macsnafu on December 20, 2010, 08:50:00 am
Geez.  It's a story, not a treatise.  Why not just sit back and let the story unfold?   It's the creator's job to focus on what he thinks is important.  If you don't like it, or think he is focusing on the wrong things, why not write your own story?
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

J Thomas on December 20, 2010, 09:11:46 am

He gets to say what kind of story he likes, and you get to use his advice however you want.

There are respectful ways to go into someone's home and criticize them and rude ways of doing it. You are incorrect. Jamesd did not say what he likes (i.e., "I prefer stories with more conflict/busty babes/spaceships"). Instead he went into lecture mode and made global pronouncements about what is boring, what is "honest," what is dramatic tension, etc. That is extremely disrespectful and confrontational. I would be more inclined to take that sort of shit from someone who actually knows about writing, someone in the trenches, writing and selling, but not from some envious, pompous, no-talent, tire-kicking, gas bag.

Sorry about that. Not only disrespectful and confrontational, but also aristotelian as opposed to Null-A. I interpreted his comments about what is in terms of what he likes since that's how it made sense to me.

Oh well. You do get to use his advice however you want.

jamesd on December 20, 2010, 05:20:01 pm
Oh you poor damaged little soul. Yes, there are bad people, but the world is dominated by good people or at least "good enough" people.

The argument that people are too wicked to rule others is considerably more persuasive than the argument that they are good enough to rule themselves, and the argument that governments are apt to do bad things considerably more persuasive than the argument that anarchists would not do bad things.

Plus, of course, good people with serious flaws, and evil people that are thoroughly evil, just make for a better story, regardless of whether such people are typical.  Your characters need to be wicked enough for dramatic tension, rather than good enough to make the imagined society benign, regardless of how good or evil real people are. 

jamesd on December 20, 2010, 05:42:32 pm
Geez.  It's a story, not a treatise.  Why not just sit back and let the story unfold? 

Because it is, in substantial part, a treatise and not a story.

I have minor ideological disagreements with Sandy about the likely shape of anarchism, my preferred and expected form of anarchism having a distinct touch of anarcho piratism, and I fear that anarchism will need more than a touch or anarcho piratism to deal with statists and pirates. I also think his ideology is adversely affecting his story - all the anarchists being more virtuous than all the non anarchists.  I think that anarchy needs to be able to work with anarchists that are no better, and sometimes worse, than statists.

My preferred form of anarchy works successfully with homo economicus, who is notoriously not a nice guy. 


jamesd on December 20, 2010, 06:15:54 pm
There are respectful ways to go into someone's home and criticize them and rude ways of doing it. You are incorrect. Jamesd did not say what he likes (i.e., "I prefer stories with more conflict/busty babes/spaceships"). Instead he went into lecture mode and made global pronouncements about what is boring, what is "honest," what is dramatic tension, etc. That is extremely disrespectful and confrontational
 I would be more inclined to take that sort of shit from someone who actually knows about writing, someone in the trenches, writing and selling, but not from some envious, pompous, no-talent, tire-kicking, gas bag.

It was not my intention to be disrespectful.

That character flaws make for more dramatic tension is indeed a preference that I should not have stated as a fact, and I apologize for doing so. That having wicked statists and virtuous anarchists looks like stacking the deck is as much a fact as the problems with the gravity.

Your gravity is wrong, in that people, except for one fight frame (out of two fight frames in the most recent story arc) and one introductory frame in a previous story arc, are acting as if in earth gravity.  I don't see how I could have phrased that more courteously than I did.  It is not that I prefer a different style of depicting low gravity, like one person preferring busty babes and another more realistically endowed babes. Your graphics really are inconsistent with the gravity stated in the story text.

