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Real Name SMA   
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Nickname Scottish Martial Arts
Email Concealed by request
ICQ None given.
Homepage http://
Signed On Jun 16, 2002, 23:16
Total Comments 3219 (Veteran)
User ID 13410
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News Comments > Morning Metaverse
16. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 7, 2016, 23:27 Scottish Martial Arts
Creston wrote on Oct 7, 2016, 20:59:

Just an FYI, I wasn't so much responding to your comment per se, as I was using your comment as a jumping off point for a rant.

At any rate, I agree that campaign contributions and the money in politics are a major distorting influence, although I wouldn't even rate it as the most distorting. For that, I'd go with geographic polarization amplified by gerrymandering, and secondarily the fact that we're expecting too much out of partisan identities. By the latter, I mean that each party is no longer a party, but a distinct tribe. By inserting tribal identity into partisan politics, we create a world in which nearly compromise is capitulation, the opposition passing a bill is an apocalyptic calamity, and an opposition leader is an illegitimate villain, all because politics is no longer a matter of deliberation and sharing, but a matter of core identity. You can't compromise, or even communicate, with someone who believes you're a threat to their way of life and sense of self.

Getting back to money in politics, this is something which political science has studied quite a bit and the dominant consensus is that money doesn't buy direct influence, instead it buys access. That seems like a distinction without a difference but it's significant: while there are famous exceptions, true quid pro quo vote buying is extremely rare. In contrast, what campaign contributions do is cause the donor class, and their political issues, to occupy a disproportionate amount of a politician's face time with his or her constituency. To be clear that's deeply corrosive -- if you mostly just hang out with rich people, you tend not to understand the problems faced by middle class and poor people as well -- but knowing the wealthy's issues de jour better, and perhaps being more sympathetic to them as a result, is a lot different than cashing your check and switching your vote.

Likewise, I'd say that Tammany Hall style-corruption is at least an order of magnitude worse than campaign contributions, if note more. In the former case, you had power brokers directly lining their pockets by skimming off public works, extorting contractors, etc. Stuff like burning down a new building on the eve of its completion so a new one, with all of the opportunities for skimming, used to be very common in American politics, particularly at the local level.

Finally, if the current system is irredeemable, how exactly do we go about transitioning to another? That's a hard problem that humans are very bad at solving. As I alluded in the previous post, it usually involves a war or two (or a century of war if you're ancient Rome) and decades of a system that's much worse before it gets any better, if it gets better at all. See the aforementioned ancient Rome, see revolutionary France, see 20th century China, see present day Syria. If tearing down the system were to occur in the next year or two, essentially the remainder of our lives would be spent struggling through the consequences. I don't particularly want that, and I doubt anyone else does either. Better to work within the system we have and fix its problems.
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News Comments > Morning Metaverse
11. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 7, 2016, 18:00 Scottish Martial Arts
Creston wrote on Oct 7, 2016, 11:43:
The United States government has been working to end the Constitution because it has been bought by corporations

Well, they're not wrong...

Not wrong that US politics at the national level is deeply dysfunctional, but their diagnosis of both the symptoms and the causes of that dysfunction is idiotic, and proposing revolution as a solution imbecilic. Tearing down the system is the easy part -- humans are pretty good at that -- replacing it with something better is the hard part, a part which frequently ends in guillotines and Caesars.

Our government has been presented with a series of distorting incentives, in which rational elected officials will rationally choose to act in ways which serve short term interests (not all of which are self-serving) but which over the long term drive the federal government towards dysfunction. If we remove those distorting incentives, then overtime we gradually restore functionality at the federal level (the state and local level is doing just fine in most jurisdictions).

The absurdity of claiming "corruption" as motivation for revolution is that by measurable standards, the government is orders of magnitude less corrupt than it was a century ago. Think Tammany Hall as compared with Freedom of Information Requests. We face problems, but they are fixable, so long as public cynicism hasn't grown so large that no one wants to fix them anymore. And the fact that Trump has done as well as he has, even if he is more likely than not to lose, makes me worry that we're less interested in fixing our problems and more interested in lashing out in self-destructive ways.

