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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 12:58:48 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Watching, Me (all tags)
Reading: "On Tyranny", "Dunkirk". Watching. Me. Links.


What I'm Reading
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. Short book by historian Timothy Snyder, the author of "Bloodlands" about the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin, about the lessons that can be learned from history about resisting tyrants.

Somewhat interesting. Makes some good points about trying to protect institutions and professional standards. Also good to see someone actually paying attention to the rise of Blackshirt-like paramiltaries.

However, it would have been good to see a wider historical focus. Snyder concentrates very much on his own field of Germany/Eastern Europe/Russia in the 20th century, which apart from the rise of Solidarity in Poland doesn't offer much that actual success in resisting tyranny. s.

Minor example: Lesson 5 is "Be wary of paramilitaries". In the UK for example, Mosley's blackshirts were banned from marching in uniform, which my father always said was what finished them: in their shabby normal clothes they suddenly looked pathetic rather than menacing. We could really do with more specific advice than "be wary".

Snyder also shares some of the usual centrist blindness to the causes of dissatisfaction:

"Both fascism and communism were responses to globalization: to the real and perceived inequalities it created, and the apparent helplessness of the democracies in addressing them. Fascists... put a face on globalization, arguing that its complex challenges were the result of a conspiracy against the nation.
Hyperinflation, the Great Depression and the Versailles treaty were critical to the rise of the Nazis. The colossal bloodbath of the First World War and the oppressions of Czarist rule were critical to the rise of the Bolsheviks. If our own era leads to something similar, future historians will look back to post-credit-crunch economic stagnation, the housing crisis, inequality and precarity as the causes.

A serious attempt to protect us from tyranny would involve a serious and systematic programme to resolve the problems that fascism feeds off. Snyder doesn't consider anything like that as a potential solution. He also doesn't talk about the creation of anti-fascist and anti-racist organisations like Searchlight or Unite Against Fascism.

As such, while there's some interesting content, the book has a frustratingly narrow focus. We really could really do with positive examples of how tyranny was succesfully resisted; examples from Latin America, Asia and Africa. We could do with discussions of how people are resisting it today as well as how they failed 80 to 100 years ago.

What I'm Reading 2
Dunkirk: A Miracle of Deliverance by David Boyle. Short book about the Dunkirk evacuation. Crisp and informative. Doesn't sugarcoat things, for instance the simmering conflict between British and French troops which on one occasion had a British warship firing by mistake on French artillery, and the French responding with their own fire.

Also briefly mentions that the decision by the commander on the spot to retreat to Dunkirk meant a planned, combined counter-attack could not take place. That raises the possibilty that the war could have been kept going in France. However the casualties and losses of ships and planes were greater than I'd realised, would have been difficult to keep it going.

Overall, a good book, crisp and informative, but nothing particulary new.

What I'm Watching
Saw The Last Jedi at the cinema. Liked it a lot: fast paced, large scale, good balance of humour and drama. It was very frenetic, I wouldn't have minded it slowing down a bit. Compared with The Force Awakens the plotting was a lot better, didn't just follow the most obvious and well-worn grooves. It also seems to have stuck more in my mind, TFA was enjoyable but I didn't think that much about it afterwards. Well worth seeing.

What I'm Watching 2
Saw Mindhorn at home, comedy about a washed-up actor who used to star in a TV detective show who has to assist police when a lunatic wants to speak to the character. Not bad but relies heavily on the humour of embarassment, and is very like a lot of other humour about washed-up celebrites such as Alan Partidge. Diverting but nothing that special.

Me
I agreed to go to Germany to spend the holidays with my wife's mother. Was hoping for snow but the weather forecast just looks grim and rainy like here. With weather like that it's going to be pretty hard going: the house isn't very child safe and we'll be stuck in the middle of nowhere with transport difficult and not much entertainment. I'm taking some presents but we'll have to leave the bigger things till we get home.

Links
Saving capitalists from themselves. Why the myth of a perfect meritocracy is so pernicious:

If you're a top earner, you can always buy what you need. The question is can you buy what you want? Can you buy that penthouse apartment with a view of Central Park or whatever it is? To get those things, it's purely an auction process. Other rich people also want these things, and the high bidders end up with them. But if everyone's taxes increase in the same way, what we bring to the bidding process is left completely unaffected in relative terms.

