not-for-profit outlets like Pro Publica are exempt.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Fifty State Strategy by jimgon (4.00 / 2) #6 Sat Dec 03, 2016 at 06:31:53 PM EST
That's it right there.  If Democrats aren't going to pay attention to the local level, then the local level is going to be lost.  They need to engage in retail politics and so far they've been too interested in the wholesale end of things.  Those fancy spreadsheets will certainly give you great insights into the demographics of areas, but those demographics represent people and people like to be recognized as people and not just demographics on a spreadsheet.  The Democrats need to figure that out again.  And this was obvious fifteen years ago when the Republicans announced they were going after the state legislatures so that they could control the redistricting after the 2010 census.   

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
It takes a village of Harry Augusts by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Dec 04, 2016 at 06:28:31 AM EST
 ... to raise a Randolph Carter.

Iambic Web Certified

Glide by the people as they start to look and stare | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback