Yes, it has been a long and busy year, with a lot of changes both here on MTGS and elsewhere in the world. But not so many changes that the world has not completed its circuit around the sun once again, and so we are gathered here to celebrate that achievement on this day of the circle constant, 3/14, Pi Day!
...except the earth's orbit is not a circle. It is an ellipse, and as such the earth varies in its distance from the sun. So are we celebrating on the wrong day? The ratio of half the orbital perimeter to the distance at aphelion (a calculation which, on a circle, would produce pi) says we should celebrate on March 9th, and at perihelion, March 19th. However, I am pleased to report that if we base our calculation on the earth's average distance from the sun -- the orbit's semi-major axis -- we get a value of 3.1417 and change. In short: pi may be irrational, but our orbit isn't very eccentric. Which means that today, March 14th, we can with three significant digits and a clear conscience commemorate both a remarkable number and the remarkable yearly journey of this great big rock we call home.
So put your pastries in the oven and break out your Just Desserts decks, for today we party for pi!
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May 5, 2017Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, but the aphorism is not usually understood as it ought to be: how miraculous must be this eye of the beholder, to serve as source for all the beauty in the universe! Beauty is not a physical phenomenon. No "beauty particle" flies through space to strike the retina. A goldfish or a GoPro could look up at the stars, process the visual image just as well as we, and yet remain unmoved by the sight. Only human beings wonder what they are -- and that wonder is such a deep part of our nature that our youngest children sing about it in nursery rhymes. Immeasurably tiny as we are beneath the cosmos, we have the ultimate power over it, that of appreciation. The laws of physics wrought the stars as blind, dead things hanging in emptiness; it is only in our eyes that they become sublime.Posted in: Debate
And it gets better. We are not merely beholders of stars. When we turn to behold each other, then the magic really begins. Every single human being has their own vision of the universe reflected in their eyes. We all see the same universe, but we all see it differently. Seven billion universes, each one similar enough to our own that communication is possible between them, but utterly unique in its majesty. As if one cosmos were not vast enough to give us endless marvels, we will never run out of new ones to explore. With friends!
We have got to be the luckiest damn creatures in existence.
So don't waste these opportunities. Don't waste this power of appreciation. If you don't see the beauty in stars and rocks and beetles and humans, then nothing else in the universe will.
Don't be so proud as to think that you have nothing to gain from listening to other perspectives. You're missing out on entire universes. And the craziest ones are often the most fascinating.
And don't be so humble as to think that you have nothing to offer others in your perspective. You, too, contain an entire universe, and nobody else can see it unless you let them.
May 1, 2017Posted in: Debate
I should stress, though, that the Debate moderators were a part of the discussion and support the final decision.
Apr 22, 2017Posted in: Debate
The problem is that, as in Russian roulette, the only way to find out is to pull that trigger.Quote from Highroller »Is maintaining the status quo truly the most beneficial stance?
Would an escalation of conflict truly result in nuclear armageddon?
If Trump escalates and North Korea starts shooting, clearly Trump is a reckless and irresponsible leader.
But if Trump escalates and North Korea backs down, does that make Trump a foreign policy genius, or just a reckless and irresponsible leader who got lucky this time?
Apr 22, 2017North Korea's antics are North Korea's fault. Always.Posted in: Debate
But it's the responsibility of the US President and other world leaders to respond to those antics and keep them from boiling over into a shooting war. Trump is very capable of screwing that part up.
Apr 14, 2017Posted in: Philosophy
If you think this is the case, I would like to invite you to come gambling with me. We can bet on coin flips. I'll provide the coin. And I'll always bet on heads. But I'll let you go double or nothing for as long as you like. Hell, not even double or nothing -- I will wager my entire winnings on every flip no matter what you put up on your side. If you think there's no reason to treat the coin we flip as unfair, if you think there's always a chance you might win all your money back, surely this must sound like a great deal, right?Quote from AzureDuality »Your probability doesn't speak to those small chances though. Sure you could conclude that it's an unfair coin but you cannot really do that. You could be caught in the rare chance that it's all heads. There is no reason to treat it as unfair, you have no confidence to treat it so because you are stuck in that small probability event.
