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16  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Life, the World, and Everything. (Social Issues) on: November 19, 2014, 05:16:40 PM
TSK: Yeah, 72 "white raisins."

Thank you God. Cool
17  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Life, the World, and Everything. (Social Issues) on: November 19, 2014, 05:15:16 PM
TSK: 'Murica? Hodor?
...I blame Bush.
Ha ha, easy right? Grin
Bush actually upped gov't tech research spending; Republicans rarely have problems with the idea of cutting edge tech meaning opportunities for financial gains.
But the blame is with making standoffish ignorance a virtue. Thrust that chin out and proclaim, "HODOR!" like that's all it takes.

I think this is about that idea of respecting information and learning. Early in this thread there was the assertion that FDR did it wrong and had little or nothing to do with America's recovery; that "The New Deal" was in fact "the Giant Fuck-Up."
I don't think that's right, but I'm open to evidence that it is. I don't do dogma, I do facts. Cool
*unf unf unf*

To the vet's quote the answer is "you don't get to fight for the nation you want, you do it for the nation you have." Also let's be real, those people have always existed and some of them were on Omaha Beach, too.
It helps that I don't watch TV. Popular culture's a short route to collective loathing.
18  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Life, the World, and Everything. (Social Issues) on: November 19, 2014, 05:02:23 PM
I'd rather see a "try, fail, and expect to improve" over not trying at all.
We're all a work in progress; as long we intend to keep improving there's always a reasonable hope.
That said what the fuck is with the VA's lack of efficient information management? Is there some kind of underlying issue like secrecy of records? Is it just being bass-awkward with 80's era tech clogging everything?
This really shouldn't be harder then the DMV, the DHS, or the IRS.
Just...what the fuck. Angry

Samara's story is also very understated, which is a real credit to Bioware.

Agreed. Smarter citizens found smarter nations. Smarter nations last longer. Putting aside any sticky moral judgement just for the sake of survival is reason enough.
19  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Life, the World, and Everything. (Social Issues) on: November 19, 2014, 04:32:25 PM
However admired or despised the underlying nature of a soldier (here used as a stand-in term for any members of formal military structure) is that of a government worker. They fight for We The People. We decide when, how, why where and against whom. And they stop when we demand it.
Ish.  The US Oaths of Service, which are different for officers and enlisted members of the military, are to defend the Constitution; not the government, not the people, not the land.  There is a Long tradition, basically venerated, which is good, of civilian control of the military, but I don't find it difficult to imagine a "mutiny" if the military is ordered to violate the Constitution.

That's some of, btw, the reasons why veterans deciding to recommit to returning to hunt ISIL as civilians is a super bad idea.
Why?  Is that worse than veterans gathering supplies for Ukrainians to help them resist Russian aggression?  (If so, why.)

The waste of lives is on us. The destabilization of nations is our fault.
A government that uses rape as a tool of policy is, IMO, worse than "instability."  It is debatable, though.  Letting the boundaries set by outsiders stand hasn't served Africa or the middle east too well.

1. Ah, indeed. Thanks for the reminder/clarification. I can't find fault in the logic in any way that I haven't presented already.
And for my part, I find "Defend the Constitution" a little ambiguous. As you said, that could be mean a legal military state.
Remember that the military has the advantage of being self-selecting and has a much more (AFAIK) restrictive legal structure. Anyone who doesn't fit in is in violation of it's culture, it's not a culture that has to take on people who don't.

2. Actually I've come to generally agree. MSNBC's been running a series on the Kurdish Resistance in Kobani, and seeing that footage makes a part of my soul roar, "JOIN THE FIGHT. GET THE FUCK OUT THERE AND STAND WITH THEM*!"
So as far as vets going back out Iraq/Turkey/Syria way I've got two general reservations; the first is that said vets are able to navigate the situation and shoot the right motherfuckers, and the other is that we have a grasp on why. To protect/avenge whoever's fine by me, but if they're going back because they can't find peace back in the Real World then I think we've got a problem we need to at least aware of.
And to be frank, and this is part of much larger essay, I'm not sure it's their fight to pick. This goes back to the "gov't employees" point -is it a positive to have citizens, however prepared and experienced, getting into any fight they want regardless of how worthwhile it is?
If this were 1976 and the topic was returning to Viet Nam to avenge themselves would this be a good idea?
I say no.