A key question that people ask about anarchy is "Suppose anarchists do bad things?  Who will stop them"

To which there are two answers:  One is  "And who stops governments?", and then to point to all the bad things that police, politicians, and financial regulators do, and the other is to point to reputational enforcement.  We don't see Walmart security showing up on YouTube caught doing bad things, the way we see police showing up on YouTube caught doing bad things, and the reason is that Walmart security does not want to scare the customers. In order to illustrate the second answer, one needs to depict anarchists who are at least somewhat tempted to do bad things, but find that doing bad things in anarchy has consequences that government agents are unlikely to face when they do bad things, irrespective of whether characters who are tempted to bad things make for better drama.

quadibloc on December 20, 2010, 08:43:19 pm
The argument that people are too wicked to rule others is considerably more persuasive than the argument that they are good enough to rule themselves, and the argument that governments are apt to do bad things considerably more persuasive than the argument that anarchists would not do bad things.
Yes. And I have seen the "more persuasive" argument advanced quite a bit here.

And it certainly is true that governments can do bad things; bad things in the "worst nightmare" category. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and so on. I'd really like to avoid that.

But this is exactly why I'm not eager to jump on the AnCap bandwagon. What is the best way of avoiding that kind of thing?

Just saying "we've got a rule here, no government allowed", or having a different kind of government - one that isn't so bad, a "democracy" - and which does have the powers of taxation and conscription so that one's community, nation, or landmass is a more effective unit at putting up a fight against anyone who would try to impose that kind of regime on you?

One could, I suppose, see Stalin, Hitler, and Mao as hoaxes dreamed up by local politicians to make themselves seem necessary. Or that guerilla warfare by an armed citizenry would do the job - but while that does work against regimes that care about people (think of Gandhi in India), the Nazis and Communists weren't above mass reprisals and the like. Bombing bridges in Amsterdam seems preferable to the residents of Dubuque to hand-to-hand fighting in Dubuque.

I see real external crazy guys, who are much more frightening to me than, say, Barack Obama. Of course eternal vigilance is required of the citizenry to keep a future dictator from rising up. At the moment, though, it seems that nothing is going to prevent Americans from voting for Obama instead of, say, Sarah Palin in 2012. So the ability to exercise that vigilance has not been taken away from the American people.

J Thomas on December 20, 2010, 09:29:54 pm
I think that anarchy needs to be able to work with anarchists that are no better, and sometimes worse, than statists.

We are getting a look at how this particular anarchy deals with Morris, a not-very-particular not-very-good anarchist.


jamesd on December 21, 2010, 02:23:32 am
But this is exactly why I'm not eager to jump on the AnCap bandwagon. What is the best way of avoiding [bad deeds by governments]?

Just saying "we've got a rule here, no government allowed", or having a different kind of government - one that isn't so bad, a "democracy" - and which does have the powers of taxation and conscription so that one's community, nation, or landmass is a more effective unit at putting up a fight against anyone who would try to impose that kind of regime on you?

Government does not seem to me particularly effective against Islam.  People are in fact getting creeping Islamic rule imposed on them.  Government's effectiveness against communism is debatable - looks to me like communism collapsed in a domino effect following defeat in Afghanistan.  They were defeated by a non state enemy.  Since they ruled by fear, and one defeat greatly diminished that fear, one thing led to another, the domino effect.  Reagan helped, helped a lot, but other people were doing the heavy lifting.

Indeed one of the reasons I favor anarchism is that it looks to me that it has been effective against Islam.  Muslims were successfully imposing Sharia law on Cronulla beach.  A series of anti Muslim riots ensued, the Cronulla Beach riots, one of them almost a pogrom.  This quelled Muslim efforts, restoring peace between the communities, reminding Muslims that they are outside Dar al Islam.

Its plausible that government was vital to defeating communism.  I am not convinced, but it is plausible.  The events following 9/11 are a pretty clear indication that government is an obstacle to defeating Dar al Islam.  Over the last thousand years, successful and lasting governmental efforts to defeat Dar al Islam have relied very heavily on non state forces.  The last twelve hundred years, and the last ten years, suggest that government, or at least large scale government, is at best seldom very useful in defeating Dar al Islam, and at worst an obstacle.

Though I agree with you that an anarchic society as peaceful, non violent, gentle, and forgiving, as some in these forums hope and expect, would be rolled up by Muslims, communists, nazis, or all three, in about ten minutes

the Nazis and Communists weren't above mass reprisals and the like.