But if, over the course of this little game, you begin to feel a growing suspicion that you are being cheated -- that's your confidence in the coin's fairness falling. That's the result of all the empirical evidence you're observing. And it's a good thing. It's the rational thing. Nobody is going to look at a guy who lost all his money betting against a two-headed coin and think, "Oh, this is a wise fellow, I should listen to what he has to say concerning the deepest mysteries of life and existence."
Apr 11, 2017Posted in: Debate
The leaders of the American Revolution wrote the Supreme Court appointment process. They had an outright fetish for governmental procedure and the rule of law. The election of 1800 was the first time in modern history an elected head of state had been voted out of office, and despite the bitter partisan rivalry between Adams and Jefferson it went off without a hitch. So don't try to tell me that they'd be down with hijacking a Court seat.
...what? Whatever you think about that, it had nothing to do with an acquisition of political office. Are you just throwing out random grievances?
The name of the forum is "Debate". If you're not willing to explain your reasoning, what are you doing here?
It's not the job of local police officers to enforce federal laws.
If being a left-wing judge is bad enough to violate the Constitution over, why shouldn't being fascist be bad enough to impeach over? You were the one who introduced this notion that political ideology is a valid test for holding an office.
Apr 10, 2017Posted in: Debate
The Senate's constitutional duty is to provide "advice and consent" for presidential appointments. In not holding hearings or a vote for Garland the Senate failed to do this, and left one of the most important offices in the federal government empty for a year. This is unconscionable.Quote from zoboso »in sum the republican senators were not stealing the nomination, the senate controls the nomination.
Even if this is true, that doesn't make it right.Quote from zoboso »They did their job for their constituents, If the democrats were in the same position they'ds do the same thing
Apr 3, 2017Posted in: Debate
Yes. It was a reprehensible failure of the Senate to do its constitutional job.
(Assuming you mean "Gorsuch")
In less crazy times, Gorsuch would have been confirmed easily. (In 1986, Scalia was confirmed 98-0.) He is from everything I've seen an excellent judge and near-ideal candidate for the position in terms of qualifications, intelligence, and temperament -- honestly not the sort of person I expected Trump to nominate. Does he hold conservative political views? Yes. Of course. But that's how our democracy works. The American people decided that they wanted a conservative to be the guy picking the judges. So if the Democrats were trying to block Gorsuch simply on ideological grounds, I'd be... well, filled with a frustration of a weary and familiar sort, because it's the same thing that they tried to do to Roberts and Alito, and that the GOP tried to do to Sotomayor and Kagan, in this increasingly dysfunctional government of ours.
The stolen seat complicates matters, though. I have a lot more sympathy for Dems blocking a nominee who -- whatever his qualifications -- should never have been appointed. You never want to just let your opponent get away with a dirty trick like that. But on the other hand, that dirty trick represents yet another escalation in the dysfunction, and responding in kind makes it the new normal. I want that even less. And on practical grounds this does not seem like a smart battle to fight. What outcome do the Democrats expect here if they block Gorsuch? To see Trump re-nominate Garland, or nominate a pro-choice judge? That's never going to happen. It'd be hard for any plausible future nominee to be any better than Gorsuch, and they could easily be a lot worse. To keep the seat empty for another four years until a Democrat is in the White House? One year was outrageous enough; four would be a frank admission that the system is broken (and, of course, the Republicans could just do it back to them again). So in the end, galling as it is under the circumstances to give the Republicans what they wanted, I think the best move here is to confirm Gorsuch, take a baby step towards returning the judicial confirmation process to business as usual, and look for some less self-destructive way to make the GOP pay for their stunt.
