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News: Atlas Hardware Upgrade complete October 13, 2013.

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1  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama to announce executive order on immigration on: November 22, 2014, 02:23:35 pm
Regardless of King's argument...I do think there's merit to a system of only having elections every four years, with House members having four year terms like the President and Senators having staggered eight year terms because constant elections lead to massive Congressional mood swings like they have 2006-present, but that's a discussion for another day.

Regarding this particular executive order, I don't really see how the President is encroaching on Congress' grounds. Congress has power over naturalization...Obama's executive order does not grant citizenship to anyone. Congress' control over the naturalization process is not in any way impinged on here. This is an executive who is shifting where the resources of law enforcement are focused and what law enforcement is going to prosecute, something presidents have always had wide latitude to do.
2  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: What will be the next Amendment? on: November 21, 2014, 09:28:40 pm
It'd be interesting if the GOP tried to revive the Flag Burning Amendment. With this overwhelmingly Republican a House, I wouldn't be surprised if it had its best chance ever.
3  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Best/worst videogame controller you've ever used? on: November 21, 2014, 12:31:03 am
You could make a case for the NES controller as one of the worst, in retrospect. There's a reason why no one else tried corners instead of ergonomic curves after it: it can become uncomfortable to hold after a while. The SNES controller was significantly better, albeit preserving the useless Select button that controllers would soon do away with forever.
4  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Gubernatorial/Statewide Elections / Re: Cannabis '14: The WA & CO Memorial Thread on: November 20, 2014, 03:25:42 pm
So...what states are going to have 2016 referenda? I know Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, and California are likely to go for it. I've heard that Arkansas (LOL), Michigan, and Arizona are other likely candidates for a 2016 referenda.
5  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Israeli politics general thread on: November 20, 2014, 03:19:32 pm
What would happen if Jewish Home and Likud tie in terms of the number of MKs they win?

Also, is Naftali Bennett for real or are his extremist plans a way to set up a negotiating position?  Annexing 70% of the West Bank and turning the completely-surrounded-by-Israel rump West Bank into a militarily-occupied Bantustan seems...bold.
6  General Discussion / History / Re: Chat with The Mikado about cool history topics that interest you on: November 20, 2014, 01:33:22 pm
At the time, how surprising was Italy's declining to enter the Great War before joining the Entente in 1915?

Sorry for the delay. I don't know country by country, but I do know that the British and French had a secret agreement with the Italians that they would stay out of the war, and that the Germans weren't aware of this (obviously). That the Italians and Austrians despised each other was, obviously, not secret to anyone, but I do think that Berlin was surprised by Italian neutrality in August 1914. So...I suppose the surprise depends on which side of the war you were on.

To Cranberry's question, there wasn't any serious consideration of breaking up the historical region of Bohemia to pull the Germans into Austria, as the creation of Czechoslovakia was at least as much about punishing Austria (on the Czech side) and Hungary (on the Slovak side) and about building a large, defensible country as it was about self-determination and nationalism. It's always hard to entertain counterfactuals like "what would happen if the German parts of Bohemia ended up in Austria," but it would no doubt have helped at least a bit with rump Austria's "why does our country exist" problem. Of course, a Czechoslovakia that was only predominantly Czech and Slovak areas would be quite a bit smaller and poorer, which gets into the below question.

I also have a question about Czechoslvakia; and Yugoslavia as well for that matter.

Were their break-ups inevitable? Did a significant demand exist from either of those "countries" to be created, or were they Frankensteins created by the powers that be?

Inevitable is a nasty word that I'll avoid for now. There was a major idea at the time that "petty" or "minor" nationalities would not make viable states on their own, and that federations of related peoples was a viable alternative. In the case of Yugoslavia, the Serbs saw themselves as the equivalent of Piedmont-Sardinia to Italy or Prussia to Germany, and that their kingdom could annex the rest of the South Slavs, who all spoke highly related languages. Outside of the awkwardness of annexing Allied Montenegro, it was all taking territory off of defeated Austria and Hungary (and a bit off of Bulgaria) that no one in the Entente particularly minded. Pre-WWII Yugoslavia was hugely Serbian-dominated, and post-WWII was a far more balanced entity (Tito was a Croat, after all) that was determined to suppress the ethnic differences as far as possible.

Czechoslovakia is an interesting case, as it took in the Czechs from the Austrian half of Austria-Hungary and the Slovaks from the Hungarian half, who had not previously been united under any sort of jurisdictional unity. The southern half of Slovakia was heavily Hungarian, the eastern part of Czechia was hugely German, and of course, Czechoslovakia before the war had the awkward Subcarpathian Rus territory in its far east as a kind of tail (now the western-most chunk of Ukraine) that was neither Czech nor Slovak. The Czechoslovakian government was firmly committed to its binational character and did not even attempt to come to terms with its German, Hungarian, and Rusyn minorities, and it surprised few that the nearly 20% German minority did eventually clamor for annexation with Germany in 1938. It proved very easy for Hitler to enforce his solution of annexing the Czech half (as Bohemia and Moravia), giving half of the Slovak half to Hungary, and set up the rump Slovakia as a puppet state. When Czechoslovakia was rebuilt after WWII, it lost the Subcarpathian Rus to the USSR and expelled its German minorities en masse, resulting in a far more truly binational Czechoslovakia (ignoring the Hungarians in Slovakia). The end of union between Czech Republic and Slovakia following the end of Communism was amicable and likely avoidable, but has proven to be something of a blessing for the Czech half, which was and remains considerably wealthier than the Slovak half.
7  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: What will be the next Amendment? on: November 19, 2014, 01:17:33 pm
I don't think we'll see another amendment for another decade or so, and I doubt the Dems will do what Ernest is suggesting and revive the Child Labor Amendment.

