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Messages - Pat

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1
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: 2020 Election Commentary
« on: November 30, 2020, 10:18:31 pm »
In the "your vote still doesn't matter" category, Iowa certified the results of the US House race in their 2nd second Congressional District, giving the race to the Republican by a total of 6 votes. Yes, one two three four five six votes. 196,964 to 196,958 is 50.00076% to 49.99924%. It's the closest Congressional race in decades.
https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2020-11-30/iowa-board-to-certify-6-vote-republican-win-in-us-house-race
Incidentally, love her name: Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

I hope they recounted that one twice. Six votes? Jeez...
It was a recount. Her lead was initially... drumroll... 47 votes.

2
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: 2020 Election Commentary
« on: November 30, 2020, 09:01:11 pm »
Don't know if it'll go anywhere, but the FBI has apparently requested files from the Voter Integrity Project, which has been collecting affidavits and doing statistical analysis in multiple states.
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/new-fbi-requests-files-of-people-voting-in-multiple-states

In the "your vote still doesn't matter" category, Iowa certified the results of the US House race in their 2nd second Congressional District, giving the race to the Republican by a total of 6 votes. Yes, one two three four five six votes. 196,964 to 196,958 is 50.00076% to 49.99924%. It's the closest Congressional race in decades.
https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2020-11-30/iowa-board-to-certify-6-vote-republican-win-in-us-house-race
Incidentally, love her name: Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

Brief summary of why the NYT's feed of election results from Pennsylvania makes no sense.
https://justthenews.com/politics-policy/elections/data-expert-vote-tabulation-feeds-pa-ga-show-anomalies-would-mean-trump
Also some interesting interesting discussion of Dominion's process, based on their training videos. To tabulate votes, operators have to do things like go to a shared drive and select all the files to be included -- which if you have any background in data entry, workflow, or IT in general, should make your hackles rise. That much manual intervention is just asking for errors.

3
My sister is a Finance PhD who works at the SEC. My second-hand impression is that they need a ton of lawyers because they are extremely limited in what sort of operations they can engage in. It sounds very frustrating to work there, and I am not impressed by what they have done - but it seems like they are hamstrung by what they are allowed to pursue and prosecute, not because they don't have the skills.
Regulatory capture-type limitations? Because that's another issue with white collar crime -- the perpetrators tend to be very well connected, or are in positions of power.

4
I enjoyed The Three-Body Problem a lot. I'm currently reading The Dark Forest, but I'm struggling to keep up interest - though I'm still just in the early parts of it. In general, while the first book is a great novel, I don't think it makes for a good RPG setting. Too much of it is in big reveal, flashback, and commentary.
I found The Dark Forest easier to read, because the game aspects in the Three-Body Problem were such a slog, and so much of the actual plot was packed into the last few pages.

The TBP isn't well suited to becoming an RPG setting because it has a very limited and one-sided conflict, and it's heavily focused on reveals. The latter two books are better, because they develop more of the universe and how it works, though no particular era or place jumps out as the ideal starting point for a band of PCs.

Your problems might be related to the structure of the novels. Most modern novels are character- or action-driven, and hit certain beats. The Remembrance of Earth's Past is idea-driven, so the characters are often thin (with one key exception in the first book) and the action often doesn't follow a predictable set of beats (even the cinematic climax in the TBP feels a bit forced). Which is terrible, if you want identifiable characters and a series of events rising to a triumphant crescendo, but works very well if you're interested in exploring a novel universe.

5
That's the problem with white collar crime: It's very hard to prove. But the number of politicians who become rich while in office raises eyebrows, and the voters should look askance. If someone makes $200K/year in salary, but their net worth grows by millions, tens of millions, or hundreds of millions while in office, we should stop reelecting them.
I agree without reservation as far as politicians and net worth. While I'm all for 'be the best capitalist you can be', if you're in a position of political power, you weren't sent there to get rich.

Although I disagree about white collar crime being hard to prove. The problem is that the people who usually do the enforcement (in Madoff's case, the SEC) are not actually trained to look for the red flags. It took a forensic accountant about twenty minutes to figure out it was bullshit, and a few more hours to figure out how the scam was being run. Unfortunately, the SEC seems to be dominated by lawyers, not accountants.
That could very well be true about Madoff and the SEC, and having more accountants in key agencies would be a good step. And more generally it's also true that there's always been an asymmetry in expertise between white collar criminals and regulators, which makes it hard to catch those who commit the crimes. But it remains true that white collar crime, in general, is hard to prove. One of the classic examples is insider trading. Unless phone calls are being recorded, someone confesses, or someone says something stupid in an email, almost anything can be explained away as luck or market smarts. That contrasts with more typical crimes, where it's clear a crime was committed because something is missing, broken, or happened to someone.