Absolutely not. The President is the President until 12:00 PM ET on January 20th. He has all the powers of his office, including the power to appoint Supreme Court justices, and the Senate has the responsibility to review and vote on those appointments. What next? The President can't issue vetos during the last six months of a term? No executive orders in the last thirty days? No pardons for the last year and a half? If we say the President can't do something because at some point in the future there might be some other President who would do it differently, why even have a President at all?
Mar 28, 2017Posted in: Debate
I'm confused as to why you're condemning our system for this result and advocating a multiparty system instead when it is routine for presidents/prime ministers in multiparty systems to enter office with much smaller percentages of the vote than that. Yes, first-past-the-post elected a demagogue this time around, but there is nothing in first-past-the-post that makes it more vulnerable to demagogues and nothing in a multiparty system that insulates it from them. A multiparty system elected Hitler, after all, and with just 33% of the vote. If you had been a German in 1934, would you be condemning the multiparty system for the result and advocating for a switch to first-past-the-post? But fast-forward to today: the Federal Republic of Germany still uses a multiparty system, but instead of Hitler they've got the humane and highly competent Angela Merkel (who took office with 35% of the vote, by the way). And looking back at our own system, out of forty-five presidents, we've only elected one Trump. Empirically, both systems seem to have pretty good track records, but nevertheless are still capable of occasionally failing in the face of demagoguery and a populace willing to fall for it.
So while I appreciate that you have all-caps passion defending our current system, the voting system you are defending as necessary has put a fringe candidate with no qualifications into the White House. I despise the outcome First Past the Post has given us, the majority of Americans are not happy with what first past the post voting spat out of the Republican Primary, and while some others may think we should just put better people into that system, I feel that's a good reason to examine a new system.
So maybe take a step back and take an examination of your own reasoning here. Because, bluntly, all I see is sour grapes.
Walk me through the logic behind saying that big tent parties are worse echo chambers than small special-interest parties. Certainly the Communists I know who are willing to work with the Democrats are not nearly as batty as the Communists who only hang out with other Communists. Ditto Libertarians et al.
Yes, small parties have to form coalitions. Big parties are coalitions. And lest you complain that the coalitions are calcified by the two-party system, remember that Trump won by flipping traditionally Democratic states and demographics. It is as if, in a multiparty system, the Blue Collar White Guy Party defected from their traditional left-leaning coalition to form a government with the rightists. Only the decision was made at the individual level rather than the party level. Which actually seems more democratic to me.
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Mar 30, 2017Posted in: Debate
Not always. Most of the time she will ask the leader of the largest party to form a government. But if there is another hung parliament and no one will form a coalition with the largest party she will then look to see who can command the 'Confidence of the House' to form a parliament.
The same thing happens in Germany. Each of the leaders of the largest parties try to see if they can get enough extra seats to make a majority with the other parties and if the largest party can't do so then again they move down to the next largest party, and then the leader of that party is going to become Chancellor.
Feb 16, 2017Posted in: Debate
To be fair, the challenges so far have mostly been on narrow procedural matters, the exemption isn't explicitly for non-Muslims, and the law does give the president very broad authority over immigration. I do expect it to lose in the Supreme Court, especially with the precedent of Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, but there's just enough wiggle room there that I'm prepared for disappointment. Especially if Trump issues a "brand new" order which fixes the due process problems that, as Lithl said, make the current one particularly radioactive to judges.Quote from hyalapterouslemur »Seriously, though, the exception for non-Muslims makes it on its face unconstitutional. And thus far it hasn't survived any legal challenges.
He has said it is a Muslim ban, though. Of course, the law doesn't consider original intent.
I will say, his religious right supporters are going to be pissed if there isn't an exception for Christians.
When I objected to Obama's executive shenanigans, you would not believe how many liberals were like, "No, it's okay, because he's using this power for good!"Quote from hyalapterouslemur »And yes, challenging presidential power is a Good Thing. And I would say that regardless of who controlled which branches of government.
"You would not believe" is an empty idiom, by the way. I'm quite sure you do believe it.