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News Comments > Morning Metaverse
2. Re: Morning Metaverse Oct 3, 2016, 13:00 Scottish Martial Arts
Cutter wrote on Oct 3, 2016, 11:53:
I'll never understand why people use Craigslist or how it got as big as it did, it's such a shitty service.

It seems like there are a lot of modern conveniences you don't understand or see a use for.
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
10. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 1, 2016, 20:24 Scottish Martial Arts
MacLeod wrote on Oct 1, 2016, 19:15:
Meh. Place is an overpriced tourist trap.

True. But I have memories of deliciousness which will now never be replicated.
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
8. Re: Morning Mobilization Oct 1, 2016, 18:32 Scottish Martial Arts
I was really bummed to hear that the Carnegie Deli is closing. I'm moving to NYC for a new job in March of next year, by which time the deli will be closed, and that means I'll have only ever been able to go once. Oh well.  
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News Comments > Out of the Blue
12. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 29, 2016, 21:23 Scottish Martial Arts
Here's a drinking game for you guys: go to a mainstream news site, then go to the comments section for any story they're running on the ICANN transition this weekend. Drink every time you facepalm.  
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News Comments > Sunday Metaverse
48. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 26, 2016, 15:33 Scottish Martial Arts
Verno wrote on Sep 26, 2016, 14:49:
Perhaps choosing a third party is the lesser of "two" evils for some voters, I don't make assumptions about peoples reasons.

Fair enough. Certainly, my argument makes some implicit assumptions about what people want from the present election. That said, I do suspect that many voters are not realistic about what they can reasonably hope to achieve through democratic politics and consequently make voting decisions that ensure they get even less than they're already getting.
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News Comments > Sunday Metaverse
44. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 26, 2016, 14:10 Scottish Martial Arts
Verno wrote on Sep 26, 2016, 13:23:
Most of the time when I hear that argument it seems to be from people who just want you to lean towards their candidate of choice.

Perhaps, but I would argue that most 3rd-party supporters don't understand that democracy is a process -- not an outcome -- that is geared towards producing the watered-down stability of compromise over the dramatic change of decisive action. In a system where everyone has a (relatively) equal say, no one can get everything they want, all of the time, unless by some miracle the overwhelming majority of the voting public agrees on something and is organized in support of it. Instead, democracy provides a process to mediate political disagreements, so that everyone, ideally, gets a small piece of what they want and can at least put up with the rest. The question everyone has to ask themselves when in the voting booth is not "Does this candidate support everything I've ever wanted?" but "Does this candidate have a realistic shot of making some degree of progress on a few of the issues I care about most without dragging me too far back on others?" Note the qualifications and warrants in the latter question: democracy is a process that creates complex compromise, not decisive simplicity.

Choosing between the lesser of two evils is not indicative of a broken system: it's indicative of the democratic system in a big, diverse country working (mostly) as intended. A candidate that gave you everything you wanted, would offer too little to everyone else, and everyone else matters just as much as you. If that compromised choice between far less than ideal candidates is too unappealing, by all means vote your conscious, but don't be surprised that by walking away from an offer to get some of what you want, you end up getting nothing.
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News Comments > Sunday Metaverse
30. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 26, 2016, 00:01 Scottish Martial Arts
Zanthar wrote on Sep 25, 2016, 21:14:
I hope Hillary has a seizure on stage. Foaming at the mouth, shitting and pissing her pants suit, eyes going all wacky. Now that would be entertainment.

Well in the pursuit of even-handedness, I suppose that would balance out the walking national embarrassment across the stage from her.
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News Comments > Oculus Facing Political Backlash [Updated]
140. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 25, 2016, 15:15 Scottish Martial Arts
Quboid wrote on Sep 25, 2016, 09:58:
I hate seeing people refer to the UN/EU/NATO as people pointlessly sitting in a room arguing when that has replaced people pointlessly dying on a field.