3. And a gov't that uses Rape as a policy tool has citizens willing to do the same. The people who need to push back against that ultimately aren't the international community.
I don't like it, but for example the above Kurds are the biggest local practitioners of FGM -Female Genital Mutilation.
That's not in the Koran, btw. That's just the locals being fucking barbarians. There's no taking the bad from the good, so there you go.

Also here's a bit of media slight of hand: Kurds are a large majority Sunni. So when chaos in Iraq and it's locales is explained as being "the Sunni, the Shia, and the Kurds" that is accurate in the sense of delineating power blocs, but it's incorrect to let the audience presume the Kurds are somehow "other Muslims."

*what passport, what travel money, what in-country contacts, what access to medications, etc etc. Tongue Reality's a dick.
20  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Life, the World, and Everything. (Social Issues) on: November 19, 2014, 04:11:02 PM
*reads*  *thinks*  *whistles*

The problem I've always had is the 'intelligence' of common citizen about these matters.  It's a good idea, in principle, to hold leadership to the fire for misuse or betrayal of their citizenry, but how often does it really happen?  You have a world who's budgets can't balance.  A world where roughly 37 million people live in legit slavery.  A world where power is bought and traded like they're MTG cards at a pro-tour tournament.  The US Congress and the past 2 sitting Presidents have had record low approval scores, yet, the citizenry voted each of them in for a combined 16 years.  I'll love the Warrior all day long, they didn't sell the soul of the nation for a job on a hill.  I will, however, be aggravated by those who don't vote, don't learn, or don't bother. 

Here's my total bullshit theory why with two general components.

1). Regard for information. How do we approach the importance of knowledge? And, let's be real, not everybody cares equally. If voting required high school graduate level testing the registered voter rolls would probably skew dramatically.
Seems to be an unavoidable paradox: we can have smart, informed voters or we can have an all-inclusive democracy.
I think the latter's the wisest choice, but I can get the appeal of the former.

2). Time and effort. I have lots of it, so I have time to look this shit up*.
I remember, back when Bob Dole and dinosaurs wandered the Earth, having two parents raising me. At least for a while. These days the "minimum" standard of living is having two earners able to afford the cost of children.
Once that basic standard's reached that leaves the actual burden of making people out of the little nippers, and ain't nobody got time for that!

*Generation Boomerang, woooo! Tongue
21  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Netflix to be in Oceania on: November 19, 2014, 03:59:13 PM
By order of the Ministry of Truth, Netflix has always been available in Oceania.

+1 to you, good sir.
22  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Video game news and reaction on: November 19, 2014, 03:58:10 PM
Anyone got news on Dragon Age: Inquisition?

General critical buzz seems positive along the lines of "Bioware, duh!"
23  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Video game news and reaction on: November 19, 2014, 03:57:28 PM
Here's something nobody cares about!
While playing Twisted Metal I got 104 kills in Normal Endurance mode.

Took two damn hours, sheesh.
24  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Life, the World, and Everything. (Social Issues) on: November 19, 2014, 03:56:03 PM
If I shipped, I would ship Tali and Garrus.

When I blundered into them snuggling in the forward battery I achieved Maximum D'awww and was much surer everything would be ok.

Samara's my waifu, for the record. Wink
25  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Life, the World, and Everything. (Social Issues) on: November 19, 2014, 03:54:51 PM
I think we really -ed up when we made assassination a felony.

More seriously there is a huge problem with elected officials not really controlling the bureaucracies that actually do things.  FWIW:  If a government needs a bureaucracy to get something done, is probably doing something that shouldn't be done.

