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Off the Record / Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Last post by alfred russel on Today at 09:09:34 pm »


Again the Cuman warriors in this game are a big plot point. If they don't count I hardly think a North African or Levantine would.

But I do not even know if the game goes to Prague.

I'm not an expert on the Cumans, but I suspect that a lot of the Cumans showing up in the relevant places during this era were from areas now considered european, and probably looked as much like the people that live there now as they did people from central asia.
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Off the Record / Re: TV/Movies Megathread
« Last post by mongers on Today at 09:09:19 pm »

.....

I don't think the real Donald Trump is that self-aware.

Yeah, he is his own cartoon.


As drawn by Gerald Scrafe:

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Off the Record / Re: TV/Movies Megathread
« Last post by Razgovory on Today at 09:04:16 pm »
Showtime started a cartoon about Donald Trump.  Essentially he's Homer Simpson which means he's a kinder, more articulate, more coherent, more intelligent and more sympathetic version of Donald Trump.  Also, he sound like Fred Flintstone. 

Take this line:   "Each and every one of you voted for me, and the ones who didn't, you kinda wanted to see what would happen."

I don't think the real Donald Trump is that self-aware.
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Off the Record / Re: TV/Movies Megathread
« Last post by mongers on Today at 08:57:53 pm »
Is 'Homeland' worth watching, as I caught the start of series 7 and am undecided; maybe I've missed too much already?  :D

I've seen seasons 3-5 which were pretty exciting. Kind of like a more realistic 24.

Thanks for that. :cheers:

I'll try watching a bit more and reading wiki for the back story ie seasons 1-6.
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Off the Record / Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Last post by Valmy on Today at 08:51:32 pm »
As the capital of the Holy Roman Empire during the later 14th century, it's possible that you might run into a diplomat or merchant that's from Africa or the Levant, however given that's pretty far inland that's going to be rather unlikely. A port city is a much more likely place to run into people of color in Europe at the time.

Again the Cuman warriors in this game are a big plot point. If they don't count I hardly think a North African or Levantine would.

But I do not even know if the game goes to Prague.
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Off the Record / Re: What does a TRUMP presidency look like?
« Last post by jimmy olsen on Today at 08:37:02 pm »
Fighting Russians abroad, while Trump does nothing to protect American democracy at home from Russian interference. For shame <_<

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-16/russia-attacked-u-s-troops-in-syria
Quote

Don't Be Fooled: Russia Attacked U.S. Troops in Syria

 Mattis gave Putin "plausible deniability" for a military assault that went badly awry. 

by
Eli Lake

If you've been listening just to the Kremlin and the Pentagon, you probably didn't know that Russia attacked American forces and their allies in Syria last week, suffering heavy casualties.

Yes, all sides admit that there was an incident at a U.S. base in Deir Ezzor. And that elements of the Syrian regime and Shiite militias participated in the assault. The Pentagon and Kremlin both acknowledge that Russian "mercenaries" participated, too. But the line for now is that those contractors had gone rogue, and Moscow didn't know anything about it.

When reporters asked U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis about the incident, he called the whole thing perplexing. "I have no idea why they would attack there, the forces were known to be there, obviously the Russians knew," he said. "We have always known that there are elements in this very complex battle space that the Russians did not have, I would call it, control of."

Now, it should be said that Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, is a very smart man. His perplexity in this case is probably what Plato called a "noble lie," a falsehood spoken by a leader to achieve a greater social good. If Mattis acknowledges the obvious -- that the Kremlin authorized a direct assault on a U.S.-sponsored base by non-uniformed personnel -- he risks an escalation spiral in Syria. Better to express bewilderment and give Russian President Vladimir Putin a chance to back down and deny culpability, which he ended up doing despite the heavy casualties suffered by his mercenaries.

But make no mistake: There is overwhelming evidence that those Russian contractors were working at the behest of the Kremlin. What's more, the Russians knew U.S. military personnel were in Deir Ezzor, which has been part of successive agreements to separate, or "deconflict," forces fighting in Syria.

Let's start with the fine reporting of my colleagues at Bloomberg News who discovered that the wounded mercenaries were flown out of Syria and treated at military hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

U.S. officials who monitor Syria tell me that there is no doubt that the Russian military knew all about the attack in Deir Ezzor. Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia during the Obama administration, told me Thursday: "Any Russian mercenaries, whether they are in Ukraine or Syria, work for the Russian government."

This is not an accident, particularly for the contractor in question, Wagner. One of its leaders, Dmitry Utkin, is a former lieutenant colonel in Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU. He and the firm have been closely tied to the oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef" because he owns the Kremlin's food-service providers.

Contractors like Wagner are a key part of Russia's broader strategy of "hybrid warfare," a mix of kinetic and information aggression to advance Russian interests -- such as the deployment of fighters without uniforms that helped take Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

"They help Russia obfuscate Russia's role in Syria," Matti Suomenaro, a researcher for the Institute for the Study of War told me this week. "In eastern Syria, the Russian Ministry of Defense can say, 'We don't know they were doing this.' But it's very likely this had some kind of direction from higher-ups in the Kremlin."