But yeah, the power of the executive order has been ballooning for many administrations now. If there's any silver lining to Trump's excesses, it may be that they finally wake people up to the problem.
Yeah, I think pundits, politicians, and sundry pinheads use "is this constitutional?" when they want to backdoor-attack something. That's why both Bernie Sanders and every racist Southern Congressman from when Bernie Sanders was in college can invoke "states' rights" for gay marriage and segregation respectively. But democracy really only works if we have all these checks on power.
Right now, we don't. We're starting to see a few Senate Republicans grow a spine and challenge Trump (seven on the Puzder nomination), but it's been more the courts, the press, the scientists, and (surely a surprise to leftists) the intelligence community who have been challenging Trump.
Feb 16, 2017Posted in: DebateQuote from Smells_Better »"Legalized discrimination against Muslim" way to spin that one. I know some people don't like to admit it but there is a group of people in this world who have declared war on our culture. What harm can come from temporarily freezing immigration until we have a better system of seeing who is and isn't coming in our country? The presidents job is to protect the rights and well being of the AMERICAN people and if suspending an aliens entry is key to doing so, then he has every right to. As far as being unconstitutional, the Supreme Court will decide that. Unfortunately there are laws stating that he can and laws stating that he can't.
Take a step back. Look at the CDC's website for information regarding annual death tolls in America. Over 2.6 million people died in America last year alone. If we lost 100 people to terrorist attacks, its a drop in the bucket.
You'd save more lives focusing on gun violence (~33K) drunk driving (~10K) or heroin (~30K) This implies the travel ban is pretty much pointless. Its laughable, and actions like this makes people hate America more.
Feb 10, 2017Posted in: Debate
"This is not a safe parking lot" is not racist.
"This is not a safe parking lot, because people's cars are broken into regularly" is not racist.
"This is not a safe parking lot, because it's in a predominantly-black neighborhood" is racist.
You seem to be implying that race is not actually an indicator of whether you should feel afraid. That the local housing market (or more generally, income levels) is a better indicator of probability of crime. Is that accurate?
Jan 31, 2017Posted in: DebateQuote from MTGTCG »1. Markets would bring about common law.
2. Who wants to subscribe to a rights enforcement agency that supports bad people? The answer is bad people. There are more good people than bad people, so good REAs beat bad REAs. It's not that hard...
3. You would betray the cartel secretly.
Your central error is assuming that "governments" are some mystical non-human-produced force. Rich dudes amassing power and conquering people is how you get kings in the first place, which is a system of government. We started with anarchy everywhere, and now there are governments basically everywhere. You suggest that people will come together in organized resistance against people who are abusing their powers. You're correct, that's what governments are. That's what a police force is.
Clearly every group of people starts in anarchy and eventually results in governments forming. If you think this is a bad thing, then you have to admit anarchies DO tend towards bad things. You're caught in a contradiction.
Dec 30, 2016Posted in: Debate
It's the attitude that built this ******* country.Quote from DJK3654 »
I don't that's a helpful attitude you are expressing there.
You may have learned in social studies class that the Founding Fathers didn't build a democracy, or a kingdom, or a dictatorship. They founded a republic, specifically one built around checks and balances. Did you ever stop to consider why that was? It's because they subscribed to two key concepts:
1. Through intelligent, informed, rational thought, they could build a better society.
2. People cannot be relied upon to behave in intelligent, informed, rational, and benevolent ways.
That second part is important, and they knew this first hand. They understood completely how easily the government could slip into a tyranny that disenfranchises people because they were rebelling against a tyrant who disenfranchised them! Therefore, they didn't put one man in charge, nor did they build a democracy where the majority vote would hold all the power. They deliberately crafted their government so no one person or organization would hold too much power because they knew that human beings cannot be relied upon to make informed, intelligent, rational, benevolent decisions. They formed their government accordingly, making it as difficult as possible for any one person or group to take power, knowing all the while that the possibility of a demagogue taking power was always a risk that needed to be vigilantly watched for.
And that's what we all lost sight of. We were foolish enough to lose sight of just how irrational, illogical, and without judgment people truly are when it comes to matters of the state and individual liberty. We thought that something like President Trump would never happen because we assumed that "these things just don't happen here," that modern America was somehow special and exempt. But we ignored the fact that every single thing that is exceptional about America - and make no mistake, America truly is special - was earned as a result of the decisions, dedication, hard work, and extreme sacrifice of every person who came before us, starting from the Founding Fathers; to the people who nobly sacrificed so much, including the their own lives and the lives of their family members, in order that this nation would be liberated from Great Britain; all the way to the Civil Rights movement and the present day. We forgot just how deeply rooted racism in this country is, because we enjoy all of the benefits of the Civil Rights movement.
We made the mistake of assuming that all of the things we enjoy were things that we could enjoy without ever doing any actual work for them. We assumed that all of the benefits we enjoy from victories of the Founding Fathers, the civil rights movements of the modern day, and everyone in between were the products of battles that had already been fought, not battles that we ourselves needed to continue fighting. And we now see the results of such naive notions.
So no, it is not an unhelpful attitude, it is a ******* fact, and ignoring it is what got us here. Reality is reality, and does not give a ***** about anyone's attempts at denial.
But as stated, you're denying the idea that Trump supporters were in their own echo chamber.
The echo chamber in social media is not smear articles and polling. Its people all nodding their head in agreement on (all of the issues involved) repeating the same views back to each other (echo... echo..) because they've stomped out the opposing view, thus lead to believe nobody like Trump could get elected.
Which is extremely important because...
... Trump is openly all of those things. Trump's statements are openly all of those things. Trump's proposed policies are openly all of those things.Because that's racist. And that's sexist. And that's xenophobic.
The only way you could miss this is to be in an echo chamber.
We recently had a man open fire in a pizzeria because he believed a trending story on social media about a Democrat-run pedophilia ring - a conspiracy theory which has exactly zero validity and has been outright discredited by major news organizations.
And this is not the only false story that was circulated. This election will be defined by "fake news," which is a term I can't stand, because there's already a word for "fake news." It's "lying." You had deliberate lies all over social media claiming to be news articles, and people believed them despite ample evidence to the contrary. Multiple government agencies have outright stated that the Russians actually ran a propaganda campaign to influence our election, and yet people are still clinging to the validity of blatant lies.
Journalistic bias is absolutely a topic we should always been willing to discuss. But there is a mountain of difference between accusing someone of journalistic bias because they are biased, and dismissing someone due to perceived journalistic bias when they are pointing out actual facts because those facts go against your political views. Donald Trump ran a campaign of falsehoods, lied constantly, and the fact that he won indicates the willingness of people to completely ignore every single media source that told people that Trump was lying.
To clarify: that's not the news media trying to silence anybody. That's the news media actually doing its job.
You talk of being against echo chambers? Donald Trump's victory is the victory of the echo chamber.
Dec 20, 2016I'm pleasantly surprised as the smart, careful, and cordial posts on this, so let me add my two cents.Posted in: Debate
I'm a Leftist, and I've had good discussions with Trump voters. I love them, and I understand their emotions. I also believe they're being terribly conned at best, and, at worst, accessories to the greatest evil our country has ever seen in the form of an authoritarian, evil, and Neo Nazi adjacent cultural force.
But! I listen to them. I talk with them. I try to understand them, and, now and then, I change my mind on certain issues.
I'm a little religious, and I truly believe in loving all of humanity. I also believe in rejecting evil, forcefully.
You know that phrase, "kill them with kindness?" I believe that. I seek to "kill" the evil inside them with love, knowledge, care etc. They are our brothers in Christ, in country, in blood and in love, even as they are misled. Love the sinner, but hate the sin.
But one must hate the sin. One cannot fake moral equivalency that maybe Neo Nazis deserve legitimacy, or that racial slurs should be ignored. A peace built on injustice is immoral.