It'll likely be an issue that doesn't even really exist now.
8  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Will we see another copyright extension in 2018? on: November 19, 2014, 01:04:16 pm
I can't help but feel that the forces for copyright extension may have to compromise this time out, especially given the increasingly heavy hitters like Google that have a vested interest in not extending it that don't exactly have small pocketbooks. Google was in its infancy 1998, now they have the world's largest and most-viewed collection of public-domain literature, and own Youtube, which would benefit from having a large array of public-domain songs and movies to supplement its catalog.

I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of scenario where the idea of having to fill out paperwork to extend copyright rather than it happening automatically is brought back...it used to be the system anyway. It keeps Disney and those that actually make money off of their copyrighted materials happy while letting the stuff that everyone's forgotten enter the public domain.
9  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Hillary Clinton on: November 19, 2014, 01:19:57 am
She and her husband collectively embody all the worst and most cynical and destructive tendencies in American politics and it's a lasting shame that they have any public role at all. She'll also likely be the next president.
10  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Barack Obama on: November 19, 2014, 01:17:20 am
I'd continue to vote for him as long as he continued to run, but the 22nd Amendment, alas, exists, and we'll have to have either the Clinton Restoration or a Republican, neither prospects I find appealing at all.
11  General Discussion / History / Re: Who was the most intelligent President? on: November 18, 2014, 02:28:38 pm
Hoover's definitely a candidate for that list, maybe put in where FDR is.

Very surprised Lincoln's above JQA and Wilson, but Lincoln was certainly more successful than either. He just didn't have the same level of "book smarts" that these things usually mention to rank with the top dogs in this survey.

I suppose that's where the executive ability part comes in. Few people can match Lincoln in that category and it makes up for his weaknesses.
12  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: If marijuana is legal, what should be the minimum age for smoking it? on: November 18, 2014, 02:03:05 pm
Same as alcohol is a good rule. If a state wanted to give up its highway funds and move the drinking age back to 18, that would be on them, but I don't see the alcohol age changing anywhere anytime soon.
13  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Sweden Considering Sexism Labels For Video Games on: November 18, 2014, 02:00:43 pm
Current video game rating system is a joke. Adding another layer of it won't do any good.

The European rating system is amazingly simple and easy to grasp.  PEGI (insert year), where the year number is "that age and up." It makes a hell of a lot more sense than the North American system that the ESRB uses. Any person unfamiliar with the European system can see PEGI 12 and instantly grasp "12 and up" when seeing M doesn't really convey the same information.
14  General Politics / Political Debate / Will we see another copyright extension in 2018? on: November 18, 2014, 01:55:09 pm
As you no doubt know, in 1998, Congress passed a 20 year extension to copyright, extending the period it takes for a work to enter the public domain from 75 years to 95 years and freezing the public domain as things created before 1923. 95 years from 1923 is coming right up in 2018, and many classic works from the 1920s will become public domain over the next decade under the current law. George Gershwin's musical masterpiece "Rhapsody in Blue" was composed in 1924 and will be one of the first major works to be set free, which will no doubt be quite a relief to United Airlines, which has been paying royalties to the Gershwins for decades to use that piece in their ads. The Great Gatsby, written in 1925, will soon follow, lowering the costs high school students across the country pay when they buy books. Of course, Steamboat Willie, the first Disney cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse, came out in 1927, and therein lies the real problem.

To me, the biggest benefit of the public domain rolling on is all of the books and movies that no one cares about except specialists and preservationists that have been out of print for 50 years or more but languish in obscurity because no one can digitize or distribute them due to copyright that the holder probably doesn't even know exists. Think of the travel memoirs or the current events books or the memoirs of random obscure people that historians of the 1920s have to travel to specific libraries to access when they could easily be placed on Google Books and available to everyone free of charge anywhere in the world. Think of the obscure silent movies that could be placed on Youtube free of charge to improve everyone's cultural literacy on the history of cinema that currently sit unseen in vaults because of copyrights that no one makes any money off of. Were it just me, I'd happily take a situation where copyright ended up extended on the condition that someone actually apply for an extension every 20 years, to allow all the forgotten and unwanted stuff to enter the public domain and have a second chance to shine for the benefit of historians, sociologists, music and art scholars, and enthusiasts everywhere. A situation where Rhapsody in Blue stayed in the Gershwins' hands while obscure pieces of the same era that no one remembers became part of our shared cultural heritage would be a far better situation than everything remaining off limits.
15  General Politics / Book Reviews and Discussion / Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? on: November 18, 2014, 01:36:44 pm

Margaret MacMillan is meticulously detailed and a pleasure to read, as always. Paris 1919 was one of my favorite history books ever, and this one is...not quite up to that standard, but is damned solid.
16  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Abraham on Trial on: November 18, 2014, 01:34:54 pm
There's good reason the Akedah or Binding of Isaac is so famous and culturally relevant. It's harrowing and even horrifying. Spitzer, of course, has a point that a modern Abraham would be guilty of attempted murder. It's a powerful story because it continues to raise the question "how far would you take your religious commitment?" It directly confronts the reader and doesn't allow any dodging of the question.