That did not help the Russians in Afghanistan, nor their proxies in Nicaragua.  While indiscriminate mass murder is useful and necessary in quelling guerrillas, it is not all powerful.  Systematic state terror and indiscriminate mass murder won the recent war in Ceylon against the Tamil Tigers, but it was no walk in the park.

I see real external crazy guys, who are much more frightening to me than, say, Barack Obama.

And what is Barack Obama doing about them?  Strata has an entertaining tale.

J Thomas on December 21, 2010, 03:09:58 am

Government's effectiveness against communism is debatable - looks to me like communism collapsed in a domino effect following defeat in Afghanistan.  They were defeated by a non state enemy.  Since they ruled by fear, and one defeat greatly diminished that fear, one thing led to another, the domino effect.  Reagan helped, helped a lot, but other people were doing the heavy lifting.

I'm not convinced that Reagan had much to do with it. He was good at taking credit, though.

The Afghan war looked like one big part of it. The Russians took more casualties than they were ready to accept for a cause they didn't believe in. The USA has it easier in a similar case, because we have better body armor and better emergency health care, and we don't take nearly so many casualties. Instead we spend great gobs of money that people don't notice much because China is picking up the tab, for now. US weapons made a difference fighting the Soviets, maybe a big difference. Could the Afghans have managed with only bootleg weapons bought by oil-rich muslims? I don't know.

I think Chernobyl may have had an even bigger effect. They had a great big nuclear accident and they lied about it. A whole lot of people decided that they couldn't trust the Soviet government with nuclear reactors.

Some people want to give the US government credit for that. We went in and sabotaged Chernobyl and it helped destroy the USSR. I tend to doubt that. "How do you know that the CIA was not behind Chernobyl?" "It blew up, didn't it?" When one government does something really stupid, you don't assume it was because some other government was real real smart, do you?

You can say that the Soviets ruled by fear, but I think that's mostly not the case. People tended to trust them. People believed the government was mostly doing an adequate job and they didn't want to do it themselves. There was fear, but for most people I doubt there was more fear than Americans have for the IRS. There's the possibility that the IRS might swoop down on you and audit your returns, and pick up on some little illegality you didn't know was wrong, and then put you through a year or so of legal trouble while you pay a tax lawyer, and then in the end you go to prison. And there's nothing you can do about it except keep your income simple -- if it's all wages and you don't get any money on the side you're probably safe. But most people don't lose a lot of sleep over it. They don't fear the US government even though the IRS could go after them and there's absolutely nothing they can do about it. They mostly accept that their government is the best government in the world. Wasn't it mostly that way in the USSR? The secret police will probably not bother you unless you do something wrong.

But I don't think we can trust the US government with nuclear reactors. Let's just not go there. We can't trust them to run reactors competently and we can't trust them not to misregulate reactors run by somebody else.

Of course people say that Chernobyl was a special case and nothing like that could ever happen again. The Soviet government was incompetent. Our government could never be incompetent like that. Our government is the best government in the world. Duh.

GeoModder on December 21, 2010, 09:47:10 am
But I don't think we can trust the US government with nuclear reactors. Let's just not go there. We can't trust them to run reactors competently and we can't trust them not to misregulate reactors run by somebody else.

Of course people say that Chernobyl was a special case and nothing like that could ever happen again. The Soviet government was incompetent. Our government could never be incompetent like that. Our government is the best government in the world. Duh.


3-mile island?  ;)

J Thomas on December 21, 2010, 10:51:42 am

Of course people say that Chernobyl was a special case and nothing like that could ever happen again. The Soviet government was incompetent. Our government could never be incompetent like that. Our government is the best government in the world. Duh.

3-mile island?  ;)

It has been argued on this very board that Three Mile Island was not actually very bad. Only a completely insignificant amount of radioactivity was released. It's impossible for us to have a significant accident because our safety procedures are so good that we can never do worse than Three Mile Island.