I want to agree, but the problem isn't the first "righteous killing" it's the second. And every one that follows. Putting aside the charge of murder there's also the profound insult of letting one person exercise that much political disruption.

We've got enough of a problem with having politics that selects out any kind of eccentricity (Theodore Roosevelt would be Howard Dean every 5 minutes or so); adding a requisite willingness to risk death just exacerbates the same set of problems.

I'm not sure I see that problem. A bureaucracy is a system of distributed responsibility; the general staff of the US military's as a bureaucratic as anything and it works.

It's kind of a no-win. We want a bureaucracy that's responsive to needs like veteran's care but we also want efficiency and fair and impartial treatment and thus resistant to fraud. We want superior results and less taxes. We're idiots.
26  Community / Play-by-Post / Re: [OOC] Way of the Wicked on: November 19, 2014, 03:42:26 PM
For what it's worth, that plan gets my vote.

With Ludo on this.
27  Community / License to Improvise / Re: New Expert Class: The Aegis (Henshin Hero) on: November 18, 2014, 08:56:01 PM
Speaking of an Unborn-friendly Henshin Stance, do you have any clue what to change in order to make it so? The Construct Type is extremely useful so I don't want to completely strip it away, but at the same time I do want Unborn characters to look into it.

Give it a "if you're already a Construct then X additional bonus" rider?

Well besides that you don't get fatigued for leaving the stance.
Or maybe if you're already a Construct you can also use another stance at the same time?
Or you can gain more then 1 Edge a round?
28  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Life, the World, and Everything. (Social Issues) on: November 18, 2014, 08:13:04 AM
Those are important points that I will address!
After this Mass Effect fanfiction binge!
Oh Tali, why are you so deliciously adorkable. Kiss
29  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Cool Vids (Keep it Clean) on: November 18, 2014, 03:43:28 AM
Rachel Maddow explains Twitter dead drop boxes

Politics aside, using generic, anonymous Twitter accounts sounds like an interesting way to bring dead drops into the 21st Century (without the need for USB sticks or micro SD cards).

Makes for an interesting twist on a normal Spycraft kind of endeavor: hardcore domestic politics.
All the ruthlessness, treachery, guile, and pragmatic cruelty of conventional espionage! And while a bullet to the skull is far less likely an outcome for failure the possibility of being publicly burned and living it to regret is far more real.
Join the Not-So-Great-Game: you could be the next Valerie Plame! Tongue
30  Community / Off-Topic / Re: Life, the World, and Everything. (Social Issues) on: November 17, 2014, 04:13:17 AM
Alright, bombs away. Angry

I was viewing a BBC documentary on the United States defeat in Vietnam. I didn't really learn much I didn't already know (though viewed materially the Tet Offensive was nearly a Pyhrric Victory for the North Vietnamese was news to me) and in the comments section was the usual internet rager about how the U.S. Public cost the military the war by undermining support for it.
I stopped to chew the idea for a change, and from this came my thesis when I realized how that argument was wrong.

The military doesn't, and shouldn't, make policy for war. I feel for the losses and sacrifices (though I won't for a second suggest that indeed "I feel their pain") but that's not the deal. When the public turned against the war, or any war, that meant that war was over.

As has been amply demonstrated when a military starts picking it's conflicts it has consumed the most function on it's former government and isn't far off from choosing the priorities of the rest.

At that point the general staff has become a political oligarchy that can maintain power through intimidation and the initiation of conscripts -Josef Koney's militias make for an excellent example. They worked by (largely though not solely) kidnapping children from target villages and forcing them to be initiated either by corporal punishment or by complicity in some other kind of brutality. Survivors and deserters reported feeling so degraded by what they were forced to do that they found that they came to identify with their tormentors and gradually took them as peers and allies if not friends.

It's Stockholm Syndrome meets street gang initiation ritual.

But that's not the point.

Love the Warrior, Hate the War.

