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Comment Re:Neglect is more likely (Score 1) 102

Either that or there also wasn't any 'south vietnamese' government during the Vietnam police action, which was at the time heavily supported by the US, but just a conflict between North Vietnam and the US.

Nearly right. The "South Vietnamese" government was an illegal and illegitimate device conjured up by Washington to justify its violent intervention. There was a nation called Vietnam. After international talks, an election was scheduled for Vietnam. Washington decided that the Communists were certain to win the election, so it engineered a "rebellion" by a newly-invented entity called "South Vietnam". Insofar as it ever existed, South Vietnam must have seceded from Vietnam, just as Washington maintains Crimea wasn't allowed to secede from Ukraine.

Incidentally, lots of people are saying that the referendum through which Crimea returned to Russia was illegitimate. It's not often mentioned that, after the dissolution of the USSR in 1990, the people of Ukraine (including Crimea) were not consulted at all about the decision to declare a new nation called "Ukraine". If you consult the history books, you will find that there had NEVER before been a nation state called "Ukraine". It had always been part of Russia, except when it was conquered by the Turks or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

And the coup d'etat of 2014 which overthrew President Yanukovych was both violent and illegal - a fact which the present "acting" President Poroshenko has publicly admitted.

Comment Re: Huh? (Score 4, Interesting) 470

Thanks! If anyone is interested in reading a bit about the theory behind my point of view, the best place to start is David Graeber's magnificent "Debt: The First 5000 Years". You'll be chuckling within a few pages, and awed within the first 100.

You'll also be stunned at all the wrong beliefs that many people accept and take for granted. At the risk of further enraging those of other persuasions, I can reveal that one of Graeber's biggest ideas is that human beings naturally practice a form of "rough communism". Unless educated to do otherwise, we have a strong tendency to cooperate and help out. Here are a couple of choice extracts:

"After all, we do owe everything we are to others. This is simply true. The language we speak and even think in, our habits and opinions, the kind of food we like to eat, the knowledge that makes our lights switch on and toilets flush, even the style in which we carry out our gestures of defiance and rebellion against social conventions – all of this we learned from other people, most of them long dead. If we were to imagine what we owe them as a debt, it could only be infinite. The question is: Does it really make sense to think of this as a debt? After all, a debt is something that we could at least imagine paying back”.

“[Peter] Freuchen tells how one day, after coming home hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting expedition, he found one of the successful hunters dropping off several hundred pounds of meat. He thanked him. The man objected indignantly:
“’Up in our country, we are human!’ said the hunter. ‘And since we are human we help each other. We don’t like to hear anyone say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs’.
“The last line is something of an anthropological classic, and similar statements about the refusal to calculate credits and debits can be found throughout the anthropological literature on egalitarian hunting societies. Rather than seeing himself as human because he could make economic calculations, the hunter insisted that being truly human meant refusing to make such calculations, refusing to measure or remember who had given what to whom, for the precise reason that doing so would inevitably create a world where we began ‘comparing power with power, measuring, calculating’ and reducing each other to slaves or dogs through debt”.

Comment "Philosophy of the Gaps" (Score 2) 413

A lot of religious ideas and speculation can be explained by the "God of the Gaps" theory. That is, before human beings had acquired a worthwhile body of reliable scientific knowledge, interesting or scary things that were otherwise inexplicable were attributed to God. Like thunder and lightning, for instance. The more science has advanced, the more that kind of theological phenomenon has been squeezed out.

Much the same is true of philosophy. Since the Enlightenment or even before - say the time of Francis Bacon - science has been building up an increasingly large and fairly coherent body of reliable knowledge. That has irritated many philosophers, because the things they used to muse and pontificate about are now off limits - or, at least, explained by science to most people's satisfaction.

That's why, about a century ago, philosophy suffered an uncomfortable "fork". A lot of people who called themselves philosophers focused more and more tightly on an analysis of language and epistemology - for example, Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and a majority of 20th century British philosophers. Others saw this as an admission of defeat and confinement to mere analysis of words, and tried to aim higher. Karl Popper, for instance, tried to lay down rules for what scientists could, and could not, legitimately do.

So today, when they are so hemmed in by well-established scientific knowledge, some philosophers are delighted to find such promising topics as whether the universe is a simulation. It's not so very different from the preoccupation of the pre-Socratics who argued interminably about whether the world was ultimately made of water, air, earth, or the unknowable "apeiron". Not much progress, you might say; but then it's always been one of the delightful (or irritating, according to your temperament) aspects of philosophy that it never really comes to any final conclusions.

Comment We have the power (Score 1) 242

The remedy is in all our hands. Simply don't buy (or "buy") such products at all. The owners and managers of the corporations that sell them are in business for exactly one reason: to get as much of your money as quickly as possible, with an acceptably low risk of being imprisoned. (Technically known as "business").

If we all stopped buying Lexmark products we would soon be hearing less of this nonsense. And please don't tell me that all printer manufacturers (or even most of them) would join in solidarity with Lexmark. They are about as loyal to one another as a bunch of sharks.

"One thing more dangerous than getting between a grizzly sow and her cub is getting between a businessman and a dollar bill".
- Edward Abbey ("A Voice Crying in the Wilderness”)

Comment Re:Maps technology is lost... (Score 2) 158

You can never be sure how much of those effects is cultural, and how much is just plain old-fashioned stupidity. Back in 1976 or thereabouts I went into a shop in London (England) to buy an alarm clock/radio. Having found one I liked, with the added attraction of a 25% discount, I told a young shop assistant that I'd like to buy it.

The sticker price was £30, with a 25% discount. He got out a calculator, played around with it for a while, then announced that I had to pay £34.81. I had to call the manager to get it sorted out. The young fellow didn't understand that a discount meant "less", not "more". I'm not altogether convinced that he even understood that £34.81 was more than £30.

And I bet he never used a computer outside the store.

Comment Re:Surely not the only solution. (Score 1) 419

As I said in an earlier reply, it may entail some effort and spending a little money. In the scheme of things, buying a new sound card isn't necessarily a huge sacrifice. (Unless you are an aficionado and have a very expensive one, of course).

Another approach would be to buy a completely new computer specified for Linux from the ground up. It would be an investment, but how much money have most of us "invested" in computers to run various editions of Windows?

Comment Re:Surely not the only solution. (Score 2) 419

From now on I'll be running Windows in a virtual CPU I think.

The tipping point where it's worth getting everything I need working on Linux has arrived. I'm off to look for ScanSnap drivers.

Likewise! The interesting thing is that this may be true for a very large number of users. For years we have put up with sub-optimal results from successive editions of Windows, but because most of us have day jobs which are rather higher-priority, we lived with Windows as long as it sort-kinda worked.

But in the long term, or even the medium term - which Microsoft may be in the process of changing into the short term - we are going to be forced to change. Next time I want a new PC, which may not be for a year or two yet, I will probably go for one of the new AMD processors. As I have resolved never to "upgrade" beyond Windows 7, that will force me to go over to Linux as my standard everyday OS. There are no obstacles that I can't overcome with a few days of effort and a little (a very little) money. It's just that I never felt it was *quite* worth the effort or the money before.

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