It also, of course, sets up as its conclusion the absolute rejection of human sacrifice, a major theological innovation.
17  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Keystone Phil - turning into a vosem clone? on: November 15, 2014, 10:32:48 pm
The Republicans won, they have a right to gloat as much as they want for the next two years.
18  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: I want good old world back! on: November 15, 2014, 10:31:20 pm
You really love exclamation points! Perhaps to the point of overusing them! If you're using more than one exclam per hundred sentences you're probably overdoing it!
19  General Discussion / History / Re: Opinion of the Diggers on: November 14, 2014, 11:13:17 pm
The Diggers were a pretty hilarious band of misfits with some admitted charm.
20  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: LDS Church acknowledges Joseph Smith's polygamy for the first time on: November 14, 2014, 03:30:23 pm
Man makes up a religion. As part of that he gets to legitimise being a sexual predator by gifting himself a harem.
And yet despite that, the fact is that as a group Mormons are probably some of the nicest people one can meet, so long as you don't meet any of those that still practice polygamy.
Being nice is a poor substitute for condemning sexual predators.
So are you planning on joining the same church as Chris Hansen?
I have no intentions of joining any religious group, but if I were, I certainly would avoid any of them that shamelessly shun gay people while simultaneous celebrating monstrous sexual practices. Do you condone an adult man marrying multiple teenaged girls?
No I don't condone such things, but neither does the CoJC&LDS today.  They haven't done that for over a century.  Luther was anti-Semetic, does that mean Lutheranism today is horrible?  I'll leave the past to the past and judge a church, or any other organization, by what it does today.  Now, it's treatment of gays is a valid concern as that is still part of the Mormon church today, tho when it comes to such matters it hardly is the most extreme of the denominations that still hold a traditional view of homosexuality.
So you view a church as merely an organization and its founder not as a bearer of eternal truth? Doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of belonging to a religion?

The Mormons don't hold Joseph Smith as the holder of eternal truth, either.  They're a continuing revelation religion.  Not everything is Protestantism and it's sola scriptura commitment to one truth, don't just lump religions together.
21  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama saves net neutrality, orders broadband be classified as vital service on: November 13, 2014, 05:07:46 pm
Perhaps the main reason why net neutrality is so important is that in many areas one ISP has a monopoly. So if they start throttling in ways you don't like, you can't just switch to a non-throttling competitor. Assuming there even is one, even most places without monopolies don't have many options, even in Minneapolis there's only two in the whole city: Comcast and CenturyLink. You can get USI Wireless in some areas as well but if you live literally a block away from a coverage area you can't. Also in rural areas you might have only one option for high speed internet, you could switch, but to slower and unreliable depending on the weather satellite internet.

That's why the standard libertarian excuse of "RAR RAR FREE MARKET!" doesn't work in this case, because internet access simply ISN'T a free market in many areas.

BRTD is, of course, right on the money here.  Getting rid of net neutrality doesn't mean "if your ISP is screwing with you, ditch them," because the ISPs are actually collaborating to not compete and carve out their own zones of exclusive influence.  It's closer to a cartel than a competitive industry, and as a result there is no way for consumers to punish bad corporate actors.
22  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Israeli politics general thread on: November 13, 2014, 03:53:29 pm
What kind of coalition could emerge from those poll numbers?

Likud + Jewish Home + Yisrael Beitenu + Kachlon's people = 54.  IIRC Shas and Jewish Home do not play well together, and Yesh Atid is a very poor fit for a coalition with Jewish Home.  Does Netanyahu invite in Labor?
23  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: DCCC hoping for several rematches in 2016 on: November 13, 2014, 03:08:08 pm
I have a feeling TX-23 is going to flip every two years.
24  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: The 4 Least Significant Presidents of the 20th Century on: November 13, 2014, 03:05:47 am
I think McKinley was more notable than Bush Sr. or Carter.

McKinley was plenty notable, but the 21st century started on January 1st, 1901 and McKinley left office (after a fashion) on September 24th, 1901.  None of McKinley's major accomplishments were in that 9 month period.
25  General Discussion / History / Re: Opinion of Queen Mary I of England on: November 12, 2014, 12:43:04 pm
It's interesting how few people point out that she was married to the King of Spain and that, had they had kids, the two kingdoms would be in union for a time.  A pretty huge risk to national sovereignty...of course, Elizabeth ended up letting the throne be inherited by the King of Scotland, so her sister doesn't do much better on that front.
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