There are two facets to this:
The first is that however unfair and demoralizing the citizenry -up to and including political elites from any party or philosophy, legally own the power to start and end wars and the second is that they don't have a choice in recognition of that responsibility.

However admired or despised the underlying nature of a soldier (here used as a stand-in term for any members of formal military structure) is that of a government worker. They fight for We The People. We decide when, how, why where and against whom. And they stop when we demand it.

(That's some of, btw, the reasons why veterans deciding to recommit to returning to hunt ISIL as civilians is a super bad idea.)

And we have an equal duty to recognize that we own everything they do. For example the assumed wisdom is that "war crimes" are as inevitable as rain. But with that jaded expectation has to come recognition that without civilian sanction those soldiers wouldn't be in those situations with that training and those weapons. That applies to everything that occurs from unheralded acts of valor and sacrifice to horrors like the My Lai Massacre.

And I think this is where we fall down.

The shame and disgrace that greeted Viet Nam veterans upon return was utterly unfair. Not just wrong, but misplaced -they didn't start that war and they largely had no impact on how it's prosecution was implemented. They didn't decide who to attack or where or by what means and while individual crimes demand impartial justice with that condemnation has to come with the understanding that we the civilians have one hand on every weapon fired and bomb dropped.

I wonder if it's telling that we apparently have such a crap record for prosecution and conviction of war crimes -if we don't acknowledge it we can't be made to feel it. No harm, no foul -and fuck those dead brown people. It's their fault for living in a country we were invading.

The military is not, and has never been, a thing that occurs separate from the rest of society. When I hear some AM radio bloviator discharging about how unmotivated and worthless "the kids" are I spit. That windbag is also shit-talking all the vets of my generation. I'm 100% sure he doesn't mean it like that, but cast a net that's the width of an entire generation and you'll end up catching people you admire as well as those you scorn. It's not that simple; it's never been that simple.

So we've got to get wise. We've got to separate the warrior from the war. We've got face the cost military buccaneering because if we don't we'll eventually face disaster in the form of all-consuming military spending that drains the rest of the nation or covert wars that never seem to end and that inflict greater opportunity costs on future actually worthwhile engagements to even a possible military coup -it's not hard to find a place on the planet where the military leadership woke up one morning to realize that they held all the guns and grunts, and decided "fuck Mr. 'President For Life,' I'm in charge now."

(Let's not scoff too loudly about that last point.)

(Our borderline Ancestor Worship of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution only has value in so far as we honestly follow their advice and cleave to the lessons of history. We have the spectacular advantages of resources and geography, but they aren't infinitely forgiving of our delusions about Right Making Might. There's also another crucial upside and that's this: we relieve the soldier of at least some of his or her burden of duty.)

Part of why we get so gooey-eyed about WW2 was the shared sense of commitment and sacrifice. Everyone saw the need to fight, and everyone had some part to play. Yes, to be sure the vote on the declaration of war was close -51/49 IIRC, but that's the wacky thing about Democracy: it works regardless of the margin as long as everyone agrees to abide by the result.

And now we look back on it, and Desert Storm (also a formally declared war), as American Military Triumphs.

Yeah it helped that we won, but whatever the linkage between formal civilian commitment to a war and it's outcome not having armies of demonstrators making headlines about how some schmuck politico is trying to achieve some materially nebulous goal at the cost of a billion dollars a week corresponds to fighting and winning.

The waste of lives is on us. The destabilization of nations is our fault. With that recognition comes some really ennui about war and that's a damn good thing.

Were the goals ambiguous and the methods contradictory? The tools unreliable and the preparation slipshod? That's not the soldier's burden. That's on us. They did because we commanded as we commanded and we owe them an honest reckoning. Careers need to end and leaders need to be shamed, but our veterans deserve -at the absolute minimum, honest compensation and honest respect that isn't "better you then me" because, motherfucker, they ARE us.

We must mourn the tragic losses so that we can own the hard-won glory, and when we own our wars no one dies in vain because they died for our shared will to fight.

The end.
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