6
Not perjury regarding any official action but perjury about adultery. Sleazy rather than corrupt. Most Republican presidents are corrupt rather than sleazy, but Trump has managed the twofer.
Very corrupt. Remember Whitewater? The main difference is the public ate up salacious rumors, and zoned out when it came to shady real estate transactions.
The Whitewater stuff was pretty arcane, although people got a lot more interested when Bernie Madoff's scheme fell apart.

Still, it kind of beggared reason that the Clintons could magically produce that kind of return on investment.
That's the problem with white collar crime: It's very hard to prove. But the number of politicians who become rich while in office raises eyebrows, and the voters should look askance. If someone makes $200K/year in salary, but their net worth grows by millions, tens of millions, or hundreds of millions while in office, we should stop reelecting them.

7
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: 2020 Election Commentary
« on: November 30, 2020, 12:52:08 pm »
Any American should be absolutely terrified at the idea of systemic voting irregularities making their votes worthless

States systematically disenfranchising voters was why our elected representatives enacted and renewed the Voting Rights Act.
Literally has nothing to do with the voting irregularities in the current election.

8
Not perjury regarding any official action but perjury about adultery. Sleazy rather than corrupt. Most Republican presidents are corrupt rather than sleazy, but Trump has managed the twofer.
Very corrupt. Remember Whitewater? The main difference is the public ate up salacious rumors, and zoned out when it came to shady real estate transactions.

9
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: 2020 Election Commentary
« on: November 29, 2020, 07:32:57 pm »
Any American should be frightened by the prospect of judges settings aside the will of the electorate and choosing a preferred candidate. 
Any American should be absolutely terrified at the idea of systemic voting irregularities making their votes worthless, and strongly support judicial review, up to and including throwing out all votes that do not meet a high standard of authenticity. If the results of an election are overturned, then they were false results, and simply can't be allowed to stand. If any voters end up disenfranchised, it's their own fault, because they're the ones who voted for the public officials running the electoral systems. The people are ultimately responsible and accountable for their own franchise.

And any American should laugh when someone appeals to the "will of the electorate" over an election decided by thin margins, or who keeps saying "fraud" when the standard should be provable irregularities like a broken chain of custody or a lack of oversight when processing or counting ballots, not deliberate malfeasance.

10
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, and inspired me to write this post - a dark fantasy location for D&D-ish games

http://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-dead-in-woods.html

(the book's "videogame" setting is a lot more interesting than my post, TBH)
The video game was the dullest part of the book.

The rest of the trilogy is an interesting read, too.

I like the video game as a post-apoc setting.... something like Dark Sun or Tékumel.

Was considering getting the other books, will take a look, thanks!
The problem is nothing much happens in the video game, except a lot of exposition, and there's no real character development. The part about the Cultural Revolution in China was much better.

The title of your blog post reminded me of the key concept of the second volume (which is also the title: The Dark Forest), but aside from the similar names, they appear entirely different.

11
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, and inspired me to write this post - a dark fantasy location for D&D-ish games

http://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-dead-in-woods.html

(the book's "videogame" setting is a lot more interesting than my post, TBH)
The video game was the dullest part of the book.

The rest of the trilogy is an interesting read, too.

12
Unless strangely excluding common Americans identifying as republicans, it can not be credibly said that the mainstream of the republican party supports neoliberal policy.  Over and over republican voters (and democrat voters) tell pollsters they support a protective trade policy in defiance of party politicians and their donors.  Which you acknowledge a couple of sentences later, as if forgetting the statement made just previously.
This is valid point. Recent studies have shown a fairly strong alignment between the elites of both parties, and their bases, on many issues. But not all issues, and the main exception is economic. The elites tend to favor things like free trade far more than the popular base of their parties. And when there's a divergence between the popular base and the elites, the elites' preferences almost always carry the day.

But that goes back to my point that Trump is a populist, rather than a traditional Republican or conservative. It's not a contradiction on my part, because populism vs. elitism is fundamentally different than the conservative/liberal split. That's why the establishment Republicans have been so hesitant to support him, which gets into a lot of the stuff labeled deep state. He's the first populist politician in a while, which is why he's redefined the political landscape.

You are trying to make a dialectic case that so and so president doesn't qualify as conservative under an unstated definition.  Again, this is missing the forest for the trees.  Mistwell uses a rhetorical tactic to play one's self-identity as a conservative and/or republican against Trump's current policies; i.e., Trump is in contradiction to republican and/or conservative tradition, and so are you as a reader if you support Trump in these things.  So you as a reader really need to choose between supporting Trump and credibly calling yourself republican and/or conservative.  But Trump is squarely in line with giants in the republican party policy-wise.  You don't see the Republican party or self-professed conservatives running from the legacies of Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt, and to substitute their names for Trump's in Mistwell's argument shows how absurd it is; how rhetorically incoherent it is. 