So rich people could pay more taxes and scarcely feel it, but nobody thinks about it that way.

Ted Chiang on runaway AI: Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear. Can psychedelics make you a better person? Related: Is Ayahuasca an Antidote to Modern Life? A plan to rescue the Web from the Internet. Orwell on Dickens Sir Morien: Not All the Knights of the Round Table Were White. Coconuts in medieval Europe.

Politics. The only way to fix Universal Credit is to scrap it altogether . Norway decriminalises drugs. Political Sextant, my results.

Random. The word "titch" comes from a small music hall performer.

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Yeah, that's pretty much nowhere | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
The Last Jedi by wiredog (4.00 / 4) #1 Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 07:00:56 AM EST
I liked the movie, but don't disagree with this review, either.

The in-universe timing seems off. Rey spends, what, a few days to a few weeks with Luke, but the rest of the movie takes place over a couple of days? Empire Strikes Back had that problem, too. But the Rey/Ren team-up in Snoke's throne room was awesome.

Carrie Fisher dying after the film wrapped threw a huge wrench into the works. I think that if they had re-edited it to have that (her being blown out of the bridge) be Leia's death, and reshot a few scenes after to eliminate Leia, they might have somewhat fixed the problem. But maybe the logistics weren't there to bring Laura Dern in. I'm pretty sure that Leia was going to be a very central figure in Episode IX, and what are they going to do now is a major problem for them.

That little bit with Maz Kanata ("union troubles") makes me really want a standalone movie built around her.

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

Yeah. by Metatone (4.00 / 2) #3 Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 08:54:23 AM EST
A bunch of those things in the review nagged at me too.

Overall, there was enough stuff for 2 movies in there and I'd rather they'd broken canon by realising it and deciding to do 4 movies than trying to rush through stuff.


[ Parent ]
I agree completely by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #9 Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 07:17:41 PM EST
It felt very long and at the same time very busy.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Carrie Fisher by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #7 Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 06:39:25 PM EST
I was wondering why she didn't do the suicide mission instead of Laura Dern, as did many others. Then it dawned on me after - why would Disney and JJ Abrams care if she's dead? We'll get 45 minutes of screentime with CGI leia in episode 9.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
They claim no by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #8 Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 07:15:37 PM EST
The claim is that they will use neither CGI nor old footage in Episode IX.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
My theory by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #10 Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 07:20:02 PM EST
I suspect the original plan was to kill off all the old guard in this trilogy, Han in Episode XII, Luke in episode XII and Leia in episode IX
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Last Jedi - less than impressed by anonimouse (4.00 / 3) #2 Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 08:39:51 AM EST
CurvyGirl is not really a fan of Sci-Fi/ Space Opera, but The Force Awakens was in her opinion an enjoyable movie which persuaded her to watch The Last Jedi with me and come to regret wasting 2 1/2 hours.

I think my main complaint about the movie is I think it was trying too hard to line up merchandise and please younger audience members.

What really is the point of Luke projecting himself across halt the universe and dying of the effort instead of simply boarding a ship and pulling the same stunt locally for much less effort?

And Princess Leia doing a Julie Andrews flying nanny? WTF

Actually i went and watched The Force Awakens on Netflix after and decided I enjoyed it far more.

Also next time I'm a Sith Lord and want my apprentice to kill another Jedi, I'm making sure that it happens well away from my throne room. It doesn't seem to end well.




Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
Jesus fucking christ by hulver (4.00 / 3) #5 Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 10:51:07 AM EST
The bloody spoiler tag exists for a reason you dozy cunt hammer.

I've been avoiding spoilers until I get the see the bloody film and then you go and post a list of them here.
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Cheese is not a hat. - clock

[ Parent ]
Next time by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #6 Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 01:08:48 PM EST
 Stop reading if you're getting Too Much Info



Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
Sextant: looks like my hero is Kemal Ataturk by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #4 Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 10:03:53 AM EST
Results

With a little Fascism and Compassionate Conservatism thrown in with Social Democracy and supporting Tony Blair?!?!

 

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
Yeah, that's pretty much nowhere | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback