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Comment Re:Pierson's Puppeteers (Score 1) 221

It's a strange attitude to have, because it implies that everyone else should be trying to murder them to protect themselves.

Isn't that what we've been doing for most of human history? Family against family, clan against clan, tribe against tribe, village against village and so on for most of human existence?

Most of European history from the Greeks onward can be seen as some kind of action/reaction to this dynamic. Established civilizations expanding their territories for both economic accumulation but also attempting to build buffers against other expanding or migration civilizations that threaten their borders.

Roman history can easily be interpreted as a continuous defensive expansionism designed to check the destabilizing influence of Germanic migrations from the North and Parthians in the East from time of Marius all the way to Marcus Aurelius. Much of European history from the 7th century through the 12th century can be defined as action/reaction to Viking expansion, from then on attempts to fix borders against expanding Mongols and Islamic armies from the conquest of Hungary, the Crusades and through the Siege of Vienna.

You could argue that almost purely economic colonialism on the part of Europeans didn't even really start until the general borders of Europe were largely established and fortified and external threats were minimized in the 17th century and even then such expansion was motivated by political and territorial stalemates of a fairly established European states and borders. The "new worlds" were conquered for their economic value but this can easily be explained as defensive maneuvers to outflank their local European rivals as well.

And the European conflicts from the 100 Years War, 30 Years War, Spanish Armada, the Napoleonic Wars all the way through WW I and II are attempts to establish hegemony and secure borders within Europe itself.

It would seem that the entire course of human history can be interpreted as a series of conflicts designed to secure specific regions against outsiders who threaten territorial independence and economic security.

Comment Re:Who would have guessed? (Score 3, Interesting) 225

Government procurement contracts pretty much preclude the government obtaining goods and services on the open market. Instead it must rely to a large degree on contractors and vendors who have the capability of handling all the special paperwork and requirements.

So if you're on a procurement committee you don't have much choice. Once you discard the vendors who (a) can't absorb the amount of money to be spent on schedule and (b) jump through the statutory federal contractor hoops, what you're left with is a rogues gallery of usual suspects.

Comment I wish Excel had custom data types (Score 1) 319

And not just data formatting.

It would be nice to be able to define a data type and some rules and limits of progression.

I could see the value in defining an arbitrary data type that was comprised of a fixed set ("Apples", "Pears", "Oranges", "Bananas") with no progression (ie, no set member has precedence or rank) or perhaps some with progression or rank (fetus, infant, toddler, child, adolescent, adult, senior). Cells formatted as belonging to a data type would only accept those values as valid entries, and sorting would apply the set's rules of simple progression if there were any.

It might help for other numeric-based data types, such as IP addresses, where it would be helpful to define rules of progression around some kind of delimiter. If they could only add one new data type, I wish it was IP addresses.

There's probably complex ways of doing this with macro/scripting, but, they end up being complex and one of the main reasons so many people use Excel because it makes it trivial to manage lists. Trivial tasks that get made complex end up being done sloppy.

Comment Re:modus operandi doesnt seem to make any sense. (Score 2) 61

Or maybe russian hackers understand that US Media outlets actively collaborate and conspire with political campaigns during election seasons to control and direct dissent within the party and defuse potential scandalous or controversial events in an effort to ensure a positive return on their future investment.

I'd say that's just too conspiratorial. The Russians probably realize that the Times' editorial bias favors Clinton. The Russians aren't trying to aid Trump or necessarily defeat Clinton. What they probably want is to minimize Clinton's ability to command some kind of "mandate" sized victory and maintain the fractured domestic political structure.

A non-landslide victory by Clinton will be met with at least as much if not more obstructionism by Republicans and a level of continued division in the public. Distract and divide benefits the Russians because it keeps whoever runs the US from having the political capital to make bold steps.

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