I shouldn't have to explain this to you Pat.
No, I'm not. I explicitly called Trump a conservative, though I noted his roots and some of his reflexes are liberal. The case I'm making is that there is no ur-conservatism, unless you define conservatism either in relative terms or by trying to trace historical continuity.

The relative definition (conservatives trying to conserve, i.e. favoring slower change), has some merit, because sociological studies indicate that conservatives tend to think in certain ways (cf. The Righteous Mind), but that's a tendency rather than a set of specific policies.

The historical continuity version may have some truth for a certain period of time (say back to the 1st Buckley or thereabouts), but over the longer haul of centuries, it breaks down because there are fundamental shifts in alignment. For instance, the most libertarian president of all time (Jackson) was a Democrat, the president behind the most radical change in the country was a Republican (Lincoln), and another Republican was the poster child of the Progressive Era (Teddy Roosevelt). That isn't to say that the polarity periodically flips 180 degrees -- Teddy was a imperialist individualist, too -- but that it's too limiting to try to define them by modern beliefs. What was called Democrat (or liberal) in the 1800s has little bearing on what is called Democrat or liberal in the 2020s; the landscape has shifted too much.

13
Until the income tax came along in 1913, tariffs were how the federal government funded itself. So supporting tariffs wasn't a party issue, it was an everyone issue. And while modern libertarians favor the unilateral elimination of tariffs, limiting government to only what could be afforded by charging tariffs is wildly libertarian compared to any stance held by almost anyone in either of the major parties today, who both tend to favor low tariffs under negotiated free trade regimes as part of the neoliberal technocratic viewpoint that includes the mainstream of both parties. Lincoln was profoundly pro-central government and anti-decentralization, and showed little respect for the Constitution. Teddy Roosevelt was all about increasing federal power, as long as it was run by the right people. Trump is in many ways a New York City liberal, except he has an assortment of populist stances that appeal to grass roots conservatives, including a strong push toward protectionism.

It's very tricky trying to compare politicians from a very differently political climate to the parties and figures of today, and it can also be tricky comparing populists with establishment politicians, in any era. Trump has fundamentally shifted the Republican party in a new direction. Which is conservative, but that's almost definitional.

14
To wit: I wouldn't call Abraham Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt conservatives, either; albeit for different reasons.
Neither would I. Lincoln was a radical, Teddy was a progressive, and neither of those map closely to modern beliefs. Plus, a stance on tariffs isn't a litmus test for much of anything, especially when compared across centuries.

15
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: 2020 Election Commentary
« on: November 27, 2020, 05:39:33 am »
Is an accusation enough or does there need to be a judicial finding? Even the exclusionary rule needs more than just an accusation here.
Of course there needs to be judicial finding. That's a bizarre question. A truly bizarre question. Nothing I can think of happens solely on the basis of an accusation. That you're even asking the question suggests you're missing the point, entirely.

Is there a matter of scale or is it an absolute: any issues, all votes get thrown out?

If it’s the later, I know people both left and right who absolutely would concoct a scheme that’s almost impossible to detect, wait till after the election is held and then walk into their local police station and loudly confess to completely invalidate the local city, council or state vote.

The fundamental reason that the exclusionary principle works to discourage systemic issues is that it gets applied on a case by case basis and if a department systematically violates it, they achieve nothing.

Lastly, the real reason that your idea strikes as, frankly, horrible, is that you’re applying collective punishment for what are individual crimes and/or mistakes.

American justice is built, in theory at least, on a basis of individual responsibility and punishment or restitution.

I can think of nothing that would erode societal stability in all areas of the USA quicker than allowing a small number of people by either malice, incompetence or pure human error, to remove the ability of honestly, legally cast votes from Americans of all political stripes to influence their future.
On the matter of scale, that's another bizarre question. There is always going to some degree of judgment involved, and they'd have to set standards. The best solutions will have to be worked out, I'm not familiar enough with the relevant standards to concretely spell out what they should do.

The rest of your post seems to be assuming that imposing standards is an invitation for fraud, and that people are incapable of coming up with reasonable precautions against exploiting the standards. Except it's the opposite that's true: When you don't have standards, and let everyone get away with everything, that's when fraud becomes rampant. Cf. Medicare. The argument that we should just ignore all the problems is, frankly, monstrous, because that means the situation will never get better.

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