Print Story The Company of Wolves
By TheophileEscargot (Sun Dec 11, 2016 at 02:42:05 AM EST) Reading, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "The Corporation that Changed the World". Me. Links.

What I'm Reading
The Corporation that Changed the World by Nick Robins. A useful history of the East Indian Company, thankfully not a massive doorstopper but long enough to handle the essentials. Does a good job of putting things into context, comparing the company with its equivalents elsewhere in Europe and in the UK. Highlights the differences as well as the similarities with modern corporations.

Also serves as a good counterbalance to the revisionism of people like Niall Ferguson, going into some detail on the oppressive regime, and also the protectionism of the setup. At the start of companys operation Bengal was an advanced "workshop of the world", producing high quality textiles and decent pay for its weavers. "John Company" created a monopoly, systematically drove down the prices it paid and impoverished the Bengali weavers. Meanwhile British weavers were shielded behind high tariff barriers until automation gave them a competitive advantage.

As the authority of the Mughal emperors declined after weak emperors and infighting, the Company took over the state, and the extractive tax revenues it raised began to dwarf the profits from actual trade. Funnelling a share of that money to the British government meant the company kept its monopoly. The company was gradually incorporated into the British state, the Indian Mutiny accelerating the change.

One detail I didn't know was that it was Edmund Burke who opposed the company and attempted to champion the Indian cause. Meanwhile liberals like John Stuart Mill defended the company as somehow progressive. Burke attempted to prosecute the chief executive Warren Hastings in the House of Lords:

I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose laws, rights and liberties he has subverted; whose properties he has destroyed; whose country he has laid waste and desolate.

I impeach him in the name and by virtue of those eternal laws of justice which he has violated.

I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured and oppressed, in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life..

Also points out that even at the time the Company was severely criticised for its exploitation and abuses, it's not just a modern interpretation.

Overall, no great revelations but a solid and worthwhile history.

Toddler was OK for a while, but is again having problems going to sleep. Really stresses me out on days when I don't have any time to myself, am just working/doing chores/doing childcare literally all day.

Took him out to a little local funfair, organised by the Freemasons oddly enough. He loved it. Went into Santa's grotto, was very shy but happy with his present.

After next Friday I'm off for Christmas. Really hoping the toddler starts sleeping, not sure I can handle all day childcare for weeks.

Work still a bit stressful as they keep raising bugs in the current release, alongside the two jobs I'm actually supposed to be doing. Annoying that I have to keep fixing stuff that's nothing to do with me.

Socioeconomics. British wages since crisis in longest slump since the 1860s . Stop calling me a 'loser' and start doing something instead.

Politics. Muslims not really trying to ban Peppa Pig. The Secret Prison Corruption Epidemic. Leavers should welcome Brussels's offer of opt-in EU citizenship for Brits. Problems with Vox. On Winning:

Twenty-first century Americans inured to wars that never end have long since forgotten that bringing such conflicts to a prompt and successful conclusion once defined the very essence of what generals were expected to do.
Video. Thomas and Friend Great Discovery Rap. Do Nothing Machine. Thirty years since Cameo's Word Up! via.

Articles. Holiday Survival Guide for those with small kids.

Sci/Tech. Computer skill levels. What GitHub did to kill its trolls.

Random. Christmas monsters.

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The Company of Wolves | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)
I'm actually vaguely surprised... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Dec 12, 2016 at 10:43:26 AM EST
to find that Burke was a decent man, given all the ends his philosophy has been turned to.

I guess we can draw a straight line from the propaganda about the East India company to someone like Dan Hannan and his rather optimistic assumptions about how Britain will fare as a buccaneering free-trade nation.

Computer skill levels by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon Dec 12, 2016 at 10:54:41 AM EST
Fascinated by how say in the UK only 7% are at the top user level.

Not sure (given that this is not about programming) what it implies, it sort of implies that these skills aren't as important as we may think. Or at least, society doesn't value them...

Draw a graph by wumpus (4.00 / 2) #3 Mon Dec 12, 2016 at 03:01:50 PM EST
of the people who could repair a car after [unknown] failure to start. It would be nearly 100% with the model-T*, start to fall in the 1950s, and hit below 7% by 2000.

Computers tend to be a bit more reliable (only engineering failures, not mechanical or manufacturing). So I suspect things will largely go down (I'm guessing it will stay at whatever level current 20-year-olds are). Old farts learned because they needed such skills to do what they wanted. The next generation will only have them if they want to learn them. Can you build a computer with a soldering iron?


* Oddly enough I watched James May's "Peoples' Car" series and can't think of the appropriate UK car.

[ Parent ]
Model-T equivalent by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Dec 12, 2016 at 05:32:54 PM EST
at the precise historical time of the Model T was probably just the Model T assembled in Manchester, England.

(The various English cars of the time were just more expensive.)

[ Parent ]
Yeah, it'd be the Austin 7 in Britain by ambrosen (4.00 / 2) #5 Tue Dec 13, 2016 at 11:21:48 AM EST
It started production 14 years later, but that's just how much poorer Britain was. That and a more entrenched pattern of human settlement.

[ Parent ]
So that's the sociological Model T equivalent by ambrosen (4.00 / 2) #6 Tue Dec 13, 2016 at 11:30:07 AM EST
In terms of what computers can do, the motor equivalent would be my dad's story of his family trips down to his grandparents in the late 40s, early 50s. There was a legendary hill just south of Hereford where they had to stop their Ford Popular at the top to cool down. I was driving that way a few years ago and recognised the name of the hill. I thought "oh, I wonder where the hill is", as I slightly adjusted the angle of my ankle to keep my speed at 60mph.

[ Parent ]
My mom... by ana (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Dec 13, 2016 at 11:42:25 AM EST
was the youngest of 3 girls, and as the youngest, her job on family trips was to sit in the middle of the front seat and do two things: operate the (manual) windshield wiper (there was only the one), and watch for white chickens beside the road (because they would invariably try to run across the road in front of the car).

Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

[ Parent ]
ye gads! by wumpus (4.00 / 5) #8 Tue Dec 13, 2016 at 08:32:23 PM EST
and all this time I never guessed the answer was "to get hit by a car".


er, why did the chicken...

[ Parent ]
The Company of Wolves | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)