I ought to post diaries more often. Was going to post a "things are finally going well at work" diary the other day, which would have set up some dramatic irony for today's "another round of layoffs" diary, but missed the chance.
I'm not in the "at risk" group, but people I know and like are. Seems to be a stupid and semi-random selection. 2 people out of 3 in the "at risk" group have to go. That group includes both our ASP.NET guys, and one of the two people who specialise in the highly unusual language we rely on. The "at risk" group does not include the guy who joined a few weeks ago, and while a nice guy who seems competent, doesn't know anything about our complicated, idiosyncratic, specialized and completely undocumented systems.
I ought to start looking for a less barmy company to work for I suppose. Feeling pretty apathetic about it though. Also I have a cunning plan for a new system I'd like to build: might see if I get the chance.
Very slow progress. Couldn't face "Globalisation and Its Discontents" so soon after all. Instead going through Tim Powers' latest novel: Three Days to Never. Set in 1987 so far: Mossad and a secret society are competing using magic, demons and remote viewing, trying to get their hands on an artifact and a psychic 12-year-old.
Pretty good, well done, but somehow not as involving as it should be. Maybe I'm in the wrong mood, or just too familiar with this kind of thing.
Audiolecture-wise, only 13 lectures into the history series "Europe and Western Civilization in the Modern Age". The lecture style is more academic and less entertaining than some in the series: he sticks to overviews and the big picture, without going into the cool little details, digressions and personalities. Still veryinformative though.
I think it's crystallizing why I disagree with cam so much over the efficacy of constitutions. Going through history this way gives a very clear sense of the way the cycles of revolution and restoration work. In England we had the Civil War leading to the execution of the King and the Commonwealth: not democratic but certainly republican; the Restoration of the monarchy, then the Glorious Revolution limiting the powers of the monarchy.
In France there were similar cycles. The French Revolution produced first a constitutional monarchy, then an extreme republic with universal suffrage, then Napoleon who still held mass elections, then a restoration of the monarchy with a limited Charter/constitution, then the Second and Third republics, and so on.
Cam I think is trying to generalize from the American Revolution, where there was a single revolution leading to a stable long-term state. As such, he tends to think in terms of a single constitution establishing a permanent settlement. However, when you've gone through the long series of revolutions, counter-revolutions and restorations from the rest of the world, you can't see a constitution as being a particularly powerful document.
In particular, the trouble with a constitution is that if it doesn't reflect the actual balance of power within in a society it will tend to just be overthrown in the next cycle.
The US was a special case. Firstly it was a regional superpower from the start, with oceans and vast distances protecting it from other great powers: very hard to invade even when weak. Secondly, it had abundant land and natural resources, so there was little cause for internal conflict. You didn't have the peasantry, rural aristocracy and the Church all hungrily eyeing each others land. Thirdly, there weren't the heavily entrenched interest groups of aristocracy, bureaucracy and guilds and so on, all trying to get more control over the state.
All those factors led to the situation of a single revolution, creating a single constitution, with no subsequent restorations, military takeovers and counter-revolutions.
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