I will fight evil with whatever tools I can. Most of those tools are peaceful, and love-centric. God help us the day they aren't. But I will not let evil triumph.
Dec 20, 2016Posted in: MoviesQuote from Verbal »Quote from Raver »Quote from Jay13x »
Krennic doesn't really feel like the 'bad guy' in this film. He seems to only get yelled at, and I'm not entirely sure what he's doing on Scarif at the end, other than having a confrontation with the rebels.
Krennic was just a relatively small cog in the machine. That's what I enjoyed is that both sides felt real despite it being very much sci-fi, Krennic felt like that guy in upper management who isn't quite the CEO so he was still susceptible to being reprimanded by his superiors. Despite that, I have a modicum of respect for his character as he actually makes an effort to solve problems himself instead of delegating to someone below him. He goes to Galen's research facility personally to find the traitor and then upon learning Galen himself was the traitor made the trip to Scarif where archive of transmissions was held to review Galen's comms. It just so happens that the archives contains blueprints and other sensitive materials which the R1 team was after.
Tarkin and Leia were too uncanny valley for me. They should have kept those faces off-screen as much as possible, and we didn't need nearly as much Tarkin as we got (for instance, have him facing the window and just have the face as a reflection). Similarly, the archival footage they used for some pilots was a bit jarring, as the video/audio quality wasn't as good.
I get that perspective, but I personally liked them fully embracing the characters instead of doing more cameoesque appearances. I suppose it's a stylistic preference.
EVERYONE dying kind of sucked. I mean, it was kind-of expected, given any survivors would have been getting medals, too, but still.
Another stylistic choice I suppose. I really do enjoy that grittiness in my narratives.
I don't understand why the Empire destroyed Scarif. Aren't there a lot of plans there that they need? Over a few rebels, whose fleet they're already taking care of?
If I recall correctly, Tarkins ordered it because it killed two birds with one stone. He could wipe out the compromised base and kill Krennic to take over the Death Star because he learned Krennic was on the Scarif base at that time.
Tantive IV in the Rebel Flagship was a cool scene that didn't make much sense. There were other Corellian Corvettes in the fleet fighting, they just had it hiding? Once the high of that amazing third act wore off, this one fridge logic'd me.
Yeah I remember reading some uproar over how they handled that particular transition to New Hope. The best that I saw in attempting to explain it was that the ship was carrying diplomats (like Leia) and so that ship was kept as a dead man's switch of sorts where if the Empire destroyed that ship, it would cause an uproar and turn people against the Empire even more.
The Tantive bugged the hell out of me. You can achive the same narative end (the handoff of the plans) by having someone jump into an escape ship of whatever kind and jump to intercept Leia.
because otherwise them being above tatooine makes no sense. SW FTL doesn't require dropping out of hyperspace, so why are they above tatooine at all? Whereas if someone intercepted Leia while she was on her way to contact Kenobi, that kinda works. Plus claiming it as a diplmoatic mission when they damn well know you've just come from a massive space battle is...dumb at best.
Similarly bumping into 'death sentence in 12 systems' was kinda dumb, if they were meant to be the same two guys, because they have to leave Jedah more-or-less immediately and go to tatooine as well for...more or less no apparent reason...to be killed by obi like 4 days later.
They're above Tatooine because part 2 of the plan is to get Ben Kenobi's help.
Dec 16, 2016Kahedron posted a message on New evidence uncovered by the Washington Post puts scary new spin on the "Fake News" Crisis -- It really was Russia all alongPosted in: DebateQuote from Typho0nn »
*Daily mail is now "crap"... LOL!*
I take issue with only one word "now". It always has been and unless it has a radical restructuring it always will be a badly disguised propaganda rag designed to inflame a certain viewpoint. Back in the Thirtys they were unapologetic supporters of the Nazi's both in Germany and at home in Mosley's blackshirts. Not much has changed now with them hanging on the coat tails of both the Chinese and the Russians. They have earned there nickname of the Daily Fail several times over!
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