Yup. The same goes for international trade. Globalization and world trade have created real losers, in our own country and in many others, and has hardly been equitable in its economic benefits. BUT they have also led to a world order in which major powers do not go to war with each other: they have too much to gain from being at peace and trading with one another, and too much to lose by going to war. That doesn't mean the world has been conflict free, but the kinds of wars which major powers used to fight near continuously no longer exist. As you note, major power conflict is rapidly receding from living memory, which unfortunately makes it all the more likely for people to forget how easily and often war used to occur, and how quickly it could come about again if we abandon the institutions which have given us so many decades of peace and prosperity.
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News Comments > Oculus Facing Political Backlash [Updated]
128. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 25, 2016, 01:35 Scottish Martial Arts
Redmask wrote on Sep 25, 2016, 01:00:
The country burn? No, probably just the state of affairs in Washington is what they're wishing to burn. It doesn't really matter though, even if elected Trump's caustic dealings will render him a lame duck in office, unable to accomplish anything. People scared about him ending the world are just being overly dramatic, Washington has tamed much fiercer men and the President is constrained in numerous ways from doing whatever he wants. The wasted time with Trump is what worries me more but I would almost welcome it as it would essentially destroy the Republican party which is a god damn mess. We could even get three viable parties out of it.

If Trump wins, then the likelihood of Democrats retaking the Senate, let alone the House, drops to basically nil. In otherwords, we can expect a GOP controlled Congress, and, in short order, a conservative leaning court with possibility for Trump to appoint additional conservative leaning justices. While the President's powers are limited by the Constitution, Constitutional norms are only that: norms. Trump has repeatedly shown that he has little understanding or respect of the US Constitution, of American Democratic values, or of the institutions which safeguard them. An American President who has little to no respect for Constitutional norms has a great deal of power to run them over: he can order the Department of Justice to open anti-trust investigations against businessmen who have spoken out against him, he can order the NSA to surveil journalists who write negative things about him, he could indeed order the US military to seize Iraqi oil, the war crime which he keeps promising to commit. And the list goes on.

Sure, the GOP-controlled House and Senate could conduct oversight investigations, subpoena Trump administration officials, open impeachment proceedings, etc. but those GOP members of Congress depend upon Trump voters to stay in office. Given how quickly the GOP rolled over for Trump this election season, why in the world would you think they would stand up to him once he's in office? With hardly any exception, the only GOP lifers who are opposing Trump are those who are not actively seeking office. Everyone else? They know they need Trump supporters to stay in office and so they're toeing the line; even Ted Cruz is now placing his own political career ahead of opposing an incompetent nominee who thinks his dad helped assassinate Kennedy.

Maybe things won't be so bad. Maybe the GOP would grow a pair under a President Trump and put aside their own personal ambitions for the sake of American democracy. Maybe once in office, Trump could be tamed and his advisers could keep him from doing stupid shit that damages the country. But everything we've seen so far in this campaign suggests the opposite.
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News Comments > Oculus Facing Political Backlash [Updated]
124. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 25, 2016, 01:19 Scottish Martial Arts
Redmask wrote on Sep 25, 2016, 00:09:
They would rather burn it all to the ground with Trump than see Clinton elected.

The thing that bothers me about this attitude is it shows little imagination for how bad things can get. If you place the last 70 years or so, since the end of World War II, in the broad context of human history, then it becomes immediately clear that we were fortunate enough to live in arguably the greatest golden age humankind has ever experienced. The world has never been more prosperous, more peaceful, or more free, for more people, than it has in the latter half of the 20th century and the first few decades of the 21st. That's not to say things are perfect -- far from it -- but that most humans have endured lives far more brutal, far more violent, far poorer, and far shorter with far more loss. The last time humans came close to enjoying what we have, it was the second century AD at the height of the Roman Empire.

But Rome fell.

Our civilization is robust, but it's not impervious. A truly catastrophic leader can deal irreparable damage to a society, that perhaps doesn't destroy things overnight (although in the age of nuclear weapons don't rule it out), but nevertheless precipitates a long, irrecoverable decline and fall. This has happened over and over again throughout world history. For Rome, see Commodus. For Ancient Athens, see Alcibiades and the Sicilian expedition. For a hypothetical, read Plato's discussion in the Republic of how democracies devolve into tyrannies, and his description of the tyrannical man, and tell me that when you look at Trump you don't see that same passion-enslaved man -- always desirous of praise and popularity -- a man unable to control his desires or even himself.