Finally, there is the strategic argument for why Russia would participate in the attack at Deir Ezzor. U.S. policy at the moment is a bit confusing. When Mattis and other U.S. officials publicly discuss the U.S. mission in Syria, they say only that it is to fight the Islamic State. So far, there is no official policy on whether the U.S. military's role includes countering Russian-Iranian efforts to help the Bashar al-Assad regime retake territory it lost in the civil war.

Add to this the mixed messages sent by the U.S. last month when it failed to stop Turkey from bombing the Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin. While the U.S. has attempted to end the Turkish assault through diplomacy, it has not offered to protect Kurdish fighters aligned with the People's Protection Group, or YPG, who remain in the city. The YPG are key U.S. partners in the campaign against the Islamic State. Indeed, Kurdish fighters stationed in Deir Ezzor in recent weeks have traveled to Afrin for the fighting, making the enclave a more attractive target for the Russo-Iranian alliance in Syria.

For a cynic like Putin, whose air force has bombed other enclaves of U.S.-supported rebels in Syria, the inability of the U.S. to stop a NATO ally, Turkey, from attacking another ally in Afrin is a sign of weakness. The assault last week on Deir Ezzor with mercenaries was a chance to again probe for a U.S. response.

The good news is that the U.S. response was swift and brutal. While there are no hard figures on casualties, some Russian press outlets reported that more than 200 Russian mercenaries were killed.

This brings us back to Mattis, and why he declined to directly blame Russia for the incident. "My guess is he said he was perplexed because he was sending a signal to the Russians: 'I am willing to give you a little time to cut this out, but don't do it again,'" Farkas told me. "And the Russians know they are playing with fire, if you look at how they are responding."

There is a downside, though, to this kind of noble lying. Considering that mercenaries like Wagner are a key part of Russia's broader strategy and tactics, it's also important for the U.S. to deny Moscow its plausible deniability. Russia needs to be told, going forward, that an attack by its mercenaries will be treated as an attack by its armed forces.   
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Off the Record / Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Last post by jimmy olsen on Today at 08:13:47 pm »
This "historical" RPG by this Gamergater developer has come out, Kingdom Come Deliverance.

It takes place in 14th century Bohemia, so the Rock Paper Shotgun reviewer immediately pointed out two glaring issues warranting "further discussion". One, is the lack of black people in the game, and secondly, the negative portrayal of Cumans in the game.

But that's not what really hit me in the head. But rather, this comment under the review:

Quote
The problem with this game being described as historically accurate is that it presents a historical theory to benefit its desired story / game style, as does all historical fiction. I’ve got no issue with historical inaccuracies in fiction – Braveheart for example is a great story despite its historical failings – but to describe it as accurate would be wrong.

This piece of entertainment shows a Bohemia with limited female roles and no PoC – this is an inherently conservative reading of the sources. That’s not bad history but would be strenuously argued by other historians – calling this ‘accurate’ gives the idea there is no such argument.

Qhy does this matter? Our cultures are based upon a foundation of our shared history. If that is distorted by the idea that (for example) women were never economic actors in their own right then it becomes harder to improve our culture to one of better equality


I am sorry but in what way does it help the equality of either women or persons of colour if we pretend that they have been enjoying equal rights (or even a presence) in medieval Europe as white males of noble birth?

To me that akin to trying to demonise the Nazis: in their case, you need the context of their humanity to truly grasp the horror they represent and the horror we must be vigilant to avoid as it can come back any time it is let to.

In case of medieval society, it should be emphasised how your birth and gender decided your fate in the caste system they had, precisely to point out the wrongs of that system.

As the capital of the Holy Roman Empire during the later 14th century, it's possible that you might run into a diplomat or merchant that's from Africa or the Levant, however given that's pretty far inland that's going to be rather unlikely. A port city is a much more likely place to run into people of color in Europe at the time.
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Off the Record / Re: Acts of Terrorism megathread
« Last post by jimmy olsen on Today at 07:44:18 pm »
I missed this somehow last year, and after a quick search it wasn't mentioned in this thread either.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14_October_2017_Mogadishu_bombings
Quote
On 14 October 2017, a massive blast caused by a truck bombing in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, killed at least 512 people and injured 316.[1] Another 62 people remain missing.

...

is also the third-deadliest act of terrorism in recorded history, surpassed only by the 2007 Yazidi communities bombings and the September 11 attacks in 2001.[
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Off the Record / Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Last post by Razgovory on Today at 07:40:37 pm »
I didn't think you had a father.  I always just assumed you crawled out of the primordial ooze.
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Off the Record / Re: Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics
« Last post by jimmy olsen on Today at 07:34:09 pm »
I bought a ticket to an event and I pay Korean taxes, how am I not financing it?

My bad.  I thought you were talking about the US team earlier.

Oh, well I was talking about the US team earlier.

When you said financing it my mind went to the Olympics in general rather than a specific team.
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