I have a story related to that. Around 20 years ago I read a story about how carefully they (yes, "They") design nuclear reactors and their containment. The story said they thought of every one-in-a-billion chance they could find and made sure it was handled. For example, they worked out what would happen if a fully-fueled fully-loaded 747 hit a reactor, and designed the containment so that the reactor would be completely unharmed. I remember I grumped about that. There were media reports about nuclear power plants sited very close to known earthquake fault lines, why didn't they deal with that? What's the chance a crashing 747 would happen to hit a nuclear reactor anyway? And then around 9 years ago, in the middle of the night on 9/14, I woke up and remembered the reactor story. Oh. Yeah. So whatever I say about them not foreseeing every possible accident, still at least once they did better than me.

GeoModder on December 21, 2010, 12:13:32 pm
My "Three Mile Island" was a mere ironic dig at your "USA government is the best" duh.
I fully realize it wasn't as bad as say Chernobyl, it's just the worst nuclear incident I remembered out of memory to happen in the USA.

But, reading the rest of your reply, I am curious at why the terrorists planning 9/11 didn't attempt to  crash an airliner in a nuclear facility. Sure, there are the reassurances of the nuclear community on the safety of reactors in the western world, but they (the 9/11 planners) didn't have to believe those to be true.

mellyrn on December 21, 2010, 12:36:50 pm
Quote
I am curious at why the terrorists planning 9/11 didn't attempt to  crash an airliner in a nuclear facility. Sure, there are the reassurances of the nuclear community on the safety of reactors in the western world, but they (the 9/11 planners) didn't have to believe those to be true.

Or all four.  Indian Point is just upriver from NYC, and the official flight paths of 3 of the planes pass within minutes of right overhead.  A reactor might be hardened against one, but three, bang-bang-bang?  I wonder about that one, too.

SandySandfort on December 21, 2010, 03:45:34 pm
A reactor might be hardened against one, but three, bang-bang-bang?  I wonder about that one, too.

The purpose of terrorism is to create terror, not to do damage, per se. Collapsing buildings are a lot more photogenic than a cracked reactor and lingering deaths from radiation. A better question might be, who are the terrorists responsible for the fall of the towers? I do not have an answer or even a strong guess, but the official story smells to high heaven.

J Thomas on December 21, 2010, 05:06:36 pm

I am curious at why the terrorists planning 9/11 didn't attempt to  crash an airliner in a nuclear facility. Sure, there are the reassurances of the nuclear community on the safety of reactors in the western world, but they (the 9/11 planners) didn't have to believe those to be true.

I can guess about that.

My first guess is that whoever planned it, wanted a great big symbol but did not actually want to damage the USA much materially. Presumably they believed along with everybody else that the WTC would not actually fall but would be left with a couple of big holes in visible buildings to remind everybody of the attack for a long time.

Al Qaeda had already attacked the WTC once, on the justification that the USA was running a sort of colonial empire, and US stockbrokers in the WTC were central to running it. So the WTC was a natural target this time -- either because they still believed the same, or because someone else wanted us to think it was them.

However, a US counterintelligence report claimed that AQ did indeed have teams hidden in the USA prepared to do not 4 attacks but 80 attacks. Only 4 attacks were actually carried out because nobody else got the message. The other teams were still waiting when the US rounded them up and interrogated them. Why would AQ sacrifice 76 teams for no purpose when they activated only 4 teams?

What makes sense to me, if we accept this story, is that AQ had 80 attacks planned, and intended to use them as retaliation for some awful atrocity that we might do. They were supposed to wait for that possibility, and if/when we did something really horrible then they would launch 80 air attacks against US targets, possibly including nuclear power plants, and announce they did it in retaliation for our action.

But somehow 4 of them were started without AQ planning it. Either they had a communications accident that sent off 4 teams when the rest of the organization had no clue what was happening, or somebody else broke into their communications and launched 4 teams while AQ did not know.

In that case it could have been sheer accident which 4 missions got launched. The US interrogations would have found out what others were targeted but presumably it's now a US secret. Or somebody else chose those particular missions to maximise US horror without reducing our ability to react.

Doesn't it seem plausible that the US government could release the secrets we found out about AQ from 9 years ago? Chances are they do not reveal anything important about AQ today. Does it help the US to keep those things secret today? I don't know. I don't know how to find out. They're secret.