This isn't to say our society doesn't have major problems and inequities that aren't being addressed by our national politics. No one is wrong to organize and press for change. But that doesn't mean we can be foolish when it comes time to select our president. We cannot claim a lack of historical imagination and perspective as an excuse for burning down a system that has given us the one of the great (if not the greatest) golden ages ever lived by humans. Things could be far better, but they could also be much much much worse, and the odds for rolling the dice on Trump should give any thinking person pause.
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News Comments > Oculus Facing Political Backlash [Updated]
106. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 24, 2016, 20:02 Scottish Martial Arts
RedEye9 wrote on Sep 24, 2016, 17:22:

The hilarious/sad thing is that's just the last seven days, and only the blatant/major lies. The man is a blackhole of insecurity requiring a steady stream of bluster and bullshit to fill it. Most of us figure out that character matters far more than juvenile dominance displays by about the time we graduate from high school. Why would we give drone strike authority to someone who emotionally and socially never left the high school locker room?
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News Comments > Deus Ex: Mankind Divided System Rift DLC
9. Re: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided System Rift DLC Sep 24, 2016, 01:35 Scottish Martial Arts
I'm not very far into it, but it doesn't feel like cut content: it feels like a lengthy self-contained mission that relates to but does not depend upon the main game. It's still set in Prague, and there's no references so far to the ending of the main game, so it could have been integrated, but then there's nothing leaping out at me so far that says "cut out to be sold as DLC" either. Basically if you want a small new section of city to explore, coupled with what appears to be a massive infiltration mission, then it's probably worth getting.  
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News Comments > Civilization VI Specifications
8. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 23, 2016, 23:44 Scottish Martial Arts
GinRummy wrote on Sep 23, 2016, 22:36:
Has the actual Sid Meier been within a hundred miles of the development of any of the last several Civ games? He probably has about as much to due with programming these any more as Tom Clancy or John Madden did with theirs.

The only Civilization game where Sid Meier had a direct, hand-on role was the first one.
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News Comments > Oculus Facing Political Backlash [Updated]
14. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 23, 2016, 21:56 Scottish Martial Arts
I just can't wait for this fucking election to finally be over.

Oh, and probably not ever getting an Oculus now.
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News Comments > Morning Interviews
17. Re: Morning Interviews Sep 23, 2016, 21:27 Scottish Martial Arts
Prez wrote on Sep 23, 2016, 20:22:

Also, what are "MRA's"?

Men's Rights Activists: individuals who believe and organize around the principle that the most oppressed and disadvantaged demographic group in contemporary society is straight white males.
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News Comments > Deus Ex: Mankind Divided System Rift DLC
4. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 23, 2016, 13:42 Scottish Martial Arts
wtf_man wrote on Sep 23, 2016, 12:56:
From what I read on other sites... it's a Headquarters... not the bank. Totally separate building in old Pargue.

Yeah the "Palisade Blade" is the slanty thing visible in part of the Prague skybox, which you don't visit in the main game.
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News Comments > Morning Interviews
9. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 22, 2016, 13:48 Scottish Martial Arts
ItBurn wrote on Sep 22, 2016, 13:19:

Why are you even on this site if you're not a PC gamer?

Presumably because you can enjoy PC games while simultaneously thinking many self-identified "PC gamers" live in an echo chamber of their own making. I don't own a gaming console, and haven't since the N64/PS1 days, but Pachter definitely described PC gamer "culture" to a T.
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News Comments > Morning Metaverse
4. Re: Morning Mobilization Sep 22, 2016, 13:26 Scottish Martial Arts
Task wrote on Sep 22, 2016, 12:48:
Additionally the 'official' polling also does not include millennials for some dumb reason,

This is where I stopped and said "WTF". If you think there is such a thing as an "official" poll -- and that these are explicitly excluding a major demographic group -- as opposed to a myriad of polls conducted by a variety of organizations for any number of purposes, then you clearly are existing in another reality and can safely be ignored.

And the polling data that makes the news A) includes millenials, and B) shows that millenials are preferring third party candidates in much larger numbers than other demographic groups. Hell, there's been a lot of ink spilled in recent weeks about how millenials are the part of the Obama coalition that is missing from Clinton's base and which are most likely to be the determining factor if she loses. So what exactly is your complaint here other than that "the media" isn't pulling numbers out of its ass that are even more amenable to your argument, such as it is?
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